Tuesday, November 30, 2010

WVTK Local & State News November 30, 2010

A reminder that today the Pulp Mill Bridge will operate with alternating traffic in one lane only between 8AM and 4PM.

With more train service coming to this side of the state the town of Middlebury is applying for a $15,000 federal grant to plan for a local passenger rail station. Making progress toward a rail station would also likely enhance the community’s chances for landing federal aid to replace the two railroad underpasses on Main Street and Merchants Row. Those two underpass projects have been on the Vermont Agency of Transportation’s to-do list for several years.

An ad hoc committee studying the feasibility of a major retail-commercial-residential project on property owned by the town and college behind the Ilsley Public Library will update the public in January on its work. The project is intended to complement the recently completed Cross Street Bridge and the new entrepreneurial opportunities the new downtown structure could present.

The ID-4 Second Language Committee is recommending that Mary Hogan Elementary School begin offering a Spanish program beginning next fall. It would initially be offered to students in grades K-2, but ultimately to all grades by the 2015-2016 academic year. The school dropped French classes several years ago, primarily due to financial reasons.

Vergennes aldermen have backed creating a discount for seniors on their annual sewer bills. However officials acknowledged it would probably be a year before the rate break could take effect.

Vermont Gov.-elect Peter Shumlin says he thinks piped natural gas could become an energy option in more Vermont communities. Currently, only the northwestern Vermont counties of Franklin and Chittenden are served by Vermont Gas Systems, which brings in natural gas from Canada. He would like to explore expanding the availability of natural gas, perhaps extending the service as far south as Middlebury.

Gale Courcelle widened her lead over Doug Gage to two votes during a recount yesterday in Rutland. However the election may not be over yet. Recounts in Rutland districts 1-2, 5-3 and 5-4 each upheld the results from Election Day, but Rutland County Republican Chairman Bradford Broyles said a misplaced ballot in the race between Courcelle and Gage raised questions that could lead to more counting.

A major effort is underway to clean up pollution in Lake Champlain. Governor Jim Douglas, New York State officials and officials from the Environmental Protection Agency will meet on today to sign an updated work plan to restore water quality in the lake. Unlike earlier versions of the "Opportunities for Action" plan, this version outlines specific steps to reduce fertilizer pollution and to combat invasive species.

Vermont election officials are set to gather in Montpelier for a routine random audit of this year's general election results. The audits have been conducted since 2006 to confirm results from a selection of communities that use machine vote tabulators. Ballots from those cities and towns are recounted by hand, with the results checked against the tabulator results.

Governor-Elect Peter Shumlin announced two more people he wants to serve in his administration. He named Brian Searles to serve as transportation secretary. Democratic state representative Sue Minter of Waterbury was also named Monday as deputy transportation secretary. Minter has served on the Transportation and Appropriations committees, and will resign her seat in the House to take the job.

Two Vermont grocery stores have been fined for overcharging consumers. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture said that the Price Chopper in St. Johnsbury was fined $13,000 and the Price Chopper in Derby $3,750 for price-scanning errors. The consumer protection division of the Agency of Agriculture says it routinely tests checkout scanners in grocery and department stores to make sure consumers are charged the same price that stores are advertising.

A judge is ordering a competency evaluation for a Vermont man accused of threatening to kill President Barack Obama. Forty-3-year-old Christopher King, of Rockingham, was charged last month after allegedly tweeting the threat on Twitter. He has pleaded not guilty.

The New York Legislature has decided not to address a $315 million budget deficit in its special session. The state comptroller said inaction would make New York's fiscal crisis worse requiring even deeper cuts in coming months. Addressing the latest deficit was the main purpose of Monday's session called by Gov. David Paterson. However the governor's bill was delivered to the Legislature two hours after the special session was to begin.

One of the most important weekends for holiday shopping is finished and while numbers are still being finalized it appears the University Mall had one of the Best Black Friday's in years. According to the Marketing Director some anchor stores haven't seen numbers as good since 1999. Icy roads early Black Friday didn't stop people on a mission to get the best deals.

Monday, November 29, 2010

WVTK Local & State News November 29, 2010

Tomorrow the Pulp Mill Bridge will operate with alternating traffic in one lane only between 8AM and 4PM.

The new Champlain Bridge linking New York and Vermont should be open to traffic next August. That was the assessment of state transportation officials and the project contractor, who provided a construction update November 19th. Flatiron Construction of Colorado will work through the winter on the $70 million bridge. The company is operating two shifts at the bridge, Monday morning through Saturday night.

This Saturday is the Holiday Kick-Off Weekend for A Very Merry Middlebury! Watch Santa Arrive By Fire Truck over the Cross Street Bridge and up Main Street at 9:30 AM. You can then visit with Santa from 10AM – 12:30PM at Middlebury Community House. Other activities that day include Horse Drawn Wagon Rides, the Hot Chocolate Hut, Free Gift Wrap Service for any gift purchased in Middlebury, Nativity Scenes from around the world and so much more! WVTK will even provide the soundtrack all weekend beginning Friday at 2PM with Continuous Christmas Classics! Click here for more information!

Superintendent Evelyn Howard said last week that as a whole, the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union will not meet the spending reduction mark set by the Challenges for Change law passed in the last legislative session. The law aims for every school in the state to reduce spending in 2011-2012 by 2 percent from what is budgeted in the current school year.

The newly renovated Holley Hall will open its doors to the public from 3 to 7 PM this Friday. They would like you to celebrate Bristol community members’ contributions to its new look. The town offices will host tours, presentations and the unveiling of both the historic painted curtain and a time capsule.

The Better Middlebury Partnership has created some new currency to promote downtown shopping. The BMP has produced a new version of the “Middlebury Money”. These checks can be purchased in various denominations for transactions at local retail, dining and lodging establishments. At its peak, approximately $27,000 worth of Middlebury money was sold in one year, sparking business for local merchants and service providers. The program has been around for about 15 years.

The extended downturn in the economy is forcing more Vermont families to seek food assistance. A new federal report says the share of households in Vermont that at times didn't have enough nutritious food rose from 12.1% to 13.6% between 2008 and 2009.

Two 2010 graduates of Vermont's St. Johnsbury Academy have filed a lawsuit claiming the private school refused to follow its own policies when it suspended them from playing sports for 120 days. Jessica Sullivan and Kyle Berge were suspended last year for allegedly drinking alcohol at an off-campus party. The students, who now attend college, denied the allegations.

An expert on posttraumatic stress disorder is planning a speech in Norwich. Dr. Edward Tick, a psychotherapist who heads the Soldier's Heart Clinic, in Troy, N.Y., will talk about the experiences of soldiers - from World War I to Iraq - to describe the trauma of war and the way communities can help them heal. Tick will speak at 7 PM Wednesday at Norwich Congregational Church.

A renowned World War II Army unit is getting its due in Vermont. Several veterans and their families were among those who gathered Saturday at the Stowe Mountain Resort for the dedication of a new statue honoring the Army's 10th Mountain Division. Members of the division were accomplished skiers who fought in the mountains of Italy and used their skiing and climbing skills to navigate the harsh terrain.

A special panel looking at Vermont's tax structure is planning a meeting at the Statehouse as it nears completion of its work on a report to the Legislature. The Blue Ribbon Commission on Vermont's Tax Structure meets tomorrow at 9 AM as it works toward a deadline of Jan. 31, when the law that established it says it is supposed to issue its final report to the Legislature.

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission has named a new resident inspector for the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. Sarah Rich graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2008 and more recently completed a 2-year NRC training program, in addition to the agency's regular nuclear inspector qualification program.

Christmas will arrive in Port Henry this Saturday. That's when the Town of Moriah Chamber of Commerce will host its 21st annual Moriah Midnight Madness. Midnight Madness will take place 1-6 PM and feature store sales, giveaways, street vendors, music, fire truck rides for the children, candy, face painting, balloons, games and more. Santa will arrive on a Port Henry Fire Department truck and will meet with children and adults on Main Street.

The annual Holiday in Hague will be held this Saturday. Sponsored by The Hague Chamber of Commerce and the town of Hague the event will be noon to 4 PM. The town businesses and community organization will offer a variety of things on sale from Christmas trees to hand crafts, to boutique items, to gifts for children to purchase and wrap. A holiday parade will be held at 2:30 p.m. featuring community groups and "Dressed up Doggies."

The town highway department installed four new “Welcome to Ticonderoga” signs recently. A Department of State Local Waterfront Revitalization Program grant for $40,000 was awarded to the town for the signs. The Ticonderoga Main Street Partnership and PRIDE of Ticonderoga administered the grant.

Ticonderoga High School's Future Business Leaders of America club has begun a business selling t-shirts. The business was started with Ticonderoga's Main Street Committee and has the support of several local businesses. The profits earned go towards funding the FBLA activities throughout the school year.

For more than 100 years, the Ethan Allen Club has operated out of Burlington. Now, the social organization is shutting down. The club president said membership has been struggling the past five years. The private social club was where numerous state business and political leaders met, but that will change after December 15th. Champlain College will take ownership, turning the clubhouse into a residence hall.

More than 40 people gathered in Brandon’s Central Park to listen to Christmas carols at the annual Memory Tree Lighting yesterday afternoon. The Brandon Chamber of Commerce holds this annual town tradition. The Otter Valley Union High School chorale opened the lighting ceremony signing various seasonal songs. The Brandon Festival Singers also gathered around the Christmas tree for a performance. The Christmas tree in the town park is a live tree that was planted a few years ago.

Victims of minor crimes in Burlington, Vt., will soon be able to start filling out their own crime reports rather than wait for police to arrive. Police Chief Mike Schirling says after two months of testing, the department is ready to launch its online citizens' crime reporting system.

