Opinion: New Vistas Development Falls Short of Utopia

Ms. Carly Alpert, CVC Environmental Correspondent

If we continue emitting the amounts of greenhouse gasses that we do today, it is projected that by 2060, we will die from lethal heat stress, according to the American Geophysical Union. We clearly need to make a change in our lifestyles, preferably a drastic one, if we want to be able to continue calling planet earth home. Former Mormon bishop David Hall believes the problem of global warming can be combatted with his invention of a completely sustainable design called The New Vistas. However this design appears very cult like and does not seem like the appropriate method to address the world’s environmental issues.

In blue, properties bought by NewVista. In red, the Joseph Smith Memorial. All data is approximate. CREDIT NICOLE ANTAL / DAILY UV

In blue, properties bought by NewVista. In red, the Joseph Smith Memorial. All data is approximate. CREDIT NICOLE ANTAL / DAILY UV, by way of VPR.net

David Hall plans to build The New Vistas in southern Vermont; more specifically in the intersection between the towns of Turnbridge, Royalton, Safford, and Sharon. It is a non-profit organization, committed to building an entirely self-sustainable community. According to the New Vistas website, the goal is to “provide housing and employment opportunity within an ecologically and economically sustainable infrastructure, and conserve real property for fully sustainable development.” People who want to join this community must sell off all their assets with the proceeds going to the Foundation. In exchange, that person can live in The New Vistas. Everyone who joins the community will be entirely equal. He plans on 20,000 residents in this first community, but he expects it to grow, and eventually be home to 1 million people in Vermont alone. His goal is to eventually create a continuous empire of 5,000 acres, made up of many communities.

People living here are limited to the opportunities granted within the small walls of their community. They are literally shut out from the real world; living in an alternate fantasy world. It sounds like a mix between Divergent and The Matrix. While this does seem like an enticing program because it supposedly will have little to no impact on the environment, it is very different from anything Vermont has seen before, which makes some people uncomfortable.

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Opinion: Trump Hit the Refresh Button on Democracy

Mr. Shane Beal, Guest Political Commentator

How Trump Rewrote the Political Script as the Founding Fathers Intended

First and foremost, when I say that Mr. Trump is healthy for the political system, I’m not making a defense of his character or any of his particular policies. The reason that he’s good for our electoral process is because he fragmented the strict two party system that has dominated American politics for decades. In this capacity, what he did could have been done by any outsider candidate, and the good he did has to be viewed in the appropriate context.

His victory is good in the sense that it prevented Hillary Clinton from winning. Had she won, both parties would have reinforced the notion that in order to win an election, their candidates would need to conform to traditional party values and platforms. Mr. Trump’s victory showed that a candidate who appeals to the concerns of the citizenry, regardless of where these issues fall on party lines, can win an election, and in doing so, encouraged both parties to diversify their views, reorienting their agendas from reinforcing party platforms regardless of current issues to paying attention to and addressing the individual and fluctuating concerns of the American citizenry. In this context, Mr. Trump’s election is a resounding success for our political system and, more importantly, for the American people. Mr. Trump’s victory now is a victory for every candidate who appeals directly to the citizens rather than to the party, and will allow the citizens of our country to better be represented by their candidates.

John Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence" (1819) has hung in the White House Rotunda for nearly 200 years.

John Trumbull’s “Declaration of Independence” (1819) has hung in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington DC for nearly 200 years.

The oppressive two party system that existed prior to Mr. Trump’s election was an evil that the founding fathers predicted and understandably abhorred. As John Adams said, “there is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”

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Recent tragedies on Lake Champlain highlight need for safety, awareness

Mr. Maxwell Akey

HINESBURG, Vermont– The drastic and unpredictable weather patterns in Vermont are no surprise for those living in the Green Mountain state. Vermonters embrace the many different seasons that make all sorts of varied activities prominent. Days go from temperatures in the 80’s during the summer to grounds wet and muddy in the fall, and then to freezing temperatures with snowstorms and slick ice in the winter. Fishing, hiking, skiing, and swimming are just some of the activities that Vermont’s weather provides.

Once temperatures start to drop below freezing and the cold rain begins turning into snow, a new surface for activities is created. While the freezing of many ponds and lakes, including the famous Lake Champlain, creates an area for activities, the safety hazards that come along with frozen bodies of water are very serious. Dave Trevethick is a natural resource teacher at Champlain Valley Union (CVU) High School. His thoughts on this topic are short and powerful: “Always understanding that ice is never safe is important, and keeping that in mind will keep you safe on the ice.”

