Newport council excluded from redevelopment meeting

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copyright the Chronicle August 23, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — City council members were surprised, and none too happy, to learn Tuesday that the consultant they hired to guide the city’s redevelopment efforts would be meeting with a steering committee organized by the Newport City Renaissance Corporation (NCRC) the next morning.

The council members were not invited to the meeting, which is to plan strategies for economic redevelopment in the city. In fact, they only learned about it when a reporter called to ask what they knew about it.

When asked if he knew there was to be such a meeting, City Council President John Wilson replied, “I did not know that.”

He said he was not pleased to learn he had been excluded from that information, but said only that he would deal with the matter, “in my own way.”

Council member Denis Chenette said, “I didn’t know about it until Mr. Wilson called me.”

Three council members said they plan to crash the gates at the meeting.

According to Newport Mayor Paul Monette, there was no reason the council members should have been informed. He said he was invited to be a steering committee member by NCRC.

“I attend a lot of meetings, I don’t tell the council about all of them,” Mr. Monette said Tuesday evening. “Sometimes I meet with people who want to do business in the city. I don’t tell the council because they ask me not to.”

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Lawsuit alleges voter fraud in Victory

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copyright the Chronicle August 23, 2017

 

 by Tena Starr

 

VICTORY — In a town the size of Victory, whose population is about the size of a big extended family, a small number of votes can make a very big difference in a local election. In fact, former Victory Town Clerk Tracey Martel claims four votes in particular, which she alleges were illegal, contributed to her defeat as town clerk and treasurer at Town Meeting in March.

She also claims that others who might have voted for her were prevented from voting. Her opponent, current and incumbent Town Clerk Carol Easter, actively kept people from voting by failing to mail absentee ballots on a timely basis and challenging some people’s residency, Ms. Martel charges.

She has sued the town, Ms. Easter, the Victory Board of Civil Authority, and a host of others — 18 people or entities in all — including Robert and Toni Flanigan and their two adult sons, who she says are residents of Connecticut, not Victory, and should not have been allowed to vote in the March Town Meeting election for local office.

The lawsuit is the latest, or near latest, in Victory where conducting town business can be so fractious that law enforcement attends select board meetings. Essex County Sheriff Trevor Colby said the town has contracted with his Sheriff’s Department to provide security at all select board meetings.

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Demo derby drivers crash for cash

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copyright the Chronicle August 23, 2017

by Elizabeth Trail

 

BARTON — “Protect your front end and a lot of luck,” said Heidi Taylor of West Glover when asked about the strategy that carried her to a third-place finish in the four-cylinder division of the Demolition Derby on Sunday night.

After finishing in the top three in the afternoon qualifying heat, Ms. Taylor and her battered Dodge Neon faced a field of 24 in the final four-cylinder feature.

Nimbly dodging a constant barrage of rear-facing attackers, the Lake Region Union High School graduate’s pink and silver helmet with its full face mask lent an air of almost zen-like calm as she methodically shifted gears and churned through the mud, seeming to weigh the prospective damage to her own car before hurtling backwards into another.

Unlike many of the flashier drivers, who inflicted as much damage on themselves as they did on others, she survived until nearly the end of each of her races.

And at the final horn, blonde hair flying, she jumped off the hood of her car and headed for the stage to claim her trophy.

For those who think of cars as mysterious and delicate things, the annual Demolition Derby is a humbling reminder that, in the right hands, a car can take an unbelievable amount of abuse and simply refuse to die.

Demolition Derby cars just keep going with radiators steaming, wheels turning at improbable angles, and trunks compacted into the space where the back seat was.

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Man charged in Newport knife fight

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copyright the Chronicle August 23, 2017

 

by Paul Lefebvre

 

NEWPORT — A knife-swinging melee in downtown Newport Saturday night has led to charges here this week in Orleans County Superior Court.

As the only suspect cited for his role in the fracas, Everett Wilson, 26, of Newport pled innocent to both a felony charge of aggravated assault with a weapon and to a companion misdemeanor of possessing a narcotic.

