Walmart hearings: Residents worried about increased traffic

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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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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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