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Eastern Townships

13-year-old boy killed in head-on collision in Stanstead, Quebec

in Eastern Townships/Quebec/Stanstead

STANSTEAD, QC — A head-on collision just north of the U.S. Border in Stanstead, Quebec, took the life of a 13-year-old boy on Sunday.

The tragic accident happened at around 4:00 p.m. on Highway 143, near the intersection of Chemin Curtis.

According to the Sûreté du Québec, a car veered into oncoming traffic and crashed head-on with another vehicle.

The victim, along with another boy who was 12-years-old, were passengers in the car that police say crossed into the other lane.

The driver and the two boys were taken to the hospital, where the 13-year-old passed away.

The other driver was also transported to the hospital to be treated for what police describe as serious, but non-life-threatening injuries.

“Our investigators are currently working to determine the exact cause of the collision,” said Sergeant Daniel Thibodeau, spokesperson for the Sûreté du Québec.

Highway 143 was closed for several hours on Sunday night to allow the SQ agents to do a complete analysis of the scene.

Vermont officials conduct zebra mussels survey on Lake Memphremagog

in Eastern Townships/Newport/News/Quebec

NEWPORT — In response to the discovery in July of zebra mussels in Magog Bay, Quebec, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VTDEC) surveyed the U.S. portion of Lake Memphremagog for zebra mussel adults and veligers, the microscopic zebra mussel juveniles.

On August 13, VTDEC snorkelers surveyed areas with suitable habitat in multiple locations in the American waters of the lake looking for adult zebra mussels.

Rocky areas in 1 to 8 feet of water were examined closely. No adult zebra mussels were documented at any of the locations surveyed using this method.

VTDEC also sampled for zebra mussel veligers at five locations on the U.S. side of the lake – three locations close to the border with Canada and two locations adjacent to Newport.

The veliger samples were analyzed under a microscope, and again, no zebra mussel veligers were detected.

Zebra mussels are an invasive species.

They are a small freshwater mollusk that attaches to firm surfaces and can clog pipes and other underwater infrastructure.

They are also filter-feeders, consuming microscopic aquatic life that is the base of the food web for our lakes. Their feeding habits can impact the native species that also consume those food sources.

Although zebra mussels have not been confirmed in U.S. waters of Lake Memphremagog, the lake will still be classified as positive for zebra mussels by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.

“It is extremely important that all users of the lake clean, drain, and dry their watercraft, trailers, and gear when leaving Lake Memphremagog,” said Kendall Lambert, Administrative Director of the Memphremagog Watershed Association.

“We do not want to spread zebra mussels to our other waterbodies.”

The Newport City dock boat washing and greeter station will be open through the end of the season for the public to clean, drain, and dry watercraft and trailers.

Flag exchange celebrates two active watershed stewards of Lake Memphremagog

in Eastern Townships/Magog/Newport/News

NEWPORT — Thirty people enjoyed a perfect summer day floating along the US – Canadian border to honor the dual citizenship of beautiful Lake Memphremagog and the anniversaries of the lake’s two active watershed stewards. 

Memphremagog Conservation, Inc (MCI), is celebrating 50 years and Memphremagog Watershed Association (MWA), 10 years. 

On board for the celebration were representatives from MCI and founding member of MWA Chet Greenwood, first president of MWA and founding board members, Ginnie Bowman, King Boyd, and Doug McKenny.

MWA is a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve the beauty and waters of over 22 lakes and ponds, east to Brighton, south to Craftsbury, west to Lowell, and north into Canada.

The rivers that flow north into Lake Memphremagog and on to Canada are the Clyde, Black, Barton and Johns. 

Activities of MWA include invasive species patrolling and cyanobacteria monitoring, education and outreach programs to encourage participation in the preservation of the environment and natural beauty of the watershed. 

The Clintons vacationing in North Hatley

in Eastern Townships/Quebec

NORTH HATLEY, QC. — Former U.S. president Bill Clinton, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, their daughter Chelsea and their two grandchildren are currently vacationing in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, at a small village just north of the border of Derby Line.

The family is staying at the Manoir Hovey in North Hatley, a village of 750 people, located at the north end of Lake Massawippi, about 20 miles from Derby Line.

Manoir Hovey is listed as number 19 on the world’s finest hotels list by Travel & Leisure Magazine. Last week, the U.S. Secret Service visited the resort to set up security during the family’s stay.

The Clintons will be staying until Aug. 19 in one of the suites.

The village of North Hatley was also the location for the shooting of a few films, including Secret Window with Johnny Depp.

Quebec man accused of smuggling guns through Haskell Free Library bathroom

in Derby Line/Eastern Townships/Newport/News/Stanstead

DERBY LINE — A 40-year-old man from Montreal was recently extradited from Quebec to face multiple federal firearms charges, including exporting firearms from the United States into Canada without a permit through the Haskell Free Library.

Authorities say that from July 2010 to April 2011, Alexis Vlachos, 40, of Montreal, working with Annette Wexler and another co-conspirator, bought approximately 100 handguns from multiple licensed gun dealers in Florida.

In purchasing these guns, the indictment alleges that Annette Wexler and her co-conspirator falsely stated on the ATF forms they were the true owners of the firearms when they were actually purchasing these firearms on behalf of Vlachos with the intention of smuggling the firearms into Quebec.

