Friday, October 29, 2010

WVTK Local & State News October 29, 2010

A man is dead after being shot by a Vermont State Police trooper outside of a Rutland convenience store. It happened just before 9:00 PM in front of the Stewart's Shop on the corner of State and Grove Streets. State police say, during a traffic stop, Trooper Christopher Lora learned the man in the car was wanted in New York on probation violations and was likely armed. Police say the man came out of his car, ignoring the trooper's commands, and drew a gun from his waistband. That's when Trooper Lora reportedly shot him. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. His name is being withheld pending family notification. State Police will be releasing more information at a press conference this afternoon.

Weather permitting; paving will now take place on Monday and or Tuesday on Elm Street from Route 7 to the Railroad Underpass and on Seymour Street to Fire & Ice Restaurant. The intersection of Elm, Exchange and Seymour will be closed temporarily when the paving machinery is crossing the intersection. For those who typically enter Exchange Street from the south please use the north access from Route 7 during that time.

More green training is necessary for Vermont to have a truly green economy. That was the key message from the Vermont Environmental Consortium’s annual expo at Middlebury College. Most attendees agreed the state’s business leaders and educational providers need to be working to build up training networks to ensure that the in-state green economy continues to grow.

Last week around 80 Bristol Elementary School 3rd and 4th grade students hiked three miles and raised around $600. This was in support of the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger’s 14th annual Hike for Hunger. The students began their hour-and-a-half hike downtown accompanied by their teachers and several parents.

Hancock, Ripton and East Middlebury residents are relieved since the capture of a man whom authorities have said to be a “strong suspect” in the recent murder of Kathleen Smith of Burlington. Since his capture at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl residents along Route 125 had been on high alert following the discovery of Smith’s abandoned car off Texas Falls Road in Hancock.

The Chase Purinton Monument on Quaker Street in Lincoln looks excellent again. The foundation of the 107-year-old monument was crumbling and in need of repair earlier this year. Pete Mikkelsen felt it was time to take action. The two old millstones inscribed with words commemorating the first Lincoln town meeting held at that location were lifted and a new concrete base was created for them.

Ferrisburgh selectmen are asking residents to back their proposed purchase of a property adjacent to the town office building when they head to the polls next Tuesday. Selectmen this summer struck a $150,000 deal with homeowners Donald and Patience Sisters for their home and 2 acres. That property sits south of the Grange Hall.

Otter Creek Brewing is seeking the town of Middlebury’s approval to establish a 90-seat pub-style restaurant and visitors’ center inside their brewery on Exchange Street. Brewery officials stressed the new service will have limited hours, a limited menu and should not hurt but actually enhance restaurants and shops in downtown Middlebury.

Shoreham voters will be asked to pick from among three options for upgrading their undersized municipal offices on December 7th. The options include building a new, 2,000-square-foot municipal office building on the village green, building a two-story structure at the site of the former Newton Academy on School Street or rejecting both of those options placing the issue back on the selectboard’s drawing board.

Williston police say they used a Taser to arrest a man who resisted after running away from a traffic stop. Police say 35-year-old Terry Mead of Rutland fled when he was stopped yesterday in Willison for driving a vehicle that had been reported stolen. Mead faces charges of grand larceny, unlawful mischief, resisting arrest and operating a motor without the owner's.

The Rutland School Board unanimously approved a $42,000 annual lease on a Porter Place building for maintenance. 

The money to pay rent on the facility near the state fairgrounds isn’t budgeted for 2011-12 but the district plans to take the money from any available source. The district can cancel the lease with six months notice but if it decides to maintain the lease for seven years, there’s an option to buy.

On a police dashboard video released yesterday Vermont State Auditor Thomas Salmon appears to struggle with field sobriety tests after he was pulled over in Montpelier in November of 2009 following a dinner with staff. The tape was released a day after a judge ruled it was a public record in response to a lawsuit filed by a supporter of Salmon's major party opponent, Doug Hoffer.

A young bald eagle that was wounded by a shotgun blast in northern Vermont almost two months ago is back in the wild. Officials from the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Vermont Institute of Natural Science released the male eagle at about 11:20 a.m. Thursday at the North Thetford boat launch on the western bank of the Connecticut River. The bird promptly flew across the river into New Hampshire.

The state of Vermont says it has settled a federal lawsuit that charged the state's psychiatric hospital in Waterbury was deficient. In 2006 the Department of Justice brought a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging that care at the facility was substandard. Since then officials have worked to improve care at the hospital. The state says federal monitors now say the state hospital is among the top 15% of state hospitals in the country.

Governor David Patterson has announced that nearly 900 state jobs are going to have to go by the end of the year. Patterson says that he is not happy with the decision and neither are lawmakers and unions. He says even with the thousands of early retirements, layoffs are his last resort to cut the budget gap.

Police are now investigating the deaths of the elderly parents of Pamela Raymond of Morrisville. The 53-year-old woman is already charged with second-degree murder in the death of her four-month-old grandson, by giving him a lethal dose of a prescription anti-depressant. Court documents reveal a friend of the woman's described how Raymond cared for her elderly parents in her home prior to their deaths in 2008, feeding them and giving them their medications.

Six people who say it's time for U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy to hang it up are getting their chance to say it. Taking criticism from all corners of the political spectrum, Leahy faced off against his challengers yesterday in a freewheeling debate that touched on the legalization of marijuana, the nuclear threat posed by Iran and Vermont's dairy industry.

Many of the state's utility assistance programs are broke leaving Vermonters wondering what they will do when the cold weather hits. The Warmth Program, run by the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, offers statewide assistance but is run entirely on donations. Coordinators for the Warmth program say they're not the only ones. They say Shareheat, which helps out CVPS customers, is in even worse shape. You can help out by donating directly to the Warmth and Shareheat programs. One hundred percent of donations made to the Warmth program are used for fuel and power assistance. CVPS matches whatever donations are made to its Shareheat program.

Yesterday the University Of Vermont announced it will be connected by a fiber optic network to other schools in the Northeast. Senator Patrick Leahy helped secure $3-million for the Vermont connection. This fiber optic network is about 6,000 times faster than your typical home Internet. The first major project to use the network will be to study algae in Lake Champlain and other lakes.

New airline service is coming to Plattsburgh's International Airport, courtesy of Spirit Airlines. The relatively low-fare carrier will begin offering direct flights between Fort Lauderdale, FL and Plattsburgh in January. In May, the airline will add direct flights to and from Myrtle Beach, SC.

Vermont's climate change website is going through some changes itself. The site, run by the Agency of Natural Resources, provides information about how climate change is impacting Vermont. Now thanks to a redesign, data on greenhouse gas emissions, initiatives to fight it and ways for people to help are now available. Visit the site by clicking here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

WVTK Local & State News October 28, 2010

Weather permitting; paving will now take place on Monday and or Tuesday on Elm Street from Route 7 to the Railroad Underpass and on Seymour Street to Fire & Ice Restaurant. The intersection of Elm, Exchange and Seymour will be closed temporarily when the paving machinery is crossing the intersection. For those who typically enter Exchange Street from the south please use the north access from Route 7 during that time.

Some big plans are being finalized for the grand opening and celebration Saturday of the Cross Street Bridge. The 16-million-dollar bridge was built in a year and a half, thanks to Middlebury College and the town itself helping to pay for it. Now, there's a second bridge to get emergency equipment from one side of town to the other. Festivities on Saturday will last all day, with entertainment and plenty of local foods. The first person and car to cross it will be a re-enactment of when local Henry Sheldon crossed the Battel Bridge in 1893. Get all of the details about this event and the Third Annual Middlebury Spooktacular right here!

Construction of the new Lake Champlain Bridge continues to be on target. Construction began in June, a short eight months after closing the bridge to traffic. Work has progressed on-schedule, with construction of bridge abutments and piers under way. Fabrication of the steel bridge members is progressing off-site. The project is on track to be completed next September as scheduled.

The Vermont Foodbank has teamed up with Vermont residents, businesses and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture promoting the Pick For Your Neighbor program. A total of 17 pick-your-own orchards across the state are participating in the Pick For Your Neighbor program this fall. You are invited to pick an extra bag of apples as a donation to the Vermont Foodbank. Through the Foodbank's network of 280 food shelves, meal sites, shelters, senior centers and after-school programs, as many as 86,000 Vermonters access charitable food each year.

The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont along with the University of Vermont and the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture and Research program will be offering two courses intended to address some of the most pressing issues for intermediate to advanced farmers. "On-Farm Energy" and "Marketing that Sells" are both three-day intensive courses that take place over the course of several weeks in November and December. For more information and to register, click here or contact NOFA-Vt. at or 802-434-4122.

For the first time since Rutland High School started school choice in 2002, there are no out-of-town kids waiting to get into the school, and the Vermont Education Department has no idea why. Ten non-Rutland students are expected to attend the high school in the 2011-12 school year but there is no waiting list. The district is a member of the Rutland County School Choice Collaborative.

A snag has developed in efforts to keep the state from moving ahead with plans to euthanize a moose raised on an elk farm in Irasburg. Doug Nelson, who owns the property, filed a plan with the state in September detailing on how Pete the moose will be kept from other animals. Now, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department says the plan Nelson is proposing doesn't protect the health of the preserve's habit, captive animals or Vermont's wild deer.

A Vermont judge says the state must release a police video of state Auditor Thomas Salmon's 2009 drunken driving arrest. Lawyer John Franco, a supporter of Democratic auditor candidate Doug Hoffer, sued to get the dashboard video of the arrest of Salmon, a Republican seeking re-election. Earlier this month, a federal judge said the request was a subject for state court, not federal court.

Vermont's bitterly contested governor's race could end up being decided by state lawmakers instead of voters. Under the state constitution, the winning candidate for governor has to get more than 50% of the votes cast or else the election is thrown to the Legislature, which votes in secret ballot. A recent poll had Republican candidate Brian Dubie at 44% and Democrat Peter Shumlin at 43%.

