News Briefs
August 31, 2016

Lakes Region

Mad Hatter Cafe has new owner
POULTNEY—Emily Sumner is buying the Mad Hatter Cafe on Main Street in Poultney, from Serena Gallagher. A year-and-a-half old, the Mad Hatter began life as a clothing store under the name Button before changing its name and business structure to that of a cafe and gift emporium for handmade goods.
For the time being, Sumner will both own the business and be its sole employee. Its hours will remain at 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the week and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. She plans to expand the food menu with added baked goods while continuing to offer sandwiches, soups, salads, and breakfast items. Gallagher will continue to own and operate Taps Tavern across the street.
FH ratepayers asking water, sewer rate change
FAIR HAVEN—Fair Haven residents have been circulating a petition asking for a Nov. 8 public vote to “make null and void the existing water and sewer rate schedule and to replace it with a water and sewer rate schedule that is more equitable and affordable.” Currently, water users pay a flat fee (“base rate”) plus a usage rate.
The Board cannot change the fee structure without voter input. The current rate structure is set by ordinance; any alterations to the rate structure would have to be preceded by warning public hearings. This June’s rate setting was preceded by a discussion that at times grew “heated” about whether water and sewer bore too high a rice tag
The town’s Select Board has heard proposals on alternative rate structures during the current fiscal year, but no action was taken on the alternative rate systems proposed by selectmen Dick Frazier and Rod Holzworth II. Frazier had proposed users be billed in a system that only consider usage, while Holzworth presented a residential user rate based on average consumption. The Board has committed itself to determining whether the “status quo is fine or if there should be an alternative rate structure,” according to Town Manager Herb Durfee.
Changing the rate structure would require at least two months, Durfee estimated, but such a tight time frame is unlikely because of the number and variety of discussions that would arise. Once an ordinance is officially adopted, it becomes effective in 60 days unless an appeal is made. Were a rate change passed, current rates would continue being charged until the change becomes legal, Durfee commented.
Deciding whether such a petition is legally worded or not is the responsibility of the Select Board—or their legal counsel or the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, according to Deputy Secretary of State Chris Winters. The Board must decide whether to put the measure on the ballot.
Community Center loses key member
CASTLETON—The Castleton Community Center lost a key member of its organization with the death of Phebe Ball in mid-July. She had been a member of the Board of Directors from 2006 to 2015, was a member of the program committee, and active in the Knitter’s Network. The crab apple tree next to the Walking Trail sign was planted to remember her 90th birthday in 2011.
Tinmouth trail open for walkers
TINMOUTH—Tinmouth’s Conservation Commission invites visitors and residents to walk the Tinmouth Mountain Ridge Trail. What able-bodied walker can resist a chance to saunter to the bog bridges and through the fern valley, or continue up to the saddle and on to the ledges to see the Tinmouth valley and parts beyond? Park at the ball field near the school and look for the kiosk with a map and photos. Take water. Follow the white blazes.

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