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Local
Vermont Drug Task Force arrests 59

The Vermont Drug Task Force says it has arrested 59 people in a weeks-long drug sweep, three of them are from central Vermont. Seventeen of them were in Rutland County.

According to a news release, those arrested were charged with selling and distributing heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and crack cocaine as well as other crimes.

“The Drug Task Force conducts hundreds of investigations annually into various levels of illegal drug activity and is committed to aggressively pursuing those people who sell or distribute these poisonous drugs, or who aid individuals who are selling them,” the release stated. “These drugs are dangerous to the person taking them and invite violence into our communities.

“At the same time, the Vermont State Police is equally committed to helping individuals find treatment for their addiction, and to assisting them on their path to recovery. During this operation, the task force partnered with the Vermont Department of Health to provide information on treatment and recovery services to those who have a drug dependency.”

The vast majority of those arrested were from the southern or northern part of the state.

Seventeen of the arrests were in Rutland County, most in the city.

Zachary Lapoint, 29, and Theodore Thompson, 44, both of Rutland, along with 45-year-old Todd Dayton of Granville, New York, were charged with one count each of sale of crack cocaine.

Lucas Gagnon, 35, and David Stearns, 27, of Rutland; Whitney Carmen, 28 and Joshua Cave, 42, of Tinmouth, and Camilo Matus, 36, and Felix Colon, 21, of Waterbury, Connecticut, each face one charge of sale of heroin.

Other defendants from the city of Rutland include 33-year-old Sara Muzzy (two charges of selling heroin), 36-year-old Jennifer Loso (three charges of selling heroin), 38-year-old Joshua Reed (four charges of selling heroin, one of possessing crack), 31-year-old Michael Shively (one charge each of selling heroin, selling crack and possessing heroin), 31-year-old Cassandra Johnson (one charge each of selling heroin, possessing crack and possessing fentanyl), 48-year-old Steven Stone (four charges of selling crack)

Brittany Fields, 27, of Rutland, had the most diverse collection of charges, with one each for selling heroin, selling crack and possessing crack along with two for violating her conditions of release.

Outside the city, Brian Bruso, 60, of Fair Haven, is facing two charges of selling heroin.

Three of the arrests were from central Vermont.

Earlier this month Eldin Kamberovic, 30, of Montpelier, pleaded not guilty in Washington County criminal court in Barre to felony counts of trafficking and selling fentanyl, and a misdemeanor count of violating conditions of release. If convicted, Kamberovic faces a maximum sentence of 50½ years in prison. He was ordered held at Northeast Correctional Complex in St. Johnsbury on 10,000 bail.

According to its affidavit, the task force started an investigation in April into the distribution of fentanyl in Washington County. The task force said the target of the investigation was Kamberovic.

The task force said it set up a controlled buy using a cooperating individual. The individual was given money by the task force and bought 236.7 milligrams of a substance that field tested positive for fentanyl, according to court records.

Jayvian W. Poitras, 19, of East Barre, pleaded not guilty Thursday to a felony count of narcotic possession and a misdemeanor count of possession of stolen property. If convicted, Poitras faces a maximum sentence of six years in prison. He was released on conditions.

The task force said in its affidavit for that case prescription medication was reported stolen from the UPS facility in Berlin. It said UPS reported multiple packages had been stolen from the facility.

The task force said it spoke to an employee at UPS who reported she had interviewed Poitras and he had admitted to stealing the packages.

Poitras agreed to let the task force search his car and his bedroom where it found multiple prescription medications valuing about $200, according to court records.

Santos DeJesus, 28, of Barre, pleaded not guilty last month to a felony count of selling cocaine. If convicted, DeJesus faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison. He was released on conditions.

In the affidavit for that case, the task force said it started an investigation in January into cocaine distribution in Washington County with the focus being DeJesus. The task force said it used a cooperating individual for a controlled buy from DeJesus. The individual was given money, met with DeJesus and returned with a substance that weighed nearly a gram and field tested positive for cocaine.

