Bob Benz: Historic preservationist also molded lives and careers

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Incident at bank preceded Woodstock shooting

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Hopes deflated as winds kept balloons grounded in Quechee

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Celebration of life for Mary Christine “Chris” (Cashion) Mosher on June 25

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Service for Gerald P. Kalanges on July 7

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Outed CIA operative to appear at Bookstock Friday evening

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Can summer ice skating beat the heat?

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There will be grills on the green but debate continues

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Bridgewater names new admin assistant, town attorney

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David A. Swett

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Incident at bank preceded Woodstock shooting


One day before a homicide-suicide shocked the Woodstock community last week, the gunman caused a disturbance in a local bank that required town police to respond. A call from the People’s United Bank on The Green indicated Jay Wilson, 45, had followed his mother, June Wilson, into the building and was being “verbally abusive” to her, Woodstock Police said. Wilson later fled the lobby before Woodstock Police Sgt. Joe Swanson arrived shortly before 10 a.m. on June 13. The bank later called back to cancel the need for help, but the 15-year veteran officer followed through to check to ensure everybody was safe. Swanson eventually was put on the phone with a corporate bank security officer. The security officer said the bank tellers would not cooperate and would forego any written statements, Police Chief Robbie Blish reported. Swanson was unable to further investigate the disturbance. “Mrs. Wilson feared he may become violent,” Blish said as he recapped the official police report from the bank incident. Mrs. Wilson called her friend, Dieter Seier, to escort her back to the Slayton Terrace residence she owns, the police chief said. Her son lived there, but she was looking to have the property listed with a local real estate agent. It was just over 24 hours later that Jay Wilson fatally shot Seier, 67, of Cornish, N.H. He was found dead by Swanson in the driveway from multiple gunshot wounds to the torso, state police said.

Read more in the June 23 edition of the Vermont Standard.

Hopes deflated as winds kept balloons grounded in Quechee


QUECHEE — Disappointment was the word of the weekend in Quechee during the village’s 42nd Annual Balloon Festival as excessive winds kept the balloons out of the air almost the entire time. All the while, a diverse range of food vendors, musicians, and other performers attempted to liven the mood in their own ways.

The start of the festival couldn’t have been better. Early Friday evening, visitors began flooding the festival grounds and lining the village’s streets. Cars marked with plates from various states filled the lot, every vendor was open, and there was what seemed to be wonderful weather for the first launch of the weekend. In anticipation, visitors began claiming spots on the knoll at the east end of the launch field for an up-close view of the action. Balloon crews gradually amassed on the field and waited.

Amidst all this activity, one person stood out from the rest. At nearly 6 p.m., Jim Rodrigue, who is the owner/operator of Androscoggin Balloon Adventures of Lewiston, Maine, walked into an open spot in the field and put up a kite. While it may have appeared that he was playing around, he was doing serious work checking the wind speed. “I told the guys as long as this kite is in the air, we ain’t flying. It’s not looking very good for us tonight — too windy,” he said. This was the first significant moment when the weather demonstrated its impact.

Read more in the June 23 edition of the Vermont Standard.

Outed CIA operative to appear at Bookstock Friday evening


When she was serving as an intelligence officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Valerie Plame never envisioned herself as a memoirist, fiction writer, and activist advocating for global nuclear disarmament and other issues she holds dear.

That all changed when Plame became the subject of an infamous American political scandal in 2003: the so-called “Plame Affair” or “Plamegate,” during which the CIA operative, working covertly to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, was outed by conservative Washington Post columnist Robert Novak. Novak used leaked information from senior members of the administration of President George H.W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to reveal Plame’s identity as retribution for a controversial op-ed piece in The New York Times penned by Plame’s then-husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson. The article, entitled “What I Didn’t Find in Africa,” challenged the Bush administration’s rationale for the war in Iraq, which was that the Iraqis were actively engaged in trying to obtain nuclear weapons.

Valerie Plame is the author of “Fair Game” (2007), a memoir of her outing by Novak and the Bush administration, and the subsequent legal, professional, personal, and emotional challenges it wrought. The book was made into a feature film in 2010, featuring Naomi Watts as Plame and Sean Penn as Wilson. Plame has since gone on to pen two works of spy fiction, coauthored with mystery writer Sarah Lovett: “Blowback” (2013) and “Burned” (2014), detailing the life and exploits of covert CIA operations officer Vanessa Pierson, a dynamic character ostensibly patterned after Plame.

The former CIA sleuth is thus uniquely positioned to participate in a dialog entitled “In from the Cold” at this weekend’s “Bookstock: The Green Mountain Festival of Words” in Woodstock. Plame will join Robert Kerbeck, the author of the 2022 creative non-fiction work “Ruse: Lying the American Dream from Hollywood to Wall Street.” During the discussion, to be introduced and moderated by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and intelligence expert Thomas Powers, Plame and Kerbeck will “talk leaks, sneaks, and other assorted spy stories,” according to the Bookstock program guide. In her remarks, Plame will address the world of international espionage, while Kerbeck will discuss the corporate espionage that is the subject of his new book.

Read more in the June 23 edition of the Vermont Standard.

There will be grills on the green but debate continues


At a mid-April meeting of the Woodstock Village Board of Trustees, the trustees agreed to grant three permits to food vendors on The Green on Sundays and Mondays. The trustees did not, at that time, assign those permits to vendors, but rather gave themselves the ability to seek out and authorize specific permits to vendors at a later date. They have been defending that decision from some local restaurateurs and neighbors of The Green ever since. The debate over the shortage of dining options in the village and town continued to rage at last Thursday’s meeting — postponed due to the shooting at 13 Slayton Terrace on Tuesday, June 14. Arguments against food vendors on The Green came in the wake of the trustees granting one permit to the local non-profit Trees and Seeds on Thursday. Trees and Seeds is a local organization that does international service projects, and served food on The Green last fall, during the height of foliage season. This time around, Trees and Seeds hopes to begin serving sometime in July, on Sundays and Mondays, and will continue to do so through this foliage season as well.

Read more in the June 23 edition of the Vermont Standard.

