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Newport police investigating counterfeit $100 bills

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NEWPORT — The Newport Police Department says they are actively investigating incidents involving counterfeit money, and are encouraging business owners to take care to ensure cash they receive is authentic.

The department, along with the United States Secret Service is actively investigating several cases in which counterfeit $100 bills were provided to area businesses.

Community National Back posted a warning on Facebook last week that the counterfeit money detector pens are not working on these bills.

“Our officers are working in close partnership with the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies to identify whoever is responsible for these counterfeit notes so that they may be held accountable,” Newport Police Chief Seth DiSanto said.

Community National Back says that although the counterfeit bills that are circulating in our area are $100.00 bill denominations, any bill, regardless of denomination, could be fake.

Police: East Charleston man facing attempting to elude and negligent operation charges

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DERBY — State police say a 65-year-old man from East Charleston is facing charges of attempting to elude after an incident in Derby on Tuesday.

According to the report, Alan Crowe was traveling east on Vermont Route 111.

Police say his blue Chrysler sedan was seen traveling at speeds estimated in excess of 65 miles per hour, passing vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

The speed limit in that area is 35 miles per hour.

Trooper Daniel Lynch says he turned around to pull Crowe over with lights and sirens activated and that he continued west at a high rate of speed.

“The vehicle failed to stop or signal at the stop sign at the Main Street intersection by the Derby Village Store, turning north and continuing without stopping at a high rate of speed, passing residences and North Country Union Junior High,” trooper Lynch said in a statement.

Upon reaching traffic at the intersection of Route 5 and Main Street, Crowe was stopped.

He is being charged with negligent operation, attempting to elude police, as well as civil violations.

Celebrate the Arts in March at First Universalist Parish of Derby Line

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DERBY LINE — First Universalist Parish of Derby Line’s March line up of speakers and events focus on celebrating what the arts bring to the human experience.

Each Sunday service begins at 10:00 a.m.

On Sunday, March 3, Andrew Bouchard, the producer/promoter of Borderline Entertainment will explore the importance DIY music has on creating community, supporting people in finding meaning and direction in life, and at times inciting the next musical revolution.

On Friday, March 8, at 6:00 p.m., the film Reinventing Power will be shown in the Fellowship Hall.

The film takes viewers across the country to hear directly from the people making our clean energy future achievable.

The Sierra Club and Lt. Gov. Mark Zuckerman will be in attendance to facilitate the discussion and answer questions following the 50-minute film.

Dinner will begin at 6:00 p.m.

On Sunday, March 10, service will be a celebration of the artists within the community, whether that is writing, song, poetry, baking, pottery, photography, or carving.

Many different artists will share their work and inspirations in a gallery setting.

Sunday, March 17, guest speaker Ceilidh Galloway-Kane from WonderArts in Greensboro, will speak about how WonderArts works to provide access to arts and culture and how these enable community members to connect, reflect, inspire, and thrive.

Finally, on Sunday, March 24, there will be two special events.

First, at 10:00 a.m. there will be a children’s service.

This service will have the youngest members of First Universalist Parish taking the lead in song, story, movement, crafts, and cooking.

Second, on the 24, at 4:00 p.m., Mark Violette will be showcasing some of his music intertwined with his musical musings as a pianist.

This concert is open to the public and admission is by donation.

Donations are going to support the ongoing efforts of concerts in the NEK as well as support the introduction of a new concert worthy piano in the hall.

Everyone is invited to come join in the dialogue, soak up high-quality music, and celebrate the arts all month long.

Programming for youth occurs during each Sunday service.

For more information, visit www.derbylineuu.org.

Newport police looking for man charged with armed robbery

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NEWPORT — Police in Newport say they are charging a man in connection with an assault and robbery that occurred on Thursday.

Lucas Putvain, 31, of Newport is charged with assault and robbery, unlawful restraint in the first degree, armed with a deadly weapon while committing a crime, and operating on a criminally suspended license

Putvain also has three active warrants and has been wanted since June.

Police say at around 4:00 a.m. on Thursday, they received a report that a man was robbed at gunpoint while at his residence on Eastern Avenue.

The victim told police that Putvain and another suspect, both of whom were known to him, had approached him in his driveway, ordered him to get into their vehicle, and then held him at gunpoint.