A Vermont man who's charged with threatening to kill President Barack Obama is asking to be released from custody. Forty-3-year-old Christopher King, of Rockingham, was charged last month after allegedly making the threat online. He has pleaded not guilty to making a threat against the president, a federal charge.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association consumers bought 28.2 million farm-grown Christmas trees and 11.7 million artificial trees in the U.S. last year, about the same as in 2008. Of the consumers across the country who bought a farm-grown tree, 78 percent got a precut tree and 22 percent cut their own.

Millions of shoppers are expected to log onto their computers today for one of the busiest online shopping days of the year, Cyber Monday. Ninety percent of retailers will offer bargain prices and free shipping. However, not all deals will last all day. In 2009, online spending increased 5% on Cyber Monday to nearly $890 million. To help you navigate through the top deals: www.cybermonday.com

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

WVTK Local & State News November 24, 2010

After two ho-hum seasons, Vermont’s retailers have their fingers crossed for a rebound this Christmas holiday starting with Black Friday. Tasha Wallis of the Vermont Retail Association is optimistic. She is basing her optimism on a National Retail Federation report forecasting a 2.3 percent growth in sales over the 2009 holiday season. For New England there are indications sales could be stronger. New Hampshire and Massachusetts are predicting 4 percent growth.

A Rutland, Vermont man is in jail on a sexual assault charge. Police say 20-year-old Joseph Rounds sexually assaulted a teen, three years ago. A 13-year-old girl reported the incident in August of 2007. Evidence was collected but the complaint was terminated. The victim has met with police again. Round, who was 17-years-old at the time is lodged in jail until his court date.

Vermont State Police are conducting several sobriety checkpoints and patrols this holiday week. To ensure highway safety during the Thanksgiving holiday, state police said they are targeting impaired drivers and will be enforcing seat belt compliance. Vermonters are urged to use a designated driver when drinking away from home.

The Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity hasn't seen demand for home heating help in Vermont this high in the 22 years. 26,000 Vermonters and the number is rising. The resources to help Vermonters heat their homes aren't there because congress has not finalized a budget yet. Usually, when the federal funds are low, there is emergency money available to fill the void but not this year.

Police said the murder of Kathleen Smith and the more-recent stabbing on North Williard Street have raised neighbors concerns throughout Burlington. Tuesday night police hosted a community safety forum to speak on both. The Burlington Police Department did the same forum 4 years ago after UVM student Michelle Gardner Quinn was murdered. It's a chance for police to address questions about violent crimes, and give advice.

An appeals court says a Vermont law that restricts companies' use of information about the drugs doctors prescribe is unconstitutional. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled yesterday that the law on so-called data mining is a commercial free speech restriction that violates the First Amendment.

The Vermont unemployment rate is continuing to go down. The Department of Labor says the October rate was 5.7%, a decrease of 1-tenth of 1% from the September rate. And the rate is a full point lower than it was in October 2009. Acting Labor Commissioner Valerie Rickert says the state is seeing positive year over year job growth for the first time since May of 2008. The state has also seen two consecutive months of increased employment and decreased unemployment.

Vermont's Democratic Gov.-elect Peter Shumlin is keeping the commissioner of Finance and Management first appointed by his Republican predecessor. Shumlin says he chose Jim Reardon because Reardon is widely recognized for his ability to resolve long-standing financial reporting problems and for his abilities to develop budgets, goals and policies and to work with the Legislature crafting state budgets.

The regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the circumferential Highway would cause unacceptable damage to wetlands and streams. In a letter to the regional commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, EPA Administrator H. Curtis Spalding says the corps should reject the plan for a portion of the 16-mile circumferential highway around Burlington.

Green Mountain Coffee Roaster's stock is soaring. This stock jump comes despite major accounting errors recently discovered at the Waterbury-based company as well as a federal investigation of the company's accounting practices. Green Mountain Coffee's stock closed at $35.78 a share on Monday, not far from the stock's 2010 high.

Vermont's congressional delegation is calling for federal home heating assistance to be boosted to last year's level, if not more. U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy and Congressman Peter Welch are warning that because new federal spending bills have not been passed, heating assistance could be cut be 40% below last year's levels. Sanders now is asking the Senate Appropriations Committee to match last year's funding level of $5.1 billion.

Black Friday madness is the day after tomorrow and at the University Mall in South Burlington, some anchor stores are trying something new. Kohl's and Bon-Ton are opening at 3 a.m. Friday, that's a new nationwide trend. McDonald's is also opening at 3. J.C. Penney and Sears will follow at 4. All stores will be open by 6 a.m.

Travelers will soon have to pay to park at Plattsburgh International Airport. Clinton County legislators agreed Tuesday night to implement a fee system some time later this winter. No prices were set but parking will be divided into short and long-term areas.

The day before Thanksgiving is considered one of the busiest travel days of the year. But this year, that may not be the case at the Burlington International Airport. Officials there say many schools have changed their schedules to give students the entire week off, allowing holiday travel to happen on the weekends. Also, the Burlington airport doesn't yet have the controversial body scanners that are slowing down the TSA security process in other parts of the country.

There are a few things that you need to know before you cook your Thanksgiving Turkey. The Vermont Department of Health says: You should always wash your hands before handling raw food, avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw turkey and their juices away from other foods, especially those that will not be cooked. Never defrost food at room temperature; the safest way to defrost a turkey is in the fridge for about 24 hours for each 5 pounds of meat. And be sure cook foods to their proper temperature since bacteria in food can cause illness.

In less than 24 hours, many of us will be preparing a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Firefighters are urging you to use caution this year. They say Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires. They say common mistakes made with deep fat fryers include heating the oil too hot, not drying off your turkey, putting it in the oil too quickly, and having too much oil in the fryer. If it does catch on fire, the last thing you want to do is dump water on it, which will only create a bigger fireball. Instead, use the fire extinguisher and try to shut off the gas. The biggest cause of holiday fires is simply leaving the food you're cooking unattended.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

WVTK Local & State News November 23, 2010

McKernon Group of Brandon will be demolishing the Old Church at 6 Cross Street on the corner of Water Street today. There may be temporary short-lived traffic delays on Water Street. Building rubble will be transported to the Addison County Solid Waste Management District transfer station.

Governor-Elect Peter Shumlin is naming more staff to key positions in his administration. Lawrence Miller who is CEO for Danforth Pewter and the founder of Otter Creek Brewing Company is Shumlin's choice for Secretary of Commerce. The new deputy Commerce Secretary will be Patricia Moulton Powden. Chuck Ross of Hinesburg is named Secretary of Agriculture. And, Shumlin announced he is appointing Annie Noonan of Montpelier as the next Commissioner of Labor. All the appointees still have to be confirmed by the state Senate.

Turkeys at HOPE’s headquarters are already being distributed for the upcoming Holiday. Officials are concerned about being able to meet the demand of needy families this Thanksgiving and Christmas. So far this week 223 Addison County households had signed up for a turkey and related side dishes. HOPE has so far ordered a total of 325 turkeys to cover special meals for qualifying families on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The five Addison Northwest Supervisory Union towns are headed toward another vote on one-board governance on Town Meeting Day in March. Last week the full Addison Northwest Supervisory Union board met with the subcommittee that has been studying unification. The board then made a formal motion to approve what will be the fifth unification vote in six years. Almost all supervisory union board members are in favor of a vote on a proposal that would dissolve the five boards and replace them with one 12-member board.

Representatives of Mount Abraham Union High School teachers and school board members met for contract negotiations last Thursday night. Before the meeting a quiet picket was carried out by the teachers’ organization. The two sides left the meeting with only the promise of yet another meeting to continue discussions.

Vergennes aldermen have given permission for the 16-passenger tour boat “Moonlight Lady” to use the city’s free docks for overnight stays next summer. Aldermen debated whether the dock space reserved for the Burlington cruise boat might better be left open for boaters who make the seven-mile trip up Otter Creek from Lake Champlain or whether the publicity Vergennes receives from the cruises might be a greater benefit.

Vermont is not immune from national aging trends. Next year more than 8,000 Americans will turn 65 every day and before the 2050s, seniors will likely make up the majority of the Green Mountain State's population. To meet the growing needs of senior care, organizations such as At Home Senior Care of Addison County have been founded to provide dependable, responsive non-medical care so that seniors can maintain their quality of life and independence.

The Green Mountain Club recently won the Vermont Historical Society's prestigious Richard O. Hathaway Award for their book "A Century in the Mountains: Celebrating Vermont's Long Trail". This is a 190-page large format book of color photographs and essays celebrating 100 years of the Long Trail.

The Vergennes Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting the fifth annual Vergennes Holiday Stroll on Saturday, December 4th. Events begin at 7:30 AM with a pancake breakfast and wrap up at 7 PM with a holiday concert by the Otter Creek Choral Society. There are many events and activities during the day for young and old. A complete schedule is available here. In addition to these events, the Holiday Stroll is the kick-off for a weeklong collection of food items for the Community Food Shelf.

Forty Army National Guard soldiers returned to the state yesterday after a year away from home with nine months in Afghanistan. The soldiers are among about 1,500 Vermont guard members who have spent a year away from home, the last nine months in Afghanistan. The commander of the Vermont National Guard, Maj. Gen. Michael Dubie, says all the soldiers should be home by Christmas.

The Rutland School Board will have three new options for budget cuts presented to it tonight. The school administration is warning that taxes may not necessarily go down even if the board trims expenses. Superintendent Mary Moran said the board can now choose to cut from three new charts of prioritized expenses for 2012.

The leaders of Pico Mountain ski resort have declared it the state’s first smoke-free resort starting January 1. 

