Monday, November 30, 2009

WVTK Local News November 30, 2009

Plans for a temporary Lake Champlain ferry service aimed at providing a temporary link for the now-closed Lake Champlain Bridge are moving ahead, with the state of Vermont hiring a contractor to build the ferry landing on the Vermont side.
The state Agency of Transportation chose Kubricky Construction, of Mechanicville, N.Y., to do the Vermont land work. Starting Monday, the company will build approach roads in preparation for in-water construction of ferry docks. Similar work is under way on the New York side. The bridge, linking Crown Point, N.Y., and West Addison, Vt., was closed suddenly Oct. 16 amid safety concerns. The states of Vermont and New York plan to demolish it and build a new one, and the ferry service is being started to carry vehicles across Lake Champlain until the new one is built.

The second part of Vermont's archery season for deer began Saturday, and state wildlife officials say hunters are seeing more big, older bucks thanks to antler restrictions begun four years ago. Muzzleoader deer season began yesterday, too.

Vermont State Police say a routine traffic stop led to the discovery of hallucinogenic mushrooms and the arrest of a New Hampshire man. Twenty-3-year-old Jason Collins, of Claremont, N.H., was stopped for an unnamed minor motor vehicle violation Nov. 20 on Interstate 91 in Hartland.

A large, wet snowfall stranded drivers in Buels Gore, Vt., near the Appalachian Gap, and caused others to skid off Route 17. The road was salted and cleared of snow. Police said several vehicles were unprepared for the winter driving season because they did not have snow tires on their vehicles.

The Vermont State Employees Association and the Vermont chapter of the National Education Association say they haven't received a seat at the table to add to the discussions. State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding says the unions have been asked repeatedly for input on alternatives, but haven't made any recommendations.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is expected to face tough questioning during a reappointment hearing this week, and 1 of Vermont's U.S. Senators says he won't support another term for the Fed chief. Senator Bernie Sanders says Bernanke is "part of the problem" facing the U.S. economy. Bernanke's nomination will be considered Thursday.

A legislative committee that reviews rules issued by the executive agencies of state government appears poised to object to one that would allow all-terrain vehicles on state-owned land. 5 of 8 members of the Legislative Committee say they believe the question of ATVs on state land should be settled by the full Legislature.

New England scallopers are wondering why new restrictions have been placed on what has for years been the region's healthiest fishery. The number of fishing days has been cut from 37 this year to 29 next year. That's lowered the projected catch by about 11 million pounds. The reduced days are aimed at increasing the number of scallops.

Northern New England's ski industry is viewing the upcoming season with optimism, saying the amount of snow nature sends the region is a much bigger factor in determining how well the ski areas fare. Improvements continued through the off-season at New England resorts, although not on a scale as when times are better.

Friday, November 27, 2009

WVTK Local News November 27, 2009

The official holiday shopping season kicks off today, but for you head out, Burlington Police are offering the following advice:

Shop with a friend
Shop during daylight hours
Have your car keys in hand when approaching your vehicle
Don't carry more than you can handle
Be aware of your surroundings
Disconnect from technology ( cell phones, head phones) when walking
Don't leave valuables in plain sight in your vehicles.
Lock purchases in the trunk.

Also, when it comes to the Internet police say be careful where you shop. Police say to keep your virus software up-to-date and only shop from trusted web sites.

Weather forecasters say a strong nor'easter storm is heading through New England on Friday, with the possibility of leaving behind some high-elevation snow for Vermont's ski slopes. Meteorologists said several inches of snow could accumulate in higher elevations by Saturday night, but lower elevations will likely get little or no accumulation.

A Vermont judge says she wants to explore the idea of conducting a joint trial for 15 of 27 clerical sexual-abuse cases against the state's Roman Catholic diocese. The Burlington Free Press reports the cases Judge Helen Toor might group involve claims by former altar boys at Christ the King Church. They say were molested by the same priest, the Rev. Edward Paquette, during a 2-year period in the late 1970s.

A 27-year-old St. Johnsbury man is facing lewd and lascivious conduct charges involving a 15-year-old boy. St. Johnsbury police say James Goodhue was awaiting trial on two counts of sexual assault on a minor when he was cited on the new charges. As a condition of release, Goodhue was required not to have intentional contact with anyone younger than 16. But Detective Jennifer McGarvin says police learned he had inappropriately touched a 15-year-old boy on three occasions in the past four months.

Police will boost patrols this Thanksgiving holiday weekend to make sure drivers slow down, buckle up and stay sober. Police say large numbers of drivers will be out during the holiday often traveling long distances so they may be in a hurry. Authorities say the holiday also puts drivers in a festive mood, which can lead to drinking and driving. Not only will police be stopping speeders and drunk drivers, but state police Lt. David Notte tells the Rutland Herald there's a big focus on seatbelt use.

The state Attorney General's Office has paid $40,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a Fairlee man who claims he was Tasered in 2006 by state police as he was having a seizure that was mistaken as an attempt to resist arrest. Lawrence Fairbrother sued in 2007, alleging excessive force.

A New Hampshire judge has dismissed a Barre, Vermont man's Right-to-Know lawsuit against the city of Keene. Wallace Nolen wanted names, titles and salary information for all city employees in an electronic format for a database he's creating for a lawsuit. The judge ruled paper records were sufficient.

Police in Newport say they are looking for a man and woman in a gunpoint robbery at a convenience store. Police said the couple entered the East Main General Store on Wednesday evening. Both wore masks, and the man demanded money from a clerk.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

WVTK Local News November 26, 2009

H A P P Y T H A N K S G I V I N G !

Thanksgiving Holiday:
Basin Harbor Ferry and ACTR bus services WILL NOT run on 11/26 and 11/27. ACTR's Dial-a-Ride service IS available.

Essex County Transportation WILL NOT run on 11/26 and 11/27. The Essex to Charlotte ferry will continue to run as scheduled. The Fort Ticonderoga ferry WILL be open.

Demand is up at food shelves around Vermont this Thanksgiving, but many charities say they have been able to meet the need through donations and food drives. In Bellows Falls, the Our Place Drop-In Center has served 53 percent more meals in the last year.

Investigations by the state Attorney General and the Washington County State's Attorney have both concluded a Hardwick police officer was justified last spring when he fired two shots at a car heading toward him. Both probes found Officer Michael Gero reasonably believed he was in danger.

Two employees of the Vermont Weatherization Assistance Program are on paid leave while officials conduct an internal investigation. State officials aren't saying what is being investigated. Officials say weatherization services for low-income Vermonters aren't affected.

An Allentown, Pennsylvania man is being held in Vermont on kidnapping charges stemming from what police say was an effort to collect a drug debt. Maurice Laseter pleaded not guilty this week. A Rutland County prosecutors says a federal arrest warrant for Laseter is also pending in Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

WVTK Local News November 25, 2009

Basin Harbor Ferry and ACTR bus services WILL NOT run on 11/26 and 11/27. ACTR's Dial-a-Ride service IS available.
Essex County Transportation WILL NOT run on 11/26 and 11/27. The Essex to Charlotte ferry will continue to run as scheduled. The Fort Ticonderoga ferry WILL be open.

Vermonters have contributed over $175,000 to Operation Holiday Homecoming, which is more than enough to bus 600 Vermont National Guard soldiers home from Indiana on December 23. The cost for the charter buses will be $85,000, much less than expected because some drivers are donating their time. The extra money will be donated to the Vermont National Guard Charitable Foundation, which helps Guard families during deployments.

Police across Vermont and New York are out in force to enforce safe travel and monitor seat belt use. Increased enforcement runs thru the weekend. In 2008, 398 people lost their lives in accidents across the country over the Thanksgiving holiday period. No lives were lost in Vermont. Police say the busiest time on the roads will be between 5 and 9 PM tonight.

Doctors at Vermont's largest hospital are questioning a recommendation from a federal task force that breast cancer screening for women in their 40s be scaled back. Dr. Sally Herschorn, co-director of the breast imaging unit at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, says roughly a fifth of breast cancer diagnoses in recent years have been in women aged 40 to 49.

