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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 orleanscountysnowmobilers@gmail.com, or kdicarlo@nchsi.org.

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 www.weather.gov/Burlington 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 www.gofundme.com/moose-poacher-reward.

“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.”

Northeast Kingdom Collaborative hires Katherine Sims of Craftsbury as director

in Craftsbury/News/Northeast Kingdom

HARDWICK — The Northeast Kingdom Collaborative announced that they have hired Katherine Sims of Craftsbury as the new Director of the organization.

The NEK Collaborative brings together local, state, and federal partners to advance economic development in communities across the Northeast Kingdom.

As the new director, Sims will work with stakeholders to build regional partnerships to support economic development in communities across the Kingdom.

“The NEK Collaborative is the key convener for the region, mobilizing partners to align, innovate, and act in ways that address current and long-term challenges in the Northeast Kingdom,” Sims said recently. “Working together we have an incredible opportunity to increase the quality of life and enhance the economic vitality of Northeast Kingdom communities. I’m honored and humbled to be a part of this effort, which serves a mission that is so close to my heart.”

Prior to her work at the Collaborative, Sims was the Founder and Executive Director of Green Mountain Farm-to-School, a nonprofit working to improve childhood nutrition and support Vermont farms by connecting schools and farms through food and education.

She has also worked as an independent consultant to nonprofits helping to build their organizations through fundraising plans, leadership development, and succession planning.

Sims was selected as a “Rising Star” by Vermont Business Magazine in 2014 and Yankee Farm Credit’s “100 Fresh Perspectives” in 2016. A graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s in history, she serves on the board of several local and statewide nonprofits and lives in Craftsbury, with her husband and son.

Scott Perkins remembered for career at North Country Hospital

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Recently family, friends and colleagues gathered by North Country Hospital’s wood chip facility to remember Scott Perkins and the many contributions he made during his tenure.

Perkins began working at the hospital when he was 16-years-old and worked his way up the ladder to become second in command in the facilities department over the course of 28 years, until his untimely death last year at the age of 44.

Claudio Fort, President & CEO, spoke about how Perkins was so widely respected, not just for his knowledge and abilities, but for how approachable, insightful and always helpful he was.

“Scott was a compelling example of a servant-leader, even leading from home or his hospital bed on his laptop when his failing health didn’t allow him to physically be at work,” Fort said.

His colleagues in the Facilities Department felt there should be a way to remember him for his longstanding contributions to North Country Hospital.

They designed a plaque and felt the new wood-chip facility would be a fitting place to locate it, as Scott was very involved in the history of the site.

The biomass facility project was championed by former VP Larry Labor, who worked for several years to convince the Board of Trustees to make this investment.

One of his last major projects during his tenure at North Country Hospital was to help design and oversee the construction of the new bin.

Perkins and his contributions to North Country Hospital will long be remembered.

Daigle-Farney joins OCRJ Board of Directors

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Lisa Daigle-Farney recently joined the Board of Directors for the Orleans County Restorative Justice Center.

Daigle-Farney is no stranger to helping her community or to the idea of restorative justice in general.

“I believe my past experience, which is 37 years in the fields of education and human services, has given me the tools I need to serve on the Orleans County Restorative Justice Center Board,” she said. 

Daigle-Farney is a Newport native who has worked with children and families for many years to help them seek the support they need to lead a more successful life. She has taught parenting classes, communication classes, and has served in a number of volunteer capacities.

“My attraction to serving on this board is that I firmly believe in the philosophy of Restorative Justice. I have the utmost respect for the staff that do this work,” she said.

Daigle-Farney has also served on many boards over the years. She has volunteered for Special Olympics, was a volunteer with Citizen’s advocacy for eight years as a mentor for a person with disabilities, and served on the committee for March of Dimes for six years. She has even served on the National Ski Patrol for 25 years.

“Restorative Justice focuses on accountability, responsibility, and reestablishing trust,” Daigle-Farney said. “Educating those who have committed a crime and helping them to restore the damage they have done and to encourage them to mend damaged relationships, is something I am deeply devoted to. I look forward to my new role on the board and to make any contributions that will be an asset to the Restorative process and our community.”

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

Newport suicide walk raises $17,000

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — The 6th annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk took place on Saturday through downtown Newport, hosted by the Vermont chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

Starting at Gardner Memorial Park at 10 a.m., this year 200 walkers raised around $17,000 for AFSP’s local and national education and advocacy programs.

