Veterans tell students their stories

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copyright the Chronicle November 15, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — Newport City Elementary School fifth and sixth grades got a glimpse of life in the military when they welcomed a dozen veterans to their classrooms Thursday morning, November 9.

The men, who among them saw service from World War II through the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, shared stories of their experiences just in time for Veterans Day.

Representing all branches of the military except the Navy and Coast Guard — perhaps fitting given the distance between Newport and the sea — the veterans introduced themselves with a brief sketch of their history in the service before opening the floor to questions.

The questions ranged widely from the serious to the funny.

“Were you ever wounded?” a student asked one group of veterans. Fortunately the answer was no.

The students had other questions about the more difficult aspects of life in war. What happened when someone got wounded? one asked.

Butch Provencher, a National Guardsman with a specialty as a medic, said the objective was always to get the hurt person to a base camp hospital as quickly as possible.

On a lighter note, one sixth-grader wanted to know how the food was. The seven vets who were in the classroom looked at each other and laughed before replying.

“Green eggs and ham,” one replied.

The real answer, said Richard Deuso a Vietnam veteran, is C-rations, tinned food soldiers carried with them when away from their base.

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State explains plans for Lake Memphremagog

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copyright the Chronicle November 15, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — While the federal and state governments have been making a great deal of fuss over Lake Champlain in recent years, Lake Memphremagog has received far less attention.

At a Tuesday meeting at the East Side Restaurant on the lake’s shore, Watershed Coordinator Ben Copans shared Vermont’s plans to cut the amount of phosphorus in Memphremagog.

Mr. Copans, who works for the Department of Environmental Conservation, told a group of around 40 people that the lake is suffering some of the harmful effects of excess phosphorus, including occasional algae blooms caused by more nutrients in the water.

Ideally, the lake would have no more than 14 parts per billion of phosphorus. At present it averages 17 parts per billion, Mr. Copans said.

During the 1980s the lake’s phosphorus levels soared to as many as 30 parts per billion, according to a chart Mr. Copans showed his listeners.

“Things improved after the city improved its water treatment facility,” he said.

The chart showed levels dropping to 14 parts per billion for a few years after the renovated sewage plant was put into operation, but they have risen since then to their current level.

Most of the lake is in Canada, but the vast majority of its watershed is in Vermont, Mr. Copans said. While Vermont and Canadian officials are working together to limit the amount of phosphorus getting into the lake, the northern portion of the lake is in compliance with the 14 parts per billion limit.

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Farmers see price for organic milk plunge

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copyright the Chronicle November 8, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

The price paid to Vermont organic milk producers dropped by $6 per hundredweight over the past year, according to a report provided to the Vermont Milk Commission by the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance.

The Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools (CROPP), the dairy cooperative that markets Organic Valley products, has told its Vermont members it will pay $28.80 per hundred pounds of milk this December. At the same time last year the price was $34.80.

According to the producers alliance, the average price paid by CROPP during 2016 was $35.68 per hundredweight. This year it is estimated the average price will fall to $30.59.

By spring the price paid farmers will drop another $2, CROPP has told its farmers.

For conventional farmers, who spend around $20 per hundred pounds to make their milk and are seeing milk prices a little over $17 a hundredweight, even the lower price might seem like a dream come true.

But the producers alliance says New England organic dairies’ break-even price is around $35 a hundredweight.

Members of the organic cooperative have quotas based on a farmer’s purchase of preferred stock in CROPP. Should a farmer produce more milk than it allows, the co-op will pay $20 less per hundredweight for the overage.

Perhaps the hardest hit farmers are those transitioning from conventional to organic production. They have been told they will not have a buyer when they produce organic milk.

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LCAR approves wind noise rule

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copyright the Chronicle November 1, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

MONTPELIER — A regulation that sets limits on how much noise a wind turbine can produce was approved by the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules on Thursday, October 26, by a 5-2 vote.

The committee room in the State House wasn’t as packed as it was for earlier meetings about the rule, but about 20 people dressed in hazard vests indicating their opposition to industrial wind development on ridgelines, attended.

Committee members heard only from witnesses representing the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), which until recently was called the Public Service Board.

The Legislature passed Act 174 in 2016. The law told the PUC to set sound standards for wind turbines.

The rule the PUC wrote in response to the legislative mandate sets a noise limit of 42 decibels during the day and 39 decibels at night.

Representatives from the PUC explained the standard was based on a World Health Organization finding that more people’s sleep and health is disturbed by noises louder than 30 decibels.

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Caledonian accuses former Newport Daily publisher of racketeering

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copyright the Chronicle October 25, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

The Caledonian-Record has gone to federal court to accuse the former publisher of the Newport Daily Express and the company that owns the newspaper of racketeering.

In a suit filed on October 20 in U.S. District Court in Burlington, the Caledonian-Record says it was damaged when Ken Wells lied about his newspaper’s circulation to advertisers and downloaded nearly 700 photographs from Associated Press (AP) using the St. Johnsbury-based paper’s password and account without its knowledge or permission. Most or all of the photos were published in the Daily Express, the suit claims.

Although the Express had an AP account, it did not have a subscription for photographs, the suit alleges.

Mr. Wells served as publisher of the Daily Express from 2006 until November 2016. Between 1987 and 2002 he worked as the paper’s sales manager.

He was dismissed as publisher in early November of 2016. No one from the paper has ever explained the reasons for his departure.

Tuesday evening, Mr. Wells, who is vacationing on the West Coast, said the lawsuit came as a total surprise. “I didn’t see that coming,” he said.