New York's latest attempt to avoid a fiscal crisis devolved yesterday into Governor David Paterson seeking emergency power to close a $3.2 billion deficit because lawmakers are what the governor calls "afraid" of special interests. Senators promptly called him "King David" and then went home for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

The Windham Orchestra has put director David Runnion on unpaid leave after he was cited on sex charges. Investigators tell the Brattleboro Reformer Runnion asked a minor to send him nude images. A concert in Saxtons River that Runnion was to lead last week was canceled.

An elderly West Windsor man has been found incompetent to face charges after he allegedly fired off a barrage of rifle shots at his neighbor after going off his medications. The Lebanon Valley News reports Peter Burch will stay for now at the Vermont State Hospital.

FairPoint Communications, struggling to reorganize and emerge from bankruptcy, has hired two Maine firms to beef up its marketing and communications.The phone company says it has hired Portland-based Garrand and the VIA Group to help get the word out about its services.The company says it lost $77 million in the quarter ending Sept. 30.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

WVTK Local News November 24, 2009

Weeks after the Crown Point Bridge was closed for safety reasons across Lake Champlain, state transportation officials say there's a good chance they'll drop the bridge with explosives before the lake freezes over. The span's pieces would then be pulled from the water.

A federal report suggests 12 percent of Vermont's households are struggling with 'food insecurity - making the state the sixth hungriest state in the country. Congressman Peter Welch says the survey also finds one in 20 Vermonters is severely hungry.

There appears to be a bidding war for wholesale roaster and distributor Diedrich Coffee. Retailer Peet's says it's raised its offer for the operation to $32 per share, $2 more than Green Mountain's latest bid, which totaled $247 million.

Senator Patrick Leahy is lauding the Senate's confirmation of Essex Junction woman Christina Reiss (rys) to become Vermont's new federal judge. Leahy says the confirmation process took just 17 days from hearing to vote, which made it the fastest one this year.

A Vermont judge has granted sole custody of a girl to her nonbiological mother in a custody dispute involving a former lesbian couple. A Family Court judge awarded custody of the 7-year-old to Janet Jenkins of Fair Haven after finding the biological mother, Lisa Miller, in contempt of court for denying Jenkins access to the girl.

Vermont and Maine are moving ahead of other states on regulating pollution in storm water running off roofs and parking lots, which often carries oil and other toxic substances. A permit could require property owners to make improvements like installing grassy areas to absorb runoff from paved areas or other measures.

Vermonters eligible to get vaccinated against swine flu can get their shots this week. A clinic is being offered today at the Hyde Park town clerk's office from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., but is by invitation only. Other vaccinations are being given at the Montpelier High School the Chittenden-Grand Isle Visiting Nurses Association.

Monday, November 23, 2009

WVTK Local News November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Holiday Ferry Service:
Basin Harbor Ferry and ACTR bus services WILL NOT run on 11/26 and 11/27. ACTR's Dial-a-Ride service IS available.
Essex County Transportation WILL NOT run on 11/26 and 11/27. The Essex to Charlotte ferry will continue to run as scheduled. The Fort Ticonderoga ferry WILL be open.

The U.S. Senate has approved the nomination of Vermont state Judge Christina Reiss to become the state's next federal judge. The 47-year-old Reiss (pronounced Rice) of Essex Junction is the first woman to serve on Vermont's federal district court.

U.S. Rep. Peter Welch will start Thanksgiving week with a visit to a food bank in Barre. The Vermont Democrat will hear about the growing problem of hunger in Vermont in his stop today at the Vermont Foodbank. The federal government says 10.2 percent of Vermont households struggle with hunger.

A 49-year-old Cabot man has been charged for allegedly sexually assaulting a juvenile boy over the past four years. Vermont State Police say James Davison was arrested and being held at a jail in South Burlington on $10,000 bail. He is to be arraigned today.

Police say a 53-year-old Vermont man was killed and a juvenile girl was injured when they were thrown off an all-terrain vehicle that went out of control on a road in Poultney. Police say the driver, Edward Kasuba of Poultney, died. The girl was taken to Rutland Regional Medical Center.

New Hampshire state police say a man who hit a large deer with his vehicle on Interstate 89 tried to warn oncoming traffic about the crash before he was struck by two cars and injured. Timotheus Phol of Hartland, Vt., was struck by cars driven by a Maine motorist and a Massachusetts driver

The results are in, hot from the oven: Green Mountain Technical and Career Center of Hyde Park, has captured top honors in an annual cooking contest in Vermont's capital, for the second year in a row. The second annual Vermont Culinary Classic drew high school culinary students from around the state.

Ben & Jerry's has named its newest ice cream flavor after Vermont native and champion snowboarder Hannah Teter. It's called Hannah Teter's Maple Blondie. It's maple ice cream with blonde brownie pieces and a maple caramel swirl. It's the first time the ice cream company has named a flavor after an athlete.

The Vermont National Guard wants hunters and other civilians to stay off an 11,000-acre firing range in Bolton, Jericho and Underhill. Soldiers heading to Iraq and Afghanistan use the range. Officials say hunters have been putting themselves and soldiers at risk by trespassing on the federal property.

Vermont's passenger trains are seeing a slightly positive trend in ridership despite the economic downturn. Both the Ethan Allen train between Rutland and New York and the Vermonter out of St. Albans saw slight increases in ridership in the 12 months ending Sept. 30 and again last month.

Mother Nature has postponed opening day for some of Vermont's ski areas. Stowe, Sugarbush and Okemo Mountain Resort had planned to open Saturday, but they have pushed back the date because warm weather has hindered snowmaking.

Friday, November 20, 2009

WVTK Local News November 20, 2009

Federal immigration officials are cracking down on Vermont dairy farmers asking them to provide records to prove their workers are legal. So far, 4 dairy farms have been served subpoenas. Dairy farmers in Vermont and elsewhere have turned to imported help because of the difficulty hiring people locally to do the work.

Work on access roads for the new Crown Point Bridge Ferry is expected to start today. Meanwhile, operational trials started yesterday. The new 40-car ferry arrived yesterday and immediately began running trial runs between Crown Point and Chimney Point. Operators of the Ticonderoga Ferry say they will try to keep running until the new ferry goes online.

Governor David Paterson announced yesterday that a $2.9 million economic-assistance program will help businesses affected by the sudden closure of the Crown Point Bridge. He said the program will address the region's full range of economic industries by awarding grants and making low-interest loans.

Plattsburgh City Councilors voted in favor of keeping fluoride in the city's drinking water. The vote came after about an hour's worth of comments from the public and debate among the council. The measure to remove the chemical from the city’s drinking water failed by a 4 to 2 count.

There is a free public H1N1 flu clinic at the South Burlington Middle School on Saturday. From 9 to 3, both the nasal mist and the shot will be available but only for those in a priority group will be able to get them. Health officials expect a large turnout for the clinic, so it's recommended that people get there early.

A federal agency says 136 people died in New England from work-related injuries last year. That's 27 fewer than in the previous year and the lowest number since it began compiling the statistics in 1992. The 2008 preliminary figures show there were 24 deaths in Maine, 10 in Vermont, seven in New Hampshire and six in Rhode Island.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has approved the nomination of a Vermont state judge to become the state's next federal judge. The office of U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy says the nomination of Judge Christina Reiss (Rice) of Essex Junction was passed yesterday without discussion. The nomination must now be confirmed by the full Senate.

Ice cream icons Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield and former Governor Phil Hoff lent their voices yesterday to those who want the state Legislature to turn thumbs down on Vermont Yankee's request for a 20-year license extension. Cohen says the nuclear power plant flies in the face of Vermont's image as having a pure environment.

A local café and Middlebury College venture will either sink or swim at the end of the year. The cafe, 51 Main, is owned by the college. The school started the space as a student idea, part of an initiative to integrate student life and the town. The deadline for the decision is early December, and the school's president will have the final say.

