Wednesday, March 31, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 31, 2010

Construction crews are still in the process of removing the old Crown Point Bridge. Before construction can begin on the new bridge, the old one must be completely removed. The U.S. Coast Guard requires all the debris to be out of the main channel of Lake Champlain by April 15 and entirely out by June 1. State officials say they appear to be right on schedule. The new bridge has already been designed and will open to bids next month. A contract will be awarded in early May, with construction starting early this summer. Construction on that new $70 million bridge is expected to be done in September 2011.

An engineering firm has been chosen to oversee repairs to McKinley Bridge in Rutland Town, which could begin as early as April. McKinley Bridge spans East Creek and is a bypass from Route 7 to the State Police Headquarters as well as to the McKinley Avenue fire station. During the process of bridgework traffic will be diverted from McKinley Avenue to North Grove Street to Grove Street to Field Avenue to Route 7.

Police in Ticonderoga believe they've solved a string of residential burglaries dating back to late last year. 25-year-old Timothy D. McDougal was arrested Monday for 5 burglaries in which a variety of items including firearms, jewelry and cash were stolen. Authorities say the investigation is still open, and more charges are possible.

Dairy farmers from around the state demanded help at a conference yesterday. They say the low milk prices are causing them to lose money. One plan they discussed would require dairy farmers to give up some production control and basically be told how much milk to produce. Many dairy farmers said it might not be the perfect plan but anything is better than what they’ve got now.

State Human Services Chief Robert Hoffman says Vermont needs to step up its efforts to get low-risk offenders out of prison as it tries to trim spending. Hoffman's assessment came as state officials unveiled an efficiency plan that could save $38 million. Hofmann says Vermont's incarceration rates have been going up while its crime rate has been flat or declining.

Vermont is hoping better technology could help the state trim the budget and improve services. Governor Jim Douglas has suggested larger companies electronically file their W-2 forms electronically with the state. It's a move officials say could result in greater efficiency and faster processing of tax returns.

Governor David Paterson is suspending hundreds of current and new construction projects because of the state’s budget issues. Paterson administration officials said all projects not paid for by federal economic stimulus funds will be delayed until the Legislature and the governor agree on next year’s budget or emergency funding.

Days after Vermont Yankee officials declared they'd fixed a tritium leak state health workers are reporting higher readings of another radioactive isotope. Cesium 137 is said to be more dangerous than the tritium that plant and state officials have been measuring in the groundwater. The reading came from the soil around the nuclear power plant.

The head of the Vermont National Guard says some of the state's soldiers in Afghanistan are involved in ongoing combat. Major General Michael Dubie says one Vermont soldier suffered minor wounds in an explosion. The soldier is expected to recover fully and is planning to return to duty. The Vermont National Guard is leading a 3,200-member brigade.

Plattsburgh City School Officials got together again last night to work on next year’s budget. The Plattsburgh City School District needs to cut nearly $1.7 million due to a reduction in state aid. The district is looking at cutting 13 positions and not filling another 8. The board must approve the budget by April 8. Taxpayers will vote on it on May 18.

The Vermont House of Representatives gave final approval to making Instant Runoff Voting, or IRV, history. On Town Meeting Day, voters in Burlington voted to not use the controversial system in electing the mayor. Since the Legislature has to approve all local charter changes, the next stop for final approval is the Senate.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 30, 2010

A West Rutland man has been convicted in the stabbing death of his girlfriend's ex-husband. Trevor Herrick was found guilty yesterday of second-degree murder in the 2009 slaying of 52-year-old Kerry Munger, of Benson. Prosecutors say Herrick stabbed Munger during an argument in the parking lot of the Diamond Run Mall.

A runaway 13-year-old has been found safe and sound. Police put out an alert for the boy who ran away from his home in Mount Holly Sunday. Police were particularly concerned because an out-of-state truck was reported near where the boy had been seen hitchhiking. But police say the teen was found safe and sound yesterday morning in the Clarendon area.

A jury has found 51-year-old Robert Kolibas of Williston guilty of drugging and inappropriately touching a 13-year-old girl. The girl, whose name is not being released, was sleeping over as a guest of Kolibas’s daughter. Kolibas claimed the sleeping pills he mixed into a smoothie were intended for his wife. He could face more than 30 years in prison.

Peru Central School could eliminate several positions and cut programs under its 2010-11 spending plan. Officials say the cuts are a response to cuts in state aid, declining enrollment, and steep cost increases. The majority of reductions the board is considering fall in the category of personnel.

Schools and municipalities around Vermont will get some help with making renewable energy and conserving energy, thanks to $5.8 million in grants. The money for the 147 grants is coming from federal stimulus funds. The money will go into a variety of efforts -- including new insulation for buildings and more efficient lighting.

The Rutland Creek Path has moved one step closer to becoming reality. The city received word that it is being awarded a $300,000 transportation enhancement grant from the Agency of Transportation for the Creative Economy-driven project. The award will allow the group to break ground on the first section of the two-mile path, which is planned to stretch from the edge of Giorgetti Athletic Complex and Pine Hill Park to the College of St. Joseph on Dorr Drive. The first section of the path will take the project to State Street.

The results are in from the annual Doyle Poll taken on Town Meeting Day. 96-percent of those questioned believe texting while driving should be banned. 74-percent said cell phone use while driving should be banned all together. The poll also showed that 31-percent of respondents said yes to re-licensing Vermont Yankee, that’s down from 40-percent the year before.

New York's Senate has approved emergency spending that will keep the state operating, as lawmakers leave Albany for the Passover-Easter vacation. The new fiscal year is likely to begin Thursday without a final budget. Gov. David Paterson forced lawmakers to consider what he calls a "bare-bones" emergency spending bill.

A Vermont man who allegedly held police at bay during a three-hour standoff says he's not guilty. Prosecutors say 39-year-old Jonathan G. Fenimore leveled a rifle at police Sunday during the confrontation at his Burlington home. No one was hurt in the incident. Fenimore was ordered yesterday by the courts to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

A St. Albans man who was pulled from his burning home last week has died from his injuries. 73-year-old Orville Fields was rescued from his home on Nason Street by two people who were driving by and saw the flames. Fields suffered severe burns to his legs and lower torso. Investigators say the fire was accidental but have not determined the cause.

The deaths of a husband and wife in Morrisonville have officially been ruled a murder-suicide. Patrick and Rose Maynard were found dead from gunshot wounds in their home on Route 3 Friday morning. Police are looking into reports that the couple had been having marital problems as a possible motive.

Lawyers for the man accused of killing his 12-year-old niece Brook Bennett asked a judge to block prosecutors from seeking the death penalty in his case. In a 186-page motion filed yesterday, attorneys for Michael Jacques argued that since the state of Vermont doesn't have the death penalty, it shouldn't be applied in the federal prosecution of Jacques if he's convicted.

Clinton County is one step closer to selling 600 acres of property off Route 3 in Plattsburgh. The Federal Aviation Administration approved last night to seek requests for potential buyers. People or companies will have 90 days to submit offers for the county to review. The process is expected to take about four to six weeks.

A boy, not even old enough to drive, is under arrest for stealing 45 road signs worth about $2,000. According to police, the signs were stolen in Essex, Georgia, Fairfax and Westford. Authorities are not releasing the boy’s name or age. Police made the discovery while trying to resolve a family dispute. The boy faces grand larceny charges.

Monday, March 29, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 29, 2010

As contractors ready their bids for the Lake Champlain bridge replacement, transportation officials in New York and Vermont are jousting over what kind of labor rules should govern the project. At issue is a so-called "Project Labor Agreement" proposed by the New York Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the $110 million project. That agreement, according to John Zicconi, director of planning and community outreach for the Vermont Agency of Transportation, gives undue preference to unionized labor and would effectively shut Vermont workers out of the highest-dollar bridge project in recent memory.

The state is continuing its investigation into a Vermont storyteller. The state Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration is having trouble getting answers from Malcolm "Mac" Parker of Addison, who state investigators believe may have raised as much as $10 million since he began soliciting investors for his film, "Birth of Innocence," in 1999. 

Filings in Washington Superior Court show that investigators have identified nearly 700 individuals who entered into more than 2,600 separate investment agreements with Parker.

3 Vermont downtowns are getting almost $150,000 to help replace sidewalks and add signs. The money for Brattleboro, Rutland and Vergennes is from Vermont's Downtown Transportation Fund and is designed to help support the revitalization of the state's downtowns. Brattleboro will get over $47,000 while Rutland gets $25,000 and Vergennes will get $75,000.

The New York State Budget is expected to be late again this year. The budget is due on Thursday but lawmakers may not have the budget ready by the Passover-Easter Holiday Break. Governor David Paterson says the Legislature only agrees on about $3.3 billion in cuts compared to his $4.8 billion. Lawmakers are expected to approve an emergency-spending plan today.

The Vermont Seal of Quality, which has marked products from maple syrup to eggs for nearly 30 years, is being suspended. Agriculture Secretary Roger Allbee says the program hasn't worked properly in years. Governor Jim Douglas says the program is not going to be eliminated. It's going to be rethought.

More than 100 people gathered in Burlington Saturday for a cycling and pedestrian summit. Discussion at the event centered on ways to make local communities more pedestrian and bike friendly. Organizers hope the summit will spark change, making Vermont a more pedestrian friendly place to live.

A state legislative committee plans to take up the question of paying for decommissioning the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. Governor Jim Douglas has vetoed two previous bills addressing the issue. Tony Klein, chairman of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, says the new bill would require the plant to set aside $50 million to pay for dismantling the reactor.

A Florida businessman who brokered the first sale of Vermont cows to Cuba five years ago wants to increase food and agricultural exports to Saudi Arabia. John Parke Wright The Fourth tells the Times Argus newspaper that Vermont is 1 of a number of states that could increase exports to a country with 30 million consumers.

