Viens won’t seek re-election, Monette, Klar will run

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copyright the Chronicle April 13, 2016

by Tena Starr

The Orleans County political playing field shuffled around this week.

State Senator John Rodgers of Glover won’t run for lieutenant governor after all.  Representative Gary Viens of Newport won’t run for a state Senate seat, and his wife, Carol, won’t run for his House seat.  Instead, the Viens won’t run for anything.

Irasburg farmer John Klar and Newport Mayor Paul Monette will run for House, both as Republicans, setting up a Primary Election race between those two and.…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Rodgers considers a run for lieutenant governor

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copyright the Chronicle March 16, 2016

by Tena Starr

GLOVER – State Senator John Rodgers of Glover is considering a bid for lieutenant governor.  If he decides to run, Senator Rodgers will face fellow Democrats Kesha Ram, David Zuckerman, both of Chittenden County, and Brandon RIker of Marlboro in the August Primary Election.  Republican Randy Brock is also running.

Mr. Rodgers was a four-term incumbent when he lost his House seat in 2010 to Sam Young of West Glover by one vote.  He was elected to the state Senate in 2012 and 2014, representing the sprawling Essex-Orleans district with fellow Democrat Bobby Starr from North Troy.  Mr. Rodgers is up for re-election again this year.

He said Monday that he can run for lieutenant governor in the Primary Election without relinquishing his Senate seat.

A main reason for pondering a run is that “I don’t really care for any of the other candidates…To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Forestry bills go after the bad guys

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copyright the Chronicle February 24, 2016

by Tena Starr

MONTPELIER — Legislation aimed at pinching the bad guys in the forestry business, while protecting the good guys from nuisance suits and dust-ups with zoning laws, is winding its way through the Vermont House at the moment.

In its current form, it would affect not only loggers, but also landowners who use loggers, and the mills that buy from loggers.

Orleans County loggers are leery of the legislation, but Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation Michael Snyder views it as a tool aimed at protecting loggers’ right to do business.

H.584, which has an identical counterpart in the Senate, started out as one big bill, but has since been broken into pieces in the House so it can more easily pass through committees. And it’s rapidly changing as it proceeds.… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Governor’s race: County lawmakers lean toward Milne

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Scott Milne.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

Scott Milne. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle November 12, 2014

by Tena Starr

If Orleans County’s legislative delegation had its way, Scott Milne would be Vermont’s next governor.

That’s not a surprising decision for the Republicans who represent the county, but as of this week only one of the three Democrats was willing to unequivocally say that he’ll follow tradition and support the candidate who won the popular vote.

Representative Sam Young of Glover said he will vote for Governor Shumlin.

“I think it’s generally a bad precedent if the Legislature starts electing people who didn’t win,” Mr. Young said.

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Barrup protests $400,000 sales tax bill

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Rod Barrup stands in the yard of his company, Green Mountain Mulch.  He said his problems with the state Department of Taxes sometimes make him want to shut down his operation.  He doesn’t, he added, because of his workers, who stuck by him when he lost everything in a fire and got the business back in operation in short order.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

Rod Barrup stands in the yard of his company, Green Mountain Mulch. He said his problems with the state Department of Taxes sometimes make him want to shut down his operation. He doesn’t, he added, because of his workers, who stuck by him when he lost everything in a fire and got the business back in operation in short order. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle October 15, 2014

by Joseph Gresser

DERBY — Rod Barrup is not happy with the government of what he calls “the first communist state in the U.S.” In particular he is angry about a $400,000 bill from the Vermont Department of Taxes.

Mr. Barrup’s business, Green Mountain Mulch, has been operating for close to 40 years and ships five million bags of bark mulch and another 3,000 trailers full every year.

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At 91, Francis Whitcomb recalls varied career

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Judy Bevans, former chairman of the Vermont Democratic Party, looks on while Representative Sam Young of Glover reads a resolution honoring Francis Whitcomb of Albany.   Photo by Donald Houghton

Judy Bevans, former chairman of the Vermont Democratic Party, looks on while Representative Sam Young of Glover reads a resolution honoring Francis Whitcomb of Albany. Photo by Donald Houghton

copyright the Chronicle September 10, 2014

by David Dudley

ALBANY — At 91 years of age, Francis Whitcomb has held any number of titles, formal and otherwise: Lister, moderator, planning commissioner, justice of the peace, chairman of the Orleans County Democratic Committee, teacher, principal, farmer, sugarmaker, singer, advisor, father, and husband, among many others.

