Girls with Guns inspires a new generation of athletes


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.

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)


Susan Dunklee takes silver at biathlon world championships


copyright the Chronicle March 1, 2017


by Elizabeth Trail


BARTON — When Stan Dunklee and Judi Robitaille-Dunklee of Barton went to Austria two weeks ago to watch their daughter Susan compete in the biathlon world championships, they didn’t know they’d see her make history.

But on the last day of the competition Susan Dunklee did just that, winning a silver medal and becoming the first American woman ever to stand on the podium at that level of competition in biathlon.

“Biathlon is huge in Europe,” her father said. “It’s the most watched winter sport. But it’s relatively new in the United States.”

And breaking into the winner’s circle has been hard. The 31-year-old Ms. Dunklee was the first American woman to medal at the world championships. And no American woman has yet earned an individual medal in biathlon at the Olympics.

“We try to go to this one every year,” Mr. Dunklee said of the International Biathlon Union World Championships, held this time around in Hochfilzen, Austria.   “It’s the densest cluster of events.”

The IBU World Cup, in comparison, took place over nine weekends in nine countries, starting in Sweden in November, he said.

The Dunklees also watched their daughter race in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where she placed seventh and eighth in two of the biathlon events.

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)


State spells out plan for use of Great Hosmer


copyright the Chronicle January 25, 2017


 by Joseph Gresser


CRAFTSBURY COMMON — At a community meeting here Saturday, the state proposed a framework for deciding what kinds of activities will be allowed on Great Hosmer Pond. More than 110 people gathered in the Craftsbury Academy gym to hear the idea put forward by a study committee, but it was unclear how many were optimistic about the outline.

For some time there has been friction between people who want to enjoy water skiing or other activities involving speedy power boats and those who like kayaking, canoeing, or sculling. Many of the scullers are connected with the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, which runs a sculling program that uses the pond for its classroom and practice area.

According to Rebecca Ellis, senior counsel for government affairs for the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), a six-member task force met three times and came up with what was called a straw proposal.  It provides a framework for changes to state regulations governing the pond, Ms. Ellis said.

The two parts of the proposal said:

  1. Racing shells and rowing sculls are allowed at all times except not between… and ….
  2. Waterskiing and any towing of persons by a motorized vessel is allowed between… and …, or when other boats are not on the water.

The blanks will be filled in with set times and a new regulation put in place by late summer, according to Ms. Ellis.

To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

Print subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper)


Craftsbury library plant, yard, book, and bake sale


The annual Craftsbury Public Library plant, yard, book, and bake sale will be on Saturday, May 21, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The sale will be held in the basement of the church on the Common and also in the library. With good weather, some of the sale will be outside on the lawn, too.

Over the years, the plant sale has grown into a large event, with a fine assortment of plants. There is an excellent selection of perennial plants that are reliably hard in this area, donated by neighbors. There are also usually some great shrubs and small trees such as lilacs, forsythia, and hydrangea. There will be an array of tomato plants from the High Mowing Organic Seeds greenhouse, plus other vegetable, annual, and herb starts. Linda Wells and Susan O’Connell will be on hand to offer advice on the best plants for any setting.

The book sale will feature lots of great books at great prices, including new fiction, mysteries, cookbooks, how-to, and children’s books. There will be a wide assortment of yard sale treasures including some furniture, and there will be a baked goods table with treats of all sorts.

Please contact the library at 586-9683 for any questions. — from the Craftsbury Public Library.

For more things to do, see our events page.


Merrick dies from injuries related to crash


Addison Merrick (left) and his longtime friend Seymour Leven were captured together in a video made last year.  Photo by Catherine Dunbar

Addison Merrick (left) and his longtime friend Seymour Leven were captured together in a video made last year. Photo by Catherine Dunbar

copyright the Chronicle July 29, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

Addison Merrick of Craftsbury died at the University of Vermont Medical Center on Tuesday, July 21, from the effects of a traffic accident a few days earlier.

According to a press release from State Trooper Steven Fauteux, Mr. Merrick was headed north on Route 14 in Craftsbury around 5:15 p.m. He attempted a left turn onto the Wild Branch Road, but turned into oncoming traffic.

Mr. Merrick’s 2000 Subaru Legacy collided head on with a Honda truck driven by Scott Smith, 57, of Hardwick. His car was totaled, while Mr. Smith’s truck sustained front-end damage.

No injuries to Mr. Smith were reported by Trooper Fauteux, but Mr. Merrick was transported to Copley Hospital in Morrisville, and then to Burlington.

Mr. Merrick was 91 years old, and a well-respected member of the Craftsbury community where he often taught classes on…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

Print subscription

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription

(To find a particular article, search for the corresponding edition of the newspaper.)


Alan Greenleaf and the Doctor July 18

Alan Greenleaf (right) and the Doctor, Jonathan Kaplan (left), will play at the Music Box in Craftsbury on July 18.  Photo courtesy of the Music Box

Alan Greenleaf (right) and the Doctor, Jonathan Kaplan (left), will play at the Music Box in Craftsbury on July 18. Photo courtesy of the Music Box

A bit of farm life and life in the Northeast Kingdom in song will be heard at the Music Box in Craftsbury on Saturday, July 18 at 8 p.m., with Alan Greenleaf and the Doctor.

