Category Archives: City Voice

Vergennes City Voice 08-2017

Mayor, Michael H. Daniels

Welcome to the second edition of the City Voice. Previously, I spoke about City taxes, this edition includes an article from City Manager Hawley explaining how your tax money is spent. Reach out to either of us with questions and/or comments. Thanks Mel.

As of this writing there are approximately 125 shopping days until Christmas, less than 100 days until Thanksgiving and less than 12 days to Vergennes Day. I hope many of you will visit the events on the City Green, stop at the fire station for breakfast, maybe run one of the three races, 15K (new this year) 10K and 5K. Stop by Falls Park or the City Dock from 9:00 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. nightly to view the lighted falls until the week after Labor Day.

I held the first Cracker Barrel with the seniors and a lot of good ideas came from this gathering. If anyone would like to offer a senior citizen a ride to an event (church supper, band concert, funeral, school function), contact me for more information.

I would like to thank some of our citizens that have taken pride in “our” City. My brother Matt has been keeping the grass cut from his home all the way to Potash Brook. Alderman Mark Koenig and Michelle Eckels for all their hard work getting the swimming pool ready for this season, as well as the swim team and family members who also helped. Jason Farrell stepped down from the Planning Commission with over ten years of service, but will remain on the Development Review Board.

Volunteering helps with making Vergennes such a wonderful place to live. If you can spare some time, give me a call or send me an email, we can always use help. We are always looking for articles of interest for upcoming editions of the City Voice, if you have one, please make contact with me.

Vergennes Day a small history Marguerite Senecal

It all began in 1980 when the Vergennes Rec Committee, with Chris Pettibon as Chair, had the idea that it would be nice to celebrate and give recognition to all the people who worked tirelessly for the little City in some capacity or other. For some reason, the event didn’t get its official name until 1981, at which time it was decided that since the event was to thank the locals, it should be titled, “Vergennes Day”. The name has stuck for 36 years!

The event was held with the Little City Walk & Run Race kicking it off. It began as a small party on the City Green where there were a few booths, crafts and such, and the Lions Club held a Chicken BBQ. The City purchased meals from the Lions as a thank you for those that were on their payroll and others that worked to support the Little Cities’ endeavors and City Band members.

In 2002, the Addison County Chamber of Commerce came on board and has helped grow the event through the years to include venues, not only on the City Green, but also at the Opera House, Falls Park with Children’s Activities including a Petting Zoo, the Rubber Ducky Race, a Car Show at VUHS Vergennes Day a small history Marguerite Senecal (cont’d)
plus various demonstrations, Fire Station Breakfast and soapy bubbles for the kids, and St. Peter’s Parish Hall who offered a Rummage Sale. One year, visitors could even go up in the RE/MAX hot air balloon!

Some of the venues no longer exist, but there was, and still is great music on the Bandstand, around 75 or so vendors/crafts selling their wares, various activities for children and the tasty Lions Chicken BBQ. Vergennes Day is usually the 4th Saturday of August and kicked off by a street dance the night before with the “Hitmen” playing on the Bandstand!
See you there!

City Manager, Mel Hawley

The City Council, department heads, and I often talk about “The Budget”. We actually have five budgets, namely general, fire, recycling, sewer, and swimming pool. The fire fund derives its revenue from the City and the three surrounding Towns, recycling the same but with the Town of Addison as well, sewer from the sewer utility billing, and the swimming pool from season passes, lesson fees, swim team fees, and daily admissions. The general fund budget ($2,290,291) covers administration (16.6%), police (39.2%), public works (33.3%), voter appropriations (1.5%), and various other appropriations including the Bixby Memorial Free Library, Vergennes Area Rescue Squad, Addison County Transit Resources, the City’s share of the fire department and recycling budgets, recreation, Addison County tax and other appropriations (9.4%).

The general fund budget of $2,290,291 is not raised entirely by property taxes as there are a number of supplemental revenue sources. That being said, property taxes do represent the lion’s share (79.8%), clerk fees, license, and permits (1.5%), State revenue (6.9%), interest, fines, and sewer support (8.6%), and an appropriation from the prior year’s surplus (3.2%).

The general fund budget adopted by the City Council required a tax rate of 81 cents which is an increase from 79 cents a year ago. We all hoped that so-called school consolidation would provide for some property tax relief with a possible reduction in the education taxes for this year. That was not the case as it turned out; the homestead education property tax rate rose from $1.6021 to $1.6237 per $100.