Bridgewater names new admin assistant, town attorney


BRIDGEWATER — The Bridgewater Selectboard Tuesday evening hired former Town Treasurer and longtime Board of Listers member Vicky Young as administrative assistant to the board. Young replaces Town Clerk Nancy Robinson in the administrative role. Town Clerk Robinson had served jointly as both clerk and selectboard assistant – a joint post that has been in effect in Bridgewater for about 20 years – until she stepped down from the assistant’s post early last month. Young, who is the mother of current Bridgewater Selectboard Chair William Oscar Young, was named as the board’s new administrative assistant in open session at the beginning of Tuesday night’s regular, bimonthly meeting of the governing body. Deliberation about naming a new assistant had been slated to be held in executive session, according to the evening’s posted agenda, but selectboard members Young, George Spear, and Chris Southworth opted to choose Young as their new assistant unanimously in open session. Chairman Young did not indicate if any other candidates had expressed an interest in the paid post.

Read more in the June 23 edition of the Vermont Standard.


Bob Benz: Historic preservationist also molded lives and careers

By Tom Ayres, Senior Staff Writer

The creamery in the 1890 Farm Manager’s House at Billings Farm & Museum following its meticulous renovation and recreation as part of the historic house’s renovation in 1989. Curator Bob Benz led a team of dedicated preservationists and conservationists that worked on the historic restoration project.

The restoration of the 1890 Farm Manager’s House in Woodstock is one of the signature accomplishments in the history of Billings Farm & Museum. Thousands of visitors stream through the historic farmhouse each year and the house plays a central role in the museum’s interpretation of Vermont farm life in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The kindness, environmental and conservation zeal, and philanthropy of Laurance and Mary French Rockefeller made Billings Farm & Museum possible. But it was the generosity of spirit and deep-seated commitment to preservation and conservatorship of Woodstock resident Bob Benz that made the museum’s exhibits — and particularly the Farm Manager’s House restoration — so painstakingly detailed, historically accurate, evocative and educational.

When Robert G. “Bob” Benz passed away suddenly at the age of 73 on May 26, the world of outdoor and agricultural museums in the United States lost an icon. And Bob’s many former collaborators lost a cherished mentor and beloved friend.

Benz brought his young family to Woodstock in 1986 to oversee the renovation of the 1890 Farm Manager’s House at the newly established Billings Farm & Museum, then headed by David Donath, who knew Bob from their mutual affiliation with the national Association for Living History, Agriculture and Farm Museums (ALHFAM). Donath knew that Benz, who was then working at Living History Farms in Des Moines, Iowa, was just the professional Billings needed to tackle the immense task of restoring the Farm Manager’s House to its original state, meticulously and with great historical accuracy.

Over the next several years, Benz would assemble an extraordinary team of preservationists, conservators, co-curators and outside contractors to transform the 1890 farmhouse into what it is today — a centerpiece of the Billings Farm & Museum site. Benz was to continue serving as the head curator at Billings for another 27 years, taking his leave of the museum in 2013.

Earlier this week, several of the preservation and conservation specialists who worked on the Farm Manager’s House and other projects with Benz in those heady days of the 1980s and ‘90s spoke reverently of their mentor, friend and guiding hand, particularly as it related to the recreation of the fabled home, office and butter factory where Farm Manager George Aitken and his family lived beginning in 1890. Benz’s admirers also spoke glowingly of how Bob helped shape and mold their subsequent lives and careers.

“I was out of graduate school for about a year and I went to a museum conference because that is what you did in those days to find a job,” recollected Mary Ames Booker, who today is the curator of collections with the USS North Carolina Battleship Museum in Wilmington, N.C. “Billings was advertising for a researcher and progress assistant. I thought that sounded great, so I went up to Vermont and interviewed with Bob. He and David Donath ended up hiring me. I started working on the farmhouse project in 1988.”

Booker, a graduate of the University of Delaware with a History degree and Museum Studies certificate, threw herself into the restoration effort under Benz’s tutelage, focusing primarily on researching the origins and nature of the multitude of materials that went into crafting the original house. She’d assay paint colors, investigate historic wood stains and probe around the century-old house, revealing its hidden secrets and idiosyncrasies, all under Benz’s watchful eye and immensely kind gaze.

“The house required a lot of research, a lot of analysis,” Ames Booker said. “I remember one late night — there were many late nights — when the house kind of revealed something to us that was counter to a decision we’d made to follow a certain path. You know, you take off another layer of the house and there’s something there that is different from what you expected. There was this 11 p.m. conversation and we were wondering how to proceed. And Bob just said, ‘Now that we have this evidence, you switch gears and follow the evidence.’ Bob was just the consummate professional,” Booker continued. “He was just amazing. He gave a lot of us a really firm foundation. I’m still a curator more than 30 years later.”

Karen Wiswell was party to many of those curatorial decision-making sessions with Benz and Booker in the runup to the dedication of the fully restored Farm Manager’s House in July of 1989. She connected with Benz via Donath, who had been the director of a Wisconsin Historical Society site — the Wade House, a 240-acre open-air museum in Greenbush, Wis. — before taking the helm of the nascent Billings Farm & Museum in Vermont. The three museum specialists were also active in ALFHAM together.

Whiswsell’s expertise was in the acquisition, restoration and recreation of period rugs, other floor coverings and wallpaper. She remembers vividly working with Benz to uncover the original wallpaper used in the farmhouse sitting room and also removing and then having a master craftsman replicate the beautiful tiles at the base of the fireplace in that same family gathering place.

“Bob knew so much about 19th-century technology and the housing requirements and all that goes into bringing history alive for the visitor,” Wiswell said Tuesday morning. “He was really hands-on as the head curator and I was a kind of a co-curator. We divided up the work in areas: Mary Ames Booker was in charge of textile, and I was in charge of wall and floor coverings and furnishings. Bob was the director behind the scenes, making sure we were getting all the right lighting fixtures and 1,001 other items.”

What Wiswell remembers most about Benz is his kindness and enthusiasm, his inquisitive nature, his meticulous attention to detail, and his willingness to share freely of his voluminous knowledge. “He was wonderful, not only with the staff, but with visitors, explaining how all these parts — the (butter) factory, farm, office and housing — all fit together and how sustainability was involved in all of that. He was just so extraordinarily kind and patient, and he was great with crowds of visitors because he would take the time to listen and explain things so easily that you understood what he was talking about. Again, he just made history come alive.” Though Wiswell left the museum field after working for Benz, she built a career in a very similar arena: she went to Hollywood, where she served as a film and visual researcher, working on props acquisition with set designers for television shows such as “Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman” and acclaimed historical dramas such as the film “Amistad.”

Toy Storey, a specialist in historic reconstruction and conservatorship early in her career, also joined Benz’s team at the farm and museum, staying on board in a conservator role from 1985, when Bob came East, until the mid-1990s. Reached at her Royalton home Tuesday afternoon, Storey recollected collaborating with Benz and a former facilities worker at Billings, the late Jack Stewart, to scrupulously recreate the historic Billings creamery (or butter factory) on the rear lower level of the restored Farm Manager’s House. Storey also worked with Benz on the conservation, acquisition and restoration of key artifacts in initial Farm Manager George Aitken’s office at the front of the historic edifice.

“It was such fun working on the creamery. The water-powered engine that drove the swing churn was just so fascinating,” Storey said, speaking of two of the artifacts in the present-day, restored creamery that is a favorite stop for visitors to the farm and museum today. She cited the water engine as exemplary of the lengths Benz would go to restore or replicate the original equipment that went into the state-of-the-art butter factory in 1890. At that time, it was one of only a few commercial creameries in the Northeast. “To this day, we all still talk about the fact that after Bob attended a conference in Iowa, he detoured to Georgia on his way back to Vermont because he’d heard that there might be a Chicago #11 Water Motor available there. He’d been searching high and low for that nationwide.”

Benz, Storey recalled fondly, “always made everybody feel that we were collaborators and yet he always had a firm hand on things. He was never discouraging. His enthusiasm was remarkable. He never lost that,” she commented, adding, “Everything we did was test and mega-test. Everything had to be so precise and so correct. But it was just so joyful to work with the man. He never faked anything. He never cut a corner. His fidelity and truthfulness were unique among all the bosses I ever had in the field. I’ve worked for myself a lot because I found that people who are given power over other people tend to get a little full of themselves. But that was never the case with Bob, which kept me at Billings for all that time, ten years in all.”

Just as the 1890 Farm Manager’s House restoration was nearing completion in early 1989, Benz persuaded Sue Cain to join his team. She, too, had known Benz for many years through the national ALFHAM organization, having met the historic preservationist and curator when she was working at Conner Prairie, an acclaimed living history museum in southern Indiana in the 1970s. Benz brought his longtime colleague on board at Billings “to develop interpretation for the farmhouse,” Cain, who served in interpreter services at the farm and museum from 1989 until 2001, explained Tuesday. “I started in February of that year and wrote the interpretation, policy and guidelines for the volunteers and interpreters to share with the public. It was a really interesting time and it was a joy to work with Bob. He was so easy to respect, to admire, to try to follow. He just had a brain that was unlike anyone else’s. If you had questions about anything he was doing in the house, he had all the answers.”

Cain had been a close friend and colleague of Benz’s for well over 40 years before his untimely passing last month. Now an effusive octogenarian, she is still active in museum work, thanks in part to Benz’s continued inspiration. After leaving Billings, Cain consulted with the producers of the PBS television documentary program “Frontier House” and worked at the Justin Morrill Homestead State Historic Site in Strafford. And she’s now gearing up for another stint as the superintendent of the log cabin at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds.

“At 81, I need to have my head examined to be taking on another job,” she quipped in conclusion. “But you know, there have been few people in my life in the museum field that hold a special place — and Bob Benz was certainly one of them.”

Veteran journalists reflect on changing news media, political polarization

Truth or Consequences

When Woodstock native, noted Civil War historian and former print journalist, academic and political communications director Howard Coffin speaks before the Bridgewater Historical Society this Sunday, he’ll share more than just “Stories from a Newspaper Reporter,” the working title of his talk. Coffin will also reveal the stories behind the stories from five decades of work as a reporter and correspondent with the Rutland Herald and Christian Science Monitor and as a media and public affairs director for Dartmouth, the University of Vermont, and for the late United States Senator from Vermont, James “Jim” Jeffords.

In the run-up to his speaking engagement at the Bridgewater Grange Hall, Coffin reflected last Monday morning about his writing career and about the news media environment in the United States, past and present. In follow-up conversations to the Memorial Day chat with Coffin, several other Woodstock area media luminaries, all retired, also shared their thoughts about the U.S. media, its accomplishments, pitfalls, and public image, then and now.

The media veterans who spoke in advance of Coffin’s presentation included another Woodstock native, Bob Hager, a veteran of 35-plus years as a foreign correspondent and analyst with NBC News; and the husband-and-wife team of Sandy and Karen Gilmour. Sandy served as a television newsman, correspondent, and international bureau chief — both with NBC and CBS News; and Karen helped forge a leading role outside the “Living” and “Society” pages for women in print journalism during a decades-long career with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Houston Chronicle, and the Associated Press that began in the late 1960s, then wrapped up with a stint in broadcast news production at NBC.

Coffin, who started out in journalism as a sportswriter for his hometown paper, the Standard here in Woodstock, spoke admiringly on Monday regarding an early editor’s news philosophy. Coffin then went on to cite his own, aggressive approach to gathering the news in a time when scooping the competition was paramount and when there wasn’t the 24-hour, technology-and-social-media-driven, flashy, ever-shifting media environment in which we live today.

“I worked for two great newspapers — the Herald and the Christian Science Monitor,” Coffin, who recently turned 80, said on Memorial Day. “Of course, the Herald was one of the great small dailies in the country and the Monitor was one of the world’s best papers. The real motto at the Herald was that the public has a right to know — and the Managing Editor Kendall Wild, a great newspaperman, had an unfailing belief that a great democracy cannot function without an informed public. So he told us to be as aggressive as we could be and to find out things we were not supposed to know.

“We worked hard in what was a tremendously competitive environment at the time,” Coffin continued.“When I got into covering politics, I became the chief political reporter for the Herald and I got a lot of complaints from elected officials because I was so assertive.” He added that the current environment for the media in the United States, rankled by allegations of promulgating “fake news” and colored by the ultra-partisan pronouncements of cable TV commentators, prognosticators, and pundits, is deeply problematic.

