When “NO” means “YES”


While some are critical of our Representatives for their “NO” votes, I personally think we should be thanking them for their “NO” votes.
The current Legislature under the guidance of Governor Peter Shumlin introduced numerous bills that raised taxes, such as H.754 that increased property taxes approximately 10%; other bills added costs to individuals and businesses as in H.468 that mandates increasing percentages of renewable electricity over the next two decades.  Several bills associated with Green Mountain Health Care attempting to bring the cost down; H.436, H.202, H.558 and H.559.   And H.718 that would compel the Public Service Board to refund to ratepayers their money as originally promised.  And H.41 that required mandatory work breaks. All of these bills originated with the Administration except H.41, and not with the House or with Speaker Shap Smith.
We should be thankful for Orleans County Representatives Marcotte, Kilmartin, Lewis, Batchelor, Strong and Higley for voting NO to increase your taxes, NO to increasing your cost of living or cost of doing business, NO to Green Mountain Health Care, until we know the cost, NO to bigger State Government and NO to increasing your electric rates.  Your Representatives are looking out for you and we definitely want them back in Montpelier.  Representative Young voted YES on all the above.

Chet Greenwood


Supporting John Rodgers

Dear Editor,
We are writing in support of John S Rodgers’ run for Vermont State Senate. Many know that John is a  hard working man born and raised in the hills of the Northeast Kingdom. He is a proud father and loving husband and an contributing member of his community. He is honest, and is a man of strong conviction who is dedicated to representing the diverse voices of his constituents. What you may not know is the work John has done for people in the area even while out of office. John reached out to our family, during a time of great need, purely out of the kindness of his heart. He provided an invaluable amount of support completely unsolicited and expected nothing in return. It is the strength of this character that will represent the needs of the people of Vermont and be the best choice for Senate in the Essex/Orleans district.
Thank you,
Jeb & Amalia Harris
East Albany, Vermont


Editorial the Chronicle endorses…

copyright the Chronicle 10-31-2012

What follows is the least important part of the Chronicle’s election coverage.  We have tried, in the course of this election season, to give the candidates a fair opportunity to speak for themselves, and our readers an opportunity to speak for the candidates of their choice.

But political endorsements are an old journalistic tradition, and one that in a few races we feel compelled to follow.

 For state senator:  Starr and Rodgers

 With the departure of Vince Illuzzi from the state Senate, Orleans County is left with one legislator with an honest claim to deep experience and long seniority, and the influence that comes with them.  Bobby Starr has served in both houses in Montpelier.

He served a highly effective stint as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and has a reasonable chance of taking over the chairmanship of the Senate Agriculture Committee if he is returned to Montpelier.  To fail to give him that opportunity would be to squander what little influence the Northeast Kingdom has over the conduct of the state’s business.

For the second choice for the two Senate seats in the Orleans-Essex district we endorse John Rodgers.  He and Representative Bob Lewis both have experience in the House.  Our review of their records indicates that Mr. Rodgers’ is stronger — that he has dealt effectively with issues that are closer to the heartbeat of our corner of the state.

Mr. Rodgers lost his House seat two years ago because he felt he was too busy with his small construction business to campaign.  He has clearly learned his lesson.  And as we watch his continuing struggle to juggle the demands of his own and the public’s business, we are reminded of an old adage:  If you want to get something done, hire a busy man.

 For lieutenant governor, Phil Scott

 For lieutenant governor we like the incumbent, Phil Scott.  As a Republican who presides over a Senate dominated by Democrats, Mr. Scott has proven to be an agile leader as well as an extremely bipartisan one.

In a State House where party bickering often gets in the way of conducting the state’s business, Mr. Scott has kept his mind on the job.  From his place behind the podium, he neither scolded his colleagues nor blamed members of the opposition when a piece of legislation went begging for action.

As a lieutenant governor Mr. Scott has also been an active one outside the State House.  He has traveled throughout the state talking to workers about the jobs they do, and often showing a willingness to roll up his sleeves and pitch in.

Perhaps his love for racing at Thunder Road has instilled in him a respect for people who work with their hands.  Whatever the reason, it’s a commendable trait to see in any politician — especially one from a party that often seems aligned with power and wealth.