The additional arrests included: Alexya Garcia, 27, of Bennington, on a charge of selling heroin; Abbie Harrington, 23, of Bennington, on a charge of selling heroin; Michael Allard, 33, of Bennington, on a charge of selling heroin; John Chapman, 27, of Bennington, on two counts of selling heroin; Bradley Haynes, 29, of Bennington, on two counts of selling heroin; Daniel Silverman, 48, of Brattleboro, on a charge of selling heroin; Nathan Hazlett, 46, of Brattleboro, on two counts of selling heroin and one count of selling crack cocaine; Sylvester Little, 45, of Brattleboro, on a count of selling crack cocaine; Billy Jo Wilder, 43, of Putney, on a count of selling heroin; Dean Gero, 52, of Brattleboro, on a count of selling heroin; Trent Johnson, of Brattleboro, on a count of selling crack cocaine; Kimberley Morgan, 31, of Brattleboro, on a count of selling crack cocaine; Marshall Dean, 58, of Brattleboro, on a count of selling heroin; Holly Magnuson, 26, on two counts of selling crack cocaine; Scott Haselton, 52, of Brattleboro, on a count of selling crack cocaine.

In addition, Eric Fortune, 34, of Bellows Falls, was charged with selling heroin; Kari Reilly, 37, of Guilford, was charged with three counts of selling heroin and one count of selling crack cocaine; Kyle Arie, 34, of Springfield, faces a count of selling heroin; Peter Garrett, 32, of Brattleboro, for the sale of crack cocaine; Bobby Bethune, 19, of Brattleboro, faces two counts of selling crack cocaine; Jorge Delaoz, 50, of Brattleboro, faces two counts of selling heroin; Corey Archer, 39, of Newfane, faces a count of selling crack cocaine; Reginald French, 53, of Winchester, faces three counts of selling heroin; Aaron Camp, 30, of Newport, faces one count of selling heroin and two counts of selling crack cocaine; Monica Capron, 40, of Newport, faces two counts of selling fentanyl; Meagan Blake, 31, of Coventry, faces five counts of selling crack cocaine and one count of selling heroin; Kayla Wright, 25, of Newport, faces one count each of selling heroin and crack cocaine; Kassandra Medellin-Oliver, 32, of Newport, faces three counts of selling heroin; Justin Morgan, 27, of Newport, faces two counts of selling crack cocaine; Erik Polite, 39, of Newport, faces a count of selling crack cocaine; Edwin R. Mejia, 40, of New Britain, Connecticut, faces three counts of selling crack cocaine; Corey Green, 45, of Orleans, faces two counts of selling crack cocaine and one count of selling heroin; Brooke Rowell, 36, of Burlington, faces four counts of violation of conditions of release, a count of sale of a non-controlled substance as controlled, and three counts of selling crack cocaine; Justin Barlow, 27, of Springfield, faces four counts of selling crack cocaine.

In addition, Ashley Penniman, 35, of Newport, faces a charge of selling crack cocaine; Allen Marsh, 50, of Newport, faces four counts of selling crack cocaine; Charles Lambert, 41, no address given, was charged with three counts of selling crack cocaine; David Godin, 39, of Burlington, faces one count of selling crack cocaine; and Franklin Estevez, 27, no address given, faces two counts of selling crack cocaine and two counts of selling heroin.


News
West Rutland home catches fire, family displaced

WEST RUTLAND — The former home of Rosmus Bakery on Clarendon Avenue caught fire early Thursday afternoon, resulting in an almost five-hour battle, according to fire officials.

Fortunately, Deputy Nathan Webster and Lt. James Bennick, of the Rutland County Sheriff’s Department, were right next door on a call when neighbor Mike Chaloux and his brother-in-law Tim Murray smelled smoke as they unloaded a U-Haul in their adjacent driveway.

Chaloux said homeowner Greg Felion was in the shower, and his children had already walked over to Chaloux’s house when neighbors noticed the fire at 254 Clarendon Ave.

“We looked around, and saw on the very corner over there, there was smoke,” Chaloux said. “I ran in there shouting ‘Greg! You got to get out! Your house is on fire!’”

“We turned around and the house was on fire,” said Bennick, who stayed to direct traffic while firefighters battled the blaze. “Smoke was rolling down the side of the house, and Deputy Webster ran in to make sure no one was inside.”

Chaloux said Felion ran back inside the house to rescue his dogs before taking shelter on Chaloux’s porch.

West Rutland Volunteer Fire Department Second Assistant Chief Tom Lacz said firefighters got the call at 2:25 p.m. As soon as the sheriff’s department confirmed there were flames coming out of the second-story window, he called the Rutland City Fire Department, which was on scene in minutes.

Lacz also called fire departments from Rutland Town, Clarendon and Castleton, while Proctor’s department stood in for Center and West Rutland’s departments, and Pittsford’s department stood by the McKinley station for Rutland Town.

