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Break-In at Mr. O’s Sporting Goods: Firearms Stolen

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — Several firearms are missing from a local sporting goods store after a break-in that took place on Friday.

The Newport Police are reporting that early Friday morning, April 4, they were called out to Mr. O’s Sporting Goods on East Main Street, after a security alarm had been set off.

Officers arrived on the scene at around 1 a.m. and discovered that the store had been broken into.

The Vermont State Police assisted in the search, but the perpetrators had already fled the scene. After an investigation, several pieces of evidence were gathered, including surveillance video which recorded the incident.

Newport Police are saying that several firearms had been stolen during the break-in. Mr. O’s has been in business since 1981, and carries firearms by Remington, Savage, Weatherby, Marlin, Winchester, and Ruger.

The Newport Police are actively reviewing that surveillance video, and anyone with any information is being asked to contact the Newport Police at: 802-334-6733.

5 New Border Protection Officers Coming to Derby Line

in Feature/News

DERBY LINE — The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency are saying that Vermont will be receiving 10 new officers, five of which will come to Derby Line. On Monday, the agency announced that they will be bringing in 2,000 additional border protection officers to further enhance security and improve service at ports of entry across the country.

In the case of Derby Line, the move will address slow border crossings into the U.S. that can negatively impact Vermont businesses. During summer travel months, wait times at the port can be more than a few hours long.

Derby Line and Highgate Springs ports of entry have been recognized as being the most in need of this increase in officers.

The need for additional staff at Derby Line has been an issue since 2009. From January 2009 to July 2013, Derby Line saw a 21 percent decrease in its staff, according to research done by Senator Bernie Sanders’ office.

The five new officers should be in Derby Line by the end of September of 2015.

The Department of Commerce estimates the rate of travel into the United States will increase by 3.4 to 4.3 percent annually in the coming years. That growth will represent an additional 17 million visitors when compared to 2012 numbers.

Car Vandalized in Irasburg

in Feature

IRASBURG — An Irasburg man woke up this morning to find out that his car had been severely vandalized.

Michael Prue, 36, called the Vermont State Police at around 7:30 a.m. Thursday morning to report the incident. Prue’s 2012 Nissan Versa had been parked the night before, and was vandalized sometime during the night. The car was parked outside a residence on the Back Coventry Road, in Irasburg.

The vehicle sustained the following damage:

The right passenger window had been smashed out.
The right front fender was damaged.
The right front light was damaged.
There were multiple dents in the hood and front fender.
The fog light holder was damaged.
There was a large spider mark in the front of the windshield.

Anyone with any information is being asked to contact the Vermont State Police.

Most Iconic Dinosaur That Ever Lived to Visit Vermont

in Arts and Entertainment/Feature

NORWICH — The most iconic dinosaur that ever lived is on its way to the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich. The exhibit, “A T. rex Named Sue,” scheduled to open May 17, features a cast of the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered.

At 42-feet long, 3,500 pounds, and 12 feet tall at the hips, this fully articulated cast skeleton is the keystone piece of this traveling exhibition which also includes replicated dinosaur fossils, video footage, free-standing interactive exhibits and colorful graphics.

Sue is the largest and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever unearthed, and is one of the most significant fossil finds to date. Fossil hunter Sue Hendrickson found the specimen in 1990 in the Hell Creek Formation near Faith, South Dakota. In 1997, the Field Museum in Chicago purchased the 67-million-year-old fossil at auction for $8.4 million, setting the world record for the highest price ever paid for a fossil.

Only four T. rex specimens containing more than 60 percent of their original skeleton have been found. Sue is at least 90 percent complete. Only a foot, one arm, and a few ribs and vertebrae are missing. Because of its near completeness, the specimen has presented the scientific community with a variety of new evidence, and with it Field Museum scientists made important new discoveries about the biology and evolution of Tyrannosaurus rex.

Sue will be assembled in Montshire’s Main gallery and offers visitors the chance to discover what these professionals have learned. The discovery of Sue ranks as one of the most important fossil finds ever, with tremendous educational value for scientists and the general public.

Tyrannosaurus rex is the most widely recognized dinosaur in the world. Although it was first named almost a century ago, much remains to be understood about this remarkable animal. Carnivorous dinosaurs recently described from the Southern Hemisphere are of similar, or perhaps slightly larger size, but T. rex remains one of the largest flesh-eaters to have ever inhabited the Earth. With its extraordinarily powerful jaws and massive serrated steak-knife teeth, T. rex still dominates popular perceptions of the Age of Dinosaurs.

The exhibit “A T. rex Named Sue” runs from May 17 through September 7, 2014 at the Montshire Museum of Science. It will be the first time the exhibition has been to northern new England.

This exhibit was created by the Field Museum, Chicago, and made possible through the generosity of McDonald’s Corporation. Local sponsorship is provided by Geokon, as well as Lake Sunapee Bank, and King Arthur Flour. Media sponsorship provided by WCAX and NHPR.

Admission to “A T. rex Named Sue” is free with Museum admission. $16 for adults, $14 for children 2-17, and free for Montshire members and children under 2 years of age.

The Montshire Museum will be closed May 12-14 during the installation of “A T. rex Named Sue.”

The Montshire Museum of Science is a hands-on science center located on 110 acres in Norwich, Vermont. Visitors will enjoy more than 100 interactive exhibits relating to the natural and physical sciences, technology, and more. The Montshire is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Gabree Sentenced to Six to 15 Years For Fatal Accident

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — A year and a half after the car crash that took the lives of Art and Peggy Moran of Jay, the woman who plead guilty to charges of grossly negligent operation of a vehicle that resulted in the crash, was sentenced.

On Wednesday, Alexis Gabree, 28, of St. Albans, was sentenced to serve six to 15 years in prison.

The tragic accident happened on Route 105 in North Troy on Aug. 5, 2012. Art Moran, 82, and his wife Peggy, 75, were on their way home from church, when they were struck by Gabree, who was driving 17 mph over the speed limit. Gabree’s vehicle had strayed across the road before the accident.

