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More than 1,000 visit Maxwell’s Neighborhood Farm in Newport

NEWPORT — On Saturday, more than 1,000 visitors flocked to Maxwell’s Neighborhood Farm in Newport.

The Newport dairy farm was packed as guests enjoyed a Vermont-inspired pancake breakfast and took a self-guided tour of the 1,000 cow dairy farm.

In its fifth year, Vermont Breakfast on the Farm aims to connect the public with hard-working dairy farming families like the Maxwell family.

Fourteen educational stations throughout the farm tour helped visitors learn about daily life on the farm.

Those stations included a look at sustainable technologies and practices, including the Maxwell’s methane digester which utilizes cow manure, capturing methane gas, turning it into renewable electricity to power the farm and surrounding homes.

Guests also saw how farmers safeguard local waters like Lake Memphremagog through the use of protective cover crops, and toured the Maxwell’s free-stall-barns where cows have 24-7 access to fresh food, water, and comfortable beds.

Maxwell’s Neighborhood Farm was founded in 1957 by Maurice and Lois Maxwell.

They raised four sons on the farm, including Brad, Stewart, Anthony, and Jeffery.

All four brothers chose careers on the farm alongside their parents. Their family farming tradition continued when their grandchildren, Matt Maxwell and Darik LeBlanc, 3rd generation farmers – joined them on the farm.

The 4th generation, the great grandkids of Maurice and Lois, are now growing up on the family farm as well.

“The fact that four generations get to be on this farm working together, caring for our cows and land each day, that’s a special thing,” said third-generation dairy farmer Matt Maxwell.

The Maxwell farm now milks nearly a thousand cows and spans 2,000 acres of corn and hay. The farm is also well known for growing vegetables, Maxwell’s Neighborhood Greens, for local schools and businesses in a greenhouse, warmed by excess heat generated by their methane digester.

More than 100 volunteers from across Vermont, many with experience in the dairy industry, joined the Maxwell family and their employees to help answer visitor questions about modern dairy farming.

“I’m proud to be a Vermont dairy farmer, to be producing a nutritious food for my community, state, and region,” Maxwell added. “I’m honored to see all of these people who came out today to get a glimpse into what we do.”

Driver sideswipes police cruiser while surfing internet for episode of “Saved by the Bell”

in News/Northeast Kingdom/Vermont

THETFORD — Police say a Wells River man was on his phone surfing the internet for a specific episode of the 90’s television sitcom ‘Saved by the Bell,’ when he sideswiped a police car.

The driver was identified as 55-year-old Kevin Bacon.

Bacon was driving a 2016 Chevrolet Spark down Interstate 91 when he struck the cruiser at around 3:45 p.m.

The car was parked while the police officer was helping a motorist in the breakdown lane.

Bacon continued for a short distance after the incident and was taken into custody about a mile from the crash scene.

According to police, their investigation revealed that Bacon was looking down at his cell phone at the time of the crash, as well as several minutes beforehand.

Police say he never saw the marked police cruiser.

There were no injuries during the incident.

State Police officials did not identify which episode was of such interest to Bacon.

He was arrested for gross negligent operation of a vehicle and leaving the scene of a crash, as well as being issued a traffic citation for texting while driving.

NEKLS Prevention Services works with local schools to combat youth vaping epidemic

in Derby/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among middle and high school students in Vermont, and new data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey has shown that there is an alarming number of students in Orleans county who report trying electronic vapor products.

In an effort to combat that growing statistic, Lake Region Union High School collaborated with NEKLS Prevention Services and held a parent informational night as well as educational sessions for students.

The goal of the two events was to inform parents and students of the growing concerns around these products. E-cigarettes come in many different sizes, colors, and types.

Tobacco companies have even designed products to resemble small electronic devices that are compact and allow for discreet carrying and use. Lake Region administration and staff say they are seeing an increase in e-cigarette devices that look like USB sticks and other everyday items.

“We believe that it’s critical parents talk with their children about these products to let them know that vaping is not safe and that long term impact of the use of e-cigarettes is unknown,” Sharon Gonyaw, Vice Principal, and Andre Messier, Principal, of LRUHS said in a joint statement.

Health officials say that kids need to know that nearly all e-cigarettes contain nicotine.

Research has not only shown that nicotine is highly addictive and is harmful to a developing adolescent brain, but most concerning is that exposure to nicotine can lead to addiction and disrupt attention and learning.

NEKLS Prevention Services has also closely collaborated with North Country Union Junior High School health educator, Julie Gunn and SAP, Pat Gelo, on educating students.

This outreach has come through class presentations, “Kick Butts Day” activities, and getting updated Vermont Dept of Health substance-free signage posted around the school grounds and fields.

“I often challenge students to think about what they want to control their lives when it comes to nicotine addiction,” Julie Gunn said. “I enjoy sharing information and helping them in making good decisions around being nicotine free.”

Most recently, NEKLS Prevention Services attended NCUJHS’s Parent Night and offered several mini E-Cigarette presentations to parents, beginning with a 5-minute video from VOX Media, “How Juul Made Nicotine Go Viral” followed by a brief presentation and Q&A.

“I would say the most important thing we need to do is educate everyone, students, parents and community members about the dangers of vaping,” Pat Gelo said. “Knowledge is power.”

Messier and Gonyaw say that the community must work together to provide children with the knowledge and support to help them make a healthy decision when it comes to vaping.

