Glover parents question Halloween ban

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copyright the Chronicle October 12, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail

GLOVER — The October lunch menu at the Glover Community School said that Halloween lunch would be spider bellies, spider legs, and bones.

A day later the school sent a corrected menu home with students. This time, lunch on October 31 was scheduled to be chicken tenders, french fries, and celery sticks.

Then parents learned that the school’s traditional pumpkin carving contest had been canceled.

And students won’t be allowed to wear costumes to school.

“We need to keep religious celebrations and holidays out of schools,” said Angelique Brown, the new Glover principal.

Before coming to Glover, Ms. Brown was assistant principal at a school in Groveton, New Hampshire.

That school eliminated in-school holiday celebrations at least five years ago, she said. And most other areas don’t allow them.

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Orleans-Caledonia House candidates debate education, guns, taxes

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copyright the Chronicle October 12, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

BARTON — A conversation Monday evening between three candidates for the state House of Representatives from the Orleans-Caledonia district produced a civil, serious discussion of issues facing the state.

Incumbents Vicki Strong, a Republican from Albany, and Sam Young, a Glover Democrat, were joined Monday night by Republican challenger Frank Huard of Craftsbury at a forum sponsored by the Chronicle, Building Bright Futures, NEK-TV, and the Orleans County Record.

Democrat Matt Eldridge of Glover did not attend the forum, which attracted more than 20 people to the Barton Memorial Building.

After the three candidates introduced themselves, Tod Pronto, who moderated the forum, posed questions to the group. Each was given two minutes to answer.

Mr. Pronto started by asking the candidates to name the three most pressing issues facing the district.

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State could end dispatch service

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copyright the Chronicle October 12, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

After a summer of discussions among emergency service providers and state officials, the Public Service Department plans to ask the Legislature to allow it to stop dispatching except for state agencies.

In an interview on October 6, State Police Captain Thomas Hango, commander of emergency communications, said the study committee is made up of police, fire, and ambulance service representatives as well as state agencies and emergency responder union delegates.

The group has been talking about possible changes to the dispatch service system, he said.

At present, Captain Hango said, some communities pay the state for dispatching services, some have their own dispatchers, and some get services from the state at no charge.

Communities in the Northeast Kingdom are among those that have received dispatching from the state without paying for them.

Many people think that’s not fair, and something needs to be done to correct the situation, he said.

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Montreal man starts hemp farm in Holland

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copyright the Chronicle October 5, 2016

by Paul Lefebvre

HOLLAND — A former construction worker from Montreal with dual American-Canadian citizenship is hardly the kind of farmer one would expect to find here cultivating a crop still deemed to be illegal by the federal government, in a field only a little more than a stone’s throw away from the border.

But Morgan Laurent is among a handful of farmers in Vermont who want to break new ground with the plant they are growing and turn industrial hemp into a legitimate crop.

Standing among row after row of bushy green plants that smell like, and dangerously resemble, the illicit weed marijuana, Mr. Laurent is growing industrial hemp in the spirit of a visionary. Rather than grow a crop used to make rope or paper, he is growing a plant that produces medicinal oils and are used to make people feel better, without getting them high.

“I’m not doing anything wrong,” he says, after pointing out one of his premier specimens with buds thick and sticky enough to earn the moniker “Juicy fruit.”

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Auditor calls for asset freeze in Coventry

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copyright the Chronicle October 5, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail

COVENTRY — The accounting firm involved in trying to untangle Coventry’s financial records is recommending that the town freeze the movements of all of its assets as soon as possible.

The select board agreed at its meeting Monday to send letters to Community National Bank and to three firms involved in the town’s investments stopping any transfers, sales, or withdrawals without the written consent of the select board.

“Jeff Graham sees an opportunity for assets to move without our knowledge,” selectman Scott Morley said. “And he sees the potential for that to happen.”

Mr. Graham is the president of the accounting firm Graham & Graham, the auditors hired to look into Coventry’s finances. He’s a certified public account (CPA) who is certified in financial forensics, the accounting specialty devoted to investigating fraud.

He’s been trying to untangle Coventry’s books and has said he suspects he will find missing money.

