Forestry bills go after the bad guys

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copyright the Chronicle February 24, 2016

by Tena Starr

MONTPELIER — Legislation aimed at pinching the bad guys in the forestry business, while protecting the good guys from nuisance suits and dust-ups with zoning laws, is winding its way through the Vermont House at the moment.

In its current form, it would affect not only loggers, but also landowners who use loggers, and the mills that buy from loggers.

Orleans County loggers are leery of the legislation, but Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation Michael Snyder views it as a tool aimed at protecting loggers’ right to do business.

H.584, which has an identical counterpart in the Senate, started out as one big bill, but has since been broken into pieces in the House so it can more easily pass through committees. And it’s rapidly changing as it proceeds.… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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30 years in the air took this man everywhere

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copyright the Chronicle February 17, 2016

by Tena Starr

Armand Brasseur grew up on a dairy farm in Irasburg, but he didn’t want to milk cows, he wanted to fly.  He knew that when he was a small boy, four or five years old, and watched planes head south from the airport in Newport.

“I cherished my military soldier with a parachute and balsa wood plane with a rubber band as its source of power,” he said.

He was a Northeast Kingdom farm boy, and not many considered either the dream, or the ability to realize it, realistic.

They were wrong.  It took some doing… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Outage created plenty of work for plumbers

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copyright the Chronicle February 17, 2016

by Tena Starr

It was a perfect trifecta of bad luck – the coldest day of the year by far, not enough snow to insulate foundations, and an outage that left roughly 1,500 Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC) members without power for about 12 hours Sunday.  Barton and Orleans electric customers were out as well.

A day later, or a day earlier, and it might have been a different story.  But by Sunday afternoon… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Backus brothers bring business to Westfield

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From left to right are Merlin Backus, Rebecca Velazquez, and Luke Backus of Westfield along with some of Merlin and Rebecca’s goats. Luke plans to turn this old barn into a distillery. Photo by Tena Starr

From left to right are Merlin Backus, Rebecca Velazquez, and Luke Backus of Westfield along with some of Merlin and Rebecca’s goats. Luke plans to turn this old barn into a distillery. Photo by Tena Starr

copyright the Chronicle February 10, 2016

by Tena Starr   

WESTFIELD — Not long ago Rebecca Velazquez, who grew up in New Jersey, found herself in this very rural small town near tears, struggling to milk an uncooperative goat.

She was an urban woman, never even had a dog, she said.  And there she was in Westfield, population about 400, with two nanny goats that had to be milked and a partner who was out of state visiting his grandfather.

Ms. Velazquez’s partner is Merlin Backus, who grew up on a homestead farm in Westfield.  As a youngster, he hadn’t envisioned himself still living in that small town as a grownup.

But after college in New York City where he studied writing, and some years living there with Rebecca — a couple of those years traveling back and forth between New York and Vermont to care for his sick mother — he’s returned home.

So has his brother Luke, who also left… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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How hard is it to buy a gun?

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copyright the Chronicle January 13, 2016

by Tena Starr  

A couple of months ago I became the owner of a World War II issue Yugoslavian Mauser.

The story behind that unlikely purchase is complicated, but part of it had to do with the San Bernardino shootings.

Aware that the gun control debate was about to start up again, I wondered just how hard, or easy, it actually is to buy a gun.

One way to find out was to buy one.

Even though I grew up in Vermont in a family with a gun cabinet, went hunting with my father as a kid, and made sure both my children knew how to shoot, I had never owned, or bought, a gun.

So I asked about the Mauser, got a break on the price, and bought it.

This is what it entailed: I filled out the paperwork, which isn’t lengthy, and basically asks… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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The Donald does Vermont

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Trump-protestors-cmykcopyright the Chronicle January 13, 2016

by Tena Starr  

BURLINGTON — Not surprisingly, given the candidate’s career, Donald Trump’s rally here last week resembled a reality TV show as much as a political rally.

Mr. Trump bragged about the 20,000 people who had lined up to see him.

Actually, according to Burlington Police, that number was closer to 2,000.

His campaign had issued 20,000 free tickets, and many ticket holders believed that a ticket translated into entrance to the venue.

It did not. Hundreds of people stood in line outside for hours and many were denied entrance because the 1,400-seat venue was full.

It filled slowly, since everyone who made it to the doors had to go through airport level security, including body scans and bag searches.

“I love my people,” Mr. Trump said shortly after we walked in. “They are the most loyal people.”