The event in Newport continues to grow, this year attracting around 31 more participants and raising $1,200 more than last year.

The walk on Saturday was just one of more than 450 walks held nationwide this year.

Each year 44,193 Americans die by suicide. In 2015, 494,169 people visited a hospital for injuries due to self-harm. Many suicide attempts, however, go unreported or untreated.

Surveys suggest that at least one million people in the U.S. each year engage in intentionally inflicted self-harm.

“We walk to raise awareness about this important health issue,” said Linda Livendale, AFSP Vermont chapter board chair. “Suicide touches one in five American families. We hope that by walking we save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.”

The group’s goal is to reduce the annual rate of suicide 20 percent by 2025.

NorthWoods’ Watershed Crew tackles water quality in the NEK

in Charleston/News/Northeast Kingdom

EAST CHARLESTON — This summer NorthWoods Stewardship Center welcomed the Watershed Crew to their multi-faceted Conservation Corps program.

This crew was tasked with completing projects in Vermont’s watersheds to improve water quality. The crew topped off their six-week water quality improvement program on Friday, August 4, with an impressive display of spirit, fortitude, and grit at the end-of-season Conservation Corps Field Day.

“Having this crew on the ground has been a huge opportunity for the community and for NWSC,” said Conservation Corps Director Ross Stevens. “By funding this 6-week jobs program, the crew was able to focus on implementing Best Management Practices or BMPs, to improve water quality, mostly on public land.”

Water quality BMPs include structures such as water bars, open top culverts, swales, infiltration steps, rain gardens, and buffers.

These practices are designed to slow the momentum of water as it runs across erodible surfaces and encourage it to enter the ground as soon as possible.

This can help to prevent erosion which is the root of so many of Vermont’s major water quality issues.

Over the course of the program, the crew completed a total of 17 infiltration steps, 9 open-top culverts, 3 rain gardens, and a bridge. Additionally, they built swales, retention ponds, and many water bars.

Project partners included the Towns of Danville, Glover, and Burke, Lyndon State College, Lyndon Institute, the Maidstone Lake Association, The Essex County and Caledonia County Natural Resources Conservation Districts, the Shadow Lake Association, the LakeWise Program, and the Nectar Landscape Design Studio.
Funding for the crew and their projects comes from an Ecosystem Restoration Program Grant from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VT DEC).

The NorthWoods Stewardship Center’s Conservation Corps program has a 22-year history of employing local youth to work on priority conservation projects in communities throughout the region with a special focus on the northeast kingdom.

The Corps builds and improves hiking trails, manages exotic invasive species, plants riparian buffers, and improves wildlife habitat, and supports ecosystem resilience.

I-91 North shutdown after tractor-trailer catches fire in Glover

in Barton/Glover/Lyndonville/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

GLOVER — A tractor-trailer fire caused a section of I-91 North to be shutdown this afternoon.

At around 1:00 p.m. rescue crews were dispatched to the fire in the vicinity of mile-marker 153 on I-91 North in the town of Glover.

When police arrived they say the truck was in the roadway, on fire.

The driver, identified as Barry Provoncha, 48, of Derby, was seen by Barton Ambulance but refused treatment.

The northbound lanes of the interstate are currently closed between exits 24 in Lyndon and 25 in Barton.

Vehicles are having to exit the interstate at exit 24 and use the detour along Route 5 while the roadway is cleared.

Howard Mosher tribute tour coming to Derby Line

DERBY LINE — Vermont filmmaker Jay Craven will hit the road this summer for a series of film screenings and personal reflections to pay tribute to his 30-year collaborator, Northeast Kingdom writer, Howard Frank Mosher.

He will screen his film and present reflections on his work with Mosher on Monday, August 21, at 7 p.m. at the Haskell Opera House in Derby Line.

“Howard Mosher died pretty unexpectedly in late January,” Craven said. “And many Vermonters already miss him for his laugh-out-loud humor and fertile imagination of our place. Writers miss him, too, because no one was more generous with his time and support.”

Craven will open each evening with prepared and off-the-cuff reflections, “My Life, So Far, With Howard,” that explores his long collaboration with Mosher.

He will then present a 25th Anniversary screening of his first Mosher feature film, “Where the Rivers Flow North,” starring Academy Award nominee Rip Torn, Native American actress Tantoo Cardinal, and Michael J. Fox.

