Newport Dispatch visited the Third Thursday Open Mic Series at Montgomery Cafe in Newport. Thursday’s event brought together local poets and musicians. Started by Beth Barnes three months ago, word of Newport’s open mic has quickly spread, with musicians coming out from Lyndonville just to participate.
Please press play below to hear some of the music, and to be introduced to some of the musicians who are coming to Newport once a month for the event.
Photo Left to Right – Jeff Manning, owner of The Village Bike Shop, Gary White, local marathon runner, and Dr. Peter Harris, shared their personal stories and expertise in order to educate and invite discussion at Saturday’s community forum “Streets, Sidewalks, and Bike Paths,” co-hosted by the he HealthWorks ONE Coalition and the Newport City Renaissance Corporation Design Committee.
NEWPORT — The HealthWorks ONE Coalition, serving Orleans and Northern Essex Counties, in collaboration with the Newport City Renaissance Corporation Design Committee, asked the community where they want to go. On Saturday, a community forum was held in the Hebard State Building. Despite the below zero temperatures, a large contingent of people gathered to listen to the speakers and to share their opinions and hopes on how we can all move into the future, together.
“I’m so encouraged by the number of people who came together for the common good of our community,” Beth Barnes, Fit and Healthy Coordinator for HealthWorks ONE said. “We have the strong beginnings of a sound infrastructure that supports and encourages biking, walking and alternative modes of transport, but we can always improve.”
Dr. Peter Harris, a local athlete and champion for good health gave a compelling presentation in which he stressed the importance of healthy eating and exercise habits. His message to all is that if we take care of our bodies they will take care of us. Dr. Harris is a strong advocate for enjoying what the Newport area has to offer, especially during the winter. He reminded everyone that Memphremagog Ski Touring Foundation, a local non-profit, is a great resource available to the entire community.
Jeff Manning, owner of The Village Bike Shop in Derby, brought bicycles and explained ways to introduce children to the delights, as well as the importance of riding.
“We need to encourage children to ride, but it’s our responsibility as adults to teach them the right ways to do it,” Jeff said. “Safety should always be the first lesson so children grow up respecting the roads, and learn to enjoy the freedom a bike can offer.”
Mr. Manning, like most at the forum, is a strong advocate for a path that would connect Derby to Newport, bringing the two towns with a strong connection even closer.
The final speaker was Gary White, who gave a touching account of how he was encouraged to run his first marathon by local trainer, Sharon Stewart. He said that his father’s final advice was to take better care of himself. Gary took that advice to heart. He changed his life by starting a carefully planned exercise routine. He has now run countless marathons, and even has his name in the Guinness Book of World Records. Mr. White, who spends countless hours using the local streets and paths each week, brought the forum his own reports on what he encounters, and how he thinks Newport’s streets, roads, and paths could be improved.
The goal of the forum was to give the community a platform where they could listen, learn, and share their ideas. HealthWorks ONE and the Design Committee are committed to implementing ways by which all Newport’s streets can be user friendly for everyone.
“I feel that a collaboration between interested community members, local government, non-profits, and businesses, is a way to work toward giving people more of a choice when it comes to getting where they want to go,” Ms. Barnes closed by saying. “The forum was very encouraging.”
For more information, please contact Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org
NEWPORT — It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and Santa Clause is coming to town. Saturday’s Santa Festival in Newport let everyone in town know. Festivities kicked off downtown at 11 a.m. If you were not able to make it out Saturday, here is a collection of photographs taken by Tanya Mueller that will give you a sense of just how in the spirit of the holidays the people of Newport are this year. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
NEWPORT — AARP Vermont is encouraging groups and citizens to submit applications for the 2014 Community Action Sponsorship Program — a program to provide modest grant funds and technical support to community groups or individuals. The initiative is part of the recently adopted Age Friendly Communities initiative aimed at preparing Newport for the rapidly aging demographic shift – particularly in the areas of housing, mobility and community engagement.
The Community Action Sponsorships will provide financial and other support to groups within Newport that will advocate for improvements in any of the following areas:
– Affordable housing options for older residents
– Delivery of services to help older residents age in the setting of their choice
– Public transit or alternative transportation services
– Fostering intergenerational and multi-cultural connection
– Financial security for low income older residents
– Socialization and fostering community connection for older residents
– Education and awareness about LGBTQ elders
– Community accessibility for residents with disabilities
– Implementation of Complete Streets: Pedestrian & Bike infrastructure (sidewalks, amenities for walkers and bikers, public art, safe street crossings, bike lanes, navigation, etc.)
