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Vermont

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

Contest underway to find the best beard in Vermont

in Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Vermont

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vermont’s rifle deer season starts tomorrow

in News/Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — Hunters are gearing up for the start of Vermont’s traditionally popular 16-day rifle deer season that starts tomorrow, November 10 and ends Sunday, November 25.

A hunter may take one buck during this season with at least one antler having two or more points one inch or longer.

A point must be one inch or longer from base to tip. The main beam counts as a point, regardless of length.

Spike-antlered deer, mostly yearlings, are protected during this season.

“There are more deer in Vermont than there have been in recent years with the greatest numbers of deer found in the southwestern and northwestern regions of the state,” said Deer Project Leader Nick Fortin.

Vermont’s regular hunting licenses, including a November rifle season buck tag and a late season bear tag (for Nov. 10-18), cost $26 for residents and $100 for nonresidents.

Hunters under 18 years of age get a break at $8 for residents and $25 for nonresidents.

Licenses are available on Fish & Wildlife’s website and from license agents statewide.

Fish & Wildlife urges hunters to wear a fluorescent orange hat and vest to help maintain Vermont’s very good hunting season safety record.

Vermont bear hunting starts September 1

in Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — Vermont’s bear hunting season starts September 1, and officials say hunters can improve their chances if they scout ahead of time to find fall foods such as wild apples, beechnuts, acorns, and berries where bears will be feeding.

“Fall foods for bears are more abundant than they were last year,” said Vermont’s bear biologist Forrest Hammond.

Bears will likely be feeding along power lines and in forest openings and old fields where berries and apples can be found.

They also are likely to be feeding on standing corn.

Vermont has two bear hunting seasons. The early bear hunting season, which requires a special bear tag, starts September 1 and continues through November 10.

The late bear season begins November 11 and continues through November 19.

A hunter may only take one bear during the year.

Hammond says Vermont’s regulated bear hunting seasons help in managing the state’s population of about 5,400 bears.

A new regulation now requires hunters to collect and turn in a small pre-molar tooth from each harvested bear.

The collection of a premolar tooth is critical to the bear project as it provides important data on the age structure of the bear population and for making population estimates.

Hunters took 697 bears last year in 193 Vermont towns.

Fourth public forum on Act 250 planned for Island Pond August 22

in Island Pond/News/Vermont

ISLAND POND — The Vermont Legislative Commission on Act 250 is seeking public input through a series of forums and social media outreach to envision Vermont’s future landscape.

The fourth forum will be held in Island Pond on Wednesday, August 22, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the American Legion.

Unlike typical town hall style forums, this one is designed to invite conversation and engage citizens in small group discussions with facilitators.

After a brief presentation highlighting the key points of Act 250, community members will have a chance to talk about what matters most to them.

The public input will inform the Legislative Commission’s report and any potential legislation to modernize the statutes.

Act 250, Vermont’s Land Use and Development Act, grew out of citizen involvement fifty years ago.

“I hope Vermonters young and old will take some time to learn about Act 250 and give us their input this summer and fall,” Representative Amy Sheldon of Addison-1, Chair of the Commission on Act 250, said. “This information will give the Commission direction on recommendations for potential future changes.”

A survey will be launched in July to gather more input. All materials will be made accessible to the public.

The Commission consists of six legislators. They are Representative Amy Sheldon, Senator Chris Pearson, Senator Brian Campion, Representative David L. Dean, Representative Paul Lefebvre, and Senator Dick McCormack.

Newport man arrested at Grand Isle State Park

in Newport/News/Vermont

NEWPORT — A 40-year-old Newport man was arrested in Grand Isle early this morning after police say he broke into a camper’s vehicle, as well as entered the tent she was sleeping in.

Richard Myers is facing numerous charges after the bizarre incident, including felony unlawful trespass, unlawful mischief, aggravated disorderly conduct, criminal threatening, and resisting arrest.

At around 12:15 a.m. police were notified of a 911 call from a camper at Grand Isle State Park who advised that she could hear a person trying to break into her vehicle parked outside the tent that she was sleeping in with her three children.

Troopers were notified while in en-route that the perpetrator had entered the camper’s tent but fled after the victim defended herself and her children, by hitting him with an iPad multiple times.

Police were then notified of a second 911 call from another camper who advised that they were chasing a man off of their campsite after he appeared out of the woods screaming and cursing.

Troopers located the male, identified as Myers, by the main entrance to Grand Isle State Park.

Police say Myers momentarily resisted arrest but was subdued by Troopers and taken into custody.

Fourth of July safety tips for pets

in Vermont

NEWPORT — The Fourth of July is here, and while this is generally a favorite holiday for people, it can be very stressful and dangerous for pets.