Police say someone broke into the Small Dog Electronics Store in Waitsfield last week. An unknown suspect entered the store at about 1:30 AM November 12 by smashing a window. Computer equipment and software were taken. This incident remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call the Vermont State Police or Central Vermont Crime Stoppers.

Vermont State Police are issuing warnings about phone scams that seem to be targeting senior citizens. According to police, the callers use blocked numbers and ask the recipient to send bail money because a relative has been arrested in Canada. Other scams involve promises of lottery money that requires $1,000 to secure the prize.

Authorities are investigating a strong armed robbery at the Champlain Farms Fast Stop in Waterbury. Police say it happened just before 7 last Friday night. Police say an unknown man, dressed in dark clothing, grabbed a store clerk by the back of the neck and then demanded money. Police say the man did not display a weapon during the attack.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

WVTK Local News November 19, 2009

Vermont and seven other states will share nearly $4 million in economic stimulus funding to support a green jobs program. The states will use the funding to produce data on the demand for green jobs, and list job openings and job training in clean energy industries as part of an effort to develop a green jobs bank.

Vermont Health Department officials say three students got doses of swine flu vaccine at school-based clinics against the wishes of their parents. Health Commissioner Dr. Wendy Davis calls the errors extremely unfortunate but says the errors come against the backdrop of thousands of doses being delivered without incident.

State Police in Vermont have seized $200,000 worth of marijuana believed to have been dropped from a plane into a field near the U.S.-Canadian border. Police say they received several 911 calls about pot being dropped from a yellow plane in Newport Center. When police arrived, they found nearly 55 pounds of marijuana.

Vermont has been ranked the healthiest state in the country. United Health Foundation, the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention say in their 20th anniversary edition of America's Health Rankings that Vermont is the healthiest state.

Vermont freighter captain Richard Phillips says he has nothing to say about the latest attempt by Somali hijackers to take the Maersk Alabama, which was repelled by security guards today. Phillips was captain on the ship and taken captive when it was hijacked in April.

A New Hampshire grand jury has indicted a Lunenburg, Vermont, woman on negligent homicide charges in a deadly traffic accident in July. The Berlin Daily Sun reports investigators concluded Diane Silsby was under the influence of alcohol in the crash, which killed her mother, daughter and a Maine woman.

The owner of Vermont's Killington ski resort, Powdr Corporation, is laying plans to expand its ski empire in Colorado. The company says it has a deal to buy Copper Mountain, but the arrangement still needs approval from federal officials.

New York Lawmakers still have not come to an agreement on how to deal with a $3.2-Billion deficit. But they have come up with several ways to blame each other for inaction. Meanwhile, Governor David Paterson says he will soon begin planning how to deal with the worst case scenario of no deal at all.

Drunk Drinking Laws in New York just got stiffer. The senate has given approval to Leandra's law. The law is named for 11-year-old Leandra Rosado. The law makes it a felony to drive drunk with a child 15 or younger in the car. It also requires anyone with a dwi conviction to have a device installed -- that prevents you from starting your car -- if you are intoxicated.

Vermont Health Officials say a second person has died in the state from the H1N1 virus. Health officials won't release any other details about the person who died, other than to say it was an adult with a serious underlying condition. Also this week, another 20 people were hospitalized, six of them children.

Non-stop flights from Plattsburgh International Airport to Punta Gorda, Florida begin this weekend. Direct Air will offer the direct flights from Plattsburgh to Punta Gorda, which is halfway between Fort Myers and Sarasota starting Saturday Morning and running thru April 17 beginning at $99 each way.

The Marble Valley Regional Transit District, operators of The Bus, will introduce a new route on Monday on the south side of the city, thanks to a three-year federal grant awarded in October by Vermont Agency of Transportation. The Bus is working to finalize the stops along the route by Friday, according to Ellen Coyle, community outreach director. However, Coyle said the route, which will be called the south route extension, is intended to help alleviate pressure on the existing south and hospital routes and is expected to travel through the Howe Center, onto Park Street and Route 7 South, up Curtis Avenue and Mussey Street, onto Allen Street and Stratton Avenue to the hospital. It will operate from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. The details of the route's stop should be available online at by Friday and will be posted in the transit center and on the organization's buses, according to Coyle. (From the Rutland Herald)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

WVTK Local News November 18, 2009

An official says construction could begin this week on a new ferry crossing between Vermont and New York that would take the place of the now-closed Lake Champlain Bridge between Addison and Crown Point. Vermont Transportation Agency spokesman John Zicconi says the first phase of construction will be to build access roads to the edge of the lake. Then the in-lake portion of construction can begin. Zicconi says officials are close to getting all the needed state and federal permits. The 80-year-old bridge was closed Oct. 16 after it was deemed unsafe. The two states are hoping a ferry can replace the bridge until a new one can be built. Zicconi says it's unclear how soon the new ferry could begin operating.

A group of about 15 people whose lives have been disrupted by the Oct. 16 closing of the Lake Champlain Bridge rallied on the Statehouse steps Tuesday, calling for faster work in establishing a temporary ferry and for Vermont to take a bigger role.

Over 100 people attended the Addison County Career Fair yesterday. Organizer John Vowles said 120 came through the door in the first hour of the event. The last job fair by his department, the Vermont Department Of Labor, in Addison County was 2 years ago. Yesterday’s fair was timed roughly to coincide with the last day of operations at Monahan Filaments, which closed the doors of its Middlebury plant on Friday. Roughly half of the job seekers at the fair were from Monahan.

Vermont State Police say a hunter in Shrewsbury has found the remains of a man reported missing more than four years ago. William "Mike" Hogan was last seen near Spring Lake Ranch, a residential treatment facility, in May 2005. Hogan worked at the ranch and had medical difficulties. Police are not treating the disappearance as suspicious.

Maine officials are reminding consumers to check their freezers for recalled ground beef after four people were hospitalized with E. coli poisoning. Fairbank Farms of Ashville, N.Y., recalled almost 546,000 pounds of fresh ground beef that had been distributed in September to stores from North Carolina to Maine.

The Vermont Health Department says more than 700 licensed emergency medical technicians across the state are eligible to administer the H1N1 flu vaccine. The state says that allowing more people including EMT's and paramedics to administer the vaccine, will help ensure people who need the vaccine the most can get it.

A Vermont jury has acquitted a police officer charged with animal cruelty for fatally shooting a neighbor's dog. The jury in Vermont District Court in Hyde Park deliberated yesterday after Michael Wootton described the April 30 dogfight that preceded the shooting. Wootton testified that he shot the dog to save the life of his own dog.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

WVTK Local News November 17, 2009

Ripton residents will be asked this evening for their feedback on a plan to stabilize a key stretch of the Middlebury River to prevent it from flooding the village during major storm events. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the Ripton Community House. The river in August of 2008 jumped its banks and flooded portions of Ripton village.

The closing of the Champlain Bridge has caused another closure. State officials have closed the nearby Chimney Point fishing access area indefinitely because of safety concerns. Officials say boaters and anglers can drive two miles south to the McCuen Slang Fishing Access, which will be maintained throughout the winter for people who want to go ice fishing.

Vermont's attorney general says the state will receive $45,000 as part of a $3 million multistate settlement with Vonage, an Internet-based telephone company. Vermont and 31 other states have reached a settlement that requires Vonage to changes how it markets its service and handles consumer cancellation requests.

Vermont Senate President Peter Shumlin has officially thrown his hat in the ring. Shumlin announced yesterday that he is running for Governor of Vermont. During the announcement he said Vermont needs a leader with business experience at creating jobs. The state lawmaker from Putney joins four other Democrats so far seeking the party nomination.

The Burlington City Council voted 11 to 3, last night, to pass a resolution apologizing to veterans and recognizing them for their service. The resolution comes after a Veteran's Day speech by a surrogate speaking on behalf of Mayor Bob Kiss. The resolution also calls on the mayor to know in advance what his fill-in speakers are going to stay in the future.

Kristy Sprague has officially been elected the next Essex County district attorney. A final, official count of absentee ballots yesterday gave the win to Sprague by 125 votes against incumbent DA Julie Garcia. Garcia said she hasn’t decided yet what she’ll do when she leaves office. Lawyers from both camps monitored the absentee count.

