SWANTON VILLAGE —As the sun peeked out and the wind scattered foliage across the village park mid-Friday morning, officials stood in Merchants Row, smiling at hay bales.

Those four officials — Village Manager Reg Beliveau Jr., Village President Neal Speer, economic development coordinator Elisabeth Nance and tree warden Hank Lambert — had spent the morning lining the parking lot here with the bales, aided by local recreation commissioner Betsy Fournier. The team also stacked bales on one side of the nearest crosswalk, creating a makeshift bumpout.

The point of the bales was to temporarily modify the traffic here in the central village — specifically, to slow drivers down. Speeding is a constant problem in the village square, particularly at the crest of the hill where Merchants Row lowers to Depot Street. Vermont Route 78 runs through there, bringing steady and sometimes racing truck traffic through the village.

One might wonder how hay bales could affect those speeders, even temporarily. But drivers visibly slowed during the Messenger’s visit. Some clearly did so to check out the bales, to try to figure out why they were there and why there were people standing around them.

But more drivers seemed to slow as a reaction to the barrier and the seemingly narrowed road. That’s the idea.


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