Thursday December 15, 2011

So, This is what was going on, on  the other side of the mountain!




By Chris Braithwaite

LOWELL — Monday’s rising sun revealed a row of 13 cars and pickups parked beside the Bailey Hazen Road, a class four extension of the road that leads from Albany Village to the farmof Don and Shirley Nelson. Carol Irons said she had been there since 4:40 a.m., building and tending the big bonfire that kept coffee hot for the people who had gathered, once again, to climb Lowell Mountain and protest the wind project Green Mountain Power (GMP) is building there. Two of the protesters, she reported, had taken bear costumes up with them. As we talked, her two-way radio reported that theprotesters were on the construction site, and one of them had just stepped in front of a bulldozer. I decided against my ninth climb up the mountain. It seemed pretty clear that the protesters were planning to get arrested. If I stepped onto the site to take notes and pictures, I would probably be arrested — again. It isn’t clear how arrestees who returned to the construction site would be treated, but there is a concern that they will be held in jail until they can be arraigned in court. A week earlier, they — and I— had simply been driven to the State Police barracks in Derby, photographed, printed and released. So I left, after learning that Ms. Irons has resumed the hunger strike she began to protest the project. She said she’s feeling pretty good.

I hadn’t been at the office long when Dorothy Schnure called. She does public relations for GMP. There were protesters at the wind site, Ms. Schnure told me, and if I showed up at 10:30 I could get a ride up the mountain. Workers and invited guests reach the site from a big staging area just off Route 100 south of Lowell Village, driving up a new 2.5-mile road that winds up the west side of the mountain. I arrived in time to catch the safety lecture delivered by a polite young employee of Reed & Reed, Inc., the general contractor on the project. I learned, to my surprise, that any visitor could halt work on the project if he or she saw an unsafe situation. I learned, to my dismay, that steel toed boots were required footwear. I’d worn ordinary hiking boots, but that didn’t seem to worry my hosts, David Coriell and Robert Dostis of GMP. They did insist, however, that  the visiting press wear the blue hardhats and bright orange vests they provided.

Before we set out my hosts told me that the protesters had held up some construction traffic for an hour or two and then disappeared. There would be no confrontation with police that morning. I was already wearing my hardhat, so up the mountain we went in Mr. Dostis’ small SUV with fourwheel drive. We stopped here and there along the way, and from one of the highest turbine sites in the project admired the view to the east, all across Orleans County, to the turbines of the wind project in Sheffield. If the project remains on schedule — Mr. Dostis said it is on schedule, despite the protesters’ best efforts — a year from now the towers of Lowell and Sheffield will be waving to each other over a distance of about 20 miles. At one stop along the crane path that will snake about four miles along the ridgeline, Mr. Dostis told me to be sure and call him whenever I want to visit the site. If I wanted to come up the long, steep trail from the east, the one the protesters use, he said, he would have Mr. Coriell meet me at the top with a vest and a hard hat. That would presumably make an invited guest of me, and avoid the need for any further arrests. When I got back to the office, there was an e-mail from one of the organizers of the protests:

“No press covering the protest this morning, despite efforts to get some to come. The people got cold and left before the cops came.” Under the circumstances, that’s about all I can tell you about what happened on Lowell Mountain on Monday morning.


One comment on “Thursday December 15, 2011

  1. joyce jones says:

    Good morning Mountain Occupiers and Lovers of Nature,,,I want to share this Beautiful quote with you…because it is for all of us…
    To lovers of the wild, these mountains are not a hundred miles away. Their spiritual power and the goodness of the sky make them near, as a circle of friends. … You cannot feel yourself out of doors; plain, sky, and mountains ray beauty which you feel. You bathe in these spirit-beams, turning round and round, as if warming at a camp-fire. Presently you lose consciousness of your own separate existence: you blend with the landscape, and become part and parcel of nature.
    John Muir (1838 – 1914)….

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