Mill to host Tech Jam; F-35 update; city history, upcoming events

Tech Jam at Champlain Mill highlights city’s growing stature as tech center

See photo on Winooski Bridge Facebook page

Wednesday, Oct. 17, Winooski resident and Seven Days newspaper writer Cathy Resmer told a small crowd assembled at the Champlain Mill how the face of Winooski industry has changed “from textile to tech style.” 

“That says it all,” Resmer said. Judging by the appreciative laugh at the clever homonym, the crowd, including Gov. Peter Shumlin, seemed to agree. Standing on the third floor of what used to be one of New England’s largest producers of wool blankets, Resmer was also standing beneath the huge logo of MyWebGrocer, the web-based business begun by the Tarrant brothers that has grown to 180 employees.

The Mill will host not one but two major tech events during the next 10 days. The Hackathon, being held there over a 24 hour period this Friday and Saturday, has more than 100 participants enrolled, with contributed prizes and local food and beverage companies providing treats. $10,000 in cash and prizes are up for grabs. Participants are charged with creating a digital product, app, website or widget to benefit the state of Vermont. The competition is seen as a means of recruitment and to build awareness, creating an opportunity for bright computer minds to showcase their skills, according to Susan Allen, a spokesperson for Gov. Shumlin.

The following weekend, the Mill will host the sixth annual Vermont Tech Jam. This free, two-day job fair and tech expo is also sponsored by MyWebGrocer and Dealer.com, and organized by the Vermont Technology Alliance and Seven Days, Allen said. It will take place Friday and Saturday Oct. 26-27. More than 70 Vermont companies will be recruiting staff and interns. Representatives from several Vermont schools will attend the Jam to discuss training opportunities for high school students and career changers. Vermont start-ups and makers will be demonstrating video games, 3-D printers and programmable robots.

Resmer calls the event “the largest concentration of local tech talent under one roof. We’ve heard from many people who’ve told us they found their job – or hired employees or interns – because of the Tech Jam.” About 30 Winooski High students are scheduled to attend, Resmer said.

During his remarks at the Tech Jam kickoff Wednesday, Gov. Shumlin noted that MyWebGrocer’s move to the Mill would not have happened without the hard work of Mayor Michael O’Brien and City Manager Deac Decarreau. Whoever is responsible, it appears that that Winooski is becoming a hi-tech magnet. The Mill also houses Physician’s Computer Company, a software/consulting firm for pediatricians, and New Breed Marketing, a digital marketing firm. Over on West Canal Street, about 25 people are employed at Reading Plus, a company with a web-based silent reading program. Located on Tigan Street in the city’s industrial park, BioTek Instruments, Inc. has long been a global leader in the development, manufacture and sale of microplate instrumentation and software.

For a Tech Jam schedule and full list of sponsors and exhibitors, go to www.techjamvt.com.

New data: more homes in F-35 fly zone than claimed by Air Force

About 2600 homes are in the city’s F-35 flyover zone, according to information developed by resident Horace Shaw. As a result, several city residents at  asked the City Council Oct. 15 to demand to the U.S. Air Force and the state’s congressional delegation that all decisions be postponed until the actual number of affected homes is determined.

Shaw, a retired GIS technician, said he studied the city’s grand list, with appraiser Steve Allen, and compared it with a city tax map to determine the number of affected housing units. He described his scenario as “worst case.” The Air Force reportedly estimates 1366 homes are in the F-35 flyover zone.

The Council directed City Manager Deac Decarreau to draft a letter to the Air Force, supporting a recalculation of the impact, and asking that a siting decision be withheld until the information is confirmed.

“This needs to go back several stages, so that every citizen is informed….we are asking that this process be held until the information is confirmed,” an F-35 opponent. Councilor Megan Moir said she agrees with this request.

“You are being unfair to the citizens of the city if you are not more demanding that the issues be addressed,” resident Michael Mahoney said. “If the issue is not fairly studied, we are the ones who will receive the brunt of those results.”

“We’re taking all the steps we can, that if that does happen, we have a voice with the governor, and with the guard, that they will do everything they can to mitigate the noise, to make it no worse than it is today, maybe even better,” O’Brien said. “No matter what happens, this community will continue to thrive, to grow, we have to keep a positive attitude.”

“I’m not convinced Winooski will be the same,” an F-35 opponent retorted. “I had every intention of buying a home in Winooski, but I can tell you right now, that I am not. If buyers are driven away, Winooski may not recover.”

Resident Eileen Andreoli suggested the City Council consider joining other municipalities in a lawsuit, if the planes are located here and the sound really is a problem.

Haunted Winooski to take place Oct. 26 – 31

“Haunted Winooski” is a city-wide, week-long celebration of Halloween being organized by the Winooski Welcome Center, Oct. 26 -31.

According to an announcement in the school district newsletter, planned activities include a masquerade ball (see more about that below), dining specials, storytelling events, zombie walks, a constume parade, and music events. To volunteer or gather more information, email info@winooskiwelcomecenter.com, call 399-2670, or visit www.winooskiwelcomecenter.com.

Jodi Harrington writes: Saturday, Oct. 27 there will be a masquerade ball fundraiser at the Winooski Welcome Center Gallery for the Winooski Community Partnership (think Farmer's Market and supporting the historic downtown). Click here for tickets to the gala event (masks and a little elegant...save the blood and guts for Halloween. Only 200 tickets will be sold. There will be great food, cash Monkey House bar, and DJ Tricky Pat to keep the ball rocking.  What?  No mask?  No worries....there will be a variety available, from custom knit, Jude Bond, pieces of art to your basic cheapo eye pieces.  Also, parking will be free in the parking garage right behind the gallery, which is located on the traffic circle.

