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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.

Local Senator urges Vermonters to share views on energy projects

in Glover/News/Vermont

NEWPORT — Senator John S. Rodgers of Glover is encouraging citizens who want change in the siting of energy projects in Vermont to come to Montpelier on Wednesday, January 20.

Rodgers is organizing a day for local elected officials, citizens and citizens’ groups to share their views on the siting of energy projects with legislators.

“This is a day for Vermonters from around the state to come together to lobby their legislators for change in the way we site energy projects and to act in collaboration with like-minded people from across Vermont,” Rodgers said.

Citizens who cannot attend the rally can still make their views known to their state legislators on January 20 by calling or emailing the Sergeant at Arms with a message for their legislators.

The day-long event will take place at the Vermont statehouse. Starting at 9 a.m., Vermont League of Cities and Towns staff will introduce municipal officials who will give testimony before the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee. Testimony will again be given before the House Natural Resources and Energy committee in the afternoon.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the committee hearings. A press conference will be held at 12:00 p.m. in the Cedar Creek Room of the capitol building.

To send a message, citizens can call Janet Miller, the Sergeant at Arms, at 802-828-2228, or email her at jmiller@leg.state.vt.us, with a brief message for a specific legislator.

The message will be hand-delivered promptly to the legislator.

Public comment sought on planned ban on importing untreated firewood

in News/Vermont

A proposed Rule Governing the Importation of Untreated Firewood into the State of Vermont has been filed with the Secretary of State. The proposed rule, as filed, is open for public comment until Friday, Jan. 15, 2016.

The purpose of the rule is to protect forest health by slowing the long-distance movement of wood-borne invasive forest pests, such as Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer, and preventing the spread of pests into Vermont.

The enabling legislation requires the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation to adopt regulations on importing untreated firewood. The proposed rule prohibits the importation of untreated firewood into Vermont.

The definition of firewood states that it is wood processed for burning and less than 48 inches in length, but does not include wood chips, pellets, pulpwood or wood for manufacturing purposes.

It allows treated firewood to enter the state if it is treated to the USDA standard of 160° F (71.1° C) for at least 75 minutes at a certified treatment facility and is accompanied by certification of treatment.

By written request, the Commissioner of Forests, Parks & Recreation may waive this prohibition under conditions that ensure that the firewood poses minimal threat to forest health. Violations may result in confiscation of firewood and/or a civil citation.

The rules are to take effect on May 1, 2016.

Questions or written comments can be addressed to Barbara Schultz, Forest Health Program manager, at barbara.schultz@vermont.gov.

Lack of snow has state warning Vermonters to hold off on feeding birds

in News/Vermont

NEWPORT — Normally, December 1 is the recommended start date for feeding birds in Vermont, but this year’s lack of snow is keeping some bears from going into their winter dens. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is now urging people to wait for colder weather and snow before putting up their bird feeders in order to avoid attracting bears.

“An abundance of beechnuts and apples coupled with our lack of snow cover this year have resulted in male bears staying active, rather than denning for the winter,” said Forrest Hammond, Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s bear biologist.

Fish & Wildlife suggests Vermonters wait for six or more inches of snow that lasts before putting out bird feeders, especially if you have been visited in the past by bears or if there are sightings of bears in your neighborhood.

Due to lack of snow and frozen ground, birds are able to forage in fields and forests for their natural foods anyway.

“Female bears normally go into their dens before males,” Hammond said. “Males tend to enter their dens in response to most of their foods being unavailable to them rather than to cold temperatures. Without snow covering the ground some males are still foraging for nuts and apples.”

A 2011 federal survey revealed that people spend more than $280 million annually to watch wildlife in the state. Feeding birds at home is considered the primary wildlife watching activity.

Derby native Nick Fortin to lead state’s deer management program

in Derby/Newport/Vermont

DERBY — Vermont Fish & Wildlife has hired a new biologist, Nicholas Fortin, to lead the state’s deer management program.

Fortin grew up in Derby, and is a 2001 graduate of North Country Union High School in Newport.

He has an associate’s degree in fish and wildlife technology at Paul Smiths College in New York, a Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife ecology at the University of Maine, and his Master of Science degree in natural resources-wildlife at the University of New Hampshire.

Fortin is currently conducting disease research for both the Washington and Idaho Departments of Fish and Wildlife.

“I’m super excited to get this job, being able to return to my home state of Vermont and working on a wildlife species, white-tailed deer, that I am passionate about,” said Fortin. “This is a great opportunity to work for the Fish & Wildlife Department and interact with the state’s hunters and others who care about deer.”

He will start work in Vermont on September 14.

Fortin has previously done research and assisted in management of moose and deer in New Hampshire, mule deer and moose habitat in Wyoming, and deer wintering areas in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.

“We look forward to having Nick Fortin join our team of wildlife scientists in doing research and management to help conserve Vermont’s wildlife and their habitats,” said Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter. “Nick will be the lead person on the deer project with collaboration from other biologists on the big game team and from different regions.”

nick fortin

Health Department warns wild parsnip causes serious burns on skin

in News/Vermont

NEWPORT — A common plant found along roadsides and open areas may not appear harmful, but the Health Department is warning Vermonters that its sap contains a chemical that causes serious skin reactions when exposed to sunlight.

The sap, or juice, inside the stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits of the wild parsnip, also called “poison parsnip,” contains chemicals called psoralens. Contact with the sap causes a chemical burn in the presence of sunlight, a condition known as phytophotodermatitis.

The sap is exposed when the plant is cut or knocked down. Skin reactions begin about 24 to 48 hours after contact with the sap and sunlight and include redness, burns similar to second-degree sunburns, painful rashes, and raised blisters.

Giant hogweed also contains the same chemicals.

Wild parsnip is an invasive species that can grow almost anywhere but prefers disturbed areas like roadsides and open areas. The plant is a member of the carrot family reaching heights of two to four feet with leaves that resemble celery leaves and yellow flowers that look similar to Queen Anne’s Lace.

The Vermont Department of Health advises people to avoid skin and eye contact with wild parsnip sap.

