Monday, February 25, 2008

Shelburne Eyes Bike Path Funding

Published: Monday, February 25, 2008
By Lauren Ober
Burlington Free Press

SHELBURNE -- Voters in Shelburne will have a lot to think about come Town Meeting Day.

Not only will people finally get to make their choice in the presidential primary, but they will also help decide how Shelburne continues to develop as a community. In addition to the town budget and the school budget, voters are asked to make a decision about a $1.1 million bond for the construction of recreational paths, bike lanes and new sidewalks...

Over the years, the Shelburne Bike and Pedestrian Path Committee, chaired by Rob Donahue, has worked to create a network of recreational paths so cyclists and others have safe routes to travel. This year, the committee would like to see the network extended to Webster Road to accommodate children who bike the route to school. It would also like to see sidewalks built or extended on Harbor and Mount Philo roads, and bike lanes painted on both sides of Spear Street from Irish Hill Road to the Shelburne/South Burlington town line.

Many in the town are concerned about the $1.1 million price tag attached to this project, especially because the town is carrying its largest debt load. Haag says this article is controversial because it involves such a large amount of money and there is a feeling not everyone in the town will benefit from the proposed improvements.

For Donahue and the other members of the committee, the safety of town residents, especially children, is worth the $1.1 million. About 22 percent of children in Shelburne live off of Webster Road, Donahue said, and that makes it a "considerable feeder road." Donahue says many more children are riding their bikes to school in clement weather and are often forced to ride in the street.

"This is a major safety issue. Let's get the kids out of the street," Donahue said.

The committee has secured $300,000 in federal funding for the proposed work, that includes easements and construction of the path, sidewalks and lanes. Donahue also anticipates another $160,000 in grants coming soon and says the committee has done everything possible to lower the cost for the town.

Donahue said he is "cautiously optimistic" that voters will see the value of the bike path and sidewalk construction, especially because it is part of the approved town comprehensive plan.
Contact Lauren Ober at 660-1868 or

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Vehicle hits, injures two pedestrians

February 20, 2008
Burlington Free Press
News Brief

ESSEX JUNCTION - Two unidentified pedestrians were taken to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington with "moderate injuries" after they were struck by a car on Locust Lane about 10:30pm Monday, Essex police said.

The accident, which was reported through a 911 call, is under investigation, police said.

Electric-powered for now, bike ferry's propulsion prompts big ideas

Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2008
By Joel Banner Baird
Free Press Staff Writer

A deadline and the bottom line shaped the new, electric propulsion system for the Colchester-South Hero bike ferry last week.

The changes will be subtle.

Don't look for a wind turbine tower or a solar array along the Island Line causeway -- not this year. But Local Motion's 30-foot pontoon boat that plies the 200-foot gap for summer trail traffic will lose its gas outboard motor and gain energy efficiency.

Faced with a $10,000 budget and a looming graduation from the University of Vermont's College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, five seniors confirmed a conservative and conservation-minded design. It features a hybrid power train field-tested by modern locomotives: a diesel generator coupled to electric motors.

The pontoon ferry's 400-pound generator will run on biodiesel, a renewable, plant-derived fuel that the students defined as an interim solution toward even cleaner technologies.

"It's a plug-and-play system," said Justin White, 22, of Danville, at Thursday's meeting of his Senior Experience in Engineering Design (SEED) team. "When something better comes along, we'll lose the generator."

The boat's payload will include a bank of batteries, storing and regulating the onboard generator's output.

Marco Maffeo-Robinson, 21, of Marblehead, Mass., said the system, far from elegant, was nonetheless "future-proof" against advances in power generation.

"You can charge batteries made in the '60s with anything we've got now, or what turns up years from now," he said. "We really want this to be part of a broader education about energy. We want people to talk it up and pay it forward."

The SEED team's design challenge began as a purely academic exercise. Their notes and drawings document brain-storming sessions where nothing was ruled out: a submersible bridge, a tunnel, an elevated cable car, a lighter-than-air balloon.

