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Aquafest kicks off this Saturday in Newport

in Newport/News
Photo by Tanya Mueller.

NEWPORT — The summer event Aquafest will be swimming through international Lake Memphremagog and Newport this Saturday, July 27.

Aquafest is a community tradition and brings together many community partners.

One of the highlights of this year’s parade is the JeKulu Dance and Drum Theater. A traditional West African Performance and educational ensemble bringing the Spirit of West African Music and Dance to New England since 1993.

“Here in Newport, lake is life,” local resident and Parks and Recreation Director Jessica Booth said. “Some might say that Lake Memphremagog is our identity here in the city. Aquafest is an opportunity for us to celebrate all the things that make life on the shoreline so special.”

The schedule is as follows:

5:30 a.m. Kingdom Swim Begins // Prouty Beach
9:00 a.m. Newport Farmers Market //Gardner Park
10:00 a.m. Blue Art Exhibit Opens // Mac Center
10:00 a.m. Joshua House Benefit Yard Sale // 44 2nd Street
1:00 p.m. Aquafest Parade // Main Street
3:00 p.m. Cornhole Tournament // Gardner Park
7:00 p.m. Street Dance – Last Kid Picked // Main Street

“Aquafest is another fantastic Newport event celebrating the beautiful lake we live on and our community,” local entrepreneur Hannah Cornelius said. “It gets everyone together and reminds us who our neighbors are and that we are all in this together.”

AARP awards $24K Community Challenge Grant to the city of Newport

in Newport/News

NEWPORT — AARP recently announced that the city of Newport is one of the awardees for its 2019 AARP Community Challenge grant program.

The city will receive $24,172.35 for the Prouty Beach connector project, which is expected to contribute to Newport’s development of an outdoor recreational economy.

By connecting two established segments of recreational trails, the trail will form a 7-mile waterfront recreational corridor that will connect downtown Newport to the Canadian border, where it will link to a series of high-use recreational trails.

This recreational corridor should increase pedestrian and biking traffic into downtown, helping to promote business growth.

“We are very pleased to direct resources to these projects as a way to support and encourage local community development initiatives aimed at creating more livable, engaging and healthy communities,” said Kelly Stoddard-Poor, community outreach director at AARP Vermont.

The Community Challenge grant program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative which helps communities become great places to live for residents of all ages.

“There were a number of really exciting proposals to consider this year and it was a difficult selection process,” Stoddard-Poor said. “We look forward to watching these projects come to fruition.”

Truck stolen, damaged in Barton

in Barton/Glover/Newport/News

BARTON — Police say someone took a truck for a joy ride in Barton, causing substantial damage to the vehicle.

At some point on Saturday night, someone stole a truck owned by 62-year-old Paul Labrecque of Barton.

Labrecque’s vehicle, a 2015 Chevy truck, was taken from his driveway located on Glover Road.

Police say the subjects caused substantial damage to the truck and returned it in the early morning hours on Sunday.

According to the report, another vehicle parked in the driveway was gone through and change stolen from inside.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Vermont State Police.

Police are reminding the public to lock vehicles and do not leave keys inside while unattended.

Bonvechio promoted to Executive Vice President and CFO at Community National Bank

in Derby/Newport/News

DERBY — Community National Bank President and CEO Kathy Austin recently announced the promotion of Louise Bonvechio to Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Cashier and Corporate Secretary of Community National Bank and Treasurer and Corporate Secretary of Community Bancorp.

Bonvechio has worked for Community National Bank for over 25 years.

“Louise is very deserving of this promotion as she competently manages all aspects of the Bank’s fiscal functions while providing outstanding leadership for the organization,” Austin said.

This year she completed the Stonier Graduate School of Banking and earned a Leadership Certificate from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Bonvechio is very involved in serving the local communities.

She is Board Chair of Rural Edge, a Director and Treasurer of the Emory Hebard State Office Building Condo Association and a member of the ReNewport Catamount Arts Creative Hub committee.

She recently served as a Trustee and Treasurer of the Goodrich Memorial Library and chaired the ReNewport Community Visit, a Vermont Council on Rural Development program.

Other recently held positions include a member of the Regional Advisory Board for the North Country Career Center and a member of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston’s Member Advisory Panel.

Bonvechio was presented with the Vermont Bankers Association’s Outstanding Community Service Banker Award in 2017.

She and her husband Brian make their home in Newport.

Larry Labor receives prestigious honor

in Health/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Longtime local pharmacist and retiree of North Country Hospital Larry Labor, BS, RPh, has been officially named a Legend as part of the Legends Scholarship program at North Country Hospital.

Created in 2010 to honor exceptional and legendary healthcare professionals, The Legends Scholarship program is dedicated to serving the needs of our community, and of local students pursuing a career in healthcare.

Legends are nominated by their peers and the criteria include individuals who have provided outstanding care, whether it be clinical or non-clinical. For decades, they have contributed greatly to the patient-centered culture at North Country Hospital and the impact they’ve made has been positive and significant.

Pharmacy Technician, Bonnie Davis, spearheaded this nomination, and read a moving nomination letter at the official ceremony Thursday.

His honorary plaque of Stewardship will hang alongside the other Legends of North Country.

It was clear at the ceremony that Labor considers the hospital his second family.

“Through the decades of service, I have had the privilege of working with the finest providers, as well as forward-thinking trustees and I am honored to have had this opportunity.”

Other North Country Hospital Legends include Merrilyn Barry, Dr. Robert Trembley, Dr. David Alsobrook, Dr. Thomas A.E. Moseley, and Cecile Gelineau, RN, who had the idea of creating a new healthcare scholarship fund.