If you need to work with the plant:

Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
Wash clothes that come in contact with the sap.
Work with the plant on cloudy days, and always wash your skin immediately after coming in contact with the sap.
If you are using string trimmers or power mowers in areas where this plant grows, wear eye/face protection, in addition to long pants, long sleeves, and gloves.

If you get sap on your skin:

Wash the skin thoroughly with soap and water as soon as possible.
Protect the exposed skin from sunlight for at least 48 hours.
If you experience a skin reaction, call your health care provider.

State tests mosquitoes for EEE and West Nile Virus

in Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — Vermont has its fair share of flying insects, and mosquitoes seem to thrive here in the summer months. Mosquito surveillance, which includes the weekly collection and testing of specific types of mosquitoes, has begun across the state.

During the past few summers, mosquitoes carrying Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile virus (WNV) have been found in Vermont. Results of mosquito testing will be updated on the Health Department website throughout the summer.

In 2014, there were eight mosquito pools that tested positive for WNV and eight more that tested positive for EEE virus. Human illness caused by mosquitoes is uncommon in the state, but in 2012, two people from Rutland County died from EEE. In 2013, two horses in Franklin County were infected and died.

People in these communities should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites, but it is likely that EEE is present in other parts of the state, so all Vermonters are encouraged to protect themselves against mosquito bites.

The risk of mosquito-borne illness increases during the summer months, and persists until there is a hard frost in the fall. As the warm weather brings out the insects, the Health Department encourages Vermonters to enjoy outdoor activities while taking simple precautions to avoid bites.

Below is a list of precautions the Health Department recommends all Vermonters take:

Weather permitting, wear long sleeves and pants and avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn – when mosquitoes are most active.

Reduce mosquito breeding habitats by getting rid of standing water. Drain areas where water can pool: rain gutters, wading pools and any other water-holding containers such as old tires.

If you are outside when mosquitoes are biting, use an effective insect repellent. Choose repellents that have an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration number on the label. This indicates that the product has been evaluated for safety and effectiveness.

Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.

Protect your animals. Horses are susceptible to WNV and EEE infection, and there are effective vaccines available. Llamas, alpacas and emus are also susceptible and can be immunized with the horse vaccine.

Contact your health care provider if you have questions about your health or need medical attention.

Symptoms of WNV and EEE:

Most people who are infected with WNV will not become ill, and this may be true for EEE as well. Those who become ill with either WNV or EEE will have flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, fatigue, joint and body aches.

Symptoms typically last one or two weeks, and recovery can be complete. However, both viruses have the potential to invade the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and cause more serious illness.

Symptoms of severe disease include fever, intense headache, weakness, poor coordination, irritability, drowsiness and mental status changes.

About one-third of people who develop severe EEE disease will die, and many who recover are left with disabilities. Fortunately, severe EEE is rare.

For more information on West Nile Virus and EEE, and to view EEE risk maps, maps showing towns with active mosquito surveillance, and to find out the latest surveillance results, visit healthvermont.gov.

Vermont adds nine species to threatened and endangered list

in News/Vermont

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources recently added nine species to the list of state threatened and endangered species. The listing included four plants, three bumble bees, one amphibian, and one bird.

Three pollinators listed were the rusty-patched bumble bee, yellow-banded bumble bee, and Ashton cuckoo bumble bee. Pollinators such as bees, moths, and butterflies are critically important to Vermont’s agriculture, but many are in decline nationwide. According to a survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, beekeepers reported losing 42 percent of their honeybee colonies between April 2014 and April 2015.

Vermont’s bumble bee species appear to be in decline due to a parasite infestation. Another concern for pollinator conservation is the widespread use of a group of systemic insecticides referred to as ‘neonicotinoids.’ These pesticides are used on agricultural crops, and are also used in concentrated doses on home gardens, lawns, and ornamental trees. Several types of neonicotinoids are highly toxic to bees, in addition to making them more susceptible to parasites and pathogens.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency is currently considering legislation that would limit the use of these chemicals.

“Pollinators are essential to our farms and also to our meadows and wild orchards,” said Deb Markowitz, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. “Adding them to the endangered species list is only one of many steps we can take to help protect them. Additional techniques, such as integrated pest management and planting more native flowering plants, are others.”

The bumble bee listings do not come with restrictions against currently legal activities such as applying pesticides in accordance with state and federal regulations, although the Secretary may notify a landowner that a permit is required in cases where one of these bumble bee species is likely present.

More information on pollinators, including a list of pesticides for homeowners to avoid, is available on The Xerces Society’s website at www.xerces.org.

In addition to pollinators, the Fowler’s toad and rusty blackbird were listed as endangered in Vermont.

The Fowler’s toad is dependent on scoured sand banks along the Connecticut River, a limited habitat type in Vermont, and has always been extremely rare in Vermont. However, the toad had been detected in the state with infrequent regularity until 2007 when the toad was last heard.

Rusty blackbird populations have declined regionally by more than 90 percent during the past five decades, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Vermont is at the southern edge of the bird’s boreal forest breeding habitat.

Four plant species were also listed as endangered in Vermont. These include the dwarf birch, tulip tree, whorled milkweed, and green mountain quillwort. These plants were previously not thought to exist in the wild in Vermont, but single specimens or single populations of all four species were found recently in the state.

“While we are delighted to have located these rare species, their endangered status reminds us that many of these plants can only survive where there is habitat to support them,” said Markowitz. “We are fortunate in our state that Vermonters value the bees, birds, and plants that enrich our experience of nature and have worked to conserve lands so that future generations might enjoy them as well. It is critical that we continue to protect not only endangered species but the places where they thrive.”

Vermont currently has 51 state threatened and endangered animals, and 163 state threatened and endangered plants. Three well known birds were removed from the list in 2005, the peregrine falcon, osprey, and common loon, following the birds’ recovery as a result of conservation efforts.

Shaw’s Natural Spring Water recalled due to possible E. Coli contamination

in News/Vermont

DERBY — Shaw’s announced that Niagara Bottling is issuing a voluntary recall of certain bottled water products, including Natural Spring Water sold under the Shaw’s brand name, due to concerns that one of Niagara’s spring sources is contaminated with E. coli.

