Friday, September 30, 2011

WVTK Local & State News September 30, 2011

The Town of Middlebury has announced that a dead bird found on September 16th tested positive for West Nile Virus. According to Deputy Health Officer Tom Scanlon the Vermont Department of Health notified him that the bird tested positive for West Nile Virus. Everyone, particularly those working outside, should take all necessary precautions and protect themselves from mosquitoes, which are responsible for the spread of this disease, until the end of the current mosquito season.

Many local fundraisers have helped recovery efforts from Tropical Storm Irene. Cornwall’s Bingham Memorial School helped raise funds for the town of Hancock. In the past week, Bristol residents organized a talent show, Shoreham’s Champlain Orchards held a two-day concert event, Middlebury Union High School students had a penny war, which is a contest where students compete using coins that are all donated to a cause and Middlebury Fitness sponsored three workout classes. Each fund-raiser showed that regardless of age or fund-raising experience, anybody can help raise much-needed money for Vermonters recovering from Irene. And always remember that every little bit of financial assistance helps.

This week Middlebury residents voted in favor of a $250,000 bond issue that will pay for final design and engineering work for a proposed major overhaul of the Seymour Street and East Middlebury fire stations. Tuesday’s successful vote was a precursor to what will be a final, $4.625 million bond referendum for the project. That project would consist of a new fire station in East Middlebury and a substantial expansion and renovation of the department’s Seymour Street headquarters.

Residents of the Bristol Police District voted this week to move their annual meeting from its traditional May date to instead coincide with the March town meeting. The change also means that voters will be moving from a meeting format, where they can debate and change the proposed annual budget on the floor, to one where the budget is warned and voted up or down by Australian ballot without the opportunity to tweak it at the meeting.

The city of Vergennes has been awarded a federal Community Oriented Policing Services Grant worth just over $133,000 that will fund a sixth full-time member of the city’s police department for the next three years. City Manager Mel Hawley said a condition of the grant is that Vergennes must agree to retain the position for at least one more year, meaning that the city force will expand for at least four years.

Plans are underway here in Middlebury for a development head. Middlebury selectmen received an update on an ad hoc committee’s effort to define a proposed new town position of “director of business development.” The person holding that post would be charged with creating, recruiting and retaining high-quality jobs in Middlebury. It would require approval from town voters as soon as next March.

An investigation continues into a reported assault at Rutland's Pine Hill Park, but everyone from the park's users to the detective working the case said they believe there's no reason to stay away from the area. Since September 6th when an Otter Valley High School student was taken to the hospital after an incident prior to a regional cross-country meet, police have been investigating an attack the girl described. The investigation continues with Police planning to interview a few more high school and middle school students who were at Pine Hill Park for the meet.

After six years in charge of the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History, Executive Director Jan Albers will be stepping down as of today. The museum is home to some of Addison County’s most treasured historical documents. She said that the average stay for a museum director is five years and she’s already been there for six.

Port Henry residents will pay more for water beginning in November. The village’s “water law,” which was adopted in April, takes effect. Besides increasing water rates, it also adds provisions for village water service. Discounts for large-volume water users have been eliminated; all users will be billed the same rate per thousand gallons of water usage. The increase in rates is necessary because of increased expenses. A copy of the current rate schedule is available at the village office.

The village of Port Henry has adopted a local law requiring all dwellings to have a certificate of occupancy. The new law requires the Port Henry code enforcement officer to issue a certificate of occupancy before anyone moves into a residence. It applies to all owned, rented, residential or commercial, single family or mixed occupancy dwellings, buildings and mobile homes. It includes pre-existing and newly constructed homes. Before a person moves into a home the law required the village codes officer to inspect and certify the building meets all village and state buildings codes. There is a $25 fee for the inspection and certificate of occupancy.

A plan to have New York State take over all Medicaid costs has local government leaders feeling hopeful. Medicaid costs New York $7.3 billion each year, with half of that coming from counties. The bill is so high that it eats up more than 50 percent of most county budgets. New York is one of only two states that share Medicaid costs with local governments. A bill in the State Senate is calling for a state takeover of the program to be phased in over eight years.

The Ticonderoga High School Spanish program is celebrating its seventh year collaboration with SUNY-Albany. The program, called SUNY at the High School, allows juniors and seniors to take college level Spanish courses while still enrolled at the high school. Most area colleges require a year of foreign language as part of the undergraduate degree program. The students receive high school and college credit at the same time, while realizing tuition savings by completing the courses while still in high school.

Vermont students still aren't making the grade when it comes to standardized tests. Science results from the 2011 New England Common Assessment Exams are in. 31 percent of high school students were proficient in science. That is up two percentage points from last year. Only 29 percent of eighth graders passed the exam. Fourth graders did test higher. 54 percent of students at that level are proficient in science. That's up from 53 percent in 2010.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is warning of a severe winter health emergency if federal spending for home heating assistance isn't restored. The Obama administration cut its request for heating assistance funding from $5.1 billion to $2.6 billion, based on projections last spring that energy prices would fall. But Sanders says that hasn't happened, and the result is that many people living in colder regions this winter may have to go without needed assistance in paying for heating. He says that in Vermont, heating oil prices are projected to be about 25% higher this year than last winter and could soon top $4 a gallon.

Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney is picking up support from Republican leaders in Vermont. Romney's campaign released a list of about 70 state office holders, legislators, state committee members, town and county chairs and others who he said have signed up to support his campaign for the 2012 Republican nomination. Topping the list were state Auditor of Accounts Tom Salmon and Sen. Bill Doyle. Lt. Gov. Phil Scott so far isn't on his list.

The Select Board in the southern Vermont town of Dover has voted to spend $100,000 to promote tourism and help local businesses still feeling the effects of Tropical Storm Irene. Town officials say they want to combat impressions that the area is shut down due to the devastating floods. The Mount Snow resort is involved, where marketing director Vinnie Lewis says the recovery has been swift and the town is open for business.

The Amtrak train "the Vermonter" will be back up and running this weekend. The train has been out of service as crews made upgrades to the route thanks to a $50 million federal grant. Damage from Tropical Storm Irene delayed work the project. But officials say the re-opening of the route was only pushed back 2 weeks. The Vermonter runs from Saint Albans to Washington, D.C.

A Canadian Company is one step closer to controlling more than 70 percent of Vermont's power. Yesterday, shareholders for Central Vermont Public Service Corp. overwhelmingly approved the sale of the utility to Gaz Metro. The Quebec-based company also owns Green Mountain Power. The goal of the $702 million dollar sale is to merge CVPS and Green Mountain Power into one Vermont super-utility. CVPS CEO Larry Reilly says, the merger will mean lower rates for customers. The final transaction depends on approval by Federal regulators and the Vermont Public Service Board.

Governor Peter Shumlin says a new round of $10,000 grants to Vermont farmers devastated by Tropical Storm Irene will help them rebuild. Shumlin presented the first check from the Farm Disaster Fund yesterday to an organic dairy farmer in Waitsfield whose fields were flooded a month ago. The farmer, Doug Turner, says he will use the money to restore riverbanks that were eroded during Irene.

A company with a manufacturing plant in Randolph has won more than $9 million worth of contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense. Sen. Patrick Leahy says Applied Research Associates, which makes ground sensors used in guarding the perimeter of remote army bases, has been awarded two contracts - one for $6.5 million and the other for $2.8 million. Leahy said most of this work under the two contracts would be completed in Vermont.

A Winooski police officer has pleaded guilty to drunken driving and has been sentenced to one year of probation. Court papers say officer Jason Nokes was found unresponsive in the driver's seat of his truck on August 5th in the median of Interstate 89. Nokes, who was off-duty at the time, has been on paid administrative leave since he was arrested.

Wal-Mart could get a major competitor in Williston where Target is exploring the idea of building a new store. Representatives from Target have met with a number of town leaders in Williston. The discussions are being described as preliminary, but shoppers and people living near the possible site are already weighing the pros and cons. In recent weeks, town leaders have met with reps from the big-box retailer to discuss the possibility of building a 135-thousand square foot store just off Route 2 near the Best Buy and Shaw’s.

Federal officials say New England's air quality is better so far in 2011 than last year. The Environmental Protection Agency says preliminary data shows ozone levels were unhealthy in New England on 16 days between April and September this year. There were 29 during the same timeframe in 2010. Connecticut had the largest drop. Massachusetts' total of 10 was down from 14 last year. Rhode Island had six unhealthy days. Maine had three, down from eight. New Hampshire's dropped from eight to two, and Vermont - which had none last year - was the only state with an increase, logging one unhealthy air day this year.

The Whiting Community Church will celebrate its bicentennial this weekend. The community will celebrate the local church's 200th birthday with a carnival, pig roast, family games, historic tours, pie bake-off and fireworks from Noon - 7PM on Saturday. A special anniversary celebration and service will be held at 10:30AM on Sunday. All events are free to the public.

The first statewide Foliage “Open Studio Weekend” kicks off tomorrow with artists from across the state opening up their studios to visitors. A similar event, sponsored by the Vermont Crafts Council, was first held during Memorial Day Weekend in May. The Brandon Artists Guild will feature about 50 Vermont artists including paintings, sculptures, and a variety of crafts. The Vermont Crafts Council maps for the event are available at the Brandon Artists Guild at 7 Center Street in downtown Brandon. The Foliage “Open Studio Weekend” runs from 10AM to 5PM Saturday and Sunday.

