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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Performers in Drag Shine at Burlington High School Halftime Ball

Posted By on Sat, Oct 16, 2021 at 9:15 AM

A drag performer - CAT CUTILLO
  • Cat Cutillo
  • A drag performer
Hundreds of shiny, happy people packed the bleachers at Burlington High School's Buck Hard stadium on Friday night to watch a football game and a drag show.

The Seawolves — a football team made up of Burlington, South Burlington and Winooski players — bested the St. Johnsbury Hilltoppers 35-14. But the loudest cheers from the color-filled stands came during a halftime performance that featured around two dozen costumed students and teachers strutting their stuff in a runway-style drag ball.

Burlington High School's Gender-Sexuality Alliance club planned the event — a striking juxtaposition to the robust masculinity typically on display during football games — as a creative way to show support for the LGBTQ community.

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Friday, October 15, 2021

Progressives Decry Decision to Clear Out Burlington Homeless Encampment

Posted By on Fri, Oct 15, 2021 at 6:42 PM

The Sears Lane encampment - SASHA GOLDSTEIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sasha Goldstein ©️ Seven Days
  • The Sears Lane encampment
Updated on October 16, 2021.

Progressives on the Burlington City Council are calling on Mayor Miro Weinberger to stop the eviction of two dozen houseless people from the Sears Lane encampment.

Weinberger, a Democrat, ordered police on Thursday to start the process of breaking up the South End site after two arrests there on Wednesday: one man was cited for drug trafficking and another for threatening firefighters with a weapon. The residents have until Tuesday, October 19, at 5 p.m. to vacate, or they may face legal action, according to the eviction notice posted around the site.

In an emailed statement Friday, council Progs acknowledged the public safety concerns but argued that disbanding the camp — without providing other housing options — won't make the city safer.

"In all likelihood, this action will shift these issues to another part of the city, without addressing the underlying conditions that got us here in the first place," the statement reads.

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Media Note: The Burlington Free Press Moves to Williston

Posted By on Fri, Oct 15, 2021 at 6:18 PM

The new office in Williston - COURTNEY LAMDIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • The new office in Williston
The Burlington Free Press is no longer based in Burlington.

After nearly 200 years in the Queen City, the local daily has given up downtown digs for an office park in suburban Williston.

While staffers have been working remotely since the pandemic began in March 2020, executive editor Emilie Stigliani said several members of the 12-person newsroom gathered on Thursday for the first time at the new location. The circulation department also works out of the space.

She noted that most of the newsroom will continue to work remotely, though staffers can go to the office.

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Scott Appoints New Fish & Wildlife Commissioner

Posted By on Fri, Oct 15, 2021 at 5:07 PM

Chris Herrick - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Chris Herrick
Gov. Phil Scott has appointed a longtime firefighter who is the deputy public safety commissioner to head up the state's Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Commissioner Chris Herrick, who lives in South Hero, will head a department responsible for the management and conservation of wildlife and their habitats, including protection of endangered species and enforcement of hunting, fishing and trapping laws.

Herrick replaces Louis Porter, who is leaving after seven years to be general manager of Washington Electric Cooperative.

It’s the second time in a week that Scott has appointed a new commissioner with experience in fields outside the departments that they will lead.

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Thursday, October 14, 2021

Bristol Elementary Teachers Ask for Help After Violent, Destructive Student Behavior

Posted By on Thu, Oct 14, 2021 at 9:01 PM

Teacher Victoria Thompson reading her statement to the school board - SCREENSHOT/NORTHEAST ADDISON TELEVISION
  • Screenshot/Northeast Addison Television
  • Teacher Victoria Thompson reading her statement to the school board
Teachers at Bristol Elementary this week shared vivid details of a school environment that they say has become unsafe due to student behavioral problems. At a tense Mount Abraham Unified School District meeting on Tuesday, the educators asked administrators and school board members to take action to address the issues.

Speaking to the board during the public comment portion of the meeting, second grade teacher Andrea Murnane said that “prior, repeated efforts” to address the safety concerns have been unsuccessful. The problem has been ongoing for at least a year, teachers said, but it came to a head last Thursday, October 7.

Second grade teacher Victoria Thompson — fighting back tears and surrounded by other teachers for support — described the events of that day. At 2 p.m., her class was required to evacuate their room when a student aggressively entered and began throwing things at adults and around the room.

“Outside, students expressed fears about their safety, their things and their hard work in our classroom being destroyed,” Thompson recounted.