We will continue our efforts in obtaining State and Federal grants to support the cost of much-needed infrastructure improvements and equipment and use of the Water Tower Fund and Watershed Recreation Reserve Fund as a strategy to avoid further property tax increases.

Police Chief, George Merkel

The City of Vergennes has become a well-known place to visit, shop and go out to eat. Each year Vergennes has continued to improve in appearance and provides visitors with a wide variety of attractions.

Police Chief, George Merkel (cont’d)

The recent warm summer weather has brought a higher rate of pedestrian, bicycle and motor vehicle traffic to our area.

Here are some safety tips for all of us to pay close attention to:

-It is against the law and extremely dangerous to use any form of electronic communications, phone or texting, while operating a motor vehicle, unless you have hands-free capability. Whatever your need is to communicate, it can wait until you pull over.

-Even if the operator of a vehicle is stopped at a traffic light or stop sign, it is illegal for the operator to use a hand-held electronic device.

-When passing through a residential or urban area, be even more vigilant for pedestrians or bicyclists who may attempt to cross in front of you.

-Always remember young children have very little vertical profile and are hard to see, even at the edge of a crosswalk.

-As a pedestrian, never assume an operator of a vehicle can see you while you are in a crosswalk area.

-As a pedestrian, never cross the road unless you are in a crosswalk area. Never cross the road from between parked vehicles.

-Always make eye-to-eye contact with the operator and make sure the vehicle comes to a complete stop before beginning to cross.

-As a pedestrian, and as a parent or responsible party for young children who may be with you, always make sure you have COMPLETE control of your children. Never let children run up to or across a crosswalk without you being right next to them to ensure a safe crossing.

-Runners should never run with headphones on and should always wear some sort of bright-colored clothing while running.

-Bicyclists should always obey the laws of the road just as if they were operating a motor vehicle. Just as pedestrians, never assume a passing motorist sees you on your bike.

-As a bicyclist, always wear a helmet and use both front and rear lights at night.

-If two bicyclists are riding abreast and a motor vehicle approaches from behind them, one of them should fall in behind the other to make safer passage for the vehicle.

-Parents should constantly reinforce safety procedures to their children and demonstrate their own adherence to those same procedures whether they are operating a vehicle or they are pedestrians or Police Chief, George Merkel (cont’d)
bicyclists. Merely telling our children the right way to do things is not enough. Our children learn from what they see us do!

Finally, please do not drink alcohol and drive, never operate a vehicle under the influence of drugs, and always make sure everyone in your vehicle is wearing a seatbelt before moving your vehicle.

Have a great rest of the summer, please be safe and God Bless you!

Pool Advisory Committee Renny Perry

The first meeting of the Sam Fishman Swimming Pool Advisory Group was held on June 26, 2017 at the pool. The group was the creation of Mayor Michael Daniels after he attended an informal meeting at the pool during which concerned swim team parents and others met to discuss and review the condition of the pool.

The pool is over 50 years old, but only came under City control in 2010. Prior to that it was owned and operated by the Vergennes Graded School District. The pool is beginning to show the signs of its age, signaling a need to come up with a plan to maintain and operate this major public asset into the future.

The Pool Advisory Group was encouraged to come up with its own mission statement, but was more immediately tasked with identifying short-term needs, longer-term needs, and wants. Short-term needs ranged from additional signage, toilet paper and soap dispensers, and baby changing stations. Repairs to the pool deck and correcting drainage issues, fixing the diving board, and upgrading the filter system. Some longer-term needs identified were a robotic vacuum to more efficiently clean the pool, a solar cover and reel to retain pool heat, and a new roof on the bathhouse with solar panels to heat the pool. The “wants” included umbrellas for shade, comfortable chairs, benches in the bathrooms sanded and stained, and extending the pool season dates.

While the list of needs and wants was relatively short, the cost related to acquiring the items is somewhat daunting. The group felt that acquiring or accomplishing these items could be done by a combination of City funding, private fund-raising, and volunteer efforts. The group will continue to meet to solidify its ostensible mission of addressing short-term needs and developing a long-range plan for the care and continued operation of the pool.

The members of the Pool Advisory Group are: Shanon Atkins, Vergennes Partnership; Lisa Casey, Vergennes Swim Team (VST) Volunteer, Pool Patron, & Vergennes Resident; Michelle Eckels, VST Volunteer, Pool Patron & Vergennes Resident; Dustin Hunt, Middlebury Parks & Recreation, Licensed Pool Operator & Vergennes Resident; Renny Perry, Vergennes City Council, Vergennes Partnership & Vergennes Resident; Ken Sullivan, Director of Buildings, Grounds & Safety for ANWSD.