The Addison Chamber of Commerce will host a presentation and community discussion on the smart grid on Wednesday, October 12th at 8AM, at the Ilsley Library in Middlebury. The public is invited to attend this free event, which will include time for questions and discussions. A representative from Central Vermont Public Service and Green Mountain Power will talk about upgrades that are bringing greater reliability and operational efficiencies to the electric grid. They will also describe the timeline for installing smart meters on local homes and businesses, which will lead to new opportunities for customers to reduce their carbon footprint and save money on electricity.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

WVTK Local & State News September 29, 2011

The Addison County Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the new location of its newest member, Otter Creek Used Books. The used bookseller has completed the move from its former location and is now located in Middlebury’s Marble Works district. Owner Barbara Harding says she moved to be more accessible to her customers and that includes better parking and having all the books located on one floor. Just look for the blue awning between Costello’s Market and Vites & Herbs. You can visit them online anytime at

A woman who tried to rob a Vergennes convenience store while displaying a knife has died. WCAX-TV says the woman went into the Champlain Farms convenience store on Main Street in Vergennes early Wednesday. The woman was injured in a struggle with the store clerk. She was taken to Porter Hospital in Middlebury where she was pronounced dead. The man working in the store was not hurt.

Another milestone this week for repairs on Route 4 in Mendon. Construction crews hope to finish replacing a damaged sewer line this week. Once that's finished, crews will be able to repave and reopen the highway's third lane.

Cities and towns in Vermont will have an extra 16 days to apply for federal disaster assistance to help repair damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene. The new deadline for communities to apply is now October 17, 2011. Communities, certain non-profits, and publicly owned utilities in the declared counties can put in claims. Your regional planning commission, the Vermont Agency of Transportation, and PA specialists from FEMA can help with the application process, but it must be completed by the deadline of October 17th. This does not affect the October 31st deadline for individuals to apply for Individual Assistance.

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife says people shouldn't use sections of the Poultney and Hubbardton Rivers and sections of Lake Champlain because the waterways are being treated with chemicals to kill sea lamprey. The Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative says the treatment began at 7AM Wednesday and will last 10 to 15 days, until all traces of the chemical have disappeared. The water use advisory for the Hubbardton River starts below the falls off River Road in West Haven. For the Poultney River, the advisory is between the Carver Falls Dam and the outlet of South Bay, near Whitehall, NY. In Lake Champlain, the advisory runs from South Bay to Cedar Mountain in Benson.

Castleton has until the first week in November to relocate the town’s municipal offices from the Old Chapel on the Castleton State College campus. This will be the offices’ second move this year. The Town Manager said the move to the campus building was a temporary one and they are looking at renting mobile trailers and offices until they have a building that is “safe, accessible, functional and, hopefully, efficient.” Meanwhile, discussion between town officials and town residents on the future of the Town Hall building began during a well-attended informational meeting Tuesday. A second informational meeting is scheduled for October 11th.

Vermont's crime lab has reopened after losing power in Tropical Storm Irene. Unlike the rest of the state office complex in Waterbury, the lab was not flooded. But officials said it was uninhabitable because it did not have power or clean water.

Another Vermont college is losing its president. According to the Burlington Free Press, Will Wooton will step down from his post at Sterling College in October of 2012. The 62-year-old has held the school's top job since 2006 and is the fourth Vermont college president to announce his or her resignation this year. Nearly 100 students attend the school. It's the state's smallest four-year college.

Opponents to the wind power project planned for the ridgeline of northern Vermont's Lowell Mountain have begun an occupation designed to halt blasting for the project. They say they've set up four tents at the invitation of neighboring property owners Don and Shirley Nelson of Albany, who have written to project developer Green Mountain Power's CEO asking the company to ensure the campers' safety. A GMP spokeswoman says the company will want to clear the area were the campers are when blasting crews approach, most likely not until late fall or early winter. As to what might happen if they're still there, the company said they would address that question when the time comes.

The State of Vermont is making a hefty investment in its downtown areas. Governor Peter Shumlin has announced $1.8 million in new tax credits to revamp more than a dozen historic buildings. The result of the tax credits isn't just improved downtowns; Governor Shumlin says the state sees a strong return. He says for every dollar Vermont invests through its tax credit program, it gets $16 back and it’s putting Vermonters back to work at a time when construction crews have been devastated.

New York is dropping its requirement for vision tests to make it easier for drivers to renew licenses online or by mail. The Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner said that the change is one of several stemming from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's call for streamlining by state agencies. Another change is a new Internet application, "MyDMV," which allows customers to set up personal online accounts to do business with DMV. New licenses and commercial licenses will still require eye tests at a DMV office or by a doctor.

The newly renovated CVPH Medical Center Emergency Department opens today with increased space and improved privacy for patients, visitors and staff. The renovations will include nine new private rooms, a three-bay triage unit and an improved registration process, which will be handled at the patient's bedside. The Medical Center received a $3.6 million grant to expand the ER and alleviate patient congestion.

Vermont's former U.S. Congressman and speaker of the state House of Representatives Richard Mallary has died. Mallary died Tuesday at his home in Brookfield. He was 82. He was first elected to the Vermont House in 1960. He became Speaker in 1966, the first speaker after legislative reapportionment. He served two terms in the U.S. House in the early 1970s. He ran for the U.S. Senate in 1974, but lost to U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy.

Immigration officials have arrested 111 undocumented immigrants across New England as part of a nationwide sweep of convicted criminals who investigators say were in the country illegally. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said the arrests were part a 7-day national enforcement operation that led to the arrest of more than 2,900 convicted criminal aliens. Officials said all of those taken into custody had criminal convictions. The operation netted arrests in every New England state including 23 in Connecticut, 16 in Rhode Island, six in New Hampshire, and two each in Maine and Vermont.

A South Burlington man will serve six months in jail for his role in a Nigerian fraud scheme. Federal prosecutors say Pierre Gravel was the U.S. middleman in the Internet scam, pretending to buy items on Craigslist but paying with counterfeit checks worth more than the selling price. The sellers would deposit the fake checks and then wire the change to the scammers.

Donations are coming in at the Salvation Army’s statewide flood recovery center. The center at the former Smith Buick GMC site on South Main Street in Rutland was established so Vermonters with significant losses in the flooding triggered by Tropical Storm Irene could replace clothes, appliances, household goods and other items. However, not much has been claimed and the center has had only 12 to 15 families per day coming in to replace goods lost to the flooding. The Salvation Army has even asked people seeking to donate clothes or furniture to hold on to their donations for the time being.

Harvest festivals will highlight the fall season in Brandon and Pittsford on Saturday. This year, Brandon Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Harvest Fest will include apple pies, baked goods, pumpkins, hayrides and the usual “Harvest People,” which can be seen popping up around town. At the Harvest Fest, starting at 10AM at Brandon’s Central Park, people will have the opportunity to create their own “Harvest Person.” In Pittsford, the seventh annual Harvest Fest will be at the Village Green near the Congregational Church starting at 10AM. It will help benefit the Bowen-Walker Fund, an emergency safety net for people in town in need of assistance. About 30 vendors will set up shop from local artists to producers and crafts makers.

Renewable energy development will be at the forefront in the next legislative session as a key lawmaker plans to introduce a bill that would force utilities to keep wind, solar or hydroelectric power in their portfolios. But the debate over renewable energy is already heating up this fall with a leading Vermont environmental group last week questioning the Shumlin administration’s commitment to development of renewable electricity. The Vermont Public Interest Research Group issued email blasts Friday critical of parts of the Shumlin administration’s draft comprehensive energy plan.

A new survey reveals that scientists and lab technicians really "need" coffee to be productive. The survey commissioned by Dunkin' Donuts and CareerBuilder says marketing/public relations professionals and education administrators work a lot more effectively when fueled by a cup of Joe. The survey shows more than 60-percent of workers who drink coffee drink two or more cups a day at work and nearly half the people surveyed say they are less productive if they don't drink coffee. In an independent survey conducted by Bruce, Hobbes and Gale we found that drinking 2 or more pots of coffee per day quadruples our productivity and does away with the need to sleep.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WVTK Local & State News September 28, 2011

A three-car crash in Addison County landed several people in the hospital. It happened at about a quarter after seven last night on Route 30 in Whiting. Police say 56-year-old Melody Brown went to pass a tractor and hit another car head-on. She injured her shoulder. The other driver, 17-year-old Ramsey Bronson, broke his arm and leg in several places and was flown to Fletcher Allen Healthcare. Another car also hit Brown's car. That driver suffered minor injuries.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend the departures of National Guardsmen on Thursday and Friday. One set is scheduled to leave from Post Road at 8AM Thursday and will have a police escort to the Route 4 bypass westbound. Five to eight tractor-trailers out of Maine are scheduled to depart from Post Roast at 7AM Friday, and will have a city police escort to Killington and then by the Vermont State Police.

The Brand-Aid fund to help local businesses and building owners in the Brandon area impacted by Tropical Storm Irene has raised more than $20,000. The Brandon Area Chamber of Commerce created the fund a few days after last month’s storm as a way to help about 19 local business and commercial property owners in Brandon and Forest Dale that suffered damage. Business and commercial property owners have until Friday to submit an application to be able to receive money. After that an ad hoc committee will figure out how the money will be allocated.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency this week has found about $40 million to refill disaster aid accounts and now expect the relief fund to stay solvent until at least Friday, the end of the budget year. The agency had to hunt through every financial nook and cranny to find extra money with its disaster relief fund about to run dry and Congress at an impasse on proposals to refill aid accounts.

Governor Peter Shumlin has announced the formation of a non-profit group that will help Vermonters recover from damages caused by Tropical Storm Irene. The Vermont Long Term Disaster Fund will work with other non-profit organizations in the state to coordinate assistance for people who have significant unmet financial needs.
To date, Vermonters have donated $1.3 million to the fund and officials plan to continue to fund-raise in the future. David Coates, a long time director of the National Life Group, will chair the new organization.