Firework shows, barbeques, and the heat can all pose issues for our companion animals.

Everyone loves the fun and festivities of the July Fourth celebrations. However, our pets do not have the same appreciation for these patriotic displays.

Dogs, cats, horses, and even livestock can react to fireworks in ways that could potentially cause injury and even death.

During upcoming celebrations, never leave pets alone outdoors, even if tethered or in a fenced in yard.

It’s not uncommon for dogs to escape or injure themselves in a frenzied attempt to escape.

In fact, many animal shelters report increases of stray intakes after the Fourth of July holiday due to the number of pets running away to avoid noise and excitement.

If you are planning on attending a fireworks celebration, keep pets at home.

A good idea is to keep small pets indoors, in an interior room without windows. Turn on the TV or radio to provide a distraction.

Keep horses in their stalls if possible and consider talking with your veterinarian prescribing mild sedatives during this time.

Be sure that your pet has current ID tags and/or a microchip so that you and your pet can be easily reunited in case he/she runs off.

Some pets may become fearfully aggressive due to the loud noises, so protect pets from kids who may not realize the consequences of waving sparklers or setting off home fireworks.

If your pet is fearful during fireworks, never punish this behavior but don’t reinforce it, either, by trying to sooth the pet by saying things like “it’s okay.”

Paying attention to your pet may positively reinforce the fearful behavior.

If hosting or attending a barbeque or picnic and your pet is invited, make sure to be very careful with all the different foods.

People like to feed pets treats but grapes, chocolate, onions, and garlic can be toxic to pets and all of these are generally available at Fourth of July BBQs.

Further, if using an outdoor grill, some animals may try to jump up and get the food off the grill, this can lead to severe burns, so keep them away from temptation.

If you’re hosting guests, ask them to help keep an eye on your pets to make sure they don’t escape. Placing notes on exit doors and gates can help both you and your guests remain vigilant.

Finally, since it is summer, it may get too warm or humid for pets at a party.

They should be kept inside when it’s extremely hot out and they should always have access to shade and water when outdoors.

Don’t leave them outside at a party unattended as they may start to show signs of heat stroke, which can be life-threatening.

Newport man charged with pharmacy burglary and firearms offenses

in Newport/News/Vermont

NEWPORT — Daniel Greenwood, 42, of Newport, was arraigned in connection with a federal indictment charging him with possessing a firearm as a convicted felon in October 2017, and with committing a burglary of the Kinney Drugs in Cambridge that same month.

Greenwood, who is currently serving a sentence in Massachusetts, entered pleas of not guilty to the two charges.

At the time of offenses, Greenwood had fled state supervision and was a fugitive.

He was arrested in late 2017 in Massachusetts and charged in connection with the offense for which he is currently serving a sentence.

According to court records, the firearms possession charge relates to a burglary of a residence in Thetford on October 21, during which Greenwood is accused of attempted to steal the homeowner’s hunting rifle.

The homeowner, however, arrived home during the burglary and forcibly took back his rifle as Greenwood was fleeing the scene.

Greenwood has a prior federal firearms conviction, according to the charges.

The pharmacy burglary charge is a federal crime because Greenwood is alleged to have stolen over $500 in controlled substances, which occurred on the night of October 15 when the pharmacy was closed.

The firearms charge carries a maximum sentence of ten years in jail, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

The pharmacy burglary charge carries a maximum sentence of twenty years in jail, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

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Bobcat caught on game camera in Brandon

in Outdoors/Vermont

BRANDON — This bobcat was caught in a series of photos on a game camera set up under a bridge in Brandon.

The cameras are put out as part of a collaborative partnership between Vermont Fish & Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, and VTrans to better understand wildlife movement around road crossing structures.

“This bobcat passing under the road highlights the fact that wildlife are always on the move,” said John Austin, Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s lands and habitat program manager. “They need to travel across the landscape to find food or water, to search for mates, or to find places to den or raise their young. Maintaining healthy and connected habitats is one of the most important things we can do to help wildlife continue to thrive in Vermont.”

Information learned through this collaborative partnership has allowed VTrans to modify the design of bridges, culverts, and overpasses to permit improved movement of fish and wildlife, while also making these crossings safer for drivers on the road.

Additionally, these modifications often help these structures to become more resilient to flooding events.

“We have thousands of photos of wildlife using these structures to safely move from one side of the road to the other, including shots of moose, bear, and deer, as well as several other bobcat photos. But rarely do we get such a fascinating glimpse into the behavior of an animal as it’s passing in front of the camera,” said Austin.

Improving road crossings is one part of a larger effort of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department to use science to sustain healthy habitats for wildlife across the state, referred to as Vermont Conservation Design.

