The Islander, Oct. 8, 2019

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Islandacres Farm Ending Dairy Operation after 90 Years By KATHLEEN SWANSON Islander Contributor SOUTH HERO - Since 1929, the Robinson family has operated a dairy…
Islandacres Farm Ending Dairy Operation after 90 Years By KATHLEEN SWANSON Islander Contributor SOUTH HERO - Since 1929, the Robinson family has operated a dairy farm on U.S. Route 2 in the village of South Hero. By the end of the day on Tuesday there will be no milking cows left at Islandacres Farm. Steve and Kelly Robinson - who have owned the 182-acre farm since 2008 - are auctioning off their 137 head of cattle on Tuesday. “The last five years have been tough,” said Steve, 57, who began running a tractor when he was six years old working for his father, Hank Robinson. “We ba- sically lose money on the milk when you factor in what we get for every hundred weight.” When his father, Hank, took over the farm from his father in 1959 there were 23 dairy farms in South Hero. Today there will be three. “At some point dairy might come back, but the liquid milk wholesale market is so manipulated it’s hard to know,” said Steve. “It’s like fixing a junk car. At some point you need to buy a new car.” The decision became more clear when they faced the fact that they have an old-style barn, where they use a stanchion, tie stall milking system rather than a milking parlor. With aging farm tractors and other equipment, the Robinsons made the call late this summer. “We’ve been running this operation with two people, when we really need six,” said Steve, who has been married to Kelly for 34 years. Steve and Kelly’s son, Patrick, 32, has worked in the barn since eighth grade and is a pivotal partner in the farm operation. The property will remain in agriculture and not subdivided since the farm was conserved in 2008 through the Vermont Land Trust, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and locally with South Hero Land Trust. Auctioning off the cows is not easy, however. Basically, every cow is a descen- dant of the herd that his father, Hank, bought in 1959. That is 10 generations of one herd. The cows are Holstein and Jersey mix. “They are happy and healthy cows,” said Steve, who has won 38 consecutive awards for quality production. Once the cows are gone the Robinsons will firm plans for other agricultural enterprises. See “ISLANDACRES” page 5 The Islander October 8 - October 14, 2019 1 Harvest Fest Four indoor markets – two in November and two in December – are scheduled in the basement Saturday Closes of the Congregational Church on South Street in South Hero, Walcott said. The market each year promotes the agriculture, Annual Outdoor prepared foods and craft vendors in the Cham- plain Islands. Farmers’ Market “We have a goal of food security in the islands,” Walcott explained. By MIKE DONOGHUE Islander Staff Writer Rise Vermont from the Northwestern Vermont SOUTH HERO -- The Harvest Fest for the Cham- Medical Center will be at the Harvest Fest to en- plain Islands Farmers’ Market will feature food, courage physical activity. crafts, music, games and much more on Saturday People buying pumpkins at the Harvest Fest Oct. 12. also will have a chance to go to a special tent for The Harvest Fest is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. pumpkin painting, Walcott said. Supplies and Rose of Lima Catholic Church on U.S. 2 with about paint will be provided. Grand Isle Farm two dozen of the regular market vendors, includ- ing farmers and artisans bringing their best crafts, tasty foods and more. Back by popular demand is the musical group Fertile Soil from Burlington, which will play from Bureau Annual 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There also will be a wide range of games for Meeting and Dinner people of all ages, according to Cindy Walcott, the By Sara Griswold, GIFB President market chair. ISLE LA MOTTE - The Grand Isle Farm Bu- “There is something for everyone,” she said. reau (GIFB) will hold their annual meeting at Parking will be available behind the church Happy Bird Poultry Farm on Saturday, Oct. 19 with marked spaces, Walcott said at 6 p.m. All are welcome. Dinner will be served The Harvest Fest, which is sponsored by Com- followed by a short meeting. The event is BYOB. munity Bank in South Hero, is all part of a long list GIFB is looking to expand their membership so of events in the islands as part of upcoming Co- come and enjoy the evening and consider join- lumbus Day Weekend. ing our organization. The meal is free to GIFB It also marks the final outdoor edition of the members and those who sign up at the meeting. summer and fall market as the national holiday The cost for non-members is $25. Dress warm! means some of the more popular tourist spots are Please RVSP by Sunday, Oct. 13 to winding down. Location: 568 Main St. 2 The Islander October 8 - October 14, 2019 Grand Isle County Courthouse Gets State Grant for Restoration By MIKE DONOGHUE Islander Staff Writer NORTH HERO – It will soon be easier