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VSO returning to its roots in Woodstock for holiday concert

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Killington World Cup foundations raises $650K

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New podcast puts student literacy at the forefront

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Bentley A. Rodgers

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Trees and Seeds accepting volunteers for service trip to Malawi

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Holiday Happenings coming up in Brownsville

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Former stars, friends reconnect at alumni hockey games

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Patricia Jo (White) Alden

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At 88, Norm Frates Sr. has been a fixture serving the community for over five decades

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Nelson Lee Chamberlin

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News

New podcast puts student literacy at the forefront

Windsor Central Supervisory Union’s (WCSU) new Library Media Specialist, Joyce Yoo Babbitt, is elevating the voices of Woodstock’s youngest readers in her local literacy podcast, “1-2-3 Ready! Read! Review!” With eleven episodes to date, the podcast highlights commentary from more than thirty students on close to as many books. The interviews range from the adorable musings of Pre-K students like Beau Sanderson about their favorite foods, “When I was little I didn’t like pickles… because they were too pickley!” to pithy book reviews from 6th graders like Beatrice Zoboro who recommends “The Warriors” by Erin Hunter: “These books are really great and I think you should read them because they’re really detailed and deep.” 

Babbitt wants the podcast to be a resource for students and their families to help them both find new books and spark their own discussions on reading. In an interview last week she said, “I think we can play a small part in increasing reading achievements and digital literacy. Yet the bigger picture is to create an encouraging culture of lifelong learning, fostered through reading and engaging in conversation about books.”

Read more in the December 1 edition of the Vermont Standard.

Trees and Seeds accepting volunteers for service trip to Malawi

The Woodstock-based non-profit Trees and Seeds is inviting volunteers of all ages to become a part of the fight against food insecurity with its trip to Malawi in July 2023. For 18 days, volunteers will work with local villages in the Southeast African nation on various joint efforts in agricultural, botanical, education, and health projects, adhering to the group’s mission statement of elevating lives through developing improved and sustainable food security. 

“Volunteers and travelers will achieve a sense of community while working alongside villages, and will help the lives of those less fortunate, even in the simplest ways,” said Paitra Martin, a board member with Trees and Seeds. 

This will be the second mission to Malawi by the organization, and volunteers will build off the initial trip in 2019 to focus on using new technology to improve local agricultural security. 

Read more in the December 1 edition of the Vermont Standard.

Holiday Happenings coming up in Brownsville

Bronwsville’s Holiday Happenings will take place this Saturday and Sunday, as well as on Christmas Eve.

Hosted by the Brownville Community Church and the community, festivities will include the Christmas Bazaar with luncheon and music, the annual tree lighting, a Christmas concert and carols, a live nativity Christmas pageant and a candlelight Christmas Eve service. Various committees of the Brownsville Community Church and the community will host several festive and traditional Christmas events. 

Read more in the December 1 edition of the Vermont Standard.

Features

VSO returning to its roots in Woodstock for holiday concert

The Vermont Symphony Orchestra (VSO) will bring the holidays and the spirit of Vermont to its birthplace with a performance at Woodstock Town Hall Theatre on Dec. 14. VSO will be performing a holiday-themed Brass Quintet and Counterpoint, conducted by Nathaniel G. Lew. The annual concert will feature five brass instrumentalists and a 12-person chorus performing English folk and traditional holiday songs, as well as pieces by composers such as Irving Berlin, Vermont composer Gwyneth Van Anden Walker, and a performance of “Christmas Time is Here” from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” 

The VSO has deep roots in Woodstock, having been founded in the town in 1934 by violinist Alan Carter. Carter moved to town with his wife Barbara, a Woodstock native. Carter brought with him the small Cremona String Orchestra he put together in New York 11 years prior to his arrival in Vermont, and often held concerts in a converted barn that was made into a makeshift auditorium. There he transformed the Cremona Orchestra into the grassroots VSO, whose first musicians were non-professional instrumentalists that came from a variety of working-class jobs. 

Read more in the December 1 edition of the Vermont Standard.

At 88, Norm Frates Sr. has been a fixture serving the community for over five decades

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You’d never imagine it, given his boundless energy, engaging personality, and steady presence amidst the environs of his beloved Woodstock, but esteemed educator, respected Rotarian, resourceful handyman, master woodworker, accomplished accordionist, and consummate community servant Norm Frates Sr. turns 88 this coming Monday, Dec. 5. And next weekend, there Norm the elder will be, working the bellows and tickling the keys and buttons of his accordion, pumping out holiday tunes before the bonfire on The Green at Woodstock’s 39th annual Wassail Weekend celebration.

In a series of conversations during Thanksgiving week, longtime friends, colleagues, and coworkers of Norm Frates Sr. expressed their deep-seated affection and gratitude for all that the effervescent, ever-active retiree has contributed to the community over the course of 55 years and counting.

Read more in the December 1 edition of the Vermont Standard.

Amelia Peters — South Pomfret’s own wild horse whisperer

  When young Amelia Peters adopted the first of the five wild mustangs now under her loving care and watchful eye, it offered what could prove to be the learning experience of a lifetime.

Together with her older sister, Endine, Amelia – then just 12 – was being homeschooled in the fall of 2020 by her mother, Cathy Peters, and father, John Peters Jr., during the pandemic shutdown at Woodstock Union High School/Middle School. An enthusiastic and accomplished horseback rider since she was a small child, Amelia had begun competing in regional equine eventing competitions earlier in 2020, contending in the dressage, stadium jumping, and cross-country competitions that are part of the three-part equestrian eventing discipline, first on one of the family’s quarter horses and then on a thoroughbred.

But following a series of conversations with her parents, Amelia soon opted for a different type of horse to raise, train, and potentially compete with in eventing — the wild mustang, technically a feral animal, adopted through the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and its wild horse and burro management program. The BLM manages and protects the wild horses and burros on nearly 27 million acres of land across 10 Western states.

“You need a pretty agile horse for those three eventing disciplines,” Cathy Peters told a visitor to the family’s Runamuck Farm in South Pomfret as she gazed appreciatively at her daughter and the five wild mustangs now under the teenager’s expert tutelage in a dedicated paddock. “We had domestic quarter horses, but they are not big on the jumping part. [Amelia] rode some of them for a while, but she didn’t have a lot of good luck with that. She ended up on a thoroughbred, which was okay, except the horse was older than we would have liked and nervous. We knew we needed something else for Amelia — and nothing that we ended up exploring was really right or it was way out of our budget. I had wanted a mustang since I was a kid — and so we talked about maybe trying that. Amelia knew somebody whose daughters do eventing and they bought a mustang that was really good with kids, wasn’t very big, liked doing everything, and, as is the case with mustangs, was pretty inexpensive.”

The brown mustang, a yearling named Chess, was the first wild horse in Amelia Peters’ soon-to-expand herd of mustangs. Amelia adopted Chess through the BLM and the family ventured off to a holding facility in Wisconsin to pick the horse up and transport him back to Vermont. But because the mustang was so young, Amelia couldn’t ride him in competition. That’s when the nimble young equestrian found out about events called Extreme Mustang Makeovers — competitions involving adult and youth riders who’ve adopted or purchased a wild mustang, spent no more than six months domesticating and training the horse, and then working with the animal in the competitive arena, performing a range of handling exercises, riding tasks, and tricks. Adopted from a facility in Ohio, a gray mustang named Lucifer was the second wild horse in the South Pomfret teen’s burgeoning herd. “He is so smart and so sweet, so cute and mellow, not at all like his name,” Cathy Peters joked about Lucifer, dubbing him her daughter’s “favorite horse.”