Those who wish to honor Larry Labor and North Country’s Legends by donating to the Legends Scholarship Fund can send contributions to:

North Country Hospital, Attn: Wendy Franklin, Development/Foundation Office, 189 Prouty Drive, Newport, VT 05855

Or, by visiting www.northcountryhospital.org/make-a-donation/.

Extreme heat and humidity expected across Vermont Friday and Saturday

in Uncategorized

NEWPORT — The hottest air of the 2019 summer season so far is expected to impact Vermont starting Friday and into the weekend.

Temperatures are forecast to be in the upper 80s to low-mid 90s with high humidity, making it feel like 100 degrees or more.

These conditions create a serious risk for dangerous and sometimes deadly heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke.

During last summer’s six-day heatwave, four Vermont deaths were associated with the heat, and there were 15 times more heat-related emergency department visits than normal.

The National Weather Service and Vermont health and emergency management officials want people to know how to stay safe as the thermometer climbs.

During hot weather, your body’s temperature control systems can have a hard time keeping up, and your temperature can get dangerously high.

It’s important to drink more fluids than usual and to take extra breaks in the shade or cool indoor locations.

Certain people are at a higher risk of heat-related illness. People who work or exercise outdoors, as well as older adults, infants, and young children, should take extra precautions.

People who are overweight, have a chronic medical condition, are taking certain medications, or are using drugs or alcohol are also at special risk.

Watch for symptoms of heat illness, including muscle cramps, heavy sweating, nausea, headache or light-headedness.

Most heat illnesses can be treated with fluids and by resting in a cooler place.

If symptoms persist or get worse, or someone you are with seems confused or loses consciousness, dial 9-1-1 and get immediate medical help.

Derby man held without bail after alleged assault

in Derby/Newport/News

NEWPORT — Police say they arrested a habitual sex offender earlier this week after he allegedly assaulted a local woman.

Timothy Souliere, 56, of Derby, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with lewd and lascivious conduct, unlawful restraint, simple assault, and habitual offender.

He was arraigned yesterday in Orleans District Court and was held without bail.

On Tuesday, July 16, police say a woman reported that she had been attacked by Souliere on July 11, in a hallway of an apartment building on Governor Drive.

Police say Souliere was known to the woman.

According to a statement issued by police relating to the incident, an investigation indicates that Souliere assaulted the victim while she was walking to her apartment.

Souliere is a registered sex offender and is on the Vermont Sex Offender Registry for life.

He is a habitual offender with two felony convictions of lewd and lascivious conduct in Vermont as well as a felony conviction of sexual assault in Arizona.

Emerald Ash Borer detected in Derby Line

in Derby Line/Newport/News

DERBY LINE — The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has confirmed that insects collected from ash trees in Derby Line are emerald ash borers (EAB).

This is the first detection in Orleans County.

Landowners and other residents of Derby and surrounding towns are urged to look for signs and symptoms of the insect and report suspicious findings on vtinvasives.org.

Based on tree symptoms, EAB had already spread to this location before it was first detected in Vermont last year.

Although this is a new location in Vermont, the Coaticook and Memphremagog Regional County Municipalities, due north of Orleans County in Quebec, have been part of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s EAB regulated area since January 2018.

EAB is likely to be present in other locations within ten miles of known infestations.

In addition to Derby, this area includes Newport City and Holland, and parts of Newport Town, Coventry, Charleston, Brownington, Morgan, and Norton.

Moving any infested material, especially ash firewood, logs, and pruning debris, can quickly expand the infestation.

One important recommendation is to obtain firewood locally.

Authorities say if you’re going camping this summer to leave your firewood at home.

It is still illegal to bring untreated firewood from out of state into Vermont.

EAB larvae kill ash trees by tunneling under the bark and feeding on the part of the tree that moves water and sugars up and down the trunk.

It was first discovered in North America in the Detroit area in 2002, and over the past seventeen years, it has decimated ash populations.

EAB is known to occur in 35 states and five Canadian provinces.

Orleans man pleads guilty in moose poaching case

in Newport/News/Westmore

NEWPORT — An Orleans man who dragged a cow moose eight miles behind his truck after shooting it in a Westmore hay field, has pleaded guilty to multiple charges.

Authorities say 22-year-old Gerin Fortin was in Orleans Superior Court on June 26 where he pled guilty to taking a moose in closed season and taking a moose by illegal means.

Several other related charges were dismissed.

Fortin admitted shooting a cow moose in September of 2017 in a remote Westmore hay field using the headlights of his truck.

Using his truck, he dragged the moose 8 miles over pavement to the outskirts of Orleans before abandoning the moose to rot.

Fortin was sentenced to serve 60 days on state work crew, plus probation, ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution, ordered to attend alcohol counseling, and he was ordered to forfeit the firearm he used.

Fortin also lost his privilege to hunt, fish and trap for three years in Vermont and all member states of the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact.

The truck used to drag the moose was repossessed by a lienholder.

Chief Warden Col. Jason Batchelder credits the public’s help in bringing this case to a close.

“Many of the fish and wildlife violation cases investigated by Vermont State Game Wardens come from members of the public who care enough to provide information,” Batchelder said. “You can help by reporting a violation with a phone call to a State Police radio dispatcher, or anonymously by calling the Operation Game Thief phone.”

The toll-free Operation Game Thief line is 1-800-752-5378.

Orleans County residents named to Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Westfield/Westmore

NEWPORT — The Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame recently announced the 2019 inductees. Now in its 17th year, the Hall has inducted 80 Vermonters to date.

