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Does being a student newspaper at a small college mean that we must confine ourselves to student issues? Or does it mean that we can serve as a platform for all stakeholders in our community despite our limited student perspective?
In this issue, we tried to answer this question, using the ongoing workforce planning process as the motivation to dedicate most of the paper to college staff. The front page features a story explaining the workforce planning process and the effect it has had on the people who have shaped their lives around the work they do at the college and the paychecks they receive from it. If you flip through the sections, you will also find stories about Zamboni drivers and academic coordinators, as well as staff wages and job satisfaction.
This week’s focus is overdue. We recognize that in the past, our paper has not actively sought out participation from members of the community, especially staff members whose presence is not always as visible as that of our professors and administrators, who we are more likely to engage with on a regular basis. But we hope this issue will serve as a turning point for our paper as we step up our efforts to incorporate the voices of community members who don’t have the same kind of access that we have to a student newspaper.
To any staff who have picked up a copy of our paper this week, we hope you find our coverage to be a step in the right direction. But if there are other issues or stories that you think deserve to be covered in our community newspaper, we encourage you to reach out: email us at email@example.com or send us an anonymous tip at middleburycampus.com/tips. Thank you.
At The Campus, we’re always looking for ways to involve the broader college community more closely in our coverage. We’re excited to announce the creation of a new tipline on our website, that allows readers to anonymously suggest stories for us to look into. The tipline can be accessed at go/campustips, or by clicking the “News Tips” tab on our website, middleburycampus.com.
We recognize that our editorial board is limited in number, so we represent only a small fraction of the students, faculty, staff and town residents that make up the Middlebury community. We need your help to tell us about the issues, events and important conversations that deserve to be covered in our newspaper.
In the past, informal tips have been an essential way for us to discover important subjects that would have otherwise gone uncovered. The life and death of former college employee Suad Teocanin, which we wrote about in a feature story last month, was only brought to our attention after a Middlebury alumna emailed us over the summer and urged us to write about him. We hope that by making the tipping process more accessible, readers can alert us to more things that fall within our blind spots as student journalists. As issues like workforce planning become more prevalent, we need your help to tell this community’s stories.
At a small college like Middlebury, we recognize that it can be difficult to speak candidly about events and people to which we feel connected personally. While we encourage readers to include their contact information with tips, we also hope that the option of anonymity will relieve some of that pressure. We can’t wait to hear what you have to share.
Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer is liaison to the Anderson Freeman Center, the Arabic Department, the Comparative Literature Program, the Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies (GSFS) Program, the Language Schools, the Linguistics Program, and the Department of Spanish & Portuguese.
“Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey” is a graphic novel and memoir that tells the story of Ozge Samanci. The second daughter of two teachers, Samanci’s work recounts her growing up in Izmir, Turkey and how she became a cartoonist. Pulling in her country’s political tensions during the late 20th century, Samanci shows the many ways in which nationalistic regimes, militaristic propaganda and religious ideals can stifle secular and liberal minds.
As Samanci tries to please her parents, map a path to a stable future and indulge her creativity, she encounters academic discipline, failing grades and crumbling self-esteem. She knows that she is artistic, but how will she pursue a career that will allow her to pay her bills? While her mother is optimistic, her father makes it clear that her whimsical plans of studying anything but engineering simply won’t do.
I saw this book in another university library in Los Angeles and both the title and the cover art drew me in. The title caused me to start thinking about the ways I have been a disappointment. My grandfather, for example, asked me to study medicine, something I had never expressed interest in. And my father didn’t think creative writing, one of my majors, would be terribly lucrative. (So far, he was right. ;)) I think a more productive conversation would have centered the question, “Katrina, what do you enjoy, what are you good at and how can you shape a career around your talents?” I’m sure many readers of this column are asking themselves just that.
The work is both a “bildungsroman,” or a “coming of age novel,” and a memoir. For other memoirs that include characters surrounded by less-than-desirable circumstances and descriptions of how they beat the odds, see one of my all-time favorites Angela’s Ashes (Davis Family Library E184.I6 M117 1996) by Frank McCourt, which engages Ireland and poverty, or comedian Tiffany Haddish’s recent release The Last Black Unicorn (General Browsing-Davis Family Library PN2287.H144 A3 2017), which speaks of how she navigated her life in years of foster care.
This is the question we have been asking ourselves since we assumed these roles last spring.
The Campus is unique. We are a weekly paper, run 100 percent by students. In many ways, we are the college’s journalism program, where students teach students. While we would not change a thing, this makes us prone to mistakes — we learn on the job.
It is important to recognize our own limitations. We are not the New York Times, nor do we wish or strive to be. Our Arts writers are not interested in tearing down the work of student performers. Sports reporters do not file 1,000-word diatribes on a player’s failure to perform at a certain level. And we do not see Old Chapel as our version of the Trump Administration.
We see ourselves first and foremost as a community newspaper. If we are to succeed, The Campus must be an active stakeholder in the broader Middlebury community, working to inform, and tell the stories of, its readers. We are not stenographers or cheerleaders, but journalists working to capture and understand what life is like here in this moment.
Our goal: if someone were to open up the pages of this paper 50 years from now, they would be able to take an accurate glimpse into what students, faculty and staff were thinking, feeling and doing at that time. We accomplish this by telling both the good and bad at Middlebury.
Like all journalists should, we believe our role here is to hold those in power accountable for their actions. When administrators go back on their word or the Student Government Association passes resolutions that do not serve the interests of students, it is our job to ask the tough questions, spend time understanding the history of the institutions and, yes, be adversarial when need be.
However, it is also important that we recognize the role The Campus plays as one of the largest and oldest student groups on campus. We as editors should not sit in our office and type stories about a community from which we have detached ourselves. On the contrary, when it fits our mission, we are willing and able to be a partner and participate in initiatives that bolster dialogue and community building on campus.
We recognize that our position atop this masthead is fleeting. After this issue, we will go to press a mere 24 times this year; considering the 218-year history of the institution, and the 113-year history of this paper, that ain’t a lot.
This paper is more than just those who write for and edit it. The Middlebury Campus holds meaning for many people: those who read, submit op-eds, respond to our emails and share their stories, and especially those who have written, are writing, and will write in its pages.
As temporary stewards of this paper, we will strive to be fair, accurate, collaborative, committed and unrelenting over the coming months, to be a paper worthy of this community.
On Friday, Dec. 1, Addison County Transit Resources (ACTR) published a renovated shuttle bus schedule as a result of the relocation of the Middlebury Transit Hub from Merchant’s Row to Academy Street near Twilight Hall. The hub change became necessary because of the downtown Middlebury bridge construction, but the new location should make the bus services more accessible to students at the college.
“I am very excited to share with you the launch of renovated and revamped ACTR bus services, so that you can get where you need to go with more ease!” SGA President Jin Sohn ’18 said in her email announcing the changes to students.
The Middlebury Shuttle Bus (MSB) College Shuttle, a fare-free mode of transportation, will now offer frequent service at ADK, Axinn@McCullough and Freeman Way, according to Sohn. The Academy Street Hub also provides passenger shelter so that commuters will have protection from the elements, especially in the upcoming winter months.
