Friday, May 28, 2010

WVTK Local & State News May 28, 2010

The commander of a Vermont National Guard brigade serving in Afghanistan says 5 of his soldiers were wounded in an attack on the Bagram Air Force Base. Colonel Will Roy says one soldier, with non life-threatening injuries, was wounded serious enough to be sent back to the United States for treatment. None of the names have been released.

Weybridge Democrat and member of the Addison County Democratic Committee Spencer Putnam confirmed this week he would make his second bid for the Vermont House. He is hoping to replace current Rep. Christopher Bray of New Haven in the Addison-5 House district that includes Weybridge, New Haven and Bridport.

Two area nonprofits, a local art gallery and the former “first family” of Middlebury College are teaming up to establish a new charity that will help Addison County better react to future human services crises. It’s called the “Addison County Funders’ Collaborative for Emerging Needs” and will be managed by the United Way of Addison County and the Vermont Community Foundation.

This Memorial Day weekend, the Granville board of directors of the Corner School Resource Center will hold its second annual town-wide yard sale and barbecue at the Town Hall, in order to raise funds for the renovation of one of the town’s older one-room schoolhouses. If all goes according to plan, Granville will have a center that serves as a meeting space and a haven for historical research and computer access within five years.

Ferrisburgh selectmen met this week with other officials and members of the town’s historical society to begin talking about the future of the town-owned Union Meeting Hall. The building is showing its age, and selectmen are wrestling with the cost of maintaining it, which is not covered by the rent paid by a church that uses it for weekly worship and other meetings.

Plans to build a new Community College of Vermont campus at the corner of West and Wales streets in Rutland could be ready to move forward in a matter of days. The college, now located on Merchants Row, has been looking for a new home for the last several years. 
The 15-member Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees is meeting June 3 and a decision on a specific property may be made then.

Rutland Town teachers are not ruling out the possibility of a strike, after contract negotiations ended abruptly Tuesday with the School Board imposing an agreement that includes no salary increases on the base for one year. Teachers will meet June 8 to discuss all legal options, including a strike, which is not likely to begin until next year as the last day of school this year is June 16.

Poultney and West Rutland will get new computers and other services as part of a pilot program run by the Vermont Council on Rural Development. The Council announced earlier this month that the towns were two of the 12 chosen to participate in the "e-Vermont Community Broadband Project," a pilot program aimed at helping Vermont towns make better use of the Internet. The two-year program, which will bring in 12 more towns next year, has $3.7 million in funding. Bristol was also chosen to be part of the program.

Rutland Firefighters and AmeriGas technicians conducted a second propane burn at the Asa Bloomer Building yesterday while repairing a faulty release valve on a 2,000 gallon fuel tank. The valve and overfilling of the tank were blamed for a leak earlier this week that forced the evacuation of hundreds of employees from the state and federal offices housed in the building.

Governor Jim Douglas has vetoed the Current Use bill. The Current Use Bill gives tax breaks to people who conserve land. About one-third of all land in Vermont is in the program and it costs the state about $50 million. The bill would have made changes to the program forcing landowners to pay more in taxes.

Governor David Paterson says an agreement has been reached to have all 178 New York State Parks and Historic Sites open for the Memorial Day Weekend. Details on the exact funding are still being worked out. But $11-Million will be set aside for parks and historic sites this year. Legislatures are expected to vote on the agreement today.

A federal judge is expected to make a decision today about New York Governor David Paterson's plan to have 100,000 state workers take one furlough day each week. Earlier this month the court blocked Paterson from enacting the furloughs, which he proposed to help slash the budget. Now the judge will decide whether this approach is "reasonable and necessary."

Vermont officials say damage from late-spring frost is widespread across the state. The Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation have been conducting an aerial survey to determine the extent of the damage. The most notable damage is to sugar maples, but many other tree species are affected, including some balsam fir Christmas trees. State Forest Health Coordinator Barbara Burns says frost damage looks alarming, but she expects trees to recover quickly.

Two Burlington men have been arrested in connection with 2 cow art sculptures being vandalized downtown. Police say 23-year-old Christopher Healy and 21-year-old Christopher Newton tipped over the cow sculptures in front of Leunigs Bistro and Eddie Bauer. Each are estimated to be worth $3,500. Both Healy and Newton will appear in court on June 1.

St. Albans police say they have 3 people of interest in connection with an attempted attack on an elderly woman early Wednesday Morning. According to reports, the 82-year-old woman woke around 2 AM Wednesday to find a strange man in her house demanding money and medications. Police say they've received numerous tips. So far, no arrests have been made.

The Vermont National Guard has a new recruiting office. A special ribbon cutting ceremony was held yesterday in South Burlington at the new location on Williston Road. The guard says recruiting is steady right now. The South Burlington storefront replaces the previous one, at Maple Tree Place.

The Clinton County treasurer has postponed the public tax-foreclosure auction that had been scheduled for Wednesday, June 2. It will instead be held at 11 AM, Wednesday, July 21, at the Westside Ballroom in Plattsburgh. For more information about the auction or buyer's seminar, go to

A Rutland man is going to federal prison for 15 years for shooting a teenage girl. 44-year-old James Aitchison fired 6 shots at a minivan parked on School Street in Rutland 2 years ago, wounding a 17-year-old girl. Aitchison was reportedly there to collect a debt from the girl's brother and says he never saw the girl in the car. She survived.

A new proposed ordinance in Burlington would ban people from sitting on the sidewalks along five streets near the marketplace. Accord to police, its a safety hazard for pedestrians having to walk around those sitting on Pearl, Cherry, College, Bank, and parts of Main Street closest to the marketplace. The proposed ordinance is now under review by a city committee.

This Sunday it’s the 22-annual Key Bank Vermont City Marathon. Travel around the city will be tricky on Sunday Morning. During the marathon a number of streets will be closed and parking will be prohibited. You can find a list of all the street closures and traffic advisories at The marathon starts Sunday Morning at 8:03 sharp.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

WVTK Local & State News May 27, 2010

Violent storms with damaging winds, hail and lightning rolled across northern Vermont last night, leaving more than 13-thousand homes in the dark. Hardest hit was Colchester, with a lightning bolt striking the Colchester Rescue station. One member of the department was hit, and rushed to a hospital. Trees were down across the city, while a transformer was reported on fire and power lines were seen arcing. In Burlington, more power lines were down and arcing, as well as in Shelburne, with Richmond, Ferrisburgh and Vergennes reporting trees and power lines down.

Construction of the new Champlain Bridge will keep a United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla busy this summer. There will be patrols on Lake Champlain every weekend throughout the summer. The intent is to lend assistance and promote safe passage through the congested area and answer any questions regarding traffic. Boaters should expect delays in the area because of the construction and the operation of two vehicle ferries. The Crown Point-based flotilla will also present a safe boating class June 19 at the Ticonderoga Elks.

Nearly 300 teachers and professional staff in Rutland will get a 3 percent raise each year until 2012 and will be able to choose another perk to make up for the pension money they lost as a result of the city Pension Board's latest action. The Rutland School Board solidified a new three-year contract with the Rutland Education Association Tuesday night.

The town of Moriah water department will shut the water off on the Moriah Road on Wednesday, June 2, 8 a.m. to noon to install a fire hydrant. Water may be cloudy when it comes back on; residents can run their outside hose until water clears.

Governor Jim Douglas has signed the biggest transportation in Vermont history. The bill includes about $182 million in state funding, $275 million in regular federal funding and $80 million in federal stimulus funds. Among other things, it calls for $113 million worth of major rehabilitation and maintenance work on Vermont bridges.

Vermont state employees in Rutland were back at work yesterday, one day after a propane leak prompted the evacuation of a state office building. The Bloomer office building and nearby businesses were evacuated Tuesday afternoon. Officials said the underground leak was temporarily repaired around 2 a.m. Wednesday and more permanent repairs will be made soon.

A Boy Scout camp in Eden Mills will reopen this summer after officials say asbestos contamination was removed from the property. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says crews have been working since samplings taken in 2009 showed the potential for asbestos in the buildings and property of the Mt. Norris Boy Scout Reservation.

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant automatically shut down yesterday afternoon following some problems. At that time, the plant was at 70 percent of its normal output, coming on line earlier in the week after a refueling and maintenance outage, which started in mid-April. Spokesman Laurence Smith says no radiation has been released, and as soon as the problem is identified and repairs made, the plant will re-start.

Police in St. Albans are looking for the man who broke into an elderly woman's early yesterday morning. She was in bed around 2 AM when the man broke in and demanded money and medication. The 82-year-old faked a heart attack and was able to escape to a neighbor’s house. Police say the man is a large, heavy, older man with some facial hair, possibly a beard.

City of Plattsburgh Officials has opened the beach gates. The beach does not officially open until June 23, but with the recent heat wave, hundreds of people have been flocked to the beach to cool down. Officials say they are treating it like a park right now, the picnic area and the sand is open but the water is not.

It looks like lawmakers and Governor David Paterson are close to having a deal in place to open all the state parks and historic sites. Paterson said yesterday afternoon that no deal has been sealed, but he's optimistic. They are hoping to have all 178 state parks open in time for Memorial Day Weekend.

Vermont is 1 of 8 states in talks to launch a pilot program that will allow high school students to graduate after their sophomore or junior year. The program would start in the 2011-12 school year. Students would volunteer to take a series of board exams. If they pass, they're eligible to enroll in community college or start on a career.

Due to a nationwide paint shortage, Vermont crews may wait until mid summer to re-paint faded road markings like crosswalks and turn only arrows. The state is discussing a backup plan if the paint shortage continues through the summer. Meanwhile, VTRANS crews will continue to work on state highway striping because it requires a different paint.