Other aspects of Vermont Conservation Design help protect Vermont’s forests from over-development, maintain clean air and water, and support the social and economic benefits of the state’s healthy fish and wildlife.

Democratic candidate for Governor James Ehlers at Parker Pie this Thursday

in Glover/News/Vermont

WEST GLOVER — Democratic candidate for Governor James Ehlers will be holding a meet and greet at Parker Pie in West Glover on Thursday, May 24 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

The candidate says he looks forward to meeting people to discuss the economy, environment, and the issues of importance in the community.

He says he hopes to meet with as many individuals as possible and will be available to answer questions of anyone who asks.

“I am excited to be in Glover to hear directly from Vermonters about the issues that matter to them,” Ehlers said. “The best part of this campaign is the chance to meet with people and learn from them. We will be discussing how to make a more fair and dignified economy and a safer, cleaner environment, along with other issues that matter to Vermonters.

James Ehlers is a public and environmental health advocate and advisor to US Senator Bernie Sanders on the environment and veterans issues.

Since 1999, he has served as Executive Director of Lake Champlain International (LCI), where he has been recognized with numerous awards for his leadership from a number of organizations, from the United States EPA to local community groups.

So come enjoy some pizza pie and learn more about the campaign, get questions answered, share your ideas and see how you can be involved.

Visit JamesEhlersForVermont.com for more information.

Important June 1 deadline nears for dairy farmers

in News/Vermont

NEWPORT — Vermont dairy farmers are strongly encouraged to push the pencil and closely look at the Milk Margin Protection Program by June 1.

The USDA program received upgrades in 2018.

“The improved Margin Protection Program could be a significant net financial benefit for most Vermont dairy farmers this year, especially with the important added funds from the State of Vermont, but ONLY if farmers sign up,” Senator Patrick Leahy said.

The Milk Margin Protection Program offers dairy farmers a risk management tool to protect the margin between milk price and feed costs, one of the greatest costs of operating a dairy farm.

All dairy farmers are eligible to take part in the program if they are not already enrolled in the Livestock Gross Margin Program.

The program insures the margin between the national all-milk prices and a nationally calculated feed cost.

The higher margin requires farmers to pay an insurance premium. Helping make the program more affordable, Governor Scott and Agriculture leaders in the Senate and House have agreed to help pay for some of the costs if farmers sign up.

“The Vermont legislature is very committed to helping one of our state’s most important business,” Vermont Senator Bobby Starr of Orleans County said. “The dairy industry is vital to our rural economy, landscape and most importantly, it promotes and protects our heritage.”

Under the proposal, Vermont will provide a minimum of $600 toward the insurance premiums for dairy farmers that take part in the program in 2018. This assistance could make this program even more attractive to dairy farmers of different sizes.

All farmers need to complete their own calculations.

Farmers should contact their local USDA Farm Services Office prior to the June 1 sign up deadline to ensure that sign up is completed in a timely manner.

Visit https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/Dairy-MPP/index for more information, calculation tools and contacts.

Tick-borne disease on the rise in Vermont

in Health/News/Vermont

NEWPORT — Tick-borne illnesses have increased in Vermont, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Vermont had 6,161 cases of illness caused by tick-borne diseases between 2004 and 2016.

In total, 99 percent of all reported tick-borne diseases are caused by the blacklegged tick, the state Department of Health says.

According to the CDC, Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-borne diseases and in 2016, Vermont had the second highest rate of reported Lyme disease cases in the U.S.

Authorities are warning Vermonters that a decline in the tick population this year in Vermont won’t last.

The Health Department offers these tips to Be Tick Smart:

Protect

Use an EPA-registered tick repellent on skin. Apply permethrin to clothing. Wear light-colored pants and long sleeves.

Check
Perform daily tick checks on yourself, children and pets. Shower soon after spending time outdoors.

Remove
Use tweezers to grab the tick up close to skin. Pull the tick straight up, do not twist. Wash hands and bite area with soap and water. Put clothing into the dryer for 10 minutes on high heat.

Watch
Symptoms may include fever, headache, joint pain, muscle aches, fatigue or a rash soon after a tick bite. Not all people with Lyme disease report a rash. Symptoms may begin as soon as three days after a tick bite, but can appear as long as 30 days after a bite

Contact your healthcare provider if you develop any of these symptoms.

State of Vermont auction of surplus state vehicles this Saturday

in Vermont

BERLIN — The State of Vermont will be auctioning off a large assortment of state vehicles and equipment to the public beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 12.

The auction will be held at the Agency of Transportation Central Garage located at 1756 US Route 302, in Berlin, across from the Wayside Restaurant.

