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2018’s guest judges, Jonathan Goldsmith, and 2017 Best Beard in Vermont and Wish Dad, Bryan Sturge.

Contest underway to find the best beard in Vermont

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Vermont

NEWPORT — A truly Vermont-style fundraiser is back with the Third Annual Vermont Beardies, the contest to find the best beard in Vermont.

Bearded Vermonters are invited to enter their magnificent scruff and encourage their friends to support Make-A-Wish Vermont through social media appeals.

Contestants will compete online in three categories, Urban, Freestyle, and Backwoods.

The contest will culminate with an exciting evening to name the winner featuring celebrity judges and fun contests.

In order to participate, bearded contestants must pre-register now at www.vermontbeardies.com.

The top beards and fundraisers from the online portion of the contest will be invited to participate in a series of in-person contests to judge the majesty of their beards on March 16th at ArtsRiot in Burlington.

Fresh off his Super Bowl ad, the judging panel will include Jonathan Goldsmith, best known as Dos Equis’ original Most Interesting Man In The World.

While promising to be a night of awesome beards, crazy contests, and tons of laughs, the Vermont Beardies is being held to raise much-needed funding for Make-A-Wish Vermont.

The goal of the event is to fund wishes for three children in Vermont facing critical illnesses.

Visit www.vermontbeardies.com to enter your beard and invite your friends to support your rise to the top of the 2019 Vermont Beardies.

Hiring begins for NEK conservation crews

in News/Northeast Kingdom

EAST CHARLESTON — The NorthWoods Stewardship Center has begun hiring local conservation crew leaders and members for the 2019 field season.

The NorthWoods Stewardship Center, now in its 30th year of operation, runs youth conservation crews in partnership with US Fish & Wildlife refuges in six states, and hires 2-3 crews locally, working on trail and watershed improvement projects on public and private lands throughout the Northeast Kingdom.

Vermont crews will be based at the Silvio O. Conte Fish & Wildlife Refuge, Nulhegan Basin Division in Brunswick and at the NorthWoods Stewardship Center home campus in East Charleston.

Projects vary by season and refuge but can include the building or improvement of public access trails, habitat improvement, and wildlife monitoring.

Last year, crews at the Nulhegan USFWS Refuge installed 11 bog bridges on the Mooseway Trail and constructed 2.5 miles of new trail from the Lewis Pond Overlook to the summit of Gore Mountain.

Local NorthWoods crews completed a Universal Access Trail at Moose Bog and Sentinel Rock and cut over 6 miles of new trail over the Bluff Ridge.

Crew leaders and members aged 15 through 20-years-old are hired to work 40 hours per week for 6-8 weeks from June through August.

“This is a great opportunity for local youth interested in environmental conservation to be paid to gain training and hands-on experience in the field,” said NorthWoods Conservation Corps Field Coordinator, Dusty May.

“Even for those who don’t plan on pursuing a career in conservation, the YCC and NorthWoods crews provide valuable skills in learning to persevere, work hard, and tackle projects as a team.”

Many of the alumni consider their work on the crews to be some of the most rewarding and influential work experiences of their teenage years.

Hiring for local crews opened in January and continues through April.

Interested applicants should visit northwoodscenter.org to learn more and apply, or contact corps@northwoodscenter.org, or 802-723-6551×304.

Photo caption: 2018 Backcountry Crew member Tony Barnett clearing trail on the Bluff Ridge.

NVRH, NCH expand joint sleep medicine venture with new facility

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/St. Johnsbury

ST. JOHNSBURY — Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH) in St. Johnsbury and North Country Hospital (NCH) in Newport have collaborated to enhance sleep medicine services in Vermont with the opening of an expanded Northern Vermont Center for Sleep Disorders location

The center will open February 4.

The new clinic, which offers the latest in comprehensive diagnostics and treatment of sleep-related conditions, is conveniently located off I-91 (Exit 22) at 468 Hospital Drive, St. Johnsbury.

The joint venture between NVRH and NCH currently has two locations – one in Newport, at North Country Hospital, which will remain open, and one on the NVRH campus, which will transition to the new clinic location in St. Johnsbury.

“Through this partnership, the two hospitals are demonstrating a commitment to addressing the growing need for sleep medicine services in the Northeast Kingdom and beyond by investing in this new and expanded second location,” NVRH CEO Shawn Tester said.

The new clinic features four sleep rooms and four treatment rooms.

Each sleep room is equipped with a bed, television, adjustable lighting, individual climate control, and other features.

