The town of Hinesburg is facing an uncertain future after the Saputo Cheese Factory announced it will not reopen. Select Board members held an emergency meeting, Wednesday evening, to discuss what the closure means for the town revenue and plans to upgrade the town's wastewater treatment plant.
Residents are set to vote on a Nov. 4 ballot measure asking voters to approve a bond to upgrade and expand the town's wastewater treatment facility. The expansion is needed because of the factory and the bond would be repaid in part by the factory. Without operations continuing at the factory, town leaders are unsure of the expansion is needed or affordable.
"We don't understand really what will happen to the revenue stream," said Select Board Chairman Jonathan Trefry.
Part of the problem is that the Montreal-based Saputo has not yet told the town what it plans to do with the property. Town Administrator Jeanne Wilson told the Select Board that she specifically asked Saputo if it plans to sell the property and if it has a buyer lined up.
"I did not get an answer to that," she said.
Saputo did say it is working first to take care of its employees. Eighty full-time employees have been offered jobs at other Saputo plants.
"I think it's a tragedy, it really is," said Charlotte resident, Amy Enos, upon hearing news of the closing. "A lot of people from this town depended on Saputo for employment and I really hope that these people can make it through this tough time."
Saputo says it was already thinking about closing the plant before the fire caused millions of dollars in damage. The company also mentioned today that it received a bill for $542,000 for firefighting and hazmat services. The town wonders if that bill is the straw that broke the camel's back and finalized the decision for Saputo.
Wilson spent much of Wednesday on the phone trying to figure out a future for the plant. The Vermont Department of Agriculture told her it is asking other dairy processors if they are interested in buying the facility. Wilson also spoke with several other companies that have previously expressed interest in moving to Hinesburg.
"It's an important piece of real estate in the center of a village in Chittenden County and I think there could be a lot of interest," said Trefry of the property.
It's not the long-term future this town is worried about but the short term as 80 people look for new jobs, and the local government tries to operate with uncertain revenues.
Monday, December 9 2013 10:56 AM EST2013-12-09 15:56:13 GMT
An Enfield, New Hampshire man is dead. And a Killington driver has been charged in connection with the death. It happened Saturday night on the Killington Road. Police say 26-year-old Kyle Wilson wentMore >>
An Enfield, New Hampshire man is dead. And a Killington driver has been charged in connection with the death. More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 10:49 AM EST2013-12-09 15:49:40 GMT
Icy conditions may have contributed to a fatal accident Monday morning in Burlington involving a school bus and a car.It happened on the beltline just south of the intersection of Plattsburgh Avenue. PoliceMore >>
Police say the victim was in the car. The students and driver of the bus are reportedly uninjured.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 10:28 AM EST2013-12-09 15:28:19 GMT
Burlington Police are looking for two suspects involved in an assault and robbery.It happened on Front Street Sunday afternoon. The victim told police he was held up at gunpoint by two African AmericanMore >>
Burlington Police are looking for two suspects involved in an assault and robbery.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 9:37 AM EST2013-12-09 14:37:21 GMT
An American singer with Vermont ties is making waves with her music halfway across the globe. Jennifer Grout has emerged as the unlikely singing sensation on the overseas reality show Arabs Got Talent. UnlikelyMore >>
An American singer with Vermont ties is making waves with her music halfway across the globe.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 9:29 AM EST2013-12-09 14:29:05 GMT
Usually the Lake Placid Volunteer Ambulance Service is busy saving lives or responding to emergencies. But right now, members are selling Christmas trees to raise money for the finishing touches on theirMore >>
Many different groups sell Christmas trees this time of year to raise money for their organization. And for the third year, that includes an ambulance service.More >>
Monday, December 9 2013 9:26 AM EST2013-12-09 14:26:04 GMT
This year's Gift of Life marathon is set for December 17, and organizers in Rutland have their sights set on knocking off the Manchester, New Hampshire's one-day record with 1,968 pints. Here with anMore >>
We have an update on the preparations for Rutland's big Gift of Life Marathon later this month.More >>