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Peacham man missing

in News/Peacham

UPDATE: Police say Robert Bender was located safe.

PEACHAM — Authorities are trying to locate a 47-year-old man from Peacham who has been reported missing.

At around 8:30 a.m. police responded to a request for a welfare check on Lanesboro Road.

At after an attempt to locate Robert Bender, police say he is considered a missing person and there are concerns for his welfare.

The incident is not being treated as suspicious at this time.

Bender was last seen wearing a black baseball cap, black t-shirt with a green skull, and gray basketball shorts.

Bender may also be operating an orange 2017 Toyota Tacoma bearing Vermont registration 282A401.

Anyone with information regarding Bender’s location is being asked to contact Trooper Jason Danielsen at 802-748-3111.

Body found in Connecticut River identified as missing Lunenburg teen

in Essex County/News

LUNENBURG — The body of a 15-year-old boy from Lunenberg who disappeared while swimming in the Connecticut River was located today.

Authorities say the boy disappeared on Monday while swimming below the Bridge Street bridge around 5:30 p.m.

He was last seen swimming with his two sisters and some friends when he disappeared after struggling in the strong current.

A witness who heard cries for help managed to pull one of the swimmers to safety.

Rescue boats were launched and search equipment was deployed in the area to try and locate the missing teen.

Vermont State Police provided a side-scan sonar and the N.H. Fish and Game Department Dive Team deployed an underwater swimming camera in an initial attempt to locate the boy. Divers began a systematic search of the area.

The boy’s body was found shortly before 2 p.m. on Tuesday, near where he was last seen.

The missing teen’s name has not been released pending notification of family, but authorities did confirm that the boy is from Lunenburg, Vermont.

Bomb threat at Lyndon State College causes scare

in Lyndonville/News

LYNDONVILLE — A bomb threat at Lyndon State College caused a scare at the school this afternoon.

Police say at around 1:45 p.m., Lyndon State College received an anonymous threatening email via admissions and student services claiming that there were explosive devices placed in various locations of the campus.

The author of the anonymous email threatened harm to the campus.

Campus security conducted an immediate search for suspicious devices or items and nothing was found.

They contacted the Vermont State Police to report the threat and troopers as well as members of the Bureau of Criminal Investigations responded.

Coordinated efforts were completed for ensuring the safety of the campus, authorities say, and a continued investigation is underway to identify the origin of the threatening email.

A photo was released of a person entering the library, and campus security is asking anyone who recognizes the individual in the photo to call 802-626-6432 or email george.hacking@lyndonstate.edu.

All scheduled programs and activities will continue as scheduled, the school says.

VT Fish & Wildlife opt to not stock walleye into Moore Reservoir

in News/Outdoors

MONTPELIER — The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department held a public informational meeting on Monday night in Littleton, NH, to update interested anglers on a proposal to stock walleye into Moore Reservoir.

In the proposal, walleye populations would be created in Moore Reservoir through direct stocking, and in Comerford and McIndoes reservoirs through the downstream drift of juveniles. Moore Reservoir is an impoundment on the Connecticut River in the communities of Littleton and Dalton, New Hampshire, and Waterford and Concord, Vermont.

Comerford and McIndoes reservoirs are immediately downstream of Moore Reservoir.

Fisheries biologists from both agencies presented a review of the initial stocking proposal and shared biological data collected during the past three years to investigate angler concerns over the potential impact of walleye on wild trout. The Agencies ultimately made public their decision to not stock walleye into any of the three reservoirs.

“While these reservoirs contain the habitat and forage base necessary to sustain a quality walleye fishery, we found that the trout fishery in McIndoes Reservoir consists primarily of wild fish,” said Jud Kratzer, fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “Although walleye would likely not have an impact on hatchery trout, studies have shown that walleye have the potential to eat smaller juvenile wild trout and may reduce their abundance. Ultimately, we did not feel comfortable creating a new fishery that could have the potential to impact a unique, high quality wild trout fishery.”

In a statement issued by New Hampshire Fish & Game, they say they took into account angler concerns regarding potential impacts of walleye on wild trout and performed field studies to determine the contribution of wild trout to the fisheries in these reservoirs.