“We are committed to supporting community efforts in Newport and encourage those interested to apply. Our selection criteria and process are flexible and we are open to a broad range of ideas,” said Kelly Stoddard Poor of AARP Vermont.
The sponsorship is open to individuals, grassroots groups and small non-profits in Newport and should represent a desire to make change through local level activism and advocacy.
The deadline for applications is December 31, 2013. Up to four groups will be selected for grants ranging from $500-$2,000. Grants will be one-time funding for a 12-month period and groups who are awarded sponsorships will receive technical assistance and training from AARP staff.
AARP is partnering with Newport City Renaissance Corp. and executive director Patricia Sears on the effort. Applications and an RFP are available from Kelly Stoddard Poor at 802-951-1313 or email@example.com
NEWPORT — With the support of Newport Mayor Paul Monette, Newport City Council and developer Bill Stenger, Newport is poised to become Vermont’s first city to join AARP’s nationwide Network of Age Friendly Cities. As such, the city embraces 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.
As Newport plans for major redevelopment of its downtown and economic base, the city and its partners — including AARP Vermont and the Newport City Renaissance Corp. — are looking at ways to prepare for a rapidly aging population.
“With our aging population, especially in Vermont, we must ensure all communities are friendly to all residents from our youth to our senior citizens,” said Mayor Monette in his letter of support to AARP. With the support of a city council resolution, he pledged to establish an advisory citizens’ committee that includes the active engagement of older adults, and he committed to responding with a “concrete and robust plan of action” to address the needs of older residents.
Jay Peak CEO Bill Stenger also expressed support to have Newport considered an Age-Friendly city as part of the AARP network. “I would very much like to see Newport as a frontrunner in our state to proactively address the needs of our valuable aging population,” he wrote. “This initiative will prepare our city and community for the steadily aging population while benefiting all of our residents.”
AARP’s role in this program advances efforts to help people live easily and comfortably in their homes and communities as they age, and encourages older citizens to take active roles and have their voices heard. Focus areas include housing, transportation, caregiving, community engagement, volunteering, social inclusion and combatting isolation among elders.
A key player in leading the effort has been the Newport City Renaissance Corp. and its executive director Patricia Sears. “We are very excited about this partnership with AARP and really value its role in helping Newport realize our potential as a livable community for all ages,” she said. “With the significant investment coming to our region, our city is in a unique position to effect change in ways that will benefit residents and businesses alike.”
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization with 138,000 members in Vermont and 40 million members nationally. Through a wide array of special benefits, services, and information resources, we help our members make important choices, reach their goals and dreams, and make the most of life after 50.
This release was sent in by:
David Reville, Communications Director
NEWPORT — Chuck Ross, the secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, was in Newport on Tuesday to listen to the concerns of local farmers. The meeting was the first in a series of listening sessions, the rest of which will take place over the next few months throughout the state.
The low turnout in Newport for the meeting made it more of a listening session for the audience, as Ross had plenty to say in regards to the good things that are happening with Vermont’s agriculture. He also warned of the threat that the state faces in light of the Food Safety Modernization Act draft that was recently passed by Congress.
One thing that Vermont’s agriculture has going for it, is Chuck Ross himself. The Secretary of Agriculture has been named President of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. Listening to him speak on Tuesday, it was clear that as a state, we have one of the most knowledgeable minds in the industry working for us.
Ross laid it out for those in attendance. As a state, we are leading the way, and we also will face severe challenges set by the Food and Drug Administration.
“When you look at the state of Vermont, and what’s happening in agriculture, it’s really exciting,” Ross said. “We are leading the country in a number of ways. We’re on the cutting edge.”
According to Ross, when you talk about agriculture in Vermont, you have to start with dairy. The dairy farms support the dairy manufacturing industry in the state. This provides many Vermonters with quality jobs.
“I can’t underscore enough the importance that dairy is to the state. A lot of the other agriculture, like cheese making and yogurt, is what I call dairy plus, because it’s supported by the dairy farms. Also, the dairy farmers over the last 70 years have held the land, kept it open, and kept it productive.”
Ross went on to say that although there has been talk about herd numbers across the state decreasing, down about 2,000 cows over the last couple of years, the herd supply is fairly stable, and the milk supply is stable.
“Our farmers are getting better and better at producing more milk per cow, every year,” he said.
Ross talked about what he called the “agriculture renaissance,” happening in the state, that is bringing in a younger generation of farmers. This influx of younger farmers are proving to be successful in marketing and exporting their products all over the country, which is helping to build a new and diversified economic based agriculture. At a time when the average age of dairy farmers is in the 50’s, and the number of dairy farmers decreases, these new businesses are making a good partnership with the dairy community by putting less stress on the service industries that have been built around dairy.
