Lamoille in the News
by Mickey Smith
Like many people, Dr. Liam Gannon, Copley Hospital's Chief of Emergency Services, and his family spent the February school break in a warmer climate... but unlike most they were hard at work aiding a medical clinic in Western Kenya.
Dr. Liam Gannon with a Kenyan patient during a recent trip to a Western Kenya clinic. - Courtesy photo
Dr. Gannon first became involved with the Reverend James Kisero Children's Clinic, located in Bolo, Kenya, through his brother, Niall, who was donating to Father Kisero's plans for a clinic. Gannon became a medical advisor for the project and the two wound up traveling there for the grand opening in November of 2013.
Niall became involved with helping to fund the clinic after he heard Fr. Kisero speak about his dream of building a health clinic in his native village. Sadly, two months after Fr. Kisero returned to Kenya he was murdered by an armed gang. The Gannons committed themselves to continue the project to honor Rev. Kisero’s life and his love for his community.
On this trip, Dr. Gannon brought his immediate family so they could get a taste of the Kenyan culture. Gannon explained he and his wife, Annie, adopted two African-American children and this was a chance for them to learn more about their roots. Gannon said his parents came from Ireland and remembered how as a child he enjoyed visiting their homeland to learn more about his family's past. He thought this could be a similar experience for his kids, Levi and Ella.
While in Kenya, Dr. Gannon also taught three Emergency Medicine classes at the nearby Uzima University School of Medicine in Kisumu, a city of a million people.
Annie, Levi, 16, and Ella, 13, helped out at a local school, teaching the students and offering service work as part of a cultural exchange.
While the Gannons were there they were able to witness the drilling of the first well in town. Water was struck at about 450 feet.
“The first day we saw a few hundred people,” said Dr. Gannon. “The clinic has a small wing for a labor/delivery area and a few rooms to admit people for IV antibiotics, usually for treatment of severe malaria. Upcoming projects include drilling a well and providing an incubator for any ill or premature newborns.”
Dr. Gannon said much of the treatment he performed was centered around over use injuries like, back and knee pain. He said they were delighted by prescriptions of ibuprofen. HIV and malaria are also also common in the area. Because of their corn-based diet, there was also a lot of vitamin deficiency.
He noted in the United States the health care problem is most severe for the middle class, as the higher end can afford health insurance and the lower end of the spectrum has access to federal/state subsidized care. In Kenya, the problem falls on the poor as they are not working jobs which pay into the tax system so they are not eligible to receive a medical card. Small clinics like this become their only source for medical treatment.
Gannon said he hopes to see something similar to the National Health Service Scholarship, the program which brought him to Vermont, started in that area to help keep physicians in their home communities. The service program makes schooling affordable in return for service time to a community that needs their service.
Gannon said in Kenya those studying to become a doctor have dreams of getting to the United States. A service scholarship could open the health care field to people who might not have been able to afford going to college in return for them returning to the small, outer-lying villages and working in the clinics.
Dr. Gannon said this won't be his last trip to Kenya as he hopes to be able to return each year and help out however he can. That commitment to service wasn't lost on his children either. His son has started a fundraising campaign through rally.org to help the St. Raymond's Preschool. He hopes to raise $5,000 for the school, which was built after a child was lost in the bush many years ago as he was walking to a more distant school.
by Mickey Smith
The latest community meeting about Johnson's interest in adapting Form Based Code (FBC) as opposed to traditional zoning will occur on Wednesday, March 25 at 6:30 p.m at the Municipal Office Building.
Johnson Municipal Manager Duncan Hastings described this meeting as one of the last, best chances to provide public input before a draft code is presented to the Johnson Planning Commission. He said a committee of community members have been working with a consultant to come up with draft language to begin the adoption process.
Form Based Code relies more heavily on the look of the buildings and lots, rather than creating specific use zones. For this reason, there are more opportunities for mixed uses, as long as the building fits into regulations about such areas as location of the building on the lot, the scale of the building, location of the parking lot and the general form of the lot (how it looks from the street).
According to a fact sheet regarding the meeting, FBC is a more flexible tool than zoning and creates a “better, faster, cheaper process than conventional zoning.”
