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VIEWS: 8 PAGES: 4

									THE BRIDGE                                                                                                          OCTOBER 15, 2009 • PAGE 25



                                                                           ar
                                                                             n R
                                                                         Le ITA                                        Classifieds
                                                                            GU                         ith R HOMES
                                                                                                      w LE RENOVATED                 HOME IN GREAT MONTPELIER

                                                                                                     KEL            NEIGHBORHOOD, $164,000. Near Vt. College,
                                                                                                                    great sun/light, double lot facing south, custom

                                                                                          VE
                                                                                                                    tile work in bathrooms & kitchen, sun porch,
                                                                                                                    cedar closets, replacement windows, decorative
                                                                                        DA                          tin ceiling, refinished wood floors, etc. First-time
                                                                                                                    Home-Buyers act now to qualify for $8K tax
                                                                          - Learn the songs you love
                                                                                                                    credit. Call Soren@ 249-0167. Central Vermont
                                                                          - Lessons for all ages and skill levels   Real Estate.
                                                                          - Experienced teacher, musician
                                                                                                                    FARM AND GARDEN
                                                                            and bandleader
                                                                          - Convenient Montpelier location             Plant of the Month Sale
                                                                         229-2737 or info@davekeller.com                    Most apple trees
                                                                                                                           15% Off with this ad
                                                                             To Your Health!                          Big selection, great time to plant

                                                                                                                        Elmore Roots Nursery
               R OCK WALLS ~ S TEPS ~ PATIOS                                        Classical                       802.888.3305 • elmoreroots.com
             Harmonized Handsomely from Field or Quarried Stone                                                     FOR SALE

            call Padma 456.7474 ~ www.earthwiseharmonies.com                      Homeopathy                        FIELD HOCKEY STICK. Purple/pink/black coloring.
                                                                                                                    Cranberry brand. Used one season. 454-1049.
                                                                                                                    HOME SCHOOL MATERIALS. K-6. Thoughtfully se-
               Executive Director                                         Charlotte Gilruth, CCH                    lected, quality items. Kids are in high school now!
                                                                                                                    454-1049.
                                                                                     Income-based fees
               Governor’s Institutes of Vermont
                                                                                                                    20-GALLON AQUARIUM. 454-1049.
 Executive Director sought to provide leadership in an exciting organi               229-0519
 zation offering artistically and academically challenging summer and                                                     MATTRESS SET **100% NEW**
                                                                                  cgilruth@gmail.com                 TWIN MATTRESS AND BOX SETS
 winter Institutes for high school students Candidates will be accom           www.homeopath.vpweb.com               starting $89, Full sets from $135, Queen sets
 plished nonprofit professionals with education background and experi                                                from $144, King Sets from $290. Under-
 ence Professional management experience is required with excellent                                                  priced Warehouse 802-846-7622. Priced
 leadership resource development and operations management skills                                                    20-50% less than any store, warehouse club,
 Full job description can be requested at givcol@sover net
                                                                             Tell them                               or odd lot center in VT, NY, or NH.

 Cover letter and resume by / /    to Executive Director Transition
 Team Governor’s Institutes of Vermont      State Street Ste             you saw it in The                           Platform Bed + Plush Pillowtop
                                                                                                                     Mattress Combo **100% New**
 Montpelier VT         EOE
                                                                              Bridge!                                Both w/10 yr. warranty. Twin Combo from $329, Full
                                                                                                                     Combo from $449, Queen Combo from $499, King
                                                                                                                     Combo from $649. Underpriced Warehouse
                                                                                                                     802-846-7622. Priced 20-50% less than any store,
                                                                                                                     warehouse club, or odd lot center in VT, NY, or NH.


                                                                                                                       Memory Foam Mattress Warehouse
                                                                                                                              Clearance **100% New**
                                                                                                                     Twin Mattress starting from $225, Full
                                                                                                                     from $299, Queen from $339, King from $399.
                                                                                                                     Underpriced Warehouse 802-846-7622. Priced
                                                                                                                     20-50% less than any store, warehouse club, or
                                                                                                                     odd lot center in VT, NY, or NH.

