Thousands remain without power

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copyright the Chronicle November 1, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

High winds roared through Vermont early Monday morning, felling trees, branches, and power lines, and plunging tens of thousands of homes into darkness.

At the height of the outage early Monday morning, about 40 percent of the Vermont Electric Cooperative’s 38,000 members were without power, the utility reported. Halfway through Tuesday, VEC crews had restored power to about 4,600 members with about 9,000 more to go.

It could be a few days yet before electricity is restored to all homes, VEC warned.

One of the problems is the extent of the storm. As of Tuesday morning, 880,000 people throughout New England were without power, VEC said in a press release.

“The extent and complexity of the damage caused by yesterday’s wind storm across VEC’s rural territory, coupled with the high demand for mutual aid crews throughout New England, means it’s taking longer than usual for restoration in many cases,” VEC explained.

A message at the Johnson-based cooperative on Monday listed all the towns in its service area that were experiencing outages, and it appeared the list included nearly every one of them.

The message also urged people to call 211 if they needed help with shelter and to keep checking the VEC website for updates on when service was likely to be restored.

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Arrest made in moose poaching case

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copyright the Chronicle November 1, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

A 20-year-old Irasburg man has been arrested in connection with a moose poaching case in Westmore in late September.

Gerin Fortin was arrested on Sunday and charged with six counts of big game violations, including taking game by illegal means and in closed season, and two counts of shooting from a motor vehicle, Colonel Jason Batchelder at the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department said on Tuesday.

Colonel Batchelder said that Mr. Fortin allegedly shot a cow moose from his pickup truck on Saturday, September 23, in Westmore. He said that, according to a witness, Mr. Fortin then struck the moose with his truck and shot it again in the head.

Mr. Fortin allegedly chained the moose to his truck and dragged it more than 11 miles to Orleans where it was left to rot by the side of the road. The moose was lactating, indicating that she likely had a calf with her, game wardens said.

Mr. Fortin’s Ford F150 pickup has been seized as evidence, along with his rifle, ammunition, and truck chains, says a press release from Fish and Wildlife. “These items stand to be forfeited upon conviction.”

The suspect is scheduled to appear in Orleans County Superior Court on December 26. He faces fines and restitution of up to $8,000 and up to one year in jail.

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Live green, die green, leave a green corpse

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copyright the Chronicle November 1, 2017

by Elizabeth Trail

 

CRAFTSBURY COMMON — To an ecologist, death isn’t the end, Carl Anderson says. It’s really more like the middle.

Each of our bodies, the biologist and green burial advocate says, is rich with the building blocks for new life. When we decompose in good soil, the nutrients become part of an elegant cycle that has been going on for billions of years.

It’s a process that modern American funeral practices — embalming, vaults, cremation, metal caskets, and the like — do everything possible to interrupt, or at least to put off as long as possible.

The green burial movement is out to restore humans to their rightful place in the nitrogen cycle.

And in the process, it hopes to bring death and death rituals back into homes and family life, just as they have been for most of human history. And still are in most of the world.

Mr. Anderson is a co-sponsor of Act 24, the 2015 Vermont green burial law.

On Saturday afternoon, Mr. Anderson and Act 24’s other sponsor, Michelle Acciavatti, came to Craftsbury to talk about green burial.

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LCAR approves wind noise rule

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copyright the Chronicle November 1, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

MONTPELIER — A regulation that sets limits on how much noise a wind turbine can produce was approved by the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules on Thursday, October 26, by a 5-2 vote.

The committee room in the State House wasn’t as packed as it was for earlier meetings about the rule, but about 20 people dressed in hazard vests indicating their opposition to industrial wind development on ridgelines, attended.

Committee members heard only from witnesses representing the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), which until recently was called the Public Service Board.

The Legislature passed Act 174 in 2016. The law told the PUC to set sound standards for wind turbines.

The rule the PUC wrote in response to the legislative mandate sets a noise limit of 42 decibels during the day and 39 decibels at night.

Representatives from the PUC explained the standard was based on a World Health Organization finding that more people’s sleep and health is disturbed by noises louder than 30 decibels.

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Caledonian accuses former Newport Daily publisher of racketeering

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copyright the Chronicle October 25, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

The Caledonian-Record has gone to federal court to accuse the former publisher of the Newport Daily Express and the company that owns the newspaper of racketeering.

In a suit filed on October 20 in U.S. District Court in Burlington, the Caledonian-Record says it was damaged when Ken Wells lied about his newspaper’s circulation to advertisers and downloaded nearly 700 photographs from Associated Press (AP) using the St. Johnsbury-based paper’s password and account without its knowledge or permission. Most or all of the photos were published in the Daily Express, the suit claims.

Although the Express had an AP account, it did not have a subscription for photographs, the suit alleges.

Mr. Wells served as publisher of the Daily Express from 2006 until November 2016. Between 1987 and 2002 he worked as the paper’s sales manager.

He was dismissed as publisher in early November of 2016. No one from the paper has ever explained the reasons for his departure.

Tuesday evening, Mr. Wells, who is vacationing on the West Coast, said the lawsuit came as a total surprise. “I didn’t see that coming,” he said.

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New Barton senior center in the works

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copyright the Chronicle October 25, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

BARTON — A new senior center is in the works in Barton. Called Barton Area Senior Services, Inc., (BASSI), the new group incorporated with the state as a nonprofit last week. Its organizers plan to resume a regular schedule of meals and senior activities as soon as the IRS grants it nonprofit status.