In addition, the indictment alleges that on March 25, 2011, Wexler and the co-conspirator traveled to Derby Line with multiple handguns and hid a small backpack containing these handguns in the bathroom of the Haskell Free Library.

Vlachos, who entered the library after walking from Quebec, went into the bathroom, retrieved the backpack containing the handguns, exited the library, and walked back into Quebec without going through the port-of-entry.

The indictment against Vlachos, returned by the grand jury in February 2015, contains five counts.

The first count charges Vlachos with conspiring to export approximately 100 handguns from the United States to Quebec without a munitions permit from the Department of State.

Two counts charge Vlachos with exporting specific handguns without a permit and the remaining two counts charge Vlachos with possession of specific firearms in the United States while in alien status.

Annette Wexler previously pled guilty to conspiring to make false statements to licensed gun dealers and unlawful exportation. Her sentencing is scheduled to take place in July.

At his initial appearance in the United States on June 5, 2017, Vlachos pled not guilty to the charges and did not contest continued detention until trial.

If he is convicted, he faces a maximum possible term of imprisonment of twenty years.

QNEK to present Steel Magnolias at the Haskell starting this Friday

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby Line/Eastern Townships/Stanstead

DERBY LINE — ​QNEK Productions is proud to present its final mainstage performance of the year with the lively and touching Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling. Equal parts heart and hilarity, the show is set to be the perfect addition to the Fall Foliage season.

Directed by Jenny Dunne and Assistant Directed by Phil Gosselin, this cast features fantastic talent from both sides of the border:

Anita Morin (Holland, VT)
Rhonda Lucas (Derby Line, VT)
Sally Rivard (Jay, VT)
Mary Hoadley (Newport, VT)
Susan Bourgeois (Newport, VT)
Kim Prangley (Stanstead, QC)

The action is set in Truvy’s beauty salon in Chinquapin, Louisiana where “anyone who is anyone” comes to have their hair done. Helped by her eager and awkward assistant Annelle, the outspoken, wise-cracking Truvy dispenses shampoos and free advice to the town’s rich curmudgeon Ouiser, an eccentric millionaire Miss Clairee, and the local social leader M’Lynn, whose daughter Shelby is facing life’s highs and lows in short order.

The tech team for this QNEK production includes Tech Director Dennis Zeigler, Set Engineer Rick Gosselin, Lighting Designer David Harrison, Stage Manager Allen Cubit, Light Board Operator Sara Cubit, and Set Designer Susan-Lynn Johns.

Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling plays at the Haskell Opera House October 9 – 18, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets and information are available by calling the QNEK Box Office at (802) 334-2216, visiting qnek.com, at the MAC Center on Main Street in Newport, and catamountarts.org.

​Photo (Clockwise from top left): Susan Bourgeois, Kim Prangley, Rhonda Lucas, Sally Rivard, Anita Morin, Mary Hoadley. Featured photo: Mary Hoadley.

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 3.59.12 PM

91-year-old man illegally drives convertible up Mount Orford to fulfill bucket list dream

in Eastern Townships/News

ORFORD, QC — A 91-year-old man crossed an unusual experience off his bucket list on Saturday, and received a $1,000 fine, when he set out to climb a Mount Orford ski slope in his convertible.

Officers of the Memphremagog Police Board received calls at around 1:15 p.m. on Saturday notifying them that an elderly man behind the wheel of a 2009 Chrysler Sebring Convertible was trying to reach the summit of Mount Orford by way of the ski slope.

The man, who police say was from Valleyfield, Quebec, was accompanied by his wife and another passenger who exited the vehicle at the base of the slope, and raised the chain barrier to allow his vehicle to pass.

Several hikers in the area attempted to wave the man back down, but he continued on his way. He eventually reached the summit.

After achieving his goal, he came back down the mountain on the same path, where he was greeted by police.

He told police that he had trouble walking, and wanted to reach the summit of Mount Orford before he died.

Police say that they ticketed him $1,000 for reckless driving, given the presence of hikers on the trail, and the danger of the stunt.

“The penalty did not seem to bother him too much,” said Lieutenant Sylvain Guay of the Memphremagog Police Board.

Mount Orford is a mountain and ski resort located in the Mont-Orford National Park in the Eastern Townships region of Quebec.

[VIDEO] Franc Robert at the Place del Monty in Stanstead

STANSTEAD — On Friday, the Stanstead House Concerts Network (SHCN) hosted their first performance at the Place del Monty Listening Room.

Back in the day the ‘Del’ was a rockin’ bar with a long tradition of serving up cold beer and hot tunes. Now it’s living a much more sedate life as a cafe, gift shop and art gallery.

With a look and feel right out of the 1970s the Place del Monty was a good alternative venue for the concert series, usually held at the Newman home in Stanstead.

After spending the better part of the last three decades performing his unique brand of authentic, Delta-style meets hardcore Son House blues up and down the Florida coast, the show was somewhat of a homecoming for Robert.

As a guitarist, he got hooked on the blues as a teen. After listening to Eric Clapton one afternoon in 1980, he obsessed about playing guitar.

“To the point it drove both my parents crazy, being locked away in my room, tiny amp blasting out what I was playing,” Robert said. “Eventually my mother stopped calling it noise and started calling it music – one of the better days in my life.”

A move to Montreal in 1984 brought him to Rouè-Doudou Boicel’s legendary Rising Sun Celebrity Jazz Club, where Taj Mahal, Buddy Guy, Art Blakey, and John Lee Hooker were among the artists who graced the stage.

