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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.

Photo by Alain De Le Bruere.

Moose goes for a run on Lake Memphremagog

in Newport/Vermont
Photo by Alain De Le Bruere.
Photo by Alain De Le Bruere.

Locals watched a moose going for a run on Lake Memphremagog yesterday. Alain De Le Bruere captured the event in the photo above, and Robert McDowell took the video and photo below. De Le Bruere said that he was cleaning his yard at around 6 p.m. when he saw it go running toward the lake.

Photo by Robert McDowell.
Photo by Robert McDowell.

Nominations welcome for Vermont’s Poet Laureate

in Arts and Entertainment/Vermont

NEWPORT — Governor Peter Shumlin and the Vermont Arts Council are inviting nominations for the appointment of a new Vermont Poet Laureate. Sydney Lea, who has been the Vermont Poet Laureate since 2011, will retire from the position this year.

The deadline for nominations is May 1, 2015.

“We look forward to working with Governor Shumlin to select Vermont’s new Poet Laureate – a daunting task in a state with so many critically acclaimed poets,” said Alex Aldrich, Vermont Arts Council executive director. “Vermont has always had a deep connection to poetry, and the poets who make Vermont home are internationally renowned. Robert Frost, appointed in 1961, was Vermont’s first Poet Laureate and began a long tradition of honoring this literary form. Whoever is chosen will join an incredible line-up of former laureates that includes Ellen Bryant Voigt, Galway Kinnell, Louise Gluck, Ruth Stone, Grace Paley, and of course Syd Lea.”

A new Poet Laureate is appointed every four years and serves as Vermont’s ambassador for the art of poetry, participating in official ceremonies and readings within Vermont and nationally. This is an honorary position, appointed by the Governor based on the recommendation of a distinguished panel of judges. The selected poet will receive a $1000 honorarium provided by the Arts Council.

Nominations for Poet Laureate are accepted only by submission of an online nomination form that can be found BY CLICKING HERE.

Questions regarding nominations should be directed to: Michele Bailey, Senior Program Director, at 802. 828.3294 or mbailey@vermontartscouncil.org.

Vermont trout fishing season opened today

in Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — Despite the late return of spring, Vermont’s traditional trout fishing season opened today, marking the start of some of the best trout fishing of the year in the Green Mountain State.

Vermont’s spring trout season, which is widely popular among resident and non-resident anglers alike, can often afford an angler the greatest opportunity to catch trout in rivers and streams.

“Many of the biggest brown and rainbow trout caught in Vermont rivers each year are taken during the spring season,” said Eric Palmer, director of fisheries with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. “Though the cold, high water early in the season may force anglers to fish slower in order to tempt sluggish fish, as the spring temperatures rise, the action can really pick up.”

Vermont is known for its excellent fishing opportunities for wild trout, as well as for stocked trout – including large, two-year old trophy trout that will be stocked statewide in the coming weeks.

Over 18,000 trophy trout will be stocked throughout Vermont in 2015 and anglers will be able to fish over 34 miles of rivers and 28 lakes and ponds that are designated as trophy water.

Vermont’s landscape offers quality habitat for brook, brown and rainbow trout, including a mix of smaller, boulder-lined mountain streams and larger, meandering creeks and rivers at lower elevations.

“Whether you prefer to fish smaller, remote streams in the woods, larger rivers in the valleys, or one of our many lakes and ponds, Vermont really has it all,” said Palmer. “We have excellent populations of trout across a range of habitats and that makes Vermont a special place to fish for people of all ages and abilities.”

As an added bonus, Vermont’s catch-and-release bass fishing season in lakes also starts on April 11, and continues through June 12 when the regular bass season starts. Only lures and flies may be used during the catch-and-release season, and bass must be released immediately.

Hummus sold in Vermont recalled over possible Listeria contamination

in News/Vermont

BURLINGTON – The Vermont Department of Health is notifying Vermonters about a voluntary recall of Sabra Dipping Co., LLC Classic Hummus due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

There have been no reports of illness related to the product, which is sold in Vermont.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in pregnant women, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. Healthy children and adults can also become infected with Listeria, but they rarely become seriously ill, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For a full list of the products being recalled that were distributed to retail outlets, including food service accounts and supermarket visit: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm441863.htm

Fatal snowmobile accident in Wheelock

in Lyndonville/News/Vermont/Wheelock

WHEELOCK — A snowmobile crash on a VAST trail near Fall Brook Road in the town of Wheelock Saturday evening left a 47-year-old Connecticut man dead.

Police are reporting that Keith Whitney, of East Haven, was operating a snowmobile on VAST Corridor 52, when he went off trail and collided with a metal cable that was across two trees in a driveway leading to posted property.