State police say they're investigating a hunting accident that left a New York man with a gunshot wound to one of his legs. Troopers say 35-year-old Scott Lamare of Morrisonville was hunting Sunday afternoon in a wooded area of Beekmantown, when he was shot in the lower left leg. He was treated at CVPH in Plattsburgh. The investigation is on-going.

The Colchester Select board is looking for ways to improve the traffic flow at Severance Corners. And one of the ideas they are considering is creating a roundabout. The other option is to improve the traffic signs with wider turning lanes. Officials say, the situation is only going to get worse. The Select board delayed a decision on which option to pick until later this month.

A Montpelier Ford dealership hit hard by the Chrysler bankruptcy is getting a new owner. The owner of Formula Ford of South Barre says he reached an agreement to buy Montpelier's Walker Motors. Formula Ford owner Mark Saba says he'll move his Route 14 operation to the Walker location at the intersection of U.S. Routes 2 and 302.

For the second consecutive year, Vermont earned a “B” on the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card. Also for the second consecutive year, the United States earned only a “D” on the Report Card, demonstrating that more than a half million of our nation’s newborns didn’t get the healthy start they deserved. No state earned an “A” and only Vermont received a “B.”

Monday, November 16, 2009

WVTK Local News November 16, 2009

The Ticonderoga Ferry across Lake Champlain will provide service through December; weather permitting, under an agreement reached by Vermont and New York transportation officials. The ferry from Shoreham to Ticonderoga, N.Y., has been a crucial link for many commuters since the abrupt closure of the Champlain Bridge a few weeks ago because of its deterioration. The deal announced Saturday keeps the ferry open and running seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. free of charge for passengers. The ferry service normally shuts down in the fall, but the company will install winterizing equipment so it can operate at least until the lake freezes. In the meantime, snow and ice conditions could cause the operator to cancel or curtail service on short notice for either safety or mechanical reasons. Ridership on the ferry fluctuates around 750 to 800 cars a day, and with carpooling it could easily be carrying more than 1,000 people daily, said a spokesman for the Vermont Agency of Transportation. The states also are finalizing plans for a charter bus service from the Ticonderoga area to take people across the lake on the ferry between Essex, N.Y., and Charlotte. The bus service will assure a reliable all-weather method of crossing the lake once winter weather sets in, the Agency of Transportation spokesman said.

Senate President Peter Shumlin says he'll vote against a 20-year license extension for Vermont Yankee. Shumlin tells Vermont Public Radio he'll oppose an extension because the nuclear plant's owners haven't reached a rate agreement with Vermont utilities. Vermont lawmakers have the power to accept or reject plans to extend the license of the plant for another 20 years.
Northern New England's landline phone users are familiar with FairPoint's record in the region. Now a similar story is being told about Fairpoint in Hawaii after it purchased Verizon Commuinications' wired phone network. The purchase was followed by computer troubles, erroneous billing of customers and long waits for service. Officials in New England are watching the Hawaii case closely.

Vermont sugarmakers say their industry's enjoying good times, but there are still some worries: Insects. About 20 maple sugar producers meeting at the Windham County Sugarmakers annual meeting say last year was 1 of the strongest sugarmaking years in recent history. But sugarmakers are concerned about the Asian Longhorned Beetle and Emerald Ash Borer, that damage trees.

Ski areas are gearing up for the season ahead with new trails, new snowmaking machines and new trail groomers. Saddleback and Sugarloaf have expanded their snowmaking capabilities. There's also word that Mount Abram, Shawnee Peak, Sunday River and the Camden Snow Bowl ski areas will have new trails and expanded ski terrain for the upcoming season.

Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas is to join his fellow Republican governors at a conference in Austin, Texas this week, and the mood is expected to be upbeat. Douglas heads to Austin on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for a meeting of the Republican Governors' Association. That group just saw its ranks grow by two, when Republicans won off-year elections for governorships in New Jersey and Virginia.

Supplies of swine flu serum ran out during a vaccination clinic in Barre over the weekend. Dozens of people were turned away from Saturday's H1N1 clinic after health care workers quickly ran through the 500 doses they had on hand. Nurses were forced to close the doors an hour and a half before the clinic was scheduled to end.

Senator Charles Schumer announced Sunday that a top federal antitrust investigator will examine why farmers here are getting record low milk payments while consumers have seen so little savings. Schumer says he wants to see greater transparency in how the market works.

The Vermont Air National Guard is planning to train at night this week. The night flying exercises will take place tomorrow through Friday. Each night the Guard plans two scheduled takeoffs of multiple aircrafts from the South Burlington base in the early evening. Officials say all F-16s are expected to land by 9:30.

Vermont Auditor Tom Salmon faces a drunken driving charge after being stopped for failing to use a turn signal. Salmon apologized Saturday at a GOP event in Montpelier. Salmon said, "I made a mistake, I own up to it, I'm going to face it as every Vermonter should face whatever difficulties they have".

The rallying cry of "no new plates" has apparently reached the ears of New York's top elected officials. Governor David Paterson says that he would drop support of a plan to require vehicle owners to pay for new license plates if state legislators work with him to find other ways to generate revenue.

New England Officials are closely watching a situation with Hawaiian Telecomm. Hawaiians are dealing with the same issues that have plagued Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine since FairPoint moved in … computer troubles, erroneous billing of customers and long waits for service. Hawaiian Telecom is going though a similar bankruptcy.

The Burlington City Council tonight will vote on a resolution that would apologize to veterans for a Veterans Day speech by Jon Hausrath, a surrogate speaker for Mayor Bob Kiss. In his remarks, which he read to the 50 to 60 veterans and their families, Hausrath praised war resisters.

Vermont Senate President, Peter Shumlin will officially announce today that he is running for governor. Democrat Peter Shumlin of Windham County has served in the legislature for over a decade. He joins four other Democrats already in the race. Shumlin ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2002 and came in second in a three-way race.

Friday, November 13, 2009

WVTK Local News November 13, 2009

The closest ferry to the Champlain Bridge may shut down this weekend. Many travelers have been using the Ticonderoga Ferry since the bridge closed. It's only about ten miles south of the bridge-- the most convenient alternative for many commuters. But the Ti Ferry normally closes for the winter and owners say they will shut down on Sunday unless the state of New York steps in to help supply personnel and pay for improvements to help the ferry operate in wintry weather. Transportation officials say they are in negotiations with the ferry owners and are optimistic a deal can be reached to keep the Ti Ferry operating until a new temporary ferry can begin operating near the bridge.

Vermont state officials are being told the economy may have bottomed out, but the recovery is going to be slow and painful. That was the word yesterday to the state Emergency Board, which is made up of legislative money committee chairs and Governor Jim Douglas. The board meets to get the revenue forecast.

The Plattsburgh Board of Education named a new principal for Plattsburgh High School last night. Glenn Hurlock, currently the assistant principal at PHS, will move over to the main office on January 1st. Parents and teachers said they're glad the whole process is over, and hope the dust will settle now.

A home in Essex Junction is destroyed after a fire last night. Firefighters were called to the two-story home on Cascade Court shortly after 7 and found flames shooting out of the building. Luckily no one was hurt, and no one was home at the time. No word yet on what might have caused the fire.

Two Republican Burlington city councilors are sponsoring a resolution that would offer a public apology to veterans in the wake of comments made by a representative of Progressive Mayor Bob Kiss at a Veterans Day ceremony Wednesday. The speaker, Jon Hausrath of Burlington, upset some members of the crowd at Battery Park with remarks that commemorated war resisters.

Vermont health officials say swine flu continues to spread throughout the state, though they don't have firm numbers. State Health Commissioner Dr. Wendy Davis says many of those developing H1N1 flu symptoms are recovering at home and don't need to get tested, so there's no way to confirm they have the illness.

A fundraising effort to help bring Vermont National Guard troops home for the holidays so far has raised $150,000 that will be used to charter buses. About 700 troops will be training in Indiana in December and will get a week off at the holidays, but must pay for their own trips home.

