Lawsuits claim massive fraud

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copyright the Chronicle April 20, 2016

by Chris Braithwaite

The fix was in from the beginning.

That grim conclusion emerges from a reading of the civil lawsuits state and federal officials have filed against Bill Stenger, Ariel Quiros, Jay Peak, Inc., Q Resorts, Inc., and a host of the corporations and partnerships the two men have established over the past eight years.

Ever since he announced that he was a part owner of Jay Peak in 2008, Mr. Stenger has presided over a stunning series of expansion programs aimed at converting the ski area to a year-round resort. All were funded by foreign investors seeking immigrant status under the EB-5 visa program, which rewards half-million-dollar job-creating investments with a green card.

And, as Mr. Stenger never tired of telling skeptical critics, five of the six major expansions he’s undertaken at Jay have been finished as promised; they’re up and running.

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Stenger pled ignorance to SEC in 2014

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copyright the Chronicle April 20, 2016

by Chris Braithwaite

When investigators with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission asked Bill Stenger whether his partner had bought Jay Peak resort with money misappropriated from foreign investors, Mr. Stenger said he didn’t know.

That was the gist of Mr. Stenger’s answers in May 2014, when he was summoned to Miami, Florida, to answer questions about how Ariel Quiros became the owner of Jay Peak in June 2008.

In the lawsuit it filed last week, the SEC charged that Mr. Quiros’ diversion of the investors’ funds to buy the ski area was the beginning of a “massive eight-year fraudulent scheme” that led them to seize both Jay Peak and Q Burke Mountain last week.

When asked if he knew if any of the funds Mr. Quiros used to buy Jay Peak were investor’s funds that had been transferred to a Miami brokerage house, Mr. Stenger’s reply was vague:

“I don’t know if they were or not,” he said according to a transcript of his deposition. “They might have been. I don’t know.”

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Book review: New Kinsey collection is a double offering

copyright the Chronicle March 16, 2016

Galvanized, New and Selected Poems by Leland Kinsey. Published by Green Writers Press, Brattleboro. 381 pages. $24.95 in paperback.

Reviewed by Chris Braithwaite

As its subtitle suggests, Barton poet Lee Kinsey’s new book is a double offering. It begins with a dozen new poems; then a rich selection of his finest work drawn from earlier books that stretch all the way from Northern Almanac (1991) through Family Drives (1993), Not One Man’s Work (1996), Sledding on Hospital Hill (2003), and The Immigrant’s Contract (2008), to Winter Ready (2014).

Galvanized is a double offering in another sense, as well. To readers who know anything of this area and its history it is a beautifully drafted, richly detailed, four-dimensional map through space and time.

But Mr. Kinsey also takes his readers to the wilds of Labrador, the relentless heat of Africa, the wheat fields and dinosaur-rich badlands of western Canada, and the bars of Havana long before Castro tamed them.

Except for the latter, from which Mr. Kinsey was barred by U.S. law, these are first-person accounts of the poet’s travels. He was toured through Tanzania by a cousin, Erwin Kinsey, who has made agricultural development there his life’s work. And in one of the new poems, “Shouldered,” it is good to see that, even removed from the Northeast Kingdom by a generation and the Atlantic Ocean, the Kinsey spirit survives.

Trying to be helpful, Erwin’s three pre-teen boys roll a large boulder out of a steep, sandy road. The huge rock doesn’t come quietly to rest on the shoulder, but rolls through a coffee plantation, a fence, a garden, a small dam, and two shops before coming to rest against their school.

The poet reports:

The day they told me of it

we walked and talked down every thrashed,

apologized for, paid for, proud inch.

Proud, indeed. Another story for the Kinsey family annals.

When he combined the stories he’d collected from an elderly friend into The Immigrant’s Contract, Mr. Kinsey felt obliged to visit Alberta. His friend had gone out west on a train to help bust the prairie sod, driving one of five ten-horse teams across a perfectly flat landscape.

Mr. Kinsey made the long drive in three days, sticking as close to the railway line as he could.

