Major changes for cancer treatment in Newport area

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copyright the Chronicle February 8, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — A decision by Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center administrators could mean major changes for cancer treatment in the Newport area. While the decision that came out of Hanover, New Hampshire, precipitated the changes, some may have been in the offing in any event, according to Claudio Fort, the CEO of North Country Hospital

He said in an interview on February 4 that he was surprised to get the call from Dartmouth Hitchcock informing him that two doctors who had been traveling north to treat cancer patients at his hospital would no longer do so as of April 13. But Mr. Fort said that increasing costs for the drugs used in chemotherapy and a stricter set of rules from the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were already causing the hospital to rethink how it treats cancer patients.

The two physicians, Dr. Sergey Devitskiy and Dr. Ronal Kubica, will continue to practice at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center’s outpost in St. Johnsbury, Mr. Fort said. But they will no longer see patients in Newport.

Dr. Les Lockridge, who set up a private practice in Newport in 2012 after the hospital let him go when it closed its department of oncology and hematology, said Tuesday that he is willing to see what he can do to make up for the loss of the two Dartmouth-affiliated doctors.

Ironically, it was the willingness of Dr. Devitskiy and Dr. Kubica to travel to Newport that enabled the hospital to close its own oncology department.

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Pool of maple syrup spreads across the country

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copyright the Chronicle February 8, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

NEWPORT — “It wasn’t that big, honestly,” Newport City Fire Chief Jamie LeClair said over the phone before any question was asked.

Ever since late Monday afternoon when a single 42-gallon barrel of maple syrup fell out of a pickup truck on the I91 exit 27 ramp outside of Newport, Mr. LeClair’s phone has been ringing off the hook with calls from the media asking about the big spill.

He’s heard from CNBC, CNN, NBC, Fox News, USA Today, just for starters.

Boston Magazine wanted to know how the spill might affect global syrup prices.

Bostonians learn about the Great Molasses Flood of 1919, when a storage tank in the city’s north end burst, and a 35 mile-an-hour wave of molasses swept through the streets, killing 21 people.

Chief LeClair even got a text in the middle of the night from his son, who is deployed overseas, wanting to know if he was still on the scene.

“I can’t believe maple syrup is that big news,” he said. “If the puddle was six feet across, that would be an exaggeration.”

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Governor’s freeze gets a cold shoulder

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copyright the Chronicle February 1, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

Governor Phil Scott’s plan for education, delivered last week as part of his budget address, hasn’t met with enthusiasm in Orleans County.

The plan calls for a freeze on school budgets, and in order to give districts time to rewrite their budgets, every district would vote on them on May 23. Also, teachers would pay 20 percent of their health insurance premiums. Most pay 15 percent now.

Local school districts are basically ignoring the proposal, which lacks legislation behind it at this point.

Orleans Central Supervisory Union (OCSU) Superintendent Donald Van Nostrand said Lake Region Union High School will go ahead and hold its annual meeting and budget vote on February 15 as planned. The elementary schools are also moving forward as they would any other year. Glover, Albany, Brownington, and Irasburg hold their school meetings and budget votes on Town Meeting Day, or in the case if Irasburg, in the evening. Orleans and Barton vote later in March, and Westmore votes in May.

There have been no school board meetings since the Governor’s budget address, Mr. Van Nostrand said. “And we have not called any special meetings to talk about it at this point.”

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Diaz pleads the Fifth, then testifies

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copyright the Chronicle February 1, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

NEWPORT — Immediately after she took the witness stand in Orleans County Superior Court on Monday, Cynthia Diaz invoked the Fifth Amendment.

“Hadn’t you better hear the questions first?” Judge Howard VanBenthuysen asked Ms. Diaz, who appeared in court without an attorney. “Some of them might be to your benefit to answer.”

The Coventry town clerk, treasurer, and delinquent tax collector was back in court to answer a motion for contempt. It was filed on behalf of the town by attorney Paul Gillies after she allegedly failed to meet a December 30 deadline to turn over all original town documents in her possession.

Ms. Diaz brought a thumb drive and a foot-thick stack of papers to court on Monday but that didn’t even come close to being what the town of Coventry believes is missing.

After a lengthy recess to allow Mr. Gillies, forensic accountant Jeff Graham, and 
Coventry Selectman Scott Morley time to look over the documents, Mr. Gillies pronounced them “insufficient.”

“The missing records we asked for would fill a six-foot by six-foot square about six feet tall,” Mr. Graham told Judge VanBenthuysen, “not the small pile she brought to court today.”

“Are these all the town documents you have?” the judge asked Ms. Diaz.

“All the original town documents, yes,” Ms. Diaz replied, stressing the word “original.”

Judge VanBenthuysen ordered Ms. Diaz to hand over all town records in her possession, whether she considered them original or not.

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Former addicts discuss routes to recovery

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copyright the Chronicle February 1, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — A panel of a dozen people, all with experience in the field of opioid addiction and treatment, engaged in a freewheeling discussion Monday night. The two-hour conversation, moderated by Judge Howard VanBenthuysen, was the second part of a program called Conversations of Hope, sponsored by the HealthWorks Coalition, a project of Northeast Kingdom Learning Services.

In the course of the lively evening, Orleans County State’s Attorney Jennifer Barrett announced her intention to start a new drug diversion program that will allow some defendants to avoid a criminal record if they get treatment for addiction problems.

