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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Charlotte Selectboard Water Woes June 22, 2015

Charlotte, Vermont
June 22, 2015

Selectboard Awash in Water Woes

Late spring rains of 2015 are flooding fields and ditches. The torrents have brought Lake Champlain’s water level to over 98 feet! However, it was with trees in mind that the Selectboard convened at 5:30 pm, June 22, 2015 on site at a Mack Farm Field located on the north side of East Thompson’s Point Road, abutting the former Laberge Farm barn, now owned by Roel Boumans and Tiny Sikkes, to the East.

The Mack Farm has recently utilized the field for GMO crop production of either corn or soybean. This year, the farm was paid a per acre subsidy to seed down the field with forage and keep it in hay for six years, including this year. However, poor drainage in the field is causing problems for Mack brothers Robert and David to seed down this field in certain areas. Just north of Thompson's Point Road is a ravaged ravine to demonstrate the flow of water as it erodes the field on its way to Thorpe Brook.

The Mack brothers would like to remove some of the roadside trees planted several years ago courtesy of the Rudder Tree Fund. Tree Warden Larry Hamilton oversaw the plantings. While at that time the trees had been welcomed by the landowner, Robert Mack said he made a mistake to encourage the tree planting. He highlights the drainage issue as the reason for wishing the trees to be removed. The Mack Farm wants to create a table with the earth near Thompson's Point Road that will redirect the water flow more evenly across the field where it slopes eastward.

Additionally, water that flows from the westerly properties needs to be diverted away from the field to prevent continued erosion. A north/south ditch at the western edge of the field exists to remediate this problem. According to the Macks, however, the tree line is an imposition to their drainage plan. This ditch has traditionally fed into the Thompson's Point roadside ditch. The Mack brothers are ready to provide stone to line the roadside ditch and create stop dams as needed to slow the flow of water to Thorpe Brook. These measures also catch sediment before it passes into the brook. Robert Mack said, "the water is going there one way or another..."

Marty Illick of the Lewis Creek Association introduced her colleague Roy Schiff to the site. He is a water resource scientist with Milone and MacBroom, a reputed firm with an impressive clientele. Schiff and Illick reviewed the site together with David Mack, Roel Boumans and Zoning Administrator Jeanine McCrumb. They joined the selectboard, members of the conservation commission, neighbors for a tour along the treeline and an explanation from Robert Mack about why the trees contribute to the drainage problem in that field.

Back at Town Hall the meeting was called to order just past 7 pm. I made a public comment about the new media venture being launched here in this blog -- 

Over a year ago, former Citizen Editor Sheri Duff enlisted me to report on the Charlotte Selectboard. While i was reluctant at first, I became interested since I was attending most meetings.  When Sheri Duff left The Citizen, new editor Lynn Monty (formerly of the Burlington Free Press and Hometown) wished for me to write less of a "report" and pick and choose issues, explaining why they were important to readers. While I certainly see merit in having special articles on important issues, I was not willing to provide that type of story without the "flat" report that I am accustomed to generating. 

For the moment, those reports will be available via the Rural Route Today blog. Social media and email will be utilized in the process of making people aware that these reports will exist online.

A discussion about the site visit to the Mack
Farm field ensued. Selectman Tegatz pointed out a statute in the town that says no property owner shall drain water into a town ditch. He also noted there is no ordinance to support this and he feels that there should be one. Selectman Krasnow expressed thoughts about creating a situation whereby the parties work together, also to solve a bigger problem. New legislation (H-35) will require towns to address water quality and the Lake Champlain cleanup.

Marty Illick indicated that the Lewis Creek Association and Milone and MacBroom (represented by Roy Schiff) will be receiving grant monies that could be implemented to address this problem in a cooperative way. Town Planner and Zoning Administrator Jeannine McCrumb suggested ongoing discussion of different interests with the intention to seek alternative ideas to solve the problem.

