Friday, April 30, 2010

WVTK Local & State News April 30, 2010

The New York State Department of Transportation will be hosting a public informational meeting regarding the status of the Lake Champlain Bridge. Key topics will include an update on the design of the new bridge, current debris clean up, and commemoration of the old bridge. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 11th, at 6:30 PM at the Addison Central School.

Vergennes Union Elementary School officials are looking at spending up to $200,000 this summer to replace one of the school’s boilers and build a new roof on one section of the East Street building. The School has $125,000 set aside in a capital fund including $15,000 in its recently approved budget to help pay for the work.

Charlotte Residents will once again try to pass a school budget for next year on May 18. Until then, officials have some work to do on trimming the budget. Another work session is planned for Monday Night at 7 at which they expect to vote on the budget that will be presented. A public hearing on the new proposed budget will take place on May 13 at 7 PM.

The Vermont House voted unanimously to join 47 other states that use ignition interlocks to help stop drunken drivers. Lawmakers say they want to provide an alternative to the traditional 90-day license suspension for first-time offenders. A similar bill has already passed the Senate. Governor Jim Douglas hopes both the House and Senate can come to a compromise soon.

Dairy farmers across the region are facing a tough decision. Its spring time and time to start thinking about planting crops so that they will have enough feed for the winter. Cash strapped farmers are finding it hard to come up with the money for seeds and fertilizer. To help, the state is offering nearly a million dollars in low-interest loans to farmers for spring planting.

Vermont's cleanup plan for Lake Champlain may be in jeopardy. The EPA is withdrawing its approval of the plan-- suggesting the state may need to do more to clean up the lake. Officials will spend the next four months reviewing more recent scientific data to determine whether additional pollution controls are needed.

School and town officials in Starksboro are considering a plan to install a 150-kilowatt solar array in the town before the expiration of generous state and federal tax credits. The selectboard and the Robinson Elementary School board are jointly considering the possible solar array, which officials hope could supply town and school buildings with renewable energy while locking in electricity costs for both groups.

Middlebury College’s library will finally get a name but officials aren’t saying what that name will be. Since it opened in 2004, the library has been known as the “new” or “main” library. But at a ceremony next Thursday (May 6) evening, the college will introduce the longtime college alumnus and supporter for whom the library will be named.

A retired hospital vice president has been selected to take the reins of leadership of the Rutland Police Commission. Mayor Christopher Louras has chosen 66-year-old Larry Jensen to fill both an empty seat and the chairman's post on the five-member commission charged with overseeing the Police Department.

Rutland Town plans to pave 14 streets this summer, including McKinley Avenue and a portion of Town Line Road, where they'll use a cold mix instead of hot mix to save some money. Four contractors put in bids for the project and the job went to Fuller Sand & Gravel after a unanimous vote by the Select Board.

Some state lawmakers want to see restrictions put on how far Vermont's executive branch can go in monitoring state workers' Web usage. While one lawmaker calls such snooping an insult to state employees, the state's human resources chief says taxpayers have an interest in seeing that state workers use their time at work effectively.

A house in West Chezy is completely destroyed after catching on fire twice in 12 hours. The owner left the house on Wednesday because there was no power. Authorities suspect the first fire started once the power was restored. Fire fighter were called back to the house a few hours later to find it once again, engulfed in flames. The cause of both fires is still being investigated.

The U.S. Department of Labor's latest statistics reveal Burlington has the lowest unemployment rate in New England. The jobless rate for the city in March was 6 percent, down from 6.9-percent a year ago. It's not only the lowest unemployment rate in the 6-state region, but also the 20th-lowest rate among the 372 metropolitan markets measured by the Feds.

Vermont's Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is hoping to add 10,000-square feet of office space in Williston. On Monday the Williston Selectboard will consider a request to expand at the Marshall Avenue warehouse. In December, the company was authorized to receive almost $300,000 in job creation incentives from the state for expanding its facilities in Chittenden County.

This weekend marks the 40th anniversary of Green Up Day-- the annual effort to clean up Vermont. It started back in 1970. Communities across the state will be hosting drop-off locations for any trash you pick up as well as other activities. You can check with your Town Clerk to find out what's taking place in your community.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

WVTK Local & State News April 29, 2010

The former police chief of Vergennes will be spending six months in prison. Mike Lowe was sentenced yesterday after pleading guilty earlier this month to DUI, prescription fraud and neglecting his duties. Probation will follow Lowe's six-month sentence. His attorney is asking for the sentence to be spent on a work camp.

Porter Hospital is getting some money from the state to cover losses during the Champlain Bridge closure. When the bridge closed, employees had to travel long distances to get to work. The hospital decided to reimburse employees that cost, which was about $10 a day for mileage. The state budget bill sets aside $40,000 for Porter, which is the total spent during the time the Champlain Bridge was closed.

Thousands of electric customers are still without power across northern New York and Vermont after a record setting snowstorm dropped two feet of snow in some areas. There are still over 4,000 customers in the dark. The majority of them are Vermont Electric Cooperative Customers. Officials say the power should be restored to just about everyone by tonight.

Killington Town officials faced some harsh opposition to a proposed $900,000 land purchase during a recent informational meeting on the former Fireside Lodge property. The public will vote on two questions at the polls Tuesday: whether to purchase the 37-acre property, located on Killington Road across from the Grist Mill Restaurant, and how to fund it. At a meeting Monday, some residents expressed their concern about what the land will be used for and if they will be asked for money out of their pockets in the future for further development on the property.

Rutland will sponsor an informational meeting at 6 p.m. on May 12 at Rutland Regional Medical Center's Leahy Conference Center to help educate the property owners around Moon Brook Watershed about how they may be affected by new state storm water rules and regulations. The changes in law with which the watershed and, eventually, the entire municipality will be expected to comply arise largely from Moon Brook's designation as a storm water impaired waterway.

Democrats and Gov. Jim Douglas may be close to reaching a deal on how to fix the state's unemployment insurance trust fund. The governor and House and Senate leaders met several times yesterday. Because of the recession, the state has to borrow $4 million a week from the federal government to pay benefits. Both sides are trying to figure out the right balance between having employers pay more or having laid off workers get less.

New York Gov. David Paterson is asking the Legislature to pass his spending proposal or start working a full, 5-day week to craft and pass a state budget, now nearly a month overdue. Paterson is also asking the Legislature to approve a 1-day furlough for 100,000 state workers every week as the state continues to function on two-week emergency spending appropriations.

A Plattsburgh State student has been charged with filing a false report after telling police she was attacked by 3 men on the path behind Wilson Hall. The student, whose name has not been released, is being charged with a misdemeanor for filing a false report. She also faces judicial charges from the University.

The Vermont Senate has OK'd a resolution asking Washington to drop its threat to penalize states that want to lower their drinking age. Supporters of the proposal to lower the drinking age to 18 say having the threat of loosing federal highway money removed would allow the state government to have a proper debate on the issue.

The Essex Town Post Office will stay open. The U.S. Postal Service had considered selling the post office on Essex Way and transfer the operations to the Essex Junction Post Office on Pearl Street. Selling the property would have generated some revenue for the Postal Service. The property is worth $2.5 million dollars.

A New York man has pled guilty to charges stemming from a plan to rob a bank in Jericho last year. 20-year-old Shane DiRisio of Weedsport pled guilty to having a stolen gun. In exchange for his plea, authorities dropped the charges of conspiring to commit armed bank robbery. Police say DiRisio and 24-year-old Daniel Shinosky of Jericho planned to rob the Merchants Bank.

Senate lawmakers approved a bill setting tough penalties for Vermont slaughterhouses that abuse or mistreat animals, a reaction to last year's scandal at a Grand Isle facility. Under the proposed new rules, slaughterhouses could face fines for mistreating animals and a facility would be permanently shut down by the state if they are found in violation more than two times.

Three Democrats running for governor of Vermont took their campaigns to a forum at Barre Town Middle and Elementary School. Matt Dunne, Peter Shumlin and Doug Racine answered questions posed by seventh- and eighth-grade students about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, the cost of higher education and other topics.

A Vermont hiker has been rescued in Jericho after becoming lost on the Long Trail in the snowstorm. State Police say 19-year-old Dylan Sunderland of Burlington started hiking from the Underhill State Park on Monday and planned to camp for two nights at two different camp locations along the trail. Searchers found him at 12 p.m. yesterday near the Ethan Allen Firing Range in Jericho. Police say he is in good condition although he had become ill after falling into a brook.

The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant has dropped its effort to bar a documentary filmmaker from bringing his camera along on a tour of the plant with the state Public Service Board. The filmmaker has been working on a film about the debate over relicensing the plant.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

WVTK Local & State News April 28, 2010

The National Weather Service continues its WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY THROUGH 11 AM. Weather Channel Meteorologist Ray Stagich Says Snow Mixing with Rain Today – High 40.

A spring storm in northern New York and New England has dumped more than a foot of snow in some areas. Some of the heaviest-hit places are in Vermont. The National Weather Service says North Underhill received more than 13 inches of snow as of early this morning and Jericho had 12 inches.

The Ticonderoga Ferry opens for the season today. Starting today, the cable ferry will cross Lake Champlain between Ticonderoga and Shoreham. The Ti Ferry will run from 8 AM to 6 PM daily till July when the hours are extended to 7 PM.

The Marble Valley Regional Transit District (The Bus) announced that Winter Shuttle passes and coupons expire on Friday. The Summer Shuttle passes are now available for $150 and can be used on the Rutland Killington Commuter; Route 103 (Ludlow); Route 7 South (Manchester); Route 4 West (Fair Haven/Castleton/Poultney); and The Connector to Middlebury. Schedules are available at

The Vermont Senate has approved a $4.7-Billion budget for the next fiscal year, which begins in July. The budget includes over $3-Billion in federal funds funneled though state agencies. Lawmakers aren't done yet, they still need to find $38-Million in savings through the Challenges for Change Program. Lawmakers hope to decide on all the cuts before they go home for the season.

