State seeks ways to boost rural economy

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copyright the Chronicle October 4, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

BARTON — Bleak as the picture for dairy so often is in Vermont, it’s the decline of the state’s forestry industry that people wanted to talk about Tuesday at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on farming, forestry, and the rural economy. The Barton meeting drew about a dozen people.

The commissioners of agriculture and forests, parks, and recreation were present, as was the deputy commissioner of forests, parks and recreation.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Bobby Starr of North Troy said the committee is traveling around Vermont listening to ideas about how to improve the rural economy.

“It’s important for us to hear what you folks would like us to do,” he said. “Believe it or not, we work for you.”

“We are going to take all the comments and ideas and try to come up with a few pieces of legislation that will help rural Vermont and outlying areas,” Mr. Starr said.

The meeting also provided information about what is already being done.

Agriculture Commissioner Anson Tebbetts said he actually had some good news to report.

Many Vermonters who work in agriculture attend the annual Big E fair in Massachusetts in the hope of acquiring new and bigger markets, Ms. Tebbetts said.

Visitors to exhibits on Vermont Day were at an all time high, he said. He said there were 171,897 visitors on just the one day. Put that in perspective, he said, and that’s like one-fifth of Vermont was there.

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Predicting the future of milk and maple

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copyright the Chronicle September 27, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

CRAFTSBURY — The future is not looking good for Vermont sugarmakers 50 years down the road. But opportunities will open up for dairy farmers — if they can stay in business until then.

That was the takeaway from a gathering last week at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center that took a hard look at what climate change is going to mean for the milk and maple industries in northern Vermont.

Travis Reynolds teaches environmental policy at Colby College in Maine. His parents, John and Carol Reynolds, raise organic beef and tap 7,000 maple trees in Stannard.

He called his talk on the future of sugaring “Looking ahead and learning from the past.”

“The forecast is not an optimistic one,” he said. “It’s entirely possible that my son will see the end of maple syrup production in Vermont.”

First, the climate change piece.

Compared to 50 years ago, Mr. Reynolds said, the sugaring season is already three days shorter than it was. Sugaring now begins about seven days earlier and ends ten days earlier. If that trend continues, there will be years by 2067 when there is no regular sugaring season.

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Officer killed in 1917 is remembered

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copyright the Chronicle September 27, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — On September 26, 1917, Newport’s first uniformed police officer, Joseph P. Manogue, was called to the Newport House to help immigration officers deal with a recalcitrant suspect.

Patrolman Manogue went to the hotel, which was on the site occupied today by People’s United Bank.

Things went badly wrong.

There was gunplay, and in its aftermath Patrolman Manogue lay dying and another officer was hit by two bullets.

Patrolman Manogue was the first and, thankfully, the only Newport officer to die in the line of duty.

Exactly 100 years later, Newport City’s present Police Chief Seth DiSanto welcomed two of Patrolman Manogue’s great-grandchildren to Newport at a ceremony that commemorated their forebear’s sacrifice.

Governor Phil Scott and representatives of the U.S. Border Patrol, Vermont State Police, and Orleans County Sheriff’s Department also paid tribute to the fallen officer.

The proceedings got off to a solemn start as the Border Patrol honor squad brought the American flag and that of their agency to the stage as a piper played “The Minstrel Boy.”

Two North Country Union High School students, Luke Treadwell and Briar LaRose, then performed an a cappella version of the “Star Spangled Banner.”

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Man sent to prison for seventh DUI conviction

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copyright the Chronicle September 27, 2017

 

by Paul Lefebvre

 

NEWPORT — As he sifted through the records of a 49-year-old alcoholic who had recently been convicted of driving while under the influence for the seventh time (DUI-7), Judge Robert Bent appeared to be looking for a sentencing option other than the six to 11 years recommended by the plea agreement.

All the evidence of a contested sentencing here Tuesday in the Criminal Division of Orleans County Superior was in.

But as the judge shuffled records around, he couldn’t find one. What he found instead was a stiffer recommendation from the Department of Corrections that four more years be added to the minimum or bottom line of Desmond Durivage’s pending sentence. And he didn’t want to go there.

He noted that efforts had been made to help Mr. Durivage go straight, but added that alcoholism is a disease marked by exacerbation, or what he recalled the comic Robin Williams characterized as “the elephant in the room.”

The judge said he felt saddened by what he was going to impose as a sentence — “like to see a better way” — but he went along with the plea agreement and sentenced Mr. Durivage to serve an underlying sentence of six to 11 years.

While the defense was seeking a lighter sentence with more emphasis on probation, Judge Bent sided with the prosecution’s call for an incarcerated sentence.

State’s Attorney Jennifer Barrett argued that, despite opportunities, Mr. Durivage still had not learned to separate his drinking from his driving. He still remains a risk to public safety, she said.

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North Country celebrates its fiftieth year

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copyright the Chronicle September 27, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — North Country Union High School, which opened its doors in the fall of 1967, used the occasion of its annual homecoming weekend to mark its fiftieth anniversary in style.

Dean of Students Bob Davis (Class of 1974) assumed the role of pit master and barbecued a pig to the exacting standards expected in North Carolina where he attended Duke University.

Not far from the line for pulled pork sandwiches, North Country Band Director Bill Prue (Class of 1989) was gathering his forces. Several alumni musicians, including trombonist Ray Bowen Jr. (class of 1987) brought their instruments and rejoined their high school band.

