Shooter in O’Hagan killing sentenced to 23 to 50 years

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Michael Norrie sits at the defense table during a recess at his sentencing hearing. Photos by Joseph Gresser

Michael Norrie sits at the defense table during a recess at his sentencing hearing. Photos by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle December 9, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

ST. JOHNSBURY — The man who admitted firing the shot that killed Mary Pat O’Hagan will spend at least 22 years in prison. Judge Robert Gerety, sitting in the Caledonia Criminal Division of Superior Court on December 3, accepted the plea agreement worked out between Michael Norrie, 25, of Sheffield, and the state.

His sentence calls for a 23-to-50-year term, all but 23 years of which will be suspended. Mr. Norrie will be credited with time already served, about one year, according to Caledonia County State’s Attorney Lisa Warren.

In July Mr. Norrie pled guilty to burglary, kidnapping, and first-degree murder in the slaying of Mrs. O’Hagan, a 78-year-old Sheffield resident. The sentencing agreement was put forward at that time, but Judge Robert Bent, who was serving in Caledonia County, asked for a pre-sentence investigation before approving the deal.

Judge Gerety, in signing off on the… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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An old song becomes a new classic

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WEB freeman book cmykcopyright the Chronicle November 25, 2015

The Devil In The Valley, by Castle Freeman. Published by Overlook Duckworth, New York City and London, 2015. Hardcover, 191 pages, $24.95.

Reviewed by Joseph Gresser

In jazz there are tunes known as standards. Those songs usually have harmonic structures that musicians find interesting. The point of the standards for the performer is not just to play them, but also to fashion them into a new, original composition.

In literature, the story of Doctor Faust is something of a standard. Since at least the time of Christopher Marlowe, writers have taken the tale of the man who sells his soul to the devil and remade it to suit their own purposes.

As the plot is usually set out a man offers up his immortal soul and, in exchange, gets his heart’s desire. In the original Faust story that’s a return to youth and the love of an innocent woman.

Of course the deal has a time limit, historically seven years, and a fiendish… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Stiffer regs proposed for farmers

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Clark Hinsdale, retiring president of the Vermont Farm Bureau, listens to Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross read a proclamation from Governor Peter Shumlin honoring the centennial of the organization.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

Clark Hinsdale, retiring president of the Vermont Farm Bureau, listens to Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross read a proclamation from Governor Peter Shumlin honoring the centennial of the organization. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle November 11, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

JAY — All but the tiniest Vermont farms will be expected to keep close tabs on runoff from fields. That was the stern message delivered by Laura DiPietro, deputy director of the Agriculture Resource Management Division for the state Agency of Agriculture to delegates at the 2015 annual meeting of the Vermont Farm Bureau.

Ms. DiPietro set forth the substance of what her boss, Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross, called “a draft draft” of regulations establishing required agricultural practices (RAP) for the state’s farms. While Ms. DiPietro encouraged farmers to raise questions and contribute their opinions before the draft of the regulations is finalized in January, it was clear from her remarks, and those of Mr. Ross, that the state intends to ask more from farmers in its attempt to control phosphorus pollution in Lake Champlain.

Mr. Ross, who owns a farm in Hinesburg… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Congressman Welch spends a day in the NEK

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Congressman Peter Welch is led along racks of Cabot Clothbound Cheddar by his guide, cheesemaker Mateo Kehler, right.  Ryan Nickle, Mr. Welch’s communication director, lags behind amid five miles of cheese-laden shelves.

Congressman Peter Welch is led along racks of Cabot Clothbound Cheddar by his guide, cheesemaker Mateo Kehler, right. Ryan Nickle, Mr. Welch’s communication director, lags behind amid five miles of cheese-laden shelves.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle October 21, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

GREENSBORO — The life of a congressman in Washington, D.C., may not be all beer and skittles, but U.S. Representative Peter Welch had an easy day Monday. While lawn bowling wasn’t on the agenda, beer and cheese certainly were.

Mr. Welch started out a day long visit to the Kingdom at Sterling College in Craftsbury Common, where he conferred with President Matthew Derr before taking a tour of the Rian Fried Center and meeting the college’s draft horses and its flock of turkeys.

While the two clearly enjoyed walking through the campus farm on a crisp October morning, there was some legislative purpose to the get together, as Mr. Welch later explained.

Sterling is a so-called work college,… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Jardiniere, essentially a garden in a jar

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A jar of jardinière is beautiful as well as tasty.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

A jar of jardinière is beautiful as well as tasty. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle September 30, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

As my esteemed colleague Richard Creaser noted in this space last week, garden abundance, although welcome, can impose a burden on the chef. While much of the produce mentioned by Richard has a long harvest period, the garden also can inundate its unwary keeper with sudden and overwhelming bounty.

Some brassicas have a brief interval between ripeness and becoming inedible. I recall one year when my broccoli plants went into overdrive, and I was buried under bushels of the stuff. There is no point trying to wait the plants out, you’ll just end up with bouquets of yellow flowers.

