Revision awarded multi-million dollar helmet contract

Featured

copyright the Chronicle July 12, 201

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — Some of Vermont’s top political leaders joined Revision Military’s employees July 6 to celebrate a contract that could be worth as much as $98-million to the company. Revision CEO Jonathan Blanshay said the federal contract, under which his company will supply new, lighter helmets to the military, is the most important in Revision’s history.

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, U.S. Representative Peter Welch, and Governor Phil Scott joined the company’s 150 Newport employees to mark the achievement and to see how the new protective gear is made.

The contract, which Senator Leahy announced in March, calls for Revision to supply as many as 293,870 to the military over the next five years. All of Revision’s helmets are made in Newport.

Eric Hounchell, Revision’s vice-president for armor and global operations, said the company has invested around $3-million in new equipment needed to manufacture the helmets. He predicted Revision would invest more in the plant and hire more workers as orders come in.

Mr. Hounchell said the major selling point for the helmet was that it weighs in at almost a quarter less than the company’s previous model. Reducing the weight of equipment soldiers must carry extends their range and effectiveness, Mr. Hounchell said.

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)

Share

Welch talks health care at North Country Hospital

Featured

copyright the Chronicle July 12, 201

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — U.S. Representative Peter Welch sandwiched a visit to congratulate Revision Military for winning a $98-million contract between meetings with Orleans County organizations, including North Country Hospital, here on July 6.

Representative Welch also looked in at the Lunchbox at Gardner Park. The food truck is a project of Green Mountain Farm-to-School and serves free lunches to children around the county.

Mr. Welch filled a few orders, but spent much of his time talking with Farm-to-School’s recently appointed executive director, James Hafferman, and with Superintendent John Castle of the North Country Supervisory Union, who serves on the Farm-to-School board of directors.

Both men shared concerns about proposed cuts to the federal budget they said could seriously hurt their organizations. Over plates of salad they discussed the potential for harm they think might come from actions being contemplated in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Castle worried that the North Country Supervisory Union could lose $500,000 in Medicaid funds it uses to support a variety of programs in schools around the area, including drug and alcohol counseling.

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)

Share

Peggy Day Gibson steps aside at the Old Stone House Museum

Featured

copyright the Chronicle July 12, 201

 

by Tena Starr

 

BROWNINGTON — For the past ten years or so Peggy Day Gibson has turned her capable and enthusiastic hand to transforming the picturesque Brownington neighborhood that’s home to the Old Stone Museum into vibrant history, as well as a destination.

She leaves the job of museum director in October and hopes her replacement has the vision to follow the museum’s recent trajectory. Brownington’s historic district is a remarkable place, she said, a repository of a region’s history and stories with old buildings as well as vast collections that chronicle a time, a place, a way of doing things, and the lives of people who knew how to do those things.

Ms. Gibson hopes that whoever follows her will see that the historic district is a place so special that it’s poised to earn its own income through bus tours, events, and facility rentals. It has all the potential to become a destination spot, she said.

Under Ms. Gibson’s tenure, the property, owned by the Orleans County Historical Society, has expanded. It includes seven historic buildings; some new buildings, meant to replicate some old ones; as well as additions. The neighborhood, Ms. Gibson said in an interview last week, is currently pretty much what it was in the 1830s when Alexander Twilight was principal of the Orleans County Grammar School, which returned to its original location, hauled there by 23 teams of oxen, last summer.

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)

Share

Boathouse feud continues

Featured

copyright the Chronicle July 12, 201

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — Police say Herman J. Leblanc, 80, of Newport Center tore down a considerable chunk of a boathouse that has been the center of a nearly ten-year-old legal tangle involving his family and the next-door neighbor.

Mr. Leblanc pled innocent to a felony charge of unlawful mischief on June 19, and was ordered held on $75,000 bail by Judge Howard VanBenthuysen.

