Thursday, December 11, 2008

CANCELLED

CANCELLED Maiden Vermont Holiday Concert CANCELLED Maiden Vermont Holiday Concert CANCELLED

The concert that was supposed to be at Ripton Elementary 12/11/08 has been CANCELLED due to weather.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Maiden Vermont Holiday Concert at Ripton Elementary

Maiden Vermont

Holiday Concert
Free & open to the public


Thursday December 11th
6:30 pm
at Ripton Elementary School

Monday, November 17, 2008

Three Green Mountain trails to be closed to snowmobiles

Three Green Mountain trails will be closed to snowmobiles this winter, according to the Times Argus.
The Green Mountain National Forest recently announced three trails — Leicester Hollow, Texas Gap and Boyden Brook — will not open for snowmobile traffic this winter, cutting off trails utilized by the non-profit Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST).

"These are trails that were damaged during the Aug. 6 flood," said Rob Hoelscher, acting district ranger for the Rochester and Middlebury Ranger District. "This will impact VAST to a degree because none of the trails have alternative routes and there are no alternatives that can be made between now and snowmobile season."

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ripton did its bit for the presidential election

We turned out to vote in good numbers. Results from last week's election, based on public information:
Candidates for US PRESIDENT
SUMMARY SHEET OF VOTES CAST
2008 GENERAL ELECTION - NOVEMBER 4, 2008
Tally sheet numbers
Bob Barr 1
John McCain 60
Ralph Nader 5
Barack Obama 288
TOTAL VOTES 355


(thanks to Alison Dickinson; photo from Bryan Alexander)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Community event this Saturday

Coming up this weekend:
This Saturday November 8th

Dinner and Contra Dance

With Atlantic Crossing and caller Doug Bergstein

Dancing following meal. Silent auction through the evening.

Ripton Community House

6- 10 pm

$15 per person includes full dinner and dance.

$30 per family

$7 dance only- starts after meal.

To benefit the Student Aid Fund

Good fun for the entire family.

North Branch School Fundraiser Saturday!

Dinner and Contra Dance
with Atlantic Crossing and caller Doug Bergstein

Saturday November 8th
6-10 pm

Ripton Community House

Dancing following meal. Silent auction through the evening.

$15 per person includes full dinner and dance.
$30 per family
$7 dance only- starts after meal.
To benefit the Student Aid Fund

Good fun for the entire family!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ripton in a Halloween Song: "The Ghost of Goshen"

Our town appears in the lyrics of this fun spooky song, "The Ghost of Goshen":
...One night he saddled his sorrel mare,
And started over to Ripton, where
He had promised to do some preaching.
Away he cantered over the hill,
Past the schoolhouse at Capen's mill;
The moon was down and the place was still,
Save the sound of a night-hawk screeching.

At last he came to a deep ravine,
He felt a kind of queer, and mean
Sensation stealing o'er him.
Old Sorrel began to travel slow,
Then gave a snort and refused to go;
The parson chucked, and he holloa'd "whoa,"
And wondered what was before him.
...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Garlic Planting Today!

Please join us at the Community Garden (at Ripton Elementary School) at noon today, Saturday, November 1. We'll be planting garlic, and all are welcome! The garlic will sit in the ground all winter, and next spring it will be the first green to welcome us in the beds...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Commuter Bus Service Begins


Commuter bus service between Ripton and Middlebury began today, October 30. Addison County Transit Resources will be providing service to Middlebury at 7:30 and 8:30 am on Thursdays and Fridays. This bus stops at the Ripton Town Office, the Ripton Store, and will pick up passengers on Maiden Lane and lower Peddlers Bridge Road. Return trips leave Middlebury at 4:45 and 5:45 pm. Some midday runs are also scheduled.

Schedules and tickets are available at the Ripton Store and the Ripton Town Office. A ten trip ticket costs $9. Exact change is accepted on board, as well.

This service provides an inexpensive and relaxing way to get to work, and also makes a significant cut in greenhouse gas emissions.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ripton trails still hurting from rains

Some Ripton trails might be in bad shape as we head into winter, according to the Rutland Herald. The summer rains' effects are still being felt:

A bridge on the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail in Middlebury was also damaged,
but it is eligible for ERFO [Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads] money
because it is designated as a National Scenic Trail, Hoelscher said.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Kids Can Really Run!



The Kid's Run is always a fun part of Ridge Run Day, and last Sunday was no exception. There were a lot of participants and everyone had a good time, proudly wearing their purple TShirts and green ribbons.

A special thanks to the Ripton teens who helped in all sorts of ways — fun warm-up exercises before the race and encouragement/direction during the excitement especially.

The kids helped to raise money for FORS, and had a great time too!

Ridge Run Results

You asked for it, you got it. This link will take you to a page with all the results for last weekends Ridge Run!

Congratulations to everyone, runners, walkers, and volunteers....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ripton Ridge Run!

What a great day for a race! And what a great event it was, thanks to dozens of local volunteers, including the fire department and rescue squad, and the sponsorship of dozens of local businesses. And of course, there wouldn’t be a race without racers – and Ripton’s runners and walkers turned out in full force.

Over 180 runners and walkers from around the country participated in the 21st annual Ripton Ridge Run. The event featured a 10.4 K run, a 5K run and a 5K fun walk on Ripton’s scenic roads and raised money for the Ripton School. The top finisher in the 10.4 K race was Nick Balfour of Shoreham with a time of 43:39.8, nearly two minutes ahead of second place Steve Kayhart of Vergennes with 45:33.0. Georgina Milligan of Middlebury was 5th overall and led the women with a time of 47:12.6, followed by Lisa Grzyb from Ripton at 48:12.0. Other Ripton finishers were Sean Gryzb, Susan Ogilvie and Peter Cummings. In the 5K run, 16 year-old Schuyler Klein of Ripton won the men’s race in 20:03.6; Mike Bessette of St. Albans was second with a time of 20:49.2. Ripton’s Yared Lacey, age 12, came in 4th overall with a time of 21:52.3; 11 year-old Calder Birdsey finished a minute behind him in 8th place, beating out former Ripton Elementary students Levi Doria and Brian Phinney who finished 9th and 10th. Current Ripton school kids, Rowan Warren, Sebastian Durante and Alec Jones finished in 14th, 15th and 17th place respectively. Jay Harrington ran the 5K with son Baxter in a baby jogger and managed to finish in 19th place with a time of 25:19.8. Taryn Petrelli of Harrison NY set the pace for the women with a 23:18.5 finish time with Ripton’s Carlisle Doria only 0.4 seconds behind her. 14 year-old Britta Clark came in 20th, followed closely by Emily Mathews. Other Ripton finishers in the 5K race included Najat Croll, Mitchell Wulfman, Carrie Wulfman, Jeff Wulfman, Joe Durante, Roland McGlashon, Sarah Wesson, Burke Doria, Michele Fay, 7 year-old Tristan Durante, 11-year olds Oliver Clark and Jessica Cyr, 12-year old Anneke Jewett, Dina Wolkoff, Tal Birdsey, 8 year-old Abigail Jewett. 7 year-old Aiden Warren, Eric Warren, 8 year-old Andre Trudeau, 6 year-old Tim Goettlemann, 11-year olds Meghan Mulholland and Jesse Wulfman,10 year-old Jesse Trudeau and 12-year old Peter Manning.

There were many, many Ripton residents who participated in the 5K Fun Walk, including Kit Wilson, his son Ben, daughter-in-law Trina and grandson Nolan, at age 1, the youngest person registered in the race. Other Ripton walkers included Jennifer Cyr, Carol Kulczyk, Claire Groleau, and Nathan Wulfman.

In addition to these races, there was also a Kids’ Race at the school. Ripton students got pledges from sponsors so they could run in this event. The students raised over $400 and received t-shirts and a ribbon for participating.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Ripton Save Our Church meeting, next Saturday

Charles Billings sends on this invitation:
Friends of Ripton UM Church invite you to attend a nonsectarian,
SAVE OUR CHURCH, community meeting.

