Vermont Precision Tools (VPT), headquartered in Swanton, is on the cutting edge of a new method of finding quality machine operators. A manufacturer of high-quality precision medical bur blanks for the OEM medical industry, VTP and Vermont HITEC, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to high-quality workforce development announced recently that they will hold a fifth education and apprenticeship program that will bring Machine Operator jobs to Vermont over the next several months. A Machine Operator is responsible for the operation of various cylindrical grinding machines as well as the operation of computer numeric controlled (CNC) equipment.

Those Machine Operators are responsible for the operation of various cylindrical grinding machines as well as the operation of computer numeric controlled (CNC) equipment.

The program is a partnership between Vermont Precision Tools, the Vermont Department of Labor, and Vermont HITEC. The program provides free education and one year of on-site mentoring through an apprenticeship at the VPT Swanton, Vermont location. The program is designed for unemployed and underemployed Vermont residents. Successful completion of the program will lead directly to full-time employment as a Machine Operator at the fast-growing Vermont Precision Tools.

“Vermont HITEC is thrilled to be partnering with Vermont Precision Tools to provide employment and training opportunities to individuals in northwestern Vermont,” said Steven Lutton, Executive Director of Vermont HITEC. “Our goal is to develop programs for employers that attract and train motivated individuals with the skills necessary to enter employment ready, able, and motivated to work at exceptional Vermont employers such as Vermont Precision Tools.”

Through an extensive recruitment process, up to eight individuals will be selected for the eight-week education program. Upon graduation from the education program, participants will fill Machine Operator apprentice positions. All positions will receive full wages and benefits. Individuals selected will also participate in a one-year apprenticeship program administered by the Vermont Department of Labor and will earn a Certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship Division upon successful completion.

“By partnering with Vermont HITEC, VPT has graduated dozens of apprentices and rapidly increased the capabilities and skills of the men and women working on our manufacturing floor,” said Monica Greene, President, and CEO of Vermont Precision Tools. This high-quality training and apprenticeship program will prepare those seeking advanced manufacturing careers and sustain our growth for many years to come.”

The pay scale for graduates of the VPT Machine Operator ITAR Program will start at $14.00 per hour. Apprentices will have the potential to earn $15.00 or more per hour after six months and $16.00 or more per hour upon the completion of a one-year apprenticeship and are based on performance. Further wage growth potential exists based on performance and overall growth within the organization. Overtime may be available, and the positions will also include a comprehensive benefits package as eligible.

“This apprenticeship program is a great opportunity for unemployed and underemployed Vermonters to gain a marketable skill set and a higher wage job,” said Vermont Department of Labor Commissioner Lindsay Kurrle. “The training, at no cost to participants who need jobs, will open up great career opportunities in the advanced manufacturing field and a better future. This program connects Vermont employers with motivated individuals who are ready to work.”

Vermont HITEC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to educate, train and employ Vermonters in a variety of fields. Vermont HITEC has employed over 1,400 Vermonters over the past seventeen years in the fields of healthcare, information technology, advanced manufacturing and business services partnering with over 30 Vermont businesses including University of Vermont Medical Center (formerly Fletcher Allen Health Care), Husky Injection Molding Systems, IDX Systems (now GE Healthcare),, Precyse Solutions, Triad Design Service and Vermont Information Processing.

The deadline for applications is September 24th, 2017. To apply, visit the Vermont HITEC website at and complete the online application. For more information or assistance, contact: Katy Bacon, ITAR Project Leader & Mentor via email:, or at 802-872-0660.


NEW HAVEN: Vermont State Police say that a group of motorcycles was fleeing from a Vermont State Trooper on Route 7 moments before a fatal crash that left a Bakersfield man hospitalized on Saturday afternoon.

State Police say that the crash killed Christopher Dusablon, 29, of Essex and injured Joshua Morris, 25, of Bakersfield.  Continue reading “MOTORCYCLISTS WERE LIKELY FLEEING FROM POLICE WHEN FATAL CRASH HAPPENED”


NEW HAVEN, VT: Vermont State Police Troopers say that a Bakersfield man is fortunate to be alive after a motorcycle crash.

Joshua Morris, 25, of Bakersfield and Christopher Dusablon, 29, of Essex were traveling North north together, but on separate motorcycles, on Route 7 in New Haven when they collided, according to Trooper Stephen McNamara. Continue reading “BAKERSFIELD MAN SURVIVES FATAL MOTORCYCLE CRASH”


Green spray paint, engine oil, and antifreeze mark the point a van and Casella truck collided on Route 36 in St. Albans on Friday, killing one man and sending two others to the hospital.

