Friday, January 29, 2010

WVTK Local & State News January 29, 2010

The National Weather Service has issued a Wind-Chill Advisory through 7AM Saturday. Weather Channel Meteorologist Ray Stagich says Very Cold & Windy Today with Snow Flurries possible, high temperature around 9 above.

Some parts of northern Vermont stand to see as much as 8 inches of snow by this morning as a frigid air mass moves into the region. The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for areas north of Burlington, with Franklin County expecting the heaviest snow amounts.

Hundreds of people in New York's North Country say they aren't ready to accept a plan to close a huge part of their community. Thursday night they rallied just miles from the Moriah shock facility, which is one of four state prisons Governor David Paterson wants to shut down. Lawmakers want people to write letters to Paterson and other state leaders and share personal stories. If the facility closes employees of Moriah Shock would be transferred to other prisons in New York State. Right now the prison is proposed to close in March of 2011.

The Web site of Representative Peter Welch was one of 49 congressional Web site's hacked early yesterday morning. The hackers posted some obscene language on the web sites. A message on Welch’s site yesterday afternoon read “This site is currently undergoing maintenance. Please check back soon.”

Residential Resources, a home-care service provider in Peru is laying off up to 39 people, forcing 19 brain-injury clients to find new care. The layoffs will take place Sunday, but some of the caregivers already have new jobs. So far, about 25 of the 39 caregivers will begin work at North Country Home Services, based in Plattsburgh.

The new Walgreens in Plattsburgh is set to open next week. The new Plattsburgh location will employ 25 to 30 people and has two drive-through pharmacy lanes. It is the second Walgreens store in the tri-county area. The company has a store in Malone. The mayor said new jobs are always welcome news.

A special Burlington City Council meeting has been called for noon today to hold a public hearing on ballot items for the annual meeting day, March 2. Mayor Bob Kiss has called another special City Council meeting for 6 PM next Thursday. The meeting will focus on a committee’s Burlington Telecom report.

Senate lawmakers will fast-track a bill that would ban texting while driving, but legislators are still debating whether the new law should apply to all motorists or only younger drivers. On Wednesday, members of the transportation committee hosted a public forum on the proposed texting-while-driving law.

A New Hampshire teenager convicted in the revenge killing of a disabled Wal-Mart cashier from Vermont is going to prison for it. Nineteen-year-old Michael Robie was sentenced Thursday to 20 to 40 years in the stabbing death of Christopher Gray of Groton, Vt..

Vermont's congressional delegation says the state is poised to receive $50 million to help pay for upgrades to the rail line used by the Amtrak Vermonter passenger train. The funding will help improve track, roadbed and bridges along 190 miles of track the Amtrak Vermonter uses between St. Albans and Springfield, Mass.

A Mount Mansfield Union High School bus driver charged with driving the hockey team while under the influence of alcohol has 11 criminal convictions. The Burlington Free Press says the convictions against 30-year-old Shane McBrayer of Waterbury include a 2003 DUI conviction in the state of Georgia.

The state of Vermont is going to offer six new license plates for military veterans from World War II through the present conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The plates were unveiled Thursday by Motor Vehicle Commissioner Robert Ide and Gov. Jim Douglas at the Statehouse in Montpelier.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has kept up his criticism of Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, saying he was "asleep at the switch while Wall Street became a gambling casino." Despite widespread opposition, Bernanke is expected to win a second term to his post from lawmakers.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

WVTK Local & State News January 28, 2010

Governor David Paterson announced that the new Crown Point Ferry will start running this Sunday. Paterson made the statement at a press conference yesterday afternoon. Lake Champlain Transportation will be conducting trial runs starting today. The Crown Point Ferry will be a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week operation till the new bridge is built and open to traffic.

Governor David Paterson’s proposals to cut state spending would close the Moriah Shock Incarceration Facility. The prison currently employs 100 people, many whom say this is the only income for their family. There will be an informational meeting this afternoon at 4:30. The meeting will be at the Knights of Columbus in Port Henry.

The State of Vermont will unveil six new veteran license plates during a ceremony today at the Statehouse. The plates will honor veterans who served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Iraq War, and the Afghanistan War. The new plates will be available to eligible veterans beginning February 3.

Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut are getting $160 million for rail projects as part of the Obama administration's $8 billion in stimulus funding to develop high-speed rail corridors and to improve existing rail lines. Some $120 million of New England's money will be spent on the rail line from Springfield, Mass., to St. Albans, Vt.

Gov. Jim Douglas is asking that Vermont lawmakers put off a vote on whether to relicense Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in light of recent revelations that plant officials may have misled state regulators. Douglas is calling for changes in top management at the reactor, hoping that they will restore public confidence in the operators of the facility.

Is school getting in the way of your end-of-summer vacation? Vermont lawmakers have a solution. A bill pending before the state legislature would bar school districts from starting the class year before Labor Day. But the state Department of Education opposes the idea, and school superintendents are leery.

The bus driver busted for drunk driving while he was transporting a Mount Mansfield Union hockey team last weekend already has a lengthy criminal record - including robbery and DUI convictions in Georgia. The Burlington Free Press reports Shane McBrayer pleaded not guilty in a hearing today.

A State of Emergency has been lifted in Fort Covington. An ice jam formed on the Salmon River Tuesday night. Two families had to be rescued and several others were evacuated. Authorities say the flooding has stabilized and they expect the situation to improve. They will continue to monitor the Salmon River until 4 PM this afternoon.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

WVTK Local & State News January 27, 2010

Governor David Paterson is expected to announce today that the Crown Point Ferry will open next week. Paterson has scheduled a news conference for 1:30 this afternoon at the Champlain Memorial Lighthouse, next to temporary ferry docks now under construction. Because of the short distance between the 2 states, the ferry ride should take only about 3 minutes.

Dana Cole-Levesque, principal of Otter Valley Union High School, will become the superintendent of the Rutland South Supervisory Union that oversees Mill River Union High School in North Clarendon. The board there opted to hire Cole-Levesque Jan. 18 for two years and a $110,000 annual base salary after reviewing more than 20 applications for the position. Cole-Levesque was chosen for his extensive background, but he will likely face new challenges in the leadership position given the economic state of schools and a school transformation plan in development by the state.

The Rutland Redevelopment Authority's board voted unanimously yesterday morning to eliminate Executive Director Tom Macaulay's position. In a statement released after the meeting, the board said the decision was fueled by fiscal realities and their obligation to the taxpayers.

An alleged Natural Gas leak last night at the University Mall prompted an evacuation. The odder was detected just before 7 last night near the Sears store. Fire officials evacuated the mall while they searched for the source of the leak. None was found and the University Mall was back open by 7:30.

Some Vermonters have formed a new group to fight big wind projects and push for other power alternatives. The new group-- Energize Vermont wants to see the state move toward a mix of alternatives like solar and hydro instead of wind power. So far over 50 people have signed up to be part of Energize Vermont, fed up with battling wind projects on their own.

A new report out says Vermont has not done a good job of accounting for its federal stimulus funding. Vermont has received hundreds of millions of dollars for construction projects and to shore up state and local budgets. But the worker advocacy group Good Jobs First ranks Vermont 47th for its efforts to disclose stimulus spending to the public.

Vermont's congressional delegation is receiving assurances from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission's chairman that the source of a tritium leak at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant will be found soon. Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch met Tuesday with the NRC's chairman o talk over the recently announced leaking of radioactive tritium at Vermont Yankee.

A Vermont legislative committee wants to crack down on the idling of trucks which members say will reduce air pollution and health risks of diesel exhaust while saving businesses money. The House Natural Resources and Energy Committee voted unanimously Tuesday in favor a bill that would restrict idling of vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds to five minutes.

Officials at the Vermont Student Assistance Corp. are asking the state's congressional delegation to help it retain its role in federal student lending. VSAC officials say their role as a private nonprofit organization that helps Vermonters pay for their college educations is threatened by federal pressure and inaction in Washington.

The Vermont Farm Show, a tradition that celebrates the state's agricultural heritage, is under way again in Barre. The 76th annual exhibition at the Barre Civic Center opened Tuesday. The farm show is open to the public. Hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday.

The New York state Department of Environmental Conservation is offering free tree seedlings to schools for spring planting. The School Seedling Program offers 50 tree seedlings or a mixed packet of 30 wildlife shrubs to any school that wants to participate. The seedlings can be planted on school grounds or any community space. The DEC has also begun taking orders for its annual sale of tree and shrub seedlings grown at the Saratoga Tree Nursery. The goal of the program is to provide low-cost, native plants to landowners. Orders may be placed by calling the nursery at 518-587-1120. The order form can also be found on DEC's Web site (

Monday's rains have combined with snowmelt to cause flooding problems in parts of Vermont. WCAX reports there have been evacuations in the Upper Valley. The storm prompted flood warnings for the southern two-thirds of the state.