An armed standoff with Burlington Police ended peacefully yesterday after the gunman gave himself up. Police say the “intoxicated and despondent” man had fired a gun in the house before police arrived at about 2 PM. The gunman was held-up in his Lopes Avenue home for about 3 hours before surrendering to police.

New York State Police are still investigating an apparent murder-suicide in Cadyville. Police were called to the home on Route 3 around 7:30 Friday Morning and found Patrick and Rose Maynard dead inside the home. According to police, the couple's oldest daughter found her parents after her mother's failed to show up to work.

Closing arguments are expected today in the trial of Robert Kolibas. The Williston man accused of inappropriately touching his daughter's friend at a sleepover. On Friday, Kolibas took the stand and said the drugs in the smoothie given to the girl were meant for his wife. The 51-year old also denied touching her.

Vermont police have arrested a man accused of armed robbery of a pharmacy and making a bomb threat at a high school last week. 47-year-old Gary Reynolds of Highgate is accused of holding up the Rexall Pharmacy in Swanton for prescription drugs. Police say he also made a bomb threat at Missiquoi Valley High School.

The City of Plattsburgh is planning on a number of street repairs this summer. Officials say the relatively mild winter has been kind to the road-repair budget this year. This summer, the city plans to reconstruct 4 streets, and it will resurface 8 others. The budget for street repairs this year is about $1 million.

The federal government has again denied certification for the Vermont State Hospital. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told Vermont officials in a letter Thursday that certification has again been denied. That means the state will miss out on $8 million in federal funds.

South Burlington Police stopped to help a driver with a broken down car and ended up arresting him on drug charges. An officer driving on I-189 stopped to help the disabled vehicle when a drug-sniffing dog indicted something was up. A search of the car revealed almost $7,000 in cash, drug paraphernalia and heroin.

A Plattsburgh woman who suffered severe injuries in a 4-wheel ATV crash Saturday afternoon has died. State Police say 31-year-old Heather M. Smith was riding a 4-wheeler near Chateauguay Lake in the Town of Bellmont with a group of 5 other riders when she crashed into several small trees. Smith was airlifted to Fletcher Allen were she was later pronounced dead.

Friday, March 26, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 26, 2010

Legislators in the Vermont House worked late last night and eventually passed the proposed budget. Lawmakers this year are looking to save about $150 million. The governor's office said he is happy with the progress but would like to see more cuts in education and taxes. The proposed budget now goes on to the senate.

Rutland's police chief moved to fire the officer facing criminal charges in connection with a pornography investigation. Sergeant David Schauwecker was arraigned Wednesday on charges he neglected his duty and lied to investigators. Chief Anthony Bossi submitted a letter to Mayor Chris Louras requesting that the Board of Civil Authority approve Schauwecker's termination. The Board will take up the issue on April 7th. For now Schauwecker remains on paid administrative leave.

The National Bank of Middlebury has fast-tracked the completion of a Habitat for Humanity project. Habitat member Margaret Carothers said the group recently accepted a $4,500 check from the bank. A statement from the bank said it spent three months setting aside $25 each time a certain type of checking account was opened. The house on Weybridge Street will be dedicated next month.

Vermont manufacturers will have to wait a bit longer for a previously scheduled tax cut after the state House voted to delay it. That change was part of a package of tax changes approved yesterday. Lawmakers also voted to apply the state's sales tax to dietary supplements, which currently are exempt.

The trial of Trevor Herrick, charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing of Kerry Munger of Benson, opened in Rutland District Court yesterday. Along with witness testimony, the jury heard part of a recording of an interview between Herrick and Vermont State Police Detective Albert Abdelnour. Herrick fatally stabbed Munger during an argument in the Rutland Town Sears parking lot in April 2009. In the recording, Herrick said he did not believe Munger had any weapons and Munger did not hit him, but just pushed him.

A gas station in Plattsburgh is not allowed to sell any gas until a leak in the underground storage tanks is fixed. Investigators were called to the Sunoco Station next to Jreck Subs on Route 3 yesterday after a number of customers complained about bad gas. They found a crack in one of the tanks that allowed water to leak into the tank.

Vermont Yankee officials say they have found and fixed the source of leaking radioactive tritium. The leak was from two pipes in a concrete tunnel, one which contained liquid and one which contained steam. Yankee officials say groundwater cleanup at the plant began yesterday. No tritium has been detected in drinking water supplies or the nearby Connecticut River.

New York utility regulators have rejected Entergy Corp.'s plan to spin off its six nuclear power stations into a separate company. The state Public Service Commission acted Thursday after its staff determined the deal wasn't in the public interest, primarily because the resulting company - Enexus Energy Corp. - could be financially shaky.

A Vermont mother has pled not guilty to driving drunk with 7 kids in the car. 37-year-old Mary O’Neil was arrested last Friday while driving a car full of kids to the movies in Williston. Police say her blood alcohol content measured point-37 … more than 4 times the legal limit. Several lawmakers in Montpelier say O'Neil's case highlights the need for stiffer drunk driving penalties.

Officials at Momot Elementary School are warning parents that their children may have been exposed to the mumps. A letter was recently sent to the entire Momot Community warning of the potential exposure. A student teacher from Plattsburgh State recently visited the school and has now started showing symptoms of the mumps.

A Plattsburgh teen has been sentenced for her role in a Clinton County burglary spree. 19-year-old Lisa Joy was placed on probation for 5 years and will have to perform 250 hours of community service. Police say she participated in a crime spree in the Plattsburgh area last spring where more than a dozen homes were broken into.

Williston's new ambulance service will start in July. On Town Meeting Day voters approved a budget that included $200,000 to pay for the ambulance service. In the past, the town relied on rescue services provided by neighboring communities. But many said Williston has grown so much it needs its own ambulance service.

Due to cuts in federal and state aid, the Plattsburgh School District may have to cut nearly 20 positions and some popular programs. At a meeting last night, Superintendent Jake Short said it’s either budget cuts or tax hikes. The board did not finalize a plan last night. The public will have another chance to speak-out at a forum next Tuesday night at 6:30.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 25, 2010

A Rutland police sergeant accused of taking evidence from a case he wasn't involved with and then lying about it to investigators pleaded not guilty yesterday in Rutland District Court. Sergeant David Schauwecker is charged with neglect of duty and making a false report to law enforcement authorities. The charges stem from an investigation launched last fall into whether Schauwecker had viewed child pornography on his work computer. Investigators couldn't prove that the images in the material involved children under the age of 16. Schauwecker is on paid leave from the department.

Construction will soon start again on the Cross Street Bridge in Middlebury. A portion of the span across Otter Creek was built before winter. Project engineers say they are trying to be sensitive to local needs. Contractors will take a break during Middlebury College graduation but there will be some impact to summer traffic. Construction is set to begin April 5 and will continue throughout the summer. The bridge is scheduled to open October 10.

Help is on the way for businesses losing money because of the closure of the Lake Champlain Bridge, but what kind of help remains to be seen. The Vermont House of Representatives last week approved an aid package with $350,000 in loans and $150,000 in grants. The funds are part of a larger bill dealing with stimulus money. The two bills are now likely to go to a conference committee composed of House and Senate members who will work to reconcile them.

Money matters take center stage at the statehouse today. Lawmakers are slated to take up the state budget for the upcoming fiscal year, along with bills on taxes and transportation spending. The spending plan includes some cuts in human services as the state tries to close an expected $150 million budget gap.

Funding for the Olympic Regional Development Authority and Moriah Shock still remains up in the air. The State Assembly budget plan calls for funding both entities while the Senate plan doesn’t. Both plans however, still call for the closure of the Lyon Mountain State Correctional Facility. It’s now up to the budgeting committees to come up with a compromise budget plan.

The results are out from the National Assessment of Educational Progress exams and they show Vermont is at the top of the class in reading. Vermont 4th-graders are second only to Massachusetts in reading, while Vermont 8th-graders are number one in the country. Vermont students took the NAEP math exam last year and performed at similar levels.

The man charged with robbing Zuke’s Corner Store last year has plead guilty to the indictment against him. Police say 27-year-old Anthony Vallee robbed the store with an air pistol and made off with $720. Without a plea deal, the Plattsburgh man admitted to robbing the store. Vallee will now be sentenced on May 24.

One person is dead after a horrific crash on Interstate 89 in Georgia. The force of the crash caused a tractor trailer to burst into flames and forced police to shut down Interstate 89 for hours last night. Vermont State Police say the car was heading south on I-89 when the driver crossed into the median, became airborne, and slammed head-on into the truck.

Police in Burlington are still investigating an attempted robbery and assault on North Union Street. Police say 2 men approached a woman late Tuesday Night and demanded money. When she refused, they pushed her down and ran. The 2 unidentified men are still at large. If you have any information, call the Burlington Police Department.

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission has appointed a new senior resident inspector for the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. David Spindler will be one of two inspectors at the Vernon reactor, acting as the federal agency's eyes and ears at the plant. He previously had worked at the FitzPatrick nuclear plant in New York State and was a reactor operator in the U.S. Navy.

Some South Burlington Residents want to put a curfew on the Burlington International Airport. In fact, they’ve started a petition to deter planes from taking off or landing during the overnight. The noise ordinance would charge airlines a fee for using the runway during those hours. Residents say the planes not only make a lot of noise, they sometimes shake their houses.

First, she won an Olympic silver medal in women's halfpipe. Now, snowboarder Hannah Teter can claim an ice cream flavor all her own. Teter of Belmont showed up at a Burlington Ben & Jerry's scoop shop Tuesday to introduce the ice cream maker's newest flavor: Maple Blondie. The ice cream features maple ice cream, blonde brownies and a maple-caramel swirl. Proceeds from the sale of Maple Blondie will benefit Teter's charity Hannah's Gold.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 24, 2010

A Rutland police sergeant Wednesday will answer to criminal charges. Sergeant David Schauwecker has been under investigation since last summer since suspected child pornography was allegedly found on a computer he had logged onto last July. State Police say the sergeant will appear in Rutland District court to answer charges of filing a false report to authorities and neglect of duty by a public officer. Those charges are not related to child pornography but he has been under the microscope for all of his actions since last year.

The Vergennes Police Department and Crime Stoppers are offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of the suspect or suspects who robbed the Marble Works Pharmacy in Vergennes on February 4. Police say the unidentified man enter the pharmacy brandishing a handgun. He then made off with an unspecified amount of prescription drugs.

Rutland school officials and administrators talked Tuesday about substantial changes that could affect how the district provides a public education — from proposed state directives to Rutland High School's new federal designation of being low-performing. Rutland High School Principal Bill Olsen explained to the School Board what he knew and didn't know about why his school was named "persistently low-achieving" — ranked as one of 10 schools in the state as high need by the Vermont Department of Education two weeks ago based on a poverty and testing measurement required by the federal government.

Shaws Supermarkets is cutting 4-percent of its full-time employees company-wide and that means some Vermonters can expect layoffs. The company won’t say exactly how many Vermont jobs will be cut. Officials say the layoffs have nothing to do the ongoing labor dispute in Southern New England. They also add that they have no plans to sell or close any stores in the state.

Swanton Police are investigating a robbery at Rexall Pharmacy in Swanton. Police say someone walked into the pharmacy around 2:30 yesterday afternoon and demanded medication. He then left on foot. Police are looking for a white man, about 30-35 years old, around 6 feet tall, who weighs about 220 pounds.

Opening arguments are expected to come today in the trial for Robert Kolibas. The Williston man is accused of inappropriately touching a teenaged friend of his daughter's during a sleep over. Authorities say Kolibas gave the girl a drug-laced smoothie. Jury selection in the case took the better part of the last 2 days.

State officials say 7 campgrounds and 2 day-use areas in the Adirondack and Catskill forest preserves will not open this year because of the state’s fiscal crisis. One of those is Taylor Pond, a popular campsite in Black Brook. The Department of Environmental Conservation says the sites were selected based on use and proximity to other campgrounds.

Supporters of stronger penalties for drunk drivers rallied at the Vermont Statehouse yesterday. Friends and family of Nick Fournier, who was killed by a drug driver going the wrong way on Interstate 89, want tougher drunk driving penalties. Some lawmakers support the move but bills have stalled in committee. They say they will return every year till a new law is passed.

A Vermont company that makes instant baby formula has been sold for $800-Million. PBM Nutritionals in Georgia has reportedly been purchased by Perrigo. Reports indicate the company expects the purchase to increase sales at the company by $300 million in the first year. The company is hiring now and holding a job fair today.

The owner of the Comfort Inn in Plattsburgh, which was destroyed by a fire, hopes to re-open this summer. The fire in November of 2008 destroyed the hotel on Route 3 along with Perkins Restaurant and Legend's Sports Bar. The owner, Terry Meron, hopes to open the hotel in June and the restaurants a few months later.

Vermont State Police say they have found the remains of a missing Swanton man. Police say 41-year-old Kenneth Murray of Swanton was reported missing on May 4, 2007. Murray's skeletal remains were found in a wooded area off of Lake Road on Monday. Authorities say the cause of death is undetermined but say there are no signs of foul play.

The Town of Plattsburgh wants to spread the word about a new carbon-monoxide-detector law and a ban on open burning. The law, which took effect on February 22, requires new and existing single-family or multi-family buildings to have carbon-monoxide detectors. And due to the large number of wildfires each spring, there is now a ban on burning between March 15 and May 15.

Ben & Jerry's ice cream has a new boss. Jostein Solheim, a veteran executive with parent company Uniliver, has been named CEO of Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream. He succeeds Walt Freese, who recently stepped down after 8 years on the job. Solheim has worked for Unilever for 14 years in 5 countries.

Home sales in the Northeast rose in February as the economy showed signs of recovery. The National Association of Realtors also said that Northeast sales were 13 percent higher compared to a year ago. The Burlington housing market saw the largest price increase for existing home sales in the Northeast, at 12 percent.

An 11-year-old girl is leaving Vermont as the 2010 "Rotten Sneaker" champion of the United States. Trinette Robinson of Bristol, Connecticut, was crowned yesterday in Montpelier at The 35th annual National Odor-Eaters Rotten Sneaker contest. The runner up was 6-year-old Madilyn Taylor of West Jordon, Utah.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 23, 2010

Parts of Vermont could be in for possible flooding. The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for Addison, Bennington, Chittenden, Franklin, Lamoille, Orange, Rutland, Washington, Windham, and Windsor counties early Tuesday morning into Wednesday. The weather service says parts of the state could get up to 2.5 inches of rain, which, combined with melting snow, could cause rivers and streams to rise over their banks. Weather Channel Meteorologist Ray Stagich says Rain will be tapering to Showers later today with a High in the Low 40’s.

The Cortina Inn in Mendon is officially under new ownership and will likely reopen soon. The Inn closed in 2008 after being linked to three cases of Legionnaires disease. The new owners, Ravi and Sudha Bhakta, will repair the 96-room property. They've also hired a consultant to deal with bacteria from the former outbreak. The state will inspect the water system before the Cortina Inn reopens. The owners hope to have the Inn back open by the end of June.

The new health care reform bill will change the way VSAC helps students seeking loans for higher education. Under the new bill, all student loans will be issued by the federal government. The Vermont Student Assistance Corporation will be allowed to continue to service its existing student loans. VSAC will now be administering loans for the federal government.

Soldiers from a Vermont National Guard company are working in the field in Afghanistan. Less than a week after arriving, our soldiers are helping move supplies across eastern Afghanistan. Our soldiers are working side by side with the Afghan National Army and will be handing the mission off to them once they are ready.

The Senate passed a budget proposal yesterday that closes both the Moriah Shock and Lyon Mountain incarceration facilities. The proposal also cuts all state funding for the Olympic Regional Development Authority, which manages Olympic facilities in Lake Placid and North Elba. However, the spending plan does keep 41 parks and historic site open.

As Plattsburgh State students return from spring break, the university has confirmed a 4th case of mumps on campus. And there are an additional 5 suspected cases. Students are not being allowed on campus unless they are properly vaccinated for mumps. Officials said it could take about a week before the results come back from the suspected cases.

A new ordinance in Burlington prohibits smoking in city parks, playgrounds, picnic areas, beaches and athletic fields. Council members say the smoking ban benefits the community. City Council members say they plan to expand upon the ordinance by restricting smoking on Church Street. Smoke-free zones in Burlington Parks and Beaches take effect in about a month.

South Burlington Police have charged a man with lewd and lascivious behavior after witnesses say he exposed himself at 2 different stores. Police say 21-year-old Devin McKenzie, of Burlington, allegedly dropped his pants and showed his backside to several patrons at the McDonald's on Shelburne Road and then again at the nearby Goodwill Store.

The trial of a Williston man accused of inappropriately touching a friend of his daughter’s during a sleep over is schedule to start today. Prosecutors say 51-year-old Robert Kolibas slipped drugs into a 13-year-old girl's smoothie at a sleepover then assaulted her. Kolibas denies the charges. If convicted, Kolibas faces more than 30 years in prison.

Its official, the federal Department of Transportation has awarded a contract to Colgan Air to fly out of the Plattsburgh International Airport, replacing Cape Air. The 2-year deal will provide Colgan with about $2.1 million flying a 34-seat pressurized-cabin aircraft from Plattsburgh to Boston. Cape Air will remain operating out of the Lake Clear Airport, offering service to Boston.

Lawmakers in Montpelier are considering a tax on soft drinks. The proposal would add a couple of cents tax to full sugar soda and other drinks. Lawmakers hope the tax would help close a projected budget gap. House Speaker Shap Smith says he would be very surprised if the proposal becomes law. Attempts to pass similar taxes in New York State recently failed.

Members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee were in Barre yesterday taking testimony for state and local officials about drug use in rural areas. They stressed the need for more federal funding since state, county, and local funding drying up. U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy said he is going to take the ideas back to Washington D.C. to create new ideas.

Multiple area fire departments responded to a fast moving fire in Milton yesterday. Crews were called to the house on Streeter Brook Road around 10 AM and found smoke coming from the home. Fire fighters fought the blaze that destroyed the home for about an hour. No one was home at the time. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

A Republican from Springfield has stepped up to run for congress. Keith Stern, a small business owner from Springfield, said he will run against U.S. Representative Peter Welch. Welch ran unopposed from the Republican Party last time. Stern says Welch is part of a Washington culture that has set government spending on an unsustainable path.

Monday, March 22, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 22, 2010

Congress has approved the Health Care Bill. U.S. House members from Vermont, New Hampshire and Northern New York all voted for the bill. The vote in the House was 219 to 212. The bill now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Starting today, ferry service returns to the Essex-Charlotte Ferry Crossing. The ferry crossing will operate 5 days a week for the next two weeks. And then on April 2, return to a 7-day-a-week schedule. The ferry rates also return to normal starting today; which are the same rates before the Crown Point Bridge was closed.

Police in Bristol are investigating a vandalism spree. Authorities say Vandals smashed 19 windows at Mount Abraham Union High School some time early Thursday morning and another 4 windows at Bristol Elementary School. The vandalism spree follows a break in at the Rite Aid in Bristol early Wednesday morning.

State and local police are looking for a Rutland man on charges he allegedly sold crack cocaine and heroin from his house. Rutland police say they have an arrest warrant for 39-year-old Edward Mullin on charges of drug trafficking. The Vermont Drug Task Force on Friday executed a search warrant at Mullins' home at 35 Williams Street. Kevin Ballard of Brooklyn, New York was arrested during the search on charges of possession of crack cocaine and possession of marijuana. Ballard is due to appear today in Rutland District Court.

