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Jim Kenyon

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

Jim Kenyon: Reservations About Hartland’s School Capital Reserve Fund

In 2003, Hartland residents voted to establish a savings account to pay for future repairs and improvements to the town’s K-8 school. There was just one catch, or safeguard — depending on your point of view. Before any money in the capital reserve fund could be spent, residents required the Hartland School Board to come back to them for approval. Seems reasonable to me. If the board voted to put a hot tub in the teachers lounge, for instance, residents might want a chance to

Jim Kenyon: Closing of Eastman’s Pharmacy Is a Bitter Pill to Swallow

When mega retailer CVS opened a drugstore in Hanover 10 years ago, I figured it was only a matter of time before Eastman’s Pharmacy ran up the white flag. But against overwhelming odds, the small independent pharmacy, a fixture in Hanover’s downtown since the late 1930s, refused to surrender. Owners Mark and Melissa Knight carved out a niche. They offered free home delivery of prescriptions three days a week, with Mark sometimes doing the delivering himself. The couple took advantage of Melissa’s special talents as

Jim Kenyon: Leaving No Child Behind

Last fall, Raelene Lemery took the lead in organizing a chicken biscuit dinner at the United Church of South Royalton to benefit a young family in dire need of a helping hand. Michael Perkins was only 30 years old, but an inoperable brain tumor almost certainly meant his time was limited. Lemery, who runs the church’s Red Door thrift shop, and others wanted to ease the burden on Perkins, his wife, Emily, and their two daughters during what was looking more and more like his

Jim Kenyon: Drone Wherefore in Hanover

I got a hot tip last week that a lithium battery-powered drone equipped with a high definition camera had gone missing while flying over Hanover. My first thought was that it was bad enough that Hanover attached surveillance cameras to the outside of Town Hall a few years ago to monitor the comings and goings of downtown pedestrians. Now do we have to worry that Big Brother is keeping tabs from high above on who’s leaving the Hanover Inn after last call? But then I

Jim Kenyon: A Bad Case of Deja Vu in Lebanon

On the eve of this year’s Super Bowl, seven out-of-towners dropped by American Legion Post 22 in Lebanon, but they didn’t come for a nightcap. They worked for the state agency charged with enforcing New Hampshire’s liquor laws. The seven agents, packin’ sidearms and a search warrant, confiscated $15,320 in cash from Post 22’s safe that the state Liquor Commission claims were “proceeds from illegal gambling.” Legion officials say the state is mistaken. For years, Post 22 has been holding Super Bowl raffles to raise

Jim Kenyon: A Taxing Deadline in Strafford

When Tom Scull arrived at Strafford’s town office at about 5:45 p.m. on Dec. 4, he was surprised to find the door locked and the lights turned off. It was his recollection that Town Clerk and Treasurer Lisa Kendall often stayed open until 6 p.m. on the day that property taxes were due. On Dec. 4, however, Kendall closed at 5:30 to get to the bank that was open until 6. Kendall didn’t want to leave a “pile of cash” in the office overnight. (You’d

Jim Kenyon: A Number of Problems

As someone who is extremely short on recall skills (please don’t ask for my car license plate number), I take great pride in being able to recite my Co-op Food Stores membership number on-demand in the checkout line. After years of practice, I no longer even give it a second thought. “Card number, please,” the cashier asks. I don’t even have to stop unloading the packages of frozen peas from my shopping cart. I just rattle off the six-digit number. Next to learning the Gettsyburg