Wednesday, December 28, 2011

WVTK Local & State News December 28, 2011

Vermont State Police are investigating a Burglary which took place in the Town of Monkton. Unknown individual(s) forced entry into a secured camp and pump house located at a camp. The unknown individual(s) damaged two hasps while breaking into the camp which are valued at approximately $15. Nothing was stolen from the camp. It is suspected the individual(s) who entered the camp where possibly looking for copper pipe as cabinets in the kitchen near the kitchen sink were left open. The pump house was also entered which contains piping as well. There was plastic piping in the camp and not copper pipe. Anyone with information or leads is asked to contact VSP New Haven at 1-802-388-4919

Drivers in New York will have to abide by a new law. Changes to New York's "Move Over Law" will take effect. Right now, state law requires drivers to shift lanes if at all possible when approaching flashing police lights. The law is now being expanded to also include tow trucks and other emergency vehicles. Drivers that fail to change lanes can face hefty fines.

In 2011. The state lost lawmakers. One was Richard Mallary, who had a 60-year career in public service, including a stint as a U.S. representative from Vermont during the Watergate era. John Murphy of Ludlow served 30 years in the Vermont Legislature until stepping down in 1998. Helen Stafford, widow of former U.S. Sen. Robert Stafford, R-Vt., died in February. Vermont lost several media figures. Stuart Hall, the warm, friendly weather forecaster for Channel 3 from 1954 to 1990, died in September at age 90. John Curran, the versatile Associated Press reporter and bureau chief, died in September at age 54. The state also lost artists. The eminent American poet and former Vermont poet laureate Ruth Stone of Goshen died in November. George Tooker, known for his haunting and luminous paintings, died in April. Free spirit Poppa Neutrino, an adventurer and environmentalist, died in January.

Police are investigating the theft of a diamond ring from a jewelry store at the Burlington Town Center. Police say a man asked to see the ring yesterday at the Zales Jewelry store, then took the ring and ran off. The ring is valued at about $3,200.

A sex offender who was granted probation last week after reaching a plea deal must stay in jail because he doesn't have an acceptable place to live. Scott French was deemed to be at high risk to commit another crime. He has until January 27th to find a place to live.

An incident at the Rutland jail last March involving an inmate who was held naked in a cell for more than two hours prompted an internal investigation by the Department of Corrections and a lawsuit by the former inmate who is seeking at least $200,000 in damages. State officials at the jail and Department of Corrections Commissioner Andrew Pallito have declined to comment on the incident due to the lawsuit filed in Rutland civil court. Incarcerating an inmate without clothing isn’t expressly prohibited under DOC policy. But removing their clothing as a form of punishment is off limits. “At no time will inmates be deprived of clothing ... as a means of punishment,” the DOC policy relating to custody and security in a correctional facility states. Correspondence between the jail’s perintendent and the state’s director of correctional facilities, William Lawhorn, suggest there were concerns about the incident at the highest level. In an email Lawhorn sent to Superintendent Phillip Fernandez in April, the director said he had a number of concerns. “He was made to stay in a cell naked for several hours.” Was this punishment? What is the justification and where is the documentation? The on-coming shift supervisor returned his clothing, so it appears as though there was not a justification for removing the clothes.” Lawhorn’s email also included an order for more information about who was involved, what was documented and “what you are doing so that it never happens again.”

The administration of Gov. Peter Shumlin is scrambling to come up with a plan by early January to attack what it openly acknowledges is a prescription opiate abuse problem of epidemic proportions in the state. “It’s grown so fast it’s like you’re in a tidal wave,” Shumlin’s aide Susan Bartlett said in an interview last week, speaking of the substantial addiction levels and how to confront them. “We just want to make sure we can pull something together that will work. It needs to be real.” A new Health Department memo prepared for the state Legislature’s Corrections Oversight Committee and made public offered a fresh look at the dimensions of the problem. According to the memo, 5,900 Vermonters received out-patient treatment for substance abuse problems in the last year, many of them people addicted to prescription opiates. More than half were people who were in the custody of the state’s Corrections Department. In addition, the memo said 127 people were on waiting lists for residential treatment programs and another 445 were on waiting lists at the state’s only two methadone clinics, in Burlington and St. Johnsbury.

Mohawk Valley GIS, creators of the interactive trail map and trip planner website, has just released a trail app for Android smart phone users. The iPhone version is currently in beta test and will be available shortly. The app features trail coverage for 45 counties in New York. Trails, intersections, sponsoring businesses and current GPS location’s all display without reception. Choice of street view, satellite or hybrid background maps display with reception. Users can create a route before heading out or check the mileage of any trail segment. Most importantly, riders can feel safe in unfamiliar terrain knowing that their GPS location and the trails and intersections will always display regardless of tower reception. Route creation and trail mileage checks will work regardless of reception availability also. The project is now in its third year. Snowmobile clubs can benefit from the new profit-sharing model, introduced for this season, along with numerous other new web map offerings. Complete details and screenshots for the Snowmobiling New York State app are available on the website, along with contact information for questions or to suggest new features.

Firefighters say a construction worker saved a Burlington family from an early morning blaze. The fire broke out yesterday at a home on Caroline Street in the city's south end. It is the home of UVM head basketball coach John Becker. A construction worker doing a project nearby noticed the flames on the back porch and began banging on the door until the family woke up. Fire investigators say fireplace ash disposed of in a paper bag sparked the blaze. Firefighters knocked down the flames before the blaze had a chance to damage too much of the home. "The porch was full of paper product and had that tenant opened the door they would have introduced themselves to huge plume of fire and smoke, and we know from experience that would have been of tragic consequence," Burlington Fire Marshal Terry Francis said. Fire officials say wood ash can burn for up to three days. They remind folks that it should be disposed of in a metal container with a secure lid far from the house.

The Vermont Senate may take the first step this coming session to change the state constitution to allow candidates for governor and lieutenant governor to win if they get the most votes, not necessarily a majority as the constitution currently requires.
The governor's and lieutenant governor's races in the 2010 elections were decided by the Legislature because the front runners did not win a majority vote, only a plurality. The Senate is expected to consider the proposed amendment, which also would extend the terms of statewide elected officials from two to four years. It's hard to amend the Vermont Constitution. The measure must pass the 30-member Senate with 20 votes, then pass the House by a majority. In the next legislative session, it must be approved by majorities in each chamber. It then goes to voters for their decision.

A new pain killer has drug abuse experts worried. Drug companies are working to develop a pure, more powerful version of the nation's second most-abused medicine. That has addiction experts worried that it could spur a new wave of abuse. The new pills contain the addictive painkiller hydrocodone. They pack up to 10 times the amount of the drug as medications such as Vicodin. If approved, it would mark the first time patients could legally buy pure hydrocodone. Existing products combine the drug with non addictive painkillers. Critics say abusers might crush the pills to get high. That's exactly what people do with oxycodone, which is the most-abused medicine in the U.S. The pharmaceutical firms say the new drugs give doctors another tool to help patients manage pain. The companies also say patients will be more closely supervised.

CVPS announced a $10,000 company donation and $100,000 in matching funds for CVPS Shareheat, a last-resort program that provides emergency fuel assistance to hundreds of Vermont families each year. “With federal cutbacks in the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Shareheat will be more important than ever this winter,” CVPS spokesman Steve Costello said. “As a result, CVPS is making a special $10,000 donation to Shareheat, in addition to a pledge of $100,000 in funds to match customer contributions dollar for dollar.” The $10,000 grant will be divided and paid immediately to five community action agencies that administer Shareheat funds, with the $100,000 going out as customer contributions are received and matched this winter. Donations may be mailed with a CVPS payment, or sent separately to CVPS Shareheat, 77 Grove St., Rutland, VT 05701. Vermonters who need help with a winter heating crisis should contact their local community action agency for assistance.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says New Yorkers are living longer than ever. The mayor detailed new health stats on Tuesday showing babies born in the city in 2009 have a record-high life expectancy of 80.6 years. That's an increase of 3 years since 2000 and 2½ years better than the most recently reported national average. Bloomberg and health care officials announced the figures in a maternity ward Hospital. They said anti-smoking initiatives and HIV prevention programs are helping city residents live longer. The officials said drug-related deaths and the infant mortality rate also have fallen.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

WVTKLocal & State News December 27, 2011

The historic Pulp Mill Bridge will close on Jan. 2 for an estimated 10 months of extensive repairs designed to make the span more structurally secure and durable. The 192-year-old, double-laned Bridge links Middlebury with Weybridge across Otter Creek. With some structure deterioration and other deficiencies, the span has needed repairs for several years and has been limited to one vehicle per lane at a time. But the project schedule has a funding package, had to wait for completion of the Cross Street Bridge, and deal with the discovery of bat inhabitants within the span. All of those issues have been resolved, to the extent that New York-based Alpine Construction will begin working on the Pulp Mill Bridge on Jan. 2, according to Mark Sargent, project manager for the Vermont Agency of Transportation. Alpine won the bridge repair project with a bid of 1.7 million dollars.

 “Survivor” champion and hometown hero Sophie Clarke will make her first public appearance in the region at her alma mater. Clarke will be at the Willsboro Central School on Wednesday, Dec. 28, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. School Superintendent Stephen Broadwell said “I reached out to Sophie and asked her if she would be willing to come in, He also said that the majority of the hallway and, in some cases, classroom conversation has centered around the 2007 graduate’s exploits after being named the winner of the show “Survivor: South Pacific” Dec. 18.

