Children head into the woods for a new-old learning experience

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copyright the Chronicle November 8, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

JAY — Julie Ste. Marie’s preschoolers at the Jay-Westfield Joint Elementary School will be out in the woods two days a week right through the winter months.

In a forest preschool, there are no toys, and few structured lessons. Children run, play, and explore in nature. Teachers may draw children’s attention to things around them, read stories, and count objects they find in the woods, but a lot of the day is spent in free play.

“All of the entertainment comes from their imaginations,” Ms. Ste. Marie said.

The one exception is the “mud kitchen’’— a cabinet in the woods with pots and pans and spoons that kids can use to dig in the dirt and make mud pies.

When children are allowed to climb, jump, and run to their hearts’ content in all weather, they are more grounded, Ms. Ste. Marie said, more connected with nature and with their bodies.

“We talk about kids that bounce off the walls,” she said. “In the forest, we don’t have walls.”

In a typical classroom, teachers spend all day telling kids not to be kids, she said.

“We have many fewer problems out in nature.”

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IRS scammer makes a bad call

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copyright the Chronicle November 8, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

A scammer pretending to be from the IRS recently made a remarkably bad call. She dialed the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department and, unbeknownst to her, ended up talking to Chief Deputy Phil Brooks, who she threatened with arrest if he didn’t immediately pay what she claimed he owed the federal government.

The Sheriff’s Department has several lines and received four phone calls from scammers that day, all of them recorded messages with a call back number, Chief Deputy Brooks said by phone last week.

So he called back.

The IRS scam is a particularly vicious one because the callers are sophisticated and can be very threatening. They typically say that a person owes a significant amount of money in back taxes, and a sheriff will arrest them soon if they don’t pay up. Like, right now.

“The ‘agent’ utilizes fear and intimidation tactics to get the victim to forward money discretely and privately, and even tells them that a warrant will be issued by the Sheriff and the person will be arrested if they don’t comply,” the Sheriff’s Department wrote in a press release about the incident.

Chief Deputy Brooks dragged the call out for 15 minutes or so and pretty much let the scam run its course.

In this case, the scammer, who called herself IRS agent Christina Fernandez, said he owed $7,986 to the IRS. He said that when he informed Ms. Fernandez that he didn’t have that amount of money, the sum drifted downward to $2,795.

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Ranger danger: Lake Region wins second straight soccer title

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copyright the Chronicle November 8, 2017

 

by Brad Usatch

 

SOUTH BURLINGTON — They were tried and tested, but in the end the Lake Region Union High School Rangers left Munson Field at South Burlington High School just as they had arrived: as the reigning Division II soccer champions for the state of Vermont.

Up 2-0 in the second half, the top ranked Rangers (15-2) weathered a two-goal rally by the sixth-seeded Harwood Union Highlanders (10-4-1) before Brady Perron seized the championship with a golden goal header just 5:57 into the overtime period.

It has been an incredible run for a talented group led by senior snipers Riley Urie and Brady Perron. The Rangers ran the table last year (18-0) to win the school’s first ever soccer title in the team’s first finals appearance since 1978. In 2015 they also finished the regular season undefeated before falling to U-32 in the semifinals. Over the past four seasons, Lake Region has racked up a combined record of 62-6, capped by a pair of silver championship bowls for the display case.

In addition to the team’s offensive stars, this year’s seniors include goaltender Liam Kennedy who came up with a number of big saves on Saturday, starting fullbacks Noah Royer, Bradey Kerr, and Gabe Riendeau, and forward Chad Royer.

“Most of us have been together since we were like seven years old,” Kennedy said, “so we’ve grown together as a team. It’s great. It’s amazing. There’s no better feeling than this, especially in our senior year.”

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Farmers see price for organic milk plunge

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copyright the Chronicle November 8, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

The price paid to Vermont organic milk producers dropped by $6 per hundredweight over the past year, according to a report provided to the Vermont Milk Commission by the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance.

The Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools (CROPP), the dairy cooperative that markets Organic Valley products, has told its Vermont members it will pay $28.80 per hundred pounds of milk this December. At the same time last year the price was $34.80.

According to the producers alliance, the average price paid by CROPP during 2016 was $35.68 per hundredweight. This year it is estimated the average price will fall to $30.59.

By spring the price paid farmers will drop another $2, CROPP has told its farmers.

For conventional farmers, who spend around $20 per hundred pounds to make their milk and are seeing milk prices a little over $17 a hundredweight, even the lower price might seem like a dream come true.

But the producers alliance says New England organic dairies’ break-even price is around $35 a hundredweight.

Members of the organic cooperative have quotas based on a farmer’s purchase of preferred stock in CROPP. Should a farmer produce more milk than it allows, the co-op will pay $20 less per hundredweight for the overage.

Perhaps the hardest hit farmers are those transitioning from conventional to organic production. They have been told they will not have a buyer when they produce organic milk.

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Thousands remain without power

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copyright the Chronicle November 1, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

High winds roared through Vermont early Monday morning, felling trees, branches, and power lines, and plunging tens of thousands of homes into darkness.

At the height of the outage early Monday morning, about 40 percent of the Vermont Electric Cooperative’s 38,000 members were without power, the utility reported. Halfway through Tuesday, VEC crews had restored power to about 4,600 members with about 9,000 more to go.

It could be a few days yet before electricity is restored to all homes, VEC warned.

One of the problems is the extent of the storm. As of Tuesday morning, 880,000 people throughout New England were without power, VEC said in a press release.