The state Public Service Department wants to know what Burlington Telecom's lender will do if city-owned utility misses another payment. Burlington Telecom has a $386,000 interest payment to CitiCapital due on Sunday and another is due next month. The Public Service Department has now sent a letter to CitiCapital asking if they plan to shut down BT if the payment is missed.

The co-owner of a now-closed Vermont slaughterhouse has been fined $2,000 after pleading no contest to an animal cruelty charge. The attorney general's office said 52-year-old Frank Perretta of Grand Isle changed his plea on Wednesday to the misdemeanor charge accusing him of excessively shocking a calf at the Bushway Packing plant in Grand Isle.

Federal wildlife officials are proposing a coordinated national effort to fight a disease decimating bat populations before there are "irreversible losses." The draft plan, outlining ways officials can work together to check the spread of white-nose syndrome, was released yesterday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Pittsford Haunted House is one of the area's favorite, spookiest Halloween destinations. Originally a children's sanitarium in the years following World War I, the old haunted house and grounds in Pittsford are now owned by the Pittsford School District. A fun-loving crew of 100 firefighters and other volunteer staffers keep the tricks and treats coming year after year. The event continues tomorrow and Saturday.

Bikers in Burlington have a new way to store their bicycles: in storage lockers at a downtown-parking garage. The 10 lockers are made up of five long-term units and five coin-operated units in the Marketplace garage on Cherry St. and North Winooski Ave. Bikers can apply for a six-month spot in a long-term locker for $30 at City Hall. The short-term lockers are available at any time with a deposit of one quarter.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

WVTK Local & State News October 27, 2010

A reminder that paving is expected take place tomorrow on Elm Street from Route 7 to the Railroad Underpass. The intersection of Elm, Exchange and Seymour Streets will be temporarily closed when paving machinery is crossing the intersection. Please be patient and ready for some delays in this area.

Secretary of State Deb Markowitz says she is "optimistically" projecting 60 percent turnout in next Tuesday's election. If she's right that figure would represent significantly lower participation compared to the 67 percent who voted in the 2008 presidential year. The deadline to register for next week's statewide election is this afternoon. Registration forms are available at all town clerks’ offices.

One dollar can go a long way and that's the message the Vermont Food Bank has sent to 200,000 people. The Vermont Food Bank estimates it will feed 86,000 people this year. It is asking for help during the Thanksgiving season while food and family are on people's minds. The food bank hopes to raise nine percent of its donations for the year during this Thanksgiving campaign.

Police said Stephen Bromley, of North Clarendon, shot his wife's horse several times. Officials said they responded to a call from a neighbor on Creek Road back in June. Stephen Bromley pleaded not guilty to one count of animal cruelty Monday. He was released on the condition that he not abuse any domesticated animals. If convicted, he could face up to one year in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.

A Rutland city police officer and the alderman he sued last year both declared victory in a settlement reached Monday. Police Officer Edward Dumas sued Alderman Kevin Coleman more than a year ago after Coleman made remarks about concerns he had about the department. Neither the city nor the police officer admitted to any wrongdoing in the settlement.

Some of the most junior staff in the Rutland Public School District has been notified that the School Board is considering eliminating positions and they would be the first to go next school year. 

The meetings are among the first steps taken by the administration to prepare staff for what is being called “devastating” budget cuts. A set of lists that categorize cuts in order of priority show a reduction in school staff that’s the equivalent of 34 full-time teachers and staff.

Records show a Morristown grandmother accused in the drugging death of her 3-month-old grandson had her nursing license revoked twice for diverting drugs. Public records from the Vermont Board of Nursing office show that 53-year-old Pamela Raymond lost her nursing license in 1987 and again in 1996, five months after it had been reinstated. On Monday, she pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of her infant grandson.

One of the minor party candidates in the race for governor is asking his supporters to vote for Democrat Peter Shumlin. Ben Mitchell is on the ballot as the candidate for the Liberty Union and Socialist parties. Mitchell issued a statement yesterday saying he is dropping his bid for governor and backing Shumlin because he doesn't want to take votes from Shumlin that could help Republican Brian Dubie win.

Vermont's attorney general says he found no violation of campaign finance law after investigating a complaint against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Shumlin about a news conference attended by members of the Vermont Troopers Association. Republican candidate Brian Dubie's camp had said the attendance of union-paid troopers at the Sept. 22 announcement of the union's endorsement of Shumlin, should have been included on Shumlin's campaign finance report, as an in-kind contribution.

A Vermont town is getting help paying the expenses it's racking up as officials care for 84 cats seized from two cars. The Bennington Police Chief says the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is providing the town $5,000 to help cover the cost of caring for the cats, seized Oct. 8 after they were noticed in two cars in a town parking lot.

The Vermont state parks have just wrapped up their busiest operating season in 15 years. Gov. Jim Douglas says the parks welcomed nearly 834,000 visitors this year, a 15% increase over 2009. The parks saw more than 455,000 day-use visits, with nearly 382,000 camper visits. Forty-five percent of campers were Vermonters, while 55% were from out-of-state.

Vice President Joe Biden is planning to visit Vermont next week to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Shumlin. Shumlin campaign manager tells the Burlington Free Press Biden will be in Vermont on Monday, the day before the election. The noontime rally will be held in the Burlington area, but the location has not yet been chosen.

October is fair trade month, dedicated to promoting socially responsible consumer purchases and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters marked that yesterday with a special broadcast on the Internet with a show educating customers about fair trade coffee. Green Mountain buys a third of its coffee through fair trade sourcing that guarantees a predictable, good price to farmers. The company wants to increase its commitment. To learn more click here!

New York is making it easier for tourists to find the most scenic roads in the state. The Transportation Department has produced a new map highlighting the state's 21 designated scenic byways spanning more than two thousand miles of roads. One side of the folding map highlights the 14 scenic routes in northern New York. The other side shows the whole state. The maps will be available at tourist attractions around the state.

A Vermont renewable energy entrepreneur is to speak this Friday at an international symposium on climate change. David Blittersdorf, CEO of Williston-based AllEarth Renewables and founder of Hinesburg-based NRG Systems, will join NASA's James Hansen and Tony Haymet, director of California's Scripps Institution of Oceanography on a panel at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

Vermont officials will be collecting information on the age and health of deer at 24 biological deer check stations during the state's youth hunting weekend. This year's youth hunting weekend is on November 6 and 7, the Saturday and Sunday before rifle hunting season. Shawn Haskell, Vermont's deer project leader, says the inspections allow biologists to get a close look at the yearling buck population.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

WVTK Local & State News October 26, 2010

The next public meeting regarding the possible consolidation of schools in the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union will be held tonight from 6:30 – 8:00 PM at the Addison Central School. The union is exploring a possible unification vote on Town Meeting Day 2011.

Addison selectmen are sponsoring a forum at Addison Central School to explore the possibility of converting the school into an independent private school. It would be known as a town academy that would serve Addison’s elementary-school-age pupils. The meeting will be Thursday evening at 6:30 at Addison Central School. Such town academies are permissible under Vermont Law. In order for a town academy to be created in Addison, residents would apparently have to vote to close Addison Central School, lease it to an independent school, send its students to that school, and leave Addison Northwest Supervisory Union.

The UD-3 school board is welcoming a new Middlebury member and is seeking to fill another vacancy created by the recent resignation of longtime Shoreham member Bill O’Neill. Quinn Mecham will serve the balance of the term of former UD-3 board member Connie Leach. The ID-4 school board, which represents Middlebury, appointed him to the position. That position will then be up for grabs on Town Meeting Day next March.

The Bristol Energy Committee presented the Mount Abraham Union High School board with a plan to install solar panels on the roof of the school building. But it will be awhile before Mount Abe opts for arrays. Chairman Lanny Smith feels it may not be cost effective at this point. It could take 48 years to see any pay back on the installation.

Vermont State Police are investigating an armed robbery in Wallingford. It happened shortly after 7 last night at the Smartshop Mobil Station. Police say a man held up the clerk at the register and demanded money. The man is described as 5'6"-5'8" with a slender build. Anyone with information should call police at (802) 773-9101.

Vermont State Police Detective Joshua P. Lemieux of west Rutland was arrested for drunken driving earlier this month. He pleaded innocent to the charge yesterday in Rutland criminal court through a waiver of appearance filed by his attorney. He was freed on the conditions he would not drive without a valid license and neither have nor drink alcohol. If convicted, he could face a maximum of two years in prison and a $750 fine.

Police are looking for a man who is stealing credit cards from gyms in Vermont and fraudulently charging thousands of dollars. They have photos and surveillance footage of the man they just don't know who he is. Since September police say he's stolen three credit cards out of gym locker rooms in Chittenden and Addison counties scamming Vermonters out of almost $11,000. Police describe the suspect as about 6 feet tall, 200 pounds, and in his early to mid 40s.

Although he appeared in court on four misdemeanors Monday, a homeless man living in Burlington was ordered held on one million dollars bail. Burlington police now say 45-year-old Jose Pazos, who was arrested for breaking into a storage shed at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl, is considered by police to be the prime suspect for the recent murder of Kathleen Smith.

The Smugglers' Notch road is back open. Vtrans closed the road over the weekend after cold winter weather made for dangerous conditions, but it was reopened yesterday after 2 PM. Officials say they will continue to monitor the roadway, which eventually will be closed for the winter.

A woman from Morrisville appeared in court yesterday to plead not guilty to charges she murdered her four-month-old grandson. Pamela Raymond is charged with second-degree murder in the baby's death. Prosecutors say she was caring for little Warren Bailey last month when she gave the infant some of her husband's prescription anti-depressants to keep the baby quiet.

One week before the election, and both the Democrat and Republican gubernatorial candidates told Vermonters they’d do something that has been promised before. Peter Shumlin and Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie said they’d bring cell phone service from one state border to the other, as well as high-speed Internet service in most of the rural areas of the state.

