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Community celebrates 30 years of NorthWoods Stewardship Center

in Charleston/Newport/News/Outdoors

EAST CHARLESTON — The NorthWoods Stewardship Center in East Charleston recently celebrated 30 years of environmental conservation, education, and stewardship in the communities of northern New England.

Over 150 community members attended the event, which included a free community dinner, live music by Celtic ensemble “The Wind that Shakes the Barley,” and a silent auction featuring items donated by local artisans and businesses.

Executive Director Jonathan Gilbert welcomed guests to the celebration and highlighted the premiere of a short video recognizing the three-decade history of NorthWoods, from its founding in 1989, to its current programs in forestry and landowner services, conservation science, outdoor environmental education, and the New England-wide youth Conservation Corps.

Sterling College faculty member Farley Brown reminisced with NorthWoods founder and past president of Sterling College, Bill Manning, upon the Center’s beginnings building upon an experiential model of environmental education to serve local youth and communities in the region.

Guest speaker Steve Agius, manager of the Nulhegan Basin Division of the Silvio O. Conte U.S. Fish & Wildlife Refuge in Brunswick, spoke about the NorthWoods Conservation Corps which employs youth in trail and conservation work at state and federal lands throughout the region, and the importance the program has to the refuge system throughout the northeast.

“The conservation work being done on these regional refuges, from the coast of Maine to Long Island Sound, would not be possible without NorthWoods and their trustworthy teams of well trained and hardworking youth crews,” said Agius.

Luke O’Brien, previously the NorthWoods Trails Director, reflected upon the important and diverse experiences and relationships he built in his nearly 20 years at the Center, and upon the ongoing value of NorthWoods programs in being able to provide young adults with a connection to the land and boost in self-confidence at an influential time in their lives.

The impact of NorthWoods over the years was echoed by Gilbert as he spoke about the Center’s current and future work in the community and shared plans for the building of a new Conservation Barn to serve as a base of operations for expanding Conservation Corps and Forestry crews in years to come.

NorthWoods Stewardship 30th Anniversary Open House on June 8

in Charleston/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

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

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

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

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

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

Wild & Woolly Competitive Snowshoe Races February 9 in East Charleston

in Charleston/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

EAST CHARLESTON — The NorthWoods Stewardship Center will be hosting the Wild & Woolly Snowshoe Races at their campus in East Charleston on February 9.

The event kicks off from 9:30 a.m. and will go until 2:00 p.m.

During last autumn’s Westmore Mountain Challenge, organizers say participants requested a similarly spirited competition for the winter months.

NorthWoods trails in February offer a true winter wonderland experience, and the Wild & Woolly is an invitation for the community to come out and explore.

“We developed this event to celebrate some of our favorite things,” said NorthWoods Education & Outreach Director, Maria Young. “The beautiful hills and trails where we work and play, individual challenge, team support, and good cheer.”

IronWood Adventure Works, which hosted the “24-Hours In the NEK” long distance run on NorthWoods trails last autumn, will be coordinating race set up and timing.

The course will consist of a 5k, 10k, or 15k loop, traversing both groomed and snowshoe-packed trails through the varied terrain of NorthWoods’ forested campus in East Charleston, with a shorter 2.5k loop for beginners.

According to Young, the event is geared not just toward athletes but to their families as well.

“This is a great event for both competitors and families looking for a fun day out this winter,” she said. “In addition to the timed snowshoe races, there will be outdoor activities such as ice skating, canoe-sledding, s’mores, and of course the original Wild & Woolly, a costumed fun race around the pond in our old traditional wooden snowshoes.”

A hearty lunch of chili and cornbread is included for all attendees and entry is free for children age 12 and under.

The event coincides with the Island Pond Winter Carnival weekend, providing a great opportunity for families to spend a day or weekend enjoying winter festivities in the Northeast Kingdom.

NorthWoods Watershed Crew celebrates another year of clean water projects

in Charleston/News/Outdoors

EAST CHARLESTON — The NorthWoods Stewardship Center Conservation Corps’ Watershed Crew has completed its fourth year implementing water quality improvement projects throughout Vermont.

Since 2015, the NorthWoods Watershed Crew has installed infiltration steps, open-top culverts, rain gardens, dry wells, dripline trenches, water bars, culverts, and many more stormwater management practices that are designed to help prevent sediment and other water quality detractors from entering into the region’s surface waters.