Joanna Samuelson Lidback, of The Farm at Wheeler Mountain in Westmore, was inducted as a merging leader, and Jack and Anne Lazor, of Butterworks Farm in Westfield, were inducted for lifetime achievement.

Emerging Leader: Stepping Up to Become the Next Generation of Leaders (age 40 and under) Joanna Samuelson Lidback, Westmore

Lidback is a farmer, agricultural business consultant, 4-H volunteer, and family farm advocate.

Together with her husband Adam, she owns The Farm at Wheeler Mountain, a family dairy farm located in Westmore.

Lidback earned a BS in Applied Economics and Business Management from Cornell, and an MBA from Babson F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business. She is currently employed as Business Consultant for Yankee Farm Credit.

In this role, she helps dairy farmers with the challenges of developing business, estate, and succession plans.

Her love of farming extends well beyond the boundaries of Vermont. She is a Board Member with the Global Farmer Network – a non-profit advocacy group led by farmers from around the world.

She has also testified on behalf of Vermont farmers before the US House and Agriculture Committee and Senate Agriculture Committee in Washington, D.C.

Lidback was honored by the American Jersey Cattle Association with the Young Jersey Breeder Award in 2016. S

She was an active member of the Agri-Mark Young Cooperators Program and served as a YC Representative from 2012-2015.

She is also active in the Vermont Farm Bureau and currently serves as First Vice President of the Orleans County Farm Bureau.

She and Adam are raising three young children together on the family farm.

Lifetime Achievement: 30+ Years of Outstanding Service to Vermont Agriculture, Jack and Anne Lazor, Westfield

Jack and Anne Lazor began farming in 1976. For more than forty years, they have built a reputation for producing outstanding organic yogurt, stewarding the land, and advocating for organic agriculture.

Their Butterworks Farm grass-fed yogurt is sold in nearly 80 groceries and coops across Vermont and in neighboring states.

Together with a dedicated team, they produce some of the finest organic yogurt available.

Anne and Jack have been a steadfast team in farming, family, and life.

Jack is a teacher and a member of the “Agrarian Elders,” a group of twenty-four pioneers considered to be the founders of organic agriculture in the U.S.

Over the years, both he and Anne have devoted themselves to teaching the next generation of farmers how to raise animals, steward the land, and produce products ethically and sustainably.

Farming is a family affair for the Lazors, who raised their daughter, Christine, together at Butterworks.

Today, the Lazors enjoy sharing their love of agriculture, and Butterworks Farm, with their grandchildren.

Man facing numerous charges after bizarre incident at Lakehouse Saloon in Barton

in Barton/Newport/News

BARTON — An East Haven man is facing a slew of charges following an incident at the Lakehouse Saloon in Barton early this morning.

Police say 51-year-old Benjamin Clarke is being charged with aggravated assault on law enforcement, disarming law enforcement officer, impeding public officer, criminal threatening, aggravated assault, unlawful mischief, aggravated disorderly conduct, unlawful trespass, and resisting arrest.

According to police, Clarke entered the bar around midnight and was asked to leave by the bouncers.

Police say he refused and began throwing pool balls at patrons inside the bar, striking one man in the face with them.

He was taken outside by the bouncers where he produced a knife and began threatening them and the other patrons at the bar.

According to the report, Clarke stated several times he was going to blow up the towns of Barton and St. Johnsbury.

He then crawled across the parking lot and slashed a woman’s tire.

Shortly after slashing the tire, police arrived on the scene.

The bouncers told police that they believed Clarke had taken several doses of LSD or PCP.

Police say Clarke began to attack them on the scene by punching a trooper in the head, attempting to disarm the trooper, and threatening to kill them.

Clarke was ultimately taken into custody and transported to North Country Hospital for treatment and evaluation.

He was remanded to the custody of Vermont Corrections however remained at North Country Hospital for evaluation.

He was held on lack of $75,000.00 bail.

Police looking for dirt bike rider

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — The Orleans County Sheriff’s Department is seeking the public’s help identifying the operator of a red Honda dirt bike that took off from law enforcement today.

Police say at approximately 1:00 p.m. the operator took off from police and “showed no regard for the lives of anyone else on the trail system.”

Police say he was in a group with a new style blue Polaris RZR 1000 Turbo, a red Polaris 4-wheeler, and a red CF-Moto UTV.

According to police, information gathered suggest the individuals may live near the Johnson area.

Anyone with information is being asked to contact the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department.

Holland awarded grant to study future use of school building

in Holland/Newport/News

HOLLAND — The town of Holland was awarded $15,950 in state Municipal Planning Grant funds for a feasibility study for the future use of the Holland School building.

The grant and resources it allows the town to access will help to examine up to three scenarios for the future use of the building.

The town is seeking a sustainable option that will retain its function as an emergency shelter and a center for community life.

Alternatives to be considered may include, but are not limited to:

1. A cultural center with an educational component that would utilize existing classrooms.

2. A small business incubator that can utilize the commercial-grade kitchen and the highest internet speed available in the area.

3. Town offices and town garage on one site.

4. Housing with a community room.

Holland was one of 29 projects funded through the Department of Housing and Community Development for this project.

70-year-old sets records in 25-mile Lake Memphremagog swim

in Magog/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — On Monday, 70-year-old Dan Shub of Baltimore, MD, swam the 25-mile length of Lake Memphremagog, between Newport, Vermont, and Magog, Quebec, or, as it’s also known, “In Search of Memphre.”

He is the oldest person to complete this 25-mile swim.