Vermont's attorney general and the Republican Governors Association are suing one another. In lawsuits filed yesterday, Attorney General William Sorrell is accusing the RGA of campaign finance law violations, while the RGA is calling Vermont's attorney general a partisan Democrat trying to muzzle its free speech. At issue is the RGA's sponsorship of ads that have aired in Vermont promoting GOP gubernatorial nominee Brian Dubie.

If you want to see how your car insurance company stacks up when it comes to consumer complaints, the New York state Insurance Department has the info on its website. The agency has released its 2010 annual ranking of automobile insurance companies showing how 167 insurers performed last year. It's based on the number of consumer complaints the department upheld, in relation to the volume of business. Click here to visit the site.

The New York state Department of Environmental Conservation says about 5,000 Deer Management Permits will be issued to hunters who were previously denied permits during the initial application period earlier this fall. Leftover permits will also be available in several Wildlife Management Units beginning Nov. 1.

Monday, October 25, 2010

WVTK Local & State News October 25, 2010

Pavement milling and paving will take place today and this Thursday on Elm Street from Route 7 to the Railroad Underpass. Traffic flow through the intersection of Elm, Exchange and Seymour Streets will be limited when the milling machine is working the intersection today. On Thursday the same intersection will be temporarily closed when paving machinery is crossing the intersection.

The next public meeting regarding the possible consolidation of schools in the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union will be held tomorrow from 6:30 – 8:00 PM at the Addison Central School. The union is exploring a possible unification vote on Town Meeting Day 2011.

Burlington Police say they've arrested a man in connection with the recent murder of Kathleen Smith. Forty-five-year-old Jose Pazos was arrested Saturday on trespassing charges, and is expected to be arraigned later today. Her car was found abandoned, and detectives went door-to-door in East Middlebury and at the Middlebury Snow Bowl looking for clues in the case. He was found hiding in an outbuilding at the Snow Bowl on Saturday and arrested. At this point, police are not saying what his connection to the murder case is.

Vermont State Police say an armed robbery at the Charlotte ferry dock last week was an inside job. Security Guard Patrick Risley initially told police he was robbed at gunpoint while removing money from a safe Thursday. But police say he later confessed that he planned the whole operation along with 23-year-old Matthew Duval and 19-year-old Shawn Cochran.

Federal Stimulus money is providing funding for road construction on Route 7 in Brandon which sees about 7 thousand travelers a day. But not everyone is happy with the construction. Some have even said they do not understand why the project is taking place. Agency of Transportation officials say it is preventative maintenance. The road is being widened to meet modern road specifications making the lanes 11 feet wide with an 8-foot shoulder.

After multiple complaints from Fair Haven town residents, the police department is looking for ways to reduce loitering and noise in the town park after-hours. Police Chief William Humphries presented a proposal to Select Board members to update the current park ordinance in hopes of limiting loitering in the park. The park currently closes at 11 PM and he is looking to close the park by 9 PM.

Police say a truck caught fire after sliding off an icy road early Friday in Killington. Vermont State Police said Kevin Brown of Pittsford was driving east on Route 4 when he lost control on the icy roadway near Brad Mead Drive. No one was injured, but the truck was a total loss.

Officials in Crown Point say one more budget workshop and the 2011 town budget will be complete. The next workshop is scheduled for tomorrow night at 6:30. And during tomorrow night's meeting they will be discuss a 3-percent pay raise for town employees. The public is encouraged to attend the meeting.

Vermont's unemployment rate dropped two tenths of a percentage point last month. Vermont's rate is now 5.8, a full point lower than a year ago, and almost four points lower than the national average. Around the state, Newport has the highest jobless rate at seven percent. Hartford has the lowest at 3.6 percent.

It's National Teen Driver Safety Week, and Vermont's health commissioner is stressing the importance of keeping your eyes on the road. Vermont is 1 of 30 states to pass laws banning texting while driving, a practice that the Pew Research Center estimates one in every three teenagers engages in.

The Vermont State Treasurer says a $20 million bond sale is good news for the state. Treasurer Jeb Spaulding says the interest cost of the 20-year bonds is 2.58%, the lowest rate since the 1960s. The money raised through the sale of the bonds will be used to pay for infrastructure projects authorized last year by the Legislature.

Vermont's two major gubernatorial candidates have entered the home stretch of a bitter fight by accusing one another of low blows in their 13th and final debate. Democrat Peter Shumlin and Republican Brian Dubie accused one another Saturday of being dishonest in campaign ads and earlier debates in characterizing one another's positions.

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife is reminding hunters that wearing fluorescent orange during deer season saves lives. Twenty years of data on hunting related shootings in Vermont found that 2 of the three most common causes of the shootings are visibility problems and mistaking other hunters for game. Vermont's 16-day rifle season for deer begins Nov. 13.

The state of Vermont has set up a new website where people can apply for food assistance and other state benefits. The state Department for Children and Families is encouraging people to check out the online site here. Officials say the site is designed to make applying for 3SquaresVT, health insurance, fuel assistance, Reach Up and other programs
quicker and easier. It's also designed to allow existing clients of the programs to check for information about their benefits.

Washington Electric Co-op is holding an open house at the Coventry landfill Nov. 4. The landfill, which has been generating gas since 2005, now provides enough electricity to meet two-thirds of the needs for 10,000 member households and businesses. Members of the co-op, and anyone else who's interested, are invited to the Nov. 4 open house, which will include tours of the landfill, which is Vermont's largest.

A new Vermont Passport Agency office under construction in St. Albans will open in February. The new office, in a former U.S. Postal Service building, is being built in part with $2.3 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Less than half of states have these offices.

The Tiny Tim Christmas Wish Program is preparing for its 30th season in Ticonderoga. Tiny Tim applications are now available and can be obtained at 17 Mount Hope Avenue. Deadline for applications is November 15. For more information contact Helen Gibbs at 585-7429.

Ghosts, goblins, monsters and other assorted creatures will roam downtown Ticonderoga as Halloween Fest comes to town. The annual “fright night” trick-or-treat event for children, sponsored by the Ticonderoga Montcalm Street Partnership, will be held this Friday from 3:30-5 p.m. on Montcalm Street. Businesses and organizations displaying a pumpkin in their windows will be participating in the event by handing out treats to young people as they walk the sidewalks.

Friday, October 22, 2010

WVTK Local & State News October 22, 2010

In final preparation for the opening of the Cross Street Bridge parking lot paving and marking will take place today in the lower lot behind the library and on Monday in the upper lot. The lower parking lot will receive a base course of pavement today and the upper lot directly behind Ilsley Library will be paved, marked and restored to full service. The lot will be closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Also, pavement milling and paving will take place this coming Monday and next Thursday on Elm Street from Route 7 to the Railroad Underpass. Traffic flow through the intersection of Elm, Exchange and Seymour Streets will be limited when the milling machine is working the intersection on Monday. On Thursday the same intersection will be temporarily closed when paving machinery is crossing the intersection.

State Police say two men held up a ferry dock in Charlotte. It happened at about 4 AM yesterday at the Lake Champlain Transportation Dock. The security guard was removing money from a safe at the time when the two men wearing ski masks and armed with guns took the cash away from him. The security guard was not hurt.

The next public meeting regarding the possible consolidation of schools in the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union will be held next Tuesday from 6:30 – 8:00 PM at the Addison Central School. The union is exploring a possible unification vote on Town Meeting Day 2011.

The Mount Abraham Union High School garden wrapped up its second year. The garden doubled in size this year. Mount Abe is just one of many schools in the county that have been taking the first steps toward incorporating more local food and nutrition education into their curriculums. So far this year, 438 pounds of produce from the garden have gone into school meals and that number is expected to rise to 600 pounds by the end of the harvest season.

The UD-3 board heard from more than a dozen teachers and community members this week who have requested that any cuts to the 2011-2012 budget, not affect direct educational services to students. Some advised the board to target extra-curricular activities and administrative positions in the Middlebury district, while others suggested school directors not cut anything from the budget.

This week Bristol planners looked over piles of color-coded maps and complex terms while studying the subtle differences between definitions like “Village Mix” and “Village Business.” The Bristol planning commission has been tasked with what Main Street will look like 10, 20 or even 50 years down the road.

Authorities are warning residents of New Haven and the general public to be wary of wild animals that act strangely. A rabid raccoon attacked a local man and his brother on Summer Road near New Haven Mills this week.

Vergennes Union High School Juniors took the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) tests earlier this month. School officials are optimistic that years of focus on improving test scores will pay off. Vergennes teachers have coordinated their efforts at helping students whose classroom work has lagged, and the school sets aside time at midday to allow teachers to give extra time to students.

Police investigating the killing of a Kathleen Smith are appealing for information about a fender-bender involving her car, which was found, abandoned about 60 miles from her Burlington home. Police are appealing to hunters who were in the Hancock area, asking them to contact police if they saw any stranded motorists, hitchhikers or anyone who looked out of place.

Cow Power is coming to Monument Farms. The program run by Central Vermont Public Service Corp. launched its Cow Power pilot program at Blue Spruce Farms in Bridport in 2005, and since then has added six more farms around the state. The digesters use cow manure to create electricity that CVPS buys from the farms and sells to environmentally conscious customers.

For the past six years Representative Steve Maier has been helping shape the state’s health care reform policy from the Statehouse. The Middlebury Democrat will now implement that policy in line with the new state job he officially started this week as The Department of Vermont Health Access’s (VHA) “Health Care Reform - Health Information Technology Integration Manager.”

The first building at Forest Park in Rutland was demolished yesterday. The demolition is the first phase of replacing the project with a mixed-housing neighborhood. Thirty-seven units are coming down, to be replaced by 33. Total costs for phase one are $8.5 million, which the Rutland Housing Authority gathered from federal and state sources.

While kids had the day off, Vermont teachers went back to school with two days at the Vermont National Education Association's 169th Annual Educators Convention. They were addressed by Vermont's Congressional delegation, as the very tough subject of states and school districts having to slash education budgets were discussed. Part of the two-day convention also involves workshops for teachers to improve their teaching practices.