It is staffed and managed by Medical Director Veronika Jedlovszky MD, Weili Gray, MD, and Danielle Speer, ANP, as well as technicians to conduct the night time studies.

“The new clinic will provide more comprehensive and timely care for both consults and sleep studies for patients throughout the region,” Jedlovszky said.

Nearly 100 million Americans report problems with sleep disorders, which can affect an individual’s ability to function throughout the day and lead to other health problems such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

“Having seen the growth of the sleep center partnership over the last six years, it really was imperative that we make this expansion to meet the demand,” added North Country’s COO and the sleep clinic’s project lead, Tom Frank. “Our top-notch physicians, nurse practitioner and sleep technicians will complement both centers with sleep medicine and pulmonary care services, second to none.”

The center evaluates for and treats the full spectrum of sleep disorders in adults and children, including obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, nocturnal hypoventilation, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder, narcolepsy, other hypersomnia conditions, REM behavioral disorder, and other parasomnias.

Services include sleep consultation for adult and pediatric patients, sleep consultation for CDL exam, positive airway pressure therapy, CPAP, BIPAP, ASV, and other modes, oral appliance therapy, sleep hygiene education, cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia and medication management of various sleep disorders.

Tests available through the center include adult and pediatric diagnostic polysomnogram, adult and pediatric titration polysomnogram, multiple sleep latency test (MSLT), and home sleep study.

Sleep studies are available both weeknights and weekends.

Patients are encouraged to talk with their primary care provider about a referral to the sleep clinic and may also call 802-748-7901 with questions.

For more information visit www.northcountryhospital.org or www.nvrh.org.

An official ribbon-cutting and community open house will take place in late spring 2019.

Northeast Kingdom Collaborative task forces release action plans

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — More than two-dozen leaders and experts from across Caledonia, Essex and Orleans counties are sharing their recommendations for progress in the region, after six months of discussion and deliberation.

Two task forces convened by the nonprofit Northeast Kingdom Collaborative have each released a plan detailing projects that they believe can be started in 2019 and will have a measurable impact in areas crucial to the future of the Northeast Kingdom.

These areas include developing a generation of local leaders and supporting economic growth at the intersection of the creative, recreational and food sectors.

“We brought together a diverse set of people who really know these topics to dig in and develop their best ideas,” said Katherine Sims, Director of the Northeast Kingdom Collaborative. “We’re very excited about the creativity and specificity of the vision that came out of both of the groups.”

The release of these two plans represents a new phase for the revamped Northeast Kingdom Collaborative.

The organization has been working to increase coordination and communication among NEK businesses and nonprofits for more than 20 years.

During that time, it has assisted the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Rural Economic Advancement Program (REAP) in identifying priorities for investment in the region.

In 2018, it launched a new strategy involving a reformatted governing board, a new paid director, as well as closer ties with private funders and the task force process.

“With these recommendations in hand, the next stage for the new year will be working with Task Force members and other organizations to bring that vision to life,” Sims said. “These plans are a blueprint for our work together over the next year and beyond.”

The Leadership Development Task Force put its weight behind six initiatives in its plan, “Grow Your Own,” after seeking public input through three Leadership Summits last summer.

One is to empower emerging local leaders by launching an intensive NEK leadership institute and a more informal women’s leadership learning circle.

Another is to offer more affordable and accessible professional development opportunities through a new series of classes, as well as a new NEK Training Scholarship Fund.

Other initiatives are to connect current and emerging leaders via a new mentor network and integrate new community members through a new outreach program.

Among the organizations taking the lead in pursuing these projects are Northwoods Stewardship Center, NEK Young Professionals Network, Northern Vermont University, and the Northeastern Vermont Development Association.

This tri-sector task force focused on how to advance economic development at the intersection of the region’s three most dynamic sectors, which includes the creative, recreation, and food sectors.

In a report, the collaborative prioritizes five initiatives.

One is to coordinate and expand marketing the region by establishing an NEK Regional Marketing Partnership Advisory Group with several specific priorities.

Another is to sustain and grow place-based events by formalizing an “NEK Event Backbone” program run by a regional event assistance provider.

Other initiatives put forward are to enhance economic growth through rural community hubs with new investments in infrastructure that would connect outdoor recreation assets to the creative and food sectors, as well as to expand access to tri-sector experiences for kids, by starting an NEK Kids Program Fund.

Organizations leading these projects include Catamount Arts, Northern Forest Center and the Northern Community Investment Corporation.

