Sunday, December 08, 2013
Anti-government protesters in Ukraine topple Lenin statue - ...[Hide Story...]Vancouver SunAnti-government protesters in Ukraine topple Lenin statueFox NewsKIEV, Ukraine – Angry anti-government protesters toppled a statue of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin in the center of Kiev on Sunday and blockaded key government buildings amid huge street protests, raising the stakes in an escalating standoff with ...Ukrainian protesters demand systemic changeWashington PostUkrainian Protesters Rally in KievWall Street JournalUkraine protesters topple Lenin statueLos Angeles TimesChristian Science Monitor -Forbes -Xinhuaall 990 news articles »
Billy Joel's Kennedy Center Honor: 'Our poet and our pal' - ...[Hide Story...]NewsdayBilly Joel's Kennedy Center Honor: 'Our poet and our pal'NewsdayWASHINGTON - The eclectic influence of Billy Joel was on display at the John F. Kennedy Center for The Performing Arts Sunday night, as musicians from the worlds of jazz, country, emo and rock paid tribute to The Piano Man. "Billy Joel is so much more ...Kennedy Center honors Billy Joel, Shirley MacLaine and othersNew York Daily NewsCapital Salutes 5 Stars With Kennedy Center HonorsNew York TimesNews of the Day From Across the Nation, Dec. 9San Francisco ChronicleGoldDerby -USA TODAY -Washington Postall 169 news articles »
Thailand PM dissolves Parliament, calls elections - Fox News[Hide Story...]Sydney Morning HeraldThailand PM dissolves Parliament, calls electionsFox NewsBANGKOK – Thailand's prime minister announced Monday she will dissolve the lower house of Parliament and call elections in an attempt to calm the country's deepening political crisis. The surprise move came as 100,000 protesters vowing to overthrow her ...Thai PM Yingluck Dissolves Parliament But Tensions Remain HighTIMEBaht Reverses Loss as Yingluck Dissolves House to Quell ProtestsBusinessweekBaht Gains as Thai Stocks, Bonds Rise on Parliament DissolutionBloombergBBC News -Wall Street Journal -Reutersall 567 news articles »
Back home, American talks about time in North Korean custody...[Hide Story...]NDTVBack home, American talks about time in North Korean custodyCNN(CNN) -- An 85-year-old American man detained and later let go by North Korean authorities described his time in custody as comfortable. Merrill Newman, who returned to the United States this weekend, told the Santa Cruz Sentinel in California that he was ...Instagram Photos of North KoreaWall Street JournalKorean war veteran reunited with familyIndian Express85-year-old vet says he was well-fed, comfortable during North Korea detainmentNBCNews.comCTV News -Seattle Post Intelligencer -CBS Localall 1,734 news articles »
India Opposition Eyes 2014 Win After Routing Singh in States...[Hide Story...]IBNLiveIndia Opposition Eyes 2014 Win After Routing Singh in StatesBloombergIndia's main opposition party won the most seats in four local polls held over the past month, giving it momentum ahead of a 2014 national election as voters punished Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's ruling coalition. The Bharatiya Janata Party was poised ...Assembly election verdict: Shivraj, Raman back to power, royal comeback for ...Indian ExpressDelhi elections 2013: BJP winner, Congress zero, AAP heroTimes of IndiaYes, he can: how Arvind Kejriwal became people's championHindustan TimesReuters India -Economic Times -Firstpostall 2,935 news articles »
4 US presidents to attend Mandela memorial events - Los Ange...[Hide Story...]Irish Independent4 US presidents to attend Mandela memorial eventsLos Angeles TimesJOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Four American presidents, along with more than 60 other world leaders, will travel to South Africa this week to honor former President Nelson Mandela. One man who won't be there is the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader.Nelson Mandela's accomplishments shine as South Africa grieves his passingNew York Daily NewsIn Soweto and Beyond, Mandela Still Serves as a Beacon of HopeNew York TimesSouth Africa Begins Farewell to Nelson MandelaWall Street JournalChristian Science Monitor -The Globe and Mail -AllAfrica.comall 18,631 news articles »
UPDATE 1-Singapore hit by rare outbreak of rioting, 27 arres...[Hide Story...]Wall Street JournalUPDATE 1-Singapore hit by rare outbreak of rioting, 27 arrestedReuters(Adds 27 people arrested, injuries, comments by prime minister, background). By Rachel Armstrong and Rujun Shen. SINGAPORE Dec 9 (Reuters) - A crowd of around 400 people set fire to vehicles and clashed with police in the Indian district of Singapore ...Riot hits Singapore's Little IndiaThe HinduRiot Breaks Out in SingaporeWall Street JournalTraffic death sparks rioting in SingaporeThe Globe and MailBloomberg -The Australianall 126 news articles »
CRUISIN' CELEBRITY NEWS
Sunday, December 08, 2013
'Gravity,' 'Her' tie for LA Film Critics top honor - USA TODAY[Hide Story...]