Essex County is waiting for federal funding to pay for flood damage, but Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives don't know when it will be coming. Severe storms in April and August caused millions of dollars of damage to county and town infrastructure, but members of the Essex County Board of Supervisors said as of Monday they haven't been paid for any of it.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation plans to open seven temporary bridges by the end of October to replace those damaged by Irene. Officials say 34 state highway bridges were closed because of flood damage after the storm. While 25 have reopened, the agency says nine remain closed to full public travel. The agency said Tuesday that 7 of those bridges will get temporary replacements by the end of next month. The first two are scheduled to open this weekend on Route 100A in Plymouth and Route 100 in Pittsfield. Temporary bridges also will be installed on Route 12 in Barnard and Bethel, Routes 30 and 100 in Jamaica, and Route 73 in Rochester. The agency plans to replace the two other bridges on Route 12A in Roxbury by mid-December.

Most of the employees displaced by the flooding of the state office complex in Waterbury are back at work. Three major state agencies and about 1,600 employees are based out of the complex. The buildings were swamped by the Winooski River during Tropical Storm Irene and remain closed indefinitely. The state has been scrambling to find temporary offices so employees can get back to work.

Fired Rutland Police Sgt. David Schauwecker has asked a judge to end his lawsuit against the city. The former sergeant pleaded no contest in July to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling evidence. His civil complaint against the city, in which he sought a return to his job, remained active but dormant with no new filings since the end of December.

Police in West Brattleboro are investigating a shooting. Officers say they responded to a truck parked near the Fleming Food Mart. They found a woman inside the truck who had been shot in the leg. Police recovered a shotgun at the scene and arrested the driver of the vehicle. The woman was airlifted to a Massachusetts hospital. Their names have not been released.

The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant's owners are asking a federal court to sharply limit the reasons Vermont could use for denying the plant the state license it needs to operate for another 20 years. Lawyers for Entergy Corporation are asking that Vermont regulators be barred from considering safety, but also reliability of the plant and the cost of power from it.

Vermont State Colleges and the University of Vermont will be able to share more information online. The schools got a $1 million grant to upgrade technology that will allow researchers to access data from other schools to develop more complete studies. All of the state colleges will be connected to UVM and other schools throughout the Northeast. It's part of a 2-year project paid for by the National Science Foundation.

An Environmental Protection Agency official says about 200 gallons of oil products were recovered from a tugboat that sank in Lake Champlain in 1963. But no fuel was found in the tanks on the tug William McAllister when they were examined by divers in 165 feet of water about five miles south of Port Kent, New York.

Town officials around Vermont and others interested in the online presence of municipal governments have three chances to hone their skills this week. Joanna Cummings from the Snelling Center for Government is offering an online seminar on how towns can improve their websites. The sessions are Wednesday from 1 to 1:30PM, Thursday from 6 to 6:30PM and Friday from Noon to 12:30PM. They're part of the work e-Vermont does in its mission to optimize rural communities' use of online resources in a variety of sectors, including education, business, government, and community building.

About 75 people gathered at City Hall park in Burlington Monday evening. Their goal was to urge Congress to sign a bill they say would save the Postal Service billions of dollars a year. The U.S. Postal Service has lost nearly $12 billion in the past three years. But Senator Bernie Sanders says that's Congress' fault. Congress is considering several bills to help the postal service cut spending. Bills being considered include 120,000 employee layoffs, closing thousands of offices across the country, and ending Saturday mail service. Sanders says he will introduce legislation next week that would pay the postal service back $50 billion.

Six Crown Point students are attending Ticonderoga High School daily to take a physics class, a course not currently available in Crown Point. The Ti school superintendent said it’s working out very well and is a good opportunity for these kids to get a class normally not available to them. The six Crown Point students join 16 Ti High students in the class and labs.

The Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner on Wednesday, October 26, at 6PM at the Best Western Plus Ticonderoga Inn & Suites. The dinner and awards ceremony will be used as an opportunity to recognize the 2011 Volunteer of the Year, Chamber Volunteer of the Year and Business of the Year as well as TACC appreciation awards. Last year, awards were given to individuals, businesses, organizations and committees who not only support the Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce, but also give themselves for the betterment of the area and surrounding communities.

There’s a hybrid vehicle known as a doodlebug and you don't see many of them around. That's because the vehicles date back to the 1940s and are rare. Gardner Stone of G. Stone Motors in Middlebury had his eye on a doodlebug for many years. Now he is proud to display his collectible tractor at his auto dealership in Middlebury. The doodlebug is a cross between a tractor and a Model A Ford. Doodlebug tractors were handmade during World War II when production tractors were in short supply. The preservation of doodlebugs has become popular in New England and upstate New York where clubs hold monthly meets.

Panera Bread has opened its doors on Church Street in Burlington. The soup and sandwich shop has taken over part of the space vacated by Old Navy. The Burlington franchise is the first in Vermont and it's created 68 new jobs. Panera is planning to expand in Vermont. A café in Rutland is slated to open in December, and two more are going into Williston and South Burlington by next year.

The fourth annual Hay Festival in Killington kicks off this week. You may notice hay sculptures if you drive along Route 4. Thirty-seven businesses built animals out of haystacks, which will be a part of the Vermont Life photo contest for the festival. People are encouraged to take pictures of sculptures at the festival making them eligible for a $500 prize. The festival runs through Columbus Day.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

WVTK Local & State News September 27, 2011

The Lake Champlain Bridge project is nearing completion and the bridge should reopen before the end of the year. But a firm date for reopening is not set. John Grady, regional construction engineer with the New York State Department of Transportation, said with the several delays due to obstructions from the old bridge, the new bridge’s completion is delayed. He said the target date was October 9th, but are confident they will open this year. Meanwhile, There will be a barbecue and music fundraiser at the Crown Point State Historic Site from noon to 4PM on October 16th. It will include a barbecue dinner by the Crown Point Barbeque Co. with pulled pork, chicken, baked beans, coleslaw and macaroni and cheese. The event will help raise funds for the community group to produce and promote the grand reopening celebration next year. The cost is $15 per person.

Emergency personnel from the Middlebury Fire Department rescued an angler stranded on a rock below Middlebury Falls on Sunday. Robert Gerber of Holtsville, NY was stranded in rushing water below the falls in Otter Creek. While he was fishing, a flume gate was opened upstream causing an increase in water that cut him off from shore. It is unknown why the flume opened without prior warning. The Middlebury Fire Department Technical rescue Team rescued him from the river. He was not injured.

A record number of farmers are seeking flood recovery help from the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont. NOFA officials said they are experiencing unprecedented levels of interest in their Farmer Emergency Fund. According to the organization farmers seeking assistance are organic farmers. NOFA member farmers whose land and crops were destroyed by the statewide flooding are eligible for the help. For more information about donating or applying for funds, please visit or call 802-434-4122.

Vermont farms will be eligible for federal disaster aid to recover from damage from the remnants of Hurricane Irene and spring flooding. Gov. Peter Shumlin announced the federal disaster declaration yesterday. He says he hopes farmers who lost crops and equipment in the spring and summer storms will move quickly to seek emergency loan assistance from the Farm Service Agency. The governor says farmers in all 14 counties have eight months to apply for the federal loans, which will be available immediately with an interest rate of below four percent.

Many cities and towns ordered heavy machinery into rivers after the floods to shore up banks and reroute streams. That's what Middlebury did, even though the town was relatively unscathed. Residents and state officials now worry that rechanneling the Middlebury River might exacerbate future flooding. The Middlebury select board met last night to talk about the issue again.

An Addison Central Supervisory Union committee will study the feasibility of offering a second-language program to students throughout the school district. Most students in the Union currently do not have access to second language instruction until grade 8. However Weybridge Elementary currently operates a successful Spanish program. Officials at Mary Hogan Elementary in Middlebury are also now exploring the prospect of offering a second language. The panel will hold its first meeting tomorrow at 3:15PM in the conference room at the Addison Central Supervisory Union building.

Residents in Addison County and the surrounding areas who were affected by the floods from Tropical Storm Irene will find it a little easier to seek disaster assistance this week when federal emergency management officials open a mobile disaster recovery center in Middlebury today through Thursday. The center will be parked in the lot of VFW Post 7823 off Exchange Street. It will be open today from Noon to 6PM, and tomorrow and Thursday from 8AM to 6PM.

The operation schedules for the two Disaster Recovery Centers in Essex County has changed so both will now be closed Sundays. The centers at Moriah fire station and the Jay Community Center in AuSable Forks will still be open 8AM to 8PM Monday through Saturday.

A threat of violence allegedly phoned in by a woman calling from inside Rutland City Hall prompted the evacuation of the building yesterday afternoon. Police said at about 2:30PM. 19-year-old Faith D. Stone dialed 911 and threatened to kill herself and perhaps others as well. She was unarmed when she was arrested. After the call, police evacuated the building and moved the staff inside the police station. City Hall was closed for less than half an hour.

Police investigate Wallingford burglary. State police are looking for a man who broke into a convenience store on Route 103 in Wallingford early Monday morning. At about 4:30AM police said a man wearing blue jeans and a light brown T-shirt smashed through the glass door at Mac’s Market and stole several items. Police said the man they are looking for stands at about 6-feet-tall. Anyone with information about the burglary is asked to call police at 773-9101.

The president of eCorp English said her company’s Middlebury launch has been slowed by low cash flow and a major loan agreement that fell apart. A recent infusion of new money and the unveiling of its new software product should put eCorp back on schedule to becoming a major employer in the area. Founder and President said the company is not going “belly up” nor are they leaving Middlebury.

