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Local
Summer Street mural installed

BARRE — A colorful tribute to all things Barre and Vermont came to life with the installation of the Summer Street Mural Project on Saturday.

The 130-foot by 20-foot mural is made up of 47 panels. The project began with a proposal by former Barre Rotary Club president Caroline Earle two years ago. The project involved trying to find an artist to design the mural and finding people to paint the panels. As the project progressed, other local nonprofits and businesses got involved.

There was much to celebrate Saturday as participants in the project gathered to watch the panels be installed on a wooden frame attached to the large retaining wall at the south end of Summer Street. Observers were treated to grilled hot dogs and refreshments, and shared stories about the mural project.

“I proposed it to the Barre Rotary Club as a project to really continue to beautify Summer Street. With the new Downstreet building and other things happening in Barre, this seemed like something that really needed attention,” Earle said.

Earle said the Rotarians first tried to get a Spaulding High School art teacher to design the mural but were told they couldn’t commit to the project. Instead, the Rotarians found Kristine Chartrand, an art teacher at U-32 Middle and High School.

“She’s an artist, and she designed it but it’s her first large public art project,” Earle said.

Earle said a committee was formed early on, with Sue Higby, executive director of Studio Place Arts, and others offering artistic advice. Eventually, the Paletteers of Vermont, led by Paletteers Vice President John Landy, were asked to assist in the painting of the panels, using 10 gallons of house paint from Nelson’s Ace Hardware in Barre.

Painting of the panels took place indoors last winter, thanks to the generosity of the Vermont Granite Museum. And Mark Browning, of Stone and Browning Property Management in Barre, was on hand Saturday with a mobile aerial platform to raise and install the higher panels.

As a precaution, the mural is coated with an expensive clear resin that should help resist any graffiti that can be pressure-washed off. National Life and another donor contributed $500 each towards the $1,400 cost of the resin coating.

Seven paletteers — President Linda Kiniry, Landy, Clara Geist, Jan Avery, John Weaver, Emily Rappold and Pam Murphy — handled most of the painting, though Landy said more than 50 people participated.

“It’s been a really amazing collaboration, between the Rotary Club, the Paletteers and the Vermont Granite Museum,” Landy said. “It’s just amazing to see this finally going up on the wall.”

Barre Mayor Lucas Herring was also present to observe and lend a hand.

“I’m very thankful to Caroline Earle, the Barre Rotary, the Paletteers, and all the volunteers that came together to make this happen,” Herring said. “I think it shows the collaboration that does happen in the city. It isn’t just one club, it’s not just the city.

“The city helped out because it’s our infrastructure and the wall that this mural is on, but it’s really the clubs that are doing the work to make beautification happen in Barre,” Herring said.

Earle said the project group turned to the Vermont Historical Society and the Vermont Granite Museum to suggest ideas for iconic, historic and landmark subjects to include in the mural.

The mural celebrates all four seasons, the state’s fall foliage and ski industry, the maple industry and its abundant wildlife, including moose and bear, and there’s also a tribute to the Morgan horse. There’s a strong showing for Barre’s granite industry, with the figures of famous downtown statues — Youth Triumphant and The Italian-American Stone Cutter — and a mausoleum from Hope Cemetery, Chris Miller’s giant zipper beside Studio Place Arts and a diesel locomotive hauling stone from the granite quarries.

Other famous landmarks in the state include the State House dome and statue, loons on Lake Champlain, the Ticonderoga steam ship at the Shelburne Museum and a covered bridge.

Chartrand’s colorful 13-foot-long scale-model painting was turned into slides that were projected onto wooden panels and traced by Paletteers before being painted.

Chartrand was present at the installation with her husband, Michael, daughter Hattie, aged 3, and the couple’s three-week-old baby, Theo.

“It’s amazing and its awesome to see the hard work that everyone’s put into it. It took a lot of people to make this happen,” Chartrand said.

Barre Rotary Club President Liane Martinelli added: “This is a great shining moment for our community. I’m excited for everyone to look at it and enjoy it. We’ve already had some interest in us possibly doing the same thing with other walls in Barre, so there may be more projects to come. One thing leads to another.”

stephen.mills @timesargus.com


Local
‘March for Medicaid’
'March for Medicaid' rally calls for protection of benefits

BARRE — A “March for Medicaid” drew more than 100 people to the Granite City on Saturday to protest threats to the national medical benefits program.

Organized by the Vermont Workers Center in Barre, the “Healthcare is a Human Right” campaign march began at noon at the First Presbyterian Church on Seminary Street and proceeded down Main Street to City Hall Park for a rally. Along the way, the marchers chanted, banged drums, played musical instruments and carried banners and placards.

