Overdose awareness walk is a step toward sober living space

Featured

copyright the Chronicle June 28, 201

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — Tara Patten called Charles Buckland Jr. “my best friend” as she talked about his overdose death. She was speaking to a crowd of around 80 people gathered around the gazebo in Gardner Park here Saturday.

In front of the stage, a cluster of 104 small purple flags indicated how many people died last year from overdoses.

Mr. Buckland died from a fentanyl overdose in December 2014. Ms. Patten said he was a loving, caring, and funny man, who had a problem that took his life.

The crowd gathered to hear her speak was there because of a result of a pledge Ms. Patten made after Mr. Buckland’s death. She pledged to do something for those struggling with opiates in the Northeast Kingdom, specifically to create a sober living center in the area, complete with the services someone in recovery might need.

Ms. Patten’s first step was organizing NEK Stand Strong. The nonprofit is just getting its legs under it and waiting to get tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service.

Saturday’s Overdose Awareness and Memorial Walk was the first step in achieving her organization’s main aim, Ms. Patten said.

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)

Share

Wandering elk are safely back home

Featured

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.

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)

Share

Newport reappraisal could lead to drop in tax rate

Featured

copyright the Chronicle June 21, 201

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — The preliminary results of the citywide reappraisal are in and, while some property owners are unhappy with the jump in their assessment, Newport’s government is breathing a sigh of relief.

At present, the total value of the proposed Grand List stands at around $399-million, according to Newport City Manager Laura Dolgin. That is well above the $315-million valuation that was predicted last January.

That figure is far from the final word. Taxpayers have the right to grieve their assessment, and it will take a couple of months to resolve most challenges.

But if the result is close to the early figures, it could mean a substantial drop in the municipal tax rate.

The Grand List figure used for budgeting in 2015 and 2016 was $258-million. When members of the city council began work on the current budget, they believed the Grand List would rise to $330-million.

During their deliberations City Assessor Stewart Potter told the council that the actual figure would be closer to $315-million.

Newport’s budget was already expected to rise about $360,000 from the 2016 level of $4.81-million to $5.18-million.

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)

Share

EB-5 investor sues state

Featured

copyright the Chronicle June 21, 201

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

An investor in the first of Jay Peak’s EB-5 projects is suing the state Agency of Commerce and Community Development, the Department of Financial Regulation, the Vermont Regional Center (VRC), and a number of those agencies’ employees.

The lawsuit, filed in the Civil Division of Lamoille County Superior Court, claims the two branches of state government and the named individuals effectively acted as Ariel Quiros’ and Bill Stenger’s partners, helping them to perpetrate fraud.

Mr. Quiros is the subject of a civil suit filed by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that charges he mishandled around $200-million of the approximately $350-million he raised to pay for hotels and other facilities at Jay Peak and Burke Mountain Resorts, as well as a biomedical facility in Newport.

The suit claims that Mr. Quiros also took about $50-million of the investors’ money for his own use.

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)

Share

Governor Scott visits Albany

Featured

copyright the Chronicle June 14, 201

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

ALBANY — Governor Phil Scott breezed into Albany Monday to sign a pair of bills that he said will help revitalize aspects of the state’s rural economy. One, a bill to increase the number of chickens a farmer may raise, kill, and sell from 1,000 birds to 5,000, was proposed and seen through to passage by South Albany’s own Billy Pearce.

The other, which aids forestry workers in a number of ways, was welcomed by Colleen Goodridge, who hosted the signing ceremony. Ms. Goodridge, the matriarch of Goodridge Lumber, a family business that specializes in white cedar, is also vice-president of the Vermont Forest Products Association.

Governor Scott was welcomed by a crowd of around 70 people that included legislators from around the Northeast Kingdom and state officials, including Secretary Julie Moore of the Agency of Natural Resources.

H.495, the new forestry law, includes a provision exempting logging equipment and the fuel used to run it from state sales taxes. The state will also loan or help loggers purchase pre-made skidder bridges to help them meet clean water requirements.

Governor Scott said the state hopes to have 25 of the bridges available for loan or lease this summer.

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)

Share

Newport hopes to improve its image

Featured

copyright the Chronicle June 7, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — In a marathon meeting Monday night, the city council considered ways of improving Newport’s image, the future of its downtown program, a new music series on the waterfront, and a possible extension of the city’s recreation path to the Canadian border.

Newport has been looking for a new web master in the months since Mayor Paul Monette told the council that he will no longer be the volunteer custodian of the site. City Manager Laura Dolgin suggested making up for his loss by hiring a firm that will do public relations for Newport in addition to managing its web presence.

Ms. Dolgin argued for hiring John Gilfoil Public Relations, a Massachusetts company. City officials have been fielding an increasing number of complaints from city residents, and it would be a good idea to have someone putting out positive stories about Newport, she said.

Mr. Gilfoil, a former Boston Globe reporter who served as deputy press secretary for former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, spoke to the council by speaker phone. He said his company would build a new website for Newport and train employees to post information to it for $10,000 if the city also hires the firm at a cost of just under $1,000 a month to handle the city’s press relations.