ST. ALBANS: St. Albans Police say that Patrick Wedge of St. Albans was killed in a crash involving a work van and a Casella garbage truck this morning on Route 36 in St. Albans.

According to St. Albans Police Chief Gary Taylor, Wedge was pinned between the van and garbage truck. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The accident happened on a steep section of the VT Route 36 hill in St. Albans around 6:30 this morning.

The driver of the van, Ben Smyth, of East Fairfield, was trapped in the vehicle and needed extrication by the Fire Department to free him.

Taylor said that a second Casella worker, Brian Record of Colchester, was able to jump out of the way of the accident. Unfortunately, Wedge never heard or saw the van coming, according to Taylor.

Smyth remains in serious condition at Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans, according to Taylor.

Alcohol and cell phone use do not appear to be factors in the crash, sources said, though the van did not appear to try to stop before impact.

Community Cares Grant Boosts Animal Science Program at MVU

By Ruthie Laroche, for the County Courier

Jim Messier, who teaches the Animal Science program at Missisquoi Valley Union High School, recently visited the Cargill plant in Swanton with a thank you plaque in hand. Cargill made a generous donation to the program in the amount of approximately $3,000.

This grant, called the Community Cares Grant, will help supplement the Animal Science Program at MVU for the 2017-2018 school year. Cargill has been a proud supporter of the Missisquoi Valley program for years, and they look forward to supporting the Technical Center classes in the future.

“We’re happy to help the Animal Science Program. Giving back to our community and giving our students a chance to get some hands on learning and knowledge will hopefully better prepare them for the future. Franklin County is especially agriculturally oriented, so it makes a lot of sense for us to be partners with MVU,” said Drew Roundtree, of Cargill.

Cargill has a 70-20-10 principle which breaks the learning process down into three stages and vocational programs such as the ones offered at MVU are excellent places for students to put all three of the steps into motion.

“Ten Percent of your learning is going to come from reading books and reading manuals, twenty percent will come from watching other people do the job, and seventy percent will come from actual on the job experience. If we can help contribute to that seventy percent it makes us feel pretty good about our community,” Roundtree said.

Jim Messier and the technical programs he helped found when the high school opened in 1970 have seen many students excel in the classroom.

The Future Farmers of America program at MVU has won more state championships in their fields than all of the athletic programs at the school combined.

“The FFA is one of the things that students remember even more than their classroom instruction because it does build leadership and character and helps them make business decisions, get along with other people, and develop a code of conduct,” said Messier.

Messier feels that the vast majority of his students take the steps they need to take to learn, to care for their animals, and to be responsible for their actions in the classroom and in the barns with the animals.

The Animal Science Program at MVU has embraced a Diversified Agricultural Program, which means that the students are working with numerous animals while they participate in the classes.

During the 2016 to 2017 school year the barn at MVU had two Jersey heifers, three steer, three hogs, three sheep, a nanny goat, and a donkey.

Mr. Messier gives the incoming students the opportunity to choose to work with the animal they are most interested in, and he does his best to ensure that they will have the opportunity to care for that animal.

The students who worked with the three hogs that the program raised were responsible for all of the care for the animals. They did the weight tapes, took the temperatures, and did the feeding and cleaning. This hands on responsibility tends to bring out the very best in the students.

The students in the technical programs evaluate themselves each day. They must evaluate their work in the areas of safety, responsibility for learning, persistence, and responsible citizenship. After the student has done a self-evaluation, the instructor has the opportunity to weigh in on the student’s assessment.

Mr. Messier feels this self evaluation brings a lot of accountability to the students in the program.

When Mr. Messier began his career, teaching in Franklin County, nearly ninety percent of the county was participating in some kind of agricultural field. Many of his students were male, however, today some of his classes are predominantly female.

Mr. Messier has been foundational in building and maintaining the agricultural portion of the technical program, remaining the head of the program from 1970 until 2015. He has seen the Animal Science Program grow from calves being raised in hutches on the property to the completion of a barn that houses the animals.

Last year the program installed a web cam so that students could enjoy watching the animals in the barn.

December was a busy month at the MVU barn as the students prepared for their donkey, Ester, to give birth to her baby. Ester did deliver her newborn and folks from all over the state, the nation, and even the world, had an opportunity to see what the students were having the opportunity to participate in.

