Wandering elk are safely back home

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copyright the Chronicle June 28, 201

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

DERBY — The elk are back home, said Richard Nelson Tuesday evening.

The 16 elk that wandered off from the Nelson’s property in Derby last week finally wandered back, he said.

A gate was left open in their pen, Mr. Nelson said. Neither Mr. Nelson, his father, Doug Nelson, nor any of the farm hands had left it open, he added, but was unwilling to say more.

Mr. Nelson said he and his father were concerned about their herd, but not very worried.

The elk, which are one of the showpieces of Doug Nelson’s restaurant, the Derby Cow Palace, have gotten out before, when a fallen tree knocked a fence over, for instance.

Because they are herd animals the elk don’t like to be apart from their fellows. They also know where their food comes from, Mr. Nelson said.

This time was a bit different than other escapes. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife was involved and was concerned about the possibility that the animals might have, and spread, chronic wasting disease, a condition affecting members of the deer family. It resembles mad cow disease.

Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter said Monday there is no reason to think that any of Mr. Nelson’s herd is affected with the condition, which is not believed to affect humans.

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Study examines how maple trees fare tapping

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copyright the Chronicle June 14, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

The Proctor Maple Research Center in Underhill has launched a first-of-its kind study. It’s looking at the long-term effects of tapping a maple tree.

Like others, Derby sugarmaker Steve Wheeler said he was astonished that concrete information about how drilling holes into a tree and sucking its sap out year after year hasn’t previously been collected.

Mr. Wheeler, who is an organic sugarmaker, said he was among those who called for the study. Organic sugarmakers as well as those whose land is in the Current Use program, are required to follow best practices for sugaring. Among other things, they want scientific, rather than anecdotal, data to support those best practices, Mr. Wheeler said.

“I’m one of the guys who has said, hey, we really need this study. The whole thing about organic is it’s about the long-term sustainability of the sugarbush.”

Research assistant professor Abby van den Berg at the Proctor Center said the study will last ten years. The goal is to collect empirical data on what effect tapping and collecting sap has on the health and growth of maples.

The fact that no one has ever studied that rather big subject is, in part, because “we have been doing this for a hundred plus years over and over again, and the trees are still healthy and thriving,” said Ms. van den Berg about sugaring. “That, anecdotally, gives us the answer to that question. We know we are not detrimentally impacting trees when we’re following good practices.”

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Congressman swings through Northeast Kingdom

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copyright the Chronicle April 26, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — U.S. Representative Peter Welch brought his spring recess tour of the state to the Northeast Kingdom on April 20 with a visit to Derby and Newport.

The state’s only Congressional member asked local leaders what they need from the federal government, but the news he offered in exchange was not particularly good.

Mr. Welch said the budget President Donald Trump proposed completely eliminates two programs that have provided a great deal of benefit to the region in past years. They are the community development block grant program and the Northern Border Regional Commission.

Both have brought millions of dollars to Vermont for infrastructure, housing, and other community projects.

Mr. Welch said both programs are especially important in rural states, noting that a number of his Republican colleagues represent such areas. The Congressman said he thinks it possible that a bipartisan coalition will keep the proposed cuts from going into effect.

He held his first meeting of the day in Derby, where officials from Derby, Newport, and Derby Center came together to tell Mr. Welch the kind of work they will need to do over the next few years to maintain basic services.

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Amount budgeted for policing in Derby nearly doubled

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copyright the Chronicle January 18, 2017

 

 by Joseph Gresser

 

DERBY — The Derby Select Board voted at its meeting Monday night for a municipal budget that would nearly double the amount set aside for policing — from $47,000 to $90,000. However, select board members said they would prefer not to have to spend the full amount. Their discussion came after former state Representative Bob Lewis presented a report on how the new Walmart might affect the town’s law enforcement needs.

Mr. Lewis, who served both as a State Police trooper and game warden before his retirement, said he spoke with the security manager at Walmart, Newport City Police Chief Seth DiSanto, and Orleans County Sheriff Kirk Martin in preparing his presentation.

He pointedly omitted Lieutenant Walt Smith, the commander of the Derby State Police barracks, from his conversations with law enforcement, saying that the lieutenant made his attitude about responding to the town’s needs clear in statements to the select board last March.

“I think it’s just political,” Mr. Lewis said of Lieutenant Smith’s refusal to commit to responding to low level crime at the new big box store. He suggested that Tom Anderson, the newly appointed Commissioner of Public Safety, might reverse that policy if pressed by local representatives.

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Derby Pond Animal Hospital has new owner

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copyright the Chronicle January 18, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

DERBY — When it snowed recently, Dr. Kim O’Connor, the new owner of Derby Pond Animal Hospital, ran to the window in her office in excitement.

“Oh look, it’s snowing!” she exclaimed, watching the flakes come down.

“And the staff just looked at me,” she said in an interview on Monday. “They must have thought I was crazy.”

