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Local Food Movement Pioneer to Talk About Sustainable Food Systems and Climate Uncertainty

in Vermont

CRAFTSBURY COMMON — Some have called him the father of the local food movement. Noted author Gary Paul Nabhan will be speaking at Sterling College on Tuesday, January 28, at 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public as part of the Vermont Table Speaker Series.

The talk, “Tapping Into the Wisdom of Traditional Farmers: Sustainably Growing Food in the Face of Climate Uncertainty,” will discuss adapting diversity of food crops to climate extremes. He will be taking examples from traditional and innovative farmers on five continents and eschewing “climate-ready” GE crops.

Nabhan is the W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Arizona, as well as the permaculture designer of Almuniya de los Zopilotes Experimental Farm in Patagonia, Arizona. Widely acknowledged as a pioneer in the local-food movement and grassroots seed conservation, Nabhan was honored by Utne Reader in 2011 as one of twelve people making the world a better place to live.

Nabhan is also a recipient of a MacArthur Genius Award. He has published over twenty books, including “Where Our Food Comes From,” and “Woodlands in Crisis.”

For more information on the College and its mission of environmental stewardship, visit them online at www.sterlingcollege.edu.

About Sterling College

Founded in 1958 in Craftsbury Common, Vermont, Sterling College is a leading voice in higher education for environmental stewardship and the liberal arts. The College was among the first colleges in the United States to focus on sustainability through academic majors in Ecology, Environmental Humanities, Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems, and Outdoor Education. Sterling College is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and is one of only seven federally recognized Work Colleges in the nation.

Trading Post Radio Show Returns to WIKE 1490 AM

in News

NEWPORT — The WIKE Trading Post radio show is returning to local radio station WIKE 1490 AM on Sunday mornings from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. The show is for listeners who want to buy, sell, swap, or trade items on the radio airwaves.

“Years ago this was a very popular show that people would listen to, to get great bargains or to sell something they didn’t want anymore,” said station owner Bruce James. “Following many requests to bring the show back, we’ve been working to put the show back on air for about a year now.”

Hosting the show is Adam Barrup, who has been working at the radio station and its sister station Moo 92 for the past few years.

“People can call me on our WIKE studio line at 802-766-4485 and get right on the air,” Mr. Barrup said. “I’ll take note as to what the caller has to buy, sell, swap, or trade, and give each call an identifying number so listeners can call me after the show if they missed the phone number.”

The WIKE Trading Post will air every Sunday from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. on AM frequency 1490.

Mr. Barrup says that in the past they have had people call in with everything from snow blowers and automobiles, to windows and doors.

The Trading Post radio show has a few rules that listeners need to follow. Each caller is allowed to list up to three items (no firearms, weapons, or pets) and the show is for individuals and families, not businesses. Businesses can get their message on air through the radio station’s advertising department.

James says the show will start at one hour and increase as necessary. “The radio station invites everyone to call in and tell others what they want to sell or buy,” he said. “This is a great community show.”

Gov. Shumlin Asks Congress to Extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program

in News/Vermont

MONTPELIER – Gov. Peter Shumlin called on Congress today to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program, which expired on Dec. 28. The Governor said about 650 Vermonters lost benefits with the program’s expiration, losing an average weekly benefit of approximately $300. Up to 2,300 Vermonters could lose assistance over the first half of 2014.

“Vermont has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, yet many Vermonters continue to look for secure work as we pull out of the worst recession in history,” Gov. Shumlin said. He thanked President Obama and Vermont’s congressional delegation for fighting for the program.

Nationally, more than 1 million jobless workers saw their benefits expire – including 20,000 recent military veterans – and another 1.9 million will lose their unemployment benefits over the first half of 2014.

Gov. Shumlin joined a handful of other Governors in writing political leaders in Congress to urge extension of the program. The Governors noted that failure to extend benefits harms not only the individuals and families who depend on the help to pay for the basics, but states’ economies that are recovering from the recession.

“Our country’s jobless population spends unemployment benefits on rent, groceries, and other key necessities for themselves and their families. Our businesses and local communities benefit from the increased spending, and in turn, the EUC program helps to increase economic activity,” Gov. Shumlin wrote.

“Thus, not only does the EUC program benefit the long-term unemployed, but it also helps to inject revenue into our local economies, which saves and creates critically needed jobs throughout our economy,” the letter continued. “For this reason, economists widely recognize that government spending on unemployment insurance benefits is one of the most effective tools for increasing economic activity in a period of persistently high unemployment.”

Gov. Shumlin also applauded the U.S. Senate for voting to begin debate on the unemployment insurance extension – a significant step forward for the legislation in that chamber.

[AUDIO] Discovering the Beauty of Sacred Harp Singing in Derby Line

in Arts and Entertainment/Feature

Sacred Harp singing is a tradition of sacred choral music. It is part of the larger tradition of shape note music. Sacred Harp music is performed a cappella (voice only, without instruments) and originated as Protestant Christian music.

A group of shape note singers gathered at the First Universalist Parish in Derby Line, Sunday afternoon for their annual “Decadent Dessert Shape Note Sing.” Newport Dispatch came out to capture the beauty of the music, and to talk with group members to discover more about this form of music.

To listen to the story, press play in the media player below.



All photos by Tanya Mueller.

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[AUDIO] Saturday Night Swing in Newport

in Feature/Newport

A wise man once said, “It don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that swing.”

Saturday night at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, the 18 piece Swing North Big Band played their Swinging Epiphany Celebration. The show was part of the Now Playing Newport music series. Press play below to hear the story.



For more information about the Now Playing Newport music series, please visit them online at NowPlayingNewport.Com | All photos by Tanya Mueller. |


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U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont Asks NSA if They Are Spying on Members of Congress

in Vermont

BURLINGTON — On Friday, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders asked the National Security Agency director whether the agency has monitored the phone calls, emails and Internet traffic of members of Congress and other elected officials.

“Has the NSA spied, or is the NSA currently spying, on members of Congress or other American elected officials?” Sanders asked in a letter to Gen. Keith Alexander, the NSA director. “Spying would include gathering metadata on calls made from official or personal phones, content from websites visited or emails sent, or collecting any other data from a third party not made available to the general public in the regular course of business?”

Sanders said he was “deeply concerned” by revelations that American intelligence agencies harvested records of phone calls, emails and web activity by millions of innocent Americans without any reason to even suspect involvement in illegal activities. He also cited reports that the United States eavesdropped on the leaders of Germany, Mexico, Brazil and other allies.

Sanders emphasized that the United States “must be vigilant and aggressive in protecting the American people from the very real danger of terrorist attacks,” but he cited U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon’s recent ruling that indiscriminate dragnets by the NSA were probably unconstitutional and “almost Orwellian.”

Sanders has introduced legislation to put strict limits on sweeping powers used by the National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation to secretly track telephone calls by millions of Americans who are not suspected of any wrongdoing.

The measure would put limits on records that may be searched. Authorities would be required to establish a reasonable suspicion, based on specific information, in order to secure court approval to monitor business records related to a specific terrorism suspect. Sanders’ bill also would put an end to open-ended court orders that have resulted in wholesale data mining by the NSA and FBI.

Instead, the government would be required to provide reasonable suspicion to justify searches for each record or document that it wants to examine.

Planning a Visit to Quebec? You May Want to Leave that Smartphone or Laptop Behind

in News

DERBY LINE — In some cases international trips are literally a walk or bike ride away for residents of Orleans County. However you get there, if you plan to leave the United States with an electronic device, a federal judge says it “would be foolish, if not irresponsible,” to have any sensitive information on it.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Edward Korman in New York upheld a policy allowing authorities along the U.S. border to seize and search laptop computers, smartphones, and other electronic devices for any reason whatsoever, without reasonable suspicion, in the name of national security.

Korman said the so-called “border exemption,” in which anyone can be searched for no reason at all along the border, continues to apply in the digital age. This Fourth-Amendment-Free Zone stretches 100 miles inland from the nation’s actual border.

