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Features | June 21, 2024

BarnArts’ outdoor production of ‘Macbeth’ offers atmosphere, intrigue and mystery

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News | June 20, 2024

Bridgewater man sentenced for drug trafficking

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News | June 20, 2024

Woodstock selects new Director of Public Works

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News | June 20, 2024

School Board puts off new school bond vote indefinitely

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News | June 20, 2024

Petitions force a vote on new short-term rental ordinance

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Sports | June 20, 2024

Wasps defeated in Girls Lacrosse state championship

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    News

    Bridgewater man sentenced for drug trafficking

    A Windsor County man, who was a major player in an international drug trafficking conspiracy based in India, has been placed under federal supervised release conditions for three years.

    Law Zabriskie, 66, of Bridgewater was ordered to pay $10,100 in federal court fines and costs. He also was ordered to forfeit $10,000.

    Senior Federal Judge William K. Sessions III said recently that he would impose a “time-served sentence” even though Zabriskie had spent no time behind bars. Sessions also directed Zabriskie to do 100 hours of community service in the Bridgewater area.

    Sessions said he considered placing Zabriskie under house arrest but was told by the U.S. Probation Office that his residence does not have cell phone service to allow for monitoring.

    Zabriskie admitted in federal court last summer that he acquired 3 drugs for redistribution: Tramadol, an opioid pain reliever, Tapentadol, a stronger narcotic for moderate and severe short-term pain and Carisoprodol, a muscle relaxant.

    During a court-ordered search at Zabriskie’s home in Bridgewater in June 2021, law enforcement confiscated about 15,000 Zolpidem pills concealed in packages of baked goods. Zolpidem is used for sleep problems and requires a prescription. Also taken were shipping materials for drug distribution. 

    Investigators also seized about 14,449 regulated pills containing Schedule II and IV drugs during a court-ordered raid at the Bethel home of one of Zabriskie’s co-conspirators in Vermont in June 2021. James Bannister, 60, was placed on 3 years federal supervised release last November for his part in the conspiracy.

    Beginning in 2019 and continuing until June 29, 2021, Zabriskie and other conspirators were involved in receiving and redistributing controlled substances and misbranded pharmaceutical drugs, court records show. 

    For more on this story, please see our June 20 edition of the Vermont Standard.

    Woodstock selects new Director of Public Works

    The Town of Woodstock has appointed a new Director of Public Works, Chris Barr who has worked for the town for the last six years. In a public statement on behalf of the Town on June 19, the Town of Woodstock Administrative Assistant Nicole Nourse stated, “Chris’s extensive experience and proven leadership make him an excellent choice for this role. We are confident that he will continue to drive improvements and innovations in our public works department.”

    For further details, please see our June 20 edition of the Vermont Standard. 

    Local couple faces COVID relief fraud charges

    A Windsor County couple is facing various fraud charges in connection with a series of bogus federal loans they sought during the COVID-19 pandemic era.

    Bounthavong “Bae” Sonthikoummane, 42, pleaded not guilty to 11 felony counts, while his partner, Ashlyn Arcouette, 32, denied three felony counts when they appeared in U.S. District Court in Burlington this week.

    The three business loans obtained by Sonthikoummane in 2020 and 2021 totaled more than $117,200, while the loan secured by Arcouette in 2020 was $56,900, court records show.

    They were obtained through the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) or the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. 

    The indictment charges Sonthikoummane with bank fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, money laundering, and making false statements. It charges Arcouette with wire fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering.

    Both defendants used most of the business loans received to invest in Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange, the indictment noted. 

    Court records note each loan application submitted by the defendants contained materially false and fraudulent statements and representations about the businesses.

    In two cases, Sonthikoummane reportedly submitted false IRS documents that contained bogus financial information about the businesses, court records show.

    Sonthikoummane obtained forgiveness of one PPP loan in late 2020 by falsely certifying that he had used the loan proceeds for business purposes in accordance with loan program rules, court records note.

    An FBI report said special agents, with help by the Hartford Police, arrested the couple at their home on Woodstock Road last Thursday. The couple, who are not married, had five-month-old twins at home. The FBI agreed to take Sonthikoummane into custody immediately and said Arcouette could appear later in federal court.

    During the arrest, investigators also learned Sonthikoummane was a heroin addict and appeared to be in medical distress and vomiting, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Waples said.

    Investigators also spotted nine firearms and a large amount of ammunition in the home, Waples said. He noted it is illegal for an unlawful user of narcotics to possess firearms. 

    Federal Magistrate Judge Kevin J. Doyle agreed Monday afternoon to continue Sonthikoummane’s detention hearing until Thursday to determine if he could be safely released and enroll in a needed drug treatment program.

    Defense lawyer Christopher Dall of Norwich asked for 90 days to investigate the case and file possible pre-trial motions. Doyle set a deadline of Sept. 16.

    The following day, defense lawyer Mark Kaplan of Burlington, who was retained by Arcouette, received the same 90-day period to file motions. 

    For more on this story, please see our June 20 edition of the Vermont Standard.

    School Board puts off new school bond vote indefinitely

    The Mountain Views Supervisory Union (MVSU) School Board voted Monday evening to delay indefinitely a second vote on a bond issue to fund construction of a new Woodstock Union High School and Middle School (WUHS/MS), citing uncertainties posed by Vermont lawmakers’ continuing deliberations about educational funding reform over the next two years.

    The decision comes on the heels of the Vermont Legislature’s action earlier Monday, June 17 overriding Gov. Phil Scott’s veto of the property tax “yield bill,” H.887. While the immediate impact of the veto decision, which passed the House 103-42 and the Senate 22-7, is an estimated average increase of 13.8 percent in property taxes statewide, it’s the longer-term implications of H.887 for school construction in Vermont that has MVSU officials the most concerned.

