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Barre man charged with knife assault

BARRE – A local man accused of stabbing another man in the neck last week was arraigned Monday on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct at Washington County criminal court.

James E. Rodger, 30, faces a maximum 15 years and three months in prison and $10,500 in fines, or both, if convicted.

In an affidavit, Barre Police Officer James McGowan said he was one of several officers who responded at 9:32 p.m. on Friday to a report of “three intoxicated males fighting while walking” toward Summer Street.

McGowan said he found Charles Brown, 28, in a parking lot across the street from Seminary Street.

“Part of his face was covered in what appeared to be blood and he had no shirt on,” McGowan stated, adding that Brown told him a man wearing a black shirt, later identified as Rodger, had stabbed him with a knife.

McGowan said he located Rodger with another man, Bryan Hallock III, at the corner of Summer and Seminary streets.

McGowan said he noticed blood on Rodger’s right hand and that he appeared moderately intoxicated. Rodger said he had a folded knife in his pocket, which McGowan said he took, the affidavit stated.

McGowan said Rodger told him he was walking to see a woman “when some guy started messing with him.”

A witness, Raymond Philbrook, of Seminary Street, said he was on a second-floor porch when he saw Brown hit Rodger twice, and then Brown told Rodger to hit him back, according to McGowan’s affidavit.

McGowan stated he learned that Brown has sustained a wound to the back of his neck.

In another affidavit, Officer Brittany Lewis stated she responded at 9:45 p.m. on Friday to the parking lot behind Key Bank on North Main Street to find Brown with blood on his face and lacerations to his forehead above his left eye, the left side of his nose and the back of his neck.

Lewis also spoke to Philbrook, who confirmed that he saw Brown “was the first one to get physical” and struck Rodger twice with an open hand.

A third male who was reportedly with the other two men left the scene before the police arrived, Lewis added.

Lewis said she examined Rodger’s knife and found blood on both sides of the blade.

Lewis said fellow Officer Chad Stacey, who also responded to the reported attack, said Rodger spoke of “suicide.” Lewis advised that Rodger should be seen by Washington County Mental Health Services.

Stacey later reported Rodger has a blood-alcohol content level of 0.181 percent.

Lewis said a fellow officer issued Brown with a citation for disorderly conduct to appear at Washington County criminal court Oct. 3.

Rodger was released on conditions that included he stay away from Brown and his residence, and to have no other contact with him, and that he may not have, buy or drink alcohol.

Judge Kirstin K. Schoonover ordered Rodger to appear for a felony scheduling order at Washington County criminal court Sept. 16.


jebcas / Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff Photo  


Vintage vehicles parade through downtown Waterbury on Saturday during the Vermont Automobile Enthusiasts’ 62nd annual Antique and Classic Car Meet.

Scott makes Cabinet appointments

MONTPELIER — On Monday, Gov. Phil Scott promoted two Cabinet members to fill the offices left vacant by Thomas Anderson after he resigned from his position as Commissioner of Public Safety in July, according to a press release from Gov. Scott’s office.

Secretary of of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Michael Schirling, will be moving up to serve as the Commissioner of Public Safety, while Lindsay Kurrle, Labor Commissioner for the Department of Labor, will become the new Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, the notice said.

“Both Lindsay and Mike have been incredibly valuable members of our team, working together to support – and attract more – employers and employees and tackle some of Vermont’s top economic and workforce priorities,” Scott said in a release. “Their leadership in these new roles will be tremendously important to the state’s work to grow the economy, make Vermont more affordable and protect the most vulnerable.”

Schirling and Kurrle will begin work in their new positions Sept. 3, and a search is being conducted to fill Kurrle’s empty seat as Labor Commissioner.

If someone is not hired by their new start date, Deputy Commissioner Michael Harrington will act as interim commissioner in Kurrle’s absence, Scott’s office said.

Originally a small-business owner, Kurrle formerly managed her family business, Kurrle Fuels and Transport while she worked at Central Vermont Home Health and Hospice, and brings with her a background in financial reporting, accounting, and both financial and federal funds audits working with both Vermont and New Hampshire’s state governments.

Kurrle is now in her second year with the Scott administration, having previously served as the assistant director of state-wide financial reporting, the release claimed.

“It’s been a pleasure working with Secretary Schirling to bring ACCD and VDOL closer together to grow our economy and expand and strengthen our workforce,” Kurrle said in a release. “It is critical for our teams to continue that collaboration so we can continue to revitalize our county economic centers and the communities around them, in order to improve economic outcomes, and affordability, for Vermonters. I am excited to bring my experience as a small business owner and knowledge of state and federal workforce system to ACCD.”

Kurrle and her husband, Jim, sold their gas station and deli to Champlain Oil Co. in 2017 after a 13-year stint.

“This is a bittersweet time for us, said Jim Kurrle in a statement to the Times Argus during the transition. “We are sad to say goodbye to our staff, some who have been with us since the start of our business, and our loyal customers and our vendors. This business has brought many wonderful people into our lives, some who live and work in central Vermont and others who were passing through. But we feel good about the future of this property.”

The same year Kurrle entered her current capacity at the state house, Schirling began his career as the Secretary after spending over two decades with the Burlington Police Department, including seven years as the Chief of Police.