The town is able to define their own codes so it can build on the strengths of neighborhoods.
“Form Based Codes allow the community to decide what it wants to 'be' rather than allowing developers to determine what it will become,” states the fact sheet.
The change is described as “a work in progress” and the town is looking for more input from the community as they move along in the process.
Hastings said the Planning Commission will finalize the draft plan through a couple public hearings, before turning it over to the Selectboard. He said Johnson passed a rule a few years ago that required the residents to vote on zoning changes, but since then the State has given Selectboards the right of final approval – so this piece of the process is still being worked out.
by Andrew Martin
Another local utility has briefly implemented a Boil Water Notice after a leak in a pipeline caused water levels to drop. The leak occurred last week on one of the main lines for the Cadys Falls water system, which is a small private water utility in Morrisville. The leak was quickly repaired but a state-mandated Boil Water Notice was implemented and will likely remain in place until later this week.
According to Brian Audet, who serves as the head of the Cadys Falls Co-Operative Water Supply System, the leak occurred when the heaving ground caused a floating valve to break. The leak was quickly repaired but a test soon after revealed levels of coliform bacteria that were slightly higher than normal. The Boil Water Notice was then implemented, and remedial steps were taken.
“Everything is fixed and we are just waiting to start testing again,” Audet explained. He added that three tests will be conducted early this week, one each on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. As long as the readings from all three tests come back with no issues than the Boil Water Notice will likely be lifted on Wednesday or Thursday.
by Andrew Martin
Another local is excelling in the sport of body building. Paulette Jones, of Hyde Park, recently took home several first and second place finishes at the 2015 OCB Green Mountain Thaw body building competition. The event was held in Brattleboro on March 8 and it was Paulette’s first competition. Her impressive showing at the event won Jones her pro card as a body builder.
Hyde Park's Paulette Jones poses with her multiple trophies while trainer Jeff Rutledge stands beside her. - Martin photoPaulette took first place in the Women’s Body Building 40+ class as well as in the Best Poser and Physique Debut class. She also took second in a number of other classes, including second place in the Women’s Physique Open class, Women’s Physique 40+ class, and the Body Building Novice class among others.
“I’ve always been interested in body building and physique,” Jones explained, “So I tried both.”
Paulette’s trainer, Jeff Rutledge, also explained that the way in which she works out lends itself to the physique category, as does the fact that that category allows participants to flex. Jones began training with Rutledge at Snap Fitness in June of 2012.
As part of her training Paulette focuses on working out a different body part each week. Along with her training program Jones has also been able to become successful in her sport thanks to her diet. Rutledge explained that Jones is very good at enjoying her diet and focusing on what she can eat, not what she cannot. The fact that Paulette is still able to consume a fair amount of carbohydrates as part of her diet due in part to her active job also helps make her diet much more enjoyable.
Rutledge further explained that Paulette excels at her training and preparation so much that she was actually ready for the competition a week early with regards to her weight.
“Paulette stands out because a lot of people go to the gym because they hate their bodies,” Rutledge explained, “She works out and likes the sport because she loves her body.”
He also explained that Jones’ win at the competition is even more impressive given the fact that she has been training for less than three years while many of her competitors have been doing so for decades.
“You are a lot more successful in this sport if you focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do,” Rutledge concluded.
“Love your body, and be patient with it,” Jones stated, “It is amazing what the body can and will do.”
Her multiple first and place showings at the competition in Brattleboro and the earning of her pro card will not be the last of Paulette’s achievements this year. She will also be attending another body building event in Newport, Rhode Island on Saturday, March 28.
Submitted by Stowe Rescue
On Friday, March 13, Stowe EMS was requested to respond to Stowe Mountain Resort—Midway Base area for a person down and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) had been initiated. Shortly after arrival to Midway Base area Stowe Ambulance 1 and crew received the patient from the Mt. Mansfield Ski Patrol (MMSP), the patient had been resuscitated on the hill prior to transport down to the Ambulance.
The patient had been skiing and had come to a stop on the hill, the patient was then witnessed slumping to the ground by a bystander. The bystander checked on the patient who was unresponsive and had no signs of life. The bystander summoned the MMSP and began administering CPR. MMSP staff arrived promptly and took over resuscitative efforts including using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) which delivered one shock to the patient. This is when the patient regained consciousness. Stowe EMS provided continuing advanced supportive care and transported the patient to the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington. The patient is expected to make a full recovery.
