Celebrating Each Other

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We all know that Jericho is an amazing place to live. Not only do we have great villages, open land, parks and places to eat, we have great PEOPLE who work and volunteer here too.

This page is the place where we are celebrating each other and our accomplishments.

This month's post features Development Review Board Chair,

Jeff York.

Thank you to Jericho resident, Phyl Newbeck, who has generously volunteered to conduct and write our interviews.

We all know that Jericho is an amazing place to live. Not only do we have great villages, open land, parks and places to eat, we have great PEOPLE who work and volunteer here too.

This page is the place where we are celebrating each other and our accomplishments.

This month's post features Development Review Board Chair,

Jeff York.

Thank you to Jericho resident, Phyl Newbeck, who has generously volunteered to conduct and write our interviews.

  • Jeff York (Development Review Board)

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    Jeff York: Settling in Jericho after a lifetime of travel

    by Phyl Newbeck

    Jeff York comes from a military family. “Every year around July 1, we would move,” he said, “and then we’d land at a new base around August 1 before school started.” The bases were all different but one thing they had in common was a community library and York gravitated to those spaces. When he found himself approaching retirement at IBM, he remembered those sanctuaries of his youth and in 2018, he joined the board of the Jericho Town Library.

    “Supporting a small library has always appealed to me,” York said. “One of the best things about Vermont is a sense of community and libraries are a big part of that.” York believes there are a number of ways to support community including getting involved in the schools when your kids are of age, joining houses of worship, or serving on boards and lately, he has chosen the latter. For several years he was a general member of the Jericho Town Library board, but he was soon asked to become Treasurer and he has held that position ever since.

    The library board was not York’s first foray into municipal volunteering. Eight years ago, he found himself chatting with Barry King who was the chair of the Development Review Board. King recommended that York apply for a vacant position on the board, and he did so. This year, he has taken over as chair of that body. “It’s interesting to understand the patterns of development and see how things will plan out long-term for Jericho,” York said. “The decisions we make will affect the town for years to come.”

    York sees the DRB as a sounding board, tasked with interpreting the town’s regulations. He notes that the rights of property owners have to be weighed against the rights of the greater community. York recognizes that many people are frustrated by what might seem to be a long and expensive process and his goal is to provide a sense of clarity for those who come before the board. He believes the process is generally a good one and can help the town plan for what it will look like 100 years from now.

    York spent most of his career at IBM, first as an engineer and then as a financial analyst in their test area. “I became more interested in the decisions on why we made certain investments and made some products and not others, not just the mechanical wear and tear of a certain metal,” he said. “I wanted to help provide data so we could make the best possible decisions on hiring and letting people go.” York believes that during most of his years at IBM, the company cared about its employees. “IBM attracted a very interesting, intellectually alert group of people,” he said. “There was a lot of vitality, and it was very exciting.”

    When he first moved to Vermont, York continued the frequent moving which had characterized his childhood. He lived in Burlington, Winooski, St. Albans, Fletcher, Enosburgh, and Richmond. “I kept moving from place to place but when I got to Jericho 20 years ago, I decided to stay,” he said. “It’s a place that’s rural enough that people still talk to their neighbors but not so rural that it takes an hour to go to the grocery store.”

    When York first retired, he and a friend built a small sailboat that he takes out once a week in the summer. He also enjoys kayaking on Waterbury and Green River Reservoirs. In the spring he is part of a program that monitors the nests of peregrine falcons. York is in charge of a section of Smugglers’ Notch and his mission is to check where the falcons are nesting so rock climbers won’t disturb them. Although this year, very few falcon nests were successful – likely because of weather issues – the falcons that York monitored fledged one young. He said that during the ten years he has monitored them, they have almost always produced chicks.

    With his military family background, York has seen a lot of the country. He had been living in Atlanta when he decided to move to Vermont because it seemed exotic. “I think it’s the best place in the world to be,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything that has the scale of Vermont in terms of the size of the towns and the lush beauty.” Both of York’s children have resettled in California and although he enjoys visiting them, Jericho remains home.

  • Catherine Bass (Jericho Town Librarian)

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    Catherine Bass: The New Face at Jericho Town Library

    by Phyl Newbeck

    It’s ironic that Cathine Bass started working at the Jericho Town Library this June just as wildfires from Quebec began fouling the town’s air. Bass is sensitive to wildfire smoke and chose New England as her home because of the air quality but JTL’s new librarian isn’t going to let a little smoke get in her way.

    Bass has experience working in both public libraries and school libraries and believes that JTL combines what she likes about each. “I love that a public library services the whole community and that you get to work with people of all ages,” she said “but in school libraries you get to deeply know your community and patrons. This library is so beloved by the people who use it that they use it heavily, but that use is spread among people of all ages.”

    Bass’s journey to Vermont has included stops across the globe. Her father was in the U.S. Army, so she travelled a lot as a child including middle school and high school in the Mideast. “I’ve always loved to travel,” she said, “and I was really interested in living abroad as an adult.” After high school she returned to the states and with no specific career plans, she studied ancient Greek and Latin. “There was no obvious next step other than graduate school,” she said, “so I tried teaching English as a second language.” That lead to a job in Finland teaching kids in grades first through sixth.

    Bass enjoyed teaching and knew she wanted to keep working with kids, so she went back to school for a Master’s in Elementary Education. She taught fourth grade for a few years but recognized that some of the things she liked about teaching also pertained to library work. The travel bug kicked in again and Bass got a job teaching library and technology classes to students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade in South Korea. The library classes centered around foundational literacy skills, information seeking strategies, research skills, and media literacy skills. Covid struck and although Bass was impressed with how the government handled the pandemic, she had already decided to move back to the states. She and her husband ended up in Bozeman, Montana.

    In Montana, Bass worked as a library assistant on a bookmobile and although she enjoyed it, the pandemic limited the services they could provide. The couple wanted to return to the northeast where they both had strong support systems and also to escape the wildfire smoke. “I became interested in air quality issues when we lived in South Korea,” Bass said. “I’ve done a lot of research on information dissemination on wildfires and secondary effects. I knew New England would suffer too, but I wanted to get as many years of clean air as possible.”

    One of Bass’s best friends had moved to Vermont and was living on a farm in Peacham and working at the Morrisville Centennial Library. She encouraged Bass to look for a Vermont job and Bass’s husband agreed. For now, she is living in an apartment and commuting to Boston to see him on weekends, but he hopes to be moving to Vermont as soon as possible and at the very least, come north to visit her on weekends.

    Bass’s first summer program was with the Four Winds Nature Institute, and it attracted 21 people. The library’s weekly summer programs include a Tuesday “crafternoon” for kids seven and up, a Wednesday morning family story time for families with kids five and under, Thursday morning story time yoga for kids three to six followed by a late morning playgroup for kids six and under, and a Friday morning drop-in maker club for kids seven and older. Recurring events include outdoor yoga with Ginny Churchill and musical story time with Miss Emma. Bass said she is really looking forward to a back-to-school carnival which will be held on August 19 and the annual Pet Parade which will also be held on August 26.

    Bass admits she misses teaching a little because in school libraries, children are a captive audience whereas in public libraries, a bit more outreach is necessary. She is looking forward to finding more ways to engage the community. Bass said she has been impressed with how welcoming Jericho residents have been. “People have stopped by to say hello and to introduce themselves,” she said.

    Now that Bass’s position is full-time, she is hoping to expand the services the library offers and is open to feedback about programs, events, and even library hours. This summer, Saturday hours are being extended from 10-2 to 10-4. Bass has heard the story of how her job hours were increased during Town Meeting and notes that one of the things she loves about the state is the way people are involved in local government.

    “I feel very grateful that the town voted to make this a full-time position,” she said. “I would love to work in partnership with anyone interested in new programs or ideas. This is a great community space for people in town.”

  • Jessica Alexander (Jericho Town Clerk)

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    Jessica Alexander: The Friendly Face at Town Hall

    In a sense, long-time Town Clerk Jessica Alexander returned to her youth. The Jericho native attended the Saxon Hill School for the equivalent of Pre-K and Kindergarten and the room where she now serves as Town Clerk was the first location for the teachers and youngsters who were part of that program. In 2001, Alexander returned to that room when she was elected Town Clerk, a position she has held for over two decades.

