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Gov. Scott keynote speaker at annual chamber meeting in Newport

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Governor Phil Scott will be the featured keynote speaker at the Newport based Vermont’s North Country Chamber of Commerce annual meeting and luncheon.

The event will take place at 11:00 a.m. Thursday, April 25, at the Eastside Restaurant in Newport.

Governor Scott will speak on the north country’s economy and its future.

Luncheon tickets should be purchased in advance and are available on the chamber’s website at

Tickets are $20 per person or a table of 10 for $200.

The luncheon is open to both chamber members and interested community members.

At the annual meeting, the chamber will elect members for its Board of Directors, updates on this year’s Aquafest will be shared, new area businesses will be recognized, and community involvement awards will be presented to area businesses.

Vermont’s North Country Chamber of Commerce operates the Welcome Center on the Causeway in Newport plus promotes events and activities designed to improve business and lifestyle in its membership area.

The chamber membership is open to all businesses, organizations, and individuals interested in promoting the economic well-being of the greater Newport area, including Orleans County, eastern Franklin County, and northern Essex County.

Amphibians begin migration, drivers asked to slow down

in News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

NEWPORT — One of the great wildlife migrations is happening right now, and it’s taking place right at our feet.

You may have already heard the spring peepers or wood frogs calling in your backyard. Or perhaps you’ve noticed salamanders crawling over rocks in a nearby stream.

Amphibians are on the move, but their spring breeding migration can too often become deadly.

Amphibians migrate by the thousands each spring in search of breeding pools. This migration frequently takes them across roads and highways where they are killed by cars, which contributes to species’ decline in Vermont, according to biologist Jens Hilke with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

“Frogs and salamanders become active on rainy spring nights,” said Hilke. “On these nights, drivers should slow down on roads near ponds and wetlands or try to use an alternate route. These amphibian ‘hotspots’ can lead to the death of thousands of animals on a single night.”

Hilke is asking drivers to report these hotspots, or areas with large numbers of frogs and salamanders that cross the road all at once.

You can contact the Vermont Reptile & Amphibian Atlas by emailing Jim Andrews at

“We work hard to identify these hotspots and to mitigate the problem whenever possible to help give these animals a better chance of survival,” said Hilke.

The Fish & Wildlife Department is working with the Vermont Agency of Transportation to include culverts and wildlife barriers in road construction plans to allow wildlife, from frogs to moose, to more safely cross the road.

The town of Monkton has completed a highway project that is aimed at providing amphibians with a safe way to cross under the road.

Conservation officials and volunteers also work together on rainy spring nights to slow traffic and manually move amphibians across the road.

Trout sea­son opens this Saturday

in Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

NEWPORT — Ver­mon­t’s tra­di­tional trout fish­ing sea­son is set to open on Sat­ur­day, April 14, and de­spite re­cent cold weather and lin­ger­ing snow cover across the state, of­fi­cials from Ver­mont Fish and Wildlife say an­glers can be suc­cess­ful early in the sea­son by fol­low­ing a few ba­sic tips.

“Just like any other time of year, an­glers fish­ing early in the spring should ad­just their tac­tics based on the con­di­tions,” said Bret Ladago, state fish­eries bi­ol­o­gist. “Given the cold weather and runoff from re­cent storms and snow melt, wa­ter lev­els will be high, flows will be faster than nor­mal and wa­ter tem­per­a­tures will be cold.

Ladago says an­glers may want to tar­get small to medium low-el­e­va­tion rivers and streams where flows are slow and wa­ters will warm more quickly. Find­ing wa­ter that is­n’t too muddy can be key, and slow­ing your lure or bait re­trieval will help tempt slug­gish trout into bit­ing.

Trout will of­ten hold close to the bot­tom in the deeper ar­eas of streams dur­ing high flow con­di­tions to con­serve en­ergy. Choose lo­ca­tions and tac­tics that al­low for fish­ing bait or lures right along the bot­tom.

Ladago says that fish­ing slowly with worms or spin­ners through deep holes be­hind cur­rent breaks cre­ated by big boul­ders, downed trees or log-jams can be pro­duc­tive for early sea­son trout.

Ver­mont is known for its ex­cel­lent and di­verse fish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for wild trout. Trout stock­ing in streams and rivers gen­er­ally oc­curs in May, fol­low­ing spring runoff, so most early sea­son fish­ing is en­tirely sup­ported by wild trout.

“An­gling suc­cess may be im­proved by fo­cus­ing on wa­ters known to hold wild fish,” Mr. Ladago said. “De­spite un­pre­dictable weather dur­ing early spring, each year an­glers re­port catch­ing im­pres­sive trout dur­ing open­ing week­end.”

Folk music stars Natalie Haas and Yann Falquet to perform at Irasburg Town Hall

IRASBURG — The Artemis Concert Series will be presenting their inaugural concert, featuring renowned Celtic musicians Natalie Haas and Yann Falquet, on Friday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m.

The concert will be held at the Irasburg Town Hall, and will include a potluck buffet.

Tickets are $10 for adults, and kids under 12 are free. They are available at: http://

Natalie and Yann’s duo draws on the rich folk music of Quebec, Scandinavia, and Western Europe, and they’ve performed to sold-out crowds throughout Europe and the U.S.

Natalie Haas is one of the most sought-after cellists in Celtic music today. She has appeared on over 50 albums, including those of Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster, Irish greats Altan, Solas, Liz Carroll, and Mark O’Connor.

Montrealer Yann Falquet is one of the most creative acoustic guitarists in today’s Québécois music scene, and has recorded five albums and toured the world with French Canadian power trio Genticorum.

The Artemis Concert Series is the creation of NJ Symphony violinists and Brownington residents JoAnna Farrer and Darryl Kubian.

The Series aims to celebrate the rich traditions of both the folk and classical music worlds, bringing local and international artists together for exciting performances in the Northeast Kingdom.

The Series is proudly sponsored by Cindy Sanville, of Sanville Real Estate, LLC., based in Irasburg.