State Police say a sugarhouse fire early Friday morning was arson. It happened on Mountain View Road in Tinmouth. Police say the fire was deliberately set, and that the sugarhouse and about 400 gallons of syrup were destroyed. Damage is estimated at $100,000.

As students at Plattsburgh State return to classes today from Spring Break, they have to be immunized against Mumps or they are not allowed to return. Officials at PSU are trying to put an end to the Mumps Outbreak. Returning students, who are not properly vaccinated, can go to the health center, which is holding a vaccination clinic today.

The House Transportation Committee will recommend $596 million in transportation spending beginning July 1 … an increase of $42 million over the current year. Vermonters should see lots of paving projects, as they did last summer when the state spent its first allotment of economic stimulus money.

9 Vermont fire departments will split nearly $900,000 in federal grants. The grants were announced Saturday at a firefighters and EMS summit at Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center. Grants have been given to fire departments in Norwich, Jay, West Dummerston, St. Albans, West Fairlee, Rutland City, Enosburg, South Burlington and Rupert.

The state House of Representatives is expected soon to consider renewable energy legislation that could generate some heat. One provision would remove a size cap on hydroelectric projects that can be considered renewable sources. Critics say large hydroelectric generators are a source of methane, a greenhouse gas.

At Vermont Yankee, the main source of leaking radioactive tritium appears to have been stopped. Levels measured in a nearby monitoring well have been dropping for weeks. A meeting with interested parties is expected soon to wrap up the tritium investigation to date. Officials say it could be two years before the tritium in the groundwater is gone.

A Saranac Lake woman has been found guilty of embezzlement. A jury convicted 37-year-old Rebecca Farnsworth of second-degree larceny. She was accused of racking up more than $80,000 on a company credit card to pay for trips to Florida, cell phones, grocery shopping and car repairs over a four-year period. She is due to be sentenced in late April.

Lawmakers in New York may have found money to keep dozens of state parks and historic sites from closing due to budget cuts. North Country assemblywoman Janet Duprey told supporters at a rally in Plattsburgh yesterday that lawmakers have agreed to take money from a state fund used to fix up parks. It means all of the sites can stay open for at least another year.

Students from across Vermont are being invited to compete in the 23rd annual Vermont Scholastic Chess Championships. The event will be held Saturday, April 10, at Berlin Elementary School in central Vermont. Students from kindergarten through 12th grade are eligible to compete for state championships in each grade.

Friday, March 19, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 19, 2010

Vermont Governor Jim Douglas is praising a legislative committee for acting quickly to move a jobs bill to the floor of the state's House of Representatives. Gov. Jim Douglas yesterday urged lawmakers to take up the bill as soon as possible so he can sign the measure into law. The bill sets aside eight-point-67 million in federal stimulus money for economic development initiatives as a way of creating jobs. Douglas says each day that passes without approving the bill is a missed opportunity.

The state Senate has approved a proposal to release 200 nonviolent prison inmates early as a way of saving money. The measure, which still needs House approval, would have prisoners released if they've served their minimum sentences but are being held for lack of housing. If passed, the state would save about $4.6-Million.

Police were called to Peru Central School after a student allegedly brought a BB Gun to school. The 13-year-old boy has been charged with unlawful possession of a weapon. Authorities say the boy never used the gun, never displayed it and never threatened to hurt anyone. Police and school officials are still investigating the incident.

The Vermont Milk Company has been auctioned off. The Vermont Milk Company opened its doors in 2006 after a group of frustrated dairy farmers banded together, left their co-ops, and started their own business. The plant paid farmers a premium price for their milk. In addition to the sale of the plant itself, more than 160 items from inside the plant were also auctioned off.

As state authorities investigate whether Burlington officials misled regulators about the city-owned Burlington Telecom, City Council members have their own questions. Two council members are questioning city administrators about the transfer of $17 million in city money to the telecom operation.

Officials at Small Dog Electronics say their Web site was hacked in February, during a Haiti earthquake donation drive. Twelve hundred people had their credit card information stolen. Small Dog has already contacted all 1,200 people who were compromised. They've also hired two auditing companies and installed a new, more secure server.

The Vermont House has approved legislation calling for mediation between mortgage lenders and homeowners before a foreclosure occurs. Backers of the bill say it's often cheaper for banks to renegotiate a mortgage at a lower monthly payment than foreclosing, taking possession of the property and trying to resell it.

A Vermont teen will be arraigned on a charge of second degree murder today following the death of a one-year-old girl. Police say 19-year-old Alexander Stolte, was babysitting his girlfriend's daughter Kyleigh McDaniel at home in Chelsea Wednesday night when he killed the child. The medical examiner says the baby suffered multiple blunt impacts to the head.

Jurors in the drug trial of a local business man say they can’t get a unanimous verdict. Stephen Giroux, the former owner of Champy’s Car Wash, is on trail for cocaine charges. Yesterday, the 12-member jury said they were unable to reach a unanimous decision. The judge in the case has asked them to work toward a verdict. Jurors return today to continue deliberations.

North Country Community College is adding 4 new degree programs. The school is also asking the state for permission to provide weekend classes for students wishing to become nurses. Students can earn degrees in solar-energy fields, fine arts, paramedics and environmental science.

It’s a big weekend for UVM sports. This afternoon at 5 PM, the University of Vermont Men’s Hockey team will skate against Boston College in the Hockey East Semifinals. Tonight at 9:30, the Men’s Basketball Team will take on the Syracuse in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. And Sunday afternoon, the Women’s Basketball team will play against Wisconsin in the Woman’s NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Just in time for spring and the arrival of warmer weather, the Rutland Ben & Jerry's scoop shop is reopening at a new location, 219 Woodstock Ave. Owner Sarah Decandio was forced to move the scoop shop when her lease expired at the Trolley Square location late last year. Aubuchon Hardware is the new Trolley Square tenant. Now in the Great Outdoors Trading Co. complex on Woodstock Avenue, Ben & Jerry's is set to reopen at 11 a.m. today.

And in more Ice Cream news the owner of a popular ice cream shop in Ticonderoga, N.Y., plans to rebuild. The Wind-Chill Factory on Route 9N burned down last week. Investigators say a heater is to blame for the blaze. The owner is not sure when the ice cream shop will reopen.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 18, 2010

The Vermont Legislature is considering a bill that would ban hospital advertising as one way to control health care costs. Middlebury Representative Steve Maier says Vermont hospitals spend an estimated $10 million a year on advertising and marketing. The ban would not prevent hospitals from advertising to fill job openings.

A Rutland man will serve 35 years to life in prison for a stabbing death that was captured on surveillance video. 25-year-old Jonathan Bruno was sentenced yesterday in Vermont District Court in Rutland for the 2007 stabbing death of 24-year-old John Baptie in the parking lot of a Rutland store. The stabbing was supposedly over a $40 drug debt.

A 16 acre piece of property in the town of Ferrisburgh could become the sight of one of the largest solar energy facilities in the state of Vermont and the Northeast. The project would be built on the corner of Route 7 and Monkton road. About 4,000 solar panels would be put in the ground, creating power that Green Mountain Power can distribute to more than 160 homes.

A Vermont National Guard brigade is fully in place in eastern Afghanistan. A Guard spokesman says the final contingent of solders in the 1,500 member deployment arrived in the country Monday. Most members of the 86th Brigade have already begun carrying out their on-the-ground missions.

A Plattsburgh man has filed a $5 million lawsuit against Clinton County, the City of Plattsburgh, local prosecutors and police. 43-year-old Dwane Clay says he was arrested without probable cause following a stabbing outside of nightclub in 2007. He also alleges that authorities threatened him with physical harm and decades of incarceration if he didn’t admit to the crime.

The man who was convicted of murdered a 21-year-old UVM college student in 2006 is hoping to have his life sentence overturned. Lawyers representing Brian Rooney say their client didn’t get a fair trial. They say the state relied heavily on DNA evidence and the labs were sloppy with the small samples. The court could issue a ruling in the case sometime this summer.

There's a new way for Vermonters to access state services. People can now apply online for food, fuel and health insurance help, and also use the computer to track the progress of their benefits. The new website is -- MyBenefits.VT.GOV. While some services are working now, the rest will be up and running this June.

The Vermont Health Department is kicking off a new campaign to deter teen alcohol use. And this time it's taking a different approach; not targeting kids, but their parents. The “Parent Up Campaign” aims to give parents of middle schoolers the tools to start conversations about alcohol use and set policies in their homes.

There’s a new restaurant in the area. Michele's Fine Dining opened last week off of US Avenue in Plattsburgh. The owner, Howard Fleisher, is a certified chef from Canada. He said the menu is completely different from anything in town.

It’s a sign that spring has officially sprung in downtown Burlington … the Beansie Bus has opened for season. Beansie's opened in its familiar spot on the edge of Battery Park, serving up fries, burgers, and more. Bus owner Bill Peters says he thinks this is the earliest he’s ever opened. Peter’s hopes this is not a tease and the good weather is here to stay.

Governor David Paterson's press secretary has become the 4th top person to quit the governor’s administration. Press secretary Marissa Shorenstein said she resigned after two years because she could no longer do her job because of the abuse scandal. Paterson has insisted throughout the resignations and calls for his own that he did nothing wrong.

A Craftsbury student has won Vermont's statewide spelling bee with the correct spelling of ornithoscopy. Mael Le Souezec beat 46 other kids on Wednesday to go on to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington in June. He outlasted Taylor Marquis of Missisquoi Valley Union High School and third place, Abigail Postlewaite of Charlotte Central School. The contest was sponsored by the state Department of Education, Vermont Principals' Association, Vermont Humanities Council and the Burlington Free Press.

