TICONDEROGA, Ny. - Vermonters weren’t the only ones watching Town Meeting Day results. Across Lake Champlain in Ticonderoga, New York residents and business owners were watching what happened in three Vermont towns issuing an opinion on the Vermont Gas pipeline.
On Tuesday voters in Monkton, Cornwall and Shoreham all approved measures that in some way denounce the pipeline.
While the votes don’t affect the outcome of the pipeline there are companies in New York that would rather see the towns support the pipeline.
“Those votes are non-binding votes and while there are folks voting against it there are folks who are voting for it,” International Paper communications director Donna Wadsworth said.
International Paper owns a paper mill in Ticonderoga. The mill is working with Vermont Gas to extend the pipeline across the lake to its facility and hooking it up to natural gas would save big bucks on energy expenses.
“We spend more on energy than we do on wood and so managing our energy costs is really important to us,” Wadsworth said.
But if the gas pipeline makes it to the mill there are no plans at least for right now to extend it to residents and other businesses.
That means store owners like Jay Fortino won't be able to tap into gas heating. He's ok with that as long as it helps International Paper and the 1200 plus people who have a job in one way or another because of the mill.
“The mill's got to stay. I have relatives employed there. I have relatives that are employed elsewhere that work for the mill,” Fortino said.
Ticonderoga Central Schools school superintendent John McDonald told us about 50 percent of his students have a parent employed because of the mill.
He’d like to see the school eventually hooked up to natural gas too but in the meantime McDonald and most of the community hope the pipeline makes it out of Vermont.
“We're just following the process and we hope to be a customer of Vermont Gas,” Wadsworth said.