Wednesday, June 9, 2010

WVTK Local & State News June 9, 2010

Benson voters approved their school budget yesterday, 99-84. The revised budget included cuts to the legal fund, health education, the Spanish program and the field trip budget, along with some changes to individual health insurance program. Yesterday’s vote in Benson left Vermont with eight school districts that have yet to approve budgets.

Rutland Town teachers announced last night they will strike in the fall if their contract is not settled prior to the 2010 school year. A strike is a last resort for educators frustrated with negotiations that have lasted more than a year and deadlocked in July 2009.

A small oil spill was discovered in Lake Iroquois in Hinesburg. Authorities say work crews were drilling on private property when there was some sort of problem with the equipment. That's when some of the oil in a hose made its way into the lake water. Buoys were set up to help contain the spill. Federal officials came in last night to help with the clean up.

New evidence shows efforts to clean-up Lake Champlain might be working. Using new methods, U.S. Geological Survey Scientist have found the there has been 1 to 3-percent decrease in phosphorus levels each year from 2000 to 2008. Phosphorus is a plant nutrient washed into the lake that feeds waterweeds and algae blooms.

Officials at the Burlington International Airport say construction on the main runway will cause cancellations, delays, and diversions throughout the summer. Until the repairs are completed, flights will be diverted to Albany anytime the weather reduces visibility to under one-mile. The $19-Million repair job is expected to be finished in September.

Until a state budget is passed, the New York Transportation Department will not be cutting the grass along the highways. A spokesperson said, "Because of the budget situation this year, we are only mowing for safety issues." Also put on hold for now is any non-essential road stripping and guardrail repairs.

A change to a contract between the Rutland city school district and Rutland Mental Health Services will cut 12 full-time jobs. 12 of 15 RMHS employees working at the district's SUCCESS alternative school will be let go in August. The provider's $690,000 contract with the district will be substantially reduced and the treatment program for K-12 students will be restructured.

A top official says state agencies made roughly $265,000 in duplicate payments to vendors over a 2-year period. Auditor of Accounts Tom Salmon says the state also has not yet been able to recoup $61,000 of that money.

A group that tries to help teens and young adults get back on their feet after spending time in jail has found a home. For the past few months, Hope and Community Incorporated has been trying to open a live-in rehabilitation facility in the Rutland area. But several communities have blocked the group's attempt, including a site in Killington. According to the nonprofit's executive director, the facility will open at the former Sand Hill Residential Community for Young Women in Castleton. Hope and Community's goal is to open in a few weeks.

State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding said he will refuse to allow members of the Douglas administration to monitor the Web-viewing habits of state employees working in his office. Controversy has plagued the administration's Web-monitoring plan since some lawmakers began denouncing the initiative in April. The administration has spent $120,000 on software that will be used to block certain websites and track the Internet habits of thousands of employees.

There will be a ribon cutting ceremony tomorrow at the new State Archives Building. Construction began on the new building in Middlesex in 2008 after a flood damaged storage space in Montpelier. The new State Archive Building will be the home of the Vermont State Constitution as well as the official correspondence of governors, legislative records and other documents.

One of two men accused in the shooting death of a former St. Michael's College professor plans to change his plea tomorrow. Police say 28-year-old Brad Lussier of Colchester, was one of four men who were firing guns in a backyard shooting range in Essex 2 years ago. Last month a jury convicted 40-year-old Joseph McCarthy of manslaughter for setting up the firing range.

If you notice pine trees around the state are turning brown, than your not alone. Officials say we are now seeing the effects of Needle Blight that spread though the trees last summer. Tree experts say don't give up and cut any of your pine trees down. It's just going to take time for the trees to recover.

A Massachusetts teacher cleaning up her classroom in preparation for a move has discovered a Colonial-era document buried in a pile of outdated textbooks and dusty scraps of papers. Dated April 1792 and protected by plastic, it appears to document the payment of a debt by a Vermont man named Jonathan Bates. Bates served in the Continental Army in 1780 and died in 1808 at age 63. He's buried in Williamstown, VT.

The SADD chapter at the Stafford Technical Center in Rutland has been named the best in the country. The group held a dating violence presentation, was a top 20 finalist in a national competition about distracted driving, and helped set up the first college SADD chapter in Vermont at Castleton State. Students say they were very surprised but very excited about the honor.

A tradition will return during this year's "Best Fourth in the North" celebration. A bed race will be held along Ticonderoga's Montcalm Street following the Montcalm Mile and before the annual July 4th parade. The 24th annual Montcalm Mile will race along the parade route at 1:45 p.m. It will be followed by the bed race and then the annual parade at 2 p.m. Registration forms and rules for the race can be obtained on line at best-4th-in-the-north dot com or at Century 21.