Photo courtesy of Vermontbiz.com

Photo courtesy of Vermontbiz.com

Every year there is an incident of people falling through thin ice mistaken for ice that is solid and strong enough to hold. Last March of 2016, a Shelburne resident fell through the ice at Shelburne pond and was unable to be saved and drowned. A Vermont Fish and Wildlife game warden also experienced a near-death situation when he fell through the ice trying to save the victim. Jeff Bernicke, a well known father in Shelburne, was neighbors with the man who fell through the ice last year. He said that, “After this incident happened, I have definitely been more cautious with frozen water and our pond, especially for my three sons who love to skate in the winter.” People’s judgment when it comes to frozen water can be poor and often times inaccurate.

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Gorman is fired up on sno’chines

Mr. Kyle Gorman

A small community connected far outweighs a large community divided. Small areas in southern Vermont have become a primary example of that point. In these more rural towns there are far fewer restaurants and stores and way more woods. The people in these less modernized communities have used snowmobiling as a unique way to get out and socialize, indirectly creating a small, harmonious society.

In the cold of the stagnant Vermont winters, Springfield, Vermont is arguably the most happening spot in the northeast. The peace and quiet of the woods turns into a racetrack filled with the brap sounds of powerful snowmachine engines. These unique snow vehicles have become a staple of these small communities and have created a more harmonious stomping ground in an area that may be lacking in similar rallying points.    

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I was lucky enough to gain access to the inner circles of the tight-knit snowmobiling pack down in Springfield.  Upon first entry I met over fifty people who were regulars to the group. Each of them seemed ecstatic just to be sitting on the snowmachines. I asked Mr. John Prescott about his experience with the group and how it has affected his life. Mr. Prescott told me that there was well over 200 “riders” that would join in on the weekly excursions. Prescott then went on to talk about how he and his wife rely on the outings as their social circles. Mr. Prescott said, “It is a fantastic way for someone of my age, really of any age, to get out into their community and meet people, while also having the time of their life”.  He mentioned that he was very thankful for the group of people he rides with and that he was astonished by what good, life-time friends he had made just by ripping around the woods with them. Mr. Prescott relayed all of this information to me with an enormous smile on his rosy face, a similar expression that I observed on all of his friends winter-whipped faces.

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Skip skool to ski? Some CVU students do

 Ms. Olivia Cottrell

VERMONT– At the first signs of snow up on the mountains there is always a new touch of excitement in the air. For many Vermonters it’s time to go and pull out their skis or snowboards. Winter has begun and it’s time for the fun to begin. In a state where skiing is, and has been for a long time, a main attraction, the beginning of winter is almost a spiritual experience.

There are many types of winter sports, downhill skiing and snowboarding being only a fraction of them. While they only make up a fraction of the winter sports available, they are some of the most popular. CVU has an Alpine Ski team and an after school ski/snowboard club called the Shredhawks.  

Shredhawks at Sugarbush .Photo courtesy of Troy Paradee

Shredhawks at Sugarbush .Photo courtesy of Troy Paradee

Skiing is popular to the point where it is almost cultish in Vermont. People take ‘powder days’, not sick days. The first sight of snow on the mountains brings out the die-hard fans who are willing to do a lot to get the first run. There are even people who partake in backcountry skiing and snowboarding. If there is enough snow on the mountains people are willing to grab their board or skis and hike up to the top to ski down.

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Opinion: “snowblades are the greatest ski medium known to man”

Mr. Douglas Schmidt

Two words: Snow. Blades. What are they, you ask? Well, quite simply put, they’re the greatest skiing medium know to mankind. Snowblades, also known as Skiboards or Snolarblades, are by definition “a winter sport which combines elements of skating, snowboarding, and skiing.” Now this definition is correct, but there’s much more to blades than just that.

Snow blades are not just skis. They’re twigs, strapped somewhat flimsily to your ski boots, with one simple purpose; to put ordinary skiers to shame. Snow blades average around 75-99cm in length: just about two feet. It’s like skiing on the soles of your boots, just at very high speeds going down a mountain.

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(Not) Doug Schmidt getting rad on ‘blades.