Tropical Storm Irene dumped a lot of water on Rutland but also held it back. While Rutland did not have the same sort of flooding as many other communities, homes on Meadow Street, Cleveland Avenue and other city streets suffered water damage. The inlet from Mendon Brook to the Rutland reservoir was destroyed. The city had a 30-day supply in the reservoir, and conservation measures were adopted to stretch that out. A back-up supply worked briefly before failing, but helped buy the city time. Mendon Brook again began flowing into the reservoir in mid-September. Mayor Christopher Louras said he still could not offer a precise estimate of the city’s damages. “Working with FEMA, it’s a broad range of anywhere between $1 to $1.6 (million) total cost, with no indication of how much is reimbursable,” he said. “FEMA is still breaking it down into individual projects.”

It’s the beginning of a critical vacation week period for ski resorts across the Northeast. A record, mild fall that featured minimal natural snowfall led to a slow start for the ski industry this year. Resorts have had to rely heavily on the costly process of manmade snowmaking early this season. Officials are hoping for a big turnout this week despite the difficult start. Bonnie Macpherson with Okemo said "There are a couple vacation periods that are a big percentage of our business overall. The rest of the week is important too, but those holiday weeks are just crucial to our overall season.

Vermont's Governor says he has a new plan to keep you safer on the roads this winter. At a news conference , Governor Peter Shumlin said it starts with giving more power to road crews when it comes to salt and brine. "There was some feeling among some of the hard working men and women that are keeping our roads safe, that for budgetary reasons they couldn't allocate what they thought was right," Shumlin said. Under the new plan, road crews can determine how much salt or brine to use regardless of what their higher-ups say or the cost. Plus, there are other changes including using brine on more locations around the State. "Salt brine is something we've been using in districts five and eight which is Colchester area and St. Albans area. It will be expanding to district three which is the Rutland area this year. And you'll also see it down I-89 in Washington County," Vtrans Operations Director Scott Rogers said. Vtrans says brine, which is a combination of salt and water, is far more effective than salt.

Middlebury’s 2012 Chili Fest will be held Saturday, March 10, according to a decision made by the town Select Board.The Board’s approval was needed to close Main Street, from Seymour Street to the Cross Street Bridge and Merchants Row from South Pleasant Street. This year’s event will start at noon and close at 6 p.m. Similar to the 2011 event, the Board approved the northeast side of the Main Street traffic rotary for the event’s beverage tent.  

Ticonderoga residents still have time to comment on a proposed revision of the town’s zoning law. About two dozen people attended a public hearing on the measure Dec. 8, most expressing concerns with the changes. Many of the complaints centered on the process, which included a residents committee, a paid consultant and a series of public information meetings. Others voiced concerns about their individual situations. The proposed law is available at the town clerk’s office. There is no deadline for comments, but Malaney expects the town board to act on the proposed law before March 31. The zoning revision project is

The UD-3 school board is considering cuts to driver’s education, dance, art and foreign languages in order to limit the increase in the 2012-2013 spending plan to around 3 percent. The UD-3 budget includes expenses for Middlebury Union middle and high schools. School directors earlier this month reviewed a 2012-2013 budget draft of $16,247,714, reflecting a 4.1-percent increase in spending just to cover contracted teacher salary raises and benefits, projected hikes in fuel and electricity costs and a rise in special education transportation expenses.

On the day after Christmas, shoppers sought great deals and retailers looked to close out the season in the black. This Christmas was a little brighter for retailers nationwide. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales went up 3.8% over last year. Now, the second half of the holiday shopping season is underway. It was a quiet start yesterday morning for what is expected to be one of the busiest shopping days of the year. The day after Christmas. One Mall in South Burlington opened early, at 8 a.m., for many expected happy returns. "We came to exchange some boots to get the right size and the color," said a Vermont resident. He, like others out early, was hoping to avoid the expected crowds. "Usually if you come early you beat the crowds you can find what you are looking for pretty quickly and get in and out that is what we are trying to do," he said. Final sales figures for the two-month holiday shopping period are expected to reach $469 billion dollars nationwide.

Friday, December 23, 2011

WVTK Local & State News December 23, 2011

The Vermont Economic Progress Council on Wednesday approved $8.3 million in incentives to create as many as 988 jobs. Incentives were approved for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Ellison Surface Technologies, eCorp English here in Middlebury and seven other companies. eCorp English was approved for job growth incentives of $464,731. The projects approved under the Vermont Employment Growth Incentive program will create 988 new jobs, $40 million in new payroll and $302 million in capital investments.

The UD-3 school board is considering cuts to driver’s education, dance, art and foreign languages in order to limit the increase in the 2012-2013 spending plan to around 3 percent. School directors earlier this month reviewed a 2012-2013 budget draft that reflected a 4.1-percent increase in spending. Board members agreed that they could not ask Addison Central Supervisory Union taxpayers to absorb a 4.1-percent budget hike next year. They asked UD-3 administrators to go back and look for some additional savings. The UD-3 board will try to finalize a 2012-2013 budget at its January 10th meeting.

In an effort to work toward level-funding for the 2012-2013 school budget, the Mount Abraham Union High School Principal presented the school board with an even slimmer spending plan that would decrease spending by 1.9 percent from this year’s $11,309,068 budget.

In Weybridge this March voters will be asked to approve a 2012-2013 elementary school spending plan of $970,277, representing a 14.55-percent decrease to reflect an ongoing trend of declining enrollment. This is the third year in a row that Weybridge school directors are pitching a reduced budget. Local voters last year OK’d a spending plan that amounted to a 6.4-percent decrease compared to the previous year.

Christmas came early for two schools in Pittsford and Clarendon. In its latest grant cycle, the James T. Bowse Community Health Trust awarded $198,248 to support healthy living programs in Rutland County, including $25,970 to the Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains and $10,000 to a regional work force investment board. But the lion’s share of grants will go to support programs at Lothrop Elementary School and Mill River Union High School for the next three years. At Lothrop the grant funding will be used to integrate gardening, cooking, nutritional lessons, composting and physical activity into a program called “Get Rid of Waste” or GROW.

Just in time for Christmas, more Vermont farms are getting help to recover from flood damage. Farms all over the state sustained heavy losses during Tropical Storm Irene. Flood water wiped out crops, killed livestock and damage buildings and equipment. The Vermont Farm Disaster Relief Fund was set up to funnel donations to farmers in need. Thursday, the fund announced its fourth round of grants totaling $897,000 and helping 126 farmers. All totaled, the fund has now paid out in excess of $1.5 million to 171 farms.

Staff from The Hub teen center updated the Bristol select-board this week on its data-recording project, increased enrollment and recent activity. Hub Director Jim Lockridge and Bristol Recreation Director Darla Senecal also made the case for extending Hub assistant Ryan Krushenick’s hours. With a background in music he offers free music lessons at The Hub, helps oversee Hub activities and organizes events.

Jay Town Supervisor Randy Douglas said Wednesday he’s seeking an unprecedented third term as chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors. The chairman traditionally serves a two-year term, and this would make Douglas the first chair in decades to go three years. The chair is elected at the county organizational meeting in January, scheduled for 10AM Tuesday, January 3rd.

Ticonderoga High School athletes enjoyed a successful fall season on the field and in the classroom. For the first time in school history, the Sentinel soccer, football and boys cross country teams have earned state scholar-athlete awards in the same season. The girls cross country team had an overall average high enough to gain the honor, but not enough runners. The New York State Public High School Athletic Association gives scholar-athletes awards to teams statewide whose members manage a 90 or better academic average during the season.

A South Burlington man is recovering from being hit by a car while crossing the street. Police say Mark Dobson was crossing the street near the Barnes and Noble in South Burlington Thursday afternoon when he was struck by a car being driven by Virginia Borrok of Shelburne. Police say she had a green light and Dobson did not have a walk signal when he crossed directly into the path of the car. He was carried for a short distance on the hood of the car and later taken to the hospital to be treated for his injuries. Police are seeking any witnesses to the crash.

States are getting an additional $845 million in federal home heating aid as winter begins. The government said yesterday it was releasing the money to help poor families and seniors stay warm. The latest funding comes in addition to the $1.7 billion that states have already received this winter for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which New England states rely on. The program will get $3.5 billion this year, a reduction of about 25% from last winter.

Emails from some top officials in the Douglas Administration were apparently deleted shortly after his administration left office. The practice came to light after the state employees union sought internal emails from officials in the Agency of Natural Resources. The state employees union says it wants to work with the Shumlin Administration to prevent records from being purged in the future.

People in Townshend are raising concerns about a suboxone clinic slated to open in their community. They worry it will attract drug addicts and invite crime to the town situated on the Upper West River. Suboxone is a prescription medication designed to ease withdrawal from opiates like heroin, OxyContin and Percocet. It is prescribed for take-home use unlike methadone, which, under federal law, can only be administered under strict controls. The Select Board held a hearing earlier this week to extinguish rumors and calm any fears.

The 112th Christmas Bird Count kicked off on December 14th and will run through January 5th. The oldest citizen science project in North America involves thousands of volunteers who count birds to help scientists learn more about bird trends, landscape changes and climate change. There's still time to join a count circle near you or become a feeder watcher! Visit the National Audubon website at

Kids at the Vermont Children's Hospital in Burlington got new toys and a visit from Santa yesterday. Vermont State Police, the City of Burlington Fire Department and Morrisville Police joined up to form "Operation Fire Cuff". The three agencies collected enough toys to fill three trucks to give to children. They also accepted monetary donations to buy additional toys. About 200 kids were able to get a toy from Santa. Plus, State Troopers handed out candy. During the visit, children had an opportunity to meet Santa and tell him what they wanted for Christmas.