Putvain allegedly drove the vehicle south on Coventry Street and then onto Pleasant Street where he demanded the victim to give him money before he was pushed out of the vehicle.

The vehicle then took off in the direction of Conventry.

According to police, a warrant for his arrest will be requested.

Police also say that Putvain should be considered dangerous and should not be approached.

Anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts is asked to contact Newport Police at 802-334-6733.

North Country only hospital in Vermont to receive healthcare IT recognition

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NEWPORT — Hospitals and healthcare systems across the U.S. are using information technology (IT) to improve the delivery of care to patients.

The College of Healthcare Information Executives, known as CHIME, recently named North Country Hospital as one of Healthcare’s Most Wired.

The honor, which is given to hospitals that are at the forefront of using healthcare IT to improve the delivery of care, was announced at the Fall 2018 forum in San Diego.

This makes the third consecutive year that North Country Hospital has received this recognition.

This is the first year that CHIME oversaw the Most Wired program.

The group revised and streamlined the survey to make sure questions reflect leading practices and successful, innovative uses of technology.

Other changes include creating a new scoring methodology, setting a higher threshold to become a recipient.

As a result of these more rigorous standards, North Country Hospital was the only hospital in Vermont that was recognized as Most Wired 2018.

“The evaluation and scoring changes speak volumes to North Country Hospital receiving this recognition for the third time,” said Chief Operating Officer, Tom Frank. “We have a fantastic team of skilled experts in information technology here, and with every project, they take the time and detailed analysis essential for the best outcomes.”

IT has changed dramatically over the past 15 to 20 years, as has the role of the managers who oversee the technology and support staff at their respective healthcare organizations.

In this new age, they must be strategic and visionary leaders, who with their teams, can transform healthcare and continue to improve patient outcomes.

One of the additional benefits of being a recipient of this honor is that each awarded healthcare organization receives a benchmark report with their overall score and a breakdown in each section of the survey, which can be used as a strength and gap analysis tool.

“Most Wired is a great way for us to see how North Country Hospital compares to organizations across the country, and to identify ways that we can further use IT to improve patient services,” noted Kate Pierce, Executive Director of IT/Informatics.

In the summer of 2018, North Country replaced three main medical record systems with a single integrated system, called athenahealth.

This move was instrumental in ensuring that North Country Hospital can continue to meet technological advances in the healthcare industry for 2019 and beyond.

“Our patients deserve the best care possible, and we are excited to partner with Athena to take our organization to the next level,” Pierce said.

Lyster recognized for outstanding community service

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WESTFIELD — Community National Bank’s Troy Office Supervisor Julie Marquis and Marketing Assistant Anne Quirion recently presented Denny Lyster with the bank’s Community Service Award.

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

Lyster is an active member of the Troy and Area Lions Club. He joined the club in 2001 and has served as the club’s Secretary and Treasurer for several years. As a club member, he plays an instrumental role at the meal site in Westfield.

He coordinates the staff schedule, puts together the menu and orders supplies. The meal site serves around 40 meals each week to area seniors and residents.

Lyster has also coordinated Lions Vision Screenings at Jay/Westfield, Troy, Newport Center and Lowell schools.

Over the years hundreds of screenings have been provided and several potential vision problems identified.

Lyster helps area youth by participating in the Grateful Treads Mountain Bike Club and has been instrumental in raising hundreds of dollars through the Lions Club Texas Hold’em Tournament fundraising initiatives which directly benefit area youth.

He is always ready to help with special celebrations hosted by the club and is often found cooking or helping to organize events.

His good nature, warm smile and willingness to roll up his sleeves to help those around him have certainly made our community a better place.

Community National Bank says they are proud to present Denny Lyster with the bank’s Community Service Award for the second quarter of 2018.

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

Lyster has requested that his donation is made to the Troy and Area Lions Club.

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

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    All photos by Phil White.
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Young runners shine at Dandy 2018

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DERBY — This year’s Dandy saw beautiful weather, fields halfway to peak, some powerful running, and a lot of great buddy running and walking groups out on the courses.

Dandy lovers came from all over Vermont, Florida, California, Texas, Illinois, Georgia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island. New Hampshire, Quebec, and Ontario to run and walk on dirt roads and celebrate high spring in the world famous dandelion fields of Derby, Morgan, and Holland.