Both task forces focused in on the importance of increasing connectivity in the region by expanding access to business-class high-speed broadband in community hubs and true high-speed broadband to residences.

Both recommended working with stakeholders to develop another detailed action plan for specific work in this area.

Greater details on the proposed programs, the Task Force process and the NEK Collaborative are available in the reports.

“We want these reports read by everyone who cares about making this region flourish over the long term,” Sims said. “We’re going to need everyone pitching in to help.”

Helicopters used to collar moose in the NEK

in Essex County/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

NEWPORT — Residents may have seen a helicopter flying low overhead as the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department began collaring 30 moose for the third year of a three-year study.

The radio-collaring is being carried out primarily within Essex County by a professional contractor.

Capture efforts require flying just above tree height and are expected to take between 5 and 10 days.

“Many local residents may have noticed these helicopters capturing moose in January of 2017 and 2018, but we felt all Essex County residents and landowners should once again be made aware of this activity,” said Cedric Alexander, Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s lead moose biologist.

Wildlife experts will be using nets to capture moose from the helicopter and handling it without the use of tranquilizers.

The processing of a captured moose is completed in minutes and is done using well-established wildlife handling techniques that minimize stress and harm to the animal.

Ninety-six moose have already been captured using these methods thus far in the study.

Department staff having been tracking collared moose for the past two years using the GPS points gathered by the collars and have been visiting moose directly in the field to record observations.

Vermont is the fourth northeastern state to partake in such a study – state fish and wildlife agencies in New Hampshire, Maine, and New York are currently using the same methods to examine their moose herds.

The study will be completed at the end of this year.

“Moose in the Northeast are facing a variety of threats ranging from a warming climate to increasing winter tick loads, and we appreciate the public’s support as we study how these factors are impacting Vermont’s moose population,” Alexander said.

Wild & Woolly Competitive Snowshoe Races February 9 in East Charleston

in Charleston/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

EAST CHARLESTON — The NorthWoods Stewardship Center will be hosting the Wild & Woolly Snowshoe Races at their campus in East Charleston on February 9.

The event kicks off from 9:30 a.m. and will go until 2:00 p.m.

During last autumn’s Westmore Mountain Challenge, organizers say participants requested a similarly spirited competition for the winter months.

NorthWoods trails in February offer a true winter wonderland experience, and the Wild & Woolly is an invitation for the community to come out and explore.

“We developed this event to celebrate some of our favorite things,” said NorthWoods Education & Outreach Director, Maria Young. “The beautiful hills and trails where we work and play, individual challenge, team support, and good cheer.”

IronWood Adventure Works, which hosted the “24-Hours In the NEK” long distance run on NorthWoods trails last autumn, will be coordinating race set up and timing.

The course will consist of a 5k, 10k, or 15k loop, traversing both groomed and snowshoe-packed trails through the varied terrain of NorthWoods’ forested campus in East Charleston, with a shorter 2.5k loop for beginners.

According to Young, the event is geared not just toward athletes but to their families as well.

“This is a great event for both competitors and families looking for a fun day out this winter,” she said. “In addition to the timed snowshoe races, there will be outdoor activities such as ice skating, canoe-sledding, s’mores, and of course the original Wild & Woolly, a costumed fun race around the pond in our old traditional wooden snowshoes.”

A hearty lunch of chili and cornbread is included for all attendees and entry is free for children age 12 and under.

The event coincides with the Island Pond Winter Carnival weekend, providing a great opportunity for families to spend a day or weekend enjoying winter festivities in the Northeast Kingdom.

New video series highlights two Northeast Kingdom farmers

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Waterfront Cinema will be showing two videos from the Faces of Vermont Agriculture series, which is a collection of eight short video profiles that highlight outstanding stewards of the land who live and farm in the Green Mountain State.

These dedicated farmers tell viewers in their own words, why conservation matters to their bottom line, to the health and sustainability of the resources on and around their farm, and to the future of farming.

Two local farmers, Merle Young III, and Paul Lisai, are highlighted in the series and their video profiles will be featured as opening trailers to every movie at Waterfront Cinema in Newport for the next three months.

Merle Young III, is a fifth-generation farmer who understands and believes in the importance of maintaining good soil health.

He and his family have been working for many years to improve the farm’s soil health by seeding cover crops in the fall on their silage corn fields, following crop rotations, expanding their vegetative buffers and understanding the farms nutrient management plan, all of which reduce soil loss and protect water quality.

