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Former President George H.W. Bush
Nation bids ceremonious farewell

WASHINGTON — The nation bid goodbye to George H.W. Bush with high praise, cannon salutes and gentle humor Wednesday, celebrating the life of the Texan who embraced a lifetime of service in Washington and was the last president to fight for the U.S. in wartime. Three former presidents looked on at Washington National Cathedral as a fourth — George W. Bush — eulogized his dad as “the brightest of a thousand points of light.”

After three days of remembrance in the capital city, the Air Force plane with Bush’s casket left for a final service in Houston and burial Thursday at his family plot on the presidential library grounds at Texas A&M University in College Station. His final resting place is alongside Barbara Bush, his wife of 73 years, and Robin Bush, the daughter who died of leukemia at age 3.

His plane, which often serves as Air Force One, arrived at Ellington Field outside Houston in late afternoon. As a motorcade subsequently carried Bush’s remains to the family church, St. Martin’s Episcopal, along a closed interstate, hundreds of people in stopped cars on the other side of the road took pictures and shot cellphone video. One driver of a tanker truck climbed atop the hulking vehicle for a better view, and at least 15 firefighters scaled a pair of stopped firetrucks to salute.

Upon its arrival at the church, Bush’s casket was met by a military band and Houston Democratic Mayor Sylvester Turner.

The national funeral service at the cathedral was a tribute to a president, a patriarch and a faded political era that prized military service and public responsibility. It was laced with indirect comparisons to President Donald Trump but was not consumed by them, as speakers focused on Bush’s public life and character — with plenty of cracks about his goofy side, too.

Trump sat with his wife, a trio of ex-presidents and their wives, several of the group sharp critics of his presidency and one of them, Hillary Clinton, his 2016 Democratic foe. Apart from courteous nods and some handshakes, there was little interaction between Trump and the others.

George W. Bush broke down briefly at the end of his eulogy while invoking the daughter his parents lost in 1953 and his mother, who died in April. He said he took comfort in knowing “Dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom’s hand again.”

The family occupied the White House for a dozen years — the 41st president defeated after one term, the 43rd serving two. Jeb Bush stepped up to try to extend that run but fell short when Trump won the 2016 Republican primaries.

The elder Bush was “the last great-soldier statesman,” historian Jon Meacham said in his eulogy, “our shield” in dangerous times.

But he took a lighter tone, too, noting that Bush, campaigning in a crowd in a department store, once shook hands with a mannequin. Rather than flushing in embarrassment, he simply quipped, “Never know. Gotta ask.”

Meacham recounted how comedian Dana Carvey once said the key to doing an impersonation of Bush was “Mr. Rogers trying to be John Wayne.”

None of that would be a surprise to Bush. Meacham had read his eulogy to him, said Bush spokesman Jim McGrath, and Bush responded to it with the crack: “That’s a lot about me, Jon.”

The congregation at the cathedral, filled with foreign leaders and diplomats, Americans of high office and others touched by Bush’s life, rose for the arrival of the casket, accompanied by clergy of faiths from around the world. In their row together, Trump and former Presidents Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton stood with their spouses and all placed their hands over their hearts.

Alan Simpson, former Republican senator from Wyoming, regaled the congregation with stories from his years as Bush’s friend in Washington. More seriously, he recalled that when he went through a rough patch in the political game, Bush conspicuously stood by him against the advice of aides. “You would have wanted him on your side,” he said.

Simpson said Bush “loved a good joke — the richer the better. And he threw his head back and gave that great laugh, but he never, ever could remember a punchline. And I mean never.”

George W. Bush turned the humor back on the acerbic ex-senator, saying of the late president: “He placed great value on a good joke, so he chose Simpson to speak.”

Meacham praised Bush’s call to volunteerism, placing his “1,000 points of light” alongside Abraham Lincoln’s call to honor “the better angels of our nature” in the American rhetorical canon. Meacham called those lines “companion verses in America’s national hymn.”

Trump had mocked “1,000 points of light” last summer at a rally, saying “What the hell is that? Has anyone ever figured that one out? And it was put out by a Republican, wasn’t it?”

Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney praised Bush as a strong world leader who helped oversee the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union and helped bring about the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, signed into law by his successor, Clinton.

With Trump, a bitter NAFTA critic, seated in the front row, Mulroney hailed the “largest and richest free trade area in the history of the world.” The three countries have agreed on a revised trade agreement pushed by Trump.

Earlier, a military band played “Hail to the Chief” as Bush’s casket was carried down the steps of the U.S. Capitol, where he had lain in state. Family members looked on as servicemen fired off a cannon salute.

His hearse was then driven in a motorcade to the cathedral ceremony, slowing in front of the White House, the route lined with people much of the way, bundled in winter hats and taking photos.