Stowe EMS commends the MMSP on an excellent job in reviving this patient. The successful outcome is due to effective use of the “Chain of Survival” as outlined by the American Heart Association.
The Chain of Survival includes:
- Immediate recognition of cardiac arrest and activation of the emergency response system
- Early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with an emphasis on chest compressions
- Rapid defibrillation
- Effective advanced life support
- Integrated post-cardiac arrest care
by Andrew Martin
Students from Lamoille Union and the Green Mountain Technology and Career Center are excelling in a new field. A team made up of students from both schools took second place in the Vermont First Tech Challenge (FTC) Championships on Saturday, March 14. The event, which is a robotics competition, was held at UVM’s Davis Center throughout the day and featured 32 teams from several states. 2015 is the first year that a team from Lamoille Union and GMTCC has participated in the FTC Championships. The students participating in the even came from several different programs at both of the schools involved.
Kelvin 1 in action.The FTC Championships is a competition that emphasizes gracious professionalism. During the competition a team will pair up with another in taking on two other teams. This year teams could score during each match in a variety of ways. The most common way to score was by having their robots pick up and place balls in cylinders of various heights. Other ways to score include dragging the goals up ramps onto designated parking areas.
During the early stages of the competition the team from Lamoille County, which sported the name 0°Kelvin (0°K), competed in five qualifying matches. The three students making up the team were Nathan Jones, Ryan Cote, and Josh Greenia, and while their team scored the seventh most points of any during the qualifying stages the Lamoille team did not pair up well with their partners. Teams were scored mainly on the wins they accrued during qualifying, and the team from GMTCC and Lamoille was unable to procure any wins despite scoring the seventh most points. For that reason they went into the finals ranked as the 25th team at the event. However, the team had a very strong robot and was chosen by the overall number two team to partner with for the final rounds of competition. The top four teams after the qualifying rounds were able to choose their own partner for the semifinals and finals based upon who they thought they would work well together with.
“We had a robot that had strengths where that team had weaknesses,” explained team advisor Andrew Woolsey. The team’s robot, which was named Kelvin 1, was able to score some points by dropping the balls into the cylinders but did the majority of its scoring using an appendage that dropped down to hook and drag the cylinder goals to the parking spaces or up the ramps. The robot’s ability to do so and the teams’ ability to score points in this way was why the second place team at the event, which hailed from New Hampshire, chose them to be their partners.
“Our robot was simple but very reliable and dependable,” stated Woolsey, “Our whole team was that way, dependable and reliable.”
The choice by the New Hampshire team proved to be a good one. The two teams were able to work well together in the semifinals of the event and won, moving onto the finals. However, they were unable to defeat the number one team in the finals, finishing second on the day.
“It was a great experience,” stated team member Ryan Cote, “We didn’t know if we would do well at all.”
The second place finish for the team from Lamoille Union and GMTCC was the highest by any Vermont team at the competition. There were a total of 14 teams registered for the event from Vermont, while the remaining 18 were from the rest of New England, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and even as far away as New Mexico.
Along with the three teammates actually at the competition a number of other students also participated in the building of Kelvin 1. Along with Jones, Cote, and Greenia other students who helped build the robot included: Till Joseph, Juan Pablo Collantes Bazan, Blake Nemeth, Cassidy McKusick, and Daniel Provoncha. The students had no designs for their robot and built it completely from scratch. An Agency of Education grant helped the team cover the costs of the robot, and a number of local vendors contributed parts to the building of Kelvin 1.
“The local community throughout the entire county was very supportive,” stated advisor Ted Weed.
Along with designing and building their robot from scratch the students also had to do all their own programming for their robot.
“The hardest part was probably getting the programming to work,” Nathan Jones stated.
“There are a number of skills that students sharpen and learn by taking part in this competition,” Weed continued.