Jennifer Johnson, 39, of Bethlehem, NH crushed the half marathon with a time of 1:33;04.

But, just a minute behind her was 14-year-old, James Cilwik, of Derby, with an equally staggering time of 1:34:42, edging out seasoned runners like Scott Gilman, 25, of Cambridge, MA, Jess Monago, 32, of Burlington, and John Raser, 39, of St. Johnsbury.

Cilwik’s running was fearless, using Johnson to pace himself and staying with her the entire way for the overall win among the males.

There were three other youngsters running the half marathon.

Chase Brainard, 14, of Derby Line, (3:15:41) and Arlo Moses, 14, of Newport, (3:15;42) finished just ahead of Michael Wooton, Jr. 13, of Waterville, (3:22:58).

Aleksei Bingham, 18, of Derby, three-peated the 10k course with another blistering time of 0:35:55, just a few seconds slower than the course record which he set last year.

Hillary DeLabruere, 31, of Colchester won among the females with a time of 0:50:26.

Also taking on the 10k, were Alan Esposito, Jr., 11, of West Charleston, finishing `14th among the males with a time or 1:03:28, Riley Frasier, 10, of Newport, with a time of 1:11:35, and Allison LaPierre, 12, of Newport with a time of 1:03:16.

Youth from Newport and Orleans were a strong presence and placed high in the four-mile and two-mile runs.

The youngest being Ryan Shaffer and Anthony Collins, both age 7, and from Newport.

Finn LaGray, 11, of Newport came in 3rd among the “men” and 4th overall among the men and women.

And special mention went Dottie Brainard, 76, of Derby, winner of the award for the “most mature” participant of the day.

Chet Greenwood, 73, of Derby, took up running only a couple of years ago and came in 6th among the males in the 4-mile run.

Community National Bank was an underwriter at the Dandelion Run again this year, and also organized a hearty team of volunteers on the course,

The town of Derby and Siskin Coutts were hosts again this year.

The Dandelion Run is held in honor and in memory of Terri Weed. This year raised $1,090 for Umbrella and its support and advocacy for victims of violence and $400 to support Siskin Coutts.

Beware of IRS phone scams, Orleans County sheriff warns

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NEWPORT — The Orleans County Sheriff’s Department is warning residents about a continuing fraud scheme involving calls reportedly from the Department of the Treasury, informing callers that they owe money to the IRS and giving them a return phone number to call back.

Police say the phone numbers commonly used have a California area code.

The Sheriff’s Department business phone lines have been the subject of several of these calls over the past few days.

Deputy Brooks called the number given and said a nearly thirteen-minute dialogue with a “reported” IRS agent ensued.

The agent used fear and intimidation tactics to try and get the victim to forward money discretely and privately, and even says that a warrant will be issued by the Sheriff and the person will be arrested if they don’t comply.

The Orleans County Sheriff’s Department does not issue arrest warrants and does not enforce federal IRS tax laws.

If you receive one of these calls, hang up and do not return a call to the phone number they provide.

If you think that you do owe money to the IRS, call them directly at 1-800-829-1040.

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    The author holds a cast of the hand that belonged to a now-extinct hominid species.

DeSilva presents facts, fun and hope in Newport

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NEWPORT — Although the advertisement for Dartmouth Professor Jeremy DeSilva’s free presentation last Friday promised information on two recently discovered hominids, it offered much more than straight scientific fact.

Fifty-two people of varying ages filled the state building conference room in Newport and were treated to laughter, yarns of adventure, and perhaps the new idea for some that scientific discovery isn’t only for the official scientists.

DeSilva became connected with the NEK when North Country Union High School’s “Vermont Students to Africa” (VSTA) program was planning their 2016 program.

Active community member and businessman Gerry Hunt was passionate about the program, and after his passing in 2015, his wife, Elaine Lockwood, wanted and needed to continue his legacy. She emailed DeSilva, paleoanthropologist and professor at Dartmouth, who happens to be a lead researcher on the team studying two recently discovered hominid species.

“I never expected to get a response,” Lockwood said. “Twelve students from North Country Union High School participated in the Vermont Students to Africa-NCUHS program for 2016, which involved each of them doing a substantial research project, followed by a sixteen day trip to South Africa.”

