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House resolution presented for North Country Hospital’s 100-year celebration

in Newport/News
Following the reading of the resolution, trustees and legislators gathered to make it official. Left to right, Tom Milnamow, Vice Chair, NCH Board of Trustees, Rep. Paul Lefebvre, NCH Board Chair, Frank Knoll, Rep. Woodman Page, NCH President & CEO Brian Nall, Rep. Lynn Batchelor, Senator Bobby Starr, Rep. Mike Marcotte and Rep. Sam Young.

NEWPORT — North Country Hospital’s celebration of a century of hometown care in 2019 is more than just a look back in time.

This year’s promotion and sharing of its 100th birthday prompted local representative Woodman Page to spearhead the declaration of a House resolution, congratulating the hospital on its Centennial.

Last Thursday, representatives, and senators from the region were invited to attend a session of the North Country Hospital Board of Trustees monthly meeting.

Following an update of the “state of the union,” the group gathered to present the resolution to hospital board chair Frank Knoll and hospital President & CEO, Brian Nall.

Recognition of the 100-year milestone has continued with a historical supplement created by the Newport Daily Express, with copies available at North Country Hospital, a Centennial Family 5K, and 10K walk/run Saturday, June 15, and several other upcoming summertime events and activities.

Even the front Prouty Drive flowerbed has been planted in the shape of 100.

Woman convicted of killing husband in intentional crash, arrested for domestic assault

in Barton/Newport/News

BARTON — A 52-year-old woman from Barton on furlough for manslaughter charges connected to a 2009 crash that killed her husband, was arrested for domestic assault.

Police say Christine Billis was involved in a physical altercation on Main Street in Barton on Friday.

According to the report, Billis and the victim had been in a relationship for several months.

“After speaking with several witnesses it was determined a criminal offense had occurred,” trooper Abigail Drew wrote in a statement.

Billis was arrested and taken to Northern State Correctional Facility for revocation of her furlough.

Back in September of 2009, Billis was driving with her husband Charles in Charleston, when her car suddenly swerved into a tree.

She was treated for minor injuries, but her husband was badly injured and pronounced dead at the hospital.

Less than a year later, Billis registered with an online dating service and allegedly confessed to a man she was corresponding with that the car crash was deliberate.

She allegedly told the man that her husband was not wearing his seatbelt and that she had slammed the car deliberately into the tree.

The man wore a recording device at their first face-to-face meeting, and Billis repeated her confession.

The man took the tape to police who began their own investigation. Police say they obtained confirming confessions at subsequent meetings on police wires.

In June 2011, she was arrested for first-degree murder in the killing of her husband.

She was sentenced to serve 7-15 years behind bars.

Her minimum sentence to serve ended in June of last year.

Local student-athletes honored at Stanstead College

in Derby/Newport/News/Stanstead
  • Screen-Shot-2019-06-07-at-5.28.26-PM.png
    Rugby Major S Emily Willis, Newport, with coaches Eryn Hessian and Emily Norris
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    Patrick Young, Derby Line, (second from left) earned a Major S for rugby
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    Andrew Bouchard, Newport, (centre) was the top male points earner on the SC tennis team
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    Bradley James “BJ” Roy, Derby, (right) earned the Sportsmanship Award for lacrosse
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    Ryan Young, Derby Line, (second from left) earned a Senior S for rugby

STANSTEAD, QC — A number of local student-athletes were honored for their achievements during a recent athletic assembly at Stanstead College.

Patrick Young, grade 12, was a first-time “Major S” winner for senior boys rugby.

Emily Willis, grade 12, of Newport, won her first “Major S” for senior girls rugby and her second of the year, having earned one in basketball the season prior.

Andrew Bouchard, of Newport, was awarded a “Senior S” for tennis and was the Tennis Shield male winner.

BJ Roy, of Derby, received a Sportsmanship Award for lacrosse.

Alison Barlow, of Newport, was given a Sportsmanship Award for senior girls rugby.

Also honored during the assembly, was Ryan Young, of Derby Line, who received a “Senior S” for rugby.

Congressman Peter Welch meets with NEK Young Professionals

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/St. Johnsbury

ST. JOHNSBURY — Vermont U.S. Representative Peter Welch recently visited with young professionals in the Northeast Kingdom at Catamount Arts in St. Johnsbury.

The Northeast Kingdom Young Professionals Network helped to organize the breakfast with Congressman Welch’s office.

Young entrepreneurs and professionals from local non-profit organizations, serving youth and families, the service industry, and marketing, tourism and beyond joined together to share with Welch their thoughts and feelings regarding life in the Kingdom for young professionals.

Painting an honest and sincere picture, there were laughs yet also valid concerns shared about job opportunities, childcare, healthcare, homeownership, access to broadband and faith in state and local governments.

Welch offered a heartfelt thanks for the input and shared that he felt a responsibility to go back to Washington and try to help the hard workers in NEK continue to succeed.

The NEK Young Professionals Network is excited to air more of its work over the coming months, with several initiatives on the precipice of being announced.

You can join the group for a networking mixer on Thursday, June 20, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Essex House in Island Pond.

This will be the first event the group has held in Essex County.

Clausing and Findlay recognized for community service

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWARK — Jan Clausing and John Findlay were recently honored with Community National Bank’s “Community Service Award.”

The award was created to recognize remarkable people who give back to the community, making them better places to live, work and grow.

For several years Clausing and Findlay have volunteered countless hours assisting with major renovation projects and the maintenance of the Newark Union Church.

They take care of repairs as needed, help to maintain the electrical system, the antique Round Oak wood stove, and the upkeep of the grounds.

They get the church ready for the annual Old Home Day Festival, sunrise Easter services, weddings, and celebrations of life.

They work closely with Jo Ann Clausing who has also been a longtime volunteer of the church.

Clausing and Findlay are active members of several other organizations.

Clausing is a volunteer at the Lyndonville Welcome Center, a 30-year member of the St. Johnsbury Players, currently serving as Vice President, Newark Supervisor of the Northeast Kingdom Waste Management District, and a board member of Lyndon Rescue.