Where: Ripton UM Church
When: Saturday, October 11, 2008
Time: 10:00 am

Purpose: To discuss, and help shape, the use and preservation of the 1864 M.E. Church
.
Vision: Without the community’s participation the symbol of hope that was erected amid the anguish of the Civil War may not endure. With your help this historic Ripton Village landmark will have a future, and will continue to be an idyllic visual anchor at the center of our town.

Agenda: 1. Introduction by Rev. Jill Robinson
2. Share the Results of the Questionnaire
3. Explanation of Renovation Plans
4. Description of Renovation Expenses
5. Discussion of Funding
6. Other uses of the Building
7. Open Floor Discussion

Questions? Call 388-1634

Coming up soon: the 2008 Addison County Conservation Congress

A county-wide meeting on financial, climate, and energy changes is scheduled for October 25th. The 2008 Addison County Conservation Congress is an all-day event. Some details of the event, subtitled "Visioning Our Community in 2020 and Mapping the Next Steps to Get There":
John Elder will then lead the community in a visualization of the year 2020. Next, we will join one of the 12 rooms of our community: Food and Farming, Health and Wellness, Business and Enterprise, Community Arts and Culture, Governance and Public Safety, etc. [more information here] There, we will brainstorm our vision for the room in 2020.

What will emerge at the end of the day is a vision statement for each room and three specific actions to be taken in the next year to help manifest that vision: one personal, one for our neighborhood or town, and one for Addison County.


Logistics:
The Congress will be held at Mt. Abraham Union High School on October 25 from 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM. The suggested donation is $10.00 for adults and $5.00 for students. A localvore lunch will be available for $8.00.
A registration form is downloadable here.

The day is sponsored by Addison County Relocalization Network (ACoRN) and Vermont Family Forests (VFF). The VFF site should have more information as we draw closer to the 25th.

(thanks to Warren King)

Try the "Low Carbon Diet"!

Information on a useful, upcoming program:
Try the "Low Carbon Diet" 30-Day Program to reduce your household's carbon
footprint while gaining energy savings rapidly. This easy-to-follow series
meets for four Mondays beginning October 6, from 7-8 pm at the Addison
County Regional Planning Commission (ACRPC) office on 14 Seminary Street
in Middlebury. Learn how to measure your household's carbon footprint in
the first session on October 6 and about the biggest sources of energy use
and carbon emmissions for your household. Next, make an Action Plan from
choices in the Low Carbon Diet Workbook working toward a goal of reducing
your household's carbon footprint by 5,000 pounds in 30 days. The cost is
$12 for the workbook. Report on your results and learn more about energy
savings and options in subsequent sessions. Sessions facilitated by Laura
Asermily, Middlebury Energy Coordinator. For more info or to register for
the program, call 388-9478 or email lasermily@yahoo.com.


(thanks to Warren King)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Winter approaches, as do fuel concerns

It's October, and Riptonites are thinking of winter fuel (among other things). The Addison Independent reports on Vermonters' concerns about home heating costs, and notes that Ripton is one of several towns conducting grass-roots neighbor support.




Monday, September 29, 2008

October 9 Discussion on Robert Frost

You are invited to a community book discussion of A Restless Spirit: The Story of Robert Frost by Natalie Bober at the Ripton Methodist Church on Thursday, October 9 at 7 pm. Participants are encouraged to bring a favorite Robert Frost poem or story to share. Free copies of the book to be discussed are available at the school or Town Office.

The Ripton School and the Ripton Methodist Church is hosting this discussion as a part of the Vermont Humanities Council’s Vermont READS program. Vermont READS brings communities and people of all ages together to read a book and do activities centered on it. In 2007, sixty-six communities took part in Vermont READS Counting on Grace.

Free copies of the book may be picked up at the School and Town Office.
For further information contact: Linda Kautzman 247-8443

About the book
Middlebury events

Friday, September 26, 2008

Getting ready for winter: the fuel problem

Riptonites are among the Vermonters preparing for a hard winter, according to the Addison Independent. A major problem is that fuel is both more expensive and less available. The economic crisis makes this even worse.

The article mentions aid from the Addison Community Action/Central Vermont Office of Economic Opportunity (ACA/CVOEO), as well as the Vermont Fuel and Food Partnership.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Commuter bus service for Ripton

Addison County Transit Resources has a plan to institute commuter bus service for Ripton for Thursdays and Fridays.

It will involve ending Sunday service.

There will be a hearing on Tuesday, September 30, 2008, from 5:30 to 6:30 pm at Middlebury Congregational Church’s meeting room. Entrance on Seymour Street. It will be important to get as many Riptonites as possible to attend.

Then the schedule could change as early as November 1.

Tentatively, buses would arrive in Middlebury at 8 am and 9 am, and leave Middlebury at 4:45, and 5:45. These times can be discussed at the hearing. There will also be midday runs.

Fares of $1 would probably be charged.

If you can't make the meeting, you may also submit comments in writing to ACTR, 282 Boardman Street, P.O. Box 532, Middlebury, VT 05753 or via email: info@actr-vt.org.

For more information or specific transportation needs for the hearing, call 388-1946 or visit www.actr-vt.org.

Please spread the word! I'll see you on the 30th.

Jerry Shedd

Ripton Community Coffee House Presents Charlie Sohmer and the Jazzed Up Hoodlums

The Ripton Community Coffee House, a nonprofit community concert series, welcomes Charlie Sohmer and the Jazzed Up Hoodlums for a concert on Saturday, October 4, at the Ripton Community House. Refreshment sales will benefit a fund to help repair the Billings Farm Road, which is damaged by floods this past summer.

Ontario-based Charlie Sohmer's style sounds like folk roots with a country twang and a bluegrass flair. The songs tell stories about heartbreak and love lost but there is a cool element in the arrangements, something that brings other musical influences to bear. Sohmer's voice is warm and versatile, with a range capable of matching the style the song. His songwriting talent is in synch with his musical talent. Is it folk? Is it country? Whatever it is, it's well worth listening to decide for yourself.

Sohmer has recorded five albums and has written more than 300 songs. He was was awarded a grand prize in the 2007 OCFF Songs From the Heart Awards. His work, Marie Anne Lagimodiere, was chosen as the best French song in the competition, which is open to all Ontario songwriters. His newest CD is called “Dying to Have a Good Time.”
The band consists of Sohmer on banjo and guitar and vocals; John Switzer on bass and vocals; Steve Briggs on guitar and mandolin; and Burke Carroll on dobro and lap steel.

Admission to the coffeehouse is $8.00 for adults, $5.00 for seniors, and $3.00 for children. Anyone who bakes gets in free. Andrea Chesman would appreciate hearing from you if you plan to bake. Call her about baking or for more information at 388-9782.

A Call for Ridge Run Volunteers

Allison Biederman is running the Kids Race for the Ridge Run again this year (thank you, Allison!). She is looking for a parent volunteer or two to help her set up, sign kids in, collect sponsor $, hand out t-shirts, cheer on the kids, and then clean up. It would be from about 10:30 until about 2:00 on Sunday October 12.

If you can help, contact Allison directly at 388-0754 or allisonbiederman@yahoo.com.

This Saturday - Button Up Ripton!

Button Up Ripton
Home Energy Savings Workshop

Saturday, September 27
9 am - 11:30 am
Ripton Community House
(coffee and refreshments served)

  • no-cost measures for reducing energy use
  • do-it-yourself opportunities for saving energy
  • how buildings lose energy
  • health and safety concerns
  • contact information for energy audit services
  • lending institutions that offer low-interest loans for energy retrofits
  • how to get energy assistance from Addison County programs


If your neighbors might benefit, please encourage them to attend, also.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ripton post office gets new staff

The 2008 Ripton post office saga came to a successful close this week, with the hiring of a new full-time person. Read on, and congratulations:


Ripton Hours are Full Time Again!

Saturday, September 13th

Hi All,

My name is Lisa Whitman, and I have been appointed the postal position for our Ripton Community Post Office. I want to thank you all for your patience during the temporary hours of mail service. I have enjoyed getting to know a lot of you, and look forward to getting to know you all. The hours are back to full time, and Ripton box holders may pick up mail and send letters from the Ripton post office; all other services (stamp purchases, mailing of packages, certified and express mail, etc) will be available REALLY, REALLY soon!