Last spring, Professor DeSilva was kind enough to spend half a day at NCUHS with the VSTA students and also gave a presentation to 65 STEM students. He also set it up for the group to visit the secure, open-only-to-scientists, hominin lab at the University of Witwatersrand, and a two-hour private tour with the curator, Dr. Bernhard Zipfel.

The students saw the original, highly guarded fossils of the two species, Australopithecus sediba (fossils dating from close to two million years ago) and Homo naledi (fossils dating from 200,000 -300,000 years ago when our own species, Homo Sapiens, were already roaming the lands). 

On Friday, DeSilva returned to the NEK and offered a free presentation sponsored by Northeast Kingdom Homecare on behalf of VSTA.

He spoke with animation of how the first Australopithecus sediba fossil was discovered by a 9-year-old boy, about how satellite imaging showed scientists where 500 previously unknown and well-hidden caves exist in the South African expanses, and how two amateur cave spelunkers entered one of those caves and discovered a treasure trove of bones, alerted scientists, and ended up having discovered a potential burial chamber of species Home naledi.

He even spoke about how Facebook was the tool science needed to find the perfect team to excavate that cave system, and how a team of small women that came to be known as the “Underground Astronauts” responded to the Facebook post and made history by squeezing through small and often dangerous areas in the name of discovery and knowledge.

The room was silent as DeSilva showed slides of that particular cave system which required sliding through one channel only seven inches wide, and then some animated video of the results of his own research on the feet and locomotion of Homo naledi.

Attendees watched the shape of the skeleton walk along as it may have beside our Homo sapiens ancestors.

“This is just what we’re finding in two caves,” he told the audience. “Remember, there are 500 in all, so there are 498 more that no one has looked at.”

He reminded everyone in the room that the people who made the first grand discoveries at these sites were a child and two amateur spelunkers, young men who weren’t scientists at all.

The work that VSTA started with the 2016 student group isn’t over, in a way. VSTA student participants Laura Masi and Loren Searles will be working with Dr. DeSilva at Dartmouth in his lab for a week in July and attending the classes he teaches. Lockwood explained that the students need to learn human skeletal anatomy before they go because they’ll be working to identify the large number of unclassified fossils he’s brought back from the cave in South Africa.

They’ll help scan and probably print replicas of the fossils on a 3D printer.

This dispatch submitted by Tanya Sousa

Letter to the Editor: Hal Newman, Haskell Opera House Director

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My name is Hal Newman.

Officially, I am the Haskell Opera House Director, however the title I like the most is Chief Dreamer. I am leading a band of dreamers who volunteer their time, wisdom and passion to ensure The Haskell can fulfill its role as a cultural and performing arts gateway between two communities, two regions, and two great nations.

In addition to the brilliant performances of QNEK – the resident international theatre company at The Haskell, this season has also featured a series of live music events. We have been privileged to have artists such as The Mae Trio, Jabbour, Joel Miller & Sienna Dahlen, David Greely, Mairi Rankin & Ailie Robertson, Geoff Achison, Rhiannon Simpson, The Sky Blue Boys, Bob Amos & Catamount Crossing, Catherine Major, Gregory Douglass, Tod Pronto, and Kyle Chadburn grace our stage.

Gathering audiences at The Haskell this season has been challenging. We have had world-class artists performing to a handful of people in one of the most beautiful and improbable music venues on the planet. You can sit in the back row in Vermont and still be only 42 feet from the stage in Quebec. There are several seats which straddle the line affording you the remarkable opportunity to sit in two countries at once.

On July 5th we will welcome Juno-award winning artists Whitehorse to The Haskell. I am ever hopeful there will be an audience there to welcome them warmly and then sit back – or lean forward – and take in the music…the sweet, sweet music…on a mid-summer night when the temperatures are finally starting to simmer and we are settling into the sweetest of grooves.

I will be there and I hope you will #MeetMeAtTheHaskell. Bring a friend.

Here is the info you will need for the Whitehorse concert:
https://www.picatic.com/WhitehorseAtTheHaskell

We need more dreamers to join our team. If you are interested, please drop me a line via email: newman.hal@gmail.com or you can write me an old-fashioned note and address it to: Hal Newman, The Haskell, 93 Caswell Avenue, PO Box 337, Derby Line, VT 05830. If you are on the Canadian side of the line our mailing address is: 1 Church Street, Stanstead, QC J0B 3E2

Please visit The Haskell online: http://www.haskellopera.com/

Thanks for your consideration.
Be well. Practice big medicine.