Missisquoi’s technical programs, including the Animal Science Program, have graduated many students who have gone on to successful careers. Some of those students have stayed in Franklin County and added value to the area through the skills they acquired in Mr. Messier’s classroom.

Mike Fournier, who worked as the plant manager at Cargill was a student of the program.

Local farmers Guy Choiniere and his son Matt both graduated from the agricultural program at MVU and farm in Highgate. Dennis Boucher, who also farms in Highgate, graduated from the program.

Mr. Messier recalls the names of many families that went through his program. Names like the Depaties, the Laroches, the Choinieres, and the Gagnes came immediately to his mind. Some of these families, like the Choinieres, have seen two generations graduate.

Even if a student doesn’t enter an agricultural field, the students who attend the program leave with life skills that will help them embrace the challenges they will face in the years ahead.

The Franklin County Field Days will have some special guests this year, and Mr. Messier hopes that those guests will help Franklin County folks see the hard work the students have been doing, first hand.

Some of the animals that the students raised and cared for during the last school year will be present at the Field Days. Ester, the donkey who gave birth on the web cam that the Animal Science Program ran last year, will be present.

Misty the goat and her three kids will be at the Field Days as well as a few of the sheep that were born at the school.

He’s planning to bring two of the steer that were raised at school. The steer will be an excellent example of the effect that genetics have on beef production. There will be one Jersey Steer and one Aberdeen/Holstein cross. Both of the animals are the same age and have been fed the same diet. He’s hoping people will stop in and see the difference between the two animals.

Mr. Messier is hoping to see the animals housed in the petting area at the Field Days. He will also have an educational exhibit on site where kids can grade and candle eggs and get a look at the various items the students use to help care for the animals.

The FFA will be operating an ice cream both at the Field Days, and Messier’s wife, Ronna will be in the booth. She and other volunteers from the area will be scooping ice cream and making milk shakes.

Missisquoi’s Animal Science Program has been a force for positive choices, self responsibility, and accountability, and for a major contributor in raising up the agricultural community in Franklin County.

“We’re just supporting the next generation of agricultural leaders,” said Roundtree, as he spoke of the grant his company recently made to the Animal Science Program, and his assessment certainly seems accurate.


By Gregory J. Lamoureux, County Courier

Editor’s Note: This story was first published in the print edition of the County Courier on Thursday, August 3, 2017.

ST. ALBANS: Former Senator McAllister was convicted of just one crime when he went to trial last month, a misdemeanor charge of prohibited acts for assisting in the act of prostitution.

Late last week his lawyer, Bob Katims, filed a motion to have that conviction overturned.

“The defendant is entitled to a judgment of acquittal,” Katims wrote to the court.

The County Courier is the first to report on McAllister attempting to reverse the charges.

Katims cites a half a dozen reasons in his motion as to why the conviction should be overturned.

Among other reasons, Katims alleges the court erred prejudicially against McAllister when the prosecution took testimony from one of the arresting officers.

That testimony was that McAllister declined to talk with them- essentially taking advantage of his fifth amendment rights. Katims alleges that having that testimony aired in front of the jury, the jury could have been biased against McAllister because he chose not to continue speaking with the officers.

Katims also argues in his motion that McAllister had nothing to do with the alleged prostitution, noting that the state never proved that he had.

Katims notes that McAllister testified he had been told by his accuser that she had previously had sex for money with a man. The court ordered that the testimony should be disregarded. The argument is that if the testimony were allowed, the jury would have had an explanation for McAllister’s statements that were made in a telephone recording.

“That communication alone would explain (McAllister’s) reference on the tape, without substantiating allegations that (McAllister) procured (the accuser) to engage in prostitution.” Katims wrote to the judge.

Katims also cites his continued request for a change of venue, which he requested numerous times throughout the trial and pretrial conferences leading up to the week long July trial.

In each of those requests, Katims said that extensive media attention, particularly through print media in Franklin County, the jury pool was biased against his client.

Katims said that just about every jury member recalled knowing something about the case, and the trial should never have been allowed to occur in Franklin County because of it.

Lastly, and possibly the most notable reason that Katims believes the conviction should be overturned, is the denial by the judge that the state committed a Brady Violation during the pretrial stage and that the Defense (a month before the trial was scheduled) needed more time to prepare adequately for trial.

