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

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


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.
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, 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 For questions, contact Krista Chadwick at (802) 828-5750 or, or Costa Pappis at (802) 828-5790 or 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
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

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,


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.




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


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.


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: