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Vermont Library Board Rejects Proposed Mount Ascutney Name Change

Mount Ascutney in the fall with a covered bridge crossing a body of water.
Barbara Noll
/
Associated Press File
The State of Vermont Board of Libraries voted Tuesday against a proposal to change the name of Mount Ascutney, pictured here in October 2002, to Kaskadenak.

The State of Vermont Board of Libraries voted unanimously Tuesday against a petition to change the name of Mount Ascutney to Kaskadenak, an Abenaki name.It’s up to the State of Vermont Board of Libraries to change the names of geographic sites, such as mountains and ponds, and Hartland resident Rob Hutchins gathered enough signatures to get the proposal on to the board’s agenda.

Hutchins suggested that the mountain be renamed, but board member Josh Fitzhugh said there was widespread opposition to the idea from people who live in the towns of Windsor, West Windsor and Weathersfield — the three towns where the mountain is located.

“When 90 percent of the people who respond out of a thousand people responding say they’re against that change, it shows that there's a lack of public support for the change,” Fitzhugh said. “And to some extent, we don’t set the bar. We sort of ... follow public opinion a little bit in terms of what people would like to do or what they are already doing, and then we recognize the fact of that. So I think in this case, it's just not sufficient support.”

"When 90 percent of the people who respond out of a thousand people responding say they’re against that change, it shows that there's a lack of public support for the change." — Josh Fitzhugh, State of Vermont Board of Libraries

The board’s decision was delayed a little because Hutchins didn’t appear at the hearing, which was held at the Vermont State Library in Barre.

Board chairman Bruce Post was going to delay a vote, but decided to allow the discussion to move forward.

Post said it wasn’t clear whether "Kaskadenak" or "Ascutney" was a more accurate interpretation of the original name of the mountain, and so he allowed the board to vote on the proposed name change.

“I’ve done a lot of work on this. I love naming issues, and I don’t want it to be interpreted as an affront to them that we don’t want to hear from them,” Post said, referring to supporters of the name change. “However, I’m not sure, as I’ve said before, that I would hear anything compelling in the future that would make me change the name, that would convince me that Ascutney is wrongly named from the Abenaki tradition.”

In addition to hearing from the Windsor County towns, the board heard from the Agency of Natural Resources and the state geologist, who also opposed the name change.

A petitioner is allowed to bring a proposal back to the board for another consideration, though it’s not clear if Hutchins plans to raise the issue again before the board.

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