Stiffer regs proposed for farmers

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Clark Hinsdale, retiring president of the Vermont Farm Bureau, listens to Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross read a proclamation from Governor Peter Shumlin honoring the centennial of the organization.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

Clark Hinsdale, retiring president of the Vermont Farm Bureau, listens to Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross read a proclamation from Governor Peter Shumlin honoring the centennial of the organization. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle November 11, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

JAY — All but the tiniest Vermont farms will be expected to keep close tabs on runoff from fields. That was the stern message delivered by Laura DiPietro, deputy director of the Agriculture Resource Management Division for the state Agency of Agriculture to delegates at the 2015 annual meeting of the Vermont Farm Bureau.

Ms. DiPietro set forth the substance of what her boss, Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross, called “a draft draft” of regulations establishing required agricultural practices (RAP) for the state’s farms. While Ms. DiPietro encouraged farmers to raise questions and contribute their opinions before the draft of the regulations is finalized in January, it was clear from her remarks, and those of Mr. Ross, that the state intends to ask more from farmers in its attempt to control phosphorus pollution in Lake Champlain.

Mr. Ross, who owns a farm in Hinesburg… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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A pre-dawn hay run to Canada

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The workday isn’t over yet for Richard Labrecque, pictured here in front of his loaded truck, which he parked in the Barton Motors parking lot.  After six hours of driving and one hour of loading, he spent the rest of the day working in his sugarbush.

The workday isn’t over yet for Richard Labrecque, pictured here in front of his loaded truck, which he parked in the Barton Motors parking lot. After six hours of driving and one hour of loading, he spent the rest of the day working in his sugarbush.

copyright the Chronicle November 4, 2015

by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

The sun was nowhere near rising when this reporter met Richard Labrecque of Barton at the Circle K in Barton to go on a hay run to Canada in his Western Star truck and trailer.

“You all set?” he said as he leaned against a friend’s car, sipping his coffee. “Let’s go.”

Mr. Labrecque sells the hay he buys in Canada to farms in Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

“It’s good money if you know your French,” he said about the business.

Mr. Labrecque grew up speaking French with his family, and going on 200 hay runs to Canada per year helps him keep it up.

As he drove his big truck onto Interstate 91, headed north, he switched on… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Organic farmers demonstrate in Stowe

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Pete Johnson of Craftsbury stands atop a suitable platform Monday to speak in favor of requiring organic vegetables to be grown in soil, rather than hydroponically.  Photos by Joseph Gresser

Pete Johnson of Craftsbury stands atop a suitable platform Monday to speak in favor of requiring organic vegetables to be grown in soil, rather than hydroponically. Photos by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle October 28, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

STOWE — The farmers wanted there to be no doubt about what they favored, so they dumped a pile of beautiful soil in the parking lot of the Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa Monday afternoon. The mound of dirt served as both the metaphoric and literal platform for speakers at a demonstration here Monday. The group wants federal regulators to find that hydroponically grown produce does not qualify for the organic label.

“Feed the soil, not the plant,” has long been a maxim of the organic farming movement, and it was a refrain repeated by several speakers at the event.

Hydroponic vegetables are grown with their roots in nutrient solutions without soil. While all the farmers agreed there is a place for hydroponically grown produce, they insisted that labeling it as organic would make the designation meaningless.

The primary audience for the demonstration, which lured a sizeable crowd of vegetable growers away from their fields, was the… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Efficiency, economy, and school funding discussed at Barton Chamber meeting

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Bob Murphy, public events coordinator from Efficiency Vermont, addresses the Barton Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting at the WilloughVale Inn in Westmore on Thursday night.  Mr. Murphy and project intake coordinator Adam Tower talked about how businesses can take advantage of Efficiency Vermont’s help, from technical advice to incentives or rebates, to improving their energy efficiency and save money.  Photo by Elizabeth Trail

Bob Murphy, public events coordinator from Efficiency Vermont, addresses the Barton Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting at the WilloughVale Inn in Westmore on Thursday night. Mr. Murphy and project intake coordinator Adam Tower talked about how businesses can take advantage of Efficiency Vermont’s help, from technical advice to incentives or rebates, to improving their energy efficiency and save money. Photo by Elizabeth Trail

copyright the Chronicle October 28, 2015

by Elizabeth Trail

WESTMORE — Bob Murphy of Efficiency Vermont opened his presentation to the Barton Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual gathering by asking how many people in the room used electricity or other fuels in the course of operating their businesses.

Every hand in the room went up.

“How many of you have been in touch with us to find out how you can use less energy and save money?” Mr. Murphy asked.

Three or four hands went up.

“That’s not a matching number of hands,” he said.

Mr. Murphy and his co-worker Adam Tower were the featured speakers at the chamber’s annual dinner, which was held on Thursday, October 22, at the WilloughVale Inn. More than 40 members and guests came to enjoy a buffet style dinner, cash bar, speakers, and… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Congressman Welch spends a day in the NEK

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Congressman Peter Welch is led along racks of Cabot Clothbound Cheddar by his guide, cheesemaker Mateo Kehler, right.  Ryan Nickle, Mr. Welch’s communication director, lags behind amid five miles of cheese-laden shelves.

Congressman Peter Welch is led along racks of Cabot Clothbound Cheddar by his guide, cheesemaker Mateo Kehler, right. Ryan Nickle, Mr. Welch’s communication director, lags behind amid five miles of cheese-laden shelves.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle October 21, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

GREENSBORO — The life of a congressman in Washington, D.C., may not be all beer and skittles, but U.S. Representative Peter Welch had an easy day Monday. While lawn bowling wasn’t on the agenda, beer and cheese certainly were.

Mr. Welch started out a day long visit to the Kingdom at Sterling College in Craftsbury Common, where he conferred with President Matthew Derr before taking a tour of the Rian Fried Center and meeting the college’s draft horses and its flock of turkeys.

While the two clearly enjoyed walking through the campus farm on a crisp October morning, there was some legislative purpose to the get together, as Mr. Welch later explained.

Sterling is a so-called work college,… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Irasburg votes 274-9 against wind projects

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Irasburg Select Board Chair Robin Kay addresses the meeting, flanked by selectmen Brian Sanville (left) and  Brian Fecher (right.)  The select board moved its table onto the stage in order to make room for additional rows of chairs to accommodate the crowd.  Photo by Elizabeth Trail

Irasburg Select Board Chair Robin Kay addresses the meeting, flanked by selectmen Brian Sanville (left) and Brian Fecher (right.) The select board moved its table onto the stage in order to make room for additional rows of chairs to accommodate the crowd. Photo by Elizabeth Trail

copyright the Chronicle October 7, 2015

by Elizabeth Trail

IRASBURG — People filled the town hall and spilled out into the street on Thursday, October 1, to vote “no” on wind development in Irasburg. Hundreds stood in line to get into the overfilled town hall for a special select board meeting on the future of wind development on Irasburg ridgelines.

Although the vote was nonbinding, the final tally was an overwhelming 274 against and 9 in favor.

The question on the ballot was “Shall Kidder Hill, or any other ridgelines of the town of Irasburg, Vermont, be used for development by industrial wind turbine projects?”

The meeting was the latest in a series of responses to a proposal by energy developer David Blittersdorf to put two 500-foot wind turbines on land he owns on Kidder Hill.

On August 11, at least 40 people, including two state legislators, came to the Irasburg Select Board meeting to talk about wind. After… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Getting ready for universal preschool

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Pictured here is the Central Orleans Family Education Center, which is run by the Orleans Central Supervisory Union. About 100 children attend preschool there.

Pictured here is the Barton location of the Central Orleans Family Education Center, which is run by the Orleans Central Supervisory Union. About 100 children attend preschool there.

copyright the Chronicle October 7, 2015

by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

ALBANY — Kelly Peters of Albany has two young children. One is in preschool after a year-long wait, and the other is on the waiting list to get in.

According to Ms. Peters, there aren’t many preschool options, whether they’re private or public, and daycare is also in short supply.

The universal preschool law that goes into effect on July 1 next year, Act 166, says that school districts are required to provide access to ten hours of preschool per week for all children aged three to five. Children don’t have to go to preschool, but the service must be available. How the districts choose to implement that is different throughout the state.

It’s an onion type issue, said Diane Nichols-Fleming, the North Country Supervisory Union (NCSU) early childhood program coordinator. Keep peeling back layers and you’ll definitely be crying by the end, she said.

NCSU, which used to operate… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Brighton woman accused of embezzlement

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Janet Katalina.  Photo courtesy of the State Police

Janet Katalina. Photo courtesy of the State Police

copyright the Chronicle September 30, 2015

by Tena Starr

A Brighton woman has been accused of embezzling about $29,000 from the Passumpsic Bank. Janet Katalina, 52, worked at the St. Johnsbury Center branch of the bank as accounting analyst and payroll specialist.

On August 20, Passumpsic Bank officials reported to the State Police that Ms. Katalina had embezzled money from the bank’s accounts — not customer accounts, Detective Sergeant Jason Letourneau said in a press release.

He said Ms. Katalina was fired on August 19.

“Bank officials determined, and the investigation confirmed, that Katalina first embezzled $734 on December 19, 2014, by cashing in her annual leave without actually adjusting her annual leave balance,” Detective Sergeant Letourneau’s statement says.

It was Ms. Katalina’s job, as payroll specialist, to be responsible for recording that type of information. She took steps to hide… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Abundant apple crop causes damage to trees

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Branches on a young tree at Burtt’s Orchard in Cabot sag under the weight of this year’s apple crop.  Photo courtesy of Burtt’s Orchard

Branches on a young tree at Burtt’s Orchard in Cabot sag under the weight of this year’s apple crop. Photo courtesy of Burtt’s Orchard

copyright the Chronicle September 30, 2015

by Tena Starr

In the apple growing business, they call this an “on” year, but “on” doesn’t come close to describing this year’s harvest.

It’s a banner year for fruit in general, but the apple crop is beyond abundant.

It’s so good, in fact, that Kate Butler at Labour of Love landscaping in Glover finds she has an unusual amount of work pruning apples trees with branches that have simply broken off from the weight of the fruit they’re bearing.

“We do apple tree work as a matter of course anyway,” Ms. Butler said. “But there are people whose trees have not been worked on in some years, and they’re having a lot of trouble with breakage. It’s a confluence of events.”

Wild trees and trees planted domestically by home gardeners are having the most trouble, she said.

“It’s not so important for commercial… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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