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Moose-Vehicle Collision in Newport Center

in Newport/News

NEWPORT — Moose are a serious road hazard in northern New England. Many people have suffered extensive vehicle damage and eighteen people have lost their lives in collisions with moose in Vermont. Thankfully, Dennis Parent was not one of them.

Parent, 46, of Sutton, struck a moose in Newport Center at around 10:40 p.m. on Friday night, while traveling south on Vermont Route 100. He was driving a Chevrolet Work Van, which was totaled. The moose died as a result of the collision.
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Three Charged for Assault Outside Troy General Store Plead Not Guilty

in Derby/Feature/Newport/News/Troy

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

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

Casey Wheeler, 38, of Derby, and Daniel Beaumont, 25, of Newport, each pled innocent to aggravated assault and disorderly conduct by fighting.
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Demolition Permit Issued to AnC Bio Vermont

in Feature/Newport/News

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

in Feature/Newport

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

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

in Feature/Newport

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

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

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — It’s a frightening scenario. An illness spreads across the state of Vermont, or a catastrophic disaster occurs, causing mass amounts of people to seek emergency treatment at their local hospital. The hospital will be overwhelmed, and forced to open up a medical surge site. At the same time, there will be people showing up needing a place to stay.
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Rasputitsa Bike Race A Big Success in Newport

in Feature/Newport

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

rasputitsa bike race newport vermont

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Representative Kilmartin Receives Apology for Accusations of Racism

in Feature/Newport

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Police Launch Traffic Operation Between Vermont and Quebec

in Feature/Newport

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

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

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

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

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

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

Car Stolen in Newport

in Feature/Newport

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

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

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

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

The license plate number is FXY789.

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

Ice Out on Memphremagog: Colby the Winner

in Feature/Newport

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Suzanne Zisselsberger.
Photo by Suzanne Zisselsberger.

Green Mountain United Way Working to Improve Lives in Orleans County

in Feature/Newport

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suspicious Activity Prompts Newport Police to Issue Reminder to Parents

in Feature/Newport

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

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

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

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

Newport City Council Bans Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

in Feature/Newport

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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:

Addressing Homelessness and Housing Issues in Newport

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — Wednesday night at the monthly Community Commons meeting at the Gateway Center in Newport, the topic was housing. The meeting was a way to bring together the facts, to identify the need, and to come together to try and come up with a solution.

When it comes to addressing the issue of homelessness in the Northeast Kingdom, one of the problems is that it tends to be invisible. However, the numbers are shocking.

On Tuesday, Community Health Integration in St. Johnsbury saw 24 people who needed shelter for the night. In Newport, Home Team, a group of residents trying to help by offering overnight kits for those in need, have issued 20 kits so far. The kits include such basic necessities as a hat, gloves, and space blanket. It is also estimated that at least 20 veterans are homeless in the Northeast Kingdom.

The current state of affordable subsidized housing tells another story. There are 420 people in the area currently on a waiting list to have access to such facilities. The waiting list at Newport Senior Housing is 30 people.

And then there is the issue of housing affordability. If you spend less than 1/3 of your income on housing related expenses, it is considered affordable. However, in Orleans county, we pay more than 50 percent of our income for housing, a number which demonstrates that people do not make enough money in the area to afford to live in the housing that is available.

photoParticipants on Wednesday night, assembled in a circle, sat for over 2 hours to address these housing issues.

“Today we’re identifying a need,” Patricia Sears, moderator of the Community Commons gathering said. “If we work together, we can find a solution.”

In order to find the solution, it was important for the group to identify not only the need, but some of the obstacles that get in the way of making the positive changes that the group would like to see happen.

Here again, the facts are shocking. It appears one of the biggest issues to opening a homeless shelter in the area is insurance. For a local church to offer an overnight facility, they would need to buy an additional liability insurance that most could not afford.

Much of the meeting Wednesday night focused on this need for a local warming shelter, and served as the starting point for this newly formed coalition.

When members of the Newport City Council were asked by a group of local church leaders as to some of the other hoops besides insurance that would need to be jumped through in setting up a shelter, they were told that there are also zoning issues, state safety issues, as well as building codes.

Merton Bangemann-Johnson of Rural Edge, the Northeast Kingdom’s affordable housing non-profit, said that it is cheaper to build a shelter from scratch, than it is to retrofit an existing building.

After some heated discussion, there was some consensus that unfortunately it does comes down to economics, and that those issues need to be addressed early on in the planning of how the group will move forward to address the issue.

“We don’t have the funds,” Newport Mayor Paul Monette said. “We can maybe work with you, but we’re trying to keep our tax rate down and promote development. We also don’t have the land in Newport, which is another issue.”

