Charlotte Albright

Commentator

Charlotte Albright lives in Lyndonville and currently works in the Office of Communication at Dartmouth College. She was a VPR reporter from 2012 - 2015, covering the Upper Valley and the Northeast Kingdom. Prior to that she freelanced for VPR for several years.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

Last year, nearly a quarter of Vermont’s middle school students, and a higher percentage of secondary school students, were labeled “substantially below proficient” in a standardized science test given throughout the United States. 

School districts are adjusting lesson plans to bring up those scores. And in the Northeast Kingdom, there’s an unusual hands-on approach to learning about astronomy.

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, more and more soldiers continue to come back home to Vermont.

For some, the search for employment and housing  is a major hurdle. A group called Leadership Upper Valley recently hosted a town meeting style event designed to help ease veterans’ re-entry.

In the audience at the elegant Quechee Club were many well-dressed community leaders who listened to a panel of military experts, including Major Christina Fanitzi.

Vermont Arts Council

More than 200 artisans across Vermont will open their studios to visitors this weekend. It’s the 21st annual tour sponsored by the Vermont Crafts Council. Council Director Martha Fitch says it gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look at how arts and crafts are made.

“Once you’ve seen something produced every single time you pick up a clay bowl or mug all of a sudden you remember the process that was used to create it and it’s just much more valuable," Fitch said.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

Until this year, the children who play in the field behind Reading Elementary School have been getting itchy—literally.

The playground borders a huge patch of poison ivy. But the weed has met its match.

Three goats are dining on it.

The goat project at tiny Reading Elementary grew from research conducted in Patricia Collins’s class of fifth-graders. There are only six students, but over the past year they filled a binder with information about how to solve the school’s poison ivy problem. 

Ten-year old Kit Oney says recess could be hazardous.

A Dartmouth student is accused of raping a fellow student in her dorm room earlier this month. He was initially held for lack of bail.

Dartmouth College officials are declining to speak publicly about the incident, which is still under investigation. And Hanover police commented only in a  press release.

Police say Parker Gilbert, a junior from London, trespassed into a female student’s unlocked dorm room and sexually assaulted her.

Jeff Shiffrin

In March, a student from Burke Mountain Academy became the youngest Women’s World Cup ski slalom champion in 39 years. 

The eighteen-year-old  athlete is now back at school cracking the books and hanging out with friends.

Sitting at a long table in the administration building under a painting of Burke Mountain, a smiling Mikaela Shiffrin looks at ease near the slopes where she first learned to ski.

Herb Swanson / http://www.swanpix.com/

Tropical Storm Irene is still packing a punch for some Vermont businesses.

That’s because more than 200 employers were forced to lay off workers after the storm—and other flooding that year. And some have seen their unemployment tax rates go up, sometimes dramatically.

That’s what happened to the Woodstock Farmers’ Market.

On warm spring day, the Ottauquechee River flowed gracefully around the back of the store, which sells plants, produce, and other groceries.

Matthew W. Payeur

One of northern New England’s most unusual natural history museums will soon have a new leader.

Director Charlie Browne is retiring after 34 years at the helm of the Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury.

He leaves behind a museum that is very different from the one he arrived at as a young intern.

This Victorian institution is trying to keep up with the times.

But it is also a window on the past.

Toby Talbot / AP

Brattleboro Memorial Hospital and Grace Cottage Hospital in Townshend are looking for ways to collaborate more closely.

They say the goal is to make health care more cost-effective and accessible in southeastern Vermont.

The hospitals are only 17 miles apart and they want to learn how they can better coordinate care in the region.

They’re turning to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and a consulting firm to gather data that will lead to recommendations later this year.

Steven Gordon is president of Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.

VPR/Charlotte Albright

It’s been five years since hemp was declared a legal crop in Vermont. But there’s a catch. The law takes effect only if the feds declassify the plant—which is related to marijuana—as a controlled substance. 

Federal law still forbids growing hemp. But a new bill with wide support would legalize hemp in Vermont, despite the federal ban.   

East Thetford farm manager Will Allen has his fingers crossed.

Photo by Herb Swanson

Dartmouth College canceled classes Wednesday to hold a teach-in about the reaction to a demonstration last week.