to open, close and look through the windows of the historic Grand Isle County Courthouse thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Vermont legislature. The grant is designed primarily to help restore all the windows in the two-story stone courthouse built in 1824. Some preservation work also is planned on the cupola. State Sen. Dick Mazza, D-Colchester/Grand Isle made sure the restoration funds were in the annual state budget for 2019-20, according to Grand Isle County Assistant Judges Joanne Batchelder and Sherri Potvin. The courthouse also needs work on the roof and paint for the cupola, Potvin and Batchelder said. The windows just can’t be replaced, but have to be refurbished, Batchelder explained. Only a handful of companies do the specific work, Batchelder said. “It takes a special person to do it,” she told The Islander. John B. Kneen Potvin said five companies have toured the courthouse to consider possibly doing the restoration on the windows, which have historic mechanisms with wire for opening and closing. There was some thought to start part of •Smoke Alarms •Renovations the restoration this fall, but the judges may wait •CO Alarms •New Construction for the spring for the full •Fully Insured •30 Yrs Experience project. 802-238-4802 • Grand Isle The window project also includes the house at- tached to the courthouse. Earlier this year it became the office of the Grand Isle County State’s Attorney after the Sheriff’s Depart- ment moved to Grand Isle. The county is restrict- ed on how the window work can be completed, according to Batchelder. The Vermont Historic Preservation office has been providing guidance, Potvin said. Just buying new windows would not work partly because of possible settling of the building. The building is the oldest continuously used courthouse in Vermont and overlooks Lake Champlain. The stone building became the first North Hero structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places when added in 1996. Grand Isle County has 10 sites on the national register. Batchelder and Potvin said the assistant judges are always trying to get grants written to reduce the finan- cial impact on taxpayers. Vermont’s senior senator has been a big help. “Dick Mazza really cares about the islands,” Batchelder said about him fighting for the $50,000. “The courthouse in the Islands is very special. It is one of their identities,” said Mazza, a longtime Colches- ter businessman. He said Grand Isle County often has to share services with Franklin or Chittenden Counties, but the court- house has faithfully served the five towns in the Champlain Islands. “There is a trend to try to close some of these courthouses. It won’t happen under my watch,” Mazza told The Islander on Friday. He said ensuing local legal proceedings in the Champlain Islands is important for residents in the county. Mazza said one of his former colleagues in the legislature, Sen. George Costes, used to talk fondly about taking a boat from St. Albans to Grand Isle to be in court. Costes, a longtime lawyer and trial judge, still lives in retirement in Franklin County. Mazza said a couple additions to the courthouse have been made throughout the years and the facility has been modernized to allow it to properly function. “It is a special place,” he said. The Islander October 8 - October 14, 2019 3 Upgrades Continue at Island Beverage By MIKE DONOGHUE Islander Staff Writer SOUTH HERO -- The renovation of the Island Beverage store is expect- ed to continue for at least another week, according to co-owner Tim Cota. Friday, Oct. 11 The gasoline tanks and pumps, which were Sooner or Later Band used to provide Mobil 8 p.m. to Midnight gasoline until a contract recently expired, have been removed and are being replaced. Saturday, Oct. 19 Cota has said the business is considering Auxiliary Dinner three brands of fuel and Island Beverage plans to re-open Wednesday, Oct. 16. 4-7 pm , more details on Sunday he reported a final decision on the type is likely this week. coming. The plan is to re-open the convenience store Wednesday Oct. 16, but the fuel will not be available for several more days, Cota said. He said business decisions also are still being made about potential changes to the store and the snack bar on the corner of U.S. 2 and Vermont 314 in South Hero. Check The Islander Facebook page for the latest updates in the coming week. Island Beverage opted for its own renovation when purchase attempts by developer R. L. ‘‘Skip” Vallee of Maplefields fell through. Cota, who owns Island Beverage with his wife Kelly, has said he had reached agreement last year with Vallee on a price to sell the store, but when the offer was put into writing the deal soured. Vallee’s lawyer reduced the proposed agreement into a 45-page contract, Cota said. He said his lawyer told him not to sign it and proposed changes. A second contract offered by Vallee wasn’t much better. Cota said he proposed a two-page contract with an agreement that neither party could sue the other. That ended the talks and