Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Molest suspect charged

A Williston father was supposed to be listed on Vermont's sex offender registry -- but wasn't -- before he was accused of fondling a 13-year-old girl inside his home Monday, according to public safety officials. Robert Kolibas, 50, was required to register with the state's sex offender registry when he moved to Vermont. Kolibas is a registered sex offender in Florida. Kolibas pleaded not guilty to charges of lewd and lascivious conduct on Monday in Vermont District Court. According to police, Kolibas gave the girl a drug-laced smoothie during a sleepover at his home. In court papers, the girl told investigators she woke and said Kolibas was touching her "underneath" her clothes and took pictures of her while he touched her.

Reward offered

Beauchamp and O'Rourke pharmacy is offering a $1,000 reward for tips leading to the arrest and conviction of a man who tried to rob the store at knifepoint last week. The man who tried to rob the pharmacy last Wednesday morning left empty-handed when Beauchamp and another employee chased him away.

Plea deal

A judge is considering a plea deal for one of four men charged in a chase resulting in the death of a police dog. 22 year old Mark Hunter pleaded guilty yesterday in Rutland District Court to possession of stolen property. Hunter was initially charged with crimes that carry a 20-year maximum. The lesser charge will probably result in a 3 year sentence. Judge Thomas Zonay will have to approve the deal in which Hunter is sentenced to 39 to 40 months and forfeits half the $2,325 seized from him at his arrest. Hunter is one of four men whom police say fled the scene of a nonfatal shooting in Leicester last year, stopping in Mendon to steal a vehicle in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to evade police. In the course of the chase, a State Police cruiser hit and killed a police dog. Charges are still pending against the other three.

Missing woman

A 21-year-old woman with family in Richmond is still missing and officials fear she may have been the victim of foul play. Richmond Police say Amanda Gale checked into a motel in DuBois, Pa., on June 13 and that blood was found in Gale's motel room. Gale is described as 5-feet 4-inches tall, 125 pounds, brown eyes and brown haircut above the shoulder with blonde highlights. If you have any information, please contact your local police department or Senior Police Officer Sarah Messier at 802-434-2153.

Data mining suit

So-called data-mining companies that collect information about the drugs doctors prescribe asked an appeals court Tuesday to stop Vermont from enacting a law next week restricting their work. IMS Health Inc., Verispan LLC and Source Healthcare Analytics Inc., told the judges that information gathered by the companies is noncommercial speech protected by the First Amendment. The companies gather electronic information on drugs ordered by doctors for their patients and sell that information to pharmaceutical companies. In court papers, they said they also publish unique reports -- "a form of specialized news reporting" -- showing which doctors prescribe which medications most frequently.

Vt yankee leak

Entergy Nuclear officials say power has been reduced at Vermont Yankee while technicians try to find a leak and stop river water from coming into the plant's cooling system. Yesterday, the plant's power output was reduced to 26 percent. Last year, a report commissioned by the state found that the plant was putting off needed fixes to its condensers until it gets a decision on whether it will be allowed to operate past 2012.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wallingford zoning changes

Zoning and subdivision regulations approved by officials in Wallingford will become effective next month. The Wallingford Select Board approved the new regulations this week in a public hearing. The amended zoning rules represent the first update since 1989. Selectman Frank Bruce voted against the regulations, saying that zoning is a deterrent to business. The revised zoning and subdivision regulations will take effct on July 6.

Tree down on Rte. 7

A Vermont driver on Route 7 in Shelburne narrowly escaped serious injury from a falling tree. The tree came crashing down on the hood of the car. Power lines were brought down and Route 7 was briefly closed, backing up traffic for about a half mile. The car was towed, power was restored, and the tree met its end in a wood chipper. All things considered, not a bad end to the afternoon.

Child molest suspect charged

A Williston father who is also a registered sex offender in Florida has been accused of inappropriately touching a 13-year old girl. 50-year old Robert Kolibas pleaded not guilty to charges that he drugged the girl, then touched her while she slept during a sleepover with one of his children. Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan said Kolibas mixed a sedative in a smoothie and gave the girl the drink. The victim told police she woke up and caught Kolibas touching her "underneath" her clothes and said Kolibas took pictures of her while he touched her. Investigators have seized four computers and three cameras from his home and believe there could be other victims. He's being held without bail.

Rutland budget battle

The budget battle continues in City Hall this week, with aldermen trying to save the jobs of three employees who have already been told their positions in the city are being eliminated. On Friday, Mayor Christopher Louras said those positions can't be saved.
Louras reminded the board that the charter doesn't allow them to increase budget line items. The salary and health-care lines don't enough money for the three positions, and the mayor down't have the authority to transfer funds from other accounts.

Work at home scam

A Rutland woman's attempt to earn extra money almost put her in the middle of an international scam. Fortunately, Vicky Corsones recognized the scam before she lost any money, but she said she wants to warn others before they get involved. It started with an online ad for a payment processing job. The details of the job were vague until she received an e-mail message supposedly from a British firm explaining that she would be expected to cash checks from the company's customers, then forward the money, minus her cut. When she received a pair of money orders in the mail, Corsones said she was tempted, until common sense intervened. Instead of cashing the money orders as instructed, she went to police. Rutland Police Sgt. John Sly said the fakes looked almost real and notified the post office. The scam has been tried in various forms around the country for some time, but the result is always the same - people who cash the checks find out later they were bogus and are left having to pay back the money.