Findlay is a member of Faith In Action, the Lyndon Historical Society, the Vail Museum at Northern Vermont University-Lyndon, and a board member of the Darling Inn Meal Site.

Community National Bank says they were proud to present Mr. Clausing and Mr. Findlay with the bank’s Community Service Award for the first quarter of 2019.

The bank recognizes recipients by making a $500.00 contribution to a local non-profit organization of the recipient’s choice.

Clausing and Findlay have requested that their donation be made to the Newark Union Church.

For more information about this award and to nominate a deserving neighbor, visit communitynationalbank.com or contact Marketing Assistant Anne Quirion at 802-487-3513 or aquirion@communitynationalbank.com.

Tour de Kingdom kicks off this Friday

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — The three-day Tour de Kingdom will be returning for another year this coming weekend, running June 7, 8, and 9.

The current roster stands at just over 100 riders this year with online registration open through until tomorrow at 5:00 p.m.

Friday’s “Ride Around Le Lac Memphremagog,” a total of 78 miles, offers an international flavor. Currently, 30 riders are signed up, including Cindy Werhane from Portland, Oregon, who swam the 25-mile length of the lake in 2017 and is returning to bike around it as a victory lap of sorts.

The biggest day is The Moose, a 103-mile timed event, on Saturday, with 93 riders signed on, coming from 11 states and Canadian provinces.

Riders will be leaving from Mike’s Tiki Bar in East Burke, traveling north on Route 114 through Island Pond to Norton and Canaan, and returning along the Connecticut River on Route 102 to Bloomfield, then along 105 to Island Pond and back to East Burke.

Sunday offers some shorter rides, again leaving from East Burke and covering Lake Willoughby, Crystal, Seymour, and Island Pond.

Another 30 riders are signed up for Sunday.

The weather forecast looks good for all three days of the event.

Organizers say they are pleased to see the growth of the Tour and additional walk-on riders are welcome.

Police: Fire in Newport considered suspicious

in Fire/Newport/News

NEWPORT — Authorities say that a fire that broke out in Newport on Tuesday remains under investigation and is considered suspicious.

At around 11:00 a.m. the Newport City Fire Department responded to a report of a house filled with smoke at 136 Hill Street.

According to the report, there was evidence of a small fire in the basement area that one of the homeowners had extinguished by himself.

Yvan Parenteau Jr. told fire personnel that he was outside the residence when he heard a smoke detector activated inside the residence.

Parenteau stated that he found embers in the basement ceiling, and was able to keep the fire from spreading.

No one was reported to be inside the residence prior to Parenteau noticing the smoke and fire.

There were no injuries and the house sustained only minor smoke and fire damage.

Chief Jamie Leclair called for assistance with an origin and cause investigation.

Investigators from the Fire & Explosion Unit responded to the scene and opened an investigation, but were unable to locate any competent ignition sources in the area of origin.

They say that the cause remains under investigation and is considered suspicious.

Island Pond man killed in single-vehicle crash

in Brighton/Island Pond/Newport/News

BRIGHTON — A 52-year-old man from Island Pond was killed during a single-vehicle crash in Brighton on Saturday.

At around 7:30 p.m. police were notified of the crash, which took place along Route 105 near the intersection with Basil Hill.

The driver, identified as Nathan Wilcox, died as a result of the injuries sustained in the crash.

Police say Wilcox went off the road in a 1977 Jeep while attempting to negotiate a turn.

North Country Hospital and NVRH open new sleep clinic

in Health/News/Northeast Kingdom/St. Johnsbury

ST. JOHNSBURY — The Northern VT Center for Sleep Disorders held a grand opening and ribbon cutting of its new space in St. Johnsbury last week.

Local community members, as well as staff from North Country Hospital and Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH), enjoyed a summer afternoon at the entrance to the newly developed space.

The center is located in the Shippee Family Eye Care building at 468 Hospital Drive, St. Johnsbury.

Sleep center staff members proudly offered tours of the new space, which has the capacity for four sleep rooms and four examination/consult rooms.

Guests were able to meet with providers and learn about local sleep and pulmonary services.

Dr. Veronika Jedlovszky is the Medical Director and is board certified in Sleep and Pulmonology.

Other staff includes Dr. Weili Gray and nurse practitioner Danielle Speer, as well as sleep techs and registered polysomnographers.

Dr. Jedlovszky added that there is a long history of Newport providing sleep services to the Northeast Kingdom and beyond, having outgrown its space more than once.

The original sleep center began on the second floor of North Country Hospital in 1997 and is certified by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

“The comprehensive team can provide evaluation and treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, breathing and movement disorders, insomnia, restless legs syndrome, as well as narcolepsy,” Dr. Jedlovszky explained of the services. “Over the years, the sleep center has also provided services in Morrisville and St. Johnsbury. In 2010 a 2-bed sleep clinic was started at NVRH and since then has been outgrowing its space time and again.”

The Newport clinic at North Country Hospital will remain, and this new center opened officially on May 30 now adds capacity in the St. Johnsbury region.

Efforts are also underway to recruit an additional pulmonologist to work mostly at the St. Johnsbury site.

Leaders from the two organizations agreed that this type of collaboration is important to sustain specialized health care services in Northern Vermont because of cost and geography.

Bill Stenger fired by Jay Peak receiver following fraud indictment

in Jay Peak/Newport/News

NEWPORT — Bill Stenger was fired from his job as a consultant working for the receiver overseeing Jay Peak and related properties.

Michael I. Goldberg, the receiver for Jay Peak, made the announcement on Friday.

In a statement, Goldberg said Stenger’s termination should not be interpreted as an indication that “the receiver believes that William Stenger did anything wrong.”

He says the decision to terminate Stenger at this time is simply based on his opinion that it would not be appropriate to continue to retain him in light of the recent indictment.

Last week Stenger was in federal court in Burlington to plead not guilty to criminal charges alleging he conspired in a multi-year wire fraud scheme to defraud immigrant investors seeking green cards through the EB-5 program.

He was released after posting a $100,000 appearance bond.