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Korman ruled:

“While it is true that laptops may make overseas work more convenient, the precautions plaintiffs may choose to take to mitigate the alleged harm associated with the remote possibility of a border search are simply among the many inconveniences associated with international travel.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, who challenged the policy nearly three years ago, argued that U.S. border officials should have reasonable suspicion before searching electronic devices because of the sensitive data they store. Such devices have become virtual extensions of ourselves, storing everything from email, instant-message chats, videos, and papers.

The case was brought on behalf of a 29 year-old Islamic studies graduate student in Canada, who, in 2010, was traveling by train into New York to visit his parents. According to the lawsuit, after showing his passport to an agent he was asked to move to the cafe car, where authorities removed his laptop from his luggage, and ordered him to enter his password.

He was questioned about pictures found on the computer displaying Hamas and Hezbollah rallies, which he had gathered for a doctoral degree on the modern history of Shiites in Lebanon. He was handcuffed and jailed for three hours while authorities continued to search through his computer. He was then released, but his computer was confiscated until his lawyer later filed a complaint to get it back.

Other plaintiffs in the suit included the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, who maintain the policy exposes privileged information, and the National Press Photographers Association, who say the policy interferes with their ability to do their work.

Suspicionless electronic search rules were first announced under the Bush administration in 2008, and the Obama administration followed up with virtually the same rules the following year. According to Department of Homeland Security data, between 2008 and 2010, 6,500 persons have had their electronic devices searched along the U.S. border.

Federal Farm Services Encourage Sugar Bush Owners in Orleans County to Call to Report Damage from Ice Storm.

in Feature/News

NEWPORT – As Vermonters start to check on their sugar woods, the damage from last week’s ice storm is being revealed. The federal Farm Services (FSA) offices have started taking applications for the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) for maple sugar makers. Orleans County is listed as one of the areas most affected, with FSA officials encouraging sugar bush owners to call to report damage.

The ECP funds can be used to cost-share debris removal in active sugar woods. FSA is investigating whether special practice funds can be accessed to help with maple tap and tubing replacement for sugarbushes that were already prepared for this year’s tapping. ECP also can help with funds to move debris off of the tubing and open up sugaring access roads or trails.

Vermont County Foresters are also taking calls from owners of other affected woodlots. The foresters urge people to use hardhats and extreme caution when walking around or working in woodlots with ice-laden trees branches. While the ice made those branches heavier, the expected snow this week could add yet an extra layer of risk for sudden breakage.

“Imagine what it would be like to have a baseball bat land on your head from a few feet up. Well, branches are bigger and fall further,” Windsor County Forester Jon Bouton said, quoting woodsman Irwin Post.

While the need for sugarbush work is immediate, when safety conditions allow, owners of other woodlands should also assess their property to report tree damage, and make decisions on amendments to forest management plans for Use Value Appraisal (Current Use).

REAL ID Cards Issued at Vermont DMV Jan. 2

in Feature/Vermont

The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles will start offering REAL ID cards on January 2.

To obtain a REAL ID, you will need an original or certified copy of your birth certificate or other proof of identity, proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful presence in the United States, and proof of your Social Security numbers.

Although the Vermont REAL ID FAQ page states that, “Obtaining a REAL ID marked card is your choice,” it also states that, “the federal agency responsible for security of the airport, federal facility or nuclear power plant will determine whether to permit access/entrance or subject you to additional screening as prescribed by that agency. No federal agencies have yet issued any guidance on how they will screen applications after the individual compliance dates. The Vermont DMV will update this information as additional information becomes available.”

It also states that everyone born after Dec. 1, 1964 will be “required” to have a REAL ID by Dec. 1, 2014. Anyone born before, will have until Dec. 1, 2017.

The federal REAL ID Act is designed to promote security by requiring states to meet certain physical and procedural security standards for production and issuance of driver’s licenses and ID cards. It is also supposed to provide certain documentation standards, including authentication and verification standards for proof of identity, date of birth, Social Security number, residence, and lawful status or presence.

Because Vermont already produces cards that meet REAL ID security standards, there will be almost no material difference. The only significant difference will be a star verification mark on the front of the card in the upper, right-hand corner.

The new REAL ID cards have raised concern over privacy issues. The governor of Montana told the Department of Homeland Security to “go to hell.” He went on to call the REAL ID card a “harebrained scheme.”

Some see the REAL ID card as a de facto national identity card that will increase government tracking of innocent citizens.

600 Vermonters Affected as Long-Term Jobless Benefits Expire

in Feature/News/Vermont

BURLINGTON — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders said Friday that Congress must restore unemployment benefits that expired today for 1.3 million Americans, including some 600 Vermonters, who have been out of work for longer than 26 weeks.

Unless Congress acts, jobless benefits will lapse during the first half of 2014 for an additional 1.9 million people, including another 2,300 Vermonters.

“It is not only immoral to cut off help for workers struggling to find jobs, it is also bad economics,” Sanders said. “At a time when long-term unemployment is near a record level, cutting benefits will hurt the rest of the economy and cause even more jobs to disappear.”

Failure to extend benefits would be a $25 billion blow to the economy during the coming year and result in the loss of more than 200,000 additional jobs, according to the conservative estimate by the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO also projected a 0.2 percent drop in the nation’s gross domestic product unless the benefits are extended.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, (D-Vt.) said: “It’s regrettable that House and Senate Republicans refused to include an extension of unemployment insurance benefits in the recent budget agreement. I have been among those who pushed for this extension, and I have again joined in introducing legislation to extend these benefits. The Senate will vote on our bill as a first order of business in January.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said that a measure to restore long-term jobless benefits will be the first bill that the Senate takes up when it reconvenes on Jan. 6. Sanders is one of 21 cosponsors of the bill, but only one Republican senator, Dean Heller of Nevada, has signed on as a supporter.

“The critical question is how many Republicans are prepared to stand with unemployed workers,” Sanders said.

While the jobless rate has declined in recent months, it is still far worse than it was in 2008 when President George W. Bush signed the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program into law. Back then the unemployment rate was 5.6 percent and the average length of unemployment was 17.1 weeks. Today, the official unemployment rate in November was 7 percent and the average length of unemployment is more than 36 weeks.

Moreover, the official unemployment figure masks the reality that total unemployment stood last month at 13.2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That number counts workers forced to settle for part-time jobs and those who gave up looking for jobs.

The number of long-term unemployed has been among the lingering effects of the severe recession that began in 2008. Today, there are three job applicants for every one job opening. As a result, 37 percent of all unemployed Americans have been out of work for more than six months.

Because the recession has continued to hurt job prospects, Congress reauthorized the extended unemployment benefits program 11 times since the recession began in 2008.

Altogether, nearly 24 million Americans (including more than 33,000 Vermonters) have received the emergency unemployment benefits since 2008. Unemployment benefits, typically $300 a week, lifted 2.5 million Americans out of poverty last year, according to the Census Bureau.

From Horse Lying to Lengthy Beer Tasting, the 10 Strangest Vermont Laws

in Vermont

By Yaël Ossowski | Watchdog.org

In many aspects, Vermont isn’t not afraid to buck the status quo.

After the Revolutionary War, it existed as its own republic for nearly 14 years. It was the first state to introduce women’s suffrage in 1880, allow civil unions in 2000 and pass same-sex marriage in 2009.

And while it may be a trendsetter, it has its own strangeness hidden among his many legal achievements, regulating everything from sex to alcohol, tobacco and the village drunks.