“The extent and complexity of the damage caused by yesterday’s wind storm across VEC’s rural territory, coupled with the high demand for mutual aid crews throughout New England, means it’s taking longer than usual for restoration in many cases,” VEC explained.

A message at the Johnson-based cooperative on Monday listed all the towns in its service area that were experiencing outages, and it appeared the list included nearly every one of them.

The message also urged people to call 211 if they needed help with shelter and to keep checking the VEC website for updates on when service was likely to be restored.

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Arrest made in moose poaching case

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copyright the Chronicle November 1, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

A 20-year-old Irasburg man has been arrested in connection with a moose poaching case in Westmore in late September.

Gerin Fortin was arrested on Sunday and charged with six counts of big game violations, including taking game by illegal means and in closed season, and two counts of shooting from a motor vehicle, Colonel Jason Batchelder at the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department said on Tuesday.

Colonel Batchelder said that Mr. Fortin allegedly shot a cow moose from his pickup truck on Saturday, September 23, in Westmore. He said that, according to a witness, Mr. Fortin then struck the moose with his truck and shot it again in the head.

Mr. Fortin allegedly chained the moose to his truck and dragged it more than 11 miles to Orleans where it was left to rot by the side of the road. The moose was lactating, indicating that she likely had a calf with her, game wardens said.

Mr. Fortin’s Ford F150 pickup has been seized as evidence, along with his rifle, ammunition, and truck chains, says a press release from Fish and Wildlife. “These items stand to be forfeited upon conviction.”

The suspect is scheduled to appear in Orleans County Superior Court on December 26. He faces fines and restitution of up to $8,000 and up to one year in jail.

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Live green, die green, leave a green corpse

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copyright the Chronicle November 1, 2017

by Elizabeth Trail

 

CRAFTSBURY COMMON — To an ecologist, death isn’t the end, Carl Anderson says. It’s really more like the middle.

Each of our bodies, the biologist and green burial advocate says, is rich with the building blocks for new life. When we decompose in good soil, the nutrients become part of an elegant cycle that has been going on for billions of years.

It’s a process that modern American funeral practices — embalming, vaults, cremation, metal caskets, and the like — do everything possible to interrupt, or at least to put off as long as possible.

The green burial movement is out to restore humans to their rightful place in the nitrogen cycle.

And in the process, it hopes to bring death and death rituals back into homes and family life, just as they have been for most of human history. And still are in most of the world.

Mr. Anderson is a co-sponsor of Act 24, the 2015 Vermont green burial law.

On Saturday afternoon, Mr. Anderson and Act 24’s other sponsor, Michelle Acciavatti, came to Craftsbury to talk about green burial.

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LCAR approves wind noise rule

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copyright the Chronicle November 1, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

MONTPELIER — A regulation that sets limits on how much noise a wind turbine can produce was approved by the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules on Thursday, October 26, by a 5-2 vote.

The committee room in the State House wasn’t as packed as it was for earlier meetings about the rule, but about 20 people dressed in hazard vests indicating their opposition to industrial wind development on ridgelines, attended.

Committee members heard only from witnesses representing the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), which until recently was called the Public Service Board.

The Legislature passed Act 174 in 2016. The law told the PUC to set sound standards for wind turbines.

The rule the PUC wrote in response to the legislative mandate sets a noise limit of 42 decibels during the day and 39 decibels at night.

Representatives from the PUC explained the standard was based on a World Health Organization finding that more people’s sleep and health is disturbed by noises louder than 30 decibels.

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Caledonian accuses former Newport Daily publisher of racketeering

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copyright the Chronicle October 25, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

The Caledonian-Record has gone to federal court to accuse the former publisher of the Newport Daily Express and the company that owns the newspaper of racketeering.

In a suit filed on October 20 in U.S. District Court in Burlington, the Caledonian-Record says it was damaged when Ken Wells lied about his newspaper’s circulation to advertisers and downloaded nearly 700 photographs from Associated Press (AP) using the St. Johnsbury-based paper’s password and account without its knowledge or permission. Most or all of the photos were published in the Daily Express, the suit claims.

Although the Express had an AP account, it did not have a subscription for photographs, the suit alleges.

Mr. Wells served as publisher of the Daily Express from 2006 until November 2016. Between 1987 and 2002 he worked as the paper’s sales manager.

He was dismissed as publisher in early November of 2016. No one from the paper has ever explained the reasons for his departure.

Tuesday evening, Mr. Wells, who is vacationing on the West Coast, said the lawsuit came as a total surprise. “I didn’t see that coming,” he said.

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New Barton senior center in the works

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copyright the Chronicle October 25, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

BARTON — A new senior center is in the works in Barton. Called Barton Area Senior Services, Inc., (BASSI), the new group incorporated with the state as a nonprofit last week. Its organizers plan to resume a regular schedule of meals and senior activities as soon as the IRS grants it nonprofit status.

“If everything goes right, they could be up and running around the first of December,” said Lallie Mambourg at the Council on Aging in St. Johnsbury. That agency provides oversight of senior meal sites in the area and reimburses them for part of the cost of the meals they serve.

In the meantime, local volunteers hope to offer coffee, cards, and lunch on Thursdays at the Barton Memorial Building.

It’s not certain that lunch will be offered every week. But this week and last week, people have stepped up to donate food. And former Barton Senior Center cook Giselle Chevallay has offered to cook without pay for a few Thursdays.

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