Newport reappraisal could lead to drop in tax rate

Featured

copyright the Chronicle June 21, 201

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — The preliminary results of the citywide reappraisal are in and, while some property owners are unhappy with the jump in their assessment, Newport’s government is breathing a sigh of relief.

At present, the total value of the proposed Grand List stands at around $399-million, according to Newport City Manager Laura Dolgin. That is well above the $315-million valuation that was predicted last January.

That figure is far from the final word. Taxpayers have the right to grieve their assessment, and it will take a couple of months to resolve most challenges.

But if the result is close to the early figures, it could mean a substantial drop in the municipal tax rate.

The Grand List figure used for budgeting in 2015 and 2016 was $258-million. When members of the city council began work on the current budget, they believed the Grand List would rise to $330-million.

During their deliberations City Assessor Stewart Potter told the council that the actual figure would be closer to $315-million.

Newport’s budget was already expected to rise about $360,000 from the 2016 level of $4.81-million to $5.18-million.

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)

Share

Dollar General penalized for scanner violations

Featured

copyright the Chronicle June 21, 201

 

by Tena Starr

 

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture has penalized Dollar General in the amount of more than $210,000 for 47 separate price scanner violations since 2013, including $24,000 in penalties this year.

“Agency inspectors have observed repeated pricing inaccuracies, which could shortchange customers, such as discrepancies between the posted shelf price and the price charged at the register,” an Agency of Agriculture press release says.

The Agriculture Agency’s Consumer Protection Section sends out investigators who check the accuracy of weights at stores that use them. They also look for price scanner violations. For the first violation, the agency issues an official notice. If trouble persists, the agency might issue a penalty and take other action.

“The Agency of Agriculture has levied increasing monetary penalties against Dollar General over the past four years,” said Kristin Haas, head of the Agriculture Agency’s Food Safety and Consumer Protection Division.

“We feel it’s important that consumers are aware of these inaccuracies, so they can take an active role in ensuring they’re charged accurately, by checking their receipts and paying close attention in the store.”

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)

Share

Pet thieves posing as “humane officers?”

Featured

copyright the Chronicle June 21, 201

 

by Tena Starr

 

The owners of two dogs in Albany believe the animals were stolen last week by someone posing as a representative of P.E.T.S of the Kingdom, a nonprofit that checks on animal welfare.

Ronald Mason said his wife Melissa’s dog and his youngest daughter’s dog were taken from the Albany home where a relative has been caring for them. The Masons recently moved from Albany to Lyndonville and can’t keep pets there, so they left them in Albany with their nephew.

“He came home from work and the dogs were gone,” Mr. Mason said. “My nephew called P.E.T.S., and they said they didn’t take them.”

Mr. Mason said a woman had come around to the Albany home where the dogs were, saying she was doing neighborhood checks of animals and wondered if they would like to get rid of the dogs.

“We were like, no, we don’t want to get rid of them,” Mr. Mason said. “We’ve had these dogs since they were puppies. I just think it’s pretty damned bad when somebody takes something that doesn’t belong to you. Pets can be like family. I’m just plain disgusted.”

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)

Share

EB-5 investor sues state

Featured

copyright the Chronicle June 21, 201

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

An investor in the first of Jay Peak’s EB-5 projects is suing the state Agency of Commerce and Community Development, the Department of Financial Regulation, the Vermont Regional Center (VRC), and a number of those agencies’ employees.

The lawsuit, filed in the Civil Division of Lamoille County Superior Court, claims the two branches of state government and the named individuals effectively acted as Ariel Quiros’ and Bill Stenger’s partners, helping them to perpetrate fraud.

Mr. Quiros is the subject of a civil suit filed by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that charges he mishandled around $200-million of the approximately $350-million he raised to pay for hotels and other facilities at Jay Peak and Burke Mountain Resorts, as well as a biomedical facility in Newport.

The suit claims that Mr. Quiros also took about $50-million of the investors’ money for his own use.

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)

Share

Governor Scott visits Albany

Featured

copyright the Chronicle June 14, 201

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

ALBANY — Governor Phil Scott breezed into Albany Monday to sign a pair of bills that he said will help revitalize aspects of the state’s rural economy. One, a bill to increase the number of chickens a farmer may raise, kill, and sell from 1,000 birds to 5,000, was proposed and seen through to passage by South Albany’s own Billy Pearce.

The other, which aids forestry workers in a number of ways, was welcomed by Colleen Goodridge, who hosted the signing ceremony. Ms. Goodridge, the matriarch of Goodridge Lumber, a family business that specializes in white cedar, is also vice-president of the Vermont Forest Products Association.

Governor Scott was welcomed by a crowd of around 70 people that included legislators from around the Northeast Kingdom and state officials, including Secretary Julie Moore of the Agency of Natural Resources.

H.495, the new forestry law, includes a provision exempting logging equipment and the fuel used to run it from state sales taxes. The state will also loan or help loggers purchase pre-made skidder bridges to help them meet clean water requirements.

Governor Scott said the state hopes to have 25 of the bridges available for loan or lease this summer.

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)

Share

Coventry water district working towards arsenic fix

Featured

copyright the Chronicle June 14, 201

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

COVENTRY — Last fall, water customers in Coventry Village and some surrounding areas were warned not to drink their tap water because arsenic levels had gone over 10 parts per billion.

