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Nelson Farms Ordered to Stop Polluting the Clyde River

in Derby/Derby Line/News

DERBY LINE — The Vermont Attorney General’s office announced a win this week in a water quality case against two farms owned by the Nelson family. The preliminary injunction order was handed down by Orleans County Superior Court Judge Howard VanBenthuysen, against Nelson Farms on November 6. The injunction states that farm operators are not allowed to discharge manure and other agricultural waste into the Clyde River, or the Crystal Brook.

The state alleges Nelson Farms allowed manure and other dairy operation drainage to overflow and discharge directly into the Clyde River from its farm in Derby Center, as well as directly into the Crystal Brook from its Derby Line location.

According to the press release from the attorney general’s office, the Nelson’s Clyde River farm has 450 dairy cows, and 200 heifers, and the Crystal Brook location has 575 dairy cows.

Nelson Farms has until Dec. 15 to present plans to the state as to how both locations will permanently eliminate any potential waste runoff entering the brook or the river. They also must allow inspectors on site to inspect the farms anytime between 6 a.m. – 9 a.m.

“Vermont farmers are stewards of the land and provide many environmental and economic benefits to our state. However, it is not acceptable for farmers to allow barnyard waste to pollute our waterways,” Attorney General William Sorrell said in the press release.

“Although an acre of farm land produces less phosphorus than an acre of urbanized land, excess phosphorous in our waterways from any source deprives freshwater fish and plants of essential oxygen.”

“The State’s agricultural water quality laws and programs are designed to assist farmers to help keep our waterways clean,” Sorrell said. ”When voluntary compliance efforts fail, however, the Agency of Agriculture, the Department of Environmental Conservation and my Office will work cooperatively to take enforcement action.”

Click to download the injunction (PDF)

Click to read the Attorney General’s press release.

The Town and the Village: Derby Line Voters Cross Town to Vote on the Same Issue

in Derby/Derby Line/News

Derby Line Village HallDerby―Voters from Derby and the village of Derby Line overwhelmingly voted yes to bond for the funds needed to move forward with a water system upgrade.

Voters in Derby were simply voting yes or no to borrow the $410,000 needed to help split the cost with the village of Derby Line for the new waterline to the Derby Elementary School. The town agreed to contribute to the cost of the new waterline extension because it was a safety issue, and currently there is not enough water flow to aggressively fight a fire if one ever broke out at the school.

The village of Derby Line voted yes to bond for the $1.2 million needed for the entire cost of the project, but, since they are also residents of the town, they were allowed to go to the ballot box at the Municipal Building in Derby Center, and vote on the $410,000 loan.

Village Clerk Sharon Booth and village Clerk Fay Morin reminded voters from the village that they had the opportunity to cast their votes across town as well.

Now that the bond vote is over, plans will move forward to upgrade the water system.

On Main Street, 1,200 linear feet of new 10 inch diameter waterline from Louis Street, running south to Valentine Avenue, will replace the original 4 inch cast iron waterline.

The installation of approximately 4,900 linear feet of new 8 and 10 inch diameter waterline will begin at Forest Avenue, run along Forest Terrace, and continue west through the corn field to Derby Elementary School.

The final design will be completed in February. Construction is set to begin in April and finish in September.

The average Derby Line resident resident pays about $370 per year for water. The village portion of the annual loan payment will be around $53,000, increasing the water rate an extra $85 dollars per year.

The town of Derby anticipates raising the funds to pay their portion of the annual loan payment through town property taxes.

The breakdown of the vote was as follows:

Derby Line – 69 yes | 12 no

Derby – 195 yes | 42 no

Voter turnout was low, at about 20 percent in Derby Line, and less than 10 percent in Derby.

Newport Area Community Orchestra Tuning Up For Fall Concert

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby Line/Newport

DERBY LINE — Inside the social hall of the First Universalist Parish in Derby Line, the atonal sounds of violinists and cello players warming up, echos off the walls. String bass player Jessica Griffen staggers in under the weight of her instrument. Once the orchestra has set up, music director Ken Michelli stands facing the musicians, ready to lead them into their first score.