“Democracy is in trouble in this country,” Coffin worried. “One of the reasons is that in many instances the voters aren’t getting the truth. They sure were in my era. There was no Fox News. The media were all after basically the same thing — the truth. There were a few problems here and there. When I was at Dartmouth, the biggest problem we had in New Hampshire at the time was the Manchester Union-Leader, which distorted the news toward the right all the time. We got a preview then of what was to come.”

Hager, who covered the world from Vietnam to Berlin to Iran to international aviation disasters to the tragic, terrorism-plagued Munich Summer Olympics over the course of three-and-a-half decades with NBC News, also shared his perspective on the media landscape of yore versus today’s saturated news cycle, with its seemingly endless onslaught of “breaking news.”

“It’s drastically different today,” Hager said Tuesday. “The headlines, the reporting — it’s instantaneous. That’s different from the media I grew up with. You had some time with deadlines to reflect more on the issues, whereas today you have to grind out the news immediately, if not ad lib on the spot right away. The increasing prevalence of opinion is also a factor. At first, it was a prime-time cable phenomenon, but now it’s creeping more into the mainstream. I think young journalists feel a compulsion to take a bit more of a stance, even in a straightforward news column. They feel that’s good. I don’t. But that seems to be what is happening.”

Hager went on to address how profoundly technological advancements have impacted contemporary media coverage of events the world over. “The fact that you can go on live, immediately, from anywhere in the world — from out in the boonies, the jungle, or wherever — it’s unbelievable,” Hager noted. “In the early days of my career — of course, it was different by the time I retired — we always had to drive to an affiliate to put our stories together and feed them into the New York headquarters. By the time I left, you had a little satellite truck coming to you, no matter where you were in the world. That’s a profound change. Now everything is breaking news, whether it just happened or happened hours ago. Roger Ailes at Fox was a master at that, dressing everything up and making it sound instantaneous. Then it spread to CNN and everyone else.”

Hager also offered his thoughts on the role media outlets have played in fostering the seemingly endemic political polarization in the U.S. “I do think the media plays a role in it,” Hager offered. “But I don’t think it is completely the media’s fault by a long shot. The opinionating of the nighttime cable outlets in particular fosters the differences and encourages people to have tunnel vision where they don’t hear or bother to hear the opposing side of any issue. I’m old school — I always think you have to listen to the opposition, absorb it and think about it, and at least try to understand the other side’s argument. That’s fading — and part of it is the media, but certainly not all of it.”

Sandy and Karen Gilmour spoke by telephone Tuesday morning as they savored cups of coffee in their Woodstock home. Karen noted the steadily increasing gender and racial diversity in American newsrooms as one positive aspect of the major media’s transformation over the past generation or two. “I was the third woman hired by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at the time,” she recalled, harkening back to her early work at the Missouri newspaper in 1971. “The other two women literally came to the news side from the society and living pages.” Gilmour added that she only got the Post-Dispatch job initially because the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was pressing the newspaper to diversify its workforce significantly.

In the 1970s and ‘80s, when she stepped up to report on politics and international affairs, first with the Post-Dispatch and later with the Houston Chronicle and the Moscow bureau of the Associated Press, Karen said she wasn’t subjected to the acerbic slings and arrows that many mainstream journalists — especially women — face in today’s polarized political environment. “I got complaints about some of my stories, but they were gentle complaints,” she recalled. “There was nothing like being called an enemy of the people or anything like that. I don’t know how people can do it today. I guess they think they have to take the kind of warlike approach you see on the cable shows. What we’re talking about are not actually news programs — they’re commentaries.”

For his part, Sandy, who started out in journalism in Salt Lake City in the 1960s and then moved on to a storied career as a correspondent with both NBC and CBS-TV, including a stint as NBC’s bureau chief in Beijing, drew a distinction between the traditional news operations of the three longstanding broadcast television news outlets and their cable companions. “The three networks — ABC, CBS, NBC — still have traditional newscasts every night, just like they did 50 years ago,” Gilmour pointed out. “Of course, the ratings for those are greatly diminished. And then these cable programs come on and most of the time they don’t even give you headlines — they just start out with whatever the concern of the day is, the elementary school shooting or the takeover of the Capitol — and off they go from there. It’s not reporting, it’s not a newscast — and they miss a lot of opportunities to run actual stories and even do some more in-depth, live reporting on stuff that we as Americans really need to know about.

“The media landscape has just changed dramatically since the days when Karen, Bob [Hager], and I were in it, largely with social media and in my view for the worse,” Sandy Gilmour continued. “Back in the day, with newspapers — many of them owned by Republican families — and with the networks and local stations, at the end of the day, most Americans had some basic understanding of what was going on and they could act accordingly. There was a basic agreement and a mutual understanding of what the facts were and what they weren’t — during Watergate and things like that, for example. 

“Now it has become so diversified and fractionalized with so many different news sources out there to choose from. And that’s just the cable channels, not to mention social media,” Sandy concluded. “Every individual with a Twitter account has basically become a newspaper publisher. Americans don’t have any agreement on what the facts are, and this is negatively affecting our democracy.”


Can summer ice skating beat the heat?

The once-popular sport is facing declining interest, lack of donations

It’s summer: time to grab a creemee, jump in the local swimming hole, and — strap on your ice skates? Tis’ the season, according to Union Arena Skating Club president Valerie LaCroix. “We’re running two-week-long clinics this summer,” says LaCroix. The clinics, the first of which already took place this week, offers skating lessons to individuals of all levels. “Anyone can take lessons,” says LaCroix, adding that there are tiers for kids under five, one for those of all ages just learning basic skills, and one for more advanced skaters. The second week of summer lessons will be held from July 11-14, 5-6 p.m., at the Union Arena Community Center in Woodstock, and while walk-ins are welcome, LaCroix recommends those who are interested pre-register at

“People really don’t know how much fun it is to skate in the summer,” says LaCroix, “but it is.” According to LaCroix, the summer sessions, which the club has been running annually since 2014, offer an opportunity for new skaters to get their footing, so that they’re ready-to-go once winter rolls around, and allows more advanced skaters and those who skate competitively to stay sharp through the summer months. On top of all this, summer ice skating is a great way to beat the heat. As long-time club coach Jill Kurash describes it, “it’s refreshing, because you come in from being outside on a hot day — to walk into the rink and be able to skate in a cool environment is fun.”