Here’s a list of the 10 strangest laws we found on the books in the Green Mountain State:

1. Don’t lie about your horse.

“A person may not willfully or unjustifiably enter or race any horse in any running or trotting race under any name or designation other than the name or designation assigned to such horse by and registered with the Jockey Club or the United States Trotting Association.” 13 V.S.A.§ 2153 (6)

2. Never trust the showmen.

“Villages shall have the power to regulate the exhibition of common showmen, and of shows every kind not interdicted by law.” 24 V.S.A. App. § 235-114 (3)

3. Who are “uncommon” prostitutes?

“Villages shall have the power to restrain and punish vagrants, mendicants, and common prostitutes, and to suppress houses of ill-fame.” 24 V.S.A. App. § 235-114 (21)

4. Cash is king.

“A person may not accept, receive, levy or appropriate money or other valuable thing from the proceeds or earnings of a person engaged in prostitution.” 13 V.S.A. § 2637 (a)(2)

5. Sex cannot legally sell.

“No person may knowingly, publicly display nudity or sex for advertising purposes.” 13 V.S.A. § 2804a.

6. Because what’s a tasting without a few government regulations?

“A wine or beer tasting shall continue for no more than six hours, with no more than six beverages to be offered at a single event, and no more than two ounces of any single beverage and no more than a total of eight ounces of various vinous or malt beverages to be dispensed to a customer. No more than eight customers may be served at one time.” 7 V.S.A. § 67 (b)

7. Ripping the labels off mattresses isn’t the only thing which will land you a huge fine.

“Any person, other than the wholesaler, who intentionally removes or defaces the label attached to a keg shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both.” 7 V.S.A. § 67 (d)

8. No license, no tobacco through the mail.

“No person shall cause cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco, little cigars, or snuff, ordered or purchased by mail or through a computer network, telephonic network, or other electronic network, to be shipped to anyone other than a licensed wholesale dealer or retail dealer in this State.” 7 V.S.A. § 1010

9. The government deals in labels.

“The word “spendthrift” shall be held to include every person who is liable to be put under guardianship on account of excessive drinking, gambling, idleness or debauchery.” 14 V.S.A. § 2681

10. Save us from the market emergencies.

“A “market emergency” shall be declared by the governor. “Market emergency” means any abnormal disruption of any market for petroleum products or heating fuel products, including any actual or threatened shortage in the supply of petroleum products or heating fuel products.” 9 V.S.A. § 2461d.

Yaël is a national reporter for Watchdog.org. Reach him by email at yael@watchdog.org and follow him @YaelOss.

Gov. Shumlin, Emergency Officials Ask FEMA for Public Assistance Related to Ice Storm

in News/Vermont

MONTPELIER – At the request of Gov. Peter Shumlin, Vermont emergency management officials today asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to conduct a damage assessment in the Champlain Valley and northern Vermont counties impacted by the on-going ice storm. The state is applying in an attempt to secure federal public assistance to help cover the cost of cleanup and recovery from the storm.

“I am requesting that the Federal Emergency Management Agency join State and Local teams to conduct a Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment in the Counties of Caledonia, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, and Orleans for Public Assistance,” wrote Joe Flynn, Director of the Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security to FEMA’s Acting Regional Administrator Paul F. Ford.

Flynn noted that rain, freezing rain, snow, icing conditions, and near zero temperatures have impacted Vermont since Dec. 20, creating power outages affecting 22,000 households – about 75,000 Vermonters – at its peak. In addition, Flynn said, the fluctuations in icing conditions and the repeated need to clear and remove debris caused multiple outages for some customers.

“This has been a real challenge for the utility crews because icy tree branches continue to fall and knock out power lines, making it difficult for the lines crews to keep the power on,” said Gov. Shumlin. “It has also been a struggle for many Vermonters in these hard-hit areas, particularly in Franklin County and other northern Vermont communities, who are spending this holiday week without heat and electricity, often staying with friends and family.”

The Governor said the state would continue to push until power has been restored to every customer. Although the number of outages dipped to under 500 earlier today, snowfall-laden trees knocked out power to additional households, with an estimated 1,040 homes without electricity as of late afternoon. Crews continued to work throughout the region.

Flynn asked FEMA to send personnel beginning Jan. 2 to work with state and local teams to determine damage estimates. Depending upon final costs, Vermont could be eligible for federal assistance for some municipal and cooperative utility restoration costs, local debris clearance and removal costs, and other disaster caused infrastructure damage.

Kevin Paquet Movie Review: Frozen

in Uncategorized

By Kevin Paquet

Disney’s princess movies are, in many ways, a trick of time dilation. Despite the ubiquity of princess-branded products in toy aisles across America, Disney only made three “princess” movies in its first 60 years of animation: “Snow White” (1937), “Cinderella” (1950) and “Sleeping Beauty” (1957). You’d be forgiven for forgetting that, since Disney abruptly changed focus and made eight more of them between 1989 and 2012 (if you count Pixar’s “Brave,” which Disney does). Disney is all about tradition, even if they have to engineer it retroactively.

The merchandising has been so prevalent that I felt a certain cynicism when I heard that “Frozen,” their latest creation, had two princesses. Disney has always made such a big deal of old-fashioned values that it almost reflexively prompts the idea that they have old-fashioned vices as well. It was hard not to imagine dollar signs popping up in somebody’s eyes over the idea of two princesses – and that may have well been the case. But, fortunately, it doesn’t feel that way when watching the movie itself.

movie Review Disney's FrozenAnna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) are sisters and princesses of the northern kingdom of Arendelle. Elsa has the ability to make snow and ice appear at will, and at the beginning of the film the princesses are children at play in their castle’s cavernous ballroom. After Elsa accidentally hits Anna in the head with a blast of ice magic, their parents, the king and queen, go to the mountains to get help from the trolls.

The trolls heal Anna, but it’s decided that Elsa’s magic is better kept a secret. Anna’s memories are changed to remove her knowledge of Elsa’s memories, and Elsa is given gloves to wear at all times. She becomes withdrawn, and after the king and queen die in a shipwreck, the two sisters live almost completely separate lives.

The story proper opens on the day Elsa comes of age and is crowned queen. She approaches the event with great trepidation, but Anna is giddy with excitement over the prospect of being able to meet people. She hits things off quickly when she runs into Prince Hans of the Southern Isles (Santino Fontana), who is visiting for the coronation. The two spend the whole day together, and by evening Hans asks Anna to marry him – to which she gleefully says yes.

Elsa is much less pleased when the two bring the news to her, and has a panic attack that unleashes her powers, causing winter in the middle of July. She flees to the mountains, prompting Anna to give chase.

The Disney princess films follow such a set list of tenets that it’s kind of startling when one of them contradicts another. Still, the romance angle of “Frozen” feels like nothing less than a rebuke of “The Little Mermaid,” in which Ariel the mermaid had three days to make a man fall in love with her. It’s strongly implied that those two live happily ever after, which is totally unrealistic, but then again it’s the story of a mermaid who has singing fish for friends. While still very much a work of fantasy, “Frozen” nevertheless draws the line a little closer to home.

The characters of Elsa and Anna themselves also follow a pattern of princesses who are increasingly self-aware. Most tellingly, they experience a lot of self-doubt, something not seen much before “Mulan” (1998), and which didn’t make another major appearance until “Tangled” (2010). In fact, Anna is a near-copy of Rapunzel from that film, which makes sense: both characters are pronounced extroverts who have grown up in near-isolation. However, Anna is slightly more resourceful and (very) slightly less spastic.

Also like “Tangled,” the cast of “Frozen” uses speech patterns and slang that are amusingly modern. Since Disney films never, ever go away, viewers will end up encountering language they find dated within 15 years or so.

With less than a decade under its belt since its first feature film, Disney’s CGI department is to be commended for how far they’ve come. The quality of the imagery here – in particular the way the auroras play off the snow and ice – is exquisite, even if it feels a little like a screensaver at times. Disney production values as a whole are up, and it’s hard to imagine that this is the same studio that accidentally made “Chicken Little” in 2005.

© Kevin Paquet, 2013

Domenic’s Story: Helping to Build a Digitally Literate Community

in Derby/Feature

DERBY — When Hurricane Sandy hit in October of 2012, Domenic Laurenzi lost everything. For nearly a month he found himself living in his car. He was working for someone who flat out refused to pay him, and finally the heater in his car went out. He spent the next five days grinding it out, sleeping in the cold, and trying to decide what to do.