 For state treasurer, Beth Pearce

 In the treasurer’s race we recommend the election of Beth Pearce.  She has ably performed the duties of the position over the past two years in a nonpartisan fashion.  We believe that as the state moves toward taking a greater role in Vermont’s health care system, it will be important to have a treasurer who can work in a cooperative fashion to oversee major changes in a responsible fashion.  Ms. Pearce, in our judgment, fits that bill.

Editors’ note:  The Chronicle’s endorsements are based on a consensus of the editorial staff.  Opinions are the writer’s own.  This is the last edition before the election, which means we have edited out negative comments that might lead a candidate to wish to reply. This website, www.bartonchronicle.com, will be open for endorsements or other comments through November 2.  You may leave a reply here or send a letter to: [email protected]



Opinion: Sims is the right choice

by Bethany M. Dunbar

Katherine Sims of Lowell is the right choice for voters in the new Orleans-Lamoille House district.

Green Mountain Farm to School started as a small project at the Jay-Westfield school in 2005.  Ms. Sims and the former principal, Dean Vervoort, put together a plan to get the kids involved in planting a garden and taste-testing some recipes made with produce from that garden.  Connections were made with local farmers to provide fresh food and opportunities for children to learn about how their food is produced.

To say it was a giant success is an understatement.  Today Green Mountain Farm to School has spread to schools all over northern Vermont and is a national model.  It’s an idea whose roots are deep around here.  The local food movement is sometimes about consulting one’s grandparents about gardening and cooking in old-fashioned ways.  Ms. Sims provided the spark to make it happen.

Her work with Green Mountain Farm to School has put her in close contact with the area’s farmers and schools.  In her door-to-door campaign, she has been hearing a lot about issues of the economy and health care.

If elected, she would be an energetic and effective advocate in Montpelier for the farmers, teachers, and working people.  I hope she gets the opportunity and believe the voters would be well-served by Katherine Sims.


Editorial: on local politics and ground rules

copyright the Chronicle 10-24-2012
You will notice that this week’s Chronicle is packed full of local politics.  We have three lively local races and the interest seems high.  We had good turnout for our forums on October 15 and 22.  Thanks to the candidates, to our co-hosts, and to everyone who attended.  You can tune in to NEK TV to see the full forums.

Part of our function this time of year is setting certain ground rules — for the forums and for these pages.  This week’s paper is the last one where we will allow letters criticizing candidates.  Next week’s paper, the last one before the election, is reserved for brief letters of endorsement and space for the candidates to reply if they feel the need to clarify or respond to something that has been said about them.

Unfortunately there are a full two weeks between the time critical letters can be published and the election.  We are well aware that people don’t always come up with their perfect sentiments for a letter before this time.  In past years we have had to simply reject a lot of these letters as being too late.

Things are different this year due to our redesigned website.  We recently opened an editorials and opinions section where we are posting some of the same material you see in the newspaper, plus more.  It’s open for comments, and we are starting to get some interesting thoughts from our readers in this manner.  We hope you will, as they say, join the conversation.

In the next two weeks, we will allow comments and letters for the website up until the morning of Friday, November 2.  If a candidate feels the need to respond to something on the site after that, he or she can send us that response, and we can still post it before the election.

Last week we posted the story Chris Braithwaite wrote about the Senate candidate forum in our Editor’s Picks section on the free part of this website.  We will post the rest of our political stories, local and statewide, in Editor’s Picks for voters to check back on as the day of your decision comes closer.

We hope all this will be helpful for candidates, voters, and anyone else who likes to follow Vermont politics.  — B.M.D.

contact Bethany M. Dunbar at [email protected]

This week’s Chronicle had 24 letters to the editor.  To read them, see our complete online edition.


On wind: let’s go against the national trend of polarization


The citizens of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and Vermont as a whole are embroiled in a seriously divisive battle over the region’s ridgelines and the mountaintops, as big business attempts to line them with industrial wind turbines.  Neighbors and former friends are at odds and there is little middle ground between those who despise the very thought of gigantic structures lining the mountaintops and those who see the wind turbines as the solution to all our energy and global warming challenges.

