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March 2011

March 23, 2011

UVM President Dan Fogel to Resign in 2012

Fogel University of Vermont President Dan Fogel is stepping down from his post next year, exactly 10 years after he took office.

Fogel, the university's 25th president, plans to teach English at UVM in 2013. He will officially step down from his presidential post on July 1, 2012.

Prior to Fogel's arrival, UVM was churning through presidents almost as fast as undergrads — four of them in less than 15 years.

How does Fogel think he'll be remembered in years to come?

"I worry people will think about the bricks and mortar, but we have done so much more to attracting wonderful professors, creating the lecture series, the transdisciplinary research initiative — truly a focus on academics," Fogel told Seven Days. "I also think we have seen a rise in standing of the university in the hearts and minds of Vermonters."

Many Vermonters, and certainly most Burlingtonians, are indeed likely to remember Fogel's tenure for UVM's physical expansion. According to UVM, Fogel expanded the university's footprint by more than one million square feet — making it 25 percent larger than when he arrived. That includes the purchase of the Trinity College Campus, the construction of Jeffords Hall, University Heights Residence Halls, the "greening" of Aiken (to be completed this year), and the opening of the massive Dudley H. Davis Student Center.

To sustain its physical growth, the university has had to increase its enrollment. UVM, which used to receive about 9000 applications a year, now receives more than 22,000.

Fogel's tenure as president, like that of most of his predecessors of the past two decades, has not been without controversy. A growth in the number of administrators with six-figure pay packages has also increased under Fogel — much to the dismay of the faculty union, students and staff. He also came under fire for dismantling the university's baseball team. As a result, one lawmaker tried to hold back $900,000 in funding for Groovy UV.

In a letter to the campus community Fogel touted several academic initiatives that he and others at UVM worked on: the creation of the Honors College, of the Burack President's Distinguished Lecture Series and the Marsh Professors-at-Large program, the six-credit diversity requirement, and the UVM Transportation Research Center as well as new programs that are still evolving, such as the Transdisciplinary Research Initiative, General Education, and UVM's growing partnership with Vermont's electrical utility industry and the Sandia National Laboratory.

Some of those initiatives have been criticized by faculty, however, who believe investments in some of them have harmed undergraduate studies by increasing class sizes and downsizing non-research faculty.

Continue reading "UVM President Dan Fogel to Resign in 2012" »

Neko Case Joins Mavis Staples in Concert at the Flynn

3ca62f1528168a7eacfd581e5ef14a0d Subscribers to the Flynn Center and/or Lane Series know by now that UK singer-songwriter Billy Bragg bagged his U.S. tour with the awesome Mavis Staples — but not because of visa problems, which have plagued performing arts presenters this season. Nope, it's because his mother is seriously ill. A good son, Billy is staying home, and we wish his mom well.

That news was a bummer for those of us who've been looking forward to folkie-activist Billy Bragg and the gospel legend Mavis Staples together in concert. What a righteous duo! But for my money, I'm really glad it's not Mavis who canceled. No offense to Mr. Bragg, whom I've seen, but I've never had the pleasure of hearing the soulful Mavis Staples live.

She was prepared to go it alone. That is, Mavis and the Spirit That Moves Her.

Continue reading "Neko Case Joins Mavis Staples in Concert at the Flynn" »

Jessie the Beagle Goes Missing



Jessie the beagle was found in a wooded area, dead of natural causes, a few hours after she went missing. Apparently she wandered off to pass along by herself.

Aumann emailed her thanks for everyone who volunteered their time to look for her.

R.I.P., Jessie.

Given that this week is our annual Animal Issue and our focus is on all things furry, fuzzy, feathered, etc., it seems apropos to pass along a lost-dog query for help.

Mindy Aumann, the foster director with Beagles of New England States (B.O.N.E.S., heh-heh), emailed to say that "a sweet, 11-year-old beagle" named Jessie, a rescue in the Essex Junction area, took off during a walk last Saturday and has not been seen since. That's Jessie pictured here. But you probably guessed that.

