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29 posts categorized "Travel" Feed

June 24, 2010

Senator Patrick Leahy Still Ahead in the Polls

DSC_0141 Despite a clever ad critiquing the national debt that gained him some national attention, Republican Len Britton is making little headway against incumbent Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, according to the results of a new poll.

Today, Rasmussen Reports released the results of its recent Vermont poll and found Leahy leading Britton by a comfortable 64-29 margin. In March, a similar poll found Leahy leading a "generic Republican" by a 58-33 margin.

In the new poll, 3 percent of respondents prefer another candidate, and 4 percent are undecided.

Continue reading "Senator Patrick Leahy Still Ahead in the Polls" »

May 21, 2010

Moody's Downgrades Burlington Airport Credit Rating

BTV_logo For the second time in less than three months, the credit rating agency Moody's has downgraded Burlington's bond rating — this time affecting millions of dollars in bonds held by the Burlington International Airport.

The news came via press release late this morning from the mayor's office, but has been known for several days and was shared last night at the city's board of finance meeting.

Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the Burlington International Airport’s credit rating from Baa1 to Baa3, citing concerns about the airport’s “protective liquidity” due to uncertainties in the city’s pooled cash system, a debt service coverage ratio that is too low, and a potential reduction in enplanements based on the recent departure of AirTrans.

Earlier this year, the city's overall bond rating was downgraded due to the $17 million Burlington Telecom owed to the city's "cash pool," an amount that has yet to be repaid. Moody's put the city on a 90-day credit watch in March.

Continue reading "Moody's Downgrades Burlington Airport Credit Rating" »

March 25, 2010

Who's Killing Vermont's Quality Seals?

Babyseals_front* * Updated Below with Response from Douglas Administration * *

While I was paying attention to health care reform, taxes, Burlington Telecom and Commissioner David "Sunshine" O'Brien for this week's column, I missed a huge story — Vermont's quality seals are being clubbed to death to close the state's $150 million budget gap.

WCAX-TV had the story on Sunday, and pols began to chime in shortly thereafter.

Sen. Doug Racine (D-Chittenden), one of five Democrats hoping to become the next governor, said the seals had been "rendered meaningless," and their eradication was "a black eye for the state of Vermont."

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture announced Monday its plans to kill off the quality seals as part of budget cuts, a process that quietly began on January 1. The agency did not give the number of dead seals in Vermont to date.

As someone who's lived in Vermont almost my entire life (so far), this was news to me. Do we have seals? Otters, sure. But, seals?

And, apparently they are not just any seals but quality seals. All that clean country living, no doubt. Which is why they are costing us money.

Where is PETA? Greenpeace? Where is Paul Watson and his merry band of righteous Sea Shepherds?

Today, Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie broke ranks with Gov. Jim Douglas and decried the clubbing of Vermont seals. Dubie is the putative Republican candidate for governor this fall.

Continue reading "Who's Killing Vermont's Quality Seals?" »

March 08, 2010

Maritime Museum Eyed as Moran Plant Tenant

Local-moran_0 The redevelopment of the Moran Plant will be the main item for debate at tonight's Burlington City Council, including a request to sign a deal allowing the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum to become the project's crucial third tenant.

Last fall, the Green Mountain Children's Museum pulled out of the project, leaving only two possible anchor tenants — Ice Factor, a Scottish-based company that wants to create an indoor, family adventure center, and the Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center. The city then sought, and received, proposals from nonprofit groups interested in occupying up to 7000 square feet of ground floor space in the Moran Center at Waterfront Park redevelopment project.

Burlington College, Burlington City Arts, the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum offered proposals. Here's a description of the Maritime Museum's proposal:

Continue reading "Maritime Museum Eyed as Moran Plant Tenant" »

November 30, 2009

Burlington to Host Public Meeting on Moran Plant Plans

The public is invited to hear a status update from city officials on the Moran Center Project tomorrow night.

The 7 p.m. meeting will be held at the Burlington Electric Department on Pine Street, Mayor Bob Kiss announced today.

The meeting is roughly one month after the Green Mountain Children's Museum pulled out of the project as one of three private partners, and just one week after the city's Community and Economic Development Office issued requests to fill that tenancy.

The City of Burlington and project partners from the Ice Factor and Community Sailing Center will discuss current plans for the Moran Project and the process for selecting a new tenant, as well as provide an outline for how the public can weigh in at upcoming meetings.

Ice Factor representatives from Scotland will be in Burlington this week, and will take questions from the public during the meeting.

Last week the City issued a Request for Letters of Interest for a replacement tenant for the Green Mountain Children’s Museum.

Continue reading "Burlington to Host Public Meeting on Moran Plant Plans" »

November 22, 2009

Whatever Happened to Mike Ives?

Mike-Ives Staff writer Mike Ives left Seven Days in May, after spending two years writing news and feature stories about Vermont life. He's been traveling in Asia ever since.