As a consultant working for the receiver, Stenger was paid at a rate of $50 per hour and was allowed to use of an older model Volvo belonging to Jay Peak.

Goldberg says he wishes Bill Stenger and his family well in this difficult time.

After 174 years, the Stanstead Journal closes its doors

in News/Quebec/Stanstead

STANSTEAD, QC — The Stanstead Journal, an English weekly newspaper published since 1845 in Stanstead, Quebec, published its last weekly edition this week.

It was the oldest weekly newspaper in Quebec.

In Wednesday’s edition, the paper put out a notice stating that “it is no longer a viable business and no real government help is forthcoming.”

Publisher Jean-Yves Durocher noted that he still believes that the Stanstead community needs a “paper-based” news source, and says that subscribers will still be getting a paper product about 10 times per year.

The physical office on Dufferin Street will be closed to business starting June 3, and staff will be moving out of the building in July.

In the notice, Durocher said that the Stanstead Journal will slowly have a much better web presence over the next few months.

“We have also seen a shift in our core market, which is older as it is with all newspapers,” the notice reads. “While you would never see them with a phone or a tablet two years ago, this is not the case today.”

It’s still unclear as to how much energy the paper plans to put into its online efforts.

Currently, their website is dated and has very little content and no local news available online.

A subscription to the Stanstead Journal was $45 annually in Orleans County.

NorthWoods Stewardship 30th Anniversary Open House on June 8

in Charleston/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

EAST CHARLESTON — The NorthWoods Stewardship Center in East Charleston is celebrating three decades of environmental stewardship in the northeast with a 30th Anniversary Open House on June 8, 2019, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The event is open to the public and includes a free dinner, music by celebrated Celtic ensemble The Wind that Shakes the Barley, a video release, a silent auction featuring items from local businesses and artisans, and keynotes by local community leaders.

Join the staff and community as they look back on three decades of work, from the organization’s founding by Bill & Pat Manning as the Vermont Leadership Center, through the growth of education, youth conservation and land management programs, and the expansion of the campus to 1,500 acres of protected trails and demonstration forest.

Today, the Center employs local youth in conservation efforts in all 6 New England states, serves children throughout the NEK through their after-school and camp programs, and partners with federal, state and local agencies to provide ongoing trail, forestry, and watershed conservation work on public and private lands throughout the region.

All are welcome to attend this free event, located at 154 Leadership Drive, in East Charleston.

Truck thefts land Newport man 3-8 years behind bars

in Derby/Newport/News

NEWPORT — A 27-year-old man from Newport was sentenced to serve three to eight years behind bars for stealing two vehicles.

David Fletcher appeared in court for a sentencing hearing on May 16 after being convicted by a jury on felony charges of grand larceny, two counts of vehicle operation without owner consent, and a misdemeanor charges of careless or negligent operation.

Back on October 18, 2017, police responded to a report of a stolen truck from the Eastside restaurant. Hours later, police were dispatched to another report of a stolen truck from a home in Derby.

The victim in Derby told police that he had picked up two hitchhikers and gave them a ride back to what he believed to be their truck, which was partially submerged at the Derby Fish & Game Club pond.

He was unable to help them remove the vehicle from the pond, and dropped them off at the Border Motel.

Within the hour his truck was stolen.

Fletcher admitted to taking both vehicles on a cell phone video that was later turned over to police.

At the time that both crimes were committed, Fletcher was on furlough for burglary, and assault charges.

“The State requested a more significant jail sentence because of this defendant’s record and the fact that he was on furlough at the time of the offenses,” State’s Attorney Jennifer Barrett said. “The court imposed a sentence that deviated below the State and Department of Correction’s recommendations.”

Irasburg’s Leach Public Library to celebrate life and work of Howard Frank Mosher

in Arts and Entertainment/Irasburg/News/Northeast Kingdom

IRASBURG — The Leach Public Library in Irasburg will hold the third annual celebration of beloved Vermont author Howard Frank Mosher during an event at the library.

The gathering will take place at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 2, the 76th anniversary of his birth.

Howard Frank Mosher made his home in Irasburg until his death in 2017.

Many of Mosher’s books feature the fictional town of “Kingdom Common,” loosely modeled on Irasburg, with elements of Orleans and Newport.

In 2016, Mosher donated his personal book collection to the Leach Public Library, where he served as a longtime member of the board of trustees.

“It has become a tradition for us to celebrate our friend and neighbor Howard Frank Mosher on his birthday,” said Leach Library trustee Judith Jackson.

Refreshments, featuring some of Howard Frank Mosher’s favorites, will be served.

“It’s an opportunity to recognize anew his unique insight into the life and people of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, his affection for them, and ours for him,” Jackson added.

Allen Cubit to perform “Dichterliebe” in Newport with pianist Vivian Spates

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/News

NEWPORT — Locally renowned tenor Allen Cubit will present a special concert spotlighting Robert Schumann’s, Dichterliebe, on June 1, 2019, at 7:00 p.m. at the United Church of Newport.

He will be accompanied by the extraordinary pianist, Vivian Spates.

Cubit is well known professional tenor that has graced the stages in the Northeast Kingdom, Canada, and beyond.

He has sung with the Vermont Philharmonic, was a soloist in concert with the acclaimed John Weaver, one of America’s finest concert organist, as well as having sung with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and performed at the iconic Carnegie Hall.

There is something distinctive about the combination of classical music, romantic themes, and the tenor voice that evokes a sense of overwhelming joy. Robert Schumann is a genius as a composer/lyrist in this realm.

Dichterliebe is one of his best-known works and highlights the poetry of Heinrich Heine in a 16-song cycle which takes the singer and listeners on a journey of a person who is mourning lost love and overcoming the heartbreak that inevitably follows.


“This work is not just a soloist with an accompaniment, as Schumann himself was an accomplished pianist,” Cubit said. “We find a balanced interplay between voice and piano taking the themes and telling the story of love throughout the work.”

It is truly a full collaboration on the part of the artists. Spates is a featured and integral performer in the presentation.

