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Dental center coming to Orleans in December

in Health/Newport/News/Orleans

ORLEANS — Northern Counties Health Care recently announced the expansion of their dental program in collaborative partnership with North Country Hospital and the Village of Orleans.

Once operational, the new Orleans Dental Center will employ a dentist, hygienist, dental assistant, receptionist and office supervisor.

The practice will have two Operatories and two hygiene rooms, and they expect to serve at least 500 new patients within the first year of operations.

In January 2015, North Country Hospital completed a community needs assessment, which identified access to dental care as one of the biggest challenges facing people living in Orleans County.

This data about the oral health treatment needs and prevention strategies in the NEK area painted a grim picture.

In Orleans County, 65 percent of adults aged 45-64 have had tooth extractions compared to the state average of 52 percent. Nearly 10 percent of adult residents have lost all permanent teeth due to decay or disease.

In 2014, of the Medicaid-eligible Vermonters in the Newport area aged 19-64, only 23 percent received preventative dental services.

In January, Northern Counties Health Care identified a grant opportunity to help address these challenges.

“Our Goal,” said Shawn Tester, CEO of NCHC, “is to expand access to affordable dental services for people living in the Barton and Orleans area in order to improve their quality of life.”

Working together with North Country Hospital and the Village of Orleans, the three organizations applied for grant funding which will cover the cost of operations for a new dental center for up to two years.

Even with the grant funds, a site for the new dental center was needed, and this is where the partnership developed.

The village of Orleans owns the site of a former medical office building on Union Street, and offered it as part of the solution.

North Country hospital pledged $100,000 in financial support toward constructing the new facility at that location. NCHC is covering the balance of the construction costs.

“Northern Counties Health Care has a strong track record of providing essential primary and preventative care services to the citizens of the Northeast Kingdom,” said North Country Hospital President Claudio Fort. “We are pleased to be a part of this important initiative to bring critically needed dental services to the Orleans/Barton community.”

With an identified acute need and an innovative collaborative approach to solving the communities’ challenges, NCHC was awarded the grant in June 2016, and construction began immediately.

“Our Grant stipulates a very narrow window to become operational and see our first patient,” says Tester. “John Morley and the village of Orleans have really bent over backwards to help us meet our deadlines, they are a great partner to work with.”

As a Federally Qualified Health Center, NCHC is committed to providing services to all members or our communities, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.

They say they will accept Medicaid insurance as well as offer a sliding fee scale to make dental services more affordable.

The Orleans Dental Center expects to be operational by December 2016.

Northeast Kingdom Senators Robert Starr and John Rodgers endorse Peter Galbraith

in Newport/News

NEWPORT — Northeast Kingdom Senators Robert Starr and John Rodgers endorsed gubernatorial candidate Peter Galbraith, praising his conviction and opposition to industrial wind.

“Peter Galbraith is the adult in this race,” said Senator Robert Starr, who represents the Essex-Orleans District. “He has the courage of his conviction. We can count on him to fight for the Northeast Kingdom and all Vermonters.”

Galbraith has made opposition to new industrial wind a key plank of his platform.

Senator John Rodgers, who also represents the Essex-Orleans District, joined Senator Starr and more than 50 NEK residents on an advertisement in the Barton Chronicle urging a vote for Galbraith. “If Peter Galbraith wins on August 9th, it’s game over for industrial wind,” read the ad.

“I’m honored to have the support of two champions for the Northeast Kingdom,” said Galbraith. “This election is a referendum on industrial wind. I am the only candidate who will use the full power of the Governor’s office to prevent the destruction of Northeast Kingdom ridgelines and communities by industrial wind.

North Country Hospital sonographer earns pediatric sonography specialty

in Health/Newport/News

NEWPORT — North Country Hospital now has a certified Pediatric Ultrasound technologist on staff.

North Country Hospital Ultrasound Technologist, Bonnie Castonguay has earned a Pediatric Sonography specialty certification from the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). The ARDMS is the governing organization for Ultrasound Imaging in the United States and represents the highest standards for quality and safety.

While this is a new designation, only made available by the ARDMS starting in 2015, Castonguay’s passion for Pediatric ultrasound began many years ago.

Castonguay says that she was drawn to pediatrics right from the start of her career.

“I love my job and I love coming to work each day, but my passion has always been in pediatrics,” says Castonguay, who has been a registered sonographer since 2002, “Some technologists choose to specialize in vascular or cardiac ultrasound and that’s what they have a passion for, I really love helping kids.”

Castonguay began her career at Connecticut Children’s Hospital. From there she worked at Western Tennessee Children’s Hospital and Vermont Children’s Hospital at UVM Medical Center.

“I guess I have quite a bit of experience scanning children,“ she laughs. “It’s great that now there is a formal exam and registry for this specialty and that technologists can be recognized for going above and beyond to become certified.”

Currently, she is one of only 5 Registered Sonographers in the state of Vermont to hold this specialty certification.

Additional training and certification in pediatric sonography is important because performing diagnostic tests children is not the same with adults.