In 2018 alone, the NorthWoods summer youth crew and adult fall pro crew planted 148 perennial plants, installed 65 infiltration steps, 40 waterbars, 13 open-top culverts, a rain garden, a 4,000-gallon vegetated swale, and 5 culvert headers.

They also implemented a fiber coir log with rock toe bank stabilization design on an eroding lakeshore.

While the projects completed had a wide range of partners, components, tool requirements, and scopes, they all shared the common goal of completing vital, practical steps toward improving water quality throughout the state of Vermont.

Driver in fatal West Charleston crash sentenced

in Charleston/Derby/Holland/Newport/News

NEWPORT — The driver during a fatal crash in West Charleston that took the lives of two Orleans County residents back in 2016, has been sentenced.

Earlier in the year Joshua Cole pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter and gross negligent operation, and last week was sentenced to serve eight to 15 years behind bars.

Back in May of 2016, Cole was driving a 1994 Honda Prelude in the town of West Charleston when he lost control while exiting a sharp corner.

The vehicle traveled off the north side of the road, where it struck a large tree.

Three passengers in the Honda at the time were all ejected from the vehicle.

Esperanza Robles, 29, of Derby Line, and Ryan Coulter, 26, of Newport, were killed during the crash.

Amanda Letourneau, of East Charleston, suffered head and leg injuries.

Investigators said that speed and alcohol were both factors in the crash.

While facing manslaughter charges, Cole was arrested in Holland back in August of 2017, after police said he was driving an ATV and almost ran into a car on Gore Road.

After the new charges, a judge ordered that he be held without bail pending the trial in this manslaughter case.

Green Fire film screening and discussion at NorthWoods

in Charleston/News/Outdoors

EAST CHARLESTON — Next Friday, December 14, at 6:30 p.m, NorthWoods Stewardship Center and the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Conservation Group will co-host a free screening of the film Green Fire, with a discussion to follow.

Green Fire traces Leopold’s personal journey and follows the threads that connect to his legacy today, an extension of the land ethic he championed.

In 1949, Aldo Leopold wrote in the Sand County Almanac, “We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.”

A panel of local outdoor enthusiasts, conservationists, and hunters will follow the screening to lead a discussion to comment on the film, their personal connection to Leopold’s legacy, and current challenges in rebuilding engagement in the conservation and hunting ethic that has guided many generations of north country residents.

Light refreshment will be provided.

Car goes down 40-foot embankment, crashes into river

in Brownington/Charleston/News

BROWNINGTON — An 87-year-old woman from Charleston escaped without injuries after crashing her vehicle into a river in Brownington on Saturday.

Police, along with Orleans firefighters, were dispatched to a report of a single-vehicle crash on Vermont Route 5A near the Westmore town line at around 4:15 p.m.

The vehicle was located down a 40-foot embankment, in a river.

The driver, identified as Beverly Spaulding, managed to exit the vehicle.

Police say Spaulding was uninjured during the crash.

According to the report, she had been traveling north when she left the roadway, traveled across a lawn, and down the embankment.

The vehicle, a 2011 Toyota Corolla, was removed from the river with a wrecker and towed from the scene.

NorthWoods accepting nominations for 6th Annual Buzzell Award

in Charleston/News/Outdoors

CHARLESTON — NorthWoods Stewardship Center is taking nominations for the sixth annual George Buzzell Forest Stewardship Award.

In honor of the esteemed county forester for which it is named, this award recognizes an individual who is making a positive impact on Northeast Kingdom forests.

An award ceremony will be held at the NorthWoods Stewardship Center on Tuesday, December 11, 2018.

During his 44 years as Orleans County Forester, George Buzzell exemplified the best practice of his trade, including research that helped to re-define sugarbush management in Vermont.

Buzzell also cast a welcoming net, encouraging education and inviting the community into the conversation and practice of forestry.

With this award, they will honor the outstanding contributions of George Buzzell and recognize others who are carrying the torch of forest stewardship in the Northeast Kingdom.

Eligible candidates are those who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to sustainable management of forestland in the NEK, and who have also worked to advance or share knowledge to ensure the long-term resiliency and productivity of our forests.

The individual’s direct impact can include hands-on work, policy improvement, education, training, or a combination.

NorthWoods will welcome nominations of candidates until Monday, October 22.

For the nomination form and instructions, contact Sam Perron at NorthWoods, (802) 723-6551 ext 302, or

[VIDEO] Political Forum: Orleans-1 House District

in Brownington/Charleston/Derby/Holland/Morgan/Newport/News

NEWPORT — Last night a political forum was held in the Goodrich Memorial Library.

