Irasburg man pleads innocent to poaching moose

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copyright the Chronicle January 3, 2018

 

by Joseph Gresser

 

NEWPORT — The man who game wardens say killed a cow moose, dragged it behind his truck from Westmore to Barton, and left its carcass beside the road to rot has denied the stack of charges against him.

Gerin J. Fortin, 21, of Irasburg, appeared in the Criminal Division of Orleans Superior Court on December 26 and pled innocent to two charges of taking game by an illegal method, that is, shooting from a vehicle; taking a big game animal by illegal means; possessing a big game animal taken by illegal means or out of season; transporting big game taken by illegal means, or out of season; and taking a moose out of season.

All the charges are misdemeanors, but if found guilty, Mr. Fortin could face a year in jail and have to pay as much as $8,000 in fines and restitution.

In his affidavit, Game Warden Thomas Scott said he got a call on September 23 telling him about a dead cow moose found off the Hollow Road in Barton. Warden Jason Dukette, who was on duty, went to Barton and found the moose.

He said the condition of the carcass and a two-foot-wide bloody drag mark showed it had been dragged to the place where it was found. Warden Dukette noticed two gunshot wounds on the moose.

The warden followed the drag marks to Town Highway 5, a Class Four road, in Westmore, where Warden Scott joined him. They continued to follow the trail, which led to a hay field. Tire marks were clearly visible on either side of the drag mark in the tall grass.

At the northern edge of the field, the wardens said they found blood, moose hair, a spent .30-06 Remington rifle casing, a tin of Wintergreen Copenhagen long cut chewing tobacco, an empty Budweiser beer can, and a foam beer koozie.

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Reward offered for information on poached moose

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copyright the Chronicle October 25, 2017

 

by Tena Starr

 

A Craftsbury Common woman rapidly raised more $2,500 through GoFundMe in order put up a reward she hopes will lead to the conviction of whoever illegally shot a cow moose in Westmore last month.

Efforts to reach Cindi Bollettieri, who launched the campaign and put up $1,000 herself, were unsuccessful, but she posted the following on the gofundme page: “Vermont state game wardens are seeking tips to help solve a case of a moose that was poached in Westmore. A reward is available to anyone with information leading to an arrest by calling Operation Game Thief at 1-800-75 ALERT.

The cow moose was shot from the road out of season and at night on Saturday, September 23. After poachers shot the moose, they dragged the animal on the road behind their truck over 11 miles to the town of Orleans. The animal was left to rot in the 80-degree heat by the side of Hollow Road off Route 58 in Orleans. The cow moose was lactating, indicating she likely had a calf with her.

100% of funds raised will go directly to: 
Operation Game Thief — Orleans Moose 
in care of Vermont Fish & Wildlife, 
1 National Life Drive,
Montpelier, Vermont 05602”

Donations ranged from $5 to Ms. Bollettieri’s own $1,000.

“Oh, my God, this makes my heart hurt,” one post says. “Please find whoever did this.”

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Westmore Select Board tackles public nudity

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copyright the Chronicle October 11, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

WESTMORE — The select board here is talking about passing a public indecency ordinance, with fines of up to $800, following complaints from people who said they were harassed at the nude beach at the south end of Lake Willoughby.

There’s no fixed timetable, but Chair Bill Perkins said he expects to see action on the proposal by the first of the year.

Mr. Perkins said he’s received complaints about harassment from several older women, who described being circled by a naked man or men at the beach in a way that made them feel threatened.

“A 93-year-old woman told me that people were prancing and preening around her,” he said.

He declined to give names. And he said that he hasn’t encouraged written complaints to the select board because the complaints would then be public record.

“People who would do that could threaten people in their homes,” he said in a phone interview on Monday.

He also described episodes where people kayaking near the cove were warned off by naked people standing knee-deep in the water, and hikers who had their way blocked by men — clothed — who lay down in front of them.

“They either have to step over the men or turn back,” he said.

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South end of Willoughby becomes a state park

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copyright the Chronicle July 5, 201

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

WESTMORE — In a surprise move, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation (FPR) announced on Saturday that it’s turning management of the beach area at the south end of Lake Willoughby over to the state parks system.

The decision was made about a month ago by Forests, Parks, and Recreation Commissioner Michael Snyder, said Susan Bulmer, the regional manager of the state park system.

“You’re the first to know,” she told the 80 or so people who nearly filled Westmore’s Fellowship Hall on the evening of July 1.

The crowd had come to see the formal presentation of the department’s revised plans for parking, bathrooms, and runoff management at the south end of the lake.

Many had participated in a months-long letter writing campaign organized by a group called Protect Willoughby. Its goal has been to get the department to downsize or abandon its plans.

Originally FPR called for parking for up to 90 cars, a 17-foot wide bathroom building, handicap accessible trails, and an observation deck.

And despite the fears of Protect Willoughby’s organizers that the holiday weekend was a bad time to schedule a public meeting, about 50 people had sloshed through a downpour earlier in the afternoon for guided walks around the East Cove and West Cove beach areas.

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Body on cliff awaits recovery

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copyright the Chronicle May 17, 2017

 

The body found Monday on a cliff at the south end of Lake Willoughby in Westmore may not be recovered until Thursday, State Police said.