Norwich snowboarder Kevin Pearce is being moved out of critical care at a Utah hospital, a hopeful sign of his recovery from a head injury during a training run there last month. His family tells the Burlington Free Press Pearce is making steady progress.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

WVTK Local & State News January 26, 2010

Documents show that the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant's operators knew there were underground pipes at the plant of the type top plant officials later said didn't exist. A sworn affidavit from Vermont Yankee's chief engineer refers to a report from November 2007 on the plant's buried piping and tank inspection program. At least 15 towns will have a resolution about the future of Vermont Yankee on their Town Meeting Day ballots. The resolution asks the legislature to hold the plant to its agreed closing date of 2012 and not extend its operating license.

Officials say two milk tanker trucks and a car were involved in a fiery crash on Interstate 89 in Montpelier that killed two people. Monday's early morning crash killed a 43-year-old man driving 1 of the trucks and a 62-year-old woman who was a passenger in the car.

The future remains uncertain for the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation or VSAC. The leader of the non-profit talked openly Monday about the challenges VSAC is facing. Legislation in Washington, D.C. could effectively end the group's loaning to future college students. It could also mean big changes for VSAC. "There is a certain nervousness," remarked Don Vickers, VASC's President & CEO. "I have to work here everyday with 350 people who look at me each and everyday when I come in wondering, 'Does Don think we are going to make it? Does Don think we are not going to make it? Are we going to have a job today? Are we going to have a job tomorrow?'" The group hopes Vermont's congressional delegation can fix the legislation to allow VSAC to keep loaning to students.

Hardware stores across the state of Vermont are giving away hundreds of new light bulbs as part of a program called “Bring Back Light”. The program is designed to have people bring back their old bulbs for recycling and get a new one. The goal is to keep mercury out of the environment. The program runs while supplies last, or until 5 PM on Friday.

A murder suspect who was arrested in Vermont is headed back to New York city to face prosecution. Thirty-1-year-old Justin Waller waived extradition Monday in Vermont District Court in Bennington, where prosecutors says Waller will be returned to New York by week's end.

Starting March 1, there will be a new airline at the Plattsburgh International Airport. The new airline service, Colgan Air will be taking the service over for Cape Air. The change in service means bigger planes will be making direct flights to Boston. Colgan Air’s planes have at least 15 more seats on each plane as compared to the 9-seater planes Cape Air uses.

A new Salvation Army store has opened in Essex Junction. The old Toro dealership on Route 15 has been turned into a Salvation Army Family Thrift Store. Unlike its locations in Burlington and South Burlington, this store has a drop-off location with a covered loading dock with an expanded area for furniture.

A bankruptcy judge in Delaware has given Tops Friendly Markets the go-ahead to buy Penn Traffic Co.'s 79 supermarkets in the Northeast. Tops, a 76-store chain based in suburban Buffalo, is aiming to purchase nearly 80 P&C, Quality Markets and BiLo stores in New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and New Hampshire.

The United States Air Force could decide to bring the newest and best fighter jet to Burlington. While most people admit it would be a big honor, there's one thing in the way, the potential noise. The U.S. Air Force is considering bringing the F-35 to a handful of bases, including Burlington's Air National Guard.

Five hopefuls for governor met at the University of Vermont yesterday evening, debating state education policy. The discussion included Peter Shumlin, Susan Bartlett, Doug Racine, Deb Markowitz and Matt Dunne. Brian Dubie did not attend the event.

Monday, January 25, 2010

WVTK Local & State News January 25, 2010

The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch through Tuesday morning. A Wind Advisory is also in effect until 4 PM today for Eastern Addison and Rutland County. Weather Channel Meteorologist Ray Stagich says to expect heavy rain throughout the day and windy. We could see 1 to 2 inches of rain. Today’s High around 45.

With nearly two inches of rain predicted for some places across the Champlain Valley, Vermont and Upstate New York, Vermont Emergency Management said the storm may cause a few problems. VEM spokesman Mark Bosma said the rain could melt snow, break up the ice and cause ice jams. It also doesn't help that temperatures are expected to be well above freezing. The agency began preparing for possible flooding Sunday. "There's a possibility, it's not a slam dunk, but we still want people to be ready for whatever this storm could bring," Bosma said.

A Bristol man was charged Saturday morning with lewd and lascivious conduct for allegedly exposing himself to a woman as he delivered the morning newspaper to her house. Jerry Gorton, 45, is due in Vermont District Court in Middlebury on Feb. 22. State police Senior Trooper Andrew Leise said Gorton exposed himself to a 78-year-old woman who immediately shut her door on him and called police.

Hundreds of people are expected to attend a community rally in support of keeping the Moriah Shock Incarceration Facility open. The rally at 4:30 Thursday Afternoon will be held in the Port Henry Knights of Columbus building on Main Street. The facility is one of only four shock camps in the state and has 102 employees and 170 inmates.

Vermont State Sen. Doug Racine has formally kicked off his campaign for governor. The Burlington Free Press says Racine, who announced more than a year ago that he was running for governor, held a kickoff rally Saturday in Winooski with about 75 supporters. The 57-year-old former lieutenant governor lost a bid for governor in 2002.

A New York City man is being held on $500,000 bail following his arrest in Vermont for allegedly stabbing his partner to death in their Manhattan apartment. Police in Manchester told the Rutland Herald that 31-year-old Justin Waller was arrested Saturday afternoon at a friend's home in Manchester.

Vermont National Guard leaders and the state's congressional delegation will travel to Indiana to observe soldiers training for their deployment to Afghanistan. Vermont Adjutant General Michael Dubie will lead a delegation of Guard officials to Camp Atterbury today. About 1,500 members of Vermont National Guard are being deployed.

Norwich University is hosting a series of lectures on forensic science. The third annual CSI Symposium will be held Thursday and Friday in the school's Dole Auditorium. Famed criminologist Dr. Henry Lee is scheduled to speak on Thursday.

Burlington International Airport reports that its traffic was a bit off in 2009, after a record year in 2008. About 1.42 million passengers boarded planes or landed at the airport in 2009, down about 90,000, or 5.9 percent, from a year earlier.

Jay Peak Resort is offering free skiing to family members of deployed National Guard members. Immediate family members of deployed National Guard members are eligible for free season passes, as well as discounts on rentals and lessons.

Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas and legislative budget writers have cleared the way for four companies to get millions of dollars worth of employment growth incentives. Douglas and members of the state's Emergency Board voted to raise the cap on the incentives from $10 million to $23 million.

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife is urging anglers sent a questionnaire about their fishing practices to complete the survey and send it in. The department mailed the survey to 4,500 Vermont anglers and 900 nonresidents who bought fishing licenses.

Friday, January 22, 2010

WVTK Local & State News January 22, 2010

Former Middlebury College President John McCardell is urging Vermont lawmakers to consider changing the drinking age to 18, instead of 21. McCardell testified in favor of the change at the Statehouse along with alcohol policy expert David Jernigan, of Johns Hopkins University, who opposes it.

Gov. Jim Douglas says he hasn't changed his position about relicensing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant despite recent revelations about radioactive tritium leaking from the plant. Douglas said at a news conference on Thursday that he still believes the Legislature should vote to allow a 20-year license extension for Vermont Yankee.

With work still going on to build new ramps, officials say a new Lake Champlain ferry linking Vermont with New York should be carrying passengers by the end of January. The Burlington Free Press reports the ferry service is being set up after the closure and demolition of the bridge between Addison and Crown Point, New York.

Residents of Port Henry can soon comment on a plan for dissolving the village.  Following the public hearing 7 PM, February 11, at the Port Henry Knights of Columbus building, the board will vote on a resolution to place dissolution on the March 16 village election ballot.  A successful public vote means the village would cease to exist and become part of the town at the end of 2011.

The Vermont Department of Labor says the state is seeking to borrow $58 million from the federal government to pay its unemployment benefits through the end of March. The department said Thursday that Vermont is paying more than $4 million a week in unemployment benefits and expects its unemployment trust fund to run out in early February.

The federal government is giving Vermont about $1.8 million in emergency home heating assistance, but the state's congressional delegation says it should be more.

U.S. Sens. Bernard Sanders and Patrick Leahy and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch say Vermont's share of the $490 million distributed nationally Wednesday is less than it should be. They're asking for President Barack Obama to release another $100 million.