“The evidence presented in this case was legally insufficient to support a guilty verdict.” Katims wrote, “Additionally, the trial resulting in the Defendant’s conviction was marred by a number of substantial, prejudicial errors. Only a new trial, at a minimum, can preserve (McAllister’s) due process rights and ensure that any conviction is obtained fairly and not as a result of a tainted jury pool, the introduction of inadmissible evidence, or the improper execution of withholding of legitimate evidence.”

Judge Robert Mellow had not ruled on the merits of the motion as of press time on Wednesday.


FAIRFIELD: Grief counselors will be on hand at the Fairfield Elementary School today and tomorrow for those in need of support, according to a source at the school.

It’s a move in reaction to the tragic loss of 7-year-old Grady Howrigan of East Fairfield after the tractor that he and his father were in overturned in a field on Friday, killing Grady.


Fatal Farm Accident in Fairfield

Obituary: Grady Luke Howrigan

Police say that Luke Howrigan, 38, of Fairfield was operating the tractor on the blue sky day, spreading manure on the field when the manure spreader tipped over, causing the tractor to roll as well.

Calling hours have been set for Tuesday from 4-8pm, at the Heald Funeral Home in St. Albans with a Mass of Christian Burial Wednesday at 11am at St. Patrick’s Church in Fairfield Center.

For those that are seeking grief counseling, call or go to the Fairfield Elementary School to speak with the counselors provided by NCSS.


FAIRFIELD: Vermont State Police said that a young boy has died as a result of a farm accident yesterday in Fairfield.

Rescue crews from Fairfield Fire, Sheldon Fire, and Amcare Ambulance rushed to the scene at 1:08 pm, Friday to find the 7-year-old boy deceased. Troopers said that they are waiting to release the boy’s name until all the next of kin have been notified.

Detective Sergeant Richard Desany of the Vermont State Police said that the boy’s father was operating a large farm tractor, spreading manure on a field with his son in the cab of the tractor with him.

Desany said that it appears that the manure spreader rolled onto it’s left side due to a side hill causing the tractor to roll as well.

The father was also initially trapped under the tractor but was eventually able to get free, according to VSP.

Desany said that several members of the community stepped forward to help lift the large tractor off the boy in order to respectfully recover his body. The Town of Fairfield used their heavy equipment, A.C. Vaillancourt’s provided heavy wrecker service, as well as TDI Repair & Towing with airbags.


Brian Curry performs during the 16th Annual Jig in the Valley in Fairfield, Sunday July 27, 2008. This Year’s festival was dedicated for Sonny Boomhower. Photograph by Gregory J. Lamoureux

By: Ruthie Laroche

The Jig in the Valley will celebrate 25 years of marvelous music, excellent food, and small town festivities this summer. The Fairfield Community Center and The Meeting House on the Green welcome folks of all ages to join them for the ‘best Jig yet’ on Sunday, July 30th.

The Jig will commence on the Village Green in East Fairfield at noontime on Sunday. Guests are invited to come for the entire eight hour celebration that will include lots of music, kid’s activities, the famous Wood Fired Pizza, a Silent Auction, raffles galore, and a parade by the Black Creek Adventure Circus!

The entertainment for the day is based around a host of bands including Dale and Darcy, the Missisquoi River Band, Brian Curry, West Virginia’s acclaimed Rush Run Philharmonic, Carol Ann Jones and the Superchargers, and the Ole Romeos. Special guests will also be in attendance as the Jig welcomes George Lewis, Joe Moore, and New Orleans trumpeter Al Zanzler.

This year’s Silent Auction will be an extra special one according to Nancy Shaw, Interim Director of the Center, as they have acquired some wonderful items.

Over forty items ranging  from an overnight stay at the Omni Parker hotel in Boston, gondola rides at Stowe, a Bash Badge from Smugg’s will all be available as well as beautiful and unique hand crafted items and dinners at excellent restaurants.

There will also be a raffle for a new gas grill.

The music will be a highlight of the day, but Shaw was quick to say that the Black Creek Adventure Circus Parade was an event that everyone would enjoy.

Kids attending the Black Creek Adventure Camp spend time making costumes and learning various entertainment skills. They learn to walk on stilts, juggle, and practice the art of clowning. The Jig gives them an opportunity to entertain the crowds with their newly acquired skills.

The handmade, wood fired pizza is a delight that Jig goers will have the opportunity to enjoy. Five years ago the Black Creek Adventure Campers built the oven for cooking the pizza, and the pizza cooked in that oven is famous around the area.