“It was a great time back then. There was the Jazz Fest going at the time as well, with the blues stage just down the block from the Rising Sun.”

Robert started showing up at the Blue Monday Jam Sessions and eventually hosted some of the jams.

“You’d never know who would show up. Dutch Mason made it down, Jeff Golub sat in on my guitar one night, local harp legend Jim Zeller would come down, lots of touring bands’ backing people would show up. The place was really well known across Canada, and the best players made a point of stopping in when they could.”

Robert took his Quebecois blues roots with him when he relocated to Tampa Bay, Florida in 1990.

His 2014 release ‘Ride The Iron Road’ features the artist solo with his great voice and an awesome range of guitars.

For more information about Robert’s music, visit his website at: http://francrobert.com

Former Stantstead College security guard sentenced to 6 years in prison

in Eastern Townships/News/Stanstead

STANSTEAD, QC — Sylvain Bergeron, 44, of Ogden, was sentenced by an Illinois judge to serve six years in prison after he was found in possession of a large quantity of cocaine back in 2014.

According to court records, Bergeron was charged with possession of more than 900 grams of cocaine with intent to sell.

Bergeron, a former night security guard at Stanstead College, was stopped by Illinois State Police on January 10, 2014, for improper lane use and talking on his cell phone while driving.

A police dog assigned to the officer making the traffic stop detected the scent of drugs.

Officers later found a red duffel bag in the back seat containing the cocaine. Bergeron has been held at the Will County Jail in Joliet, Illinois since his arrest.

He pleaded guilty on Thursday to the charges and received the mandatory minimum sentence of six years imprisonment with no possibility of probation, avoiding the maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

[VIDEO] Weekend des arts Bleu Pastel at the Bleu Lavande farm in Fitch Bay, Quebec

in Arts and Entertainment/Eastern Townships/Quebec

The video above was shot during the Weekend des arts Bleu Pastel at Bleu Lavande farm in Fitch Bay, Quebec.

FITCH BAY, QC — More than 50 artists participated in the third annual Weekend des arts Bleu Pastel, held at the Bleu Lavande farm in Fitch Bay, Quebec.

The exhibition ran from June 27-28, kicking off the summer season at Bleu Lavande.

Artists, photographers and craftspersons of the region and throughout Quebec had their work set up on display for visitors, held amidst the beautiful 100,000 lavender plants on site.

Bleu Lavande is recognized as one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Eastern Townships.






Troy Fire Department Chief and North East International Mutual Aid (NEIMA) member Bobby Jacobs accepting a new U.S. Flag from Community National Bank Vice President Cindy LaGue.

Community National Bank donates flag to Northeast International Mutual Aid

in Eastern Townships/Troy

TROY — In a recent show of respect and admiration, Community National Bank Vice President of Branch Administration Cindy LaGue presented a 25 by 40 foot U.S. Flag to Troy Fire Department Chief and Northeast International Mutual Aid (NEIMA) member Bobby Jacobs.

The flag is a gift from the bank to NEIMA to replace the current flag that has been used for many years at various ceremonial events and local firefighters’ funeral services.

NEIMA is a nonprofit association made up of numerous fire departments across two countries.

Member departments include Albany, Ayer’s Cliff, Barton, Brighton, Charleston, Craftsbury, Derby Line, Glover, Irasburg, Jay, Lowell, Mansonville, Newark, Newport, Newport Center, North Troy, Orleans, Stanstead, Stanstead Township, Troy and Westmore.

The organization permits member departments to work together when extra resources are needed during an emergency, at no extra cost to the requesting department.

NEIMA also serves as a voice for its member departments when conversing with state officials on issues of interest to all of the members.

Each year, NEIMA hosts a regional fire school open to member and nonmember departments with course offerings to beginners and experienced firefighters to ensure safe and effective techniques are being used.

Troy Fire Department Chief and North East International Mutual Aid (NEIMA) member Bobby Jacobs accepting a new U.S. Flag from Community National Bank Vice President Cindy LaGue.
Troy Fire Department Chief and North East International Mutual Aid (NEIMA) member Bobby Jacobs accepting a new U.S. Flag from Community National Bank Vice President Cindy LaGue.

Most of the firefighters serving our communities are volunteers.

“Community National Bank thanks all departments and their members for their dedicated service,” a statement issued by the bank reads. “We appreciate all of your efforts.”

Magog police seize more than 300 marijuana plants during Thursday morning raid

in Eastern Townships/Magog/Quebec

MAGOG, QC — Police in Magog are reporting that they took down a major marijuana cultivation site this morning at around 8:00 a.m.

According to police, the bust took place on St. Anne Street in the Omerville sector. Police had been investigating the apartment building for more than two weeks, collecting evidence and waiting to be issued a search warrant.

During the raid, a 43-year-old man was at the location and police say they consider him to be the main suspect. He was arrested for cultivation of marijuana and possession of marijuana.

The search resulted in the seizure of more than 300 marijuana plants, an undisclosed amount of marijuana “in bulk,” and a production schedule.

Police also discovered the facility was stealing electricity, which was later confirmed by Hydro-Québec.

Magog police are saying that the suspect has several criminal records dating back to the early 1990s.

The Stanstead students from left to right:  Julia Gou, Pengyi Huang, Bob Chen, Aki Takeda, Ricarda Wingler, Paul Teng, Carson Son, Momo Takaoka.