A major collection of state vehicles and equipment including, dump trucks, plow trucks, pick-up trucks, police cruisers, fleet passenger vehicles, cargo vans, box trucks, boats, four wheelers, snowmobiles, kayaks, riding mowers, tools, tires, generators, miscellaneous parts and more will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

The event is expected to be very well attended.

“This is an absolute auction with no reserves,” said Terry Lamos, the State’s Surplus Property Manager. “All vehicles will be sold to the highest bidder rain or shine.”

This auction is on many calendars across New England and Quebec. It has become a destination event for many who come year after year in hopes of obtaining a good deal on a vehicle or piece of equipment.

State officials are hopeful that a portion of the equipment and vehicles being offered finds their way back into service in Vermont communities.

There are 16 paddle boats available at this year’s auction.

For more information and pictures of surplus equipment that will be offered at this auction, go to the Auctions International website at http://www.auctionsinternational.com/liveauctions.

Hand grenade discovered in Waterford picnic area

in News/Vermont

WATERFORD — Police say an individual walking in the area of the Moore Dam Picnic Area in Waterford, found what was suspected to be a hand grenade along the shoreline of Moore Reservoir.

Recently the water level of the reservoir had been lowered, exposing ground that would otherwise have been underwater.

The suspected hand grenade was found in an area that would have normally been underwater.

Troopers from the St. Johnsbury field station responded and confirmed the report.

The State Police Bomb Squad was consulted along with members of the EOD Detachment of the VT Air National Guard.

Authorities say the grenade was in a deteriorated condition.

Crews responded to the site and say the weapon could not be verified as being in a safe condition. It was destroyed at the site as part of the response.

The operation created a single explosion that was heard in the surrounding area.

No additional hazards were located at the site.

Police say the picnic area, which had been temporarily closed due to the hazard is now re-opened for use.

Members of the public are reminded that military munitions can pose serious personal safety hazards, particularly those that have been exposed to the elements.

In the event such an item is discovered, the public should avoid handling the object and notify law enforcement.

Vermont receives $59 million in tobacco settlement funds

in Vermont

MONTPELIER — Last Thursday, the state of Vermont received $58.9 million from tobacco companies, with $29 million of the total amount the result of a recent settlement with tobacco companies.

Vermont receives an annual payment each April from these companies related to the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA).

The MSA requires signatory tobacco companies to collectively pay Vermont millions of dollars annually, in perpetuity.

The Vermont legislature will determine how the settlement funds will be spent.

Legislative leaders and the Governor have pledged their intention to use half of the settlement funds to fight opiate addiction in Vermont.

States and tobacco companies signed the MSA in 1998 to settle states’ claims that major tobacco companies were deceiving the public about the health consequences of smoking.

Teen killed in Fairfax crash

in News/Vermont

FAIRFAX — A crash on Route 104 in Fairfax this morning took the life of a sixteen-year-old Vermonter.

Police say Ada Sorensen, 16, of Fairfax, was headed north on Route 104 when she lost traction and control of her vehicle.

Paul Bowler, 54, of St. Albans, told police he observed Sorensen attempting to regain control of the vehicle.

He tried to avoid a collision by pulling to the right shoulder.

The two vehicles collided.

Fairfax Fire and Rescue responded to the scene, where the teenage driver was pronounced deceased on scene.

Bowler was transported to the hospital with minor injuries.

A crisis specialist working in conjunction with Vermont State Police arrived on scene to assist with the family. Police say the specialist is working directly with an agency to design a plan for the students at Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans, as Sorensen was enrolled as a student there.

Police say the crash remains under investigation, but that the weather and heavy accumulation of wet snow and the roadway was a factor.

Potentially damaging winds forecast for Vermont

in News/Vermont

NEWPORT – The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning for areas of Vermont on Monday. Power outages and damage caused by downed trees and tree limbs are likely in the warning area.

The strongest winds will occur along the western slopes of the Green Mountains, impacting communities in Western Windham, Bennington, Rutland, Eastern Addison, Eastern Chittenden, and Eastern Franklin counties.

Other areas of Vermont will also see windy conditions throughout Monday.

The National Weather Service says 30 to 40 mph winds with gusts of 60 mph are expected in the warning area.

Isolated areas of Eastern Addison and Eastern Rutland counties could experience gusts as strong as 75 mph.

Vermont state agencies and utilities are preparing for scattered to widespread power outages due to strong winds, saturated soils, and some ice accumulation on tree limbs.

Those who encounter downed power lines should stay away and always assume lines are live.

Those clearing trees and debris should also ensure branches are not in contact with power lines.

Motorists should also respect all road detours should debris block roads.

State suggests Vermonters remove bird feeders April 1

in Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department says warm spring weather and melting snows will cause bears to come out of their winter dens in search of food.

The department recommends taking down bird feeders on April 1 to avoid attracting them.