The Young farm also has the only NRCS funded strip cropped fields in Orleans County.

Strip cropping is the practice of growing planned rotations of row crops, forages, small grains, or fallow in a systematic arrangement of equal width strips across a field to reduce soil erosion from water and transport of sediment.

Paul Lisai, former Orleans County NRCD board member, is doing a great deal of work to protect and improve his farm’s natural resources, including installing pasture infrastructure and implementing an intensive grazing system to improve the farms forages, soil health, milk production, and climate resiliency.

“The short but powerful messages in the videos help the public better understand the efforts that many of our cherished NEK farmers are making to ensure that their impact on natural resources is beneficial.” Sarah Damsell, the Orleans County NRCD Manager said.

You can view the videos below:

NEK Chamber seeking input on issues to be discussed at first legislative breakfast

in News/Northeast Kingdom/St. Johnsbury

ST. JOHNSBURY — There will be a notable change at the Northeast Kingdom Chamber Legislative Breakfast to be held Monday, Jan. 28, at 8 a.m., at the St. Johnsbury House, 1207 Main St., St. Johnsbury.

Unlike in years past, when local legislators gave committee reports during their allotted time, there will be far more discussion on the issues that directly affect the businesses and residents of the Northeast Kingdom.

“In the past year, the NEK Chamber received quite a bit of feedback from people who want the sessions to be more Kingdom-centric, so we will be soliciting issues and concerns prior to each monthly breakfast for the chamber to either research or the local legislative contingent to address,” said Darcie McCann, chamber executive director.

McCann noted the chamber has worked very hard to carve out more time for breakfast guests to ask questions of the legislators in past years and this latest change is the logical next step in making these sessions as responsive and relevant as possible.

“The chamber bears a responsibility to cover as many of the necessary and critical issues affecting the region as we can and we will work closely with the legislators to ensure they are well prepared to answer any concerns,” she said.

Topics that might be discussed include health care, labor issues, the carbon tax, permitting concerns, economic development issues, taxes and, fiscal policies, all issues that affect the Northeast Kingdom.

Individuals wishing to express any comments or region-wide issues may contact McCann at 802-748-3678 or director@nekchamber.com.

These monthly programs provide area business people and residents an overview of the session and legislative issues affecting the region.

The Northeast Kingdom Chamber organizes the monthly forums and provides a brief legislative report each month.

Following legislator updates, there is always time allotted at the end of each breakfast for questions from the public.

The breakfasts are held the last Monday of each month from January to May, from 8 to 9 a.m.

There is a small fee to attend the breakfast.

Teacher at Lyndon Institute accused of inappropriate relationship with student

in Lyndonville/News/Northeast Kingdom

LYNDON — A teacher at Lyndon Institute who is accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student is facing charges, police say.

Anitra Lahiri, 44, of Bethlehem, New Hampshire, was arrested Tuesday and charged with sexual exploitation of a minor and disseminating indecent material to a minor.

According to a statement issued by police, the Department of Children and Families began an investigation with State police into the matter back in November of 2018.

They allege she had an inappropriate relationship with a minor who was a student at the school.

Detectives said the relationship happened during the end of the last school year.

Lahiri is scheduled to appear in Caledonia Superior Court on Jan. 28 for arraignment.

Local teen swimmer selected one of Vermont Sports Magazine’s Athletes of the Year

in Derby/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

DERBY – Fourteen-year-old Vera Rivard has been selected as one of Vermont Sports Magazine’s 2018 Athletes of the Year.

Vera and her family live in Springfield, NH and have a summer camp in Derby with access to Lake Memphremagog, where she trains.

During the winter she swims with Upper Valley Aquatic Club.

In July of 2018, Vera became the youngest swimmer, male or female, to swim the 25-mile length of Lake Memphremagog, which she did in 16 hours and 24 minutes.

Just as impressive, she did so against fierce headwinds during the first 15 miles, which knocked five other experienced swimmers out of the water, leaving her among only two who finished in Magog.

In August of 2018, she also completed the NEK Swim Week, 8 Lakes over the course of 9 days, double-crossing Lac Massawippi and Willoughby, for a total of 60 miles on all eight lakes.

At the beginning of the year, in February of 2018, she became the youngest swimmer to participate in the Memphremagog Winter Swim Festival, swimming each and every event from the 25-meter hat competition to the 200-meter freestyle.

This year, she leads a group of four youth swimmers participating in the festival, including her eleven-year-old sister Margaret.