The next year I tried to compensate by cutting back on the number of plants I set… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Land trust helps farmers find farms

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Neal Perry, pictured here, and his wife, Rebekah, are the owners of a 134-acre farm in Brownington.  He sits on his porch as he discusses plans to sell the property to the Vermont Land Trust.  That organization, in turn, plans to sell the land to a new farmer at a price that will allow him or her to keep it in agriculture.  Photos by Joseph Gresser

Neal Perry, pictured here, and his wife, Rebekah, are the owners of a 134-acre farm in Brownington. He sits on his porch as he discusses plans to sell the property to the Vermont Land Trust. That organization, in turn, plans to sell the land to a new farmer at a price that will allow him or her to keep it in agriculture. Photos by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle September 23, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

BROWNINGTON — Neal Perry has lived all of his 48 years on the 134-acre farm that was in his family 43 years before he was born. But sometime soon another farmer will be cultivating the land.

Mr. Perry isn’t being pushed off his property; rather he is following a calling and moving to Island Pond to be closer to the Green Mountain Bible Church where he has been pastor for two years.

Sitting on the porch of his house on Thursday, September 17, and looking across the long vista to Willoughby Gap, Mr. Perry spoke about the person who will succeed him as steward of the farm.

“I want someone to love it like I loved it,” he said.

Mr. Perry doesn’t know who that… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Suspended Worlds — an excavation of long ago community life

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Suspended Worlds — an excavation of long ago community life, a book by Christine Hadsel.

Suspended Worlds — an excavation of long ago community life, a book by Christine Hadsel.

copyright the Chronicle September 16, 2015

Suspended Worlds: Historic Theater Scenery in Northern New England, by Christine Hadsel.  Published by David R. Godine, Boston, 2015; 188 pages, hardbound, $40.00.

reviewed by Joseph Gresser

With Suspended Worlds Christine Hadsel has created a coffee table book that belongs in the library of every Vermonter.  As a record of the work of Curtains Without Borders, the organization, it gives a clear account of an imaginative partnership that has, so far, saved 185 theater curtains from neglect.

Both her project and the book serve a deeper purpose in excavating a part of New England community life that has been largely forgotten as times and styles changed over 100 years.

In so doing Ms. Hadsel and her many collaborators have revealed an important part of the region’s artistic heritage that in… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Sheffield Field Day is animated by competition

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Edmond Lehous, left, stands and watches as his horseshoe heads for the stake.  To his right Gilbert Goodrich watches his hopes for a winning game go down the drain.  It wasn’t a new experience for Mr. Goodrich, who said his horseshoe team finished second this year to the one on which Mr. Lehous plays.  Photo by Joseph Gresser.

Edmond Lehous, left, stands and watches as his horseshoe heads for the stake. To his right Gilbert Goodrich watches his hopes for a winning game go down the drain. It wasn’t a new experience for Mr. Goodrich, who said his horseshoe team finished second this year to the one on which Mr. Lehous plays. Photo by Joseph Gresser.

copyright the Chronicle September 9, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

SHEFFIELD — On the surface the Sheffield Field Day is a carefree celebration of Labor Day and a summer’s harvest. Scratch the cheerful surface and you find that a fierce competitive spirit animates the entire event.

Judges scan the parade and award prizes to the best floats. Across the road vegetables are examined, and the finest festooned with ribbons, and on the midway youngsters and their parents test their skill in games of chance that pit sharp darts against tender balloons.

Most years, although sadly not this year, teams of horses contest to see which can pull the heaviest loads. And every year players of every age keep a sharp eye on multiple cards as the bingo caller cries out his numbers.

It seems that only the chicken barbecue…  To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Larcher explains life on a small scale dairy in France

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Cheese expert Ivan Larcher inaugurates Sterling College’s new Common House with a lecture on small-scale environmentally conscious dairy farming on August 20.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

Cheese expert Ivan Larcher inaugurates Sterling College’s new Common House with a lecture on small-scale environmentally conscious dairy farming on August 20. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle September 2, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

CRAFTSBURY COMMON — A master cheesemaker whose work takes him to every continent but Antarctica finds true happiness on a small farm in central France. It’s not hard to imagine that as the elevator pitch for a Hollywood movie, but for Ivan Larcher it’s just life.

Mr. Larcher told his stories and laid out some of the economic realities of life on his small farm in a short talk sponsored by Sterling College in its new Common House — formerly ArtHouse — on Thursday, August 20.

After graduating from an elite French college for dairy professionals, Mr. Larcher was hired by a global company and sent to Japan to advise its sales staff as it sold starter cultures to cheesemakers. His territory — northeastern Asia — included Korea and China, as well as Japan.

Within a year, Mr. Larcher said, he realized the job was not for him.

“I was recommending the best starters for…  To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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David Budbill’s opera returns to the Kingdom

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After a neighbor criticizes her behavior, Grace (Mary Bonhag) vents her anger at her prying neighbors. Photo by Joseph Gresser.

After a neighbor criticizes her behavior, Grace (Mary Bonhag) vents her anger at her prying neighbors. Photo by Joseph Gresser.

copyright the Chronicle September 2, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

MONTPELIER — Many people think of opera as an art that’s far removed from their daily concerns. That may or may not be the case with the traditional repertory, but the people who inhabit A Fleeting Animal, the collaboration between poet David Budbill (formerly of Wolcott) and Brookfield composer Erik Nielsen, will be recognizable to anyone in the Northeast Kingdom.

The opera had its premiere and a Vermont tour 15 years ago. Those who missed it then have another chance when the show returns for a six-town tour between September 11 and September 20. It will hit the Kingdom on Sunday, September 13, for a 4 p.m. performance at the Hardwick Town House.

On Monday evening the cast and production crew were hard at work putting the…  To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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