The term “horse whisperer,” popularized by a 1995 novel by Nicholas Evans adapted for the screen by director/actor Robert Redford in a 1998 film of the same name, is frequently used to describe a trainer who adopts a sympathetic view of the motives, needs, and desires of a horse, based on modern equine psychology. Sagacious, articulate, self-motivated, and mature well beyond her 14 years of age, Amelia Peters is an exemplary whisperer. The first step in bonding with and training a wild mustang entails simply having the horse allow itself to be approached and touched by its handler. The challenge of “gentling” the horse comes next — a much more holistic, empathetic name for what those uninitiated to the equine world might think of as “breaking” the animal for riding, labor, or other endeavors. While grooming another of her five charges, six-year-old Sierra — the latest addition to Amelia’s corral — the teen spoke enthusiastically, with first-hand, seemingly intuitive knowledge, about the process of gentling a largely feral horse.

“It depends on the horse. Foxy, (a tall, red, one-year-old mustang), and Lucifer were both pretty easy,” Amelia offered. “Foxy was super people-oriented from the start, so I didn’t really have to get her used to being around me. She initiated touch — I didn’t have to teach her that it was okay for me to be in the corral with her or to be touching her. Lucifer was more reserved, so I had to approach him instead of the other way around. He wasn’t skittish, but he was almost shut down. They don’t really acknowledge what is happening,” Amelia added, calling attention to a behavior wild horse trainers see frequently. “Some horses just tune out, so I was able to touch him all over on the first day, but he wasn’t really there for me. He was still afraid — he just didn’t show it in a big way. He didn’t run away or anything, but he wasn’t really engaged.

“You have to work to open them up and find out what their personality is for training to really take hold,” Amelia continued. “Lucifer was a little bit like Foxy in a way, in that he would touch me and take food from me, but anytime I would try to approach or touch him, he would just take off. And then there was Atlas. He would come and investigate me — he’d touch me and take food from me. But any time I would try to touch or approach him, he would just take off. So I got him used to being touched from a distance with a long whip or a stick — obviously not hitting him with it — just to get him accustomed to it with my being a little further away. Once I could touch him and he realized I wasn’t going to eat him, he was fine,” she added with a hint of laughter.

Amelia Peters adheres to a training philosophy known in the horse world as R-Plus – “positive reinforcement training,” as she describes it. It’s similar in technique to the training used with dolphins, who also have a propensity to shut down cognitively and emotionally, rather than engage in actual training, instruction, and learning. “It’s behavior and reward — when they give you a behavior you want, you give them a reward for it. When horses are afraid, a lot of them will just freeze — their eyes may be glazed over, they’re not blinking, their lips may be tight. They’re just standing there, thinking if they do [disengage] everything will be okay. And when you let them go, they take off, having not really learned anything,” Amelia explained. Sierra, it turned out, had received some training earlier in her life from a trainer who did not use techniques similar to those of Amelia and, though the Peterses take pains not to criticize the earlier trainer, they do note that Amelia has essentially had to “reprogram” the older horse to train it by her hand. “She has taken longer to train and proceeds more slowly than the others,” Amelia says of Sierra.

What is it that Amelia Peters loves most about her horse whispering ways and the beloved mustangs in her charge? “They’re a blank slate,” she commented. “When you buy a horse that is already trained, it may be easier in the beginning, because they already know stuff,” she added. “But eventually you find out the holes in their training where they haven’t fully finished a behavior or it may be that something was not necessarily taught wrong, but just not in the way that you would have wanted to teach it. Regarding a horse that hasn’t been trained, they will learn a behavior quickly if they haven’t already been taught in a previous way. They’re just an open canvas for teaching all kinds of things.”

Citing the mustang’s wild roots as a plus and not a minus in many instances, Amelia added, “They’re usually pretty sure-footed, so they know where they are placing their feet, and they’re usually built pretty well. They have to be to survive in the wild. Natural selection will pick the ones that are the best fit for the environment in which they are supposed to live.”

Remember that inaugural Extreme Mustang Makeover event that Amelia and Lucifer entered in the fall of last year, several months after the gray mustang first came under the compassionate care of the South Pomfret teen? Amelia finished in second place in the youth division in her first effort at competing on the makeover mustang circuit. Because of ongoing pandemic restrictions, the event was held virtually, with competitors taping their performances and then submitting them to competition organizers in New Jersey. “She did all of her patterns [with Lucifer] and it was raining all week, so we had to use the indoor facility at Highland Farm [in Royalton] for the videotaping,” Cathy Peters recollected. “But it worked out pretty well. Lucifer wore a costume with devil’s ears and he did all these tricks and [Amelia] came in second [out of ten competitors] on the first wild mustang she had trained entirely by herself.”

In addition to the copious work she does with her own mustangs — and all the time it takes out of each day for continued homeschooling with her mom, including math and science studies with difficulty levels well above those customary for a first-year high school student — Amelia Peters further fuels her passion for all things equine by working part-time at Highland Farm in South Royalton and at Skyline Dressage, acclaimed equestrian Susan Armstrong’s training facility in North Pomfret. Theres she acquires additional dressage training in the summer and takes on jobs riding other people’s horses, exercising them as needed. She also volunteers with the Rising Action Mustang Society (RAMS) in New Haven, Vt., where she does manual labor such as mucking and trains some of the RAMS mustangs.

Assertive, independent, and insightful, Amelia Peters regards her training, adoption, and animal husbandry operations as separate from her parents’ work as second-generation Vermont farmers. She’s even dubbed her efforts with their own monikers: Honeydew Mustangs (or HD Stangs for short) for her equine activities and Honeydew Goats for her caretaking of her family’s goat herd, which she also tends. It’s still early — Amelia will not turn 15 until November — but it’s highly likely a career working with horses is in the motivated teen’s future, whether as a veterinarian, farrier, or farmer. Cathy Peters speculates as much.

“The jobs don’t pay very well,” Amelia’s mom said. “It’s hard work and it usually doesn’t come with health insurance. So the question becomes does she want to go to school and get a job that pays well so she can support her habit or not get paid and just live a life kind of like ours, where when you are a farmer everything pretty much goes back into the farm. But you like farming, so you keep doing it anyway. She talks about what she wants to do, but she’s only in ninth grade, so she’s got plenty of time.”

As Cathy Peters headed off to help with autumn harvest activities at Moore’s Orchards in North Pomfret, which is owned and operated by her mother, Emily Grube, she was complimented on the two highly eclectic and engaged young women she and John have raised on their family homestead. Amelia’s older sister, Endine, who graduated from WUHS/MS in June, is an accomplished sculptor whose works have been exhibited at Artistree. She also teaches welding and has strong interests in building and construction.

“We’ve just fostered their ideas and allowed them to do their fun things, which is good because it’s one of those things that maybe a lot of people aren’t lucky enough to be able to do,” Cathy Peters said of her two daughters. I guess that’s good parenting, but we’re some pretty unique people ourselves. I’m pretty bland and plain, but the two of them are pretty fun.”

Looking back at the corral where all five mustangs were huddled around Amelia as she continued to care for them on Sunday afternoon, Cathy Peters concluded, “See — they all love her because they know that she’s doing fun things and they want to be a part of it.”

Area’s first cannabis store, Sunday Drive, up and running

By Tom Ayres, Senior Staff Writer

Enthusiasts from throughout the region have given a heady welcome to Sunday Drive, the Upper Valley’s first cannabis retail outlet, which opened its doors to aficionados of smokable buds and edibles on Thursday, Nov. 17.

Business was brisk on opening day, when twenty cannabis connoisseurs visited the nascent retail outlet in its first hour of operation. Sales stayed high through the weekend, including during the day on Sunday, when numerous cannabis devotees hit the road to Sunday Drive for their first purchase of their favored recreational and medicinal drug.

“It’s been really exciting,” Sunday Drive founder/owner P.J. Eames said on Sunday afternoon as she took a break from tending to the steady stream of customers checking out diverse product line the cozy, warmly decorated and welcoming cannabis emporium at 442 Woodstock Road, just across the hall from the popular Worthy Kitchen restaurant. “There was a little anxiety there in getting everything done and not knowing how it would be received. I mean, I thought it would be pretty positive, but it has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Eames said several weeks ago that part of her pre-opening jitters related to supply-chain issues and whether Vermont’s commercial cannabis growers would be fully licensed by the state and have product ready in time for Sunday Drive’s retail debut. “A lot of the growers have hit this kind of bottleneck at the testing level. There were two active testing labs in the state and one of them went down last week because one of their machines broke,” Eames offered, speaking about the labs that test cannabis from Vermont cultivators for pesticides, microbial organisms, potency and other issues.