It featured three candidates running in the Orleans-1 House District, which represents Brownington, Charleston, Derby, Holland, and Morgan.

The candidates are Independent Frank Davis of Derby Line and Republican incumbents Lynn Batchelor of Derby Line and Brian Smith of Derby.

Each candidate received time to introduce themselves and make closing arguments.

NorthWoods announces new executive director

in Charleston/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

EAST CHARLESTON — The NorthWoods Stewardship Center announced the appointment of Jonathan Gilbert as the organization’s new executive director.

Originally from Quebec and now 20 years in Vermont, Gilbert says his passion is promoting a healthy society based on harmonious relationships between people and the land.

“I am honored to merge my journey with the NorthWoods community and to deepen my relationship with the land and the northern forest,” Gilbert said.

As a co-founder of Heartbeet Lifesharing in Hardwick, he arrives with a vast range of life experiences in community building and a love for the earth, people, and the local community.

The NorthWoods Stewardship Center is an environmental non-profit based in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and serves communities throughout New England.

The organization is in its 29th year of outdoor education, forestry, and conservation service programming.

“We are very excited to welcome Jonathan to the NorthWoods community,” NorthWoods board president Cathie Wheeler said. “His leadership skills and communication style bring a new rhythm and focus to the organization.”

New hunting and angling workshop series kicking off in East Charleston

in Charleston/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

EAST CHARLESTON — This week NorthWoods Stewardship Center (NWSC) and the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Conservation Group (VFWCG) announced a new workshop series kicking off this September called Modern Traditions in Hunting and Angling.

The upcoming workshops give equal weight to “the old ways,” traditions in hunting and angling that include a deep connection with the land and wildlife, as well as a modern approach and understanding of the role that hunting and fishing have in conservation and our communities today.

While the mission and community of both non-profit organizations have often covered common ground, this series marks a more formal commitment from both groups.

The events slated for the coming year seek to reach a broader audience, to provide skill-building, knowledge and enrichment activities, forums for idea sharing, and to inspire and empower more of the local community to take part in the traditions of hunting and angling that have deep roots in this region.

VFWCG Board President Matt Breton and NWSC Education Director Maria Young see this series as an ideal way to reach those goals.Breton recognizes that stepping in as a new adult hunter or angler can be intimidating.

“We want to break down barriers to participation for those people who want to hunt and fish but lack the knowledge and skills required so that they can procure food for themselves and their families, and interact with nature at a deeper level,” said Breton.

In the Fall of 2018, look for “Bucks That Got Away,” on Saturday, September 29, a workshop based on Breton’s recently published book of the same name, featuring tips for success for the thoughtful hunter and tracker.

On October 20, a Wild Game Processing workshop will help those new to the experience, and those looking to hone their techniques and learn from a professional butcher and avid hunter.

Other workshops and collaborations planned for the coming year include a film screening and land ethic discussion panel, duck decoy making, a shed meet and wild game dinner, and a youth fishing derby.

Westmore Mountain Challenge returns, 1 day 5 mountains

in Charleston/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Wheelock

EAST CHARLESTON — This coming fall the NorthWoods Stewardship Center is gearing up for their second annual Westmore Mountain Challenge on Saturday, October 13, 2018.

The 5-mountain marathon hike highlights some of the best natural features of the Northeast Kingdom during peak fall foliage, attracting local hikers and participants from throughout New England.

Hikers circle around the south end of Lake Willoughby to summit the mountains of Moose, Hor, Pisgah, Haystack and Bald, then either catch a shuttle or continue down the road for the full marathon distance back to NorthWoods Stewardship Center in East Charleston to celebrate.

“Last year’s event was a great success. We very quickly filled our 120-person limit and had a dozen more clamoring to sign up after registration closed,” said event organizer and NorthWoods Education & Outreach Director, Maria Young.

This year, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, which owns the land and sponsors the event, has agreed to increase the limit to 150 participants, to allow more people the chance to participate, while continuing to maintain a responsible and conscientious use of the trail system.

“There are many ways to participate, at all levels,” Young said. “Some people are trying for a best personal time, or first to finish. Last year we had a group from Sterling College who ran it as a relay, arranging their own pickup and drop-offs.”

All of the trails in the Westmore Mountain Challenge have been work projects of the NorthWoods Conservation Corps, which employs local youth crews to build and maintain miles of trails to public lands across the NEK and New England.