The duo has been rehearsing for several months and will round out the evening’s concert with a cache of eclectic songs, including pieces by Beethoven, Donaudy and Carissimi.

“I enjoy the beauty of Schumann’s music and I am excited to share that beauty with my local community,” Cubit said.

The concert is free and open to the public, however, donations are greatly appreciated.

For more information cubitallen@gmail.com or Click here for the event page on Facebook.

Officer Lillis and K-9 Ozzy appear as characters in new crime novel

in Newport/News

NEWPORT — A few familiar faces appear as characters in a crime novel set in Newport that was recently published.

Officer Joshua Lillis and K-9 Ozzy made their debut as characters in “The Obsession,” written by Carol Kravetz.

Kravetz is an internationally published author, and her latest novel was published earlier this spring.

The novel is the fourth installment in Kravetz’s Bathville Books series.

As she was researching K-9 tracking for her book, Kravetz contacted Lillis to learn more.

He taught Kravetz all about the process of tracking with the help of a police dog, and the work he and K-9 Ozzy are trained to do to locate victims and suspects.

“This was a unique, fun opportunity to explain what K-9 Ozzy and I do when we work together, and to help Carol realistically portray what K-9 tracking actually looks like in her novel,” Officer Lillis said.

In addition to including Lillis and K-9 Ozzy as characters, the novel is set in the Newport, area.

“When I started communicating with Officer Lillis, outlining what I needed, he responded promptly with photos of Ozzy and advising he would love to help,” Kravetz said.

Kravetz says he answered a lot of questions and explained patiently and willingly the intricacies involved with tracking a victim or suspect, right down to getting a scent, locating the person, and how Ozzy will work tirelessly until told to stand down.

“He taught me a lot by showing me how important a K-9 team is and I can’t thank him enough for taking the time to help me bring that part of my story alive,” Kravetz said.

“Hopefully, when people read the book, they’ll understand a little more about K-9 tracking, all while enjoying the narrative Carol created,” Lillis added.

Quiros and Stenger indicted on fraud charges related to Jay Peak EB-5 projects

in Jay Peak/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan was in Newport today to announce that four people were charged with conspiring in a multi-year wire fraud scheme to defraud immigrant investors seeking green cards through the EB-5 program, among other charges.

Ariel Quiros, 63, William Kelly, 70, both of Florida, along with Jong Weon Choi, 58, of South Korea and William Stenger, 70, of Newport, were indicted by the federal grand jury on criminal charges in connection with their management of the Jay Peak Biomedical Research Park EB-5 investment project, also called the AnC Vermont project.

In addition to the wire fraud conspiracy count, the defendants face other charges, including six separate counts of wire fraud and various counts of concealing material facts or presenting false statements in a matter within the jurisdiction of a federal agency, namely United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which oversaw the EB-5 process.

Quiros is also charged with two counts of money laundering.

The indictment alleges that the defendants misrepresented facts to the SEC, which investigated the Jay Peak EB-5 offerings while the defendants were seeking new AnC investors.

A civil action by the SEC ended the defendants’ control of the EB-5 projects.

“As alleged in this indictment, this scheme defrauded hopeful immigrant investors in what may be the largest financial crime in our state history,” Nolan stated.

The defendants face a maximum penalty on the most serious charges of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine or twice the gross gain or loss, and restitution to the victims.

The indictment also alleges forfeiture against the defendants.

“This case is about greed and deceit,” James N. Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said. “The defendants’ broken business promises have left not only a physical scar on the city of Newport, but also an intangible scar on the promise of economic development for the Northeast Kingdom and on the dreams of many hopeful immigrants.”

The indictment alleges a scheme conceived in 2011 and carried through until the defendants lost control of the project in April 2016.

The AnC project was the seventh EB-5 project managed by Quiros and Stenger, but the first involving a business outside a ski resort.

The defendants designed the project to raise $110 million from immigrant investors in order to build and operate a biotechnology company, AnC Vermont, on a property in Newport.

From 2012 to 2016, the defendants obtained over $80 million from over 160 immigrant investors in the AnC project.

Under the EB-5 program created by Congress, immigrant investors could obtain green cards by investing $500,000 each in a United States business that would create ten jobs per investment.

Pursuant to federal law, the AnC project was regulated and monitored by USCIS and the Vermont Regional Center, a part of state government.

According to the indictment, the defendants’ scheme involved both secret embezzlement of immigrant investor funds and deceit about the AnC project’s jobs and revenue.

The defendants designed the project so that Quiros and Choi, who were secret partners, could siphon millions of dollars in investor funds into their pockets.

As the defendants raised investor money, Quiros used the money for his own purposes instead of using it to build the project.

The defendants then concealed this misuse of funds.

The indictment also charges that the defendants created a fraudulent AnC business plan based on a “party line” conceived to misrepresent the number of jobs that would be created by the project and the business revenue that would be generated from the project.

Marketing the project to immigrant investors depended on job creation and future revenue, since the defendants emphasized their ability to satisfy the job creation standards under EB-5 law and repay immigrant investors.

The indictment charges that the defendants devised job and revenue projections based on the number of jobs needed to obtain project approval from USCIS without regard to a viable plan to actually create those jobs or achieve those revenues.

AnC Vermont would supposedly rent clean rooms, market stem cell therapies, and manufacture artificial organs.

The defendants made fraudulent statements in regard to all three facets of the future business, in particular with regard to how soon the project would generate jobs and revenue.

Rather than disclose that they were creating a start-up business that would need large capital reserves to operate in the early stages, the defendants falsely represented that they had a plan where AnC Vermont would successfully market its products as soon as construction was complete.

In addition to the wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy charges, the indictment charges Quiros with two money laundering counts relating to two transactions where he used AnC investor funds for personal expenses, specifically a $6 million payment to the IRS and the purchase of a vehicle.

Further, the indictment contains five concealment or false statement counts.

First, it alleges that the defendants concealed from the Vermont Regional Center how Quiros used approximately $21 million in investor funds to pay off a loan unrelated to the AnC Vermont project.