While the snow has been slow to fly in most parts of New York State, snowmobile season is right around the bend. The New York State Snowmobile Association (NYSSA) is reminding snowmobilers’ throughout the state that local trails are not open until the local club has inspected and cleared trails for the 2012 season. Snowmobilers are encouraged to visit for information on local clubs as well as the latest news on snowmobiling in New York State.

Christmas is still two days away, but Rutland’s Secret Santa s has finished his rounds for the year. Since 2007, the anonymous Santa has handed out good tidings in the form of cash to people he meets on the city’s streets. Seemingly driven by the need to share his holiday cheer, the Secret Santa has said in the past that he’s a native Vermonter and by no means rich except when it comes to Christmas spirit. And this year in particular saw a need for elevating spirit.

According to a survey of some of the top radio stations in the country, here are this year's Most Popular Christmas Songs: Happy X-Mas (War Is Over) by John Lennon, It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year by Andy Williams, Have a Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives, All I Want for Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey, The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole and Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano! You can join WVTK beginning at Noon tomorrow for 36 hours of Christmas Tunes and Special Features! Beginning at Noon Christmas Day it’s another edition of “An American Christmas” hosted by Mannheim Steamrollers front-man Chip Davis! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Vermont winter resorts are stepping up their snowmaking. With a lack of natural snow, officials say they're happy about recent investments in new snowmaking equipment. Resorts are hoping a storm moving across the country's midsection brings snow by the holiday weekend.

Frankincense is a well-known element of the Christmas story and scientists are raising an alarm about future production. The trees that produce the fragrant resin used in incense and perfumes are in a decline so steep that they could be only half as many over the next 15 years. The study published in the "British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology" quoted ecologists from the Netherlands and Ethiopia that looked at large-scale field studies.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

WVTK Local & State News December 22, 2011

At Tuesday’s Middlebury Select-Board meeting, the Board approved road closures from Noon to 6PM on March 10th for Chili Fest. The Board awarded the bid for the purchase of two cruisers to the low bidder, which was Foster Motors, for $48,744. Meanwhile they awarded the engineering for the Painter Hills project to the low bidder, Phelps Engineering, for $22,076 plus construction review, estimated at $18,100. The Board continued its review of the FY13 budget. In response to the Board's input at its last meeting, staff presented additional recommendations for line-item expense reductions. The Board accepted the proposed preliminary budget of $8,417,735 and warned the public hearing on the proposed budget for Tuesday, January 17th at 7:30PM. Details on these items and more can be found on the Town’s Website.

Vermont State Police are currently investigating the theft of an unsecured 1995 Triton 10'X8' Snowmobile Trailer from a seasonal camp in Leicester. The estimated value of the trailer is approximately $500. Anyone with any leads or information is asked to contact VSP at the New Haven barracks. (1-802-388-4919)

The Vermont Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has ruled the death of 52-year-old Gerald “Dusty” Woodburn from Salisbury, a suicide, from a single gunshot to the head. On November 17, Vermont State Police Troopers responded to Woodburn's residence on Lake Dunmore Road in Salisbury, after a 911 call to state police by his girlfriend reporting a domestic disturbance.

Two Vermont women have been charged with defrauding Medicaid by collecting money for services they never received. Anne Roberts of Ferrisburgh and Rebecca Earle of Bomoseen were arrested Wednesday and charged with violating the federal health care fraud law. The two cases are unrelated, but the U.S. Attorney's office says both women engaged in similar schemes involving Choices for Care, a Vermont program that allows some Medicaid-eligible residents to hire caregivers for help with daily living activities. The women are accused of submitting false time sheets for care they never received and then pocketing the money.

The final two Vermont bridges that were closed due to Tropical Storm Irene have reopened. The Vermont Agency of Transportation said Wednesday that two bridge replacement projects on Route 12A in Roxbury have been completed and the road is now open to all traffic. The final closed road, Route 107 in Stockbridge, is on track to re-open at the end of next week. Tropical Storm Irene severely damaged more than 500 miles of state highway, including some 200 bridges.

A new video, released this week by the Vermont Community Foundation, says thank you to everyone who has contributed to Irene relief and recovery on behalf of all Vermonters. The short message is drawn from storm footage as well as recent interviews with flood victims, local heroes, and state leaders. The Community Foundation is distributing the video to share this message of gratitude with people across the state and beyond who have helped heal Vermont.

Some Essex County lawmakers say the County Department of Public Works is dragging out repairs to roads and bridges damaged by Tropical Storm Irene. The issue came up when the Public Works Superintendent asked for permission to carry over to 2012 almost $1 million from this year's highway budget. The County Public Works Committee allowed him to carry over the $1 million. A vote by the whole board will take place at the year-end meeting, set for December 27th.

Ticonderoga residents still have time to comment on a proposed revision of the town’s zoning law. About two-dozen people attended a public hearing on the measure Dec. 8, most expressing concerns with the changes. The proposed law is available at the town clerk’s office as well as online at There is no deadline for comments, but Town Supervisor Deb Malaney expects the town board to act on the proposed law before March 31st.

Test changes may make it more difficult to earn a GED in New York. That’s the concern of Maria Burke, director of the Literacy Volunteers of Essex/Franklin Counties. The New York GED test program is scheduled to make some major changes in 2014. The test will become more intellectually challenging as it its aligned with increased high school graduation requirements, it will be administered online only, there will be fewer testing sites and students will have to pay $120 to take the exam.

North Country Community College President Carol Brown is retiring. Brown will step down at the end of the spring semester 2012. President Brown indicated it was not an easy decision but one that came from a desire to spend more time with her family. The college is sad to see her go and will now move forward in the search for a new president.

An official with a Vermont youth organization says a special event sponsored by MTV helped raise more than $3,000 to help fund programs for special athletes at Essex High School. A group of Essex students who have vowed to stay away from drugs and alcohol won the event held Saturday at the Champlain Valley fairgrounds by filming and producing a 7-minute video about what their ideal weekend would be. MTV is planning to air an episode on the event at the end of next month.

Senator Bernie Sanders is praising the Environmental Protection Agency for forcing coal and oil-fired power plants to reduce emissions. The independent lawmaker says Clean Air Act standards announced by the EPA will cut toxic air pollution, such as mercury and arsenic, from U.S. power plants.

Vermont Yankee says a small amount of radioactive tritium was found in a Connecticut River water sample, but follow-up samples showed no signs of it and the finding poses no risk to public health or safety. The nuclear plant says it learned Tuesday that a small amount of tritium was found in a sample taken near the plant on November 3rd. The amount was significantly below the federal drinking water limit, and samples taken November 7th and 10th showed no signs of tritium.

There could be a third candidate in the Burlington mayor's race. Wanda Hines says she is seriously considering becoming a candidate. Hines currently works for the city's Community and Economic Development Office. She also ran the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf for nearly a decade. Hines says she is leaning toward a run for mayor and will decide in January.

A Montpelier lawyer is in the race to be the city's next mayor. This week, John Hollar announced he was seeking the city's top post. Hollar is not a newcomer to public office. The dad of school-age children has nine years on Montpelier's school board under his belt. Hollar says his priorities including tackling the city's high property taxes and the need to improve the city's roads and infrastructure.

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney began his three-day "Earn It" bus tour in New Hampshire yesterday, part of the final push before the New Hampshire primary. Governor Romney toured the Hypertherm factory in Hanover. The company has seen double-digit growth in 2011 earnings. Romney used the company's success as a vehicle for his own message that government, like business, should be forced to restructure.

Fort Ticonderoga will introduce a new series of Sunday afternoon programs running from January through April. Presented by Fort Ticonderoga staff, the programs cost $10 each and are free for members of the Friends of Fort Ticonderoga. You can learn more about these new programs by visiting the fort’s website at and selecting the “Explore and Learn” button.

Dozens of Booth Brothers farmers are celebrating their efforts to raise thousands of dollars for fellow farmers hit hard by Tropical Storm Irene. The group of 32 farms decided to donate 10 cents of every gallon of milk sold in November to the recovery effort. Together they raised more than $15,000. Yesterday, the Booth Brothers team handed over the money that it collected to the Vermont Community Foundation. Farmers are able to apply to that organization to benefit from what was raised.

The National Weather Service says there's still hope for a white Christmas in northern New England, but it probably won't be a coastal storm forecast offshore on Christmas Day. Meteorologist Tom Hawley says he has his eye on a storm on Friday that could bring "several inches" of snow. He says there'll be rain in southern New England, but it'll be snow in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Patricia Richards of West Haven has been raising and training a rare breed of dogs called Chinooks for close to nine years. For the past eight years she has entered her 9 1/2-year-old Chinook, Doonerak, in many dog competitions in the region. This past weekend, Doonerak, nationally ranked number one in her breed by The American Kennel Club, became the first Chinook to qualify and complete at the annual American Kennel Club Agility Invitational in Orlando. The show will be broadcast nationally on ABC on February 4th.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

WVTK Local & State News December 21, 2011

According to VTRANS the anticipated re-opening of the Pulp Mill Bridge that connects Middlebury and Weybridge will be in November 2012. During repairs the footbridge will be open for the most part, except when necessary to close as part of the ongoing construction or for the purpose of public safety. The Bridge will close on Monday January 2, 2012.

Rutland gave the gift of life yesterday. Organizers of the 9th annual blood drive aimed to break a national record for most blood collected at one event. Manchester New Hampshire set the record earlier this year with 1,968 pints. Rutland's marathon had three donation locations this year to accommodate everyone. And in the end, they collected 18-hundred 48 pints of blood, just about 100 pints shy of the record.

Water and sewer rates are up slightly this year in Rutland. The water rate was set at $3.314 per 100 cubic feet, the sewer treatment rate at $3.871 and the sewer maintenance rate at $.935 for a combined total of $8.12, up about 1.5 percent, from last year. The board also raised the quarterly meter fee from $19.50 to $22.50. The department described an “average” family as using 2,400 cubic feet a quarter, giving them a quarterly water bill of $217.38

Vermont State Police are currently investigating the theft of approximately $1,800 U.K. Pounds (The equivalent of $2,814.00 U.S. Dollars) from a private residence in the Town of Bridport. The victim initially noted the money was missing on October 24th of this year but did not notify authorities until yesterday. The victim felt she might have misplaced the money, which had been hiding, in her residence. After having looked through her house thoroughly she realized she had not misplaced the money and it was most likely stolen. The case is active and Troopers are pursuing leads. Anyone with information is asked to contact VSP at the New Haven barracks. (1-802-388-4919)

Essex Vermont police are warning residents to look out for homemade bombs in their mailboxes. In two cases over the weekend household chemicals were placed in plastic bottles. The bottles were shaken to build up pressure. They eventually burst. No injuries were reported. But police say if there is something suspicious in your mailbox, don't touch it. Call them instead.

Vermont State police are warning about an Internet scam involving phony rental property. Police say the scammers take information about homes listed for sale on real estate websites and create their own phony listings, offering the properties for rent. Potential renters are asked to send first month rent and security payment via Western Union and are told the keys will be mailed to them.

The Good News Garage, the charity long known for turning donated cars into life-changing transportation for the needy is sending out thousands of notices this week that are going current and former donors notifying them they are now at some risk of identity theft. The news follows a burglary at the home of an employee on November 25th when a thief broke into a locked car stealing a backpack. The backpack contained a data tape encrypted with the names, addresses and -- in some cases -- social security numbers of Good News Garage donors dating back fifteen years. Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell called the case a concern, but no reason for panic.

Police will be conducting checkpoints and watching the roads for drunken drivers through the holiday season. Starting Friday and stretching through January 2nd, State Police and local police agencies said they planned to set up a number of checkpoints to look for impaired drivers and to conduct seat belt enforcement.

The Vermont Department of Labor says the state's unemployment rate dropped three-tenths of 1% last month to 5.3%. The rate is lower than the 5.8% rate in November 2010. It's dropped six-tenths of a percentage point over the past three months. Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan calls the number good news as one measure of Vermont's economic health. Noonan said that many Vermont businesses are hiring, particularly in manufacturing, computer and web design, engineering, retail, food services and hospitality.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin has announced that two senior human services officials in his administration will be swapping jobs. Deputy Human Services Secretary Patrick Flood is being reassigned, as commissioner of mental health, while the person who had filled that job, Christine Oliver, will become the deputy secretary. Shumlin said that his recently announced long-term plan for replacement of the Vermont State Hospital and retooling the mental health system are projects for which Flood is ideally suited. Meanwhile, he says Oliver's extensive management and legal experience match well with the Agency of Human Services current needs.

IBM has given out more than $500,000 in grants to Vermont nonprofits organizations and schools. The grants have been awarded to more than 100 groups or schools around the state in recognition of employee volunteer work in 2011. IBM says 20 organizations including the Red Cross of Vermont & the New Hampshire Valley, Spectrum Youth and Family Services and the United Way of Chittenden County received $10,000 community impact grants.

Vermont will miss out on millions of dollars in federal money to support early education programs across the country. The federal government has denied the state's race to the top program application. That program awards money to states that make big education reforms. 35 states applied for $500 million in early education funding. Nine states will receive the grants ranging from $50 to $100 millions. Vermont may still be able to reapply for a second round of funding.

The Agency of Commerce and Community Development has named Dave Hakins as publisher of Vermont Life magazine. Hakins, who joined the magazine last spring as an advertising contractor, helped boost sales revenues in 2011 and oversaw several initiatives to increase the magazine’s visibility.

Vermont Law School has compiled its Top 10 Environmental Watch List, for the second year in a row. The list looks at significant decisions by courts, Congress and governmental agencies that will have a bearing on important environmental issues. The new list includes the disputed Keystone XL Pipeline, the Fukushima fallout and the EPA-White House clash over ozone standards.

Attorneys for the City of Burlington will be in federal court in February to try and stop key components of Burlington Telecom from being taken away. Burlington Telecom's lender, Citibank, filed a motion in federal court to force the city to immediately return leased equipment. In court documents, Citibank says the judge should agree because Citibank is likely to win at trial. Citibank claims the longer it has to wait the more money it will lose.

The town of Alburgh is losing its only bank. People's United Bank announced Tuesday it's closing the Alburgh branch after the New Year. For the bank, it's the third closure announced over the past two days. People's United says it's closing branches on Williston Road in South Burlington and also at the 5 Corners in Essex Junction. The bank won't say how many employees are affected, but those at closing branches can apply for other jobs within the company.

Victims of Tropical Storm Irene can now get some emotional support. The mental health association in Essex County, New York is offering counseling services for individuals, businesses and community groups hit by the storm. People in Essex and Clinton county can get help, free of charge. The program is funded by a grant from FEMA. If you have questions call the project coordinator at (518) 524-9616.

Schroon Lake will have a new holiday celebration this year. The Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce has dropped sponsorship of its annual Old Tyme Christmas celebration after 25 years. Instead, the chamber will hold First Night December 31st. The town has had a lot of requests for a First Night according to the chamber president. The family-oriented evening will include magic, music, dancing, children’s activities, food, a bonfire and fireworks. More information can be obtained by calling the Schroon Lake Chamber office. (532-7675)

Fort Ticonderoga honored Belva Blood at its staff Christmas party. More than 50 employees joined together in thanking Blood for her long-time service to Fort Ticonderoga. She began work at Fort Ticonderoga in 1975 working in the Log House Museum Store and admissions where she greeted visitors through the 2010 summer season. Belva was fondly recognized by her colleagues as holding the record of highest sales in the shortest time in Museum Store.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

WVTK Local & State News December 20, 2011

Beginning Monday, January 2nd the historic Pulp Mill Bridge in Middlebury will be closed for repairs and restoration for an extended period of time. Officials say a definitive date for the opening will be announced once it’s clearly known. The circa-1820 covered bridge will get a major face starting in 2012. Middlebury and Weybridge town officials said the ailing wooden bridge would be extensively rehabilitated, including fixing 19th-century design errors. The construction project will cost $2.6 million. Construction will create some traffic snarls for commuters using the bridge, which connects Middlebury and Weybridge. The bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and is called a Burr-arch bridge.

The Moriah Central School Board meets this evening in the High School library. Agenda items include bid opens for cabinetry and reports on revenue and 2011 uncollected taxes. The public is welcome to attend. Also, happening today will be the annual Senior Citizens Christmas Dinner from 4 to 6PM and then at 7 elementary students will perform a Christmas concert in the auditorium.

A panel of Vermont lawmakers that has been reviewing the state's public records law plans to issue its report to the full Legislature next month. Sen. Claire Ayer says it appears poised to restrict access to academic research at the University of Vermont and Vermont State Colleges, except for that involving the care and treatment of animals. The committee has been delving into the more than 200 exemptions from the underlying Vermont law that says records generated by the various arms of government need to be open for inspection by members of the public. Ayer says the committee will recommend that records having to do with health care provided to individuals remain private.

The Vergennes Union High School Board is now looking at a third budget draft for the 2012-2013 academic year that could raise spending by 2.47 percent to a little more than $9 million. VUHS Co-principals Ed Webbley and Peter Reynolds made the recommendations to the board last week. They also shared with the board the outline of what another level-funded budget could mean in terms of reductions in force. However they did not make specific recommendations at the last meeting. Next year, the VUHS enrollment is projected to drop by 30 students to 585, and by 2013 it will fall to 525.

According to “Time” magazine it’s the year of the protester and Ripton’s Bill McKibben has made it onto the “People Who Mattered” list in the magazine’s annual year-in-review issue. However he stressed, it’s not his accomplishments exclusively that landed him in the national media this year, it’s everyone who participated in the actions coordinated by environmental group, which he co-founded with students at Middlebury College.

Gerry Gossens’ volunteer contributions have been recognized throughout New England. The Salisbury resident received the New England Healthcare Assembly’s “Trustee Leadership Award” this month. The award is given annually on a hospital trustee in the Northeast who has made exceptional contributions to the health care industry. Over the years he has collected various awards and received recognition for his service in the state Legislature and on the leadership boards of more than a dozen local and statewide nonprofits.

Students in the Middlebury College Environmental Studies Senior Seminar have been busy analyzing Vermont’s forgotten dams and have proposed guidelines for removing or developing the existing infrastructure. Vermont’s forgotten dams are mostly small structures tucked away on streams and brooks, once used in small-scale milling operations. Most have been dormant for a century.

The Town Of Killington’s auditor has confirmed that there is $639,401 in undesignated cash the town can use to offset the 2012 budget. According to Town Manager Seth Webb it will completely cover the budget deficit for next year of less than $160,000. Before the money was found in the town's latest audit report the municipal tax rate was expected to jump 2.5 cents next year. Depending on the discussion tonight at the Select Board's regular meeting, utilizing some of these funds could allow the Select Board to avoid increased taxes.

