Glover residents unhappy about sewer blowout

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copyright the Chronicle August 16, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

DATELINE — Several Glover residents attended the August 10 select board meeting here to talk about an attempt last week to blow out the village sewer lines that went wrong.

In Doug Safford’s house, one of the three most seriously affected in the incident, raw sewage rose up out of the toilets even as he stood on the street talking to Selectman Jack Sumberg.

“We heard the gurgling in the lines, and I saw the tanker truck out on the street,” Mr. Safford said. “I went out to see what was happening.”

Mr. Safford said he got short shrift from the equipment operator from Hartigan Wastewater Services of Middlesex.

“He just ignored me and kept doing what he was doing,” Mr. Safford said. “Jack apologized but no one stopped to see what was going on. And when I got back to the house, Cheri was screaming and stuff was bubbling out of the toilet.”

The Glover Select Board hired Hartigan to clear out an obstruction in the sewer line.

Hartigan offers what it calls “vactor” service, a specially equipped truck able to blow out rocks, gravel, and other obstructions lodged inside underground sewer lines.

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Sewage explodes from Glover toilets

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copyright the Chronicle August 9, 2017

by Elizabeth Trail

 

GLOVER — Kate Butler came home from a hard day of work on Monday and was mystified to find her bathroom walls, towels, and counters soaked with water.

“It was really smelly,” she said. “Wet everywhere.”

It tuned out that an attempt to clear out a clogged sewer line in Glover Village early in the afternoon had backfired, leaving several residents with water — or worse — in their bath and laundry rooms.

In Theresa Perron’s house, raw sewage spewed out of the toilet, coating towels, walls, toothbrushes, and the shower curtain, Ms. Perron’s niece Hannah Cole said.

“Projectile poop,” Ms. Cole called it.

The brown wave surged into Ms. Perron’s brand new washing machine. It shot up out of the pipe that the drain goes into, coating both washer and dryer.

“We literally had poop stains on the ceiling,” Ms. Cole said.

“We were cleaning out the lines with pressure,” Glover Selectman Jack Sumberg said. “As an unforeseen consequence, it blew back into some people’s houses.”

Ms. Cole and Ms. Perron had quite a cleaning job.

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Diaz ordered not to destroy any records

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copyright the Chronicle August 9, 2017

by Elizabeth Trail

 

NEWPORT — Former Coventry Town Clerk and Treasurer Cynthia Diaz has been ordered not to destroy any more town records or documents and to hand over any still in her possession.

“Defendant has admitted under oath to having destroyed at least some electronic documents,” Orleans Superior Court Judge Robert Bent said in a written order issued on August 3. “To be clear, defendant may not destroy any document or file.”

He ordered Ms. Diaz to turn over all written and electronic town records in her possession by August 20 in preparation for another hearing on August 25.

In court on August 1 for a hearing in the town’s civil suit against her, Ms. Diaz admitted to throwing away a thumb drive containing town financial records after she left office.

“Generally in litigation, we don’t destroy documents,” Judge Bent told Ms. Diaz at the time. “It leads to questions … it shifts the question to the person who destroyed it.”

Ms. Diaz’ management of the documents in her keeping has been a recurring theme ever since forensic accountant Jeff Graham’s audit last year shone the spotlight on irregularities in Coventry’s financial records.

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Dairy Air Wind takes down its Holland MET tower

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copyright the Chronicle August 9, 2017

by Elizabeth Trail

 

HOLLAND — Dairy Air Wind has taken down a controversial wind measurement (MET) tower in Holland.

The tower stood in a cornfield on land owned by Linda Champney and leased to Brian Champney of Dairy Air Farm. Renewable energy developer David Blittersdorf is backing the project.

The Public Utilities Commission opened an investigation on July 24 into whether the developer put up the tower in the wrong place — and whether the tower should have been put up at all while a series of motions for reconsideration were on the table.