Road Commissioner Junior Lewis weighed in acknowledging the importance of getting the cover crop to seed down. He does not want to see deep trenches along the roadside and he feels that working around at least some of the trees would be beneficial. He noted that the ditches do not need to be lined or stop dams created until where the slope begins. Much of the field is flat until a certain point. This would allow some of the trees to remain in place.

Chair Lane Morrison felt that there was no need to take any action at this time. He recommended that the Mack Farm submit a proposal outlining their wishes regarding the trees. The issue will be acted upon as a future agenda item.

Recreational Requests

The Kelly Brush Ride was approved for September 12. It was noted that there is also a half marathon running out of Shelburne that may overlap with the ride. Betsy Langefelt represented the Kelly Brush ride and she said that based on conversation with the half marathon organizer Rayne Herzog, the two events are unlikely to overlap. She also noted that the Charlotte portion of the Kelly Brush ride is not overcrowded as most of the riders stick to the shorter routes. 

The Green Mountain Bicycle Club time trials that take place on South Greenbush Road from Charlotte into Ferrisburgh and back were also approved. This year they will occur on two dates, July 9 and August 19. The trials are free to anyone who wishes to participate. Riders typically do not overlap. Green Mountain Bike Club president Kevin Bessette said the event typically runs all day on the 8.3 mile course.

Purchasing Policy

The Selectboard approved the purchasing policy with just a few small changes. Town Auditor Peter Trono inquired whether a preferred vendor list and request for bids template will also be attached to the policy. The vendor list is a work in progress. The Town Auditors agreed to work on an RFP template. Town Auditor Jenny Cole suggested that there be some method of training for town groups and associated purchasing agents. The Selectboard liaisons will help facilitate awareness of the purchasing policy.

Road Commissioner Lewis was designated as the first purchasing agent for the town. 

Community Clean Up Fund 

CSWD (Chittenden Solid Waste District) Rep Abby Foulk described the two sites that qualified for money from the CSWD community cleanup fund.  She said after doing outreach in the town papers and Front Porch Forum, two sites became known to be worthy of attention, one at the Charlotte Central School and the other off a steep bank on Mansfield property along Lime Kiln Road.

The school has agreed to provide labor for the cleanup and asked only for a cost share on the container estimated at $750.00. The Selectboard approved this plan. They also approved $500 from the $,3000 fund for Road Commissioner Lewis to clean up the site. The cost should cover transportation to Redmond Road and associated tipping fees. The Mansfield site has been historically used as an illegal dumpsite and deterring future use of the site has its challenges. John Hammer suggested the installation of a game camera for a period of time. Collecting forensic evidence before and after the cleanup may also provide some information about who is using the dumpsite. The Selectboard approved spending up to $350 for the purchase of two signs to be placed at each site. The signs will state that violators will be prosecuted with up to the maximum fine of $500.00. 


Selectman Tegatz presented the bid request results for the deck repair of the Carpenter Road Bridge. He felt all bids were too high and recommended that no action be taken at this time. Tegatz indicated that he would seek an opinion from VTRANS on the matter.

Tegatz then presented the results of his request for bids to complete a drainage project to include additional paving and curbing along a section of the south side of Ferry Road to the west of the Post Office. He expressed the thought that while the complaint of property owner Shirley Bruce would be addressed regarding roadway runoff, the solution would not be likely to entirely solve her drainage problems. Tegatz expressed confidence that paving and curbing would address road runoff and requirements for Complete Streets regarding pedestrian accessibility and, in this  case, better roadside parking.

Tegatz made a motion to approve a $31,420.00 budget to widen the pavement and install a curb on Ferry Road. The motion did not receive a second. Chair Morrison inquired of the silent Selectboard members why there had been no second.  Krasnow said he felt that the project was reminiscent of the sidewalk proposal that was heartily voted down by the town in a special meeting. He also felt better aesthetic consideration is warranted for area. Selectman Spell thanked Tegatz for his work on the project but that he felt a better planning solution was required in this location. Chair Morrison referred to the Dubois and King study that he feels already addressed these issues. 

