Sanders rallies for Democratic candidates

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copyright the Chronicle November 2, 2016 

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — Senator Bernie Sanders has seen bigger crowds than the one that greeted him Friday afternoon at the Gateway Center here. But it’s doubtful that any gave him a more enthusiastic reception.

Musicians Tod Pronto, and Jonathan Edwards warmed up the 140 or so people who filled the room. Mr. Edwards performed “Sunshine,” his hit from the early 1970s, and the sixties’ standard “Come On People (Smile on Your Brother)” among other familiar songs. Probably no more than a third of those gathered for the rally were alive when they were first sung.

Unusual for such a rally, the crowd lacked any other Democratic office holders. Most Orleans County candidates have pledged their support to Republican Phil Scott’s gubernatorial campaign rather than that of Sue Minter, their party’s standard bearer.

The former presidential candidate seemed relaxed as he entered the room to an ovation. He was accompanied by the trio of candidates he was in Newport to support.

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Congressman Welch visits Orleans County

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copyright the Chronicle November 2, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

BARTON — Peter Welch spent half of Monday in Orleans County. He dropped by the Chronicle for a morning conversation before heading up to Newport for a meeting with city officials and legislators.

The state’s lone Congressman is running for a sixth term in the U.S. House of Representatives on both the Democratic and Republican lines, although he is a longtime Democrat.

In response to questions about the state of Congress, Mr. Welch said he’s worried about the Republicans.

“There’s an existential split in the Republican Party between the shutdown wing, and what I call the governing wing of the party,” he said.

The governing wing, he explained, “are conservatives who understand, at the end of the day, we have to pass budgets, and you can’t have a legislative body without compromises on legislation.”

Newport.

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Orleans-2 candidates agree on much

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copyright the Chronicle October 26, 2016 

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — It would have been difficult to tell what party the four candidates seeking to represent Orleans-2 belong to just by listening to them at Monday night’s candidate forum. The only clue was how Ron Holland, Judith Jackson, Mike Marcotte, and Gary Viens said they would register their disapproval of Donald Trump in presidential balloting.

The four candidates are vying for the two seats in the Vermont House district that represents Newport City, Newport Center, Coventry, Irasburg, and part of Troy,

Dr. Holland and Ms. Jackson, the Democratic candidates, said they would unenthusiastically vote for Hillary Clinton. Ms. Jackson said she would hold her nose while doing it. Dr. Holland said he picked Ms. Clinton as the one least likely to start a disastrous war.

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Burros was a pioneer in “political” food writing

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copyright the Chronicle October 26, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

Marian Burros began her career as a food writer because she and a friend needed to give affordable engagement gifts. She ended up changing the field because she recognized a simple truth — food is political.

Between 1981 and her retirement in 2014, Ms. Burros reported for the New York Times, covering all aspects of food including recipes, entertaining at the White House, and federal policy on food safety. She has spent summers in Barton and Craftsbury since 1991, the year her husband died.

In the course of her career, she helped redefine what it meant to be a food writer and was a pioneer in making editors see that issues that once were relegated to the “women’s page” were important enough to command front-page space.

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Lawyers for Stenger tell state to bring it on

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copyright the Chronicle October 19, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — Lawyers for Bill Stenger have told the state to bring it on. In a September 7 filing in the Civil Division of Washington County Superior Court, they denied all the fraud charges related to EB-5 visa funded projects sponsored by Jay Peak and have demanded a jury trial.

Mr. Stenger recently settled similar charges levied against him by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In the settlement, Mr. Stenger did not admit or deny the charges against him, but he agreed to accept whatever penalties U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles may decide to assess.

Mr. Stenger also promised that he would not say anything that contradicted the SEC charges.

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Orleans-Caledonia House candidates debate education, guns, taxes

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copyright the Chronicle October 12, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

BARTON — A conversation Monday evening between three candidates for the state House of Representatives from the Orleans-Caledonia district produced a civil, serious discussion of issues facing the state.

Incumbents Vicki Strong, a Republican from Albany, and Sam Young, a Glover Democrat, were joined Monday night by Republican challenger Frank Huard of Craftsbury at a forum sponsored by the Chronicle, Building Bright Futures, NEK-TV, and the Orleans County Record.

Democrat Matt Eldridge of Glover did not attend the forum, which attracted more than 20 people to the Barton Memorial Building.

After the three candidates introduced themselves, Tod Pronto, who moderated the forum, posed questions to the group. Each was given two minutes to answer.

Mr. Pronto started by asking the candidates to name the three most pressing issues facing the district.

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State could end dispatch service

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copyright the Chronicle October 12, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

After a summer of discussions among emergency service providers and state officials, the Public Service Department plans to ask the Legislature to allow it to stop dispatching except for state agencies.

In an interview on October 6, State Police Captain Thomas Hango, commander of emergency communications, said the study committee is made up of police, fire, and ambulance service representatives as well as state agencies and emergency responder union delegates.

The group has been talking about possible changes to the dispatch service system, he said.

At present, Captain Hango said, some communities pay the state for dispatching services, some have their own dispatchers, and some get services from the state at no charge.

Communities in the Northeast Kingdom are among those that have received dispatching from the state without paying for them.

Many people think that’s not fair, and something needs to be done to correct the situation, he said.

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Potential Jay Peak buyer accused of fraud

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copyright the Chronicle September 21, 2016 

by Joseph Gresser

JAY PEAK — When Michael Goldberg got a letter offering to buy Jay Peak for $93-million some aspects of it set off alarms. His suspicions proved to be justified when a quick search showed that the man who made the offer has been accused of a $3-million stock swindle.

Mr. Goldberg explained his concerns about the offer from Jean Joseph of Bellwether Business Group and his follow-up correspondence in a report filed September 16 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami.

Mr. Goldberg said the original offer was unusually vague, and didn’t fully specify what the purchaser wanted to get for his money. In addition, the due diligence list, setting out the kind of information about Jay Peak the potential purchaser hoped to get before finalizing the deal, included a number of items that were not applicable to a ski area.

The timeframe for completing the sale proposed by Mr. Joseph also appeared impossibly short, Mr. Goldberg said.

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Newport Mayor goes to work for Walmart

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copyright the Chronicle September 7, 2016

 by Joseph Gresser

NEWPORT — Mayor Paul Monette has been unemployed since June, except for some part-time bookkeeping work. He was the head of information technology at Newport City Elementary School, but the school board decided to cut its budget by eliminating the position and contracting with the North Country Supervisory Union for computer services.

On Tuesday the mayor said he sent out a lot of resumés but got no responses. Then a friend suggested he apply for a job at Walmart.

Mr. Monette said he went online and filled out an application and was called for an interview the next day. He was hired on the spot to head the wireless department at the new Derby Walmart.

Wireless is what the retailer calls cell phones, the mayor explained. His job will be to sell them.

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Stenger settles, no longer works at Jay

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copyright the Chronicle September 7, 2016

by Joseph Gresser

Bill Stenger, the former president of Jay Peak Resort, is no longer a defendant in the civil lawsuit filed by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against him and the owner of the resort, Ariel Quiros. Mr. Stenger is also no longer employed by Jay Peak.

After several months of negotiations, Mr. Stenger reached an agreement with SEC lawyers under which he will be liable to whatever penalties U.S. District Judge Darrin Gayles might impose for securities fraud. Although Mr. Stenger neither admitted nor denied the charges filed against him, he will allow himself to be treated as if he were guilty of the charges for purposes of punishment.

As part of the settlement, Mr. Stenger is permanently barred from participating in any way in selling securities connected to the EB-5 visa program or having any control over a business that does.

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