Montpelier officials have recently communicated plans to welcome Afghan families with the Central Vermont Refugee Action Network. That is the organization coordinating the local relocation of families who fled Afghanistan when the United States pulled its military forces out in August 2021. According to the U.S. Department of State, Afghans are considered “allies,” not “refugees.” Over 200 Afghan families are scheduled to relocate to Vermont, and several families have already settled in Montpelier since November 2021. Welcome plans include a city hall event, perhaps in February, so families can meet city leadership. Plans also include acquiring a Pashto language translator and creating a welcome packet with a letter from City Manager Bill Fraser. The packet would also include fruits, nuts, and cooking spices. Additionally, there will be a tour of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library, perhaps the Statehouse, and other introductions to resources. For more information from the state department, go to state.gov/afghanistan-relocation-and-resettlement-update.
February City Council Meetings to Go Remote
Because of the increase in the community transmission of COVID-19, and in accordance with the Vermont S.222 Act, Montpelier City Council meetings will be held via Zoom. Information can be found at montpelier-vt.org. S.222, as enacted, dictates that “during the continued spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the State of Vermont, public bodies should organize and hold open meetings in a manner that will protect the health and welfare of the public while providing access to the operations of government.”
Homelessness Task Force: MyRide Excludes Those Without Cell Phones
The MyRide bus service program, which replaced the old fixed-route transit line, was one of the topics of discussion at the Jan. 19 Homelessness Task Force Committee meeting in Montpelier. Transportation has been a challenge for those experiencing homelessness, it has been said during several meetings. And the MyRide program, the only available public transportation service in Montpelier, is accessed by either booking trips online or by calling 802-223-7287. But what if you don’t have a cell phone? There are very few (if any) pay phones in Montpelier, so how would you call? Information on MyRide can be found at ridegmt.com/myride.
Spice on Snow Festival Goes Remote
This year, unlike winters before COVID-19, the annual Spice on Snow festival happens remotely, on Jan. 29. The festival features a limited schedule, anticipating a follow-up live concert this summer.
The remote festival includes performances by puppet theater group Modern Times Theater, Worcester-area banjoist and songwriter Fern Maddie, the Young Tradition Vermont Youth Commission Ensemble, and the southern Vermont-based old-time band the Slide Grinders. Each group will perform from their own home base, and the school will stream performances online on its Facebook page and website. The Slide Grinders will also be offering instrumental workshops for intermediate musicians. The updated schedule, tickets, and info are available on the school’s website: www.summit-school.org.
—Compiled by Carla Occaso