Janel Johnson

March Madness, Vermont Style

All over the country, avid basketball fans and casual observers alike are getting ready to fill out
the annual NCAA College Basketball playoff bracket. The goal is to choose the winner of the
national championship from 64 teams that make the playoffs. Serious basketball aficionados
immerse themselves in research on teams and individual players, trying to give themselves an
edge as they call the games. The more casual among us choose the winners in mere minutes,
with no knowledge of the teams, or even basketball, just for fun and hoping for good fortune. In
my own family, one family member in particular has chosen the winners in the past based on
the team mascots, the team songs and the college cafeteria ratings. Basketball brackets are
found at workplaces, with friend groups and in family circles. Some folks compete with the
brackets that their local watering hole provides. Central Vermont’s daily newspaper, the Barre
Montpelier Times Argus, prints a bracket every March that anybody can complete and send in
and try for the $100 prize money. It’s a bit of a national obsession.

Here in Central Vermont, we have our version of March Madness at the Barre Auditorium, or the
Barre Aud as most people call it. The Division II, III and IV girls and boys high school playoffs
are held here every year and it’s a magical time. The bigger high schools, the Division I teams,
have their playoffs in Burlington. But the smaller schools have the opportunity to play in this
older, historic building that feels like it will combust with excitement when a good game is being
played. For many small communities in Vermont, it’s a really big deal if their local high school
team makes it to the championships at the Aud. A town of 500 people may see close to half
their population make the drive to Barre to see their local kids make a run for the state
championship. Homemade banners and signs are everywhere in the stands, and team colors
abound in the clothing choices, painted faces and even hair color of the fans! Lots of hoarse
fans spill out of the building at the end of the games, some more ebullient than others,
depending of course on the outcome. But win or lose, players will always remember their
experience going for the championship at the Aud, where so many have tried before them. If
you can get a ticket, take in a game at the Barre Aud during this championship run, and soak in
the atmosphere of locals going wild for their team. The venue may not be as grand as the
NCAA College stadiums, but the scale of enthusiasm and pride in Vermont basketball in the
month of March will make your heart swell.


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    Frozen Frolics

    February 11th was Amanda Pelkey day in Montpelier as the community celebrated her accomplishment as a member of the 2018 Olympic Women’s hockey team. The city of Montpelier is flying the Olympic flag in front of City Hall throughout the Olympic games to honor her. How cool is that? Amanda grew up in Montpelier and learned to play hockey at the BOR in Barre. She played in a number of youth hockey leagues before graduating from Montpelier High School and then went on to be a hockey star on the Division 1 women’s hockey team at the University of Vermont. Amanda’s exceptional talent, hard work and dedication has now brought her to the Olympics.  Not every kid who plays hockey is going to the Olympics, but most kids in Central Vermont can take advantage of our winter sports paradise in some way. Families can lace up their skates and head to the BOR or the Civic Center in Montpelier, the town offices in Berlin, numerous ponds and lakes that have offer excellent access to skaters, and even the lawn of the State House in Montpelier where there is a postcard-worthy skating rink for all to enjoy.

    Don’t like to skate?  Grab a sled and find a sledding hill (Hubbard Park in Montpelier will do fine!).  Cross country skiers can find numerous places to ski throughout East Montpelier and Calais, and a favorite of many is Morse Farm Ski Touring Center in East Montpelier which has gorgeous, groomed trails and their famous Maple Creemees for an apres ski treat.

    Downhill enthusiasts can find world-renowned ski areas within an hour’s drive of most Central Vermont communities (Stowe and Sugarbush to name two). Putting on a pair of snowshoes after a fresh snowfall and heading to the woods somewhere is a delight. Whether on foot, one of those fat tire bikes, or snowmobiling on the VAST trail system, kids of all ages have seemingly endless ways to frolic in Vermont’s winter wonderland.

    This may be the reason that Vermont has more Winter Olympians per capita than any other state in the Union (at least this year)! So as we celebrate Amanda Pelkey, Mikaela Shiffrin, and the spirit of the Olympics, let’s celebrate that we get to live here! Put on those warm clothes and head outside. I’m ready with my down parka to show you the perfect property!

    Janel Johnson, Agent
    Coldwell Banker Classic Properties


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      Cardamon Latte and Moi

      I got together for coffee today with a wonderful couple from the west coast who purchased a home with me this past fall in Central Vermont. The coffee and pastries were grand, thanks toBirch Grove Bakery! Did you know they serve a malted cardamon latte? It was coffee deliciousness paired with shared scones and croissants.

      Part of our conversation centered around the warm welcome this couple has received since moving here. Cookies and freshly baked bread were brought to their home soon after they moved in.

      C. Michaud Landscape and Lawn Care helped them put the gardens to bed and clean up the yard. Since winter set in, a neighbor has been plowing their driveway for free. Other neighbors have offered their land and trails for walking their dogs.

      They bought a new wood stove at Montpelier Stove and Flag Works (just in time for the sub zero weather!) and loved the customer service they received. They are antique lovers and are thrilled by the abundance of locally owned antique stores in Barre and Montpelier where they have made purchases for their home.

      From caring neighbors to helpful local businesses, central Vermont hit a home run for my former clients. We are all fortunate to live here, surrounded by stunning natural beauty and strong community spirit.

      When I work with buyers, I often hear that they are moving here from out-of-state because they want the Vermont lifestyle, the small towns, the good schools, the great outdoors, the strong arts scene, and most of all, the people. Almost all of the time, they find what they are looking for. And I get great satisfaction from thinking that I helped...


      Janel Johnson

      Coldwell Banker Classic Properties


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        Hut One, Hut Two...Hike!

        For most of the fall my husband Ken and our dog Gus have hiked the length of Vermont on the Long Trail in four-day increments.

        I dropped them off for the first time north of Jay Peak, at the Canadian border, and retrieved them for the final time in Williamstown, just over the Massachusetts border. Ken and Gus started their hike in Jay with mild temperatures in the 80s and sunny blue skies. The splendor of Vermont’s fall foliage season was in full display on their first morning and followed them as they wound their way south on the trail.

        Stunning mountain views, cloud forests, and clear streams and waterfalls were daily experiences. But not even these prepared them for the wild blueberries they found on one of their mountain tops that delayed them for several hours!

        Evenings were spent around a campfire with other overnight hikers before sleeping in huts built and maintained by the Green Mountain Club.

        It was pouring rain when I picked Ken up in Massachusetts, but his spirit was not dampened. He and Gus had experienced the majesty of Vermont from miles and miles of its highest ridges.

        Hiking the entire Long Trail is not for everyone, but most anyone can experience a portion of it within a reasonably short drive of your home, especially if you live in Central Vermont.  As if one needs yet another reason to buy real estate in Vermont...!"



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