North Country wins hockey title

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copyright the Chronicle March 15, 2017

 

Congratulations to the North Country boys’ hockey team — 2017 Division II champions. The Falcons skated to a 4-3 win over a high-powered Harwood Union team on March 9 at UVM’s Gutterson Field House.

North Country opened up a 3-0 lead midway through the contest on a pair of goals by Brady Perron, and a goal and an assist by Dawson Cote. Harwood battled back to tie the game with three unanswered goals. But Mitchell Austin netted the game-winner for the Falcons with about nine minutes to play. Goaltender Dana Marsh finished with 45 saves, breaking a longstanding record for the D-II finals.

The Falcons went 14-5 during the regular season to earn the fourth seed in D-II. Marsh earned a 2-0 shutout over Milton in the opening round of the playoffs at the Jay Peak Ice Haus on March 4, with Brady Perron and Mitchell Gonyaw scoring for the Falcons.

On March 7, North Country upset top-seeded Hartford 6-3 at the Wendell A. Barwood Arena in Hartford to earn its first crack at a championship since losing to Harwood in the 2005 finals. Jordan Cote scored in the closing seconds of the second period to knot that game at two goals apiece, and Alex Giroux took over in the third with three straight goals including the eventual game winner. Tyler Smith and Brady Perron also scored in the semifinal.

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Health Department looks at root causes of addiction

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copyright the Chronicle March 15, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — Preventing heroin addiction may be as simple, or as complicated, as paying attention to the difficulties individuals face in their early years and offering help to overcome those traumas.

That was the message offered at the latest in a series of meetings dedicated to dealing with an epidemic of opioid abuse that has become increasingly virulent in recent years. The meeting, held at North Country Career Center on March 9, was organized by Julie Raboin, a substance abuse prevention consultant with the state Department of Health.

Ms. Raboin pointed to studies that show young people use alcohol and binge drink more often in Orleans County than they do in the state as a whole. When those numbers are broken down by income, it appears that Orleans County’s higher rate of alcohol use is driven by people of lower socioeconomic status.

Young people from wealthier backgrounds have no higher rate of alcohol consumption than do others of their economic background in the state, Ms. Raboin said.

In fact, higher status youth in Orleans County use marijuana at a significantly lower rate than do their peers in the state as a whole. A much higher percentage of young people from less well-off families in Orleans County smoke pot than similarly situated youth in the rest of the state, she said.

Another survey showed that fewer than 50 percent of young people in Orleans County feel valued by the community, Ms. Raboin said.

Youth in the county are much more likely to be disconnected, that is not in school and unemployed, than in Vermont or the nation as a whole, she said.

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Marchers rally for humane immigration policy

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copyright the Chronicle March 8, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

DERBY LINE — A little before 1 p.m. Saturday a well bundled group of people stood in Baxter Park here, about 150 yards from the Canadian border. Some held signs saying “No Muslim Ban,” “Respect Everybody,” “We Are (Almost All) Immigrants, and “Civility Respect Kindness.”

There were no bystanders and not many passing motorists to hear the group chant “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here,” but one man pulled his pickup over and gleefully informed the demonstrators that Donald Trump is now President of the United States.

After a little while the group walked up the street to the First Universalist Parish of Derby Line, where they were joined by late arrivals and some less hardy souls gathering to protest the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

Between 80 and 100 folks squeezed into the church hall for a short program of speeches, songs, and performances by the Bread and Puppet Theater of Glover.

The theater’s band warmed up the crowd with a song before organizer Aimee Alexander introduced featured speaker Susan-Lynn Johns, formerly the minister of the Derby Line church, who currently is associated with a congregation in St. Johnsbury.

Ms. Johns began by reading the opening words from Charles Dicken’s novel A Tale of Two Cities.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,” she read, comparing the times described by Dickens to the present day.

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Newport officials hear some rare good news

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copyright the Chronicle March 8, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — Ernie Pomerleau, the president of Burlington-based Pomerleau Real Estate, hosted a press conference at the Gateway Center here on March 2 to confirm plans he has talked about since at least October. Nevertheless, city and state officials seemed happy to celebrate rare good news, including the owners of the Vista supermarket agreeing to extend their lease for another ten years and to renovate the inside of the store.

