KANES REFLECT ON LIFE OF LOVE

By Ruthie Laroche
For the County Courier

George and Rolande Kane have lived in the brick house on VT Route 105 since May of 1954. Today, their family continues to operate the farm, and the legacy that they built in Franklin County continues to grow as four generations spread their roots.

“We bought the house from Ben Wilder’s widow Hazel, no money down, just a shake of the hand,” said George.

George had fond memories of visiting the Wilder farm in his youth, and the opportunity to own it was too good to pass up.

“I came down to the Wilder farm with my father Roscoe when I was eight years old. Ben Wilder had an office in what is now our bedroom,” explained George.

“Hazel Wilder said this house was built for children,” said Rolande, remembering a chat with Hazel.

The Kanes didn’t disappoint. They had six children when they moved into the home and went on to have nine children in all: Maureen, Margaret, Paula, Michael, James and Janet, Celeste, Brenda, and Marc.

The spring that George and Rolande moved their family from East Sheldon posed some challenges, one of which was moving the animals.

“I remember seeing George walking down the road with the herd led by a police escort,” said Rolande with a chuckle.

George drove his 40 cows along the East Sheldon Road, down the Kane Road, across the bridge in North Sheldon and down VT Rte. 105 toward Enosburgh, joining them with the Wilder’s 20. The family rolled up their sleeves and got to work immediately.

“You better believe I worked!” said George with a smile, “I cut logs and everything else to make those payments.”

George supplemented the farm income with sugaring and renovating old houses, and Rolande, who had been a teacher before she married George, eventually returned to teach in Enosburgh.

George first saw Rolande in 1944, shortly after she moved to town to teach; she was going to a movie in Enosburgh.

“We were both in the lobby waiting for the second show,” Rolande explained.

Rolande was born and raised in Swanton and went to St. Anne’s High School. During the war years, she attended Trinity College in Burlington where she spent time working in a mill during the summer folding bandages for soldiers.

The Kanes’ daughters laughed as they recounted a favorite story told by their mother. At Trinity, in Rolande’s day, the incoming students had to purchase a black, woolen graduation gown which they were required to wear to Chapel, daily.

Rolande recalled many mornings dashing out with her pajamas under her graduation gown because she was worried she would be late to Chapel.

That same gown was worn by most of George and Rolande’s children and even some of their grandchildren when they graduated from college.

After graduation Rolande taught in Enosburgh for three years; during that time her relationship with George blossomed.

Purchase your copy of the County Courier,
on newsstands now, for the rest of this article.

Barrette Ford

FIVE PURCHASE, TRADE GUNS FOR DRUGS

Five St. Albans residents have been arrested by the Federal Agents after there was an investigation linked to the purchasing firearms for other people, bypassing background check regulations.

According to recently released court records, Tyson Wells, Dara Bessette, Sierra Lacoste, Laci Baker, and Megan West were indicted in the scheme. Continue reading “FIVE PURCHASE, TRADE GUNS FOR DRUGS”

VSP: ST. ALBANS MAN ASSAULTS POLICE AFTER STEALING SUV

Gregory J. Lamoureux
County Courier

Vermont State Police say they apprehended a St. Albans man early Thursday morning after he stole a 2016 GMC Acadia that was parked at the Littleton (NH) Hospital.

OnStar tracked that vehicle to Kirby, Vermont, where State Police began looking for it, according to spokesperson Adam Silverman. The officers would later see the stolen vehicle on Burrington Bridge Road in Lyndonville.

Police were able to later identify the driver as 41-year old Everett Simpson of St. Albans. Continue reading “VSP: ST. ALBANS MAN ASSAULTS POLICE AFTER STEALING SUV”

FRANKLIN/BERKSHIRE WATER SYSTEMS BATTLE DROUGHT

Franklin’s tile spring sticks out of the ground in front of the Town’s water reservoir just off Jones Road.                                                                                                             Gregory J. Lamoureux, County Courier

By Gregory J. Lamoureux
County Courier

FRANKLIN: With an abnormally hot summer, the Town of Franklin is seeing a slowdown in the water coming into their reservoir, causing the town to issue a conserve water warning to its users.

