• Lucky city and Frankenstorm
    October 26,2012

    Barre has been very fortunate over the last seven months to have a partner like Luck Brothers Inc.

    The contractor hired to oversee the North Main Street reconstruction not only finished the $10.6 million project ahead of schedule, literally paving the way for the holiday season, but did the work in concert with the many needs of a demanding community, from the merchants and City Hall to the pedestrians and other citizens.

    The job for this construction season is finished, and the downtown looks fresh, elegant and vibrant.

    Up and down Main Street, despite summertime gripes about dust and a few grumbles about converting the back of stores into entrances, Luck Brothers’ employees and its subcontractors went out of their way to accommodate the community at large.

    Sue Higby, executive director at Studio Place Arts, tells one story with great pride: She had met with public relations officer Beth LeClair at the end of the summer and told her that the slow summer season was ending and things would be getting busy shortly. She told her about a four-day retrospective for Rebecca Merrilees, a 90-year-old artist with failing health. “I told her that all of Rebecca’s friends would need to have access to the short event to honor her career, and asked if there was any way at all that they would repair the plaza (which was bumpy with dirt) and entrance to SPA in time for the event.”

    Not only did the company do the work at SPA, it made accommodations for parking for Merrilees’ guests.

    In turn, Higby honored Luck Brothers’ employees this week with a small reception at her gallery.

    In another instance, merchants said they had observed some young men being rude toward some older citizens trying to navigate the torn-up sidewalks. Some Luck Brothers employees witnessed the exchange and called the men out on their behavior. When the men became belligerent, one of the Luck Brothers workers was overheard yelling, “I’m down here working because I’m proud of what I’m doing. If you’ve got nothing to offer except being rude to people, you don’t belong here.”

    Today, there is great pride in how the downtown looks. This is not a fresh-coat-of-paint kind of feeling good. This is come-look-at-our-downtown feeling good.

    It has been a while since Barre has felt that pride. Barring unforeseen problems in the future, we have been given countless opportunities to reshape our brand, future and economy.

    Barre was very lucky to have Luck Brothers. Our community owes each of you a debt of gratitude.


    Nate Silver of The New York Times has a new book out titled “The Signal and the Noise.” In it, the expert statistician dissects many of the methods used to make predictions and offer forecasts. He points out that with ample information and the right assumptions, it is relatively easy to predict all kinds of outcomes.

    While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service put their models to the test, Vermont is not taking any potential outcome for Hurricane Sandy for granted.

    And that is smart.

    More than a year after some of the most extreme weather in the Green Mountain State’s history, including Tropical Storm Irene and the May floods, we can no longer take meteorology for granted. In fact, we all have to take it seriously.

    This storm, which was in the Caribbean on Thursday, is making its way up the coast, and, according to some models, Vermont could be in the bull’s-eye of a storm even more powerful than Irene. Other models are less dire.

    Regardless of the odds, we would be remiss after the hard lessons we have learned over the last few years not to be ready. It would be negligent not to test generators, make sure emergency plans are updated, buy extra food and water, candles and fuel, and be sure all medications you might need are in hand.

    The state and various utility companies, as well as towns and cities, are also putting plans in place, hoping that Sandy just keeps on going or simply drops some rain and wind.

    But as Silver is quick to point out, when most forecasts point to a likely conclusion, you can’t ignore any factors leading up to it.

    Our memories are not always long. In the coming days, think back to 2011, and be ready.

    The worst thing that can happen is the forecast is wrong.

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