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Lowell Mountain protesters prepare for court

NEWPORT, VT – The protesters who were arrested on Lowell Mountain Dec. 5 are due in court Tuesday, Dec. 20, for arraignment at 8:30 AM. The protesters are calling for supporters to meet in front of the courthouse at 7:50 Tuesday morning to show support.

Protesters are urging others on their blog, Mountain Talk on World Press, to bring signs and plan on singing the Vermont song, “These Green Mountains.”

“In the courtroom, we have a platform from which to make our case about uncounted environmental costs, corporate capture of the regulatory process, and the disputed property,” a protester wrote on the blog.

On Dec. 5, six protesters were arrested for criminal trespass. The group was on Green Mountain Power’s (GMP) crane path, which is located on disputed land. Shirley and Don Nelson, adjacent landowners, claim it as theirs, while Trip Wileman, the landowner leasing to GMP, says it’s his.

The protesters were blocking construction vehicles and were asked to leave but they stood their ground.

Chris Braithwaite, publisher of the Barton Chronicle, was present to cover the protest. He had not asked GMP for permission to be on their property and he was also asked to leave by police. Braithwaite did not leave and so he was arrested with the protesters. All seven were brought to the state police barracks in Derby for processing and were then released.

Braithwaite, in an interview later that day, said that he could not do his job properly and cover the arrests if he left the property.

GMP spokespeople say that visitors may go to the site if they ask permission, go through safety training, and wear safety gear such as a hard hat.

In this week’s Chronicle, under reporter’s notebook, Braithwaite wrote that GMP officials have said that when he wants to visit the site he just needs to call and someone will bring him safety gear, even if he chooses to walk up the mountain path to the east. Meanwhile, work continues on the construction of 21 industrial size wind turbines on the Lowell Mountain Ridge line despite the delays caused by protesters.

Four turbine pad areas are nearly completed. Electrical contractors are installing conduit for underground electric power on top of the mountain. The crane path work continues, as well as work on the storm water systems.

New poles are being set for the transmission line and wire is being prepared to be pulled along Route 100 between Lowell and Westfield. Work along the roadside is expected to be completed on time, according to Dorothy (Dotty) Schnure, spokesperson with GMP.

GMP maintains that the work will be done by December 2012. The project must be on line by then in order to qualify for federal production tax credits.