Susan Keese

Producer, Reporter

Susan Keese was VPR's southern Vermont reporter, based at the VPR studio in Manchester at Burr & Burton Academy. After many years as a print journalist and magazine writer, Susan started producing stories for VPR in 2002. From 2007-2009, she worked as a producer, helping to launch the noontime show Vermont Edition. Susan has won numerous journalism awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for her reporting on VPR. She wrote a column for the Sunday Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. Her work has appeared in Vermont Life, the Boston Globe Magazine, The New York Times and other publications, as well as on NPR. 

Susan passed away in 2015.

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Susan Keese / VPR

The artist Norman Rockwell moved to Arlington, Vermont in 1939 and lived there with his family until 1953. During that time Rockwell produced some of his best-known work. His neighbors and their children often served as models for his paintings. Rockwell and his work are generating renewed interest and debate. One of his paintings recently sold for more than $46 million.

Susan Keese / VPR

The Brattleboro Housing Authority is asking the public to come up with a new use for Melrose Terrace, a public housing complex in West Brattleboro. The 50-year-old complex can no longer receive federal subsidies because it’s in a flood hazard zone. Its residents will move to new public housing in a few years. But officials say the sturdy, red brick buildings at Melrose should be good for something. Suggestions have been pouring in.

Susan Keese / VPR

It’s been almost a year since the announcement that Entergy Vermont Yankee would close at the end of 2014. At the time of the announcement, the plant employed 632 people, at salaries well above the norm for southern Vermont.

Toby Talbot / AP

Applications are now being accepted for the first round of funds provided by Entergy Vermont Yankee for economic development in Windham County. In a settlement with the state, Entergy agreed to pay $10 million over five years to help the region recover from the plant’s closing later this year.

An effort to stop construction of a 30 megawatt ridge-line wind development in the Green Mountain National Forest got a hearing Wednesday in Federal Court in Brattleboro. The 15-turbine Deerfield Wind project has been authorized by the U.S. Forest Service and permitted by the state. But opponents say the Forest Service approval process was flawed. And they argue that the installation would compromise a federally designated wilderness area near the site.

Susan Keese / VPR

The owner of Santa’s Land in Putney has filed for bankruptcy.

Lillian Billewicz, of Fair Haven, bought the once-popular theme park last June but has not opened it this year. In March, Billewicz and an employee were charged with animal cruelty after 16 of the park’s fallow deer and some other animals were found dead and emaciated.

The surviving animals are still at the shuttered tourist attraction while the case is pending.

Jeff Grimshaw / Courtesy

This past March Bennington was the subject of a New York Times story that generated quite a bit of anger in town. The headline read, “Heroin Scourge Overtakes a ‘Quaint’ Vermont Town.”

Susan Keese / VPR

A Vermont nonprofit that’s experimenting with the use of human urine as a fertilizer has attracted the interest of the scientific community. Rich Earth Institute has begun a field trial in partnerships with two major universities and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Susan Keese / VPR

Backers of the $24 million restoration of Brattleboro’s Brooks House say the downtown building will be ready for its first tenants soon. The historic structure was gutted by fire in 2011. In early August Vermont Technical College and Community College of Vermont will open classrooms and offices in the building.

Seven Guilford fire fighters were hospitalized Wednesday afternoon after it was suspected they had been struck by lightning. The fire fighters were in the process of extinguishing a two alarm structure fire on East Mountain Road in Guilford, near the Massachusetts border.

A witness at the scene reported severe thunderstorms in the area at the time. Brattleboro Area Rescue and another ambulance service transported the firefighters to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.

Susan Keese / VPR

A member of a group that’s been protesting alleged animal mistreatment at Santa’s Land in Putney has been cited for trespassing.

Sarah Massucco received a citation Friday from the Windham County Sheriff’s Office. She says the charge stems from efforts by her and a few others to feed the animals at the theme park, which has been closed since December.

Susan Keese / VPR

A group that’s been picketing outside Santa’s Land in Putney wants to find new homes for the animals there. The theme park’s owner and caretaker have both been charged with animal cruelty, following the deaths of more than 20 animals this winter. But officials who have been spot checking the shuttered park say the remaining animals are not in trouble.

Susan Keese / VPR

Brattleboro’s Austine School graduated a class of four students Tuesday, in what could be its final commencement. The 100-year-old school for the deaf announced in April that it would close at the end of the academic year because of financial problems. School officials say they hope to regroup and re-open in 2016.

Outgoing alumni association president Michael Carter expressed hope that Austine School would make a comeback.

"This is not goodbye, please don’t misunderstand that," he told the gathering in American Sign Language. "It’s a, 'See you later, see you soon.'"

Zev Fisher

A musical recreation of the 600-year odyssey of a medieval Jewish prayer book returns on Saturday to Putney, where the work was first performed earlier this year.

The Sarajevo Haggadah: Music of the Book was developed and premiered by Bosnian-born accordionist Merima Kljuco during a residency at Putney’s Yellow Barn. It’s been playing to sold-out concert venues around the country.

Brattleboro town meeting representatives passed a nearly $16 million town budget Monday night. That’s about $600,000 less than the one approved at the town’s representative town meeting in March.

The initial budget was overturned in a town wide referendum in April. Supporters of the recall said rising taxes had become a hardship.

They objected in particular to payments on a planned $14 million fire and police facility upgrade approved in 2012.

Susan Keese / VPR

Many of Vermont’s best-loved trees face serious threats from invasive pests that have destroyed millions of trees in some states. One of the most troubling is the emerald ash borer, a deadly forest predator which has no known, effective treatment. The insect hasn’t yet reached Vermont, but the state is getting ready for it.

Susan Keese / VPR

Protestors interrupted a public meeting with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Brattleboro Wednesday night. Anti-nuclear activists brought the session to a temporary halt by reading a letter from Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey criticizing a recent NRC decision.  

“Quote, spent nuclear fuel pools are a disaster waiting to happen, unquote, said Senator Markey,” the group read in unison.

The federal agency voted this week not to require plants to speed up the removal of spent fuel from spent fuel pools into safer dry cask storage.

Residents of Windham packed the local meeting house on Tuesday night to hear about the findings of three wind test towers on the ridge between Windham and Grafton. The towers were erected last spring to determine the feasibility of a commercial wind project in the two towns. But the would-be developers say it’s too soon to reach any conclusions.

The test towers were built by the Spanish Energy conglomerate Iberdrola Renewables. But Meadowsend Timberland Limited of New London, NH,  also known as MTL, is the driving force behind the project.  

Susan Keese / VPR

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon. The birds were once more numerous than all the other bird species in North America combined.  To honor the birds and to promote awareness about human-caused extinctions, people around the world are making passenger pigeons out of folded paper. They hope to create an online flock of a million birds.

Voters at a special town meeting in Putney Thursday night reaffirmed the $1.8 million budget they approved in March.

The vote was an endorsement of Rescue Inc, a multi-town emergency services coop that Putney has used for decades.

The original budget, presented in March, called for the town to switch to Golden Cross, a for-profit ambulance service based in Claremont, NH and Westminster.

Golden Cross offered to serve the town for $22,000 less than Rescue Inc. But voters in March amended the budget to pay for the higher-priced services of Rescue Inc.