Mr. Greenleaf lives on the farm he has worked for a good part of his life in northern Vermont. His songs are inspired by his life on his farm and the people and countryside around him. They are a report of events, people, feelings, and observations of his life experiences, with a great deal of poetic license. Living in Vermont, the weather and seasons play a significant part in his stories. Musically, he draws on many American traditions, including country, Appalachian, blues and jazz. His newest CD, Songs from Lost Mountain, is now available.

Mr. Greenleaf is joined by “the Doctor,” piano player Jonathan Kaplan. The two have been playing together for over a dozen years. Mr. Kaplan is a classically trained pianist who fell in love with the blues and old-time traditional music. Together they bring a wide variety of original ballads, rhythm and blues with moving melodies. Listen to some of their tunes at

For more information, call 586-7533 or — from the Music Box.

For more things to do, see Things to Do in the Northeast Kingdom.


More agriculture, more jobs



Sweet Rowen Farmstead owner Paul Lisai poses in front of his creamery with his 16-year-old dog, Bailey.

Sweet Rowen Farmstead owner Paul Lisai poses in front of his creamery with his 16-year-old dog, Bailey.  Photos by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

copyright the Chronicle May 6, 2015

by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

The six-year-old Farm to Plate initiative appears to be doing its job and has noticeably helped bolster Vermont’s farm and food economy, according to a report released earlier this year.

Among other things, the report, conducted by the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, says that, statewide, there were 748 food manufacturing firms in the state in 2014, a 37 percent increase over 2009. And between 2009 and 2013 4,189 new jobs were created in the food system. In all, about 60,000 Vermonters are employed as farmers, waiters, cheesemakers, brewers, bakers, butchers, grocery stockers, restaurateurs, manufacturers, marketers, distributors and other food related jobs, the report says.

Farm to Plate was part of the Vermont Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Continue reading


Lussiers leave the Craftsbury Vibrations after 40 years


Bernie and Linda Lussier of the Craftsbury Vibrations in front of their music library. They will perform in Hyde Park on April 11 at 1:30 p.m. for the last time — probably.  Photo by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

Bernie and Linda Lussier of the Craftsbury Vibrations in front of their music library. They will perform in Hyde Park on April 12 at 1:30 p.m. for the last time — probably. Photo by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

copyright the Chronicle April 8, 2015 

by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

CRAFTSBURY — Bernie Lussier and his wife, Linda, have been playing and singing together as members of the Craftsbury Vibrations for over 40 years, but after their gig on Sunday, April 12, at 1:30 p.m. in Hyde Park, they will call a halt to their professional careers. The name of the band will depart with them.

In a recent interview, Mr. Lussier explained that a single show could take eight hours with four hours spent setting up and packing, and another four hours standing up singing and playing.

Continue reading


How to bring Town Meeting back to life


WEB town meeting bookcopyright the Chronicle March 11, 2015

All Those In Favor, Rediscovering the Secrets of Town Meeting and Community, by Susan Clark and Frank Bryan. Paperback. 87 pages. Published by Ravenmark, Montpelier, Vermont.

Reviewed by Tena Starr

Frank Bryan is likely Vermont’s staunchest champion of Town Meeting. He studied it for 30 years, and in this book, a tenth-anniversary update of the 2005 original, he and co-author Susan Clark add analysis of another 12 years.

Their research indicates that Town Meeting is in some trouble — no surprise — but they’re by no means announcing its demise. Instead, they suggest a number of ways to shoot a bit of adrenalin into Vermont’s system of direct democracy.

Primarily, they are opposed to moving toward Australian ballot, which they argue, is, indeed, a death sentence for Town Meetings. And they provide evidence that fiddling with the time, or the day, does not necessarily increase attendance. In many cases, moving from a Tuesday daytime meeting to a weekend or evening meeting has decreased participation because, as the authors point out, while many people don’t want to lose a workday to attend Town Meeting, even more don’t want to give up leisure time.

The primary reasons for decreased attendance are the size of a town and the issues on the Warning, the authors say. The bigger a town gets, the smaller the percentage of attendance. And if a Town Meeting Warning has little of consequence on it — few issues that affect or captivate voters — they’re more likely to stay away.

“While it is doubtful that there was ever a golden era of Town Meeting when nearly everyone turned out every year, attendance was much higher in the early days than today,” the book says. “Even well into the twentieth century it was much higher than it is now. Given the difficulties of life (from hugely longer workdays and work weeks, to much poorer transportation systems, to remarkably greater potential for sickness and poor health generally) one is struck by how complete Town Meeting democracy was in the past.

“Those who believe that people are much busier today than they were in the past (and that includes most commentators on modern life) have an incomplete understanding of history. What we really mean when we say we are busier today is that we have different priorities.

