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News | May 16, 2024

USPS reverses course, sorting will remain in WRJ

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News | May 16, 2024

More claims added in Woodstock Foundation lawsuit

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News | May 16, 2024

Board considers permits for East End eatery as Maplefields objects

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News | May 16, 2024

School Board mulling three revised bond options

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News | May 16, 2024

Woodstock’s Focus Gallery moving down the street

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Sports | May 16, 2024

Wasps Softball rallies for first win of the season

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Features | May 16, 2024

Woodstock’s Todd Snell just can’t stop climbing and plans to summit Denali this summer

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Sports | May 16, 2024

Boys Lacrosse had an exceptional Senior Night

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    Recent Sports Scores

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    Bellows Falls
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    Woodstock
    15 - 11
    Baseball 5/14
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    Woodstock
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    Brattleboro
    16 - 4
    Boys Lacrosse 5/13

    News

    USPS reverses course, sorting will remain in WRJ

    In a significant reversal, U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced, through a letter to U.S. Senator Gary Peters, that the USPS will delay consolidating the operations of any mail processing facilities associated with a Mail Processing Facility Review (MPFR), including White River Junction.

    This turnaround comes shortly after the USPS released an MPFR signaling its decision to move the Upper Valley’s mail sorting from White River Junction to Hartford, Connecticut.

    In his letter, DeJoy noted that the USPS will not resume consolidation efforts until after January 2025. “Even then, we will not advance these efforts without advising you of our plans to do so, and then only at a moderated pace of implementation,” wrote DeJoy.

    The USPS’s proposal to move mail sorting from White River Junction to Connecticut has, from its inception, drawn significant pushback from local residents, postal workers, and lawmakers, and according to the USPS’s study about the shift, could result in a loss of up to 23 positions at the White River Junction facility.

    In a public statement, U.S. Senator Peter Welch, who has long been outspoken against DeJoy’s policies, commented on his decision to delay the move. “I am encouraged USPS listened to the concerns we raised from our constituents, and finally paused these misguided facility reviews,” said Welch. “I will keep fighting to improve mail delivery in Vermont, which has been terribly deteriorated. Cutting costs should not come at the expense of timely delivery, customer service and a safe working environment for Vermont’s USPS workers.”

    For further details on this, please see our May 23 edition of the Vermont Standard. 

    More claims added in Woodstock Foundation lawsuit

    The former chair and vice chair of the Woodstock Foundation want to add legal claims of unjust enrichment and a breach of fiduciary duty to their lawsuit against former trustees after learning one of the defendants was paid almost $1.5 million in recent years without full board approval, new court records maintain.

    Defendant Trustee John T. Hallowell received at least $1,472,951 pay from the Foundation plus substantial other benefits, including free luxury housing between 2018 and 2022, according to papers filed in Vermont Superior Court in Woodstock last week.

    Ellen R.C. Pomeroy, the former Foundation chair, and Salvatore Iannuzzi, the former vice chair, also want the defendant trustees to stop using Foundation funds to pay for their legal fees while fighting the current lawsuit.

    In addition, Pomeroy and Iannuzzi seek to have the defendants reimburse the Foundation for all legal fees paid on behalf of the individual trustees thus far.

    “Mr. Hallowell was unjustly enriched as a result of being a Trustee of the Woodstock Foundation and a Director of the WRC Holdings LLC because many of these amounts were not authorized by resolutions…and in some instances the amounts of payments were not adequately disclosed to the Boards,” according to the new filing.

    While Hallowell was collecting nearly $1.5 million, documents filed by the Foundation with the Internal Revenue Service indicated he was paid “zero,” records show.

    “The defendants made the same representation to this Court,” the filing said.

     They also are asking the court to compel the defendants to provide pre-trial papers and evidence, known in the legal world as discovery.

    Judge H. Dickson Corbett had told the parties to be ready for a trial in September 2024 and that they should participate in the discovery exchange. Everything was going along smoothly for discovery with the plaintiffs granting a deadline extension to the defendants until May 18.

    However, “the Defendants did a sudden about-face” on April 24, the motion said. The defense started to claim there was an undue burden and expense for the trustees and the Foundation.

    “The Defendants alleged they should not have to respond to discovery until such time as they retain unspecified purported experts who will supposedly conduct an investigation,” it said.

    “Defendants have failed to discuss, however, that this proposed investigation would be a ‘do-over’ of a prior investigation,” they said.

    The plaintiffs said they had noted earlier the first investigation by a law firm hired by the defendants last year had confirmed many of the concerns and observations by Pomeroy and Iannuzzi. 

    Foundation Directors James S. Sligar, the current chair, David M. Simmons, Michael D. Nolan, John T. Hallowell, Douglas R. Horne, William S. Moody, Gail Waddell and Angela K. Ardolic were named as defendants when the case was filed by Pomeroy and Iannuzzi in January 2023.

    Their defense lawyers have filed written denials to the initial claims.

    A New York City communications company, hired by the Foundation to handle public relations for the lawsuit, said this week the trustees believe the latest claims are without merit and will fight them.

    “We will continue to vigorously defend these false claims just as we’ve done since this frivolous lawsuit began more than a year ago,” said Vincent Novicki, a vice president of Risa Heller Communications. 

    Multiple attempts to reach Hallowell, including through Novicki, for comment on the new court claims about him were unsuccessful. Hallowell did not respond to phone and text messages from the Vermont Standard. 

    A court hearing is planned for May 28 to consider efforts by the defendants — the current Woodstock Foundation leaders — to try to delay for at least six months the lawsuit brought by Pomeroy and Iannuzzi over allegations of mismanagement and malfeasance at the Woodstock Inn & Resort and the Billings Farm & Museum.

    Pomeroy and Iannuzzi maintain the defendants’ motion filed in January seeking a six-month delay is just a thinly veiled stalling tactic to avoid the main legal issues.

    ​The trustees would normally have until May 22 to file a written answer in court to the latest motion submitted by Pomeroy and Iannuzzi, but the defendants have asked for an additional two weeks until June 5 — pushing their response out past the court hearing.

    No ruling has been made on the two-week delay request.

    Judge Corbett had initially agreed to set aside one hour on May 28 for the hearing to consider several pending motions in the lawsuit, which was initially filed in January 2023. It included the motion by the defendants for a stay in the proceedings for a half year. It was unclear with the new motions if the hearing might go longer.

    Burlington lawyer Christopher D. Roy of Downs Rachlin Martin is defending the individual directors, but did not respond about the latest filings about his clients.

    The 9 a.m. court hearing on May 28, which will be conducted on video by WebEx, will mark the first time the judge and the various lawyers in the case will come together to try to resolve the dispute. At least four defense motions to try to dismiss various claims in the lawsuit were rejected by Judge Samuel Hoar Jr. last August based on filings. 

    Hanley has said his clients will fight any delaying tactic.

    The ongoing legal battle has generated considerable interest because the Foundation and Holdings play a major role in the economic engine for the Woodstock region. About 600 people are employed through the operation of the Woodstock Inn & Resort, the Woodstock Country Club and the Saskadena Six Ski Area (formerly Suicide Six), along with the Billings Farm & Museum. 

    For more on this story, please see the May 16 edition of the Vermont Standard

    Board considers permits for East End eatery as Maplefields objects

    The future of the proposed siting of The Farmer and the Bell eatery in a new building now under construction at 67 Pleasant Street in the East End of Woodstock Village is in the hands of the Woodstock Village Development Review Board (VDRB), which recessed a public hearing on change-of-use and conditional-use permits for the project without a decision on Wednesday, May 8.

    Deliberations on the permit requests submitted by developer Eva Douzinas on behalf of her prospective tenants, vaunted donut makers April and Ben Pauly, could last as long as 45 days before Woodstock Planning and Zoning Director Steven Bauer is authorized to issue or deny the sought-after permits. The Paulys’ proposal to open a breakfast and lunch café at the one-time location of a former service station that was demolished in the fall of 2022 has drawn solid support from town officials, several of whom spoke at the May 8 hearing. 

    The proposed restaurant has, however, drawn strong opposition from R.L. Vallee, Inc., the owner of the Maplefields chain which operates the store located directly across the street from the proposed The Farmer and the Bell operation. Through company attorney Alexander LaRosa, Maplefields has voiced its opposition to the planned restaurant on two fronts, one not the purview of the VDRB and Woodstock planning authorities and the other the issues under discussion in the town permitting process.

    In a letter to Douzinas and the Paulys dated May 7, attorney LaRosa raised a “serious concern” about the proposed development at 67 Pleasant Street, contending that the permit application “appears to violate a covenant recorded in the land records limiting the use of this property.” The R.L. Vallee attorney holds that the Maplefields organization conveyed the Pleasant Street lot to Maitland Burke, the former gas station and repair shop operator, with a deed containing a covenant stating that as long as Vallee operates its Woodstock facility across the street, the 67 Pleasant Street site cannot be used for a “convenience store.”

    The LaRosa letter concludes that the convenience store chain’s owner “places you on notice that the continued development of such convenience store use will violate [the] covenant and that Vallee demands such cease. Should you continue to pursue a permit for a convenience store use, Vallee will commence civil action to enforce the covenant.” 

    The Paulys reacted to the covenant kerfuffle, which is subject to a possible civil action and is not under the purview of the VDRB, in a follow-up discussion with the Standard last weekend, contending that the Vallee covenant expressly allows for the operation of a restaurant at the 67 Pleasant Street location. The Paulys’ proposal for The Farmer and the Bell calls for interior seating of 68 seats — 16 downstairs and 52 upstairs — with the possibility of adding an additional 28 seats outside seasonally. The couple argues that their proposed operation is by no means a “convenience store” and that Vallee’s attempt to enforce the deed covenant is simply a matter of “misunderstanding.”

    On the local permitting front, LaRosa sent a five-page letter to the VDRB that was admitted into testimony at the May 8 hearing before the five-member quasi-judicial body. LaRosa argued that the Maplefields operator has serious concerns about traffic, parking, and public safety issues at the busy corner where Pleasant Street veers almost 90 degrees left to continue as State Route 12 toward Quechee. As a consequence of these concerns, the Vallee organization called for the denial of permits for the project.

    The Vallee letter further called into question the restaurant’s proposed use of public spaces and the park-and-ride facilities at East End Park for overflow parking for The Farmer and the Bell. 

    The question of the parking variance, the change-of-use request from a retail operation to a restaurant at the Pleasant Street site, and the possibility of mandating a traffic study to assess Maplefields’ concerns about congestion, pedestrian, and vehicular safety at the busy locale are all a part of the VDRB’s ongoing deliberations about The Farmer and the Bell permit requests. All this said, Woodstock public officials present at the May 8 VDRB hearing all expressed strong support for the Douzinas/Pauly restaurant plans.

    For further details on this, please see our may 16 edition of the Vermont Standard.

    School Board mulling three revised bond options

    Mountain Views Supervisory Union (MVSU) officials are examining three possible options for a school bond to fund the renovation or construction of a new Woodstock Union High School and Middle School (WUHS/MS). Voters in the seven-town school district rejected a $99 million school bond to fund construction of an all-new WUHS/MS in Town Meeting Day balloting.

    The HS/MS Working Group of the MVSU School Board is working with project architects Lavallee Brensinger, construction managers PC Construction, and project costing and value engineering firm PCI Project Consulting on detailed studies of three potential alternatives to the nearly $100 million bond proposal that voters nixed 1,910 to 1,570 on March 5. MVSU Board Vice Chair Ben Ford, who also chairs the school district’s Finance Committee and the HS/MS Working Group, discussed the pros and cons of the three possible bond proposals at the regular monthly meeting of the school governing body earlier this month.

    “We’ll have more detailed information from the working group, including an update on the options with pricing and associated costs and impacts, at the June monthly meeting,” Ford told his fellow MVSU board members at the outset of a 30-minute presentation on Monday, May 6. “Since we don’t have a meeting in July, we’ll present more details of the options to the board on June 3, share the options with the public after that meeting, most likely in survey form, and then we’ll have a special meeting of the board on June 17, hopefully to pick an option and decide to go to a bond vote in September,” Ford added in a phone conversation on Monday morning.

    In the interim between the June 3 meeting and the special board meeting planned for Monday, June 17, MVSD officials will reach out to voters in the seven-town district by a variety of means to get their take on the trio of proposals.

    A summary of the pros and cons of the three bond options that Ford presented on May 6 can be found in our May 16 edition of the Vermont Standard.

    Woodstock’s Focus Gallery moving down the street

    Focus Gallery, which has been at its prominent, center-of-town location — 1 The Green — since it opened in 2020, will be moving to 23 Elm Street on June 1 and took possession of the spot last week.