Below are facts and resources from the Vermont Department of Health to help raise awareness about the vaping crisis and nicotine addiction.

◙ E-cigarettes, which frequently contain nicotine, are never safe for youth and young adults.

◙ E-cigarette use among youth increased by 75% from 2017 to 2018 [National Youth Tobacco Survey].

◙ Youth use of e-cigarettes increases the future risk of smoking traditional cigarettes and can be just as addictive.

◙ Customizable e-cigarette devices can be used to deliver non-nicotine substances, such as cannabis extract or honey oil.

◙ According to a study by Environmental Health Perspectives, 75% of fruit-, candy- and cocktail flavored e-cigarettes, which attract youth, contained diacetyl, a chemical linked to lung disease.

◙ E-cigarette aerosol can contain harmful substances, including nicotine, heavy metals like lead, volatile organic compounds and cancer-causing chemicals [John Hopkins School of Public Health].

◙ Since launching in 2016, JUUL has become the most popular e-cigarette on the market. Its design, which looks like a USB flash drive, makes it easy to conceal.

◙ All JUUL products contain nicotine; one pod delivers the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes.

◙ Signs of addiction to nicotine include trembling, nausea and frequent e-cig use. Watch for behavior such as frequent trips to the bathroom, reports of illness or hand-to-mouth activity.

◙ Youth can receive help in quitting e-cigarettes from their pediatrician. School nurses can assist by recognizing symptoms, discussing these with the student and parent and referring to 802Quits, Vermont’s 24/7 quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW) for ages 13 and older. For more, visit 802quits.org

◙ It is illegal to sell any tobacco product to minors, including e-cigarettes, yet underage teens are obtaining devices, often from older students or family and friends.

◙ E-cigarettes are called “tobacco substitutes” in Vermont’s state statute. Use of e-cigarettes is banned – except for vape shops – wherever lit tobacco products are restricted, including on school grounds, at school events and while being transported.

◙ It is important for parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of using e-cigarettes, including JUUL and other commonly-used products such as Suorin, Justfog Minifit and MarkTen.

Below is a list of resources curated by NEKLS Prevention Services for parents who would like to learn more about this issue.

VDH: E-cigarettes, vaping and JUUL Resource 2019

Stanford Medicine Tobacco Prevention Toolkit: E-Cigs and Vape Pens

Truth Initiative E-Cigarettes Fact Sheet

The U.S. Surgeon General’s Fact Sheet

Parent Tip Sheet

Concerned parties are also encouraged to contact Allyson Howell from NEKLS Prevention Services, through email at allyson.howell@neklsvt.org or calling 802-334-7506.

Congressman Peter Welch meets with NEK Young Professionals

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/St. Johnsbury

ST. JOHNSBURY — Vermont U.S. Representative Peter Welch recently visited with young professionals in the Northeast Kingdom at Catamount Arts in St. Johnsbury.

The Northeast Kingdom Young Professionals Network helped to organize the breakfast with Congressman Welch’s office.

Young entrepreneurs and professionals from local non-profit organizations, serving youth and families, the service industry, and marketing, tourism and beyond joined together to share with Welch their thoughts and feelings regarding life in the Kingdom for young professionals.

Painting an honest and sincere picture, there were laughs yet also valid concerns shared about job opportunities, childcare, healthcare, homeownership, access to broadband and faith in state and local governments.

Welch offered a heartfelt thanks for the input and shared that he felt a responsibility to go back to Washington and try to help the hard workers in NEK continue to succeed.

The NEK Young Professionals Network is excited to air more of its work over the coming months, with several initiatives on the precipice of being announced.

You can join the group for a networking mixer on Thursday, June 20, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Essex House in Island Pond.

This will be the first event the group has held in Essex County.

Clausing and Findlay recognized for community service

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWARK — Jan Clausing and John Findlay were recently honored with Community National Bank’s “Community Service Award.”

The award was created to recognize remarkable people who give back to the community, making them better places to live, work and grow.

For several years Clausing and Findlay have volunteered countless hours assisting with major renovation projects and the maintenance of the Newark Union Church.

They take care of repairs as needed, help to maintain the electrical system, the antique Round Oak wood stove, and the upkeep of the grounds.

They get the church ready for the annual Old Home Day Festival, sunrise Easter services, weddings, and celebrations of life.

They work closely with Jo Ann Clausing who has also been a longtime volunteer of the church.

Clausing and Findlay are active members of several other organizations.

Clausing is a volunteer at the Lyndonville Welcome Center, a 30-year member of the St. Johnsbury Players, currently serving as Vice President, Newark Supervisor of the Northeast Kingdom Waste Management District, and a board member of Lyndon Rescue.

Findlay is a member of Faith In Action, the Lyndon Historical Society, the Vail Museum at Northern Vermont University-Lyndon, and a board member of the Darling Inn Meal Site.

Community National Bank says they were proud to present Mr. Clausing and Mr. Findlay with the bank’s Community Service Award for the first quarter of 2019.

The bank recognizes recipients by making a $500.00 contribution to a local non-profit organization of the recipient’s choice.

Clausing and Findlay have requested that their donation be made to the Newark Union Church.

For more information about this award and to nominate a deserving neighbor, visit communitynationalbank.com or contact Marketing Assistant Anne Quirion at 802-487-3513 or aquirion@communitynationalbank.com.

Tour de Kingdom kicks off this Friday

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — The three-day Tour de Kingdom will be returning for another year this coming weekend, running June 7, 8, and 9.