Ripton Post Office window hours:

Monday through Friday 8:00-11:00 a.m.

Monday through Friday 4:00-6:00 p.m.

Saturday 8:00-11:00 a.m.



*Of course, you may access your mail box anytime the store is open, which is one reason we love our post office!

Friday, September 12, 2008

East Middlebury bridge out until May?

The Lower Plains Road bridge in East Middlebury won't be repaired until May, according to the Addison Independent.
Middlebury officials are proceeding with planning on a replacement bridge at Lower Plains Road, but they currently don’t foresee the new span being in place until next May. Middlebury, Ripton and Salisbury are among several communities still awaiting a disaster declaration through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which would pave the way for up to 75-percent aid for damage to public property associated with the Aug. 6 flood.

“Our goal is to be ready to put the project out for bid as soon as the official declaration is made,” Middlebury Town Manager Bill Finger wrote in a Sept. 8 e-mail to neighbors updating the status of the Lower Plains Road Bridge.

Affected families said they are pleased the town is working to replace the bridge, but they aren’t keen on waiting until May.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

2008 Ripton Ridge Run coming up!

The 2008 Ripton Ridge Run will happen next month. Here's the information and registration page:

21st ANNUAL
RIPTON RIDGE RUN
2008
The Friends of the Ripton School invites runners and walkers of all levels to participate in a 10.4K loop run, a 5K run or a 5K Fun Walk through Ripton, VT, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 12 during peak foliage season. Lunch will be available during and following the race. An awards ceremony will follow. All proceeds benefit the Ripton Elementary School.

COURSE: Courses start and finish at the Ripton Elementary School on the Ripton-Lincoln Road. They traverse roads in Ripton and the Green Mt. National Forest and include water stops. If possible, the 10.4K course will be run counterclockwise this year but due to summer flooding, the course may have to be changed.

LOCATION/TIME: Check in is at the Ripton Elementary School between 11:15-12:15. The races begin at 12:30.

REGISTRATION FEES: Fee includes a great lunch and, for the first 175 paid entrants, a long-sleeved, 100% cotton t-shirt. Racers may opt not to get a t-shirt -- subtract $5.00 from appropriate fee. Adults - postmarked by Oct. 7: $20; postmarked after Oct. 7: $30. Children (15 and under), seniors (65 plus) - postmarked by 10/7: $13; postmarked after 10/7: $20. Lunch may be limited to the first 200 registrants.

QUESTIONS? Call the Ripton School (802/388-2208) during school hours or leave a message. Sorry, we cannot register you over the phone.
*****************************************************************************

Entry Form

For good and valuable consideration, I hereby release from liability the organizers and officials of the Ripton Ridge Run and the Town of Ripton, and I waive all rights and claims for damages I may have against the aforementioned as a result of injuries and damages suffered by me in connection with the running of the race. I attest that I am physically fit and in sufficiently good
health and condition to finish the race without incurring injury or other damage.

Name________________________________

Signature__________________________________________
(please print legibly) (Must be signed by all participants or, if under 18, by parent/guardian)

Mailing Address
_______________________________________________________________________________
(please print legibly) (Town, State) (Zip)

Age on race date _____ Sex____

Event (check one): 5K Run _____ 10.4K Run ______ 5K Fun Walk _____

T-shirt size S___ M___ L___ XL___ No t-shirt____ Amt. Enclosed $________

(We will do our best to accommodate your choice of t-shirt size.)

MAIL ENTRY AND CHECK TO: RIPTON RIDGE RUN, RIPTON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, RIPTON, VT 05766.

To receive race results, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Ripton Broadband Coop update

An update on the Ripton Broadband Coop:

Hello RBC Members,

Those with automatic billing have been charged for August service.

Our annual meeting is Monday, September 29, 7:00 pm, at the Ripton Fire Station. A treasurer's report, update from NBN, questions/comments from members, and new board members are agenda items.

Important progress of the 2007-2008 year is that our financial picture improved greatly. We are still paying two loans, but our monthly income now exceeds our monthly expenses by a comfortable margin. The grant we received from the Vermont Telecommunications Authority enables us to make a substantial improvement to our network without borrowing. RBC has 66 members with 68 active radios installed in the community. Seven members "host" radio equipment by providing a location and power for transmitting equipment, and allowing access by NBN.

A new email address, rbc.billing at gmail.com, is being used for billing and notices. A few of you should have received an email invoice for renewal of an annual payment from that address. The gmail account was chosen because it is free; RBC pays $1 per month to Green Mountain Access for each ripton.coop-net email account. If you opened a ripton-coop.net account, but do not intend to use it, please let us know so that it may be closed.

thank you,
Alison Joseph Dickinson

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Home weatherization how-to meeting tonight

A Middlebury meeting tonight could be useful for all of us, as we prepare for winter:
ACRPC ENERGY COMMITTEE OFFERS FREE PROGRAM ON WEATHERIZATION FOR RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS ON AUGUST 28

The Addison County Regional Planning Commission Energy Committee will present a program on Weatherization for Residential Buildings on Thursday, August 28 from 7:00-9:00 pm at their offices at 14 Seminary Street in Middlebury. The program will be presented by Mr. Fred Lugano, a retired expert on indoor air quality, energy conservation, and building durability. Fred has many years of experience in building renovations, as Owner of Lake Construction in Charlotte. He has written several key articles on fixing damp, moldy houses and cold, drafty houses, cellulose sealing, and practical climate control. He is particularly skilled at solving difficult building problems that involve preservation of the structure, providing comfort, and assuring indoor environmental health.

Mr. Lugano’s presentation will include an overview of the principles of thermal and moisture protection, passive weatherization methods applicable to old buildings, and special considerations for mobile homes. He will show you how to detect problems yourself and the most cost-effective ways to solve them. You will gain valuable insight from this industry expert. The Committee will also provide information on financing weatherization modifications and local weatherization funds available to low-income households.

This free public program is one in a series of monthly programs on energy conservation and sustainable energy options offered by the ACRPC Energy Committee. For more information on the Committee’s activities and future programs, contact Elizabeth Golden at 388-3141 or egolden@sover.net.


(thanks to Warren King)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Progress on 125

Route 125 is now open for two-way traffic, according to the Rutland Herald. But East Middlebury's Lower Plains Road Bridge will take longer to repair.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

State makes some water testing kits available for free

If you're concerned about water quality after the floods, some free water testing kits are available from the state health department. According to the Rutland Herald,
Residents should contact their local office of the Vermont Department of Health <http://healthvermont.gov/local/district/district_office.aspx> for test kits and disinfection instructions. Water samples must be submitted to the Health Department laboratory according to instructions in the kit, and must be clearly marked “contaminated by flooding.”
...
Order a test kit for a fee by calling the Public Health Laboratory at 1-800-660-9997. A water test kit order form is also available on the Health Department website at: http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/ph_lab/water_test.aspx.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ripton Community Questionnaire on the Future of the Ripton UM Church

Here's a survey about an important Ripton building. Please, members of the community, fill it out and reply:

Ripton Community Questionnaire on the Future of the Ripton UM Church

Friends of Ripton United Methodist Church (FRUMC) have obtained an architectural analysis and reports from 7 contractors which describe the structural problems of our 144-year-old village church. The questionnaire below seeks to understand the community’s preferences for preserving the building, and how it sees the future of this institution for life events. The questionnaire contains 16 questions asking for a yes or no answer, and each asks you to rate how strongly you feel about it. Please take a few minutes to fill it out and return it to one of the following:
1. By mail to Church Questionnaire, P.O. Box 119, Ripton, VT 05766;
2. Drop off in the box in the entry of the Town Hall;
3. In person to Charles Billings, Kathy Sullivan, Bonnie DeGray, Bill McKibben, Carrie Wulfman, Roger Barkin or Jean Cherouny.


