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Vermont Transportation Board Gets in Touch with Public at Hearing in Newport

in Newport/News

NEWPORT — The Vermont Transportation Board held a public hearing in Newport Wednesday night at the Gateway Center. About 25 people from the area participated in the hearing, which was a fairly large number, considering that the Boston Red Sox were playing in the World Series at the same time.

The purpose of the hearing was to go over the budget situation that the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) is facing, and to discuss with the community what are our local priorities when it comes to proposed budgeting.

“We only have sixty-five percent of the money we need to do everything that we need to do,” a VTrans Board member said.

With a 35 percent gap in funding, some cuts will need to be made, but the goal was to find out where Vermonters would like to see those cuts made.

“We’re looking for your suggestions on how to fill that gap,” he went on to say.

Throughout the hearing, questions were asked of the participants. One such question was how the state should deal with tax revenue loss from an increase in electric vehicles. Since the gasoline tax makes up the largest share of the funding that VTRans receives, they are starting to look ahead toward a day when Vermonters purchase less gasoline.

One of the options on the table, and also the one most disliked by the participants, was a user based fee for electric cars, based on in-state mileage. When asked how that would be calculated, the Vtrans Board discussed a sticker fitted with GPS.

The suggestion was so unanimously opposed, that most participants laughed, making jokes about the NSA.

What to do with the Vermont railway system was another topic of discussion, with VTrans making it clear that even an increase in passengers would not prevent the state from loosing money in keeping them up.

Vermont State Senator Robert Starr addressed the board in the video below:

On a positive note, it looks like Newport will soon see a bus service running from:

Newport > St. Johnsbury > White River Junction

The Vermont Transportation Board also asked participants where would be good locations in the area to place Park and Ride stations. It seems that we will see more of them coming to the area soon.

Newport Area Community Orchestra Tuning Up For Fall Concert

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby Line/Newport

DERBY LINE — Inside the social hall of the First Universalist Parish in Derby Line, the atonal sounds of violinists and cello players warming up, echos off the walls. String bass player Jessica Griffen staggers in under the weight of her instrument. Once the orchestra has set up, music director Ken Michelli stands facing the musicians, ready to lead them into their first score.

NACO 1“Remember to be real secure with the entrances,” Michelli advises.

Over the next hour and a half, the Newport Area Community Orchestra, or NACO, as they are known, will rehearse for their upcoming concert at the Goodrich Memorial Library in Newport.

With Mr. Michelli conducting, the orchestra ran through its repertoire. Although only a rehearsal, members of the orchestra played with intensity, and as the night progressed, Mr. Michelli had a lot to be excited about.

“This might be our best concert yet,” Mr. Michelli said to the group following rehearsal Tuesday night. “It happens every year at about this time, that things really start to click. Each year we continue to improve.”

Not only does the orchestra continue to improve, but they continue to grow as well. In their third season as an ensemble, the number of musicians involved has grown rapidly.

“We started with five members, but now we’re up to about thirty,” Michelli said.

NACO 2As members of the orchestra packed up their instruments, they were noticeably pleased with the way they are playing together. There was a sense of excitement in the room, with members realizing that NACO is maturing into a fine orchestra.

“I’ve been with this orchestra since its inception, and each year it just keeps getting better,” flute player Sue Brassett said.

Marc Semprebon, a horn player from Beebe Plain, expressed his appreciation of having a space like the hall of the First Universalist Parish to rehearse in.

“It’s nice to rehearse in this building because it’s big, and usually much louder than the places we will actually play,” he said. “It’s just a great building.”

Besides performing at various local venues throughout the year, the Newport Area Community Orchestra presents three annual concerts. They play once in the spring, and twice in the fall, with one fall concert done to raise money for the Haskell Opera House.

NACO4NACO’s fall concert at the Goodrich Memorial Library is Saturday, November 9, at 1 p.m. Admission will be free, however, to help support the orchestra’s efforts of bringing classical music to the Northeast Kingdom, a $5 donation at the door is asked.

The group serves the student communities of North Country Union High School, Lake Region Union High School, United Christian Academy, and Stanstead Academy. Students are encouraged to join.

An Afternoon of Learning at the Osher Lecture Series Newport

in Newport/News

The fifth lecture of the Fall 2013 Osher Lecture Series took place Wednesday afternoon inside the Conference Room at the Hebard State Office Building in Newport. The lecture, given by Bob Manning, was titled, “The Neolithic World of Stone: From Gobekli Tepe to Stonehenge.” About 50 people were in attendance.
osher logo

It was a bit like attending a college lecture from one of your favorite professors, which is usually someone who has the ability to entertain, as well as enlighten.

Mr. Manning, an art historian, artist, and retired Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts, is a graduate of Pratt Institute and the University of Hartford. His lecture Wednesday focused on two Neolithic sites, Stonehenge and Gobekli Tepe. Gobekli Tepe, located in Turkey, predates Stonehenge by 6,000 years.

“I’m probably one of the only people left in Vermont still using slide projectors,” Manning joked early on during the presentation.

The sound of the fan cooling the light bulb inside the projector, and the snapping of the slides as they changed over, added to the ambiance of the presentation.

Over the years Mr. Manning has traveled throughout the world visiting ancient stone circles, and many of the slides in his presentation were photographs from his travels. He also projected some of his own drawings, many of which were done on site.

The first part of the lecture focused on the more well known stone circle sites in England and Ireland. A large number people attending the lecture raised their hands when asked if they had visited any of the sites.

When the lecture shifted to exploring the known facts about Gobekli Tepe, Manning, using a quote, brought into context what an incredible feat in human achievement the site represents.

“It’s as if someone had built a 747 in a basement with an X-Acto knife.”

Mr. Manning’s presentation was not only full of images and information on Neolithic stone circles, but a good amount of humor as well.

“Living as long as I have, I have years of witnessing many things, including drawings inside the walls of men’s rooms,” Manning said amusingly while displaying some of the more explicit etchings on the stones of Gobekli Tepe.

In summing up the importance of such sites, Manning returned to another quote about stone circles. They are, “a space set apart to harbor the inner life.”

The Osher Lecture Series brings together a community of adult learners who enjoy engaging discussions on a range of topics. The lectures seek to engage the minds and stimulate the senses.

The next event in the series will take place Wednesday, October 30, at 1 p.m. The lecture, “The Best of Broadway and Beyond-Right in Your Own Backyard,” will be given by Lynn Leimer.

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