Bears are very fond of suet and birdseed, especially black oil sunflower seed.

Bringing feeders in at night doesn’t work because bears will still feed on seed that is spilled on the ground.

Bird feeders are just one of the things that can attract hungry bears. Other sources of food that bear find appealing are pet food, barbecue grills, garbage, household trash containers, open dumpsters, and campsites with accessible food and food wastes.

Officials are also reminding Vermonters that purposely feeding a bear is not just bad for the bear, it’s also illegal.

Fish & Wildlife offers the following tips to avoid bear problems:

Keep chickens and honeybees secure within an electric fence or other bear-proof enclosure.

Never feed bears, deliberately or accidentally.

Feed your pets indoors.

Store trash in a secure place. Trash cans alone are not enough.

“We are asking anyone who has a problem with a bear to report the incident in a form that we have on our website,” said Forrest Hammond, Vermont’s bear biologist.

That form can be found at www.vtfishandwildlife.com under “Living with Wildlife.”

“There is a section in the form where you can ask us to call you to provide advice.”

Brianna Maitland still missing after 14 years

in Montgomery/News/Northeast Kingdom/Vermont

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caution urged in upcoming snowstorm

in Newport/News/Vermont

NEWPORT – The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for all of Vermont from 4 p.m. today until 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Most areas of the state are likely to see 6 to 10-inches of snow with southern counties and other isolated areas expected to receive more than a foot.

Travel will be impacted during the storm and power outages are possible.

During a significant snow event, it is important to take steps to avoid health hazards, especially carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause flu-like illness or death. Symptoms of CO poisoning include nausea, headache, and dizziness. If you feel these symptoms, leave the home and call for help.

Important safety reminders:

Check on neighbors, especially those who are elderly or who may otherwise need special assistance. Be sure their heating vents are clear of snow, and during a prolonged weather event that they have heat, electricity and any needed medical supplies.

Clear all heating vents of snow. Deep snow can create carbon monoxide hazards by blocking heat and exhaust vents. Clear all heating vents of snow. Even in areas of lesser accumulation winds could create a snow drift on the side of the home and block vents. With no way to vent, CO will drift back into the home.

Always have working CO and smoke detectors in your home and in all living areas.

Never use a generator indoors. Only operate generators outside away from the home. Even if operated outside CO can drift back into the home through an open window, door, or vent.

Take it easy while shoveling, take frequent breaks. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack, a major cause of death during the winter.

If you must travel, remember:

Snow, snowdrifts, and icy spots could contribute to worsening road conditions.

Slow down, allow extra stopping distance and give plow trucks plenty of room to work.

Please DO NOT call emergency dispatch or 911 to determine road or traffic conditions. Call 911 only if you have an emergency.

During major weather events, dispatchers are busy handling emergency calls and supporting first responders.

Stay away from downed power lines. Call 911 if you see a downed line and report outages to your utility.

Vermont’s Free Ice Fishing Day is January 27

in Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — Vermont’s fifth annual Free Ice Fishing Day is set for Saturday, January 27, and will be celebrated by a fun-filled ice fishing festival in Castleton.

Vermont’s Free Ice Fishing Day, which takes place each year on the last Saturday in January, enables both residents and non-residents to go ice fishing on any legal waterbody in Vermont for the day without a license.

“Free ice fishing day creates opportunities for a range of anglers, and really helps to showcase the great ice fishing we have here in Vermont,” said Louis Porter, commissioner of Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “From those looking to try out the sport for the first time, to non-residents who may want to sample some of Vermont’s quality fisheries, the day offers full accessibility to great ice fishing fun across Vermont.”

Vermont’s Ice Fishing Festival also occurs annually in concert with Free Ice Fishing Day, and the 2018 celebration will be held at Lake Bomoseen State Park in Castleton.

The festival will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on January 27 and is free and open to anyone interested in ice fishing.

Staff from Vermont Fish & Wildlife and instructors from the Let’s Go Fishing Program will be on hand to teach ice fishing basics including knot tying, drilling holes, rigging and using an ice fishing rod, setting tip-ups and preparing for a day on the ice. Fishing regulations and fish identification will be covered as well.

Fisheries biologists will also operate a fish fry station to cook up participants’ catches, and there will be other refreshments on hand including plenty of hot cocoa in the warming huts. Lake Bomoseen State Park also offers opportunities for ice skating, and a playground for the kids.

“The ice fishing festival is a free, easy and fun way for newcomers to get started in ice fishing, and also a great opportunity for kids and families to enjoy time together outdoors,” said Nicole Meier, information and education specialist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “We encourage people of all ages to come out for the day, wet a line, try some fresh-cooked, local fish and enjoy all that Vermont has to offer during the winter.”

