Newport City throws Ward a farewell party

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John Ward and a double stand at a party honoring Newport’s City Manager, who officially retired on July 15.  The 50 or so guests had a hard time telling which was the real John Ward, especially since both candidates were dressed in his clothing.  Perhaps Mr. Ward’s administrative assistant, Laurel Wilson, could have resolved the question, but she was unaccountably absent when the second Mr. Ward strolled into the room.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

John Ward and a double stand at a party honoring Newport’s City Manager, who officially retired on July 15. The 50 or so guests had a hard time telling which was the real John Ward, especially since both candidates were dressed in his clothing. Perhaps Mr. Ward’s administrative assistant, Laurel Wilson, could have resolved the question, but she was unaccountably absent when the second Mr. Ward strolled into the room. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle July 15, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — Wednesday, July 15, is the last day on the job for Newport City Manager John Ward Jr., who is winding up his 16-year run and preparing for retirement.

“I’m grateful for the job, otherwise I probably would have had to leave Newport,” he said in an interview at the Newport Municipal Building July 9.

For a lifetime resident of a city that he clearly loves, that would have been a tough burden to bear, but after the city council’s original choice for the job decided not to accept it, Mr. Ward was tapped. Paul Monette and Richard Baraw, two of the aldermen who voted to make him city manager in March 1999, continued to serve on the council for most of Mr. Ward’s service.

Mr. Monette is now mayor, and Mr. Baraw….To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Ward attends his last city council meeting

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City Manager John Ward (right) offers a suggestion to Newport’s aldermen at his last city council meeting.  To his left sat Alderman Steven Vincent.  Photos by Joseph Gresser

City Manager John Ward (right) offers a suggestion to Newport’s aldermen at his last city council meeting. To his left sat Alderman Steven Vincent. Photos by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle July 8, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — As Mayor Paul Monette listed those in attendance at Monday’s city council meeting he noted a milestone.

“For the last time John Ward is sitting as city manager,” Mr. Monette said.

Mr. Ward, who has served as city manager for 15 years, and was an alderman before that, will retire on July 15.

The council chose his replacement, Laura Dolgin, at a special meeting held Wednesday, July 1. She sat at the back of the council’s chambers Monday taking notes.

Mr. Ward’s impending departure was… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Dolgin will be new city manager

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Laura Dolgin, who was recently hired as Newport’s next city manager, poses with her husband, Rick Geisel, on Main Street.  Behind the couple are two buildings that have been, and will be, important in her working life.  At left is the Orleans County Courthouse where she served as county clerk, and on the right is Newport’s Municipal Building, where she will start work on July 20.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

Laura Dolgin, who was recently hired as Newport’s next city manager, poses with her husband, Rick Geisel, on Main Street. Behind the couple are two buildings that have been, and will be, important in her working life. At left is the Orleans County Courthouse where she served as county clerk, and on the right is Newport’s Municipal Building, where she will start work on July 20. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle July 8, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — Laura Dolgin and Rick Geisel, her husband, put their Derby house on the market in April. Their plan was to move to central Vermont to be closer to Ms. Dolgin’s Montpelier job.

She had even set a deadline.

“I wanted to move before Daylight Savings Time ended,” she said. “I couldn’t face making the drive in the dark.”

Their plans changed on July 1 when the Newport City Council voted unanimously to hire her as the next city manager.

The house, though, remains on the market, Ms. Dolgin said two days later at an interview conducted down the street from both a former and her next workplace. If all goes well… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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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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Editorial: Newport City Council missed the boat

The Newport City Council missed the boat last week when approached about the possibility of putting a tar sands resolution on the agenda for the annual City Meeting in March.  The council could have welcomed city residents who want to talk about an important local issue.  Instead they snubbed them.

The council told residents and an environmental organizer who wants to put a question about tar sands on the ballot that they might accept a petition from 5 percent of the city’s voters and put it on the ballot.  Or they might not.

Traditionally, the city council has turned down items that are not strictly city business, aldermen told the voters.

In this discussion, they told voters and a representative of the Sierra Club that they should not put anything “politicized” on the ballot.

Isn’t the whole idea of Town Meeting Day about local politics?  How strange for the city’s leading political figures to say they want to avoid politics at their city meeting.

Beyond that, just whose city is Newport anyway?  If 5 percent of city voters want to talk about something, what harm is that going to do?

The city council seems to be saying that tar sands is not a local issue.

City Manager John Ward called the Sierra Club, “just one more lobbying group coming here to tell us how to live.”

But tar sands is definitely a local issue.  The Portland Pipeline goes through Newport Center, which borders the city.  The pipeline goes through a number of towns further south where the rivers drain into Lake Memphremagog.

Does the council believe that an oil spill into rivers and streams leading to Lake Memphremagog would not harm the city’s economy, not to mention the environment?  If there were a spill, we wouldn’t be eating bass, walleye, trout or perch for years to come.

Newport City’s annual meeting is typically a brief, perfunctory affair where almost no one comes and almost nothing is discussed.  The city’s business is done by paper ballot.

Certainly this works well in terms of getting a good number of people to vote on municipal and school budgets and elections.  It’s more convenient for working people to choose their voting time.

But the lack of discussion is unfortunate, and here is an opportunity to allow city residents to have a debate about an issue that could affect the city drastically.  What is the problem with allowing that discussion and even a vote on a resolution?

There is such a thing as being too provincial.  The Northeast Kingdom sometimes has that reputation, and it’s time for that to change.

The city council could have taken a step to welcome discussion on an important regional topic, but instead they mostly closed the door on it.  Why?  Tradition?  Maybe it’s time for a new tradition. — B.M.D.

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Spates Block sale spurs Newport City reappraisal

Newport's Spates Block just sold for $2.85-million.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

Newport’s Spates Block just sold for $2.85-million. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle January 8, 2014

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — The $2.85-million sale of the Spates Block will change the face of downtown Newport.  It will also require the city to revalue all property on its Grand List.

According to a memo from City Assessor Spencer Potter, the sale, along with the $1.1-million sale of the properties on which the new Maplefields gas station is to be built, will bring a call from the state for mandatory reappraisal.

City Manager John Ward urged the aldermen to act quickly on the matter at the city council’s meeting Monday night.  They heeded his advice and unanimously agreed to proceed with a full reappraisal of Newport.

Mr. Ward said it is quite possible that new sales will drop the city’s Common Level of Appraisal (CLA) enough that the state will raise education tax rates to compensate.  The CLA is a measure the state uses to ensure fairness in the statewide tax by making sure appraisals in all towns generally match the results of actual sales.

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