Newport Area Community Orchestra, an orchestra without borders

The Stanstead students from left to right:  Julia Gou, Pengyi Huang, Bob Chen, Aki Takeda, Ricarda Wingler, Paul Teng, Carson Son, Momo Takaoka.
The Stanstead students from left to right:  Julia Gou, Pengyi Huang, Bob Chen, Aki Takeda, Ricarda Wingler, Paul Teng, Carson Son, Momo Takaoka.

NEWPORT — The Newport Area Community Orchestra has come a long way since first getting started. The orchestra started five years ago with about as many members. Today, under Music Director Ken Michelli, the group now consists of 50 members, and has truly become an international orchestra.

Due to a recent collaboration with Stanstead College in Stanstead, Quebec, the orchestra has added nine student musicians.

The Stanstead students come from Japan, China, Taiwan, Germany, Canada, and Korea. The group has also added Anni Liu, Frank Robinson, and Josh Calmes, three new violinists from the local community.

“We hope to increase that number each year from the new incoming freshmen classes,” Michelli said.

The orchestra presents four annual concerts, two in the fall and two in the spring. Although they continue to grow, they are still looking for more string players.

If you are interested in joining the Newport Area Community Orchestra, contact them at 802-766-3021 or visit their webpage at: www.newportareacommunityorchestra.org.

Photo by Tanya Mueller.

Locals take to curling at Border Curling Club

Players from the Tuesday night league at the Border Curling Club stop to take a group photo. All photos from this dispatch are by Tanya Mueller.
Players from the Tuesday night league at the Border Curling Club stop to take a group photo. All photos from this dispatch are by Tanya Mueller.

BEEBE, QC — Sometimes given the nickname “chess on ice,” curling is a sport that has roots in medieval Scotland, but is most firmly established in Canada, having been brought here by Scottish emigrants.

Located just up the street from the U.S. border, the Border Curling Club in Beebe, Quebec, is the place to go if you want to learn more about this interesting sport. With a membership just about split between 40 percent American and 60 percent Canadian, the club is truly international.

Picture 57So what is curling anyway? Many of us have seen it played on television during the Olympics, but might not fully understand the game.

Curling is a sport where players slide polished granite stones on a sheet of ice towards a target area segmented into four concentric circles, known as the “house.” The stones, also called “rocks,” weigh in at 47 pounds each.

Two teams, each consisting of four players, take turns sliding the rocks across the ice toward the house. Each team has eight rocks. The purpose is to accumulate the highest score, with points scored for the rocks resting closest to the center of the house at the conclusion of each “end,” which is completed when both teams have thrown all of their rocks. A game may consist of ten or eight ends.

The path of the rock can be influenced by two sweepers with brooms who accompany it as it slides down the ice, using the brooms to alter the state of the ice in front of the rock. The more they sweep the ice, the more the rock will travel.

It takes a great deal of strategy and teamwork as players work together to choose the ideal path and placement of a rock for each situation.

Picture 56Patricia Vana, from Derby, has been curling for fifteen years. She plays three times a week. Her career teaching French at North County High School fit well with being a member of the curling club. She used to bring groups up to the club to expose them to the French language. For Vana, the Border Curling Club provides a place for neighbors from both sides of the border to come together, and she enjoys that curling is something anyone can do.

“I like the fact that women can play as well as men in this sport,” Vana said. “It provides a physical activity, a mental activity, and it’s extremely social. I like the sweeping because it’s a really good workout, and I love the fact that this is a club where Americans and Canadians can play together.

Paul Bosco, who curls with his wife Elizabeth, is finding his way back to the sport after taking a 25 year hiatus.

Picture 55“I joined this club back in 1979, and I was a member for about five years,” Bosco said. “I took twenty-five years off when I moved out to Jay while I was raising my family, but I’m back now and have been curling here for about six years.”

Bosco also enjoys the way the sport challenges the physical and mental ability of those who play.

“It’s nice because it’s almost like being outdoors, and curling is a game that takes finesse and strategy,” Bosco said. “You have a combination of both physical and mental challenges to face.”

Getting involved in curling is not as difficult as it might seem as a beginner. The Border Curling Club offers clinics and workshops for newbies, and they even have some equipment that you can use while getting started.

“The best thing to do to get involved in curling if you might be interested is to come to one of our free workshops, and give it a try,” said Chris Planetta, who coaches the Stanstead College curling team. “The Friday night mixed league is a time for people to come out and have fun, and is less competitive than the Tuesday night league. On Saturday morning we have a program for kids and teenagers where they can try it out. It’s a lifelong sport.

Picture 59Anyone interested in trying curling can visit one or both of the free upcoming curling workshops:

Wednesday, December 3, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, December 7, at 1 p.m.

All that is needed is some warm clothing and a clean pair of sneakers. Questions or RSVPs can be sent to Pat at: 802-334-2590 or the club at: 819-868-0651.

You can visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/bordercurling.
They also have a website, located at: http://www.bordercurling.com.

For highlights from Tuesday night, watch the short video below:

police chase derby vermont newport
Mug shot of Valentina Velasquez, taken from a prior arrest. Photo courtesy of the Vermont State Police.