“Howard was much more than a source for our film stories and characters,” said Craven. “He was also a constant ally, a ready source of laughs, and a steadying influence in times of strain. This was especially crucial during our struggles with headstrong actor Rip Torn on the filming of Rivers. I will tell a few tales that have not been publically shared before—because they capture a rarely seen side of Howard and his work.”

Set in 1927 in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, “Where the Rivers Flow North” tells the story of an old logger, Noel Lord, and his Native American mate, Bangor, who face the extinction of their way of life when the local power company plans to build a giant hydro dam that will flood them off their land. Lord and Bangor face emotional and physical challenges as they struggle with the power company, Vermont’s unforgiving terrain, and their own thorny relationship.

“Where the Rivers Flow North” played more than thirty festival dates including Sundance, Seattle, Avignon, Vienna, and Vancouver.

Special screenings include The Smithsonian, Lincoln Center, and Harvard Film Archive. The picture was also one of three U.S. finalists for Critics Week, Cannes International Film Festival.

The Mosher Tribute tour is produced by Kingdom County Productions with sponsorship support from Vermont Public Radio.

  • 10-km-start-2.jpg
    Photo by Phil White.

Kingdom Swim 2017 welcomes swimmers from all over the Americas

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — Over the weekend, Lake Memphremagog welcomed open water swimmers and “yackers” to the 9th Annual Kingdom Swim.

They came from 25 different states, two Canadian provinces, and Argentina, with ages ranging from 10 to 74.

This year’s swim was underwritten by North Country Hospital.

Sandra Frimerman-Berquist, age 34 of Excelsior, MN, smashed the record for the 25 km, Border Buster with a time of 5:49:55, leading a record number of 30 swimmers to complete the event.

Winning among the men was Stephen Rouch, 37, of Indianapolis, IN, who finished with a time of 6:25:48.

Stealing the show was 13-year-old, Vera Rivard, of Springfield, NH, who came in third among the females and fifth overall, with a time of 7:15:33. She is the youngest ever to complete the Border Buster.

The “most mature” to complete the Buster was Dan Shaub, 68, of Baltimore Maryland, with a time of 9:58:59. He and his local “yacker” Pam Ladds sported a combined age of 136.

The Busters headed out at 6:00 a.m. with mist rising from the lake after a cold night, but had the benefit of light tail winds from the south as they headed north and then from the north as they headed south back from Canada.

One of the purposes of this cross-border swim is to promote a more open border. This year everyone celebrated a change in Canadian rules that now coincides with US rules that you don’t need to report at the crossing if you don’t touch Canadian soil or a Canadian boat.

Taking home walking sticks, hand-carved by Bill Peck of Derby, in the WOWSA 10 Mile Championship were Anthony Szmul, 24, of Queensbury, NY (4:36:57) and Emily Boerger, 22 of Kingston, MA (4:47:54).

Margaret Rivard, age 10, of Springfield, NH, became the youngest to complete the 10-mile course which she did with a time of 5:50:12, placing her in the middle of the pack.

Eric Nilsson, 30, of Cambridge, MA, returned for another year, and claimed the crown as king of the 10 km with his blistering time of 2:03:34. Eric is one of the fastest swimmers to ply the waters of Lake Memphremagog .

Winning among the women was Rachel Horgan, 31, of Atkinson, NH, with a time of 2:23:56.

Kevin Jaubert, 45, of Towson, MD finished second. He’s one of two “lifers” who have swum in every single Kingdom Swim since it was started in 2009.

In the 5-km distance, it was a battle of east and west among the women, with Elizabeth Mancuso, 31, of Boston, MA, (1:09:49) fending off Ali Hall, 55, of San Francisco, CA (1:15:24).

Winning among the men was Lawton Harper, 50, of North Conway, NH, with a time of 1:23:13.

Laura Maliewski, 47, of Westmore, VT kept her streak alive as a “Lifer.”

In the 1-mile swim, Luke Nicholas, 14, of Mesa, AZ, gunned down Stephen Rouch, 37, of Indianapolis, IN, with a winning time of 0:19:28. But then, Stephen had just finished the Border Buster and was still hungry for one more mile in mighty Memphremagog before the day was done.

Luke’s dad, Kent Nicholas, narrowly missed the chance to swim the one-mile course with his son, completing the Border Buster in 8:25:15, just 25 minutes after the start of the 1 mile.