He entered the water at 11:22 p.m. on Sunday, July 7, 2019, at the EastSide Restaurant in Newport, and exited at Park de Baie-du-Magog on July 8, at 8:33 p.m.

Shub also set the record for the longest time in the water to successfully complete the distance, at 21 hours and 11 minutes.

He is the 36th person to complete “the Search” since the swim was started in 2011 on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 by Elaine Kormbau Howley and Phil White, to promote a more open border by re-opening the lake to international swimming.

This year, Dan dedicated his swim to the Lost Children.

At a young age, Shub became a cancer survivor, which led him into an active lifestyle as a triathlete and long-distance open water swimmer.

He has participated in many swims in the Northeast Kingdom, including two 25 km Border Busters at Kingdom Swim and last year’s July Expeditionary Search, in which he was beaten back by high winds in his face, but only after he had completed 16 miles of very tough swimming.

He was among 5 others who failed to complete that day, while only 2 made it to the finish.

This year, he returned to finish business.

Vermont expands Stay to Stay Weekends to include Newport

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — The Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing announced the expansion of its Stay to Stay Weekends to now include Newport.

Stay to Stay is an economic development tourism program launched as a pilot last year, that has successfully relocated over a dozen people from across the country to Vermont.

Newport will host Stay to Stay Weekends on July 26-29, and December 13-16.

“The Stay to Stay Weekends will help build broader national awareness of the Northeast Kingdom as an exceptional place to not just play, but also live and work,” said Wendy Knight, Tourism and Marketing Commissioner.

The 3-day networking weekends are for out-of-state visitors interested in living full-time in Vermont.

Weekends begin with a Friday evening reception hosted by a local chamber of commerce or young professional’s network.

Saturday and Sunday offer unstructured opportunities to explore the region and get a glimpse into living in the community.

On Monday, guests meet with employers, tour the area with a realtor, or visit an incubator/co-working space to meet with entrepreneurs and professionals.

The Stay to Stay Weekends in Newport will also include Monday morning visits to local childcare centers to demonstrate the region’s appeal to young families.

“We need to grow Vermont’s workforce, it’s the crux of every challenge and cornerstone of every solution we face in Vermont,” said Governor Scott. “And we need to use every tool in the toolbox to achieve this goal.”
Newport will host the Stay to Stay Weekends July 26-29, and December 13-16.

Police: Derby woman charged following assault on officer at hospital

in Derby/Newport/News

NEWPORT — The Newport Police Department says they arrested a woman over the weekend on multiple charges, including assaulting a police officer.

Makayla Belmore, 19, of Derby, is facing charges of assault on a law enforcement officer/protected professional, obstruction of justice, and aggravated disorderly conduct.

Early Sunday morning police say they responded to North Country Hospital to have an officer on standby after Belmore, who had an active trespass notice, had come to the emergency room as a patient.

The responding officer and a member of hospital security entered her room after hearing yelling coming from inside.

Police say when they entered the room, she threw a cup full of liquid that struck the officer.

“She then resisted the officer and staff’s efforts to restrain her, attempting to sit up and strike both the Newport Police officer and the security officer,” a statement issued by police reads.

Police say Belmore at one point kicked the security officer in the face and twice spit in the face of the police officer while continuing to violently resist efforts to restrain her.

They say she also made repeated verbal threats against both officers.

She was placed under arrest and subsequently arraigned yesterday and released with conditions.

NEK students take part in SEEDS leadership training

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Thirteen local students recently joined in the statewide SEEDS Summer Leadership Training Program held at Northern Vermont University-Lyndon.

They spent spend three days and two nights on campus with students from around the state.

Students participated in team-building activities and team challenges.

They also took part in projects and games designed to help them find their passion, build their confidence, map out long-term goals and develop a strong sense of purpose as they transition into high school.

Pictured from left-to-right, are:

(back row) Robert West and Kai-Lee Huang, both from Danville School; Bailey Shepard, Hazen Union High School; Emma Chaput, Troy School; Paige Ainsworth, Hazen UHS; Lydia Ste. Marie and Kloey Descheneau, both from Troy School; Will Patnoe and Felicia-Ann Flint, both from Craftsbury Academy. Front row, from left-to-right: Jasmine Dunbar, Danville School; Justice Clark, Brighton Elementary School; Destiny DeMasi, Danville School, and Sophie Michaud, Lake Region Union High School.

Independent feature film screening in Derby Line this Thursday

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby Line/Newport/News

DERBY LINE — The award-winning first-time feature film ‘Farmer of the Year,” by Vermonters Kathy Swanson and Vince O’Connell, will screen at the Haskell Opera House in Derby Line this Thursday, July 11.

The film, ‘Farmer of the Year,’ written by Swanson and shot largely at the farm on which she grew up in her hometown of Tyler, Minnesota, tells the story of an aging farmer, who, after selling the farm he’s worked for over 60 years, finds himself useless and adrift.

Struggling to maintain his youth he road-trips across the country in a ’73 Winnebago with his equally directionless and unreasonably self-confident granddaughter.

Heading west, they find themselves in seemingly impossible situations with only each other for support.

As the journey progresses so does their relationship and they begin to understand and appreciate each other as individuals while discovering that being young and being old, aren’t all that different.

“A small town screening in a building that’s been the center of the community for generations feels like such a Vermont way to screen the film,” said Swanson.

The filmmakers met at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center in the early ’80s where they worked 3 hours a day for room and board before moving to Western Massachusetts to grow their business, VOMAX, a custom athletic apparel manufacturing company started by O’Connell in one of the dorm rooms at the Center.