Hal

Connie Knaggs receives CNB’s Community Service Award

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DERBY — When faced with a large issue or an emergency situation Connie Knaggs often says, “We’ll figure it out.” And, she usually does.

Community National Bank Chief Executive Officer Stephen Marsh presented Knaggs with the bank’s Community Service Award.

The award was developed to recognize the “unsung heroes” that make our communities better places to live, work and play.

Knaggs has volunteered for more than 20 years at a local animal shelter. Through her volunteer work and her work as a Veterinary Technician, she saw first-hand the need to solve the over-population of cats in the Northeast Kingdom.

Her vision of working with community members to spay and neuter free-roaming cats led to the organization of the Felines and Friends Foundation (FFF).

Creating a non-profit organization such as FFF is a very large undertaking. Her strong work ethic and daily contributions have guaranteed the foundation’s success.

To celebrate her commitment and dedication, the bank presented her with CNB’s Community Service Award for the second quarter of 2016.

“Her energy and compassion are endless,” a statement issued by the bank reads.

The Community Service Award honors and recognizes recipients by making a $500.00 contribution to a local, non-profit organization of the recipient’s choice.

Knaggs has requested that her donation be made to the Felines and Friends Foundation.

The Felines and Friends Foundation was established in 2013 and is a non-profit organization that is run by volunteers.

The organization uses the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) method to stabilize and reduce the outdoor barn and street cat population.

Through partnerships with regional animal shelters, FFF works to find homes for as many adoptable cats as possible. To learn more about FFF please visit www.fffvt.org.

For more information about CNB’s Community Service Award and to nominate a deserving recipient, visit www.communitynationalbank.com.

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

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Truck causes section of I-91 closed this afternoon

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BARTON — A tractor-trailer caused a section of I-91 in Orleans County to be closed Tuesday afternoon.

The incident took place near the Barton-Glover exit, after slick road conditions this morning caused a tractor-trailer unit to slide off the road and into the median.

The Vermont State Police say they had to shut down Interstate 91 north between the Barton-Glover exit, and the Orleans-Irasburg exit, so that the rig could be removed.

Signs were put up advising that the road was closed at around 1 p.m.

Northbound traffic was re-routed off in Barton.

That section of the road was re-opened at around 3 p.m.

Nearly 3,000 acres of Forestland protected in the Town of Westmore

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WESTMORE — Last week the Vermont Land Trust and The Nature Conservancy announced that 2,965 acres of forestland surrounding Long Pond, in an area designated as a National Natural Landmark, was conserved. The property is owned by Vincent and Louisa Dotoli.

This parcel has more than a mile of undeveloped frontage on 90-acre Long Pond and the entirety of 13-acre Mud Pond, along with popular hiking trails to Bald Mountain, Mount Pisgah, and Haystack Mountain.

“In these times when the health of our forests is threatened, we are delighted by the opportunity to protect the Dotolis’ land,” said Gil Livingston, president of the Vermont Land Trust. “Conserving this spectacular forest will protect water quality, and ensure sustainable forest management, wildlife habitat connectivity and public access to an important trail network.”

The property includes more than eight miles of frontage on 22 streams that form the headwaters of the Willoughby, Passumpsic, and Clyde Rivers, all located within the international Memphremagog watershed.

The property will become a part of a protected block of land that now totals more than 15,000 acres, making it well suited for migrating large mammals.

“The interconnectedness of our forests is essential for wildlife to meet their life needs,” said Heather Furman, Vermont State Director of The Nature Conservancy. “TNC’s science identifies critical wildlife corridors like the ones found on the Dotoli parcel, used by moose, bear, otter, fisher cat and lynx. This conservation success celebrates intact forests and their multiple benefits such as improved water and air quality, recreational opportunities, and wildlife habitat protection.”

The Dotolis have owned the land since the late 1980s. As a result of their excellent stewardship, the property has a good network of logging roads and forestry-access trails. With the conservation easement in place, the Dotolis will continue to own and manage the property.

Conservation ensures that the land will not be subdivided into small parcels or developed, pressures that are contributing to a decline in Vermont forests for the first time in a century. This forestland forms scenic backdrop from many vantage points around Willoughby Lake and Long Pond.

