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”

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Flight of a Lifetime

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

West Lebanon — Janet Bailey took control of the four-seater Cessna 172 airplane Monday morning as it rumbled forward on the runway at Lebanon Municipal Airport.

With the pilot’s gentle coaching, she pulled back, back, back and the plane lurched up, up, up — and suddenly, the woman who had celebrated her 82nd birthday only days earlier was in the air, flying again, piloting a plane for the first time since she took flying lessons at that same airport 60 years ago. Continue reading “Flight of a Lifetime”

One Year After Tropical Storm Irene, Farmers Prove a Resilient Bunch

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

South Royalton — Standing next to a row of cherry tomatoes, Geo Honigford extended his arm west, pointing toward “popcorn fields” across his produce farm, Hurricane Flats.

With the hot sun scorching his mustard-colored baseball cap, he let his arm rise and fall, rise and fall, sweeping from left to right, mimicking the undulated valleys and peaks of the corn stalks’ tops.

The stalks looked like soft green and yellow waves, an appealing visual — at least to non-farmers. But it’s actually a sign of the land’s recent distress: The stalks should all be of a uniform height, Honigford said, and those slopes signal a nutrient deficiency in the soil. Continue reading “One Year After Tropical Storm Irene, Farmers Prove a Resilient Bunch”

Summer’s Pendulum: Valley Rope Swings Are a Seasonal Cat-and-Mouse Game

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

Norwich — It’s time for annual summer rituals: boaters on lakes, families at fairgrounds, friends eating ice cream, concerts on greens.

Not to mention, of course, a tradition as sure as any other: teenagers building rope swings, and authorities cutting them down.

Workers from Dartmouth College gave the ax to four rope swings along the Connecticut River last week after an undergraduate student was hospitalized overnight with minor injuries related to a rope swing jump.

But while the student’s ill-fated swing prompted the dismantling, college spokesman Justin Anderson said the swings would have met their fate sooner or later, anyway. Dartmouth workers periodically inspect the Connecticut River for swings every summer.

“This is an annual thing,” he said. “The rope swings go up, and we cut them down.” Continue reading “Summer’s Pendulum: Valley Rope Swings Are a Seasonal Cat-and-Mouse Game”

Surviving the Fall

By Maggie Cassidy
The Molokai Dispatch

“No dog is worth your life,” says Kaimana He, sitting in front of his house. Small scratches are faintly visible on his face; in the sun, the remnants of bruises are fading around his ribs.

His mother, Tina He-Lindsey, agrees.

“Even with the most experienced people, accidents still happen,” she says.

The pair knows what they’re talking about. It was only weeks earlier that He-Lindsey came home to a jolting phone call from family friend Dolphin Pawn: While trying to retrieve his dogs on a hunting trip with friends through Waialeia Valley that morning, Kaimana had fallen off a ledge more than 40 feet. He had a large gash on his forehead; the full extent of his injuries was unknown. Pawn, who was hunting with a separate party, stumbled across the boys and used his dogs’ GPS collars to pinpoint Kaimana’s location. Continue reading “Surviving the Fall”

E Komo Mai Voyagers

By Maggie Cassidy
The Molokai Dispatch

They came from across Polynesia: some from Tahiti or Fiji, some from Samoa or the Cook Islands. And for two months, they traveled more than 15,000 miles across open ocean, stopping in places like Auckland, Fakarava, Nuku Hiva, or surrounded by only deep blue water. They relied on wind to fill their sails, sun to power their engines, and little other than stars and birds to guide their canoes.

And although many of the Pacific Voyager sailors had never been to Molokai before, last week, they said they came home.

Seven voyaging canoes, or vaka moanas, were greeted by hundreds of Molokai community members at Kaunakakai Wharf last Thursday. Their journey, named “Te Mana o Te Moana” meaning “Spirit of the Sea,” set course from New Zealand in April. They arrived in Hilo June 17, stopping on Maui before voyaging to the Friendly Isle.

“Coming in [to Molokai], the warmth of the people is there from the beginning,” said Duncan Morrison, the captain for the Haunui vaka, one of two Pan-Pacific canoes on the trip. “It’s very open and welcoming. For someone who comes in as a stranger, it’s beautiful to feel like you’re coming home. It’s really a homecoming of the heart.” Continue reading “E Komo Mai Voyagers”

Burned Out: When Fenway’s Restaurant Row Went Up in Flames, Neighbors Lost More Than Their Favorite Eats

By Maggie Cassidy
Globe Correspondent

When workers closed up shop at El Pelon Taqueria on the night of Jan. 5, there were virtually no signs that the restaurant had suffered a devastating fire just over a year earlier, in December 2007. Since reopening in February 2008, they had reincarnated their famous walls of photos displaying about 70 snapshots of customers proudly wearing their El Pelon T-shirts — which show a mustachioed man underneath the restaurant’s name — in locations around the world.

There were other mementoes, too, tacked up on the walls: Mexican baseball shirts, folk art, gifts from customers. And there were the customers themselves: tourists, passersby, and, in large part, local Fenway residents who stopped in for the $4 burritos or popular $5 fish tacos.

The following morning, the beloved taqueria was gone. El Pelon was one of seven businesses – six restaurants and a dry cleaner – destroyed in a four-alarm fire early Jan. 6. The blaze gutted the building, causing an estimated $5 million in damage and leaving 71 workers unemployed. Continue reading “Burned Out: When Fenway’s Restaurant Row Went Up in Flames, Neighbors Lost More Than Their Favorite Eats”