Among the females, Gayla Chalmers of Athens, GA, took first place with her time of 0:26:20.

Lilly Jaubert, 12, of Towson, MD won the miler among the female youth.

Winning in the ¼ was 10-year-old Claire Jaubert, of Towson, MD and Rex Lord, 11, of Bloomfield, NJ.

Prizes of Brault’s Beef Jerky and Couture’s Maple Syrup were offered up to the winners in each race, with jerky to the 2nd and third place finishers.

Music for the weekend was provided by Patti Casey and Tom Mackenzie on Friday evening, Kingdom Dixie and DJ Rena Demeo, during the swim, and by The Hitman at the Pig Roast and Party at Prouty after the swim.

  • DSC_0245-001-2.jpg
    Photo by Phil White.

Another swimmer goes the 25-mile distance between Newport and Magog

in Magog/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Last week Charlotte Brynn swam the 25-mile distance on Lake Memphremagog between Magog, Quebec, and Newport, Vermont, in 13 hours and 28 minutes.

She left the public beach in Magog at 5:33 a.m., arriving at 7:01 p.m. at Newport City Dock.

Brynn is a New Zealander currently living in Stowe, where she works as director of the Swimming Hole.

Brynn chose to swim north to south, in the face of a slight current against her and head winds that rose to 10 to 12 mph on occasion.

The winds were calm during the start and calmed again during the last few hours of her swim. Water temperature at the surface was 72 to 73 F throughout the swim. The air temperature was in the 60s at the start of the swim but rose into the 80s in the afternoon.

Cynthia Needham, of Hyde Park, served as crew for Brynn in the escort boat, Django, a handmade 16’ wooden dory, piloted by Phil White of Kingdom Games.

This was the second time Brynn has swum the 25-mile distance on Lake Memphremagog. She was one of four swimmers to complete the inaugural “In Search of Memphre” in 2011.

Brynn is a well-known and accomplished ultra-marathon swimmer, having swum the 28 miles around Manhattan, crossed the Catalina Channel in California, and double crossing Lake Champlain.

Last year she established swims from Newport to Skinner Island and Smugglers Cave, and from Newport around Ile Ronde.

In 2016 she was inducted into the Vermont Open Water Swimming Hall of Fame.

Local students recognized for land stewardship

NEWPORT — Each year, the Vermont Land Trust gives out the Land Stewards Award to qualified juniors and seniors who attend vocational and technical high schools across the state.

The students are nominated by their teachers because of their commitment to agriculture and/or forestry.

This year, local students Carter Aldrich and Parker Castle received the award and a $250 cash prize from Vermont Land Trust representatives.

Aldrich, from Brownington, and a student at Lake Region Union High School, led his class maple sugaring field trip and planned activities for a crew of eight students who boiled sap in a small arch evaporator the class made.

He is involved with his family’s business, Northeast Agricultural Sales, Inc. He has also been the president of the Lake Region FFA chapter for two years.

Aldrich has excelled in his agriculture classes, including shop, art of welding, diversified agriculture, and sustainable living.

Thinking toward the future, he would like to attend Paul Smith’s College to become a game warden or continue his family’s agricultural sales business.

Parker Castle, from Holland, is a student at North Country Career Center. He is involved with his family’s sugaring operation, and took a lead role this year in all aspects of production, from tapping to boiling.

He is a Nordic skier and maintains and grooms trails on his family’s land. He wants to obtain his pilot’s license and hopes to use this skill in a forestry career. He will be attending Paul Smith’s College this fall to study forestry.

Castle is also a part of the local FFA club, participating in fundraisers, community suppers, and the State FFA Convention.

He recently joined his Natural Resources teacher, Mr. Sam Nijensohn, and fellow students for a Vermont Forest Products Association regional meeting.

“Parker is a great role model,” wrote Mr. Nijensohn. “He spends a lot of extra time at school whenever the need or opportunity arises to help make his class successful. For example, he has come in on his own time to plow snow and to boil sap.”

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    Abigail Jacobs makes sure everything is just right with her cap before the NEKLS graduation ceremony. Jacobs was one of 72 people who graduated after working through NEKLS’ High School Completion Program. Graduates ranged in age from upper teens to their 60’s.