“Although all anglers may not agree with the outcome, we feel we did our due diligence by investigating angler concerns and reviewing available studies related to walleye introductions prior to making our decision,” said Gabe Gries, fisheries biologist with New Hampshire Fish & Game.

Jay Peak Resort developers charged with running Ponzi-like scheme

in News/Vermont News

NEWPORT — The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges and an asset freeze against Jay Peak Resort and related businesses allegedly misusing millions of dollars raised through investments solicited under the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.

The SEC’s case was unsealed today in federal court in Miami, and the court has appointed a receiver over the companies to prevent any further spending of investor assets.

The SEC alleges that Bill Stenger, Ariel Quiros, and their companies made false statements and omitted key information while raising more than $350 million from investors to construct ski resort facilities and as well as the proposed AnC Bio facility in Newport.

Investors were told they were investing in one of several projects connected to Jay Peak Inc., a ski resort operated by Stenger and Quiros, and their money would only be used to finance that specific project.

Instead, in Ponzi-like fashion, money from investors in later projects was misappropriated to fund deficits in earlier projects. More than $200 million was allegedly used for other-than-stated purposes, including $50 million spent on Quiros’s personal expenses and in other ways never disclosed to investors.

“This is obviously a difficult day for Vermont and for the many people, myself included, who are so invested in growing jobs and economic opportunity in the Northeast Kingdom,” said Gov. Shumlin. “Most of all, this is a difficult day for the hundreds of employees in the Northeast Kingdom who rely on Jay Peak, Q Burke, and the related projects that appeared to hold so much promise.”

According to the SEC’s complaint, Quiros improperly tapped investor funds for such things as the purchase of a luxury condominium, payment of his income taxes and other taxes unrelated to the investments, and acquisition of an unrelated ski resort.

“The alleged fraud ran the gamut from false statements to deceptive financial transactions to outright theft,” said Andrew Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “As alleged in our complaint, the defendants diverted millions of EB-5 investor dollars to their own pockets, leaving little money for construction of the research facility investors were told would be built and thereby putting the investors’ funds and their immigration petitions in jeopardy.”

The SEC’s complaint charges Quiros, Stenger, Jay Peak, and a company owned by Quiros called Q Resorts Inc. as well as seven limited partnerships and their general partner companies with violating the antifraud provisions of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.

Four other companies are named as relief defendants in the SEC’s complaint for the purpose of recovering investor funds transferred into their accounts. The SEC seeks preliminary and permanent injunctions, financial penalties, and disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus interest. The agency also seeks conduct-based injunctive relief against Quiros and Stenger along with an officer-and-director bar against Quiros.

“Like Governor Shumlin, I am stunned and disappointed with the SEC report on the allegations of fraud in the Northeast Kingdom EB5 projects,” Newport Mayor Paul Monette said. “We will continue to monitor these developments to evaluate the impact on the Newport City projects.”

Man and woman from Bristol charged with using apartment for heroin distribution

in Bristol/Featured/News/Vermont Crime

BRISTOL — A man and woman have been charged with using their apartment at 51 Woodland Drive, in Bristol, as a place to store and distribute heroin.

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated today that Justin Stone, age 24, and Corrin Laraway, age 22, both of Bristol, were charged on Monday, in a bizarre case that unfolded over the weekend.

The Vermont State Police were alerted to the residence of Stone and Laraway in the early morning hours Saturday, in response to a report of a disturbance coming from the residence.

Vermont State Police interacted with both Stone and Laraway at the residence, who reported that they were safe. A short while later, law enforcement received a 911 call indicating that a person, who had been staying at the residence of Stone and Laraway, had been injured.

The 911 caller provided the phone number of the injured individual, who was later located by Bristol Rescue and Lincoln Fire Department on the side of Notch Road, in Lincoln.

The man was taken to the hospital for treatment of his injuries.

In light of the 911 call connecting the injured man to Stone and Laraway’s residence, Vermont State Police returned to the residence but they were not there.

They were subsequently found at the Motel Six in Colchester where they were apprehended. A subsequent search of the motel room revealed several thousand dollars of U.S. currency as well as heroin.

