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Three Charged for Assault Outside Troy General Store Plead Not Guilty

in Derby/Feature/Newport/News/Troy

NEWPORT — Three men who were charged in an assault that took place outside the Troy General store on March 6, were in court on Tuesday. All three pled innocent to the charges.

Jonathan J. Degre, 19, of Newport Center, pled innocent to a felony charge of aggravated assault.

Casey Wheeler, 38, of Derby, and Daniel Beaumont, 25, of Newport, each pled innocent to aggravated assault and disorderly conduct by fighting.
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Authentic Dominican Republic Cuisine Served Up in Stanstead

in Derby Line/Feature/News/Stanstead

STANSTEAD, QC — The name Cuisine L’abeille, which translates to “The Kitchen Bee,” is one that fits restaurant owner Lucia Sanchez’s story.

Lucia was born in a little village in the Dominican Republic. She learned to cook in what she describes as the “natural” way, by spending time with her family in the kitchen. Her father was a beekeeper, and as a young girl she watched her father working with bees, and learned some valuable lessons in life.
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Demolition Permit Issued to AnC Bio Vermont

in Feature/Newport/News

NEWPORT — A land use permit to start demolishing part of the old Bogner plant was issued to AnC Bio on Monday. The permit, issued by the District 7 Environmental Commission to Jay Peak Biomedical Park, also known as AnC Bio Vermont, came six days after being issued municipal permits by Newport’s development review board. Demolition could begin as early as June.
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Airport Expansion Will Impact 38 Acres of Forested Wetlands in Coventry

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — Under the Clean Water Act, The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) needs an Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) permit to move forward with the proposed construction at Newport State Airport. The construction involves a runway extension and several new buildings and facilities being built. Public comment on the issue is being sought by the ACOE on or before May 8.

According to a draft of the vegetation management plan for the expansion project, approximately 76 acres of tree clearing will take place, half of which is wetland. The 38.4 acres of forested wetlands will be cleared, and subsequently sprayed with herbicide to prevent regrowth.
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Construction of AnC Bio Could Start by June

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — The Jay Peak Biomedical Park, also known as AnC Bio, was issued municipal permits by Newport’s development review board. If not appealed within the next 30 day, the next step will be the Act 250 process.

The development review board stated that developer Bill Stenger, along with his team working on the project, had met the requirements needed for the permits. John Harlamert, chairman of the review board, went as far as to say that:
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Catastrophic Exercise Drill to be Held in Newport

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — It’s a frightening scenario. An illness spreads across the state of Vermont, or a catastrophic disaster occurs, causing mass amounts of people to seek emergency treatment at their local hospital. The hospital will be overwhelmed, and forced to open up a medical surge site. At the same time, there will be people showing up needing a place to stay.
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Newport Man Faces Felony Charge After Offering to Help Police

in Feature/News

NEWPORT — “I could give you a hard time if I wanted to, but I’m not,” Trevor Smith is reported to have said on March 12, following a strange incident that landed him in front of a judge, facing a felony charge.

Smith, 32, of Newport, was arrested after he repeatedly offered to help police transport a child that was left outside shortly during an arrest on Route 105 in Derby, while the child’s mother was being arrested. Smith pled innocent to the charge of impeding a public officer.
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Bald Eagles Slowly Recovering in Vermont

in Feature/Vermont

Photo by John Hall, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

NEWPORT — The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is asking bird-watchers to give nesting bald eagles a hand this spring by enjoying them from a safe distance.

Bald eagles are slowly recovering in Vermont after being absent in the state for decades. Their nests are mostly found along the Connecticut River and the surrounding waterways, although some bald eagle pairs have begun nesting in other parts of the state.
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Seymour Lake Association Planning to Sue State of Vermont

in Feature/News

MORGAN — The Seymour Lake Association’s (SLA) Board of directors announced that they plan to file suit this week against the State of Vermont, Agency of Natural Resources (ANR). The lawsuit is the culmination of six years of what SLA characterizes as “fruitless discussions and inaction by ANR, resulting in continued water quality degradation, property damage, and violations of an existing Vermont statute and a Vermont Supreme Court decision, both specific to water levels at Seymour Lake.”
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Rasputitsa Bike Race A Big Success in Newport

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — “Rasputitsa,” is Russian for “the mud season.”