Vallee went to Cota’s neighbor – McKee’s Pub -- to strike a deal, he said. Vallee has said he wants to lease a proposed 2,000 square foot Maplefields Convenience Store on the back side of the pub next to Island Beverage. The Maplefields also would have fuel pumps on the 4.7 acre lot, which is owned by McKee’s Enterprises. The new store received a cool reception at a public hearing by the South Hero Development Review Board. The biggest concern by board members and the pubic was the expected increased traffic congestion at the off-center intersection. Besides Island Beverage, Keeler Bay Variety is a stone’s throw away on U.S. 2 and also sells gasoline. The Maplefields hearing has been recessed until 7 p.m. Nov. 13. It is tenta- tively planned for the Worthen Public Library. Since 1998, Vallee has created a chain of almost four dozen Maplefields, mostly in Vermont. A Haunted Slay Ride Comes to Grand Isle By Jeffrey Folb, Vermont Gatherings GRAND ISLE - Climb aboard: But remember to keep your arms and legs inside at all times, you would not want to lose them! The Vermont Haunted Slay Ride will be held for two weekends at Breakaway Farms in Grand Isle. On Oct. 18, 19 and 20 and 25, 26 and 27, the fields of Breakaway Farm will be overtaken by ghosts, ghouls, undead, spirits and more for six nights of (frighteningly) fun times for adults and teens ages 14 and up. Hop on this haunted hayride, ahem, we mean slay ride, and brave your way through ghastly ghosts, grim ghouls and gruesome goblins. This inaugural Haunt- ed Slay Ride features a sit down ‘slay’ ride, food and beverage, live entertainment in our village along with tarot card readers and vendors each night from 6:30 p.m. till midnight (10 p.m. on Sundays). The Haunted Slay Ride is produced by Wolfgaard Productions, LLC in partner- ship with Breakaway Farms Enterprises LLC. Come have a ghoulishly good time and be prepared to be scared. Space for this event is limited, advance reservations are highly recommended: Purchase tickets online at A limited number of tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis each day. Updates can be found on Facebook: events/414173752528002/ Location: 16 US Route 2 4 The Islander October 8 - October 14, 2019 ISLANDACRES St. Anne's Shrine Continued from page 1 The Annual Harvest Dinner is Because the property Sunday, October 13 has many acres of prime soils and is centrally lo- Noon until 3 PM, following the last 10:30 cated to population and Mass of the pilgrimage season. distribution centers, the Thanksgiving style meal of turkey and all the Robinsons say they have trimmings, plus apple or pumpkin pie. many agricultural options to explore. Cost (US): $11 adults, $6 children 12 & under, Kelly, 53, will contin- Families with 2 adults and 4 or more children $40. ue to work at her job of Cost (Canadian): $14 adults, $9 children 12 & under. 20 years as the meal site No reservations needed. Rain or shine. director run by CIDER, 92 Saint Anne’s Road, Isle La Motte, VT 05463 while running all the busi- ness aspects of running a family farm. For Patrick, since the sign for selling cows went up in front of the farm, he has received 25 job offers. He said he has accepted a Steve and Kelly Robinson married 34 years. job with a local building contractor, but will continue working with his parents on other agriculture ventures. As for Steve – the man who has not had a Christ- mas Day off since 1983 – he plans on opening pres- ents with the rest of the family on December 25. Little Bit   of Everything GOOD SELECTION OF USED FURNITURE! Gun Cabinet.........................$69 Bureaus.......................... $25 & Up Complete Twin Bed..............$99 Corner Hutch.......................$59 ANTIQUE FURNITURE Steve and Patrick Robinson doing chores during their last week of milking. 8 Vantine Ave., Alburgh, VT 802-796-4027  Patrick and brother Anthony Robinson with calves in 1994. Sunrise at Islandacres. 49th Annual Green Mountain Marathon By Jessica Bolduc SOUTH HERO - Green Mountain Athletic Association is hosting the 49th Annual Green Mountain Marathon and Half Marathon, Sunday, Oct. 13. Race start is at 8:30 a.m. on South Street, just South of Folsom School. Day of race registration will be available until 8 a.m. The road will be closed temporarily beginning at approximately 8:20 a.m. to allow the race to start. The course runs along the west shore from South Hero, through Grand Isle to North Hero and back. A portion of race proceeds will be donated to the South Hero Fire Department. More details can be found on If you would like to volunteer (free shirt) or have questions, contact Jessica Bolduc at or 802-338-7247.   