Mary Freeman

mary-headshot-draft-1I’m taking a break from local issues today to share news of my mother’s passing.  She was known by many in the Northfield community, some of whom may wonder of her or who may wish my father condolences.

My sister and I wrote her obituary yesterday.  It felt like we were writing the resume of her life.  There’s really no way to capture a sense of soul in a brief, factual chronology of a loved one’s work, accomplishments, and interests.  But for the record, I’ll share the obituary.  Then I’ll add something a little more personal.

Mary Freeman (1938-2016)

Mary K. Freeman of Northfield VT passed away peacefully on November 25, 2016, in Sarasota, Florida.

She is survived by her husband, David Freeman, two daughters, Betty Capron-Herrick and Rosie Laquerre, two sons, Richard Freeman and Nathan Freeman, seven grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren as well as many beloved nieces, nephews and their families.

Mary felt a deep commitment to her work, her community, and social life.  She was a dot-the-I’s-and-cross-the-T’s bookkeeper and was a fixture at the Follett Bookstore at Norwich University.  Mary served as a Lister for the town of Northfield and was a long-time member of the Northfield Business & Professional Association.  Mary was Treasurer of the NBPA for several years.

Mary put in countless hours with David to create the inaugural Labor Day Parade and Bicentennial Celebration in 1975.  She and David were honored to have been named as Grand Marshals of the Labor Day parade for their behind-the-scenes dedication to our community.

Mary was a member of the Northfield Historical Society and a parishioner at St. John the Evangelist church.  She was an active member of the Eastern Star, serving as Chapter Secretary in Northfield.

Funeral services will be held May 20, 2017 with arrangements by Kingston Funeral Home.

Condolences may be sent to:

David Freeman
1800 Englewood Rd. Unit 165
Englewood, FL 34223

On a personal note, I’d like to say to those who have lost a parent, I now know your pain.  My heart is with you if you have experienced such a loss.  For those who haven’t, my heart will be with you when that time comes.

My mother was a good and fine lady, likely much like yours.  She was resistant to change, but when my father led the way she adapted and found new ways of finding happiness.

One of the most significant changes was the sale of their home on Freeman Road.  The Freeman family isn’t broad in numbers but we are deep in local heritage and tradition.  The idea of moving off the hill wasn’t popular with my mother, but the reality of retirement and the need to downsize was evident.  My parents made a new home closer to town and began to winter in a Gulf Coast town south of Sarasota.  I must say, her smile was vibrant in Florida.  She danced, rode a bicycle, and went swimming in her retirement community.

My father, David, stood by my mother’s side as her husband, life companion, and over the last few years, as her primary caregiver.   He’s reached an important milestone in his life more dramatic than any other, and one I can’t possibly imagine.  My hope is that he finds a new happiness in the years to come.

Rabbit Hollow Road Closure

A very concerning note landed in the Selectboard email inbox yesterday.  On Monday, bridge inspectors from VTrans recommended the closure of the Rabbit Hollow Bridge.  From the date-stamp on the photos in the report, it seems like this recommendation came immediately after inspection.  The report and accompanying photos are pretty grim.  (Click here to read the report.)

**The northern floorsystem has been compromised, as all of the steel stringer ends are more or less unsupported due to extensive bearing pedestal deterioration.  The I-beam pedestals below each of the seven (7) stringer ends at abutment #2 have failed.  All have heavy corrosion and extreme distortion from buckling.  The end of the deck and floorsystem at the northern abutment is now basically cantilevered off from the last floorbeam, which is roughly fifteen (15) feet to the south of the bridge end.  Under light loading, the wood plank deck defects significantly and the interior stringers have dropped away from the deck interface.  The now “floating” stringers are also subject to significant distortional and rotational forces, as they lack lateral restraint.

Fortunately, the Railroad owns the bridge, so it seems that Northfield residents won’t bear the cost of repairs or replacement.  Moving forward, the Town, VTrans, and Railroad will have to communicate and determine a repair/replacement schedule.