    MVSU School Board Vice Chair Ben Ford, who also chairs the board’s Finance and New School Build committees, said at a special board meeting Monday evening that the bill heralds the early return in fiscal year 2026 of what is known as the “Excess Spend Threshold” in state funding for education, commonly dubbed the “penalty phase” for school districts that exceed Vermont Agency of Education (AOE) spending caps. Any spending over the cap gets counted double for the purpose of calculating tax rates. Most importantly for the proposed school bond and building project, Ford noted, H.887 removes a “safe harbor” exemption for already-approved construction projects such as the proposed new WUHS/MS building, factoring those costs into the excess spending formula — a move that MVSU administrators find particularly disconcerting.

    H.887, which will now go into effect on July 1, also calls for the creation of a Vermont “Commission on the Future of Public Education,” which is tasked with recommending to legislators comprehensive education financing reforms, including the siting and sizes of new school buildings throughout the state, suggesting that the creation of centralized “hub” schools and further school consolidation may be on the horizon in times ahead. The state AOE’s position toward school construction in future years thus seems increasingly likely to be what Ford termed a “build newer and fewer” approach to any building efforts.

    The MVSU School Board initially slated Monday evening’s special meeting to review for a final time three alternative options to the $99 million WUHS/MS school bond that was defeated by voters in the seven towns of the school district on Town Meeting Day, March 5. 

    MVSU Board members had hoped to choose one of three options Monday evening, with the possibility of going before the voters to seek approval of a bond issue for a totally new WUHS/MS building as early as September. Given the doubt sown by the passage of H.887, however, officials feel that early revote on the bond issue would be doomed. 

    For more on this story, please see our June 20 edition of the Vermont Standard

    Petitions force a vote on new short-term rental ordinance

    Last week, a group of residents submitted two petitions to bring Woodstock’s new short-term rental (STR) ordinance — which was unanimously passed on May 2 by the Woodstock Selectboard and the Village Trustees — to a public vote. 

    One petition challenges the ordinance in the town, and the other challenges the ordinance in the Village.

    According to Charles Degener III, the Woodstock Town Clerk, both petitions have signatures from more than the required five percent of registered voters necessary to force a vote, which the selectboard and Village Trustees now have 60 days to schedule.

    This petition is the second in front of the Village in two months, and together, the petitions are the first the Town or Village has been faced with in at least the last 20 years, according to Woodstock Municipal Manager Eric Duffy.

    The ordinance in question would standardize STR rules and fees across the Village and Town, cap the allowed number of STRs at 55 for owner-occupied units and 55 for non-owner-occupied units, which represents roughly 5% of Woodstock’s housing stock, and remove operation limits so permitted STR operators can rent as many times a year as they want.

    The ordinance would charge operators a new, annual base fee of $500 for owner-occupied STRs and of $1000 for non-owner-occupied STRs. Operators would also be charged an annual fee tied to their unit’s maximum occupancy. STRs with a one- to four-person maximum occupancy would be charged $250, those with a five- to eight-person maximum occupancy would be charged $1000, and those with nine or more would be charged $2000.

    Woodstock couple Susan Fuller and David Hill were involved in the creation of the petition, but they said no individual has taken credit for its development.“It’s a big group of people who are involved, and it’s a very diverse selection of people: liberal, conservative, young, and old,” said Fuller. 

    The group submitted an outline of their primary issues with the ordinance alongside the completed petition. The list includes the annual fee, the rising cost of homeownership in Woodstock, and the lack of an exception for STRs that are grandfathered in under the current ordinance.

    Duffy encouraged anyone with questions about the ordinance, its impact on them, or its impact on Woodstock to reach out to the Planning and Zoning office. 

    For more about this, please see our June 20 edition of the Vermont Standard.

    Woodstock seniors graduate and look ahead to the future

    By Lauren Dorsey, Staff Writer

    Union Arena erupted into whoops, cheers, and roaring applause last Friday evening as Woodstock Union High School’s 83 graduates, uniformly clad in dark green caps and gowns, took their seats. 

    This year’s WUHS graduation ceremony centered around two closely intertwined threads: this small, rural school’s place in the larger world, and the importance of gratitude.

    As the school band hit the final note of “Pomp and Circumstance,” Principal Garon Smail approached the podium, which was set up on one side of the iceless hockey arena. 

    He opened the ceremony with a few words about how the class of 2024 has shaped the community around it. “As I reflect on our school’s legacy, and how this class contributes to it, I look at a poem from Georgia Johnson,” said Smail. “He writes, ‘Your world is as big as you make it.’ While Woodstock High School and Middle School is considered small by many standards, this class has made us big in numerous ways.” 

    Smail proceeded to list the class’s numerous achievements, from excelling at exams to starting businesses, before giving the podium over to Mountain Views School District Superintendent Sherry Sousa. 

    Sousa, after reminding the audience of the hardships unique to this class, who took many of their freshman year courses online because of the pandemic, introduced a new addition to this year’s proceedings. “At the end of today’s ceremony, each graduate will get a carnation to give to someone that helped them make it through this journey,” said Sousa before turning to address the graduating students. “Fellow adventurers, as you paddle off into the great unknown, we urge you to hold fast to your dreams, to chart your own course, to seize every opportunity that comes your way, and to always remain thankful.”

    Sousa was followed by the three co-Salutorians, Farren Stainton, Tori McNamara, and Phoebe Goldberg, who talked about community during their joint speech. As they took turns on the microphone, switching back and forth every few sentences, each salutatorian tied their experiences to the metaphor of a painting, together demonstrating how their diverse class has been stronger because they’ve worked together. “Our class has always been there for one another,” said McNamara. “No matter where I turned throughout my time here there was always someone ready to help me.”

    They were followed by valedictorian Leah Kuhnert, who took the idea a step further and applied it to the road ahead. “As we all know, Woodstock Union High School is a small school in a small town in a small state,” said Kuhnert.  “I used to wish I went to a bigger and fancier school, [I worried] that I was missing out on this classic big American high school experience, but as I prepare to move on to the classic big American college experience, I realize that there’s nothing small about the sort of community that we have in this place.”