NACO 1“Remember to be real secure with the entrances,” Michelli advises.

Over the next hour and a half, the Newport Area Community Orchestra, or NACO, as they are known, will rehearse for their upcoming concert at the Goodrich Memorial Library in Newport.

With Mr. Michelli conducting, the orchestra ran through its repertoire. Although only a rehearsal, members of the orchestra played with intensity, and as the night progressed, Mr. Michelli had a lot to be excited about.

“This might be our best concert yet,” Mr. Michelli said to the group following rehearsal Tuesday night. “It happens every year at about this time, that things really start to click. Each year we continue to improve.”

Not only does the orchestra continue to improve, but they continue to grow as well. In their third season as an ensemble, the number of musicians involved has grown rapidly.

“We started with five members, but now we’re up to about thirty,” Michelli said.

NACO 2As members of the orchestra packed up their instruments, they were noticeably pleased with the way they are playing together. There was a sense of excitement in the room, with members realizing that NACO is maturing into a fine orchestra.

“I’ve been with this orchestra since its inception, and each year it just keeps getting better,” flute player Sue Brassett said.

Marc Semprebon, a horn player from Beebe Plain, expressed his appreciation of having a space like the hall of the First Universalist Parish to rehearse in.

“It’s nice to rehearse in this building because it’s big, and usually much louder than the places we will actually play,” he said. “It’s just a great building.”

Besides performing at various local venues throughout the year, the Newport Area Community Orchestra presents three annual concerts. They play once in the spring, and twice in the fall, with one fall concert done to raise money for the Haskell Opera House.

NACO4NACO’s fall concert at the Goodrich Memorial Library is Saturday, November 9, at 1 p.m. Admission will be free, however, to help support the orchestra’s efforts of bringing classical music to the Northeast Kingdom, a $5 donation at the door is asked.

The group serves the student communities of North Country Union High School, Lake Region Union High School, United Christian Academy, and Stanstead Academy. Students are encouraged to join.

All that is left of the home which was destroyed by fire Tuesday night in Derby Line.

Fire Blazes in Derby Line – Firefighter Injured, But Okay

in Derby Line/News

Derby Line Fire 1DERBY LINE — The fire which destroyed a vacant house on Highland Avenue in Derby Line Tuesday evening, left one firefighter injured.

Derby Line firefighter Tanner Jacobs was taken from the home on a stretcher and rushed to North Country Hospital.

“The building collapsed on one side, and trapped him inside. It pinned his legs down,” a fire investigator said on site Wednesday morning.

“He’s fine. He went to the hospital but was released. It was just a bumps and bruises type of thing,” he went on to say.

Derby Line Fire 2At about 8 p.m. Derby Line firefighters arrived on the scene. While flames blasted out of the roof, back up came from across the boarder, with members from the Stanstead, Quebec, department helping to contain the blaze.

The house belonged to Dale Bennett, who was having the house renovated for sale. However, as of Tuesday night when the fire started, it was still vacant. A few residents of Highland Avenue described the house as extremely old, perhaps one of the oldest in the village.

Neighbors gathered around to watch the fire, and a few talked about the possibility of arson, based on witnessing the way the fire so quickly engulfed the home.

IMG_9104Wednesday morning, when asked, one of the fire investigators confirmed that it was being investigated, but that arson is not always suspected based on how quickly a fire spreads.

“Right now we’re waiting on an excavator to get a good look at things, but when you run into a fire that has a lot of ventilation, it can seem as though it’s an accelerated fire, but that’s not always the case,” the fire investigator said.

As of noon Wednesday, Boarder Patrol was on site, along with the fire investigators, keeping watch on the destroyed home.

Dancing in the Aisles at Derby Line Village Hall

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby Line

DERBY LINE — Over 80 people filled the Derby Line Village Hall for a night of old-timey music and dancing. The 4th Friday Music Jam is an ongoing event which has been taking place in Derby Line for 11 years now.

