Governor’s freeze gets a cold shoulder

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copyright the Chronicle February 1, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

Governor Phil Scott’s plan for education, delivered last week as part of his budget address, hasn’t met with enthusiasm in Orleans County.

The plan calls for a freeze on school budgets, and in order to give districts time to rewrite their budgets, every district would vote on them on May 23. Also, teachers would pay 20 percent of their health insurance premiums. Most pay 15 percent now.

Local school districts are basically ignoring the proposal, which lacks legislation behind it at this point.

Orleans Central Supervisory Union (OCSU) Superintendent Donald Van Nostrand said Lake Region Union High School will go ahead and hold its annual meeting and budget vote on February 15 as planned. The elementary schools are also moving forward as they would any other year. Glover, Albany, Brownington, and Irasburg hold their school meetings and budget votes on Town Meeting Day, or in the case if Irasburg, in the evening. Orleans and Barton vote later in March, and Westmore votes in May.

There have been no school board meetings since the Governor’s budget address, Mr. Van Nostrand said. “And we have not called any special meetings to talk about it at this point.”

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Willoughby claims ice fisherman

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copyright the Chronicle February 1, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

WESTMORE – In the wake of Richard Leblanc’s death last week, officials are warning ice fishermen to be leery of thin ice.

Mr. LeBlanc, 62, of Orleans went through the ice on Lake Willoughby on the morning of Thursday, January 26.

Sue LeBlanc, his wife, said that he usually fished the ponds, like Parker in West Glover, which tend to be frozen harder than deep and unpredictable Willoughby. But he’d caught a huge trout in Willoughby earlier and was tempted by the prospect of more.

“We devoured that down, and then he caught another one and said I’d like to save that for mom and dad. And I’ll get one more to share,” Ms. LeBlanc said.

But it never came to pass. He fell through weak ice that day, and efforts to save him were too late.

His wife said she’s heard varying information, but either carpenters or loggers saw him walk across the lake and fall through and called 911.

“He can’t swim,” she said, “but in cold water there’s nothing you can do anyway.”

A game warden who lives in Barton tried to rescue him, Ms. LeBlanc said, and he fell in, too, “but he grabbed him. The fire department was there; they worked on him as much as they could. But it was too cold.”

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Highland Lodge has new owner

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copyright the Chronicle January 4, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

GREENSBORO — The Highland Lodge here has a new owner — Heidi Lauren Duke, an opera director from New York with close ties to Vermont, particularly to Glover where her partner, Sam Young, lives.

Ms. Duke closed on the historic inn on December 19 and was busy Monday with some of the renovations she’s planning for the place, which was in the Smith family for generations. It’s a lovely old inn on Caspian Lake with a network of cross-country ski trails. The small front office is papered in old-fashioned pale blue wallpaper, and a big sideboard exhibits photographs of the inn that go back to 1909.

The Highland Lodge has gone through several incarnations; now it’s about to go through another.

By Martin Luther King Day, at the latest, it will have a full-service bar that will offer drinks and appetizer type food. Its winter cabins are open again this year. And Ms. Duke plans to offer entertainment in the form of live music and art exhibits to start with.

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Sweenys buy C&C Market

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copyright the Chronicle December 14, 2016

by Tena Starr

 

BARTON — Ray and Jessica Sweeney of Glover became the new owners of the C&C Market here on Tuesday.

A few hours after the closing, they were already, and enthusiastically, at work.

In an interview before the sale, Mr. Sweeney said he was excited about the purchase and has lots of ideas about how to give the store a fresh look.

“My wife and I are ready to do something different,” he said.

Mr. Sweeney has been head of the C&C’s meat department for 18 years. Before that, he worked at Currier’s Quality Market in Glover. Altogether, he’s had 25 years experience in retail, which he said he loves. The family also has a private butchering business and makes and sells granola, businesses they plan to keep. Ms. Sweeney is Glover’s assistant town clerk, a job she plans to keep at least for now.

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Cost and shortage of childcare hinder employment

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copyright the Chronicle December 14, 2016

by Tena Starr

 

For as long as memory serves, the lack of jobs in the Northeast Kingdom, generally touted as the most economically depressed area of the state, has been considered the big hindrance to prosperity.

