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‘Life in Orleans County’ to Premiere at JSC


‘Life in Orleans County’ to Premiere at JSC

December 13, 2007

“Life in Orleans County,” a new video documentary produced by students at Johnson State College, will premiere at the college’s Bentley Hall auditorium, Thursday, December 13, at 2:30 p.m.

The film will also be shown the following day at the Barton Memorial Building, December 14, at 7 p.m.

“Life in Orleans County” is the third documentary produced by students in Professor/Senator Bill Doyle’s Vermont History and Government course at the college, in collaboration with videographer Vince Franke of Peregrine Productions.

The Orleans community will be featured in the 30-minute film describing life in the county during the first half of the 20th century. JSC students interviewed longtime residents and used local historical photographs, with the help of the Orleans Historical Society. The film includes stories of how people lived, farmed, and enjoyed themselves before electricity and modern life.

Two other similar documentaries produced during the past two years by Johnson State College students — “Life in Lamoille County” and “Life in Franklin County” – received wide critical acclaim.

Orleans County was named in honor of the Duke of Orleans in France because of his strong support for the American Revolution. Orleans County, where the rivers run north, is defined by agriculture (including logging, the maple industry and dairy farming); stunning scenery; deepwater, spring-fed lakes like Willoughby and Shadow Lake; mountains (including Jay Peak); and the long peaceful border with Canada, across which commerce flows over land and the waters of Lake Memphremagog. Capturing this history through history and photographs was the goal of the film project.

Professor Doyle, who is also a state senator, notes: “Students were enthusiastic about something that would provide a permanent history of the county, something that was bigger than themselves.”

Bill Doyle has taught at Johnson State College for 50 years, and has been in the Vermont Senate for 38 years, representing Washington County. His knowledge of government, politics and history is legendary in Vermont.

Johnson State College Academic Dean Dan Regan said: “‘Life in Orleans County’ is part of the college’s overall commitment to disseminating knowledge about our local region. All useful knowledge is local — the starting point for the largesse of mind we encourage at JSC.”

Orleans citizens interviewed in the film include: Chester Carpenter, Bob Clark, Rich Colburn, Yves Daigle, Ruth Damon, Paul Daniels, George Douglas, Emeline Harmon, Evelyn Page, Andy Pepin, John Miller, Horace Strong, Ralph Swett, and Eugene Webster.

Students who worked on the film documentary include: Jeremy Ayotte, Jonathan Bowser, Shannon Damon, Joe Hackenson, Joan Janzen, Jeff Lebrack, Lance McGrath, Jeremiah Melhuish, Kyle Saltzman, Christopher Tatro, Erik Tillberg, Cathleen Voyer, and Alexander Williams.

Background musical accompaniment for the film was provided by The Bobbin Mill Players, a group of local musicians who gather every Wednesday to play.

Film sponsors include: Chittenden Bank, Community National Bank, Union Bank, Passumpsic Savings Bank, Jay Peak Ski Resort, Rotary Club of Newport, Orleans Lions Club, Professor/Senator Bill Doyle, Senator Vincent Illuzzi, Senator Robert Starr, John Duffy, and Richard E. Wiley. Johnson State College and its Student Government Association also sponsored the project and raised funds to hire videographer Vince Franke to produce the film.

Free copies of the documentary will be given to all local schools, libraries, historical societies, and town offices in Orleans County.

Copies of the video ($15) will be available from the Orleans Historic Society, 109 Old Stone House Road, Brownington, VT 05860, tel. 802-754-2022.

DVD copies will be also sold at bookstores in the Newport area, the JSC Bookstore (802-635-1233), and at many town offices. Copies are also available online from Peregrine Productions, at (click on “store” to find the video).

For more information on where to purchase the new film, or the other two, “Life in Lamoille County” and “Life in Franklin County,” contact the JSC Office of Development and Alumni Relations by phone at 802-635-1251 or by email, or call Bill Doyle at 802-371-7898.