You have an extreme amount of control on these little twigs of fury compared to your average 170 cm ski.  The reactiveness of your blades to your movement is almost instantaneous, whereas, for full-length skis, it takes a lot more power and strength just to make a turn.  Snowblades are also perfect for the woods. Because of their size, blades make it easy to navigate around tight trees and to stop on a dime if you run into trouble.

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CVU’s woodchip boiler keeps the heat on and the fossil fuels off

Mr. Max Akey

HINESBURG, Vermont– It is no surprise that during some of Vermont’s coldest months, buildings require massive amounts of energy to keep heated through the cold winters. There has already been a day that reached as cold as -5 degrees fahrenheit and it hasn’t officially hit the “winter” starting date. Responsible for heating over 1,200 people, Champlain Valley Union High School’s (CVU) maintenance crew is always prepared for the coldest of days.

CVU has been and continues to be one of the top 3 largest high schools in Vermont. For many years, the school’s hallways are home to some 1,200 people. Students, teachers, community member, and other staff. Making sure the school is always heated and at a comfortable temperature is something that requires not only a lot of energy, but maintenance and money as well. I sat down with CVU’s ground and maintenance manager Kurt Proulx to learn more about the school’s underground boiler room built the year of 2005.


Using biomass fuels for heating has been a big step for CVU in the past decade and has had an eco-friendly impact on the community. Before the boiling room was built and running, CVU was heated through the burning of fossil fuels more specifically oil. Although the process worked and kept the building heated. Massive amounts of smoke and greenhouse gasses were emitted out of the building daily and the efficiency of the process was poor. CVU has turned to an alternate solution that has proven to work extremely well, is much more efficient, and is cleaner for the environment.

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Hinesburg’s Geprags Park Continues to block pipeline completion

Ms. Carly Alpert, CVC Special Environmental Correspondent

We live in a time when our civilization’s growth seems to be limited only by the availability of energy. We all use it in our daily lives, and probably couldn’t imagine a world without lights, television, and heat. But people are questioning if the possible risks outweigh the benefits of capturing this energy. The pipeline crossing Geprags park in Hinesburg has been a recent source of controversy, though the project has been in the works for the past four years. This last section of pipeline will complete a 41-mile stretch from Colchester to Middlebury, and will allow for the distribution of gas to homes and businesses in Addison County.

Image from protectgeprags.org

Image from protectgeprags.org

Activists speaking out against the pipeline are concerned about the environmental and safety implications. Pipelines have been known to explode, causing colossal damage. According to insideenergy.org, there have been 4,269 pipeline incidents since 2010; 64 of them involved fatal injuries. Leaks are also a major concern. 474 people have been injured, 100 people have been killed, and $3.5 billion of damage has occurred as a result of pipeline accidents, leaks and spills. This has all occurred in the United States alone. Is providing energy to better the economies of these Vermont communities worth the risk of a malfunction? Explosions and leaks can also be very detrimental to the environment. While a malfunctioning pipeline is very dangerous, however, the probability of one exploding is extremely low.

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February Horoscopes with Tahini Turner

“Don’t worry, what you are about to read is only your destiny…there’s really no point in worrying  about it because you can’t change it.”

Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com

Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com

 

Aquarius-Do not dump your significant other on Valentine’s Day, that’s a rookie mistake. Don’t make Valentine’s Day be that day every year that they have to remember a heart wrenching or embarrassing breakup.  

Pisces-I know “La La Land” has become the soundtrack to your life but if your friends have to hear that depressing piano riff one more time…

Aries-Make this your month: get a new ‘do, fall in love, let yourself be vulnerable, eat that bread if you want. Disconnect yourself from those who place a heavy energy on your heart or make you feel mentally and physically drained when you’re around them for long periods of time. It’s time to cut the strings and allow yourself to lighten your heart and spread that light to people who you care for and care for you.

Taurus- Your stubborn mind and that rebellious phase you’re going through mix to make a sour combination that make you a bit difficult to be around. Take some time to yourself to dwell on your current mindset and make lists of things you really enjoy and value in daily life. Once you have taken some time to yourself, express all those complex feelings to someone you trust, allow yourself to open up in a genuine way. Give and Receive.  

Gemini- February is going to be a long month for you. Don’t fight it; take it hour by hour, day by day. Do your best to stay in the present moment,

Cancer- Yes, you finally have a Significant Other for Valentine’s Day, but try not to go too overboard with the festivities. What you see as romantic, could be horribly frightening and make your new S.O. think that you’ve already picked out the wedding music and reception h’orderves. For now, keep it chill and put your Rico Suave side on the back burner.