Gabree told police after the accident that she was a recovering drug addict who had recently relapsed. Test results showed Gabree had 11 different substances in her bloodstream at the time of the accident, and she was driving without a valid license.

Art Moran died at the scene, and his wife died later as a result of the injuries sustained during the accident. The couple had been married for more than 50 years.

Gabree at the time was on her way to visit her boyfriend at the Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport. She received minor injuries and was briefly hospitalized.

She plead guilty on two counts of gross negligent operation of a motor vehicle, with a fatality resulting. She will serve six to 15 in prison.

As part of the plea agreement, Gabree, without the court’s approval, will never drive legally again.

Delayed Spring Weather Changes Options for Anglers

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — The late return of spring weather and persistent ice may alter the plans of some anglers this year. While the winter weather extends opportunities for ice fishing on some water bodies, it can also delay anglers’ access to open water for the start of trout season.

“Late springs such as this one traditionally delay the onset of open-water fishing by a few weeks,” said Col. David LeCours, Fish & Wildlife’s head of law enforcement. “But during these years, the ice fishing on lakes such as Champlain and Memphremagog remain good as long as the ice remains stable and safe.”

Trout fishing season opens on April 12 this year, but on most waters in Vermont trout fishing is restricted to casting and trolling rather than ice fishing. Anglers should take note that on rivers, streams, and lakes with seasonal closures, they may not cut a hole through the ice to go ice fishing for trout during the open-water trout season.

LeCours reminded anglers that ice shanties should have been removed by the last Sunday in March, even if the ice remains thick. Temporary fabric wind shelters that remain with the angler are permitted. He also urged anglers to check fishing regulations regarding which waters remain open to fishing year round.

Anglers should proceed with caution and continuously check ice thickness and stability when walking out on ice. Ice conditions have become dangerously thin in many parts of Vermont.

Colombian Deportee Caught Trying to Elude Inspection at Derby Line Customs

in Feature/News

DERBY LINE — John Acosta-Bermudez, a Colombian citizen with landed immigrant status in Canada, is being detained after trying to elude inspection at the port of entry in Derby Line.

According to the criminal complaint, immigration officials at the Route 5 Port-of-Entry in Derby Line observed a black vehicle enter the country Saturday morning on March 29. The car did not stop for inspection, but instead headed south on Interstate 91.

A Border Patrol agent followed and stopped the car on the highway. Acosta-Bermudez was driving, with an undocumented alien traveling with him.

Acosta-Bermudez has twice been deported from the United States following a New York robbery conviction, as well as a federal passport fraud conviction. As a deportee, he is not allowed to return to the United States without the advance permission of the Attorney General.

Acosta-Bermudez appeared in United States District Court in Burlington on Monday on a charge that he reentered the United State after having been deported.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John M. Conroy ordered that the defendant be detained pending his next hearing.

The United States Attorney emphasizes that the charge against Acosta-Bermudez is merely an accusation, and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty.

If convicted, Acosta-Bermudez faces up to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. The actual sentence would be determined with reference to federal sentencing guidelines.

Acosta-Bermudez is represented by Assistant Federal Public Defender David McColgin. The prosecutor is Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Waples.

Snow Will Keep Manure Off Fields As Spreading Ban Ends

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — To some, mostly farmers, manure spread on the field smells like money. To others, basically everyone else, it just smells. Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, you most likely will not smell either tomorrow, even though the winter spreading ban will end.

The first day of April marks the end of the Winter Manure Spreading Ban imposed by the Accepted Agricultural Practice Regulations (AAPs). The continued presence of snow pack on farm fields will present a challenge to farmers who wish to start spreading manure as soon as the ban is over.

The AAPs require that all agricultural wastes be managed in order to prevent adverse impacts to water quality. That means that while it is legal to spread manure once the winter ban is over, manure must still be applied in a way that does not result in runoff of manure to surface water or across property boundaries. Once the snow begins to melt, manure can be carried away to the low points in the landscape.

To prepare for spring planting, farmers begin emptying their manure storage tanks. It’s the first step in the process of growing the crops that will sustain the farm for the next year. Most dairy farms have the capacity to store manure for about six months in a pit or tank that prevents it from leaching into the ground. In the spring and fall these pits get emptied out and spread on the fields.

To help farmers remain in compliance with the AAPs, the Agency of Agriculture strongly recommends the following:

1) If you still have room in your manure pit, wait until snow is off the fields before you spread manure.

2) If you must spread manure before snow is off the fields, choose fields that are relatively flat and far away from rivers and streams.

3) If you must spread on fields near rivers and streams, do not apply manure within 150 feet of the top of the bank.

4) If you are spreading in fields with ditches, do not apply manure within 150 feet of the ditch.

5) Do not apply manure within 100 feet of property lines and roads.

6) Utilize reduced rates of application.

If farmers observe these added safety precautions while land applying manure in the presence of snow, they will help to minimize any runoff of manure that could occur during snow melt. The Agency urges all those considering applying manure at this time of year to operate with the utmost of care so that water quality is best protected.

Driver Falls Asleep at the Wheel Causing Accident in Albany

in Feature/News

ALBANY — A driver reportedly fell asleep at the wheel causing a collision on Vermont Route 14 in Albany, Saturday morning.

Amanda Merrill, 20, of Albany, was driving a 2003 Subaru Baja south on Route 14 just after 8 a.m. Vermont State Police report that Merrill fell asleep and crossed the center line into the northbound lane.

Beth Hernandez, 51, of Craftsbury, was driving a 2006 Toyota truck north on Route 14, when she was struck by Merrill who had drifted into her lane.

Both drivers were wearing their seat belts and sustained injuries, however, police indicate that they were not life threatening. Hernandez was transported to North Country Hospital by Orleans Ambulance, and the Albany Fire Department was dispatched to the scene.