    The WUHS speakchorus — performed this year by Clara Shortle, William Obbard, and Kamron Yuengling — followed Kuhnert’s address. Switching speakers every few words, and sometimes talking over each other, the three students thoughtfully celebrated each graduate’s individual successes, unique attributes, and defining moments, putting the tight-knit, supportive community that defined the others students’ speeches on full display. After each student’s name, the trio listed a variety of descriptors, ranging from, “wicked drummer” and “future neurosurgeon” to “holds quiet intelligence” and “has a piercing insight into literature.”

    They closed with a call to action, “This is the time for bold metrics and this is the country and you are the generation,” said Yuengling, who seamlessly passed it over to Shortle. “That degree of yours is a blunt instrument,” Shortle said. Obbard closed the performance, saying, “Go forth and build something with it.”

    The final speech of the evening was by WUHS class president Maggie Mello, who urged her fellow classmates not to forget the lessons they learned in this unique place, and their ability to build happiness wherever they end up. “We should not forget the impact we have on others to be that support for others to celebrate their achievements and to lift them up when they are down,” said Mello.

    As the graduates received their diplomas, their families, friends and supporters made it clear how much they are appreciated, as whoops, hollers, and signs with pictures of their faces filled the arena. 

    Although the ceremony lasted about an hour, it felt to many of the graduates like the blink of an eye. “It went so fast,” Mello told the Standard. “There’s this huge build, through the many years, months, and weeks leading up to it, and then all of a sudden you’re sitting there and it’s going and, in an instant, it’s over.”

    The transition from high school to adulthood can be a rocky one, but for the class of 2024, the road ahead looks bright. “I’ve been talking to a lot of my friends, and I don’t think it’s fully set in yet that we’ve graduated,” said Mello. “But it’s all quite exciting. I think we’re all really looking forward to the opportunities that await us.”

    David Gershman Photos

    Pentangle Arts appoints new Executive Director

    As Pentangle Arts prepares to say goodbye to long-standing Executive Director Alita Wilson, who is retiring after 10 years, the Board underwent an in-depth search for her replacement. In a statement to the Standard, Bill Corson, Chair of Pentangle’s Board of Directors stated, “We are delighted to announce that we have chosen Deborah Greene to take the role effective July 1, 2024.  ”

    For further details, please see our June 20 edition of the Vermont Standard.

    Windsor County Sheriff will provide policing in Hartland

    At Monday night’s Hartland Selectboard meeting, the board voted unanimously to approve a one-year contract with the Windsor County Sheriff’s Department (WCSD) for policing services. The move comes after months of debate centering around the policing needs of the community, including the formation of a Hartland Policing Committee, which selectboard chair Phil Hobbie said evaluated key needs for the town, including response time, community policing and quarterly reporting. 

    “The things that are in the contract that would meet those requirements are the immediacy of response times and [community policing],” said Hobbie. “

    The contract will go into effect from July 1, 2024 through July 1, 2025 and, according to Broker-Campbell,  is contracted for $125,000 for the performance period. The sheriff’s department will provide 32 hours of service per week in conjunction with 8 hours of service provided by Vermont State Police (VSP). The VSP contract was inked at the previous Hartland Selectboard meeting on June 3 and totals $37,311.04 for the performance period. 

    The one-year contract follows several months of month-to-month services recently provided by WCSD, which Hobbie said provided an excellent test run. 

    Following some confusion regarding who to contact in case of an emergency, Broker-Campbell made it clear, “In an emergency, it’s always 911.” For non-emergency issues, residents can reach the sheriff’s department by calling 802-457-5211 or by calling Woodstock Police dispatch at 802-457-1420.  

    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

    BarnArts’ outdoor production of ‘Macbeth’ offers atmosphere, intrigue and mystery

    By Sharon Groblicki, Standard Correspondent

    The outdoor location for BarnArts’ summer production of “Macbeth” is the perfect venue for this most tragic of Shakespeare’s tragedies. The sparse setting of a small stage in the woods with most of the action in the grass in front of the stage and a fire-lit witches’ cauldron downstage is the perfect setting. Up in the airy hill of Fable Farm, the eldritch environment adds mystery and intrigue to a sinister plot.

    The company of actors are reminiscent of the old theater wagon players, braving the elements to do their show. They have been rehearsing in this magical outdoor setting since early May, braving extreme cold, intense heat, winds, insects, and intermittent precipitation. It has made them a close-knit troupe, and thus a dedicated and cohesive ensemble.

    Ross (Kevin Donohue) and an Old Man (Erin Bennett) discuss the strange recent occurrences around Macbeth’s castle.                                Linda Treash Photo

    The witches’ scenes are stunning. The three sisters who open the show (Molly Elsasser, Patti Arrison, and Rose Huston MacLeod) have the stereotypical cackles, moans, and sinister body gyrations down pat as they move around the cauldron and make their dire prophecies.

    As the plot begins, Macbeth (Fergus Ryan) and Banquo (Caleb Paige), two generals serving King Duncan of Scotland, come upon the witches who prophecize that Macbeth will be Thane of Cawdor and then King and that Banquo would beget kings.  

    Macbeth soon discovers that he has indeed become Thane of Cawdor due to the execution of the previous Thane of Cawdor for treason. This news is imparted by Duncan’s sons, Malcolm (Dory Psomas) and Donalbain (Jesse Paige). Of the previous Thane’s histrionic repentance at the gallows, Malcolm delivers the famous line, “Nothing in his life became him like the leaving of it.” Macbeth then begins to think of the possibilities of the rest of the prophecy. 

    When Duncan arrives to honor Macbeth at his castle Dunsinane at Inverness, both Macbeth and his ambitious wife (Kyle Huck) realize the moment of their destiny approaches. Macbeth is hesitant, but if he is to be king, Lady Macbeth insists, he must kill Duncan. (“Screw your courage to the sticking point and we shall not fail.”) 