Vermont Fish & Wildlife will lend ice fishing equipment to attendees for the day, but participants may bring their own tackle if they wish. Participants are advised to dress warmly and wear ice cleats if possible.

Pre-registration is encouraged but not required, and can be completed online at www.vtfishandwildlife.com. For more information, contact Nicole Meier at 802-318-1347 or nicole.meier@vermont.gov.

Vermont’s rifle deer season starts next Saturday

in Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — Hunters are gearing up for the start of the traditionally popular 16-day rifle deer season that begins Saturday, November 11 and ends Sunday, November 26.

A hunter may take one buck during this season with at least one antler having two or more points one inch or longer.

A point must be one inch or longer from base to tip. The main beam counts as a point, regardless of length. Spike-antlered deer, mostly yearlings, are protected during this season.

“Vermont’s pre-hunt deer population is estimated at approximately 157,000 this year with the greatest numbers of deer found in the southwest, east-central, and northwestern regions of the state,” said Deer Project Leader Nick Fortin.

Vermont’s regular hunting licenses, including a November rifle season buck tag and a late season bear tag, costs $26 for residents and $100 for nonresidents. Hunters under 18 years of age get a break at $8 for residents and $25 for nonresidents.

Licenses are available on Fish & Wildlife’s website and from license agents statewide.

Fish & Wildlife urges hunters to wear a fluorescent orange hat and vest to help maintain Vermont’s very good hunting season safety record.

Biologists are collecting middle incisor teeth from November season deer in order to evaluate regional differences in ages and antler characteristics of bucks as well as to help estimate population size, growth rate, health, and mortality rates.

Each tooth will be cross-sectioned to accurately determine the deer’s age, and the results will be posted on the Fish & Wildlife website next spring.

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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_0161-001-2.jpg
    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.

Police postpone recovery of body found in Westmore

in Newport/News/Orleans/Vermont/Westmore

WESTMORE — Search and rescue teams have located a dead body in Westmore, but say they are unable to retrieve it at this time.

The body of the dead man was located in the southern area of Lake Willoughby, in a wooded area at the bottom of a steep drop-off.

Police say the body was discovered visually, but because of the difficult and technical nature of the terrain, searchers have been unable to reach the individual to confirm the identity.

At this time the scene has been secured, and technical rescue equipment is being brought to the area for the recovery.

“Because the finding was made this afternoon with only a small number of daylight hours left, it was decided to wait until at least tomorrow to conduct the recovery,” a statement issued by police reads.

They say it’s unclear exactly when this effort will begin.

While positive ID has not occurred, the family of Tyler Robinson, the 23-year-old man from Orleans who has been missing since Friday, have been notified of the discovery.

Investigators say they have no evidence or information to suspect foul play in this incident.

[VIDEO] Megan Bonnell interview and music from the Haskell Library

in Arts and Entertainment/Vermont

On Monday, Toronto-based singer-songwriter Megan Bonnell opened up for Great Lake Swimmers at the Haskell Library.

After the show, she gave this interview with Tanya Mueller to discuss her musical background, and offer some advice to young artists who are starting out.

For more on this artist, check out http://www.magnoliamusic.info

Driver jumps from moving vehicle on I-91 in Bradford

in Vermont

BRADFORD — Police responded to a bizarre incident on I-91 in Bradford this morning, where they say a 53-year-old woman jumped from a moving vehicle she was driving.

The incident took place at around 7:00 a.m.

According to witnesses, the driver, identified as Delynn Flanagan, 53, of Enosburg Falls, was traveling at approximately 65 miles-per-hour when she jumped from the vehicle she was operating and onto the roadway.

Flanagan’s vehicle, a 2015 Chevrolet Equinox, continued a short distance without striking any other motorists before traveling into a ditch on the right shoulder.

She was the only occupant of the vehicle.

Police say Flanagan sustained severe injuries from the incident but is expected to survive.

Police are still investigating, and ask anyone with information regarding this incident to contact Trooper Ostrout with the Vermont State Police at 802-222-4680.

Vermont blizzard and significant snowstorm update

in News/Vermont

WATERBURY – A Blizzard Warning for the Champlain Valley of Vermont and Winter Storm Warning for the remainder of Vermont are still active and will be into tomorrow.

The National Weather Service predicts a minimum of 18-inches of snow in most areas of Vermont with two feet or more in some spots.

The Vermont State Police advise that driving conditions on Interstate 89 and 91 are extremely difficult. Drivers heading home from work are experiencing whiteout conditions with very low visibility.

On I-89 in Chittenden County, at least five vehicles have been involved in slide-offs. No injuries have been reported, however, multiple cars have been abandoned in place by their owners, as operators seek safety from the ongoing storm.

