Thursday, June 30, 2011

WVTK Local & State News July 1, 2011

There are many fun events to celebrate Independence Day Weekend in and around Addison County! Festivities in Bristol kick off bright and early Monday with the 5K Road Race starting at 7:30. Then join Bruce & Hobbes for the Outhouse race at 9AM followed by the parade at 10:30. In Brandon you can dance under the stars tonight with the Food Fest and Street Dance. The fun starts in Brandon’s Central Park at 5PM, join our very Amanda Leigh from 4-7 this afternoon live from the park. The town of Lincoln will be host to an outdoor concert at 4PM on the 4th featuring the Patrick Fitzsimmons Band. Vergennes will feature music and fireworks and if you’re in the mood for Pancakes, head to the Shoreham Congregational Church at 7AM on the 4th! Details and more activities are posted on the Area Calendar of our Website!

Ticonderoga's Independence Day celebration will pay tribute to those who have made it the Best Fourth in the North. Organizers have selected "July 4th Through the Past" as the theme for this summer's events. The 2011 Best Fourth in the North will be a four-day affair, beginning today at 5PM and concluding on Monday the 4th. Event details are available online at

Fort Ticonderoga will celebrate 235 years of freedom July 4th. Visitors can walk in the marching steps of Continental Army soldiers as historic interpreters dressed as soldiers from the Northern Army teach the maneuvers and discipline of a platoon, explore family programs that highlight the fight for independence and listen to performances by Fort Ticonderoga's Fifes and Drums.

Vermont law enforcement will be out in force this 4th Of July Weekend with increased activities to include extra patrols and checkpoints. Through Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort), the Vermont State Police will focus on identifying impaired and aggressive drivers over the weekend. If you plan to consume alcoholic beverages, please use a designated driver or available public transportation.

Craig Miner, County Executive Director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency in Addison County is reminding crop producers of the acreage reporting requirements that must be met prior to receiving program benefits. Filing an accurate acreage report for all crops and land uses, including failed and prevented planting acreage, is important to ensure eligibility for several programs, including potential future disaster programs. The reporting deadline is July 15th.

State and local health care administrators are studying the possibility of opening a methadone clinic in Middlebury. This has some local officials concerned about the prospect of such a service producing a spike in local drug-related crime. There are currently five methadone clinics in Vermont serving a combined total of around 500 patients who are trying to wean themselves off of narcotics. Counseling Service of Addison County officials are not close to a decision on locating or even funding a Middlebury clinic but feel it’s a project that needs to be considered.

National Bank of Middlebury is saluting local realtors for supporting homebuyers and sellers in our market. The Addison County based bank's lenders, as well as other bank lenders around the area, are publicizing the fact that they are working closely with first-time and veteran homebuyers to help stimulate the local real estate market. Officials say purchasing a home in Addison County helps make the community stronger.

About four dozen state, local and nonprofit officials on Monday morning joined Sen. Bernie Sanders on Armory Lane for the groundbreaking ceremony of a senior housing and meeting center. The $5.8 million building next to American Legion Post 14 and the Shaw’s Supermarket plaza will include a library and meeting and dining rooms. It will also host local senior lunches and provide a home for the area’s Meals on Wheels program.

Addison County residents whose homes or businesses have been damaged by recent severe storms and flooding should be aware that many federal and local programs are now in place to help aid the recovery process. Whether you are an individual whose property has sustained damage that impedes your ability to get to work, or a company that has seen a downturn in business due to flood-related damages, you may be eligible for aid from the state.

The town of Shoreham has secured a $50,000 Vermont Community Development grant. That grant will complete the funding needed for an ongoing expansion project on the Platt Memorial Library.

Crown Point has scheduled a hearing to gather public comment on a proposal to eliminate its board of assessors in favor of a sole assessor. The hearing will be held next Wednesday (July 6th) at 7PM at the Crown Point firehouse. According to Supervisor Bethany Kosmider the change to a sole assessor will save local taxpayers more than $18,000 a year.

Earlier this week officials from the Town of Westport, town Department of Public Works, the Westport Volunteer Fire Department and Westport Central School Board of Education talked about their ideas behind a proposed vote to authorize the town to bond for $7 million for a new municipal community center, which would be built at the site of the current town DPW shed. The committee will hold one more informational meeting on Monday, July 11 at 6PM at the town hall. The vote on the proposed bond resolution will be held on Tuesday, July 19, from Noon until 8PM at the town hall.

Three years after a financial battering on several fronts, officials at Fort Ticonderoga say they're optimistic that one of the nation's oldest historic sites is turning things around. Attendance rose slightly last year, and administrators of the not-for-profit organization that operates the tourist attraction say the fort's financial situation is much improved from 2008, when dire warnings of a possible closing rattled the Ticonderoga community and others in the heritage tourism industry.

Senator Bernie Sanders says the Justice Department won't intervene in the federal lawsuit being brought against the state of Vermont by the owners of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. The Vermont independent grilled Nuclear Regulatory Commission members during a Senate committee hearing two weeks ago, saying he had learned they had voted secretly to ask the Justice Department to side with Entergy in its suit against Vermont.

First Lady Michelle Obama was in Vermont calling on all Americans to help military members who have served their country overseas and their families. The presidential spouse met with Vermont military families in South Burlington yesterday and announced a new military family program called Joining Force.

The Vermont State Police say an 85-year-old man from Quebec has drowned in Lake Champlain. Police believe that Roger Ferland was out on a fishing trip Tuesday morning from the Lakehurst Campground dock in Wait Bay. They think his boat became swamped by high waves as his boat passed Cloak Island, approaching the lake. Ferland was alone. He did not know how to swim and was not wearing a life vest.

Operations at the King Street Ferry Dock in Burlington are back to normal after severe spring flooding caused major delays. The Burlington-Port Kent ferry is once again bringing passengers across the lake, getting its latest summer start ever. Lt. Governor Phil Scott was on hand directing traffic as part of his "Everyday Jobs" tour. He also pitched in next door at Breakwater Café, picking up a paintbrush to put the finishing touches on the waterfront hot spot. Scott says his Everyday Jobs tour has been very popular and he doesn't see an end in sight.

WVTK Local & State News June 30, 2011

Vermont law enforcement will be out in force this 4th Of July Weekend with increased activities to include extra patrols and checkpoints. Through Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort), the Vermont State Police will focus on identifying impaired and aggressive drivers over the weekend. Those who drive impaired and/or aggressively present the highest risks on our highways and have a greater chance of being involved in a motor vehicle crash. Vermont law enforcement strongly urges our citizens and visitors to focus on safe and responsible driving. If you plan to consume alcoholic beverages, please use a designated driver or available public transportation.

Today is a big day for politics in Vermont. First Lady Michelle Obama will swing through the Burlington area for a mix of official and campaign events. Mrs. Obama's visit is about meeting troops and raising cash for President Obama's 2012 campaign. But her trip also means overtime for police departments and traffic delays for drivers. In Burlington, police are warning drivers to avoid Main Street between five and six because of potential traffic problems. Police say there will also be delays around the ECHO center. That's where a second fundraiser will take place tonight.

Vermont State Police are currently investigating multiple larceny complaints from unlocked motor vehicles at Kampersville as well as a vandalism that took place at the park. There are six larceny victims and one vandalism victim. The incident took place between the evening of June 28th and June 29th. Unknown individuals vandalized the Kampersville pool by throwing rocks and deck furniture into the pool. Furniture as well as the pool were both damaged. The case is considered active and police are pursuing leads provided. Anyone with information concerning this incident is asked to contact Vermont State Police in New Haven. (802-388-4919)

The Vermont State Police in Williston are investigating a rash of car thefts in the Town of Charlotte that occurred some time between 10PM on June 28th and 6AM on June 29th. Several vehicles on Spear Street and Greenbush Road in Charlotte were rummaged through and had numerous items stolen to include GPS's, IPODS, small electronics, and loose change. Anyone who has any information or who saw anything suspicious or out of the ordinary please contact the Williston State Police Barracks. (802-878-7111) All of the vehicles that were stolen from were unlocked. The Vermont State Police encourage you to keep your vehicles and homes locked to deter criminal activity.

A new report blames problems at the Vermont Police Academy on a lack of leadership. Issues arose at the Pittsford-based academy following the resignation of executive director R.J. Elrich. He stepped down in 2010 shortly after he and training coordinator David McMullen were targeted in an internal investigation. Just days later McMullen committed suicide on the academy grounds. Retired state police director James Baker conducted the investigation. He says the resignation and suicide sent the academy and staff into chaos and turmoil.

A former state Department for Children and Families supervisor who says she has a gambling addiction is being sentenced for her role in a $490,000 embezzlement scheme. 47-year-old Kathy Lantagne, of Charleston, got the state to issue more than 250 checks that she and her sister then cashed, keeping the proceeds. She pleaded guilty in March to mail fraud, theft from a program that receives federal funds and filing a false tax return. She's being sentenced Thursday in federal court in Rutland.

Rutland City police are warning residents on or near Dorr Drive to lock their doors following a series of burglaries that took place in occupied homes this week. Rutland Police Detective Robert Gorruso said police are investigating four burglaries in the area. Three that took place Monday night while the other took place over the weekend. Anyone with information about the burglaries is asked to call Gorruso. (773-1816)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is looking to hire up to ten temporary workers in Vermont as a part of a program designed to target the unemployed and victims of disasters. FEMA officials swore in the first new hire yesterday. The agency will take applicants through the Vermont Department of Labor website.

A new, 4-year Christian college could be opening its doors in Bennington. A New Hampshire-based nonprofit group created to launch a new Christian college is in talks with Bennington's Grace Christian School to use the upper, unused floors of the school.

A panel adjusting Vermont's state Senate districts to reflect changes in population is recommending the elimination of a seat in the Northeast Kingdom. The seven-member Legislative Apportionment Board approved a plan Wednesday that reduces from four to three the number of state Senate seats representing Orleans, Essex and Caledonia counties. But the decision isn't final. The plan now goes to the Legislature, which has the authority to amend it, approve it or reject it.