The current roster stands at just over 100 riders this year with online registration open through until tomorrow at 5:00 p.m.

Friday’s “Ride Around Le Lac Memphremagog,” a total of 78 miles, offers an international flavor. Currently, 30 riders are signed up, including Cindy Werhane from Portland, Oregon, who swam the 25-mile length of the lake in 2017 and is returning to bike around it as a victory lap of sorts.

The biggest day is The Moose, a 103-mile timed event, on Saturday, with 93 riders signed on, coming from 11 states and Canadian provinces.

Riders will be leaving from Mike’s Tiki Bar in East Burke, traveling north on Route 114 through Island Pond to Norton and Canaan, and returning along the Connecticut River on Route 102 to Bloomfield, then along 105 to Island Pond and back to East Burke.

Sunday offers some shorter rides, again leaving from East Burke and covering Lake Willoughby, Crystal, Seymour, and Island Pond.

Another 30 riders are signed up for Sunday.

The weather forecast looks good for all three days of the event.

Organizers say they are pleased to see the growth of the Tour and additional walk-on riders are welcome.

North Country Hospital and NVRH open new sleep clinic

in Health/News/Northeast Kingdom/St. Johnsbury

ST. JOHNSBURY — The Northern VT Center for Sleep Disorders held a grand opening and ribbon cutting of its new space in St. Johnsbury last week.

Local community members, as well as staff from North Country Hospital and Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH), enjoyed a summer afternoon at the entrance to the newly developed space.

The center is located in the Shippee Family Eye Care building at 468 Hospital Drive, St. Johnsbury.

Sleep center staff members proudly offered tours of the new space, which has the capacity for four sleep rooms and four examination/consult rooms.

Guests were able to meet with providers and learn about local sleep and pulmonary services.

Dr. Veronika Jedlovszky is the Medical Director and is board certified in Sleep and Pulmonology.

Other staff includes Dr. Weili Gray and nurse practitioner Danielle Speer, as well as sleep techs and registered polysomnographers.

Dr. Jedlovszky added that there is a long history of Newport providing sleep services to the Northeast Kingdom and beyond, having outgrown its space more than once.

The original sleep center began on the second floor of North Country Hospital in 1997 and is certified by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

“The comprehensive team can provide evaluation and treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, breathing and movement disorders, insomnia, restless legs syndrome, as well as narcolepsy,” Dr. Jedlovszky explained of the services. “Over the years, the sleep center has also provided services in Morrisville and St. Johnsbury. In 2010 a 2-bed sleep clinic was started at NVRH and since then has been outgrowing its space time and again.”

The Newport clinic at North Country Hospital will remain, and this new center opened officially on May 30 now adds capacity in the St. Johnsbury region.

Efforts are also underway to recruit an additional pulmonologist to work mostly at the St. Johnsbury site.

Leaders from the two organizations agreed that this type of collaboration is important to sustain specialized health care services in Northern Vermont because of cost and geography.

NorthWoods Stewardship 30th Anniversary Open House on June 8

in Charleston/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

EAST CHARLESTON — The NorthWoods Stewardship Center in East Charleston is celebrating three decades of environmental stewardship in the northeast with a 30th Anniversary Open House on June 8, 2019, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The event is open to the public and includes a free dinner, music by celebrated Celtic ensemble The Wind that Shakes the Barley, a video release, a silent auction featuring items from local businesses and artisans, and keynotes by local community leaders.

Join the staff and community as they look back on three decades of work, from the organization’s founding by Bill & Pat Manning as the Vermont Leadership Center, through the growth of education, youth conservation and land management programs, and the expansion of the campus to 1,500 acres of protected trails and demonstration forest.

Today, the Center employs local youth in conservation efforts in all 6 New England states, serves children throughout the NEK through their after-school and camp programs, and partners with federal, state and local agencies to provide ongoing trail, forestry, and watershed conservation work on public and private lands throughout the region.

All are welcome to attend this free event, located at 154 Leadership Drive, in East Charleston.

Irasburg’s Leach Public Library to celebrate life and work of Howard Frank Mosher

IRASBURG — The Leach Public Library in Irasburg will hold the third annual celebration of beloved Vermont author Howard Frank Mosher during an event at the library.

The gathering will take place at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 2, the 76th anniversary of his birth.

Howard Frank Mosher made his home in Irasburg until his death in 2017.

Many of Mosher’s books feature the fictional town of “Kingdom Common,” loosely modeled on Irasburg, with elements of Orleans and Newport.

In 2016, Mosher donated his personal book collection to the Leach Public Library, where he served as a longtime member of the board of trustees.

“It has become a tradition for us to celebrate our friend and neighbor Howard Frank Mosher on his birthday,” said Leach Library trustee Judith Jackson.

Refreshments, featuring some of Howard Frank Mosher’s favorites, will be served.

“It’s an opportunity to recognize anew his unique insight into the life and people of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, his affection for them, and ours for him,” Jackson added.

Quiros and Stenger indicted on fraud charges related to Jay Peak EB-5 projects

in Jay Peak/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan was in Newport today to announce that four people were charged with conspiring in a multi-year wire fraud scheme to defraud immigrant investors seeking green cards through the EB-5 program, among other charges.

Ariel Quiros, 63, William Kelly, 70, both of Florida, along with Jong Weon Choi, 58, of South Korea and William Stenger, 70, of Newport, were indicted by the federal grand jury on criminal charges in connection with their management of the Jay Peak Biomedical Research Park EB-5 investment project, also called the AnC Vermont project.