Both vehicles sustained damage and had to be towed from the scene by Rays Auto out of Newport, and Rockwell Auto out of Craftsbury. Both had severe front end and driver’s side damage.

Tattoo Shop Open for Business in Evansville

in Feature/News

EVANSVILLE — Tattoo artist Don Furbush and his wife Jenifer are living the dream. After opening up a tattoo shop in Lyndonville in 2009, and establishing himself as one of the most reputable and trusted professional tattoo artists around, Don and his family have decided to move to a location a little closer to home.

On March 7, Don’t Tats opened up their new shop in Evansville, in a building located on their own property.

Don Furbush of Don's Tats in Evansville. All Photos courtesy of Jenifer Furbush.
Don Furbush of Don’s Tats in Evansville. All Photos courtesy of Jenifer Furbush.
The Furbush family has been living in Evansville for the last eight years. Don’s Tats is a family business, with Jenifer working the counter, their daughter currently apprenticing, and their son working at the shop. Jenifer is especially happy to have brought their business to the town.

“This is such a beautiful area,” Jenifer said. “We enjoy being a part of the community, and want to help the area grow.”

Working as a professional tattoo artist for the past 14 years, Furbush has developed his own style, known for its color range and fine detail. His background in art, having studied at Montserrat College of Art, allows him to create some incredible portrait tattoos.

Don’s Tats has clients from all over, some even plan their vacations around coming to the area and getting a tattoo.

“Our clients are going to love this new location, now that we’re so close to Lake Willoughby,” Jenifer said.

Don puts his all into every tattoo he does, and his work is guaranteed. He can revitalize or completely change an existing and possibly embarrassing tattoo, and if you have a custom idea, bring it in and let him make it a reality.

If you would like to get in touch with Don’s Tats, they have a huge Facebook following, and are very active on it. You can reach them through it by clicking here, or call them at 802-754-1028.

Page Gets 18 Months for Stealing School Bus

in Feature/News

NEWPORT — Adam Page, 22, of Derby, was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison. He will get credit for time served since being arrested in May of 2013, after he went on a crime spree that included stealing a school bus, as well as breaking into a woman’s home and stealing her dog.

Page was in court on Thursday for sentencing. Earlier in the year he pleaded guilty to five counts against him, but on Thursday he changed his plea on two of those counts to no contest.

Vermont State Police originally became involved with the investigation when they discovered a school bus totaled and abandoned on the Valley Road in Morgan.

Page had fled the scene after the crash, but the police recovered a dog belonging to Heather Murphy inside the bus.

While investigating, police learned that Page had broken into Heather Murphy’s home, and made off with her chocolate Labrador. He had stolen the bus and drove to Murphy’s home in Morgan.

Page then attempted to take a 2003 Toyota truck from Zach Alix on the Toad Pond Road. After failing to steal the Toyota, he allegedly stole a 1995 Ford truck belonging to Robert Durfey of Morgan. Durfey’s truck was located later in Derby, however, Page was never charged with these offenses.

On Thursday, Judge Howard VanBenthuysen acknowledged the letters he received on Page’s behalf. He also said that he didn’t doubt the sincerity of Page’s apology, but that Page was going to be judged based on his actions not his words.

In total, police spent more than 20 hours investigating the case, with ambulance and firefighters spending more than five hours assisting. The brand new school bus Page stole and later totaled was worth $84,000.

Page will most likely spend the remainder of his sentence at the Caledonia Community Work Camp.

St. Johnsbury World Maple Festival Set For April 26

in Feature/Vermont

ST. JOHNSBURY — On Saturday, April 26, a significant portion of historic downtown St. Johnsbury will host the World Maple Festival. Maple syrup judges will determine this year’s World Champion Maple Syrup Producer.

Events at the festival will include:

5K Sap Lap Run
Pancake Breakfast
Sugar on Snow
Music from “The Labor Days” and “Tritium Well”
Rock Climbing
Kid’s Activity Area
Food Court
Historical and Scientific Exhibits
Maple Syrup Judging

The World Maple Festival is organized by a group of volunteers from St. Johnsbury who are committed to the advancement of the Maple Industry and its historical connection to the town.

“This year’s festival promises to have something for the thousands that will attend.” Scott Beck, World Maple Festival organizer, said. “We are anxious to welcome maple syrup producers and lovers from around the world to St. Johnsbury.”

Approximately 80 vendors will be in attendance.

Detailed information about the World Maple Festival can be found at www.worldmaplefestival.org. Interested vendors and syrup producers should email Scott Beck at scottbeck@worldmaplefestival.org to reserve space or enter the syrup contest.

For local hotel accommodations, call 802-748-1500.

Cross Border Friendship and Partnership Grows

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — Phil White of Kingdom Games, and Christian Vachon of the Fondation Christian Vachon, announced that they will be partnering. Christian Vachon has won the past two Dandelion Runs, and the partnership with Kingdom Games will help support Vachon’s work to help underprivileged children in the Magog area, as well as throughout the Eastern Townships.

Kingdom Games organizes over 40 days of running, biking, swimming, triathlon, kayaking, and skating in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Recently they have seen an increase in Canadian participation in the events. This year 20 percent of all adult Canadian registration fees will be dedicated to the Fondation Christian Vachon.

“We got to know Christian, Michel, and Daniel during the Relais du Lac Memphremagog, helping with border crossing issues, establishing a better relay station in downtown Newport, and redirecting them to use the Newport-Derby bike path heading north,” Phil White said. “When we saw the growing numbers of athletes from Canada participating in our events, we thought it made sense to donate a portion of Canadian registration fees to a Canadian charity.”

Photo’s are of Christian Vachon at the finish of last year’s Dandelion Run, which he won with an impressive time of 1:19:23. All photos courtesy of Kingdom Games.
Christian Vachon at the finish of last year’s Dandelion Run, which he won with an impressive time of 1:19:23. All photos courtesy of Kingdom Games.
Coming up on May 17 is the Dandelion Run. It’s a half marathon distance with a 10K option and relay options. It is run largely on dirt roads through the dandelion fields of Morgan, Holland, and Derby. There will be musicians at every relay station.