The Moriah Food pantry is getting a holiday gift from a group of students at the Yandon Dillon Center in Mineville. Champlain Valley Educational Services students sold soup and cookies during the holiday season to raise money for the local food shelf. They raised $250. Students from Moriah, Crown Point, Schroon Lake and Ticonderoga schools took part in the project. The Moriah Food Pantry is seeing major cutbacks to its donations and increased number of patrons this year.

The Essex County Layoffs Committee has chosen the 10 jobs that will be eliminated next year. The 2012 county budget cuts nine full-time positions and one part-time slot to save money, and County Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas said he appointed a three-person subcommittee to decide who goes. The list is not yet ready for public release but they expect that would be done later this week. The County Manager said those people laid off will go on recall status, so if other jobs open, they can return to county employment.

A Vermont high school principal hired to boost academic performance at Winooski High School is leaving before the end of his 3-year contract. Justin Brown submitted his resignation last month, effect June 30, the end of the second year of the 3-year federal School Improvements Grants program. The Burlington Free Press reports Brown felt that his "skill set as an administrator is not the match for the challenges" facing Winooski High School." In 2010 Winooski High school was identified as 1 of Vermont's 10 lowest-achieving schools.

A plan to sell Fletcher Allen Health Care's five outpatient dialysis clinics has been dropped after a top Vermont official said he would reject the proposal. Fletcher Allen said Monday it would not pursue the plan. State officials said Bio-Medical Applications of New Hampshire had withdrawn its application to buy the clinics.

Vermont businesses tied to the future of one of the world's more distinctive brands expressed concern Monday after the carmaker filed for bankruptcy. The chief executive of SAAB Automobile hand-delivered an application for bankruptcy protection to a Swedish judge after talks with General Motors and Chinese investors interested in taking over the niche carmaker collapsed last week.

The attorney general's office says it wants 27 Burlington landlords to prove they're in compliance with the state's laws about lead in housing. Attorney General William Sorrell says 80% of Vermont's rental housing units were built before 1978 when lead-based paint was banned.

Vermont's largest city is considering an outdoor smoking ban. The Burlington City Council is looking at an ordinance that would exempt smoking on private property and on stretches of sidewalk leased by the city to cafes and restaurants. If approved, the resolution would be forwarded to a committee for refinement. A separate ordinance under consideration would set aside part of City Hall Park for smokers.

Studies have shown that Tai Chi can improve balance, flexibility, and muscle strength while relieving chronic pain in joints. CVAA is offering several Tai Chi classes in Addison County for resident age 50 and over. There is no charge for classes, which are open to anyone age 50 and over (donations are appreciated). Volunteer leaders are certified through the Arthritis Foundation. Call Cindy at ext. 1028 at CVAA 1-800-642-5119 for more information. 

The LaChute Road Runners Club of Ticonderoga is planning its 10th annual Resolution Run on New Year’s Day 2012. The event will include a five-kilometer run and a four-kilometer walk. Both events will begin and end at the Community Building on Montcalm Street at 11AM. The course follows Lake Champlain Avenue to Water Street to Lake George Avenue back to Montcalm Street. Registration will be that day beginning at 10:15AM at Bicentennial Park. Registration fee is $2 or two food items. All proceeds will be donated to the local food pantry. For more information just visit

Some seminal documents from Vermont's first century as a state are now available online. Secretary of State Jim Condos says his office's website now includes a link to the work of the Council of Censors, a 13-member body that met every seven years from 1777 to 1870 to review the actions of state government and to propose amendments to the Vermont Constitution. In 1869, the Council recommended women's suffrage about a half-century before it became the law of the land nationally. It recommended the creation of a state Senate in 1835, but against the idea of having legislative sessions every year. 1 of the Council's final recommendations was for its own abolishment and replacement with something very much like the current system for amending the Constitution.

The National Weather Service says the latest outlook opens the door to a sliver of hope for a white Christmas in northern New England. Meteorologist Stacie Hanes says the forecast calls for a low-pressure system to develop off the coast, bringing the possibility of rain or snow on Christmas Day. She says it's too early to predict with any certainty what will happen. But she says it "looks like some snow is possible."

Monday, December 19, 2011

WVTK Local & State News December 19, 2011

The Town of Middlebury will hold a special Select Board Meeting tomorrow evening at 7 in Town Offices Conference Room. Items on the agenda include Chili-Fest coming up in March, a report on incorporating Bike-Friendly Elements to Public Works Projects that includes a follow-up to Presentation to the Downtown Improvement District by Andrew Gardner. There will be an FY13 Budget discussion, deliberation & decision on the budget amount to be warned for public hearing on January 17th as required by Town Charter. More information is always available at Town Of Middlebury's website.

Last night CBS aired the finale of this season's reality series, Survivor. 22-year-old Sophie Clarke of Willsboro, NY won the million dollars and title of sole survivor. The Middlebury College graduate said she studied survival guides for weeks beforehand. The final immunity challenge came down to just her and veteran player OZZY. The win is determined by a jury vote and competitors chose Sophie as the winner.

The cost of the new Lake Champlain Bridge is running 8-9% over budget. Public records requested by the Burlington Free Press of New York, Vermont and federal agencies show that what started as a $69.6 million construction bid has become $75 million and is likely to reach $76 million. The newspaper says that much of the added cost is due to completing the bridge on an accelerated schedule. It also cites a report showing that cost overruns on transportation projects are not unusual. The new bridge carries an estimated average of 3,000 cars a day.

Fewer than 200 students are attending Proctor Junior - Senior High School this year. About 50 years ago that number was 500 or more. The school and town are living the effects of the absence of industry. And now the school is up for debate. On Saturday, community members, parents and high school staff had a talk on how to keep the school open and affordable and how to keep the community together. Across the state, other school districts face a similar challenge as enrollments dwindle. Saturday’s audience considered things like partnering with other schools, creating a magnet high school and consolidating or merging Proctor with other school unions or districts.

Rutland City Aldermen trimmed roughly $700,000 from the proposed budget at the end of last week. Mayor Christopher Louras came to the board with an $18.3 million budget, an increase of 5.4 percent over last year. By the end of the meeting late Thursday night, the final number was an increase of 1.3 percent from last year. The budget now goes before city voters on Town Meting Day.

The results of an income survey in Proctor promises to save more than $1 million in payments on a 30-year water bond. The $6.1 million bond, passed by voters in 2010 for improvements to the town water system, originally qualified for an interest rate of 0.2 percent under the state’s Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund. Now the estimated rate is -1.9 percent due to the results of a survey that indicated the median household income in town was lower than state estimates.

Vermont’s congressional delegation announced that Vermont would receive $19.5 million in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding for Fiscal Year 2012. The funding level is less than the $26 million Vermont received in FY2011 but more than the $11 million proposed by President Obama. LIHEAP funding is included in a FY2012 omnibus appropriations bill, which passed the House Friday afternoon and was scheduled to be voted on in the Senate over the weekend.

The childhood poverty rate for Essex County is 19.3 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s an increase from 17.1 percent five years ago. In Ticonderoga 21.4 percent of people age 17 and younger live in poverty. In Crown Point it’s 20.9 percent, Moriah 17.4 percent and Schroon 8.2 percent. Overall, 13 percent of Essex County residents live in poverty, according to the government. Essex County is near the national average, 19.8 percent in childhood poverty. The county is slightly better than the state average of 20 percent. All of those numbers have increased in the past five years.

Glens Falls National Bank & Trust Co. has received a Superior 5-Star rating from BauerFinancial Inc., a rating it has earned for the last 19 consecutive quarters. Glens Falls National was established in 1851 and has been providing financial services to its local communities for 160 years. It currently operates through 29 offices in five counties in Upstate New York.

Rep. Bill Owens has joined the New York Farm Bureau in praising new, common-sense guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that affect nutrient and waste management in the agriculture community. The original guideline created by the Natural Resource Conservation Service for Nutrient Application Timing and Placement did so without taking into account the already satisfactory rules and performance related to nutrient management in New York. Most troubling in the original guidelines was a section that almost banned manure spreading during the winter months.

A panel of Vermont lawmakers that's been reviewing the state's public records law plans to take up several more exemptions to disclosure this week. The Public Records Legislative Study Committee will meet today and start reviewing whether materials related to academic research or creative efforts at the University of Vermont and state colleges should be exempt from public disclosure.

The likely death of a planned nuclear waste site at Nevada's Yucca Mountain has left federal agencies looking for a possible replacement. Now, a national lab working for the U.S. Department of Energy is eying granite deposits stretching from Georgia to Maine as potential sites, along with big sections of Minnesota and Wisconsin where granite is prevalent. Andrew Orrell, who headed up a site study for the Sandia National Lab in New Mexico, says it would be premature for anyone to worry about his or her neighborhood becoming a potential high-level waste site.

The Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity at the University of Vermont is no more. The Fraternity’s executive director Brian Warren announced the decision to shut down the UVM chapter immediately. The move comes after a week of headlines about a survey tied to the fraternity that asked students a controversial question regarding rape. In a statement Warren said, "Without suggesting that every member had knowledge of this questionnaire, the questions asked in the document are deplorable and absolutely inconsistent with our values." The University's own investigation will continue.

South Burlington police are reminding motorists to lock their cars after a sudden increase in thefts from cars in the city. Police are asking community members to be vigilant and report suspicious activity. Police say it's also helpful if motorists remove valuables and lock their vehicles. They say few of the thefts from cars involved forced entry.