Troy couple find purpose and spirit in restorative justice

in News/North Troy/Northeast Kingdom/Troy

TROY — Annie and Irv Fellows of Troy have long sought to make a difference in the world. For more than 30 years, Irv and Annie worked for the government, attempting to bring their passion for helping people through that venue.

“When I retired, Annie and I made a commitment that we would seek other ways to help people in need,” Irv said.

Then, about 4 years ago, Irv met Orleans County Restorative Justice Center’s Executive Director, Barbara Morrow during an effort to set up a Newport area warming shelter.

“She asked me if I would like to be on a ‘Circles of Support and Accountability’, called CoSA for short,” he said. “I initially had no idea what that was, but I found the concept challenging and well aligned with my spiritual principles. At first, I had little confidence that I could contribute anything, but, as time went by, I realized my perspective and life experiences could be supportive. Annie saw that I was finding CoSAs rewarding, and she decided to do volunteer as well.”

A CoSA is a team of usually three volunteers who, with a trained facilitator, work with someone called a “core member,” a person reentering the community from incarceration, for a year.

The team works with the person to figure out what problems they face and how they might address those problems. The team and the core member come up with a plan for the future and identify skills the core member has or could develop that will help them overcome present or future barriers. The CoSA group also acts as a source of accountability and a sounding board.

The Fellows said there are many rewards and frustrations to volunteering as a CoSA team member, but that the rewards are worth it.

“I’ve become aware of many bureaucratic barriers a person faces when they are trying to successfully reenter the local work environment,” Irv said. “For instance, a person needs to have their social security card to get a job. Seems like a simple thing, unless their card has been lost and they have no transportation. Obtaining a new copy of that card often involves seeking a copy of a long-misplaced birth certificate and a long bus ride to Montpelier. The lack of a driver’s license can also be a barrier. Without public transportation in the area, a person trying to get back on his or her feet often has to settle for a minimum wage job within walking distance. They often end up living on a financial knife’s edge, and even a small unexpected expense can make them vulnerable to frustration and depression, and the temptation to return to old ways.”

With that said, Irv Fellows said there are beautiful successes, often helped along by a core member with a good attitude about the process and support their receiving.

It can happen, the Fellows say, that amazing things take place in a person’s life through the process.

“My first CoSA involved a person who had alcohol and anger issues. When he started, he was adrift. He did not know how to handle money, he was isolated and he had very few prospects for employment. He worked very hard to avoid alcohol and completed training to control his anger. We taught him how to handle his money, and he listened to our advice. Soon, he began to bloom. He gained confidence in himself and his ability to control his own life. We sought people willing to give him a chance as an employee, and his work ethic soon convinced them he was a valuable worker. It has been more than a year since his CoSA ended, and his hard work continues to bring him success.”

Irv and Annie have served on a number of CoSA teams, and they say each one is a very different experience. What isn’t different, they said, is the caliber of volunteers they share this work with.

“There is a real reward in getting to know other CoSA volunteers,” Irv Fellows said. “I find them to be remarkable people.”

The Orleans County Restorative Justice Center’s Executive Director, Barbara Morrow, shares Fellow’s outlook on the volunteers, and welcomes interested people to find out how they can take part too.

“We will have a Circles of Support and Accountability training in Lyndonville May 3rd and 4th,” Morrow said.

This is required of all CoSA volunteers, has received rave reviews, and is a great orientation to work with our clients. We invite people to attend even if they’re not sure yet that they would volunteer, but are thinking about it.”

To learn more about OCRJC services, visit their website at, email or call 802-487-9327.

  • 29391534_10210547040984699_1653501595_o-2.jpg
    Photo by Tanya Mueller.

Old Stone House prepares for May opening

in Brownington/News/Northeast Kingdom

BROWNINGTON — A fresh en­ergy is dri­ving the Old Stone House Mu­seum in Brown­ing­ton to­wards open­ing day on May 16. Com­mu­nity out­reach classes will be in­ter­min­gled with an up­dated list­ing of events.

Out­reach classes for adults will in­clude tile mo­saics, plein air draw­ing, yeast-bread bak­ing, ca­nine obe­di­ence, and more.

The mu­seum will also be ap­peal­ing more to chil­dren and young fam­i­lies by of­fer­ing a weekly kids’ day each Fri­day from June 15 through Au­gust 24.

Kids’ day will be­gin at 11 a.m. with spe­cial ac­tiv­i­ties planned on-site, fol­lowed by out­door pic­nick­ing. Chil­dren un­der 18 can en­joy tours those Fri­days for a re­duced rate.

Time Trav­el­ers Camp for kids ages 8 to 12 will run from July 23 through 27. This year the camp will fo­cus on her­itage arts and will in­clude pit-fired pot­tery, slate paint­ings, sap bucket lanterns, along with other pop­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties to choose from in the af­ter­noons.

New and old fa­vorite events will pique in­ter­est for mu­seum vis­i­tors.

The sea­son starts with the vol­un­teer ori­en­ta­tion carousel and tea on Thurs­day, April 26.

Things take off in May with the pop­u­lar Spring Field Days for school­child­ren on May 15 and 22, en­gines show on June 16, the gala fund-raiser on July 19, and Old Stone House Day on Au­gust 12.

The new stars party fund-raiser happens on Sep­tem­ber 1, which will in­clude live mu­sic, Fair­banks Mu­seum-led star gaz­ing on Prospect Hill us­ing high-pow­ered tele­scopes, food truck ven­dors, and more.

Open sea­son will draw to a close with a “boo!” at the new “Haunted Old Hall­ways” and trick-or-treat­ing event for kids and fam­i­lies on Oc­to­ber 28.

RuralEdge appoints interim CEO

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

LYNDONVILLE — The Board of RuralEdge (RE) announced the appointment of Patrick Flood as interim CEO, effective April 3, 2018, following the resignation of Trisha Ingalls, in February.

Louise Bonvechio, chair of the RuralEdge Board of Directors, announced the transition plans.

“I am happy to announce that Patrick Flood has been hired as an interim CEO to provide leadership during the executive transition period,” Bonvechio said. “The RE board is enthusiastic about choosing Patrick for his adept abilities to work with rural communities, his confident leadership style, and his demonstrated skills to lead an organization through challenging times.”

Flood, who lives in East Calais, VT, worked for 29 years in state government, in the VT Agency of Human Services (AHS).

He was the Commissioner of the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living, the commissioner of the Department of Mental Health following tropical storm Irene, and the Deputy Secretary of AHS for four years.

After leaving state government in 2013, he was CEO of Northern Counties Health Care, based in St. Johnsbury, until retiring in 2016. He has also served as a trustee of Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital.

“I am looking forward to this opportunity,” Flood said. “Housing that is affordable is critical to our communities, and I hope, with the help of all the staff, to strengthen Rural Edge’s capacity to meet that need.”

A CEO search committee, comprised of board directors, stakeholders, and staff, has been formed. The process is expected to take six to nine months.

Brianna Maitland still missing after 14 years

in Montgomery/News/Northeast Kingdom/Vermont

MONTGOMERY — Monday marks the 14 year anniversary of the disappearance of Brianna Maitland, and detectives say they continue to investigate active leads in this case.

Brianna Maitland, 17 years old at the time of her disappearance, was last seen at her place of employment at the Black Lantern Inn, located in Montgomery.

Maitland reportedly left work on March 19, 2004, at approximately 11:20 p.m. Her car was discovered the next day adjacent to an abandoned farmhouse, located on VT Route 118 in the town of Montgomery, a short distance from work.

The Vermont State Police, along with the Maitland family, strongly emphasize the importance of anyone coming forward with information.

Police say they continue to be vigilant in their efforts to investigate all tips provided by the public.

The Vermont State Police is offering a reward of up to $5,000.00 for information leading to the resolution of this case and/or information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible.

The Vermont State Police offers rewards on specific major cases with an emphasis on unsolved homicides and missing persons where foul play is suspected.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at (802) 524-5993.

Public meeting to be held on conserved lands in Norton and Holland

in Holland/Northeast Kingdom/Norton

HOLLAND — The Vermont departments of Fish & Wildlife, and Forests, Parks, & Recreation are holding a public meeting to discuss future management and use of a group of conserved lands in the Northeast Kingdom.

The meeting will discuss the Bill Sladyk Wildlife Management Area, Black Turn Brook State Forest, and Averill Mountain Wildlife Management Area, primarily in the towns of Norton and Holland.

The meeting will take place on Tuesday, March 20 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Town of Brighton Elementary School.

“These lands occupy a special place in Vermont, with vast areas of both softwood and hardwood forest, numerous ponds and streams, and many opportunities for remote experiences,” said Doug Morin, a biologist for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

This is part of the routine management planning process for state lands owned by the Agency of Natural Resources.

The meeting will provide an opportunity for members of the public to provide input on how the lands may best be used for sustainable forestry, fish and wildlife habitat, and outdoor recreation.

“Large areas of interconnected conserved lands with healthy forests and waters such as these are essential in Vermont,” Morin said. “They form the foundation of the state’s working landscape, providing areas for outdoor recreation, tourism, and sustainable forestry practices.”

The public may also submit comments directly until April 20, 2018.

For more information about the meeting or the planning process, or to submit a comment, contact Doug Morin at

Brownington woman arrested for 2016 homicide

in Brownington/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

BROWNINGTON — A Brownington woman is facing charges relating to the death of a 38-year-old man back in March of 2016.

Today, the Orleans County State’s Attorney Office and the Vermont State Police Major Crime Unit, announced the arrest and indictment of Jennifer Simard, 46, of Brownington, for murder, 2nd degree, and manslaughter, in the death of Kevin Smith in Brownington.

In June of 2016, authorities ruled the manner of Smith’s death as a homicide, the cause of death being a stab wound to the chest.

Authorities say the indictment is the result of an on-going investigation.
Simard was processed and lodged at the Northern State Correctional Facility.

She is due to appear in court on Monday.

North Country Hospital CEO Claudio Fort leaving

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Today the North Country Hospital Board of Trustees accepted the resignation of President & CEO, Claudio Fort.

Fort is leaving to fill the position of long-time CEO of Rutland Regional Medical Center, Thomas Huebner, who is retiring at the end of March.

Chairman of the North Country Hospital Board of Trustees, Frank Knoll, expressed appreciation for Fort’s nine years of service at the helm of North Country Hospital.

“Claudio has left the organization well positioned for the future and we wish him continued success in his new position,” Knoll said.

The North Country Hospital Board of Trustees is working with Fort to develop a transition plan and begin the search process for Fort’s successor.

“I am and will forever be grateful to have had the opportunity to advance the mission of North Country Hospital,” Fort said. “With a committed board, talented medical staff, and engaged employees, I know that the organization’s best days lie ahead.”

North Country Hospital and VASA team up to teach ATV safety

in Health/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — For kids who like to ride ATVs, North Country Hospital will be hosting a free ½ day classroom training course sponsored by VASA on Saturday, March 24 from 9 a.m. – noon in the downstairs Meeting Room.

This free course which teaches safe and responsible ATV operation is a requirement for all Vermont kids aged 12-17.

North Country Hospital says they understand the importance of this required training especially since nationwide, children under the age of 16 accounts for 40 percent of ATV accidents and fatalities.

There were 25 off-highway vehicle-related deaths in Vermont from 2013-2017. ATVs are included in the category of off-highway vehicles.

In an effort to keep these numbers from rising, North Country Hospital, Safe Kids Vermont, and VASA are urging Northeast Kingdom youth to attend this free event.

“Your child’s ATV is a machine, so it’s not only important to match them with a size appropriate ATV, it’s equally important that they understand the rules, regulations and ways in which to safely operate them,” says Dani Luke, Operations Director for VASA.

The ATV safety course will provide children with the state-approved, required safety certificate.

To register for the training, please contact Dani Luce at or call 802-477-5075. Space is limited and the deadline to register is March 10, 2018.

Lunch and snacks are provided for youth and parents, grandparents or other adults are welcome to stay too.

Once your child is registered by March 10 they will receive the appropriate course materials.