The Addison Central Supervisory Union’s former business manager is suing her past employer claiming, among other things, that she was bullied by the district’s top executive and then placed on administrative leave after she complained about his behavior. Sharon Stearns, who served as the Union’s business manager for nine years prior to resigning last spring, filed her four-count civil suit in Rutland County Superior Court on September 13th.

Town officials in Bristol are busy tallying up the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, exploring plans for more infrastructure repairs and discussing how much help they could get from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Now that all the roads are back open the town is working with FEMA to put in all of their costs. But the exact total figure is still unknown.

Members of the Rutland Board of Aldermen said the options presented to them for Wales and Evelyn streets last week were “interesting” but needed more study. The Community and Economic Development Committee reviewed a traffic study that outlined three options for re-aligning Evelyn Street to improve traffic flow and make more room for the farmers’ market. The study also looked at either changing the direction of Wales Street or making it two-way.

The Ways and Means Committee of the Essex County Board of Supervisors has selected Linda Beers as the new director of the Public Health Department. The committee voted unanimously to move the recommendation to the full board meeting October 3rd. The committee also forwarded the new county smoking policy to a vote by the full board, which would be placed into effect November 17th if passed.

Organizers of a rally that drew more than 1,000 people to Montpelier this past weekend are vowing to keep up the pressures for changes in policy designed to combat climate change. Moving Planet Vermont leaders say they'll continue to push for legislation and policy changes that would put Vermont in the forefront of the fight against climate change. They say they support pushing greater reliance on renewable energy, more use of locally grown foods, support for efficient homes and buildings.

A Townsend teacher will become Vermont's next teacher of the year. The state Education Department will announce the winner today at Leland & Gray Middle and High School. The 2012 teacher of the year alternate and finalist also will be recognized.

A librarian at Vermont Technical College has been elected to a top state labor leadership post. Ben Johnson is a member of the Vermont State College Faculty Federation and head of United Professions AFT of Vermont. The AFL-CIO says Johnson is now the labor umbrella group's youngest state president.

Lawyers for Entergy Corporation and the state are expected to file their last pitches in writing to the federal judge weighing the future of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. Entergy says a license renewal from federal regulators should trump state action to close the plant.

Officials at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant say they are working to repair a pump motor that failed, forcing the plant to reduce power and reconfigure its operations in order to avoid shutting down. Larry Smith, spokesman for plant owner Entergy Nuclear, says 1 of 2 large pumps that re-circulate water through the reactor failed Sunday night, and that the plant automatically began reducing power.

Middlebury College’s Sound Investment Jazz Ensemble will present a joint concert with the Amherst College Jazz Ensemble on Monday, October 10th at 8PM in the Mahaney Center for the Arts Concert Hall in Middlebury. The evening will be a celebration of the 50th anniversary of an historic jazz event. On July 6, 1961, the Count Basie Orchestra and the Duke Ellington Orchestra met in a New York City recording studio and cut the album entitled “First Time! The Count Meets the Duke”. It remains one of the few collaborative band albums ever produced.’ The performance is free and open to the public. For more information visit

The Vermont Symphony Orchestra is helping with flood relief. The VSO is hitting the road this week for the annual fall foliage festival. Officials are encouraging people to bring non-perishable food items to donate to the Vermont food bank or bring a contribution for the Vermont farm disaster relief fund. For more information visit VSO Dot org.

Monday, September 26, 2011

WVTK Local & State News September 26, 2011

Vermont State Police are warning of a variety of telephone scams following an upsurge in incidents reported around the state. Police say the ploys include a lottery scam, one offering a free home security system, and a debt collector scam. Police say they are issuing the warning because the number of reports has increased. The lottery scam has mostly targeted the elderly. In the home security scam, victims are asked for personal information and credit card numbers. The debt collector scam is a nationwide fraud scheme that targets people who have a "payday loan" they got online.

Almost a month after Tropical Storm Irene knocked Rutland city's water supply, Mayor Christopher Louras announced Friday that it was “fully re-established.” Louras said repairs to the main line into the reservoir from Mendon Brook meant an end to water conservation orders, but warned the public that the city still lacked a backup supply, meaning contamination in Mendon Brook could again put the city in crisis mode.

Fundraising efforts in the town of Pittsford to help communities hurt by tropical storm Irene are just starting off and they have already raised approximately $8,000. A committee of residents and businesses in the town are spearheading efforts to raise funds through the month of October and they are off to a good start, with a $5,000 donation from OMYA and $3,000 from the Marble Valley Lions. A collection box can be found at the town offices and other local businesses.

Contractors for a proposed biomass plant and wood pellet manufacturing facility in Fair Haven said permitting applications for the project are back on track after Beaver Wood Energy closed financial deals to cover additional permit costs. A company official said they acquired more than $1 million in additional funds to complete development. It removed a roadblock in the project’s permit process.

Officials from Vermont say an emu in Brandon was found to be suffering from Eastern equine encephalitis, a disease carried by mosquitoes that can in rare cases be fatal. The case of the Emu was the first time that EEE has been confirmed in a live animal in Vermont. No cases have been reported in humans, although cases have been reported in bordering states and Quebec. Last year testing of deer and moose samples confirmed the virus is present in Vermont.

Taxpayers may soon be able to pay their Essex County property taxes with a credit card. The County Finance Committee has approved issuing a request for proposals to provide the collection of property taxes by credit card. The county would have to contract with a company that would process the credit card and charge the property owner a separate amount to compensate for the fee levied on the recipient by the card issuer.

A top U.S. Department of Agriculture official will visit Vermont farms recovering from flooding caused by the remnants of Hurricane Irene. Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan will tour several farms in Westminster and Brattleboro in southern part of the state on today. Tomorrow, she plans to visit the Brattleboro Co-op, which is undergoing an expansion.

Gov. Peter Shumlin will hold a news conference this afternoon to announce his support for the Vermont Long Term Disaster Recovery Group. The organization helps Vermont residents recover from losses caused by devastating floods that accompanied the remnants of Hurricane Irene.

The head of the University of Vermont's student health center is contesting allegations the center improperly prescribed opiate painkillers for student patients. Dr. Jon Porter is set to appear before the state's Medical Practice Board today. The Burlington Free Press reports documents in the case contend Porter failed to supervise a doctor's assistant who refilled prescriptions that had supposedly been lost or stolen and other improprieties.

An informational meeting is planned for tomorrow in Colchester as the town considers whether to buy the lakefront Camp Holy Cross from the Diocese of Burlington. Proponents say the purchase may be the town's best chance to gain lakefront acreage but opponents say the asking price, more than $4 million, is too much for the town to afford.

Results of Vermont residents' well tests following Irene are beginning to turn up, and they show some cases in which the water is contaminated. In at least one case, test results came back positive for coliform, requiring the owner to disinfect the well this weekend. More than 2,800 test kits were distributed by Vermont's Department of Health during the last few weeks. Homeowners can send the tests in for the cost of a postage stamp. Many residents are boiling their water or using bottled water.

State Auditor Tom Salmon, who had previously said he would not seek another term, says he'll run for re-election as auditor after all. Salmon says his decision was based on the need for continuity as Vermont recovers from Tropical Storm Irene's floods. Salmon says he believes his office will continue to play an important role in recovery, especially in working with federal agencies.

Ticonderoga Emergency Squad ambulances should be operating from their new headquarters by the end of the year. The squad is currently constructing a 4,100-square-foot building on the site of the old Ticonderoga Civic Center that will include two ambulance bays, offices, crew quarters, a meeting room and other amenities. The squad provides advanced life support with critical-care technicians but has no paramedics. A new emergency medical technician class starts in October, offering training two nights a week and some Saturdays.

The Essex County Prescription Drug Discount Card is provided free to all county residents through a partnership between the Essex County Board of Supervisors and ProAct Inc. The cards provide users with a savings of between 10 to 50 percent, depending on the medication and the brand. Residents should contact ProAct directly with any questions at (877) 776-2285 or visit

Vermont tourism officials are hoping leaf-peepers won't be shy this fall foliage season, out of fear the state's roads are a mess from Tropical Storm Irene. Megan Smith, the state's commissioner of tourism and marketing, says 95% of the state's roads are open. She also says the state is ready for people to come. The foliage season is getting under way, as leaves in the top northern third of the state already have color. The fall foliage season brings in about $300 million in business for the state each year.

OnStar may be taking its role of tracking cars a bit too far. New York Senator Chuck Schumer called on the Federal Trade Commission yesterday to investigate a change in company policy that would mean drivers who had canceled the service would still have their vehicles location and speed tracked unless they formally opted-out. OnStar also said it was reserving the company's right to sell driver information. Six million American drivers currently use the service.

The New York State English Council has named a Ticonderoga Central School instructor 2011 “Educator of Excellence”. Ticonderoga High School physics and chemistry teacher Paul Jebb was nominated for the award by two of his students. This is Jebb's 27th year in teaching. He's been at Ticonderoga for 11 years, and had taught for 16 years at Newcomb Central School before. He was the only teacher in the tri-county area to receive the “Educator of Excellence” honor.

New York's apple farmers are establishing an online guide for apple pickers this fall in what is seen as a bumper crop. A guide to apple picking is scheduled to be at The New York Apple Association is urging New Yorkers to hit the orchards for fresh apples and cider from one of the best apple harvests in years.

The Ticonderoga Booster Club has purchased Sentinel Pride signs for all local businesses in an effort to increase the show of school spirit throughout the community. Businesses without a sign can contact the Booster Club and one will be delivered as soon as possible. Spirit Week begins on Monday, October 3rd, culminating with Homecoming on Friday, October 7th.