                                                                                                                    SERVICES

                                                                                                                    QUALITY PAINTING, RESIDENTIAL REMODELING
                                                                                                                    AND REPAIRS. Interior / Exterior. Excellent local
                                                                                                                    references. Stuart Morton 802-229-0681. corsica
                                                                                                                    @sover.net.
                                                                                                                    HOUSE PAINTER. 20 years experience. Small in-
                                                                                                                    terior jobs ideal. Drywall finishing. Neat, prompt.
                                                                                                                    Local references. Pitz Quattrone, 229-4952.


                                                                                                                                  IFred Blakely
                                                                                                                         Master Plumber
                                                                                                                          Remodeling to Repairs
                                                                                                                      WE CATCH RUNNING TOILETS
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                                                                                                                         Call for Information:       229-4216

                                                                                                                    QuickBooks Help
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                                                                                                                    Set-up and ongoing assistance
                                                                                                                    in person or live on the internet
                                                                                                                    John M. Riley
                                                                                                                    802-229-5988 • Capitalaccounting.org



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PAGE 26 • OCTOBER 15, 2009                                                                                                                                                      THE BRIDGE




                                                                              EDITORIAL
                                                                   EDITORIAL
    Margot George and Historic                                                                                               Slippery Waters
  Preservation Week in Montpelier                                                                        here is an old saw about letting money slip through your fingers like water. It takes on a
                                                                                                    T    particular irony here in Montpelier at the moment, where water systems and pipes have
                                                                                                    led to money slipping away—and not just a few dollars. Most of us have trouble balancing
     his year, in early January, with stunned
T    sorrow, on this editorial page, I reflected
on the untimely death of Margot George, a
                                                                                                    our checkbooks now and then. Some of us keep our books by checking our balance at the
                                                                                                    ATM. More often we get off track when we are in a hurry and write a check that doesn’t get
longtime resident of Montpelier and a per-                                                          all the way to the transaction record. Or simple addition and subtraction fail us. We write it
sonal friend. On December 18, 2008 when                                                             off to human error.
Margot died, she was 57 years old and to me                                                            While errors of this personal sort will irritate us, there are also the public ones—which
personally and to many others as well, it                                                           sometimes astonish us. When we make an error in our own banking we usually do so to the
seemed almost impossible that someone as                                                            tune of a few dollars. And if it hurts a bit, we know who to blame for the pain. But when
full of life and energy and work still left to do,                                                  government makes a banking error, the pain is often shared among many unlucky taxpayers.
was gone.                                                                                           We can’t imagine how they can be just as inept as we are. And it is often a bit harder to fig-
   Before going on to discuss a series of up-                                                       ure out who is to blame. This is one of those times.
coming public events to honor Margot, let me                                                           For any of you who have missed the latest news, the city of Montpelier cut a check back
retrace some of the important moments of                                                            in 2004 that overpaid Scott Construction—a Newport company working on water-line im-
Margot’s life.                                                                                      provements—by about $460,000. The construction company deposited the check. The error
   Margot was born in Montpelier at Heaton                                                          went undetected by administrators and auditors until 2006. The city has spent the last three
