GMO bill splits local legislators by party

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Wheat at Butterworks Farm in Westfield is grown organically, with no genetic modifications.  Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

Wheat at Butterworks Farm in Westfield is grown organically, with no genetic modifications. Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

copyright the Chronicle May 21, 2014

by Bethany M. Dunbar

Orleans County farmers and consumers won’t be immediately affected by Vermont’s first-in-the-nation passage of legislation requiring labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients.

The legislation allows two years for the rulemaking process, and potential challenges are brewing in the courts and in Congress in the meantime.

“I’m really proud of Vermont as a state,” said Jack Lazor of Butterworks Farm in Westfield, a leader in the organic farming movement. He said he has always thought those who like genetically modified organisms (GMOs) ought to be happy to include them on their labels.

“Well, if it’s that safe, label it and be proud of it,” he said.

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Kilmartin won’t seek re-election

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Duncan Kilmartin.

Duncan Kilmartin.

copyright the Chronicle May 14, 2014

by Paul Lefebvre

Duncan Kilmartin will not seek re-election to the Vermont House.

In a farewell address to members of the House last week, Mr. Kilmartin did not explain his decision to step down, preferring instead to thank legislators for their prayers and thoughts for his wife, Gail, who is known to be ill.

Mr. Kilmartin, a Newport attorney, was known for his biting wit and his elocution skills.

“He was never at a loss for words,” recalled his friend and running mate, Michael Marcotte of Coventry.

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Brighton receives award for Town Hall renovations

Joel Cope offers thanks on behalf of the people of Brighton to the Preservation Trust of Vermont.  The town’s administrative assistant accepted recognition for one of ten outstanding contributions in the field of historic preservation at the 2014 Vermont Preservation and Downtown Conference, on May 2.  The conference was held in Island Pond, at the newly restored Town Hall.  Mr. Cope was praised for raising $600,000 in grant funds to make the restoration possible.  Watching him as he speaks were Melinda Gervais-Lamoureux, chairman of the Brighton Selectmen, Paul Bruhn, who heads the Preservation Trust of Vermont, and Jay Ancel of Black River Design, the architects for the project.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

Joel Cope offers thanks on behalf of the people of Brighton to the Preservation Trust of Vermont. The town’s administrative assistant accepted recognition for one of ten outstanding contributions in the field of historic preservation at the 2014 Vermont Preservation and Downtown Conference, on May 2. The conference was held in Island Pond, at the newly restored Town Hall. Mr. Cope was praised for raising $600,000 in grant funds to make the restoration possible. Watching him as he speaks were Melinda Gervais-Lamoureux, chairman of the Brighton Selectmen, Paul Bruhn, who heads the Preservation Trust of Vermont, and Jay Ancel of Black River Design, the architects for the project. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle May 7, 2014

by Joseph Gresser

ISLAND POND — The renovation of the Brighton Town Hall was among ten projects recognized for outstanding contributions in the field of historic preservation at the 2014 Vermont Preservation and Downtown Conference Friday.

A sizeable contingent of Vermont’s historical preservation community gathered in the Town Hall in the center of Island Pond on May 1 to discuss shared interests and plan for further projects.

The annual event is presented in a different community each year. In odd numbered years it is hosted by the state Department of Housing and Community Development, in even numbered ones, by the Preservation Trust of Vermont (PTV).

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Weather problems drive up beef prices sharply

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Bob Butterfield’s son, Ethan, is pictured with his seven-month-old heifer, Chloe, on one of the Spring Hill Angus farms, in Barton.  Chloe was an embryo transplant calf, or “E.T.” for short.  Her egg was taken from a top-ranking heifer.  Chloe is off to Randolph, New York, soon, to be auctioned at the New York State Angus Association sale.  Her genetics make her a desirable purchase, Mr. Butterfield said.  Someone from Montana has already expressed interest.  Photos by Natalie Hormilla

Bob Butterfield’s son, Ethan, is pictured with his seven-month-old heifer, Chloe, on one of the Spring Hill Angus farms, in Barton. Chloe was an embryo transplant calf, or “E.T.” for short. Her egg was taken from a top-ranking heifer. Chloe is off to Randolph, New York, soon, to be auctioned at the New York State Angus Association sale. Her genetics make her a desirable purchase, Mr. Butterfield said. Someone from Montana has already expressed interest. Photos by Natalie Hormilla

copyright the Chronicle May 7, 2014

by Natalie Hormilla

BARTON — The price of beef in most stores is at a record high, and the price of locally raised beef is getting higher, too.

The average price of a pound of ground beef in most U.S. states hit almost $3.70 for the month of March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index (CPI).

That average price was up from $3.55 in February and $3.47 in January. In March of 2013, it was $3.33; four years ago, it was $2.24.

Just like in the rest of the country, shoppers at the C&C Supermarket in Barton have been wondering why the prices have been so high lately.

“We had a sign over the meat department for three months, stating why we had higher beef prices,” said Ray Sweeney, who works in the meat department at the C&C. “Just to kind of explain ourselves.”

“People were asking a lot,” he said.

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Vermont sugarmakers turn to birch syrup

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Darrell Bussino (left) and Bucky Shelton have started a new kind of sugaring venture.  They’re making birch syrup, which had a retail price last year of $78 a quart.  Photo by Jeremy Dean

Darrell Bussino (left) and Bucky Shelton have started a new kind of sugaring venture. They’re making birch syrup, which had a retail price last year of $78 a quart. Photo by Jeremy Dean

by Tena Starr

copyright the Chronicle April 30, 2014

GLOVER — A pair of Glover men may have found a new way to get money from trees — birch trees.

Longtime maple sugarmaker Bucky Shelton and a friend, Darrell Bussino, have teamed up and are making birch syrup. Its retail price is around $300 a gallon, and about the only significant source of it in the world, right now, is Alaska, which sells as much as it can make.

“It was an idea conceived by Darrell and I,” Mr. Shelton said on Monday. “He had an asset in some white birch, and I’d had this in the back of my mind.”

His daughter lives in Alaska, so he was aware of the birch syrup industry there, where he recently paid $20 for eight ounces at an Anchorage farmers market.

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Railroad car derails in Barton

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Above, a workman guides the operator of a crane as he sets a derailed railroad car onto a new set of wheels. The car went off the rails in Barton Friday evening because of a faulty bearing. Just setting it back on the tracks was not an option, so a special crane was brought in from Maine to help with repairs. By Tuesday afternoon, the damaged car had been taken to Orleans and the railroad was back in business. Photo by Joseph Gresser

Above, a workman guides the operator of a crane as he sets a derailed railroad car onto a new set of wheels. The car went off the rails in Barton Friday evening because of a faulty bearing. Just setting it back on the tracks was not an option, so a special crane was brought in from Maine to help with repairs. By Tuesday afternoon, the damaged car had been taken to Orleans and the railroad was back in business. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle April 23, 2014 

by Joseph Gresser

BARTON — Faulty bearings caused a railroad car loaded with pulp logs to leave the tracks as it crossed May Farm Road here on Friday evening. The northbound train that it was attached to continued on for about 100 yards until the coupling came undone and the brake line separated, said Selden Houghton, assistant vice-president of Vermont Rail System, who was on hand Monday and Tuesday to oversee repairs. Continue reading

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Nelsons and GMP reach settlement

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Shirley and Don Nelson at their home in July of 2013.  Photo by Chris Braithwaite

Shirley and Don Nelson at their home in July of 2013. Photo by Chris Braithwaite

copyright the Chronicle April 16, 2014

by Bethany M. Dunbar

LOWELL — Don and Shirley Nelson have reached a settlement with Green Mountain Power that says the power company will pay them $1.3-million for their home and 540 acres of their farm.

The couple has up to two years to stay in their home and will keep 35 acres of the property on the Albany side of the town line.

The Nelsons said in a statement that they intend to “move from their farm to a location well away from the turbines.”

They said the place has been in the family for 72 years.

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The Legislature this week: House raises minimum wage to $10.10

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David Mealiea and Anna Dirkse, both of Burlington, were two of four singing pickets who stood outside the State House in March, in support of raising the minimum wage.  “We fight for human rights so all can be free,” they sang.  Photo by Paul Lefebvre

David Mealiea and Anna Dirkse, both of Burlington, were two of four singing pickets who stood outside the State House in March, in support of raising the minimum wage. “We fight for human rights so all can be free,” they sang. Photo by Paul Lefebvre

copyright the Chronicle April 9, 2014

by Paul Lefebvre

MONTPELIER — Vermont is going to increase its hourly minimum wage.

Vermont legislators generally agreed that it was the right and ethical thing to do.

But when, and by how much, is still hanging in the air.

Under a House bill that won preliminary approval Tuesday, next year on January 1, 2015, a minimum wage worker could see his or her weekly pay check jump by roughly $40.

That’s the result of an increase in the minimum wage going from $8.73 to $10.10 an hour.

“Forty dollars in your pocket is not a theory,” said Representative Tom Stevens of Waterbury, speaking in the urgent tone of legislators who wanted to make a change.

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“Maker space” seeks inventors

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Left to right are Thomas Bishop, Greg Shoppe, and Jim Schenck.  The three are starting a “maker space,” an inventors’ and machinists’ club, in Lyndonville.  Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

Left to right are Thomas Bishop, Greg Shoppe, and Jim Schenck. The three are starting a “maker space,” an inventors’ and machinists’ club, in Lyndonville. Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

copyright the Chronicle April 2, 2014

by Bethany M. Dunbar

LYNDONVILLE — The Northeast Kingdom might soon have an incubator space for entrepreneurs and hobbyists who want to invent or create mechanical or electronic devices.

Similar clubs have been popping up around the country and elsewhere in Vermont.  The project, or group, is sometimes called a “maker space.”  One opened last week in Burlington called the Generator.

Three men who dreamed up the idea for the local group, which they call the Foundry, did an interview to explain the concept last week.

“We want to make an incubation zone,” said Jim Schenck, an engineer for a manufacturing company in Lisbon, New Hampshire.  He and two friends, Thomas Bishop of Waterford and Greg Shoppe, who has an online promotion company called Graph Genius Inc., started talking about the idea and decided to see what others thought.

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In the Legislature: Local control in wind siting unlikely

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David Mealiea and Anna Dirkse, both of Burlington, were two of four singing pickets who stood outside the State House last Thursday in support of raising the minimum wage.  “We fight for human rights so all can be free,” they sang.  Photo by Paul Lefebvre

David Mealiea and Anna Dirkse, both of Burlington, were two of four singing pickets who stood outside the State House last Thursday in support of raising the minimum wage. “We fight for human rights so all can be free,” they sang. Photo by Paul Lefebvre

copyright the Chronicle March 26, 2014

by Paul Lefebvre

MONTPELIER — Regional and local planners are expected to be the big losers in a bill to open up the siting process for ridgeline industrial wind projects.

Scheduled to appear on the Senate floor, the bill was rerouted to the Senate Committee on Appropriations Tuesday as negotiations continued behind the scenes to strike a compromise and keep it alive.

“Unfortunately, regional planning is one of those things we’re probably not going to wind up with,” said Senator John Rodgers of Glover during a telephone interview Tuesday.

One of the stated purposes of the bill was “to strengthen the role of planning commissions and local selectboard and planning commissions in the siting review process for energy facilities by giving greater weight to their recommendations and plans.”

But at the end of the day, that’s not likely what’s going to happen.

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