In addition to the wire fraud conspiracy count, the defendants face other charges, including six separate counts of wire fraud and various counts of concealing material facts or presenting false statements in a matter within the jurisdiction of a federal agency, namely United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which oversaw the EB-5 process.

Quiros is also charged with two counts of money laundering.

The indictment alleges that the defendants misrepresented facts to the SEC, which investigated the Jay Peak EB-5 offerings while the defendants were seeking new AnC investors.

A civil action by the SEC ended the defendants’ control of the EB-5 projects.

“As alleged in this indictment, this scheme defrauded hopeful immigrant investors in what may be the largest financial crime in our state history,” Nolan stated.

The defendants face a maximum penalty on the most serious charges of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine or twice the gross gain or loss, and restitution to the victims.

The indictment also alleges forfeiture against the defendants.

“This case is about greed and deceit,” James N. Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said. “The defendants’ broken business promises have left not only a physical scar on the city of Newport, but also an intangible scar on the promise of economic development for the Northeast Kingdom and on the dreams of many hopeful immigrants.”

The indictment alleges a scheme conceived in 2011 and carried through until the defendants lost control of the project in April 2016.

The AnC project was the seventh EB-5 project managed by Quiros and Stenger, but the first involving a business outside a ski resort.

The defendants designed the project to raise $110 million from immigrant investors in order to build and operate a biotechnology company, AnC Vermont, on a property in Newport.

From 2012 to 2016, the defendants obtained over $80 million from over 160 immigrant investors in the AnC project.

Under the EB-5 program created by Congress, immigrant investors could obtain green cards by investing $500,000 each in a United States business that would create ten jobs per investment.

Pursuant to federal law, the AnC project was regulated and monitored by USCIS and the Vermont Regional Center, a part of state government.

According to the indictment, the defendants’ scheme involved both secret embezzlement of immigrant investor funds and deceit about the AnC project’s jobs and revenue.

The defendants designed the project so that Quiros and Choi, who were secret partners, could siphon millions of dollars in investor funds into their pockets.

As the defendants raised investor money, Quiros used the money for his own purposes instead of using it to build the project.

The defendants then concealed this misuse of funds.

The indictment also charges that the defendants created a fraudulent AnC business plan based on a “party line” conceived to misrepresent the number of jobs that would be created by the project and the business revenue that would be generated from the project.

Marketing the project to immigrant investors depended on job creation and future revenue, since the defendants emphasized their ability to satisfy the job creation standards under EB-5 law and repay immigrant investors.

The indictment charges that the defendants devised job and revenue projections based on the number of jobs needed to obtain project approval from USCIS without regard to a viable plan to actually create those jobs or achieve those revenues.

AnC Vermont would supposedly rent clean rooms, market stem cell therapies, and manufacture artificial organs.

The defendants made fraudulent statements in regard to all three facets of the future business, in particular with regard to how soon the project would generate jobs and revenue.

Rather than disclose that they were creating a start-up business that would need large capital reserves to operate in the early stages, the defendants falsely represented that they had a plan where AnC Vermont would successfully market its products as soon as construction was complete.

In addition to the wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy charges, the indictment charges Quiros with two money laundering counts relating to two transactions where he used AnC investor funds for personal expenses, specifically a $6 million payment to the IRS and the purchase of a vehicle.

Further, the indictment contains five concealment or false statement counts.

First, it alleges that the defendants concealed from the Vermont Regional Center how Quiros used approximately $21 million in investor funds to pay off a loan unrelated to the AnC Vermont project.

Next, the indictment alleges that Quiros, Kelly, and Choi concealed that Choi was being investigated in Korea for financial crimes, and falsely represented that AnC Korea, a company they claimed would supply the technologies that AnC Vermont would market, was not in financial distress.

Finally, the indictment charges Stenger with presenting false documents and statements to the Vermont Regional Center.

One of these counts focuses on a misrepresentation by Stenger that he had followed the Regional Center’s direction to stop marketing the AnC project in mid- 2014.

The other charges as false a written presentation Stenger made to the Regional Center in January 2015 as he was seeking permission to continue recruiting investors for the AnC project.

Quiros, Kelly, and Stenger surrendered to the custody of the United States Marshals Service this morning and appeared for arraignment on the charges in federal court later today.

Choi remains at large.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Weekend! returns to Island Pond starting Friday

ISLAND POND — The Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Weekend will take place in downtown Island Pond, this weekend, from May 24 – 27.

The weekend offers four days of non-stop events including a champagne reception, karaoke, spa services, Paint ‘n Sips and wine & cider tastings, Tai Chi & exercise classes, and a living history exhibit at the IPHS museum.

Nationally known comedian Bil Benden will kick-off the weekend on Friday night with his comedy show, Saturday night will feature the return of Men in Motion and Sunday night will feature the NEK’s first Drag Bingo tournament hosted by Emoji Nightmare & Nikki Champagne.

The weekend will wind up on Monday morning with their annual Memorial Day Parade.

The Island Pond Renewal Committee created the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Weekend in 2018 and it was a hit beyond all expectations.

People from as far away as Cape Cod flocked to Island Pond looking for the most fun ladies’ weekend in New England, and they found it.

Almost every event was sold out and all received rave reviews.

The committee has once again joined with all the downtown businesses to create an even bigger weekend full of events with something for everyone.