“The boon of these necessary changes is improved connectivity for the college campus,” Mary-Claire Crogan, community relations manager for ACTR, said. “Campus riders now have direct access to every route from Twilight Hall.”
Crogan shared that last year, she worked with some members of the SGA in addressing climate change through public transit. Together they addressed potential campus stops that could be used to reach desirable locations around Middlebury for students. The new stop at Axinn@McCullough is a result of these collaborations, according to Crogan.
“The SGA helps to cover some of the costs for the ACTR services through a grant dedicated to sustainable transportation initiatives,” Sohn said.
Crogan noted that there were conversations about the new Academy Street hub with the SGA as well, but that the move was really part of larger town and state affairs, in which various officials and community members worked together to make the decisions.
According to Crogan, the new hub does present some challenges. For example, there were concerns about walkability for physically impaired riders and for the schedules and transfers that would be affected by the new location. However, since the summer, ACTR and the town of Middlebury have been working to alleviate these concerns.
“The town relieved walkability concerns by permitting new stops at the Post Office that can be used to access downtown locations and the new hub,” Crogan explained. “Staff worked all summer testing new pathways, looking for efficiencies and rewriting timetables. We found creative ways to keep the in-town buses pulsing with the same frequency.”
Since the launch of the new schedule last Friday, the system has been running smoothly. New Main Street stops maintain bus accessibility for commuters around North Pleasant Street or anyone looking to access downtown services. Crogan said that the new Academy Street hub has had the largest impact on the Tri-Town Bristol and Vergennes routes, the riders of which will now have slightly longer trips.
Although she is unable to predict how much these changes will increase student bus usage, Crogan thinks the incentives for using the new system will appeal to students at the college.
“Many members of the college community say they are concerned about the effect of carbon on the environment,” she said. “Riding the bus is a small change a person can make with a significant climate impact.”
Sohn believes that the new system will increase ridership of Middlebury students, especially since the flexibility and number of stops have increased on campus.
“I also expect this service to be especially helpful to students who travel to town(s) often or live off-campus, and for students who need transportation accommodations,” Sohn said. “The ACTR buses are wheelchair accessible and ADA-compliant, both very important factors.”
Crogan highlighted the ways in which the bus system can work to connect students at the college with the greater Middlebury and state communities as well. For example, it can make students aware of local events and places that will diversify their Vermont experience and expose them to communities in the state. Additionally, by using the ACTR system, students help to maintain its funding and existence for the larger community.
“‘Transportation for everyone’ is written on the side of every ACTR bus, and that is absolutely true. Students using transit share the ride with members of the community from every age and socioeconomic background,” Crogan said.
Sohn agreed that increased opportunities for students to explore beyond the college bubble will likely lead to increased interactions with the outside community.
“I think it will be important to see to what extent these interactions happen and how we can find ways to create similar opportunities to promote stronger community relations in other sectors on and off campus as well,” Sohn said.
Both Sohn and Crogan emphasized some key elements of the ACTR bus system that students may not be aware of. These include that there is no cost to ride to destinations in the town of Middlebury, that buses will pull over at any safe location to pick up passengers who wave, that the MSB Hospital bus now serves Porter ExpressCare and that the Snow Bowl shuttle is fare-free for Middlebury College students.
According to ACTR, there will be new signs, new schedule brochures and updated website information to reflect these changes. Additionally, riders can call 388-ACTR(2287) with any remaining questions.
The anticipated 10th year of Middlebury’s Chili Fest has been squashed, as the Better Middlebury Partnership (BMP) announced the difficult decision to temporarily suspend the celebratory event and replace it with a new “Winter Fest” this year instead.
Karen Duguay, marketing director of BMP, cited the installation of temporary bridges and the feedback the event organizers had received from vendors as the main factors in this decision. She explained that the temporary bridges have resulted in steeper hills and a narrow roadway, which is not conducive to setting up tents and tables.
“I think that the start of construction has caused some nervousness among restaurants and shop owners. The more we can all support those businesses, now and throughout the project, the better!” Duguay said.
According to Duguay, Chili Fest vendors have reported feeling burned out by the event. Although fun and conducive to community building, the event requires extensive time and financial commitments from local restaurant competitors year after year.
“Without vendors who can make a lot of chili and staff their booths, we really don’t have an event,” Duguay commented. “We’ll figure out if it’s an event that can come back based on the downtown landscape and the feelings of restaurants and other vendors.”
Since announcing the temporary suspension of the event, organizers of BMP have received some disappointed responses. They hope to respond to the complaints with Winter Fest in February and another new event in April.
“People are understandably disappointed. It’s such a fun annual event in Middlebury with the streets closed off and everyone out enjoying chili, music and friends,” Duguay said. “We’re planning to host a block party in April to try and retain some of those things we all loved, but in a more local-to-Middlebury way, versus the Chili Fest that has had a more statewide appeal.”
Before April, disheartened chili-eaters will also have the opportunity to celebrate the inaugural Winter Fest that will serve as a replacement for Chili Fest on Saturday, Feb. 24, from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. This new celebration will consist of things like skating, snow sculpture contests for teams, obstacle courses, nature walks, relay races, food, music, snowman building and more, according to Duguay. After Winter Fest, which will be held at Middlebury’s Recreation Park, there will be a pub crawl with food and beverages from local restaurants.
“Winter Fest will be a celebration of all things winter in Middlebury. … Our intention for Winter Fest is that it becomes an event that can hold different [types of] appeal to everyone,” said Duguay.
The marketing director explained further that the daytime events of Winter Fest are targeted mostly toward families, while the evening pub crawl should appeal to adults. When the event starts to grow, the organizers will expand the festivities to span over a few days and make the crowd base larger. The Middlebury Winter Fest is modeled on a Winter Fest in Rutland that is several days long, according to Duguay.
Although Winter Fest promises success, there is still hope for the return of the Chili Fest in later years when participants and organizers are ready to take on the added festivities. The current event organizers will need committed people to help them plan the event if it is to be brought back, and the restaurants and vendors will have to be willing and excited to participate as well.
“I’m hoping that taking a break from the event will let everyone recharge and then be more energized for it when the construction is over,” Duguay commented.
For anyone eager for a winter community event in the near future, Duguay noted that Midd Night Stroll will take place on Thursday, Dec. 7, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. This night includes shopping with discounts, pop-ups and free tastings, and typically brings college students together with the rest of the community.
Duguay notes that the Middlebury community relies on college students. BMP can always use the help of students in planning special events like Chili Fest or Winter Fest and in fostering community development in general.
“I think the most important thing that college students can do is [to] support local businesses,” Duguay said.
Last month, Gov. Phil Scott annouLast month, Gov. Phil Scott announced the launch of “Think Vermont,” a new campaign aimed at bringing in more people and businesses and improving the state’s economy. The marketing plan will work to shift the state’s current demographic trends to ensure that individuals and businesses will stay and remain successful here.