Shaw shared the story of the Community Center and encouraged folks to get out and enjoy the food and music. She also made sure to remind attendees that all the money from The Jig goes to support a community wide effort in East Fairfield that reaches young and old alike.

The Jig is a home grown event, and the founders are no strangers to getting things done for the betterment of the community they live in.

In 1991 a group of East Fairfield residents heard the news that the Community Center was going up for sale.

“The town was going to sell it, but we wanted to save it for a public space,” said Shaw, “about sixty people from the town got together to work to save it. We applied for grants and eventually bought the Center and completely renovated it.”

Today the Community Center hosts The Black Creek Adventure Camp for 5-12 year olds. This camp runs for eight weeks during the summer months. Children who participate learn something new each week, with a focus on healthy lifestyles and building life skills.

The building also houses a preschool, a food shelf, wellness clinics, and a free meal for the area’s seniors.

Shaw said that the Senior Meal, served on Tuesdays, usually has twenty to forty in attendance each week. The staff is made up of volunteers, some seniors themselves.

All the proceeds of The Jig go directly into the funding of the Community Center and “Meeting House on the Green.”

Four years ago the residents of the town purchased the old white church in East Fairfield. The building serves as the rain day site for The Jig as well as an area to host enrichment programs, music events, memorial services, weddings, puppet shows, and the preschool graduation for the Community Center.

“The buildings are really just bringing a lot to this community. The Jig in the Valley is the celebration piece. We are celebrating our community,” said Nance.

Admission to the Jig is $10 per person or $25 per family. Bring yourself, your family, your friends, and some lawn chairs and blankets. Get ready for a fun afternoon with plenty of food and entertainment, and remember The Jig in the Valley takes place rain or shine!


RICHFORD: Federal Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives stormed a home located at 49 Troy Street in Richford on Tuesday as they executed a search warrant, looking for drugs and drug paraphernalia.

According to the government, St. Albans Police stopped Larnell Cunningham, 39, of New York City for a warrant check, on May 23rd, which ultimately lead police to the Richford home. Inside were two men, Michael "Bigs" Leslie, 40, of Philadelphia and Pamela Yandow.

Inside Cunningham's vehicle in May, police discovered a "Tang" drink mix container with approximately 130 grams of cocaine as well as a digital scale, several small plastic baggies and other items commonly used to distribute narcotics.

The following day a criminal informant conducted a controlled purchase of cocaine from Marvin Tyrone Crawford, 40, of Philidelphia. During that interaction, Crawford allegedly told the buyer that Cunningham was supposed to have more cocaine for him, but was stopped by police instead. That drug buy allegedly took place in the EconoLodge parking lot in St. Albans.

Court documents revealed the criminal informant was helping police in exchange for assistance in a prior arrest where the State of Vermont levied charged against the CI.

That purchase, along with other police investigations lead to Pamela Yandow, 45, of St. Albans along with her son, Tannar Yandow, 20, also of St. Albans.

According to a Border Patrol Agent's affidavit, the CI could only communicate with the Yandow's through Facebook Messenger.

A later purchase from the Yandow's to the CI was conducted with the CI wearing a wire and being video recorded, according to court records. That transaction happened just down the road from the EconoLodge in a newly built apartment building, located at 306 South Main Street.

The same CI allegedly helped federal agents when he made a drug purchase from Leslie on June 20th at a home on 228 Sheldon Road in St. Albans.

During that buy, Leslie allegedly came outside from the home with the predetermined amount of cocaine that the CI was to purchase from Leslie. When the transaction was finished, the CI then asked Leslie if he could purchase more cocaine- that is when Leslie went back into the apartment and came back a second time with cocaine for the buyer.

According to court records, this transaction was video recorded to preserve the integrity of the evidence.

During Monday's raid in Richford, agents found Leslie to be in possession of $8,378 in cash. They also discovered drug paraphernalia including small plastic baggies, a digital scale and kitchen utensils that had small amounts of cocaine on them.

The Federal Government is also prosecuting Donna Larose, 56, of St. Albans after she was pulled over in Fort Ann, New York with a criminal possession of cocaine that police allege was intended for the Franklin County, Vermont area.

Tannar Yandow, Pamela Yandow, Marvin Tyrone Crawford Donna Larose, and Michael Leslie were all arrested and held on the drug charges, pending a detention hearing this afternoon.