Kidder Hill Community Wind stops project activities

in Lowell/News/Northeast Kingdom

LOWELL — Kidder Hill Community Wind announced today the suspension of project planning activities for the proposed two-turbine wind installation in Lowell.

Citing a turbulent climate for renewable wind energy in Vermont and the urgent need for more renewables to be built, the project explained that resources will be reprioritized toward building renewable energy elsewhere.

“The Phil Scott administration has made clear that it will do whatever it can to stop renewable wind energy from being built here in Vermont,” explained project spokesperson Nick Charyk. “Our resources will be devoted to deploying cost-effective, renewable wind projects in states committed to cutting fossil fuel emissions.”

David Blittersdorf, a lifelong Vermonter and renewable energy advocate, says that Kidder Hill Community Wind is part of his vision for combatting our CO2 crisis.

Within the past seven years, Blittersdorf has led three separate partnerships in building two 2.2 MW community-scale solar farms in South Burlington, as well as Georgia Mountain Community Wind, a 10 MW wind farm that helps the city of Burlington source 100 percent of its power from renewable generation.

Blittersdorf is also a project partner for Dairy Air Wind, a single turbine project proposed in a cornfield on a 450-acre dairy farm in Holland.

Dairy Air Wind was awarded a state Standard Offer contract to sell electricity in Vermont, and is in the process of being permitted.

Dairy Air Wind is moving forward, and plans to earn a certificate of public good and begin construction later this year.

“By not confronting our own energy challenges we will continue to rely on other states for our energy solutions and continue to write IOUs to our children and grandchildren for the effects of our addiction to spewing carbon,” Blittersdorf said. “As long as Vermont continues to make the unfortunate decision of relying on our neighbors for energy solutions, we will focus our efforts on developing renewables in places where it is possible to actually get projects built.”

Memphremagog Winter Swim Festival draws international crowd

NEWPORT — Winter swimmers gathered in Newport for a weekend of swimming in a 25-meter, two-lane pool cut in the ice of Lake Memphremagog.

They swam in a Hat Competition, 25 Meter freestyle, breaststroke, and butterfly, as well as the 50, 100, and 200-meter freestyle.

The ice was two feet thick, with water temperatures 30.8 F. Air temps were in the 30’s on Saturday and in the 20’s on Sunday. Many were new to the sport and had been training and acclimating to cold water swimming for months.

Conor Turner of Dublin, Ireland, set records in the 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle.

Craig Ross, of Guelph, Ontario, set pool records in the 25 freestyle, 25 butterfly, and 50-meter freestyle.

Perennial speedsters, Daina Bouquin, of Melrose, Mass, and Martha Woos, of Manchester, Mass, set records in the 25-meter butterfly and the 200-meter freestyle respectively.

Winners received Beef Jerky from Brault’s Market and maple syrup from Couture’s Maple Shop and B & B.

Winning the highly contested Best Hat Competition was Edwin Greenfield of Richmond Hil, Ontario, and, new this year, best team Hats, the New Mexico Dream Team, led by Erin Churchill, including, Amber Zimmerman, Terry Casey, and RuthAnn Goradia, all from Albuquerque.

The “most mature” winter swimmer was Ginny Peck, 72, from North Woodstock, NH.

The youngest winter swimmer was Vera Rivard, 14, of Springfield, NH.

Northeast Kingdom Collaborative announces regional priority areas

in News/Northeast Kingdom

HARDWICK — The Northeast Kingdom Collaborative is taking new steps for the future of the region. The organization, which works to build strong and vibrant communities in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, has worked over the last year to set a new path forward to strengthen the organization’s reach and impact including reformatting its governing board, hiring staff, and developing strategies for collaboration with funders.

A central part of the organization’s new strategy, initiated earlier this year, is to identify a focused set of issues for the region to align partners, leverage funding, and drive desired impacts.

“This collective impact model has been moving closer and closer for some time,” explained Collaborative chair, Sarah Waring. “The opportunity here is to align clear needs in the region with funding capacities for maximum impact. I’m very excited to watch this large-scale effort help the region move forward and improve the quality of life for all residents.”

For its initial round, from a field of a dozen pressing issues, the NEK Collaborative identified two key priority areas for the coming year:

Advancing Economic Development through the Creative, Recreation, and Food Sectors:
The Northeast Kingdom’s natural assets, along with its creative culture and farms, offer top-notch experiences for everyone from wilderness adventurers, to foodies looking for a farm to table experience, to artists seeking a creative community.

Given these strengths, a tri-sector task force will develop a comprehensive strategy to leverage existing assets to form new partnerships that will create jobs and retain and grow the region’s skilled workforce.

Strategies could include identifying opportunities and resources to energize downtown development efforts via sector engagement, promoting the sectors in industry recruitment and marketing efforts, and marketing the region as a hub for sector collaborations that will be attractive to both residents and visitors.

The task force could also help to foster growth in these sectors by connecting owners and entrepreneurs with the startup and growth capital and technical assistance they need to succeed as well as facilitate potential partnerships.

Expanding Leadership Development:

Local leadership is vital to the success of our state’s rural areas, but there is a need to strengthen the region’s pipeline of emerging leaders and to encourage young people to take leadership roles in their communities.

Expanding youth development and leadership programs will help more people become engaged with the civic life of their communities and provide opportunities for citizen empowerment. A leadership task force will advance programs for emerging and seasoned leaders that help participants build knowledge, strengthen skill sets, and cultivate a leadership network with shared goals and plans.

These programs could include increasing access to higher education and career training for youth, as well as assistance for adults looking for new opportunities or career growth and building a career development network. The group will identify and dismantle barriers to access including transportation, funding, and availability.

The NEK Collaborative will advance work in these priority areas by launching a task force made up of key thought leaders for each priority area, identify potential high-impact collaborative projects, and producing a priority area action plan.

After the development of the action plan, the organization will identify and leverage funding to support priority area projects, support partner implementation of priority area projects, and host an annual stakeholder convening to promote networking, resource sharing, communicate progress, and update the action plan.

This work will bring near-term benefits to people, communities, and the environment and improve the quality of life for residents of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, including an increase in proposals that address critical issues, funding for high-impact projects in the region, capacity at partner organizations, and jobs in priority area sectors.