MET towers are put up to measure wind before going ahead with the installation of a commercial wind development. In December, Dairy Air Wind applied for a Certificate of Public Good (CPG) for a single 2.2-megawatt power-generating turbine.

According to site documents, the CPG application for the power-generating turbine is a separate docket, independent of the fate of the MET tower’s CPG.

Dairy Air Wind was given until August 3 to answer the commission’s questions about the location of the MET tower and exactly when it was put up. But instead, on that day, it took the tower down.

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Diaz says she threw thumb drive away

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copyright the Chronicle August 2, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

NEWPORT — Former Coventry Town Clerk and Treasurer Cynthia Diaz said in court on Tuesday that she has destroyed at least one thumb drive, possibly the one the select board and auditor Jeff Graham have been looking for.

Ms. Diaz was in Orleans Superior Court for yet another hearing in the civil suit that the town filed against her last December. The suit asked, among other things, for the return of town records in Ms. Diaz’ possession.

“I was no longer in office, I didn’t need it any more,” Ms. Diaz told Judge Robert Bent when he asked about the fate of the removable computer storage that she is alleged to have used to carry work back and forth from the Coventry town office to her home computer.

“I threw it away,” Ms. Diaz said. “It was mine, and I was no longer employed by the town.”

“Generally in litigation, we don’t destroy documents,” Judge Bent told her. “It leads to questions … it shifts the question to the person who destroyed it.”

Initially, it didn’t sound like Ms. Diaz was talking about the same drive that the select board has been hunting for the past year or more.

Ms. Diaz said that all she had on the drive was an Excel spreadsheet and the template she used to create receipts, adding that she overwrote the information as she recorded new transactions that came through the office.

“It wasn’t a running spreadsheet,” she said.

Judge Bent interrupted her to put her under oath.

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A new kind of prescription — local veggies

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copyright the Chronicle August 2, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

NEWPORT — Sometimes food is the best medicine.

And North Country Hospital has found a way to provide healthy food to at least a few of the people who need it most here in the Kingdom.

Last Thursday, the hospital launched a program called Health Care Share, that will put a weekly bag of locally grown fruits and vegetables into the kitchens of people suffering from chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, said Community Relations Director Wendy Franklin.

Doctors “prescribe” the fresh produce for their patients who meet health and eligibility guidelines, she said.

The program, which is by pre-registration only, is already filled for the year.

All told, it will serve about 80 families.

The majority of the people signed up for the Health Care Shares program pick up their bags at the hospital in Newport. But a small group will be served at the Barton clinic.

When participants come to pick up their vegetables, they get a chance to taste samples of the week’s featured foods. Last week, that meant sticks of raw vegetables and a cilantro-lime dressing to dip them in.

Everyone got a newsletter with recipes and cooking tips, and a manual full of nutrition information and ideas for healthy eating.

“Some of these foods are new to people,” Ms. Franklin said.

 

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Barton Olympians share past, present, and future

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copyright the Chronicle July 26, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

BARTON — “I hate the cold,” Barton native and Olympic biathlete Susan Dunklee said.

The thing she likes least about skiing is not the hours of training, or the five months of the year she spends on the road far away from friends and family.

It’s being cold — especially when she flops down on her belly in the snow clad only in thin spandex to sight her gun before each race, Ms. Dunklee said.

“In cross-country, we could wear mittens,” she said. “In biathlon, I have to wear gloves so I can shoot.”

It’s a cold sport, agreed fellow Oympian Ida Sargent, a cross-country skier.

“Skiing in spandex is cold, even with mittens,” she said.

Ms. Dunklee and Ms. Sargent were speaking to about 30 people who came to the Crystal Lake Historical Association museum on Sunday to meet Barton’s three Olympic skiers.

Alongside them was Ms. Dunklee’s father, Stan Dunklee, who competed in the Olympics as a cross-country skier in 1976 and 1980.

