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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Fire destroys historic round barn in Irasburg

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copyright the Chronicle August 24, 2016

by Paul Lefebvre

IRASBURG — A fire Tuesday destroyed the round barn here on Robillard Flats that had become a cultural landmark for those who live or travel through Orleans County.

Originally built in 1908, the barn had been in the Robillard family since 1960. Two generations of dairy farmers had turned the land, as well as the barn, into a showpiece that attracted natives and tourists alike.

A fast burning fire that started early in the afternoon completely destroyed the wooden round barn and left the remaining metal barns, where the livestock were kept, scorched and crumpled.

It’s a disaster,” said Bernard Robillard, who bought the farm from his father, Guy.

It’s still uncertain what caused the fire.

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Bill Stenger still on the payroll at Jay Peak — for now

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copyright the Chronicle August 24, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

JAY — For more than 30 years visitors to Jay Peak Resort had a hard time avoiding the ski area’s general manager, later president, Bill Stenger. They might find him parking cars, selling lift tickets, or clearing tables in one of the area’s restaurants.

One might think that would have changed since he and Jay Peak’s owner Ariel Quiros were accused of investment fraud in civil complaints filed by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the state’s Department of Financial Regulation (DFR).

That would be a mistake.

Mr. Stenger is as visible as ever. He’s still working for Jay Peak, albeit in a very different role, that of assisting court-appointed receiver Michael Goldberg as he tries to keep Jay Peak and Burke Mountain resorts running while legal proceedings are underway.

He has the same office that he occupied when he was president of the resort, the same e-mail addresses, and phone numbers. He even drives the same Audi he has driven for the past six years, complete with a Jay Peak vanity plate.

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Officials offer Newport economic hope

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copyright the Chronicle August 24, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — Although it’s had some reverses in the past year, Newport has friends. That message was clearly delivered Monday night when representatives from a wide variety of government agencies and nonprofits gathered for a city council meeting.

The roll of distinguished guests included Ted Brady, who heads the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development program; newly appointed Secretary of Commerce and Community Development, Lucy Leriche; David Snedeker, the director of the Northeastern Vermont Development Association (NVDA); and Jon Freeman, president of Northern Communities Investment Corporation (NCIC).

Representatives of the Vermont Land Trust and Vermont Council for Rural Development helped round out the panel.

City Manager Laura Dolgin introduced the assembled dignitaries and suggested the city might see changes in the coming months. State judicial officials are looking over their properties around Vermont.

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Citizens hope to keep NCUHS school resource officer

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copyright the Chronicle August 24, 2016

 

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — SRO stands for school resource officer, but it could have meant standing room only at Monday’s Newport City Council meeting. More than 50 people, including a large number of teachers, staff members, parents, and students from North Country Union High School showed up to express their displeasure at Newport Police Chief Seth DiSanto’s decision to pull one of his officer from permanent duty at the high school.

They were heard by Chief DiSanto and the council, but the decision remained unchanged at the end of the evening. The chief apologized for making his decision so close to the opening of school, but promised not to leave North Country in the lurch.

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Charges still pending in prison hostage case

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copyright the Chronicle August 17, 2016

NEWPORT — Charges are still pending against the two inmates who are accused of seizing a guard and holding him hostage for roughly two hours last Thursday at Northern State Correctional Facility.

Inmates Mehmed Devac, 22, and Leroy Hughes, 32, were transferred to a facility elsewhere in the state after a prison negotiator succeeded in bringing the crisis to an end.

The prison guard, Malcolm Brown of Morgan, returned to work Friday, a decision that earned high praise from Mike Touchette of the Department of Corrections.

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Roadside needles are evidence of a larger problem

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copyright the Chronicle August 17, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail

 Newport City Police are handing out a brochure that they hope will stop the littering of used hypodermic needles around town.

The brochure tells drug users how to exchange old needles for clean ones without being in contact with the police. The program, worked out in partnership with the St. Johnsbury-based nonprofit Vermont Safe, is free and anonymous.

Vermont Safe also offers mobile needle exchange by appointment in Barton and Orleans.

For the last couple of years, the Newport Police Department has seen a major increase in the number of needles found in parks, parking areas, and on the streets, Sergeant Travis Bingham said.

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