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Readsboro Rollover Blamed on Slick Roads, Speed

Staff Reports

READSBORO, Vt. — A Florida, Mass., man was able to walk away uninjured after his sport utility vehicle rolled over on Saturday evening.

Cody Laframboise, 19, told state police he was southbound in his 2004 Dodge Durango on Route 8, heading for Route 100, when the rear end of his vehicle lost traction, spinning the vehicle into the opposite lane.

When the rear wheels caught traction again, they sent the vehicle spinning back into its lane. Laframboise told state police he could not gain control of the vehicle. It veered off the southbound lane, went over an embankment and rolled onto its roof.

The accident occurred about 6 p.m. Trooper Justin Walker responded to the scene near the Readsboro and Searsburg town line.

Laframboise was not injured. The SUV incurred heavy damage to the passenger side and is considered totaled.

The road conditions were slippery, with a thin layer of slush and ice. Walker found that both road conditions and speed were a factor in the crash, which is still under investigation.


Firefighters' Quick Response Saves Readsboro Home

Staff Reports
iBerkshires Staff
Fire Chief Adam Codogni, left, coordinates the response a woodstove fire on Route 100.

READSBORO, Vt. — A quick — and overwhelming — response to woodstove fire on Tuesday afternoon saved a local family's home.

"It went up to the second floor, we didn't use hardly any water," said Fire Chief Adam Codogni. "Got it all with fire extinguishers and water cans.

"It was very clean and neat."

The call came around 3 p.m. from the home at 2045 Route 100, near the intersection at Old Country Lane, as Readsboro Volunteer Fire Department called for mutual aid backup from surrounding towns. Stamford, Wilmington and Whitingham, and Clarksburg, Mass., sent trucks and personnel. North Adams Ambulance Service also sent an ambulance and the rehab trailer.

"The second alarm brings a lot of manpower and you need it," Codogni said. "It's during the day and everybody's working. We all came from work."

The fire from the first-floor woodstove went up the wall and slightly into the second floor above it. Temperatures were frigid as firefighters contained the blaze within the structure and opened the windows to air it out.

The family will not be able to return to the building immediately, Codogni said. "They have to get an electrician in there. They have burnt wires and we've got the power off."

Family members acted promptly in calling the Fire Department and getting safely out of the building.

"They're very lucky the called it in as quick as they did," he said. "They all got out and stayed out. They did a good job."


Vermont Principal Charged With Stealing Lunch Money

Staff Reports
Michael W. Heller is charged with embezzling from Readsboro School.

READSBORO, Vt. — The principal of Readsboro Central School has been charged with stealing kids' lunch money.

Michael W. Heller, 40, of Fairfax, turned himself into state police on Monday after an investigation into missing funds at the school. He has been charged with petit larceny, forgery and embezzlement related to the misuse of more than $4,000 in grant funds and $200 in student lunch money.

Windham Southwest Supervisory Union Superintendent Richard McClements contacted state police on Dec. 19 after a financial audit discovered funds were missing. According to state police, the superintendent's office as well as the Readsboro School Board suspected the school's principal was misappropriating funds.

During his two-year tenure, said state police, Heller had applied for and received grant money for school-related items that he used for hotels, meals and shopping.

When questioned by the School Board, Heller submitted self-manufactured lists of transactions in an attempt to cover his illegal activities, said state police.

During the investigation, state police also interviewed the principal's secretary, who reported an ongoing theft of children's lunch money.  Police say they have sufficient evidence that showed Heller was responsible for taking approximately $200 over a period of time, for his own use, instead of handing it in for the students' lunches.

Heller was processed and released on conditions that include an initial appearance date on Jan. 27 in Vermont District Court in Bennington.


Vermont Man Goes Missing During Journey to Texas

Staff Reports
READSBORO, Vt. — Police are looking for a local man who failed to arrive at his destination in Texas.
Family members contacted police on Thursday, Oct. 26, about Merton J. Powers, 76, of Main Street, who had been expected in Texas by that time. 
Powers was last seen near McKay's Auto in Brattleboro operating a silver 2006 Suzuki Forenza bearing Texas registration JNL863. He told the relative that he was heading to Texas, where he has family, according to Detective Sgt. Tyler Burgess.
Powers reportedly left the area between Oct. 3 and Oct. 5 and has not been in contact with family since. The concerned family member indicated that Powers reported medical issues that may cause him to become confused and disoriented. 
Powers is described as a white male, white hair, blue eyes, and approximately 5-foot-4 feet tall, 145 pounds and wears glasses. 
Anyone with any information on Powers is asked to contact the Shaftsbury Barracks at 802-442-5421.

Vermont Men Held on Sexual Assault Charges

Staff Reports

READSBORO, Vt. — A local man is being held with two other men on charges of sexual assault of a minor.

Jonathan Deblois, 21, of Readsboro is being held at Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield after being charged with sexual assault, lewd and lascivious conduct with a child and furnishing alcohol.

State police say that a 14-year-old girl broke into the Wardsboro Highway Department in the early morning hours of Tuesday, July 23, called 911 and reported she had been assaulted in the town of Wilmington by three men.

She was transported for treatment to Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, where a detective trooper interviewed her and confirmed that the alleged assault had occurred in Wilmington.

A joint investigation with Wilmington Police led authorities to an East Main Street residence, where Dennis Pike Jr. resided, and a search warrant was executed.

Pike, 26, and Codie Johnson, 20, of Jacksonville were also both charged with sexual assault, lewd and lascivious conduct with a child and furnishing alcohol. They were both taken to Southern State for lack of bail.

Deblois and Pike are being held on $10,000 bail; Johnson on $5,000.

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