“We are confident that by working together with multiple federal, state, local, private, and nonprofit partners we can strengthen communities and achieve social change in the Northeast Kingdom,” says NEK Collaborative Director, Katherine Sims.

Stannard recognized for outstanding service

in Derby/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

DERBY — Community National Bank’s (CNB) Marketing Assistant Anne Quirion recently had the honor of presenting Ann Stannard with the bank’s Community Service Award. This award was created to recognize remarkable people who give back to our communities making them better places to live, work and grow.

Ann has been a volunteer “Advocate” with Orleans County Citizen Advocacy (OCCA) for 30 years. OCCA is a non-profit organization that brings people with developmental disabilities “Partners” and unpaid community volunteers together. OCCA’s mission is to build and support one-to-one, long-term, independent relationships so all are heard, respected, included and empowered.

Ann’s dedication to OCCA and their mission is remarkable. Over the years, Ann has served as an OCCA Board member and as a one-to-one Advocate.

As an Advocate, Ann goes the extra mile to provide her Partner with guidance and friendship. She has helped him to be successful by overcoming obstacles which continues to help him thrive in the community.

Ann has spent countless hours coordinating interactive community activities and workshops. These events are designed to integrate OCCA Partners into the community, so they are not isolated in their homes. Ann’s longstanding service to OCCA has contributed greatly to the organization’s success. Her spirit to help those with developmental disabilities in Orleans County is immeasurable.

To celebrate Ann’s commitment and dedication to her community, the bank says they are proud to present her with this award for the fourth quarter of 2017.

The bank honors and recognizes our recipients by making a $500.00 contribution to a local, non-profit organization of the recipient’s choice. Ann has requested that her donation be made to Orleans County Citizen Advocacy.

To learn more about OCCA, please visit

For more information about Community National Bank’s Community Service Award and to nominate a deserving recipient visit

Community National Bank, Vermont’s Community Bank, is an independent bank that has been serving Vermont communities since 1851. CNB has offices located in Derby, Barre, Barton, Derby Line, Enosburg Falls, Island Pond, Lyndonville, Montpelier, Morrisville, Newport, St. Johnsbury and Troy.

Guests of last year's Taste of the Kingdom enjoy the array of food, drinks, and fun at Jay Peak Resort.

Green Mountain Farm-to-School hosts 10th Annual Taste of the Kingdom

NEWPORT — The 10th Annual Taste of the Kingdom, a fundraising event held by Green Mountain Farm-to-School (GMFTS), will take place on February 28th from 6 to 8 p.m. at Jay Peak Resort’s Foeger Ballroom.

Tickets are on sale now and are available for purchase online at

The annual event draws a crowd of over 200 guests who gather to celebrate local food and drink producers in the Northeast Kingdom.

This year, guests can enjoy products from some of the regions most notable farmers, chefs and brewers including Butterworks Farm, Craftsbury General Store, Jasper Hill Farm and St. Johnsbury Distillery.

“This is an opportunity for us to gather with our neighbors and celebrate all of the amazing local producers in the region,” says James Hafferman, Executive Director of GMFTS. “We love connecting with people over local food and drink and providing a platform for businesses to showcase their products.”

Along with a silent auction and live music, this year’s event includes a raffle where anyone, regardless if they attend the event or not, can enter to win an exclusive Jay Peak Resort getaway for four people – lift tickets, water park access and climb time included.

Tickets are $5 each and directions on how to purchase them can be found at

All proceeds from the event and raffle will go to benefit Green Mountain Farm-to-School (GMFTS) and its programming.

Support from the community will ensure the Newport-based non-profit can continue providing quality programing to over half of the students in the Northeast Kingdom – planting school gardens, offering nutrition education, and serving free meals in the summer months from its Lunchbox food truck.

The event will also ensure GMFTS can continue its work connecting local farms with area schools, restaurants, and institutions through its regional food-hub, Green Mountain Farm Direct – increasing economic viability and opening new markets.

“You get to support Green Mountain Farm-to-School and the work they’re doing to connect communities through food and education all while enjoying some great local food and drinks from some of the region’s top producers,” says Caroline Paige, who has attended the Taste of the Kingdom the past two years. “What more could you ask for?”

For more information on the 10th Annual Taste of the Kingdom, to enter the raffle, or purchase tickets, visit

Orleans Essex VNA Hospice receives $25,000 donation from Walmart

in Essex County/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Walmart’s 2018 Vermont State House Day Event was held on February 1, at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Montpelier. At the event, a $25,000 donation was awarded to Orleans Essex VNA & Hospice Inc. (OEVNA&H) under the Walmart Foundation.

The donation was presented to OEVNA&H Board of Directors, Robert Starr, Michael Marcotte, and Paul Lefebvre.

“On behalf of Orleans Essex VNA & Hospice, we are honored to be selected to receive this generous donation from the Walmart Corporation,” Lyne B. Limoges, Executive Director for OEVNA&H, said. “These types of funds enable us to continue our mission in serving the community members of Orleans and northern Essex counties.”

Funding for programs the Agency provides is often difficult to obtain.

Since 1969 Orleans Essex VNA & Hospice, Inc. has been a major community-based healthcare service provider in the Northeast Kingdom, serving both Orleans and northern Essex counties.

They offer skilled nursing, therapies, assistance with personal care, long-term care case management, and hospice care in the home.

For more information about the programs of the Agency, please contact 802-334-5213.

Northeast Kingdom Learning Services named one of 2018 Best Places to Work in Vermont

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Northeast Kingdom Learning Services was recently named one of the 2018 Best Places to Work in Vermont.

This statewide survey and awards program is designed to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in Vermont, benefiting the state’s economy, its workforce and businesses.

The 2018 Best Places to Work in Vermont list includes 50 companies.

NEKLS is a non-profit, educational organization that has served Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom for nearly 50 years. Over that time it grew to employ an average of 60 people full and part-time.