Location: Just South of Folsom School, 75 South St. The Islander October 8 - October 14, 2019 5 VTRANS Adds division experts were able to identify additional mea- sures to improve safety in the Colchester work zone,” 11:55 p.m. Sunday Sept. 29 near the Colchester Weigh Station with clear weather and dry roads, Trooper An- Safety Measures Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn of South Hero said. drew Underwood said. Nizomjon Normuratov, 39, of Brooklyn, N.Y. de- After Several Serious “We appreciate the support and input from Ver- mont State Police to work together with a common molished his 2016 Volvo tractor trailer when it collid- ed with a jersey barrier/lane divider which had been I-89 Crashes goal of reducing crashes,” Flynn said. placed between the two northbound lanes during con- The safety audit was conducted by AOT design, struction. No construction was underway at the time, By MIKE DONOGHUE construction, and traffic operations specialists, the Underwood said. Islander Staff Writer agency’s design consultant and the construction con- The crash caused extensive damage to the truck COLCHESTER – After a series of recent major tractor, along with state police. The work follows and to the jersey barriers. motor vehicle crashes on Interstate 89 in Colches- several major crashes near the leading edge of the Crews from VTrans, the State HAZMAT Team ter -- including a fatal truck accident -- the Vermont northbound lane divider, including two accidents and Charlebois Trucking responded to the scene to Agency of Transportation (AOT) has adopted several within about 28 hours. help clean up diesel fuel and provide several road and additional safety improvements in a work zone be- AOT said in a news release the Vermont State Po- sign repairs to help re-open the road. tween Exits 16 and 17. lice continues to remind motorists to obey all post- The adjustments follow a safety audit conducted in conjunction with Vermont State Police last week. ed speed limits and to slow down especially in work zones. Take a Time Out for AOT said the new safety enhancements include: • Additional streetlight towers being added be- Troopers also encourage drivers to leave plenty of stopping distance between your vehicle and the one Turtles: Volunteers hind the guardrail to improve illumination of the bar- rier and the work zone. The angles for the new lights in front. Also it is prudent to always travel at a safe speed Needed are designed to avoid glare for oncoming traffic. for the prevailing conditions, including at night or By John Hall, VT Fish & Wildlife Dept. • Northbound traffic is being restricted to a sin- when there is precipitation, AOT said. They also said NORTH HERO - The annual spiny softshell turtle gle lane in the work zone during overnight hours. The police also want to discourage drivers from operating beach cleanup day is on Saturday, Oct. 26, and Ver- two-lane divided configuration will be in effect only a vehicle when impaired by drugs or alcohol and to mont Fish and Wildlife is looking for volunteers to during the afternoon and evening hours when both avoid all distractions behind the wheel, including cell help. Participants are asked to arrive at North Hero lanes are needed for traffic capacity. This is anticipat- phone use. State Park between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., as the group ed to be about 3 to 7 p.m. The current work zone traffic configuration is may move to another site by 11 a.m. • Blinking lights getting affixed to the traffic scheduled to remain in place for two more weeks. Volunteers barrels for the merging locations approaching the end Robert Jean, 51, of Colchester died when his truck will pull up of the barrier to make it more visible. crashed at the construction zone about 4:10 p.m. Sept. vegetation The work is expected to continue for much of the 5 on I-89 in Colchester, state police said. on nesting rest of the month. Trooper Stephen DiGregorio said Jean was south- beaches to VSP commanders either did not respond to re- bound when his 2016 Ford F-250 truck collided with prepare turtle quests for information or were said to be unavailable a set of concrete traffic barriers. Jean was dead at the nesting sites on Friday. scene. Police said it was unknown if he was wearing for next year. “Safety is always a top priority, and our highway a seat belt. They may also State police also had find a few back-to-back crashes hatchlings about a day apart in- Spiny Softshell Turtles. that occa- volving tractor-trailers sionally remain in nests underground this late in the hitting the jersey barrier year. In addition to threatened spiny softshell turtles, dividers. these nest sites are also used by map turtles, painted During a crash ear- turtles and snapping turtles. ly Tuesday Oct. 1, Bis- Vermont Fish and Wildlife biologist Toni Mikula marck Ampie-Morales, will have hatchling spiny softshell and other turtles 37, of Union City, N.J. on hand and will talk about the long-term turtle re- collided his northbound covery efforts. Some of these hatchling turtles will be 2012 Volvo tractor trail- raised in captivity by the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake er into the cement barri- Champlain while they are small and most vulnerable ers, state police said. to predation. They will be released back into Lake Morales received Champlain next spring. non-life
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