They even imagined kiosks at each side of the Cut, where tourists could mount pedal-powered generators, burn off some extra steam, and trickle-charge another bank of batteries.

Fanciful ideas should be preserved on the back burner, said Brian Costello, a Local Motion planner for the Island Line Trail who advises the SEED team. He even suggested embellishments to the pedal-power kiosks: a video-game-style interface for the cyclists, one that would display record-breaking sessions at the dynamo.

Friday, that brainstorm edged closer to reality. Costello announced that Windstream Power of Charlotte had donated a human-powered generator to the ferry project, as well as a small wind turbine to mount on the ferry.

Unlike SEED projects sponsored by corporate powerhouses, the bike ferry challenge depends on contributions from small businesses and agencies. Local Motion is contributing $4,000 in cash and staff time out of its operating budget.

Cost-cutting might lead to innovation, and converting the red, wheeled generator to run straight biodiesel will almost certainly void its warranty, said professor Michael Rosen, the team's faculty mentor.

"It shouldn't be a problem," he said. "Engineers routinely violate warranties to push the boundaries of design."

The students seemed content with the compromise they'd reached between endless possibilities and stark spending guidelines. Utility had trumped whimsy.

"Everybody wants to save the Earth, but nobody can afford to do it all at once," Maffeo-Robinson said. "Sure, people can construct a super-efficient house. But what are they willing to do to make it happen -- take out a loan?"

He suggested the team get in touch before the next meeting to discuss further design refinements. They scheduled a conference call.

Contact Joel Banner Baird at 660-1843 or

After getting off the Local Motion bicycle ferry, Susan Hazel of Perkasie, Penn walks up the dock to get back on the bike path on the causeway in S. Hero Sunday Aug. 8, 2004. This was the first weekend the demonstration bike ferry carried bikers across a small open stretch of the causeway connecting the bike trail from Colchester to S. Hero. Despite sporadic showers this weekend, the ferry carried approximately 600 bikers.
Free Press file photo

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Parents and kids find balance in greener lifestyles

Monday, February 11, 2008
USA Today
By Leanne Italie
Associated Press Writer

Marika Martin is a vegetarian. So is her husband, Charles Gonzalez, who rides his bicycle to work every day in New York City traffic, rain or shine.

The couple cares deeply about the environment, but if you ask their kids, 12-year-old Sinika and 8-year-old Soren, it's sometimes not deeply enough.

"My hopeless mother is obsessed with plastic bags," said Soren, a third-grader and huge fan of Al Gore's global warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."

"A lot of plastic can't be recycled," chimed in his sister, who's in the seventh grade. "The turtles can get suffocated and it can go into the water. My dad gave her a cloth bag but she doesn't use it. Plastic drives me nuts!"

Say hello to Generation Green. They're young, well-researched and mad as heck — inspired by an outpouring of movies, TV shows, books, websites and "green classes" at school. They've been learning how to save the planet since toddlerhood, and they're taking on their parents to do more, do better.

While some parents fret that the pop culture tidal wave amounts to environmental indoctrination, others are looking for ways to accommodate their kids — and compromise when the price tag or the convenience factor come into play.

"I get it, I get it, I'm a bag lady," Martin said of her plastic-wrapped groceries. "But I'm always doing spontaneous shopping so it's hard. It isn't always feasible. Of course it's making me feel guilty. I know I shouldn't use them but in everyday living it's hard."

Tiffany Bluemle in Burlington, Vt., knows exactly how she feels. She and her partner, Elizabeth Shayne, drive an environmentally friendly hybrid and live a generally green lifestyle. When their 8-year-old son, Will, wanted a "global warming" birthday party earlier this year, they treated him to a cake decorated as Earth, a bike repair workshop for his guests and a piInata in the shape of a gas-guzzling Hummer that partygoers beat to the ground.

"He's adamant that I drive 55 but I'm naturally a speedster," Bluemle said. "We have a bumper sticker on the car saying '55 slows down global warming.' It's killing me." [LM comment: Sticker designed by Local Motion member Leah Wallace]

Will has begged his parents to buy a new dishwasher to cut down on energy use. He imagines redesigning their house with solar and wind power and a passthrough of used kitchen sink water to flush toilets. Earth, he said, "is a lot of animals' home. If a lot of animals become extinct it would be hard for us to live."