72 receive high school diplomas through NEKLS

in News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Although only 18 students from around the NEK chose to take part in the cap and gown ceremony at Lyndon State College on June 29th, 66 NEK residents, ranging in age from their upper teens to their 60’s, received high school diplomas after entering and completing the “High School Completion Program” through Northeast Kingdom Learning Services (NEKLS).

Executive Director Michelle Tarryk spoke to the packed room of well-wishers and the 18 present graduates, reading a letter out loud from one of the grateful students opted out of the ceremony only because she doesn’t care for occasions that place her in the limelight:

“I never thought I would have been a student at this fine establishment and had fate not intervened, I would never have had the opportunities provided me by the center. The dedication of the staff is why students succeed. I have lived in this area for over 30 years and until recently I did not know this wonderful program existed. The program and its advisors offered me hope, change, and challenge, three vital components for a successful life. Life is not a series of simple steps; it is complicated and demanding. There are times we want to give up and settle for mediocrity, like I did, but, this school showed me the path that leads out and away of that uninspired style of thought,” the student wrote and Tarryk shared.

The graduate continued, “Thanks to NEKLS, I have a new job, career path, and plans to continue post- secondary education. My gratitude is heartfelt; thank you one and all. To all who are seeking a better life, NEKLS can provide you with footing so you are able to take those first steps toward creating a great life for yourself. We are evolving, never settle, seek knowledge, make mistakes. It’s how we learn and grow. Again, thank you from my heart. May this fine school continue to be the beacon for our community.”

Before introducing other speakers, Tarryk set that graduate’s letter down and gestured to the graduates present.

“Here are eighteen of seventy-two life stories that are being changed as we speak,” she said.

This is the first time NEKLS had one summer graduation ceremony for students working with NEKLS teachers all across the NEK.

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    Photo by Phil White.

Open water swimming season underway in the Northeast Kingdom

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

NEWPORT — Thirteen open water swimmers participated in this year’s “Son of a Swim,” as the open water swimming season gets underway in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.

Vera Rivard, 13, of Springfield, New Hampshire, and Derby, led the pack on Lake Memphremagog, completing the 6-mile distance in 2:45:29.

Her younger sister, Margaret, age 10, just back from a broken arm, completed the 2-mile swim in 1:05:12.

Scott Machinist, 37, of Island Pond, posted 1:49:30 in the 4-mile distance.

Water temperatures were 67 degrees. Skies were cloudy, with some scattered rain showers throughout the day.

Upcoming events hosted by Kingdom Games and the Northeast Kingdom Open Water Swimming Association will be Kingdom Swim, on July 29, NEK Swim Week on August 12 through 20, and In Search of Memphre on September 11.

State officials say escaped elk may have to be shot

in Derby/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

DERBY — Vermont Fish and Wildlife officials are saying that if they are unable to recapture the 16 elk that have been on the run since escaping their pasture in Derby last weekend, they may have to be shot.

The animals are posing a risk to people and a disease risk to other wildlife in the area, they say.

The primary threat to the public is that they could wander onto a highway and be hit by a vehicle. Although a much lower risk, the animals could also introduce chronic wasting disease into Vermont’s deer population.

State officials have been working with owner Doug Nelson to recapture the animals. They have already been spotted several miles from their enclosure near the Cow Palace in Derby.

Officials have not set a specific time limit to recapturing the elk before resorting to other measures, which includes the possibility of shooting them, but say that bringing them back alive is still their primary goal.

At this time there is no indication any of the elk have crossed into Canada, however, they have been spotted close to the border a few times.

Elk herd on the loose in Derby

in Derby/News/Northeast Kingdom

DERBY — The search is on in Derby for a variety of non-native elk that escaped their pasture by the Cow Palace on Sunday.

Some of the elk, who belong to Doug Nelson, returned on their own shortly after being let out.

Others have been spotted roaming, and swimming around the area, with pictures almost immediately popping up on Facebook timelines.

Wardens from Vermont Fish and Wildlife say they are aware of the situation and are working with Nelson to retrieve the animals.

The elk herd is somewhat of a landmark in the area, often photographed by visitors to the Cow Palace restaurant.

One of the dishes on the Cow Palace menu is elk sirloin.

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    Travis Blake, Tara Patten and Brandon Malshuk discuss distribution of the Overdose and Awareness and Memorial Walk Posters.