Ross also pointed out that Vermont is leading the way in terms of diversification and localization of agriculture.
“Vermont is seen as one of the top three artisan cheese regions in the world,” Ross said. “Our artisan cheeses compete internationally, and do incredibly well in every competition they enter. But, you can’t do good cheese, without great milk.”
Vermont is also the number one producer of maple products in the United States. Maple production is the fastest growing and most profitable agriculture in the state. Our northern neighbors in Quebec are still by far the largest producer of maple in the world.
We are also number one when it comes to direct marketing of agriculture, with CSA programs, farmers markets, and roadside stands, driving this type of growth.
“People are copying what we’re doing in Vermont in terms of supporting and growing our local economies and communities by investing in agriculture,” Ross said.
The challenge that we face comes by way of the federal government, with the Food Safety Modernization Act. The draft is a set of regulations by the Food and Drug Administration, which was drafted in response to legislation passed by Congress to make our food system safer. According to Ross, as the draft stands today, it will seriously impact the state’s agriculture, making it much harder for farmers to do business.
“This is a huge cloud hanging over much of what we’re doing with agriculture in the state of Vermont,” Ross said. “Quite candidly, the FDA wrote a draft that is not well constructed to be useful, effective, or implementable in a way that works for agriculture in Vermont and many other states.”
Ross stated that people producing produce for direct human consumption are going to be regulated according to the Food Safety Modernization Act in ways that they have never been regulated before.
“Very significantly for the state of Vermont, the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance is potentially being rewritten,” Ross said. “The PMO has served us well. I’m scratching my head wondering why are they going to mess with something that has enabled us to produce the best food product for human consumption in the world, year after year.”
Ross said that many have been engaged in pressing the FDA not to take the draft set of rules, and make it a final set of rules. He said that they are requesting that a second draft be written.
While discussing what some of the new rules would be, Ross said that one says that you can not harvest a product for human consumption for nine months after you have applied manure. That would be a growing season in the state of Vermont. You would also have to wait 45 days to harvest a product that used compost as a soil amendment.
When asked if the FDA was considering a redraft of the rules as they stand, Ross said that he is optimistic.
“I’d say we’ve gone from unlikely, to possible.”
NEWPORT — Thanksgiving is behind us. Next stop, Christmas. What better way to start the season than with a locally grown tree? Within a few miles of each other on Main Street in Newport, you have your choice of two great spots to grab a wonderfully fragrant tree or wreath for the holidays this year.
The Garden Patch Farm Stand, located at 1700 East Main Street, has a wonderful selection of trees lined up and ready to go.
Just down the road and across the street from Cumberland Farms, at 535 East Main Street, Carl Szych and his family are up and running. Mr. Szych brings in the homegrown trees from his two farms, one located in Brownington, and the other in Coventry. Both of his tree farms offer a choose and cut option, but for one ready to go, stop in at his stand in Newport.
Mr. Szych has been in this spot for 18 years, and many of his customers come back every year to buy one of his trees.
“We just had somebody stop in today who has been buying Christmas trees from us for the last five
years,” Mr. Szych said.
There is also a nice selection of wreaths on display.
NEWPORT — After a five year hiatus, music will again fill the historic St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Second Street, Newport, with “Now Playing Newport – A Vermont Music Series.” It will be the only year-round music series in the Newport area, taking place on a monthly basis.
Jim McKimm, who for five years directed the former “Music For A Sunday Afternoon Series,” is returning to his musical roots after being a founding member of the MAC Center for the Arts, and serving as its president for five years. Mr. McKimm, who moved to Vermont in 1997, has served as Director of Music at St. Mark’s for the last twelve years, having served several churches in both New York City and New Jersey throughout his career.
Joining as local music partners in the series will be Dr. Sara Doncaster, the Music Department Head at Lake Region High School, and Ken Michelli, founder and director of the Newport Area Community Orchestra.
New to the program will be a series of free youth concerts, starting with the Lake Region High School Select Chorus, who will present their holiday program on Sunday, December 15, at 4 p.m., under the direction of Dr. Doncaster. Their repertoire will include sacred music of various types.
The series will be reaching out to the other schools and youth groups in the area for the 2014 season.
The series is administered separately from the church and will be administered strictly by grants, sponsors, donations, and ticket sales. Receptions will follow most programs in the church’s Parish House.
St. Mark’s, completed in 1883, has changed little since it was built. The building’s vaulted wooden ceiling makes for wonderful room acoustics. The small venue will allow for an intimate experience for both the audience, as well as the musicians.
