Down on the farm
My uncle is retired and lives on an expansive piece of land in southern Vermont. He likes to putter around on his property with his Ford tractor, moving stumps and building stone walls.
“Mark,” he often says to me. “Give every man a tractor and a piece of land, and there would be no wars in the world.”
For a long time I saw no flaw in this theory. Then I read about Roger Pion. If every man had a tractor we might indeed have world peace. We might also have a lot of flattened police cars.
Earlier this summer, Pion, a Newport, Vermont farmer was allegedly found to be in possession of a small amount of a crop not usually found for sale at the local farm stand. When officers were in the process of arresting Roger, the man — again allegedly — resisted arrest.
Roger was released, and he returned home quite upset. Roger may have been a Pion, but he was no peon. One can only imagine his feelings of powerlessness against the long arm of the law in the form of the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department. So Roger did what any red-blooded American would do. He went to the kitchen to brew a pot of tea and draft a scathing letter to the editor of the local paper.
Actually, that is not at all what Roger did. Maybe he was out of Earl Grey, or perhaps he couldn’t find appropriate stationery for such a missive. For whatever reason, instead of using the written word to express his displeasure, Roger decided to review his other options.
Mr. Pion had several items available on the farm that could help him exact his revenge against the local constabulary. He could roll a couple of bales of hay into the Sheriff Department’s parking lot and block the entrance. Too sophomoric. He could bring a Holstein to the sheriff’s department and squirt some raw milk on the station steps. Too weird. He could get on his red Case MX255, full-sized, 255-horsepower tractor and drive over any and all law enforcement vehicles at the station. Perfect.
And that’s exactly what he did. Roger drove down to the station and literally gave the entire sheriff’s fleet of vehicles a lower profile.
Apparently, the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department building has no windows and the air conditioning was cranked, so they had no idea what was transpiring a short distance away. And then they received a 911 call that probably went something like this:
911 caller: I’d like to report that someone is vandalizing police cars in a parking lot.
Dispatcher: Vandalizing them?
911 caller: Well, sort of; he’s crushing them like they were grapes with a monster tractor.
Dispatcher: What is the address of the parking lot?
911 caller: It’s in downtown Newport. 255 Main Street.
Dispatcher: That address sure sounds familiar. Wait a minute … Hey boys! Get outside fast! Someone’s turning your cars into street signs!
When the officers ran outside, they saw the result of some serious vehicular mayhem and Roger driving away on his tractor. Unfortunately, none of the responding officers were the size and shape of a credit card, so getting into any of their newly remodeled vehicles was out of the question.
Thinking quickly, several officers commandeered a resident’s car to pursue Roger and he was apprehended a short time later.
This story isn’t all bad. Despite an estimated $300,000 in damage to the cruisers, there were amazing tales of property in certain cars left intact. Chief Deputy Philip Brooks said that some of the items stored in the trunk of his particular cruiser, which included a rifle and shotgun, were unharmed. “Even my hat held its shape,” he said.
Roger was in a heap of trouble. He was subsequently charged with 11 counts, including unlawful mischief and aggravated assault. Fortunately for the farmer, he was not charged with the most serious crime of crushing a county sheriff’s campaign hat.
But the tale doesn’t end here. Roger has become an Internet sensation. A group of supporters started a Facebook page in his name and as a result, thousands of dollars have poured in for his defense fund.
On the side of law and order, the Orleans County Sheriff’s Department supporters organized a car wash to benefit the department. Exact dollar figures have not been made available, but it is a good guess that they raised at least $50.
I think my uncle envisions a tractor-filled world where busy citizens are leveling their fields, building stone walls and digging swimming ponds. The fact is, if you have a tractor on your property you are a whirlwind of law breaking destruction waiting to happen.
Oh, I can hear the National Tractors Association now. “Mark, tractors don’t flatten police cruisers. People flatten police cruisers.”
Mark S. Albury lives in Northfield Falls.