Tuesday, December 29, 2009

WVTK Local & State News December 29, 2009

Controlled explosions brought down the Lake Champlain Bridge between New York and Vermont. The 2,184-foot-long span between Crown Point, N.Y., and Addison, Vt., was closed Oct. 16 when engineers deemed it wasn't safe because of severe erosion. There was a sharp concussion followed by billowing smoke as steel and concrete fell.

Now that the Champlain Bridge has been demolished, the massive cleanup effort will begin. The U.S. Coast Guard requires that all the debris be cleared from the navigational channel by April 15, but New York Department of Transportation officials expect to have that done well before the deadline. A company called Sessler Wrecking out of Waterloo, N.Y., will be pulling the pieces out of Lake Champlain and putting them on barges. State officials say much of the material will be salvaged or recycled. Some community members have asked for pieces of the old bridge as souvenirs. Whether that's a possibility is still under consideration.

The Brandon Medical Center plans to get much bigger in 2010. The clinic got the go-ahead last week from the District 1 Environmental Commission to expand its Grove Street facility, enlarging the waiting area and adding four new exam rooms and a pharmacy.

Vermont State Police say a woman has been killed in St. Johnsbury and her estranged husband is a suspect in her death. Police say Anna Berwick of St. Johnsbury was killed in the parking lot of the Green Mountain Mall. After that, police say Ben Berwick of Lyndon emerged from woods with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. He is listed in stable condition at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

Agriculture help lines and farmer support groups say they have seen a big increase in requests for help this year. The calls are from dairy farmers who are struggling because they haven't been able sell their milk for what it costs to produce. NY FarmNet in Ithaca has taken about 6,000 requests for help this year.

Vermont transportation officials should learn within the next few months whether they will receive a $73 million federal grant that could help expand passenger rail service from Rutland to Burlington.The state of Vermont has applied for the federal stimulus funding to upgrade the railroad tracks along the western side of the state.