A mistake in Congress means heavier trucks cannot drive on a major road in South Burlington. A new law upped the highway weight limit on trucks -- to keep big rig traffic out of downtowns. But it turns out the federal bill left out Interstate 189 … connecting Route 7 and Interstate 89.

Officials hope a new lottery game in Vermont will help generate more money for the Vermont Education fund. Mega Millions starts this month in Vermont. Mega Millions is similar to PowerBall and played in New York as well as a number of other states.

New York State’s unemployment rate rose to 9 percent in December, matching a 26-year-high. The state labor department says the lowest rate among counties outside New York City -- 5.3 percent -- was in Tompkins County. The highest rate was in 11.2 percent in Hamilton County.

The town of Bennington's hydroelectric generator is now making electricity with water power from the Bolles Brook. The long-planned facility went online earlier this week and officials hope it can help cut the town's electric bill in half.

An advocacy group suggests caves on federal lands should be closed nationwide to help check the spread of white-nose syndrome, which has caused mass die-offs of bats across much of the Eastern U.S. The group is also seeking to get endangered species status for two hard hit species.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

WVTK Local & State News January 21, 2010

Work continues on ramps for a planned ferry service near the former Lake Champlain Bridge, but a firm opening date for the ferry remains uncertain. Vermont Transportation Agency spokesman John Zicconi said an opening date has not been set, but the construction is on pace to allow the ferry to start operating sometime near the end of the month, as originally planned.

Vermont state officials say more radioactive tritium has been found at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant -- at much higher levels than were found in a test well nearly two weeks ago. The state's radiological health chief says the higher readings of the isotope were found in a concrete trench several hundred feet from the test well where tritium was reported two weeks ago.

Aiming to cut air pollution, a panel of Vermont lawmakers is considering a bill that would crack down on idling by trucks. The House Natural Resources and Energy Committee this week is taking testimony on the bill, which would require that trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds not idle for more than 5 minutes.

Anti-smoking groups are trying to defend their programs' budget, but Douglas administration officials say those programs aren't being targeted for significant cuts. The groups say the $4.8 million a year Vermont spends to get people to quit smoking or not to start saves the state much more money in the long run.

A new survey finds a growing number of small and medium-sized businesses in New England plan to hire new workers and offer pay raises this year. The survey released Wednesday found that 42 percent of companies with 50 or fewer employees and annual revenues of $20 million or less planned new hires in 2010, compared with only 29 percent last year.

A Rutland man faces as much as 14 years in prison after pleading guilty in the death of his infant son in 2007. The Rutland Herald reports Salvatore MacEwan struck a plea deal yesterday, a day before jury selection was to begin for his murder trial. He had told police he shook the boy because he wasn't breathing.

A dozen public clinics are being held across Vermont this week for residents to get swine flu vaccinations. State health chief Wendy Davis says Vermont now has plentiful supplies of vaccine. Burlington City Hall will be the site of 1 walk-in clinic, set for Friday afternoon.

A Champlain man has reached a plea deal that put him behind bars for up to 10 years for beating his infant son. 25-year-old Shaun Foster pled guilty to breaking and dislocating his 1-year-old son's arm. The deal calls for Foster to spend 8 to 10 years in prison. The boy has recovered physically and is in state custody in Vermont.

A Rutland man faces as much as 14 years in prison after pleading guilty in the death of his infant son in 2007. Salvatore MacEwan struck a plea deal Tuesday, a day before jury selection was to begin for his murder trial. He had told police he shook the boy because he wasn't breathing.

A mistrial was declared in a drug case against a Plattsburgh businessman. 52-year-old Stephen Giroux, the owner of Champy's Car Wash, faces felony drug charges for allegedly selling cocaine in the Plattsburgh area back last winter. A new trial is set to start in March. If convicted, Giroux could face up to 9 years in prison. He is already serving time for jumping bail.

Governor David Paterson is asking the federal government for more home heating assistance money. Paterson says families need help to get through the winter. State officials say demand is up by 15 percent in the first two months of the Home Energy Assistance Program. Home heating oil prices across New York up by more than 13 percent compared to this time last year.

Students at Champlain College, Saint Michael's College and Burlington College now have more class options. The three schools recently signed agreements allowing students at one campus to take classes at any of the other two at no extra charge. The new class options are available to students starting next school year.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

ACTR Sets Date To Launch Expanded Shuttle Bus Service

Addison County Transit Resources (ACTR) will launch its much anticipated shuttle bus system expansion beginning with the Saturday Burlington LINK on Saturday, March 6, 2010. Starting Monday, March 8, 2010, the Middlebury Shuttle Bus and the Tri-Town Shuttle Bus will begin their new schedules.

In November and December ACTR held public meetings to review the expansion details and is in the process of integrating comments to best serve existing and new riders. The Shuttle Bus Expansion will put 40% more bus service on the road around the county, which allows ACTR to strengthen and improve its existing schedule.

“We received very helpful feedback during our public comment period on the three proposals. As a result, we are tweaking those proposals and will launch what we hope to be an effective and efficient system-wide expansion,” Jim Moulton, ACTR Executive Director, said.

The expansions include the following expansions:

􏰀 The Tri-Town Shuttle Bus service will be split to create two connected routes: the Tri-Town Vergennes and Tri-Town Bristol buses. Service frequency will improve from every two hours to every hour with five morning runs and five afternoon runs Monday through Friday. For the first time, Vergennes will have a direct connection to Middlebury. The two routes will connect at the new Park & Ride in New Haven Center to exchange passengers traveling between Bristol and Vergennes.

􏰀 The Middlebury Shuttle Bus will be reconfigured to include 5 connected loops – 4 running in the north and west of town that connect to a 5th loop along Route 7 South. Service on the Route 7 South loop will run every 30 minutes all day long from 6:30 am to 7 pm. The other 4 loops will run every 30 minutes during peak hours and every 60 minutes during non-peak hours. Like all ACTR bus routes, this route will connect at Merchant’s Row in Middlebury to allow for transfers. The Saturday service will remain the same.

􏰀 Service on the Saturday Burlington Link will change from two round trips to four round trips each Saturday. The route will stay the same but the new schedule will allow for early evening service to and from Burlington.

ACTR was notified last October that it was awarded grant funds from the State of Vermont to expand its shuttle bus service. A PowerPoint presentation with details of the proposed expansions, including draft maps and schedules, is available at

Once in place, ACTR will continue to closely monitor its services to ensure the expansions are as effective as possible. Future system tweaks may also occur based on actual route performance and additional community feedback. ACTR will publish new bus schedule brochures as well as new signage at all bus stops. Details of the new schedule will also be available on the ACTR website as well as in this paper.

For more information, contact ACTR at 388-1946.

WVTK Local & State News January 20, 2010

Gov. Jim Douglas on Tuesday laid out an austere budget for the next fiscal year, saying the state must close a $150 million money gap by taking such steps as: more than quadrupling deductibles paid by some public health care beneficiaries; trimming payments to human services providers; reducing subsidies to help middle-income Vermonters pay school property taxes. The governor proposed a general fund budget of about $1.1 billion; when all other state funding is added in, including federal money the state passes through for human services, transportation and other programs, Vermont will see about $4.7 billion in spending in fiscal 2011.

A hospital group says Governor Paterson's proposed state budget would cost jobs and hurt health care. Paterson on Tuesday proposed a belt-tightening budget that would cut $1 billion from health care spending -- much of which goes to hospitals and nursing homes. The Legislature will now consider the governor's proposal and could make changes. Governor Paterson also announced a number of other remedies for the budget woes Tuesday, including closing several prisons. He's proposing shutting down four prisons in total, two of those, Lyon Mountain and the Moriah Shock Incarceration Center, are in the North Country. The state says closing the four facilities would save more than $60 million in the coming years.

The Vermont Board of Education voted Tuesday to approve a proposal to consolidate the nearly 300 individual school districts around the state, having them serve more students in hopes of offering greater education opportunities to Vermont's children. The board declined to define exactly how many districts should remain after the consolidation, or dictate specifically how the merged districts would be structured. Instead, the panel chose to appoint a broader committee to examine the specifics of the plan.

Vermont Yankee officials say elevated levels of a radioactive isotope have been found in a second monitoring well at the nuclear power plant. Plant officials also say a higher concentration was found in the well where it was first detected.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont is suing Brattleboro police over the arrest of 4 protesters last year. The four were cited for disorderly conduct in the March 30 incident at the Latchis Theater, but local officials opted not to prosecute. Now, the ACLU says the police chief violated the protesters' rights.

Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss says a long-stalled road project is moving forward. The so-called "Champlain Parkway" -- bogged down for decades by several issues -- is designed to reroute truck traffic from Burlington's South End to the Pine Street corridor and downtown.