The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant has reported a leak in a steam line connected to its emergency core cooling system. Plant spokesman Larry Smith says the leak is in a drain line from the system, and would not prevent it from operating in an emergency. He says steam is leaking from a pipe, that it does contain radioactivity, but that it is contained within the plant's main reactor building. Smith says there's no threat to public health and safety.

Continuing efforts to ensure a clean, low-carbon energy supply, Central Vermont Public Service and Green Mountain Power have signed contracts to purchase additional wind power from a New Hampshire wind project. CVPS’s contract is for 20 percent of the output of Noble Environmental Power’s planned 99-megawatt Granite Reliable Power Windpark in Coos County, NH, for 15 years starting in November 2012. Green Mountain Power’s contract is for seven percent of the Granite Reliable project for 20 years, also starting in November 2012.

Plattsburgh school officials are alarmed at what they've found. Two ninth-grade girls allegedly obsessed with the Columbine massacre that occurred more than a decade ago created a "hit list" of their peers. Eighty-four students were targeted on the hit list, the majority from Plattsburgh High School and others from Peru. Officials say they got the list just in time, before something much worse could have happened. The two girls have been suspended from Plattsburgh Senior High School until further notice and the hit list investigation is still pending. No charges against the girls are likely to be filed.

The National Weather Service has a new forecasting tool to help skiers and hikers prepare for conditions on popular summits, where the weather often is far more severe than down below. The Recreational Mountain Forecast features an online map where users can click on 19 summits in Vermont and northern New York and get a detailed hour-by-hour forecast. The experimental site becomes official on Nov. 5 after a year of testing and user feedback. Click here to visit the new site.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

WVTK Local & State News October 21, 2010

In final preparation for the opening of the Cross Street Bridge parking lot paving and marking will take place tomorrow in the lower lot behind the library and on Monday in the upper lot. The lower parking lot will receive a base course of pavement on Friday and the upper lot directly behind Ilsley Library will be paved, marked and restored to full service. The lot will be closed on Monday and Tuesday.

A Rutland oral surgeon has been charged with fraudulently billing Vermont Medicaid after wrongly diagnosing patients and for services he didn't provide. Dr. Peter B. Gray pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 23 felony counts of Medicaid fraud. Prosecutors say Gray faces fines of up to $1,000 or twice the amount of Medicaid payments obtained, or up to ten years in prison, or both, if convicted.

The Rutland Redevelopment Authority wants another $120,000 a year and an office in City Hall. The requests were part of a reorganization plan for the group that was outlined to the Community and Economic Development Committee yesterday. The committee took no action, but the aldermen present had generally favorable reactions. The proposal came out of eight months of discussions with groups including multiple levels of city government.

Vermont State Police say they've charged a former Ira town treasurer with embezzling more than $400,000. 58 year-old Donald Hewitt was charged Wednesday with embezzlement and cited into court Dec. 13. Ira officials noticed discrepancies in school and town accounts.

Police say the car of a Vermont woman killed in her Burlington home was found 60 miles away in Hancock. Burlington police said Wednesday that an autopsy determined that 50-year-old Kathleen Smith was killed sometime between Thursday and Saturday but did not release the cause of death. Police say investigators do not know if Smith knew her killer or if there is a risk to the community. The U.S. Marshal's Service has joined the investigation.

The 90th annual meeting of the Associated Industries of Vermont was held in Montpelier yesterday. Hundreds of the state's business leaders and manufacturers came together to discuss economic issues effecting Vermont's future in business, specifically the manufacturing sector. One hot topic was the organization's desire to relicense Vermont Yankee if the nuclear plant is found to be in compliance with regulations.

The budget and costs to ratepayers for Vermont's statewide energy efficiency program are going up. Vermont ratepayers pay a tax of a bit less than a penny per kilowatt-hour on their electric bills to support power-saving programs administered by Efficiency Vermont. For residential ratepayers, the tax is going up on Feb. 1 from about seven-tenths of a cent to about nine-tenths of a cent.

FairPoint Communications Inc. has reworked the numbers and is asking the Vermont Public Service Board to take another look at the phone company's plan to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. FairPoint’s Vermont President says the company is hoping for a positive response from the board by late November.

The two major party candidates hoping to become Vermont's next secretary of state are both promising to make it easier for entrepreneurs to create jobs in the state. Democrat Jim Condos and Republican Jason Gibbs say they want to build on their previous government experience.

Police are investigating the suspected theft of a rescue vehicle from a fire department in southern Vermont. East Dover Fire Chief John Abel says the vehicle was discovered missing from the building early Wednesday morning after firefighters returned from a fire. Fire crews were out at a fire in Williamsville from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m.

The chief judge of New York's courts has implemented a new rule requiring every lawyer handling a foreclosure to sign a form verifying that all paperwork in the case is accurate. The move comes amid an uproar over revelations that mortgage lenders nationwide cut corners on paperwork and legal procedure as they moved to seize millions of homes.

New York State Police are investigating the discovery of a pellet gun at Peru Central School. The Airsoft pistol was found in a boys' locker room. Police are investigating whom it belongs to and how it got in the school. Airsoft guns fire small plastic pistols and are generally not considered dangerous, but they do look like real guns and they do violate the ban on weapons in school.

A boat that conducted extensive research on Lake Champlain was heavily damaged by last week's Nor'easter. The RV Monitor was tied to a dock at SUNY Plattsburgh's Valcour Conference Center. It's now aground in four to five feet of water. The 32-foot, six-ton boat has been used for research on water quality and blue-green algae. SUNY estimates it will take at least a month to fully assess damage to the vessel.

This season, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra marks its 10th year with Jaime Laredo as music director. Laredo will open the 2010-2011 VSO Masterworks season on Saturday at Burlington’s Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. Laredo’s tenure has resulted not only in increased popularity of the state’s professional symphony orchestra, but of a vast improvement in the quality of its playing. You can view the entire concert schedule and a lot more at VSO Dot Org.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

WVTK Local & State News October 20, 2010

The U.S. Post Office is planning to offer a special pictorial postmark for the grand opening of the Cross Street Bridge here in Middlebury. The opening is scheduled for October 30th. On that day, Post Office staff will be at the bridge from 12 Noon to 4 PM., selling envelopes and postcards, which upon request, will be stamped with the pictorial representation of the bridge.

Rural Vermont announced the hiring of Jared Carter as the organization's new executive director. Carter is an activist and will work with Vermont farmers to promote Rural Vermont's mission of a self-sufficient local food system that supports farmers and communities.

Middlebury's revamped and "green" McDonald's Restaurant will reopen October 28th. The new, energy efficient restaurant will sport a fresh exterior and interior look with added outside green space. On hand for the ribbon-cutting event will be Gov. Jim Douglas as well as Bruce from the WVTK Wake Up Crew. The restaurant will open at 7 AM with Gov. Douglas cutting the ribbon at 3 PM. Ronald McDonald will appear from 5-7 that afternoon.

Mark Brady of Middlebury has been selected for induction into the Vermont Association of Broadcasters' Hall of Fame. Brady served as program director of radio station WJOY during the early 1970’s. He later purchased WFAD-AM here in Middlebury and then later added WCVM-FM. Brady also served three years as president of the VAB. He’s currently the general manager of New Market Press newspapers.

Former Rutland Fire Chief Gerald Lloyd died at the age of 75 Monday night. He served 41 years at the Fire Department, 13 of those years as chief. During his long tenure, he's credited with helping to unionize the department's membership, upgrading its training standards and leading crews in some of the most dangerous fires the city has seen. Lloyd's memorial service will be at Christ the King Church on Friday at 1 PM with a reception to follow.

Rutland City police are investigating a break-in and burglary at Freeman Jewelers that took place Monday night. Someone pitched a stone through one of the two glass front doors. The person or persons involved in the break-in grabbed more than a half dozen pieces of jewelry from one of the cases and fled the scene. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Rutland police.

A newly appointed Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs has started meeting in what officials say is a step toward creating a system for recognizing Indian tribes in the state. On Tuesday the nine-member commission heard testimony on the history of tribes seeking state recognition in Vermont. A new state law created a process for the commission to recommend tribal recognition.

The two major party candidates for Vermont governor are going at it again. With two weeks to go before the Nov. 2 election, Democrat Peter Shumlin and Republican Brian Dubie squared off yesterday in their twelfth debate, at a museum on the shores of Lake Champlain.

Police in Burlington, Vt., have released the name of a woman found slain in her home. The body of 50-year-old Kathleen Smith was found amid signs of a struggle in Burlington's north end on Monday. Police Lt. Jennifer Morrison says the cause and manner of death aren't known yet but that investigators have classified it as a homicide. Police took the unusual step yesterday of releasing photographs of a man they said isn't a suspect but might have important information about the case, asking that anyone who recognizes him contact them.

Police at the University of Vermont are investigating the untimely death of a student. School officials say the deceased was a freshman from out-of-state, but they have not released his name. He was found dead in Chittenden Hall Monday. Police are investigating, but school officials say no other people were involved and they do not suspect foul play.

Three people were sent to the hospital after an accident on Route 7 in Ferrisburgh yesterday morning. The crash involved two northbound vehicles. Police say the driver of a Subaru wasn't paying attention and drove right into the rear of a Jeep that was slowing down to make a turn. The collision caused the Jeep to roll over, injuring three of the five people inside. The accident backed up traffic on the busy highway for more than an hour.

Arizona Sen. John McCain is lending his support to a U.S. Senate candidate from Vermont. McCain attended a fundraiser and a rally for Republican candidate Len Britton, who's running against Sen. Patrick Leahy. About 175 people, many of them aging veterans, turned out for the rally in South Burlington.

FairPoint Communications and its major union have agreed on making 90 temporary call center employees permanent, and the union is celebrating the change. The change affects temporary workers at FairPoint facilities in Portland and Bangor, ME, Manchester, NH. And Burlington. Officials with Local 1400 of the Communication Workers of America say the change comes after an 18-month battle with management, and will mean both better job security for the workers and better service for customers.

