News Briefs

Lakes Region News Briefs

Archaeology dig on Buckner Preserve

WEST HAVEN—Castleton University students are among the diggers laboring to learn about humans’ interaction with the environment in the southern Lake Champlain Basin. They are taking part in an archaeology dig at the Helen W. Buckner Preserve in West Haven.

Altogether, students and others are excavating a large precontact campsite on the farmstead formerly owned by the William Galick family. The South Champlain Historical Ecology Project (SCHEP) is in its second season of working on the Galick site (termed VT-RU-71). Collaborators include the Vermont Archaeological Society, Castleton University, the Nature Conservancy, the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, and the U.S. Forest Service. Excavating work will continue through August 4.

In SCHEP’s 2016 season, researchers found more than 6,000 lithic (stone) flakes, dozens of fire-cracked rocks, and numerous tools. Analysis reveals that the Galick site was used for more than 11,000 years. It was close to major transportation routes between Lake Champlain and the Hudson River Valley, in the middle of both wetlands and uplands providing diverse habitat and resources, and likely inhabited year-round.

Farmer sentenced in murder of daughter’s boyfriend

CASTLETON—Stephen Pelletier, 62, received a 10-year prison term for killing Michael Wisell in May 2014. Judge Cortland Corsones sentenced the farmer to 20 years to life, with 10 years suspended on probation, in a plea arrangement.

Wisell had been living with Pelletier’s daughter Jessica on the Pelletier family farm; both were addicted to heroin. In addition to being emotionally and physically abusive to Jessica, he had also threatened her parents.

Pelletier pled no contest to shooting Wisell, saying that he had given in to “anger and fear,” according to VTDigger. Although Pelletier said he believed doing so was unavoidable to protect his family, Corsones said he did have other alternatives. Corsones said the farmer could have asked for police intervention, sought a trespass or restraining order, or sought intervention from Wisell’s family.

Pelletier shot Wisell while the two were alone on the farm, chopping and stacking wood. Six days later, Pelletier confessed.

Lying to police nets mom eight months

TINMOUTH—Lisa Velde, 58, impeded a police investigation when she falsely said she had driven the truck that struck and killed Timnouth farmer Leo Branchaud, 57, in 2016. Video cameras revealed, however, that the driver was Velde’s son Thomas, 41, who drove the vehicle that struck Branchaud.

Judge Cortland Corsones handed her a one- to three-year sentence June 23, suspending all but eight months of it. Vermont State’s Attorney Rose Kennedy said she chose to not seek a perjury charge, but selected the lesser one against Velde because of Velde’s age and non-criminal record. Thomas Velde, however, had a substantial criminal record: eight felony convictions, two convictions for leaving the scene of an accident and three convictions for drunk driving — more than 40 convictions in all — and was driving without a license, according to the Rutland Herald.

As the trial drew to a close, Velde admitted her son had come to her home after the accident, begging for help. He refused to return with her to the scene of the accident. She called 911, then went to the accident site, telling the police she had been driving the vehicle, registered to Thomas Velde’s grandmother

Pawlet plans include hazards, historic preservation

PAWLET—Elysa Smigielski of the Rutland Regional Planning Commission is working with Pawlet Emergency Management Director Bob Merlino to update the Pawlet local hazard mitigation plan. They plan to meet with other Pawlet residents to gather input, they said at the June 20 Pawlet Select Board meeting.

Karen Folger, Elizabeth Gibson, and Sue LaPorte represented Pawlet at the statewide Town Hall Historic Preservation Conference. Gibson said she had picked up useful information on zoning that she intended to give to the planning commission and Development Review board. She also learned about the National Park Service’s Certified Local Government community program, which municipalities may apply for to assist in historic building preservation. She plans to explore the program further.

Folger said she attended the Stimulating the Local Economy through Arts and Culture session, which covered White River Junction’s use of the arts as an economic catalyst. Architect Joe Minicozzi discussed tax literacy in small towns, comparing the value that historic buildings bring small towns, compared to big box stores. Other key points were the value of easily accessible parking and walkability, and the role of pedestrian and bicycle access.

LaPorte commented on the three sessions she had attended: Small Town Retail on the Rise, Place Making with Complete Streets, and Stimulating the Local Economy through Arts and Culture.

Bomoseen residents ponder lake traffic

BOMOSEEN—Visiting boaters have been creating problems for the 40 to 50 people who live on the southern end of Lake Bomoseen. The Lake Bomoseen Association is pondering what its contribution may be, LBA Secretary and Treasurer John Hale told the Rutland Herald.

Visitors who boat to the shallow south end, letting their children swim, block homeowners from launching their own boats, Hale explained. Education is one possibility; increasing police presence on the water is another. One proposal is to buy a boat and donate it to the town for use by the Castleton police department.

The LBA has priced an apparently suitable boat at $10,000. The hope is that the town police department would use such a boat to patrol the lake, especially on weekend afternoons from Memorial to Labor Day.

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