Glover parents want holidays returned to school

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copyright the Chronicle October 26, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail

GLOVER — It was standing room only at Glover Community School Monday night as community members crowded into a classroom to talk to the school board about the news that there won’t be a Halloween celebration at the school this year.

About 25 people showed up at the school board meeting, along with Orleans Central Supervisory Union (OCSU) Superintendent Donald Van Nostrand, Principal Angelique Brown, and some faculty members.

In addition, Christina Borland has started an online petition asking that “holiday celebrations that have become community traditions within our school be reinstated.

“We understand that the school is a place for education, but that education must also include community education goals as well as academic goals,” the petition says, in part.

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Orleans-2 candidates agree on much

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copyright the Chronicle October 26, 2016 

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — It would have been difficult to tell what party the four candidates seeking to represent Orleans-2 belong to just by listening to them at Monday night’s candidate forum. The only clue was how Ron Holland, Judith Jackson, Mike Marcotte, and Gary Viens said they would register their disapproval of Donald Trump in presidential balloting.

The four candidates are vying for the two seats in the Vermont House district that represents Newport City, Newport Center, Coventry, Irasburg, and part of Troy,

Dr. Holland and Ms. Jackson, the Democratic candidates, said they would unenthusiastically vote for Hillary Clinton. Ms. Jackson said she would hold her nose while doing it. Dr. Holland said he picked Ms. Clinton as the one least likely to start a disastrous war.

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Burros was a pioneer in “political” food writing

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copyright the Chronicle October 26, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

Marian Burros began her career as a food writer because she and a friend needed to give affordable engagement gifts. She ended up changing the field because she recognized a simple truth — food is political.

Between 1981 and her retirement in 2014, Ms. Burros reported for the New York Times, covering all aspects of food including recipes, entertaining at the White House, and federal policy on food safety. She has spent summers in Barton and Craftsbury since 1991, the year her husband died.

In the course of her career, she helped redefine what it meant to be a food writer and was a pioneer in making editors see that issues that once were relegated to the “women’s page” were important enough to command front-page space.

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Moose kill down from 2015

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copyright the Chronicle October 26, 2016

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by Paul Lefebvre

The success rate among moose hunters for the 2016 archery and rifle season, which ended Thursday, October 20, is lagging slightly behind the 2015 rate.

According to a press release from the Department of Fish and Wildlife, preliminary reports suggest an overall success rate of 45 percent, down from the 47 percent of last year.

It’s pretty close to what we expected,” said the department’s moose biologist, Cedric Alexander. He said the rate was especially low in some of the wildlife management units in the southern part of the state.

Although reports on the 2016 season will not be final until January 2017, Mr. Alexander noted that hunters could only shoot bulls in most of the units.

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Albany teacher named Vermont Science Teacher of the Year

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copyright the Chronicle October 19, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail

ALBANY — When Megan Jolly was in college, and for a couple of years after that, one of her jobs as a fledgling biologist was to crawl into bear caves in winter and haul out cubs so they could be counted and weighed.

“I have to say, teaching teenagers is harder,” she said on Monday at the Albany Community School where her stories about working with bears and seabirds bring science alive to her middle school science students.

Next week, Ms. Jolly will be named Vermont Science Teacher of the Year by the Vermont Academy of Science and Engineering (VASE). The awards — one for a teacher at the high school level, and one for an elementary or middle school teacher — will be presented at a banquet at the University of Vermont on October 24.

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Coventry board calls in State Police

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copyright the Chronicle October 19, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail 

COVENTRY — The State Police have been asked to take a look at the unfolding accounting crisis in Coventry.

Last week, an attorney specializing in municipal law, Paul Gillies of the Montpelier firm of Tarrant, Gillies, & Richardson, came to the office to have a preliminary conversation about the town’s recordkeeping issues.

“He took a look at what we’re dealing with and he said: Scott, you need to call the State Police immediately,” Selectman Scott Morley said at Monday’s select board meeting.

Mr. Morley had what he described as a ten-minute conversation with State Police Trooper Jeff Ferrier.

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House candidates debate in Westfield

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copyright the Chronicle October 19, 2016

by Tena Starr

A good 60 people came to the community center here Monday evening to listen to Republic incumbent Mark Higley and Democratic challenger Katherine Sims debate the issues. Mr. Higley has been the Orleans-Lamoille district’s representative since 2009. Ms. Sims challenged him in 2012 as well and lost 920-887. Following a recount, the vote was 924-892. The race is hotly contested, and both candidates are working hard for the district’s one seat.

The differences between the two were not as stark as one might expect in view of the fact that one is a progressive Democrat, the other a conservative Republican.

Neither likes Act 46 or the current siting process for renewable energy projects. The two didn’t even clash on gun control. They did differ on legalizing marijuana and their views of the most pressing issues in the district, which includes Lowell, Westfield, Jay, Eden and part of Troy.

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Lawyers for Stenger tell state to bring it on

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copyright the Chronicle October 19, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — Lawyers for Bill Stenger have told the state to bring it on. In a September 7 filing in the Civil Division of Washington County Superior Court, they denied all the fraud charges related to EB-5 visa funded projects sponsored by Jay Peak and have demanded a jury trial.