1 of 2 companies that offers health insurance through Vermont's public program Catamount Health is increasing its rates next year by 21%. The state has approved the increase requested by MVP Health Care. A single person paying MVP for the full cost of health insurance will be charged $527 a month. Roughly the same coverage from the state's other provider, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont, is $414 a month. Catamount Health subsidizes coverage for low income Vermonters on a sliding scale based on income.

Vermonters appear to be divided over what should happen to the state's nuclear plant. That's according to the results of a new poll released on Monday. Of the 625 people surveyed, 44 percent said they oppose a new 20-year license for Vermont Yankee while 39 percent want to see the plant's license renewed when it expires in 2012. The poll found 17 percent are undecided.

Rep. Peter Welch held a roundtable yesterday with local business and education leaders to discuss job opportunities for the returning 1,500 guard members from Afghanistan. According to Welch unemployment with returning soldiers is 20 percent and that's twice the national average. Suggestions from yesterday’s meeting will be evaluated and could be incorporated into legislation.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

WVTK Local & State News October 19, 2010

Eric Grenier of Orwell told police he was helping a man named “Rocko” sell cocaine in Rutland Friday night when a gun was fired into an apartment house on Summer Street. But Grenier told state police it was not he but Rocko who fired the gun. He hasn’t been charged in connection with the shooting although he was charged with a pair of misdemeanors after police found a potted marijuana plant in his car and determined he was driving with a suspended license.

Last Friday during a political forum at the Middlebury Inn, Addison County candidates for the Vermont House and Senate shared their views on issues ranging from health care to the future of Vermont Yankee. The forum provided one of the final opportunities candidates had to in front of voters before the Nov. 2 general election. More than 30 people turned out for the event co-hosted by the Addison County Chamber of Commerce and People of Addison County Together.

This Thursday Middlebury College will kick off a weeklong fall symposium that student organizers hope will shine a light on poverty that exists in our own backyard. The symposium, “American Poverty in Context,” will run October 21st to the 29th. It will bring a series of speakers to campus who have been involved in important work related to domestic poverty. Speakers will include members of Project Health, a nonprofit organization that seeks to provide affordable medical care for low-income patients, and others involved with the Vermont Fuel and Food Partnership.

According to Vergennes City Manager Mel Hawley the project to repair the sidewalk and provide handicap access to businesses at the intersection of Main and Green streets should be complete by mid-November. There will be no direct cost to city taxpayers. The project, which will also improve a bus stop and a sidewalk bulb-out at the intersection’s southeast corner, carries a total starting price of about $84,500.

The Addison Gleaners have been out in the fields, picking peppers, root vegetables, Swiss chard and anything else that happens to be left over. The produce that the gleaners pick goes to the food shelf at Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects in Middlebury. The program is in its second year.

Committee members of the Rutland Regional Planning Commission will vote today to approve or deny the town plans for Poultney, Mendon, Killington and Pawlet. They will also discuss two new development projects seeking permits that include an Act 248 application by Beaver Wood Energy and an update on an Act 250 application by Green Mountain Plaza. The commission’s meeting starts at 5 PM in the conference room on the third floor of The Opera House on Merchants Row in Rutland.

A Rutland dental surgeon with a troubled past is facing almost two dozen criminal counts for alleged Medicaid fraud. Dr. Peter B. Gray appeared in Rutland criminal court yesterday where he pleaded innocent to 23 felony counts of making fraudulent claims of service to the Medicaid program. He also denied the state’s charges and pointed to his long history in Rutland as evidence.

Fashion Bug in the Rutland Shopping Plaza is closing by the end of January. A company spokesperson said that Rutland was one of a handful of stores targeted to close this year. She said the Rutland store has been in business 15 years. It has 10 employees who are invited to apply for jobs at the store in Claremont, NH.

The Vermont Folklife Center has launched a web page on Bosnian refugees settled in Vermont. The page, part of the center’s site at, is the first in a series on the experiences of refugees who come to Vermont, titled “New Neighbors.” The site includes research by the center’s archive along with video and photographs.

The death of a woman found in the backyard of her home in Burlington's old North End Monday is now classified as a homicide. An autopsy is scheduled for later today to determine the exact cause of death. Her name has not yet been released, but authorities say a woman in her 50's lived at the home on Park Street.

Lieutenant Governor and Republican nominee for governor Brian Dubie wants his Democratic opponent investigated for possibly violating state elections law. Dubie's campaign says Peter Shumlin's financial disclosure report did not include "in-kind contributions" made by the Vermont Troopers Association.

Vermont's minimum wage will go up next year. The Department of Labor announced yesterday the wage will climb from the current $8.06 an hour to $8.15 an hour beginning on January 1st. For service and tipped employees, the wage goes from $3.91 to $3.95. Vermont's minimum wage is tied to the Consumer Price Index which rose 1.1 percent this year.

A Vermont judge is weighing whether to dismiss a lawsuit aimed at getting information about how criminal investigators use cell phone tracking technology to keep tabs on people and their whereabouts. Washington Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford heard arguments yesterday but didn't immediately render a decision. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the civil suit in March after its public records requests for the information was denied by the state Attorney General's office.

VSAC wants to be able to continue to service loans held by state residents. Changes in federal law mean the Vermont Student Assistance Corp. could get an annual quota of loans to service from across the country and that most Vermont loans would be handled by organizations out of state. The federal Department of Education wants to assign loans randomly as a way to evaluate how well loan servicers perform. The decision could affect about 150 VSAC loan-servicing jobs.

The New York state Public Service Commission wants to sign up 250 households for a new effort to help people monitor their energy usage and cut their utility bills. The households to be selected statewide for the program will have an electricity monitor installed in their homes at no cost. Participants in the Jumpstart NY initiative can see their electrical use in real time. To learn more about the program, visit

A heating oil company in northern New England is enlisting Facebook to engage customers and help distribute $10,000 to nonprofit organizations. Rather than doling the money out, Dead River is asking Facebook users to use clues to find 20 hidden $500 charitable certificates in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Monday, October 18, 2010

WVTK Local & State News October 18, 2010

Rutland Police are asking for your help tonight trying to figure out why someone shot at a house then drove away. Police say Friday night just before midnight, 28-year-old Eric Grenier of Orwell drove up to 43 Summer Street in Rutland and fired a shot into an upstairs apartment. Rutland police got tips from neighbors, and before too long were able to track down Grenier. If you have any information you are urged to call Rutland City Police.

A year ago Saturday, officials from New York and Vermont closed the Champlain Bridge for good due to severe structural problems. Community members gathered on Saturday at Crown Point on the shores of Lake Champlain beside the bridge site to reflect on the past year. The community seems more optimistic now because the bridge is more than halfway to its projected completion date in September 2011.

The National Weather Service says snowfall records have been smashed on Vermont's highest mountain. The weather service said Mount Mansfield received 18 inches of snow on Saturday, breaking the old record for the date of 4 inches, set in 1982. The mountain got 7 inches of snow on Friday, which also set a record for the date. Meanwhile Vermont's Killington Resort got anywhere from 4 to 10 inches of snow from the passing Nor'easter.

Fire and Rescue crews were very busy Friday, trying to keep up with the amount of weather related calls. Everything from fixing downed power lines and picking up the tree limbs the wind left behind. In Charlotte fire officials say they had at least three fire trucks out at any given time responding to power lines and trees down, and this was on top of their normal call volume.

It's been a busy autumn in Vermont for deer poachers and the game wardens that try to catch them. Already Vermont Fish and Wildlife says five people have been charged including George Devoid, of Salisbury, and Ronald Blakeslee, of Brandon, who were cited Sept. 21 for deer poaching.

To passengers looking forward to riding high-speed trains in New England, planners have a message: Not so fast. Washington is spending $8 billion in federal stimulus money to establish high-speed rail corridors nationwide. But in populated areas of New England where city streets and railroad tracks intersect and trains must negotiate curves, hills and tunnels, travel at speeds as high as 150 mph are out of the question.

Moody's Investors Service has downgraded the credit rating for Vermont's Burlington International Airport, the second time it has fallen this year. The credit rating for Burlington's Electric Department also was downgraded. Moody's cited financial uncertainties arising for Burlington Telecom's $17 million debt to the city.

The Vermont Health Department says there is plenty of flu vaccine available this year. A number of public clinics are planned. But unlike last year, there will be no school-based flu clinics. Last year those clinics were scheduled to prevent the H1N1 virus from spreading rapidly. The public vaccination clinics will be starting shortly.

The Vermont Attorney General has joined his colleagues across the country in a foreclosure document mess. There are allegations that banks evicted people without reading the documents. Several major lenders have suspended foreclosure and sales of repossessed homes until the picture becomes clearer. Vermont is part of the 50 state investigation.

Three people are safe and sound after getting stranded on a mountain in Fayston. Officials say the hikers from New York became stranded on Burnt Rock Mountain in the Mad River Valley. They spent the night near the top Friday night but needed help getting home Saturday. Waterbury Backcountry Rescue led the three hikers down the mountain Saturday afternoon.

A recent poll shows the race for Vermont governor is a dead heat. The poll conducted by Mason Dixon asked 625 voters if the election were today, whom would they choose? The answer is Republican Brian Dubie leads Democrat Peter Shumlin by a single percentage point-- 44 percent to 43 percent.

A court hearing is set for today in the American Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit against the state of Vermont, which seeks information on whether police agencies are using cell phone tracking technology to keep tabs on people and their whereabouts. The ACLU filed the suit in March after its public records requests for the information was denied by the state Attorney General's office, which contends that the information is exempt.

School officials in the five-town Washington Central Supervisory Union are scheduled to resume bargaining with teachers Oct. 25 in hopes of breaking their contract negotiation stalemate. Teachers at elementary schools in Berlin, Calais, East Montpelier, Middlesex and Worcester, and U-32 Middle and High School are working with a contract.