Originally from Long Island, Domenic had family living in the Newport area, and he had spent some time here earlier, studying massage therapy at the Community College of Vermont. When the program was dropped, he went back to New York.

Sick of sleeping in his car, Domenic called a relative and asked if he could come back up to Vermont. They were happy to help. On November 17, 2012, Domenic was back in the area, and he immediately decided to continue his studies at CCV. He switched his major to Business.

It was a difficult start for Domenic, but he never let the obstacles he had to face get in his way. As the new guy in town from the big city, he persevered. He has gone on not only to excel as a student, but to give back to the community that welcomed him in.

photoDomenic now runs a digital literacy program offered through the state of Vermont, where he provides free computer help to anyone visiting the library during designated hours. Anyone needing assistance can make an appointment, or just come in during the hours that Domenic is there. He can help you with the most basic issues, or tackle more technical problems if needed.

“It all started at CCV,” Domenic said. “I was taking a class that needed an internship, and it just so happened that the libraries needed someone to help them with their computers.”

The internship led to the digital literacy grant, which has been recognized as a huge success.

“Once the grant went through, and the state saw that people were utilizing this system that was put in place, that people were learning and benefiting from it, they decided to keep it going through July of 2014.”

While offering his services, Domenic has seen the full spectrum of computer related issues pass through the program.

“Things have ranged. From the most basic steps like how to use a tablet, to just the other day I helped someone set up a mobile hot spot from his Samsung Galaxy phone.”

Coming from New York, there are things about the area that have been a bit foreign to Domenic, but he has embraced most of it.

“Everything is so different up here,” he said. “Coming from New York, I’m used to being able to get anything I want, anytime of day. But, it’s absolutely beautiful, and there is no traffic up here which is nice.”

The computer help Domenic provides is available for anyone who needs it, and with the extension, Domenic encourages anyone who needs his services to come out to the library during the following hours:

The Goodrich Memorial Library

Monday – 10:00 to 12:30
Thursday – 3:00 to 5:00

The Dailey Memorial Library
Tuesday – 10:00 to 12:00
Saturday – 1:00 to 3:00

The Haskell Library
Thursday – 12:00 to 2:30
Saturday – 10:00 to 12:30

Domenic will graduate from CCV this summer, and although he will not continue on with the digital literacy program, it will most likely continue past July.

Vermont Ice Storm Turns Deadly in Albany

in News

ALBANY — The ice storm over the weekend claimed the life of a man from Albany, who died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The Vermont State Police report that at 6:21 a.m. Monday, they received a call regarding a death in Albany. The Victim has been identified as Mitchell Rowell, age 60. The Albany Fast Squad arrived and pronounced Mr. Rowell dead at approximately 7:04 a.m.

Police say Rowell was running a generator in his garage because the power was out in his home.

The Vermont State Police would like to reiterate safety messages from the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, as well as the Vermont Department of Health, regarding carbon monoxide safety precautions.

Never run a generator indoors. Ensure any generator is outside; and far away from windows or any other area from which exhaust can vent back into a living area. Carbon monoxide can cause injury or death. The risk of CO poisoning increases when generators and heat sources, such as propane cooking stoves, are improperly used indoors.

Early symptoms of CO poisoning can be confused with flu-like symptoms, with headache, dizziness and nausea. It can also cause sleepiness, vision problems, including blurred vision, ringing in the ears, aching arms and legs, irregular breathing, fatigue and confusion. At very high levels, it causes loss of consciousness and death.

If you lose power and need a warm place to go Vermont 211 has a list of shelters that are open.

Sound Bites: Newport’s Third Thursday Open Mic Night at Montgomery Cafe [AUDIO]

in Arts and Entertainment/Feature/Newport

Newport Dispatch visited the Third Thursday Open Mic Series at Montgomery Cafe in Newport. Thursday’s event brought together local poets and musicians. Started by Beth Barnes three months ago, word of Newport’s open mic has quickly spread, with musicians coming out from Lyndonville just to participate.

Please press play below to hear some of the music, and to be introduced to some of the musicians who are coming to Newport once a month for the event.

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Vermont says ‘tis the season’ to hike texting fines

in Feature/Vermont

By Yaël Ossowski | Watchdog.org

As Old Man Winter swoops into Vermont, the state government wants to be sure drivers are paying attention.

“Our crews just completed a weekend marathon of plowing, and are now here preparing for the next storm to arrive,” announced Gov. Peter Shumlin at a press conference Tuesday. “And as hard as they work plowing snow, they also look for new ways to make roads safer.”

What Shumlin offered is an initiative that has very little to do with snow, but which will affect anyone driving on a Vermont road: stiffer penalties aimed at stopping distracted driving.

Starting Jan. 1, the use of a hand-held device, such as an MP3 player, GPS, or cell phone in a work zone will be banned outright and could carry a fine as high as $479 for the second offense, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

They’ll also up the penalty for anyone caught texting at the wheel, increasing from two to five points on a violator’s driver’s license, which would cause a steep increase in insurance rates.

“All the plowing and salting in the world won’t help us if people don’t slow down, put the phone down, put their hands on the wheel and focus on the road,” said Dave Blackmore, the transportation administrator for District 5 who spoke along with Shumlin.

Laws against distracted driving have been on the books in several states for many years, but their effect has proved murky once put under the microscope.

A 2012 study commissioned by the American Automobile Association and conducted at the University of North Carolina’s Highway Safety Research Center found that use of electronic devices comprised only 6 percent of all distracted behavior at the wheel, far behind other behaviors such as communicating with passengers, eating and drinking or adjusting a vehicle’s controls.

Moreover, the researchers concluded that use of electronics was unlikely a leading cause of major accidents.

“Electronic device use and other distracted driver behaviors were strongly associated with looking away from the roadway, although electronic device use was only weakly related to serious incidents,” concluded the authors.

That’s a much softer assessment than the one offered by researchers who examined texting bans in several states throughout the nation.

“Texting bans haven’t reduced crashes at all,” said Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in a 2010 study. “In a perverse twist, crashes increased in three of the four states we studied after bans were enacted. It’s an indication that texting bans might even increase the risk of texting for drivers who continue to do so despite the laws.”

A 2011 white paper put together by the Vermont Legislative Research Service doubted the efficiency of laws banning phones at the wheel, and concluded that all major research has “yet to show that state bans on cell phone use have significantly decreased distracted driving and accidents.”

Vermont had 330 major accidents in 2012, according to the Department of Public Safety, and eight, or just 2 percent, were found to be caused by the use of electronics at the wheel.

While distracted driving remains an issue for auto safety, it has also become an important way for states to grab federal dollars.

Federal initiatives to combat distracted driving totaled $17.5 million in 2013, distributed mostly in the form of block grants to the states which “enact and enforce” the toughest laws restricting the use of electronic devices at the wheel, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Most of the money is designated for advertising the state’s distracted driving laws, including the use of social media and television spots.

Vermont didn’t receive any funding for 2013, but with its increased penalties for cell phone use at the wheel in work zones and texting while driving, it may be a prime candidate for 2014.

Yaël is a national reporter for Watchdog.org. Reach him by email at yael@watchdog.org and follow him @YaelOss.

QNEK Rings in 2014 with Auditions for 21st Season

in Upcoming Events

DERBY LINE — As you’re chilling the champagne, slipping into your most elegant attire, and searching for those obnoxious, but necessary noise-makers you only use once a year, don’t forget to dust off your dance shoes, practice those pratfalls, and hit some high notes at the piano, because QNEK is holding auditions.

International Theatre Company in Residence at the Haskell Opera House, QNEK Productions, will be holding auditions for its 2014 season at the First Universalist Parish of Derby Line, on January 4, 11, and 12, 2014.

QNEK Productions is pulling out all the stops for its 21st season, including the addition of a second main stage musical that is sure to be a hit. Full scale productions will be held at the Haskell Opera House.

