Monday, February 22, 2016

Defendants in Irasburg Poaching Case Avoid Jail in Plea Deal

Posted By on Mon, Feb 22, 2016 at 1:21 PM

  • Courtesy of the Barton Chronicle
  • Wayne Dion
An Irasburg couple, whom authorities alleged ran one of the most elaborate deer poaching operations in Vermont history, recently agreed to a plea deal that saw them lose their hunting privileges but avoid prison.

In Orleans Superior Court earlier this month, Wayne Dion pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of failure to tag big game and no contest to misdemeanor charges of baiting deer and taking deer out of season. Jennie Dion pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of possessing a deer taken by illegal means.

Wayne Dion, 67, was ordered to pay more than $2,500 in fines and restitution. Jennie Dion, 65, was ordered to pay $1,500 in fines and restitution.

As part of the agreement, both will lose their hunting licenses for five years, Orleans County State's Attorney Jennifer Barrett said in an interview.

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Monday, January 11, 2016

After 18 Months on the Lam, Murphy the Dog Rescued

Posted By on Mon, Jan 11, 2016 at 10:50 AM

  • Courtesy of Wilson Ring
  • Murphy the dog
Murphy is home.

After 559 days of roaming the Morrisivlle/Waterbury corridor after being spooked by a car accident, the golden retriever whose escapades captivated the region was captured in a trap on Saturday night.

He has been reunited with his owners in Morrisville, who were aided in their search by a band of volunteers who deployed traps and game cameras and coordinated responses to a slew of reported sightings.

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Amnesty May Be Coming for Queen City Chicken Owners

Posted By on Fri, Sep 25, 2015 at 5:32 PM

  • Sean Metcalf
Urban chicken keepers who’ve been exceeding Burlington’s four-bird limit may soon get a chance to come clean.

Burlington’s ordinance committee signed off Thursday on rules to govern the raising and slaughtering of livestock within city limits. The full city council is scheduled to vote on the regulations at its next meeting, in early October.

For years, Queen City chicken owners have complained about a city ordinance, created to regulate kennels, that prevents residents from owning more than four of any type of animal without a license. In 2010, after a man was busted for raising 10 chickens at his Old North End residence, city leaders agreed to take up the issue. Burlington didn’t have any rules governing urban livestock, so councilors asked a task force of urban-agriculture experts to come up with some. 

Based on the task force's report, and after more than a year of deliberation, the ordinance committee is proposing the  city's first-ever urban-agriculture regulations. 

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Talk of Cutting Back Dog Park Hours Draws Howls

Posted By on Wed, Aug 5, 2015 at 4:10 PM

The crowd at the parks commission meeting - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • The crowd at the parks commission meeting
An overflow crowd of dog lovers unleashed their opposition to reducing the size of the Starr Farm Dog Park and its hours during a Burlington Parks Commission meeting Tuesday night.

More than 50 people crammed into a room at the Burlington Department of Public Works to oppose possible changes at the popular New North End dog park. Some park neighbors have complained it is too noisy and busy, straining the facility and a small parking lot. Speakers disagreed, and most also opposed the idea of charging fees to use the park — especially for Burlington residents.

"I think it would ruin the park and it would really piss people off," Maureen Schakey of Burlington said just after the meeting, reiterating comments she made during the session. She added: "If you have a kid you don't have to pay to go to the playground. What's the difference?"

Catherine Foley said that she hears children at C.P.Smith School saying the Pledge of Allegiance and shouting on the playground from inside her house. "I don't call the city to complain, because our kids need education," she said. Dog park neighbors shouldn't complain either, Foley said.  And dogs need exercise, she said, adding, "The Starr Farm Dog Park is a jewel in the Burlington Park system." 

More than a dozen people, all fans of the park, spoke during the public comments period. No park critics spoke out. City Councilor Dave Hartnett (I-North District), who has called for changes on behalf of neighbors concerned about the park, was not at the meeting.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Lake Champlain Fish Die-Offs the New Normal, According to Biologists

Posted By on Mon, May 19, 2014 at 3:02 PM

  • Courtesy Vermont Fish & Wildlife's Facebook page
When 22-year-old Natalie Wheating headed to her Milton lakeside cabin last weekend to open up the camp for the season, she was startled by the sight that greeted her: "Hundreds, if not thousands" of dead fish were floating along the shore of the Lake Champlain.

Her first thought? "I just thought that something was being pumped into the water," said Wheating. 

The reason for the die-off, according to Vermont Fish and Wildlife, is a little less dramatic: Fisheries biologist Bernie Pientka said that mass deaths among alewives, an invasive species of herring, are normal in Lake Champlain at this time of year. Biologists believe the die-offs are a result of temperature fluctuations, food limitations and stress on the fish population following the winter season. 

"They're just not used to rapid temperature changes," said Pientka of the alewives, which first arrived in Lake Champlain in 2003. Alewives cause several problems for Lake Champlain. They outcompete native fish, such as rainbow smelt, and eat the eggs and larvae of other fish species. Alewives also cause major reproductive failure in landlocked lake trout and salmon. 