Next, the indictment alleges that Quiros, Kelly, and Choi concealed that Choi was being investigated in Korea for financial crimes, and falsely represented that AnC Korea, a company they claimed would supply the technologies that AnC Vermont would market, was not in financial distress.

Finally, the indictment charges Stenger with presenting false documents and statements to the Vermont Regional Center.

One of these counts focuses on a misrepresentation by Stenger that he had followed the Regional Center’s direction to stop marketing the AnC project in mid- 2014.

The other charges as false a written presentation Stenger made to the Regional Center in January 2015 as he was seeking permission to continue recruiting investors for the AnC project.

Quiros, Kelly, and Stenger surrendered to the custody of the United States Marshals Service this morning and appeared for arraignment on the charges in federal court later today.

Choi remains at large.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Weekend! returns to Island Pond starting Friday

in Arts and Entertainment/Island Pond/Newport/Northeast Kingdom

ISLAND POND — The Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Weekend will take place in downtown Island Pond, this weekend, from May 24 – 27.

The weekend offers four days of non-stop events including a champagne reception, karaoke, spa services, Paint ‘n Sips and wine & cider tastings, Tai Chi & exercise classes, and a living history exhibit at the IPHS museum.

Nationally known comedian Bil Benden will kick-off the weekend on Friday night with his comedy show, Saturday night will feature the return of Men in Motion and Sunday night will feature the NEK’s first Drag Bingo tournament hosted by Emoji Nightmare & Nikki Champagne.

The weekend will wind up on Monday morning with their annual Memorial Day Parade.

The Island Pond Renewal Committee created the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Weekend in 2018 and it was a hit beyond all expectations.

People from as far away as Cape Cod flocked to Island Pond looking for the most fun ladies’ weekend in New England, and they found it.

Almost every event was sold out and all received rave reviews.

The committee has once again joined with all the downtown businesses to create an even bigger weekend full of events with something for everyone.

Friday starts with a champagne reception at the Essex House with champagne and hors d’oeuvres.

Members of the organizing team will be on hand to answer questions and make sure everybody is oriented to the locations of all the events.

Headlining Friday night’s entertainment will be comedian Bil Benden. He has worked with Drew Carey, Robert Schimmel, Tim Allen, and Ray Romano, in addition to many others.

He has also been featured on HBO, Comedy Central, A&E, and Fox.

He will bring his unique comedic style to the American Legion Brighton Post #80 stage and while this event is part of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!, it is open to everyone 21 years of age and older.

Friday night will end with karaoke at the Essex House featuring NEKaraoke.

Saturday starts off with a beginner Tai Chi class hosted by Brighton Recreation’s Director, Doug Niles.

Next, get the blood pumping with an invigorating cross training workout also instructed by Doug Niles.

The Hearth & Home Country Store will be hosting a wine tasting with 6 specially selected varieties.

Everyone’s favorite Paint ‘n Sip instructor Natalie Anne will be holding a Sap Bucket Paint ’n Sip at Hobo’s Cafe during the afternoon.

Jesse’s Little Kitchen will be offering their popular $2 off a large pizza special all weekend so the father’s left at home with the kids don’t need to cook.

Then it’s time for a little pampering at the Essex House & Tavern. Enjoy a chair massage from one of their licensed providers. Try out a set of Color Street nails as part of your manicure or a Henna by Kate tattoo. They will even be serving a light elegant snack provided by the Essex House.

Saturday night will be headlined by New England’s #1 male revue show, Men In Motion. Each of their shows are expertly designed, choreographed and created events with one goal in mind–the perfect girls’ night out.

The Essex House will be hosting a Wings, Brews & Tunes event so all the men won’t feel left out!

Sunday will start with a Morning After breakfast at Hobo’s Café followed by a Living History Exhibit at the Island Pond Historical Society Museum.

The Hearth & Home Country Store will be hosting a cider tasting featuring 6 specially selected varieties.

Natalie Anne will be back at the American Legion for a Barn Board Paint ‘n Sip.

Sunday will end with a bingo tournament like no other in the NEK. Emoji Nightmare & Nikki Champagne will be traveling from Burlington to host Drag Bingo at the American Legion.

This event will be a little bit campy and a whole lot of fun. In addition to laughs, cash prizes will be paid out to all winners.

Monday morning will feature the annual Memorial Day Parade in beautiful downtown Island Pond organized by the American Legion Brighton Post #80.

This event will honor those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Tickets may be purchased at http://Tickets.VisitIslandPond.com or in person at The Hearth & Home Country Store in downtown Island Pond.

Photo gallery: Dandelion Run raises over $1,000 for Umbrella

in Derby/Holland/Newport/News
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DERBY — On Saturday, about 150 runners, walkers, and bikers gathered at the Eleventh Annual Dandelion Run.

The event raised a little over $1,000 for Umbrella and its advocacy and support of victims of this kind of violence.

It was cold and cloudy with hardly a dandelion in sight, but that didn’t stop everyone as they celebrated the slow-coming of Spring in the Kingdom.

Participants took to the back roads and were joined by scores of high-spirited volunteers and musicians along the course and back at the Derby Beach House.

James Cilwik, 15, of Derby, was the overall winner of the Dandy Half Marathon with a blistering time of 1:22:15.

His time was less than three minutes shy of the course record of 1:19:29 set by Christian Vachon of Magog, Quebec back in 2013.

Cindy Chaffee, 56, of Barton, Vermont, won the Last One Back to the Barn Award finishing the Half Marathon in 3:28:25. 

Last Fall Chaffee registered for her very first half marathon after she suffered a serious injury in an accident. 

The most “mature” participant was Annette Pion, 79, of Colchester, and the youngest runner was Pip Dreher, 6, of Newport.

The biggest team of the day was the Community Circle Team fielded by Community National Bank, which underwrites The Dandy, and also staffs most of the support tables out on the course.

The largest youth team was the Canaan Boys Running Club, coached by David Herr. The team won ski tickets to Burke Mountain.

Also winning Burke tickets were “The Brownies” for fielding the “most fluid team” and the runners from our newest sponsor Barr Hill by Caledonia Spirits for fielding the “most high-spirited team.”

