Troopers suspended after fire

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copyright the Chronicle December 6, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

Two state troopers have been put on paid administrative leave pending investigation of a fire that burned a Stannard house Monday that one of them owned, State Police in St. Johnsbury said Tuesday.

Police say they are investigating the fire. Trooper Stephen McGranaghan, 38, owned the A-frame house but did not live there. In fact, the house was vacant and in very rough shape, said Greensboro Fire Chief Dave Brochu on Tuesday. It had no doors or windows.

Chief Brochu said a neighbor reported the house fire at 12:30 a.m. Monday.

“It was reported as an explosion and a ball of fire on the Stannard Mountain Road,” he said.

He said he called the Hardwick, Walden, and Woodbury fire departments because he was not sure where on the Stannard Mountain Road the fire was. Walden and Woodbury were quickly sent home because there was a brook on the property that firefighters could pump water out of.

The empty house was fully involved when firefighters arrived, State Police said.

Chief Brochu said it could be seen from quite a distance.

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Plan pitched to get snow machines in Newport

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copyright the Chronicle December 6, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — Snow machine travelers will be able ride to the East Side Restaurant and Waterfront Plaza if the city council approves the plan that Roger Gosselin, VAST’s Orleans County director, presented at Monday’s council meeting.

Newport is missing out on business from tourists who cover long distances during the winter, Mr. Gosselin said. The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers maintains a trail to Prouty Beach and an east-west route across Lake Memphremagog, but at present, riders have no way to get further into the city, he said.

He suggested the city try allowing snowmobile traffic for a year and make adjustments if and when problems arise.

Mr. Gosselin proposed a route that would direct snow machines along Broadview Avenue. That part of the plan drew strong opposition from Gillian Staniforth, a resident of the avenue who said other homeowners she has spoken to share her dislike of the plan.

While Mr. Gosselin presented numerous examples of snow machine traffic in urban areas in Quebec and Island Pond, Ms. Staniforth said Broadview Avenue, despite its name, is a narrow street closely lined with homes.

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Milk commission formulates strategy for federal farm bill

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copyright the Chronicle December 6, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

BERLIN — The newly revived Vermont Milk Commission held its fourth meeting on Friday and considered, among other topics, ways to encourage people to consume more milk, and a possible adjustment to the way milk prices are calculated to take better account of how milk is actually used.

At its most recent session, the Legislature passed a law requiring the commission to meet by October to offer guidance to the Vermont congressional delegation as it participates in drawing up a new farm bill in 2018. Federal farm bills, which run for five years, set policy for all aspects of the nation’s agricultural economy, and the Legislature wanted to make sure Vermont’s voice is heard on issues affecting the dairy industry.

The milk commission had not met for six years before October, and the terms of all members expired during that time. Governor Phil Scott and legislative leaders appointed nine new members, and the commission set to work.

At their latest meeting, members heard from Paul Ziemnisky, senior vice-president of Global Innovation Partnerships.

Mr. Ziemnisky is a branding and marketing expert working for Dairy Management Inc., a trade association funded through the U.S. Dairy Promotion Program, which gets its money from mandated checkoff fees on dairy products and federal tax dollars.

He said he is working to increase milk consumption. Mr. Ziemnisky said overall milk use has been increasing, but less fluid milk is being consumed.

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Old Stone House welcomes a new generation

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copyright the Chronicle December 6, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

BROWNINGTON — Molly Veysey started her new job as director of the Old Stone House Museum on December 1. So did Finance Manager Walter Parenteau. Both are 36 years old.

Add in administrative assistant Dana Drake, also born in 1981, and three out of the five Old Stone House staff members are in their mid-30s.

That’s a change at the museum, where staff members have traditionally been older. People have worried for years about whether there would be a younger generation to take over as they retire.

It’s too early to talk about other changes, Ms. Veysey said in an interview Tuesday morning.

“We’re going to take a year learning the regular functions before we start anything major,” she said.

She’s full of praise for former director Peggy Day Gibson.

“If it weren’t for her ten years of hard work, this position wouldn’t be what it is,” Ms. Veysey said, noting the enormous progress of the past decade in acquiring buildings, keeping them up, and building the museum’s programs.

Financially, the organization seems to be in good health, she said.

She plans to continue Ms. Gibson’s forward momentum by putting her grant-writing skills to work.

One immediate project is going to be continuing Ms. Gibson’s efforts to retrofit the Grange building for handicap access.

In fact, on Tuesday morning Ms. Veysey was on her way out the door to a workshop on accessibility.

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Rifle season reaps big bucks

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copyright the Chronicle November 29, 2017

 

With time running out on the 2017 rifle season for deer, the harvest this year is expected to mirror last year’s results.