Despite the testing woes, however, Eames said Sunday Drive was well-stocked on opening day. “We ended up with quite a bit of cannabis flower. We’re still waiting for some to come down the line. Some of our strains are selling out – we’re working with small growers exclusively in Vermont, so when something sells out that’s it until next year. But that said, we’ve got a lot of sun-grown right now and then we’re going to be seeing a lot of indoor-grown cannabis this winter — that’s a year-round operation. I’m growing indoors myself now and we’ll eventually be selling that, too.”

On the edibles front, Vermont state testing requirements are more rigorous, Eames noted, focusing more intensively on production facilities, manufacturing aspects such as the extraction processes that draw out the psychoactive ingredients from cannabis plants, and more. “For the edible part, right now we have some gummies and we’ll have some chocolates and capsules soon, and then vape cartridges, which will be a couple of more weeks out,” the Sunday Drive proprietor added.

New customers at Sunday Drive are greeted at the door by a state-licensed “budtender,” who checks identification to make certain that no one under the age of 21 enters the store. Once ID’s have been verified, budtenders escort visitors around the store, talking knowledgeably and with great enthusiasm about all the cannabis offerings on hand, helping individual fans to find the precise bud or edible that suits their particular need or fancy. 

On Sunday afternoon, budtender Jamie-Lee Fernandes guided a visitor to the Sunday Drive “Bud Bar” and chatted amiably and expertly about some of the cannabis strains offered there. By state law, all the cannabis sold at retail outlets in Vermont must be cultivated in-state. “I’m a big fan of the Mint Jelly, not just because it is grown in the next town over — Hartland — but also because of the properties I get from it. I smoke it when I’m tired, such as when I was home on Thursday night after our opening day here, and it made me more tired. I sleep for about an hour to two hours at a time and wake up a lot. And I slept four-and-a-half to five hours that first night. It was very nice.”

Fernandes told a visitor that she personally does not look for a high THC content — the psychoactive component of cannabis — in her preferred strains. “I’m looking for the terpene profile and the different flavors I get. I want it to taste good when I smoke it. You have some customers who are just looking for a higher THC level, whereas I’m looking for terpenes and taste,” she added, referring to organic chemicals that are responsible for the way cannabis and many other plants, herbs and fruits smell. And smell, as Fernandes readily pointed out, is an essential component of how something tastes.

Fernandes and fellow Sunday Drive budtender Sarah Penna, as well as Eames, all took a six-hour class with a “cannabis nurse,” Jessie Lynn Dolan, as part of the state licensing process for retail cannabis store operators and purveyors. Interestingly, the mix of customers at Sunday Drive in its first several days of operation featured roughly a 50/50 split between recreational cannabis users and those interested in the medicinal benefits of the smokeable and edible herb.

“Jesse Lynn took us through all the different properties of the plant and talked about how your body has a relationship with the hemp plant,” noted Penna, the most youthful of the Sunday Drive budtenders at 23. “She taught us about the different terpenes that are in the plant — the scent and flavor profiles — and how those have effects on your body. She really approached it from an herbalist standpoint. We learned about cannabis as a medicine, about how our bodies process it. I really appreciated that, because now when people come in and they’re telling me, ‘I can’t sleep, I can’t eat,’ I can give them educated information about what they may want to try, rather than just sending them off to get stoned,” Penna continued. “But then, of course, if that’s what someone wants, I can help them with that, too,” she added with a chuckle.

“It’s been super-fun,” Penna said of her first few days of working at Sunday Drive. “We’ve been busy all day, every day and people have been super-kind. We’ve had people come in who’ve been smoking cannabis for years and we have some come in who have never smoked. Like I said earlier, we have some people coming in who have nausea, they have pain, they need to sleep, and then there are others who are headed to a party, and they want to bring something to their friends. It’s been a very positive experience.”

Penna shared that she herself got a medical cannabis card for a chronic pain condition while attending college in Pennsylvania, which turned her into an enthusiastic user of the herb. “Cannabis is the only thing that has ever touched the pain and been able to help me,” she offered. “My experience since then has stemmed from the medicinal use of it. It had such an impact on my illness and it was helping me to sleep so much better. I came to realize that everyone can benefit from it and I really wanted to get involved in bringing it to people who might not have tried it before. Based on my own experience, it kind of smashed down all the stereotypes for me.”

Sunday Drive, it turns out, is all about breaking down stereotypes — including the one that typecasts cannabis users, cultivators, and retailers as overwhelmingly male. Eames, in fact, has stressed throughout the process of creating, licensing, and opening the retail cannabis outlet that it is an all-women enterprise. And that, she and her fellow budtenders say, is central to the store’s ethic and mission.

“Vermont is unique in that many of the dispensaries are female-owned and female-run because in most places it is such a male-dominated industry,” Eames commented. What does Eames believe a feminine perspective brings to the cannabis arena? “I think women need it more,” she answered brightly, “whether it helps with pain from your menstrual cycle or hormonal balance.” Agreeing that men seem to use cannabis less for its perceived medicinal qualities than to get high, Eames added that “it’s a very feminine plant. You don’t want a male plant in your garden. Pull that out and throw it away. It turns all the rest of the plants male,” the Sunday Drive owner quipped. “It is a very female plant,” she reiterated. “You think of the tradition of herbalists and its predominantly women that are working with plants.”

Indeed, a surprising number of the customers at Sunday Drive last weekend were women. Budtender Penna said she is delighted to be part of the all-women venture in part because of that. “I love it, I think it is really positive,” Penna enthused. “In an industry like this — just like in the craft beer industry — it’s pretty male-dominated. A lot of the growers are male, so it’s really great to see more women involved with it, both as cannabis users and on the business end. Like P.J., I find something very feminine about it – it’s about working with plants and healing, it’s about so much more than simply, ‘Hey, I’m going to rip a dab and get so messed up,” Penna said enthusiastically, using contemporary jargon for smoking cannabis simply to get stoned.

“That’s the really cool aspect of it,” Penna concluded. “I think everyone should come here and try something. I’m so grateful to be involved.”

Sports

Killington World Cup foundations raises $650K

  • Wendy Holdener of Switzerland and Anna Swenn Larsson of Sweden celebrate a shared victory on the podium after the second run of the slalom at the HERoic Killington Cup Presented by Stifel on November 27, 2022 in Killington, Vermont.nnPhoto: @dustinsatloff //

Vermont’s Killington Resort, the largest ski and snowboard resort in Eastern North America and part of POWDR — an adventure lifestyle company — hosted the women’s Audi FIS Ski World Cup for the sixth time over Thanksgiving Weekend. Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami won the giant slalom under sunny skies on Saturday and in a shocking finale Sunday, Anna Swenn-Larsson (SWE) and Wendy Holdener (SUI) tied for the slalom win. Though she logged the fastest time in run one, five-time Killington Cup champion Mikaela Shiffrin finished the slalom in fifth.

After a slow start to the Audi FIS Ski World Cup season, marred with cancellations in Europe, Killington Resort managed to take the racecourse from grass to FIS snow control approval in a matter of days. Because of the prolonged warm weather in November, the Heroic Killington Cup presented by Stifel was the first race of the year for many athletes, who shared their enthusiasm for being back in Vermont.

Read more in the December 1 edition of the Vermont Standard.

Former stars, friends reconnect at alumni hockey games

Last Friday, while still stuffed from Thanksgiving, Woodstock Union High School alumni gathered at Union Arena for the 19th Annual Ian Holt Memorial Games. The event gave friends and former players the chance to feel like kids again. For sisters Samantha and Sophia Yates, the ladies game was a continuation of a lengthy history as teammates. They played together for two years in high school and they have resumed that camaraderie by playing field hockey at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts.