“Words cannot express how much this award means to me, the NEKLS Board and our staff,” NEKLS Executive Director, Michelle Tarryk said. “In 2011, our organization set out to improve our work culture. It has been a long and winding road with lessons learned along the way, but we were committed to our goal of a healthy and happy organization and to one day earning the recognition of being one of the best places to work in Vermont.”

Companies from across the state, including NEKLS, took a two-part survey to determine the Best Places to Work in Vermont. The first leg of the process evaluated each nominated company’s workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems and demographics. This was worth approximately 25 percent.

The second part consisted of an employee experience survey. This was worth approximately 75 percent. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final rankings.

Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process in Vermont and also analyzed the data and used their expertise to determine the final rankings.

The final rankings for each category will be announced at a special awards presentation in early spring 2018.

“No matter what the final standings, we all know NEKLS IS the best place to work! It’s made up of the most honest, caring hard-working people I know. I’m So proud to be a tiny part of that,” NEKLS staff member, Deborah Shumski said.

Kingdom Games return in February to Newport

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

NEWPORT — The Kingdom Games, a series of competitive athletic events for all ages and skill levels, returns on February 10 to Newport.

The event marks the fifth consecutive year of the Games, which take place on the ice and in the water of beautiful Lake Memphremagog.

This year’s winter Kingdom Games include:

Memphremagog Women’s Pond Hockey Tournament on Feb. 10-11

Memphremagog Winter Swim Festival on Feb. 24-25

Memphremagog Ice Skating Festival on March 3-4

“Kingdom Games are high-level athletic events, challenging to the very best endurance athletes and accessible to all, young and old, experienced or novice,” said director Phil White.

In addition to hockey, swimming, and skating during the winter months, Kingdom Games also offers acclaimed running, cycling and open-water swimming competitions during the warmer months.

All events take place in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, on its roads and legendary lakes, drawing participants from the United States, Canada, Europe, and India.

“The Games take advantage of some spectacular venues in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont,” White added. “Our community of staff and volunteers bring a sense of joy and celebration of these sports to our participants, and their friends and family who come with them.”

For more information, visit

MAC Center Special Edition Exhibition thru January 5

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Just when you thought all the excitement from MAC’s Tenth Anniversary was over, there is a Special Edition Exhibition that will run through January 5, 2018. The exhibition spans two full rooms in the Lower Gallery of the MAC Center building.

The front room chronicles the journey of MAC from inception to fruition, highlighting the major milestones along the way. From ribbon cutting with the Governor to traveling exhibitions to unique vernissages and performances that have built the Memphremagog Arts Collaborative into the flagship venue that it is today.

Curated by MAC Founder, Jim McKimm, this archive was nurtured by Victoria Mathiesen and is a delightful diary of preserving the Arts in the Northeast Kingdom.

In the second room, the fashion-forward collection of QNEK Productions costumes is on exhibition.

The works of costume designers, Linda Bussiere, Carol Woodard, Lisa Foster, Susan-Lynn Johns, Carol Castle, Judy Castonguay, and Delia Leimer line the room with color, fabric, whimsey, imagination, and brilliance for the company that has become a local legend in the NEK.

After 25 years of stellar stagecraft, QNEK retired and while the costume exhibition is a mere thumbnail of the shows, many are unaware that a flood in August 2017 destroyed the entire 50 years of inventory amassed by Lynn Leimer’s company.

The few remaining items in the exhibition are all that is left.

So be sure to take time through the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to stop in and enjoy the history, the creativity and the significant landmarks in our community that herald the positivity of all that surrounds the ARTS.

This exhibition is free and open to the public.

For more information, please visit or call 802-334-1966.

Newport orchestra to play annual fall concert this Sunday

NEWPORT — This Sunday, the Newport Area Community Orchestra is presenting its 7th Annual Fall Concert at the United Church in Newport.

Daniel Johnstone will be featured as soloist opening the concert with “Il Meo Tesoro” from Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni.”

The program will continue with “Nimrod” from the Enigma Variations by Sir Edward Elgar, “For the Beauty of the Earth” by John Rutter and Symphony No. 6 by Franz Schubert.

Admission for the concert will be a suggested donation of $5.

The Newport Area Community Orchestra is a community-based orchestra serving the Northeast Kingdom and surrounding communities.

The orchestra was founded by Ken Michelli in February of 2011.

Newport woman qualifies for the Memphremagog Winter Swim Festival

NEWPORT — Pam Ladds, 69, of Newport, qualified for the Memphremagog Winter Swim Festival today by spending 2 minutes and swimming 25 meters in water that was 38 F.

Air temp was in the high 40s. Ladds had to break through some thin ice to get to open water for her qualifying swim.

Seventy Swimmers and 25 Volunteers are heading to Newport in February for the 25, 50, 100, and 200 meter Winter Swim Festival in a two-lane, 25-meter pool to be cut in the ice on Lake Memphremagog.

Organizers remind everyone that the event is not a “plunge.” It is a swim competition and festival with experienced, trained, and qualified swimmers from around North America and Europe.

The Swim is hosted by Kingdom Games and Newport City Inn & Suites, who are also hosting the Memphremagog Women’s Pond Hockey Tournament earlier in February.

Police search for driver in fatal hit-and-run in Lyndonville

in Lyndonville/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

UPDATE: The victim has been identified as Mattie Lynn Hale, age 46, of Lyndon.

LYNDONVILLE — Police are looking for the driver in a fatal hit-and-run that took place in Lyndonville this morning.

Police say that at around 7:48 a.m. they were notified that a middle-aged woman was found deceased off the east side of US Route 5, just north of Vermont Route 114.

According to police, the investigation is in the preliminary stages and notifications to the next of kin are pending at this time.

The driver involved in the incident has not been located.

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Vermont State Police at 802-748-3111.

US Route 5 in this location is closed as the investigation continues, and alternate routes should be taken.

Newport’s Columbia Forest Products gets relief from illegal Chinese imports

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Columbia Forest Products, which maintains a manufacturing facility in Newport, has been struggling for years to compete with illegal Chinese imports.

Following four years of advocacy, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) today provided long overdue relief to the company.