Bluemle shares her young eco-warrior's passion but said she's careful not to over-promise while encouraging him to dream big.

"I want to make good on any pledges that I make," she said. "At this point it's pretty doable, yet we don't use a renewable form of energy to power the house. Very frankly, we don't have the money."

Cycling advocates seek bills' passage

Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2008
By Lauren Ober
Burlington Free Press Staff Writer

Last February, Ted Auch decided to take his bike for a spin. No matter that the weather was brutal and probably not the best for cycling; Auch wanted to go for a ride.

As he headed south on South Winooski Avenue in the right-hand lane, Auch was T-boned by a vehicle heading north that was trying to make a left turn onto Cherry Street. Auch ended up flying over the car's hood and came to rest on the ground next to his bicycle, which was rendered unrideable by the accident.

Auch was not seriously injured, but he got the driver's contact information and was later in touch about the damage to his bike and the cost of his emergency room visit. Auch, a 31-year-old doctoral student at the University of Vermont, had been obeying the rules of the road, he claimed, and he had the right of way. The driver, he contended, should have yielded to him.

The driver of the vehicle refused to pay the $1,100 in damages Auch was asking for. Auch took the driver to small claims court and won twice that amount. The judge in the case decided, despite the testimony of the driver and the witnesses she brought, that Auch was in the right.

The driver's reluctance to acknowledge fault was in part a result of a misunderstanding of the law governing bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles on the roads, Auch said.

"If I was in a car, she would be paying my insurance," Auch said.

The 3-foot law

Three bills recently introduced in the Legislature seek to address bicycle safety in Vermont and education for the driving public.

The 3-foot law, as written in H.578 and S.275, requires that the operator of a motor vehicle leave at least a 3-foot buffer when passing a cyclist. The House version of the bill also makes accommodations for cyclists who are overtaking and passing other bikes, making left turns or proceeding straight through an intersection.

Eight states have similar laws and eight more are working on bills to protect cyclists from cars and vice versa. Wisconsin has had a 3-foot law since 1973. Another piece of legislation, H.577, known as the "vulnerable users" bill, is a general pedestrian law aimed at expanding motor vehicle statutes to address negligent driving.

Advocates of the legislation say the laws are needed to make Vermont's roads safer for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists alike. Many in the Legislature and law enforcement are skeptical of the bills' enforceability.

After a hearing before the Senate Transportation Committee, legislators recommended that advocates consult with the law enforcement community on language that would make the bills more practical and easily applied. Sen. Phil Scott, R-Washington, an avid cyclist, said he could not endorse such laws that were nearly impossible to enforce.
Clear rules needed

With more and more bikes on the road, advocates such as Nancy Schulz of the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition say legislation aimed at protecting cyclists and educating the public are essential.

Schulz says this legislation will provide "really firm ground to stand on" in the event that a cyclist is injured or killed in an accident with a motor vehicle.

"Now there's no black-and-white answer as to what the outcome will be if a motorist hits and kills a cyclist. There's no sense of quid pro quo," Schulz said. "We'd like a predictable outcome. That's the goal of the law."

No statistics are available on the number of cyclists who have been hit and injured by motor vehicles in Vermont because most go unreported. The bicycle-pedestrian advocacy group Local Motion reports that between 2001 and 2005 in Vermont, bicycle-pedestrian fatalities accounted for 4 to 11 percent of all traffic deaths.

Advocates insist that bicycles have the right to be on the road, but with that right comes the responsibility to uphold the law. Schulz acknowledges that some cyclists are not familiar with the rules of the road, or do not abide by them, and are occasionally responsible for accidents with motor vehicles.

Although members of the law enforcement community support the intentions of the bills, says Lt. John Flannigan of the Vermont State Police, they question whether the state needs another law that is difficult, if not impossible, to enforce. Short of having a police officer on every corner, it would be very difficult to gauge the distance a car is from a cyclist, Flannigan said.