Mr. Whitcomb tried to add state Representative to that list, but the title eluded him through seven campaigns.

Sitting at the head of the kitchen table in his old farmhouse in Albany Monday, Mr. Whitcomb had the air of a preacher. He’s tall and was dressed simply, as though he were going to spend the day in the garden, in the sugarhouse, or engaged in one of his favorite pastimes, walking.

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Taxpayers angered by big tax jumps

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albany schoolhouse smaller

copyright the Chronicle September 10, 2014

by Tena Starr

WESTFIELD — Since property tax bills here went out recently, town officials have heard a lot of griping — and confusion. Why did the residential property tax rate go up 24 percent when the Jay-Westfield School budget went up by about 5 percent?

“We’ve had a lot of people not happy, and I’m in that category,” said Westfield Town Clerk LaDonna Dunn. “This year in Westfield we got hit pretty hard.”

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In Glover: Association wants to close part of Shadow Lake

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The Shadow Lake Association has petitioned the state, asking that a roughly one-acre section of Danforth Cove at the north end of Shadow Lake be temporarily closed to human use in order to control milfoil.  The area is already marked by orange buoys and is not supposed to be used for fishing, boating, or swimming.  Photo by Tena Starr

The Shadow Lake Association has petitioned the state, asking that a roughly one-acre section of Danforth Cove at the north end of Shadow Lake be temporarily closed to human use in order to control milfoil. The area is already marked by orange buoys and is not supposed to be used for fishing, boating, or swimming. Photo by Tena Starr

copyright the Chronicle September 3, 2014

by Tena Starr

GLOVER — Members of the Shadow Lake Association have petitioned the state, asking that a roughly one-acre section of the lake be closed to human use in order to control milfoil. It would be only the second time in Vermont that part of a lake has been closed to public use because of milfoil.

The last time the rule was exercised was in 1998 when part of Lake Morey was closed due to a milfoil infestation, said Matthew Probasco, aquatic nuisance control and pesticide general permit coordinator at the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

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GMO bill splits local legislators by party

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Wheat at Butterworks Farm in Westfield is grown organically, with no genetic modifications.  Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

Wheat at Butterworks Farm in Westfield is grown organically, with no genetic modifications. Photo by Bethany M. Dunbar

copyright the Chronicle May 21, 2014

by Bethany M. Dunbar

Orleans County farmers and consumers won’t be immediately affected by Vermont’s first-in-the-nation passage of legislation requiring labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients.

The legislation allows two years for the rulemaking process, and potential challenges are brewing in the courts and in Congress in the meantime.

“I’m really proud of Vermont as a state,” said Jack Lazor of Butterworks Farm in Westfield, a leader in the organic farming movement. He said he has always thought those who like genetically modified organisms (GMOs) ought to be happy to include them on their labels.

“Well, if it’s that safe, label it and be proud of it,” he said.

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In the Legislature: Local control in wind siting unlikely

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David Mealiea and Anna Dirkse, both of Burlington, were two of four singing pickets who stood outside the State House last Thursday in support of raising the minimum wage.  “We fight for human rights so all can be free,” they sang.  Photo by Paul Lefebvre

David Mealiea and Anna Dirkse, both of Burlington, were two of four singing pickets who stood outside the State House last Thursday in support of raising the minimum wage. “We fight for human rights so all can be free,” they sang. Photo by Paul Lefebvre

copyright the Chronicle March 26, 2014

by Paul Lefebvre

MONTPELIER — Regional and local planners are expected to be the big losers in a bill to open up the siting process for ridgeline industrial wind projects.

Scheduled to appear on the Senate floor, the bill was rerouted to the Senate Committee on Appropriations Tuesday as negotiations continued behind the scenes to strike a compromise and keep it alive.

“Unfortunately, regional planning is one of those things we’re probably not going to wind up with,” said Senator John Rodgers of Glover during a telephone interview Tuesday.

One of the stated purposes of the bill was “to strengthen the role of planning commissions and local selectboard and planning commissions in the siting review process for energy facilities by giving greater weight to their recommendations and plans.”

But at the end of the day, that’s not likely what’s going to happen.

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