A second trial on sexual assault charges will not happen for Colchester surgeon Joseph Abate. Abate has instead struck a plea deal, giving up his medical license and getting a suspended sentence after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor. Abate's first trial ended in a mistrial.

Ski resorts across Vermont did big business over the King holiday weekend, thanks to plentiful snow and seasonal temperatures. An industry official tells the Rutland Herald resorts' numbers were well ahead of last year's figures.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

WVTK Local & State News January 19, 2010

Governor Jim Douglas is expected to call for big spending cuts when he delivers his annual budget address today. Douglas will speak to a joint assembly of the Vermont Legislature this afternoon and will focus his remarks on how to address a state budget shortfall estimated at up to $150 million.

Governor David Paterson is set to announce his proposals for the 2010-2011 state budget during a speech later this morning in Albany. Meanwhile, the legislature, in a special session yesterday, refused to act on a bill Governor Paterson says is needed for the state to have a chance at $700 million in federal school aid.

A new Siena College poll finds that Governor David Paterson is wining back favor among voters. Patterson’s approval has increased 11 points since October. Although Patterson is gaining ground, most voters still prefer Democratic Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in this year's campaign. Patterson approval rating has increased to 38-percent.

Volunteer first responders across Vermont are getting some help finding new members and training those who are already serving. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders announced a $100,000 grant that will encourage service on volunteer fire departments and other first response organizations through improved outreach to high school students.

The Vermont Police Academy training coordinator who apparently killed himself last week left behind two suicide notes. The notes were addressed to family members. David McMullen’s death came less than two days after investigators seized a home computer looking for evidence of child pornography.

Opening arguments are set for this morning in St. Johnsbury in the second trial of Colchester orthopedic surgeon Joseph Abate on charges he inappropriately touched a young female patient in 2007 during an examination. Abate’s second trial was moved to St. Johnsbury due to concerns of pre-trail bias in Chittenden County. Abate’s first trial ended with a mistrial.

A new exhibit of rarely seen photographs and Polaroid pictures by the late Andy Warhol opens today at the Fleming Museum in Burlington. The exhibit, "Andy Warhol: Fashionistas and Celebrities" runs through April 26.

The Brandeis University law school professor who accused a Supreme Court nominee of sexual harassment says the country still needs to fight inequality and racial disparity to fulfill the dream of the Rev. Martin Luther King. Anita Hill spoke Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Burlington on Sunday. The Burlington Free Press says that during her talk Hill said the United States needed more female court justices and national leaders.

Springfield police are awaiting the results of an autopsy before releasing the name of a man killed in a fast-moving house fire. The Rutland Herald says the man's body was pulled from the rubble of the house on Sunday.

The Springfield School District is planning to ask voters for permission to get rid of 4 school properties in the town. A nonprofit group is hoping to preserve what is known as the North School, which for decades has been a recreation area for Springfield residents.

Monday, January 18, 2010

WVTK Local & State News January 18, 2010

Vermont state police say a police academy supervisor killed himself a day after his home computer was seized as part of a child pornography investigation. 44-year-old Dave McMullen of Cornwall was found dead behind a maintenance shed at the academy Saturday morning. While child porn wasn't actually found on the computer, emails suggested it had been accessed.

The new ferry connecting Addison and Crown Point is on track for a late January opening. Parts needed for the Vermont slip are being assembled across the lake in Port Henry and then loaded on a barge. Crews are working some 20 hours a day to get the slip open.

Someone tried to kick in a rear basement door at a home on Hardscrabble Road in Bristol last week. Police ask anyone with information regarding the attempted burglary to call the Vermont State Police at 802-388-4919.

Former Plattsburgh mayor and well-known community activist John Ianelli pasted away Saturday Morning at the age of 78. The local political icon and founder of the popular Mayor's Cup Race passed away at CVPH Medical Center after battling cancer. Both he and his wife have remained active in a number of community organizations since he left office in the 1980s.

Ten Vermont public schools are vying for $50,000 federal grants for solar energy projects. The schools were picked by a state panel from entries submitted in a statewide competition. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders says the money will be used to buy small-scale solar equipment for educational purposes.

Two experts brought in by the Vermont State Employees Association say proposed changes to the employees' pension system are unnecessary and perhaps illegal. A legislative committee on Friday heard from Gerald Friedman, an economics professor, and Beth Robinson, a lawyer who analyzed the constitutionality regarding the plan.

Johnson and Johnson is recalling many of it’s over the counter medications. The company says some of the medications have a moldy odor that is making people sick. Local pharmacies have already removed the affected batches from the shelves, but pharmacists say if you think you have recalled medication in your cabinet do not take it; either throw it out or take it back to the store where you purchased it.

New York's Legislature is proposing changes to charter schools that Governor David Paterson warns will cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid. Paterson has said that the state must eliminate its charter school cap or raise it no fewer than 454 to qualify for up to $700 million in federal aid. Paterson is calling for a special session Monday night to negotiate changes.

The state Consumer Protection Board is warning consumers to beware of unfamiliar groups soliciting funds for Haiti's earthquake victims. The agency says scammers may try to gain access to credit card numbers and bank accounts to commit identity theft. Similar scams occurred after the tsunami in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

A new exhibit of rarely-seen photographs and Polaroid pictures by the late Andy Warhol opens tomorrow in Burlington. Officials at the Fleming Museum say "Andy Warhol: Fashionistas and Celebrities" offers a window into the world of fame and fashion. It runs through April 26.

Construction this spring will help make Burlington more pedestrian friendly. The Side Streets Improvement Project calls for widening the sidewalks on the streets around Church Street giving businesses more room for outside dining. Crosswalks, lighting and landscaping will also be improved. The projects will be paid for with federal funding.

Friday, January 15, 2010

WVTK Local & State News January 15, 2010

Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas and his New York counterpart, David Paterson, say transportation planners in the two states have agreed on the design for a new bridge across Lake Champlain. Douglas says design of the so-called Modified Network Tied Arch bridge will begin immediately with construction set to begin this spring. The old bridge between Addison, Vt., and Crown Point, N.Y., was brought down with explosives last month, two months after it was closed when it was found to be unsafe. In a statement, Paterson said the tied arch design was a favorite of people who lived near the old bridge and used it. The design looks similar to the bridge that was imploded last month. On the Net: New York Department of Transportation Lake Champlain bridge alternatives

The state is taking aim on Vermont Yankee over bad information provided to lawmakers last year about the extent of underground piping at the Vernon nuclear power plant. The state Department of Public Service HAS filed a letter with the state Public Service Board asking for an investigation into statements Vermont Yankee made about the underground piping.

Vermont lawmakers are considering a plan to move Vermont's primary election from September to August. While Gov. Jim Douglas says the bill is being motivated by electoral politics, some Vermont official say there's too short a time between the Sept. 14 primary and the Nov. 2 general election to get ballots printed up and sent overseas to military personnel in time.

The executive director of the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council, which manages the Vermont Police Academy, has resigned. R.J. Elrick resigned Thursday, a day after he submitted a resignation letter. Former Vermont State Police director James Baker has tentatively accepted the job of interim executive director.

Governor Jim Douglas is joining forces with the local American Red Cross Chapter in asking for money to help the earthquake victims in Haiti. Douglas said goods and services are not what's needed now to help the victims, money is what's needed. Meanwhile, nurses and other officials are organizing donations and groups of volunteers to go to Haiti in the coming weeks.

A fatal snowmobile accident on Christmas Eve has resulted in DUI charges for an Eden sledder. State police say Kevin Mayo's blood alcohol level after the accident was .124, higher than the legal limit. Mayo was driving a snowmobile when it hit a tree, killing passenger Rhea Parker.

A South Burlington High School student is due in court next month on adult charges he sent threatening text messages. The Burlington Free Press Tyler Kaczor was arrested Tuesday. Police have not detailed the alleged threats.

Police are investigating a liquor store stick up in Massena. Police say a masked-man pulled a knife on a clerk at Shirley's Discount Liquor and took off with cash. It happened at about 7 last night. The robber is a white man, about 5 feet 8 inches tall. He weighs about 200 pounds. He was wearing a black jacket and may be in a white GMC truck.

Vermont State Police had two messages for motorists: Slow down and yield to emergency vehicles. They add, if you see someone on the side of the road, slow down and move over if possible. State police have responded to 153 crashes between January 4 and January 10.

Nova Bus will build 35 buses for Connecticut Transit at its Plattsburgh plant. The $60-Million contract announced yesterday contains an option for an additional 35 buses during the next 4 years. Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Bernie Bassett say this is good news, not only for the workers at Nova Bus and its suppliers, but the community at large.