Founded in 1998, the Vermont Workers Center is an organization of low-income and working people with active members across the state dedicated to socioeconomic issues that threaten benefits and programs for Vermonters.

The Healthcare is a Human Right campaign is fighting efforts by the Trump Administration to destabilize the Medicaid program by offering block grant funding to states that also have work requirements to qualify for benefits, as well as other eligibility hurdles that have led to thousands of Medicaid recipients losing benefits in Missouri, Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas in the last year, according to Vermont Workers Center officials. One in three Vermonters rely on Medicaid and Medicaid-funded services in the state, they added.

According to Keith Brunner, one of the organizers of Saturday’s march, the campaign is also calling for the Vermont Legislature to revive Act 48, a successful 2011 campaign by the Vermont Workers Center and other groups for the first statewide universal, publicly funded health care system called Green Mountain Care. In 2014, former Gov. Peter Shumlin abandoned the plan, citing the taxes required of smaller businesses within the state to fund it.

Will Bennington, a farmer from Plainfield, and Amy Lester, of Adamant, were the masters of ceremonies at the rally and welcomed the many supporting nonprofit, union and interfaith groups supporting Medicaid benefit recipients.

“I’m marching today because I, like so many other farmers and farm workers in the state, work my butt off and cannot afford health care,” Bennington said. “If it were not for Medicaid, I would never go to the doctor or the dentist.”

Beth Clark, of Barre, said she and several relatives all had health care issues and had to pay for out-of-pocket expenses not covered by medical benefits. Likewise, Maurica Villines, of Springfield, said she was a single mother with two children that struggled to meet family medical expenses.

Lorri Demers, who is homeless and living at the Good Samaritan Haven shelter in Barre, said she had struggled for two months after moving to Barre to get Medicaid benefits to help cover the cost of quarterly checkups on her defibrillator for a heart condition.

“Without my Medicaid, I would not be able to have my defibrillator checked every three months, so that’s why I’m fighting for Medicaid,” she said.

Hannah Williams, of South Royalton, who works as a health care associate in Barre, said she had to work with patients that had trouble getting coverage for reproductive health care and mental health care services because they were not “prioritized” by health insurers.

“You and I are walking dollar signs to the people that profit from our current health care system and I for one refuse to accept that politicians and billionaires have the right to tell me that my life and the lives of the people I love aren’t worth the risk to their profits,” Williams said. “All of these reasons and so many more are why I’m marching for Medicaid.”

Attendees also heard from a diabetic who would not be able to afford her medication without Medicaid, a single mother working two jobs that did not provide health insurance coverage, a mental health care worker who said Medicaid coverage was essential for the patients he treated, and a seasonal migrant farm worker who was worried about being injured and not having health care coverage.

After the rally, participants were treated to a barbecue lunch provided by the Vermont Workers Center.

stephen.mills @timesargus.com


AP
Creator from Vermont
'Hadestown' captures 8 Tony Awards, including best musical

NEW YORK — “Hadestown,” the brooding musical about the underworld, had a heavenly night at the Tony Awards, winning eight trophies Sunday, including best new musical and handing a rare win for a female director of a musical.

The original version of “Hadestown,” created by Montpelier singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell, premiered at the Barre Opera House in December 2007, and was reviewed in the Times Argus.

In his review, critic Jim Lowe compared the work to the Kurt Weill-Berolt Brecht “The Threepenny Opera,” and wrote, “Spectacular musically and theatrically, with some minor repairs it could become a lasting musical theater piece with even Broadway possibilities.”

Other wins for “Hadestown” were for scenic design, sound design, lighting design and orchestrations. It also went on to earn Mitchell a Tony for best score.

The daughter of a novelist and retired Middlebury College professor Don Mitchell, Anaïs Mitchell was named for the writer Anaïs Nin. She grew up on an Addison County farm in New Haven, with family sojourns in the Middle East, Europe and Latin America. Mitchell started playing guitar and writing songs in high school and continued at Middlebury College, playing open mics and performing on the folk circuit. After college, she recorded her first album, “The Song They Sang When Rome Fell,” in 2002.

Rachel Chavkin, the only woman to helm a new Broadway musical this season, won the Tony for best director of a musical for “Hadestown.” She became only the tenth woman to win as director of either a play or a musical on Broadway and told the crowd she was sorry to be such a rarity.

“There are so many women who are ready to go. There are so many people of color who are ready to go.” A lack of strides in embracing diversity on Broadway, she said, “is not a pipeline issue” but a lack of imagination.

