Lamoille in the News
by Mickey Smith
A 71 year old Morristown resident was charged with multiple accounts of aggravated sexual assault as lewd and lascivious conduct with a child as part of an investigation that began last month when a 10 year old girl alleged sexual abuse by Alton “Sonny” McFarlane.
The initial investigation led to McFarlane being charged with lewd conduct with a child. As a result of that charge two other women came forward alleging years of sexual assault dating back to the late 1970s. Both of those incidents are alleged to have occurred repeatedly and involved children under the age of 14, and included physical contact, to the point of alleged sexual intercourse. All the alleged victims were well known by McFarlane, if not related to him.
According to an affidavit prepared by Morristown Police Detective Corporal Ryan Bjerke, exact dates were not known, but one of the victims alleged an incident when she was still in a car seat, so thought sexual abuse could have began when she was as young as three or four.
The affidavit states when McFarlane was questioned, he admitted to some acts of touching the young girls' breasts, but did not confess to sexual intercourse, though it was among alleged acts.
On Wednesday, October 8, he was charged with multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault and lewd conduct with a minor, relating to the allegations by the two most recent victims.
Judge Dennis Pearson ordered he be held without bail.
Morristown Police Detective Corporal Ryan Bjerke states active follow up is occurring and anyone with information related to these charges or other offenses is asked to call the Morristown Police Department at 888-4211.
by Andrew Martin
Two local towns are now the co-owners of a piece of equipment that will help them maintain their infrastructure in a cost effective manner. Morristown and Johnson have partnered with Richmond and Waterbury to purchase a trailer-mounted vactor that will now allow the four towns to better clean and maintain their sewer lines, catch basins, and stormwater lines. The collaborative agreement to purchase and maintain the vactor was made with the aid of several state agencies and will allow the towns to cease renting expensive equipment to perform the same task. Work to make the joint purchase began several years ago and the vactor was delivered to Johnson last week.
The towns of Johnson and Morristown recently purchased a new vactor as part of a cooperative venture with Waterbury and Richmond. The new piece of equipment will be used to help maintain and clean the stormwater and wastewater infrastructure in the four towns. Seen above in the photo are members of the road crews from each of the four towns which were trained in how to use the new piece of machinery last week. - Photo courtesy of Kimberly Komer of the LCCDThe main goal of using the vactor, which is essentially a vacuum excavator, is not only to better maintain the infrastructure of the towns but to also prevent debris, chemicals, sediments, leaves, and other pollutants from entering storm drains and eventually making their way into our waterways.
“Over 10-20 years it (the vactor) should improve the efficiency of our water systems and reduce pollution as well as save the towns money over their current contracts with vendors,” stated Jim Pease of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. Pease spearheaded the movement to acquire the vactor for the four towns and wrote the grant that was awarded to the project.
“There aren’t a lot of examples of towns sharing equipment,” Pease continued, “However I’m optimistic that it can work.”
Pease went on to explain that it isn’t feasible for a town the size of Morrisville or Johnson to purchase a vactor on its own due to the high cost and fact that it wouldn’t be used that much. However, a collaborative effort makes it more affordable and ensures that the equipment sees more use.
“It’s a very useful and worthwhile piece of equipment to have,” Pease concluded.
“This is a good way for us to share the costs on something that none of us could use fulltime or afford,” added Morristown Town Administrator Dan Lindley, “We have been successful in the past with similar situations and arrangements.”
The purchase of the vactor was made possible in large part to grant funding as well as some matching funding provided by the four towns. According to Pease a $150,000 grant for the purchase of the vactor was awarded to the project by the Vermont Agency of Transportation. Roughly $23,000 was provided by the Department of Environmental Conservation to help cover the necessary match for that grant, and each of the four towns provided approximately $4,000 to cover the remaining costs.
Morristown’s Dan Lindley feels that his town will make their money back within the first year of using the vactor. In the past, Morristown has rented equipment to perform the same work the vactor will now be used for. However, now that the town is a partial owner of such a piece of equipment he believes more of the work will be done each year than normally could have been paid for.
According to Pease throughout the project a search was underway for a fifth town to take part in the mutual agreement. At this point the town of Hyde Park has shown interest in entering into the collaborative effort to use and maintain the vactor, but town officials are currently waiting to see how the effort goes before committing to it.
Pease also explained that as part of the grant funding each of the four towns sent two employees to be trained in how to use the vactor. That training occurred during the week of October 10 in Johnson, which is where the vactor will be stored when not in use.
by Andrew Martin
The Lamoille County Sheriff’s Department is working to expand the area covered by its recently constructed communications tower on Davis Hill in Hyde Park. As part of that effort the department has received a Certificate of Public Good (CPG) from the State of Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) for an additional antenna that will be placed on a former wind tower on Route 100 in Hyde Park in order to extend radio coverage to the area of North Hyde Park and Eden.