A judge says a Democratic advocacy group violated Vermont campaign finance laws by spending over $500,000 on attack ads without registering with the secretary of state, filing required disclosure reports or properly included identification information on its ads. In a ruling Tuesday, Washington Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford found for the state, which filed a civil complaint over Green Mountain Future's spending in last year's gubernatorial race between Democrat Peter Shumlin and Republican Brian Dubie, which Shumlin won.

Officials say 775 acres of Taconic Mountain forestland will be protected near the town of Arlington in southern Vermont. The U.S. Forest Service and The Conservation Fund announced that the Spruce Peak tract will be incorporated into the Green Mountain National Forest. They say the popular area for hunting, hiking, fishing and wildlife viewing contains some of the highest quality northern hardwood forests in Vermont ranging in elevation from 1,300 feet to Spruce Peak at more than 3,000 feet.

Rep. Peter Welch and a Representative from Utah introduced the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance or GPS Act to the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill says that companies, individuals, and police cannot track your GPS without your consent or a judge appointed search warrant. Welch said the bill is necessary because current privacy laws do not include clear language about GPS devices, which are now common in most modern cell phones. There are some exceptions to the GPS Act where a search warrant is not required. They include allowing parents to track their own children and some emergency situations.

Pfizer has exercised its option to re-acquire the Rouses Point facility from Akrimax and plans on remaining for another two years. The change will mean, however, that about 60 of 400 workers will lose their jobs in the next few weeks, as Akrimax is leaving. Akrimax purchased the facility in January of 2008 from Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. Pfizer then bought Wyeth in October 2009.

Dairy farmers who sell handcrafted cheese at New York farmer's markets say the state is taking the art and the ease out of artisanal cheese. Under a new interpretation of food-processing regulations by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, vendors at open-air stands must sell only pre-wrapped cheese, rather than cutting off a wedge from a wheel of Cheddar or Gouda.

A new poll shows Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo with high approval ratings among New York voters, including members of the Republican Party and Catholics whose church leaders opposed his successful push last week to legalize gay marriage. The poll shows the overall approval rating for the way Cuomo is handling the job at 64 percent, far higher than ratings for any of six other governors in recent surveys.

Beware of bears and leave them alone! That's the message from the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. The department has seen a spike in the number of nuisance bear reports, including an attack on woman in Cabot who had been feeding a bear. That's prompted a new state website for everything bears and to report when one becomes a backyard problem. Officials say the bear population is up and bears are moving out of the mountains and foothills into lowland areas.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

WVTK Local & State News June 29, 2011

Police say a man tried to rob a Rutland drug store by claiming he had a bomb. They say Eric Lind of Rutland, walked into the Rite Aid on West Street at about 11:40AM Tuesday and demanded pharmacy workers give him narcotics. Police tried to talk Lind into surrendering but he refused, so they Tased him. He was taken to the hospital because investigators say it appeared he had taken narcotics. Police say staff and customers got out safely.

Congressman Chris Gibson and will hold a town-hall meeting in Schroon Lake Central School auditorium from 2 – 4 this afternoon. Following some remarks, the congressman will field questions on federal issues. State Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward and Town Supervisor Cathy Moses will also take part.

A major plan is moving forward to bring jobs and fill a hole left in Hinesburg, Vermont. Nearly three-years ago a fire heavily damaged a factory and erased around eighty jobs. The old Saputo Cheese plant will soon be brought back to life, this time as a smokehouse. Gov. Peter Shumlin presented grants to several towns but saved the biggest, more than a half-million dollars, for Hinesburg. The town will loan the money to Vermont Smoke and Cure. They hope to start production early next year.

Following a meeting with the president of Green Mountain Power Corp., some Rutland County lawmakers remained skeptical of a possible sale of Central Vermont Public Service Corp. to GMP’s parent company. Of concern by some was the long-term potential loss of Rutland jobs if Gaz Metro’s offer is accepted by CVPS. GMP has said repeatedly since the offer was made last week that the only layoffs would be executive management jobs at CVPS. Any job losses in the future at both companies would occur through normal attrition, including expected retirements over the next six years.

The Patriot Flag flew in Rutland yesterday to honor the loved ones lost on September 11, 2001. The 75-pound, 30 by 55 and a half foot Patriot Flag is touring the country. It will stop in every state before flying at the Pentagon, Shanksville, PA and at ground zero at the 10th anniversary this year. It was in Rutland to honor those lost in 2001 but was inspired by a man born in West Rutland. It will be in Essex Junction this afternoon at 5.

The Burlington City Council passed a big budget on Monday night. The $54.5 million spending plan is a 2 percent increase from last year. Several departments will see cuts as the city tries to shore up a $760,000 deficit.

For a state panel adjusting Vermont's state Senate districts, it's back to the drawing board. The seven-member Legislative Appointment Board voted last week to recommend a plan to lawmakers that would reconfigure northwestern Vermont. But they realized later that their plan to rework the Chittenden, Grand Isle and Franklin districts contained an error, yielding 31 senators, instead of 30. The board meets at Noon Today at the Secretary of State's office in Montpelier.

Vermont Congressman Peter Welch plans to announce legislation that he says will catch the law up with technology now that new mobile devises make it easier to use GPS technology to track individuals. The Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act sponsored by Welch and a Utah Representative is aimed at giving clear guidelines for when and how geolocation information can be used.

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources wants to give the developers of a wind-power installation on a Lowell ridgeline more time to protect wildlife habitat while construction gets going. Green Mountain Power wants to begin construction in August on a plan to install 21 turbines as part of what is called the Kingdom Community Wind Project.

Voters in Burlington have said yes to a measure allowing smart-grid electricity, thanks to funding from a federal grant. A smarter grid detects and reports power use, fluctuations and problem circuits in "real time." Burlington Electric Department officials say stabilizing rates at a time of rising energy costs is the primary goal for everyone.

The Lake Champlain Transportation Company is set to open its final ferry route for the summer season. The one-hour ferry between Burlington, Vermont, and Port Kent, New York, is going to open on Thursday morning.

Vermont State Police say two people needed treatment after a shooting in the town of Athens, but they're not giving details of what happened. The shooting, which happened early Sunday, led to the arrest of 22-year-old Shaun Frazier, of Athens, who was charged with aggravated assault. The victim of the shooting was 28-year-old Jessica Kittredge, who was treated and released at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. He was cited into Windham Superior Court on August 9th.

After 20 years on the drawing boards, a bike path is finally about to become reality in St. Johnsbury. Construction starts Friday on the Three Rivers Transportation Path, which will run for 1.5 miles along the former Lamoille Valley rail line and proposed Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. Town Manager Ralph Nelson says the $3.5 million project will be mostly complete by year's end.
Voters in the town of Woodbury want to keep their elementary school open.

Residents voted 129-63 on Monday against a measure that would have closed the school and sent kindergarten through sixth-grade students somewhere else. Like other small schools, Woodbury's enrollment has dropped in recent years. This fall, 34 students are expected to be enrolled, down from 40 this school year.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will consider protecting two species of bats that have been threatened by "white nose syndrome." The Wildlife Service says it will consider adding the eastern small-footed and northern long-eared bats to its list of endangered species. The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to have the two species of bats placed under federal protection.

The town of Killington just got a fresh new look. The ski resort town unveiled a new “brand” marketing campaign yesterday, which was the culmination of a partnership between the municipality and the privately owned resort. New banners, logos, brochures and stationary used by the town will include a similar image to the resort’s own big letter “K,” and will play off the resort’s existing color schemes for summer and winter marketing.

The state teachers union has sued New York's Board of Regents and the education commissioner to stop a new teacher evaluation system that relies more on student performance in standardized tests. State Supreme Court Justice Richard Platkin has ordered the board and Commissioner John King to show why the disputed regulations shouldn't be suspended pending a ruling on whether they violate state law.

Environmental groups are pleased that two of their so-called "Super Bills" passed the Legislature before the session ended over the weekend, but they're disappointed the other three measures on their top priority list failed. One of those bills protects the state's water from wasteful withdrawals. The other, called "Complete Streets," incorporates the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists into future road design. A bill to designate gas-drilling waste as hazardous material didn't make it. Neither did a cap on global warming pollution and a solar industry promotion bill.

Preparations are underway to welcome first lady Michelle Obama to Vermont on Thursday. She's coming to thank National Guard and other military service members and their families for their service to the country. After Mrs. Obama thanks National Guard and other armed service members for their dedication, she'll head to two campaign fundraisers for her husband's re-election. Party organizers said they've sold more than 800 tickets for the first lady's reception at the Sheraton. It's sold out, as is the smaller, higher-priced fundraiser at the ECHO Science Center.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

WVTK Local & State News June 28, 2011

The first meeting of the ad hoc “regional technology team” at the Addison County Regional Planning Commission took place last Wednesday. The meeting brought together representatives from a wide variety of local industries and businesses that deal with technology. With the input from that meeting the organization will be drawing up a regional technology plan that will outline training and connectivity needs for the region.

Addison Central Supervisory Union health coordinator Mary Gill and more than dozen other elementary school teachers, counselors and principals are learning how to help make parents’ jobs a little easier. They spent last week in a training program offered by the Vermont Family Based Approach. It’s a program for creating wellness coaches to promote mental health and wellness in young families. The goal of the training is to enable participants to take central roles as those coaches and create one-on-one bonds with families of preschoolers in the district to help them chart the healthiest path for their children.

The Mary Hogan Elementary School board is looking to fill two positions. Board member Ruth Hardy has stepped down from the board for family reasons. She was in her first three-year term on the seven-member panel. Meanwhile Serena Eddy-Moulton, who’s an eight-year veteran of the board and its former chairwoman, also stepped down recently, citing a need to spend more time with family.

The Addison County State’s Attorney’s Office will soon be looking for a part-time prosecutor to focus on cases involving crimes against women. Addison County Deputy State’s Attorney Teri Ames will be stepping down from her job tomorrow to spend more time with family.

Eating Well Magazine in Charlotte is getting a new owner. Magazine publisher Meredith is buying the privately held magazine. No word on the purchase price. Eating Well says Meredith plans to invest in the brand and expand its circulation from 350-thousand to 500-thousand. The magazine's CEO was also given a new role with Meredith to oversee EatingWell, More, Fitness and Diabetic Living magazines. No job losses are expected at Eating Well's Charlotte offices.