After selling the company, the couple moved back up north to Craftsbury.

“We’ve wrapped up our festival circuit and self-distributing the film across the country theatrically now,” said O’Connell. “We’ve been in about 90 theaters since September.”

‘Farmer of the Year’ will screen at the Haskell Opera House on July 11, at 7:00 p.m., followed by a Q&A session led by the filmmakers.

General admission tickets are $12, and available at the door.

North Country Hospital celebrates 31st Annual Scholarship Golf Classic

in Newport/News

NEWPORT — A morning storm on June 30 didn’t dampen the spirits of 24 teams ready to hit the course at Newport Country Club for the 31st Annual Healthcare Scholarship Golf Classic.

Thanks to the generosity of sponsors and players, North Country Hospital was able to provide 22 new healthcare education scholarships this year, along with many renewals.

Student teams from North Country Union High School and Lake Region Union High School were also sponsored to play.

Northpoint Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram provided the chance to win a Jeep Cherokee on the 2nd hole, with a few golfers getting within five feet of the pin or even onto the green.

Men’s longest drive went to Tyler Smith and ladies longest drive went to Susan Wu, with each year this award honoring the memory of Perry and Priscilla Fitch.

Men’s division results were:

1st Low Gross – Don Hunt, Steve Fisher, Gary Bickford, Bobby George (52)

2nd Low Gross – Tim Bronson, Greg Bronson, Jonathan Cote, Dawson Cote (59)

1st Low Net –Jim Murphy, Andy Karwooki, Robert Reynolds, Chris Provencher (51.6)

2nd Low Net –Brian Nall, Bill Perket, Umair Malick, Ben Schroer (51.8)

The results for Mixed Division were:

1st Low Gross – Steve Hurd, Bev Gage, Megan Sargent, Chris Wing (62)

2nd Low Gross –Sophia Clements, Grace Giroux; Roger Cartee, Bob Dunn (63)

1st Low Net – Alan Franklin Jessie Davignon, David Price, Nancy Price (53.8)

2nd Low Net – Gene Wu, Susan Wu, Larry Sisson, Nancy Sisson.

Because of former hospital CEO Sid Toll’s vision of creating this event as a fundraiser, since 1988, North Country Hospital has awarded 336 scholarships to local students, many of whom have returned to work in the area after college.

“This has been a team effort year after year, and we thank all of our sponsors as well as those who support North Country Hospital and the tournament by playing each year,” Tournament Chair Fran Smith said.

Son of a Swim kicks off open water swimming season in the Kingdom

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

DERBY — On Saturday, June 29, the Northeast Kingdom Open Water Swimming Association and Kingdom Games cracked the cap on Summer’s open water swimming season.

In total, 14 swimmers, ages 12 to 64, from Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Montreal, swam distances of 2, 4, 6.5 and 10 miles, on Lake Memphremagog.

They swam from Derby Bay out to and around Bell, Province, Black, and Cove Islands.

Winds were light, with water temperature a 70 F. A threat of showers and thunderstorms held off as all swimmers finished their chosen distances.

Participants included three swimmers who have swum the 25-mile length of Lake Memphremagog, including Charlotte Brynn, Paula Yankauskas, and Vera Rivard.

Natalie Lang, who also participated on Saturday, will be attempting to swim the length of Memphremagog in July.

Yankauskas hold’s the record as the oldest person to swim the length of the lake, which she did when she was 60 years old, and Vera Rivard holds the record as the youngest to swim the length of the lake, which she did last year when she was just 14.

The roster also included six kayakers and crew who have supported “In Search of Memphre,” including Pam Ladds, Jerry Zeankowski, Kevin, Darcie and Margaret Rivard, and Cynthia Needham.

Son of a Swim was started in 2009 to help new swimmers qualify for Kingdom Swim.

Over the years, the swim has grown and moved from Prouty Beach in Newport to Derby Bay.

The swim now incorporates the islands of Derby Bay as its “buoys,” and offers the beauty and magic of this area of Lake Memphremagog.

The swim now includes not only newcomers to open water swimming, but also more experienced swimmers impatient to get their season underway, who are looking for a well-supported swim in June.

The swim is organized by Kingdom Games and the Northeast Kingdom Open Water Swimming Association.

Next up in July will be In Search of Memphre, July and Kingdom Swim, their Flagship Swim, on July 27, and in August, NEK Swim Week, August 10 to 18, and more 25-mile solo and group swims.

Kingdom Games offers over 25 days of running, biking and swimming events throughout the year.

Victims identified in fatal NEK crashes

in Morgan/Newport/News

NEWPORT — Details are emerging in the two fatal car crashes that took place in Orleans County this morning.

Police responded at around 6:00 a.m. to a two-vehicle crash on Vermont Route 100 in Newport Center by Tetreault Road.

A 2015 Ford Edge was fully engulfed in flames when police arrived.

According to the police report, the driver of the Ford, identified as James Robitaille, 33, of Montgomery, was killed during the crash.

Police say the second vehicle, a 2010 Chevrolet Malibu, was located on its roof and the sole occupant was also pronounced deceased.

The driver was identified as Rex Starr, 68, of Lowell.

Police say the crash remains under investigation, but it appears as though Robitaille was traveling southbound and began to pass another vehicle at the crest of a hill, and collided with Starr, traveling in the northbound lane.

Police say during the initial investigation, the report of the second crash in the town of Morgan was received.

This was a single-vehicle crash on Vermont Route 111 by Barter Road.

The operator, identified as Daniel Frascoia, 27, of Newport, was also pronounced deceased.

The vehicle was located off of the westbound travel lane when police arrived.