“It was three hours before we felt we had it under control,” said Lacz. “We attempted to make an interior attack, but the temperature upstairs was 900 degrees when city arrived. ... The roof started to collapse 20 minutes after they got there.”

When firefighters realized the roof was collapsing, Lacz said they attacked with two blitz attack hose lines mounted from the ground and a ladder truck from the exterior for a half-hour before they sent interior crews back in.

“The boys made very good headway at that point,” Lacz said. “The stubborn part was the back section of the house where the roof collapsed.”

Firefighters brought trucks to both sides of the building and combined water efforts from hoses on the ground, off the ladder trucks and into the second-story windows.

Lacz said an excavator was called in from Fabian Earth Moving to peel the roof off, but there was fire in the walls and the attic growing from the original fire in the rear corner of the second floor.

“We still don’t know what the cause was,” Lacz said later Thursday evening. “It’s an old structure. If someone sets fire upstairs, it’s going to travel quick.”

“I’m 92, and it was here when I was a kid,” said Felicia Burns, who was among the local residents who flocked to the property.

Lacz said there was extensive damage to the house and couldn’t comment on whether it could be saved.

Regional Ambulance treated two West Rutland firefighters for heat-related injuries, and the West Rutland water and sewer and sheriff’s departments directed traffic while the Red Cross arrived to take care of the family, Lacz said.

West Rutland’s department finally arrived back at the station just after 7 p.m., and everyone emerged safely.

Lacz confirmed the family had home insurance secured.

katelyn.barcellos

@rutlandherald.com


Photo by Jon Olender  

Pie-faced at Branbury

Julie Butler, center, in orange, wins the pie-eating contest as Katie Kain cheers her on (hands in the air) during a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service retreat Thursday at Branbury State Park on Lake Dunmore in Goshen.


News
‘River Corridors’
Letter stirs confusion around river corridors

CLARENDON — The Planning Commission has warned a number of property owners that they reside in what the state had deemed a “river corridor,” though commissioners aren’t sure what that means. The state, likewise, isn’t sure what document the commission is referencing.

“This came up because I’ve gotten a number of calls from people concerned about the letter that was sent by the Planning Commission,” Administrative Assistant to the Select Board, Janet Arnold, said at a board meeting on Monday. “Basically, the Planning Commission sent a letter that does actually muddy the waters a bit.”

A copy of the letter provided to the Herald by the Select Board reads in part, “Recently, the enclosed list of Clarendon properties, which was prepared by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), was sent to the Clarendon Planning Commission. The Agency has determined that at least a portion, if not all, of the properties on this list are within something called a ‘River Corridor.’ We Commission members don’t know the significance of having your property included in this list and don’t really understand what a River Corridor is, or why it may be important. However, it seems to us that being on the list will somehow restrict how you are allowed to utilize your land.”

Arnold said she’s had several calls from people who received the letter worried their property will be taken, or development on it restricted.

“ANR has said no, that is absolutely not the case, but I wanted to bring it to your attention, because I’ve received phone calls on it,” Arnold told the board.

The Planning Commission letter instructs people to contact John Broker-Campbell, regional floodplain manager for the Department of Environmental Conservation, part of the ANR.

Broker-Campbell said in an interview Wednesday he’d received several calls from Clarendon residents, though he doesn’t know what document the Planning Commission is referring to.

Shannon Pytlik, river scientist for the DEC’s River Program, said Wednesday a river corridor is the area in which a river moves over time.

“People think of rivers as static,” she said. “They’re not, they move.”

She said this became apparent to anyone who witnessed the damage from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, when the channel of several rivers and streams moved, sometimes taking out homes and other properties. A river corridor is not the same thing as a floodplain, she said.

Pytlik said towns can adopt regulations for their river corridors. This has been suggested to the town of Clarendon, and over the past few years there have been meetings with the Select Board and Planning Commission about doing so, but the town doesn’t appear interested.

Pytlik said towns that adopt river corridor regulations can get greater levels of reimbursement from the state after a federal disaster declaration. They also get priority when applying to certain grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Rob Evans, river corridor and floodplain manager, said Thursday he doesn’t know what the Planning Commission is referencing, but has been trying to find out. He doesn’t believe anyone under his jurisdiction sent such a document, and it would be highly unusual for it to do so.

Evans said the state can identify river corridor areas, but it doesn’t list properties within them. If a town hasn’t adopted river corridor regulations, the only extra laws that would apply to them would be state regulations around berms, Act 250 permits and power production facilities under Section 248.