Smoking will be banned from the property, especially lift lines. Pico has partnered with the American Cancer Society to reduce the cancer risk from second-hand smoke for Pico employees, associates and guests.

Vermont's largest health care provider wants to sell its outpatient kidney dialysis services at five locations across the state. Fletcher Allen Health care announced Monday it has signed a nonbinding letter of intent to sell centers in South Burlington, St. Albans, Berlin, Rutland and Newport to Fresenius Medical Care North America. The five centers serve about 290 patients.

Vermont Legal Aid officials say delays in processing benefit applications for food stamps and other programs are violating state and federal law. In a stern letter sent yesterday, Legal Aid says the state Department for Children and Families must comply with a previous federal court ruling and process applications within 30 days with an error rate of no more than 3%.

A Progressive Party lawmaker will be returning to the Vermont House after a judge rejected a challenge to a recount that showed her winning. A recount Friday confirmed earlier election results showing Rep. Susan Hatch Davis ahead of Republican challenger Rodney Graham, of Williamstown, by four votes. Republicans challenged that recount result. But an Orange County Superior Court judge rejected that challenge yesterday.

New Hampshire farmers are now eligible for a rebate program aimed at preventing deadly tractor rollovers. The program, which already is in place in New York and Vermont, reimburses farmers for 70% of the cost of seat belts and roll bars for their tractors.

Monday, November 22, 2010

WVTK Local & State News November 22, 2010

Applications are being sought for the Vermont Folklife Center's 12th annual Gingerbread House contest, which pits culinary artisans against one another in a bid to see who can craft the best house of all-edible materials. There are seven categories. Last year, over 75 houses were entered and displayed in an exhibit that drew more than 4,000 visitors. This year, the creations will be displayed at the Folklife Center here in Middlebury, through Dec. 21, starting with a public reception Dec. 3.

Gov.-elect Peter Shumlin's transition team has received several hundred resumes as it works to fill about 60 senior positions. The pile of job applications is a normal occurrence when the governor's office changes hands and parties. Shumlin is asking all those in appointed jobs under Douglas to submit their resignations.

Vermonters applying for assistance through the Department for Children and Families are encountering long delays. In some cases clients are waiting on the phone for hundreds of minutes. The delays are due to problems as the department modernizes services for Vermonters who are seeking financial assistance for food, fuel and health care.

The commander of the Vermont National Guard says 1,500 soldiers are leaving Afghanistan earlier than scheduled and should be in Vermont for the holidays. Maj. Gen. Michael Dubie says the return schedule for the 1,500 Vermont Guard troops stationed in Afghanistan is moving up, and he's optimistic everyone will be home by Christmas.

Vermont game officials say the success rate for moose hunters increased slightly during this fall's season. Vermont's Fish and Wildlife Department says 486 moose were taken, out of 765 hunting permits issued for the Oct. 16-21 season. There was a sharp decline in the number of moose permits issued this year.

Two years after a Vermont man was stabbed to death, prosecutors are still considering whether to bring charges against the man they say killed him. Twenty-4-year-old Herman Hier is expected to be released in January on unrelated charges. He had pleaded guilty to attacking his mother with a knife and trying to escape from the Rutland jail.

The rising price of copper is causing a spike in theft across the country, including Vermont. In the last month, agencies have had to deal with copper thefts in at least three places. The most recent was in Williston, where $17,000 worth of metal was stolen from ECI Construction. Police released a surveillance photo of a silver Toyota van on the premises. Copper is a prime target because of its high value.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday coming up your personal information will be floating around the cyber world, easy for thieves to get, if you are shopping online. According to the Consumer Affairs Department of the Vermont Attorney General's Office the most frequent theft is credit card information from online shoppers. Remember to always look for either a lock symbol or something stating that the website is secure before entering your credit card information.

School boards are cutting teachers and services because they were asked to earlier this year by lawmakers to ease the state’s budget woes. But now they may not have to. 

There’s $19 million in federal jobs money waiting in the wings and the state is trying to figure out what to do with the money. One of the first issues the Legislature tackles this coming session likely will be whether to make schools cut their costs, a mandate included in legislation approved this year called Challenges for Change.

On December 4 energy leaders from across the state will gather for the third annual Community Energy and Climate Action Conference in Fairlee. Anyone interested in Vermont’s energy future is welcome to attend. Concern about energy use has been intensifying for some time across the Green Mountains. For more information visit www.vecan.net.

Calls to the state’s telephone assistance referral program run by the United Ways of Vermont have increased substantially. When Vermonters who need help with everything from food or housing to transportation to their jobs call the 2-1-1 system, they are referred to the appropriate agency or nonprofit. The program received roughly 5,000 calls in 2005 and more than 38,000 in 2009. Housing-related referrals alone went from 236 in October 2007 to 491 in October this year.

The Vermont Health Department is reminding people that antibiotics won’t cure the common cold. The health department says antibiotics are an important tool for fighting infections caused by bacteria such as strep throat but trying to use antibiotics to treat illnesses caused by viruses, such as colds, can contribute to the development of drug-resistant organisms such as MRSA. So Vermont is participating in a program called “Get Smart About Antibiotics,” a national public health campaign to call attention to the problem of drug resistant bacteria.

Rutland's Secret Santa is back. He handed out six cards this past week. It's Santa's fourth year. The cards contain either a $20 or $50 bills. The Secret Santa plans to hand out a total of 25 cards this year. Last year he distributed $1,100.

Who would think that a sale of something as simple as socks would draw out thousands over the weekend? And yet, that's what happened in Northfield. The Cabot Hosiery Mills Factory held their 31st annual sock sale. Owner Ric Cabot says they hold the sales during two weekends each year, and usually sell 170-thousand pairs of socks over the two weekends.

The students at the Miller's Run School in Sheffield spent two weeks collecting a mountain of honor in memory of Pat O'Hagan, who had a very active life in Sheffield. O'Hagan volunteered at the library, her church, the historical society — and to the Sheffield Food Pantry. Miller's Run wanted to keep her memory and good deeds alive by helping the pantry and the more than 200 families it serves with the food drive.

Friday, November 19, 2010

WVTK Local & State News November 19, 2010

The public will get an update today about the new Champlain Bridge. Today representatives from New York's Transportation Department and bridge contractor Flatiron Construction will update the public on the progress of the project. That meeting is set for 2PM at the Crown Point State Historic Site parking lot in New York. There will be no fee to enter the site for the meeting.

Kennedy Brothers Marketplace President Win Grant announced this week that he plans to end retail operations at his Vergennes building after 50 years. The decision will affect Kennedy Brothers’ nine employees as well as 50 craft vendors. Kennedy Brothers has sold gifts and crafts in Vergennes for five decades, but has twice downsized within the building in the past six years. Kennedy Brothers non-retail tenants will remain. Grant said he and his wife have been wrestling with Kennedy Brothers’ future as sales have declined and their retirement has neared.

UD-3 school district administrators presented their first draft of a 2011-2012 budget that not only meets the state’s “Challenges for Change” guidelines but also beats it by almost $70,000. The tentative list of proposed cuts to the Middlebury Union Middle and High School spending plans includes a handful of part-time teaching, clinical and technical support positions; school supplies; computer purchases; and some athletic offerings. The UD-3 board will discuss lacrosse and other elements of the budget during the coming weeks before a endorsing a final budget to put before ACSU voters next March.

The Addison County Solid Waste Management District is considering a 2011 budget that reflects a 1.9-percent increase in spending but would not result in any boost in tipping fees at the district transfer station in Middlebury. The disposal fees for some recyclables are expected to go down due to a more lucrative market for such items and because of the provisions of a new electronics waste law that will soon take effect.

The Mount Abraham Union High School Board will not move forward in the budget development process until its next meeting on December 7th at 6:30 PM. Many have been waiting to hear exactly where Mount Abraham Union High School will be making its cuts to meet the 2-percent reduction in spending for the upcoming fiscal year.

The Dubois Farm in Addison has brought its methane digester on line this week. The $2.6 million digester is expected to generate enough power to run 400 homes, and it will take its place as the 10th working digester in Vermont including the one at Foster Brothers Farm in Middlebury, which has been in operation since the 1980s.

70 students from Addison and Chittenden counties rowed in the second annual Otter Creek Challenge, a 2.5-mile-long rowing race sponsored by Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's Champlain Longboats program. Eleven crews rowed in two heats. Participating schools included Middlebury High School, Vergennes Middle and High School, Champlain Valley Union High School, Mt. Abraham Union High School, South Burlington High School and Burlington High School. Vergennes Middle and High School finished first overall and first in the experienced six-oar division. Middlebury High School finished first in the novice four-oar division.

The Vergennes FFA represented Vermont both at the regional competition in Springfield, Massachusetts and at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis this year. The convention included a career and college fair. The team is thanking Monument Farms for providing milk for their practices and Dairy Farmers of America for sponsoring the national competition.

The Orwell Historical Society Museum was the recipient of the Vermont State Historical Society's Award of Excellence for the "Soldiers in the Attic, Celebrating 200 Years of Orwell's Patriots". An award presentation to the Orwell society was made at the 57th Annual League of Local Historical Societies meeting. The Orwell Historical Society Museum is currently creating not only the new 2011 spring exhibit, but also exploring updated presentations of the entire museum collection.

It appears visitors to Bulwagga Bay campsite in Port Henry want wireless Internet service. The campsite on Lake Champlain is owned and operated by the town of Moriah. The town board has investigated providing wireless Internet service at the facility. Trustee Rick Carpenter said he had contacted an Internet provider and the price tag appears to be $19,000. The board took no action on the issue.

The Salvation Army is seeking volunteer Bell Ringers for its Red Kettle Campaign in Ticonderoga. They are looking for volunteers to stand by the kettles on Friday, Saturday and Sunday now through Christmas Eve from 8 AM to 5 PM each day, in 1-2 hour time slots. People interested in volunteering for the Red Kettle Campaign, or throughout the entire year, should call Glen Buell at 597-3222.

Otter Valley Union High School football coach Dennis Perry has resigned. Perry was at OV for five years and in his first year there led the team to its first-ever state championship record. Perry said he feels the time is right to move on and has no plans to coach anywhere else but left the door open to possibility.

Brandon Police have arrested a Pittsford man after an investigation into a string of anonymous obscene phone calls to women in the area. Scott Hughes was arrested for making the calls between April and October of this year. Both Brandon Police and Vermont State Police are interested in hearing from potential victims of these types of calls.

The controversial full-body scanners are coming next year to Burlington International Airport. That's according the airport's Director of Aviation. A spokesperson for the T-S-A said she's not sure just when next year the scanners will come in to the airport.

Lake Placid Leaders say the Empire State Games will go on. Organizers were shocked Tuesday when state officials told them they were being canceled because of budget cutbacks. Since then, they have rallied to keep the winter event going. Officials say they can raise enough money though business sponsorships. The Games will be held February 25th though the 27th.

State Police will be out in full force in the next 2-weeks looking for unbuckled drivers. It’s all part of the Click It or Ticket Campaign. Troopers plan to use extra patrols and checkpoints to monitor compliance with the state's mandatory safety-restraint law. The effort will continue through the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Flooding in downtown Rutland two years ago has led to another lawsuit. The owners of Three Tomatoes say the city didn't have adequate storm drainage to deal with flooding that damaged their restaurant and forced them to close for more than two months. They also allege that the way the Transit Center was built on West Street changed the grade of the street, causing Center Street to flood.

A worker at a closed Vermont slaughterhouse will be sentenced to 30 days on a state work crew after pleading guilty to animal cruelty. Thirty-7-year-old Christopher Gaudette, an employee of the now-closed Bushway Packing, Inc., in Grand Isle, pleaded guilty to the felony charge yesterday.

Democrats could end up holding the same strong majority in the Vermont House that they've enjoyed for the past two years - 94 of 150 seats. But recounts could trim that majority a bit. Republicans are challenging what appear to be narrow Democratic victories in five House races around the state. They're also challenging an apparent victory by one Progressive.

A Maine-based forest management company is expanding into New Hampshire, Vermont and New York by acquiring a company that operates in those states. Prentiss & Carlisle President Donald White says the acquisition of Upland Forestry adds nearly 270,000 acres to the 1.5 million acres the company manages in six states and Quebec. Prentiss & Carlisle is based in Bangor. Upland Forestry is based in Bristol, VT and has offices in New Hampshire and New York.

Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell is set to announce a new bias-free policing policy in Vermont. The policy is meant to define what police actions are racially discriminatory. An advisory committee on civil rights recommended a statewide policy be developed in response to complaints about racial-profiling. But Sorrell's policy is also expected to set guidelines on how Vermont police deal with illegal aliens.

More Vermonters are requesting home heating help this winter but the amount of the average benefit is going down. The state says more than 18,000 households have received a fuel assistance benefit as of this week. That's about 2,000 more homes than the same time last year. But despite increased demand, Washington is making less money available. Congress approved $15 million for Vermont's fuel assistance program, down from $25 million last year.

The largest electric utility in Vermont is buying one of the smallest. Central Vermont Public Service announced Thursday that it has reached an agreement to take over the Readsboro Electric Department. The town-owned utility serves 319 customers. Readsboro is an island in a sea of CVPS territory that covers virtually all of southern Vermont.

An elderly Elizabethtown woman missing since Wednesday has been found alive. She has been taken to a hospital for evaluation but appears to be in good condition. Nancy Foster who suffers from Alzheimer's disease wandered from her home Wednesday afternoon. It has been reported she was found only a couple of miles from her home on old logging trails.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

WVTK Local & State News November 18, 2010

Members of the Addison Northeast Education Association will picket Mount Abraham High School today before an evening negotiating session with the School Board. The purpose of the picketing is to urge the boards to return to the table and reach a contract that is fair to teachers, students and the communities. As it stands now, the board insists on a $4,000-a-year pay cut for teachers. 

The informational demonstration will take place from 5:45 to 7 PM at the school in Bristol.

Residents presented grievances to the chairman of the state Agency of Transportation during a public hearing in Brandon this week. The purpose of the hearing was to determine what people think about transportation in the state. More than a dozen Brandon residents attended the hearing to raise concerns on local transportation issues, including inadequate construction on various roads in Brandon.

New York Police are searching for a 76-year-old woman who went missing from her Elizabethtown home yesterday. Nancy Foster went missing from her home at about 12:30 PM. Foster is about 5 foot, 7 inches tall and weighs about 135 pounds and suffers from Alzheimer's. She was last seen wearing tan pants and a blue windbreaker. Anyone with information regarding Foster's whereabouts is asked to call the sheriff's department.

You may not have heard of the sport Quidditch before, but it has its true fans, and a world champion title now held by a team from Middlebury College. The author of the Harry Potter books originated Quidditch. Forty-six teams in all competed for the Quidditch World Cup in New York City last weekend, and Middlebury won by defeating the team from Tufts University.

In a move to reduce loitering and noise in the town park, the Fair Haven Select Board has approved a revised version of the park ordinance. The park will now be closed between the hours of 9 PM and 7 AM except when permitted by the Fair Haven Select Board.

Sixty-five-years after narrowly surviving injuries he received in World War II, federal Judge Franklin Billings Jr. received his Purple Heart yesterday. The former chief justice of the Vermont Supreme Court and speaker of the House in the state Legislature was honored during a long-overdue ceremony at the American Legion Post 24 in Woodstock.

A Vermont environmental group says the state's push to go "green" shouldn't destroy one of its best features, the Green Mountains. Vermonters for a Clean Environment says they aren't necessarily against wind power. They just don't want giant wind turbines built atop Vermont's unspoiled mountains. That's the message they hope to deliver to the state's next governor as various wind projects are underway or proposed for Vermont's mountain ridge lines.

An addiction to smoking may soon get some Burlington residents kicked out of their homes. A new smoking ban at a few of the city's subsidized housing complexes has resident smokers upset. The policy change is part of a national movement headed by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to make low-income housing a healthier place for all its residents.

A new report shows that Vermont is spending more on anti-smoking programs than most other states. A coalition of public health organizations ranks Vermont 9th best in its support for its efforts to prevent kids from smoking and to help smokers quit.

New statistics show that Vermont and New Hampshire have the lowest rate of premature births of any state in the country. The March of Dimes says 9.5 percent of Vermont births in 2008 were premature. New Hampshire's rate was 9.6 percent. That compares to a national average of 12.3 percent.

The state is starting a new program to help keep the elderly from getting scammed out of their money. State officials say they are going to start training medical professionals to spot signs of trouble because many elderly don't want to admit they were victimized. Signs include an overprotective caregiver, change in appearance or behavior and depression.

The Burlington Electric Department is warning people about a scam that uses the utility's name. Customers say they got phone calls yesterday promoting new credit cards and using the cards to pay their utility bills at reduced rates. But BED says it is not behind the calls and that customers should not give out any information to people making these offers.

Vermont's lone nuclear plant has received a passing grade from federal regulators, but details of the review are secret. Vermont Yankee received a letter from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission saying that it found no problems during a recent security review. Plant spokesman Larry Smith calls the results of the inspection a clean bill of health.

Vermont's top law enforcement officer wants the state to impose a penny per ounce excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, including sports and energy drinks and soda. Attorney General William Sorrell says the tax could raise $30 million a year and help combat the growing problem of obesity. Sorrell also says the Legislature might consider extending the state's 6% sales tax to candy.

A Bennington manufacturer of tear gas and pepper spray products is facing charges of illegally storing hazardous waste without a permit. The U.S. Attorney for Vermont said Wednesday that Mace Security International and Mace Bennington Unit President Jon Goodrich have been indicted by a federal grand jury with a felony, alleging that they kept hazardous waste in mill buildings and outside the facility in shipping containers.

Officials announced this week that the 2011 Empire State Games have been canceled due to the state's ongoing fiscal crisis. The Winter Games administrator sent a letter to athletes informing them that the winter, summer, and senior games as well as the games for the physically challenged have been canceled because of New York's $9 billion budget gap. The popular annual sporting events are run by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

A new online registry system for organ donors in Vermont is getting a push from social media, with a website encouraging people to register as donors. The website, called DonateLifeVT.org, includes a simple link to register online, as well as links to social media sites meant to get the word out to other potential donors. Vermont started its online registry in the spring, making it the last state in the country to form a registry.

There are two opportunities the weekend after Thanksgiving to hear “An Advent Ceremony of Carols,” Benjamin Britten’s “Ceremony of Carols” with Vermont Symphony Orchestra harpist Heidi Soons accompanying the Ladies’ Night Out Women’s Chorus. The choir will also sing some seasonal carols with harp as well as a-capella. The first concert is at Trinity Episcopal Church in Rutland at 7 PM Saturday, November 27. The second concert is at 3PM Sunday, November 28 at St. Bridget’s Church in West Rutland.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WVTK Local & State News November 17, 2010

Gov. Jim Douglas said President Barak Obama has selected Vermont as one of eight states to participate in a demonstration project that is modeled after the groundbreaking Vermont Blueprint for Health. As part of the demonstration project, the federal government will provide Medicare funding to better coordinate care, lower costs and improve health outcomes for patients. This is a first for the federal Medicare program.