According to LCSD Sheriff Roger Marcoux, the new antenna is needed due to the fact that the new tower on Davis Hill is shorter than originally planned, which has reduced the amount of coverage area his dispatchers can communicate with during emergencies in North Hyde Park and Eden.
“We can’t hit North Hyde Park as well as we could have with a higher altitude tower,” Marcoux explained.
When this fact became clear, the search for a site to place an additional antenna closer to North Hyde Park that would remedy the issue and extend the coverage area began. A solution emerged when Ken Harvey and the department reached an agreement to place the antenna on a former wind generation tower on property Harvey owns at 3277 Route 100 in Hyde Park. The application for a CPG for the project was filed on June 30, 2014.
“In essence this project helps to finish off the Davis Hill project without having to get extra height on that tower,” Marcoux explained.
Before work to place the antenna on the wind tower could begin a CPG had to first be acquired. On September 18 the Public Service Board ruled that “the installation and operation of a wireless telecommunications facility… at 3277 VT Route 100 in Hyde Park…will promote the general good of the state…”. According to the official decision by the Public Service Board, the application for the CPG asked that the project be viewed as ‘de minimis modifications’ due to the fact that it would require only small modifications to an already existing structure.
The PSB decision went on to explain that the project calls for a 10 foot antenna to be installed at the top of the 100 foot lattice tower. A project such as this is required to extend no more than 10 feet from the existing structure in order to qualify as “de minimis modifications” – meaning that the rule applied to the antenna installation. With that in mind, the PSB issued the CPG for the project.
According to Marcoux the Davis Hill tower is nearly complete. There is one antenna left to install on that tower before the old tower nearby can be taken down and a few other maintenance tasks can be performed at the Davis Hill site. Marcoux also added that work to install the last antenna on Davis Hill and the additional antenna on Ken Harvey’s property are both waiting on the vendor to come and complete the work. The Davis Hill tower was up and operational at the end of August.
“It’s been a long process,” Marcoux stated, “It took quite a while to get the Davis Hill project done.”
“We are happy we are going to be helping the North Hyde Park and Eden Fire Department,” Marcoux concluded.
According to Marcoux no definite figures on the cost of installing the antenna on the Harvey property are yet available.
by Mickey Smith
MORRISTOWN – The punch list is getting smaller and smaller as the new Route 100 (alternate truck route) comes closer and closer to opening.
Chris Jolley, of the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), gave the News & Citizen a tour of the project pointing out the final pieces of the puzzle to be put in place before the picture is complete. Jolley expects the road will be completely open around the end of October or first of November.
One of the most noticeable pieces left to finish is the new light at the Bridge Street intersection of the bypass, as well as some refinements to the light at the Routes 15 and 100 intersection. Jolley said they will be installing a new recognition system that uses cameras to change the light as needed, rather than the current timing system.
Another big change, prior to the opening of the road will be the closing of Wilkins Street. He said that could happen as soon as the week of October 20. At that point, they would open the bypass from Bridge Street to Old Creamery Road (the new access road installed to get people to the businesses on the west end of the former Wabun Avenue and Wilkins Street, including Donald Blake Construction, Lost Nation Brewery and Custom Metal Fabricators). He said this section will most likely be opened up before the rest of the road, to give them time to install the guardrails and ditching that will delineate the end of Wilkins Street.
Other work that needs to be completed includes: some chain link fence, ditching and paving of side roads and driveways and a little topsoil removal.
During the tour, a new piece of equipment was being used to put a small groove into the pavement. Jolley said the grooves are about 75-80 microns deep (as a comparison, hair is about 50 microns in width). The lines get painted into the groove so a snowplow's blade will slide over the lines and not scrape up the paint.
Towards the end of the month one of the large digital message boards will be moved to Brooklyn Street to remind motorists that a stop sign will be erected at the bottom of Brooklyn Street (the intersection with Bridge Street).
More than 40 years in the making, the new road will be a limited access highway, meaning it will be closed to: hitchhikers, pedestrians, stopping for hitchhikers, animals, bicycles, farm machinery and snow vehicles. The road has a posted 40 mile per hour speed limit and once on the road, the only points of access to the village/traditional commercial side will be at Bridge Street and Stafford Avenue. Two small access roads have been built to get people to what used to be the end of Wabun Avenue and Wilkins Street, as well as Professional Drive, as the bypass will bisect these roads.
by Andrew Martin
Plans for some paving and other reconstruction work in Wolcott may be put on hold. Town officials had planned to have a section of East Hill Road resurfaced as well as work done to the bridge over the Lamoille River on Elmore Pond Road, but both projects may have to be delayed until next spring.
