Ranger danger: Lake Region wins second straight soccer title

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copyright the Chronicle November 8, 2017

 

by Brad Usatch

 

SOUTH BURLINGTON — They were tried and tested, but in the end the Lake Region Union High School Rangers left Munson Field at South Burlington High School just as they had arrived: as the reigning Division II soccer champions for the state of Vermont.

Up 2-0 in the second half, the top ranked Rangers (15-2) weathered a two-goal rally by the sixth-seeded Harwood Union Highlanders (10-4-1) before Brady Perron seized the championship with a golden goal header just 5:57 into the overtime period.

It has been an incredible run for a talented group led by senior snipers Riley Urie and Brady Perron. The Rangers ran the table last year (18-0) to win the school’s first ever soccer title in the team’s first finals appearance since 1978. In 2015 they also finished the regular season undefeated before falling to U-32 in the semifinals. Over the past four seasons, Lake Region has racked up a combined record of 62-6, capped by a pair of silver championship bowls for the display case.

In addition to the team’s offensive stars, this year’s seniors include goaltender Liam Kennedy who came up with a number of big saves on Saturday, starting fullbacks Noah Royer, Bradey Kerr, and Gabe Riendeau, and forward Chad Royer.

“Most of us have been together since we were like seven years old,” Kennedy said, “so we’ve grown together as a team. It’s great. It’s amazing. There’s no better feeling than this, especially in our senior year.”

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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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Still more questions than answers about Shrinedom

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copyright the Chronicle September 20, 2017

 

by Brad Usatch

 

EAST ALBANY — Four days after a planned daylong music festival collapsed for apparent lack of funds, organizers remain reluctant to explain exactly what happened, or what measures, if any, will be taken to compensate ticket holders who feel they were scammed.

Set to take place on the property of the Creek Hill Barn, Shrinedom 2017 was advertised by promoter Marc Clay of Crossova Concepts as a benefit for the Mt. Sinai Shriners #3 based in Montpelier. The Shriners are an international fraternal organization most noted for creating a network of 22 children’s hospitals across North America. According to the Shrinedom Facebook page, Crossova was teaming up with Kingdom Cares, Inc., to produce the show. Kingdom Cares is a Vermont corporation with Shriner Adam B. Johnson of Irasburg listed as its sole agent.

Gates were set to open at 7 a.m. on what turned out to be a picture perfect Saturday on September 16. A trio of rising New England country acts was slated to play from mid-morning into the afternoon, and that part of the concert went off without a hitch.

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South end of Willoughby becomes a state park

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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.

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Lake Region continues to beat the odds

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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.

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The Luring haunts the Northeast Kingdom

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copyright the Chronicle May 10, 2017

 

by Brad Usatch

 

LOWELL — Evil cast its shadow over Missisquoi Lanes on Saturday as The Luring, a horror film being shot in the Northeast Kingdom, borrowed the location for what is said to be a revealing scene in the movie.

The Luring is written and directed by Christopher Wells, a Long Island native with strong local ties. His father, Roderick Wells, is a well known landscape painter who still lives in the St. Johnsbury area.

Christopher’s 2016 release about his father’s work, Roderick Wells: The Art of Romantic Realism, took home best documentary prizes at both the New York Short Film and Screenplay competition and the New York Film and TV Festival.

Some of his father’s work is also being used in The Luring.

Taken straight from the film’s website (www.theluring.com) The Luring tells the story of a man who returns to the vacation home where a murder took place on his tenth birthday, hoping to resolve a memory gap that has been plaguing him for years. It is a feature length horror film, but Mr. Wells said not to expect a lot of blood and gore. Instead, he said, he aims to produce a psychological thriller with fully developed characters, intelligent dialogue, and subtle foreshadowing.

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If you can see grass, tick season is here

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copyright the Chronicle May 3, 2017

 

by Brad Usatch

 

This week’s weather notwithstanding, summer is on its way, and with it, another year of tick vigilance for people and their pets.

Lyme disease, the most prevalent pathogen spread by ticks, used to be a fringe issue for a handful of unlucky souls in southern New England and maybe southern Vermont counties. But in the past ten or so years, ticks have spread north, and biologists and doctors warn that no place in Vermont is safe from the parasites and the host of diseases they are able to transmit.

Based on information on the Department of Health website, up until about the year 2000, Vermont averaged roughly ten to 20 confirmed cases of Lyme disease per year. That number grew steadily to reach 50 by 2004, 105 by 2008, and 330 by 2010. In 2013, the state recorded 675 cases of Lyme disease, or better than one infection for every 1,000 people.

