Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Ripton traffic stop leads to Homeland Security

...a car pulled up with a lone male at the wheel. He was not giving his
name and it became apparent that the license plate was fake. The driver was
briefly taken into custody. The U.S. Forest Service brought in a search dog
trained to sniff out illegal drugs. When the dog got to the trunk, it let his
partner know that he had found something.

Finally, the man handed over a passport that police say checked out
valid. But it also brought a warning over the police radio to be careful around
him. Senior Game Warden Dale Whitlock explained, "When I ran it through
dispatch, it came back with multiple convictions of driver's license suspended.
And a caution. Sometimes dispatchers will issue a caution to us to use

the car was suspicious enough, as well as its driver, to warrant further
attention. The feds were expected to run the man's name through Homeland

Even the law enforcement people here called this a very unusual day,
and we're not talking fish and wildlife violations.

WCAX did some digging:
Our check of the Internet shows the man belongs to a group called the
Embassy of Heaven,
an elusive church group based in Oregon that
renounces government, issues its own license plates, has been raided for
non-payment of taxes and, according to the Anti-Defamation League, has ties to
anti-government militias.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Notes from the November flood mitigation meeting, part 2

Notes from last night's town flood mitigation meeting:
*These notes are rough. We welcome amendments and corrections!
The first part of these notes can be found in this blog post.

Part III: the plan
Roy Schiff then described the proposals for mitigation flood damage.
  1. Shoring up riverbanks, or "armoring" them, with stones. These stones, called riprap, should have a mean diameter of three feet, will be obtained from rocks already on site, as far as possible.
  2. Emplacing a "grade control structure" to further stabilize banks. This will be a large rock structure, situated on the riverbed.
  3. Excavating a flood chute across the stretch of land enclosed by the river's bend. This chute can carry extra water straight across that land, drawing it away from the road. The chute already exists, as we can tell from sand repeatedly appearing after rains and high water on the western edge of the land; this excavation will deepen the chute, letting it pull more water from the river. Digging won't stretch the whole length of the chute, but will focus on the first third, east/above the village, since the middle third of the land is already low enough to serve.

Part IV: discussion and questions from the community

Amy and Roy fielded questions and comments throughout the meeting. I didn't catch 'em all in these notes, so please don't hesitate to add yours in comments!

Question: what's the timeline?
Answer: over winter, the plan is put out for bidding. Permitting should happen in early 2010 (with the Army Corps of Engineers, among others). Work should start - roughly - in July. Timing depends on a lot of factors, of course (including V-Trans schedules).

Question: who pays for this, and how much will it cost?
Answer: FEMA and the state of Vermont have agreed to support this, which should cover much of the cost. The town might have to pay some. Some affected landowners may also be approached to contribute. It's very hard to cost the project out at this stage, given complexity and fluid (sorry) circumstances.

Question: what will cover the flood chute?
Answer: it apparently won't look that different, a mix of rocks and foliage. More of the former will be exposed through digging, while more of the latter will be planted for cover.

For more information, please contact Amy Sheldon. We'll also blog this story as it unfolds in the coming months.

Notes from the November flood mitigation meeting, part 1

Notes from last night's town flood mitigation meeting:
*These notes are rough. We welcome amendments and corrections!

I. Introduction
Warren King introduced the session by describing the planning process and background. After the disasterous 2008 floods, Ripton sought to reduce damage from future events. The emerging plan runs counter to current wisdom about river management, but is best suited to Ripton's conditions.

Timeline for the project: In March 2009 the subject came up at town meeting. Community involvement grew, grown by a May publish meeting to mull options. Contacts with Vermont river professionals led to the development of a plan, and winning funding from FEMA and the state of Vermont.

The purpose of this meeting (November 17) is to share developments with the town, while eliciting community responses and reflections.

II. Managing an unruly river
Next, Amy Sheldon explained the content of river management. When the 2008 floods struck, she and others were already working to improve the Middlebury river corridor's sustainability.

The current state of the art in river management holds that the best way to reduce flood damage is to let waters find their own equilibrium, shifting human construction and habitation accordingly. The state of Vermont is transitioning to this view, but the Ripton case is exceptional, due to local conditions (the closeness of village to water, plus costs).

Some work has already been done for the whole Middlebury River. For example, an East Middlebury bridge now has a properly sized span. A group has also purchased land on the south side of the river there, in order to led futures floods have room to carry water and silt. Upslope, this group is also working with landowners on the middle branch of the river.

In Ripton, the group is now working with landowners east/above the town to acquire land in order to allow future floods to run off there.

(The meeting continued with another presenter; see next post.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Riptonites hit by Champlain Bridge closing

Ripton folks are impacted by the Lake Champlain bridge closing, according to WCAX.
[Theresa Jackson] lives in Ripton but works in Ticonderoga. She worries
her commute will get even longer if the ferry shuts down as planned this

"If they shut down on Sunday, I have two hours to get here and two
hours back home," she said.

"That's four hours, so I'm lucky if I see my kids once a week. And then
Christmas, gas -- are you kidding me? That's expensive."

Monday, November 16, 2009

More information on the Ripton flood mitigation project

More information on the Ripton flood mitigation project: first, the title is
Ripton Village Flood & Erosion Protection Project

Second, some history:
In August of 2008, the Middlebury River jumped its bank and flooded Ripton
Village. Areas along the right (north) bank of the channel were severely
eroded during this storm event and portions of Vermont Route 125 upstream and
downstream of Ripton Village were washed out. Addison County
received an emergency declaration after this event and Federal money was made
available to Ripton to stabilize the stream bank and reduce future erosion and
flood hazards.

Third, about the present, and the near future:
The Town of Ripton has received funding from the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) through the Vermont Emergency Management (VEM) Hazard Mitigation Program to hard armor (rip-rap) approximately 710’ of the right bank of the Middlebury River, to construct a channel grade-control weir, and to re-connect an historic flood chute on the left bank.

(thanks to Amy Sheldon for emailing)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Agenda for Tuesday night's flood mitigation meeting

Here's the agenda for Tuesday night's flood mitigation project meeting:

  1. Introduction – Laurie Cox and Warren King, Town of Ripton
  2. Project Overview – Amy Sheldon, Project Manager
  3. Construction Details – Roy Schiff, Engineer
  4. Discussion and Questions

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Community Thanksgiving Tuesday November 24

Friends of Ripton School (FORS) invites Ripton community members to come together for a Community Thanksgiving meal on Tuesday November 24 at 12:00. To contribute a food item or help in any way, or if you know of a community member who might need to have a meal delivered, please contact Lisa Durante 388-1062 or Connie Trudeau 388-0860.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Community meeting Tueday night: Middlebury River in town stabilization

We have a community information meeting Tuesday night, concerning a proposal to help stabilize the Middlebury River as it passes through town.

From email:

The Selectboard of the Town of Ripton has scheduled an informational
meeting for November 17th 2009 at 7:00 P.M. in the Ripton Community House to
inform residents of the town about the project to stabilize the Middlebury River where it passes through the center of town.
The design of the project will be explained and comments from the residents will
be accepted and evaluated. The funding of the project will also be discussed
including the Grant that has been approved.

Any questions can be directed to the Clerk to the Selectboard (802) 388-3465.

Thank you,

The Selectboard of the Town of Ripton

Laureen Cox

Ronald Wimett

Richard Collitt

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ripton health care meeting in the news

Our recent community meeting on health care reform was written up by the Rutland Herald.
The Friends of the Ripton Church are highlights, as are Ripton locals Jeff and Carrie Wulfman.