Walking in Newport to remember, prevent, inspire and educate

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — There will be an “Overdose Awareness and Memorial Walk” in Newport on June 24, from 1-4, starting at the Newport Gazebo in Gardener Park. The walk is only part of the event, however. It will also include speakers, information on and connection to support available in the area, the continued creation of a memory board, and a Chinese lantern release along with music, pizza and other refreshments.

There were 108 overdoses in the state of Vermont in 2016, with 104 of those being Vermonters. They are sobering numbers.

“All these lost lives were real lives. Real human beings,” thirty-year-old Travis Blake said.

Blake is one of the volunteers who helped organize the event. He is also in recovery from addiction after finding a mix of support that works for him. He wants to send the message of awareness that addiction can kill, but he also wants people to know that there are many paths to recovery, and sometimes it takes some looking around and trying different options.

The point is, he said, there are forms of support out there. There is hope.

Another organizer and volunteer, Tara Patten, helped begin “NEK Stands Strong” after her best friend, Charlie Buckland, died from an overdose. It’s a trauma that is burned into her heart.

“It was three years ago this December – not long before Christmas. December 19th,” she murmured.

The schedule stays true to the dualistic message of loss and hope combined. There will also be T-shirts and bracelets for sale to benefit NEK Stands Strong and its events.

“We aren’t a nonprofit, but the proceeds will be held by Journey to Recovery on our behalf,” Patten explained.

The event is open to the entire community, and participants don’t need to be facing addiction to take part.

“It’s something that touches everyone in one way or another,” Brandon Malshuk said. Blake added that there will be many volunteers to help and answer questions.

“We’ll be wearing the purple shirts, so we’ll be easy to see. Any path to recovery is a good path. Everyone’s life matters.”

For more information on the walk, please call the Journey to Recovery Center at 802-624-4156.

Summer Block Party in Newport kicks off summer and free lunches

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — The 4th Annual Summer Block Party will be held at Gardner Park in Newport, on Thursday, June 22 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The afternoon will feature free food for all kids 18-years-old and younger from the Lunchbox food truck, family-friendly games and activities such as dancing and face painting, and a fun-run around the park.

The Summer Block Party is hosted by Green Mountain Farm-to-School and Newport Parks and Recreation.

“The Summer Block Party is an opportunity for us to say thank you to the community for all of their support while also letting them know that the Lunchbox will be serving free lunches to kids again this summer,” says James Hafferman, executive director of Green Mountain Farm-to-School.

The activities for the fun afternoon are organized by over a dozen community organizations that are participating in the event. United Church of Newport will be doing a sing-along and games, the Wellness Center of North Country Hospital will be doing dance and zumba, and Let’s Grow Kids will have life-sized Legos, to only name a few.

The event is also sponsored by various business throughout the region.

“The support of many different organizations and businesses make the Summer Block Party possible,” says Hafferman. “We are lucky to have such a caring community that comes together to make a fun, family-friendly event like this possible for everyone.”

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    All photos by Phil White.
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Local riders win the Moose

in Derby/Newport/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — Randy Durivage and Laurie Durivage of Derby, defended home turf and won this year’s Moose, a 103 mile “timed event” that runs through Caledonia and Essex Counties.

Randy Durivage, 54, shared the title of King of the Moose with Julian Grijns, 42, of Westport, CT, both finishing with a time of 5 hours 33 minutes and 30 seconds.

Laurie Durivage claimed her title as Queen of the Moose with a time of 5 hours, 50 minutes and 55 seconds.

The Moose starts at Mike’s Tiki Bar in East Burke. Cyclists have to tap the bar at the finish. It runs up Route 114 to Island Pond, Norton, and Canaan, Down the Connecticut River on Route 102, back to Island Pond on Route 105, and down to East Burke on Route 114.

Second and third among the women were Fran Plaisted, 53, of Orford, NH (6:07:50) and Carrie Nourjian, 64, of Stowe, (6:08:23).

Tied for third place among the men were Jake McLoughlin, 27, of Lyme, NH, Michael Fogg, 57 of Norwich, and Benjamin Williams, 43, of Thetford, all with times of 5:57:53.

Each of the male and female winners claimed a 6 pack of day tickets to Burke Mountain, a quart of Couture’s Maple Syrup, and a half pound of Brault’s beef jerky.

This year, seven teams competed in the Team Challenge, KVG, Upper Valley Velo, Team Ottawa, Flatlanders, Vermonters, Onion River Sports and Burke Mountain Academy.