Friday starts with a champagne reception at the Essex House with champagne and hors d’oeuvres.

Members of the organizing team will be on hand to answer questions and make sure everybody is oriented to the locations of all the events.

Headlining Friday night’s entertainment will be comedian Bil Benden. He has worked with Drew Carey, Robert Schimmel, Tim Allen, and Ray Romano, in addition to many others.

He has also been featured on HBO, Comedy Central, A&E, and Fox.

He will bring his unique comedic style to the American Legion Brighton Post #80 stage and while this event is part of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!, it is open to everyone 21 years of age and older.

Friday night will end with karaoke at the Essex House featuring NEKaraoke.

Saturday starts off with a beginner Tai Chi class hosted by Brighton Recreation’s Director, Doug Niles.

Next, get the blood pumping with an invigorating cross training workout also instructed by Doug Niles.

The Hearth & Home Country Store will be hosting a wine tasting with 6 specially selected varieties.

Everyone’s favorite Paint ‘n Sip instructor Natalie Anne will be holding a Sap Bucket Paint ’n Sip at Hobo’s Cafe during the afternoon.

Jesse’s Little Kitchen will be offering their popular $2 off a large pizza special all weekend so the father’s left at home with the kids don’t need to cook.

Then it’s time for a little pampering at the Essex House & Tavern. Enjoy a chair massage from one of their licensed providers. Try out a set of Color Street nails as part of your manicure or a Henna by Kate tattoo. They will even be serving a light elegant snack provided by the Essex House.

Saturday night will be headlined by New England’s #1 male revue show, Men In Motion. Each of their shows are expertly designed, choreographed and created events with one goal in mind–the perfect girls’ night out.

The Essex House will be hosting a Wings, Brews & Tunes event so all the men won’t feel left out!

Sunday will start with a Morning After breakfast at Hobo’s Café followed by a Living History Exhibit at the Island Pond Historical Society Museum.

The Hearth & Home Country Store will be hosting a cider tasting featuring 6 specially selected varieties.

Natalie Anne will be back at the American Legion for a Barn Board Paint ‘n Sip.

Sunday will end with a bingo tournament like no other in the NEK. Emoji Nightmare & Nikki Champagne will be traveling from Burlington to host Drag Bingo at the American Legion.

This event will be a little bit campy and a whole lot of fun. In addition to laughs, cash prizes will be paid out to all winners.

Monday morning will feature the annual Memorial Day Parade in beautiful downtown Island Pond organized by the American Legion Brighton Post #80.

This event will honor those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Tickets may be purchased at http://Tickets.VisitIslandPond.com or in person at The Hearth & Home Country Store in downtown Island Pond.

Community National Bank receives Worksite Wellness Award

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Members of Community National Bank’s (CNB) Wellness Committee recently attended the Worksite Wellness Conference in Burlington to accept a Governor’s Excellence in Worksite Wellness Award.

Each year the Vermont Department of Health and the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports honor Vermont businesses for their efforts to promote health and wellness in the workplace.

CNB’s Wellness Committee, initiated in 2017, offers engaging activities that encourage physical fitness, healthy eating habits and emotional health for the bank’s employees.

The response rate to the Wellness Committee’s efforts shows that CNB employees have welcomed the opportunities to learn about health-related topics and to participate in activities that promote fitness and well-being.

The bank says they are honored to have received the Gold Level award for the Governor’s Excellence in Worksite Wellness.

Community National Bank is an independent bank that has been serving Vermont communities since 1851.

They have offices located in Derby, Barre, Barton, Derby Line, Enosburg Falls, Island Pond, Lyndonville, Montpelier, Morrisville, Newport, St. Johnsbury and Troy.

NEK native to lead private journaling workshop in Newport

NEWPORT — This week Sunshine Silver Lining Vision Consulting, a media, management, and networking consulting company based out of Newport, announced their premiere workshop series “Tea and Tales.”

This series of writing and reading workshops will highlight both Vermont writers and authors as well as a variety of writing styles from journalling to memoir, along with poetry and screenwriting.

This spring, Tea and Tales will kick off with several workshops at The Work Commons in Newport, facilitated by Northeast Kingdom Native Ilene Elliott.

Private journaling is powerful and worthwhile. The added dynamic and energy of writing in a group can provide validation, encouragement, support, and new insight.

Participants of Elliott’s workshops and retreats will be introduced to handwritten journaling strategies and techniques that can be incorporated into their daily lives.

There will be several workshops:

Saturday, April 13, 2019, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 11, 2019, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 8, 2019, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

All workshops will be held at The Work Commons in Newport.

Sessions include facilitation and refreshments. Organizers of the workshops say you only need to bring a journal and an open mind.

A life-long Vermonter, Ilene was born, raised, and lived most of her life in the Northeast Kingdom. In 2016 she relocated to central Vermont.

For almost 30 years she has nurtured her own journaling practice while facilitating journaling workshops and retreats for others.

Elliott describes journaling as a tool for self-awareness and self-discovery, a way to grow in relationship with self and stir the pot of creativity.

Pricing for Tea and Tales is a sliding scale from $15 to $30 a session and can be paid by cash, check or in person with a credit or debit card.

Participants are asked to pre-register by contacting sunny@sunshinesilverlining.com or calling or texting 917-945-6250 as space is limited.

Spring steelhead run up Willoughby Falls guided walk April 27

in Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors/Westmore

WESTMORE — Fisheries biologist Pete Emerson will be available for a guided walk at the Willoughby Falls on April 27.