According to Elaine Sopchak, project manager for Think Vermont, the Agency of Commerce and Community Development worked with a consultant to develop the marketing plan, of which the website is the first step. She explained that they needed a home to which people could refer when they saw advertisements or information about Vermont — that home is found at ThinkVermont.com. Now that the website is complete, they are working to actually implement the marketing plan. In the future, the campaign will also involve things like events, print advertising and social media.
“The point of the Think Vermont campaign in general is to improve the economic landscape in Vermont,” Sopchak said. “We are hoping to encourage businesses to expand [to], or open [in], or relocate to, Vermont, and we’re encouraging folks to relocate to Vermont and stay in Vermont.”
The main tabs on the ThinkVermont.com read “Live in Vermont,” “Grow Your Business,” “Work,” “Play,” “Connect With Us” and “Newsroom,” each with information highlighting Vermont’s uniqueness and benefits for residents and potential residents. The website and the campaign place a strong emphasis on the scale of the state as a benefit to its residents.
“The scale is very special,” Sopchak commented. “We have a small population; therefore, it is an opportunity for you to interact with the people that you elect in a way that you can’t possibly do in most states. … We wanted to emphasize that the people who are in certain public services in Vermont are accessible and really eager to help.”
The project manager cited the Department of Economic Development as an example of this tendency, explaining that its staff members are visiting businesses, cities and towns every day, making themselves and their services available. ThinkVermont.com also works to make connections with elected and appointed officials accessible to all. The “Connect With Us” tab provides lists of useful contact information, including official state business contacts and contacts and leaders from a variety of industries.
A slide on the home page of the website reads, “Your U.S. Senator chats with you while you’re in line at the local hardware store. The governor drives a race car at the local speedway. And everyone here knows someone who knows someone …”. This slide is emblematic of the closeness and tight-knit communities of the state that the campaign hopes to bring to light.
“People’s own networks can expand significantly by virtue of the fact that our communities are small,” Sopchak said.
Think Vermont works to reach the people who have a little bit of an affinity for the state already, be it through a family vacation here or because they attended college in Vermont. Sopchak shared that she finds that the extensive community in Vermont appeals to students who are graduating, since they can do big things without being lost in an anonymous city. The state’s large philanthropic and nonprofit community also seems to draw recent graduates in.
“I’m realizing that young people are really attuned to thinking with their values, and they want to live in a place that values social justice, access to food and affordability. … We do a lot of work all over the state in those areas, and I think that appeals to younger folks.”
Sopchak also noted that Vermont’s “high quality of life,” emphasized in the campaign, aligns well with some of these values that could not exist in a big corporation in a big city.
“Also, there’s a lot of room for entrepreneurship here, so it’s a good atmosphere for young people trying to start their own business,” she said.
Think Vermont highlights the state’s efforts to maintain positive businesses and a clean environment alongside happy lifestyles.
“We’re walking a balance between creating a quality of life, ... having a clean environment, and providing an atmosphere where businesses can thrive,” Sopchak added.
Now that the website is launched, this initiative will continue to grow and address different elements of the state. Sopchak explained that right now, Think Vermont is an awareness campaign, but that over time, its messages will be refined as the campaign’s designers decide what it is they are hoping to accomplish.
“It’s sort of new ground for us because the state of Vermont has not traditionally done a great deal of marketing about itself. So we’re excited to be telling stories about Vermont and about successful Vermonters and about our 251 communities … because our quality of life can’t be beat.”
Visit ThinkVermont.com to see more and learn about the additional initiatives of the campaign.
On Thursday, Oct. 19, Target announced its plans to open a store at the University Mall on Dorset Street in South Burlington, making Vermont the long-awaited final state to host the retailer. This new opening reflects Target’s national efforts to build stores with a smaller format in urban and suburban areas. The retailer hopes to operate over 130 of these small-format stores by the end of 2019.
The South Burlington Target will replace Bon-Ton, a department store that made the decision to shut down its business when its lease expires on January 31.
Heather Tremblay, general manager at the University Mall, explained that they had known that the Bon-Ton lease would be coming to an end this January and started looking for other tenants to take its place.
“We’ve been talking to Target for many, many years, and we finally both clicked because they have a smaller version of their store that they’re doing now… which is 60,000 square feet, and that’s exactly what the Bon-Ton space is,” Tremblay said.
Vermonters have been asking for this store for a long time, and the University Mall is glad to finally give it to them.
“It’s definitely going to bring more traffic,” Tremblay said. “Over the years, a lot of people have asked for a Target here. It’s been the number-one requested store.”
According to Tremblay, after initially reaching out to Target, there were a few months of back-and-forth between the mall and the retailer as they tried to negotiate a lease. They finalized the deal recently. People at Target and at the University Mall are excited about this new opening, and reactions from other Vermonters have reflected this excitement as well.
“The Vermont store, located at 155 Dorset St., will provide neighboring residents and University of Vermont students in the Burlington area with a quick-trip shopping experience with a curated assortment mix,” read the Target press release.
About 42 Bon-Ton employees will be affected by the department store’s closing. Target has announced that it plans to employ approximately 75 people at its Vermont location. Target also recently announced that it will increase the hourly minimum wage to $11 for all employees, with a commitment to further increase it to $15 by the end of 2020. The new store will sell things like groceries, clothing, home goods and health and beauty products.
“I think Target is a little more upscale, it’s funky and fun, it’s more fashion-forward for a department store like that, so hopefully it will attract new and different shoppers who will also shop at some of the other stores in our mall,” Tremblay commented.
Although the Target will bring some competition to the already existent smaller stores at the University Mall, it is still expected to benefit all of the retailers and the mall overall. Tremblay expects that hosting a Target store will make it easier to lease space to other tenants throughout the facility.
“People want to be next to Target,” she said. “People will want to take advantage of all of the foot traffic coming in, so the whole mall will be strengthened.”
Gov. Phil Scott has expressed his support for Target as a boost to the state’s economy, and Tremblay emphasized that the mall really has not received any negative reactions, even from smaller stores.
“The reactions have been great, my phone has been ringing off the hook, I have been getting positive emails from everyone I know, the stores are all thrilled — we have really only heard good things,” she said.
Before Target can open next October, the University Mall is replacing the roof, adding new heating and ventilation units and making adjustments to the parking lot in preparation for the new retailer. While that is happening, Target will undergo a time-consuming permitting process. They will then begin construction once the space opens up so that they will be ready for business in October.
Although the University Mall, its retailers and its neighbors have expressed largely positive feedback, Vermonters on the whole have had slightly varied reactions to the pros and cons of this news. For example, some have expressed concern about the potentially negative consequences for other stores and their employees.
“I’m afraid that this just might prompt Sears to close yet another store, and perhaps Bon-Ton, Kohl’s, and [JCPenney] will be right behind Sears, leaving a whole lot more people out of jobs than Target will provide,” Sandra Dahl commented on the Burlington Free Press report. “Can they coexist? I doubt it.”
A comment on Vermont Public Radio’s report denoted additional concerns: “I wouldn’t get too excited, Governor, about corporate retailers that bring a handful of jobs and siphon profits out-of-state to their corporate headquarters. Not to mention the small family businesses that might be hurt trying to compete with a multi-national corporation,” Michael Breyette wrote.