E. coli bacteria were found in the water supply on June 10, 2015. No illnesses have been reported to date. The recall affects multiple retailers in the region and was issued out of an abundance of caution. 

People with severely compromised immune systems, infants, and some elderly may be at increased risk if contaminated water is consumed. People with specific health concerns should consult their physician if they have questions.

Presence of E. coli bacteria indicate that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes in these wastes can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms.

The following bottled water products sold at Shaw’s in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont have been recalled.

The recalled products have Best By dates of 08DEC2016 through 16DEC2016 (December 8, 2016 through December 16, 2016).

SHAW’S Natural Spring  Water (24) PACK
16.9oz Bottles
UPC Number on Case Packaging – 4567421415
UPC Number on Individual Bottles – 4567452952

SHAWS  Natural Spring Water (35) PACK
16.9oz Bottles
UPC Number on Case Packaging – 4567453026
UPC Number on Individual Bottles – 4567452952

SHAWS Natural Spring Water
(12) PACK
8.0oz Bottles
UPC Number on Case Packaging – 4567452217
UPC Number on Individual Bottles – 4567452217

Consumers who purchased these products should discard them or return them for a full refund. These products have been removed from sale.

For more information, please call Niagara Bottling, LLC Consumer Service, (877) 487-7873.

Memphremagog Watershed Association 2015 Spring and Summer Events

in Newport/News/Vermont

NEWPORT — The Memhremagog Watershed Association (MWA) has scheduled fun and educational events for the watershed community and visitors through the spring and summer of 2015. Most of these events are free and open to the public, however, some do require advanced registration because of participation limitations.

MWAs first major event is the Annual Meeting, June 17 at 7:00 p.m. in room 250 of the Hebard Building, in Newport. The keynote speaker for this event is Eric Hanson with a presentation entitled “Let’s Get Loony: The nnatural and unnatural history of the common Loon.” Eric, who has been the biologist for The Vermont Loon Conservation Project since 1998, will explore Loon history from their territorial takeover and sibling rivalry, to mercury laziness and satellite tracking.

For the third consecutive year MWA will sponsor a lake paddle to explore the creek and wetlands of the Eagle Point Wildlife refuge. This year’s paddle will be on June 20 from 9:00 a.m. to Noon. This event will be led by Paul Hamelin of Vermont Fish and Wildlife. The tour of the wetlands has been applauded by past participants as an opportunity to see and understand wetlands in a new way. Participation is limited, so call 802-334-5819 to reserve a spot. Bring your kayak or canoe to participate.

An opportunity to learn the importance of shoreline buffers and to take home some blueberry plants for your shoreline will take place on June 27 at 423 Miller Way, in Newport Center. This workshop will feature discussions by Perry Thomas, Program Manager of Vermont Watershed Management Division and Judy Davis of the Federation of Vermont Lakes and Ponds. They will explain how a natural buffer moderates the impact of heavy rain, shades shorelines to reduce water temperature, and produces matter essential to shallow-water ecology.

Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at 12.30.57 PM

This is the second of MWA’s Blueberries for Blue Waters workshops and is open to all who live or have property on or near water. Participants will be able to take home a total of four mature Blueberry bushes for a much reduced price of $30.00, and a special price for new members of $15.00. Register by calling 802-334-5819.

Additionally this month MWA is sponsoring several significant workshops and training sessions. The first on June 23 is a workshop on the identification of Cyanobacteria (Blue-green algae). Participants will learn how to identify and report an algae bloom and ask questions of experts on the consequences of these blooms. This workshop is open to the public on June 23 at 7:00 p.m., room 250 of the Hebard Building, in Newport.

Help is always needed to identify invasive species in our watershed waters. Those who would like to participate in this endeavor are encouraged to attend a Vermont Invasive Patroller (VIP) training on June 26 10:00 a.m. to Noon. This will be an on-water introduction and refresher training. Please register by telephoning 802-409-6129 or online at: watershedmanagement.vt.gov/lakes/htm/ans/p_VIP.htm.

MWA hopes once trained the participants will volunteer to be VIPs for our watershed. Click below for full schedule:
CLICK HERE

[VIDEO] Brownington man pleads not guilty to Memorial Day murder

in Brownington/Newport/News/Vermont

Jeffrey Ray, 51, of Brownington was in court on Tuesday. He plead not guilty to the charge of first degree homicide for the shooting death of Rick Vreeland on Memorial Day. Ray was ordered held without bail.

This video is from a press conference given by Orleans County State’s Attorney Jennifer Barrett.

Vermont ranked healthiest state for seniors

in News/Vermont

NEWPORT — Vermont is the healthiest state for seniors, rising from fourth place last year, according to the third edition of United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings Senior Report.

Vermont ranked among the top 10 states in 21 of 43 overall measurements that included behaviors, community & environment, policy, clinical care, and outcomes. New Hampshire ranks second, improving one spot from last year. Minnesota fell to third after being ranked first for two years in a row, while Hawaii (4) and Utah (5) round out the top five states.

“Vermont’s seniors should be congratulated for doing a lot of things well to stay healthy, such as low rates of physical inactivity, hospital readmissions, and half of all our seniors rank their health as either very good or excellent,” said Health Commissioner Harry Chen, MD. “As always, there are also areas we need to improve such as a high prevalence of chronic drinking, low hospice care use, and a high rate of falls.”

Louisiana ranks 50th as the least healthy state for older adults, followed by Mississippi (49), Kentucky (48), Arkansas (47) and Oklahoma (46).

Vermont’s strengths include low intensive care unit (ICU) use and ready availability of home-delivered meals. This is due, in part, to the efforts of the state’s area agencies on aging, according to Susan Wehry, MD, commissioner of the Department of Disabilities, Aging & Independent Living. Vermont also has the nation’s best Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) enrollment, which demonstrates that seniors are aware of and using the program.

