A candle for awareness

Vigils brought light and awareness to the plight of local people experiencing homelessness.

A lot happens in a year in an area of the state so centrally located as Lamoille County, so much that it’s difficult to remember it all.

The News & Citizen was there, as usual, covering the triumphs and tragedies and everyday life of the ten-town county.

In an election year halfway through the first term of President Donald Trump, a mini blue wave turned seats in two of the county’s four districts over to Democrats, and nearly brought down a popular incumbent Republican in another. The race for governor had something of a home-team feel, too, with incumbent Gov. Phil Scott sharing stories of his youth in Elmore and challenger Christine Hallquist hailing from Hyde Park and making national headlines as the first transgender candidate to win a major party primary.

Lawmakers legalized marijuana, and a thousand people toked up without fear at a farm in Johnson the very first day the ban was lifted.

Road crews disrupted traffic today to make things better tomorrow, while tragic deaths on the local roads had people shaking their heads in anger and sorrow.

This area wasn’t immune to some of the rising racial hate in some parts of America, as hate speech popped up more than once on school campuses, and nearly every school took it as routine that active-shooter training is now as common as a fire drill.

At the same time, local faith leaders and other optimists held rallies and vigils to beat back the darkness and unite to try and fix local problems.

Case in point: The year opened with a rally to bring more awareness to the area’s homeless population, and ended with optimistic news about a permanent shelter from Vermont’s cold winter nights.

Championship seasons

Stowe High School won state team championships in golf and boys soccer, the cooperative team from Stowe High and Peoples Academy won the state title in girls hockey, and Lamoille Union runner MegAnne Gilmore won two state titles in indoor track and field.

• Gilmore, then a sophomore, won both the 1,000- and 1,500-meter races at the 2018 Division 2 indoor track and field state championships. Gilmore defeating Rice’s Emily Bloom in both events.

• The cooperative girls hockey team fielded by Peoples Academy and Stowe routed Missisquoi 5-0 in the Division 2 state championship game. The team finished the year 19-2-2 to earn the program’s first-ever state championship.

Peoples skater Allison Walker scored three goals in the title game, her sister Heather added a goal, Stowe’s Abbie Rice also scored and Raider goalie Leo Clark made the lead stand up with a 28-save shutout.

• In late October, the Stowe High boys golf team won the Division 3 state championship for the fourth straight season, beating second-place Northfield by a whopping 97 strokes. Ben Salvas led the way for Stowe with a 75; Flynn Kearney had a 78, Clark Brown a 79 and Max Gentle an 82.

• The Stowe High boys soccer team claimed its seventh consecutive Division 3 state championship with a 1-0 win over Twin Valley on Nov. 7. The Raiders got a first-half goal from Jace Boerger and the defense never let Twin Valley — an undefeated team — get into any kind of offensive rhythm.

The year of construction

Traffic delays, flaggers, cracked windshields and irritated drivers: That’s what it took to fix a long list of road problems in Lamoille County in 2018.

And, we can expect a repeat in 2019.

• The 10 miles of Route 100 between Waterbury and Stowe was completely rebuilt. The road was excavated right down through its based, and literally rebuilt from the ground up. The $24.6 million project was done almost completely at night in an effort to minimize traffic delays on Lamoille County’s busiest highway.

Workers got started as soon as the ground thawed out and kept working until early December.

• Also time-consuming was the $4 million replacement of Tenney Bridge on Route 15A in Morrisville and the realignment of the nearby intersection of Route 15 and 15A. The work actually started in 2017, but most of it was done in 2018. The new, permanent bridge is now in place and the intersection realigned.

• Two major projects costing a combined $2.95 million closed parts of Route 100C for long portions of the summer. The twin bridges in East Johnson were replaced in the spring and early summer, and a large culvert was replaced closer to North Hyde Park after Lamoille County Field Days wrapped up in late July.

• Route 108, the Mountain Road in Stowe, got some unexpected smoothing-out this year, as $1.3 million was used to resurface 7 miles from the village to Stowe Mountain Resort in late July and early August.

• Other projects that shut down state highways or major town highways included replacement of a large culvert under Route 15 in Jeffersonville and rebuilding part of Lower Main Street in Morrisville.

Wait until next year

Local drivers had better enjoy a barrier-free winter, because the flaggers and trucks and graders will be back next summer.

A multiyear project to rebuild Waterbury’s Main Street, from Stowe Street to the Winooski River, will get started next summer.

The sidewalks in Stowe village will be replaced, and the utility wires along Main Street will be buried at the same time.

Finishing touches, including pavement and traffic lights, will be installed on Route 100 between Stowe and Waterbury.

In Morrisville, the state Department of Transportation plans to pave all Class 1 town highways — all or parts of Brooklyn, Bridge, Portland, Park and Elmore streets, and parts of Lower and Upper Main streets.

Repaving Route 15 between Morrisville and Wolcott is tentatively scheduled for next summer, too.

Saving Green River Reservoir

A long-running dispute between the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and Morrisville Water & Light — involving how the local utility operates three dams — could stretch out for several more years.

The Morrisville utility makes electricity at the three hydropower dams — two on the Lamoille River and a third that creates the Green River Reservoir in Hyde Park. It needs a new license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the state government intervened, arguing that water flow at the dams is problematic.

Morrisville thought the state proposals would cost it too much power and money, so it appealed to the Vermont Environmental Court.

In September, the court sided with Morrisville on operation of the two Lamoille River dams, but sided with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources on stricter restrictions for the Green River dam. Morrisville has long claimed those standards make the dam unprofitable and could spell the end for beloved reservoir and state park it creates.

While Morrisville has not appealed the court decision, other parties have appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court, which Morrisville officials think could drag out the dispute for several more years.

— Andrew Martin

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