Pet thieves posing as “humane officers?”

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copyright the Chronicle June 21, 201

 

by Tena Starr

 

The owners of two dogs in Albany believe the animals were stolen last week by someone posing as a representative of P.E.T.S of the Kingdom, a nonprofit that checks on animal welfare.

Ronald Mason said his wife Melissa’s dog and his youngest daughter’s dog were taken from the Albany home where a relative has been caring for them. The Masons recently moved from Albany to Lyndonville and can’t keep pets there, so they left them in Albany with their nephew.

“He came home from work and the dogs were gone,” Mr. Mason said. “My nephew called P.E.T.S., and they said they didn’t take them.”

Mr. Mason said a woman had come around to the Albany home where the dogs were, saying she was doing neighborhood checks of animals and wondered if they would like to get rid of the dogs.

“We were like, no, we don’t want to get rid of them,” Mr. Mason said. “We’ve had these dogs since they were puppies. I just think it’s pretty damned bad when somebody takes something that doesn’t belong to you. Pets can be like family. I’m just plain disgusted.”

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Study examines how maple trees fare tapping

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copyright the Chronicle June 14, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

The Proctor Maple Research Center in Underhill has launched a first-of-its kind study. It’s looking at the long-term effects of tapping a maple tree.

Like others, Derby sugarmaker Steve Wheeler said he was astonished that concrete information about how drilling holes into a tree and sucking its sap out year after year hasn’t previously been collected.

Mr. Wheeler, who is an organic sugarmaker, said he was among those who called for the study. Organic sugarmakers as well as those whose land is in the Current Use program, are required to follow best practices for sugaring. Among other things, they want scientific, rather than anecdotal, data to support those best practices, Mr. Wheeler said.

“I’m one of the guys who has said, hey, we really need this study. The whole thing about organic is it’s about the long-term sustainability of the sugarbush.”

Research assistant professor Abby van den Berg at the Proctor Center said the study will last ten years. The goal is to collect empirical data on what effect tapping and collecting sap has on the health and growth of maples.

The fact that no one has ever studied that rather big subject is, in part, because “we have been doing this for a hundred plus years over and over again, and the trees are still healthy and thriving,” said Ms. van den Berg about sugaring. “That, anecdotally, gives us the answer to that question. We know we are not detrimentally impacting trees when we’re following good practices.”

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Former Candlepin has new owners

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copyright the Chronicle June 7, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

BARTON — The former Candlepin restaurant, long empty, has been sold to Matthew Wright and Cassy Moulton of Derby.

The couple does not currently plan to turn the property back into the full-service restaurant it was throughout most of its life.

The purchase happened rather quickly, Ms. Moulton said, and ideas are still swirling around in the new owners’ heads. For the moment, however, they know for sure that Ms. Moulton’s catering business will operate out of the former restaurant, and it’s almost guaranteed there will be an ice cream shop there, as well.

It’s a long-term project, Ms. Moulton said. The property needs maintenance, and the first stage will be to fix it up. Besides the restaurant, there’s a big house, and the barn, which, at one time, housed a popular bowling alley. That building has problems with both mold and its roof.

Ms. Moulton is operating manager at Louis Garneau, Inc., in Derby. She’s a busy woman, who also runs a catering business called For the Love of Food on weekends. She said she caters weddings, showers, and other events, including some for the Army National Guard.

But she hasn’t had a home base. For some time, she’s thought about having a place where customers might come to her for functions, as well.

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LRUHS — A very good school has a very good year

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copyright the Chronicle June 7, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

Lake Region Union High School Principal Andre Messier had nothing but good to say about this year’s graduating class at the school’s annual awards night last Thursday. Awards night recognizes students in all grades, but Mr. Messier focused on the seniors and the school itself, which U.S. News and World Report has once again ranked in the top ten high schools in Vermont. This year it’s eighth.

“This is my favorite night of the year,” Mr. Messier said. Students get recognition when they win in sports and other events, he noted. “But rarely do we get to focus on the academic side.”