Mr. Wilson was released on conditions, including a nighttime curfew, a ban on possessing weapons, and a restriction from going into bars or liquor stores.

The charges arose out of what police say was a large fight fueled by blame and mistrust that one of the combatants was a snitch, who had informed on drug dealers or users.

It was late Saturday night on August 19 when Newport police arrived at the downtown intersection of Central and Main. They were responding to reports that people were fighting in the streets, and that one was armed with a knife, according to the affidavit of Newport Patrolman Tanner Jacobs.

Police say they corralled two men, including Mr. Wilson, and were holding them at gunpoint when a third man aggressively approached them with blood on his right hand and arm.

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Beware of fake eclipse viewing glasses

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copyright the Chronicle August 16, 2017

 

 by Tena Starr

 

Northeast Vision Center in Newport recently bought 100 pairs of special glasses to hand out to patients so they could safely watch the August 21 solar eclipse. They intended the glasses to be a gesture of good will, a service to their customers.

But on Monday Amazon delivered the unfortunate news that the glasses might not be safe after all.

Now, Northeast Vision is urging patients who received the glasses to throw them away. Instead they can come in and get a new pair that will be safe.

The problem, Sophie Logan at Northeast Vision said, is that the market has suddenly been flooded with fraudulent eclipse-viewing glasses as a result of the rare eclipse. And the fraudulent marketers have gotten very good at making their fakes appear to be the real thing.

“We are all so devastated,” Ms. Logan said. “Thank God we only had 100 of them to give out. We have 100 to replace those now, and we’re getting another 100 on Friday for people to come and get.”

The result of viewing a partial solar eclipse without proper glasses could be blindness, Ms. Logan said.

“It’s pretty scary stuff,” she said. “I feel like everyone should be aware of this. In general, I know a lot of people who have ordered from Amazon.”

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Barton’s Hall of Fame farmers

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copyright the Chronicle August 16, 2017

 

by Paul Lefebvre

 

BARTON — Rupert Chamberlin stands next to the railing on his deck, which affords a magnificent view of the countryside and the Jay mountain range in the distance. It’s not the view, though, that holds his interest. Although retired, he’s a farmer first and always. And today he’s got his eye on a piece of land just below the house that needs to brush hogged.

As someone who has farmed for most of his 83 years, he says there is a technique to brush hogging. His approach is to first brush hog the land counter-clockwise, and then to do it again clockwise. That way, he says, you get the grass that was only bent over on the first pass. As a finishing touch, he brush hogs the land once more, going back and forth, as if he were mowing his lawn.

His observations about brush, or bush, hogging are likely characteristic of someone who has been working the land as a dairy farmer since graduating from the Vermont Agricultural and Technical Institute in Randolph in 1953. Or someone who has stuck it out through thick and thin.

“I’ve moved five times and haven’t gone a mile,” he says, speaking about a farming life that began when he became a partner on his father’s farm out of college, and eventually took it over in 1958, the same year he started breeding registered Jerseys.

A few years later, in 1960, he took on a life partner when he married Muriel Rochelu, who has been with him through the lean years as well as the ones more robust.

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Border grants will help Newport rec path, local business

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copyright the Chronicle August 16, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

HARDWICK — The Northern Borders Regional Commission gave a major boost to the proposed extension of Newport’s recreation path when it awarded $425,000 to the Vermont Land Trust on August 10.

Senator Patrick Leahy and Governor Phil Scott were on hand at a ceremony at the yellow barn on Route 15 in Hardwick that once was home to the Greensboro Garage. They presented $2.2-million in border commission grants to ten Vermont projects.

They included $250,000 to the town of Hardwick to buy the yellow barn and convert it into an incubator space for new agricultural businesses; $250,00 to allow Neighborworks of Western Vermont to expand its HEAT squad program to the Northeast Kingdom; and $46,000 to help the Vermont Brewers Association create a mobile phone version of its Brewery Challenge Passport program.