    The gallery’s three owners, Loren Fisher, Ron Lake, and Bob Wagner, originally chose 1 The Green for Focus in part because of its high profile. 

    But after learning that their landlord intended to significantly raise their rent, the owners began searching for alternative locations. “We really didn’t have a choice but to move,” said Wagner. “They cranked our rent up 150%. [It] was a real motivator to find something else right away.”

    23 Elm caught their eye because it, too, was once an exhibition space. 

    While they say they aren’t eager to leave one of the oldest buildings in town, Wagner noted that the new location has some clear advantages. “The interior space there is actually more malleable for a gallery than where we are right now,” said Wagner. “Right now, there are several spaces where we have big things hanging but people can’t stand back far enough to see the picture or get the full impact of it. We won’t have that problem there. It is a more linear space and will give people a better viewing experience.”

    Additionally, the new location offers the photographers more flexibility as they craft their displays. “We’ll be able to group photos in a more logical way to create little exhibits,” said Fisher.

    23 Elm Street can also accommodate a greater variety of events which the Focus owners hope to take advantage of. 

    Wagner says the move’s central drawback is that it will inevitably reduce the gallery’s foot traffic. “We’re moving just yards down the road. But we’re going to need to start looking for ways to get people’s attention to remind them that we’re still here, and we’re open for business. I’m not too sure how best to do it. We’re talking about lots of ideas,” said Wagner.

    Focus Gallery will continue operating at its current location through Memorial Day. “But, we’ll probably be closed the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday after Memorial Day for the move,” said Wagner. “And then, if we’re lucky, we’ll be open [at 23 Elm Street] for the first weekend of June.”

    For further details, please see our May 16 edition of the Vermont Standard.

    Farmers market season is here

    In true Vermont style, the arrival of spring is always accompanied by longer days, the lingering fear of one last hard frost, and the return of the region’s farmers markets. 

    This year, the markets’ opening days are staggered, with a new one popping up nearly every week between now and June, starting with the Mt. Tom Farmers Market on May 18. 

    Anika Eastman helps customers at the Clay Hill Corners Blueberry Farm stand at the Hartland Farmers Market several years ago. Photo Provided

    Mt. Tom Farmers Market

    Saturdays beginning May 18 to Oct.19, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    The Mt. Tom Farmers Market, which is held at the Saskadena Six parking lot, has 15 vendors signed up so far.

    Market on the Green

    Wednesdays from May 29 to Oct. 16, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

    Woodstock’s Market on the Green, hosted weekly by the Chamber of Commerce, will feature 35 vendors this year.

    In addition to several long-standing sellers such as Deep Meadow Farm, Fresh Root Farm, High Low Farm, and Brook and Blossom, this summer’s market will also contain a few new faces, including Stone Kitchen Sourdough Bakery with freshly baked donuts and Munching Moose, which sells stacks of small-batch cookies.

    Hartland Farmers Market

    Fridays from May 31 to Sept. 27, 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

    After two years operating in Windsor across from Harpoon Brewery, the Hartland Farmers Market is moving back to Hartland this year. 

    In addition to hosting a traditional array of vendors, Trisha Wass, the market manager, hopes to incorporate the town’s pizza oven into the event. 

    The market itself currently has twenty vendors, several of which sell prepared food and a full lineup of music.

    West Hartford Farmers Market

    Tuesdays from June 11 to Sept. 1, 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

    Later in the season, the West Hartford Library will open its farmers market, which will be right outside the library doors.

    In addition to browsing through the goods of the market’s 15 vendors, visitors can also participate in the variety of programming the library organizes to accompany the event.

    For further details, please see our May 16 edition of the Vermont Standard.

    Commission launches ‘Lease to Locals’ rental incentive program

    The Woodstock Economic Development Commission (EDC) has expanded its rental incentive efforts with the launch of a “Lease to Locals” pilot program, a new initiative aimed at addressing the lack of long-term housing options in Woodstock for local workers.

    The Lease to Locals initiative is designed to streamline rental incentive programs already implemented by the EDC. The new effort will operate in collaboration with Placemate, a California-based consulting and placement agency whose mission is to help local employees secure housing in tourism-based communities. The program will provide up to $9,000 in incentive payments to property owners who convert their housing units from short-term rentals, or from places that are sitting largely vacant, into year-round or seasonal rentals for the local workforce. With the approval of the Woodstock Town Selectboard, the EDC has allocated $60,000 for one year of funding for Lease to Locals and will consider a contract renewal based on program performance.

    For further details please see our May 16 edition of the Vermont Standard. 

    Health foundation elects new board president

    The Ottauquechee Health Foundation (OHF) has elected a new president, Annie Smith-Jones, to lead its board.

    Annie Smith-Jones. Photo provided.

    Although Smith-Jones is new to the organization, as she joined the board just a few weeks before she was selected to head it, she has a long history of working with nonprofits and in healthcare. After getting a bachelor’s degree in elementary special education in 1975, Smith-Jones went straight to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to earn a master’s degree in social work. She then spent nearly half a decade working at a community health center. 

    In addition to her career, Smith-Jones has also dedicated significant time to working with nonprofits. Most recently, she served for four years as the chair of the Seabrook Island Utility Commission in South Carolina and is the current treasurer of the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America’s board of directors.

    Following her election, Smith-Jones has been working to find her footing and get oriented before committing to a path forward.  She does, however, know where she wants to focus at least a portion of her efforts. “OHF started a lot of things with their past board that still need [to] come to fruition,” said Smith-Jones. She says she’s committed to seeing them through. One example is the organization’s dental van program, and she also noted that she wants to prioritize restoring OHF’s building, which is suffering from some deferred maintenance. 

    The impact of a new president will only be emphasized by the number of recent additions throughout the rest of the organization. Five of the board’s 11 members joined within the last two years, and OHF’s executive director started just last March. “We’re all still learning, and I don’t think I’ll do any drastic changes, certainly not within the first year or two,” said Smith-Jones. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’ve also got real, new energy here. Our team has the hope and promise of being able to move forward and accomplish some potentially great things.”

    For more on this, please see our May 16 edition of the Vermont Standard.

    The Standard’s "Do802" app goes live

    Do802.com, a new service of the Vermont Standard, is now live. The free, web-based app features a comprehensive calendar of events and an up-to-the-minute feed of deals, discounts, and announcements posted by local businesses. Do802 was designed to help quickly connect people to everything the Upper Valley offers. From favorite restaurants, local festivals, and unique exhibitions, to last-minute discounts on specialties and handmade Vermont products, there’s so much in the Upper Valley to take advantage of. Do802 offers a simple way to quickly find what to do so that residents and visitors alike can spend less time looking for their next experience, and more time enjoying it.

    It’s simple to use Do802. The first section is an easy-to-navigate, interactive listing of things to do for fun and fulfillment in the Upper Valley each day. The calendar on Do802 offers a great way to see what’s happening, from concerts to community events to club meetings. Rather than digging through different websites, feeds, or emails, Do802’s “What To Do” section offers a simple, fast, and comprehensive way to find the right experience every time.

    The second part shows a rolling log of special offers and announcements posted by local businesses and organizations. It features last-minute offers (e.g., “Half off muffins for the next hour!” or “Early bird special on tickets today only.”). It also includes reminders and announcements (e.g., “In thirty minutes, the band will take the stage,” or “Free book signing in two hours.”). Do802 is a way for businesses, both treasured and new, to instantly communicate with residents and tourists alike, giving users a chance to benefit whenever a bakery bakes too much bread or a matinee show doesn’t quite sell out.

    Do802 was designed by the Vermont Standard to help fund the journalism in its paper. The Standard, like all local newspapers around the country, needs additional revenue to help make up for the loss of traditional print advertising. Do802 is just one way the Standard will be deploying creative solutions to help keep its community coverage flowing. 

    Do802 is a progressive web app, which means it can behave both like a website and a mobile app. Users can go to the Do802 website on any phone, tablet, or computer. On a mobile device, they can also save Do802 to their home screen, so it is easily accessible and acts just like an app. To save Do802 to your home screen on iPhones, go to Do802.com and click the share button (a square with an arrow pointing up) at the bottom of the screen. Scroll down the list of actions before tapping on “Save to Homescreen.” On Android, the same thing can be done in the three-dot menu at the top of the screen.

    Features

    Woodstock’s Todd Snell just can’t stop climbing and plans to summit Denali this summer

    ‘I kept dreaming of bigger mountains and bigger ranges.’

    By Lauren Dorsey, Staff Writer

    It would be easy to forgive someone well-acquainted with Woodstock’s Todd Snell for not knowing about his extraordinary commitment to climbing. Contrary to the stereotype about climbers, it’s a passion he holds close to his chest and rarely mentions in passing. “I have a really tough time sharing this because I don’t want to come across as like, ‘Oh, look at me. I’m special,’” Snell told the Standard. “I struggle with that sort of inner critic.”

    The truth is that Snell is special, regularly going on the kinds of adventures that documentarians love to make movies about.

    Snell, who grew up in Braintree, Mass., began living in Woodstock Village part time in 2012, but he wanted to wait until both of his kids graduated highschool before completely relocating to the area. “Once they went off to college, it took I think about two days for us to get here and start really settling here,” said Snell. “Whether it’s gravel riding, trail running, skinning, cross country skiing, or hiking, it’s so easy to be active here. I just feel really fortunate to be living in Vermont, even though I always joke around that I’m a flatlander.” When he’s not outdoors, Snell works remotely as a consultant in medical technology and serves as board member of Vermont Adaptive.

    Snell emphasized the importance of keeping on schedule when summiting a mountain like Ama Dablam. Space at the camps, which are often in highly precarious positions, is extremely limited, and has to be reserved in advance. Pictured is Snell climbing above Camp 2 at Ama Dablam.
    Courtesy of Todd Snell

    Over his life, he has attempted over 100 alpine or technical climbs. Of those 100, about 80 of them have been above 14,000 feet.

    The pinnacle of his achievements thus far is probably a three-and-a-half-week expedition he took about a year and a half ago: summiting Ama Dablam in Nepal.

    The mountain, which peaks at 22,349 feet, represents a highly challenging technical feat. “I say Ama Dablam [is a highlight] because it had it all,” said Snell. “You had to do everything. You have to take care of yourself in the cold. You had to adapt to the altitude. You had to climb ice and rock. You had to move fast in the mountains, and you had to be super fit.”

    For Snell, the expedition, which he completed with a guide, went like clockwork. “We didn’t have any complications with altitude sickness, and we were able to stay on schedule,” said Snell. “Then as we approached the peak, we were fortunate to have a weather window with the days we needed. The weather was right there for us.”

    Snell explained that keeping to schedule on a peak like Ama Dablam is critical because space at the camps, which are set up in extremely small, precarious environments, is limited. “If you don’t make your time slots, you get cycled through and lose a window,” said Snell.

    After he summited Ama Dablam, he quickly and safely made it back down. “When you come home safe, you can summit, and you can still really enjoy the company of the people you’re with throughout the whole trip — that’s a success,” said Snell.

    Snell first discovered his love of climbing on a school trip to New Hampshire’s Mount Cardigan in the eighth grade. “I just loved the feeling of climbing a mountain,” said Snell.

    For college, he enrolled at West Point, and while he was there, he trained in a variety of rock climbing and rappelling techniques. After being stationed in Colorado, his passion began to blossom. “I wasn’t really going on expeditions then,” said Snell. “It was just a significant number of weekend climbs with my army buddies. It was a special time because we were great friends, and we have some great memories of taking on these peaks.”

    The first real expedition Snell went on was summiting Mount Rainier with a close friend. “It was just such a great thing. We went past all these guided teams and were like, ‘Hey, we can do this ourselves,’ said Snell. “That trip became a launchpad for me.”

    Snell first discovered his love for climbing after going on a school trip to Mount Cardigan in the eighth grade. Pictured is Snell climbing above Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies.
    Courtesy of Todd Snell

    Shortly afterward, he began taking courses at the American Alpine Institute and doing more technical climbs in the Cascades, the Canadian Rockies, and Mount Washington.

    After a few years, he felt ready to take on something bigger and decided to attempt the Cordillera Blanca in Peru. “That was my first time above 20,000 feet,” said Snell.

    The expedition was highly remote. “We were on a glacier for about two weeks doing a couple of different climbs and didn’t see anyone. It sort of whetted my appetite for that kind of expedition,” said Snell. “I kept dreaming of bigger mountains and bigger ranges.”

    For Snell, a climb’s remoteness and its technical challenge are not obstacles to overcome on the path to bag a summit; they are part of the appeal.