    Tormented by his ambition and the horror of the deed he is about to perform, Macbeth hallucinates a sword in front of him. (“Is this a dagger I see before me, the handle toward my hand? I have thee not and yet I see thee still. Come, let me clutch thee.”) Within this speech lies the true character of Macbeth. The dagger represents his inner turmoil. With this speech, the audience decides if they are going to empathize with the murderous Macbeth. With this speech, Ryan grabs the audience, not by the throat, but by the heart, because he is so sincere and so heartbreakingly sorry for what he is about to do that he draws us into him. Ryan nails it with this speech! 

    Throughout the play thus far, Ryan has held the audience in the palm of his hand by the beauty and the sincerity of his acting, but in this scene, he has the countenance of an innocent child as he contemplates this horrible decision, and so we are drawn to care about what happens to him throughout the rest of the play. 

    When Macbeth does indeed murder Duncan, spurred on by his wife, Macduff, the Thane of Fife (Aaron Michael Hodge), who is visiting Duncan, discovers the murdered king. Hodge does a fine job in his role, fully expressing the horror of the scene and the deed. Duncan’s sons flee for their lives, and Macbeth is made king. 

    Haunted by the witches’ prophecy to Banquo that he would beget kings, Macbeth orders Banquo killed, along with his son, Fleance (Liam Wheeler), but although Banquo is indeed killed, Fleance escapes. When Banquo’s ghost haunts Macbeth, Caleb Paige as Banquo, who has done a fine job throughout, has his finest moments. As he sits at the table unseen by anyone but Macbeth, his smile is as it was in life, friendly, but now just ever-so-slightly evil. When he leaves the table and Macbeth thinks he is gone, he returns and the smile is just a tiny bit more sinister than before.

    Macbeth (Fergus Ryan) consults a doctor (Nate Beyer) regarding the mental breakdown of Lady Macbeth.                                                                        Alex Montaño Photo

    This production adheres tightly to the Shakespearean script and thus includes a scene that is often not included —  the Hecate scene. The character of Hecate (Tapley Trudell) is the Greek Goddess of Witchcraft and Magic, and this scene is spectacular in its outdoor setting. Another three witches (Julianne Borger, Kaetlyn Collins, and Jesse Paige) join the original three sisters as they summon the spirit of Hecate (“Double, Double, Toil and Trouble…”) in a beautifully choreographed ritual dance. Elyse Robichard joins the ritual as a thoroughly magical cat whose movements are more catlike than human, but they are certainly more mysterious than those of a normal cat. 

    Hecate materializes as one of the witches chants the famous line, “By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes,” and Trudell does a fine job as she confronts the witches because they have dealt with Macbeth without consulting her. This scene is unnecessary to the plot, but it is the beginning of the turning point wherein the witches’ prophecy is overturned. Hecate will bring things to an end, but a dismal and horrible end.

    One of the other characters whose scene is seemingly superfluous is the Porter (Shannon McGonis), who earlier in the plot has a scene where he is hungover and is called upon to answer the gate. But this scene also is important to the play as it a) establishes Macbeth’s castle as hell, foreshadowing the horror that is to come with the finding of Duncan’s body and the other dreadful and macabre events to follow; and b) provides comic relief to lower the growing intensity before the plot becomes increasingly horrific. McGonis, in his first theater role ever proves himself to be an actor of worth as he fulfills both of these purposes admirably.

    As Lady Macbeth becomes increasingly unhinged, Huck turns in an admirable performance, building from the ambitious wife who goads her husband into murdering Duncan to to her final madness and self-loathing in her final scene. Her depravity builds from the “unsex me here” monologue at the play’s beginning when we she summons the spirits to keep her on her truly evil path to her final monologue in her suicide scene.

    Leah Paige also handles multiple roles well, most notably as Macduff’s son. 

    The legend behind the stage superstition that the name of this play not be spoken aloud is because there is so much darkness and decent into dark magic that it brings bad luck to the speaker. While the play is certainly macabre (and even darker than is reported here), the setting in the orchard at Fable Farm with the lovely set by Linda Treash, and the beauty of the direction by Killian White, the exquisite choreography by Erin Bennett and the perfection of the sound/music by Carol and Neal Cronce make this a beautiful play. The lovely poetic language of Shakespeare is brought out by the quality of the acting, and so be prepared to see a lovely piece of theater. Ryan’s virtuoso performance as the ambitious and tormented Macbeth is exquisite from the moment he enters the stage until until his final breath. The costumes, designed by August Doughty, are part of the vision of the theater wagon troupe that inspire that lovely rural image. The fight choreography by Jake O’Neill, is perfectly executed. This is a lovely production with a famously macabre plot. So this reviewer will say the name of this play aloud as she recommends it highly to people. I will not go so far, however, as to wish the cast good luck. I do not want to tempt the theater spirits, so, break a leg, guys!

    You have a winner up there on the hill in Barnard.

    West Windsor Music Festival, June 28-39

    Celebrated pianist and Artistic Director of the West Windsor Music Festival, Sakiko Ohashi has curated another impressive roster of artists to join her for the third annual West Windsor Music Festival.

    Ohashi is a Julliard-trained international musician, with performances and training spanning the United States, Canada, Europe, and her native home, Japan, where she began training at four years old. She has performed at a number of prestigious venues; among them, Lincoln Center in New York, Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Weill Recital Hall, Juilliard Theatre, and The Harvard Club.

    Joining her in this year’s festival, Ohashi has hand-picked accompaniment by pianist Orli Shaham, who will join her in a piano four-hands performance, Doosook Kim, violinist, ‘cellist, Maxim Koslov, and ‘cellist, German Marcano, all of whom obtain stacked and impressive musical resumes.

    On Left: Sakiko Ohashi, On Right (from top left, clockwise): Maxim Kozlov, Orli Shaham, German Marcano, and Doosook Kim. Photos Provided

    This year’s festival will commence on Friday, June 28, and continue through the weekend with performances on Saturday and Sunday, June 29 & 30 at the West Windsor Town Hall.

    For a detailed background of the artists and a schedule of events, please visit this full description page.