“There are many disease processes that are specific to children and you need this special training in order to properly scan and diagnose them,” says Castonguay. “It feels great to be able to offer these specialty services at a hospital like this one.”

“This is another fine example of the excellent service being offered at your local community hospital,” said Brian Bidwell, Director of Diagnostic Imaging Services at North Country Hospital. “We strive to provide services locally to save the patient the long trip to a larger hospital. Our equipment is state-of-the-art, our staff is competent and well trained, and our services are as current as the newest technologies allow.”

North Country Hospital is a private, nonprofit acute care community hospital serving twenty-two communities in a two-county area in the rural Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.

In addition to a population base of over 27,000 residents, the hospital provides care to the many area visitors, summer vacationers, skiers and other sportsmen.

Newport Car Wash and Mini Mart burglarized

in Newport/News

NEWPORT — The Newport Police Department is investigating a break-in and burglary that occurred early Tuesday morning at Newport Car Wash and Mini Mart.

Newport Police responded at 6 a.m. to the building, located at 376 Clyde Street, for a reported burglary.

When officers arrived they noticed that a window had been broken to gain entrance.

The business owner told police that merchandise had been stolen during the break-in.

The incident is being actively investigated by the Newport Police Department and Officer Corey Marcoux.

Chief DiSanto is urging anyone who may have seen or heard anything in the area to please call Officer Marcoux at 802-334-6733.

Gardner Park benefits from casual dress at Community National Bank

in Newport

NEWPORT — Mariah Goodell, a teller at Community National Bank in Derby, presented Newport Park Recreation Department Director Andrew Cappello, and Gardner Park Restoration Committee member Jenn Smith, with a donation of $500.00 on behalf of the bank’s Derby office employees.

Bank employees dress casually on Fridays as part of their “Casual for a Cause” program. Employees donate money to local non-profit organizations for the opportunity to wear jeans on Fridays.

The Gardner Park Restoration Committee has been actively fundraising and applying for grants to improve the playground.

“The committee would like to see the park offer a wider variety of playground equipment to meet the needs of all members of the community,” said Jenn Smith. “Our vision is to design a playground that includes both natural playscapes and playground structures for varied ages and abilities, so everyone can access and enjoy it.”

To Gardner Park Restoration Committee has raised over $12,000.00.

New committee members and volunteers are always welcome.

To learn more about GPRC and their progress, join the Gardner Park Restoration Facebook page or contact Jenn Smith via email at

Emily Klar talks about her goal to attend UVM Summer Academy with Claudio Fort, President & CEO of North Country Hospital.

Irasburg student attending UVM summer academy thanks to North Country Hospital donor

in Irasburg/Newport/News

IRASBURG — Emily Klar of Irasburg is off to an intense summer academy at the University of Vermont this month, thanks to a North Country Hospital scholarship.

This innovative program for students who have completed 10th, 11th or 12th grade offers an academically challenging program through active learning in labs, lectures, demonstrations and hospital visits.

Klar will learn in the University of Vermont College of Medicine academic facilities including the Clinical Simulation Laboratory where she will perform virtual medical procedures.

The program helps students discover their interests, learn about the latest advances in bioscience and molecular medicine, and develop an understanding of diverse medical and health science career paths that might be right for them.

“I developed an interest in orthopedic surgery after my own health experiences,” Klar said when asked why she wanted to give up a good part of her summer to do this. “Previously I had not had much of an interest in medicine, but going through the process associated with diagnosing and treating my compartment syndrome, I learned a lot more about the field.”

An anonymous donor to North Country Hospital turned this into a reality for Klar, and she says she is grateful for this opportunity to get a jumpstart in her area of interest.

“Over the years, North Country Hospital has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship support and has hosted internships, clinical rotations, and job shadowing programs for hundreds of students pursuing healthcare careers,” Claudio Fort, Hospital president said. “These investments in our local youth have paid significant dividends, as many recipients have returned to our community to work as physicians, nurses, and healthcare technologists.  Emily Klar is an impressive, hardworking, and intelligent young woman and we are privileged to help her achieve her goal of pursuing a career in medicine.”

Klar will live on campus for two weeks and then complete an online component, resulting in her receiving three UVM college credits. She will get to experience what college life is like and get a head start on her higher education.

“This academy will reinforce my goal of ultimately becoming an orthopedic surgeon,” she said. “As an athlete and overcoming an injury, I want to be able to empathize with my patients and understand what they’re going through so I can better serve them.”

NEKHO Kingdom Brewfest this Saturday at Kingdom Brewing in Newport

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport

NEWPORT — The biggest beer festival around is coming to Newport this Saturday, July 23, as Dr. Les Lockridge and the Northeast Kingdom Hematology Oncology (NEKHO) gear up for the Second Annual NEKHO Kingdom Brewfest, taking place at Kingdom Brewing in Newport.

The event will feature brew, food, live music and fun as NEKHO celebrate and work to replenish their Patient Caring Fund, which helps to fill in the healthcare gaps faced by their patients.

Last year the event raised $14,000, and this year the goal is to add $30,000 to the fund.