The proceeds from this event help support NorthWoods’ conservation, forestry, and education programming, including the youth crews who maintain the trails.

This year is looking even more popular than the 2017 inaugural hike, with over half the registration slots filled within the first few weeks.

Hikers interested in participating should move fast, with only 20 or so spots left.

To register, visit the NorthWoods Stewardship Center website at

Police chase ends in crash, vehicle fire in Charleston

in Charleston/Derby/Newport/News

CHARLESTON — A 51-year-old man from Derby is facing charges after leading police on a high-speed chase that ended after he hit a utility pole in Charleston.

Today at around 12:40 a.m. police conducted a motor vehicle stop on Vermont Route 105 in Derby.

The driver, identified as Derick W. Blake, got out of his vehicle during the stop and began to approach the trooper’s cruiser.

After being ordered to get back into his car, police say Blake sped off traveling east at a high rate of speed.

The trooper engaged in a high-speed chase that lasted for approximately 8 miles before Blake lost control and collided with a utility pole near Twin Bridges Road in East Charleston.

Blake’s vehicle became fully engulfed in flames. Troopers tracked him down on foot as he attempted to flee the scene.

Charleston VFD arrived to put out the fire and provide traffic control as power lines were lying across the roadway.

Blake is facing felony attempting to elude charges, as well as driving with a criminally suspended license, DUI refusal, and violations of conditions of release.

NorthWoods Stewardship Center plants over 7000 trees in Northern Vermont

in Charleston/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

CHARLESTON — Spring is always a busy time around the NorthWoods campus. The Conservation Corps Crew gears up to begin spring trail projects, the Forestry team starts fieldwork for management plans and invasive species control, and the Conservation Science program finds new homes for thousands of young trees and shrubs.

To date, the Conservation Science team has completed a scheduled 5 weeks of planting projects, with a total of 7,273 trees and shrubs, ranging in size and style from 18” live stakes and small tubestock, to bareroot trees up to 10 feet tall.

All have been planted at sites across northern Vermont.

The planting season began with three projects in partnership with the Connecticut River Conservancy.

The first week, the crew headed south to West Fairlee to complete two planting projects on tributaries of the Connecticut River. From there, they moved north to work on revegetating the area around the East Burke Dam removal site.

The next project took place on the Johnson Farm Wildlife Management Area in Canaan in partnership with the Essex County Natural Resources Conservation District and the VT Wildlife Fund.

At the end of the same week, the crew did a small reforestation planting on private property.

The final four projects were all riparian buffer planting projects that were funded by Ecosystem Restoration Program Grants from the VT Department of Environmental Conservation.

One project was on a small tributary of Lake Memphremagog in Newport, one was on Fish & Wildlife land on the Barton River in Coventry, and two were on the Black River in Albany.

The NorthWoods planting crew’s labor was funded through an Ecosystem Restoration Program Grant from 2017.

Charleston man sentenced to prison

in Charleston/Newport/News

NEWPORT — A Charleston man will spend time in prison after being sentenced last week on numerous charges.

Michael McFarland, 34, was sentenced on April 10, 2018, for charges of violation of conditions of release x 2, felony conspiracy to sell heroin, and sale of heroin.

The Attorney General’s Office prosecuted McFarland on an additional charge of sale of heroin.

Judge Robert Bent sentenced McFarland to serve 3 to 8 years in prison.

“The Orleans County State’s Attorney’s Office will continue its efforts to aggressively prosecute the people selling heroin within Orleans County,” Orleans County State’s Attorney, Jennifer Barrett said.

Anyone with information regarding the illegal sale of drugs in Orleans County should call the Northern Vermont Drug Task Force at 802-334-8881.

Domestic assault in Charleston lands man in prison

in Charleston/Newport/News

NEWPORT — A 58-year-old man will serve time behind bars for an assault that took place in Charleston back in 2014.

Walter Thompson, of Waterbury, was sentenced on Friday on two counts of 1st degree aggravated domestic assault and one count of domestic assault.

Thompson was convicted following a plea agreement and a contested sentencing.

During his hearing, Thompson acknowledged strangling his wife and damaging her teeth during the assault. Thompson attempted to strike his step-daughter when she tried to intervene.

According to court records, his step-daughter told police that on the night of the incident when she opened the door to see what was going on, she saw her mother gasping for air and that Thompson had one hand on her throat and the other holding her ponytail.

The victim told police that she tried to scream for help, but had no air left inside her. Thompson began squeezing her face with his other hand.