The Downtown Rutland Partnership will sponsor a free public reception tonight from 6 – 8 PM for the Vermont Arts Council exhibit "Art of Action: Shaping Vermont's Future through Art." The art is being exhibited through May 31 at 116 West St. in the Gryphon Building. All the art in the show is on sale. Prints of the artwork can be purchased at tonight's reception. For more information, call the Downtown Rutland Partnership (at 773-9380).

The Crown Point Memorial Day committee has decided to scale back the observance in 2010. The weekend-long carnival has been dropped. The traditional parade, fireworks and cemetery tour remain. The theme of this year's observance will be "Scouting USA," which observes the 100th anniversary of Boy Scouts in the United States. Crown Point Boy Scouts will be in Veterans Park on Sunday, May 30, demonstrating their skills during a public "Fun Day" 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Crown Point's annual Memorial Day parade will begin Monday at 2 p.m. at Ferry Road and proceed north on Main Street, ending at Veteran's Park.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

WVTK Local & State News May 26, 2010

State workers who usually report to the ASA Bloomer Building in Rutland should plan on starting somewhere else this morning. The building was shut down yesterday afternoon due to an underground propane leak. State workers should instead report to the Paramount Theater this morning at 8 for a briefing and alternate work locations.

The Ticonderoga School Board made more cuts to the budget for next year bringing the tax-levy increase down to 4.7-percent. The budget that was defeated a week ago had a tax-levy of 6.5-percent. A public meeting on the proposed budget will be held on June 7 at 7 PM at the High School. Residents will vote on the new spending plan on June 15.

Contract negotiations at Rutland Town School ended yesterday as members of the School Board imposed a one-year contract on teachers, which included step increases, but no overall salary increase. Teachers and the board have deadlocked on the issue of raises since July 2009, when teachers requested a 4 percent increase on the base for one year and board members proposed a salary freeze.

An ad hoc committee formed to overhaul Rutland city's housing policies is recommending at least one new addition to the city's zoning ordinances. The group is not done with its full review of the policies, but through City Attorney Andrew Costello last week recommended that the aldermen tighten an existing housing policy governing the number of unrelated people who can live in a single dwelling, and transform the policy into a zoning ordinance.

A Milton woman is facing a number of charges after leaving her 1 and 2-year-old children alone. Police say 27-year-old Georgia Castleman locked the kids in separate rooms Monday at about 5 PM, and took off for Burlington so she could go tanning and collect a $60 debt. Police were alerted to the situation and they arrived about 90 minutes after Castleman had left. She was not found until after 10 PM.

Select Board members in Fair Haven have asked the Vermont Department of Corrections to let them know when it places furloughed convicts in town. 

All five board members signed a letter asking the department to notify Fair Haven police of all convicts the Field Supervisory Unit places in the town, providing name, date of birth, address, criminal record, terms of supervision and a photograph.

As part of a plea deal, the Ticonderoga Town Highway Superintendent will resign today. At the same time, Pat Morrison is expected to plead of guilty to official misconduct in the Ticonderoga Town Court. Morrison allegedly bought thousands of dollars in unneeded supplies, took gift-card kickbacks, and bought sand from a family member without getting competitive bids.

State lawmakers are confused as to whether they can raise re-election cash. Legislators are barred from raising money from lobbyists while they're in session. The Legislature adjourned two weeks ago, but the body is still waiting for a response on several bills from Governor Jim Douglas. That means the session could technically still be open.

The Vermont Business and Industry Expo 2010 gets underway today at the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center in Burlington. The Expo is a chance for businesses to showcase their products and services and network with other businesses. The Expo gets underway this morning at 10 and runs till 5 PM and tomorrow from 9 to 4.

The LaChute Road Runners Club will again present the Duane Crammond Memorial Scholarship this spring. The $1,000 award will go to a Ti High graduate who participated in varsity cross-country and/or track & field who attends college full-time. The winner, selected by a scholarship committee, will be a person who reflects the strong academic, athletic and character traits of Crammond. Application deadline is June 11.

Ticonderoga Middle School, Crown Point Central School and Willsboro Central School are doing a good job preparing students for college. That's the assessment of a University of Michigan team studying the effectiveness of programs aimed at promoting college education. The Michigan research team was specifically studying the College For Every Student program.

The funding is in place, the environmental permits have been granted from the federal government, and now the City of Burlington is looking to get an ACT 250 permit for the new Champlain Parkway or the so-called Southern Connector. A public meeting was held last night with a presentation. 3 more public meetings will take place; the next is tonight at 6:30 at City Hall.

Due to advances in technology, 23 people are being laid-off at Fletcher Allen Health Care. A spokesman for the hospital say the 23 medical transcriptionists, some who are full and part time, are no longer need because of advances in speech recognition software and electronic record keeping. The layoffs will take effect on June 25.

Vandals have once again hit the Burlington Salvation Army. Monday Night a rock was thrown at the front door breaking the glass. This is the third time in a week that vandals have done damage to the organization. Vandals also hammered out windows on two of the group's vans. Employees say this comes at a time when sales and donations are down and the need is greater.

Police are investigating a break-in at McGregor's Pharmacy in South Hero. Authorities say this is the third time in 6 months that the pharmacy on Route 2 has been broken into. Someone smashed the front door around 3:30 yesterday morning and stole a number of items. If you have any information, please call the Vermont State Police.

The Plattsburgh Fire Department will be flushing more fire hydrants today. This time they will be in Center City Area from 9 this morning till 2 this afternoon. Residents are once again being reminded that the water from their faucets maybe cloudy or rust colored during the hydrant tests.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

WVTK Local & State News May 25, 2010

The Rutland City police sergeant fired last month is taking the city to court to get his job back. Former Sergeant David Schauwecker and his attorney say the city failed to follow its own rules in terminating Schauwecker. They say relying on the Chief of Police's opinion was in violation of a state statute. City officials say they will file a response in opposition.

The town of Middlebury will honor Sonny Cyr’s 42-year career with the Middlebury Department of Public Works. Cyr’s history of dedication and self-sacrifice won him a lot of friends, who mourned his passing in January. Middlebury officials will pay a lasting tribute to Cyr tomorrow at 3 PM when they will officially dedicate the Sonny Cyr Public Works Facility on Route 7 South.

Rutland Police investigating an armed robbery at a Subway restaurant on Woodstock Avenue in March say they uncovered clues that could lead to arrests in similar holdups in New York. Two months after a pair of men robbed the Subway, one of the men allegedly involved pleaded innocent Monday in Rutland District Court to a felony charge of assault and robbery. Rutland Police are still searching for the other robber.

The Vermont Roman Catholic Diocese has found a buyer for the headquarters located on North Avenue in Burlington. Burlington College has signed a purchase and sales agreement to buy the building and 32 acres of land overlooking Lake Champlain. The diocese is selling the property to help pay a settlement for 26 abuse cases.

There’s a new statewide mental health hotline is reaching out to farmers struggling to make sense of extremely low milk prices and the stress that accompanies prolonged economic downturns. The “Farm First” program puts licensed mental health professionals and social workers just a phone call away for Vermont’s farmers. The 24-hour hotline matches farmers dealing with a wide range of problems with professionals in their communities who can help them.

Police across both Vermont and New York have launched a 2-week seatbelt campaign called Buckle Up, Click It or Ticket. For the next 2 weeks, police and other law enforcement agencies will be conducting seat belt checkpoints and increasing their day-to-day enforcement. Officials say in 2008 alone, seat belts saved more than 13,000 lives nationwide.

The Obama Administration will help Massena clean up the old General Motors plant. GM closed the facility last year. $800-million dollars in federal funding is going to various cleanup projects across the nation and it's expected that much of the cleanup costs in Massena will be covered by those federal funds.

A St. Albans teenager has been charged with attacking a homeless woman in broad daylight. Police say 19-year-old Phillip Lacombe assaulted the 58-year-old woman in the Food City parking lot 3 weeks ago. Lacombe is charged with assault and robbery.

The owners of a South Burlington convenience store have reached an out-of-court settlement with the state over a gas leak 4 years ago. Gracey's Store on Williston Road will pay the state $35,000. 4-years-ago, the store had to shut down because of a strong smell of gasoline in the air. They later discovered an underground tank was leaking, contaminating soil and groundwater.

Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin says that if he's elected governor he's going to support small businesses, deliver high-speed Internet and cell phone service to every corner of the state in two years and promote renewable energy. Shumlin kicked off his campaign yesterday.

A family-owned business that started a year ago in Montreal has decided to move to Plattsburgh. Jersey Girl Homemade Flats and Twiggs opened in the Imperial Industrial Park yesterday. The 4 family members work together making flat breads and breadsticks. Right now, their unique breads are sold to mostly to grocery stores and restaurants.

Vermont Yankee is back online. The nuclear reactor in Vernon has been offline since the end of April. The plant shuts down every 18 months for refueling and scheduled maintenance. The plant will take several days to return to full power. Vermont Yankee provides one-third of the state's electricity.

Monday, May 24, 2010

WVTK Local & State News May 24, 2010

570 Students graduated from Middlebury College yesterday. Husband-and-wife journalist team Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn addressed the graduating class of the College. The couple has authored three best-selling books and also received honorary doctor of letter degrees yesterday.

Over the weekend UVM held the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2010 and dedicated its newest building on campus. The James M. Jeffords Building was named in honor of the former Vermont Senator. It’s now the newest home to the Agriculture and Life Sciences Department. The building will begin to house classes this summer.

The town of Fair Haven is offering a reward of $500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the people responsible for a rash of home break-ins and robberies. Police believe more than one person or group is responsible. The board is also open to paying out multiple awards depending on how many people came forward and what information they provide.