All money stays local to help local cancer patients with their living expenses during treatment. Proceeds go directly to patients who need it the most, whether that is a food card, a gas card, or medication and treatment co-pays.

The cost is $20 for one person, $35 for two people, which includes a full BBQ dinner, live music, beer tasting and a special event glass.

Festivities start at 1 p.m. and continue until 6 p.m.

Additional beer will be available for purchase from the event sponsors at Kingdom Brewing, which is located at 353 Coburn Hill Road, in Newport.

All are welcome, with plenty of fun scheduled for kids as well, so come on down.

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    Green Mountain Farm-to-School's Lunchbox food truck serving free meals to kids in the community at Newport's Gardner Park.

The Lunchbox food truck helping to combat low participation in free summer meals programs

in Barton/Island Pond/Newport

NEWPORT — New studies show that Vermont ranks third in the country for serving free summer meals to children, however, the state still only reaches 33.3 percent of the children who qualify for free or reduced lunch during the school year.

In the Northeast Kingdom, one organization is helping to drive the conversation around increasing summer meals participation, literally.

The Lunchbox food truck can be seen parked and serving free summer meals to everyone 18-years-old and younger along with adult meals for purchase in the towns of Newport, Barton, and Island Pond each week during the summer.

School lunches and summer meals provide in-need children with a source of important nutrition. Both are funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Despite the well-known benefits of summer meals – helping parents stretch their food budgets, providing a safe place for children during the summer and mitigating summer learning loss – participation in USDA’s Summer Food Service Program is jarringly low across the country.

According to Food Research Action Center’s annual summer meals report, during the 2014-2015 school year, 20.1 million kids across the country received a free or reduced lunch each day. Of those 20.1 million kids less than 1/6, or 3.2 million, received a meal each day during the summer.

While the percentage of children receiving summer meals compared to school lunches varies widely from state-to-state, ranging from a 6.4 to 51.9 percent, the general consensus is that the numbers are way too low.

As the numbers reflect, providing summer meals comes with a whole set of challenges that aren’t experienced during the school year. For example, in rural states like Vermont, lack of personal and reliable public transportation limits the access of low-income families to meal sites, and those serving summer meals must find creative solutions to bring food to the kids.

Run by Green Mountain Farm-to-School (GMFTS), a nonprofit in the NEK working to connect farms, schools, and communities through food and education, the Lunchbox has been increasing their number of summer meals served each year since it hit the road in 2013 while also serving over 50 percent local food from area farmers.

“In the Northeast Kingdom one-in-three children are considered food insecure which contributes to the great need for summer meals in our communities,” said Katherine Sims, founder and executive director of GMFTS. “One of the biggest challenges we face in providing those summer meals is reaching kids that are spread out over large areas. That’s why we thought a meals site with wheels would be the best way to connect with as many kids as possible.”

In an effort to increase participation in the summer meal program, GMFTS works to create partnerships with institutions and community members. For example, in Barton, the Lunchbox sets up outside of the public library during their weekly story-hour which attracts kids and families each week from the community.

The Lunchbox also provides educational opportunities such as “Meet Your Farmer” days and a bike safety day.

“Our partnerships with the community are an integral part of the Lunchbox program,” said Rebecca Mitchell, who manages the Lunchbox program as the consumer education coordinator with GMFTS. “They allow us to provide more kids with the nutrition they need during the months where a good meal can be hard to come by.”

The Lunchbox serves hundreds of summer meals each week, but there are still more children that can be reached. Helping individual sites are organizations like Hunger Free Vermont. They work to connect families and children to meals sites throughout the state by compiling a comprehensive list of meals site in each county and providing technical assistance.

“Hunger doesn’t end with the last bell of the school year,” says Mitchell. “In order to make sure kids are getting the nutritious meals they need, it’s going to take everyone coming together, spreading the word, and helping get families out to summer meals sites.”

For more information about a summer meals program in your area visit Hunger Free Vermont online at

MAC Center for the Arts presents sixth annual Art in Bloom

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport

NEWPORT — The Sixth Annual Art in Bloom will open on July 21 at the MAC Center for the Arts, with a reception beginning at 5 p.m.

A summertime favorite, Art In Bloom boasts over 20 floral arrangements that glean their inspiration from the magnificent artwork currently on display in the MAC Gallery.

Working in concert are the members of the Four Seasons Garden Club and MAC Center for the Arts, exquisitely tailoring the annual fundraiser where nature meets art.

July 21 is a ticketed event to benefit both organizations.

Interpretation and unique creativity provide this festival of insouciant charm and patrons can enjoy these displays through Saturday, July 23.

Come gaze upon the distinctive presentations on both levels of the gallery with the Art in Bloom in the main gallery, and the summer exhibition, Phyllis J Hammond – A Retrospective, in the lower gallery.

The Hammond exhibition will be running through September 10.

For tickets or more information, please call 802-334-1966 or visit them online at or

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    Scholarship recipients who received their awards at an informal ceremony at North Country Hospital, June 28th include left to right Desiree Bowen, Owen Nadeau, Tammy Bothwell, Jacey Gray and Andreanna Andrew.