Waiting for his arrival inside, Trump shook hands with Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, who greeted him by saying “Good morning.” Trump did not shake hands with Bill and Hillary Clinton, who looked straight ahead.

Bill Clinton and Mrs. Obama smiled and chatted as music played. Carter was seated silently next to Hillary Clinton in the cavernous cathedral. Obama cracked up laughing at someone’s quip. Vice President Mike Pence shook Carter’s hand.

Trump tweeted Wednesday that the day marked “a celebration for a great man who has led a long and distinguished life.”

Bush’s death makes Carter, also 94 but more than 100 days younger, the oldest living ex-president.

Following the cathedral service, the hearse and its long motorcade drove to the National Mall to pass by the World War II Memorial, a nod to the late president’s service as a World War II Navy pilot, then transferred his remains at Joint Base Andrews for the flight home to Texas with members of his family.

Bush is set to lie in repose at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church before boarding a special funeral train to be carried to his burial Thursday.

On Tuesday, soldiers, citizens in wheelchairs and long lines of others on foot wound through the Capitol Rotunda to view Bush’s casket and honor a president whose legacy included a landmark law affirming the rights of the disabled. Former Sen. Bob Dole, a compatriot in war, peace and political struggle, steadied himself out of his wheelchair and saluted his old friend and one-time rival.

Trump ordered the federal government closed Wednesday for a national day of mourning. Flags on public buildings are flying at half-staff for 30 days.


News
AP
Former President George H.W. Bush
Nation bids ceremonious farewell 2

WASHINGTON — The nation bid goodbye to George H.W. Bush with high praise, cannon salutes and gentle humor Wednesday, celebrating the life of the Texan who embraced a lifetime of service in Washington and was the last president to fight for the U.S. in wartime. Three former presidents looked on at Washington National Cathedral as a fourth — George W. Bush — eulogized his dad as “the brightest of a thousand points of light.”

After three days of remembrance in the capital city, the Air Force plane with Bush’s casket left for a final service in Houston and burial Thursday at his family plot on the presidential library grounds at Texas A&M University in College Station.

His final resting place is alongside Barbara Bush, his wife of 73 years, and Robin Bush, the daughter who died of leukemia at age 3.

His plane, which often serves as Air Force One, arrived at Ellington Field outside Houston in late afternoon. As a motorcade subsequently carried Bush’s remains to the family church, St. Martin’s Episcopal, along a closed interstate, hundreds of people in stopped cars on the other side of the road took pictures and shot cellphone video. One driver of a tanker truck climbed atop the hulking vehicle for a better view, and at least 15 firefighters scaled a pair of stopped firetrucks to salute.

Upon its arrival at the church, Bush’s casket was met by a military band and Houston Democratic Mayor Sylvester Turner.

The national funeral service at the cathedral was a tribute to a president, a patriarch and a faded political era that prized military service and public responsibility. It was laced with indirect comparisons to President Donald Trump but was not consumed by them, as speakers focused on Bush’s public life and character — with plenty of cracks about his goofy side, too.

Trump sat with his wife, a trio of ex-presidents and their wives, several of the group sharp critics of his presidency and one of them, Hillary Clinton, his 2016 Democratic foe. Apart from courteous nods and some handshakes, there was little interaction between Trump and the others.

George W. Bush broke down briefly at the end of his eulogy while invoking the daughter his parents lost in 1953 and his mother, who died in April. He said he took comfort in knowing “Dad is hugging Robin and holding Mom’s hand again.”

The family occupied the White House for a dozen years — the 41st president defeated after one term, the 43rd serving two. Jeb Bush stepped up to try to extend that run but fell short when Trump won the 2016 Republican primaries.

The elder Bush was “the last great-soldier statesman,” historian Jon Meacham said in his eulogy, “our shield” in dangerous times.

But he took a lighter tone, too, noting that Bush, campaigning in a crowd in a department store, once shook hands with a mannequin. Rather than flushing in embarrassment, he simply quipped, “Never know. Gotta ask.”

Meacham recounted how comedian Dana Carvey once said the key to doing an impersonation of Bush was “Mr. Rogers trying to be John Wayne.”

None of that would be a surprise to Bush. Meacham had read his eulogy to him, said Bush spokesman Jim McGrath, and Bush responded to it with the crack: “That’s a lot about me, Jon.”

The congregation at the cathedral, filled with foreign leaders and diplomats, Americans of high office and others touched by Bush’s life, rose for the arrival of the casket, accompanied by clergy of faiths from around the world. In their row together, Trump and former Presidents Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton stood with their spouses and all placed their hands over their hearts.