Vandals did almost $10,000 in damage to the municipal pool in Proctor this spring, but town officials said the popular summertime site will open on time next month. Vandalism at the pool off Park Street isn't uncommon, but the level of damage done by those who broke into the building used as an office, first aid station and concession stand at the pool exceeded anything the town has seen before. The pool is set to open around June 7th or 8th.

Vermont State Police are still helping to investigate the disappearance of Robert John Servian, a 61-year-old from Sarasota, Fla., who has been missing since April 2. 

Servian's car was found at the Holiday Inn parking lot in Rutland Town on May 3. He was not registered as a hotel guest there. State police have treated Servian's vehicle as a potential crime scene. Servian is described as being 6-feet tall and 210 pounds, with white hair and blue eyes. Anyone who may have information about his disappearance is asked to contact either Vermont State Police or the Sarasota Police Department.

A fire sparked by a barbecue grill destroyed a home in Shelburne. Investigators say the homeowners had used their grill Saturday night, with the fire starting several hours later. The 2 people living there managed to get out okay but the home on Beaver Creek Road is considered a complete loss.

The principal of the Orchard School in South Burlington says his school is ready to help students and families deal with the death of a fellow student when classes resume today. 5-year-old Amelia Sperry died Saturday after being hit by an SUV in a Shelburne neighborhood. Guidance counselors will be on hand to work with the kindergarten students and their families.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has declared that he is running for governor of the state. The Democrat announced his long-anticipated campaign online early Saturday Morning. The son of former New York Governor Mario Cuomo has already raised more money than any of the other candidates. This fall, every state office and both U.S. Senate seats are up for election.

Senior officials in the Paterson Administration say Governor David Paterson will introduce a bill today that will keep all New York Parks and Historic Sites open for the year, including this upcoming Memorial Day weekend. But the Legislature will have to agree to take $6 million from the Environmental Protection Fund to pay for it.

Green Mountain Power has asked Vermont utility regulators to approve a $150 million plan to build up to 21 wind turbines spanning 3.2 miles on a Lowell Mountain ridgeline. The power company says the project will create enough new electricity for 20,000 homes and include upgrades to existing transmission infrastructure and substations.

Vermont's jobless rate dropped slightly for the month of April to 6.4-percent. According to officials the unemployment rated dropped 2-tenths of a percentage point from March to April. Officials say the report for last month shows the job market is improving in Vermont. The numbers across the state range from 4.5-percent in Hartford to 9.7-percent in Newport.

Tuition will be going up for UVM Students next year. The UVM Board of Trustees voted on Saturday to increase the tuition by 4-percent. That means the average undergraduate Vermont Resident will pay over $12,000 this fall while a Non-Resident Student will pay over $31,000. The decision to increase tuition passed by a voice vote without discussion.

A jury has found Joseph McCarthy guilty of manslaughter in connection with the shooting death of his neighbor John Reiss, a retired St. Michaels College Professor. Prosecutors are not sure who fired the fatal bullet but said that McCarthy should be held responsible because it came from his shooting range.

Senator Patrick Leahy is asking for the Morse’s Line Border Crossing Station to be permanently closed. Homeland Security wants to upgrade the seldom-used facility, which would include seizing some valuable farmland from a local farmer. Since only 2 or 3 cars pass though the Port of Entry each hour, Leahy says the money for upgrades can be better spent elsewhere.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand plans to introduce legislation this week to ban drop-side cribs due to fatal accidents. The industry has already started phasing out drop-sides and big retailers have taken them off the selves. The bill would outlaw the manufacture, sale, and resale of all drop-side cribs, and ban them from use at day-care centers and hotels.

This upcoming weekend is not only Memorial Day Weekend, but it’s also the return of the Killington Stage Race. The Killington Stage Race was once one of the biggest bike races in the Northeast. Its been 10 years since the race has taken place. More than 400 riders are expected to compete this upcoming Saturday.

Friday, May 21, 2010

WVTK Local & State News May 21, 2010

Authorities are investigating burglaries at two elementary schools. Vermont State Police say sometime this week, the Ferrisburgh Central School and the Monkton Elementary school were broken into. A number of items were stolen and some damage was done. Police are not sure if the two incidents are connected.

Vermont National Guard soldiers were involved in a violent clash in Afghanistan Wednesday. U.S. forces say Taliban suicide bombers tried to get into Bagram Air Base while other insurgents fired rockets and grenades. Officials say 9 U.S. troops were wounded in the attack, but would not release their names.

Bristol residents in the village police district could see a 12.5 percent hike in the amount to be raised by taxes if the police department’s spending plan is approved on Monday. The proposed police district budget for 2010-2011 is slated for a vote on May 24 at a 7 p.m. meeting at the Bristol Hub Teen Center, where residents will also discuss the town’s water and sewer budgets for the coming fiscal year.

Ferrisburgh selectmen will hold a meeting Monday night to discuss the future of the town-owned Union Meeting Hall. Selectmen are concerned about the condition of the historic building and the increasing cost of maintaining it. The building is now rented for a modest fee to a church, but officials said the income is not enough to pay for building upkeep in the long term.

One of Addison County’s largest farms has secured a $250,000 grant to put toward the construction of an on-farm methane digester to convert manure into electricity. Bristol’s Four Hills Farm received the grant from the Clean Energy Development Fund. It’s part of the $3 million in grants and low-interest loans for 15 Vermont renewable energy projects.

A Rutland Regional Medical Center registered nurse is facing 23 felony criminal charges and could lose her professional license for allegedly stealing painkillers from the hospital on more than 30 occasions. Jessica K. Larson of Fair Haven, was due in Rutland District Court Monday to answer 23 charges of prescription fraud. She failed to appear, prompting the Judge to issue a warrant for her arrest with bail set at $750.

A house fire on River Street in Rutland yesterday morning is being considered a suspicious blaze by state police fire investigators. The fire was mostly contained to the dining room where the it started, but the chief said damage from smoke, heat and water spread out from there. Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact the police of the Vermont Arson Tip Award Program.

Vermont Technical College in Randolph has scheduled a daylong symposium June 4th to focus on energy efficiency in historic buildings. Organizers say the gathering is for owners and managers of historic properties, energy efficiency practitioners and renewable energy installers.

It was once the biggest bike race in the Northeast, and now the Killington Stage race is back. The race folded in 2000, but now has new financial backing. The idea is to use events like it to turn Killington into a four season draw for tourists. Businesses are hoping for a big boost when the race rolls into town Memorial Day weekend. About 400 riders are expected. The race kicks off Saturday the 29th.

Officials say Vermont State Employees have been using the computers for more than just work. An internal Agency of Human Resources document says a number of employees have been using state computers to bid on items on eBay, watch sporting events, as well as visiting other websites. The state will soon be installing a monitor system on all state computers.

By the end of next month you will be able to fly nonstop from Plattsburgh to Boston. Starting June 24, there will be 3 flights a day during the week, and 2 flights a day on the weekends. Colgan Air, which operates U.S. Airways will make the trips with a plane that seats 34-passengers. You can book your tickets now through U.S. Airways.

The State of New York is opening dozens of campgrounds today in the Adirondack and Catskill parks for the summer season. But 2 popular local recreation sites are not among those. Point au Roche State Park in Beekmantown and Macomb State Park in Schuyler Falls were placed on a closure list by Governor David Paterson and will not be opening this year.

15 people are facing drug charges after police broke up a major drug ring in Burlington. Investigators say during one 60-day period of the investigation alone, the group purchased or sold over 4,000 Oxycontin pills with a street value of over $300,000 in the Burlington area. Police say 29 year-old Larry Bushey Jr. of Burlington is the alleged ringleader.

A man already in jail and charged with the kidnapping and murder of his 12-year-old niece, Brooke Bennett, may be facing more charges. Federal prosecutors say in a new court filing that Michael Jacques of Randolph, from behind bars, planned a series of e-mails, which were supposed to appear they were from a sex ring. The court filing says a friend of Jacques in Arizona was supposed to send the e-mails but cooperated with authorities instead.

The painting that was stolen from the Courtyard Marriot in Burlington 2 weeks ago, has been returned. Burlington Police say someone dressed in all dark clothing placed the painting at the front door early Wednesday Morning and then ran. The painting, that was taken on May 5, appears to not have any damage.

Police in Burlington are investigating vandalism at Perrywinkle's Jewelry on Main Street. According to police, a surveillance camera caught a man hurling a rock through the store's front window. The vandal is described as having a medium build and brown hair. Nothing was taken from the store. Police say it's clear from the video if anyone witnessed the crime.

A Satellite drifting in space might disrupt a number of cable and television stations on Sunday. Galaxy 15 was knocked out of its orbit by a solar storm and is predicted to drift dangerously close to AMC 11. AMC 11 carries a number of channels including Discovery, A&E, and The Weather Channel as well as a number of programs aired on the 4 major networks.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

WVTK Local & State News May 20, 2010

Residents in Schroon Lake will vote a second time on the school budget at a special election in June. Meanwhile, no decision has been made in Ticonderoga on a second vote. New York law says a school budget can only be voted on twice. If the second budget gets defeated, the district must then adopt a spending plan within state parameters.

Authorities are warning you to be on the lookout for a nationwide phone scam that has started to target Vermonters. The phone scam works like this ... someone calls you saying they are from a magazine company and that you owe them money. They then proceed to try to get your address and credit card information. Police say you report any suspicious calls you receive.

Vermont Agency of Agriculture officials announced the beginning of a new benefit for dairy producers called Farm First. In addition to providing confidential consultation and counseling, the first of its kind program also provides current information and referrals to farmers who work day and night to keep their dairy farms running.

