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Photos by Tanya Mueller

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

in Derby/News

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.

Nelson Farms – Highest Recipient of Dairy Subsidies in Orleans County

in Derby/Derby Line/News

DERBY — According to the Environmental Working Group Farm Subsidy Database, Nelson Farms, who was recently ordered to stop polluting two local waterways, is the highest recipient of Dairy Program subsidies in Orleans County. According to the database, they have also received the third highest amount of Dairy Program subsidies in the State of Vermont.

The Environmental Working Group Farm Subsidy Database tracks $256 billion in farm subsidies from commodity, crop insurance, and disaster programs, as well as $39 billion in conservation payments, between the years of 1995-2013.

Nelson Farms was recently taken to court by the State of Vermont Agency of Agriculture and the Agency of Natural Resources for discharging waste into the Clyde River and the Crystal Brook.

Last week, the Attorney General’s office announced a win in the water quality case against Nelson Farms. A 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 waterways.

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 a 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.

Between 1995-2013, Nelson Farms received $540,986 in dairy program subsidies, the highest in Orleans County.

Nelson farms dairy subsidies 2

The amount ranks third highest overall in the state of Vermont.

Nelson farms dairy subsidies 1

“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 a 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.”

Between 1995-2013, Nelson Farms received a total of $1,213,303 in USDA subsidies.

derby Vermont arts and Crafts fair

Dailey Memorial Library’s Christmas Arts and Crafts Fair a Success

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby/News

DERBY — “Looking to the future while preserving the past.” These are the words guiding the capital campaign for the expansion project of the Dailey Memorial Library. With some of the proceeds from this years Christmas Arts and Crafts Fair going toward the expansion project, Saturday’s event both looked toward the future of the library, while preserving the past, marking the 22nd time that the annual event has taken place.

1 derby Vermont arts and Crafts fairInside the gymnasiums of North Country Junior High, visitors were treated to an eclectic mix of products that showcased the rich tradition of arts and crafts throughout the region. There were 33 vendors involved this year, selling a range of products.

Riley Brooks, of B3 Balsam, brought out a line of products made from ground up balsam firs. The pleasing smell of the soft, fir stuffed pillows, were a popular seller Saturday morning. According to Mr. Brooks, the fir scent of the pillows will last for many years.

“We were at a craft expo when we found Maine Balsam Fir Company, the supplier who we buy our dried firs from,” Mr. Brooks said. “We bought a pound that night, and since we had a fir pillow that was 16 years old and still smelled nice, we decided to try and make our own. B3 Balsam started that night using a 1940 Singer Straight Stitch machine.”

Mr. Wambach, from Nic & Wambach Creative Arts based out of Red Hook New York, said he visits his sister once a month in Vermont, and enjoys drawing the state’s picturesque scenes. His display showcased some of these works.

derby Vermont arts and Crafts fair 1“I enjoy the beauty of Vermont, and it’s a place with a phenomenal amount of history,” he said.

One of his favorite Vermont scenes to draw are covered bridges.

I plan to do as many of the covered bridges as I can. There are 138 in the Northeast Kingdom, and I’d like to draw all of them,” he said.

His work can be found at the East Side gift shop, or visit them online.

Richard and Vera Long, of Long Branch Wooden Bowls, brought out their entire inventory of wood turned bowels.

To make the bowls, the couple haul the logs in from their property in Holland. It takes about ten to twelve months for each piece to be finished. Mr. Long starts with a rough cut, then shelves and dates each piece. Once dry, they are put back on the lathe for a final shaping. The bowls are finished in walnut oil and beeswax.

IMG_9293“I hand sign each piece with a wood burning tool,” Vera Long said. “Because they are heirloom gifts, many customers want them for a wedding present. I put the name of the couple with the date they were married on the back.”

Jim Hutchins, of Hutch and Ricka Custom Leather Carving, displayed an assortment of handcrafted leather and hardwood items made in Newport Center. A sign which read, “little hands welcome to touch,” was posted above the display, encouraging the curiosity of the many children who came out Saturday. Their work is part of the Wooden Horse Arts Guild, and can be viewed online.

Kimberly Covert, from Covert Essentials of Enosburg Falls, was busy selling personal care products. She started her own line of products after working for an all natural skin care company in New York. Covert Essentials started making soap, but has evolved into much more.

Her biggest seller has been her deodorant products.

IMG_9265 (2)“I wanted a natural deodorant that actually works,” she said. “Using a combination of organic coconut oil and beeswax forms a nice barrier, and combined with some powder, keep you dry for a really long time.”