Questions
How Strongly Do You Support? 10 = most strongly

1. Would you like to see the Ripton United Methodist Church continue in its current role as a place where Ripton families celebrate life events? (Yes/No) (1 - 10)

2. Would you like to see the Ripton United Methodist Church continue, but do more to include the community and other faiths?(Yes/No) (1 - 10)

3. Would you like to see the Ripton United Methodist Church change its name to The Ripton Community Church?(Yes/No) (1 - 10)

4. Do you agree that the church is one of the defining historic buildings in Ripton village, and that it is important to preserve this landmark?(Yes/No) (1 - 10)

5. The church building was dedicated March 24, 1864. Should an application be submitted to be listed in the National Historic Register?(Yes/No) (1 - 10)

6. Do you agree that it is important for Ripton to have a spiritual center where all families can celebrate their life events?(Yes/No) (1 - 10)

7. The church has very good accoustics. Would you attend concerts at the church?(Yes/No) (1 - 10)

8. Would you attend lectures at the church by residents, Middlebury College faculty and other special guests?(Yes/No) (1 - 10)

9. Would you be more likely to support the church if it were a community organization, not affiliated with any one religious group?(Yes/No) (1 - 10)

10. Would you like the church to share space with the Historical Society to preserve & exhibit Ripton artifacts, pictures, histories & genealogies?(Yes/No) (1 - 10)

11. Would you like to see the church become a space that is also shared with a Ripton Library?(Yes/No) (1 - 10)

12. Would you support the sale of the church for use as a residence or business?(Yes/No) (1 - 10)

13. If the building remains a church would you be willing to make a donation for its restoration?(Yes/No) (1 - 10)

14. Would you be willing to make an additional donation to help accommodate the Ripton Historical Society and Library within the church?(Yes/No) (1 - 10)

15. Would you support the addition of a fire exit, handicap access and bathroom at the rear of the church?(Yes/No) (1 - 10)

16. Would you be willing to attend a meeting at the church to hear about plans for its restoration and the results of this survey? (Yes/No) (1 - 10)



Your Name:

Mailing Address:

Email:

Your Comments and Questions:

Feedback

What other religious traditions and/or community events would you like to see take place at the church?

Other:

Friday, August 15, 2008

More photos: Vermont Emergency Management

This set of photos of August water damage from Vermont's Emergency Management site is very powerful. Good shots of rain damage.


(thanks to Joanna Shipley!)

Looking back to early August

This WCAX article from August 6th offers a fine glimpse into that day's flooding.

(thanks to Caroline Damon!)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lindi Bortney's visual record of the rains

Fine photos of damage to 125 from Lindi Bortney.
First, from Ripton town:


Second, from 125, down the mountain a ways, the water versus the road:






The rains and the repairs

Another look at damages and repairs to 125, between Ripton and East Middlebury:

(photo by Tom Deppman)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Route 125 versus the river: video

Richard Ruane forwards this chilling video of Route 125 under surging water.

Riptonites in next week's opera

Several Riptonites will perform in an opera next week. Alex Carver, Lindi Bortney, and Jerry Shedd appear in La Boheme, on stage in Middlebury August 18-24.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ripton in the New York Times

The Ripton floods made the New York Times.

125 in rain and repairs

Repair work on route 125 continues.


Here's a snapshot from Friday night, driving up the road



(photo taken by Ceredwyn; paw in frame is Bryan's)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Rain last night

Rain kept pounding Ripton yesterday. Bridges were threatened, or overrun by water.

Looking down 125 from in front of the General Store:

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Jean Chourney profiled in Addison Indepedent

The Addison Independent has a nice article on Jean Cherouney's art.

Ripton hit hard by rain, again

Our town has been pounded by heavy rains, once again. Some roads are out, including parts of 127 and 7:
Hours after the flood waters receded, Route 125 east of Route 7 was still closed. The raging waters of the Middlebury River tore out major sections of roadway, sending guard rails tumbling into the water.
Parts of East Middlebury were evacuated. Silver Towers was evacuated. A shelter's been set up in Middlebury. The governor is visiting the county.

The Boston Globe has one article. Here's a map from VTrans:

(thanks to Ceredwyn for the URL)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Position Available - Caretaker of Buildings

Position Available

Caretaker for the Buildings
of the Town of Ripton

The Town has a part-time position for Caretaker to oversee the use and maintenance of the Community House and the condition of the Town Clerks Office.

This Person Would:

  • Inspect the Community House before and after an event
  • Confer with the Town Clerk on the condition of the Community House after a rental to recommend return of the deposit or, in the case of damage or insufficient clean up, assess the cost of repair or clean up
  • Work with the furnace maintenance company to winterize the Community House
  • Recommend necessary repairs to the Community House and the Town Clerks Office to the Selecboard
  • Create a budget for repairs based on soliciting cost estimates for the repairs
  • Coordinate the services of contractors to complete work and assure that it is achieved per time agreement and budget estimate
  • Coordinate contractors work to assure quality and completion in a timely manner and per budget estimate

The right candidate will be organized, responsible, detail oriented, and able to interact and communicate with a wide variety of people.

This is an hourly position.

Send letter of interest and resume to Deb Karpak, Clerk to the Selectboard, Town Clerks Office, P.O. Box 10, Ripton, VT 05766 or to karpak@sover.net

Questions may also be directed to 388-3465.

Ripton in Yesterday's Boston Globe

Breaking a town from the center


By Bill McKibben and Sue Halpern


July 30, 2008

RIPTON, Vt.

ROBERT FROST wrote once that "good fences make good neighbors." We love Frost - we live on land he once owned in this small Green Mountain town - but that's the poet being cynical. What really makes for good neighbors, as the 562 residents have learned over the years, is a post office like the one this town has enjoyed since the 1800s. Tucked into a tiny corner of the general store, the post office is our town commons, a place where neighbor has no choice but to rub shoulders with neighbor.

But suddenly, out of nowhere, a sign went up a few weeks ago saying that the US Postal Service was closing our post office. If we wanted our mail, the sign said, we'd have to drive to the next town, which is at the bottom of a winding gorge, on a road that is only marginally passable. It's a 10-mile round trip, for some, and 18 miles for others, which is not an inconsiderable distance in these days of $4 a gallon gas. And talk about carbon footprint. But these are merely the obvious, measurable costs.

As soon as the closure sign went up on the post office door, people began to mobilize. And they weren't just the usual suspects - the ones who serve on the town board or run the recycling program. They were fifth-generation Vermonters, they were carpenters, they were teachers, retirees, and gardeners - they were a representative sampling of us all. Some said they'd hang around the store in case the postal service made good on its threat to remove the bank of mail boxes, the old kind, with a glass window and a combination lock. (After two days, the Postal Service backed down.) Scores of calls were made - to the postmaster general, to various regional USPS offices, to customer service. (We would have sent letters, but there was no place to buy stamps in town.) Scores more calls were made to the Vermont congressional delegation. A meeting was called, and 124 residents crowded into town hall to voice their concern. The media came, drawn less by what was happening to our mail than what was happening in our town - our passion, commitment, and solidarity. How quaint!

These days, the average American has half as many close friends as his predecessor half a century ago, and shares meals with neighbors and family half as often. But in our little town, there are community suppers, a monthly coffee house, family soccer games, a farmers' market. As Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernard Sanders and Representative Peter Welch wrote to Postmaster General Jack Potter, "The town of Ripton is a small, close-knit community. The Ripton General Store and the post office are a center and a primary gathering place for residents."

The fact is, as almost everyone who packed town hall pointed out, the reason we're so close-knit is because of the post office - and because, especially, it's in the one retail business in town. This is how towns get broken, someone pointed out at the meeting: Send people away from the center and it cannot hold; make them drive to the bottom of the mountain to get their mail, and they'll shop there, too. Soon enough the ancient red building, which stocks the bread and milk and eggs that lets us stay close to home on a snowy day, will become history, too.

Not long after the congressional delegation wrote to Postmaster Potter, we all received letters of apology from the regional headquarters. Sorry, it said, for shutting down your post office without giving you proper notice. As to whether anyone was sorry for shutting to begin with, or what plans they had for the future, it didn't say.

