2017 In Review: Stories That Were The Talk Of Vermont Towns And Cities

Dec 23, 2017

Public Post, VPR's local reporting project, looks at the people and events making news in towns and cities across the state. We've rounded up a few memorable stories from the past year that still stick out as we wrap up 2017.

Listen to the audio above to hear Public Post reporter Amy Kolb Noyes discuss the below stories with All Things Considered producer Liam Elder-Connors. Browse more of VPR's Public Post reporting here.

The mystery of the Plainfield "love" signs

There's a utility pole in the heart of Plainfield, at the corner of Main and Mill streets, that was covered with "love" signs. Someone had painted a sign that said "love" and someone else, it turns out, stuck it on the pole. When some people started to complain about it, more and more "love" signs appeared.

Some people in town were staunch supporters of the signs; some people said they were offended by them, more due to the principle of posting signs as opposed to the "love" message.

And in the course of reporting this story, the painter of that first sign was ultimately revealed: former Twinfield Union School Principal Owen Bradley. It turns out he paints a lot of these signs and gives them away or sometimes just leaves them for people to find and take. Someone adopted one of those "love" signs and put it up the pole. Then Bradley, and others, just kept adding to it.

FOR MORE — Signs Of Love: How An Anonymous Artist Sparked A Town-Wide Debate In Plainfield (Sept. 29)

A visit to the clothing-optional beach

For this story, a passionate group of regulars at Southwest Cove at Lake Willoughby were interviewed. Southwest Cove is a clothing-optional beach in the Willoughby State Forest, and members of the group expressed concern about the state's proposed changes to the area.

They had a lot to say, but most didn't want to talk on the record for the story — however, Newport Center resident Shelah Vogel did speak on tape about the beach for this piece.

"You know, when it's sunny and this is crystal clear and warm and it's just paradise, the fact that I can go skinny dipping and take my dogs safely swimming is just a little bonus. So I'd hate to see all of that disappear in the name of 'improvements,'" Vogel said, making air quotes when saying "improvements."

FOR MORE — Nature Vs. Nurture: Proposed Changes At Willoughby State Forest Met With Resistance (Sept. 1)

Preparation for the solar eclipse

Bill Gottesman, a retired physician from Burlington and sundial enthusiast, designed a paper sundial that would tell time using the solar eclipse that happened in August. Gottesman worked with his high school friend Dan Axtell, a freelance web designer and computer programmer in Westminster, to get it up on a webpage so people across the country could print it out and use it.

FOR MORE — Want To Tell Time By The Eclipse? These Vermonters Have You Covered (Aug. 11)

New owners for Stowe Mountain Resort

A big story this year was Vail's purchase of Stowe Mountain Resort. It's the first time of the resort has changed hands since Cornelius Vander Starr, founder of the insurance giant American International Group, bought up various little companies and rolled them into the Mt. Mansfield Company around 1950. AIG took it over in the 1980s and then sold the mountain operations portion of the business to Vail this year.

The biggest change has been the introduction of Vail's multi-mountain season pass that is good at Stowe as well as multiple other Vail-owned resorts, most of them out west. They also added a little more parking — and despite preseason rumors, they are not charging for parking this year.

A few skiers and riders say there is some extra enforcement on the slopes, making sure people aren't going too fast and are staying off of closed trails. But for the most part, not a lot of noticeable difference so far in light of the news-making sale.

FOR MORE — It's Official: Vail Now Owns Stowe Mountain Resort (June 8)