The state maintains a website with information about river management. A list of frequently asked questions about it can be found at: https://bit.ly/2HmEEtp

In May, a letter was sent from Evans’ agency to towns with river corridor regulations. The letter contained updated maps of said corridors that were open to public comment. Clarendon wouldn’t have received this, he said, as it has no town-level river corridor laws.

Planning Commission Chairman Brownson Spencer said in a phone interview Wednesday he wasn’t sure when the commission received its letter from ANR, nor was he entirely certain how many people the Planning Commission sent its own letter to. He said the commission felt it best to let the state explain the river corridors to people who wished to know more.

There was speculation at the Select Board meeting that what the Planning Commission saw had something to do with efforts to reclassify 15,000 acres of Class II wetlands to Class I up in the Cornwall area.

Zapata Courage, district wetland ecologist with the DEC, said Thursday that effort doesn’t extend to Clarendon.

“The Otter Creek Wetland Complex doesn’t extend down to Clarendon,” she said. “And as far as I know, I am not aware of any wetland within Clarendon that would meet Class I criteria, and there certainly is no petition for one within the town.”

The Otter Creek Wetland Complex reclassification effort was started by town environmental commissions in Cornwall and Salisbury.

Others at the Clarendon meeting on Monday thought the Rutland County Regional Planning Commission might be involved with river corridors. Ed Bove, executive director of the regional commission, said Thursday his agency has sent Clarendon no letters regarding river corridors and isn’t involved in them. He, too, had heard about the letter and wasn’t aware what it’s referencing.

keith.whitcomb

@rutlandherald.com


Local
City eyes firetruck swap

Chief James Larsen wants to trade in a firetruck.

The chief told the Public Safety Committee on Thursday that Engine 2, a 2014 Pierce Velocity pumper, was larger than the department wanted or needed, but the city might be able to trade it for a truck better-suited to Rutland at no cost. The committee voted unanimously to recommend that the full Board of Aldermen authorize the chief to begin the process with Adirondack EVG and Ferrara Fire Apparatus, with a requirement that he come back to the board for final approval of any deal.

Larsen and several other firefighters came to the meeting after responding to a fire in West Rutland, and displayed Engine 2 alongside the smaller, newer Engine 4 in the parking lot behind City Hall.

“If you look at the right rear tires, you’re going to see all sorts of scuff marks because it’s impossible not to hit curbs with this thing,” he said.

Larsen said the truck could not make it down Killington Avenue alongside oncoming traffic. Firefighter Mike Roy said the truck was impractical during the Baxter Street fire — its configuration required firefighters to hop up and down on the vehicle repeatedly.

“It’s a worker’s comp claim waiting to happen,” Board President Sharon Davis said.

Larsen also noted that the firefighter’s union objected to the size and configuration of the truck before it was purchased.

In the course of designing the city’s new ladder truck, Larsen said representatives of Adirondack, the broker, said they could probably sell Engine 2 for enough money that purchase of a smaller truck would be a “net-zero” deal. This claim drew skepticism from some of the board members. Alderwoman Melinda Humphrey noted that the city had seen a run of bad luck with bids coming in higher than expected. Larsen said the city would not sign anything unless Adirondack got a sale price that covered the new truck and that the city did not intend to spend “one dollar” on the deal.

The chief also noted that if the deal works out, it would benefit the equipment replacement fund by putting off the purchase of a replacement truck by six years.

“What else do we have that’s too fancy that we can trade in,” Humphrey wondered after the vote.

“That’s a conversation for another meeting,” Mayor David Allaire replied.

gordon.dritschilo

@rutlandherald.com


Spotlight

“There’s no reason to prevent members of Congress, including critical ones, from coming, seeing and learning, offering them every possible briefing.”

Dan Shapiro, U.S. ambassador to Israel under President Barack Obama, commenting on the decision by Israel, encouraged by the Trump administration, not to allow U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mi., to travel to Israel. — A10

New season

Rutland’s Paramount Theatre announces its lineup of headliners through May 2020. A3

Dem dropout

Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper ended his long-shot bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, saying he will return to his home state and might challenge Republican Cory Gardner for his U.S. Senate seat. A6


RHD Hotspot

Tonight

Whisper

Classic rock and country cover band. 9 p.m. to midnight. Holiday Inn, 476 Holiday Drive, Rutland, sethlafountain87@gmail.com.