New York lawmakers say state budget talks are going "nowhere." The now-late budget was due on April 1, but with the state facing a $9.2 billion deficit lawmakers and Gov. David Paterson haven't been able to reach a compromise. Now there's a new hurdle. Assembly Democrats want to borrow up to $2 billion to cover the budget, but Senate Democrats are ruling out more borrowing. Paterson has indicated that he's also against more borrowing.

A coalition of lawmakers, medical specialists and the New York Organ Donor Network are pushing legislation to make it easier to be an organ donor in New York. The legislation would make New York the first state to automatically enroll all driver's license applicants as potential organ donors unless they indicate otherwise. Currently people have to actively choose to be a donor.

The vision for generating four-season tourism in Killington has expanded to include small grants for local businesses and an online one-stop-shop for information and reservations. A matching grant program and online booking on an updated are two of many new economic drivers being revealed over the next month.

Plattsburgh State University officials are warning student to be on alert after a female student was attacked by 3 men. According to University Police, the victim said one of them held her down while the others went through the contents of her backpack on the path behind Wilson Hall. The victim also said the attackers fled without taking anything.

After 8 hours of deliberations, a Burlington Jury has found a mom and her husband guilty of sexually abusing her daughter. This is the second trial for Stacy Parnitzke and Shane Casey. The first one ended in a hung jury. No word on when sentencing will be. Both each face up to life in prison. The defense attorney for Stacey Parnitzke said they will appeal.

Vermont State Police detectives resumed their search of a 78-year-old woman believed to have been killed and burned by her daughter in 2006 and then buried by her grandson. Authorities focused their search for the remain of Mary Wilcox in an area behind Westford Elementary School. Police found nothing, they plan to continue the search at a later date.

Instant runoff voting or IRV is now a thing of the past in Burlington. On Town Meeting Day, residents in Burlington decided to get rid of IRV. Since it's a city charter change, the repeal required legislative approval. Governor Jim Douglas signed the repeal of the controversial voting system on Monday.

Fire fighters in Plattsburgh saved an apartment building. Crews were called to a Sharron Avenue apartment around 12:45 PM after a fire broke out inside an upstairs bedroom. Everyone made it out safely. The blaze is still under investigation, but officials say it does not appear to be suspicious. Fast response from Plattsburgh fire fighters saved the rest of the building.

The Vermont Community Wind Farm is backing away from plans to build in Rutland County what could have been the state's largest wind farm. Community Wind had proposed building 45 wind turbines in Ira, Clarendon, West Rutland and Poultney. Officials say the permitting process is too uncertain to go forward; but added if circumstances change, the project could be revived.

Some Vermont companies are stepping up to make sure our solders deployed overseas have jobs when they return. Nine companies signed Statements of Support, saying they will keep jobs held by guard members open while they are away and helping them secure jobs now and in the future. Those companies include Green Mountain Coffee Roaster and Vermont Tire Company.

State Police and local law enforcement will be conducting DUI sobriety checkpoints in the Rutland area this week. Motorists are urged to use a designated driver when necessary and to wear seat belts.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

WVTK Local & State News April 27, 2010

The National Weather Service Has issued a WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FROM 5 THIS AFTERNOON THROUGH 11 AM TOMORROW. Weather Channel Meteorologist Ray Stagich Says Cloudy & Rainy Today with a High In The Mid 40’s.

Sentencing for the former Vergennes Police Chief has been delayed till tomorrow. Michael Lowe is facing 18 months to 4 years in jail. Lowe's lawyers are expected to ask a judge to spare him jail time. Lowe pled guilty to drug and other charges back in January. He has since undergone drug treatment.

The Rutland City Police Commission made very clear it has no intention of complying with a request by the Board of Alderman to fire police chief Tony Bossi. Commissioners say firing Bossi would equal punishment not accountability and insist keeping him on board is the best way to improve the department. The aldermen are not satisfied though. They plan to look at how they can strip power from the commission and are considering asking voters to do away with the commission altogether.

The driver of a stolen car Friday that lead police on a high-speed chase on Interstate 89 has been order to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. 19-year-old Brendan Houston was in court yesterday and pled not guilty to a number of charges. Authorities say Houston suffers from number of mental issues and that he has escaped mental health facilities in the past several weeks.

Due to cuts in state aid, the Tupper Lake Central School District is looking at cutting 30 teachers for next year. And that's not the only bad news, the school district will still face a 10-percent increase in the tax levy to make ends meet. Officials say 55-percent of the districts funds come from the state, next year, the district is project to receive about 48-percent.

The Vermont State Education Chief say Vermont's schools likely wouldn't have been a match for the program, that's why the state isn't applying for federal "Race to the Top" grant money. In order to receive the grants the state would have to do a number of policy and legislative changes.

After a month's delay, close to 6,500 disabled Vermont veterans or their surviving spouses are about to get letters verifying their disabilities. The letters are documentation for aid and property tax breaks. Officials say the letters should be delivered by Tomorrow.

The operator of New England's power grid says there should be no problem meeting the region's demands for electricity this summer, even in the event of an extended heat wave. ISO New England said the region could generate more than 32,000 megawatts this summer, enough to handle the demand during the highest electricity use months.

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer wants the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on how social networking websites use and share personal information. The Democrat has written a letter to the FTC in response to Facebook's launch of new features last week. Facebook says the new features will encourage social activity across the Web, but Schumer says new privacy policies limit user control over how much personal information is shared with sites that partner with Facebook. Schumer is calling on the FTC to set guidelines for how those sites use and share information.

State workers got a head start on this weekend's Green Up Day. About a dozen workers yesterday afternoon joined Governor Jim Douglas in picking up trash along Route 12 in Middlesex. They said last year on Green Up Day, Vermonters picked up 250 tons of garbage from roadsides. The most common litter was fast food wrappers, coffee cups and beer bottles.

Monday, April 26, 2010

WVTK Local & State News April 26, 2010

Commuters between Vermont and New York will soon have another way of crossing the lake. The Ticonderoga Ferry is getting ready to open for the season. After an almost total overhaul, this will be one of the earliest openings in history for the seasonal ferry. Starting Wednesday morning at 8:30 the Ti Ferry will start crossing the lake between Ticonderoga and Shoreham.

The Benson School Board is set to take a second shot at passing a budget on Tuesday. The board will hold an informational meeting at 7:30 p.m. today at the Benson Community Hall. Voting is scheduled to take place there by Australian ballot from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow.

Addison County organizers are hoping that the first state conference on migrant farm workers will seed new community organizations in other counties that will help a population many believe is vital to the future of Vermont’s dairy farms. About 150 people turned out Saturday at the McCardell Bicentennial Hall on the campus Middlebury College. The conference was organized to spread awareness of not only the issues that face immigrant workers but also the steps that can and have been taken in Addison County to deal with the problems.

Rutland City aldermen are poised to approve the Summer Farmers' Markets expansion into Evelyn Street at their next meeting, however they learned last week that not all in the city are in favor of the plan. Two businesses in the area of Depot Park recently contacted the mayor's office and the Downtown Rutland Partnership to say that the Saturday road closure was bad for their businesses.

A local man charged with holding a woman captive and abusing her for two days is in jail awaiting arraignment on a felony charge. Bruce Fuller allegedly barred a woman last week from leaving a Main Street apartment in Shoreham. Fuller was arrested days later when he visited the state Probation and Parole Office in Rutland. He will be arraigned in Middlebury District Court on the felony domestic assault charge May 24.

Hubbardton Forge, the Castleton company that makes hand-forged lighting products, is being honored by the state for its pollution prevention efforts. The company, 1 of the nation's oldest and largest commercial forges, will get a Vermont Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence and Pollution Prevention.

Vermont's agriculture secretary has a grim outlook for Vermont's dairy farms. Roger Albee says in a worst case scenario 200 dairy farms might shut down by the end of the year. The state currently has just over 1,000 dairy farms. Albee says the collapse of milk prices last year might put 20-percent of those out of business.

Burlington based,, one of the fastest growing web companies is launching a $10-Million expansion. The company had recently considered a number of expansion options including moving to California, but officials announced on Friday that they will be staying in Burlington and hiring around 300 more employees.

A Vermont hospital is planning what it says is the first forum ever exploring the potential health impacts caused by industrial wind turbines. The forum, scheduled for May 6 at Rutland Medical Center, will feature two physicians: Dr. Michael Nissenbaum, of Northern Maine Medical Center, and Dr. Robert McCunney, of Massachusetts General Hospital. Hospital President Thomas Huebner will serve as moderator. People who live near industrial wind turbines have reported suffering from hypertension, nausea, depression and sleep deprivation, and the forum will examine the potential effects of wind turbines in relation to those ailments.

A 19-year-old from Montpelier is facing a number of charges after leading police on a high speed chase in a stolen vehicle. Police say Brendan Houston stolen a black Mercedes Friday afternoon in Montpelier and fled to St. Albans were he stole gas and liquor. Police spotted the car southbound on Interstate 89. The chase ended in Waterbury when he crossed the median and hit another car and fled on foot. Houston was caught in a nearby wooded area. Police say a woman and her two children involved in the collision are OK.

Senator Charles Schumer is fighting for more funding for Anti-Drug Trafficking programs along the border. The proposed federal budget would cut 15-percent from the programs. Schumer says the North Country is one of the greatest places to raise and family and doesn't want that to change. He says he wants to at least see the funding restored, if not increased.

A North Underhill man was involved with an armed stand-off with police for almost 2 hours yesterday. Vermont State Police arrived at the house just before noon. Traffic on Route 15 was re-routed during the incident. The man finally surrender to police and was taken to Fletcher-Allen for evaluation. No one was hurt during the stand-off. His name is not being released.

A man wanted in Vermont on attempted murder charges is now in custody in Ohio. 33-year-old Michael Kirkman is now awaiting extradition back to Vermont. Police say Kirkman stabbed 2 men outside of a restaurant in Barre 2 weeks ago. Both victims spent several days in the hospital with serious injuries but have since been released.