“Increasing participation in the supplemental nutrition program for those over 60 who live in poverty has been a top priority of the Agency of Human Services,” said Commissioner Wehry, “and to now rank number one for participation is a huge accomplishment. I’m grateful to all our partners who helped us achieve this milestone. Vermont has always been a tight-knit community state. We take care of each other, and we take care of our seniors.”

The Departments of Health, and Disabilities, Aging & Independent Living began collaboration on a screening and brief intervention, referral substance abuse project (SBIRT) targeting older adults to help address chronic drinking among seniors in Vermont.

Nationally, Dr. Chen said the fact that more seniors received the flu vaccine compared to last year, rising from 60.1 percent of seniors in 2014 to 62.8 percent this year is encouraging, because they are particularly susceptible to flu and flu-related complications.

“Every Vermont senior should get vaccinated against the flu,” Dr. Chen said. Vermont ranked 18th for flu vaccines for seniors at 65 percent.

Pronto getting ready to drop new album It Can’t All Be Wrong

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/Vermont

pronto

Tod Pronto’s new album It Can’t All Be Wrong goes on iTunes pre-sale today for just $6.99 with two instant downloads of 74 Dodge Dart and The Devil Will Never Win. To see on iTunes, CLICK HERE.

Review by Bryan Marovich

In his third full-length album, local singer-songwriter Tod Pronto is at it again, making music and writing songs that rock, make you think, and get stuck in your head. The album is titled It Can’t All Be Wrong, and it comes out on June 2.

To describe Pronto’s music as alt-country is somewhat of a misnomer. In fact, it is a clear understatement, although the album is full of alt-country style tunes like the opening track “74 Dodge Dart,” that ranks up there with some of the best roads songs around. “I-91, southbound lane / hit 120 and she started to shake,” Pronto sings.

The album takes off from the start like the Dodge Dart Pronto sings about.

The songs move along, touching upon a number of topics, from the loss of love, confusion, the thrill of the open road in your first car, longing for a warmer place, to becoming that person that you never thought you would become.

album prontoOne of Pronto’s strengths as a songwriter is that he has the ability to write songs that are extremely catchy. Some of the tracks on It Can’t All Be Wrong become earworms after the first listen, however, Pronto is a smart enough musician not to let his art be dumbed down into just more kitsch in an industry overrun with pop music.

It was his talent for writing catchy tunes that first led Pronto to Nashville, where he spent some time writing and recording. It was an experience filled with success, but never fully satisfied his creative vision.

“I took a long break from music after the Nashville experiment,” Pronto said. “I was fed up with trying to write songs for an industry and not art.”

One thing refreshing about It Can’t All Be Wrong is that it’s not just a collection of songs. It’s an actual album. Throughout the tracks Pronto takes the listener along on a roller coaster of emotions and life experiences that work together as a whole.

Like much of Pronto’s music, It Can’t All Be Wrong is difficult to label. Americana, or Alt-Country come the closest, even though it ends with an almost dance or electronic track with a chorus that chants “the devil will never win.”

There is a little something for everyone on the album.

Some of my favorite tracks include:

74 Dodge Dart
Dammit I
I Think I Just Might

Working on It Can’t All Be Wrong, Pronto called up some of the most talented musicians in and from the Northeast Kingdom to help him get it right.

“I have this rule. I always want to be the worst musician on my albums or in my band and so far it has worked out great,” Pronto jokes.

Steve Bertrand plays guitar, piano, and sings harmonies on It Can’t All Be Wrong, as well as mixing most of the album out in Los Angeles. Nate Michaud, Jerod Carbonneau, and Micah Carbonneau also appear on the album.

With It Can’t All Be Wrong behind him, Pronto says he is going to use it as a catalyst to push himself back into the music business.

“I took a break and focused on radio for a while and now that phase has run its course and I want to get back out there and do what I love. Write songs, perform them for an audience and hopefully have a good time doing it.”

Photo courtesy of the Colchester Police Department.

Newport man sentenced to two years for bank robbery

in Newport/News/Vermont

NEWPORT — The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Erik Weinmann, 31, of Newport, was sentenced on Monday to 21 months in prison for robbing a Merchants Bank in Colchester, back in July 2014.

U.S. District Judge William K. Sessions III also ordered that Weinmann receive a two-year period of supervised release following the term of imprisonment.

According to court records, on July 25, 2014, Weinmann entered the Merchants Bank on Bessette Drive in Colchester and gave a demand note to a bank teller. The note indicated that the robber had a gun and demanded money. The bank teller gave Weinmann $4,770 in cash and he left the bank.

The Colchester Police Department apprehended Weinmann minutes later at the nearby Visiting Nurse Association. At the time of his arrest, Weinmann was in possession of the cash and a toy gun. Upon his arrest, Weinmann admitted to robbing the bank.

Th case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Colchester Police Department.

The Court ordered Weinmann to surrender to serve his sentence on June 23, 2015.

Photo courtesy of the Colchester Police Department.
Photo courtesy of the Colchester Police Department.

Buckle up: Seat belt crackdown starts Monday

in News/Vermont

NEWPORT — As motorists take to the roads this Memorial Day holiday, Vermont law enforcement officers are urging everyone to buckle up. Beginning May 18 through the 31, law enforcement officials will be out in full force, taking part in the 2015 national Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement mobilization and cracking down on motorists who are not belted.

“Our officers are prepared to ticket anyone who is not wearing their seat belt, including drivers that have neglected to properly buckle their children,” Sgt. Allen A Fortin, Northern Click It or Ticket Task Force Leader said.

At 6:00 p.m. on May 18, Vermont law enforcement will join law enforcement agencies across the Eastern United States in mobilizing the Click It or Ticket, “Border to Border” Operation. Law enforcement agencies will join forces to provide increased seat belt enforcement at state borders, sending a zero tolerance message to the public.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 9,580 passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2013 were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash. And unbelted fatalities are more prevalent at night than during the daytime: 59 percent of those killed in 2013 during the overnight hours of 6 p.m. to 5:59 a.m. unbelted at the time of the crash.

Tragically, these national statistics are mirrored locally. In Vermont, many more unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants were killed at night, compared to those tragedies that occurred during the day.

