Thursday, October 29, 2009

Worry About Costumes, Not Flu

Rather than worry about the swine flu this weekend, most in the area are worried about what they'll where for a Halloween Costume. State Epidemiologist Patsy Kelso tells WCAX TV that people should go out on Saturday night.

"We're not at all recommending that people stay indoors or stay away from others."

Parents say they're not worried. They'll keep their kids safe from the flu just like they keep them safe from ghosts and goblins. But Kelso says but if you do feel flu symptoms, turn your porch light off to detract from Trick or Treaters and do stay inside.

Crowd Calls for Budget Cuts to be Cut

Plattsburgh State University could be looking at a nearly $2 million dollar cut into its budget. When New York Governor David Paterson said he would cut 90 million dollars from higher education in the state, students at Plattsburgh State University voiced their opposition. The crowd chanted as it protested, "Hey, hey, ho, ho. Budget cuts have got to go!" Paterson had already said there would be tuition increases, and now says the budget cuts are unavoidable. Students and faculty say "SUNY" cannot afford more budget cuts on top of the tuition increases that are taken by the state for budget deficits. Paterson slashed more than $148 million from SUNY in 2008 and also kept 90 percent of the revenues generated from a $620 tuition increase. This year, the state is keeping 80 percent of the revenues generated from that tuition hike.

200 Show Up to Talk Bridge

Around 200 people filled the Addison Central School gym this week to plead for a new lake crossing near the now-closed Champlain Bridge. It's a job they said New York and Vermont transportation officials should have accomplished several days ago. Transportation officials from both states though could not do anything to calm the upset crowd. Many of those in attendance have been contending with 100-mile detours through Whitehall, N.Y., or waits for ferry service since the Champlain Bridge closed on Oct. 16 due to substantial erosion found in two of the 80-year-old span’s 11 concrete piers.

Peru Schools Closed Today

If you go to the Peru Schools and you don't have the swine flu, you won't be going to school today. The district is closed because of the high number of faculty and staff who do have some sort of illness. It's the first North Country school to cancel classes because of the flu that's going around. State and local officials say the swine flu is the only flu going around right now.

Shoemaker Enters Not Guilty Plea in Miller Death

The prime suspect in the strangulation death of Ravin Miller has pleaded not guilty.
Kathryn Shoemaker did not say anything during her brief court appearance in Plattsburgh Town Court yesterday. Her attorney, Allan Cruikshank, entered the plea on her behalf. At the request of District Attorney Andrew Wylie, she was then sent back to Clinton County Jail without bail. Shoemaker was charged with second-degree murder this week, more than two months after Miller was found dead in his Churubusco home.

Man Pleads Not Guilty to Crash

A bus driver who police say caused a massive pile up on Interstate 89 pled not guilty.
WCAX TV reports that 74-year-old Deane Harrington of Roxbury was arraigned on a misdemeanor count of negligent operation. Police say in May he fell asleep while driving a Green Mountain Transit Agency bus and the bus plowed through several cars before stopping in the median. Harrington pled not guilty, No one was hurt in the crash.

Emotional Meeting in Port Henry Over Closed Bridge

Yet another community held another meeting about the Lake Champlain Bridge closing and this one in Port Henry, New York was an emotional one.

"Take over our lives so that we lose our jobs! We're human beings for christsake!. We pay so much money for infrastructure that's reliable!"

Many people at the meeting shared her sentiments and they yelled at DOT officials to do something about the bridge closure. DOT says it is offering free ferries and busses to get people across the lake. They also say they're listening to the pleas of the people and monitoring the situation

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Woman Charged with Murder

A woman who had ties to Ravin Miller has been charged with his murder. The Press Republican reports that 33 year old Kathryn A. Shoemaker of Chateaugay was taken into custody by New York State Police late Tuesday night and charged with second-degree murder. Capt. Robert LaFountain, who heads the Troop B Bureau of Criminal Investigation, said that Shoemaker and Miller were acquaintances but declined to elaborate on their relationship. He would only say that the did know each other. Police also would not say why Miller was killed.

Businesses Losing Money Because of Bridge Closure

Businesses such as the Bridge Restaurant and the West Addison General Store are just two examples of several Addison County businesses that are being affected negatively by the closing of the Lake Champlain Bridge. Denton Publications reports that local farmers are beginning to feel the pain of facing either a 100-mile overland detour or a crowded trip on a hastily assembled ferry flotilla. In some cases, ferries may not be able to accommodate heavy equipment.

People Demand States Fix Bridge Problem

People in both Vermont and New York are demanding that the states put back the corridor that was lost when the Champlain Bridge was closed. At a meeting with residents in Addison County Vermont accused the state of dragging its feet to get the bridge reopened. About 150 people attended the meeting put on by the Vermont Agency on Transportation in Addison County. it was held to let people know what's going on with bridge repairs. Most of the crowd expressed its disappointment that the bridge was closed Business owners say they're losing customers because they rely on the bridge to bring people to them.

Free Shuttle To Ferries

Free shuttle service for commuters impacted by the Champlain Bridge closure begins today. The Chittenden County Transportation Authority in Vermont, and Essex County Public Transportation in New York, will run a new line down to the Essex, Charlotte ferry crossing. The CCTA shuttle service will run from the Charlotte ferry to downtown Burlington and Fletcher Allen Health Care. It will make a stop in Shelburne by request only. The Essex County Public Transportation will have a similar shuttle service.

Shuttle to the Ferry

Free shuttle service for commuters impacted by the Champlain Bridge closure begins today. The Chittenden County Transportation Authority in Vermont, and Essex County Public Transportation in New York, will run a new line down to the Essex, Charlotte ferry crossing. The CCTA shuttle service will run from the Charlotte ferry to downtown Burlington and Fletcher Allen Health Care. It will make a stop in Shelburne by request only. The Essex County Public Transportation will have a similar shuttle service.

Flu Likely in Every School

Nearly half of Peru Middle and High School students were out sick Tuesday. It's unknown how many of the absences are connected with H1N1, commonly known as swine flu, as illness continues to have a major impact on area schools. School districts throughout Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties have been hit with higher-than-normal absentee rates over the past couple of weeks. Many of the absences are due to the flu, and health officials say H1N1 is likely in every school.

Woman Charged With Second Degree Murder

A woman who had ties to Ravin Miller has been charged with his murder. The Press Republican reports that 33 year old Kathryn A. Shoemaker of Chateaugay was taken into custody by New York State Police late Tuesday night and charged with second-degree murder. Capt. Robert LaFountain, who heads the Troop B Bureau of Criminal Investigation, said that Shoemaker and Miller were acquaintances but declined to elaborate on their relationship. He would only say that the did know each other. Police also would not say why Miller was killed.

First H1N1 Death Reported in VT; Vaccine Lost

State health officials confirmed yesterday that Vermolnt has had its first death from the H1N1 virusl.. The Burlington Free Press reports that health officials would not release any details of the person who diedbut to say it was an adult with a serioud underlying medical condition. Dr. Wendy Davis also said 800 doses of the H1N1 vaccine were lost over the weekend due to a malfunctioning refrigeration unit at one of the Health Department's 12 regional offices. She said quote -- "This loss was extremely concerning to all of us at the health department."

Business Hurt By Bridge Closure

Businesses such as the Bridge Restaurant and the West Addison General Store are just two examples of several Addison County businesses that are being affected negatively by the closing of the Lake Champlain Bridge. Denton Publications reports that local farmers are beginning to feel the pain of facing either a 100-mile overland detour or a crowded trip on a hastily assembled ferry flotilla. In some cases, ferries may not be able to accommodate heavy equipment.

Bridge Masy be Closed 'Til Spring

This is not something you want to hear...The Lake Champlan Bridge may not open until spring. That's from the New York Transportation Department. Engineer Robert Dennison says it was too riskly to keep using the bridge. Dennison went to that meeting in Addison County and said lots of people would be stranded were there no ferries to take them from one side fo the lake to the other.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Agri-Mark Pays Dairy Farmers $2M

Agri-Mark made $2 million in payments last week to its dairy farm members who continue to struggle with the lowest milk prices in 30 years. The Times Argos reports that the 1,300 members of the dairy cooperative each received a check that averaged $1,500, or $1 per hundredweight, based on one month's milk production. It's the second round of checks sent out by Agri-Mark this year and the payments represent an advance on the cooperative's year-end profit sharing distributed to its members in New York and New England. Of Agri-Mark's 1,300 farmer members, 300 are in Vermont.

Free H1N1 Clinics Canceled

All free H1N1 flu shot clinics at Rutland schools that were scheduled for this week have been postponed until November. The Rutland Herals reports that vaccines are in short supply and, the Vermont Department of Health's website quote -- "we regret having to delay some clinics. National production delays mean only a limited amount of vaccine - far less than we had hoped and planned for - is available right now for schools, health care provider offices, hospitals and home health agencies. This will change over the next several weeks." Of the 49 school clinics scheduled for this week statewide, the website says 19 have been.