Some residents around Lake Bomoseen hope an ever-growing problem with littering and trash left behind by visitors around the lake is addressed soon. Midweek summer visitors around the Green Dump and on Creek Road recently left behind a large amount of trash. The Green Dump and other recreation areas in Lake Bomoseen are very popular among locals and youth. Residents around Lake Bomoseen and northern Castleton try to go around and pick up little bits of trash that are left, but the amount of trash left last week was too much.

Municipalities and non-profit groups in Essex and Clinton counties will get to take the first steps today toward getting reimbursed for damage from recent severe storms. Representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency will brief potential aid applicants in the Stafford Center for Arts and Technology auditorium at Clinton Community College in Plattsburgh at 9AM and at the Essex County Public Safety Building in Lewis at 2PM. The sessions are open only to municipalities and non-profit organizations in each county that had storm-related damage between April 27th and May 8th.

The Ticonderoga Montcalm Street Partnership's Enterprise Committee is working on a pair of projects to revitalize the downtown area. The third annual StreetFest is being planned and the "Dollars for Downtown – Change for Change" campaign is under way. StreetFest will be held Saturday, July 30th. Montcalm Street will be closed from Lake George Avenue to Champlain Avenue for the event, creating a pedestrian mall in the downtown area, from 10 – 3 that day. The deadline for vendors to register for StreetFest has been extended until this Friday June 30. (Interested vendors should contact Sandie Bolton at 502-5313 or Sue Rathbun at Rathbun Jewelers on Montcalm Street at 585–2244.)

Rutland Sen. Kevin Mullin has sent a letter to his fellow Rutland County lawmakers lamenting the proposed sale of Central Vermont Public Service Corp. to one of two Canadian companies vying for control of Vermont's largest electric utility. In the same email, he was highly critical of the Shumlin administration for what he called its bias toward last week's $702 million counter offer by Gaz Metro and its subsidiary Green Mountain Power Corp. to buy CVPS.

If a merger of the state’s two largest electric utilities takes place, one of downtown Rutland’s existing buildings could become the new company’s regional headquarters. The Gaz Metro offer includes a commitment to relocate the CVPS headquarters from Grove Street to the downtown. The new office would become the Colchester Company’s southern Vermont headquarters. The CVPS board of directors of has authorized discussions with Gaz Metro over its unsolicited acquisition proposal.

The mandatory boil water order affecting the village of Castleton was lifted yesterday morning. The boil water order was issued in Castleton on June 20 after coliform bacteria was found in the water system. Various tests to the water system determined that the problem was located in the pipes along South Street. The boil water order was lifted after tests on the quality of the water came back clean for three consecutive days.

The Rutland City Democratic Committee will hold a talk on home heating alternatives at 7PM Wednesday in the Fox Room of the Rutland Free Library. The talk, which is free and open to the public, will feature Vermont Commissioner of Public Service Elizabeth Miller and James Moore, director of sustainable energy for the Vermont Public Interest Research Group.

We may get some relief at the gas pumps this Independence Day weekend. The national average for a gallon of regular is down to $3.59. The average in Vermont is $3.74 - 5 cents lower than a week ago. And New York's prices are highest at $3.86, but still 3 cents less than a week ago.

It's about to get more expensive to buy cigarettes in Vermont. Starting Friday, the tax on a pack of cigarettes sold in Vermont will increase 38 cents, to $2.62 a pack. The Burlington Free Press reports the increased cigarette tax is expected to produce $4.63 million in new revenue the first year.

Senator Bernie Sanders says he's blocking Senate confirmation of a Nuclear Regulatory Commission nominee because the agency asked the Department of Justice to intervene in a lawsuit between the state of Vermont and the owner of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, which the state wants closed. Sanders says he's placed a hold on the nomination of NRC nominee William Ostendorff.

More Vermont towns are giving disabled military veterans breaks on their property taxes. About 200 Vermont communities allow disabled vets to deduct $40,000 from the assessed value of their homes to reduce their property taxes.
A bill in Congress would expand the impact of a Vermont outreach program for veterans returning home from deployments to Afghanistan and elsewhere. Congressman Peter Welch says the bill, if approved, would expand the program's reach to all 50 states.

With New York gearing up for same-sex weddings, Minnesota could be next. Gay-marriage supporters there will be trying to end a 31-state losing streak at the polls and defeat a proposed amendment on the 2012 ballot that would limit marriage to one-man, one-woman unions.

After an extraordinarily busy spring, the Vermont & New Hampshire Valley chapter of the American Red Cross is appealing for more volunteer help. Red Cross officials said that 96% of their work force is made up of volunteers, many of whom have pitched in as Vermont coped with record spring rain and flooding around Lake Champlain and Vermont rivers. Anyone who is interesting in volunteering should contact the Vermont & the New Hampshire Valley American Red Cross. (Angela Russell at (800) 660-9130, ext. 107.)

Vermont is again being featured on a list for having high taxes. Kiplinger's ranks Vermont as the most tax unfriendly state for retirees. Vermont's top billing is due to several factors including that the state has an income tax, a sales tax, an estate tax and relatively high taxes for rooms and meals. Vermont also has one of the highest property tax rates in the country. And of particular concern for retirees, Vermont grants no exemptions for retirement income and taxes out-of-state pensions fully.

The Vermont National Guard wants a few good men, women and children to help welcome the First Lady. Military families from all over the state are being invited to attend a visit Thursday by Michelle Obama to the Guard's Aviation Support Facility in South Burlington. Those who turn out are being urged to park at the intersection of Poor Farm Road and the Vermont Air Guard's East Gate, where they will board busses to the Aviation Support Facility beginning at 11:45AM Photo ID will be required.

Monday, June 27, 2011

WVTK Local & State News June 27, 2011

Sen. Bernie Sanders will announce this morning funding he secured for the construction of 25 new rental homes for seniors. HUD Regional Director Barbara Fields will join Sanders, representatives of Housing Vermont, the Addison Country Community Trust and other funders and members of the community.

Vermont State Police are currently investigating the report of vandalism at the Long Point Fish and Wildlife Fishing Access in Ferrisburgh. Someone placed a Porta-Potty from the site in a Creek, which accesses Lake Champlain. They also tore down a State of Vermont Fishing Access sign. A fresh fire pit was located at the scene as well as fresh ATV marks. Anyone with information concerning the vandalism is asked to contact State Police at the New Haven Barracks. (802-388-4919)

The Vermont State Police are currently investigating a report of a theft involving two unsecured picnic tables. The 6 foot and 10 foot tables were stolen from a yard area off of the Vergennes-Monkton Rd. in the Town of Monkton. The tables are both brand new, for sale, and were stolen from the victim's yard who hand crafts them from his residence. Anyone with information is asked to contact State Police at the New Haven Barracks. (802-388-4919)

Vermont communities in counties that were declared a disaster from spring flooding will get some help applying for federal aid. The first two meetings are scheduled this week. A briefing will be held Wednesday at 9AM for Addison and Chittenden county towns at the Essex Alliance Church. On the following day, Franklin and Grand Isle county community representatives are invited to a briefing at the La Quinta Inn and Suites in St. Albans.

The Vergennes community will put the spotlight on personal Health with five special screenings held this Wednesday in an effort to increase public awareness. Residents living in and around Vergennes can be screened to reduce their risk of having a stroke or bone fracture. American Legion Post 14 will host the special Life Line Screening on Wednesday. For more information regarding the screenings or to schedule an appointment visit the screening website at (Or call 877-237-1287)

Another benefit available to flood victims is unemployment assistance. The funds are available to Vermonters left jobless as a result of flooding. The parameters for eligibility address many factors like damage or destruction of a workplace, a personal injury or transportation problems relating to the disaster, or business downturn because of the disaster. The deadline for applying is July 25th. To make a claim call the Vermont Labor Department's Unemployment Claims Assistance Line or visit (1-877-214-3330)

Firefighters in Ferrisburgh burned the Skyview Motel yesterday as part of a practice drill. Burning a structure like that not only gets rid of a building that had sat vacant for years. It provides young firefighters the tools too not only save their lives but yours as well. More than 50 firefighters from 6 different departments took part in the exercise. Firefighters say it takes about 9 hours for a building such as this to finish burning. Fire officials say once they removed the pieces of the motel from the property, a local business plans to expand its operations on that site.

An American flag on a 50-state tour that will end at Ground Zero on September 11th is arriving in Rutland on Tuesday. The 30-foot by 55-foot Patriot Flag is touring the country as a memorial to those who died during the terrorist attacks a decade ago and as a tribute to emergency responders and military personnel who risked their lives during the attacks and served in the wars since 2001. On Tuesday sometime between Noon and 2:30PM, the flag is expected to arrive in the city where it will cover the side of City Hall until 6PM.

The Burlington City Council is expected to pass a budget tonight, just three days ahead of the July deadline. Cuts are expected as the city is facing a $760,000 gap in revenues. Earlier this spring the council shot down a proposal by Mayor Bob Kiss to shore up the deficit with a two-cent property tax increase.

The Vermont American Legion held it's annual conference in Rutland over the weekend. The event started by granting a charter to post 84 which will open in White River Junction. The post will be dedicated to Jeffery Holmes. The 20-year-old died serving in Iraq. The post already has twenty members. Organizers say it will be substance free and will focus on community activities.

The new superintendent of the Rutland Central Supervisory Union in charge of schools in West Rutland, Rutland Town and Proctor is holding summer office hours to become acquainted with the district. Debra Taylor was recently hired as the superintendent to replace outgoing district leader Wendy Savery. She served as superintendent and special education director in the Lamoille North Supervisory Union in Hyde Park and director of instruction and special education in a district in Wisconsin.

A lifetime came to an end as a federal court threw out a class-action lawsuit against the Killington ski resort. Holders of “lifetime” passes at the resort sued its new owners in 2007 after Killington stopped honoring the passes. The lawsuit was dismissed last year by the federal district court and the plaintiffs announced Friday that the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month had upheld the dismissal and that they planned no further appeals.