Another negative comment from “Rob, Portland” in the Vermont Public Radio post read, “More useless, bland big-box stores that peddle cheap, tainted foreign goods. No benefit to American citizens and workers whatsoever.”
However, certainly not all public commentary has been negative, and Vermonters largely reflect the excitement and positivity that Tremblay spoke of. One such Vermonter is Barbara Alsop, who wrote in response to a Seven Days VT article, “Target may actually save the mall, which would be a good thing, given that South Burlington has moved its library there. Like many, I haven’t found a reason to go to the mall for years. This I might check out.”
“Target brings many unique and affordable products that would not previously have been available lo- cally and which most people would otherwise seek out online,” Common- SenseDem wrote on a Vermont Pub- lic Radio article. “And in shopping at Target instead, you provide local em- ployment, and Target donates time and money to the community. Seems like a net positive to me.”
Whatever the reaction, Target’s announcement created a stir in Ver- mont, and NPR’s report was sure to point out that the announcement qualified as “breaking news” in the state. A Vermont Public Radio Face- book post on Oct. 19 said, “This is not a drill,” in response to the Target news. The announcement is not a drill, and eager Vermonters will have to wait a year to reap the benefits and see the effects of this momentous store opening.
At Middlebury College, students pursuing education degrees are not encouraged to “teach for America,” but rather to “teach for real,” according to Tracy Weston, an assistant professor in the education department.
Students who are interested in obtaining a Vermont teaching licensure at the end of their studies will complete a professional semester through the college, during which they practice student teaching in local schools.
Required coursework precedes the student teaching program. Aspiring student teachers must take several courses: Education in the USA, Culturally Relevant Pedagogy, Models of Inclusive Education and at least two psychology courses.
“We’re trying to have all of those courses complete as a solid foundation in advance of our students moving onto the ‘methods of teaching’ classes where students learn how to teach specific topics in schools,” Weston said.
These methods courses are taken as a sequence throughout the fall, winter and spring during the final full year that students are at Middlebury and not yet student teaching. About half of the education students at Middlebury take these methods courses during their junior year and student teach during the fall of their senior year. The other half take the methods courses senior year and return to student teach for a ninth semester after they graduate.
During these methods courses, Middlebury students start to work with the kids and teachers in local schools at some point during their class time.
Irene Margiotta ’19 is in this stage of her licensure program this fall, spending two days a week at the high school before she student teaches full time during the fall of her senior year.
“What I’m doing right now is new,” Margiotta said. “They wanted to start to introduce the college students to the schools and the schools to the college students a little earlier.”
Middlebury’s education studies program aims to teach students how to plan a lesson, how to find resources, how to connect with valuable community members and importantly, how to have “difficult and important conversations with young people,” Weston said.
She cited projects that focused on agency and racial inequity, about which Middlebury students could converse with their young students in the classroom. Weston noted that in her experiences, these are topics that Middlebury students tend to feel strongly about, which gives them emotional connections to their work with young school kids.
“This program is definitely not doing elementary education as ‘facts and crafts,’ that’s not really our approach at all,” Weston said. “We have a really strong social justice part of our mission statement, which we are honoring and carrying through all of our course work.”
Although the Middlebury student teaching program is still growing, Weston hopes that the creation of the new education studies double major will promote or at least spread awareness of this collaborative program that Middlebury organizes with local schools.
“I hope that more Middlebury students become aware of and seriously consider committing to the double major through our licensure program to engage in the thoughtful, deliberate work that is required to be a well-prepared teacher,” Weston said. “It isn’t enough to be smart and well-intentioned and think that absolves you of the responsibility to be prepared before entering a classroom.”
Weston explained that the current setup of the student teaching program at Middlebury took root four years ago when they “started making a turn back into schools.” However, the program is constantly being revamped to best meet learning goals and requirements. This fall, five Middlebury student teachers are engaged in initiating conversations and presenting materials in unique ways to kids in the local area. Next fall, there will be nine more.
“[The Middlebury students] have grown a lot in that they realize how ready and eager young people are to have important conversations about current events and issues, that even we as adults are struggling with,” Weston said.
Since Vermont is one of the least racially diverse states in the country, Middlebury students must learn how to navigate leading and participating in difficult conversations in a largely homogenous classroom. Additionally, they learn to present materials and information in ways that are interesting and engaging for young people. Chelsea Colby ’17.5, one of the Middlebury student teachers this fall, noted the challenges that these important conversations bring.
“You will come across questions you cannot answer and new situations you never thought you would have to deal with,” Colby said. “My cooperating teacher has modeled for me that you just need to be flexible and willing to change plans to best meet the needs of the students.”
Nora O’Leary ’17 expressed similar appreciation for the lessons she is taking away from her students and host teacher as she student teaches in a fourth grade classroom at Mary Hogan this fall.
“As a teacher, each new day provides a different challenge, a unique and delicate problem to solve, feelings to heal and topics to tackle,” O’Leary said. “It’s been a joy to watch how my cooperating teacher navigates all of these with grace and tact.”
Middlebury’s student teaching program currently works with all nine of the schools in the Addison Central School District: Bridport, Cornwall, Mary Hogan, Ripton, Salisbury, Shoreham and Weybridge Elementary Schools; Middlebury Union Middle School; and Middlebury Union High School.
Weybridge Elementary’s principal, Christina Johnston, explained that Weybridge has grade levels K–6, with only four very small classrooms. Johnston expressed confidence in the ways that Weybridge teachers think a lot about their practices so that they can serve as good examples for the Middlebury students and show them how to teach with “strong goals of learning.”
Johnston acknowledges that the new education studies double major is beneficial not only for the college, but for the Addison Central School District which will profit from the thoughtful students entering the field.
She regularly witnesses reflective conversations happening between teachers and Middlebury students as they look for opportunities to take the next steps in the classroom and learning process. She also appreciates the unique relationship that develops between young kids and college students.
“There is something magical about the age of college students. They are seen by the kids as ‘having arrived,’” Johnston said. “There’s recognition of them having made it in some way, so there’s a great admiration.”
On the flip side, Johnston acknowledged that Middlebury students also have a lot to learn from young locals in the Middlebury area.
“If you’re watching and listening closely, you really do begin to understand that humans intrepidly are trying to understand things, that’s their job, and the kids are so earnest about that,”Johnston said.
Kristina Ohl ’17, a Middlebury graduate who is in full-time student teaching semester this fall, acknowledged this ability to learn from young kids. Ohl student teaches in a fifth grade classroom at Mary Hogan, where she is required to provide instruction in every subject.
“I have learned from students that you should never underestimate them and you should always expect the best out of every student,” Ohl said. “I’ve also learned to be flexible and that no two students are the same. Sometimes we have to be creative about how to meet the needs of each student and include everyone.”
Leigh Harder, a cooperating teacher at Weybridge Elementary, strives to teach student teachers the value, challenges and rewards of teaching a wide range of students in the classroom.
“One of my biggest goals in working with student teachers is to convey that elementary education is a profession that is demanding, intellectually stimulating and immensely satisfying,” Harder said.