A man from Grand Isle says he's found a rock with the image of Michael Jackson on it. Daniel Larrow makes walking sticks in his home and often walks along the nearby shore of Lake Champlain. He says he likes to look for rocks which may have images on them. Larrow says that's what he was doing last June when he found one particular rock with the likeness of the late King of Pop, adding even most of his friends agree with his interpretation. Larrow now plans to put the stone up for sale on eBay.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 17, 2010

The residents of Port Henry have voted to stay Port Henry. Voters went to the polls yesterday answering the question as to whether or no the Village of Port Henry should dissolve. The 186 to 146 vote means the Village of Port Henry will remain as a municipality and the issue of dissolution cannot be brought back for another vote for two years.

The Vermont Department of Education is apologizing for putting two schools in our area on the list of "persistently low achieving schools". The department says a calculation error put both Otter Valley Union High School and Bridport Elementary School on the list. Instead, the list now includes the St. Johnsbury School and Lamoille Union High School.

The Vermont House has passed a bill containing a number of new driving laws. The bill mandates the use of hands-free cell phones while driving, banning texting and putting a curfew on young drivers. The bill also includes a primary seatbelt law. The bill now moves on to the Senate were they have approved a ban on texting while driving but none of the other provisions.

New Yorkers have a new tool for tracking sex offenders in their communities. A state system, set up under a law passed last year, lets residents sign up for alerts by phone, e-mail, text message or fax, when moderate and high-risk sex offenders move into or out of their town. The alerts are carried out by the State Emergency Management Services system.

The Hinesburg Selectboard voted unanimously to dismiss Police Chief Chris Morrell. A lengthy arbitration report concludes the chief refused to accept or put into place a second supervisory position that the Selectboard approved four years ago. The termination ended nearly a year of legal moves, including the chief being suspended from his duties. He was put on paid leave in April last year due to performance and low morale issues. That leave was changed to unpaid last September. Morrell has served as chief of Hinesburg police since 1994. Deputy Chief Fred Silber is currently running the department.

Governor David Paterson has temporarily halted income tax refund checks. The last round of refund checks were sent out last Friday. No more are scheduled to be sent until April 1. Budget officials say approximately $500 million is being delayed in order to get the state through the cash flow crunch.

Milk prices for farmers are falling again and Vermont is joining with other states in the Northeast to ask for help from the federal government. Farmers now get about $15 dollars for pounds of milk. The break-even point is about $18. Last year, 50 farms went out of business in Vermont. The price supports they’re looking for could help stabilize falling milk prices.

Burton snowboards will no longer be made in Vermont. The company says it is closing its manufacturing facility in South Burlington because of the high cost of doing business in the state. 43 jobs are at stake as Burton moves all of its snowboard manufacturing overseas to Austria. The research and development will move to the headquarters in Burlington.

New York State Police say a Saranac High School student has been expelled and put in a local hospital's mental health unit after planning an attack at the school. The student, whose name has not been released, made remarks to a number of other students about the attack. Authorities are still investigating the incident.

The ACLU of Vermont is suing the state after unsuccessfully seeking to find out whether police agencies are using cell phone tracking technology to keep tabs on people's whereabouts. The state Attorney General refused public records requests by the ACLU seeking information about the practice, saying that information is exempt from public records statutes.

In an effort to save taxpayers money and adjust to a declining inmate population, the Department of Corrections will be shutting down 22 housing units located in 17 prisons around the state. Some of the housing units being closed are at prisons in Malone, Altona, and Ray Brook. In the last decade, officials say, the inmate population has dropped almost 20 percent.

Vermont Senate leaders want to crack down on high fees and others costs imposed on small merchants by credit card companies. Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin joined three of his colleagues and merchants in announcing an amendment to a bill on credit card fees. The bill would allow merchants to set a minimum or maximum for credit card purchases and offer discounts for cash payments.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 16, 2010

Workers on the new Crown Point Bridge have re-discovered an army fort from 1731. It is uncertain if the archaeological re-discovery will affect plans for the new bridge. The foundation of a small 1731 French Fort was found near a standing pier of the old bridge on the Vermont shore. An 18th century map shows the fort, which was used from 1731 to 1759, exactly where it was found.

Vermont Emergency Management leaders want to you think about the threat of flooding at this time of year. They've teamed up with the National Weather Service to declare this week "Flood Safety Week". They say 9 of Vermont's 11 federally declared disasters involved flooding. State leaders urge you to have a plan in place if you're caught in a flood.

The Vermont Department of Education says the state has been chosen to be part of a pilot program that will provide supper for some children participating in after school programs. Vermont is one of 13 states and the District of Columbia to participate in the Area Eligible Afterschool Supper Pilot through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Officials at FairPoint Communications announced the company has had a break-thru in broadband service. FairPoint has completed a fiber-based network in Essex Junction and Milton and now offers what it calls super-fast Internet service. The company plans to roll out that service to dozens of other communities soon.

An outbreak of the mumps has hit Plattsburgh State. 3 cases of students with mumps have been confirmed so far, with 3 more pending. As a result, more than 200 students may not be able to return from spring break unless they are fully vaccinated. The Clinton County Health Department is holding a free mumps and MMR vaccination clinic tomorrow.

Real estate sales in Chittenden County are on the increase. Professionals say home prices have dropped 6 percent in the last year; and that drop has helped spur more home sales. Federal tax credits have also helped in getting the real-estate market moving. Home sellers have also been cutting deals to get their homes to sell before the deadlines.

The U.S. Air Force is planning to hold a hearing next month in South Burlington to discuss the possibility of the Vermont Air National Guard getting the new F-35 fighter jet. The F-35 is said to be noisier than the F-16s it is designed to replace. The Vermont Air National Guard base is one of five installations across the country being considered to host the F-35.

The Adirondack Regional Tourism Council has been told it will not receive almost $500,000 in funding that was included in the budget for this year. The money was part of a matching funds program that was in last year’s budget and supposed to be in this year’s too. Officials say the cut represents about half of their budget.

A former teacher has been arrested for the 4th time in a student sex case. John Buttura Jr. of Waterbury is charged with having a relationship with a 16-year-old student. The new charges accuse Buttura of contacted the girl after being ordered not to. The former Twinfield Union School teacher pled not guilty to the new charges yesterday.

Monday, March 15, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 15, 2010

Voters in Port Henry go to the polls and decide whether or not to be Port Henry tomorrow. Residents will be voting on a resolution to dissolve the village of Port Henry. If the resolution passes, its functions and property become the responsibility of the town of Moriah. The polls will be open tomorrow from noon to 9 PM at the Port Henry firehouse.

The Rutland Police Commission has decided that the Chief of Police will keep his job. Chief Tony Bossi has recently been under fire because he didn’t report an investigation into one of his officers that involved pornography. Bossi said that because the state police were conducting the investigation, and because the department was not under investigation, he did not report it.

A Vermont panel investigating ways to cut millions of dollars from education spending will hold the rest of its meetings in public. Members of the Challenges for Change Education Design Team decided last week to open their meetings after the Dover School Board sent a letter to the legislature arguing that a group that could recommend big changes in education should be doing its work in public.

Federal legislation that would consolidate student loans under a government program is causing worries in Vermont. That's because it would take student loans out of the private sector, and the nonprofit Vermont Student Assistance Corporation would lose most of its reason to exist. Advocates are lobbying for a program that would make an exception for nonprofits.

A Vermont House committee this week is set to approve legislation that would designate large-scale hydropower as renewable. Doing so is expected to enable Vermont utilities to import electricity from the provincial utility Hydro-Quebec at a discount. The House Natural Resources and Energy Committee is expected to advance the bill tomorrow.

The North Country is mourning the death of a leader who worked tirelessly to better the community as a legislator, educator and sportsman. Former Clinton County Legislator Melvin R. "Bob" Bruno passed away on Saturday at the age of 78.

Vermont Governor Jim Douglas says he's against a proposal to allow up to 5 dispensaries to be set up around the state for medical marijuana. Douglas, who won't say if he'll veto the legislation if it reaches his desk, says Vermont is already at odds with the federal government in allowing some medical patients to use the drug, he says the state shouldn't push the issue further.

A fatal accident in South Hero Saturday morning took the life of the driver. Police say a man was driving on West Shore Road when he lost control and crashed into a utility pole. The man, whose name has not been released, died from his injuries. A female passenger in the car was sent to the hospital with serious injuries. Alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.

The Vermont Supreme Court will make its annual trip to the Vermont Law School in South Royalton this week. The 5 justices will hear arguments in 7 cases at the law school on Wednesday, including an appeal connected to the murder of Michelle Gardner Quinn, a University of Vermont student who was killed in October 2006.

Maple Sugar makers across the state will be holding open houses later this month. On March 26 and 27, during the 9th Annual Maple Open House Weekend, people will be able to watch sap being boiled down into syrup and sample some fresh syrup and other maple products. Events will be different at each sugarhouse. Some will have special activities for children.

The UVM Catamounts (#16) will play Syracuse (#1) in the first round of the NCAA Men's Tournament on Friday in Buffalo. The winner will go on to face either Florida State or Gonzaga in the second round. The UVM Women's team, which also won a trip to the tournament, will learn their first round challenger Monday tonight.

Friday, March 12, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 12, 2010

Green Mountain Power and CVPS have signed a 26-year deal with Hydro-Quebec. The contract would take effect in 2012 and runs though 2038. The deal inked yesterday means the Canadian power producer will provide 1/3 of Vermont’s power and Vermont lawmakers will designate Hydro-Quebec's power as "renewable" energy.

Governor Jim Douglas has received Quebec’s Highest Honor. The Nation Order of Quebec is usually reserved for a resident of Quebec; in fact, Governor Douglas is the first American political to receive the honor. The award is presented to someone for outstanding achievement and action that support Quebec.