I don’t know!  I have read widely on the issues and although there is ample argument put forth both for and against these projects, I cannot decide; is it good?  Is it bad?  Is it like most issues in which there are elements of both?  I do know that I would feel better if I thought these wind projects were being done for Vermonters rather than for the political expediency of the politicians and GMP.…

As I look out on every clear day from my home, on the opposite ridge, to observe the construction of the Lowell wind project I am amazed at the human endeavor that has been able over the past 15 months turn a mountain range into a commercial entity of this magnitude.  I have made 31 hikes to the mountaintops at every vantage point from the southernmost point to the northernmost point, a distance of three and a half miles, in order to see for myself the entire impact.

During that same period my wife and I have made nearly the same number of trips off trail behind Mount Pisgah, in Westmore, “Searching for Arcadia.”  The Arcadia Retreat was a large and elegant hotel built to cater to artists and writers and the like.  It was built on a 400-acre farm that had been cleared and included house, barn and outbuildings.  The hotel, built in 1895, burned down around 1923, was built way up high at 2,200 feet of elevation on Mt. Pisgah.  Although the Arcadia Retreat could be seen for miles with what was described in the advertising of the day, as expansive lawns, and although it was built on massive stone foundations, and although I already knew where it was, it took me 18 hikes to the site with maps, compass, and the assistance of Google Earth, before I could assure myself I had definitely found it.  I wonder if in the early 1890s the residents of the area supported the project or did they complain about taking a fine farm and ruining it with a luxury hotel for wealthy ner-do-wells?  Again, I don’t know, but I do know that there is almost nothing there today to show for that human activity.

I am not equating the changes made by horse, ox, and hand on Mt. Pisgah, to what modern equivalents have done with 30-40 gigantic earth machines and three quarters of a million pounds of explosives to the top of the Lowell Mountain ridgeline, but I am asking that people consider the loss of community and relationships to be on par with our loss of a natural resource as represented by a “pristine” ridgeline.  In my 30 trips up essentially all sides of the mountain range I have observed cellar holes, very old stumps from logging, log roads, old fences, stone cairns, old metal gas and oil cans, and three very old cream cans, one on the very top of the ridge just north of the northernmost turbine.  I observed, near the southern end between turbine 1 and 3 what appeared to be a four-to-six-acre rectangle of maple trees sitting right on top of the ridge and which appeared to have been cultivated there by some past steward of the land.  I have followed the Catamount Trail over the ridge from Lowell and south down along the eastern side of the ridge on its way to Craftsbury.  Not the least bit incidentally that trail basically parallels the famous Bayley-Hazen Road that was slashed through the truly pristine forest more than 230 years ago.…

I am proud of the stubborn Vermonters, both those who were born here and those who moved here for the love of it and became Vermonters.  I am proud to be in a place where people will fight for what they believe is their right to use and protect their land and where they are willing to perform civil disobedience to stand for their beliefs.

I am, however, certainly not proud to view the vicious attacks made by some of my fellow stubborn Vermonters on other stubborn Vermonters who have a differing opinion of what is “right.”  I am not proud of comments made about those who care enough to attempt to protect their land and interests or the denigrating comments about the protesters who stood for their own beliefs.…

My neighbors, friends, and I lament the loss of this Green Mountain Vermont resource, but what really defined Vermont was not only its physical makeup but rather it was its people.  The strong families, communities, and sense of shared purpose that took this land from extreme wilderness to a modern, proactive, self-sufficient state through the 1800s and a major influence far beyond its size for the rest of our country from revolution through today.  And that is precisely what we Vermonters are at stake of losing through this turmoil.  The relationships, the synergistic power of community, and the intense drive of public service; for the good of the community not for the good of myself!

In my lifetime the turbines will be there, in the next lifetime they will, if deemed worth it, remain, but in a few human lifetimes will there be visible sign?  Probably not in any way that really matters.  However the human relationships lost or cultivated will affect the “Vermonters” a lot longer and more severely than the physical ones.

