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.