It's still winter, but the ground is very dry in some areas. And that's prompted a warning from firefighters. The trouble spots are areas without any snow, like spots in Vergennes. Firefighters from Vergennes and Ferrisbugh battled an out-of-control grass fire yesterday afternoon. Fire officials say a simple spark could lead to a major fire under these dry conditions.

Plattsburgh city councilors unanimously approved a tobacco-free policy for the City Beach, parks, and recreational areas. The ban, passed at last night’s meeting, would eliminate smoking in those public areas, which are highly traveled by families with children.

Nova Buss has received an order for 24 busses. The $10-Million order was placed by the city of Honolulu. The busses will be assembled at the Plattsburgh Plant. Delivery is expected by the end of the year. The contract also contains options for additional buses, but the company said the number and value has yet to be determined.

Burlington police are investigating two burglaries that took place yesterday. Police say the first break-in happened at Pure Pop Music, on South Winooski Avenue. The second burglary happened at Mirror Mirror on Main Street. The suspect is described as a white male with a large build. No other details are available at this time.

Vermont regulators told the U.S. EPA that they will not approve the dumping of 33,000 tons of soil from a Massachusetts Superfund site at the Moretown landfill. According to the EPA, the soil is a hazardous “substance” but not a hazardous “waste.” A spokesman for the EPA says the agency is seeking alternative sites to take the waste soil.

The Essex Alliance Church has gotten approval from the town of Williston to build a new church. The church would be built on 54 acres off Route 2A near Taft Corners. The plans call for a 100,000-square-foot building with a cafe and a bookstore. Planners still need state land-use and traffic permits, but hope to break ground in the fall and open in 2012.

The University of Vermont says it's dealing with more drunk students than ever before. UVM Police say they’ve taken more than 130 students into custody this year, which is more than all of last year. UVM police also say they are dealing with more drunk female students. Public drunkenness is a civil offense, not a criminal offense in Vermont.

A court has sided with Vermont authorities -- ruling that tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds' used deceptive and misleading ads to sell its Eclipse "reduced risk" cigarettes. Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell's office claimed the company's claims weren't backed up by scientific evidence.

Bird lovers take note: unless you want to tempt the bears, you might want to remove your feeders. That's the advice from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. The agency says bears are starting to leave their dens and after a long winter's hibernation, many of them are hungry and looking for food. Fish and Wildlife Colonel David LeCours says his agency is already receiving reports of bears eating from feeders. LeCours recommends that Vermonters take down their feeders until next fall.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 11, 2010

The Vermont Department of Education has released its list of "persistently low-achieving schools". The 10 schools on the list failed to make adequate progress on student assessment tests for the past several years. They have 4 options to qualify for improvement grants; close the school, reopen as a charter school, fire the principal and half the teachers, or submit a restructuring plan. The schools on the list are … Bridport Elementary School, Fair Haven High School, Johnson Elementary School, Mount Abraham Union High School, Northfield Elementary School, Otter Valley High School, Rutland High School, Windsor High School, Winooski High School and H.O. Wheeler Elementary.

Service at the Center Rutland Post Office will be suspended by the end of the month. Concerns about the condition of the building were cited as the top reason for closure in a letter customers received Wednesday from Cynthia Thurston, a manager of post office operations at the U.S. Postal Service. While the office is suspended delivery and retail services will be provided by a rural carrier to roadside mailboxes installed by customers effective April 1. Post office boxes will be moved and serviced at the West Rutland Post Office at no cost to customers.

Vermont utility officials say they're hopeful that can get new power purchase deals from Canadian utility Hydro-Quebec. The heads of Green Mountain Power and CVPS are visiting Canada this week as the companies try to wrap up more than a year of talks on new deals to replace contracts expiring over the next few years.

Hundreds of Vermont residents got a change to speak their minds about the possible school district consolidation plans. Their main concern is that it will force children to attend a specific public school and will eliminate the choice to attend independent schools. There are 3 bills now being discussed, 2 of them call for reducing the number of districts to 14 or 15.

A Canadian company hopes to place high-powered electric transmission lines under the entire length of Lake Champlain. Toronto-based T-D-I wants to use the buried line to carry cheaper power from the Canadian Maritimes to New England and New York City. The company says going underwater will have less impact on the environment than building new lines above ground.

Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch has proposed a 5-year plan to control state spending. The proposal includes borrowing up to $2 billion a year for the next three years. It also would create an independent financial review board. Ravitch says his proposal would eliminate the state’s projected deficits over the next 5 years, which could total $60 billion without action.

Burlington officials say despite a reduced credit rating the city is not in financial trouble. With Burlington Telecom unable to repay the city the 17-million dollars it borrowed, Moody’s Investor Service raised concerns about the city's fiscal health, and dropped its credit rating two notches. The city's Chief Administrative Officer says the city is having no trouble paying its bills.

Plattsburgh City Councilors voted on a tobacco-free policy last night. The policy means that smoking would not be allowed at the City Beach or any of the city’s public recreation areas. The city would also create designate areas, away from the public portions of the beach and parks, for people to smoke.

Vermont's jobless rate remained unchanged in January at 6.7 percent. State officials say the unemployment rate in the state has been on a slight decline since last May. Around the state, unemployment rates ranged from 5 percent in Hartford to 11 percent in Newport.

Williston Police were lead on a high speed chase early yesterday morning. Police say they tried to stop 54-year-old Susan Benjamin of Wolcott shortly after 1 AM yesterday morning. That's when she reportedly led police through South Burlington, Burlington, Williston, and Essex. Police had to deploy spike strips on Route 117 in order to stop Benjamin. She now faces a number of charges.

The Clinton County Health Department is offering a Rabies Clinic tonight from 6 to 8:30 at the Plattsburgh Public Works Building. The rabies clinic is for dogs, cats and ferrets and is free for Clinton County Residents. All pets must be at least 3 months old and must be on a leash or in a carrier to be admitted to the clinic.

Police have arrested a man for allegedly stealing $400 worth of fish from Noah’s Ark Pet Center in Colchester. The suspect, Robert Hintze, was identified by the store manager on a surveillance video. According to police, Hintze used the stores nets, bagged up the fish, and walked out the door on March 2 without paying. The fish were returned to the store, safe and sound, yesterday.

With St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, police are reminding residents to stay safe on the road after their holiday celebrations. The crackdown started Tuesday and will run through next Thursday, bringing sobriety checkpoints and increased patrols throughout area. Police suggest you plan ahead and arrange for other transportation from any party or holiday event.

The Vermont corrections department is encouraging crime victims to register with its new database. The Vermont Automated Notification Service, or VANS, keeps victims, their relatives, and others up-to-date on offenders. It provides recorded messages with information on when the offenders are due in court or when they've been released from prison. VANS launched last August. Since then, more than 1,700 Vermonters have signed up. For more information on signing up, you can call the VANS toll-free number at 1-866-976-VANS (8267) or visit

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 10, 2010

The Town Meeting Day Recess is over and Vermont Lawmakers are back at the capitol to tackle a number of key issues, the biggest being the budget. The state is facing a $150-Million deficit. To save money, lawmakers are looking at consolidating the state’s 260 school districts into 16 much larger districts. There will be a public hearing tonight from 5 to 8 at the statehouse to discuss the school district consolidation plans.

Voters in Hinesburg have approved a slight increase in the school budget. The proposed budget of over $7.6-Million was approved by voice vote Monday Night after an hour of questions and debate. The approved spending plan represents a 1 percent increase over this year’s budget.

Rutland's economy took a major hit last year, but business leaders are more optimistic about 2010. The 17th annual business expo had the biggest turnout ever Tuesday. The expo gives local companies, a chance to network with other businesses. Organizers say there's light at the end of the tunnel and businesses are taking advantage of every opportunity.

The Environmental Protection Agency is reconsidering its approval of the Lake Champlain clean-up plan. The EPA signed off on the state's plan in 2002, but paperwork filed Monday signals it does not think the state has made adequate progress in reducing pollution levels. Governor Douglas called the decision an insult to everyone who has worked to clean-up the lake. Douglas says more than $100 million has been spent on clean-up efforts.

The area's first four-year nursing degree program launches in the fall. Castleton State College already has a large stack of applications for the program, aimed at new and established nurses alike. The school has long offered a two-year associate's degree in nursing, but coordinator Kimberly Ratelle said nurses looking for further education have faced trips to University of Vermont, Southern Vermont College or Norwich.

An anti-nuke group is asking Vermont regulators to close Vermont Yankee now while it is dealing with a tritium leak. The Safe & Green Campaign wants the nuclear reactor in Vernon shut down till the source of the leak is found and repaired. A spokesman for Vermont Yankee says there’s no threat to public health or safety and therefore no reason to shut down now.

Doug Hoffman will once again take on Bill Owens for 23rd Congressional District seat. Bill Owens won the seat in a special election last year. Hoffman said his focus will be reining in government spending and reducing taxes on small business. Hoffman has formally announced that he will again try to win the congressional seat in New York’s 23rd District.

Teachers in the Franklin Central Supervisory Union have a tentative agreement on a new contract. Terms of the deal will not be released until it is ratified by the teachers. The district covers schools in St. Albans City and Fairfield.

A UVM faculty union claims the school pays its female professors less than their male colleagues. The United Academics union has filed a grievance, charging the school discriminated against five female assistant clinical professors. The dispute will be held Thursday by the state's Labor Relations Board.

Berlin Pond is at the center of a fight between Montpelier and a Barre man. Rick Barnett says he's gotten a state permit for an ice fishing derby late this month on the pond, which supplies Montpelier's drinking water. City officials say they'll defend the city's right to restrict public use of the pond.

A week after his boss left, the acting New York State Police Superintendent is also retiring. First Deputy Superintendent Pedro Perez is stepping down after 28 years, following Harry Corbitt, who left the top spot last week because of the scandal surrounding Governor Patterson. Perez says his departure has nothing to do with the attorney general's investigation.

