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2019 Update #25

Meet the Team, Block Party Redux

Most of you haven’t had the opportunity, as I have, to meet and interact with the group of professionals who are responsible for managing our downtown construction project.

As this year’s construction gets underway, I thought I would begin introducing you to the members of the Middlebury project team.

Let’s start with the VTrans Project Manager, Jonathan Griffin. You may recall Jon’s thoughtful presentation and responses to questions at the June 4 public meeting.

As VTrans Project Manager, Jon has overall responsibility for managing our project. It is his leadership that provides direction and decision-making to the engineering and construction teams, and he works closely with the Federal Highway Administration, Vermont Rail, the Middlebury Selectboard, Neighbors Together, and other stakeholders both here in town and in our state government.

Jon grew up in Vershire, Vermont, a town of 629 (according to the 2000 census) located on Route 113 in Orange County. The town’s name combines Vermont and nearby New Hampshire, where Vershire kids go to middle school and high school.

Jon attended UVM, where he graduated with a B.S. in Civil Engineering and then went to work at VTrans, where he was already employed part time during his senior year. He works in the Structures & Hydraulics Section at VTrans, the group responsible for maintaining Vermont’s bridges.

Jon’s interests are what you might expect in a Vermonter: skiing, fishing, hiking, and kayaking. He and his wife and two young sons live in Waterbury, a town undergoing its own multi-year downtown construction project.

Your Weekly Construction Update

No change in the plan we’ve been reporting: Maine Drilling & Blasting is expected to begin drilling minipiles in the rail corridor on Monday, August 5, with the first week’s work taking place in Triangle Park and then shifting south to the rail corridor behind South Pleasant Street the following week.

This week Maine D&B is mobilizing equipment in its New Haven yard in preparation for the August 5 start and Lafayette is marking locations for those orange construction signs. Once Dig Safe clears those locations, Lafayette will install the signs.

Kubricky has formalized its plans to establish a field office in the former Diner on Merchants Row, signing a year-long lease with Town Hall Theater starting October 1. Kubricky will continue leasing space in the basement of the Gas House in the Marble Works. You may recall that VTrans has been renting the basement of the Post Office for its field office for two years now.

Looking ahead to next year, there was the suggestion in last week’s Addison Independent that, during next summer’s 10-week closure, we might not be able to access downtown businesses through their front doors and that stores might not be able to receive deliveries to restock inventory.

To be clear, Kubricky is contractually required to maintain customer access to all Main Street and Merchants Row businesses next summer. That means through the front door.

Kubricky will also ensure that those businesses are able to receive deliveries throughout the 10-week closure of Main Street and Merchants Row.

Return of the Downtown Block Party

Mark your calendar! The Downtown Block Party returns for its third year on Wednesday, August 14. The past two years this event has drawn hundreds of people downtown to celebrate our community, shop in our downtown stores, and have a fun time out on a summer evening.

Once again there will be plenty of activities for kids, including, back by popular demand, the Dunk Tank and Kubricky’s mini-excavator. Also, live music from our good friends The Horse Traders, games, great shopping specials and deals, and giveaways and raffles.

And, of course, great food. Check out this lineup. The legendary Mad Taco will be selling its famous tacos and beer. Local favorite Bobcat Cafe will be bringing its mobile food truck to town as part of Town Hall Theater’s Spinning Plates program. And for dessert, the Dairy Fairy will be showcasing small-batch artisan gelato “tacos,” ice cream sandwiches, sundaes, popsicles, ice cream bombs, and more. Plus plenty of free treats, including popcorn, cotton candy, and snow cones.

It takes a lot of work to pull off a downtown block party. Please consider volunteering to help out, even if you have only a little name to give. You can sign up to volunteer here.

Main Street will be closed from the roundabout to Merchants Row starting at 2 PM that day so that sod, donated by Come Alive Outside, can again be laid down on Main Street. The event runs from 5:00 to 8:00 PM. Please plan to attend and support your downtown!

Notes from Around Town

Shirley Carlson and her crew from St. Mary's Church deserve a big thank-you for caring for Neighbors Together’s downtown flowers, especially during last week's high heat and humidity. NT coordinator Amy Hastings reports that the flowers are flourishing in mid-summer glory and the planter nearest Town Hall Theater has been sporting brilliant blooms this week.

As I reported last week, the same day construction starts up, Monday, August 5, Bundle @ 60 Main will host an open-mic storytelling event designed to shed light on the history of our downtown. The program is being presented in collaboration with MCTV, the Sheldon Museum, Ilsley Library, and the Vermont Folklife Center.

Two story cycles will take place, the first from 3:30 to 5:00 PM and the second from 6:00 to 7:30 PM. Images of downtown Middlebury will be on display and MCTV will film the stories for viewing on their website.

Those with stories to tell about downtown Middlebury are encouraged to contact Mark Wilch at to be included in the lineup of storytellers. Anyone with images of historic downtown Middlebury should contact Dorothea Langevin at

Porter Medical Center’s contribution to our “30 Miles in 30 Days” walking challenge continues next Tuesday at Mary Hogan with a brief talk by Family Nurse Practitioner Laura Wilkinson on “Helping Healthy Habits Stick.” Things get underway every Tuesday at 5:15 PM.

And remember: If you keep track of your daily miles, wherever you walk, you can submit your walking log at our Downtown Block Party on Wednesday, August 14, for a chance to win one of five $100 Middlebury Money prizes.

That’s all for today. See you downtown.

Please keep your comments and questions coming. Send me an email at and I’ll try to cover it in my next update.

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