Quebec court orders psychiatric exam for international police chase suspect

in Derby/Eastern Townships/Newport/News/Quebec/Sherbrooke

police chase derby vermont newport
Mug shot of Valentina Velasquez, taken from a prior arrest. Photo courtesy of the Vermont State Police.
SHERBROOKE, QC — Valentina Velasquez, 31, of Newport, will undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine her ability to face the charges against her in Canada, after she led police on an international chase that started in Derby, and ended near Coaticook, Quebec.

The request for the evaluation came through her lawyer who was at the Sherbrooke Courthouse Monday afternoon. Velasquez remains in custody in Canada, where she faces charges of impaired and dangerous driving, armed assault, and flight from a peace officer.

It is expected that Velasquez will be held in Canada until her Canadian criminal charges are completed. She will then return to the U.S. to face her Vermont charges, which include attempted burglary, driving while license suspended, attempting to elude, careless and negligent operation, and larceny of a motor vehicle.

Velasquez is accused of attempting to break into the Derby Corner Mini Mart. Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the store early Friday morning, and encountered Velasquez attempting to leave in a tan Oldsmobile sedan.

A pursuit by several local law enforcement agencies followed Velasquez north on Route 5 to Derby Line, where she crossed into Canada at the Route 5 Port of Entry without stopping.

Canadian authorities continued the pursuit, eventually using spike strips to force the vehicle off of the road.

Velasquez was taken into custody by Sûreté du Québec in Coaticook. She was found at the time to be in possession of a firearm.

police chase derby vermont newport
Mug shot of Valentina Velasquez, taken from a prior arrest. Photo courtesy of the Vermont State Police.

Woman sends police on international chase after attempted burglary in Derby

in Derby/Eastern Townships/Newport/News/Quebec

police chase derby vermont newport
Mug shot of Valentina Velasquez, taken from a prior arrest. Photo courtesy of the Vermont State Police.
DERBY — A woman sent authorities on an international police chase this morning, after an attempted burglary in Derby.

Police received a 911 call early this morning from the Derby Corner Mini Mart, located at 3131 US Route 5, reporting that a woman was attempting to break into the store with a long gun. Troopers from the Vermont State Police and deputies from the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department responded immediately to the area.

Sheriff’s deputies, already in the area, arrived at the store and encountered the woman attempting to leave in a tan Oldsmobile sedan.

A pursuit was initiated by the sheriff’s deputies and agents from the US Border Patrol, who followed the vehicle north on Route 5 to Derby Line. The vehicle crossed into Canada at the Route 5 Port of Entry.

Canadian authorities continued the pursuit while Vermont law enforcement officers ended their pursuit at the border. Canadian law enforcement pursued the vehicle north towards Coaticook, Quebec. During the pursuit one Canadian police cruiser was rammed.

Ultimately, spike strips were deployed and the suspects vehicle was forced off the road. The sole occupant of the vehicle, Valentina Velasquez, 31, of Newport City, was taken into custody by Sûreté du Québec in Coaticook.

Velasquez was in possession of a firearm. Authorities also determined that the suspects vehicle had been stolen from a residence in Newport City where Velasquez was staying.

Vermont law enforcement are working with Canadian law enforcement in a joint investigation. In Vermont, Velasquez will be charged with Attempted Burglary, Driving while License Suspended, Attempting to Elude, Careless and Negligent Operation, and Larceny of a Motor Vehicle.

In Canada, Velasquez will be charged with Impaired and Dangerous Driving, Armed Assault, and Flight from a Peace Officer. Velasquez is also a suspect in numerous other local burglaries.

Velasquez was transported to the hospital for medical evaluation, but was uninjured from the incident.

Once released from the hospital, Velasquez will be held in Canada until her Canadian criminal charges are completed and then will return to Vermont to face Vermont charges.

Paula Yankauskas, 60, of Hyde Park, Vermont swimming the length of Lake Memphremagog. Photo by Phil White.

Three swim the 25 mile length of Lake Memphremagog

Paula Yankauskas, 60, of Hyde Park, Vermont swimming the length of Lake Memphremagog. Photo by Phil White.
Paula Yankauskas, 60, of Hyde Park, Vermont swimming the length of Lake Memphremagog. Photo by Phil White.

DERBY — Three marathon open water swimmers completed this year’s 25 mile, international swim between Newport, Vermont and Magog, Quebec.

The swim, called “In Search of Memphre,” started on Friday night, with five swimmers, but was halted by a thunderstorm that hit just an hour into the swim. It was rescheduled to Saturday night, with four swimmers at the start. Three left the ramp at The Gateway Center in Newport, at 11:02 p.m. The fourth started an hour later at 12:02 a.m.

Grace van der Byl, 36, of Solana Beach, California was the first to the finish, with a time of 11 hours and 33 minutes. She recently won the 28 mile Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. Her support crew included Margrethe Horlyck-Romanovsky of New York City and Eri Utsunomiya of Jersey City, New Jersey. This swim was Grace’s longest time in the water and her longest swim without current assists.

David Uprichard, 48, of New York, finished in 15 hours and 59 minutes. He was supported by Manuela Jessel of New York City, and Hayley Joseph of Coventry. David has experience swimming into Canadian waters, having completed Kingdom Swim’s 15 Mile Border Buster this past July. This was the longest swim of his life.

Paula Yankauskas, 60, of Hyde Park, swam into Magog as the sun was setting, finishing in 19 hours and 55 minutes. She was supported by Deborah Beier of Hyde Park, and Cynthia Needham, also of Hyde Park. She also had experience crossing into Canada during Kingdom Swim’s 15 mile Border Buster.