The fact that the students from GMTCC and Lamoille Union finished second at the competition is even more impressive given the fact that the students began working on the robot in early January. The competition actually opened up in September, meaning that the individuals on other teams began working on their robots at that time. The short amount of time available to the students on 0°Kelvin were working on their robot nearly every day from the time they began until the actual competition. Each student often had a specific job that had to be completed before the next step could take place, and the team had to tear apart Kelvin 1 and rebuild it several times leading up to the competition.
The second place finish by the 0°Kelvin team would not have happened at all if not for the charity and gracious professionalism of the other teams at the event. One important component of Kelvin 1 burned out at the beginning of the competition, and the team would have been unable to continue if not for the fact that an opposing team let them borrow the necessary replacement part. The team that let 0°Kelvin borrow the part was actually one of the two teams that defeated the Lamoille County team and their ally in the finals of the event.
“That was gracious professionalism, and that’s what the whole event is about,” advisor Ted Weed stated.
“I’m very proud of our team,” Weed continued, “To go into the finals ranked so low and to finish second was very impressive.”
Both advisors hope to continue this collaborative work in the field of robotics next year.
“We are hoping to continue this tradition and compete again next year,” advisor Andrew Woolsey stated.
by Andrew Martin
Work to build a new Vermont Army National Guard (VTANG) facility on Route 100 in North Hyde Park is picking up steam. The request for bids for Phase 1 of the project went out in February and VTANG officials stopped accepting bids on March 11. A bid to build the new facility will now be chosen in the near future with construction scheduled to begin this spring.
Phase 1 of the project to build the new facility in Hyde Park, which will be located on the parcel just outside North Hyde Park on the way to Eden, will consist of the construction of a new Field Maintenance Shop (FMS) that will be roughly 12,000 square feet in size. The building will feature two drive-through bays as well as parking for military equipment. This new FMS will eventually replace the existing shop in Lyndonville.
“We are anticipating a spring start,” explained VTANG official Mike Blow. He added that VTANG is asking that construction of Phase 1 of the project be completed by December of this year. Blow was unsure when exactly the transfer from Lyndonville to Hyde Park would occur.
Phase 2 of the facilities project is also moving along quickly. Phase 2 of the project will consist of the addition of three more maintenance bays to the new facility in Hyde Park, including a wash bay and warm-up bay. Phase 2, which aims to replace a second FMS located in St. Albans, will add roughly 40,000 square feet to the facility and will also include more administrative space. According to Blow the second phase of the project will likely go out to bid early in 2016 with construction scheduled to take place that same year.
The new FMS is necessary due to the fact that the facilities in Lyndonville and St. Albans are no longer large enough to service the larger equipment now being used by the Vermont Army National Guard. VTANG officials will likely be returning to Hyde Park sometime this spring or summer to give an update presentation to the Hyde Park Selectboard on the progress of Phase 1 and where the Phase 2 process is.
According to Blow Phase 3 of the project is likely a few years down the road still. Phase 3 will involve the construction of a new 48,000 square foot Readiness Center/Armory that will eventually replace the current Morrisville Armory.
by Andrew Martin
The extreme cold and deep snow this winter has not stopped local sugarmakers from preparing for the 2015 sugaring season. The majority of syrup producers were all tapped and ready to go by the week of March 9, simply waiting for the weather to finally break and for warmer temperatures to arrive.
One sugarmaker who was planning to boil on Thursday, March 12 was Kenneth Desroches in Cambridge. Desroches, who still uses buckets in his operation, has an 800-tap sugarbush and the sap was running good for him on Wednesday. He planned on gathering on Thursday and boiling as long as the sap was nice and clear.
“I think most people in my area will be boiling on Wednesday or Thursday, especially the mid-sized operations with vacuum,” Desroches explained. While many sugarmakers are hesitant to predict how the upcoming season will go Desroches did have this to offer.
“My prediction is that we will have roughly five weeks of sugaring,” he explained, “The frost is down deep in some spots, so if it doesn’t warm up too fast I expect we could be boiling until mid-April.”
While sugarmakers in the western part of the county were likely boiling in the middle of last week many others in other parts of Lamoille County were still gearing up for potential boils over the course of the following weekend.
UVM Extension Service Maple Specialist George Cook has a sugarbush in Hyde Park and while the sap was running for him earlier in the week he planned to boil over the weekend.