Students staged the demonstration last week to highlight alleged discrimination at Dartmouth. And that drew angry comments online, as well as threats of violence.

Last Friday about fifteen students unhappy about the way they are treated at Dartmouth interrupted a presentation to prospective students. They carried signs and shouted “Dartmouth has a problem.” That problem, says senior  Karolina Krelinova, from the Czech Republic, is intolerance.

Mark Washburn, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center

What happens when a patient is medically ready to leave a hospital, but is not mentally capable of making decisions?

Ideally, they have designated a proxy or guardian to help guide the way. But if they haven’t, finding a legal guardian can take weeks or months, while the patient is taking up bed space needed by others.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center is trying to streamline that process.

Jasper Chen is a resident psychiatrist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, and also part of an allied residency program to improve health care delivery.

VPR/Charlotte Albright

For more than a year now, the town of St. Johnsbury has been wrangling over who should be town manager.

The debate comes in the wake of the select board’s decision to fire Ralph Nelson after less than two years on the job.

Nelson and a recent job applicant are both suing the town

But a veteran of St. Johnsbury politics has been appointed for now.

He hasn’t officially started work yet but already John Hall looks right at home behind a desk in the top floor of St. Johnsbury’s stylish new town office in a renovated railroad station.

A plan to expand a runway at the Lebanon Municipal Airport in New Hampshire has been defeated by the City Council.

The two-year project would also have increased the safety area beyond the runway. The FAA would have covered 90 per cent of the cost, leaving the city with about a million dollar tab. 

Now the airport will have to meet FAA guidelines not by expanding runways, but by shortening them, to leave enough open space for planes that overshoot the paved area.

Airport Director Rick Dymont says that could limit the kinds of aircraft that use the Lebanon facility.

VPR/Charlotte Albright

While some post offices in the Upper Valley are cutting back hours to save money, there’s actually a new one that’s doing just fine—for free.

First-graders at the Thetford Elementary School have started their own postal service.  Letters get dropped into a big blue cardboard mailbox in the school lobby.  

At ten o’clock sharp each weekday morning, it gets emptied.

Jack Cramer, a first grader, has mail duty on this day,  along with his friend Shannon O’Donnell---assisted by teacher’s aide Wanda Vaughan.

Testing for trichloroethylene at a middle school in Hanover has shown no unsafe levels of the known carcinogen—yet.

But officials say tests will continue to determine possible TCE contamination there and at other properties near the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab.

TCE was used as a refrigerant at the lab from 1960 to 1987. The search extends to adjacent properties, including some owned by Dartmouth College, where employees live.

Herb Swanson

In about a year, two new foreign companies expect to be operating in Newport at the site of a former skiwear manufacturer. AnC Bio, a Korean bio-tech firm, and Menck Windows, a German company, are the centerpiece of a $600 million economic development initiative promising to bring 10,000 jobs to the Northeast Kingdom. Chief executives from those two companies gave progress reports in Newport Thursday. 

The CEOs of the two foreign companies that promise to bring more than 600 new jobs to Newport visited the future site of their operations Thursday in the lakefront building formerly occupied by Bogner ski wear. 

Dr. Ike Lee, president of the Korean bio-tech firm AnC Bio, announced a partnership with UVM to help recruit scientifically trained researchers.

VPR/Charlotte Albright / Phil Kline, composer of "Tesla in New York" uses a rehearsal break to speak at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth

Radio lovers owe a debt to a brilliant engineer named Nikola Tesla. The inventor from Croatia revolutionized the study of electro-magnetism.

But Tesla was also socially awkward and descended into poverty and madness.

For composer Phil Kline and filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, Tesla's story had all the makings of an opera.

They're still writing the piece, but parts of the work-in-progress will be staged this week at the Hopkins Center for the Arts in Hanover.

A school in Hanover is being tested for the presence of a chemical that was used as a refrigerant at a nearby laboratory.

Richmond Middle School sits across the road from the U-S Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory.

The chemical trichloroethylene was used as a refrigerant at the lab from the 1960s until 1987.

Officials say TCE has been found at trace levels on the lab grounds, but recent testing hasn't found any unsafe levels of the vapor at the school.

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