Welcome Center Gallery to become holiday art market for Nov., Dec.

In November and December 2012, the Winooski Welcome Center Gallery on the circle in Winooski will be converted into a vibrant art market for the holiday season. The market will feature art, fine craft, and other locally made products from around the region. The market will be open Wednesday to Saturday from 11 am – 8 pm Sunday 10 am – 3 pm.  A series of special events will be planned in the space.

In addition to being a showcase for fine art and fine craft, the Winooski Holiday Art Market will be an opportunity to discover the shops and restaurants of Downtown Winooski. Lined with brick sidewalks, welcoming window awnings, and a faint whispering sound of the Winooski River – homes and offices are intermingled with restaurants, a market & deli, and a bakery. Downtown Winooski has been transformed into a vibrant city center with an eclectic mix of residential, retail, parkland, and public space.

In 2011, Kasini House and Jodi Harrington produced a Pop-up Art Market during a six-week period during November and December in a temporary space. Twenty-five vendors participated, and the market sold $14,000 gross, an average of $560 per vendor.
The space has since become the Winooski Welcome Center and Gallery, a permanent space.

Fascinating history of Winooski Block told in new Historical Society newsletter

Winooski historian Al Blondin tells the story of the Winooski Block, from Ira Allen to the involvement of people named Lafountain, Leclair, and Chase (sound familiar?) to McKee’s Pub, in the Fall, 2012 issue of the Winooski Historical Society newsletter. I found my copy at the City Clerk’s office. It’s not available online yet at www.onioncity.com, but perhaps it will be soon.

The story concludes with an account of how an artist in 1979 fashioned a replacement for the original Eagle wood carving, which had graced the roofline of the prominent building but had fallen into disrepair. I can add a little footnote to that story: when I founded the Winooski Eagle, an official of the Winooski Community Development Corp. allowed me to use her artist’s rendering of the Winooski Block Eagle as the “flag” for the new newspaper. So for those of you who read the Eagle, if the picture on the top of the front page looked familiar – there’s a good reason. You probably drove past its likeness, and still do today!

To contact the Winooski Historical Society, email winooskihistory@yahoo.com.

– the editor


Oct. 18-19 – No school, due to parent-teacher conferences.

Oct. 19 – Varsity Football game, 7 pm, home vs. Mt. Abraham.

Oct. 20 – Girls Varsity Soccer game, 6 pm, home vs. Oxbow. Click here for more sports calendar info.

Oct. 21 – Civil War Re-enactor Bill Preston, a “sutler” who sells provisions to the Union Army, will re-enact and give a brief history of the war, noon – 1:30 pm at the Winooski Senior Center.

Oct. 21 - 10AM-2PM - The Winooski Welcome Center & Gallery is hosting a Book Sale to benefit the Winooski Memorial Library. The book sale begins just as the 24-Hour Comics Day in Vermont wraps up at 10AM.

Oct. 23 – the Winooski Library will hold its regular Story Hour, 10:30 – 11:30 am, hosted by Marilyn Scoville. The theme is pumpkins. The library is located on the second floor of the Champlain Mill. For more information call 655-6424.

Oct. 25 – St. Francis Xavier School will celebrate its 13th annual International Night beginning at 6:00.  Each class, from pre-kindergarten to grade 8, has selected a different country to study and students will present reports on their country’s government, history, economy, culture, religions and languages. Classrooms are decorated with flags, reproductions of distinctive artwork or architecture and images associated with the particular country. Many students are attired in their particular country’s national colors or native costumes. There is also a wide assortment of food associated with the different countries to sample in every classroom. Members of the general public are welcome to attend.

Oct. 26-27 – sixth annual Tech Jam, Champlain Mill.  Free, two-day job fair and tech expo sponsored by MyWebGrocer and Dealer.com, and organized by the Vermont Technology Alliance and Seven Days.

Oct. 27 - Masquerade Ball at the Winooski Welcome Center Gallery, fundraiser for the Winooski Community Partnership, call 399-2670 or email info@winooskiwelcomecenter.com for more information.

Nov. 7 – Monthly meeting of Winooski Coalition, 6-7 pm at the O’Brien Community Center on Malletts Bay Avenue. Discuss current projects, including public health and civic engagement initiatives. Every meeting is free and open to the public.

Nov. 14 - Sit down with the community for a free evening of togetherness and holiday spirit at the Winooski School District Cafeteria on Normand Street. Dinner will be served from 5:30 to 7:00. As always, all are welcome to attend. Please be aware that, although the WCSPC’s Community Dinners normally take place on the third Wednesday of the month, November’s dinner will be a week early to avoid conflict with the Thanksgiving holiday.

Nov. 17 - 30th annual Winooski P.T.O. Craft Fair will be held at the Winooski Educational Center 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Click HERE for more information.

Nov. 18 – WWII history author Joseph Covais will discuss his book, “Battery! C. Lenton Sartain and the Airborne GIs of the 319th Glider Field Artillery”, noon to 1:30 pm at the Winooski Senior Center. Before losing his vison, Mr. Covais produced precise replica clothing for museums, historic sites, and the movie industry. Today he teaches psychology classes at CCV and works as a psycho-therapist for blind and visually impaired persons. He holds a masters degree in clinical psychology from St. Michaels College. “Battery!” is his first book, but he has authored numerous articles on clothing, photography, and military history.