    Quechee Balloon Festival was full of flights, fun, and flavor

    The annual Quechee Hot Air Balloon Festival took place over Father’s Day Weekend, treating locals and tourists alike to a display of colorful hot air balloons, crafts, live music, food, and fun activities for the whole family. Following a windy Saturday that kept the hot air balloons tethered to the earth, attendees still got to witness the magic of a dusky balloon glow; and on Sunday morning, the balloons were sky-high once again.

    Rick Russell and Alex Russell Photos

    • Balloons take off on Sunday night.

    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.”

    For Woodstock’s Kortekamp fatherhood means giving kids a chance to be themselves

    By Lauren Dorsey, Staff Writer

    As Father’s Day approaches, we talked with Woodstock resident Todd Kortekamp, who is both a biological father and a foster father. “Fatherhood, to me, means giving kids a chance to be who they are and learning about that as much on their own as possible,” said Kortekamp. “We felt like Vermont was a great place for them to do that.”

    Kortekamp and his wife, Beth, moved to the area in 2019. “We wanted our kids to be able to get around, get dirty and muddy, climb trees, and be themselves,” he said. “When I was growing up, my dad had a small part-time farm, and it was a great experience. We wanted to give our kids that as well.”

    Over the past four years, Kortekamp has gradually been creating his own part-time farm. This year, he is raising a variety of animals, including chickens, llamas, and pigs. “I think it’s important for my kids to know where their food comes from, as well as doing chores, helping out on the farm, raising animals, and being stewards of the land,” said Kortekamp. “Just this morning, they helped me put the animals out into the rotating fence and collected the eggs from the chickens.”

    When Kortekamp was growing up, his father had a small part-time farm, an experience he is now trying to recreate for his own children. This year, Kortekamp is raising chickens, llamas and pigs. Courtesy of Todd Kortekamp

    Kortekamp helps his kids sell eggs to their neighbors, which has been a rewarding experience for them. “They clean them up, put them in cartons, and sell them to folks,” he said. “It’s been really fun, both for them and for me.”

    Kortekamp has two daughters, aged seven and nine, and a foster son, now almost three, who his family has been fostering since he was 13 months old. “We never fostered a kid before, but when we came here, we realized we had been blessed with so much,” said Kortekamp. “Our kids were doing great, we felt like giving back, and we had the bandwidth to take on a child.”

    Fostering has been an incredible experience for Kortekamp, but he emphasized that he’s not doing it for himself. “A lot of people say, ‘How could you ever handle giving them back?’ said Kortekamp, “The thing is, it’s not about me. It’s about giving him the best environment possible while he’s with us.”

    Kortecamp explained that when he and his wife first began thinking about fostering, they were advised that adding younger children to the family can be easier than older ones. “That way it doesn’t mess with the current dynamic, the way things are set up,” said Kortecamp. “We don’t do anything different with him. We’ve accepted that he’s our son. Yes, he has some other qualifications and the intent is that he gets back with his mom, but in the meantime, he’s one of us.”

    Just like with his other kids, Kortekamp makes sure his son gets plenty of time outdoors, an emphasis he seems to really enjoy. “It has just been amazing,” said Kortekamp. “I drive around the tractor, and he sits on my lap, and he’s just so happy. What a gift to give a child who has been challenged and not had the greatest first year of his life, to be here in rural Vermont experiencing everything.”

    While Vermont’s open landscapes may have been a big draw, Kortekamp tries to take advantage of everything Woodstock has to offer. “This is an amazing community. We are constantly meeting people in town who are just so happy to be here,” he said. “There’s so much to do — skiing at Saskadena Six, swimming at the Athletic Center, sports at the Rec Center. You could easily end up being one of those parents constantly dragging your kids everywhere, but we try to balance it so they can enjoy being kids around the house as well.”

    Kortekamp also emphasized that Woodstock is a great place to teach children about the importance of giving back. “​​They are involved in Change the World Kids Rising, and have served at dinners and worked in the Artistree garden to grow food for the food shelf,” said Kortekamp. “[And] kids learn from example. [They] see me supporting Rotary and Sustainable Woodstock.”

    Finally, Kortekamp noted that his neighbors, in addition to buying eggs, have turned out to be great companions to his kids. “Another great thing that happened to us, which was totally unexpected, was ending up in a neighborhood where our closest neighbors have six kids among them that our kids are hanging out with,” said Kortekamp. “They all hang out with each other. It’s just been wonderful.”

    Sports

    Wasps defeated in Girls Lacrosse state championship

    By Max Huibregtse, Standard Correspondent

    A remarkable run by the No. 4 seeded Woodstock Union High School Wasps ended in defeat Saturday night, after a strong lead crumbled and led to their second defeat to the U-32 Raiders in as many years in the Girls Lacrosse state championship. 

    Following an 11-7 season, the Wasps secured their place in the final, after scoring an upset 12-5 victory over the undefeated, No. 1 seeded Hartford Hurricanes.  

    They were hoping their underdog pluck would carry them to a similar victory over No. 2 seeded U-32 in the final.

    The Wasps celebrate after a goal. David Gershman Photo

    If anyone could upset the Raiders, though, it would be the Wasps, who had beaten them 8-6 in the regular season, and were putting their loss to the Raiders in last year’s championship firmly to the back of their minds.  

    Despite the long drive to Norwich University for the game, Woodstock fans put on a good showing, holding a parking lot tailgate before the game, with truck windows painted with messages of encouragement and cars draped in green streamers and pom-poms. 

    The first quarter belonged to the Wasps. The Raiders scored early, but the Woodstock girls held them to one goal, while they racked up five points, two scored by Claudia Shoemaker, two by Hannah Gubbins, and one by Lila Beckwith. A late-period goal by Lydia Trombley of the Raiders was called back by a referee, much to the consternation of Raiders fans in the stands. 

    The second quarter, though, was hotly contested and evenly matched. Each team upped the aggression. In the end, both sides scored three goals, with No. 8 Shoemaker leading the way for the Wasps, adding two points to their total, with the third provided by No. 9, Maeve Roylance. Anika Turcotte, Lydia Trombley, and Isabel Parish scored for the Raiders, although Turcotte was at one point sent off with a yellow card. At halftime, the score stood at 8-4 in Woodstock’s favor, in what must have been a satisfying mirror of their 8-4 loss to the Raiders in last year’s championship game. 

    After halftime, the Raiders came back with a vengeance, letting loose with an offensive aggression that had been lacking in the first part of the game. Although the Wasps usually gained first possession, the Raiders held them to one goal, scored by No. 3 Skye Cully, with an assist from Shoemaker. Meanwhile, Natalie Beauregard and Ella Neff scored for the Raiders on penalties, and Hannah Drury scored two goals in rapid succession before a timeout was called.

    Maeve Roylance and Skye Cully put pressure on a U-32 opponent. David Gershman Photo

    After the timeout, the Raiders scored twice more, despite fierce defensive play by the Wasps and a number of near-misses and close saves by goalie Jessica Baumann. After her third goal of the quarter, Raiders No. 16 Hannah Drury came down with a mild injury, likely a cramp, after which she jogged off the field unassisted. The quarter came to an end with a score of 10-9, with the Raiders in the lead and in possession, with goalie Linnea Darrow holding the ball after saving a near-score by the Wasps. 

    Quarter four was tense and intense, with Woodstock’s Gubbins yellow carded in the first play, only to return later to score the Wasps’ tenth and final goal. The Raiders played with the confidence of a team that knew the momentum of the game was theirs, in most instances gaining first possession and not giving it up. Drury returned to the field to score another goal for U-32, and two more goals brought the score to 13-10 with three minutes left in the game. 

    Woodstock fought hard in those last minutes, gaining possession and almost scoring more than once, but in the final two minutes, the Raiders got the ball down to the end of the field and did the only thing they needed to, keeping the ball out of the Wasps’ hands with a long series of rapid-fire passes. 

    The final score was 13-10 for U-32, with the Woodstock Wasps declared the Vermont Division II high school girls lacrosse runner-ups for the second year in a row. 

    Andrea Journet, center, cradles the lacrosse ball against U32 at last Saturday night’s championship. David Gershman Photo

    Shoemaker led the Wasps with four goals and one assist, while Gubbins scored three times with one assist, and Beckwith, Cully, and Roylance each scored one goal, plus an assist for Cully.

    The game was followed by a trophy presentation, where Woodstock coach Amanda Hull and team captains Maggie Mello, Mikayla Myers, and Gracie Laperle, accepted their runner-up award, while U-32 coach Emilie Connor accepted the championship trophy for the Raiders. 

    U-32 fans swarmed onto the field to celebrate their second state championship in as many years, while Woodstock fans formed a more solemn, sometimes teary-eyed group off to the side. Proud parents hugged exhausted players, and disappointed students talked of “a curse” after a “brutal” hockey loss earlier in the year.

    “Of course we wanted to win the title,” Wasps coach Amanda Hull told the Standard in an email. “But I’m so proud of all these girls and the work they put into getting us this far.”  

    Mostly, though, despite the loss, the overall feeling was one of pride and determination — pride in a remarkable season and a well-played game, and the determination that next season offers another shot at that title.

    For further details, please see our June 20 edition of the Vermont Standard.

    Video features

    Legislative wrap-up with State Representative Tesha Buss (Video Interview)

    Obituaries

    John "Woody" Russell Woods

    John “Woody” Russell Woods age 80, passed away peacefully at home in St. Peter, MN on 6/15/2024. Memorial Mass 11:00 a.m. Thursday 6/27/2024 Church of St. Peter. Visitation 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesday 6/26/2024 Church St. Peter.  Full obituary at www.saintpeterfuneralhome.com.

    Timothy Arden Maxham III

    Timothy Arden Maxham III, died on June 8, 2024.

    Timothy was born on the morning of April 15, 1988 at Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital in Lebanon, NH during a spring snowstorm. He was the second of three children who were raised in the farming hills of Hartland, VT. Timothy was a proud 8th-generation Vermonter. He went by nicknames such as TT, Triple T, Uncle Timmy, Mini-Max, T Bud, and Tammy Jo.

    Growing up, he was always with family (a slew of cousins), farm animals, tools, and machinery.

    He was a tinkerer from the beginning and would take apart anything to examine the inside. He was eternally curious and so smart. During his high school years, this curiosity led to his interest in The Hartford Vocational School, specializing in auto body. He was a member of the Hartford High School class of 2006.

    He worked in landscape and lawn care for most of his career with a brief stint working construction with his dad. Most recently, he made a career change from owning his own business to being a machine operator for a local landscape company.

    Timmy was a fun uncle; always playing ball or sledding with his nieces and nephews. He would drop anything at a moment’s notice to help those he loved.  He has many aunts, uncles, and cousins who formed his values and memories in his early years. He has such a loving family which spans our country and reaches as far as Sweden.

    He loved being in a sugarhouse, hiking, and being in the woods. He was a gardener who had a knack for canning dilly beans and pickled beets. He spent many long days at the Shute Farm in Hartland, VT, which proved to be a through-line in his life. There he met his spouse, Ashley, milking cows in the barn. Later, they married in the clean stalls of a milking barn.

    His three boys were the light of his life. Turner (7), Mason (4), and Spencer born sleeping in 2023. He spent a good deal of time outside with Turner and Mason. They loved being in the garden together, sledding, fishing, biking, flying kites, or watching Dad being Dad, passing on the tinkering gene.

    He had a playful heart, a great sense of humor and always seemed to be the last to leave a party, mostly because his goodbyes took hours.

    Timothy is survived by his family, Ashley, Turner & Mason; mother Sandra Maxham (Craig), father Timothy Maxham II (Brianna), siblings Hannah & Matthew (Vanessa), niece & nephews, Kelton, Mari, and Jackson, and grandparents Timothy “Bunk” Maxham, and Margaret “Nin” Maxham, as well as many extended family members.