Police have arrested a Rutland man for allegedly robbing a convenience store last week. Authorities say 20-year-old Jeffery Bussino held-up the Midway Mobil at gunpoint last Tuesday. When the cash drawer wouldn't open, police say Bussino took the whole register. Bussino was identified from store surveillance videos.

A developer made his opening pitch to the town of Fair haven on Tuesday for a project he says will create hundreds of jobs in the region. Beaver Wood Energy outlined its proposal to build a 29-megawatt biomass plant off Route 4. They are seeking to build a similar plant in Pownal. The company is still working on financing and has letters of intent from five utilities to negotiate to buy the power.

Vermont's largest electric utilities now have the approval necessary to buy power from a large new wind farm in northern New Hampshire. It's going to be about two years before the 99-megawatt Granite Mountain Wind Project will be built in New Hampshire's Coos County, complete with 33 turbines. Central Vermont Public Service and Green Mountain Power will buy half of the power generated. GMP is also trying to build its own wind farm in Lowell, and both utilities are working on plans for long-term hydropower from Quebec.

Following last week's meeting with local businesses in the Moon Brook watershed, the mayor and city engineer will meet with attorneys from the Conservation Law Foundation next Friday. Mayor Christopher Louras said he requested the meeting as an opportunity to share with the city's argument that temperature and not storm water, as the state contends, is what's keeping aquatic life out of Moon Brook.

The museum at the Stephen A. Douglas Birthplace in Brandon will hold a soft opening tomorrow, debuting several displays on different aspects of Brandon's history. Born in Brandon in 1813, Douglas trained in the area as a cabinetmaker before leaving for Illinois in 1833. The Brandon Area Chamber of Commerce is still looking for volunteer staff and that anyone interested should contact the chamber.

Officials are trying to prevent a nuisance species from entering Lake Champlain. 

The spiny water flea reproduces at such a high rate that it can wreck fishing lines and displace native species. 

The creature has been found in a New York lake. Officials had worried that the flea would float 60 miles into Lake Champlain but a study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Vermont has found that it's more probable it will reach Lake Champlain on boats that are not being cleaned.

Groups supporting changes to the state's current use tax program say they want to keep the program sustainable and maintain public acceptance of it. The Vermont League of Cities and Towns is urging Governor Jim Douglas to sign legislation officials have said is likely to be vetoed.

The Vermont Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for its 26th annual Business and Industry EXPO. This year the chamber expects more than 200 exhibitors and more than 3,000 attendees. The EXPO is next Wednesday and Thursday at the Sheraton Hotel in South Burlington. Register online by tomorrow and admission is free.

About 4 dozen employees are out of work, at least temporarily, at the Via Cheese plant in Swanton. Little is known about the plant closure other than word from the plant manager is that Via Cheese is going though a financial restructuring. The closure is raising questions about a community block grant loaned to the company for upgrades from the Town of Swanton last year.

Businesses from around the region will be coming together today for the annual Business Expo in Plattsburgh. The Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce will be hosting the 22nd annual event at the Plattsburgh State Field House again this year. The expo is a chance for participants to meet the people they do business with on a daily bases.

The State of Vermont plans to release 90 inmates who are currently serving time behind bars for non-violent crimes. Officials say they're people who have been convicted of things like property damage or driving with a suspended license. The plan is for the inmates to be released as beds become available in transitional programs throughout the state.

The City of Plattsburgh Fire Department will be flushing out more fire hydrants today. Between 9 and 2 today they will be inspecting the hydrants on the South Side of the City. While they are flushing the water though each hydrant, the pressure will stir up sentiment in the system. Residents may notice cloudy or rust colored water.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

WVTK Local & State News May 19, 2010

People working at Pfizer in Rouses Point got some good news, the plant might not be closing at the end of the year after all. Another drug maker, Acrimax, leases part of the factory. Pfizer is in talks with Acrimax to continue drug production in Rouses Point through 2011. Pfizer did say that they plan to close the plant in 2015, as part of a worldwide restructuring of the company.

Three Chittenden County Communities voted on school spending plans yesterday. Residents in Colchester and Charlotte passed their school budgets while voters in Westford defeated their spending plan. Voters in Westford had passed the school budget on Town Meeting Day but residents signed a petition to re-vote on the budget. This time it failed.

Even though Governor David Paterson predicted most school budgets would get turned down due to cuts in state aid and tax increases, most school spending plans passed in the North Country. In fact, only 3 were defeated ... Schroon Lake, St. Regis, and Ticonderoga. Many of the budgets that passed included increases in the tax-levy and a number of cut positions.

The list of those running for Lieutenant Governor is starting to get pretty long. There are now four major-party candidates, including State Representative Steve Howard, who kicked off his campaign yesterday. Howard says he has the backing of 30 current and former lawmakers. He'll go on to face another Representative, Chris Bray, in the Democratic Primary in August.

Marble Valley Regional Transit is increasing advertising rates on the sides of its busses in an effort to make up a $46,100 deficit created at town meeting when Rutland voters decided not to finance the organization. Eighty percent of their funding comes from federal money administered by the state and the remaining local match can come from organizational revenue, municipal funds or private donations.

Questions of health care reform, education spending and economic recovery dominated a two-hour gubernatorial debate between the five Democrats seeking the state's highest office yesterday evening at Rutland Free Library. The debate sponsored by the Rutland County Democrats was the first of its kind in the county this primary season and more than 100 residents turned out.

For the second month in a row, Vermont State revenues for the month of April were slightly ahead of projections. General fund revenues were nearly $135 million for April, about $9.5 million ahead of the expectations laid out in January by two economists who consult with the Legislature and the administration of Governor Jim Douglas.

Google made two stops in Vermont Tuesday-- at Essex Middle School and at Christ the King School in Rutland-- to congratulate two of the finalists in their national competition that will put one doodler's dream on display for all Googlers. The two Vermont girls' doodles were selected from thousands of applicants and although there can only be one winner, they've all won a spot at the Smithsonian. Esa Anderson and Grace Schonberg will join the top 40 doodlers in New York on May 26 where the group will then be narrowed down to four finalists and the winner will be chosen. The winner will get a $15,000 scholarship, $25,000 for their school and the chance to see their doodle displayed on the Google homepage for a day, for the world to see.

A company that makes specialty bikes and apparel for woman has moved its headquarters from Rochester, New York, to Burlington. The owner of Terry Precision Cycles says the decision to move was based on lifestyle appeal. The company now employs 16 people on Maple Street, with manufacturing operations in Washington State.

The trial of a man accused in the 2008 shooting death of a former St. Michael's College professor is underway. Retired professor John Reiss was hit by a bullet fired at a backyard shooting range. Today, the jurors will visit the scene. Police say Joseph McCarthy set up the range. Several people were shooting guns at the time. It’s unclear who fired the shot that hit Reiss.

Burlington Telecom has once again missed a quarterly payment on its outstanding debt. When BT missed its February payment, the lender drew those funds out of a $1 million escrow account created by BT when it took out the $33-Million loan. City officials plan to meet with City Leasing before the end of May.

A new report shows Vermont 4th grades are some of the most proficient readers in the country. The report ranks Vermont 3rd in the nation which means 75-percent of 4th grades are at or above the basic expectation for reading skills. The report also had some disturbing news; it showed a number of children from low-income families are failing in basic reading skills.

A controversial halfway house will open in downtown Burlington thanks to new support from the City Council. The Council drafted a memorandum of understanding with Phoenix House that will allow the project to continue. Phoenix House plans to open the home on Elmwood Avenue in the fall. It will house 20 people with substance abuse issues.

If you felt the ground moving yesterday morning, you went alone. The US Geological Society has confirmed that a 2.8 magnitude earthquake struck Northern New York at 7:55 yesterday morning. Officials say the epicenter of the earthquake was located 8 miles Northwest of Malone and 3 mile below the surface.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

WVTK Local & State News May 18, 2010

The Addison County Economic Development Corporation has received $800,000 in funds to lend out to businesses that were negatively impacted by the closure of the Champlain Bridge. Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $25,000 and can be borrowed for up to 10 years. The program is scheduled to end October 31st. If you would like more information or a loan application just visit Addison County E-D-C Dot Org.

Voters in Colchester, Westford and Charlotte will go to the polls today to decide on next year's school budget. Colchester, Westford, and Charlotte are among 14 towns that did not pass a school budget on Town Meeting Day. For residents in Colchester, this will be the 3rd try to pass a spending plan. Polls in all 3 towns are open till 7 tonight.

Voters across the state of New York will go to the polls today to decide on whether schools can move forward with their proposed budgets. Many school districts have had to make a number of cuts, including staff, due to proposed cuts in state aid. Even if the budgets are passed, school districts will still have to wait to see exactly how much funding they'll be getting from the state.

A consultant and a local biomass study committee will look at the feasibility of dividing Middlebury into five separate energy districts, with the concept of each having a communal woodchip heating plant. They have been working since last year to see if Middlebury has the potential to establish one or more biomass plants to provide a cost-effective, renewable energy alternative for local businesses that now rely on imported fossil fuels for heating.

During a City Council meeting last week Vergennes Alderman David Austin suggested that the city look into forming an economic development committee that could work to improve the area’s business climate and offer support and information to potential new ventures.

Governor David Paterson says he may have to layoff some state workers as the budget crisis continues. Negotiations for next year's budget have stalled, but Patterson has called for a meeting today. He predicts a number of school budgets will be defeated because of the uncertainty in state funding. Paterson said there's no plan for layoffs yet, but there is talk in his administration.

