SOS: SCHOOL MEETING MAY HAVE VIOLATED LAW

Enosburgh’s Suzi Hull Casavant speaks about her belief that the meeting held Thursday evening at the Enosburg High School was called illegally.

By Gregory J. Lamoureux
County Courier

ENOSBURG FALLS: Many of the voters of Enosburgh and Richford who attended last Thursday evening’s meeting to determine details of a forced school merger were confused on the legality of the meeting. So much so, that Superintendent Lynn Cota spoke to the fact before much business could be conducted.

“We were told by the Agency of Education that Suzi’s motion was not valid,” Cota explained to voters, “Because she did not specify a date specific” in a motion at the February meeting, in Richford, intended to conduct the same business.

Suzi Hull Casavant’s original motion was to delay the action of the voters until a court had decided on the legality of Act 46.

That initial motion was denied by moderator Patrick Hayes, but later overruled by voters with a 2/3 majority.

Now, Will Senning, the Secretary of State’s legal mind tasked with municipal elections states the interpretation behind the State Board of Education’s ruling on the initial motion was incorrect.

Secretary of Education Dan French speaks to the voters of Enosburgh and Richford Thursday evening, assuring them that his belief is that the meeting being held is legal.

Senning explained to the County Courier on Friday, in a phone interview, the intricacies of the ruling, and according to Isabelle, because Suzi Hull-Casavant’s motion did not have a date to reconvene, the next meeting would have to be warned again.

Senning was clear though, that is does not invalidate the original motion to await a ruling from a judge before reconvening.

The ruling implies the Secretary of Education, Dan French did not have legal authority to warn or call the meeting before the judge’s ruling, which came out Friday, almost 24 hours after the meeting at the Enosburg High School was conducted.

Judge Mello threw out three of the six charges, finding the law constitutional, but also saying he did so expecting it to be lifted to Vermont’s Supreme Court for a ruling there.

As for Thursday’s meeting, legal or not, it will stand until and unless a citizen files in Civil Court, stating that their rights as a voter were violated, according to Senning.

“The Secretary of State’s office does not have any power to enforce (election laws),” Senning said, “That is left up to citizens to file a complaint on their own.”

As of Wednesday’s press date, no complaint had been filed, however, if one is filed, it is likely the meeting will have to be conducted all over again.

RICHFORD TEACHER FACES LEWDNESS CHARGE

Michael Horowitz appears in Franklin County Superior Courier, Criminal Division with his attorney Bud Allen, last month as he pleads not guilty to one count of prohibited acts.
Gregory J. Lamoureux, County Courier

Michael Horowitz, the former shop teacher at Richford High School is facing criminal charges and has been put on administrative leave following an investigation recently into inappropriate conduct with both students and teachers at the school.

According to court documents, Horowitz was initially accused by a student at the school who said he “grabbed” her butt during class.

Continue reading “RICHFORD TEACHER FACES LEWDNESS CHARGE”

GRATTON’S DEFENSE PRESENTS AN EXPLOSIVE SIDE OF SHOOTING VICTIM

Ethan Gratton confers with his defense team Tuesday morning in Franklin County Superior Court in St. Albans. Gregory J. Lamoureux, County Courier

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article contains language that may not be suitable for all readers, discretion is advised.

ST. ALBANS: The defense team for Ethan Gratton, 28, of Georgia began presenting their case to the jury this morning with five witnesses, four of which characterized one victim in the shooting as a volatile person with a temper.

Continue reading “GRATTON’S DEFENSE PRESENTS AN EXPLOSIVE SIDE OF SHOOTING VICTIM”

STATE RESTS IN MURDER CASE, DEFENSE ASKS FOR DISMISSAL

Defense Attorney Kelly Green shows the jury a crime scene photo Monday morning during cross examination. Gregory J. Lamoureux, County Courier

By Gregory J. Lamoureux
County Courier

ST. ALBANS: Prosecutor Jim Hughes ended his case against Georgia resident Ethan Gratton with gruesome scene photos, including one that depicted the mangled face of Mark Brito.

That photo, according to former Vermont State Trooper Matthew Johnson, was taken as rescue crews loaded Brito into an ambulance on January 2nd, 2017.

Continue reading “STATE RESTS IN MURDER CASE, DEFENSE ASKS FOR DISMISSAL”

GRATTON TRIAL: JUDGE LIMITS VICTIM’S TESTIMONY

By Gregory J. Lamoureux
County Courier

ST. ALBANS: A jury trial began this morning for a Georgia man who gunned down two men just after the New Year in 2017.