Hospital on November 24, 1951. As a child,                                                          years working to solve this problem quietly, trying to get the money paid back by Scott. But
youth and young woman growing up here,                                                              the construction company has now gone broke, and the situation has become public. The
she went through all the city’s public                                                              outstanding part of the debt appears to be about $380,000 in principal—though with inter-
schools:Union, Main Street Middle, and Mont-                                                        est and fees that number balloons to almost $400,000. Any way you figure it, it is a lot of
pelier High school, where she graduated in                                                          money, and it looks as though it will be impossible to recover.
1969. After high school, she was a student at                                                          While we sometimes express frustration with city government in these pages, we think
Vermont College.                                                                                    this is a good moment to point out that in general terms, we are pretty well served here in
   As an adult, Margot worked for a number of                                                       Montpelier. City Manager Bill Fraser, Mayor Mary Hooper, and the city of Montpelier have es-
years at the Vermont Historical Society. Then                                                       tablished a reputation for openness and transparency.
she became a real estate agent and opened                                                              Nevertheless we have some questions about this mess.
her own agency, Classic Properties, which in                                                        • Are adequate systems in place to deal with large checks? The city council has an active fi-
time became, Coldwell Banker Classic Prop-                                                            nancial oversight role. The Council signs the warrants, but how did such a large number
erties.                                                                                               get by?
   In the 30 or so years that I knew Margot, she was the mainstay and driving force of the Mont-    • Are there other, equally important, systems issues at city hall that need attention?
pelier Heritage Group, a citizens’ organization committed to the architectural integrity and his-
                                                                                                    • Where the h--- were the auditors in all of this? The error was discovered, not by the audi-
toric preservation of Montpelier.
                                                                                                      tors, but by the then newly hired city finance director Sandy Gallup.
   In the remembrance I wrote about Margot this past January, I referred to a phone conversa-
tion with Jay White, a practicing architect who lives in Montpelier and who specializes in his-     • Are there other items of city business that are not currently being disclosed to the public?
toric preservation work. White recalled his first meeting with Margot in the 1970s when the red       This is about building and maintaining confidence.
brick building at the corner of State and Main was covered up with ugly, white vinyl siding; in-    • Did the city misrepresent itself in any printed budget information sent out to voters?
deed, during the 1970s there were many other buildings in downtown Montpelier that had been         • Who will pick up the tab for the lost $400,000?
covered up with vinyl siding or corrugated roofing materials. Remembering his first meeting
                                                                                                    • In recent years, many city council members have been elected without opposition. As a
with Margot, Jay White said, "Whenever there was an issue, she was right on top it. She saw the
                                                                                                      city are we paying close enough attention? Is there enough robust discussion and debate?
whole town as hers."
   Margot never quit on her commitment to historic preservation and in an essay she wrote for          We fear that we know the answers to some of these questions.
The Bridge in October 2005, she said, "It wasn’t easy."                                                One further question remains: That is the cover-up question. As with cases of conflict of
   Over time, the screening and siding came off our glorious downtown buildings. What we see        interest, even the appearance of a cover-up must be avoided at all costs. Vigilance and open-
today is a result of the historic preservation awareness that swept through the city in the 1970s   ness must be the order of the day. We do not accept the explanation that a sotto voce ap-
and 1980s.                                                                                          proach was essential to the attempts at recovering the debt. Indeed, it can reasonably be ar-
   Margot’s commitment to historic preservation in Montpelier was a passion and though the im-      gued that the city might have had as good or even a better chance of recovery if it had
pacts of her work were public and visible, her pursuit seemed less like a crusade and more like     immediately made the problem public. We are also troubled that most, if not all, of the de-
the expression of an intensely personal conviction that the city’s historic fabric—including its    liberations in this matter occurred in executive sessions.
buildings, streets, parks, towers, steeples, bridges, riverfronts, and surrounding hills had im-       So was this—pardon the pun—Watergate? Absolutely not. There are no acts of venality or cor-
mense value. When Margot looked at a building, she saw its many elements: its steps, doorways,      ruption present here. But these are slippery waters. The fact that attempts were clearly made to
porches, windows, brick, wood, or stone exteriors; its ornamental flourishes both inside and        make this problem go away without any public acknowledgment is most unfortunate.
out. She understood that all these details added up to something of value.