In the poem “Alberta Wheat Fields” his protagonist, who emigrated to the Kingdom from Quebec as a young man, notices something missing:

I waited for ledges and rocks but the disks

wheeled on, cutting for hour after stoneless hour.

 

In another of his new poems, “Fish Eggs,” Mr. Kinsey is in Labrador. He’s set aside the eggs he stripped from a catch as a gift for the expedition’s cook. But they don’t make it back to camp. The poem closes with a fine demonstration of Mr. Kinsey’s gift for rhythm:

Eggs, and no gull noticed,

gull, and no eggs to be seen,

no one’s rights involved,

just, quick as that,

life’s magic

act.

But it is the work that emerges from the poet’s precise map of the neighborhood that this reader finds most compelling.

It is intimate stuff, but in detail, Mr. Kinsey warns us in “Horseshoeing,” we must grant him some measure of poetic license:

But any path to or through

the past is an icy road,

whatever the pace,

distorted by speed.

Some of the incidents in his poems are completely accurate, Mr. Kinsey said Saturday in an interview. “Others I manipulated. I’m not trying to write my autobiography. I’m trying to write poems.”

In background detail, however, the poems ring perfectly true. From “Children Sledding on Hospital Hill” he evokes:

… an icy night

so cold the roads weren’t slippery.

 

And from “Upland Birds,” the grouse’s perfect imitation of machine:

All day I heard the muffled thumps

like the tumble and thuds 

of my grandfather starting

his old John Deere tractor

There are surprising similes that could only occur to a writer who grew up on a rock-cursed dairy farm in the Kingdom. From “Swing,” catching fastballs hurled by his father across the stubble of a hayfield:

the slap in our gloves like the sound 

of punching an ornery cow

Mr. Kinsey turns the surprise around in one of his new poems, “Army Worms.” As they eat their way across a crop of rowen, he writes, the worms sound like horses eating hay:

or like the rub of taffeta against my leg

at prom balls in my earlier life.

There is a great deal of loss in the work of Leland Kinsey. He writes, in “Last Crops,” of the family gathering to harvest the fruits and vegetables husbanded by his sister Helen, who has died of cancer.

And in “Picking Stone” the family comes to the aid of a cousin, Jeff Kinsey, who is too weakened by the cancer that is killing him to do the job himself.

Jeff is given the last word:

“Well, I know you must love me,

I never thought I’d see you pick stone again.”

                        Little enough burden.

 

The book is bracketed by poems about the poet’s father, Fred Kinsey. There’s bitterness in the final poem, an angry homage to an unstoppable force who lay dying in hospital:

You worked your life in the Northeast Kingdom

with power,

and no glory,

ever.

And there’s great joy in the new work that opens the book, “The Skinny.” A young Fred and his brother Bob are caught skinny dipping in the Barton River as a train pulls by carrying the King and Queen of England on a royal visit.

… they stood and waved

and thought or pretended the Queen responded,

at a window the sweep of a hand

a pleasant face

moving away at considerable speed.

There is in fact a map of Mr. Kinsey’s world. Shown to him recently by his mother, Louise Kinsey, it shows the road from the family farm to South Albany, past Hartwell Pond where a car is parked. In the pond, the tiny bobbing heads of the Kinseys, reaping their cool reward for a hot day spent in the hayfield. If a child spent too much time out of sight, a parent would call out and wait for the answering “Here I am.”

When he drew the map, at age six, Mr. Kinsey could not have known it would illustrate one of his poems, “Swimming Late.” In it, this master of brilliant closing lines that can cast deep shadows across what seemed a simple narrative, remembers such a night at Hartwell:

Tonight, after a long hot day

I’ve worked through, I say softly

“Here I am.”

to no one’s call,

to no one expecting an answer

 

After another long hot day, in “Double Digging the Garden,” Mr. Kinsey reflects that he grows more food than he and his wife can eat, more than they can give away:

I could join the farmer’s market

but don’t like meeting new people.

My legacy may consist of refuse.