    “What I mean by remote is that usually you’re backpacking into some place before you can climb,” said Snell. In the Himalayas, Snell took two weeks to get to the base of Ama Dablam. Some routes in the Cascades have an even more intense approach. “You just get to be part of the environment. It helps me settle down and helps me sort of recharge,” said Snell. “I love the quiet and the chance to reflect.”

    Snell chooses highly technical climbs because an intense climb is one of the few things he’s found that requires absolute concentration. “Because of the risk of it, I’m quickly able to block everything out,” said Snell. “Everything just gets sort of funneled out and I’m just dealing with the rock in front of me. I love that super focus.”

    Finally, he’s drawn to the risk, especially because climbing, unlike some other extreme sports, allows him time to weigh each of his decisions. “It’s why I’m not the high-speed motorsport guy,” said Snell. Climbing is not a high-speed sport; you do have a chance to stop and assess. I think that risk management piece, to me, is also really alluring in this.”

    That said, he understands the consequences of going on such high-risk trips. He once asked Alan Arnette, one of the world’s leading authorities on the Himalayas, how he manages to leave his loved ones to go on big expeditions. “He said, ‘Leave nothing unsaid,’” said Snell. “That’s been my mantra now in life. Tell the people you love that you love them. I think that really keeps me humble and keeps me grounded.”

    In just a few weeks, Snell departs for Alaska to begin his next expedition. There, he will attempt to summit Denali. “It’s the tallest peak in North America,” said Snell. “It’s a peak that I wasn’t sure I ever really wanted to climb because it requires a different style of climbing where you’re hauling a lot of gear up the mountain to acclimatize and establish camps. It’s one of the most physically rigorous peaks in the world that’s available to the masses.”

    The two- to three-week climb will depend almost entirely on the weather. “Last year’s success rate because of the weather was 33%, and then some years it goes up to 75% or even 80% if the weather is good, so it really is a weather game,” said Snell. “I’m super excited.”

    To prepare for the attempt, Snell has been training six days a week for the past eight months.

    • Woodstock resident Todd Snell is an avid alpine climber and has attempted more than 100 alpine technical climbs over his life. Of those, 80 have been over 14,000 feet. Pictured is Snell’s 2009 summit descent, Chopakalki, Cordillera Blanca.
      Courtesy of Todd Snell

    Although he’s preparing his body for extreme environments all over the world, Snell manages to do most of his training in Vermont. “Years ago, in my 30s, I would train in the White Mountains and Appalachian Trail all the time just hauling heavy packs,” said Snell. “I found my body was just getting beat up, especially my joints.” Then, while on a climb with Christine Boskoff, who was one of America’s top female mountaineers, he asked her how she trains for her expeditions from Atlanta, Georgia, and she tipped him off to training on ski slopes. “The ski slopes don’t have the same rocks and ruggedness, so it’s easier on the joints,” said Snell. “That’s my trick. This morning, when I was working out, I did a lap with 50 pounds on Pico, and then I went down the road and did another lap up with the 50 pounds on Killington, which is like a standard morning of training for me.”

    Snell will also go to Rumney or Deer Leap to practice vertical climbing. “Right above the Inn at Long Trail is a 100 foot cliff. I set up a rope, and I’ll do laps on that rope for hours and get maybe 2000 feet in,” said Snell.

    As he continues to age, Snell is increasingly aware that he won’t be able to do intense alpine expeditions forever. “I kind of see this migration. I started as a hiker, and then I’ve been a climber most my life, but I can kind of see this progression back to being a pure hiker,” said Snell. That’s not to say that he doesn’t spend a fair amount of time hiking already—just last year, he completed the Long Trail with his daughter.

    In the meantime, he hopes to pass on some of the mentorship and guidance that made his journey into extreme climbing possible. “Unlike other sports, in the climbing world, I get to climb with my heroes,” said Snell. “I’ve always found that I’ve had this other parallel world of people that are humble, driven, and really hone their craft while in touch with themselves in the outdoors. They’ve always been a great counterpoint to me, as opposed to the corporate world.”

    He hopes that, eventually, he can pass on some of the lessons he’s learned to the next generation of athletes coming up behind him. “The thing I really want to do, and I’m trying to wrap my brain around it, is I want to make the climbing that I’ve done more communal, and I want to give back more,” said Snell. “It’s figuring out how I can either support others as they climb or bring more of the climbing world to [those] who haven’t experienced it.”

    History association establishes fund in honor of David Donath

    By Tom Ayres, Senior Staff Writer

    Prior to his untimely passing at the age of 71 in November of 2022, historian, preservationist, and museum director David Donath spent well over 40 years immersed in bringing history alive, celebrating people and places large and small, great and commonplace, with humor, respect, and boundless inquisitiveness. There was no place where Donath’s contributions to local and regional history were more substantial than here in the Upper Valley, where the celebrated historian played a central role in the establishment of Billings Farm & Museum and in service to the Woodstock Foundation, both of which he served for more than three decades.

    David Donath was hired as Director of the BF&M in 1985, became a member of the Woodstock Foundation’s Executive Committee in 1995, and was named President of the Woodstock Foundation in 1997. He retired in June 2018.

    Now Donath’s extraordinary legacy is being celebrated with the establishment of the David A. Donath Memorial Fund under the auspices of the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), the national organization that David both chaired and served as an advisory board member for nearly 40 years.

    “It’s a new fund that has been established in David’s honor,” commented John Durel in a phone conversation from his Baltimore home on Tuesday. Durel, together with his wife Anita, is a highly regarded consultant in leadership development for historical organizations, sites, and museums large and small throughout the country. He and another longtime colleague of Donath’s, Darlyne Franzen, former deputy director of Billings Farm & Museum and senior vice-president of the Woodstock Foundation, connected with AALSH officials late last year to get the memorial fund established.

    “The AASLH is a professional development organization for people who run historic sites, historical organizations, and museums. For those of us who worked in this field, it was the place to go early on in our careers,” Durel continued. “David was typical of that. He and I both got professional training and development at AASLH and over the decades, as you stay in the field and change roles, you become one of the leaders and you start to develop the standards and expectations — the best practices for historical organizations.”

    The newly established Donath Memorial Fund at the AASLH will support professional development opportunities, especially for the thousands of small historical societies that dot the country, which typically do not have the local or financial resources to provide development opportunities for their leaders and members, Durel explained. “Just to give this a bit of context,” he offered, “if you think back nearly 50 years to the U.S. Bicentennial Celebration, you had this huge growth in the number of historical societies, sites, and houses throughout the country. So we’ve got thousands of these organizations around the country who are doing this important work — and the AASLH can’t serve all of them. There are costs involved — and a lot of these small organizations just can’t afford advancement programs. Now, 50 years later, we’re raising money to create resources that will enable more historical societies to engage in professional development. That’s the path we’re on with the Donath Memorial Fund — honoring his legacy and carrying on his commitment to history as we move toward the 250th anniversary of the country’s founding.”

    Donath, Durel elaborated, “was part of a cohort of leaders who developed a thing called ‘Living History.’ Prior to his generation — my generation, too — historical organizations basically hung something on a wall or they took you on a guided tour of a home and pointed out the architecture or some furniture and that was it. David figured out how to make all this stuff come alive — telling the stories of ordinary people, not just the famous ones, staging reenactments and really engaging with people. That, of course, is what he did at Billings Farm & Museum.”

    Longtime colleagues and collaborators of Donath’s in Vermont, marking the establishment of the memorial fund, spoke glowingly of his limitless love and enthusiasm for local and regional history in the state he called home for well over 40 years. Donath graduated from the University of Vermont with B.A. and M.A. degrees in history before moving on to a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin and leadership of the noted Strawberry Banke historic site in Portsmouth, N.H., from whence he came to Woodstock at Laurance Rockefeller’s invitation in 1985.

    “I got to know David through the Vermont Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, where we served together for 25 years,” said Giovanna Peebles, the first Vermont state archaeologist, who stepped down from that role in 2014 after 38 years of service.  “David was always so well prepared and thoughtful — always thinking, always looking beyond, so out of the box,” Peebles commented on Tuesday. “You might have a very plain building up in the islands of Lake Champlain and you’d never know that it was architecturally significant: you could hardly tell what was buried under it. To David, however, it was all about the historical context — he knew, in fact, that the house was one of the earliest log cabins built on the islands and that led to the telling of a whole other story. He was the guy asking so many wonderful questions, all the time.

    • Governor James Douglas, left, and David Donath, right, at the Governor’s Summit at Billings Farm & Museum, July 12-14, 2005. Image courtesy of the Billings Family Archives, The Woodstock Foundation, Inc.

    Peebles added that her longtime friend and colleague had “this passion for the broadest view of history and for embracing the great diversity of history,” including Vermont’s considerable archaeological heritage. “He championed the written history, but he also understood why archaeology was so important because often people did not leave a written record. David advocated really poking into history in all its aspects — to really understand what happened and who made it happen.”

    Writing in a recent edition of the Vermont History Journal, a biannual publication of the Vermont Historical Society, Peebles eulogized Donath, while also announcing the kickoff of the memorial fund at the AASLH.  “Into each room he entered, David brought warmth, humor, and a huge smile that served to bring people together and get great work accomplished. He loved stories, he was full of stories and — a rare gift — he knew their power to bring people together, illustrate ideas, and create community,” Peebles wrote.

    Ellen Pomeroy, the former chair of the Woodstock Foundation and one of two executors of the estate of the late Laurance S. Rockefeller, whose philanthropy led to the establishment of both the Billings Farm & Museum and the Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Historical Park in Woodstock, also reflected on the life and legacy of David Donath this past week.

    “I think it’s important to note that when Laurance Rockefeller brought David to Woodstock, he didn’t have a job description,” Pomeroy noted. “David created the position of leading Billings Farm & Museum and heading the Woodstock Foundation. He saw the possibilities, saw what needed to be done, and then he just did it. He was completely devoted to the organization and to creating a legacy for Laurance. He was a consummate historian, exceedingly personable, and a good manager. He let people do things on their own: he wasn’t constantly hovering over them — and he had very good relationships within the community. He could talk to most anybody and find some sort of common point to carry on a conversation.”

    It’s that aspect of Donath’s character — the propensity to connect with people and to immerse himself in their histories — that will now be carried on in the professional development opportunities offered to small local historical organizations throughout the United States with funding from the David A. Donath Memorial Fund at the American Association for State and Local History.

    To learn more about the Donath Fund and the AASLH and contribute to the organization’s professional development efforts, visit aaslh.org/about/donate.

    Woodstock chef Emery Gray named executive pastry chef at Trapp Family Lodge

    By Lauren Dorsey, Staff Writer

    After five years as a pastry chef at the Woodstock Inn and three as the Farm to Table manager at Billings Farm, Emery Gray will be returning to the Vermont culinary scene beginning Saturday as the new executive pastry chef at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe. Gray, who has been working in Boston for the past year, will be stepping into her new role just two days before the April 8 eclipse is predicted to bring swarms of travelers to the area. “What a way to start. It’s going to be incredible,” Gray told the Standard. “I’m ready to jump in with both feet. It’ll be just like the thick of foliage season.”

    Gray’s love of baking began early. She knew she wanted to be a chef when she was in the third or fourth grade. By the time she entered high school, Gray had begun pursuing her dream in earnest, attending a culinary arts program for all four years. Courtesy of Emery Gay

    Gray’s love of baking bloomed early, during long afternoons spent helping her grandmother create delicacies and share them with her family. “It’s very cliche, the whole ‘baking with your grandmother when you were younger’ [story], but it really sparked my love and joy for food,” said Gray. “I knew I wanted to be a chef probably since the third or the fourth grade.” 

    Gray began pursuing her dream in earnest long before most people have any notion of what their future careers might be, attending a culinary arts program for all four years of high school. By the time she graduated in 2007, Gray had decided to specialize in pastries and began studying at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.

    Throughout her journey, Gray has always strived for perfection; the slim margin of error inherent to baking is part of what drew her to it in the first place. “I’m such a rule follower in life that I really love the specific set of instructions and the exact way a recipe has to come together. You have to follow the ratios and the rules,” said Gray. “Pastry requires so much finesse and concentration to create, and I don’t [just want to create]. I want people to sit down and say, ‘That was the best that I’ve ever had.’”

    After earning a bachelor’s in business management, Gray’s love of pastries eventually landed her at the Woodstock Inn in 2015. “I love the variety that a hotel/resort setting offers,” said Gray. “You get to challenge yourself in many ways and focus on so many different facets of pastry from making breads to wedding cakes.” 