Her products can be found in Stowe, but should soon be available in the Newport area.

Saturday’s craft fair lasted until 2 p.m. Although the event draws many people every year, this year was especially steady. The money raised will go to the operating fund of the Daily Memorial Library, as well as the capital campaign for the expansion project.

To see a video of what the new library will look like, please watch the video below.

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.

Penn’s Fish House of Vermont Grand Opening – Making You Rethink Fried Food

in Derby/News

DERBY― After eating at Penn’s Fish House of Vermont, you will realize that there are two types of fried food. There is the over-battered, usually deep frozen variety that we have grown used to suffering through, and then there is the proper, thin-battered variety that is something much different. Penn's Fish House Derby Vermont 1Penn’s will make you forget whatever you thought you knew about the subject. Until you experience fried food done properly, you will never know what you’ve been missing.

Exactly one month since opening their doors, Penn’s Fish House celebrated its grand opening in Derby with a benefit event that saw 50 cents of every meal going toward North Country Hospital.

It was a full house Friday night, with word spreading around town that there is something special about this place. Although Penn’s offers grilled food and salads as well, it’s the fried food that they serve which has people talking.

Penn’s commitment to fresh ingredients is part of the reason that your first meal there is sure to surprise you.

IMG_9283“Nothing is pre-battered. When the order comes in, we cut the fillets, batter it, and cook it fresh,” Vikram Sood, who owns Penn’s, said Friday night.

The other secret to Penn’s unique taste, is in the batter they cover the fresh fillets in.

“This type of fried food is totally different than what people in this area are used to. Our batter is crispier and much thinner. This soaks in the least amount of oil.”

The fired catfish with hushpuppy I tasted Friday night perfectly demonstrated this concept. The thinner batter made for a fried meal that was light and extremely tasty. It was a pleasant surprise from the first bite through to the last.

In bringing Penn’s to Derby, Sood has taken a style of cooking unique to one specific region of the United States, and slightly altered it to match the tastes of the Northeast.

IMG_9277“It seemed like an interesting idea to introduce food from the southern United States into this part of the country. We slightly altered some recipes to match the taste of the region, with haddock and tilapia being favorites up here,” Sood said.

The haddock is the number one selling item at Penn’s, with catfish a close second.

If you order the hushpuppy to go with your meal, Sood is quick to point out a little tip. He suggests mixing the red hot sauce that sits at the table with some mayonnaise. It is good advice.

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Walmart in Derby, Vermont – It’s Not Just About Buying Underwear

in Derby/Newport/Opinion
Walmart and Vermont, business as usual.
Walmart and Vermont, business as usual.

The following quote is from earlier in the year:

“The Village of Newport and the people of Derby voted overwhelmingly to support having a place to buy underwear so we don’t have to go to Littleton,” said Sen. Robert Starr.

Senator Starr (D-Essex/Orleans), was addressing the fact that in 2010, 85 percent of voters supported the idea of a Walmart being built in Derby.

Well, when it was announced Wednesday that a deal had been made between developer Jeff Davis, Preservation Trust, and the Vermont Natural Resources Council, that there would be no opposition against the new Walmart store so long as Davis pays $200,000, we should all have felt a little insulted.

If you read between the lines, the message is that bribes and blackmail will be tolerated by us locals, so long as in the end we have a place to go buy underwear. After Wednesday’s payoff, Davis has won the fight, and can now ride into town, the hero, throwing underwear at us locals. He can throw a few hundred thousand dollars at the so-called conservation groups, which, is a very low amount compared to the money he will be taking away from local businesses like Pick & Shovel. Supposedly, everyone wins.

There is more to this deal than most people realize, because it sets a new standard of using the permitting process as a way to extort money. Both sides have used the people of Derby and Newport as a guise for making a large amount of money, in the end, both getting what they want.

VNRC and Preservation Trust win an easy payday, literally getting $200,000 for doing nothing, developer Jeff Davis will make plenty of money as we all flock to Walmart, getting our share of the prize…underware.

We are worth more than that, and Vermont should pride itself on being a state that has not been bought out by big businesses like Walmart. We still have a tradition and a culture around here that is free from the likes of superstores and corporate giants swallowing up every little business in its path.

If VNRC and Preservation Trust have agreed to stand down in opposition of the project, that does not mean that everybody else has to.

Walmart and Vermont, business as usual.