FairPoint Files for Bankruptcy

Fairpoint has filed for bankruptcy just 18 months after buying Verizon's Northern New England's assets for 2.3 million dollars. The Burlington Free Press reports that FairPoints bankruptcy could clear away some of the commitments the company made to the state when the sale was approved. Some of those commitments include expansion of boroadband service in rural New England and throws a shadow of doubt on why Fairpoint's certificate of public good should not be taken away.

Police Investigate Two Area Robberies

Police are looking in the a Swanton area for a bank robber, and they think he could be connected to other robberies in the area. WPTZ TV reports that police said the Chittenden Bank on Canada Street in Swanton was robbed at about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. A second robbery was reported by police in Brattleboro Tuesday morning. A surveillance image of that robbery was also released.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Man Busted for Sunday Robbery

Rutland City Police arrested a man in connection with a robbery at the Go Go Mart on Grove Street Sunday night. They said they have 27 year old Barry McPhee-Loyzelle of Rutland, in custody and he was in Rutland District Court yesterday. Police said they got the call from the store shortly before 8 p.m. and a police dog followed a trail to McPhee-Loyzelle on Crescent Street. Police said a clerk estimated $30 to $40 was taken, but no money was recovered..

PSU Looking at $4M Deficit

Plattsburgh State University would have to cut nearly 70 positions to wipe out a multi-million-dollar budget deficit. The Press Republican reports that the school could up tuition nearly 700 dollars more. University officials say the school will be negatively affected. Vice President for Administration John Homburger said quote -- “We are going to be smaller and hopefully, we will come out of it stronger, but that is very difficult to see right now. It hinges so much on making the right decisions.” Plattsburgh State is faced with a permanent campus deficit of roughly $3.8 million.

Pilot Killed in Crash

The pilot of a small plane died in a crash last night in southern Vermont. The single engine plane went down at around 7 p.m. Sunday just northwest of the state airport in Bennington, It had circled the airport several times. A hiker found the wreckage on Whipstock Mountain yesterday morning. Police say the pilot identified as Chaim Weiss, was killed. Authorities say the plane was coming from Greenwood Lake Airport in Milford, New Jersey and the beacon at the Bennington airport stopped working shortly before the plane went down. The FAA is looking into whether that played a role in the crash.

Clinton Co Death This Summer Now Homicide

Authorities say the apparent suicide of a 51-year-old man this summer in Clinton County, New York has now been ruled a homicide. WCAX TV reports that New York State Police Captain Robert LaFountain said quote -- "The death investigation into the August 20, 2009 of Ravin H. Miller has been ruled a homicide." New York State Police initially believed Miller's death appeared to be a suicide but was actually a murder, based on the medical examiner's autopsy findings released Monday. LaFountain said the ME determined the death was cause by strangulation. Anyone with information is asked to call state police.

Govs Announce Lake Crossing Alternatives

New York Governor David Paterson and Vermont Governor Jim Douglas say there are some transportation alternatives for commuters impacted by the Lake Champlain Bridge closure. The New York State Department of Transportation closed the bridge suddenly a week and a half ago, amid concerns over a cracked foundation. Fox 44 reports that Paterson says the two states have reached an agreement with the Fort Ticonderoga Ferry operator to offer free service between Ticonderoga, NY and Shoreham, Vt. The ferry that runs between Essex, NY and Charlotte, Vt. will also offer free service. Both free ferries's begin Tuesday morning. Also being offered, free express bus service in Vermont that will bring commuters to three major employers in Vermont.

Even More Info on Bridge Alternatives

The Vermont and New York governors have announced transportation alternatives and informational meetings in the wake of the abrupt closure of the Champlain Bridge on Oct. 16 that left thousands of commuters and travelers finding another way to cross Lake Champlain. The governors announced in a joint statement that all ferries and buses to help travelers will be free starting today. The lake's ferries run from Essex, Essex County, to Charlotte, Vt., and between Ticonderoga, Essex County, and Shoreham, Vt. The operating hours for the ferries also have been extended.

Ferry Between Basin Harbor Club and Westport Now Running

A pedestrian ferry provided by the Basin Harbor Club started running yesterday. The ferry runs between Westport and Basin Harbor, Vt., providing transportation for people who would be using the Crown Point Bridge if it were open. The Minerondack Daily News reports that the Essex County Board of Supervisors' Ways and Means Committee unanimously passed a resolution yesterday authorizing shuttle bus service to the ferry in Essex, Ticonderoga and wherever else county Transportation Coordinator Nancy Dougal thinks it necessary, including Westport. The bus service from AuSable Forks to Lake Placid has already been canceled, as the bus is needed for the shuttle.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Soldiedrs Deployed

Three hundred members of the Vermont National Guard boarded a 747 plane for a month-long training assignment before a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Fox 44 reports that the troops left Sunday morning. In the next couple of weeks, they will be joined by 900 more Vermont soldiers in one of the biggest deployments from the green mountain state since World War II. More soldiers will leave Oct. 30 and 31. Most of them will return to Vermont for Thanksgiving. They will deploy for Afghanistan in late December.

Middlebury Reacts to Lawsuit

A former Middlebury tobacconist sued the town earlier this year with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont, saying only the state has the authority to outlaw substances and that the town overstepped its authority by banning sale of the herb salvia divinorum. The Rutland Herald reports that the town, in an eight-page reply filed in Addison County Superior Court, rejects the basis of the lawsuit, arguing that when a select board acts as a board of health, it is acting as an agency of the state and not of the municipality.

Seven Year Old Gets His Wish

A seven year old Saranac Lake boy who suffered from cancer and the side affects of chemotherapy treatments got his see the big green and yellow John Deere Tractors in Moline, Illinois. The Press Republican reports that the trip was made possible through the Make A Wish Foundation of North East new York. Dylan Monty beat his leukemia after four years of treatment, and got to see the tractors he'd admired for about that long too. His wish was granted July 12, and began when a limo filled with toys, balloons and goodies backed into their Saranac driveway. The downside was that Dylan and his family had to wait for the tractor maker to get past company cutbacks, so they waited and in July of this year, Dylan got to see his favorite mode of transportation in John Deere Green.

Residents Hear About Water System

About 30 people turned out for an informational meeting on Saturday to address concerns about a proposed wastewater-treatment system in Elizabethtown. The Press Republican reports that engineers, town officials and a Department of Environmental Conservation spokesperson gave a presentation and answered questions about the proposed system, which would spur economic development. The proposed project includes construction of a public sewer system for the hamlet of Elizabethtown leading to a wastewater-treatment plant at the terminus of Woodruff Lane.

Six Hurt in Ugly Crash on Saturday

It was an ugly crash on Saturday and some six people were hurt, but none seriously. It happened on the only open bridge over Lake Champlain that links New York and Vermont. Police say a car heading west over the Rouses Point bridge when it hydro-planed and collided with two other cars, one of them head on. Six people were taken to the hospital. The wreck did shut down Route 2 for about an hour.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Escape" Helping Pedestrians Escape

The lobster hull "Escape" will help pedestrian escape from one side of Lake Champlain to the other. Fox 44 reports that the boat, docked at Vergennes, will become a pedestrian ferry while the Lake Champlain Bridge is closed for repairs. Beginning next week, the Escape will start carrying people from Vergennes, Vermont to Westport, New York, including commuters left stranded by the closing of the Champlain Bridge. The Escape will run six times a day, five days a week as long as the weather and the lake cooperate.

Sandgate Select Board Chair Resigns

The town of Sandgate's Select Board Chairman Robert Wise resigned unexpectedly at the board's meeting this week. Wise later said he made the decision because he was "frustrated." He said quote -- "I decided to step down because I was unable do for the town the things I wanted to do," Judy Boehlert, one of four other Select Board members said Wise's decision came at the end of the meeting and left the Select Board with decisions to make about replacing him. The Select Board's Vice Chairman Don Trachte was elected unanimously to the position of chairman. But Boehlert said no decision had been made about a new vice chairman, a position the Sandgate Select Board only enacted this year.

Planned Power Outage for Several Towns

Better listen to this now because you may not be able to tomorrow! Power will go out in Benson, Hubbardton, Sudbury, Brandon, Orwell, Leicester, Whiting, Shoreham, Bridport and Cornwall tomorrow morning. The Rutland Herald reports that Central Vermont Public Service Corp. said a planned blackout will affect about 2,500 customers in those towns while workers replace transmission poles in Leicester.
Power is expected to go out about 6 a.m. and come on again about 12:05 p.m.

Former PSU Pres Now Leave Grambling

Dr. Horace Judson has resigned from Grambling State University. The Press Republican reports that the former embattled Plattsburgh State president said family reasons were behind his decision to step down as Grambling's leader, effective Oct. 31. Judson said in a news release quote -- "When I began as president at GSU, I made a commitment to serve for five years. The extraordinary progress that has been achieved in every facet at GSU over the past five years has been validated." Judson faced several controversies in Louisiana that were similar to troubles that plagued him during his final years at Plattsburgh State. Judson took the helm at Plattsburgh in 1994 and announced his resignation on Dec. 5, 2002, leaving at the end of the spring 2003 semester. He cited increased enrollment and support for the College Foundation among his accomplishments at Plattsburgh State.

Ferry Launches Monday Across the Lake

There probably won't be a temporary bridge across Lake Champlain, but a temporary ferry service is scheduled to start on Monday. The Rutland Herald reports that the Champlain Bridge, which stretches from Addison to Crown Point, N.Y., closed last Friday because of safety concerns. The Addison County Chamber of Commerce held a meeting on the situation Wednesday, where several business owners described being cut off from employees and customers. About 90 people attended the meeting and several told stories of employees who, faced with the choice of a 100-mile detour or a costly ferry ride with a long wait, felt they could no longer afford their jobs. Business owners near the bridge say they're suffering a catastrophic loss of customers.

Bridge Closure Hurts Paper Plant

It's taking some folks a long time to get home from work what with the Crown Point Bridge being closed for a week now. For instance, people at the International Paper Plant in Ticonderoga New York tell that depending on the traffic at the ferry, it would take from 20 minutes to an hour and a half longer to get to work. That's from Dean Messner who's a Power and Utilities Manager at the plant who lives in Middlebury. Many at the paper plant say they're on call so they need to get to the plant no matter what. Robert Knippler is a project engineer who also lives in Middlebury. He said quote -- "If it's after hours, after the ferry goes down, it's quite a lengthy ride." The mill itself is being hurt by the bridge closure since it gets wood from Vermont and drivers have to go farther out of their way to get the wood to the plant.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bridge Closing a Disaster in VT

Vermont has also declared an emergency in the wake of the closing of the bridge. The Agency of Transportation Secretary David Dill has declard an emergency over the sudden clsoing of the Crown Point Bridge. He tells the Rutland Herald that this kind of emergency is different than the kind that can be declared after a disaster. Dill said this emergency declaration could help Vermont get federal aid and juggle state money to fix the bridge. New York state closed the bridge on Friday after it declared it unsafe.

Bridge Closing a Disaster in NY

New York Governor David Paterson has declared a disaster in communities disrupted by the emergency closing of the Champlain Bridge to Vermont last Friday. Fox 44 reports that Paterson said the goal is to speed repairs and direct more state and federal resources to residents and businesses taking an economic hit. Fox 44 reports that the state has opened an outreach center at the site of the bridge. The toll free number is at our website. The State outreach center is located in the Lake Champlain Visitors Center at 814 Bridge Rd. in Crown Point.

The toll free number is 1-888-769-7243.

H1N1 Vaccine Clinics Postponed in VT

The Vermont Health Department says many of the H1N1 flu vaccination clinics that were set for next week have been postponed. They say its because like about 40 other states, Vermont now has widespread flu activity. WCAX TV reports that health officials say they don't really know how many people have the swine flu because most have not been tested. The department says of the thousands who are showing flu symptoms, more than 90 percent are believed to have swine flu. Despite that surge in numbers, health officials say they're staying calm. State Health Commissioner Wendy Davis says its not a crisis or an emergency. She says the state is under control and much of what health care workers are seeing was to be expected.

New Money for New Businesses

Vermont entrepreneurs looking for money to start a business have a new source of cash thanks to a state investment fund, but competition is going to be fierce. Seven Days reports that the Vermont Entrepreneur’s Seed Capital Fund is a revolving investment fund created by the legislature to help new, high-tech companies get off the ground and is the state’s latest economic development tool. Using $3 million in state and federal funds, and eventually up to $5 million more in private money, the fund will begin making investments of $25,000 to $600,000 as soon as January in a dozen or so start-up firms seen as the future of Vermont’s economy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mass held for Vt Natl Guard members

Vermont's Roman Catholic bishop is holding special masses across the state for National Guard soldiers getting ready to head to Afghanistan and their families. Bishop Salvatore Matano held the second of three masses on Monday at the St. Michael's College chapel in Colchester. Matano plans another service for Thursday in Rutland. About 1,500 Vermont National Guard soldiers are due to begin deploying within the next few weeks. They are due to arrive in Afghanistan early next year.

Bear killed in highway accident

A motorist struck and killed a bear Friday night. State police responded to a single-car crash on Interstate 91 shortly before 6. Police said 78-year-old Julian Cohen of Lee, Mass., was southbound when a black bear crossed the road in front of him. Cohen's car clipped the rear end of the bear. The car sustained about $1,000 in front-end damage. The bear died at the scene.

Cops break up big teen drink fest

A big underage drinking party was broken up Friday off Route 315. State police and Bennington County Sheriff's deputies went to a cabin where about thirty people were cited for consuming alcohol while under the age of 21. No criminal charges were filed in the incident.

Distracted drivers target of new campaign

The Rutland County Sheriff's Department is stepping up patrols to reduce accidents. The department recently received $22,000 from the Governor's Highway Safety Program to pay for additional enforcement – especially against impaired drivers. While drunken drivers and tired motorists fall under that heading, Sheriff Stephen Benard singled out motorists conversing or texting on their cell phones. Using data gathered by the state, Benard and Sheriff's Department Lt. Craig Hanson said they believes that "distracted driving" has changed the time when most accidents happen from late night and early morning hours on weekends to the hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on most weekdays. The sheriff believes the change is due to distracted drivers. On a recent trip from Colorado, the sheriff said he saw bigrigs swerving on the highways, and in every case, the driver was holding a cell phone.

P-burgh State H1N1 Vaccine

Plattsburgh State has some H1N1.

It has about 800 doses of the swine flu and students on the campus got the shots on Monday. Other colleges have the vaccine as well, like Paul Smith's College. A nurse there said their immunization program will be for students. North Country Community College will host a flu clinic for Franklin and Essex counties from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 4 at its Saranac Lake campus gymnasium. The clinic will offer seasonal-flu and H1N1 vaccines for the community, as well as students, faculty and staff at the college.

State minimum wage to remain steady

The Vermont Department of Labor says the state's minimum wage will remain at $8.06 per hour next year. The state minimum wage is linked to the federal Consumer Price Index, which declined by 1.5 percent in August. State law does not allow a decline in the minimum wage so it will remain the same. Labor Commissioner Patricia Moulton Powden says a steady minimum wage reflects the economic times. Vermont is one of 13 states that has a minimum wage higher than the federal wage of $7.25 per hour.

Apartment fire ruled arson

An early morning blaze at a Rutland apartment building has been ruled an arson fire. The fire was reported just after midnight yesterday at the three story building on Cottage Street. Police fought through the flames to wake up five people sleeping inside. Everyone made it out safely. Some neighboring homes were evacuated and hosed down to prevent the flames from spreading. The apartment house is considered a total loss. Tenants are staying at a nearby motel.

Hospitals restrict visitors to fight flu

Some Vermont hospitals have begun restricting visitors to keep already compromised patients from contracting H1N1 flu. Fletcher Allen Health Care, Central Vermont Hospital and North Country Hospital are limiting or prohibiting access by certain visitors to some parts of their hospitals.
North Country is asking children younger than 18 not to visit. Central Vermont is restricting children younger than 12. At Gifford Medical Center in Randolph, officials are asking community members to use common sense and simply stay away if they feel like they may have the flu.

Arraignment in 3rd DUI charge

A Danby man pleaded innocent to a third DUI charge and negligent operation during his arraignment in Rutland District Court. 25-year-old James Kent was ordered by Judge Thomas Zonay to get photos and fingerprints taken by police within seven days. Kent faces a maximum five years in jail or not more than a $25,000 fine and at least 400 hours of community service for the felony DUI charge.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Three leaving Rutland PD

The Rutland Police Department will be losing two longtime officers and a detective. Parking Enforcement Officer Thomas LaFond, Sgt. Linda Elrick and Detective Cpl. Chris Kiefer-Cioffi will retire next month. Their departures leave Mayor Christopher Louras and Police Chief Anthony Bossi with a major project on their hands. Bossi, who left on an out of state business trip before Kiefer-Cioffi announced her retirement, could not be reached for comment. While it's unclear whether the detective position will be filled, Detective Ray LaMoria said there's no question that the department will lose a valuable member when Kiefer-Cioffi retires. She was the department's lead forensic investigator. Kiefer-Cioffi said she decided to retire early after 26 years for insurance reasons and because of the lack of advancement opportunities at the department.

Horace Nye Still Being Penalized

Some 20 years later, Essex County is still paying for mistakes...literally!

Essex County is still being penalized for accounting errors made when the Horace Nye Nursing home was built. The Press Republican reports that the Elizabethtown Nursing Home's Administrator Deborah Gifford said the State Office of the Meidcaid Inspector General recently audited the and found no adverse findings. The Inspector General however did not allow some $900 thousand in over nearly 20 years for one of the nursing home's units.

Electronic prescribing coming to Vermont

Senator Patrick Leahy has helped secure a million dollar federal grant to enable doctors in Vermont to prescribe drugs electronically. Most chain pharmacies are already set up to use it and neighborhood pharmacies will be as well. Leahy and Steve Larose of Vermont Information Technology Leaders agree that this could be an important step forward in patient safety. LaRose's group will provide access and training for pharmacists to use the AllScripts program. The organization hopes to have e-prescribing in place by 2012.

Caregiver charged with fraud

A Rutland caregiver has been charged with Medicaid fraud in connection with her work. 53-year-old Deborah Spicer pleaded innocent last week to two felony counts of Medicaid fraud. She was freed on conditions of release. Prosecutors say Spicer was charged after state investigators reviewed timesheets that Spicer submitted between May 2007 and June 2008. During that time period, Spicer allegedly charged nearly seven-thousand dollars for services she failed to provide. The person Spicer was caring for and the type of care involved were not released. If convicted, Spicer faces up to 20 years in jail and over thirteen-thousand-dollars in fines.

Man wrecks to avoid hitting deer

A Proctor man lost control of his truck when he swerved to avoid a deer and rolled over. 19-year-old Brennan Watkins broke his leg in the accident, which totaled his truck. Watkins, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from the driver's window before the truck stopped in the front lawn of a home.

Moose season begins

Moose season is under way in Vermont with an estimated 2,000 hunters in the woods. Those include more than 1,200 permit holders and their helpers or guides. The first season runs through Thursday and covers most of the state. A second season for antlerless moose runs Oct. 24 through Nov. 1 in limited parts of the state.

Union members hear from Dems for governor

The next election is more than a year away, but four of the five Democratic candidates for Vermont governor aren't waiting - they were at the Lake Morey Resort Saturday to garner support from the state AFL-CIO. Jill Charbonneau of Middlebury, Vermont AFL-CIO said union members like to hear from potential candidates early and have their voices shape campaigns. The unions heard from a host of politicians including the four Democratic gubernatorial candidates -- Former Sen. Matt Dunne, Sen. Doug Racine, Sen. Peter Shumlin and Secretary of State Deb Markowitz. The group also heard from Progressive Anthony Pollina, the candidate endorsed by the AFL-CIO in 2008.

Middlebury College using willows to make watts

Middlebury College used to heat its buildings with oil, then switched to wood chips. Now, it's planting willow shrubs - a sustainable and cheap source of fuel that could help cut demand on the state's forests. The nine-acre patch of fast-growing willows is at the heart of the college's biomass energy experiment that seeks determine if wood-chip burning heat systems could lead to the deforestation of Vermont. Willows may be the answer because they grow faster than other trees. The college began using a new system last year that meets about a fifth of its electrical demand.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Governor Calls for Midyear Cuts to Schools

New York Governor David Paterson has proposed midyear cuts to school aid in an attempt to deal with the state's deficit. The Press Republican reports that area school officials say such a move could be devastating to their districts and students. Last week Paterson proposed a midyear cut to school aid, along with cuts to hospitals, nursing homes and aid to college students as part of an effort to trim the state's deficit by $5 billion over two years. Saranac Central School Superintendent Ken Cringle said he's already considering turning to reserves and unappropriated fund balance to reduce the overall impact of the possible reductions in school aid. Cringle is calling for an immediate moratorium on spending which he says will impcat student services.

Bridge Out!

The Crown Point Bridge could be closed a long time! Yeah, like most of the winter. The bridge closed last Friday and WCAX TV reports that its because inspectors found an eroding concrete pier near the surface of the water. Crews were just wrapping up other work on the bridge and getting ready to open the two lanes of traffic to four when inspectors found the problems. So how will people get across Lake Champlain? Ferry! Officials at Fort Ticonderoga Ferry say the ferry's been swamped with people. Other area ferry companies are ramping up service.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Stimulus created 1990 jobs in Vermont

The chief of Vermont's Office of Economic Stimulus and Recovery told lawmakers yesterday that federal stimulus funding has created 1,990 jobs in Vermont. Addressing legislators at the Statehouse, Tom Evslin said nearly 56-million dollars in funding from the Federal stimulus has resulted in an average of about $28,109 per job.

Sanders praises Obama's Social Security plan

Senator Bernie Sanders is commending President Obama's call for Congress to approve payments of $250 to seniors to make up for not having an increase in Social Security next year. The Social Security Administration announced yesterday that there will be no cost of living increase in 2010. Increases are dependent on inflation, which has been negative this year. Sanders has been advocating for a one-time payment to make up for the lack of the cost-of-living increase. He says the $250 will equal about a 2 percent annual increase.

Man denies fifth DUI

A Bennington man pleaded innocent Tuesday to what police said was his fifth DUI. 46-year-old Ernest Morris was arraigned on two felony DUI charges and driving with a suspended license. Bennington Sgt. Lloyd Dean said he stopped Morris after watching him drive down two public roads because he knew Morris' license was suspended. According to the affidavit, Morris' blood alcohol was 0.129 percent, about 50% higher than the 0.08 limit. Morris had been convicted for DUI in Vermont in 2006 and 2007, and in three other states dating back to 1983.

Police ask public to help find robber

Rutland police continue to investigate the Monday night robbery of a woman and 8-month-old child on Forest Street. Rutland Sgt. John Sly says no arrests have been made in connection with the crime, and police are asking the public for help. The man claimed to have a knife when he robbed her of $30. He then ran away toward Park Street. Sly urged residents to be cautious and not walk alone at night. Anyone with information on the robbery is urged to call the Rutland Police Department at 773-1816.

Neisner gets 99 days jail time

A Rutland judge sentenced a former attorney and acting traffic judge to 99 days in jail. Melvin Neisner was convicted of leaving the scene of an accident and lying to police. Neisner was also convicted of hindering a police investigation of the accident by implying his wife was behind the wheel of the SUV he was driving at the time of a crash that injured a motorcyclist. Neisner wasn't charged until he came forward more than a month later and told police he was the driver. Zonay sentenced Neisner to 18 months to four years in jail, all suspended on probation except for 99 days to serve behind bars.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Movieplex 9 shuttered

The Movieplex 9 theater in downtown Rutland is closed indefinitely. The closing coincided with the closings of Cinema North's other theaters in Vermont and two other states. The Movieplex was at one time threatened with eviction and was temporarily closed by the state Tax Department. Cinema North has owned the Movieplex since it opened in May 1995. Owners Kipp Mullin and Gerald Couture III were unavailable for comment, but the company issued a statement that made reference to financial difficulties and expressed hope that a buyer for the theatre can be found.

Grant Funds Transportation

Milton residents will have bus service available for the first time, and Williston will see increased routes with the help of federal grants announced this week.

The Burlington Free Press reports that Chittenden County Transportation Authority routes connecting Milton and Williston to Burlington are among several in the state that will be funded with $3.9 million in Federal Transit Administration grants over the next three years. The grant money will also expand service between Addison and Chittenden counties and around Addison County.

Milton Residents to Get Bus Service

Milton residents will have bus service available for the first time, and Williston will see increased routes with the help of federal grants announced this week. The Burlington Free Press reports that Chittenden County Transportation Authority routes connecting Milton and Williston to Burlington are among several in the state that will be funded with $3.9 million in Federal Transit Administration grants over the next three years. The grant money will also expand service between Addison and Chittenden counties and around Addison County.

Race Close in 23rd NY Congressional District

A new poll shows a dead heat at the top of the three-way race to fill the vacant congressional seat in upstate New York's 23rd District.

The Siena College poll shows Democrat Bill Owens leading Republican Dierdre Scozzafava by four percentage points - close to the survey's margin of error. Owens has the support of 33 percent of likely voters, while Scozzafava has 29 percent. Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman has 23 percent, which is up from when the poll was taken two weeks ago. The largely rural district covers 11 counties in central and northern New York. The phone survey of 617 likely voters was conducted from Sunday through Tuesday and the margin of error is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points. The special election is Nov. 3.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pumpkin Festival This Weekend

The 25th annual Pumpkin Festival is this Saturday in Tounsend. The festival runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the Townsend Common. The Rutland Herald reports that in addition to the giant pumpkin contest - past entries have weighed between 600 and 700 pounds - there will be many activities for children, including pumpkin and scarecrow decorating contests and a Halloween costume parade. There will also be vendors selling crafts, oil and watercolor paintings and pumpkin pies, whole and by the slice with whipped cream.

Ex-Attorney Gets 99 Days for Causing Crash

A Killington lawyer convicted of intentionally causing a serious crash was sentenced today.
Court documents indicate that Melvin Neisner will serve 99 days in jail after he was convicted last year of slamming on his brakes and injuring a motorcyclist who was tailgating him two years ago. The victim in the case asked the judge to give Neisner at least two years in prison. His license to practice law has already been suspended. The now former attorney could have served up to four years for intentionally causing the crash.