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Boeing Boeing,” by Marc Camoletti, and translated by Beverly Cross, will open the season with its extravagantly hilarious plot twists, and wonderfully absurd comings and goings. Directed by Jenny Dunne, this Tony Award Winning farce plays May 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, and follows an American bachelor in Paris managing three international fiancé stewardesses by their flight schedules. Things get turbulent when a new and speedier Boeing jet throws off his careful planning. Throw in an anxiously timid visiting buddy and an exasperatingly disgusted French maid, and you’ve got a comedy that will be just as much fun to be in as it is to watch.

Charles Dickens’ immortal characters live on as Lionel Bart’s beautifully scored and scripted Tony Award Winning “Oliver!” takes the stage July 25, 26, 27, and August 1, 2, 3. Directed by Phil Gosselin, with musical direction by Anita Mayhew, and accompanied and conducted by Janice Luce, this wonderfully moving classic seeks a large cast of all ages to bring these timelessly fantastic characters to life. It will certainly be a lot fun for boys and girls this summer.

SUDS: The Rockin’ 60s Musical Soap Opera,” from Melinda Gilb, Steve Gunderson, and Bryan Scott, is loaded with good clean fun and bubbling energy. It plays September 12, 13, 14, 19, 20. Directed by Phil Gosselin, with musical direction by Mark Violette, this awesome jukebox musical tells the story of a young woman and her guardian angels who arrive to teach her about finding true love in a laundromat. Channeling aspects of Forever Plaid, this four-person dynamo will get everyone dancing to hits like “Respect,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” and “Chapel of Love.”

Wait Until Dark,” by Frederick Knott, directed by Susan-Lynn Johns, is one of those knuckle-whitening thrillers that will give you a reason to be afraid when the lights go out. When a game of cat and mouse spirals out of control, an unsuspecting blind house wife and her young neighbor will have to hold their own if they want to survive against a gang of hardened con-men, who will do anything to get what they want. All those Law and Order marathons will come in handy for actors auditioning for this highly suspenseful drama, playing October 10, 11, 12, 17, 18.

Auditions will be held at the First Universalist Parish Hall, 112 Main Street, Derby Line, on January 4, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. January 11, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. January 12, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Boys, girls, men, and women of all ages are encouraged to attend. For a detailed schedule of auditions and callbacks, or more general information, visit qnek.com, find QNEK Productions on Facebook, or call the QNEK Business Office at 802-334-2216.

Though audience members will have to wait until May to be a part of this fantastic line up, QNEK season passes are now on sale by calling QNEK Box Office at 802-334-2216, visiting qnek.com, the Catamount Arts Box Office at 888-757-5559, or by visiting catamountarts.org.

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[AUDIO STORY] Discovering Mary Cofran with the Derby Historical Society Museum

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby/Feature

Newport Dispatch came out to the old-fashioned Christmas celebration at the Derby Historical Society Museum, and put together this audio story, where we learn about a resident of Derby who in 1940 drew a series of prints on muslin cloth of local buildings. It was like stepping back into 1940. To listen, press play below.

Please enjoy the photography below while you listen. All photos by Tanya Mueller.

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Snowmobiling is Alive and Kicking in the Northeast Kingdom

in Derby/Feature/News

DERBY — Every few years it happens that hunting season ends on Sunday, and snowmobiling season begins on Monday. With hunting season over, yesterday was the first day the trails were officially open. The Drift Dusters Snowmobile Club, which serves 62 miles of trail in the Derby, Holland, and Morgan area, spent opening day out on the trail with their groomer, getting ready for what should be a great season.

“We haven’t sent our groomer out on the first day of the season in a few years,” Roger Gosselin, Vice President of the Drift Dusters Snowmobile Club, said Monday night. “So, we’re off to a great start. The temperatures are down and the snow is here.”

Gosselin started maintaining the trail on Monday using the tracks of the groomer to pack down the snow that has accumulated. It froze overnight, and should provide a good base.

The Drift Dusters Snowmobile Club out packing snow on Monday in the Holland area. All photos courtesy of Roger Gosselin.
The Drift Dusters Snowmobile Club out packing snow on Monday in the Holland area. All photos courtesy of Roger Gosselin.

For snowmobile trails, a snow grooming machine works by pulling what is called a “drag,” behind it. However, at the start of the season, you have to make sure the conditions are right before using it.

“You usually don’t bring the drag out first because you don’t want to literally drag the snow off,” Gosselin said. “At the start of the season, what you want to do is just pack the existing snow down. Once you have a well established trail, then the drag works really well.”

The rule is that you need a four inch base of packed snow to start snowmobiling. Currently, parts of the local network at higher elevations have that already. Gosselin believes that all the early signs indicate that this year should be a good season.

“The upper elevation areas of the trails are open, but they are hard to get to,” he said. “Give us a couple of days. We’re supposed to get more snow, and that will put most areas into better shape.”

Snowmobiling in the area has recently had some bad press, being called a “dying sport,” by a local paper. For Gosselin, and many who have been involved in the sport for nearly a lifetime, statements like that are the result of not looking at the big picture.

“First of all, snowmobiling is a large part of our economy. Yes, some years are better than others, but, if you go through and look at the trends over the years, a few bad years are generally followed by great seasons.”

The groomer owned by the Drift Dusters Snowmobile Club based out of Derby, out on the trail packing snow on opening day.
The groomer owned by the Drift Dusters Snowmobile Club based out of Derby, out on the trail packing snow on opening day.

When it comes to the sport of snowmobiling in the area, Gosselin has paid his dues. He has been involved as a director of the Drift Dusters since 2003, having previously held the position of president for the maximum term of four years, and served as vice president off and on since.

The Drift Dusters are also one of the top clubs in the state. Started in 1970, the group usually has between 800 and 1100 members. In August they were awarded the Vermont Snowmobile Club of the Year. Previously they have won awards for best groomed, and best signed trails.

“This year it was a combination of good grooming, good signing, and a social media presence that is much more active than other groups in the state,” Gosslin said. “It was a big achievement for us.”

Gosselin also serves as the website administrator for the Drift Dusters. Their website was one of the first ever to sell trail passes through the internet. He has been working to creatively engage snowmobile enthusiasts online, as well as keep everyone informed of trail conditions through the website and social networks. Through Twitter, he even started an account for the Drift Dusters’s groomer.

Gosselin, along with Scott Jenness, who serves as president of the club, working with all the club’s directors, have made the 62 miles of track they maintain a spot that brings in riders from all over New England.

For more information about the Drift Dusters Snowmobile Club, visit them online. If you are on Twitter, you can follow the club at: @DriftDustersSC and at Facebook.com/driftdusters

Below is a killer promotional video that the club put out, which just goes to show that snowmobiling is not a dying sport. It is alive and well, and with the season underway, and clubs like the Drift Dusters working hard to keep the trails maintained, Newport Dispatch hopes all riders have a safe and fun winter.

Newport Moving into the Future: Two Wheels and Two Feet at a Time

in Feature/Newport/News

Photo Left to Right – Jeff Manning, owner of The Village Bike Shop, Gary White, local marathon runner, and Dr. Peter Harris, shared their personal stories and expertise in order to educate and invite discussion at Saturday’s community forum “Streets, Sidewalks, and Bike Paths,” co-hosted by the he HealthWorks ONE Coalition and the Newport City Renaissance Corporation Design Committee.

NEWPORT — The HealthWorks ONE Coalition, serving Orleans and Northern Essex Counties, in collaboration with the Newport City Renaissance Corporation Design Committee, asked the community where they want to go. On Saturday, a community forum was held in the Hebard State Building. Despite the below zero temperatures, a large contingent of people gathered to listen to the speakers and to share their opinions and hopes on how we can all move into the future, together.

forum_3“I’m so encouraged by the number of people who came together for the common good of our community,” Beth Barnes, Fit and Healthy Coordinator for HealthWorks ONE said. “We have the strong beginnings of a sound infrastructure that supports and encourages biking, walking and alternative modes of transport, but we can always improve.”

