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The Valley Reporter
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Waitsfield, VT 05673

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Harwood woodchip plant dedication


 Harwood Union will celebrate the addition of its new woodchip boiler facility on October 2, at 5 p.m. behind the school.

School representatives invited community members to attend the ceremony that recognizes "our commitment to be both environmentally and fiscally responsible."

The dedication will honor the student leaders who initiated an energy efficiency lighting retrofit and will host students, staff, school board members as well as state representatives and Governor Jim Douglas.

The 1,200-square-foot building is currently being constructed outside the maintenance receiving area on the east side of the school to house the woodchip heating system and chip storage.

Once the facility is completed, school board members anticipate burning 850 tons of woodchips, according to recent meeting minutes.                

Harwood Union Principal Duane Pierson reported, "After a long series of negotiations, permit filing and applying for the 90 percent construction reimbursement from the Department of Education, work has begun and is expected to be completed by the 2008-2009 heating season.

"The construction project will utilize some of the parking areas behind the school and may at times affect the traffic flow around the school," he continued.

Voters approved the $1.68 million project for the South Duxbury school in November 2006. Harwood opted to put the initiative on the November ballot in order to take advantage of a state program that pays for 90 percent of construction costs.

The remaining 10 percent of the cost, about $168,000, is the school's responsibility.

The debt could be paid off in a few years without "any net impact on the tax rate," by using the money saved in heating expenses -- expected to be about $50,000 annually -- to cover the local share of the capital cost, school board member Scott Mackey said in the weeks leading up to the vote.

The project has been touted as a way for the school to save on heating costs as well as reduced dependence on foreign oil and boost the local economy.



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