A young woman from Monkton reportedly brought her child during a burglary spree. State Police say 22-year-old Lacie Pickett smashed car windows, stealing jewelry, cash and other items from the cars. There were a total of 18 car break-ins reported in Charlotte from September to November, mostly those with out of state plates. Pickett reportedly told police she had no one to look after her baby, so she brought the newborn with her.

Art and the Internet are front-and-center in the Downtown Rutland Partnership's plan for the coming year 
About 20 people attended the Partnership's annual meeting yesterday. The big announcement of the meeting was that the partnership's new website is expected to come online December 1st. The partnership is also pushing to get more municipal art in the city. The artist who painted the wall of the Rutland Natural Food Market will be adding a new mural above The Pit parking lot in the spring.

The state’s Department of Liquor Control asked distributing companies not to sell alcohol energy drinks to Vermont stores. The sweet-tasting high-alcohol beverages, referred to as AEDs, have been linked to numerous cases of alcohol poisonings across the country, including a fatality recently in Maryland. Despite the fact that purchasing the drinks requires over-21 identification like any other alcohol purchase the beverages are being marketed to youth with flavors designed to hide the alcohol.

The Vermont Railway is paying a $120,000 fine for a series of hazardous waste violations that include leaving containers of waste in an unused boxcar in a Rutland rail yard that had been there since 1964. There was kerosene in 19 drums found in the boxcar. An Agency of Natural Resources analyst said an inspection revealed additional violations in Burlington and in Rutland.

New numbers show that Vermont now ranks among the top hungriest states in the country. The USDA just released its annual report, which shows that 1 in 7 Vermont households don't have enough to eat. These figures are determined by census data on families' eating habits. According to the USDA's analysis, Vermont and Alabama are tied for the highest increase in household food insecurity over the past decade.

Officials at the Burlington International Airport are warning holiday travelers of increased security. Airport Manager Brian Searles says he doesn't expect any empty seats on any flights from now through Thanksgiving. The Federal TSA Director at Burlington says the added security measures are a direct result of last year's "Christmas Day bomber."

Vermont State Police say domestic violence calls in the Green Mountain State are on the rise. That's why steps are being taken to deal with it, which includes mandatory domestic violence training. The Vermont State Police Academy says more than 20% of police calls in this state are related to domestic violence. TJ Anderson is Vermont's first ever Domestic Violence Trainer. She creates the curriculum for the mandatory eight-hour course.

Vermont state government's revenues came in slightly above expectations in October. Secretary of Administration Neale Lunderville says year-to-date revenues of nearly $374 million are about $14 million ahead of a forecast issued in July. But he says the extra money resulted mainly from 1-time payments of bank franchise fees in August and what's expected to be a 1-time bump in corporate tax revenues in September.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor 12 Vermonters died in work-related incidents in 2009. There were 134 fatal work injuries across New England in 2009. It's the region's lowest level since 1992 and an improvement over 2008.

Vermont retailers say the state's 6% sales tax continues to hurt businesses in the Connecticut River Valley because shoppers go to New Hampshire to avoid it. New Hampshire has no sales tax, but Vermont enacted one in 1969 and has raised it several times since. A new report issued yesterday says the disparity has stunted commercial growth in eastern Vermont.

The state of Vermont is getting ready to redraw the boundaries of the state's legislative districts. The process, which takes place every 10 years based on U.S. Census population updates, got under way yesterday in Montpelier, with an organizational meeting of the seven-member Vermont Apportionment Board. Redistricting is to make sure that all Vermonters count equally, whether they live in Burlington or Bennington.

Forty-seven farmers, small businesses and maple syrup makers in Vermont and New Hampshire will receive more than $4 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The USDA is distributing the money in Vermont and New Hampshire. Sixty-three applicants in the two states applied for money.

Two women, who prosecutors say were involved in the Burlington stabbing of Luke Haddock along with their boyfriends, were in court yesterday. Prosecutors have charged Tricia Guyette and Crystal Parker with assault and robbery with injury. Both women pleaded not guilty and were released on conditions.

The Burlington police department is recognizing the increased diversity of Vermont's largest city by translating three informational brochures into six languages spoken in the immigrant community. Police say the translated pamphlets were distributed to local service agencies such as the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program and the Association of Africans Living in Vermont.

The first motel in Vermont is for sale. The Knoll Motel opened sixty years ago in 1950. Stanley Sabens is selling the 13-room motel where he's worked for the past 45 years. Sabens says he now wants to take his father on a vacation while he's still alive. He also wants to do things like write a book, maybe even write the screenplay, if a Hollywood producer decides to do a movie on Vermont's first motel.

If you’re one of those that enjoy watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade you’ll see seven new floats and two new balloons making their debut this year. Themes of the new floats range from Dora the Explorer to landmarks of South Dakota - including a replica of Mount Rushmore.

The holiday shopping season is here, but before you go out and rack up some holiday debt, lawmakers and consumer interest groups caution "buyer beware" when it comes to store credit cards. You should be looking into the details of the card and asking questions like What's the interest rate? What's the grace period on payments? Are there penalties or any transaction fees? The best way to find out if a particular card is right for you is to do your research ahead of time by going to those credit card websites or by checking out the Consumer Assistance Program website: www.uvm.edu/consumer

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

WVTK Local & State News November 16, 2010

A hunter is recovering at home after a hunting accident in Rutland County over the weekend. Ed Bell of Orwell shot a deer in the woods in Benson. When he approached without his gun, Bell discovered the deer was still alive. It started kicking and then stood up. Bell took off running, tripped over some brush and accidentally stabbed himself in the leg with his hunting knife. He was taken to the hospital where he received 10 stitches.

The Crop harvest is looking good this year for Addison County farmers. In some cases better than it has in many years. Craig Miner with the county Farm Service Agency said that from what he saw, nearly the entire growing season spelled good luck for local farmers. This year, dairy farmers in the county have been able to put up a good amount of hay and corn for winter-feeding. Which is good because of relatively high grain prices.

A filmmaker from Charlotte has accepted and begun what he calls an exciting challenge from the Bixby Free Memorial Library. In the next 12 months Philip Fass plans to complete a 60-minute DVD that will not only express what the Bixby Library has meant to the five communities it has served since 1912, but also emphasize the central role the Vergennes institution can continue to play in the decades to come.

School boards in Leicester and Whiting are working on the proposed school budgets for the 2011-2012 school year. Both budgets will be affected by the Legislature’s “Challenges for Change” effort, as well as from a potential reduction in the state’s Small Schools grant. According to the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union Superintendent the targets are set at a $12,177 reduction from Leicester Central School’s current spending plan and a $4,774 reduction from Whiting Elementary School’s current year’s spending. He expects both schools to meet the Challenges for Change targets.

The Middlebury Selectboard has OK’d a contract with Bread Loaf Corp. to help the fire department to determine whether its best option is to plan for on-site expansion or a new headquarters. The Middlebury Volunteer Fire Department maintains two stations, a primary facility on Seymour Street and a branch station in East Middlebury. The Seymour Street station can barely contain current fire apparatus and will be unable to accommodate the next generation of vehicles.

Last spring the Leicester Central School received a $50,000 energy efficiency and conservation block grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to fund the installation of a new, energy-efficient boiler and water heater in the school. Leicester Central has now put the installation contract out to bid, with the hope of doing the new installations in the spring.

Vermont State Police investigators are trying to determine if human remains found near the Appalachian Trail in the town of Mendon are those of a man who has been missing since April. Police say no foul play is suspected. Police say hunters found them at about 9:15 Sunday morning. Investigators are trying to determine if the remains are those of a Florida man who was reported missing in April. The man's vehicle was found in Rutland in May.

Expected savings from Vermont's newly instituted Challenges for Change program are not as hefty as lawmakers hoped. It was a plan passed earlier this year to save 38-million dollars by making state government more efficient and changing the way certain services are delivered. But the program has only saved 30 million. Officials say they still have about 3-million in savings yet to identify and they've earmarked funding to cover some of that gap.

Just over a year ago, they were the first to leave. Now, five of the nearly 15-hundred members of the Vermont National Guard deployed to Afghanistan are the first to come home. The soldiers are part of the 86th Infantry Brigade, and the first of many charters bringing home the others will start at about mid-week next week, with everyone eventually home just after Christmas.

Republican Brian Dubie raised more money than Democrat Peter Shumlin did in their campaign for Vermont governor, but Shumlin ended up getting more votes. Campaign finance reports filed yesterday show that Dubie raised just under $1.5 million in cash and another $67,000 in non-monetary contributions during his run.

Gearing up for a new administration in Montpelier, Vermont Gov.-elect Peter Shumlin is naming his choices for five high-level state jobs. Shumlin said he'll appoint state Treasurer Jeb Spaulding as his secretary of administration, state Sen. Susan Bartlett as his special assistant, Democratic strategist Bill Lofy as chief of staff, lawyer Beth Robinson as special counsel and campaign manager Alexandra MacLean as secretary of civil and military affairs.

Governor Jim Douglas highlighted ongoing efforts to prevent child sexual abuse. Act One, signed by Douglas in 2008, increases child sexual abuse prevention in schools. Everyone in the school system will be trained on how to deal with the issue, from bus drivers and janitors, to teachers. A new public service announcement also spreads the message that it is adult’s responsibility to prevent sexual abuse. Schools systems will receive the orientation on how to deal with and prevent sexual abuse starting in 2011.

Two people face stiff charges for their alleged involvement in a Burlington mugging and stabbing. Scott Whalon, 23, and Mehmed Devac, 16, pleaded not guilty and were held without bail Monday. Police say the two mugged a man earlier this month as he was walking by himself on North Willard Street. They say Devac stabbed the man, puncturing his lung.