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Police mystified by disturbed infant grave

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copyright the Chronicle October 5, 2016

by Tena Starr

BARTON — Police are mystified by a peculiar incident at the St. Paul’s Catholic cemetery here.

In early September, the family of an infant who died more than three decades ago visited the grave and found that it had been disturbed.

“There was dirt where there should have been grass, grass where there should have been dirt,” said Chief Deputy Phil Brooks at the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department.

The family reported the matter to St. Paul’s pastor, the Reverend Tim Naples.

Later, Father Naples and the cemetery commissioner took a look at the grave and agreed that something was odd.

Chief Deputy Brooks said they were concerned that someone had been buried there illegally, so they started digging where the earth had been disturbed.

They were digging soft gravel, and it would not have been soft gravel if the ground had been undisturbed for 34 years, the chief deputy noted.

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An old railroad town is at a junction, again

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copyright the Chronicle October 5, 2016

by Brad Usatch

BRIGHTON — The reports from Island Pond were universally grim: The lights are out. The sidewalks have been rolled up. Jennifer’s, Common Sense and the Yellow Deli, Clyde River Outfitters, Ted’s Market, The Buck and Doe — all closed.

But as Brighton gathers to renew its town plan and refocus its efforts through another round of community forums, a core of business owners stands ready to reinvigorate Cross Street.

Seemingly anyone who knows anything about Island Pond offers the same assessment of its trajectory through history: Island Pond is a railroad town, and that was a good thing when the U.S. was a railroad country.

Brighton Town Administrator Joel Cope said that, at one point, 16 sets of tracks passed through the rail yard. Now there are two. He was one of many people to point out that Island Pond sits halfway between Montreal, Quebec, and Portland, Maine.

“Tough times are a way of life around here,” he said. “It’s not like we’ve been thriving and going down easy street.

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Coventry Select Board will hire accountant

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copyright the Chronicle September 28, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail

COVENTRY — The Coventry Select Board voted Monday to hire an accountant to oversee the books being kept by Town Clerk and Treasurer Cynthia Diaz.

Although the accounting firm Graham & Graham hasn’t finished its audit of the town’s finances, a September 19 summary of the findings to date included: no cash deposits for over two years, checks held for as long as five months before deposit, and property tax bills stamped “paid” that can’t be tied to check numbers or deposit slips.

Graham & Graham President Jeff Graham recommended that the Coventry Select Board hire an accountant to keep a second set of town financial records.

The accountant is likely to be someone working for an established firm who can be contracted for the next six to 12 months to come in a day or so a week and check up on deposits and transactions.

“I don’t see it as a decision we want to make for the next 20 years,” selectman Scott Morley said. “I do see it as a necessity for right now.”

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Tony Pomerleau pledges up to $120,000 to St. Paul’s School

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copyright the Chronicle September 28, 2016

by Tena Starr

BARTON — Chittenden County developer Tony Pomerleau has given St. Paul’s School here a very big birthday gift.

He will match every dollar the school raises up to $120,000.

This year the school turns 120. The class that started school this fall is the one hundred-twentieth entering the parish school; the one that will graduate in the spring will be the one hundred twentieth to graduate.

Mr. Pomerleau heard about the anniversary and wanted to do something special because he has connections to both Barton and Catholic schools, said St. Paul’s Principal Joanne Beloin. She said that Mr. Pomerleau is a regular donor to the school, but she certainly never expected a gift of this magnitude.

“He challenged us with such a generous match,” she said on Tuesday. “We did not expect that at all.”

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NEK End Addiction holds forum at Lake Region

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copyright the Chronicle September 28, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail

When Melissa Zebrowski’s brother and Jeannette Birch’s son died of drug overdoses in December and March, the two women’s reactions were to channel their grief into fighting the local heroin epidemic.

“We just felt a need to do something,” Ms. Birch said.

The two teamed up and told their family stories to Lake Region Union High School students in the spring.

They plan to continue their work in classrooms at Lake Region — and possibly at other high schools in the area — this fall.

One of the goals is to end the shame and silence surrounding addiction, they say.

Another is to get accurate information out to high school students — both information about the dangers of drugs, and resources for getting help in a crisis.

“I don’t want just to tell our story,” Ms. Zebrowski said. “We need to be telling a lot of stories.”

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