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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Small Town Hobbies is a haven for both big kids and little

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Chris and Kristin Poginy of Poginy’s European Auto Works in Coventry opened a new store, Small town Hobbies, on Saturday.  Photos by Tena Starr

Chris and Kristin Poginy of Poginy’s European Auto Works in Coventry opened a new store, Small town Hobbies, on Saturday. Photos by Tena Starr

copyright the Chronicle October 14, 2015

by Tena Starr

COVENTRY — It was a chilly Saturday morning, but already a collection of enthralled boys had gathered around both the inside and outside tracks that Chris and Kristin Poginy have built for their new business, Small Town Hobbies.

Saturday was open house for the business, which is much more than a retail store. The Poginys hope it will become a gathering place for hobby car enthusiasts, who will use the tracks they’ve built to compete with each other, or just have fun.

The store, and the tracks, are the fruition of her husband’s lifelong dream, Ms. Poginy said. He’s still a boy at heart — and probably has a lot of company in that.

The hobby shop sells remote cars, robotics kits, model cars, trucks, mini-tanks and planes, paint-by-number sets, and much more. The models are motorized, and computer… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Where have all the blackberries gone?

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There are fewer blackberries this year than last.

There are fewer blackberries this year than last.

copyright the Chronicle October 7, 2015

by Tena Starr

Both of my children have signature birthday cakes. My son’s is a black forest cake, dark chocolate with chocolate frosting and cherry pie filling in the middle with individual cherries on top.

My daughter’s is seasonal. Starting around when she was four, I began making a blackberry cake for her birthday, which is in early September. That was a long time ago, and I don’t remember what the original inspiration was, just that I made a white cake and decided to put fresh blackberries in it.

It comes out exceptionally moist and is tasty. I did this for nearly 30 years. It was tradition.

In one of those memorable episodes that says as much about me and the fact that I keep the doors and windows open as late… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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An exploration of complex relationships

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Hidden View by Brett Ann Stanciu

Hidden View by Brett Ann Stanciu

copyright the Chronicle October 7, 2015

Hidden View, by Brett Ann Stanciu. Paperback. 278 pages. Published by Green Writers Press. $19.95.

Reviewed by Tena Starr  

Hidden View is the name of a hardscrabble dairy farm that the main character in this book, Fern, finds herself married to just as much as she’s married to Hal, the charming fellow she met as a young woman interning at a place called Growing Seed Farm.

She’d grown up a town person, a well sheltered one at that. Rebelling, she embraced this burly man, his farm, and the daughter they so quickly had. She dropped out of college, much to her mother’s dismay, and looked forward to what she considered living, as opposed to the box her overprotective mother had sheltered her in.

The story is, ostensibly, about how tough it is to make it on a Vermont farm. But that’s not what it’s really about. It’s about relationships and just how complicated they can be.

Not surprisingly, when Hal appears with a bottle, early in this story, we figure… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Better a writer than a robber: Howard Mosher reflects on the Kingdom and its characters

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Irasburg author Howard Mosher said he had two aspirations as a younger man: To be a writer and/or a bank robber. With more than a dozen books behind him, he’s been successful enough at the first, fortunately, that he hasn’t had to resort to the second. But there’s always wishful thinking. Here, he poses with a couple of guns in front of the former Howard Bank in Orleans, which was the victim of a robbery.

Irasburg author Howard Mosher said he had two aspirations as a younger man: To be a writer and/or a bank robber. With more than a dozen books behind him, he’s been successful enough at the first, fortunately, that he hasn’t had to resort to the second. But there’s always wishful thinking. Here, he poses with a couple of guns in front of the former Howard Bank in Orleans, which was the victim of a robbery.

copyright the Chronicle September 30, 2015

by Tena Starr  

Writer Howard Mosher landed in Orleans County in 1964. He and his wife, Phillis, were in their twenties, schoolteachers looking for work, and they both ended up with jobs at what was then Orleans High School.

They were in the village searching for the school, their new place of employment, on a day when the streets were all but deserted. They noticed two men engaged in a fistfight on the railroad tracks. Mr. Mosher, astonished today at his audacity, interrupted the fight by rolling down his car window and asking if the gentlemen could tell him where the school was.

They could do better than that, they said. They could show him. Blind drunk, Mr. Mosher said, the pair piled into the back seat of the car and proceeded to take them on a meandering tour of Orleans, eventually finding the school.

Mission accomplished, the two men got out and wandered off, arms around… To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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