Let’s go against the national trend of polarization in all endeavors and allow our neighbors to disagree with us without rancor.  We cannot mandate such action through any legislative means, order our neighbors to be tolerant, or to otherwise control others.  We CAN however change ourselves instantly.  Refuse to denigrate your friend, political foe, or competitor.  Tolerate differences and understand we go into it together and will come out of it together and if we withhold judgment and let some time pass we may well learn that we can go on together as well.

Let us search for our Vermont Arcadia, in both aesthetics and in philosophically.


Dick Spaulding


(Until 1815, the town of Lutterloh)



Editorial: Three cheers for Bill Stenger

Bill Stenger. left, and U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle  10-3-12

Watching Bill Stenger over the past few years has been a bit like watching our grandson develop Boardwalk and Park Place in Monopoly, a game he recently took up.

The difference, of course, is that Mr. Stenger, co-owner and chief executive officer of the Jay Peak resort, is using real money.

Well, sort of real money.  Here’s the difference:

People who dream up interesting ways to make money — and Mr. Stenger is clearly one of those — have to find the capital to bring their dreams to reality.

Investors are generally the source.  But investors assume some of the risk of the venture.  That inclines them to take a close, skeptical look at any proposal, at the likelihood that it will make them some money rather than lose them their shirts.

In the EB-5 visa program, Mr. Stenger found a route to investors whose motivations are entirely different.  They are foreigners who want a Green Card that will give them the right to live and work in this country and in time, if they choose, to apply for citizenship.

The federal visa program and this area’s poor economy put Mr. Stenger in a position to offer these privileges at half a million dollars per investor.  He has taken their money and put it into hotels, a golf course, an ice arena and, most surprising of all, a very substantial and, we are informed, exciting water park.

Now Mr. Stenger proposes to take a great deal more such money, more than half a billion dollars, indeed, and spread the wealth to Burke Mountain and the city of Newport.

As bystanders to this performance we can only watch with a mixture of awe and skepticism.  Awe because Mr. Stenger has so far proceeded with such inventive enthusiasm to do exactly the things he promised to do with the money.  And he has done them in fine style.

Our skepticism reflects the very lack of skepticism with which Mr. Stenger’s investors part with their money.  If the Green Card is the true return on their investment, how much do they care if Mr. Stenger’s remarkably optimistic plans meet all the usual tests with which major capital projects are vetted?

Take the demand for new retail space in Newport, for example.  Is business poor because the storefront buildings Mr. Stenger proposes to replace are in poor shape?  Or does their condition reflect the problem that business is poor?

Mr. Stenger has clearly taken the position made famous by the movie Field of Dreams:  If you build it, they will come.

Such concerns are moderated by the fact that Mr. Stenger is not playing with the money of local citizens, nor our local financial institutions.  Failure would be a sad and discouraging thing to watch, but not a vortex into which we would all swirl down into economic ruin.

And there is every reason to cheer Mr. Stenger on to continued success.  First among them is his effort to provide jobs that might keep our children and grandchildren in this community, and lure back those who have already left us.

Mr. Stenger’s deep involvement in local vocational education, and his service as chairman of the statewide Next Generation Commission, with the mission of developing a plan “to encourage Vermonters to live and work in Vermont,” put his dedication to this issue beyond doubt.

The catch in the EB-5 visa program is that each $500,000 investment will have to, directly or through its economic impact on the area, create ten permanent jobs.  In very rough terms, the investments just announced by Mr. Stenger would have to generate 10,000 jobs.  Using August’s figures, that would amount to a 37 percent increase in the jobs available in the Newport and St. Johnsbury labor market areas.

As to the concern that Mr. Stenger’s focus on tourism will turn us all into a servant class for rich visitors, we would appeal to history.

Research as casual as a study of old pictures of Newport and Barton make it clear that, in the heyday of passenger rail service and before the Great Depression, this area and its hotels catered to a great many visitors.

If natural beauty and our odd style of hospitality are among our chief assets, economic logic demands that we put them to work.

Besides, his latest plans include expansion of the local airport and some hi-tech research and manufacturing facilities.

In summary, Bill Stenger has taken, and will continue to take, great risks with other people’s money.  If the best we can do is to cheer him on, then that is exactly what we should do. — C.B.