While the die-offs are "perfectly normal," Pientka said they're still worrisome for fisheries biologists. They point to the problem of invasive species in Lake Champlain, and act as a reminder of what can happen to an ecosystem put off kilter by invasive species. 

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Vermont Dignitary Visits Seven Days, Avoids Questions

Posted By on Tue, May 6, 2014 at 11:49 AM

  • Corey Grenier

In a devastating blow for office productivity in Burlington's South End, a moose showed up today. And did stuff. That people could take pictures of. When they weren't busy scurrying away when it changed directions and headed for them.

The moose, which appeared to be quite young, ambled along the bike path, walked the railroad tracks, took a brief dip in Lake Champlain, scurried up Battery Street, and took over the Twitter feeds of pretty much everyone who was close enough to take a picture, or knew someone close enough to take a picture. Like, for example, this one.
  • Logan Pintka

Local office workers (including almost everyone at Seven Days, not that it's our production day or anything), taxi drivers, television crews, passersby — basically, everyone stopped and stared. And occasionally retreated behind something large.

A police officer on the scene said that nobody at his department or Vermont Fish and Wildlife was interested in capturing the moose and plan to simply let it find its way home. Officers fanned out across the area, however, to make sure curious observers didn't get too close or do anything too stupid.

The first sightings of the moose came in South Burlington this morning, police said. Local dispatchers say they have been swamped by calls, and urged people to stay the heck away.

(Seven Days staff members Corey Grenier, Sarah Cushman, Alicia Freese, Ethan de Seife, Ashley Cleare, Don Eggert, Colby Roberts, Andrea Suozzo, John James, Alice Levitt, Aaron Shrewsbury, Bobby Hackney, Diane Sullivan, Michael Bradshaw, Robyn Birgisson, Cheryl Brownell, Julia Atherton and Logan Pintka contributed to this report.)

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

This Week's Issue: Hunting Trouble, Prison Sex and an M.I.A. Delegation

Posted By on Wed, Oct 30, 2013 at 5:11 PM

While you're putting together your Halloween getup tonight — bonus candy for anyone in a homemade F-35 costume — give this week's news and politics stories in Seven Days a read. Here's what you'll find.

Pick up this week's issue in print, online or on the app. Finally, go Sox.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

This Week's Issue: Methadone, Molly and More

Posted By on Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 5:13 PM


Grab your favorite pumpkin-flavored coffee drink — that little chill in the morning means fall is here, and the first Seven Days of the season hit the streets today. Here's what you'll find for news and politics this week:

Pick up this week's issue in print, online or on the app.

This week's cover image by the late Stephen Huneck is courtesy of the Stephen Huneck Gallery. See this week's cover story about the future of Dog Mountain.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Scoreboard: This Week's Winners and Losers

Posted By on Fri, Aug 9, 2013 at 4:00 AM

Who won and lost the week in Vermont news and politics?

Switch-bumpers, snake-haters, calculators, power companies, TV stations, defense attorneys, creepy travel writers and more!

Here's the Scoreboard for the week of Friday, Aug. 9: 


Brooks McArthur — The Burlington defense attorney played some serious offense this week on behalf of his client, Burlington Police Department Deputy Chief Andi Higbee. When the Vermont State Police refused to give the Burlington Free Press a copy of a cruiser cam video of Higbee's July DUI arrest, Brooks took it upon himself to hand over a copy. A savvy way to score points with Freeps transparency czar Mike Donoghue and shift the conversation to why Higbee was pulled over in the first place. 

WPTZ-TV — Last month WCAX-TV announced that, come September, it would expand its news coverage to weekend mornings. But the station's main competitor, WPTZ-TV, beat Channel 3 to the punch, launching its own weekend news programming last weekend without fanfare. What's more? Channel 5 will feature four full hours of news coverage — twice as much as Channel 3's promised.

The Timothy Szad Beat — The recently-released sex offender is back in town after a brief trip to California. And that's got the state's cops and courts reporters in a tizzy reporting his every last move. Public service journalism or tabloid reporting?

Patrick Leahy — Because the U.S. Senate President Pro Tem's got some very special friends in the entertainment, defense, telecom, legal, tech and beverage industries.

Peter Welch — A BuzzFeed puff piece on the Vermont Congressman's bipartisan street cred netted something even better for Welch: a glowing editorial from the Saint Albans Messenger's Emerson Lynn echoing Welch's — ahem, BuzzFeed's — talking points.

Losers and tie score after the jump...

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Boa Constrictor Found at Burlington's Leddy Park

Posted By on Tue, Aug 6, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Wasn't expecting to see this in the pile of media releases in my inbox this morning: A report of a five-foot-long boa constrictor at Leddy Park. OMG.

Per the Burlington Police Department:

On August 5th, 2013 at approximately 1727 hours, Burlington Police responded to the area of Leddy Park for the report of an exotic snake. Upon arrival in the area, officers discovered a large domesticated snake, not native to Vermont, on the southeast corner of the parking area.

Animal experts from the Vermont Wildlife Refuge Center were contacted, and were able to respond to the scene and assist in the capture of the snake. The snake was reported to be in good health and will be cared for by the Refuge Center. 

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