North Country Hospital Awards $30,000 in Healthcare Scholarships

in Newport/News

NEWPORT — This year, 20 new scholarships were awarded by North Country Hospital to local students and adults planning to study nursing, pre-med, physical therapy and occupational therapy, dental hygiene and radiology.

The Caryl B. Custer Scholarship for Nursing Students went to Emergency Department Unit Clerk Tammy Bothwell, to North Country Union High School graduates Desiree Bowen and Owen Nadeau, and to Lake Region Union High School graduate Kaitlyn Lemieux.

This year 12 awards were received from this fund by North Country graduates Rebecca Allen, Amber Archer, Kaitlyn Bouchard, Audrey Brown, Alysha Grenier, Chelsea Urie and Hayley Young and Lake Region graduates Melanie Gagnon, Cassi Martin, Katie Menard, Grace Miller and Kristen Rowell.

Each year, North Country Hospital’s scholarship committee reviews applications and makes selections based on each student’s essays, transcripts, extra-curricular activities, as well as financial need.

The Healthcare Career Scholarship is made possible by the annual North Country Hospital Scholarship Golf Classic, with proceeds each year going directly to awardees.

The 28th annual scramble is set for Sunday, August 21, with 8 a.m. registration and a 9 a.m. shotgun start at the Orleans Country Club.

Last year an anonymous contribution to the fund made it possible to award three scholarships in 2016, to United Christian Academy graduate Andreanna Andrew and to North Country graduates Meira Buck and Jacey Gray.

Contributions to North Country Hospital for any of the scholarship funds help sustain these awards for years to come.

Students receive awards for 2-year, 4-year as well as graduate programs.

Orleans County students bring home prizes from Stanstead College 

in Derby/Derby Line/Irasburg/Newport

STANSTEAD, QC – Orleans County students were among the top prize-winners at Stanstead College’s closing Baccalaureate ceremony held at Centenary Church in Stanstead on Thursday.

Patrick Young of Derby Line won the Ashworth Scholarship, awarded to a deserving local day student who consistently demonstrates effort and excels in some area of activity. He also won the English prize for Grade 9.

Brother Ryan Young earned the Art and English Prizes, the Amaron Prize for French in Grade 7 as well as the Fountain Family Scholarship.

Andrew Bouchard of Derby Line won the Grade 8 prizes for Art, English, Geography, History and Science-Technology and the Sybil Galambos Prize for Francais. He also had the highest overall average in Grade 8.

Connor Fletcher, Grade 12, of Irasburg, won the Bugbee House Prize.

Emily Willis, Grade 9, of Newport, was named the top junior female athlete, winning the Sheila Ferguson Shield. Emily also won the Grade 9 prizes for History, Music and Science.

Mya Daigle of Newport won the Trueman-McFadyen Award, presented to the girl in the senior school with the highest overall average who has played three varsity sports and won a Major S athletic award.

Alissa Bissonnette of Derby and the school’s co-head prefect won the Graham Chandler Sportsman of the Year Award, presented to the athlete who best exemplifies the attributes of character, integrity and sportsmanship.

The guest speaker for this year’s Baccalaureate was aluma Helen White, Class of 2009. Originally from Newport, White is now studying law at Yale and working this summer in a federal prosecutor’s office in Washington, DC.

Ms. White encouraged the graduates to focus on growth, build community, and embrace difference, skills that they had, in fact, already learned at Stanstead College.

“Stop focusing on being the best and start focusing on being better than you were yesterday,” she said.

Drawing on her own experience of being supported as a student and supporting her peers, she added, “Having a community matters because they help you reach your highest hopes and help you through your toughest times.”

Officials warn of phone scams in Newport, Jay, North Troy

in Jay/Newport/North Troy

NEWPORT — Vermont business owners in Newport, Jay, and North Troy have reported receiving a call from a person claiming to be from the Vermont Electric Cooperative, the businesses’ electric utility, demanding immediate payment of an alleged delinquent bill.

The caller threatens that electric power will be disconnected unless immediate payment is made.

The caller had account numbers for some of the businesses.

Authorities say these calls are not from the electric utility, and that this is a scam call. They say scammers have also used the names of other electric utilities when making these phony calls in past years.

If you receive a call from someone claiming your power is about to be disconnected, hang up.

If you want to verify the claim, call the customer service number on your utility bill.

Vermont Electric Cooperative customers may call 1-800-832-2667 or 1-802-635-2331 with any questions.

If you need assistance in resolving an actual disconnection issue with your utility, you may contact the Vermont Department of Public Service at 800-622-4496.

Scam callers frequently use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone services to place calls over an internet connection. This allows the scammers to mask the callers’ location. They are also using software that allows the callers to “spoof” the Caller ID system.

The majority of these calls come from overseas. Consumers should not respond to the calls or call the numbers provided by the scammers.

Consumers who have sent funds should contact their financial institution, the Consumer Assistance Program, and their electric utility immediately to protect their accounts.

Receipt of these kinds of calls, along with any other scams consumers receive, can be reported to the Consumer Assistance Program by filing a complaint on-line at or by calling 800-649-2424.

For more information on financial frauds, identity theft and other scams, visit the Consumer Assistance Program website at

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    The KIKS Bag, an idea of Beth Barnes from Newport, includes products and information that could help safeguard any home where children live or visit.
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    Jackie Collas and her son, Curren Erik Collas, one little angel that was taken far too soon because of a tip-over accident. Jackie's sister Marijah Monfette who lives in Brownington is an outspoken advocate for tip over education.

New product born in Newport looks to make homes safer for kids

in Business/Newport

NEWPORT — Unintentional childhood injuries are the number one killer of kids in the United States, with many of these deaths being preventable. It is an issue that has been in the news recently, with Ikea recently recalling 29 million dressers after 6 children were killed when the units toppled over and fell on them.

A new product that was born here in the Northeast Kingdom hopes that with the right information anyone who has a home where children live or visit can prepare a safer space for little ones.

Newport resident Beth Barnes, a childhood injury prevention specialist, has gathered a collection of high-quality items that can help safeguard a home and help give parents peace-of-mind. The product is called the KIKS™ Bag, and it’s a unique way to say welcome to the world baby, we are so glad you are here.

“There is no substitute for close supervision, but there are certain things we can all do to minimize possible accidents,” Barnes says. For example, every two weeks in the United States a child dies in a TV or furniture tip-over accident.

A TV or furniture strap appropriately anchored to the wall can greatly reduce the chance of this happening.

“Every family who gives birth at North Country Hospital receives a similar bag,” said Barnes, a Community Outreach Specialist at the hospital. “I thought it would be a really great idea to create a bag that everyone, anywhere could benefit from because every child deserves a safe start to life.”

The bag, which has no affiliation with the hospital, also includes a carefully written brochure about basic home safety.

For example, small, disc-shaped lithium batteries, used or new, can be mistaken as something yummy by an unsuspecting child. However, these batteries can become stuck in the esophagus and start burning a hole in the soft tissue within a few hours. The easy fix is to keep them out of sight and out of reach.

The unique KIKS™ bag, carefully packed into a 100 percent cotton, reusable knapsack, includes a 46 piece Safety Essential Kit, a Rubber Ducky Temp Guard, Furniture Wall Straps, TV Anti-Tip Strap, Blind Cord Wind-Ups, Choke Tube Tester and important information compiled and written by Beth Barnes.

Barnes remains strongly motivated by three families that have lost little ones to tip over accidents; three families that had no idea that such a danger even existed until it happened to them. She hopes the KIKS™ bag will reduce chances of this happening to others.

The bag is available for individuals and bulk co-branding. Part of the proceeds from sales will go toward tip over education.

Please contact Beth at for further information.

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Upcoming MAC Center exhibition honors Newport artist Phyllis J. Hammond

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport

NEWPORT — The MAC Center for the Arts is proud to present Phyllis J. Hammond – A Retrospective. An opening Reception and Vernissage will be held Friday, July 1, from 5-7 p.m. at the MAC Center for the Arts, 158 Main Street, in Newport.

Hammond Retrospective_Version 2 - Letter Size-1

The exhibit continues through September 10, 2016.

Phyllis Joy Hammond, a longtime resident of Newport Center, Vermont, died on February 3, 2016 at the age of 88.

A prolific artist working primarily in watercolors and acrylics, Hammond operated from her tiny PJ Hammond Art Gallery on the Lake Road, which was the former barn of her beloved Morgan horse, Smoky.

Her work was highlighted at the MAC Center for the Arts along with her three books that captured her love of wildflowers, northern landscapes and sharing art with children.

Phyllis was born in July 4, 1927, the daughter of Gordon Crothers Sleeper and Martha Moler Sleeper in Long Island, New York. As a youngster she studied watercolor with Elsa Bley. She attended Wellesley College and later studied with Hyman Bloom and took courses at the New York Botanical Gardens, presaging her life-long love of flowers.

Hammond began traveling to Lake Memphremagog as a child, where her parents owned summer homes and in 1957 she married Milton Dale Hammond. Phyllis and Milton were married for 54 years until Milton’s death in 2012.

Hammond had a long love affair with northern landscapes, she lived several miles from the Canadian border.
Underlying themes of her work were wildflowers, forest foliage, mountains and seeing more spiritually.

In 1998, at the age of 71, her life took a decidedly entrepreneurial turn with the writing and publication of “Traveling with Wildflowers: from Newfoundland to Alaska.” As a result of the book’s publication, Hammond was invited to speak in Denali National Park, Alaska, St John’s Botanical Garden in Newfoundland and at many flower shows.

An article featuring her and her book appeared in Vermont Magazine. Along with book sales, she sold thousands of lithographs, prints, postcards, and bookmarks base on the artwork in Traveling with Wildflowers.

The family of Phyllis Hammond have provided a philanthropic caveat for the exhibit, that all books and prints sold will be a 100% benefit to the MAC Scholarship fund.