Dr. O’Connor was born and raised in Georgia. She moved to Vermont in June to take over the business founded and owned until recently by Dr. Steve Sanford.

She’s already bought ultrasound equipment for the practice.

“People were having to drive a long way to get that service,” she said.

And soon she hopes to have 24-hour emergency service and a large animal vet, both services that are in short supply in the Northeast Kingdom.

“It’s not going to happen overnight,” she said. “I’ve never owned a business before, so I’m taking it one step at a time. Baby steps.”

The veterinary practice where she worked in Savannah was big, with lots of people bringing pets for one-time emergency visits and few repeat customers.

In the smaller, more laid back Derby Pond practice, she’s enjoying the chance to form bonds with pets and their owners.

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Sugarmakers discuss climate change, bugs

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copyright the Chronicle January 11, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

DERBY — About 60 members of Vermont’s Orleans County Maple Producers gathered at Paul’s Sugarhouse and Dancehall here Monday evening to share a meal and gather information in the short time before they begin gathering sap.

Sugarmakers heard about the potential effects of climate change and the likely threat of forest tent caterpillars from Orleans County Forester Jared Nunnery.

They also got a peek at the logo and syrup can labels recently unveiled by the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association.

Mr. Nunnery began his talk by asking how many people have seen the chart that shows Vermont traveling down to Tennessee. Not many had.

“Good,” Mr. Nunnery said. “I hate it. Vermont is not going to become Tennessee.”

He said sugar maples are in Vermont not only because of the climate, but also largely because the soil suits their growth. The trees may be in danger, but warm weather is not the problem.

“Sugar maples can be killed by wind or by chainsaws,” Mr. Nunnery said. Otherwise they are not that likely to die because of a single factor.

There has been a recent outbreak of forest tent caterpillars that have defoliated large tracts in the state, he noted.

He asked for a show of hands of those whose sugarwoods have been affected by the caterpillars. Only a couple hands were raised.

Next year many more people will be answering yes to that question, Mr. Nunnery predicted.

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Walmart opens amidst policing concerns

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copyright the Chronicle November 16, 2016

 

 by Joseph Gresser

DERBY — The Derby Walmart Supercenter will open its doors for the first time early on November 16, but according to State Police Lieutenant Walt Smith, commander of the Derby barracks, issues of public safety remain to be addressed.

Lieutenant Smith, along with Captain Mike Henry, who heads the St. Johnsbury State Police outpost, visited the Derby Select Board back in March. He said his troopers would not be able to handle what he expects will be a large number of calls from the new store.

Lieutenant Smith explained that he’s responsible for ensuring the safety of 30 communities in the Northeast Kingdom, and his forces are stretched too thin to allow him to focus on minor offenses committed at Walmart.

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Derby Select Board Committee to study law enforcement

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copyright the Chronicle August 17, 2016

 

 by Joseph Gresser

DERBY — The Derby Select Board is far from convinced that the town needs more law enforcement, but members gave former State Representative, State Police trooper, and Game Warden Bob Lewis the go ahead when he offered to head up a fact-finding committee.

The issue of how the town ought to provide police protection has been discussed over the years, but it was brought to a head by State Police Lieutenant Walter Smith, who commands the Derby barracks, and Captain Mike Henry, who heads the St. Johnsbury outpost.

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Derby Select Board: Walmart will create need for more policing

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copyright the Chronicle March 30, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

DERBY — Representatives from the State Police and the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department told the select board here Monday that the soon-to-open Walmart will mean additional police calls.  

Both departments recommended that the town put more resources toward what it said would be a problem.  

Board members were unconvinced.

Lieutenant Walter Smith, who commands the Derby State Police barracks, and Captain Mike Henry, who heads the St. Johnsbury outpost, warned the select board at their meeting Monday evening that other towns that host Walmarts have seen increased reports of shoplifting and fender benders.

Troopers will not be responding to those calls, Lieutenant Smith said.

The Derby State Police contingent is made up of 11 troopers who are responsible for policing 31 towns in Orleans and Essex counties, Lieutenant Smith said.

“Some people call us the Derby State Police,” he said.  “We’re not the Derby State Police.  We’re the State Police.  We just happen to be based in Derby.”…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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New Village Pizza brings back old menu

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Ryan Lewis and Marcia Brown are the new Village Pizza owners. The restaurant is now called Lewis Village Pizza and brings back the old substation menu with a few additions.  Photos by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

Ryan Lewis and Marcia Brown are the new Village Pizza owners. The restaurant is now called Lewis Village Pizza and brings back the old substation menu with a few additions. Photos by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

copyright the Chronicle April 1, 2015

by Nathalie Gagnon-Joseph

DERBY — Companions Ryan Lewis and Marcia Brown bought Derby’s Village Pizza two months ago. After a month of renovations, the restaurant, now called Lewis Village Pizza, is open again.

“I always told people that one of these days this is what I was going to do,” Mr. Lewis said Tuesday.

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