Other agencies will have to help because of the extreme nature of the terrain and the equipment and expertise needed to access the area, a State Police press release says.

It says the body is about 300 feet down a precipice and 200 feet up from the bottom of the drop-off, resting on a rock shelf.

Police have asked officials with the Vermont National Guard, as well as other technical experts, for advice on the best way to recover the body.

“While positive ID has not yet occurred, the family of Tyler Robinson has been advised of the process underway to recover the individual,” the press release says.

Mr. Robinson, who is 23 years old and from Orleans, was last seen at his home on Water Street on Friday. Police and search and rescue teams had been scouring the county looking for him.

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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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South beach project faces opposition

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copyright the Chronicle March 1, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

LYNDONVILLE — About 70 people filled the Burke Mountain Room at Lyndon State College on February 23 to express their concerns about plans to put restrooms, parking, and handicapped-accessible trails at the south end of Lake Willoughby. The land is part of Willoughby State Forest.

Site plans were recently released by the Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation (FPR), and the public was invited to Thursday’s informational meeting.

Participants seemed to be divided between the simply curious and people who wanted to see the plans scaled back. A vocal few just wanted the beaches at the south end of the lake left alone.

“This is nature’s cathedral, why don’t we protect this?” asked Beverley Decker.

Louis Bushey from the St. Johnsbury office of FPR seemed a little taken aback by the size of the group and the objections.

“We held a public meeting in November 2015,” he said. “And these plans are the direct result of what people said they wanted.”

“All of the calls that I’ve gotten have been positive,” said Bill Perkins, a member of the Westmore Select Board.

Because the south end of the lake is state land, the select board has no control over the plans, he said.

The plans aren’t intended to change the nature of the south end of the lake, Mr. Bushey said. And they’re certainly not intended to increase the volume of visitors, though that’s likely to happen over time, just because the population is growing.

The point, he said, was simply to address existing problems — cars parked along the road shoulder, paths eroding from foot traffic, human waste in the woods, and runoff from the road going directly into the lake.

“We’ve all seen the plume after a rain,” he said to nods around the room.

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State plans new parking area for Willoughby’s south end

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copyright the Chronicle January 25, 2017

 

by Elizabeth Trail

 

WESTMORE — About 20 people attended the select board meeting here Monday, where construction of a parking area at the south end of Lake Willoughby, and a request from snowmobilers to use a stretch of Long Pond Road to get to the Willoughby Lake Store were the major items on the agenda.

Louis Bushey from the St. Johnsbury office of the Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation (FPR) unveiled the department’s plan for dealing with traffic and crowds at the south end of Lake Willoughby.

Anyone who has headed south along the lake on Route 5A knows the road can be nearly impassable near the beach area, with vehicles parked along the shoulder and sticking out into the road.

In summer, it’s swimmers. In winter, it’s ice climbers.

Trails down to the lake are steep and eroding. And with no bathroom facilities except a cluster of Porta Potties, a lot of people slip into the woods when nature calls, creating a health hazard.

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New state park opens overlooking Willoughby Lake

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Windsor and Florence Wright stand in front of the stone outline of the original farmhouse on Hinton Hill Road where their family once spent its summers.   The Wrights, who now live outside of Kansas City, Kansas, donated the 356-acre parcel of land in Westmore  to create Sentinel Rock State Park.  Photo by Elizabeth Trail

Windsor and Florence Wright stand in front of the stone outline of the original farmhouse on Hinton Hill Road where their family once spent its summers. The Wrights, who now live outside of Kansas City, Kansas, donated the 356-acre parcel of land in Westmore to create Sentinel Rock State Park. Photo by Elizabeth Trail

copyright the Chronicle July 15, 2015

by Elizabeth Trail

WESTMORE — About 13,000 years ago, the last retreating glacier left a huge boulder, twice as tall as a person, overlooking Lake Willoughby near the top of the Hinton Hill Road in Westmore. Generations have watched sunsets from the rock, picnicked at its base, and gathered berries in the surrounding fields.

On July 11 the great rock, and the site of the old farmhouse that once stood nearby, became the focal points of Vermont’s new Sentinel Rock State Park.

Vermont’s newest state park was made possible by the generous gift of 356 acres by Windsor and Florence Wright. The Wrights summered in an old Victorian farmhouse on the site for decades after Mr. Wright’s father bought the place in 1947, said Vermont State Parks Director Craig Whipple….To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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Truck fished out of Willoughby

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A pickup in Willoughby.  Photo by Joseph Gresser

A pickup in Willoughby. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle May 13, 2015

by Joseph Gresser

WESTMORE — Bob Wesoja was out fishing on Willoughby Lake last week — for his truck.

Back in February, Mr. Wesoja was headed for his fishing shanty when the wind kicked up, and in white-out conditions he lost his way, steering his brand new Ford 150 onto a patch of thin ice.

He and a friend jumped through the windows to safety as the truck plunged into the lake’s frigid waters.

On Thursday of last week Mr. Wesoja, Chris McCarthy and Jereme LeBlanc started off at around 8 in the morning figuring the job would be done in a couple of hours.

They had little reason to think otherwise….To read the rest of this article, and all the Chronicle‘s stories, subscribe:

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