It’s believed that Paula is the oldest person to swim the length of the lake, ever. She smashed the record for the longest time in the water set by Elaine Kornbau Howley in 2011, with a time of 17 hours and 59 minutes.

Franco Prezioso, 48, of Bel Air, Maryland, swam to the Canadian Border, but pulled out at that point.

Three additional support boats accompanied The Search, piloted by Bruce and Karen Lippens of Derby, Greg O’Connor of Natick, Massachusetts, Robert Fernald of North Hampton, New Hampshire, Phil White of Derby, Pam Ladds of Newport, and Elaine Korbau Howley of Waltham, Massachusetts.

In Search of Memphre was started in 2011 on the weekend of the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The goal of the 25 mile, international swim is to promote a more open border between the United States and Canada and to search for the legendary and swimmer friendly lake creature, Memphre.

David and Georgeville

Recent arrest shows how Stanstead and Derby Line are used for human smuggling

in Derby Line/Eastern Townships/News/Stanstead

Human Smuggling Derby Line Vermont

DERBY LINE – A human smuggling operation that was foiled in Derby Line this week sheds light on how smugglers are using the area to bring foreign nationals into the U.S.

On the morning of September 2, 2014, Border Patrol agents in Derby Line encountered a male and a female after they had walked across the border through a clump of trees in a residential area. When the two individuals noticed the marked Border Patrol cruiser nearby, they began running in a southerly direction.

Agents apprehended the male, who proved to be Jose Segura-Perez, a Mexican national with no status in the United States. The female at that time evaded capture.

At around the same time, another Border Patrol agent noticed a man standing beside a vehicle on a street in Derby Line, near where the two illegal aliens had crossed. The hood on his vehicle was up and he was talking on a cell phone.

Border Patrol agents approached the man, who appeared to be nervous when questioned about his nationality and immigration status. Immigration officials learned that the man was Roberto Rivera-Ortiz, 27, a resident of the New York City area. Records showed that Rivera-Ortiz’s car had entered Canada at Niagara Falls last June, and had entered the United States at Derby Line earlier that morning.

Agents escorted Rivera-Ortiz to the Newport Border Patrol station.

It is believed that Rivera-Ortiz had transported the two aliens from Montreal to Stanstead, let them out to cross the border on foot, and then entered the United States lawfully in his car. He is accused of being in the process of attempting to pick them up to drive them to New York.

Border Patrol agents finally located and arrested the woman who had fled on September 2. She was also an undocumented alien, who had eluded Border Patrol for almost 24 hours.

Rivera-Ortiz appeared in United States District Court in Burlington on a charge of alien smuggling. If convicted, he faces up to ten years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $250.000.

The United States Attorney emphasizes that the charge in the complaint is merely an accusation and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty.

QNEK getting ready to present SUDS: The Rocking 60’s Soap Opera


DERBY LINE — QNEK Productions continues its 21st Season by presenting SUDS: The Rocking 60’s Soap Opera at the Haskell Opera House September 12, 13, 14, 19, and 20.

In the style of other jukebox musicals like Forever Plaid, Mamma Mia, and Jersey Boys, that use an artist’s or particular decade’s music to tell a story, SUDS sets a comedy in the world of the greatest musical hits of the 1960’s. If audiences aren’t grooving in their seats, they’ll be rolling in the aisles for this non-stop, bubbly-fun party for all ages.

Cindy’s birthday begins as sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but when the mail arrives, so does trouble, and her day just keeps getting worse. Alone in the world, and in the laundromat she works in, Cindy decides that she can’t go on. But, out of the blue two strangers arrive to save her.

Marge and DeeDee couldn’t be more different than one another, but they have one thing in common. They are both Cindy’s guardian angels, sent to earth to teach her about true love, and leading life to its fullest. What they didn’t plan on was needing a little help themselves. It turns out that guardian angels sometimes need guardian angels of their own.

With songs like You Can’t Hurry Love, RESPECT, These Boots Are Made for Walkin’, I Say A Little Prayer, Goin’ to the Chapel, and so many more, SUDS is a must-see for audiences of all ages.

Directed by Phil Gosselin with Musical Direction by Mark Violette, this fantastic four-person dynamo is led by Jenny Dunne as the loveably impressionable Cindy, with Ruth-Ann Fletcher as brassy, no-nonsense Marge, and Danielle Carrier as the manically perky Dee Dee. Phil Gosselin rounds out the cast, juggling the rest of SUDS’ delightfully memorable characters.

SUDS’ production team includes Stage Manager Lisa Foster McCrae, Set Engineer/Master Carpenter Rick Gosselin, Lighting Engineer Dennis Zeigler, and Production Assistants Emma Castle and Benjamin Barrup.

QNEK’s SUDS: The Rocking 60’s Musical Soap Opera runs for six performances, from Friday, September 12 through Saturday, September 20, at the Haskell Opera House in Derby Line, Vermont and Stanstead, Quebec.

Tickets and information are available by calling the QNEK Box Office at (802) 334-2216, visiting qnek.com, at the MAC Center on Main Street in Newport, or by advance purchase online or by phone at catamountarts.org and the Catamount Arts Box Office at 888-757-5559.

74-year-old woman attacked in Stanstead East

in Eastern Townships/News/Quebec/Stanstead

elderly woman attacked in stanstead quebec

STANSTEAD — Authorities in Quebec are saying that a 74-year-old woman from Stanstead East suffered a severe head injury on Monday morning after an altercation with someone she knew.