E! Online'Gravity,' 'Her' tie for LA Film Critics top honor
The Los Angeles Film Critics Association split between the space odyssey Gravity and the futuristic romance Her, lending no more certainty to an awards season that's so far been full of contenders. The two films shared best picture in the awards announced ...
Contender Countdown: 'Gravity' and 'Her' rise in the race
"Gravity," "Her" tie for LA critics' Best Film prize
'12 Years a Slave' Wins Big at Boston Film Critics Awards
AceShowbiz E! Online- Reuters- Entertainment Weekly all 92 news articles »
'Frozen,' 'Catching Fire' leave 'Furnace' out in the cold - USA T...[Hide Story...]
Washington Post'Frozen,' 'Catching Fire' leave 'Furnace' out in the cold
Studios took a breather between the Thanksgiving and Christmas film rush, leaving ice and fire to duke it out at the box office. Frozen, Disney's animated holiday story, edged The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as the holdover films left the weekend's only ...
Disney's 'Frozen' Finally Cools Off 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' At The ...
'Frozen,' 'Catching Fire' fuel US, Canada box office
In second week, 'Frozen' tops box office with $31.6 million
Kansas City Star Hollywood.com- Seattle Post Intelligencer- Hollywood Reporter all 260 news articles »
Billy Joel's Kennedy Center Honor: 'Our poet and our pal' - Newsd...[Hide Story...]
NewsdayBilly Joel's Kennedy Center Honor: 'Our poet and our pal'
WASHINGTON - The eclectic influence of Billy Joel was on display at the John F. Kennedy Center for The Performing Arts Sunday night, as musicians from the worlds of jazz, country, emo and rock paid tribute to The Piano Man. "Billy Joel is so much more ...
Kennedy Center honors Billy Joel, Shirley MacLaine and others
New York Daily News
Kennedy Center Honors: Red-carpet stars glimmer on a night when 'everything's ...
Obama Bestows Billy Joel, Shirley MacLaine With Kennedy Center Honors
Hollywood Reporter New York Times- USA TODAY- U-T San Diego all 167 news articles »
Fans pay tribute to 'Fast & Furious' actor Paul Walker and fr...[Hide Story...]
Washington PostFans pay tribute to 'Fast & Furious' actor Paul Walker and friend
Los Angeles Times
The fast and furious became the solemn and reverential Sunday as hundreds of fans and mourners met in Valencia to pay tribute to the memory of actor Paul Walker and Roger Rodas, killed Nov. 30 in a car crash. Under cold but clear skies, a line of muscle ...
Thousands of drivers rally for Walker
New York Daily News
Paul Walker memorial in California draws thousands
EXCLUSIVE: Paul Walker was once HOMELESS as a student
Daily Mail AceShowbiz- Reuters- Reality TV World all 284 news articles »
Niall Horan poses up a selfie storm with Paul Rudd and Will Ferre...[Hide Story...]
Daily MailNiall Horan poses up a selfie storm with Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell after One ...
He grew up in a small town in County Westmeath in the Republic Of Ireland. But life has changed substantially for Niall Horan since he found fame with One Direction in the 2010 British X Factor. And the 20-year-old singer found himself rubbing shoulders with ...
One Direction And The Cast Of 'Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues ...
Paul Rudd's 'Anchorman 2' Co-Stars and Kristen Wiig Make Surprise ...
