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.