Alan Simpson, former Republican senator from Wyoming, regaled the congregation with stories from his years as Bush’s friend in Washington. More seriously, he recalled that when he went through a rough patch in the political game, Bush conspicuously stood by him against the advice of aides. “You would have wanted him on your side,” he said.

Simpson said Bush “loved a good joke — the richer the better. And he threw his head back and gave that great laugh, but he never, ever could remember a punchline. And I mean never.”

George W. Bush turned the humor back on the acerbic ex-senator, saying of the late president: “He placed great value on a good joke, so he chose Simpson to speak.”

Meacham praised Bush’s call to volunteerism, placing his “1,000 points of light” alongside Abraham Lincoln’s call to honor “the better angels of our nature” in the American rhetorical canon. Meacham called those lines “companion verses in America’s national hymn.”

Trump had mocked “1,000 points of light” last summer at a rally, saying “What the hell is that? Has anyone ever figured that one out? And it was put out by a Republican, wasn’t it?”

Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney praised Bush as a strong world leader who helped oversee the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union and helped bring about the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, signed into law by his successor, Clinton.

With Trump, a bitter NAFTA critic, seated in the front row, Mulroney hailed the “largest and richest free trade area in the history of the world.” The three countries have agreed on a revised trade agreement pushed by Trump.

Earlier, a military band played “Hail to the Chief” as Bush’s casket was carried down the steps of the U.S. Capitol, where he had lain in state. Family members looked on as servicemen fired off a cannon salute.

His hearse was then driven in a motorcade to the cathedral ceremony, slowing in front of the White House, the route lined with people much of the way, bundled in winter hats and taking photos.

Waiting for his arrival inside, Trump shook hands with Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, who greeted him by saying “Good morning.” Trump did not shake hands with Bill and Hillary Clinton, who looked straight ahead.

Bill Clinton and Mrs. Obama smiled and chatted as music played. Carter was seated silently next to Hillary Clinton in the cavernous cathedral. Obama cracked up laughing at someone’s quip. Vice President Mike Pence shook Carter’s hand.

Trump tweeted Wednesday that the day marked “a celebration for a great man who has led a long and distinguished life.”

Bush’s death makes Carter, also 94 but more than 100 days younger, the oldest living ex-president.

Following the cathedral service, the hearse and its long motorcade drove to the National Mall to pass by the World War II Memorial, a nod to the late president’s service as a World War II Navy pilot, then transferred his remains at Joint Base Andrews for the flight home to Texas with members of his family.

Bush is set to lie in repose at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church before boarding a special funeral train to be carried to his burial Thursday.

On Tuesday, soldiers, citizens in wheelchairs and long lines of others on foot wound through the Capitol Rotunda to view Bush’s casket and honor a president whose legacy included a landmark law affirming the rights of the disabled. Former Sen. Bob Dole, a compatriot in war, peace and political struggle, steadied himself out of his wheelchair and saluted his old friend and one-time rival.

Trump ordered the federal government closed Wednesday for a national day of mourning. Flags on public buildings are flying at half-staff for 30 days.


Local
Shelter services for the homeless increase

BARRE — Advocates for the homeless in central Vermont report they have been able to improve and increase services for people seeking shelter, food and support services.

Officials report that the early start to winter, two snow storms and cold temperatures created an increase in demand for services.

Once again, churches in the region have responded by providing additional meal services in Montpelier and Barre, while churches in the Lamoille Valley, are being asked to shelter the homeless until a new shelter opens in Hyde Park.

Patrick Donegan is the new interim executive director at the Good Samaritan Haven in Barre, which has 30 beds. He is also responsible for overseeing overflow shelter services at the Hedding United Methodist Church in Barre with 14 beds and the Bethany Church in Montpelier with 20 beds.

“We haven’t yet reached capacity, but things are going well,” Donegan said.

He said pop-up warming stations run by three churches in Montpelier Christ Church on Mondays, Trinity Church on Tuesdays and the Unitarian Church on Thursdays provide evening meals, in addition to the rotating interfaith community lunches provided during the week.

In Barre, different churches also offer pop-up warming stations or the Good Samaritan Haven will bring food to the overflow shelter at the Hedding United Methodist Church for dinner. Barre churches also offer a breakfast service for the homeless.

During the day, the homeless have to leave the shelters and most head to Another Way at 125 Barre St., which is open seven days a week.

Another Way works with people who are homeless, unemployed or suffering with addiction, mental health issues and other life crises. The peer-led nonprofit helps people transition, recover and move toward a better place in their lives. The organization helps people find housing, employment, counseling and other services.

