Greensboro Deals with COVID, but Town Life Goes On

courtesy photo | In Greensboro, Caspian Lake’s purity is the result of the geography of the area, according to Danielle Owczarski, Lamoille River Watershed planner.

GREENSBORO – The first January story followed up a late December event: a team from CVS Pharmacy provided the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to residents at the Greensboro Nursing Home (GNH) on December 30. The second dose was scheduled for Wednesday, January 20. Administrator Brian Labelle said that “no serious reactions of any kind have occurred as a result of the vaccinations. One hundred percent of our residents received the first round of the vaccine.”

photo by Vanessa Fournier | Karl Stein of the Greensboro/Stannard Emergency Response Team updates the data on this informational COVID 19 sign every two weeks. The statistics are for Orleans County (which includes 17 towns). The sign is located across from Willey’s Store on the Green in Greensboro.

The Greensboro Association’s Community Relief Fund has awarded seven pandemic-related emergency grants totaling $8,750 for the first quarter of 2021, according to the Greensboro Association Relief Fund Committee. Recipients of the grants were the Craftsbury Community Care Center, Hardwick Area Food Pantry, Four Seasons of Early Learning, Greensboro Nursing Home, Craftsbury Saplings, Greensboro Free Library and Wonder Arts.

Loui Pulver of Walden orders take out from the Cafe Saturday during an opening reception for the Open Air Gallery Ski & Snowshoe Trail at the Highland Center for the Arts in Greensboro. The Cafe is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. for warm drinks and light lunch fare. There is no charge to ski and snowshoe along the 1.8-mile trail to view the works of art.

In February, three petitions and the policing contract with the Hardwick Police Department were central discussions at the town’s informational meeting via Zoom. A second informational meeting was also held. The informational meetings were scheduled prior to the town meeting on March 2, which was held by Australian ballot. The meetings were scheduled to give voters the opportunity to ask questions, seek clarifications and air views.

Reconfiguring how budget information is relayed to voters without creating confusion has presented a challenge for select boards as towns opted to put in-person town meetings on hold in lieu of voting by Australian ballot. The process led to lengthy ballots with masses of numbers, which were confusing for some voters who may have been used to traditional budget presentations. The Greensboro town budget, draft warning, and notes about the draft Australian ballot were posted on the town’s website. The budget of $1,954,845 was a decrease from last year of $66,116, a drop of 3.3%. 

In March, the Greensboro Nursing Home did not have any confirmed cases of COVID-19, and no presumptive cases of COVID-19, within a 72-hour period. At the nursing home, 91% of residents received the full course of the Pfizer vaccination for COVID-19 and 90% of the staff were also fully vaccinated.

Voters approved all but two articles at the annual town meeting on March 2. Town Clerk Kim Greaves reported 268 people cast votes by Australian ballot – approximately 100 more than the number of voters that typically participate in town meeting. Polls closed at 7 p.m. and an electronic tabulating machine enabled votes to be counted by 9 p.m.

The Town of Greensboro won a grant in 2020 to study the feasibility of installing a wastewater treatment system. The engineering firm Hoyle and Tanner was selected to conduct the study. Work on the first phase of the work began in early December and an interim report was submitted to the town in March. The first phase of work involved evaluating three town districts to determine which area was most suitable for a wastewater treatment system. The districts studied were the village (adjacent to Caspian Lake), Caspian Lake (residents located near the lakes shore), and The Bend village.

After deliberating an hour in executive session last week, the select board voted to sign a one-year contract with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department for police services. The contract bagan July 1, 2021 and will cost the town $190,000.The contract with the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department for policing services replaces a service that has been provided by the Hardwick Police Department (HPD) for over 15 years. Contracts negotiated with the HPD were for a three-year term, and the old contract expired on June 30, 2021, at midnight.

In April, Jared Nunery, the Orleans County forester, met up with Greensboro property owner John Stone III. What started as a routine forest management plan inspection soon turned into a sensational finding: the largest Eastern White Pine in the state of Vermont, just steps from Stone’s back door. Nunery was excited by this find, in part because of the size, but also due to the tree’s story. “One of the terms that we call them as foresters is legacy trees. They [can be] biological legacies of past land use, sometimes [indicating] a disturbance.”

In May, Sarah Hunt, 43, a local bartender, found Green Up Day to be great for teaching her kids to care for the environment.

“I live here, and I walk around here all the time,” Hunt said. “To walk around and see trash is really gross. And I want to teach my kids that throwing things on the ground is not okay.”

The Development Review Board (DRB) granted the Highland Center of the Arts (HCA) a temporary reprieve from Condition #5 of its Conditional Use Permit. Condition #5, which prohibited outdoor sound amplification at the arts center, was a restriction imposed in 2014 when HCA’s permit was granted.

Also in May, Mackenna Lapierre, Greensboro Free Library’s (GFL) assistant librarian, filled a bright green box with purple, green, and red canvas bags, each holding a book from another library in Vermont.