For complete details on the series and programs, visit them at www.nowplayingnewport.com.
If you know of anyone who may be interested in taking part in the series, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEWPORT — On Saturday, December 7, there will be a wine and cheese reception for the opening of “Surreal,” an exhibit of surrealist and otherwise weird paintings, photographs, sculpture, and video. On display will be the works of Vermont artists Bradleigh Stockwell, Mary Brenner, Diana Mara Henry, Chris Hudson, Sam Thurston, Mandee Roberts, Phyllis Hammond, and others. Also on display will be the gallery’s collection of surrealist works by the late Seattle artist Donald Peel.
The event will take place at The 99 Gallery and Center, behind 316 Main Street, and across from the Family Dollar in downtown Newport.
The opening starts at 6 p.m. and will run until 8 p.m.
Come out for this relaxing and entertaining evening of unusual art. The exhibition runs through January 31, 2014.
It was seasons greetings from the MAC Center for the Arts to the people of the area Friday night, as the gallery hosted their Holiday Opening Reception. The event, which took place from 5-7 p.m., showcased all new artwork from gallery members.
Visitors were treated to the sounds of the newly formed Newport Area Piano Sextet, who were set up in the back of the gallery. The group played a variety of music, including traditional Christmas carols.
With a reception held every quarter, Friday marked the sixth time the MAC Center has hosted one during the Christmas season. Visitors circled the gallery viewing all the new artwork that filled the walls, a large selection of which was done specifically for the holidays.
Members of the collaborative wore name tags identifying themselves as artists, which allowed visitors the opportunity to discuss the artwork with the artists themselves.
“This is my first time at the Holiday Reception, and I’m so impressed with how many people showed up tonight,” Elinor Osborn, a photographer from Craftsbury said.
Regular business hours at the MAC Center are Monday through Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The newest selection of artwork makes for great holiday shopping. You can also visit the MAC Center online at http://www.memphremagogartscollaborative.com
Check out DISPATCH TV for a short video from Friday night’s reception at the MAC Center.
NEWPORT — “This is all totally fabricated,” Jason Willey, 30, of Derby Line told Judge Howard VanBenthuysen in court on Tuesday.
Willey is accused of chasing a Border Patrol agent in a residential area, as well as displaying a handgun while speaking with a Customs officer. He claims to have no idea why he was in court, and is being held at Northern State Correctional Facility in lieu of bail, after invoking his right to take 24 hours before entering a plea.
The judge said the court would enter pro forma not guilty pleas to misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment and careless or negligent operation. Bail was set at $25,000. The judge also ordered Willey to refrain from harassing any state or federal law enforcement officers, or possessing any weapons.
The incidents took place on two separate occasions, starting on Nov. 2, when Willey is said to have spotted Customs and Border Protection Officer Stephan Isabelle off duty at the Circle K station in Derby Line. According to an affidavit filed by Sergeant Michael LaCourse, Willey was starring at Isabelle while pumping gas, and allegedly pointed his finger in the shape of a gun, and made a shooting gesture.
Isabelle followed Willey and called for back-up. Customs and Border Protection Officer Justin Speaks spotted the car parked in Willey’s driveway on Lyon Road, where Willey is said to have grabbed a handgun that was tucked in the waistband of his pants. Willey put his hands about his head for Speaks to seize the gun after Speaks drew his weapon.
The chasing incident took place Nov. 14, when Border Patrol Agent John Marquissee saw Willey drive by. Marquissee states that he noticed Willey because of the incident which took place on Nov. 2.
According to an affidavit filed by state police trooper David Upson Jr., at 11:30 p.m., Marquissee stated that Willey began following him at speeds up to 80 miles per hour in a 25 miles per hour zone. Marquisse claims that he was being followed so closely, that he could not see Willey’s headlights, and that at one point, Willey cut his headlights completely.
Afterward, Willey sped off, and Marquisse was unable to locate Willey’s vehicle. Later, state troopers found Willey’s car parked in a lot on Route 105 in Newport Center, where Willey’s girlfriend, Pamela Binette, was in the drivers seat.
Binette is said to have confirmed the story of the chase, and that Willey told her to switch seats with him, which she did out of fear.
NEWPORT – The newly formed Newport Area Community Orchestra Piano Sextet will be performing at the Memphremagog Arts Collaborative on Friday, November 22nd from 5-7 p.m. for their annual Holiday Reception.
The group will be playing a variety of music including traditional Christmas carols.
The members are from left to right: Ken Michelli, Mark Violette, Linda Aiken, Lynn Perry, Howie Arzt, and Chris Maginniss.