The Vermont Air National Guard will conduct night flying training next week from Tuesday through Friday. During these training periods, there will be two scheduled multi-aircraft takeoffs during the early evening hours, and all F-16s are expected to be on the ground no later than 9:30.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

WVTK Local News November 12, 2009

Replacing the Lake Champlain Bridge will cost more than $67 million and take at least 22 months, according to a safety assessment report released Wednesday by the New York Department of Transportation. The assessment by HNTB New York Engineering and Architecture P.C., concludes that replacing the bridge is safer, cheaper and quicker than rehabilitating the 80-year-old span. Transportation officials abruptly closed the bridge connecting Addison and Crown Point, N.Y., on Oct. 16 after determining deterioration of piers had made the structure unsafe. The bridge is considered a crucial conduit of commerce between the two states; as many as 3,500 cars and trucks use it daily. The safety assessment report lays out repair alternatives and risks. A short-term repair option extending the bridge’s life span four to five years is projected to take nine months and cost $22.9 million. The report calls it “no more than a stop-gap.”

A longer-term rehabilitation could restore the bridge to service for 50 years, the report says, while also retaining the historic nature of the existing structure. But the cost of long-term rehab soars to more than $84 million, and the repair time would extend to 30 months. “Given the long detour lengths, the importance of the bridge to the regional economy and the need for a safe, reliable crossing at this location for many years to come, both temporary and permanent rehabilitation strategies are inadequate,” the report states. Replacement is the best option, it concludes. “In order to avoid an unacceptable level of risk, we suggest that the existing bridge be demolished in a controlled manner, and replaced with a new bridge at the same alignment,” the report says. Depending on the design, replacement is estimated to cost between $67.2 million and $76.7 million and take 22 to 24 months. A new bridge could serve for 75 to 100 years, the report says. The report recommends demolition of the bridge to begin as soon as possible “to eliminate the risk of sudden, potentially catastrophic, failure.”

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Bondholders who are owed more than $550 million by FairPoint Communications, have withdrawn a motion asking to have an examiner investigate factors leading to FairPoint's Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month. FairPoint bought Verizon's landline and Internet assets in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont last year before filing for bankruptcy.

SANFORD, Maine (AP) - A 2-year-old Maine girl has been reunited with her mother after her father allegedly abducted her, triggering the state's first Amber Alert and a 30-hour manhunt that spanned three states. Hailey Traynham and her mother were reunited this week in Sanford, Maine after a deer hunter spotted the girl and her father in New Hampshire.

RANDOLPH, Vt. (AP) - The families of Vermonters killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are planning a memorial that will be built at the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Randolph. The memorial will be to both service men and women killed in the nation's current wars as well as those who have served in the conflicts.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Brandon McGowan held 2 of the NFL's top tight ends in check for the New England Patriots. On Sunday night against the Indianapolis Colts, he'll face another. Controlling Dallas Clark, the AFC's leading receiver, seems to be a major challenge for a player who made the league as a rookie free agent in 2005 out of Maine.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

WVTK Local News November 11, 2009

There was a rally in Albany, New York yesterday, calling for immediate action on the state's crumbling roads and bridges. Lawmakers, residents and emergency responders say Monday's news that the Champlain Bridge will be torn down highlights a growing problem. They say more than 100 of the state's bridges have a worse safety rating than the Champlain Bridge. North Country Senator Betty Little and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward are among those leading the rally at the capitol.

Police say a missing 2-year-old Maine girl who was allegedly taken by her father has been recovered and is OK. Police tell Foster's Daily Democrat that Hailey Traynham was found in a Milton, New Hampshire home. The girl was found with her father, 38-year-old Gary Traynham, who has been arrested and is due to appear in court later this week.

A group of local and state leaders are teaming up to help the soon-to-be unemployed from Pfizer. The pharmaceutical giant announced that it is closing their plants in Plattsburgh, Rouses Point and Chazy. About 600 people will lose their jobs. The Pfizer Transition Coordinating Council met yesterday morning and will meet again in December.

A St. Albans woman was found guilty last night of trying to hire someone in 2007 to murder her estranged husband. Jurors deliberated for less than 3 hours before convicting 43-year-old Rebecca Wetter. Authorities say Wetter and her daughter hatched the murder scheme to get the 1-million-dollars in Fay Pelletier’s life insurance policy.

Over 100 people showed up last night for a meeting in Milton about a proposed wind turbine project for the top of Georgia Mountain. If built, it would be the first commercial wind energy project in Chittenden County. About two dozen people spoke at the hearing, and opinion was about evenly divided between those for and against the proposal.

The worst of the recession may be over, but a new economic forecast points to a "slow and weak recovery" in the New England states, with job losses likely to continue until the 4th quarter of next year. The report, released by the New England Economic Partnership, says the region lost about 346-thousand jobs since the beginning of last year.

Vermont fire investigators say the fire that destroyed the Putney General Store last week was arson. A $15,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for setting the November 1 fire. Authorities say that accelerants were used and that the fire was obviously set.

The state of Vermont has over $48 million in unclaimed property and some of it could be yours. It’s all money from dormant bank accounts, never-cashed checks or a forgotten security deposits. To see if the state has some of your money, just check the State Treasurer’s website at

A two-car crash sent two people to the hospital in Colchester last night. It happened on Route 7 between the intersections of Rathe Road and Hercules Drive at around 9:15. Police say 18-year-old Jacob Burnham of Milton was driving north when his vehicle crossed the center line, hitting a car driven by 46-year-old Patricia Ward of Colchester.

After attempting to escape his local prison sentence, Scott Miller is now being held without bail. The 31-year-old Plattsburgh man was caught in Montreal last weekHis drug arrest came during the investigation into the death of Plattsburgh teen Julia DelSignore, who overdosed hours after Miller provided her with some of the medications.

A Vermont prisoner is back in custody after police said he tried to escape with a deputy's gun. Police said 29-year-old Robert Blaise passed out in court and was taken to Middlebury Hospital. When a deputy went to adjust Blaise's leg shackles, police said Blaise grabbed the deputy's gun and tried to take off, but he never made it out of the hospital.

Many of the spending cuts now being debated in Albany would have a direct impact on local governments here in the North Country. In many cases, county employees deliver the health and social service programs funded by New York State. Officials say everything from jobs to health care could see painful reductions in the next year.

Visitors to Clarendon Gorge will have to be careful where they park or risk being ticketed by law enforcement officials. The Clarendon Select Board has adopted an ordinance that prohibits parking on either side of a section of Gorge Road from the intersection of Route 7B Central to the intersection of East Street.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

WVTK Local News November 10, 2009

Both Governor’s Jim Douglas and David Patterson received reports yesterday that say the Champlain Bridge can not be repaired. Engineers have declared that the 80-year-old span is too unstable to be renovated, and recommend demolishing the bridge for the safety of motorists and boaters. Efforts for a ferry service to run next to the existing bridge are now being fast-tracked.

Pfizer will be closing its research and development operations in Rouses Point, Chazy and Plattsburgh. The move will result in the loss of nearly 600 jobs. Rouses Point and Plattsburgh operations will close sometime next year, while Chazy will be shut down sometime in 2011.

The Burlington City Council voted unanimously last night to make public the exchange between city attorneys and the administration of Mayor Bob Kiss about Burlington Telecom burrowing 17-Million-Dollars from the city and not repaying the city in 60 days, which is a violation of conditions of its state license.

Federal prosecutors say a judge has ordered a drug fugitive once featured on "America's Most Wanted" held for trial. 38-year-old Edward "Big Ed" Campbell, was arraigned yesterday in U.S. District Court in Burlington. He's charged with distribution of Oxycontin and violating federal supervised release.

Vermont Judge Christina Reiss ("Rice"), whom President Barack Obama has nominated to the federal bench, is up for a confirmation hearing tomorrow. Senator Patrick Leahy says the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, will review the nomination of the Essex Junction resident to the U.S. District Court for Vermont.