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)

Share

Murder charge reduced to second-degree

Featured

copyright the Chronicle May 31, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — Orleans County State’s Attorney Jennifer Barrett lowered the charge against the man accused of shooting Ron-Lou Schneider in 2015 from first-degree to second-degree murder Tuesday afternoon.

Ms. Barrett also added a charge of manslaughter against Ryan P. Bacon, 32, of Point Pleasant, New Jersey, during a hearing held in the Criminal Division of Orleans County Superior Court.

Both charges are based on the same set of facts, so Mr. Bacon can only be convicted of one of the charges, Ms. Barrett said after the court hearing.

Judge Howard VanBenthuysen presided over the hearing.

Ms. Barrett said she and Jon Valsangiacomo, Mr. Bacon’s lawyer, will discuss the possibility of a plea agreement and will return to court in two weeks for another status conference.

If the two sides cannot agree on a deal to settle the case, Ms. Barrett said, she will go to trial on one of the charges.

Witnesses to the shooting gave conflicting statements to police, Ms. Barrett said. As a result, it is doubtful that the state could prove the most serious charge, she said.

Under Vermont law, first-degree murder is one “committed by means of poison, or by lying in wait, or by willful, deliberate and premeditated killing, or committed in perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate arson, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery or burglary.”

Any other homicide is considered second-degree murder. Manslaughter refers to killing someone when under sudden passion or great provocation that would mitigate, but not justify, the killing.

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)

Share

World dishwashing record shattered in Hardwick

Featured

copyright the Chronicle May 31, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

HARDWICK — For a while it looked like Bethany Dunbar’s biggest problem would be finding enough dirty dishes. The Center for an Agricultural Economy, where she works, had plenty of clean dishes. It has been collecting them to hold its own zero waste events and has created a 400-dish library to loan to other organizations wanting to do away with paper plates.

A warm sunny day, a rarity this spring, brought huge crowds to Hardwick’s Spring Festival Saturday and it seemed there would be plenty of dishwashers for the assault on the record.

Time passed. People finished their meals and deposited plates and bowls in the bins Ms. Dunbar had set out to collect used plates. Then they set off to do whatever needed to be done in the garden or around the house.

By 2:30 p.m., the time set for people to line up, there was only a fraction of the crowd that had been milling about Atkins Field only an hour before.

Ms. Dunbar and her fellows from the Center for an Agricultural Economy had reason to be nervous.

The plan was to break the Guinness Book of World Records mark for the most people simultaneously washing dishes. Ms. Dunbar said the Center and the Kiwanis Club, which sponsor Hardwick’s spring festival, hoped the attempt would inspire more people to attend.

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)

Share

State unveils plan to clean up Memphremagog

Featured

copyright the Chronicle May 24, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — Lake Memphremagog has a phosphorus problem and the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has a plan to fix it. Actually, the plan is still in draft form, and Watershed Coordinator Ben Copans is touring the Kingdom looking for comments on the DEC’s proposal.

His first meeting on a three-stop tour of the Memphremagog watershed was in Newport where, in a meeting room overlooking the lake Monday, he outlined some of the measures called for by the plan. Mr. Copans will take his presentation to Brighton on May 30, and Craftsbury on May 31.

The federal Clean Water Act requires states to set a total maximum daily load, Mr. Copans said. That’s the limit on how much phosphorus can flow into a lake from its watershed while it still meets water quality standards.

Mr. Copans said the U.S. end of Lake Memphremagog has phosphorus levels that are 20 percent higher than the 14 parts per billion standard set for the lake. Currently the levels in Vermont’s portion of the lake average around 17.6 parts per billion, but rise and fall during the year.

The Canadian portion of the lake is about three-quarters of Memphremagog’s surface area, although much more than half the lake’s watershed is in Vermont.

Officials from the two nations meet in the Quebec Vermont Steering Committee on Lake Memphremagog and are working together to reduce the nutrient load coming from both the state and the province, Mr. Copans said.

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)

Share

Mock crash makes powerful point

Featured

copyright the Chronicle May 24, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

When the Lake Region Union High School student body poured into the bright sunshine on the morning of May 17, they saw a horrific sight. Two wrecked cars stood in the drop-off area, one with a young woman lying on the hood in a pool of blood.

As gruesome as the scene was, it was not a surprise. The entire school had just watched a student-created video depicting the events leading to the tragic scene laid out before them.

A young man, texting as he drove his blue car down the road, was seen just before he plowed head-on into a red car filled with happy teens.   The screen went black as the cars collided, although the audience could hear the Sheriff’s Department dispatcher taking a report of the smash-up.

The student actors were in place as their classmates gathered around. Student videographers were positioned in the area, as they shot footage for another cautionary film.

Members of the Orleans Fire Department, Orleans Ambulance, and the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department were also in position, and at the signal from Sheriff’s Department Captain Phil Brooks, they went into action.

Captain Brooks narrated as the firefighters checked the two cars, evaluated the potential for immediate danger, and looked to see what kind of assistance they could render.

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)

Share