Almost blacking out, the victim bit down on his thumb.

Thompson pulled his hand away from the victim’s face, pulling her front tooth out in the process.

Thompson has previous convictions for domestic assault and sexual assault.

He was sentenced to serve 4 to 7 years for his crimes.

Since taking office in 2015, State’s Attorney Jennifer Barrett says that by holding batterers accountable and working to protect victims, her goal is to improve the criminal justice response to domestic abusers in Orleans County.

Police in Orleans County looking for mailbox vandals

in Brighton/Charleston/Holland/Morgan

HOLLAND — Local police are seeking the public’s assistance after a number of mailboxes were vandalized in five towns over the weekend.

On Friday, police were alerted to several mailboxes that were vandalized and a few that were missing from the Holland, Morgan, and Charleston towns sometime during the night.

Then on Saturday, police responded to several more reports that mailboxes were vandalized in the Newark, Brighton, and Charleston areas.

The victims say they thought they heard something at around midnight.

The Vermont State Police is asking for the public to assist in solving these crimes.

Mailboxes are considered federal property, and federal law makes it a crime to vandalize them. Violators can be fined up to $250,000, or imprisoned for up to three years, for each act of vandalism.

If anyone has any information about the individuals or vehicles involved, or perhaps someone was able to capture something on their surveillance or game cameras, contact the Derby Barracks at 802-334-8881.

Charleston woman seriously injured in head-on crash

in Charleston/Lowell/Newport/News/Westmore

LOWELL — A 36-year-old woman from Charleston was seriously injured in a two-vehicle crash near Lowell last night.

On Friday, at around 5:45 p.m., police and emergency responders were dispatched to a report of a crash on Vermont Route 100 in Westfield, near the Lowell town line.

According to police, Windy Bowman, 36, of Charleston, was headed north, and Victoria Mason, 28, of Johnson, was headed south when both vehicles collided head-on.

Bowman was transported by helicopter to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital for what police describe as “life-threatening injuries.”

She was the only occupant in her vehicle.

Victoria Mason and passenger Troy Mason were both transported to North Country Hospital for “serious injuries,” police say.

Two juvenile passengers in Mason’s vehicle arrived at North Country Hospital by a family member and only sustained minor injuries.

East Charleston man sentenced after 4th DUI

in Charleston/Newport/News

NEWPORT — A 63-year-old East Charleston man will have to serve time after being convicted for his fourth DUI.

Robert Skyes was sentenced on February 21, 2018, following a court trial.

Judge Robert Bent sentenced Sykes to 4 to 8 years, all suspended but 4 years to serve.

The State requested a wholly incarcerative sentence.

“Perhaps of most concern is Mr. Sykes’ patterns of being caught driving under the influence,” State’s Attorney Jennifer Barrett said. “This conduct poses a direct threat to the citizens of Orleans County.”

Driver injured in two-vehicle crash in Derby

in Charleston/Derby/News

CHARLESTON — Police were called to the scene of a two-vehicle crash on Hayward Road in Derby on Tuesday.

At around 3:00 p.m. crews responded to the scene and met with both drivers.

Police say 72-year-old James Driver of Charleston was traveling west and 59-year-old Roderick Lyon, also of Charleston, was headed east.

According to the report, Driver crossed left of center, striking Lyon head-on in the eastbound lane.

According to operators statements, both vehicles were traveling approximately 25 mph, and road conditions at the time of the crash were icy.

Driver suffered from what police say were “non-life threatening injuries” and was transported to North Country Hospital.

Both vehicles sustained extensive front-end damage were towed from the scene.

Lyndon State College men’s basketball team tours local schools

in Brighton/Charleston/coventry/Troy

NEWPORT — The entire LSC men’s basketball team met with junior high students at Coventry Village School, Troy Elementary School, Brighton Elementary School and Charleston Elementary School last week.

They met with over 263 students and talked about the transition to college, moving away from home, financial aid, scholarships, the recruitment process and the importance of working hard in school so they are prepared for college.

Coach Dave Pasiak talked with students about focusing on academics in high school and their own personal development to strive to be a good teammate, family member, and community member.

The junior high students had the opportunity to ask the players questions about their majors, why they chose Lyndon State, and how they developed their skills as basketball players.

While at Brighton Elementary School, the LSC student-athletes also met with younger students in preschool and third grade.

There will be free admission for students and their families to attend the LSC home game on January 20, when they play Husson University.