Kurash, who has been a skating coach with the club for eighteen years, from the early days when they poured their own ice at Vail field, says she has seen participation in the club wax and wane over the decades. “The summer program has changed over the years,” says Kurash, “we used to do small clinics where you could take a spin class, or try different types of skating. There was a strong interest back then because a lot of girls were competing and wanted to stay on the ice. That isn’t happening as much [these days].”

Read more in the June 23 edition of the Vermont Standard.

Woodstock sports year in review

By David Miles

Standard Correspondent

When the Woodstock Union High School fall sports season opened with the football team defeating Springfield for its first victory in three years, you would expect the coach to be exultant. But Ramsey Worrell was equally excited that night because of the support that his squad received from the student body in attendance at McLaughlin Field.

“If the student section is like that every home game, it is going to be a huge advantage for us,” exclaimed Worrell at the time. “That is one of the best crowds I can ever remember. They made me proud to be a Woodstock Wasp.”

That was a theme that would be repeated not only during the football season but at other sporting events in the autumn as well. The students were always there to support one another. You saw it at the soccer games in the fall. You heard the football team doing a loud cheer for the field hockey team before the girls’ games on the field “next door.” There were even some non-runners and non-bikers in attendance at the home cross-country meet and mountain bike race at Knox Meadows.

“I think our senior class has an exceptionally wide friend circle,” said three-sport (soccer, basketball, tennis) athlete Cooper Dorsogna, “We are more connected to a lot of people and things really bloomed when we became the 12th graders.”

Come the winter season, it was time for the biggest on-field (on-ice?) achievement for the WUHS sports teams this academic year — the first-ever state championship for the girls hockey team. 

“The most outstanding sports moment in my eyes,” said Athletic Director Jack Boymer, “was when the girls hockey team won the Division II State Championship at Gutterson Arena this winter. Getting to watch the pure joy and excitement of our players’ faces once that third-period horn blew was a sight to behold and a memory I will keep for a long time.”

Walking down the parking garage stairwell that evening after the game, football players, soccer players, and basketball players could all be seen in attendance — all there to root the girls hockey team on.

After the 5-1 victory, Coach Ian Coates opined “This season I was blessed to have not only the girls on the team, my assistant coaches Kelley [Ruch] and Greg [Greene], but also the support from the arena staff, the school, the surrounding community and everyone that is ‘We Are Woodstock.’”

And in the spring the support for each other not only continued, it grew. Never have there been as many fans at a boys’ tennis match as there were on Senior Day against Hartford. The baseball team had its Senior Game that evening, so a number of  baseball players were there for the start of the match before they needed to prepare for their game. The boys’ lacrosse team was home that afternoon, so several of them showed up after their game for the end of the match. And after the tennis match ended, several members of that team headed over to the baseball diamond to return the favor and root Jason Tarleton’s team on.

On field the achievements were many beyond that girls’ hockey crown. The football team regrouped after a couple of down seasons and made it to the semifinal round before losing to Windsor. And the Wasps were probably the second best team in the division, giving the eventual state champions a much closer game than BFA-Fairfax did in the finals. And Coach Greg LaBella’s girls’ soccer team made a stirring run all the way to the State Championship game in the fall.

Winter season saw the snowboarding team, with a lot of very talented underclassmen, finish second in the state behind Burr & Burton. It was another strong season for the alpine ski teams. And the boys’ basketball team notched eight victories, the most in several seasons, including wins over some of the better teams on its schedule, as well as a thrilling overtime upset of Rutland, one of the top-ranked teams in Division I.

Under new leadership, the softball team completed its regular season with a 6-6 record, the best in some years. The baseball team likewise earned six wins, while both lacrosse teams were victorious seven times and took their playoff foes down to the wire before losing. The boys came from way behind South Burlington before giving their hosts a powerful scare in an 11-9 defeat.

The track teams had a stellar year with the boys finishing second and the girls fourth in the Division III State Championships. Senior Jackson Martsolf-Tan was one of the standout performers. Claiming second place in the 100 meters, fourth in the 200 meters and third in the long jump. Zed McNoughton had a pair of second places in the distance events, in both the 1500 and 3000 meters.

The boys tennis team took its first conference title in many years, earning a #4 seed in the state tournament with a 9-2 regular season record. The girls tennis team likewise was seeded fourth in its bracket.

“I thought we had an awesome year all around in Woodstock athletics,” said Boymer. “Many teams ended their seasons with winning records and put up great performances in the playoffs. I believe our student-athletes, coaches and fans showed strong encouragement, and I was proud of how we represented ourselves as a school and community all year long.”

Among the many members of the senior class who contributed to the athletic success, both with the performance on the field, court, oval, etc., and in the locker rooms, there were at least seventeen who participated in a sport for all three seasons. It is hard enough to be a student and athlete for one sports season, much less for the entire school year. Special recognition goes to this elite group:

Colby Eaton who plays football, snowboarding and lacrosse. And captain in all three sports. And class salutatorian!

Corey White. Football, basketball and lacrosse. And named All-American in lacrosse!

Twins Memphis Begin and Wyatt Begin. Both football players, both snowboarders and both baseball players. 

Otto Nisimblat, a football player, downhill skier, and tennis player. 

Abass Issaka, exchange student and soccer player, Nordic skier, and track and field. 

Cooper Dorsogna: soccer, basketball and tennis. 

Alex Rice who does the football-basketball-baseball trifecta. With one of his many roles on the football team as kicker and punter. Evan Kurash who does the other trifecta of soccer-ice hockey- and-lacrosse. And Ryan Runstein in football, ice hockey and lacrosse. Runstein took on the chore of learning to be the lacrosse goalkeeper this season.

Hannah Reed in soccer and downhill skiing and lacrosse. Sophie Yates, not only a captain and key member of the ice hockey team, but also played field hockey and lacrosse. Megan Tarleton in field hockey, basketball and softball. Tarleton’s basketball teammate Morgan Myers also ran cross-country and track and field.

Brighton Martsolf-Tan, member of the ice hockey championship squad as well as soccer and lacrosse. Abigail Masillo plays both soccer and lacrosse and excels at alpine skiing. Kiera Zayas also does the same three sports.

“We all legitimately care about one another,” said Dorsogna. “And we were so eager to get back to a more normal year than the past two. I think that’s part of why we are so well-connected.”