A courier from Priority Express picked up the GFL books and delivered another green box full of incoming inter-library loans. While GFL has offered inter-library loans for a long time, the library gained its own stop on the state’s courier system last year 

In June, in a soggy Sunday ceremony, the former Greensboro High School bell was moved from its spot near the Greensboro Town Hall to Hazen Union school. The event was a celebration of both the school and Hazen Union student Finn Rooney, who passed in January 2020. Finn was the driving force behind Hazen Union getting its own bell.

Greensboro was awarded a grant from the Agency of Community and Commercial Development to prepare a master plan. The Bend Master Plan seeks to develop an economic revitalization roadmap for Greensboro Bend, centered around future improvements to the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. Linear park designs, improved streetscapes, recreational resources, and economic development opportunities for the Greensboro Bend village were to be developed through open, public planning processes.

On June 16, Greensboro brothers Philip and Clive Gray signed an agreement giving the Greensboro Land Trust (GLT) a conservation easement on 79 acres atop Baker Hill. Signing for GLT was its vice-chair, John Cannon.

On July 21, over 50 people joined the Greensboro Historical Society (GHS) to dedicate the sign commemorating the starting point of Hinman Settler Road in Greensboro and Timothy Hinman, the man who built it. The road, carved through the wilderness in 1792 and 1793, runs north, linking the town and the Bayley-Hazen Road with areas of northern Vermont, and it opened them up for settlement.

The Greensboro Historical Society and the Greensboro Free Library presented summer history walks in Greensboro Bend and Greensboro Villages. The self-guided history explorer walks, inspired by COVID restrictions, were popular last year and were updated and expanded for the summer.

Greensboro ice cream shop Cassie’s Corner re-opened after closing a year and a half ago. The shop is on Beach Road, right before Caspian Lake Beach and is named after Caspian Lake’s ice-cream-loving lake creature. The store’s former owner, Jerry Brown, passed away in 2019, and the manager retired. Brown’s granddaughters Alex and Beatrice Lintner brought the shop back to life.

In August, the COVID situation in Vermont was deteriorating. Meanwhile, the FDA has fully approved the Pfizer vaccine for those 16 and up, with approval for ages 12 and up pending. Children under 12 did not have the option to get vaccinated yet.

The Greensboro Planning Commission published the text for two proposed municipal bylaw amendments. Of the two proposed amendments, the one drawing the most attention sought to make the area between Lake Eligo and Town Highway 23 a “Resource District.” This designation would mean that the area is no longer classified as a “Rural Lands” zone, where development is limited to 10-acre minimum pieces, and plots are instead limited to a 25-acre minimum.

Emma Rowell of the Caspian Critters 4-H Club of Greensboro was asked to create a mural for the 2021 Fair in the swine/poultry barn at the Champlain Valley Exposition. Before the fair opened, she sketched a design on the wall of the building and asked her fellow club members to join her in painting it. Each day at the fair an award was given to one person or group that goes “above and beyond” in their participation, and at the close of the fair on September 12, the fair director presented the “Star of the Day” award to the Caspian Critters club, with Rowell as the leader, on stage in front of an audience. The club won another award at the Orleans County Fair for going above and beyond to help others while at the fair.

The club members focus on cows and chickens, but they also tend to many other animals at home, including sheep, pigs, birds, horses and rabbits. They have traveled this year with their cows and chickens to local county fairs in Caledonia, Lamoille, and most recently the Orleans County Fair, where they also have their crafts on display in the floral hall. They also attended the Eastern States Exposition in Springfield, Mass., (the Big E), where they gave demonstrations on how to make mozzarella cheese and butter.

On Thursday, October 14, representatives of various conservation organizations throughout the Lamoille River basin met to discuss the Lamoille River watershed’s tactical basin plan. The plan, updated every five years, looks at the goings-on of a specific watershed from multiple perspectives, from aquatic life to phosphorous levels, as well as proposed solutions to present or future issues

In November, the Vermont Supreme Court weighed in on a proposed change to a longstanding structure on Caspian Lake that has worked its way through the Development Review Board (DRB) and the Environmental Division of the Vermont judiciary. In 2018, property owners Marian Wright and Greg Boester went before the DRB asking to add a third level to their shoreline property. The DRB approved the reconstruction of the property, but rejected the third-floor addition because it increased the building’s height. The board’s rationale was, in part, that the structure should be considered a “boat house” and not an “accessory building,” which limited the building’s height under Greensboro’s zoning rules. The Supreme Court did not allow the height of the building to be increased.

A dispute at the Hardwick Convenience and Deli (formerly the Kwik-Stop) forty-eight-year-old Darryl Johnson of Greensboro intervened in a dispute between a store clerk and twenty-seven-year-old Robert Chaplin of East Hardwick. Chaplin later drove to Johnson’s property, where a confrontation culminated in the fatal shooting, according to the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) and Vermont State Police (VSP). 

In December, the Town of Greensboro and the Highland Center for the Arts (HCA) built an ice skating rink on the HCA’s grounds.