Authorities say if you do slide off the road, call for help and police will provide you with safe transportation. Ensure your tailpipe is clear of snow or turn off your car to avoid a buildup of carbon monoxide in the car if you are buried in snow.

Vermont State Police are advising the owners of cars involved in slide-offs that they will not be allowed to tow their vehicles for the time being due to road conditions. VSP will arrange for removal when it is safe to do so.

VSP is strongly recommending drivers remain off the roadways. If you must drive, please be prepared for blizzard conditions and drive appropriately for conditions.

VSP and the Agency of Transportation report that no major state roads have closed for any extended period. A handful have closed temporarily throughout the day to allow for the clearing of auto accidents.

If you encounter a road that is closed, please respect all detours.

The Vermont State Police are also asking that people not call emergency dispatch or 911 to determine road or traffic conditions. During major weather events, dispatchers are busy handling emergency calls and supporting first responders.

Please visit: http://vtstatepolice.blogspot.com/ or http://vtrans.vermont.gov/operations/winter for road information or call 2-1-1.

You can also get road, weather, and other alerts sent to you through Vermont Alert: http://vtalert.gov.

Carbon monoxide (CO) continues to be a concern as the snow gets deeper. CO is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause flu-like illness or death. Symptoms of CO poisoning are like the flu and include nausea, headache, and dizziness.

If you feel these symptoms, leave the home and call for help.

Ensure all heating vents are clear of snow as a blocked vent can create a buildup of CO in the home, never use a generator indoors, and always have working CO and Smoke detectors in your home and in all living areas.

Check on neighbors, especially those who are elderly or who may otherwise need special assistance. Be sure their heating vents are clear of snow, and during a prolonged weather event that they have heat, electricity and any needed medical supplies.

Take it easy while shoveling. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death during the winter.

Vermont unemployment rate drops, Derby still highest unemployment rate in the state

in Derby/Newport/News/Vermont

NEWPORT — The Vermont Department of Labor says that the state’s unemployment rate dropped one-tenth of 1 percent in January to 3.1 percent, but that Derby still has the highest unemployment rate in Vermont.

Overall, Vermont’s unemployment rate was tied for seventh lowest in the country for the same time period.

Unemployment in Vermont’s 17 labor markets ranged from a low of 2.6 percent in the Burlington-South Burlington area, White River Junction, and Woodstock, to a high of 7 percent in Derby.

The seasonally-adjusted Vermont data for January shows the Vermont civilian labor force increased by 900 from the prior month’s revised estimate.

The number of employed increased by 1,150 and the number of unemployed decreased by 250.

Labor Commissioner Lindsay Kurrle says the initial numbers for January show the state’s economy is headed in a positive direction.

Two years ago the old “Newport” labor market area was renamed to “Derby.”

Dental Therapists Bill passes Vermont House 109-32

in News/Vermont

MONTPELIER — The House of Representatives gave preliminary approval to the Dental Therapists bill (s.20) today with a vote of 109-32.

The bill would create a new mid-level position in the dental profession.

Like the nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants who handle routine medical care, dental therapists would be able to do routine dental care, including nonsurgical extractions and surface fillings.

While under the general supervision of a dentist, the supervising dentist would not need to be on-site.

Supporters of the bill argue this would allow for wider geographical and more affordable primary dental care to Vermonters.

“The Oral Health Care for All Coalition is pleased that Vermont is moving forward to increase access to dental care by allowing dentists to build out their dental health team,” Michelle Fay, Associate Director at Voices for Vermont’s Children said after the vote. “We thank the House Representatives for such strong support for this bill, and we look forward to final passage next week.”

The bill passed the Senate last year with a vote of 18-8.

Final passage in the House is expected on Tuesday, and then the bill will go back to the Senate.

State warning public to stay off ice after recent death

in News/Vermont

NEWPORT — The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is imploring people to exercise extreme caution around frozen water bodies and not to go on the ice for any reason.

After recent tragic events involving ice anglers, Vermont game wardens are reporting that ice conditions have deteriorated to unsafe levels statewide.

Record warm temperatures, wind and rain have caused ice to become unsafe in many areas that would traditionally have held solid ice for several more weeks. Ice may appear thick, but is structurally weak and melting from underneath as well as at the surface.

“With the rain and unseasonably warm weather, some areas of the state are seeing thinner and more unpredictable ice than we would expect this time of year,” said Col. Jason Batchelder, chief game warden. “We would encourage everyone to stay off the ice.”

Wednesday, angler Kenneth Gaudette died after falling through the ice on Shelburne Pond despite a rescue attempt by Warden Dana Joyal.

Joyal was briefly hospitalized for hypothermia.