State Police say two Rutland police officers stopped a suspicious vehicle on Sunday night and noticed that one of the occupants, 22-year-old Tyshawn L. Plowden, of New York, appeared to have a handgun. Plowden fled and was arrested later at a residence in Rutland and has been charged with aggravated assault.

An Amber Alert was issued in Vermont, New Hampshire and New York last night for a missing 2-year-old girl who police said was taken by her father in Maine after a violent assault on the girl's mother. Maine State Police are looking for 38-year-old Gary Traynham and his daughter, Hailey, who was taken from her mother's apartment in Sanford at about 11:15 yesterday morning.

The Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf is renewing its call to the community to help provide turkeys for over 2,700 families in Chittenden County. The food shelf has served more than a thousand new clients in the past year. Donors can drop off turkeys and other fixings to the food shelf on North Winooski Avenue in Burlington.

About 60 people attending a town meeting Tuesday at Essex High School voted to allow Essex officials to upgrade two stormwater systems. The upgrades will cost about $450,000 but federal stimulus dollars will cover half the costs through loan forgiveness. Only one resident voted against the proposal.

A big recall for parents, about one million Maclaren strollers are being pulled off the shelves. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says it has received a dozen reports of children having their fingertips amputated by a hinge. The strollers were sold at Target and Babies R Us. The company is offering free repair kits to fix the problem.

State Police say two Rutland police officers stopped a suspicious vehicle on Sunday night and noticed that 1 of the occupants, 22-year-old Tyshawn L. Plowden, of New York, appeared to have a handgun. Plowden fled and was arrested later at a residence in Rutland and has been charged with aggravated assault.

For More Local News Visit:

Monday, November 9, 2009


Pier Analysis Completed, Rehabilitation Ruled Out As Viable Option
New York Governor David A. Paterson and Vermont Governor Jim Douglas have received a report from their states' respective transportation agencies which finds that it is not feasible to rehabilitate the Champlain Bridge. Engineers have declared that the 80-year-old span is too unstable to be renovated, and recommend demolishing the bridge for the safety of motorists and boaters. The states will accept these recommendations based on the overwhelming safety issues enumerated in the report and will begin planning the construction of a new bridge in its place. We expect the Federal Highway Administration to concur with this recommendation based on their preliminary review of the report.
An underwater inspection of the bridge's concrete piers and underlying foundations found cracks and significant deterioration in the unreinforced concrete substructures well below the water level that render these supports so fragile that a sudden collapse could occur.
"Safety was our primary concern when we closed the Lake Champlain Bridge last month and it is our chief interest now," Governor Paterson said. "We must make a decision that protects those who cross the bridge, as well as workers and engineers, and therefore we have no choice but to tear down the dangerously deteriorated bridge. Both states are committed to moving quickly to reestablish the critical link by building a new bridge in this corridor to serve commuters, farms and businesses."
"Reports indicate that the bridge is highly unstable and our harsh winter will only aggravate its condition. For everyone's safety, the bridge must be dismantled in a controlled fashion quickly so that a replacement bridge can be erected in its place," Governor Douglas said. "In the meantime, both states are working to install temporary ferry service as close to the bridge as possible so that motorists can once again begin crossing Lake Champlain between Addison and Crown Point."
The Governors also announced that ferry service will be established near the existing bridge. That effort has been fast-tracked, and the new service will be in place as quickly as possible.
Stanley Gee, Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), said: "Now that the analysis is completed and the bridge has been found unstable, we can work quickly to demolish the existing bridge and accelerate the process for building a permanent replacement. We look forward to restoring vehicle and pedestrian traffic across the lake. In order to preserve and protect the historically and environmentally sensitive areas on both side of Lake Champlain, we plan to build the replacement bridge as close to the existing location as is possible."
David Dill, Vermont's Secretary of Transportation, said: "We will begin the process of working on a new bridge immediately. The bridge closure significantly disrupted communities on both sides of the lake, and
the fastest way to return families, businesses and farms back to normal is to quickly provide them a new bridge."
On October 16, inspectors in consultation with engineers determined that the bridge was unsafe for use and it was closed to protect the public. A detailed review and underwater inspection of the bridge's concrete substructure was ordered, and HNTB, NYSDOT's design consultant, is now finalizing a report based on the accelerated underwater inspection. The report outlines significant safety issues that would be associated with any potential bridge repair plan. The severity of deterioration to the piers would put contractors and engineers working in close proximity to the bridge in great danger. Cracks in the piers caused by repeated freeze-thaw cycles have made the structure too fragile to guarantee workers' safety. Oncoming winter weather conditions, including wind, freezing temperatures, snow and ice, only heighten concerns.
According to the report's Executive Summary, "If any major cracks were to develop diagonally in the pier or deterioration reduces the contact bearing area between concrete segments, the pier could fail without warning. The risk and safety for personnel working in close proximity to the existing, fragile bridge is too great to permit rehabilitation in any form. Moving forward, the existing bridge should be razed in a controlled manner eliminating the risk of sudden, potentially catastrophic, bridge failure."
Both Governors have emphasized that until a new bridge can be built, a temporary new ferry service should be established as quickly as possible. To that end, they noted that all of the required environmental documentation will be submitted to the appropriate federal agencies early this week, so that construction of new ferry docks can begin as soon as possible.
Last month, Governor Paterson and Governor Douglas announced transportation alternatives to assure that residents could cross Lake Champlain. Those alternatives include a free ferry service between Ticonderoga, New York and Shoreham, Vermont as well as free ferry service at Lake Champlain Transportation's ferry service at the Essex/Charlotte crossing. Additionally, a free express bus service now brings commuters to three major employers in Vermont, while a pedestrian ferry service was established north of the Lake Champlain Bridge between Westport, New York and Basin Harbor, Vermont.
A toll-free hotline number for information about the bridge closure - 1-888-769-7243 - which was established in October will remain open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those calling from the 518 area code may dial 518-485-1159. The New York State outreach center is located in the Lake Champlain Visitors Center at 814 Bridge Rd. in Crown Point.
Further, to assure that the public is continually informed, regular e-mail updates are being sent to residents of both states who have signed up to receive them. These updates can be accessed by visiting the respective state transportation agency websites at in New York, and in Vermont. The full HNTB report will be available at and later this week.

WVTK Local News November 9, 2009

Police cited Connie Landon, 33, of Weybridge with two counts of committing cruelty to animals, for allegedly abusing her dogs: Oreo, a "severely underweight" St. Bernard with deep cuts around its neck due to an embedded collar, and Digger, a malnourished German shepherd whom police found entangled in a chain and standing in garbage, Vermont State Police Trooper Andrew Leise said Landon is scheduled to appear in Vermont District Court in Middlebury on Dec. 7. Leise searched Landon's property Nov. 6 with members of the Addison County Humane Society and a representative from the Middlebury Animal Hospital. The Humane Society reported the alleged animal abuse Nov. 5.

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - The lawyer for a Vermont slaughterhouse shut down for allegedly mistreating baby calves says the person who secretly filmed footage that led to the closure provoked a plant worker to mistreat the animals. Officials shut down Bushway Packing after video was released showing young calves being shocked, kicked and dragged.

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge has scheduled a hearing on a motion to appoint an examiner to investigate factors leading to FairPoint Communication's Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month. FairPoint's largest holdings are in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, where it bought Verizon Communications' landline and Internet assets last year.

RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) - A new program set up to develop new Vermont farm products has won a $469,000 federal grant. Sen. Patrick Leahy says the money will go to the Vermont Agricultural Innovation Demonstration Center. Housed at the state Agency of Agriculture, the center will try to help farmers and food businesses connect with untapped markets.

BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) - A new holiday exhibit at the Bennington Museum celebrates the work of former "Henry" cartoonist Don Trachte. "Season's Greetings: Holiday Cards by Don Trachte and Friends," featuring a collection owned by Don Trachte, Jr., of Bennington, opens Nov. 19 and runs through Dec. 31.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- A New York archaeological team began work Friday on a state-owned campground at an 18th-century military site where a temporary ferry service is being considered to replace the closed Lake Champlain Bridge. Experts from the New York State Museum in Albany were planning to excavate sections of the Crown Point campground, next to the bridge at the south end of Lake Champlain, across the lake from Addison, VT. New York transportation officials closed the bridge Oct. 16 after an inspection turned up severe erosion on some of the concrete piers supporting the 2,184-foot span. The bridge, which connects Crown Point and Addison, accommodated about 3,500 vehicles a day. A temporary ferry service would require construction on both shorelines at historically sensitive places that were the sites of British and French forts and settlements. At the New York end of the bridge, a state historic site that's home to 18th-century military ruins is directly across the road from the campground where other colonial remnants have been found. On the Vermont side, artifacts from French settlements dating back to the mid-1700s have been uncovered at a place known as Chimney Point. 

If the ferry project receives approval from regulatory agencies in both states; access roads would have to be built from the Vermont and New York bridge approach roads to the shorelines. The access roads would cross ground occupied by armies of Englishmen, Frenchmen and Americans for much of the 1700s. "It's one of the major French and British military concentrations in the country, and before that you would have had Native Americans," said archaeologist David Starbuck, who excavated Chimney Point 20 years ago but wasn't taking part in the current project. New York state archaeologist Christina Rieth said experts from the State Museum will examine an area of the campground for significant artifacts. Their analysis will be passed on to state Department of Transportation engineers who would design the new road to the shoreline. Similar work was being done on the other side of the bridge, said John Zicconi, spokesman for the Vermont Agency of Transportation. 

"We've not been made aware of any hurdles at all from an archaeological standpoint on our side," he said. The DOT, in charge of bridge maintenance, and the AOT are among an alphabet soup of government agencies working to get the required permits to start a ferry service. All are trying to find a quick solution -- whether it be a temporary bridge or a new ferry -- to a vexing situation that has resulted in an 80-mile detour for those who used the bridge regularly. At the same time, the agencies are aware of the historically sensitive nature of Crown Point and its place in the region's history. 

"A lot of things that happened at other places during the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War really started here," said Charles Vandrei, historic preservation officer for New York's Department of Environmental Conservation, which operates the Crown Point campground. While never subjected to a direct assault, Crown Point was a key staging area and supply base for military operations, first by the French starting in the 1730s and later by the British and Colonial forces. Most of the notable military figures from the era were at Crown Point at various times, from Maj. Robert Rogers of Rogers' Rangers fame to Benedict Arnold. George Washington also stopped by for a visit during his tour of northern military sites at the end of the American Revolution.

Friday, November 6, 2009

WVTK Local News November 6, 2009

Work toward a temporary 24-hour ferry near the closed Champlain Bridge is under way. The states of New York and Vermont are applying for the proper permits to operate the temporary ferry. Officials say, as we work with the various permit agencies, both state and federal, ranging from environmental to historic to archeological, engineers are working on the dock and road design.

State health officials say they’re making headway in the local fight against the H1N1 flu. So far about 23-thousand doses of the H1N1 Vaccine have been administers to adults, another 5-thousand have been given to children. Only 4 schools have closed temporally. And there are about 40 more vaccination clinics planed in the next couple weeks across the state.

A prosecutor says state Senator Edward Flanagan will not face charges over allegations he engaged in inappropriate conduct at a Burlington health club. Addison County State's Attorney Chris Perkett, who reviewed the case, says he cannot prove Flanagan intentionally engaged in the behavior inside a men's fitness room at the YMCA.

The sentencing of former Plattsburgh Assemblyman Chris Ortloff has been delayed again. Ortloff has been in federal custody since last April. He pleaded guilty to trying to meet with two preteen sisters. Ortloff was due to appear in court next week to face a minimum 10-year sentence. Federal prosecutors now say the sentencing won't happen until next year.

The cases of two men charged in connection with the death of John Reiss have been moved to Vermont District Court in St. Albans. Reiss' daughter, Christina Reiss, presides over the Burlington courthouse at which 27-year-old Brad Lussier and 39-year-old Joseph McCarthy were arraigned in May on manslaughter charges. The move helps the court avoid a conflict of interest.

The Vermont Transportation Agency said Vermont 108 through Smugglers Notch from Stowe to Jeffersonville is closed, perhaps for the season. Officials don't know whether the road will be opened again before spring. In any event, the road is expected to remain closed through at least today and maybe through the weekend.

One of the three main tenants in the Moran plant renovation is pulling out. The Green Mountain Children's Museum said the economy has changed since the project began, and it can no longer afford the $2 million price tag to renovate, so it's looking for a new location. The museum was one of three main tenants to share the cost of renovating the old power plant with the city.

H1N1 Flu is not the only strain of the flu to hit the Champlain Valley. Officials say H3N8 has hit the area. Although it does affect humans, H3N8 or dog flu can cause some complications in our canine friends. Experts recommend the dog flu vaccine for dogs that spend time with other dogs. Dogs that spend time in dog kennels, dog groomers, or at dog hospitals should get the vaccine.

Governor David Paterson is calling the Legislature back to Albany for a special session to cut the budget and possibly vote on legalizing same-sex marriage. Paterson wants the Senate to give final legislative approval to same-sex marriage. But there's no guarantee there are enough votes to carry the measure, which passed the Assembly.

Girls on the Run Vermont is in the process of expanding its roster to 115 sites statewide, and volunteer coaches are needed in the areas of Westford, Essex, Hinesburg and Charlotte. Coaches could be school staff members -- teachers, nurses, guidance counselors, principals and paraprofessionals -- or parents and community members. New volunteer coaches should sign up by Nov. 30. Girls on the Run is the umbrella organization for two experiential learning programs: Girls on the Run, for grades 3 through 5, and Girls on Track, for grades 6 through 8. The programs are offered nationwide and incorporate training for a 3.1-mile run/walk into self-esteem enhancement. Girls on the Run aims to encourage positive emotional, social, and physical development, and community building. In about 1,800 girls in Vermont took part in the program. A training session for new coaches scheduled for Nov. 18 in Burlington is full, but sessions will be held throughout January and February in various locations around the state. Two sessions are planned for Feb. 1 and 2 in Essex. For detailed training information, visit the Girls on the Run Vermont Web site,, or call 246-1476. Returning coaches' training information is also posted on the Web site.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

WVTK Local News November 5, 2009

The area between Old Ferry Road in the Village of Crown Point, NY and Crown Point Road in Vermont is being considered for a temporary bridge. Work crews have been collecting soil data under Lake Champlain. Ideal conditions of rock to support a bridge foundation have not been found as the drill approaches its 200’ limit. Further analysis of the soil samples will need to be completed to determine if the soil is suitable for a temporary bridge foundation. Once the drilling reaches its limit the crew will move to the potential ferry dock location immediately south of the existing bridge to determine soil conditions at the location of the potential dock.

The former director of finance for Specialty Filaments in Burlington and Middlebury pleaded innocent Wednesday to a federal charge of bank fraud. 

Paul Mammorella, 54, of Williston, appeared in U.S. District Court in Burlington to answer the charge that he submitted false reports to Wells Fargo, eventually costing the company $1 million. Mammorella was released on conditions pending a trial that has not been scheduled, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Vermont said. 

Specialty Filaments went bankrupt in 2007 and was bought by the Illinois-based Monahan Filaments. Monahan announced in September it would close the plant on Case Street in Middlebury. The company made filaments for use in products ranging from industrial brushes to toothbrushes. 

According to the indictment, Specialty Filaments had a line of credit with Wells Fargo allowing them to borrow 85 percent of the value of its last 90 days worth of accounts receivable and 50 percent to 66 percent of the value of its inventory. 

The company had to give Wells Fargo periodic reports on its collateral so the bank could adjust its credit line. 

Federal prosecutors said Mammorella falsified those reports from June to December of 2006, inflating the company's accounts receivable and its inventory, getting the bank to loan substantial sums of money. 

Mammorella's alleged actions cost Wells Fargo and the Vermont Economic Development Authority, which guaranteed a portion of the loan, $1 million when Specialty Filaments went bankrupt, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. 