Out of 18 town supervisors in Essex County, two are not seeking re-election, one isn't sure, and three aren't up yet. The remaining 12 supervisors say they are gearing up for re-election campaigns. Among those not running for re-election is Supervisor Cathy Moses from Schroon Lake, who said recently she's retiring from the job. Those looking at re-election include Bethany Kosmider from Crown Point, Thomas Scozzafava from Moriah, Debra Malaney from Ticonderoga and Daniel Connell of Westport.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin will be giving out federal development money at an appearance in Hinesburg. Shumlin will announce $2.1 million in community development program grants at an awards ceremony tomorrow at the former Saputo Cheese Plant. The grants are funded through the federal Community Development Block Grant Program, which is part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

A bill in Congress would expand the impact of a Vermont outreach program for veterans returning home from deployments to Afghanistan and elsewhere. Congressman Peter Welch will hold a news conference today in Bennington to outline the provisions of the legislation, which he is introducing along with New York Republican Congressman Chris Gibson.

Sentencing is scheduled for August 1st for a Vermont contractor who has pleaded guilty to operating without workers' compensation insurance. Prosecutors say Donald Bevins, of Williston, doing business as Twin City Roofing and Around the Clock Property Maintenance, operated without the insurance and in violation of a state Department of Labor stop work order for several months last year. During the time frame, two of his employees were seriously injured while working.

When documentary filmmaker Art Jones and his five-man crew set out from New York to shoot footage of a blood drive in Rutland he figured it might make a nice four-minute film. The 80-minute documentary he ended up making, "The Blood in This Town", is now getting notice from community leaders and rural development groups who hope to replicate Rutland's self-reliance instead of waiting for Washington or corporate America to deliver them from hard times.

A 20-year-old University of Vermont student has been crowned as the new Miss Vermont, giving her the opportunity to compete for the Miss America title in Las Vegas in 2012. Katie Levasseur of Burlington won the Miss Vermont Scholarship Competition over 10 other contestants Saturday night at the South Burlington High School Performing Arts Center.

The President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site will celebrate the birth of the country and its 30th president on the Fourth of July. The Vermont National Guard will lead a march at noon. Members of the Coolidge family are expected to attend. Afterward, a chicken barbecue will be held at The Wilder House, the site's restaurant.

The founder of Killington ski resort is headed for the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame. Preston Smith, who founded the resort and built it into one of North America's best, is among four people who'll be inducted October 23rd at the Killington Grand, in Killington.

Friday, June 24, 2011

WVTK Local & State News June 24, 2011

Due to drainage rehab work, Weybridge St. will be closed today for a Cross St. culvert replacement and will re-open once the replacement work is completed which is expected to be done by 5 this afternoon.

The Town of Moriah has mini-grant applications available for those hit hard by recent flooding. The applications can be picked up at the Moriah Town Hall but must be returned by Monday, June 27th. Individuals and businesses can use the mini-grants. The funds can be used for food, cleaning supplies, mold eradication, car repairs, appliance repairs or replacements and other flood-related expenses. The grants would generally be for small amounts, under $1,000 and are being provided through United Way and the Civil Service Employees Association.

There was a major announcement yesterday concerning Vermont's two largest utilities. The parent company of Green Mountain Power has offered to buy Central Vermont Public Service for $702 million. If the two utilities combined, the new company would cover two thirds of the state. A month after the Canadian utility, Fortis, offered to buy CVPS, Green Mountain has come forward with its own bid. The offer, presented by GMP's parent company Gaz Metro, is $2 million more than the one Fortis made in May. CVPS has released a statement saying "This offer requires us to convene our board of directors to evaluate the proposal in depth as soon as possible."

Vermont State Police New Haven are currently investigating the report of a vandalism to a wood and steel cross at The Church of The Nazarene in Leicester. Also vandalized in the incident were two lights strands and an extension cord. The estimated value of the damaged property is approximately $120. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Vermont State Police New Haven Barracks. (802-388-4919)

On June 20th Vermont State Police were notified of a Burglary that occurred at the Hinesburg General Store. The suspect is described as a white male, approximately 6' 02" wearing a hooded sweatshirt, gloves and a black backpack. The suspect stole an excess of $7000 dollars in cash, checks and coins along with cigarettes from the store. The State Police in Williston are looking for any leads regarding this incident. Contact Trooper Paul Badger with any information at the Williston State Police Barracks. (802) 878-7111

You may have recently noticed a blue Toyota Prius with the license plate “PLUG IN.” That’s the new plug-in hybrid vehicle that the Addison County Regional Planning Commission is using to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and cut costs. With Department of Energy funding that stems from President Obama’s goal to put 1 million plug-in vehicles on American roads by 2015, the planning commission recently converted a 2008 Prius into a plug-in hybrid vehicle. Officials at the commission also plan to install two charging stations this summer on the east side of their Seminary Street headquarters in Middlebury.

Earlier this week Vergennes aldermen made final a 2011-2012 budget and adopted a municipal tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year that will remain level for the fourth year in a row. The budget features few spending increases other than a modest pay raise for some city employees.

This fall voters here in Middlebury will see the first of two votes on a major fix-up of the fire department’s two firehouses. Last month the Middlebury Volunteer Fire Department unveiled a $5.2 million plan to replace their East Middlebury fire station and expand and renovate their Seymour Street headquarters.

The owners of Naylor and Breen Builders in Brandon recently purchased the administration building of the former Brandon Training School. They are looking to resell it to the Housing Trust of Rutland County. The Housing Trust is looking to construct an affordable housing complex at the old administration building.

Four people arrested in a drug bust at a local hotel pleaded innocent Thursday in court to charges against them. They were arrested during a Vermont Drug Task Force investigation into the sale of crack cocaine in the Rutland area. According to police, two were involved in a series of controlled buys over a period of days in Rutland. The cases are being prosecuted by the Attorney General’s office with the assistance of the Rutland County State’s Attorney’s office.

Attorneys and witnesses wrapped up the first day of a two-day hearing before a federal judge in Vermont over whether the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant can continue to operate while a legal fight plays out over its future. Entergy witnesses told lawyers that if the plant were forced to shut temporarily, it would lose about $20 million a month in revenue and may shut down permanently rather than wait for the legal fight to be resolved.

New York state may get new and improved power plants and homeowners will have an easier way to pay for energy-saving home improvements under the "Power NY Act" passed by the Legislature. The legislation includes a new provision in the state's Green Jobs program allowing homeowners to finance energy upgrades through the savings on their utility bill.

Attorney General William Sorrell says the state of Vermont will get $530,000 under a settlement with drug maker GlaxoSmithkline LLC and SM Pharmco Puerto Rico. Sorrell says that the companies engaged in unfair and deceptive practices when they made and sold certain drugs whose manufacturing process was flawed, resulting in adulterated products. He said that there's no threat to consumers now because the adulterated batches have already been recalled or their expiration dates have past.

Gov. Peter Shumlin says 41 Vermont businesses hurt by spring flooding are seeking help from a new low-interest loan program. Since the program was announced on Monday, loans ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 have been given out to businesses from Barre to St. Albans.

Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell says he's disappointed by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a state law designed to protect patient privacy and reduce health care costs. Sorrell says the challenge now will be to continue to work to protect medical privacy and reduce health care costs without violating the Supreme Court's ruling.

Vermont Congressman Peter Welch and Senator Bernie Sanders are praising the Obama administration's decision to release 30 million barrels of oil from the country's emergency reserve. Welch says that the move will provide much needed short-term relief at the gas pump to Americans who are struggling to make ends meet.

Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel honored several members of the city police department this week and he and City Manager Mel Hawley swore in the newest member of the Vergennes force. Merkel praised all of the department’s officers for their willingness to work any hours and accept any duties he asked of them, and for their ability to create “peaceful resolutions” when faced with difficult situations.

Vergennes Union High School graduate Peter McDurfee was honored by the Vermont Land Trust for his exceptional commitment to land stewardship in agriculture. The award was presented to Peter on June 10 at his home. He is one of ten outstanding students from around the state to be recognized by the land trust. He received a $250 cash award that is not restricted and may be used towards education, equipment or materials.

The PEGTV Scholarship Committee announced that Timothy Engler of Rutland is the 13th recipient of the $1,000 PEGTV Courcelle Scholarship. He is a senior at Rutland High School and a member of the Stafford Technical Center Video/Media Technology Program. He has been accepted at Valley Forge Christian College and plans to major in digital media production.

Crown Point may seek federal designation as a historic district in order to make repairs to the Knapp Senior Center. The building, located at the edge of Veterans Park, is in disrepair and needs substantial work. If the area surrounding the park becomes a historic district, it becomes eligible for grant funding. At this point the town has applied for a grant to hire Adirondack Architectural Heritage to prepare a "national register" nomination for the district.

United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 15-13 Crown Point recently conducted a boating safely class at the Ticonderoga Middle School. Commander Eugene Frost said that 14 seventh and eighth grade students completed the eight-hour course. This is a federally approved course recognized in all 50 states as a course that meets, and in many cases exceeds any given states boating safety course requirements.

The Middlebury Lions Club held its annual awards night banquet Monday and honored four club members and one community member with one of its highest tributes. They presented its Lion of the Year award to member Cleon Bigelow. In a celebration of another year of service to the local and worldwide community, Tom Broughton presented the prestigious Melvin Jones Fellowships to Lions Cathy Anderson, Dave Nourse, Donald “Doc” Hunt and Cory Newton, as well as to Mark Perrin, owner of Green Peppers Restaurant.

The Moriah Central School women's choir is going to Disney World. The choir has been selected to perform at Disney in Orlando next year as part of the Disney Performing Arts Program. The performance at Disney will require a lot of rehearsals and money. The Moriah choir must raise about $28,000 to cover the costs of the trip. Fund raising for the trip will begin this Sunday, June 26th, with a bottle drive. Other fund raising events are being planned. The choir will also accept donations.