A Burlington boy who was a victim of last year's nationwide Salmonella outbreak caused by contaminated peanut products is part of a group now calling on Congress to take immediate action on food safety. A group representing 28 of the victims sent a letter to the Senate calling on them to honor their word and quickly pass the bill so future outbreaks can be prevented.

A snowmobile crash last night in Wolcott is the 9th this season. Police say a 15-year-old male was driving a snowmobile on Sand Hill Road in Wolcott at around 9:20 last night when he reportedly hit a telephone pole. The victim, whose name has not been released, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

WVTK Local & State News January 14, 2010

The Brandon Area Chamber of Commerce will hold a forum on Hannaford's purchase of the local Grand Union at 7 p.m. Monday in the Otter Valley Union High School Auditorium. A representative from the Hannaford grocery chain is scheduled to attend and answer questions. Hannaford is in the middle of a controversial application to place a store at the corner of Route 7 and Nickerson Road. The company announced last month it had bought the Grand Union in downtown Brandon and planned to run it as a Hannaford supermarket until the new store opened, after which it would move out of the downtown location.

Pfizer said it would keep 350 employees on until the end of the year. David Champagne, managing director of the Pfizer manufacturing facility in Rouses Point, confirmed that the company had extended its agreement with Akrimax Pharmaceuticals. Pfizer recently announced a mass layoff at its Rouses Point and Chazy locations. A total of 200 employees will still be let go.

A well-known Vermont storyteller has issued a statement after it was made public he is under investigation for violating state securities law. Court papers indicate Mac Parker of Addison collected money to finance a movie he was making, guaranteeing investors hefty returns. He's not registered to do that. And the movie, called "The Birth of Innocence," is not a registered investment. Some 200 people gave amounts ranging from a $100 to $500,000. Investigators will also look into whether he was shifting money around in a Ponzi scheme.
Mac Parking issued this statement:
I have borrowed money to make a beautiful film called "Birth of Innocence." This is not a scheme, and I have no intention to deceive or violate anyone. I have made an absolute commitment to repay all loans made to me, and I remain steadfast in this commitment. I have always considered these loans, and had no idea the State might consider them Securities. The State raised these questions, and I have acted with openness and cooperation to support their investigation. I dismantled my website at their request. I have assured them I will work to bring myself into compliance with all regulations, if violations are found. 'Birth of Innocence' is nearly completed. I am asking for the time and freedom to finish it, and to honor my promises to all the good people who are supporting this project. Thank you. Parker says his movie is nearly completed and he hopes to have the time and freedom to finish it so he can honor his promises to the people who supported the project.

About 150 people who want the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant closed have completed a 126-mile walk from Brattleboro to Montpelier. Participants from Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire towns near the Vernon plant arrived in the state Capital on Wednesday, nearly two weeks after they set out on their walk.

A Vermont woman accused of shooting her mother to death and then burning her body in a backyard fire pit is out of jail. Fifty-9-year-old Jeanne Sevigny of Westford posted $150,000 bail Wednesday and was released on conditions. She's charged with killing her mother three years ago.

Doctors in Utah say American snowboarder Kevin Pearce of Norwich, Vt., is making encouraging strides in his recovery after suffering a severe brain injury last month. Doctors at University Hospital in Salt Lake City say Pearce is making daily progress after being injured in a half pipe training accident on New Year's Eve in Park City, Utah.

Vermont police say three men charged with stealing more than 200 sticks of dynamite and detonation cord from a Bethel granite quarry had hoped to trade the explosives for cocaine. Authorities say the men ranging in age from 18 to 21 stole the items in August 2008. The explosives were recovered several days later in Brookfield.

Three employees of the city of Winooski are out of work after their jobs were eliminated to help close a $500,000 budget shortfall. City Manager Katherine Decarreau wouldn't name the employees, but said they worked in city management positions. The Burlington Free Press says Winooski faces a $500,000 budget deficit for the fiscal year that ends June 30.

Vermont Judge Ben Joseph is planning to retire in June after 12 years on the bench. The 67-year-old Joseph says he wants to retire while he still has what he calls "a fair amount of energy." Joseph's retirement comes as former state judge Christina Reiss leaves the state courts to become a federal judge and Judge Howard VanBenthuysen is headed to Afghanistan with the Vermont National Guard.

The Vermont Senate has approved a bill designed to encourage large commercial trucks to use the state's interstate highways rather than smaller roads. The bill takes advantage of a federal pilot program lifting an 80,000-pound limit on trucks using the interstate highways. The state measure takes a similar step, with the aim of lessening the traffic of big trucks on Vermont's smaller roads.

Police say a St. Johnsbury pair has been charged with robbing a woman as she tried to make a night deposit at a Lyndonville bank in October. Twenty-5-year-old Gregory Gosselin and 23-year-old Randi-Lynn Aldrich are accused of assaulting and robbing a 19-year-old McDonald's employee at gunpoint, taking the money and her vehicle.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

WVTK Local & State News January 13, 2010

Storyteller and filmmaker Malcolm "Mac" Parker is under investigation for violating state securities laws, according to court papers. Paulette Thabault, commissioner of the State Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration, confirmed investigators are looking at whether the Addison resident violated state law by soliciting funding for a movie called "The Birth of Innocence." The website that described the project and sought donors is no longer available. The state says neither he nor the movie are registered to collect investments.

The Vermont Senate looks poised to move ahead with a measure that would ban motorists from typing messages onto cell phone keyboards while driving. On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Transportation set to work on a "texting while driving" provision that proponents say would decrease the incidence of one of the deadliest distractions on Vermont roadways. Calls for texting bans aren't new. Over the past two years, the Vermont House has given broad bipartisan approval to bills that included bans on texting while driving. The effort has won new political momentum as Senate leaders take interest in the issue.

One candidate has dropped out of the race for lieutenant governor in Vermont, and a new one's in the running. David Zuckerman says he's decided to drop out of the race to devote his time to his farm, while fellow state representative Steve Howard says he's joining the race for the seat being vacated Brian Dubie as he runs for governor.

More than 200 people crowded into the Vermont House chamber for a public hearing on health care. Tuesday evening's hearing began with testimony from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who told lawmakers that federal health care legislation will expand the availability of community health centers in Vermont.

A radioactive tritium leak at the Vermont Yankee has prompted new questions among lawmakers weighing whether to approve a 20-year extension of the nuclear plant's license. A spokesman at the nuclear reactor said Tuesday plant staff were still trying to determine the source of the leak containing elevated levels of the radioactive isotope. The leak was detected last week at the plant site in Vernon.

The deadly start of the snowmobiling season has state police and snowmobile groups renewing calls to stay careful. Six people have died in snowmobiling accidents in Vermont since Christmas Eve, with officials stressing sledders need to be careful of thin ice.

A new state report finds dozens of bridges across New York are in even worse shape than Lake Champlain's Crown Point Bridge, which was brought down for structural problems last month. The deficient spans include a number of major spans, including the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge.

Several Vermont political candidates want their state to call it quits with America. In what organizers call the first statewide slate of pro-secession candidates, nine people under the Vermont Independence Day banner are planning to run for governor, lieutenant governor and seven seats in the state Senate. They say they want a fresh start with a real democracy. Their cause is the latest incarnation of a movement that's bubbled in Vermont and elsewhere for years. Few observers give them much hope of winning even in a left-leaning state where the popular Republican governor's decision not to seek re-election has touched off a scramble among would-be successors. Five Democrats and a Republican are in a wide-open race for the seat headed to the November election.

A new city ordinance makes it illegal for people to idle their vehicles in Burlington for more than three minutes. The ordinance that took effect Dec. 31 makes exceptions for vehicles that run refrigeration units, vehicles that are being repaired or if shutting off the vehicle would jeopardize the health or safety of someone in it. But Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling says enforcement is not high on police radar. The Burlington Free Press says a less restrictive ordinance enacted two decades ago that applied to idling during warm weather months did not lead to many tickets. Schirling says the department's parking division primarily enforces the ordinance, which focuses on education.

Vermont police are working up a case against a man who they say pretended to be a wounded veteran of both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars to get his truck fixed for free. But they also say suspect Simon George of Wilmington has left the country for his native England. The Brattleboro Reformer reports there is no record George served overseas.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

WVTK Local & State News January 12, 2010

Officials across New England are warning snowmobilers and others to be extra careful on lake ice. The Coast Guard tells WCAX the ice on Lake Champlain formed later than usual and the heavy snows are insulating the ice to keep it from freezing thicker. Three people died Saturday after their snowmobiles went through the ice on Lake Dunmore.