Cooperating teachers at other schools in the area follow this approach as well. Julie Berg, a fourth grade teacher at Mary Hogan, shared that this is her first year with a student teacher and that she can already see how both she and the student teacher will benefit from the program.
Berg said that she involves her student teacher heavily in all of her planning, including the writing of a new International Baccalaureate (IB) unit for the class. Berg also emphasized the benefit of being able to observe her own classroom while the student teacher is leading the learning.
The shift to the IB unit mentioned by Berg is something that will benefit the teaching practices of all of the student teachers going through the Addison Central School District now. Harrison Schroder ’17.5, a student teacher in a seventh grade science classroom at Middlebury Union Middle School, has witnessed those benefits.
“Within the local Addison Central School District, the transition to the IB program, which I was fortunate enough to be trained in, will provide me with more tools, strategies and confidence to help students become more inquisitive and find meaning in their own education,” Schroder said.
Although, according to Weston, most Middlebury students do not choose to stay in Vermont to teach after completing their programs, there are still many lessons to take away from the schools in the local district. One of those lessons is the strength of community in smaller school districts.
“I believe that teaching at small schools in Vermont has shown me one way that public education can operate,” Colby said. “Working in the schools I feel I have been able to invest in the community and get to know so many teachers, students and families. I feel grateful for the closeness this small community uses to its advantage and I know that wherever I decide to teach in the future I will take with me the lesson of investing in the community and in families to work to provide students the best possible education.”
Weston also noted the beneficial experience of working with the degree of diversity in the local schools.
“We have more economic diversity that sometimes folks won’t recognize,” Weston said. “There are income disparities that exist throughout the county and throughout the school district.”
Johnston and Berg emphasized this level of diversity, sharing that their classrooms offer young people who come from a variety of experiences and family backgrounds, despite apparent racial homogeneity.
Weston stated that her method of teaching “will resonate with Middlebury students who are also looking for ways to ‘contribute to a more just, compassionate and equitable society, as our mission statement says, and who are interested in increasing access and equity, which is the focus of our local school district.”
As the leaves start to change and the school year kicks into full gear, students and locals alike have the opportunity to celebrate the fall at the many apple orchards that exist throughout the state of Vermont. Whether your forte is picking apples, shopping at farm stands or consuming ciders and donuts, Vermont apple orchards will not disappoint in the activities and products that they offer.
Not far from the college, Happy Valley Orchard in Middlebury grows about 50 varieties of apples in their 14-acre orchard. They have the basics, like Cortland and Macintosh, but they also have a number of heirloom apples and other varieties, all available for picking.
“We don’t limit where you can pick,” Mary Pratt, co-owner of Happy Valley Orchard told The Campus. “You can pick anywhere in the orchard you want, and we are unique in that every row of trees has more than one variety of apple in it since we’re a small orchard.”
The orchard also boasts a variety of trees that should fit the needs of all visitors to Happy Valley.
“We have a lot of big trees here,” Pratt explained. “We have some that are probably over 50 years old so they’re huge. We also have some small trees, but since we’re ‘pick your own,’ people do like the big trees.”
From September to November, Happy Valley Orchard is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. In addition to picking your own apples, the business also has a farm stand on site, at which customers can purchase things like cider, pumpkins, gourds, mums and donuts.
“We are noted for cider donuts,” Pratt emphasized.
Pratt said that Happy Valley has a cider mill, where they make their own fresh cider. Because of this, customers can purchase untreated cider, meaning that “it’s raw and it hasn’t had anything done to it.” The orchard sells their cider elsewhere as well. Selling cider wholesale, outside of the business requires a UV light process, according to Pratt.
“Right now, we press all of the cider for a hard cider company up in Burlington called Citizen Cider, so that keeps us pretty busy,” Pratt added.
Happy Valley is planning a big event called Cider Fest on Oct. 7 that they will host right at the orchard from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“We combine with Citizen Cider and we have music, food trucks, we do apple tasting, we usually have fresh cider samples, and Drop-In Brewery will be here selling their cider and beer,” Pratt said.
Although owning an orchard is not an easy task, Pratt noted that she and her husband find joy in the challenges and successes.
“This is something that we really enjoy doing,” Pratt said.
A slightly longer drive from campus, Shelburne Orchards offers “pick your own” apples as well. They are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. Their website advertises the McIntosh and Gala apples that they have for picking, and notes that Honey Crisps will be coming soon.
In addition to apples, the orchard also has a store with their own distilled apple brandy, non-alcoholic Ginger Jack, cider and fresh cider donuts. The orchard celebrates the season with a number of apple-related events as well. This Sunday, Sept. 24, Shelburne Orchards will host its 16th annual Pie Fest, which will consist of an apple pie baking contest, pie eating and live music. For Vermonters looking for apples and cider in large quantities, Shelburne Orchards will also host a Truckload and Hard Cider Weekend on Oct. 14 and 15, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. where attendees can pay to fill their cars and trucks up with apples.
Other orchards, such as Sunrise Orchards in Cornwall, set themselves apart in that most of their work is done behind the scenes to create products that their consumers enjoy. Chris Hodges of Sunrise Orchards shared in an email to The Campus that their orchard is 200 acres and that they grew a number of different apples, such as McIntosh, Empire, Cortland, Honey Crisp, Paula Red, Macoun, Red Delicious and Granny Smith.
“The Vermont climate lends itself well to apple growing with hot summers and cool, sun-filled autumns that redden the fruit during its last stages of growth,” noted Hodges in her email.
Although customers cannot pick their own apples at Sunrise Orchards, they can enjoy them once the orchard begins the harvesting and selling season around mid-August. Sunrise Orchards sells its apples in stores all over Vermont, New Hampshire and New York. The orchard also ensures continued distribution throughout the year, as they refrigerate and store around half of their crop for just that purpose.
Sunrise Orchards prides itself on the quality of its fruit, land and growing practices. People at the orchard work with Red Tomato, which is a non-profit organization that focuses on ecological growing processes.
“We are part of a group of growers from around the New England region who adhere to strict growing practices that emphasize the health of our soils, waterways and workers, and encourages beneficial insect species in the control of pests,” Hodges emphasized.
For anyone interested in taking advantage of Vermont’s helpful apple-growing climate, these three orchards are a good place to start looking, but they are not the only apple growers in Vermont. For a more thorough listing of apple orchards, places to pick and apple events in Vermont, take a look at vermontapples.org. Happy picking!
In the time that students have been away from campus for the summer, significant progress has been made on the Downtown Bridge Replacement and Rail Line Improvement Project in Middlebury. This progress is seen in the installation of two temporary bridges in Middlebury’s downtown strip.
“The installation of the temporary bridges was the big event for this summer,” Jim Gish, Middlebury’s community liaison, told The Campus. “I think the milestone achieved is that we now have two bridges in town that present a safe roadway and safe pedestrian pathways through town.”
These new roadways and pathways represent the changes made in accordance with a declaration that the state issued earlier this year.
“The State Agency of Transportation, with the approval of the governor, made what’s called an emergency declaration. That declaration basically said that the roadways were no longer safe downtown,” Gish explained.
