Upper Valley Contingent Travels to D.C. March to Make Their Voices Heard

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

Washington, D.C. — After Ruth Heindel and Carissa Aoki had listened to speakers at the Women’s March on Washington for four hours outside the Air and Space Museum on Saturday, the Dartmouth College graduate and post-doctoral ecology students became ecstatic when they learned that organizers were changing the route.

It wasn’t the last-minute change they celebrated, but the reason: The event had drawn so many marchers that they were already filling up the route. They would have to add some new twists and turns to give marchers room to walk.

“This felt like a really big deal,” Heindel, 28, said at the march’s conclusion. “To feel like I was one of the people in one of those enormous historical photos … and that it was made up of all these individuals.”  Continue reading “Upper Valley Contingent Travels to D.C. March to Make Their Voices Heard”

Grape Catch Is Feat for the Ages

Story by Maggie Cassidy. Video shot and edited by Maggie Cassidy.

Post Mills — Setting the world record for using your mouth to catch a grape dropped from the greatest height: It was a dream years in the making, and all it took was a hot air balloon, walnut-sized fruits shipped specially from Georgia and a crew of Ph.D.-level engineers who gathered at a tiny Vermont airport before the sun rose on Monday morning.

The man with the plan was Brent Fraser, 35, who said he “just had a natural knack” for catching things in his mouth ever since his high school days in Barre, Vt., where buddies would chuck food toward him in the school parking lot. Continue reading “Grape Catch Is Feat for the Ages”

Victim Speaks Out Against Attacker at Sentencing

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

White River Junction — In a powerful victim’s impact statement read while his family wept and consoled each other in the courtroom, a 27-year-old Vermont man told his abuser that the man had “murdered (his) soul,” but that he would persevere through the alleged yearslong sexual trauma that he said started at age 12.

“As difficult as life is for me from day to day, I will not give you the satisfaction of dying,” the victim, Jeff Wyman, said at Thursday’s sentencing hearing for 45-year-old Brett Bartolotta. “I have good qualities, and I will continue to find and nurture those qualities.”

In 2013, Bartolotta, who was living in Cavendish, Vt., was one of two men charged with aggravated sexual assault and slave trafficking, felonies punishable by up to life in prison, in relation to the alleged abuse. The other man, Frank Meyer, of Connecticut, died by suicide days after the charges were filed.

Minutes after Wyman finished his statement in Windsor Superior Court, though — and after Bartolotta offered an apology that the judge deemed “not satisfactory” — Bartolotta walked out of the courtroom and left the courthouse through a side door, while Wyman’s brothers, overcome by emotion, shouted in the streets.  Continue reading “Victim Speaks Out Against Attacker at Sentencing”

Contentious in Cornish: Outraged Residents Bombard School Board

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

Cornish — Pandemonium erupted when the School Board chairman announced that he would not allow public comment at the board’s meeting Tuesday night, even as the audience of nearly 100 demanded the chance to speak on the controversy surrounding a board member’s social media post. Continue reading “Contentious in Cornish: Outraged Residents Bombard School Board”

Vermont Amber Alert Ends With Mother’s Arrest in Lyme

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

Lyme — A 49-year-old mother is awaiting extradition to face felony charges in Vermont, where authorities allege she abducted her biological son from his foster family near Bennington before transporting him to the Upper Valley, where she was apprehended Monday night.

An Amber Alert was issued around 8:30 p.m. for 12-year-old Zachary Lee after his foster family reported he had not arrived home from his school bus drop-off on Monday in Sunderland, Vt.

Hanover Police arrested the boy’s mother, Patricia Kane, at the Lyme Inn around 11:30 p.m. on Monday after following up on a tip from someone who reported seeing Kane, her teenage daughter and Zachary dining together at the Canoe Club in downtown Hanover earlier that evening. Continue reading “Vermont Amber Alert Ends With Mother’s Arrest in Lyme”

Perriello Gets 35 Years to Life; Sentence Is Harshest Possible For Man Who Killed Wife

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

Newport — James W. Perriello received the maximum sentence for the shooting death of his wife, teacher Natalie Perriello, following a heart-wrenching hearing on Wednesday where the oldest of the couple’s four children confronted her father for the first time since the murder, and Perriello apologized for what he had done.

More than 40 people crowded into Sullivan Superior Court where Natalie Perriello’s friends and family took turns giving statements about the impact her death has had on their lives, and none was more powerful than the one delivered by 14-year-old Jillian Perriello, who read an open letter to her father as he sat with his head hung low at the nearby defense table.

“Dear Dad, I still hear them, the bangs, the booms, the crashes, the shots,” Jillian said.