“We appreciate the support and value the friendship of Phil White and Kingdom Games,” Vachon said. “He puts on some great events that are drawing athletes from all over the world. He’s helped with our Relais du Lac Memphremagog and we are actively encouraging our participants to sign on to The Dandelion Run.”

Most recently, Kingdom Games plowed a temporary skating path between Newport and Magog so that marathon Nordic skaters could skate the length of the lake. It hosts bike rides around Lake Memphremagog, a 25 mile swim the length of the lake, and a 4 day, 3 night kayaking trip on the lake.

For more information on the Dandelion Run, visit them online by clicking here. For more info on Fondation Christian Vachon, click here.

Local Ice Surfaces Weakening Rapidly

in Feature/News

NEWPORT — Vermonters are being encouraged to stay off iced waterways. Despite the recent cold weather, as we get deeper into spring, the ice is getting weaker and weaker by the day. It is best to assume that no ice surface is safe.

Even during the recent cold spell the high sun angle has been absorbed by water below the surface. That warmer water is melting the ice from the bottom up, so even if a surface seems solid, it has likely weakened significantly. Warm temperatures will degrade ice even more.

If you or anyone you know ventures onto the ice and experiences trouble, keep the following in mind:

* Always keep your pets on a leash if walking near a partially frozen waterway. If a pet falls through the ice do not attempt to rescue your pet, go for help.

* Reach-Throw-Go. If a companion falls through the ice and you are unable to reach that person from shore, throw them something (rope, jumper cables, tree branch, etc.). If this does not work, go for help before you also become a victim. Get medical assistance for the victim immediately.

* If you fall in, try not to panic. Turn toward the direction from which you came. Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface, working forward by kicking your feet. Once out, remain lying on the ice (do not stand) and roll away from the hole. Crawl back to your tracks, keeping your weight distributed until you return to solid ice.

The best way to avoid trouble is to avoid the ice entirely until next winter. The water will be open and warm soon enough for us all to safely enjoy Vermont’s lakes and rivers.

Woman Arrested for Domestic Assault in Orleans

in Feature/News

ORLEANS — A woman from Orleans wound up in the Northern State Correctional Facility on lack of $500.00 bail, after being arrested on Thursday, March 20, on charges of domestic assault.

According to the police, Ellen Bean, 56, was reported to have been drinking alcohol in Orleans at around 10:00 p.m. when she got into an altercation with another individual. The Vermont State Police does not release the names of victims of domestic violence.

The victim contacted police to report that at around 10:30 p.m. Bean was driving a motor vehicle from Orleans to the town of Westmore. After contacting police, the victim also stated that in an attempt to prevent Bean from driving under the influence of alcohol, she kicked the victim in the groin and bit the victim in the arm.

According to the release issued by the State Police, the attack resulted in “a puncture wound and the complainant to feel significant pain.”

Bean was later located at a residence in Westmore where she was taken into custody. She was transported to the Derby Barracks where she was processed for the offense of domestic assault.

Bean was then lodged at Northern State Correctional Facility on lack of $500 bail. She is scheduled to appear in Orleans County Court tomorrow morning.

Jed’s Maple Hosts Sugar-On-Snow Party for 15th Year

in Arts and Entertainment/Feature

DERBY — Over the weekend sugarhouses across the state opened their doors for the 13th annual Vermont Maple Open House. For 15 years Jed’s Maple in Derby has been hosting a sugar-on-snow party to celebrate the statewide event. Saturday, visitors to Jed’s Maple were treated to sugar-on-snow, wood fired maple pizza, as well as other specialty maple treats.

All photos by Tanya Mueller.
All photos by Tanya Mueller.

It was a family event, with Steve Wheeler holding a storytime in the morning, and a junior sugarmaker class in the afternoon.

“When we started our business, we decided that we wanted to put something on for friends and family,” Steve Wheeler, who runs Jed’s Maple Products, said. “This event just keeps getting bigger and bigger, and now we use it also as a way to just say thank you to the community for supporting us. We want to show our appreciation to the community for their support of what we do.”

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Maple is a Wheeler family tradition which goes back at least five generations. Now, Steve and Amy Wheeler run Jed’s Maple, producing quality food products.

“This is our whole life and our career. We make food, and maple is just one of the foods we make. But maple is special because traditionally this is where we started.”

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Although the maple season this year has not really started yet, Wheeler is optimistic about the upcoming weeks.

“Looking at the forecast for next week, it looks like we’ll be starting early sugar season,” Wheeler said. “It might be a little too cold, but it warms up by day. We’ll probably get some sap, but not a ton next week. From then on it gets better and better each day.”

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Wheeler explained how maple season always fluctuates, and is a season closely tied to Easter. With the timing of Easter following a lunar cycle, Wheeler sees that this year they are right on schedule.
“Most of the time our biggest week is the week before Easter, and then finishing up just after the holiday. With Easter four weeks away, we’re just about ready to roll.”

For more information on Jed’s Maple, visit them online at www.JedsMaple.com

Snowmobile Accident in Charleston Saturday Results in Serious Injury

in Feature/News

CHARLESTON — The Vermont State police are reporting that a snowmobile accident took place on Saturday in Charleston. The single vehicle crash happened along the VAST trail #58 in Charleston.

At just about 7:00 p.m. the police were called out to the scene. It was determined that the victim was Don Wilson, 52, of Windham, New Hampshire. Wilson was traveling east on the VAST trail when he failed to negotiate a right hand turn.

The State Police are reporting that Wilson traveled off the south side of a small bridge on the trail, and that he was thrown from the snowmobile and collided with a tree. He was operating a Ski-Doo MX-Z 800.

He was taken to North Country Hospital and subsequently transported to Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital in Hanover, New Hampshire. It is reported that he suffered internal injuries as a result of the crash.