The incident happened on Georgia Mountain Road, resulting in the death of David Hill and seriously wounding Mark Brito. The pair were loading a logging skidder onto a lowboy trailer on the road near the driveway of the family home of Ethan Gratton, who shot Hill and Brito with a handgun.

Continue reading “GRATTON TRIAL: JUDGE LIMITS VICTIM’S TESTIMONY”

Judy Maude (Johnson) Werner


ARLINGTON, VT: Judy Maude (Johnson) Werner, 67, of Pickering Road in Arlington, died peacefully at the Albany Medical Center on February 1, 2019, surrounded by members of her loving family. 

Judy was born in St. Albans on March 11, 1951, to Dr. Walter Johnson and Joreen (Waine) Johnson. She graduated from Bellows Free Academy in St. Albans, and received her Bachelor’s Degree in French and Spanish from Castleton State College. Judy moved to Arlington in the fall of 1973 to teach foreign language at Arlington Memorial High School. It was there that she met her husband, the late John A. Werner, whom she married in February of 1974. 

Throughout her career she shared her love of languages with middle and high school students, teaching Spanish, French, Latin, and English in Arlington and at other regional schools. Judy was a patient and creative teacher and mentor, and she inspired many of her students to travel the world, explore other cultures, and pursue careers in education. 

Judy brought a joyful, welcoming, and caring spirit to all that she did. She loved life, always taking time to go for a walk with friends, ice skate in the park, stand-up paddle board around the lake, go rock climbing with her grandchildren, and share her beautiful gardens with guests on the hill. She also loved to give, brightening the lives of others with her knitting and sewing, and volunteering her time in the Arlington community.

Judy leaves her son John Kenneth (JK) Werner, his wife Navya, and their children Nishil and Keya of Orinda, CA, and daughter Jordan Barry and her husband Kevin of Brooklyn, NY, as well as her brothers Wally Johnson of Canton, NY, John Johnson and his wife Paula of St. Albans, and Chris Johnson and his wife Dee of Ellenton, Florida; and her sister Jennifer Hubbard and her husband Jim of Swanton. 

Gregory Clark

MONCKS CORNER, SC: Gregory Paul Clark, 64, passed away on January 13, 2019 with his loving family by his side. Gregory was born on February 1, 1954 in Saint Albans, Vermont to the late Paul Richard Clark and Shirley Alice Clark, née Messier. He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Candice Lynn Clark, née Harvey.

Greg grew up in Enosburg, Vermont and graduated from Enosburg Falls High School in 1972 where he played soccer and was the lead actor in his senior class play, “Bye, Bye, Birdie.” After school, Greg worked at Wetherbee’s Hardware, at the Thirsty Boot in Montgomery Center as a bartender, and as a ski patroller at Jay Peak Resort. Greg married Candice on July 26, 1980 in Richford, Vermont and began a long career with the Enosburg Falls Water and Light Department where he first worked as an apprentice, then a lineman foreman, and eventually retiring as superintendent.

For several years, Greg also worked with his father, Paul, and his uncle Luther in their carpentry business. A skilled carpenter and electrician, Greg designed and built his family’s home, horse barn, and surrounding property where he spent much of his time. He had a love for horses and found joy taking care of and riding the family’s Morgan horse, “Chance.” Above all, Greg had a deep passion for music and was a naturally gifted singer who had a wonderful voice. He performed with various country music bands throughout Vermont where he played rhythm guitar and was lead singer.  In his youth, Greg enjoyed writing poetry, skiing, classic cars, hunting, playing guitar and various sports including golf, tennis, and billiards. Later in life, he was most happy at the beach and spending time with his grandchildren, whom he loved dearly.

He is survived by his three children and their spouses: Bradley Clark and his wife Yujin of Centreville, Virginia; Dereck Clark and his wife Danielle of McLean, Virginia; and Allison Walker and her husband David Jr. of Moncks Corner, South Carolina. He is survived by four grandchildren: Aidan Clark, Oliver Walker, Avery Clark, and Madelyn Walker. Greg is also survived by two brothers and their spouses: Rick Clark and his wife Doreen; and Joey Clark and his wife Penny of Enosburg, Vermont. He was preceded in death by his parents, Paul and Shirley Clark, his paternal Uncles Douglas and Luther Clark, and his maternal Aunt Dolores “Freda” Barry.

A celebration of Greg’s life will be held in Richford, Vermont at the convenience of his family.  To receive notification of the forthcoming celebration, those interested should send an email to remembergreg@tutanota.com.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Gregory Clark Memorial Fund by going to the following link: http://giftfunds.stjude.org/gregoryclark.