The Upper Valley Velo narrowly edged out KVG.

The Moose is one of the three days of riding in the June Tour de Kingdom, which also includes a guided ride around Lake Memphremagog on Friday and a Lake Region ride on Sunday.

About 50 cyclists participated in the weekend, traveling from Ontario, New Jersey, Illinois, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and all around Vermont.

Newport Police leaders recognized by New England Narcotic Officers Association

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Two members of the Newport Police Department were recognized for their roles assisting with the arrest of more than two dozen individuals in Orleans County on drug charges earlier this year.

Chief Seth DiSanto and Sgt. Travis Bingham were recognized by the New England Narcotic Officers Association last week for their contributions to a Vermont Drug Task Force operation that included 79 controlled drug purchases and 87 charges—including the sale of heroin, the sale of crack cocaine and aiding in the commission of a felony—against 32 individuals throughout Orleans County.

Of those arrested, 25 were Newport residents.

The arrests, which all came on Feb. 14, were the result of a months-long investigation that would not have been possible without the cooperation of numerous law enforcement agencies, including the Newport Police Department and Vermont Drug Task Force.

Chief DiSanto and Sgt. Bingham, along with Orleans County State’s Attorney Jennifer Barrett, were recognized late last month with the Henry “Hank” Haverkoch Memorial Award, which is named in honor of the late Bennington Police Department officer who is remembered for his unwavering commitment to keeping the youth of his community drug free.

“I am proud of everyone who was involved in this operation, which stands as a great example of what is possible when law enforcement agencies collaborate and work together,” Chief DiSanto said. “These deadly drugs pose a serious threat to our community and we will remain committed to holding dealers accountable for their actions.”

Howard Frank Mosher’s personal book collection to be housed at Leach Public Library

in Arts and Entertainment/Irasburg/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

IRASBURG — The Irasburg Selectboard and the Trustees of the Leach Public Library have announced an Open House to introduce and honor the Howard Frank Mosher book collection, to be housed at the library.

The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, June 2, at the library, located on the Irasburg Common.

The Open House will immediately precede a 2 p.m. memorial service for the beloved Irasburg author, to be held at the Irasburg United Church.

Howard Frank Mosher died on January 29, 2017, at his Irasburg home.

In December 2016, Mosher sent “A Christmas Letter to Irasburg’s Library Trustees and Select Board,” donating his book collection to the library.

“What an honor it is,” Mosher wrote in his letter, “to present my beloved personal book collection to the Leach Memorial Library in Irasburg, where my still-more-beloved Phillis and I have lived for forty very happy years. Here in this northern Vermont town founded in 1781 by Ethan Allen’s brother Ira, Phillis and I have made our home for most of our adult lives, raised our children, and caught (way too many) trout (brookies, browns, and rainbows, but mainly brookies). Here, too, is where I’ve written most of my fourteen books, including mu 1989 novel A Stranger in the Kingdom, inspired by the so-called “Irasburg Incident” of 1968. To this day, A Stranger in the Kingdom is probably my best known book, though my own favorite is Northern Borders.”

The donated collection includes several matched sets of the classics, including a set of Shakespeare’s works inherited from Mosher’s grandfather and a set of the works of Dickens previously owned by longtime Irasburg librarian Doris Alexander. Also included are books about the Lewis and Clark expedition and books on slavery and the civil war that the author used in research for two of his novels.

“I love to write,” Mosher concluded his December donation letter. “Always have. And Irasburg and the Kingdom have been a treasure trove of stories. But I live to read. I like thinking that, in the future, some aspiring young storywriter may pick up some of these books and, as I have, find them inspiring and helpful.”

Leach Library Director Laurie Holland echoed Mosher’s view.

“We look forward to introducing aspiring young story writers, and everyone else, to Howard’s extraordinary book collection,” she said.

Refreshments will be served at the Open House.

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    Ms. Damsell surveying planting surviorship at a Riparian Restoration Project along the Black River in Craftsbury. In 2016 the Orleans County Conservation District completed planting projects on over ½ mile, with 1,000 trees planted to restore riparian forest along the Black River.

Damsell leads Orleans County Conservation District

in News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors

NEWPORT — Sarah Damsell marks her first year as the new District Manager of the Orleans County Natural Resources Conservation District.

Damsell comes to the Conservation District after working as an Agriculture Resource Specialist for the Vermont Association Conservation Districts for three years and the Conservation District Manager in Essex County for over two years.