The goal of the walk will be to observe the steelhead spawning migration and to answer questions from the public about the fish, the river, and the state-owned lands that border the river much of the way to Lake Memphremagog.

The walk will take place at 10:00 a.m. at the Willoughby Falls Wildlife Management Area, in Orleans.

Steelhead are a strain of rainbow trout that migrate from their natal rivers as juvenile fish when they are around six inches long.

They leave the relative safety of the river, moving downstream towards the ocean where abundant food helps them grow considerably larger than their stream-dwelling cousins.

The Orleans steelhead are content to stop their migration at Lake Memphremagog where they feed for a year before returning as adults to spawn.

Steelhead can return to spawn many years, drawing anglers who prize their strength and size. They can get as large as 24 inches and up to 6 or 7 pounds.

There is no need to sign up for this guided walk, just show up.

Jay Focus Group offering summer camp scholarship opportunities, and more

in Jay/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — The Jay Focus Group recently announced scholarship opportunities for 2019.

The group’s “Community Service Scholarship” provides funding up to $500 to high school seniors from Orleans County to assist with educational costs of continuing their education.

The scholarship requires previous community service involvement, and the deadline for applying is April 19.

The winner will be announced on May 3.

In addition, the group’s 6th Annual “Summer Camp Program” sends students from Orleans County to a summer camp for a week. The program aims to help create a memory that will last a lifetime.

Applications and a brief description from each student must be submitted to the Jay Focus Group Summer Camp Program no later than April 25.

A decision on Summer Camp Program awardees will be made by May 1.

This program is open to kindergarten through Grade 12 as of July 1, 2019.

Summer Camp choices include Raised Jay Peak Summer Day Camp, Hazen’s Notch Summer Camp in Montgomery, Green Mountain Conservation Camp at Buck Lake, in Woodbury, Siskin Ecological Adventures/Coutts – Moriarty Summer Camp at Lake Salem, in Derby, and Circus Smirkus 2019 Summer Camps.

The members of the Jay Focus Group realize the cost of transportation for camp may be a burden to some families and they have voted to reimburse the cost of gas to those families providing an itemized expense form with original receipts.

For applications, click here.

Learn how to cook a bear at the University of Irasburg

in Irasburg/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

IRASBURG — The University of Irasburg is officially open, taught by the community and for the community, with classes getting underway in April.

And don’t worry, you won’t need to fill out a FAFSA form to attend, because all courses are free.

Anyone can teach a course at the University of Irasburg, and anyone can take a course.

So far, there are 15 courses scheduled in 2019.

Courses range from “Kitchen Table Science,” taught by Phillis Mosher, to “How to Cook a Bear,” taught by Randy Royer, a master meat cutter.

For a full list of courses being offered, visit: https://bit.ly/2U7GTbz

Classes will be taught at The Barn, located at 4752 on Route 14, or at the Irasburg Library.

The University of Irasburg promises to be a place to meet new friends, learn new things, and discover all that the community has to offer.

For more information contact Judith Jackson at: judithjackson@gmail.com

Women LEAD initiative launching in Newport at March 25 event

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — A new initiative led by Michelle Tarryk and Barbara Morrow, along with over two dozen women leaders and business owners across the Northeast Kingdom, say they’ve come together to foster leadership in girls and women in the NEK.

The project is called Women LEAD, and the group will launch with a fundraiser at The Eastside Restaurant on Monday, March 25, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Women LEAD is in alignment with recommendations from the recent NEK Collaborative Leadership Development Task Force Action Plan.

Recommendations include creating a NEK Leadership Institute as well as a project focusing on engaging NEK Women in Leadership Learning.

“This project has been an absolute thrill,” Tarryk said. “I am in awe of the women who participated in the calendar and I am also very excited about the leadership opportunities that we will be able to bring to young girls throughout the kingdom.”

The group is inviting those interested to come out for complimentary appetizers, a cash bar, and to hear from several collaborators.

Presenters at the event include Michelle Tarryk of Northeast Kingdom Learning Services, Katherine Sims of the NEK Collaborative, Alice Kitchel, State President of Business and Professional Women’s Club, Sunny Noelle Naughton of the Northeast Kingdom Young Professionals Network, and Vermont Photographer Mary Claire Carroll.

Deadlines near to remove ice fishing shanties

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — While locals wait for the ice to go out by watching the vanilla extract mascot placed on Lake Memphremagog​ to sink, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is reminding ice fishing enthusiasts not to play the same game with their shanties.

Vermont state law requires that all ice fishing shanties be removed from the ice before the ice weakens.

The shanty must be removed before the ice becomes unsafe or loses its ability to support the shanty out of the water, or before the last Sunday in March, whichever comes first.

That date this year will be on March 31.

All contents, debris, wood, and supports must also be removed so they do not become a hazard to navigation in the spring.

The fine for leaving your ice fishing shanty on the ice can be $1,000, and shanties may not be left at state fishing access areas.

Select Jay Peak EB-5 documents to be released following settlement

in Jay/Jay Peak/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Today the State of Vermont and VTDigger announced a settlement in the matter regarding two public records requests by the news organization related to Jay Peak’s EB-5 program.

Under terms of the settlement, the State of Vermont agreed to provide VTDigger the originally requested documents as well as additional agreed-upon Jay Peak records.