Mammorella faces up to 30 years in jail and a $1 million fine if convicted.
Source: Rutland Herald

The animal lab at Johnson State College is closed-- and closed for good. A staff member was in Bentley Hall this past August and detected an odor coming from inside the lab. Upon entry, dozens of animals were found dead-- others were malnourished and clinging to life. The director of the lab is now facing criminal charges.

A massive search was under way last night in Plattsburgh for an illegal alien who escaped from authorities. 42-year old Linda Bjork Magnus-dottir of Iceland was awaiting arraignment in federal court when she asked police to use the bathroom and then took off. She is not considered dangerous.

The U.S. Senate voted to extend unemployment benefits for an additional 14 weeks. In Vermont, the extension would help about 1,800 Vermonters whose benefits are about to run out. The House is expected to finish action on the bill and send it to the President later this week. The measure also would expand the $8,000 dollar tax credit for first time home buyers.

Treasurer Jeb Spaulding has outlined a plan to move a portion of the expenses of the teacher retirement system to the school districts. Spaulding heads a commission that is looking for ways to cut expenses in the teacher and state employee pension programs. Under the plan, annual teacher pension expenses would be paid by the school districts instead of the General Fund.

Lyndon Institute is the latest school to close due to the amount of students out sick. Now there are no confirmed cases of the swine flu at Lyndon Institute but school officials have closed the school for the remainder of the week. School officials will be meeting Monday to discuss how they'll make up those days.

The City of Plattsburgh will host its first half marathon next spring. Councilors recently decided to throw their official support behind the 13.1-mile road race through city streets April 18. The race is expected to draw anywhere from 300 to 500 runners and will start at the U.S. Oval on the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base and work its way south, then up to the Center City.

Vermont State Police say they have busted a big burglary ring Central Vermont. Police say they have identified four people, two of them teenagers, who were behind hundreds of burglaries over the past year. Police say the group had hit homes and businesses, stole catalytic converters from cars, and even stole dynamite and other explosives from the Rock of Ages Quarry.

According to the Vermont National Guard, both Burlington and Milton will contribute 55 troops to the upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. In all --- more than 250 communities will be represented by 1,210 soldiers in Task Force Phoenix, which is scheduled to spend most of 2010 on the ground in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

WVTK Local News November 4, 2009

Former Democratic State Sen. Matt Dunne of Hartland says he's running for governor, becoming the fourth Democrat to enter the race. Dunne says Vermont can be a leader in new economy and innovation jobs, renewable energy, and in tackling the complexities of comprehensive health care reform.

Vermont environmental officials are getting tough questions from lawmakers about rules allowing limited use of all-terrain vehicles on state land. The Legislature's Administrative Rules Committee yesterday grilled Natural Resources Secretary Jonathan Wood about rules that critics say were rushed through without adequate review.

The head of Citizens Financial Group says it won't be sold by its parent company, the Royal Bank of Scotland. Chief Executive Officer Ellen Alemany says Citizens is not among the assets it will sell, affirming that the banking firm is "a valued part of the RBS Group." Citizens Bank operates nearly 1,500 branches in the Northeast.

As the cold season returns to the Northeast, residents, utilities and emergency managers say they're better prepared, thanks to lessons from the December 2008 ice storm that left hundreds of thousands without power. Emergency management agencies are training people how to deal with outages and reporting them on the radio and Web sites.

A video released Tuesday by the New York Department of Transportation shows extensive cracking on at least one of the concrete piers supporting the closed Lake Champlain Bridge linking Addison to Crown Point, N.Y. The underwater video was taken by divers who have been inspecting the piers to determine how extensive the cracking and damage is and to help engineers determine how best to fix the problem. The video, posted by the New York DOT on its Lake Champlain Bridge update page, shows a wide, wavering, diagonal crack extending along several feet of the pier below the water’s surface. Engineers say cracks with a relatively horizontal orientation, like some of the cracks in the piers, are particularly dangerous because the section of the pier above the crack could slip laterally. In a worst-case scenario, such a slip would make the bridge partly or wholly collapse, engineers have said.

Hundreds of people lined up for an H1N1 flu shot Tuesday in Middlebury, but hundreds were turned away from the clinic because it ran out of vaccine. It was the state's first clinic intended for the general public. Flu fears combined with a shortage of the swine flu shot led to long lines for a very limited amount of vaccine. The Middlebury clinic only had 300 doses to give out-- 200 shots and 100 nasal sprays. People started lining up at 8 a.m. to get it. Doors were supposed to open at 4 p.m., but organizers decided to start the clinic an hour early to accommodate people who spent all day in line. Anyone who has a child who receives a vaccine should know that children 9 and under need to get a follow up shot or mist 4 weeks after their first vaccine, again this only applies to children not adults. There will be a clinic in four weeks at the American Legion in Middlebury so all of the children who received vaccines Tuesday can return to the same location, and should bring their card saying they already received the first round and they will have vaccines set aside for those returning.

Rutland residents could be asked to support a 14-cent hike in the city tax rate under a budget proposal unveiled by Mayor Chris Louras. The $18 million proposal is $1.4 million more than the current budget. Louras says some of that is due to increases in fixed costs. But he is also proposing new spending on fire department personnel, efficiency improvements and paving. The city council must approve the budget before putting it before voters on Town Meeting Day.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

WVTK Local News November 3, 2009

A Vermont slaughterhouse ordered closed on Friday for alleged inhumane treatment of baby calves, had its operating license suspended at least twice earlier this year for similar conduct. Bushway Packing of Grand Isle was shut down for a day in May and again in June. The Humane Society is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to do an overhaul of its inspection system.

New York State is moving forward with plans to establish a 24-hour ferry next to the Champlain Bridge. The ferry would launch from temporary docks to be constructed just south of the bridge. The new ferries would be year-round and run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Meanwhile officials also announced they would not be exploring the idea of a temporary bridge.

Vermont's largest electric utility is asking for permission to raise its rates by almost 6 percent. Central Vermont Public Service President Bob Young says the money raised by the increase is needed to offset increased power and transmission costs and reliability improvements to the utility's system.

The first of Vermont's free H1N1 vaccination clinics will be this afternoon in Middlebury from 4 to 6. Organizers say, while open to the public, these free clinics are mostly designed for adults. They're urging parents to take advantage of the school-based clinics to get children vaccinated. For a complete schedule of free clinics, go to

Jury selection is set to begin in the case of an Essex, Vermont, police officer charged with shooting and killing a neighbor's dog while off duty. Michael Wootton of Waterville has pleaded not guilty. Last month a judge denied a request by Wootton to dismiss the charge. The Essex Police Department has placed him on administrative duty.

Fire officials in Putney say the fire that destroyed the Putney General Store is being labeled suspicious. More than 100 firefighters from Vermont and New Hampshire battled the fire late Sunday night. The Putney Historical Society was nearly finished with renovations and in the process of leasing the building.

A representative from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's Office will speak to area seniors on consumer fraud at 7 tonight at 7 Turner Avenue in Plattsburgh. Glen Michaels, assistant attorney general from the Plattsburgh office, will inform participants how to best avoid consumer scams that frequently target seniors, such as sweepstakes, mail orders and identity theft.

The 23 Congressional District race is near an end. It's Election Day, and polling places across the North Country are open till 9 PM. And Colchester voters also head to the polls today to decide whether to build a new police station or renovate the existing building. Residents have already approved the funding.

The use of all-terrain vehicles on state-owned land is up for a hearing before a panel of Vermont Lawmakers today. The rule has drawn fire from environmentalists, who worry about noise, damage to wetlands, pollution and other negative effects from ATVs. ATV riders' groups say allowing the machines on state land will encourage legal and responsible use of ATVs.

24 Hour Ferry To Start In December

New York State is moving forward with plans to establish a 24-hour ferry next to the Champlain Bridge. The ferry would launch from temporary docks to be constructed just south of the bridge. The new ferries would be year-round and run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Meanwhile officials also announced they would not be exploring the idea of a temporary bridge.