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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

Helicopter Shuttle to Jay Peak and Full U.S. Port of Entry Planned at Newport State Airport

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — As plans continue to move forward with the expansion project at the Newport State Airport, Jay Peak Resort is planning to operate a helicopter shuttle from the airport to the resort. It is also expected that the airport will eventually become a full Port of Entry into the U.S.

The helicopter shuttle service will serve customers who travel to Jay Peak via Newport State Airport. This service would eventually be extended to Q Burke Mountain when development is completed over the next several years.

According to a report that came out in February, the current airport terminal building is small, outdated, and inadequate to accommodate current aviation demand and any future growth.

There are also no customs services offered at the existing airport terminal. To support the demand for customs service from Canada and other foreign countries, the report goes on to state that the Vermont Department of Transportation has been pursuing U.S. Customs and Border Protection to service Newport State Airport.

It’s anticipated that the Customs service will start out as a fee-for-service operation and become a full Port of Entry, with full-time staff stationed at the Airport in several years as use increases.

Adding customs service to Newport State Airport is expected to increase use of the airport by aircraft from Canada and will provide utility to AnC-BIO and other local businesses involved in foreign trade. An increase in jet usage at Newport State Airport due to U.S. Customs availability is also expected.

Brian Smith Elected: Municipal Budget Approved Despite Increase

in Feature

DERBY — Selectman Brian Smith was elected back into office on Tuesday. Smith, the board chairman, defeated challenger Robert Ovitt. The total vote was 570 to 167.

Ovitt had expected to challenge Selectmen Steve Gendreau, making the race a bit of a foregone conclusion. Nevertheless, Ovitt stated that he would run again in the future.

Voters also overwhelmingly approved the updated town plan that will pave the way for Walmart developer Jeff Davis to file for local permits for the store, which will be located on Route 5 in Derby. The total vote for the updated town plan was 595 voters in favor, 129 opposed.

The municipal budget was approved for $2.5 million. This was an increase from last year, where the budget was approved for $2.29 million. Selectmen have stated that there will be no increase in the municipal tax rate.

Maryann Tetreault received 520 votes to be elected delinquent tax collector, winning out over Ann M. Jones, who received 233 votes.

Thomas Roberts was elected lister, receiving 512 votes on Tuesday. Diana Mengel, who challenged Roberts for the spot, came way with 186 votes.

Wilson and Morrissette Elected – Newport Police Chief Gets Two Officer 24 Hour Patrols

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — Out of 3,280 registered voters, only 495 came out to vote on Tuesday, approving the city municipal budget of $3 million. Included in the budget is the hiring of another police officer, which will allow the city to have two active patrols on duty 24 hours a day.

Richard Wells, who works part of the year at North Country Union High School, will still work as the school resource officer, with the school board paying his salary and benefits.

The city council race was close, with John Wilson and Neil Morrissette being elected. In a vote of 369 for Wilson, and 286 for Morrissette.

Corey Therrien, who was running for city council, lost by only 61 votes. Therrien was elected to represent Newport on the NCUHS board, receiving 338 votes.

A budget of $5.29 million was approved for the Newport City Elementary school.

There will be a technology fund set up at the request of the school board, which passed by a vote of 328 to 170. In total $24,565 will go to this fund.

All other appropriations were approved.

Lowell Voters Oppose Anti-Wind Resolution

in Feature/Vermont

LOWELL — Town Meeting Day voters in Lowell voted against an article opposing Green Mountain Power’s Kingdom Community Wind project.

The anti-wind resolution was passed over in 2012, and was brought back this year after resident Ed Wesolow took the issue to the Vermont Supreme Court.

In a vote of 110 to 27, voters showed their support of the 21 turbines of the Kingdom Community Wind project that are producing electricity. The taxes paid by Green Mountain Power are supplementing the town budget.

Before being built in 2010, 75 percent of residents at Town Meeting Day voted in favor of the project.

The Lowell wind project generated opposition from opponents who felt it would take away from the beauty of the ridgeline. They also felt that it did not provide any real environmental benefit.

In 2010, Wesolow and others petitioned to place an anti-wind article on the Town Meeting Day agenda. The proposed article accused the wind project of violating private property rights, destroying stream headwaters and depressing real estate values.

Removal of Trees in Coventry by State Highway Department Angers Some Residents

in Feature/News

COVENTRY — A number of Coventry property owners along Route 5 have voiced their concern over the removal of trees that were damaged during the ice storm in December by state highway workers. Some residents are claiming that they were robbed of firewood that they feel was rightfully theirs.

After the ice storm the state highway department was working to clean up storm damaged trees, broken limbs, branches and brush from damaged vegetation, as well as eliminate all overhead hazards due to broken limbs and branches. A large section of Route 5 needed to be cleared. During the cleanup, some wood was removed without notifying the property owners because it was an emergency project. Now, a few of those property owners are upset that they were not offered some of the burnable timber.

“We like to be good neighbors,” Scott Rogers, Director of the Vermont Agency of Transportation Operations Division, said. “The way we like to do things is to work with the property owners that are adjacent to the right-of-way, and it gets a little confusing in terms of the legality because some of the rights-of-way we own, and some we have a highway easement that controls the property. Typically, what we do is talk with the property owners in advance and offer to work with them. A lot of times that includes providing them some of the wood if it’s burnable, but in a lot of cases it’s not.”