Even though this year’s Click It or Ticket enforcement mobilization runs from May 18-31, officers will continue to be enforcing seat belt laws year-round.

Over 2,200 pounds of food raised in Orleans and Essex counties during NALC Food Drive

in News/Vermont

NEWPORT — On Saturday, May 9, the 23rd annual National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Food Drive for the benefit of local food shelves was held across the nation. The national figures are not in yet, but typically over 74 million pounds of food are collected.

In the Green Mountain United Way (GMUW) five-county service area, nearly 19,000 pounds of non-perishables were donated with over 2,200 pounds coming from Orleans and Essex county’s very generous residents.

These 2,200 pounds were distributed to the Orleans Food Shelf, the Jay Food Shelf, NEKCA (Newport, Island Pond and Canaan) and the United Church of Newport.

In total, the 19,000 pounds of food from the GMUW five counties were distributed to 24 different food shelves.

This is the largest national food drive that occurs on the second Saturday in May each year.

May is strategically chosen by the NALC as a time when food pantries everywhere are near empty after the long winter.

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is encouraging landscapers and gardeners to choose native plants to promote the health of local ecosystems and to provide food for songbirds. Photo courtesy of the New England Wild Flower Society.

Vermonters advised to choose native plants when landscaping to help promote wildlife

in Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — Spring has finally arrived in Vermont, and gardeners and landscapers are eagerly breaking out their shovels in anticipation of the year’s spring plantings.

Beyond the beauty new gardens provide, according to Vermont Fish & Wildlife biologist Jon Kart, landscapers can make a big difference for wildlife with the plants they choose,

“Native plants such as black elderberry or wild cherry trees help a variety of species in Vermont, from songbirds to black bears,” said Kart. “And, as concerns mount for pollinator insects, such as bumblebees and monarch butterflies, we’re strongly encouraging Vermont’s gardeners and landscapers to choose plants that help promote these native species.”

Kart says that while some plants may be attractive to birds for their fruit, gardeners should chose those plants whose fruit is high in nutritional value, helping migratory species be more prepared for treks to Central and South America in the fall. Recommended plants include native nannyberry, buttonbush, common winterberry, and silky dogwood, all beautiful and hardy shrubs.

“Fruit from these native plants is like health food to birds, providing them with a lot of nutrition,” said Kart. “When you plant native alternatives, you give birds, bees and butterflies the food and habitat they need to survive.”

Other one-time garden standbys, such as Japanese barberry and honeysuckle, are much less desirable nutritionally and can easily get out of hand.

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is encouraging landscapers and gardeners to choose native plants to promote the health of local ecosystems and to provide food for songbirds.  Photo courtesy of the New England Wild Flower Society.
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is encouraging landscapers and gardeners to choose native plants to promote the health of local ecosystems and to provide food for songbirds. Photo courtesy of the New England Wild Flower Society.

Invasive plant species are frequently introduced into a new area by well-intentioned gardeners and landscapers, according to state botanist Bob Popp. These invasive plants can cause a variety of problems, such as crowding out native plants that provide food for wildlife or increasing erosion along stream banks.

Vermont Invasives, a joint effort by several Vermont nonprofit and government organizations, keeps a list of native plants that landscapers can use as an easy alternative to nonnative plants on their website at www.vtinvasives.org. The New England Wild Flower Society also maintains information on recommended native plants at www.newenglandwild.org.

For colorful fall foliage, Popp recommends that people plant sugar maple or red maple in place of Norway maple. He says that highbush blueberries also produce fall foliage along with tasty fruit. For privacy, Popp suggests people plant northern white cedar, white spruce or balsam fir as an alternative to blue spruce.

For low-lying wet areas or streambanks, dogwoods, alders, and native willows work best, but Popp advises people against nonnative trees such as white willow, the shrubby basket willow, or European black alder.

For gardeners looking for color, Popp suggests people look for wildflower mixes with a variety of native species such as wild bergamot and rudbeckia (also known as black-eyed Susans) which can help promote local pollinator insects.

“By choosing these plants, you’ll not only do something good for the environment, you’ll have the added enjoyment of attracting butterflies and songbirds into your yard,” said Popp.

Tick season underway Health Department warns

in Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — Ticks are a lot like weeds. They survive winter’s freezing temperatures, heavy snowfall and lack of sunshine. These resilient critters can carry pathogens – microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites, that cause illness.

“Ticks are abundant in all parts of the state. Using bug spray and doing daily tick checks should be part of every Vermonter’s routine,” said Erica Berl, an infectious disease epidemiologist for the Vermont Department of Health. “The earlier you remove a tick, the less likely you are to become sick.”

Thirteen different tick species have been identified in Vermont, but only four are known to carry pathogens that cause disease in humans.

Lyme disease, one of the more common tickborne diseases in Vermont, is transmitted from the bite of infected deer ticks. Symptoms of Lyme disease include an expanding red skin rash, swollen joints and flu-like symptoms. The number of cases reported to the Health Department peaked in 2013 with nearly 900 cases, and there were nearly 600 cases last year.

Transmission can be prevented if the tick is removed within about 36 hours, but the nymphs are so small that they can go unnoticed if you aren’t looking for them carefully. Most infections occur in the summer months when the nymphs are most active.

Lyme disease can be successfully treated with antibiotics, especially if treatment is given early. Left untreated, Lyme disease may affect other parts of the body, including the heart and nervous system. If you believe you may have been infected or have developed a rash or fever, call your health care provider as soon as possible.

The Health Department is advising everyone to take the following actions this spring and summer:

AVOID — Areas that are good tick habitat such as tall grass, or areas with a lot of brush and leaf litter, and along forest edges.

REPEL — Before you go outside, remember to use insect repellant with up to 30% DEET and treat clothes with permethrin. When possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants and tuck your pants into your socks to keep ticks away from your skin. Inspect yourself regularly when outside to catch any ticks before they bite.

INSPECT — Do daily tick checks on yourself, children and pets. Check yourself from head to toe. While nymphs are most commonly found on the lower legs, they may be anywhere on the body.

