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Essex Column

Our local movie mavens strike again, this time with “Zero Dark Thirty” showing this Saturday at the Whallonsburg Grange at 7:30 p.m. This film is about the long hunt for Osama bin Laden and his eventual killing in Pakistan. Although some aspects of the story are somewhat inaccurate, it’s regarded as a pretty good telling of this event. I’m not sure if it’s in the movie, but using satellite photos of the laundry on the household’s clothesline, analysts figured out there were more than the two families they knew about living there. As it turns out, the third family was bin Laden’s.

Last summer’s mild weather greatly increased the local white-footed gopher population, which is the favorite food of Essex’s timber rattlesnakes. The chairman of Plattsburgh State’s herpetology department, Dr. C. Horridus, is predicting an explosion of rattlers this year. Although they don’t appear until the weather warms up, be on the lookout for these poisonous natives. And remember that even the small juveniles can give a lethal bite.

Efforts in Albany to dissolve the Town of Essex are bearing fruit. Governor Cuomo’s initiative to consolidate towns and school districts will eliminate places like Essex and Westport with declining populations and few prospects for future growth. In an unusual and lucrative arrangement, the hamlet was sold off and will become part of Chittenden County, Vermont. The hamlet will be renamed and as part of Vermont will be referred to as a village. Names under consideration are Charlotte West and Deanstown (in honor of former governor Howard Dean). Hamlet residents will be given a year to get green license plates and register to vote in one of Vermont’s 16 political parties. As new Vermonters, hamlet residents will enjoy much lower in-state tuition at UVM and a reduced sales tax rate, although to demonstrate allegiance to their new state, they will be required to learn the state song. Whallonsburg will become the seat of government for the rest of Essex, the northern half of Westport and the outlying sections of Lewis and Willsboro.

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