The women play at 1 p.m. and the men play at 3 p.m.

School bus rear-ended in Derby

in Charleston/Derby/News

DERBY — A minor accident involving a school bus took place in Derby on Thursday.

At around 4:15 p.m. police were notified of a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of VT Routes 111 and 105.

Police say Rachel Carter, 57, of West Charleston, was driving an empty school bus and had come to a complete stop at the stop sign on Route 111.

The bus was struck from behind by a 2008 Mitsubishi Eclipse, being operated by Rosanna Robinson, 24, of Derby.

According to the report, Derby Line EMT responded to check on Robinson.

Neither driver was hurt during the crash.

Both vehicles were able to be driven from the scene.

Dan Kilborn to receive George Buzzell Forest Stewardship Award

in Charleston/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

CHARLESTON — NorthWoods Stewardship Center recently announced Vermont Land Trust forester Dan Kilborn as the recipient of the fifth annual George Buzzell Forest Stewardship Award.

In honor of the esteemed county forester for which it is named, this award recognizes an individual who is making a positive impact on NEK forests.

As the VLT forester for the Northeast Kingdom, Kilborn is a gifted communicator who understands that good management comes from a strong connection to the land and works daily to educate landowners and the public in the latest forestry ideas and best practices.

An award ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the NorthWoods Stewardship Center on Wednesday, November 15.

During his 44 years as Orleans County Forester, George Buzzell exemplified the best practice of his trade, including research that helped to re-define sugarbush management in Vermont.

Buzzell also cast a welcoming, encouraging education and inviting the widest community into the conversation and practice of forestry.

With this award, NorthWoods honors the outstanding contributions of George Buzzell and recognizes others who are carrying the torch of forest stewardship in the Northeast Kingdom.

Three heroin-related arrests in Orleans county last week

in Charleston/Newport/News

NEWPORT — Three Orleans county residents were arrested on heroin-related charges last week.

Police say they have charged Michelle Churchill, 32, of Newport, for the sale of heroin after a controlled purchase of heroin was made by members of the Drug Task Force in Orleans county.

Churchill was cited at Northern State Correctional Facility.

Also during the week, the Northern Vermont Drug Task Force arrested Adam Carpenter, 32, and Jessica Carpenter, 39, both of Charleston.

Adam Carpenter was charged with aiding in the commission of a felony and Jessica Carpenter was charged with a sale of heroin after a member of the Northern Vermont Drug Task Force coordinated a controlled purchase of heroin with them in Orleans county.

The cases will be prosecuted by the Orleans County States Attorney’s Office.

Scampy’s burglarized early Friday morning

in Charleston/News

WEST CHARLESTON — Police say that a business in West Charleston was burglarized last week.

At around 4:30 a.m. Friday, October 13, police responded to a reported burglary at Scampy’s General Store.

Police say forced entry was made into the store and that numerous packs of cigarettes were stolen during the incident.

The suspect, dressed in camouflage, was seen running from the scene carrying a bag and getting into a vehicle headed east on Vermont Route 105, shortly before the call to police came in.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 802-334-8881.

West Charleston man facing charges

in Charleston/Newport/News

WEST CHARLESTON — A West Charleston man is facing charges after police say he aided in two controlled purchases of heroin.

Michael McFarland, 33, of West Charleston, was arrested on Thursday for two charges of violation of conditions of release and two charges of aiding in the commission of a felony.

Members of the Northern Vermont Drug Task Force say they conducted two controlled purchases of heroin in March and April of 2017, during which McFarland was present and aided in the controlled purchases.

McFarland was lodged in lieu of $150,000 bail.

The charges are being prosecuted by the Orleans County State Attorney’s Office.

NorthWoods’ Watershed Crew tackles water quality in the NEK

in Charleston/News/Northeast Kingdom

EAST CHARLESTON — This summer NorthWoods Stewardship Center welcomed the Watershed Crew to their multi-faceted Conservation Corps program.

This crew was tasked with completing projects in Vermont’s watersheds to improve water quality. The crew topped off their six-week water quality improvement program on Friday, August 4, with an impressive display of spirit, fortitude, and grit at the end-of-season Conservation Corps Field Day.

“Having this crew on the ground has been a huge opportunity for the community and for NWSC,” said Conservation Corps Director Ross Stevens. “By funding this 6-week jobs program, the crew was able to focus on implementing Best Management Practices or BMPs, to improve water quality, mostly on public land.”

