Vermont man puts up giant middle finger amid feud with town over building permit

A Vermont man feuding with local officials over repeated denials for a building permit made his fury known in the form an illuminated 700-pound wooden middle finger. Ted Pelkey, 54, a business owner, told Boston.com that the Development Review Board of Westford has repeatedly denied his request for a building permit to construct an 8,000 … Continue reading “Vermont man puts up giant middle finger amid feud with town over building permit”

A Vermont man feuding with local officials over repeated denials for a building permit made his fury known in the form an illuminated 700-pound wooden middle finger.

Ted Pelkey, 54, a business owner, told Boston.com that the Development Review Board of Westford has repeatedly denied his request for a building permit to construct an 8,000 square-foot garage on his property.

“I’ve been put through the wringer by these people, and it’s just not right,” he said. “I’m not trying to cause hate and animosity to the people who live in that town, because there’s very good people in that town.”

Officials said the proposal doesn’t meet the town’s standards, but Pelkey thinks they’re biased against him.

“I was sitting at a bar and said to my wife, ‘Hey, I want to get a statue made of a middle finger, and I’m going to put it up on the lawn,'” he told Boston.com in an interview.

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

Commissioning the structure – which was completed Nov. 30 and sits atop a 16-foot pole on his front lawn – costs $4,000, Pelkey said, adding he initially expected to be forced to take it down.

Billboards are banned in Vermont, but because the giant middle finger sculpture isn't being used as an advertising tool, it can stay, according to the Vermont Agency of Transportation.

“Although the structure is visible from a state highway, it is outside of the State Right of Way and not within our jurisdiction,” Jacqui DeMen, a spokeswoman for the agency, told Boston.com in an email. “The structure does not meet the statutory definition of ‘sign’ and thus can’t be regulated under the Vermont Billboard Law.”

Instead, the finger is considered public art.

Pelkey has tried to get approval to build the garage on his property for over a decade to possibly work out of instead of driving 25 miles each way to the repair shop he runs with his son.

“You can get out of bed in the morning, take your coffee, walk across the driveway, and go to work,” he said. “What would you want to do?”

Pelkey's most recent application was denied because it lacked information about building purpose and lighting.

He is appealing the decision.

Climate watchdog Bernie Sanders spent nearly $300G on private air travel in October: reports

Bernie Sanders is so concerned about climate change that he spent nearly $300,000 on private air travel in October so he could speak to audiences in nine battleground states prior to November's midterm elections.

The independent U.S. senator from Vermont also used the opportunity to test the waters for a potential 2020 presidential run, according to reports.

Sanders’ 2018 campaign committee issued an Oct. 10 payment of $297,685 to New York-based Apollo Jets, a charter jet company used by retired sports stars Derek Jeter and Shaquille O’Neal, according to federal campaign reports obtained by VTDigger.org, a watchdog news site in Vermont.

“This expense was for transportation for the senator’s nine-day, nine-state tour to support Democratic candidates up and down the ballot ahead of Election Day,” said Arianna Jones, senior communications adviser for Friends of Bernie Sanders.

“This cost covered the entirety of the tour from Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Carolina, Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, California, and back to Vermont,” Jones continued. “The senator participated in 25 events.”

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Jones said the charter jets were necessary so Sanders could campaign for candidates and get back to Vermont to join the state Democratic Party's campaign efforts.

The Sanders campaign purchased nearly $5,000 in carbon offsets to balance out the emissions produced from the travel. A carbon offset is a reduction in emissions to compensate for emissions elsewhere.

Sanders has been vocal about the need to curb the effects of climate change, calling it the “single greatest threat facing our planet.”

The same day his campaign paid Apollo Jets, Sanders called climate change a "planetary crisis" in a tweet.

"Climate change is a planetary crisis. Our task is clear. We must take on the fossil fuel industry that’s largely responsible for global emissions and accelerate our transition toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy sources,” Sanders wrote.

“He wanted to go where he thinks he can be helpful in energizing the base and bringing in young people and independent voters and working-class voters who supported him,” said Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ 2016 campaign manager and longtime political adviser.

The campaign also paid $13,500 to Virginia-based travel agency Metropolitan Travel at the end of September.

In July 2017, the Sanders campaign paid $37,567 to Apollo Jets, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

During the 2016 presidential election, Sanders spent $5.2 million on private jet services in a six-month period from the end of 2015 to mid-2016.

Vermont colonel forced to resign after flying F-16 to meet love interest: report

The former commander of the Vermont Air National Guard was forced to resign in 2015 after flying an F-16 fighter jet to a work meeting in Washington, D.C., that doubled as a romantic rendezvous, according to a report.

Col. Thomas Jackman – whose aviator callsign was reportedly "Snatch" – had been exchanging flirtatious emails with an unidentified Army colonel who worked at the Pentagon for two months before they arranged to meet in January 2015, when he would be in town for a work conference, according to the report by local Vermont website VTDigger, which cited three former Guard members with knowledge of the incident.

Jackman, who was married at the time, told the outlet that he was not involved with the female Army colonel. He reportedly declined to comment on whether the trip forced him to retire.

Jackman, 55, the commander of the 158th Fighter Wing, reportedly used his authority to fly an F-16 nearly 500 miles from Burlington to Andrews Air Force Base, located just outside Washington D.C.

When bad weather forced the base to shut down the runway the morning of the trip, Jackman wrote to the woman that he would possibly fly to Langley Air Force Base instead. It was unclear where he landed, the report said.

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In a statement to the website, 1st Lt. Mikel Arcovitch, the Guard’s media spokesman, said it’s “not common practice” for pilots to fly fighter jets to work conferences.

However, "when it has occurred, pilots conduct training and complete annual requirements to and from the conference location," he added.

Members of the 158th Fighter Wing Maintenance Squadron train in Alpena Michigan. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by A1C Jon Alderman)

The Air Force and Vermont Air National Guard did not immediately respond to Fox News requests for comment.

The hourly operating cost of the F-16 is about $8,000, according to the Department of Defense. It was not immediately clear if Jackman was required to reimburse the Guard for flying the plane.

Though Jackman stayed on the base the night after the conference, he also booked hotel rooms in Alexandria, Va., and Washington D.C. for stays on the 27th and 29th of January, the site reports.

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Guard leadership somehow got wind of the trip and ordered him home on a commercial flight, the report said. Another pilot retrieved the jet.

Jackman, whose 32-year military career included two tours each in Iraq and Afghanistan, was pressed to step down and given advanced notice so he could retire with full benefits, the report said. He was reportedly allowed to keep his security clearance.

Vermont’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Steven Cray said rank and file servicemembers had lost confidence in the colonel's leadership.

Jackman now works as a postmaster for the U.S. Postal Service in Vermont.