The first annual Rasputitsa Spring Classic, a gravel road bicycle race, came to Newport on Saturday. The race covers 47 miles, 31 of which are gravel. The event raises money for the Mary E. Wright Halo Foundation, which helps people in Orleans county struggling with the costs of cancer.

About 350 riders came out to Newport to start the race at 9 a.m Saturday morning. The race finished in Newport as well.

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Ansel Dickey, of Woodstock, took home first place, finishing the race in 2:28:27.9. Ted King finished just 5 seconds behind Dickey, and Tim Johnson came in third about a minute later.

Lyne Bessette, from Knowlton, Quebec, finished at 2:48:37.7, taking home first place in the women’s category.

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The race took riders through some of Vermont’s coldest and most barren landscapes. Riders came through Troy, Jay, Westfield, Lowell, and Coventry.

The race was started by Dirty 40 Productions, which was created by Newport area residents, Hiedi Myers and Anthony Moccia. The group is getting ready for another race in August, the Dirty 40 Fall Classic, which will start at Junior High Drive in Derby.

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The upcoming race in August is hailed Vermont’s toughest gravel road race, covering 60 miles. The Dirty 40 will also raise money for the Halo Foundation. For more information on the Dirty 40, click here.

Photos courtesy of Instagram users: cyclosomatic, vincemalo, swinney, morganbps, hbroek, bbeecc56, cppow, anseldickey, philipharwood, rdruttenberg, thomparsons, and Dirt Wire TV.

rasputitsa bike race newport vermont

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Representative Kilmartin Receives Apology for Accusations of Racism

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — Newport City representative Duncan Kilmartin received an apology on Friday after being accused of using racist language on the House floor during a debate last Wednesday.

The apology came from Rep. Jean O’Sullivan of Burlington, who had responded to Kilmartin’s statements while debating on a bill regarding education.

According to an account by the Vermont Press Bureau, Kilmartin had stated:

“We are an all-white population. Texas scores for all-white population in Texas – not the Hispanics and other minority groups – actually do better than Vermont. When you parse the statistics, we are not doing as well as we claim because we compare ourselves continually to other states which have large minority populations.”

According to the Vermont Press Bureau, O’Sullivan responded:

“I don’t want ever to hear a conversation that sounds like it came out of 1838, not 2014. Conflating academic achievement with race is offensive to me and to everybody. I cannot sit in this chamber and listen to that kind of dribble.”

In his remarks on the House floor on Wednesday, Kilmartin was citing statistics that Art Woolf, a University of Vermont economics professor, had published online at VT Digger. You can read Woolf’s article by clicking here.

On Thursday, Kilmartin addressed his remarks from the previous day. According to the Vermont Press Bureau, Kilmartin stated:

“In my entire life, I have never been accused of being a racist and I think the accusation that bothers me the most – notwithstanding years of experience as a trial lawyer where passions can run high – I was accused of conflating race with educational achievement, as if that were some cardinal sin, and it was equated to being dribble. I’m very sorry that I had to do this because to accuse another person or to imply that they’re a racist, based upon a quotation of federal statistics, I think is appalling.”

The spat between the two was short lived, and O’Sullivan apologized on Friday. In fact, the two quickly decided to put the incident behind them, agreeing to meet for dinner.

“I received a genuine apology, and everyone there knew that it was genuine,” Kilmartin said in an interview on Friday. “We can both be passionate, and there have been times that I’ve run across the line, and had to apologize. Like Shakespeare said, “all’s well, that ends well.”

Burglary at Rite Way Sports Shop: Guns Stolen

in Feature

HARDWICK — Another gun shop was robbed last night. Rite Way Sports in Hardwick became the second gun shop in the area to be burglarized in the month of April.

Hardwick Police are working with Federal Authorities in the investigation. Several handguns were stolen from the store during the burglary.

The late night break-in showed a high level of sophistication and planning, as the electricity was cut from behind the building prior to the forced entry at the front of the building.

Police are asking for assistance from the public and to report any suspicious activity anyone may have seen in the area during the late night hours of April 19, or early morning hours of April 20.

This is the second time this month that a gun shop was broken into, and guns were stolen. On April 4, Mr. O’s Sporting Goods in Newport was robbed, with several firearms stolen at the time.