The Charleston Fire Dept, Derby Line Ambulance, Newport Ambulance, Vermont Fish & Wildlife, and the Brighton Police all assisted with the crash.

March Madness at Lyndon State College: 3 Men’s Basketball Players Facing Charges

in Feature/News

LYNDONVILLE — The Lyndon State College men’s basketball team is dealing with some March Madness, and it’s not the kind associated with the single-elimination Division I college basketball tournament performed each spring in the United States. Three members of the team are facing charges related to an incident that happened on March 11, during a pick-up basketball game at the school gymnasium.

The story starts with Howard Lyles, who was the starting point guard for the Hornets. Lyles was considered by some to be the team’s star player.

In January, Lyles was ejected from a game against Castleton for allegedly punching another player. Video of the event (watch video below article) does not show conclusively that Lyles did commit the offense. Regardless of the nature of the incident, Lyles was dismissed from the team. He was also not allowed inside the LSC’s athletic facilities.

Fast forward to March 11, Lyles, and some other members of the basketball team were playing a game of pick-up, when security guards spotted Lyles inside the building. They asked him to leave, but according to the statement issued by the police, he refused. The Vermont State Police were called in to remove Lyles from the building.

When the police arrived, they asked Lyles to leave. According to the police, Lyles “ignored the Troopers.” When they attempted to arrest Lyles for unlawful trespassing, the police report that 10-12 other individuals surrounded the officers.

Police are saying that Joshua Bosworth and David Johnson, both members of the Hornet’s team, threatened to harm them physically if they attempted to arrest Lyles. At one point police state that Bosworth attempted to grab something on Trooper Steve McGranaghan’s belt.

Lyles evaded arrest and fled the building. He was not pursued because police did not want to escalate the situation.

When Lyles, Bosworth, and Johnson turned themselves in to police on March 14, Lyles told McGranaghan he had video of the incident on his cell phone. McGranaghan asked to download the video, but Lyles refused, and started to push buttons, stating he was going to erase the video.

McGranaghan took the phone from Lyles, and charged him with obstruction of justice.

Lyles was in court on Monday to face the obstruction of justice charges. The judge decided that prosecutors did not have enough evidence, and the charges were dropped.

Lyles is still facing charges of trespassing, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. Bosworth is charged with hindering an arrest and disorderly conduct. Johnson is charged with disorderly conduct.

The three Lyndon State College basketball players are scheduled to be arraigned on May 5 in Caledonia Superior Court.

Below is a video from the incident in which Lyles was removed from the team in January:

Early Morning Accident in Derby: Cars Totaled, Occupants Transported By Ambulance

in Feature/News

DERBY — A two vehicle accident this morning in Derby left two cars totaled and two people being taken by ambulance to the hospital for evaluations.

The accident happened at around 8:30 this morning near the Spruce Road on Vermont Route 105 in Derby.

Miranda Phillips, 18, of Newport, was traveling east on Vermont Route 105 when she lost control of her vehicle. Road conditions played a part in the accident, as the roads were covered in wet, slushy snow, with light flurries taking place at the time.

Phillips, driving a 2007 Mazda MZ6, spun around at least twice after she lost control of her vehicle.

Renee Patten, 30, of Derby, was traveling west when Phillips crossed into her path. Patten was driving a 2012 Dodge Ram 1500. The two vehicles collided.

The right side passenger area of the Mazda was crushed, causing the airbags to deploy. The car was totaled.

The front axle of the Dodge Ram snapped, and suffered damage to the left front end. The occupants of the vehicle were transported to North Country Hospital for an evaluation.

Phillips was ticketed for driving too fast for conditions and hazards.

Brianna Maitland Still Missing After Ten Years

in Feature/Vermont

MONTGOMERY — Ten years ago today, Brianna Maitland was just 17 years old when she disappeared. She was last seen at her place of employment at the Black Lantern Inn, located in Montgomery.

Investigators continue to receive and investigate active leads in the case. They believe there is a strong indication that Brianna was, in fact, a victim of foul play.

Brianna reportedly left work on March 19, 2004, at approximately 11:20 p.m. Brianna’s car was discovered the next day adjacent to an abandoned farmhouse, located on VT Route 118 in the town of Montgomery, just a short distance from work. There is no evidence at this time to indicate that Brianna willingly left the area.

Vermont State Police detectives continue to explorer any and all investigative strategies in an attempt to uncover information about Briana’s disappearance. The Vermont State Police, along with the Maitland family, cannot overemphasize the importance of anyone coming forward with information.

The Maitland family continues to offer a $20,000 reward for information. This reward includes $10,000 for anyone who can identify the exact location of Brianna and $10,000 for anyone with information leading to the arrest of those responsible for her disappearance. The State Police remain optimistic that new information will lead to a resolution in this case.

Recently the Vermont Intelligence Center launched a Vermont Missing Persons page on Facebook..

The intent of the page is to highlight current missing persons in Vermont, regardless of law enforcement jurisdiction, in the hopes of bringing these individuals home to their families. At any given time, there are approximately eight active missing person cases in Vermont, less than a year old.

The new Facebook page will also highlight the anniversary of unresolved missing person cases in the hopes of soliciting new tips in these investigations. Currently there are 32 missing person cases over a year old that remain unresolved. Any anonymous tip that comes in for a missing person case will be forward by the Vermont Intelligence Center to the investigating law enforcement agency.

The Vermont State Police is also offering a reward of up to $5,000.00 for information leading to the resolution of the Maitland case or information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible.

The Vermont State Police offers rewards on specific major cases with an emphasis on unsolved homicides and missing persons where foul play is suspected.

Anyone with information is asked to contact: Vermont State Police at (802) 524-5993; the State Police Crime Information Tip Line at (802) 241-5355.

Car Traveling in Wrong Lane Causes Rollover Accident in Irasburg Then Drives Off

in Feature/News

IRASBURG — Police were not able to locate a vehicle that was driving partially in the wrong lane in Irasburg late Thursday that caused a rollover crash. The vehicle did not stop after causing the accident.

