Brownington murder trial set for end of month

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copyright the Chronicle January 3, 2018

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — Jeffrey M. Ray, 53, of Brownington will face a jury rather than try to negotiate a reduction in the first-degree murder charge he faces in the shooting death of Rick Vreeland. Mr. Ray has been held without bail since he entered an innocent plea to the charge in May of 2015.

According to police affidavits, Mr. Ray had a blood alcohol level three times higher than the legal limit when he shot the 53-year-old Mr. Vreeland, who was married to Mr. Ray’s ex-wife.

On Tuesday Mr. Ray appeared with his lawyer, Kyle Hatt, for a pretrial conference in the Criminal Division of Orleans County Superior Court. Judge Robert Bent asked Mr. Hatt if there is a possibility of settling the case before it goes before a jury and received a firm “no” for an answer.

Mr. Hatt and Orleans County State’s Attorney Jennifer Barrett, who will prosecute the case, are scheduled to select a jury on January 22. If all goes as planned, the trial will start the next day.

Judge Bent has blocked out nine days for the trial, which could run through February 1.

On Tuesday Mr. Hatt asked if special questions he had drawn up had been added to the normal queries put to potential jurors in a questionnaire sent out before they are asked to appear in court. They had been.

Mr. Hatt also told Judge Bent that he intends to place a blood alcohol test performed at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in the record as evidence. He said that may require the technician who performed the test to testify in court unless Ms. Barrett agrees to stipulate to the person’s qualifications.

“I encourage people to agree to what they can agree to,” Judge Bent said.

Ms. Barrett did not say what she intends to do.

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Old Stone House welcomes a new generation

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copyright the Chronicle December 6, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

BROWNINGTON — Molly Veysey started her new job as director of the Old Stone House Museum on December 1. So did Finance Manager Walter Parenteau. Both are 36 years old.

Add in administrative assistant Dana Drake, also born in 1981, and three out of the five Old Stone House staff members are in their mid-30s.

That’s a change at the museum, where staff members have traditionally been older. People have worried for years about whether there would be a younger generation to take over as they retire.

It’s too early to talk about other changes, Ms. Veysey said in an interview Tuesday morning.

“We’re going to take a year learning the regular functions before we start anything major,” she said.

She’s full of praise for former director Peggy Day Gibson.

“If it weren’t for her ten years of hard work, this position wouldn’t be what it is,” Ms. Veysey said, noting the enormous progress of the past decade in acquiring buildings, keeping them up, and building the museum’s programs.

Financially, the organization seems to be in good health, she said.

She plans to continue Ms. Gibson’s forward momentum by putting her grant-writing skills to work.

One immediate project is going to be continuing Ms. Gibson’s efforts to retrofit the Grange building for handicap access.

In fact, on Tuesday morning Ms. Veysey was on her way out the door to a workshop on accessibility.

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Peggy Day Gibson steps aside at the Old Stone House Museum

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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.

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ATVs — pest or new economic driver?

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copyright the Chronicle March 22, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

When a group of ATV enthusiasts went before the Westmore Select board recently to ask that some town roads be opened to them, they touted the usual arguments, the main one being that allowing people who love to ride on the versatile machines to get to stores and restaurants would be good for the economy.

And they received the usual arguments for the select board’s hesitation, the main ones being the town is worried about rogue riders and liability if something happens.

“They’re hoping to get some roads open so they can connect to Brownington roads, which are all open,” said Selectman Bill Perkins. They would also like to have access to amenities, he added.

As of Sunday, the board hadn’t made a decision, though Mr. Perkins, at least, wasn’t inclined to offer much resistance.

“Our main concerns are the same as with snowmobiling,” he said. “We just want to make sure the town isn’t going to be held liable for anything if there’s ever an accident. We don’t want the town responsible in any way. Other than that we don’t see a big problem with them.”

The Westmore request is only one of the latest in a growing debate about whether ATVs — which some think may replace snowmobiles as a major economic engine driving Vermont’s outdoor economy — should be provided more access to town and village roads.

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Brownington death ruled homicide

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copyright the Chronicle June 22, 2016

The death of a Brownington man in March has been ruled a homicide.

The Chief Medical Examiner’s office announced on Monday that Kevin Smith, 38, died from a stab wound to his chest.