We get dispatches from him every once in a while — he sent an email last week to let us know that he's been picking up freelance writing gigs overseas, using Hanoi, Vietnam, as a home base. Next month he'll be following the Vietnamese national soccer team to a tournament.

He sent along a links to three blog posts he wrote for Outside magazine, about a rock climbing festival he attended in Yangshuo, China. Read them if you want to live vicariously through our friend, the foreign correspondent.

Continue reading "Whatever Happened to Mike Ives?" »

November 18, 2009

Segway Supporters Turn Out for Bike Path Hearing

Local-segway-istock A Parks and Recreation Commission public meeting last night on the question of whether to allow Segways access to the Burlington bike path drew a number of supporters for the proposal. Kevin J. Kelley wrote about the issue in last week's Seven Days. His story is currently the most popular item on our website.

Kevin attended the hearing last night at the P&R office on Pine Street. He said the room was filled, and estimated a crowd of 30 to 50 people. He writes, "Steve Allen, chair of the P&R Commission, said at the end of the 90-minute session that it's unlikely a decision will be made prior to the commission's scheduled meeting in January. P&R staff, headed by new director Mari Steinbach, will study last night's testimony and do additional research on Segway use around the country that will inform the commission's decision."

Here's the full report Kevin sent this morning:

Vt attorney Rick Sharp, one of the pioneers of the Burlington bike path, spoke in favor of Segway use. Sharp, who was injured in a 1996 accident, moved with visible difficulty from a seat in the front row at the hearing to the witness chair less than 5 feet away.

Sharp framed Segways as an earth-friendly mode of transportation that would fit on the bike path philosophically as well as physically. He described Segways as "another step in the save-the-planet movement." The devices are battery-powered and produce no emissions.

Continue reading "Segway Supporters Turn Out for Bike Path Hearing" »

November 05, 2009

Children's Museum Pulls Out of Moran Plant Project

The Green Mountain Children's Museum announced this morning that it will not be one of three anchor tenants in the Moran Plant redevelopment project on the city's waterfront.

The multi-million-dollar redevelopment of the former coal-fired electric generating plant has been years in the making. In September, a key financial deal was struck with the legislature to allow Burlington to finance its portion of the development without additional taxes.

Citing the economy, GMCM's board chair said the organization is looking for a new home elsewhere. The group's board made the decision Tuesday morning. An announcement was made this morning by the mayor's office.

“The city has done a good job of holding down project costs, however, the economic climate has changed since the project began and there are many variables beyond either party’s control," said Mia Graham Beer, of GMCM. "As a start‐up nonprofit, it is especially vital that we acknowledge those changes. We have therefore decided to seek an alternate location.”

Continue reading "Children's Museum Pulls Out of Moran Plant Project" »

May 11, 2009

The Suddenly Famous Crown Point Rodin

Rodin-champlain I was surprised this morning to find out that the media is hot on the trail of the "forgotten" Rodin bust at the Champlain Memorial Lighthouse in Crown Point, NY. The lighthouse and the sculpture are being restored in honor of the upcoming quadricentennial celebrations. Fox 44, WCAX and the Washington Post all ran versions of an Associate Press write-up on the Rodin piece. There's a story on the front page of the Burlington Free Press, too, though, inexplicably, the article isn't online. 

I wrote about the bust in April of 2006, in a story called "Lady on the Lake." Probably no one remembers it now, other than the fine people of Crown Point, who are probably still annoyed with my characterization of the region.

The French government gave us the Rodin sculpture in 1912, in honor of the 300th anniversary of Sam de Champlain's "discovery" of the new world, and as proof that our two countries are good buddies. This was a big deal back then. Rodin was very popular in the U.S.; President Taft came to Crown Point to see the lighthouse.

Since then, the work of art has been neglected. Here's my impression of the Crown Point visitors' center, from 2006:

The ramshackle tourist info center... houses hundreds of colorful brochures for attractions such as mini-golf and paintball, but the flimsy black-and-white tri-folded page that describes the Rodin is an outdated and poorly reproduced photocopy. A dark black finger smudge partly obscures the letters DEC - the acronym for New York's Department of Environmental Conservation.

On an afternoon in late March, there's just one brochure left. Tourist Information director Suzanne May opens a drawer in her office, pulls out the original, and slaps it on the copier to make more.

"I know," she says, "Pathetic. We can't get state funding to print any more. If I ever lose this, I'm in big trouble."

Apparently the impending quad has loosened some purse strings.

The picture of the sculpture is from my story. I think I actually clambered up on the rock wall of the lighthouse to snap the photo. It's not like there was anyone around to stop me. The park was more or less deserted, except for me and Frances Chevalier, the Norwich University professor who tipped me off about the artwork.

Incidentally, the face is said to be a likeness of Rodin's mistress, sculptor Camille Claudel. There's more about her tragic tale in my story.

It's worth a trip to the campground across the bridge to see the lighthouse, though it sounds like they're going to beef up security a bit now that people are aware that the sculpture is valuable, so you might not be able to get as close to it as I did. According to the AP, a rededication is scheduled for September 19.

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