So, if any of you see this "sensational senior," here's the number to call: 603-781-1983.

And by the way, if you're a beagle lover, mark your calendar: The B.O.N.E.S. Beagle Bash — aka Woofstock — is coming up on September 24.

But before that, find Jessie. And have a nice spring and summer, and please pick up your dog poop.

Check the B.O.N.E.S. website for more info, including how to adopt your very own beagle.


March 22, 2011

James Beard Foundation Is Sweet on VT

Yesterday afternoon, when the James Beard Foundation tweets started rolling — announcing the 2011 award nominees — the list twinkled with green. In the Best Chef: Northeast category, Eric Warnstedt of Hen of the Wood at the Grist Mill scored his third nomination in a row. And though Nathaniel Wade (of Burlington's ¡duino! (duende)) and Jason Gulisano (of Waitsfield's the Green Cup) didn't make the cut, their presence on last month's semifinalists is a heady honor. It speaks to both their talent and Vermont's growing magnetism for gifted chefs and those who love them.

Vergennes writer Barry Estabrook continues to have a magic touch, racking up three nominations — for his articles — "A Tale of Two Dairies" in Gastronomica, and "The Catch," in the New York Times Magazine — as well as his blog, Politics of the Plate. Just up Route 7, the staff at Charlotte-based EatingWell magazine must have been celebrating for contributing editor Rachael Moeller Gorman, whose piece "Captain of the Happier Meal" was nominated in the health and nutrition journalism category.

Emeril Lagasse may be a New Orleans fixture, but it was his 2009  foray into Vermont that scored his "Emeril Green" series a nomination. During "Emeril's Culinary Adventure: Vermont," he cooked country-fried quail alongside Jason Tostrup of the Inn at Weathersfield, hit up Thetford's Cedar Circle Farm, and trekked around the Hardwick area to make tofu at Vermont Soy and visit Jasper Hill Farm.

Winners will be announced (and tweeted) on May 6 and May 9 — follow @beardfoundation on Twitter to get the real-time scoop. In the meantime, show the love to your fellow Vermonters — read their stuff! Eat their food! Raise a glass!

Operation Snow Removal: Montréal Edition

Snowremoval On a recent trip to Montréal, I was reminded of some of the many reasons our neighbors to the north are far supérieur to our sorry selves here in Canada Minor. For one, they know their way around a pastry like nobody's biz. I could eat my way through the city's many boulangeries and die happy, not to mention 800 pounds overweight. 

For two, they know how to get rid of snow. And not the way we get rid of snow here — by pushing it into some guy's driveway. They literally pick up the snow using special Québecois snow fairies and take it to some secret lair where little hobbits filter out the dog pee and cigarette butts and brew it into delicious alcoholic beverages.

But really, the Montréal snow-removal machine is a thing of beauty, and something to see if you ever get the chance. The city is world famous for this winter ritual. About five times a year, depending on the snowfall, each of the city's 19 boroughs conduct massive, days-long snow-removal operations involving 2200 vehicles and 3000 city personnel. The snow doesn't just get plowed there — it gets picked up and carted away so that it looks as if it never snows there at all.

To see photos of this spectacle, check out the "Montréal Snow Removal" Flickr results here.

Continue reading "Operation Snow Removal: Montréal Edition" »

Alice Eats: The Shed Restaurant and Brewery

1859 Mountain Road, Stowe, 802-253-4765

IMG_2073Everyone knows that the Shed Restaurant and Brewery in Stowe is the place to go for a growler or a flight of house-brewed beer. What I wanted to know is if it's still worth the trip if you don't drink. Does the food stand up to the famous brews?

When I arrived at the Shed, I was surprised at how enormous the place is — it includes a pub, along with three large themed rooms. We were led past the dark "Vermont" room to a bright, plant filled "greenhouse."

We were under a skylight which lit the antler chandelier and tree near our table. Even at nearly six, the room felt like, well, a garden party.

