The homeless — out of sight, out of mind?

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The area’s homeless don’t tend to be street-dwellers, as in more urban places.  In the Northeast Kingdom, they live on the beaches, in the woods, in their cars, or they “couch surf,” sleeping at the homes of friends or family who have enough room to take them in for a while.  The county’s homeless population exists, it’s just hard to find.   Photo by David Dudley

The area’s homeless don’t tend to be street-dwellers, as in more urban places. In the Northeast Kingdom, they live on the beaches, in the woods, in their cars, or they “couch surf,” sleeping at the homes of friends or family who have enough room to take them in for a while. The county’s homeless population exists, it’s just hard to find. Photo by David Dudley

copyright the Chronicle November 19, 2014

by David Dudley

NEWPORT — Victoria Kuhn, a thin woman in her twenties, moved to Newport a little over a year ago with her fiancé. Since their arrival, they have lived on Prouty Beach, in their car, and during the cold months, with the man’s mother. Ms. Kuhn’s fiancé suffered a traumatic brain injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder while in the military.  Since his return, he has developed severe stomach ulcers, and doctors have given him six months to live, Ms. Kuhn said.

“We came to Newport from Dover, Delaware,” she said. “We wanted to be near his mother, but we couldn’t find our own place to live.

“We’ve been here a little over a year now, and still haven’t found our own home. I don’t know how to explain it. ”

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Planet Aid drop boxes unlikely to clothe locals

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At least one Planet Aid bin has already appeared in Orleans County.   This one is in Orleans near Village Pizza.  Photo by Tena Starr

At least one Planet Aid bin has already appeared in Orleans County. This one is in Orleans near Village Pizza. Photo by Tena Starr

copyright the Chronicle November 5, 2014 

by Natalie Hormilla

A convenient way to recycle clothing is making its way into Orleans and Essex counties — but it’s highly unlikely that any of those clothes will end up on the backs of needy people in the Northeast Kingdom, or even in the country.

Planet Aid is a nonprofit that puts out bins where anyone can deposit unwanted clothes, shoes, or bedding, no matter what condition they’re in. It moved into Vermont in 2009 or 2010, said Northern New England Operations Manager Patrick Holland in a telephone interview Friday from his office in Hudson, New Hampshire. But it’s just now moving north of St. Johnsbury.

Drop-off bins will be available in the next few weeks in Derby, Newport, Irasburg, Barton, Orleans, Norton, Canaan, Lyndonville, and Danville, at the recycling centers in Glover and Brighton, and at the Westmore transfer station.

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Is the postal service shooting itself in the foot?

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The Post Office in Craftsbury Common has strange hours these days.  Residents say they are inconvenient, but the USPS says decreasing hours is the only way to keep some of these offices open. Photos by David Dudley

The Post Office in Craftsbury Common has strange hours these days. Residents say they are inconvenient, but the USPS says decreasing hours is the only way to keep some of these offices open. Photos by David Dudley

copyright the Chronicle October 29, 2014

by David Dudley

In May of 2012 the United States Postal Service (USPS) implemented the Post Plan, which was devised to curb mounting debt, and prevent thousands of offices, many of them rural post offices, such as those in Greensboro Bend, Craftsbury Common, and Albany, from being shut down altogether. The USPS estimated that the plan would be up and running by September of 2014.

For many rural offices in Orleans County, the Post Plan means decreased window hours, which is affecting local businesses that depend on the Postal Service for shipping. Also, many employees have seen their hours cut, and people who work full-time are having trouble getting to the post office while it’s open.

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Safe Haven — a home for unwanted horses

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WEB Safe havencopyright the Chronicle October 22, 2014

by Tena Starr

HOLLAND — Tara Girard has taken in 17 horses this year, all of them horses that someone else didn’t want anymore, or at least couldn’t afford. Of the ten harbored by Safe Haven Farm right now, she said that she only bought one, and he was a hard luck case, too.

The little Morgan had a concussion and a dislocated tail. She calls him “a bought rescue.”

She’s had a few of those.

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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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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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Hair salons are bright spot in local business

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Marie Turmel Kroeger sits inside her new 300-square foot salon.  Visible in the mirror is a portrait of women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, painted by Ms. Kroeger.  Photo by Natalie Hormilla

Marie Turmel Kroeger sits inside her new 300-square foot salon. Visible in the mirror is a portrait of women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, painted by Ms. Kroeger. Photo by Natalie Hormilla

copyright the Chronicle April 30, 2014 

by Natalie Hormilla

Marie Turmel Kroeger opened a hair salon in a refurbished milk house in Craftsbury last month with confidence and enthusiasm.

“It’s called faith in oneself,” she said, just a couple of weeks into officially opening The Milk House Hair Studio on King Farm Road.

Ms. Kroeger’s business offers a range of services, including hair cutting, coloring, highlighting, and styling, and other treatments like relaxed permanent waves and facial waxing. She also does makeup for, and consults on, events like weddings or professional makeovers.

Everything happens in a 300-square-foot space, restored and relocated from across the street by her husband, Ben. The space is decorated with artwork mostly painted by Ms. Kroeger herself.

“It’s really, really quaint, and very personalized,” she said.

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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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Hungry Vermonters face cuts in aid

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Joe Patrissi at the NEKCA food shelf. Mr. Patrissi said it was fully stocked on Monday morning, but demand is great, and a few hours later several of its shelves were bare. Photo by Tena Starr

Years ago, Kim Arel found herself in a tough spot.  She had two young children to feed, and for a brief time the only way to swing that was to visit a food shelf.  “I was surprised to see other people there that I didn’t think I would,” she said in a recent interview.

Later, when she was in a better place, Ms. Arel decided to pay it forward, and became a donor to food shelves herself.  And for the past 12 years or so, she’s been running the food shelf in Jay, which serves five towns.

Last week, she said, many of her clientele were talking about the latest round of cuts to 3SquaresVT, the program that helps poor Vermonters put food on the table.  “They don’t know what they’re going to do.”

Those cuts, which will take effect on November 1, are due to the expiration of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding, which passed in 2009 and included a temporary increase for help with food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  The temporary boost increased the monthly SNAP benefit by 14 percent. Continue reading

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