At around 11:30 p.m. on Thursday near 2963 Vermont Route 58 in Irasburg, Vermont State Police responded to a report of a single vehicle crash.

Charles Jokinen, 16, of Brownington, was driving a 2001 Ford Ranger on Route 58. He told police that just before the crash, an oncoming vehicle was traveling partially in his lane. Jokinen was forced to swerve to avoid contact with the oncoming vehicle.

Jokinen stated that once swerving into the shoulder of the road, he was unable to make the corner and traveled off of the road. His vehicle rolled over as a result.

The driver of the oncoming vehicle which caused Jokinen’s truck to rollover did not stop. The vehicle was also never located.

Jokinen did not suffer any serious injuries from the accident.

Marten Population Growing in Vermont

in Feature/Vermont

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department believes there is an expanding population of American marten in Vermont. Marten are small carnivores in the weasel family. They are smaller than a house cat and are closely related to the more common and slightly larger fisher.

Though marten were extinct in Vermont by the early 1900’s, evidence collected over the past two decades indicates that two small populations of marten have become established in the state. The frequency of recent sightings leads biologists to believe that the populations are expanding.

This expansion comes despite numerous obstacles, including the continued fragmentation of Vermont’s forests, competition with an abundant fisher population, and milder winters. Marten have been spotted on remote trail cameras and marten tracks have been identified in several locations.

“All of this evidence leads us to believe that there may be more marten out there than we had previously thought,” said Chris Bernier, furbearer biologist for the Fish & Wildlife Department.

According to Bernier, Vermont currently contains two distinct populations of marten. The population in the southern Green Mountains may have originated from 115 individuals that were released from 1989 to 1991 by U.S. Forest Service and Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department staff as part of a marten reintroduction effort.

Follow-up studies in the mid-1990s failed to capture any signs of the animals, leaving researchers to believe that the release was not successful. However, recent evidence of the presence of marten in this region indicates that some individuals may have become established as a result of this effort.

Vermont’s other marten population is in the Northeast Kingdom and likely originated from New Hampshire or Canada.

Fisher are a primary competitor of marten, occupying similar habitats and eating many of the same foods. Fisher have also been known to prey on marten themselves. Marten, however, take advantage of their small size in deep snow, hunting for rodents in tunnels beneath the snow that are inaccessible to fisher.

“It’s very encouraging to see these animals become established in Vermont,” said Bernier. “Marten depend on large blocks of unfragmented forests. Their return signals that land conservation efforts are paying off for marten and other rare species in Vermont, and that these large unfragmented forests are being properly managed by biologists and foresters.”

Derick Niles Denies New Charges Against Him

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — Derick Niles, 36, of Newport, pleaded not guilty in court on Monday to a felony count of unlawful trespass into an occupied residence. Niles also entered a not guilty plea in a series of other misdemeanor offenses, including disorderly conduct, violating conditions of release, and unlawful trespass on land.

Last September Niles was arrested after a standoff in which he is alleged to have armed himself with a long rifle, and took to the roof of a garage on his property located on Highland Avenue, threatening the community.

The ordeal ended within a few tense hours with no shots fired and no injuries.

In the new charges facing Niles, he allegedly broke into the home of his ex-wife and threatened her boyfriend, John Karpoff.

According to an affidavit written by Newport City Police officer Aaron Lefebvre, the incident took place at 308 Indian Point Street.

The affidavit goes on to state that Karpoff called 911 last Friday night claiming that Niles had entered the home of Shelby Niles without permission. Once inside he is said to have tried to get Karpoff to fight him.

Home Composting Workshop at the Haskell a Success

in Arts and Entertainment/Feature

DERBY LINE — According to Act 148, Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law, by July 2016, leaf, yard, and clean wood debris will be banned from landfills. By 2020, food scraps will be banned from the landfill.

On Saturday, The Haskell Free Library hosted “Rot On! An Extreme Home Composting Workshop.”

The workshop was led by Maia Hansen, who works with Highfields Center for Composting. Highfields, based out of Hardwick, has been touring the state giving this lecture as part of a USDA grant the group received. Saturday’s stop at the Haskell was the last in the series, however, there is still one more free webinar on March 27.

A group of around 30 attendees from both sides of the border learned the ins and outs of developing a home composting system. Home composting is not only a great way to get ready for the Universal Recycling Laws that are coming, it will benefit your garden and your overall well being.

According to Hansen, the improvement to the soil that composting provides is only one of the reasons to take part in the practice.

“Composting is a great way to incorporate natural processes into our daily lives,” Hansen said.

Maia Hansen posing with a smaller version of a traditional multi-bin composting system. All photos courtesy of Vchem Pierce.
Maia Hansen posing with a smaller version of a traditional multi-bin composting system. All photos courtesy of Vchem Pierce.
Although not excessively strenuous, composting does require some physical effort, depending on the type of system you develop. This physical effort, combined with just being outside and working in unison with the natural processes of decomposition, has been shown in studies to be good for your physical and mental health. There is even one study that shows that there are chemicals in compost that have medicinal effects.

M. vaccae, a living creature that resides in your backyard compost pile, acts like a mind-altering drug once it enters the human body, functioning like antidepressant pills to boost your mood.

The lecture on Saturday focused on the different methods of composting, from traditional backyard bins, to more advanced rotating drums. Worm composting systems, or vermiculture, was also discussed.

The message from Hansen was to find a system that works for you. This may include collecting your food scraps and taking them to a processing center, or giving them to your neighbor who composts. The key point is to keep as much as possible from ending up in the landfill.

“We need to get our food scraps out of the landfill,” Hansen said. “We can use those nutrients and harvest them to grow more food.”

Highfields Center for Composting has a wealth of information on the subject at their website. The information they provide will get anyone who is interested up and running in no time.

Below is a video that the group put out.

