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Jim Kenyon

Jim Kenyon: Hanover’s Basement Bargain

Selectboards and town managers across the Upper Valley seem infatuated with user fees. Want your preschooler to play rec T-ball? Want access to your town’s transfer station? Chances are you’ll pay a user fee. Which for my money is just a hidden tax — a game that town officials play to put an artificial lid on property tax bills, so the public doesn’t get any more riled up than it already is about what it really costs to run local municipalities and schools. Instead of

Jim Kenyon: Dartmouth Gone Wild

Does any doubt remain that Dartmouth is an institution in trouble? And not just because of this year’s double-digit percentage drop in applications. Testimony given by students during the nine-day Grafton Superior Court rape trial that ended last week with a not guilty verdict provided a window into the work hard, play hard ethos that has come to define the college. The view wasn’t flattering. While a lot of colleges are struggling to get students to drink less and more responsibly, the party scene at

Jim Kenyon: Open Door Policy at Dartmouth Dorm Rooms

With their radiant heated floors, copper roofs and furniture made from trees cut in the college’s own forests, the six brick buildings that make up the McLaughlin Residential Cluster are just one more reason why Dartmouth can get away with charging $60,000 a year. The half dozen residence halls (to call them dorms wouldn’t do them justice) that opened in 2006 on the north end of campus came with a construction price tag of $41.4 million. I wonder if Dartmouth wishes it had spent a

Jim Kenyon: The Co-op’s ‘More Happy Staff’ Campaign

Happy. Happy. Happy. The 400 employees of the Co-op Food Stores are well on their way to becoming just one big happy family. At least that’s what the management of the Hanover-based Consumer Cooperative Society, which operates four grocery stores and a gas station in the Upper Valley, wants its customers to believe. In fact, there’s even a “More Happy Staff” campaign, which, from all the happy talk I heard at last Wednesday’s Co-op governing board meeting, is supposed to have a domino effect. It

Jim Kenyon: Working to Speak Up

A dozen or so employees of a large, well-known Upper Valley retailer got together on their own time Saturday to share with each other their frustrations about working for an enterprise where bosses use bullying tactics to keep workers in line and “people are afraid of losing their jobs if they speak up.” Any guesses on which Upper Valley business this might be? A clue: It’s not Wal-Mart. I’m talking about the Co-op Food Stores, operated by the Hanover-based Consumer Cooperative Society. Yes, as hard

Jim Kenyon: With New MRAP, Vermont Troopers Can Be Road Warriors

The Vermont State Police, which more and more resembles a military organization, has now acquired the ultimate big-boy toy: An “armored tactical vehicle” that weighs about 40,000 pounds, stands 10 feet tall and is capable of deflecting roadside bombs. Last I knew, there weren’t any of those along Interstate 89, but it’s too bad the Tunbridge World’s Fair dropped its demolition derby. This metallic beast, which state police plan to house at the National Guard Armory in Windsor, would be unstoppable. How did the state

Jim Kenyon: A Question Of Value for Mascoma

While taking the pulse — as we say in the news gathering business — of the community about the proposal to renovate Mascoma Valley Regional High School, I stopped by the Listen Thrift Shop in West Canaan on Tuesday. I figured folks who shop and work at a store that sells used goods might have something to say about getting the most for your buck while sticking to a budget. “There needs to be improvements to the school, but I don’t know if people can

Jim Kenyon: Snow Shoveling as Civic Duty

Equipped with his own broom and a 10-pound bag of rock salt, artist Jeffrey Simpson cleared the dusting of fresh snow from the town sidewalk outside his home and shop in Woodstock on Wednesday morning. Now that’s what I call citizen engagement. But making the 60-foot stretch of sidewalk in front of his property safe for pedestrians last week, Simpson was doing more than performing a good deed. In the village of Woodstock, which covers the downtown shopping area and surrounding residential neighborhoods, it’s the

Jim Kenyon: Time to End Town Report Shaming Over Delinquent Taxes

Did you know there were two home births in Norwich last year? Or that when school started last fall, Pomfret had only four first-graders? And in Thetford, the town issued as many building permits — 18 — for decks and porches in 2013 as in the previous two years combined? The annual town reports that come out this time of year in Vermont are chock-full of such tidbits. But towns should turn the page on one piece of information that some of them insist on

Jim Kenyon: The Rock of Pomfret

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say Hazel Harrington is Pomfret’s most trusted public servant. With a steady hand and poker face, she has, at one time or another during the last 40 years, collected the property taxes, recorded mortgage deeds and issued marriage licenses. She was even given the task for a while of “checking in” deer that hunters shot in town. As always, she did what was asked — although I suspect she didn’t much mind when the state made keeping track