Stuck in Vermont: How Not to Get Stuck in the Mud in East Barnard with John Leavitt and The Crier | Stuck in Vermont | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Stuck in Vermont: How Not to Get Stuck in the Mud in East Barnard with John Leavitt and The Crier

Episode 662


Published April 7, 2022 at 7:30 a.m.
Updated April 13, 2022 at 5:42 p.m.

East Barnard is a small village where most people know each other, and this time of year it is invariably surrounded by mud. Dirt roads stretch five miles in any direction from the center of town, and they all turn to a soupy mess during the spring. Across the state, this mud season has been one for the record books, with many people getting stuck. The road conditions are so treacherous that many tow trucks are having trouble traversing the ruts. And in East Barnard, there is no cell service, so you have to walk to your neighbor's house to ask for help.

An e-newsletter called The East Barnard Village Crier compiles and shares posts from residents with detailed descriptions of the status of the roads and advice for getting in and out of town safely. Started by Virginia Schlabach around 2006, The Crier also shares info about community events and signs of spring, helping locals stay connected throughout the year. But mud season is when The Crier is most essential. Reports go out daily — and sometimes several times a day — to about 200 people, some of whom are former residents. Virginia passed away in 2019, and her daughter, Sue Schlabach, took over The Crier, upgrading it to Mailchimp. This spring The Crier has been in overdrive, keeping residents in the know about which route is the best one to take.

Eva met up with Sue and her brother, Fred Schlabach, in South Royalton. Eva’s Prius never would have made the trip into East Barnard, so Fred gave them a lift in his truck over the deeply mucky Broad Brook Road. The trio visited residents such as John Leavitt and Fran Carbino to find out what makes their town and newsletter so unique during this memorable mud season.

Filming date: 3/27/22

This episode of Stuck in Vermont was supported by New England Federal Credit Union.