What started out as a reunion to celebrate the classes of the 1970s has turned into an all-classes event in Westport. The Westport Central School Class Reunion for graduates from any year will take place on Friday, July 22nd and Saturday, July 23rd. Events will include a beach mixer at Lee Park on Friday the 22nd starting at 6PM. The main reunion will be held on Saturday the 23rd with a buffet dinner and live music at the Westport Country Club, starting at 6PM. For more info you can visit Westport 70’s Reunion Dot Com.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

WVTK Local & State News June 23, 2011

Due to drainage rehab work, on Friday (6/24/11) Weybridge St. will be closed for a Cross St. culvert replacement at 7:30AM and will re-open once the replacement work is completed which is expected to be done by 5PM Friday.

The Essex County Highway Department is paving Center Road in Moriah this week. Road crews throughout that project are controlling traffic.

The Vermont National Guard has a new general. Brian Carpenter of Middlebury was promoted to brigadier general during a ceremony Wednesday at National Guard headquarters in Colchester. Carpenter is the Army Guard's assistant adjutant general. In his civilian job, he is the vice president of Champlain Valley Equipment of Middlebury.

Taxpayers got another chance to approve school budgets for Ticonderoga and Schroon Lake central schools Tuesday. The Ti spending plan of $18.9 million passed with a vote of 545 to 542. Meanwhile Schroon Lake Central voters approved the $7.4 million budget at the polls Tuesday, 188 to 131.

An official with Eastview at Middlebury said yesterday that construction of the 99-unit facility is expected to proceed on schedule despite a South Carolina steel company’s refusal to provide material needed to build the biggest component of the complex. Work began last year on the project, which is expected to create 45 full-time equivalent jobs when developers expect it to be finished in May 2012. Connie Leach, director of marketing for Eastview, said the timeline for completion is expected to remain unchanged by a lawsuit filed last week by the project’s contractor.

Friday Night Live in Rutland will start its fifth season. The event skips July 1st and then runs every Friday from July 8th to August 12th. 15 restaurants and food vendors were signed up to participate with locations on Center, State, Wales and Evelyn streets as well as Merchants Row. You can stay up to date on Friday Night Live developments by friending the downtown partnership on Facebook or following it on Twitter.

The Market Fair of Rutland Town is scheduled to debut Friday in a space next to the Home Depot parking lot. Organizers are calling it a soft opening with a grand opening on July 1st. It will run from 3 to 8PM. The fair features a farmers’ market, music, children’s activities and various forms of new age healing.

Montpelier's Hunger Mountain Co-op has issued a voluntary recall. The recall is for its Pete's Greens mesclun mix both pre-bagged and loose. This comes after a customer reportedly found small pieces of hard plastic in the greens, which he bought loose. Pete's Greens says the plastic doesn't match anything in their production area. Anyone who purchased the mesclun mix between June 15 and the morning of June 21 can return it to the store for a full refund.

Vermont authorities say underground fuel tanks are being removed in an investigation into a "sizeable" gas leak in Essex Junction. The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation says businesses adjacent to the Champlain Farms Gulf station had complained in late May and early June about gas fumes coming out of area storm drains.

The Vermont Supreme Court is considering how free police should be to rummage through computers they seize with a search warrant. At a high court hearing yesterday, arguments centered on how constitutional limits on searches and seizures apply in the digital age.

A Vermont woman is suing a South Burlington police officer and others after being subjected to what she feels were illegal searches for drugs that violated her civil rights. Elizabeth Ivy says South Burlington Corporal Jack O'Connor did not have a warrant or probable cause to enter her apartment in September or to conduct a traffic stop February 18th.

Vermont police say three teenagers died when the car they were riding in hit a tree in Bennington and burst into flames. Bennington police say Aaron Sprague, of North Bennington, and Arthur Eriksen, of Bennington, both 17, were killed in the crash along with a 15-year-old male whose name was not released.

We could soon see the end to panhandling at the intersection of 1-89 and Route 7 in South Burlington. Police say it's a distraction for drivers and dangerous. South Burlington Police Corporal Tonya Lawyer says the problem is that it's illegal and dangerous. Police say one man already suffered several broken ribs after being hit by a motorcycle that crashed into the homeless camp just off the highway. On Wednesday, panhandlers were given warning to leave the area. Police say if they return, they can be ticketed. Lawyer also wants drivers to stop handing out money.

The owners of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant will ask a federal judge to block the state's efforts to close the Vernon reactor when its current license expires in March. The U.S. District Court in Brattleboro begins two days of hearings today on whether they should issue a preliminary injunction to block Vermont from closing the plant while the underlying legal battle plays out. The state's lawyers say they doubt Entergy will prevail in the underlying case.

A number of Vermont residents called for the closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant during a public meeting with federal regulators on the plant's safety. Six Nuclear Regulatory Commission members took questions and comments last night in Brattleboro from over 150 local residents. Some of the residents support Vermont Yankee but most are opposed to its 20-year relicensing which the NRC recently approved.

Students at Brattleboro Union high and Middle Schools will get to sleep a little later on school days. Starting in the fall, classes will begin at 8:45 instead of the current 7:45 start. School officials say the change recognizes the "adolescent biological clock." There are studies that show better test scores and fewer attendance and behavior problems at schools that switched to a later start time. The late start has been instituted in other parts of Vermont as well, including South Burlington and Champlain Valley Union District.

Town officials in Dummerston say they want a more definitive site plan before signing off on a developer's push to revive the Maple Valley Ski Area, which closed in 2001. After discussion earlier this week the Dummerston Development Review Board asked the property owner to return next month in his bid for a conditional use permit to open the ski resort as a four-season recreation area.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the union representing state workers in New York's executive branch say they've reached a contract agreement that protects the union's members from administration plans for cost-saving layoffs. The Civil Service Employees Association and Cuomo announced the five-year labor deal on Wednesday. The deal is subject to approval by rank-and-file members.

Cumberland Bay State Park will not open this year. Dozens of campers are typically stationed there this time of year. But parts of the park are still underwater following the spring floods. State officials say there is much more cleanup to do and they have safety concerns, especially the potential for falling trees due to the soggy ground.

The American Red Cross is hosting a tour of its new site in Colchester where it's moved to help people around Lake Champlain clean up from record flooding. For the last three weeks, the operational headquarters of the Vermont and New Hampshire Valley American Red Cross has been in Barre.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

WVTK Local & State News June 22, 2011

Due to drainage rehab work, on Friday (6/24/11) Weybridge St. will be closed for a Cross St. culvert replacement at 7:30AM and will re-open once the replacement work is completed which is expected to be done by 5PM Friday.

The Essex County Highway Department is paving Center Road in Moriah this week. Road crews throughout that project are controlling traffic.

Vermont State Police responded to a three-vehicle crash that occurred on Route 7, south of Round Barn Road in Ferrisburgh yesterday afternoon. The investigation indicates all three operators were traveling south at the time of the crash. One driver was transported by Vergennes Area Rescue Squad to Fletcher Allen where she was treated and later released for soreness to her neck and left shoulder. The Ferrisburgh Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene. The investigation is on going at this time.

Vermont State Police are currently investigating a burglary that occurred on Bristol Cliffs Road in Bristol. Someone entered a private residence and stole a lap top computer, change, and back up hard drive for the laptop. Estimated value for the property is approximately $2,200. Anyone with information is asked to contact Vermont State Police in New Haven (1-802-388-4919).

The dropping water level on Lake Champlain is enabling construction crews to resume work on the archway of the new Lake Champlain Bridge. The archway is being built at a marina in Port Henry. Work stalled last month because of the record flooding on the lake. The archway will be floated to the bridge site later this year. Flooding did cause some delays in the construction of the approach spans on the Crown Point and West Addison approaches to the bridge.

The principal of Castleton Elementary School said last week that the school followed its own harassment and bullying policy to protect students and notify parents of possible sexual misconduct among students. On June 13th, police and school administrators confirmed that possible sexual misconduct occurred on school grounds involving a student and other schoolchildren. A criminal investigation is ongoing.

The Rutland Board of Aldermen approved the water and sewer budgets along with near level-funded rates Monday. Rates remain flat except for the sewer collection rate, which went up 2.64 percent. Roughly $60,000 in savings over the previous year was applied to a capital replacement plan.

Vermont Achievement Center has offered the city of Rutland recreation space. The organization sent a letter to the city last week offering “a large volume of vacant or underutilized space” to the recreation department for a fee. The Dana Center closed earlier this month and the Recreation Department has temporarily moved into the Godnick Adult Center and dispersed programs among a handful of facilities.

New York State police say a body found by a fisherman in Lake Champlain has been confirmed as that of a woman who went missing from a family camp last fall, and the death has been ruled a suicide by drowning. Police say dental records confirmed the body was 56-year-old Francine Marcel, who was reported missing after she went to close the camp for the winter in November and didn't return home to Morrisonville.

There are new concerns that the proposed sale of Central Vermont Public Service could put control of Vermont's entire power grid in Canadian hands. A Canadian company already owns the state’s second largest utility Green Mountain Power. CVPS and GMP are the main owners of VELCO, the state's transmission grid. Senator Vince Illuzzi is concerned that if the CVPS deal is approved the Canadian companies may use the VELCO transmission grid to move electricity to southern New England where there is a greater demand and set rates not in the interest of Vermonters.

If you ate at the McDonald's on the Barre Montpelier road in Barre, Vermont, Thursday June 16th or attended the East Barre Fire Department barbeque Sunday June 19th, you may have been exposed to measles. The Vermont State Health Department believes a young child from Washington County has the illness, which health officials say is highly contagious. If you think you were exposed to measles at either the McDonalds in Barre, or the East Barre Fire Department barbeque, contact the Vermont Health Department at (802) 863-7240.

Convicted embezzler Don Hewitt pocketed about $400,00 from the town of Ira over 10 years while he was in charge of the books. He shared his story about how he did it with community and business leaders meeting in Montpelier. They came together to tackle a statewide embezzlement problem. Vermont Auditor Tom Salmon says in the last 5 years millions of dollars have been embezzled across Vermont. He's pushing simple checks and balances to stop criminals in their tracks.

Vermont State Police say they've cited a man who fired a shot during a confrontation with two Central Vermont Public Service Corp. linemen working on a power pole near his home. 67-year-old William R. Bump, of Halifax, was charged with disorderly conduct in Thursday's incident, which started when he approached the linemen as they worked in a field south of his property.