The Dotolis have allowed hiking trails that both originate on, and pass through, their property. These trails provide access to popular peaks including Bald Mountain, Haystack Mountain, and Mt. Pisgah, the summit of which is located in Willoughby State Forest. The conservation easement ensures public access in perpetuity, along with formal management and protection for these trails.

“This is an incredible opportunity to conserve a part of one of Vermont’s most scenic mountain environments,” said Luke O’Brien, development and trails director at NorthWoods Stewardship Center in Charleston. “The Dotolis have been excellent land stewards and this project ensures that these mountains and trails are conserved in perpetuity.”

Newport City Flower Pot Program seeking sponsors

in Newport/News/Uncategorized

NEWPORT — A few years back Penny Thomas went door-to-door seeking money to kickstart a beautification program in Newport City. Now, the Newport City Renaissance Corporation (NCRC) is overseeing the project, and they are seeking community sponsors to continue to keep the project going.

NCRC is happy to present The Newport City Flower Pot Program. The project, spearheaded by Penny Thomas, began with hanging flower baskets on Main Street and has expanded across Veteran’s Memorial Bridge and East Main Street. The concrete urns full of flowers on the Causeway and the street-level whiskey barrels on Main Street are also part of this beautification program.

Thomas grew the program to its current size, and in 2015, passed the torch to NCRC. NCRC’s Design Committee gladly accepted the task of overseeing the flowers. 

NCRC is now seeking local support to continue the program into the future.

Each flower pot is valued at $180.00, which covers spring set-up, summer-long watering and fertilizing, and annual equipment maintenance.  

NCRC welcomes those interested to sponsor a flower pot or multiple pots to help out. Simple donations of any amount are also welcome.  

Donations can be made online, by mail, or in person.

For more information, Click Here.

All photos by Phil White.

Scenes from Kingdom Swim 2015

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NEWPORT – A total of 146 swimmers and 125 kayakers hit the water for the 7th Annual Kingdom Swim. They came from 22 different states and Canadian provinces as well as Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Australia, and New Zealand.

After a fog delay, the conditions were perfect for the 15 Mile Border Buster, the 10 Mile WOWSA World Championship, and the 1, 3, and 6 Mile New England Masters Championships. Water temperatures were between 70 and 72 degrees.

Nineteen year old Australian Chris Deegan captured the WOWSA 10 Mile Crown, with a record breaking time of 3:19:41. Just 10 seconds behind him was his training partner, 21-year-old Eva Fabian of Keene, New Hampshire, with a time of 3:19:51.

Fabian was the gold medalist in the recent Pan American 10K Championships held earlier this month in Toronto. Fabian and Deegan are both coached by Jack Fabian, swim coach at Keene State.

In the 15 Mile Border Buster, Kate Dooley, 48, of Austin, Texas was the overall winner with a time of 6:24:10.

In the men’s division, Mitchell Hsing, 25, of Cambridge, Massachusetts took top prize with a time of 6:39:56.

All photos by Phil White.
All photos by Phil White.

The Busters were scheduled to depart from Prouty Beach at 5:30 a.m., but dense fog delayed their start by 3 hours and pushed back the 3, 6, and 10 mile starts by an hour. This is the second year of the 15 mile swim up the west side of the lake into Canada, swinging around Province Island, crossing to Buttis Point, and back to the United States. Canadian and US Border Officials helped to facilitate the crossing by the 13 who took on this distance.

The lake was patrolled by 11 local volunteer boats and the Newport City Police who provided support and directions to the swimmers throughout the day, which was made longer because of the fog delay in the morning.

About 50 volunteer kayakers helped support swimmers who were unable to bring their own kayaker.

The event raised approximately $2,000 to support Memphremagog Watershed Association.

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Applicant briefings for disaster declaration scheduled for Orleans county

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Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security

NEWPORT — A public assistance disaster declaration was signed this week. The declaration covers public infrastructure damage suffered in Orleans county during the flooding that took place from April 15th through the 18th.

Applicant briefings will be held the week of June 16.

The declaration allows communities and other eligible entities in Orleans county to receive 75 percent reimbursement for debris removal and repairs to public roads, bridges, and other infrastructure damaged during the storm.

The Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security will begin the application process with mandatory applicants’ briefings on June 18, 19, and 20. The briefings will outline the requirements for receiving federal awards and maximizing eligibility of repairs. The briefing schedule is:

Franklin and Lamoille counties: 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. June 18, Johnson State College, 337 College Hill Road, Bentley room 207, Johnson

Essex, Caledonia, Orleans counties: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. June 19, Northeast Vermont Development Center, 36 Eastern Avenue, St. Johnsbury.

Orange and Washington counties: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. June 20, VT Agency of Transportation Training Center, Room 114B, 1716 US Route 302, Berlin

Communities can be reimbursed for equipment rentals, including fuel for that equipment, the cost of contractor assistance, employee overtime tied directly to storm response and restoration, and other eligible expenses.

The declaration also includes funds from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). The federal HMGP program provides 75 percent reimbursement for projects that reduce the likelihood of damages to public infrastructure in future disasters.

For more information, contact DEMHS Public Assistance Officer Kim Canarecci at 800-347-0488.

More Border Protection Officers Coming to Derby Line

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DERBY LINE — On Monday, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency announced that they will be bringing in 2,000 additional border protection officers to further enhance security and improve service at ports of entry across the country.

In a letter the agency sent to congressional lawmakers, Derby Line is among the ports of entry that should see additional protection officers by 2015. The details as to how many officers that Derby Line would receive has not yet been announced.

The need for additional staff at the port has been an issue since 2009. Vermont’s congressional delegation has tried to get more officers along Vermont’s borders to address the issue of long delays into the country, which they say hurts Vermont businesses.

From January 2009 to July 2013, Derby Line saw a 21 percent decrease in its staff, according to research done by Senator Bernie Sanders’ office.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection plans to hire and train the new officers by the end of September next year. The additional officers will be placed at ports of entry with the greatest demonstrated need.

The Department of Commerce estimates the rate of travel into the United States will increase by 3.4 to 4.3 percent annually in the coming years. That growth will represent an additional 17 million visitors when compared to 2012 numbers.

Winning Numbers Announced in Housing Survey

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Picture 1NEWPORT — The winning numbers to the housing survey done by the 99 Gallery in Newport are in. The number was randomly drawn, and the winner will receive a $100 grocery gift certificate.

The 99 Gallery in Newport wanted to know just how serious the problem of the lack of affordable housing was in the Northeast Kingdom. They started a housing survey, encouraging others to share their experiences with the issues, as well as filling out a series of yes or no questions.

Some of the questions in the survey were:

Do you fear loosing your home to foreclosure?
Do you fear loosing your current rental?
Are you treated with respect by agencies which help you with housing costs?

As the survey points out, it is a crisis is only one or two people find themselves in substandard housing. Results are being processed, and will be made public shortly.

3 Men to be Charged in Pat O’Hagan Murder

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ST. JOHNSBURY — Authorities are saying they believe that they now know who killed Pat O’Hagan, the 78 year old Sheffield resident who was abducted from her home in September of 2010.

State police say Keith Baird, 33, will be charged with first-degree murder, burglary and kidnapping.

Richard Fletcher, 27, will face first-degree murder, kidnapping and burglary charges.

Both men are currently serving prison terms for other offenses.

Michael Norrie has also been implicated in the murder, however, he is serving a 56 month jail sentence outside of Vermont on a federal firearms charge.

Norrie told investigators that the three men had attempted to rob O’Hagan while they were high on crystal meth, and wanted the money to buy more drugs. Authorities believe that they killed O’Hagan that night during the attempted robbery.

Court documents state that all three suspects made partial confessions in the O’Hagan murder. Conflicting stories and a lack of evidence had kept state prosecutors from filing charges against the men until now.

At age 78, O’Hagan went missing from her Sheffield home in 2010. Police investigators concluded that she had been abducted. Two weeks later her body was discovered in a wooded area in Wheelock, about 10 miles from her home.

Dangerous Road Conditions Cause Two Accidents Yesterday

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NEWPORT — Strong winds and blowing snow yesterday created dangerous road conditions in the area. Two accidents were reported.

Yesterday at around 1 p.m. a Vermont Agency of Transportation highway maintenance truck was involved in a two vehicle crash on Vermont Route 105 in Newport.

Jason Kerr, 38, of Newport, was traveling east at about 7-8 mph, and William Atherton, 20, of Eden Mills, was traveling west at approximately 10 mph in a plow truck.

