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.