One roadway in question was the one that crossed on Main Street, and the second was the one on Merchants’ Row. These are the two main bridges in downtown Middlebury that cross over the rail line. They were built in the 1920s, so as they approached 100 years of existence, they may have been fairly structurally sound, but the sidewalks were decaying and required constant repair and partial shut downs.
The completion of the temporary bridges represents a small phase of the bigger picture, which, according to Gish, is “the improvement of the western corridor railway.” A line of this railway runs from Rutland up to Burlington. The large project is mainly federally funded, with 95 percent of the money coming from the Federal Highway Administration, and the state has a 5 percent share. This bigger project will take place over the course of about four years.
Rebuilding roads and bridges in a main downtown area comes with unavoidable challenges that Gish witnessed this summer. He shared that there was a great deal of disruption to the downtown, as Main Street and Merchants’ Row were closed temporarily in June and July and in early August, and there was a particularly difficult period of time when both were closed simultaneously for the construction of the temporary bridges.
“My biggest challenges were communicating to the community what was happening day-to-day so that they could plan out their activities downtown, and then just keeping in touch with the merchants on a daily basis to see how they were fairing and what the town could do to help get them through this construction season.”
In addition to remaining in constant contact with businesses and merchants downtown, Gish worked hard to keep the visiting public informed. Alongside the Better Middlebury Partnership, the Addison Chamber of Commerce and a group called Neighbors Together, Gish helped to staff a volunteer information booth downtown during the project for visitors. This information booth provided information not only about the project progress, but also about places to stay, eat, shop and spend your time in downtown Middlebury.
Apart from the information booth, Gish also worked with the Better Middlebury Partnership to share project goals and timelines with merchants and to maintain business downtown despite the construction.
In a statement on his blog about the bridge project, Gish wrote, “I’m really looking forward to building on this summer’s collaboration with the Better Middlebury Partnership, the Addison County Chamber of Commerce and that phenomenal community action group, Neighbors Together.”
These community groups also hosted a successful block party downtown earlier this summer when both roads were closed. The party even included an excavator in which kids could have their pictures taken.
“It was a really good event where the businesses saw a lot of opportunity to keep their businesses open,” Gish said.
Despite the projects and changes taking place, Gish and other community members hope to continue to attract visitors to Middlebury’s downtown.
“The ongoing mission of our town is making sure that students come downtown, and eat at Sabai Sabai, or shop at the Vermont Book Shop, or frequent our downtown,” Gish explained. “And in doing that they can see how our downtown is evolving throughout the course of this project.”
Looking forward to the near future, Gish shared that most of his work this fall will consist of planning. The next phase of work for the project will begin in 2018, and that stage will be focused mainly on the construction of a new drainage system for the rail line. Most of this work will take place in Printers Alley so that the disruption is less significant than that of this summer’s.
“Right now, what I’m engaged in is meeting on a regular basis with the State Agency of Transportation, federal highway officials in town and merchants to plan for next year,” Gish shared.
As future plans for this complicated project progress unfold, Gish will continue to keep the public updated. Project updates as well as more in-depth details about the larger project can be found on his blog, www.middleburybridges.org.
On Saturday, March 12, the 8th annual Vermont Chili Festival was held in downtown Middlebury. From 1 to 4 p.m. the sun was shining and the street was filled with around six thousand Vermonters on the hunt for chili from top restaurants and caterers, as well as good entertainment provided by local street performers. About 40 types of chili were packed into tents along the street, and each business was expected to supply around 15 to 30 gallons of their specialty chilies in order to enter the competition. Sabai Sabai emerged as the victor of this year’s festival, taking the cake (or perhaps the chili) as their kitchen sink Thai flavored chili won the title of “Best Overall” and a cash prize of $1,000. This was the first year that Sabai Sabai has participated in the Chili Festival, and beginner’s luck certainly seems to have applied to their praiseworthy dish. “This is a Bangkok chili. It’s a chicken chili with Thai spices and we’re serving it with tortilla chips and peanuts. A lot of people seem to really like it. It’s a little different,” explained a waitress from Sabai Sabai. “I’ve been trying to talk the chefs into doing Thai nachos and maybe putting it on the menu for an appetizer.” After Sabai Sabai’s success at the festival, Middlebury natives may be in luck if a chili-inspired addition to the menu is brought to fruition. Every chili-eater had the option to vote for their favorite chili and their favorite booth at the festival, and the businesses with the highest number of votes earned a cash prize. In addition, a panel of judges was set to decide the best of the best chili in six categories: pork, game, chicken, beef, veggie and kitchen sink. Two Brothers Tavern followed Sabai Sabai, earning “Second Best Overall,” and receiving a cash prize of $750 for their beef chili. Park Squeeze, a restaurant in Vergennes, placed “Third Best Overall,” winning $750 for their pork chili. The Park Squeeze Restaurant, participating in the Vermont Chili Festival for the third time, fell just short of its goal this year. “This is sort of the traditional style that I would do,” said the Park Squeeze chef as he scooped the chili. “It’s a pork chili and we’re getting our pork from Heritage Farms in Otter Creek. I’m hoping for the top prize this year.” For the content-specific categories of pork, game, chicken, beef, veggie, and kitchen sink, the business winners were Park Squeeze, The Lobby, Indulge Salon, Middlebury College Brisket, La Boca Wood Fired Pizza and Sabai Sabai, respectively. The winners in each of these designated categories were awarded $100. The two final coveted awards were given to Sabai Sabai as the “People’s Choice” and Our House Bistro (in Winooski, Vt.) as the “Best Booth.” These two designations earned the businesses prizes of $500 and $200, respectively. All of the chefs worked hard to defy the typical expectations of a chili dish. Jeff Trump, Head Chef at the Lobby in Middlebury, was certainly no exception. “This one’s on the menu. It’s a venison maple chipotle chili with hazelnut crème-fraiche and fried shallots. We took first place with it last year,” Trump recalled with pride. It seems that this prize-winning chili met its match on Saturday. Some of Middlebury’s own students even put their chili-making skills to the test at the festival. Middlebury Foods, a student-run nonprofit, had a chili stand and their vegetarian chili earned runner-up in its category. “It was really rewarding; the Atwater dining staff that we cooked alongside was incredibly helpful and kind to the three of us,” says Alex Brockelman ’18, who cooked for Middlebury Foods on Saturday. “The crowds were sweet and appreciative for the most part, minus the occasional belligerently drunk student. All in all a great experience.” Competition aside, the town was brought to life with good food, face painting, street performers, live music and positive energy. The Chili Festival has been named one of the “Top 10 Winter Events” for the past five years by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, and it continues to live up to its praise. The money raised at the festival supports the Better Middlebury Partnership, which plays a key role in organizing and facilitating community events every year. The fun did not stop once the chili bowls were all emptied. There were two after parties with live music for the most zealous of chili lovers. The Horse Traders performed at Two Brothers Tavern and BandAnna took the stage at 51 Main. “It’s fun and it’s nice to be outside,” remarked Trump. “It’s nice seeing people from around town. The festival is a good community gathering event.” This sentiment was echoed by students at the College as well: “I think the chili fest is a really nice event because it brings students and Middlebury residents together,” Julia Hower ’19 said. “It also gives students a chance to get off campus, which can be really refreshing.”