Water quality BMPs include structures such as water bars, open top culverts, swales, infiltration steps, rain gardens, and buffers.

These practices are designed to slow the momentum of water as it runs across erodible surfaces and encourage it to enter the ground as soon as possible.

This can help to prevent erosion which is the root of so many of Vermont’s major water quality issues.

Over the course of the program, the crew completed a total of 17 infiltration steps, 9 open-top culverts, 3 rain gardens, and a bridge. Additionally, they built swales, retention ponds, and many water bars.

Project partners included the Towns of Danville, Glover, and Burke, Lyndon State College, Lyndon Institute, the Maidstone Lake Association, The Essex County and Caledonia County Natural Resources Conservation Districts, the Shadow Lake Association, the LakeWise Program, and the Nectar Landscape Design Studio.
Funding for the crew and their projects comes from an Ecosystem Restoration Program Grant from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VT DEC).

The NorthWoods Stewardship Center’s Conservation Corps program has a 22-year history of employing local youth to work on priority conservation projects in communities throughout the region with a special focus on the northeast kingdom.

The Corps builds and improves hiking trails, manages exotic invasive species, plants riparian buffers, and improves wildlife habitat, and supports ecosystem resilience.

Crashes in Irasburg and Charleston result in DUI charges

in Charleston/Irasburg/Newport/News

NEWPORT — Two drivers from Orleans County who were involved in car crashes will face DUI charges.

On July 1, at around 11:40 p.m., police were called to investigate a rollover crash on Dane Hill Road in Charleston.

Police say the driver, Caleb Kelley, 20, walked from the scene to a nearby residence. Kelley was arrested for suspicion of DUI, and released on a citation to a sober adult.

On July 3, police responded to the area of 900 Vermont Route 58 in Irasburg, for a report of a single-vehicle crash.

The operator of the vehicle was identified as Scott Souliere, 39, of Orleans.

Police say a strong odor of intoxicants was detected from Souliere, who partially completed standard field sobriety exercises.

Souliere has court ordered conditions not to buy, have, or consume any alcoholic beverages.

He was subsequently placed under arrest for suspicion of DUI and taken to the Derby Barracks for processing.

He will also face charges of careless and negligent operation and violation of conditions of release.

23-year-old Charleston man facing charges after hit-and-run in Morgan

in Charleston/Morgan/News

MORGAN — Police say a 23-year-old man from Charleston was involved in a hit-and-run on Wednesday, leading police on a search that ended in some woods near the crash scene.

Taylor Parenteau, 23, of Charleston, is facing charges of leaving the scene of an accident and negligent operation, following the incident.

At around 6:20 p.m. state troopers and Orleans County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report that a truck operating at a high rate of speed had struck another truck which was parked on Dumas Road in Morgan.

It was reported that the driver then fled the scene.

Upon arrival, police say signs were observed that the vehicle had been operating recklessly for a significant distance on Hayward Road and Dumas Road before striking the parked truck.

Witnesses told police they attempted to follow the driver but he had fled on foot through a nearby field.

A K-9 unit was deployed in the area to track the suspect, which led police through the field to a wooded area.

Parenteau was located in the woods after a brief search.

He was detained and released with a citation to appear in court for suspicion of leaving the scene of an accident and negligent operation.

According to police, the crash investigation revealed that Parenteau had been “driving at an imprudent speed,” when he lost control around a corner, “striking the victim’s parked truck before leaving the roadway and coming to a point of uncontrolled rest in a ditch.”

The truck Parenteau hit is reported to have been owned by William Manning, 72, of Island Pond.

Brownington man sought after leading police on chase

in Barton/Brownington/Charleston/Derby/Newport/News/Westmore

DERBY — Police are looking for a 37-year-old Brownington man, who they say led them on a high-speed chase through Orleans County this morning, before getting away.

At 12:00 a.m. police say they were notified of suspicious activity involving a GMC pickup parked in the woods in Derby.

Before police arrived to investigate, the vehicle had left the area heading towards Charleston. Police located the vehicle pulled off the roadway on Rte 105 near Rte 5A.

The driver, who police say was identified as Matthew Prue, was contacted and multiple indicators of heroin possession were observed within the vehicle, as well as indicators of impairment.

When the trooper directed Prue to step out of the vehicle to investigate, he slammed the door and fled down Rte 5A at a high rate of speed.

He was pursued for approximately 20 minutes through Charleston, Brownington, Barton, and Westmore, on multiple roadways as well as through fields, with speeds at times exceeding 100 miles-per-hour.

