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.