News Briefs
November 9, 2018

Lakes Region News Briefs – Nov. 8

By Lani Duke

CU presents ‘As You Like It’

Castleton University students are presenting Shakespeare’s comedy, “As You Like It.” According to a wikipedia entry, the plot is built on “chance encounters in the forest and several entangled love affairs in a serene pastoral setting.” Other critics have noted Shakespeare’s critique of “social practices that produce injustice and unhappiness” and how the play ridicules “anti-social, foolish and self-destructive behaviour,” contrasting love with infatuation. It all happens in the Forest of Arden, where things are not what they seem, a favorite setting of Shakespeare.

Arts Reach, a Castleton program offering arts performances to grade schoolers, had requested “As You Like It,” theatre arts professor Harry McEnerny said. He described it as a fun play, but one that raises the bar for actors because learning to embody a difficult language builds students’ skill set.

The full production is a two-hour performance, running Nov. 9-11. The collegiate actors then present a 45-minute version for fourth- through eighth graders.

Staff changes at GMC

Professor Philip Ackerman-Leist is leaving Green Mountain College Jan. 1, 2019, to be dean of the School of the New American Farmstead at Sterling College in Craftsbury Common. Ackerman-Leist has been director of the Sustainable Food Solutions Initiative, Vermont Business Magazine reports. Ackerman-Leist will teach in and lead Sterling’s continuing education program, working with short courses that inspire lifelong environmental stewardship for residential and non-residential students of all ages. He is author of “A Precautionary Tale: How One Small Town Banned Pesticides, Preserved Its Food Heritage, and Inspired a Movement,” “Rebuilding the Foodshed,” and “Up Tunket Road: the Education of a Modern Homesteader,” based on his family’s relocation to an off-grid lifestyle on Tunket Road in Pawlet.

VSC bestows fellowship on CU music prof

The Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees honored Castleton’s director of choral activities and music department chair Sherrill Blodgett as the VSC Faculty Fellow for the 2018-2019 academic year.  The award recognizes outstanding accomplishments in teaching and learning among tenured faculty. Blodgett has been a member of the Castleton community since 2008. In her new role, she plans to explore projects that enrich her knowledge of the choral repertoire from Latin America, bringing more of that genre to students and local audiences.

CU censures antisocial acts

Castleton U Student Government Association president James Wolfe recently sent out a schoolwide email decrying vandalism and thefts from dorm rooms. “We see these incidents as an affront to the Castleton University way of life,” he asserted. The school’s Public Safety department is investigating the damage, the college newspaper, The Spartan, reported. Public Safety is asking people with information on any vandalism to call 802-468-1215.

Opponents to shooting range seek noise ordinance

The Pawlet Select Board began discussions on creating a noise ordinance at its Oct. 23 meeting. The zoning administrator has been hearing complaints about noise from slate quarry operations and from automatic rifle fire. Last summer a sizeable group of residents appeared before the Pawlet Development Review Board, objecting to the operation of an unpermitted private tactical shooting range at the junction of Warren Switch Road and Briar Hill Road in Pawlet, reported in the July 18-24 issue of the Mountain Times. The operator was Slate Ridge, whose website promoted survivalist-type training and armed self-defense.

Only recently, shooting range opponent Harry Van Meter researched noise regulation and other matters on behalf of the Planning Committee. He found that the town has no noise ordinance and that several other ordinances are outdated and could use review.

Select Board Chair Mike Beecher responded with the stipulation that creating an ordinance requires prior research and that the group seeking he ordinance must take their request to the Select Board. Once created, ordinances could be enforced by the town constable.

Industrial hemp arrives in Pawlet

Larry Leslie has purchased a large industrial building in West Pawlet to use as a future hemp growing facility, he told the Select Board. He plans to renovate other buildings on the property for artist work space rentals.

CSJ student named Merit Scholar

Ben Rengstorf was recently was named a James Beard National Merit Scholar. In addition to his teaching duties at Roosevelt High School in the Minneapolis public school system, he teaches after-school cooking classes to middle and high school students, using a degree in culinary arts from Saint Paul College, and plans to pilot an English as a second language food class to partner with local chefs and with the urban farming class in recovering food scraps for composting.

Quilt raffle drawing underway in Fair Haven

Friends of the Fair Haven Free Library are holding a quilt raffle through Dec. 1. The drawing will be held Dec. 14.

Raffled items are two handmade quilts and an original painting, with proceeds to help sponsor the library’s many annual programs and events.  The Friends are also planning the annual Holiday House, which will be held Nov. 27 at the library, complete with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Poultney couple leaves Vermont over quarry blasting

When Kristin and Jeff Silverman purchased a house at 1276 York St. Extension, Poultney, nine years ago, they believed that the adjacent quarry would remain unused, as it had been since the 1950s. But Hilltop Slate decided to reopen the quarry last year.

Blasting and mining within 100 feet of their house left the foundation of the Silvermans’ house crumbling and buckling. In January 2018, they filed suit for $150,000 for negligence claims, $150,000 nuisance claims, and three times the value of their house for gross negligence, filed by attorney A.J. LaRosa of Burlington.

The town of Poultney also filed a cease-and-desist letter, saying the quarry blasting endangered the highway.

Hoping that Hilltop would follow the common practice of buying them out, the Silvermans entered mediation Oct. 12, but Hilltop was not interested in buying the property. Continuing to pursue the case in federal court would demand an additional $60,000 in legal fees the couple could not afford, Silverman told the Rutland Herald. They have moved in with Kristin’s parents in Hampton, New York, and still owe $120,000 on their property with expectations of being forced into foreclosure.

The quarry predates Act 250 requirements, which include town zoning setbacks from adjacent properties.

Castleton lawyer in contempt after failure to appear

Phyllis McCoy-Jacien failed to appear at a Vermont Supreme Court hearing Oct. 18, a failure that caused the court to declare her in contempt. This instance marks the latest of McCoy-Jacien’s disputes with the state legal system, extending back more than two years. Her legal tangles began with failure to file tax returns; the state suspended her law license for that offense in 2016. It was suspended again March 29 for nine months, because she did not comply with the probation terms she was supposed to comply with in 2016.

The Court appointed Rutland attorney Jesse Schwidde as trustee to oversee her cases, but he has not been able to locate her, he told the court in April. On Sept. 7, he reported to the Vermont Supreme Court that McCoy-Jacien had refused to cooperate with his attempts to see case files; on Sept. 12, the Court ordered her to cooperate within two weeks or be cited for contempt. On Oct. 1, Schwidde reported that she was still not cooperating.

The court scheduled an Oct. 18 “show-cause” hearing in which she could explain why she should not be held in contempt. It included that stipulation that someone found in contempt had time to purge the order and indicated she has until Nov. 30 to cooperate with Schwidde, with a purge hearing scheduled for Dec. 4.

Failure to comply with the orders may result in incarceration.

Looking at online records, the Rutland Herald found her listed with offices in Whitehall, New York, and a residence in Castleton.

Telephone calls to both received a message that the numbers were disconnected.

When the Vermont Professional Responsibility Board investigated McCoy- Jacien’s legal records, it appeared that she had only one open case pending in Rutland County Probate Court, but her client had found another lawyer.

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