One of Vermont's largest ski resorts has been hit with a hefty environmental fine. Mount Snow has agreed to pay $95,000 to settle a civil case brought by the Attorney General's Office. According to the state, the ski resort improperly handled and mismanaged hazardous materials in 2008. The state says the resort has since fixed the problems.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 9, 2010

Vermont's democratic primary for governor may be crowded, but there is still just one republican in the race, Lt. Governor Brian Dubie. Dubie continued his jobs tour Monday with a stop here in Middlebury. He met with area employers, getting their feedback on how to keep and retain jobs. He says the top things he's hearing from people in Middlebury are just as big everywhere else.

In a noontime rally Monday in Barre, Secretary of State Deb Markowitz told a crowd of about 80 supporters she’s in the governor’s race to win. Kicking off her statewide campaign Monday, the Montpelier resident is one of five Democrats seeking the party nomination. She talked about winning six straight elections since becoming secretary of state, and says that experience can help her with bringing jobs to Vermont, as well as saying it’s her managerial experience which sets her apart from the other Democrats running.

For the second month in a row Vermont state revenues have fallen short of the projections. Secretary of Administration Neale Lunderville says general fund revenues for February were nearly 18 percent short of the mark set by two consulting economists just a month earlier. This is raising concerns among state officials about the state's economy and fiscal outlook.

Two local men have hit the lottery. A man from Altona won almost $80-Thousand in the Take Five drawing held on February 27. And a self-employed general contractor from Ticonderoga is claiming a $5-Million prize from an instant game. The $5-million winner from Ticonderoga will be introduced at news conference later today.

The Community Health Center of Burlington will be offering from medical exams this Sunday from 8 AM to Noon. Volunteers and other professionals at the center also will provide free blood pressure tests and glucose screening along with a number of other services. To schedule one of the 100 appointments available that day, call the center by Friday.

Democratic leaders in the House and Senate say they are going to follow the will of the Burlington voters and approve the charter change repealing Instant Runoff Voting. When Burlington residents voted to repeal IRV, it still needed to go through one more step to become final. The legislature must approve any and all charter changes.

The U.S. Navy has another ship named after Montpelier native George Dewey for his service during the Spanish American War. The guided-missile destroyer, U.S.S. Dewey, was commissioned Saturday at the U.S. Naval Weapons Station at Seal Beach, California. This is the third Navel Vessel to carry his name.

The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum might be opening a branch in the former Moran Power Plant on the Burlington Waterfront. After the Green Mountain Children’s Museum pulled out of the project in November, the city started looking for a third tenant. City officials say the Maritime Museum would be the best fit. The main campus in Ferrisburgh would not be affected.

Burlington Telecom's outstanding debt is now affecting the City's credit rating. Moody's Investors services knocked Burlington's rating down two notches because of concerns over BT's inability to repay 17 million dollars in debt, which it borrowed from the city. If BT cannot repay the money, experts say the City may face long-term cash flow issues.

A South Burlington police office has filed a law suit against the Chittenden County Prosecutor. Police Officer Jack O'Connor claims T.J. Donovan spread rumors about O'Connor trying to ruin his reputation. O'Connor also says Donovan threatened to run the officer out of Chittenden County. Donovan denies having a vendetta against O'Connor.

Monday, March 8, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 8, 2010

Workers laid off from Monahan Filaments can apply for federal aid. The U.S. Department of Labor announced Friday that the former employees at Monahan had been declared eligible for "worker adjustment assistance." The program, part of the Trade Act of 1974, provides training and job placement services to workers whose jobs have been sent overseas. Monahan first said it would lay off roughly half its Vermont employees last year before it announced it would close its Middlebury plant entirely. The company, which makes filaments for products from toothbrushes to industrial brushes, also announced partnerships with Chinese and Indian companies.

Governor Jim Douglas be leading a delegation to Canada this week to discuss a bilateral relationship with Quebec. Douglas, along with Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie, and some business leaders will be meeting with Quebec government officials. Douglas says it's important for the state and province to build on their economic, trade, energy and environmental ties.

Police are still investigating a snowmobile accident in Dannemora that clamed the life of one of the riders. Police say 41-year-old Everett Willis of Brainardsville was involved in a collision and died at the scene. Police arrested another member of the group, 43-year-old Roger Wilcox, and charged him with operating a snowmobile under the influence of alcohol.

An early morning fire yesterday morning did moderate damage to a snack bar in Ticonderoga. Fire fighters were called to the Wind Chill Factory on Route 9N just after 1 am Sunday and found a fire burning in the back of the building. The snack bar was closed for the season. Fire fighters were able to put out the flames but say there is extensive damage inside the building.

The town of Vergennes has received a $500-thousand grant that will help with a much needed senior housing project. The grant brings the town one-step closer to fully-funding the 25-unit project. The total cost of the project is about $6 million. Project Managers say they expect to see the first residents move into their new homes in the Spring of 2011.

Experts say a 19th century painting that once hung on a wall in a committee room of the Vermont Statehouse could be worth $1.5 million. The painting called "The Quack Doctor" was created by Montpelier painter Thomas Waterman Wood. The painting has been moved to the legislative lounge, where it is less likely to be damaged accidentally.

A car accident Saturday Morning in Ferrisburgh sent four people to the hospital. Police say around 8 AM, Saturday Morning, the driver of a green Honda Civic hit another car after he fell asleep behind the wheel. The accident forced police to shut down a 3-mile stretch of Route 7 for about 2-hours.

Both Shaw’s and Hannaford’s have pulled a number of items off the shelves because they contain Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein. The FDA says the popular food flavoring additive may contain salmonella. Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein is included in more than 50 dips, soups, and snacks.

St. Albans was named one of the top 50 of America's best affordable suburbs by Bloomberg Business Week in a survey published last week. Despite the down economy, Vermonters looking to buy real estate turn to St. Albans as an option due to its proximity to Burlington. St. Albans also scored high points for a low unemployment rate of 6.8 percent.

Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz is officially kicking of her campaign for governor. The Democrat will hold a noon-time rally today at the Barre Auditorium. Markowitz is one of 5 Democrats seeking the party nomination ... to run for the seat being vacated by Governor Jim Douglas.

The Rutland Herald is legally challenging a City Hall decision to deny access to some records related to computer pornography investigations at the Rutland Police Department and Department of Public Works. In a five-page complaint prepared Friday, Burlington attorney Robert Hemley argues that the newspaper and the public should have access to disciplinary records regarding employees punished for looking at Internet pornography while at work. The complaint, expected to arrive at Rutland Superior Court today, follows on the heels of a records request submitted by the newspaper in February.

Friday, March 5, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 5, 2010

Links to suspected child pornography files found on a Vermont Police Academy trainer's computer in January show they were imported from a portable device plugged into David McMullen's computer, according to an affidavit attached to a newly released state police search warrant. The warrant, returned to Middlebury District Court on Thursday, was executed almost two months ago at McMullen's home in Cornwall. State police have said that hours after police searched the home on Jan. 15, McMullen shot and killed himself on the academy's Pittsford grounds.

Hundreds of Vermont troops, still training in Indiana, will be going to Afghanistan within the next 10 days. The troops, that are still in Indiana, had to stay longer because the transport planes were diverted to Haiti to help with relief efforts. As for the mission change to combat duty from training roles, Vermont's Guard commander says his men and women are ready.

Another member of Governor David Paterson’s team has resigned. Communications Director Peter Kauffmann is the third person to leave the Paterson administration in two weeks. Kauffmann says he cannot continue in the administration plagued by the scandals that threaten the jobs of Paterson and those he directed.

Due to cuts in state-aid and soaring costs, a number of schools in our area are looking at cutting staff and programs in order to keep budgets down. Salmon River Central School may cut 41, Peru Central School may let go 25, and Tupper Lake Central School might have to say goodbye to 32 positions. School officials say they don’t feel right in asking taxpayers to foot the bill.

Vermont's "Cash for Appliances" rebate program starts on Saturday. People turning in old refrigerators and washing machines are eligible for up to $200 in rebates if they purchase Energy Star efficient appliances. Vermont was allotted about $600,000. That means when the money runs out, so does the program.

The Douglas Administration and the Vermont State Police Officers Union have reached a deal on a new contract. The one-year contract includes a pay freeze and a number of other cuts which equal the 3 percent cut that other state employees are taking. The concessions will save the state almost 1-Million Dollars.

Vermont lawmakers have scheduled a final vote for next week on a bill that would grant anonymity to donors who give to the University of Vermont or other public colleges. The confidentiality exemption --- which is only for those who seek it --- wouldn't be available if within 3 years of making the gift, the person does more than $10,000 worth of business with the school.

It looks like it could get more expensive for students at Plattsburgh State to live on campus. As part of the renovation plans for the PSU dorms, room rates for standard double rooms are likely to rise an additional $125 per semester. The prices are expected to go up for each dorm as each one is renovated, starting next fall.

The Vermont Department of Health said its efforts against the H1N1 outbreak were a success but it's still asking people to take precautions. Nearly a third of the state was vaccinated this season. During the outbreak, 149 people were hospitalized with a flu-like illness. Health officials say the peak flu season maybe over but they will continue to monitor flu activity throughout the summer.

Spring may be a couple weeks away but some Maple Sugar Makers are getting an early jump on the season. With the warmer days and cooler nights, the sap has started to run, and that has sugar makers starting to collect and boil the season’s first run of syrup.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 4, 2010

Despite hard economic times, Vermont voters are giving the thumbs-up to school budgets, even those with significant tax increases. The Vermont Superintendent's Association reports that 230 budgets passed, only 14 were defeated on Town Meeting Day.