Starting this spring, Delta will offer daily flights to New York's LaGuardia airport from Burlington. Delta currently does not serve Vermont, but starting in late March, the major air carrier will offer three flights a day to LaGuardia and three flights back. Those flights on regional jets are set to begin in late March. US Air is currently the only other airline offering flights to LaGuardia.

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department wants to hear from young hunters. The department is seeking entries into the 2011 Young Hunting Memories Contest. The hunters are asked to submit an essay or artwork about their time out on a hunt. Essays should describe why hunting is important to the writer as well as tell a story about a hunting experience. The winners in three age categories will get special prizes from the department and Beagle Outdoor Wear. Winners will be announced on January 21st at the Yankee Classic Sportsman's Show in Essex Junction. The deadline for submissions is December 31st.

MTV threw a big party for high school students at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Junction on Saturday. Essex beat out hundreds of other schools as part of the "MTV/Above the Influence Unwasted Weekend" challenge. The event was more than teaching kids they can have fun without drugs or alcohol. The Essex students decided money raised from ticket sales would help kids with special needs play sports. The event has already raised more than $2,000 for the Essex High School Unified Sports Team. That will help the students participate in the Summer Special Olympics Games.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Visitors Center & Café in Waterbury re-opened Saturday. The shop's basement was flooded destroying inventory and the heating and cooling system. Café employees say although it was a lot of hard work it was worth the effort. The café also did some remodeling, with more seating space for customers. The restaurant was also able to bring back all of its employees.

Friday, December 16, 2011

WVTK Local & State News December 16, 2011

The Hannaford Supermarket chain says it is recalling ground beef with a sell-by date of Dec. 17 or earlier because it may be contaminated with salmonella. The Scarborough, Maine-based Company says in a statement Friday it has received information indicating 10 people have become ill. All have indicated they purchased ground beef between October 12th and November 20th. Hannaford says it is confident in the safety of its products and that all ground beef affected by the recall has been removed from stores. The company says customers should return or dispose of ground beef with the December 17 or earlier sell-by dates.

Writer and environmental activist Bill McKibben says he's disgusted with a push by Republicans in Washington to tie approval for an extension of a middle-class tax cut to a speedy OK for a pipeline to carry oil from western Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas. McKibben, a scholar in residence at Vermont's Middlebury College, has been a leader of efforts to block construction of the pipeline. President Barack Obama is supporting a delay in a final decision on the pipeline. Republicans say work needs to get under way now to generate new jobs.

Ripley Bridge Rutland is scheduled to close from 1 to 3 this afternoon. Central Vermont Public Service Corp. will be performing “customer-requested work” at the one-lane bridge. The work should not result in any power outages in the area.

The Middlebury Fire Department and Bread Loaf Corp. architects have put the last major touches on the design of a renovated and expanded Seymour Street fire station. Middlebury voters will decide at Town Meeting Day in March as part of a $4.8 million bond issue. The biggest design change is the relocation of the new elevator shaft from the building’s exterior to its interior. Firefighters are planning additional public meetings about the project in late January or early February, along with a Middlebury Community Television documentary and a mass-mailed flyer to explain details.

The Better Middlebury Partnership is circulating a marketing survey to get a sense from local shoppers and merchants about how the town could improve its retail, parking, restaurant and housing amenities. The 17-question survey is based on a similar questionnaire that the University of Vermont administered in the town of Newport a few years ago. Respondents are asked to weigh in on a series of topics.

Middlebury select-board Chairman John Tenny said earlier this week he will not seek another three-year term on Town Meeting Day. His retirement from the select-board comes at the end of a more-than-16-year run. Tenny’s position on the select-board will be one of three up for grabs on Town Meeting Day next March. He is most proud of the professional culture that grew within the town staff and select-board that helped bring about results.

Crews in Rutland contained a fuel oil spill on Cleveland Avenue yesterday morning. According to Rutland City Police, about 100 gallons of fuel oil leaked from a delivery truck overnight due to a faulty valve. Police said there is no danger to the community and no evacuation had been ordered. The fuel did not reach East Creek based on preliminary tests despite getting into a nearby storm drain.

Administrators at Mount Abraham Union High School are working this week at a 2012-2013 budget proposal, hoping to have a zero-percent spending increase. This task comes after Gov. Peter Shumlin asked school districts statewide to level fund their budgets for the third straight year. But right now officials on the Mount Abe school board aren’t sure that’s possible.

Last Sunday ended the muzzleloader and bow deer season. It brought no more good news for local hunters than the end of November’s rifle season. The numbers of deer weighed at local reporting stations this month declined dramatically from recent years. The drop for the combined results for October’s bow season and December’s muzzleloader and bow season was even steeper.

After some ups and downs over the last couple of years, it looks like Middlebury College is out of the woods financially. That’s according to Patrick Norton, vice president and treasurer at the college. Norton said that although the school’s endowment has rebounded to $825 million from its low point in March 2009, the financial crisis has changed the way the school handles its money.

Christmas came early for Ticonderoga officials. Supervisor Deb Malaney learned earlier this month the community has been included in the state’s $785 million Regional Economic Development Council initiative. Ticonderoga will receive $598,575 for water and sewer improvements on John Street and $270,000 to install a fuel station at the town airport. The Regional Economic Development Council initiative also funded two other local projects. The Fort Ticonderoga Association received $20,320 for a historic preservation planning report and the town of Hague got $44,000 for a Hague Brook storm water reduction program.

Essex County lawmakers say talks have broken down on a pay freeze for union workers next year. County employees represented by the Civil Service Employees Association local unit are due for a 4 percent pay hike in 2012, the last year of a four-year contract. Numerous efforts by the County Board of Supervisors to get the union to agree to suspend the raises have been unsuccessful. The county passed a new budget this week with 10 layoffs and a 10.5 percent tax increase. Another 10 unfilled jobs will be eliminated.

National Grid's electricity customers in upstate New York will see cuts in their bills next year after regulators approved a reduction in what the utility charges to deliver power. The state Public Service Commission said that residential customers will see an average 6 percent drop and some business customers will see cuts as much as 23 percent. The savings will be driven by an 11 percent cut in residential delivery charges and 44 percent for some businesses. The decrease follows expiration of charges dating to before National Grid's acquisition of Niagara Mohawk.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood announced updated fatality and injury data showing that highway safety deaths fell to the lowest level since 1949. When presented with this notable achievement, Vermont Department of Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn pointed out that 2010 Vermont traffic fatalities fell 4.1 percent from 2009, exceeding the national reduction by 1.2 percent. Flynn attributed, in part, the reason for the decline to collaborative efforts between traffic safety educators, law enforcement, traffic engineers and emergency medical responders.

It's that time of year again, when the Christmas lights go up, candles become more prominent and home fires skyrocket. That's why area firefighters are reminding everyone to be aware of holiday hazards. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, fires occurring throughout the holiday season claim 400 lives nationally, injure more than 1,600 people and cause more than $990 million in fire damage each year.

There is a new international flight in and out of Burlington that could be a boost to Vermont's ski industry. Tourism leaders hope Canadians might be tempted to ski in Vermont now that there is a direct link between Burlington and Toronto. Yesterday afternoon Porter Airlines' inaugural flight from Toronto landed at Burlington International Airport. There will be two roundtrip flights a week through ski season. Though the hope is the hour long trip becomes year round.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin is defending his administration, saying it should not be the target for criticism for the state's treatment of vulnerable adults. Yesterday's comment was in response to a lawsuit filed Thursday by Vermont Legal Aid and Disability Rights Vermont. The groups say the state has too many backlogged cases and is not investigating reports of abuse quick enough. Shumlin says it's not his fault. He says his administration inherited this problem from past governors. The groups, which filed the lawsuit, have asked the judge to schedule a status conference for as soon as possible.

Vermont is already known as the Green Mountain State, but by 2050 it also wants to be known as a green energy state. Officials released their final comprehensive energy plan yesterday. Officials say they want to use 90% renewable energy in all sources by then, focusing on transportation and home heating. Currently, one fourth of Vermont's energy is green, and the Department of Public Service Commissioner Elizabeth Miller says that's proof the state can meet the new goal. Vermont has not had a long-term energy plan since 1991.

If you are looking for a little free financial advice after suffering damage from Tropical Storm Irene you might just qualify for a program recently announced by the New England chapter of the Financial Planning Association. They are offering free, no-strings-attached financial advice to those affected by the August 28th storm. You can call them toll free at (888) 562-8784.

A passenger rail study, jointly supported by Vermont and New York, is closing in on a recommended proposal for bringing passenger trains into Bennington County from Albany and north to Rutland. Details of the proposal were discussed at a public meeting Tuesday. In the first phase of the study, alternatives were ranked based on factors like projected ridership, operational and maintenance costs, implementation costs and environmental impact. All of the alternatives were based only on existing rail lines.

Our Toys For Kids toy drive is heading into its final weekend and we need your help. The program helps brighten a child’s Christmas right here in and around Addison County and all donations remain local. The Department Of Vermont Marine Corps League sponsors Toys For Kids. You can drop off a new unwrapped toy at locations in Brandon, Bristol, Middlebury, Orwell, Shoreham and Vergennes. Get the details right now by clicking HERE. Your generous support is much appreciated!

Union members representing service and maintenance workers at the University of Vermont have ratified a new contract. The union says the deal provides 4.5% to 5.5% pay raises over three years and doesn't increase health insurance amounts paid by active employees.