While chief, Schirling spearheaded technological advancements, received awards for his work toward better community police and victim service efforts and was previously recognized by the International Association of Chiefs of Police for Civil Rights.

Before his time at the BPD, Schirling trained members of the U.S. State Department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program Cyber Division as a contractor, the release said.

“It has been a privilege to serve alongside the talented team at the Agency of Commerce & Community Development and I am proud of their great work and all they’ve accomplished over the last two and a half years,” Schirling said in a release. “As the Governor often says, public safety is the top priority of any government, so I am humbled by the opportunity to take this new assignment with an equally exceptional team at the Department of Public Safety.”


Barre man faces L&L charge

BARRE – A local man accused of lewd and lascivious behavior in South Barre last week was arraigned in Washington County criminal court on Monday.

Charles Sweeney, 50, of North Main Street, faces a maximum of five years in prison or a fine of $300, or both, if convicted of the felony offense.

In an affidavit, Barre Police Officer James McGowan said he was notified by telephone at 2:51 p.m. on Thursday of “a male wearing a white shirt and Speedo exposing himself” to others on South Main Street.

“I located Sweeney at Barre City Pool,” McGowan’s affidavit noted. “He matched the description given except that he was wearing short/tight black shorts (not a Speedo).

“I advised him to speak with me outside the pool area. He denied any wrongdoing. He then left the area on foot,” McGowan’s affidavit stated.

McGowan said a local married couple had witnessed Sweeney’s alleged exposure. They filed statements with the Barre Police Department. They also alleged witnessing similar behavior from Sweeney recently, according to their statements.

Both witnesses people expressed concern Sweeney was acting inappropriately so close to the nearby bike path, the Barre City Elementary School, Playground 2000 and the pool.

In the most recent incident on Thursday, one of the witnesses reported the “indecent, lewd touching and rubbing of his private parts right at the picnic tables” at a nearby ice cream stand.

The witness said she and staff at the the convenience store threatened to call the police if Sweeney did not stop, and noted that he then left and headed to the area of the nearby pool, playground and school.

“We had not seen the man for at least two weeks, so we had hoped that that he was no longer free out to expose himself to any other innocent families with children like us again,” the witness wrote in her statement.

In his affidavit, McGowan said he believed Sweeney “may have a cognitive delay,” based on previous contacts with him.

The officer noted Sweeney was a “person of interest” in an incident at Playground 2000 in July, when it was reported a male was staring at children.

Judge Kirstin K. Schoonover released Sweeney on conditions he stay at least 300 feet from playgrounds, city pool, schools and public parks where children play, and not have unsupervised contact with children under 16. He also was ordered to have no contact with the witnesses cited in the affidavit.

He was granted an exception to attend St. Monica’s Catholic Church’s Sunday service, despite being close to the adjoining Catholic school.

No date was set for his return to court. A court-order psychological investigation will be done first.


Theater Review
Literary battles can get very personal

MONTPELIER – The passing of the torch is never a simple matter. In Donald Margulies’ “Collected Stories,” a venerated short story writer watches as her protégée – and friend – begins to usurp her place in the limelight. It proves a major challenge for both and fascinating to watch as ambition, passion and love conflict.

Green Room Productions opened its production of this 1996 Pulitzer-nominated drama, Friday at the Unitarian Church’s downstairs theater, with an intimate, personal and riveting performance that left its characters – and audience – with unanswered questions. After repeating Saturday, the production moves to Warren’s Phantom Theater Aug. 18, 21 and 22.

In “Collected Stories,” the successful short story author Ruth takes on Lisa, one of her most talented students, first as an assistant and then as protégée. A graduate student, Lisa is a product of her time (the ‘90s), affluent but coming from a troubled childhood and broken marriage. Through her stories, which she is working on with Ruth, she explores the traumas as well as the human foibles of her past.

As their discussions go deeper, Ruth begins to reveal herself. As a young Jewish virgin from the Midwest she was caught up and overwhelmed with Beat Generation, drugs and “free sex,” of 1950s Greenwich Village. Reluctantly she admits to Lisa a short but memorable affair with a famously tragic poet.

As Lisa begins to prosper, first with a published story, then a successful collection, she begins to drift away from Ruth. But when Lisa reveals intimacies learned from Ruth in her first novel, matters come to a head. In a dramatic confrontation, honesty, ethics and friendship are all put to the test.

This powerful story is told in vignettes over a six-year period. In this Green Room Production, directed by Joanne Greenberg, Maren Langdon Spillane as Lisa and Ramona Godfrey as Ruth sparred with endearing wit, reassured with warmth and battled with unfettered passion, all with an air of authenticity.

Godfrey’s Ruth is a salty but caring woman who hates revealing herself, while Spillane’s young Lisa just can’t unload herself fast enough on her new mentor. Although there were some minor missteps, their gradual change, Lisa as she gains power and Ruth as she loses it, was both effective and deeply touching. Though hardly virtuous, both characters emerged as sympathetic.

The physical production fit the Unitarian Church’s stage (originally built for the Montpelier Theater Guild) and was simple, yet professional, and effective. After some 30 years teaching theater at U-32 High School in East Montpelier, Greenberg is beginning to create fine professional productions under the moniker of Green Room Productions.

“Collected Stories” proved excellent theater and powerful storytelling. More would be welcome.