Fire at Newport Post Office Saturday Morning

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — It appears that the fire which took place at the post office in Newport over the weekend started inside the engine of one of the vehicles. According to a statement by Fire Chief Jaime LeClair, the fire did not appear to be suspicious, and was most likely related to an electrical issue.

It’s reported that at around 11:00 a.m. Saturday morning, the driver of the mail vehicle heard a popping noise coming from under the hood, and was alarmed when he saw smoke coming from the vehicle after starting the engine. The truck was located inside the loading area of the Coventry Street location.

In an attempt to contain the fire, the postal carrier used a fire extinguisher, but the blaze had quickly spread out of control.

By 11:30 a.m. the scene was cleared by the Newport City Fire Department. Only one package located in the back of the truck had burned, but the contents of that package were not destroyed. The same cannot be said of the truck, which suffered a total loss.

This wonderful image of the incident was taken by Kerry Keement, who took the photo and submitted it to Newport Dispatch’s Facebook wall on Saturday afternoon, just after the fire.

fire at Newport Post office Vermont

Two Injured in Accident on Route 105 in Newport Saturday

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — On Saturday, at around 1:20 p.m. Chelsey Thibeault of West Glover was involved in an accident with Nicholas Giroux of Derby Line.

Thibeault was driving a 2003 Dodge Neon east on Vermont Route 105 in Newport Center, when she turned on her directional signal coming up to a stop. She was about to make a left turn into the parking lot of Wayne’s Snack Bar when she was struck by Giroux. He was driving a 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse.

Thibeault and her passengers were wearing their seat belts, with one passenger in a child restraint system. Thibeault and her child were transported to the North Country Hospital by Newport Ambulance. They were treated for non-life threatening injuries.

According to the Vermont State Police, Giroux was not wearing his seat belt and was evaluated by ambulance personnel at the scene. Newport Center Fire Department also responded to the crash.

Both vehicles sustained damage. The Dodge Neon was driven from the scene and the Mitsubishi was towed by Rays Auto out of Newport.

A Look at the Jay Peak Recreation Center

in Feature/News

JAY — On Wednesday, the Jay Planning and Zoning Commission approved a permit for Jay Peak Resort to build their new indoor recreation center. The permit was denied in January after planners had concerns about parking at the resort. Jay Peak worked to address the parking issue, and received a 6-0 vote in favor of the proposal on Wednesday night.

The Jay Peak Recreation Center is the latest expansion project at the resort. The building, which will be located near the Stateside Hotel, will cost over $2 million to develop. It will also be slightly visible from Route 242, however, one of the conditions for the permit are the planting of trees along Route 242 to minimize this issue.

The new rec center will be a two-story building with a 7,500-square-foot footprint, set into a bank (see above photo). The front of the building will be 14 feet high, and the back wall is expected to rise 22 feet.

The height concern was another issue addressed in the conditional use permit issued on Wednesday. The board wants a stairwell tower redesigned, which will lower the height of the structure.

And now comes the fun part. Let’s look at what will be inside.

The new rec center plans at Jay Peak call for a 145-seat movie theater.

climbing wall jay peak rec center vermontThere will also be numerous climbing walls, most likely 13 in total. A climbing wall is an artificially constructed wall with grips for hands and feet, made to simulate rock climbing. Some are brick or wooden constructions, but on most modern walls, the material used is a thick multiplex board with holes drilled into it.

There are also plans to bring a horizontal rope course inside the facility, along with an arcade, which will provide visitors a wide range of activities to keep them occupied.

Next week the project will go before the District 7 Environmental Commission.

The board is also looking for Jay Peak to use incentives that will encourage carpooling to the resort.

Circle K Robbery Investigation Comes Together

in Feature/News

BARTON — The investigation of the armed robbery at Circle K in Barton that happened on January 23 is starting to be pieced together. Police now feel they have identified the suspect and the driver of the getaway car.

On Tuesday, Daniel Dunn, 23, pleaded not guilty to charges related to the armed robbery, as well as the theft of nearly $2000 worth of musical equipment from Neil Snow’s apartment in Barton. Dunn, who lives in Oxford, Maine, confessed to police when interviewed earlier.

It’s not clear why Vermont State Police secured a confession from Dunn while questioning him in Maine, but did not arrest him at the time. Dunn showed up to court in Newport on Tuesday voluntarily. He is being held on $150,000 bail.

Also on Tuesday, Vermont State Police met with Susanne Champagne, age 27, of Enosburg, at the State Police barracks in St. Albans in connection with the investigation of the armed robbery.

Video surveillance from the store showed the robber was dropped off at the store by a yellow vehicle.

The investigation revealed that Champagne was operating her yellow Chevrolet Cavalier and dropped off Daniel Dunn at the Circle K store in Barton immediately prior to Dunn robbing the store. Dunn was picked up by Champagne who then transported Dunn away from the scene. Champagne later destroyed the clothing worn by Dunn during the robbery.

Champagne was issued a citation to appear in the Orleans Criminal Unit of the Vermont Superior Court on April 22 on charges of Accessory Before the Fact and Accessory After the Fact.

In an affidavit written by Detective Sgt. David Peterson, Dunn and Champagne were pulled over in Lyndonville just after the robbery because their car matched the one described in the robbery. Dunn had changed clothes and told police that they had come to Lyndonville from Orleans, not Barton. Dunn was still wearing a pair of untied work boots, which the officer noted as being mentioned in the suspect’s description. Because they had no reason to detain them at the time, they were released following the stop.

During the course of the investigation, Dunn’s cell phone was tracked as being in the area at the time of the robbery.

In Maine, both Dunn and Champagne confessed, with Champagne stating, “Okay, yes, Danny robbed the Circle K.” She also informed police that they did it because they needed money to purchase heroin.

It also came out in the confession that the two were in Lyndonville to buy heroin when they were pulled over after the robbery. Dunn stated that he fled to Maine to get cleaned up from his drug addictions.