Caledonia Spirits Raw Honey was distributed to three teams, the Merry Macksters for being the largest out of state team, the Quebecsters for being the largest international team, and The Dartmouth Dandies for the love of the run.

Others were awarded prizes of Brault’s beef jerky, Couture’s maple syrup, Caledonia Spirits RAW Honey, as well as Burke Mountain ski passes.

Participants honored and remembered Terri Weed, who was killed by her boyfriend on May 21, 1981.

The Dandy is underwritten by Community National Bank and is supported by Jay Peak, Burke Mountain, Barr Hill at Caledonia Spirits, Untapped, Kingdom Trails, and the Derby Village Store.

Next year’s Dandy will be held on Saturday, May 23rd, 2020.

Kingdom Games hosts two more runs this year. The Harry Corrow Freedom Run on July 4, and Fly to Pie – Kingdom Marathon on September 29.

Online registration is open at www.kingdomgames.co

Newport woman arrested after pedestrian struck with van

in Newport/News/Orleans

NEWPORT — A 32-year-old woman from Newport is scheduled to appear in court today after she was arrested following an incident involving a vehicle and a pedestrian in the Waterfront Plaza area on Monday.

Police are saying that Monica Donofrio is facing a charge of “grossly negligently operating a motor vehicle with serious injury resulting.”

Yesterday, at approximately 7:45 p.m., police responded to the scene of the incident and say they found a 35-year-old Orleans woman on the ground behind a van.

She was conscious and alert but had suffered serious injuries.

The victim was taken by ambulance to the hospital and later airlifted to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire.

According to police, the victim was in serious but stable condition this morning.

After a preliminary investigation, police say that the driver of the vehicle, identified as Donofrio, had been confronted by the victim and another woman, who had become concerned when they observed that she had left her four children inside the van while she went into a store.

Prior to the crash, the two women were in the process of calling the police.

Donofrio was booked and is expected to be arraigned in court today.

According to police, her children were taken into the custody of a family member after the incident, and the Department of Children and Families was notified.

Police: Barton man arrested with 60 bags of heroin

in Barton/Newport/News

NEWPORT — Police say a 29-year-old man from Barton was arrested in Newport with 60 bags of heroin inside his vehicle.

According to police, Jordan Medley is currently facing charges of possession of heroin and violation of conditions of release.

At around 1:00 p.m. on May 16, police say they stopped Medley on Central Street for a number of motor vehicle violations.

At the time, Medley was taken into custody as a result of an ongoing investigation by the Newport Police Department.

According to the report, police located 60 bags of heroin in the truck.

Medley is currently on several active pre-trial conditions of release and was found to be in violation of three of those conditions.

He was lodged at the Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport.

Local nurses honored at annual dinner

in Health/Newport/News

NEWPORT — Every year at North Country Hospital, nurses nominate their peers for one of four special awards.

This year awards were given to Kim Blanchard for customer service, Angela Coblentz for professional growth, Chelsea Hamel for community, and Marie Dumas for quality.

These accolades were all revealed at the nurses week dinner on May 7 at the East Side Dancing Sail Banquet Room.

President of the Medical Staff, Dr. Umair Malik, kicked off the evening.

“We docs wouldn’t be able to keep our jobs without the obvious commitment and compassion our nurses demonstrate each and every day,” Dr. Malik said.

North Country Hospital nurses say they appreciate the continuous competence and caring demonstrated, and noted many of these traits on their nomination forms for the Nursing Excellence Awards.

Kim Blanchard, LPN, North Country Primary Care in Newport, was honored for an extraordinary commitment to customer service, evident in her interaction with patients.

The hospital says Blanchard is kind and compassionate during visits and never hesitates to assist any patient in any way she can, always with a smile and positive interaction.

Angela Coblentz, RN, Emergency Department, was honored for her commitment to professional growth that is evident in the ways she has pursued increasing her nursing knowledge and skills.

She completed her BSN while working full time and picking up extra shifts, became a member of the Transport Team, become a Holter Monitor super-user and took the initiative to complete other classes on her own.

Chelsea Hamel, RN, has worked countless hours outside of work time with her co-workers to organize raising $8,000 for the 3rd Annual Penny Sale and Silent Auction to benefit the hospital’s oncology fund.

For the past three years, the fundraiser has become more and more successful and this has helped the community in many ways.

Hamel participates in the planning of many office activities, regardless of the cause.

Marie Dumas, an RN in the Intensive Care Unit, is continually updating her practice to reflect current nursing standards.

She recently co-presented an in-service to other nurses and LNAs related to the updated Sepsis guidelines. She personally has pushed others to stay current with their practice and is always available to field any questions others have.

“I know you are incredibly engaged with your patients, your units, your professional lives, and your own communities and families,” Vice President of Patient Care Services, Avril Cochran said. “We may all do different things every day in our areas of expertise, but one thing always remains, our patients are our number one priority.”

Hospital and practice nurses receiving more advanced degrees in the past year include:

Heidi Hawkins, Avril Cochran, Alexandra Peters, Jessica Gaudreau, Ashlee Daigle, Angela Coblentz, Abby Provost, Lyndsay Sykes, Debra Beauchesne, Lindsey Gaboriault, Ann-Marie Dohn, and Lindy Perry.

Newport awarded $85,000 for intersection improvement project

in Newport/News

NEWPORT — The Vermont Downtown Development Board recently allocated over $600,000 in grants to improve eight downtown areas, and some of this money is going to support sidewalk improvements in Newport.

Newport is set to receive $85,000 for safety improvements to one of downtown Newport’s busiest intersections, a priority identified in the recently completed Downtown and Waterfront Master Plan.

Money from the grant will be used to address the Fyfe, Main, and Second Street intersections.

The project includes extending the curbing and installing “rapid flashing beacons” at the intersection.

Fyfe will be slightly widened to accommodate delivery trucks, and the municipal lot will see some changes as well.

The one-way parking on Second Street will be flipped to allow better intersection alignment.

City officials say they expect work to start late in the summer-autumn months.