South Burlington Police say a traffic stop on Saturday Night has lead to break up a marijuana trafficking ring. Police stopped a car leaving a local hotel on traffic violations and found a number of drugs. Police then searched the hotel room and found even more illegal drugs. 4 people are now in custody answering to the charges.

The Vermont Health Department is urging people to be aware of deer ticks. Officials say the tiny insects can carry Lyme Disease. The number of Lyme disease cases in the state has tripled since 2006. They say, if you spend any amount of time in grassy areas, you should check yourself for ticks.

A woman charged with first-degree murder for stabbing her niece entered a plea of not guilty. Police say Latonia Congress killed 16-year old Shatavia Alford last year in their Essex Junction apartment. According to reports, the two were fighting over laundry when the argument turned deadly. Congress faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

New York State is closing 55 parks and historic sites as the budget crisis continues. The legislature has approved restoring the funding for the sites but has yet reached an agreement on next year's budget with the governor. The closures impact 3 local sites: the John Brown Farm, the Macomb Reservation State Park, and Point Au Roche State Park.

12 towns across Vermont are getting grants for broadband service. The towns, selected from over 40 applicants, will receive digital tools and in-depth training as the first participants in the new e-Vermont Community Broadband Project. The towns include ... Brighton, Bristol, Canaan, Cambridge, Grand Isle County, Ludlow, Middlesex, Newport, Poultney, Pownal, Sunderland, and West Rutland.

State lawmakers eager to hit the campaign trail may have to wait a couple more weeks due to a technicality. Because technically, the legislature is still in until June 9. Lawmakers left the door open to return on June 9, if Governor Douglas decides to veto any of the bills on his desk. Lawmakers are bound to fundraising restrictions until the legislative session officially ends.

Middlebury College is hoping to heat the campus with methane created by cow manure. The college would essentially purchase the bio-methane from Montpelier-based Integrated Energy Solutions, if the company is able to put production facilities on Addison County farms. The farmers would get the fertilizer and bedding also produced from the manure.

The Central Vermont Public Service Corporation says it's going to protect the environment by requiring crews to use biodegradable chain saw oil. The utility says it's the first in the country to stop using traditional bar & chain oil made from fossil fuels.

Thousands of non-profit organizations across the country could lose their tax exemptions. For many, a simple change in the way they file forms with the IRS could put many out of business. If organizations don't file on time they lose their tax-exempt status, which could be disastrous for about 200,000 non-profits nationwide. Those that miss the deadline could wait months before their tax exempt status can be restored.

Monday, May 17, 2010

WVTK Local & State News May 17, 2010

The Vermont Legislature will have a different look next session. At least 12 veteran Vermont lawmakers will not be returning to their seats in the state House and Senate next year. 5 House members have announced their retirement; 2 more are running for lieutenant governor. 5 Senator are also leaving to run for higher offices.

Governor Jim Douglas has appointed a new commissioner for the Forest, Parks, and Recreation Department. Sarah Clark, who was the department's financial manager, will be the new commissioner, replacing Jason Gibbs. Gibbs stepped down Friday to become a Republican candidate for Secretary of State.

The Vermont Youth Conservation Corps will be providing educators this summer to help provide environmental programming in the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area in Goshen. The five park educators will be working in the recreation area and the Branbury State Park. The educators will hike the trails to collect information and to speak with other hikers.

At the commencement exercises Saturday, Castleton State College President David S. Wolk shared some good news. He announced that the school would receive a $400,000 federal grant to initiate a nursing program. Castleton has offered an associate's degree in nursing for almost 50 years. However they will also be offering a bachelor's degree in nursing. Earlier this year the college announced it would launch a four-year nursing degree program.

Visitors to hockey games, concerts, graduations and other big events will soon have a sign directing them to Spartan Arena, Rutland County's largest venue. The sign will be placed at the entrance of the Castleton State College facility at the intersection of Routes 4 and 7, facing the bypass. The arena is out of the way and has been hard to find. But thanks to new legislation, the sign will be highly visible at the Rutland Town junction.

A historic building in Proctor has recovered from a blaze that closed it last August. The 12-unit senior living facility that's also home to the town's post office and a day care was struck by lightning and caught fire during a violent storm on Aug. 21. Now, the post office and the day care have reopened and 10 of the dozen units on the second and third floors have been filled. For almost 30 years, the building has provided government subsidized affordable housing to seniors.

A mailman in Plattsburgh was jailed on Friday for stealing mail. Police say 52-year-old Gregory O'Connell has been stealing mail on his route near Plattsburgh State for about 5 years. The scheme was discovered when a resident said they didn't get a gift card they were expecting in the mail from a relative. Police expect to file additional charges as more victims come forward.

A New York City man will serve nearly 12 years in prison for dealing crack cocaine in the Burlington area. 24-year-old Luis Rivera was captured by police in Williston 2 years ago. At the time, he was on New York City's 10 Most Wanted List. He was convicted in federal court for trafficking and selling the cocaine in Burlington. He also faced assault and weapons charges.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington is hoping the sale of 2 key properties will cover the cost of the settlement reached last week with 26 abuse victims. The diocese has secured bank loans to finance the $17-Million settlement. The combined asking price for the Diocesan Headquarters on North Avenue and the former Camp Holy Cross land in Colchester is $20 million.

The City of Plattsburgh will be testing the fire hydrants starting today. The Fire Department will be inspecting each fire hydrant by allowing the water to flow for 3 to 5 minutes. During these times, water in the system will be stirred up and may be cloudy or rust colored coming out of the faucet, and residents should avoid taking a bath or washing clothes.

Voters in Colchester go to the polls tomorrow to decide on school budget for next year. Voters said 'no' to the school budget on Town Meeting Day. To help drum up support, Colchester Band Students played outside of grocery store yesterday. They say if the proposed budget doesn't pass, music and arts might be cut. They plan to play again this afternoon after school.

A new study by the University of Vermont says the bike path in Burlington generates $4.5-Million annually. According to the reports, more than 100,000 people visit the path during the summer months, half of the bicyclists are from outside Chittenden County. The study also says the Causeway Bike Ferry in Colchester adds another $13,000 to the Champlain Valley.

Despite only getting out of prison last month for a deadly DWI crash in 1991, and despite having his driver's license suspended for rest of his life, 54-year-old Douglas Gardner is back in jail with his 9th DWI arrest. Gardner was arrested Saturday afternoon in Highgate after a crash. Police say no one was hurt, but Gardner is now being held on $50,000 bail.

The University of Vermont has a new Woman's Basketball Coach, Lori Gear McBride. McBride becomes the 7th head coach of the UVM Woman's Program since 1979. She spent the last 5 seasons as the Head Woman's Basketball Coach at Maine's Colby College. McBride has also won an NCAA Championship as a member of the University of North Carolina team in 1994.

The Vermont Fallen Heroes Memorial, which is almost complete, will be placed at the Vermont Veterans' Cemetery in Randolph Center. It's a memorial for all of the 35 Vermont soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. 2 companies, Granite Industries of Vermont and Rock of Ages are working together on the 40-by-50-foot memorial. The dedication for it is planned for Veterans Day.

As more states ban texting while driving, many, including Vermont, are going a step further by letting teenagers get firsthand experience of the dangers. The state Department of Motor Vehicle enforcement has set up an obstacle course for teens to navigate on golf carts while texting, it shows them how many errors or even fatalities they could cause.

Most of the Vermont State Historic Sites don't open for the session till the end of the month but they are now all on FaceBook. A fan page for the 11 Vermont State Historic Sites was launched last month. It's a move that the state of Vermont hopes will help boost attendance this year at all the state historic sites.

Friday, May 14, 2010

WVTK Local & State News May 14, 2010

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington settled 26 lawsuits at once, with a settlement of $17.6-million. The cases were due to be tried all together this fall. Many of these cases involved the defrocked Reverend Edward Paquette. Yesterday, Bishop Salvatore Matano announced the settlement and expressed sorrow for the victims.

Vermont Prison Inmates doing time in Tennessee started a riot Wednesday night. It happened at the West Tennessee Detention Facility, a privately run prison just outside of Memphis. 35 male inmates refused to return to their cells for the night and began damaging property inside their housing unit. No guards or inmates were injured during the incident.

After firing up a $12 million biomass plant to burn wood for heat last winter, Middlebury College is hoping to turn manure from the county’s dairy farms into an alternative form of heating fuel to power the campus. The college could be the first in the state to use bio-methane to replace heating oil. If all goes according to plan, the college could be burning bio-methane as early as the fall of 2011. In total, the investment would cost around $9 million.

The Middlebury select-board plans to create an ad hoc committee to look at potential new economic development strategies for the town as well as new ways to support existing activities that are currently being met by financially strapped volunteer associations.

A retired Rutland businessman announced yesterday he is seeking the Republican nomination to run for Vermont's lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, the third Republican seeking to unseat Democrat U.S. Rep. Peter Welch. John M. Mitchell the former CEO of Vermont Marble Co. said he decided to run "to put America back on the right course" after watching the economy sink, people lose jobs and businesses produce diminishing profits.

Boaters are urged to use caution while on Chittenden Reservoir this summer because of lower-than-normal water levels. This is the result of a $2 million project by Central Vermont Public Service. The utility will be upgrading the East Pittsford hydroelectric station from August through November and that requires the water level to be lowered as much as 4 feet so CVPS can better manage rainwater from storms.

The Vermont Achievement Center is working to renovate and furnish a temporary homeless family shelter on its Park Street campus. VAC is renovating a two-story house on the east edge of the center grounds. Formerly used as rental office space, the house is being converted to a three-bedroom and two-bedroom shelter for families trying to get back on their feet. They hope the shelter will open sometime this summer.