Whitney was thrown from the snowmobile. Someone riding with him contacted 911.

Whitney was transported to the Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital but did not survive the crash.

Members from the Sheffield-Wheelock Fire Department, Lyndon Rescue, and CALEX responded to the crash. Police say the investigation into the crash is still ongoing at this time.

Orleans and Essex ranked least healthy counties in Vermont

in Newport/News/Vermont

Orleans_FotorNEWPORT — Vermonters are not equally healthy. According to the 2015 County Health Rankings released by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Orleans and Essex counties rank the least healthy counties in the state.

The County Health Rankings shows, county-by-county across the nation, what makes people sick or healthy, and what can be done to create healthier places to live, learn, work and play.

“The counties of Vermont are as unique as each individual Vermonter,” said James Biernat, director of the Newport district office, which covers Orleans County and northern Essex County. “There are economic and accessibility challenges particular to this region that make moving the needle of health outcomes more difficult.”

This year Chittenden County was ranked the healthiest, as measured by length of life, quality of life, health behaviors, clinical care and the physical environment.

The Health Department continues to work to improve the health in the Northeast Kingdom. One such example is that now more employers than ever support breastfeeding in the workplace.

“Our local career center opened its doors to community indoor walking,” Biernat said. “A local store has taken down outside tobacco advertising. A community garden was built and continues to grow. This is public health in the making. These are the steps that lead to healthy Vermonters living in healthy communities.”

[AUDIO] Why is the AnC Bio project on hold and what needs to be done to move forward

in Newport/News/Vermont

NEWPORT — On Sunday, VTDigger broke news that state approval for AnC Bio Vermont was suspended in August. Newport Dispatch News spoke with Patricia Moulton, the secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development on Monday.

In this interview, Moulton explains why the AnC Bio project in Newport is on hold, and what needs to be done for the project to move forward.

911 dispatch center in Derby likely to close within 45 days

in Derby/Newport/News/Vermont

dispatcher1_FotorDERBY — Vermont’s public safety commissioner Keith Flynn told WCAX-TV reporters that the Derby 911 dispatch center will most likely be closing within the next 45 days.

The move is estimated to save the state around $2 million annually, but has come under criticism from lawmakers who fear that fewer dispatchers could cause a public safety issue.

Flynn told WCAX reporters that the consolidation is not going to affect emergency responder service, and the only thing that will change is the service delivery method.

The Professional Firefighters of Vermont (PFFV) disagrees. The union voted at their quarterly membership meeting to support the Vermont State Employees Association in opposing the cuts to the dispatch centers in Derby and Rutland.

“Response times are paramount and the members of the PFFV would hate to see anyone get hurt or killed because of cuts to public safety,” PFFV President Ben O’Brien said. “The longer it takes for responders to get out the door, the longer a fire goes unsuppressed or a medical condition goes untreated.”

The Vermont State Police have already confirmed that tests of the new system are already underway, with some 911 calls coming in to Derby having being rerouted to Williston.

Around 30 people are expected to lose their jobs as a result of the closings in both Derby and Rutland.

Police find 22-year-old St. Johnsbury man dead in Lyndonville

in Lyndonville/Newport/Vermont

breaking-news2_Fotor

LYNDONVILLE — Polcie say that they recovered the body of a 22-year-old man from the Passumpsic River in Lyndonville. It is believed that the man fell through the ice.

According to a statement issued by the Vermont State Police, Alex Duranleau, of St. Johnsbury, was found deceased after a 45 minute search of the area by the State Police Scuba Team along with members of the Lyndonville and Sheffield-Wheelock Swift Water Rescue Team.

Chief Jack Harris of the Lyndonville Police Department began the investigation on Friday, when Duranleau’s fiancé reported him missing.

The woman told police that the last time she saw him was on Thursday at approximately 4:00 p.m. He had not reported to work or for classes at Lyndon State College.

Police were able to locate Duranleau’s vehicle at the Lyndon Park and Ride on Center Street. Chief Harris conducted a quick search of the area and located fresh foot tracks in the snow leading to the river. A jacket matching the description of one Duranleau was wearing was found in the snow.

Chief Harris requested assistance from the Vermont State Police, and a K-9 unit was deployed to the area. They were able to track Duranleau from his car along the VAST trail and to the river where the K-9 indicated where Duranleau was.

The scene was secured for the night while a team could be brought in during daylight hours.

A search of the river underneath the ice was conducted and Duranleau was located deceased after a 45 minute search.

Police are saying there is nothing at this time to indicate any foul play.

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