Police say he was observed throwing hypodermic needles and other small objects and bags out of the window during the pursuit. At one point, police say he drove towards a trooper who was attempting to turn around in the roadway, almost ramming the vehicle.

The pursuit continued into Westmore, briefly leaving the roadway into a field.

Due to Prue’s increasingly erratic operation, police say they slowed down and pulled back. As troopers rounded a corner in the direction he had driven, they saw the truck crashed into a tree and left disabled in the roadway.

Prue was not found at the scene of the crash.

Troopers searched the area extensively, both on foot and with a K9 unit, and were unable to locate him.

At this time, police are still looking for him.

  • mem3-2.jpg
    Kneeling L to R: Carolyn Ladouceur, Marelle Mosher, Caden Colburn, Ethan Sartwell, Justin White, Joe Hoadley. Second row: Ryleigh Bruce, Brady Wright, Victoria Bowen, Reeve Applegate. Back Row: Richard Colburn, Alexandra Guillette, Maurice Cerutti.
  • mem4-2.jpg
    Vicky O'Keefe tells the story of one of the oldest graves in Charleston
  • mem2-2.jpg
    Mr. Richard Colburn and Mr. Maurice Cerutti share facts and stories with a group of students.

Charleston Elementary School students learn local history while honoring military veterans

in Charleston/News

CHARLESTON — For over twenty years students from Charleston Elementary School, with the guidance of teacher Vicky O’Keefe and local historian Richard Colburn, have placed flags at the gravesites of military veterans for Memorial Day.

The practice continued on Wednesday.

In the past, the trip was for sixth-grade students only. They would listen to stories of their town from Colburn as well as do some research into local history and the people that made up the town.

In recent years the trip has changed to include fifth graders, as well as Maurice Cerutti.

Sixth graders are now responsible for sharing the stories as they remember them from the previous year and research that they have done. They have the opportunity to browse historical documents as well as visiting the local historical society and questioning Colburn.

The addition of Cerutti has broadened their knowledge as well. He has a binder full of the military stories behind almost all the veterans whose graves are marked with flags.

He also sang some of the songs that soldiers would have sung dating back to the Civil War.

“The trip not only provides kids with a sense of pride in their community, it gives them a sense of pride and respect for their country and the brave men and women we remember when observing Memorial Day,” said Eva Broome, a paraprofessional at Charleston Elementary School.

Drunk driver picked up in unregistered, uninsured, uninspected vehicle with wrong plates

in Charleston/Newport/News

NEWPORT — A 54-year-old East Charleston man was picked up by police in Newport after allegedly driving intoxicated, in a vehicle found to be unregistered, uninsured, uninspected, and bearing registration plates not assigned to the vehicle.

On Monday, at around 6:20 p.m., police say they were on patrol in Newport Center and stopped a vehicle for multiple traffic violations on Route 105.

The driver was identified as Walter Stanton.

Police say indicators of impairment were detected during the stop, and Stanton also informed the trooper he did not have a valid license. It was discovered through a DMV record check that his license was criminally suspended for multiple issues.

After failing sobriety exercises, police allege Stanton had been operating while under the influence.

A breathalyzer test was not obtained, and he was taken into custody for suspicion of DUI and Criminal-DLS.

Stanton’s vehicle was later found to be unregistered, uninsured, uninspected, and the plates displayed did not belong to the vehicle.

The plates were seized and the vehicle was towed from the scene, and civil action is pending for the traffic violations.

Stanton was processed and released to a sober adult with a citation to appear in court.

West Charleston man pleads innocent to felony possession of marijuana charge

in Charleston/News

NEWPORT — A 42-year-old West Charleston man pled innocent to a felony possession of marijuana charge this week.

Pierre Capron was in court on Tuesday to answer to the charge, stemming from an incident that took place on March 10.

Police say at around 11:30 p.m. they saw a vehicle turn west onto Route 105 in Charleston. According to court documents, State Trooper Daniel Lynch stated that he saw the vehicle accelerate up to around 80 miles-per-hour, before pulling Capron over near Willis Road.

Trooper Lynch said that he “observed indicators of the presence of marijuana,” and was given consent to search the vehicle.

The affidavit states that when the trooper confronted Capron about detecting the smell of marijuana, he handed over three large bags, which weighed a little more than two ounces.

Capron pled innocent and was released on conditions.

He was also issued civil violations for multiple motor vehicle violations during the incident.

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