Mr. Stenger recently settled similar charges levied against him by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In the settlement, Mr. Stenger did not admit or deny the charges against him, but he agreed to accept whatever penalties U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles may decide to assess.

Mr. Stenger also promised that he would not say anything that contradicted the SEC charges.

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Editorial

Editorial

VOTER BEWARE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

This has not been a pleasant election year.  At the national level, the discourse, if you can call it that, veers between astounding and revolting.

However, we’re happy to say that, locally the conversation has been largely respectful — even in the hard fought race between Mark Higley and Katherine Sims.

At a public debate in Westfield, one observer walking out at the end of the night said, “You were right, it was civil.”

And candidates in Vermont are generally wise to take the high road.  There have been campaigns, even here of course, that were highly negative.  Most didn’t fare too well, and we sincerely hope that holds true this year.

We are concerned, however, about two things:  The presence of super pac money and the increasing use of social media for campaigning.

Skillful use of social media has been credited with boosting several national campaigns, and as a fund-raising tool, we certainly can see its value.  But as a campaign tool, it’s problematic for both voters and candidates.

Prior to social media, candidates were pretty much dependent on personal appearances and traditional media, in the form of ads and letters to the editor, as well as interviews, or debates, as a means to get their message out.

One of the virtues of that system, for the voter at least, was that both ads and letters are generally vetted for truth.

This newspaper, as do most, tries to find out if letter writers are legitimate and if the content stated as fact is true.  Opinion, interpretation of a candidate’s record, actions, or speech is, of course, up to the voter.  But traditional media does try to present voters with true information so they can make an informed decision.

On social media a person can say just about anything about anyone.  There’s no fact filter.

Be careful this year.  Don’t rely on Facebook when choosing a candidate.  Check out the truth of a candidate’s position before you vote.  Send an e-mail if you have a question, or make a phone call.

We have no doubt that a candidate would be happy to clarify a position rather than have his or her constituents, or potential constituents, voting with false information.

Now, for what it’s worth, we offer our limited endorsements.

The Chronicle’s policy when it comes to endorsements and editorials is that the editorial staff must be in agreement.  Contrary to what might be perception, this crew is hardly in ideological lockstep — on anything, not just political candidates.  Often, if there are six opinions to be had, between us we might hold them all.

However, we are unanimous on the following:

We support Bobby Starr and John Rodgers for state Senate in the Essex-Orleans district.  Marcia Horne has exhibited a woeful lack of information about the issues and is patently unqualified to represent anyone in the Senate or anywhere else.  Eric Collins, from Richford, we know little about.  He was invited to a public debate, accepted, but canceled without explanation four days before the event.  We invited him to submit an announcement of his candidacy for free.  He did, but then withdrew it.

Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Starr have worked hard and effectively for the Northeast Kingdom.  They both understand and love the area, both come from agricultural backgrounds, both have operated small businesses, and both have achieved positions where they do give the Northeast Kingdom a voice in the Legislature, which very much matters.

In the Orleans Caledonia House race, we support Sam Young and Vicki Strong.  They have worked hard, are congenial to, and respectful of, each other, and they have brought a Northeast Kingdom perspective to the Legislature.  Mr. Young brings not only an agricultural background, but also needed expertise in technology.  One of the things he has worked hard on is getting Internet and cell services to the Kingdom.

The people in the Orleans-2 House race are fortunate.  They’ve got four good candidates to choose from:  Republican incumbents Mike Marcotte and Gary Viens, and Democratic challengers Ron Holland and Judith Jackson.  They don’t differ much in their positions, just in how they might go about effecting them, or in their priorities.

Both Mr. Higley and Ms. Sims are also capable candidates.

Another thing this eclectic staff agrees on is that, in Orleans County, at least, party labels can be misleading, or at least not particularly meaningful.  For instance, Marcia Horne’s attempts to paint Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Starr, both Democrats, as tax and spend liberals who toe the party line was patently ridiculous.  If anything, the Shumlin Administration would have preferred to see them both take extended winter vacations in South America to shut them up about all the things they didn’t agree with on more liberal Democrats’ agenda, such as commercial wind, Act 46, stricter gun laws….

For the most part, the legislators currently representing us are a moderate bunch — meaning if they call themselves Republican they’re moderate Republicans, and if they call themselves Democrats, they’re moderate Democrats.  The result being that there often isn’t an awful lot of difference between them.  Many could change the R or D beside their name tomorrow, and no one would notice.

Most of the candidates this year have the Northeast Kingdom’s interests at heart, not those of a political party.

Above all, vote.  It looks like there will be some very close races next week, and your vote matters.  — T.S.

 

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Missing documents found in furnace room of Coventry town clerk’s office

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copyright the Chronicle October 12, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail

COVENTRY — When selectman Scott Morley and auditor Jeff Graham walked through the doors of the Coventry town office early Monday morning, they saw Town Clerk and Treasurer Cynthia Diaz headed into the furnace room carrying a tub and a box of papers. She came back empty handed, Mr. Morley said.

The sight stuck in Mr. Morley’s mind all day. After Ms. Diaz left, he and Mr. Graham went to the furnace room and found what she had left there — a pile of Coventry tax and financial documents, including some that Mr. Graham, a forensic accountant, has been requesting for the past year.

Mr. Graham snapped a picture of the items sitting on the floor just inside the furnace room door.

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