   Now there is a series of upcoming public events in Margot’s honor. Over the past several
weeks, the Montpelier Heritage Group along with many local and regional sponsors is organiz-
ing "Montpelier Historic Preservation Week"—a four-evening series of public events that will
                                                                                                            Bertil Agell Named Vermont
deepen our awareness and understanding of preservation issues.
   Historic Preservation Week will begin on Monday evening, October 19 at 7 p.m. at the Pavil-
                                                                                                              SCORE District Director
ion auditorium (109 State Street, Montpelier) with a keynote speech by nationally known preser-
                                                                                                                                                           xperienced businessman and longtime
vation scholar and writer Donovan Rypkema. For an interview with Rypkema, please see the
supplement included in this issue, Montpelier’s Architectural Heritage.                                                                                 E  SCORE volunteer Bertil Agell has been
                                                                                                                                                      named Vermont SCORE district director
   On Tuesday, October 20 at noon, 4:30 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. there will be walking tours of
downtown Montpelier starting from the information booth on State Street. On Wednesday                                                                 effective October 1, 2009.
evening, October 21, at 7 p.m. at the council chambers in city hall, there will be a presentation                                                        SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Execu-
by the city’s planning and development office and its historic preservation commission about                                                          tives) is a national nonprofit association
the recent documentation, expansion, and preservation of Montpelier’s historic district.                                                              that works in partnership with the U.S.
   The final event of Preservation Week will be a broad-based historic preservation building                                                          Small Business Administration (SBA) to act
trades presentation on Thursday evening, October 22 at city hall auditorium, again at 7 p.m.                                                          as counselors to small businesses. With
   Those of us who knew and loved Margot will continue to honor her in our hearts. That will                                                          more than 12,000 active volunteer busi-
never stop. But this Montpelier Historic Preservation Week will bring us together, give us a                                                          ness counselors across the nation, SCORE
chance to learn and reflect, and provide an opportunity to honor the woman whose example                                                              is able to offer business advice and exper-
of fearlessness, tenacity, and boldness of vision has in large measure transformed this city into                                                     tise to America’s entrepreneurs and small
the historic place it is and whose life and work inspires us to carry on.                                                                             businesses.
                                                                            —Nat Frothingham                                                             Here in Vermont, SCORE has more than
                                                                                                                                                      60 active volunteer counselors and as the
                                                                                                                                                      new Vermont district director, Agell will
                                                                                                                                                      be responsible for overall planning, coor-
                                                                                                                                                      dination and delivery of SCORE’s business
                                                                                                                                                      counseling services across the state.
                   Send us your letters!                                                                                                                 Agell ran successful business operations
                                                                                                    in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida, and New York before coming to Vermont. Among other
                   E-mail mpbridge@sover.net.                                                       business credits, from 1976 to 1982, Agell was the first executive director of the Central Ver-
                                                                                                    mont Economic Development Corporation. Later, he was co-owner and business partner in
        (300 words or less, please. Our deadline is Monday.)                                        the Barre-based computer firm, Applied Micro Technologies, Inc.
                                                                                                       For further information about SCORE, please contact the Montpelier SCORE office at 802-
                                                                                                    828-4422, ext. 217 or by e-mail at scorechapter275 @aol.com.
                                                                                                                                                                             —Nat Frothingham
THE BRIDGE                                                                                                                                                   OCTOBER 15, 2009 • PAGE 27