The Vermont Senate passed its version of the annual tax bill on Friday. It calls for a 1-percent increase in property taxes among a number of other differences from the House version. Senators also rejected a move to pass an increase in the federal domestic production tax credit on to local manufacturers.

Senator Patrick Leahy is encouraging Vermonters to create a "Postcard from Home" message, a video card, so to speak, for our more than 1,300 troops overseas. Once it's created, it can then be uploaded to YouTube, where soldiers can log on and view them. For information, go to the special Website here.

With the warmer weather, more and more people are taking their motorcycles out of storage. Police are now issuing a warning to motorcycle rider to be careful. Each year the number of motorcycle fatalities increases while the numbers decrease in every other vehicle class. The most obvious tips for motorcyclists are to drive defensively.

A Colonial-era boundary dispute between two Vermont towns is finally going to be settled. The dispute between St. George and neighboring Shelburne dates back to 1763, when both towns were established with overlapping land maps. It took a couple building a home on property in the disputed area to settle the matter. Both towns get some land under the deal.

Friday, April 23, 2010

WVTK Local & State News April 23, 2010

Addison Northwest Supervisory Union officials have scheduled two more informational meetings before the May 11 re-votes in Vergennes and Addison of whether union should change to a one-board governance system. Members of the board will be on hand to answer questions on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Vergennes Union High School library, and then on Wednesday, April 28, at 7 p.m. at Addison Central School.

New numbers show 65-percent of the residents of Addison County have returned their Census Forms, which is par with the state average. Residents who failed to take the estimated 10 minutes to fill out the form can probably expect a knock on their door from a Census worker in May or June. Officials say if you returned your form late, you could still get a visit from a census work, and you must answer the interview questions.

State financial regulators have upgraded their complaint against an Addison filmmaker to now include fraud. Mac Parker has collected $10 million over the past decade for a movie he's making called "The Birth of Innocence." The state has argued he violated law by selling unregistered securities to more than 600 people to finance the film. They now say he committed fraud by failing to disclose key information.

On Earth Day, students at Green Mountain College heard from one of the 12 people who have looked back at the Earth while standing on the moon. Apollo 12 lunar landing module pilot Alan Bean addressed a packed auditorium at the college yesterday. His talk had two messages: the importance of planet Earth and people's ability to achieve what seems impossible.

The Downtown Rutland Partnership has received approval from the city planning commission to apply for a state grant to fund a traffic study of three downtown streets. If the city receives the $15,000 municipal planning grant from the Department of Housing and Community Affairs, West, Wales and Evelyn streets will be the subject of the study's focus.

IBM in Essex Junction is hiring. Plant officials say they have nearly 100 job openings and the openings are full-time, long-term positions, with benefits. To fill the openings, IBM will be holding 2 job fairs on Monday. The first one will be from 10 to 2 at the Vermont Department of Labor Offices in Burlington. The other one will be from 4 to 8 at the IBM plant.

Two nurses at Horace Nye Nursing Home have had all charges against them dismissed. 49-year-old Anne Marcotte of Willsboro and 38-year-old Billie Jo O'Donnel of Witherbee were arrested in January and charged with abusing a quadriplegic patient. The judge dismissed the charges yesterday based on the evidence in the medical records. They are both getting their jobs back.

Tomorrow is medicine drop off day. If you have any old medications or prescriptions you can drop them off at Kinney Drugs on Shelburne Road in South Burlington or Cornelia Street in Plattsburgh. Just make sure keep everything in its original packaging, if it's a prescription, cross off your name and address on the label. No environmentally hazardous, or illegal drugs are allowed.

The next time you think about pulling into a handicap parking spot for just a minute, you might want to think twice. Governor Jim Douglas this week signed into law a bill doubling the fine from $100 to $200. The bill also calls for vehicles, illegally parked in a spaced mark for the disabled, to be towed at the owner’s expense.

A judge has put off a ruling on whether to throw out a confession for a former 5th-grade teacher accused of molesting students. Shaun Bryer, who taught in Morrisville and Colchester, faces 18 charges. Bryer's attorneys say he hadn't been read his Miranda rights when he made his initial statements to police.

The state of Vermont is cracking down on lead paint again. The Attorney General's Office has sent a letter to the owners of 65 apartments in Winooski. They now have 90 days to demonstrate their compliance with the state's lead law. The law was enacted to prevent the accidental lead poisoning of children.

Compared to the rest of the country, state labor officials say Vermont companies are relatively safe places to work -- with fewer job-site injuries and illnesses. Companies recognized as part of a state initiative all came in with better-than-average figures. Some of those companies include Ben & Jerry's, Energizer Battery, and G.E. Aviation.

Police say two men tried to lure an 8 year-old boy into their van in St. Albans. The men told the boy they lost their puppy. The boy refused to help and went to tell his mom what happened. The van then took off. The men are in their 30s. One has a goatee, and one has curly hair and was wearing a red hat. The van is light blue. Anyone with information should call police.

The Northeastern Clinton Central School Board recently has approved a budget for next year that includes a zero-percent change in tax levy. The proposed budget is 1-percent less than the current budget. In order to deal with cuts in state aid, Board officials say they made cuts in a number of different areas including seven positions.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

WVTK Local & State News April 22, 2010

A new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition says Vermont is one of the most expensive states to live in. The report says the average Vermont household needs an income of at $37,000 to afford a modest 2 -bedroom apartment. New York is even more expensive were the average family needs a household income of almost $50,000 for a 2-bedroom apartment.

More Vermont National Guard families have reported receiving prank phone calls. The guard believes at least 9 families of solders deployed to Afghanistan have gotten fake calls saying that their loved ones had been wounded. Investigators are working with the phone company to try to trace the calls.

The Rutland Regional Medical Center has a couple of new honors to be proud of. The facility was named a Magnet hospital yesterday afternoon. Magnet-designated hospitals serve as international models for nursing care. RRMC was also named the winner of the Governor’s Award for Performance Excellence.

The Vermont state network of computers should be back on-line today. A virus scare yesterday forced officials to shut down the system. Officials say a new security update had a name that some computers recognized as a virus. As a precaution, the state network of computers was taken off-line yesterday.

More than $5 million is now available to homeowners and businesses in Vermont interested in creating their own renewable energy projects. The Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund has received federal stimulus money to fund solar projects and small wind turbines. The money can be used to cover up to 30% of the installation. The fund manager says Vermonters don't even need to apply for the incentive if they use a certified installer.

The former Plattsburgh High School Principal is about to get a new job. Chazy Central Rural School is hiring John Fairchild as superintendent. The School Board is holding a special meeting tomorrow at 5 PM to vote on his contract. The meeting is open to the public. If the school board approves his contract, Fairchild will start on July 1.

The Vermont DMV and the Youth Safety Council are taking a new campaign titled, "Turn Off Texting" to schools around the state. The aim of the new program is teach students the dangers of texting while driving. Students run a course in a golf cart twice, once while they are texting. They are then shown just how many mistakes were made while they were busy texting.

Governor Jim Douglas and some lawmakers are saying say tuition increases at the state's colleges are too high. Tuition at UVM is set to go up almost 5 percent next year while student attending one of the state colleges could see their tuition go up 4 percent. The group of lawmakers says instead, college officials making over $60,000 a year should take pay cuts, just like state officials did.

State lawmakers may once again debate the drinking age. A resolution on the table would ask the U.S. Congress for a waiver from the requirement to have the state's drinking age set at 21 in order to receive federal highway money. The state Senate may debate the drinking age waiver as soon as tomorrow.

2 men inspecting power lines in Windham County are alive today after surviving a helicopter crash. Just before noon yesterday morning, the helicopter they were in dropped 60 feet and crashed into a wooded area in Brookline. Officials say a rope became entangled in the rotors. The pilot and passenger were airlifted to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

North Country Congressman Bill Owens is introducing legislation that he says will help create more jobs for New York. The bill Owens submitted will extend the federal tax deduction to businesses that hire more full-time employees for the next 5 years. His opponents believe the plan is too complicated.

The state budget crisis has put a number of construction jobs here in the North Country on hold. New York state legislators have pulled funding for capital projects while they work on the budget. One of the projects now on hold is the new bridge on Tom Miller Road. Department of Transportation officials said it doesn't look like funding is going to resume anytime soon.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

WVTK Local & State News April 21, 2010

It has been confirmed; Rutland Police Sergeant David Schauwecker had been fired by the city. The Board of Alderman voted April 7 to fire Schauwecker after hearing evidence, but the decision wasn't made public until he received the news himself. Court papers say Schauwecker took evidence containing inappropriate images and viewed them on work computers.

Vermont State Police are searching for a man who claimed to be a police officer. Investigators say the man pulled a woman over on Route 22A in Fair Haven Monday Night and searched her car. The woman says she later discovered money missing from her wallet. The suspect is described as a white male about 6 feet tall, weighing 165 to 170 pounds.

The Rutland Public Schools District will bring the conversation of how to fight cyber-bullying to city parents and students. Two technology safety professionals from Prevent Child Abuse Vermont will lecture to parents at 6:30 tonight in the Rutland Intermediate School auditorium about what they can do to prevent online harassment. The district's focus is to make students and parents aware of anonymous bullying that has popped up as fast as technology has expanded.

A new round of tax appeals, beyond the Board of Civil Authority, has begun in Rutland Town. These include five appeals to the state appraiser and four appeals to superior court. Of these appeals, Diamond Run Mall is the highest-valued property. The mall has been denied appeal twice — first by town listers and most recently by the BCA. Diamond Run is one of nine properties appealing tax assessments further than the BCA level.

The state senate has given preliminary approval to a $600-Million Transportation Bill. The plan includes $113 million to fix more than 70 town and state bridges this year. The bill also includes funds for the new Crown Point Bridge along with money for new public bus routes, and to expand 5 new park-and-ride lots for commuters.