Around 8:30 p.m. on March 28 State Police responded to a 911 call from Jennifer Simard, Mr. Smith’s girlfriend, who said he was at her house near the Evansville Trading Post and unresponsive…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Brownington votes to keep the three-person select board

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copyright the Chronicle May 4, 2016

by Elizabeth Trail 

BROWNINGTON — Voters here have once again decided that they want a three-member select board. They voted 39-37 at a special meeting Saturday in favor of the smaller board.

At Town Meeting in early March, Brownington voters decided to go back to having a three-person select board. At the previous year’s Town Meeting, they had voted to increase the number of select board members from three to five.

The problem with the vote at Town Meeting this year was that some spoiled and blank ballots may have made it invalid, Moderator Pat Davis said.

So on Saturday Brownington residents poured into the school gym to vote on the question one more time.

The warning was in two parts: Should the town reconsider the Town Meeting decision, which in effect meant going back to a five-person select board, and if so, to elect two new members for the board?

Before the vote, there seemed to be some confusion in the room…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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In Brownington: Death investigation underway

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copyright the Chronicle March 30, 2016

State Police say that the body of a Brownington man who was found dead Monday evening was taken to the office of the Chief Medical Examiner for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.   Meanwhile, a death investigation is underway. State Police from Derby responded to a 911 call reporting an unresponsive male at a home on the Evansville Road in Brownington about 8:30 p.m. on Monday. There, they found Kevin Smith, 38, of Brownington. The house is surrounded with crime scene tape, and a State Police cruiser remained at the scene Tuesday, but police had released no further details as of press time.

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Accused murderer questions lawyer

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copyright the Chronicle March 16, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT – A breach between an accused murderer and his lawyer was apparently healed by a talk from Judge Robert Bent.

Jeffrey M. Ray, 52, of Brownington sent a handwritten note to the clerk in the Criminal Division of Orleans Superior Court on February 26 to say he and St. Johnsbury attorney David Sleigh met that day and had “a breakdown with our communication.”

He asked that he be allowed to find a new lawyer.

On May 26, 2015, Mr. Ray pled innocent to first degree murder in the shooting death of Rick Vreeland, 53, also of Brownington, and his former wife’s husband.  Judge Timothy Tomasi ordered Mr. Ray held without bail.

Mr. Ray was in court with Mr. Sleigh Monday morning…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Brownington Town Meeting: Board returns to three members

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copyright the Chronicle March 2, 2016

by Eileen Wolfe

BROWNINGTON – Were voters at a mudslinging match?  Or a law school class?  How about a comedy of errors?

Town Meeting on Tuesday seemed to incorporate a bit of all those as people lurched and fought and eventually zipped their way through town and school affairs.

The meeting got off to an inauspicious start  By lunchtime, eight votes had been taken to decide five articles (or sub-articles), and it turned out that only three of the five final decisions would stand.  In addition, a less than congenial tone had been set that would continue… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Land trust helps farmers find farms

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Neal Perry, pictured here, and his wife, Rebekah, are the owners of a 134-acre farm in Brownington.  He sits on his porch as he discusses plans to sell the property to the Vermont Land Trust.  That organization, in turn, plans to sell the land to a new farmer at a price that will allow him or her to keep it in agriculture.  Photos by Joseph Gresser

Neal Perry, pictured here, and his wife, Rebekah, are the owners of a 134-acre farm in Brownington. He sits on his porch as he discusses plans to sell the property to the Vermont Land Trust. That organization, in turn, plans to sell the land to a new farmer at a price that will allow him or her to keep it in agriculture. Photos by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle September 23, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

BROWNINGTON — Neal Perry has lived all of his 48 years on the 134-acre farm that was in his family 43 years before he was born. But sometime soon another farmer will be cultivating the land.

Mr. Perry isn’t being pushed off his property; rather he is following a calling and moving to Island Pond to be closer to the Green Mountain Bible Church where he has been pastor for two years.

Sitting on the porch of his house on Thursday, September 17, and looking across the long vista to Willoughby Gap, Mr. Perry spoke about the person who will succeed him as steward of the farm.

“I want someone to love it like I loved it,” he said.

Mr. Perry doesn’t know who that… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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