The Payoff That’s Not a Payoff: For $200,000 Opponents Promise Not to Fight Walmart in Derby

in Derby/Newport/News

DERBY–Preservation Trust and the Vermont Natural Resources Council have agreed not to oppose a Walmart Superstore in Derby. The two Vermont conservation groups made a complex deal with developer Jeff Davis, the Shumlin administration, and the Legislature, requiring Davis to pay $200,000 for future improvements to downtowns throughout Orleans County.

The deal, signed September 25th, and unveiled in Burlington Wednesday afternoon, was welcomed by Newport City Mayor Paul Monette and Derby Select Board Chairman Brian Smith, who have been trying to bring Walmart into the area for years. Davis could possibly apply for local permits for the Walmart Superstore within 30 days.

For not opposing the future Derby store, Preservation Trust will receive payment once the store is built, with the $200,000 used entirely for grants to help downtowns in Orleans County. In addition, the state will add $500,000 to its downtown improvements tax credit program.

Davis also agreed to pay $600,000 over six years to Newport City. The city will use the money to ease the economic impact the store will bring.

“To me, the most important thing was to get Newport and Derby a Walmart,” Davis said.

One final addition to the deal is that Davis agreed that for the next five years, he will not seek to build any other Walmart stores outside other Vermont downtowns.

Both conservation group executive directors brought up the fact that there was a lack of organized opposition to the Derby store, and that the deal reached was a fair compromise, given the fact that a long battle could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In the past, both Derby and Newport City voters have supported the idea of an agreement with Davis being made in order to move the project along. In 2010, 85 percent of voters favored a Walmart in Derby being built.

When asked if the deal amounted to a payoff to stop fighting the Derby Walmart, Paul Bruhn, executive director of Preservation Trust, stated, “We don’t think of it in that way.”

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.

Apple Cider Flowed in Derby Friday Night at the Coutts-Moriarty Camp

in Derby/News

It’s a simple, two step process. You have to grind the apples somehow, and then squeeze the heck out of them. Step two requires a tremendous amount of force, and step one requires that something sharp be continuously moving as the apples are fed through.

It should come as no surprise that all you would have to do is search YouTube for “homemade apple grinder,” or “homemade cider press,” to see just how incredibly dangerous the whole process can be when someone tries to build their own contraption to accomplish these two steps.

Kasen helps load apples into the grinder Friday night.
Kasen helps load apples into the grinder Friday night.
Although there are ways to get ‘er done with an electric drill and a 5 ton bottle jack, luckily for everyone who came out Friday night to the new heated lodge at the Coutts-Moriarty Camp in Derby, there was a much more elegant, and much safer machine on hand. It was so safe in fact, even the kids took turns running it. However, a few needed to be reminded not to put their hands in the grinder.

With minimal effort, the cider was flowing.

Around 50 people came out for the free community event which was organized by Jason Brueck of the Coutts-Moriarty Camp. It was an eclectic mix of people, music, and apples, and it was just the type of event that Mr. Brueck had in mind while the new lodge was being built.

“One of our big goals is to be a community resource, and to have lots of different people from the community come out tonight was great,” Mr. Brueck said.

IMG_9186Guests were encouraged to bring their own apples to run through the machine, and make their own cider. Many, like Holly Spencer from Derby, came with buckets filled with apples they had collected from all over town.

“I got my apples from somebody I know who has a small orchard in Morgan, and some also came from North Troy,” Ms. Spencer said, proudly displaying her mason jars filled with the amber colored liquid.

If you didn’t have any apples to press, a $3 donation got you a quart of cider to take home.

Members of the Plymouth State University Choir, featuring North Country graduates Hannah Chambers and Kyle Quirion, put on the short concert that followed the cider pressing. Those who came out Friday night were treated to sounds that ranged from solo saxophone, to a capella music. The concert concluded with a jazz combo playing Thelonious Monk.

The musicians, who are Music Education students, sat through a day of classes that ended at 4 p.m., and a two hour drive from New Hampshire, in order to put on the concert.

“The kids all had fun, and there was even a couple of dogs, so we’re really pleased with the way the night turned out,” Jason Brueck said after the event.

IMG_9214The people at the Coutts-Moriarty Camp are settling into their new 80-by-40 foot Education Lodge and Hall. The facility can hold up to 80 guests.

“This is only the first winter we’ve been up and running with this new heated building, so now that we’re able to have year round events, we’re pretty excited.” Mr. Brueck said.

For more information on the Coutts-Moriarty Camp, visit them on the web, and to see the proper way to make cider, have a look at the video from Friday’s event below.

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