Four Loko has just been banned in New York state. That means all stores that carry the alcoholic energy drink will have to pull it off shelves and stop selling it. State leaders are concerned about the safety of this type of product. Not only are the drinks targeted to younger drinkers, but also health officials feel the caffeine content and its potential to mask the effects of alcohol can be dangerous.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the price of gasoline is getting more and more expensive for consumers. Travelers will soon hit the roads for the holidays and experts say, be ready to pay more at the pump. The price of gasoline has soared over the past week up to $3.11 per gallon in some parts of Vermont.

The Salvation Army has started its efforts a little earlier than usual this year. Bell ringers have been out since the beginning of November and organizers say that's because the need is greater than ever. Last year the Salvation Army says that there was an increase in donations because people are aware of the challenges Vermonters are facing.

Young drivers in Vermont can now prepare for the learner's permit online. The Department of Motor Vehicles launched a new interactive tool, using high-tech animation to help new drivers learn the rules of the road. The tutorial also explains the process for getting a permit and a license. The DMV says the tool is the first of its kind in the country. To check it out click here.

A Marine veteran is walking across the country with one goal in mind and he was in Montpelier yesterday. Lance Robinson from Pennsylvania is walking from state to state trying to get proclamations from mayors and governors to get September 10th declared national Brother-to-Brother Day. Robinson wants a day of recognition for veterans where they will wear their uniforms and salute and shake hands together. Unlike Veterans or Memorial Day he hopes Brother-to-Brother day will be free of commercialism.

Monday, November 15, 2010

WVTK Local & State News November 15, 2010

A New Haven bicyclist spent the night in the hospital after being struck by a passing car on River Road. 

According to Vermont State Police, Deborah Young was hospitalized at Fletcher Allen Health Care on Friday afternoon after being hit in the back of the head by the side mirror of a truck. Young was released Saturday morning, according to the hospital. Anyone who witnessed the collision is asked to contact the New Haven State Police barracks.

A bizarre hunting accident happened in a wooded area behind a home off Route 144 in Benson over the weekend. It was a tough rescue, because it required first responders to cross the Hubbardton River. The man reportedly cut a main artery in his leg and was airlifted to a regional hospital. Authorities have not released his name and his condition is unknown.

A fast moving fire heavily damaged a home here in Addison County. Crews were called to a residence on Route 30 in Cornwall over the weekend. After a scene investigation, the exact cause remains undetermined, however the fire is deemed suspicious at this time. Anyone with any information concerning this fire is asked to contact the State Police in New Haven or the Vermont Arson Tip Award Program.

The Lake Champlain Basin Program is accepting proposals for 4 lake-related projects, including one that will examine the impact fishing tournaments have on the lake's bass populations. The program will receive $315-thousand-dollars in federal funds to jumpstart the 4 projects. The other 3 projects are fish passage, shore development, and mercury and PCBs.

Fears of a 50% tax hike in Essex County, New York appear to be over. Town supervisors believe the tax hike will be closer to 14%. They spent all day Friday slashing costs, including the elimination of two- dozen jobs. That saved about one million dollars. A public hearing on the budget will be held Monday, November 30th at 7 PM at the county Supervisors' office in Elizabethtown.

2 men will be in court today answering to charges in connection with a robbery and stabbing, which happened last week, at the corner of North and North Willard Streets. According to police, the 2 men jumped Luke Haddock, who is now recovering from his injuries at his parent’s house. The 2 men's girlfriends were also arrested for their roles; they’ll be in court tomorrow.

A raid on an East Montpelier home has uncovered nearly a dozen and a half severely malnourished animals. The 12 dogs and five cats were brought to the Central Vermont Humane Society with a range of problems. The humane society is asking for donations to help pay for the variety of surgeries needed. Vermont State Police have not released any details about the incident citing an ongoing investigation.

Environmental activists are stepping up protests over Vermont Yankee. The group Greenpeace took to the sky yesterday, sending an airship over the Vernon plant. The message on a banner was calling for Yankee's owner Entergy to shut the plant down. The group says it used the stunt to draw attention to the problems facing the reactor and to warn potential buyers of the risks of purchasing the plant.

Vermont State Police say a 22-year-old man has admitted to fabricating a report that he was stabbed Halloween night. Police say Donald Gould of West Pawlet initially told investigators that a person in a gorilla suit stabbed him with a small needle-like device when he answered his door Halloween night. Police now say that in a follow-up interview with an investigating trooper, Gould admitted that he created the puncture wound himself. Police did not say if Gould faces any charges.

A New England group formed to increase freedom of information and government transparency has named its first executive director. Rosanna Cavanagh, who has law and business degrees from Cornell University, will lead the New England First Amendment Coalition.

A group organized to set up a process for state recognition of Indian tribes in Vermont will hold a series of public forums around the state. The Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs will hold the first meeting on Tuesday in Newport at the Goodrich Memorial Library. A new state law created a process for the commission to recommend state recognition of a tribe to the Vermont Legislature.

The Ticonderoga Dog Park is open. A ribbon-cutting ceremony November 4th officially opened the doggy playground, located on Lord Howe Street. Organizers say there is a need for a dog park in Ticonderoga as many people have small yards that don't provide enough space for dogs. There are also visitors to the community who need a place to exercise their pets.

The annual Christmas Fair at the First United Methodist Church in Ticonderoga will be held this Saturday from 9 AM to 2 PM. The Thrift Shop, located downstairs, will be open. Also downstairs will be the White Elephant room. The annual Christmas Fair will also feature a luncheon from 11 – 1.

New York area Girl Scouts are collecting items for American troops overseas. Collections boxes have been left at George's and Bouyea's in Moriah. This Saturday (November 20th) the girls will set up a station at Wal-Mart in Ticonderoga from 11AM – 2PM to collect items as well. The girls have several other events, which are currently in the planning stages this year.

Jay Peak Resort is again paying tribute to Vermont service members in Iraq or Afghanistan by offering their immediate family members free season passes. Family members also are eligible for 50% discounts on equipment rentals as well as free skiing or riding lessons in the afternoons, space permitting.

The public is being invited to help celebrate works of art by three Vermont sculptors on display at the newly renovated state Archives and Record Administration building in Middlesex. The opening is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon from 2 – 4. The Vermont Arts Council and the Department of Buildings & General Services are sponsoring this event.

A community Thanksgiving dinner will again be served in Ticonderoga. The second annual Adirondack Dinner Table Thanksgiving Feast will be served November 25 at the Ti firehouse. This year there will actually be two dinners, the traditional Thanksgiving dinner will be served from Noon to 2 PM and a "leftover supper" will be served at 5 PM. Information is available on the Adirondack Dinner Table Facebook page.

Friday, November 12, 2010

WVTK Local & State News November 12, 2010

The Addison Central Supervisory Union schools and central office will attempt to prepare 2011-2012 budgets that reflect a combined total of $613,340 in spending cuts. The cuts are being requested as part of the state Legislature’s “Challenges for Change” directive aimed at reducing government spending. Next Tuesday, UD-3 school board members will get their first glimpse of how a 2-percent spending cut could translate into fewer supplies, programs, staff and services.

This week Middlebury selectmen got their first look at a draft 2011-2012 municipal budget. Maintaining current staffing levels and services would require approximately $250,000 more in local tax revenues. The municipal tax rate would need to be increased by almost 4 cents. That would translate into a property tax increase of $74 for the owner of a homestead valued at $200,000.

The Addison Northwest Supervisory Union committee studying unification of the five-town district took no action at this weeks meeting. They did however reach a consensus that it will offer a positive review of a potential one-board governance to the full board on November 17th.

The Mount Abraham Union High School board has set its educational spending target for the coming fiscal year. It is a 2 percent reduction from this year’s spending plan. The target agreed upon unanimously by the board members would allow Mount Abe to reach the voluntary spending cut mandated by the Legislature as part of its “Challenges for Change” law.

Sudbury residents will be asked to close the Sudbury Country School after a number of failed moves exploring the possibility of merging their elementary school with schools in neighboring towns. A number of parents recently delivered a petition demanding that the school be closed and the town tuition its youngest students to other schools. There will be a special school district meeting on December 6th. Town voters will be asked to decide whether to authorize the Sudbury school board to close the school and send students to other public schools beginning in the Fall of 2011.

This first draft of recommended Rutland Public School district cuts was presented to the full Rutland School Board late October and the work continues to reduce its tap on the statewide education fund. The administration supports the elimination of world language in seventh grade at Rutland Middle School, industrial arts or woodshop also at the middle school and the layoff of three Rutland High School teachers in English, math and social studies. The Board is expected to ratify the district's budget by early January 2011.

The search continues on Lake Champlain for a missing New York woman. Fifty-six-year-old Francine Marcel was last seen canoeing on the lake last Tuesday near her family's camp. Earlier this week New York State Police troopers walked 30 miles of shoreline looking for the missing Morrisonville woman. Helicopters and sonar are also being used to try and find Marcel in the water. Her green Old Town canoe also remains missing.

A new marquee made of hand-forged steel will soon stand in front of the Town Hall Theater. The new marquee will provide a very sturdy and classy message board on which the theater will be able to showcase its many events to the community. They expect installation to be complete by the end of the year.

Ripton Elementary School is looking for community input on how students can mark the holiday season as part of their learning experience. The outreach comes in the wake of decision by school officials not have typical Halloween activities this year. The decided instead to have a more general celebration of the fall and Thanksgiving.

There's a new memorial to Vermont soldiers and Marines who have died as part of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. About 300 people gathered yesterday at the state veterans' cemetery in Randolph where the granite memorial was dedicated. The memorial is inscribed with the names of 40 service members with Vermont ties that have died in the nation's wars since the 2001 attacks on the United States.