Jimmy Edwards kept the room thumping with his electric bass throughout the night. He later sang Willie Nelson’s, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” As many as five acoustic guitars strummed along throughout the night as the band of musicians entertained those in attendance.Derby Line Village Hall Music

The jam is more about the camaraderie of everyone involved, than showcasing anyone in particular, or the musical ability they possess. With so many different musicians on hand, each calling out a new tune to play, sometimes it can take a whole song before the group finds the groove.

“Well, we figured it out by that last note,” one guitar picker said jokingly to the other players behind Mr. Edwards on lead vocal.

Besides bringing people in the community together for a night of fun and music, the event is also run for charity. Each year, the group raises money to provide music and auto tech scholarships to students from Lake Region Union High School and North Country Union High School.

On a sad note, Pauline Marsden, 63, of Island Pond, who was recently killed in a car accident in Morgan on Wednesday, was a regular at the event. A sympathy card was organized as a way for people who knew Ms. Marsden to offer their condolences to her family.

“We’re passing around a card for people to sign for her family because Pauline and her three sisters used to love coming out to the jam,” Kitty McIntyre said.

Kitty and her husband Jim have been organizing the event for the past six years.

Demonstrators gather outside U.S. Port Of Entry in Derby Line to stand with Mi’kmaq Nation

in Derby Line/News

Derby Line—It’s not often that you pass through a port of entry into the United States, and you’re greeted with the sounds of Native American drumming, chanting, and the smell of burning sage. If you entered the U.S. at Derby Line on Route 5 Saturday afternoon between 12-4 p.m., that was exactly how you were welcomed in.

Ten people came out Saturday afternoon to Derby Line to voice their opposition of the practice of hydraulic fracturing.

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gas inside.Derby Line Vermont.jpg

The demonstrators were particularly opposed to the practice when done on lands belonging to Native Americans. They stood in solidarity with a wave of protests that have broken out in New Brunswick, where members of the Mi’kmaq Nation have been taking a stand against a company conducting seismic testing, which many believe is a prelude to fracking operations.

The protests in New Brunswick have recently escalated, with Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Arren Sock, who had issued the company an eviction notice on October 1, and the band’s council, being arrested on Friday.

The demonstration in Derby Line was also part of a larger, worldwide movement scheduled for Saturday, known as “Frackdown Day.”

On U.S. Route 5, demonstrators, mostly Native Americans from the United States, gathered across the street from the port of entry, playing drums, chanting, and holding up signs in the direction of motorists entering the country.20131020-150846.jpg

“Our hearts and prayers are with the Mi’kmaq Nation in New Brunswick, being forced to have fracking done on their land. The Canadian government is not respecting the native treaties,” Melody Nunn of St. Johnsbury said while taking a break from drumming.

Ms. Nunn went on to express her motivation for organizing the event coming after seeing images of clashes between Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and protesters in New Brunswick.

“The image of the siege that will stay in my heart is a Mi’kmaq woman on her knees, holding an eagle feather as her only defense from several hundred RCMP with loaded rifles. It’s their land, and we’re here to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters across that boarder.”

The decision to stage Saturday’s demonstration so close to the port of entry was made late Friday night. Although they did not foresee any problems, they were aware of the possibility of running into opposition from authorities.

“The message today outweighs the outcome of any trouble we might face,” Kevin Carney stated when asked about the legality of demonstrating in the location. Mr. Carney traveled from New Hampshire with his wife to attend.

Like most of the cars that passed by after entering the U.S., Boarder Patrol agents waved to the group to greet them as they drove past during routine patrols of the area. It was a peaceful scene.

Members of the group were quick to point out that for them, the gathering was not a protest.

“We are not here as a protest. We are here with good in our hearts, not anger, to show our support for the people of the Mi’kmaq Nation,” Ms. Nunn said.

When asked what people could do to help if they wanted to support the cause, the group agreed that informing oneself and others is the best thing anyone can do.

“Spread the word, and go out and tell people to find out what’s happening to Native people,” Mr. Carney said.

“It’s about government and business, power and greed working together to take what they want, when they want. It’s not right, and most people when they know what’s going on would agree with that,” Neil Chaske said.

Mr. Chaske, originally from Manitoba, is part of the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation. He has lived in Orleans, Vermont for the past two years.

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