Saturday Night Live: Paul Rudd Hosts and Familiar Faces Return
TV Guide Cinema Blend- TVbytheNumbers- Broadway World all 229 news articles »
Selena Gomez Storms Off Stage & Drops F-Bomb Over Sound Issue...[Hide Story...]
Starpulse.comSelena Gomez Storms Off Stage & Drops F-Bomb Over Sound Issues
Selena Gomez stormed off stage without completing her set at this year's KIIS-FM Jingle Ball concert in Los Angeles on Friday night. The singer was visibly upset over technical difficulties during her set, when her microphone failed several times (and we ...
Selena Gomez drops the f-bomb during performance and walks off stage
Selena Gomez Meltdown? Bieber's Ex Reportedly Walks Off Jingle Ball Stage ...
International Business Times
Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke Reunite at Jingle Ball in LA
Latinos Post New York Daily News- E! Online- Los Angeles Times all 203 news articles »
Bale, Renner, Cooper, Adams premiere 'American Hustle' - USA TODA...[Hide Story...]
Telegraph.co.ukBale, Renner, Cooper, Adams premiere 'American Hustle'
NEW YORK — You'd be hard pressed to find a cast more starry than the names populating American Hustle. David O. Russell's romp about a '70s scam gone madly awry features portly con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who along with his slinky ...
American Hustle: Film Review
With 'American Hustle,' David O. Russell completes his trilogy of self-reinvention
American Hustle: Sex, Scandal and Flat-Out Fun
TIME HitFix- Detroit Free Press- TheWrap all 147 news articles »
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Road Worriers: Budget Cuts Bring Fewer Mobile Meals to Senior Cit...[Hide Story...]
You could say Werner Ostmann was racing against the cold one week before Thanksgiving. In the backseat of his silver Toyota Corolla, 30 sloppy joe sandwiches — paired with string beans and butternut squash — steamed up inside their plastic containers as he navigated the streets of Burlington’s Old North End.
On the door of one North Champlain Street apartment, a sign warned visitors against letting the cat out. Ostmann knocked and called out, “Meals on Wheels!” A petite woman opened the door. Thanking the deliveryman with a shy grin, she took the food and disappeared back into her apartment.
Ostmann returned to his car. Ignoring the electronic reminders to buckle his seat belt, he headed east to Intervale Avenue. “Some people loiter about, but I usually just say, ‘Hi, how you doing?’ You’ve got the hot meals, and you don’t want them going cold,” said the volunteer driver.
Burlington has one of state’s largest Meals on Wheels programs. With funding from the Older Americans Act, the program delivers free, well-balanced meals to fixed- and low-income seniors. Five days a week, a skeleton staff arrives before the crack of dawn to begin cooking. By midmorning, they hand the meals to drivers who spread out across the city and into South Burlington, Shelburne, Charlotte, Winooski and Colchester.
Ostmann has been driving two of the Burlington routes for a year. Tall and white-bearded, the 75-year-old is more senior than some of his clients. But he’s spry and, as a retired geriatric nurse, goes about the job with an air of cordial professionalism. Despite his goal to keep encounters brief, Ostmann inevitably gets waylaid by a few conversations on the morning ride.
“The big man takes care of me,” said Theron Blaisdell, also 75, who rents a small apartment off Pearl Street.
Blaisdell, a Stowe native, first got on the meal program five years ago after pneumonia parked him in Fletcher Allen Health Care for more than two months. Upon his release, a social worker gave him the options of entering a rehab facility or staying in a hotel on Shelburne Road and signing up for Meals on Wheels. A veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars who was homeless for many years, Blaisdell chose the latter. It was a temporary situation until he could find his own place.
Now Blaisdell lives on Social Security and a veteran’s pension and periodically bikes to the Hannaford supermarket on Dorset Street for groceries. Without a kitchen, he depends on the deliveries for a hot meal, but he doesn’t rely on the service as much as some clients. “I can get around,” Blaisdell said. “But some of these people are tied up. They see a Meals on Wheels driver, and it’s like Christmas.”
But the food offerings aren’t what they used to be. After budget cuts from the federal sequestration earlier this year, the White House estimated that four million fewer meals would be delivered in 2013. The Meals on Wheels Association of America suggests that number may be closer to 19 million.
