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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.





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.


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.”


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

in Feature/Uncategorized

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.

Picture 2

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

Car Overturns on VT Route 105 in Newport Center Thursday

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NEWPORT — At 7:40 a.m. Joseph Tito of Lancaster, NH was operating a 2007 Subaru Outback west on VT Route 105 in Newport Center. Tito lost control of his vehicle on the snow covered roadway when attempting to negotiate a curve.

The Subaru traveled off the south side of the highway where it overturned. Tito and his passenger were not wearing their seat belts and sustained non-life threatening injuries.

Tito and his passenger were transported by Newport Ambulance to the North Country Hospital in Newport to be treated.

The Subaru, which sustained extensive damage, was towed from the scene by Rays Auto out of Newport.

Dave Keller Blues Band to Play Benefit Concert for Head Start at Jay Peak

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JAY — Soul and blues singer and guitarist Dave Keller will be performing a one night only benefit concert for Head Start. The show will take place Saturday, January 18 at 8 p.m. at the Foeger Ballroom at Jay Peak.

Keller, based out of Montpelier, is considered one of the finest soul and blues men of his generation. His last CD, “Where I’m Coming From,” won Best Self-Produced CD of the Year at The International Blues Challenge, and reached #2 on B.B. King’s Bluesville on Sirius/XM Radio.

He has recorded and co-written with Ronnie Earl, toured with Mississippi blues master Johnny Rawls, and is a protégé of deep soul singer Mighty Sam McClain. Drawing comparisons with Curtis Mayfield, Boz Scaggs, and James Hunter, Keller has built a loyal fan base, playing the largest blues festivals from Boston to San Francisco.

Below is a video of the band playing in White River Junction.

There will be a cash bar and a mega raffle at the show. Tickets are $10.00 each and are available at The Wood Knot Bookshop, the NEKCA offices, online at Catamountarts.org, or at the door. The purchase of a ticket is a donation to Head Start.

For more information visit www.nekcavt.org

[OPINION] Calling the Newport City Council on Their Bluff Regarding the Tar Sands Resolution

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How about a quick show of hands. All those in favor of keeping Lake Memphremagog free from the possibility that it becomes contaminated by an especially nasty type of oil, that if leaked into the system would not just sit on top of the water like most oil, at least making it possible to clean up, but a particular oil that would actually sink to the bottom, making it impossible to clean up. Raise you hand if you want to make sure this never happens.

I’m sure everyone has their hand raised.

If you did not raise your hand…or at least mentally raise your hand…or at least agree that this would really suck, and you NEVER want this to happen…if none of the above, then please push the little x at the top of your web browser, and never enter this website again.

Now ask yourself, was this little “vote” we just took a political issue? Did you say “no, I don’t want to see Lake Memphremagog possibly contaminated by this type of oil because I am a democrat.”

Again, I’m assuming all of you would say no. I think everyone would agree that it is an environmental issue, and for more human reasons than politics, you want to protect Lake Memphremagog.

But I’m wrong. Not everyone feels this way. It seems the alderman at the city council’s meeting on Monday night in Newport see it only as a political issue.

When asked by a representative of the Sierra Club if a resolution opposing running tar sands oil through a Vermont pipeline would be placed on the Town Meeting ballot should enough signatures be gathered, the alderman were firm in their belief that it was a political issue. Translation – no.

“For many years we strongly felt we should not put anything politicized on the ballot. We do not like to get involved with Democrat policies or Republican policies,” Richard Baraw said.

When asked if it was a political issue, City Manager John Ward said it was. “Very much so,” he added.

Mr. Ward went on to say of the Sierra Club, “I don’t think we should have anything to do with it. It’s just one more fancy lobbying group that’s come in and tried to tell us how to live.”

Well I say to Mr. Ward, right now, on record, “Easy there, pilgrim.”

Calling the Sierra club, who is trying to protect Lake Memphremagog a “fancy lobbying group,” and trying to block Newport voters the right to oppose the tar sands oil from coming anywhere near this great lake, is actually telling us “how to live.”

Ward went on to say that the council is more concerned with “business that directly affects the city.”

Hmmm? So I guess that putting the lake in danger of turning black with toxic oil would be good for business at the new hotel that is in the works, or any business in the area for that matter.

The thing that makes me most angry, is that it was just a matter of bullying on their part. The council does not have the backbone to take a stance. They bullied the Sierra Club representative, and a few people in the audience who are willing to work to get the signatures so that the people of Newport can vote on the issue, but they would not say directly if the signatures were collected, they would not put it on the ballot. This is because they know it would be an unpopular decision, and it would make them look really bad.

“The alderman declined to be pinned down,” as Joseph Gresser so eloquently put it in his article.