She started her open water swimming in 2014, when she was 10, with a 1-mile swim at Kingdom Swim and a 3-mile swim at Caspian.

She has grown her distances each year since then.

While she was swimming Kingdom Swim’s 10-mile course in 2016 around the islands of Derby Bay, she and her mother fell in love with the lake, and her family bought a summer camp in Derby, with access to Lake Memphremagog.

Step into the new year with a First Day Hike in Westmore

in Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors/Westmore

WESTMORE — While many are planning to burn the midnight oil to ring in 2019, others are aiming to get out of bed and into nature on the first day of the New Year.

State parks around the nation will host free, guided hikes as a part of First Day Hikes, and Jean Haigh with The Green Mountain Club will be leading a tour of Long Pond in Westmore.

Hikers will meet at 10:00 a.m. at the Long Pond Trail Head.

The hike has beautiful views of Long Pond, Lake Willoughby, and Bald Mountain.

It is considered a moderate trail with a few tricky areas.

Snowshoes or microspikes will be needed for this 4-mile round trip.

The hike is in memory of Dave Hardy, who devoted decades of work to the stewardship of the Long Trail.

All ages are welcome.

For more information, contact Jean at jhaightvt@gmail.com, or call 802-586-9637.

(left to right) Fred's Energy Derby office receptionist Desiree, NEKCA's Merry Hamel, Fred's Energy General Manager Dennis Percy, and Rachel Twofoot from Northpoint with toys dropped off to the Fred's Energy Derby office.

Toy drives make it a happier holiday for many local children

in Derby/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

DERBY — This holiday season, Fred’s Energy helped to collect donations for local toy drives at each of their three office locations.

The Fred’s Energy Derby office collected for the NEKCA and Northpoint Toys for Kids toy drive. Toys for Kids is helping approximately 191 families this year.

In addition, for every toy dropped off, donors were eligible to enter for a chance to win 100 gallons of propane or oil and a 3 foot tall snowman gift tower filled with holiday treats.

Cindy Royer of Barton was selected from the entries at the Derby office.

The Fred’s Energy Lyndonville office collected for the St. Johnsbury Fire Department Kingdom Santa Fund. The fund will be helping approximately 500 families this year.

The Fred’s Energy Morrisville office collected toys for The Lamoille Family Center Holiday Project. The project will be helping 323 children this year.

All donated toys are being distributed locally.

Becky Gonyea of Morrisville was the winner selected at the Morrisville office.

The winner from the Fred’s Energy Lyndonville office asked to make an anonymous donation of the fuel to be split between two households in need.

Pam Ladds of Newport, and Julie Zeitlinger of Sutton, Quebec, ready to swim at Lake Willoughby, on December 15.

Training for the winter swim at Willoughby

in News/Northeast Kingdom/Westmore

WESTMORE — Winter swimmers around North America are hard at it training and qualifying for the Fifth Annual Memphremagog Winter Swim Festival coming up on February 23-24, 2019 in Newport.

Two locals, Pam Ladds of Newport, and Julie Zeitlinger of Sutton, Quebec, took advantage of the open waters at Lake Willoughby on Saturday.

Water temperature was about 35 degrees.

Willoughby stays open later than most lakes in the region because it is so deep under the cliffs, making it a perfect venue for winter swimming, late into December and even early January.

So far, almost 80 swimmers have signed on to the Festival in February, with room for about 20 more.

For more information and to register for the Memphremagog Winter Swim Festival visit http://kingdomgames.co/memphremagog-winter-swimming-society/

Borderline Players to hold auditions for 2019 spring, summer shows in Derby Line

DERBY LINE — After a highly successful debut season, Borderline Players will hold auditions for its spring and summer productions on Friday, January 4 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m and Saturday, January 5 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the First Universalist Parish Hall in Derby Line.

The first show of the season will be All Together Now, an original comedy written and directed by border humorist Ross Murray.

It’s Labour Day, 1973. In Holland, Vermont, a rock festival is set to begin, while at the Haskell Free Library, rumors begin to fly that the former Fab Four will be meeting there.

But when a mysterious stranger and confused American tourists turn things upside down at the world’s only international library, soon no one knows whether they’re coming or going.

Roles for All Together Now are available for 5 males, 4 females and one small role for a child (5-10).

Two male roles and one female role are for actors age 18-30.

Another male role is ideal for a francophone male (40-60) who can perform in English.

Performances are May 10-12 and 17-19.

The summer production will be the popular Abba musical Mamma Mia.