Mr. Pomerleau contributed his own glad tidings. He promised to refresh the supermarket’s exterior and to extend the city’s pedestrian path along the shore of Lake Memphremagog from Pomerleau Park to the East Side Restaurant.

Sharing the table in front of about 50 city residents, development professionals, and leaders of nonprofit institutions, were Secretary Michael Schirling of the Agency for Commerce and Community Development, state Treasurer Beth Pearce, Gus Seelig, executive director of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Newport Mayor Paul Monette, and Paul Bruhn, director of the Preservation Trust of Vermont.

The star of the afternoon, though, was Mr. Pomerleau’s father, Tony, the founder of the real estate firm, and a man who, at just under 100 years old, is older than Newport, where he grew up. The city was incorporated in 1918; Mr. Pomerleau was born in 1917.

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Federal receiver fields questions in Jay

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copyright the Chronicle March 8, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

JAY — Residents here heard from the effective owner of Jay Peak Resort before they began their Town Meeting Tuesday morning. Michael Goldberg, the receiver appointed by U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles to oversee the businesses owned by Ariel Quiros, answered questions from voters about the ski area’s future.

The big news was that construction will soon begin on the remaining portion of what is known as the Stateside project. Mr. Quiros, who is facing civil charges of investment fraud in state and federal court, raised money from foreign investors to build a hotel, a recreation center, a medical center, and around 84 homes at the resort.

Mr. Goldberg said work will begin in the next few months on the medical and recreation centers as well as the homes. The hotel was completed and opened in 2013.

The receiver said it is important to finish all construction at the resort so as to get the best price when it goes on the market. The sale, he said, will probably take place in a year or two.

Mr. Goldberg said the area had a record winter, and has already booked 60 weddings for the coming summer.

“To book a wedding a year out, you have to have faith the place is going to be there,” Mr. Goldberg said.

A year or two more of profitable operation should make sure the resort fetches top dollar when it goes on the block, he said.

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Coventry will hire delinquent tax collector

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copyright the Chronicle March 8, 2017

 

by Randi Morse

 

COVENTRY — Arsenic-heavy water and the power of the select board — that was the main meal during Coventry’s Town Meeting on Tuesday.

Over 140 people, including those covering the proceedings from WCAX and PBS, filled the small Coventry Village gym in the town offices building likely anticipating a lot of debate due to the ongoing drama surrounding Town Clerk Cynthia Diaz. Ms. Diaz has been involved in numerous controversies in the past nine years, and recently a forensic audit was done, and it appears a substantial amount of money is missing from town coffers.

There was not, however, much debate about Ms. Diaz, likely due to the multiple informational meetings that the select board opted to have prior to Town Meeting. Even though Ms. Diaz wasn’t the main topic of conversation, there was plenty to discuss.

The first matter of business was to see if the town would give the select board the power to hire someone for the position of collector of delinquent taxes. That post has been voted on by town members and held by Ms. Diaz. Some of the concerns about her involve how delinquent taxes appear to have been handled since she has been in charge of them.

“I’ve been to most board meetings since moving here,” said Dave Barlowe. “I’ve read the reports and a lot of issues in this town are because of the improprieties, alleged, of the delinquent tax collector. It’s very important that this situation be straightened out right now, not 12 years from now. Let the board have the authority to hire someone who is highly qualified to fix this problem.”

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Susan Dunklee takes silver at biathlon world championships

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copyright the Chronicle March 1, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

BARTON — When Stan Dunklee and Judi Robitaille-Dunklee of Barton went to Austria two weeks ago to watch their daughter Susan compete in the biathlon world championships, they didn’t know they’d see her make history.

But on the last day of the competition Susan Dunklee did just that, winning a silver medal and becoming the first American woman ever to stand on the podium at that level of competition in biathlon.

“Biathlon is huge in Europe,” her father said. “It’s the most watched winter sport. But it’s relatively new in the United States.”

And breaking into the winner’s circle has been hard. The 31-year-old Ms. Dunklee was the first American woman to medal at the world championships. And no American woman has yet earned an individual medal in biathlon at the Olympics.

“We try to go to this one every year,” Mr. Dunklee said of the International Biathlon Union World Championships, held this time around in Hochfilzen, Austria.   “It’s the densest cluster of events.”

