Smile!

BARRE — Around Main Street this week, some good soul was paying it forward with some good advice.

Handwritten notes were found at local businesses, as well as in hallways, alleys and even at the Aldrich Public Library.

The simplest of the messages was: “Smile!”

Sometimes one word is enough.

Other messages ranged from “Good things take time,” and “Worrying is stupid, it’s like walking around with an umbrella waiting for it to rain” to “Wherever life takes you, bloom with grace” and “You owe yourself the love that you so freely give to other people.”

Cynthia Duprey, owner of Next Chapter Bookstore, found one of the notes in her store this week.

“After hearing of random inspirational quotes around Main Street, I was pleasantly surprised to find one in our bookstore,” Duprey says. “What took probably a few minutes for the writer had a huge ripple effect and brought smiles and hope to so many people.”

Photos of the notes made the rounds on social media, and were shared over and over. As of Wednesday afternoon, the do-gooder’s identity was still a mystery, but the messages were well-received.

And appreciated.

From stage to stage?

BARRE — Last Saturday Danielle Trottier was crowned “Miss Vermont’s Outstanding Teen” on the stage at the Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph. This Saturday the soon-to-be-senior at Spaulding High School will participate in a dance recital at the Barre Opera House.

It’s been a busy week for Trottier, 17, who has done the pageant thing before, but says she was as surprised as anyone when she was selected to serve as Vermont’s teen ambassador this year.

How surprised?

So surprised that Trottier actually started to applaud when the winner was announced, before realizing it was her.

It was a priceless moment for Trottier, a jazz dancer who impressed the judges in the talent competition when she performed to “Cinema Italiano,” and has a heartwarming platform — “Breaking Barriers” — she’s looking forward to promoting.

It’s one that leans heavily on Trottier’s passion for dance and her commitment to sharing it with those with developmental disabilities.

Seems Trottier, who has been dancing since she was two, teaches a once-a-month class at Joni’s School of Dance, which will be holding a recital at the opera house on Saturday.

Trottier, who earned $1,000 in cash scholarships and $3,550 in in-kind scholarships to Dale Carnegie of Vermont last weekend, says she’s looking forward to this weekend’s recital. She is also looking forward to representing Vermont in Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Competition in Florida later this summer.

Spreading the wealth

MONTPELIER — The National Life Insurance Group continues to lend significant support to schools, nonprofits and communities around the state and elsewhere.

The company’s foundation announced this week that it just granted a record $1.9 million (that’s a lot!) in funding for a variety of causes.

Funding included $1.4 million in grants to nonprofits in Vermont and Texas where National Life employees live and work. Forty percent of the donations support hunger relief efforts, including $175,000 to the Vermont Foodbank, $100,000 to Hunger Free Vermont and $100,000 to the Texas Foodbank.

More than $270,000 was matched through the company’s employee donation campaign, “Share the Good” and $85,000 was donated to Vermont communities through the foundation’s Main Street Grants program.

In addition to grants, National Life also encourages employees to volunteer with nonprofits and schools and provide in-kind donations, including laptop computers.

Relay ready!

BARRE — It’s all over but the tears, the laughing (there are bound to be plenty of both this weekend at Spaulding High School) and the fundraising as the Relay for Life of Central Vermont — a festive and moving event that means an awful lot to a growing number of people.

That’s a good thing and a bad thing for an annual event that is part of global effort to help the American Cancer Society find a cure for cancer.

Survivors, caregivers their family and friends will spend 12 hours walking around the track that rings A.G. Pendo Memorial Field this weekend.

The opening ceremony is set for 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and the closing ceremony will be held at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday. In between, participants will walk and talk. Share stories of those who survived and those who regrettably didn’t.

All are welcome.

Holy Hamburglar!

BERLIN — Things looked pretty sinister at the McDonald’s drive-through on the Barre-Montpelier Road on Tuesday night.

The lights were flickering, yellow crime scene tape cordoned off the area and a sheets of white plastic were on the ground.

A Mc-crime scene?

Hardly.

Seems they repaved the drive-through, spread the plastic sheets to protect it from the rain, and used the crime scene tape to deter drivers from ruining the work.

The drive-though was back in business Wednesday.

Float our boat

MONTPELIER — A year out from launch, there is growing momentum to celebrate the commissioning of the nuclear-attack submarine USS VERMONT (SSN 792).

The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine, the third Navy vessel to bear the state’s name, is under construction at General Dynamic Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut, and is due to be commissioned in a ceremony about this time next year.