The Northern Borders Regional Commission is a federal-state partnership that helps economic developments in northern parts of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

It was established in the federal farm bill passed in 2008 and first received money two years later. The commission helps fund Vermont projects in Orleans, Essex, Caledonia, Lamoille, Franklin, and Grand Isle counties.

The grant to the land trust will cover a bit less than half the $1-million or so it will take to extend the recreation trail about a mile, from Prouty Beach through Bluffside Farm, said Tracy Zschau, the land trust’s conservation director.

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Glover residents unhappy about sewer blowout

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copyright the Chronicle August 16, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

DATELINE — Several Glover residents attended the August 10 select board meeting here to talk about an attempt last week to blow out the village sewer lines that went wrong.

In Doug Safford’s house, one of the three most seriously affected in the incident, raw sewage rose up out of the toilets even as he stood on the street talking to Selectman Jack Sumberg.

“We heard the gurgling in the lines, and I saw the tanker truck out on the street,” Mr. Safford said. “I went out to see what was happening.”

Mr. Safford said he got short shrift from the equipment operator from Hartigan Wastewater Services of Middlesex.

“He just ignored me and kept doing what he was doing,” Mr. Safford said. “Jack apologized but no one stopped to see what was going on. And when I got back to the house, Cheri was screaming and stuff was bubbling out of the toilet.”

The Glover Select Board hired Hartigan to clear out an obstruction in the sewer line.

Hartigan offers what it calls “vactor” service, a specially equipped truck able to blow out rocks, gravel, and other obstructions lodged inside underground sewer lines.

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Barton fair turns 150

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copyright the Chronicle August 9, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

BARTON — The Orleans County Fair, which is 150 years old this year, has marked the end, or at least the beginning of the end, of summer for generations of Northeast Kingdom residents. Since 1868, the second year of the fair, people have streamed through the gates of Roaring Brook Park to show off their cattle, watch contests that pit beasts and machines against gravity, and to enjoy gravity defying rides.

From the start, the fair has been a place where serious agricultural pursuits contend for public attention with other activities that, through the years have been considered frivolous, if not downright sinful.

While the fair’s origins may seem lost in the mists of time, the connection between past and present is closer than one may imagine.

On August 31, 1867, a group of men met in Irasburg, then the shire town of Orleans County, and voted to create a society for the “improvement of agricultural productions, useful domestic manufactures, and the mechanic arts.” The Orleans County Agricultural Society moved quickly and the Irasburgh Independent Standard of October 11, 1867, offered a report on the fair, which was held several days earlier in Orleans, then known as Barton Landing.

In his account, A. A. Earle, the editor of the Standard lists the exhibitors who were rewarded with premiums. Among them was one H.C. Cleveland of Coventry, who came away with a total of $6.50 in recognition of the high quality of his Durham cows.

“That was my grandfather,” said Harvey Cleveland, himself a past president of the fair.

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Sewage explodes from Glover toilets

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copyright the Chronicle August 9, 2017

by Elizabeth Trail

 

GLOVER — Kate Butler came home from a hard day of work on Monday and was mystified to find her bathroom walls, towels, and counters soaked with water.

“It was really smelly,” she said. “Wet everywhere.”

It tuned out that an attempt to clear out a clogged sewer line in Glover Village early in the afternoon had backfired, leaving several residents with water — or worse — in their bath and laundry rooms.

In Theresa Perron’s house, raw sewage spewed out of the toilet, coating towels, walls, toothbrushes, and the shower curtain, Ms. Perron’s niece Hannah Cole said.

“Projectile poop,” Ms. Cole called it.

The brown wave surged into Ms. Perron’s brand new washing machine. It shot up out of the pipe that the drain goes into, coating both washer and dryer.

“We literally had poop stains on the ceiling,” Ms. Cole said.

“We were cleaning out the lines with pressure,” Glover Selectman Jack Sumberg said. “As an unforeseen consequence, it blew back into some people’s houses.”

Ms. Cole and Ms. Perron had quite a cleaning job.

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