NEW TRIAL LIKELY FOR McALLISTER, CHITTENDEN COUNTY VENUE EYED

Former Senator Norm McAllister listens to his attorney during a hearing Friday in Franklin County Superior Court. Gregory J. Lamoureux, County Courier

Former State Senator Norm McAllister was granted a new trial last year by the Vermont Supreme Court after they ruled his conviction on a prostitution charge was not handled properly. Now, a judge in the case is granting a new trial and suggesting it be moved to Chittenden County.


Judge Michael Kupersmith recommended in a Franklin County courtroom on Friday that the trial is moved to a new venue since there has been extensive news coverage on the case in the past within Franklin County.

Kupersmith, who was recently assigned to the case, was getting up to speed with the attorneys, “There’s obviously been a lot of publicity on this case,” he said, “Has there been any thought about trying it here as opposed to trying it somewhere else?”

“I think it would be better in Chittenden County,” replied Assistant State’s Attorney John Lavoie.

Assistant State’s Attorney John Lavoie confers with co-counsel Diane Wheeler on Friday in Franklin County Superior Court. Gregory J. Lamoureux, County Courier

“My feeling is this, I think if you bring in enough jurors, you’ll find 12 or 14 jurors who will say that despite what they have said or heard that they can be fair and impartial, but you might have to go through several hundred people to do that,” Kupersmith explained.

Lavoie chimed in to surgest that a change in venue to Chittenden County could not be a hardship on anyone involved in the case.

“I was thinking that we would move it to Chittenden, it would be the logical place,” said Kupersmith, “It’s within reasonable proximity, the Free Press doesn’t print anything anymore, and there are enough people there that will say ‘Yeah, I know something about the case, but I couldn’t tell you what it is.'”

McAllister’s Defense Attorney, Bob Katims said he would like a week to file a 48B motion, which would ask the judge to throw out the case in the interest of Justice.

The idea behind that motions is that McAllister has already been through enough, with two trials and hundreds of thousands of dollars in defense bills, for the interest of justice, let the case rest.

The Judge did not rule one way or another on that but did suggest that he would deny the moti0n by asking the attorneys how long they would need to prepare for trial.

“I assume both sides are ready for trial,” Katims told the Judge, “It’s just a matter of getting it in within the rest of our schedules.”

Katims asked that a trial not be scheduled before April, as his schedule is busy with other cases until then.

The duration of the trial, though slightly controversial, is expected to be relatively short.

McAllister’s previous trial was scheduled for two weeks, this trial, according to the prosecution should be scheduled for only two days.

“Two days, what are you going to do for two days?” Katims asked Lavoie, “Measure his fist again?”

The comment referred to a part of McAllister’s last trial when Lavoie was cross-examining McAllister and tried to measure the circumference of McAllister’s fist, illustrating to the jury a sexual act that McAllister was accused of.

Judge Michael Kupersmith speaks with attorneys in the case of Norm McAllister in Franklin County Superior Court on Friday. Gregory J. Lamoureux, County Courier

The move to Chittenden must also be approved by Judge Gerson in Montpelier, who serves as the Chief Superior Court Judge for the State of Vermont, as well as officials in Chittenden County.

Kupersmith also approved a request by the defense for the State to give them an updated list of potential witnesses. Although the prosecution is already required to do so, the defense argued that the witness list is quite a bit longer than it needed to be, and was merged with the witnesses from other counts other than the one in which McAllister is being retried.

The prosecution agreed to provide such a list that would be narrowed down and pertain to just the one count McAllister would be tried on.

The case of McAllister dates back to 2015 when three women accused McAllister of sexually inappropriate relationships with them.

He was charged with two felony counts of sexual assault, and four misdomenor sex related charges.

Two of those charges were dropped when it became evident that the complaining witness in the case had said an untruthful statement on the stand.

Another cahrge was dropped when the complaining witness in the case died of natural causes.

The remaining three charges went to trial in 2017, leading to an acquittal on two of the most serious charges, and a guilty verdict on a charge of prostitution.

That conviction was what the Vermont Supreme Court overturned, and what the new trial will be all about.

McAllister was a five-term House Representative and a two-term State Senator when he was arrested at the State House in Montpelier in May of 2015.

Since his arrest, McAllister has maintained his innocence, except for a brief few hours when he accepted a guilty plea, which would have put him behind bars for up to seven years.

The following day, McAllister fired his legal team and requested to have his guilty plea reversed.

McAllister has served 6 months on probation for his conviction on the prostitution charge but has yet to serve the 30 days of work crew that he was also sentenced to.