“Based on evidence at the scene, the crash likely occurred during the early morning hours and is estimated at around 5:00 a.m.” Trooper Abigail Drew said in a statement.

Both crashes remain under investigation at this time.

Police: 2 killed in Newport Center crash, 1 killed in Morgan

in Morgan/Newport/News

NEWPORT — Police say that three people have died in two separate car crashes in Orleans County this morning.

First, a two-car collision at around 6:00 a.m. killed both drivers on Vermont Route 100 in Newport Center.

The second incident took place on Route 111 in Morgan.

Police say this was a single-vehicle crash, that took the life of one person.

Police have not released any more information regarding these incidents.

Brownington, Derby women arrested in Massachusetts for allegedly trafficking cocaine

in Brownington/Derby/Newport/News

NEWPORT — Two women from Orleans county are facing drug trafficking charges after police in Massachusetts allegedly found 63 grams of cocaine in their car after a traffic stop early Sunday morning.

Police say they stopped a 2007 Ford 500 sedan on I-91 northbound, in Greenfield, Mass, for motor vehicle violations at 3:00 a.m.

As a result of an investigation, the four occupants of the vehicle were allegedly found to be in possession of approximately 63 grams of cocaine.

The driver was identified as Kimberly Lawrence, 41, of Brownington, and one of the passengers was identified as Kitty Godin, 38, of Derby.

Police say Lawrence and Godin were charged with trafficking in cocaine, and conspiracy to violate drug law.

They were held on $50,000 bail each and were scheduled for arraignment in court on Monday.

Grant awarded to fund youth risk reduction programs in Newport, Derby schools

in Derby/Newport/News
A youth session in PROSPER’s after-school Family Program at Lyndon Town School in Lyndonville, Vt. Working with a group of sixth graders are PROSPER Family Program facilitators Dakota Fournier, seated at the table, and Lynzy Guyer, standing, both teachers at the school. (Photo: Anthony Willey)

NEWPORT — The University of Vermont Extension will expand a program proven to reduce risky behavior in youth, including substance misuse, called PROSPER, to schools in Newport and Derby.

The program, named PROSPER, for Promoting School-Community-University Partnerships to Enhance Resilience, was developed jointly at Iowa State University and Pennsylvania State University in 2001 and has been implemented in communities around the country since then.

Its effectiveness has been demonstrated in nearly 80 published research studies.

The two-year program targets sixth and seventh graders.

“We’re honored and pleased to be able to expand the PROSPER program to three communities in the Northeast Kingdom,” said Chuck Ross, director of UVM Extension. “The program has generated impressive results nationally and in the three Vermont schools where it’s in place. We have every reason to expect similar success in St. Johnsbury, Newport and Derby.”

The PROSPER expansion to St. Johnsbury and Newport will be funded with a $599,124 grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within USDA.

Funding for the Derby expansion is coming from Iowa State.

The program will be implemented at Newport City Elementary School in Newport, and Derby Elementary School and North Country Union Junior High School in Derby, which serves both Newport and Derby.

The PROSPER program in Newport launched on July 1, with Derby following three months later.


The PROSPER program builds competency and confidence in sixth and seventh graders and improves family functioning as bedrock strategies for preventing behavior problems in youth.

In sixth grade, PROSPER engages families in an after-school program called Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth Ages 10-14.

The program shifts to an in-school focus during seventh grade with the delivery of Lifeskills programming.

During both years, teachers and counselors in the school deliver a set curriculum that research has shown to be effective.

Critical to the program’s success is the work of a team of eight to ten community members, including parents, teachers and other school personnel, Department of Health representatives and community members.

The community team helps fine-tune the messaging of the program to the specific needs of the school, does fundraising to ensure the program is sustainable after the five-year grant expires, conducts outreach to the community about PROSPER and oversees the program’s implementation via monthly meetings.

VTrans to close VT Route 191 in Newport starting July 8

in Newport/News

NEWPORT — The Vermont Agency of Transportation plans to close VT Route 191 in Newport on July 8.

Crews are working to remediate slope failures affecting the roadway and to increase its safety.

Crews are preparing for the six-week road closure, which is scheduled to reopen by August 19.

The closed section of VT Route 191 begins approximately one mile west of the Interstate 91 interchange and extends approximately 1,450 feet.

During the road closure, traffic will be detoured via Interstate 91, US Route 5/VT Route 105, and US Route 5.

A combination of layers of rock, groundwater, and poor soil conditions have caused continuous slope movements since the construction of the roadway in 1971.

The Route 191 project was developed to prevent future slope movements from deteriorating the roadway further.

The project includes full-depth reconstruction of VT Route 191, replacing the culvert located approximately 30 feet below the surface, and installing three active extraction wells to alleviate groundwater pressure and increase the stability of the roadway.

Island Pond hosting its biggest Independence Day Celebration ever

in Island Pond/News

ISLAND POND — Island Pond will be hosting its Independence Day Celebration July 5 – 7, in beautiful downtown Island Pond.

The weekend kicks off on Friday, July 5, with Friday Night Live featuring award-winning artist Dave Keller at 6:00 p.m. followed by Kat’s Rock n Kountry at 8:15 p.m.

The committee is excited to be welcoming Catamount Arts mobile stage to the park for this week’s concert. Organizers say the Catamount stage will provide a new audio and visual experience to Friday Night Live with beautiful Island Pond Lake as the backdrop.

Saturday morning July 6, starts off with their annual Independence Day Parade.

In addition to it being the largest float line-up ever, it’ll be featuring a 50-piece marching band from just north of the border.

