Local & Regional Briefs: Feb. 11, 2018

Saturday, February 10, 2018
Norwich Town Manager Injured in I-89 Crash

Colchester, Vt. — Norwich Town Manager Herbert Durfee III was briefly hospitalized with a collapsed lung after his vehicle collided with a Vermont Agency of Transportation plow truck on Interstate 89 early Saturday morning, according to a Vermont State Police news release.

Durfee, of Grand Isle, Vt., was driving a 2012 Honda Odyssey southbound on I-89 around 1:12 a.m. when he attempted to pass a slower-moving plow truck driven by Cynthia Provost, of Essex Junction, Vt., that was spreading salt on the highway, according to the news release.

Conditions were wet, and there were light snow flurries at the time, police said. Durfee’s vehicle “struck the passenger side plow wing” of the plow truck as he was attempting to pass the plow on the right, the news release said.

The plow truck crossed the median side fog line and struck the guardrails, and Durfee’s vehicle became lodged in the side of the truck, the news release said.

The 55-year-old Durfee had to be extricated from his vehicle following the accident because of damage from the crash. He suffered multiple cuts, bruising and a collapsed lung and was taken to University of Vermont Medical Center, the release said. Durfee was discharged later the same day, according to the hospital.

Provost was uninjured and the plow truck suffered minor damage, according to police.

Both southbound lanes of Interstate 89 in Colchester were shut down for about two hours following the crash, police said.

Charges may be pending in the case, police said. “Based upon statements, alcohol is considered to be a contributing factor of the crash, however the crash is still under investigation,” the news release said.

Durfee, who started working in Norwich last May after serving as town manager in Fair Haven, Vt., has a home in Grand Isle, according to his Linked-In profile.

Leader of Senior Citizens Council to Retire

Lebanon — Roberta Berner, the executive director of Grafton County Senior Citizens Council, has announced that she will be retiring in September.

Berner has led the council for 15 years. She joined the organization in 1999 as the director of marketing and development. Under Berner’s leadership, the council has served more than 8,000 people each year through eight senior centers, two ServiceLink aging and disability resource centers, and RSVP’s Volunteer Center.

“I have never had a more meaningful job and I’ve never before worked in an organization that I so cherished,” Berner said in a news release.

“Roberta has guided and grown the organization effectively with a combination of passion, intelligence, and grace through challenging times,” said Patricia Brady, president of the council’s board of directors. “I believe her phenomenal work with us has been much more a calling than a job.”

Berner moved to New Hampshire from Florida in 1998. She is a graduate of the University of Florida and the University of Minnesota with a master’s degree in American studies. The council’s board of directors has appointed a search committee to find candidates for the executive director position.

Senior Citizens Council Receives Arts Grant

Lebanon — The Grafton County Senior Citizens Council, Inc., in partnership with the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire, has been awarded a $48,000 grant to support the Experience/Arts program, which offers a year of substantive skill-building arts courses for adults ages 55 and older throughout Grafton County.

The grant was given by Aroha Philanthropies, based in Minneapolis, which supports 15 programs across the country through its national Seeding Vitality Arts initiative to fund arts programs for older adults.

“This is major funding for a renewal of our Experience/Arts program,” Roberta Berner, the executive director of the Grafton County Senior Citizens Council, said in an email.

This is the second year that Aroha Philanthropies has supported the Experience/Arts program. The Couch Family Foundation has also pledged to support the program for a second year, granting the council $17,000.

In 2017 the Experience/Arts program included classes in Lebanon, Haverhill, Littleton, and Plymouth, ranging from poetry to photography and musical lessons. This year the program may be expanded.

Monthly CPR Courses Offered in Norwich

Norwich — Monthly courses in compressions-only CPR will be offered in Norwich this year, beginning Tuesday. The free class will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. at Tracy Hall, 300 South Main St., Norwich, in the multipurpose room.

“Hands-only CPR can be learned by anyone, with or without medical background,” said Madonna Gordon, a pediatric nurse practitioner at Dartmouth who is volunteering to teach the class. “It’s something I feel that I can give to the community as a service that may down the line save a life.”

Gordon said that the course — which teaches CPR using just compression, no mouth-to-mouth — is easy to learn.

“It empowers people to step in as a bystander, because it’s fairly easy to remember what to do in a situation where your mind tends to go to pieces and it’s easy to panic,” Gordon said.

Although the course will not give an official CPR certification, the hands-only approach is endorsed by the American Heart Association. For more information or to register, email Gordon at madkatgordon@gmail.com.

589 in Vt. Added to Gun Background Check List

Montpelier (ap) — More than 500 Vermont residents have been added to the national database of those barred from having guns because state courts ordered hospitalization or other treatment for dangerous mental illnesses.

A state law that took effect in 2015 requires state courts to report to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System within 48 hours when a suspect in a criminal case has been committed to the custody of the Department of Mental. It also requires reporting when a court has ordered someone to be hospitalized or to undergo outpatient treatment because their mental illness makes them a danger to themselves or others.

The Burlington Free Press reports that 589 names have been added to the database from Vermont since the law took effect, according to a recent report by Vermont Court Administrator Patricia Gabel.

Supporters of the requirements said they were concerned that background checks were not identifying people with dangerous mental illness. Opponents argued that the law would further stigmatize mental illness.

Wilda White, executive director of Vermont Psychiatric Survivors, said some people have been surprised and confused after getting letters stating they had been added to the database.

“People are not being apprised of the ramifications of stipulating to this sort of non-hospitalization,” she said. “I don’t think people would ever imagine that they’re going to be reported to a national database as a result of it.”

State law allows people to file a petition in court to restore their right to buy guns. None has yet attempted that process, according to the report.

Father Pleas: No Martyrdom For British ISIS Fighters

Rochester, n.h. (ap) — The father of slain journalist James Foley hopes two recently captured extremists will be put on trial and sentenced to life in prison.

U.S. officials recently confirmed the capture of two Britons who were part of a notorious Islamic State cell that tortured and beheaded Foley, a Kimbal Union Academy graduate, and more than two dozen other hostages. Foley, 40, was kidnapped in 2012 and killed in August 2014. He grew up in New Hampshire, where his father called the recent news bittersweet.

“Obviously, it’s not going to bring Jimmy back,” John Foley told WMUR-TV .

“Everybody needs to be responsible for their actions, and we as a family and as a country have a need for justice,” he said in calling for a trial.

“The death penalty would make them martyrs, which is what they would want, so I would prefer that they spend the rest of their lives in jail,” he said.

U.S. officials have confirmed that El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Amon Kotey, who grew up in London before traveling to the Middle East, were captured in early January in eastern Syria. They are alleged to have been part of the four-man IS cell dubbed “The Beatles” because of their British accents.

In 2011, Foley was held by government forces in Libya while covering that country’s civil war. Another journalist — South African photographer Anton Hammerl — was shot during their capture and left to die in the desert. Foley and another journalist were released after six weeks. At the time of his kidnapping in Syria, he had been in the country contributing videos to Agence France-Press.

— Staff and wire reports