REMOVE — Remove ticks promptly. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has also been proven effective in preventing Lyme disease by washing ticks off the skin.

For the past two years, the Health Department has encouraged Vermonters to report ticks, including how many, and what type. A deer tick pulled off clothing on Sleepy Hollow Road, in Colchester, and a Lonestar tick pulled off a dog on Mosquitoville Road between Rygate and Peacham were among the hundreds of reports posted on the Health Department’s Tick Tracker website last year.

To report a tick, visit the tick tracker at: https://apps.health.vermont.gov/gis/vttracking/ticktracker/2015/

Photo: The Nature Conservancy

Elm tree restoration in Orleans County

in Barton/Orleans/Vermont

NEWPORT — Although there are over 30,000 American streets bearing the name of “elm,” the Dutch elm disease felled these majestic trees with their towering canopies. Around 77 million elms died by 1970 and no strains of the elm have been able to resist the disease. 

Christian Marks, an ecologist with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), has been developing new disease tolerant strains at Green Mountain College in Poultney, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service. These new strains will be planted in floodplains by TNC staff, the NorthWoods Stewardship Center of Charleston, and volunteers throughout Vermont. 

The restored floodplain forests will provide public demonstrations of the importance of elms for wildlife habitat and water quality.  American elms are uniquely adapted to flooding and help improve water quality by trapping sediment and absorbing excess nutrients like phosphorous. They provide habitat for eagles, osprey, otters, mink and a host of breeding songbirds. 

The group was recently in Orleans County, planting in the Willoughby Falls Wildlife Management Area, Orleans on the Barton River, South Bay WMA, and Coventry on the Black River.

Photo: The Nature Conservancy
Photo: The Nature Conservancy

“Over the next 3 years we will plant 7,000 American Elm trees and restore over 50 acres of floodplain forests that will improve water quality, fish and bird habitat and create a more resilient landscape for extreme weather events,” says Rose Paul, Director of Critical Lands & Conservation Science for the Nature Conservancy in Vermont. 
 
These spring plantings have been generously supported with funding from the Canaday Family Charitable Trust, Keurig Green Mountain, and Plum Creek Foundation. As a major landowner of working forests in Northern Vermont, Plum Creek has a vested interested in the health of Vermont’s riparian forests because of the important role these forests play in protecting communities and in providing enhanced recreational opportunities such as improved fishing.
 
The Nature Conservancy in Vermont is an environmental leader in safeguarding the natural resources of the Green Mountain State. They have conserved 300,000 acres of land, over 1,200 miles of shoreline, and manage and maintain 55 natural areas. To learn more and support their important work, please visit: www.nature.org/vermont.

Photo taken at Lake Seymour, by Tanya Muller.

Vermont walleye fishing season underway

in Outdoors/Vermont
Photo taken at Lake Seymour, by Tanya Muller.
Photo taken at Lake Seymour, by Tanya Muller.

NEWPORT — With some of the best walleye fishing in New England in the Northeast Kingdom, the Vermont walleye fishing season is underway. The season officially opened on Saturday. The Northeast Kingdom offers walleye fishing opportunities in Salem Lake, Island Pond, Clyde Pond, and the Clyde River.

In all waters of Vermont except Lake Carmi, Chittenden Reservoir and the Connecticut River, walleye and sauger have an 18” minimum length requirement and three-fish daily limit. The open season runs from May 2 to March 15, 2016.

output_uuBvWA“We expect walleye fishing may be good this spring in some of the Lake Champlain tributaries because the cold spring temperatures and late runoff have delayed spawning, which ultimately means more walleye will be in the rivers than we’d see during a normal spring,” said Chet MacKenzie, fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “Though it’s always difficult to predict, we’d expect the Winooski, Lamoille and Missisquoi Rivers to provide the best chance for anglers to connect with walleye early in the season.”

A number of other rivers and lakes across Vermont offer quality walleye fishing opportunities as well, though anglers should be aware that regulations may vary depending on the waterbody they are fishing.

Lake Carmi has a slot limit for walleye because of the lake’s high rates of natural walleye reproduction and high fishing pressure. The minimum length is 15 inches, and all walleye between 17 and 19 inches must be released. The daily limit is five walleye, but only one may be over 19 inches long. The season is open May 2 through March 15.

Chittenden Reservoir has special walleye regulations in order to produce large walleye that can help control its over-abundant yellow perch population, and provide anglers with an opportunity to harvest a trophy walleye. The minimum length is 22 inches, the daily limit is two, and the season is open June 1 through March 15.

Connecticut River walleye fishing rules are set by New Hampshire. No walleye between 16 and 18 inches may be kept and the daily limit is four fish, of which only one may be longer than 18 inches.

Vermont’s state record walleye weighed 14.55 lbs. and was caught in Lake Champlain by Richard Levesque of Swanton in 2010.

To learn more about fishing in Vermont or to purchase a Vermont fishing license, visit www.vtfishandwildlife.com.

Foreign Trade Zone expanded to include all of Lamoille County

in News/Vermont

MORRISVILLE — The Northeastern Vermont Development Association has officially been granted approval to expand its Foreign Trade Zone service area to include all of Lamoille County. NVDA first received its FTZ designation from the US Department of Commerce in March, 2013.

NVDA has since worked with the Lamoille Economic Development Corporation to make the FTZ program available to a greater number of Vermont businesses.

Businesses and industries within Lamoille, Caledonia, Essex, and Orleans Counties that import foreign goods or components into the region are now eligible to apply for reductions or eliminations in tariffs, duties and custom fees. 



NVDA and LEDC are available to meet with businesses interested in the program to discuss FTZ opportunities and benefits.

For more information or to schedule a visit you should contact:

David Snedeker at dsnedeker@nvda.net
John Mandeville at john@lamoilleeconomy.org

GMUW promotes 23rd annual National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive

in Vermont

NEWPORT — On May 9, 2015, the 23rd Annual National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive for the benefit of local food shelves will take place. This event, which happens across the U.S., is significant in Vermont where over 13 percent of families are considered food insecure and nearly 20 percent of children do not have enough nutritious food to eat on a daily basis.

