What’s smarter — Paying off debts or investing?

If you’re just starting out in your career, you will need to be prepared to face some financial challenges along the way. But here’s one that’s not unpleasant: choosing what to do with some extra disposable income. When this happens, what should you do with the money? Your decisions could make a real difference in your ability to achieve your important financial goals. Under what circumstances might you receive some “found” money?

A solar array was built at Rock Point in Burlington, a collaboration between the Episcopal Church, which is now the owner, and All Earth Renewables. Courtesy photo

Church finds efficiency investment pays off

By Bruce Edwards
BURLINGTON — A half-dozen years ago, the Episcopal Church in Vermont adopted a strategy to ensure that its historic Rock Point property in Burlington would be a model of environmental stewardship and sustainability. As part of that commitment, the church contracted with All Earth Renewables in Williston to install a 147-kilowatt, 35-tracker solar array on the 130-acre property that serves as the diocese headquarters. Bishop Thomas Ely said after leasing the solar array for five years, the diocese last month was able to purchase the system. “At this point after five years, we were able to purchase the solar array back from All Earth Renewables at a fraction of the cost. Originally it was about a $1 million installation,” Ely said.

The slopeside post-and-beam Hermitage Clubhouse at the private resort offers
a fitness center, pool, bowling alley, movie theater, spa, child-care center, restaurants, ski valet and business center. Photo courtesy of the Hermitage Club

Hermitage finds unique success as private club

By Karen D. Lorentz
WILMINGTON — Southern Vermont’s Hermitage Club at Haystack is kind of in a class by itself. The sole private ski-and-golf community in the Northeast, it is one of just two major U.S. luxury clubs that offer skiing and riding to members. It also offers one of just two six-passenger bubble chairlifts with heated seats in the U.S., the Doppelmayr-manufactured Barnstormer lift, which debuted December 2015 and takes you to the summit in six minutes. (The other heated bubble “six-pack” is a Leitner-Poma built at Okemo in 2014.)
The Hermitage Club offers a winter experience with uncrowded slopes, no lift lines, numerous amenities and VIP treatment. With a history steeped in struggles since the Haystack Ski Area opened in 1964 — bankruptcies and closings included — the growing membership (more members than Montana’s Yellowstone Club) attests to a vision and model that are working.

Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff Photo

Montpelier craftsman bridges 19th, 21st-century tech

Staff writer
MONTPELIER — Jonathan Herz is a master music maker with one foot in the past and one in the present. His musical boxes are a testament to the genius of Swiss timepieces that evolved into tuneful snuff boxes and chiming pocket watches with melody mechanisms in the 17th and 18th centuries. Their refinement led to precision cylinder musical boxes (different from a more conventional “music” box, which might be adorned with a dancing figure, or intended as a jewelry or storage box) made from 1860-’90, capable of playing orchestral scores of popular operetta and classical composers — a lost art that Herz has used 21st-century technology to revive. Cylinder musical boxes were some of the earliest examples of “recorded” music that would lead to the player piano and barrel organ. Then came the cylindrical disk polyphone, the precursor to Thomas Edison’s 1870 phonograph that allowed live music to be recorded and reproduced for the first time.

Rendering by Lavallee Brensinger Architects

Donation forms cornerstone of $22M modernization plan

BRATTLEBORO — Some may have heard of Ronald Read, a stock market-savvy janitor from Brattleboro who passed away in June 2014. After Read’s death, his story quickly made the news. He was well known within his community, a simple man with a simple way of life. Unbeknownst to family and friends, by the time of his death at age 92 he had amassed approximately $8 million in stock holdings and property. Upon his passing he left most of his secret success to facilities he favored in his community.

Photo by Leon Thompson
Franklin County Animal Rescue staff members, from left, Rusty Posner, shelter director; Heather Lang, director of operations; Linda Corwell, vet assistant; and Ashley Hubbard, vet assistant, in their new office space, which will initially focus on spay and neutering services.

Need for animal services one of economics

ST. ALBANS — On Jan. 12, there were still signs of transition at the new Franklin County Animal Rescue clinic: full boxes that needed emptying, empty cabinets for filing and Moe, an “awww”-inspiring rescue dog, healing from a neutering procedure. “Moe is a lover,” said Rusty Posner, Franklin County Animal Rescue shelter director, as she pet Moe. Posner, along with her 10 coworkers and the shelter’s board of directors, are busy heading into 2017 as they complete the move to an additional facility in St.

Photo by Mike Reilly
Jessie Owens recently launched Fulcrum Massage and Bodywork in Burlington.

Burlington massage therapist explores critical importance of movement

By Mike Reilly
BURLINGTON — Fulcrum Massage and Bodywork recently opened in the historic Richardson Building on Church Street, offering a wide range of services. Owner Jessie Owens, a certified massage therapist, practices Swedish, Thai, deep tissue, and prenatal massage, Shiatsu, cupping, myofascial release and kinesiology taping. She is also a student of Bowenwork. Owens called massage an essential component — or fulcrum — of her own overall well-being. She brings a personal, movement-based perspective to her work and said each massage and bodywork treatment is customized for an individual client’s unique needs.

Indoor craft beer event premieres

BURLINGTON — Vermont’s largest winter brewers’ festival premieres on Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Sheraton-Burlington, offering festival-goers samples from more than 75 varieties of Vermont craft beer, ciders, wine and spirits. The state’s first major indoor winter brewers’ festival also offers music, food sampling, workshops and games. “This is a celebration of Vermont-made brews and ciders, as well as wine and spirits, and we have a terrific lineup for the event,” said Paul Apfelbaum, festival co-organizer. “We want to help people shake off the winter blues.

Photo by Noella May PickettDave Morello and Laura Courtemanche in front of their bakery in Mount Holly. Right

Ten years of baking with A Dozen Eggs

By Noella May Pickett
MOUNT HOLLY — Iced sugar cookies aren’t just for the holidays. At A Dozen Eggs Bake Shoppe, located in Mount Holly, owners Laura Courtemanche and Dave Morello are still whipping up holiday-themed sugar cookies and much more. There was no after-holiday break for these bakers. Out from the cold and into a piping hot bakery, Courtemanche, Morello, and their two assistants were working hard on fulfilling an order of meticulously hand-iced snow globe cookies for a client in Los Angeles. With each intricate detail, cookies were quickly transformed from blank slates into little sweet works of art.

Photo by Karen D. LorentzA Killington instructor explains the heel maneuver at lip of a mini halfpipe during a recent snowboarding lesson.

State leads industry in learn-to-ski programs

By Karen D. Lorentz
There’s never been a better time to introduce someone to skiing or snowboarding. January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, and there are special packages — $49 for lift ticket, lesson, equipment rental — available at 12 Vermont mountains that make learning a steal. It’s not just the good price. Instructors have been trained with new ideas about how to teach first-timers in a friendly and helpful way that focuses on them having a good experience. There is better equipment and specially groomed beginner slopes that make learning easier and more fun.