An appreciation of the worst Thanksgiving of my life

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copyright the Chronicle November 23, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail

 

The worst Thanksgiving of my life was probably the year when, as a young wife, it was my turn to put on the holiday meal for my husband’s family.

My own family was 3,000 miles away in California.

The other day on the radio, a commentator talking about regional holiday menus said, more or less, “Well, let’s just not talk about California.”

The implication was that California Thanksgivings are all about exotic side dishes and getting the right wine.

Maybe there was a little bit of that, especially after my grandparents were gone. We’re a food curious lot. But whatever was on the table, the holiday was definitely about good food, family, and conversation.

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A railroad runs through it

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copyright the Chronicle November 23, 2016

by Brad Usatch

 

Every rule is written in blood.

When Vermont Railway engineer Sean Harper and conductor Seth Rowell offered up this railroad maxim, they weren’t being dramatic. They were simply sharing the reality that undergirds the methodical repetition of procedures that marks every action they take.

The Chronicle was recently invited to ride along with a railroad crew from Vermont Railway to learn a little about this transportation corridor that runs through the heart of Orleans County. This reporter met with the crew on Friday at the Newport switchyard and eventually traveled south to its Lyndonville transload facility.

“I don’t like to think of it as a dangerous job,” Mr. Harper said.

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Walmart opens amidst policing concerns

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copyright the Chronicle November 16, 2016

 

 by Joseph Gresser

DERBY — The Derby Walmart Supercenter will open its doors for the first time early on November 16, but according to State Police Lieutenant Walt Smith, commander of the Derby barracks, issues of public safety remain to be addressed.

Lieutenant Smith, along with Captain Mike Henry, who heads the St. Johnsbury State Police outpost, visited the Derby Select Board back in March. He said his troopers would not be able to handle what he expects will be a large number of calls from the new store.

Lieutenant Smith explained that he’s responsible for ensuring the safety of 30 communities in the Northeast Kingdom, and his forces are stretched too thin to allow him to focus on minor offenses committed at Walmart.

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Diaz to bill town for delinquent tax collector’s fee

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copyright the Chronicle November 16, 2016

 

by Elizabeth Trail

COVENTRY — There was largely stunned silence around the room Monday night when the select board read aloud part of a note from delinquent tax collector Cynthia Diaz.

The note said that Ms. Diaz plans to bill the town next week for the 8 percent penalty charged to four taxpayers whose late property taxes she collected recently.

That would be business as usual in most towns, but it came at the same time that the select board was hearing auditor Jeff Graham, who has been scrutinizing Coventry’s books, say that at least $26,000 in cash tax payments is known to be missing from the 2013 to 2015 tax years. And he said he expects the number will be higher.

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Changing the way health care is delivered

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copyright the Chronicle November 16, 2016

 

by Joseph Gresser

On October 26 the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB) gave its approval to a new way to pay for medical services, called the all-payer model. The next day Governor Peter Shumlin and Secretary Hal Cohen of the state Agency on Human Services followed suit, putting their names to an agreement that’s meant to reconfigure the state’s health care system.

Even before the election, Governor-elect Phil Scott said he thought the agreement was approved with too much haste. In interviews after voters picked him to succeed Governor Shumlin, Mr. Scott said he plans to look at the model more closely before deciding whether to continue on the path it sets out, or cancel the agreement.

The results of the national election may relieve him of that task. President-elect Donald Trump has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more commonly known as Obamacare.

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Towns try for better roads

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copyright the Chronicle November 16, 2016

 

by Elizabeth Trail

There’s a new style of ditching along the roads around the Kingdom — and the rest of the state.

Traditional grassy road shoulders are disappearing, replaced by ditches. Not only are the ditches deeper and wider than what most people are used to, but they’re also often lined with rock to slow water movement and catch mud and sediment.

Some of the drop-offs can feel insecure to drive next to, especially where the road crown has also been arched up higher in the middle, and the last foot of road edge is soft because it hasn’t settled yet.

It seems intuitive that when the ditches are deeper and there’s no shoulder, drivers have fewer options when faced with a deer or a fast-moving hay truck.

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Incumbents returned to office  

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copyright the Chronicle November 9, 2016,

County votes for Scott, Trump

Despite some hard fought races, Orleans County returned all incumbents to office Tuesday.

The closest contest was the Orleans-Lamoille House race, where Republican Mark Higley fended off a challenge, for the second time, from Democrat Katherine Sims. The vote was 1080-914. Both candidates are from Lowell.

Shortly before midnight Ms. Sims sent out a graceful concession note. “We came up just short but that’s okay, we fought hard,” she said.

In the Orleans-Caledonia House race, Democrat Sam Young of Glover and Republican Vicki Strong of Albany were easily re-elected with vote totals nearly double that of newcomers Matt Eldridge, a Glover Democrat, and Frank Huard, a Republican from Craftsbury.

Republican incumbents Mike Marcotte and Gary Viens also easily won re-election in House district Orleans-2. Mr. Marcotte was the top vote getter with 1,955, a tad more than Mr. Viens’ 1,923. Democratic challengers Ron Holland and Judith Jackson received 1,279 and 903 votes, respectively.

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Coventry Select Board votes to move investments before election

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copyright the Chronicle November 9, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail

The select board here voted Monday night to follow the recommendation of Louise Evans at Hunt Financial Services and move the town’s money into safer investments on Tuesday morning.

Tuesday is Election Day, and that played a part in Ms. Evans’ recommendation. The other part, she said, was her sense that the board isn’t sure which it values most: safety or a higher rate of return.

“Park it on the sidelines,” Ms. Evans said. “Be clear about what you want, and let the market settle.”

This year’s election, and the political drama surrounding it, is creating uncertainty in the market, she said, noting that the stock market dropped eight days in a row leading up to last Friday, something that hasn’t happened since the 1980s.

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At long last, Lake Region reigns

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copyright the Chronicle November 9, 2016

by Tena Starr and Brad Usatch

It’s been nearly 40 years since the Lake Region Union High School boys soccer team made it to a championship game. The last time was in 1978 when they lost to Milton. In the school’s 49 years of existence, the team has often been excellent — but never been a champion.

Until Saturday.

It was a big time payback at South Burlington High School Saturday afternoon when LR once again made it to the championship, and once again faced Milton.

This time, an undefeated Lake Region came home with the trophy and a decisive 4-0 win. Over the course of the season, they outscored their opponents 105-6.

The hard fought first half of Saturday’s game ended 1-0 with the goal by Matthew Lawlor, set up by Riley Urie, who scored three in the second half, pretty much assuring a Lake Region win well before the clock ran out.

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Coventry Fire District confronts arsenic in its water supply

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copyright the Chronicle November 9, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail

Water customers in Coventry village and some surrounding areas have been warned that they should avoid drinking unfiltered tap water.

The Coventry Fire District #1 (CFD) operates the public water supply, which serves about 60 homes, Coventry Village School, and public buildings. It got word from the state in September that the arsenic level in its well had gone over the legal limit of ten parts per billion.

The CFD immediately posted notices around town, told the select board and the school, and sent mailings out to users.

On November 3, about 40 people, most of them CFD water users, came to the Coventry Community Center to ask questions, express their opinions, and hear from state officials about what’s going to happen next.

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