SAINT JOHNSBURY - From a film projector in the back of a pickup truck, to a large facility in downtown Saint Johnsbury, Catamount Arts has been filling the Northeast Kingdom with art, music, and talent for more than 40 years.
Ashley Van Zandt is the First Night coordinator and the Assistant to the Director, and says that the arts organization does more than just put on events for the community. They also provide help to other area arts organizations, and programs for students of surrounding schools. “We do a lot of things here at Catamount Arts. But integrating arts into the community is our biggest focus. And we do that in a number of ways.”
With their regional box office, Catamount Arts gains the opportunity to work with other arts organizations. “We do marketing and ticket sales for more than forty organizations in Vermont and New Hampshire. And it allows us to work with other arts organizations such as; Kingdom County Productions, area chambers of commerce, and area schools.” says Van Zandt.
The organizations can do joint marketing with Catamount and put their events within their ticketing website. Van Zandt says that the other organizations have ticketing thats carried out by volunteers, so some things can fall through. “So we help them be successful,” says Van Zandt. “It also helps us be successful because it brings people into Catamount Arts.”
Van Zandt says that they can also accumulate data to see the economic impact and to show that there is a need for arts and events in the Northeast Kingdom.
Another asset to the community is the organizations’ involvement with some of different educational institutions. (MM — What schools are they involved in? What is the goal of connecting to the schools? What benefit is it to them?)
“We have some student volunteers,” says Van Zandt. “It gets the kids in here.” Catamount Arts also operates a safe space for young musicians to showcase their work, with a preteen exclusive open mic night.
With their New Years eve event, First Night North, the arts organization really has the chance to share what they do with the Saint Johnsbury Community. Jay Sprout is the current president of First Night North, he has been working with the event since the very begging, since first night started in 1993. Sprout says that last year First Night North presented 101 shows in eight hours. Which included 56 groups, according to Sprout if Catamount Arts, or any First Night attendee, counting every individual artist preforming, they would’ve counted over 300 musicians preforming.
“Its remarkable how well situated Saint Johnsbury is to hold such a festival,” said Sprout.
The event is substance free and focuses on arts and culture and gives the community a chance to experience different shows and other entertainment that they may not have gone out to see otherwise. About three thousand people are in attendance at the event. Van Zandt says it’s a large event where the roads are closed off to traffic and people are able to roam the streets.
“Next year is going to be a big year, its our twenty-fifth year, and there’s lots of really great ideas. It will be a Sunday so we are thinking about expanding the hours. It takes the whole community to put it together and we are so thankful to all of the vendors and the support of the local businesses to help put this on.” According to Van Zandt, they have a committee that meets monthly, and are always looking for volunteers until the week of the event. Sprout says the event has changed and grown since its beginning in 1994, but its a different kind of growth.
“It hasn’t grown greatly in numbers, but its certainly grown in the quality and scope in the town that we provide it.”
The continued growth of Catamount Arts is dependent on the community. “The sky is the limit really,” says Van Zandt. “We just have to see where the community takes us. We try to see what the community needs or wants and go from there.”
ST. JOHNSBURY— Following a dominant first win of the season against Vergennes High School, the St. Johnsbury Academy baseball team hosted its home opener Thursday afternoon against BFA- St. Albans.
Jack Moran, a junior making his varsity pitching debut, led his team to a 6-4 victory before a nice crowd.
ST.JOHNSBURY- The St.Johnsbury Public Safety building has been a fixture on main street since 1924. The building currently houses the Fire Department, Police Department, and Caledonia County dispatch center.
Fire Chief Troy Ruggles says the town built a great building in 1924 but it has outlived its usefulness and its current condition combined with its limited space has created challenges for the fire department. "It's inadequate in a variety of different ways, and structurally we've had issues with the floor. We have a poor ventilation system. On a day to day basis when we're doing maintenance many times, we have to pull the trucks outside. So this is a big challenge, but it's a challenge we've been dealing with for many years. "
SAINT JOHNSBURY - Melissa Robitille was in court again on Friday to hear her verdict in her case for manslaughter. In 2014, Robitille was accused of killing her son Issac, who is disabled, by allegedly pouring vodka into his feeding tube.
SAINT JOHNSBURY - For the very first time, the Saint Johnsbury Veterans of Foreign War's Auxilary hosted an indoor cornhole tournament for a fundraiser. The competition was put on to raise money for the various veterans programs as well as other organizations they donate money to.