Eagle Point in Derby ranked one of Vermont’s top 10 birding hotspots

in Derby/Newport/News/Outdoors
Great Blue Heron at Eagle Point. Photo by Doug Gimler.

NEWPORT — With the arrival of longer days and warmer temperatures, Vermont’s bird lovers are looking to the fields and woods for a flit of color in the bushes or listening for an overhead chirp, whistle, squawk or honk as birds engage in their annual spring migration.

Some of Vermont’s best bird-watching opportunities are at the state’s 99 wildlife management areas, or WMAs.

Eagle Point in Derby was recently recognized by Vermont Fish & Wildlife as of the top 10 birding hotspots in the State.

Eagle Point WMA is a 420-acre parcel located along the eastern shore of Lake Memphremagog on the United States-Canada border.

The WMA is located approximately five miles north of Newport City on the Eagle Point Road.

The property consists of nearly a mile of lakeshore habitat, numerous wetlands, large meadows, hemlock, and mixed forest.

It supports a great diversity of wildlife including aquatic mammals, waterfowl, grassland birds, and many other wetland and terrestrial species.

Eagle Point WMA is an important waterfowl production and migration
area, particularly for black ducks, mallards, and wood ducks.

It’s also an important grassland bird production area.

Short hay crop rotations and habitat loss to development throughout Vermont elevate the importance of the 200+ acres of grassland habitat on the WMA.

Grassland species include bobolink, savannah sparrow, field sparrow, and possibly vesper sparrow.

Also present are a variety of raptors including the northern harrier, osprey, bald eagle, kestrel, red-tailed hawk, barred and great horned owls.

Eagle Point also provides excellent opportunities to see a variety of wetland and marsh species.

Herons, bitterns, snipe, pied-billed grebes, rails, common moorhens, and marsh wrens make up a large portion of the species you will most likely encounter in the marshes of the WMA.

Visit https://www.nekwildlifephoto.com for more photos like the one above from Eagle Point taken by photographer Doug Gimler.

Road Closure: Route 105 in Newport Center starting May 20

in Newport/News

NEWPORT — The Vermont Agency of Transportation will be closing Route 105 in Newport Center for 4 days starting May 20 through May 23.

In order to replace a failing culvert, the AOT will be closing the road approximately 3.6 miles west of the VT100 intersection, between Bear Mountain Road and the Perrault Farm.

The road will be closed to all traffic, including motor vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians.

Travelers should look for detour signage and take alternate routes around the closure.

Nearly 400 students show up for North Country Hospital’s Teddy Bear Clinic

in Health/Newport/News

NEWPORT — It’s been a busy week at the hospital, as visiting kindergartners and first graders have been getting their favorite stuffed animals weighed and immunized at the Teddy Bear Clinic.

Nearly 400 students from 15 schools in the two local supervisory unions marched proudly with their buddies into North Country Hospital.

Multiple stations provided education and care, including the emergency department and the ambulance bay.

Students learned about summertime safety and the mechanics of the skeleton.

This year, thanks to Glover and Newport EMT services, visiting students even saw firsthand the operation of an ambulance.

Police looking for suspect after Dollar General in North Troy broken into

in Newport/News/North Troy

NORTH TROY — Police responded to an alarm at the Dollar General in North Troy early this morning.

The call came in at around 1:00 a.m.

When they arrived at the location on East Main Street, police say they discovered that the store had been forcefully entered and items inside were scattered around.

The store was cleared by troopers.

Video surveillance footage indicated a single male, wearing a red jacket, gloves, and a face covering, forcefully entered the store, placed items in a bag, and left the store through the same place he entered.

A state police canine was used in an attempt to track the suspect but he was not located.

Anyone with information about this incident is being asked to contact State police at 334-8881.

Letter: The daily struggles of finding a reliable internet connection by Katherine Sims

in Letter to the Editor

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time in a bathroom. It’s not what you’re thinking.

I hang out in the basement bathroom of a Greensboro church for the fast internet. And I’m thankful for Spark, the new co-working space close to my house, for providing the space — now used just for calls — where I know I can participate in video conferences, a big part of my job.

There’s a tech company co-founder I know who takes turns with his wife uploading data files from their home office. A local librarian pays two service providers for when one inevitably goes out. A doctor has to rent a better-connected second office for telemedicine. The internet in most of the Northeast Kingdom, and other rural parts of Vermont, simply does not support modern life.

People patch it together. But we know it’s a drag on our economy and it drives young people away. If these weren’t big enough problems, there are more on the horizon.

Soon, fast, reliable and affordable internet will be like electricity — needed for basic safety and health. My new hot water heater lets me monitor its performance and change settings over Wifi. Renewing a driver’s license is much easier online. My doctor’s office encourages making appointments and requesting refills over the Web. Eventually, this will be the only way it’s done.

All Vermonters deserve access to this essential resource. And it’s clear by now that large communications companies won’t solve this for us. There’s not enough money to be made.

The big leaps in service lately have come from communities banding together or partnering with small providers. Craftsbury, where I live, just built its own 13-mile fiber network using federal grants. The percentage of buildings in town with access to true broadband speeds went from 8 percent to almost half.

The Vermont House overwhelmingly approved a bill in March to provide more funding for community-owned and public/private broadband projects like this one. But, with adjournment looming, it appears stuck in the Senate Finance committee. I hope Senate leaders understand how important this issue is to their rural constituents.

We can’t afford to wait another year – and I’d really like to get out of the bathroom.

A version of this commentary aired on VPR on 5/2/19, Listen here.

North Country Pediatrics in Newport recognized for high immunization rates

in Health/Newport/News
The High Immunization Rates Certificate of Achievement was presented, left to right: Addie Atwood, RN, Leah Rogers, Practice Manager, Julie Barr, Patient Services Coordinator, Jim Biernat, RN, VT Department of Health, Alexandra Bannach, MD, Thomas Harvey, RN, VT Department of Health, Donna Chesney, Patient Services Coordinator and Carol Leigh, RN

NEWPORT — Last week during Infant Immunization Week, the Vermont Department of Health made its way around the state to 25 pediatric practices, recognizing them for the work they have done to increase child immunization rates.

North Country Pediatrics in Newport excelled for the second year by making sure as many patients as possible received their necessary immunizations.

For a medical practice to receive recognition, at least 90 percent of its child patients must be up to date with immunizations for 11 vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles, mumps, and whooping cough.

This is a significant accomplishment, with current reports of a measles outbreak nationwide.

“The providers and staff at these 25 practices deserve recognition and praise for their hard work protecting children who are at their most vulnerable age,” said Vermont’s Immunization Program Director Christine Finley.

Newport was fortunate to have Jim Biernat, RN, who is also a North Country Hospital trustee, help present the award to Alexandra Bannach, MD and staff.

MAC Center for the Arts presents Gabe Tempesta Selected Paintings

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/News

NEWPORT — MAC Center for the Arts presents Gabe Tempesta’s solo Exhibition entitled Selected Paintings with an opening reception on Friday, May 24, 2019, from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. in the MAC’s Downstairs Connection.

The opening is free and open to the public.

To highlight Tempesta in his own words:

“Being born and raised in the Vermont landscape has given rise to the current scope of my artwork. I am continually inspired by the natural landscape while exploring at home or while traveling and look to capture and celebrate that with my paintings. My formal education is from Montserrat College of Art where I studied illustration. After training and pursuing a career as an illustrator as a matter of practicality for ten years I felt an urge for more creative freedom in the form of fine-art landscape and wildlife painting.


My black and white paintings have evolved from a charcoal and watercolor mixture to oil paint. I recently switched to oil paint in order to more easily mimic the lens effects of photography. I love the process of capturing an image through a camera lens with pixels then bringing it to life by hand with paint. Early on I considered pursuing photography as a career until this was superseded by my passion for drawing and painting. Now I feel I have come to a balance between the two.
I leave out the color in my paintings in order to focus on composition, form, and contrast and to engage in a more simple and direct creative process. I strive to create a fresh approach to traditional landscape painting where I look for dynamic vantage points in which to portray common features of the landscape and the wildlife within it. I want the viewer to be familiar with what they see but to get the feeling that they ‘haven’t quite seen it like that before.”

The exhibit will continue through Saturday, June 22, 2019, and can be seen from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during regular business hours.

For more information visit www.maccenterforthearts.com or call 802-334-1966.

Seven people arrested illegally entering the U.S. in Derby Line

in Derby Line/Newport/News

DERBY LINE — Six people who authorities say entered the U.S. illegally in Derby Line, and the driver who picked them up, were arrested on Wednesday.

According to the criminal complaint, on the evening of May 1, agents at the Newport Border Patrol station learned that a group of people were entering the United States from Canada on foot, near an area known as Goodall Farm.

Agents in the area say they observed six individuals huddled together in a wooded area near the border.

Shortly thereafter, they say an SUV drive up to the group. The vehicle stopped and the six individuals got in. The vehicle was later pulled over.

Authorities say the driver was identified as Francisco Alejo-Medrano, 27, a citizen of Mexico.

The six passengers were all determined to be undocumented Mexican citizens.

All seven people in the vehicle were arrested.

Alejo-Medrano appeared in court yesterday on a charge that he unlawfully transported a group of people entering the United States illegally.

U.S. District Judge Christina Reiss ordered that Alejo-Medrano be detained pending further proceedings.

According to court records, the six passengers are being charged with unlawfully entering the United States.

If convicted, Alejo-Medrano faces up to five years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.

Circle K in Barton robbed

in Barton/News

BARTON — The Circle K in Barton was robbed late Tuesday night.

Police responded to the robbery at around 11:45 p.m.

According to the report, the suspect entered the store threatening that he had a weapon and demanded that the store clerk hand over the money from the cash register.

The suspect is described as a Caucasian male, approximately 5’6” to 6’ tall with a medium build and possibly in his mid to late 20s.

He was wearing a dark colored hooded sweatshirt which covered his face and dark colored pants.

After receiving an undisclosed amount of money the offender fled the scene on foot.

Anyone with information regarding this case is being asked to contact the call 802-334-8881.

Newport police charge two after high-speed chase in stolen SUV

in Newport/News

NEWPORT — Police arrested two people yesterday after they allegedly led police on a high-speed chase in a stolen SUV.

According to the report, Justin Morgan, 27, of Newport, was charged with aggravated operation without owners consent, attempting to elude, grossly negligent operation, excessive speed, attempted aggravated assault on a police officer, recklessly endangering another person, and possessing stolen property.

Carrie Tetreault, 32, of Sheffield, was charged with aggravated operation without the owner’s consent.

Police say they were tipped off on Monday that a white 2016 Toyota Rav4 had been stolen and was likely being operated by Tetreault.

Officers were working a detail on Glen Road when they saw the vehicle at approximately 12:26 p.m, which they identified by its license plate.

Newport Police say that they knew Morgan and recognized him as the driver of the vehicle.

When police attempted to perform a motor vehicle stop, the vehicle allegedly took off at a high rate of speed after initially pulling over.

According to a statement issued by police:

“The vehicle sped through a construction zone in the road, endangering the lives of workers, one of whom was placing cones and signs in the roadway. The vehicle almost struck Sheriff Kirk Martin, who was deploying spike strips at the intersection of Fern Street and Glen Road, but the vehicle swerved onto a lawn. The SUV reached speeds in excess of 90 miles per hour and nearly struck a pedestrian walking his dog on West Echo Lake Road.”

Police say after the vehicle got stuck in the mud on Sanderson Hill Road, Morgan and Tetreault led on foot.

They were tracked by police with the assistance of K-9 Ozzy and placed under arrest after they were found running behind a residence on Route 5A.

“This was a dangerous incident involving two people fleeing from police in a stolen car who were willing to endanger the lives of pedestrians, road workers and police officers,” Chief DiSanto said.

Morgan was held on $2,500 bail at Northern State Correctional Facility.

Tetreault was released on the condition that she appear in court for arraignment.

The suspects were scheduled to be arraigned in Orleans District Court today.

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