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October 21, 2020 top stories
Oxbow goes remote
after Covid case

BRADFORD—Oxbow High School joins a number of other schools in the Upper Valley with a COVID-19 diagnosis. Students will spend this week entirely in remote learning, through at least Oct. 23.
“This is the first confirmed case we are aware of in our staff or student body,” Orange East Supervisory Union Superintendent Emilie Knisley wrote in response to a question from the Journal Opinion. “We are following the Vermont Department of Health protocols closely.”
School officials said a staff member learned of a positive diagnosis on the morning of Oct. 17 when they notified the wider school community that Oxbow would close for a deep cleaning over the weekend.
According to information she received from the state, the positive coronavirus infection began outside Oxbow High School and the school district. The staff member was on the Oxbow campus for one day.
The school later learned that no students were considered to be “close contacts” of the infected person, defined as anyone who has come within 6 feet of the sick person, with or without a mask, for more than 15 minutes, and that they would not need follow-up testing or quarantine.
Contact tracing isolated the positive case to the 8th grade. Knisley said the staff member’s privacy prevented her from disclosing further information, like the person’s condition. She said safety measures in place such as mask-wearing and social distancing made a difference in preventing further spread of the disease.

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OCTOBER SURPRISE—A healthy if short-lived snowfall blanketed the region during the early morning hours of Oct. 17 yielding some nice fall and winter contrasts.
Board moves forward
with Wi-Fi project

WOODSVILLE—The Haverhill Selectboard signed off last week on the initial phase of a short-term, low-cost plan to bring public Wi-Fi access to downtown Woodsville.
The board voted 5-0 on Oct. 13 to approve initial outreach and planning for a $50,000 Wi-Fi mesh network that would rely on existing private broadband connections in the village.
The project will be led by Lyndon-based IT consultant Andy Mosedale, who had previously briefed the board. Mosedale generally described the internet speeds in Woodsville as “pretty bleak.”
The proposal would be developed with wireless mesh technology relying on existing broadband connections at local businesses and homes to build out a free, publically available Wi-Fi zone that would cover a 1.5-mile stretch of Central Street from Walmart to Railroad Park and surrounding blocks. It could also reach Community Field and the Clifford Memorial Building along South Court Street.
The rollout would first need to acquire agreements with partner hosts who have existing broadband connections. The initial phase would require approximately 60 hours of work and would involve mostly planning and siting.

Despite pandemic, plenty
on tap for Halloween

BRADFORD—Wondering what is happening this Halloween? Festivities will vary from town to town as COVID-19 safety measures take precendence this year.
And you do not need to wait until Halloween weekend. There are plenty of events getting underway this weekend.
Haverhill plans a Haunted Trail Oct. 23 and 24 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at 26 Rowley Road near Cemetery Road.
An online announcement describes the trail where a 700-square-foot tree house and haunted hundreds of square feet of “living hell awaits thrill seekers.”
More than 5,300 lights will “guide your way and cast light on the creatures of the night.” Masks are required.
Admission is $5 cash per person and as long lines are expected, having exact change will move the lines faster.
A glowing Fairlee Town Common promises to be fun for families.
On Oct. 24 between noon and 3 p.m., one pumpkin per family member may be picked up from the Common and taken home for carving or decoration and returned by 5 p.m., on Oct. 31.
Courtesy candles will be added to the pumpkin art which will be on display until Nov. 2 at which time artists should remove their creations.
Still, while some events have been postponed or cancelled, the ones that are happening will take plenty of precautions.
Sherri Sargent of the Haverhill Recreation Department is enthusiastic about this year’s Haunted Hayride on Oct. 31.
In previous years, the Clifford Memorial Building served as the haunted house but safety concerns have changed this year’s event from an indoor one to an outdoor one.
“We feel we can do a haunted hayride with strong safety precautions,” Sargent said in a telephone interview.
It will be a limited tickets, reservations only affair. No tickets will be sold at the gate.
Riders may rent one-half of the wagon for a group up to eight people, or a whole wagon for larger groups. This will eliminate waiting in long lines or congregating.
The HRD is partnering with River Meadow Campground where cars will park. People will board the wagon and travel a little over a half mile into Hazen Park, and then return to the campground.

Pro, amateurs team
on local excavation

FAIRLEE—Digging up history can be a fascinating prospect. For years an old foundation lay undisturbed near a hiking trail in the Fairlee Forest.
Few people paid attention to it.
Were it not for archaeologist and Fairlee resident Dr. William Fitzhugh, the site might have been destroyed by a logging earlier this year.
Signing on with the Smithsonian in 1970, Fitzhugh, senior scientist and curator of North American Archaeology and Director of Arctic Studies Center, has made discovery his life’s work.
With degrees from Dartmouth, he has taught there as well, and Harvard, his research has taken him to Newfoundland, Northern Canada, Mongolia, and Russia.
When COVID-19 shut everything down, he and his colleagues scattered. Fitzhugh and his wife Lynne found solace at their Fairlee home.
He had noticed the old foundation while walking in the woods on the trail across the mountain.
When fall logging threatened to demolish the site, Fitzhugh reached out to the loggers and the Town of Fairlee.
About a month ago, Fitzhugh called upon interested area high school students to aid in what has become a valuable learning experience.
According to Fitzhugh, archaeology in the area is not well known since professors in New England generally work farther afield and don’t pay much attention to local opportunities.

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