On a small Greek island, Sophie dreams of a perfect wedding — one which includes her father giving her away. The problem? Sophie doesn’t know who he is! Her mother refuses to talk about the past, so Sophie decides to take matters into her own hands.

She secretly invites her three possible fathers to the wedding, convinced that she’ll know her father when she sees him.

But when all three turn up, it may not be as clear as she thought.

This production will be directed by Mary Hoadley and features multiple principal and feature roles along with ensemble roles for men and women age 16+.

Singing and dancing men especially sought. Performances will run August 9-11 and 16-18.

A fall production, scheduled for October 18-20 and 25-26, is yet to be finalized.

Play and character details are available at https://borderlineplayers.org

To book an audition time and receive audition script sides, contact Borderline Players at borderlineplayers@outlook.com

Drop-ins are also welcome.

Glover native Sarah Waring joins the Vermont Community Foundation

in Glover/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — The Vermont Community Foundation recently announced that Sarah Waring has been hired as its vice president for grants and community investments and will join the Foundation at the end of December.

Waring, who was born and raised in Glover, will step into her new role as the Foundation continues to expand its efforts to close Vermont’s opportunity gap—the divide in access to education, jobs, health, and community vitality that keeps many Vermonters from getting ahead in life.

Earlier this year, the Foundation declared its belief that the opportunity gap was the single greatest challenge to the health and vitality of the state, and focused its staff-directed discretionary programs and its mission-related investments on closing the gap.

It also changed its grantmaking processes to emphasize deeper engagement between the Foundation’s staff and the communities it serves.

Waring’s career has been focused on community development and natural resource management, using collaborative and whole systems approaches.

She was director of programs for the Farm and Wilderness Foundation in Plymouth, program director at the Vermont Council on Rural Development, socioeconomics program manager at the Sonoran Institute in Bozeman, Montana, and a social science coordinator for the Bureau of Land Management in Washington, D.C.

Since 2013, she has been the Executive Director at the Center for an Agricultural Economy, an innovative nonprofit focused on building a just and regenerative local food system and working in economic and community development arenas in the Northeast Kingdom.

“It’s an honor to be joining the Community Foundation,” said Waring. “I am incredibly excited about the challenges ahead, particularly in how philanthropy and giving can play a critical role in systems change and be used to work directly with communities to understand and address the opportunity gap.”

Waring has served on numerous boards, steering committees, and councils.

She earned her B.A. from Haverford College and her Masters of Applied Anthropology from the University of Maryland. She lives in East Montpelier with her family.

“Sarah has a proven track record of working statewide, regionally, and locally on successful efforts that use community momentum to do great things,” says Foundation President & CEO Dan Smith. “She’ll be a critical part of our work to ensure that philanthropy is responsive to the needs and hopes of Vermonters who feel the opportunity gap most strongly.”

Woman killed in Barnet fire

in News/Northeast Kingdom

BARNET — Authorities say that a 21-year-old woman was killed during a barn fire in Barnet early this morning.

The fire took place at 731 Whitehill Road, at around 4:30 a.m.

The structure was a barn-type building.

The victim has been identified by witnesses as Kelsey Locke, 21, of Groveland, Massachusetts.

Authorities say an investigation into the cause and origin of the fire is still underway, but it does not appear suspicious at this time.

Moore appointed to Community Bancorp. and Community National Bank boards

in Derby/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

DERBY — Community National Bank and Community Bancorp. President and Chief Executive Officer Kathryn M. Austin announced this week the appointment of Jeffrey Moore to the Boards of Directors.

Moore’s appointment will be effective January 1, 2019.

He will serve on the Corporate Governance/Nominating Committee of the Company’s Board and the Risk Management Committee of the Bank’s Board.

Moore is the owner and President of Quest Transportation, a freight logistics company based in St. Johnsbury.

He launched the business in 1985 after working at St. Johnsbury Trucking for three years.

Looking at supply chain logistics, he recognized the need for a freight broker and created a national freight network.

As an innovator and entrepreneur, Moore continued to expand his business interests.

In 2008, he created Pellets Now, a wholesale distributor of bio-energy fuels, and in 2014, Moore assumed the position of General Manager of Wells River Chevrolet in Wells River, testing the waters for possible ownership.

Born and raised in St. Johnsbury, Moore graduated from St. Johnsbury Academy and attended Lyndon State College.

He is deeply committed to his community and currently serves on the St. Johnsbury Select Board, NVRH Board of Trustees, and the St. Johnsbury-Lyndonville Industrial Park Board.