    While at the Inn, Gray worked her way up. By the end of her tenure, she had designed the pastry menus for both the Red Rooster and the Tavern. “There were a lot of opportunities there to learn and grow,” she said, “and eventually getting to put my dishes out for people to enjoy was really wonderful.”

    After half a decade, however, Gray was ready to try something new, so she hopped over to Billings Farm & Museum. In her new role, Gray oversaw the museum’s cheese production, expanded their food offerings, and taught cooking classes.

    • Gray’s love of pastries stems, at least in part, from her love of perfection. The strict rules, tiny margins of error, and specific methods drew her in from the very beginning.
      Courtesy of Emery Gray

    Gray noted that she felt her position at Billings was pretty close to perfect. “Billings allowed me to use my business degree and grow their food programming from the ground up, which was an incredible experience because I got to be creative. I got to try things and while some things worked and some things didn’t, overall, I really liked it,” said Gray. 

    However, Gray’s life in Woodstock changed in the wake of the lawsuit filed in early 2023 by members of the Woodstock Foundation Board. Gray says she ultimately decided to leave Billings Farm. “Unfortunately, my moral compass directed me to take a step back from Billings Farm, because I didn’t exactly agree with what was going on,” said Gray. “The minute you lose trust with senior management, I think that’s when it’s time to go.”

    Gray has spent the last year working at an Italian restaurant in Boston, called Fox & the Knife, as an assistant pastry chef. “It has been a wonderful year exploring Boston and getting immersed in the culture, creativity, and constant movement,” said Gray. “There are also way more young people in Boston than there ever were in Woodstock, which was kind of shocking at first.” 

    Although she’s thrilled to come back to the area, Gray did not expect her stay in Boston to end quite so soon. “Moving back to Vermont in 2024 was not on my bingo card at all. But lo and behold, I saw the job advertisement for the Trapp Family Lodge and decided to go for it,” said Gray. “I was very pleased and excited to be offered the position.”

    The Lodge, which was founded by the famed von Trapp family immortalized in the “Sound of Music,” maintains close ties to Austria, a relationship which Gray plans to harness. “The challenge and the fun part about that is how to highlight and honor the culture of Austria while also changing the way you think about what a Linzer torte can look like, and what its texture and flavor can be.”

    In addition to maintaining some of the lodge’s oldest traditions, Gray is also looking to add a few things to their repertoire. “I’m definitely excited about possibly bringing a wedding cake program to the Trapp Lodge,” said Gray. “Currently [all] of their wedding cakes get contracted out, so being able to get in and introduce wedding cakes, hopefully in 2025, is something that I will strive for.” 

    Gray, in typical fashion, however, wants to ensure that any wedding cakes she has a hand in are miles beyond average. “Not only does the cake have to look great, but it also has to taste great,” said Gray. “I’ve had lots of wedding cakes that look amazing, but don’t taste so hot. If I can change the culture of wedding cakes, and bring it to Stowe, that would be really special and wonderful.”

    At the cusp of such an exciting new chapter, Gray took a moment to emphasize the importance of relishing the moment. “As a chef, I just want to encourage everyone that wherever they go to eat, there’s someone creative behind the scenes putting their heart and soul into a dish that they create,” said Gray. “Someone’s hard work and creativity is on the plate in front of you and it can feel really special to slow down and just sit, enjoy, and savor.”

    102-year-old Dorianne Guernsey is the last of the ‘grande dames’ of Woodstock

    By Tom Ayres , Senior Staff Writer

    Lifelong friends and acquaintances describe beloved Woodstock centenarian Dorianne Guernsey as adventuresome, inquisitive, and passionate about people, the arts, and culture.

    Guernsey, who turned 102 last October, is the last of what her longtime friend and caregiver, Tina Miller, calls “the grande dames of Woodstock,” a quartet that included the late Polly Billings, Jane Curtis, and Ann Debevoise, each of whom has passed away in recent times. Guernsey survives her Upper Valley friends of nearly six decades.

    Dorianne Carolyn Downe and Otis Guernsey Jr. were wed in the chapel of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York City on Dec. 11, 1943. Courtesy of Dorianne Guernsey

    The story of Guernsey’s extraordinary life unfolds at the intersection of three quintessential and successful American families of the mid-20th Century — the Guernseys, Graffs, and Neffs. It’s also the story of nearly 60 years of connection with the arts, culture, and politics of Woodstock, Pomfret, and the surrounding communities for the engaging 102-year-old. When a visitor joined Guernsey for lunch at her Mountain Avenue home in Woodstock last Thursday, the pair pored over lovingly assembled scrapbooks and photo collections that document Guernsey’s extraordinary life, in addition to spotlighting the countless friends and admirers from the Woodstock area who’ve feted her at both her 90th birthday celebration in 2011 and a centenary gathering at the Lakota Club in October 2021. Subsequent conversations with decades-long friends and admirers of the engaging Guernsey further fleshed out her compelling biography.

    Born to industrialist George Downe and his wife, Vera Strauss Downe in Bayonne, N.J., on October 15, 1921, Dorianne’s storied path took her to France between the World Wars, to London and Switzerland during her adolescent school years, and then back to the United States after World War II, where she met and married the distinguished journalist Otis Guernsey Jr., the chief theater and film critic of the long-ago citadel of New York City journalism, the Herald-Tribune. Otis also edited the celebrated “Best Plays” collection, annual tributes to the best new American plays, for nearly 40 years, and was the longtime head of the Drama Quarterly magazine.

    When the Herald-Tribune ceased publication in the mid-1960s, Otis and Dorianne opted to uproot themselves from their spacious New York apartment and the abundant Manhattan cultural scene and relocate to a farmhouse in North Pomfret, where one of Otis’ Tribune colleagues, fellow arts and entertainment reporter and critic Bert McCord, had purchased a home in the late 1950s. The Guernseys soon persuaded another New York friend, Patricia “Patsy” Kassner Graff, to visit them in Vermont, setting up a sort of “blind date” between Patsy, who had tragically lost her husband at the young age of just 45, and eligible bachelor McCord. The pair hit it off famously and, within time, Patsy married McCord and moved to North Pomfret with her two sons, Wesley Jr., then 14, and Chris Graff, 12.

    Dorianne’s lifelong bond with Patsy Graff McCord and another childhood friend, the late Eric Neff, goes back to those years between World Wars I and II in France when Guernsey’s father George Downe was a European representative for the American Radiator Company, Patsy’s dad Lacey Kassner was the head of distribution for Columbia Pictures in Europe, working closely with the likes of Charlie Chaplin, and Eric Neff’s father Lewis was a prominent banker and commodities broker. It was an exciting time for a trio of close friends — Dorianne, Patsy, and Eric — separated by only a few years in age and inseparable in youthful pursuits such as frolicking on the summertime beaches of Normandy and Saint-Jean-de-Luz or romping in Parc Monceau, near the Downe’s family’s apartment in Paris.

    Lifelong friend, the late Eric Neff toasted his beloved childhood pal Dorianne Guernsey at a 90th birthday celebration at the Simon Pearce Restaurant in Quechee on Oct. 15, 2011. Courtesy of Dorianne Guernsey

    It took the advance of World War II and the German occupation of France to separate the three friends, albeit only for the time being. The Neffs returned safely to their native New York before the war began in 1939. Dorianne’s and Patsy’s escape from the advancing Nazi forces was especially harrowing — part of the cement that bonded the two, plus Patsy’s younger sister Pammy, for a lifetime.

    In the summer of 1940, Dorianne, her mother, and the Kassner’s mom Priscilla moved to Saint Jean-de-Luz and rented a big house. They stayed there for ten months, swimming in the ocean. Dorianne learned to drive there when she turned 17. With the Germans approaching Paris, 750 kilometers north of their beachside idyll, the Downes, Kassners, and several other friends and relatives opted to leave southern France. When it came time to leave, they learned that they could take only one suitcase and a limited amount of cash. Dorianne’s mother Vera and her Aunt Ethel piled into one car for the torturous escape trip into Spain, while neophyte driver Dorianne chauffeured her friends Patsy and Pammy, their mom Priscilla, and all the entourage’s worldly belongings in another vehicle. Dorianne recollected that she fretted throughout the trip, trying to avoid all the abandoned vehicles and people fleeing on foot along the road. She got in the last vehicle line out of France and crossed into Spain, where the Downes sold the car, boarded a train to Lisbon, and caught the famed S.S. Manhattan ocean liner to New York. The Kassners followed later, first to Los Angeles and then to New York.

    The Neffs, back stateside for two years, stayed in touch with both the Downe and Kassner families — and subsequently the Guernseys as well. Eric Neff, like Patsy Kassner, remained a devoted, lifelong friend of Dorianne’s, visiting her frequently over nearly 70 years, wherever the Neff and Guernsey families’ travels led them. “We would see them whenever we were back here in the states,” 84-year-old Nancy Neff said in a phone call from her Burbank, Calif. home last Friday. “My husband was in the Foreign Service — the State Department, so we lived abroad. I met up with Dorianne for the first time when we were on leave and I was pregnant with Rebecca,” she added. “Over the years, we traveled a lot together — to Italy and Greece and, of course, France. I remember we celebrated my husband’s 80th birthday in Sicily.”

    Rebecca Neff Short, who was born in 1972, also participated in the phone chat about Dorianne. “I was a little girl most of the time I was around Otis and Dorianne,” she offered. Short refers to the Guernseys as aunt and uncle, even though they are not blood relatives. “I always remember how much vitality Dorianne had,” Short said. “She was just a constant presence in my father’s mind. She visited us when we lived in Brussels. She’s my godmother, so we’ve always been in contact, ever since I was a little girl,” the 52-year-old added. “She’s just been this vibrant presence in my life for as long as I can remember.”

    Dorianne Downe met Otis Guernsey Jr. through her Aunt Margot shortly after settling in New York. Soon they were seeing one another often, sharing evenings at such fashionable Manhattan hangouts as the famous Stork Club. Dorianne Carolyn Downe became Mrs. Otis L. Guernsey in the chapel of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church on Park Avenue in New York City on December 11, 1943. Soon, Otis’ long tenure as the theater critic and entertainment editor for the Herald-Tribune began to blossom, while Dorianne worked as a publicist for Boeing and General Motors. The couple lived at 9 East 10th Street in Greenwich Village, where Dorianne frequently strolled through Washington Square Park with her poodle, Morgan, and miniature Schnauzer, Bingo.

    • Dorianne Guernsey struck a classic, fashionable pose in this undated beachside photograph from Martha’s Vineyard in the late 1940s or early 1950s.
      Courtesy of Dorianne Guernsey

    For the next 15 years, it was a captivating, charming life, with Dorianne serving as an engaged, insightful adviser to Otis, counseling him on his work and play selections for the “Best Plays” series. The two were central figures in the exploding arts and culture scene of postwar Manhattan. Sailing also became a constant in Dorianne’s and Otis’ lives during this period, whether it was sailing from Bridgeport, Conn., along Martha’s Vineyard, or up and down the East Coast — even traveling to Australia to watch the New York Yacht Club try to recapture the America’s Cup. 

    Then, in the mid-1960s, as the Herald-Tribune fell into financial turmoil, the Guernseys turned their world upside down and left their year-round environs in hyperactive New York, joining their good friend Bert McCord in pastoral North Pomfret. Otis continued to edit the annual “Best Plays” series, which he compiled for 36 years from 1964 until 2000 and carried on at the helm of Drama Quarterly, the respected television, film, and drama publication. Regular business trips back to New York were standard fare for the theater critic, while Dorianne immersed herself in the Woodstock area social and cultural scenes. She joined with Polly Billings and other community leaders, including Gennie Carouso, Patsy Niles, and Bob Belisle in helping to found Pentangle Arts, and volunteered at several Woodstock area art galleries, most notably the late Ellison Lieberman’s Gallery 2 in the 1970s and ‘80s.

    An inveterate reader, Dorianne long participated in a monthly book club with her cherished friends Curtis, Debevoise, and Billings. Wesley Graff Jr., who spent his teenage years in Pomfret with his mom, Patsy Kassner Graff McCord, and then went on to head the film department at UVM and be a celebrated documentary filmmaker, remembers two things in particular about the Woodstock area “grande dames” that were especially memorable from his youth.