She brings a passion for conservation coupled with a deep understanding of current agricultural and land use challenges. Her background working in the conservation field, vegetable and dairy farms, and for seven years as an Organic Farm Inspector for the National Organic Farm Association of Vermont, provides her with the intimate knowledge to engage with local farmers and landowners, understand their challenges, and aid them in completing conservation projects on their land with a key goal of improving water quality.

Over the last year, Damsell began working with a variety of partners to reduce nutrient runoff into Lake Memphremagog, as part of a Regional Conservation Project working with the State of Vermont and a variety of local partners. This work is funded through a federal grant and includes working with local farmers to develop conservation and nutrient management plans, and helping farmers access funds to implement projects to reduce nutrient runoff and erosion.

She is also organizing an areaway rental program used to reduce soil compaction while increasing soil health and improving water and nutrient filtration.

In 2016, the areaway rental program was used on 947 acres in Orleans County.

Damsell’s work does not stop with farms, as she also is working with the towns of Derby and Coventry to complete road erosion and structure inventories to better understand how to improve municipal road infrastructure to reduce runoff into our waterways. She has also been working in the forests, planting trees along the Black River in Craftsbury to restore riparian habitat and re-connect wildlife travel corridors along the river, as well as organizing a portable skidder bridge rental program to help local loggers minimize runoff into waterways while working in the woods.

Her work in 2017 will continue much of the work of the past year, striving to assist local landowners in conservation our natural resources. This spring, the Conservation District will also be offering a tree and shrub sale to landowners, where trees and native shrubs can be purchased for spring wildlife and conservation planting.

In addition, in May the Conservation District is hosting Conservation Field Day for local 4th & 5th graders at the Randall farm in Troy.

In Orleans County, the Conservation District operates as a local non-profit with close affiliations with both state and federal agencies, creating the unique position to effectively connect farmers, municipalities, state agencies, local schools, and landowners across the county.

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

Taste the flavors of the NEK at the 9th annual Taste of the Kingdom

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — The 9th Annual Taste of the Kingdom, a fundraising event held by Green Mountain Farm-to-School (GMFTS), will be taking place on March 1 beginning at 6 p.m. at Jay Peak Resort’s Foeger Ballroom.

Tickets are on sale now and available for purchase online.

Guests will be treated to the delicious creations of over 20 featured Northeast Kingdom chefs, farmers, and brewers, such as Kingdom Brewing, Burke Mountain Confectionery, Barn First goat cheese, Jay Village Inn, and so much more. There will also be live music and a silent auction featuring NEK-area businesses.

“The Taste of the Kingdom is an evening of celebration where friends and family can come together to enjoy the thriving local food scene in the Northeast Kingdom,” said James Hafferman, executive director, GMFTS. “We love bringing together all these top farm and food producers from the region and giving people the opportunity to meet and mingle with them.”

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

The support from the community will help to ensure that the organization can continue planting school gardens, teaching students about nutrition and agriculture, serving free meals during the summer through the Lunchbox food truck, and connecting area farmers with local institutions to increase their economic viability through their regional food hub, Green Mountain Farm Direct.

“The Taste of the Kingdom is a great opportunity for the community to enjoy some of the delicious flavors found throughout the Northeast Kingdom while also supporting the work of connecting farms, schools, and communities through food and education,” said Shane Rogers, communications and development coordinator for GMFTS.

For more information on the 9th Annual Taste of the Kingdom or to purchase tickets, follow this link.

Police warning Orleans County residents of phone scam

in Albany/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Police are warning of a phone scam that cost a local man $1,500.

On Tuesday police say they received a call from a resident of Albany stating that he was the victim of fraud.

The victim told police that a man, who identifies himself as “William Keeley,” called his residence stating he was providing legal aid for one of his friends.

Keeley told the victim that his friend was in a car accident and was currently in police custody. He went on to ask him to send over $1,500.00 through Walmart in order to bail out his friend.

Once the money was sent, police say Keeley called back stating there were complications with the incident and that more money was required in order to pay for bail.

Police are alerting the public to this scam, and say it is being used across the area to fraudulently gain money from unsuspecting individuals.

“If you receive a phone call with someone using a similar scenario, do not send them any money. As always be sure to confirm the identity of any individuals asking for money over the phone,” a statement issued by police reads.

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