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Newport police chase ends in crash Tuesday night

in Newport/News

NEWPORT — A Lowell man led Newport police on a chase last night at around 6:15 p.m. The man ended up crashing his vehicle, which at one point went airborn after hitting a mound of dirt after leaving the roadway.

Jeffrey Fortier, 39, was traveling at a high rate of speed down City Farm Road in Newport. He was attempting to elude Newport police. The Vermont State Police were called for backup.
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High-speed police chase Sunday night in Irasburg and Lowell

in Irasburg/Lowell/Newport/News

NEWPORT — A 37-year-old man from Johnson is lodged at Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport after leading police on a high speed chase that lasted 38 miles on Sunday night.

Jeremiah Phillips was driving on Route 58 in Irasburg on Sunday night, when a Vermont State Trooper attempted to pull his vehicle over. While the trooper approached the vehicle, Phillips fled.
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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.

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