Fire destroys Barton restaurant

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copyright the Chronicle January 10, 2018

 

by Tena Starr and Joseph Gresser

 

BARTON — Fire destroyed Ming’s House, the Chinese restaurant here, on Friday. The tricky fire started at around 2 p.m. Barton Fire Chief Kevin Tartaglio, who arrived on the scene just minutes after the department was toned out, said he didn’t get back to the station until around 11:30 or midnight.

About 30 firefighters from Barton, Orleans, Glover, and Irasburg helped battle what could hardly be called a blaze.

Instead, Barton was filled with brown smoke so thick that sometimes it was impossible to even see the restaurant.

Chief Tartaglio said state fire investigators came up on Monday and will issue a report sometime this week. He added that it was an accidental fire.

A neighboring business owner said the owner of Ming’s told him it started as a grease fire.

Chief Tartaglio said it was a “major fire because of the weather,” which was frigid that day.

He said that when he arrived the interior was engulfed in flames, and the whole building was filled with smoke.

“I put a firefighter on one side to protect Rock Insurance and another one on the other to protect the house,” the chief said. “We ran water until we could attempt the interior.”

He said that, as soon as he realized what was going on, he called in mutual aid.

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Barton, Orleans fire departments plan merger

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copyright the Chronicle January 10, 2018

by Elizabeth Trail

 

BARTON — Plans are moving ahead for combining the Barton and Orleans fire departments into a single, more efficient unit.

Orleans Administrator John Morley and fire chiefs Kevin Tartaglio and E.J. Rowell came to Monday night’s Barton Select Board meeting to talk about the idea.

Mr. Tartaglio and Mr. Rowell nodded their agreement when Mr. Morley said the fire departments, including the chiefs, are in full support of the plan.

Mr. Tartaglio has volunteered to step aside and leave Mr. Rowell with the official title of fire chief.

“These guys already know how to work together,” Mr. Morley said. “That’s going to be the easy part.”

The select board, too, thinks the idea is a good one.

The plan is for both firehouses to stay open. Equipment will be moved around so that both locations have what they need. Firefighters will be assigned wherever they’re needed. And the village of Orleans will handle the bookkeeping and other paperwork that both chiefs admit they find daunting.

“It’s the structure that’s changing, not the services,” Selectman Bob Croteau said.

The plan offers central administration, a single insurance, and central dispatching, he noted.

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Driver okay after run-in with train

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copyright the Chronicle December 20, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

BARTON — Pete Cocoros can’t remember exactly what happened Monday afternoon when his car was hit by a train at the crossing in front of the E.M. Brown and Son hardware store here.

“It was a nightmare,” he said over the phone Tuesday. “I don’t want to think about it.”

But he said he must have been too close to the tracks.

An eyewitness agrees. Ann Young was heading out of town and was stopped facing the 88-year-old Mr. Cocoros across the tracks.

“I saw the other car with its front end right at the tracks just as the train was coming,” she said. “I couldn’t tell if the wheels were on the tracks, or just the front end of the car. The road was very slippery with slush, and I thought that maybe the driver was trying to back up but couldn’t.”

There are flashing lights but no gate at the Eastern Avenue railroad crossing.

Ms. Young said the train was braking and sounding its horn continuously but was unable to avoid hitting the front end of the car.

Mr. Cocoros said he isn’t sure whether he knew ahead of time that his car was in danger.

“The train hit the car, then stopped,” Ms. Young said. “I could see under the train that the driver got out of the car, but I was on the wrong side of the train to do anything.”

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Trustees ask for evidence of Greater Barton Arts claim to equipment

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copyright the Chronicle December 13, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

BARTON — The defunct Barton Senior Center has given its equipment to Greater Barton Arts (GBA), a nonprofit headed by Ed and Adrien Helm that aims to promote the arts in the Barton area.

However, following an executive session at their meeting Monday, the Barton Village Trustees composed a letter to Ms. Helm saying additional action is necessary regarding Greater Barton Arts’ claim to “items which may or may not be present in the Barton Village Memorial Building.”

The trustees asked that evidence be provided that “(a) the former Barton Senior Center, Inc., held title to the items listed in the attachment to your letter, and (b) the Barton Senior Center, Inc. Board of Directors thereafter conveyed its title of these items to the Greater Barton Arts, Inc.”

The trustees’ letter goes on to say that the Barton Senior Center Board dissolved the organization in September.

“Please provide evidence that the Senior Center, prior to dissolution, transferred the list of assets to the Greater Barton Arts organization,” the trustees’ letter says.

Brenda Lowther, director of the senior center, also gave Greater Barton Arts $20,000 of the nonprofit’s money. That money is now in an escrow account and will be used for programs for seniors, Mr. and Ms. Helm said last month.

The Barton Senior Center abruptly closed in September. Much of the food was given to the senior meal center in West Burke.