Like many postings on the subject nationwide when water becomes a scarcity, the message is to reduce the amount of water being used. From not running the faucet when you’re brushing your teeth to refraining from washing your car at home, locals are asked to do their part in making sure the current water goes as far as it can.

Marshall Ploof, the water district commissioner, spoke on the topic to the County Courier on Wednesday morning, the day after the town issued the notice to about 90 users of the water system.

Read the entirety of this article in this week’s County Courier.

RECOUNTING A THUNDERBIRD DYNASTY

Todd Raleigh (left) talks to his son Cal (right) on the bench during a game. Photo courtesy of Todd Raleigh

By Ruthie Laroche
For the County Courier

This summer the Raleigh family, both in Vermont and in North Carolina, had much to celebrate as Todd Raleigh’s son Cal earned a third-round pick in the Major League Baseball draft.

Todd’s roots run deep in Franklin County, where he, his brothers, and his cousins, along with a whole gang of kids, grew up playing baseball on the fields of Franklin County.

“I don’t think anything like we all grew up with will happen again. The core of the teams that went on to win three state championships, well, 95 percent of us grew up within a mile radius of each other,” said Todd, “We played thousands of games together.”

The love of baseball in the Raleigh family and in the town of Swanton went farther back than the group of boys that Todd grew up with.

“My Dad was in a state championship at St. Anne’s in the fifties as a freshman. And a bunch of the others we grew up with had dads who had played. It was a unique situation we had.”

Todd recalls the baseball culture that was alive in Swanton at the time.

“We were a tight group long before we went to high school. We were lucky to have some good players, but we also played so much,” said Todd, “and nobody told us we weren’t supposed to win. It was embedded in us.”

Todd’s older brother John was also part of a strong group of baseball-loving guys.

“John played in three state titles in a row and they won two of three,” said Todd, “My brother Matt and I went to the MVU title game as 10 year-olds; we were bat boys on those teams. There were great players on those teams: Jamie Boudreau, the Corbieres, my brother. We idolized those guys growing up!”

A few years later Todd and Matt made history with their teammates.

“We had a lot of great players: Robby Eldridge, Pat Bose, Brian Nutting, Chris Coleman and Donny Broillette. How many Vermont high schools have four or five future Division I college players on their roster at a time?”

Aside from the sheer talent of the players on the teams during his high school years, there was something much deeper that knitted the experience together.

“Our love for the game and the amount we played set us apart. We didn’t know what we were doing as far as the specialness of it. We just showed up and played,” said Todd, “It was born on the sandlot.”

When school got out the boys met at the field and divvied up players. Yankee fans went to one side and Red Sox fans went to the other.

“Fortunately for the Red Sox, all the Raleighs were Red Sox fans,” said Todd with a chuckle,” that kind of tipped it in our favor.”

The field most often used for games was at the Swanton Central School. The boys would ride their bikes to the school and play some kind of baseball.

“We played there until we started breaking windows,” said Todd with a laugh, “Mary Babcock didn’t like that. We had to come up with money to replace the windows. Once we consistently started reaching the school we had to change to a tennis ball.”

The boys weren’t deterred by the need to change style, and all those years on the ball field paid some bit dividends.

“That’s what separated us; we had good athletes and we played a lot. It gave us a lot of experience,” said Todd, “The kids I later went to college with played 30 or 40 regular season games. I played only 12 to14. I was supposed to be so far behind, but I wasn’t. Coach Leggett, who was at Western Carolina, thought I was a very instinctive player, and I was. We all were.”

The years of ‘sandlot’ baseball prepared Todd and the gang for a very memorable high school career, and folks in Franklin County who spent time on the sideline during in the 80’s still talk about those times.

“In the close state championships games, we had what we needed from the organic ball that we played,” said Todd.

Before high school, Todd and his brother Matt played for Swanton Little League, Babe Ruth, and MVU. There were no travel teams, no baseball camps, and no special clinics to attend.