After two failed budgets, the Benson School Board has shaved off another $22,350 and is trying again. A vote on the proposal is scheduled for early next month. There will be an informational meeting at 7:30 p.m. June 7 in the Community Hall. Polls are open there the next day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The fiscal year ends June 30. The Addison-Rutland Supervisory Union business manager said that if the district does not have a budget in place by then, it would borrow money to begin the year at 87 percent of the previous year's budget.

The Legislature passed a plan to make changes to the Current Use Program. It allows landowners to conserve large tracts of land and pay less in taxes. Lawmakers want to have people in the program pay a one-time fee and higher taxes if they take their land out of current use. Douglas is opposed to the bill because he says it will hurt land conservation. If it is vetoed, lawmakers say they probably will not return to Montpelier to try a veto override.

New York State businesses are about to pay more for electricity. That's because a state program to provide low cost power is about to expire and there are no plans to extend it. Lawmakers left Albany Wednesday without a deal on the power for jobs program and they aren't due back until Monday leaving businesses unsure about their futures.

Authorities at the Champlain Border Crossing found an unclaimed bag on a bus that contained nearly a million dollars worth of ecstasy. Customs and Border Protection officers were inspecting the bus early Monday morning. Officials are still working to determine whom the bag belonged to. No arrests had been made.

A developer is waiting for final approval to build a new hotel on Route 3 in Plattsburgh. A sketch plan for the 4-story, 91-room hotel was presented to the Town of Plattsburgh Planning Board earlier this week. Town officials say final approval of the new The Fairfield Inn And Suites, which is a part of the Mariott family, could take a couple of months.

A jury has found a Burlington man guilty of sexual assault. Police say 51-year-old James Burke raped a 26-year-old woman in 2004. The victim, who was homeless at the time, says she believes she was slipped a date drug. After being read the verdict, Burke promised to appeal the decision. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

A division of the Department of Homeland Security is planning to hold a hearing on May 22 on a plan to build a new border station at Morses Line. Customs and Board Protection is planning to upgrade the port of entry facilities at the little-used Morses Line, but a local dairy farmer says the plan will take too much of a valuable hayfield.

The Committee on Temporary Shelter, or COTS, is once again asking for the community's help. A couple of weeks ago, they held their largest fundraiser of the year, the COTS Walk. And for the first time in history, they did not reach their goal. They had set a goal of raising $175,000. After counting all the donations, they are still about $40,000 short of reaching their goal.

Students in Beekmantown have a chance to win a car. The school's junior prom is scheduled for this Saturday, and the school is hosting an after prom party. Students who stay for the duration of the party can win many prizes, including a pre-owned Pontiac Grand Prix GT, which was donated from Knight Automotive in Plattsburgh.

Curtis Lumber on Tom Miller Road in Plattsburgh will be holding a Fire and Child Safety event tomorrow from 9 to 2. During the event, the District No. 3 Volunteer Fire Department will be there with a smoke simulation trailer and fire trucks speaking to families about fire safety and prevention. The Clinton County Sheriff's Department will also be on-hand taking fingerprints of children and offering Safe Child ID cards for parents.

Starting Monday, the southern end of the Burlington Bike Path will be closed. The Parks and Recreation Department will be re-paving the section between the water treatment facility and the barge canal. The section being re-paved should only be closed from Monday to Friday.

It will be a memorable graduation, especially for two students receiving their diplomas at St. Michael's College. That's because they became engaged yesterday before hundreds of witnesses. Graduating senior Jamie Gordon was delivering the college commencement speech, and at the end proposed to another graduate, Rachel Roy. She gave him the thumbs up making it official.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

WVTK Local & State News May 13, 2010

The Vermont House has passed a budget for next year. The spending plan includes a number of compromises by lawmakers and the governor. The compromises include rolling back tax increases they passed last year, both the estate and capital gains. The budget bill passed by a voice vote of 105 to 27. Governor Jim Douglas is expected to sign the bill.

Vermont lawmakers have approved a $76-million package of borrowing for capital construction projects. On the list: $6.5 million for school construction and $4.5 million for expansion of broadband Internet service. The bill also includes $4.7 million for a new Health Department laboratory in Colchester.

The construction company expected to build the new Crown Point Bridge is going to use as much local labor and subcontractors as possible. John Grady of the New York State Department of Transportation says the state is reviewing the $69.7 million low-bid provided by Flatiron Construction of Colorado. He says it's likely the bid will be approved later this month. Construction could then begin within days. The bridge is due to be finished in the late summer of 2011.

Business owners and residents in Rutland who turned out last night were supportive of the city's opinion that litigation may be the only way to solve the dispute over Moon Brook. The informational session was scheduled for people to learn more about the implications of new state regulations the city claims are being incorrectly assessed. Mayor Christopher Louras said he hopes to resolve some questions through questionnaires he asked the group to fill out and return.

A Rutland District Court judge decided yesterday that a plea deal sending accused murderer David Denny to jail for 22 years to life wasn't punishment enough for the alleged death of a Castleton State College instructor in 2008. 

Judge Thomas Zonay rejected the agreement on the grounds that the proposed punishment didn't align with other sentences handed down for second-degree murder.

Some new U.S. citizens took the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony at Neshobe School yesterday afternoon. The 41 new citizens came from all over the world. Some of the countries of origin include Russia, Austria, Italy, Nigeria, China and many more.

The Rutland School Board and the public will soon have more information on how much the city's school district is spending. The chief financial officer of the Rutland Public Schools district presented the board with a draft copy of a new quarterly financial statement showing year-to-date actual budget spending as opposed to the usual statement of budgeted expenses passed out once a year.

Fair Haven Union High School will apply to the state for between $300,000 and $500,000 in federal money to improve its students' academic performance. The School Board voted Monday to apply for a School Improvement Grant. The school became eligible after the state tagged it "persistently low-achieving" in March, based on its poverty rate and lack of progress in test scores from 2007 and 2008.

A federal judge has issued an order blocking Governor David Paterson from imposing furloughs on about 100,000 state workers. Unions representing state workers say a 20-percent loss in wages or salaries would constitute irreparable harm. U.S. District Judge Lawrence Kahn has scheduled a hearing on May 26.

Plattsburgh Mayor Donald Kasprzak says he will run for re-election in the fall. Since being elected in 2007, one of the mayor's biggest accomplishments has been the city finances. The city's general fund balance was a deficit of over $800,000, and now it is $2.4-million to the good. If re-elected, Kasprzak said he will focus more on development and growth in the city.

Police say 2 men have stolen a $3,000 painting from the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Burlington. According to investigators, the 2 men walked off Battery Street, popped the 6-foot painting off the wall and walked out. Hotel officials didn't notice for about a week since construction was taking place and a lot of people were coming and going at the time.

A hostel will be opening in Burlington next month. The new facility, called the Burlington Hostel, will have 48 beds and will cost $30 a night. The owners of the hostel say Burlington is lacking a facility with an international feel where people can meet others from all over the world. The hostel will be located at 53 Main Street, just up the street from the waterfront.

Lawyers for convicted killer Christopher Williams have appealed his conviction before the state Supreme Court. They say police questioned Williams before reading him his rights. They also claim a judge gave improper instructions to the jury that convicted him in a 2006 shooting rampage in Essex.

Police say a Burlington man fired a handgun out of moving truck on Interstate 89 in South Burlington. 30 year-old John Light was a passenger in the vehicle and police say he fired a round into the woods at the start of rush hour. He's charged with Reckless Endangerment.

Vermont's Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has bought a California coffee company. Green Mountain says the deal for Diedrich Coffee Inc., of Irvine, Calif., is worth about $300 million. The company says Diedrich accepted its offer of $35 a share.

It's quite a compliment when a national magazine lists your city as one of America's prettiest towns. Burlington was selected among 20 towns listed by, ranking second. A co-author of "101 Best Outdoor Towns" says Burlington has it all with a brick pedestrian marketplace, iconic white steeples and rolling hill spilling towards the waterfront. Cambria, California, was listed in first place. Lake Placid, New York, also made the list.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

WVTK Local & State News May 12, 2010

It looks like the plan to merge four school districts in Addison County into the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union is off the table. Voters in Addison and Vergennes went to the polls yesterday for a re-vote. Residents in Vergennes did not have enough "no" votes to overturn the Town Meeting Day results, but voters in Addison did. Both towns had to vote "yes" to move forward.

Transportation officials from both Vermont and New York say the new Crown Point Bridge should be up and open to the public by September 2011. DOT Officials updated residents last night at a meeting in Addison. They said the clean up of the old bridge is on schedule and a contract to build the new one should be in place by the end of the month. They added the free 24-hour, 7-day a week ferry service will continue till the new bridge is open.

A fire in a ceiling has closed a classroom at Neshobe Elementary School. School officials and firefighters said damage from the Monday-night flare-up was limited to one second-grade classroom. According to Fire Chief Robert Kilpeck the damage was light to moderate. So far there is no information on the cause of that fire. Students have temporarily been moved to another classroom in the building.

The Rutland School Board voted last night to apply for anywhere from $50,000 to $2 million of federal money for Rutland High School and make federally mandated changes there. The school became eligible for a chunk of more than $8.5 million of federal stimulus money for education coming into the state after it was labeled "persistently low-achieving" by the Department of Education in March.

A Bridport man will spend the next 8 to 15 years in prison for attacking his estranged wife. 40-year-old Adam Brouillard pled guilty to a number of related charges. Prosecutors say last March, Brouillard attacked his estranged wife before taking off and leading police on a high-speed chase. The woman suffered a broken shoulder and cuts and bruises.

Police in Rutland are looking for an armed robber. Investigators say the suspect walked into the Midway Mobil at the corner of West Street and Ripley Road just after midnight yesterday. The robber then pointed a handgun at the clerk and demanded cash. The suspect then fled on foot.