NY State Health Workers Sue Over H1N1 Vaccine

State health workers in New York are suing the state over a regulation requiring them to get an H1N1 shot or lose their jobs. WCAX TV reports that the state Health Department issued the emergency regulation in August that requires all health care workers be immunized. They have until Nov. 30 to get the shot or be fired. In the suit, workers say that requirement is a violation of their civil rights. They also argue that the H1N1 vaccine hasn't been fully tested and they don't want to suffer any side effects.

Clinton County NY Reports First H1N1 Death

The Clinton County Health Department has confirmed the first H1N1-related death there. Fox 44 reports that health officials say the flu victim was an adult with underlying medical conditions. They would not release the gender or age of the person. The Health Department said on Tuesday that several people in Clinton County tested positive for the virus and some needed to be hospitalized and isolated. The area experienced the H1N1 this past spring and has been expecting a resurgence of the illness. Officials say they are waiting for large doses of the H1N1 vaccine to arrive and as of now, smaller amounts have arrived and are being distributed to 'target groups.'

USPS Might Sell Essex Way Location

The post office could be hand canceling its ownership of the Essex Way post office. Fox 44 reports that Town Manager Pat Scheidel said he was surprised when he got a message from the Postal Service that said quote -- "It was contemplated to be closed and put on sale." Postal spokesman Tom Rizzo says the reason they might "letter" be is because there's not enough mail volume to support the large post office. He said if the USPS finds the right buyer, they might sell the building as a whole...not parcel.

Former Security Officers Busted

Two former Paul Smith’s College campus-safety officers are facing charges after they allegedly threatened a local woman and refused to let her call for help. The Press Republican reports that Brian L. Taylor and Shawn A. Hopseker, both of Saranac Lake, were taken into custody Tuesday morning after they allegedly barged into the woman’s Franklin residence and disabled her phone. Ray Brook-based State Police went to the home after the woman’s 8-year-old child managed to call 911 on a cell phone. Police said the off-duty officers broke into the home around 4:50 a.m. to harass the woman, who used to date one of the men.

Hemp protestors busted at DEA

Farmers from North Dakota and Vermont and four others trying to plant hemp seeds at the headquarters of the Drug Enforcement Administration were arrested and charged with trespassing yesterday. They were among 21 people protesting the ban on farming of hemp, which is related to marijuana. The Hemp Industries Association says the protesters turned to civil disobedience for the first time. The group is lobbying lawmakers on Capitol Hill. They want to grow hemp for non-drug products. Vermont farmer Will Allen was among those arrested. Police say he had a shovel but no drugs and caused only minor damage to the lawn.

Next meeting on Faripoint set

Lawmakers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont will meet next month to discuss the problems of FairPoint Communications. Leaders of the three states held a meeting in September about FairPoint's problems and progress since it acquired the network from Verizon earlier this year. The legislators say they want more information on each others regulation, the long-term stability of the network and other issues connected to rural access to broadband. Last month, FairPoint executives told regulators it would be another two months before the company has a clear plan to resolve its customer service, billing and other problems. The next meeting will be November 12th in Concord.

Car smash and grabs in Charlotte

People leave valuable things in unlocked cars. Police know it, so do thieves. Now, State Police are once again advising people against leaving valuables in cars after a rash of break-ins in Charlotte.
Police say there have been numerous instances of people smashing car windows and grabbing items in the parking areas of Mount Philo State Park and at both Charlotte Park and Wildlife Refuge.
Police remind you to avoid leaving purses, cash, credit cards, cell phones and cameras behind.

Proctor board now has five

Three remaining members of the Proctor Select Board filled two empty seats on the board last night. Two weeks after Richard Norris and George Finch resigned, the three were able to agree long enough to appoint Lloyd Hughes and Linda Doty to the empty seats. Hughes and Doty were the only two residents who expressed an interest in serving on the board. The seats they fill will both be up for election in March. A special Select Board meeting will be held next week to fill the new members in on ongoing issues.

Woman with baby robbed

A man robbed a woman while she walked on Forest Street carrying an 8-month-old baby. Rutland police said neither the woman nor the baby was injured. The woman said she handed over $30 cash after he told her he had a knife, although the man never showed her the knife. Following the report, a half dozen police officers circled the neighborhood and the Forest Park apartment complex searching for a suspect. Officers questioned a man who fit the description on Porter Place. Police did arrest a man for marijuana possession, but he was not charged in connection with the robbery.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Heat Costs Drop This Winter

The cost of heating your homes this winter will go down. Vermont Gas says its rates are dropping for the fifth quarter in a row. The company says it will cost about 17 percent this year than last to heat a home. Jim Condos is the company spokesman. He says quote -- "That translates for the average residential customer to about $300 in annualized savings." WCAX TV reports that only about 14 percent of the state heats with natural gas and about 58 percent heats with oil. Heating oil customers are also expected to get a break in their bills this winter.

Farm Bureau Meeting Hears From Dairy Farmers

Addison County Dairy farmers discussed at the Farm Bureau meeting on Monday, restricting the milk supply. The Rutland Herald reports that the idea's being floated because of the price crisis in the dairy industry. Senator Bernard Sanders was the guest speaker at the meeting and he told the crowd of about 50 that supply management was something Vermont's agricultural community needs to talk about. The county bureau voted to ask the state Farm Bureau to reove a plank of its dairy policy opposing supply management. It also approved a resolution supporting implementation of a mandatory growth management policy that can react quickly to market demands.

National Guard has Vermont's support - Senators

Vermont's U.S. senators said yesterday that Vermont National Guard troops and their families will be supported while the troops are in Afghanistan. Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Bernie Sanders spoke to several hundred guard members and their families gathered at an event held for the soldiers before they begin leaving Vermont in early December. Sanders said the event was as much for the family members as for the soldiers. About 1,500 Vermont National Guard members are to be deployed, beginning next month. It will be the largest call-up of National Guard soldiers since World War II.

Monster vs. Monster

It must have seemed like a good idea at the time, but a Vermont brewery will have to stop selling a beer called "The Vermonster," after lawyers for Monster Energy Drinks got involved. Hansen Beverage Co., wants tiny Rock Art Brewery to stop using the name "Vermonster" on the beer and pay its lawyers' fees. Matt Nadeau and his wife Renee own the brewery; he says he's been told by several trademark attorneys that the law is probably on his side, but proving it could be expensive enough to put him out of business. The beer is made by the seven employees at Rock Art's small brewery in Morrisville. Hansen is based in California - it sold over $1 billion worth of Monster energy drinks last year. Nadeau has taken the issue worldwide on his website, and he's got his share of supporters. Customers have posted their intention to boycott Hansen drinks, and one store in Vermont will no longer sell them.

Man killed in Pittsford crash

Police are investigating a crash that killed a man Sunday night in Pittsford. 47-year-old Joseph Bourgeois of Pittsford was pronounced dead at the scene. Police say it appeared that his car veered off of Route 7 and rolled down an embankment.

Fall from wall results in suit against Middlebury College

A former Middlebury College student is suing the school claiming it took inadequate safety precautions at its rock wall. The federal lawsuit says Sharai Lewis-Gruss permanently damaged her foot and ankle when she fell in 2006. It requests unspecified damages. The lawsuit describes the safety mats provided by the college as "inadequate" and "unsafe." The lawsuit is somewhat vague about the injuries to Lewis-Gruss's foot and ankle, but it says she ran up more than $60,000 in medical bills and that the accident caused her a lifetime of "mental, emotional and physical pain and suffering." lawyers for both sides refused comment.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Want Help Paying for Winter Heat? Apply NOW!

Addison County residents who want help with heat bills this winter need to apply for the help now. Richard Moffi is the fuel assistance program chief for the Vermont Department of Children and Families. He say people who apply for assistance after December first will lose benefits. Moffi says the LHEAP or Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program is seasonal and provides a heating fuel allowance that's paid directly to dealers for eligible families. Moffi's office sent out some 38 thousand applications to those eligible in the state. He says just over 28 thousand have been returned, asking for heating help this winter.

U S Labor Dept: Fewer Guest Worketd Could Be Alloed in U. S.

Do guest workers fill a need for laborers that Americans don't? Some Vermont apple growers think so. WCAX TV reports that at some of the orchards in Addison County, workers come up here from Jamaica for a few months, pick the crop and either go back to Jamaica or head to another orchard or a meat processing plant. The U.S. Labor Department is proposing to give incentives to U. S. workers to take the jobs and they say there are changes in the laws that allow guest workers into the United States so that fewer work visas are being granted.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

More state layoffs coming

The Douglas administration will lay off 37 state workers in the next round of budget cuts. It's likely that even more spending cuts are on the horizon. Economic advisers will meet with the administration next month and could forecast further revenue declines. Besides the job cuts announced Friday, the administration said it would use a $1.7 million surplus in the state's health insurance program created by workers who used less health coverage than expected. State managers have been ordered to cut $1 million by delaying hiring for vacant positions.