Leo- Woooeee, you have been in a fiery mood lately. Be aware of how you overreact to those around you and keep that hot headedness in check. When it’s a Monday afternoon at Hannaford’s and the cashier asks you if you want paper or plastic, it is not the time to go off on them and say that they’re accusing you of being environmentally unaware.

Virgo- If your mind keeps flashing to the embarrassing moment that just happened at school the other day, think about it like this, now you have some super amusing stories to tell your children to make them feel better about their embarrassing high school experiences.

Libra- Feel free to pamper yourself this month and get that pedicure you’ve been wanting. As your guru I highly recommend Bella Vie Nail Spa in Williston.

Scorpio- It’s time to suck it up and eat your leafy greens like you promised in your New Year’s resolution; kale is a phenomenon for a reason and that extra folate and magnesium can’t hurt.

Sagittarius- You should try Crossfit, not everyone is scary and super fit…..well maybe they are.

Capricorn- Start up that Youtube channel you’ve been wanting to do, I’m sure there’ll be an audience somewhere that wants to watch you cultivate different types of mushrooms.

 

CVU GSTA Kicks off Ally Week

Ms. Kali Adams

CVU’s Gay Straight Transgender Alliance (GSTA) Club is organizing an Ally Week during the week of February 6 through 10. The purpose of having an Ally week is to both help allies learn how to be allies and to feel more comfortable with knowing how to help their LGBT friends, either by supporting or standing up for their rights,” says Vern Shipway, one of the GSTA’s presidents. “And that it also helps for the people within the LGBT community to see how many people support them and accept them.”

Photo courtesy of MoMA

Photo courtesy of MoMA

The GSTA has been at CVU for almost twenty years, holding regular meetings on Thursday mornings. The group works to build the community between LGBTQ students and their allied peers. The club is not just a gathering for LGBTQ students; it is meant to be a safe place for students regardless of sexuality and gender. The idea of hosting an Ally Week came from the realization that many allies don’t even realize that such a group exists, much less that they are welcome to attend their meetings. “I sometimes (playfully) think we’d do well to launch an entire campaign entitled, ‘The S stands for straight,’” quipped Rahn Fleming, one of the group’s advisors. “One of the missions of the GSTA is to be a unifying place; a place where all students, faculty, and staff can expand our sense of ‘we’ within our community.”

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Doug jumps Jack, and lives to tell the tale

Mr. Douglas Schmidt

The Jack Jumper. The Ski Bock. The sit-ski. You can call it many things, but there’s only one way to describe the experience you’ll have flying down a hill with your feet hanging on both sides of your body and your hands gripping onto a wooden seat trying to keep your balance, terrifying and insane. The Jack Jumper is a New England born ski medium. It’s a seat, screwed to a ski. Together, it’s the arguably the second best ski medium, after snow blades.

Most jack jumpers are home brewed, meaning they’re built in a basement. The materials for mine were quite ordinary, one ski, two planks of wood, 14 screws and 15 minutes in the basement to build a monster on a plank.

Once it was built, I took it for a spin in the front yard. Let me tell you, I’ve never been so terrified in my life. I set the jumper down, took a seat, and prayed I didn’t hit the tree straight ahead of me. And so I pushed off, lifted my feet off the ground, leaned back and held the seat for dear life. 25 feet later, I made it to the bottom without falling. It was at this moment I knew I had created a monster.

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Vermont youth help trail-trekkers and watersheds

Mr. Declan Trus

RICHMOND, Vermont — Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) is a non-profit organization that teaches young people lessons in personal responsibility with work that connects them to each other, the community, and the land. The VYCC was established in 1985 as a program of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation. VYCC’s program model is based off of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s. The VYCC was founded by Doris “Dot” Evans and Thomas Hark.

Members of the VYCC move a large rock. Image courtesy of vermontbiz.com

Thomas Hark is a former crew leader for the Youth Conservation Corps in Young Harris, Georgia and camp director for the Minnesota Conservation Corps. Hark also has a Master’s degree in Experiential Education from the University of Mankato.

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Dawn of the zombies: sleep-deprived teens need to get off the screens

Mr. Nathaniel Mick

The recommended number of hours a teenager should sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation, is seven to nine; in reality, only fifteen percent of teens are getting that amount. Between blue light from screens, distractions from devices, homework, procrastination, and early school starts — teenagers have a lot to deal with. It’s no surprise that so little get sleep, but that’s no excuse for more than eighty percent of teenagers to lack sleep so often.