For more information about this exhibit, please visit or call 802-334-1966.

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    Dana Mitchell and Nathan Grimm were recognized for their participation in the North Country Improv Troupe for bringing theatre skits with prevention messages to middle school students in Troy, Coventry, Lowell and Charleston. Courtney Blanchard received her award for winning the HealthWorks Scholarship Essay Contest.

HealthWorks Coalition celebrates local students involvement in prevention

in Canaan/Lowell/Newport

LOWELL — Students from North Country Union High and Canaan Schools spoke last week at Kingdom Commons Barn in Lowell, at the Annual Meeting of HealthWorks O.N.E./NEKLS Coalition.

The 2016 Recognition Awards went to Courtney Blanchard, a senior at Canaan School and to Nathan Grimm, a senior at North Country Union High School, with Dana Mitchell, a graduate of North County and presently a student at Lyndon State College helping with the awards.

Mitchell is currently conducting an online survey of recent NCUHS students as the youth representative on the HealthWorks Advisory Council.

Blanchard was the recipient of the 2016 Scholarship Essay Contest award, and she read her winning essay about policies that she would use to decrease alcohol use by youth.

She advocated for mental wellness programs in elementary schools because “if children were taught to deal with stress in an appropriate manner and at a younger age, it would help them deal with these problems in a much more positive way later on…They need to learn the skills to deal with pressure, rather than turn to substances to hide away”.

In another student essay, Adrianna Maurais of Canaan wrote, “If we actually took into account the amount of destructive ads we are all exposed to, we would be astounded…no one ever shows what really happens as a result of excessive drinking smoking and/or substance abuse. Children are the most vulnerable and easily manipulated.”

Maurais’ essay was read at the Newport Planning Commission the following night, where Mitchell and HealthWorks prevention specialists Lesley Becker and Paul Dreher spoke about decreasing youth exposure to alcohol advertising by limiting signage.

Dreher discussed a recent ordinance in Winooski limiting advertising in windows or doors of storefronts, for the purpose of improving the appearance of the downtown.

Discussion at the HealthWorks meeting included results of the Vermont 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey showing the most frequent way that youth say they get alcohol is that someone gave it to them.

Possible solutions were to restrict sales of alcohol at public events or limiting hours when alcohol consumption is allow in parks or beaches.

This coming summer and fall, Coalition partners and the community are invited to join Action Teams on Policy and Media to work on these and related issues.

Please contact if you are interested in joining.

The Lunchbox serves up free summer meals in Newport, Barton, Island Pond

in Barton/Island Pond/Newport

NEWPORT — The Lunchbox food truck, through Green Mountain Farm-to-School, will be on the road again this season serving free meals to kids 18-years-old and younger.

The Lunchbox will be serving free meals, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., to the towns of Barton, Newport, and Island Pond one day-a-week for 10 weeks.

The Lunchbox will also have adult meals and sides available for purchase, with proceeds supporting the work of Green Mountain Farm-to-School and their mission to connect children, farms, and communities through food and education.

“We’re excited to be serving free meals to kids throughout the Northeast Kingdom again this summer,” says Becca Mitchell, consumer education coordinator with GMFTS, “Also, by introducing more adult food options this year we hope to get more community members involved with our programming, showcase some of the work we do, and provide them with a delicious meal.”

Every week will feature a fun, informative taste tests and cooking demonstrations for the kids.

Throughout the summer there will also be special guest activities, including bike safety and meet-your-farmer days.

All activities are free and open to the public.

The Lunchbox Summer Meal Service Schedule:

Every Wednesday in Barton, at the Barton Public Library, located at 100 Church St.

Every Thursday in Newport, at Gardner Park.

Every Friday in Island Pond, at Pavilion Park, located at 95 Cross St.

For more information about the Lunchbox and its schedule of activities, contact Rebecca Mitchell at 802-334-2044 or

Meth manufacturing investigation lands 5 Orleans County residents behind bars

in Barton/Brownington/Newport/News

NEWPORT — Five residents of Orleans County are behind bars and charged with conspiracy for manufacturing methamphetamine after police carried out a series of arrests this week.

On May 20, 2016, a joint investigation in Barton resulted in the arrest of Terry Parson Jr, of Jackson, Michigan.

On May 21, the execution of a search warrant at 60 Cottage Lane, in Barton, turned up evidence of the manufacturing of methamphetamine, police say.

The investigation continued through late May and early June.

Beginning on Tuesday, authorities coordinated the arrest of six individuals for conspiracy for manufacturing methamphetamine.

The arrests this week are as follows:

Danna Shover, 31, of Newport. Shover is charged with conspiracy, child cruelty, and reckless endangerment.

Cory Carpenter, 35, of Newport. Carpenter is charged with conspiracy, reckless endangerment, and pseudoephedrine possession.

Doris Gibney, 58, of Newport. Gibney is charged with conspiracy, reckless endangerment, and pseudoephedrine possession.

Damion Gage, 23, of Brownington. Gage is charged with conspiracy and pseudoephedrine possession.