That same 2015 data ranked Vermont as the state with the highest incidence of Lyme disease in the country. That year, the Center for Disease Control reported that 78.4 out of every 100,000 Vermonters was infected at some point. That number was well above most other states, including Connecticut, which reported an infection rate of 52.2 per 100,000.

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Fish and Wildlife proposes cutting moose permits in half

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copyright the Chronicle April 5, 2017

 

by Brad Usatch

 

A steep decline in the moose population, both statewide and in the Northeast Kingdom, has led the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) to recommend substantial cuts in the number of hunting permits offered this year.

The Fish and Wildlife Board (FWB) will vote Wednesday on a proposal to authorize a total of 80 permits, including 17 archery season permits, down over 51 percent from 165 permits authorized for the 2016 seasons. Also for the first time, the plan would mandate that only bull moose be hunted in all wildlife management units (WMUs).

Locally, the plan calls for nine regular season permits, and one archery season permit each, for both the D1 and D2 WMUs. WMUs do not align with town or county boundaries, but D1 covers most of Orleans County, south to Hyde Park and Hardwick. D2 overlies the northern two-thirds of Caledonia County, as well as almost all of Westmore, and smaller portions of Barton and other Orleans County towns.

The recommendation also authorizes a total of ten permits each (seven regular season and three archery season) for the E1 and E2 WMUs covering almost all of Essex County.

As recently as 2009, over 1,200 permits were offered on a yearly basis. But that was at a time when Fish and Wildlife was actively trying to bring down a moose population that moose biologist Cedric Alexander said was at an all-time high, perhaps dating back to the last ice age.

Mr. Alexander said the winter tick is the main culprit in the population plunge that took the statewide moose herd from a historic high estimated at close to 5,000 moose in 2005, to a November 2016 estimate of 1,750. Heavy tick infestations affect herd size in two ways, Mr. Alexander explained.

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Girls with Guns inspires a new generation of athletes

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copyright the Chronicle March 29, 2017

 

by Brad Usatch

 

CRAFTSBURY — The typically serene atmosphere at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center crackled with the sound of gunfire on Sunday as the Craftsbury Green Racing Project (CGRP) hosted its inaugural run of Girls with Guns — a free introduction to the sport of biathlon.

Over 80 girls ranging in age from eight to 18 pre-registered for the event, and a steady stream trickled in to register that day. Biathlon is somewhat obscure in the United States, but may be seeing a big boost locally thanks to the dramatic success of Barton native Susan Dunklee, who this past February became the first American woman to win an individual medal at the biathlon World Championships. Ms. Dunklee is a founding member of CGRP, and when she’s not racing in Europe, she makes her home in Craftsbury.

Biathlon combines the sports of Nordic skiing and target shooting in races of various lengths and formats. Common to each of the biathlon disciplines, the skiers race between shooting ranges where each has five bullets to hit five targets from either a standing or prone position. For every missed target, the racer must ski a penalty loop.

Girls with Guns was the brainchild of CGRP’s Emily Dreissigacker, a Morrisville native and member of the U.S. Biathlon development group. She said she was inspired by the nonprofit group Fast and Female that was started by a pair of elite American and Canadian skiers, and has branched out to support competitive athletic training for young women across a variety of sports.

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Ice fishing tournament covers the Kingdom

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copyright the Chronicle March 1, 2017

 

by Brad Usatch

 

Game fish from Harvey’s Lake to Great Averill Pond are breathing a sigh of relief this week after having somehow lived through another Northeast Kingdom Ice Fishing Derby.

In its thirteenth year, the contest founded and hosted by Wright’s Sport Shop in Newport attracted fishermen from Maine to New York State for fun and camaraderie, and to test their ice fishing wiles with the hope of taking home a share of $50,000 in cash and prizes.

Unusual for any fishing tournament, the contest encompasses every major water body in the Northeast Kingdom and is open to most game fish species — salmon, rainbow trout, lake trout, brown trout, walleye, northern pike, and perch.

The derby ran from the crack of dawn on Thursday, February 23, until noon on Sunday, with a separate Saturday-only derby for children 14 and younger.

Wright’s Sport Shop owner Ron Wright said the idea for the tournament came from his daughter.

“That first year we had 76 or 77 entries, and it just went from there,” he said.

This year, Mr. Wright said, the final numbers listed over 600 adults and 168 children who had registered for the event.

By midday on Friday, Wright’s was already buzzing with activity. Fish were brought in, weighed, measured, and piled in large plastic tote bins to be cleaned for the celebratory dinner.

Tom Deslandes of Newport pulled three northerns out of the back of his truck that appeared to be at least five or six pounds each, but he said they were nothing compared to the nine-pounder he had pulled in on Thursday.

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