“Sandlot: that’s as close to my childhood as I can find; that was our experience in the Swanton Village. Bellrose, Paxman, Brouillette, Eldridge, Coleman, Spaulding, everybody on the team was in the village except for Kevin Boudreau. In the state tournament games in high school, every good pitcher was from the Village. As we got better we drew more kids in from Franklin and Highgate,” explained Raleigh. 

The team that won in 1986 had a mere ten players, and that group earned a win against Burlington. MVU competed and won state championships in ‘86, ‘87 (against BFA), ‘88 (Mount Anthony).  Success brought more guys out, and the wins kept rolling.

“It was what we had and what we did,” said Todd, “We had the right mix.”

Todd and Matt competed in Divsion I, and their older brother John’s teams competed in DII. John’s teams made title runs in ‘79, ‘80, and ‘81.

“I have full confidence that when MVU had the great teams with John they could have won at any level,” said Todd, “They were loaded.”

Todd recalled his MVU coaches Larry Trombley for baseball and Joe Malley for basketball, as well as Dan Marlow who was serving as athletic director during those years.

“Dan was a tremendous mentor to me and many others. He and the coaches helped to mold us into men, just as they did with many others,” said Todd.

Looking back over his youth, Todd highlighted some of the qualities that made his home state special to him.

“Vermont is unique in a lot of ways. You wouldn’t trade it for anything, the size of communities and schools, and the tightness in the community is there.”

Todd chuckled as he recalled his childhood years in Swanton when no one had cell phones, but every four-digit telephone number of a friend was burned in his memory.

“Those are the things that I remember, and they are some of the best memories,” said Todd, “I can remember those numbers from 40 years ago. It was how we got the game going.”

During Todd’s years’ success against rival BFA St. Albans was at its peak. 

“We never lost to BFA once in baseball. We had two Legion or Senior Babe Ruth teams in Swanton at one time, and there were two in St. Albans as well,” said Todd. 

Today Franklin County Fields one American Legion baseball team and one, maybe two Senior Babe Ruth teams depending on the year.

“I bet a lot of people wouldn’t believe there were two Senior Babe Ruth teams in Swanton unless they lived it. Bill Sheets and Richard Raleigh coached the two teams,” said Todd, “and we played a lot more in summer than in high school.”

Little League battles were a given in the Raleigh house when Matt and Todd were young.

At that time, Little League had a rule that stated that teams ‘Can’t pit brother against brother,’ but Swanton Little League wouldn’t let Todd and Matt play on the same team.

The two brothers went head to head time and time again, and Todd recalled one game in particular.

“Matt was 11 and I was 12; our brother John was the umpire. We both struck out 17 batters and we both hit a home run,” said Todd, “That game was probably pretty gut-wrenching for our parents. The game ended in a one to one tie. We settled that game that night in the backyard. We both claim to have won; we were very competitive.”

Looking back, Todd credits his mom as being the ‘glue’ that held it all together.

“Without her none of this would have ever happened.”

Speaking of his relationship with Matt, Todd chucked as he recounted their younger days.

“We were fierce. We’d drop the gloves and throw punches. Raleigh’s don’t like to lose.”

Todd also marveled at the guys he’s had the opportunity to play with, and some of the very best were his brothers.

“Matt and John were both once in a generation players. Matt was possibly one of the greatest players in Vermont history with his success in pro ball, high school, and college. He was an All American. He pitched three wins in three state championships and hit three to four home runs in those games too. He hit a home run over the press box in Centennial when he was 15,” Todd marveled, “Having a player like that, people will remember.”

“John struck out 18 and had a no-hitter in a state championship. I was a bat boy on that team that was coached by Jack Eldridge and I watched John pitch that game.

“John only lost one game in his high school career. He was 35 and 1 with one loss in a state championship game. I know they’re my brothers, but they were such special players. They could do it with a bat or on the mound,” said Todd.

Although they didn’t see the same success as the others, Todd’s brother David played for Lyndon State College and his younger brother Joe was also a good player. Their sisters were also talented with Rbin playing softball for Johnson State College and Jen pitching for MVU and in college.