Donald Sabens, III, 34, of Barton. Sabens is charged with conspiracy, child cruelty, pseudoephedrine possession, possession of methamphetamine, and reckless endangerment.

Amber Parson, Jr., 27, of Bellows Falls. Parson is charged with conspiracy, child cruelty, pseudoephedrine possession.

Members of the Vermont Drug Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations, Newport Police Department, Orleans County Sheriff’s Department, and Vermont State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations and Uniform Division coordinated the arrests.

Free Summer Block Party on Thursday at Gardner Park

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport

NEWPORT — The 3rd Annual Summer Block Party in the Kingdom, a free community-wide event, will be held June 16 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Gardner Park in Newport.

Kids 18-years-old and younger will be treated to a free meal from the Lunchbox food truck as Green Mountain Farm-to-School officially kicks off its summer meal program, which will be serving free meals to kids in the NEK the rest of the summer.

There will also be over 15 community partners with booths, live music, and a family fun-run that begins at Gardner Park.

“We’re love kicking off our summer meal program with the Summer Block Party because it’s one of our ways of saying thank you to the community who continues to support Green Mountain Farm-to-School each year,” said Becca Mitchell, consumer education coordinator with GMFTS, “It also gives us an opportunity to showcase the important work we continue to do even when school isn’t in session.”

The family-fun run, which will be a free, one-mile run or walk for all members of the family beginning and ending in Gardner Park at 3 p.m., will be hosted by Kingdom Games, a local group that organizes and promotes outdoor activities in the Northeast Kingdom. All ages are encouraged to bring their sneakers and run or walk.

Games and activities for families will include a petting zoo, free ice cream from Kingdom Creamery, a climbing wall from the Vermont National Guard, and a selection of food for adults that are available for purchase from the Lunchbox food truck.

“We hope to see the whole community come out and enjoy a fun afternoon,” said Katherine Sims, executive director, GMFTS.

The event is free and open to the public thanks to local businesses like Community National Bank.

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    Photos by Steve Ellis on Facebook.
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Man, woman from Newport in head-on motorcycle crash in St. Johnsbury

in Newport/News/St. Johnsbury

ST. JOHNSBURY — A man and woman from Newport were taken to the hospital after their motorcycle was hit head-on in St. Johnsbury over the weekend.

Stephen Ellis, 45, and Kristy Ellis, 43, were riding a 2010 Harley Davidson motorcycle on Memorial Drive at around 7:30 p.m., when the incident took place.

Bradford King, 77, of St. Johnsbury, was headed in the opposite direction and attempting to turn into a parking lot, when he struck the motorcycle head-on.

The collision caused heavy damage to both vehicles, police say.

Both Stephen and Kristy Ellis were injured and taken to Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital.

According to the police report, Kristy Ellis suffered abrasions, cuts and bruises to the body.

The bike was totaled in the crash.

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    Photo of Madeleine Roy, Marketing Director of GMUW (left) and Tammy Lalime, Resource Coordinator at State of Vermont Dept. of Children & Families - Newport District.

GMUW expands Tatum’s Totes to Newport area

in Newport/News

NEWPORT — Last summer, a game-changing project for children who are headed for foster care was started by Elizabeth and Alex Grimes, of Rutland.

They named it “Tatum’s Totes” after their 5-month old son, Tatum, who died suddenly of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

It was a devastating loss to the whole family, but just two months later Elizabeth’s decision for them to become licensed foster parents was what turned that devastation around.

Along with that, her creation of the Tatum’s Totes project is bringing hope to foster children throughout Rutland County that has also spilled over into Addison, Windham and Bennington Counties.

This past winter, Green Mountain United Way (GMUW) partnered with Tatum’s Totes to also bring this program to children in Washington County, and has just recently expanded it to Orleans and Northern Essex Counties.

GMUW is collecting backpacks and other totes and fills them with age-appropriate personal hygiene items, basic clothing, a stuffed animal, some books and games, a fuzzy blanket and other items to be given to children going into foster care.

Often children and teenagers are moved into a foster home at a moment’s notice and arrive with only the clothes on their back. Having one’s own bag of items they can call their own can make a world of difference when entering an unknown home, project organizers say.

GMUW is working closely with the Vermont Department of Children and Families in the Newport office to make sure that backpacks are ready when needed.

“On behalf of our foster children, I want to thank the local United Way for the generous donations,” said Tammy Lalime, Resource Coordinator at the Newport DCF office. “Their gifts mean that children will no longer be moving into foster care using a plastic bag and will have new backpacks, water bottles and other needed supplies to call their own.”

There are nearly 1,400 children currently in state custody, yet only about 1,200 licensed foster families. Nationally, there are approximately 300,000 children in foster care and almost half of them wait as long as three years or more before being adopted, meaning that those years are spent bouncing from foster home to foster home.

For information on how you can help on this project, call the GMUW Derby Line office at 802-647-2148.

Derby man arrested for fatal West Charleston crash

in Charleston/Newport/News

NEWPORT — Police arrested the driver in a fatal crash in West Charleston that took the lives of two Orleans County residents on May 29.