In the meantime, here are some pictures of the Rabbit Hollow Bridge on BridgeHunter.com.  Photo Credits go to Michael Quiet, who says, “Despite its small size and rusted appearance, the bridge is significant to our transportation heritage as an early and unaltered example of its type.”  Thanks, Michael!

rabbit-hollow-bridge-photo-5rabbit-hollow-bridge-photorabbit-hollow-bridge-photo-8rabbit-hollow-bridge-photo-7rabbit-hollow-bridge-photo-9

 

Former Select Chair requests emails

Before We Begin…

I’d like to thank three confidants for their advice on how I might respond to this issue. They have provided very different and very wise recommendations which have been invaluable.  I can’t say enough how much everyone’s feedback is important to me.  If there’s one thing I pride myself on the most, it’s my ability to listen to others and attempt to do a better job tomorrow than I’ve done today.  Thank you.  

With this in mind, I’m sharing information to speak about a larger issue than emails.  There’s a bigger picture about Northfield government which can be described in two sentences.  I’ll get to that below.  Regarding the headline, today’s post is mostly a Who, What, Where, When, Why article.

Readers, if you don’t want to read about “politics” this isn’t the post for you.

What’s this about?

Former Select Chair John Quinn filed a public-records request for emails under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  As you can see in the picture above, Quinn made his request via the Town Manager and cc’d the current Select Chair, David Maxwell.

Who’s emails?

Quoting Quinn’s email pictured above:

I am formally requesting under the freedom of information act, any emails between Nate Freeman and the Northfield police department employees. I would also like any emails between the Northfield police department employees and anyone with a @mychamplainvalley.com email And Any emails between Nate Freeman and emails that end in. @mychamplainvalley.com

MyChamplainValley.com is the website for the Plattsburgh/Burlington television station, WVNY.

I have complied with the request.  In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve posted links to my emails at the bottom of the page.

Who’s John Quinn?

Quinn served as member and Chair of the Board from 2011 to March 2016.  He also presided over the attempted ouster of Police Chief Jim Dziobek in 2015.  The attempt was rebuffed by a public outcry.  This incident is relevant today because what happened under his leadership provides context to his current request.

Why did Quinn name the NPD, WVNY, and myself?

Apparently, John thinks the NPD and myself may have contacted WVNY about a public official’s private legal woes.  For the record, this didn’t happen.  There are no emails which suggest such a connection.

On October 15th, the State Police issued a standard press release on its website regarding a Northfield public official.  On the same day, WVNY published a very brief article on its website, MyChamplainValley.com.  It reads like an article written directly from a press release.

Quinn appears to have a conspiracy theory that some of Northfield’s public officials are involved in the dissemination of public information.

What’s the subject of the WVNY article?

A public official is under investigation on a private-life matter.  I won’t’ discuss it here because, no matter how disturbing the allegation, his private-life business isn’t related to municipal business.  It’s only newsworthy in respect to the fact that he’s a public official.  Besides, I have to work with him.  If you want the details, please look it up yourself.

How does a private issue become a public issue?

Simple.  Public officials in Northfield have been called upon to respond to an FOIA request for emails.  Quinn is attempting to connect a line (which doesn’t exist) to a private-life matter.  Quinn should have known this when he made his request.  He should have also known that his email to the Town Manager is, equally, a public document.

What’s the Big Picture?

Northfield has a government with a hush-hush culture.  There’s a good-ol’ boy attitude that’s completely out of alignment with good governance.

Here are my emails

I’ve provided my emails to and from the Northfield Police Department in fulfillment of Quinn’s FOIA request.  You can read all of them by clicking on the links below.

Since my election last March, there have been 10 email conversations between myself and the Chief.  In our first conversation I asked about Northfield’s heroin & opiate problem — and from there our conversation continued.  I have no emails to or from WVNY.

Thank You

Once again I’d like to thank everyone who gives me feedback on local issues.  I believe I have been straightforward in my differences when I challenge my municipal colleagues on local issues.  Thank you for understanding how and why I feel compelled to share this post.

New Roof Approved

library-1

The Selectboard approved funding for a new roof for the library at the October 25th meeting.  The work will cover the non-historic portion of the library, over the children’s book stacks and Community Room.

It’s been a long time coming.  The roof has been leaking for several months, causing damage to ceiling tiles and books.