Drivers in Black Brook can expect some delays and detours. The Silver Lake Road Bridge is closing today. The bridge is being demolished, and a new bridge will be built. The bridge is almost 50 years old. Federal stimulus money is paying for the new bridge. It should be built by late August or early September.

An Enosburg man was taken to the hospital after Vermont State Police say he was shot by his brother. Police say 20-year-old Kenneth Dudley shot his brother 18-year-old Adam Dudley in the leg at their Main Street apartment shortly before 2 AM yesterday morning. Authorities say the brothers were arguing over the rent at the time of the incident.

More than a dozen catalytic converters were stolen from vehicles at Heritage Toyota. Police say workers at Heritage noticed them missing yesterday morning. Investigators say the thief or thieves cut the catalytic converters out of the vehicles. People steal catalytic converters because they contain platinum.

The leader of the Vermont Senate says a campaign finance bill will not pass this year. Democratic leaders had wanted to pass a bill after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled corporations and labor unions can spend unlimited cash on political campaigns. A Senate bill would have created transparency by showing which groups paid for political ads and it would have forced a company's board of directors to approve all political advertising.

Police in Burlington are warning drivers against stopping at pedestrian crosswalks at green lights. The call comes after two people were hurt when a southbound motorcycle hit a pedestrian after a car in the northbound lane had stopped to let two girls cross the street. Police say people who don't follow the signals create a dangerous mix of pedestrians and cars at intersections.

The Teddy Bear Factory in Shelburne is gearing up for its busy Mother's Day season, and it's hiring dozens of seasonal workers for duties in the call center. The company is looking for people with computer and people skills. A job fair is set for today and Friday from 10 to 4. You can also stop by the factory Saturday morning. The jobs expected to last four weeks.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

WVTK Local & State News April 20, 2010

Businesses, farms, and non-profits that suffered an economic hardship due to the closure of the Crown Point Bridge can now apply for low or no-interest loans. The $800,000 earmarked for the loans is part of the $8.6-Million Jobs Bill passed by the state late last week. The deadline to apply for the loans is October 31.

A bill designed to boost the recycling of computers and other electronics is now law in Vermont. Governor Jim Douglas was at the Chittenden Solid Waste District in Williston yesterday to sign the electronic recycling bill into law. The bill makes it free for consumers to recycle their old electronics while manufacturers pick up the tab.

New federal regulations regarding road signage will cost taxpayers in Essex County nearly $1.9-Million. The regulations, which apply nationwide, stipulate that rectangular signs with an arrow be used on curses were the speed limit drops more than 15 miles per hour. Currently, most warning signs for curves in the region are diamond-shaped.

State education officials say it's likely Vermont won't get $38 million in federal grants for schools. Vermont doesn't put a premium on charter schools or tying teacher pay to student performance, two areas required to win the grants. Meanwhile the state's teacher's union says there hasn't been enough opportunity for teachers to participate in applying for the federal money.

The day before jury selection was to begin in the retrial of Bruce Bonville; he admitted to assault in the shooting of his son. The plea convicts him of “recklessly shooting” his son, Cory, on July 1, 2006. The Clinton County District Attorney said the family didn't wan to go though another trial. On May 3rd, Bonville could be sentenced to a maximum of 7 years in prison.

Police in St. Albans are looking for a hit-and-run driver. A teenage girl was hit in the legs Sunday night while she was walking along Lincoln Avenue. She was not seriously hurt. A witness says the car was light colored, had four doors and was driven by a man in his 20s. After hitting the girl, the car sped off down Congress Street.

Representative Peter Welch unveiled a bill designed to help dairy farmers. The legislation would create a "growth management program" for dairy farmers across the country. Each farm would be told how much .they could produce in order to help control the cost of milk. The bill, if passed, would require a referendum of dairy producers to be enacted.

A man is behind bars for allegedly firing a gun into the air in downtown Burlington. Police say 24-year old Dennis Rose fired a gun around 2 AM Friday near Maple and Church Streets, during a dispute with another man. No one was hurt. Rose is charged with aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. He is being held for lack of $10,000 bail.

Students at Plattsburg State are calling on school administrators to do more about sex crimes on campus. More than 20 student held picket signs yesterday calling for resignations and changes in college judicial system. Protesters say most crimes are handled internally on campus and that doesn't make them feel safe.

More than a hundred people showed up last night to get answers about the new F-35 fighter jet that the Vermont National Guard might be getting. The main concern of area residents was the noise factor. The jets are said to be louder than the current F-16s. Another presentation by the Vermont National Guard is planned for tonight at 6 at the Winooski Middle School.

The non-profit group, Local Motion is looking for donations to help fund a bicycle ferry this summer. The ferry runs across the gap in Lake Champlain between Colchester and South Hero. Right now the ferry is only open on weekends. Officials with Local Motion say they are more than half way to their $1.2-Million goal to keep the ferry running everyday for several months.

Monday, April 19, 2010

WVTK Local & State News April 19, 2010

A Brandon man is facing a felony charge for allegedly using counterfeit bills to pay for illegal drugs. Police say 30-year-old Jeffrey Preseau printed fake money to buy OxyContin from a man who had been selling pills to him for years. Preseau pled innocent in court. He faces 14-years if convicted for making counterfeit money.

Police in South Burlington are still looking for the man that robbed the Chittenden Bank Branch on Dorset Street. The suspect entered the bank just after 11 AM Saturday morning, waited about 5 minutes, then handed the teller a note demanding money. Police say the man, who claimed to be armed, got away with an undisclosed amount of money.

The Adirondack Park Agency has granted a permit for the new Crown Point Bridge. The new bridge will have two 11-foot travel lanes with five-foot shoulders on either side and two five-foot sidewalks for pedestrian traffic. A public presentation on design features of the new bridge is being planned for sometime in May. Construction on the new bridge will likely start in 2 months.

State officials are warning families of solders deployed to Afghanistan about a phone hoax. According to guard officials, at least 3 families have gotten calls at night from an unidentified woman saying that she is sorry that their soldier has been wounded in Afghanistan. The guard says that the protocol is for the family to be contacted by the solder or someone close to him or her.

The Census Bureau says so far, 61 to 66 percent of Vermonters have returned their census forms. That compares with the national average rate of 69 percent. In 2000, about 65 percent of Vermont residents mailed in their forms.

Police in Barre are looking for a man who robbed a convenience store this past weekend. Police say the robber walked into a Cumberland Farms on South Main Street with a handgun. He demanded cash and a carton of cigarettes. The robber's described as being about 5 feet 6 inches tall with blue eyes and bad acne, and was last seen wearing a hooded sweat shirt.

An argument over a loose dog turned violent in Ticonderoga last week. Police say 41-year-old Matthew Peters shot at his neighbor with a 22-caliber rifle several times Thursday after he became angry his neighbor's dog was loose. Peters said the dog was agitating his pets. No one was injured in the shooting. Peters is being held on $15,000 dollars bail.

Vermont's unemployment rate dropped a tenth of a point in March to 6.5-percent. Unemployment rates for Vermont's 17 labor market areas ranged from 5.2-percent in Hartford to 11.3-percent in Newport. But for one town, its much higher. The unemployment rate in Pittsfield has hovered around 20-percent for the past 3 months.

More than 400 people completed in the first ever City of Plattsburgh Half Marathon. The 13.5-mile run yesterday morning, to benefit the Fox Foundation, raising more than $25,000 for Parkinson’s disease in the process. 22-year-old Logan Franks of Plattsburgh was the first to finish. Coming in at fifth overall, but first for the women’s category, was 33-year-old Sara Facteau from Peru.

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission is planning an open house and public meeting today in Brattleboro on the recent leaks at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. The open house will take place from 1 to 4 and 5 to 6 in the cafeteria of the Brattleboro Union High School. A more formal meeting will be held from 6 to 9 PM in the auditorium of the high school.

Police in Burlington are investigating a hit and run that left a bicyclists with a fractured shoulder and some scraps and bruises. Police said a silver Ford pickup truck sideswiped the woman as she approached the intersection of South Union and Buell Streets. Police said she was legally in the bicycle lane.

Friday, April 16, 2010

WVTK Local & State News April 16, 2010

A Colorado company has been selected as the apparent low bidder for the new Crown Point Bridge. Flatiron Constructors of Lafayette, Colorado, submitted a bid of $69.7 million. The Vermont Agency of Transportation will take the next 3 weeks to review all the bid details. It's not known if any Vermont or New York subcontractors will be hired to work on the project.

Members of a Vermont National Guard contingent could be home as early as late this year from a deployment to Afghanistan. Adjutant General Michael Dubie laid out the timetable to state lawmakers yesterday. Dubie also said he may ask for more state funding for support services to help soldiers as they return home.

Rutland's new prosecutor is no stranger to the community or the Rutland County State's Attorney's Office. Rutland native Charles Romeo, who served briefly as a city alderman and who spent part of his college career as an intern in the prosecutor's office, started at the job this week as the replacement for Kathryn Smith, who left the office earlier this month.

Vermont lawmakers, looking for ways to fill a $154 million budget gap, have a new idea - taxing plastic shopping bags. The proposal calls for a 10-cent tax on each plastic bag people bring home from stores. The tax could raise between 6 and 9 million dollars a year for the state. Lawmakers say the idea was proposed too late in the session to see any action this year.

It's 14 days late and there's still no sign that New York's state budget is coming any time soon. Lawmakers have gone home for the weekend despite missing the April 1 deadline. Their proposals on how to close the $9.2 billion deficit are still billions of dollars apart from Gov. David Paterson's plan.

A handful of Vermont lawmakers are joining with business leaders to call on the legislature to shore up the state's bankrupted unemployment fund. The fund is currently borrowing from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits. A bill before the Senate Finance Committee would cut spending on benefits and increase taxes on the 23,000 employers who pay into the fund.

State House Speaker Shap Smith says lawmakers may have to return to Montpelier this summer to tighten up some loose ends on the state budget. Smith says the current supplemental budget bill will only fix about half of the shortfall it was suppose to address. He's hoping the Senate can find further savings after the bill clears the House.