Police say after a lengthy investigation Joshua Cole, 30, of Derby, was arrested at 4 p.m. today.

He is charged with two counts of driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or other substance with death resulting and serious bodily injury resulting. He also is charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter-reckless endangerment and one count of grossly negligent operation.

Cole was taken to the VSP Derby barracks and processed.

His bail was set at $50,000. He will be arraigned Wednesday afternoon.

Esperanza Robles, 29, of Derby Line, and Ryan Coulter, 26, of Newport, were killed in the crash that happened on Vermont 105 in West Charleston.

Amanda Letourneau, 27, of East Charleston, suffered head and leg injuries, and Cole also suffered head injuries from the crash.

Local student receives Land Stewards Award

in Newport/News

NEWPORT — Riley Brooks of the North Country Career Center received the Land Stewards Award from the Vermont Land Trust this week.

The award, now in its eleventh year, acknowledges the hard work of tomorrow’s agricultural and forestry leaders with an unrestricted cash prize of $250.

Riley has a strong interest in forestry and woodworking. He was one of five students across the state to receive the award, which honors hard work, initiative, and academic excellence in Vermont’s vocational agriculture and forestry programs.

“Innovative, dedicated agricultural and forestry professionals, such as Riley, care for our working landscape, shape Vermont communities, and are essential to the local economy,” said Gil Livingston, President of the Vermont Land Trust. “We are happy to honor these five students for the land stewardship they have demonstrated.”

Riley started a balsam pillow business that he’s been running for five years and is continuing to expand. He is also interested in Christmas tree production and is currently searching for planting sites.

His interest in forestry applies to many different topics, such as traditional and modern logging methods, woodworking, sawmilling, and arboriculture. He is looking forward to a future that involves working with the land.

This summer, he is attending a program at Paul Smith’s College to learn traditional woodsmen’s skills. He plans to study forestry in college, and has dreams of working as a government forester.

“While these jobs tend to be highly competitive, Riley has the interest level, the dedication, and the aptitude to succeed,” said Sam Nijensohn, a natural resources teacher who nominated Riley for the award.

Judith Jackson of Irasburg announces candidacy for Vermont house

in coventry/Irasburg/Newport/News/Troy

IRASBURG — Judith Jackson, a member of the Irasburg Planning Commission, announced on Thursday her candidacy for the Vermont House of Representatives to represent the citizens of Irasburg, Coventry, Newport Town, Newport City, and Troy.

Jackson, running as a Democrat, joins her neighbor and fellow Irasburg Ridge Alliance (IRA) organizer Dr. Ron Holland on the ballot for State Representative for the district of Orleans.

“I’ve seen the huge impact of policies and decisions made in Montpelier on almost every aspect of life in Vermont towns,” Jackson said. “With our Northeast Kingdom towns facing so many critical issues, from energy siting to education to our economy, it seemed like a good time to speak up.”

Before moving to Irasburg with her husband Peter Limon in 2010, Jackson spent most of her professional life as the communication director for Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located near Chicago and dedicated to research in particle physics, the science of the fundamental nature of the universe.

“From the western suburbs of Chicago to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont was quite a change,” Jackson said. “My work at Fermilab took me to countries all over the world. However, I grew up on a Vermont dairy farm, so moving to Irasburg felt like coming home. I do know from personal experience the effect of the price of milk on a farm family’s livelihood. Now I’d like to put my Vermont heritage and a lifetime of experience in communication to work on behalf of my neighbors in Orleans County. ”

Besides serving as the clerk of the Irasburg Planning Commission, Jackson is a trustee of Irasburg’s Leach Public Library and a founding member of the Irasburg Ridgeline Alliance, a citizens’ group dedicated to the responsible development of renewable energy and the preservation of Irasburg’s ridgelines.

She is the mother of three children, including her daughter Annie Jackson, who lives at Heartbeet Lifesharing in Hardwick.

Two dead, two injured after tragic accident in West Charleston

in Charleston/Derby/Derby Line/Newport/News

WEST CHARLESTON — Two people from Orleans County were tragically killed in a single-vehicle crash that took place in West Charleston on Sunday.

Police say Esperanza Robles, 29, of Derby Line, and Ryan Coulter, 26, of Newport, were killed in the crash that happened on Vermont 105, at around 4:40 p.m.

According to a statement issued by police, Joshua Cole, 30, of Derby, was operating a 1994 Honda Prelude traveling west in the town of West Charleston, when he lost control while exiting a sharp corner.

The vehicle traveled off the north side of the road.

Cole’s vehicle then struck a large tree off the side of the roadway.

Police say the three passengers were all ejected from the vehicle, and that no one in the car was wearing a seatbelt.

Amanda Letourneau, 27, of East Charleston, suffered head and leg injuries.

Cole also suffered head injuries from the crash.

“Alcohol and speed are factors contributing to the accident,” a statement issued by Sgt. Sean Selby of the Vermont State Police reads.

The accident remains under investigation.

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