    “Dorianne, my mother, Ann Debevoise, and Jane Curtis would all get together for what they called their ‘Frunch’ Club, because they all spoke French. They’d get together for lunch somewhere once a week and speak to each other in French,” Graff said, chuckling. The 73-year-old filmmaker, who retired from UVM in 2011, also fondly remembers how Dorianne and her friend Billings advocated for him in his “long-haired hippie days” when he had a novel idea for a Christmastime pursuit along The Green in Woodstock Village. “I wanted to roast chestnuts and just give them away on the main street there in the Village. The selectboard said that sounded crazy and they wouldn’t let me do it. But Dorianne and Polly spoke to them and they changed their minds and said I could do it. I still remember having a great time, standing there with that hibachi,” Graff enthused. “Dorianne was always there for our family gatherings,” Graff, who now lives in Fairlee, added. “There’s so much history there. She was just so much fun — and she and Otis were always family. My wife and I still get down to Woodstock four or five times a year to visit Dorianne.”

    Shortly before he passed away in 2001 at the age of 82, Otis Guernsey persuaded Dorianne to leave the North Pomfret farmstead and move into a smaller, more manageable home on Mountain Avenue in Woodstock Village. The centenarian lives there to this day, cared for in recent years by her friend Miller and visited regularly by a coterie of friends and neighbors who continue to hold her dear. Mountain Avenue neighbor Linda Smiddy first met Dorianne when she settled into her new abode across the street and they’ve been fast friends ever since.

    “I often go and visit Dorianne and we sit there and go through those scrapbooks and she shares her memories,” Smiddy said last weekend. “She’s just incredible, with all those stories of growing up in France and all the ballets and theater she so thoroughly enjoyed in New York. She’s just so passionate about the arts. She’s had a very sophisticated life. I remember when she and I used to look out over Faulkner Park and talk about books. I’d be out in the yard and she’d be walking her dog and we would stay there for ages, just talking about various forms of literature.”

    Sports

    Wasps Softball rallies for first win of the season

    By Robert Shumskis, Standard Correspondent

    Woodstock’s softball team pulled out their first win of the season at home last Friday in spectacular fashion against the Twin Valley Wildcats with a score of 17-9. After trailing in the first half, the Wasps rallied to finish strong, making coach Angela Allard hopeful for the remaining 6 games of the season.

    Going into this matchup, the softball unit had endured a rough season by losing their first 7 games. However, Coach Allard and her girls have tried to remain resilient, as evidenced by their ability to turn this one in their favor. After the first three innings, the Wasps were down 8-6. In the 4th, they got a spark, scoring six runs while holding Twin Valley to none. Over the final two innings, they outscored Twin Valley 5-1.

    Coach Allard, who is now in her third season in that role, credited the entire team for pushing through but did highlight the performance of three specific players. “Cameron Allard hit a homerun, so that was good,” along with solid pitching, the coach said. Cameron enthusiastically responded, “My homerun was exciting and it gave me a lot of motivation throughout the game to keep positive.” The coach added, “We had Charley Crowley at shortstop. She made some good plays over there. Lucia Rullo, on first, did a good job getting people out.”

    The coach pointed out another pivotal factor for the win: experience. “This was a more even matchup. We’re a very young team and I think they’re a young team,” Coach Allard said. The Wasps have two seniors, two juniors, several sophomores, and six freshmen. “One of our juniors has never played softball before, plus the younger girls who have never played. They’re green and young,” the coach explained.

    Crowley said that she and her teammates have been practicing determinedly to improve their individual skills and functioning as a squad. “I am very happy that we were able to get the win on Friday. I feel like our hard work and commitment in practice has really paid off. With having a lot of the players on our team being new to softball and our team in general, we have come a long way from the beginning of the year,” she concluded optimistically.

    Now the coach and her team are looking beyond this win as a new start, by focusing on the momentum from it to carry them through the remaining six games of the year. “Our girls kept their heads up the whole time. We made some mistakes but then came right back,” she stated proudly. She continued by saying that their collective ability to rebound is their best attribute. “They are a really young team, but I think this will give them a push and some excitement. Hopefully, they will pull out more wins.”

    The players echoed those sentiments. Crowley said, “I am hoping to see our team keep up with the good work and hopefully be able to win some more games in the future.” Cameron Allard followed, “As the first win of the season, I think it definitely motivated our girls to keep positive and keep trying. I think that most certainly this win will benefit our team tremendously, as we now know what we are capable of doing if we put 110% effort in.” They will face Twin Valley again in their final game, on May 31.

    Wasps pitcher Cameron Allard throws the ball from the pitching mound against Twin Valley on Friday.  Rick Russell Photo

    For further details, please see our May 16 edition of the Vermont Standard.

    Boys Lacrosse had an exceptional Senior Night

    On Monday night, the Woodstock Union High School (WUHS) Boys Lacrosse team defeated the Brattleboro Bears with a final score of 16-4, bringing the Wasps up to 6-3 for the season. Before the game, the senior boys were celebrated by their teammates, friends, and family on the field.

    For further details, please see our May 16 edition of the Vermont Standard.

    The Wasps’ senior players lined up with their families for a photo before the game. Dave Gershman Photo

    400+ Raced in this year's Overland TRAIL, hosted by Ascutney Outdoors

    More than 400 runners towed the start line at Ascutney Outdoors on Saturday, May 11, for the 3rd annual Overland TRAIL — a 15-mile all-surface, all-terrain foot race in West Windsor. The race boasted a $5,000 cash prize purse split evenly between the men and women for the past three years and is known to attract some of the country’s best runners.

    The race took runners through forests, up hills, and across fields with scenic views of the spring countryside. Photo courtesy of Ansel Dickey

    For further details, please see our May 16 edition of the Vermont Standard. 

    Video features

    Interview with Woodstock Planning and Zoning Director Steven Bauer

    Obituaries

    Paul Bruce McMorris

    Paul Bruce McMorris was born in Glen Cove, N.Y., on March 29, 1958. He attended Lutheran Middle and High School in Brookville, N.Y. After graduating from Paul Smith’s College, Paul moved to Vermont to pursue his passion for downhill skiing. Teaching skiing was something that Paul enjoyed, and his patience and perseverance were traits that he practiced while teaching people the art of downhill skiing.

    It was at Suicide Six that Paul met Lynn Jillson who became his wife. Early in their marriage, Paul and Lynn enjoyed traveling to many places. They skied in Switzerland and Paul went scuba diving in the Caribbean. Accommodations ranged from luxurious (resorts) to primitive (camping).

    Paul’s interests extended beyond the outdoors. An avid reader, Paul’s vast book collection ranged from the classics to poetry to WWII. Science fiction, westerns, and military history were among his favorites. Paul was quite the writer. He wrote numerous ski and travel articles and had a weekly ski article in The Valley News. In 2000, he co-authored The Insider’s Guide to Vermont. Paul also wrote a novel about eco-terrorism.

    Paul leaves behind his loving wife Lynn, devoted dog Armando, father Bruce, brother David, favorite cousin Jane, and several nieces and nephews.

    Donations in Paul’s name can be made to the Weston Priory where Paul was a faithful congregant, and Lucy MacKenzie Humane Society.

    A burial service was held at the Taftsville Burying Ground. An online guestbook can be found at cabotfh.com.

    “Resentment is caustic,

    Compassion is healing,

    Love is creative.”

    — Weston Priory

    Derek Lamson Siegler

    Derek Lamson Siegler, a devoted son, husband, father and friend passed away suddenly on April 29, 2024 from heart failure. He was a kind, compassionate person, who expressed his feelings in his music, art and writing. He loved Vermont where he was most at home walking in nature, skiing in the mountains or swimming in rivers and lakes. Give him a fishing rod, a barbecue and a board game at the lake and he was in his element. People gravitated to his easy smile, accepting manner and willingness to listen. In his nearly 40 years he touched the lives of many people through his education in Brownsville, Woodstock and Burlington; his music, his career as a mechanical engineer, and his many social interactions with friends.

    He was known as a specialist in the design of environmentally sound heating and cooling systems for colleges and large commercial and manufacturing buildings throughout New England. He left the world a better place and those whom he loved with a void in their hearts.

    He leaves behind his wife of nine years, Cara Montgomery; six-year-old son, Marlo; his brothers: Devon and Nate (wife-Brooke); and nephews: Jasper, Nash and Jax; his grandmother, Joan Lamson of New London, N.H.; his parents, Ted and Cindy of Brownsville; as well as his large extended family and many close friends. He would want us to give a hug, take a walk by the river, cook some food for good friends, and find joy in life. Please honor his wishes.

    If you feel the need for more, you can make a donation to Marlo’s education fund at: bit.ly/dereksiegler.

    Beverly Jane (Smith) Herrick

    Beverly Jane (Smith) Herrick, a true warrior and beloved by all who knew her, passed away at the McClure-Miller Respite House on Friday, April 12 after battling both neuroendocrine and lung cancer for years. She was 84 years old. The family thanks the staff at the Respite House for their support and the tenderness with which they cared for Beverly in her last days.

    Beverly was born on October 7, 1939 in Hanover, N.H. to Wardie and Doris Smith (Horton). Beverly’s early years were spent in Keene, N.H. where she attended a one-room schoolhouse. She had fond memories of walking to a house nearby, pulling a wagon in the spring and fall and a sled in the winter, to retrieve the hot lunches made for the students by the woman who lived there. 

    Beverly’s family later moved to Taftsville, where Wardie worked as a mechanic and night watchman. Beverly attended Woodstock High School where she excelled academically, played snare drum in the marching band and was crowned homecoming queen her senior year. Upon graduating in 1957, Beverly declined an offer to have college paid for her by a local family and instead chose to take a job as secretary to the principal of Woodstock High School. It was here that she met the love of her life, John B. Herrick, who had just taken a teaching job at the school. They were married six months later and had two children.

    Work brought the young family to Burlington, where John taught at Edmunds Middle School. Beverly worked many years for the Chittenden Bank in downtown Burlington and made many close friends. After retiring from the Chittenden, she worked at City Drug and volunteered for years for both The Fletcher Free Library and the Ethan Allen House, both in Burlington. Beverly was a regular supporter of the VT Food Shelf and the VT Young Writer’s Project. She wasn’t a joiner — with the exception of her bowling league — but enjoyed hosting get-togethers with family and friends as well as reading, gardening, walking, and exploring Vermont. She was fiercely independent and cared for her husband during his battle with Alzheimer’s and Cancer right up until he died. Her love for him was unconditional and inspiring.

    Beverly is predeceased by beloved husband John. Many fun times and memories were made during their long marriage. They had two children who are forever grateful to have had such loving, supportive, and accepting parents. She was also predeceased by her parents and her sister Margaret Wilson. She leaves behind her children, Laurinda Hulce and her husband, Barry; her son, Christian Herrick; and her grandchildren: Zoe Hulce, Gwynevere Hulce, Ethan Herrick, and Zander Herrick. She also leaves many other beloved friends and family members both near and far.

    The family would like to thank Leon Emmons and his wife Linda for their support of Beverly over the years, especially since the death of her husband John, who Leon had been friends with since they were both 5 years old. 

    Special thanks also to Beverly’s niece and lifelong friend, Lois Silva, who spent the last few days of Beverly’s life with the family at the Respite House and provided more support than can be put into words. 

    Beverly will be forever missed. A small graveside service will be held at a later date to fulfill Beverly and John’s wish that their ashes be combined and then buried at Lakeview Cemetery on North Avenue in Burlington.

    The family asks that donations honoring Beverly be made directly to either the Chittenden County Humane Society, The Vermont Foodshelf, or the McClure-Miller Respite House. Please visit awrfh.com to share your memories and condolences.

    Kelly Flora (Bagley) Kangas

    Our sunshine, Kelly Flora (Bagley) Kangas left this world far too early on Thursday, April 25 from complications of an illness at the Jack Byrne Center. Kelly entered this world the last of four children on September 6, 1979, just minutes behind her twin brother, Daniel. Known for her independent, fun-loving personality, Kelly was a child who melted the hearts of all who met her while she moved mountains.

    Kelly attended the Developmental Center in Woodstock, before continuing her education at the Woodstock Elementary School. She completed her educational career graduating from Woodstock Union High School in 1999. While in school, she competed in spelling bees, the Special Olympics, played softball, and volunteered at VINS. Kelly made many lifelong friends along the way.

    Kelly was a lover of animals, family, and friends but her greatest love was her husband, Michael Kangas, who she married on September 8, 2009, in a garden ceremony at her great aunties’ house in Quechee. Kelly and Mike were inseparable.  Together they loved to travel and expand their fur family which included many cats, rodents, and reptiles. Her dog, Gracie, was with her in her final days.

    Independence was important to Kelly. She worked when her health allowed her and left her mark in many places of employment, including the Mountain Creamery, Price Chopper, Dartmouth College, Kmart, Little Caesars, and the Union Arena. Kelly grew up in Bridgewater but she and Mike spent many years living with Kelly’s great aunties in Quechee. They then set out on their own, living in White River Junction and Grey, Maine, but have most recently made their home in Hartford, Vt.