Jenny Cole felt that it would be good to take some action. David Marshall said there should be a plan for parking, trees and pedestrian use. He believes it's time to embrace the future. Krasnow also mentioned that future grants may be available when the Village Designation process is complete. Work on the Town Plan can also reflect progress in this area.

Other Business

Comfort Hill was selected to continue the contract with Charlotte for animal/dog housing as needed.

The Selectboard terminated Steven Stetson's Thompson's Point lease for lots 176 and 177 and approved a new lease to Gary F. and Jane Alsofrom, Co-Trustees of the Gary F. Alsofrom Trust.

Minutes of May 26, June 2,8 and 15 were approved. Approved and draft minutes are available online at

Selectboard Updates

Selectman Spear said she had attended meetings of the Recreation Commission and the Library Trustees. Spear reported that both groups have great energy and are composed of enthusiastic and dedicated people. Recreation reports healthy program enrollment and enthusiasm for the town beach party scheduled for july 11 from 4-8 pm. The Library is implementing google drive and more shall be known soon about that upgrade.

Krasnow said the game cameras have arrived and they are ready to set up one at the beach. He described his experience learning about different weights of chain to secure the speed cart. Tegatz suggested braided stainless cable as an alternative.

Tegatz said progress on the library roof was going well. Deficiencies in the East side of the building are being located and addressed.

Spell inquired whether other Selectmen had received a letter from Town Clerk Mead regarding an issue that has arisen with the pay grid. The letter has been received by others and Spell wants to make sure the problem is addressed.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:54 pm.

Monday, February 6, 2012

February - no snow in the Champlain Valley.

Please excuse the retro nature of the Rural Route Today blog. I am in the process of figuring out the next step in my publishing endeavors. Stay tuned to this blog as I will be posting some back stories that appeared in Rural Route Today and also whatever news emerges as "the way!"
Crow medicine surrounds me this winter. So, changes are underway and will set me on a new path for the next leg of the future!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Introducing Forest N Farm

Here is the NEW logo design for the Rural Route Today publication
Forest N Farm. (I keep wanting to say "Farm N Forest" 
and it rolls off the tongue a little better but Forest N Farm 
is where it's at! Hope you like it... 
feedback is always appreciated.
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please email

New Leadership Challenges Vermont to Change 

  by Robin Reid

In the weeks since Vermont’s new Governor Peter Shumlin was inaugurated, he has made bold pronouncements about implementing a single payer system for healthcare, creating new jobs and balancing the budget. The Gov is inspired by the challenge to lead the nation and be the first to achieve new levels of public welfare. But all the enthusiasm does not come without its knocks.

Although Gov. Shumlin has assembled an impressive array of new commissioners who appear to be equally enthusiastic about his daring plans, there are complaints that salary increases for his top administration are not in keeping with continued cuts of and a hiring freeze on state employees. These are exciting times for those on the top of the wave of change but there are many Vermonters struggling to make ends meet. Cautionary tales tell us that change is good but too much too soon has been known to tip the scales of reality out of balance.

At the Vermont Farm Show Dairy Banquet, farmers are honored for their high quality milk and exceptional farming practices.  Pictured at right is Governor Peter Shumlin congratulating members of the Longway Family Farm of Swanton, awarded the 2010 Vermont Dairy Farm of the Year. For the seventh year running, the Meyer Family Farm of Hardwick received the award for the highest quality milk. Congrats!

The Vermont DC delegation held a press conference recently to protest President Obama’s cuts to north country fuel assistance. The buzz is all about the inequity of continuing the tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans while balancing the budget on the backs of the working poor and those on fixed incomes. Senator Sanders has assembled a book that documents the plights of many individuals who have suffered from effects of the recession and the high price of fuel and groceries, etc. You can find “Struggling Through the Recession - Letters from Vermont” at It’s prudent to recognize that there are many among us who may need support now more than ever.