During the 16-day rifle season of November 2016, hunters reported 7,753 deer. Preliminary reports suggest that hunters will do as well this year.

Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter said his department didn’t offer any projections as to the results of the rifle season this year. He said Tuesday that he expects the harvest to be in line with the number of bucks taken in 2016.

The 2017 rifle season ended Sunday, but hunters have an additional 48 hours to check in their deer at reporting stations around the state. But whatever the final harvest turns out to be, those who host the reporting stations in Orleans County believe the buck are running larger than a year ago.

At Currier’s Quality Market in Glover, the number of reported deer is down. As of Tuesday, 70 had been reported compared to 81 at this time a year ago.

But owner Jeff Currier said he has been impressed with the size of the deer that have been brought in to be weighed.

The market runs a buck pool, and the hunter leading the pool as the season comes to a close is Mick Davidson of Barton with a deer that weighed 221 pounds.

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NCSU Act 46 plan is into the home stretch

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copyright the Chronicle November 29, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — The North Country Supervisory Union is headed into the home stretch in its effort to persuade the state Agency of Education to allow it to continue to operate as it has, rather than requiring it to consolidate under the terms of Act 46. North Country Superintendent John Castle appeared at a meeting of the Newport City Elementary School board Monday to explain what the supervisory union hopes to achieve.

It was one of his last steps before the four big binders containing information in support of North Country’s request for an alternative governance structure make the drive to the headquarters of the education agency in Montpelier.

The deadline for delivery of the volumes is December 22.

Mr. Castle told members of the elementary school board and the four parents who showed up for the meeting not to expect a decision on the supervisory union’s request until next November.

He gave much of the credit for gathering and collating the material to Liz Butterfield, his executive assistant.

Mr. Castle handed out copies of the report’s table of contents, explaining the materials were arranged to conform with a state regulation put forward to flesh out Act 46.

Act 46 was enacted in 2015 to deal with rising educational costs and declining school enrollments.

The law seeks to do away with town school districts and replace them with larger regional districts governed by a single board.

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IRS lien on Derby Line Ambulance

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copyright the Chronicle November 29, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

DERBY — The select board here won’t be sending any more money to Derby Line Ambulance until it gets answers about a $151,110 tax lien the IRS slapped on the ambulance service at the end of September.

The board was hoping to talk to representatives of the ambulance service at its November 20 meeting. When no one from the squad showed up, the board voted unanimously to cut off funding.

“They didn’t tell us they weren’t coming,” Selectman Brian Smith said by phone Monday.

The ambulance crew had originally planned to attend an earlier select board meeting but rescheduled, saying they couldn’t make that date.

“The select board voted to lay it out to the ambulance board that they won’t be cutting any more checks,” Town Administrator Bob Kelley said Monday.

He said the town has been issuing a monthly check for about $9,000 to support the ambulance service. That’s the $104,000 apportionment voted at last year’s Town Meeting divided into monthly payments.

Mr. Kelly said he had hoped the possibility of losing the funding would bring ambulance officials to the table.

“It’s the carrot we have,” he said, going on to explain that Derby Line Ambulance is an independent nonprofit, not a part of town government.

That means the town has very limited ability to look into Derby Line Ambulance’s finances. And this isn’t the first time the ambulance service has had problems.

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Barton Senior Center gave Barton Arts $20,000

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copyright the Chronicle November 29, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

The defunct Barton Senior Center has given Great Barton Arts $20,000.

The money is in an escrow account and will be used for programs for seniors, said Ed and Adrien Helm, Greater Barton Arts board members.

The senior center abruptly closed at the end of September. At the time it had assets of about $25,000. Some of its equipment is still on the first floor of the Barton Memorial Building. Much of the food was given to the senior meal center in West Burke.

Initially, Barton Senior Center Director Brenda Lowther had a bank check for $20,000 written to a state agency called Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living. That organization gave the senior center a $25,000 startup grant about 12 years ago.

Paperwork for the grant has long since been closed out, and there was no mechanism for accepting the money. Ms. Lowther said at the time that she viewed the check as repayment for the original grant.

IRS rules say that when a nonprofit is dissolved, its assets must go to another nonprofit that serves a similar purpose or “according to its charter.” The Barton Senior Center’s charter said that its assets were to be transferred to a similar 501(c)3.

A bank check in the amount of $20,000 dated October 26 was paid to the order of Greater Barton Arts/Senior Arts Escrow.

Ms. Helm said by phone Tuesday that Greater Barton Arts is also a 501(c)3 “and some of our programs already involve seniors.” Those programs will be expanded, she said.

She said the Greater Barton Arts Board voted to put the money in an escrow account.

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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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