Spring in our step

.

By Inge Schaefer

Yes, it’s officially spring. This past weekend residents could be seen gently releasing holiday lights from trees, scrubs and lawns, and then yanking up electrical cords frozen in the ground since before Christmas. Others were sweeping road pebbles from the driveway while occasionally looking skyward as a flock of Canada geese flew overhead barking away their joy as warmer temperatures greeted them.

Despite muddy fields, Colchesterites were once again walking their dogs at local parks (we will trust that they are ever vigilant to observe any droppings and to properly dispose of them using the free doggie bags available at each park), while watching their children squealing with joy as they rediscover the park playgrounds. The ice rink was being dismantled at Airport Park on Monday — another good sign that winter is finally over. And park crews were busy sprucing around the soft, wet grounds.

Avoiding frost heaves and pot holes, watching pairs of birds checking out possible nest sites in our yards for the young soon to come, and robins eating every red berry they can find until the ground melts and their favorite food pokes its head out, along with fresh new green sprouts surfacing where the sun shines and the wind is absent . . . yes, it does officially appear to be spring — and how welcome it is.

Before leaving the subject of dogs, their poop and the damage that poop causes our lake, bay, rivers and streams (not to mention the eyesore it is on lawns, bike paths, sidewalks, and roads), may I encourage all pet owners to have two poop bags with them as they walk their animals, including cats and other species — one for their own pet’s poop and one to pick up the poop left behind by inconsiderate, lazy, disrespectful, loser pet owners (too strong? I think not). Even if these people don’t worry about clean waterways, they will know that the rest of us do.

Also, this from our Town Clerk Karen Richard: Dog licenses were due April 1. It is a law and you can be fined, not to mention that the dog could be destroyed. Karen says this is an archaic part of the law, but is still in the law. A licensed dog is one that has had a rabies shot, so this is also a public health issue for all of us.

The license is only $13 for neutered dogs and can be paid by mail (P.O. Box 55). Karen says that last year, 950 dogs were licensed and this year only 703 are wearing a tag. As I walk around my neighborhood of about 45 houses, there must be at least that many dogs here alone. If one of my neighbors does not have a dog, another neighbor has two, so if this area of just three streets is any indication, there are a slew of dogs unaccounted for. So please check if your dog is up to date with its license. Call the clerk’s office if you have any questions — 264-5521.

Some of you who have not licensed your dog probably have also forgotten to file your Homestead Declaration because, according to our clerk, only 2,541 homesteads have filed compared to 4,422 last year. Personally, I think it is absurd that we have to file every single year. You should file once and only again if you sell your property, which would then be the new owner’s responsibility. Nobody listens to me, however, so you would be wise to file before April 15. It will save you money since your property, without a Homestead Declaration, becomes a second home or is taxed at a nonresidential rate, thus subject to higher taxes. Unless you are in a charitable mood, you might want to check the Vermont Department of Taxes website for the form, or stop by the Town Clerk’s office, where the forms are also available.

Some additional spring season announcements from Lisa Halvorsen, one of the good people on the Colchester Conservation Commission. The commission will host its third annual rain barrel workshop on Monday, April 21 at Bibbens ACE Hardware on West Lakeshore Drive beginning at 5:30 p.m. The cost is $30 per rain barrel, but there are only enough supplies for 15 barrels, so only one barrel per household will be available. A storm-water specialist from the Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District will lead the workshop, which is presented in cooperation with the Colchester Public Works Department, and, incidentally, has been very popular in recent years. Register by e-mailing Pamela Loranger, at zatarahinvt@yahoo.com.

Also, from the CCC, a reminder of their “Colchester Blooms” project. An all-volunteer committee plants flowerbeds all over town and the more money they raise, the more flowerbeds they can plant and maintain. Last year they planted 1,500 annuals and perennials at several locations including Bayside Park (a gorgeous display that lasted well into the fall), around the flagpole by Bayview Eats across from the park, within the two traffic circles by the schools, and on Blakely Road. With more money they would be able to adorn other areas. Perhaps you have some spots in mind.

To further beautify our beloved community, another suggestion, that will no doubt go the way of my Homestead tax idea, would be a “Floral Business Award of the Year” challenging businesses to enhance their properties with attractive landscaping. Can you imagine the Exit 16 area with flowers blooming alongside the roadway, or on the slopes on the corner of Watertower Hill, the Severance Corner development, up and down Main Street (like the lovely display by Our Lady of Grace Church and Claussen’s). So many places that would brighten our community. Ah, the dream lives – just not the flowers.

If you wish to help with the Colchester Blooms Project, send your check (and any suggestions) payable to the Colchester-Milton Rotary Charitable Fund with “Colchester Blooms” on the memo line, 162 Jimmo Drive, Suite 2, Colchester, VT 05446. All donations are tax deductible. The flowers will make you smile this summer as you are driving, biking or walking, so do help if you can.

Did you know that this year is the 70th Anniversary of D-Day that occurred on June 6, 1944? It was the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, under General Dwight D. Eisenhower involving nearly 200,000 troops and was a turning point in World War II. It will be remembered by the Vermont National Guard Library and Museum located at Camp Johnson on College Parkway in Colchester on Saturday, June 7. If you have never been to the museum, the open house, with lots of other activities planned for the day, will be a great time to familiarize yourself and the family with the it. The museum displays artifacts from the Revolutionary War through the war in Iraq. The volunteer board and staff are inviting any local veterans of D-Day or WWII to come for a special recognition ceremony that day. The board can be reached at 338-3360, or by email: museumadm@gmail.com. More on this exciting free and open-to-the-public event — right here in Colchester — in the weeks ahead.

Let me know your news: ingevt@comcast.net. Happy Easter and God bless!