He is also a member of the Catamount Arts Advisory Council.

Moore previously served on the boards of the NEK Chamber of Commerce, St. Johnsbury Chamber of Commerce and St. Johnsbury Development Fund.

When he’s not at work, you can find him on the slopes of Burke Mountain or enjoying some quiet time at Lake Willoughby, two of his favorite places.

Backcountry ski and ride project in Willoughby State Forest expands

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors/Westmore

WESTMORE — The Northeast Kingdom Backcountry Coalition, also known as NEKBC for short, is updating its pilot backcountry ski and ride project in the Willoughby State Forest.

The coalition began working with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation in the fall of 2016 to design and develop winter backcountry recreation opportunities that supplement the existing ski and snowshoe trail network in the Willoughby State Forest.

The project is the first of its kind on state lands to provide access and manage vegetation to provide backcountry snow sports for the public.

NEKBC says they are committed to creating legitimate and sustainable backcountry routes and hopes to stop rogue and illegal cutting on state and private lands.

Most recently, the coalition has been working closely with specialist Luke O’Brien, who is one of several such professionals across the state recently hired to work closely with partners, volunteers, and contractors on outdoor recreation projects on state lands, including sustainable trail development and maintenance, assessment and monitoring of recreation sites, and promoting sustainable outdoor recreation activities.

The collaborative project has resulted in the design of backcountry zones that include ski lines on Mt. Hor, and Bartlett Mountain.

Also developed is a network of uphill tracks to connect to the parking lot on Route 5A and the various backcountry zones.

These improvements complement the existing 12k network of groomed Nordic ski trails offered in the Willoughby State Forest.

The group says they continue to work to identify, mark, clear, and monitor trails to create a sustainable backcountry trail system in the forest.

Driving too fast: I-91 traffic slowed after several crashes

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — The snowstorm today had police responding to multiple slide-offs and crashes on Interstate 91, including a tour bus that police say was driving too fast for conditions, and was even seen passing vehicles before sliding into the median.

At 3:00 p.m. a tractor-trailer unit slid into a guardrail and subsequently jack-knifed across the southbound lanes of I-91.

The cab of the truck was stuck in the ditch while the trailer extended onto the roadway, blocking traffic. The Interstate needed to be closed from Exit 28 to 27 southbound for 2.5 hours.

At 5:40 p.m. a tour bus was traveling southbound and spun around before sliding into the median and partially overturning.

Witnesses reported the bus had been passing vehicles prior to the crash.

There were 14 people on board the bus at the time, and many reported minor injuries. All injured parties were checked on the scene and none required hospitalization.

The driver was ticketed for traveling too fast for conditions.

Interstate 91 south was again closed for a short period of time for the removal of the bus, however, one lane of traffic remained open for the majority of the crash investigation.

At around 5:00 p.m., a tractor-trailer unit jackknifed near mile-marker 153.

The cab and trailer slid off the roadway and into the median.

Removal efforts required the passing lane of the interstate to be closed for a short period of time.

The driver and sole occupant of the tractor-trailer were not injured.

Police say all incidents were caused by a result of the operators traveling too fast for existing road conditions.

Free Discover Girl Scouts event Nov. 29 in Brownington

in Brownington/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

BROWNINGTON — Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains will be holding a free information session for girls and parents on Thursday, Nov. 29, from 6 to 7 p.m. at Brownington Central School.

Those interested and their families will meet local Girl Scouts and volunteers, as well as learn about expanded STEM and outdoor programs.

They will also enjoy fun, girl-led activities, explore available programs, learn about volunteer opportunities, and register to become Girl Scouts.

Plus, girls will receive a free Discover Girl Scouts embroidered patch.

Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains serves over 10,000 girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont.

To learn more about Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org, or call 1-888-474-9686 if you have any questions.

Community partners in Essex, Orleans, awarded grant to battle opioid epidemic

in Essex County/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Local community partners in Caledonia, Essex, Orleans, Franklin, and Grand Isle counties are energized to address the local opioid epidemic, thanks to a $200,000 one-year federal planning grant.

Several community organizations around the state came together two months ago to submit a federal planning grant application to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to fund a community process that would help to combat the opioid problem.

Impressed with the group’s submission, HRSA not only gave the communities the grant as initially requested, but provided the group with additional funds to realize their goals.

The request was only one of two submissions funded in Vermont and one of only 95 grants awarded nationally.