Car Accident Friday Morning in Derby Line

in Feature

DERBY LINE — Four people were taken to North Country Hospital on Friday morning following a car accident on U.S. Route 5 in Derby Line.

Lisa Dingman, 53, of Newport, was driving a 2009 Toyota Corolla, and was exiting a private driveway located off Route 5 at around 9:30 a.m. Monique Higginson, 35, of Derby, was headed south in a 2004 Kia Optima, when the collision occurred.

Both operators and passengers were wearing their seat belts and sustained non-life-threatening injuries. Dingman, Higginson and Higginson’s two passengers, were transported to North Country Hospital by Derby Line and Newport ambulance to be treated for their injuries.

Both vehicles sustained damage and were towed from the scene by East Main Auto out of Newport. The Toyota had extensive drivers side damage, and the Kia had extensive front end damage.

Derby Line fire department and Orleans county sheriff’s department were also dispatched to the scene.

Party in Irasburg Turns Violent: Four Arrested

in Feature/News

IRASBURG — A wild party last night in Irasburg became a crime scene after a large fight broke out inside. A home next door to the party was also vandalized in the process, leaving Vermont State Police calling for backup from the U.S. Border Patrol. Many were underage, and four were arrested.

On Friday, April 18, the police were called to the Rowell residence in Irasburg at 11:45 p.m. after they contacted the authorities to report that their window had been smashed out by a rock that someone had thrown from a large party next door at Thomas Pingree’s residence. According to police, the Rowell’s reported that there were kids outside yelling for Mr. Rowell to come out and fight. They were also throwing bottles all over the place.

When the police arrived, a large fight had broken out inside Pingree’s home. The police were forced to enter the residence by force and subsequently had to restrain numerous people who were actively fighting. The state police requested assistance from the Border Patrol as the crowd numbered roughly 50 people.

Numerous people fled the area when the police arrived, however, many were screened for alcohol consumption. Several tickets were issued for underage drinking.

Pingree, 25, was cited for unlawful mischief and enabling the consumption by minors.

One man, age 18, was charged with providing false information to a law enforcement officer. Two others were charged with disorderly conduct and under age consumption of alcohol.

The police are saying that the case remains open and additional charges may be forthcoming at a later date.

Police Launch Traffic Operation Between Vermont and Quebec

in Feature/Newport

DERBY LINE — If you thought you noticed an increase in law enforcement and border patrol in the area this morning, you did. The Vermont State Police, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, and the Quebec Provincial Police, are announcing that they will be working together over the holiday weekend in a joint traffic enforcement initiative called “Operation Road Safety Without Borders.”

The operation started this morning, kicking off Easter weekend. In a statement issued by the VSP, the initiative is in anticipation of increased traffic for both inbound and outbound travelers between the United States and Quebec. The statement goes on to say:

“This is an opportunity for Canadian and U.S. police to demonstrate that the risk of being intercepted is the same everywhere. Officers will target speeding, seat belt compliance, distracted driving, and impaired driving.”

The initiative will continue through Saturday at 2 a.m, and will be a statewide effort throughout Vermont, with each state police barracks participating.

“High visibility aggressive traffic enforcement can influence driving behavior and reduce traffic crashes,” said Lt. Garry Scott, Vermont State Police Traffic Safety Commander. “The Vermont State Police look forward to working with our neighboring law enforcement agencies during this initiative.”

The Quebec Provincial Police hosted a press conference this morning at 10:00 a.m. at the Champlain/Lacolle border crossing, in Québec, Canada. The New York State Police, New Hampshire State Police, and Maine State Police are all taking part in the initiative as well.

Car Stolen in Newport

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — A car was reported stolen from Newport Center sometime early this morning, and whoever made off with the vehicle did not have to work too hard. The keys were left inside the vehicle.

The police are saying that at 8:05 a.m. Thursday, April 17, they received a call that a car had been stolen from Leadville Road in Newport Center.

The owner of the vehicle, Patrick Corkins, 43, of Newport, stated that his 2007 Ford Escape, color red, had been stolen sometime overnight.

He is reported to have said that it must have been sometime after midnight, and that there was a quarter tank of gas inside the vehicle.

The license plate number is FXY789.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Vermont State Police.