Towards the end of the program when he handed out the Presidential Awards for Academic Excellence, he said: “This group of seniors has set the bar, the standard, for this school. Those of you who are younger have something to chase.” He added that he fully expects them to do that, of course.

Eighteen students received the Presidential Award: They are: Maria Brosseau, Hunter Cota, Rebecca Doucet, Hunter Duquette, Margo Foster, Emily Klar, Elizabeth Locke, Avery Marcotte, Ashley Morrill, Olivia Owens, Andrew Parkinson, Colton Porter, April Streeter, Katherine Whipple, Alexis Rodgers, Sam King, Zachary Hale, and Erin Smith.

Mr. Messier also noted that this is the sixth year in a row that U.S. News has recognized Lake Region for outstanding achievement.

“That’s something this community should be extremely proud of,” he said. “That’s six consecutive years that the students who have come through Lake Region have maintained this.”

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Keeping our food safe was Sutton man’s career

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copyright the Chronicle May 31, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

This country frets about terrorism a lot. But one of its more potentially effective, if less splashy, forms — attacking the food supply — has occurred with surprising infrequency.

Hank Parker, an agroterrorism specialist who has retired to Sutton, is among those who have played a part in that.

Mr. Parker is a scientist, and one of the things he’s spent his long and unusual career thinking about is the safety of U.S. agriculture and food. He was a fellow at the National Defense University, where he wrote a treatise on what the federal government could do to protect American agriculture and the food supply. He’s been acting director for homeland security for the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture (USDA). And in retirement he teaches a graduate level class in agroterrorism at Georgetown University.

Before September 11, 2001, he said in a recent interview, the U.S. food system was highly vulnerable — and in many ways still is. But back then agriculture wasn’t even considered a critical infrastructure, he said.

Yes, there were people in the federal government who recognized the potential threat, but it took the September 11 attacks to improve coordination of security in general. There was also a more serious effort to make sure that Americans don’t have to worry about eating, at least not because of terrorists.

Mr. Parker’s career has not run in a straight line. He started out in biological oceanography, specializing in aquaculture. Basically, that’s fish farming. The USDA hired him as coordinator of its aquaculture program in 1992, and over time, he got involved in research programs.

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ASPIRE! awards boost female entrepreneurs

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copyright the Chronicle May 17, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

Several years ago, Hanna Broer, who has loved sewing since she was a young teenager, decided to make herself some underwear. She liked how it turned out, as did others, and that was the start of Hanna Broer Design.

What’s different about Ms. Broer’s lingerie is that it’s made from eco-friendly materials, mostly organic cotton, but also hemp, bamboo, and even a fabric partially made from the waste products from the soy industry.

“It’s very soft and comfortable,” she said about the soy fabric. “And it’s quite nice to use a discarded material.”

Her lingerie isn’t of the Victoria Secret type. No underwires, no frills. It’s meant to be comfortable, but it’s also attractive, both in design and in choice of fabric.

Business has grown steadily, but slowly, said Ms. Broer, who comes from Montreal but now lives in Craftsbury with her husband. She’s a one-woman show at this point, with several sewing machines for different tasks, but she’d like to grow and hire people.

So when she heard about ASPIRE!, a local program to help female businesswomen, she applied. Winners receive a $2,000 award and what’s called a circle of support — women business owners who provide practical advice and support about how to make a promising business grow and prosper.

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Effort underway to bring ball fields back to fairgrounds

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copyright the Chronicle April 26, 2017

 

 

by Tena Starr

 

BARTON — Some may not remember when there were fierce competitions at the ball fields at the Orleans County Fairgrounds, or knew there were ball fields there at all. But years ago, they were busy places. In fact, according to old Orleans County Monitors, ballgames were a regular feature of the fair, as well as a lively summertime occupation between organized teams.

Now there’s an effort to revive and recondition those fields, which are more than 100 years old, adding backstops, dugouts, plus lights on one of them for night games.

