Dollars for scholar

BARRE — The folks at Spaulding High School were pretty proud of senior Lia Rubel before she earned a one-week trip to Washington, D.C., and a $10,000 scholarship.

Rubel was one of seven Vermont students chosen to interview for the United States Senate Youth Program Scholarship and it turns out she impressed.

We’re not sure who will join Rubel, but she and one other Vermont student will head to Washington in March as part of an initiative that was started in 1962 and is underwritten by The Hearst Foundations.

The extremely competitive merit-based program brings 104 of the most outstanding high school students — two from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity — to the nation’s capital for an intensive week-long study of the federal government and the people who lead it.

Rubel recently punched her ticket by nailing her interview and securing the week-long trip and the $10,000 scholarship.

Well done!

That was easy?

BARRE – Concerned that its “first-come-first-served” coin drop policy was prompting some organizations to make insanely early requests to collect cash from passing motorists on North Main Street city councilors sought to solve the problem last year.

In an effort to level the playing field the council decided requests for coin drops (they permit five a year, not counting two that are pre-approved) must be submitted after the first of each year.

They were, according to City Clerk Carol Dawes, who arrived at her office on Jan. 2 to find enough emailed requests to fill the entire coin drop season.

Yes, there is a coin drop season in Barre and it runs from March 31 to Dec. 20, though two pending requests haven’t yet been approved the schedule is set and some organizations that have regularly requested coin drops needn’t bother asking this year.

That list includes the Barre Partnership, Aldrich Public Library and the Barre Lions Club. All are worthy organizations and all are already too late to get a coin drop this year.

The season will open May 4 with the first of two pre-approved coin drops – the one that raises money each year for the substance free send-off for seniors at Spaulding High School.

The Project Graduation coin drop will be followed by one for the Barre Kiwanis Club on May 25 and another for Central Vermont Special Olympics on June 15. Councilors approved those coin drops and a third requested by the American Legion Post #10 on July 6 when they met on Tuesday night.

The remaining two requests will be presented for the council’s approval next week. Project Independence has asked for a coin drop Sept. 14 and the Barre Figure Skating Club wants to solicit money from passing motorists Oct. 4.

The council’s own pre-approved coin drop will be held in December though a date for the holiday fundraiser hasn’t been selected.

Run for it!

BERLIN – Two members of the Select Board have announced they’ll be stepping down in March and at least one of them is worried by what he perceives as an absence of interest.

Perhaps we can help.

Though Chairman Brad Towne is running for re-election in March, board members Pete Kelley and Wayne Lamberton aren’t. That creates a couple of openings on a select board in a town where contested races are rare and candidates are sometimes hard to come by.

Some of that is likely do to folks learning about soon-to-be-open seats after it is too late to run for them.

It isn’t yet and if you’re a Berlin resident who might be interested in a one-year term on the Select Board you might want to swing by the municipal office building and pick up a nominating petition from Town Clerk Rosemary Morse.

In order to guarantee your name appears on the ballot you need to collect the signatures of 20 registered Berlin voters. That shouldn’t take long, but waiting until the last minute is never a good idea.

Petitions must be filed with Morse by Jan. 28 at 5 p.m. If you have any questions just give her a call at 223-4405 and she’ll fill you in.

If no one runs, the board’s remaining three members will have to recruit and appoint people to fill the vacancies after Town Meeting Day.

Two down

BARRE — A Planning Commission that was carrying three vacancies head doesn’t have to worry about two of them any more because reinforcements are on the way.

Even as the shorthanded commission readies for a Jan. 23 public hearing on the new Unified Development Ordinance it has been working on for more than two years, two new members will join them.

This week city councilors appointed Rick Badem and Rachel Rudi to the seven-member commission that still carries a vacancy, but is out of the danger zone when it comes to a quorum.

Though Badem and Rudi didn’t participate in the just-completed rewrite of the city’s zoning and subdivision regulation, they’ll be seated just in time to finish work on that project before the commission turns its attention to updating an expiring master plan.

Stone soup?

PLAINFIELD — If snow village building, fireside crafting, story telling, earth oven baking and a “stone soup” potluck sound good to you prepare to mark your calendar.

EarthWalk is holding a Winter Community Day in Hawthorn Meadow on the Goddard College campus a week from Saturday (that’s Jan. 19).

The free event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m and those planning to attend should know it’s BYOB — “bring your own bowl.” While you’re at it, grab a spoon and something hearty (washed and chopped) for the soup.