Last Monday, Allen Gilbert announced that he is leaving his position as the Executive Director of the Vermont Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), after holding this title for 12 years. Gilbert has not decided when his last day will be, but has clarified that he will maintain his position until the summer while a replacement is being found.
It is expected that this replacement process will take about three to four months. The search for Gilbert’s successor has commenced and will span the nation with efforts facilitated by Board Chair James Morse.
“It’s been a great run,” Gilbert said in an interview with VTdigger. “12 years is a long time. It’s a full-throttle job and I just need to slow down.” Gilbert also ensured that he does not plan to quit his work all together, but emphasized the desire to be at a place where he can take care of his health as well. Indeed, Gilbert claims to have a list of about five public policy projects that he will give attention to despite the fact that he is leaving his position.
“I don’t see myself stopping from doing some form of gainful work. I’ve got a long list of things I still want to do,” Gilbert assured the Burlington Free Press in an interview.
The longtime president clearly was not lacking in things to do during his 12 year term with the ACLU. Before leading Vermont’s ACLU, Gilbert held a job as a reporter for the Rutland Herald, worked as an English teacher in Germany and served as a partner in a public policy and research communications firm. As a Worcester resident, Gilbert assumed the position of executive director when Vermont’s chapter of the ACLU only had three staff members. By the end of Gilbert’s term, the chapter was composed of five staff members. One major implementation of Gilbert’s was the addition of ACLU Vermont’s first staff attorney.
“The growth in staff and the strategic location [of the group’s offices] are symbolic of Allen’s successful efforts to expand the ACLU’s work and visibility,” praised Board Chair James Morse in an interview with VTdigger.
Morse’s second element of praise refers to Gilbert’s decision to relocate the Vermont ACLU’s offices from the Vermont College of Fine Arts on East State Street in Montpelier to Elm Street. The goal and successful effect of this relocation of offices was for the members of the ACLU chapter to place themselves closer to the Vermont Statehouse, where they hoped to inspire and fight for concrete changes. In fact, the executive director himself has been described as being a frequent presence at the Statehouse where he has shown no fear for engaging in heated debate with law enforcement members. Gilbert further expressed his passion for his job to VTdigger as he claimed to enjoy that he “never knew what was coming down the pike” as executive director of the Vermont ACLU.
After announcing his decision to step down from the head position, Gilbert revealed two of his proudest moments and accomplishments in his work in the ACLU. The first major accomplishment that he cited was his involvement in the Guiles v. Marineau case in 2006. This was a freedom of speech case in which a middle schooler’s right to political speech was contested. The ACLU ultimately emerged victorious with this case in the circuit court.
The second major accomplishment that Gilbert cited was a discrimination lawsuit that the ACLU worked to use to counter the Wildflower Inn in Lyndonville. This case emerged in 2012 when the Wildflower Inn refused to host a wedding reception for a lesbian couple. This case was a success for the ACLU and for Gilbert because the inn settled and agreed to pay the women a civil penalty for their actions.
According to VTdigger, Gilbert expressed that “a civil liberty is never completely and permanently won,” and that he has been honored to have been given the opportunity to play a role in fighting to protect them in his role as the leader of Vermont’s American Civil Liberties Union for all these years.
Vermont is revolutionizing the workplace, as the state has recently passed a bill requiring employers to provide paid sick leave for their workers. Currently, it is estimated that there are about 60,000 Vermonters who do not receive paid sick leave, many of whom are women who hold low-wage jobs.
The bill, H. 187, has been met with much debate, and the implications of the bill for the small businesses of Vermont have been hotly contested in the Vermont House and Senate.
The bill, which was given preliminary approval by the full Senate, would dictate that employers provide their workers with three sick days a year in 2017 and 2018, and then five sick days by 2019.
Jim Harrison, the Executive Director of the Vermont Retail and Grocers Association, claimed that the bill hurt businesses unable to afford the steep medical costs.
“[The bill] disproportionately impacts the smallest businesses in the state,” Harrison said in an interview with Vermont Public Radio.
However, others see the benefits of this mandate as outweighing the risks it poses to small Vermont businesses. One of those people is Rutland Senator Kevin Mullin (R), who ensures that the benefits of this bill entail “reduced employee turnover, the cost of productivity losses as a result of payment to ill workers who underperform while on the job, reduced spread of contagious diseases, reduced emergency room use and other health-related benefits.”
This bill also benefits those who consume Vermont food products. Nationwide, 90 percent of food workers report that they go to work sick, and about 65 percent of foodborne illnesses are the consequence of food handled by an ill person. Thus, there would be a public benefit to having paid sick leave as well.
Of course, this does not mean that there would be no cost to the businesses. In an announcement from the Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Office, it is estimated that this healthcare mandate would cost businesses around 11 million dollars in additional labor costs when implemented in its most extreme form.
The Senate version of this bill would have some exceptions in its application. Federal employees, employees under 18, and those working less than 18 hours a week or 21 weeks a year would not qualify for this mandate.
During the debate, some proponents favored an exemption to the bill for businesses with five employees or fewer. If this bill did not apply to businesses with five employees or fewer, then 60 percent of Vermont businesses would not fit under the qualifications of the mandate. In turn, this means that approximately 22,000 workers in the state of Vermont would not be covered for their sick days and would be presumably contributing to the creation of an unhealthy environment.
Eventually, after a dramatic vote-turnover, no exemptions were included for the small businesses.
Kris Jolin, a Capitol Connections lobbyist representing the National Federation of Independent Business noted his disapproval with the bill in an interview with Valley News.
“This will no doubt come at a high cost to small businesses,” Jolin said, “and will certainly have a serious effect on jobs and the economy in our state. We implore members of the House to take into account the detrimental impact that imposing such a mandate will have on job creation and the difficulty that the small business sector will have in absorbing the price of this legislation.”
The House did ultimately approve the Senate changes, and H. 187 is fully expected to be signed by Governor Shumlin in the near future.
Vermont will become the fifth state to mandate paid sick leave for employees.
Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo recently outlined his strategy to combat the rising opiate crisis that has gained attention both within Vermont and nationally. Various gangs have formed active drug networks in Burlington, causing concern for public health and safety. The mayor of Burlington, Miro Weinberger, has decided to give the city police the power necessary to fight drug trafficking and crimes linked to the rising tide of opiate addiction.
“Through sustained commitment to on-the-ground community policing and better coordination among all law enforcement and public health agencies engaged in addressing opiate abuse, we will turn back this trend,” Weinberger told the the Burlington Free Press.
Del Pozo expressed commitment to these ideals. In an effort to rid Vermont of opiate problems, he hopes to devote resources to street-level community policing and encourage treatment for addicts rather than jail time. In addition, del Pozo believes it would be beneficial to direct the majority of attention towards the mid and high-level drug dealers and traffickers instead of focusing on lower level users and dealers.