Dan Perron is a fair director; he’s also vice-president of the Orleans County Cal Ripkin chapter, a man who is deeply immersed in youth baseball, as well as softball. He’s spearheading the effort to rejuvenate the fields and has helped to start a fund-raising drive to pay for upcoming improvements.

Over the next weeks, expect to see “baseball cards” in local stores. They can be bought for a dollar each, and the money will go to finishing the fields.

Mr. Perron has done considerable research on the history of the ball fields and baseball in Barton in general. Among other things, he ran across the story of Heimie Stafford of Orleans, who made it to the bigs, the majors, for a single game in October of 1916.

Mr. Perron said the goal is to raise between $20,000 and $25,000 to finish refurbishing the fields. These days, teams want a good field to play on, and they don’t want to play on just grass, he said.

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Poetry informed by the unique perspective of an EMT

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copyright the Chronicle April 12, 2017

 

Reviewed by Tena Starr

  

A Life Lived Backwards, by Mark Creaven. Paperback. 76 pages. Available on Amazon.com, $9.99.

 

Longtime West Glover resident Mark Creaven has been, among many other things, an EMT, a job that, in the opinion of this writer, requires a rare skill set.

Not everyone has what it takes to tend the sick and injured in emergency situations; not everyone is willing and able to jump out of bed at 2 a.m. to console the parents of a broken teen who has just died in a car crash, or at reassuring the lonely old woman who fears this is the night that her weary heart gives up.

No, it’s a job that not only requires medical skills, but also compassion, courage, patience, and the ability, and willingness, to engage in situations that most of us don’t even want to contemplate.

I’ve never heard of anyone who has specifically turned such situations into poetry.

However, the subtitle of this slender book is “Poems by an Emergency Medical Technician,” and its first section, called In the Field, provides a glimpse of the kinds of heart-wrenching moments an EMT, through the very nature of his work, must deal with.

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ATVs — pest or new economic driver?

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copyright the Chronicle March 22, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

When a group of ATV enthusiasts went before the Westmore Select board recently to ask that some town roads be opened to them, they touted the usual arguments, the main one being that allowing people who love to ride on the versatile machines to get to stores and restaurants would be good for the economy.

And they received the usual arguments for the select board’s hesitation, the main ones being the town is worried about rogue riders and liability if something happens.

“They’re hoping to get some roads open so they can connect to Brownington roads, which are all open,” said Selectman Bill Perkins. They would also like to have access to amenities, he added.

As of Sunday, the board hadn’t made a decision, though Mr. Perkins, at least, wasn’t inclined to offer much resistance.

“Our main concerns are the same as with snowmobiling,” he said. “We just want to make sure the town isn’t going to be held liable for anything if there’s ever an accident. We don’t want the town responsible in any way. Other than that we don’t see a big problem with them.”

The Westmore request is only one of the latest in a growing debate about whether ATVs — which some think may replace snowmobiles as a major economic engine driving Vermont’s outdoor economy — should be provided more access to town and village roads.

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Newark woman camped out at Standing Rock

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copyright the Chronicle February 8, 2017

 

 

by Tena Starr

 

The commercial wind projects on the Northeast Kingdom’s ridgelines provided the inspiration for 19-year-old Sophia Burnham’s long stint with the pipeline protestors near Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota.

Ms. Burnham and her sister Hannah, who are both from Newark, joined the Standing Rock protestors over Thanksgiving break last year.

The Sioux and others are opposed to construction of the controversial 1,170-mile Dakota Access Pipeline. The young women initially went on a 350.org Vermont bus trip, planning to stay for about a week. 350.org is an environmental group concerned about climate change and the use of fossil fuels.

At the end of that trip, Hannah went back to college, but Sophia did some serious packing and returned to North Dakota after a few days. She’s pretty much been there ever since.

She said, by cell phone on Sunday, that President Donald Trump’s order to expedite construction of the pipeline has emboldened local police and private security. Numerous people have since been arrested, she said.

The protests, near the town of Cannon Ball, North Dakota, have gone on for months, with thousands of protestors, including a big contingent of military veterans, arguing that the last section of pipeline should not be built at the proposed site for safety reasons.

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