Police Looking for Missing Runaway From Saint Johnsbury

in Feature/News

ST. JOHNSBURY — The search continues for runaway Lauren Blackmon, now age 17. During the early morning hours of October 9, 2012, Blackmon, ran away from her residence on Moose River Drive in St. Johnsbury.

Blackmon, who was living with a friend’s family, was facing relocation out of state. It is believed she intentionally ran away to avoid the move. Within a month of running away, there were reported sightings of her in the St. Johnsbury area. However, since these initial reports, no further sightings were made to authorities.

The case remains open and active with the Vermont State Police. Follow-up interviews with family, friends, and associates of Blackmon have not revealed any new contact between Blackmon and these individuals.

Blackmon will turn 18 in October of 2014, but the Vermont State Police remain concerned as there is no indication she is prepared to provide for herself, and officials would like to confirm her welfare.

At the time Blackmon ran away, she was approximately 5’7″ tall, weighing approximately 170 pounds, with hazel eyes, and blond hair.

Derby Line Credit Union Manager Gets 3 Years for Defrauding Over $633,000

in Feature/News

DERBY LINE — Debra Kinney, 59, of Derby Line, was sentenced to three years imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release, after pleading guilty of defrauding Border Lodge Credit Union accountholders of over $633,000. According to court papers, Kinney’s acts of embezzlement occurred over a period of years.

Kinney was the manager of the Border Lodge Credit Union in Derby Line. In November 2012, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with state and federal bank regulators, searched the credit union and seized the documents and operations of the financial institution based on evidence of widespread fraud and misappropriation of accountholders’ funds.

After an ensuing investigation, Kinney was indicted. Federal credit union regulators permanently shut down and liquidated the assets of the credit union.

Kinney pled guilty to the federal fraud charges in January, 2014.

According to court papers, Kinney would frequently write checks to herself or for her benefit, and for that of family members drawn from credit union accountholders without authorization. A subsequent financial investigation determined she removed hundreds of thousands of dollars from multiple accountholders. All told, the investigation revealed improprieties with 33 different accounts.

All of the losses of individual accountholders were insured by the National Credit Union Administration which insures credit union accounts up to $250,000. As part of the liquidation of the credit union, the National Credit Union Administration paid accountholders for losses they suffered. To date, Kinney has not paid any restitution.

Woman Rescued From Flood Waters in Montgomery

in Feature/News

MONTGOMERY — A woman was rescued in Montgomery on Tuesday at around 5:30 p.m., after being stuck in rising flood waters on Longley Bridge Road. Police and a local resident, using a large farm tractor, were able to pull the woman out of her vehicle to safety.

Vermont State Police received the call that a full sized truck was caught in the flood waters.

Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Corporal McKenney was the first law enforcement to arrive on scene. He and nearby resident, Stanley Longley, saw that the truck was still occupied. Realizing the woman inside was sitting in the frigid water and fearing the vehicle may be swept away, Corporal McKenny and Mr. Longley took action.

Mr. Longley obtained his farm tractor from his residence and drove it to the edge of the flood water. Corporal McKenny boarded the tractor and they backed into the water towards the stuck vehicle. Once at the vehicle, Corporal McKenny was able to break a window and pull the woman out of the truck.

McKenny, with the assistance of Enosburg Rescue member Dean Scott, was able to get the woman to the tractor. They then drove all involved to safety.

Members of the Vermont State Police, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Enosburg Rescue, and area fire departments responded to the scene. During their response units found direct routes to the stuck vehicle were impassible due to flood waters and heavy mud on the back roads. This drastically increased response times as alternative routes were sought.

At one point a responding ambulance and fire truck were stuck in heavy mud on Longley Bridge Road.

The woman was not seriously injured and was transported to Northwest Medical Center for precautionary purposes.

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3 Families in Barton Temporarily Displaced by Flooding

in Feature/News

BARTON — Three families needed to seek temporary shelter last night as the power was shut off at their apartment building at 66 Glover Road in Barton, as the water level rose in the building’s basement.

The Red Cross is reporting that volunteers supported the displaced residents in Barton, as well as Lyndonville last night as flood waters continued to rise overnight.

In Lyndonville, six residents sought refuge at the local fire department, where the Red Cross provided the staff, equipment, and food to open a temporary shelter.