In many states, that has resulted in waiting lists. But in Vermont, where home-delivered nutrition services are set to lose $52,000 — a 5 percent drop — Meals on Wheels has taken a different approach.
Instead of cutting the number of clients served, Champlain Valley Agency on Aging nutrition director Zoe Hardy explained, the amount of food in each delivery has dropped from two meals — one hot and one not — to just one hot meal. (Through private fund-raising, Hardy added, the Essex program still manages to deliver both.)
An aging population, rising gas prices and a drop in donations haven’t helped the cause. But the program’s administrators argue for its preventive value.
“People want to stay out of the hospital and nursing home. They want to be in their old home, around their old things,” said Burlington Meals on Wheels director Peter Carmolli. “That’s why we exist. We can feed one person for a whole year for less than the cost of one day in the hospital.” Meal deliveries may be the only time clients interact with another person, Carmolli added.
En route back to the Burlington Meals on Wheels headquarters at Cathedral Square, Ostmann launched into a story that explained his own in...
Home for Whom? COTS Feels Out a 'Hood on Transitional Housing[Hide Story...]
Struggling with opiate and alcohol addictions, Aaron Greene should have been relieved to be admitted to an inpatient program in the White River Junction VA Medical Center. But the Essex native had no idea where he would go after the six-week program was over, and he feared a return to his old life — periods of homelessness interrupted by spells of couch surfing with people who wouldn’t help him maintain sobriety.
“You have to call people your friends, and they might not be the best people to be around,” Greene said. “To not have someplace to go, it’s not a good feeling when you’re coming out of a program like that, because everything is up in the air. I didn’t want to feel like a feather, floating around.”
Greene shared his story from the lounge of a transitional-housing facility in Winooski that is owned and operated by the nonprofit Committee on Temporary Shelter, aka COTS. Since summer, his home has been this five-story building — a mix of transitional and longer-term affordable housing units — that feels like a mix between a dorm before move-in day and an antiseptic chain hotel.
Greene rested in a plastic chair near a community kitchen, while an older resident played computer games in the corner. Other residents shuffled in and out, offering the occasional, “Hey, Aaron.”
Although Greene, 26, has a high-school diploma, he knows “that’s not something that’s going to help me in the future,” he explained. “I want to have a career that’s fulfilling. I don’t want to go from menial job to menial job. I want to have to wake up, have my alarm go off at 6 a.m. and get up and take a shower and get a coffee and go to my job and meet someone, you know?”
As Greene attempts to build his life, COTS is trying to expand its housing network to serve a growing population of people with similar needs in Vermont.
The nonprofit recently informed neighbors on Burlington’s Lakeview Terrace that its administrative headquarters, at the street’s southern terminus, could be the future site of 12 to 16 units of affordable housing for single adults. On the same spot, its day station could provide a place for homeless people to meet with counselors and make phone calls between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
COTS hasn’t had a permanent day station since 2012, when flooding destroyed the former facility in downtown Burlington. After two years at a temporary location — in the United Methodist Church — the organization is looking for a new spot. When other options proved too pricey, COTS officials circled back to HQ, at the corner of North Street and North Avenue, as a potential building site.
COTS has no final design for the project, nor an estimated price tag, and is several months from filing even a preliminary plan with Burlington City Hall. But it has already reached out to neighbors to address their concerns.
COTS executive director Rita Markley acknowledges the Old North End project could be a tougher sell than any other endeavor proposed by COTS. In 31 years, COTS has grown from a single volunteer-run emergency shelter to an organization of 52 paid staffers that offers an array of services to homeless men, women and children at nine locations.
The Winooski complex where Greene lives is on a quiet stretch of Canal Street it shares with a few homes and businesses and an alternative school. Before COTS arrived, Markley said the site was nothing more than an abandoned hole in the ground.
The current day station, one block from Church Street, is adjacent to student-saturated Buell Street.
The proposed North Avenue facility, in contrast, is surrounded on all sides by residential housing, the most vocal occupants of which are expected to hail from Lakeview Terrace, which runs three blocks north along a bluff overlooking the lake.