These connections helped continue the legacy of WUHS athletics. Success in athletics is often intertwined with success in academics. Not only is Eaton’s accomplishment as salutatorian a remarkable one, but class valedictorian Wyatt Napier excelled at soccer, serving as team captain this year. All of the student-athletes this year have put a lot into not only athletics, but the larger picture as well. To wit, consider another big moment in Woodstock athletics this year as well.

“Another fond moment,” said Boymer, “was when the girls’ field hockey team surprised former longtime coach Wendy Wannop with an honorary bench at this last home game of the season. Many members of the Wannop family were in attendance and current coach, Leanne Tapley, made a heartfelt speech about how much Wendy meant to the field hockey program over so many years. It’s important to take time to appreciate those that have put so much of themselves into a given sport, and that was a really cool way to celebrate Wendy.”

The present: obviously a strong one for Woodstock athletics. The past: maintaining and gaining strength from those important ties. And the future: we cannot wait and see what 2022-2023 and beyond holds!


Celebration of life for Mary Christine “Chris” (Cashion) Mosher on June 25

A celebration of life for the family and friends of Mary Christine “Chris” (Cashion) Mosher, 88, who passed away on October 19, 2021 will be held on Saturday, June 25, 2022 at the Thompson Senior Center in Woodstock, Vermont from 12:30 pm to 3:00 pm.

Please consider not wearing black to the celebration.

The Cabot Funeral Home is assisting the family.

Service for Gerald P. Kalanges on July 7

A graveside committal service for Gerald P. Kalanges, 92, who died Jan. 11, 2021 will be held at the Vermont Veterans Cemetery, Section D in Randolph, Vermont on July 7, 2022 at 1:00 pm.

David A. Swett

David A. Swett, age 71, of Hartland, Vermont, formerly of Milton, Mass., passed away peacefully after a brief illness surrounded by his family. He is survived by Jennifer Keith Swett of Hartland, the loving mother of his beloved sons Ian W. Swett (Katrina) of Cumberland, Rhode Island and Benjamin E. Swett of Bradford, New Hampshire. He was the proud and devoted grandfather of Kalia Blancaflor Swett and Kamden Alan Swett of Cumberland, Rhode Island. He is also survived by his sisters Anne L. Murphy (Joseph) of Milton, Mass., Barbara J. O’Connor (Kevin) of North Falmouth, Mass., and Janet L. Bejtlich (Michael) of Rochester Mass. He was the son of the late Alan M. and Dora L. Wiswell Swett of Milton, Mass. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews.

Mr. Swett was born on January 2, 1951 at Milton Hospital. He was a member of Milton High Class of 1969 and received a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from UNH in 1973. After a long and successful career as a Mechanical Engineer, he retired in January 2021.

David enjoyed playing and listening to music, sailing and being on the water, building model ships, taking long walks with his dog, and cycling along the back roads of Vermont. He had a large collection of grandfather and cuckoo clocks. His greatest joy was being Grampy and spending time with his grandchildren.

A small gathering for David will be held at the Vermont home, 90 Draper Road, Hartland on July 24th from 1 till 3 pm. The Memorial Celebration of his life will be held at Ian’s home in Cumberland, Rhode Island on August 27th from 1-3 pm.

Donations in his memory may be made to Upper Valley Haven 713 Hartford Ave White River Junction VT 05001

Jeffery Palsgrove Schaffner


Jeffery Palsgrove Schaffner of Sharon, Vermont passed away unexpectedly on January 2, 2022.

Jeff was born on February 25th, 1963, in Washington D.C.  Later when he was in 3rd grade, his family moved to Claremont, NH, for more snow, country living, and a more quiet way of life.  His family’s next move took him to Woodstock, Vermont, where Jeff spent his middle and high school years.  Jeff played football in high school.  With his six foot five, 220-pound athletic body, but kind and sweet demeanor, Jeff was known as the “gentle giant.”

Jeff had a strong work ethic which he learned from his father.  This work ethic led him to a career in line work, digging holes, either by hand, with a power auger, or blasting with dynamite.  Jeff could be found all over Vermont, driving and operating line trucks, setting utility poles, and doing other assorted utility construction, wherever the many jobs took him.  Jeff loved his work.  It was what defined him.

In Jeff’s earlier years, he spent his free time, racing through the woods and trails on ATVs with friends, and on the open road with his motorcycle.  More recently, and after a serious injury, that left him disabled, he enjoyed reading, watching football, and keeping up with current events and politics.  Mostly he loved to be comfortable in his home, watching the birds, snuggling up with his dog Gussie, and hanging out with his loving wife Tamra.

Jeff had a sense of humor that had no end, and a contagious laugh.  His wild and crazy streaks had no boundaries.  If you ever needed a good laugh, all you had to do was spend a few minutes with Jeff.  His gentle nature counterbalanced that crazy side of Jeff beautifully.  He was truly a gift to anyone who had the privilege of having Jeff in their life.

Jeff was predeceased by his mother Ruth P. Schaffner; his father Ivan R. Schaffner Sr. and by his brother I. Richard Schaffner Jr.  He is survived by his sister Meredith (Merry Ann) Gilbert and his devoted wife of 37 years, Tamra W. Schaffner.  Jeff is also survived by many brothers and sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews, and his most loyal and best friend, his Rotweiller, Gussie, who all loved Jeff fiercely.

A memorial service will take place on June 18, 2022 at 11 am at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dairy Hill, South Royalton, VT.

A private message of sympathy for the family can be shared at The Boardway and Cilley Funeral Home, Chelsea, VT is in charge of arrangements.

Frederick Jacob Eydt

Frederick Jacob Eydt (Fred) died peacefully after a short illness on May 17th, 2022 in Vero Beach, Florida. He was 93 years old. Fred was born on March 9th, 1929 in Buffalo, New York to Harold and Edna Heintz Eydt. Fred grew up in Binghamton New York attending Binghamton Central High School where he excelled in the sport of basketball. His talent on the court was recognized and he was recruited to play for Cornell University where he graduated in 1952 with a degree in hospitality from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. His talent on the court as a top defensive center as well as scoring leader produced a draft pick from the Boston Celtics for the ’52 season.  Fred remained devoted to his alma mater throughout his life, serving as a Cornell trustee in the ’80s & ’90s and was later named Trustee Emeritus. While serving as trustee he helped to raise substantial funds for Cornell. Years later Fred would be inducted into the Cornell Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984 and recognized as Hotelie of the year in 1991 by the Cornell Society of Hotelmen.