So the people in town kept asking, kept sending e-mails, did more research. We learned, for instance, how the postal service strategic plan calls for more "streamlined" operations and how we weren't the only rural community fighting to hold on to this vital public service.

And then, suddenly, the mail came back to Ripton. Though it's too early to say it's for good - we still don't have a postmaster, and the window is open just a few hours a day, staffed by townspeople - it was a defining moment for our community: Getting our mail was sweet, but having our post office was even sweeter.

Sue Halpern and Bill McKibben are writers. Halpern's most recent book is "Can't Remember What I Forgot," and McKibben's is "The Bill McKibben Reader."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Aagenda for tonight's Billings Farm Road Meeting

Here's the agenda for tonight's meeting, the Billings Farm Road Meeting of July 23, 2008:

Willem Jewett Review
o Category B FEMA
o EWP (Emergency Watershed Protection Program)
o Addison County Housing Coalition
o United Way
o SBA and/or Other Loans/Funding
o Overview of Maintenance & Repair Formulas for Association Agreement
Chris Brunelle (ANR, Stream Alteration Engineer)
o Report and Review of Culvert/Bridge Options
Alison Joseph
o Approval of Alison’s Minutes for Meeting of July 9, 2008
o Comments
Residents’ Review
o Update of Any Road Work Completed Since Last Meeting
o SBA Feedback
o Feedback from Maintenance & Repair Formulas
o Revisions to Earlier Cost Estimates
o Drawing for Culvert & Stone Reinforcements—Piper Brook
o Other
Revise Methods & Cost Estimates for Repair Scenarios

Residents Action Items before next Meeting
o Publicity—E.g. Riptonite.com
o Fund Raising—Lisa Durante “Committee”
o Road Work—Todd & Melvin “Committee”
o Other
Next Meeting
o Time
o Place
(thanks to Charles Billings)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Disaster declared in Vermont from June flooding

Representative Willem Jewett sends this on by email:

Subject: Notification of a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of Vermont

Good Evening,

Today, July 15, 2008, President Bush declared a major disaster for the State of Vermont, triggering the release of Federal funds to help communities recover from the severe storms and flooding that occurred June 14-17, 2008. Details of the disaster declaration and assistance programs are listed below.

Public Assistance: (Assistance to State and local governments and certain private non-profit organizations for emergency work or the repair and replacement of disaster-damaged facilities):

Designated Counties: Addison and Franklin Counties.

Hazard Mitigation Grant Program: (Assistance to State and local governments and certain non-profit organizations to reduce and prevent the loss of life and property due to natural hazards):

Designated Counties: All counties in the State of Vermont are eligible
to apply for assistance under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.


OTHER: Additional designations may be made at a later date after further evaluation.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact FEMA's Office of Legislative Affairs at (202) 646-4500.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Reflecting on Ripton's community spirit from the other side of the world

From Bill McKibben, by email:
Hey neighbors--i'm writing this from the 21st floor of a hotel in Shanghai, where the view out the window contains approximately 10,000 times the ppulation of Ripton. I've been gone for weeks, in Trinidad and Sweden and Italy and Asia, organizing for 350.org, our global warming campaign. I missed the great rainstorm and the great post office battle. But I'd just like to say how nice it's been to watch from a distance as the community rallied to its defense. When I called friends in Bernie's office and Peter Welch's office to lobby about the P.O., they all said they could feel the strong community spirit in the communications that were pouring in from Ripton. And so many thanks too to the people who have kept Riptonite on top of the news. When we were planning it last winter, I didn't know it would be of such great personal use so soon!

Billings Farm Road: Riptonites' struggle continues

From Charles Billings, an urgent plea for some of our friends and neighbors:
Perhaps overlooked in all the other road problems Ripton has, and the Post Office closing, is the plight of the seven (7) homeowners on Billings Farm Road. These residents have lost 2 bridges and more than 50 truckloads (14 cu ft each) of fill. Only one of these homes can reach their property by car. Access for emergency and service vehicles is blocked. Too soon, winter will be making their lives even more difficult if they are unable to get deliveries of wood, gas or fuel oil.

These residents are trying to pull together, but are faced with a minimum of $25,000-50,000 of expenses to put their road back together. The age, health and wealth of this neighborhood makes it even more of a burden than it would be for most others in Ripton.

Important Addison County transportation meeting coming up

"All interested Riptonites are invited to this meeting. We want ACTR to provide commuter bus service to Ripton. We may need to start with Thursday and Friday only service.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), in conjunction with Addison County Transit Resources and consultation provided by Milligan & Company, LLC, will be holding a public meeting on the Vermont five-year Short-Range Public Transportation Plans (SRPTP). The SRPTP is a requirement of the Vermont Legislature in order for public transportation providers to access state and federal funding. The SRPTP include: transit service analysis; operations and capital budgeting; service coordination; strategic planning; and needs/issues important to the communities they serve.

The purpose of the meeting is to solicit comment on the Addison County Transit Resource's existing services, operations and planning. The meeting will be held on Monday, July 21, 2008, 5:15 pm at Ilsley Public Library, Public Meeting Room, 75 Main Street, Middlebury, VT.

For more information on the public meeting, as well as other information on the SRPTP, please visit http://www.aot.state.vt.us/publictrans/transit.htm. For questions, contact Krista Chadwick at (802) 828-5750 or Krista.Chadwick@state.vt.us, or Costa Pappis at (802) 828-5790 or Costa.Pappis@state.vt.us. If you are in need of transportation to and/or from the public meeting, please contact Addison County Transit Resources at (802) 388-1946 for assistance."

(thanks to Jerry Shedd!)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Mail Delivery Returns to Ripton!

Good news!
Mail Delivery Returns to Ripton!

Mail delivery and limited services will return to the Ripton Post Office until a new Ripton postmaster is in place. Ripton boxholders may pick up mail and send letters from the Ripton office; all other services (stamp purchases, mailing of packages, certified and express mail, etc) will be available only at the East Middlebury Post Office, or any other full-service post office.

Ripton Post Office window hours for package pickup*:

Monday through Saturday 8:00 -11:00 a.m.
Weekday afternoons: 4:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Letters with correct postage may be mailed from Ripton:

Monday through Friday: drop off by 4:00 p.m. in blue box outside or mail slot inside.
Saturdays: drop off inside to postal clerk during window hours, or in blue box by 2:00 p.m.
*Of course, you may access your mail box anytime the store is open, which is one reason we love our post office!

(thanks to Sally Hoyler)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Addison County Transit Resources Committee Meeting

An invitation to a local event for people interested in alternative energy and public transportation. It's coming up on July 21:
Welcome to the Short Range Public Transportation Plan Stakeholder Committee. We are delighted you have made this commitment to assist Milligan & Company LLC with the input and insight needed to prepare a successful Short Range Public Transportation Plan for Addison County
Transit Resources.

Your role in the study Milligan & Company will conduct over the next nine months is an essential component. The first of two stakeholder meetings is scheduled for July 21st, 2008. The purpose is to review data Milligan collected to prepare a profile of Vermont's public transit systems, and to assess unmet needs for transit service in the state. As a stakeholder, we will ask you to provide input on the
completeness and accuracy of the profile, and to share suggestions on services that should be added over the next five years. At the second meeting, planned for September 2008, the Milligan & Company team will present recommended service and/or organization alternatives that result from the data collection and public involvement processes.


As you can see, there is much to cover in our two stakeholder sessions. The result of this work will be to present the Vermont Agency of Transportation and its public transit providers with a five-year roadmap for enhancing and improving the state's public transportation network and services. For more information on the project, please visit the Vermont Agency of Transportation Transit website at http://www.aot.state.vt.us/PublicTransit.htm
and click on Short Range Public Transportation Plan.

On behalf of the Milligan & Company team, I look forward to meeting and working with you at the first Stakeholder Committee Meeting planned for 1 p.m. on Monday July 21st, 2008 in ACTR, First Floor Conference Room, 282 Boardman Street, Middlebury. For a complete list of stakeholder and public meetings, visit http://www.milligancpa.com/VT_Transportation_Plan.html.