Voters in the Moriah Central School District passed a $10 million school improvement project yesterday. The vote was 405 to 150. The capital project will cost local taxpayers nothing. 100-percent of the project is being paid for with state funds. The new project will replace the school roof and heating boilers and renovate the school swimming pool.

Central Vermont Public Service Corp. spent an estimated $4 million cleaning up after storms last week. Snow Tuesday and wind Thursday knocked out power to 66,000 customers, getting more than a third of them twice for a total of more than 91,000 outages. The last was repaired Sunday evening, according to the company, and the longest anyone was without power was about 80 hours.

The scandal surrounding Governor David Paterson is getting worse. An ethics panel has charged Paterson with a violation for accepting free Yankees' tickets for last year's World Series. This on top of accusations he interfered with a domestic violence case involving one of his former top aides.

With Colchester's Camp Johnson as the backdrop, Governor Jim Douglas has signed into the Military Parent Protection Act. The bill allows for temporary custody orders while a parent is deployed; and a return to a pre-deployment arrangement when they return from duty. The new law takes effect immediately.

Town Meeting Day voters in Rutland passed term limits. By a 2-to-1 margin, city residents approved adding a 10-year term limit for the mayor and members of the Board of Aldermen. Supporters say change is good every few years to keep fresh ideas at City Hall. Two members currently on the Board of Aldermen have served for longer than 10 years.

The Chittenden County prosecutor says he won't file criminal charges against a Bristol police officer who handcuffed a woman to a wall outside the South Burlington jail. The officer handcuffed her to a wall in an unheated garage for about 30 minutes while he went outside to call his department to ask what to do because the jail refused to take her.

A federal judge says a 28-year-old Starksboro man accused of being the "hired muscle" for a crack cocaine ring in should remain in custody while he awaits trial. Judge William Sessions III issued the ruling after a woman who had agreed to take in David M. Dean changed her mind. Dean is among 20 people charged with being part of a drug ring broken up last month.

For the thousands of people living in communities around the Burlington Airport, it's going to be a quieter-than-usual summer. That's because the eight-thousand-foot runway will be undergoing its once-in-a-decade resurfacing project. Much of the work will be done overnight, meaning the airport shuts down during that time, starting in early June. As for the Vermont Air National Guard F-16 fighter jets stationed there, most will take off in May for training in Idaho and later in New Hampshire. Those jets will be gone through the summer, and are not scheduled to return until after Labor Day. Instead, most of the summer training will be out of Pease Air National Guard Base near Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

More than a dozen foodmakers have been put on notice by the FDA to check nutritional claims made on food labels. Among the companies receiving warning letters were baby food makers Gerber and Beech-Nut. The FDA cites labels that claim baby foods are "Healthy as Fresh," an "Excellent Source of Vitamin A" and have "No Added Sugar." While not saying the statements are wrong, the agency said regulations don't allow the claims for products specifically intended for children under two years of age. Warning letters were also sent to Diamond Foods related to health claims made for omega-3 fatty acids found in the company's walnut snacks. Spectrum Organic Products received a letter citing labeling of its vegetable shortening. Even Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream came in for scrutiny. The Food and Drug Administration is getting ready to press for new package labeling to make it simpler for ordinary people to understand the nutritional content of food. The full list of companies that received warning letters from the FDA is posted on the agency's website

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 3, 2010

Towns across Vermont took up the issue of Vermont Yankee during Town Meeting Day. Even though it was a non-binding vote, residents said they don’t want to see the nuclear power plant re-licensed for another 20-years. 16 towns passed the resolution this Town Meeting Day. 3 voted no. And 4 voted to table the measure.

Gov. Jim Douglas is stepping down as governor this year, but not as moderator of Middlebury’s town meeting. Douglas, who has presided over Middlebury’s town meeting for 23 years, was elected to the post for another year at town meeting Tuesday. It wasn’t close: He received 531 votes and was unopposed. Elsewhere, turnout was down around Addison County, but communities mostly supported passage of town and school budgets. In a nod to economic hard times, Vergennes voters agreed to allow residents a 15-day grace period for paying sewer and property taxes by a 295-49 margin. The grace period means those who pay their tax or sewer bill less than 15 days after the due date will avoid the 1 percent late fee they otherwise would have had to pay. Ferrisburgh voters agreed to put $62,000 left over from revenue collected by the town in the last year in a reserve fund for a new town garage the community hopes to build in two or three years.


• Proposed town budget: $5,571,874 (to be raised in taxes), up 2.7 percent, passed.

• Selectboard: Two candidates for three, three-year terms: Nick Artim (574), Janelle Ashley (557), incumbents, and Travis Forbes (89) elected to three-year terms, defeating Brian Bauer (86).

• Items: Voters agreed, 532-223 to phase out the business personal property tax over six years, rejected adding $5,000 to budget for Humane Society; agreed to add $1,500 to budget for Addison County Readers, a program to encourage reading by younger children.

Vergennes voted in favor of district consolidation with neighbors. Vergennes school budget passed.

Ferrisburgh also voted in favor of school district consolidation, joining Vergennes. Ferrisburgh passed the school budget as well.

The Charlotte Central School budget was defeated.

Voters approved the municipal budget of by voice vote after passing an amendment.

Ripton school budget passed on a voice vote.

Shelburne school budget passes 890-791. 

Shelburne also OK'd money for new school bus.

Town budget passed.

Bond for fire truck also was approved.

Shoreham approved school budget 69-38. 

The Champlain Valley Union High School budget passed, 3,084-2,144.

The Clinton County Sheriff's Department says someone has been making phone calls asking for money. The caller identifies himself as "Ryan," and he asks for donations for an annual fundraiser for the Clinton County Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff’s Department says they are not currently doing any fundraising. They also remind people to keep their personal information private.

IRV or Instant Run-Off Voting has been repealed by the voters of Burlington. This means the mayor in Burlington will go back to being elected under the old system in which a candidate only needs 40 percent of the votes to win. The measure to repeal IRV passed by only 303 votes.

Olympians from Vermont were honored in Washington, D.C. Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders took time yesterday, on the Senate floor, to congratulate more than a dozen people from the Green Mountain State who participated in the Vancouver games. Leahy said, "They’ve been great ambassadors for the United States.”

The Tupper Lake Central School District may have to cut nearly 3 dozen positions. That's about a quarter of the district's instructors. School officials say the layoffs are necessary to avoid a 33 percent increase in the tax levy. The cuts would save a half million dollars and would be divided amongst all of the district's schools.

In Stowe, voters agreed with the town auditors. The town's three auditors had recommended that their positions be eliminated. They say the work they've been doing can be done by the Select Board staff and the town's external auditors. Voters in Stowe agreed. The three positions were eliminated, a move that will save the town money.

New York State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt is abruptly retiring effective Wednesday amid a domestic violence scandal threatening Governor David Paterson. Corbitt announced his retirement yesterday and says intense media scrutiny played a role in his decision. He is the second law enforcement official claimed by the scandal.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

WVTK Local & State News March 2, 2010

Today is Town Meeting Day in Vermont and many school districts this year are either proposing smaller budgets or only modest increases. For the first time in decades, school spending will actually decline this year if every budget passes by point 1 percent. Some 135 districts statewide are looking to decrease school spending-- 45 more than last year. Get the complete list of polling places and times for Addison & Rutland Counties on the Area Calendar Page.

The latest round of layoffs at Pfizer now has over 200 people looking for a new job. The layoffs include 115 employees at the Rouses Point Plant and 86 at the Chazy Research Facility. Pfizer officials say once the facilities in Plattsburgh, Chazy and Rouses Point are closed, a total of 645 employees will be out of work.

Vermont business owners will get another break on workers' compensation insurance. The new rates that will take effect April 1 will mark the fourth consecutive year in which rates have decreased. The rate changes vary by industry. Governor Jim Douglas says the decreased rates would not be possible without employers' continued attention to the need for workplace safety.

An economic-impact report prepared for the Essex County Board of Supervisors says the Moriah Shock Incarceration Facility pumps about $8 million a year into the local economy. Board members are taking the new report with them to Albany to meet with area legislators over the proposed closure of the shock camp.

Police in Essex are looking for the person responsible for firing a stray bullet that entered a home early Sunday morning. Police say they believe the person was trying to shoot a deer. While only one person was at the Curve Hill Road home at the time, no one was injured. Essex officials are asking anyone with information about the incident to contact them.

About 280,000 Vermont adults – nearly 60 percent – are overweight or obese. This has prompting the state Health Department and the Attorney General's office to jumpstart efforts to encourage people to exercise and improve their daily diets. This follows the Attorney General's past health-related initiatives on senior issues, lead in the environment and anti-tobacco efforts.

IRV or Instant Run-Off Voting goes before the voters in Burlington today. IRV asks voters to rank the candidates instead of voting for just one. Mayor Bob Kiss was re-elected last year using the IRV system after not getting a 50% majority when the votes were first counted. Voters will decide today whether or not Burlington continues using the voting system.

34 Senior Centers across the state will receive $500,000 in grant money. Senator Bernie Sanders made the announcement yesterday. He says that money will go a long way. Most of the money will go toward Meals on Wheels programs which are just one of the vital programs centers provide, often on a cash strapped budget.

A soldier from Tupper Lake is recovering after being injured in Afghanistan. 24-year-old Bergan Flannigan was inspecting a motorcycle with a trailer attached to it last week, when someone detonated a bomb. The Army First Lieutenant lost her right leg in the blast. Flannigan is receiving treatment at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

A sure sign of spring is the blossoming of flowers, and some hope is budding along with bunches and bunches of bright yellow daffodils being sold by the American Cancer Society. Daffodil Days is an annual fundraiser, which usually brings in about 160-thosuand dollars which stays in Vermont, with 81 cents of every dollar going directly to patient care and research. Flowers can be ordered from now until Friday, March fifth. The daffodils will be delivered the week of March 15th.