I sat in a mighty wicker throne, like the queen lady-who-lunches. Though the seat was comfortable inside, protruding nails on the outside of the chair cut my finger and pulled a loop out of my sweater before the meal was over.

The first order of business was to order the "Shed sampler." It seemed a logical way to judge appetizers.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: The Shed Restaurant and Brewery" »

VT Supreme Court to Hear Several Big Cases Tomorrow

VT Supreme Court The Vermont Supreme Court is taking the show on the road — to Vermont Law School. The court will hear seven cases tomorrow (including a few big ones). For full details, click here.

On the docket: an appeal of the approval of the Act 250 permit for the proposed St. Albans Walmart; two public records lawsuits filed by the Rutland Herald; and a case questioning whether a defendant charged with robbing a pharmacy using a toy pistol should have his statement to police excluded because he made it after asking for a lawyer.

Here's a rundown of tomorrow's court session, which starts at 9:30 a.m. in South Royalton:

Rutland Herald v. City of Rutland v. AFSCME Council 93, Local 1201 (9:30 - 10 a.m.)

Continue reading "VT Supreme Court to Hear Several Big Cases Tomorrow" »

Video: Middlebury Chili Festival

The only thing better than a pot of piquant chili on a late-winter day is 55 pots of piquant chili. That's exactly the point of the Middlebury Chili Festival, where every March, restaurants and businesses from Brandon to Burlington share their fare.

The day we shot this video, I was struggling with a bad cold. After sampling cup after peppery cup, I was definitely breathing easier.

March 21, 2011

NRC Issues New License to Vermont Yankee

Yankee * updated below *

Following through on its announcement less than two weeks ago, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission today officially issued a new, 20-year operating license to Entergy so it can keep Vermont Yankee running beyond March 2012.

The announcement on March 10 came one day before horrific events in Japan raised new questions about whether U.S. nuclear reactors could withstand multiple disasters.

Whether Entergy will keep the nearly 40-year-old plant open remains to be seen, given that to continue operation the company also needs a certificate of public good from the Vermont Public Service Board. Last year, the Vermont Senate — in a 26-4 vote — decided that keeping VY open beyond 2012 was not in the best interest of the state. As a result, the PSB has been unable to complete its review of Entergy's application before state regulators.

Today's NRC decision caps a review process that lasted more than five years.

Vermont's congressional delegation expressed its disappointment at the license renewal. The trio — Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) — issued the following joint statement:

“It is hard to understand how the NRC could move forward with a license extension for Vermont Yankee at exactly the same time as a nuclear reactor of similar design is in partial meltdown in Japan. We believe that Entergy should respect and abide by Vermont’s laws and the MOU signed with the state in 2002, which require approval by the Vermont Legislature, and then the Vermont Public Service Board, for the plant to continue to operate beyond 2012.”

Last week Gov. Peter Shumlin reiterated his contention that Vermont Yankee shouldn't be relicensed — regardless of the events in Japan.

An NRC spokesman told Seven Days there was no reason to halt the VY application given the unfolding nuclear events in Japan.

Continue reading "NRC Issues New License to Vermont Yankee" »

March 18, 2011

Public Versus Polluters (Round Two)

Stream * updated below *

A key House committee voted unanimously this week in support of legislation that would give the public a chance to weigh in on environmental enforcement actions handed down by state regulators.

The House Natural Resources and Energy Committee voted 9-0 in favor of the bill on Thursday. The bill goes before the full House on Tuesday.

The bill, as outlined in this week's "Fair Game," is in response to a ruling by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that said Vermont wasn't doing enough to comply with key provisions of the federal Clean Water Act. Unlike most states As is the case with 45 other states, Vermont has been given the authority to enforce the Clean Water Act.

Business interests had lined up against the bill out of concern that extending this public participation process beyond the federal permits would "chill" economic development. Those business concerns were being voiced the loudest by two former top environmental officials under the previous administration.

Continue reading "Public Versus Polluters (Round Two)" »

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