Lawmakers and the governor have still not come to an agreement on a budget for next year. Negotiations continued all day yesterday. Lawmakers abandoned a vitamin tax and will allow a federal tax credit to take effect to help manufacturers. Douglas wants to see more tax cuts before he will sign off on the budget. Lawmakers say they still plan to adjourn today.

Farmers in the southern Lake Champlain basin have $250,000 available to fight runoff. The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources said that the settlement of a multistate lawsuit against American Electric Power for violations of the federal Clean Air Act included $500,000 for programs benefiting Lake Champlain, to be done cooperatively with New York.

More Vermont schools failed to meet state standards for student achievement this year than last, mostly with students on free and reduced lunch continuing to miss the mark. According to 2010 Adequate Yearly Progress determinations released yesterday by the state Department of Education, 94 of the state's 306 schools did not reach the progress benchmark required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Governor Jim Douglas signed into law a new alcohol bill. The bill allows hotels in Vermont to install mini-bars in rooms, and allows customers in restaurants to take home bottles of specialty beer or wines, if the bottles are sealed. The law went into effect immediately after the governor signed it yesterday.

More than a dozen animals were seized from a home in Plattsburgh. A concerned citizen alerted the mayor's office to the deplorable conditions of the home on South Acres Road on Friday. City workers spent the day Monday rounding up the animals and taking them to the Eagle's Nest Veterinary Hospital for evaluation and care. City police plan file charges against the homeowner.

Starting next week, 100,000 New York State Workers will have to take one furlough day a week. Now while managers of state agencies are not sure how this will work out, they are looking to minimize the impact to residents here in the North Country. The agencies are developing plans, and we'll have specific plans by the end of the week.

A Rutland City police dog has been placed on limited duty following an incident last month in which a woman was bitten during a domestic disturbance call. King Bricks has temporarily been removed from patrol assignment and the German shepherd will be evaluated and retrained at the Vermont Police Academy before any final decisions are made.

The Great Outdoors Trading Co. on Woodstock Avenue is closing its doors. According to the owner there are many factors for his decision. He said the three remaining Great Outdoors stores in Killington, Okemo and Mount Snow would remain open. The liquidation sale at the Rutland store continues through May 23.

South Burlington Police are looking for information about an attempted carjacking in the TJ Maxx parking lot yesterday morning. Investigators say a man jumped into the passenger seat of a car around 11 AM. The female driver then quickly jumped out of the car and ran for help. The suspect fled on foot. If you have any information, please call the South Burlington Police Department.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

WVTK Local & State News May 11, 2010

Voters in Vergennes and Addison will go to the polls today and re-visit the issue of merging school districts and forming the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union. Many residents in Vergennes have expressed concern with assuming Addison's and Ferrisburgh’s debt load. Both towns must vote in favor of the merger for it to take place July 1, next year.

A public meeting is set for tonight night in Addison on the new Crown Point Bridge. Vermont and New York Transportation Officials will discuss the bridge design and operation of the temporary ferry service. They'll also update the public on the removal of debris from the old bridge. The meeting is scheduled for tonight at 6:30 at the Addison Central School.

Work crews this week are scheduled to begin more than $5 million in resurfacing work on a substantial segment of Route 125 in East Middlebury, Ripton and Hancock. The work will stretch from the intersection of Route 7 South through East Middlebury Village, all the way through Ripton village and up to the entrance of the Middlebury College Snow Bowl.

A new trial request for convicted murderer Jonathan Bruno has been denied at the local level, but he still has appeals pending of his sentence and conviction to the state Supreme Court. Bruno was sentenced to 35 years to life in prison in March for the killing of John Baptie. A Rutland jury convicted Bruno at the end of a trial that featured numerous witnesses who saw the two men on that day.

Police are blaming failure to stop at a stop sign for a collision that turned deadly in Castleton. Investigators say the car driven by Edna Fairbanks of Hubbardton failed to stop at the intersection of South Street and Route 30. Her car collided with another vehicle, and Fairbanks was killed. The other driver was taken to Rutland Regional Medical Center with minor injuries.

The new, now 6 year old library at Middlebury College has its name. “The Davis Library” was announced at a ceremony attended by hundreds of students, faculty and trustees this past week.

Vermont lawmakers are returning to the state house today as this years session goes into overtime. Members of both the House and Senate had hoped to wrap-up the session on Saturday but hey still have a number of bills to finish before they can go home for their summer break. They also have to pass a budget for next year.

Education leaders in Vermont want opinions on how to reform the No Child Left Behind Act. Senator Bernie Sanders participated in a live video chat. He said school funding should not be based on competitive grants, and that special considerations should be made for rural states. Sanders said he plans to bring these ideas back to the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee that he is a member of.

The New York State Legislature has passed an extender bill that includes furloughs for state workers. Governor David Paterson says 100,000 state workers will have to take a furlough day each week. Paterson says he will stop the furloughs, scheduled to begin next week, if unions agree to other concessions, including a suspension of their 4-percent raise.

Vermont State Police are once again searching for the body of Brianna Maitland. Investigators looked for her body in a Richford gravel pit yesterday after receiving a tip. Maitland was 17 when she disappeared in 2004. She was last seen at work in Montgomery. Police did not find any evidence. More searches are being planned.

South Burlington police made 2 separate arrests at the same home on Saturday night. Acting on a tip, officers arrested 2 men at a home on Williston Road after finding drugs, guns, and cash. While processing the suspects, police got a call about a break-in at the same house. Officers arrested 2 woman who had broken into the home thru a window.

The South Burlington Police Department is moving into a new building on Gregory Drive this week. Voters approved the $7.2 million move last September. Officials say the move shouldn't take long, in fact, they plan to be up and running from the new building by tomorrow morning. A ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house is scheduled for Saturday, June 12.

The Burlington City Council voted last night to appeal the Act 250 Permit for a Half-Way House downtown. Residents and community members were split on the house, some said the house would hurt the neighboring Church Street Marketplace. The Half-Way House would be run by the national Phoenix House organization.

School Boards in Chazy, Chateaugay and Lake Placid will be holding their annual budget meetings tonight. The public is invited to attend the meetings in which they will discuss a number of key issues affecting next year's school budget. Each of the meetings will begin at 7 PM.

The Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce is holding a job fair tomorrow. About 30 employers will be there including NovaBus, 3 different hospitals, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Organizers say job fairs are even more important in a recovering economy. The job fair will be tomorrow from 4 to 8 PM at the West Side Ballroom in Plattsburgh.

The Lamoille North Supervisory Union, which oversees Lamoille Union High School and Middle School, has temporarily laid off its entire support staff. The support staff includes office staff, special education professionals, and custodians. School officials stressed that this is only until a new contract is in place. The superintendent says negotiations are at an impasse.

Monday, May 10, 2010

WVTK Local & State News May 10, 2010

The Coast Guard has established a no-wake zone for boats traveling through a section of Lake Champlain where the new Crown Point Bridge will be built. Boats had been banned from the area due to safety concerns. Now the Coast Guard says boats can travel through a marked channel at slow speeds.

Two proposed projects got the green light from the Development Review Board in Brandon last week. The board approved the subdivision of the Neshobe Farm planned unit development and issued permits for the conversion of the former Brandon High School to condominiums. Nobody voiced opposition to either proposal at a DRB hearing in late March.

The state Agency of Natural Resources issued a solid waste permit to Omya Inc. on Friday that allows the company to dispose of its calcium carbonate waste. The full certification allows Omya to dispose of its marble tailings in a lined "tailings management area" on its Florence property. The state issued a draft certification in December.

Lawmakers failed to meet their deadline Saturday of finishing the current legislative session. Instead, plans are for the House and Senate to reconvene tomorrow. The legislature spent most of Saturday debating the Challenges for Change bill but were unable to reach a consensus. Lawmakers will also have to pass a budget before their work is done.

A high-risk sex offender is back behind bars for failing to properly register himself on the state sex-offender registry. Jesse Barcomb is required to register his personal information with authorities for the rest of his life as part of a 1993 conviction in the City of Plattsburgh. Barcomb will be in prison for the next 1 to 3 years.

Vermont lawmakers have approved a bill requiring health insurance companies to cover some therapies used to treat autism. The bill applies to children with autism who are between 18 months and 6 years old. It calls for a study to determine whether a similar insurance mandate should apply for coverage of older children.

Now that funding is in place, organizers of the Saranac River Trail plan to begin construction soon and hope to have the project completed by year's end. The trail will stretch from the footbridge behind Plattsburgh High School to the now-closed Saranac Street Bridge. Organizers hope the paved trail will be used year round.

A group of Vermont Air National Guard Solders is heading to Haiti. The sendoff ceremony took place Friday afternoon. The guardsmen will soon be leaving for Port-Au-Prince. There they will be dismantling an Air National Guard facility that supported the Haiti earthquake relief effort. The guard group leaves today. They are expected to be in Haiti for about a month.

Police are trying to get to the bottom of a suspicious phone call made to BFA-St. Albans. Investigators say a man called the school Friday afternoon, and identified himself as the stepfather of a student, and asked that she be let out of school early. The student called her family and discovered they had not contacted the school. No one ever showed up at BFA to pick up the girl.

This weekend's wintry weather prompted State Transportation officials to close down the Smugglers Notch road. VTRANS opened route 108 for the season this past Monday. But officials say with snow and temperatures below freezing, the road is now closed again and will remain closed at least through this morning's commute.