Former Vergennes police chief Michael Lowe has pleaded guilty to DUI-drug and other charges stemming from a crash last June involving his police cruiser and a parked car. The Burlington Free Press reports prosecutors have agreed to cap their sentencing request at from 18 months to four years.

When a new bridge over Lake Champlain takes shape at Addison, bicycle and pedestrian advocates want to make sure the span includes provisions for both. They tell the Rutland Herald the old bridge, which was demolished last month, couldn't handle either cyclists or pedestrians safely.

Getting a temporary ferry running near the old Champlain Bridge will mean a change for one of the other Lake Champlain ferry routes. Starting Thursday, January 14, the Grand Isle-Plattsburgh route will change to its weekend schedule. That means the ferry will still be running 24-7, but you will have to wait a few minutes longer between ferries. It's all because one of the three ferries is being sent down to Crown Point, to help break up the ice for construction crews trying to build the temporary ferry docks. Expect the change to last three to four weeks.

State lawmakers have set a pair of hearings for today on the state's budget and on health care reform. 1 of the sessions will have lawmakers going over a list of budget changes proposed by the Douglas administration while the other could look at the impact of a federal health care overhaul on state programs.

Hannaford Supermarket is becoming the first major retail chain to back a program designed to help New England's troubled dairy farmers make more money and stay in business. Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Scott Soares is set to announce Tuesday that Hannaford will stock locally produced milk and dairy products branded with a special "Keep Local Farms" logo. The program seeks to encourage New England residents to buy local products after about 150 small farmers went out of business due to rising costs to produce milk and dairy products and shrinking profits. The initiative will also provide additional money directly to area farmers. Soares says Hannaford's 171 stores in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont will provide major exposure for the initiative. Similar announcements will be made in Maine and Vermont. On the Net: Keep Local Farms:

Congressman Peter Welch is holding a roundtable with business officials today in St. Albans. The aim of the roundtables is to develop job creation strategies and to talk over obstacles to economic growth in the state.

Authorities say an accident that closed the Beltline for more than four hours Sunday afternoon left both drivers dead. Police have identified the victims as Taylor Mclaughlin and Michael Wagner, both of Colchester. An investigation into the crash is under way.

Roughly one in eight Vermonters relies on food stamps, according to the latest federal figures. The Burlington Free Press also reports use of food stamps in Vermont has gone up nearly 80 percent over the past four years and is running ahead of national averages.

Monday, January 11, 2010

WVTK Local & State News January 11, 2010

Vermont State Police say a snowmobiling accident on a frozen lake has killed a man, his daughter and 3-year-old granddaughter. Police say three snowmobiles carrying six people altogether went through ice on Lake Dunmore near Salisbury at around noon Saturday. Five people went into the water and were later pulled out by rescue crews. A 4-year-old was pushed to safety before the snowmobile he was riding went through the ice. Fifty-year-old Kevin Flynn, of Whiting; 24-year-old Carrie Flynn, of Whiting; and 3-year-old Bryanna Popp of Brandon were pronounced dead at a Middlebury hospital. Carrie Flynn was Bryanna's aunt. Flynn's wife, 47-year-old Terry Flynn, and Bryanna's brother, 6-year-old Jeremiah Popp, survived.

Coast Guard Officials are warning everyone that the ice on our lakes may not be as thick as it looks. The warning comes after Saturday's accident on Lake Dunmore.

500 Vermont National Guard Solders left yesterday morning for a yearlong deployment. The guard members will stop at Camp Atterbury in Indiana before heading overseas. The Afghanistan deployment amounts to one-half of the entire Vermont Army Guard. And the ones who were chosen come from every sector of the organization.

A bill making its way though the Vermont legislature could make it mandatory for Vermont Hunters to were fluorescent orange or blaze orange while hunting. It’s a law that 40 other states have already adopted. The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department say 4 or 5 of the deaths in the last decade might have been prevented if the victims had been wearing orange.

South Burlington police are looking for a woman they say robbed a shopper in the Shaws Supermarket on Shelburne Road. Investigators say an unknown woman just before 6:30 Saturday Night snuck up behind the shopper and grabbed her purse. The suspect then ran out the store and down Farrell Street.

Police have arrested a Vermont woman for allegedly selling morphine pills. Police say 26-year-old Michelle Cora Ricketts of Rutland also was found Tuesday with two bags of heroin, a crack pipe and a syringe. Ricketts, who police said was wanted on an active arrest warrant, was brought to Marble Valley Correctional Center.

Vermont utility regulators have ordered the Vermont Community Wind Farm to remove a meteorological test tower from a Clarendon peak and pay a $6,000 fine. Wind Farm spokesman Jeff Wennberg says they're disappointed, but will comply with the order.

General Electric Aviation in Rutland has been awarded $11.9 million in tax credits to manufacture a cleaner, energy efficient aircraft engine. The award was part of $2.3 billion in tax credits given to 183 projects around the country. The money will come from last year's $787 billion stimulus program.

What would you do with some extra cash? The U.S. Census Bureau is looking for hundreds of temporary workers to help count everyone in Vermont in 2010.

Most of the jobs are for people who will work in the field earning $13.50 an hour. 
To apply for work, applicants must take a 30-minute multiple-choice test. Anyone interested in taking a test can call (866) 861-2010 toll free or 264-0860 to make an appointment.

Vermont's newest federal judge is on the job. Christina Reiss was sworn in Friday in U.S. District Court in Rutland. She is the state's 19th federal judge and the first woman to hold the position. She previously served as a state judge.

Jury selection begins Monday in the second trial of a Vermont orthopedic surgeon accused of molesting a patient. A jury failed to reach a verdict in Dr. Joseph Abate's first trial last May. Abate, of Colchester, is charged with sexual assault and lewd and lascivious conduct.

Authorities say both drivers were killed in a two-vehicle crash in Burlington Sunday afternoon. Police say there is no indication that speed or road conditions caused the crash or that drugs or alcohol played a role. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

The Saranac Central School Board will be asking voters to approve a nearly 18-Million-Dollar capital improvement project. They say roughly 80 percent of the project is energy and technology related. They add the heating system is nearly 50-years-old at the schools. There will be a public meeting on January 26 at 6 PM in the Middle/High School Gym.

A woman who contracted Legionnaires' disease after staying at a Vermont hotel in 2008 has been awarded about $490,000 by a jury. Fifth-7-year-old Gail Stevens of Bennington says she's pleased with the amount. She stayed at the Cortina Inn in March 2008. The owners did not respond to the complaint.

Friday, January 8, 2010

WVTK Local & State News January 8, 2010

Vermont and New York authorities are now turning their attention to financing the Lake Champlain Bridge project. John Zicconi estimated the total cost at $110 million, a figure that includes the costs of the bridge, the temporary ferry and the ferry’s operating costs. The federal government is expected to pay 80 percent of the costs. Vermont and New York would be responsible for 10 percent each. The bridge costs, Zicconi said, could be spread over three fiscal years. Zicconi said the public can expect the two transportation departments to announce the final choice of design soon after the public comment period closes on Jan. 11. Meanwhile work on the Crown Point Ferry is well under way and on schedule according to the sub-contractor. Workers spend seven days a week and put in at least 12 hour days on the construction site.

As Vermont tries to get its fiscal house in order, Governor Jim Douglas warns the state will nave to trim education spending. In his final State of the State address, Douglas also told lawmakers Vermont needs to beef up job creation and economic development efforts.

Gov. Jim Douglas is also urging Vermont lawmakers to roll back income, capital gains and estate tax increases passed last year. Douglas says the tax changes are prompting some affluent, longtime Vermonters to leave the state, or change their permanent residences to avoid Vermont's tax burdens. He's asking in particular that lawmakers go back to making the first $3.5 million of an estate's value exempt from the tax, up from the $2 million, to which it was lowered last year. He says the lower threshold makes it harder for farmers and small business owners to pass on their properties to their children. He also wants to restore an exemption from the capital gains tax for the first 40 percent of capital gains income.

A Virginia court has taken the same step as a Vermont court, ordering a woman to hand over custody of a 7-year-old girl to the woman's former lesbian partner in Vermont. Janet Jenkins, of Fair Haven, and Lisa Mller broke up in 2003 - with Miller renouncing homosexuality and moving to Virginia.

The federal government will help subsidize Vermont's Catamount Health insurance program for low-income residents. Vermont Public Radio reports the decision should save the state millions and marks a change from Bush administration policy that put a lower cap on the subsidy.

Come September, Bennington Police Chief Richard Gauthier says he's planning to retire. Gauthier has spent 30 years on the police force - the last 12 of them as chief. Town officials are hoping to promote his successor from within.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

WVTK Local & State News January 7, 2010

Gov. David Paterson wants to rebuild the state's economy and rebuild trust in state government. Paterson delivered his State of the State address Wednesday afternoon. It included a list of reforms meant to limit the influence of special interests and curb runaway spending. Paterson says the state has been worn down by fiscal and ethical crises.