Samantha, who was in the class of 2020, was the hockey captain in her senior year. “I have a lot of friends that I keep in touch with,” she says. “Every time that I come home, I try to skate. I played over the summer, as well.” Among all of her former teammates, she has always shared an extra-tight bond with her sister. “I’m really close to my sister, so we get along really well. We’ve grown together at school, as well. People have said to me that we click well on the field. I think that’s because I know her voice so well — I can hear her over everyone else.”

Read more in the December 1 edition of the Vermont Standard.

Woodstock’s Bradley returns to the winner’s circle on the PGA Tour

Woodstock native Keegan Bradley celebrates after winning the Zozo Championship at Narashino Country Club in the Chiba Prefecture city of Inzai, eastern Japan, on Oct. 16, 2022.

When Woodstock native and standout professional golfer Keegan Bradley notched his first victory on the PGA Tour in four years on Oct. 16, winning the Zozo Championship in Japan, it elicited a swell of emotions that were powerfully evident in a moving phone conversation with his wife Jillian that he shared on social media.

The call back home to Jupiter, Fla., initiated by Bradley’s caddie, Scotty Vail, himself teary-eyed as he handed his cell phone to Keegan, went viral, drawing nearly 500,000 views on Twitter alone:

Keegan Bradley: Oh my God, it’s so good to talk to you.

Jillian Bradley: I love you so much. We watched every second.

Keegan: (Choking back tears.) I can’t keep it together.

Jillian: I’m proud of you, honey. So proud of you.

Keegan: Love you.

Jillian: You’ve earned every single second of this. You’ve worked so hard. I’m so proud of you.

Keegan: Thanks. I miss you guys.

Jillian: I miss you, too. So proud of you.

Keegan: Thanks. Love you. I’ll call you again in a little bit, okay?

Jillian: Love you so much. Yay!

“It took me by surprise,” Keegan Bradley said of his emotional response in the brief phone chat he had with his wife after walking off the green victorious after the 72nd hole of the Zozo Championship last month. “I’ve never really had the reaction to winning on the PGA Tour — the whole moment was kind of overwhelming and to be able to FaceTime the family took me by surprise, too. It hit me all at once — I was just overwhelmed,” added the Woodstock-born-and-raised golfer.

Keegan has long credited family with being a major source of inspiration for his success at golf. Bradley’s aunt, Pat Bradley, won 31 times on the LPGA Tour and is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. His father, Mark, a long-time PGA club professional now working in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, instilled a love for the game that young Keegan honed at the Woodstock Country Club in his youth. And Jillian, herself an Upper Valley native whose father, Bob Stacey, was the town manager in Hartland for 20 years prior to his retirement in 2017, is her husband’s most stalwart proponent and cheerleader. The two have known one another since their teenage years, when Jillian befriended Keegan’s sister, Madison, and married in 2016 after several years of dating.

Bradley spoke with great affection recently about his native Vermont and New England and what his roots mean for him when he’s on the annual PGA Tour grind, with its exhaustive travel demands and relentless pressures. “Jillian’s parents still live in Hartland and we’ll come up for the holidays,” Keegan offered. “And we always try to come up around the Travelers tournament in Hartford each year. We’ll spend a few weeks on each side of that in Vermont and in Boston, where my mom lives.

“We’re both super proud of where we’re from and our New England and Vermont heritage — it’s something that I carry around with me throughout the whole world,” Bradley continued, speaking on behalf of Jillian as well. “I am just so proud of where I grew up — and it’s so unique compared to the other guys. I feel like it’s an advantage that I have over everybody.”

As he customarily does, Bradley enthused about the loving support of family and the backing of his coach, caddy, and others he surrounds himself with while on the PGA circuit. “I just feel so lucky,” he offered. “The people I have around me — from my coach (Darren May) to my caddy (Scotty) to my wife Jillian — I always say to people that Jillian, and this is probably why I got so emotional on that phone call, she allows me to be the best that I can be,” Bradley said. “I don’t know if that is always true with a lot of marriages and partnerships. I just loved that phone call because she was just as big a part of that win as I was. It feels very nice to reward and honor the people around you who have sacrificed so much.”

Obituaries

Bentley A. Rodgers

Bentley A. Rodgers, 26, of 201 Hale Lane, Bellefonte, passed away at 2:15 p.m. Sunday, November 20, 2022, at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, PA.

He was born May 29, 1996, in Lebanon, NH, a son of David A. Rodgers of Bellefonte and Kathy Carroll-Rodgers of Hardwick, VT.

Along with his parents, he is also survived by: a brother, Jonathan D. Carroll of Eustis, FL; a sister, Angela Joy Carroll & husband Danny Phillips of Burlington, VT; his paternal grandfather, John Rodgers of Belleville; paternal aunts & uncles, Audrey Gay Rodgers of Belleville; R. Joy Mernin & husband Keith of Belleville; John Rodgers, Jr. & wife Colleen of St. College; and James R. Rodgers & wife Cece of Waynesboro, VA; maternal uncles, Dale Christensen & spouse Steve of Walpole, NH; maternal cousins, Steven Christensen and Michael Christensen; and paternal cousins, Alexandria Winship & husband Jeremiah, Jackie Rodgers, Sam Rodgers & wife Jenna, Jillian Rodgers, Kaitrin Rodgers, Jessamine Mernin, Jack Mernin, Luke Rodgers, Abigail Rodgers, and Mark Rodgers.

He was preceded in death by: his uncle John Oldenburg, his aunt Lori Guess, his maternal grandparents, John H. Oldenburg, Jr. and Beverly Oldenburg, and his paternal grandmother, Gayle Rodgers.

Bentley graduated in 2014 from Mifflin County High School, where he was a member of the Tennis team. He was employed at Wegman’s in the sub shop, at Target during the holidays, and at Hameau Farms. He was a member of the Grace Covenant Church Youth Group in Lewistown and was an active participant with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation researching new medications.

He enjoyed spending time with his friends and going on trips. He was a lover of music and found happiness in writing short stories that he shared with family and friends.

A Celebration of his Life will be held at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, November 27, 2022 for close family and friends at the home of Joy & Keith Mernin, 92 Plum Bottom Lane, Belleville, PA  17004. Pastor Darin Rex will officiate the service. Burial will take place at a later date at Church Hill Cemetery, Reedsville.

Should friends desire, memorial contributions may be made in Bentley’s name to:  Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 600 Corporate Circle, #103, Harrisburg, PA  17110, www.engage.cff.org; or to Make a Wish Foundation, 707 Grant St., #3700, Pittsburgh, PA  15219, https://wish.org; or to Children’s Miracle Network, c/o Katie Anderson, 1249 Cocoa Ave., Suite 115, Hershey, PA  17033, https://pennstate.childrensmiraclenetworkhospitals.org.

Arrangements are under the care of Henderson Funeral Home, Belleville. Online condolences may be offered at www.hendersonfuneralhomes.net.

Patricia Jo (White) Alden

Woodstock

Patricia Jo (White) Alden, 81 died peacefully at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH on November 16, 2022.

She was born on  April 20, 1941, in Windsor, Vermont the daughter of Joseph White Jr. and Constance Puksta White.

Pat graduated from Windsor High School in 1959. Early on she worked at the Old Woodstock Inn and the Montessori school in Naples, FL. Pat volunteered at the Woodstock Elementary School teaching reading to children and helping with the ELF program, She was a Kindergarten teacher for the Woodstock Sunshine School. Pat also worked as the administrator for Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church and for a number of years as a research assistant at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

Pat had wonderful musical talent and loved music very much. She played the piano. A dedicated parent, Pat enjoyed flowers, gardening, and recycling (early advocate of Frank Teagle recycling opportunities in Woodstock). She was an advocate for early education, a voracious reader, loved the library, art, beauty, creating floral arrangements for the O.L.S. altar, and decorating for seasonal holidays.

Pat is survived by her daughter Elisabeth Alden, son John Alden (Cindy), nephew Kevin White (Bethany), and many loving friends.