But then comes my favorite conclusion of all the poems in Galvanized. He’s writing about his garden, but the lines serve as a metaphor for Mr. Kinsey’s real legacy:

Here is life’s habit on grand exhibit

and the hard work hidden.

Editor’s note: Leland Kinsey will read selections from Galvanized at Green Mountain Books in Lyndonville on March 25 at 3 p.m.; at the Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick on April 5 at 7 p.m.; and at an Osher talk and reading at Catamount Arts in St. Johnsbury on May 5 at 1:30 p.m. The book’s official publication date is April 8.

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Opinion: Well, maybe it can happen here

 

copyright the Chronicle March 23, 2016

by Chris Braithwaite

If you’ve been as gob smacked as I have by The Donald phenomenon, I have a recommendation: Find a copy of It Can’t Happen Here and give it a read.

It’s the most relevant commentary I’ve encountered on this crazy election year. Surprisingly, it is set in Vermont. More surprisingly, the novel will celebrate its eighty-first birthday in October.

Sinclair Lewis holed up in his second home in Barnard, Vermont, in May of 1935 and in four months wrote and revised his cautionary tale about the coming of fascism to America.

The book is set in 1936 when, in reality, the incumbent president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, would claim the Democratic nomination and go on to win his second of four terms. But that’s not how things work out in Lewis’ version.

In both worlds, the country is still deep in the great Depression and FDR’s controversial new policies have yet to make much of a dent. There are other political models to choose from, and a substantial number of Americans see some promise in Germany and Italy, where Hitler and Mussolini have replaced the uncertainties of democracy with something more robust.

Thus, in the novel’s opening scene, retired General Herbert Y. Edgeways tells his audience on Ladies’ Night at the Fort Beulah Rotary Club that “I don’t altogether admire everything Germany and Italy have done, but you’ve got to hand it to ’em, they’ve been honest enough and realistic enough to say to the other nations, ‘Just tend to your own business, will you? We’ve got strength and will, and for whomever has those divine qualities it’s not only a right, it’s a duty, to use ’em!’”

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the Chronicle changes hands

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A solid reminder of how we used to operate — an old manual typewriter — sits in a corner of the Chronicle office.  The hat belonged to Anna Baker, the artist responsible for the Chronicle cows, and on the wall behind it is a copy of the original flyer announcing the start of a new newspaper, the Chronicle.  Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

A solid reminder of how we used to operate — an old manual typewriter — sits in a corner of the Chronicle office. The hat belonged to Anna Baker, the artist responsible for the Chronicle cows, and on the wall behind it is a copy of the original flyer announcing the start of a new newspaper, the Chronicle. Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

copyright the Chronicle February 4, 2015

by Chris Braithwaite

To me the Chronicle will always be a novelty — a shot in the dark, a crazy gamble undertaken with almost no money but all the energy a 30-year-old immigrant could summon in himself, his wife, and a handful of friends.

But more than half the people living in Orleans County today had a Chronicle to read when they were old enough to read anything. And when my mind wanders up and down the streets of Barton Village, I can’t find a business that has been around, under continuous ownership, any longer than the Chronicle.

Those are hardly the trappings of a novelty. And at 70, I am a long way from the youngster who set out to see if small-town weekly journalism could be as complex, as challenging, as rewarding as the big-city journalism he’d left behind four years before.

After four decades I can report the result of that experiment. The stories I’ve encountered have been every bit as complex, and just as “good” — in the hard-eyed way that reporters evaluate their raw material — as the stories any reporter covers, anywhere.

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Election wrap: Barrett, Viens, Hardy win elections

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Important correction to the November 5, 2014, election results:

House - Orleans-Caledonia.xlsx

These are the full results to the Orleans-Caledonia House race, as it should have appeared in the Chronicle. A cropped version of the chart, with only Chris Braithwaite and Devin Small, was printed in the paper, in error.

Complete election results for each race available in the Chronicle.

copyright the Chronicle November 5, 2014

by Joseph Gresser

Jennifer Barrett was the big winner of Tuesday’s election, scoring a convincing victory to secure the office of Orleans County State’s Attorney. The Republican candidate garnered more votes than the combined totals of her two rivals.