Judge VanBenthuysen released Mr. Leblanc after he posted bail and his son David Leblanc, agreed to take custody of his father. Herman Leblanc is no longer allowed to live in his Newport Center home on the shore of Lake Memphremagog. Instead, he’s at a rental property owned by his family, where he must stay unless accompanied by his son.

On Monday the Leblancs were back in the Criminal Division of Orleans County Superior Court where attorney Kyle Hatt sought to persuade the judge that requiring a person to be released to the custody of a responsible adult is more appropriate for cases where there is a threat to a person rather than to property.

Judge VanBenthuysen said he would consider the argument, but wanted to wait until Mr. Leblanc completes the competency examination he had already ordered.

State Police Sergeant Andrew Jensen filed an affidavit concerning the most recent charge. Robert Snelgrove, Mr. Leblanc’s neighbor, called police on June 16 and said his boathouse had been damaged.

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)

Share

South end of Willoughby becomes a state park

Featured

copyright the Chronicle July 5, 201

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

WESTMORE — In a surprise move, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation (FPR) announced on Saturday that it’s turning management of the beach area at the south end of Lake Willoughby over to the state parks system.

The decision was made about a month ago by Forests, Parks, and Recreation Commissioner Michael Snyder, said Susan Bulmer, the regional manager of the state park system.

“You’re the first to know,” she told the 80 or so people who nearly filled Westmore’s Fellowship Hall on the evening of July 1.

The crowd had come to see the formal presentation of the department’s revised plans for parking, bathrooms, and runoff management at the south end of the lake.

Many had participated in a months-long letter writing campaign organized by a group called Protect Willoughby. Its goal has been to get the department to downsize or abandon its plans.

Originally FPR called for parking for up to 90 cars, a 17-foot wide bathroom building, handicap accessible trails, and an observation deck.

And despite the fears of Protect Willoughby’s organizers that the holiday weekend was a bad time to schedule a public meeting, about 50 people had sloshed through a downpour earlier in the afternoon for guided walks around the East Cove and West Cove beach areas.

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)

Share

Lake Region continues to beat the odds

Featured

copyright the Chronicle July 5, 201

 

by Brad Usatch

 

When U.S. News and World Report issued its 2017 rankings of Vermont public high schools, no one should have been surprised to see Lake Region Union High School near the top of the list. For five of the past six years, Lake Region has earned a silver medal in the annual review. This year it was rated eighth best in the state and in the top 10 percent nationally.

The rankings, according to the U.S. News and World Report website, are determined through a four-part test. Step one compares how students perform on standardized tests in math and English language skills compared to other students in the state. Step two measures the success of economically disadvantaged students against what would be statistically expected in the state. Step three factors in graduation rates. Step four uses advanced placement (AP) test performance to determine college readiness.

The class of 2017 was particularly impressive, according to Principal Andre Messier, who said the bar keeps getting raised by each successive senior class that comes through. While the class boasted a 91 percent graduation rate, with 35 percent of seniors taking at least one AP course, Mr. Messier said what marks this group as exceptional is their courage to leave Vermont and expand their range of experiences. A number of the students are heading off to highly competitive college programs, including Harvard University, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Middlebury College, Ohio State University, and McGill University in Montreal.

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)

Share

Judge approves $150-million settlement

Featured

copyright the Chronicle July 5, 201

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

U.S. District Court Judge Darrin Gayles cleared the way for contractors, merchants, and some EB-5 investors to recover money Jay Peak and Burke Mountain Resorts owes them.

On Friday he gave final approval to a $150-million settlement reached between Michael Goldberg, the court-appointed receiver, and Raymond James & Associates, a financial services company accused of enabling Jay Peak owner Ariel Quiros’ alleged fraud.

Judge Gayles tersely described the EB-5 program as one “through which an investor who invested $500,000 in a project that created ten or more jobs per investor would be eligible to apply for unconditional, permanent residency in the United States on an expedited basis.”

While Mr. Quiros owned Jay Peak and Burke Mountain Resorts, his companies ran eight such EB-5 projects. Six of them were completed or will soon be completed so their investors will qualify for permanent residency in the U.S.