A sexual assault at UVM has prompted officials to issue a crime alert. UVM police say they got a call saying a female student was attacked, possibly by two men, on the night of April 6. UVM Police say there have been 7 attacks on campus since last August. They are warning all female students to be aware of their surroundings at night and walk in groups.

The head of the Vermont National Guard says if the South Burlington base doesn't get the new F-35 fighter jets-- it could lead to job cuts. Some residents are concerned about the noise of the new planes that might replace the current F-16 fighter jets. Adjutant General Michael Dubie indicated that without the new planes, the South Burlington base could become obsolete.

The post office says it's discovered why thousands of pension checks were late getting to New Yorkers in January. An internal review shows 60,000 checks were put in with bulk mail instead of first-class mail at an Albany processing center. Some were over two weeks late getting to recipients.

The school budget for next year at Saranac Central School calls for cutting 31 jobs. School officials cut positions across all programs, departments and services to contend with soaring costs and cuts in state aid. No programs were eliminated under the spending plan. Next year's spending plan is about $70,000 less then the current year's budget.

The number of passengers using Burlington International Airport dropped 14-percent for the first 3 months of this year. Airport management says not to expect any improvement soon because of construction work on the runway. The drop in passengers also means increases in parking fees and airport rents have gone up to match the revenue shortfall.

A South Burlington man was in court answering to charges of putting his own child at risk. Police say 33-year-old Jesse Fowler left his son in the car last December while he broke into a Burlington tattoo shop. Fowler pled no contest to a cruelty charge and pled guilty to having cocaine. The state dropped the other charges against him. He was ordered to perform community service.

Today is the last day of the Street Sign Amnesty Program in Plattsburgh. Till midnight tonight, students and residents can return street signs without any questions or penalties. The city of Plattsburgh is currently putting identification information on all street and traffic signs. After today, all violators will be prosecuted.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

WVTK Local & State News April 15, 2010

Governor Jim Douglas wants lawmakers to drop the idea of promoting a labor agreement to cover rebuilding the Crown Point Bridge. Most construction companies in Vermont are nonunion and say the proposal would shut them out of the project. Some State Senators say using union standards for pay and benefits will result in better treatment of workers on the project.

A compliance check of more than 200 registered sex offenders in Rutland, Bennington and Addison counties found only a small percentage in violation of their residency requirements. Of the 233 sex offenders checked on during the first two weeks of April, only four were found to be living at addresses not reported to the state registry.

School administrators and the Rutland School Board are backing a plan that will change Rutland Middle School students' schedules at the start of the 2010-11 school year — one that includes eight-minute-longer classes and students taking core classes such as English, math and science at different times during the school week. Other changes include the reduction of one core class a week, replaced by a 40-minute study skills and tutorial class to be taken by all students.

A proposal to apply the state sales tax to vitamins and nutritional supplements is being opposed by Governor Jim Douglas. Douglas says taxing items people take for their health runs counter to his efforts to both hold the line on tax hikes and promote good health. Health advocacy groups have also came out against the tax increase.

Hinesburg has a new police chief. Fred Silber was appointed by the select board and replaces Chris Morrell, who was fired last month. Silber is a veteran officer with the department and has been acting chief since Morrell was fired.

Governor Jim Douglas wants Vermonters to fill out paperwork detailing what health care decisions they might want made should they become incapacitated. The form can be found on the state Health Department's Web site.

Members of the state House passed a bill yesterday requiring Vermont Yankee to set aside more money for eventual clean up of the nuclear power plant when it finally closes down. There was barely a whisper of debate, and the vote was unanimous, 139 in favor, none in opposition. Vermont Yankee officials say they don't believe the legislation is necessary because the company is committed to restoring the site.

New York State Police are conducting an investigation into how a woman locked up since 2008 in the Franklin County Jail got pregnant. The defense attorney for 25-year-old Rhonda Amber Dufoe of Snye, Quebec has confirmed that his client is between 5 and 6 months pregnant. Dufoe is behind bars waiting to be sentenced for her role in an Akwesasne murder.

A Beekmantown man faces multiple charges after allegedly stabbing another man multiple times yesterday morning near Pizza Bono in downtown Plattsburgh. Police have charged 45-year-old Christopher Jones in connection with the 3 AM incident. Police said Jones and the victim had been arguing over about $5 in change left on the restaurant counter.

Senator Patrick Leahy has delivered more than $700,000 in federal grant money that will help control invasive species in Lake Champlain. He said $500,000 will be spent on water chestnut control and nearly $100,000 will go toward fighting sea lamprey. The money will be put to use immediately to continue the efforts to beautify Lake Champlain.

The property manager of the Imperial Industrial Park in Plattsburgh says several new businesses are moving in. Many of them are Canadian Companies looking to expand. A small bread-making company and a telemarketing company will soon move in. A new company called Solve Composites has already moved into the building and is getting ready to open in June.

The names of two farm workers, one killed and the other seriously injured by a freight train were released. 78-year-old Gregory Crawford of Williston was killed when the backhoe he was driving was hit by the train. 28-year-old Shain Parker of Williston hit by the equipment as it was pushed by the train. The crash remains under investigation.

Retail sales nationwide may be up, but that's not the case in Vermont. Sales tax revenue is actually down quite a bit since last year. Economists say there are signs the recession is over and the economy is on its way to recovering. However they say it's going to be a slow process here in the Northeast with possible setbacks.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

WVTK Local & State News April 14, 2010

The Vt. Legislature has now passed a jobs bill pushed by the governor. The $8.6 million in federal money will go toward new broadband, new businesses, and job training. There is also money for farmers and businesses impacted by the Champlain Bridge closure. And lawmakers included money to keep the Vermont Seal of Quality program running. Officials estimate the entire jobs bill could help keep and create hundreds of jobs.

Port Henry has gained a new fire chief but lost a longtime village trustee. James Hughes was chosen as chief of the Port Henry Volunteer Fire Department at its April 8 annual election. Hughes resigned from the Board of Trustees on Monday Night. Serving in both posts would essentially have made Hughes his own boss, because the fire chief reports to the Village Board.

A former school bookkeeper in Bristol has admitted to embezzling $22,000 in student lunch money at Mount Abraham Union High School. Police say Amy Cousino also ran up $19,000 in personal charges on the district's credit cards to pay her bills. As part of a plea deal, Cousino will be on probation for the next 5 years and will pay part of the money back.

The company proposing to lay a high voltage transmission line under the length of Lake Champlain and the Hudson River offered a better look at its plan at a meeting in Plattsburgh, last night. Transmission Developers Incorporated, or TDI, is a two-year-old Canadian company working on its first ever project. The Champlain Hudson Power Express would connect power generation sources in Northern New York and Canada, to New York City and the surrounding area. Before the company gets the go ahead from regulators and a thumbs up from environmental groups it will have to prove this project will bring big benefits without doing harm.

The Vermont House has given preliminary approval to legislation requiring the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant's owners to put up additional money toward dismantling the reactor when it eventually shuts down. Backers of the bill say it's designed to enforce an agreement made by Vermont Yankee to restore the in Vernon to a green field after decommissioning is complete.

A bill that has passed the senate and is now waiting for action from the house would call from stronger regulations on salvage yards in Vermont. State officials say nearly three-quarters of the salvage yards in Vermont are operating without state licenses or effective regulation. The legislation would setup rules for the proper handling of junk cars and similar materials.

The family of a Rutland woman who died in a state prison last year has reached a settlement with a private company that provides health care in state prisons. The Rutland Herald reports Prison Health Services reached the out of court deal with the family of Ashley Ellis. Ellis died in August after she wasn't given medication needed to counteract a heart condition.

Castleton State College recently completed several improvements to Spartan Arena and is planning a major green initiative this summer. CSC President David Wolk said the college has installed new stairways, fire exits and an elevator to address deferred maintenance issues as well as comply with health and safety regulations. Topping the list of efficient changes this summer will be new lighting fixtures throughout the facility.

There’s new information out about the F-35 Fighter Jets that Vermont Air National Guard might be getting. Officials say the F-35 is quieter on take-off than the F-16, but slightly noisier while flying overhead. An audiologist in Burlington says it will be a noticeable difference, but not by much. This information will be included in the environmental impact study being released this summer.

Burlington's Greyhound bus terminal will be moving from Pine Street to the city's airport early next month. Airport officials say the move is expected to boost the number of Canadian travelers who fly out of Burlington.

A St. Albans farm worker was killed when the backhoe he was operating was hit by a train. Police are not releasing his name. A second man was walking next to the backhoe. He was seriously hurt and was rushed to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington. Police are still trying to figure out why the men were on the tracks and how fast the train was traveling.

Voters in the Town of Essex and Essex Junction both said yes to their spending plans for the upcoming year. Essex Junction approved their $16 million dollar budget yesterday. Essex Junction also approved their Parks and Recreation budget as well. In Essex Town, voters said yes to their $18 million school budget.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

WVTK Local & State News April 13, 2010

Middlebury voters will meet tomorrow (Wednesday) at 7:30 p.m. in the Mary Hogan Elementary School gym to decide a proposed 2010-2011 ID-4 school district spending plan. Also at the annual meeting, voters will decide whether to spend up to $191,100 to finance a major pavement and drainage project on school grounds.

You can expect some delays heading through downtown Bristol this spring and summer as construction ramps up on a $1.38 million project to replace a section of the town’s aging stormwater system and upgrade the downtown water main.

A mother from Hinesburg has pled guilty to charges in a fiery crash that left her 4-year-old son paralyzed. Heather Carpentier also pled no contest to a child endangerment charge. Police say in September, Carpentier had too much to drink when she rear-ended a vehicle on Route 22A in Orwell. Both cars went off the road and caught fire. She faces up to 8 years in prison.

Organizers of a broadband initiative are encouraging rural communities across the state to apply for funding from a new broadband partnership. The e-Vermont Partnership is a $4 million initiative promoting online access, training and Web usage in rural areas. Those wishing to participate and get funding should check with the Vermont Council on Rural Development by April 30.

