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Friday, April 28, 2017

FBI Continues to Investigate Jane Sanders’ Burlington College Land Deal

Posted By on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 4:19 PM

Jane O'Meara Sanders in Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign office - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Jane O'Meara Sanders in Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign office
Updated at 6:14 p.m.

A federal investigation into a Burlington College land deal orchestrated by Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders, appears to be ongoing, according to two former college officials.

Sara Adsit-McCuin, who served on the defunct college's board for roughly three years, said Friday that she was contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation "a couple of weeks ago." During an in-person interview, two FBI agents focused their questions on Burlington College's 2010 purchase of a 32-acre campus overlooking Lake Champlain. At the time of the deal, O'Meara Sanders was serving as the college's president.

"I didn't give them any information that they didn't already have," Adsit-McCuin told Seven Days.

Carol Moore, a former president of the college, told Seven Days that she, too, had been contacted “three or four weeks ago” by an FBI agent. He confirmed to her that “this is an ongoing investigation,” Moore said.

The existence of the investigation was first reported Thursday by VTDigger.org, citing email correspondence between the Vermont Agency of Education, Burlington College and federal officials. Those emails confirm that the investigation was active at least through February. The FBI's recent contact with Adsit-McCuin and Moore suggests that it continues.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Verexit? Secession Movement Gains Steam After Trump Election

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 3:47 PM

politics2-1.jpg
A new poll found that nearly 21 percent of Vermonters think the state should consider “peaceably leaving the United States and becoming an independent republic, as it was from 1777 to 1791.”

That’s a jump from 11.8 percent of respondents who agreed with a similar proposal in a 2007 poll.*

The increase in secessionist sentiment — measured in surveys conducted by the University of Vermont’s Center for Rural Studies — could reflect a Trump bump.

“Given the aggressive and destructive behavior of the United States of Empire this past decade, it is not surprising that more and more forward-thinking Vermonters support independence and a Second Vermont Republic,” Rob Williams, the leader of a Verexit campaign, said in a prepared statement.

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Digital Forensics Led to Charge Against South Burlington Student

Posted By on Sat, Apr 22, 2017 at 6:25 PM

The Rebels scoreboard at South Burlington High School - MOLLY WALSH/SEVEN DAYS
  • Molly Walsh/Seven Days
  • The Rebels scoreboard at South Burlington High School
The student accused of making death threats against South Burlington students and teachers posted news stories about the turmoil on his Facebook page as the drama was unfolding.

He also allegedly put his own name on the "murder list" that was issued with the threats via email and in a video.

Josiah Leach, 18, was arrested Friday night on a federal charge, ending a week of school lockdowns and a district-wide school closure Friday.

He was in jail awaiting arraignment Monday in federal court on a felony charge of knowingly transmitting a threat via interstate commerce. Leach is a senior at South Burlington High School.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

South Burlington Student Charged With Making Death Threats

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 7:16 PM

South Burlington Police Chief Trevor Whipple (left) and South Burlington Schools Superintendent David Young at Friday's press conference. - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • South Burlington Police Chief Trevor Whipple (left) and South Burlington Schools Superintendent David Young at Friday's press conference.
Updated at 9:23 p.m.

Police arrested 18-year-old Josiah Leach, a South Burlington High School student, on Friday in relation to death threats made against staff and other students in the district.

South Burlington Police Chief Trevor Whipple announced the arrest on federal charges at a press conference from the police department shortly after 9 p.m. Authorities had made the arrest just half an hour earlier, he said.

School had been canceled Friday after threats were sent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The school day ended in lockdowns on Wednesday and Thursday.

Leach, according to police, will be held in custody over the weekend until he's arraigned Monday in federal court.

Read the original story below:

Someone threatened South Burlington students and school district staff in a video Friday that included the same "murder list" which prompted a lockdown and school evacuation Thursday.

Superintendent of Schools David Young — along with South Burlington Police Chief Trevor Whipple — confirmed at a 3 p.m. news conference that officials are aware of the video, which had been circulating on social media.

The video threatens specific school staff and students as retribution for the school board's decision to drop the Rebels team nickname. The name change has riled up the community. Critics say the name is racist while its defenders consider it a harmless tradition.

Young explained that the latest threat came in around 4 a.m. Friday and "was a video and essentially repeated a lot of the same information that was shared within the text that was sent previously. The police are continuing very, very aggressive investigation at this time."

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

South Burlington Schools to Be Closed Friday After Repeated Threats

Posted By on Thu, Apr 20, 2017 at 8:21 PM

Rebel banners at South Burlington High School - OLIVER PARINI
  • Oliver Parini
  • Rebel banners at South Burlington High School
South Burlington schools will be closed Friday after someone threatened teachers and students alike in an email message sent Thursday.

The district announced the closure Thursday afternoon, hours after the school day ended in a lockdown — for the second day in a row. All students were sent home by bus, even those who normally walk or drive to school, after someone sent an email threatening to kill five teachers and 11 students, WCAX-TV reported.

The email allegedly made reference to the controversial decision to drop the high school's nickname, the Rebels, according to the Burlington Free Press.

"THIS COULD’VE BEEN PREVENTED FROM KEEPING THE REBEL NAME. NOW I’m gonna have to attack you all. I don’t care for my own life as long as you’re all dead!!!!!" the email reads, according to the Free Press.