Senator Bernie Sanders says The Associated Press raised disturbing allegations about the safety of aging U.S. nuclear power plants and wants his state's Vermont Yankee facility shut down. Sanders says the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and plant operator Entergy have ignored the will of Vermonters.

Officials from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be in Brattleboro for a public hearing on the agency's annual review of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. The NRC gave the Vernon reactors good marks in a review issued in March, and now is inviting public comment at a session set for tonight at Brattleboro Union High School.

A veteran critic of the nuclear industry is urging opponents of Vermont Yankee to practice in a civil manner when federal regulators brief the public this week. The anti-nuclear activist also wants the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to be more open about the potential problems facing Vermont's only nuclear power plant.

The Burlington City Council has postponed a vote on a new budget. Council members said they still have questions surrounding the airport and the parks and rec department. There are also questions as to whether flood damage will factor into revenues and spending. A vote on the city's spending plan will now be held next week.

Vermont State Police say they're looking for a missing angel. Police say the marble angel was stolen from the Poultney Cemetery sometime between Memorial Day 2010 and Memorial Day last month. The angel is valued at $3,000.

It appears as though the head of Vermont's largest hospital may be heading out west. In a letter sent to Fletcher Allen employees, Roger Stone, the chairman of the board of trustees, said that Dr. Melinda Estes is "is in discussions with a hospital system in the Midwest regarding the possibility of becoming their next CEO". Stone did not elaborate where in the Midwest she was interviewing. She has been the CEO of Fletcher Allen for 8 years.

The Burlington Parks Department approved a proposal by the Vermont National Guard Charitable Foundation to host an air-show on the Burlington Waterfront in 2013. The organizers say it will honor Vermont veterans who recently fought in Afghanistan. They are trying to secure a national team, such as the Blue Angels or Thunderbirds, to headline the event.

"Green Fire," a documentary about legendary conservationist Aldo Leopold, will have a showing in Vermont. The free screening is set for 7:30PM Friday at the University of Vermont's Davis Center, in Burlington.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

WVTK Local & State News June 21, 2011

Drainage rehab begins today on Weybridge St. here in Middlebury. On Friday (6/24/11) Weybridge St. will be closed for a Cross St. culvert replacement at 7:30AM and will re-open once the replacement work is completed which is expected to be done by 5PM Thursday. The contractor will try and maintain access on a limited basis for emergency vehicles only.

The Vermont Apportionment Board has drafted a controversial new map that re-draws several Addison County House districts and even splits the town of Monkton. The new map must be endorsed by the Legislature before it becomes law. Locally, the Addison-1 Middlebury district would remain the same. Addison-2 would lose Hancock, and be left with the existing five other towns. Hancock would be placed into a district with Granville, Bethel and Rochester. Addison-3 would cease, as a two-seat district with its five towns dispersed into parts of three other districts. Addison-4 would cease to be a two-seat district. Addison-5 would also change. Addison-Rutland-1 would lose Benson and gain Bridport. The Rutland-7 district comprised only of Brandon would expand to also include Sudbury and Pittsford.

Rutland City police seized cocaine, marijuana and thousands in cash during a search of a West Street home where three men were arrested early Saturday morning. Two Brooklyn, NY men and an unnamed Rutland man wanted on multiple warrants were arrested during the raid on West St., which Officer Ted Washburn said began with multiple tips about drugs in the home.

A mandatory boil water order was issued in Castleton yesterday as a response to the discovery of chloroform in the town water late last week. The chairman of the fire district believes the problem is located in the water pipes along South Street. The fire district does not know when the state will allow them to lift the order, as several tests need to be conducted to determine the exact extent of the problem.

Some Middlebury College students are tackling a big project. A 1,000 square foot farmhouse is currently the work of 85 students serving as the project's builders, architects, and engineers. When it's done 30 solar panels will provide power to the 2-bedroom home built for a family of four. The project is part of a contest sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Twenty college teams are competing to design and build energy-efficient houses powered by the sun. Win or lose the home will become a permanent fixture on campus when a group of students move in next spring.

The Middlebury Area Community Garden has finally found a new home at Porter Medical Center. One of the main goals of the garden is to offer the space and resources to those in the community who don’t have the opportunity to garden. The garden has also begun to receive referrals from the state’s WIC program. Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects (HOPE) has agreed to serve as the umbrella organization for the garden, allowing it to receive and administer grants with the nonprofit status. For more info just visit

The New Haven Maplefields gas station and convenience store on Route 7 North will be closed for approximately one month. After what station manager Sherry Cram referred to as “years of abuse,” the station is shutting down to remove contaminated soil and possibly reduce toxins already found in the bedrock.

It's still OK to use a metal detector in Ticonderoga, as long as you don't dig up what you find. Following a recent public hearing on a local law that would have banned metal detectors on town property, the Ticonderoga Town Council decided to drop the issue.

Authorities hope they can soon confirm the identity of a body pulled out of Lake Champlain Monday near the drawbridge in North Hero. Francine Marcel of Morrisonville, New York disappeared after her canoe capsized last November. Based on the clothing found on the body and physical description, police at this point feel confident the body is indeed Marcel.

State Police say five dogs and nearly two dozen chickens were killed in what they believe was a suspicious fire in Stockbridge. Authorities say the owners discovered their outdoor kennel had burned down Saturday while they were away for the day.

Police continue to investigate the suspicious disappearance of an Essex couple but are releasing very few details about the ongoing case, including whether Lorraine Currier may have been a victim of stalking. The Curriers went missing from their Colbert Street home June 8th. Police are still considering this a missing persons case even though they've declared the home a crime scene. They've seized personal records looking for clues and say the couple's handgun is missing from the home's inventory.

The Shumlin administration launched its Comprehensive Energy Plan website ( yesterday that the administration said will serve as a one-stop source of information related to the state’s energy plan. Currently under development, the plan is scheduled for completion by October 15th. The website allows the public to follow developments and share ideas through an online comment form.

The supply of type O negative blood at the American Red Cross has dropped to critically low levels. Type O negative blood is always in high demand because it can be transfused to patients with any blood type, especially in emergency situations. Type O negative donors are needed now to help prevent the type O negative blood supply from declining further. Eligible blood donors are asked to please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit to find a blood drive and to make an appointment.

Gov. Peter Shumlin and the State's congressional delegation announced yesterday that public assistance for Washington County roads and infrastructure damaged in April and early May has been approved. That clears the way for the Federal Emergency Management Agency aid to provide 75% of the cost of repairs. Last week, the White House approved aid for Addison, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, and Orleans.

U.S. Sen. Chris Coons says Delaware can be a model for other states looking to improve communication and collaboration among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Coons hosted a field hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Wilmington yesterday to examine information sharing among law enforcement agencies. Coons and committee chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont heard from a panel of state and federal law enforcement officials, who agreed that communicating and sharing information is key to effective police work.

A special nominating committee is now taking applications for positions on the five-member board that is to oversee implementation of Vermont's new health care law. The panel expects to forward recommendations to Gov. Peter Shumlin in time for him to appoint the board chair and four side members by October 1st. The new health care law calls for the board to move the state through several stages of health care system change leading to a publicly financed, universal health benefits program called Green Mountain Care. A position description and applicant questionnaire are available at the web site of the Vermont Department of Human Resources.

A State Police lieutenant is going to be the new head of the Governor's Highway Safety Program. Lieutenant John Flannigan is currently the leader of the state police's traffic safety unit. Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn announced Flannigan’s appointment yesterday.

Here in Vermont it appears we are continuing to get a little bit of relief when at the gas pump. The price monitoring website says the statewide average for regular gasoline is $3.79 a gallon, down from $3.85 a week ago. A month ago gas cost $3.92.

A professor of environmental law at Vermont Law School says he's OK with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of utilities in a climate change suit brought by a group of states including Vermont. The suit was originally filed to get the Environmental Protection Agency to step up efforts to regulate utilities that emit large amounts of carbon dioxide from power plants. Assistant Attorney General Scot Kline says he hopes the EPA will get tougher on polluters.

Vermont Law School is hosting a conference aimed at helping developers turn brownfields into green ones. "Brown to Green 2011," a daylong event being held Thursday at the South Royalton school, will feature law school professors, government lawyers and representatives of federal, state and regional agencies that deal with brownfields, which are contaminated industrial or commercial sites in need of cleanup. Vermont Secretary of Natural Resources Deb Markowitz will deliver the keynote address, and participants will get instruction on regulatory affairs, risk management and environmental mitigation.

Borders says it will close its downtown Burlington store on Church Street. The company would not say when the store will shut its doors or what would happen to the 31 employees. Borders is currently in bankruptcy and closing hundreds of stores nationwide. Borders says its store in South Burlington at the University Mall will remain open.

A summer attraction for cyclists will not open this year. Local motion says the bike ferry which links Colchester to South Hero will not run. Floodwater damaged much for the causeway and it will not be repaired in time. If you would like to help with the repairs, there are several fundraisers coning up. For more information visit

Monday, June 20, 2011

WVTK Local & State News June 20, 2011

Family members of a Vermont couple who disappeared more than a week ago made an emotional plea Friday to the public for help, offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information about Bill and Lorraine Currier, who were reported missing June 9th. Police are still searching for a gun the couple bought recently. There’s been no activity on their bank accounts, and investigators are poring over bank, phone, employment and computer records looking for clues.

Farmers washed out by recent flooding can get some free money to clean up. The grants won't cover damage or crop losses, but they will cover the cost of removing debris and getting fields back in shape for the season. The conservation grants will cover 75 percent of field clean up. And Vermont's Agriculture Secretary says every county in the state has seen farm damage. The Farm Service Agency is administering the grants.

Teachers working in 11 school districts that make up the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union will get a base salary increase of 1.6 percent for this past school year and around 2 percent each year for the next two. The district finalized its three-year contract with the Rutland Northeast Education Association and Otter Valley Teachers’ Association Thursday, following two years of negotiations.

An altered Schroon Lake Central School budget will get a chance for voter approval tomorrow. The first proposed budget failed, 269 to 190, in May. The amount to be raised by taxes in the revised plan and the defeated budget is the same, $5.86 million, an increase of 2.28 percent. The vote is from Noon to 8PM in the school lobby.