Vermont doesn’t necessarily come to mind when you think of exploring the final frontier of outer space. However, four in-state colleges are collaborating on the building of a mini satellite called CubeSat. Students from four area colleges; Vermont Technical College, the University of Vermont, Norwich University, and St. Michael’s College are working together on the high-tech satellite with help from engineering and physics faculty members. Vermont’s first homegrown satellite will likely be launched aboard a NASA rocket next year.

A long-time member of the WCAX-TV Channel 3 family has passed away. Stuart Hall started working at the station in 1954, just after the station first went on the air. He died peacefully Sunday morning at the age of 90. Stuart came to Channel 3 in 1954; two months after the station went on the air. He came here from Illinois looking for a change in scene. In 1964, Richard Gallagher joined Stuart Hall and Tony Adams on the news set and those three men worked together for 20 years, one of the longest running teams in broadcast history.

Friday, September 23, 2011

WVTK Local & State News September 23, 2011

Several Vermont law enforcement agencies have been investigating numerous phone scams. At this time, there are several reported incidents, they tend to fall into one of three types of scams: lottery/winnings, home security, or debt collector/money fraud. The targeted victim’s profile varies by scam, but the victims all report the fraudulent caller as having a heavy accent and, in several incidents, threatening and hostile. Due to the increasing frequency and similarities of these scams, the public should be aware of the issue and report any incidents they feel are inappropriate to their local Law enforcement agency.

The Green Mountain National Forest, including the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area, has re-opened to all Vermonters and visitors as of September 16th. However, the damage to roads, bridges and trails in the Rochester and Middlebury Ranger Districts is extensive. Areas popular with tourists, Texas Falls and the Robert Frost trail, remain closed.

Renters who lost their home or personal property as a result of Tropical Storm Irene in Clinton and Essex counties are among those who may be eligible for assistance. Funds are available from the New York State Office of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Next Tuesday Middlebury residents will be asked to approve a $250,000 bond to complete final design and engineering plans for a substantial rebuild of the town’s fire stations on Seymour Street and in East Middlebury. The vote is a lead-in to a second, $4.625 million bond referendum to finance construction of the project, which will include extensive renovations and a four-bay addition to the Seymour Street station. Also part of the second bond vote is a new smaller East Middlebury station that would be able to store two trucks and have a sprinkler system.

Bristol residents voiced concerns over a proposed town plan update at a public hearing earlier this week. They asked the planning commission to add more information to the plan about extraction in the conservation area and some wording in crucial sections of the document while raising other issues that could impede the plan’s adoption.

A new format is being looked into for the annual Bristol police meeting. Residents of the Bristol Police District will have an opportunity on Monday evening at 7 in Holley Hall to decide the future time and format of the annual district meetings, where the police budget is approved or denied.

Green Mountain Power has applied to the Vermont Public Service Board for permission to install a wind turbine on the northeast corner of the Northlands Job Corps campus. GMP will ask the PSB for a Certificate of Public Good for a turbine that will stand about 120 feet tall with rotor blades about 65 feet long.

Champlain Orchards in Shoreham is hosting two days of live music this weekend to benefit Vermont farmers affected by Tropical Storm Irene. The orchard owner knows there is a need among Vermont’s agricultural community. Champlain Orchards itself lost more than 300 trees, snapped off by the wind and rain during Irene. They estimated the cost of orchard storm damage was $100,000.

Preliminary conclusions drawn from a review of the work in the Middlebury River in East Middlebury after Tropical Storm Irene show that the town of Middlebury did not exceed the recommendations of state environmental officials, except in one instance. Where they did go beyond a state engineer’s directions, town officials said they would restore damaged habitat.

Residents in the town of Hubbardton voted to allocate $75,000 in funds to purchase a property in town during a special Select Board meeting. Following an extensive discussion, town residents voted to approve the reallocation of $70,000 in the General Fund reserve allocated to the Salt/Sang Shed Project, if needed, to the purchase of the leased property at 66 Hortonia Road where the Hubbardton town garage and the Pleasentview Cemetery are located. An additional $5,000 was allocated to finalize the purchase.

Killington has hired a new interim assistant town manager, but they aren’t saying who or for how much just yet. According to soon-to-be interim Town Manager Seth Webb a letter of agreement for employment has yet to be signed. A formal announcement is expected to be made today, including how much the manager will be paid.

Searchers looking for a Vermont man missing since Hurricane Irene have found a body in the woods of hard-hit Rutland. State police said Thursday they didn't know yet if the body was that of 24-year-old Michael G. Garofano. He disappeared August 28 with his father, 55-year-old Rutland water plant operator Michael J. Garofano. If the body is his, the U.S. death toll from Irene would rise to 47 people in 13 states.

New Hampshire authorities say the death of an 11-year-old girl whose body was found in a river last month was a homicide. Investigators say they also know how what caused Celina Cass' death. But they aren't making it public, because they say doing so could harm the integrity of the investigation. Cass was reported missing July 26. A reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest. The attorney general's office said Thursday that the cause of death was determined through information gleaned from the investigation and toxicology tests.

Gov. Peter Shumlin says a Vermont National Guard member has died of an apparent heart attack while helping residents recover from Tropical Storm Irene. Master Sgt. Shawn Stocker passed away Tuesday. Shumlin's office says Stocker was leaving the Proctorsville Fire Department for a worksite in Cavendish when he was stricken.

Vermont officials are working on a way to reduce the cost of disposing of mobile homes destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene. Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott talked about the plan yesterday with Lawrence Miller, who is secretary of commerce and community development. They are working to reduce costs by requesting bulk pricing proposals from Vermont contracting firms. The project will begin in Berlin, where 70 homes were damaged in Weston's Mobile Home Park. Nearly 150 mobile home owners in more than a dozen parks around the state are facing the problem.

The deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture will be in Vermont next week to meet with farmers recovering from the flooding caused by Irene. Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan will be in the state on Monday and Tuesday. First she and state Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross will tour recovery efforts at several farms in southern Vermont. On Tuesday, she'll visit the Brattleboro Food Co-op, which is building a new facility that will allow it to expand its sales.

Divers are braving the dark depths of Lake Champlain to see if there's still fuel on a tugboat that sank in 1963. The William H. McAllister once hauled barges between Vermont and New York. It was wrecked by a reef a half-century ago. Federal officials and environmentalists worry that it could still be holding up to 14,000 gallons of diesel fuel. Records have never been clear, and it's unknown whether any fuel is still aboard. But the officials fear that the diesel fuel, if released, could hurt fish and wildlife. Divers now are trying to find the fuel tanks.

Police in New York are getting tough on texters. Law enforcement officers wrote more than twice as many texting while driving tickets in August than they had in any other month. It's been illegal to text while driving in New York since 2009. But last month it became a primary offense, meaning police could stop a driver solely for texting. Officials say 1,082 drivers were ticketed in August, well above the average of 427 citations per month. Now, 35 states consider texting while driving a primary offense.

Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott will be taking to a track in a racecar to promote Vermont tourism. Scott says he decided to race at the New Hampshire International Speedway this weekend to showcase that Vermont is resilient and open for business in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene. The bright green stock car Scott will be racing includes an outline of the state of Vermont on the hood. The words "We Are Vermont Strong" are written across it. The race is scheduled for Saturday.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

WVTK Local & State News September 22, 2011 (Afternoon Update)

Governor Peter Shumlin says a Vermont National Guard member has died of an apparent heart attack while helping residents recover from Tropical Storm Irene. 46-year-old Master Sgt. Shawn Stocker passed away Tuesday. Shumlin's office says Stocker was leaving the Proctorsville Fire Department for a worksite in Cavendish when he was stricken.

State officials are once again warning the public about phone scams. They have recently seen a rise in phone scam reports. Here are the big 3 to watch for ... One tells people they've won a prize, but must pay taxes and shipping to receive it. Another involves an offer for a free security system, but only if the target gives out personal information and pays a deposit. And a third common scam involves phony debt collectors who threaten legal action, if the targeted person doesn't make an immediate loan payment.

Vermont State Police say an armed man involved in a car crash tried to get away in a fire truck that responded to the accident. Police say 30-year-old Trevor Burton of Warren was a passenger in Wednesday's car crash in Lincoln. They say he got into the fire truck with his pit bull terrier and threatened to drive off, but firefighters talked him out of it. Police say Burton handed the magazine to his handgun to a trooper and left the truck, but his dog bit the trooper's finger.

Law enforcement officers in New York are cracking down on texting with driving. It’s been illegal since 2009 but last month it became a primary offence, meaning police can now stop a driver just for texting behind the wheel. Last month, law enforcement officers wrote more than twice as many tickets for texting than in any other month.

Taxpayers in Clarendon will have an extra month to pay their property tax bills. The Clarendon Select Board has agreed to extend the property tax deadline from October 14 to November 18. The decision was made at a recent board meeting after hearing from residents impacted by Tropical Storm Irene that more time was needed to pay tax bills.

Although it's been a few weeks since Tropical Storm Irene, homeless shelters around the state are busier than ever. The Rutland City Rescue Mission says it's doubled the amount of meals served in its soup kitchen, and the shelter for homeless is filled with people whose homes are damaged and have nowhere to go. Vermont 211 says the number of after-hours emergency calls reached an all-time high in the month of August, with more than 160 calls of people needing information about where to go and what to do.

WVTK Local & State News September 22, 2011

Taxpayers in Clarendon will have an extra month to pay their property tax bills. The Clarendon Select Board has agreed to extend the property tax deadline from October 14 to November 18. The decision was made at a recent board meeting after hearing from residents impacted by Tropical Storm Irene that more time was needed to pay tax bills.

