Saturday, April 26, 2014

Public Notice of Petition and Public Meeting for Berlin Pond

The folks who want to close off the Berlin Pond to public access are at it again.
They want no public access at all.  No fishing, no migratory bird hunting. 
This issued was already decided by the Vermont Supreme Court, using the
Vermont Sportsmen's Bill of Rights but the antis are back again. 
Public comments possible via link in said quote below.  Just say "Yes, to public
on the Berlin Pond" 

Please see the attached notice of petition and public meeting for Berlin Pond received from Citizens to Protect Berlin Pond to amend the Vermont Use of Public Waters Rules' Use of Public Lake-Specific Rules pertaining to Berlin Pond, in the Town of Berlin, to prohibit recreational use of the surface waters of Berlin Pond.  Please submit any comments regarding this petition by June 3, 2014.
April 25, 2014 
The Watershed Management Division of the Vermont Department of Environmental 
Conservation (the Department) received a petition from Citizens to Protect Berlin Pond to 
amend the Vermont Use of Public Waters Rules' Use of Public Lake-Specific Rules pertaining 
to Berlin Pond in the Town of Berlin to prohibit recreational use of the surface water of Berlin 
The Department received the petition on February 6, 2014. The Department is currently 
considering this petition and seeking public comments. A complete copy of the petition and 
supplemental materials are available for review at the Vermont Department of Environmental 
Conservation in Montpelier and on the Department's webpage at 
Public Waters Rules can also be found on the Department's webpage at 
A public meeting will be held to hear public comments on the petition on Tuesday, May 
27, 2014 at the Berlin Elementary School Library, 372 Paine Turnpike North, Berlin, Vermont, 
from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Written comments on the petition will be accepted at the address 
below until the close of the public comment period on June 3, 2014. Comments may also be 
faxed to (802) 828-1544 or e-mailed to All comments received by the 
above date will be considered in the formulation of the determination. 
Department of Environmental Conservation 
One National Life Drive, Main 2 
Montpelier, VT 05620-3522 
Attention: Laura Woods 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sen. Joe Benning: Senate Perspectives "Lawyers, Guns and Money"

Senator Joe Benning is a Republican and the Senate Minority Party Leader.
He is Vice-chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs worked hard to get H.735 into what
Sen. Benning describes emerged from Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday
In today's Caledonian-Record:
Sen. Joe Benning: Senate Perspectives
"Lawyers, Guns and Money"
The concept was simple enough. Somebody claimed judges issuing relief from abuse orders refused to turn weapons over to police due to a lack of storage space. Thus H.735, the so-called "fee bill," would establish a fee to create more space. The bill arrived in the Senate Finance committee with two sentences about a fee charged for each weapon stored. Unfortunately, it also included four pages of judicial policy and procedure that stripped away constitutional rights by automatically requiring placement of all weapons in state custody. Judicial policy is not the realm of Senate Finance; it's the realm of Senate Judiciary. As vice-chair of Senate Judiciary, my antenna went up.
I am not a gun owner or a member of the NRA. However, I have thirty years practicing law in relief from abuse and domestic assault cases, having represented both perpetrators and victims. I'm a charter member of the Caledonia County Task Force on Domestic Violence and the immediate past chair of Vermont's Human Rights Commission.
Relief from abuse cases begin when someone files a petition alleging abuse. The accused has no notice and is not present in court. If approved, a temporary order is issued which can lead to a defendant's weapons being removed. The court is supposed to hold a final hearing within ten days at which the accused is present, but this can get continued for various reasons, such as parties trying to retain a lawyer. Presently, no fees are charged.
While all domestic violence cases involve power and fear, the level of violence, the threat of future violence and the level of a victim's fear can vary dramatically in each case. Judges are traditionally vested with the responsibility and authority to fashion final orders to fit the circumstances of each case. Under H.735, that judicial discretion is severely curtailed. An accused's property is turned over to the state, for a fee, whether they are guilty or not. In a case involving numerous weapons, that fee could add up to thousands of dollars before the accused has had their day in court. This diminishes those constitutional protections that have served us all since 1791.
So Senate Judiciary recommended allowing judges the discretion to place weapons with an agreed upon third party. That party would sign an affidavit acknowledging receipt and accepting responsibility, under threat of contempt, to keep those weapons from the defendant until that defendant's due process rights are fulfilled. The judge would have to be convinced the plaintiff would be safe. In the event the weapons are placed with law enforcement, there would be no fee charged until after a full merits hearing. Language in the final order would require automatic return of weapons upon expiration of the order, thus eliminating the need for yet another hearing. Hopefully this strikes a proper balance between the needs of the victim and the rights of the accused. If our proposed language does not survive, some future defendant will no doubt spend lots of money on a lawyer to get their guns back.
Sen. Joe Benning, of Lyndonville, serves the Caledonia-Orange District in the Vermont Senate.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Why All Shooters/Outdoor Sporting Folks need our Vermont Sportsmen's Bill of Rights

All during Burlington attacking our Vermont Sportsmen's Bill of Rights
the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs has telling the shooting/
outdoor sporting of the danger to more than gun rights.
Attached is the City of Montpelier continuing the battle that they lost in
the Vermont Supreme Court.  A battle won in large part to our Vermont
Sportsmen's Bill of Rights.  24 VSA Section 2295. 
For years the City of Montpelier banned public access to the Berlin Pond.
A open body of water, owned by the public, and located completely in the
Town of Berlin.  Montpelier police officers would arrest anyone caught on
the pond fishing or migratory bird hunting. 
They arrested Rick Sanborn, owner of R&L Archery, who went onto to the
pond in a paddle craft to challenge Montpelier's enforcement.  The
Washington County State's Office refused to prosecute the case.  So,
Montpelier sued Rick Sanborn for being on the Berlin Pond. 
The Barre F&G Club and the VFSC donated funds to the legal case.
In summary, the legal battle ended up in the Vermont Supreme Court and
Sanborn's attorney cited the Vermont Sportsmen's Bill of Rights as barring
Montpelier from this nonsense.  Rick Sanborn won.
Rick Sanborn then sued Montpelier and the case was recently settled. 
For those who think the VFSC's fight to protect our Vermont Sportsmen's
Bill of Rights was only about guns or only about Burlington, this is why
the Vermont Sportsmen's Bill of Rights is so important and must be
This law protects gun ownership, shooting, hunting, shooting ranges, fishing
and trapping.  It is the statutory law that defends your rights and property.
By the way, last year the City of Montpelier tried to get the Town of Berlin to
ban fishing shanties because the shanties could be used by terrorists.  No
kidding, Montpelier made this case to the Berlin Select Board.
Stand with the VFSC in defending our Vermont Sportsmen's Bill of Rights.

FYI.  Looks like this will get interesting.
Evan Hughes
Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs