Newport could support hotel, report says

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copyright the Chronicle November 22, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — Newport can support a 30- to 50-bed hotel, but only during the summer months. A year-round hostelry would have to be considerably smaller.

Those were the main conclusions of a report submitted to the city by the Pinnacle Advisory Group, a company with offices in Maryland and Florida.

The study was conducted at the suggestion of David White of White and Burke, a firm hired by the city to help form redevelopment plans in the wake of the Jay Peak EB-5 debacle.

One of the ideas proposed by Mr. White was construction of a hotel on the site of the former Spates Block on Main Street, or even the conversion of the Emory Hebard State Office Building, to take advantage of its lakeside site.

Mr. White said a study was needed before any planning could continue. The Newport City Renaissance Corporation commissioned Pinnacle to conduct a study to see whether the city could support a hotel, and if so, what type of hotel could succeed in Newport.

The Preservation Trust of Vermont and Northern Community Investment Corporation (NCIC) stepped up to pay for the study.

A link to the document appeared recently on the city’s Facebook page, but no mention appeared on the Newport City website. It has not been mentioned by the city council.

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Holocaust stories told, plans for memorial discussed

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copyright the Chronicle November 22, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

HARDWICK — Three Vermont daughters of holocaust survivors explained their plans here last week for creating a permanent traveling memorial to the victims of Nazi atrocities.

They also shared family stories and discussed plans for the memorial with a small group that met at the Jeudevine Memorial Library Tuesday evening, November 14.

Miriam Rosenbloom, a Hyde Park resident, opened the meeting and shared the credo of the group she formed with Debora Steinerman and K. Heidi Fishman.

“We believe in humankind,” she said. “We are all the same.”

Ms. Rosenbloom provided a quick overview of the events that, from 1933 to 1945, resulted in the deliberate murder of 11 million civilians. She was careful to note that, in addition to the six million Jews killed by the Nazis, five million other people were caught up in the holocaust.

All, she said, were members of groups the Nazis, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, did not think deserving of life. They included people with both mental and physical disabilities, the Romani people, political opponents, gay and lesbian people, freemasons, Slavs, Poles, and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Before World War II the Jewish population of Europe numbered around nine million. At its end only three million survived. Only one out of three survived, Ms. Rosenbloom noted.

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Life is short, eat more pie

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copyright the Chronicle November 22, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

WEST GLOVER — Peter Gould is a small man with crinkly eyes and a quiet smile that lit up the shadowy nighttime interior of the West Glover Community Church Friday night.

He was there to read from his new book, Horse-drawn Yoghurt, a memoir of his life on a communal farm near Brattleboro.

He’s honed the stories for years, carried them in his head and told them over and over before finally setting them down on paper.

They’re meant to be read aloud, he said. Their rhythms, their cadences, roll off the tongue even better than they read on the page. And like any good writing, they also have a philosophical takeaway that lasts.

Mr. Gould has spent most of his life in the southeast corner of the state, but he’s no stranger to the Northeast Kingdom. His summer theater program for teens, Get Thee to the Funnery, has been a staple of summers in Craftsbury for two decades.

He gets an appreciative audience in this corner of the Northeast Kingdom, which has its own history with the back-to-the-land movement.

In fact, many of West Glover’s most solid citizens once lived on one or another of the communes in the area. So, after sharing a community potluck to get in the mood, the audience was laughing or groaning even before Mr. Gould got to his punch lines.

People here know his stories. They’ve lived them.

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Community visit comes to Newport December 13

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copyright the Chronicle November 22, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — Jenna Koloski was scurrying around Newport Tuesday taping television interviews, meeting people, handing out fliers, and putting up postera, all in hopes of gathering a large crowd for the Council on Rural Development’s first forum on Wednesday, December 13.

Ms. Koloski is community and policy manager for the council, which is conducting what it calls a community visit. That is a process intended to bring citizens of a municipality together to determine what issues most concern them and find ways to address a few of them.

