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.