Essex Column

Before I sit down to write this column, I always read essexnewyork.org for town news and events. This website, maintained and written by Olive Alexander, has all the information you may need about the nuts and bolts of local government, with links to other pertinent sites like the ferry and neighboring towns. This week Ms. Alexander has a piece on STAR tax exemptions for 2013. The STAR program applies only to school taxes and only for your primary residence, but if your income is under $500,000 a year, you are probably eligible for exemption on the first $30,000 of value of your house. If you’re 65 or older, with a 2011 income under $79,050, you may be exempt from taxation on the first $63,000 of value. Check out the website or your assessors for information on how to apply.

Andy Buchanan continues his four part lecture series on the history of American agriculture with a talk next Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Grange on the agricultural roots of the Civil War. Andy is a lecturer at UVM and is just one of several prominent historians who live in Whallonsburg.

Coming up at the Grange on Friday, Feb. 15, is a performance by Vermont’s fabled Bread and Puppet Theater. This is a satirical circus celebrating 50 years of humor and political and social commentary. The show starts at 7 p.m.

I attended the Vermont Farm Show last week, and my favorite exhibit was a display of different sorts of grass hay, all emitting sweet summery aromas. I was not the only person lingering there smiling and inhaling happily. There were also lots of gigantic tractors, high tech maple syrup equipment, talkative researchers and squadrons of teen-age Future Farmers of America in blue corduroy jackets trying to stay out of trouble.

Last week’s heat wave banished ice from the shores of Lake Champlain, and just south of Plattsburgh I saw two bald eagles sitting high in trees, watching the lake patiently while motorists stopped to take pictures of them. In my lifetime, eagles have gone from very rare to almost common, and still provide a thrill when you see that imposing white head.

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