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Members of the Training For Warriors fitness program from The Edge Fitness in Essex competed in the Spartan Sprint this weekend in Killington. Pictured clockwise from left to right: Arik Mortenson, Dustin Berry, Darren Duquette, Geoff Greene, Haley Duquette, Haley Duquette, Kim Lundberg, Renee Yagoda, Josh Hamel, Phebe Mott, Michael Lizotte, Misty Curtis, Kathleen Pulling, and Michael McCaffrey.  Michael works for the Essex Reporter and Colchester Sun. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

Members of the Training For Warriors fitness program from The Edge Fitness in Essex competed in the Spartan Sprint this weekend in Killington. Pictured clockwise from left to right: Arik Mortenson, Dustin Berry, Darren Duquette, Geoff Greene, Haley Duquette, Haley Duquette, Kim Lundberg, Renee Yagoda, Josh Hamel, Phebe Mott, Michael Lizotte, Misty Curtis, Kathleen Pulling, and Michael McCaffrey. Michael works for the Essex Reporter and Colchester Sun.
PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

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Essex student collects bikes and sewing machines for international self-help projects

Aneta, a teacher in Grozesti, Moldova. She has set up a sewing workshop with donated machines, in hopes of providing local jobs that will keep her young women students from seeking jobs in Italy and Romania.  PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

Aneta, a teacher in Grozesti, Moldova. She has set up a sewing workshop with donated machines, in hopes of providing local jobs that will keep her young women students from seeking jobs in Italy and Romania.
PHOTO CONTRIBUTED

Laura Sturm, a senior at Essex High School, is helping to organize a collection of used bicycles and sewing machines on Saturday at the Champlain Exposition in Essex Junction. The donated items will help people in developing countries work their way out of poverty. Since 1999, “Pedals for Progress” has shipped more than 3,000 bikes and 50 sewing machines from Vermont to projects in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Uganda, Moldova and Vietnam.

Sturm is part of Ripple, a local ecumenical youth ministry, which has joined forces with several former Peace Corps volunteers to arrange the annual collection of used bikes and sewing machines. The group requests $10 with each item donated to help cover shipping expenses.

“There are hundreds of old bikes and sewing machines in this community that are just collecting dust,” said Sturm. “When you donate these items, plus $10 toward shipping, they are transformed into a lifeline for someone who is struggling just to survive. Bikes are environmentally sustainable transportation to get to a job or to school; sewing machines allow someone to learn skills and start a small business. It is just amazing how people’s lives are changed by this simple technology.”

Teens in Ripple were particularly moved to learn about how donated sewing machines are being used in Moldova, a country in Eastern Europe. Jobs are scarce in Moldova, and many young women seek work in Romania or Italy. Unfortunately, they often end up as victims of human trafficking networks. A local teacher has launched a sewing workshop to provide skills and employment for these vulnerable young women. The group will accept any bike that can be repaired, even if the tires are flat, the seat is torn, or the chain is slipped.

“The only thing we can’t handle is a broken frame or deep rust,” explained Sturm. “Anything else can be fixed, and these bikes will be on the road for the next 20 years, helping families in need put food on the table.”

Sewing machines should be in working condition, and can be portable or table models. The collection will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 27. For more information, or to volunteer, call Joanne Heidkamp at 802-238-5414 or visit the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/p4pVermont.

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Vermont’s top 10 Public Accounting Professionals

The National Academy of Public Accounting Professionals (NAPAP) has named its 2014 “Top 10 Public Accounting Professionals” for Vermont. The award winners include: Jerry Bowin of McSoley McCoy in South Burlington, Renee Bourget-Place of KPMG in Colchester, John Davis of Davis & Hodgdon Associates in Williston, James Donohue of Gallagher Flynn & Co. in South Burlington, Christopher Goulette of A.M. Peisch & Co. in Saint Albans, Marcia Merrill of Montgomery Merrill in Burlington, John Meyer of Pieciak & Co. in Brattleboro, Jeffrey Morin of JMM & Associates in Colchester, George Philibert of GHP Avisors in Burlington, Todd Wimette of Wisehart Wimette & Associates in Essex Junction

“We are very pleased to recognize this distinguished group of public accounting professionals, whose commitment to the profession and mastery of their craft have earned them this significant and prestigious honor,” said Paul Witte, Executive Director of NAPAP.

A primary charter of the National Academy of Public Accounting Professionals is to recognize and distinguish the Top 10 Public Accounting Professionals in each state. The accountants who make the NAPAP “TOP 10″ list demonstrate an extensive amount of knowledge, skill, experience and success in the field of accounting. To achieve this award, the accountants must first be nominated by industry peers or satisfied clients. The nominees are reviewed by the NAPAP research committee, which evaluates each nominee’s credentials against the award criteria, and compiles a list of finalists from which the NAPAP Board of Governors selects the Top 10. Selection criteria include education, years of experience, areas of expertise, certifications, publications, awards, leadership and client satisfaction.