The Ticonderoga Federal Credit Union will host Shred Fest, a free paper-shredding event to increase public awareness of identity theft prevention, today and tomorrow as part of their annual Credit Union Week celebration. Documents will be shredded on site in a mobile shredder. The Credit Union asks participants to bring a non-perishable food item for donation to the local food pantries, in exchange for the free service. Shredding will be at the Ticonderoga office 11AM to 1PM today and at the Port Henry office 9-11 AM tomorrow.

The Bixby Library’s Booked for Bikes program just finished its thirteenth year. Young people, ages 5-15, read books throughout the summer months in hopes of winning a Trek Mountain Bike provided by the Vergennes Rotary Club. The literacy program was designed to help keep kids reading during the summer months. For more information regarding the "Booked for Bikes" program you can visit their website at

Friday, October 15, 2010

WVTK Local & State News October 15, 2010

New England is bracing for a nor'easter that could bring 1-3 inches of rain and strong wind gusts to parts of the six-state region. The National Weather Service says some higher elevations in the Berkshires and southern Vermont could even see a bit of wet snow mixed in during the storm.

Tonight is “The First Annual WVTK Celebrity Wait Night “ to benefit The American Cancer Society’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” Walk! Please join us at the Farmers Diner here in the Historic Marble Works in Middlebury from 5 – 8:30 PM! Local and Regional Celebrities, including 92-1 WVTK’s Sarah Stone & Bruce Zeman, will be waiting on tables and working hard to earn BIG tips from you that will be donated directly to the American Cancer Society! And it’s not too late to get involved with “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” this Sunday at Dorset Park in South Burlington. Support the WVTK Addison County Striders right now by clicking here!

The UD-3 school board will begin asking the public’s help in formulating one the most difficult budgets ever put together for Middlebury Union Middle School and High School. Plans call for the UD-3 board to draft a 2011-2012 budget that reflects a state-recommended 2-percent decrease in net education spending compared to this year’s budget. The UD-3 meeting is set for 6 PM in the Middlebury Union High School library next Tuesday the 19th.

The Bristol Planning Commission will be making revisions to the town’s zoning regulations over the course of the next eight weeks. Beginning with the next meeting on Tuesday members of the planning commission will review the five downtown zones. Members of the commission will also address the Conservation Zone.

This past Tuesday Students from Leicester Central School, Whiting Elementary School and Sudbury Country School gathered in Leicester to spend an hour inside the National Science Center Mobile Discovery Unit. It’s a semi-trailer truck equipped with a full array of science gadgets including an exhibit demonstrating static electricity.

Vergennes officials and the owner of the Grist Mill Island in the Otter Creek Falls have reached a deal. Both sides hope it will end both an ongoing Development Review Board permit process and Environmental Court case that have lingered for more than two years.

It appears that Lincoln author Louella Bryant’s writing career is beginning to take off with some recent recognition. Premier Book Awards recently named “Full Bloom,” her collection of 14 short stories, the Best Book of the Year in the General Fiction category.

The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution has awarded filmmaker Caro Thompson of Walden, VT, its History Medal for her documentary "Champlain: The Lake Between". The film, which premiered on Vermont Public Television as part of the Champlain Quadricentennial, explores the diplomacy and trade between Native nations and Europeans that flourished in the region during the 17th and 18th centuries. Vermont Public Television will re-air "Champlain: The Lake Between" on Monday, October 18, at 10:30 PM.

The Rutland School Board is considering forbidding students from traveling internationally on school trips. The Board is expected to vote on the policy at its meeting November 23rd. Under the new policy, students would not take school trips internationally but exceptions could be made for school partnerships. Members agreed that some international travel for students is dangerous in this day and age.

City officials in Burlington intentionally dumped trash outside of City Hall yesterday for a demonstration of what was truly trash, and what could be recycled or put into composting. It's the city's second annual waste sort, assisted by the Chittenden Solid Waste District. City Hall is hoped to be an example to Chittenden County businesses, where its estimated waste that is thrown away is really only 25-percent trash.

The Attorney General's Office is warning us once again to be on the lookout for scams. There has been a recent spike in wire transfer frauds. The scam works like this ... you get an "official letter" telling you that you've won along with a check for part of the winnings. In order to get the rest, you'll need to wire money to cover some sort of fee.

The Vermont State Police are searching for two "armed and dangerous" men in connection with the shooting of a woman in the town of Charleston. Police say 53-year-old Donelle Morin, of Charleston, was found lying in the road on Vermont Route 5A in Charleston at about 11:10 AM yesterday, suffering from injuries that weren't life-threatening. Police say two male suspects, one white and one African American, fled the scene in a gray, short body Chevrolet Silverado or Dodge Ram pickup truck.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is faulting the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant for poor housekeeping in the 1970s and inadequate checking of underground pipes much more recently. The NRC issued an inspection report on Wednesday calling recent leaks of tritium at the Vernon reactor minor, saying they had posed no threat to the public health and safety.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

WVTK Local & State News October 14, 2010

A 33-year-old North Ferrisburgh man has been charged with burglary and endangering the welfare of a child. New York State Police say Charles Pickett had broken into a residence in Essex County and was lining up furniture to steal when police arrived and caught him red handed; with his 3-year-old daughter waiting for her father in his pickup truck.

A Chittenden man who lead police on a high speed chase in Clarendon answered to a number of charges this week. 21-year-old Keith M. Wheeler plead innocent to the charges. During the chase, police said Wheeler accelerated to speeds of up to 70 mph and crossed into oncoming lanes of traffic.

A man from Rockingham will appear in U.S. District Court in Burlington today for a hearing requesting he remain held until trial. 43-year-old Christopher King was arraigned Tuesday on a charge of making threats against President Barack Obama. He is pleading not guilty, but could face up to 5 years in prison and a quarter of a million dollars in fines if convicted.

Vermont's Republican gubernatorial candidate says he feels his Democratic opponent is questioning his integrity and he doesn't like it. Brian Dubie made the comments yesterday during a debate with Peter Shumlin. During the campaign, Shumlin has said he felt Dubie was placing the needs of the shareholders of the state's only nuclear power plant ahead of the needs of the people of Vermont.

If you felt the ground shaking yesterday afternoon your not alone. The Essex County Office of Emergency Services has confirmed that an earthquake centered just north of Elizabethtown measured 2.1 in magnitude. The earthquake struck yesterday afternoon around 1:30 PM. No injuries has been reported from the small quake.

The Social Security Administration is expected to announce retirees will get no increase next year in their monthly. The government says Social Security was the primary source of income for 64 percent of retirees who got benefits in 2008 and one-third of those people relied on it for at least 90 percent of their income.

The 5-year-old boy who called 911 because he was left home alone on his father's wedding day now has a new bicycle for his efforts. Jaydon LaFountain had been recently taught how to dial 911 during a visit to his school by the Moriah Fire Department. Ticonderoga Police held a recognition ceremony Monday evening for Jaydon at the Ticonderoga Fire Department. At the ceremony, Jaydon's mother said she was proud of him for what he did.

Monday, October 11, 2010

WVTK Local & State News October 11, 2010

It's Columbus Day and a number of businesses are closed in observance. In fact, all local, state, and federal courts and offices are closed today. All post offices are closed today with no delivery except for express mail. Some banks are open.

The next public meeting regarding the possible consolidation of schools in the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union will be held tomorrow from 6:30 – 8:00 PM at the Ferrisburgh Central School. The union is exploring a possible unification vote on Town Meeting Day 2011.

Crown Point residents will mark the year anniversary of Champlain Bridge closure. A "Community Gathering" will be held at 1:30 PM Saturday, October 16, at the Crown Point State Historic Site, adjacent to the now demolished bridge. The event will include a question-and-answer session with Flatiron Construction personnel. The new bridge is expected to be open to traffic by December of 2011.

Police are looking for $9,000 worth of guns and other valuables taken from a West Addison home sometime in the last two weeks. Police say between Sept. 22 and Oct. 5 someone forced their way into a home on Route 17 and stole 13 firearms, ammunition, a safe, camera, bows and arrows and fishing tackle valued at more than $9,000. Anyone with any information is asked to call the Vermont State Police at the New Haven barracks.

About 500 pounds of powdered calcium carbonate became airborne after spilling out of the Omya Inc. plant in Florence early yesterday morning. The fine powder was a finished product and mixed with other elements but does not pose a risk to human health or the environment. Cleanup efforts were under way yesterday and will continue today.

Views from the other side of education policy reform, including that of a longtime Vermont superintendent, are now available online. Reports and briefs critical of federal education policies from the Colorado-based think tank National Education Policy Center, managed by William Mathis, are available to the public for free or for purchase on their website ( 

Mathis is the former head of the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union and was the longest-serving superintendent in the state.

More problems are being reported at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant with the radioactive element tritium. Vermont health officials announced Friday it had been detected in a drinking well on the plant property. The well apparently had not been used since March, and the EPA says the levels of tritium are within what's considered a "safe" range. The state health department is now looking into whether ongoing testing at the plant may have cross-contaminated the well.

Candidates misspeaking, mangling descriptions of their opponents' proposals and getting historic facts wrong have become a big feature in this year's campaign for governor of Vermont. Peter Shumlin vastly exaggerated the amount of electricity Germany gets from solar power and Brian Dubie falsely described a list of crimes he waved around at a Bennington debate as a list of inmates. Political observers say the rhetoric has strayed from the truth this year more often than is the norm in campaigns for governor of Vermont.

Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas is helping get the word out about the need to prevent home fires. On Friday the governor signed a proclamation at the St. Johnsbury Elementary highlighting fire prevention week, which ends Saturday. The governor says working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are essential for the safety of Vermonters.

A Vermont advocacy group is pushing for a law that would ban cleaning products that have toxins in them from schools. Environmentally friendly cleaning products have been required in state buildings since 2004, but now Vermont Public Interest Research Group wants lawmakers to extend that to schools. Vermont lawmakers considered a bill to ban them in the Legislature's last session, but the bill didn't make it out of committee.

