• Rose-colored glasses a good fit for Vermonters Prominent citizens look into crystal ball for new year
    By DAWSON RASPUZZI Staff Writer | December 30,2007
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    ure the economy is tanking, the war in Iraq is dragging on and Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant. But a few Vermonters have peered into the 2008 crystal ball and seen some good news beyond the New Year's post-revelry recovery and the summer release of the new Indiana Jones film.

    Prominent Vermont politicians, meteorologists, musicians, mayors and, yes, snowboarders, paint a rosy picture for the next 12 months.

    If, for example, Gov. James Douglas' speculations are accurate, then we can all sit back, relax and enjoy the New Year. (Note: If you don't want to know what lay ahead for 2008, don't read beyond this point).

    Douglas predicts championship titles for Vermont's Lake Monsters minor league baseball team, its Mountaineers collegiate baseball team and Frost Heaves professional basketball team. (Lake Monsters General Manager C.J. Knudsen does the governor one better by predicting that a future Hall of Famer could join the team's ranks on Centennial Field next spring.)

    As for Douglas' vision for the state, it's politics as usual. "Vermont will make more progress in our efforts to strengthen our economy and make health care and housing more affordable," the governor says.

    Economist Arthur Woolf backs Douglas' forecast for affordable housing.

    "My prediction for 2008 is that housing prices will fall from the level of 2007, which would be the first decrease since 1990," Woolf says.

    U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has high hopes for the new Batman film to be released in July. He doesn't expect critical acclaim for his role in the film, but he's hoping to help fill the coffers of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier with his film earnings.

    In his role from central casting in the Senate, he passes the political baton to the voters.

    "I predict we will have more interest in the presidential elections in this year than we have seen in many, many years," the senator says.

    U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., stays away from political predictions but doesn't mind trying his hand at sports forecasting: "The Celtics will win the NBA title, and the Red Sox will go back to back," winning another World Series.

    U.S. Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., places his bets with two of Vermont's exports: world-class cheese producers and world cup snowboarders. He says that Vermont's artisan cheese industry will "sweep the top honors" in the 2008 American Cheese Society Awards and United States Championship Cheese Contest.

    Sanders has an equally sanguine outlook on Vermont's place in the World Cup circuit: "Vermont snowboarders will again win world championships in snowboarding and this year in skiing on the World Cup circuit, as well."

    Londonderry native and 2002 Olympic snowboarding gold medalist Ross Powers predicts that the Patriots will complete their season undefeated. Powers is also confident that Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow "will be the first mountain in the East to have their superpipe open."

    That prediction has already come true. Okemo announced on Dec. 20, two days after Powers' prediction was made, that its superpipe was open before any of its competitors in the East.

    However, whether December's record-breaking snowfalls will continue is anyone's guess. Sharon Meyer, weather forecaster for WCAX-TV in Burlington, makes no guarantees.

    "Are you kidding me?" she says. "We get stressed out forecasting for one week, never mind a year."

    Some things, like human nature, can in some instances be a little easier to peg. 2008 could bring us what we've all been waiting for: "the comeback year for Britney Spears," according to WJJR-FM morning show host Ed Kelly of Rutland.

    Vermont screenwriter and film director Jay Craven's wish on the other hand is like mission impossible. He hopes the world's politicians "will wake up one morning and instead of spinning and pontificating the news, they will simply report the dreams they had the night before."

    But things are definitely looking up in Rutland. Tim Marceau, executive director at the Paramount Theatre believes that the coming year "will continue to bring sustainable growth to the region through both visual and performing arts. Downtown will continue to see a resurgence of interest from retailers as well as businesses relocating on the upper floors with a new interest in renters actually relocating and living downtown for convenience sake."

    Barre City Mayor Thom Lauzon doesn't want to go much beyond the fact that "January 1st will come." But he has high hopes. "People are all working hard," Lauzon says, "so my prediction for Barre is that good things will happen."

    Rutland City Mayor Chris Louras says it doesn't matter what politicians predict. "I predict that any politician who makes a prediction for 2008 will ultimately be proved wrong in 2009 including me," he says.

    If that's the case, at least we still have the new Indiana Jones release to look forward to.

    Contact Dawson Raspuzzi at dawson.raspuzzi@rutlandherald.com
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