Rogers stated sometimes property owners do retain certain residual rights, but the state can remove certain materials such as timber from the right-of-way for highway use.

“We can’t sell the wood to third parties, and we can’t take it for personal use,” Rogers said. “Along those lines it’s legitimate for us to use the timber to heat the state highway garage. But, we couldn’t use it to heat the local school for example.”

The Route 5 stretch in Coventry was especially tricky to make safe after the storm. Rogers explained that the situation needed to be addressed quickly, which resulted in the lack of notification to property owners.

“We were concerned with the potential for additional timber to fall given that we were expecting more storms. The district wanted to get it cleared out quickly. Even after we got the wood that was across the road cleared, there were still areas with some steep banks with trees above that could come down.”

On Wednesday at the Coventry Community Center there will be a meeting at 6 p.m. with Dale Perron, the manager of the Agency of Transportation District 9, and Coventry residents, to discuss the issue. For now, Perron says that if land owners want the wood back, they will work with them to resolve the issue.

Rogers expressed his commitment to working with Coventry landowners to resolve the issue also.

“We understand that people are struggling with the cold winter, and any type of heating assistance is an understandable request, so we are sympathetic to anyone who would have liked to use the material for firewood,” he said.

Vermonters Paying the Price for Propane Shortage Caused by Midwestern Farming Practices

in Feature/News

NEWPORT – If you are heating your home with propane, you already know it’s costing you more than usual this winter. What you might not know is that you’re paying the price for a propane shortage that has nothing to do with cold temperatures in the Northeast. The problem lies in the Midwest, and the way that farmers dry their corn crops.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average price of residential propane in Vermont during the month of February was $4.36 per gallon. That’s an increase of $1.15 per gallon since October.

This increase is a result of a propane shortage which started in the fall of 2013, when farmers in the Midwest used around 300 million gallons of propane to dry their corn crops. This was much more than usual. How much more? About 235 million gallons more.

The reason for such a dramatic spike in propane use is blamed on wetter-than-normal corn from the 2013 harvest. Part of the reason that the corn did not dry in the field was that it was planted late.

When corn does not dry in the field, grain elevator operators use propane-fueled heaters to get it to a lower moisture level so it can be safely stored.

According to the National Propane Gas Association, more than 660,000 farmers use propane for irrigation pumps, grain dryers, standby generators and other farm equipment. Besides crop drying, propane is used by farmers for fruit ripening, water heating, and food refrigeration.

The other major factor causing an increase in propane prices is the export market. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, by January 2013 U.S exports of propane were at 168,000 barrels per day. By October, exports had jumped to 408,000 barrels per day.

Vermont Senators Bernie Sanders, Patrick Leahy, and Congressman Peter Welch asked U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker in February to use emergency powers to temporarily restrict exports of propane.

They pointed out that prices for the fuel have risen over 30 percent in just three months.

Bill Passes to Ban Smoking in a Car with Children

in Feature/Vermont

MONTPELIER — On Friday the Vermont House passed a bill that would ban smoking in partially enclosed locations, including smoking tobacco in a car where a minor is present.

According to a press release, smoking would be banned inside locations at schools, workplaces, hotels, and places of public access.  

“This public health measure continues to protect Vermonters from the impacts of tobacco,” Speaker of the House Shap Smith said in a statement. “In particular, I am pleased that we are putting in place safeguards to protect our young Vermonters from the impacts of second hand smoke on their long-term health and wellbeing.” 

An amendment to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco in Vermont from 18 to 21 was withdrawn after some heated discussion. The House Democratic leadership promised that it would be taken up separately later in the year.

Currently there are two bills that increase the age for purchasing tobacco in the House Human Services Committee. One raises the age to 21, while the other does the same with an exception for members of the armed forces. They would still be able to purchase tobacco at 18.

The bill will now head to the Vermont Senate. 

Cows Killed During Barn Fire in Morrisville on Friday

in Feature/News

MORRISVILLE — About six cows were killed on Friday as a fire ripped through a barn owned by Dwayne Lamphear of L&L Farms in Morrisville.

The fire was reported by a passerby who saw smoke coming from the 340 foot cattle barn located on the property. The Morrisville Fire Departments responded to the scene at 742 Fitzgerald Road. Upon arrival, the front portion of the barn was fully in flames. High winds made it difficult for firefighters to battle the blaze, which quickly grew, pushing through the barn.

Mr. Lamphear arrived and was able to get most of the cattle out of the barn before the entire roof structure collapsed, however, some of the cows could not be saved. The structure was a total loss, with damages estimated to be in excess of $800,000.00. No one was at the barn at the time of the fire so there were no injuries.

The Morrisville Fire Department contacted the Vermont State Police and requested a fire investigation be conducted. Detectives from the State Police Fire Investigation Unit and an investigator with the Division of Fire Safety began the investigation.

After conducting a partial scene investigation, as most of the building had completely collapsed, the fire cause is deemed to be undetermined at this time and not suspicious. However, investigators believe that the fire was most likely related an electrical issue.

In His Own Words: Corey Therrien for Newport City Council

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — Corey Therrien, who is running for Newport City Council, sat down for an interview with Newport Dispatch last night at Montgomery Cafe, to talk about why he decided to run, and what makes him the best choice for the job.

Newport Dispatch has put together some of the conversation to introduce Mr. Therrien to Newport voters as they head into Town Meeting Day on Tuesday, March 4. Please listen to the interview below:

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