Seven time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong is going to be in Vermont this week to help raise money to fight ovarian cancer. Armstrong is planning to speak at the 2nd Annual Mary E. Haas Ovarian Cancer Fundraiser & Awareness Dinner at the Sugarbush resort in Warren. The dinner is scheduled for Wednesday. Armstrong is a cancer survivor.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is hoping to help Social Security recipients who face another year without cost-of-living adjustments. The COLA adjustments are automatically set each year based on inflation. And The Bureau of Labor Statistics is expected to announce Friday that there will be no increase in the coming year. He plans to introduce a measure calling for a one-time payment of 250 dollars in lieu of the COLA adjustment.

There is good news for those out of work right now ... the seasonal hiring season has started. Many major retailers like JC Penny, Kohls, and Best Buy all say they will be bringing on more employees this season than last year. And as an added bonus, if you get a job of this early in the season, it increases your chances of keeping it after the holidays are over.

The grow an extra row campaign is coming to an end, but officials say they still need a lot more food. Rutland are farm and food link collects donations from families and farmers at the Saturday farmers market. The food is distributed to food shelves across Rutland County to provide fresh produce to struggling families. Organizers say they have seen lots of generosity so far, but they are still short on their goal. They have set a goal of collecting 20 THOUSAND POUNDS OF FOOD by the end of next month.

Foreclosures around the country are being halted. Bank of America-- the nation's largest bank-- announced Friday it's stopping sales of foreclosed homes due to potential flaws in foreclosure documents. The move comes amid evidence that mortgage company employees and their lawyers may have finalized foreclosure documents without verifying them. Vermont currently has the lowest foreclosure rate in the country, so realtors predict the impact here will be minimal.

New voting machines malfunctioned in most New York counties during last month's primary election. The New York Comptroller says 44 of the 57 counties outside of New York City experienced problems. Machines malfunctioned in 21 counties, small print caused voter confusion in 15 counties and privacy issues were reported in 20 counties. The new machines replaced an 80-year-old mechanical lever system.

Friday, October 8, 2010

WVTK Local & State News October 8, 2010

Local businesses appear to be making ends meet. Recently some business professionals from around Addison County we asked about the area economy. Some were cautiously optimistic others said they were skeptical but hopeful. It appears though that Vermont and Addison County are better off compared to other parts of the country.

After almost closing last year the Shard Villa residential care home continues its recovery. The historic mansion is now at capacity with 17 senior residents. Its top administrator recently received a statewide award for her stewardship of the facility. The Vermont Health Care Association named Deb Choma the 2010 Residential Care Administrator of the Year. Shard Villa is even exploring the possibility of renting out its grounds for occasional weddings, meetings and other special events to increase revenue.

In March Middlebury residents will likely be asked to approve a $3 million bond issue to address a growing backlog of road improvement projects. These projects would more than likely remain on the town’s to-do list due to a lack of available resources.

Members of the Fenn family have decided to appeal to the Vermont Environmental Court the recent decision by the Middlebury Development Review Board. The board denied their application for a proposed gravel pit off Route 116.

Lead negotiators on both sides said they are satisfied with the new two-year Addison Northwest Supervisory Union teachers’ contract. It will expire in June 2012 and preserves teachers’ existing health-care benefits and base pay. Negotiators reached agreement in mid-August. In late September both the Addison Northwest Teachers’ Association and the Supervisory Union board gave final approval.

After more than a year officials in the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union are hopeful that negotiations may be nearing an end. However the issues of salary and benefits remain on the table. Superintendent John Castle remains optimistic there will be a resolution in the next couple of months.

A Rutland Judge was asked yesterday by David Schauwecker’s attorney whether alleged misconduct amounted to a criminal offense and, if it did, what harm came from his actions. But the assistant attorney general prosecuting the former Rutland Police sergeant said his alleged tampering of evidence and lying to police warranted a criminal charge whether his actions produced harmful results or not. The Judge didn’t make a decision on the motion to dismiss but said she would issue a written decision after considering the arguments.

A Vermont man is going to prison for a minimum of 4 years after being convicted on charges stemming from a burglary at a Rutland home in which a note was left inside threatening the family if a $1 million ransom wasn't paid. The mother of the family living at the home asked a judge to reject a plea deal that 46-year-old Michael Bousquet made with prosecutors and charge him with extortion.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is fighting efforts to raise the retirement age. A White House Commission is looking at raising retirement for Social Security to 68, 69 or 70 years old. Supporters say the Social Security system is not sustainable in the long run and some changes are needed.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor David Paterson want to stop New Yorkers from spending food stamps on sugary drinks. They're asking the federal government to add sugar-sweetened drinks to the list of banned items that include cigarettes and alcohol. City leaders say about 1.7 million New Yorkers use food stamps, and spent more than $130 million on sugary drinks last year.

A bomb threat at Essex High School yesterday forced the evacuation of hundreds of students. Administrators say they discovered the bomb threat around 9 AM, but they aren't giving details about the threat. They evacuated students into the parking lots and quickly cleared the ice rink of any threat so they could move students in there. Essex Police conducted a full sweep of the school. Police did not find anything and classes resumed a short time later.

The United States Green Building Council has recently granted Fort Ticonderoga's Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. The certification is a national accreditation honor given to buildings that have been rated as "green" for their efforts to minimize negative impacts on the environment, and that actually make a positive contribution through their structure and design.

The downtown Ticonderoga street art project has generated tangible results. An auction of the 32 decorated wooden soldiers that stood guard in the community this summer raised $5,000 for new lighting at the Liberty Monument. More than 60 people turned out for auction at Adam's Rib on September 30th when the soldiers and four other pieces of donated artwork were put up for auction by the Ticonderoga Montcalm Street Partnership.

Dozens of area children will now have adequate supplies for the school year thanks to donations made by those who participated in the Ticonderoga Federal Credit Union School Supplies Drive. School supplies were collected at the Credit Union offices and ATM locations beginning in mid-August through Labor Day. The donations were delivered to eight area schools.

Moriah Central School will again host a professional orchestra in concert. The Count Basie Orchestra will perform at the school Monday, October 25, at 7 p.m. in the auditorium. Tickets for the jazz show are $16 each and proceeds will benefit the Moriah music department.

Despite standing water and muddy fields, apple orchards are still going to be open for business in South Hero this weekend. This is the usual weekend for the annual AppleFest, but on this 21st year, there's a big problem with finding a place to park, as recent heavy rains left the primary parking field waterlogged. Orchard owners are encouraging people to visit this weekend, but is also cautioning them about limited parking.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

WVTK Local & State News October 7, 2010

Rutland’s Mount St. Joseph Academy recently received accreditation by a respected New England education association. The New England Association of Schools and Colleges required the school to submit a long-range plan for how it would maintain enrollment in the future and finance the school operation in order to remain a candidate for accreditation. The private Catholic high school is already accredited by the Vermont Department of Education but it was seeking the additional accolade.

Killington is requesting proposals from contractors to do a water study in town. 

The Select Board unanimously accepted a recommendation this week from a newly formed water committee to go forward with the study to determine what the town’s water resources are. A water study would provide a mapping of the wells in town, which would assist in future town development.

About 16,000 Vermont households whose food benefits are being reduced under a program called 3SquaresVT have been given a reprieve. The state Department for Children and Families has notified them that their benefits - once known as food stamps - would be reduced beginning Oct. 1. But the reduction is being postponed for three months.

A man police have been looking for in both Vermont and New Hampshire the past several weeks is finally in custody. Sean McGurk was arrested Wednesday morning when a Vermont State Police task force surrounded an abandoned home in Bradford McGurk now faces several criminal charges in both states.

Parents and students in the Morristown school district are saying they've had it with bullying, and accuse People's Academy of not doing enough to stop it. They set up a picket line near the school, saying the schools in the district need to take control. The superintendent of the school system says they have very clear expectations for positive student behavior and clear guidelines and consequences when those guidelines are crossed.

Funeral arrangements have been made for Pat O'Hagan. Calling hours for the Sheffield woman are Sunday afternoon and her funeral is Monday morning at the St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Lyndonville. Instead of sending flowers, O'Hagan's children are asking Vermonters to support one of the nonprofits their mom most loved. Pat O'Hagan volunteered at the Sheffield Food Pantry, which serves about 200 families.

Vermont state police officers and members of the public were honored yesterday for public safety achievements. Troopers and their families from around the state gathered at the Statehouse for the annual ceremony. Promotions were handed out and troopers and civilians received awards for savings lives and other acts of valor and heroism.

Peter Shumlin and Brian Dubie are actually agreeing on something. Both candidates for governor said Wednesday, they are committed to funding Doctor Dynasaur. There are currently 64,651 children enrolled in the low cost health insurance program for Vermont children and pregnant women.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is being sued by some of its shareholders over the company's accounting practices. The suit names the company and 12 members of the board of directors, alleging they artificially inflated prices on nearly $200 million in personally held stock so they could profit when the stock took a nose dive.

A lawyer who was refused access to police video of state Auditor Tom Salmon's drunken driving arrest is suing the Vermont Department of Public Safety over it. John Franco, a supporter of Salmon's Democratic opponent, Doug Hoffer, filed suit yesterday in U.S. District Court. The suit, which names Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Tremblay and Salmon as defendants, maintains that the dashboard camera video is a public record and should be publicly released.

Police say another Vermont political candidate has had some trouble behind the wheel. Jim Condos, a Democrat running for secretary of state, rear-ended another car in traffic Tuesday in Montpelier. Neither he nor the other driver was hurt and police don't expect charges.

Struggling homeowners in our region are getting some help hanging on to their homes. Under the federal Emergency Homeowners Loan Program Vermont will get about $4.8 million, New Hampshire about $12.7 million and New York over $111 million to offer zero-interest bridge loans. Those loans are for people who are facing foreclosure because unemployment, income cuts or medical emergencies have kept them from making mortgage payments.

The Ticonderoga Police Department has hired another part-time officer in an effort to cut costs. Ron O'Neil, a former detective lieutenant with the Paramus, N.J., Police Department now living in Ticonderoga, was hired at the Sept. 9 town board meeting. O'Neil is the fourth part-time officer hired by the town.