Mr. Dunklee grew up in Brattleboro. Despite the fact that his older brother Everett competed in the 1972 winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan, Mr. Dunklee never tried cross-country, or Nordic, skiing until he was in high school.

“I immediately fell in love with the sport,” he said. …To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe to the online edition below:

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Lake Region considers hiring police officer

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copyright the Chronicle July 26, 2017

by Elizabeth Trail

 

A proposal to bring a deputy from the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department into the school as a resource officer met with questions at the Lake Region Union High School’s board meeting on July 20.

The board invites the public to attend its next meeting in August in hopes of getting feedback from parents.

North Country Union High School has had a resource officer for several years, first a Newport City police officer, and then a sheriff’s deputy.

The move was controversial at first, Lake Region Principal Andre Messier said. But when it looked as though North Country might lose its resource officer Mr. Messier said, the community actively came out in support of the program.

“We’ve touched base with a number of schools,” Lake Region vice-principal Sharon Gonyaw said. “They all started out with the same reservations.”

Deputy Kyle Ingalls, the current resource officer at North Country, came to the Lake Region meeting to talk about how the program works.

A 2006 graduate of Lake Region, Deputy Ingalls said he provides onsite law enforcement services along with counseling and mentoring students as needed.

He also teaches drug awareness and driver safety classes on campus.

“We have counseling support already,” Mr. Messier said.

But he went on to add that there are social pressures affecting students these days — things happening in the school and in the parking lot that go beyond what traditional counselors can deal with.

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Coventry gets its checks back

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copyright the Chronicle July 26, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

NEWPORT — In a ten-minute hearing on Monday, Orleans Superior Court Judge Robert Bent ordered a local bank to return about $5,100 in town money that former Coventry Town Clerk and Treasurer Cynthia Diaz deposited in an account she opened on June 14.

“We have our money back,” Coventry Select Board Chair Mike Marcotte said by phone on Tuesday.

Community National Bank, which is also where the town of Coventry keeps its money, froze the funds as soon as they were deposited and notified the select board.

But bank officials couldn’t return the money to the town without a court order.

On July 7, attorney Paul Gillies, who is representing the town in its ongoing civil suit against Ms. Diaz, filed a motion with the Orleans Superior Court’s Civil Division.

In the motion, Mr. Gillies says that Ms. Diaz opened an account called the “Cynthia Diaz tax escrow account” on June 14. She deposited three checks.

The checks were written by former town attorney Bill Davies from the town’s tax escrow account, which he maintained until earlier this year.

They were payable to “Cynthia Diaz, Treasurer.”

“Ms. Diaz’ actions were unauthorized, as she was no longer holding town office at the time she deposited the checks,” the town’s motion says. “Her creation of a new fund was in violation of the statute that requires agreement with the select board for any investments.”

The motion goes on to explain that Ms. Diaz’ positions as town clerk and treasurer were vacated under state statute on June 9, after she was unable to raise the bond required of all public officials.

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Weyerhaeuser settles Current Use issue for $375,000

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copyright the Chronicle July 19, 2017

by Elizabeth Trail

 

The Weyerhaeuser corporation has agreed to pay the state of Vermont $375,000 to settle a longstanding argument over whether the company should lose tax breaks on 56,000 acres in the Northeast Kingdom because of a forest management violation seven years ago.

In 2010, the company that then owned the land, Plum Creek Maine Timberlands, allegedly violated its forest management plan when a contract logger cut too many trees on a 140-acre stand in Lemington.

The land is part of the former Champion lands in Essex County.

State and county foresters said they also found other environmental violations on the site, such as failure to install silt dams to prevent runoff into a stream.

Plum Creek immediately halted cutting on the stand and fixed the environmental problems.

But in 2011, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation recommended that Plum Creek lose its right to pay taxes at the Current Use rate — not just for the 140-acre parcel, or even for the 9,000 acres the company owned in Lemington, but for all of the 56,000 contiguous acres that Plum Creek owned in the Kingdom.

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