Meanwhile Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas will deliver his final State of the State address this afternoon at 2.

Middlebury College history professor and president emeritus John McCardell will leave to take over Sewanee: The University of the South. McCardell, who served as acting president of Middlebury in 1991 and president from 1992 to 2004, announced Wednesday he would take office at the Tennessee liberal arts college on July 1.

During his time in office at Middlebury, McCardell instituted a new residential system, led a capital campaign and added several facilities to the campus. The school's science center bears his name. Sewanee contains an Episcopalian seminary and its alumni include several Episcopal bishops as well as a Georgia governor and congressmen from three states.

Vermont lawmakers say they'll give themselves a 5 percent pay cut for the next two years. Under an agreement announced Wednesday, the pay for rank & file legislators will go from $636 a week to $604 a week during sessions. Assuming a 17-week session, it'll cost a typical lawmaker $544.

About 100 Vermont National Guard soldiers are on their way to training before heading to Afghanistan. The soldiers from armories in Waterbury and Vergennes left Wednesday morning for their yearlong mission. They'll spend two months at Camp Atterbury before shipping out

American snowboarder Kevin Pearce is no longer in critical condition. A spokeswoman for Pearce's family says Pearce has improved to serious condition. The 22-year-old from Norwich, Vt., suffered a brain injury while training on New Year's Eve.

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources has adopted a rule allowing all-terrain vehicles on state land. The rule was quietly put in place this week less than a month after it drew a formal objection from the Legislature's Committee on Administrative Rules.

A crack dealer arrested in a 2008 Rutland-area sweep has been sentenced to five years in prison. U.S. District Judge Garvan J. Murtha also ordered four years of supervised release for 21-year-old Kajuan Woods, of Brooklyn, N.Y., at his sentencing Wednesday. U.S. Attorney Tristram Coffin says Woods conspired with others and distributed crack in the Rutland and Brandon areas. Over a 2-year period, Woods allegedly sold more than 500 grams of it before his arrest in May 2008. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute five grams or more of crack cocaine.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

WVTK Local & State News January 6, 2010

The state of Vermont is offering free radon test kits, hoping they'll get people to test their homes for the presence of the colorless, odorless gas, which can cause lung cancer. Dr. Austin Sumner, state epidemiologist for environmental health at the Vermont Department of Health, says exposure to radon is preventable and fixable. State health officials say prolonged exposure to radon is second only to smoking as a lung cancer cause in the United States, killing more than 20,000 people annually. To get 1 of the kits, send an e-mail - using the subject line "radon test kit" - to Include your name, telephone number and your mailing and physical address, or call 1-800-439-8550.

Retirees across New York are waiting for their pension checks. The U.S. Postal Service says it lost or misplaced thousands of checks that were supposed to go out at the end of 2009. The exact number of misplaced checks is unknown, but about 60,000 New Yorkers rely on them to survive. Western New York and the Southern Tier are the hardest hit. The State Comptroller's office says it plans to cut new checks for some retirees. Anyone whose check doesn't come in the mail today should call 1-866-805-0990 or 474-7736.

Two new members have been sworn in to the Vermont House, one replacing a representative appointed to the Senate and the other replacing a longtime lawmaker appointed last year to be tax commissioner. Rep. Adam Howard of Cambridge replaces Richard Westman, whom Gov. Jim Douglas appointed last summer to head up the state Department of Taxes. Rep. Charles "Butch" Shaw replaces longtime veteran Rep. Margaret "Peg" Flory of Pittsford. Douglas recently appointed Flory to 1 of 3 Rutland County seats in the state Senate, replacing Hull Maynard, who resigned in November. The oaths were administered Tuesday as lawmakers returned for the second half of their 2009-2010 session.

Some legislative Republicans are upset that a key Vermont Senate committee this year is made up completely of Democrats. The Senate Finance Committee had one Republican, but former Sen. Hull Maynard of Rutland County resigned his legislative seat in November.

A legislative committee has endorsed a consultant's recommendations on how to save $38 million. The Joint Legislative Government Accountability Committee on Tuesday voted to accept the report saying the state needs to focus less on specific services delivered and more on how well those services produce the desired outcomes.

As Vermont National Guard members prepare to deploy to Afghanistan, the Guard's commander says more soldiers will be put into combat roles than was originally envisioned. In a speech to lawmakers, Major General Michael Dubie says the mission has changed from a training and mentoring mission since President Obama announced a surge strategy.

Three Vermont high schools are set to receive heart-rate monitors and supporting technology for their physical-education programs, according to the Vermont Education Department. Leland and Gray Union High School in Townshend, Middlebury Union High School and Rutland Senior High School received grants totaling $26,993 for the heart-rate monitors and software. The department says the monitors help phys-ed programs take a new direction toward individual, lifelong fitness and away from competitive sports. That approach also helps boost academic performance, focus, concentration and impulse control, according to the department.

The Vermont Department of Health is urging all Vermonters older than 6 months to become vaccinated against the H1N1 flu. "Vaccine is now widely available, and there are still months of flu season ahead of us," Health Commissioner Wendy Davis said. The Health Department lifted vaccination restrictions last month. 

The shots and nasal spray vaccine are provided at no charge at clinics statewide. Eight public clinics are scheduled through this week, including one in St. Albans for people 50 and older. They are: today, 9-11 a.m., Pawlet Community Church, and 4-7 p.m., Barre Auditorium; Thursday, 1-3 p.m., Enosburg Ambulance Building, 9 a.m.-noon, Orleans Essex Visiting Nurse Association Office in Newport City and 4-6 p.m., Holiday Inn, Rutland; Friday, 12:30-2:30 p.m., Collins Perley Sports Complex, St. Albans, for people age 50 and older; Saturday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Champlain Valley Union High School, Hinesburg. To locate a vaccination clinic, go to the Health Department's Web site at, then select "Get Vaccinated" at the top of the home page.

New Hampshire wildlife officials say an electronic beacon helped them quickly pinpoint a Vermont woman who got stuck on Moosilauke Mountain last night. Patricia Dewey of Thetford broke a snowshoe but activated the beacon, which sent searchers her position.

Customers of Vermont's largest electric utility are going to see their bills go up this month. Last week the Vermont Public Service Board approved a 5.58 percent rate increase for customers of the Central Vermont Public Service Corp. The increase takes effect with customers' January bills. The Rutland Herald says that for a customer who uses 500 kilowatts of electricity a month their bill will go up $4.08.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

WVTK Local & State News January 5, 2010

Most of the several dozen people who attended a public meeting last night in Vergennes regarding the design for the new Champlain Bridge prefer a modified network tied arch design for the replacement. It is the same design New Yorkers say they prefer, and the design a committee of officials chose. While nothing is official it is likely that is the design that will be built. A final design decision should come within the next two weeks or so with some of the specifics to be hammered out after that. Construction is still set to begin in the spring.

When customers of Central Vermont Public Service Corp. open their bills this month, they'll see a nearly 6 percent rate increase. The Public Service Board approved a 5.58 percent rate increase on New Year's Eve to take effect this month under the utility's alternative regulation plan. The average bill for a CVPS residential customer who uses 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity will see an increase of $4.08 a month to $77.57.

Even with the increase, CVPS said its rates remain among the lowest in New England.

The U.S. Census Bureau has launched a 100-day road tour to encourage residents of New England and upstate New York to complete the 2010 census as officials worry that some immigrants may ignore the forms. U.S. Department of Commerce Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Wade joined officials in Boston to kickoff the aggressive national campaign two months before census forms are mailed. The push comes as officials fear immigrants might be too scared to fill out census forms. Advocates say that could hurt New England states since the area saw a rise in the immigration population over the last decade. Wade said officials will tour 70 venues around New England and will place advertisements in different languages. More than $400 billion in federal funds comes from census data.

American snowboarder Kevin Pearce remains in critical but stable condition at a Utah hospital with a brain injury he suffered when he fell while training. The 22-year-old from Norwich, Vt., is a top-ranked halfpipe rider. He was injured in Park City last Thursday.

Vermont labor leaders are asking lawmakers to allow the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant to stay open 20 years past the expiration of its current license in 2012. Leaders of 15 construction unions say more than 600 people work at the Vernon plant and pay taxes to the state of Vermont.

Police says alcohol was involved in a fatal snowmobile crash in the town of Readsboro. Vermont state police say 18-year-old Jessica Bolognani fell off the back of a snowmobile on Saturday evening and was hit by another snowmobile that was following the sled she was on.