But by most measures, the Northeast Kingdom currently has more jobs than workers willing, or able, to fill them. Unemployment in the Derby labor market area for October was at 3.7 percent, which is generally considered full employment. In this sparsely populated labor market, that means only about 500 people are considered to be unemployed.

Nonetheless, few question the fact that people who could work, and would work, are hindered by what state officials and others consider barriers to unemployment.

“I believe people want to work,” said Neil Morrissette at Creative Work Solutions. “It’s those barriers.”

And childcare is a big one, he said.

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Albany concert expected to draw thousands

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copyright the Chronicle December 7, 2016

by Tena Starr

Two Irasburg Masons are hoping that up to 100,000 people will come to Albany next fall for a daylong concert they’re planning to raise money for the Mt. Sinai #3 Shriners, based in Montpelier. The concert lineup mainly features 1980s rock bands, but there will be 11 acts in all with country music, as well as a trio of local acts, thrown in.

Adam Johnson and Marcos Clay are working together on the concert, called Shrinedom 2017, which will be held on the grounds of the Creek Hill Barn on the Creek Road in East Albany. A hundred thousand tickets are being advertised for sale, ranging in price from $100 for general admission to $300 for a stage front ticket and a chance to win an autographed guitar. Also, the Shrinedom website lists a category to make a donation, which doesn’t include a ticket.

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Irasburg fire leaves six without a home

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copyright the Chronicle December 7, 2016

by Paul Lefebvre and Tena Starr

IRASBURG — A fire late Sunday afternoon destroyed a camp off the Gage Road here and left two adults and four children homeless.

“They lost everything,” said Robin Beaton, chief of the Irasburg Volunteer Fire Department, speaking Tuesday in an interview.

The two adults, Michael Josey and Kate Shatney, and the children are presently living with James Bromley of Irasburg. The children range in age from seven to 14.

Ms. Shatney said Tuesday that the family lost pretty much everything, but she put a positive spin on the situation. “We didn’t lose anyone.”

The children took it hard to begin with, but the six of them are staying with family, which the kids are enjoying, she said.

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Armed standoff in Newport

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copyright the Chronicle November 30, 2016

by Tena Starr

NEWPORT — A standoff with a man armed with a rifle at Richard’s All Seasons Lodge, formerly the Bayview Inn, led to a heavy police presence here Tuesday afternoon and evening.

The situation was under control, but not resolved, said Dispatcher Laura Fisher at the Newport Police Department as of press time.

A Newport police officer at the scene said he suspected it could be a long night.

And there were reports that the man had barricaded himself in.

Despite rumors that hostages were involved, Dispatcher Fisher said there were no hostages.

Police closed that section of Pleasant Street off and were not allowing through traffic.

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The NEK’s got jobs — a lot of them

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copyright the Chronicle November 30, 2016

by Tena Starr

Neil Morrissette of Creative Work Solutions is an unabashed cheerleader for the Northeast Kingdom. It has everything, he said in a recent interview.

Including jobs. A lot of jobs. In fact, some employers are near desperate for workers, Mr. Morrissette said.

“There’s so much work out there.”

The economic picture he paints is far from the traditional one, which is that the Northeast Kingdom — generally called the most economically depressed part of the state — is one tough place to get a job.

But Mr. Morrissette’s assessment is backed up by a low unemployment rate in the Derby labor market area. The area’s October rate was the second highest in Vermont, but at 3.7 percent it’s very low nationally and can’t be considered high anywhere.

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At long last, Lake Region reigns

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copyright the Chronicle November 9, 2016

by Tena Starr and Brad Usatch

It’s been nearly 40 years since the Lake Region Union High School boys soccer team made it to a championship game. The last time was in 1978 when they lost to Milton. In the school’s 49 years of existence, the team has often been excellent — but never been a champion.

Until Saturday.

It was a big time payback at South Burlington High School Saturday afternoon when LR once again made it to the championship, and once again faced Milton.

This time, an undefeated Lake Region came home with the trophy and a decisive 4-0 win. Over the course of the season, they outscored their opponents 105-6.

The hard fought first half of Saturday’s game ended 1-0 with the goal by Matthew Lawlor, set up by Riley Urie, who scored three in the second half, pretty much assuring a Lake Region win well before the clock ran out.

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