    Alexander has deep roots in Jericho. After the Saxon Hill School, she attended first and second grade at Jericho Elementary School and third and fourth grade at what was known as the Center School. The Center School had some facilities in the Jericho Community Center, and others in the building next door. There was no kitchen, so meals were cooked at the elementary school and transported to Jericho Center.

    When she attended middle school, the dividing line between Browns River and Camel’s Hump Middle Schools went through Jericho Center so Alexander attended Camel’s Hump, followed by Mount Mansfield Union High School. She graduated from UVM with a degree in physical therapy and still works in that field on weekends.

    After graduation, Alexander worked as a physical therapist in Massachusetts and then did some traveling PT. She spent four years in South Carolina before moving back to Vermont and working at what is now UVM Medical Center. “I was looking for a change,” Alexander said. “Someone asked my mother to run for Town Clerk. She wasn’t interested, but she suggested that I look into it.”

    Alexander already had some familiarity with the job. Back in seventh grade, she did a report about the history of the house where she grew up which – coincidentally – had been built by Jericho’s first Town Clerk, Louis Chapin. She shadowed the assistant clerk, Debbie Fitzgerald, and decided to give the job a try, making ten campaign lawn signs which she placed strategically around town.

    That 2001 race was the only time Alexander has faced another candidate; she has run unopposed ever since. Although some municipalities elect town clerks every three years, for Jericho it’s a single-year term. Some towns have also moved to make town clerk an appointed position, but Alexander hopes Jericho won’t go that route. “I like being elected because I feel like I’m working directly for the people,” she said.

    Alexander said she really enjoys working in the office and continuing to learn about her hometown. “I’m connecting with history,” she said, “and it gives me a sense of place.” In working at Town Hall, Alexander is continuing a family tradition of community service. Her mother Emilie spent nine years each on the boards of Jericho Elementary School and MMU, worked as the librarian at the Jericho Town Library, and also served on that board. Her father Stuart spent some time as Jericho’s Health Officer and over 30 years on the Planning Commission as well as being one of the principal authors of the Third History of Jericho.

    In her spare time, Alexander enjoys taking care of her four horses. “They ride and drive,” she said. “They can pull a carriage.” She has entered the horses in some local shows but not in any high-pressure competitions. Alexander used to take part in the annual Dragon Boat festival but took a break during Covid. She hopes to return to dragon boating in the future.

    When Alexander first started working at Town Hall, she saw a lot of the parents of kids she had gone to school with and got to check up on her classmates. These days, she sees a whole new generation, some of whom have never known another person serving in her position.

    During her tenure, Alexander has seen a real change in technology. When she started, the office had a dot matrix printer and used the FoxPro database. Jericho started using an electronic voters’ checklist in 1998 and these days, that information is kept on the Secretary of State’s server. Liquor licenses are now renewed via a web portal rather than by mail. Another change is the digitization of the land records. “We still keep the volumes,” Alexander said, “but we have scanned the images and most title searching is done on the computer.” That’s important because Alexander believes future generations will be unable to read the cursive writing on the document or figure out the system of index cards.

    Alexander misses Jericho’s dirt roads and the triangular intersections which have been replaced by T stops for safety. She and a friend on Schillhammer Road used to go on four-hour horseback rides through town but now that land connectivity is gone and there are fewer farms. Alexander is pleased that groups in town are working to try to reestablish those trail connections.

    One real positive that Alexander sees in town is a new emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion which she also sees in her physical therapy work. “There’s a whole new outlook for people’s well-being,” she said. “Vermont may have a head start on the nation in that area because we make a lot of decisions locally. We have a strong voice in what we do.”

  • Soit Ole Musa (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee)

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    Soit Ole Musa: Student Representative on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

    A senior at MMU, Soitmatua (Soit) Ole Musa is part of a racial equity group called Cougars of Color. Their goal is to bring about change in the way the school and community discuss racial issues from a BIPOC perspective. When the advisor for that group told Musa the town of Jericho was forming a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and was looking for student volunteers, he decided to apply.

    Musa was the first person appointed to the committee. “It’s been great,” he said. “I really enjoy the work and think it’s really important.” He noted that even policies that aren’t directly exclusionary might not have been created with DEI values in mind so they might be unintentionally causing harm and should be examined.