Dr. Peter Harris, a local athlete and champion for good health gave a compelling presentation in which he stressed the importance of healthy eating and exercise habits. His message to all is that if we take care of our bodies they will take care of us. Dr. Harris is a strong advocate for enjoying what the Newport area has to offer, especially during the winter. He reminded everyone that Memphremagog Ski Touring Foundation, a local non-profit, is a great resource available to the entire community.

Jeff Manning, owner of The Village Bike Shop in Derby, brought bicycles and explained ways to introduce children to the delights, as well as the importance of riding.

“We need to encourage children to ride, but it’s our responsibility as adults to teach them the right ways to do it,” Jeff said. “Safety should always be the first lesson so children grow up respecting the roads, and learn to enjoy the freedom a bike can offer.”

Mr. Manning, like most at the forum, is a strong advocate for a path that would connect Derby to Newport, bringing the two towns with a strong connection even closer.

The final speaker was Gary White, who gave a touching account of how he was encouraged to run his first marathon by local trainer, Sharon Stewart. He said that his father’s final advice was to take better care of himself. Gary took that advice to heart. He changed his life by starting a carefully planned exercise routine. He has now run countless marathons, and even has his name in the Guinness Book of World Records. Mr. White, who spends countless hours using the local streets and paths each week, brought the forum his own reports on what he encounters, and how he thinks Newport’s streets, roads, and paths could be improved.

The goal of the forum was to give the community a platform where they could listen, learn, and share their ideas. HealthWorks ONE and the Design Committee are committed to implementing ways by which all Newport’s streets can be user friendly for everyone.

“I feel that a collaboration between interested community members, local government, non-profits, and businesses, is a way to work toward giving people more of a choice when it comes to getting where they want to go,” Ms. Barnes closed by saying. “The forum was very encouraging.”

For more information, please contact Beth at beth.barnes@neklsvt.org

Les Terrasses Dufferin: Fine Dining at a Reasonable Price, Just Across the Border

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby Line/Feature/Stanstead

STANSTEAD, QC — You can sometimes tolerate mediocre food if a restaurant has other things going for it. You can even tolerate a wonderful meal, if the dining room is less than spectacular. In both cases, you may find a restaurant you will visit from time to time, but it will never make your personal favorites list. It will never be the kind of place that you rave to your friends and family about.

However, when an exciting chef works in a location that is just as exciting, you have the type of restaurant that not only makes the list, but climbs to the top. Such is the case with Les Terrasses Dufferin, located in Stanstead, Quebec.

There are many reason to be excited about Les Terrasses Dufferin. First of all, there are few places anywhere that have such an interesting location. Located inside the old Stanstead customs building, it is literally just across the border from Derby Line on Route 5. The building is as beautiful as it is historic. The dining room mixes modern and classical styles, creating a comfortable and elegant ambience.

Chef Roland Troadec and Line Vallieres Thériault enjoy a quiet moment after a busy lunch hour Wednesday afternoon. All photos by Tanya Mueller.
Chef Roland Troadec and Line Vallieres Thériault enjoy a quiet moment after a busy lunch hour Wednesday afternoon. All photos by Tanya Mueller.

The co-owner and chef of Les Terrasses Dufferin is Roland Troadec. Originally from France, he comes to Stanstead with 35 years of experience, having worked the last ten in Montreal and Quebec City. He brings with him not only the experience and reputation of a world-class chef, but also a respect for keeping dining prices within reason.

This brings us to another key reason to be excited about Les Terrasses Dufferin. They offer an elegant menu at a price that matches what most people are willing to pay. It is fine dining in every sense, but for a price matching the economic situation of the area. The menu has something for everyone.

“Because the chef is French, we have a little bit of a French flavor, but, we have adapted our menu to please everyone,” co-owner Line Vallieres Thériault said. “We want to give our customers a variety.”

Originally from Sherbrook, Line lived most of her life in Montreal. She came to the Eastern Townships five years ago. When she found out that the old customs building, which used to be a restaurant called La Vieille Douane, had closed at the end of August, she approached the owners and asked if it would be possible to rent the space to start her own restaurant.

When they agreed, she contacted Roland to see if he was interested in becoming a partner in the business. He came down from Quebec City, and they did some minor renovations over the next two months. Les Terrasses Dufferin opened last Thursday, a completely different restaurant than La Vieille Douane.

Les Terrasses Dufferin is named after the beautiful terrace along Rue Dufferin that sits out front of the restaurant. During the warmer months, visitors can eat outside on the terrace. There is also a terrace located in the back of the building, facing the Tomifobia River, where tables will be set as well.

Fondue, steak, and pasta are some of the staples of the menu, with daily lunch specials also offered. They are equipped to handle groups, rent the space out for parties and events, and offer a catering service if needed. There is even a café set up separately from the dining room, which offers wifi.

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When I asked Ms. Thériault what she feels customers will remember most after a visit, she paused for a moment, and then smiled.

“That we have the best food,” she said, breaking out in laughter.

Although only half -joking, it is a claim Les Terrasses Dufferin is certainly working to back up.

Having tasted the spaghetti, as well as an amazing couscous salad, Les Terrasses Dufferin will be a place I will frequent when the terraces are open.

They have a brunch on Sunday, which starts at 9 a.m. and runs until 2 p.m. It is all you can eat, and would make the perfect start to a day spent on the other side of the border, visiting the beautiful Eastern Townships of Quebec.

For more information, call Les Terrasses Dufferin at: 819-704-3330

United Church of Newport’s Handbell Choir at the Goodrich Memorial Library (with audio)

in Arts and Entertainment/Feature

All photos by Tanya Mueller

The only way to experience the elegance of the United Church of Newport’s Handbell Choir is to hear them for yourself. Newport Dispatch is proud to have captured some of the sounds of Saturday’s concert, and uploaded them here for our readers. Click play wherever you see the audio player throughout this article to hear audio clips taken from Saturday’s concert at the Goodrich Memorial Library.

NEWPORT — The Goodrich Memorial Library hosted their 9th Annual Tree Lighting and Open House event at 2 p.m. on Saturday, followed by a concert by the United Church of Newport’s Handbell Choir and Chorus.

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Christmas tree lights and decorations were turned on throughout the building. Each room in the library features its own tree, complete with unique decorations that have been passed down throughout the years.

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The sounds of the season rang out from the Assembly Room upstairs as the handbell choir started the show. Ruth Marquette, the director of the choir, introduced some of the techniques used by the musicians between songs.

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A reception was held after the concert.

A view from Saturday’s Santa Festival in Newport

in Newport/News
All photos by Tanya Mueller.

NEWPORT — It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and Santa Clause is coming to town. Saturday’s Santa Festival in Newport let everyone in town know. Festivities kicked off downtown at 11 a.m. If you were not able to make it out Saturday, here is a collection of photographs taken by Tanya Mueller that will give you a sense of just how in the spirit of the holidays the people of Newport are this year. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

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Divas Use Laughter to Raise Money for NEKCA at Jay Peak’s Foeger Ballroom

in Arts and Entertainment/Jay

All photos by Tanya Mueller

JAY — The Vermont Comedy Divas kept the Foeger Ballroom at Jay Peak filled with laughter Friday night. The one night only benefit was organized to raise money for Northeast Kingdom Community Action.

Started in 2006, the Vermont Comedy Divas are the only all-female touring standup comedy troupe in the country. The Divas include Josie Leavitt, Sue Schmidt, Carmen Legala, Autumn Spencer, and Tracie Spencer. The show Friday night was part of their Divas Do Good charity series, where the group seeks to give back to the community by raising money for organizations with a social mission.

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“There is only one guy in here not an open target to be used as material during the show, and that’s the guy serving my drinks,” Sue Schmidt said during the opening of the show.

Although the men in the room were warned beforehand that they might be used as a punchline for the Divas, it was a group from the Memphremagog Press, who came out Friday night for their Christmas party, that took most of the ribbing.

“Sir…are you okay,” Josie Leavitt asked one of the men from Memphremagog Press after a particularly shocking set of jokes.