Also up for change is Rural Route Today. For over five years, we have produced this small community-based paper by virtue of a bootstrap and a certain amount of skill.  At this time, I would like to introduce you to the concept of Forest N Farm and we have devised a new masthead (MY February print MISTAKE! I think this word should be LEADER or LOGO?) to catch your attention! Your comments and suggetions are most welcome and please consider advertising your business here. 

As you may know, Vermont relies on its working landscape not only for our way of life but ir ua an essential part of the state’s economy. We can’t afford to go the way of southern New England so pony up and get ready for the ride. We can secure a great future for our beautiful landscape but only if we work together. Your support is greatly appreciated and needed at this time.

Here's the latest feature by Laura Cahners-Ford. She's been writing some great pieces about local agricultural endeavors and having fun roaming the countryside while she's at it! Thanks, Laura!

Be sure to grab a copy at your local market or store.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Council For Rural Development and Vermont's Working Landscape

Summit Emphasizes Value of Working Landscape  

  by Robin Reid

republished from Rural Route Today - December 19, 2010 edition

The Vermont Council on Rural Develpement has put together a five-point platform to protect and enhance Vermont’s working landscape. Support is building for its implementation.

• Build a Major Campaign to Celebrate the Distinctiveness of 

     the Working Landscape that is Vermont

• Target Strategic Investment through a Vermont Agriculture 

     and Forest Products Development Corporation

• Designate and Support “Working Lands”

• Develop Tax Revenue to Support Working Landscape 

     Enterprise Development and Conservation

• Build a State Planning Office and Activate the 

     Development Cabinet

The gathering took place at the Vermont State House in Montpelier on December 10, 2010

Paul Costello, Executive Director of the council remarked that “rural areas are not just empty land that hasn’t been developed yet. It’s serving a function in balance to the developed areas of the country. We need to change our attitude to one of balance and hold onto something that other places have lost.” 

The public is beginning to understand there is a real crisis on the farm but the summit exposed the unheralded crisis of the forest industries. Vermont’s forest makes up most of its open space areas. A sense of entrepreneurial opportunity exists in the food system and is identified by the rapid growth of direct sales in Vermont. There is an opportunity to make a concerted campaign to change market conditions and make Vermont a leader in the local food movement and raise the flag nationally in agricultural and natural resources innovation. By definition, the working landscape must include farm AND forest. The working landscape is also recognized as a lynchpin to Vermont’s tourist industry

The summit featured opening remarks by Speaker of the House Shap Smith who was raised on a working sheep farm in Vermont, Chuck Ross who serves as Senator Leahy’s top aide (and is poised to take the reins from Roger Allbee as the next Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets) and Governor elect Peter Shumlin. All emphasized the need for change and innovation to maintain the economic vitality of Vermont’s working landscape. 

Presenting on the panels were policy makers, agricultural entrepreneurs and leaders in the forest products industry. The summit wrapped up with facilitated sessions that sought pragmatic suggestions to advance the goals of the action plan. Anyone can support this initiative and be part of the solution. By the end of the day, over 100 people signed on to the partnership and you can, too. Go to and click the woodpile at the right of the screen to join in.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Here is the Root Center and Home Garden today!

and a photo I really like of our farm's dairy cows after milking one summer morning.

AND... here is the historic moment when CEOs of Green Mountain Power, Central Vermont Power and Hydro-Quebec signed a 26-year-lease for Vermont to receive 225 megawatts of energy from Quebec who says 98% of their energy generation comes from Hyrdo Power... This $2 billion is the largest in the history of Vermont.

left: David Coriell (Gov. Douglas staff), Thierry Vandal, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hydro-Québec, Québec Premier Jean Charest, CVPS President Bob Young, Vermont Governor Jim Douglas and Green Mountain Power President Mary Powell.
The Charlotte garden where the Root Center ( has planted a lot of lettuce, tomatoes, kale, squashes and other greens. This was back in June and you should see the garden now! This posting is being made in August... way overdue. Summer has just gone by SO quickly... and it's been HOT this year! This garden today is covered over with veggies and weeds. It looks so nice and clean in this photo!