Along with his brothers, Todd also had the company of his cousins Brian and Jeff Raleigh, both excellent ball players.

Between all the Raleigh children MVU enjoyed double digit state championships, including the famous ‘Three Peat’ for baseball during Todd and Matt’s years.

This year Cal Raleigh made his mark on the Raleigh family, earning a spot with the Everett Aquasox, a Major League Baseball affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. Cal is currently hitting over 300 with 8 home runs in his young pro ball career.

Todd has appreciated Cal’s love of the game and the way he plays it.

“Cal is right with us; he’s a throwback type player and I see a lot of my brothers in him. He could have been one of those guys playing with us when we were kids. He’s very humble and low key. He has a true love for the game, a passion. That’s been passed down,” said Todd with a chuckle, “I don’t know if it’s a genetic thing. He truly loves to play and that connects him to the rest of us.”

After enjoying a successful run in baseball himself, Todd now has the opportunity to watch his son take his next steps in the game.

“It’s very rewarding as a dad on different levels; Cal grew up on a baseball field and coming to practices at the college where I coached. Seeing the time he’s put in and his hard work, that’s rewarding. I feel blessed in a lot of ways. A lot of stuff that’s happened to Cal, I thought would happen. I thought he’d always do fine wherever he went,” said Todd,” I’ve been thankful that he’s been healthy and we have a good relationship. I’m happy for him and glad to see that all his hard work has paid off.”

Cal enjoyed tremendous success in college playing for the most decorated college coach of all time, Florida Seminole coach Mike Martin.

“Coach Martin has said Cal is one of his all-time favorite players, and that means as much to us as his success,” said Todd, “those are the things that make you feel good because you know that Cal is doing the right thing on and off the field.”

Todd has worked with many ballplayers over the years and the perspective that he has on the game is priceless.

“I’ve coached over 100 players in pro ball and more than 20 in the big leagues. I know you can’t take anything for granted. I’ve enjoyed watching Cal probably more than he does. I just loved going to the games.”

Todd had wise words for Cal as his high school and college years came to an end in 2018. As a pro-ball player himself, Todd knows what’s ahead.

“Your high school and college days are fun, but the pros are a business, and this is Cal’s first taste of that business. It’s still baseball and that’s fun, but I’ve already told him it’s not going to be the same.”

As Todd helps Cal navigate the business of baseball, he’s also remembering a very important piece.

“He’s still just a kid, even though he’s 6’3” and 21 years old. To me he’s Cal. If he makes it to the big leagues that will be the pinnacle. He’s got to perform and work his way up.”

Going pro is something kids all over the world dream of attaining but few have the chance to. Todd is thankful for Cal’s skill as a switch hitter, his size, and the ‘lucky’ breaks that have come his way. Health has also been a major factor.

“He’s been in the right programs and he’s stayed injury free. He’s started in more than 200 games in college and has the most consecutive innings as a college player,” said Todd, “and he’s Raleigh tough!”

Talk of Cal’s success brought memories of Todd’s days on the college ball field.  When asked what was the greatest memory of his baseball career Todd didn’t hesitate.

“College baseball was a blast; those were the best four years of my life. Matt and I played three years together in college. That was the greatest thing I ever did in all of baseball.”

Matt and Todd batted three and four in the batting order, and their relationship on the same team was special, to say the least.

“We had a lot of plays we could put on. I was a catcher and he was third base and we didn’t need any signs. To me that was as special as anything I’ve ever done,” said Todd.

Having the opportunity to play together in college continued the success that they had enjoyed in high school.

“We often didn’t have to speak; we just knew what the other was thinking.  It must have been pretty cool for my parents to see us on the field together,” said Todd, thoughtfully.

Those high school years in Vermont still stand out to Todd as a part of his life that had some hometown magic that he hasn’t found in other places.