Man Sets Car on Fire in Newport, Then Writes Apology to Owner

in Feature/News

NEWPORT — Cory Carpenter Jr., 33, of Newport, pleaded not guilty on Monday to a felony charge of third-degree arson and a misdemeanor count of unlawful mischief. The charges are relating to a bizarre incident that happened on Main Street in Newport on Saturday night, where police responded to a blue Dodge Neon ablaze 20 minutes before midnight.

According to an affidavit written by Newport City Police Officer Joshua Lillis, Shanda Powers reported that her car was on fire Saturday night. When Lillis responded, Powers told him that she saw a tall, thin man wearing a trench coat start the fire.

One of the firefighters on the scene spotted a man who matched the description of the man Powers described, standing in a doorway on Main street watching the fire.

When Lillis asked Carpenter why he set fire to the vehicle, his response was, “What car?”

When Lillis told Carpenter that there was a witness who saw him do it, his response was, “If you tell me who owns the car, I’ll tell you why I did it.”

According to court records, Fire Chief Jamie LeClair recovered part of the gas opening, and it had been stuffed with a rag and a lighter.

According to the affidavit, when Lillis told Carpenter the name of the car owner, he replied, “I did it to be an asshole.”

But, as it turns out, whoever Carpenter had intended to seek revenge on, Shanda Powers was not that person. Carpenter later wrote an apology note while in custody, after learning that the car belonged to someone else. The note reads:

“I apologize for setting fire to your car. Wasn’t my intentions. Peace be with you. Truly sorry. Cory L. Carpenter Jr.”

Lillis wrote in his affidavit that surveillance cameras caught Carpenter in the act of setting the car on fire. He also wrote that Carpenter was found in possession of Clonazapam pills which belonged to his mother, and his blood alcohol content was 0.207 percent.

Carpenter is currently in Northern State Correctional Facility for lack of a $500 deposit on a $5,000 bail.

New Indoor Walking Trail to Open at North Country Career Center

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — A new indoor walking trail will be open four times per week at the North Country Career Center, offering local walkers the opportunity to stay warm and dry while they get their walking routines in.

The track will have two loops, one with stairs, and one without. Both will be just under a mile.

Walking hours will be open at the NCCC at:

(Evenings) Monday and Thursday — 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
(Mornings) Tuesday and Friday — 6:00 – 7:00 a.m.

Once the new indoor walking trail is open, hours may be extended if enough participants use the facility.

There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony to inaugurate the new track at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 13.

All interested participants can walk for free, but, if you come out be sure to bring a photo ID. Walkers will need to be registered through the NCCC Adult Education for insurance purposes.

Be sure to bring a pair of clean walking shoes to use inside so that the trail remains clean and safe for other users.

Although the weather will soon be warming up, and walkers using the facility may only get a little over a month of use out of the track before being able to take their routines back outside for the season, this first month will help in preparing to make the space available next year.

“Back in November I was remembering all the people who would walk at the IROC, and I felt bad that there was no place for them to walk indoors.” Gwen Bailey-Rowe, Assistant Director for Adult Education at the North Country Career Center, said. “We’re open to having this project grow and evolve, so we needed to get the ball rolling to see how it goes.”

Two Men Deny Charges in Murder of Mary “Pat” O’Hagan

in Feature/News

ST. JOHNSBURY — Appearing in Vermont Superior Court on Monday afternoon, two of the men charged in the murder of Mary “Pat” O’Hagan pleaded not guilty to charges of first degree murder, kidnapping, and burglary.

The two brothers, Kieth J. Baird, 33, and Richard E. Fletcher, 27, are charged with killing the 78 year old woman in her Sheffield home in September of 2010.

Although bail was set at $500,000, both men will remain behind bars as Baird is awaiting trial for violating court orders, and Fletcher is serving time for another incident.

The third man charged in the case, Michael Norrie, 23, is currently serving time in a federal prison in Pennsylvania, and is due to be arraigned at a later date.

In an affidavit by State Police Sgt. Jason Letourneau which outlined evidence against the three men, it is reported that they had told friends, inmates, and even prison guards as to what happened the night that O’Hagan was killed.

O’Hagan was shot inside her home in what officials are calling a botched home invasion. Bird hunters discovered O’Hagan’s body nearly 10 miles away from her home in Wheelock on October 3, 2010.

In Letourneau’s affidavit, Norrie indicated that the three men had been doing crystal meth the night of the break in.

12 Homeless Following Apartment Fire in St. Johnsbury Friday Night

in Feature/News

ST. JOHNSBURY — There is no word yet as to what caused a fire that ripped through an apartment building in St. Johnsbury on Friday night, leaving 12 people homeless, however, it is believed that the blaze originated from a candle that was burning in one of the bedrooms.

The fire broke out on the second floor of the building, located on Pearl Street, just after 8 p.m. Fire crews evacuated eleven people living in the Walden Mountain Apartments, as well as a person who lived next door.

The Red Cross says that they are providing food, lodging, and financial assistance to those impacted by the fire.

Friends of those affected have taken to Facebook to start organizing an effort to collect clothes for the children living in the building.

The roof of the building is completely gone. A fire investigation is underway.

Dropped Cigarette Lighter Causes Accident on I-91 Friday Evening

in Feature/News

COVENTRY — On Friday at approximately 6:41 p.m. the Vermont State Police responded to an accident on Interstate 91. The two vehicle collision happened near mile marker 168 in the northbound lane.

Robert Cote and his wife Patrice Cote, both of Albany, were traveling in a 2003 Ford Taurus, when they were struck from behind while traveling north on the Interstate.

Alexandra Rooker, 23, of Fair Haven, was traveling in a 2004 Toyota Corolla when she rear ended the Ford.

Troopers then spoke with Rooker who advised she grabbed for her lighter that fell and when she looked up she hit the rear of the car in front of her.

Rooker was issued a Vermont Civil Violation Complaint for following to closely. Orleans Rescue was on scene.

Picture 23

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