top of page

2019 Update #28

Third Annual Block Party Brings Community Together Downtown

It was a highlight of the year downtown.

A perfect summer evening and a pedestrian-only Main Street brimming with the ingredients of a good time brought hundreds of locals and visitors downtown Wednesday to celebrate all that is best about our town.

Organized by Neighbors Together and its partner the Better Middlebury Partnership—and “organized” doesn’t do justice to the amount of work that went into planning this event—the Downtown Block Party in its third year has quickly become a community favorite.

From the corner of Merchants Row, where Mad Taco drew mad crowds to its Middlebury debut, to Cannon Park, where local faves The Horse Traders dished up rock classics while volunteers served hot dogs, sno cones, and cotton candy, Main Street was packed from end to end with kids and adults suddenly free to play in the street.

One of the things that makes this event special is the sod laid down on Main Street, creating an instant downtown playground. The sod was provided by Come Alive Outside, set in place (and then removed) by Carpenter & Costin and a small army of volunteers, and now donated to the Habitat for Humanity house under construction on Seymour Street.

Kubricky again supplied the mini excavator that brought smiles to the many future equipment operators who hopped up into the cab and imagined what they could do with such a vehicle. That’s nearly two-year-old Finn in the photo below getting a grip on the track controls.

Special thanks to Bruce Zeman and WVTK for broadcasting live from the event.

The Downtown Block Party is one of many events and activities, funded by VTrans and masterminded by Neighbors Together and the Better Middlebury Partnership, that are designed not just to bring people into our downtown stores but to build the sense of community that gets towns through challenging times.

If you missed the event or want to relive it, you can access some great photos that capture the spirit of the event taken by Jason Duquette-Hoffman here. When not capturing the world through a lens, Jason works at the Middlebury College Center for Community Engagement. (Thanks to Jason for the photo at the top of our weekly update.)

Meet The Team: Tim Pockette, Resident Engineer

Last month I began introducing you to the members of the Middlebury project team with a profile of Jon Griffin, the VTrans project manager. This week we’ll meet Tim Pockette, the VTrans resident engineer.

What does a resident engineer do? You might say that Tim is VTrans’s “eyes on the job.” The resident engineer is responsible for seeing that the contractor (in this case, Kubricky) performs the work in compliance with its contract with the state, with the engineering plan, and with the Vermont Agency of Transportation’s Standard Specifications for Construction.

In the larger sense, as resident engineer Tim is responsible for protecting the interests of the State of Vermont and the Town of Middlebury. His leverage? Tim is the one who authorizes payment for work performed.

A Rutland native and graduate of Rutland High, Tim grew up helping his parents at the Tastee Bakery on Strong Avenue, which the family owned for 21 years and at which his father worked for 50 years before retiring.

Tim graduated with a B.S. in Civil Engineering from UVM and joined the VTrans construction group in 1993.

MUHS football fans may want to skip the rest of this sentence, but Tim coached football at Rutland High for 16 years. Like a few other Vermonters I know, Tim loves to hunt and fish. He and his wife Jessanne continue to live in Rutland.

Your Weekly Construction Update

This week Maine Drilling & Blasting completed drilling 13 steel minipiles in Triangle Park and around the Merchants Row Bridge and shifted drilling operations as planned to the south end of the project, behind South Pleasant Street.

Starting on Friday, Maine D&B will be installing minipiles directly behind the two Smith Housing Partnership buildings facing Otter Creek. The large tarp visible from the Ilsley parking lot is to shield the buildings from any debris created by the drilling process.

Once the newly installed Triangle Park minipiles are grouted (i.e., filled with a mixture of water, cement, and sand), Kubricky will begin installing the timber lagging that sits between the minipiles and stabilizes the soil behind it.

During the past week, Merchants Row Bridge was closed periodically to complete the drilling work. Thank you for your patience if this affected your getting around town.

A second Maine D&B drilling rig arrived in town on Thursday to conduct test bores whose purpose is to confirm the composition of the ground into which the minipiles are to be driven.

Initial work on constructing a new town sewer line that will parallel the rail track below South Pleasant Street will now get underway the week of August 26.

Finally, the instrumentation and monitoring specialists from GeoComp completed their pre-construction inspections of buildings that are likely to experience vibrations during the next two years of construction. In total, GeoComp inspected 18 downtown buildings and installed seismograph machines to monitor vibration levels in those buildings that are closest to the blasting that will take place this Fall in the area of Main Street Bridge.

Film Fest Alert

It hardly seems possible, but the fifth annual Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival

rolls out August 22-25 across five screens in Middlebury.

The Festival showcases the work of first- and second-time filmmakers from around the world: the emerging voices of independent filmmaking.

You can help welcome special guests Paul Schrader, Bruce Greenwood, Barbara Kopple, Ricki Stern, and more and see some great independent film-making. Come out for panels, pastries, and parties and don't miss Kids & Family Day on Wednesday, August 21, at the Middlebury Marquis Theater or the many other special events, like live film accompaniment from the Vermont Symphony Orchestra.

The waitlist for Opening Night Tickets is now open. Fest Passes are available for purchase through August 25, as are Individual Advance Tickets. Visit the MNFF website,, for more information.

Notes from Around Town

Amy Hastings reminds us that our Neighbors Together downtown flowers are making a late-summer statement with their wonderful blooms. They've been faithfully watered and tended the past two weeks by members of the Middlebury Friends and Havurah led by David Rosenberg assisted by John Cook, Margie Latham, Chris Stackhouse, Grace Seale, and Grace McGrath.

Care of the flowers will now pass to George Klohck and volunteers from Middlebury United Methodist Church. A big thank you to all who've been part of the watering team this summer.

End of Life Services provided our latest fence art featuring their uplifting logo designed by Hannaford Career Center student Aiden Coale. In addition to the fence art, the volunteers gave out water and beverages to passersby as well as the construction workers, very welcome on a hot day.

End of Life staffers and volunteers who constructed the fence included Cindy Jones, Laurie Borden, Shirley Ryan, Revell Allen, Margaret Olson, and Nathan Stefani.

Porter Medical Center’s contribution to our summer-long walking challenge continues next Tuesday at Mary Hogan with a brief talk by Porter cardiologist Dr. Gavin Noble on “Heart Health.” Things get underway every Tuesday at 5:15 PM.

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.

Recent Posts
bottom of page