All of those in need of assistance were able to head home by 7:30 a.m. as waters receded. The assistance provided overnight, as with the frequent assistance provided this winter to families devastated by house and apartment fires, is provided by the American Red Cross without charge.

All of Orleans County is still under a flood watch issued by the National Weather Service. A flood watch means that there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts.

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Ice Out on Memphremagog: Colby the Winner

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — The Gardner Park Restoration project has an extra $860 to work with, and John Colby of Newport has an extra $431, thanks to the conclusion of the Lake Memphremagog ICE OUT Contest.

Tuesday morning, at exactly 1:01 a.m., the ice went out on Lake Memphremagog, officially ending the contest.

Residents and visitors to Newport had been watching the ICE OUT mascot, a pink and white rabbit holding a hockey stick that was propped up in the bay off the Causeway bridge, and wondering when the rabbit was going to finally sink. Contestants were asked to predict the exact date and time that this would happen, and Colby was only 7 hours and 31 minutes off. He took home first place, beating out Parks and Recreation Director, Andrew Cappello, by only 5 minutes.

Colby purchased 5 tickets for the contest, and said he is considering spending his prize money on a ski pass for next season. He also said that he would buy a few more ICE OUT entries for next winter.

This was the first year that the Newport Parks and Recreation Department hosted the fundraiser, and the money brought in will help fund the Gardner Park Restoration Project as they continue working toward a new playground and park improvements in Newport.

The Newport Parks and Recreation Department said that they would like to thank everyone for participating and supporting the cause. They also say that next year they have set a goal to sell twice as many tickets, which would double the pot.
 
Tickets for next year’s ICE OUT can be purchased year round at the Newport Parks and Recreation Department office, or online at www.NewportRecreation.org.

The Newport Parks and Recreation Department also maintains an active Facebook page, so head over there as well and give them a “like.”

Photo by Suzanne Zisselsberger.
Photo by Suzanne Zisselsberger.

Green Mountain United Way Working to Improve Lives in Orleans County

in Feature/Newport

DERBY LINE — Most people have heard of the United Way, but not everyone knows exactly what they do. From her office above Community National Bank in Derby Line, Madeleine Roy, the Community Development and Marketing Director for Green Mountain United Way, is working to change that.

“I have many people ask me what it is the United Way does, so I spend a lot of time answering this question,” Roy said.

The United Way mission is to mobilize communities, and create lasting changes in local conditions that will improve lives. They are a worldwide organization that has been around for 130 years now. There are eight United Way organizations in the state of Vermont. Green Mountain United Way covers five counties, including Orleans county.

They are behind some popular local programs, including a grant that they awarded to the Green Mountain Farm to School program, which established the community garden in Newport.

“We are a health and human service organization, and we do community assessment, trying to find strengths and weakness in a specific area,” Roy said. “We see what the cause of a problem might be, and focus heavily on prevention. Our priorities are education and health.”

A while back a study came out that 53 percent of children in the Northeast Kingdom do not have the basic skills they need when they start their education. This is a problem that the Green Mountain United Way is working to address.

“How many times have you been in a grocery store, and a child is sitting in the shopping cart, with the parent paying no attention to the child?” Roy asks. “We discovered that this can be a good learning experience for the child, a time to engage them and work with them to develop the basic skills they need before entering school. The parent could work with the child to learn numbers, or teach them the color of the bananas. What we do in this example is collaborate with parents and organizations, providing them the tools and techniques to get kids to start learning immediately.”

Low income is another issue in the Newport area that the Green Mountain United Way is working to address.

“Again, we focus on prevention, hosting financial literacy workshops to students and adults, teaching the basics of budgeting, savings, and credit.”

Green Mountain United Way also works with other non-profit organizations, networking within different groups. Through their website they established a volunteer network to connect people with a place to volunteer in a specific area, working as a conduit for organizations looking to find volunteers.

One of the biggest fundraising efforts Green Mountain United Way does is called a “business campaign.” Local businesses allow them to come in and talk with their employees, asking them to pledge a certain portion of their paycheck to the organization. About 60 percent of their funding is done this way, but that money stays local. North Country Hospital, Price Chopper, Shaws, and Community National Bank are some of the biggest supporters of their work.