So far the council has held more than 50 such meetings in towns around the state. Ms. Koloski, who has been with the council for three years, said she has spent much of that time working in Northeast Kingdom towns, including Brighton, Craftsbury, Hardwick, St. Johnsbury, and Lyndonville.

Ms. Koloski said the council goes to towns only if invited and takes no position on what is best for a community. That’s a matter for the town’s residents to determine.

The council is focused on helping to start a civil conversation and bringing people with expertise to the table to offer suggestions and aid once a community decides the direction it wishes to take.

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Veterans tell students their stories

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copyright the Chronicle November 15, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — Newport City Elementary School fifth and sixth grades got a glimpse of life in the military when they welcomed a dozen veterans to their classrooms Thursday morning, November 9.

The men, who among them saw service from World War II through the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, shared stories of their experiences just in time for Veterans Day.

Representing all branches of the military except the Navy and Coast Guard — perhaps fitting given the distance between Newport and the sea — the veterans introduced themselves with a brief sketch of their history in the service before opening the floor to questions.

The questions ranged widely from the serious to the funny.

“Were you ever wounded?” a student asked one group of veterans. Fortunately the answer was no.

The students had other questions about the more difficult aspects of life in war. What happened when someone got wounded? one asked.

Butch Provencher, a National Guardsman with a specialty as a medic, said the objective was always to get the hurt person to a base camp hospital as quickly as possible.

On a lighter note, one sixth-grader wanted to know how the food was. The seven vets who were in the classroom looked at each other and laughed before replying.

“Green eggs and ham,” one replied.

The real answer, said Richard Deuso a Vietnam veteran, is C-rations, tinned food soldiers carried with them when away from their base.

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State explains plans for Lake Memphremagog

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copyright the Chronicle November 15, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — While the federal and state governments have been making a great deal of fuss over Lake Champlain in recent years, Lake Memphremagog has received far less attention.

At a Tuesday meeting at the East Side Restaurant on the lake’s shore, Watershed Coordinator Ben Copans shared Vermont’s plans to cut the amount of phosphorus in Memphremagog.

Mr. Copans, who works for the Department of Environmental Conservation, told a group of around 40 people that the lake is suffering some of the harmful effects of excess phosphorus, including occasional algae blooms caused by more nutrients in the water.

Ideally, the lake would have no more than 14 parts per billion of phosphorus. At present it averages 17 parts per billion, Mr. Copans said.

During the 1980s the lake’s phosphorus levels soared to as many as 30 parts per billion, according to a chart Mr. Copans showed his listeners.

“Things improved after the city improved its water treatment facility,” he said.

The chart showed levels dropping to 14 parts per billion for a few years after the renovated sewage plant was put into operation, but they have risen since then to their current level.

Most of the lake is in Canada, but the vast majority of its watershed is in Vermont, Mr. Copans said. While Vermont and Canadian officials are working together to limit the amount of phosphorus getting into the lake, the northern portion of the lake is in compliance with the 14 parts per billion limit.

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Big bucks reported so far in rifle season

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copyright the Chronicle November 15, 2017

 

With only a few days into the November rifle season for deer, preliminary reports from Orleans County suggest that bigger bucks are being shot.

Among the successful hunters, Sterling Richardson of Albany reported a 217-pound buck at Bob’s Quick Stop in Albany.

As of Tuesday night, 49 deer had been reported at the quick stop, and clerk Morgan Powers said she is impressed by the quality of the deer being reported.

“They’re all really good-sized deer,” she said, estimating the average weight between 150 and 160 pounds. Ms. Powers further noted that the store has been seeing a real good turnout since the 16-day season got underway Saturday.

Big deer, or better than average-sized bucks, are also being reported at Currier’s Quality Market in Glover.

Windy Currier said Tuesday morning that, of the 30 deer that have been reported at the store, two-thirds have weighed over 140 pounds.

According to a poster on the store’s wall, 164 hunters are participating in the store’s annual buck pool. The leader as of Tuesday was Paul Trucott of Lyndonville, whose buck tipped the scales at 192.5 pounds.