“Those were good times! We were on a wave that first state championship year! The parties after the state tournament, there were hundreds of people there. Even the police were present at the party. Our parents and everyone else’s parents had grown up together and everyone knew each other,” Todd recounted, “That’s the good thing about small towns in places like Franklin County.  The small town feel you get in Vermont, you can’t get that any place else and you can’t put a price on it. There aren’t a lot of places like that–where everybody knows everybody. It remains special, and  I haven’t forgotten my roots–my parents, grandparents, and my grandfather’s farm.”

Todd chuckled as he talked of his grandparents.

“When I took my first job coaching, my grandfather who lived to be almost a hundred and had a tremendous work ethic and was ‘a tough bird’, asked my mom how I was going to feed my family. He was an old farmer to the core,” Todd said with a chuckle, “I hope that me and my family have carried that with us. People in Franklin County are tough. I have tried to instill that in my kids as well.”

HEATED DISCUSSIONS FILL RICHFORD WATER MEETING

By Gregory J. Lamoureux
County Courier

RICHFORD: About a hundred residents came out to listen to state experts and express their discontent with their view of the condition of Richford’s water.

Ben Montross, the compliance manager for Vermont’s drinking water program said what Richford is experiencing is not a new issue for the state, but it’s been more than a decade since Richford has seen an abnormally high test.

The issue comes from a test taken in May, indicating a high level of haloacetic acids within the drinking water, a substance the EPA has designated as a carcinogen if consumed at high levels for long periods of time.

The haloacetic acids within the water are a chemical byproduct of treating the drinking water with chlorine, a process used to kill any microorganisms that may be living in the water. Also in the water from time to time are micro-organic matter such as small bits of leaves and grass that mix with the chlorine, ultimately producing small amounts of haloacetic acids.

It takes a bit of time for the haloacetic acids to develop after chlorine and organic matter mix. This means that in Richford’s drinking supply, the water that is coming out of the tap at someone’s house far away from the water supply could actually have a higher level than the water leaving the treatment facility.

That’s why the tests are taken at taps throughout the town, at actual water consumer’s properties.

The May 2018 test, registered at 0.118 mg/L, putting the four-quarter average for Richford’s water above the government’s high limit of 0.060 mg/L. Officials warned that the high test will stay in their calculation for the next three quarters, so having a high average through May of 2019 should not be alarming.

Although the test is only conducted once every three months, it is merely a snapshot in time, showing the level in the water that day. This can be deceiving as the levels in the water can fluctuate significantly from day to day.

It is suspected that the test in May was conducted relatively close to a weather event that would have given a higher reading. According to Amy Galford, compliance analyst at the VT Department of Environmental Conservation, said warmer weather and high rainfall are typical causes for a high test.

Instead, it is likely that the levels of haloacetic acid within the water supply was on the rise for four or five days before the test and began to fall for four or five days after the test, according to Galford.

That being said, Galford was unable to point to a specific storm that could have caused the higher levels, so it is possible that the test was taken on a day that the levels were still rising, or already falling, indicating that there could have been a higher level in the water supply at some point.

According to state officials, of the 410 municipal water supplies within the state, about 35 of them are engineered like Richford’s, they collect surface water and treat it. The remainder uses other methods, like wells, which has lower organic content than surface water, preventing haloacetic acids from having the chance of forming.

Several residents shouted and interrupted the presenters, obviously angered over what they perceived as a lack of urgency and concern by officials about the high registering test.

“Why should we be paying for water that could make us sick,” shouted one resident.

“We’re not the water operators,” Montross said, noting that they could take that up with the town. The Panel, from the state of Vermont, on Thursday, was there merely to inform the public about the health issues and answer questions in regard to those health concerns.

“I’ll take it up with the town about my water bill, but I just want to know how to protect my husband, kids, and yes my new puppy,” said resident Barb Beauregard.

Montross recommended purchasing an activated charcoal water filter for those who are concerned about their exposure, sold under many brands, but the most common of which is Britta.

Those filters will remove the haloacetic acids within the water, as well as a few other contaminants that could harm the drinker.

Ray Soloman, a Drinking Water and Groundwater expert with the state said Richford’s water supply is one of the better supplies in the state, in fact, he helped to engineer the project when it was built several decades ago.