    He is predeceased by his son, Spencer, grandmother, Priscilla Lozo Spencer, and grandfather David Spencer.

    In lieu of flowers, please mail contributions made out to Maxham Children’s Fund to: Cabot Funeral Home, 32 Rose Hill Woodstock VT 05091, or online at https://gofund.me/c811b53b. 

    A Celebration of Life was held at the Hartland Recreation Center in Hartland, VT on Saturday, June 22nd.

    An online guestbook can be found at cabotfh.com

    Frank Gordon Tuthill

    It is with great sorrow that our family announces the passing of Frank Gordon Tuthill, known as Gordon, very peacefully in his sleep while on hospice care on Nov. 13, 2023.

    The eldest of nine children, Gordon was born in Randolph, Vt. to Mae Flint and Glendon Tuthill.

    Gordon spent his childhood years moving frequently, most often living in the Woodstock area where he graduated in 1946. Gordon very proudly co-captained the first-ever Woodstock football squad in 1944 under the coaching of Wendell Cameron. The team went undefeated.

    The USDA’s soil conservation team, who he worked with as a junior in high school, paid off as well. One of his first jobs was to define the boundaries between two lease parcels of land in Pomfret, at the request of Selectboard Chair Hewitt Moore. Woodstock attorney, Betty Sherburne, asked Gordon to do a title search, and this led to multiple requests for title searches from Woodstock attorneys from 1945-1957.

    It was also a junior at Woodstock Union High School, while working for the soil conservation service of the U.S. Dept of Agriculture (USDA), that Gordon’s surveying career began. On one job while taking photos of a farm in Windsor County to identify the boundaries, he noticed a number of parallel lines north to south, and that is when he realized that there must be a plan.

    This fascination with property lines led to an amazing career in surveying, deed research, tax mapping, and more that spanned eight decades. In 2009, Gordon received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the League of Historical Societies annual meeting for his numerous contributions to the Woodstock area through his years of research and mapping.

    In 1957, Gordon resigned from the USDA, took a job with Gratiot Engineering (owned by Pomfret resident, Peter Gratiot) and began doing actual surveying work. Gordon helped Gratiot start a forest management service and in 1959 separated from the company and ran that service independently. In 1970, he received his surveyor’s license when the state began requiring licensure in that field. By 1972, he was running his own surveying company but also handed the company over to his employees this same year. Bruno Associates was a result of this. Gordon continued to take on small jobs and title research for Bruno Associates and John, Jerry and Gordon remained lifelong friends.

    In 1965, Gordon became a licensed real estate broker and credits his successes to longtime friends, Polly Hamilton and Marilyn Spaulding, whom he thought the world of. In 2000, Gordon started working with the Graphic Indexing System and began parcel mapping for towns throughout Vermont, beginning with the full parcel mapping of six towns, including Underhill and Alburg, Vt.

    Gordon went on to research over eighty different towns working with Town Clerks across the State of Vermont. In the early days, the clerk’s offices were often in their homes where he was offered coffee, a meal, and extended conversation and often lifelong friendships. Gordon has amassed a vast collection of maps, deeds and documents dating back to the 1700s and has arranged a database that makes it easier for lay people to research the history of a property, the ownership and boundary changes. One of these databases can be located at the Woodstock Historical Society.

    Gordon states his two biggest accomplishments were through his extensive deed research that settled a large court case between the Butler family of Killington and the Killington Corporation, who claimed to own a portion of the Butler property. Gordon was able to settle another case in 1970 in West Woodstock where a lumber company claimed rights to fifty acres that they did not own. In both cases, Gordon was able to successfully help the landowner prove their titles. He always said, “There is an old saying that possession is nine-tenths of the law. The other tenth is title.” This same topic earned Gordon widespread notoriety in this area and was often called on to assist in many other court cases involving land and road issues.

    Gordon was a licensed civil engineer, without any formal college mind you. He held a private pilot’s license as well. With that, he took the doors off of a plane and flew over the forest fire in New Hampshire so he could get some good pictures. The folks at the White River airport were not too impressed.

    Gordon was a walking historian who traveled the state hiking property lines, helping folks find ancestral home sites, and researching town histories. Right up to his passing at 95 years old, you would find him at his computer analyzing the cursive writing of our ancestors of the 1700-1800s. Who will be able to do this when we no longer teach cursive writing? His knowledge of Vermont’s history, its highway history, as well as its railroads, was by far more accurate than any modern book you will read. He was a walking library, and now another important library has closed. At 92 years old, (with Robert Kirby), Gordon was able to publish his first book chronicling the early history of Bridgewater, Vt. 1741-1791.

    Gordon lived on his own terms and passed away on his own terms. Determined never to be disabled and determined to pass away alone, never wanting anyone to see him suffer as he had seen while caring for his longtime companion, Charlotte.

    Gordon leaves his ex-wife and most cherished mother to his eleven children, Ruth Frary Tuthill. His children, Bruce (Diana), Andy (Marcia), Jim (Margaret), Sue (Mike), Phil (Rhona), Greg (Shelly), Cynthia (Bob), Sandy (Carl), Doug (Tina), Sara (Jim), and Mary. Gordon was blessed as well with twenty-four grandchildren, thirty-three great-grandchildren, four great-great-grandchildren and eight stepgrand/great-grandchildren.

    The family wishes to thank his son, Gregory, and his daughter, Sandra, for their care and companionship over these last few years, the rides throughout the state, and his sharing the history of the many properties they passed by. That is where he was at peace, and we are all sure that helped extend his life.

    There will be a celebration of life for Gordon on June 30 from 1-4 p.m. at the Pomfret Town Hall in Pomfret.

    Ethan James Ciccotelli

    Ethan James Ciccotelli, age 36, passed away on Tuesday, December 19, 2023.

    A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 22, 2024,
    at Hillside Cemetery, Norwich, VT. Knight Funeral Home of White River
    Junction has been entrusted with arrangements.