For more information, visit the Green Mountain United Way online.

Sherbrooke Woman Processed for Suspicion of DUI at U.S. Border

in Feature/News

DERBY LINE — The police are saying that a 25-year-old woman from Sherbrooke, Quebec, was taken into custody at the U.S. border in Derby Line on Thursday, after she was believed to be intoxicated. Customs officers became suspicious when the woman tried to enter a closed entry lane, and ran over several cones.

The woman is reported to have tried to cross into the U.S. at the I-91 Port of Entry at around 11 p.m. on Thursday, April 10.

U.S. Customs Officers advised that she drove her car into a closed lane of entry, running over several cones that marked the lane closure in the process. Officers are reporting that upon speaking with her, they detected a strong odor of intoxicants, and several signs of intoxication.

The Vermont State Police arrived, and the woman agreed to standardized field sobriety exercises. She was subsequently taken into custody and transported to the Derby Barracks, where she was processed for suspicion of DUI.

She is scheduled to appear in Orleans County Court on April 29.

Accident on I-91: Newport Woman Airlifted to Dartmouth Hitchcock

in Feature/News

NEWPORT — A 74-year-old woman was transported by helicopter from North Country Hospital to Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital this afternoon after being involved in a major accident on I-91 near Irasburg.

Delma Reed, of Newport, suffered an injury to her left arm after her vehicle overturned during the two vehicle crash. Rebecca Deyo, 54, of Derby, was the driver of the other vehicle.

At around 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 13, both drivers were traveling north on I-91 near mile marker 162 in Irasburg. Both drivers were traveling around 65 miles per hour. According to the police, Reed had been driving behind Deyo in the travel lane, and started to change lanes, when Deyo changed lanes as well, striking Reed.

After the collision, Reed, traveling in a 2007 Subaru Impreza, traveled off the blacktop and onto the soft portion of the median. While attempting to steer the vehicle back onto the blacktop, the vehicle overturned, coming to an uncontrolled rest on its roof in the passing lane.

The Subaru was totaled, and Reed suffered a severe injury to her left arm. She was taken to North Country Hospital for treatment before being airlifted to Dartmouth Hitchcock.

Deyo’s vehicle, a 2005 Ford Explorer, was able to be driven from the scene.

The case is still under investigation, however, the police report that neither speed nor alcohol appear to be factors in the crash.

Suspicious Activity Prompts Newport Police to Issue Reminder to Parents

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — The Newport Police Department is investigating an incident that took place today at around 4:45 p.m. in the former Vermont Teddy Bear parking lot off Farrant Street.

A white male in his 40’s with short brown hair and a beard, approached two young children who were playing in the area and asked them questions about a residence on Farrant Street. The two children didn’t recognize the subject and ran immediately home. The subject was driving a maroon, four door sedan.

Although the police are saying that it does not appear at this time that it was an attempt to abduct the children, they are using the incident as a reminder to parents to always keep a watch on their children as the weather gets warmer, and they are eager to play outside.

They are also reminding everyone not to hesitate in calling the police if they see any suspicious persons or vehicles that they do not recognize.

Greensboro Awarded $251,000 USDA Grant to Improve Drinking Water Quality

in Feature/News

GREENSBORO — The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Wednesday that it has awarded a $251,000 Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant (ECWAG) to Greensboro Fire District 1 to improve drinking water quality for users in Greensboro Village.

The grant will help the Fire District develop an additional well. The system’s existing wells have suffered from drought conditions in the past two years, forcing residents to draw untreated drinking water directly for Caspian Lake. Untreated surface water does not meet the standards of the Safe Drinking Water Act, requiring the system to issue boil water notices to its users.

“In the middle of our two-year pipe replacement project, our primary well started to dry up,” John Makin, a member of Greensboro’s Prudential Committee said. “USDA Rural Development stepped in with critical funding for a new well. This has been a major undertaking for our Fire District Prudential Committee. We have been very fortunate to have the professional help that has been provided throughout this project.”

The Fire District is in the final stages of an 18,000 foot water line replacement project scheduled to be completed in the coming months. USDA Rural Development provided $2,833,250 in low cost loans and grants through the agency’s Water and Waste Disposal Program.