All photos by Manfried Starhemberg
NEWPORT — The fire which blazed Thursday afternoon on Central Street in Newport left three families without a home. The apartment building, owned by Memphremagog Rentals, was completely destroyed. Nearby homes were evacuated by the Newport City Fire Department and Police Department due to the thick, noxious smoke which filled the surrounding area.
The fire broke out around 1 p.m. The Derby Line Fire Department was called in to help battle the fire which burned well into Thursday evening.
As of Thursday night, not much is known as to the cause of the fire, however, a cause and origin investigation will be done. There were no injuries. All residents who were inside the building at the time made it out safely.
NEWPORT — Part three of Freedom and Unity: The Vermont Movie, a six-part collaborative documentary exploring Vermont’s history and culture, was screened Wednesday night at the Gateway Center in Newport. The episode, titled Refuge, Reinvention, and Revolution, explored the back-to-the-land and activist communities that sprung up in the state during the sixties and seventies. A discussion took place afterward, led by Dorothy Tod and Kate Cone, two of the filmmakers who worked on the film.
The Vermont Movie is much more than a historical documentary. For one thing, it is thematic, rather than chronological. History is used to measure and organize the story, but, history is only one of many tools the film uses to explore the identity and character of Vermont.
The film looks at identity as a process of change, always in a state of flux and trying to work itself out. It also demonstrates how the collective consciousness of the present is only the latest in a series of changes taking place over time.
Episode three focused on how the social turmoil that the country experienced during the sixties, paved the way for a counter-culture migration into the state. Many communal living experiments were established, with the state’s natural serenity providing the perfect opportunity for the refuge, reinvention, and revolution, the episode takes its title from.
The characters appearing in part three are as much individuals, as they are representatives of the collective identity of the state. As the episode follows these “hippie” communes, emotionally, the viewer is drawn into the universal search for home, and what it takes to secure that place once it is found. The idealism that might bring one to a place like Vermont is quickly countered with the reality of what it takes to adapt to its unique environment.
“The film is as much about emotional history, and cultural history, than anything else,” Phil White said following Wednesday’s screening. “
The film also makes one ponder what it is about Vermont that makes it so special.
“It’s also just fun to reflect on why we love Vermont. For so many people Vermont is a home of choice. What is it about Vermont that is so appealing? If you were born here, or moved here, it feels like home,” Mr. White went on to say.
“It’s important to have another view of the identity of Vermont,” filmmaker Kate Cone, said. “We know what we think Vermont is, but the film offers a wide range of new ideas, connections, and links about events in history that people might not know about.”
For filmmaker Dorothy Tod, episode three allowed her to reflect on the theory behind the filmmaking process that brought about The Vermont Movie.
“Freedom and Unity, which is part of the name of the film, became a way to describe how we as filmmakers worked,” she said. “I didn’t grow up on a commune, but I grew up on the edge of one, and had neighbors and friends who had been part of one. It always made me a little nervous to have that degree of freedom.”
Episode four will be screened next Wednesday at the Emory Hebard State Office Building in Newport. The episode title is “Doers & Shapers.”
The film is an important study of the history and identity of Vermont, and should not be missed. For more information, visit the film on the web at TheVermontMovie.Com or watch the trailer below:
NEWPORT — At a Vermont Transportation Board public hearing on October 30, Vermont State Senator Robert Starr made a remark which angered the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). In a letter sent to Senator Starr the group requested that he address the matter publicly.
During the public hearing, Senator Starr was addressing members of the Vermont Transportation Board, who were taking responses from participants as to how the state could make up for a loss of gas tax revenue as the use of electric vehicles increases.
The state of Vermont’s energy plan sets a goal of 25 percent of all vehicles to run on alternative fuels by the year 2030.
“Part of the revenue that the state gets for transportation is tied to the gas tax,” Vermont Transportation Board Executive Secretary John Zicconi stated during an interview last week. “When we hit 143,000 electric vehicles, we will loose about 21 million dollars annually in revenue. The question Senator Starr was responding to was if this is coming, how do we make up that revenue?”
Senator Starr voiced his opinion that electric rate increases in the state would make it more expensive in the future to operate electric cars, than to drive gas powered vehicles.
“As far as electric cars go, the way I see it, if our electric rates keep going up at the rate they’ve been going up, I don’t think we’ll ever hit that magic number of 5,000 electric cars, because it’s going to cost more to plug those suckers in than it does to go give the Arabs four dollars a gallon for the gas,” Senator Starr said.
A participant in the crowd that night, who wishes to remain anonymous, was troubled by what he heard. The next day the incident was reported to the ADC. The group, based out of Washington, D.C., is the largest Arab American grassroots organization in the country.