Translation – they would not say no, because they would not be willing to take the heat of having to actually stand up for their so-called belief that it is a political issue. They would rather bully people to discourage them from actually going out and getting the signatures. Why would they do this?

Newport City Council

Look, I don’t know much about Mr. Ward. He has a nice beard, I’ll give him that. But, the way he behaved on Monday is unacceptable.

Mayor Paul Monette said that he has consulted with the city’s attorney and was told that their position is legal, that what appears on the ballot will remain with the council, regardless of how many signatures are collected to put the article on the ballot.

I say we call him on his bluff. All that is needed is 250 signatures. That should be easy to get. I’m assuming that 24 hours from now, 500 people will have already read this article, if not more. All of them raised their hands after reading the first paragraph Mr. Mayor.

Instead of consulting with the city’s attorney, maybe you should try consulting with the people of the city, who would overwhelmingly support protecting Lake Memphremagog.

29 Vermont towns overwhelmingly passed resolutions that oppose moving tar sands oil through the state. Why would the council not allow Newport the same opportunity?

Stay tuned, Newport Dispatch is going to work to get those 250 signatures.


Kevin Paquet Movie Review: Frozen

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By Kevin Paquet

Disney’s princess movies are, in many ways, a trick of time dilation. Despite the ubiquity of princess-branded products in toy aisles across America, Disney only made three “princess” movies in its first 60 years of animation: “Snow White” (1937), “Cinderella” (1950) and “Sleeping Beauty” (1957). You’d be forgiven for forgetting that, since Disney abruptly changed focus and made eight more of them between 1989 and 2012 (if you count Pixar’s “Brave,” which Disney does). Disney is all about tradition, even if they have to engineer it retroactively.

The merchandising has been so prevalent that I felt a certain cynicism when I heard that “Frozen,” their latest creation, had two princesses. Disney has always made such a big deal of old-fashioned values that it almost reflexively prompts the idea that they have old-fashioned vices as well. It was hard not to imagine dollar signs popping up in somebody’s eyes over the idea of two princesses – and that may have well been the case. But, fortunately, it doesn’t feel that way when watching the movie itself.

movie Review Disney's FrozenAnna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) are sisters and princesses of the northern kingdom of Arendelle. Elsa has the ability to make snow and ice appear at will, and at the beginning of the film the princesses are children at play in their castle’s cavernous ballroom. After Elsa accidentally hits Anna in the head with a blast of ice magic, their parents, the king and queen, go to the mountains to get help from the trolls.

The trolls heal Anna, but it’s decided that Elsa’s magic is better kept a secret. Anna’s memories are changed to remove her knowledge of Elsa’s memories, and Elsa is given gloves to wear at all times. She becomes withdrawn, and after the king and queen die in a shipwreck, the two sisters live almost completely separate lives.

The story proper opens on the day Elsa comes of age and is crowned queen. She approaches the event with great trepidation, but Anna is giddy with excitement over the prospect of being able to meet people. She hits things off quickly when she runs into Prince Hans of the Southern Isles (Santino Fontana), who is visiting for the coronation. The two spend the whole day together, and by evening Hans asks Anna to marry him – to which she gleefully says yes.

Elsa is much less pleased when the two bring the news to her, and has a panic attack that unleashes her powers, causing winter in the middle of July. She flees to the mountains, prompting Anna to give chase.

The Disney princess films follow such a set list of tenets that it’s kind of startling when one of them contradicts another. Still, the romance angle of “Frozen” feels like nothing less than a rebuke of “The Little Mermaid,” in which Ariel the mermaid had three days to make a man fall in love with her. It’s strongly implied that those two live happily ever after, which is totally unrealistic, but then again it’s the story of a mermaid who has singing fish for friends. While still very much a work of fantasy, “Frozen” nevertheless draws the line a little closer to home.

The characters of Elsa and Anna themselves also follow a pattern of princesses who are increasingly self-aware. Most tellingly, they experience a lot of self-doubt, something not seen much before “Mulan” (1998), and which didn’t make another major appearance until “Tangled” (2010). In fact, Anna is a near-copy of Rapunzel from that film, which makes sense: both characters are pronounced extroverts who have grown up in near-isolation. However, Anna is slightly more resourceful and (very) slightly less spastic.

Also like “Tangled,” the cast of “Frozen” uses speech patterns and slang that are amusingly modern. Since Disney films never, ever go away, viewers will end up encountering language they find dated within 15 years or so.

With less than a decade under its belt since its first feature film, Disney’s CGI department is to be commended for how far they’ve come. The quality of the imagery here – in particular the way the auroras play off the snow and ice – is exquisite, even if it feels a little like a screensaver at times. Disney production values as a whole are up, and it’s hard to imagine that this is the same studio that accidentally made “Chicken Little” in 2005.

© Kevin Paquet, 2013

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