    Musa isn’t fazed by the fact that he’s surrounded by adults on the committee. He admits that he doesn’t know all the procedures for committee work and respects the fact that the older members are well versed in that. “I really enjoy and value their wisdom on how we have to run as a group,” he said. “They’re great people and I respect them as mentors.” Musa said he has always spent time with people older than himself so working on the committee isn’t a stretch.

    Musa believes Jericho needs to improve access to housing to be more inclusive. “We need to work on our housing values,” he said “but that opens up a whole can of worms because you’re dealing with homeowners who may not want more neighbors. That becomes a larger conversation and that’s where the committee comes in.” Musa also thinks it’s important for Jericho to attract more diverse residents. “This is one of the whitest places I’ve ever been,” he said. “My graduating class has five Black people, and the grades below only have a couple. Attracting a more diverse presence would help Jericho’s growth.”

    Musa was a member of the Vermont Youth Philharmonia for two years and has been part of the Vermont Youth Orchestra since eighth grade. He plays French horn and this year he is the principal player. “I’ve been really committed to that,” he said, “and it’s been an amazing and formative experience.” In addition, Musa has been a member of the marching band since middle school and was twice invited to the Big E. “Marching is a completely different beast,” he said. He is unable to play the French horn in the band, so he plays a mellophone which he described as looking like a big trumpet. “You can use a French horn mouthpiece,” he said, “but it’s still quite different. It’s harder than being an ensemble player because you’re applying all that musicianship but also moving. You’re trying to remember the ebbs and flows of the music as well as where you’re supposed to be physically.”

    Musa has played at the District Festival since grade 7 and has gone to All States each year of high school except for his sophomore year when Covid led to its cancellation. This year, the group is playing the last movement of the New World Symphony which Musa described as having a massive horn solo. “It’s really terrifying,” he said, “because it goes really high.”

    Musa’s musical talents extend beyond the horn. He has also taken part in chorus since grade 5 and this year, on the realization that he had never attended a vocal festival, he went to the New England Chorus Festival and enjoyed the opportunity to sing with a group of 200 others.

    Not surprisingly, given the fact that music is such a huge part of his life, Musa will be attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston this fall. In addition to French horn performance, he will be studying film and media composition.

    Musa has thoroughly enjoyed his time in Jericho and although he’s not sure where he’ll end up after graduation, he does have one thought. “A long time from now, when I have kids,” he said, “I’d love to have them go to MMU.”

    Soit Plays a Sample of Strauss - Click Here to Listen

  • Pete Davis (Mobbs Farm Committee)

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    Peter Miller Davis: A Career of Skis and Trees

    The third burglary at Peter Miller Davis’s home in the North End of Burlington was the final affront. “They stole the hose off the front of our house,” he recalled. His wife Karen was pregnant with their first child, and she saw an ad for property that abutted the UVM Research Forest which was where Davis had studied forestry. “As soon as I got here, I knew that they’d be taking me out in a casket,” he said. “I knew it was where I wanted to spend my life. I just felt a connection to the land.”

    When Jericho formed a committee to oversee the Mobbs Farm in 2008, Davis immediately applied. He took five years off when he worked at Stratton Mountain School but got back on the committee as soon as that job ended, and he’s been a member ever since. The property is near his house, and he spends time skiing, biking, and running on the trails.

    Davis’s career has been a fascinating series of twists and turns. He was on the UVM ski team and after graduation, he decided to focus on downhill in the hope of making the national team. On a whim, he offered to be a forerunner at a race at Pico and ended up joining the Peugeot Grand Prix ski circuit which he described as the B tour. That year, the primary circuit folded, so the faster racers ended up joining the B tour, upping the level of competition. Davis spent three years racing on the tour and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to travel the world.

    After retiring from racing, Davis started a business doing tree work in the summer while coaching several different ski clubs in the winter. He began doing some event announcing and had a local radio show called Friday Morning Funway on WRUV from 1980 to 1986. Davis enjoyed announcing ski races but since there were very few spectators, he launched an experiment to bring the mountain to the people instead of vice versa.