The Northeast Kingdom Consortium consists of the following partners:

The Community Restorative Justice Center, Vermont Cares, Northern Counties Health Care, Inc., Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital, North Country Hospital, Northeast Kingdom Learning Services, Northeast Kingdom Community Action, and Kingdom Recovery Center, and the Department of Health St. Johnsbury Office.

These organizations will be meeting regularly over the next year to develop a plan to identify gaps and services related to opioid prevention, treatment, and recovery in their respective regions.

“This grant is great news for the NEK, particularly the communities of Essex County,” Shawn P. Tester, CEO of Northern Counties Health Care said. “It will enable us to build on our already strong foundation in addressing the opiate crisis. I am especially excited about the opportunities to collaboratively develop prevention strategies, to really turn the curve on addiction.”

Community Justice Centers in both regions have been designated as lead agencies to facilitate this process in each district.

This planning year will utilize a restorative process to engage the community in an on-going dialogue to learn from many diverse groups and voices across the region, including individuals currently in long-term recovery.

The group says other agencies are also coming on board as the grant progresses.

“This grant, and what it will make possible, are proof of what can happen when our community partners come together to take on a challenge as serious as the opioid epidemic,” Senator Patrick Leahy said.

Orleans County Trails coordinator receives prestigious award

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — At the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST) annual meeting, Orleans County Trails Coordinator Raymond Rodrigue received County Trails Coordinator of the Year.

This prestigious award is given out annually to the county trails coordinator who best exemplifies the hard work and dedication needed to keep Vermont’s trail system open and viable on a year to year basis.

There are 14 county trails coordinators in Vermont.

Rodrigue became county trails coordinator in 2014 but has been involved in his local club, Orleans Snowstormers for 22 years, 19 of which was in an officers position.

In 1999, he undertook the task of completely redesigning all of the junction signs for his club.

When he’s not riding his snowmobile or grooming in the winter, he’s attending VAST meetings and working behind the scenes to keep Vermont’s trails open.

Rodrigue’s work does not end when the snow melts.

He remains busy throughout the summer overseeing and approving all of the projects throughout Orleans County.

This Summer and Fall, $44,000 worth of construction projects are being proposed for Orleans County snowmobile trails, most of which will be done by local contractors with locally purchased supplies.

Orleans county snowmobile clubs always have been and will continue to be an economic boost for the Northeast Kingdom.

Grant awarded to help Orleans County fight domestic violence

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — The Orleans County State’s Attorney’s Office, partnering with the Advocacy Program at Umbrella and the Newport City Police Department, recently announced that they have been awarded a STOP Grant through the Department of Justice.

The STOP Grant in Orleans County will fund a legal advocate that will be housed at Umbrella and an investigator from the Newport Police Department that will be housed at the State’s Attorney’s Office.

The majority of the homicides in Orleans County have been domestic violence related.

The goal is to increase survivor safety by providing victims with appropriate and necessary assistance throughout the court process, increasing offender accountability, and aiding in domestic violence homicide prevention.

The group says these goals will be met with a collaboration of advocate services, prosecution of offenders, increased training related to domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual abuse.

Orleans County will now be implementing a lethality assessment on the scene at all domestic violence-related calls for service.

“Domestic violence continues to be a significant problem in Orleans County,” State’s Attorney Jennifer Barrett said. “I am confident this grant will positively impact Orleans County.”

US Cross Country National Championships coming to Craftsbury

in Craftsbury/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

CRAFTSBURY COMMON — The Craftsbury Outdoor Center will host the 2019 US Cross Country National Championships.

The event will take place from January 3 through January 8.

Presented by L.L. Bean, the championships will include a week of cross-country racing featuring the best athletes in the country, including Vermont Olympians and the future stars of United States skiing.

These competitions will crown National Champions, serve as tryout races for the US World Junior Championships, U18 Scandinavian Cup, and help select athletes for the FIS World Cup and World Championships.

The best junior and senior athletes in the country will be in attendance to compete for a chance to represent Team USA in international competition.

Racing kicks off on Thursday, January 3 with a 10k/15k classic individual start competition.

Friday features a 1.5km sprint in the classic style.

After a day off on Saturday, racers will compete in a freestyle mass start competition on Sunday, January 6, 30k for men, 20k for women, 10k for junior boys, and 5k for junior girls.

On Sunday evening, all registered coaches and athletes are invited to a banquet which will recognize race winners and name the World Junior and U18 Scandinavian Cup teams.

Tuesday, January 8th wraps up the series with 1.5km freestyle sprints.

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