“VTDigger remains committed to making sure that the story of Jay Peak is told in its entirety,” Anne Galloway, founder and editor of VTDigger, said.

Galloway says the records released on Friday are long overdue to the public.

VTDigger began covering allegations of fraud at the ski area back in 2014, and has been seeking documents on the public’s behalf since that time.

Due to ongoing litigation, only a few hundred records have been released, with disclosure pending on 1.5 million pages of documents between Shumlin administration officials and Jay Peak developers.

VTDigger’s legal team filed a complaint in January seeking official communications between the Agency of Commerce and Community Development and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service regarding the projects at Jay Peak Resort.

Requests for the records from VTDigger have been repeatedly denied over the past three years.

“It is refreshing to see the State and its citizens cooperate in the release of public documents,” Tim Cornell, VTDigger’s attorney, said. “This brings us a step closer to finding out how the Jay Peak scandal happened.”

In 2014, the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation began an investigation into the fraud at Jay Peak, which ultimately led to federal and state action.

In April 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the State of Vermont charged the developers of Jay Peak Resort with 52 counts of fraud and the misuse of $200 million in foreign investor funds.

The developers’ “Ponzi-like” scheme was perpetrated over an eight-year period from 2008-2016, during which the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development administered the EB-5 program.

Eight NEK farmers write nutrient management plans

in News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Over six weeks this winter, eight NEK dairy producers who enrolled in the UVM Extension course, “Digging In – A Nutrient Management Course for Farmers,” wrote their own nutrient management plans (NMPs).

Farmers in the class, held at Sterling College in Craftsbury, received technical assistance from the Orleans, Caledonia, Essex, and Winooski Conservation Districts through a USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) grant.

Through the RCPP program, farmers are offered technical assistance in preparing a Land Treatment Plan (the foundation of an NMP), taking soil and manure samples, and one-on-one help throughout the UVM course.

A nutrient management plan is a working document that combines scientific data with the farmer’s knowledge of their land to create a plan that determines crop needs and allocates nutrient spreading by field.

The goals of a nutrient management plan are to improve soil health, maximize yields, improve efficiency, and minimize the impact on natural resources.

The UVM Extension course includes lectures on soil science, crop yields, water quality and meeting the RAPs.

The course also incorporates time for farmers to write their own NMP using the UVM-developed online goCrop™ software.

Because a nutrient management plan is a working, living document, it should be updated yearly.

To this end, the Orleans County Conservation District, in collaboration with UVM Extension, will be holding a free, one-day goGraze™ training and update class open to all NEK producers with a UVM goCrop™ account.

This class will take place on Wednesday, March 20, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Eastside Restaurant in Newport.

Lunch will be provided, and the class will introduce participants to a relatively new addition to the goCrop™ software, goGraze™.

The new software allows producers to create a grazing plan and keep detailed records throughout the grazing season.

The format for the class will be instruction in the morning, lunch, and time in the afternoon for participants to work on updating their nutrient management plans or apply the skills they learned in the morning.

Pre-registration is required. Contact Emily Irwin to sign up or with questions at 802-334-6090 ext. 7008 or emily.irwin@vt.nacdnet.net.

NEK Young Professionals making inroads in region

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT – The Northeast Kingdom Young Professionals Network has launched a number of new initiatives and hosted a number of successful events this past year, significantly increasing the numbers of its organization region-wide.

The board reflects the geographic diversity of the region, with Maire Folan, the program manager of the Green Mountain Farm-to-School office in Newport, serving as committee chair.

Patrick Sodums, the YPN vice chair, brings a hospitality background to the group, as he works as the conference and corporate sales manager of the Burke Mountain Hotel & Conference Center in East Burke.

Rounding out the board is Sarah Chadburn, the group’s treasurer, who serves as a credit analyst at Community National Bank in Newport.

“The vision of the NEK YPN is to be a network for young professionals living and working in and around Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom,” Folan states. “We hope to provide valuable leadership, relationship, and education opportunities through collaboration with community partners.”

The group has held successful social events, or mixers, to bring people together.

It hopes to soon roll out some new programs that will welcome new folks to the area and provide more leadership opportunities.

The Northeast Kingdom Young Professionals Network was re-energized two years ago by Geoffrey Sewake after having been established by then-Northeast Kingdom Chamber President Hannah Manley in 2011.

The main purpose of the group is to serve the needs of young professionals, employees, leaders, and entrepreneurs of the tri-county region, who are hoping to find networking and social opportunities with others in their area.

“We recognize the word ‘young’ to be dynamic, not static, and ‘professional’ to be inclusive, not exclusive,” Folan noted. “We welcome all to this group.”

In the past two years, the NEK YPN has sponsored a number of events in the Northeast Kingdom and partnered with similar groups in northern New Hampshire in an attempt to reach out to more young professionals throughout the North Country.

Such meetings have not only allowed more professionals to network with each other but also helped the committee determine what the needs of young professionals are in the Kingdom.

“An important priority of the NEK YPN is to reach every corner of the Kingdom and help and assist young professionals, as they are not only the leaders of tomorrow, but, in many cases, today’s leaders as well,” said Darcie McCann, executive director of the Northeast Kingdom Chamber. “We as a chamber, as well as other chambers throughout the Kingdom, are striving to work as closely with the group as possible to ensure we give them the support and skills they need to succeed.”

Agricultural and natural resource meeting March 15 in Newport

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Orleans County Conservation District, in cooperation with Natural Resources Conservation Service, is hosting a meeting to receive input from the public and our partners regarding natural resource priorities in the area.