The hurdle of adding an activated charcoal filter to the entire system is cost. Those filters are expensive and would have to be replaced on a regular basis, according to Montross.

Cost is also the primary barrier for sampling more often. At about $150 per sample, it would be costly to test more than once every three months, especially because the town sampes from multiple locations throughout the water supply to get a better indicator.

“You have to remember, 99% of the water you use is not used for drinking,” Soloman said, “it’s used for bathing, washing your clothes, etc.”

One resident posed the question to the panel, “If you lived here, would you drink the water?”

Soloman said yes, as did four of the five-panel members said yes, but one person, Sarah Vose, a Toxicologist for the State of Vermont said she would not, instead she would drink bottled water, as she does on a regular basis now.

“But, that’s a question you have to decide for yourself,” Vose said.

According to Vose, the likelihood of contracting cancer from your water is around 1 in 100,000.

“You’re more apt to get cancer from environmental issues you can control,” Vose said, “like smoking, obesity, and lack of exercise.”

Ultimately, the water in the system is largely safe. That was the message from Montross. Unless you have a compromised immune system, elderly, pregnant, or a toddler, it is likely you will not sustain any health complications from drinking Richford’s water.

A test conducted on July 20th just came back, according to state officials, indicating that the levels of haloacetic acids were in the 0.030-0.038 mg/L range, well below the federal guidelines, but those tests were not conducted in the interval required for testing every three months, so they will not be calculated into the average.

Instead, officials will be testing the water in the coming weeks, averaging that new number with the last three quarters.

Montross stressed that residents should look more at the number for each test for the next three quarters, and not the average because the average will be skewed by May’s high test.

Officials were clear to point out that unlike contaminants found in well water in the southern part of the state two years ago, this water condition is unlikely to affect other water supplies throughout the Richford area.

COURT RECORDS: WAL-MART EMPLOYEE EMBEZZLED $266K IN FOUR MONTHS

Ronald Downes Jr appears in Criminal Court in St. Albans on Monday, June 18, 2018. Gregory J. Lamoureux, County Courier

By Gregory J. Lamoureux
County Courier

ST. ALBANS: Police arrested Ronald Downes, Jr., 42, of Berkshire last month in connection with thousands of dollars of missing money from Wal-mart in St. Albans.

According to newly filed court records, if police are correct, Downes could have stolen as much as $68,000 in one shot.

The scheme, according to police, had Downes “doing maintenance” on a cash machine at the store. That machine stores tens of thousands of dollars for clerks to check in and out when working as cashiers.

Video of the alleged embezzlement was also filed as evidence, showing Downes taking out cash from the machine, putting it in his gloves, and then into his pockets.

According to Wal-mart, Downes is suspected of stealing more than a quarter of a million dollars in the four months he was employed there.

The store turned over 21 different recordings from their surveillance video, allegedly showing the thefts, ranging in amounts from $8,706 to $68,248. In all, about $262,555 came up missing from the machine during the time  Downes was employed to do maintenance on it.

According to the Assistant Store Manager, Ryan Hennebury, Downes would remove the cassettes of cash, and place them behind the machine, out of view of the camera- an action that is against store policy. This is when Downes is suspected of removing the cash.

After the store began auditing the cash inside the machine twice a week noting shortages began in late 2017, Hennebury said they noticed a pattern with the missing money.

“We were able to prove that on the shifts that (Downes) was on the closing shift, the recycler would show a shortage,” wrote Hennebury in a sworn statement to the court. “You can see on many occasions (Downes) pretending to vacuum, but the vacuum would not move.”

Hennebury also wrote in his sworn statement that during these periods, Downes was the only employee to “service” the machines between the audits.

In January, the store moved one of the cameras to capture what was going on. In one video, Downes can be seen removing $100 bills, hiding them in his pockets, according to Hennebury’s statement.

When a Wal-Mart Asset Protection Manager confronted Downes, he allegedly admitted to “taking $4,000-$5,000” over the course of a few months from the machine.

The store plans to pursue prosecution in the case, according to Hennebury’s statement. It is not clear if that includes civil prosecution.

