Author: Colin Flanders

School district faces wrongful termination suit

A new lawsuit claims the Essex Westford School District discriminated against a longtime school custodian, who was handicapped with a work-related injury, by misguiding her into accepting a layoff. Kim Mitchell alleges the district refused to accommodate her work placement requests that would have allowed her to avoid further aggravating a previous injury sustained on the job. The district later advised Mitchell has better chance of receiving unemployment benefits if she resigned with “dignity,” according to a complaint filed in Chittenden Superior Court on August 23, which names EWSD but notes Mitchell worked for one of the unified district’s...

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Selectboard to consider shooting ranges in firearms ordinance discussions

The selectboard has decided to lump shooting ranges into its ongoing discussion about the town’s firearm discharge ordinance with the goal of passing any changes in one sweep. The addition comes in response to repeated citizen concerns over backyard shooting ranges, which some say pose a greater noise nuisance and safety threat than hunting. Before taking on the new topic, however, the board will finalize the plan for three town-owned parcels: Indian Brook Park, Saxon Hill Forest and the Essex Tree Farm. Members examined the first two during an August work session, while town staff suggested they also include...

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Town passes on hearing for Backstage Pub

By COLIN FLANDERS With additional reporting by MIKE DONOGHUE The selectboard won’t hold a liquor hearing for Backstage and Pub Restaurant because town officials believe the state’s weeklong license suspension sufficed as punishment for its owner being drunk on the job. Following recommendations from the police department and town manager’s office, selectboard members agreed to forgo a local hearing after initially postponing a decision until the state resolved its case. Deputy town manager Greg Duggan said there have been no reported incidents at Backstage since May, and town officials feel confident the state’s punishment is sufficient. “We’ll certainly continue to...

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Infrastructure issues present challenge for town center plan

Town officials are working to address several issues that could potentially impede growth in the Essex Town Center after a letter from the public works department raised concerns with the first draft of the area’s new master plan. In a letter to the planning commission, public works director Dennis Lutz and his staff say the ETC Next proposal recommends growth without answering how the town could handle the inherent infrastructure demands. The department highlights four areas of “significant concern.” One – a change in the plan that would have forced the town to accept large portions of Route 15...

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West Nile virus detected in Essex

Mosquitos found in two different locations around Essex have tested positive for West Nile Virus, the Vt. Health Department announced last week. The test marks the second time in less than two months that mosquitos carrying the virus were found in town; Essex’s first positive test was reported in early August. Though there have been no reports of human cases in Vermont so far this year, health officials learned last week a horse in Windham County had tested positive for the virus, according to a news release. “Animal cases like this are cause for concern because it means mosquitoes...

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