Melanie Dumaresq, a spokesperson for the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), said that the altercation was with someone the victim knew, but she did not want to specify the nature of the relationship.

At around 7:30 a.m., the suspect, said to be a 50-year-old woman, came in and attacked the victim with a blunt object. A neighbor, who heard screams come from the residence, called 911 to report the incident.

The woman was transported by ambulance to a hospital in Magog, and is said to have been conscious. Authorities have not released more information about the condition of the victim.

Police made an arrest in the case, locating the suspect at her residence, also in Stanstead.

An investigation was opened by the SQ and crime scene technicians were called to the residence of the victim. The suspect was questioned regarding the attack, and was in court in Sherbrooke on Tuesday.

Newport Area Community Orchestra kicks back into gear with fall rehearsals


NEWPORT — The Newport Area Community Orchestra is ready to begin their fall rehearsals, starting Tuesday, August 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the First Universalist Parish on Main Street in Derby Line.

The orchestra will begin preparing the music for their fall concert which will take place November 1, 2014 at the Goodrich Memorial Library in Newport.

The concert will include the following music:

Concerto for Harp by Handel (Abigail Stockman, soloist)
Concertino for Horns and Orchestra by Witt (Marc Semprebon, Ros Semprebon, and Anna Shelow, soloists)
Nocture for Cello and Orchestra by Tchaikovsky (Thurmond Knight, soloist)
Haydn Symphony No. 100.

This concert will feature the largest orchestra since the orchestra’s inception in February 2011. They will have around 34 members for the concert.

Music Director Ken Michelli, is reminding everyone that anyone is welcome to join in.

If interested, contact them through their webpage at: http://www.newportareacommunityorchestra.org/contact-us.html or call 802-766-3021

Nearly 300 march in solidarity with Gaza in Sherbrooke

in Eastern Townships/News/Quebec/Sherbrooke
All photos by Meziani Djahid.
All photos by Meziani Djahid.

SHERBROOKE, QC — Chanting “Isreal assassin,” and “vivre, vivre, Palistine,” as well as accusing Israel of genocide, nearly three hundred protesters took to the streets of downtown Sherbrooke on Saturday to march in solidarity with Gaza.

The large crowd started gathering on Place de la Gare, outside the Grand Times Hotel at around noon, and by 1 p.m. the group was ready to begin the walk, waving Palestinian flags, and holding up signs calling for an end to the military action in Gaza and condemning the escalating ground offensive by Israeli troops.

Many of the demonstrators wore the traditional black-and-white checkered scarfs that have come to be the symbol of the Palestinian cause. One protester had her entire face painted the green, white, black, and red of the Palestinian flag.

Despite the size of the crowd and the heavy traffic through downtown at the time, the march was orderly. Escorted by police, the protest was vocal and passionate, but remained peaceful. The demonstration received much local support, as bystanders looking on cheered the march, and cars driving by honked their horns in solidarity.

Sherbrooke protest for Gaza Quebec 1

The crowd was diverse, with many families participating with young children, some even marching behind strollers.

The organizers of the protest were three young women in their twenties, who used the power of social media, Facebook in particular, to quickly mobilize the group.

“We denounce the attacks of Israel, and we will not allow our government to speak for us and say that we support Israel,” Hanna Krabchi, one of the organizers said after the march on Saturday. “We are not with them, we’re with the Palestinian people until the end,” she added.

Along with Krabchi, the march was organized by Hasna Agourram, and Imene Djendli.

The majority of the protesters interviewed shared Krabchi’s view that one of the main reasons for the march was to let the Canadian government know that they are not representing them when they say Canada stands with Israel.

“Me, as a Quebecois, as a Canadian, I don’t support Israel, so I don’t know who told Harper that we as a Canadian people support Israel,” a protester named Harris said afterward. “It’s a long struggle that the people of Palestine have faced, but they will have victory in the end, God willing.”

Over the weekend, the Israeli-Gaza conflict sparked protests worldwide. On Sunday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the shelling of Gaza by the Israelis an “atrocious action,” and called for an immediate end to the fighting.

By Monday, the two-week old conflict has seen over 500 Palestinian casualties, nearly 100 of which were children.

The march led protesters in a loop through the city, ending back where they started from. In total, the demonstration lasted close to two hours, with many of the protesters facing the heat of the day while taking part in the 18 hour fasts that have been taking place during the month of Ramadan, where Muslims do not eat or drink anything from dawn until sunset.

Sherbrooke protest for Gaza Quebec 3

QNEK Productions revives Oliver! at the Haskell Opera House

Qnek productions Derby Line Vermont Oliver

DERBY LINE — In the current trend-driven world of story telling, where Hollywood mandates selling content through gimmicks or endorsements, we can always count on a classic to refresh and satisfy our taste for powerful and thought-provoking drama.
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens is such a tale. Award-Winning QNEK Productions will revive Dickens’ masterpiece on July 25, 26, 27 and August 1, 2, and 3, at the Haskell Opera House in Derby Line, VT and Stanstead, QC, with a production that is sure to excite and capture the hearts of all ages.
Published in 1938 by Richard Brentley, this timeless story follows the pure-hearted orphan Oliver on a quest for hope and belonging; love and family. From the harsh cruelty of workhouse child labor, through the savage criminal underworld of Victorian London, Oliver’s indomitably kind spirit leads him to the gentle and comforting home of the compassionate Mr. Brownlow, for a fairy-tale ending that is truly deserved.  