The American Legion Brighton Post #80 will be serving up a chicken barbecue luncheon starting at noon.

Be sure and buy your duck for the annual rubber duck race under the Essex House starting at 1:00 p.m.

A $500 prize goes to the winner and proceeds help cover part of the cost of the fireworks display.

The 5th Annual Scavenger Hunt starts at The Hearth & Home Country Store starting at 1:30 p.m.

This event draws dozens of teams to pick up a sheet full of clues and head off around town seeking the answers to the wacky questions it contains.

This event is designed for locals and visitors alike so come join in the fun.

Focus moves back to the Catamount Stage in Lakeside Park at 6:00 p.m. as Mirage takes the stage and rocks us into the NEK’s best fireworks show at around 9:30 p.m.

The VFW Post #2309 will get Sunday started with their hearty Public Breakfast.

At 10:00 a.m in Lakeside Park, the Green Mountain Bible Church will hold a Community Worship Service.

Then at noon in Lakeside Park, an annual favorite, the Cardboard Boat Race will take place.

Once your boat has sunk, head on over to the Human Foosball Tournament starting at 1:00 p.m. near the basketball court.

The weekend ends on a more mellow note with a Wine Tasting at The Hearth & Home Country Store featuring six specially selected wines to enjoy.

The celebration is a joint venture of the Island Pond Renewal Committee, Island Pond Chamber of Commerce, Brighton Community Forum, Brighton Recreation, Town of Brighton and for the first time Catamount Arts.

Detailed event information can be found at www.VisitIslandPond.com.

Friday Night Live is proud to be featured as one of the stops on the Tuned In NEKed Music Tour. Check out the details at www.getNEKedVT.com and post your photos from the event using the #getNEKedVT.

If you have questions please contact Mike Strait at The Hearth & Home Country Store (802) 723-0470 or Jeanne Gervais at Gervais Ace Hardware (802) 723-6138.

New healthcare scholarships awarded to local students

in Health/Newport/News

NEWPORT — A recent group of high school graduates plus a medical school student are the latest recipients of healthcare scholarships awarded on behalf of North Country Hospital.

This year 22 new healthcare scholarships were recently awarded, totaling $22,000.

In addition, North Country Hospital renews scholarships for consecutive years providing students stay in healthcare education and maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Each year the scholarship review committee makes selections based on student essays, transcripts, extra-curricular activities, as well as financial need.

Applicants must also live in the hospital’s service area in order to initially apply.

The Healthcare Career Scholarship is made possible by the annual North Country Hospital Scholarship Golf Classic, with proceeds each year going directly to awardees.

The 31st annual scramble is set for this Sunday, June 30, with 8:00 a.m. registration and a 9:00 a.m. shotgun start at Newport Country Club.

This year a total of 10 awards were received from this fund.

They went to Lake Region Union High School graduates Emma Perkins and Mackenzie Young; United Christian Academy graduate Gracie DeLaBruere; and North Country Union High School graduates Emilie Bouchard, Alyssa Choquette, Isabella DeSena, Calah Gaiolina, Mallory Lancaster and Jonah Wheeler; and medical school student, Faith Wilson

Caryl B. Custer Scholarship for Nursing Students awards went to North Country graduates Ryan Beloin, Olivia Berthiaume, Angelina Catuogno, Gabri-Elle Cota, Allison Gray, Shelby Morin and Aliza Wright; And Lake Region graduates Raegan Blanchard and Michaela Poginy.

This fund was created by summer resident Dr. Keith Custer in memory of and on behalf of his wife Caryl, who was a nurse manager in Florida for many years.

She individually supported many nursing students with scholarship monies in the past.

This year two students received The Legends Scholarship – Lauryn Goulet (NCUHS) and Alaina Zenonos (LRUHS).

This fund was created in 2010 and has since named some “Legends” of North Country Hospital: Merrilyn Barry, Robert Trembley, MD, Thomas A.E. Moseley, MD, A. David Alsobrook, MD, and Cecile Gelineau, RN.

In 2015 the Sidney A. Toll Scholarship Fund was created, honoring long time previous CEO and founder of North Country Hospital’s scholarship golf tournament.

This year’s recipient is Jenna Morey (NCUHS).

Contributions to North Country Hospital for any of the scholarship funds help sustain these awards for years to come.

Students receive awards for 2-year, 4-year as well as graduate programs.

Three-car crash with injuries in Derby

in Derby/Newport/News

DERBY — A three-car crash in Derby on Friday sent two people to the hospital, police say.

The crash took place in the westbound lane of U.S. Route 5, in front of the Vianor Tire and Sears Store parking lots.

According to police, Linda Kudla, 65, of Derby, was stopped, signaling to turn left into the Sears Store parking lot, waiting for traffic to clear so she could proceed across the eastbound lane.

Police say Chelsey Christino, 24, of Newport, was also traveling west and stopped in traffic behind Kudla.

According to the report, the third vehicle was being operated by Tucker Crowe, 17, of Island Pond.

Police say by the time Crowe noticed the two cars were stopped, he was unable to stop and collided with Christino’s vehicle.

The force of the impact caused Christino to collide with Kudla.

Christino and her passenger, Tristin Webb, 20, of Newport, were transported to the North Country Hospital by the Newport Ambulance.

Police say Kudla’s vehicle was able to be driven from the scene.

North Country Hospital honored for workplace safety

in Health/Newport/News
Posing with the MEMIC award by an eyewash station in the hospital’s laundry, are left to right, Eric Dupuis, Facilities Supervisor, Amy Kimball, RN, Infection Prevention Coordinator, David Cunningham, Facilities Director, Oren Martin, Director of Laboratory, and Andre Bissonnette, CFO.