At 6’5” Fred didn’t see a future in the pros as center, so he moved straight to New York City to begin his impressive career in the hotel industry. His career began at Hilton International working with Conrad and Barron Hilton. His professional journey included highly respected jobs at Treadway Inns, Inter-Continental Hotels/Pam Am, and International Industries. Perhaps his favorite position was working for RockResorts as Executive VP and then President managing luxury resorts such as Caneel Bay, Little Dix Bay, and the Woodstock Inn among other resorts in Hawaii.  Working with Laurence Rockefeller and other peers, his professionalism and work ethic were recognized by all who worked with him. He became a mentor and great friend to some who he stayed connected with his entire life. After leaving RockResorts, Fred partnered with a Cornell classmate, Charles “Chuck” Feeney and together they co-founded and launched Medallion Hotels, a group of distressed properties in the Midwest that were successfully turned around into high-end business hotels.  His hotel experiences gave him the opportunity to travel to all corners of the world, which for a guy with a very modest upbringing, always gave him great joy.

Fred would consider his family to be his greatest achievement. He met the love of his life Margaret Katherine Korchak at Binghamton High School They married in March 1951 and together raised five children. Their 67-year journey together took them to Maywood, NJ, Rochester, NY, New Canaan, CT, Hidden Hills, CA, back to New Canaan, New York City, Woodstock, VT, Palm City & Vero Beach, FL.  Fred’s jobs enabled them to travel frequently all over the world.

Fred picked up tennis and became an avid player, and cultivated a love of the game to his children. He served as president of the New Canaan Field Club in the late 70s.  In the early 80s he took up golf and along with Marge spent many happy hours on the links at the Country Club of New Canaan, the Woodstock Country Club, VT, and Harbour Ridge Country Club, FL.  In addition, Fred was a member of the University Club, the Tavern Club & The River Club in New York and also helped secure the new location and independent building for the Cornell Club of NYC on East 44th Street.  In the 1980’s he and Marge purchased an apartment in Manhattan where they embarked on a new chapter enjoying life together in the city.

In 1994 Fred and Marge threw caution to the wind and purchased a large farm outside of Woodstock, VT in South Pomfret. The property, Pine Hollow Farm, would become the family hub for 22 years. It was a special place loved by the whole family and was the site of many celebrations and gatherings. Everyone was always welcomed. Family dinners, ski adventures, hikes, pond swims, and lots of laughs were all part of the fun.  Fred loved the farm, working outside and carving out a life in the community. He and Marge were active members of the St. James Episcopal Church in Woodstock. Fred would often be seen driving around in his vintage 1949 green Chevy truck with his trusted yellow Labrador retriever Charlie by his side.

Fred was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend to many. He gave his time and guidance to many young people throughout his career and kept connected with lifelong relationships. His insights and perspectives helped many get their bearings in life. He was humble and always considered family, faith, higher education, and friends to be of the utmost importance. He loved a good meal, a bowl of ice cream, rousing conversations, and watching the New York Mets.  Fred was predeceased by his wife, Margaret K. Eydt who passed away in March 2018, He is survived by Robert, of Rowayton, CT, William (Lisa) of New Canaan, CT, Patricia Vance (Rick) of Apple Valley, MN, Richard of Atlanta, GA and Roger of Snohomish, WA. Fred is also survived by 11 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. A memorial will be held on September 7 at St. Marks Church in New Canaan.

Suzanne Fay (Snyder) DeTurk

Suzanne Fay (Snyder) DeTurk of Quechee, VT passed away on Friday, May 20, 2022 at the age of 93 at DHMC, Lebanon, NH.

Suzanne was born in Philadelphia, PA, on August 4, 1928, the daughter of Dr. Thomas Butler Snyder and Barbara Hansel Snyder. Sue grew up along French Creek in Kimberton, by Kennedy Bridge in a house that is now the Kimberton Waldorf School. During WWII her family moved to Pine Forge, PA, to the former Rutter Mansion along the Manatawny.

After graduating from high school, Sue met and married Harold P. DeTurk. With Harold, Sue traveled the eastern states by car from Florida to Michigan, Maine, and Canada. An independent, hard-working person who took great pride in her work and her family, Sue worked at Superior Tube, a steel company in Collegeville, PA for 20 years as she raised her two children, Glenn (Skip) and David. A strong and confident swimmer, boater, and waterskier, Sue often recalled many fond memories of time spent on Lake Wallenpaupack in the Poconos, where she once got eleven skiers up behind her Chris Craft. Sue also lived in Oley, PA, where her husband was born and raised, and for a few years owned and operated a general store in East Wakefield, NH.

Sue spent the second half of her life in the Woodstock and Quechee area after moving to the area in 1974. She found the passion of her life while working as a pacer technician in the pacemaker clinic at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. In her decades at DHMC, Sue developed many strong and lasting relationships with doctors, patients, and colleagues. Over the past twenty years, Sue has worked extensively through Project Pacer International and the Boston Cardiac Foundation to collect pacemakers and coordinate missions to implant pacers around the world in patients who could not otherwise afford them. As Director of the Boston Cardiac Foundation, Sue collaborated with and trained many health care professionals during over 25 consecutive trips to India, as well as multiple trips to Bolivia, Paraguay, China, and Rwanda.

Sue remained in contact with many of the doctors and patients she met through her work and held great fondness for the people and experiences of her foreign travels. While she enjoyed recounting highlights (dinner with the president & first lady of Paraguay, an audience with Sai Baba, an Indian spiritual master, the warm hospitality of Project Pacer’s doctors, and visiting wonders of the world like the Taj Mahal, Stone Soldiers of Shanghai, Iguazu Falls, and horseback riding through tea plantations in Nepal), she also greatly appreciated the more unusual and adventurous aspects of her travels, like surviving a coup attempt in Asuncion, an earthquake in Chile, a complete power outage in the midst of a Brazil/Paraguay soccer game, and a leap from a moving vehicle in Delhi.

Among the many hobbies Sue enjoyed throughout her life were knitting, clock-making, decoupage, gardening, cooking, puzzles, and reading. She spent most of her later years watching the Patriots and Red Sox, rarely missing a game. Her passion for New England teams was eclipsed only by her love of her grandchildren. Sue was a familiar site along the sidelines of her grandchildren’s sporting and performance events.