    Kelly was predeceased by her grandparents, Winston and Hazel; her great aunties, Nellie, Pat, Barbara, and Kay; her great Uncle David; her Uncle Alan (she will forever be his Gertrude); and her hero, our father, Daniel. Kelly leaves behind a wealth of people whose hearts she touched in her short life, including but not limited to her loving husband, Michael; her mother, Cheryl; her twin brother, Daniel II (Danielle); and her sisters, Kristi and Katrina (Daniel).  She will be remembered by her nephew Joss and her niece Gracie; her former brother in law, Jeremy; by many aunts and uncles; even more cousins, including her special cousins Shane, Jeremi, Mary, and Pam. More importantly, Kelly had many friends who are feeling her loss and we, her family, want to thank them for loving and supporting her along her journey.

    Funeral services will be held on Friday, May 10 at 1 p.m. at the Hilltop Cemetery in Quechee. A celebration of life will follow at our family home in Bridgewater. Because Kelly had such a love of animals, contributions may be made to the Lucy Mackenzie Humane Society or the Jack Byrne Center in honor of their short but amazing care. Cabot Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.

    An online guestbook can be found at cabotfh.com.

    Phyllis Bulmer

    Phyllis Bulmer passed away at home on April 13 in Ashland, Oregon at age 93. She lived with her husband Jim in Bridgewater, Vermont for 28 wonderful years at their beloved home, Uppermowing. In 2020 they moved to Mountain Meadows in Ashland to be close to family.

    Phyllis was born on October 31, 1930, in Red Bank, New Jersey to Dorothy and Sydney McLean. She grew up on the historic McLean family apple farm in Middletown, NJ where her father taught her to drive a truck around the farm when she was 12. In 1962, when the McLean farm became the set for the movie The Miracle Worker, Phyllis was thrilled to be on set during the filming and loved telling stories about meeting Patty Duke.

    Phyllis graduated from Linden Hall Academy in 1948 and Carnegie Mellon University in 1952. Afterward, she moved to New York City where she met Jim. They were married on April 30, 1955, in a church filled with apple blossoms from the McLean farm. 

    One of the many things that made Phyllis so unique was her adventurous spirit. I think the time it first became evident was after college when she and three friends took a ten week camping trip across the country. From there, that spirit grew. Numerous camping trips exposed her family to all kinds of adventures. The greatest of these took place in 1971, when as a housewife in New Jersey, she got her husband and two young children to go on a week-long canoe trip in the wilderness in Canada. Another manifestation of this contagious spirit was when she started kayaking; friends soon also bought kayaks to go with her and in a short amount of time, a women’s group formed that went out weekly.  At summer’s end the group would meet at Squam Lake for a weekend of paddling and celebration. Phyllis also enjoyed traveling the world with her husband. One of her most memorable trips was an adventure cruise to the Arctic Circle. 

    Phyllis was a lifelong volunteer. She was active in the Junior League of Monmouth County (NJ), King’s Daughters (VT), The Flower Guild of St. James Episcopal Church (VT) and The Ashland Food Project (OR).  Phyllis served on the Board of Directors for the Lucy Mackenzie Humane Society (VT) and enjoyed reading to children at Zach’s Place in Woodstock. 

    Phyllis loved being creative. She and Jim did the finishing work on their home in Vermont. She was an avid knitter and loved telling friends she was “a hooker”. Phyllis made many hooked rugs in her lifetime and enjoyed laughing with her hooking group of friends. Her treasured rugs feature animals, flowers and Vermont landscapes. 

    Phyllis was a life-long dog lover and advocate. From the Beagle pups she played with as a child on the McLean farm, to her German Shorthair Pointers and Labradors, she always had dog pals. She adored her dogs Herman, Bobo, Jenny, Spot, Stitch, Harvey, Little Bit, Lightning, Luke, Katie and Kevin. 

    Phyllis is survived by her devoted husband of 67 years, Jim Bulmer, her children Jeb Bulmer and Blair Johnson, her grand-children Chelsea Johnson (Ryan), Caitlin Falzone (Jeff), Clay Johnson and Nathan Bulmer (Julissa), and her great-grandchildren Waylon Bulmer, Rowan Stenson, and Daxton Bulmer.  

    In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution in Phyllis’ memory to New England Lab Rescue, Lucy Mackenzie Humane Society, or Zach’s Place.

    Dennis Raymond Carroll

    Dennis Raymond Carroll was born on July 4, 1942 in Rahway, N.J., to Frank Joseph Carroll and Hildur Margaret Carroll. He was called back to God on April 9, 2024 in Cathedral City, Calif., surrounded by the loving support of his wife, Carol Carroll, son, Matt Carroll, sister Alice Thompson, niece Peggie Jimcosky, and nephew, Scott Thompson. He is also survived and will be missed by his nieces Elizabeth Condren and Jennifer Barga; nephews Sean Condren, Hilary Condren, and Colin Condren; all their wonderful families, and his many great friends, former students, and colleagues.

     Dennis graduated from Seton Hall University, with a degree in Classics, in 1964, and began teaching high school English and Latin in Governor Livingston, N.J.

     On Aug. 3 of 1969, Dennis married Carol Condren. It was apparently such a case of true love that she gladly changed her name to Carol Carroll. Dennis and Carol had an amazingly wonderful, loving marriage, filled with joy, laughter, kindness, and goodness. They were soulmates in the purest sense and their marriage lasted fifty-four years. On November 10th of 1973, they welcomed their only son, Matt, and the three of them had fifty glorious years as a loving, very happy family.

     A naturally charismatic and gifted teacher, Dennis devoted his career to education. He and Carol moved to Woodstock in 1977 and both taught at Woodstock Union High School. They loved their years in Woodstock, where Dennis eventually transitioned into administration and the position of Vice Principal. In 1986 Dennis moved to Long Island, N.Y., with Carol and Matt, and became the Middle School Director for Woodmere Academy, in Woodmere, N.Y. He went on to serve as the Upper School Director, for the newly named Lawrence Woodmere Academy and in 1994 he became the Headmaster. He served as Lawrence Woodmere Academy’s Headmaster for nine years and both loved and took great pride in that responsibility. He also formed close friendships with coworkers, parents, and students that endured the rest of his life. After retiring to Palm Springs with Carol in 2004, he continued to teach on a part-time basis at College of the Desert.

    Inspired by an insatiable appetite for life, Dennis devoted himself to his loved ones and was always there when one of them needed support. He had a wonderful sense of humor, loved to make people laugh, and was known for his own hearty, genuine, and unrestrained laughter. Dennis and Carol both gave generously of their time and energy to their church communities in Vermont, New York, and most recently at Our Lady of Solitude in Palm Springs.

     Special thanks to Our Lady of Solitude, where the funeral service will be held on Saturday, May 18th at 12 p.m. And a world of gratitude to the gifted and generous care providers at The Palms at La Quinta.

     Please honor Dennis’s memory with kind acts toward others, the indulgence of laughter with family and friends, and perhaps a remembrance to a favorite charity of your own.

    Myrtle Biathrow

    Myrtle Biathrow, 88, died Saturday afternoon April 27, 2024 at Pine Heights in Brattleboro, Vt.

    Myrtle was born on January 19, 1936 in Hanover, N.H. the daughter of Phillip H. and Laura (Powell) Biathrow. She graduated from Woodstock High School in 1954 and worked for the Corner Dairy Bar and the Woodstock Pharmacy until 1965 when she began caring for her sister Juanita whom she loved and cared for until Juanita’s death in 1996. Myrtle continued caring for those in need in the Woodstock Area for many years to follow.

    Myrtle, known as Mert, was an avid sportswoman who enjoyed fishing and hunting. She also loved to dance. Mert had an infectious laugh and sense of humor and enjoyed sharing a good joke with her many friends.

    She is survived by her siblings Murray Biathrow (Anna), Henry Biathrow (Jo), Marion Gent (Kent); and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and good friends. In addition to her parents, she is predeceased by three siblings, Juanita Biathrow, Francis Colby, and Royal Biathrow.

    A funeral service will be held on Sunday, May 5 at 1 p.m. at the Cabot Funeral Home in Woodstock. Burial will follow in the Bridgewater Hill Cemetery.

    Those wishing may make memorial donations to Zack’s Place, P.O. Box 634, Woodstock, Vermont 05091.

    The Family is being assisted by the Cabot Funeral Home in Woodstock. An online guest book can be found at cabotfh.com.

    Shawn Michael Currier

    Shawn Michael Currier, 36, died unexpectedly on Thursday, April 25.

    Shawn was born on January 14, 1988 in Hanover, N.H., the son of Todd Shawn and Lisa Marie (Avery) Currier.

    A graduate of Woodstock Union High School Shawn worked as a carpenter and painter in the upper valley. He enjoyed both hunting and fishing as well as spending time with family and friends.

    He is survived by his parents Todd and Lisa, brother Christopher (Amber Blanchette), brother Cory, sister Jamie (Adam) Avery, sister Coleen (Steve) Atti, his maternal grandparents Parke and Leona Avery, step grandparents Pricilla and Skip Bedell; children Jaelan, Devin, and Brinley; his nieces Madeline, Addy, Aurora, Addyson and Clara; nephews Cohen, Xavier, and Alex; as well as many close friends. He is predeceased by a brother Ralph Robert Currier.

    There will be a gathering to celebrate Shawn’s life on Sunday May 19 from 1-4 p.m. at the Hartland Recreational Center in Hartland.

    Those wishing may make donations to: gofund.me/89bbe55f.

    An online guestbook can be found at cabotfh.com.

    Rosalie Mary Cutter

    Rosalie Mary (Goodrich) Cutter, 93, passed away on April 26, 2024. Born in East Orange, VT. on May 31, 1930, she was the youngest of ten children of Grace Lincoln Goodrich. The family moved to Norwich, VT. when she was young, and she attended the Marion Cross Elementary School and later graduated from Hanover High School in 1948.

    Rosalie graduated high school early with the blessing and condition of the guidance department, that she continue to work for Don Cutter Sr. at Cutter Trucking. They later married and continued to work, live, and raise a family side-by-side for 50 years.

    At the age of 20, with two small children, Rosalie sold the trucking business, rented their house, and boarded a ship for Garmisch, Germany, where Don had been recalled leading the Garmisch Recreation Area for the U.S. Armed Forces from 1950-1955.

    After returning to Hanover, N.H., they purchased Art Bennett’s Sport Shop, she was President of the Ford Sayre Ski Program, owner of Ma’s Sports, a specialized ski clothing manufacturing business, and very active in many town affairs. While her own children were active in skiing, she believed every child should have an opportunity to play sports, no matter what and helped establish the Hanover Parks and Recreation Organization.

    Upon retirement from the ski business, Rosalie and Don settled on their farm in Lyme Center, N.H. raising pigs and numerous other animals and became very involved in the N.H. Pork Producers Council. As an amazing seamstress, she started making quilts…..oh so many quilts! Many people suffering hardship were often the recipients of one of her quilts. She was an active member of the Northern Lights Quilt Guild.

    Rosalie was predeceased by her husband, Donald deJongh Cutter Sr. in 1997, a daughter, Donna Cutter Tollman in 2000 and her five sisters and four brothers. She is survived by her sons, Donald deJ. Cutter Jr. (Doreen) of Hanover, N.H., Thomas V. Cutter (Paula) of Yardley, Pa., and daughter, Sari Cutter White Pelley (Randy) of Aiken, S.C. She is also survived by seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

    In memory of a woman who gave so much to others, please consider an act of kindness for someone in need or volunteering for a local organization.

    Joan Marie (Boutilier) Allen

    Joan Marie (Boutilier) Allen, 77, died Friday, April 19, 2024, at home in Reading with her family by her side.

    She was born August 8, 1946, in Windsor, VT, the daughter of William and Kathleen “Kitty” Boutilier. Joan grew up in Windsor and attended Windsor schools. She was married to Robert Allen, and they made their home in Reading where they raised their three children until later divorcing.

    Joan worked at the Kedron Valley Inn in the kitchen and then as a housekeeper for the Lutz family for over twenty-five years until her health no longer allowed her to work. She met Paul Seaver on March 16, 1979, and they have lived in Reading as life partners for the past forty-five years.

    Joan was a member of the Reading Fire Department Auxiliary for many years, but most of all loved being with family and friends, especially her grandchildren.

    She is survived by her partner, Paul Seaver of Reading; children Kevin Allen (Pam) of Manchester, NH, Kim Allen, and Curt Allen (Kate) both of Reading; grandchildren Darren, Nicholas, Alexis, Anthony, and Brody; brother Richard Boutilier of Windsor; and nieces and nephews.