Rutland County residents came out this Veterans Day to show their respect at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Main Street Park. The memorial was built back in 2000 with the names of about 125 local vets on the honor roll. Thirteen more names were added this Veterans Day and the list is now at 312 names.

The commander of the Vermont National Guard says "dozens and dozens" of the state's soldiers have been wounded while serving in Afghanistan. But Maj. Gen. Michael Dubie says federal privacy laws prevent the guard from announcing when a soldier is wounded. Dubie says he's visited military hospitals in the Washington area and Germany multiple times in the last six months and says it's tough.

Howard Dean’s supporters crowded into the back of a downtown Burlington cafĂ© last night to discuss how a midterm defeat for the Democrats will shift the balance of power in Washington and how the party could bounce back. Dean says he stands behind the President and believes the Democrats can still recover, but has no plans to launch his own campaign 2012. He did predict that Mitt Romney would be a shoe-in for the republican nomination.

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon is back online after the reactor was restarted following an unplanned shutdown caused by a leak of radioactive water. Plant officials say Vermont Yankee was reconnected to the New England power grid at 5:18 AM yesterday.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is fighting to keep Social Security exactly as it is. A bi-partisan commission tackling the rising national debt recommends higher taxes and big cuts. The commission says it could reduce the federal deficit by $4 trillion over a decade with a series of moves including higher federal taxes, a 10 percent cut to the federal work force, $700 billion in cuts to Medicare and Social Security, and raising the retirement age. Already Republicans are speaking out against the tax hikes and Democrats are speaking out against cuts to Social Security.

Thee are new talks of a major addition to the University of Vermont. School officials now hope outside assistance will help them build a new sports arena on campus. The plans to build an arena for UVM have been up in the air for years now. The university said those plans are back on but with the help of outside firms they hope will take the vision forward.

Officials in Vermont are hoping $590,000 in grants will help the state become the first to build a so-called "smart grid" to deliver electrical power more reliably and efficiently. The money is coming from a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and $90,000 from IBM. Two professors from the University of Vermont will use the grants to launch a 2-year study of how to reduce the risk for the smart grid of large blackouts such as the one that paralyzed much of the Northeast in 2003.

The people at 3SquaresVT want you to know what it's like to live on food stamps for National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. To do so they're asking everyone to take the 3SquaresVT challenge, where people who do not receive food assistance will try to make ends meet with just $38. That's the weekly average for about 88-thousand Vermonters.

E-books have reached another milestone: their own best seller lists in The New York Times. The Times, whose best-seller lists have long been a benchmark for success among authors, announced that in early 2011 they would begin publishing rankings for fiction and nonfiction e-books. The digital market has grown rapidly in the past three years, starting with Amazon.com's Kindle reader and continuing with Apple's iPad and Barnes & Noble's Nook.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

WVTK Local & State News November 11, 2010

The Charlotte to Essex ferry crossing will run as scheduled with the M.V. Adirondack from mid-November until the end of December. Beginning Jan. 1, the ferry M.V. Governor Aiken will run as long as ice conditions permit. Lake Champlain Ferries has taken delivery on a ferry built by Eastern Marine Shipbuilding Panama City, Fla. The new ferry will be put in service by Jan. 1 and used as a fill in for ferries that need engine rebuilds and U.S. Coast Guard mandated haul-outs.

Small City Market, a longtime commercial anchor in downtown Vergennes has reopened for business on South Water Street. The new store includes a cold beverage cave, a larger delicatessen with an impressive take-out menu plus a variety of fresh New York-style brick oven pizzas. Their open-air merchandiser provides customers with a daily selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, salads, and more.

Downtown Rutland's Paramount Theatre hopes to complete a repair project before any major winter storms. Contractors are replacing roofing membrane and rotten sheathing that recently caused water damage inside the theater. Federal and local grants of $46,000 are paying for the work. Theater officials anticipate the work to be completed within 3 weeks.

Rescue officials say three people are safe after being pulled from a Lake Champlain cave Tuesday night, where they were stranded after their raft broke up in stormy conditions. Firefighters from Charlotte rappelled down a 30-foot cliff to reach the three, along with three dogs. Emergency responders say the cave may have saved the lives of the three, by shielding them from 6-foot waves on Lake Champlain.

For the first time in 216 days, 45 members of the Vermont Air National Guard are back home. They arrived yesterday. The men and women of the 158th Security Forces Squadron provided security in Saudi Arabia. The 15-hundred members of the Vermont Army National Guard who have been serving in Afghanistan will return before Christmas.

A six-story building near downtown Winooski, which will be able to provide help and housing for struggling veterans is nearly finished. The Canal Street Veterans Housing is being built by the Committee on Temporary Shelter and is the first of its kind in Vermont. The goal is to provide services to homeless and struggling vets, helping them find jobs and permanent housing. It's due to be completed in mid-December.

The head of a Vermont National Guard-led brigade in Afghanistan says his unit is helping make "huge progress" in establishing civilian governments in the areas where it is operating. Since March, Col. Will Roy has commanded almost 1,500 Vermonters and soldiers from five other states and several countries in three provinces in eastern Afghanistan.

The Public Service Board said its hands are effectively tied over the future of Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. The Chairman also made it clear that there wouldn’t be any new developments for the foreseeable future on pending issues on the Vermont Yankee docket.

Unless Congress acts soon, heavy tractor-trailers won't be traveling Vermont's highways starting next month. Senator Patrick Leahy will try to get legislation passed to make a pilot program designed to allow trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds on Vermont's interstates permanent. Right now the federal government is looking at whether to make a temporary rule that is set to expire in December permanent.

Burlington police want to talk to two men in connection with a mugging on a city street over the weekend. Images of the two men were captured on a surveillance camera outside the Willard Street Market the night of the attack. Police are not calling the two men suspects, but say they do want to talk to them.

A special ceremony is planned for today. It's the day the Vermont memorial to the global war on terrorism will be unveiled at the Randolph Veterans Cemetery. Forty names of Vermonters who have died in the war since September 11th, 2001, are etched in the top of the memorial. The unveiling happens at 11AM.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

WVTK Local & State News November 10, 2010

A distress call came in around 9:45 last night that three people and three dogs were stranded in Lake Champlain after their homemade raft capsized. The two men and woman were in the raft off Thompson's Point. The Coast Guard and search and rescue teams from Charlotte and Vergennes were called in to help in the search. Names of the boaters have not yet been released yet, and authorities don't know why they were out on the cold, rough water.

The results of last week's election for governor and lieutenant governor in Vermont are official. But because no candidate got more than 50% of the vote, both races will be decided by the Legislature. Democrat Peter Shumlin received 49.5% of the vote while Republican Brian Dubie, who conceded defeat, got 47.7%. In the lieutenant governor's race, Republican Phil Scott got 49.4% compared to Democrat Steve Howard who received 42.4%.

Allen Pools & Spas was honored yesterday as the Vermont Retail Association 2010 Retailer of the Year. The award recognized the family-owned business for its longevity and steady growth throughout its 53 years in business. Two other businesses were also honored. The Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington was named Greentailer of the Year for environmental excellence, and the Old Brick Store in Charlotte received the Community Gem award, which honors a retailer who makes “unique and valuable contributions” to the community.

Forty-five Green Mountain Boys have spent the past seven months in Saudi Arabia. The airmen are in the 158th Security Forces Squadron and have been conducting routine security operations at a U.S. military base there. The unit is scheduled to arrive home this afternoon.

A record number of students are attending community college in Vermont. Officials at the Community College of Vermont say enrollment is up 4 percent from last year and up 24 percent from just five years ago. The increase mirrors a nationwide trend. CCV officials credit the down economy, arguing community colleges are a less expensive option for students.

Police in Burlington say a grudge over a years-old child custody dispute led to the slaying of a Vermont social worker that was found dead in her home. Forty-5-year-old Jose M. Pazos was charged yesterday with first-degree murder, kidnapping and burglary in the death of 50-year-old Kathleen Smith. He has pleaded not guilty.

Vermont Yankee officials say technicians have repaired a leak of radioactive water that prompted the sudden shutdown of the nuclear power plant Sunday. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said the leak at the power plant in Vernon posed no danger to the public.

Work has finally being done to bring high-speed rail service to Vermont. It's the beginning of improvements on the Vermonter line. The work costs 70-million dollars, with 50-million coming from stimulus funding, plus a 20-million commitment from New England Central Railroad. Besides making Vermont more accessible to both businesses and travelers, it also means job creation, according to Governor Jim Douglas. The high-speed rail improvements are expected to shave 90 minutes off the trip from St. Albans to New York City.

Two new lawsuits have been filed on behalf of gay and lesbian couples in four states to challenge a 1996 law denying married gay couples federal benefits. The lawsuits were filed yesterday in federal courts in Connecticut and New York. They were filed on behalf of couples in Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and New York. The filing of multiple lawsuits will likely result in several rulings in different federal court districts. It could increase the likelihood that the Supreme Court will eventually consider the issue.

Governor David Paterson has offered a plan he says can reduce New York's greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050. Paterson - who leaves office at the end of the year - wants to speed the development of 0- and low-carbon sources of power, create incentives for the construction of energy efficient buildings and promote sustainable policies in agriculture and forestry. Paterson says his plan can help build up New York's economy and create tens of thousands of jobs.

New York data show major crimes rising 1% in the first six months of 2010 following almost two decades of decline statewide. In budget testimony Tuesday, Sean Byrne, acting commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services, says it's not clear yet whether that is an anomaly or a trend.

A special ceremony is planned this year for Veterans Day. It's the day the Vermont memorial to the global war on terrorism will be unveiled at the Randolph Veterans Cemetery. Forty names of Vermonters who have died in the war since September 11th, 2001, are etched in the top of the memorial. The unveiling happens tomorrow at 11AM.