Suzanne was predeceased by her husband, Harold P. DeTurk, and her brothers, Robert and Thomas Snyder. Surviving her are her two children, Glenn (Joan) DeTurk, and David (Ann) DeTurk, three grandchildren, Christopher (Dunstable, MA), and Rebecca and Dylan DeTurk (Hartland, VT).

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to: Dartmouth Health Cardiovascular Medicine Fellowship 23226 (Please include number and note that donation is in memory of Suzanne DeTurk.)

Send to: Medical and Healthcare Advancement Dartmouth Health, One Medical Center Drive. HB 7070 Lebanon, NH 03756

Private services will be held at a later date.

An online guest book can be found at

Annual Appeal

In the final week of our Annual Appeal, we’re grateful and hopeful

By Dan Cotter, Vermont Standard publisher  

Like at most newspapers, times have been tough at the Standard.

­­­But unlike most newspapers, our situation doesn’t appear to be hopeless. In fact, it’s quite hopeful.

As I’ve chronicled in these pages in the past, the Standard now only generates about half as much revenue from the sale of advertising as it used to. In large part, that’s due to changes in the way people buy and sell things. Big box retailers and chain stores that don’t advertise in community newspapers attract most of the customers, which comes at the expense of smaller independent stores that tend to be the most loyal newspaper advertisers. And the rapid consumer shift today towards purchasing from Amazon and other online retailers has negatively impacted many local stores, and therefore local newspapers. When businesses struggle or cease to exist, they no longer advertise in the paper.

In addition, much of the classified advertising that used to be found in newspapers has now moved instead to online help-wanted, real estate and auto sales platforms. Plus, many local businesses now spend more of their marketing budgets on digital ads with giants like Google, Facebook and others.

The bottom line is that the math no longer adds up for the Standard to count on local advertising dollars alone to fund a quality news operation.

The hopeful part is that the Standard still has a very loyal, highly engaged audience that truly values the journalism we provide for the communities we serve. The Standard has not experienced the dramatic circulation decline that so many other newspapers around the country have endured, and our complementary audience on our news update website is substantial.

It’s gratifying, and no surprise then, that in the past few weeks so many of our readers have stepped up to offer well wishes and make a contribution to our 2021 Annual Appeal. Please accept our heartfelt thanks and our pledge to use your gifts wisely to fund the local journalism you deserve!



Your Annual Appeal gift supports not only our paper, but also our people

By Dan Cotter, publisher  

If ever there was an industry in which people are the product, it’s got to be newspapers.

Think about it. Each edition of a newspaper is essentially a compilation of the best efforts of a bunch of different people, all with complementary roles and responsibilities, who invested their time, talent, and creativity to produce their piece of a report that briefs you on the latest news in the community. Especially at a small paper like the Standard, there’s very little redundancy – everyone has a distinct job to do and they are counted upon to perform it to the best of their ability, under the pressure of deadlines, for a quality finished product to come together.

A community newspaper is sometimes referred to as “the weekly miracle,” because each week papers like the Standard start out with a blank page, and by deadline there’s a completely hand-crafted, finished local news report in your hands or available on your screen. It’s unique each week; full of content that is fresh and different from any of the earlier editions of the paper in its 168-year history.

Nearly all of the content in the Standard is reported, written and photographed from scratch by our own journalists and contributors.

Unlike most other media, we don’t simply pass along AP news stories or syndicated articles. We are the only news organization that is dedicated to serving our communities with original reporting about news that either happens here or directly affects the people who live here.

So, when you make a contribution to our 2021 Annual Appeal, you’re actually supporting the day-to-day efforts of a sizeable group of deeply committed individuals who collaborate every week to produce the Standard. Nearly 40 people, both paid and volunteers, play a role in keeping you informed about the news that affects you most – local news.

The people who produce the Standard are your neighbors. When you support the paper, you’re supporting them.



Today we’re asking all our friends to support local journalism

To Our Readers,

They say that old friends are the best friends.

Old friends have your back when the going gets tough. They help you carry on when you’re not strong.

After serving Woodstock and its surrounding towns for 168 years, you could say that the Standard and this community go way back. We hope we’ve made some friends along the way, and this month we’re leaning on our friends, both old and new, as we launch our first Annual Appeal fundraising effort.

We sincerely thank you for reading the Vermont Standard. Striving to produce a quality local news report that keeps you informed and engaged in our community is a critically important mission, and we’re quite honored to be entrusted with that assignment.

As we explained in the article that appeared in this space last week, we urgently need your support to help us bridge the gap between our declining advertising revenue and the expenses required to produce the local journalism that you need, want and deserve.



Standard launches its first Annual Appeal

For 168 years, the town of Woodstock and its surrounding communities have relied upon the Vermont Standard to report the local news.

The paper’s mission each week has been to keep residents abreast of the latest happenings; let readers know what’s going on; give them something to talk about; tell them when someone is born or when someone dies, and everything in-between. We tell you who won, who lost; whether there’s reason to celebrate or to mourn; whether there is cause to be skeptical or reason to go all in; whether to be optimistic or cautious. Good news or bad, the Standard’s audience simply wants to know, “What’s new around here, what’s the latest?”

No other news media covers this particular slice of Vermont. Sure, regional news providers, such as TV stations, online sites, or daily papers from other towns, touch on our area and report some of the bigger stories that occur, but our communities aren’t their main focus or primary concern. At the Standard, though, our own communities are our only concern.

And the “little” stories are often just as important as the “big” ones to those who call this place home. Like we do.

We think ours is a noble mission. We’re proud to be entrusted to keep our communities informed and connected. We tell residents about local subjects that may interest them, affect them, entertain or inspire them. Independently owned, we work on behalf of the people, businesses and organizations of this area.

And readers look forward to the paper each week. Whether in print or digital, they read it, they trust it, and they have conversations with family and friends about the information they find in it.

That’s the way it was so many years ago when the Standard began and throughout all those decades since. That’s the way it remains to this very day.

Since 1853, the communities we serve have needed us. Right now, we need them.

Today the Standard is launching its first Annual Appeal.



Newspapers Are In a Race Against the Clock


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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