The new lines will increase fire protection and decrease water consumption due to old leaking pipes. The contractor for the project, Munson Earth Moving Corp., recently received the Associated General Contractors of Vermont 2013 Best Builders award for this project.

“Safe, high quality drinking water in sufficient quantity is not a luxury, it is a necessity,” Ted Brady, the State Director of USDA Rural Development Vermont and New Hampshire, said. “Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and the team at USDA Rural Development recognize that our rural communities cannot shoulder the burden of making large drinking water improvements alone, and the ECWAG program is one of the most effective tools we can use to address sudden and unforeseen water quality and quantity concerns.”

Trout and Bass Fishing Starts Tomorrow: Local Fishing Guide

in Feature/News

ORLEANS — Trout fishing and bass catch and release seasons open tomorrow, and anglers are looking forward to fishing the local lakes and streams.

The Willoughby River in the Village of Orleans is a popular spot for spring fishing. The Willoughby flows north from Lake Willoughby to Lake Memphremagog, and rainbow trout and landlocked salmon can be seen jumping the falls on their spring spawning run. The trout swim up river for about 15 miles from Lake Memphremagog, where they spawn in the rocky shale of the river just out from Lake Willoughby.

The Willoughby River is also relatively unpolluted and rich in oxygen, which make ideal water conditions for trout.

Brook trout are a native species, as well as being Vermont’s official coldwater fish. Wild brook trout in the smaller streams are often eager to feed, but fishing smaller streams can be challenging because they can be easily spooked. When fishing these waters keep a low profile so they don’t see you.

Casting can also be a real challenge in smaller streams. Use a short rod or make short, underhand tosses. Worms are the bait of choice in small streams because there is usually not enough room to effectively fish an artificial lure.

Tomorrow also starts bass catch and release season. Bass have been growing in popularity with Vermont’s anglers, and the Northeast Kingdom boasts many great options for catching both largemouth and smallmouth bass.

Picture 5Gardner Park, located on Lake Memphremagog in Newport, is a good spot for bass fishing. Much of the Gardner Park waterfront can be fished easily. A good location is where the Clyde River enters the lake. A footbridge just to the west of the US-5 bridge is another spot that you might want to try.

Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department officials are reminding anglers that felt-soled boots or waders are prohibited to curb the spread of invasive algae.

The official season dates are:

Bass Catch & Release Season (Apr 12 2014 – Jun 13 2014)

Trout & Landlocked Salmon (Apr 12 2014 – Oct 31 2014)

Have fun, and stay safe. If you want to share any of your photos from this season, post them to our Facebook wall, or else use the hashtag #newportdispatch on Instagram.

City to Buy Fire Equipment Needed for AnC Bio Project

in Feature/News

NEWPORT — The city drafted new zoning bylaws to accommodate the proposed AnC Bio plant. The adjustments were related to height restrictions for buildings in a light industrial zone. This required Fire Chief Jamie LeClair to meet with developers and assess the situation. His decision is that the city needs five high-rise packs in order to respond if a fire ever broke out at the plant.

“When you have a high-rise structure, the state mandates that they put in a standpipe, which is a pipe that goes on each floor that the fire department can hook into with their hoses to have access to water,” Fire Chief Jamie LeClair said on Wednesday. “These high-rise packs have all the equipment to hook into the standpipes to fight the fire, as opposed to stretching a bunch of hose from the outside, all the way up four or five floors.”

On Monday night, in order to make sure that the AnC Bio project does not come across any hang-ups, the city council voted to fund the new equipment in next year’s budget. The equipment is estimated to cost $19,600.

City Manager John Ward’s reasoning was that even with tax breaks given to AnC Bio, the city would collect more in property tax than the price of the new equipment. With the AnC Bio plant appraised at $30 million, even with a 90 percent tax break, the city would receive $34,791 in tax payments.

LeClair said that the new equipment could be used to fight a fire anywhere that has standpipes built into the structure, noting that North Country Hospital is one such building, however, he stated that they are not necessarily in use at the hospital.

He also noted that maintaining the standpipes is often costly, but that it is entirely up to the property owner, and is not a cost that would fall on taxpayers in the future.

The other options to pay for the equipment would have been to seek impact fees from the developer, in this case Bill Stenger and his partners, or else search for grants.