The Burke Mountain Hotel opened for business last fall, but some planned amenities were never built, so not enough jobs were created to make all its investors eligible for green cards.

AnC Bio, the biomedical facility that was to be built in Newport, barely got off the ground, so none of its investors will qualify for U.S. residency.

According to civil fraud charges filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr. Quiros misappropriated about $220-million of the $350-million investors put into his projects. He was also accused by the commission of taking more than $50-million for his own use.

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)

Share

Coventry Select Board to interview town clerk candidates

Featured

copyright the Chronicle July 5, 201

by Elizabeth Trail

 

COVENTRY — If all goes well, David Barlow, who was hired to serve as “temporary interim” clerk and treasurer, could be out of a job soon.

The select board here will interview candidates for the positions of town clerk and treasurer at a special select board meeting on Friday, July 7, at 11:30 a.m.

Five people have submitted resumés and letters of interest. They are: Catherine Fletcher, Deb Tanguay, Adam Messier, Carol Simmons, and Sherry Bradley.

All have regularly attended select board meetings over the past year.

The new clerk and treasurer — the select board is hoping to hire a person for each job — will serve until Town Meeting next March, when voters will have the opportunity to elect people to fill the positions.

The offices were vacated under state law on June 9 when former Town Clerk and Treasurer Cynthia Diaz failed to raise a $1.5-million bond.

The Vermont League of Cities and Towns revoked Ms. Diaz’ coverage after they paid a $500,000 claim that the town submitted to get back a portion of the money a recent audit by the forensic accounting firm Graham and Graham found to be missing.

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)

Share

Barton solar project could raise rates

Featured

copyright the Chronicle June 28, 201

by Elizabeth Trail

 

BARTON — If Will and Victor Veve’s planned solar farm is built here on Aldrich Lane north of town, it could push up the Barton Electric Department’s rates by as much as 2.6 percent.

That’s according to some number crunching by the Vermont Public Power Supply Authority (VPPSA).

Under Vermont’s net-metering law, when privately owned solar panels feed power into the grid, the utility pays the panel owners the full retail electric price plus a bonus to encourage solar development.

Barton Electric pays solar panel owners 19.3 cents per kilowatt hour for the power their solar panels feed into the grid.

The payments are made in the form of credits against the customer’s bill. If a customer has enough solar panels, credits can completely offset the bill.

Another part of the net-metering law allows solar developers to sell power to customers at a discount and keep the difference between what they charge and the higher net-metering rate.

The power can be produced anywhere within the utility’s service area, so the nonprofit doesn’t have to host the solar field or buy land to put it on.

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)

Share

Maple production nears historic levels

Featured

copyright the Chronicle June 28, 201

 

by Tena Starr

 

Although maple sugaring in Vermont has grown at a startling rate in the past decade, it still hasn’t reached pre1935 levels, at least in terms of the number of trees tapped.

That’s according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (UDSA), which last week released its annual statistic on maple syrup production. This year, 5.4 million Vermont trees were tapped, the USDA said. Before 1935, though, between 5.5 and 6 million trees were tapped on a regular basis.

The USDA also said that Vermont’s 2017 maple syrup production totaled 1.98 million gallons, which was the second highest production on record. That’s up 12 percent from 2016 “and the largest number of taps since 1935,” according to USDA statistics.

Sugaring’s dramatic growth is due, in part, to the fact that it also fell dramatically. The number of trees tapped dipped to around 1.5 million in the 1960s, according to the USDA. In 2003, it climbed to 2.12 million. Growth has been pretty steady since 2007 except for a sharp dip in 2011.

“There used to be a lot more agriculture in the state,” said Tim Perkins, director of the Proctor Maple Research Center in Underhill. “Back at that time, people didn’t do much of anything else.”

In early spring, farmers could either cut firewood or make syrup, he said. Syrup was a cash crop, and almost every dairy farm had a sugarbush that farmers made good use of.

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)

Share