The neighborhood has a reputation for opposing development projects. Most recently, some residents were engaged in a protracted, and ultimately unsuccessful, battle against the upscale condominium project at the street’s northern terminus. From permitting to touch-up paint, it took eight years to get the 25 rental units known as Packard Lofts built and on the market.
COTS is no stranger to such neighborhood opposition. While many of its recent buildin...
Vermont's Chief Justice Is Speaking Out Against the Drug War: Is ...[Hide Story...]
In recent weeks, Vermont Chief Justice Paul Reiber has gone public with an unusually assertive critique of the war on drugs and the “tough on crime” approach that has defined criminal justice for decades.
Reiber, who holds an office in which occupants usually avoid saying anything remotely controversial, has stopped short of recommending policy or criticizing any individuals or government bodies. But in a pair of speeches and a brief interview with Seven Days, he has declared ineffective the current reliance on police and punishment, and touted the merits of treatment-based models for dealing with crime rooted in substance abuse.
“Even with our best efforts, we are losing ground,” Reiber told a crowd at Vermont Law School last month. “The classic approach of ‘tough on crime’ is not working in this area of drug policy. The public responds very well to this ‘tough on crime’ message, but that does not mean it’s effective in changing individual behavior. If the idea is law enforcement alone will slow and eventually eliminate drug use altogether, that isn’t going to happen … The criminal justice system can’t solve the drug problem.”
Experts note that Reiber’s stance isn’t exactly revolutionary, as judges across the country have become more comfortable in recent years speaking publicly about issues affecting the court system.
But, backers say, his entrance into the politically fraught debate about drug policy lends a powerful voice to their cause.
“The public sees them as more of an authority figure and having a better understanding,” State Rep. Alice Emmons (D-Springfield) said of Supreme Court justices. “They command more respect than a legislator or commissioner, and they are held in high regard.”
After initially declining an interview request, Reiber spoke with Seven Days and explained his reasons for speaking out.
As top administrator of the court system, Reiber said he is worried that failures to curb addiction have led to wave upon wave of both criminal and family court cases that have pushed the system to a breaking point. Often, he said, the Vermont judiciary takes too long to provide resolutions that don’t end up fixing anything.
“It’s a fine line that we have to walk; we don’t make policy,” Reiber said in an interview. “Our oath says that we will defend the Constitution, and if you look at the Constitution, my responsibility and the responsibility of every judge is to protect the system as well as make independent decisions on the issues that come before us. I guess I’m trying to do what’s right in my mind for the state.”
Sitting and Standing Up
A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Reiber earned his law degree from Suffolk Law School in Boston and worked in a Rutland law firm from 1986 until 2003, when former governor Jim Douglas, a Republican, appointed him associate justice. Although Reiber’s political leanings are not clear, observers say the vast majority of Douglas’ appointments — as with most governors — came from within his party.
Douglas promoted Reiber to chief justice the following year.
The appointment made Reiber the leader of the five-member Supreme Court, which hears appeals from Vermont’s criminal, civil and family courts. The job also came with an administrative responsibility: The chief justice is the head administrator of the court system and oversees the judicial budget.
It was in that capacity that Reiber first came to public attention outside the Supreme Court’s chambers.
In 2009, he became the first chief justice in 20 years to address both chambers of the legislature, which faced deep budget cuts as a result of the recession. Reiber advocated consolidating the state’s 60 separate courts under one management system, culling the number of probate court judges and stripping independently elected assistant judges — commonly known as “side judges” — of much of their power.
Those ideas were well received and largely implemented. Reiber said his more recent speeches, which he delivered in September at a drug court conference in Boston and at Vermont Law School earlier this month, are an extension of those efforts. <...
After a Decades-Long Fight, St. Albans Adjusts to Its Newest Neig...[Hide Story...]
When the St. Albans Walmart opened its doors in mid-October, the nation’s longest-running battle against the big box chain finally drew to a close.
On and off for two decades, city officials, local citizens and anti-sprawl activists fought the store, while others in Franklin County clamored for Walmart’s cheap goods and one-stop-shopping convenience. The opponents won once, in the 1990s, and Walmart went away for a while. But in 2003 developer Jeff Davis revived plans for the store. Ten years later, shoppers queued up in anticipation of the grand opening on October 16.