Middlebury College has 10 H1N1 cases

There are now has 10 suspected cases of the H1N1 virus at Middlebury College. The sick students have been quarantined to try and prevent the spread of swine flu, but are being allowed to use the cafeteria with other students. UVM and St. Michaels College have also had confirmed cases of swine flu. Dartmouth College in New Hampshire has reported 175 students with flu-like symptoms.
Two-thirds of those are thought to have H1N1.

College dorms evacuated during fire

Some scary moments yesterday as three Middlebury College dorms were evacuated when a small fire broke out in a dining hall kitchen. College officials say the fire ignited while two employees were cleaning the kitchen around 5 a.m. yesterday, apparently from a propane leak. The dining hall and adjacent residential halls were evacuated for about two hours.

Man arrested in stabbing of woman

Rutland police said a woman who was stabbed Thursday could have been killed if the blade hadn't deflected off her ribs. The woman was taken to Rutland Regional Medical Center where she was treated and released for wounds to her elbow and side. Police responded to that address about 9:30 Thursday night after a report that a woman had been stabbed. Officers found woman and a friend near the site where a 2008 gun-battle between crack dealers left a man dead. 60-year-old Gordon Spaulding, who is a neighbor of the woman at 90 Grove Street was charged in the attack. He remains held on $150,000 bail until his arraignment later today.

Huge pot seizure at Orwell home

A raid by state police Thursday took about $100,000 worth of marijuana and 32 firearms off the street. The drugs were seized along with rifles, shotguns and a pair of assault rifles at a home and garage owned by 48-year-old Mike Shaw of Orwell. The self-employed mechanic was cited to appear in Middlebury District Court on charges of felony marijuana cultivation and possession. Police say they learned two weeks ago that Shaw was selling marijuana out of his garage on Needham Road, but Lt. David Notte said police haven't found any evidence that Shaw was distributing the drug.

Plattsburgh City School Could Be National Model

Plattsburgh City School could be the focus of a national model for other schools. Plattsburgh Teachers Association was part of the effort that resulted in a grant awarded to New York State United Teachers to develop the ground-breaking teacher evaluation system. The Press Republican reports that a total of nine unions from New York and Rhode Island will work with local school districts to coordinate and develop a multi-district approach to a teacher-evaluation system including peer-assistance and -review component in which veteran teachers mentor and assist new and struggling teachers.

Teens Facing Underage Drinking Charges

Two teens were safe over the weekend, but are probably in trouble now...
Hinesburg Police say the boys -- whose names they did not release -- were in a canoe that capsized on Friday night in Sunset Lake. One was treated for hypothermia and refused to ID the other teen until police spent three hours questioning the first teen. He finally gave up his friend who was missing overnight Friday. WCAX TV reports that the pair now faces underage drinking charges and could face other charges. Acting Hinesburg Police Chief Fred Silber said that while the missing boy found a place to sleep, three fire departments and two police departments were out looking him.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Welch to host two health care meetings

Vermont's Congressional representative will host two public meetings on health care reform the next two Saturdays. Congressman Peter Welch will host the first meeting at the Williston Central School tomorrow morning at 10, and the second October 17th at 3:30 at Hartford High School in White River Junction. Welch says he wants to hear from Vermonters as Congress prepares to vote on health care legislation. The Congressman will talk about the need for reform and invite comments and questions from audience members.

MD to challenge Leahy

A Vermont physician will challenge Sen. Patrick Leahy in next year's Democratic primary. Forty-five-year-old Daniel Freilich of Wilmington says he thinks the current versions of health care reform being considered in Congress don't go far enough. Freilich is also a U.S. Navy captain. Freilich said the only answer to health care is a single payer system called "Medicare for all." Leahy has served in the U.S. Senate since 1975 and is one of the chamber's most senior members. Freilich has lived in Vermont since 1998.

Breast feeding mom off plane, sues airline

A woman who was kicked off an airplane at the Burlington International Airport for breast feeding her baby is suing Delta Airlines. The Burlington Free Press says negotiations failed to reach a settlement between the airline and Emily Gillette. Gillette filed suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court.
Gillette was ordered off a Delta Connections plane by a flight attendant after twice refusing an order to cover up while she breast fed her baby prior to take off. Gillette's lawsuit says she felt "shame and embarrassed" after being ordered off the plane. Delta Airlines refused to comment on the suit, but a spokesman says the airline supports a mother's right to breast-feed.

Haircuts for Horses in Rutland

A Rutland hairdresser will be doing haircuts for horses today. Heidi Olson-Hilder of Avanti on Center Street will host an all-day "cut-a-thon" to raise money for Spring Hill Horse Rescue. Olson-Hilder has been trying to help the group ever since one of the stable's nonallergenic horses helped her fulfill a longstanding wish to ride a horse despite a terrible allergy. She's determined to give something of herself to the shelter. Spring hill takes in equines and either finds them new homes or cares for them permanently. The cut-a-thon is from 9 to 6 today and all the proceeds will be donated.

Gas War on in Dannemora

With comments like "I love these prices." and "its awesome!" people are getting caught up in a war.

A gas price war, that is! In Dannemora drivers are going out of their way to get to the gas stations with the best prices. The Press Republican dot com reports that gas prices have been dropping if only by pennies between the towns two gas stations. While gas prices at the two stations was in the $2,40 to $2.50 range this week, it was still nearly $2.70 in Plattsburgh. Neither station in Dannemora says they plan to end the war: If one drops its price for gasoline, the other will drop theirs even lower.

Benefit Dinner Coming Up

How about eating dinner to benefit the hungry...

You can do just that on October 15th. The community pork supper will be on Thursday October 15th and the Weston Rod and Gun Club. The dinner will be from 5:30 to 7:30 and will benefit the Londonderry based Neighbors Food Pantry and Fuel Fund. Supper organizer Bob Yuengling said quote -- "This could be a tough winter for many people since requests are already coming in for fuel assistance. Based on the September food pantry usage, we can expect an increase demand for help all winter." Nonperishable food items and donations would also be appreciated at the dinner. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children.

Vermont flu cases on the rise

Vermont Health Department officials say the number of flu cases in the state is increasing. Health Commissioner Dr. Wendy Davis says 11 cases have been confirmed in southwestern Vermont, with eight of those cases confirmed as the H1N1 swine flu. Davis says some seasonal flu vaccine clinics have been postponed because of a shortage of vaccine. The swine flu vaccine is due to arrive soon.

Costly move of mental patients to Rutland

The state could save money by sending Vermont State Hospital patients to a new facility in Rutland, but financing the project will be difficult. Vermont's Joint Fiscal Office found that even when the cost of building a new $25 million mental health unit at the Rutland Regional Medical Center was factored in, the plan would save the state more than $1.7 million each year. But that projection doesn't take into account the difficulties of funding in the down economy. Vermont officials have been looking to replace Waterbury's archaic Vermont State Hospital facility for years, an effort that gained new immediacy after the institution lost federal funding several years ago after investigators highlighted a string of problems there.

Rutland shooting victim guilty in Arizona

A man who was injured in a fatal shooting in Rutland has been found guilty of attempted murder in Arizona. Javon Shelton faces up to 21 years in jail after a jury convicted him last week. He will be sentenced Nov. 12. Shelton was shot in the side during a gun fight on Grove in 2008. He was one of three men city police believe was involved in a turf battle between rival crack cocaine dealers.
Shelton, who was never charged with a crime, left the city and presumably the state soon after he was released from the hospital where he was treated for a gunshot wound to his side.

Douglas names new states attorney

Gov. Jim Douglas has appointed David Fenster to be Addison County state's attorney, replacing the longtime prosecutor John Quinn, who retired last month. Fenster has been working in private practice, most recently in Bennington, and was a former deputy state's attorney in Bennington County. Fenster says he'll work with law enforcement to keep Addison County safe.

Middlebury sustainability gets high marks

Middlebury College got an A minus on the Sustainable Endowments Institute's annual report card.
The group evaluated colleges and universities with the 300 largest endowments in the US and Canada. It looked at whether schools have full-time staff dedicated to sustainability, whether they grow their own food and compost food waste and whether their buildings are energy efficient.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Missing Boy Found Safe

State troopers and members of the Rutland County Sheriffs Department found an 11-year-old boy who had strayed from his home on Tuesday.

A press release says that at about 8:30 Wednesday morning, state police got a call that a boy and his dog were missing. State troopers, county sheriff's deputies and a tracking dog started looking for the boy, and called in police and their dogs who were training in the area. An Ira resident reportd seeing the boy who was found, unharmed. Police say he was carrying a backpack, a BB gun and knife. The boy told the troopers that he was prepared to stay in the woods overnight and had the weapons with him for protection.

