Mystery material

BERLIN — When you’re being asked for permission to stockpile up to 300 tons of hazardous material on private property it makes you curious. When you’re told it’s from the State House it makes you a comedian.

Let’s back up.

As Monday night’s Select Board meeting was coming to a close Town Administrator Vince Conti shared a request he just received from Mike Pitonyak of Capitol Earth Moving. Seems Pitonyak, who owns property across Route 12 from the Capital City Grange was looking to stockpile up to 300 tons of hazardous material on his land for up to two weeks.

Cue the curiosity.

“What is it?” Selectman Brad Towne asked.

It was the first in a flurry of questions, a few of which Conti was able to answer.

“It is something from the State House that has been declared … hazardous material,” he said after consulting Pitonyak’s written request.

Board members agreed they needed to know more even as Towne marveled at the volume of hazardous material — 300 tons — given the source — the State House.

Cue the comedians.

“Chang(ing) of (the) guard,” Chairman Justin Lawrence joked.

“Could be bad coffee,” Towne surmised.

Wrong and wrong, though Towne was a whole lot closer.

So what is the mystery material?

Ashes.

Seriously.

While the 300-ton volume is probably inflated, Pitonyak says he expects to stockpile about 200-yards of ashes that are believed to be tied to the “previous burning of the State House.”

Or is it the “burning of the previous State House?”

You decide.

An earlier version of the State House — the second iteration — was almost entirely destroyed by fire in 1857 and apparently ashes from that fire have been discovered on site, classified as hazardous material, and with the Berlin board’s blessing, will be briefly stored on Pitonyak’s property before being shipped to the landfill in Coventry.

‘Square’ dance?

BARRE — The folks at Quarry Kitchen & Spirits have big plans for Depot Square on Saturday, and we’re not just talking about the giant “Jenga” and “Connect 4” games patrons will be invited to play as part of a day-long celebration that will spill into the evening (and the street).

Jacob Green, a veritable one-man band, will kick off a series of two-hour musical performances at 11 a.m. The Bliss Brothers will follow Green’s act at 1 p.m. and give way to the Jaded Ravins at 3 p.m. The final live performance, featuring Imagine That, will start at 5 p.m., but the music won’t end when the band stops playing at 7 p.m. That’s when DJ Mike Douglas takes over for two hours.

Though walk-ins are welcome, those who want to make sure they can catch a particular act are urged to call 479-7002 to make reservations.

The games — like the music — will be played all day and into the night and include a regular-sized cornhole set in addition to the supersized “Jenga” and “Connect 4.”

It isn’t the Barre Heritage Festival, but it sure sounds like a fun time.

Coming attractions

MONTPELIER — After taking the pandemic off (what special events didn’t?) the Hunger Mountain Co-op’s “Brown Bag Summer Concert Series will make its Capital City comeback two weeks from today.

That’s the word from Dan Groberg, executive director of Montpelier Alive, who credits Fred Wilber for booking the lineup for the six-concert series that will kick-off at noon Thursday, Aug. 5, in the courtyard of Christ Episcopal Church.

“We are excited to bring back the Brown Bag Concert Series for 2021,” Groberg says.

Thanks to Wilber, this year’s free concert series will feature a mix of community favorites and eclectic new sounds.

It will start with the Aug. 5 performance of Sabouyouma, who combine traditional West African dance music with contemporary funk and reggae, and wrap up on Sept. 9 when Kerubo will be singing African folk music and playing Afro-jazz.

The four Thursdays in between are all spoken for. McCaffrey, Coane & Rowell will perform followed by A2VT on Aug. 19, The Larkspurs on Aug. 26, and The Revenants on Sept. 2.

The concerts are all free, all at noon, all on Thursdays and all held in the courtyard of a church that generously donates the use of its courtyard, but isn’t responsible for the concerts.

Show stopper?

BARRE — Oil and water don’t mix and apparently “Grease” is no different because last Saturday’s wet weather forecast prompted Barre Rotarians to pull the plug on their projector and cancel the first in a renewed series of drive-in movies.

It was a good call.

Though there wasn’t any lightning to speak of, there was a boatload of rain — more than enough to justify the cancellation of the John Travolta classic.

Rotarians planned to take this Saturday off and are pulling for fair weather July 31 when “Jurassic Park” will be the featured flick at their free makeshift drive-in behind the Barre Municipal Auditorium.

Weather permitting the show starts at 9 p.m., though the concession stand will open at 8:30 p.m.

Thanks Anonymous!

MONTPELIER — Someone (we aren’t saying who because we simply don’t know) has offered to donate up to $5,100 worth of gift certificates for those without housing to spend at Montpelier businesses.

Rick DeAngelis, executive director of Good Samaritan Haven, announced the generous donation at Wednesday’s meeting of Montpelier’s Homelessness Task Force.

DeAngelis said details of a distribution plan will be developed in coming days, but the donation should be a boon for downtown businesses and a lifeline for homeless residents.

As for Good Samaritan Haven?

DeAngelis said the Barre-based homeless shelter is set to close on the former Twin City Motel in three weeks. That will pave the way for the grant-funded redevelopment of the Barre-Montpelier Road motel into a congregate living facility — complete with on-site services — for those experiencing homelessness.

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