In a letter sent to Senator Starr, the ADC wrote:
“ADC strongly believes that your statement is highly offensive to the Arab-American community and perpetuates demeaning stereotypes of Arab-Americans. Your statement can be interpreted as a generalization toward all persons of Arab ethnicity.”
Starr’s comment was confirmed through an audio recording that exists of the incident.
“What Senator Starr said was very stereotypical, and there is no room for that in politics,” ADC Director of Legal and Policy Affairs, Abed Ayoub, said during a telephone interview.
“Elected officials, and those seeking office need to be more responsible with their words, and need to have a better understanding of different ethnic groups and individuals that make up a part of this country.”
Although the individual who reported the incident demanded full anonymity, he provided this statement regarding his initial shock after hearing Starr’s comment.
“There are many ways his remark could have been taken, all of which were offensive.”
“His metaphor and his words were very careless, and very stereotypical,” Mr. Ayoub stated.
It took a week for Senator Starr to have the opportunity to respond to the letter because he never actually received it. Although the letter from the ADC was sent within a few days, they faxed it to the number given for Vermont State Senators online. Since they do not have offices in Montpelier, any fax that would have arrived for Senator Starr would be waiting in Montpelier until January.
When made aware of the letter, Starr was quick to offer an apology, and to retract what he said.
“I shouldn’t have said it that way,” Starr stated when asked about the incident.
“See our electric rates here in Vermont are the fourth highest in the nation. I should have said with our electric rates so high, we aren’t going to be able to use electric cars. I certainly didn’t want to offend anybody, and should have said it would be cheaper to give our money to the big oil companies and oil men. I did not want to offend anybody, and if I did I am certainly sorry that I did. My statement was more of a reaction to electric rates here in Vermont being so high.”
When made aware of Starr’s response, the individual who reported the incident appreciated Starr’s willingness to address the issue. He had been advised by the ADC that sometimes issues like this go without response.
“He acknowledged what he said, took responsibility for it, and offered an apology. You can’t ask for more than that, and usually don’t get as much,” the individual who reported the incident said. “When someone says something that offends someone else, and you find sincerity in their apology, you move on, and everyone grows from the situation,” he went on to say.
“I’ve worked with the public since I was a kid, and I don’t ever want to offend anyone,” Starr said. “I wasn’t applying gas prices to any individual, or individuals, but we do buy a lot of foreign oil, and our electric rates have gone up considerably over the last four years.”
NEWPORT — The Newport Area Community Orchestra played their annual Fall concert Saturday afternoon inside the assembly room at the Goodrich Memorial Library. Around 75 people came out to hear the orchestra play selections and excerpts from Mozart, Mussorgsky, Brahms, and Witt.
With the annual Fall concert behind them, and all the hard work leading up to Saturday’s performance over, the Newport Area Community Orchestra has a chance to reflect on the journey the group has taken. The orchestra, now in its third season, started out as a quartet led by conductor Ken Michelli. They now number 30 musicians, 23 of which played on Saturday.
As the orchestra continues to grow in numbers, so does its audience. Saturday’s performance filled the room to capacity.
“I was real pleased with the audience size,” Ken Michelli said following the concert. “This is the largest crowd we’ve had here at the library.”
The orchestra played superbly. Marc Semprebon, who introduced each piece, provided both insight and entertainment as he gave a brief history of each work before its performance. His often humorous, and thought provoking introductions made for a more intimate experience.
“Nerves are just a negative way we look at excitement,” she says. “It was a good experience for me because I never played a solo like that in front of people, so I actually had to seek out a flute teacher and work hard on it.”
Speaking with the musicians afterward, they overwhelmingly felt that the final piece of the night, Symphony in C by Witt, was their best.
“We put a lot of effort into that last piece. It was our longest, so we had a lot of pages to flip through. We had to concentrate to stay together and in time,” violinist Nathaniel Wendt said.
“I loved that last movement that we played. It was powerful, and a nice way to end,” Ms. Webster said.
Michelli, who also viewed the final movement to be the strongest, was proud of the way the group has the ability to rise to the occasion when putting on a concert.
“It came together quite well I think. It usually does. We just work that way,” he said.
The group is featured in this weeks State of the Arts section of Seven Days. To see a video of Saturday’s concert, click here.
The following quote is from earlier in the year:
“The Village of Newport and the people of Derby voted overwhelmingly to support having a place to buy underwear so we don’t have to go to Littleton,” said Sen. Robert Starr.