    She was predeceased by her parents and a sister-in-law, Anita Boutilier.

    A graveside service will be held at the Felchville Cemetery in Reading on Friday, May 3 at 1 P.M.

    Condolences may be made to Joan’s family in an online guestbook at knightfuneralhomes.com.

    Contributions in her memory may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105, or at stjude.org.

    Annual Appeal

    Now it’s official -- IRS approves Journalism Foundation as public charity, donations are tax deductible

    By Dan Cotter, publisher

    A huge sigh of relief and a fist pump were my first reactions, as well as a gaze skyward as I mouthed the words “thank you!” The tears welling up in my older friend’s eyes were his response when I told him.

    Then we shared a long, hard hug.

    After lots of research and preparation, and then six months of waiting for the application to be processed, Phil Camp and I recently learned that the IRS has approved the Woodstock Region Journalism Foundation’s application for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) and deemed the Foundation to be a public charity.

    The approval wasn’t in much doubt, really. But now it’s official.

    The Foundation was established last August and it is primarily dedicated to preserving the Vermont Standard and its role in informing citizens and supporting democracy in our area well into the future. The Foundation has a board made up of local residents who care deeply about our community and the value local journalism provides. Phil and I are on the board too. Together, we’re working to keep the 171-year-old Vermont Standard going while taking steps to position the paper’s print and digital journalism for long-term sustainability.

    Recognizing the critical role the Standard plays in informing and connecting our community, this Foundation wants to avoid letting our area become a “news desert,” as has happened in hundreds of other places throughout the US in recent years. Newspapers like the Standard are currently dying off at a pace of 2.5 per week. Nor do we want to end up like the hundreds of cities and towns where profit-seeking corporations that have no devotion to the public welfare have acquired their local paper and stripped it of its resources, to the point that it is only a pathetic shadow of its former self and incapable of doing its job.

    Providing accurate, credible, reliable news and information to its audience is a local news organization’s primary role. A functioning democracy requires an informed, engaged public. The Woodstock Region Journalism Foundation’s board members, advisors and friends will help Phil and I in our mission to raise enough money to keep quality journalism flowing here.

    So, I’m glad to report that any donation you’ve made to the Woodstock Region Journalism Foundation to support the Standard’s mission to inform, connect, and educate our community on issues of public importance is indeed tax-deductible dating back to the inception of the Foundation in late August 2023, as all donations will be going forward.

    At 88 years old, Phil feels a real sense of urgency about making sure that our community will always have local journalism – especially given the 40+ years he’s dedicated to leading the paper and his unrivaled love for Woodstock and its surrounding towns. We know we’re in a race against the clock. But now, with the Foundation’s charity status and your tax deduction confirmed, we hope there will be even more support from donors and family foundations that will help us accomplish this very important mission.

    Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your encouragement and generosity. If you would like to contribute to our Annual Appeal, please send us a check at PO Box 88, Woodstock, VT 05091, or go to our Vermont Standard THIS WEEK website at https://thevermontstandard.com/annual-appeal/ to make a contribution with your credit card. Please be sure to make your check out to the “Woodstock Region Journalism Foundation.”

    Making friends while trying to make ends meet

    By Dan Cotter, publisher

    Friendship. That’s what I’m thinking about as I publish this year’s fourth and final annual appeal article.

    Of course, that makes perfect sense given our heritage.

    If you’ve ever seen longtime Vermont Standard icon Phil Camp in action as he walks down Central or Elm Street, or when he’s seated near the fireplace at the Woodstock Inn, you know what I’m talking about. I nicknamed him the “Unofficial Mayor of Woodstock” because, like a campaigner, he seems to want to talk to everyone he encounters, whether it’s an old friend (he’s got quite a few, as he’s lived here almost 88 years) or a visitor from wherever. His opening line with those visitors — after complimenting them on their cute child or puppy — is “where are you from?” After giving them a warm welcome and trying to get to know them better, he typically tells them a little more about our area and then a lot about the Vermont Standard. He always closes these brief exchanges by encouraging them to check out our Vermont Standard THIS Week website or buy an eEdition subscription so that they can keep up with our beautiful Woodstock area after they return home.

    It’s as though he was commissioned by the Chamber of Commerce, but really, he just likes to make friends.

    And he does. On occasion he even hears back from folks he’s greeted, thanking him for being one of the highlights of their recent visit.

    Likewise, if not for the friends we’ve made, the Standard, like so many other newspapers around the country, would have closed up shop at some point in the past few years after losing access to such a large portion of the advertising dollars that traditionally supported community journalism. Thankfully our readers stepped up to fill the gap with their donations. Thanks to them — our friends — we’re still alive and striving to do our best, and I am still able to write this to you today.

    We may have struggled to make ends meet, but we have been able to make some good friends. And that’s a blessing.

    I’m reminded of Carole King’s song, “You’ve Got a Friend”

    If the sky above you

    Grows dark and full of clouds

    And that old north wind begins to blow

    Keep your head together

    And call my name out loud

    Soon you’ll hear me knockin’ at your door

    Some of our friends seemingly came knockin’ out of nowhere to support us, to support our community by preserving its journalism and to support its democracy. They asked for nothing in return, not even for recognition. We are eternally grateful to them. We hope to make them proud, and we hope they’ll continue to have our back. And we hope we’ll continue to meet new friends along the way.

    Four special friends have now come together to serve on the board of the new Woodstock Region Journalism Foundation: Charlie Shackleton, Darlyne Franzen, Rob Wallace, and Bill Emmons. As I announced a few weeks ago, the Woodstock Region Journalism Foundation, which is dedicated primarily to preserving the Standard and its role in informing citizens and supporting democracy in our area well into the future, has formally filed an application for recognition of tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service. These Foundation board members believe in us and they care deeply about our community and the value the Standard provides. Right now, they are encouraging their own friends to support this important cause at this critical juncture.

    If you’re willing to make a donation to the Woodstock Region Journalism Foundation, your contribution will be utilized in the form of project grants to support our mission to inform, connect, and educate our community on issues of public importance. Contributions will be tax-deductible dating back to the inception of the Foundation.

    Winter, spring, summer or fall

    All you have to do is call

    And I’ll be there, yes, I will

    You’ve got a friend

    You’ve got a friend

    Ain’t it good to know you’ve got a friend

    Indeed, it is good to know that you’re all our friends. So many community newspapers throughout the U.S. are braving their final hour. But, especially with the establishment of the Woodstock Region Journalism Foundation, we’re hoping that the Vermont Standard is now embarking on its finest hour, hand in hand with you, our friends.

    To make a donation, 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. Be sure to make your check out to the “Woodstock Region Journalism Foundation.”

    UPDATE: The IRS has approved the Foundation’s application for nonprofit status, so your gift will be tax-deductible.

    Let’s not lose our sense of place

    By Dan Cotter, publisher

    The main thing I remember is that it was always loud. And a bit chaotic.

    With seven children all just a year apart, there tended to be a lot of clamor and teasing as we’d prepare the dinner table in our house where I grew up. Dad was home from work and it was time to eat!

    This ritual took place more or less every day. Everyone had scattered to work and school and sports, part-time jobs, and all sorts of other activities throughout the day, but in the evening, we gathered for the one meal we ate together and to talk about what was going on. It was there around that table — where elbow space was at a premium — that we learned of each other’s latest achievements, trials, and disappointments, laughed at each other’s tales from the front, the foibles we had experienced or witnessed that day, found out about what’s coming up for the family, including challenges we faced, and on so many occasions, after expressing our opinions about one thing or another, we engaged in fierce debate.

    Sure, we spent moments with a parent or certain siblings during the day and we picked up bits and pieces of information or gossip along the way, but it was at the dinner table that we could count on hearing the straight story from our parents and each other. There, as we kept up with our family’s day-to-day news, we also strengthened our bond.

    Of course, the dining experience is probably a little different for families these days. Households tend to be smaller and parents’ work schedules aren’t as predictable. Plus, with all of the activities children participate in that cut into mealtime, it may not be possible for some families to gather together on a daily basis. The catching up and bonding may take place on a more infrequent basis or in a different setting, but it’s just as important nonetheless.

    Having a regular, ongoing opportunity to share news and information that we and only we are truly interested in gives everyone the sense that they’re in the know and an important member of the family. It helps us create our shared identity.

    I think it’s pretty much the same in a small community like ours.

    Technically, just by virtue of living here, everyone is part of the community. However, it’s the access to our own news and information — that regular habit of keeping up with what’s going on among us – that nurtures our sense of belonging, our shared identity, and it helps give our community its sense of place.

    When we are able to better know each other, and know more about our local businesses and organizations, our history and traditions, and all the constantly-changing issues and narratives that are playing out in our community, we can truly feel connected and at home in this unique place and we can participate in our community better.

    For example, in our community, and only in this particular community, the Wasps are both the king and queen when it comes to sports. Issues such as retiring public servants, accommodations for tourists, proposed new schools, and short-term rental regulations are headline news here. We have our very own natural disasters to contend with, as well as the local controversies and court cases everyone is following. We have a multitude of entertainment offerings to keep abreast of. We have people who are well-known and admired here, and there are always examples cropping up of ordinary people doing extraordinary things here that we like to hear about. Plus, we gather each year to vote on local candidates and topics that affect us personally, financially and emotionally. And people here certainly aren’t afraid to express an opinion and have a debate from time to time.

    All of those concerns are an integral part of life here. Our community’s identity then, is more than just a collection of pretty towns surrounded by farms and lush, rolling hills. It’s actually our shared interests and experiences that give this community its true sense of place.

    I liken the Vermont Standard to the “dinner table” of my youth, where we gather to keep up on things that are of interest to this community. Our reporters collect that news and information and we package it, deliver it, and make it possible for all of us to digest it each week so that we come away more informed and hopefully knowing and feeling a little closer to each other. In this way, we can more fully embrace our collective experience and be ready to participate, armed with a common, credible set of knowledge. Like with a family at mealtime, our shared identity is strengthened and we’re all better off.

    I hope you’ll consider joining our mission as we scramble to keep the Standard going despite the financial pressures that threaten its survival. We’ve got a large — though not insurmountable — operating deficit to overcome, and we just can’t keep this up without significant help. Our hope is that you agree with us that our local journalism is nourishment for our community and worthy of your investment. We hope you’ll make a donation to our 2023 Annual Appeal, and even better, consider adding us to the organizations that you make donations to each year so that we can achieve some staying power. If you own a business, we hope you’ll consider advertising with us as well.

    Some good news is that last month, the Woodstock Region Journalism Foundation was created. The Foundation, which is dedicated primarily to preserving the Standard and its role in informing citizens and supporting democracy in our area well into the future, has formally filed an application for recognition of tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service. The Foundation has a board made up of local residents who care deeply about our community and the value the Standard provides. Phil Camp and I are on the board too. Together, we’ll work to continuously improve the paper’s print and digital journalism, and position it for long-term sustainability.

    If you’re willing to make a donation to the Woodstock Region Journalism Foundation, your contribution will be utilized in the form of project grants to support our mission to inform, connect, and educate our community on issues of public importance. Contributions will be tax-deductible dating back to the inception of the Foundation.

    To make a donation, 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. Be sure to make your check out to the “Woodstock Region Journalism Foundation.”

    UPDATE: The IRS has approved the Foundation’s application for nonprofit status, so your gift will be tax-deductible.

    We’re betting on this community, at this time, for this mission

    By Dan Cotter, publisher

    If not us, who? If not now, when?

    These soul-searching questions have been pondered by leaders throughout history when faced with situations that required great courage and determination. In fact, longtime Vermont Standard publisher Phil Camp and I asked ourselves those same questions several years ago as we embarked on our mission to preserve quality local journalism for Woodstock and its neighboring towns, including Hartland Pomfret, Barnard, Quechee, Bridgewater, Reading, West Windsor, Plymouth and Killington. We were inspired by those questions as we set out to save the Standard’s print and digital journalism that informs and connects our community even though the advertising revenue that has supported the paper through the years has diminished.

    Just like other newspapers in large and small towns throughout the country, the Standard has been fighting for its life. Similar to everywhere else, advertising revenue is evaporating as smaller, independent retailers and service providers that traditionally supported local news organizations with their ads have been replaced by chains, big box stores and online sellers that typically do not support community journalism. And many classified advertisers now use dedicated help wanted, auto, and real estate websites instead of a newspaper. Plus, the residual effects of the COVID-19 economic shutdown have further eroded many businesses’ advertising budgets.