Anyone who did not exhibit that loyalty, however, was ushered, bodily if necessary… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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1,000 pounds of onions stolen from Albany farmer

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Andy Paonessa at one of his farm fields.  Last week someone stole about 1,000 pounds of onions and shallots from him and his soon-to-be wife, Meghan Stotko.  Photo by Tena Starr

Andy Paonessa at one of his farm fields. Last week someone stole about 1,000 pounds of onions and shallots from him and his soon-to-be wife, Meghan Stotko. Photo by Tena Starr

copyright the Chronicle September 23, 2015

by Tena Starr

ALBANY — A puzzled Albany farmer is wondering why anyone would want to steal nearly 1,000 pounds of onions.

Andy Paonessa arrived at one of his farm fields last week to top and crate onions and discovered that he had been robbed of about $2,000 worth of onions and shallots.

“I looked around and thought there’s a lot missing. I looked down at my feet, and I was looking down at tire tracks.”

It turned out that about 1,000 pounds of onions that had been pulled, topped, and crated up for further drying had vanished. There were, and still are, clear tracks indicating that someone with a truck drove in and simply took 20 crates of onions and shallots from the field.

“I said, oh my God, we got robbed out of the field,” Mr. Paonessa said.

He said his workers scratched their heads.

Even the State Police were a… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Irasburg wind opponents plan petition drive

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Irasburg Ridgeline Alliance (IRA) volunteer Becky Boulanger of Irasburg hands a Vermont state flag to Gary Bennett, also of Irasburg.  The flag is the final decoration for a hay wagon located near the south end of Irasburg Common.  It’s one of six  positioned throughout Irasburg in preparation for IRA’s “neighbor-to-neighbor” campaign kickoff meeting to be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 9, at the Irasburg Town Hall.  Photo by Cathy Bennett

Irasburg Ridgeline Alliance (IRA) volunteer Becky Boulanger of Irasburg hands a Vermont state flag to Gary Bennett, also of Irasburg. The flag is the final decoration for a hay wagon located near the south end of Irasburg Common. It’s one of six positioned throughout Irasburg in preparation for IRA’s “neighbor-to-neighbor” campaign kickoff meeting to be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 9, at the Irasburg Town Hall. Photo by Cathy Bennett

copyright the Chronicle September 9, 2015

by Tena Starr  

IRASBURG — A loose coalition called the Irasburg Ridge Alliance (IRA) has formed here to oppose David Blittersdorf’s plans for a two-tower commercial wind project on Kidder Hill.

The group will hold a meeting on Wednesday evening, September 9.

“The advice we got from our legislators is that the best chance we have to preserve Kidder Hill from industrial wind development is to present a unified and strong opposition from the town,” said Judith Jackson, an organizer.

With that in mind, she said, the group will start a petition drive to see how many Irasburg voters are opposed to Mr. Blittersdorf’s project.

“What we hope to ascertain is whether there is widespread opposition to it, and to launch a campaign to get as many signatures of Irasburg voters as possible for a petition to the select board to oppose the Kidder Hill project and to develop…  To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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A risky deal, or a path to home ownership?

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The Barton home occupied by Mr. McCausland and Ms. Stenta for nearly two years.  Photo by Tena Starr

The Barton home occupied by Mr. McCausland and Ms. Stenta for nearly two years. Photo by Tena Starr

copyright the Chronicle September 2, 2015

by Tena Starr  

BARTON — Dave McCausland, Sue Stenta, and Ms. Stenta’s three children — the youngest being 17 — are living in tents at Pageant Park campground here on Crystal Lake this summer.

They say it’s not by choice.

“Welcome to crazy land,” Mr. McCausland said on a particularly windy afternoon that threatened to tear their tents apart.

He and Ms. Stenta said they ended up being campers because they had to leave their Barton house after an assistant state fire marshal inspected it and found it was unsafe. The house had no running water, except in the basement, the plumbing wasn’t hooked up, there were exposed wires, and the only heat was an improperly installed woodstove, which they put in themselves.

Also, there are questions about what appeared to be an open sewer line in the backyard.

Because a minor occupied…  To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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East Albany Catholic church is likely to be sold

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The nearly 150-year-old Catholic church here could go up for sale soon.  Photo by Tena Starr

The nearly 150-year-old Catholic church here could go up for sale soon. Photo by Tena Starr

copyright the Chronicle August 26, 2015

EAST ALBANY — The nearly 150-year-old Catholic church here could go up for sale soon.

Mass hasn’t been said at the church for some time now, but it has been used for weddings, baptisms, funerals, and until a few years ago there were services on Catholic holidays, said longtime parishioner Paul Daniels.

Mr. Daniels provided a tour of the old church on Sunday, a church his Irish ancestors helped build starting in 1869, he said. He’s feeling nostalgic about its demise, which has come about both through lack of attendance and the need for repairs, said parish priest Tim Naples.

The problem is a financial one, not particular to St. John of the Cross Church, but to the entire Most Holy Trinity Parish, which includes…  To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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