A National Guard soldier from Brookfield is recovering from the injuries he received May 1st in Afghanistan. The wife of Sergeant Thomas T.J. Eaccarino says her husband suffered a ruptured spleen and bruised lungs. She says he's already undergone several operations, and is scheduled to be transferred from a hospital in Germany to one in the U.S.

In the last three years, New York's anti-smoking program has been cut three times by a total of 30 percent. The program that was once a top priority of Republican and Democratic governors is another casualty of the fiscal crisis. The latest cut to the smoking program is proposed for $5 million in the 2010-11 state budget, now a month late and under negotiation.

More low-income school kids could soon have access to free nutritious dinners. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering reimbursements for meals served to at-risk kids in after-school programs in 13 states and the District of Columbia. This year the program expanded to Vermont.

Social capital was the theme of the 2010 graduation ceremony yesterday at College of St. Joseph in Rutland. According to the graduates and families this year's class will continue to add substance to society. Commencement speaker Stuart Comstock-Gay, a graduate of Harvard University and president of Middlebury's Vermont Community Foundation, said CSJ and the experience of being in Vermont prepared the students to do more important things than just work such as volunteering their time.

Friday, May 7, 2010

WVTK Local & State News May 7, 2010

Voters in the towns making up the new Addison Northwest Supervisor Union will go to the polls on Tuesday to revisit the issue of creating one school board to oversee all the schools. A "yes" votes means they approve of the merger. Some residents in Vergennes recently voiced their concerns over assuming Addison’s and Ferrisburgh’s debt load.

The 2011 Transportation Bill, which is still in committee, has almost $100-million slated for road and bridge repair in Addison County. About $28-million of the funding will be going to the new Crown Point Bridge but the rest will get spread out over the next couple years for various road and bridge repair projects including the “stoplight bridge” in Bristol.

The new budget for Ticonderoga Central School District eliminates 8 positions to save over $400,000. The school district also saved about $150,000 by switching to a cheaper insurance policy with high deductibles. Although no programs were cut, the spending plan still calls for a 6.5-percent increase in the tax levy. Resident will vote on the budget on Tuesday, May 18.

A West Rutland woman, who admitted she killed her husband, was sentenced to 6 to 15 years in prison. 44-year-old Wendy Pelkey-Grant told police that she shot her husband, 36-year-old Sean Grant, two years ago to protect her children. But prosecutors said the situation did not warrant the use of deadly force.

Before changing charter language pertaining to the Rutland City Police Commission, the aldermen's Charter and Ordinance Committee will seek outside legal representation. The committee voted unanimously to have its chairman and Board President sit down with the mayor and city attorney to figure out how the arrangement would work, particularly in terms of cost.

It's been a month since the last piece of mail was processed at the Center Rutland Post Office, and during that time a small but passionate group of people has emerged, determined to bring back the branch. The movement began with a petition to relocate and reopen the post office, formerly located in Flory's Plaza, whose customers are now serviced by the West Rutland branch.

Vermont Governor Jim Douglas says he will not sign the budget currently being proposed by the general assembly if he doesn't see some changes. The governor says the proposed budget has a number of major tax increases. One of the biggest tax hikes is a one-cent property tax increase. Douglas is also calling on lawmakers to recall last year's increase to the estate tax.

Vermont lawmakers have called for chain restaurant menus to include calorie counts for the items they offer, but the idea could fall victim to fights over another part of the same health care bill. The House on Thursday approved an amendment to a health care bill to require chains with more than 20 restaurants to place on their menus the number of calories in each item.

Congressman Peter Welch is hailing the House of Representatives' passage of an energy efficiency bill as a big step toward energy conservation, job creation and savings for homeowners. The so-called "Cash for Caulkers" bill would give rebates to people who renovate their homes with better insulation and energy-saving windows and doors.

Vermont's House has approved a bill that would ensure a teacher's personnel file follows them to a new school district. The measure is prompted by the case of a former Morristown school teacher who moved to Colchester last year and now faces charges he sexually molested children while in Morristown.

One business is swamped with Mother's Day business, and it's not just flower shops. Vermont Teddy Bear Company is getting thousands of Mother's Day orders packed and ready to ship. Four hundred seasonal workers were hired just for the holiday. The company is taking orders until five p.m. today and expects thousands more new orders. A fleet of delivery trucks is even standing by for last-minute orders.

The town of Plattsburgh has drawn up a new zoning plan for the former Clinton County Airport. Currently the property for sale is zoned Airport. Under the new zoning plan, about half of the property would be zoned mixed residential and commercial. The town council still needs to approve the zoning changes.

CVPH in Plattsburgh just received a new 12,000-pound MRI Machine. If fact it was so big a crane had to drop it though an open sunroof on the building. A hospital spokesperson said this would help them grow their diagnostic capabilities. The new machine should be up and running in a few weeks.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

WVTK Local & State News May 6, 2010

After 4 days of deliberations, the jury has been unable to reach a verdict in a shooting trial in Addison County. 41-year-old Jeffrey Young of Goshen was charged with aggravated assault on accusations of shooting his girlfriend's estranged husband in the foot last year. Young says he was defending himself when he shot 41-year-old Pedro Magna.

The Vermont Senate has OK'd a measure cracking down on fees slapped on small merchants by credit card companies. The bill bars credit card companies from centrally fixing fees, and from fining merchants for offering discounts to customers who use cards with fewer fees. The bill now goes to the governor's desk for his signature.

The town of Bethel has approved a plan to tackle the school's nearly $500,000 deficit. The school had run up the deficit over the last few years. The plan helps the school to pay off that debt over the next 3 years, in payments of about $160,000 at a time.

A West Rutland woman could get up to 15-years in prison when she is sentenced today for shooting her husband. 42-year-old Wendy Pelkey Grant pleaded guilty to shooting her husband Sean Grant several times in 2008. She says she did it to protect her children, saying her husband was drunk and physically violent.

Changes to Vermont's jobless fund have cleared both the House and Senate and are now on their way to Governor Jim Douglas' desk for his signature. The benefits reduction along with the increase in the tax that employers will be charged will help shore up the state's unemployment insurance trust fund.

Regulatory hearings have kicked off in Maine on FairPoint Communications' reorganization plan as the company goes through the complex bankruptcy process. FairPoint filed for Chapter 11 protection last October. Additional hearings are scheduled later this month in New Hampshire and Vermont.

Soon you will be able to check you lottery tickets to see if your a winner without have to wait in line and have a cashier check for you. The Vermont Lottery is rolling out a new statewide system. New machines are being installed in every lottery location where you can scan your tickets, a screen will then you if you are a winner.

On Tuesday, May 18, voters in the town of Charlotte will go to the polls and decide on the school budget for next year. Earlier this week, the school board met and found another $60,000 in cuts. The revised budget in now just over $7-million. The cuts include not hiring a 3rd kindergarten teacher since only 31 kids are enrolled for next year.

The Stamp Out Hunger drive will be going on this Saturday, coordinated by the National Association of Letter Carriers in cooperation with the U.S. Postal Service. You are asked to leave non-perishable food items at or next to your mailbox on Saturday. Donations will go to pantries in communities where they are collected. Glass items cannot be accepted.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

WVTK Local & State News May 5, 2010

Texting while driving will be banned in Vermont starting this summer. Lawmakers in both the House and Senate have reached a deal that not only bans texting while driving, but also give police the power to stop people for not wearing seatbelts. The bill also bans teens from using any electronic device while driving, including using a cell phone.

Bridport residents have approved the town's school budget. Residents yesterday voted 125 to 75 in favor of the $1.3 million spending plan. The revised budget is roughly $6,000 less than the budget voters defeated on Town Meeting Day.

New York lawmakers are trying to an end to cyber bullying. Cyber bullying is a type of bullying that's done through the Internet and through text messaging on cell phones. An Assembly bill would make it a felony when there is serious injury or death. New York is one of 8 states, including Vermont, that doesn't specifically outlaw cyber bullying. 2 similar bills are pending in the Vermont House.

Vermont business groups say they don't like the state's plan to cut a federal tax break for manufacturers. They say the state should piggyback onto federal tax code for the full effect of the 9 percent tax cut. House Speaker Shap Smith says the state is only asking manufacturers to give up their tax break for 2 years, until the state fills the $150 million hole in its budget.

New York Lawmakers have a tough decision ahead of them as they continue to work on next year's budget. As part of an emergency spending plan, Governor David Patterson is pushing for about 100,000 unionized state employees to take an unpaid furlough day each week. If lawmakers reject the emergency spending plan than the state government will have to shut down.

Central Vermont Public Service announced that it will purchase the Vermont Marble Power Division for $33.2 million. The announcement was made at the CVPS annual stockholders meeting yesterday. The purchase, which must still be approved by the Public Service Board, includes 800 customers of the Vermont Marble Power Division.

House lawmakers have approved a bill that will give Vermont merchants more leverage in negotiating better terms with credit card companies. If the bill becomes law, merchants would have the right to pick and choose which cards are accepted at certain locations and set a minimum transaction limit for a customer to use a credit card.

A Rutland woman has been charged with selling heroin. Rutland Police have arrested 35-year-old Holly Palmer. Palmer's arrest follows a several month long investigation into the distribution of heroin in the Rutland area. According to police, Palmer was arrested without incident and was released on a citation.

State emergency officials are planning a drill in 6 towns near the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. The timing of the exercise remains secret other than it will happen by Friday. More than 100 responders, local officials and volunteers will take part. Officials will be looking to assess the readiness of emergency responders near the plant.

A preliminary report on the ski industry says visits to U.S. ski resorts rose over 4-percent last season. The National Ski Areas Association says that preliminary figures show the 2009-10 season was the second-best on record. Resorts in the northeast had an almost 3-percent decrease while visits in all other regions increased by 3 to 7-percent.