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Autumn Spencer started the night off, setting the stage for the acts that followed. Each Diva had their own style, making for an interesting mix of delivery, as well as material.

“The Divas are starting to drink…that’s always a bad sign,” Ms. Schmidt said halfway through the night.

The crowd seemed equally entertained by each comedian, which is part of the reason that the Divas work so well together as a group. They function as a whole, without any one comedian feeling like an opening act for the other. This balance leaves the group able to switch lineups each night.

“We usually pick the lineup just before the show,” Autumn Spencer said after the show. “It can be tough to go first because right from the start people are expecting to laugh. They are expecting you to be funny, and they want to see what you’ve got.”

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“We’ve really been trying to raise money for the community because we’ve had so many federal and state cuts,” Joe Patrissi, the Executive Director of NEKCA said. “We’ve had to do some significant fundraising.”

NEKCA is preparing for another fundraising event coming up on January 18, again at Jay Peak, with a show by the Dave Keller Blues Band. Proceeds for that event will go toward the Head Start program.

“The Divas were really great tonight, and we were thrilled that they agreed to do this for us,” Mr. Patrissi said.

For more information about the Vermont Comedy Divas visit them online at vermontcomedydivas.com

For more information about NEKCA visit them online at nekcavt.org.

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Community Action Grant Applications Sought in Newport

in Newport/News

Deadline Approaching

NEWPORT — AARP Vermont is encouraging groups and citizens to submit applications for the 2014 Community Action Sponsorship Program — a program to provide modest grant funds and technical support to community groups or individuals. The initiative is part of the recently adopted Age Friendly Communities initiative aimed at preparing Newport for the rapidly aging demographic shift – particularly in the areas of housing, mobility and community engagement.

The Community Action Sponsorships will provide financial and other support to groups within Newport that will advocate for improvements in any of the following areas:

– Affordable housing options for older residents
– Delivery of services to help older residents age in the setting of their choice
– Public transit or alternative transportation services
– Fostering intergenerational and multi-cultural connection
– Financial security for low income older residents
– Socialization and fostering community connection for older residents
– Education and awareness about LGBTQ elders
– Community accessibility for residents with disabilities
– Implementation of Complete Streets: Pedestrian & Bike infrastructure (sidewalks, amenities for walkers and bikers, public art, safe street crossings, bike lanes, navigation, etc.)

“We are committed to supporting community efforts in Newport and encourage those interested to apply. Our selection criteria and process are flexible and we are open to a broad range of ideas,” said Kelly Stoddard Poor of AARP Vermont.

The sponsorship is open to individuals, grassroots groups and small non-profits in Newport and should represent a desire to make change through local level activism and advocacy.

The deadline for applications is December 31, 2013. Up to four groups will be selected for grants ranging from $500-$2,000. Grants will be one-time funding for a 12-month period and groups who are awarded sponsorships will receive technical assistance and training from AARP staff.

AARP is partnering with Newport City Renaissance Corp. and executive director Patricia Sears on the effort. Applications and an RFP are available from Kelly Stoddard Poor at 802-951-1313 or kstoddardpoor@aarp.org

Newport to Become an Age-Friendly Community

in Newport/News

NEWPORT — With the support of Newport Mayor Paul Monette, Newport City Council and developer Bill Stenger, Newport is poised to become Vermont’s first city to join AARP’s nationwide Network of Age Friendly Cities. As such, the city embraces the changing demographics of an aging population by focusing on safe, walkable streets, better housing and transportation options, access to key services and community engagement opportunities for all ages.

As Newport plans for major redevelopment of its downtown and economic base, the city and its partners — including AARP Vermont and the Newport City Renaissance Corp. — are looking at ways to prepare for a rapidly aging population.

“With our aging population, especially in Vermont, we must ensure all communities are friendly to all residents from our youth to our senior citizens,” said Mayor Monette in his letter of support to AARP. With the support of a city council resolution, he pledged to establish an advisory citizens’ committee that includes the active engagement of older adults, and he committed to responding with a “concrete and robust plan of action” to address the needs of older residents.

Jay Peak CEO Bill Stenger also expressed support to have Newport considered an Age-Friendly city as part of the AARP network. “I would very much like to see Newport as a frontrunner in our state to proactively address the needs of our valuable aging population,” he wrote. “This initiative will prepare our city and community for the steadily aging population while benefiting all of our residents.”

AARP’s role in this program advances efforts to help people live easily and comfortably in their homes and communities as they age, and encourages older citizens to take active roles and have their voices heard. Focus areas include housing, transportation, caregiving, community engagement, volunteering, social inclusion and combatting isolation among elders.

A key player in leading the effort has been the Newport City Renaissance Corp. and its executive director Patricia Sears. “We are very excited about this partnership with AARP and really value its role in helping Newport realize our potential as a livable community for all ages,” she said. “With the significant investment coming to our region, our city is in a unique position to effect change in ways that will benefit residents and businesses alike.”

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization with 138,000 members in Vermont and 40 million members nationally. Through a wide array of special benefits, services, and information resources, we help our members make important choices, reach their goals and dreams, and make the most of life after 50.

This release was sent in by:

David Reville, Communications Director
AARP Vermont
802-951-1303

Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture says that Vermont is leading the country in terms of Agriculture, but faces challenges from the Food Safety Modernization Act

in Newport/News

NEWPORT — Chuck Ross, the secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, was in Newport on Tuesday to listen to the concerns of local farmers. The meeting was the first in a series of listening sessions, the rest of which will take place over the next few months throughout the state.

The low turnout in Newport for the meeting made it more of a listening session for the audience, as Ross had plenty to say in regards to the good things that are happening with Vermont’s agriculture. He also warned of the threat that the state faces in light of the Food Safety Modernization Act draft that was recently passed by Congress.

One thing that Vermont’s agriculture has going for it, is Chuck Ross himself. The Secretary of Agriculture has been named President of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. Listening to him speak on Tuesday, it was clear that as a state, we have one of the most knowledgeable minds in the industry working for us.

Ross laid it out for those in attendance. As a state, we are leading the way, and we also will face severe challenges set by the Food and Drug Administration.

“When you look at the state of Vermont, and what’s happening in agriculture, it’s really exciting,” Ross said. “We are leading the country in a number of ways. We’re on the cutting edge.”

According to Ross, when you talk about agriculture in Vermont, you have to start with dairy. The dairy farms support the dairy manufacturing industry in the state. This provides many Vermonters with quality jobs.

“I can’t underscore enough the importance that dairy is to the state. A lot of the other agriculture, like cheese making and yogurt, is what I call dairy plus, because it’s supported by the dairy farms. Also, the dairy farmers over the last 70 years have held the land, kept it open, and kept it productive.”

Ross went on to say that although there has been talk about herd numbers across the state decreasing, down about 2,000 cows over the last couple of years, the herd supply is fairly stable, and the milk supply is stable.

“Our farmers are getting better and better at producing more milk per cow, every year,” he said.

Chuck Ross in NewportRoss talked about what he called the “agriculture renaissance,” happening in the state, that is bringing in a younger generation of farmers. This influx of younger farmers are proving to be successful in marketing and exporting their products all over the country, which is helping to build a new and diversified economic based agriculture. At a time when the average age of dairy farmers is in the 50’s, and the number of dairy farmers decreases, these new businesses are making a good partnership with the dairy community by putting less stress on the service industries that have been built around dairy.

Ross also pointed out that Vermont is leading the way in terms of diversification and localization of agriculture.

“Vermont is seen as one of the top three artisan cheese regions in the world,” Ross said. “Our artisan cheeses compete internationally, and do incredibly well in every competition they enter. But, you can’t do good cheese, without great milk.”

Vermont is also the number one producer of maple products in the United States. Maple production is the fastest growing and most profitable agriculture in the state. Our northern neighbors in Quebec are still by far the largest producer of maple in the world.

We are also number one when it comes to direct marketing of agriculture, with CSA programs, farmers markets, and roadside stands, driving this type of growth.

