County budget wins approval

NORTH HAVERHILL—A Grafton County operating budget for the next 12 months in excess of $48.7 million was overwhelmingly approved by legislators on Monday morning.
Meeting mostly in person at the county complex, the delegation of state representatives voted 25-1 to approve the spending plan. Rep. David Binford, R-Bath, was the lone dissent. Ten other Republicans joined 15 Democrats to pass the budget. Rep. Russell Muirhead, D-Hanover, was the lone delegation member to not participate in voting on June 28.

Board restores one trash can

BRADFORD—There is a new development in municipal trash collection in downtown Bradford.
Earlier this year, garbage receptacles and recycling bins from several sidewalk locations on Main Street and Barton Street and one in Denny Park were removed after voters approved a budget in March that essentially defunded trash and recycling collection in the downtown and imposed a carry-in, carry-out policy for the town’s parks.
At least some of the the trash cans had been there for more than a decade. The recycling bins were added in response to Vermont’s universal recycling law passed in 2012.

Vax rate data may be off in one town

WEST FAIRLEE—Mailing address issues are causing West Fairlee’s COVID-19 vaccination rate to appear lower than it actually is.
The Vermont Department of Health website shows a vaccination rate between 21 and 30% for West Fairlee and a rate greater than 90% for Fairlee, with a disclaimer saying that the vaccination rate in West Fairlee may appear lower than the actual rate due to “address uncertainty.”
West Fairlee does not have a post office branch. It was displaced in 2008 when the town-owned Bean Hall was ordered closed due to structural problems. The United States Postal Service officially closed the branch in 2011.

Schools want input on federal money

BRADFORD—Over $10 million in federal funding will come to Orange East Supervisory Union as part of various federal coronavirus relief packages. The district has begun asking for public input on how to spend the money.
The funds have been or will be distributed through three separate acts. The initial disbursal came through the CARES Act program, Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER. That amount was $619,541. ESSER 2 yielded $2,959,749, while ESSER 3, as part of the American Rescue Plan, funding totals $6,641,735.

Scenic spot set for makeover

WAITS RIVER—One of the most photographed sites in Vermont is Pike Hill Road’s approach to the New Hope Methodist Church in Waits River. There are barns on either side of the road and in the foreground is a small bridge with wooden railings.
New England photographer and blogger Jeff Folger calls it “an iconic location.”
Indeed, it is and folks are loathe to make changes to the scene in any way. But those railings are now warped and in need of repair. The bridge bed itself needs attention.

Bail reform, Covid played role in stand closure

NORTH HAVERHILL—Why is there an inmate labor shortage on the Grafton County Farm?
Last week’s story, “County farm turns to cover crops in 2021,” about the temporary closure of the Grafton County farm stand spurred questions about the lower numbers of incarcerated at the Grafton County House of Corrections.
The lack of farm help started in 2020 with the COVID-19 quarantines and reduced operations of the court system. Since inmate farm workers have to be those who have received sentences and with no one being sentenced, there were not enough available hands for the work.

Local vax rollout matches state rate

As Vermont reached an 80% vaccination rate, eligible residents of Bradford and surrounding communities are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at a pace comparable to the rest of the state.
According to data from the Vermont Department of Health, Bradford’s vaccination rate was between 81 and 90%, as was the rate in Thetford. Fairlee’s vaccination rate was higher than 90%, and Chelsea’s vaccination rate was between 71 and 80%.

Embattled bridge inspires neighbors

THETFORD CENTER—The one-lane covered bridge over the Ompompanoosuc River on Tucker Hill Road was temporarily closed for several hours midday on June 17.
But this time the closure was not due to damage caused by an oversized truck striking the wooden frame, an all-too common occurrence at the site.
Instead, a throng of neighbors, Thetford officials and other friends of the bridge gathered near its east end to install new signs on either end of the Sayre Bridge. Several short speeches and a ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the occasion once both signs were mounted in place.

Social media page draws criticism

BRADFORD—There is some disconnect about a Facebook group named Connecting Bradford as the social media hub came under fire during the selectboard meeting last week.
A brief discussion was prompted by a complaint the town offices received from a Bradford resident even though the page is not an official municipal website. Selectmen voted several years ago not to have an official Facebook page.
“It’s not an official site,” said administrative assistant Danielle Kingsbury. “That needs to be clear.”
Selectboard chair Ted Unkles agreed.
“I’ve also gotten a lot of flack,” he said.

County Farm turns to cover crops in 2021

NORTH HAVERHILL—This past year, the Grafton County Farm and Farm Stand, as with everything and everyone else, fell victim to COVID-19’s disruptive influence.
Passersby may have noticed that business is not as usual and wonder what is going on. The farm stand will not open in 2021, but that doesn’t mean the County Farm won’t be operating this year. It just means they will be doing things a little differently.
Since 2003, the Grafton County Farm has supplied produce to the Grafton County Nursing Home, the Department of Corrections, and to the public for sale at the farm stand. Local food pantries also benefitted from the farm’s potatoes and schools enjoyed pumpkins.