"You don't want to pass anything that doesn't have any teeth," Flannigan said.

Local advocates would like to see the bills pass, but acknowledge that much of the legislation is aimed at reducing hostilities between drivers and cyclists and increasing education about proper road conduct, as well as providing a level of predictability for cyclists after an accident.

These bills are among the many strategies to make Vermont roads safer, but they're not the silver bullet, said Chapin Spencer, executive director of Local Motion.

"Once you have these laws in place, you can promote their existence," Spencer said. "We have to ask how we can do a better job educating people and enforcing the rules of the road."

For cyclist Auch, the legislation makes good sense. Had it been in place at the time of his accident, he would not have had to fight to exact compensation from the driver who hit him. Auch said he would like to see the laws regarding cyclists more aggressively taught when people are taking driving tests.

"When kids are taking their driving tests ask 'Do you know what rights cyclists have?' " Auch said. "That would be amazing."

Contact Lauren Ober at 660-1868 or lober@bfp.burlingtonfreepress .com

Causeway's cause gets state aid boost

Published: Monday, February 11, 2008
By Joel Banner Baird
Burlington Free Press Staff Writer

A bridge once shouldered Montreal-bound trains across the cut in the marble causeway linking Colchester with South Hero. With the rails long gone, hikers and bicyclists must leapfrog the 200-foot gap, courtesy of a six-passenger pontoon ferry -- but only in August, only on weekends, and only when the strong south winds abate.

A $300,000 state grant, awarded in January to the Burlington-based nonprofit group Local Motion, will help pay for upgrades to make crossing the cut a safer and more consistent passage, said Brian Costello, coordinator of the advocacy group Island Line Trail last week .

"The main improvement will be wave attenuators -- or floating breakwaters," he said. "In the average season we've had to close down the ferry for a day because of high winds."

Open to non-motorized traffic, the trail runs 12 miles north from the Burlington waterfront. Its final, intact leg, the town of Colchester's Causeway Park, extends as a thin peninsula 3 miles into Lake Champlain. The Vermont Agency of Transportation's recent enhancement grant will cover about one-third of the construction costs of the project, Costello said.

The fully engineered plan also calls for fishing platforms, overlooks and wider turnarounds for maintenance and emergency vehicles.

If Local Motion's capital fund drive raises the money, the project could be completed by mid-2009 -- in time for the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain's first visit to the lake, which until that time was known as BitawbagokCauseway and effect

Costello said escalating public interest in a Burlington-to-Montreal recreational trail prompted plans for improved ferry service. The vision is not new.

From the inauguration of service on the Rutland-Canadian Line in 1899 until the last passenger train ran in 1955, rail-bound Vermonters and Quebeckers popularized the Champlain Islands as holiday destinations.

Truck traffic replaced the line's freight service in 1961; in 1963 the state bought the entire right-of-way.

Among the possibilities in a 1965 study commissioned by then-Gov. Philip Hoff: a "string of pearls" series of parks, connected by the old rail route.

Private speculation and public skepticism torpedoed the plan, and the uninterrupted corridor was auctioned off, piecemeal.

Two years ago, a 130-page study commissioned by the Champlain Islands Chamber of Commerce and the Island Line Steering Committee outlined, mile-by-mile, several alternatives to a strictly rails-to-trails approach.

The study, which includes options for equestrian and snowmobile riders, suggests that easier access to Quebec's "Route Verte" trail network would likely bring significant economic benefits.

Playing together

A diversity of interests and priorities fueled -- and still fuel -- committee discussions.

Representatives from the towns of Colchester and South Hero take part, as do business leaders, Local Motion staff and technicians from the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.

Bonnie Waninger, a steering committee member and assistant director of the St. Albans-based Northwest Regional Planning Commission, said sharing the waterway with recreational boaters from nearby Malletts Bay has prompted few disagreements.

More challenging, she said, was making the islands' narrow roads, for decades dominated by motorists, more welcoming for walkers and cyclists.