A written statement was also included in the case which included the following, “I opened the cash recycler and took money out of one of the cassettes. The money I took was used to pay bills I had. This happened over a couple of months. I estimate the cash to be around $4,000-$5,000 (over) the course of the time. I am deeply sorry and regret every decision I made when I did this.”

That statement was allegedly witnessed by two other Wal-Mart managers and signed by Downes.

When police contacted Downes, he declined to talk to them, instead, invoking his fifth amendment rights to remain silent.

According to his criminal record, Downes only has one prior arrest. That was in 2015 for disorderly conduct, in which he paid a $50 fine.

Downes hired a private attorney for the case and pleaded not guilty to Embezzlement on Monday. He was released on conditions. If convicted, the felony charge could carry a prison term up to 10 years and a fine up to $10,000.

GEORGIA MURDER TRIAL DELAYED, DEFENDANT LOSES TRUST IN DEFENSE TEAM

Ethan Gratton enters Franklin County Superior Court in St. Albans in January 2017 for his arraignment on murder and attempted murder charges. File photo / Gregory J. Lamoureux, County Courier

By Gregory J. Lamoureux
County Courier

ST. ALBANS: In a last-minute filing to the court, Ethan Gratton asked the judge to postpone his upcoming murder trial and grant him a new public defender.

“I do not believe my lead attorney, Steve Dunham or my co-counsel Rosie Chase are prepared for my trial.” Gratton wrote to the Judge. “Steve Dunham is not competent to win over any jury.”

Gratton’s concerns are based on his observations of Dunham, according to what he wrote to the Judge, “I have grave concerns about his state of mind and his inability to communicate with other people, much less a jury.”

Steve Dunham, left, confers with co-counsel Rosie Chase, during a sidebar with State’s Attorney Jim Hughes and Judge Gregory Rainville at a bail review hearing for Gratton in 2017.   File photo  Gregory J. Lamoureux, County Courier

He cited the last pre-trial conference, where, according to Gratton, the Judge could not understand much of Dunham’s mumblings.

SEE RELATED:
• ETHAN GRATTON’S ARRAIGNMENT
• GEORGIA SHOOTER ASKING FOR RELEASE
• GEORGIA SHOOTING TESTIMONY: Pamela Gratton
• TROOPER RECALLS SHOOTING SCENE
• JUDGE: NOT ENOUGH EVIDENCE TO HOLD GEORGIA MURDER SUSPECT

“(A review of the case) will make it evident that Mr. Dunham struggles to string together coherent sentences for the court, or anyone else, to understand.” wrote Gratton.

The case revolves around a shooting which left 57-year-old David Hill dead and seriously injured 27-year old Mark Brito, both of Fairfax.

Gratton was charged with second-degree murder for Hill’s death and attempted second-degree murder for the shooting of Brito.

Gratton recognized in his two-page letter to the judge that Dunham has been practicing law for 28 years, but throughout the 18 months that Gratton has worked with Dunham, he has lost all “faith” in his defense team.

Gratton requested his case be assigned to a “Serious Felony Unit” attorney, which is not abnormal, according to Gratton’s letter.

“I would rather request a new attorney now, than wait to be convicted of murder, and attempted murder, due to ineffective counsel,” Gratton wrote, noting that then he would have to file for post-conviction relief.

Gratton ended his letter to the Judge, “Thank you, Your Honor, in advance for your compassion, understanding, and immediate attention to my dire situation.”

The trial, which was scheduled to begin with a jury draw Tuesday, June 12th, has now been put on hold until the Judge makes a decision on Gratton’s request. If convicted, the 28-year-old man faces 40 years to life in prison.

GEORGIA MURDER TRIAL SET FOR NEXT WEEK

Ethan Gratton enters Franklin County Superior Court in St. Albans in January 2017 for his arraignment on murder and attempted murder charges. Gregory J. Lamoureux, photo

By Gregory J. Lamoureux
County Courier

Ethan Gratton, the suspect in a murder and attempted murder in Georgia just after New Year’s Day 2017 is set to face a jury next week on the two felony charges.