A homeless dog in Wisconsin named L.L. Bean has found a new home in Maine, thanks to the company he's named after. The Dunn County Humane Society in Wisconsin received a call from an employee at L.L. Bean's Freeport headquarters after a local TV station ran a story about the Coonhound that had been in the shelter for more than a year. The story of L.L. Bean the dog was shared on L.L. Bean's company Intranet site, and a customer service representative was chosen to be the dog's new owner. L.L. Bean is expected to arrive in Maine in early January.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

WVTK Local & State News December 15, 2011

The Addison County Chamber Of Commerce After Hours Business Mixer and the Ticonderoga Chamber’s Mixer will both take place this evening. Addison County’s will be held at the Waybury inn in East Middlebury from 5 – 7PM. The entry fee is a donation to the Addison County Humane Society. Meanwhile The Ticonderoga Historical Society and Ticonderoga Arts will co-host their event from 5:30 to 7PM. Appetizers, soft drinks and beverages will be served upstairs in the library and desserts will be served downstairs in the gallery.

This week at the Middlebury Select Board meeting, Town Planner Fred Dunnington, introduced the concept of Property Assessed Clean Energy Districts. PACE Districts, which must be authorized by Town Meeting vote, allow property owners to finance energy efficiency improvement projects through a program, which is currently being set-up by Efficiency Vermont. Working with the River Steering Committee, Project Manager Amy Sheldon prepared and submitted an application for $15,000 from the State's Watershed Grant Program for river modeling and to plan and design river management strategies. Meanwhile the Fire Department project remains on schedule and within budget. And the Board continued its review of the FY13 budget. Staff presented additional recommendations for revenue enhancements and line-item expense reductions and the Select Board asked for the review of wage and overtime line items in various budgets. A public hearing on the FY2013 budget proposal will be held on Tuesday, January 17th.

The Board of Trustees of Ilsley Public Library will have a vacancy in March for a five-year term. The Board of Trustees is authorized by state statute and has five members. Members set library policies, oversee long-range planning, advocates for the library, and promotes it use. The Board works with the Middlebury Select Board to provide appropriate funding. Persons interested in serving are invited to run for the board at the March town elections. All candidates must be registered voters in the Town of Middlebury. A petition is required and may be obtained from the Middlebury Town Clerk’s office or the library and must be submitted to the town clerk by January 30th.

Rutland City Alderman Ed Larson will not seek a second term. Larson said yesterday he would not run again due to health reasons. While Larson said he would have liked to serve longer, he originally planned to stay for no more than three terms. Several of the other five aldermen whose terms are up in March were noncommittal yesterday.

Health insurers in New York will no longer be allowed to require policy holders to have their prescriptions filled by mail under a bill signed into law that is considered win for local drug stores and for immigrants. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the law approved by the Legislature earlier this year on Tuesday. It would require prescriptions filled by the local pharmacy to cost no more than the mail order prescriptions some health insurers prefer.

There are more signs of Vermont's economic recovery in a new jobs report. The recruiting software company Bullhorn says Vermont is leading the nation in job creation in the last year. According to the report, Vermont saw a 62 percent increase in job openings in 2011 compared to 2010. Other New England states have seen far fewer jobs available. Maine had an increase of 21 percent, New Hampshire had an increase of 20 percent and Massachusetts had an increase of just 11 percent.

There are new developments regarding an accusation that a Salvation Army bell ringer was attacked on Church Street in Burlington. A longtime volunteer claimed a drunken man attempted to steal her kettle Tuesday. Marjorie Burns of Burlington told police that a man tried to swipe her donation kettle in front of the Burlington Town Center. She told police she confronted the man, so he hugged her and left without any money. Police arrested Nathan Miner, 49, of South Burlington, for the attempted theft. But Wednesday evening, Burlington Police said Burns made up the story. She was cited for false report and is due in court in February. She could face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

A University of Vermont fraternity suspended over a survey that asked members who they would like to rape is getting a visit from a representative of the fraternity's national headquarters. The national Sigma Phi Epsilon organization says in a statement that is has instructed the chapter to cease all operation, pending further investigation. It says that any behavior that demeans women is not tolerated.

Prosecutors are planning to drop a charge of attempted murder against a Vermont man stemming from a shooting over a heroin dispute. Their reason is that a federal grand jury indicted 28-year-old Dean Heffernan on a gun charge arising from the August shooting in Hinesburg. The Burlington Free Press reports Heffernan pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court to the charge earlier this week.

Groups representing the elderly and disabled in Vermont have filed suit against the state over what they say is its failure to investigate many instances of abuse by caregivers. The Community of Vermont Elders and Disability Rights Vermont say the state Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living has been promising for a year to correct a backlog of 150 to 300 cases of alleged financial exploitation and physical abuse of elderly and disabled Vermonters, but has not kept the promise.

A national research group says Vermont is among the top-ranking states for the quality of its job subsidy programs. The Washington-based group Good Jobs First says many states do not do a good job making sure that their job subsidy programs. But the group ranks Vermont with North Carolina and Nevada as the states doing the best job making sure taxpayers get their money's worth from the job subsidy programs.

Continuing efforts to recover from Tropical Storm Irene in areas of Vermont and New Hampshire are getting a $75,000 boost from private groups in the two states. The group Upper Valley Strong is made up of 50 local nonprofit agencies, churches, schools and government agencies. The award came from the Granite United Way, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and The Vermont Community Foundation.

Burke Mountain is the latest Vermont ski resort with big expansion plans on the table. The Northeast Kingdom ski area is seeking Act 250 approval to add 32 housing units and other amenities. Plans call for the housing mostly to be clustered along the edges of existing developed. The average market value of the homes is expected to be about $500,000.

St. Mary’s School in Ticonderoga is the first in the area to have Kindles’ for its students. The Kindles were purchased for students in grades 5 through 8 recently using an anonymous donation in the memory of Eleanor Smith of Putnam. Smith, a long-time St. Mary’s benefactor, died this fall. A Kindle allows wireless access to books, newspapers, magazines, blogs and other digital media. The St, Mary’s students have lessons on the tablet, which also contains reference materials like dictionaries and maps.

Molly Bechard has been named visitor and member service representative/office assistant with the Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce. She was introduced at the chamber’s annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner and Awards Ceremony. For more information on the Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce just visit

Are YOU dreaming of a White Christmas? Climate experts at Cornell University have made their annual predictions about the probability of a white Christmas, while noting that December is shaping up as the 12th month in a row of above-normal temperatures in the Northeast. Pinkham Notch, NH tops the list from the Northeast Regional Climate Center with a 95% probability of an inch or more of snow on the ground on December 25th. The predictions are based on a 50-year average.

The Vermont State Police and other law enforcement agencies will be conducting sobriety checkpoints in Vermont during the weekends of the holiday season. Police say the goal is to detect and apprehend drivers under the influence of alcohol or any drug that impairs the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

PBS’s “This Old House” is working on its winter project to renovate a Rhode Island beach house that will feature at least 35 signature light fixtures created by the Hubbardton Forge in Castleton. The show’s host, Kevin O’Connor, was at the Vermont lighting factory Tuesday to film a segment of the 10-episode show that premieres nationally in January. HDTV’s Property Brothers will also highlight Hubbardton Forge in an episode. The company was previously featured in the Science Channel’s “How It’s Made.” The episode of “This Old House” featuring Hubbardton Forge will air in March.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

WVTK Local & State News December 14, 2011

Addison County Transit Resources has announced the kick-off of its daily winter service thru March 2nd of next year to Middlebury College’s Snow Bowl and Rikert Nordic Center. This Saturday and Sunday the Winter Schedule begins. As of Monday the 19th the Monday through Friday Winter Schedule begins. For more information, please call 388-1946 or go to

Sixty of Vermont’s largest commercial, industrial, municipal, and institutional energy users have joined Efficiency Vermont’s Energy Leadership Challenge, a two-year effort to reduce energy use at participating organizations by 7.5 percent by June 30, 2013. Local businesses and organizations include: Basin Harbor Club, Carris Reels, Inc., Castleton State College, Green Mountain College, Killington Pico Ski Resort Partners LLC, Middlebury College, Rutland Plywood Corporation, and Rutland Regional Medical Center.

The search committee that will select a new police chief in Rutland held its first meeting to find a replacement for Chief Anthony Bossi, whose retirement is less than a month away. A 13-member search committee made up of the city’s police commission, other elected officials and members of the public, talked about the steps for selecting a new chief, starting with the hiring of a search firm that would find and screen potential candidates.

Rutland city bridges appear headed for the March ballot. The Public Works Committee voted unanimously at a meeting this week to recommend putting a $2 million bond before voters at town meeting. The money would help cover the city’s share of work on seven bridges over five years.

Gov. Peter Shumlin says he wants to replace the Vermont State Hospital with a new 15-bed hospital in Berlin and regional facilities in Brattleboro and Rutland that would have a total of another 20 beds. He outlined his plans to replace the state hospital yesterday in Montpelier where members of his administration joined him and mental health advocates. But state Rep. Anne Donahue says the governor's plan takes Vermont's mental health system back 20 years because it does not integrate mental health care with medical care.

Vermont legislators looking at the future of the state office complex in Waterbury have been told by the Shumlin administration it will be at least two years before all workers are relocated. Administration secretary Jeb Spaulding told the committees the Shumlin administration is just starting to sift through 10 proposals for the future of state offices, including re-using the Waterbury campus, or moving the offices elsewhere.