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North Country Hospital mandates flu vaccines for employees

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copyright the Chronicle October 18, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — Many people think influenza is just an unpleasant fact of life, but according to Dr. Maria Fatigati it kills around 30,000 Americans each year. That, she said Monday, is around the same number of people who die annually from breast cancer and in traffic accidents.

Unlike breast cancer and accidents, there is a way to halve one’s chances of getting the flu, Dr. Fatigati said. That’s by getting vaccinated.

North Country Hospital is responsible for people who are already weakened by illness, so it has decided to protect its patients by making sure all employees at the hospital have been immunized against the disease.

In a recent interview, hospital CEO Claudio Fort said he made the decision to make inoculation against flu a condition of employment at North Country after seeing the experience of other hospitals that have taken the step and consulting with his medical staff.

Mr. Fort said Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and Northeastern Regional Hospital in St. Johnsbury have both successfully implemented the plan.

“People don’t like to be mandated to do something,” Mr. Fort admitted. He said the hospital allows exceptions for those with deeply held spiritual or religious beliefs and for workers who are severely allergic to components in the vaccine or have other medical reasons to avoid the inoculation.

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Vermont fights for a voice in the farm bill

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copyright the Chronicle October 11, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

Federal farm legislation is due to be passed next year, and Vermont wants to have its voice heard in the writing of a bill that could mean life or death for the state’s dairy industry.

The Vermont Milk Commission has been revived after six years of inaction to give voice to the state’s farmers and processors. The nine-member group met in Montpelier on September 26 to collect information in order to make recommendations to the state’s congressional delegation for items that should be included in the 2018 farm bill.

According to Secretary Anson Tebbetts of the state Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets, the commission, was raised from the dead for that purpose.

“Vermont needs to have a strong voice,” Mr. Tebbetts said about the meeting. He said the plan is to gather as much input from the state’s farmers as possible in order to offer the best advice to federal legislators.

The Chronicle was not present at the meeting, but spoke with Secretary Tebbetts and reviewed a tape of the gathering and draft minutes.

Members of the state’s agricultural community are especially concerned about the dairy provisions of the bill, in view of the unusually long stretch of low milk prices.

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Officer killed in 1917 is remembered

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copyright the Chronicle September 27, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — On September 26, 1917, Newport’s first uniformed police officer, Joseph P. Manogue, was called to the Newport House to help immigration officers deal with a recalcitrant suspect.

Patrolman Manogue went to the hotel, which was on the site occupied today by People’s United Bank.

Things went badly wrong.

There was gunplay, and in its aftermath Patrolman Manogue lay dying and another officer was hit by two bullets.

Patrolman Manogue was the first and, thankfully, the only Newport officer to die in the line of duty.

Exactly 100 years later, Newport City’s present Police Chief Seth DiSanto welcomed two of Patrolman Manogue’s great-grandchildren to Newport at a ceremony that commemorated their forebear’s sacrifice.

Governor Phil Scott and representatives of the U.S. Border Patrol, Vermont State Police, and Orleans County Sheriff’s Department also paid tribute to the fallen officer.

The proceedings got off to a solemn start as the Border Patrol honor squad brought the American flag and that of their agency to the stage as a piper played “The Minstrel Boy.”

Two North Country Union High School students, Luke Treadwell and Briar LaRose, then performed an a cappella version of the “Star Spangled Banner.”

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North Country celebrates its fiftieth year

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copyright the Chronicle September 27, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — North Country Union High School, which opened its doors in the fall of 1967, used the occasion of its annual homecoming weekend to mark its fiftieth anniversary in style.

Dean of Students Bob Davis (Class of 1974) assumed the role of pit master and barbecued a pig to the exacting standards expected in North Carolina where he attended Duke University.

Not far from the line for pulled pork sandwiches, North Country Band Director Bill Prue (Class of 1989) was gathering his forces. Several alumni musicians, including trombonist Ray Bowen Jr. (class of 1987) brought their instruments and rejoined their high school band.

Mr. Prue said he intended to honor the school and its earliest graduates by playing a hit song from 1967, “Windy” by the Association. He admitted it wasn’t the number one hit of the year — that distinction went to “To Sir With Love,” by the British singer Lulu.

“It was a little too slow,” Mr. Prue said.

Roger Wells, Sara Williams, and Beatrice Sevigny Deslandes (all Class of 1968) sat on the bumper of Mr. Davis’ barbecue wagon and reminisced.

While the school’s doors opened in 1967, the first senior class did not receive its diplomas until June 1968.

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Chief says Newport Police Department gravely understaffed

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copyright the Chronicle September 20, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — At its meeting Monday, the city council heard about the difficulties officers face in the city’s understaffed police department. They also voted for November balloting on a $3-million bond for a new water tower, and re-examined downtown renewal efforts.

Newport City Police Chief Seth DiSanto presented council members with a summary of his department’s activities over the past year comparing them with the year before.

Traffic stops accounted for the highest percentage of calls, about 28 percent. But Chief DiSanto said that doesn’t reflect the amount of actual time spent on a call. Larceny calls can take days to investigate, while traffic stops are done in a matter of minutes, he said.

The chief’s main business, though, was a discussion of staffing in his department, which is presently short two officers.

Although he has two recruits undergoing training as part-time officers, the chief said they will not be able to complete training as full-time officers any sooner than June. Even then, the new officers will need at least 400 more hours of on-the-job training before they can wear the Newport badge and uniform, Chief DiSanto said.

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