Ticonderoga Middle School is one of the best learning centers in the country — and it has proof. The school was presented with a large banner noting its selection as a School of Distinction by the College For Every Student program during a ceremony September 23rd. College For Every Student granted the awards to 15 schools nationwide for their success in meeting goals during the 2009-10 academic year.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and that's why one of the most well-known bus companies in Vermont is joining the fight against the disease. Yesterday, dozens of breast cancer survivors and supporters loaded onto the bus dubbed, "the magnificent pink lady." The hot pink bus is the newest addition to the Premier Coach Company in Burlington. Remember you can support the American Cancer Society by joining or donating to the “WVTK Addison County Striders” for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer on Sunday October 17th. Get all of the details here!

The Doll house Restaurant, run by the students of the Stafford Technical Center’s Culinary Arts Program, will open to the public as of Tuesday for the school year. 

The students run the entire restaurant including serving, cooking and cleaning up and its open to the public during the school year on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11:30 AM to 1 PM.

A new analysis of the fifty states shows Vermont among the best-run in the land. The web site 27/4 Wall St. ranked Vermont No. 4, based on factors that include prudent budgeting, a manageable debt load, and relatively low unemployment rate. The high percentage of residents with health insurance coverage and low crime rate also figured into the ranking.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

WVTK Local & State News October 6, 2010

Vermont fire investigators say a laptop computer left unattended on a bed likely caused a fire that damaged a condominium here in Middlebury. No one was injured in the 9 a.m. Monday fire at the Otterside Court Condominiums. Fire damage was limited to the upstairs, but the entire unit suffered smoke and water damage. The fire was ruled accidental.

Vermont State Police say a body found by hunters over the weekend is that of a missing 78-year-old grandmother. Police announced yesterday that an autopsy concluded the body is that of Pat O'Hagan of Sheffield. The manner of death was ruled a homicide, but police wouldn't release the cause of death.

The Town of Ferrisburgh is turning green when it comes to energy. A new 140-acre, 1-megawatt solar electric power array is under construction along Route 7 and a high-tech wind turbine is towering over the Ferrisburgh Central School. Everyone is invited to attend the Ferrisburgh Green Energy Celebration, Thursday, Oct. 14, 6-7:30 PM, at the central school and join in a fun and informative evening to ask about the pros and cons of alternative energy.

The Rutland Board of Aldermen have approved a $45,000 settlement in a lawsuit brought by a man pepper-balled last winter while in a city police holding cell. By a vote of 7 to 1 the aldermen voted to settle the three-month-old lawsuit brought by Jamek Hart.

Police say a Rutland woman stole prescription narcotics from work. Ann Gallagher allegedly stole 50 pills from the Mountain View Center nursing home in Rutland where she used to work. Co-workers noticed suspicious paperwork in the medication register and reported her. She pled innocent to the embezzlement charges. Her nursing license has been suspended.

Sixty people gathered on Lincoln Hill in Hinesburg to honor the pioneering spirit of America and Vermont last week. The group was instrumental in urging the state to create a new historical marker near the site of one of Vermont's earliest African-American farming communities. After an unveiling ceremony dedications were read as well as the text of the marker.

Organizers of Peru Central School's homecoming weekend are hoping the annual event will be bigger and better than ever. This year, the committee of students and faculty behind the event has added a bonfire and 5K run to the weekend's festivities as a means of drawing in more people from the community. It all begins with the community bonfire to the right of the varsity football field Friday, October 15, at 8:15 PM with the 5K run taking place Saturday morning.

The candidates for Vermont governor disagree over the future of the state's only nuclear power plant. Democratic state Sen. Peter Shumlin said during a debate Tuesday night that the Vermont Yankee plant should close as currently scheduled in 2012, while Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie says the plant's application for a license renewal should be reviewed by state regulators.

A former city manager fired two years ago is taking his case to the Vermont Supreme Court. Former Winooski City Manager Joshua Handverger, who was dismissed two years ago amid criticism, went before the state's highest court Tuesday, his lawyer telling justices that Winooski officials improperly removed Handverger.

A municipal pension plan that racked up almost $9 million in shortfalls is stirring calls for an investigation in one Vermont City. City Council members in South Burlington say former city manager Chuck Hafter, who had the job for 21 years, failed to alert them to the problem. They have written to International City-County Management Association about the matter.

Vermont police will soon have a new tool for the "CSI" part of their work. State officials unveiled a new Public Safety Forensic Laboratory yesterday, calling the $12.8 million facility in Waterbury a giant step over the existing lab in technology, space and equipment.

The Republican candidate for Vermont secretary of state has received a traffic ticket following an accident in which he drove his car into a ditch. Police report that 34-year-old Jason Gibbs fell asleep at the wheel at 12:45 a.m. Sept. 17 near his home in Duxbury. Gibbs says the accident happened after he was campaigning at the Tunbridge World's Fair, a meeting of Washington County Republicans and at 24-hour convenience stores on his way home.

Ski resort marketing directors are already gearing up for the winter with all kinds of offers and incentives. Ski Vermont is offering a fifth grade passport, allowing fifth graders to get out on the slopes all season for just ten dollars. Ski Vermont says everyone wins, from the families to the ski resorts. And, proceeds from the ten-dollar processing fee go to a group called "Keep Local Farms" which supports dairy farms in New England.

Charles Schulz’s Peanuts gang has turned 60! Now, his family is working to keep Snoopy, Lucy and the rest alive for generations to come. A handful of new projects are in the works. The first new animated film in five years is set for release next spring called "Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown." ABC just signed on for five more years of airing Charlie Brown holiday specials. A new social media game began on Facebook and Twitter last month to "Countdown to the Great Pumpkin," and the comic strip has made its way to a popular gaming website for millions of children.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

WVTK Local & State News October 5, 2010

A fire ripped through a condo here in Middlebury yesterday morning. Firefighters say the fire broke out in the bedroom. Neighbors called 911. By the time emergency responders arrived, the bedroom and other areas were already up in flames. Middlebury Fire Chief Rick Cole says no one was at home when the fire broke out. He says firefighters were able to keep it from damaging other condos.

A driver from Addison was killed yesterday morning in a two-car collision at Route 7 and New Haven Road in Ferrisburgh. State Police say 68-year-old Roberta Anderson died from massive internal injuries, while the other driver, 54-year-old Laurie Byrne of Charlotte received minor injuries. The car driven by Anderson on New Haven Road failed to stop at the intersection.

The Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy is looking to expand again in the summer of 2011. They are looking at adding an additional five sites to the three satellite schools that were already put in place this past year.

Long-anticipated renovations to the historic Pulp Mill Bridge on Seymour Street in Middlebury could be further delayed or possibly expedited. Bats have been discovered in the rafters of the covered bridge.

The city of Rutland will look at generating power at the sewage plant. With $25,000 from the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund, the Rutland Redevelopment Authority has put out a request for proposals to conduct a feasibility study of “small-scale energy production projects” at the facility.

Angry Rutland residents and business owners were at City Hall yesterday in response to the Board of Aldermen’s recent decision to raise utility rates more than 10 percent. For more than an hour, the aldermen heard complaints from residents but didn’t take any action that altered their decision to raise the utility rates. However, the board voted 7 to 2 on a motion calling for a freeze on city employee raises for the coming fiscal year.

Community College of Vermont has been given permission by the state to tear down a church in Rutland on the state’s register of historic places. The church on West Street is the former home of Rutland City Prayer and Worship and was the point of contention at a recent city Development Review Board meeting where some residents objected to the school not preserving the site.

Vermont State Police investigators say they're awaiting the results of an autopsy before they will be able to say for certain if a body found in Wheelock is that of Pat O'Hagan, who was abducted from her Sheffield home September 11. Investigators suspect the death was caused by foul play.

Federal prosecutors say Dartmouth College has agreed to pay $275,000 to settle allegations of improper conduct involving the college's administration of contracts at a VA Medical Center in White River Junction. The "potential civil claims" settled had to do with Dartmouth's work on six contracts. Prosecutors said the contracts involved improper invoices and violations of a law that bars federal employees from being paid by a private source for their federal job duties.

A heads up for New Yorker shoppers: on Oct. 1, the state re-instituted its 4 percent sales tax on clothing and shoes. The state had temporarily suspended that tax on purchases under $110. It's now back in place, though New York City is still waiving the tax. In April shoppers will again get a break on that tax, but it will only apply to clothing and footwear purchases under $55.

Vermont is getting $8.8-million-dollars in grant money for public transportation. The money is being split up between 2 separate agencies, the Vermont Agency of Transportation, or VTrans, and the Chittenden County Transportation Authority. The money will be used to rehabilitate current buses, and to purchase new buses.

Governor Jim Douglas has signed a proclamation making the month of October, Cyber Security Awareness Month. Governor Douglas is joining other governors across the country in recognizing the 7th annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Douglas says, “Cyber security is the one area where every person, making small, positive changes, can make a huge difference.”

The CVPS Fill the Cupboard Challenge made a huge rebound from last year and beat its goal to collect 20,000 food items for the Rutland Community effort. 67 local businesses, community groups, schools and organizations collected a total of 21,654 items. The food collected during the Fill the Cupboard Challenge is expected to last up to the holiday season, when donations are at their peak. The Castleton State College Field Hockey team won the challenge by collecting a total of 1,982 food items. CVPS will donate $500 to the Cupboard in their name.

An independent documentary film will make an appearance in Middlebury this week. “Queen of the Sun: What are the bees telling us?” briefly features Bridport bee expert Kirk Webster and his mite-free colonies. It’s an effort to share an alternative look at what people are calling a “global bee crisis” currently in effect. The documentary has already been featured at film festivals from Rhode Island to Seattle to Maui. The screening will take place at the Marquis Theater on Wednesday at 7:30 PM.

The Ticonderoga Knights of Columbus have a new home thanks to its members. The Knights of Columbus hall on Montcalm Street, constructed in 1920, has been renovated. Knights will formally open their renovated building with a public dinner this Saturday at 6PM. People can call the hall at 585-6520 for reservations.