St. Johnsbury- St. Johnsbury Police Department responded to a 911 call on Saturday at Champlain Farms on Railroad Street in St. Johnsbury. Police say a male subject strong-armed the store's clerk to the register and demanded money from the drawer.
ST. JOHNSBURY-Every Monday through Friday, the Saint Johnsbury Community Restorative Justice Center provides assistance and opportuinties for those who have broken the law. People who are charged with crimes have the opportunity to repair the harm that was done by their actions, both to the community, and to themselves. For the Executive Director of the Justice Center, this 8:30 AM - 4:30 job of helping the community isn't work; it's fun.
SAINT JOHNSBURY - A local school district claims to need more money for special education, but others are concerned the district may be incorrectly labeling students.
ST. JOHNSBURY - Members of the Northern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH) volunteer services provide help to patients suffering from illnesses.
SAINT JOHNSBURY - Gold Crown Lanes has been around for over fifty years. Fifty years is a lot of time to witness change in the sport or bowling. Many faces have passed through and upgrades have been made to the bowling alley during that time, but one thing has remained constant.
ST. JOHNSBURY— Coach Jack Driscoll and the Saint Johnsbury Academy girl’s basketball team will be playing their first playoff game tonight against Colchester High School.
The Lady Hilltoppers finished their season with an 18-2 record, earning the first seed for Vermont Division I High Schools for the first time in school history.
ST. JOHNSBURY - St. Johnsbury school board members may face a tough road ahead following town meeting day. The proposed $19.8 million school budget was rejected by voters forcing them back to the drawing board.
SAINT JOHNSBURY -- Saint Johnsbury voters will have three different articles to weigh in on during Town Meeting day. All three articles will be discussed, but each is very distinct from the next in nature. The first article asks for a 17.7 million dollar school budget, which is a 5.79 percent increase from last year's budget. The second article seeks that the management of funds be placed in the hands of the town rather than the district. The third article asks voters whether or not they would like to create a Capital Improvement Reserve Fund. The fund would aquire any money that is left over from the previous years budget, instead of having that amount be automatically put towards the next years budget.
ST. JOHNSBURY - Local fire departments have been responding to more fires than usual over the past couple of weeks. However, this is a common occurrence during the winter, since a common cause of these fires has been heating systems.
ST. JOHNSBURY- Bouakateh John Sayarath is a teacher and coach at St. Johnsbury Academy but what people might not know is that he is a refugee.
Sayarath grew up in Laos, which at the time was going through a civil war. During the war, he was separated from his family while fleeing his village.
SAINT JOHNSBURY - The Office of the Northeast Kingdom Council on Aging runs a program called the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). RSVP is coordinated by Karen Budde and it aims to provide support to residents aging 55 years and older.
SAINT JOHNSBURY - The Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH) is finalizing a year long change that will speed up services to those in need of emergency care.
ST. JOHNSBURY—The Northeast Kingdom is the home of many professional winter-sport athletes who spend the majority of their early lives outside in the snow perfecting their craft. St. Johnsbury native, Lincoln Lemieux, is no different— and his hard work is starting to pay off.
SAINT JOHNSBURY- One Northeast Kingdom coffee shop was recently named the "Coolest Coffee shop in Vermont". The Locally Social Coffee shop took the top spot on a list published by bestthingsvt.com.
ST JOHNSBURY - Although their sound may have stayed the same, the view for the Meteorologist at the Fairbanks Weather Center has changed dramatically.
The Eye on the Sky Weather Center has moved from its long time home in the basement of the Fairbanks Museum, to a different building next door, with a lot more light.
SAINT JOHNSBURY- Winter is in full swing in the Northeast Kingdom. Along with the pleasant scenery, skiing, ice fishing and countless other activities-- winter also brings an increase risk to motorists, especially when snow and ice are in the forecast.
SAINT JOHNSBURY - Retirement and other matters concerning the topic of aging, comes with a variety of different new challenges for individuals, one organization with locations in Saint Johnsbury, Hardwick, Island Pond, and Newport wants the community to know that they are there for every step of the way.
ST. JOHNSBURY- The Saint Johnsbury Fire Department are Santa's local helpers this year. The department is running a Santa Fund to help children in need by providing them with Christmas presents. Toy donation boxes have been set up all around the Northeast Kingdom including at the station and Passumpsic Savings Bank they will distrubute the toys on December 21st.
ST. JOHNSBURY - Changes could potentially be coming to local independent schools in the area, although many people are opposed to them. These changes include a need for an evaluation by a national accrediting entity to provide financial assurance, as well as the need of special education teachers at public schools and teaching license requirements at independent school.