“We train for these situations, but each one is unique and calls for the judgment and discretion of the officer involved,” said Batchelder. “Dana showed extraordinary courage in this ultimately tragic circumstance. Our thoughts are with the Gaudette family.”

Vermont becomes 5th state to enact paid sick days law

in Health/News/Vermont

MONTPELIER — Governor Peter Shumlin signed the Paid Sick Days bill into law this morning in a ceremony held in the House Chamber. Dozens of advocates and supporters joined the Governor to celebrate Vermont’s becoming the 5th state to enact such a law.

The legislation establishes a mandatory minimum requirement for Vermont employers to provide employees with paid time off when the employee is sick, or to care for a child or family member who is sick, or to access services for domestic abuse survivors.

In Vermont, an estimated 60,000 private-sector workers currently do not have the ability to earn a single day of paid sick time. As the law goes into effect, these workers will gain access to 3 days/year and then eventually 5 days/year of earned time off.

The stated purpose of the law is “to promote a healthier environment at work, school, and in public by ensuring that employees are provided with paid leave time for purposes of health care and safety.”

“Access to paid sick time matters to children and families,” explained Annie Accettella, of Voices for Vermont’s Children. “This new law will mean that parents and caregivers can take care of their children without sacrificing a day’s pay,”

The new law will also allow a domestic abuse survivor to take paid time off to seek services.

“The State of Vermont has worked for decades to develop a comprehensive range of services and protections for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, but survivors need the flexibility to access these services in the safest way possible,” Auburn Watersong, Associate Director of Public Policy at the VT Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, explained. “Sometimes the safest time to seek counseling, health care, or legal protection is during work hours. Court hearings only happen during business hours, which requires many survivors to take time off from work. This new law will provide an absolutely critical window of time for survivors to seek safety and protection for themselves and their children.”

Advocates have worked on the Paid Sick Days bill for close to a decade. The bill passed the House of Representative in April of 2015 with a vote of 72-63. In February of 2016, the Senate passed an amended version of the bill with a vote of 21-8, and then the bill was passed again when Senator Bill Doyle (R-Washington) asked to reconsider the bill. On February 17, 2016, the House of Representatives agreed to accept the Senate’s amendments and passed the bill in final form with a vote of 81-64.

The new law phases in the requirement to provide paid sick days to employees over two years. Employers who have more than five employees will be required to provide the benefit in 2017. Employers with five or fewer employees will be required to provide the benefit in 2018.

Winter weather advisory issued for Vermont

in News/Vermont

NEWPORT — Motorists in Vermont could encounter some treacherous travel tonight and into Wednesday morning.

The National Weather Service in Burlington has issued a winter weather advisory for mainly freezing rain with some snow and sleet mixing in, which will be in effect from 10 p.m. Tuesday night, through 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Light snow is expected to start late Tuesday and then transition to a wintery mix Wednesday morning.

The period of light freezing rain should occur through Wednesday morning before ending early evening.

Hazardous driving conditions across Vermont is expected.

Motorists should be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibilities tomorrow morning, and use caution while driving.

Sub-zero wind chills expected this weekend

in News/Vermont

NEWPORT — Public Safety officials are urging Vermonters to brace for what could be the coldest temperatures of the season this weekend.

The National Weather Service is forecasting sub-zero wind chills in areas of Vermont Friday through Sunday, with some areas possibly reaching a wind chill of 30 below zero or colder Saturday night.

Everyone is reminded to bundle up and be prepared for the cold.

The Vermont Division of Emergency Management & Homeland Security offers the following information along with the notice:

Dress in layers, ensure you have a sufficient heating fuel (oil, wood, etc.) supply for your home, recognize health risks, and take other safety measures as needed.

Only heat your home with a heating source that is professionally designed for that purpose. Improper heating devices can lead to dangerous carbon monoxide buildup in the home. Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause flulike illness or death. Symptoms of CO poisoning are similar to the flu and include nausea, headache, and dizziness. Always have working CO and Smoke detectors in your home and in all living areas, ensure all heat sources are ventilating properly, and always operate a generator outdoors and away from the home.

Dress in warm layers with a hat and gloves to prevent frostbite or hypothermia. The Vermont Health Department says hypothermia most often affects older people who have inadequate food, clothing or heating, babies sleeping in cold rooms, people who are outside for long periods such as the homeless, hikers, and hunters, and those who drink alcohol or use drugs. Even healthy adults can become hypothermic if not dressed warmly enough for weather conditions.

In the car, keep a blanket, hat and gloves, first aid kit, flashlight and extra batteries. If you get stuck, don’t venture out on foot in extreme cold. Have a cell phone to call for help.

Other reminders:

Check in with neighbors and friends who may need assistance to ensure they’re staying warm.

Be mindful of pets and limit their time outdoors.

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