For the grassroots band of opponents to the project, the store’s opening marks the beginning of a new mission. Sue Prent, who lives in the heart of downtown St. Albans, said she’s now focused on documenting the ways Walmart changes the community moving forward.
“It was wrong in so many ways — but there it is,” said Prent. “We’ve got it now.”
“It” is the largest Walmart in the state, located in a former cornfield two miles north of the main downtown stretch and with easy access to Interstate 89. Walmart is situated in the town of St. Albans, which surrounds the city, a separate municipality.
Now the question is, what does — not “would” — Walmart mean for St. Albans? Six weeks in, and with the holiday shopping season looming, is the community any different?
On a recent, dreary Friday afternoon, a long line of cars, turn signals blinking, pulled into the smooth blacktop parking lot. The expansive lot was about half full. Inside, shoppers pushed brimming carts through the store. A pregnant woman guided a cart laden with baby supplies and a new rocking chair. In a nearby aisle, a couple scrutinized the price of a 92-pack of diapers. Over in the grocery section, two women scanned the eggs for the best deal: $2.88 for 18. A sign near the front of the store advertised this year’s Black Friday specials — which are actually scheduled for 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. Eight-inch pumpkin pies were selling for $2.98 apiece; in a nearby freezer, 13-pound turkeys went for $13.98.
“We just appreciate the community support,” said store manager Ryan Hanson, who moved to St. Albans from a Walmart in Maine. He said the store’s been “very, very busy” since opening — more so than expected, though he wouldn’t say by how much.
Is there room for everyone in St. Albans’ retail market? “Totally,” said Hanson.
“We’re glad to be here,” he said. “‘Save money, live better.’ That’s the company motto, and that’s what we’re doing here.”
That motto lured customers away from the nearby Price Chopper — at least initially. Assistant grocery manager Heath Duchaine said sales were slow in the first few weeks after Walmart’s opening — down roughly 15 percent. He was nonetheless upbeat about the situation, calling Walmart “great competition,” and said shoppers were already coming back to his store, located a half mile south of Walmart on Route 7, for its friendly service.
Managers at other chain stores in town — including the Hannaford grocery store, JCPenney and Rite Aid — declined to comment on the Walmart effect; any comments, they said, would have to come from their corporate offices.
But smaller businesses are paying attention. At Amy’s Gift Shop, located in the strip mall next to Rite Aid, owner Larry Cummings said he isn’t in direct competition with Walmart — but that doesn’t mean he isn’t worried. The gift shop peddles Yankee candles and Sabra Field calendars, among other items.
“When a department store like Walmart opens two miles away, the focus is two miles away from downtown,” said Cummings. He estimated that sales are down 20 percent from where they were last year at this time.
He said he’ll get by — but with less help. The store employs five people, including Cummings and his wife. He wanted to add another part-time employee but won’t be doing so now. “We’ll work more hours,” said Cummings.
Inside As the Crow Flies, a kitchen supply store on Main Street, owner Jessica Gaudette was busy gear...
Photo Finish: AP's Toby Talbot Is Retiring After 30 Years Shootin...[Hide Story...]
During her January 1985 inauguration as Vermont’s first female governor, Madeleine Kunin stood out from the crowd in more ways than one. “She was surrounded by all these guys in dark suits and she was wearing white,” Talbot recalls. “It was a beautiful moment, and it told the whole story that was going on.”
Suspecting child abuse at a commune run by the Northeast Kingdom Community Church in Island Pond, state officials in June 1984 rounded up 112 children and bused them to Newport for interviews with social workers and a judge. The kids were off-limits to reporters and photographers, but Talbot managed to sneak upstairs in a nearby building, where he had an unobstructed view of them. “I made a picture that showed the expansiveness of the raid,” Talbot says.
All photos courtesy of the Associated Press/Toby Talbot
For more than 30 years, Toby Talbot says, he’s had “a front-row seat to history.”
As the Associated Press’ sole staff photographer in Vermont, the 63-year-old Calais resident has captured floods and fires, soldiers and politicians — and plenty of cows grazing in the fields.
“I’ve just seen incredible joy and incredible sadness and made what I think are great pictures out of them,” he says.