Last year, nearly 32,000 pounds of food were collected in the Green Mountain United Way five counties and distributed to 20 of our food pantries at a time when their shelves are close to being empty after a hard winter.

GMUW helps to coordinate this very important food drive and are asking everyone to participate. On the morning of Saturday, May 9th, place your non-perishable food items in a bag at your mailbox and your letter carrier will be happy to pick it up for delivery to the food shelf nearest you. If you do not have a letter carrier, simply bring your donated items to your post office and they will take care of the delivery.

Please do not donate any outdated items as they will just be thrown away as per government regulations. Please also try to give useful items like cereal, peanut butter, canned vegetables and fruit, rice, and beans.

Let’s all take part in the biggest one-day food drive that takes place each year and brings in over 70 million pounds of food across our country. We can all make a difference by helping to Stamp Out Hunger.

For more information about GMUW, please visit www.gmunitedway.org.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont announces presidential run

in News/Vermont

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 12.18.36 PM

NEWPORT — The independent Vermont senator Bernie Sanders announced this morning that he is running for president. Sanders made the announcement in an email he sent to supporters and the media early Thursday morning. He will be running as a Democrat, and will provide Hillary Rodham Clinton with her first rival for the party’s nomination.

BELOW IS A COPY OF THE EMAIL THAT SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS SENT TO HIS SUPPORTERS

I am writing to inform you that I will be a candidate for President of the United States. I ask for your support.

Add your name to support my campaign.

For many months I have been traveling from coast to coast across our country, and have had the opportunity to meet with thousands of good, hard-working, and remarkable people. Like you and me, they are deeply concerned about the future of our country.

They wonder why they are working longer hours for lower wages. They worry about whether their kids will be able to afford college or get decent jobs. They fear that they may not have the savings to retire with dignity and security.

The challenges facing our country are enormous.

It’s not just that, for forty years, the middle class has been disappearing. It’s that 99% of all new income is going to the top 1%, and the grotesque level of wealth and income inequality today is worse than at any time since the late 1920s. The people at the top are grabbing all the new wealth and income for themselves, and the rest of America is being squeezed and left behind.

The disastrous decisions of the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case and in other related decisions are undermining the very foundations of American democracy, as billionaires rig the system by using their Super PACs to buy politicians and elections.

And the peril of global climate change, with catastrophic consequences, is the central challenge of our times and our planet.

The middle class in America is at a tipping point. It will not last another generation if we don’t boldly change course now.

After a year of travel, discussion and dialogue, I have decided to be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president. But let’s be clear. This campaign is not about Bernie Sanders. It’s about a grassroots movement of Americans standing up and saying: “Enough is enough. This country and our government belong to all of us, not just a handful of billionaires.”

Our movement needs people like you involved to help it succeed. Add your name now to say you support my campaign for president.

I run not to oppose any man or woman, but to propose new and far-reaching policies to deal with the crises of our times. And I run because I know we must change course now, or risk losing the future for so many to the interests of so few.

A successful national campaign is a massive undertaking, especially when we will be heavily outspent. It will require the active participation of millions of Americans in every community in our country. In fact, it will require nothing less than a political revolution which combats the demoralization and alienation of so many of our people from the political process.

Let me be very honest. It may be too late to stop the billionaire class from trying to buy the Presidency and Congress. The forces of greed already may be too powerful.

But we owe it to our children and grandchildren to try. We owe it to them to make the fight and, through the power of our numbers, turn back this assault on the foundation of our democracy and our future.

We are at a moment of truth. We need to face up to the reality of where we are as a nation, and we need a mass movement of people to fight for change.

I believe America is ready for a new path to the future.

On May 26th I will formally launch our campaign at the City Hall in Burlington, Vermont, where I served as Mayor.

I ask you to join with me in our campaign for President of the United States.

Sincerely,

Senator Bernie Sanders

Scenes from opening weekend of QNEK’s 23rd season

in Arts and Entertainment/Quebec/Vermont

Photos by Tanya Mueller

QNEK Productions kicked off its 23rd season with the dark and delightful comedy Arsenic and Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring. Newport Dispatch photographer Tanya Mueller captured these photos during Sunday’s performance. If you missed the shows last weekend, be sure to come up to the Haskell Opera House to catch one Friday or Saturday at 7:30 p.m., or Sunday at 2 p.m.

The fantastic cast features founder and Artistic Director Lynn Leimer, and favorites from both sides of the border, including:

Susan Lynn Johns – Derby
Mike Desjardins – Newport Center
Chris Planetta – Stanstead, QC
Ross Murray – Stanstead, QC
Doug Flint – Newport
Andrea Webster – Barton
Mark Rumery – Derby Line
Calvin Longe – Morgan
Jim Cross – Island Pond
Lonn Stewart – Newport
Ron St. John III – Newport

Photo courtesy of the Vermont State Police.

Rockslide in Royalton closes lane on I-89

in News/Vermont

Photo courtesy of the Vermont State Police.
Photo courtesy of the Vermont State Police.
ROYALTON — A rockslide on I-89 in Royalton created a traffic hazard and caused delays in the southbound lane, Vermont State Police reported on Tuesday. The incident took place at around 11:00 a.m.

The slide blocked the travel lane and part of the passing lane. Crews responded and set up signs keeping the road open to one lane.

Nobody was injured during the incident.

“We were going by northbound and saw it let go,” Janis Carrier, who witnessed the slide wrote. “Immediately called VSP. Very glad we were on the other side of the interstate and that no cars were present when that ledge let go. It was a big cloud of smoke through the air.”

Rockslides can be some of the most dangerous forms of deformation because of the way that large rocks are traveling quickly down slope; this large material can cause massive damage to anything in its path.

Photo courtesy of the Vermont State Police.
Photo courtesy of the Vermont State Police.

Report: Vermont is losing forestland

in News/Vermont

MONTPELIER – Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael Snyder unveiled a new report to the legislature last week that addresses the fragmentation of Vermont’s forests and makes recommendations for how to protect their integrity. The study shows that Vermont is losing forestland, while existing forests are being broken into fragmented parcels.

