Monday, June 20, 2016

Purloined Peonies and Disappearing Day Lilies: Plant Bandit Strikes in Burlington

Posted By on Mon, Jun 20, 2016 at 6:39 PM

Anna Carey stands in her garden on Blodgett Street - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • Anna Carey stands in her garden on Blodgett Street
A wave of front yard plant thefts in Burlington over a 10-day span has harried homeowners concerned about the prospect of a serial green-thumbed thief — or thieves.

Bandits dug up hostas, iris and other perennials by the roots, made off with hanging baskets and annuals, and snipped cut flowers before their owners could put them in vases. One resident lost apple trees planted in memory of a loved one.

Front Porch Forum, the neighborhood email newsletter, reported 26 posts about purloined plants dating back to June 8. The incidents ranged from the South End to the North End, with a concentration on streets in and around the Old North End.

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Media Note: Rutland Herald, Times Argus to Scrap Monday-Wednesday Print Editions

Posted By on Mon, Jun 20, 2016 at 6:23 PM

Rutland Herald website - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • Rutland Herald website
Updated at 11:20 p.m.

Starting next month, the oldest daily newspaper in Vermont will no longer be a daily newspaper.

The Rutland Herald and its sister publication, the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus, plan to cease print publication on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, sources within the family-owned company said late Monday afternoon. The newspapers will continue publishing online those days and will still distribute a print edition Thursday through Sunday. The changes are set to take effect the week of July 4.

Publisher Catherine Nelson briefed Herald employees on the changes Monday afternoon, while owner R. John Mitchell did the same with Times Argus staffers. Neither responded to requests for comment. Hours after Seven Days first reported the development, both newspapers published stories online confirming it.

In an interview with the Herald, Mitchell framed the move as a means of avoiding further layoffs. The papers have repeatedly trimmed staff in recent years.

"We’ve cut, I think, all the jobs we can without really decimating the newsroom," Mitchell told his paper. "This is an attempt to keep from having dramatic layoffs in the newsroom and to try and monetize the technical base we’ve built for social media."

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Winooski City Manager, Who Helped the Onion City Bloom, to Resign

Posted By on Mon, Jun 20, 2016 at 11:46 AM

Winooski City Manager Katherine “Deac” Decarreau - ANDY DUBACK
  • Andy Duback
  • Winooski City Manager Katherine “Deac” Decarreau
Updated June 20, 2016 at 6:35 p.m. after interviews with Katherine Decarreau and Mayor Seth Leonard.

Winooski City Manager Katherine Decarreau, who has overseen a revival of the Onion City during her seven years on the job, is resigning to take a position with the Chittenden Central Supervisory Union, the city announced Monday.

Decarreau, a city native and a Winooski High School graduate known as “Deac,” will depart August 1 to become the executive director of finance and operations for the union, which includes seven schools and 3,200 students in Essex and Westford.

“The opportunities in front of us are exciting and will require a very different skill set than the ones I brought to the position when I arrived,” Decarreau said in a prepared statement. “It is a really good time for me to return to more nuts-and-bolts work that I love. It is an equally good time for the city to evaluate our needs moving forward and to hire a new manager with the skills that will take us forward for the next part of our development.”

During Decarreau’s time in office, Winooski, which had long struggled to recover from the closure of its mills, welcomed an influx of young residents and workers and saw its downtown become a trendy destination.

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Trooper, Burlington Woman Honored for I-89 Rescue in Colchester

Posted By on Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 3:01 PM

Beth Howe - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • matthew thorsen
  • Beth Howe
A Vermont State Police sergeant and a Burlington resident who in December pulled a woman from a burning car after a collision on Interstate 89 were honored at a Statehouse ceremony Friday.

Beth Howe, who was walking to work in Colchester when she scrambled up an embankment onto I-89 to help, and Sgt. Cory Lozier received a Lifesaving Award at the Vermont Department of Public Safety's annual awards and promotions ceremony.

"Your actions are a credit to you and are honorably recognized," Detective Sgt. Julie Scribner told Howe and Lozier during the ceremony, according to prepared remarks.

Howe and Lozier pulled Danielle Houle-Charbonneau, who was badly injured, from her car moments before it was engulfed in flames. Houle-Charbonneau, a 45-year-old Swanton resident whose car was hit from behind in a large pileup, has had several surgeries and is still recovering.

The Department of Public Safety also recognized civilians who rescued a woman from a burning home in Milton, pulled a driver out of a burning car in Springfield, and cared for a woman involved in a motorcycle collision in Bethel.

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Burlington Police Report Two Heroin Overdoses Hours Apart

Posted By on Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 12:57 PM

Bulk heroin known as "fingers" seized by Burlington police. - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Bulk heroin known as "fingers" seized by Burlington police.
One man is dead and a second survived after two more suspected heroin overdoses in Burlington on Thursday just hours apart, police said.

A 28-year-old man survived a suspected overdose after being found around 9:20 a.m. Thursday at a North Winooski Avenue home. He was taken to the University of Vermont Medical Center for evaluation, police said.