“It’s easy to throw stones, but the real problem is that we’re poor,” City Manager John Ward said. “People come here to live, and they don’t have jobs, and we can’t afford to maintain them.”

The meeting concluded by focusing on the importance of staying connected, and networking with people interested in helping work toward tackling some of the issues which were brought up. The Community Commons meetings are designed to facilitate such connections.

“The numbers we went over tonight really tell a story,” Scott Libby, pastor of the Grace Brethren Church, said after the meeting. “I’m also really interested as to what the liability insurance would cost at our church to set up a shelter, because I just don’t know.”

One local church leader who did not want his name mentioned in this article stated that he felt the need to organize an effort to open a homeless shelter was clear, and that he and his colleagues would look into the issue, but, he felt that City Council members who attended the meeting did not seem to offer any hope toward it becoming a reality.

“It’s one thing for us to try to come up with a location, and to organize the effort, but tonight the City Council members didn’t have one positive thing to say as far as making it seem even remotely possible,” the church leader said. “You need some reassurance when you start a project like this, and you saw tonight that we didn’t really get any.”

The Community Commons gatherings are held from 6 to 8 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month. There is an optional pot luck dinner, and all are welcome.

AARP Vermont Announces Community Action Grant Winners in Newport

in Newport

NEWPORT — As AARP Vermont continues to support efforts to make Newport a more “age-friendly” city, they have announced the winners of their 2014 Community Action Grants. The winners are:

Fresh Start Community Farm, Jennifer Black ($2,000)
Newport Dispatch, Bryan Marovich ($2,000)
Cornucopia Program/Umbrella Inc., Lynne Rublee ($1,000)
The Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Ayeshah Raftery ($1,000)

In partnering with AARP Vermont, Newport has committed to embrace the changing demographics of an aging population by focusing on safe, walkable streets, better housing and transportation options, access to key services, and community engagement opportunities for all ages. These Community Action Grants support that direction by funding small, grassroots organizations that are working to advance the Age Friendly movement.

AARP officials conducted the selection process along with Patricia Sears of Newport City Renaissance Corp. and community leader Pam Ladds.

“This was an eye-opening experience,” said Sears. “It was encouraging to see so many good ideas out there that enrich our community in different ways. We are very grateful to have AARP as a partner — to not only fund these grants, but to work with us on ways to improve Newport for all ages.”
 
Ladds indicated how difficult it was to choose winners.

“We are fortunate to have such great energy in Newport around community development, but it made for a very difficult selection process,” said Ladds.  “I wish we could fund them all!”
 
“We are very pleased to extend support to these projects as a way to foster local community development initiatives in Newport,” said Greg Marchildon, state director at AARP Vermont.  “We received a broad range of proposals to consider this year and we hope these modest grants will inspire and support dedicated grassroots groups that have a vision for Newport and how it can be enhanced. We are committed to working with our partners and officials in Newport as they develop future plans and we expect to continue this program next year as well.”

AARP Vermont Outreach Director Kelly Stoddard Poor was also part of the selection committee.

Below is a summary of each organization:

Fresh Start Community Farm — Fresh Start Community Farm was started in 2011 with a mission to provide access to fresh food while also building a strong community. It now operates four sites and is completely volunteer based. Last year, the farm produced over 4,900 pounds of food and donated 2,100 pounds to the community. It also launched an Adopt-a-Grandparent program which pairs elderly and younger volunteers who garden together. With the AARP grant, Fresh Start will expand its programs by purchasing raised beds which will provide wheelchair access for volunteers who need it.

Newport Dispatch — This independent online news site is focused on Newport and surrounding towns featuring human interest, arts and entertainment news. Launched in October 2013, the aim is to provide an additional resource while engaging more people in community activities and issues. The AARP grant will support Newport Dispatch’s effort to provide strong citizen journalism for NEK residents and fund more advanced audio equipment.

Cornucopia Program / Umbrella Inc.
— A non-profit serving the Northeast Kingdom by providing advocacy services for women and families who are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Cornucopia is an Umbrella program that helps those in unsafe living situations as they move into more secure and independent arrangements. Partnering with Vermont Works for Women, it provides meals to low-income and homebound seniors and these meal sites also serve as a place for those over 60 to access Umbrella’s domestic violence and sexual violence services. The meal sites have proven to offer great meals and a place for seniors to connect with one another and learn about vital community services. This grant will help Cornucopia to extend its job training initiatives for vulnerable female citizens.

The Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (VABVI)
— Established in 1926, VABVI works to help blind and visually impaired Vermonters become independent. Operating across the state, they hold regular Peer Assisted Learning and Support (PALS) classes providing a place for participants (mostly seniors) to discuss how their impairments affect their lives and how to cope with them. The PALS group in Newport, led by Harriet Hall, helps seniors in the area on issues ranging from learning to make meals, continue socializing, coping with vision loss, assistive technology and awareness. The AARP grant will provide a resource the Newport PALS group to secure guest speakers, provide food and materials as well as to organize community awareness events.

Scenes from Penguin Plunge Newport 2014

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — “It was a lot colder getting out,” Matt Smith said. “It almost felt like your skin was freezing.

Mr. Smith was one of the brave souls who faced single digit temperatures on Sunday as they jumped into Lake Memphremagog to raise money for Special Olympics Vermont.

The Penguin Plunge is a three-part event series that reaches 1,500 brave participants across Vermont and the surrounding states. The highly anticipated fundraising event now attracts school groups, sports teams, businesses, families, and law enforcement.

“It was not as bad as I thought it would be,” Ms. Hardin, who jumped in with a team from North Country Hospital Rehab Services, said. “Our team was ready for this, and I think we’re all in for next year.”

Newport Dispatch has put together the following video from the event, as well as some photos taken by Tanya Mueller.

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Columbia Forest Products Employee Injured In Chipper Room

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — On Tuesday evening at around 9:30, an individual’s arm was pinched in a belt that is located inside the chipper room at the Columbia Forest Products facility in Newport.

Although initial reports of the incident reported that the individual involved in the tragic accident had his arm caught in the chipper, Glenn Foster, Columbia Forest Product’s local Plant Manager, stated that it was only the belt itself that caused the injury.

“An individual’s arm was pinched in a belt that is located inside the chipper room, although the chipper itself was not involved in the incident,” Foster said.

In a statement released by Foster, he did not play down the extent of the injury, but wanted to make it clear that the chipper was not involved.

He went on to say that an extensive investigation is taking place that will reveal the root cause of the incident.

In the meantime, Mr. Foster and his human resource team are reaching out to the individual and his family to do what they can to get him on the road to recovery.

Foster also went on to compliment Columbia employees that responded, the Newport fire department, EMT attendees and North Country Health system’s emergency response teams for doing a fantastic job providing quick medical attention.

Newport City Fire Chief James LeClair also stated that Columbia Forest Products employees did an excellent job at getting the man out of harms way.

Video Highlights from the Fire and Ice Radar Run Snowmobile Event with Results

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — It’s a bird…it’s a plane…no…it’s Pat Sicard’s snowmobile going 135 miles per hour down Lake Memphremagog.

The Fire and Ice Radar Run took place on Saturday behind the East Side Restaurant. The event had 57 people sign up to take a high speed run down the 600 foot track, with a 400 foot slowdown lane.

Pat Sicard was just shy of setting an all-time record for the event. Joe Churly clocked in at 125 miles per hour, the second fastest ride of the day.

Below are the race results:

700 Improved (mph)

Mark Labrie (99)
Jim Corr (97)

700 Modified

Nate Botala (99)
Stephanie Clark (97)

Stock Power Up Four Stroke

Tom Ashley (104)
Chris Fisher (96)

Open 100 Pro Stock

Joe Churly (125)
Todd Demarini (119)

Outlaw

Pat Sicard (135)

Kids

Jonathan Hunt (53)
Connor Oliver (47)

Powder Puff

Michelle Matten (74)
Karen Fontaine (72)

Vintage

Doug Matten (77)
Andrew Matten (76)

500 Stock

Dan St. Hilaire (88)
Sam Schneider (77)

600 Stock

Nick Sicard (93)
Joseph Egitto (87)

700 Stock

Dana Morse (92)
Bob Vidile (90)

800 Stock

Ben Fitzgerald (92)
Jimmy Reid (91)

800 Improved

Mark Labrie (106)
Carl Dudley (105)

Stroke 1,000 Stock

Derrick Choquette (95)
Josh Briere (93)

1,000 Stock

Jimmy Reid (98)
Dave Wulfson (95)

Snowmobiling Weekend Starts Today

in Newport

NEWPORT — Starting today and running through Sunday, snowmobilers from Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine are taking part in a three-day weekend when riders who are registered in any one of these states can ride the trails of the other two states for free.

The states have agreed to allow trail access without having to pay another state for the opportunity to ride there. Officials say that it is good for the economy of all three states.

All other host state regulations apply, including speed limits, youth laws and Vermont’s mandatory liability insurance law.

This reciprocity weekend has been going since 2010, with Maine joining the weekend festivities in 2011.

So if you have a snowmobile legally registered in any of the participating states, starting today you are allowed on trails in all three states.

Have fun, and be safe.

For more information on snowmobiling in the area, visit the Drift Dusters Snowmobile Club, and the North Country Mountaineers Club.

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