Equipment remains in the basement of the Memorial Building where the old senior meals program was, and where a new and unrelated one is now functioning with a new director and a new board.

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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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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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Fire destroys landmark barn in Barton

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copyright the Chronicle October 11, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

BARTON — State Police are looking for information about the Monday afternoon fire that burned the landmark barn known as The Pines to the ground. Firefighters poured a steady stream of water on the farmhouse, which suffered only minor damage, but the barn burned in a hurry.

In a press release issued shortly before midnight on Monday, Detective Sergeant Michael LaCourse said the cause of the fire is undetermined, but remains under investigation.

“Investigators are aware that numerous people took photographs of the fire in its incipient stage and would like to speak with anyone that may have witnessed the fire,” the release says.

A young woman at the neighbor’s house called in the fire after noticing flames shooting out the upper story where hay was stored.

Michael and Kim Riendeau of Brownington own the Kinsey Road property. They said there were no animals in the barn at the time; they were still out to pasture because of the good weather.

The Riendeaus have owned the place for about a year and a half. Before that, Jim Young and Raymond Leblanc owned it, and it was frequently used for livestock and equipment auctions under the name of Northeast Kingdom Sales.

Mr. Riendeau said on Tuesday that he was on his way home from Poulin Grain in Newport Monday afternoon when he ran into his son John in Orleans, who stopped him and told him the barn was on fire.

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Barton Senior Center closes abruptly

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copyright the Chronicle October 4, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

BARTON — The Barton Senior Center served its last meal on September 27.

On Tuesday night, about 30 people, including two Barton Village Trustees and two representatives from the Northeast Kingdom Council on Aging, met in the Barton Municipal Building to talk about starting up a new program to provide meals and activities to seniors in the area.

“This is too important to shut down,” said 82-year-old Beverley Winslow before the meeting started. “I have a lot of my life ahead of me, and I really enjoy going somewhere, playing cards, being around other people. I need this place.”

When the new senior center opens its doors, she will be the first one through them, she said.

By the end of the evening, the trustees had collected a pile of surveys that they hope will point a new senior center in the right direction. And six or seven people had volunteered to sit on a new board, which the trustees hope will eventually number at least 11.

But many questions remain unanswered.

Former senior center Director Brenda Lowther gave the village only about a week’s notice of the closing, said Trustee Cathy Swain.

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State seeks ways to boost rural economy

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copyright the Chronicle October 4, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

BARTON — Bleak as the picture for dairy so often is in Vermont, it’s the decline of the state’s forestry industry that people wanted to talk about Tuesday at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on farming, forestry, and the rural economy. The Barton meeting drew about a dozen people.

The commissioners of agriculture and forests, parks, and recreation were present, as was the deputy commissioner of forests, parks and recreation.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Bobby Starr of North Troy said the committee is traveling around Vermont listening to ideas about how to improve the rural economy.

“It’s important for us to hear what you folks would like us to do,” he said. “Believe it or not, we work for you.”

“We are going to take all the comments and ideas and try to come up with a few pieces of legislation that will help rural Vermont and outlying areas,” Mr. Starr said.

The meeting also provided information about what is already being done.

Agriculture Commissioner Anson Tebbetts said he actually had some good news to report.

Many Vermonters who work in agriculture attend the annual Big E fair in Massachusetts in the hope of acquiring new and bigger markets, Ms. Tebbetts said.

Visitors to exhibits on Vermont Day were at an all time high, he said. He said there were 171,897 visitors on just the one day. Put that in perspective, he said, and that’s like one-fifth of Vermont was there.

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Barton’s Hall of Fame farmers

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copyright the Chronicle August 16, 2017

 

by Paul Lefebvre

 

BARTON — Rupert Chamberlin stands next to the railing on his deck, which affords a magnificent view of the countryside and the Jay mountain range in the distance. It’s not the view, though, that holds his interest. Although retired, he’s a farmer first and always. And today he’s got his eye on a piece of land just below the house that needs to brush hogged.

As someone who has farmed for most of his 83 years, he says there is a technique to brush hogging. His approach is to first brush hog the land counter-clockwise, and then to do it again clockwise. That way, he says, you get the grass that was only bent over on the first pass. As a finishing touch, he brush hogs the land once more, going back and forth, as if he were mowing his lawn.

His observations about brush, or bush, hogging are likely characteristic of someone who has been working the land as a dairy farmer since graduating from the Vermont Agricultural and Technical Institute in Randolph in 1953. Or someone who has stuck it out through thick and thin.

“I’ve moved five times and haven’t gone a mile,” he says, speaking about a farming life that began when he became a partner on his father’s farm out of college, and eventually took it over in 1958, the same year he started breeding registered Jerseys.

A few years later, in 1960, he took on a life partner when he married Muriel Rochelu, who has been with him through the lean years as well as the ones more robust.

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