Got beds?

EAST MONTPELIER — Co-hosting the Vermont All State Music Festival, as U-32 Middle and High School and Montpelier High School are this year, is no small endeavor. It involves advanced planning, careful coordination and a few hundred beds.

We’re told some of you could help with the latter, because while a chunk of the state’s best student singers and musicians live right here in central Vermont, 400 of them don’t.

The good news?

Organizers have lined up host families for 306 of those students.

The bad news?

They’re still 74 beds short.

That’s where you come in. If you have the room to spare and can host two or more high school students during the festival that runs from May 8-11, Michele Tofel Murray or Hilary Goldblatt would sure like to hear from you.

Murray teaches at U-32 and can be reached at Goldblatt teaches in Montpelier, and her email address is Either can answer any questions you might have, and both can provide a copy of the required background check form.

We don’t know all the hosting details, but we do know families who volunteer are asked to supply breakfast and snacks (lunches and dinners will be served at U-32), where the students will spend most of their time.

Transportation to school is on the host family and must be provided by someone 25 years or older.

If that doesn’t sound like too tall an order, you could sure help the 92nd edition of the annual music festival get off to a problem-free start.

The festival itself will include a series of performances starting with the All State Parade through downtown Montpelier at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 8. The following evening will feature an 8 p.m. scholarship concert in the U-32 auditorium. On Friday (May 10 if you don’t have a calendar handy), there will be jazz concert in the U-32 auditorium, and on Saturday afternoon a pair of performances will be held in the school’s gymnasium. At 2 p.m. the All State chorus will perform, and at 4 p.m. there will be an orchestra and band concert.

We’ll keep you posted on the host family hunt and festival as it approaches.

‘Swap’ drop

WORCESTER — On Tuesday, folks in Worcester were casting ballots at Town Hall. On Saturday, it will look a whole lot more like a thrift store.

The transformation will start today as Worcester residents who’ve been trained to clean out their closets as part of a twice-a-year tradition that started eight years ago can drop off clean but wearable clothing (and accessories) they no longer want at Town Hall.

Volunteers led by Karen Hoskey will accept clothing from noon to 5 p.m. today and again on Friday in preparation for the Worcester Clothing Swap held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

If history is any indicator, turnout for the popular event will far exceed the number of Worcester residents (37) who cast ballots in Tuesday’s budget vote for U-32 Middle and High School. Those familiar with the event shouldn’t expect any radical changes, though first-timers should know the suggested donation is still $1 a bag, and proceeds still go to the Worcester Food Shelf and Community Kitchen.

It’s BYOB (bring your own bags), but refreshments will be available. You’re welcome to quickly browse what’s available and be on your way or linger longer and strategically acquire clothes for yourself and perhaps your growing children.

Saluting service

BARRE TOWN — “Thank you, volunteers!”

That was the message from the Barre Town Select Board at its regular meeting Tuesday night. Every year the town picks a night in April to thank those who serve the town voluntarily.

Every volunteer in attendance received a token of appreciation, be it a pen, bag or flashlight keychain.

The town also recognized volunteers who have been at it for years. Mark Nicholson has served on the Development Review Board for 25 years. Charlie Woodhams has served just as long on the Housing Advisory Committee.

Mike Jarvis was recognized for his 10 years on Flags for Veterans. Mark Nicholson has also served 10 years on the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission, as has Byron Atwood.

John Valsangiacomo has served 10 years on the DRB. Jenny Hyslop has served a decade on the HAC, and Joe Coates has volunteered for 10 years at the town’s lawn waste site.

For the five-year mark, George Clain has served that long on the Planning Commission, Dave Rouleau on the Recreation Board, Marianne Kotch for nature walks and Dawn Farnham for the town’s semi-annual bulk trash day.

SPArty time!

BARRE — The acronym-happy folks at SPA (Studio Place Arts) are hosting its annual BASH (Big Arty Spa Happening), and you’re invited to the Friday evening event we like to think of as a SPArty.

The festive, fun fundraiser features great art, good music, light refreshments, a cash bar and a silent auction.

That sure sounds like a SPArty to us, but if they prefer BASH, who are we to argue?

We encourage folks to attend the two-hour BASH, which is set to start at 7 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $15 in advance (there’s still time, just call 479-7069, or use the Paypal option at, or $25 at the door.

Proceeds from the ticket sales (like the silent auction and the cash bar) support SPA’s education and exhibition programs, which have helped make the regional visual arts center a fixture in downtown Barre.