Early deer reports toward the northern end of the country haven’t been so promising.

At Mr. O’s Sporting Goods Store in Newport, only 15 buck had been reported as of late Tuesday morning. The largest buck was a six-pointer that weighed 163 pounds.

The count was more promising at Wright’s Sport Shop in Newport, where 45 deer had been reported as of Tuesday forenoon. The largest weighed 180.2 pounds.

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Barton junk ordinance to be enforced

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copyright the Chronicle November 15, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

BARTON — A long-dormant junk ordinance is about to be enforced village-wide for the first time since it was adopted in February of 2006.

At their regular meeting Monday night, the trustees voted to send letters out to 16 homes that have junk or junk cars in their yards.

Junk owners will have 30 days to clean up their mess before an escalating series of civil fines kicks in. The fine for any junk left on properties after that will be $100 for the first day, plus fees. The second day will cost an additional $250. After that, each day that the junk hasn’t been cleaned up would count as an additional violation, and could add another $500 and fees to the tab.

The trustees have been talking for quite a while about enforcing the junk ordinance passed by an earlier board. It’s part of their vision of making Barton a more attractive place to live, perhaps enticing new families to want to settle.

One couple who came to Monday night’s meeting said their neighbors’ trashy yard is making it hard to sell their own home.

At an October meeting, with letters drawn up and ready to send out to a list of addresses, the select board decided to send Andy Sicard, foreman of the Department of Public Works, to take a look at all of the properties on the list.

The idea was to see whether any of them might have been cleaned up, sold, abandoned, or otherwise changed status since the list was drawn up some time back.

The final list contains 16 addresses.

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Children head into the woods for a new-old learning experience

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copyright the Chronicle November 8, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

JAY — Julie Ste. Marie’s preschoolers at the Jay-Westfield Joint Elementary School will be out in the woods two days a week right through the winter months.

In a forest preschool, there are no toys, and few structured lessons. Children run, play, and explore in nature. Teachers may draw children’s attention to things around them, read stories, and count objects they find in the woods, but a lot of the day is spent in free play.

“All of the entertainment comes from their imaginations,” Ms. Ste. Marie said.

The one exception is the “mud kitchen’’— a cabinet in the woods with pots and pans and spoons that kids can use to dig in the dirt and make mud pies.

When children are allowed to climb, jump, and run to their hearts’ content in all weather, they are more grounded, Ms. Ste. Marie said, more connected with nature and with their bodies.

“We talk about kids that bounce off the walls,” she said. “In the forest, we don’t have walls.”

In a typical classroom, teachers spend all day telling kids not to be kids, she said.

“We have many fewer problems out in nature.”

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IRS scammer makes a bad call

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copyright the Chronicle November 8, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

A scammer pretending to be from the IRS recently made a remarkably bad call. She dialed the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department and, unbeknownst to her, ended up talking to Chief Deputy Phil Brooks, who she threatened with arrest if he didn’t immediately pay what she claimed he owed the federal government.

The Sheriff’s Department has several lines and received four phone calls from scammers that day, all of them recorded messages with a call back number, Chief Deputy Brooks said by phone last week.

So he called back.

The IRS scam is a particularly vicious one because the callers are sophisticated and can be very threatening. They typically say that a person owes a significant amount of money in back taxes, and a sheriff will arrest them soon if they don’t pay up. Like, right now.

“The ‘agent’ utilizes fear and intimidation tactics to get the victim to forward money discretely and privately, and even tells them that a warrant will be issued by the Sheriff and the person will be arrested if they don’t comply,” the Sheriff’s Department wrote in a press release about the incident.

Chief Deputy Brooks dragged the call out for 15 minutes or so and pretty much let the scam run its course.

In this case, the scammer, who called herself IRS agent Christina Fernandez, said he owed $7,986 to the IRS. He said that when he informed Ms. Fernandez that he didn’t have that amount of money, the sum drifted downward to $2,795.

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