The wind was whipping the snow around causing “white outs” in the area. During one of these white outs, Kerr’s vehicle traveled into the westbound travel lane and ended up striking the plow truck, head on. Atherton observed the headlights on Kerr’s vehicle and attempted to avoid the crash by pulling as far to the right of his lane as possible. There were guardrails on both sides of the roadway at the scene of the crash.

Kerr’s vehicle sustained major front end damage, totaling the vehicle. The plow truck was driven from the scene. Kerr’s vehicle was towed by Ray’s Auto. There were no reported injuries. Newport Town Fire Department was contacted to check on the fluids that had leaked from Kerr’s vehicle.

In a second crash that took place in Irasburg, Philip Pare of Burlington was operating a 2003 Subaru Forester east on Vermont Route 58. Pare lost control of his vehicle on the snow and ice covered roadway. The car slid off the south side of the roadway striking a telephone pole before over turning onto its passenger side.

Pare was wearing his seatbelt and sustained minor injuries. Pare’s lone passenger was seated in a child safety restraint and was not injured.

Orleans ambulance responded to the scene. Orleans County Sheriff’s Department also assisted at the scene with traffic control. The vehicle sustained moderate damage and was towed by Croteau’s Auto.

Local Photographer Makes Albany Fire Department Calendar

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All photos by Jane Peters

ALBANY — Jane Peters, a local photographer and freelance writer, has a strong connection with the Albany Fire Department. Donald Peters, Jane’s brother, is the fire chief. She also has a niece and a nephew on the department. As a photographer she has been documenting the department for years.

On August 11, 2013, the Albany Fire Department suffered a total loss. The fire station was engulfed in flames, leaving one fire engine completely destroyed. Elmer James Joerg, a volunteer member of the department, was arrested and charged with first-degree arson.

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A lot was lost that day. Some things could be replaced, but others could not. A few years back, Jane made the department a photo album as a gift, but unfortunately it was one of the items lost in the fire.

So Jane had another idea to use her photography as a way to help the department out. She decided to make a calender as a way to show that they would bounce back.

“The calendar is a fundraiser for the department, but to me it’s more than that,” Jane said. “It is a way to keep their faces out there, and to show everyone that these are the faces of the first responders. It is a brotherhood. Also, it is a way to say thank you to those who have chipped in and helped replace the equipment that was lost.”

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Fire department calendars, like the one put out by the New York Fire Department, are usually a bit risqué. Jane’s calender has taken the opposite approach. Her work focuses on the faces of the first responders, as well as documenting some of the destruction that the fire caused to the station.

The pictures used for the calendar were taken mostly within the past year related to the fire. Ms. Peters has worked to place them in or around the months that they were taken.

Albany fire department vermont

If you would like to support the Albany Fire Department by purchasing one of the calendars, they are available for $15.00. You can contact Jane Peters by email at: mountain@pshift.com

You can also contact the Albany Fire Department at 802-755-6748

Free Ice Fishing Day on Saturday, Jan. 25

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NEWPORT — Always wanted to go ice fishing but couldn’t find a good excuse to get away? The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has found that excuse for you: a “free ice fishing day” on the fourth Saturday in January.

Saturday, January 25, is Vermont’s new free ice fishing day. This will be a day when anyone, resident or nonresident, may go fishing without a fishing license.

The department worked with the Legislature to create a free ice fishing day to encourage individuals, friends and families to get out and try one of the most popular fishing methods enjoyed in Vermont.

The Newport area has plenty of good ice fishing lakes and ponds to choose from, offering fisherman the opportunity to grab some northern pike, trout, salmon, walleye, and panfish.

If you have never been ice fishing, Saturday is a good chance to give it a try. Click here for a beginners guide to ice fishing that is sure to get you ready to head out on Saturday.

North Country Union High School to Present Falcapalooza Friday Night

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NEWPORT — Move over Lollapalooza, this Friday night North Country Union High School is proud to present Falcapalooza.

On January 28, starting at 6 p.m. inside the auditorium, seven local student bands will take the stage. One of the bands to perform will consist of North Country Union High School teachers.

There is a $5 cover charge, with the proceeds going to the American Red Cross. Tickets will be available at the door.

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For more information, visit the event page on Facebook by clicking here.

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