    In Burlington, snow was trucked in from the airport for an event that became the annual Burlington Winter Festival. The first year was so popular that race registration had to be capped at 250 people. Davis called the local television stations and got so much publicity that Anheuser Busch signed on as a sponsor and Busch City Ski was born. The group hosted 26 events a year across the country and found that the ones at beach resorts were the most popular. One event was held in front of the US Capitol.

    The ski events were on weekends and Davis continued to do tree work during the week but in 1991 he opted for more steady employment, signing on with Canstar Sports which was based out of Swanton. When Nike bought the company and moved it to New Hampshire, Davis balked at relocating so they allowed him to work out of his home for the last six years of his 11 years with the firm. From there he went to Rossignol where he managed a snowboard brand.

    Davis spent five years at Stratton Mountain School when his son, a Nordic racer, attended. From there, it was three years as the Executive Director of the USA Snowboard Association and a couple of years building the adventure center at Stowe. In 2008, looking to return to his forestry roots, Davis posted on Jericho Front Porch Forum about his desire to get back into tree work and immediately got 37 calls. These days, his work life is a combination of forestry work and event announcing.

    Davis chairs the Mobbs Committee and one of the things he loves about it is that everyone contributes. “It took the whole team to get Mobbs conserved,” he said, of the work which involved the Jericho Underhill and Vermont Land Trusts. “It was a three-year long process, and everyone was part of it.” Davis was gratified that when the question of conservation was put to the town for a vote, 91% were in favor.

    Now that he’s no longer racing, Davis enjoys having a quiet ski at Mobbs and credits Dan and Chris Smith for their work grooming the trails with a Snowdog. This winter he was also thrilled to see the use of the sliding trails by local kids. The Mobbs Committee is now focusing on grant opportunities and has just submitted a request for $20,000 in trail maintenance funds to improve the condition of the property’s bridges.

    Davis is hoping to establish a subcommittee to look into the feasibility of a community garden at Mobbs. A test patch close to the Brown’s Trace parking area showed that the soil was suitable for agriculture. Davis is also working on the Mobbs Farm orchard which currently has a dozen trees. He is hoping to add more apple, pear, plum, and northern climate peach, in addition to blueberry and raspberry bushes. He envisions a picnic area where people can relax, and wildlife can flourish. I call those my “big, hairy, audacious goals,” he said with a smile.

  • SJ Dube (Affordable Housing & Diversity,Equity and Inclusion Committees)

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    Sarahjane Dube: The Consummate Volunteer

    By Phyl Newbeck

    Sarahjane (SJ) Dube has a lot on her plate. In addition to her full-time job as a Research Specialist at UVM, she’s got two young children at home and she’s taking graduate courses in epidemiology. On top of that, she chairs Jericho’s Affordable Housing Committee and is a member of the new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee.

    Dube moved to Vermont in 2008, purchasing a small home in the New North End with the goal of trying to decide if she and her husband wanted to stay in Vermont. They built up some equity and when their son was born in the fall of 2012, they decided to make their next move. Basing their decision on what they could afford, the status of the schools, and proximity to skiing for her husband, the two found a split-level ranch in Jericho in 2013 which would also provide room their new daughter.

    Initially, Dube concentrated on her job and raising her family but during the pandemic, she was able to attend evening meetings via Zoom and became intrigued by the options to serve her community. Dube watched Select Board and Planning Commission meetings while rubbing her daughter’s back and when Bob Robbins posted on Front Porch Forum that he needed people for a new Affordable Housing Committee, she volunteered. “I didn’t have the expertise,” she said, “but I was willing to help.”

    When Robbins left the committee, Dube took over as chair. “There was a need,” she said, “and I was willing to try it until the following March when the term would expire.” March came and went and Dube is still the chair. “I just fell into it,” she said.

    While listening to Vermont Edition, Dube learned about the Declaration of Inclusion movement across the state. She approached Town Administrator John Abbott who told her that the Select Board had just tasked him with creating a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. Dube again raised her hand to volunteer, and the committee has just adopted a charter.

    Dube’s day job is as a research specialist at UVM in the Department of Psychiatry. She is involved in two research projects. One is with the Vermont Center of Behavior and Health and the second one is part of the national Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development study. Although those areas are very different from the ones where she volunteers, Dube believes her expertise in information gathering, analysis, and reporting has been useful in her municipal volunteer work.