Three panel members: Gilles Gentley, associate pastor at New Beginnings Christian Church; licensed vocational nurse and graphic artist Savannah Bradshaw; and Community College of Vermont student Mitt Lyman, testified to the possibility of freeing oneself of drug dependency.

Another six panelists spoke of ways that goal can be accomplished.

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Willoughby claims ice fisherman

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copyright the Chronicle February 1, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

WESTMORE – In the wake of Richard Leblanc’s death last week, officials are warning ice fishermen to be leery of thin ice.

Mr. LeBlanc, 62, of Orleans went through the ice on Lake Willoughby on the morning of Thursday, January 26.

Sue LeBlanc, his wife, said that he usually fished the ponds, like Parker in West Glover, which tend to be frozen harder than deep and unpredictable Willoughby. But he’d caught a huge trout in Willoughby earlier and was tempted by the prospect of more.

“We devoured that down, and then he caught another one and said I’d like to save that for mom and dad. And I’ll get one more to share,” Ms. LeBlanc said.

But it never came to pass. He fell through weak ice that day, and efforts to save him were too late.

His wife said she’s heard varying information, but either carpenters or loggers saw him walk across the lake and fall through and called 911.

“He can’t swim,” she said, “but in cold water there’s nothing you can do anyway.”

A game warden who lives in Barton tried to rescue him, Ms. LeBlanc said, and he fell in, too, “but he grabbed him. The fire department was there; they worked on him as much as they could. But it was too cold.”

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NCUHS search for principal narrowed to two

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copyright the Chronicle January 25, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT—The committee set up to find a new principal for North Country Union High School narrowed the field to two applicants at its meeting Monday night. At a meeting earlier this month the 16-member group picked four potential leaders for the school from an original group of 16, according to North Country Supervisory Union Superintendent John Castle.

The committee interviewed all four before deciding to place the names of Chris Miller and Jessica Puckett before the high school board for its consideration.

Ms. Puckett already works at North Country, serving both as director of special programs and as one-third of the tri-principal group that has been leading the high school this year. The other two in the group are assistant principals Anita Mayhew and Bob Davis.

Mr. Castle said that neither Ms. Mayhew nor Mr. Davis applied for the job.

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State plans new parking area for Willoughby’s south end

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copyright the Chronicle January 25, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

WESTMORE — About 20 people attended the select board meeting here Monday, where construction of a parking area at the south end of Lake Willoughby, and a request from snowmobilers to use a stretch of Long Pond Road to get to the Willoughby Lake Store were the major items on the agenda.

Louis Bushey from the St. Johnsbury office of the Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation (FPR) unveiled the department’s plan for dealing with traffic and crowds at the south end of Lake Willoughby.

Anyone who has headed south along the lake on Route 5A knows the road can be nearly impassable near the beach area, with vehicles parked along the shoulder and sticking out into the road.

In summer, it’s swimmers. In winter, it’s ice climbers.

Trails down to the lake are steep and eroding. And with no bathroom facilities except a cluster of Porta Potties, a lot of people slip into the woods when nature calls, creating a health hazard.

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Open season on coyotes questioned

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copyright the Chronicle January 25, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

Recently, a statewide group called Vermonters for Ethical Co-existence with Coyotes started a petition addressed to the Department of Fish and Wildlife and its citizen board, asking for limits on the year-round hunting season on coyotes. Their goal is 2,500 signatures — as of press time they’d collected 1,813.

And last week, Representative David Deen of Westminster presented a bill — H.60, an act relating to the hunting of coyotes — that would require the Fish and Wildlife Board to prepare a report to the Legislature on coyote hunting by early next year.

The report would cover what’s known about the coyote population in Vermont, how other states deal with coyote hunting, and whether the Legislature should step in and regulate coyote hunting.

One of the questions the board is being asked to weigh in on is whether coyotes should be hunted year-round.

That’s a subject that’s been coming up a lot lately, said Chris Bernier, the fur-bearing animal specialist at the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Now he’s hearing questions about having a regulated hunting season rather than allowing anyone to hunt coyotes by any method 365 days a year.

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State spells out plan for use of Great Hosmer

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copyright the Chronicle January 25, 2017

 

 by Joseph Gresser

 

CRAFTSBURY COMMON — At a community meeting here Saturday, the state proposed a framework for deciding what kinds of activities will be allowed on Great Hosmer Pond. More than 110 people gathered in the Craftsbury Academy gym to hear the idea put forward by a study committee, but it was unclear how many were optimistic about the outline.

For some time there has been friction between people who want to enjoy water skiing or other activities involving speedy power boats and those who like kayaking, canoeing, or sculling. Many of the scullers are connected with the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, which runs a sculling program that uses the pond for its classroom and practice area.

According to Rebecca Ellis, senior counsel for government affairs for the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), a six-member task force met three times and came up with what was called a straw proposal.  It provides a framework for changes to state regulations governing the pond, Ms. Ellis said.

The two parts of the proposal said:

  1. Racing shells and rowing sculls are allowed at all times except not between… and ….
  2. Waterskiing and any towing of persons by a motorized vessel is allowed between… and …, or when other boats are not on the water.

The blanks will be filled in with set times and a new regulation put in place by late summer, according to Ms. Ellis.

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