There were three choices for funding:  Take funds dedicated to the Municipal building CIP fund; Take out a low-interest loan; or deficit-spend against the annual budget allocated to the library.

After reviewing estimates and contract options, the Selectboard agreed to borrow funds and award the contract to Burrell Roofing.  (Of three estimates, two were competitively priced.  The lowest bid didn’t include a full 15-year warranty for material, nor did it include the complete replacement of roof flashing.)

Work should be completed by December 1st.

Annual funding for the library’s CIP fund has fluctuated considerably over time.  Town Manager Jeff Schulz said the annual budget for the library’s CIP fund has been “low” for the last 5 years.

Which leads to the question:  Do Northfield voters want leaky roofs or sustainable budgets?  

As a member of the Selectboard, the Economic Development Committee, and the Budget Committee, my vote goes for sustainable budgets.  If you agree, I’ll need your support when the annual budget process begins.

burrell-roofing-for-bpl

 

Harwood Strong Boys Soccer Game

Just a quick post to share some pictures from the Marauders vs. Highlanders game this evening.  It’s the first time on the field with Harwood since the October 8th automobile tragedy.  Northfield players are wearing black and gold armbands, Harwood’s school colors.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Another token of support can be found in the High School hallways.

harwood-strong-t-shirt

 

Water Street Park: Playground or Bridge?

park-or-bridge

Time is running out for the final decisions in the Water Street Park design — and your voice deserves to be heard.

Here’s a simple question:  What would you like to see for a recreational amenity at the soon-to-be-constructed Water Street Park?  Fill out the poll below!

Maybe you have other thoughts?  Regardless, the question is important.  I’d like to ask you to share this post with all of your friends on Facebook and on your email list.  I’d also like you to share your comments below.

It appears that a natural playground may be the preferred choice — although it’s not clear how many people are involved in this decision.  Current residents of the Water Street neighborhood had a special opportunity to provide input at an event last March.  The next round of feedback took place at Night on the Common.  So if you don’t live along Water Street and were not able to attend the June 19th Night on the Common, your voice may not be heard.  Take two seconds to respond via the poll.

Anecdotally, some folks have asked why we need another playground when the one at Memorial Park is in disrepair.  Personally, my position is that a bridge, which is included in the current draft plan, would be a better option for the following reasons:

  1. An expensive playground would be destroyed in the next flood.
  2. A bridge would coincide with the recent Area Wide Plan proposal for a River Walk on the east side of the river.
  3. The bridge would provide access to a beautiful side of the river with a trail leading south to Norwich University.  The trail already exists as a utility path along a water/sewer line running from Norwich University to the Freightyard Way development area.

But what’s important is your input.  So, what do you think?  There’s not enough funding for both.  If you had to make a choice, would it be a playground or a bridge?  Don’t forget to leave a comment.  And thanks for your time!

park-and-awp

 

 

#HarwoodStrong

It’s been a tough week for our neighbors in the Harwood Union High School district, following the surreal, unthinkable automotive crime on I-89 last weekend.  (We can’t call the incident an “accident”.)  No one can fill the void in the loss of five young Vermonters.  The best that can be done is to pull together as a community.

This week, Harwood’s community extends throughout Central Vermont.  Schools across the region are standing strong with the families of the lost.

img_20161013_130209707-2

As of Wednesday evening, Northfield became one of five schools to deliver condolences in a gift of cards.  Lots of cards.

Students throughout the Middle/High School spent their Homeroom period making and signing cards after holding a moment of silence in solemn respect.  Additionally, one student from every Homeroom joined art teacher, Mr. Howard, to create the banner pictured above.  Today, students began signing the banner.  Next Tuesday, the banner will be hung when Harwood meets Northfield at the Boys Soccer game.  Those attending the game are encouraged to wear black and gold — Harwood’s school colors.

The cards were delivered Wednesday evening.  Next Tuesday, the banner will be hung when Harwood meets Northfield at the Boys Soccer game.  Those attending the game (4pm at Garvey Field) are encouraged to wear black and gold — Harwood’s school colors.

Tomorrow Northfield Middle and High School students will gather in the auditorium and sing “Stand By Me” as another token of sympathy.  The song will be recorded on video and shared with our neighbors over the hill.