According to Wolcott Selectboard chair Belinda Clegg, the project to pave roughly three-tenths of a mile on East Hill is being delayed due to the fact that most paving companies in the state are swamped this year. While the town has received a bid of $30,008 for the job from Grey’s Paving, the company likely wouldn’t be able to conduct the work until November. The board feels that November would be too late to start a job on such a steep hill and for that reason decided to wait on the job until spring. The Wolcott Selectboard has taken the bid under advisement, but according to Clegg the job will likely go back out to bid again next spring.
Clegg also explained that the town has budgeted roughly $40,000 for paving for this fiscal year, and for that reason plans are in the works to resurface a portion of School Hill Road as well. However, that road is also fairly steep and that project has been delayed until next year, too.
Another project in Wolcott that involves work to the Elmore Pond Road bridge could also be put on hold until spring. The project involves a rebuild of the top portion of the bridge. Work included in this will be installing new rebar and concrete decking before the bridge and its approaches are resurfaced. According to Clegg, the town is supposed to hear by the middle of October if the contractor awarded the job will be able to perform the work this fall or not. However, if the project is delayed until next spring it should not affect the state funding the town has received for the work. According to Clegg the $47,200 grant that the town has received for the project does not expire until the end of 2015, meaning that the work can be performed next spring and summer. The total cost of the project is anticipated to be $52,414. Wolcott’s roughly $5,200 of that total cost will be covered by the $10,000 that the town budgets each year for bridge maintenance.
Area Democratic candidates Mark Woodward, Linda Martin and Avram Patt's names appear on the list of people to whom the gun control political action committee “GunSense” made donations.
Each was listed as being sent $100 by the group. All three said they did not accept the money or cash the check. Patt said he returned the money. He said he did not ask for or expect a contribution.
Incumbents Woodward and Martin's names were brought up on a statewide internet news site because they have also received high marks from NRA for their stances on gun rights. Woodward expects a small donation from the National Rifle Association and both he and Martin are endorsed by that group.
by Andrew Martin
Voters who go to the polls on Tuesday, November 4, in Morristown will have an additional item on the ballot. The Morristown Selectboard and town officials have finalized the plans for the bond vote that will ask voters to allow the town to purchase the .14-acre lot and building at 43 Portland Street known as the Tegu Building. The bond vote is for the amount of $600,000, as the town has some money set aside already for the eventual purchase of a new building.
Morristown officials made the decision to purchase a permanent home for the town offices several years ago and began the process of making that a reality. The town has leased its current home for a number of years. After a long process of discussion and public input, the board decided to move forward with buying the current home of the town offices and is now presenting that option to voters on election day. A previous attempt to purchase the lot that the Nepveu building sits on for the same purpose fell through.
The official bond vote asks “Shall notes or bonds of the Town of Morristown in an amount not to exceed Six Hundred Thousand Dollars ($600,000) to be borrowed for a period not to exceed Thirty Years, be authorized for the purpose of financing the cost of making certain public improvements… The purchase of real property and improvements to a building to be utilized as a Municipal Office Building and Town Hall on property located at 43 Portland Street...”
According to Morristown Town Administrator Dan Lindley the actual total cost of the purchase is $900,000. The town also has plans to make several upgrades to the building once the sale is completed. Those improvements would include upgrades to the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems in the building. Replacing the windows and other energy upgrades would also occur.
“In our opinion these are the things that need to be done immediately,” Lindley explained, “This will help save money on the energy side, and the ventilation system has been pieced together for years. This will make it much cheaper and easier to heat and cool the building.”
The planned improvements and the actual purchase of the building have a final total cost of approximately $1,050,000. However, Lindley explained that the town has roughly $478,000 already set aside for just such a project and would use those funds in addition to the $600,000 bond to cover the cost of the purchase and upgrades.
“This is actually cheaper than leasing,” Lindley explained, “We’ve been working on this for several years now and this is the cheapest option out of all the things that we have considered for a permanent town space.”
Lindley added that the cost of paying back the bond will actually have a negligible effect on the tax rate. Even on a 20-year note it will be cheaper for taxpayers to fund the repayment of the bond than to continue paying to lease town office space. He also added that purchasing a lot downtown and constructing a completely new building for town office space would cost a bare minimum of roughly $1.3 million.