There's hope for the first few miles they'll encounter in South Hero. Don Smallwood, the town's zoning administrator, said a federally funded project is under way to widen South Street from Allen Point to South Hero Village.

A 3-foot multipurpose zone along the road will accommodate children walking to school, Smallwood said, adding that the project's role as a region-wide recreation corridor takes back seat to local needs.

"We designed this with local needs in mind," he said. "It's all about safety."

Linear thinking

Although the town line between South Hero and Colchester bisects the Island Line trail, the latter town owns the causeway's surface all the way to The Cut.

That's a mixed blessing for Glen Cuttitta, Colchester's director of parks and recreation. This spring, before most causeway mavens flock to the marble trail, he'll oversee resurfacing and drainage projects along the town's linear park.

"The challenge is high water and erosion," Cuttitta said. This place is subject to Mother Nature 12 months a year, out in the middle of the lake. "It's beautiful and we're proud of it," he added. "It's becoming a destination."

Contact Joel Banner Baird at 660-1843 or

Learn more

Lake Champlain Bikeways:
Local Motion:
Island Line history:
Quebec's Route Verte:

If you go

WHAT: The Island Line Steering Committee, a group of landowners, nonprofits and municipal leaders, will discuss transportation innovations and alternatives in the Champlain Islands. The public is invited.
WHEN: 7 p.m., Feb. 21
WHERE: Ed Weed Fish Culture Station (Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department hatchery), Vermont 314, Grand Isle; across from ferry landing.
MORE INFORMATION: Contact the Northwest Regional Planning Authority at 524-5958

Grant to help with Vt. 116 work

Published: Thursday, February 7, 2008
By Dorothy Pellett
Burlington Free Press Correspondent

Hinesburg recently won a $240,000 Vermont Agency of Transportation Enhancement Grant.

The grant will provide nearly half the cost of a planned corridor improvement project on the west side of Vermont 116, between Charlotte Road and Hinesburg Community School. A $200,000 Safe Routes to School infrastructure grant, also from the Agency of Transportation, was approved in October.

The project consists of sidewalks, curbing, on-street parking, landscaping and a crosswalk at Charlotte Road.

Hinesburg participated last year in the Safe Routes to School program, coordinated by resident Pam Mathews.

"This will provide the missing link in the village, a critical part of the sidewalk network," Town Administrator Jeanne Wilson said.

Design, engineering and permitting will get under way this year with construction being completed in late 2009, Wilson said. By that time, work at the intersection of Silver Street and Vermont 116 also is expected to be finished.

The town will provide matching funds of about $100,000, or 20 percent of the total project cost of over $500,000, with part coming from reserve funds for the next two fiscal years.

Ice regatta beckons to bicyclists

Published: Friday, February 8, 2008

By Phyl Newbeck
Burlington Free Press Correspondent

NORTH HERO -- During the winter, most bicycle racers content themselves with spinning in place indoors. However, Saturday, aspiring Lance Armstrongs will have the opportunity to race on the frozen surface of City Bay in North Hero.

The Frozen Chosen Regatta is the first such race in the area and, quite possibly, said Brian Costello of Local Motion, the first in Vermont. He's hoping the event will turn into an annual meet. Robert Camp of Hero's Welcome in North Hero is in charge of logistics. He is planning several events beginning at 10 a.m.

The Frozen Chosen Regatta will feature a NASCAR-style event that Camp refers to as NASKATE. That race will feature several laps around the oval that Camp will plow on City Bay.

There will also be a drag race from a standing start in which contestants travel a fixed distance of at least 200 yards.

The third event will be a speed trial. Contestants will get a running start, and be timed for their speed over several hundred feet on a set part of the course. Racers will start sequentially, and the fastest time wins. Camp says that in addition to prizes for the winners of the various events, there will be prizes, including for the coolest design and the oddest design.

Recognizing that this is a new event for Vermont and that not everyone will have the time to build a custom bike, Costello says the rules will be broadened. Entrants pushing sleds with studded boots will also be allowed, as will push scooters.

