News Briefs

News Briefs: Lakes Region

By Lani Duke

Tragedy was alcohol-fueled; alcohol permit under scrutiny

CASTLETON—A triple-fatality accident in Castleton took the lives of 26-year-old Andrew Laramie, 24-year-old Caleb Kinney, and 23 year-old Samantha Forrest in a March 19 crash on Drake Road. Castleton Police Chief Peter Mantello recently announced that Laramie, the vehicle’s driver, had a blood alcohol level at 0.16, twice the legal driving limit. His passengers were also intoxicated. Police had asked only for alcohol levels, not a full toxicology report, Mantello said.

It appears all three died immediately, Mantello said. Authorities also believe speed was a factor and the car’s occupants were not wearing seat belts when the airbags deployed.

The trio had left the Fishtail Tavern just before 2 a.m. When the liquor license for on-premises alcohol consumption at both the Fishtail and Trak-In Steak House, owned by Edgewater Inc., came up for renewal, the Castleton Select Board decided to approve the license but to end outdoor consumption. The Board seems unlikely to approve outdoor consumption for future applicants, as there is little control on patrons’ coming and going, according to Board Chairman Joseph Bruno. Bruno said he wouldn’t support permanently removing the outside consumption permit but instead favored withdrawing it “for now” with review to follow after the accident investigation is complete.

Six Castleton businesses currently have outside consumption licensing: The Palms at Prospect Bay, The Iron Lantern, the American Legion, the Blue Cat Bistro, Birdseye Diner, and Castleton Pizza Place & Deli.

Green Mountain prez named

POULTNEY—Green Mountain College has selected Robert (Bob) W. Allen as its eighth president. Allen will formally take on the college’s leadership mantle July 1, leaving his current role as president and CEO of The Windham Foundation of Grafton.

Dr. Anthony Cortese, chair of the Green Mountain Board of Trustees, praised the selection, saying in a statement: “Bob Allen is an inspired choice,” with the “unique combination of talents that Green Mountain needs,” possessing a background that encompasses academia, business, and non-profit leadership.

Retiring president Paul Fonteyn has improved faculty and student quality and brought national recognition to the college; Allen is “the right person to continue his work,” Cortese expanded.

His luck was with him

FAIR HAVEN—An unnamed 28-year-old Fair Haven resident had a close call April 22. Fair Haven police, the Poultney constable, and two Castleton police officers responded to a 9:10 p.m. report of someone struck by a train. A train engineer had stopped the train, afraid that the train had hit a man lying on the track bed next to the tracks. The intoxicated man apparently had been trying to get out of the path of the train when he fell, injuring his shoulder and torso. Rescuers placed the man on a backboard and put him on the train, which took him to a parked ambulance, which then carried him to Rutland Regional Medical Center. Fair Haven Police Chief William Humphries did not release the man’s name but did say charges for trespassing on the tracks are pending.

Good neighbors jump to help

TINMOUTH—Tinmouth neighbors have been organizing to help Tami Carboni Branchaud care for the organic farm and animals that she became sole provider for after the unexpected death of her husband Leo, hit by a vehicle in front of his house at about 8:15 p.m. on April 22. When state police located the mother and son who were occupants of the vehicle, they gave conflicting stories about who was driving. Rutland County State’s Attorney Rose Kennedy contends that Thomas Velde’s family shielded him from law enforcement. Already with multiple felony convictions on his record, Velde will be held without bail until a weight of the evidence hearing is scheduled.

The community has set up an online spreadsheet where individuals can sign up to help with farm work at For now, neighboring farmers are keeping the cows milked, the calves fed, and the barn and horse stalls cleaned. A Leo Branchaud Memorial Fund has also been set up to receive monetary donations,

Troopers assigned to the Rutland Barracks responded to a motor vehicle crash. Upon arrival it was determined that Leo Branchaud was in the roadway near his residence when he was struck by a vehicle traveling north on Gulf Road. The vehicle that struck Branchaud was being operated by Thomas Velde, Jr., 40, of Tinmouth. Branchaud died as a result of his injuries sustained from the crash. On Monday, April 25, at approximately 11 a.m. Troopers located Velde at his grandmother’s house  and took him into custody.  Thomas Velde was subsequently charged with Careless and Negligent Operation Death Resulting, Leaving the Scene of an Accident and Driving with a Criminally Suspended License.  Thomas Velde’s bail was set at $20,000 cash or surety and he was subsequently transported to the Marble Valley Correctional Facility.

Act 46 leaves Ira in quandary

IRA—The school district for the town of Ira has preK-12 school choice and is already a non-operating school district, meaning it has no functioning school of its own. It wants to stay that way. Trying to comply with the state’s consolidation mandate leaves Ira a bit stuck, geographically. One

possibility is to join the Rutland Central Supervisory Union as an informal study member to investigate a stand-alone district. To do so, Ira must submit a plan requesting a stand-alone district to the State Board of Education by November 2017, according to Joan Paustian, superintendent of Rutland Southwest Supervisory Union.

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