Slow Money National Gathering Held at Shelburne Farms

by Robin Reid

The two-day Slow Money conference sold out with over 600 people in attendance from all over the USA and beyond. Opening Wednesday night at the Flynn Theater with an eTown taping featuring Steve Earl and Allison Moorer, the Slow Money gathering gained momentum for the events and speakers scheduled over the next two days. The roster was brimming with visionaries and social pioneers offering inspiration and practical economic solutions for the ill treatment humankind has afforded the earth.

Vermont and Shelburne Farms is perfectly suited to the mission of this gathering. The spectacular setting surrounding the Coach Barn helped foster the “can do” attitude that prevailed among the speakers. Larger than life posters of Slow Money founding members and like minded entrepreneurs festooned the area. A large tent was erected on the Homestead Lawn and this was where the presentations were made.

The morning session featured Bill McKibben of Middlebury repute. He is the founder of and author of the newly published Eaarth. Bill will be the keynote speaker this year at Solarfest in Tinmouth, Vermont on Saturday, July 17. Another initiative, the Soil Trust, was also addressed in the morning session by several speakers including Woody Tasch, the founder of Slow Money.

After lunch, Joel Salatin presented his talk on “Scaling Up Without Selling Your Soul.” Joel become known nationwide after his appearance in the film Food, Inc. He outlined his principles of success and sustainability and described the symbiotic model of Polyface Farm. The Salatin family farm has four generations currently living and working on the premises. Following their ethics based contrarian business model they have seen sales grow to $2 million dollars. Their products are sold to a market area that extends no further than four hours from the source—their farm. Visitors are always welcome. For more information check

A dense and very wet storm passed through in the afternoon that was fortuitously devoid of electricity. However, panels were put up on the lake side of the tent and wind gusts were somewhat threatening. After the breakout sessions, Gary Hirschberg, CEO of Stonyfield Farm, shared his powerful vision of socially responsible food production on the large scale. He was followed by Will Raap of Gardner’s Supply, Tom Stearns of High Mowing Seeds and Eliot Coleman of Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine who each provided their real life examples of how new business models that put ethics before traditional economic principals can succeed. The message was clear that swift action is needed to heal the earth and move into the next era of sustainability and survival.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

RAW MILK... if you can find it....

Just finished the May 12 Rural Route Today... here is page one!

Rural Route Today and
The Root Center

Team Up for the Gardening Season

by Robin Reid

News that an organization has been formed to provide an “endless harvest” to those in need and teach people how to maintain sustainable, ecologically sound methods of growing fresh produce year round is circulating in the Champlain Valley. A group of young visionaries has formed The Root Center, a registered 501c3 in the State of Vermont and their following is growing.

Executive Director Drew Burns is excited to see this project moving forward to a hands on stage. He has been working on the formative stages for three years and now with the assistance of Treasurer Robin Schulte, most of the paperwork required for national nonprofit status has been completed. Volunteers are ready to get to work in several plots that local residents have donated for The Root Center to use—extra rows in their gardens or a fallow area in their yards.

One such location is the north shoulder of Barber Hill in Charlotte where the Rural Route Today garden was expanded in order to share adequate space with The Root Center. Despite the chilly and wet weather, Schulte and another Root Center supporter, Jeremy Hammond, managed to construct the “trademark” geodisic dome at the end of the garden. The dome will house vegetable starts and can also be used to extend the growing season.

For more information on The Root Center, visit On Thursday, May 27 you can support The Root Center while enjoying a lovely afternoon at the Shelburne Vineyard. Lowell Thompson will provide entertainment from 5-7 pm. 10% of all wine sales will benefit The Root Center.

There are other good stories... I especially like the one about the Donegan Family Farm and their new raw milk sales operation... maybe I'll post that later... if you're in the area, I hope you can find a copy to read!!!