Jim Kenyon

Jim Kenyon: A Model Vermont Prisoner

At 19, Sam Ramsey is one of Vermont’s youngest prison inmates. Fewer than 1 in 20 are under age 21. He’s also one of the few offenders behind bars who hasn’t been convicted of a felony, the most serious crimes that carry the stiffest penalties. Nine out of 10 Vermont inmates arrived in prison by way of a “Big F” conviction. But in one respect, Ramsey is more typical of the people that Vermont locks up: He struggles with some form of mental illness. On

Jim Kenyon: Special Delivery

On the Sunday before Christmas, dozens of needy families and elderly folks living alone in five Upper Valley towns will hear a knock on their door. The people knocking — quite likely strangers — will be delivering bags of groceries that include fresh vegetables, cheddar cheese, cranberry sauce, coffee, tea and bread. A frozen turkey or ham will be included as well. “A lot of people are depending on these groceries to make their Christmas dinner,” said Fairlee Town Clerk Georgette Wolf-Ludwig. “We’re trying to

Jim Kenyon: School Spirits

I’ve been hearing for the last couple of months that Dartmouth College is contemplating banning hard liquor on campus. That could be bad for business, and I don’t mean the education business. Why? For years, the college’s Centerra Marketplace in Lebanon has been home to New Hampshire Liquor Commission store No. 11. I don’t have 80 proof, but I suspect the college’s fraternities and sororities are among the store’s best customers. If Dartmouth indeed tosses Jose Cuervo and company off campus, it stands to reason

Series Homepage: Other Side of the Valley

In 2000 and 2001 Jim Kenyon spent 10 months reporting and writing the stories of four working families living on the edge of economic uncertainty. Kenyon, who is now a columnist but was then a staff writer, kept in touch with some of the families over the intervening years, and this summer went back to the other side of the valley to see how they had fared. His report, published in three parts in the Sunday Valley News starting Nov. 9, will be linked below

Jim Kenyon: Scott Milne Making the Most of It

Doing his part to uphold a time-honored Election Day tradition, Scott Milne stood outside the Hartford High School gymnasium early Tuesday morning, greeting voters on their way to the polls. Although most voters gave a quick smile or nod to the assembled candidates without breaking stride, Fred Davis made a point of stopping to wish Milne well in his bid to unseat incumbent Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin. “I’ve got a shot at it, I think,” Milne said. “Let’s hope so,” Davis, a retired self-employed excavator,

Jim Kenyon: Protecting Piermont

Earth to Piermont. You are a scenic New Hampshire town on the Connecticut River with 800 residents that has a general store, a bank and post office. You don’t need to continue arming your two-man police force with semi-automatic pistols, Tasers and a 12-gauge shotgun (unless it’s partridge season). The military-style Humvee that the Selectboard scored through a Pentagon giveaway program a couple of years ago could go, too. With this year marking your community’s 250th birthday, the time seems ideal. Celebrate what it means

Jim Kenyon: Crisis Communication at the Co-op

Knowing the way that the Co-op Food Stores react to employees who challenge top management, I was relieved to find that Laurel Soderholm still had a job last week. Soderholm, 66, oversees the health and beauty aids department at the Lebanon Co-op. She’s been an employee of the Hanover-based Consumer Cooperative Society, which operates four grocery stores in the Upper Valley, for 15 years. Last Sunday, Soderholm was among 100 or so people who attended a picnic at Storrs Pond in Hanover organized by Concerned

Jim Kenyon: Vets Make Their Case

Good news for the aging veterans of American Legion Post 22 in Lebanon. Grafton County Attorney Lara Saffo has come to her senses and dropped criminal charges against the club for what was alleged to be an illegal gambling operation. Now it’s the New Hampshire Liquor Commission’s turn to wake up and return the $16,000 in cash that was confiscated from Post 22’s safe on the eve of this year’s Super Bowl. If you recall, seven armed agents from the Liquor Commission’s enforcement bureau, acting

Jim Kenyon: Hire Education for Strafford Selectboard

Vermont’s right-to-know laws are intended to, among other things, remind local selectboards about the importance of conducting town business in public view. “Living in Vermont,” Secretary of State Jim Condos writes on his office’s website, “we expect openness in government.” The laws — and the rhetoric accompanying them — make Vermont seem like a bastion of democracy. Sort of like the fluff surrounding Town Meeting Day. But the reality is that laws governing public meetings and access to public records in Vermont do little to

Jim Kenyon: The Panhandler Problem — To Give, or Not to Give?

To give, or not to give. That’s the $1 dollar question when you’re stopped at a red light on Route 12A in West Lebanon and a guy (or, occasionally, a woman) carrying an “I’m Homeless” sign approaches your car. Should you reach for your wallet? Hand over the loose change in your cup holder? Or pretend to be checking baseball scores on your smartphone’s ESPN app? I’ve done them all. There are a lot of reasons why giving money to panhandlers is a bad idea,