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Paper Trail 

Around the State in Seven Days

Obscure Objects of Desire It’s a bad sign when we start stealing things we are not quite sure we really want: Right now state police are looking for an older-model black-and-silver Ford truck that was spotted pushing a portable toilet down Route 111 in Morgan. The potty belongs to Taplin’s of Derby, and has been performing a public service at a local fishing access. Trout season will someday reopen, and they want it back.

In what we fervently hope is an unrelated incident, a black-and-gray miniature poodle was stolen, along with some jewelry, in nearby Barton. The poodle answers to “Demmie” and was last seen wearing a pink collar and a black-and-red checkered coat.

— The Barton Chronicle, March 14 & 21

Winning Words Limericks are the Cheetos of the literary world — once you start writing them, it’s difficult to stop. A recent poetry contest proves this in spades: Out of dozens of entries there is a clear victor in the 13-to-14-year-old category from Nicole Morse of Weybridge, who displays a wonderful grasp of the freeze-thaw cycle.

In Vermont there’s a creek called the Otter

Which is frozen until it is hotter.

Then it generally goes,

Down the hill as it flows,

That’s the commonest action of water.

— Addison Independent, March 15

Calling It Quits Town meeting is history, but Walden is having trouble retaining some of its elected officials. At a recent emergency meeting of the select board, Joanne Foster quit after serving as town clerk since 1987, and Sylvia Richard, lister, also announced her resignation.

Lorraine Cochran then took the floor to defend herself against “many rampant rumors,” and was followed by Aaron Cochran, second constable, who enumerated the many miles and hours he has devoted to the municipal cause. He then asked for an apology from Foster, though it’s not clear what for. She gave it, but he turned his badge in anyway.

In short, everyone seems to be unusually grumpy with everyone else on the Walden select board. Replacements have been named, but only time will tell if the appointments are going to stick.

— Hardwick Gazette, March 14

What’s in a Name? Thirty years have passed since a woman served on the Stowe Select Board, which has caused titular problems for newly elected Helen Beckerhoff. Will the local paper refer to her as selectman, selectwoman, selectperson or selector?

Inquiries revealed that there is no consensus on how to handle the title in a gender-neutral way: The Rutland Herald uses “selectwoman” for females, while the Brattleboro Reformer uses “selectman” to designate officials of either gender. In Massachusetts, “selectman” is an official title, enshrined in state law, but there is no similar fiat in Vermont. When consulted, Secretary of State Deb Markowitz made a virtue of the obvious by wondering aloud, “Why don’t you ask Helen?”

They did, and she doesn’t care. “Call me whatever you want,” Beckerhoff said amiably. “The important thing is that I’m on the board.” The final editorial call on this issue is that she will be a selectwoman most of the time, except when the rather long word won’t fit in a headline; then she’ll be a selectman. “And,” the editor clarifies, “we’ll call her Helen when we meet her on the street.”

— Stowe Reporter, March 15

The Small Print Vermont’s headlines have turned curiously pedestrian lately, but photo captions are getting wild. Found under a picture of a smiling man holding an object that might have been designed by Dr. Seuss: “Terry Prue, the owner of Glass Medics in Newport, holds an object that he picked up at a yard sale a few years ago for 25 cents. Ever since then he has been trying to figure out what it is. He hasn’t had any luck. Many people have taken guesses, Mr. Prue said, but he hasn’t found anybody who has been able to give him a firm answer.”

The object in question looks like a doubtful union between a clarinet and a hedge trimmer, gussied up with nozzles and dials. Some people think it’s some type of homemade musical instrument, while others have speculated that it might be a farm implement, such as some type of sprayer. If anybody has any idea what it is or would like to study it closer, Mr. Prue can be reached at his business at 344-1461, or the object can be seen at his business on Derby Road.

— The Barton Chronicle, March 21

Cracked Up The Montshire Museum in Norwich will hold its fourth annual “Egg Drop” on Saturday. The event encourages participants to send raw chicken eggs plummeting off the second-floor balcony onto the atrium floor below, and the winner, if that is the right word, is the person who can build a container so the egg won’t break.

The folks at the Montshire will tell you this is all very educational and has something to do with physics, but the truth is that it has been a long, hard winter and we need something naughty to do. The museum staff provides the cackleberries and then cleans up the mess — call it “eggstra” effort.

— Bradford Journal Opinion, March 21

Mr. Thunderbird High school student Matt Lasher took the 2001 Mr. Thunderbird title in Swanton not long ago. For this annual event the all-male contestants put on a fashion show, a formal-wear show and a dance competition; they also offer up a talent show and “beach scene,” which is probably a nice way of saying the guys are scantily clad.

This must be one of those gender equity things, but certain questions linger. The name, for instance. Does the Thunderbird title mean he gets to ride on one and wave in the Memorial Day parade?

— Franklin County Courier, March 8

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