“If everything goes right, they could be up and running around the first of December,” said Lallie Mambourg at the Council on Aging in St. Johnsbury. That agency provides oversight of senior meal sites in the area and reimburses them for part of the cost of the meals they serve.

In the meantime, local volunteers hope to offer coffee, cards, and lunch on Thursdays at the Barton Memorial Building.

It’s not certain that lunch will be offered every week. But this week and last week, people have stepped up to donate food. And former Barton Senior Center cook Giselle Chevallay has offered to cook without pay for a few Thursdays.

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Reward offered for information on poached moose

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copyright the Chronicle October 25, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

A Craftsbury Common woman rapidly raised more $2,500 through GoFundMe in order put up a reward she hopes will lead to the conviction of whoever illegally shot a cow moose in Westmore last month.

Efforts to reach Cindi Bollettieri, who launched the campaign and put up $1,000 herself, were unsuccessful, but she posted the following on the gofundme page: “Vermont state game wardens are seeking tips to help solve a case of a moose that was poached in Westmore. A reward is available to anyone with information leading to an arrest by calling Operation Game Thief at 1-800-75 ALERT.

The cow moose was shot from the road out of season and at night on Saturday, September 23. After poachers shot the moose, they dragged the animal on the road behind their truck over 11 miles to the town of Orleans. The animal was left to rot in the 80-degree heat by the side of Hollow Road off Route 58 in Orleans. The cow moose was lactating, indicating she likely had a calf with her.

100% of funds raised will go directly to: 
Operation Game Thief — Orleans Moose 
in care of Vermont Fish & Wildlife, 
1 National Life Drive,
Montpelier, Vermont 05602”

Donations ranged from $5 to Ms. Bollettieri’s own $1,000.

“Oh, my God, this makes my heart hurt,” one post says. “Please find whoever did this.”

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Vanishing Vermonters tell their stories

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copyright the Chronicle October 25, 2017

 

Vanishing Vermonters, Loss of a Rural Culture, by Peter Miller. 168 pages. Paperback. Published by Silver Print Press. $24.95 paperback. $44.95 hard cover

 

Reviewed by Tena Starr

 

Peter Miller is the kind of photographer who transforms the ordinary into extraordinary. In his hands, an image of an empty road in the leafless late fall conveys both beauty and desolation. An abandoned Irasburg hunting camp dredges up a whole bag of emotions, including a bit of the kind of creeped out fear that has always beset children, and more adults than would like to admit it, in the company of abandoned, deteriorating buildings.

But Vanishing Vermonters is more than just a picture book. The book’s subtitle is Loss of a Rural Culture, and Mr. Miller tells stories here of people he considers iconic Vermonters, a breed of feisty, independent people that he believes is dying out.

Maybe he’s right; maybe he’s not. In any event, it’s a recurring theme with Mr. Miller, who has published five previous books. The last one was in 2013 and titled A Lifetime of Vermont People.

In the forward to Vanishing Vermonters, he writes that he’s old and had not planned on another book but he was prompted by e-mails he received after the publication of the last book, correspondence that supports his own perception that Vermont is moving away from the tough, hardscrabble place he loves.

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Balloonists land in Brighton woods

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copyright the Chronicle October 18, 2017

 

by Brad Usatch

 

BRIGHTON — When Barbara Fricke and Peter Cuneo launched from Albuquerque, New Mexico, on October 7 in their gas balloon Foxtrot Charlie, they knew they were going to land somewhere.

By the time their personal best journey of over 60 hours and 1,900 miles was done, the winds had deposited them in our own backyard, specifically in one of the less inhabited neighborhoods of Brighton, north of McConnell Pond and not far from the Lewis town line.

How they got there is a fascinating story for the vast majority of people unfamiliar with the rarified world of gas balloon competition. It’s what happened after the team landed safely that left the pilots and their chase team forever indebted to the people of Island Pond for their resourcefulness and their hospitality.

Having departed at 6:45 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time (8:45 p.m. locally) on a Saturday, by the time Tuesday morning rolled around the married co-pilots and four-time winners of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta America’s Challenge were just about out of ballast and out of options.

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Some skeptical of Conte expansion

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copyright the Chronicle October 18, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

A federal plan to expand the Sylvio O. Conte, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife refuge that includes thousands of acres in northeastern Vermont, has met with skepticism in some circles. One of the more influential of those skeptics is Governor Phil Scott.

The Conte, as it’s often called, was established in 1997 to conserve native plant, fish and wildlife species, as well as ecosystems, throughout the Connecticut River watershed. Currently, it includes a little over 36,000 acres within parts of the four watershed states of New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. About 25,000 of the Conte’s acres are in Vermont, primarily in Essex County.

The federal government wants to add about 60,000 Vermont acres to the refuge — not through eminent domain, but by buying the land from property owners, or by acquiring conservation easements.

Nonetheless, it has generated concern about how municipalities and the forestry industry will be affected. While no one wants to say they oppose conservation in theory, in practice it can have unintended consequences.

Last month, Governor Scott wrote Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke expressing concern about the proposed expansion.

“Unlike many western states, where large percentages of land are owned or controlled by the federal government, our land use history and heritage centers on private ownership,” the Governor wrote. “These lands provide our citizens with recreational opportunities, an exceptional quality of life, and jobs.”

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