In a unanimous ruling, the ITC voted 4-0 to impose significant tariffs on dumped and subsidized imports of Chinese hardwood plywood.

In 2012, Columbia Forest Products, a hardwood veneer and plywood manufacturer, filed a petition with the ITC protesting the dumping of cheap and illegal Chinese hardwood and veneer products that undercut its business in Vermont and around the country.

The vote is seen as a win for the local economy, as Columbia Forest Products is recognized as a key employer in the Northeast Kingdom.

“Today’s decision is great news for the employees of Columbia Forest Products,” said Rep. Peter Welch. “The company and its employees have been reeling from subsidized and illegal competition from China. This important decision will level the playing field for the company, preserve jobs, and ensure its continued contributions to the regional economy.”

According to the trade group Coalition for the Fair Trade of Hardwood Plywood, nationally, 42 mills have closed, many more have had to reduce capacity, with a loss of 52,000 jobs in the U.S. and $2 billion in wages.

In 2013, Rep. Welch personally testified before the Commission on the company’s behalf. In addition, Welch helped lead two Congressional letters of support for the industry to the Commission, one in 2013 and one this year.

Orleans County snowmobile clubs contribute thousands to local economy

in News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

NEWPORT — Six snowmobile clubs in Orleans County have received grant money from the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST) for the purpose of maintaining and relocating snowmobile trails.

Multiple construction projects were completed throughout the county this summer in order to maintain Orleans County’s connection to the states 4,700-mile statewide trail system.

The projects were completed in the towns of Derby, Holland, Morgan, Newport City, Coventry, Jay, Troy, Westfield, Lowell, Albany, Glover, Barton, Orleans, Evansville, and Westmore.

Projects consisted of bridge rebuilds and rehabilitation, trail surface repair and re-ditching, debrushing, and maintenance of existing town trails and class 4 roads.

In total, over $70,000 dollars were spent throughout Orleans County to hire local construction companies and purchase lumber and hardware through local merchants.

A majority of the work completed was done by local hard-working volunteers in order to complete it the most cost-effective way possible.

The Orleans County Snowmobile Association is made up of the Country Riders Snowmobile Club in Jay, Craftsbury Snowmobile Club, Drift Dusters Snowmobile Club in Derby, Glover Trail Winders, Hazen’s Notch Snowmobile Club in Lowell, North Country Mountaineers in Coventry, and Orleans Snowstormers.

The members of the Orleans County Snowmobile Association are also members of the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers.

Snowmobiling contributes 500 million dollars to Vermont’s economy each year with much of that ending up in the Northeast Kingdom.

Snowmobile safety course taking place at North Country Hospital

in Newport/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

NEWPORT — On Saturday, December 9, a snowmobile safety course will be offered at North Country Hospital.

For anyone born after July 1, 1983, this course is required to ride on VAST trails.

Vermont State Police certified instructor Roger Gosselin will lead the course.

The cost is two food items to be donated to the local food shelf, and lunch will be provided to students.

The course will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the conference room at the hospital.

If you are interested, organizers say to be sure to register by December 4.

You can register by calling (802) 274-4502, or send an e-mail to, or

Dan Kilborn to receive George Buzzell Forest Stewardship Award

in Charleston/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

CHARLESTON — NorthWoods Stewardship Center recently announced Vermont Land Trust forester Dan Kilborn as the recipient of the fifth annual George Buzzell Forest Stewardship Award.

In honor of the esteemed county forester for which it is named, this award recognizes an individual who is making a positive impact on NEK forests.

As the VLT forester for the Northeast Kingdom, Kilborn is a gifted communicator who understands that good management comes from a strong connection to the land and works daily to educate landowners and the public in the latest forestry ideas and best practices.

An award ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the NorthWoods Stewardship Center on Wednesday, November 15.

During his 44 years as Orleans County Forester, George Buzzell exemplified the best practice of his trade, including research that helped to re-define sugarbush management in Vermont.

Buzzell also cast a welcoming, encouraging education and inviting the widest community into the conversation and practice of forestry.

With this award, NorthWoods honors the outstanding contributions of George Buzzell and recognizes others who are carrying the torch of forest stewardship in the Northeast Kingdom.

High wind warning in effect for Orleans county

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — The National Weather Service in Burlington has issued a high wind warning from 8 p.m. this evening to 11 a.m. Monday for Orleans county.

Winds are expected to reach 30 to 40 mph with gusts up to 70 mph.

Wind gusts of this strength are almost hurricane-like in nature.

The strongest winds will most likely take place between 11 p.m. tonight, lasting through 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.

The strong winds will likely lead to downed trees, tree limbs, and power lines, causing scattered to widespread power outages.

Go to for further updates on this weather situation.

Trapping season starts tomorrow, keep pets safe

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Trapping season starts on the 4th Saturday of October each year in Vermont and runs through March 31st. Each trapping season there are dogs, cats, and other non-targeted animals, including endangered and protected species, who are injured or even killed in traps.

Just two weeks after the official start of trapping season last year, a black lab from Orleans county was injured in a trap that had been set to kill beavers. Luckily, the dog was found and recovered from her injuries.

“I am a veterinarian who has treated dogs and cats caught in traps,” Dr. Peggy Larson, retired Vermont veterinarian, said. “The injuries they suffer were horrendous and most lost their legs.”

Traps may be set on private and public land, including National Wildlife Refuges that are home to federally protected species, including Canada lynx.

Trappers are not required to erect signage as to where they’re trapping, nor are they required to set their traps away from trails.

Baits and lures are used with traps, so a trap set for a coyote can just as likely trap a curious dog or cat. Trappers are not required to report if they catch a non-targeted animal, even if it’s someone’s pet.

The two trap types that are used in Vermont that pose the greatest risk to pets are leghold and Conibear™ (“kill”) traps.

Cats are at the greatest risk since they are often left outside unsupervised.

Quick Tips:

Know when trapping season is, but remember that traps set out of season, as allowed per Vermont’s “wild animals doing damage” statute, or traps left behind after the season ends, still present a threat.

Remember that traps can be set in water, in rivers and streams — especially on banks, so always check the area before allowing your dog to swim.