Pool Advisory Committee Renny Perry (cont’d)

It would be remiss not to mention the significant volunteer effort by several of the Pool Advisory Group members and many other volunteers to do the work necessary to open the pool on schedule this year. Without the work to patch cracks and openings in the pool shell, fill deck cracks, power wash the deck, benches and tables, and general maintenance the pool would not have opened on time. Special thanks to Mark Koenig of the Vergennes City Council, who put in countless hours to repair the pool shell so it could be filled with water. Thanks to all.

Vergennes in Bloom Jane Barlow

Vergennes Gardening started weeding and trimming shrubs and plants on the City Green, the Information Kiosk, and the entrance to the Opera House in late May. Debris was also cleared from the Macdonough Monument.

Since May we have been meeting every other Wednesday on the City Green. Spireas and hostas have been trimmed to clear the brick walkways in the park, as well as general upkeep throughout the City Green and Opera House gardens.

We welcome anyone to join us every other Wednesday from 4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. The next time we meet will be August 23rd on the City Green.

We have two volunteers who will continue maintaining the flower gardens at the Vergennes five Welcome To signs. Dave and Lynne Leclair have maintained these gardens for many years, sharing perennials from their private gardens. Thank you, Dave and Lynne!

Thank you, too, to the many business owners who maintain their own gardens in the City for everyone to enjoy.

Vergennes City Voice 05-2017

Vergennes City Voice

Volume 1, Issue 1

May 2017

Mayor Michael H. Daniels

The City Voice is back and will resume its quarterly publication. It will also be available on the City’s website (http://vergennes.org/) under ‘RECENT POSTS’. If you have an article you wish to share please email to mjdaniels@gmwireless.net.

First, I would like to thank Mayor Benton for all of his hard work over the last four years making Vergennes a better place to live, work and play.

Second, is taxes. How do we grow our wonderful city and keep our tax rates responsible? Everyone would like tax rates to stay the same, unfortunately that won’t happen. Our school taxes will be higher this year and if we want to continue improvements in our city, we will need to do a cost of living adjustment at minimum. We are always open to ideas on how to save money.

I look forward to the challenges put in front of me, but will be watching Chief Merkel and Scott Gaines as they banter on which team will make it to the World Series, Red Socks or Yankees!

Vergennes Partnership Amy Barr

The Vergennes Partnership launched a new website last summer that we intended to serve as a resource for all who visit, live in, or work in our little city.

If you visit www.VergennesDowntown.org, you will see buttons on the home page entitled, EVENTS, VISIT, PLAY & LIVE. As a resident, you will likely find the ‘Events’ and ‘Live’ buttons to be most relevant. Under ‘Upcoming Events’ you may find details about anything from Movie Night at The Bixby Library to a workshop on energy efficiency to a dance at The American Legion or a musical at VUHS. We encourage you to check it out whenever you’re looking for opportunities for local activities and education.

The ‘Live’ button includes a directory of businesses and organizations that residents could find useful. If you would like to suggest an event to post or a business or organization to add to the directory, please contact us at vergennespartnership@gmail.org. The website is a work-in-progress, so you can expect to see continual updates and improvements

Chief, George Merkel

Motor vehicle enforcement is a critical task in the scope of duties for any law enforcement agency.  The primary objectives for conducting motor vehicle enforcement are the reduction of unsafe operation of motor vehicles on highways and the protection of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.  Added benefits include increased officer presence and deterrence of criminal activity.  Speeding and impaired driving continue to be the primary causes of motor vehicle fatalities in our state.  Education and public awareness are key components of any motor vehicle enforcement strategy.

The Vergennes Police Department conducts a very proactive approach to motor vehicle enforcement.  From early on, we identified this as a key component to keeping our community safe.  As a result, there has been a very low frequency of accidents resulting in injuries and there has not been a fatality since we have been together as a department.

The city of Vergennes is very urban in nature.  We are proud of our commitment to keep our community safe and we will continue to do so.  We ask each of you to set an example for others by the manner in which you operate your vehicle, conduct yourselves as pedestrians and bicyclists, utilize seatbelts and respect the law regarding cell phone usage while driving.  As always, we always caution folks to never drink and drive and to use designated drivers.

Thanks again for your continued support.  God bless you and have a wonderful springtime.