On Friday, Talbot is retiring from the AP. He’ll still take photographs, he says, and contribute occasionally to the wire service. But he plans to spend more time pursuing his other passion: serving as deputy chief of the East Montpelier Fire Department.
“I don’t know how many times we use the phrase, ‘It’s the end of an era,’ but this truly is,” says Chris Graff, who served as the AP’s Montpelier bureau chief — and Talbot’s boss — from 1980 until 2006. “The position Toby has didn’t exist before Toby had it, and it won’t exist after he retires.”
A contractor and amateur photographer at the time, Talbot got his first pair of assignments from Graff in December 1980, when, in a single weekend, fires destroyed the Trapp Family Lodge and a city block in downtown Montpelier. Three years later, Graff hired Talbot as a part-time stringer. In 1987, he brought the photographer on full time.
In the early days of his career, it took Talbot eight minutes to send a black and white photograph to New York City using a drum print transmitter. When the AP switched to color, the process took 24 minutes and three separate transmissions. These days, any yahoo with an iPhone can submit images to the local newspaper.
“There is some value to the feet on the ground of the person being there to see it,” Talbot says of reader-submitted photos. “But I think what a good photojournalist does is have creativity and artistry and storytelling all in one little image, which doesn’t happen with reader photos for the most part.”
Wilson Ring, who now runs the Montpelier bureau, says that Talbot knows how to capture the essence of a story. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s been driving his pickup truck around the state for decades.
“He knows all the nooks and crannies and how to get there,” Ring says. “And whene...
Making the Grade? Cuts at Burlington College Lead to Protests and...[Hide Story...]
Budget cuts have eliminated three department heads at financially challenged Burlington College and sparked protests by students who say they’re worried about the school’s viability and credibility.
Anna Blackmer and Emily Schmidt, chairs of the humanities and fine arts programs, respectively, recently resigned after being offered contracts that would have made them half-time employees and terminated their health benefits. Film department head Gordon Glover was not offered a new contract, although he will be teaching courses as an adjunct instructor next semester. Mary Arbuckle, a professor in the film department, had her hours cut in half and her benefits terminated.
The reduction in film studies constricts what former department chair Barry Snyder describes as the school’s “flagship program” and “the engine of its renewed growth.” Established in 1995, the film department has served as one of the college’s main attractions for prospective students.
Senior Ned McEleney says the film and media activism programs were what led him to transfer to Burlington College two years ago. “I feel like I’ve been sold a false bill of goods,” McEleney said. He noted that the film department had two and a half full-time faculty members instructing 40 majors prior to the recent cuts.
In response to those losses and to what they say is a lack of transparency on the part of the administration, students decided last week to dissolve the student government and replace it with a “more democratic” structure. They have also presented college president Christine Plunkett with a statement of values and a list of grievances. Students had planned to stage a protest last week during the college’s recruitment event for visiting high schoolers, but Plunkett dissuaded them from taking that action, McEleney said.
Plunkett said she’s met twice with concerned students for a total of five hours to explain the school’s recent actions and long-term plans. Those plans include tripling enrollment from 250 at present to 750 a decade from now.
In an interview with Seven Days, the president characterized the changes as a “restructuring” designed to ease a budget squeeze and increase teaching loads. Remaining full-time faculty members are now being required to teach four courses a semester; a few years ago, full-timers did not have to teach more than two courses, Plunkett said.
Department chairs will also be required to take part in student-recruitment efforts by visiting high schools — an expectation, Plunkett acknowledged, that makes faculty members “uncomfortable.”
The cuts will save the school about $210,000 a year, she noted.
Federal tax returns indicate that Burlington College recorded a $553,000 deficit in fiscal year 2011-2012, which is the most recent period for which the information is available. In the same year, revenues, which are derived almost entirely from student tuition, totaled about $4.5 million.“We’ve been running on an extremely tight budget for quite some time,” Plunkett said.
Not so tight, however, that it prevented the college from launching a new school of music. Board of Trustees Chairman Adam Dantzscher says this addition amid several faculty subtractions is “not contradictory.” The plan to offer a variety of music courses gives the college “new opportunities” for growth, adds Dantzscher, who heads up a local credit counseling firm.