Andre DeShields captured featured actor in a musical for “Hadestown,” his first Tony at the age of 73. In his speech, he gave “three cardinal rules of my sustainability and longevity.

“One, surround yourself with people whose eyes light up when they see you coming. Two, slowly is the fastest way to get to where you want to be, and three, the top of one mountain is the bottom of the next, so keep climbing.”

Playwright Jez Butterworth’s “The Ferryman” was crowned best play. In the four lead actor and actress categories, Bryan Cranston won his second acting Tony, but theater veterans Elaine May, Santino Fontana and Stephanie J. Block each won for the first time.

The crowd at Radio City Music Hall erupted when Ali Stroker made history as the first actor in a wheelchair to win a Tony. Stroker, paralyzed from the chest down due to a car crash when she was 2, won for featured actresses in a musical for her work in a dark revival of “Oklahoma!”

“This award is for every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability, who has a limitation or a challenge, who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena,” she said. “You are.”

Cranston seemed to tap into the vibe when he won the Tony for best leading man in a play award for his work as newscaster Howard Beale in a stage adaptation of “Network.”

“Finally, a straight old white man gets a break!” he joked. The star, who wore a blue ribbon on his suit to support reproductive rights, also dedicated his award to journalists who are in the line of fire. “The media is not the enemy of the people,” he said. “Demagoguery is the enemy of the people.”

The respect for women’s work also got a boost when Butterworth, who earlier asked the crowd to give his partner, actress Laura Donnelly, a round of applause for giving birth to their two children while working on the ensemble drama, handed his best play trophy to Donnelly. A Donnelly family story inspired him to write the play.

Fontana won his first Tony as the cross-dressing lead in “Tootsie.” Fontana, perhaps best known for his singing role as Hans in “Frozen,” won in an adaptation of the 1982 Dustin Hoffman film about a struggling actor who impersonated a woman in order to improve his chances of getting a job. It was the only win for “Tootsie.”

Another first-time winner was Block, who earned her Tony Award for playing a legend — Cher. Block, who has had roles on “Homeland” and “Orange Is the New Black,” is one of three actresses to play the title character in the musical “The Cher Show.” She thanked “the goddess Cher for her life and legacy.”

Other winners included the legendary May, who took home her first ever Tony for best leading actress, playing the Alzheimer’s-afflicted grandmother in Kenneth Lonergan’s comic drama “The Waverly Gallery.”

Corden, in his second stint as Tony host, was at his fanboy best, whether anxiously hiding in a bathroom with previous hosts Josh Groban and Sara Bareillies or trying to provoke a Nicki Minaj-Cardi B-style beef between usually overly polite and supportive Broadway figures (Laura Linney and Audra McDonald finally obliged). He also asked celebrities to sing karaoke during the commercials.

He kicked off the show with a massive, nine-minute opening number that served as a full-throated endorsement of the live experience, with Corden beginning it seated alone on a couch in front of a TV, overwhelmed by his binge options, before taking flight with dozens of glitzy dancers from this season’s shows, all filling the Radio City stage with an unprecedented volume.

The first acting award went to Celia Keenan-Bolger, who won for best featured actress in a play for her role as Scout in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” She noted that her parents read her the book when she was a child in Detroit and her grandparents had a burning cross put on their lawn because they helped African Americans.

Bertie Carvel won best featured actor in a play for “Ink.” He said he wished he could be with his mother, hospitalized in London: “I love you, mum.”

Oscar-winning director and producer Sam Mendes won his first directing Tony Award for guiding “The Ferryman” and the play earned Rob Howell two Tonys — for best play set designs and costumes. Robert Horn won for best book of a musical for “Tootsie.”

Legendary designer Bob Mackie won the Tony for best costume designs for a musical for “The Cher Show,” getting laughs for saying “This is very encouraging for an 80-year-old.”

The dark retelling of “Oklahoma!” beat the lush and playful revival of the rival Golden Age musical “Kiss Me, Kate” to the Tony for best musical revival. “The Boys in the Band” was crowned best play revival.

Sergio Trujillo won the best choreography prize for “Ain’t Too Proud — The Life and Times of the Temptations,” saying in his speech that he arrived in New York decades ago without legal permission. “I’m here to tell you the American dream is alive,” he said. It was the only win for the musical, which had 12 nominations, second only to “Hadestown.”

The awards cap a season that showed Broadway is in good shape. The shows this season reported a record $1.8 billion in sales, up 7.8 percent from last season. Attendance was 14.8 million — up 7.1 percent — and has risen steadily for decades.