The name change has stirred up community members. Critics say the Rebel name has racist overtones because it alludes to the Confederate South. Defenders believe the name is innocuous and want to keep it — even though the school board approved a change in February.

The school budget, which includes money to scrub the Rebel name from playing fields, banners and sports jerseys, has twice failed in a vote.

South Burlington schools also went into lockdown Wednesday after threats. Someone emailed threats to the high school and Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School on Tuesday, too, according to WCAX.

A community forum on heroin that was scheduled to be held at the South Burlington High School on Thursday evening was subsequently canceled, police said.

Schools in Essex were locked down and evacuated last week after a threat there. Police later said the incident appeared to be a case of "swatting" — a false report of a crime intended to trigger a massive police response.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Vermont Court Ruling Leaves 'Gaping Loophole' in Public Records Act

Posted By on Tue, Apr 18, 2017 at 5:44 PM

Former attorney general Bill Sorrell - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Former attorney general Bill Sorrell
A Vermont Superior Court judge has given state officials an easy way to circumvent the public records law. In response to a lawsuit, Judge Robert Mello ruled in February that government agencies don't have to search private email accounts or private cellphones when responding to public records requests.

The suit's plaintiff, Brady Toensing, appealed the decision Monday to the Vermont Supreme Court, arguing that the ruling creates a "gaping loophole" in the state's public records law.

It's the latest in a long-running battle that Toensing, a Charlotte attorney and the vice chair of the Vermont Republican Party, has waged against former Democratic attorney general Bill Sorrell. Toensing sued the Vermont Attorney General's Office last year after it rejected his request to search "nongovernmental" email accounts and text messages for records. He was looking for communications Sorrell may have had with lobbyists.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

The Man Who Built Bolton Valley Resort Buys It Back

Posted By on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 3:38 PM

Lindsay, Ralph and Evan DesLauriers - COURTESY BOLTON VALLEY RESORT
  • Courtesy Bolton Valley Resort
  • Lindsay, Ralph and Evan DesLauriers
Bolton Valley Resort has come full circle.

The DesLauriers family — including patriarch Ralph, who founded the ski area in 1966 — has bought back the resort.

The purchase ends 10 years of ownership under developers Doug Nedde and Larry Williams, who owns the commercial real estate company Redstone. Terms of the deal, announced Friday, were not disclosed.

“When I built Bolton Valley back in the ’60s, I made it my mission to give every Vermont child the opportunity to ski,” Ralph DesLauriers said in a news release. “We established after-school programs where kids could take the bus up after school and learn to ski — and tens of thousands of kids all over Chittenden and Washington counties have learned to love skiing at Bolton Valley. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of, and it’s that same family centered mission and love of Vermont that’s driving me and my kids back into this business.”

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

South Burlington Man Arraigned in Rebels Stalking Case

Posted By on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 3:18 PM

Attorney Bill Norful, left, and Dan Emmons at Vermont Superior Court in Burlington Thursday - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • Attorney Bill Norful, left, and Dan Emmons at Vermont Superior Court in Burlington Thursday
A defender of South Burlington High School's "Rebels" nickname pleaded not guilty Thursday to stalking a student who helped lead the push to drop the name.

Dan Emmons denied stalking Isaiah Hines, 18, who is a senior at the school. Hines was at the forefront of the effort to drop the name from sports uniforms and scoreboards on the grounds that it harkens back to the racist history of the Confederacy.

Hines is a student representative to the school board and leader of the Student Diversity Union. Emmons, 43, is a South Burlington parent who opposed the school board vote in February to drop the name. He supports a public vote on the question, which has roiled the community.

According to a three-page police affidavit presented in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington, Emmons confronted Hines at the Goodwill Store & Donation Center in South Burlington, put his hand on his shoulder and told him, "You need to be careful." He also said, "You guys have made a lot of people mad," and "You're shitting in the wrong yard," the affidavit states.

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

World Cup Ski Race Set to Return to Killington

Posted By on Tue, Apr 4, 2017 at 4:41 PM

Fans at the World Cup race at Killington in 2016 - COURTESY OF KILLINGTON RESORT
  • Courtesy of Killington Resort
  • Fans at the World Cup race at Killington in 2016
The World Cup ski race that drew record crowds to Killington Resort last year is booked for a return engagement this year and the next.

The resort announced Tuesday a two-year agreement with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) to host women’s slalom and giant slalom races over Thanksgiving weekend in 2017 and 2018.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) is expected to approve the two-year deal at a meeting in late May.

An estimated 30,000 people attended the FIS World Cup at Killington last November, the first time the international ski race series stopped in Vermont since 1978.

The icing on the cake for many spectators was seeing Burke Mountain Academy graduate Mikaela Shiffrin grab first place in the slalom.

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Monday, April 3, 2017

It's Tax Refund Scam Season, Warns Vermont AG Donovan

Posted By on Mon, Apr 3, 2017 at 4:25 PM

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan - FILE
  • File
  • Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan
With the tax filing deadline two weeks away, Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan and Vermont Tax Department Commissioner Kaj Samsom on Monday warned residents to be wary of  refund scams.

A typical scam, Donovan said, involves a phone call, purportedly from the Internal Revenue Service or other federal authorities, telling victims they owe back taxes or outstanding payments.

In the event that back taxes are due, the IRS sends letters via the U.S. Postal Service and asks taxpayers to respond, according to Samsom. The IRS will not call or email a taxpayer without prior written communication, officials said.

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