Plunkett said that the college’s decision to winnow its staff of 35 full-time employees has nothing to do with the $10 million debt the school took on two years ago to finance the purchase of 32 acres along Lake Champlain north of downtown. The college has not missed any payments due on the mortgage held by People’s United Bank, Plunkett said. “I don’t feel we’re at risk of missing any,” she added.
“We’ve been working closely with the bank, and they’ve been very helpful,” Plunkett continued, noting that the college has hired a consultant to focus on financial issues.
How is the college going to cover the cost of the property it bought from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, which includes a 85,000-square-foot building that requires substantial renovation?
Can You Hear Us Now? Richmond Officials, Residents Have Little Sa...[Hide Story...]
Ezra Hall isn’t a land-use expert. But after receiving a packet in the mail from AT&T several weeks ago, the Richmond resident may be on his way to becoming one. The telecommunications giant was letting Hall know that it had signed a contract with his neighbor to build a 140-foot-tall cell tower on her Cochran Road property.
As an adjoining landowner, Hall has 45 days to file any input about AT&T’s project with the state. Hall has his worries, including the possibility of lower property values and health issues arising from nearby telecom equipment. Of greater concern to the electrical engineer, though, is the way a corporation as large as AT&T was able to bypass the town’s zoning regulations and design codes.
To be approved by Richmond’s development review board, telecom equipment is supposed to have a “stealth design” that blends in with the surrounding buildings or landscape, according to the town code. AT&T has already constructed a stealth antenna in Richmond, on the Verburg Farm silo near I-89. But according to Hall, the only thing stealthy about AT&T’s more recent proposal is the way it was allowed to skirt town planners.
“You buy into a town based on the value of the school, the neighborhood you’re going into, what it looks like, who your neighbors are, what’s next door to you. Because you’re expected as a homeowner to comply with the zoning regulations, you have an expectation that others will, as well,” says Hall.
In this case, though, Hall says he and other residents are victims of a bait and switch. As part of the effort to blanket Vermont with broadband internet service, the state has allowed AT&T and other telecoms to bypass town boards and win their approval directly from the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB).
Hall has a higher stake in the issue than most. To live on Greystone Drive, residents must pay a property tax premium — commonly known as the “view tax” — because the road snakes up a ridge and offers vistas of the valley below.
The Cochran Road cell tower may have company in those vistas. AT&T has plans for two others in the Snipe Ireland Road and Williams Hill areas. Meanwhile, SBA Communications, a Florida-based wireless equipment provider, has also proposed a 140-foot-tower on Johnnie Brook Road. Vermont Telephone Company (VTel) plans to rent space on that structure for a wireless broadband antenna. For that project, SBA and VTel also went straight to the state.
It’s no accident that telecom companies have been able to skip the town’s zoning process. The permission they need to break ground on the projects, called a certificate of public good, is issued by the PSB, a quasi-judicial entity whose three members are appointed by the governor to supervise Vermont’s public utility services.
As former governor Jim Douglas and Gov. Peter Shumlin have pushed to expand high-speed broadband access across the state, a linchpin of their efforts has been Vermont Statute 248(a), which allows telecom companies to circumvent municipalities by applying directly to the PSB for their certificates.
In 2012, the Shumlin administration announced a goal of relieving every Vermont home of dial-up connectivity by the end of this year. The state won’t quite hit the December 31, 2013, deadline, just as the Douglas administration wasn’t able to make good on a similar pledge of statewide coverage by 2010. However, that’s not for lack of trying to ease the way for faster expansion.
Originally passed by the state legislature in 2007, 248(a) streamlined the process by which funds from federal, state and private sources could translate into real telecom infrastructure. The law “has proven itself to be a useful tool for encouraging companies to make their wireless investments here in Vermont, to expand service or upgrade their networks to faster speeds,” says Christopher Campbell, executive director of the Vermont Telecommunications Authority.
As director of the VTA, Campbell has been on the front lines of the Shumlin administration’s telecom push. His agency helps marshal public funds to independent telecom companies that — after receiving certificates of public good — can lay fiber-optic cables and build wireless broadband towers in parts of t...