 City Manager, Mel Hawley

The Vergennes Planning Commission headed by Chair Shannon Haggett along with members Mike Winslow, Jason Farrell, Tim Cook, Morgan Kittredge, Cheryl Brinkman, and John Coburn will be holding a public hearing on May 22 at 7 p.m. in City Hall relative to their proposed amendments to the municipal development plan. This is the second set of amendments since the plan was adopted by the City Council on September 30, 2014. The first set of amendments was specific to the downtown development district. The proposed amendments cover various matters that the Planning Commission felt should not be deferred until the re-write in 2019. The Vergennes Downtown-Basin Master Plan was completed last November and is proposed to be part of the plan. This will strengthen future grant applications. The section on solid waste/materials management has been totally rewritten as a result of Act 148 which mandates yard and food waste handling. The section on energy will include a proposed Solar Energy Overlay District and associated policies. The Commission desires to return language in the plan where new residential uses on the ground floor in the Central Business District are prohibited. There is also a proposed change in the Land Use Map involving two parcels in the southwest corner of the city from Low Density Residential District to Medium Density Residential District.

Following the public hearing, the Planning Commission will decide whether to make any changes in their proposed amendments. With or without changes, the proposed amendments will be forwarded to the City Council who will then hold at least two public hearings as required by statute.

Vergennes Historical Society Susan Ferland

Embezzlers, inventors, abolitionists, soldiers, captains, and entrepreneurs were all part of the history of Vergennes. The Vergennes Historical Society in its three years of existence has just begun to unearth the stories behind the men, women, and children who lived in Vergennes. Since our incorporation in 2014, we’ve climbed from the basement to the attic of several historic structures, transcribed three William Gove Bixby diaries in partnership with the Vermont Historical Society and the Bixby Library, identified and many photos, traced the history of several immigrants, puzzled over whatsits, and shared stories of growing up in Vergennes.

Our meetings are on the second Thursday of the month at 6:45 pm from September to April at the KB Cafe. Guests are always welcome! Membership is only $5 a year for individuals and $6 for a family. Dues assist the society in conserving materials and providing matching funds for grants. Questions, interested in joining, or have materials to donate? Talk to David Welch at the Clock Shop or Susan Ferland at Gaines Insurance.

Boys & Girls Club Jeff Fritz

Great things are happening at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Vergennes. Because of the amazing generosity of our community, we were able to complete a full renovation of our facility in 2016 including the addition of a full (and well-stocked!) kitchen, laundry facilities, and an ADA compliant bathroom with a shower. Dozens of volunteers gave freely of their time to sort, demolish, haul trash, paint, reorganize and redecorate. We are exceptionally grateful to P.J. Welch Construction for taking on our project, to J.W. & D.E. Ryan for fulfilling our complicated plumbing needs, Aubuchon Hardware for paint, and Countryside Carpet & Paint for securing the donation of new carpet and flooring. And nothing would have happened if not for the kindness of the many donors whose contributions made our dream possible. The results of this effort are clear: membership and daily attendance continue to rise. Any student from 5th – 12th grade is welcome to join the club.

There are daily activities, food, fun and conversation at the club Monday – Friday from 2:30 – 6:00 pm. Our snack program has expanded to a dinner program serving more than 400 meals in the month of March; and our mission – to serve those who need us most – has never been more attainable. This spring we introduced “Coffee, Carbs & Conversation,” an invitation to “seniors” to spend some time at the club, as part of our effort to increase our visibility in the larger community. Look for the announcement of the next event on Front Porch Forum and our Facebook page. We continue to explore other ways to increase our club’s value to those we serve. We invite everyone to stop in for a visit.

Our Executive Director Jill Strube heads a staff of truly dedicated and enthusiastic people all of whom are eager to share their passion for the work they do. We always have time for visitors.

Little City Race Scott Gaines

Happy Spring everyone. On Saturday Aug.ust 26th we invite you to join us at the 36th annual Vergennes Day race. Please be sure to save this date and plan on bringing your family and friends. We’re working on some exciting changes to the race, such as a longer 15K race option, a kid’s fun run, and changing the starting / finish line to the Vergennes Elementary School. We’re hoping to have our on-line registration up and running this month. We’ll give you more details on our proposed changes, revised race course maps, and the link to our on line registration next month. Please save the date and spread the word. We look forward to seeing everyone on Vergennes Day!

Scott Gaines – Vergennes Day Race Coordinator

802-877-2878 (w) E-mail: scott@gainesinsurance.com