Please let us know if you cannot attend by Friday, July 11th 2008.

(via Jerry Shedd)

Ripton Fire Department: event coming up

A note from the Ripton Fire Department:
The Ripton Fire Department is having a barbecue and dedication to our founder, Theodore Conklin, on Saturday, July 26th. Grills go on at 11 AM. Dedication at 1 PM. We’ll provide hotdogs and hamburgers. Bring other things to grill or a dish to share if you’d like.

(thanks to Eric Warren)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

In line at the East Middlebury Post Office

Two Riptonites waiting for mail in the sometimes quite crowded, quite slow East Middlebury Post Office.

That's Joyce of the Chipman Inn on the right.

(photography by Ceredwyn Alexander)

We also wait on FEMA

Ripton and the rest of Addison County are waiting on FEMA to process disaster monies, according to the Addison Independent. Nearly $1 million in damage has been assessed by local officials.
Of the $960,000 in total statewide storm damage, $269,244 is associated with Middlebury; $228,542 is related to Ripton; and $2,500 pertains to Lincoln, according to Peter Coffey, deputy director of operations and logistics with Vermont Emergency Management (VEM). The storm caused major damage to Route 125, the North Branch Road and many of its connectors. Some residents spent weeks unable to get to their homes by vehicle.

Tonight: flood damage help from the Small Business Admin

Tonight, an important meeting for any Riptonite damaged by last month's rain:
The Small Business Administration will be at the Ripton School tomorrow, July 9, from 4-8 pm to meet with property owners who need financial assistance for repairing flood damage. They are at the Middlebury town offices from 11-3. There is more information below, please share it with your neighbors who do not have email.
(thanks to Alison Dickinson, from whose email the above quotes)

Even more progress on the post office

More progress - an update from Sally Hoyler, via email:
Good news. Cindy Mason (manager of marketing with USPS) has contacted Bonnie DeGray (most previous postmaster) about working 30-60 days at the Ripton PO to continue incoming and outgoing mail service here through the bidding process for a new postmaster. Bonnie can't cover all the hours but we have come up with at least 3 people who can assist. It's quickest and best for USPS to pay Bonnie and then it's up to Bonnie to pay others - I've confirmed this with Cindy as well, and I will help Bonnie facilitate a schedule, etc. Bonnie will be getting back to Cindy later today with a dollar figure that she needs and coordinate getting the keys and scanner (scans packages) back from East Middlebury PO. Sounds like as soon as that's done, and as soon as we can schedule in a team, we can have our mail back home.

This means so much to us and we thank you for all you've done to make us heard. I will update you again when we are truly frequenting our local PO again. In the meantime, there are several fine folks planning to bid for the permanent position.

Post office progress

I just spoke with Kathi Roy, a New Hampshire-based USPS Manager of Consumer Affairs. She tells me that the bidding process is proceeding.

I asked about the phrase "alternative location", which suggests moving the office. Roy explained that this was automatic language, and did not require changing location. The phrase allows a bidder to propose another location, should they so desire.

For those concerned about language, Roy also described our town's post office as a CPO, not a CPU.

I'm still not sure why a temporary worker (or workers) could not be assigned to the Ripton boxes, either in our town or East Middlebury.

-Bryan Alexander

Monday, July 7, 2008

The road we now travel for mail

Here are some images of route 125, the main and best road Riptonites travel to get our mail:

Two crises coincide here, the post office closure and June's road-damaging torrents:


Google Maps show 125 from Ripton to East Middlebury thusly:


(photography by Joanna Shipley)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Action, Please!

Hi Everyone,

Below please find a letter I wrote (and had two talented editors in town help with the final draft!) which I intend to mail on Monday morning. Please consider sending it, too. All you have to do is read it and if you agree with the content, scroll to the bottom and delete "Signature and Name and Address", add yours, print it and mail it. The sooner the better. Follow it up with a phone call to her to request the meeting date. Also feel free to send a copy to Cynthia Thurston in Rutland (does anyone have her address?).

Can someone print off some copies and put them at the Store for folks who don't have access to e-mail, leaving a line at the bottom for their name and address? And can someone please post this on the Riptonite blog site?

I think we all need to keep sending letters, making calls, staying active and letting them know we are not going to go gently into that good night! Make some noise, folks. Let's be the squeaky wheel that gets the attention we deserve.

It would also be nice if someone who has experience with and is particularly good at project management to volunteer to Chair this movement. It would be nice to have someone who is keeping track of all activity and keeping everyone informed, as well as lobying for meetings, etc. If that person is you, please call Sally and let her know.

Keep speaking up, Riptonites!

Best regards,
Joyce

**********

July 3, 2008

Deborah C. Essler, District Manager
Customer Service and Sales for New Hampshire / Vermont
955 Goffs Falls Road
Manchester NH 03103-9990

Dear Deborah,

Due to the closing of the Ripton Post Office, it has been very difficult for citizens from our town to receive mail. Because we have to arrive at the Post Office in E. Middlebury during lobby hours, there may even be some folks who haven’t yet been able to get there, which is unfortunate.

I was shocked to discover that Sean Donohue, the Postmaster from East Middlebury declared an “Emergency Closing” of our Post Office, considering that our contractor reported that she informed him in April that she would not be able to renew her contract without an increase in her stipend. (The contractor said she would be happy to provide a copy of that letter.) As I understand it, Sean told her that an increase was out of the question and then consequently set her last day as June 27th . I am trying to understand why this constitutes an emergency and would appreciate your help in gaining that understanding. I believe that USPS policies and procedures have been breeched as a result and ask that the emergency status be cancelled and the 60 day comment period commence with service being restored immediately to our town.

I was also shocked when Sean announced that he was going to physically remove our mailboxes. I can assure you that Dick and Sue Collitt enjoy having the boxes in the store and enjoy the community interaction that happens there on a daily basis. It is a “hub” for our small, closely knit community. I am confident you will find that the store keepers are more than willing to be part of the solution.

On Tuesday, July 1st, there was an informal meeting in our town that was attended by approximately 100 residents. We unanimously felt that while an apology is understandable, the more appropriate action would be the immediate restoration of mail service in Ripton until this is all remedied, along with the appointment of an interim contractor or Postmaster. Our post office has experienced gaps of service in the past, and temporary employees have successfully filled that position.

I write this letter to encourage you to meet with us as soon as possible. We have a lot of questions and need information. We hope you will provide that for us. Some of our questions include:

  1. What authority or right did Sean Donohue / E. Middlebury have to make the decision to declare this an “emergency shutdown”? What exactly constitutes an emergency?

  2. What obligation does the USPS have in providing service to our town?

  3. How does the USPS determine an official site and employee versus a contracted employee who has to pay for everything out of their meager stipend? What are the criteria?

  4. How do we assure that our next Postmaster be either a regular USPS employee or, if it has to be a contracted position, earn a livable wage?

  5. What is the financial relationship between East Middlebury and Ripton? How is the budget set? Does the Ripton contractor have any input into the budget for the Ripton allotment? How do we go about getting credit for all of our out-going mail, such as bulk mailings, to more accurately reflect our true revenues?

  6. Do we need to take legal action in order to get service restored? We believe there has been a violation of 39USC Section 101, Title 39 Part 241.3 and Act 250.

Will you please call Sally Hoyler, our Town Clerk, at 388-2266 and schedule a time to meet with us? I know we would like to work this out with the USPS and we would like to do whatever we can to get our mail service restored immediately.

Thank you very much for your consideration. I believe you will find that our town is filled with caring, creative, passionate residents who wish to work collaboratively for a logical and legally correct solution.

Sincerely,

Signature

NAME
ADDRESS

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Updates on the Ripton postal affair

A few updates and thoughts on the Ripton post office crisis, on this July 4th weekend:
  1. Our CPU is still closed. No sign of temporary staffing from East Middlebury or the United States Postal Service in general.
  2. Sue says that the General Store didn't receive their newspapers today. Yes, the East Middlebury PO was too overwhelmed to process even the Addison Independent. (The paper processed us, though!)
  3. The East Middlebury PO is afflicted by long lines and delays, as one staffer, apparently alone, tried to do two towns' worth of mail.
  4. East Middlebury people seem baffled by the whole thing, and sometimes frustrated by the new delays. Apparently nobody told them about the Ripton affair.
What are your thoughts, blog readers?

