Northeast Kingdom

Michel Gagnon / Flickr

A keystone in the redevelopment plan for the city of Newport has toppled. Jay Peak Resort owner Bill Stenger was counting on buying a shopping center from real estate developer Tony Pomerleau, and converting it into a convention center and marina.

But after some starts and stops, the deal has finally fallen through.

Bill Stenger and Tony Pomerleau have had an on-again, off-again agreement to transfer ownership of this waterfront plaza. Strategically located on a causeway overlooking  Lake Memphremagog, Stenger says it would make a great convention center and marina.

Charlotte Albright / vpr

Once upon a time, on a tree-lined ridge overlooking Lyndonville, a bunch of kids gathered in a red barn. They moved some hay bales around, scared away some angry starlings, and sang and danced their way into the hearts of the Northeast Kingdom.

Over 20 years later, and with a lot of help from volunteers and benefactors, the curtain is still going up on the Vermont Children’s Theater.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

On Monday, the public got a chance to weigh in on a plan to build a four-story glass and metal tower in Newport that would house bio-medical research and development.

The developers, Bill Stenger and his business partner Ariel Quiros, say the project will create as many as 500 jobs and will not harm the environment. But some Newport residents have some concerns about its impact on public health.

Toby Talbot / AP

The Memphremagog Watershed Association is hosting a panel discussion Tuesday night about what it calls a "tar sands threat to Lake Memphremagog." The discussion has been organized jointly by the Memphremagog Watershed Association and National Wildlife Federation.

"Community members are invited to attend a discussion about an emerging threat to rivers, lakes, and streams in the Northeast Kingdom, including Lake Memphremagog," an event announcement states.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

This summer, several local communities are answering Gov. Peter Shumlin’s call of alarm about the growing opioid epidemic. About a dozen regional committees are now meeting throughout Vermont to craft specific action plans.

In the Northeast Kingdom, a group of concerned citizens call themselves “The Drug Abuse Resistance Team,” or DART 2.0. They meet once a month in a St. Johnsbury church basement. Members include social service providers, recovering addicts, drug and alcohol abuse counselors, a restorative justice director, even a hospital president.

Charlotte Albright

St. Johnsbury is one of 35 towns that saw its school budget voted down by voters on Town Meeting Day. But unlike many towns, it’s seeing its class sizes increase, and that’s adding costs. After the vote, the School Board held a public meeting where residents got to sound off about how to create a budget they will support.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

The city of Newport is poised for major economic development. But a lingering social problem seems to have gotten worse this winter. Community activists say they are seeing a rise in homelessness in a city with no emergency shelter.

On Newport’s Main Street, Brenda’s Restaurant is an early morning oasis for people who may have spent a bitterly cold night outdoors. 

Chatting with her friend Neil Morrissette, owner Brenda LePage says she’s happy to feed them for free.

Herb Swanson / swanpix.com

When the temperature plummets and snow piles up, many mountain bikes used to get stored for the season. But these days, more and more winter riders are navigating packed snow on big tires with deep treads.  So-called fat bikes are showing up all over the place, including Vermont’s longest network of single-track routes, Kingdom Trails, in East Burke.

Don Whipple Studios

The Derby sports complex Indoor Recreation of Orleans County, known as IROC, shut its doors last spring. The complex went into foreclosure, and many locals were hoping it would reopen under new ownership, with a manageable debt load. But that didn't happen. Soon, the building will reopen as a Sticks & Stuff home and building supply store.

Phil White was executive director of the nonprofit IROC facility. In his last post on the IROC website, White pledged to keep some of the activities run through IROC going:

Photo by Herb Swanson

The Northeast Kingdom town of Newport has jumped on the localvore bandwagon with a downtown tasting center where you can sample and buy artisan cheeses, wines, and meats.

There’s also a bar and restaurant and space for seasonal vendors to come in from the cold.

Herb Swanson

On September 21, Governor Peter Shumlin and other state officials will accompany the owner of Jay Peak on a nine-day Asian trade mission in hopes of secure money for a series of projects in the Northeast Kingdom.

The effort is centered on the federal EB-5 program, which offers Green Card status to foreigners who invest a minimum of $500,000 in approved projects.

NEK Apparel Manfacturer Expands

Jul 8, 2013

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin says the expansion of a bicycle apparel company in Derby shows how the state is adding jobs in the Northeast Kingdom, traditionally the state's most economically challenged region.

Shumlin made the comments Monday at the groundbreaking in Derby for an $8 million expansion by the company Louis Garneau.

Currently the company employs about 90 people in Newport.

Once the expansion is complete in 2014 the company is expected to add another 10 employees to start and at least 10 more in the future.

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.

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