“We’re not trying to arrest our way out of this problem. We’re not trying to saddle small-time users with criminal records,” del Pozo said.
In order to achieve these goals, del Pozo plans to hire a full force of one hundred officers. He advocated increasing foot patrols and bike controls, as well as stopping as many street drug deals as possible. Additionally, del Pozo supports an approach that involves differentiating between those who are selling drugs for profit and those who are selling drugs to further endorse their addictions. He has also stated that he is interested in offering amnesty to opiate addicts who are willing and able to approach the police for help with their situation.
In conjunction with police efforts, doctors in Vermont will be advised to prescribe with caution, as the opiate addiction problem is partially attributed to doctors who over-prescribe painkillers. Vermont Health Commissioner Harry Chen and UVM Medical Center CEO John Brumstead will work alongside del Pozo to increase the resources available for those with opiate addictions.
The heavy focus of resources, time, and effort to combat opiate abuse is rooted in a human toll: drug overdose calls in Burlington rose from 34 in the past three years to 69 in 2015. Two drug-related shootings in Burlington resulted in fatalities within the past year.
Opiate addiction has also increased the number of crimes and thefts to occur around Burlington. When compared to rates from 2012 to 2014, robberies have risen 31 percent, assaults 22 percent, and retail theft 14 percent. Opiate addiction has proven especially prominent in the Old North End of Burlington.
Contributing even further to the problem, the prominence of the drug market has pushed more women towards prostitution and fueled the market for firearms in Vermont. Del Pozo noted that he is especially disturbed and concerned about the element of sex trafficking that accompanies the drug trade.
Unfortunately, Vermont will continue to be a hot spot for drugs if action is not taken. Drug dealers from out of state often prefer to sell them in Vermont, as opposed to major cities, because their wares are significantly more profitable when they constitute a significant portion of the market.
However, del Pozo remains confident that the situation in Burlington can be solved, and it is not yet outside the realm of police and governmental control.
“It’s not an overall tidal wave problem. It’s growing and it brings violence, but it’s manageable for a city this size,” del Pozo said.
In a recent investigation conducted by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity, Vermont was ranked at a “D-” on the scale of state integrity. This earned the Green Mountain State a spot at 39th place among all fifty states.
Although disheartening, this less than satisfactory grade was not unique to Vermont. Alaska ranked first in this integrity investigation, but it still only earned a C on the test. The goal of the 2015 version of this State Integrity Investigation was to take into account the transparency, accountability and ethics of the laws in the individual states to determine an overall ranking.
The State Integrity Investigation identified certain flaws that were common among many states, providing some explanation for the low rankings. First, The Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity confirmed that many part-time legislators and officials have fallen into the tempting trap of lobbyists and the self-interest that it entails.
In addition, the State Integrity Investigation proves that often, the bodies responsible for monitoring the ethics laws are not given enough funding and are unable or unwilling to perform their proper tasks.
Another element of the test that caused states to receive poor rankings was the lack of open data measures, which were considered necessary in this world of digitally available data.
Vermont has proven to be no exception to these fatal flaws. Its low ranking can be attributed to two main aspects of the state government: its shortage of ethics safeguards and the lack of other institutions involved in maintaining government ethics.
The means of monitoring ethics have typically been informal and inadequate, according to this standard. However, ethics enforcement was not the only thing bringing Vermont down on this nationwide test. The state also scored extremely low on the portion of the test that ranked legislative accountability.
This low ranking is due to the fact the part-time citizen legislators are not forced by law to disclose their assets. In addition, they have full rights to go directly into work in the private sector as soon as they have left public office, which could be considered a conflict of interest, thus lowering their score.
Given Vermont’s unfavorable ranking, there is clearly room for change and improvement. Jim Condos, Vermont Secretary of State, has offered the beginnings of a solution for this problem.
“At the very least, we need clear ethical standards for everyone in state and local government, as well as in the Legislature,” Condos told the Burlington Free Press.
“[We need] standards for conflicts of interest, financial disclosure, nepotism, and outside employment among other things,” Condos continued.
Condos is not the only one seeking to take action to improve Vermont’s transparency and ethics. Organizations throughout Vermont are showing interest in taking action against corruption.
One group, Vermont Acts, is working to encourage the implementation of anti-corruption legislation to improve the state’s standards. This group is also organizing petition signing and demanding that issues such as the prevention of political bribery and the creation of an independent ethics commission be discussed at upcoming town meetings across Vermont. They hope that these solutions will remain on the political agenda in the future until visible until the state government makes visible change. With its flaws exposed, there is hope that Vermont will begin increasing transparency, accountability, and ethics, not just for improving in the ranking, but for improving the state government as a whole.
Hannah Hurlburt, owner of The Good Witch, a costume shop on Main Street, sees more business than usual this time of year.
The Good Witch business started in the back room of Mendy’s, another business on Main Street, but it eventually expanded into its own store last April.
Hurlburt’s passion and story make her truly unique.
Her sewing journey began far before the opening of her store last April.
Hurlburt recalled, “My mom taught me to sew because she knew I was going to be really short, and I would need to do alterations.”
This necessity quickly turned into a talent and a passion. Hurlburt began sewing professionally at the age of 17 with a focus on recycled clothing.
Later on in life, she took this skill to the next level when she studied fiber arts at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. With education and skill under her belt, Hurlburt created further direction for her work by incorporating her love of Halloween.
“My birthday is the 27th of October, so my life literally revolves around Halloween,” Hulburt said.
This love for Halloween created a direction for Hurlburt’s work, and she let the passion lead her.
Hurlburt has proven that The Good Witch is much more than a business venture. Rather, she indicates that it has helped to define her as a person and it allows her to impact her community simultaneously.
Indeed, Hurlburt noted, “the most important thing about having a store for me is remembering that it is a classroom.”
Hurlburt acknowledges that there are daily life lessons to learn from her customers and her work.
In return, she also seeks to spread love and inspiration.
“I know that I can help people be happy and people who come in help me to be happy, so it’s a mutual relationship,” she remarked.
Hurlburt surely serves as a sunny presence in this small town, where her optimism and passion are contagious. She has established the fact that she is not searching for money, but rather a life filled with happiness, meaning and passion.
Hurlburt’s beautiful costumes embody her unique personality. She explains that there is a spark before she makes all of her costumes, and then there is an itch to her fingers that forces her to create them.
This sewing-enthusiast notes that the itch will never disappear, so costumes will always be a part of her life. The costumes that Hurlburt designs for herself are especially close to her heart.
In her words, “As soon as I know what I want to be I have to be it … wit comes from within and the costumes end up being a metaphor for what I’ve been going through.”
Hurlburt’s Halloween costume this year is a perfect example of this metaphor. She explains that she decided to create a phoenix costume for herself as an outward representation of the spiritual transformation that she has undergone over the past year.
This ability to create outward displays of inner personality is not limited to only herself. Hulbert also claims to be quite successful in developing visions of costumes that represent her customers.
As a result of having this truly extraordinary skill, Hurlburt’s store is exploding with unique personality and celebration of life.
In the words of The Good Witch herself, “Inspiration takes you where you need to go.”