Upper Valley

Charlotte Albright / VPR

Like many small towns in Vermont, Norwich is trying to manage future development to meets the needs of all residents, not just the well-heeled. So town planners are inviting feedback about possible zoning changes in this Upper Valley community.

Town of Norwich

This week the Norwich Planning Commission is hosting two public forums on future development south of the village. The commission is hoping residents will turn out to one of two sessions Tuesday, May 5 to discuss the potential for sustainable development along Route 5 South and  River Road.

Skip Brown

Voters in Fairlee, West Fairlee and Thetford will decide next month whether to finance a new dam over Lake Fairlee. The old one is in bad shape and the owner, a Maine resident, can’t afford to replace it. The re-design process has hit a few snags but community leaders in charge of the project are confident it will go forward.

Engineers warn that if the dam fails, water levels would drop so much so much that lakefront property would border on mud flats.

Skip Brown

A month before three towns are set to vote on an $850,000 project to replace the Lake Fairlee Dam, its private owner is voicing objections that could call the deal into jeopardy.

In phone interviews this week, Bryan Gregory, 62, a Maine resident who plans to retire to a Thetford camp house perched on top of the dam that has been in his family for generations, called one of his concerns a deal-breaker.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

Believe it or not, bathing suit weather is coming. But for the fourth summer, residents in Norwich will not be cooling off in their popular natural swimming hole. After Tropical Storm Irene washed out the dam over Charles Brown Brook, Norwich began tangling with the state over a plan to re-make the pool.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

This week, children in the Upper Valley have been exploring the banks of the Connecticut River. It’s part of a multi-media collaboration between Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center and other non-profit groups celebrating a much more distant river: the Nile. One of the educational events  is a trek along the banks of the Connecticut River in an unlikely place, behind a shopping mall in West Lebanon.

The Dartmouth fraternity that inspired the movie Animal House will no longer be recognized by the College following allegations that members branded their skin.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

Voters in Norwich will get a chance to reverse a decision they made on Town Meeting Day. In March, they refused to borrow around $3 million to replace police and fire stations in disrepair.

But the debate lives on.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

A four-alarm fire in Fairlee has totally destroyed a  sawmill for a company that employs 50 people. At least 20 of those workers face an uncertain future.

The fire swept through Britton Lumber in Fairlee on Saturday night. Investigators are trying to determine the cause as owner Bob Moses surveys the rubble. He says the sawmill workers will be paid through this week.

“Yeah, they’re going to help if they can and if we don’t have work they can go home, because it’s very emotional for the sawmill employees, too,” Moses said.

Agency of Transportation

Work is beginning on the replacement of two Interstate 91 bridges over Route 5, near White River Junction.  But transportation officials say new technology and building methods will limit disruption to motorists.

Herb Swanson / swanpix.com

As news breaks about the possible destruction of cultural artifacts by the Islamic State — also known as ISIS — a Dartmouth College scholar is outraged. The college owns six monumental stone relief panels from Nimrud, Iraq, south of Mosul, where vandals claim to have been bulldozing sacred sites. While the videos released by the militant group cannot be verified, it’s clear that rare antiquities are ISIS targets.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

The U.S. Army’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, or CRREL, sits on soil in Hanover, N.H. that's been contaminated by a toxic chemical no longer in use. Trichloroethylene, or TCE, was used for years as a coolant at the facility and has leaked into the soil. If it migrates into water and air it can cause serious health problems. So the Army Corps of Engineers has come up with a way to treat it – and, they hope, eventually to remove it.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

Hartford was one of the few towns in Vermont that turned thumbs down on both its school and municipal budgets Tuesday night. But voters will get another chance to weigh in at the end of the month.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

In the upscale town of Norwich, the police department occupies a dilapidated 1950's ranch house. On a recent winter morning, a building and grounds staffer for the town is removing snow and ice from the roof, which is already leaking.

Kenn Sassorossi / Housing Vermont

An Upper Valley lawmaker is proposing a way to reduce costly delays in the permitting process for affordable housing.

Woodstock Rep. Alison Clarkson says almost half of all renter households in Vermont pay more than 30 percent of their monthly income for housing. The rental vacancy rate in the state is only about 1 percent. And a Department of Housing study shows that the state needs 29,000 apartments to meet the needs of renters on a tight budget. So Clarkson wants to put affordable housing on a faster track for permitting, under the Act 250 development review law.

Jim Cole / AP/file

Dartmouth College President Philip Hanlon announced Thursday several unprecedented steps that he hopes will create a safer environment on campus. His speech follows concerns about about the rising incidence of sexual assaults and high risk drinking.

Herb Swanson / swanpix.com

When it comes to winter sports in high school, New Hampshire athletes stand ​alone – in some high places.

Tom Gannam / AP/file

In November of this year, there were seven reported deaths from heroin overdoses in the Upper Valley. All of them had used heroin laced with a drug called Fentanyl, an opioid sometimes mixed with heroin to make the latter more potent. Dr. Ben Nordstrom, director of addiction services at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, has had extensive experience with the drug.

Herb Swanson / swanpix.com

Starting December 1, if you stroll around quaint, historic Norwich, you’re likely to see lots of people dressed up as snowmen. A few others will resemble characters on Sesame Street. Those costumes are big moneymakers for charity, and so is almost every retail sale in town this month.

The town’s fundraiser, called “The Nineteen Days of Norwich” is the brainchild of Dan Fraser.

His family owns Dan and Whit’s, an eclectic and endearing general store and gathering spot.