“I’m not sure we will actually make any syrup, but we will sweeten the pan,” Cook explained. He added that until the cores of the trees really thaw out the major runs will have to wait.
While most sugarmakers are ready to go at this point Cook also explained that it has been a lengthy process getting ready for many.
“Tapping has been a very slow process for everyone this year due to the deep snow,” Cook stated, “It’s a very light fluffy snow, and there is no base. People are sinking close to two feet into the snow when they are tapping and that’s with snowshoes on.”
“The cold temperatures delayed some people as well,” he added. Cook also stated that he could see this season being reminiscent of the 2014 sugaring season.
“It was a cold and late season last year as well,” Cook added, “We’ve certainly had the precipitation, so the ground should have adequate water levels.”
He also stated that while the late start this year has people worried it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“Last year had everyone worried too, and we still got in a great season,” Cook finished, “We could have every opportunity to make a full crop like last year.”
The sugaring operation at Butternut Mountain Farm in Johnson also kicked their season off last week. The Marvins gathered some sap Tuesday night into Wednesday and spent the next couple days checking out all their equipment for any kinks. According to David Marvin they were expecting to boil on Friday if no setbacks occurred.
Marvin also explained that the sap they have collected at his operation so far has been very low in sugar concentration.
“It may be due to the fact that there have been no thaws since early December,” Marvin explained, “We will see what happens after this cold spell when it warms up again.”
Marvin also mentioned the extreme difficulty that many sugarmakers had this year while tapping.
“There wasn’t a lot of storm damage this year. The hardest thing weather-wise was the depth of the snow,” Marvin stated, “There isn’t any base or bottom to the snow, so it’s very hard getting around in the woods.”
Marvin also made his annual prediction for the season.
“I’ll tell you in May how the season is going to go,” he laughed, “I don’t know of any crop that is as weather dependent as we are.”
Paul Percy operates a 16,000 tap sugarbush in Stowe and his sugarbush was just beginning to thaw out during the middle of last week. While he had no definite timeline on when his first boil might be Percy was fairly confident that the upcoming season would be a good one.
“It’s going to be a great season,” he stated, “I think that going into every year, there’s no way of knowing anything different.”
Percy added that he hadn’t heard of anyone in his area that had been able to boil by the middle of last week yet. He too also mentioned that while there was no major storm damage this year the deep snow made tapping difficult.
“It was mighty tough walking in the snow this year,” he concluded.
by Andrew Martin
The Elmore and Morristown School Boards have taken the first step towards studying the possible merger between their two school districts. At their meetings on Monday and Tuesday, March 9 and 10, the two boards separately voted to move forward with a formal study of the merger. At those meetings the boards also laid out how the committee that will investigate the merger will move forward.
The committee created by the two boards will be known as the Elmore-Morristown Unified Union School District Committee. The charge of the committee is to complete a study and report on a unified union of the two school districts that meets all state statutes and requirements. As part of their work, the committee will be investigating potential issues or questions that a merger would pose. The committee will also be tasked with creating the articles of agreement that would govern the merged district. Along with reporting and presenting the articles to the residents of both Morristown and Elmore, the committees will also be presenting the articles to the Vermont Board of Education and Secretary of Education for approval.
The two school boards have decided that the committee will be made up of all the school board members from Morristown and Elmore. While all the board members will serve on the committee, any voting that takes place during the committee’s work must be in proportion to the number of equalized pupils in each district. For that reason Morristown will have five votes and Elmore will have one if a voting situation does arise.
Lamoille South Supervisory Union Superintendent Tracy Wrend emphasized that while the committee will be composed of only board members, there will be a large amount of dialogue and interaction with the public by the committee during its work. Great effort will be taken to ensure that members of both communities provide input on the different articles and issues that need to be resolved as part of the study.
The first meeting of the committee will take place on Tuesday, April 14. The meeting will be held at the Morristown Elementary School Library and will run from 6 to 8 p.m. That first meeting will serve as an organizational meeting, and the committee is expected to meet one to two times a month moving forward. The boards would like to complete the study and report on the merger sometime in the fall of 2015. A more specific work timeline will be created at the April 14 meeting.
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