In addition to her parents, Pat is predeceased by her husband John Taylor Patrick Alden, a son Richard Alden, and a brother Anthony White.

A Mass of Christian burial will be held on Monday, November 21, 2022, at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church in Woodstock, Vermont beginning at 11:00 am.

Those wishing may make memorial donations to the ALS Association, P.O. Box 207, Concord, NH 03302-0207.

An online guestbook can be found at cabotfh.com

Nelson Lee Chamberlin

Woodstock

Nelson Lee Chamberlin, 62, of Woodstock died on Saturday, November 12, 2022, in Burlington.  He was born on October 10, 1960, in Windsor, VT to Ernest and Mary (Wilson) Chamberlin and began his more than four-decade career in masonry just out of high school. He was talented and loved working with stone and brick to create beautiful architecture and features.

Nelson loved Vermont and the outdoors. Even though his best spots were closely guarded secrets, he always found time to teach anyone who wanted to learn (especially youths) how to identify animals and plants and forage and hunt safely. No matter the season, he found ways to enjoy his time in the woods: turkey calling, deer hunting, ice fishing/fishing, ginseng foraging, and rabbit hunting with his Beagle/Bluetick, Blue.  A talented gardener with a green thumb, his vegetable garden yielded an abundance of produce to enjoy and share all season.  For over 30 years, he enjoyed playing horseshoes in a local league he helped to form. He loved to spend time with his family, was always on the cleanup crew for family get-togethers; in recent years he really loved watching his granddaughter learn and grow, and having nerf wars and wrestling with his “adopted” grandson.

Nelson is survived by his wife Janice P. Chamberlin of Woodstock; two daughters Tanya Parker and husband Adam of Woodstock and Susan Chamberlin and partner Christopher Barr of South Woodstock; seven siblings Suzanne Rogers of Hartford, VT, William Chamberlin of Woodstock, Ethel Davis of Woodstock, Ernest Chamberlin, Jr. and partner Carmen of Woodstock, Everett Chamberlin of Woodstock, Scott Chamberlin and wife Michelle of Castleton, VT, and Robert Chamberlin and wife Karin of Woodstock; one granddaughter Charlotte Barr; one “adopted” grandson Andrew Boyer; other relatives and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents and one sister, Linda Holden.

A Celebration of Nelson’s life will be held at 1 pm on December 3, 2022, at the family farm, 1442 Church Hill Road, Woodstock.

Knight Funeral Home of White River Junction is honored to be entrusted with arrangements and online condolences are appreciated at www.knightfuneralhomes.com

Margaret Daniel

Margaret Daniel crossed the threshold in the early evening hours of November 10, 2022. She entered this world on February 7, 1932. Margaret, affectionately known as Mutti (Mother in German), was born and raised in Zurich, Switzerland the third child of Karl and Rosa Apitzsch.

Her formal education ended in the 8th grade after which she dutifully apprenticed for three years as a hairdresser with the expectation of taking over the family business. After living and working for a time in Paris and Sweden, she left Switzerland at 23 for America. Like many, she dreamed of a place where she could see wide open spaces and live in the country. Within the first days of arriving in New York, she had the good fortune to connect with the Threefold Farm in Spring Valley, NY. There she met the love of her life Ernst Daniel, an ardent Anthroposophist and Bio-dynamic farmer, 30 years her senior. They married and raised 4 of their own children and adopted two others. They lived in this community for almost 20 years during that time they purchased the 100-acre farm in Vermont where they would eventually move to permanently in the early 1970s.

Her travel dreams were halted for many years as she wholeheartedly embraced raising a large family. With limited resources and an interest in nature, she began to make use of everything that grew. She was a pioneer in the homesteading movement, learning to make herbal medicines, dehydrating and preserving food, and wilderness survival. She took great joy in teaching others to be self-sufficient and healthy.

A petite lady with boundless energy, she led a life devoted to helping others. In 1985, when the love of her life died and her family was grown, she decided to finish her world travels. She became a co-worker in the Camphill movement in Brazil, South Africa, Jamaica, Botswana, and Israel. (Camphill’s are communities based on the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner devoted to furthering the lives of developmentally and intellectually disabled children and adults.) She had an innate curiosity about people and often said she wished she could be a world citizen. Rarely did she met anyone that didn’t become a lifelong friend.

Upon returning to Vermont after several years abroad, she began to volunteer with the ELF program in the Bethel schools, bringing a love of the natural world to children. It was during the next twenty years that she formed a special bond with an elementary teacher who allowed her to bring her great interest in the world to the classroom where she taught about rocks and minerals, made traditional European crafts, cooked, baked, and celebrated many holidays. Later in life she was blessed to co-raise her grandsons Ambrose and Allister as they lived on an adjoining property.

A fortuitous 70th birthday trip to Peru led to yet another long karmic relationship, again with an Anthroposophic endeavor called Q’ewar. In 2005, she founded the non-profit Lukana’s Dream, in an effort to help the women and children of that project. Her thoughts were always of service, and how to be “useful” to the community. No one ever left her presence without a cup of herb tea, some chocolates or a worry stone for their pocket. She finally retired at 88 when the store closed due to the pandemic. She genuinely loved all people and was always available for conversation. In later years, she would lament that her biggest problem was that she just couldn’t adequately keep up with all the friends she made over the years. Hers was a peaceful life devoted to truth and she was the living embodiment of “it is better to give than receive.” Margaret Daniel truly showed up for life!

She is survived by a sister Annette Putscher (Matis) of Chur Switzerland; son, Michael Daniel (Valerie) grandchildren Sterling, Naomi, Sebastian; son, Thomas Daniel (Allison) and grandsons, Cameron & Evan; daughter, Claudia Stark (Kevin) and grandson Kevin (Jessica), great-grandchildren Piper & Irie; daughter, Madelaine Daniel (Steve) and grandsons Ambrose & Allister.

In lieu of flowers please make a donation to your favorite charity in her name. All are welcome to a Celebration of Life for Margaret at the Bethel Town Hall on December 11, 2022, at 2 pm.

Mary Fox Church

Woodstock

Mary Fox Church – Sept 19, 1930 to November 11, 2022.

Mary Fox Church passed away peacefully at her home in the presence of family, early morning sunshine, windows open bringing in an unseasonably warm November breeze

Born in Philadelphia, she and her parents later moved to New Haven, CT where she spent her childhood–making friendships, some of which she maintained until her passing. After graduating from Chatham Hall in VA she moved to NYC to work for J.Walter Thompson. It was during this time she met a handsome Yale football player, Kilborn Church, only to marry upon his graduation. The couple originally spent the early years of their marriage in New Haven and Cleveland, moving to Guilford, CT in 1959 to raise their family.

The residence on Dromara Road was in a neighborhood where she continued to build lifetime friendships while surrounding her three children with laughter, love, horses, hiking, sailing, and the freedom to roam the nearby farms.

Mary moved North to Woodstock, VT with Kil in 1985 where her life expanded to include a lot more tennis, skiing, gardening, volunteer work, travel adventures to China, Alaska, Greece, British Isles, and the chance to return to painting. Before devoting her life to her young family, Mary had enrolled in the Cleveland Institute of Art. The move to VT gave her the time, space, and inspiration to reconnect with her artistic talents. She studied with many Upper Valley teachers, participated in painting groups, and showed her work at art venues such as Southern VT Arts Associates- Manchester VT, AVA Gallery-NH, Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Prince & Pauper, Quechee Inn, and other Upper Valley galleries.

Mary leaves her daughter Elizabeth of Boston, MA, her son Kortright and wife Jane Ansaldo of Hampton NH, grandchildren Owen Church of Austin TX, Erin Church of Rye, ME, Emily Hadley of Salt Lake City, UT, and Lauren Hadley of NYC. She is predeceased by her loving husband Kilborn and youngest child Heyliger Fox.

Mary’s love of life may best be shared by quoting what she said she sought to capture in her painting: “It’s all in the light you bring to the moment.” Her light will live on in all of us who were blessed to be in her life and it will continue to touch others in the many paintings and memories she created.