Obama to Stump for Owens

President Barack Obama is getting directly involved in the race for New York's 23rd Congressional District.

The White House says the president will attend a fundraiser for Democratic Candidate William Owens in New York City on October 20th. The Press Republican reports that the high price event will be in conjunuion wit a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Manhattan. This will be the first time the President will stump for a non-incumbent in a congressional race. The White House said Obama will speak to about 50 people at the Owens fundraiser and will address the importance of the race and discuss Owens efforts to create jobs in upstate New York.

H1N1 outbreak at Dartmouth

Dartmouth College is one of the latest schools in the country to have an outbreak of flu-like symptoms. School administrators say about 175 students have flu-like symptoms just a little more than three weeks into the school year. College Health Director Doctor John Turco, says the school is testing about two students a day at random, and right now about two thirds of the cases are coming back positive for swine flu. Administrators say all of the cases have been mild and nobody has gone to the hospital.

Telecom boss resigns suddenly

There is no word today as to why the executive director of the Vermont Telecommunications Authority suddenly left his job. Officials won't give a reason for last week's departure of William Shuttleworth. Board chairman Chris Dutton says officials are interviewing candidates to replace Shuttleworth and hope to have a replacement soon. The Telecommunication Authority's mission is to make it possible for Vermonters to access the Internet or use a cell phone anywhere in the state by the end of 2010. Shuttleworth was the first executive director.

Teen's death under car an accident - police

State Police say a 17-year-old Westminster youth is dead after a jack collapsed while he was working under a vehicle. Investigators have ruled the death of Luke Alderman an accident. Alderman was in his garage Sunday working under the car, which had been raised with a jack. The jack tipped over trapping Alderman. He was pronounced dead at Springfield hospital.

Some sex offenders could be off list

Sex offenders who stay on the law's good side may be able to stay off the newly expanded Vermont sex offender registry. The new online registry went live last week, with hundreds of offenders on view. But a committee in the legislature just approved a plan to let offenders off the online registry provided they were convicted years ago, and are obeying conditions of release.
The state sex offender review committee would then have the final say.

Changes sought in teacher hiring process

Vermont's education commissioner wants changes in teacher hiring policies in the wake of the Shaun Bryer case. Bryer is charged with sexually abusing three boys while he worked as an elementary school teacher in Morristown. Prior to those charges, Bryer resigned under pressure and was hired to teach in Colchester. Morristown school officials had disciplined Bryer for improper contact with students, but didn't disclose that information to future employers. Now Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca wants to tighten background checks for teachers. He is insisting that superintendents to contact former employers to find out about disciplinary action, have prospective teachers allow former employers to release information, and have the departments of Education and Children and Families share information.

Fewer layoffs needed - state

The Douglas administration says the state won't need to cut 200 jobs to help achieve its $7.4 million in labor savings. Deputy Administration Secretary Tom Pelham says the exact number of layoffs will be announced later this week.
Pelham said the administration will find the savings it needs but will do so, quote, "in the kindest, gentlest manner that we can." Jes Kraus director of the Vermont State Employees Association says state workers are anxious to see the state's list. The administration says the savings are needed to help solve a projected $28 million revenue shortfall.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lex man arrested in century's first homicide

Lexington police have arrested a man in connection with the city's first homicide of the 21st century. 31-year-old Adrian Richardson is charged with murder in the death of Bruce Price, who was gunned down on Elm Street in February of 2000. Police said at the time that they had no leads in the killing. Lexington police spokesman Lt. Douglas Pape hasn't said what led police to Richardson, who has a history of drug charges dating to 1995. Pape did say that investigators never stopped working the case.

Leaf changing to be extra pretty thisyear

The state Department of Travel is predicting that the annual changing of the leaves in the state will be spectacular this year. The department is asking spotters from across Kentucky to submit reports about color changes to be posted on the state tourism web site. Thanks to the higher amounts of rain this year, and unseasonably low summer temperatures, many believe the changes will be more gradual and colorful this fall.

Dogs save woman in house fire

A Scott County woman's three dogs will likely be eating steak instead of kibble for a few days, after they saved her life when a fire broke out in her East Honaker Road home. The woman says she woke up because her dogs were barking. She went to investigate and discovered the fire. She made it to safety by jumping out a window. There was one other person in the home at the time, who also got out safely. When firefighters arrived, the home was fully engulfed in flames. The family's three dogs were unharmed, but they are still searching for their missing cat.

KY inmate loses appeals, faces execution

A Kentucky death row inmate has lost his final appeal, now prosecutors are reviewing his case and considering a request for an execution date. 52-year-old Gregory Wilson has been on death row since 1988 for his part in the kidnapping and murder of Deborah Pooley a year earlier in northern Kentucky. The review comes after the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused without comment to hear a final appeal from Wilson. Attorney General spokeswoman Allison Gardner Martin said there was no timetable for the review. She also didn't say when prosecutors might ask Gov. Steve Beshear to set an execution date.

More state school systems close over flu

Two more Kentucky school systems canceled classes for the rest of the week yesterday over concerns over the spread of flu-like symptoms. Harlan County and Williamsburg Independent schools were closed, joining Corbin Independent and Powell County schools, which closed for the week on Monday. Several other school systems were canceled classes last week, as the state is under a widespread flu alert.

Clooney honored in Kentucky contest

Kentucky is honoring native son George Clooney with an award from the governor. Clooney's parents were at the State Capitol yesterday to receive the award on their son's behalf. The actor won the "national award" category in the 2009 Kentucky Governor's Awards in the Arts. The award is given each year to a Kentucky-born artist who has gained national or international recognition. Clooney was born in Lexington.

Hanged census worker's body released

The body of a census worker who was found hanged in rural eastern Kentucky has been released to his family. A family visiting a Clay County cemetery found Bill Sparkman on September 12th with a rope around his neck, his hands and feet bound and the word "fed" scrawled across his chest. The state medical examiner's office established the cause of death as asphyxiation. His son investigators are still telling him little about the case.

Ed. Commish Wants Changes in Hiring Policies

Vermont's education commissioner wants changes in teacher hiring policies in the wake of the Shaun Bryer case.

Vermont Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca doesn't want that kind of thing to happen again. He says new laws are needed to make sure schools have access to all disciplinary action against prospective hires. Bryer is charged with sexually abusing three boys while he worked as a teacher in Morristown. WCAX TV reports that Bryer resigned before anyone found out and was hired at Colchester and Morristown officials said they would not tell any future employers about the issues.

City Weighs Buying New Firetruck

Plattsburgh city councilors will decide this week if they want to spend nearly $1 million on a new aerial ladder truck for the Fire Department.

Fire Chief Paul Williams told councilors last week that the existing truck is on its last wheels as its 19 years old and a new truck would cost about $885,000 He said if the city waits until 2010, when new emission requirements kick in, the cost would increase by $20,000 to $30,000. The Press Republican reports that the city has $750,000 in its 2010 capital budget for a new truck and Williams said they might be able to get a 2006 or 2007 demo truck for that money.

Pregnant woman advised to get H1N1 vaccine

Pregnant women are usually advised not to take medication during pregnancy, but some Vermont doctors say the H1N1 vaccine is an exception. Nursing and expectant mothers met with doctors yesterday to discuss how they can protect themselves and their babies against the H1N1 virus.
Complications of the virus can include early labor or miscarriage, and that has the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending that pregnant women get vaccinated.

Denies embezzlement charges

A Vermont man denied in court having embezzled nearly $45,000 from a sporting goods company and drove it out of business. 46-year-old Patrick Huntley pleaded not guilty yesterday in Vermont District Court to a single charge of embezzlement. Police say he stole the money from New Horizons Sports in Williston over four years while working there as comptroller. He is accused of using the money on gas, restaurant meals and to make payments on a recreational vehicle loan. The owners of the store say they've had to lay off employees and are now closing their store. The company will continue to operate its embroidery, screen printing and Web business. Huntley was released on conditions and is due back in court in November.

Robber sought in St. Albans bank heist

Police are searching for whoever robbed a Chittenden Bank branch in St. Albans. Video showed the male suspect entering the bank just before 10 yesterday morning. He showed a knife and demanded money. The suspect fled on foot with an undetermined amount of cash. Anyone with any information about the robbery is asked to call the St. Albans city police or the Vermont State Police.

Arraignment in Forest Park shooting

A Rutland man was in court yesterday on charges he fired a shotgun into an occupied apartment in a dispute over a waiting list for housing. 26-year-old Carlos Castillo-Vasquez was arraigned in Rutland District Court on felony attempted aggravated assault. He was held overnight in Rutland jail on $25,000 bail. Rutland City Detective Raymond LaMoria said that according to the victim, the incident may have been about the fact that the victim got housing in Forest Park before Castillo-Vasquez's girlfriend. Police said no one was injured in the shooting last week at the Forest Park housing development.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Second Fire Training Facility in VT

There'll soon be a new firefighter training facility in the state.