Camp and Frank Edmonds of South Alburgh took Camp's 21-speed bicycle and turned it upside down and backward. First, they removed the handlebars, front tire, front fork and seat. They welded a metal support on the new back of the bike onto which they attached blades fashioned from angle irons. The rear (now front) tire and blades are the three points of contact with the ice.

Camp said that anything goes for this first Vermont Frozen Chosen Regatta. As long as the vehicle has neither a motor nor a sail, it can be raced.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

For The Love Of The Land

Published: Friday, February 1, 2008
By Michelle Edelbaum
Burlington Free Press Staff Writer

BARRE -- Pierre Couture knows the terrain and history of the 1,200 acres around his East Barre home as well as he remembers his childhood in the heart of Vermont's granite country.

Couture, 52, is the owner of Millstone Hill, a recreation center, lodge and bed-and-breakfast, which offers biking, hiking, walking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. He opened the facilitythree years ago. The center has expanded from 15 miles to 65 miles of trails and Couture is working to make it the site of a cultural heritage trail. This weekend, Millstone Hill is the hub for community and outdoor recreation activities associated with the second annual Barre Winterfest.

At the peak of the granite boom, more than 70 independent quarries were in operation in Barre, said Couture, who has dedicated much of his time to learning about the area and industry's history.

Today only two quarries surrounding Millstone Hill are active, but Couture's youthful memories of swimming in quarries with his four siblings and exploring the stone strewn landscape are vivid.

"It was our neighborhood playground," he said. "In the summer we'd go swimming and fishing and in the winter ice skating."

His love for the land and deep interest in the history of the area spurred him to open Millstone Hill.

"It's really that aspect of growing up in the quarries that has driven me to keep them open for recreational purposes," said Couture, as he walked Millstone Hill's trails on a recent weekday.

Couture grew up on a farm less than a mile from his current residence next to Millstone's touring center. His father ran a dairy farm and milked cows from 4 to 7 a.m. before working an eight-hour day at the granite quarries and then milking again until 8 p.m. Twenty-six years ago, Couture bought the 125-acre family homestead where his mother still lives and has since purchased 225 acres of adjoining land with the idea of one day opening a recreation center.

The acreage contains six abandoned quarries, untold numbers of granite waste piles and a residence he turned into a bed-and-breakfast. Couture began cutting trails on the land for his own use and satisfaction.

Many are bordered by granite waste; in some areas neat rectangular blocks are stacked to form high walls, in others areas random sized chunks are haphazardly piled on top of one another to create a mound of protruding granite limbs. The trails range from wide former railroad beds to tight routes through wooded terrain and pass along corridors with stunning mountain vistas or up-close views of gaping former quarries.

Friends and family questioned Couture's desire to own property they saw as a "wasteland," he said. He believed the area could be vibrant again.

"It's the town's history, and it should be part of its future, too," he said.

A stab at opening the land to recreational use in the early 1990s revealed the potential for a vibrant recreational center, but the operation needed lodging to anchor it. At the time he owned Whimsicality, a Vermont gift business, but in 2005 he made the leap.

"I had spent 20 plus years in the gift business, and this is what I dreamed of doing since I was 20 years old," he said.

In addition to his acreage, Rock of Ages gave Couture permission to develop a trail network on almost 1,000 acres of their adjoining land. While Couture enjoys the activities the trails afford him -- hiking and skiing -- he spends most of his time building and maintaining trails with the help of the nonprofit organization he founded, Millstone Trails Association. Neighbors have volunteered their land for trails, but Couture said the association needs to be able to maintain existing trails before it can expand.

He's modeled Millstone Hill and the nonprofit organization off East Burke's Kingdom Trails Association. Tim Tierney, executive director of Kingdom Trails Association, said the group is happy to support Couture's efforts to build a sustainable, small trail system and share their 15 years experience in creating more than 100 miles of trails on property from 43 private land owners, the state and town.

"We don't look at it as competition," Tierney said. "It makes northern Vermont more of a mountain bike destination."

Prospects for expansion are strong, and Couture is giving attention to his other passion: history. His vision is to create a cultural heritage trail on the center's network. This designated walking route would take visitors past 36 historic locations marked by signs providing information about the significance of each site.