Mr. Prue said he intended to honor the school and its earliest graduates by playing a hit song from 1967, “Windy” by the Association. He admitted it wasn’t the number one hit of the year — that distinction went to “To Sir With Love,” by the British singer Lulu.

“It was a little too slow,” Mr. Prue said.

Roger Wells, Sara Williams, and Beatrice Sevigny Deslandes (all Class of 1968) sat on the bumper of Mr. Davis’ barbecue wagon and reminisced.

While the school’s doors opened in 1967, the first senior class did not receive its diplomas until June 1968.

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Widow shares story of husband’s decision to end his own suffering

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copyright the Chronicle September 20, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

EAST CHARLESTON — Eric Stevens was 67 years old last year in July when his son-in-law carried him out to the porch, where, surrounded by his immediate family, he ate a pudding-like mixture of Seconal and maple syrup. Soon, possibly within minutes, he was dead.

Mr. Stevens was a musician and an avid outdoorsman. In a photo taken less than two weeks before his death, he looks young for 67, tanned and robust, his dark eyes looking into the camera in the straightforward manner he was known for.

But he was far from robust by then. He had an advanced case of multiple systems atrophy (MSA), a rare neurological disease.  It’s similar to Parkinson’s, but crueler.  Parkinson’s victims often develop dementia towards the end.  Those who suffer from MSA do not.  Their bodies shut down bit by bit, but the brain is acutely aware of every bodily failure, every indignity, of the next dreadful step in the progression of their fatal disease.

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Still more questions than answers about Shrinedom

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copyright the Chronicle September 20, 2017

 

by Brad Usatch

 

EAST ALBANY — Four days after a planned daylong music festival collapsed for apparent lack of funds, organizers remain reluctant to explain exactly what happened, or what measures, if any, will be taken to compensate ticket holders who feel they were scammed.

Set to take place on the property of the Creek Hill Barn, Shrinedom 2017 was advertised by promoter Marc Clay of Crossova Concepts as a benefit for the Mt. Sinai Shriners #3 based in Montpelier. The Shriners are an international fraternal organization most noted for creating a network of 22 children’s hospitals across North America. According to the Shrinedom Facebook page, Crossova was teaming up with Kingdom Cares, Inc., to produce the show. Kingdom Cares is a Vermont corporation with Shriner Adam B. Johnson of Irasburg listed as its sole agent.

Gates were set to open at 7 a.m. on what turned out to be a picture perfect Saturday on September 16. A trio of rising New England country acts was slated to play from mid-morning into the afternoon, and that part of the concert went off without a hitch.

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Orchard owner searching for stolen apple trees

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copyright the Chronicle September 20, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

BARTON — Randolph Cross of West Glover is looking for information about who stole two of his best apple trees.

Mr. Cross, who lives on Parker Pond, also owns property on Route 16 in Barton, just north of Glover Village. He’s put up a garage there, and has perennial gardens, a vegetable garden, and a small orchard with apple and nut trees — walnuts, pecans, and chestnuts.

“It’s something to do, to keep my mind working and to keep active,” he said.

It’s a tidy and well-tended place that Mr. Cross said is something of an experiment — to see what grows and thrives here. He did auto repair for 40 years, which is why he built the garage, he said.

The apple trees were four years old and producing well, Mr. Cross said. His theory is that someone dug them up to transplant them in the woods, or a field somewhere, to bait deer.

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Chief says Newport Police Department gravely understaffed

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copyright the Chronicle September 20, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — At its meeting Monday, the city council heard about the difficulties officers face in the city’s understaffed police department. They also voted for November balloting on a $3-million bond for a new water tower, and re-examined downtown renewal efforts.

Newport City Police Chief Seth DiSanto presented council members with a summary of his department’s activities over the past year comparing them with the year before.

Traffic stops accounted for the highest percentage of calls, about 28 percent. But Chief DiSanto said that doesn’t reflect the amount of actual time spent on a call. Larceny calls can take days to investigate, while traffic stops are done in a matter of minutes, he said.

The chief’s main business, though, was a discussion of staffing in his department, which is presently short two officers.

Although he has two recruits undergoing training as part-time officers, the chief said they will not be able to complete training as full-time officers any sooner than June. Even then, the new officers will need at least 400 more hours of on-the-job training before they can wear the Newport badge and uniform, Chief DiSanto said.

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Swastikas, racist slogans sprayed on local roads and buildings

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copyright the Chronicle September 13, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

GLOVER — Swastikas, racist epithets, and crudely drawn penises were spray painted on road surfaces, mailboxes, and the side of a farm building in Glover sometime during the night of September 7.

The incident prompted a GoFundMe campaign, which was started on Monday by Mateo Kehler of Jasper Hill Farm. It raised $4,535 in less than 24 hours toward a reward to help catch the perpetrators.

Jasper Hill is one of the owners of Andersonville Farm in West Glover. A building there was defaced with “get out” and “nigger” along with a hashtag, a swastika, and a Nazi SS symbol.

About ten feet of pavement on the Shadow Lake Road was co-opted for a swastika and the message “I kill niggers.” Sexual drawings and slogans were painted in the oncoming lane.

A swastika was painted on a stop sign at the intersection of Shadow Lake Road and Mud Island Road. A mailbox in that area was defaced with swastikas on one side and the word “nig” on the other. Another mailbox had swastikas, the twin lightning-bolt SS symbol, and a sexual reference.

Law enforcement is handling the incident as unlawful mischief.

A joint press release from the Vermont State Police and the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department says, “Sometime after dark on September 7, 2017, the offender(s) spray painted on the side of a barn, the roadway, mailboxes and posts.”

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