Residents from the town of Brandon met earlier this week to listen and discuss a corridor plan for the Neshobe River Watershed with the purpose of mitigating future flood damage. A steering committee is now reaching out to landowners along the Neshobe River Watershed and presenting the potential projects and their benefits. They are working on determining what volunteer options are available for property owners. Copies of the Neshobe River Corridor Plan are available at the Brandon town offices and at

The city of Rutland will get a look tonight at how Evelyn Street and Wales Street could be different. The Community and Economic Development Committee meets at 5:30PM to discuss a recent traffic study. The study presents three approaches to altering Evelyn Street and looks at changing the direction of traffic on Wales Street.

State officials now estimate the damage to roads, bridges and other infrastructure in Vermont will exceed $1 billion. Much of that damage is in towns where 1,950 roads, 200 bridges and 900 culverts need repairs. The state is rushing emergency funds to towns to pay for the work, while they await federal disaster aid. Meanwhile, transportation officials report more progress on repairing state infrastructure. There were 180 separate closures of state roads and bridges following Irene, today that is down to 13. But there still is a long way to go to get the system fully repaired.

Gov. Peter Shumlin is urging Vermonters whose homes were damaged by flooding to register for help with the Federal Emergency Management Agency by the end of October. Shumlin said Tuesday that officials are extremely concerned that every Vermonter who was displaced by the storm has adequate housing before winter, whether they are a homeowner or renter. He says the federal agency won't know how much help is needed until it gets the information it needs. He is urging Vermonters to call 1-800-621-FEMA by the end of next month.

The federal government has extended unemployment assistance to three more Vermont counties following Tropical Storm Irene. The Vermont Department of Labor said Wednesday that the filing deadline for individuals in Franklin, Lamoille and Orleans counties to determine if they eligible for help is Oct. 21. Officials say a person must be continuously unemployed as a direct result of the remnants of Hurricane Irene to continue to get help. Vermont already received approval for assistance in nine other counties. The deadline for those areas is October 7.

Although it's been a few weeks since Tropical Storm Irene, homeless shelters around the state are busier than ever. The Rutland City Rescue Mission says it's doubled the amount of meals served in its soup kitchen, and the shelter for homeless is filled with people whose homes are damaged and have nowhere to go. Vermont 2-1-1 says the number of after-hours emergency calls reached an all-time high in the month of August, with more than 160 calls of people needing information about where to go and what to do.

The full Senate Appropriations Committee has signed off a measure that would once again allow heavy trucks to use interstate highways in Maine and Vermont. Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy placed the provision approved yesterday in the transportation-spending bill along with Maine colleague Susan Collins. The proposal now goes to the full Senate. There's no similar language in the House version.

A new legislative bill would exempt New York flood victims from state sales tax for their moving expenses and for purchases that replace clothing, appliances and other items. The proposal by two upstate lawmakers would cover the sales tax on storage, furniture and other purchases large and small necessitated by the flooding damage caused by from tropical storms Irene and Lee. Flood victims would be reimbursed for disaster purchases through a tax credit as long as they have receipts. The bill could be taken up in January or earlier if the Legislature calls a special session this fall.

Paul Van Horn has been named store manager of the Tractor Supply store under construction in Ticonderoga. Van Horn will oversee all store operations, including receiving, inventory control and merchandising, as well as customer and team relations. The new Ticonderoga Tractor Supply store, located in the former Dockside Landing Boat Center at 9 Commercial Drive, is expected to open for business in mid October. The new store is located inside Ticonderoga Commerce Park off Route 74.

Vermont schools damaged by the remnants of Hurricane Irene as the academic year began are getting back to normal. Moretown Elementary School had to adapt to get students back to their studies as quickly as possible. The floors are just bare concrete, but the 120 students returned to class Monday. After the storm, at least five Vermont schools were closed until further notice and about 120 delayed opening for the school year because of roads or buildings ravaged by flooding.

Investigators now say a fire Tuesday at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant corporate office was definitely a case of arson and vandalism. The fire in the three-story building on Old Ferry Road was reported by an automatic alarm early Tuesday morning. The initial investigation determined a window to the building had been broken, and the sprinkler system inside was activated. The building is about seven miles from the plant, and had smoke, fire and water damage. While some areas are now re-opened, it's believed the rest of the building may be open by the end of the week.

The King’s Garden at Fort Ticonderoga will officially welcome autumn with its annual plant sale and harvest market. The event will be held Saturday, October 1, 10AM to 4PM. The plant sale will offer a variety of perennials from the historic gardens. Staff and volunteers will be available to answer questions and dig visitor’s selections. People are encouraged to bring their own bags, boxes or bins.

Gov. Peter Shumlin thanked the many Vermonters and business leaders who have been instrumental in the recovery efforts from Tropical Storm Irene in a news conference Wednesday at the National Life Building. That goodness, he said, extends to businesses like Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. It donated $250,000 to various recovery efforts and has helped in other ways. As the recovery process continues Shumlin encourages Vermonters who would like to help to call 1-800-VERMONT.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

WVTK Local & State News September 21, 2011

Governor Peter Shumlin told a gathering of government and private partners yesterday that damage from Tropical Storm Irene could top one-billion dollars. During the storm, nearly 2-thousand roads were damaged; 184 are still closed. Out of the 268 damaged bridges, 94 still remain closed. And now, town officials are trying to figure out how to pay for all the work.

There is some good news about the damaged roads in our area ... the bridge on Route 7 in Clarendon is once again open to traffic along with a portion of Route 100 between Warren and Rochester.

Hannaford Officials are hoping to build a new store in Hinesburg soon. 6 months ago they release a proposal to the town that didn’t sit well with residents. At last night’s meeting they released a new site plan for the 36,000 square foot store to be located in Hinesburg's Commerce Park. The new plan adds more landscaping and eliminates the drive thru pharmacy.

About 100 unemployed Vermonters will be getting temporary jobs to help the state clean up and recover from flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene. The U.S. Department of Labor grant will fund temporary jobs assisting with clean-up, demolition, repair, renovation, and reconstruction of destroyed public structures, facilities, and lands throughout the state. The funds will also be used to perform work on the homes of economically disadvantaged individuals, with priority given to services for the elderly and individuals with disabilities.

Police across Vermont are cracking down on scrap metal thieves. This week troopers are canvassing scrap metal yards to remind owners and managers about the law governing scrap metal. If you're looking to sell your scrap metal, like a catalytic converter from an old car, buyers will need a picture ID, license plate number, a description of the property, and proof that you actual own it. Businesses caught taking in metal without the proper paperwork can get a rather hefty fine.

State Representative Margaret Cheney is drafting legislation that would increase the state gas tax to help towns pay for repairing roads damaged by Tropical Storm Irene. Cheney says towns hit hard by flooding face local property tax increases to fund repairs not covered by the state and federal government. Cheney adds a 1-cent gas tax increase would raise $3.3 million.

Police say a fire at Vermont Yankee's office building in Brattleboro was intentionally set. The arson fire comes at a time when the company is in a bitter legal battle with the state. The court fight has sparked protests. Now there is no evidence connecting opponents to the fire, but the 20 people who work at the offices fear that may be the case.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

WVTK Local & State News September 20, 2011

A fire completely destroyed a firefighter's home in Starksboro. The blaze broke out sometime yesterday afternoon while Captain Eric Cota was outside mowing his lawn and his wife was picking up their children at school. She returned just before 4 and found the home engulfed in flames. No people were injured in the fire.

A Castleton State College student remains hospitalized this morning after an accident along Lake Bomoseen. On Sunday afternoon, during a party at the lake, a deck collapsed, sending at least 8 people to the ground. Only 4 were injured in the fall. Witnesses say the second story structure separated from the house and toppled over.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to help residents get back on their feet after Irene. The Governor has extended due dates for property taxes and is waiving fees to have state documents replaced. The governor has also created a new program called New York Works. The new program will provide temporary work to unemployed residents for the next 3 months. Workers will assist in rebuilding and reconstruction efforts, and will make 15 dollars an hour.

Even though the Granville / Hancock area was the hardest hit area of Addison County by Tropical Storm Irene and there is still a lot of cleanup work to do, a new business has opened its doors. A crowd showed up last Thursday for the Grand Opening of the Granville General Store.

Back on September 7th at a special meeting, residents in Panton voted against borrowing $40,000 to fix the cupola of the Town Hall. The cupola work would have been part of a larger project to repair the leaky roof. Now Panton selectmen believe they may have found a way to remove the cupola, and keep it, while allowing the building’s roof is fixed.

A Wilder man will be back in court today to answer to charges that he hired someone to kill his 2 close friends. Police say Louis Fucci wanted his ex-business partner and ex-girlfriend dead, but the man he hired to carry out the killings went instead to authorities. Prosecutors say he paid the intended killer $9,000 dollars, and some of the conversations Fucci had with the man were recorded. Fucci is expected to enter his plea in court today.

The Vermont Health Department is offering homeowners who are cleaning up from Irene tips on how to get rid of mold. The Health Department says to dry all wet materials immediately and dispose of any moldy materials that can't be cleaned, especially porous items such as wallboard, insulation, carpet and ceiling tiles. Non-porous items made of wood, steel, plastic, ceramic, glass or concrete can be cleaned with detergent and water or a weak bleach solution.

The Salvation Army says it needs volunteers to help at its flood recovery center in Rutland. The center says they also need non-perishable food items, particularly canned meats and beef stew, peanut butter and jelly in plastic containers, pasta and Italian sauce, bottled water and hygiene items. To find out more about volunteering, please call the volunteer coordinator at the Flood Recovery Center at (802) 773-1739.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

WVTK Local & State News September 19, 2011

The boil-water order in West Rutland was lifted around noon Friday. West Rutland Town Manager Mary Ann Goulette said the state gave the town the OK to lift the boil-water order following a series of positive test results conducted at the contaminated well, three different sites and a distribution center. The boil-water order was issued to West Rutland residents after E. coli was found in one of the wells following flooding from Tropical Storm Irene.