Around 2 p.m., a 27-year-old man died after an apparent overdose in an Archibald Street home, police said. Police said they used naloxone, an overdose-reversing drug now carried by Burlington cops, to try to revive the man. 

Detective Lt. Shawn Burke said the incidents do not appear to be related. 

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Electric Bike Rentals Roll Out on the Burlington Waterfront

Posted By on Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 10:00 AM

Rick Sharp on an electric bike. - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • Rick Sharp on an electric bike.
Electric bicycles are rolling out for rent this summer along the Burlington Bike Path, where riders must limit their speed to 12 miles per hour.

That’s the max allowed under an agreement between the Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront Commission and Burlington Segway Tours, the rental company offering the e-bikes. 

The commission voted to allow the rentals in April after several years of lobbying by Burlington Segway Tours co-owner Rick Sharp. 

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

In Non-Concession Speech, Sanders Vows to Keep Fighting

Posted By on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 at 11:56 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders addresses supporters Thursday night from Burlington. - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders addresses supporters Thursday night from Burlington.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) isn't ready to call it quits.

In an online address Thursday evening, the senator from Vermont pledged to continue fighting for a "political revolution" — through next month's Democratic National Convention and beyond. 

"This campaign has never been about any single candidate," he said. "It has always been about transforming America."

In a 23-minute speech, broadcast live from a television studio in Burlington's Old North End, Sanders did not say he would continue challenging former secretary of state Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. But neither did he say the words "concede," "suspend" or "endorse." Rather, he seemed to be holding out for specific concessions.

"It is no secret that Secretary Clinton and I have strong disagreements on some very, very important issues. It is also true that our views are quite close on others," he said. "I look forward, in the coming weeks, to continued discussions between the two campaigns to make certain that your voices are heard and that the Democratic Party passes the most progressive platform in its history — and that Democrats actually fight for that agenda."

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Senate Leaders Stand by Decision to Suspend McAllister

Posted By on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 at 8:35 PM

Sen. Norm McAllister, left, and attorney Brooks McArthur Thursday outside Franklin County Superior Court. - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Norm McAllister, left, and attorney Brooks McArthur Thursday outside Franklin County Superior Court.
After state prosecutors dismissed two sexual assault charges against Sen. Norm McAllister (R-Franklin) Thursday, leaders of the Vermont Senate said they stood by their January decision to suspend him from the body.

"In a word, yes, absolutely we did the right thing," said Sen. Phil Baruth (D-Chittenden), the Democratic majority leader.

"The approach the Senate took was not to prejudge McAllister in any way," he said. "It was to say: Without a look at the state's case, we can say that there are multiple serious sexual assault charges pending, and we don't believe he should be wielding powers as a senator while it's pending."

Sen. Joe Benning (R-Caledonia), the Republican minority leader, agreed. 

"Based on the information we had at the time, it was clear the Senate was going to be in a state of dysfunction," he said. "It was never about Norm McAllister's guilt or innocence. This was about the Senate's ability to function, and my opinion at the time was it would not."

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Memo Says Burlington High School Principal Mismanaged Funds

Posted By on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 at 6:01 PM

Amy Mellencamp, in green sweater, at a school board meeting this spring - MOLLY WALSH/SEVEN DAYS
  • Molly Walsh/Seven Days
  • Amy Mellencamp, in green sweater, at a school board meeting this spring
Updated June 17, 2016 at 4:20 p.m. with information about the June 23 Red Sox game.

The principal of Burlington High School authorized "thousands of dollars" in payments from student account funds without proper documentation, according to Burlington School District director of finance Nathan Lavery.

Revenue from student parking permits was improperly used to buy professional baseball tickets for employees, he wrote in a June 13 memo to the Burlington School Board. And other payments to high school staff appear to meet the definition of wages rather than reimbursements, and should have been made via payroll — not student activity accounts, Lavery wrote.

The memo never mentions longtime BHS principal Amy Mellencamp by name, but singles her out by title and says she failed to properly manage student account funds. Details on the dollar amounts are not specified. Seven Days has filed a public records request seeking the full report on student accounts.

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A Top Democrat Brings a Message of Party Unity to Vermont

Posted By on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 at 5:06 PM

R.T. Rybak - THOMAS STRAND STUDIOS
  • Thomas Strand Studios
  • R.T. Rybak
A year ago, Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz was the keynote speaker at the Vermont Democratic Party’s annual David W. Curtis Leadership Awards dinner. Her speech was a barely noticeable backdrop as Vermont Democrats buzzed about who among them would run for what state offices.

Much has changed in a year. As state Democrats prepare to gather again Friday night, Wasserman Schultz has fallen out of favor and won’t be back. She and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have spent months waging war over whether the Vermont senator’s presidential run has gotten a fair shake from the party. The disagreement has gotten so ugly that on Tuesday, Sanders said the Democrats need a new leader.

With that discord in mind, party officials invited a DNC vice chair, R.T. Rybak, a former Minneapolis mayor, to speak at this year’s dinner. Party officials hope Rybak can bring peace between factions of the party who back Sanders and those who support former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

“We’re looking for people who, after the dust settles, can unify the party,” said Conor Casey, executive director of the Vermont Democratic Party.

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