A new study shows Vermont leads the nation in underage drinking. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows nearly 40% of kids 12 to 20 drank the month before the poll. Nearly 30% were binge drinkers.

Officials in Essex County are asking the state to hold off on a new law that requires ignition-locking devices for convicted drunk drivers until more funding is available. The law know as Leandra's Law took effect last December. Now the driver is suppose to pay for the interlock, but judges can waive the fees for defendants who are financially unable to afford the device.

Forty students from Rutland's Stafford Technical Center skipped vacation for volunteerism yesterday by rebuilding a playground for Benson preschoolers. Benson Village School Principal Kim Doty said the project was a community effort inspired by Amy Munger, a mother and resident. In the coming days, more equipment - including a fun hoop and tetherball set meant to develop hand and eye coordination - will be installed.

Within the world of Vermont electric utilities, one of the most important jobs is the head of the Vermont Electric Power Co. or VELCO. Christopher Dutton, the former head of Green Mountain Power, has taken over that post which had, until a few days ago, been held by John Donleavy. Residential electricity customers don't get a bill from Rutland-based VELCO. But the company, controlled in large part by the power distribution utilities such as GMP and Central Vermont Public Service, makes sure the state's more than 600 miles of electric transmission lines remain working and reliable.

The state of Vermont plans to spend $120,000 to buy Internet blocking software to prevent employees from accessing pornographic and other inappropriate Web sites while at work. David Tucker, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Innovation and Information, said Monday that the state has had some problems with state workers viewing or downloading pornography at work.

Despite the early Spring warm-up this has been a banner year for Vermont's ski industry. Plenty of snow piled up thru the middle of the winter to sustain the season and plenty of visitors hit the slopes, especially during the big holiday weeks. The Vermont Ski Areas Association is hopeful season will surpass last year's 4 million skier visits.

A Richford man, already charged with robbing a bank, is now being charged with 4 more. 23-year-old Chad Lussier already pled not guilty to robbing the TD Bank in Enosburg in January. Now federal prosecutors are accusing him of 4 more Franklin County bank robberies dating back to September 2009. Each count could bring 20-years in prison and a quarter million dollar fine.

U.S Senator Bernie Sanders says the recently passed Health Care Reform bill will help 8 federally funded Health Care Centers here in Vermont. Sanders said he helped add to the bill an increase of $12.5-Billion over 5 years for federally qualified health centers. Some 108,000 Vermonters currently are patients of the 8 federal qualified health centers around the state.

A Plattsburgh man, who has been behind bar for more than 20 years was denied parole for the 9th time. 39-year-old Michael Murphy is serving 9-years-to-life for killing 10-year-old Andrew Pitkin in 1984. Murphy was 14 at the time, and said he was angry because Pitkin had kicked his dog. Pitkin was found in a wooded area in Valcour; stabbed more than 30 times.

State lawmakers are considering a ban on felt-soled waders, which critics say help spread invasive species and disease between waterways. The proposal has cleared the House and the state Senate is now taking up the proposal. Manufacturers are already working up alternatives that don't use felt -- which gives fishermen better traction.

Students graduating from St. Michael's College will be going green this year. All 550 graduating students will be wearing robes made by a company called Green Weaver. The fabric is made from 100-percent recycled plastic bottles. The green gowns cost about the same as the traditional kind and the college intends on recycling unwanted gowns for the next graduating class.

This Thursday and Friday will be Street Sign Amnesty Days in Plattsburgh. It’s a chance for residents and students, who have stolen streets signs from the Plattsburgh Area, to return them without any penalties, no questions asked. After April 16, all violators will be prosecuted.

Monday, April 12, 2010

WVTK Local & State News April 12, 2010

Explosives broke up remaining chunks of the Champlain Bridge Friday. They blasted away underwater sections of a concrete pier to clear a channel. According to the New York Department Of Transportation they on schedule to have the entire bridge removed by the deadline of June 1st. Workers returned Saturday to break up another pier with more dynamite. Construction on a new span is scheduled to begin later in the Spring.

Vermont Fire officials say a Dump Truck fire in Middlebury was arson. A neighbor saw and reported the fire Saturday at Champlain Construction on Route 7. No one was hurt in the fire. The damage is estimated at about $12,000.

A Brandon man has died from injuries he sustained when the ATV he was riding went off a cliff last week. Police say 32-year-old Paul Pidgeon of Brandon was riding with a friend near the quarries along Route 7 when he drove off a 30-foot ledge. Police said alcohol, drugs and speed were not factors in the crash.

There may not be a consensus about what should be done with a 14-acre farm in the center of Pittsford but there was general agreement Saturday that the community should make the decision. 

 No headway was made toward determining future use of the Forest Farm on Route 7, but residents appeared to favor the purchase of the property, which a local non-profit volunteer group has an option to buy for $650,000 spread over a three years.

Attorney General William Sorrell says he's concerned that a pattern of cases involving alleged criminal conduct by police might be undermining Vermonters' trust in their police departments. That's why Sorrell is launching a criminal investigation in a case involving a Rutland police officer who allegedly used a pepper-ball riot-control gun to subdue an unruly prisoner, as he stood shackled in a holding cell New Year's Day. The officer, Michael Nesshoever, resigned last month.

Williston Police are on the lookout for a suspicious male. On Thursday, April 1st, police say a male in his late 40’s or early 50’s with a graying beard and straggly hair was watching children near the tennis courts in the Southridge Development. Just a few days later, a man matching the same description, jumped out of the bushes at 2 elementary school girls on the bike path behind Central School.

Governor David Paterson proposed starting a new program called the 'Silver Alert'. New York would become the 12th state to adopt the Silver Alert system. That means if a senior citizen or someone considered mentally disabled goes missing, it would immediately be broadcast like an Amber Alert to police departments, on highway billboards, and at airport and bus terminals.

The South Burlington Police Department is looking for a wheelchair that was stolen Saturday Night from the University Mall. The 6-wheeled red Jazzy wheelchair, which has a tan leather captain's chair and right-side control panel, was stolen after its owner was taken to Fletcher Allan Hospital. If you have any information, please call the South Burlington Police Department.

The Vermont Department of Health is urging the state's residents to take simple actions that can help prevent them from developing diabetes. Public health officials have seen the prevalence of obesity climb slowly but steadily among middle-aged Vermonters. People at the highest risk for diabetes are overweight or inactive.

The administration of Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss is not commenting on the resignation of veteran city employee Ben Pacy. Pacy oversaw city elections and has served as assistant Chief Administrative Officer under Jonathan Leopold. Pacy served most of his career in the Parks Department before getting a major promotion. His resignation is effective in June.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is trying to get the federal government to prohibit airlines from charging a fee for carry-on baggage. He is making a personal plea to the Treasury Department to rule that carry-on bags are a necessity for travel, which would make them exempt from a separate fee outside the ticket price.

Vermont ice cream entrepreneurs Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are backing legislation that would allow corporations to write a social mission into their legal charters. The two say if such a law had been enacted a decade ago, they might not have had to sell their Ben & Jerry's ice cream company to European conglomerate Unilever.

Spring skiing officially came to a close Sunday, despite many ski resorts already shutting down for the season. Stowe Mountain Resort made Sunday their final day of the season, which attracted a flurry of last-minute skiers, some decked out in costumes. Ski resorts say this is one of the shortest seasons in years. At Stowe, it only lasted 127 days, nearly a month less than the average.

Friday, April 9, 2010

WVTK Local & State News April 9, 2010

Explosives will once again be used on the former Crown Point Bridge. Underwater sections of two concrete piers are set to be blown-up today at 2 PM. Transportation officials say that if the piers can't be blown up today, they'll try tomorrow. The ferry service between Crown Point and Chimney Point will be briefly suspended during the explosion.

More layoffs are coming this month at the Pfizer research facility in Chazy. 25 employees were let go on Wednesday; another 16 will be let go on April 23, followed by about 30 more in May. Employees at Chem Development in Rouses Point and at Clinical Packaging in Plattsburgh are expected to remain at work until the fall.

The group that plans to give Pittsford a town green hopes to dispel some misconceptions Saturday. The Pittsford Community Corporation will hold a public forum from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Lothrop School Gym. The organization hopes to turn a 14-acre farm off Route 7 into a town center and has been collecting feedback from the public on the development.

Vermont game wardens say they caught two Addison County men with 14 trophy-sized northern pike that they illegally caught in a tributary of Lake Champlain in Panton. Officials say many fish species travel up river and streams in the spring, and officers have increased patrols around dams and culverts where they are often found in large numbers.

Frustrated with the pace of progress on a jobs bill, Governor Jim Douglas is lashing out at lawmakers. Douglas called on lawmakers to pass the bill back in January. Almost all of the $81.7million dollars is federal money, part of the recovery act. Douglas says it could end up creating hundreds of jobs. The jobs bill is now set to pass next Tuesday.

Senators voted 28-2 Wednesday to hire consultants to design a new health care model for Vermont, one of which would include a single-payer system. Approval of the bill is a victory for Sen. Doug Racine, D-Chittenden, the chairman of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, who made it his goal this year to set Vermont on a path to a new health care system.

A Pennsylvania man is facing a number of charges after leading police on a high-speed chase. The chase was on after police received a report that a stolen vehicle that contained stolen weapons, and a woman who had possibly been kidnapped was in the area. The chase came to an end when 30-year-old Alvin Heller crashed into another car near St. Michael’s College on Route 15 in Colchester. Both drivers were treated for minor injuries. Police later determined the woman was not kidnapped.

The Plattsburgh City School District has approved a budget for next school year. As of now, there are no program cuts, but the board did eliminate funding for the GED course. School board members will have to wait till July to find out how much funding they will receive from the state. That will determine the number of layoffs.

Environmental groups on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border are teaming up to study the impacts of Hydro-Quebec. They also want to try to determine if importing power from Canada discourages the development of renewable energy in New England and New York.

