A Valley News Publication

A collection of Valley News reporting on the Quechee Gorge suicide issue in recent years

While enroute to Woodstock, Vt., bus tour participants stop at the Quechee Gorge in Quechee, Vt., to take a look on a foggy afternoon on October 9, 2015. (Valley News – Sarah Priestap) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Today: Vermont Agency of Transportation officials say they will be installing a temporary fence on both sides of the Quechee Gorge Bridge by the end of the summer as part of continuing suicide-prevention measures. … The recent death at the gorge marks four since January, Hartford Police Chief Phil Kasten said. … Federal, state and local officials continue to work on a long-term plan to make the Gorge safer, and they hope to have a permanent fix by means of a barrier wall or a net below the bridge by 2021-2022, said Kristin Higgins, the structures program manager at the state Agency of Transportation.

January 2018: A 22-year-old Hartford man died by suicide over the weekend at Quechee Gorge, the first such incident there in more than a year, Hartford police confirmed. … “We are eager to see improvements completed,” Hartford Police Chief Kasten said. “One life is one too many.”

July 2017: State transportation officials said they hope to secure federal funding by the end of the week to start designing suicide-prevention measures and other improvements at the Quechee Gorge Bridge.

July 2016: The day after police retrieved the body of a woman from Quechee Gorge, people who pushed for suicide prevention measures at the site questioned why the state didn’t take action by a July 1 deadline established by the Legislature.

March 2016: A call for action to prevent the loss of life at the Quechee Gorge Bridge, which has been the site of eight suicides since 2008, has been answered in legislation now awaiting the signature of Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin.

Click through for a text-version of this infographic about suicide prevention resources.

RELATED: The National Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255

Hold on to your ornithological binoculars bc it’s OWL FESTIVAL WEEKEND IN QUECHEE, Y’ALL

That’s. Right.

We know that you are all owl fans here at UV INDEX due to our unusually prevalent coverage of the Strigiformes, so you’re probably already done polishing your owl pins and headed to the dry cleaners to pick up your owl hats, but just in case you lost track of the date while catching up on all the latest owl news, let us remind you: Bigger than Coachella, bigger than Sundance, bigger than Oktoberfest … The Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) is hosting its annual Owl Festival on Saturday and Sunday. YEAH!

For a ticket price of $13 (ages 4-17 and 62+) to $15 (adults), you can …

  • Gather with live owls from all over the world
  • Hear their ~*~* life stories *~*~
  • Create crafts
  • Learn about current owl research and VINS owl rehab projects
  • Get yer face painted
  • Eat some food
  • Wear some costumes
  • AND MORE

VINS is located right off of Route 4 in Quechee.

Very devastatingly, I cannot make it to Owl Festival this weekend, because I have a prior commitment to do boring adult stuff. If you go, let me know what you thought — and maybe send a pic or two! — at mcassidy@vnews.com.

A barred owl is photographed in Epping, N.H., in March 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Casey)

Read the documents: Original permit stipulates Lake Pinneo should be open to public

Jeff Waters, of Woodstock, Vt., plays with his one-year-old daughter, Amara, at Lake Pinneo in Quechee, Vt., on May 18, 2015. (Valley News – Sarah Priestap) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Places to swim have been a big topic in Hartford lately, with the announcement that Sherman Manning Pools (the public pool on the Hartford High School campus) will close this summer, and possibly be permanently decommissioned after that.

Now, reporter Matt Hongoltz-Hetling has dug up some documents related to Lake Pinneo.

The Quechee Lakes Landowners Association, which had the lake constructed in 1974, has prohibited public access since 2015. Yet according to the state records, the permit to build lake was based in part on the premise that all Hartford residents would be allowed to swim, fish and boat there for a modest fee.

The following PDF is the decision from the Vermont Water Resources Board in May 1974 in response to Quechee Lakes’ application to construct Lake Pinneo.

Quechee Lakes was required to get this approval from the Water Resources Board as part of its larger Act 250 application.

  • Under item 7, C, the board took into consideration the effects on recreational values and found that “with the construction of a recreational lake and beach area, open to use by residents of the Town of Hartford for boating, swimming and fishing, recreational values will be enhanced.”
  • Under item 7, K, the board considered that the public benefits of the lake would be “substantially increased recreational facilities for the residents of the Town of Hartford who will be permitted to use the lake upon payment of a maintenance charge.”

 

The following PDF is the Act 250 permit awarded to Quechee Lakes in June 1974.

The 11th condition includes an item that says “all residents of the Town of Hartford will be eligible to use the lake, probably with a minimum registration fee.”

 

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