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Residents Evicted From Burlington Homeless Encampment Following Arrests

Posted By on Thu, Oct 14, 2021 at 7:20 PM

A notice to vacate Sears Lane - SASHA GOLDSTEIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sasha Goldstein ©️ Seven Days
  • A notice to vacate Sears Lane
Updated at 9:53 p.m.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger directed city police on Thursday to clear out a long-established homeless encampment in the South End following arrests there this week.

Residents have until 5 p.m. on October 19 to vacate the Sears Lane site, which has been on city land for years. Eviction notices scattered around the lot warn of legal action if people remain or return after it's cleaned up.

Police made two arrests at the camp on Wednesday. One person was cited for drug trafficking, and another for threatening firefighters with a weapon. The "serious criminal activity" and "hostile threat" required immediate action, Weinberger said, noting that prior to Wednesday, the city had been working to establish housing options for its residents.

"In attempting to generate new, needed housing the City’s intent was never to protect criminal activity," the mayor said. "It is clear that the encampment at Sears Lane has become untenable and unacceptable.”

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Burlington Man Admits to Overseas Murder-for-Hire Plot

Posted By on Thu, Oct 14, 2021 at 5:01 PM

  • Khwaneigq | Dreamstime
In a twisted international plot, a Burlington man has admitted that he paid a Venezuelan woman to kidnap two people abroad, torture them and film it — all for his viewing pleasure.

Sean Fiore, 37, pleaded guilty on Thursday to four federal counts that include murder for hire, conspiracy to kidnap and murder a person overseas, as well as producing and possessing child pornography. He will be sentenced in March and faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

The woman who allegedly carried out Fiore's requests — Moraima Escarlet Vasquez Flores, of Venezuela — faces similar charges. She was arrested in Colombia last fall, and U.S. authorities are now seeking her extradition.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Canadian Visitors Will Be Admitted to the U.S. Starting in November

Posted By on Wed, Oct 13, 2021 at 3:56 PM

Canada border crossing in Norton - ANNE WALLACE ALLEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Anne Wallace Allen ©️ Seven Days
  • Canada border crossing in Norton
Canadian tourists and shoppers will be able to cross the land border into Vermont in November after a closure of roughly 20 months.

The White House late Tuesday announced that it would ease restrictions on nonessential border crossings from Canada and Mexico. Family visits and tourism ground to a halt after the border closed on March 21, 2020, though people have been able to cross for business purposes. No exact date for the reopening was announced.

The U.S. will require all incoming nonessential travelers to show proof they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Travelers on essential business, such as health care workers, students and truckers, have until January to get vaccinated, according to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and other northern state governors have been pushing the White House to reopen the border to travelers from Canada, which started admitting U.S. travelers on August 9 — with strict vaccination and testing requirements.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Consultant Finds Problems With Downtown Site for New Burlington High School

Posted By on Tue, Oct 12, 2021 at 8:56 PM

Burlington High School's Institute Road campus - FILE: COURTNEY LAMDIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Courtney Lamdin ©️ Seven Days
  • Burlington High School's Institute Road campus

A preliminary assessment of potential sites for a new Burlington High School found significant problems with the downtown option, which would likely be a more costly and drawn-out undertaking than building on the existing Institute Road campus.

With the help of architectural, engineering and environmental experts, real estate advisers White + Burke analyzed three potential locations: two sites on the Institute Road campus in the New North End; and the Gateway Block, located on Main Street between South Union and South Winooski streets.

Mayor Miro Weinberger has publicly supported the downtown option, which includes the dilapidated Memorial Auditorium, a city-owned parking lot, a fire station and several privately owned parcels. But that site poses myriad challenges, the consultants explained Tuesday during a meeting of the Burlington School District's finance and facilities committee.

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UVM Health Network Releases Strategic Plan to Reduce Wait Times

Posted By on Tue, Oct 12, 2021 at 5:39 PM

  • Courtesy of University of Vermont Medical Center
This story will be updated.

The University of Vermont Health Network has released a plan to confront the years-old problem of long waits for medical appointments, offering a mix of new and old initiatives.

Seven Days detailed the problem in a cover story last month, recounting how patients are waiting months, and in some cases more than a year, for certain specialty care at the state's largest hospital, the University of Vermont Medical Center. The state is now investigating the issue and says it hopes to publish a report by year's end.

The health network's plan says it will reduce these backlogs by addressing staffing shortages, increasing patient capacity and using technology to create a more efficient system.

A number of the items on the plan have been in the works for years. Many call on the health network to spend more money. And, according to health network CEO and president John Brumsted, none represents a “silver bullet.”

“There's not a time where we're going to flip the switch and access is going to be totally fixed," Brumsted said at a press conference on Tuesday. "All of these things will incrementally improve access to care, over the coming days, months in the next couple of years.”

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