                                                                                    Opinion
                                                       From Hardscrabble to Digital
              by Andrew Kline                        ness of this place. Helping each other out of
                                                     the snow banks in the winter or working with
                                                     your neighbor to get their hay into the barn

W
            hen I came to Vermont in 1970 to
            teach photography at Goddard Col-        were all part of what it meant to live in this
            lege in Plainfield, for me it was like   community. I arrived here just as that hill farm
opening a door to the past. The unpaved              way of life was coming to an end. Replaced by
roads, the harsh winters, the scattered, rural       the forces of a change that was both technical
population—all held a charm for me that was          and social in nature. Indeed, I and others like
new and exciting. The hardscrabble hill farms        me, helped cause the change that I now
of the old days were still here. Most were           lament.
barely holding their own against the eco-               When my teaching at Goddard ended, I
nomic reality of a farming industry that was         started a photography business in Montpelier.
going large-scale and high-tech.                     The service that I offered was custom pro-
   I was living in an abandoned farmhouse in         cessing and printing. I worked for clients who
Woodbury right down the road from the An-            wanted high quality, mainly black-and-white,
drews Farm, a still struggling but surviving hill    prints of their work. I also offered a range of
farm. My neighbors were people who had               photography services such as weddings, copy
worked the land for generations. Self-reliant,       work, portfolios and portraits. My emphasis
independent and hardworking. Politically Re-         was quality not speed. I drew my inspiration
publican. They were seemingly at odds with           from a photographic tradition that included
my new age liberalism, but with a conser-            such artists as Edward Weston, Paul Strand
vatism so deep it was strangely almost pro-          and Ansel Adams. I took pride in the crafts-
gressive in its philosophy.                          manship of my work.
   I felt that by coming to Vermont, I had fi-          Even back then, photography was chang-
nally broken through the artificiality of the        ing, but very slowly. The space program with
world that I had grown up in and at last found       its use of digital imaging to create picture that
a place that was real and alive. Grounded and        could be transmitted, led the way. Later, there
real. Where your life and your work were one         were commercial applications and over time
and the same. I painted houses. Drove a              these changes amounted to a technological
school bus. Cut my own firewood. Worked as           watershed. Soon the world of digital image-
a carpenter. There was an almost frontier qual-      making was upon us.
ity to living here. It was as if we were all en-        At first, I had a natural curiosity about the
gaged in a struggle against the untamed wild-        coming changes. I learned to use PhotoShop          (the industry’s standard for digital processing.)   them? Will they be retrievable in five to 10
                                                                                                         But I quickly became disenchanted with the          years as technology and equipment continue
                                                                                                         sameness, the blandness, of the images I cre-       to turn over and evolve? Will any of it matter –
                                                                                                         ated. But change was coming with a force that       and will we see the emergence of photo-
                                                                                                         was impossible to resist. I was surprised how       graphic masters of the likes of Ansel Adams,
                                                                                                         quickly I was being pressured to adapt my           Paul Strand and Henri Cartier-Bresson?
                                                                                                         business to these changes.                             I struggled with these issues for a number of
                                                                                                            There was a gradual drop-off in the demand       years and gradually saw the impossibility of
                                                                                                         for my custom services. Clients who used to         what I was doing. Two months ago, while dri-
                                                                                                         rely on me for copy work were soon scanning         ving into work, I decided to close my studio in
                                                                                                         their images themselves into a digital file with    Montpelier. It was almost exactly 30 years
                                                                                                         no need for my processing and printing.             from when I first opened. I decided to move
                                                                                                         Though I felt there was a lowering of stan-         my workspace back to my home in East Mont-
                                                                                                         dards, most of my clients felt the prints they      pelier. I will still offer my services to the peo-
                                                                                                         produced were adequate for their needs.             ple who want them, though the scale of my
                                                                                                         More and more customers asked for digital           operation has been somewhat reduced.
                                                                                                         files of the work that I was producing for             As I compare what happened to the Ver-
                                                                                                         them. There was a diminished demand for my          mont family hill farm to what has just hap-
                                                                                                         custom processing.                                  pened to me, I see some irony. The hill farms
                                                                                                            Finally I had to face the reality of this new    went out because technology changed. My
                                                                                                         world. Though I adapted to these changes to         business has suffered a similar fate.
                                                                                                         some extent by working on a computer to                The effects of the digital revolution are not
                                                                                                         process images – these techniques had no            just limited to photography. In the move,
                                                                                                         charm for me. I was dealing with abstractions       music and print material industries, people I
                                                                                                         on a screen. This left me cold. It all started to   know in this community are all struggling to
                                                                                                         seem like a dumbing down of the quality and         adapt and to survive. You don’t have to look
                                                                                                         feel of the work.                                   any further than downtown Montpelier to see
                                                                                                            Though I admire the quickness and ease of        this happening. It remains to be seen whether
                                                                                                         the new digital technology, I have serious          these changes are for the better or not.
                                                                                                         reservations as to its use as a form of artistic       Andrew Kline owned and operated After-
                                                                                                         expression. The ease at which it produces           Image Photography in Montpelier from 1978
                                                                                                         new images is both a strength and a weakness.       until 2009. He continues to offer high quality
                                                                                                         The sheer number of new images is devaluing         film processing, copy work, weddings and
                                                                                                         image-making itself. What happens to these          portraits from his new location in East Mont-
                                                                                                         images? Can we find them if we need to find         pelier. He can be contacted at 229-4924.
PAGE 28 • OCTOBER 15, 2009                                                            THE BRIDGE




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