The third annual "local food matchmaking" event paired local food sellers with buyers in a speed dating-style event at Shelburne Farms. The event, organized by the Vermont Fresh Network and the Agency of Agriculture, brought 150 food buyers and local food producers together in one place to talk about new partnerships. The event was started to get buyers and sellers into the same room together, making relationships easier and more personable.

A seminar on starting your own small business takes place this morning in Middlebury from 9 – Noon at the Addison County Economic Development Corporation. The Vermont Small Business Development Center is offering a three-hour workshop on how to start your own business and write a business plan. The seminar is designed for individuals who are thinking about going into business but need assistance with the procedures involved and government regulations regarding starting up a business in Vermont.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

WVTK Local & State News November 9, 2010

Drivers are hoping today's commute is a little less adventurous than the one yesterday when rain turned into freezing drizzle and sleet. An ice-coated bridge on Route 105 in Sheldon was the scene of a three-vehicle crash. Another car slid off Interstate 89 near Richmond. V-Trans crews remained on standby all night, and will be treating roads, if necessary, through today. Meanwhile at Killington it was wind and ice not a lack of snow that kept the resort from welcoming skiers.

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 Vergennes Union Elementary School. The union is exploring a possible unification vote on Town Meeting Day 2011.

The Vermont Secretary of State's office says the results of last week's gubernatorial election will soon be official. A canvassing board is to sign off on vote totals from the race between Democrat Peter Shumlin and Republican Brian Dubie, as well as the other races on the Nov. 2 ballot. The vote totals are important because under Vermont law, the top vote-getter in the gubernatorial election must get 50% of the votes cast, plus one, or the election goes to the Legislature for a secret ballot vote. That's expected in the Shumlin-Dubie race, even though Dubie has already conceded defeat.

Peter Damone was sitting on the back porch of his Bridport home when a bullet came from the woods and hit him on August 13th. Right now it's hunting season and he's got a request for anyone with a gun: know where your bullet is going to end up before you pull the trigger. He says he's not against guns, but if anything good can come from this, it's more responsibility.

A revised plan has been submitted to the Ferrisburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment for a potential Dollar General Store on Route 7. About 20 people were present at the second of two public hearings on a plan for the 10,000 square foot store. Developers hope it will be the first of three stores on the site near the new solar farm.

The Granville selectboard will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, Nov. 10, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Granville town clerk’s office. They are seeking public comment on a proposed 100-foot cell tower that AT&T would to build off Butz Road in Lower Granville. The selectboard would like to hear from residents, renters, businesses and second homeowners in Granville and the surrounding areas. This is an opportunity for people to ask questions or make comments to an AT&T representative regarding the proposed wireless communications tower.

The Hannaford Career Center’s Addison Repertory Theater is seeking to raise $11,000 to help with its planned performance of “Peter Pan”. The $11,000 is needed to hire a professional aerial choreography company. A representative of the company would come in to rig the Middlebury Union High School auditorium stage with the necessary cables and other technology to allow the student stars of the play to take flight in Pan-like fashion.

Rep. Willem Jewett of Ripton faced no opponent in his re-election bid on November 2 and hopes to have similar luck in his next political contest coming up on December 4. The four-term Addison-2 lawmaker will be asking his Democrat colleagues to elect him assistant majority leader, also known as “majority whip”, of the Vermont House.

Now that repair crews know what they're dealing with, the hope is for Vermont Yankee to be able to go back on line sometime today. A radioactive leak was discovered Sunday, forcing the nuclear power plant to shut down. A spokesman for Vermont Yankee says a two-inch plug in a pipe, which has been there for 28 years, is to blame.

Some Rutland troops will be the last of the Vermont deployment to leave Afghanistan late in December or in January of next year. This marks the end of the National Guard’s one-year scheduled deployment. Most Vermont soldiers will be home by Christmas but they will come in at different times and in different crews. National Guard units from northern parts of the state and Connecticut will arrive home first.

Expenses for Stafford Technical Center, which are part of the overall Rutland Public Schools spending plan, are down 3.7 percent. That according to financials expected to be presented to the School Board today. The board is expected to weigh Stafford’s budget as it moves forward with trimming its overall spending plan for 2012 of more than $45 million per a request from the state Legislature to cut $2 million.

A record number of Vermont households will receive home heating assistance this winter, but they will get less money. State officials say 18,700 families have qualified to receive help in paying their heating bills -- about three thousand more than last year. The government has loosened the eligibility guidelines allowing more people to qualify for assistance, but so far Congress has allocated ten million dollars less than last year. So benefits will be greatly reduced.

Vermont's Abenaki Indians are trying again to win state recognition of their tribe. The group that will establish the process for achieving that recognition has scheduled a series of public forums around the state. The first meeting is next Tuesday in Newport. Additional meetings are scheduled in Johnson in December and Montpelier in January.

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service chief David White announced the availability of $1.2 million in federal funding for forest farm owners on Friday. Vermont is one of the seven states participating under the New England-New York Forestry Initiative to provide $5.9 million that will be available to forest and owners throughout New England and New York. This is an initiative to assist Vermont landowners with forestland planning and management.

The Committee on Temporary Shelter in Burlington just got a new permanent home for its administrative offices, family and housing services. Burlington College announced it's selling its current college building on North Avenue to the non-profit. The Executive Director for COTS, says they'll keep it's Day Station open in downtown Burlington, but had been looking for a while for a place in the Old North End close to families it serves.

Monday, November 8, 2010

WVTK Local & State News November 8, 2010

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory through Noon Today. The Weather Channel says we’ll see some Rain, Sleet, Snow and Wind today with a High in the 30’s.

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 Vergennes Union Elementary School. The union is exploring a possible unification vote on Town Meeting Day 2011.

Gov. James Douglas began his political career shortly after graduating from Middlebury College in 1972 and as his administration ends in January, Douglas will return to his alma mater as a teacher. The college announced Friday that Douglas would serve as “executive in residence,” mentoring students and teaching a course titled “Vermont Government and Politics” during the school’s winter term.

Vermont towns are preparing for what will likely be a very tough budget season. Adding to the pressure will be double-digit increases many face in their insurance rates. The Vermont League of Cities and Towns has told municipalities that are enrolled in the organization's group health plan that rates will go up by 17.5% next year.

A leak from a system pipe shut down the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant Sunday night. Plant officials say the leak was releasing about 60 drops per minute from a pipe in the feed water system, and operations had to be shut down in order to fix it. At the time, the plant was already operating at reduced power for a scheduled rod pattern adjustment, as well as supporting line work by Public Service of New Hampshire.

Volunteers worked hard yesterday to keep some very unwelcome visitors out of the Charlotte Park and Wildlife Refuge. People in the community joined University of Vermont students to pull out invasive species of plants. The Japanese common honeysuckle, buckthorn and glossy buckthorn were pulled out so some of the native seedlings can survive. The park and refuge covers 290 acres.

The Vermont Railway Company will pay 120-thousand in fines over allegations that it mismanaged hazardous waste at its Burlington and Rutland rail yards. The company settled its case with The Attorney General's office last week, which includes 50-thousand dollars to pay for firefighting and spill response equipment for four fire departments near busy rail lines. Some of the money will also go to training exercises involving the release of hazardous materials from a rail car.

A new report commissioned by the administration of Gov. Jim Douglas has reignited a debate over the efficiency and effectiveness of Vermont's affordable housing programs. Vermont must create 1,000 new units of subsidized housing every year to keep pace with the needs of the state's 41,000 low-income renter households. Critics of the report include housing advocates, leaders of housing agencies and the governor-elect, Peter Shumlin.

Police are looking for suspects in the robbery and stabbing of a man on a street in Burlington. The assault took place early Sunday. Police say the victim, a young male whose name was not released, had been struck on the head, knocked to the ground and robbed. While on the ground the victim was stabbed. The victim was taken to a local hospital. Police say there were two attackers. Anyone with information is asked to call police.

The New York State Liquor Authority has said it wants to pull alcoholic energy drinks off shelves because they are believed to be too dangerous. A spokesman for the group told the Daily News that, in some cases, the drinks contain four times the alcohol content than beer. The State Authority wants to ask lawmakers if the drinks can be banned.

Vermont Air National Guard pilots will fly F-16 fighter planes at night this week for training. The Guard says planes will take off from the Burlington International Airport in the early evening and return by 9 PM. The trainings are planned for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night. The Guard says more night trainings will take place starting Nov. 16.

Vermont's falling unemployment rate means the state will also see a drop in federal emergency assistance. The average jobless rate for the last three months in Vermont is under six percent -- the cut off for what are known as Tier 3 extended benefits. About a thousand Vermonters are now receiving those benefits, but after next week, no additional unemployed people will be eligible for the extended funding. This only affects the long-term unemployed. People who have just lost their jobs are still eligible for the regular 26-weeks of unemployment benefits.

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife board is planning to hold hearings this winter to discuss proposed changes to deer and moose hunting regulations. The board has scheduled three hearings in early January to get public input on the proposals. The hearings are set for Jan. 3 at the Kehoe Conservation Camp Education Center in Castleton; Jan. 4 at the Pavilion Auditorium in Montpelier and Jan. 5 at Johnson State College's Dibden Auditorium. All three are at 6:30 PM.

The Paramount Theatre is known for attracting some very talented acts, and Saturday's performance was no exception. The Really Big show is an annual amateur talent show that highlights home grown local talent, while raising money for local families. The funds raised Saturday night will help support 34 non profit health and human services agencies in Rutland County to help people in need in the community. The fundraiser brings in about 8-thousand dollars.