News Briefs

News Briefs: Lakes Region

By Lani Duke

One-room schoolhouse gets third lease on life

PAWLET—The Pawlet Historical Society has found a new home in the renovated Chris Monroe Chapel in Mettowee Valley cemetery, on Cemetery Hill Road off Route 30 and next to the Pawlet post office. On exhibit is a display curated by George Bouret on the history of Pawlet businesses, put together with support by Martha Schoenemann, Sarah Rath, and Rose Smith.

The society had been looking for space of its own since 2011 and reached an agreement with the Pawlet Cemetery Association two years after beginning discussions. A $8,729 cultural facilities grant, awarded in Sept. 2015, enabled converting the chapel into exhibit and storage space and the addition of an ADA-accessible restroom.

The back room of the renovated chapel is renamed the Susanne Rappaport Memorial Archive Room to honor Rappaport, longtime historical society curator, who died in January 2015.

Originally a one-room schoolhouse, the building still belongs to the cemetery association, which is responsible for maintaining the exterior. The historical society pays an annual rent and has responsibility for the building interior.

Young entrepreneur floats a new business — on Bomoseen!

Adam Babb has opened his own business—on pontoons. His Ice Cream Float enterprise dispenses treats from the surface of Lake Bomoseen, reaching a target market of boaters, jet ski travelers, and dock sitters. He opened his freezer doors to the public July 13.

The 17-year-old first pitched his idea to Rutland Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Lyle Jepson on June 1. Jepson was impressed with the originality of Babb’s business idea, and so were other agencies which Jepson queried to make sure the proposition was sound. “Every agency” responded favorably, Jepson said.

The “brick and mortar” of Babb’s shop consists of a battery-powered chest freezer and a small counter plus a green roof overhead, with plans for a red-and-white striped awning. He is still figuring out how to keep the freezer running efficiently all through the six-hour shifts he plans to put in. The youngest entrepreneur that Jepson has worked with, at least so far, Babb is a “quiet, humble, entrepreneur,” Jepson stated.

Castleton faculty member lands seat on state board

CASTLETON—Dr. Ric Reardon, Castleton University director of education, recently received appointment to a three-year term as representative of Vermont’s higher education institutions to the Vermont Standards Board for Professional Educators. The standards board oversees training, licensing and professional standards of teachers and administrators while promoting educator quality for all Vermont’s public educators. Reardon oversees Castleton’s undergraduate teacher preparation program and the master’s and doctoral-level education. He also directs the Castleton Center for Schools, offering professional development for educators through workshops, institutes, course offerings and tutorials.

Warning: beware the wild parsnip

If you see a bright yellow flowering plant that looks a lot like Queen Anne’s Lace, do not pick the strikingly beautiful wild parsnip! If the sap touches your skin and then you are out in the sun, you may develop a painful rash or burn. If you do get the sap on your skin, wash it off with soap and water, and then protect the exposed skin for a minimum of 48 hours. Do the same for any animals exposed to the sap if they lack a thick coat of hair.

The sap contains phototoxic furocoumarins (also called psoralens) that, once absorbed into the skin, become energized by ultraviolet light, binding with nuclear DNA and cell membranes. A mild case results in reddened skin that feels sunburned. Severe cases result in first reddening, then blisters and intense pain. Perspiration moisture speeds the chemicals’ absorption, and sensitive skin areas may appear more heavily afflicted.

Unlike poison ivy, a person need not have earlier exposure to the sap to have a reaction. Also unlike poison ivy, reactions do not become increasingly severe on subsequent exposure. And the inflammation does not spread to unaffected areas by scratching. But the afflicted area may develop a reddish or brown stain that lingers for months or sometimes even years.

Pastinaca sativa, beautiful as it is, is a relative of the parsnip that we may find at the farmers’ market or on grocery store shelves, but this wild cousin is a rapidly-spreading, non-native species that came from Europe and Asia. Land managers increasingly place it in the category of invasive species rather than that of benign weeds because it can outcompete native plants.

Communities lose two

The Castleton area lost a valued, multi-faceted person in the June 6 death of Dr. James Jordan, known for his skills in both emergency and sports medicine. He also was a patented inventor collaborating in NASA research, a gifted photographer and athlete, lay meteorologist, and outdoor enthusiast.

Benson Selectwoman and Justice of the Peace Sue Janssen died July 22, two weeks after her 70th birthday. She had served for more than 10 years on the town select board and three years on the Vermont League of Cities and Towns board of directors. A retired French teacher, Janssen advocated for her own and other small towns across the state because she so loved the process of democracy.

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