If all goes well, the jury of twelve will be selected on Tuesday with opening arguments slated for later that day or first thing Wednesday morning. Continue reading “GEORGIA MURDER TRIAL SET FOR NEXT WEEK”

Hornet Pitching Silences Minutemen

Enosburg Catcher Noah Swainbank lines up for a play at the plate, getting a Mill River player out during their 9-1 win on Wednesday afternoon. The Hornets  advance to the quarterfinal round, hosting Fair Haven on Saturday at 4:30pm.   Gregory J. Lamoureux photo

By Ruthie Laroche
For the County Courier

The Minutemen found hits hard to come by on Wednesday as Brayden Howrigan and Nik Sabrowski combined to allow only one run on the evening against visiting Mill River.

Sabrowski started the game for the hometown Hornets going four innings, striking out six, allowing four hits, and walking one.

Howrigan took the mound in the fifth, getting six of his nine outs on strikeouts and walking two.

“My pitch count was higher than I’d like to see but other than that it was a good game. We came out and battled and kept competing,” said Sabrowski.

Defensively, the Hornets played a flawless game, which was excellent for Sabrowski and Howrigan.

“Defense is key to a pitcher. If you don’t have that, you have the feeling that you have to go after guys and take them yourself. If something happens, it just drains your confidence. Defense is essential to a pitcher. It allows you to go out and find your groove. You can pitch to contact, and when you pitch to contact, you end up striking out more people because you have more confidence and throw more strikes,” said Sabrowski

The Enosburg offense combined to score eight runs over seven innings, thanks to numerous hits from various Hornet batters.

Parker Snow, Sabrowski, Johnathan Paquette, David Antillon, Howrigan, Karson Fortin, and Colby Geddes all had hits on the evening.

“They came out and played like they have all season long. Defensively, we played a great game. We didn’t have any errors, and we had a couple of balls that we probably shouldn’t have gotten to, but we got to them,” said Enosburg head coach Rodney Burns, “Offensively we didn’t hit as well as we have all season, but we didn’t strike out any more than three times. We were putting the ball in play and trying to make things happen.”

Second baseman, Karson Fortin, who is playing his first full year on varsity, shared his thoughts on the upcoming game with fifth seed Northhaven.

“It was a good team win for us; we really needed that. We need to go out swinging more in our next game–be more aggressive at the plate,” said Karson Fortin.

Burns and the team had the pleasure of welcoming back Alec Burns, Rodney’s son, who recently completed his freshman year of college. Alec attended Colby Sawyer College and played on the college baseball team.

“After coming back from a college season, I’ve come back with a lot of tips about hitting and fielding mechanics, and base running,” said Alec.

Alec coached first base for the playdown game on Wednesday afternoon, and his former teammates were glad to have him back.

“I like Alec as my base coach; he’s doing really well with us,” said Fortin.

Alec rejoined his father as an assistant coach, a new chapter in their ongoing baseball relationship.

“I love coming back and coaching with my Dad. I’ve been playing for him all the way up through, so this is a different experience. It’s cool getting to play with him and getting to watch these guys. We won the championship together last year, and it’s great to see how they have stepped up. It’s going to be fun watching them all the way through,” said Alec.

Last year’s Enosburg baseball team won the Division III State Tournament at Centennial Field, and Alec is glad to see this year’s team doing so well.

“This team is very solid defensively, they hit the ball one through nine, and the pitching has been fantastic for us so far,” said Alec.

Burns appreciates the opportunity to have his son on the field.

“It’s great to have Alec back! He’s doing a great job for us at first base. He’s smart and reads the pitchers well. It’s great having him around, and he’s an asset to the team,” said Burns.

Having coached in Enosburg for years, Coach Burns has had the opportunity to see many players graduate from his program.

“I love having my players come back. They’re always willing to help out in any way they can. To see them as often as I do, on the field in a practice or a game, is a great feeling,” said Burns, “There’s nothing I want more than to have my players come back, to be around, and to visit and be part of the group. I love that.”