The second-floor silent auction will be sandwiched in between two live musical performances. Blue Fox and the Gold Tooth Gators will be playing blues on the first floor, while the Sally Fox Trio will be putting on a light jazz performance on the third floor.

The main floor art exhibit, “Deep Blue,” will feature the work of nearly 30 artists whose pieces are inspired by oceanic life forms.

The third-floor exhibit, “Works on Paper by Teresa Celemin,” is a one-woman show that showcases Celemin’s work combining figure drawing, abstract marks, words, symbols and fantastical creatures.

If any, or all of that sounds interesting to you, don’t hesitate to join the SPArty.

Top recruiter

BARRE — A local Army recruiter has a date at the Pentagon next week.

Seems Staff Sgt. Rick Badem, who spends his days running the recruiting station on North Main Street will be honored next Wednesday during a ceremony at the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes.

We’re told Badem, who lives in Barre and was recently appointed to fill a vacant seat on the city’s Planning Commission, will be honored as one of the U.S. Army’s top 13 recruiting station commanders.

Between January and March, the team of recruiters led by Badem helped a dozen individuals find careers in the Army. By Vermont standards, Badem is off to a solid start this year.

Badem joined the Army 12 years ago to learn a marketable skill: computer networking.

“My parents didn’t even know I enlisted until after I did, but they were fine with it,” he says. “I am very proud to be able to represent my station and all our achievements at a high level.”

Twice deployed to Afghanistan, Badem was stationed in Louisiana and Colorado before being permanently reclassified as an Army recruiter and settling in Barre two years ago.

In addition to serving on the Planning Commission, Badem volunteers at the local VFW and American Legion posts.

As a station commander, Badem leads a team of recruits that helps potential applicants understand the education and certification opportunities, leader development programs and 150 career options the Army offers. He also recruits and screens applicants to ensure they meet the qualifications to serve. Currently, only about 29 percent of youth meet the Army’s cognitive, physical and moral requirements for service.

It’s an important job that Badem apparently does very well.

Bike bonanza

MONTPELIER — The slow-thaw start to early spring will add greater challenges to the seventh annual Muddy Onion Spring Classic Gravel Ride in the Capital City on Saturday.

Sponsored by Onion River Outdoors, the event is expected to draw about 450 intrepid riders from New England states and Quebec for the back-road ride through central Vermont.

Starting and finishing at ORO on Langdon Street, there will be a choice of two loops of 21.5 or 39 miles, with riders starting out together before spreading out and returning individually or in groups.

Though the store will be closed from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, ORO will be well-prepared for the event, providing water for all riders and a barbecue after they return.

Looking ahead for those interested in trading their wheels, the annual ORO Bike Swap is May 4, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information, call ORO at 225-6736 or visit

Ice rink status

MONTPELIER — City officials say they’ve received inquiries about when the ice rink on the State House lawn will be removed.

And the answer is …

… not yet.

Seems the rink won’t be removed until the ground beneath it softens sufficiently to avoid pulling up frozen sod when support braces are taken out.

On a related note, officials say the rink was well-used during the winter and was “a successful year with the new look,” referring to the redesign of the rink that was 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.

Hats off to architect Stephen Frey for the design that used materials, such as clear dasherboards seen at hockey rinks and more subtle lighting. The new design also created a more level surface that compensated for the slope of the lawn and made the ice even and safer to skate on.

While we’re at it, kudos also to the Put a Rink on It Committee that first proposed the rink in 2016, and to the city, which took over its management last year.

The $60,000 expense was funded by $25,000 from the Recreation Department, $15,000 from a state recreation grant and a pledge from National Life.

Give blood

MONTPELIER — The Red Cross will hold a blood drive at Community College of Vermont, 660 Elm St. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday.

While walk-ins are welcome, you can streamline your visit by booking an appointment in advance. Just call 800-733-2767, or visit and enter ccv.

Touch a Truck

MONTPELIER — Do you have a touchable truck that might fascinate and delight young children?

If so, Recreation Director Arne McMullen would sure like to hear from you in the run-up to the city’s annual Touch a Truck event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 19 at Montpelier High School track.

McMullen is looking for “fun vehicles” to display, which typically includes ambulances, fire trucks, police cruisers, tractor-trailer trucks, military vehicles, school buses, backhoes, bucket loaders and cement mixers.

If you’ve got a vehicle to add to display at the family-friendly event, just shoot McMullen an email at

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