News Briefs
March 2, 2016

Lakes Region News Briefs

POULTNEY

GMC woos VYCC, returned Peace Corps volunteers

Green Mountain College recently announced its offer of discounted Green Mountain tuition for Vermont Youth Conservation Corps volunteers. The school has also announced the new Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program to provide scholarships for returned Peace Corps volunteers taking the school’s M.S. in Environmental Studies program.

Poultney votes to align with RCSU

Pressure resulting from Act 46 has led to the the Poultney School Board voting on Feb. 23 to join the Rutland Central Supervisory Union in a study committee. Poultney had been tentatively planning to join the adjacent Addison-Rutland Supervisory Union, but realized it could not commit until after ARSU member towns had voted internally whether to consolidate, a ballot planned for April 12.

An ARSU-wide “yes” vote would transform that entity into the Slate Valley Unified Union District as of July 1, 2017. The SVUUD would have a single board and budget, with control of several elementaries and Fair Haven Union High. There was no guarantee that Poultney could retain its own high school if it merged with the new Slate Valley district.

Even if Poultney were to get its druthers, time would run too short. The strictures of Act 46 call for school districts to have determined their course of action by November 2017; if not, the state can arbitrarily assign districts.

To consolidate only with its fellow members of the Rutland Southwest Supervisory Union would create a different kind of conflict. Its partners are not pre-K through grade 12. Poultney would have to close its schools or the other districts must give up school choice. However, Rutland Central Supervisory Union’s West Rutland and Proctor districts are structured, like Poultney, on a pre-K through 12 basis.

There is still a snag. The Rutland Town school district is not a mirror of RSSU’s Middletown Springs. Rutland Town is pre-K through 8; Middletown Springs, pre-K through 6. To conform to the infamous Act, Rutland Town must cut middle school, or Middletown must add junior high.

To further complicate matters, Middletown Springs has been looking south and east rather than in a more northerly direction. Currier, Danby, Mount Tabor, and Sunderland might make better partners, all having a pre-K thorough grade 6 format, according to RSWSU Superintendent Joan Paustian.

And RSWSU district member Wells is weighing a merger with Middletown Springs against that of hooking up to part of Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union, specifically Rupert, Pawlet, and Mettawee School. The Wells School Board planned to decide which direction to lean in a February 29 meeting.

Poultney Library one of 16 grant recipients

A Vermont Arts Council Cultural Facilities Grant will make Poultney Public Library more comfortable for its users. Presented February 9 at the State House in Montpelier, the $30,000 grant is to fund replacement of the building’s boiler and air conditioning. The air conditioning system in the building had been “no longer working at full capacity,” and the boiler too had become ready for replacement.

Making the library more comfortable for its visitors is especially important during cultural programs and events, said Library Director Rebecca Cook. The library has been serving residents of Poultney and surrounding towns since 1895.

The library continues to raise funds for its Capital Campaign, which will bring necessary roof repairs, additional electrical outlets and breakers, replacing windows, and more space.

In the meantime, the library is holding its fourth annual Peeps Diorama Contest; this year’s theme is Great Peeps in Science. Individuals or groups wanting to compete must build a diorama of a great moment in science with all characters represented made from marshmallow peeps. Entries are accepted through the entire month of March.

FAIR HAVEN

Dog incident will go to hearing

The Fair Haven police department has been investigating a seemingly dangerous dog complaint after local school teacher Eric Gross and his American foxhound Dexter were both injured during an evening walk on or near Fourth Street. Gross claims that three dogs, all belonging to a neighboring family, took part in the attack, although only one of the trio bit and clawed Dexter. Gross himself suffered a dislocated shoulder and bone damage from pulling on his dog’s leash and trying to rescue his animal. The town plans to hold a vicious dog hearing on either March 8 or 15. Reportedly, the dogs in question had attacked other dogs both in Fair Haven and in Whitehall, N.Y., where the owners had lived in 2014.

CASTLETON

CU builds environmental stewardship program

The Davis Educational Foundation recently awarded Castleton University a grant to participate in the Campuses for Environmental Stewardship program. Its purpose is to develop and implement civic engagement courses with an emphasis on environmental stewardship and sustainability.

Team leader for the project is Dean of Arts, Sciences, and Community Engagement Ingrid Johnston-Robledo, working with Associate Professor of Geography Scott Roper, Economics Professor Judith Robinson, Assistant Professor of English Chris Boettcher, Sociology Professor Paul Derby and Part-time Professor of Archeology Matt Moriarty. It encourages more community orientation for the environmental studies program and encourages additional students to enroll in the University’s civic engagement certificate program.

The six Castleton faculty members attended a faculty development institute and training at the University of New England in November and have worked to create innovative interlinking courses for the spring 2016 semester. Those courses include Building Environmental Sustainability, Globalization and the Environment, Expository and Argumentative Writing, and Vermont’s Ancient Past.

Working holiday

Castleton University student Jessica Ralston and Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Christine Palmer traveled to the jungles of Panama for their holiday break. They spent their New Year celebration with a Dartmouth College-based research group on Barro Colorado, an island in the middle of the Panama Canal, collecting and studying katydids. Their goal was to study DNA from the digestive tracts of various sized and shaped katydids. The researchers will continue their work at Castleton using frozen katydids and reagents supplied by the Dartmouth team.

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