Last year, the legislature asked the commissioner to prepare the report.

The report describes forest fragmentation as:

“The breaking of large, contiguous forested areas into smaller pieces of forest, typically by roads, agriculture, utility corridors, subdivisions or other human development. It usually occurs incrementally, beginning with cleared swaths or pockets of non-forest within an otherwise unbroken expanse of tree cover. Then, over time, those non-forest pockets tend to multiply and expand and eventually the forest is fragmented and reduced to scattered, disconnected forest islands.”

It states that the general effect of fragmentation is the reduction in overall forest health. It also degrades habitat quality, leading to long-term loss of biodiversity, increases in invasive plants, pests, and pathogens, and reduction in water quality.

Snyder called on lawmakers to come back with plans to address what policy changes are needed locally, regionally, and statewide to protect forest health and integrity. He also gave the following suggestions:

Educate and engage Vermont landowners, schoolchildren, municipalities and land-use decision makers (e.g. realtors and developers) about the economic and ecological benefits of large forest blocks and the connectivity among smaller forest blocks.

Continue to invest in land conservation and strategically target investments to focus on areas that have the greatest ecological and economic values and are most at risk.

Support existing landowners to keep their land forested and to encourage new growth in existing settlements and near existing roadways to avoid incursions into high value forest blocks.

Consider additional tools for local governments and the state to discourage development that converts blocks of forest to other uses and requires mitigation when such development occurs.

Ensure that forest landowners can get value from their forested land through sustainable forestry practices and develop and create markets for Vermont forest products.

At the same time, many Vermont conservation, forestry, and recreation organizations noted the critical importance of Vermont’s forests and presented the legislature with a letter calling for a stakeholder process to develop recommendations to maintain the integrity of Vermont’s forests into the future. 
  
Representatives from several Vermont conservation organizations offered the following comments relative to the report’s release:

Audubon Vermont

“Forests are the reason Vermont has some of the highest diversity of breeding birds in the country. It is no wonder then that Vermont leads the nation in wildlife watching adding $288 million to our economy. Audubon members are concerned that forest birds have declined by 32%, due in part to the loss of forest habitat. We believe that Vermonters’ collective creativity can come up with effective ways to stem the declines in both birds and the forests they breed in.” — Jim Shallow, managing director of Audubon Vermont.

The Nature Conservancy of Vermont

“Intact, connected forests are integral to a thriving Vermont economy, healthy wildlife habitat, climate resiliency and recreation. Through science, policy, and land protection, The Nature Conservancy represents Vermonters who know that our forested connections are critical to sustaining a rich diversity of wildlife that’s essential to our culture and economy. We strongly endorse a stakeholder process so that Vermonters have an opportunity to share their ideas about protecting the forests that belongs to all of us.” — Heather Furman, Vermont state director of The Nature Conservancy.
 
The Trust for Public Land

“Vermont’s forests are the backbone of the rural landscape and tourism economy of our state, including such powerful places at the Long Trail, Camel’s Hump State Park, The Green Mountain National Forest, and many, many more.  Our forests provide outdoor classrooms for our children, places to hunt, fish, and hike, and jobs for thousands of people, all of which are threatened or altered by fragmentation.  The Trust for Public Land looks forward to continuing to work with Commissioner Snyder, the legislature, and other partners to protect Vermont’s forests, for now and future generations.” — Rodger Krussman, Vermont state director for The Trust for Public Land.
 
Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club

“Forest fragmentation is one of the greatest threats to the economic and ecological health of Vermont’s forests. The natural legacy we leave future generations of Vermonters depends on the steps we take now to develop sound policies that protect our forestlands.” — Rachel Stevens, chair of the Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club Forest and Wildlife Committee
 
Vermont Land Trust

“Forest owners share a personal commitment to enduring, responsible land management and they know well how their stewardship contributes to our economy, to environmental health, and to our citizens’ chance to enjoy the outdoors. If the forests that are not yet conserved lose their integrity, we worry about the impact on the woodland we have worked so hard to protect over the last 38 years.” — Gil Livingston, president of the Vermont land Trust.

Vermont Natural Resources Council

“Our forests define our state and provide an underpinning to our economic and environmental wellbeing. Quite simply, the importance of our forests cannot be overstated, but increasing land fragmentation is compromising their integrity. Today, sixty diverse organizations and individuals representing conservation, forestry, and recreation interests voiced their support for Vermont’s forests. It is time to be proactive, and we thank Commissioner Snyder and the legislature for working to keep our forests healthy and intact into the future.” — Jamey Fidel, forest and wildlife program director, Vermont Natural Resources Council

Police say that Allen Smith, 30, of Springfield, is being sought for 2nd degree murder.

Police looking for suspect in Vermont shooting death

in News/Vermont
Police say that Allen Smith, 30, of Springfield, is being sought for 2nd degree murder.
Police say that Allen Smith, 30, of Springfield, is being sought for 2nd degree murder.

SPRINGFIELD — The Vermont State Police Major Crime Unit say that they have secured an arrest warrant for a man they believe is connected to a recent shooting death in Springfield. The investigation team says that Allen Smith, 30, of Springfield, is being sought for 2nd degree murder charges relating to the death of Wesley Wing, also of Springfield. The shooting took place on April 18, 2015.

On Monday the Vermont investigation team joined forces with New Hampshire’s Keene Police Department as the investigation led them to that area as a possible location of Smith.

A search warrant was executed at a residence in Keene, but police say Smith had fled the area previously.

At that time the 2011 black Infinity allegedly operated by Smith during the shooting was seized by the Keene Police Department.

It has been learned that Smith is now operating a white 2004 Buick Rendezvous bearing NH registration 3364095.

The vehicle also has a pink “NY” symbol on the rear window and a “zebra heart” decal on the left rear passenger side window.

Smith is last believed to be wearing blue jeans/black shirt/grey and lime running shoes/NY Yankees hat with lime green/white lettering.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Springfield Police Department at 802-885-2113, any Vermont State Police barracks, or 911.

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