NEWPORT — North Country Hospital was recently honored with an award for exceptional on-the-job safety performance during The MEMIC Group’s Annual Meeting of Policyholders.

Only nine employers out of more than 20,000 MEMIC policyholders across the country, received a 2019 award for workplace safety from the workers’ compensation insurance specialist.

Chief Financial Officer Andre Bissonnette accepted the award on behalf of North Country Hospital.

“As soon as I met Andre, he started telling the story of North Country Hospital and it aligned perfectly with our methodology at MEMIC,” MEMIC Loss Control Manager Scott Valorose said. “They don’t just talk about caring for employees and safety. Over the years I’ve seen them live it every day and their low claim numbers back that up.”

Bissonnette says that over the years, they’ve built a safety program that brought cultures together, both clinical and non-clinical.

“We brought patient safety and what you would call physical plant safety together onto one proactive committee,” Bissonnette said. “It’s helped break down walls and creates a lot of collaboration. I’m proud of how our safety culture has evolved, and it’s really everyone working together to create the safest environment throughout the organization.”

More than 1,000 visit Maxwell’s Neighborhood Farm in Newport

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — On Saturday, more than 1,000 visitors flocked to Maxwell’s Neighborhood Farm in Newport.

The Newport dairy farm was packed as guests enjoyed a Vermont-inspired pancake breakfast and took a self-guided tour of the 1,000 cow dairy farm.

In its fifth year, Vermont Breakfast on the Farm aims to connect the public with hard-working dairy farming families like the Maxwell family.

Fourteen educational stations throughout the farm tour helped visitors learn about daily life on the farm.

Those stations included a look at sustainable technologies and practices, including the Maxwell’s methane digester which utilizes cow manure, capturing methane gas, turning it into renewable electricity to power the farm and surrounding homes.

Guests also saw how farmers safeguard local waters like Lake Memphremagog through the use of protective cover crops, and toured the Maxwell’s free-stall-barns where cows have 24-7 access to fresh food, water, and comfortable beds.

Maxwell’s Neighborhood Farm was founded in 1957 by Maurice and Lois Maxwell.

They raised four sons on the farm, including Brad, Stewart, Anthony, and Jeffery.

All four brothers chose careers on the farm alongside their parents. Their family farming tradition continued when their grandchildren, Matt Maxwell and Darik LeBlanc, 3rd generation farmers – joined them on the farm.

The 4th generation, the great grandkids of Maurice and Lois, are now growing up on the family farm as well.

“The fact that four generations get to be on this farm working together, caring for our cows and land each day, that’s a special thing,” said third-generation dairy farmer Matt Maxwell.

The Maxwell farm now milks nearly a thousand cows and spans 2,000 acres of corn and hay. The farm is also well known for growing vegetables, Maxwell’s Neighborhood Greens, for local schools and businesses in a greenhouse, warmed by excess heat generated by their methane digester.

More than 100 volunteers from across Vermont, many with experience in the dairy industry, joined the Maxwell family and their employees to help answer visitor questions about modern dairy farming.

“I’m proud to be a Vermont dairy farmer, to be producing a nutritious food for my community, state, and region,” Maxwell added. “I’m honored to see all of these people who came out today to get a glimpse into what we do.”

Newport man charged after alleged attack, sexual assault

in Newport/News

NEWPORT — A Newport man has been arrested and charged after an alleged attack in the city.

Police say 34-year-old Geromy J. Wells has been arrested and charged with aggravated assault, lewd and lascivious conduct, and unlawful restraint.

At around 3:00 a.m. on Saturday, a woman reported to police that she had been attacked late Friday evening by a man while she was walking near the footbridge coming from the Vista Food parking lot on Route 5 in Newport.

The victim reported to police that an adult male attacked her and fondled her while grabbing her wrist and refusing to let go.

The victim was allegedly pushed to the ground, causing her to hit her head and touched inappropriately while the assailant attempted to kiss her against her will.

Police received a description of the alleged assailant and began an investigation.

Newport Police say the investigation led to Wells who was arrested without incident.

He was ordered held on $75,000 bail pending arraignment on Monday.

“The victim in this case contacted police, shared an extremely difficult account of a violent attack, and gave police an excellent description, leading to the arrest of the suspect,” Newport Police Chief Seth DiSanto said.

Driver hit 111 mph on I-91, according to police radar

in Barton/Newport/News

BARTON — A 31-year-old man from Quebec has been charged with excessive speed after being clocked traveling 111 miles-per-hour on I-91, police said.

Police say they were patrolling northbound traffic on Interstate 91 in the town of Barton on Tuesday when they observed a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed.

The vehicle speed was captured by stationary radar at 111 mph.

Police stopped the vehicle for the speed violation and the operator was identified as Michael Mercurio, of L’ile Bizard, Quebec.

Mercurio was cited into Orleans County Court and released.

“BLUE – An Exploration of the Colour” opening at the MAC Center June 28

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/News

NEWPORT — The MAC Center for the Arts is inviting the public to come experience total immersion into the color blue, by joining them at their latest exhibit, “BLUE – An Exploration of the Colour.”

The exhibition opens on June 28, inside the Downstairs Connection at the center, with a reception from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Works in several disciplines will be shown, all of which will represent a personal interpretation of the color blue.

Come out and experience the blue of the painter, the weaver, the jeweler, the potter, and the photographer. 

The exhibit is free and open to the public and runs through August 19 and is open 7 days a week, Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

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

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