Cabot Funeral Home has an online portal to log in and share any thoughts or wishes

A Celebration of Mary’s life will take place on Dec 27, 2022, at her house in Woodstock, VT.

More details will be provided on the Cabot Funeral Home website and a guest book will be posted there; cabotfh.com 

Mary requested to be honored through donations you may make to your favorite charity, The Thompson Senior Center in Woodstock, Hand to Heart Program at handtoheartproject.org, or The Listen Center. God Bless all who touched her life.

Janet Sutherland Aronson

Janet Sutherland Aronson September 3, 1929 – Ocober 29, 2022

A much-loved wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, and friend, Janet Sutherland Aronson, 93, passed away peacefully on October 29, 2022. Janet was born on September 3, 1929, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the eldest child of Donald Wayne Sutherland and Kathleen Bickert Sutherland. Janet excelled in school and graduated at the top of her high school class in 1947. She attended Iowa State University where she met and fell in love with Ronald Frazier Aronson. Jan and Ron married in 1951, shortly after graduation. During the first years of their marriage, they lived in both Iowa and South Dakota and then relocated to Coventry, Connecticut in 1961 where they raised their family.

Jan was a homemaker and then worked in the University of Connecticut Honors Program for eight years. In 1972, Ron and Jan bought five acres of land in Bridgewater, Vermont, and built their dream home.  They loved their Vermont life attending the Bridgewater Congregational Church, being part of a beloved quilting group, and finding lifelong friends on the hill where they lived.

Jan was a talented artist who especially enjoyed fiber arts. She created silkscreen prints and woodblock prints before discovering the art of batik. Jan enjoyed creating her batik clothing for craft fairs throughout Connecticut.  Then she began quilting over 40 years ago and she will be remembered most for her award-winning quilts and wall hangings that will be treasured for generations. Quilting was her passion.

She was a gifted writer who co-authored a book, compiled family history books before computers made genealogy research easier, and was the editor of multiple newsletters. Jan also was a natural leader who built communities wherever she lived.  She was a member of P.E.O. for 72 years.

Jan loved first and foremost her family and she especially loved being a grandmother to Emily and Megan.  She also loved–in no particular order–fabric stores and all things related to quilts and quilting, South Dakota, seeing owls fly, visiting all 251 Vermont towns, UConn women’s basketball, bluebirds, Scottish thistles, rubbing gravestones, gardening and being a 4-H club leader.

Jan leaves an enduring legacy as a strong and caring woman.  She is survived by a daughter Ellen Swain and her husband John of McLean, VA, a son David Aronson of Sterling, VA and a daughter Anne Ojennes and her husband John of Colorado Springs, CO; granddaughters, Emily Swain and Megan Swain; a sister-in-law Judith Sutherland of Iowa City, IA, and a sister-in-law Julie Wisecup and her husband Charlie of Missouri Valley, IA. She was preceded in death by her husband Ron, her parents, and her brother, Donald W. Sutherland.

A celebration of life will be held on Sunday, November 27, 2022, at 2:00 at the Leesburg Presbyterian Church at 207 West Market Street in Leesburg VA.

Donations in memory of Janet can be made to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science at VINS Nature Center, P.O. Box 1281, Quechee, VT 05059 (VINS –https://vinsweb.org)

Randall J. Phelps

Randall J. Phelps December 28, 1953 – October 28, 2022

Randall J Phelps, 68, passed away suddenly on Friday, October 28, 2022.

Randy or Ran, as he preferred to be called, was born on December 28, 1953, in Hanover, NH; the son of Louis Darling Phelps and Margaret Frances Mandigo.

He graduated from WUHS, class of 1971.

Randy married Sheryl Geno on February 21, 1976, and they welcomed their son, Christian J, Phelps on May 14, 1981.  On March 17, 2013, they welcomed their daughter-in-law, Denise Ann Logan, to their close-knit family.

Randy spent seven years serving in the Vermont Army National Guard.  After he completed basic training, he worked as consumer products service technician for T&T Tractor, in Proctor, Vermont.  In later years he worked for Electrolux, First Student as both mechanic and driver, as a security guard in Florida, as co-owner with his son, and mechanic at My Mechanic in Bridgewater.  His final job before retiring was in maintenance at GE in Rutland, VT.

Randy’s dream was to spend retirement traveling the country.

Randy is survived by his wife, Sheryl, his son and daughter-in-law, Chris & Denise, his mother, Margaret Phelps of North Port, FL, sisters, Linda Phelps of Bridgewater, Rebecca (Becky) Longley and her husband Ray of North Pomfret, and brothers Robert (Bob) and his wife Karen of Benson and Eric of North Port, FL.  He is also survived by two aunts and several nieces, nephews and cousins

He was predeceased by his father, Louis Darling Phelps, Jr in 2014 and his brother, Louis Dean Phelps III in 2017.

As per Randy’s wishes, there will be no services.

Memorial contributions can be sent to Bethany Birches Camp/ Scholarship Fund, 2610 Lynds Hill Rd, Plymouth, VT.  05056

An online guest book can be found at cabotfh.com

Thomas John Robinson Jr.

Thomas John Robinson Jr. 56 of Cavendish, Vermont passed away peacefully on October 8, 2022, at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center with his family and loved ones by his side. He was the husband of Alison Robinson. They spent 20 happily married years together.

He graduated from Bellows Falls Union High School and then resided in Cavendish, Vermont where he started a family whom he loved dearly. He opened a business in South Woodstock, Vermont, Kendron Valley Auto Body. He spent most of his time over the years perfecting his art of Auto Body, each day gaining more passion in what he did with his best friend by his side, Jordon Kimball.

Thomas Robinson was a great cook and always shared his food creations with everyone on Facebook. In the Fall and Winter months, he spent a lot of time snowmobiling and hunting at Camp Weotta. After work and on the weekends, he loved going fishing and spending time with his daughter Hannah Robinson up at Knapp Pond.

Thomas is survived by his loving wife Alison Robinson and his daughter Hannah Robinson, sister, Terry Dinan and family, and younger brother Christopher Robinson and family.

The Celebration of Life for Thomas J. Robinson Jr. will be held at the Reading Town Hall in Robinson Hall on Saturday, October 29th, 2022, with visiting hours of 1 pm to 5 pm. Reading Town Hall Address: 799 VT-106, Reading, VT 05062

Thomas O. Kenyon

BROWNSVILLE

Thomas O. Kenyon died peacefully Monday morning, Oct. 31, 2022, at the Jack Byrne Center for Palliative and Hospice Care in Lebanon, after recently suffering a catastrophic stroke at home.

He was 76.

Tom was born July 9, 1946, the second youngest of Gerald and Orytha (Dunn) Kenyon’s four children.

He was a 1964 Windsor High School graduate. After finishing college, Tom took a job with General Electric in Burlington.

Figuring he needed a car that could get him home on weekends in the least amount of time, Tom purchased a new 1968 Pontiac GTO – America’s original muscle car – just as Vermont’s interstate highway system was opening.

When asked if the speedometer ever reached triple digits with him behind the wheel, Tom just grinned. “Maybe,” he’d say.

Later, Tom enlisted in the Navy, serving six years as a nuclear submariner. When he wasn’t underwater, Tom was stationed in Hawaii and Spain.

After completing his Navy duty, which he thoroughly enjoyed, Tom returned to Brownsville. Dartmouth College hired him to manage its physics and astronomy department to oversee, among other things, the monitoring and reporting of data to the National Weather Service.

“We owe a lot of gratitude to staff member Tom Kenyon who recently retired after a quarter century of service,” Physics and Astronomy Chair James LaBelle said in a 2015 Dartmouth news release. “His dedication and personal interest in weather kept it going for that time.”

Generally speaking, folks fall into two categories: Talkers and doers.

Tom was both.

A George Aiken-style Republican, Tom could – and did – chat about state and local politics with anyone, anywhere. He served a lengthy stint as vice chairman of the Windsor County Republican Committee.