When Irene came through nearly 3 weeks ago, it caused the Otter Creek to rise and spill eight feet of water into a Rutland field where 150 tons of pumpkins were ready to be picked. The water not only washed over the pumpkins, it broke them right off the vines and carried most of them away. According to Mark Winslow "They floated down to Middlebury or Lake Champlain.” Luckily for Winslow, half his crop was grown in Pittsford. Although some pumpkins sat under a lot of water they look pretty good. There's a lot of orange color and the shells are pretty hard. However, you have to check the stem, if it's really soft farmers say that means it's infected and eventually the rest of the pumpkin will start to go. Farmers can still sell them, but officials say it's important to ask if the pumpkins were covered with water before you pick them.

A proposed local law regulating general contractors has been put on hold by the Ticonderoga Town Council after some contractors spoke against it at a public hearing. Town Supervisor Debra Malaney said the law was drafted after some contractors complained of others doing shoddy work and not carrying insurance or other certifications. But the law as drafted was felt by some to be too severe. There are no plans to bring the law up again.

Vermont’s 14 hospitals collectively have kept their budgets for next year below a threshold set by the Legislature, but only after excluding the $16 million in tax increases on health care providers that lawmakers and Gov. Peter Shumlin imposed this year to help fill a budget gap. For the fiscal year that begins October 1st, Vermont hospital budgets will grow an average of 3.8 percent when the new taxes aren’t included, which brings the budgets under the target of 4 percent set by a 2009 law.

As Vermont’s electric utilities prepare to install “smart meters” on every home and business tied to the grid, some residents are warning regulators of health and privacy issues that may accompany the new technology. A $70 million grant from the Department of Energy will help pay for putting state-of-the-art meters on exterior house walls across Vermont. The smart meters, as they’re called, will use wireless technology to beam real-time information about a household’s electricity use directly to the utility. The public got its first chance to weigh in on the plan last Thursday. Janet Newton, president of the EMR Policy Institute in Marshfield, said government agencies haven’t adequately researched the potential impacts of radio-frequency radiation emitted by smart meters. CVPS has already crafted an opt-out provision, which was approved recently by the PSB.

Department of Transportation crews are back home in Maine after spending nearly two weeks helping repair infrastructure in Vermont damaged by heavy rains from the remnants of Hurricane Irene. The department sent 149 workers who volunteered to be a part of Vermont's recovery effort. DOT regional manager Mike Burns said that the crews worked 15-hour days for 12 days repairing roadways, inspecting bridges and doing other things asked of them.

Sen. Patrick Leahy is hailing the signing into law by President Barack Obama the first significant reform of America's patent laws since the early 1950s. Leahy says he worked for six years on the legislation, which is designed to make it easier for inventors to get their creations through the patent process and to market. He says the measure is especially important in Vermont, which has the highest number of patents per capita in the nation.

Congressman Peter Welch says GOP leaders in the House are "playing politics" with a federal disaster relief bill that would help many northeastern states, including Vermont. Republican leaders say any additional money for the Federal Emergency Management Agency must be cut from other programs. Welch is strongly opposed to that approach. The measure is expected to be on the House floor for debate in the middle of this week.

Vermont's two U.S. senators are urging a quick vote in the House next week on $6.9 billion in additional federal disaster relief funds for Vermont and other states. The measure up for a House vote this week includes $5.1 billion in funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief fund, $500 million of which would be available immediately. The rest would go to other departments and agencies that have seen their coffers dwindle in a year when there have been more natural disasters than usual. The Department of Agriculture would receive $266 million for emergency programs.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer is pushing legislation to help farmers wiped out by Irene. He wants to eliminate the interest that farmers are charged on federal disaster loans. The current rate is 3.75 percent. Tropical storms Irene and Lee caused tens of millions of dollars in crop and livestock damage in Vermont and New York alone. The Department of Agriculture has yet to comment on Schumer's proposal.

Police say a 25-year-old man is hospitalized and a 55-year-old man is in jail following a shooting in southern Vermont. Vermont State Police were called at 9:30PM Saturday called to a residence on Route 30 in Townshend where William McGuiness of Townshend had sustained injuries from the shooting. McGuiness was flown to a hospital, where police said he is being treated for his injuries. The suspect, 55-year-old Edward Tetrault of Townshend, was arrested at 3AM Sunday in the nearby town of Grafton. Police say the shooting took place during a domestic altercation. Tetrault is being held without bail on three counts of aggravated domestic assault.

A 69-year-old woman escaped unharmed but her car sustained extensive damages when it collided with a moose on a rural highway in northern Vermont. Vermont State Police say a large moose darted in front of a Jeep driven by Diane Thurber of Orleans at about 8:30PM Saturday on Route 105 in Charleston. Officials say Thurber unsuccessfully attempted to brake and avoid the animal. The animal ran off after the collision.

With fall foliage season at hand, New England general stores are getting ready for their annual influx of leaf-peeping visitors. And the stores will be relying on their usual combination of nostalgia and offbeat services to bring 'em in. With creaky wooden floors, penny-candy counters and merchandise that runs the gamut from snow shovels to wedding dresses, these fixtures of small-town Yankee life have evolved into an eclectic mix that manage to compete in a Wal-Mart era.

Vermont is starting to show its fall colors. In the first of its annual fall foliage reports, Ginger Anderson of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation says weather forecasts for cool nights with adequate moisture and healthy trees portend a good foliage season. Anderson says aerial surveys over the Northeast Kingdom show the reds in maples are developing well, particularly in wetlands. The best bets for early foliage viewers are Route 108 through Smugglers’ Notch as well as routes 242 and 100 near Jay Peak and routes 16 and 5A in the Lake Willoughby area.

A new statewide program is designed to help parents teach kids about money. The Vermont Money Smart Child Initiative has produced a booklet offering tips on how to teach children about managing personal finance. There will also be parent workshops conducted around the state, which will provide exercises exploring spending choices, budgeting, credit and saving. The program is a partnership between the Vermont JumpStart Coalition, the State Treasurer's Office, and People's United Bank.

Fort Ticonderoga hosts its eighth annual Seminar on the American Revolution September 23rd – 25th. The annual seminar focuses on the political, social and military history of Revolutionary America, bringing together a panel of historians from around the country. The Seminar is open to the public. Pre-registration is required. Additional information about the seminar is available on the Fort Ticonderoga website.

Ticonderoga High School track and field coach Walter Thorne continues to be one of the top masters runners in the world. The Ticonderoga man claimed four gold medals and set two records while competing in the World Fire and Police Games in New York City last month. 71-Year-Old Thorne won the 400-meter run with a record time of 1 minute, 11.19 seconds. He also won the 200-meter sprint.

The Salvation Army says it's moving from immediate disaster relief in Vermont to a longer-term effort to provide food, clothing, furniture and spiritual support to people affected by Tropical Storm Irene and its aftermath. The charitable organization is opening a new Vermont flood recovery headquarters at 263 South Main Street in Rutland, in space being donated by John and Shirley Barnhart. The center is seeking donations of nonperishable food items, particularly canned meats, and it is also seeking volunteers.

Friday, September 16, 2011

WVTK Local & State News September 16, 2011 (Afternoon Update)

The city of Rutland is once again connected to Mendon Brook, but the city Department of Public Works still wants residents to conserve water. Yesterday crews repaired the last bit of piping that connects Mendon Brook to the city's reservoir. It is now filling back up. Residents are still asked to conserve water until the reservoir is completely filled up, which is expected to take a couple of days.

A dozen Vermont National Guard soldiers are departing for yearlong missions in Africa and Kosovo. A send-off ceremony was held this morning at Camp Johnson in Colchester. 8 members will be transporting passengers and cargo in Africa while the other 4 members will leave for Kosovo next month to help with public affairs operations.

Victims of Irene may qualify for tax relief from the Internal Revenue Service. Individuals and business owners in disaster areas can get filing extensions and have penalties waived. Anyone in a flood zone who receives a late payment notification should call the number on the form and the penalties will be automatically abated.

Habitat for Humanity of Addison County is ready to break ground on the town of Cornwall’s first-ever affordable housing subdivision. The project off DeLong Road will eventually accommodate 4 families. The Co-chair of Habitat’s capital campaign said the project should begin within the next couple of weeks.

There's no question that Tropical Storm Irene did a lot of damage, destroying homes and businesses across the region but here is some good news ... the storm has created new jobs. Bridges have to be rebuilt, as well as homes, businesses and roads. That's why the Vermont Department of Labor is urging workers and potential employers to contact their local resource centers. There, they can be matched up based on what they are looking for.

People who have recently bought cantaloupe in New York may want to think twice before they bite into it. A major recall is underway in at least 17 states after reports of cantaloupe being infected with Listeria. A farm in eastern Colorado has recalled its entire harvest. If you bought a cantaloupe in New York, and it's not labeled, contact the store to see where it's from.

A new program aimed at getting low income families on the internet is up and running in Vermont. Yesterday state leaders joined representatives from Comcast to announce its new internet essentials initiative. The program will provide broadband internet access to families for about 10 dollars a month. Families will also be eligible for a voucher to buy a low-cost computer for 150-dollars and will have access to free digital literacy training.

WVTK Local & State News September 16, 2011

A major Vermont road that has been closed since Irene swept through the state reopened yesterday. VTrans says Route 4 has two lanes open from Rutland to Bridgewater Corners. They say the plan is to have the rest of the road up and running this morning.