On Tuesday night, 16 people came to the annual meeting of the Coventry Fire District #1 to find out what’s happened since then.

The fire district — which has nothing to do with putting out fires — operates the town’s public water supply. It serves about 60 homes, public buildings, and the Coventry Village School.

“I think what’s on everybody’s mind is the arsenic situation and what we’re doing,” Jeanne Desrochers said.

Ms. Desrochers is a member of the fire district’s Prudential Committee, which is roughly the same as a board of directors.

She’s been the point person through the fire district’s arsenic troubles, working directly with state officials.

“In September we got a notice that we had exceeded our arsenic levels,” she said.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring substance, town residents learned at a public information meeting last November. Water flowing underground picks up arsenic from surrounding rocks.

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)

Share

Study examines how maple trees fare tapping

Featured

copyright the Chronicle June 14, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

The Proctor Maple Research Center in Underhill has launched a first-of-its kind study. It’s looking at the long-term effects of tapping a maple tree.

Like others, Derby sugarmaker Steve Wheeler said he was astonished that concrete information about how drilling holes into a tree and sucking its sap out year after year hasn’t previously been collected.

Mr. Wheeler, who is an organic sugarmaker, said he was among those who called for the study. Organic sugarmakers as well as those whose land is in the Current Use program, are required to follow best practices for sugaring. Among other things, they want scientific, rather than anecdotal, data to support those best practices, Mr. Wheeler said.

“I’m one of the guys who has said, hey, we really need this study. The whole thing about organic is it’s about the long-term sustainability of the sugarbush.”

Research assistant professor Abby van den Berg at the Proctor Center said the study will last ten years. The goal is to collect empirical data on what effect tapping and collecting sap has on the health and growth of maples.

The fact that no one has ever studied that rather big subject is, in part, because “we have been doing this for a hundred plus years over and over again, and the trees are still healthy and thriving,” said Ms. van den Berg about sugaring. “That, anecdotally, gives us the answer to that question. We know we are not detrimentally impacting trees when we’re following good practices.”

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)

Share

In Coventry, Diaz is out, Barlow is in — at least for now

Featured

copyright the Chronicle June 14, 201

by Elizabeth Trail

 

COVENTRY — After a week of dramatic twists and turns, David Barlow has been appointed to serve as what Coventry Select Board members called a “temporary interim” town clerk and treasurer.

He will serve until the select board can review applications and appoint someone to do the jobs until March, when Town Meeting voters will fill the jobs for the two years remaining in former Town Clerk and Treasurer Cynthia Diaz’ term.

At midnight on Friday, the clock ran out on Ms. Diaz’ chance to line up the bond she needed in order to keep her job. Under state law, the positions were automatically vacated.

It seemed like the end of the road for the embattled town clerk and treasurer, who has been re-elected again and again despite years of questionable audits and complaints about her bookkeeping.

But just hours before Friday’s special select board meeting, the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department served select board Chair Mike Marcotte with a complaint alleging that the May 24 special meeting hadn’t been properly warned.

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)

Share

Rabid bat found in Newport Center

Featured

copyright the Chronicle June 7, 2017

by Elizabeth Trail

 

NEWPORT CENTER — A week ago, veterinarian Selena Hunter went back to her office for an evening emergency. When she pulled into the driveway, she saw a bat fluttering on the ground.

The bat came toward Ms. Hunter when she approached it, so she scooped it into a container with a shovel. The next day Game Warden Jenna Reed took it to the state Health Department for testing.

On Monday, word came back from the lab that the bat had rabies.

No one knows how long the little animal had been fluttering around the neighborhood.

“It was right in the village, three feet from the clinic steps,” Dr. Hunter said.

Her clients with their sick pet had been watching the grounded bat while they waited for her to arrive.

“It could have gone into a yard with a child,” Dr. Hunter said.

And the big unknown is where did this bat originate from? she wondered.

“How far did it travel? Where was it infected?”

People in and around Newport Center need to be sure that their pets — especially cats — are up to date on their shots, she said.

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)

Share

Former Candlepin has new owners

Featured

copyright the Chronicle June 7, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

BARTON — The former Candlepin restaurant, long empty, has been sold to Matthew Wright and Cassy Moulton of Derby.

The couple does not currently plan to turn the property back into the full-service restaurant it was throughout most of its life.

The purchase happened rather quickly, Ms. Moulton said, and ideas are still swirling around in the new owners’ heads. For the moment, however, they know for sure that Ms. Moulton’s catering business will operate out of the former restaurant, and it’s almost guaranteed there will be an ice cream shop there, as well.

It’s a long-term project, Ms. Moulton said. The property needs maintenance, and the first stage will be to fix it up. Besides the restaurant, there’s a big house, and the barn, which, at one time, housed a popular bowling alley. That building has problems with both mold and its roof.

Ms. Moulton is operating manager at Louis Garneau, Inc., in Derby. She’s a busy woman, who also runs a catering business called For the Love of Food on weekends. She said she caters weddings, showers, and other events, including some for the Army National Guard.

But she hasn’t had a home base. For some time, she’s thought about having a place where customers might come to her for functions, as well.

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)

Share