A Vermont woman battling her former lesbian partner for custody of their daughter wants her ex held in contempt. A lawyer for Janet Miller filed the request today in a Rutland court. Lisa Miller, who now lives in Virginia, was ordered to turn over the girl last week but hasn't done so.

The National Weather Service says 33.1 inches of snow fell at the Burlington International Airport from 7 a.m. Saturday to midnight Sunday. That was the most ever in a single storm. As Burlington copes with the record weekend storm, most people are taking in stride - some perhaps too much so. State police cited a driver on I-89 yesterday after stopping him from pulling a sled, with a rider on it, behind his car.

Jury selection is set to begin January 11th in the re-trial of orthopedic surgeon Joseph Abate, who's accused of molesting a patient, with testimony expected to begin the following week. Abate's initial trial, involving multiple patients, ended with a hung jury.

Monday, January 4, 2010

WVTK Local & State News January 4, 2010

The snow storm blanketing the area has now become the largest snowstorm witnessed in Burlington in more than 120 years of record keeping. The National Weather Service says the storm dumped over 32 inches of snow in the Burlington area. Burlington seemed to receive the most while other parts of the state received a lot less snow.

The Ti Ferry that runs between Ticonderoga, N.Y., and Shoreham, Vt., stopped running as of Sunday. The cable ferry normally closes during the winter, but agreed to stay open after the bridge closed to help get commuters back and forth across the lake. But now the company says it has not been able to secure marine insurance beyond Jan. 3 and so it plans to suspend operations. A new temporary ferry service is under construction near the demolished bridge. But it is not expected to be open until the end of January. In the meantime, VTrans and the NYSDOT say the following transportation alternatives are available for travelers:

Ferry Service:

The Essex/Charlotte Ferry remains open and is operating 24 hours per day. There is no charge for passengers during this transportation emergency. A schedule can be found by visiting

Bus Service:

New York Service North (AM) to the Essex Ferry: From Ticonderoga NY to the Essex NY two buses are running - originating from the Ticonderoga WalMart at 4:25 A.M. and 5:25 A.M. Pickup locations along the way include: Crown Point (Sacred Heart Church), Port Henry (Nu-Way), Port Henry (Dock Street), and Westport Fairgrounds, arriving at Essex Ferry at 5:50 A.M. and 6:50 A.M. Beginning Monday, January 4, public transportation in New York via Trailways will be available to the Essex ferry dock, with connecting service in Vermont. Buses in Vermont will take riders to several stops within Addison County, including Northlands Job Corps, Goodrich, Main Street Vergennes and the greater Middlebury area. Return trips later in the afternoon are also available. NYSDOT will post flaggers in Essex to direct bus traffic to the ferry should the traffic become heavy.
New York Service South (PM) from the Essex Ferry: From Essex NY to Ticonderoga NY will run two buses originating from the Essex Ferry Dock at 4:30 P.M. and 5:30 P.M. Drop-off locations along the way include: Westport Fairgrounds, Port Henry (Dock Street), Port Henry (Nu-Way), and Crown Point (Sacred Heart Church).

Service from New York to Vermont (AM) through Whitehall NY: One bus will run from Crown Point NY to Vermont (business locations). The bus originates at the Crown Point (Sacred Hearts Church) at 5:45 A.M. with a stop at Ticonderoga WalMart at 6:00 A.M., then on to the following Vermont locations of Middlebury College 7:45 A.M., Porter Medical Center 7:50 A.M., and Goodrich Aeronautical 8:15 A.M. An additional bus through Whitehall to major employers in Vermont will be added if needed.
Service from Vermont to New York (PM) through Whitehall NY: One bus will return from Vermont (business locations) to Crown Point NY. Bus originates at the Goodrich Aeronautical at 4:00 P.M., Porter Medical Center 4:30 P.M., Middlebury College 4:35 P.M. and arrives in Ticonderoga, NY 6:20 P.M., and Crown Point NY (Sacred Hearts Church) 6:35 P.M.

Dial-A-Ride Service in Vermont:

Dial-A-Ride service from Charlotte Ferry to Burlington VT: This service is available, but requires 24-hour advanced notice. For more information or to schedule a ride travelers may call 1-802-878-1527.
Dial-A-Ride and Fixed Route service from Charlotte Ferry to Vergennes VT: Dial-A-Ride service is also available, and requires 24-hour advanced notice. For more information or to schedule a ride travelers may call 802-388-1946 or visit the website at

For further information on the bus schedule, travelers may call Trailways at 800-858-8555.
Travelers are advised to check the various ferry websites as well as and for information on schedules.

Gov. Jim Douglas says he's focused on balancing the most difficult state budget he's faced in his seven years as Vermont's chief executive. Douglas tells the Burlington Free Press than when the Legislature reconvenes for the 2010 session, he'll ask lawmakers to restrict how much local school districts can spend.

Freya von Moltke, a former Nazi resister who made a home in Vermont, has died at the age of 98. Her son, told the Valley News that his German-born mother died Friday after suffering a viral infection earlier in the week. Freya von Moltke served with her husband as prominent members of the German resistance during World War II.

A bridge linking northernmost Vermont and New Hampshire across the Connecticut River is set to close for four days for a detailed inspection. The Bridge Street Bridge between West Stewartstown, N.H., and Beecher Falls, Vt., will close today though this Thursday, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is making grant money available to help provide broadband Internet access to Vermont libraries. The money is expected to be used as the state's match for federal funding the state will seek in early 2010 under the federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program.

Vermont rallied for a 4-3 win over Alabama-Huntsville in the opening round of the Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup tournament. Playing before a sell-out crowd at home, Vermont outshot Alabama 39-14 in Saturday night's game, but had to overcome a third period deficit to move to the tournament championship game Sunday.

Friday, January 1, 2010

WVTK Local & State News January 1, 2010

Vermont State Police have ruled a 5-week-old baby's death in October a homicide. They said Thursday that final autopsy results show that Colin Van Vleck's death was due to mistreatment but did not say how the baby died. The investigation is continuing. The baby was taken from a home in Bennington to a hospital on Oct. 3.

A Pittsford man will join the Vermont House of Representatives, replacing Peg Flory, who was recently appointed to the state Senate. Gov. Jim Douglas on Thursday appointed Butch Shaw to the vacant seat. Shaw owns a small electrical contracting business, is assistant fire chief, chairman of the Board of Civil Authority, and justice of the peace in Pittsford.

More than 1,000 Vermont dairy farmers will share in $5.7 million in emergency federal support to help them recover from the lowest prices in 40 years for their milk. The state's portion of a federal aid package will result in a payment of about $8,000 to the typical Vermont farmer.

A Vermont man has confessed to a 1982 killing in a plea deal with prosecutors. Forty-7-year-old Theodore Caron of Barre was arrested in February in the strangulation death of Pamela Brown. A DNA sampled linked him to her slaying. He pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder in a deal his lawyer says could get him fewer than seven years in prison.

Vermont State Police are investigating a snowmobile crash that killed a 30-year-old woman from New York. Police say Kristen T. Bednar of East Patchogue, N.Y., and a group of friends and relatives were riding snowmobiles late Tuesday night in West Windsor when she lost control of her machine and crashed into a tree. Bednar suffered severe head injuries and was flown to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H. Police were informed Thursday night that Bednar had died as a result of her injuries. Officials say Bednar was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. A passenger on the back of her snowmobile was not injured.

If you're making a list of New Year's resolutions, Governor Paterson has one for you to add: Get a swine flu shot. Paterson says the H1N1 flu, or swine flu, is still active in New York, and increasing the number of people who get the vaccination will reduce its spread. Some pharmacies started getting supplies of the flu vaccine last week, and it's also available at county health departments and physicians. It's available to everyone over six months old. The state health department has allocated nearly 4.5 million doses of the vaccine for New York state outside of New York City. Through the week ending December 26, there were 59 confirmed swine flu-related deaths in the counties outside New York City since September 1. During the week ending December 26, 126 people were hospitalized in New York state with swine flu.

The New York state Health Department gives high marks to retailers for complying with the law forbidding tobacco sales to kids under 18. A report released by the agency says nearly 92 percent of retailers who sell tobacco are complying with the ban. That's the highest compliance rate since the enforcement program started 11 years ago. Health Commissioner Richard Daines says the state's youth smoking rate is now at 14.7 percent. Over the last 11 years, more than $20 million in fines were levied against 32,559 retailers for selling tobacco to minors. Between October 1, 2007 and September 30, 2008, 256 retailers lost their tobacco-selling licenses for six months and 85 Lottery agent licenses were suspended for multiple tobacco sales to minors.