Morgan appeals PSB approval of Seymour Lake Solar project

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copyright the Chronicle September 14, 2016

by Paul Lefebvre

MORGAN — Selectmen here are accusing the Public Service Board (PSB) of failing to give the town a fair shake in granting a Certificate of Public Good (CPG) to the developer of a 500-Kilowatt solar project.

On Monday, attorney Cindy Hill, representing the town, filed a motion with the Public Service Board (PSB) requesting it reconsider its decision.

“Morgan is not a town that’s going to roll over,” said Candy Moot, a resident of Morgan and an opponent of the project. “We’re going to fight this.”

The motion contends that board Chair James Volz did not follow through on his promise to grant a technical hearing in the case.

“The town feels that due process was denied,” Ms. Moot charged.

In an e-mail to the Chronicle Monday, Ms. Moot wrote that “the PSB issued a CPG without responding to or considering the comments raising substantive issues by the Town of Morgan, the Agency of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation, Department of Public Service or Vermont Electric Co-op.”

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Trash is down, recycling is up, questions remain

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copyright the Chronicle September 14, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail

A little over a year after Vermont’s comprehensive recycling law went into effect, opinions are mixed on how mandatory recycling is working out in the Northeast Kingdom, even among people who work most closely with trash and recycling.

According to state figures, the amount of trash that is going into the landfill is down about 5 percent this year.

Before Act 148 went into effect on July 1 last year, the amount of trash was growing by about 2 to 3 percent a year.

But Paul Tomasi, director of the Northeast Kingdom Waste Management District (NEKWMD), isn’t convinced that the decline is a result of the new recycling law.

“When the economy is not so strong, people produce less trash,” he said. “I’m not clear in my mind that it has anything to do with the law. I think it’s a combination of macroeconomic conditions and Act 148.”

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Jay 14-year-old is women’s amateur national flowboarding champion

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copyright the Chronicle September 7, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail

JAY — Monica Caffrey is tiny, muscular, and tanned. She’s 14 years old, and an eighth-grader at North Country Union Junior High School. And she was recently crowned the amateur women’s national flowboarding champion.

Flowboarding — also called flowriding — hasn’t been around as an organized sport much longer than Monica’s been alive.

It’s somewhere between skateboarding and surfing. The board is like a small finless surfboard. The moves are straight out of skateboarding right down to the names.

But it’s done on the water — specifically on an artificial 35-mile-an-hour vertical wave, called a sheet wave, that can curl over at the top like a breaking wave on the beach.

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Lake Region to hold evacuation drill September 9

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copyright the Chronicle September 7, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail

On Friday, September 9, Lake Region Union High School will hold a mock evacuation drill. The point is to see how the school’s written plans will work out in real life.

In the middle of the morning on Friday, alarms will sound, and first responders will swarm into the school just as they would if there was a real school-wide emergency.

Police, fire departments, and rescue vehicles will rush to the campus, while students and staff are evacuated from the buildings, loaded onto buses, and driven to relocation sites in Irasburg, Orleans, and Barton.

Students will be returned to the school by bus after the drill is over.

“I just want to be sure that if family or friends drive by and see all the emergency vehicles, they know that it’s just a drill,” Principal Andre Messier said. “We could have a real panic.”

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Newport Mayor goes to work for Walmart

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copyright the Chronicle September 7, 2016

 by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — Mayor Paul Monette has been unemployed since June, except for some part-time bookkeeping work. He was the head of information technology at Newport City Elementary School, but the school board decided to cut its budget by eliminating the position and contracting with the North Country Supervisory Union for computer services.

On Tuesday the mayor said he sent out a lot of resumés but got no responses. Then a friend suggested he apply for a job at Walmart.

Mr. Monette said he went online and filled out an application and was called for an interview the next day. He was hired on the spot to head the wireless department at the new Derby Walmart.

Wireless is what the retailer calls cell phones, the mayor explained. His job will be to sell them.

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Stenger settles, no longer works at Jay

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copyright the Chronicle September 7, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

Bill Stenger, the former president of Jay Peak Resort, is no longer a defendant in the civil lawsuit filed by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against him and the owner of the resort, Ariel Quiros. Mr. Stenger is also no longer employed by Jay Peak.

After several months of negotiations, Mr. Stenger reached an agreement with SEC lawyers under which he will be liable to whatever penalties U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles might impose for securities fraud. Although Mr. Stenger neither admitted nor denied the charges filed against him, he will allow himself to be treated as if he were guilty of the charges for purposes of punishment.

As part of the settlement, Mr. Stenger is permanently barred from participating in any way in selling securities connected to the EB-5 visa program or having any control over a business that does.

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Massive manhunt in Barton

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copyright the Chronicle August 31, 2016

by Joseph Gresser and Tena Starr

The man who was the cause of a heavily armed police presence in Barton Village Monday pled innocent in the Criminal Division of Superior Court in Newport Tuesday to a felony count of unlawful trespass, plus a charge of reckless endangerment and another of aggravated disorderly conduct.

Max Pickel, 30, who police say was from Orleans but is currently homeless, was held for lack of $2,500 cash bail.

About 11:30 a.m. Monday State Police received a call from the Circle K, which is bordered by Main Street and Lincoln Avenue, saying that a man was “hollering threats to kill people and shooting a gun,” says an affidavit written by State Police Trooper Debra Munson.

Police arrived in force. They included officers from the State Police, the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department, and the Border Patrol. A helicopter was called in and circled above the village, focusing on the Lincoln Avenue and High Street area.

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Dairy crisis is worse than most

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copyright the Chronicle August 31, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

A pair of Orleans County farmers say conventional dairying is in a crisis that is invisible to those outside their industry.

Deborah Blay, who runs D&D Farm in Westfield with her husband, Durwood, and Peter Gebbie of Greensboro, who sold his herd late last year, both say the steep drop in milk prices that began last year has been devastating.

While prices have often fallen before, Mr. Gebbie said they usually recover much faster than they have this time around. Prices for fluid milk in the Northeast went above $27 a hundredweight in 2014, but have dropped by more than $10 since then. July’s price was $16.95.

“It’s very stressful right now, emotionally and financially,” Ms. Blay said Friday.

She said she recently looked at some of her records from 1991 and found milk check stubs showing that she was paid the same amount 25 years ago as she is receiving for milk today.

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Seymour Lake Solar gets green light from Public Service Board

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copyright the Chronicle August 31, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail

MORGAN — The Public Service Board (PSB) has awarded Seymour Lake Solar’s proposed 500-megawatt solar farm in Morgan a Certificate of Public Good (CPG.)

That will allow the company, owned by energy developer David Blittersdorf, to move forward with installing solar trackers in a hayfield Mr. Blittersdorf owns overlooking Lake Seymour.

“Needless to say, we’re quite disappointed,” said Larry Labor, chair of the Morgan Select Board. “A lot of people went to a great deal of effort opposing this.”

Mr. Blittersdorf applied for the CPG almost a year ago, in September of 2015.   The PSB approved it on August 26.

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Spark from torch started round barn fire

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copyright the Chronicle August 31, 2016

by Tena Starr

IRASBURG — A spark started the fire that destroyed the Robillard family’s historic round barn here, Denise Robillard said this week.

“They were fixing stalls that morning in the barn that was hooked to the round barn,” she said. “They used a torch to cut one bolt, and I guess there must have been a spark they didn’t see.”

What with the wind, and people having lunch, the fire quickly took hold in the very old lumber of the round barn. It was unsalvageable in no time, Ms. Robillard said.

“Within 20 minutes from the start, it was gone,” she said.

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