Land debeloper killed in crash

A well-known land developer from Bradford was killed in a head-on car crash Friday night. Police said 68-year-old George Huntington crossed the center line on Route 68 in Berlin and crashed into an oncoming car. Five people in the other car were airlifted to a hospital for serious injuries. Police say the crash remains under investigation.

EMT funeral

Dozens of emergency and rescue vehicles, some draped in black, took part in a funeral procession this weekend for a Bennington paramedic who died last week when his ambulance hit a tree. Some 500 people turned out for services for Dale Long.

Prankster charged

A Rutland County woman is facing minor charges after pulling a prank that may have led to her friend's death. 42-year-old Denise Moyer is charged with putting eyedrops into 49-year-old Marcie Jones' drink. Jones died two days later. Moyer reportedly got the idea from a movie in which ingesting eyedrops made one character sick. In reality, that can damage the lungs and nervous system. The medical examiner could not prove the eye drops played a role in Jones' death, so Moyer is not facing more severe charges.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Vermont foreclosures

Vermont foreclosure rates were up for the first five months of this year, but a state official says the state did better than most others. May foreclosures were up about 10 percent from one year ago. Just the same, Vermont is improving in several surveys. Thomas Candon of the Department of Banking, Insurance Securities and Health Care Administration says Vermont took a hit in January and February when lenders' moratoriums on foreclosures expired. He said the state has seen a "two-month trend" of declining foreclosures but it's too soon to say the trend will continue.

Trucker sentenced

A Vermont truck driver has been sentenced in the death of a woman killed by his rig as he was hauling tombstones through Pennsylvania over last year's Memorial Day weekend. Peter Carrara, of North Clarendon, Vt., will spend from to one to five years behind bars. His attorney acknowledged that Carrera was on meth when his truck hit a car it was passing. Carrara made a tearful apology to the victim's family before he was sentenced. The defense argued the victim contributed to the crash by turning left into Carrara's path after signaling that she was turning right.

Strawberry season

Late June is fresh strawberry season in Vermont. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture says locally grown berries are ripe and ready to enjoy.

Lourie Mazza of Mazza Farm in Colchester says it's a beautiful year for strawberries. She's reporting a bumper crop in size, color and flavor.

The agriculture agency says shoppers should choose strawberries that are bright red with fresh green caps.

Strawberries do not continue to ripen after they've been picked, so consumers shouldn't buy berries that are partly white and unripe.

Vermont has 90 strawberry producers who grow almost 2 million pounds of berries a year.

Vermont unemloyment - May figures

Vermont is one of just two states that emerged from last month without an increase in unemployment. Labor Commissioner Patricia Moulton Powden says May was the second month in a row where job and employment losses stayed level, after the job losses of fourth quarter 2008 and early 2009. Vermont’s rate held at 7.3 percent. Nebraska was the only other state that didn't report rises in joblessness. Vermont’s construction industry grew by 2.3 percent. There was some bad news mixed with the good - Rutland had the highest May unemployment rate. The state's biggest job losses were in manufacturing and the leisure and hospitality sector.

May unemployment in Vermont

Vermont is one of just two states that emerged from last month without an increase in unemployment. Labor Commissioner Patricia Moulton Powden says May was the second month in a row where job and employment losses stayed level, after the job losses of fourth quarter 2008 and early 2009. Vermont’s rate held at 7.3 percent. Nebraska was the only other state that didn't report rises in joblessness. Vermont’s construction industry grew by 2.3 percent. There was some bad news mixed with the good - Rutland had the highest May unemployment rate. The stat's biggest job losses were in manufacturing and the leisure and hospitality sector.

Memorial car wash

Friends and family of a teenager who died of alcohol poisoning hope some good come from the tragedy, and held a benefit car wash was held in his memory over the weekend. Chris Blais was a 19-year-old graduate of Otter Valley Union High School when he died last November. He's remembered as a good man who made a mistake, and those he left behind hope others can learn from it. Friends of Chris Blais plan to donate the proceeds from the car wash to the Otter Valley football program and the local food shelf.

Death penalty appeal denied

A federal appeals court has rejected the latest appeal by a man on death row for kidnapping and killing a North Clarendon woman in 2000. 29-year-old Donald Fell lost his initial appeal last year before a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Fell's attorney then asked for a review of the sentence by the full court. That appeal was denied. Fell was convicted in 2005 of kidnapping and killing 53-year-old Terry King of North Clarendon. He is the first man sentenced to death in Vermont in 50 years. The case is unusual in that it involves a Federal death penalty case in a state without a death penalty. Fell's next appeal would likely be to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cow burps and global warming

Vermont dairy farmers have changed their cows' diet to reduce the amount of gas the animals burp. Apparently, cow burps contribute to global warming. Fifteen Vermont farms are working to reduce the cows' intestinal methane by giving them feeds that are high in Omega 3 fatty acids. You may be glad to know that according to research, most of the gas emitted by a cow comes from its front end and not the rear. Stonyfield Farm's Nancy Hirschberg learned from the makers of Dannon products that diet is the key to the mystery. One of the farms has reduced its cows' belches by 13 percent since January.