Vermont leads nation in sugarmaking again

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Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

copyright the Chronicle July 16, 2014 

by Natalie Hormilla

Vermont again led the nation in maple syrup production in 2014, according to a report by the United State Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Vermont’s total production for this year was 1,320,000 gallons, about 42 percent of the total U.S. production of 3,167,000.

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Will Barton Selectmen okay ATV vote?

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Jeff Cota and Jeff Harper organized this float in the Barton July 4 parade to urge voters to get to the special Town Meeting. Pictured, at the front of the float, are Corrinna Cota and Kyle Perry.   Photo by Tena Starr

Jeff Cota and Jeff Harper organized this float in the Barton July 4 parade to urge voters to get to the special Town Meeting. Pictured, at the front of the float, are Corrinna Cota and Kyle Perry. Photo by Tena Starr

copyright the Chronicle July 9, 2014

by Joseph Gresser

BARTON — Proponents of opening some Barton roads to all-terrain-vehicle (ATV) traffic may have gotten the vote they wanted, but they were disappointed in the ultimate result. About 50 residents showed at the Barton Municipal Building at 1 p.m. Tuesday, for a special Town Meeting called in response to a petition signed by 115 town voters.

The only item of business on the agenda was the question of whether Class Three and Four roads should be open to ATVs.

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Lyme disease victims seek more options

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This is a tick that Graci Rudolph found on her skin recently.  She saved it to be tested for Lyme disease.  She was bitten by a tick three years ago and got Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

This is a tick that Graci Rudolph found on her skin recently. She saved it to be tested for Lyme disease. She was bitten by a tick three years ago and got Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

copyright the Chronicle July 2, 2014  

by Bethany M. Dunbar

HOLLAND — Graci Rudolph was the director of an active nonprofit organization in New York, working long days. It was work she thrived on and a cause she believed in. She did public speaking and fund-raising, including television appearances.

Then one day — three years ago — she got bitten by a little insect, a tick, and got Lyme disease. Soon she could not sleep, her body became wracked with the most intense pain she has ever felt, she lost her physical balance and her ability to think clearly, or sometimes even get out of bed.

She wanted to die and says she can understand some Lyme disease patients’ impulse to commit suicide.

Ms. Rudolph, who now lives in Holland, is one of a sharply increasing number of people in Vermont who have contracted Lyme disease. According to the Vermont Department of Health, there were 37 cases in Vermont in 2002, and 623 in 2011. Most of the cases have been in the southern part of the state, but cases have been reported in every county except for Essex.

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Two Barton men charged for child porn

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William Allen reacts to an argument in favor of $250,000 bail from Assistant Attorney General Evan Meenan (not visible).  He appeared in the Criminal Division of Orleans Superior Court with his lawyer Zack Weight Monday and pled innocent to six felony charges related to distributing child pornography.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

William Allen reacts to an argument in favor of $250,000 bail from Assistant Attorney General Evan Meenan (not visible). He appeared in the Criminal Division of Orleans Superior Court with his lawyer Zack Weight Monday and pled innocent to six felony charges related to distributing child pornography. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle June 25, 2014

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT— An online investigation led to the arrest Monday of two Barton men on child pornography charges. The two cases appear to be unrelated to each other.

William M. Allen, 29, and Colton E. Chenard, 21, appeared Monday in the Criminal Division of Orleans Superior Court where they denied charges of “promoting visual sexual recordings.”

Mr. Allen pled innocent to six such felony charges, and Mr. Chenard pled innocent to four. If convicted, each man faces the possibility of a ten-year prison sentence on each charge.

Judge Howard VanBenthuysen released Mr. Chenard, who has no prior record, on $25,000 bail. Mr. Allen, though, is being held at Northern State Correctional Facility for lack of $250,000 bail.

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Walmart hearings: Residents worried about increased traffic

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walmart giselle web

Giselle Seymour, who spent almost a decade gathering signatures to encourage Walmart to come to Derby, celebrates with developer Jeff Davis at Tuesday night’s Act 250 hearing. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle June 18, 2014

by Joseph Gresser

DERBY — As determined by the ballot and by anecdotal evidence, a large percentage of Derby residents favor the new Walmart Super Center slated for construction on Route 5.  But that doesn’t mean some don’t have serious reservations about the project.

Those reservations, particularly ones concerning how the 160,000-square-foot store will affect traffic and the economy of the town were well aired in a pair of hearings held at the Derby Municipal Building Monday and Tuesday.

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Minimum wage hike will have ripple effect

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min wage webcopyright the Chronicle June 11, 2014

by Joseph Gresser

Local employers say a rise in pay for those at the bottom of the ladder is sure to increase salaries for those on the higher rungs.

That will be good news for many workers, they say, but could come at the cost of increased prices for goods and services.

Vermont’s minimum wage will rise on New Year’s Day 2015 and on each January 1 until 2018. The Vermont Legislature voted to increase it from the present level of $8.73 an hour to $10.50 in four annual jumps.

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Island Pond’s island is up for sale

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Robert Hall has owned the island in Island Pond for the past 57 years.  Now he wants to sell it, hopefully to the town of Brighton, which would preserve it.  Photo by Tena Starr

Robert Hall has owned the island in Island Pond for the past 57 years. Now he wants to sell it, hopefully to the town of Brighton, which would preserve it. Photo by Tena Starr

copyright the Chronicle June 4, 2014 

by Tena Starr

ISLAND POND — For the last 57 years, Robert Hall of been a member of a small, elite group that includes the likes of actors Mel Gibson, Johnny Depp, and singer Celine Dion. Like those celebrities, Mr. Hall owns a private island.

Johnny Depp’s island is in the Caribbean; Mr. Hall’s island is in Island Pond. He’s reached the point in life, however, where he wants to sell it, ideally to the town of Brighton, which he considers the logical next owner. He’s been in a wheelchair since he broke his back cutting firewood in 1977 and hasn’t set foot on the property for more than 30 years.

It’s hard to navigate a wheelchair through a sandy beach, he wryly noted in an interview Friday. “I can’t use it, but I could use the money.”

Mr. Hall is asking $1.975-million for the island he and his mother bought when he was 18 years old. He’s now 76.

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In Derby: New Walmart could add 218 jobs

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An architect’s rendering of the front of Derby’s new Walmart gives an idea of the range of merchandise the new store will offer.

An architect’s rendering of the front of Derby’s new Walmart gives an idea of the range of merchandise the new store will offer.

copyright the Chronicle May 28, 2014

by Joseph Gresser

DERBY — A new Walmart Supercenter could add 218 jobs and $4.7-million to area payrolls, according to an economic analysis submitted with permit applications on May 22. If the permitting process hits no snags, the new store could open by late fall of 2015.

The project will increase traffic on Route 5 by more than a third and could require at least two sets of new traffic signals on the Newport-Derby Road.

According to the permit documents submitted to the Derby Zoning Administrator and the District #7 Environmental Commission, the Walmart will likely include a grocery store, pharmacy, and auto center. It’s to be built between Route 5 and Shattuck Hill Road by Shattuck Hill Investments, LLC, a company owned by Burlington developer J.L. Davis.

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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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