Lionel Bart adapted Dickens’ novel for the stage and set it to music.  Originating with a successful run on the West End in 1960, it opened on Broadway in 1963, winning Tony Awards for Best Scenic Design, Best Musical Direction, and Best Original Score.  With immortalized songs like “Food, Glorious Food”, “Consider Yourself”, “I’d Do Anything”, and “As Long as He Needs Me”, Oliver! has been a worldwide phenomenon for over 50 years, enjoyed by all generations. 

Directed by Phil Gosselin with Musical Direction by Jenny Dunne, and Choreography by Lynn Leimer, this all-star international cast of thousands is led by Marc Lamontagne and Eli Moore sharing the role of Oliver on alternating performances, John Young as Fagin, Brandi Ong as Nancy, Brian McCrae as Bill Sykes, and Molly Moore and Emily Wilkie sharing the role of The Artful Dodger on alternating performances. 

QNEK’s Oliver! features Jim Cross and Meg Norman as Mr. Bumble and The Widow Corney, Zoe Lucas as Bet, Alan Franklin as Mr. Brownlow, Steve Perlin and Judy Castonguay as Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry.  The colorful patchwork quilt of memorable characters is created by Kathy Boskind, Danielle Carrier, Bob Dunn, Lisa Foster, Gigi Gobeil-Judd, Brendan Hadash, Arden Leithead, Bianca Mackay, Deborah Mackay, Michael Moore, and Lonn Stewart.

The incredible children’s company includes Brandon Alexandre, Dayna Alexandre, Thomas Alexandre, Shauna Baraw, Marianna Barrett, Maya Brainard, Grace Castle, Caresse Comeau-Elman, Jim Gilbert, Charli Kellaway, Olivia Lemieux, Fletcher McCrae, Levi Mackay, Jillian Meredith, Josie Pearson, Dija Selby, and Victoria Young.  

Oliver!’s production team includes Stage Manager Lissy Barnes-Flint, Assistant Stage Managers Emma Castle and Keirstan Lague, Rehearsal Accompanist Chris Sellers, Dance Captain Danielle Carrier, Set Engineer/Master Carpenter Rick Gosselin, Lighting Engineer Dennis Zeigler, and Lighting Assistant Jake Borsari. 

Don’t miss this fantastic summer musical event. QNEK’s Oliver! runs for eight performances. The curtain rises on Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. 

Tickets and information are available by calling the QNEK Box Office at 802-334-2216, visiting qnek.com, at the MAC Center on Main Street in Newport, or by advance purchase online or by phone at catamountarts.org and the Catamount Arts Box Office at 888-757-5559.

Foraging for Flavor: A bounty of berries in Stanstead

in Eastern Townships/Quebec/Stanstead

Bleuetière l’Or Bleu berries Stanstead Quebec

STANSTEAD, QC — If you head just north of the border at Derby Line, Stanstead is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. Residents, businesses owners, and artists are working together to bring new life into the area.

One such project is the berry farm, Bleuetière l’Or Bleu. For the third summer, filmmaker Bashar Shbib, who has over 40 feature films under his belt, including the 90’s classic Julia Has Two Lovers, is pitching in to help manage this beautiful farm that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area.

Bleuetière l’Or Bleu, located on Route 143, next to the golf course, offers more than 5000 plants of blueberries, along with 3 acres of raspberries. The farm also offers other berries including white currents, Saskatoon Berries, known in the U.S. as Pacific Serviceberry, Western Serviceberry, Alder-Leaf Shadbush, Dwarf Shadbush, Chuckley Pear, Pigeon Berries, or Western Juneberry.

For the first year the farm will also offer cherries. Gooseberries, black currents, and both black and purple raspberries are also among the other fresh produce the farm offers, including fresh picked corn in season.

Everyone is invited to hand pick blueberries, raspberries, and juneberries, from early July until the end of August, Labor Day weekend. They also offer plenty of gladiolas and sunflowers for sale, along with fresh local honey and home made jams. The fields are well maintained and easy to access.

The farm is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information call 819-876-7568 or visit them on the web at: www.bleuetorbleu.com.

You can also watch the video the farm has released below:

Bleuetière l’Or Bleu from Sunset Pictures on Vimeo.

Illustrated history of Lake Memphremagog coming soon

history of lake memphremagog

NEWPORT — Georgeville Press has announced the upcoming release of Memphrémagog: An Illustrated History / Une histoire illustrée, written by Louise Abbott.

The book will be the first landscape history of Lake Memphremagog and its surroundings. The book launch will take place August 9 in Newport.

Abbott spent three years doing meticulous archival research, on-site explorations, and oral history interviews, in order to trace the origins of the Memphremagog region and to examine the ways in which natural and man made forces have altered it.

This bilingual coffee table book will be 308 pages with 175 richly illustrated reproductions of historical photos, paintings, maps, as well as ninety contemporary photos by Louise Abbott and Niels Jensen.

The retail price is expected to be $49.95, with the Memphremagog Conservation Incorporated receiving a portion of the proceeds from sales.

Book launches will take place in various locations around the lake from late July to October, including July 20 in Georgeville, July 24 in Austin, August 2 in Mansonville, August 9 in Newport.

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