Charles Sykes / Invision  

Anaïs Mitchell accepts the award for best original score for “Hadestown” at the 73rd annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday in New York.


Local
Former dance instructor gets jail time

BARRE — After years of litigation, including a trip to the Vermont Supreme Court and multiple judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys assigned to the case, Ernest Phillips has been sentenced for exposing himself to teenagers.

Phillips, 31, of Essex Junction, was sentenced Monday in Washington County criminal court in Barre to one to two years to serve, all suspended except for 120 days, on two misdemeanor convictions of prohibited acts. Half of those days will be spent at Northeast Correctional Complex in St. Johnsbury, and Phillips will serve the other 60 days on work crew. Phillips was also placed on probation for eight years.

He pleaded guilty to the crimes in November 2017 after he was initially charged in April 2016.

Phillips had been charged with felony counts of sexual assault, lewd and lascivious conduct and sexual exploitation of a minor but the charges were either dismissed or amended, per the plea agreement.

One of the victims told police she and Phillips began a sexual relationship when she was 17 years old that continued past her 18th birthday, according to court records. The other victim told police she began a sexual relationship with Phillips when she was 15 years old that continued until she was 16, according to court records.

After Phillips pleaded guilty, Judge Howard E. VanBenthuysen declined to accept the deal, saying victims needed to have more input in the case. Victims reported they weren’t included in the plea agreement negotiations, had no idea what Phillips was going to receive for a sentence and — once they learned of the sentence late in the process — said they wanted to see Phillips punished more harshly.

Scott Williams, the Washington County state’s attorney at the time who entered into the agreement, took heat from the victims for the agreement. Williams said at the time because there were people involved in the case that had changed their stories over time, there was a substantial risk that a jury could find Phillips not guilty.

Phillips had initially agreed to a three-year deferred sentence that carried no jail time and would have put him on probation for three years.

Phillips had been represented by attorney Jessica Burke. Burke appealed the judge’s decision to reject the plea agreement to the state Supreme Court. She argued Judge VanBenthuysen had agreed to the deal because he had signed the plea agreement and the deferred sentence and probation order. The state’s highest court disagreed and sent the case back to Washington County criminal court so that a judge can decide whether to accept the plea agreement. Phillips decided to keep his guilty pleas and go for a contested sentencing, where the state and defense would make their cases and a judge would decide what sentence Phillips would get.

Burke withdrew from the case in August and Colin Seaman represented Phillips at Monday’s sentencing hearing.

Though he didn’t enter into the initial agreement, current Washington County State’s Attorney Rory Thibault wanted Phillips sentenced to six months in jail. Seaman argued for a 60-day work crew sentence.

Phillips’ friends and family testified Monday, saying Phillips is a good person who has helped them and others. The youngest victim in the case also spoke at the hearing, saying she now has depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder because of what Phillips did to her. She spoke through tears as she described how Phillips took advantage of her and others.

Phillips apologized through tears of his own for what the victims went through.

“I had no reason doing what I did,” he said.

Before handing down the sentence, Judge Mary L. Morrissey said while it sounded like Phillips was someone who can help and support people, he appeared to be minimizing his role in the crime. After Phillips admitted to exposing himself to the victims in a sexual nature, Morrissey said Phillips took part in a psycho-sexual evaluation where he said he exposed himself to the older victim by getting out of the shower and the younger victim during a photo shoot. She also noted Phillips had applied to become a private investigator in 2017, while the case was still pending, and told the state while trying to get a license that the sexual assault case had been dropped.

“Mr. Phillips abused his position of trust. He acted in a supervisory role with both (victims). They were in his care. They were trusted in his care during that time and he abused that trust,” she said.


Spotlight

“We have a responsibility to do this work, to follow the facts where they lead.”

Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee at the start of a hearing in which John Dean, former White House counsel for the Nixon Administration, discussed the Mueller probe. B5

In the news

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont faces a key challenge from Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who also aims to secure progressive votes for 2020. A2

Water testing is underway at two local schools as part of a statewide effort to test school drinking water for the presence of lead. A3

Read the latest about state road projects happening around the region. A3


BTA Hotspot

Saturday

Fairy House Storytime

Do fairies live in the Barre Town Forest? Find out with children’s librarian and bagpiper Ian Gauthier. A short walk and stories followed by fairy house building with natural materials. For kids preschool and up and their parents. For more information, call the library at 476-7550. 1-2 p.m. Barre Town Forest, 44 Brook St., Websterville, mkotch731@gmail.com, 802-476-4185.