News in Brief: Retail cannabis prevails; Middlebury ratifies Ripton’s withdrawal from ACSD

By Lucy Townend and Jack Summersby

Benjy Renton
The town of Middlebury held an informational meeting on Feb. 22 via Zoom to explain each article on the ballot and field any questions before voting on March 2.

All articles were approved at Middlebury’s Town Meeting on March 2nd, including a provision allowing retail cannabis stores in Middlebury and a victory for Middlebury Residential Director Esther Thomas. The articles were approved by Australian ballot instead of by the typical voice-vote due to the rising prevalence of Covid-19. 

“My fellow Middlebury residents spoke loud and clear at the polls today, welcoming the downtown economic development boost and public safety benefits that regulated cannabis retailers will bring to our town,” High Bailiff David Silberman said. 

Silberman was a leader in the Vote Yes Movement, which advocated for Middlebury to opt-in to retail cannabis stores as part of Vermont’s Act 164. The measure, Article 3 on the ballot, was approved 951–546. 

The ballot also included a vote to ratify Ripton’s decision to withdraw from the Addison Central School District (ACSD) to create its own independent school district. This measure passed in all six ACSD towns — including Middlebury — meaning that the withdrawal will now be considered by the State Board of Education. 

Ripton resident Amy McGlashan, who serves as a director at the Middlebury Center for Careers & Internships, was a leading voice against Ripton’s departure from the ACSD. While disappointed, McGlashan was largely expecting the outcome. 

 “I was hopeful but not optimistic,”  she said. “I certainly hope for [Ripton’s] success, but remain highly skeptical that an independent Ripton district will best meet the educational needs of our disadvantaged and most vulnerable students.” 

Thomas prevailed over Andy Hooper for the contested selectboard seat 812–633, meaning she will serve on the selectboard for at least the next year. Incumbents ran unopposed for the remaining seats, which included two additional selectboard seats won by Lindsey Fuentes-George and Farhad Khan. 

The remaining items on the ballot, including the budget and tax collection days, were also approved by wide margins.