The Moriah Central School Board will meet at 6PM tomorrow in the High School library. Agenda items include a Safe Schools presentation, policy updates and personnel discussions. The meeting is open to the public.

The Diamond Run Mall has paid most of its bills to the city. The mall has long had a delinquent water and sewer account and missed its last two annual impact fee payments. Treasurer Wendy Wilton said the mall was current on its impact fees. It’s also been noted that they even paid the 2011 fee early while they had just paid the majority of their overdue water bill. Some of the impact fees have gone to a revolving loan fund for downtown Rutland businesses, and the fees have been used to fund improvements downtown.

The sidewalks of Brandon were bustling Saturday as the town journeyed back in time, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and celebrating its own 250th birthday. By early afternoon, hundreds of people were out to participate in the day’s events. Civil War culture was showcased as the Champlain Valley Historic Re-enactors gave demonstrations and provided individuals with historical information.

Headquartered in an 18th-century yellow farmhouse off Monkton Road, VBT is among the three largest cycling tour companies in the country. Despite the recession, VBT has continued to grow, finding its niche in offering biking or walking tours in 26 countries at an affordable price. VBT offers cycling tours of Europe, the United States, Costa Rica, New Zealand and Vietnam. VBT’s most popular bike tour is Italy’s Tuscan coast. Learn more at

The Department of Public Service, in collaboration with the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network, the Vermont Natural Resources Council and the Rutland, Addison and Bennington county regional planning commissions held a public forum at Rutland Regional Medical Center last Thursday seeking comments and recommendations on the future of Vermont’s energy. Commissioner of Public Service Elizabeth Miller said Vermonters seem willing to trade off the cost of energy for how the energy will help their communities. She said people have voiced their interest in seeking local solutions to energy while advocating for keeping power and money in Vermont.

For people and businesses along Lake Champlain's shoreline, the receding floodwaters are both blessing and curse. After two months above flood stage, the lake dipped below 100 feet above sea level for the first time since April 13. The water may be gone, but it has left behind a muddy mess, deposits of debris and driftwood everywhere and properties suddenly in need of big-ticket repairs.

The Vermont Economic Development Authority has approved $6.9 million in economic development financing to several businesses throughout the state. This mini taxpayer-funded state stimulus effort has targeted several local businesses, and one college that include Vermont Smoke and Cure of Hinesburg, the College of St. Joseph in Rutland, and Springfield Regional Development Corporation.

A plan to encourage school district mergers in order to streamline governance and reduce costs has run into opposition in the first two attempts, but education officials remain hopeful that the law will succeed with some tweaking. The Vermont Legislature a year ago passed Act 153, a law that gave tax incentives and other funding to school districts if they merged and streamlined their governance systems. Many education officials in Vermont agree that merging districts is a first step toward a more streamlined public education system that could eventually be less expensive and create more opportunities for students.

On Saturday people gathered at the Vermont capitol to rally for what they say should be a natural right, knowing what is in your food. Signs littered the state house lawn and people both in support of and against genetically modified organisms attended. "Labels For Liberty" organized the rally; they hope to make Vermont the first state in the country to require labeling on foods that contain GMO's.

South Burlington Police are investigating a purse-snatching incident that happened Saturday. Police say the victim was loading groceries into her vehicle when a woman stole her purse. It happened in the parking lot of Hannaford Supermarket in South Burlington on Dorset Street. The suspect left the scene in a white or gray colored vehicle. Anyone with any information is asked to call South Burlington Police.

A federal hearing is slated for this week on the government's annual review of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. Regulators gave the reactors in Vernon good marks in a March review. The hearing comes a day before a court hearing on Entergy's lawsuit fighting state efforts to shut down the plant.

Governor Peter Shumlin has taken a look at his first six months in office. Receiving an award, Shumlin talked up the state's groundbreaking move toward a universal health care system. Shumlin also spoke about efforts to take high-speed Internet service statewide.

Amtrak plans to partner with organizers of the annual Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl high school all-star game on August sixth. The rail line is offering special $12 tickets for The Vermonter train to-and from the game.

The 66th annual Miss Vermont pageant is set for June 25. The Miss Vermont Scholarship Organization announced the date Friday. The pageant will be held at the South Burlington Performing Arts Center. Eleven women will compete and judges will choose the one who represents Vermont at the Miss America pageant, which is held in Las Vegas. The winner of Miss Vermont gets $7,250 in scholarship aid and over $12,000 in prizes.

Travelers to and from Vermont's capital city may want to take note of upcoming interstate ramp closures at Interstate 89's Exit 8. Motorists approaching Montpelier from the north or leaving the city and heading south will face ramps closed for paving from 7PM today through 7 tomorrow morning.

The University of Vermont is among the top five priciest public colleges in the country. A recently released U.S. News and World Report list ranks universities based upon in-state tuition costs for the 2010-2011 school year. Penn State University is the most expensive public school in the nation where an in-state student's tuition costs $15,250. Coming in second is Maine Maritime Academy. Tuition at UVM is $14, 132 for an in-state student. The University of New Hampshire also made the list, coming in at #4.

Friday, June 17, 2011

WVTK Local & State News June 17, 2011

A receding Lake Champlain is revealing the real disaster left behind in Vermont. Federal money has been made available to flood victims but the cleanup is already underway. FEMA is encouraging Vermonters to register for assistance. The agency is also preparing to open disaster centers to help walk people through the process. Until those centers open, FEMA offers this advice: Take pictures of any damage in a home or business. If you've already spent money to make repairs, be sure to keep the receipts. Vermonters can qualify for up to $30,000. The number to register for assistance is 1-800-621-FEMA. You can also register online at

A large house in Charlotte caught fire yesterday afternoon. A floor renovator in the house noticed a burning smell and called 911. Multiple crews were called to battle the blaze. Fire officials say the hot weather was forcing them to rotate firefighters more than usual, so the extra manpower was needed. The house owned by Eliza and Robert Browning has been under extensive renovation since March and was only days away from being finished.

Vermont State Police in New Haven received a stolen ATV complaint from Salisbury on June 15th. The ATV is a green 2000 Arctic Cat 300. It had a winch on the front. The ATV was stolen from the victim’s property in Salisbury some time between 6PM on June 14th and 4PM on June 15th. Anyone with information regarding this stolen ATV is encouraged to contact the State Police at the New Haven Barracks. (802) 388-4919.

For the time being Granville and Hancock were granted a reprieve in a search for a new supervisory union. In a March 2010 Town Meeting Day vote, residents of Bethel and Rochester voted to leave the Windsor Northwest Supervisory Union. Since those towns contain the only two high schools in the supervisory union, the resolutions prompted a lengthy study on closing the supervisory union by the state Board of Education.

Citing a steep decline in property sale values over the past two years the town of Leicester has successfully appealed to the state of Vermont in the hopes of getting a more favorable education property tax rate. In what is said to be a rare ruling, last month the state Department of Taxes approved the town’s requested adjustment to its Common Level of Appraisal.

A public forum about the future of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant will be held on Monday (June 20) at 7:30PM at the Middlebury Congregational Church. Sponsored by the Citizens Awareness Network a panel of experts and activists opposed to nuclear power will outline how citizens can get involved with the shutting down and cleaning up of Vermont Yankee. The Citizens Awareness Network is a New England-based nonprofit dedicated to a renewable energy-focused economy.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission members are refusing to say whether they've asked the U.S. Justice Department to intervene on behalf of Entergy in its suit against Vermont over the future of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. Entergy has been pressing for the government to join the company in its claim that Vermont is pre-empted by federal law from trying to shut down the Vernon reactor.

The Addison County Chamber of Commerce announced the opening of Vermont SpineWorks and Rehabilitation, Middlebury's first community-based medical spine center. They diagnoses and treat conditions that affect how you move. Their goal is to relieve pain and improve function without surgery. Vermont SpineWorks and Rehabilitation is located at 99 Court St. here in Middlebury.

This month marks the beginning of the Middlebury Language Schools' summer sessions, known internationally for their intensive immersion approach to the teaching of language and culture. Since 1915, more than 40,000 students from all walks of life have attended one or more of the Language Schools. Corporate executives study side-by-side with writers, journalists, doctors, lawyers, missionaries, government officials and diplomats. The Language Schools also host cultural events that are often open to the public.

The town of Fair Haven will not be acquiring three dams on the Castleton River anytime soon after the Select Board voted to rescind a May 17th board vote. The board decided to forgo purchasing the dams from Vermont Structural Slate until they knew for sure what titles the town would acquire if the purchase were made and what rights they would have for any feasible hydroelectric project.

Killington’s Economic Development and Tourism Department is taking the first visible step in a plan to develop and market the mountain resort town as a destination for healthy recreation. The director of the town department known as the EDT, told the Select Board last week that he’s investing $10,000 into a new, 4.3-mile walking trail loop linking River Road and Thundering Brook to keep the town up to speed with other communities that are drawing more summer tourists.

Robinson Elementary School librarian Ann Watson will retire earlier than she expected this year due to budget cuts. After 30 years working as a librarian in Addison County schools she will leave because her position will be reduced next year from three days a week to two half-days a week. Ann first worked at Mary Hogan Elementary School for four and a half years and then at Robinson for 26 years.

After 31 years of teaching kindergarten and first grade at Bristol Elementary School, Sharon Donahue taught her last class yesterday. Provided with what she considered a sub-par elementary education, Donahue knew from a young age that she wanted to inspire young children as an influential teacher. Meanwhile in New Haven Deb Cross will retire this week after 36 years of teaching and 26 years at Beeman Elementary School. Over her years at the New Haven school officials say she has made a deep impact on the school.

An audit of Town of Essex finances by the State Comptroller's Office says the town needs to strengthen oversight of public officials who disperse funds. The report found two financial irregularities: $22,000 owed to Essex by the Town of Willsboro for transfer station trash-bag stickers; and $367,000 owed to the general fund by the new sewer project. The Essex Town Supervisor said the town has since collected $20,000 of the amount owed for stickers and expects to get the remaining $2,000 soon.