Keep cats indoors or create a cat-proofed fenced-in yard.

Medication lock boxes distributed locally to help keep kids safe

in Health/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Over 59,000 children visit an emergency room for medicine poisoning every year. That’s one child every nine minutes.

Sales for over-the-counter medications went from $5.5 billion in 1980 to $30.8 billion in 2014. As these numbers explode this means that children are increasingly exposed to prescription drugs and equally dangerous over-the-counter medications.

Beth Barnes, Community Outreach Specialist at North Country Hospital, was recently asked if the hospital could supply lock boxes where medications and other potentially hazardous items could be safely stored.

“The same night this request was made I was watching PBS and saw Stephen Ubl being interviewed by Judy Woodruff,” Beth said. “Since I had no grant money for medication lock boxes I wrote to Mr. Ubl, president and CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and asked if he could help.”

Less than a week later, one of Mr. Ubl’s Directors responded to say that PhRMA would donate enough money to buy almost 400 boxes that could help local families.

Working with the Vermont Department of Health’s Newport office, the boxes will be given to local pediatric practices and NEK Human Services to distribute as needed. These boxes will help to prevent the risk of overdoses or poisonings.

Here are some of the ways families can also safeguard their homes against accidental poisonings, overdoses, and medication mishaps:

Put all medicine and vitamins out of sight and out of reach of children of all ages.

Close medicine caps tightly after every use and choose child-resistant caps for medicine bottles when you can. Remember that child-resistant doesn’t always mean childproof.

Be alert to visitor’s medicines. Offer to put purses, bags, and coats out of reach of children.

Remember to ask people where your child visits to also store their medications safely even if it seems socially awkward.

Put medications up and away after every use even if it is tempting to leave it out in preparation for the next dose.

Keep close track of when doses are given so they are not repeated prematurely.

Write detailed instructions to caregivers and babysitters and remind them to store the medications out of sight and out of reach.

Get rid of unused or expired medications. Locally, the Newport Police Department will take back medications 24/7.

This is not a complete list of how people can protect their homes but it is a great place to start. “The most important phone number any adult can have programmed into their phone is the National Poison Control number,” Beth said.

That number is 1-800-222-1222.

Bahamas chamber representatives visit NEK

in Northeast Kingdom/St. Johnsbury

ST. JOHNSBURY – Representatives from two chambers in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas visited with the Northeast Kingdom Chamber executive director on Oct. 20 as part of a mutual initiative with the Vermont Council on World Affairs and the United States Department of State.

According to Executive Director Darcie McCann, the intent of the trip was to discuss the role of the Northeast Kingdom Chamber in supporting small businesses, economic development and tourism in the region. However, the visit took on a different turn as the representatives from the Bahamas and Northeast Kingdom each discussed the challenges and opportunities their respective organizations face in these challenging times.

“I was very pleasantly surprised at how similar our chambers were in our missions and reach,” McCann said. “They face many of the same issues we encounter, although the Commonwealth is more than 1,300 miles away.”

The 700 islands that comprise the Bahamas are north of Cuba.

McCann admitted that although she has attended thousands of meetings in her 22 ½ years as chamber director, she was actually quite nervous and excited to be introduced to chamber colleagues from another country.

She noted this particular gathering will go down as one of the highlights of her time at the chamber.

“I have met with travel reporters from all corners of the globe, but I had never had such an encounter with fellow chamber colleagues. I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to sit down with them and hear what it was like to be part of a chamber in another part of the world,” she said.

The guests included Ruth Saunders and Brenda Jenoure, from the Abaco Chamber of Commerce; Charles Pratt, Grand Bahama Port Authority and Bahamas Chamber of Commerce; and Dawnea Brown and Nadia Williams, from the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation.

The chamber representatives met for more than two hours over homemade chocolate chip cookies and coffee before the group departed for a meeting with another chamber in Vermont.

The Bahamas delegation had already met with five chambers in New York and will leave for meetings in Arizona in the coming days.

McCann was encouraged to hear feedback from the group that they were quite impressed with the scope and volume of work that the Northeast Kingdom Chamber does, despite its small staff.

“It made my month to hear one of the women say this was their best meeting yet and another saying that our time together felt more like home than a meeting. It, sincerely, touched me, and I will keep in touch with this delegation,” she said. “I would love to go down and visit them and hope I can at some point in the future.”

At the end, as is customary, the two groups exchanged gifts. The Northeast Kingdom Chamber presented the chamber representatives with fountain pens, a personal gift from the director, and the Bahamas delegation gave the NEK Chamber a large map of the commonwealth, Bahamian chocolates, literature on their regions and a special presentation on the Grand Bahama Port Authority.

“We started with handshakes and departed as friends, hugging,” said McCann. “Isn’t that the way the world is supposed to be?”

Community raises reward money to help solve Westmore moose poaching case

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Westmore

WESTMORE — A Go Fund Me campaign has been started to raise reward money for an unsolved moose poaching case that took place in Westmore.

The campaign was started by Craftsbury Common resident Cindi Bollettieri.

Bollettieri has personally donated $2,000 to the effort, both through the Go Fund Me campaign and to Operation Game Thief, a program that pays rewards to citizens who identify poachers by calling a toll-free number or submitting information online.

A cow moose was shot from the road out of season at night on Saturday, September 23. Vermont’s regulated moose hunting seasons are in October, and are limited to a small number of hunting permits that are allocated through a lottery system.

After the moose was shot, it was attached to a vehicle and dragged on the road more than 11 miles to the town of Orleans. The animal was left by the side of Hollow Road off Route 58 in Orleans.

Officials say the cow moose was lactating, indicating that she likely had a calf with her.

“This action was particularly heinous, so I can understand why people are outraged,” said Col. Jason Batchelder, Vermont’s chief game warden. “The fact that people are giving to this campaign shows that Vermonters will not stand for poaching in our state.”

The fundraising campaign is available at

“These poachers demonstrated tremendous disrespect for the law and for this moose,” said Col. Batchelder. “We’re asking for anyone with information about this incident to come forward so that we can hold the people who did this accountable.”

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