    Dube is studying for a graduate certificate in epidemiology which she believes will provide a good background for a potential move into the field of social justice through public health. All of this doesn’t leave much time for hobbies, but Dube said she likes to have busy hands. She enjoys knitting, crocheting, and quilting, as well as hiking, reading, and being outside with her dog.

    Dube’s entry into the world of municipal volunteering coincided with her daughter aging out of her toddler period. “I was just starting to be more than a mom,” Dube said. “I was coming out of the fog and woods of the infant and toddler years, and I got excited about having a brain that was working and having some time on my hands.”

    Another impetus for Dube’s volunteer efforts was her concern about the state of the world. “Between the pandemic and the social and cultural state of the country at that time, things got dark,” she said. “I went to a place of feeling overwhelming despair but then I started thinking about how I could help people.” Dube started by sewing masks and offering to run errands for immunocompromised people. “Those little acts of agency made me feel a little better and a little more empowered,” she said. “I was finally able to come out from the early years of motherhood and connect with people again. I wanted to be more connected and to serve my community.”

  • Roger Miller (Jericho Highway Department)

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    Roger Miller: Jericho’s Own King of the Road

    By Phyl Newbeck

    Back in July of 2001, Roger Miller joined the Jericho Road Crew and he’s been making sure residents can get to and from their homes and businesses ever since. The six-member crew has been down to four since last summer, but they’ve been able to keep up with everything the weather throws at them.

    Winter work on the road crew involves plowing snow and sanding to prevent rain from freezing on the roads. Gravel roads can’t be graded in winter, but the crew is still out, filling in potholes. Summer is the time for grading those gravel roads. “People like to see that you’ve done it,” Miller said “but they’re not happy while you’re doing it. People like to see you arrive and they like it when you’ve finished, but they don’t really want to see you there.”

    Miller said other summer work involves ditching to make sure water doesn’t run into the road. He noted that state guidelines require ditches to have a lining and a specified level of depth. In all seasons, the crew takes care of trees that come down during storms. The exception is the trees that land on power lines. “We have this thing about not getting sparked,” Miller said with a smile. Even when they’re not on the roads, the crew is busy with upkeep on their vehicles.

    Jericho has 60 miles of roads, almost evenly divided between paved and gravel. The number of gravel roads is unlikely to grow but new developments, particularly in the Riverside area may add more paved roads. Additionally, some existing development roads may become public roads at some point in time. Sidewalks are a relatively new addition to the road crew’s duties and require continued maintenance.

    Miller said that it is more expensive to build a paved road but if it has a good base, it will last at least 20 years before it needs significant work. “A gravel road is less expensive to maintain,” he said, “but you’re always maintaining them.” In addition to regular grading in the summer, some gravel roads require additional work to keep the dust down. “Occasionally the grader operator will have to wait go out until the roads are beyond where they should be because of the rain,” he said. “They have to wait with the work until the road is dry and then sometimes the potholes are deep enough to swallow a Volkswagen.”

    The job of the road crew has changed over the years. “It’s not like it used to be,” Miller said. “Back in the 1920’s and 30’s, a lot of muscle was needed. There is still manual labor in things like cleaning culverts, but you don’t need to be muscle-bound to work on a road crew although it does come in handy if you are.”

    Although many people might think some of Jericho’s bigger snowstorms would cause the most problems, Miller said the worst weather he’s had to work through was the summer a few years ago when there were a number of heavy rainstorms one after the other. He recalls that one major rainstorm came around the Fourth of July and another fell around Bennington Battle Day. “The first was bad enough that before we could get everything fixed, the next one hit.” Miller recalls, adding that the crew needed five or six different contractors during that storm and relied on cooperation from the road crews of several other towns.

    Miller used to play volleyball regularly but these days his main exercise is walking. In the spring he sugars the traditional way with buckets. For him, the best part of the job is having someone say thank you. “Sometimes when a road is really bad or rutty, when we’re out there filling the potholes, we’ll get a thumbs up,” he said, “and that’s really gratifying.”