“People are copying what we’re doing in Vermont in terms of supporting and growing our local economies and communities by investing in agriculture,” Ross said.

The challenge that we face comes by way of the federal government, with the Food Safety Modernization Act. The draft is a set of regulations by the Food and Drug Administration, which was drafted in response to legislation passed by Congress to make our food system safer. According to Ross, as the draft stands today, it will seriously impact the state’s agriculture, making it much harder for farmers to do business.

“This is a huge cloud hanging over much of what we’re doing with agriculture in the state of Vermont,” Ross said. “Quite candidly, the FDA wrote a draft that is not well constructed to be useful, effective, or implementable in a way that works for agriculture in Vermont and many other states.”

Ross stated that people producing produce for direct human consumption are going to be regulated according to the Food Safety Modernization Act in ways that they have never been regulated before.

“Very significantly for the state of Vermont, the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance is potentially being rewritten,” Ross said. “The PMO has served us well. I’m scratching my head wondering why are they going to mess with something that has enabled us to produce the best food product for human consumption in the world, year after year.”

Ross said that many have been engaged in pressing the FDA not to take the draft set of rules, and make it a final set of rules. He said that they are requesting that a second draft be written.

While discussing what some of the new rules would be, Ross said that one says that you can not harvest a product for human consumption for nine months after you have applied manure. That would be a growing season in the state of Vermont. You would also have to wait 45 days to harvest a product that used compost as a soil amendment.

When asked if the FDA was considering a redraft of the rules as they stand, Ross said that he is optimistic.

“I’d say we’ve gone from unlikely, to possible.”

Christmas Tree Shops in Newport Are Open For Business

in Newport

NEWPORT — Thanksgiving is behind us. Next stop, Christmas. What better way to start the season than with a locally grown tree? Within a few miles of each other on Main Street in Newport, you have your choice of two great spots to grab a wonderfully fragrant tree or wreath for the holidays this year.

The Garden Patch Farm Stand, located at 1700 East Main Street, has a wonderful selection of trees lined up and ready to go.

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Just down the road and across the street from Cumberland Farms, at 535 East Main Street, Carl Szych and his family are up and running. Mr. Szych brings in the homegrown trees from his two farms, one located in Brownington, and the other in Coventry. Both of his tree farms offer a choose and cut option, but for one ready to go, stop in at his stand in Newport.

Christmas trees Newport Vermont

Mr. Szych has been in this spot for 18 years, and many of his customers come back every year to buy one of his trees.

“We just had somebody stop in today who has been buying Christmas trees from us for the last five
years,” Mr. Szych said.

There is also a nice selection of wreaths on display.

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Music Series Returns to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Newport

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/News

NEWPORT — After a five year hiatus, music will again fill the historic St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Second Street, Newport, with “Now Playing Newport – A Vermont Music Series.” It will be the only year-round music series in the Newport area, taking place on a monthly basis.

Jim McKimm, who for five years directed the former “Music For A Sunday Afternoon Series,” is returning to his musical roots after being a founding member of the MAC Center for the Arts, and serving as its president for five years. Mr. McKimm, who moved to Vermont in 1997, has served as Director of Music at St. Mark’s for the last twelve years, having served several churches in both New York City and New Jersey throughout his career.

Lynn Perry, member of the Newport Area Community Orchestra, and Jim McKimm, Series Director, look over the poster for the first concert in the “Now Playing Newport” music series which will begin on December 15th, at St. Mark's Episcopal Church.
Lynn Perry, member of the Newport Area Community Orchestra, and Jim McKimm, Series Director, look over the poster for the first concert in the “Now Playing Newport” music series which will begin on December 15th, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.
Joining as local music partners in the series will be Dr. Sara Doncaster, the Music Department Head at Lake Region High School, and Ken Michelli, founder and director of the Newport Area Community Orchestra.

New to the program will be a series of free youth concerts, starting with the Lake Region High School Select Chorus, who will present their holiday program on Sunday, December 15, at 4 p.m., under the direction of Dr. Doncaster. Their repertoire will include sacred music of various types.

The series will be reaching out to the other schools and youth groups in the area for the 2014 season.

The series is administered separately from the church and will be administered strictly by grants, sponsors, donations, and ticket sales. Receptions will follow most programs in the church’s Parish House.

St. Mark’s, completed in 1883, has changed little since it was built. The building’s vaulted wooden ceiling makes for wonderful room acoustics. The small venue will allow for an intimate experience for both the audience, as well as the musicians.

For complete details on the series and programs, visit them at www.nowplayingnewport.com.

If you know of anyone who may be interested in taking part in the series, please contact concerts@nowplayingnewport.com.

“Surreal,” A Surrealist Art Exhibition in Newport Starts December 7

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport

Surreal art opening Newport Vermont

NEWPORT — On Saturday, December 7, there will be a wine and cheese reception for the opening of “Surreal,” an exhibit of surrealist and otherwise weird paintings, photographs, sculpture, and video. On display will be the works of Vermont artists Bradleigh Stockwell, Mary Brenner, Diana Mara Henry, Chris Hudson, Sam Thurston, Mandee Roberts, Phyllis Hammond, and others. Also on display will be the gallery’s collection of surrealist works by the late Seattle artist Donald Peel.

The event will take place at The 99 Gallery and Center, behind 316 Main Street, and across from the Family Dollar in downtown Newport.

The opening starts at 6 p.m. and will run until 8 p.m.

Come out for this relaxing and entertaining evening of unusual art. The exhibition runs through January 31, 2014.

Community Dinners Thanksgiving Day in Derby Make it a Special Holiday for Many in the Area

in Derby/News
Photos by Tanya Mueller

All photos by Tanya Mueller, unless otherwise noted.

DERBY — The Church of God and the Elks Lodge in Derby both hosted community dinners Thanksgiving Day, making it a special holiday for many in the area. Both offered turkey dinner for anyone who wished to eat with the community, and both offered take out packages as well.

Church of God Pastor Laurence Wall poses with Julie Chase following Thursday's community dinner.
Church of God Pastor Laurence Wall poses with Julie Chase following Thursday’s community dinner.

The day before Thanksgiving, The Church of God delivered 145 meals throughout the area. Hayes Ford of Newport donated the 13 turkeys which were prepared by church members. The community dinner that they hosted on Thanksgiving Day was thanks to Julie Chase, who not only had the idea for the dinner, but cooked a turkey that she raised herself. About 50 people came out Thursday for the meal.

“This is the first time that we have hosted a community meal on Thanksgiving Day,” Pastor Laurence Wall of Church of God said. “It was a good turnout, and it’s all thanks to Julie.”

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The Elks Lodge served 225 people who came out Thanksgiving Day for the community dinner. They also served 300 take out meals throughout the day. This was the eighth year that the Elks Lodge in Derby has hosted the dinner.

Frances Dewing cooked the majority of the food, and the North Country High School Culinary Arts Program donated 69 pies for dessert. The potatoes served were thanks to George Weller of Stanstead.

“George did all the potatoes,” Ms. Dewing said. “Tuesday night they had a potato peeling party at his house, where they peeled all the potatoes. They cooked them this morning, and transported them here.”

Photo courtesy of Frances Dewing.
Photo courtesy of Frances Dewing.

The event was awarded a $2,000 Beacon Grant from the Elks National Foundation which paid for most of the food. With community donations in advance, both cash and in-kind, they raised a total of $3,000 before dinner was even served Thursday.

The money raised goes to the food and fuel fund for the Northeastern Vermont Area Agency on Aging

“It will be a Thanksgiving that continues throughout the season,” Lisa Viles, the executive director of the Northeastern Vermont Area Agency on Aging, said following Thursday’s event.

Northeastern Vermont Area Agency on Aging works to assist individuals who are in crisis for food and fuel throughout the year. They take donations to support their work online at NEKseniors.Org

Frances Dewing in the kitchen at the Elks Lodge in Derby Thursday afternoon.
Frances Dewing in the kitchen at the Elks Lodge in Derby Thursday afternoon.
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