There’s a certain beauty to the irony that I am falling asleep at my keyboard as I write this.

The problem with sleep is that it is easy to go without it for a night, but that could mean up to a week of recovery. Many teenagers, and adults, haven’t felt what being truly rested feels like in a long time. With so much going on in life, it’s easy to put off sleeping for later. After all, sleeping takes up valuable working time, and seems so trivial. However, recovering a night of sleeplessness isn’t as simple as it seems. Sure, missing a few hours the night before a big test can be reversed with a few more hours of sleep the days after. Unfortunately, when you miss a few hours for a week or two, things start to get complicated.

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Hunting: a vermont tradition is still handed down from generation to generation

Mr. Jeremy Lang

Hunting is normally a tradition passed down from generation to generation which teaches sustainable living and becoming one with nature. Hunting connects and feeds families. Vermont is one of the first states to develop constitutional language that protects a citizen’s right to hunt.

With that said, according to Vermont Fish and Wildlife, Vermont is rated as one of the top ten worst states to hunt in. This is because in the past five years, public land has dropped by 10%. Private landowners are also posting their property because they don’t want their land to be hunted.

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Mackenzie Fournier with a 10-pointer she bagged in West Harrison, Indiana. The buck weighed 180 pounds, field-dressed.

According to VT Fish and Wildlife, in 2016 almost all of the state’s 65,000 resident hunters hunted deer at some point during the fall season and more bucks were taken per square mile in Vermont than in any other New England state. In addition, 18,950 muzzleloader doe permits were issued. This is so that the state can manage deer herds in Vermont and stop them from destroying small animal habitats.

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First-class first responders: CVU students step up

Mr. Doug Schmidt

HINESBURG, Vermont — They roam the halls, attend classes, eat lunch, and do work just as any other student. They’re the same as anyone else, but it’s what they see and do that sets them apart dramatically. When the little black box on their waist goes “Beep, Beep, Beep”, it’s time for them to go. It means someone’s in trouble, having potentially the worst day of their life, and they need help. That’s when CVU students respond to the call.  It takes more than a desire to become a first responder; it takes motivation, hundreds of hours of training, class, paperwork and practicals just to be given a probationary shield. It’s a lot of work, for little reward. So why do students become first responders? It’s the satisfaction of saving someone’s home, property, or life that keeps first responders at CVU motivated to do what they do.

The Hinesburg Fire Department. Image courtesy of Owler.com.

“It’s about helping others and making a difference even if all that a person needed was someone to talk to,” said Ethan Cote, CVU class of 2017. Ethan is a Nationally Accredited Emergency Medical Technician (NREMT). He is a member at Shelburne Rescue and a firefighter at the Hinesburg Fire Department. “I’m still new to first responding but so far it’s been nothing but rewarding” Cote continued, “you see some of the worst things and that’s hard, but I still do it because I feel I can make a difference.”

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Opinion: skeptical politicos, it’s time to get real on climate change

Mr. Alex Merrill

Every year it seems that winter is getting a little shorter.  Climate change is a reality that we must understand. Snowfall is becoming noticeably unpredictable. What used to be a thick white blanket that coated the landscape has turned into a variable carpet frequently interspersed with rain and long thaws. While many of us hate prolonged periods of -10°, few of us complain about lots of snow. Shorter winters are the most notable effect of climate change, and others persist.  The drought that we experienced over the summer can also been attributed to climate change.

On a larger scale 100 year storms are occurring more frequently. Is the old 100 year storm now a twenty year storm?  What will the new 100 year storms look like?  Will we see more flooding? More droughts, and more heat waves?  From a statistical lens it appears so. Fifteen of the sixteen hottest years on record (through 2015) have occurred since 2000 according to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).  This does not include 2016 which may well be the hottest year on record according to weather.com. Saying that this is a coincidence is statistically impossible.

Image courtesy of Skeptical Science

Image courtesy of Skeptical Science

In the last several years, landmark deals on climate change have been reached, culminating in the Paris accords which stipulated that all countries seek to limit global warming.  This summer, a deal was reached to limit the emissions of fluorinated hydrocarbons, HFCs that are 100 more times powerful than other more common greenhouse gasses such as CO2. These international deals represent significant hope for the planet.

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