Enter the commissioning committee of the USS VERMONT, which is comprised of 27 members from across the state. The committee has been working on organizing Vermont’s participation in the ceremony and is calling on Vermont businesses to contribute products. The group is also organizing a series of events with a “Made in Vermont” theme, before and during the commissioning of the submarine in Connecticut.

To make it all happen, there is a $250,000 fundraising goal to pay for events and commemorative memorabilia.

Events planned by the commissioning committee include: a barbecue dinner for the crew; lunch for boat sponsor Gloria Valdez, a former deputy assistant secretary of the Navy; and a reception for sponsors, donors, ship builders and VIPs. There will also be a platform breakfast before commissioning ceremony and a post-commissioning reception.

The sub’s commissioning is a golden marketing opportunity for Vermont companies to market their products, says Debra Martin, chairwoman of the commissioning committee.

“Vermont is known for its outstanding quality of products from food to lumber and wool and everything in between,” Martin says. “We want this celebration to be uniquely Vermont and for every aspect of it to resonate ‘Vermont’. That’s why we want to make sure that any Vermont business that wants to participate has the opportunity to do so.”

There are already products being developed to promote the commissioning of the submarine, including a collaboration with Vermont Teddy Bear which has designed a T-shirt for a Dewey Bear, named after Admiral George Dewey, the Montpelier-born admiral who helped win the 1898 Spanish-American War. It is already on sale through the www.ussvermont.org.

In appealing for funding support, Martin notes that the committee is responsible for raising money for all events associated with the commissioning ceremony while the Navy pays for the commissioning of the submarine.

To contact Debra Martin, call 802-249-0487 or email ussvermont792@gmail.com. To learn more about the USS VERMONT, visit www.ussvermont.org.

Medicaid parade?

BARRE — Memorial Day is behind us and Independence Day isn’t until next month, so what’s up with the parade set for Saturday in Barre?

Turns out the Vermont Workers’ Center is organizing the parade (and the meal they’ll be serving in City Hall Park afterwards) to make a statement about protecting and expanding Medicaid.

Folks who want to join in the parade or hear are encouraged to meet in the parking lot of the First Presbyterian Church at the corner of Summer and Seminary streets at noon on Saturday.

The family-friendly parade will step off from there and end at the park, where the Vermont Workers’ Center has the city’s permission to host a barbecue.

Multimedia medley

MONTPELIER — Making its pitch for attention during this week’s New England Foundation for the Arts conference in the Capital City is a group of Montpelier High School students.

“Blueprints: Mapping the Journey from Apathy to Empathy” is a multimedia audio/visual art installation at the school by 70 students that can be viewed this evening (Thursday), from 5 to 6 p.m. The audio stories will also be available through the Vermont Folklife Center.

Four MHS teachers teamed up with a musician, a visual artist and a media producer to help students produce art, music and audio stories based on ethnographic interviews that explore the customs of individual peoples and cultures.

English teacher Sarah Squier was one of them.

“The process was designed to help students relate to and build connections with other people by showing them empathy, respect and understanding, regardless of similarities or differences,” says Squier.

‘Cooking Cockroach’?

MONTPELIER — Also competing for attention today (Thursday) is what sounds like a new low in nutrition options.

Thankfully “Cooking Cockroach” isn’t a recipe, its the title of a do-it-yourself cookbook and also the name of the author, so described by a friend who said he could make a meal out of anything.

“Cooking Cockroach” is actually Joey Truman, a New Yorker, and the subtitle of his book is “A Guide to Modern Poverty.”

When in New York, we’re told, Truman is a musician, does odd-jobs and is a “co-parent” He’s also a writer with a knack for expounding on how to make a meal with whatever is available. High on that list is food from food banks like the two that will benefit if Truman can raise raise some cash during three events today. If Truman can raise $1,000 there is an offer to match it with proceeds going to the Montpelier Food Pantry and the Vermont Foodbank.

Back to the book.

We’re told it’s about Truman and his bizarre take on life and a journal/memoir of personal experiences – complete with healthy doses of sage advice. Along the way, there are oddball ways of preparing the sometimes most disparate range of ingredients.

It’s all served up with an unapologetic irreverence, brutal honesty and some expletives.

It’s one of the reasons his publisher, Miette Gillette, of Hancock, snapped him up for her stable of writers who are committed to “restoring degradation and degeneracy to the literary arts.”

It’s also the reason Truman is in Montpelier for just a day, with cooking demos at Hunger Mountain Co-op from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Bear Pond Books, from 2 to 4 p.m.; and The Garage Cultural Center, from 5 to 7 p.m.

Should be a hoot!

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