“Consider the little town of Craftsbury in the Northeast Kingdom as it was in 1840. So difficult was transportation over and through its rocky hillsides, it took 12 separate school districts to educate the children. The majority of the people farmed. They kept 333 horses, 1,718 cattle, 3,166 sheep, and 658 swine. They produced 47,906 pounds of potatoes and 14,398 bushels of oats along with 5,705 bushels of other crops, 3,171 tons of hay and 35,412 pounds of sugar. Meanwhile, they ran two gristmills, a hulling mill, two carding machine operations, ten sawmills, two fulling mills, three carriage makers, and one oil mill.

“Fewer than 1,200 women, men, and children accomplished all this. If you’ve ever worked on a small farm, or in the woods, you know that these people not only worked hard, they worked smart. Their lives were fully as complex and demanding, perhaps even more complex and demanding as ours today.

“If they can do it, we can do it, too.”

The Northeast Kingdom isn’t much plagued by the biggest hindrance to Town Meeting attendance — population. Only Newport and St. Johnsbury are big enough to reach the tipping point where attendance, or lack of, can be attributed to size, according to the authors’ formula.

But Town Meeting is affected everywhere by loss of local control. Issues, and whether voters have control over them or not, are at the heart of attendance in small towns, the authors assert. And Vermonters have had increasingly little say in much of what matters to them most.

For instance, under the current school funding system, cutting a local school budget does not necessarily translate into a tax decrease.

“The most reliable predictor of Town Meeting attendance, besides population size, is what’s on the Warning,” the book says. “Examples abound, but let’s visit one meeting in the Northeast Kingdom town of Holland after a particularly bad winter had deteriorated the town’s roads. Imagine this meeting’s discussion about whether to switch from an appointed road commissioner to an elected one. Combine this discussion with the fact that a challenger was running against a key select board member on this issue. The result: The attendance normally predicted for a town this size was exceeded by 100 percent.”

This book goes so far as to say that an item should be included on the Warning each year specifically to grab people’s attention. It suggests something like an item saying alcohol be banned within town limits. While that’s a bit of a stretch, the point is made.

Town Meetings are important not just because they give people a chance to practice hands-on governance, but also because of the community they provide, the authors say. And in neither case does moving toward Australian ballot help, they argue.

“In a well intentioned effort to include more people in decision making, an increasing number of Vermont towns are destroying their town meetings in the process.

“The Australian ballot is quick, easy, private, unaccountable, and most important, simple. It is also deadly.

“In a way, the Australian ballot is worse than deadly because it doesn’t kill Town Meeting quickly. And the execution is dishonest. We are told it will save Town Meeting, while the reality is that it poisons it and lets it die slowly….

“It leaves a town with neither a legislature nor a Town Meeting. In doing so it compromises the actions of the select board or school board, which must anticipate how the community will react to an issue and then submit this best guess to a winner-take-all decision.”

Also, the authors say, flexibility is forfeited because the ability to make amendments is lost. School boards may watch an entire budget go down because a compromise on one issue isn’t possible. Projects that could have been saved with a bit of tinkering are rejected because tinkering wasn’t an option.

“Using the Australian ballot instead of a Town Meeting is like creating an ice sculpture by taking one great swing at a block of ice with a sledgehammer instead of carefully applying a chisel with care over time,” the book says.

And informational meetings don’t fill the void because Vermonters don’t just want to talk about things, they want to do something about them, the authors say.

“The golden key to participation is to give citizens real power and real decisions to make,” the book says.

“Unlike the polling booth, Town Meetings can be exciting, interesting, and fun. They bring politics to life. Here laughter is often heard. Here we meet neighbors we haven’t seen for ages. Here we learn that Bill Stone over on the North Road is having trouble in mud season, too. Here we discover that the town library is offering a new program for our kids. Here, most of all, we get to see ourselves in the full light of real democracy.”

To improve Town Meeting, the authors suggest the following:

Highlight the issues. Select boards should creatively publicize certain items so people are aware of what’s happening. Develop a relationship with the local newspaper editor, they say, and ask for help getting the word out about major issues.

Arrange for childcare. “Happily one of the most important methods proven to increase Town Meeting attendance is also relatively simple: provide childcare during the meeting. Statistics show that this can improve attendance measurably, especially among women.” Generally, a local organization such as the Girl Scouts or the parent teacher association provides the childcare and benefits from any donations parents might like to offer.

If possible, skip microphones since they increase people’s anxiety about speaking in public.

Eat. The best-attended Town Meetings include food.

Build the agenda carefully. If a meeting drags on, people will leave, particularly after a meal, so if the most important items are voted on at the end of the meeting, fewer people will vote.

Include elements of celebration.

Susan Clark is a community facilitator and Frank Bryan is a University of Vermont political science professor emeritus.

The book is available at local bookstores or from for $9.95 plus $2.50 for shipping. To inquire about municipal or nonprofit pricing, or bulk orders, contact the Vermont Institute for Government at (802) 223-5824, or [email protected].

contact Tena Starr at [email protected]

For more free articles from the Chronicle like this one, see our Reviews pages.  For all the Chronicle’s stories, subscribe:

Print subscription

Annual online subscription

Short-term online subscription