Senator Starr (D-Essex/Orleans), was addressing the fact that in 2010, 85 percent of voters supported the idea of a Walmart being built in Derby.
Well, when it was announced Wednesday that a deal had been made between developer Jeff Davis, Preservation Trust, and the Vermont Natural Resources Council, that there would be no opposition against the new Walmart store so long as Davis pays $200,000, we should all have felt a little insulted.
If you read between the lines, the message is that bribes and blackmail will be tolerated by us locals, so long as in the end we have a place to go buy underwear. After Wednesday’s payoff, Davis has won the fight, and can now ride into town, the hero, throwing underwear at us locals. He can throw a few hundred thousand dollars at the so-called conservation groups, which, is a very low amount compared to the money he will be taking away from local businesses like Pick & Shovel. Supposedly, everyone wins.
There is more to this deal than most people realize, because it sets a new standard of using the permitting process as a way to extort money. Both sides have used the people of Derby and Newport as a guise for making a large amount of money, in the end, both getting what they want.
VNRC and Preservation Trust win an easy payday, literally getting $200,000 for doing nothing, developer Jeff Davis will make plenty of money as we all flock to Walmart, getting our share of the prize…underware.
We are worth more than that, and Vermont should pride itself on being a state that has not been bought out by big businesses like Walmart. We still have a tradition and a culture around here that is free from the likes of superstores and corporate giants swallowing up every little business in its path.
If VNRC and Preservation Trust have agreed to stand down in opposition of the project, that does not mean that everybody else has to.
DERBY–Preservation Trust and the Vermont Natural Resources Council have agreed not to oppose a Walmart Superstore in Derby. The two Vermont conservation groups made a complex deal with developer Jeff Davis, the Shumlin administration, and the Legislature, requiring Davis to pay $200,000 for future improvements to downtowns throughout Orleans County.
The deal, signed September 25th, and unveiled in Burlington Wednesday afternoon, was welcomed by Newport City Mayor Paul Monette and Derby Select Board Chairman Brian Smith, who have been trying to bring Walmart into the area for years. Davis could possibly apply for local permits for the Walmart Superstore within 30 days.
For not opposing the future Derby store, Preservation Trust will receive payment once the store is built, with the $200,000 used entirely for grants to help downtowns in Orleans County. In addition, the state will add $500,000 to its downtown improvements tax credit program.
Davis also agreed to pay $600,000 over six years to Newport City. The city will use the money to ease the economic impact the store will bring.
“To me, the most important thing was to get Newport and Derby a Walmart,” Davis said.
One final addition to the deal is that Davis agreed that for the next five years, he will not seek to build any other Walmart stores outside other Vermont downtowns.
Both conservation group executive directors brought up the fact that there was a lack of organized opposition to the Derby store, and that the deal reached was a fair compromise, given the fact that a long battle could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In the past, both Derby and Newport City voters have supported the idea of an agreement with Davis being made in order to move the project along. In 2010, 85 percent of voters favored a Walmart in Derby being built.
When asked if the deal amounted to a payoff to stop fighting the Derby Walmart, Paul Bruhn, executive director of Preservation Trust, stated, “We don’t think of it in that way.”
NEWPORT — The Vermont Transportation Board held a public hearing in Newport Wednesday night at the Gateway Center. About 25 people from the area participated in the hearing, which was a fairly large number, considering that the Boston Red Sox were playing in the World Series at the same time.
The purpose of the hearing was to go over the budget situation that the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) is facing, and to discuss with the community what are our local priorities when it comes to proposed budgeting.
“We only have sixty-five percent of the money we need to do everything that we need to do,” a VTrans Board member said.
With a 35 percent gap in funding, some cuts will need to be made, but the goal was to find out where Vermonters would like to see those cuts made.
“We’re looking for your suggestions on how to fill that gap,” he went on to say.
Throughout the hearing, questions were asked of the participants. One such question was how the state should deal with tax revenue loss from an increase in electric vehicles. Since the gasoline tax makes up the largest share of the funding that VTRans receives, they are starting to look ahead toward a day when Vermonters purchase less gasoline.
One of the options on the table, and also the one most disliked by the participants, was a user based fee for electric cars, based on in-state mileage. When asked how that would be calculated, the Vtrans Board discussed a sticker fitted with GPS.
The suggestion was so unanimously opposed, that most participants laughed, making jokes about the NSA.
What to do with the Vermont railway system was another topic of discussion, with VTrans making it clear that even an increase in passengers would not prevent the state from loosing money in keeping them up.