In 2010, then-Gov. Jim Douglas appointed Tom to the governing board of the Vermont Veterans’ Home in Bennington.

Throughout the years, Tom focused much of his public service on his hometown. He was elected multiple times to the West Windsor Selectboard and represented the town on the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission. He served on the board of trustees for the town’s library and historical society, along with the Brownsville Community Church. He was also a longtime member of the West Windsor Volunteer Fire Department.

He wrote a weekly column for the Vermont Standard, keeping readers informed about local government, nonprofit organizations and whatever else caught his attention in West Windsor.

He was an active member of American Legion Post 25 in Windsor and treasurer of the nonprofit Windsor Coon Club, taking great pleasure in helping out with the annual kids’ fishing derby.

A lifelong trout angler and deer hunting enthusiast, Tom and older brother Jim purchased and fixed up a camp in West Fairlee in the 1990s. Tom earned permanent camp bragging rights when he bagged a 208-pound eight-pointer in 2010.

One thing Tom didn’t brag about was his charity work behind the scenes. If winter was approaching and word of a needy family short on firewood reached Tom, he’d arrange for a cord or two to get dropped off without the recipients knowing who was behind the good deed.

Although his only connection to West Fairlee was the hunting camp on Bear Notch Road, Tom sent an annual check to the town’s food shelf that covered a sizable portion of the nonprofit’s grocery bill. He never mentioned it to his family, which only found out through the food shelf’s thankful director.

Tom was predeceased by his brothers Roger, in 2020, and Jim, who passed away in January. He is survived by his sister, Eleanor, of Claremont; sister-in-law, Pat, of Brownsville, sister-in-law, Linda, of Universal City, Texas, along with several nieces and nephews. He also leaves behind Missy IV, his miniature black poodle who is moving just up the hill on Seems Road.

His family thanks the nurses and doctors at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, especially the staff at the Jack Byrne Center, who made sure Tom’s final days were peaceful and respectful of his wishes. A special thanks to the Rev. Christian Huebner, who within hours of Tom’s hospitalization made a late-night trip to DHMC to be with Tom and family members.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Mary L. Blood Memorial Library, West Windsor Historical Society or Brownsville Community Church.

Knight Funeral Home of Windsor is entrusted with arrangements. Condolences may be expressed in an online guestbook found at www.knightfuneralhomes.com.

A memorial service is planned for Saturday, December 10, at 11 a.m. at Brownsville Community Church. Burial in the Brownsville Cemetery will take place in the spring.

Annual Appeal

Please don’t wait until it’s too late

As our annual appeal enters its final week, we’d like to thank those of you who have thus far stepped up to assist us with your donation. We shoulder our ongoing financial burden all year long – trying to produce quality local journalism for our community even though the traditional advertising revenue funding model for newspapers has deteriorated — and it’s gratifying to know that we have friends who readily answer our call for help, who care as much as we do about the role the Vermont Standard plays in keeping our community strong. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. It’s a fact; we simply cannot keep doing this without you.

But now we face a real sense of urgency. I promised that this annual appeal would only last four weeks so you wouldn’t have to hear from me constantly about our need. And indeed, this is my last appeal article in ’22. But our revenue shortfall is daunting, and it leaves us in a very precarious position. If we’re going to sustain the Standard, we absolutely need more capital to work with.

Today, I’m hoping to attract the attention of more of our readers who care deeply about each of our local towns (Woodstock, Hartland, Pomfret, Bridgewater, Barnard, Reading, Quechee, West Windsor, Plymouth, Windsor and Killington) and the greater community that we’re all a part of. I’m trying to reach more of the people who truly appreciate the way the Standard helps residents stay informed and know about and support one another. I’m trying to tug on the sleeve of more of those who — if ultimately the paper cannot make it without them — would very much miss the Standard once it’s too late. I’m trying to remind all of you who love us, warts and all, to make a donation.

Now.

It’s a fact of life. There are lots of other important things to do and spend money on. They’re all vying for your attention at once. Fundraising appeals like ours can easily get shuffled to the bottom of the pile. But today I hope you’ll understand that our need is absolutely critical. Without your help we won’t be able to put the plans in motion that can help sustain local journalism in our community for the near future and long term.

So far, the response to our 2022 appeal isn’t as strong as it was last year. I hope that’s simply a result of distractions at this time of year or procrastination and not a drop-off in the community’s endorsement of our mission. I hope you agree that certain things in our busy lives are worth taking a moment to support, and local journalism is one of them.

For more than 40 years, Vermont Standard president Phil Camp has dedicated his heart and soul to this endeavor in an effort to give back to his hometown. He’s joined by the Standard’s staff and key supporters who have literally gone all-in, doing whatever it takes in an effort to keep this community treasure going strong against stacked odds. And I believe that if there’s any one place in the country where local journalism can be sustained despite the very difficult financial obstacles newspapers face, it would be here in this community that embraces its paper so enthusiastically. A place where both full- and part-time residents routinely support the people, organizations, and institutions that make this community so phenomenal. My guess is that there are still a lot more people who are willing to help the Vermont Standard than we’ve heard from thus far.

We sincerely appreciate your consideration.

If you’re willing to make a donation to our 2022 Annual Appeal, please send us a check at PO Box 88, Woodstock, VT 05091 or go to our Vermont Standard THIS WEEK website to make a contribution with your credit card.

The Standard is not a 501(c)(3) non-profit, so your gift can’t be deducted from your taxes, but your gift will help ensure that the Standard will be around to serve our community for a long time.

Trying to avoid becoming a “ghost” story

By Dan Cotter, publisher

Many years ago, while discussing the Troubles in Northern Ireland with a good friend, he said to me, “anyone who thinks they know the solution doesn’t really understand the problem.”

That quote crossed my mind this week as I contemplated the grave challenges we face in the newspaper industry – both throughout the country and right here in our community.

Just to review, newspapers in general, and our Vermont Standard, have troubles of their own. We have a revenue shortfall. The funding that traditionally supported local journalism has been drying up. Over the past twenty years in particular, big box stores, chains, and now online sellers such as Amazon have wiped out most of their competition, especially the smaller independent retailers and service providers who loyally supported local newspapers with their weekly ads.

And newspapers used to receive a substantial amount of classified advertising revenue too from help wanted, auto, and real estate/rentals ads, and private parties selling used merchandise. Today, those classified advertisers use a variety of online and digital marketing options instead of or sometimes in addition to a newspaper.

And, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic set the national and local economy back in many ways, and it has had trouble rebounding due to staff shortages and supply chain issues. Newspapers rely on advertising dollars that just aren’t being spent in this economic environment.

Acting as though they don’t really understand the problem – which is a revenue problem – many newspapers throughout the country have carried out hardcore expense trimming and staff reductions in an attempt to balance the budget. For example, just in the past few weeks, the largest newspaper company in the country laid off 400 workers. At the Standard, we’ve done our share of trimming expenses as well.

But despite the belt-tightening, the numbers don’t add up. Without an infusion of revenue, losses pile up. There aren’t enough expenses or personnel to cut without crippling the organization. You simply cannot save your way to prosperity, much less fund new initiatives. Something tends to give.

The remaining skeletal staff at these papers — once strong and proudly serving their communities with news, information and commentary that helps their readers understand local issues and each other so that they can make good decisions and solve problems they face together — can no longer adequately cover the news.

In industry jargon, we call these “ghost papers.” They’re now just shadows of their former selves, barely worth taking the few minutes required to read them cover to cover. And that loss of quality local journalism leaves behind a void in the community and a breeding ground for misinformation and division.

It’s estimated that as many as 20% of the newspapers in the country are now ghost papers.

The problem we’re facing isn’t that we need reliable, local journalism any less. We need it more than ever. With all the forces at play in our country that tear at the fabric of our democracy, citizens surely need a publication to turn to that tries each week to foster better understanding in their community. With all the “crisis fatigue” we experience in the national news today, we no doubt benefit from a regular dose of what’s often uplifting news about our neighbors and community to help us maintain balance, perspective and hope.

