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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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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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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Broken family wants case resolved

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copyright the Chronicle September 13, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

When Katrina McCullough of Newport called police last December and accused her husband of bending her fingers back, she had no idea what the consequences of her actions would turn out to be.

Today she finds herself in danger of losing her house and faces severe economic challenges despite having a good job. Ryan McCullough, her husband, lives in a homeless shelter for veterans in Norwich, and the couple’s children see their father only rarely.

Because Orleans County Superior Court has a heavy backlog of cases awaiting trial, the McCulloughs will not see a resolution until January at the earliest.

Ms. McCullough says she was in the clutches of severe mental distress when she dialed the phone in December. Knowing what she does now, she strongly regrets making that call.

Mr. McCullough is facing misdemeanor and felony charges of domestic abuse and, despite filing a speedy trial motion in June, is not scheduled for trial until January.

He had been scheduled for trial in August, but the court schedule was changed and he must now wait an additional five months for resolution.

As a result, Ms. McCullough said in a recent interview, her husband is in the shelter while she and her two daughters are facing the prospect of losing the family house for lack of money to pay the mortgage. Mr. McCullough, a veteran who has struggled with PTSD, cannot stay in the shelter past January and will be homeless in winter if the situation is not resolved by then, his wife said.

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Remembering those who died at their own hand

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copyright the Chronicle September 13, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — Matt Chaput said he doesn’t keep track of how long it’s been since his brother Shawn took his own life.

“Four or five years,” was his estimate.

His imprecision is not because he doesn’t care. His brother is never far from his thoughts, and remains close to him physically as well.

Mr. Chaput rolled up his sleeve Saturday morning and showed the startlingly life-like portrait of his brother he had tattooed onto his left forearm.

He was among the more than 200 people who walked through Newport Saturday to commemorate those who died by their own hand, and to do what they can to spare others the sorrow they feel at the loss of loved ones.

Many wore shirts showing who inspired them to participate in Newport’s sixth annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk. Mr. Chaput and many of his friends and family members sported bright blue shirts that read “Team Shawn.” Others wore yellow T-shirts indicating they were part of Team Donnelly, and another team had orange shirts printed with a drawing of a halo and a pair of angels’ wings with the words “in loving memory of Don Cota.”

The walk is sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It raises money to pay for programs intended to educate the public about the toll suicide takes on the community, and to help people experiencing dark and dangerous episodes come out alive on the other side.

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Judge says impaired murder suspect understood rights

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copyright the Chronicle August 30, 2017

 

by Paul Lefebvre

 

NEWPORT — Can an inebriated murder suspect understand the rights he has given up when consenting to talk to police at the time of his arrest?

In a 12-page ruling following hearings and expert testimony, Orleans County Superior Court Judge Howard VanBenthuysen has ruled he can.

The judge’s ruling derails a defense motion to suppress evidence gained when accused murderer Jeffrey Ray, 53, of Brownington waived his Miranda rights and talked to police.

Mr. Ray, who remains in custody, has pled innocent to murdering his ex-wife’s husband on May 24, 2015, in Brownington.

The judge’s ruling, which is expected to clear the way for an early trial next year, came in the face of conflicting testimony from two experts and testimony from police.

According to Judge VanBenthuysen’s “Finding of Facts,” State Police Detective Sergeant Jacob Zoen interviewed the defendant at North Country Hospital roughly an hour after the shooting.

At that initial interview, according to the court’s findings, the detective did not note “any signs or symptoms of alcohol impairment.” Mr. Ray told the detective that he understood his rights and signed the Miranda form after it had been read to him.

The interview lasted 52 minutes and, at some point, the detective did note “a slight odor of intoxicants on the defendant.”

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A plan for reviving downtown Newport

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copyright the Chronicle August 30, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — The consultant hired by the city to help develop a redevelopment strategy in the wake of the collapse of Jay Peak’s Newport EB-5 efforts presented a preliminary report at the Gateway Center last week.

David White, who heads White and Burke, a company that has assisted other cities, including St. Albans, to bring their downtowns back to life, spoke along with his associate Joe Weith.

It was their second meeting with the Newport City Renaissance Corporation and a steering committee of business leaders.