Several informational meetings will be held regarding the bond vote before November 4. The first meeting will be held on Saturday, October 25, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Tegu Building, and a second will be held on Monday, October 27, as part of the regular selectboard meeting that begins at 6 p.m. If the bond is approved by voters the closing for the purchase must take place on or before December 7 of this year.
This Week's Photos
by Mickey Smith
Shortly after noon on Friday, October 3, the Lamoille County Sheriff's Department was called to a Silver Ridge Road residence in Hyde Park for an alleged burglary suspect who had been caught in the house by the homeowner.
Upon arrival, deputies met up with the homeowners and the suspect, who was later identified as Joseph Ainsworth, 24, of Hyde Park. Police allege they found Ainsworth's vehicle parked in the driveway of the residence. They allege he admitted to committing the burglary and consented to having his vehicle searched.
During the search police allege they found a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun, along with ammunition. A check of the handgun's serial number revealed the firearm and ammunition had been reported stolen from a Stagecoach Road residence in Morristown.
The Lamoille County Sheriff's Department called in Morristown Police to further question the man about the stolen gun and the press release states Ainsworth admitted to being involved with that burglary as well. Also found in the car were illegal substances and a small amount of cash believed to have been taken from another Silver Ridge Road residence.
He was arrested and charged with two counts of burglary, possession of a depressant/narcotic drugs, petit larceny and possession of stolen property. He was lodged at the Northeastern Correctional Center in St. Johnsbury on a lack of $10,000 bail.
Power Play Sports, a sporting goods retailer on Portland Street in Morrisville, has won a contract worth over $46,000 to supply Lacrosse gear to outfit all the U.S. Coast Guard Lacrosse teams. This is the largest single order Power Play Sports has ever won.
Caleb Magoon, owner Power Play Sports
When asked to what he attributes this success, owner Caleb Magoon said “In April of this year the Lamoille Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) put on the first Lamoille Region Business Assistance Forum in the Community Room at Green Mountain Tech. They gathered together representatives from nine different State and Federal agencies that provide assistance to small businesses in Vermont. One of these was the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), a program that is part of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. They work with businesses to get them tied into the various bid opportunities available with government agencies at the Federal, State and local levels. I contacted their representative for Lamoille, Joanne Spaulding, who assisted me in getting my business listed on the Federal procurement/bid site. One bid opportunity that came through that I decided to take a crack at was for all this Lacrosse gear for the U.S. Coast Guard. No one was more surprised than me when the bid was successful. Without the LEDC having put on the business assistance forum I would never have known about PTAC and without Joanne’s help I would never have successfully registered on the Federal site. I have worked with John Mandeville at the LEDC several times and can tell you for sure that he and the LEDC are huge assets to Lamoille County. I look forward to doing more business with the government and to utilizing John’s and the LEDC’s assistance in the future as my business continues to grow.”
by Andrew Martin
Morrisville: Changes to the face of one of Morrisville’s downtown buildings are on the way. The Morristown Board of Health has determined that the debris falling from the façade of 82 Portland Street, the Nepveu building, is a public health hazard. The Morristown Selectboard, which serves as the Board of Health, made the ruling at their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, September 29, beginning at 6 p.m.
Along with the Board of Health and several community members the meeting on September 29 was also attended by Normand, Judith, and David Nepveu. The meeting began with Morristown Health Officer Todd Thomas presenting his findings regarding the debris that had fallen from the façade of the Nepveu building on September 23 and asked that the owners remedy the situation. The Nepveus also testified that they had already done some work to fix the issue with the building’s façade.
After considering the testimony of Thomas, other witnesses, and the Nepveus, the Board of Health “unanimously decided that the falling debris from the façade of the Nepveu Building at 82 Portland Street constituted a significant public health hazard.”
As part of the meeting a discussion also took place between town officials and the Nepveus on how best to go about mitigating the situation at the building. A decision was reached that the Nepveus would close off the half of the sidewalk closest to their building with a snow-fence by the end of the day on Tuesday, September 30, in order to prevent pedestrians from being harmed by additional falling debris. The owners of the building also agreed to further inspect the entire façade and to either screw down any loose materials, board up sections that cannot otherwise be secured, or remove loose materials if that is the best option. The town also requested that the Nepveus put contact information in the front building of their window, which they have done.
As part of the decision it was agreed that the Nepveus would secure the façade prior to the next selectboard meeting on Tuesday, October 14, at 6 p.m. and that the work would be inspected by Health Officer Todd Thomas.
While the Nepveus have already installed the snow-fence and placed their contact information in the window of their building they may have additional concerns to deal with. According to Thomas the State Department of Health is now involved in the case and will possibly require that the proper lead and asbestos remediation takes place as part of the securing of the façade.
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