Newport City Council Bans Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — The message from the Newport city council on Monday night was clear. There will be no medical marijuana dispensaries allowed within the city. The council agreed to new zoning language that would ban the possibility of a dispensary opening up in Newport.

Vermont has four approved dispensaries already, with 1,061 registered medical marijuana patients. Within the last year, the number of patients approved to use medical marijuana in Vermont has increased by 90 percent.

“This was about medical marijuana, not general use, only available by prescription,” Newport resident Pam Ladds said. “It’s an affordable and effective treatment for many diseases. The city council was against it from a place of ignorance as to the medical uses of marijuana, and cloaked their argument in “illegality,” despite it being the state that wants the dispensaries.”

Since 2004, Vermont has allowed patients with certain illnesses to use marijuana medicinally to help with pain management, as well as appetite stimulation. But as far as dispensaries go, they have only been operating in the state for less than a year now.

The dispensaries are located in Brattleboro, Montpelier, Brandon, and Burlington. For patients in the Northeast Kingdom, traveling to these locations is not very convenient. Only 705 people actually use the state’s four dispensaries.

“The move by city council was absurd and unnecessary,” Ladds went on to say. “Current zoning laws would have prevented a downtown location anyway, so changing the zoning was totally redundant. It also ignored several community members, and four out of the five planning commission members. It is dangerous to insert something in the bylaws that is intended to prevent a medical decision.”

House lawmakers are looking to approve two more dispensaries. They are also looking into adding post traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions that qualify a patient for medical marijuana.

The Newport city council said that other communities within the Northeast Kingdom could host a dispensary, and that they needed to step up to the plate.

Barton River Expected to Flood: Health Department Urges Spring Flood Preparedness

in Feature/News

NEWPORT – The National Weather Service is saying that the Barton River is expected to cause minor flooding overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday. The forecast is saying that the flooding will impact Maple Street and River Road between Orleans and Coventry station. They are saying that there will be extensive field and lowland flooding.

The flood stage is at 8.0 feet, and is expected to rise near 8.5 feet by late Wednesday.

Today, the Health Department sent out a message urging all Vermonters to prepare for spring flooding.

Spring flooding is a potential hazard every year as ice floes break like pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle, forming blockages at bridges and tributaries, causing rivers and streams to overflow their banks.

“Flooding is a leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S., and most are preventable,” said Chris Bell, director of public health preparedness for the Vermont Department of Health. “Public Health Week is a good time for us all to remind each other not to underestimate the power of water, especially moving water.”

Part of being ‘Vermont Strong,’ Bell said, is to be ready for any hazard, including the possibility of flooding.

Most flooding-related deaths occur when people attempt to drive through flooded roadways, or cross moving water. Six inches of moving water can knock down an adult, and 18 inches can carry away a vehicle, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Floodwaters can also contain harmful bacteria, sewage, agricultural or industrial waste, chemicals, metals, and other substances. It can even contaminate drinking water wells.

The Health Department has extensive information about precautions to take before and after a flood at: http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/water/flood.aspx.

Emergency information about flooding and power outages is also available in English plus 10 other languages at: http://www.healthvermont.gov/local/rhealth/rh_fact.aspx

The American Red Cross has also just released a new flood app to help get your family and home ready for a flood, now available at iTunes or Google Play app stores.

Controlled Burn in Stanstead Sunday Morning

in Feature/News

STANSTEAD, QC — The Stanstead Fire Department conducted a fire training exercise on Sunday morning, burning down an old house owned by the FamilyPrix pharmacy. The house was also owned by Raymond Falconer for many years.

The fire was started at 9 a.m. By around noon the building was completely down. The area was still smoldering Monday afternoon.

The drill allowed firefighters the opportunity to keep the fire contained to one area, as well as watch the way the flames spread from start to finish.

Stanstead firefighter Jason Hartley said the exercise was just a “surround and drown,” where the department was only concerned with keeping the fire contained, rather than training in any inside firefighting or search and rescue techniques.

“It was a good training experience, especially for the new guys on the department who have not had as much experience yet,” Hartley said. “The drill allowed them to watch the way the fire evolved, and we worked together to keep it contained.”

Because the Stanstead Fire Department works as mutual aid with Derby Line, Vermont, they were notified of the drill.

All Photos by Jason Hartley.

fire stanstead quebec

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