Mr. White’s company was hired by the city council in March and has been working since then to gather information and develop plans.

While its recommendations are far from finalized, Mr. White said the city should work to bring a hotel to Newport, possibly by converting the Emory Hebard State Office Building.

He also suggested the creation of a tax increment finance district to help create conditions for economic development in the city.

Mr. White also encouraged the city to participate somehow in the sale of the former Spates Block in order to be sure its new owner’s plans work well with those of the city.

The Burke and White study is one of a series of investigations into how Newport can revive itself. Those include the Regional Urban Design Team (RUDAT) visits in 2009 and 2011.

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Man charged in Newport knife fight

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copyright the Chronicle August 23, 2017

 

by Paul Lefebvre

 

NEWPORT — A knife-swinging melee in downtown Newport Saturday night has led to charges here this week in Orleans County Superior Court.

As the only suspect cited for his role in the fracas, Everett Wilson, 26, of Newport pled innocent to both a felony charge of aggravated assault with a weapon and to a companion misdemeanor of possessing a narcotic.

Mr. Wilson was released on conditions, including a nighttime curfew, a ban on possessing weapons, and a restriction from going into bars or liquor stores.

The charges arose out of what police say was a large fight fueled by blame and mistrust that one of the combatants was a snitch, who had informed on drug dealers or users.

It was late Saturday night on August 19 when Newport police arrived at the downtown intersection of Central and Main. They were responding to reports that people were fighting in the streets, and that one was armed with a knife, according to the affidavit of Newport Patrolman Tanner Jacobs.

Police say they corralled two men, including Mr. Wilson, and were holding them at gunpoint when a third man aggressively approached them with blood on his right hand and arm.

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Border grants will help Newport rec path, local business

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copyright the Chronicle August 16, 2017

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

HARDWICK — The Northern Borders Regional Commission gave a major boost to the proposed extension of Newport’s recreation path when it awarded $425,000 to the Vermont Land Trust on August 10.

Senator Patrick Leahy and Governor Phil Scott were on hand at a ceremony at the yellow barn on Route 15 in Hardwick that once was home to the Greensboro Garage. They presented $2.2-million in border commission grants to ten Vermont projects.

They included $250,000 to the town of Hardwick to buy the yellow barn and convert it into an incubator space for new agricultural businesses; $250,00 to allow Neighborworks of Western Vermont to expand its HEAT squad program to the Northeast Kingdom; and $46,000 to help the Vermont Brewers Association create a mobile phone version of its Brewery Challenge Passport program.

The Northern Borders Regional Commission is a federal-state partnership that helps economic developments in northern parts of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

It was established in the federal farm bill passed in 2008 and first received money two years later. The commission helps fund Vermont projects in Orleans, Essex, Caledonia, Lamoille, Franklin, and Grand Isle counties.

The grant to the land trust will cover a bit less than half the $1-million or so it will take to extend the recreation trail about a mile, from Prouty Beach through Bluffside Farm, said Tracy Zschau, the land trust’s conservation director.

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Revision awarded multi-million dollar helmet contract

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copyright the Chronicle July 12, 201

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — Some of Vermont’s top political leaders joined Revision Military’s employees July 6 to celebrate a contract that could be worth as much as $98-million to the company. Revision CEO Jonathan Blanshay said the federal contract, under which his company will supply new, lighter helmets to the military, is the most important in Revision’s history.

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, U.S. Representative Peter Welch, and Governor Phil Scott joined the company’s 150 Newport employees to mark the achievement and to see how the new protective gear is made.

The contract, which Senator Leahy announced in March, calls for Revision to supply as many as 293,870 to the military over the next five years. All of Revision’s helmets are made in Newport.

Eric Hounchell, Revision’s vice-president for armor and global operations, said the company has invested around $3-million in new equipment needed to manufacture the helmets. He predicted Revision would invest more in the plant and hire more workers as orders come in.

Mr. Hounchell said the major selling point for the helmet was that it weighs in at almost a quarter less than the company’s previous model. Reducing the weight of equipment soldiers must carry extends their range and effectiveness, Mr. Hounchell said.

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