Vermont State Senator Robert Starr addressed the board in the video below:
On a positive note, it looks like Newport will soon see a bus service running from:
Newport > St. Johnsbury > White River Junction
The Vermont Transportation Board also asked participants where would be good locations in the area to place Park and Ride stations. It seems that we will see more of them coming to the area soon.
DERBY LINE — Inside the social hall of the First Universalist Parish in Derby Line, the atonal sounds of violinists and cello players warming up, echos off the walls. String bass player Jessica Griffen staggers in under the weight of her instrument. Once the orchestra has set up, music director Ken Michelli stands facing the musicians, ready to lead them into their first score.
Over the next hour and a half, the Newport Area Community Orchestra, or NACO, as they are known, will rehearse for their upcoming concert at the Goodrich Memorial Library in Newport.
With Mr. Michelli conducting, the orchestra ran through its repertoire. Although only a rehearsal, members of the orchestra played with intensity, and as the night progressed, Mr. Michelli had a lot to be excited about.
“This might be our best concert yet,” Mr. Michelli said to the group following rehearsal Tuesday night. “It happens every year at about this time, that things really start to click. Each year we continue to improve.”
Not only does the orchestra continue to improve, but they continue to grow as well. In their third season as an ensemble, the number of musicians involved has grown rapidly.
“We started with five members, but now we’re up to about thirty,” Michelli said.
As members of the orchestra packed up their instruments, they were noticeably pleased with the way they are playing together. There was a sense of excitement in the room, with members realizing that NACO is maturing into a fine orchestra.
“I’ve been with this orchestra since its inception, and each year it just keeps getting better,” flute player Sue Brassett said.
Marc Semprebon, a horn player from Beebe Plain, expressed his appreciation of having a space like the hall of the First Universalist Parish to rehearse in.
“It’s nice to rehearse in this building because it’s big, and usually much louder than the places we will actually play,” he said. “It’s just a great building.”
Besides performing at various local venues throughout the year, the Newport Area Community Orchestra presents three annual concerts. They play once in the spring, and twice in the fall, with one fall concert done to raise money for the Haskell Opera House.
NACO’s fall concert at the Goodrich Memorial Library is Saturday, November 9, at 1 p.m. Admission will be free, however, to help support the orchestra’s efforts of bringing classical music to the Northeast Kingdom, a $5 donation at the door is asked.
The group serves the student communities of North Country Union High School, Lake Region Union High School, United Christian Academy, and Stanstead Academy. Students are encouraged to join.
The fifth lecture of the Fall 2013 Osher Lecture Series took place Wednesday afternoon inside the Conference Room at the Hebard State Office Building in Newport. The lecture, given by Bob Manning, was titled, “The Neolithic World of Stone: From Gobekli Tepe to Stonehenge.” About 50 people were in attendance.
It was a bit like attending a college lecture from one of your favorite professors, which is usually someone who has the ability to entertain, as well as enlighten.
Mr. Manning, an art historian, artist, and retired Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts, is a graduate of Pratt Institute and the University of Hartford. His lecture Wednesday focused on two Neolithic sites, Stonehenge and Gobekli Tepe. Gobekli Tepe, located in Turkey, predates Stonehenge by 6,000 years.
“I’m probably one of the only people left in Vermont still using slide projectors,” Manning joked early on during the presentation.
The sound of the fan cooling the light bulb inside the projector, and the snapping of the slides as they changed over, added to the ambiance of the presentation.
Over the years Mr. Manning has traveled throughout the world visiting ancient stone circles, and many of the slides in his presentation were photographs from his travels. He also projected some of his own drawings, many of which were done on site.
The first part of the lecture focused on the more well known stone circle sites in England and Ireland. A large number people attending the lecture raised their hands when asked if they had visited any of the sites.
When the lecture shifted to exploring the known facts about Gobekli Tepe, Manning, using a quote, brought into context what an incredible feat in human achievement the site represents.
“It’s as if someone had built a 747 in a basement with an X-Acto knife.”
Mr. Manning’s presentation was not only full of images and information on Neolithic stone circles, but a good amount of humor as well.
“Living as long as I have, I have years of witnessing many things, including drawings inside the walls of men’s rooms,” Manning said amusingly while displaying some of the more explicit etchings on the stones of Gobekli Tepe.
In summing up the importance of such sites, Manning returned to another quote about stone circles. They are, “a space set apart to harbor the inner life.”
The Osher Lecture Series brings together a community of adult learners who enjoy engaging discussions on a range of topics. The lectures seek to engage the minds and stimulate the senses.
The next event in the series will take place Wednesday, October 30, at 1 p.m. The lecture, “The Best of Broadway and Beyond-Right in Your Own Backyard,” will be given by Lynn Leimer.