Four state senators are pushing for the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant to be relicensed by the state. The senators cite a report that says allowing the plant to operate after its license expires in 2012 will be good for jobs and the overall economy.

Voters in Essex Junction have rejected a local option sales tax. The local option would have added an extra 1-percent tax on retail sales as well as rooms, meals, and alcohol. Voters did however approve the municipal budget of just over $3-million.

State Police are warning drivers in the greater Keeseville area to lock their cars. Authorities say several cars in the village and as far away as Port Douglas have been broken into. They advise drivers to lock their cars and not to leave wallets, purses or other valuables in their vehicles.

Four Vermont senators say their colleagues in Montpelier should take into consideration a report that says re-licensing the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is the smartest course for the state, from an economic standpoint. The report says allowing Vermont Yankee to continue operations and adopting a renewable energy policy will lead to the best result for jobs and the economy.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

WVTK Local & State News April 8, 2010

It's stood for 200 years, but it only took hours to destroy, as the historic Newton Academy building in Shoreham went up in flames. It happened early yesterday morning, when lightning struck at about 12:30. Witnesses say flames leaped 200 feet in the air, and could be seen for miles. Newton Academy, which first opened its doors in 1810, was the second oldest secondary school still standing in Vermont. It started out as a private school, and then went public until it finally closed in 1969. In recent years, it was a preschool and the only medical clinic in the village. Destroyed in the fire were medical records for nearly two-thousand patients. There had been a major push to renovate the building, with the first round of repairs finished, and the next phase set to begin.

A debate is under way in Montpelier over whether Vermont should go along with New York State and negotiate a master labor agreement with unions for the Crown Point Bridge project. Several contractors said that if the states insist on mostly union labor for the job, they'll get fewer bids and less competition will drive up costs. The project goes out for bid next week.

The Rutland Police officer at the center of an investigation in may be out of job. The Rutland Board of Civil Authority met last night to decide whether to fire Sergeant David Schauwecker. The Board made a decision last night but has decided not to release anything till they notify Schauwecker of there decision.

A commercial building went up in flames yesterday morning in Rutland Town. Firefighters were called to Townline Road off Route 4 around 5 a.m. They found the shed behind the Outdoors in Motion shop engulfed in flames. The building was used to store motorcycles, snowmobiles and ATVs. It was also the home of Vermont Vapor, a company that makes electronic cigarettes. State fire investigators were called in to help determine the cause. A hazmat team was called to the site to clean up liquid nicotine.

State officials are warning you to beware of health insurance scams. Since the health care bill passed, there's a lot of confusion as to what exactly it is. Officials say there’s nothing anyone needs to do right now, no one needs to change their coverage. If you suspect fraud or have any questions, you should contact the Vermont's Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities & Health Care Administration or BISHCA. There website is

The Vergennes Post Office is offering a special pictorial postmark on April 24 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. To mark the occasion, Troop 539 is hosting a Centennial Camporee at Button Bay State Park. The 3-day even will take place from Friday April 23 through Sunday, April 25. The Vergennes Post Office will participate on Saturday, April 24 with a temporary postal station which will allow scouts, leaders, and visitors to obtain a unique postmark documenting the occasion.

Vermont's primary election is going to be held on August 24th this year instead of mid-September. Governor Jim Douglas disagrees with the legislation but allowed it to become law without his signature. Douglas says holding the election before Labor Day, will result in a lower voter turnout because of summer vacations.

Central Vermont Public Service has made a listing of the most trustworthy companies in the country. Forbes Magazine compiled the list of companies that have demonstrated integrity and transparency at a time when Americans are increasingly concerned about corporate corruption and greed. Only a handful of companies of any size scored higher than CVPS.

The Plattsburgh City School Board will meet tonight to discuss and adopt next year’s school budget. Board members will be in executive session from 6 to 6:30 before the public session starts. The meeting is being held at the Duken Building and is open to the public.

The Peru Central School District now has a spending plan for next school year. The school is facing a nearly $2 million reduction in state aid. The budget plan does not call for cutting any core programs or extra-curricular activities at the school. But it does trim spending on all programs. Voters next month will vote on the over $42-million budget.

Police are investigating 2 abduction attempts in as many days. Investigators say a 9-year-old girl was approached by a man outside her home in Fairfax Tuesday Night. Last night, a teenage girl in Williston was approached by a man with a similar description. In both cases, the man was asking the girls to help find a missing dog. Police are unsure if the 2 cases are connected.

A large sinkhole on Pine Street in Burlington forced officials to reroute traffic most of the day yesterday. The hole was discovered between Main and King Streets early yesterday morning. Burlington Police closed off the section of road so Public Works could work on the problem. Officials say a leaky sewer pipe washed away the dirt causing the pavement to collapse.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it will increase inspections at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Officials are increasing the inspections due to recent radioactive leaks at the plant and misstatements by Vermont Yankee executives to state officials. The agency will bring on extra inspectors to make sure the leaks are stopped and cleaned up.

New charges have been filed against 51-year-old Robert Kolibas. The Williston man now faces 2 charges of possessing child pornography. Kolibas opted not to enter a plea yesterday. Instead, he will be back in court tomorrow to answer to the new charges. The new charges could put Kolibas behind bars for 4 years.

A pair of federal grants will fund several projects at the Plattsburgh International Airport. New York's Congressional Delegation worked to obtain $3.6 million to renovate airport hangars, replace the outdated fire-water supply system and install solar panels to cut heating costs. Airport staff says construction on the new projects will start next month.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

WVTK Local & State News April 7, 2010

Charlotte voters have again rejected the school budget. The revised budget of over $7-million was $57,000 lower than the spending plan proposed on Town Meeting Day. The school board will have to look for more cuts and present another budget to the voters. Final school budgets must be sent to the Department of Education by June 30.

45 more Vermont guard members are being deployed over-seas. The air guard's 158th Security Forces Squadron is being sent to Saudi Arabia to help guard military locations. The airmen will be honored in a deployment ceremony tomorrow morning. They will spend a couple weeks training at Fort Bliss in Texas before leaving for the Middle East.

Internet speeds are getting faster in Vermont. Comcast announced the new, faster service yesterday. It’s called “wide-band” and it will deliver speeds of up to 50 MegaBytes-Per-Second. That means you could download an HD movie, which is about 6 GigiBytes, in 16 minutes. Right now the service is available in 29 communities around the state.

Despite the urging of some residents, the city will not try to reverse last week's defeat of three voter-approved charter amendments. City Attorney Andrew Costello said he does not think there's anything the city can do to change the State’s mind or take legal action against the State. On Friday, the House Government Operations Committee unanimously voted "no" on charter amendments that called for 10-year term limits on the mayor and aldermen and would have required all municipal and school employees to begin paying 20 percent of their health care premiums.

Rutland, Barre and other Vermont cities and towns are giving a cool reception to a plan to release prison inmates early to save the state money. The state expects about 270 people convicted of nonviolent crimes to be let out under a bill moving through the Legislature.

There's been a recent increase in child abuse in Vermont. Tuesday, Gov. Jim Douglas proclaimed April Prevent Child Abuse month. Last year, about 740 kids were abused and advocates put out pinwheels on the Statehouse lawn to raise awareness about the problem. Experts say Vermont is seeing a spike in infant homicides. Three of the last five murder victims in Vermont have been babies. Officials say prevention is key and also being watchful and reporting if you see any problems. The state has just launched a new website aimed at helping protect children. There is information on prevention and how to notice something may be wrong. You can visit the website at

A judge has given a mother 2 to 10 years in prison for failing to protect her daughter from sexual assault. The 34-year-old woman pled guilty to allowing men sexually assault her daughter in her Williston home for several years. She was convicted of being an accessory to a sexual assault. The girl, who is now 14, was in court for today's sentencing.

Governor Jim Douglas has declared April, child abuse prevention month. According to Prevent Child Abuse Vermont, Shaken Baby Syndrome is on the rise in Vermont. A recent study found that for every one known case of shaken baby syndrome, there are about 150 cases that go unreported.

The Canadian Dollar is now at par with the U.S. Dollar. And this is welcome news for businesses across the North Country. The favorable exchange rate coincides with a new marketing campaign set to start this month to promote the Adirondack area. Analysts say Canadians should get used to seeing their currency at these levels for some time.

An Essex Junction woman charged with killing her niece will now face first-degree murder charges. Charges have been upgraded for 30-year-old Latonia Congress. Police say she stabbed her 16-year-old niece last October. If convicted, Congress could face 35 years to life in prison. In January, her lawyers rejected a plea deal, offering 25-years-to-life.

A Plattsburgh woman has been sentenced to two years in jail for abusing her infant son. 21-year-old Naomi Mason pled guilty to endangering the welfare of a child. Investigators say Mason, back in December, grabbed her 7-week-old son's arm so hard that it broke. Doctors also discovered several other injuries. The child is in state custody.

Watching the sky yesterday, you may have noticed some unusual sights -- military aircraft closely pursuing other planes. It was part of a training exercise for fighter plane pilots to practice intercepting civilian aircraft. The exercise is part of Operation Noble Eagle, which began after the 9/11 attacks.

UVM Women's Basketball Coach Sharon Dawley has left the Catamounts. She has accepted the head coaching job at the University of Massachusetts. It took Dawley only 7 seasons at UVM to become the program's all-time leader in wins. She also has coached the team to the NCAA tournament the past 2 years

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

WVTK Local & State News April 6, 2010

Until the end of the school year, traffic pattern changes will be in effect in Middlebury on Court Street, Monroe Street, and Charles Avenue. From approximately 2:45–3:30, on days when Middlebury Union High School is in session, there will be no exit from Monroe Street onto Court Street. Vehicles currently using those streets will be required to find alternate routes.

Police in Rutland are still investigating a hit-and-run from over the weekend. Police said a pedestrian was left lying in the road on North Main Street. According to police, the person had non-life-threatening injuries to the head, face and leg. Anyone with information is asked to call 802-773-1816.