- Bryan Alexander

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Addison Independent reports

The Addison Independent reports on our post office crisis.
Ripton residents, still struggling to secure federal aid to repair local roads, culverts and bridges hammered by last month’s flood, are now finding themselves taking on Washington, D.C., over the loss of yet another public asset: Their local post office...

Ripton road relief in Middlebury

Spotted this at a Middlebury video store, a can for money to help with our town's road damage:

Thursday, July 3, 2008

We make Postal News

Our Ripton post office story appeared on this week's Postal News site. Some, ah, interesting comments.

(thanks to Jeremy Grip)

Another rural New England post office story

The small Massachusetts town of Royalton just voted to set up a contract postal unit, rather than see their "tiny post office" close.
The board put the article on the meeting warrant after Pauline Caranfa, who holds the current agreement with the U.S. Postal Service, announced she was planning to leave her job to go back to college. If no one had taken over the operation, the postal service could have closed the building and possibly eliminated the town’s ZIP code, 01368.
Interesting to compare with ours.

(thanks to Jeremy Grip)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Letters to officials: sample

Riptonites have been sending many messages about the postal crisis to various officials. As a sample, here's one sent today:

July 2, 2008

Deborah Essler
District Manager
New Hampshire District,
Postal Customer Council
955 Goffs Falls Road
Manchester, NH 03103‐9990

Subject: Ripton Post Office temporary closure

Dear Ms. Essler,

I am writing about abrupt closing of the Ripton Post Office last Saturday (June 28, 2008) – something I gather you’re already well aware of. Ripton residents have been told weʹll be receiving a letter of apology from the US Postal Service ‐ and thank you ‐ but beyond that, we need our mail service restored to Ripton as soon as possible. Picking up our mail from the East Middlebury Post Office is not a ʺsafe locationʺ when it requires members of the community to travel down and back up a mountain (a minimum 6 miles RT, but for many ‐ longer) on a two‐lane mountain road still damaged from very recent flooding, ending with travel over a damaged bridge currently undergoing repairs for new guard‐rails.

You may have other options weʹre not aware of, but it seems to make the most sense to assign a USPS employee to the Ripton Post Office, where the mail can be sorted and placed in our boxes. Picking up the mail in East Middlebury is not working, and itʹs a huge burden on the remaining employee (is there more than one?) in East Middlebury. Apparently Sean (the E. Middlebury postmaster) is on medical leave, so with him gone, East Middlebury is already short‐staffed and not equipped to handle the additional burden of sorting Riptonʹs mail. (At our community meeting last night, some residents have reason to believe that the mail volume is even greater for Ripton than for East Middlebury.)

Ripton mail should be delivered to Ripton, sorted in Ripton, and placed in Ripton boxes because:
*Some Ripton residents work long hours and cannot get in to the East Middlebury P.O. during their window service.
*Some Ripton residents report showing up in East Middlebury for their mail, finding it hasnʹt yet been sorted, and have waited while the (undoubtedly stressed and overworked) postal employee searches the stacks for their mail.
*For residents who donʹt commute through East Middlebury on a daily basis ‐ this is an undue burden on them given the skyrocketing gasoline costs.
*On Saturday mornings ‐ there is probably no possibility of the Ripton mail being sorted in time for us to pick it up by 11:30am
*There isnʹt adequate parking at the East Middlebury Post Office, particularly for Saturday morning traffic.
*Hwy 125 is damaged from the recent flooding, and adding this much additional traffic creates a safety hazard and damages parts of the road further.
*Bridge work on the narrow bridge (Hwy 125( in East Middlebury (over a steep gorge) has resulted in that last stretch of road being narrowed to one‐lane only, with crews posted on either side. Additional vehicle traffic from Ripton is an unnecessary burden on the road crews trying to repair the bridge.
*The post office located in the Ripton Store allows us to pick up our mail 7 days a week, during the store hours (7am‐7pm M‐F, 8am‐6pm Sat & Sun). Many can walk or bike to the Store.

Many Ripton residents either work at home, or part time, or do not travel west on Hwy 125 in the course of their day. We cannot afford the extra costs in time, gasoline, and wear & tear on our vehicles. It makes no sense, when for years our mail is brought up to Ripton by a single vehicle.


With every passing day that our mail remains in East Middlebury, these issues continue unresolved and are posing a great burden on members of the community. I am sure there are even more factors I havenʹt addressed, but hopefully you can see my point! Some officials have claimed that closing the Ripton Post Office was an ʺemergency measureʺ. I consider the current situation something of an emergency ‐ and think ʺemergency measuresʺ need to be taken to restore mail to the Ripton Post Office ‐ as soon as possible.

Respectfully and sincerely,




cc: Cindy Mason, Manager of Marketing

Kathi Roy (via email), Manager of Consumer Affairs

Cynthia Thurston, Manager Post Office Operations, Rutland VT

Maureen Clark, Postal Co‐Chair (via email)

Ann Cousins, Preservation Trust of Vermont (via email)

Sally Hoyler, Ripton Town Clerk (via email)

Photos from last night's meeting



Remember, these photos don't show everyone! There were Riptonites lining the walls, sitting on the back table, and even some in the kitchen...

Text of memo sent by Sally Hoyler

I've just written and faxed the following to our congressional delegation. On the cover sheet I wrote,

"Our meeting last night was very productive and many questions, concerns, and possible solutions were discussed. I am sending you now a memo for immediate action, and later today I will send a summary of other questions and concerns that you may help us with. I speak for everyone when I say, thank you very much for your continued help with our cause!"

Sally Hoyler, Ripton Town Clerk


MEMO

July 2, 2008

TO: Our Congressional Delegation
FROM: Residents of Ripton, Vermont 05766
RE: Immediate action to restore mail delivery to Ripton

At a community meeting held in Ripton on July 1, 2008 attended by approximately 100 residents, it was decided that while we accept the forthcoming apology from the United States Postal Service regarding the recent action to close the Ripton Post Office without due notice, we feel that we are owed, at the very least, the equivalent of the required notice (60-days minimum) and response time we should have received in the form of temporary staff provided by the USPS to the Ripton Post Office location so that our mail delivery may be restored as soon as possible. We feel that just as the threat of the physical removal of the mailboxes from the Ripton Post Office necessitated immediate action to prohibit because it would be a move that would be difficult to reverse, we feel that the removal of our mail delivery service from the Ripton location must be reversed. In light of the fact that the Ripton Post Office remains whole and available, and we understand that the USPS is going forward with the bidding process to re-establish a contracted postmaster in Ripton, along with all the other reasons cited below, we fully expect the USPS to abide by it’s postal policy as set forth in 39 USCA Section 101(b) to “…provide a maximum degree of effective and regular postal services to rural areas, communities, and small towns…”.*


Other reasons discussed for the immediate restoration of mail delivery in Ripton:
  • Our mail service has never been interrupted in the past when we have been “between” contracted postmasters; appropriate temporary staff was always provided.

  • Many residents are unable to get to the East Middlebury Post Office during the window hours that we are restricted to for mail pick-up. The location of the Ripton Post Office within the Ripton Country Store offers the convenience of box access during store hours, which is open seven days a week, 7am-7pm weekdays and 8am-6pm weekends. One Ripton resident asked: “How do I get my mail in East Middlebury if I work a 9-hr day six days a week?”

  • The 4 mile section of Vermont Route 125 between Ripton and East Middlebury is not safe for high volume traffic. At the best of times, it is a narrow winding road with a posted speed limit of 40mph with reduced speed on curves, and is posted by the State of Vermont as “not recommended for tractor trailers”. The current state of this road is that it was damaged in a flash flood event on June 14, 2008 where considerable erosion of the south shoulder and lane occurred, and full repairs have not yet been completed.