  • Linda Blasch (Town Planner)

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    Welcome to Linda Blasch, Our New Town Planner

    -Phyl Newbeck

    One advantage to Linda Blasch’s new job as Jericho’s Planning & Development Coordinator is her commute. She can walk from her Jericho Corners home to her office. While some people might be hesitant about taking a municipal job in their hometown, Blasch was willing to take that chance. “I’ve worked with people around the state and with many municipalities,” she said. “I felt that I had a skill set that would bring significant value to my town and that outweighed any potential negatives. I care about this community and its future.”

    Prior to joining the staff at Town Hall, Blasch was a planner for the Northwest Regional Planning Commission in St. Albans, including two years as a Grants Manager. Before that she spent seven years as the Coordinator of the Better Roads Program, a non-profit which was taken over by the Vermont Agency of Transportation during her tenure. “My background is focused on natural resources, environmental conservation, and transportation,” she said. “I’ve also worked in water quality so that’s a comfort zone, as well.” Blasch noted that her background as a grants manager involved both grant writing and project management and she’s hoping to be able to use those skills to help her town.

    Blasch is pleased with what she’s seen so far at the Planning and Zoning Office. “There have been a lot of good zoning changes recently,” she said, “including those intending to incentivize affordable housing through accessory dwelling units and planning for bicyclists and pedestrians.” Blasch likes the fact that the town has been investigating the potential for wastewater facilities in the village centers. “I think there is a good management of the balance between the village centers and the rural environment,” she said.

    Blasch has lived in Vermont for 20 years with the last five of those in Jericho. One of the things that drew her family to the town was the availability of publicly accessible trails for walking and hiking. “I love that Jericho has a great combination of villages and access to open space right outside the village,” she said, noting that she can walk to Jericho Elementary School, the Old Red Mill, and Joe’s Snack Bar. She and her husband picked Jericho in part because it’s a midway point between Burlington and the mountains, but also because of the reputation of the school district.

    In her spare time, Blasch enjoys downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, walking, hiking, and canoeing. Her artistic side is displayed in the round nature mandalas with radial symmetry which she creates using flower petals and leaves. In the summer she makes them outside, often at Old Red Mill Park, and usually leaves them there after taking a picture. “I wonder if people even see them,” she said. In the winter she makes her creations inside and occasionally buys cut flowers so she can continue in her preferred artistic medium.

    Blasch said she is looking forward to working with the community, as well as the Planning Commission. “I hope we can identify planning priorities and strategies to manage the inevitable growth and change that Jericho will experience,” she said. “Jericho has a unique character and that’s something to be mindful of maintaining as best we can. Feedback from the Planning Commission’s first question of the month was clear that residents don't want Jericho to look like Williston or South Burlington, so that’s great information to start working with.”

    She hasn’t been on the job long, but Blasch is already excited by the potential of her new position. An added benefit is getting to know residents she had never met before. She welcomes people to come to the office to say hello but if she’s busy there is an alternative way to learn more about her; a painting representing of one of her mandalas is hanging right behind the table in the conference room.

  • Connor Lahiff (Planning Commission Member)

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    Featured in 2020

    Conor has lived in Jericho since 2005 along with his wife who is born and raised here and his two boys. He has a deep appreciation for the town and its residents. He is a member of the Jericho Planning Commission where he is working to help preserve the town's heritage and beauty, while also acknowledging its future.

    During the day (an sometimes the night) he is a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

    Conor is also a part time photographer. His subject of choice is landscape photography, and brings a touch of the surreal to each of his photos. As a meteorologist, Conor brings his interest in weather to slightly surreal photos of Vermont's natural and man-made landscapes, which might feature a red barn under the dramatic Milky Way or wispy cirrus clouds above rural dirt roads.

    From July through October, Burlington City Arts will feature the Conor's landscape photography at the Burlington International Airport along the walls facing security for Gates 1 through 8.

    Fun fact - Do you know the great photo of Mt. Mansfield on the home page of this website? That was shot was captured by Conor! Thank you so much, Conor, for sharing your work with us!
    You can learn more about Conor and see more of is amazing photography at conorlahiffphotography.com

    During the day (an sometimes the night) he is a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

Page last updated: 04 Sep 2023, 02:27 PM