NRCS administers several programs funded through the Federal Farm Bill.

These programs are designed to assist farmers, forest owners, and other landowners implement projects that benefit soil health, water quality, wildlife habitat, and other natural resource concerns.

The meeting will be held on Friday, March 15, from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the USDA Service Center Conference Room at 59 Waterfront Plaza in Newport.

The public is welcome and strongly encouraged to attend this meeting.

Organizers ask that anyone interested RSVP by March 8.

To RSVP, or for further information, contact the Orleans Conservation District at 802-334-6090 x 7008.

Winter Swim Festival this weekend in Newport

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

NEWPORT — This weekend, 85 winter swimmers supported by 35 volunteers, will be competing in a two-lane, 25-meter pool cut in the ice on Lake Memphremagog.

Swimmers are traveling from all over the United States for the event, as well as internationally from South Africa, Scotland, Spain, and Quebec.

They will be swimming 25-meter, 50-meter, 100-meter, and 200-meter events, starting with a fiercely competitive 25-meter “Hat Competition,” starting at 9:30 a.m.

Newport offers the only 25-meter, two-lane winter swim pool cut in the ice, in all of North America.

The pool is cut by Michael Booth and Josh McCoy.

Four youth will be competing, including Margaret Rivard, of Springfield, NH, age 11, her older sister Vera Rivard, age 15, Esme Kimber, age 12, of East Corinth, and Denis Graham, age 17, of Verona, WI.

On the other end of the spectrum are two septuagenarians, Ginny Peck, 73, of North Campton, NH, and Kathleen McDonnell, 71, of Toronto, ON.

There are 10 others in their 60s taking part in the swim.

Approximately 35 volunteers will be supporting the weekend event, some traveling from Maryland, Quebec City, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Magog.

Cutting of the pool will begin on Wednesday.

A ribbon cutting and opening ceremony with potato gun salute will take place at 3:00 p.m. on Friday.

The first swim starts at 9:30 a.m.

Spectators are welcome to come out and watch these remarkable swimmers.

The Winter Swim Festival is organized by Kingdom Games which holds over 20 days of highly acclaimed running, biking, and swimming events in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

Orleans County Conservation District staff attend Industrial Hemp Conference

in News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Last week, district manager Sarah Damsell and Land Treatment and Nutrient Management Specialist Emily Irwin attended the University of Vermont’s first Industrial Hemp Conference.

The 2018 Farm Bill defined hemp as an agricultural commodity and removed it from the list of controlled substances.

Each state will eventually be required to submit a plan to monitor and regulate the production of hemp.

Hemp and marijuana are different varieties of the same species, Cannabis sativa L.

To be considered hemp, the crop must contain less than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.

Hemp can be grown for CBD oil, a cannabinol found in hemp and typically used in health supplements, fiber, or seed.

CBD has several purported health benefits, including relief from inflammation, pain, and seizures.

Many agricultural producers in Orleans County see industrial hemp as a new market opportunity.

The conference was geared towards growers, and sessions focused on topics such as breeding and selection of CBD hemp, pest management, and fertility management.

To grow hemp for high-value CBD production, the hemp plant must be managed as a specialty crop, and given the nutrients and attention it needs to thrive.

Conference sessions also covered other emerging markets for hemp products, including fiber and grain.

There were several representatives present at the conference from state and federal agencies.

Growers wishing to cultivate or process hemp must register with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets, and provide appropriate maps, GPS locations, and applicable fees.

More information on the registration process, as well as instructions for how to register online, can be found at http://www.agriculture.vermont.gov/public-health-agricultural-resource-management-division/hemp-program.

There are also federal cost-share programs available to farmers through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), including funding available through NRCS for building seasonal high tunnels.

In terms of risk coverage for hemp, the Farm Services Agency (FSA) does not yet have the guidance or authority to apply current FSA programs to hemp.

However, interested growers should stay in touch their local FSA and NRCS representatives, as guidance is still changing.

Vermont Organic Farmers, the certifying arm of the Northeast Organic Farmers Association in Vermont, can certify industrial hemp that is used exclusively for industrial purposes, including fiber and seed.

Hemp oil, consisting of stalk, leaf, seed, or hemp meal intended for human or livestock consumption, cannot be certified organic.

The Orleans County Natural Resources Conservation District will be holding an informational workshop in the next few months that will cover the ins and outs of growing industrial hemp.

Taste of the Kingdom event February 27

in Jay Peak/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — The 11th Annual Taste of the Kingdom, a fundraising event held by Green Mountain Farm-to-School (GMFTS), will take place at 6:00 p.m. on February 27, at Jay Peak Resort’s Foeger Ballroom.



Guests will enjoy small plates and sample beverages from over 20 Northeast Kingdom food and drink producers.

This year’s Farm & Food Partners include the Highland Lodge, Barn First Creamery, Goob’s Brews & BBQ, Sterling College’s kitchen and many more.

The evening will also include live music, a silent auction featuring NEK-area businesses, and a raffle for a 2-night stay for 4 people at Jay Peak Resort. 



“This event is an annual celebration of our local food economy,” said Sophie Westover, communications and development coordinator at GMFTS. “It’s a chance to interact with some of our region’s best farmers, chefs, distillers, and brewers, all while supporting GMFTS and our work to connect farms, schools, and communities.”


All proceeds from the event will go to benefit GMFTS and its programming.

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