There’s certainly no drop-off in consumer demand for the local journalism we provide. The Standard’s circulation and website visitation volumes remain steady.

But our true problem is that the funding mechanism that served us well for so many years has deteriorated, and so we need to support local journalism in a different way. Unfortunately, very few newspapers have found ways to solve their revenue problem. More than a fourth of the country’s newspapers have gone out of business. And too many of those that remain have severely diminished their paper with drastic expense cuts that gutted the paper of the very journalism it is supposed to be providing. Leaving behind, well, a ghost.

The Standard is trying to avoid that trap. We want to sustain the paper as well as the quality of the local journalism we provide. Improve it even. The Standard exists to serve its communities, and now we need the community’s assistance to help us keep it going.

You can help by continuing to read the Standard and patronizing our advertisers. If you’re also in a position to advertise, please do so. And right now, please consider making a donation to our 2022 Annual Appeal. If you’re able, please send us a check at PO Box 88, Woodstock, VT 05091 or go to our Vermont Standard THIS WEEK website at www.thevermontstandard.com to make a contribution with your credit card.

The Standard is not a 501(c)(3) non-profit, so your gift can’t be deducted from your taxes, but your gift will help ensure that the Standard will be around to serve our community for a long time.

Connecting people is important, irreplaceable

By Dan Cotter, publisher

It probably comes as no surprise that at a small newspaper like the Vermont Standard, everyone on staff has to do a little of everything and wear many different hats. But what is a bit surprising is that one of my favorite responsibilities at the paper is to post the obituaries on our website.

As I edit them, I really enjoy learning about the people who passed away. I’ve found that nearly everyone has an interesting story. The obituaries are usually submitted by family members, and the love they express for their dearly departed and their touching descriptions of lives well lived are quite inspiring. It amazes me when I read about all these remarkable people who lived in our area – their impressive accomplishments, their friends, relatives and pets that will miss them so much, their passions, their personalities, their favorite sayings, etc. It’s a good reminder that, despite all the tragic, discouraging events and bad actors we hear about in the national news every day, most people around here are upstanding and admirable.

Like I said, posting obituaries is one of my favorite duties. It makes me feel more connected with this place and the people who make it special.

I suspect that this type of highly-personal local news content is what the majority of our readers like most about the Standard. Whether it’s the stories about area residents who passed away or articles about fascinating people still in our midst — ordinary people doing extraordinary things — or the photos we present of individuals, often children or seniors, participating in local activities… I think it’s those stories about our lives playing out together and our shared experiences that help us appreciate one another and live together in harmony.

For 169 years the Standard has been telling stories every single week that help connect those who live here. Perhaps we’ve even told your story at some point along the way.

It’s classic local journalism.

In telling the stories of the people in our community, the Standard helps everyone to know each other better. Although it’s not our sole purpose, it’s one of our most important purposes. It’s one of the main functions we’re trying to preserve when we conduct our annual fundraising appeal.

Without meaningful human connection, towns are merely geography. But when we’re all better connected by the type of content published in the paper and on our website, we’re a vibrant community that values and respects each other. And therefore, we’re able to tackle the issues and concerns we all must face together.

Despite the evaporation of the advertising revenue that traditionally supported newspapers and the economic devastation wrought by the COVID pandemic that exacerbated our revenue problem, we are working hard to keep the Standard afloat. Across the country, newspapers like the Standard are disappearing at a rate of two per week. In fact, according to a report issued recently by Northwestern University, 336 weekly papers like ours, serving small communities in the US, have shut down since the end of 2019.

There’s no question, we cannot sustain the Standard alone. We urgently need your help. We hope you’ll consider making a donation to our 2022 annual appeal. If you’re able, please send us a check at PO Box 88, Woodstock, VT 05091 or go to our Vermont Standard THIS WEEK website at www.thevermontstandard.com to make a contribution with your credit card.

The Standard is not a 501(c)(3) non-profit, so your gift can’t be deducted from your taxes, but your gift will help ensure that the Standard will be around to serve our community for a long time.

Recently, one of our donors mentioned to me that his grandchildren were once featured in a photo on the front page of the Standard. It was a nice memory of a wonderful moment for his family that the paper captured and shared with the community.

That’s what I’m talking about. How essential it is to have local journalism that helps us share our lives with our neighbors. Just like when we get to pay tribute to our cherished loved ones for all to see upon their passing.

With this fundraising appeal, we’re trying to ensure that residents of our community will always have the Standard as a place to connect with one another in a truly meaningful way. Please join us in this important mission if you’re able to.

Our '22 annual appeal begins with gratitude

By Dan Cotter, publisher 

Last year at this time, when we made our first annual appeal, what stood out to me was how incredibly kind and generous our readers are.

A couple of hundred Vermont Standard readers who live locally or read the paper from afar to keep up on goings-on in the area took a few minutes to write a check or enter their credit card on our website to help us keep local journalism alive. Contributions ranged from ten dollars to gifts of thousands of dollars. And many came with a note of appreciation for our work and encouragement to keep doing it despite our daunting financial challenges.

Phil Camp and I were stunned at how good people were to us and how much they valued the service that our small but talented team provides to the community. We alternated between gasps, high fives and even a few tears as we opened the mail or checked our website for contributions each day during those four weeks.

Your help strengthened us financially and it strengthened our resolve to continue trying to find a way to sustain the journalism that has informed and connected residents in Woodstock, Barnard, Bridgewater, Hartland, Killington, Plymouth, Pomfret, Quechee, Reading, Windsor, West Windsor and points between and beyond for 169 years.

I got the impression that many of our supporters were not just donating from their excess. They were actually sharing what they have with us. A big difference.

It felt like people were digging deep, as if it wasn’t just another handout for some good cause to them. It seemed more personal. Some told us that the local news coverage we produce plays a big role in how they experience, understand and enjoy the community. They claim that reading the paper is an integral part of their weekly rhythm and something they look forward to

Those kinds of comments inspire us. To keep going. To do better.

It seemed like many were picking us up, sharing our pain and joining our fight to keep the Standard going – as our friends, as our partners, as our backers. It felt like they were investing in us and counting on us to stay strong to help the community stay strong.

We are humbled, and we don’t take that responsibility lightly.

I like that term, sharing. It reminds me, Phil and our staff that we’re not in this alone. That the responsibility to produce – and pay for – the local journalism that makes life here better is not just our problem. Rather, a lot of people who share in the benefit of our journalism are invested, and they’re offering whatever they can share to help keep this going.

Thank you, friends.

As the Standard begins its 2022 Annual Appeal, I hope you’ll take a moment to consider whether you’re willing to share some of your resources with us so that we can continue informing and fostering a wholesome connection among our neighbors in the communities we serve.

For the next few weeks, we’ll use this space to talk about what the Standard and local journalism mean to our community — the value it brings to life around here. If you’re able, please send us a check at PO Box 88, Woodstock, VT 05091 or go to our Vermont Standard THIS WEEK website at www.thevermontstandard.com/annual-appeal to make a contribution with your credit card.

The Standard is not a 501(c)(3) non-profit, so your gift can’t be deducted from your taxes, but your gift will be helping to ensure that the Standard will be around to serve our community for a long time.

It’s been tough sledding for the Standard this year. Although COVID itself finally eased up, its residual effects on the local economy have lingered and continue to inhibit our revenue stream. That, of course, on top of all the well-known factors that have severely cut into the advertising revenue that once supported newspapers like the Standard all throughout the country.

Regardless of our ad revenue challenges, we know that our community desperately needs the type of local journalism that the Standard provides. Especially right now. I’ll have more to say about that in the next couple of weeks as our 2022 annual appeal continues.

If you contributed last year, we hope you’ll consider doing so again. We need you. And if you didn’t but can offer us help now, you’ll be one of those we’re searching for to fill the gap in what we need to make ends meet this year.

Thank you for the distinct honor it is to serve you.

Newspapers Are In a Race Against the Clock

Woodstock

Throughout the country newspapers are in a fight for their lives.          Here too.

Race Against The Clock VT Standard Front Page

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