Stone and Laraway were interviewed and both admitted that they had permitted a man to distribute heroin out of their Bristol apartment for the past month. They also admitted that they had transported and left the man on the side of Notch Road in Lincoln the previous night.

If convicted, Stone and Laraway each face a maximum possible penalty of up to twenty years in jail and a $500,000 fine.

The United States Attorney, Eric Miller, commended the work of the many law enforcement agencies involved in the efforts to apprehend Stone and Laraway.

“Today’s charges are the result of first-rate detective work by state, federal, and local agents,” Miller said.

Vermont becomes 5th state to enact paid sick days law

in Featured/News/Vermont News

MONTPELIER — Governor Peter Shumlin signed the Paid Sick Days bill into law this morning in a ceremony held in the House Chamber. Dozens of advocates and supporters joined the Governor to celebrate Vermont’s becoming the 5th state to enact such a law.

The legislation establishes a mandatory minimum requirement for Vermont employers to provide employees with paid time off when the employee is sick, or to care for a child or family member who is sick, or to access services for domestic abuse survivors.

In Vermont, an estimated 60,000 private-sector workers currently do not have the ability to earn a single day of paid sick time. As the law goes into effect, these workers will gain access to 3 days/year and then eventually 5 days/year of earned time off.

The stated purpose of the law is “to promote a healthier environment at work, school, and in public by ensuring that employees are provided with paid leave time for purposes of health care and safety.”

“Access to paid sick time matters to children and families,” explained Annie Accettella, of Voices for Vermont’s Children. “This new law will mean that parents and caregivers can take care of their children without sacrificing a day’s pay.”

The new law will also allow a domestic abuse survivor to take paid time off to seek services.

“The State of Vermont has worked for decades to develop a comprehensive range of services and protections for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, but survivors need the flexibility to access these services in the safest way possible,” Auburn Watersong, Associate Director of Public Policy at the VT Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, explained. “Sometimes the safest time to seek counseling, health care, or legal protection is during work hours. Court hearings only happen during business hours, which requires many survivors to take time off from work. This new law will provide an absolutely critical window of time for survivors to seek safety and protection for themselves and their children.”

Advocates have worked on the Paid Sick Days bill for close to a decade. The bill passed the House of Representative in April of 2015 with a vote of 72-63. In February of 2016, the Senate passed an amended version of the bill with a vote of 21-8, and then the bill was passed again when Senator Bill Doyle (R-Washington) asked to reconsider the bill. On February 17, 2016, the House of Representatives agreed to accept the Senate’s amendments and passed the bill in final form with a vote of 81-64.

The new law phases in the requirement to provide paid sick days to employees over two years. Employers who have more than five employees will be required to provide the benefit in 2017. Employers with five or fewer employees will be required to provide the benefit in 2018.

Hunters enjoy successful and safe bear hunting season

in Featured/News/Outdoors/Vermont News

ADDISON — Bear hunters in Vermont had a safe and successful hunting season in 2015. Preliminary numbers show that they took 669 black bears during the 83 days of the two-part season. There were also no hunting-related shooting incidents.

Fish & Wildlife Department bear biologist Forrest Hammond says this is a higher harvest than the past 10-year average of 502 bears taken annually, but it is consistent with a statewide goal of stabilizing the bear population between 4,500 and 6,000 bears.

“Nearly equal numbers of bears were harvested during the early and late bear seasons,” said Hammond. “Warmer than average hunting conditions, a lack of heavy snow cover and an abundance of wild apples along with some beech nuts caused many bears to delay entering their dens, which in turn allowed for more bears than normal to be taken at the end of the late bear season.”

A lack of substantial snowfall also is believed responsible for the many reports from the public of bears visiting bird feeders and garbage at a time of year when they would normally be in their dens.

Hammond says the recent snowstorm should cause most bears to begin their winter sleep, making it possible for people to begin feeding birds.

Hammond also noted that participation in the early bear season has remained high with large numbers of hunters choosing to purchase a $5 early season bear tag.

“Between an abundant population, a long hunting season and the potential of harvesting delicious and nutritious bear meat, Vermonters and visitors are becoming increasingly interested in hunting this big game animal,” said Hammond.

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