State fines mortgage company amid cleanup

WEST FAIRLEE—A blighted property near Lake Fairlee that prompted a heap of complaints to local officials in West Fairlee was recently cleared of its trash piles and debris, according to selectboard chair Delsie Hoyt.
Town officials and neighbors became frustrated about the lack of response to their multiple cleanup requests at the neglected property along Route 244. Last year, after many months of effort without result, the situation was “kicked upstairs” to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources for enforcement, Hoyt said.

State trooper denies domestic assault

CHELSEA—A suspended Vermont State Police detective from Bradford has pleaded not guilty in Orange County Superior Court in Chelsea to a charge of domestic abuse for attacking his fiancée over five months, according to court records.
Nicholas J. Cianci, 25, of Fairground Road denied the misdemeanor count last week that he recklessly caused bodily injury to the woman identified by Vermont State Police in court papers by her initials and that he was engaged to marry.

Final forum held on detention center

NEWBURY—Community members continue to resist the state’s plans to operate Vermont’s only juvenile detention facility in a repurposed former inn in rural Newbury.
Becket Family of Services, the private contractor chosen to run the facility, held their third forum to gather community input on March 18. Despite continued efforts to allay local concerns about safety and security, Becket and Vermont’s Department of Children and Families continue to face a backlash.
At the first community meeting to discuss the proposal on Feb. 11, DCF Commissioner Sean Brown said the state hoped to gain community support before proceeding with the project.

Precinct votes to join HFD

HAVERHIL CORNER—At their annual meeting held on March 17, Haverhill Corner Precinct voters decided to relinquish their fire department and join the Haverhill Fire Department.
The decision came one year after the precinct’s residents initially voted 45-6 against joining the new municipal department. At the time, according to meeting minutes, many residents said they were not opposed to a town department but that many questions remained unsettled.
In an interview, Haverhill Corner Fire Chief Richard Morris said precinct residents were concerned that they would lose their fire station and name. Now it looks like that will not be the case, although Morris said there are still a lot of details to nail down.

River keeps name, for now

WARREN—An attempt to informally rename the Baker River its original Abenaki name of Asquamchumauke was defeated after town meeting voters deadlocked on the proposal.
In an 18-18 vote on March 13, Warren residents could not approve the article on the town meeting warrant that would change the name of the river in Warren to Asquamchumaukee River.
The article’s protagonist said the name change would not prompt any need for money or new signage.
Selectman Charles Chandler said he proposed the article to make everyone aware of the heritage and that Abenaki lived on its shores for 11,000 years before European settlement.

Community engagement sought for new district

BRADFORD—As part of its ongoing effort to involve the community, the Oxbow Unified Union School District will form a committee or committees tasked with that purpose. The road there has had a few bumps.
OUUSD officially formed on July 1, 2019, merging three former districts with oversight of three distinct school campuses. But the merger under 46 was contested by some, who argued, among other things, that community involvement in the schools would diminish.
Over the months since, several community members have lobbied the board to form school-level committees.

O’Meara seeks release from probation

CHELSEA—There was a court hearing last week on a woman’s request to be discharged from probation after a 2007 fatal car crash on Route 5 in Newbury.
Former Wells River resident Kristy O’Meara was convicted of gross negligent operation with death resulting after the car she was driving collided with another car driven by Christina Vinnacombe Ellison, a 27-year-old North Haverhill mother of two.
Ellison, who was on her way to work as a waitress at P&H Truck Stop, was over eight months pregnant with her third child. The baby, named Taylor, was stillborn at the scene. Ellison died two weeks later.

Haverhill voters veto town meeting

NORTH HAVERHILL—After Haverhill residents rejected provisional election procedures on Saturday, town officials said they will not ask for a special meeting and instead rely on the 2020 operating budget for the remainder of the year.
Australian ballot voting took place on March 13 for the annual town meeting. And while municipal elections conducted under article 1 will be valid, article 2 was voted down 409-264. That article asked voters to approve the pandemic-inducted meeting procedures for 2021. As a result, all of the subsequent articles on the warrant were automatically defeated, according to town officials.

Oxbow sets budget vote

BRADFORD—A budget was approved on March 10 by members of the Oxbow Unified Union School District’s school board for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1.
The $17,171,968 budget and several other articles will be decided by Australian ballot by Bradford and Newbury voters on April 13. Polls will open in each of the towns at 10 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m.
The ballot vote on next year’s budget comes just three months to the day after voters approved the current year’s budget.

Piermont pans park, OKs road bond

PIERMONT—Voters passed a $464,000 road reconstruction bond, but nixed a proposed recreation park on Route 25C.
Approximately 37 people attended the March 13 in-person town meeting to decide the fate of 18 warrant articles.
Over an hour was spent in discussion of article 2 proposing a $464,000 reconstruction of Indian Pond, Lily Pond, and Bedford roads.
All of these roads are in dire need of attention, officials said.
Road commissioner Frank Rodimon spoke of the roads’ deterioration, noting Bedford Road had not been touched in over 30 years.