WCAX TV reports that Senator Bernie Sanders, Governor Jim Douglas and other officials from around the state broke ground Monday on a new Burn Simulator Training Facility in Randolph Center is on the campus of Vermont Technical College behind the dairy farm and will provide hands-on training for first responders. This will be the second burn facility in the state, the other's in Pittsford. Chief of the Vermont Fire Academy Jim Litevich said the new facility will not only offer training for putting out fires, but will teach repelling, technical rescue, and confined space search and rescue. The new facility will be operational this coming spring.

In Essex Co., If You're Sick, Go Home!

If you work for Essex County and you come to work with swine flu-like symptoms, you'd better just plan on going back home.

The Press Repbulican reports that Essex County lawmakers decided by split vote that county employees who come to work with swine-flu symptoms will be sent home. The County Board of Supervisors voted yesterday to allow department heads to order workers who may have the H1N1 influenza virus to go home. County Attorney Daniel Manning the tird said anyone sent home would use sick, vacation, personal or comp time while off. If they had no time off coming, they could use sick days borrowed from the next year. He said quote -- “Department heads will have the ability to send that employee home or order that employee not to come to work until at least 24 hours after the subsidence of symptoms.”

Army captain's death shocks Bridport

The town of Bridport is recovering from the death of one its volunteer firefighters and army captains. Captain Luke Yustin died of injuries after a motorcycle accident in Texas Saturday. The cause of the crash is still under investigation. The Bridport volunteer fire station had a black ribbon over one of its doors over the weekend. Yards away, a town flag flew at half staff.
Peter Brakeley was Yustin's football coach at Middlebury Union High School; he said Yustin had many standout qualities. After Yustin's funeral tomorrow, the Bridport volunteer fire department has plans to honor him.

Third arrest in burglary spree

Police have made a third arrest in connection with a burglary spree in Franklin and Addison counties. Twenty-four-year-old Kyle Gagner of St. Albans surrendered to Vermont State Police just after midnight Friday. Police say he and 22-year-old Melissa Labounty of Fairfield broke into several homes in the past month, stealing cash, jewelry and electronics.

Some flu shot clinics canceled

Some flu shot clinics are being postponed or canceled because of delayed shipments of the seasonal flu vaccines. The top five manufacturers of the vaccines are rushing to produce both H1N1 vaccines and the seasonal flu shot. Officials say the additional production is delaying the shipment of the seasonal flu shots. The Rutland Visiting Nurse Association has canceled 50 private clinics so far on job sites and at senior-living homes.

Dead inmate's family hires lawyers

The family of a woman who died after two days at the state prison in Swanton has hired a legal team to review the case. A medical examiner's report said 23-year-old Ashley Ellis died in August from complications of anorexia and denial of access to medication. Ellis, who was serving a 30-day sentence at a state jail in Swanton, died two days after she arrived. She was denied access to potassium pills she took for an eating disorder once she arrived at the jail, state officials said this week. Jack Facey, a member of the legal firm hired by the family, said the family's lawyers would focus for now on gathering facts. A state police investigation into Ellis' death will be sent to the Franklin County prosecutor's office when it's complete.

Rutland City to join broadband project

Rutland City would be the fifth to join the Rutland Redevelopment Authority's efforts to bring fiber-optic broadband Internet, telephone and cable service to the county. The full board will vote today to sign a letter of intent to take part in Rutland Telecom. Castleton, Mendon and Pittsford agreed after a presentation from Executive Director Tom Macaulay, while Rutland Town signed the letter without a hearing. There is no financial liability connected to the city's involvement.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Middlebury Residents Fight Gravel Pit

A group who says a gravel pit would violate part of the local zoning ordinance says they'll fight the pit.

The Clinton Smith Schoolhouse Community Group, made up of some Middlebury residents say a proposed gravel and sand pit off Case Street and Route 116 would violate part of the zoning ordinance. The Rutland Herald reports that Ron Kohn, a member of the group, said at least one of the members is worried that vibrations from passing trucks might damage the school's stone foundation from where the group gets it name. The project would require an access road through a residential district, and the group quotes a portion of the regulations forbidding just that. The group has filed a motion to have the application dismissed.

Villages Get a Share of Essex Co Sales Tax

Essex County will soon share some of its sales tax revenues with villages in the county.

The villages of Port Henry, Keeseville, Lake Placid and Saranac Lake will get
one-quarter percent of its 3.75-percent sales tax the county collects, starting in 2010. The county will make the payments in installments during the year. County Treasurer Michael Diskin said the county has predicted sales-tax receipts of $22.8 million next year, when the sharing starts. He said the state remits the sales-tax money to the county in regular payments, and the county will use a formula to distribute the one-quarter percent to towns.

Friday, October 2, 2009

New gallery to open in Frog Hollow space

A local business that was an early casualty of the recession will be reopened soon as an art gallery.
Frog Hollow is a nonprofit organization that represents Vermont artisans. It closed its Middlebury location in January because of slow business. The space will be transformed into the Edgewater Gallery, featuring the work of about a dozen artists. It will be open six days a week.

Man killed in train crossing

Police in Plattsburgh report a man is dead after a train accident last night. A Canadian Pacific Railway train was southbound when it hit the man who was on the tracks. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. The train blocked the railroad crossing for several hours while police investigated. An autopsy is scheduled for later today.

Prison Health company pulling out of Vermont

The private company that provides medical services to Vermont's prisons is pulling out, and the head of the state Department of Corrections says he's looking forward to their departure. Prison Health Services announced earlier this month that after four years, it would not seek to renew its contract when it expires at the end of the year. Corrections Commissioner Andrew Pallito said it's probably no coincidence that the announcement comes just after the death of Vermont inmate Ashley Ellis. The Medical Examiner concluded her death was complicated by a denial of access to medication at the state jail in Swanton. Prison Health Services hasn't been implicated of any wrongdoing so far, but an investigation found a nurse ordered to give Ellis potassium for an eating disorder failed to do so.

FairPoint fights back

FairPoint Communications fought back against its critics this week and told state officials it's done nothing that would result in its license to operate being taken away. The Vermont Public Service Department this summer asked the Public Service Board, which regulates telecommunication companies, to open an investigation to determine why the company's authority to operate should not be revoked. Board members were surprised by FairPoint officials who said do not believe there is evidence to support that move. The PSD's James Porter said the Department's concerns have been clearly explained to FairPoint officials during informal monthly workshops. He called for the end of those workshops during the meeting Wednesday, saying future conversations with the company need to be formal and on-the-record.

Arrest in protection order violation

A Bellows Falls man denied in court that he repeatedly violated an abuse prevention order. 33-year-old
Christian Hansen was ordered not to have contact with his estranged wife, but was arrested by Bellows Falls police Monday night in the woman's apartment. His estranged wife told that Hansen had called, visited and text messaged her repeated every since the order was issued on September 23rd. If convicted, he could face three years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Scozzafava Leads Race

Who's ahead in the race for the 23rd Congressional seat from New York?

The Press Republican reports that the latest polling numbers in the district show that Diedre 'Dede' Scozzafava is leading her challengers.
She has a seven point lead over her closest rival. The poll was taken by Sena Research and shows that Scozzafava got 35 percent of the vote, while Democrat William Owens garnered 28 percent. Douglas Hoffman is the Conservative Party Candidate has numbers of only 16 percent. A little more than 600 likely voters in Vermont participated in the poll that was taken from Sunday through Tuesday and has a margin of error of about four percent.

Dubie Says He'll Run

Finally! An answer to the question will he or won't he?

And the answer is he will! Lieutenant Brian Dubie will run for Vermont governor. He made that announcement yesterday. He'll be vying for the seat that will have no incumbent since his boss, current governor Jim Douglas announced that he will not seek reelection. Dubie is a Republican and says he'll focus on the state's financial security, economic opportunities and jobs if he's elected to office.

Giant pepper theft solved

Police in Bennington say they've solved the giant chili caper. Four people have been sentenced for trying to steal a 300 pound metal chili pepper from the roof of Chili's Restaurant last month. Police say the four ran an electrical extension cord across four lanes of traffic to power an electric drill that they used to remove the pepper. They hadn't thought about the burglar alarm, which led police to the failed prank. Among the four were two Bennington College seniors, a recent graduate and an applicant to an Ivy League school. Under a plea agreement, the four were given two-year deferred sentences. They were ordered to do a car wash in the parking lot of the Chili's as part of their community service.

Woman plays dead to escape attacker

A woman escaped death at the hands of an attacker by playing dead, according to Rutland authorities.
Police say Ian Patureau walked into a police station and said he had killed a woman at his home. Officers found the woman lying on a couch in the apartment covered with red marks and scratches.
Police said after fighting the man unsuccssfully, she relaxed to convince him that she was dead. She told police she was holding an infant at the time of the attack. Patureau pleaded innocent to felony aggravated domestic assault and endangerment of a child.