The IBU World Cup, in comparison, took place over nine weekends in nine countries, starting in Sweden in November, he said.

The Dunklees also watched their daughter race in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where she placed seventh and eighth in two of the biathlon events.

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Four vie for two city council seats

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copyright the Chronicle March 1, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — City voters won’t be asked to make many choices when they cast their ballots on Town Meeting Day. Mayor Paul Monette, who has already served in that office longer than any of his predecessors, is running unopposed for another four-year term and with two exceptions, no city officers face opposition this year.

Newport citizens will be asked to pick two aldermen from a field of four. Three are old city council hands, and the fourth a newcomer to Newport’s government.

Aldermen Jacques Roberge and Steven Vincent are just completing their first two-year term in the twenty-first century, but both men served on the council three decades ago.

Denis Chenette has been off the council for two years. He decided not to run for a fourth term in 2015, opening the way for a six-person race to succeed him and retired Alderman Richard Baraw. Mr. Roberge and Mr. Vincent won the two vacant seats.

The fourth candidate is Bill Hafer, who has lived in Newport for the past 11 years. A Pennsylvania native, Mr. Hafer moved around the country as required for his job with General Electric. He decided to settle down in the Northeast Kingdom when he retired.

All of the candidates spoke with the Chronicle Saturday and Sunday and each shared his vision for the city’s future.

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South beach project faces opposition

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copyright the Chronicle March 1, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

LYNDONVILLE — About 70 people filled the Burke Mountain Room at Lyndon State College on February 23 to express their concerns about plans to put restrooms, parking, and handicapped-accessible trails at the south end of Lake Willoughby. The land is part of Willoughby State Forest.

Site plans were recently released by the Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation (FPR), and the public was invited to Thursday’s informational meeting.

Participants seemed to be divided between the simply curious and people who wanted to see the plans scaled back. A vocal few just wanted the beaches at the south end of the lake left alone.

“This is nature’s cathedral, why don’t we protect this?” asked Beverley Decker.

Louis Bushey from the St. Johnsbury office of FPR seemed a little taken aback by the size of the group and the objections.

“We held a public meeting in November 2015,” he said. “And these plans are the direct result of what people said they wanted.”

“All of the calls that I’ve gotten have been positive,” said Bill Perkins, a member of the Westmore Select Board.

Because the south end of the lake is state land, the select board has no control over the plans, he said.

The plans aren’t intended to change the nature of the south end of the lake, Mr. Bushey said. And they’re certainly not intended to increase the volume of visitors, though that’s likely to happen over time, just because the population is growing.

The point, he said, was simply to address existing problems — cars parked along the road shoulder, paths eroding from foot traffic, human waste in the woods, and runoff from the road going directly into the lake.

“We’ve all seen the plume after a rain,” he said to nods around the room.

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Ice fishing tournament covers the Kingdom

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copyright the Chronicle March 1, 2017

 

by Brad Usatch

 

Game fish from Harvey’s Lake to Great Averill Pond are breathing a sigh of relief this week after having somehow lived through another Northeast Kingdom Ice Fishing Derby.

In its thirteenth year, the contest founded and hosted by Wright’s Sport Shop in Newport attracted fishermen from Maine to New York State for fun and camaraderie, and to test their ice fishing wiles with the hope of taking home a share of $50,000 in cash and prizes.

Unusual for any fishing tournament, the contest encompasses every major water body in the Northeast Kingdom and is open to most game fish species — salmon, rainbow trout, lake trout, brown trout, walleye, northern pike, and perch.

The derby ran from the crack of dawn on Thursday, February 23, until noon on Sunday, with a separate Saturday-only derby for children 14 and younger.

Wright’s Sport Shop owner Ron Wright said the idea for the tournament came from his daughter.

“That first year we had 76 or 77 entries, and it just went from there,” he said.

This year, Mr. Wright said, the final numbers listed over 600 adults and 168 children who had registered for the event.

By midday on Friday, Wright’s was already buzzing with activity. Fish were brought in, weighed, measured, and piled in large plastic tote bins to be cleaned for the celebratory dinner.

Tom Deslandes of Newport pulled three northerns out of the back of his truck that appeared to be at least five or six pounds each, but he said they were nothing compared to the nine-pounder he had pulled in on Thursday.

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