    Joanne Marie Russell

    Joanne Marie Russell, 76, died at Willows of Windsor on Sunday morning, June 9, 2024. Joanne was born on July 29, 1947, to parents Arthur (Joe) and Barbara L. (Garten) Kenyon and spent most of her life as a resident of Windsor or nearby Cornish. As a high school student, she was senior class sweethearts with Steve Russell, and the two married a few months after their graduation on October 23, 1965. They lived a full life together, raising three children and embarking on many adventures before her health and memory deteriorated. They both looked forward to their week-long vacations exploring the American West and Nova Scotia, and Sunday day trips on Steve’s motorcycle. For many years, they also spent summers on the water aboard their boat and water skiing.

    Joanne loved words, language, and puzzles. She could often be found at home reading an intriguing novel or working on a word search, crossword, or jigsaw puzzle with one of her beloved Shih Tzus resting nearby.

    In retirement, she loved spending time with her grandchildren. There were ice cream trips, snacks at the diner after school, and Christmas gift shopping so they could help her pick out the perfect gifts to donate to Toys for Tots. They and her dogs often accompanied her on frequent walks.

    Joanne also gave back to her community. Her interest in volunteering began when she entered the Cornish Fair pageant in 1964 and was awarded the title of Cornish Fair Queen. As a produce manager she worked at several local grocery stores through the years, it was important to her that people had access to fresh foods. She volunteered for many years at St. Paul Episcopal Church for the Sunday breakfasts and rummage sales.

    Joanne is survived by her husband Steve of Windsor; three children Linda Russell of Wilmington, VT, Lisa Wright of Windsor, VT and John Russell and wife Kim of Pikeville, NC; one sister Carole Rich of Zephyrhills, FL.; seven grandchildren: Andrea, Leah, Tristan, Brianna, Ashley, Brandon, and Anna; and other relatives and friends.

    She was preceded in death by her parents Arthur Kenyon and Barbara Chaffee, and two siblings, Dale Kenyon and Sherry Kenyon.

    The family would like to thank both Willows of Windsor and Bayada for the wonderful care they provided Joanne these last two years. Their love and affection for Joanne was very much appreciated.

    A graveside service was held at 1 p.m. on Thursday, June 13, 2024, at Ascutney Cemetery in Windsor. Memorial donations can be sent to the Humane Society of the Upper Valley or the American Cancer Society. Online condolences are invited at www.knightfuneralhomes.com.

    Betty Jean Munro

    Betty Jean Munro, of Hudson, Ohio, and Barnard, born October 27, 1944, passed away on May 29, 2024. She was married to Donald MacVicar Munro for sixty years. She was the daughter of Jean Gertrude MacIntosh Hirschland (late) of Wilmington, Del. and Herbert Ernest Hirschland (late) of Wilton, Conn. and Barnard; and granddaughter of Gula Anderson Hirschland and Dr. Franz Herbert Hirschland (late) of Harrison, N.Y. and Barnard.

    She attended Wilmington Friends School of Wilmington, Del., graduating in the class of 1962, and the University of Delaware. She is survived by her daughters Ellen Malson (Rick) of Richfield, Ohio and Kate Hartland (Jay) of Aurora, Ohio, eight grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, several nieces and nephews, and her sister Marjorie Hirschland Robinson of Chadds Ford, Pa.

    A celebration of life service will be held 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 27 at The Barnard Church, 6211 VT Rte 12, Barnard, VT 05031.

    Donations in Betty’s memory can be made to the Unitarian/Universalist Church of Kent, 228 Gougler Ave., Kent, OH 44240.

    Arrangements By Johnson-Romito Funeral Home Hudson, Ohio, johnsonromito.com.

    Lynne VonEsch

    Lynne VonEsch passed away peacefully after a battle with Dementia with her family by her side.

    Lynne was born on March 11, 1941. Lynne is survived by her daughter Carole Horvath (VonEsch), Dillon, Colo.; granddaughter Stephanie Horvath; her son-in-law Tibor Horvath; and many relatives and close friends Sarah, Charlie, Katie, Gordan, Jeffery Van Auken of Gloucester, Mass.; Linda, Jim, and Sarah VonEsch, Ed, Pat, Emily, Jason Rantanen, John, Teri, Jay, Matt, Chris, and Missy VonEsch, Clara Galante and the Crazy Clan, the Richardsons, and the Bumps families. Lynne’s husband George and older daughter Robin passed prior to Lynne.

    Lynne met George while they were in college. They both got teaching jobs in Smithtown New York. Lynne taught second grade until she had her first daughter Robin, two years later she had her second daughter Carole. They all moved to Woodstock in 1972, then up to Hartland Hill. George began teaching at the Woodstock Union High School. Lynne taught preschool in Barnard. Lynne always had the 5-year plan and quickly began it, increasing her education to become The Special Education Coordinator for Windsor Southeast District in Windsor. Vt. It wasn’t long before she became Special Service Director for the District and filled in as superintendent a number of times.

    After George passed away, Lynne decided as hard as it was, she needed to continue on with life and live it to the fullest. Travel became one of them. Lynne took a year sabbatical to see how large corporations interrogated special needs people in their businesses and traveled in her little RV across the U.S. with her cat Lucy. Later, Lynne began to travel the world, heading to Russia, China, Israel, and Australia. After traveling for a while, she realized she needed a homebase, taking up her residency at the Saint Lawrence Seaway in Alexandria Bay playing Mahjong and golf weekly with her friends for the summers and then heading to Kissimmee, Fla. for the winters.

    Lynne still had the itch for doing something, and continued camping with various camping groups in her conversion van with her dog Marnie. She was always up for an adventure! It was never a dull moment with Lynne! She had a contagious smile that always welcomed others into her life. Lynne was full of life and an inspiration to others! She shared wonderful stories of her adventures and knowledge.

    A memorial service to celebrate the life of Lynne VonEsch was held on on Saturday, June 22 at the Riverside Cemetery to remember our wonderful mother/relative/friend who will be greatly missed.

    An online guestbook can be found at cabotfh.com.

    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.

     

    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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