“We have made a huge effort to have somewhere for people to be at all hours so they don’t have to be out in the cold,” Donegan said. “They leave the shelter in the morning and can go to Another Way, seven days a week. Lunches are provided at community churches in Montpelier and in Barre, and then we provide lunch at Another Way on Saturday and Sunday.”

Earlier this year, the Legislature appropriated $330,000 to fund services at the Good Samaritan and the two overflow shelters in Barre and Montpelier.

Advocates of the funding said shelters are better able to connect the homeless with employment and training programs, affordable housing and mental health and disability services that could lead to more permanent housing.

An additional $100,000 from the Legislature this year will be used to open a new 12-bed facility in Lamoille County. The new Lamoille Community House shelter is situated in a 3,000-square-foot property donated by the Lamoille County Sheriff’s Department behind the Hyde Park Opera House.

However, Lamoille County Sheriff Roger Marcoux said the project has been delayed, despite submitting a zoning application for the change of use for the building in September. He said the Development Review Board only met Nov. 15, and after closing the public hearing, has 45 days to issue a written decision, followed by a 30-day appeal period.

“We only met with the DRB on November 15, which is the day we would have liked to open,” Marcoux said. “In the meantime, we contracted with a company to renovate the inside of it.

“The only things we have to do is to put in the new windows; everything else is done, so we’re ready to go,” he added.

Marcoux said there were 39 adults and 24 children that met the criteria for being homeless in Lamoille County.

The Hyde Park shelter began as an interfaith alliance of churches that have worked together in past years to meet the needs of the homeless in the Lamoille Valley area during winter, providing space in church basements in Johnson, Hyde Park and Stowe. Congregations in Wolcott, Morrisville and other neighboring towns were also involved in community outreach to the homeless.

Marcoux said the interfaith alliance would be asked to continue to provide services until the Hyde Park shelter can open.

stephen.mills

@timesargus.com

stephen.mills

@timesargus.com


Local
Ice rink to return before Christmas

MONTPELIER — The ice rink on the State House lawn in the Capital City will make a welcome comeback later this month.

City officials confirmed this week it is hoped to install a newly designed rink around Dec. 17, in time for holiday celebrations around Christmas. The new design is expected to be more in keeping with the “architectural and aesthetic integrity of the State House grounds,” as prescribed by the Capital Complex Commission which approved the design.

It follows a review of the rink first proposed by the Put a Rink on It Committee in 2016. The rink returned in winter 2017, but only on the understanding that a more suitable design be developed after complaints that a wooden railing around the rink made it “look like a stable,” in the words of one city official.

Architect Stephen Frey then presented a plan for a new design that would use materials, such as clear dasherboards seen at hockey rinks, and more subtle lighting, that was approved by the Capital Complex Commission in July.

“The new design has clear dasherboards – walls, essentially – set in an aluminum frame,” said Assistant City Manager Sue Allen, who oversees the project after the city took over management of the rink. “It’s much more professional looking than the previous wooden rink, and is a design used for other municipal skating rinks.”

Allen said improvements in the design would provide a more level surface that would be easier to maintain and safer for skaters.

“The rink holds about four inches of water, which should make it much easier to keep frozen,” Allen said. “Last year, we had to freeze up to 16 inches of water in some areas, which was time consuming and led to the rink being closed more often than we wanted. This year we hope to open it earlier in the season, and keep it open a bit longer as well.”

Allen said the city had state approval to use the new rink design for five years.

“It’s easy to disassemble and store during the off-seasons,” Allen said. “The city has a little Bambini to keep the ice groomed. And as always, the skating will be free and open to the public.

“This rink is the same size as last year’s structure. Many of us would love to see a slightly larger rink, and this dasherboard design could allow us to expand it in the future if we choose to,” she added.

Allen said the total cost of the rink is expected to be about $60,000.

“We have $25,000 from the Recreation Department, $15,000 from a state recreation grant, and a pledge from National Life,” Allen said. “We have one outstanding grant application that we’re waiting to hear about, but confident we can pay the bill. I’m really excited about getting the rink up and running.”

“In the past two pilot project years, we’ve seen kids and families out skating on cold days and nights. It’s a great free recreational opportunity. And we believe the rink has drawn visitors and tourists to Montpelier to give a boost to the local economy,” Allen added.

Allen said the City Council and Mayor Anne Watson were enthusiastic about keeping the rink on the State House lawn, and Gov. Phil Scott and Chris Cole, commissioner of buildings and general services, were also strong supporters.

The rink will be seven days a week and motion-activated lights will allow for nighttime skating.

stephen.mills

@timesargus.com


jebcas / Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff Photo  

Light Bright

Community members, including Heather Voisin and her daughter Marie, 10, center, sing carols Wednesday night during the Vermont College of Fine Art’s annual Illumination Night celebration in Montpelier.


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