Highlights include the last remaining wooden derrick, a technology to move blocks of granite, and a towering grout pile that offers a panoramic lookout with views of the Green Mountains in the distance and former quarry land below. Another marker would provide information about the railroad tracks that ran along the trails, noting the importance of trains to the success of the granite industry.

An initial grant application to fund the bright yellow signage was awarded, but then budgeting constraints eliminated available money. Couture is pursuing other ways to get the cultural heritage trail funded.

"I'm doing something in this part of Vermont that hasn't been done before, with the lodging and recreation," Couture said. "At one point, Barre was the most important town in central Vermont. It's all about its past, but can be about the future, too. ... I see it continuing to grow."

Grand Islanders celebrate ice-bound, wintry pursuits

Published: Sunday, February 3, 2008
By Joel Banner Baird
Burlington Free Press Staff Writer

[Excerpts] NORTH HERO -- City Bay's ice cap has been known to safely support houses. On Saturday afternoon, it hosted, off and on, more than 100 Grand Islanders, mainlanders, dogs and improvised conveyances -- in a giddy observance of mid-winter.

In weather that would prompt many New Englanders to cozy up inside with a good book, the first day of the Great Ice in Grand Isle celebration featured ice fishing, skating, a bonfire and barbecue.

Prudent pedestrians wore crampons or blades. The bicyclists sported studs. Nearly everyone wore gloves, and they thudded in applause when trophies were awarded near sundown for the ice fishing derby...

Brian Costello of Colchester spent most of the afternoon with other volunteer adults, assembling a clear-plastic and wood-ribbed warming hut. He said he spends a lot of time in these parts in the summer, overseeing bike trails for Burlington-based nonprofit Local Motion.

"But we want people to know there's skating here," he said. "We want people to tap into this area's inherent assets, to capitalize on what we have here. And what we have here is acres and acres of fabulous ice..."

Contact Joel Banner Baird at 660-1843 or

Friday, February 1, 2008

Frozen Assets

Seven Days
Calendar - Weekly Highlights
Wednesday, January 2, 2008

It’s tempting to hunker down indoors when chilly temps set in, but that wintertime coping strategy can lead straight to cabin fever. Two family-friendly events facilitate fresh-air socializing this weekend. Colchester kicks off its 25th annual winter carnival on Friday with an Italian dinner and fireworks, and Saturday brings snowshoeing, sledding, sleigh rides, live music and a mini-midway hosting a caricature artist, crafts and a chili cook-off. North Hero’s month-long “Great Ice in Grand Isle” event series starts with a kids’ ice-fishing derby on one of Lake Champlain’s few iced-over bays, with equipment and how-to advice provided free to first-timers. Take down your Christmas tree and bring it along, sans decorations: Post-derby, the conifers fuel a festive bonfire as part of a cold-weather cookout.

Colchester Winter Carnival, Friday and Saturday, February 1 & 2, various Colchester locations, see calendar listings for times. $4-5. Info, 264-5640.

Kids’ Ice Fishing Derby, Saturday, February 2, City Bay, North Hero, 3-5 p.m. Free. Info, 372-8400.

Christmas Tree Bonfire & Cookout, Saturday, February 2, City Bay, North Hero, 5:30 p.m. $5, bring your tree. Info, 372-8400.

Bicyclist Injured in Milton Accident

Burlington Free Press
Friday, February 1, 2008
News Brief

MILTON -- A 24-year-old man from Winooski was seriously injured Wednesday when his bicycle was struck by a car on U.S. 7, just south of the Milton Diner, Milton Police said.

Timothy Hebert was taken to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington with apparent head injuries. He was listed in critical condition Thursday evening, hospital officials said.

A preliminary investigation has revealed that Hebert, who was traveling north on U.S. 7, was struck by a 1999 Subaru Legacy station wagon driven by Robert Bashaw, 55, of Milton. Police said that Bashaw had also been driving north on U.S. 7 when he hit Hebert about 6p.m. The accident remains under investigation.