by Lani Dukes
Fair Haven team tops “Academic Showdown”
FAIR HAVEN—Fair Haven Union High’s team won the top ranking in PEGTV’s inaugural “Academic Showdown” season, facing off against Otter Valley Union High in front of a live audience with a final score of 220-115. Shown on Cable Channel 20 on April 7, the showdown featured Charlie Cacciatore, Trevor Reck, Zachary Caraballo, and Isaac Nichols from FHUHS against Ghislaine Robin, Jonna Keith, Hannah Roberts, and Brigid Enright of Otter Valley. “This show provided a new way for area schools to interact and compete, and it also managed to engage younger audiences in ways we haven’t done before,” said PEGTV Executive Director Tom Leypoldt. “We’re excited about making ‘Academic Showdown’ an annual event and to be able to offer such entertaining programming on our education channel.” All episodes will be shown again online beginning May 1.
FAIR HAVEN—The Town of Fair Haven is looking for bids on replacing the heating furnace at its E. Whitcomb Hyde water treatment facility. The current furnace is a Modine propane fired, forced air, ceiling-mounted model in the lower level of the facility. It has been responsible for heating 40,000 gallons of water inside the heated area at any time, water that gets as cool as 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. For at least 60 days last winter, it was as low as 43 F. The furnace is under constant attack from corrosive fumes, including chlorine vapors. The air it operates in is moist, sometimes more than 80 percent in the summer. These factors don’t necessitate the use of stainless steel or other corrosion resistance substitutes but they do seem to be a desirable option. Also desirable is a unit that will not require major duct changes and be energy efficient.
Community spirit in action
PAWLET—A committee is growing in Pawlet, gathering to raise funds for the community’s buy-in toward a FEMA hazard mitigation grant that will buy an emergency generator to be installed in the Mettawee Community School. Already a certified American Red Cross shelter, the school will become an emergency operations center for the town when the generator is installed. FEMA’s grant covers 75 percent of the cost; the remaining 25 percent, or $16,232, must be raised by local contributions. The first fundraiser is a pig roast, scheduled for Saturday, June 4, at Consider Bardwell Farm, 1333 Rt. 153, West Pawlet.
Reviving an old tradition
CASTLETON—Other towns have their own Independence Day celebration, but Castleton has not for a number of years. That is about to change. Bob Franzoni and Susan Day are co-chairing a Castleton Fourth of July committee, joined by a number of other Castleton citizens. They are pulling together a “workable” and fun celebration for the first year, with plans to build on that in the future. The plan includes a pancake breakfast, a parade to follow the samba parade, and festivities and fireworks at Crystal Beach. The Lake Bomoseen Association gathered money for the fireworks and the committee has not asked the town for any aid, Franzoni said.
Day and fellow committee member Shirley Seguin are organizing the parade. They especially want Castleton young people to take part, entering the decorated bike contest, bringing pets or farm animals to march with them, marching as members of a team or a community organization, and showing off classic cars, trucks, tractors and equipment.
New committee members are welcome to catch up with the group as July 4 nears.
Orwell rejection sinks Slate Valley plan
ORWELL—All six towns in the Addison-Rutland Supervisory Union needed to approve plans to combine into a single school system in order to become the Slate Valley Unified Union School District. Five of the six did. One did not.
Orwell voters turned down the plan 211-121. The other participating districts approved: Hubbardton by 66-13; Benson 115-47; West Haven, 32-12; Castleton 263-127; and Fair Haven, 158-129.
The proposal did not completely fail with that vote. Orwell voters could petition for a revote inside 30 days, but that surge of concern seems unlikely, Orwell School Board Vice-Chairwoman Alyson Eastman said, relying on the margin between nays and ayes. Orwell’s resistance to the plan is not new either. One of the most frequently expressed points during informational meetings was a fear that consolidation would blot out local control and eventually lead to the local school’s closure.
However, reconstituting the ARSU Act 46 study committee is unlikely to result in a satisfactory solution. There is no Dudley Doright coming to the rescue. The train of school consolidation is rushing down the track regardless. Snidely Whiplash, or the State Board of Education, will assign schools into districts if they cannot reach an acceptable merger by the end of 2017 and they will face higher taxes at the same time.
Forestry students take a conservation work day
WEST HAVEN—Stafford Tech students spent a day at the Helen W. Buckner Memorial Preserve in West Haven on April 14 removing invasive species and improving wildlife habitat. In the company of Vermont Audubon Society and Nature Conservancy representatives, the Forestry, Natural Resources and Horticulture program students pruned away honeysuckle and other brush.
Helped by the honeysuckle removal are golden-winged warblers, a “Species of Special Concern” because their habitat is overrun by invasives. The students’ work restores the land to the warblers’ preferred early successional shrubland, as the birds return from wintering in Central America.