When all votes were counted Ms. Barrett had 3,882, to 2,337 for Democrat James Lillicrap, and 1,486 for independent Ben Luna. The three candidates were all but unavoidable over the course of a long campaign that began this summer as Ms. Barrett faced incumbent State’s Attorney Alan Franklin in the Republican primary and defeated him.

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Employees to buy the Chronicle

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Drawing by Anna P. Baker

Drawing by Anna P. Baker

copyright the Chronicle September 17, 2014

Eleven long-time employees of the Chronicle have agreed in principle to buy the weekly newspaper from its founding publishers, Chris and Ellen Braithwaite.

 

While some details remain to be worked out, the basic elements of the deal have been agreed to, and the purchase should be complete by early 2015.

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Exhibit brings Gerald Bull back to light

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The Gerald Bull exhibit at the Sutton, Quebec, museum includes large photographs of the cannons at the international Space Research compound.  The gun in the top photo has a 172-foot-long barrel.  Photo by Chris Braithwaite

The Gerald Bull exhibit at the Sutton, Quebec, museum includes large photographs of the cannons at the international Space Research compound. The gun in the top photo has a 172-foot-long barrel. Photo by Chris Braithwaite

copyright the Chronicle June 4, 2014

by Chris Braithwaite

SUTTON, Quebec — People who end up on the wrong side of history tend to fade quickly from public view. Too quickly, perhaps, because history is not entirely written by its heroes.

Though he was once vital to its economy, Orleans County has no streets or schools or public parks that grateful community leaders have named for Gerald Bull.

And though it must stand as the most disturbingly fascinating place in the region, the headquarters of Mr. Bull’s Space Research Corporation are all but impossible to find. A narrow dirt road runs into the woods off a back road out of North Troy. There’s a For Sale sign outside the rusting gates, whose No Trespassing signs warn off the curious.

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Nelsons and GMP reach settlement

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Shirley and Don Nelson at their home in July of 2013.  Photo by Chris Braithwaite

Shirley and Don Nelson at their home in July of 2013. Photo by Chris Braithwaite

copyright the Chronicle April 16, 2014

by Bethany M. Dunbar

LOWELL — Don and Shirley Nelson have reached a settlement with Green Mountain Power that says the power company will pay them $1.3-million for their home and 540 acres of their farm.

The couple has up to two years to stay in their home and will keep 35 acres of the property on the Albany side of the town line.

The Nelsons said in a statement that they intend to “move from their farm to a location well away from the turbines.”

They said the place has been in the family for 72 years.

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Editorial: It’s the Chronicle’s fortieth birthday — thanks everyone!

A solid reminder of how we used to operate — an old manual typewriter — sits in a corner of the Chronicle office.  The hat belonged to Anna Baker, the artist responsible for the Chronicle cows, and on the wall behind it is a copy of the original flyer announcing the start of a new newspaper, the Chronicle.  Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

A solid reminder of how we used to operate — an old manual typewriter — sits in a corner of the Chronicle office. The hat belonged to Anna Baker, the artist responsible for the Chronicle cows, and on the wall behind it is a copy of the original flyer announcing the start of a new newspaper, the Chronicle. Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

copyright the Chronicle March 26, 2014

This week, March 28, is the Chronicle’s fortieth birthday.  Chris and Ellen Braithwaite produced that first edition on typewriters in an Albany farmhouse.  It had stories about Orleans Village winning a lawsuit, cuts to the Lake Region Union High School budget, an obituary, a review of a gardening book written by former West Glover resident Carey Scher — in other words, pretty much the same sort of things we’re still writing about all these years later.

That first paper was by no means fancy.  It was a mere eight pages, put out by relative newcomers to the area on antiquated equipment amidst small children, a mongrel dog, and, according to its first reporter, Colin Nickerson, monstrous spiders that the Braithwaites refused to kill on the grounds that they were natural insecticide.

But some people bought that very first Chronicle — and much to our surprise, some of them have continued to buy it every single week for the past 40 years.

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