  • The East Middlebury Post Office is undersized for the addition of our 216 boxes. The parking lot and building are undersized for the addition of 200+ postal patrons. The question of violation of federal building code needs to be addressed.

  • The inadequacy of space at the East Middlebury P.O. causes our mail to be sorted in batches. When we arrive to pick up our mail, we are required to wait while the postal worker sorts through the batch to pull out a single box holder’s mail.

  • Many residents have experienced delayed mail service evidenced by postmark and/or as compared to the regular delivery we have been accustomed to. This raises concerns for those who receive paychecks, social security checks, and the like.

* Complete text: “The Postal Service shall provide a maximum degree of effective and regular postal services to rural areas, communities, and small towns where post offices are not self-sustaining. No small post office shall be closed solely for operating at a deficit, it being the specific intent of the Congress that effective postal services be insured to residents of both urban and rural communities.”

WCAX reports on our July 1st meeting

WCAX covered our meeting last night. Here's a sample:
Residents are mad they did not get 60 days notice, which the USPS was supposed to give. The postal service has said it will issue apologies to the town.

"We don't want apologies," said [Erik] Eriksen. "We want the darn mail back, it's very simple."

The town is organizing to get its post office back as soon as possible and it's getting help from the state's congressional delegation, which has committed to working with the town and the postal service to bring back local mail delivery.

Click here for their entire story.

(thanks to Brad Braun)

A history of the Ripton Post Office

Many thanks to Charles Billings for compiling this!

The Ripton Post Office--A Sense of History, Community Identity and Fairness

Ripton was organized as a town in 1828, the same year that Daniel Chipman moved into his new home in the village. Shortly thereafter, on January 27, 1830, Ripton got its first post office in the home of Daniel Chipman. Ripton’s first postmaster held that position until his death in 1850. Some letters personally “stamped” by Daniel Chipman still exist at the Sheldon Museum, like the one marked free in Chipman’s penmanship and sent to Messrs Aldis & Davis to St. Albans,
VT, dated May 26, 1834.

In succession Ripton postmasters and their appointment dates are as follows: Daniel Chipman 1/27/1830, Daniel’s son George Chipman 5/11/1850, Frederick Smith 8/2/1852, Samuel Fletcher 4/12/1855, Zerah Porter 12/31/1857, Samuel Damon 4/13/1861, Elias Matteson 6/20/1865, Samuel Damon 4/9/1866, Herman Damon 12/11/1877, Samuel Damon 1/23/1878, Herman Damon 9/23/1878, Julius Baker 9/29/1879, George Baker 3/28/1881, George Hodges 7/21/1886, John Goodro 2/5/1889, Milo Day 11/22/1889, George Hodges 6/10/1893, Edna Day 4/27/1896, Helen Smith Day 5/13/1922, and Hilda Barnard Billings 4/30/1955. Contracted postmasters include Susan Billings 10/1983, Tim Williams 4/1993, Dorothy Smith Gelinas 2006-10/2007, and Bonnie DeGray 10/2007-present.

The location of the post office changed from its original location in the Chipman house a number of times, but from about 1889 until 1955 it remained in the building now known as The Ripton Country Store. In 1955 the post office was relocated to the village residence of Malcolm and Hilda Billings. Hilda, and later her daughter Susan, ran the post office from this location until 1993 when the post office was relocated back to The Ripton Country Store under contract to Tim Williams.

As recently as the 1960’s, or even later, some residents of Ripton would refer to the mail delivery as the stage, a reference to Joseph Battell’s three-passenger surrey and other horse-drawn buggies that made the trip from Middlebury to Ripton. By 1917 the Ford automobile had replaced the stage and mail was delivered by Star Route drivers contracted to the U.S. Postal Service. During Hilda Billings’s tenure Robert Frost would make infrequent visits to the post office. Usually, he would exit the post office into her house and wait at the dining table until she had time to chat. When Frost’s commemorative stamp was issued in 1974 collectors lined up outside to get Ripton’s postmark on the Frost stamp.

Throughout this post office’s 178-year, uninterrupted service it has continued to provide Ripton with a unique identity and a vital connection to friends, family, businesses, schools and government for social interaction, commerce and legal transactions. The post office is more than the place that mail gets dropped off, sorted and shipped out. It is a community center where people’s interactions help to form the very identity of the town. It is the one place that citizens come together on a daily and weekly basis to personally acknowledge each other, and to discuss issues of local and national interest.

Moving the post office out of Ripton makes little financial sense, either. The 8 mile round trip from Ripton to East Middlebury to pick up or drop off a forty-two cent first class letter will cost the average postal patron about $2.00 in gas alone, not considering depreciation or the hazards of winter driving. Cumulatively, the cost for Ripton’s 210 postal residents could amount to about $100,000 and 25,000 gallons of fuel. This is hardly the best way to improve economy, and
certainly not a good approach for being green. Full time residents of Ripton have the reasonable expectation that good and efficient mail service should be on par with that of the summer residents at Breadloaf Campus.

I join other Ripton residents in requesting that the post office remain in Ripton.

Charles Billings, P.O. Box 119, Ripton, VT 05766

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Meeting Tonight!

Info from Sally on Conference Call

I just heard from Rachel from Rep.Welch's office. She along with staff from Senators Sanders' and Leahy's offices (Beth & Jeff, and Katherine) had a conference call this morning with USPS officials from yesterday's meeting. The USPS will be sending all of us a letter of apology for not giving us notice of the closure of the Ripton Post Office along contact information about bidding for the position of Ripton Postmaster. Rachel knows of our meeting tonight and suggests that we come up with a list of questions that we can submit to Rachel, Katherine, Beth and Jeff and they will bring them back to the postal service for a response.

Reminder: Meeting at 6:00 p.m. tonight, July 1, at the Ripton Community House.

Sally

Community meeting tonight

Don't forget tonight's meeting at the Community House. 6 pm!

Another Joanna Shipley photo from Saturday's protests, from outside the Ripton General Store:

Monday, June 30, 2008

A Letter from our Congressional Reps



Click here for a higher resolution image [385 kb jpeg].

Or click here for a copy of the doc as a pdf [350 kb pdf].

Talking with the office of Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, one of Vermont's United States Senators, is proving to be an ally to our community. According to one of his staff,
  • They consider the postal crisis to be a serious problem, and sympathize with our complaints
  • They like our petition and our actions so far
  • One staff member is now working on this full-time
  • Sanders is working with USPS right now
Here's the phone number for Sanders' office: 1-802-862-0697 - or - 1-800-339-9834

Filing your Complaints about the P.O. Closure

Readers of The Riptonite have sent in valuable information regarding the closure of our Post Office.

First, here are links to the procedure for filing complaints about Post Office closures:

The Postal Regulatory Commission reviews complaints about the closing of Post Offices.

http://www.prc.gov/prc-pages/about/default.aspx

See for the Rules, pages 97-100 of this pdf document:

http://www.prc.gov/prc-docs/aboutprc/rules/RulesOfPractice.pdf

*********

Secondly, here is the address of the Postmaster General, followed by an excellent sample letter:

The Honorable Jack Potter
Postmaster General
U.S. Postal Service
475 L'Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, DC 20260-0010

Dear Mr. Postmaster General:

The Ripton, Vermont Post office (05766) is suddenly closing, by
management fiat, without community input or review and in apparent
ignorance of Title 39, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 241.3. The
decision to close requires a 60 day comment period involving the
public. There is also a 30 day period of appeal. None of this
happened; the decision was taken in secrecy, and the only notice was a
handwritten poster outside the PO telling residents that the boxes
themselves would be removed by this coming weekend.

It's a new hardship for Riptonites, residents of a mountain community
including many elderly, who will now be forced to commute at least 3.3
miles, expending extra fuel and expense to retrieve mail that used to
come to us. The extra trips up and down the mountain will be even
more difficult and hazardous next Winter.

Please investigate this apparent breach of the law governing Postal
operations, and let the people of Ripton know the results.

Thank you very much,

[signed]

Robert Wagner
1049 Lincoln Road
Ripton, Vermont 05766