Edd Merritt, Contributing Editor
Congratulations to Ted Castle, owner of Rhino Foods which was awarded placement by Forbes Magazine on its list of “Forbes Small Giants,” 25 companies that value greatness over growth.
Castle was a strong hockey player for UVM in the early 1970s and later assistant UVM hockey coach, but he soon turned from pucks to cookies. He opened a small ice cream shop in the Champlain Mill where he sold Chessters. In 1983 he moved out of the “Mill” and established Rhino Foods, first at Fort Ethan Allen, later on Industrial Parkway in Burlington’s south end. Ted worked with another couple of Vermont entrepreneurs named Cohen and Greenfield to produce cookie-dough for ice cream, and “things really took off.” Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough was one of their best sellers, and Rhino Foods had to expand to fill orders. Growth came, but not without limits.
The Forbes award selects “25 companies that have sound business models, strong balance sheets and steady profits.” They are companies that “contribute to their communities.” They have all been around and profitable for 10 years. According to Forbes Senior Editor Loren Feldman, their most important asset is that they “do things that other companies can learn from.” Since ice cream is primarily a seasonal food, Ted wanted to establish ways to retain his workers during the off season. He developed a program to loan them to other businesses such as another Charlotte-connected business, Champlain Chocolates. He pays his employees above the state’s $10 per hour minimum wage and offers performance-based bonuses. Thirty percent of the staff comes from outside the U.S., and Castle offers them on-site classes to learn English as their second language.
Congratulations to Stephen Kiernan who published another novel titled The Baker’s Secret. Set in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, it is the story of a baker, Emma, who stretches the use of her wheat ration to feed bread to both her fellow villagers and the “Komandant,” using her food preparation as a basis for description of life in an occupied village just prior to the Normandy invasion. According to a review in the recent Seven Days, it is largely a character novel, and Emma is the glue that binds the village together. Her traveling to deliver the extra loaves helps her advise others about how they can accomplish what they need or wish to do. This is Stephen Kiernan’s third novel in the last four years.
Congratulations to Susan Ohanian whose letter to the editor appeared on the “Opinion Page” of the May 9 New York Times. In it, Susan explains how her father, president of a Northern California school board, learned that a number of his school’s students came every day with only a raw potato for lunch. He learned that the Army was in the process of disassembling a set of portable barracks used in World War II, and he decided to build a cafeteria from them. He and other board members did that themselves and supported a woman known for her cooking at church suppers to take a course in cooking for large numbers. As a result, all kids ate a hot lunch whether or not they had the money to buy it. Susan says the “ugly barracks served as the cafeteria for decades.” Her dad gave her a board from the disassembled barracks that she still has as a reminder that ”we have individual and collective responsibility to make sure that kids come first.”
Congratulations to the following students from Charlotte at Champlain College who earned placement on the Dean’s List for the Spring 2017 semester: Eric Naud, majoring in creative media; Celina Tong, majoring in game art and animation; Andrew Gay, majoring in business administration; Bradley Young, majoring in integrated studies, management. In order to earn placement on the list, students must achieve a semester grade-point average of 3.5 or higher.
Congratulations to Christine Whiteside of Charlotte who graduated cum laude with a B.S. in engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute. She is a member of several honorary societies, including Alpha Omega Epsilon, the professional and social sorority of female engineers, and Eta Kappa Nu, the honor society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineeers. She was awarded her first patent as an intern at IBM where she will return as an employee.
CCS invites students from the 1970s to a reunion
Friday, July 7, at the Charlotte Town Beach is the date and place for a gathering of people who attended Charlotte Central School in the 1970s and want to re-connect with their classmates. Starting at 6:00 p.m., it will be a potluck dinner, and the organizers ask everyone to bring food to share. Sarah Soule said it is being billed a reunion because many CCSers from that time have not seen each other for years. She also said that the picnic is not limited to 1970s classes and invites any Charlotte student to attend. Of greater importance is the fact that they remember Mr. Ketcham and Mr. Carter and Ethel Atkins’ to-die-for lunches. Those who wish may stay for the 40th reunion of the CVU class of 1977 that will be held that weekend at the Isham Barn in Williston.
Commercialization of Charlotte! What and where?
Seven Days uses The Old Lantern’s history and its relationship with its neighbors to describe issues around commercial activity growth in Charlotte. The Old Lantern on Greenbush Road has been fighting to maintain its event license (mainly weddings) in light of what several of its neighbors call disturbing noise that disrupts a variety of residential activities for them. The disagreement has been going on for several years, according to the Seven Days May 17 article.
Part of the problem is the great popularity of the Lantern for bridal events. Weekends in particular are booked well in advance, not only by local patrons, but also by people from around the northeast. Charlotte has retained a rural character while maintaining its status as a suburban, Chittenden County town. The Old Lantern is one of the early commercial venues in town and remains under scrutiny by some residents as to what changes additional commercial proposals might bring to the area. Approval from the Zoning Board of Adjustment for turning an older barn into event use was not gained, and while a similar project in the northern end of town was approved and the barn renovated, neighbors have appealed the decision and the barn has not yet opened.
It could have been worse if, as once proposed, the electric company had erected a nuclear power plant on the Charlotte shores of Lake Champlain.
Vermont Stage steals Broadway play
Bolton playwright Alison Bechdel wrote a somewhat autobiographical musical about growing up gay and coming out. The first production was Off-Broadway, and then in 2015 it moved to New York’s Circle in the Square Theatre. Titled Fun Home, it won five Tony Awards, being nominated 12 times. Charlotte’s Oscar Williams acted in the production; he eventually outgrew his character, becoming too tall to play the little brother. The play is scheduled to run here at the Flynn Space October 4–29.
CVU play moves from voices to hands and expressions
CVU senior Julia Kitonis’ production of the musical play, Songs for a New World, ran for three performances at the Flynn Space this past weekend. It is unique insofar as it combines words and songs with sign language. For her “Senior Project,” Kitonis directed and produced the play and used it as a basis for learning sign language. According to an article in Saturday’s Burlington Free Press, she said, “Art forces you to have the empathetic response and witness each other’s humanity.” She also said that part of the reason for her project is to expose hearing audiences to the deaf experience. Charlotte sophomore Rayona Silverman, one of the play’s singers—who happens to be hearing impaired but has cochlear implants—used the production to help her learn sign language.