    Without sufficient advertising support, the Standard, like all newspapers, relies heavily on the public to help fund its local journalism. And that journalism is needed now more than ever in a society dominated by social media echo chambers, political and social division, and the proliferation of misinformation. Still, the Standard’s situation is dire. If not for contributions from philanthropic citizens who fully recognize the value of having local journalism in our community, the paper would lose several thousand dollars each week, and sadly — after a 170-year run — there would be no Vermont Standard.

    Saving this one small newspaper in Vermont is obviously important to the community here, but it also has national implications. Papers like the Standard are dying off at a pace of two per week. And far too many newspapers that are still alive have been acquired by corporations that have stripped them of their resources, turning them into “ghost papers” that are unable to adequately inform and serve their communities.

    Most newspapers are on the brink of insolvency. We must find a way in this country, both collectively and individually, to keep credible local journalism alive, to keep citizens informed and connected. Our democracy depends on it.

    The Standard is symbolic of this problem our nation faces. But if there is any place in the country where people truly love their community and treasure their newspaper — which is still produced by a small but devoted staff trying to do the right thing — it’s Woodstock, VT. If this community can’t find a way to sustain its local journalism, there is probably little hope for the rest.

    Unlike most other newspapers, the Standard, which already operates on a shoestring, has resisted the strategy of further stripping down its small operation to bare bones. Instead, we are attempting to preserve it as a quality newspaper that can continue serving our community well.

    Phil always maintained that the Standard actually belongs to the community. He’s right, and it’s in their hands now. If local journalism can indeed be saved, it will happen here, where citizens are so engaged and appreciation for the Standard is so strong.

    If not us, then who? If not now, then when?

    We’ve made significant progress. Last month, the Woodstock Region Journalism Foundation was created. The Foundation, which is dedicated primarily to preserving the Standard and its role in informing citizens and supporting democracy in our area well into the future, has formally filed an application for recognition of tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service. The Foundation has a board made up of local residents who care deeply about our community and the value the Standard provides. Phil and I are on the board too. Together, we’ll work to continuously improve the paper’s print and digital journalism, and position it for long-term sustainability.

    We hope you’ll take a moment to make a donation to the Woodstock Region Journalism Foundation. Your contribution will be utilized in the form of project grants to support our mission to inform, connect, and educate our community on issues of public importance. Contributions will be tax-deductible dating back to the inception of the Foundation.

    Your contribution has the potential to make a real difference – to save our paper and give us a chance to put in place initiatives that ensure our long-term sustainability, to draw attention to the loss of quality local journalism across the country, and to motivate others to advocate for solutions to this crisis before it is too late.

    If you’re willing to make a donation to our 2023 Annual Appeal, 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. Be sure to make your check out to the “Woodstock Region Journalism Foundation.”

    UPDATE: The IRS has approved the Foundation’s application for nonprofit status, so it’s confirmed that your gift will be tax-deductible.

    Since no news would be bad news, here’s some good news

    By Dan Cotter, publisher

    Anyone keeping track has probably noticed that the Vermont Standard’s annual appeal is starting late this year. In the past, I’ve written a series of four columns in August-September to let you know how we’re doing in Phil Camp’s and my quest to keep our local journalism viable for Woodstock and its neighboring towns. Here we are now at the end of September and I’m finally getting back to you!

    Still, I think the message I have to share today is one worth waiting for.

    Everybody knows by now that newspapers all throughout the country have been hanging by a thread. The Standard is no different. In the past, I’ve described our financial challenge to you here in the pages of the paper and Phil and I have met with a number of you personally to discuss the mission we’re on to try to ensure that the Standard continues to keep citizens here informed and connected well into the future, despite the loss of much of the traditional newspaper advertising revenue that supported local journalism in communities like ours for the past hundred years. We think that the public service newspapers like ours perform is critical to the health of our American democracy, and we believe that our community would be greatly diminished if we’re not successful in our quest to rescue the Standard.

    Just ask the more than 20 percent of Americans who now live in communities that have no trustworthy, in-depth, or independent news source reporting on their local issues.

    About 2,500 newspapers around the country have gone out of business in the past 20 years, and many, many of those that still exist are now just a shadow of their former selves, as corporate scavengers have acquired them and stripped them of their resources, leaving them alive but emaciated and wholly incapable of performing their duty to their community.

    We’re not trying to merely keep some semblance of a paper alive here. We’re trying to preserve a good, independent, 170-year-old purveyor of local journalism (both in print or digital formats) that our community can continue to trust, rely upon, and be proud of.

    And we are clearly not alone on this journey. For the past few years, increasing numbers of those who read and care for the Vermont Standard have pitched in to offer assistance. We’ve received donations and significant financial support from people who believe that having fair-minded, professionally produced, independent local journalism is extremely important to the quality of life here, and it’s a safeguard against sources that may otherwise spread misinformation and even disinformation in the community.

    All of these angels who helped us did so with no expectations other than that we’d continue to do our best to inform, entertain, and connect the community we exist to serve. They did it out of their love for Woodstock and the neighboring towns that make up our community. Without even the benefit of a tax deduction.

    Five years ago, wise friends of the Standard advised Phil and me to explore whether the paper could be operated by a nonprofit entity – which would enable it to receive tax-deductible contributions from donors and apply for grant funding. At the time, prospects for that route didn’t look promising. But with the ongoing counsel of those friends and others who have assisted us along the way, we have now identified and set out on a path forward that we hope will lead to the approval of a new 501(c)(3) organization to operate the newspaper.

    This month, the Woodstock Region Journalism Foundation was created. The Foundation, which is dedicated primarily to preserving the Standard and its role in informing citizens and supporting democracy in our area well into the future, has formally filed an application for recognition of tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service. The Foundation has a board made up of local residents who care deeply about our community and the value the Standard provides. Phil and I are on the board too. Together, we’ll work to continuously improve the paper’s print and digital journalism, and position it for long-term sustainability.

    Now you can make a donation to the Woodstock Region Journalism Foundation and your contribution will be utilized in the form of project grants to support the Vermont Standard’s mission to inform, connect, and educate our community on issues of public importance. Contributions will be tax-deductible dating back to the inception of the Foundation. Of course, we recommend potential donors discuss with their own advisors any specific questions about their particular contributions.

    We are very excited about this development, and we hope that more people will now be willing to support the Standard with a donation, and perhaps past donors will even consider increasing their contribution. For those who have family foundations, we hope that you’ll consider adding the Woodstock Region Journalism Foundation to the causes you regularly support.

    Our need is quite urgent, to say the least. After many months of preparation, we are certainly pleased to now be in this position, but we’re late getting started with our annual appeal and we’ve incurred additional expenses to set this up, so that thread we’re clinging to is awfully frayed right now. We are profoundly grateful for anything you can do right away to help us get on firmer financial footing.

    If you’re willing to make a donation to our 2023 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. Be sure to make your check out to the “Woodstock Region Journalism Foundation.”

    UPDATE: The IRS has approved the Foundation’s application for nonprofit status, so your gift will be tax-deductible.

     

    Hard to imagine Woodstock without the Standard 

    “View From Here”

    By Sandy Gilmour, Woodstock resident

    If you are reading this column right now, that’s good news for the community. It means you probably paid for this paper, hard copy or online, maybe even made a donation to it, and value its contribution to our lives in Woodstock and surrounding areas. We are so fortunate to have the Vermont Standard week in and week out. For years, small-town dailies and weeklies have been closing their doors, leaving communities without a soul. Papers like the Standard are dying off at the rate of two per week across America. 

    Such towns are called “news deserts.” Imagine weeks, months and years going by with no professional reporting on selectboards, trustees, school boards, taxes and roads. Zero stories about public school events, sports, student accomplishments, obituaries, gardening tips, neighborly cooking advice, local history, and no reports from towns from Brownsville to Pomfret. 

    We would know next to nothing about the interminable Peace Field Farm restaurant delay, the Ottauquechee Trail head fiasco, the high-stakes Woodstock Foundation controversy and the fatal shooting off Central Street, including the bravery of Woodstock Police Sgt. Joe Swanson. In my view, these stories have been really well reported. 

    To not get these stories delivered to us every week would be a news desert right in verdant Woodstock, for sure, a gaping hole left to be filled by rumor and mis- and dis-information, the precursors of community dissolution. So we are blessed indeed to have had the Vermont Standard around — nonstop — since 1853, and owned by beloved Woodstocker Phil Camp, now 87, since 1981. 

    But as Mr. Camp has pointed out many times over the years, the paper’s solvency hangs on a thread and now more than ever. In hundreds of towns across America, owners, beleaguered by losing subscribers and advertising to social media, simply folded or sold out to hedge funds and private equity firms, whose investors are bereft of community values. Not Phil Camp. He has always said, “I never sold out. I’m never giving up.” He made up for past deficits (difference between expenses, like staff, and income from subscriptions and ads) out of company savings from better times, week after week. He stayed with it after being flooded out by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 and being burned out by the Central Street fire of 2018 (taking out his camera and snapping photos of the flames and rubble).

    The paper was in dire straits when COVID hit, saved by the forgiven federal PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans through 2021, when the largesse ended. Then beginning in January 2022, the community stepped up, responding to a fundraising appeal. I was rather stunned to learn from the Standard’s publisher, Dan Cotter, that the paper’s annual shortfall of $150,000-$200,000 is being covered by donations from local Woodstock residents. There are many (and appreciated) donations in the $50-$100-$200 range, but really heavy lifting is being done by donors of means who, Mr. Cotter says, highly value the contribution local journalism makes to communities. Several of these more-than-generous and anonymous donors contribute $20-25,000 and more — each — and, Mr. Cotter says, without any hint of trying to influence coverage. Without them, surely there would be no Vermont Standard in the mailbox or online, just the unreliable grapevine. At the same time, the paper is moving to create other revenue streams, including an online advertising app for Woodstock happenings and a magazine, in addition to improving thevermontstandard.com website for go-to news. 

    Still, the operation is bare bones. It seems to me a miracle the paper “hits the streets” without fail every Thursday with some pretty good and important stories that we need to know about, and many features that are good to know about. And there are just two, count them, two, full-time staffers who report stories: the seasoned and prolific Tom Ayres, and Tess Hunter, who is also the managing editor. Ms. Hunter says reporter staffing is the big issue; she has on hand freelance contract reporters that can be assigned to stories if they are available and if they want to spend the evening at yet another unexciting if important selectboard meeting. “It’s a constant juggling act,” Ms. Hunter told me, “between finding the right person for the story and just getting people to say ‘yes.’” Still, she is committed, saying, “Without us making the attempt, there would be no common base of understanding and little sense of the community spirit of the area or the hard news happening within it.”

    Volunteer contributors are crucial; regular community writers like Jennifer Falvey (insightful musings on life) and Kurt Stauder (pointed political observations) are popular. Mary Lee Camp’s business column is relentlessly informative. 

    Other key staff are listed in the box below — lean and spare!

    Publisher and editorial content director Dan Cotter, 64, hired by Mr. Camp in 2018 after years of informal consulting for the Standard, is not a household name in Woodstock, though he is hands-on every issue. He owns a condo in the area and is here about half the month, returning to his home and wife in Chicago for the remainder. He has decades in the industry as an executive and consultant, was head of the New England Newspaper and Press Association, and takes a no-nonsense hard line on newspaper independence and objectivity. It’s an unusual situation but Mr. Camp, still the president of the company, has total confidence in Mr. Cotter and has turned over the Vermont Standard, its operation, assets and its future, to his close friend. Mr. Camp has indeed not “given up,” but hopes to ensure his dear newspaper’s future with this arrangement. 

    So where does the Standard go now? Around the country, journalists are reinventing newspapers and online reporting. The most promising seems to be the non-profit model, where deductible contributions from community-minded supporters can be made even as the publication accepts subscription fees and what advertising there is left. There are indications that the Standard is moving in this direction, and the sooner the better, in my view. When I pressed Publisher Cotter on the issue, he responded with this very encouraging comment: 

    “In the past couple of years, members of the community have literally kept the Standard alive with their donations — and a handful of them have given very substantial sums, even without the benefit of a tax break. That’s how much they value the role our local journalism plays in the quality of life in our area. We are working now to put the paper on a path to where donors could indeed have a tax benefit. For it is essential to our democracy and our own survival that we have the financial support we need from the community to maintain a news organization — modest as it is — that’s capable of producing good local journalism that adequately informs our citizens.”

    I can’t imagine Woodstock without the Vermont Standard. The new business model provides great hope the paper will not only survive but as a Woodstock-based non-profit, continue to expand coverage to benefit all of us in this great community. 

    Note: This (unpaid) column originated with me alone! 

    Sandy Gilmour is a retired NBC News correspondent who lives in Woodstock.

    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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