Senator Patrick Leahy is pleased with a vote on Thursday to end ethanol tax subsidies. He says the subsidies are costing taxpayers more than $5 billion a year. The 73-member Senate majority voting to end the subsidies also includes Bernie Sanders, who says the subsidies drive up prices for food by diverting corn for fuel production. The Obama administration opposes the move to end the subsidies, with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack saying the result may be job losses and greater dependence on foreign oil.

Riders of the Amtrak Vermonter service that runs through Vermont and New Hampshire will be riding buses this summer. The Vermont Agency of Transportation says construction work on the New England Central Railroad will mean that buses will serve stations north of Springfield, Mass., on the Vermonter route from June 17th to September 15th.

New vendors are invited to join the Ticonderoga Area Farmers Market, set for 10AM – 1PM on Saturdays starting July 2nd and running through October 1st. The chamber is looking to expand the market to better serve the members of the community and area visitors. Farmers and other vendors who'd like to participate should call or email the Ti Chamber. For more information click HERE.

New York lawmakers have voted to add directors of children's overnight or summer day camps to the list of those required to report suspected child abuse or maltreatment to the state and to local social services officials. Current mandated reporters include police, doctors, social workers, school officials, psychologists, registered nurses, and licensed family therapists.

Bristol’s Main Street will shut down to traffic this Saturday and open up to the third annual Pocock Rocks music festival and street fair. From 10AM – 3PM downtown Bristol will transform into a haven for rocking tunes, craft brews, local wines, chocolate pairings, cheese tastings, specialty foods and crafts of all kinds.

The spirit of New Orleans will hit Vergennes. Grammy award winner Charles Neville will play with piano legend Henry Butler and the band Gent Treadly on Saturday, July 2nd, at the Vergennes Opera House. This lineup of world-class musicians will feature a blend of New Orleans jazz, blues and funk. Local group, Panton Flats, will kick-off the event at 7PM with a blend of rock and R&B classics. For more information just visit

A Vermont high tech company is moving into the Champlain Mill in downtown Winooski, which city officials hope will draw more businesses to their newly redeveloped community. MyWebGrocer has purchased the former woolen mill, which was converted into a retail mall 30 years ago. The company plans to occupy the entire fifth floor by January with more than 100 employees.

One hundred years ago, IBM started out as a clock company. A century later it has become a powerful force in the technology world. IBM is also a major factor in Vermont's economy, serving as the largest private industrial employer. Yesterday the Essex Junction branch celebrated its company's milestone. With so much history now in the past, officials say they can't wait to see what will happen during the next one hundred years.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

WVTK Local & State News June 16, 2011

The Ticonderoga Ferry will be up and running today. Ferry service between Shoreham and Ticonderoga was supposed to begin on May 1, but the record flooding made it impossible for the ferry to launch from the Vermont side. The ferry will start running again today. It's open from 7 AM to 7 PM, making about three trips an hour.

Gov. Peter Shumlin says the White House has approved a disaster declaration that will bring federal aid to homes, businesses and public agencies in flood-ravaged Vermont. The declaration, which covers Addison, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille and Orleans counties, will translate to federal aid for homeowners and renters as well as funding for roads, bridges and infrastructure repair that were damaged between April 23 and June 6. Not included are Washington, Caledonia and Windham counties, which are still under review and may still qualify for the disaster assistance.

Spring flooding has delayed the planting of crops and harvesting of hay in Vermont. It's also damaged farm buildings and fields. Vermont Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross is urging farmers to report the damages or losses to state and federal agencies. He says officials need to hear from farmers to evaluate the damage and determine what kind of help might be available.

Vermont State Police are currently investigating the theft of a 2007 Gray-Yellow MX7 Harley Rake used for landscaping from Pine Oak Park in Waltham. The rake is pulled behind a skid steer. The total estimated value of the property stolen is approximately $8,000.00. Anyone with information concerning the theft is asked to contact the New Haven Barracks. (802-388-4919)

Vermont State Police in New Haven received a stolen ATV complaint from Salisbury on June 15th. The ATV is a green 2000 Arctic Cat 300. It had a winch on the front. The ATV was stolen from the victim’s property in Salisbury some time between 6PM on June 14th and 4PM on June 15th. Anyone with information regarding this stolen ATV is encouraged to contact the State Police at the New Haven Barracks. (802) 388-4919.

Superintendent Mary Moran said the school district has the intention of “buttoning up” the Dana School in Rutland and is not obligated to fix the sprinkler system inside that is estimated to cost at least $80,000. Moran made it clear she hasn’t had an official dialogue with the city or Mayor Christopher Louras about the future of the recently closed building.

Work on the town office building in Castleton will force police in the town to move in with the department in Fair Haven. Castleton’s four full-time officers, Chief Bruce Sherwin and the department’s part-time office administrator will move into the Fair Haven town office where the police department there occupies the back half of the building. Castleton residents won’t see any difference in police services.

Civil War re-enactments, an historic house tour and birthday cake are all part of the 250th anniversary celebration of the town of Brandon on Saturday. The weekend has a few activities surrounded around celebrating the town’s 250th birthday. Starting at 10 AM, the Champlain Valley Historic Re-enactors will be camped out on Brandon’s central park. They will be offering various re-enactments and demonstrations from the Civil War era. Brandon’s birthday celebration will begin at 4:15 PM with a special performance by Gene Childers and the Brandon 250 Singers in front of the Congregational Church. For more information just visit

The Crown Point Town Council has voted to swap its elected Board of Assessors for an appointed professional assessor. The vote at a recent Town Council meeting was 3 to 1 to make the conversion. The next step will be to set a date for a public hearing, which would be followed by a final vote.

A composite sketch is revving up the investigation into the mysterious disappearance of an Essex, VT couple. Police say it's generated several leads from the public. Police wouldn't comment how many people they've questioned, but did confirm that no one's been taken into custody. Right now the man in the sketch is simply a person of interest, not a suspect, but police are holding out hope that somehow this will lead them to Bill and Lorraine Currier.

The valedictorian of a Vermont high school says his speech was censored. Kyle Gearwar told the audience at Fair Haven Union High School's graduation ceremony that he was only able to deliver half the speech he wanted to. Gearwar says he wanted to talk about how God had changed his life but was told he couldn't. Principal Brett Blanchard says students aren't allowed to preach religion at school-sanctioned events.

A girl who just completed her sophomore year at Champlain Valley Union High School in Hinesburg has been appointed to the Vermont Board of Education. Gov. Peter Shumlin announced the appointment of Laura Harris this week. During her first year on the board Harris will serve in a nonvoting capacity. In her second year she was be a full voting member. Harris was one of about 30 students who applied for the seat.

Vermont ski areas logged nearly 4.4 million skier visits this season, a 5 percent increase over last season. The Vermont Ski Areas Association made the announcement Wednesday at its annual meeting held at Sugarbush Resort. Vermont remains the third-largest ski state in the country behind Colorado and California. Vermont and Northeast ski areas capitalized on what the VSAA said was the third snowiest season on record.

Marble Valley Regional Transit District will offer free rides today as part of “National Dump The Pump Day.” Fares for The Bus will be free on all routes, including in-city and out-of-town, and the first 25 passengers on each of the in-city fixed routes and the first 15 on each of the outgoing routes will get free passes for the month of July. National Dump The Pump Day is an event designed to promote public transportation as an alternative to driving. For more information, visit

Beginning July 1, the Chittenden County Transportation Authority will let cities and towns from other counties join as members. CCTA will take over the Green Mountain Transit Agency, which has provided bus service in surrounding counties, with no changes in service. It will also take representatives from Washington, Franklin, Lamoille and Grand Isle counties. GMTA, a nonprofit created by CCTA eight years ago, will keep providing service in those areas. Once the two have merged, the authority will serve 47% of Vermonters.

Republican state senators who are key to the future of gay marriage in New York have taken a break from their closed-door debate on the issue. That will delay a possible vote on a legalization bill, although the Senate could still act today or tomorrow. The Senate Majority Leader said after a three-hour session yesterday that no decisions have been made to even send the bill to the floor.

New rules protecting student athletes will soon take effect in New York. The Senate and Assembly have signed off on the changes, which now go to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature. Starting July 1 schools must immediately bench any athlete who may have a concussion and keep then out of sports and gym classes until they're symptom-free for 24 hours. The student also needs a doctor's note. Each school district must now establish a group responsible for training staff and educating students and parents.

A Vermont organization created a relief fund for Montpelier businesses that were destroyed during spring floods. Montpelier Alive raised $19,000 and is now collecting applications from businesses that feel they need the money to help them recover. 

The organization is taking applications until June 21st.

Vermont is still in the running to be one of the homes of the Air Force's new fighter jet, the F-35. On Wednesday, Vermont contractors heard directly from the jet's manufacturer Lockheed Martin. They learned what they could do to land a contract to build parts for the F-35. Staff from Vermont Composites based in Bennington says landing a more than $1-million contract could allow them to hire dozens of new workers.

Hundreds of cows are safe after a fire destroyed their barn in Alburgh, Vermont. Firefighters received the call around 3:30 Wednesday afternoon. Up to 75 firefighters from across that region, including Canada, raced to the scene. The fire chief says no one was hurt and it appears that all the cows and calves are okay. They were moved to nearby pen. The chief says it's too early to know the cause of the fire.

Sen. Bernie Sanders wants federal regulators to crack down on oil price speculation. He has introduced legislation aimed at forcing federal commodity regulators to halt what he terms excessive oil speculation that has driven up gasoline prices. He says the national average price for a gallon of gasoline today is $3.69 a gallon, although supplies are greater and demand lower than two years ago, when prices averaged about $2.44 a gallon.

Both supporters and opponents of the Lowell Mountain wind power project planned for northern Vermont are protesting the recent approval of the project. In filings at the state Public Service Board, project developer Green Mountain Power Corporation says the board is requiring it to bring equipment to the construction site prematurely.

A Vermont camp for kids with cancer received a big check last night. South Burlington Knights of Columbus presented Camp Ta Kum Ta with a $57,000 check. This year will mark the third summer at Ta Kum Ta's new location in South Hero. Camp officials say it wouldn't be possible without community contributions.