The city of Rutland is once again connected to Mendon Brook, but the city Department of Public Works still wants residents to conserve water. Commissioner Alan Shelvey says conservation measures need to remain in effect because there is still work to be done on the connection. Heavy rainfall could render the brook temporarily unusable and the reservoir needs to refill.

Vermont's House speaker has appointed a Lincoln lawmaker to head the House Committee on Health Care. State Rep. Michael Fisher succeeds former Rep. Mark Larson, who stepped down from the Legislature last spring. House Speaker Shap Smith announced the appointment Thursday. He says Fisher is a leader whose expertise on health care issues is vast. Fisher, who joined the Legislature in 2001, represents Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton and Starksboro.

The major Buttolph Drive project here in Middlebury might not be completed this fall as originally scheduled due to delays from Tropical Storm Irene. This includes the paving and new sidewalks, water and sewer mains, and storm drains. The project’s main contractor, Markowski Excavating has devoted much of its manpower and equipment to dealing with storm damage in the Brandon and Pittsford areas. The good news for Buttolph Drive residents is that the new water main is in place and has been chlorinated. Its water is undergoing testing now, and the main should be on line soon. Officials also say the sewer line would be done and underground before winter.

The Bristol Planning Commission will meet next Tuesday and publicly unveil a new draft of the proposed town plan for the first time since its previous proposal was voted down in March 2010. At a hearing on the 20th at 7:30PM in Holley Hall, planners will explain the draft and field comments from local residents.

After two Bristol Zoning Board of Adjustment meetings, the future permitting of the mixed-use residential park “Bristol Works” remains up in the air. Owners of the property plan to use the 5.5-acre site to host a range of uses, including office space for the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union, a prospective health center, and manufacturing space for energy technology and value-added food products.

The Town of Shoreham is king of the hill when it comes to apple orchards. And this year, in spite of local hailstorms, torrential rains, and a tropical storm, the apple harvest is better than most growers expected. At Champlain Orchards in Shoreham they are reporting that the 2011 harvest was above average. In Rutland County, the harvest story was different. At Mendon Mountain Orchards Tropical Storm Irene didn’t help matters in what was already a bittersweet season. They are calling it a light harvest this year however their shop is open with lots of goodies and pick-your-own apple time is underway now.

The Middlebury Partnership has hired its new Marketer. Graphic designer and self-employed businesswoman Elizabeth J. Bartlett is set to assume the mantle of the Better Middlebury Partnership’s marketing director with high energy, new ideas and a growing love of the Middlebury area.

The closing of Middlebury’s Bakery Lane at its northern entrance which was due to begin this past Monday has been put off, most likely until next spring. The closure of the downtown street to accommodate repairs to the brick façade of the Dyer Block was announced last Friday. The Middlebury Development Review Board Administrator said the town was happy to hear that building owner would fix the brickwork for safety reasons. The delayed closure has been put off in time for foliage season.

Habitat for Humanity of Addison County is ready to break ground on the town of Cornwall’s first-ever affordable housing subdivision. The project off DeLong Road will eventually accommodate four families. The Co-chair of Habitat’s capital campaign said the project should begin within the next couple of weeks.

Lars Hubbard has acquired a 6,000-square-foot office building in Middlebury and is turning it into a distillery, cheese-making facility and headquarters for his small firm, known as The Friday Group LLC. He has made his living in a multitude of ways throughout the years, including as a chef, executive, entrepreneur and software designer.

Essex County Treasurer Michael Diskin of Ticonderoga recently attended the 2011 National Association of County Collectors, Treasurers, and Finance Officers annual conference in Portland, OR. While there he was selected by his peers to become the first vice president of the association for 2011-2012. Diskin had been serving as second vice president for them in 2010-2011.

A dozen Vermont National Guard soldiers are departing for yearlong missions in Africa and Kosovo. Officials say eight members of the Guard's Operational Support Airlift Detachment will leave for Fort Benning, GA today. They will eventually report for duty in Africa, where they will conduct flying operations, transporting passengers and cargo. The Guard says four other members will leave for Kosovo in October, where they will help with public affairs operations for the 157th Maneuver Enhancement Team.

Governor Peter Shumlin says Vermont's policy on undocumented farm workers is to "look the other way as much as we can." The governor clarified his position Thursday after ordering an immediate investigation into a controversial State Police traffic stop earlier in the week that resulted in the detention of two migrant farm workers from Mexico. Shumlin says Vermont farms can't survive without the undocumented workers. Some estimates put half of the state's dairy farms relying on foreign labor.

A debate is growing in Montpelier over whether state workers be entitled to double-pay after being displaced by Irene. Flood waters wiped out the state office complex in Waterbury. Hundreds of state workers were asked to report to alternate locations because of the damage, and the Vermont state employees association now says language in the union contract entitles those employees to emergency double pay. The Shumlin administration disagrees with the union's definition of an emergency. They say the actual emergency only lasted one day when all state offices were closed because of Irene.

There's no question that Tropical Storm Irene devastated many businesses across Vermont and put a lot of people out of work. However, we're now seeing another impact in Irene's wake. The storm is creating jobs. Governor Peter Shumlin says repairing the damage left behind by Irene will create countless job opportunities. Bridges have to be rebuilt, as well as homes, businesses and roads. That's why the Vermont Department of Labor is urging workers and potential employers to contact their local resource centers. There, they can be matched up based on what they are looking for.

Gov. Peter Shumlin says he's asking Washington for a public assistance declaration for Grand Isle County that would result in federal aid for repairing roads, bridges and other infrastructure damaged by Tropical Storm Irene. Damage estimates finalized Wednesday exceed the amount needed to meet the threshold for the declaration. If granted, all 14 of Vermont's counties will have qualified for federal financial help to fix public infrastructure.

In the weeks before Irene hit, Vermont's economy was running strong, pushing state revenues into the black through the first two months of the fiscal year. General fund tax collections for August were just over $90 million, almost $11 million ahead of target. That puts the state at $176 million for the fiscal year so far. That is 7.6 percent better than this same time last year and 12 percent better than two years ago.

Vermont utility companies will install smart meters in 2012, and the companies say the meters come with several advantages, including making it easier to monitor how much power you use. However you can opt out if you don’t want a meter installed but it may cost you. For example CVPS wants the Public Service Board to approve a $10 monthly fee for people who refuse smart meters. The Public Service Board has not approved any "opt out" surcharges yet. You will see utilities start installing smart meters in 2012.

Next week, after a two-year hiatus, Jaime Laredo will pick up his baton and his Stradivarius and lead the Vermont Symphony Orchestra in a tour across his home state. The VSO will embark on its 18th annual “Made in Vermont” Festival Tour, visiting eight cities and towns September 23rd through October 3rd and performing music of Haydn, Mozart, Sibelius and Honegger. The program will also feature a premiere by Robert Paterson, the Vermont Youth Orchestra’s composer in residence, written for this tour. You can catch them here in Addison County at the Vergennes Opera House on Saturday September 24th at 7:30PM. For more info just visit VSO Dot Org.

Proctor Free Library will hold its 130th Birthday Celebration from 1 to 4 tomorrow afternoon. Residents are invited to take a trip down memory lane beginning with 1881. Please bring library stories and memories to share. There will be 130 flower bulbs planted in honor of the library's birthday. There will also be a library trivia contest and refreshments.

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals announced the band would play a benefit concert on Sunday, October 9th for people impacted by Tropical Storm Irene. The concert at the Flynn Theatre is called "Goodnight Irene: Flood Relief Benefit Featuring Grace Potter & The Nocturnals with Special Guests." The band says the doors with open at 6:15PM and the concert will start at 7:00PM. Tickets range in cost from $30 to $250. They will go on sale Tuesday (the 20th) at 10:00AM either online, by phone or in-person at the Flynn.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

WVTK Local & State News September 15, 2011 (Afternoon Update)

A man from Proctor is expected to plead guilty tomorrow to charges of attempted second-degree murder. The intended victim was a Vermont State Police trooper. Sergeant Thomas Mozzer walked into the home of John Walters in 2008 on a welfare check, and Walters is accused of firing 16 shots at the trooper, who was not hurt. The case originally went to trial but ended last year in a hung jury.

State Police are investigating a report of missing copper tubing. According to the report, someone stole between 50 to 60 feet of soft copper tubing from a home in Goshen sometime between September 7th and yesterday. If you have any information, please call the State Police Barracks in New Haven. (802) 388-4919

The 3-day civil trial of the owners of Vermont Yankee who are suing the state of Vermont is over, with a ruling expected by the judge sometime next month. Entergy claims its nuclear power plant can only be closed by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, not Vermont lawmakers. The NRC has already granted a 20-year license extension for the plant, but the state says it's already prepared to appeal if it loses the case.

Several Vermont anglers are upset with a plan to remove flood debris from the Middlebury River. The anglers feel debris removal work will disturb fish habitat following the Tropical Storm Irene flood. Some members of the New Haven River Anglers club complained to the Middlebury Selectboard on Monday about its plans to partially removal organic debris from a choked section of the river located along Three Mile Bridge Road near the VAST snowmobile bridge.

The state wants to hear from the public about smart meters. The meters are designed to help manage electricity use. A panel tonight will look at concerns about privacy, having people who choose to opt out pay a monthly fee, and other issues. Vermont's two largest utilities - CVPS and Green Mountain Power - are both getting ready to install smartmeters in place of the traditional meters. The hearing will be held at Vermont's interactive television sites across the state.

A woman from Essex County will try to survive the hit CBS show "Survivor." 22-year-old Sophie Clarke of Willsboro, will be stuck on a tropical island in Samoa with 17 other contestants. The former soccer star, prom princess and valedictorian says she has prepared herself by lifting weights and reading survival books. The med student found out she'd been cast the day after graduating from Middlebury College.