The future of the former Brandon High School is in the Development Review Board's hands. The DRB heard recently from developer Frank Briscoe, who wants a renewal of a permit he was previously issued to convert the building into condominiums. The board has 45 days in which to deliberate and make a decision.

Vermonters will get a chance to speak their minds about some changes to the state budget this week. The Challenges for Change Plan outlines $38-million of potential state savings. The plan comes as lawmakers are trying to close an over $150-million budget gap. The public hearing scheduled for tonight from 5 to 7 at the State House in Montpelier.

A statewide local food summit is planned for Saturday in Rutland. Farmers and food producers will get together with restaurant owners and retailers to talk about ways of getting more local products on Vermonters' plates. Up to 500 people are expected to attend the food summit. It's on Saturday beginning at 9:30 at the Rutland Middle School.

The state says the amount of money drug companies spent on buying gifts for Vermont doctors and hospitals is down. Companies spent nearly $2.6 million on gifts in the year ending last July -- down roughly $400,000 from the year before. The level is expected to drop even more now that a law banning most kinds of gifts has taken effect in the state.

A Vermont man was indicted in a Clinton County Court for allegedly committing a series of burglaries across the North Country early this year. 46-year-old Randy Therrien of Milton pled not guilty to each charge in the 14-count indictment, including 9 felonies. A pretrial conference has been scheduled for May 14.

Burlington's mayor delivered his annual State of the City address. The biggest issue the City Council was waiting for Kiss to bring up last night was Burlington Telecom. Instead the mayor spent the first half of the speech discussing the city's recent accomplishments like how fast the city saw 24 new businesses start in the past year along with 17 more expanding.

After Vermont won federal stimulus money to help create a smart grid system last fall, the Vermont Law School is getting a federal grant to research laying the legal groundwork for updating the power grid. Congressman Peter Welch says the South Royalton School will get $450,000 for the research.

Entergy, the company that owns Vermont Yankee has dropped its plan to spin off the plant in Vernon and a number of other nuclear plants into a separate company. The plan has drawn opposition since it was unveiled nearly two years ago. It comes after New York officials voted to reject the plan late last month.

A 43-year-old Milton woman has been sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison after being convicted of trying to hire a hit man to kill her husband so she could collect on his life insurance policy. Police say Rebecca Wetter and her daughter tried to hire a hit man who turned out to be an undercover police officer.

The Department of Environmental Conservation will soon launch its CleanSweepNY program to help business and farm owners properly dispose of pesticides and other chemicals. Collection events will be held in Clinton and Washington counties in early May. CleanSweepNY is not available to homeowners.

Monday, April 5, 2010

WVTK Local & State News April 5, 2010

As a spring groundbreaking on the Lake Champlain bridge project nears, union officials are urging lawmakers to endorse a controversial labor agreement they say will save taxpayer money and ensure good working conditions for Vermont workers. Union officials on hand Friday disputed state claims that the requirements are bad for Vermont. They said that not only will the PLA save nearly $3 million in total project costs; it would also be a boon Vermont workers. A spokeswoman for the New York Department Of Transportation said that the PLA controversy would not postpone the project schedule.

Rutland police are asking for the public's help in learning more about a pedestrian accident early Sunday morning. That happened on North Main Street, where a person was found by police lying in the northbound lane of traffic with head, face and leg injuries. While the injuries are described as being "non-fatal" they're still serious, and no information about the victim or his condition is being released just yet. Rutland police are hoping someone saw what happened, and will contact them.

A plane in the sky over Middlebury State Airport on Friday afternoon was cause for concern for federal aviation officials charged with preventing air attacks. At about 1:30 p.m. Friday, two F-15 fighters under the control of the North American Aerospace Defense Command were directed from the Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, Mass., to the sky over Middlebury, according to a news release from NORAD at the Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. The jets were responding to a "general aviation aircraft that was transmitting a distress transponder code," according to the release. 
But, according to NORAD, the signal was pressed by mistake and the plane landed at the airport before the jets got there.

The Monkton Conservation Commission has won a $150,000 state grant to install culverts under a stretch of Vergennes Road in Monkton to protect salamanders, reptiles and small mammals crossing between a swampy area and the uplands. The project will be the first wildlife-crossing retrofit of a Vermont highway.

Kids who bully other kids online might be facing some real consequences. School leaders want new laws passed to help them combat cyberbullying. There are 2 bills currently moving through the Vermont Legislature. Rules now only allow schools to act if kids are bullied at school. School officials are hopeful it will pass this session.

License plates in New York are getting a new retro-look. Starting this spring, the state will start issuing the new Empire Gold Plates for vehicles in the state. Officials say they will be distributing the Empire White and Blue Plates till their current stock runs out. Empire Gold plates should be available online, by phone and by mail by the end of May.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is going to study the Burlington school district's farm-to-school program. The program works with more than 20 local farmers to purchase fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy products and bread to create meals at schools to feed student. The USDA Farm to School Team will use Burlington as 1 of 15 examples of how to help connect children to their food.

The man accused of killing two people in Dannemora appeared in court Friday, pleading not guilty to additional murder charges at the hearing. Anthony Pavone is charged with murdering Patricia Howard and Tim Carter and leading police on a 3-state search before being found, held-up in a Binghamton hotel room.

The widow of a prisoner of war received her husband's Purple Heart 50 years after his death. The Clinton County Veteran's Office presented the award to Ethyl Dick at a surprise party in Plattsburgh on Saturday. The local widow says she’d like to see more instances were the Purple Heart is awarded to those who die in POW camps.

The U.S. Border Patrol says it's arrested more than 100 people from Haiti for allegedly illegally entering Vermont from Canada since massive earthquake devastated the Caribbean nation. Lawyers assigned to represent the Haitians say they are coming to the U.S. because they are desperate to be with relatives and loved after losing everything in Haiti.

A Vermont State Trooper is recovering after being knocked down by a man on an all-terrain vehicle. State police say Trooper Paul Feeney was trying to stop Jeffrey Bedell for operating the ATV on a public road in Bethel on Friday. Police say Bedell drove away, knocking Feeney down. Police later caught up with Bedell. He will be arraigned today.

A deal between JetBlue Airways and American Airlines designed to give JetBlue a foothold at Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport could have side effects in Vermont. The plan calls for JetBlue to give up 12 roundtrip positions at JFK. JetBlue currently flies 4 flights a day to and from Burlington to JFK. Federal Officials have not yet been approved the deal.

Friday, April 2, 2010

WVTK Local & State News April 2, 2010

The Vermont State Police have increased security around Governor Jim Douglas. Douglas says the heightened security was in direct response to a letter received by governors across the country, demanding their resignations. State Police are not releasing any details about what security measures are being taken.

Businesses in Addison County affected by the closing of the Crown Point Bridge are still waiting for help from Montpelier. Lawmakers promised help in the form of grants and loans from federal stimulus funds but they have been unable to come to a consensus on how they would dispense the money. Some business owners say they will have to close soon if they don’t get help.

Bids are now being accepted for construction of a new Champlain Bridge-- even as haggling continues over labor rules for the project. Transportation officials hope to have construction underway on the new bridge design later this spring. But who will build the bridge and under what rules still must be determined. Last week, Vermont rejected a project labor agreement. Transportation officials are concerned that only companies who use union labor would be able to win contracts for the bridge and most Vermont contractors are non-union.

The House Government Operations Committee is expected to weigh in this morning on three Rutland City charter amendments that, while overwhelmingly approved by voters last month, may pose constitutional questions if ratified by the Legislature. On Town Meeting Day, Rutland voters approved 10-year term limits for the aldermen and mayor and higher health insurance premiums for city and school workers.

Goodrich in Vergennes has just won a $13.6-million contract. The aircraft machinery maker will make its helicopter diagnostic system for the U.S. Navy. It gives technicians feedback on structural performance and rotor function and wear, allowing crews to fix the aircraft before a major problem pops up.

New York is once again issuing state income tax refund checks. Governor David Paterson put the payments on hold so the state would have enough cash on hand to meet its financial obligations. Those who filed their tax returns in late February and in early March were affected by the delay. Payments started going out yesterday.

According to the New York State Department of Labor, About 46,000 New York residents will see the end of their unemployment benefits starting Monday. Locally that breaks down to 139 people in Clinton County, 51 in Essex County and 68 in Franklin County. The Senate failed to extend benefits before starting a 2-week recess.

One of North America's oldest historic sites has a new leader. Beth Hill has been appointed executive director of Fort Ticonderoga. She held a similar role in North Carolina for the past six years at Fort Dobbs, a French and Indian War site. One of Hill's first challenges is to explore whether the Mars Education Center can extend its season or possibly remain open year-round. Hill takes over at Fort Ticonderoga on May 1.

A female corrections officer at the Clinton County Jail is facing charges for allegedly having sexual contact with an inmate. Cheri Evans was arrested yesterday. While authorities are still investigating the case, Evans is not permitted on Sheriff’s Department property. Officials are not releasing any other information.

Federal regulators are trying to downplay health fears involving the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. They told state lawmakers yesterday that none of tritium and other radioactive substances pose a safety or health threat. Officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission were in Vermont to update lawmakers in Montpelier on the status of their investigation.

Vermont State Police say the death of a 5-month old baby in Jeffersonville does not appear to be suspicious. Police say there were called to the home on Upper Pleasant Valley Road Wednesday morning for a 5-month-old boy who was found unresponsive by his mother. Authorities are still investigating the cause of death.

New England is tops in the country when it comes to vaccination rates for swine flu. Both Vermont and Maine were toward the top in vaccination rates. Rhode Island had the highest vaccination rate, at about 39 percent -- three times higher than Mississippi, which had the lowest rate.

Broadband access in Vermont continues to grow, but is still far short of the Governor's 100-percent goal. In 2001, only 9-percent of Vermont households had broadband internet service. Now, 80-percent of Vermont households either have the service or have access to it.