People are welcome, but EarthWalk asks pets be left at home.

If you’d like more information about the event go to, or call 454-8500.

Two for one

BARRE — Last month Mayor Lucas Herring flew solo, inviting folks with questions and concerns to join him for a cup of coffee at Espresso Bueno. On Sunday morning he’ll have a wing man.

Police Chief Tim Bombardier will join Herring at Espresso Bueno from 8 to 10 a.m. and residents who would like to bend their ears on public safety-related issues are encouraged to join them for coffee.

Herring says the morning coffees will occur monthly and he’s hoping to recruit other department heads to join him on a rotating basis.


MONTPELIER – A shout out to World War II veteran Al Besser, 94, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor — the nation’s highest honor — from Rep. Peter Welch in a ceremony at City Hall on Monday.

An underage Besser signed up for military service after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, and at 18, learned Mandarin and volunteered for hazardous duty as part of an elite group in the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA.

He parachuted behind enemy lines in China to work with the resistance, working alongside Chinese nationals to disrupt Japanese occupation forces.

During the ceremony, Welch noted that of the 13,000 members in the OSS, only 100 still survive.

“Albert Besser is an American hero deserving of this honor,” Welch said. “Though no award can adequately do justice to the immense sacrifice and bravery of OSS veterans, I am pleased that this remarkable unit is finally getting the recognition it deserves. Mr. Besser is truly exemplary of the Greatest Generation.”

When the war ended, Besser became a successful attorney in New Jersey before moving to Vermont. He lives in Morrisville.

Pop-up art

MONTPELIER — For one night only, this Friday, there will be a pop-up reception to celebrate winning bird photographs selected by the Vermont chapter of the National Audubon Society at the T.W. Wood Gallery on Barre Street in the Capital City.

To be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., it will be a chance to learn about local bird life and Audubon Vermont’s conservation, education and policy work. Reproductions of the winning photos will be on sale.

Award-winning entries include photos of the red-winged blackbird, long-tailed tit, fawn-breasted brilliant and the bald eagle.

The photos were selected from more than 8,000 entries submitted by photographers from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and 10 Canadian provinces. Photographers submitted photos in three categories: professional, amateur and youth.

It will also be a chance to learn more about the many bird species protected under the 100-year-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the most important bird conservation law which is currently under siege in Congress and by the Department of the Interior.

To learn more about the “Year of the Bird” and the partnership between National Geographic, Audubon, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, BirdLifeInternational and dozens of other partners around the world celebrating the year, visit

To learn more about the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and how Audubon is fighting to protect migratory birds in North America, visit

Wellness bar

MONTPELIER — There will also be a Pop-up Wellness Bar at The Front Gallery, also on Barre Street in the Capital City, on Thursdays through May, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Local artist Lydia Gatzow, who has exhibited at the gallery, will be serving vegan mocktails and herbal infusions with essential oils that “encourages mindful drinking, positive energy and zero-waste.”

All ages are welcome and Gatzow urges , “Drop by and feel inspired from the inside out!”

For more info, contact Gatzow at LYDIA@LYDIAGATZOW.COM.

Reflective art

MONTPELIER — Local artist Susan Calza will have a grand opening of her new gallery in the Capital City on Saturday, from 2 to 4:30 p.m.

But be warned, her first exhibition at 138 Main St. will be of a serious nature. Titled “Domestic Disasters,” it is an installation that recognizes 340 mass shootings in 2018.

The exhibition is a fund-raiser in support of gun control and the victims and families of gun violence.

The show will remain up through Feb. 10.

Hours of opening will be: Friday, 4 to 7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m.

For more information, email or visit

Got a poem?

MONTPELIER — A reminder about the call for submissions for PoemCity 2019 from the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in the Capital City.

Submissions will be accepted through Feb. 4.

Selected poems will be displayed in shop windows throughout downtown Montpelier during the month of April.

In addition to the text display, PoemCity features poetry and art installations, poetry-related workshops and readings.

For full details of the application process and for students of Vermont College of Fine Arts, visit or contact Rachel Senechal, KHL program and development coordinator, at 223-3338.

After-school action

MONTPELIER — Union Elementary School is offering a range of after-school programs, both at school and off-site, to keep students safe, busy and motivated.

A variety of offerings includes academic, music and art programs, the chance to play chess and other board games or venture outdoors with nature programs.

For a full list of programs and opportunities, call the school.

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