It was the first time since his arrest that James Perriello had seen any of his children, who were all at home in Grantham at the time of the April 2012 shooting.

“The words, the shouts, the crying, the footsteps,” Jillian continued. “The rain pounding down the window. The sirens.

“I still see them. … The two frantic boys across the hall. The petrified look on your face. … The flashing lights. … The Mickey Mouse comforter that still snuggles my body at night.” Continue reading “Perriello Gets 35 Years to Life; Sentence Is Harshest Possible For Man Who Killed Wife”

Thursday Is the New Black: No Rest for Workers, Shoppers as Big Box Stores Open on Thanksgiving

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

West Lebanon — Box store spokespersons said consumers have demanded it. A workers’ rights advocate called it “a sad state of affairs.” And shoppers out on Route 12A Thursday said they’re grateful for the convenience — but maybe enough is enough.

Black Friday continued its slow take over of the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, when at least two of the Upper Valley shopping mecca’s box stores were open by 7 a.m., and another batch opened to long lines in the early evening.

Most kept their doors open overnight, with no plans to close them until tonight, meaning they were open for as many as 41 consecutive hours.

“My kids were asking me, ‘Mom, I thought that Black Friday was supposed to be on Friday?’, ” said Nicole Scrimgeour, of St. Johnsbury, on Thursday afternoon.

She was standing in a tent that she had set up outside Best Buy around 4 a.m. Continue reading “Thursday Is the New Black: No Rest for Workers, Shoppers as Big Box Stores Open on Thanksgiving”

Manure Pile Spontaneously Combusts at Windsor Goat Farm

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

Windsor — At the municipal offices downtown, Police Chief Stephen Soares compared the stench wafting through Windsor Wednesday to the smell of “burning rubbish.”

Town Manager Tom Marsh said it evoked “a damp kind of burning leaves or brush fire.” And at least one person thought it smelled like bacon.

Alas, a town official says the cause was something less redolent: A giant pile of goat manure spontaneously combusted at a Route 5 goat farm early Wednesday morning, they said, erupting into small flames and emitting a scent that both perplexed and amused people.

“(I)t was a little disconcerting because it was a very strong smell,” said Marsh, who said the aura was easily detectable at his home high on a hill, about five miles from the farm. “It wasn’t like a whiff of something.” Continue reading “Manure Pile Spontaneously Combusts at Windsor Goat Farm”

Lowrie Leaves an Impression: Rookie Delivers Early and Late for Red Sox

By Maggie Cassidy
Globe Correspondent

Before last night’s game, a frenzy surrounding Manny Ramirez’s departure to the Dodgers and Jason Bay’s arrival from the Pirates had taken over Fenway Park.

But while Bay shined in his Red Sox debut, reaching base three times, scoring both Boston runs, and tripling to start the winning rally in the 12th inning, another star emerged. One who’s been with the Sox for almost a month.

Jed Lowrie, who was recalled from Pawtucket July 13 after Julio Lugo was placed on the 15-day disabled list, drove in Bay twice – including the deciding run on an infield single – to help lead the Sox to a 2-1 win over the Oakland A’s.

“It was just a matter of me going out there and trusting my game,” Lowrie said. “I was able to get a couple hits and hit a sac fly and hit a sac bunt, so I felt like I did it all tonight.” Continue reading “Lowrie Leaves an Impression: Rookie Delivers Early and Late for Red Sox”

Sign Of a Champion: Learning Center’s NEPSAC Banner Understood By All

By Maggie Cassidy
Globe Correspondent

On the bench to the right of the scoring table at Noble & Greenough’s Rappaport Gymnasium yesterday, young women in bright blue basketball uniforms began their intimidating battle cry, bringing down one foot at a time — stomp, stomp — before smacking their hands in unison — clap, clap.

They repeated the bone-shaking rally throughout the game — stomp, stomp, clap, clap, stomp, stomp, clap, clap. And while their teammates on the court couldn’t hear the noise the bench produced, they knew it was there.

The Learning Center for the Deaf relied on pure teamwork to capture the NEPSAC Class D girls’ basketball championship with a convincing 43-35 win over Chase Collegiate of Waterbury, Conn.

It was the first time in NEPSAC history a deaf team made it to the championship game.

‘‘I feel like a lot of people actually are shocked,’’ senior Danielle Sprague signed through interpreter Crista DeBenedictis. ‘‘No one believes that a deaf team could win, and here we are, proving today that it doesn’t matter if you’re a deaf team or a hearing team. It doesn’t matter. You can win.’’ Continue reading “Sign Of a Champion: Learning Center’s NEPSAC Banner Understood By All”