Top officials in New England state governments say they'll be hard-pressed to make up for planned cuts at the federal level in home heating aid. The Obama administration has proposed cutting money for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program in half. In a conference call yesterday, the governors of Vermont and Rhode Island and the lieutenant governors of Massachusetts and Connecticut warned that a big cut in heating aid could leave some low-income residents unable to heat their homes this winter. They also say cash-strapped states will not be able to make up the difference.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont says an agreement by the U.S. Postal Service to delay the closing of 252 mail processing centers and 3,700 local post offices by five months gives Congress more time to consider postal form legislation. Tuesday's announcement comes after Sanders and a small group of senators met with the U.S. postmaster general and the chairman of the US Postal Service Board of Governors on Monday. The closings under consideration include the mail processing facility in White River Junction, which would cost 245 jobs.

The National Guard has earned a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The final version of the defense-spending bill includes a provision co-authored by Sen. Patrick Leahy giving the guard equal standing with the other branches of the armed forces. For decades the guard was a reserve force of "weekend warriors" undermanned and ill equipped. But in recent years guard units have been called upon to be frontline forces. Leahy has helped fight for more funding for the guard. This move will give guard commanders’ greater say over how their forces are utilized.

UVM Police say they caught a campus peeping tom. 29-year-old Travis Blair now faces a voyeurism charge and is due in court next January. No word on how police tracked him down. Police say he got into the Tupper Hall dormitory Monday around noontime and snapped a photo of a female student taking a shower. Other students had also reported seeing someone matching the same description hanging around the dorm over the last few days.

The University of Vermont temporarily suspended a fraternity after a questionable questionnaire. Administrators call the social survey "highly-offensive" because of a question about rape. The school is investigating and notified police. Women’s’ groups are pushing for the frat to be permanently banned. Sigma Phi Epsilon was already on social probation for alcohol violations. Now both the school and national fraternity have told the brothers they must cease all operations.

Three Vermont hospitals are receiving national recognition. Gifford Medical Center in Randolph, Copley Hospital in Morrisville and North Country Hospital in Newport have all been named among the top 100 critical access hospitals in the nation. The National Rural Health Association measured 56 different criteria when conducting its rankings. The three Vermont hospitals were chosen from more than 1,300 critical access hospitals nationwide.

A $1 million anonymous donation will help to replace squeaky seats at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington. The 1,453 seats at the Flynn date back to 1946. Their replacement is part of a renovation plan that also would improve acoustics and add lighting to play up the art-deco features in the lobby and on the facade of the 81-year-old building. The Flynn Center says a November 2nd Burlington Free Press article about the Flynn’s $1.5 million fundraising campaign prompted the anonymous donation.

If you’ve been naughty this holiday season look out! Santa Claus may leave a lump of coal in your stocking! But this Christmas you can take your lumps for a good cause, thanks to Keyser Energy in Rutland County. Keyser officials have announced that all the proceeds collected from its fun, new Holiday Coal Bag sales program will be donated to the Open Door Mission located on Park Street in Rutland. The company is selling the genuine coal at $2 a bag. Each decorative bag will have a hand full of hard coal tied with a holiday ribbon. To purchase your bag of coal to help the Open Door Mission, stop by a Keyser office at any one of these four locations in the Rutland County: 190 West St. in Rutland; 41 School St. in Proctor; 143 Bentley Ave. in Poultney; or 5 North Railroad Rd. in Brandon.

The fourth annual Kiwanis Bridge Building Contest will be held in Ticonderoga. This year’s contest will be held at the Ti Middle School on Saturday, January 21st. More than 60 students have already registered for the contest, which will expand in 2012 to include Crown Point Central School. The bridge contest will also include this year’s Ticonderoga High School physics class.

The goal of eating local can be tough in the winter when no crops are growing in Vermont's frozen fields, but now those crops can be found in the frozen food section of food co-ops around the Northeast. With the use of the Vermont Agriculture Agency's flash freeze unit, the stores are now offering frozen green beans, corn, broccoli and blueberries grown by local farmers. It's a pilot project to test consumer demand for local produce year-round. Because it's just a pilot project, organizers expect there is enough supply to last through mid-winter. But they hope frozen local veggies will provide a long-term opportunity for Vermont farmers.

The Vermont city of St. Albans is going to get nearly $2.1 million federal funds or its ongoing effort to rebuild its downtown. The U.S. Department of Transportation grant announced yesterday by the three members of the state's congressional delegation will help pay for improvements to the city's downtown. The project includes a redesign of Main Street and its sidewalks; and replacement of streetlights and traffic lights.

When it comes to taking care of homeless children, Vermont gets a very good score. In fact, the National Center on Family Homelessness believes Vermont is the very best in the nation in its annual report. While most of New England ranked in the top ten, Minnesota and Nebraska were two and three, behind Vermont. It was estimated there were more than 13-hundred homeless children in Vermont when the survey was taken.

New York owners may donate their unwanted car by December 31st to Cars4Charities and receive a year-end tax deduction of at least $500 on itemized federal taxes. Cars4Charities will handle the donation process and turn unwanted vehicles into cash and send the entire net proceeds to the charity the donor selects from a list provided. Cars may be donated online, as well, at

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

WVTK Local & State News December 13, 2011

Essex County has a new budget that increases taxes 10.54 percent and cuts more than 20 positions, including nine through layoffs. During more than three hours of discussions yesterday, the County Board of Supervisors voted on separate resolutions to set the 2012 budget. The budget raises the tax levy by 10.54 percent, which exceeds the state's new 2-percent tax cap. Supervisors needed a 60-percent majority to bust the cap. The spending plan establishes a tax rate of $2.41 per $1,000 of assessment, 27 cents more than the current rate.

Vermont State Police from New Haven responded to a 4-deer, 1-vehicle collision that occurred in the Town of Ferrisburgh at the junction of Route 7 and 22A early yesterday morning. There were no injuries, but minor damages were sustained as the vehicle collided with a deer. The deer was the last of a herd of four deer that bound across the roadway.

Eleven seniors in the Environmental Studies senior seminar at Middlebury College are doing more than completing graduation requirements, they’re conducting research that will actually be used by government agencies, local officials, scientists and consultants. They hope the work they did will improve the health of Lake Champlain and make local neighborhoods healthier places to live. A key part of the research was Lake Champlain, where phosphorous and other nutrients brought in by runoff act as fertilizers. This drives algae growth in the lake, which in turn depletes dissolved oxygen in the lake.

Kathy Alexander who runs the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union foodservice cooperative is hoping to develop a strategy that will build the farm-to-school momentum, spreading the emphasis on fresh, healthy, local food from the classrooms to the cafeteria to the community. During a gathering last week she explained that when estimating the cost of a foodservice program integrated with the curriculum and with the community, it’s difficult to put a dollar value on the less tangible gains, like student health and knowledge of nutrition and agriculture.

For over 20 years, Ilsley Public Library has been collecting books for children in need. The Christmas Shop at HOPE in Middlebury distributes these books to children whose parents might otherwise not be able to afford a new book. To contribute to this year’s collection, you can drop off clean, new, undamaged children’s books at Ilsley Public Library, the Vermont Book Shop, the Bridge School, or Mary Hogan School. Boxes are available until December 21st. For further information, contact Chris Kirby at Ilsley Public Library. (802-388-4095)

Earlier this month clothing maker Geiger of Austria cut five positions at its Middlebury facility. That now brings its total workforce to three from what were once 70. The Executive Vice President of Geiger indicated that with the nature of such a seasonal business it was not feasible to continue with the staff they had.

A new economic-development planner is poised to come to the aid of businesses interested in Ticonderoga. Justin Woods is the new chief executive officer of the Ticonderoga Revitalization Alliance. He has worked the past 3 1/2 years as the City of Ogdensburg director of planning and development, and has 10 years experience in municipal planning and economic development.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin has come up short of a budget savings goal he set just after taking office. Shumlin in January said his administration had found $12 million in state personnel costs that would not involve laying off any workers. But Finance and Management Commissioner Jim Reardon, presenting the governor's proposed budget adjustment bill on Monday, said the administration had come up about $2.6 million short of the $12 million goal.

Concern is growing about planned cuts in federal funding for heating assistance for low-income households. That's got elected leaders and advocates in the Northeast upset. The governors of Vermont and New Hampshire, along with the lieutenant governor of Massachusetts are planning a conference call on the topic today. Meanwhile, three committees of the Vermont Legislature have planned a hearing today to discuss the possibility of the state stepping in to fill the gap.

The administration of Gov. Peter Shumlin is asking lawmakers for nearly $25 million to be added on to Vermont's general fund budget for the current fiscal year to pay for costs related to Tropical Storm Irene. Finance and Management Commissioner James Reardon listed items yesterday to be included in a budget adjustment bill ranging from more than $690,000 for supplies and equipment used by National Guard personnel in responding to the emergency to $1.75 million for cleaning up spills of petroleum products caused by flooding. The $25 million in budget adjustments for Irene are expected to be a down payment on costs to the state that are projected eventually to near $100 million.

Massive damage to Vermont's infrastructure from Tropical Storm Irene left many communities cutoff and unable to communicate with the outside world. Yesterday, the crews that helped reconnect Vermont were honored for their efforts. Governor Peter Shumlin was on hand to extend his thanks to the telecommunications crews that worked tirelessly, like so many other Vermonters, in the days and weeks following Irene.

Yesterday Governor Peter Shumlin swore in the state's newest Environmental Judge. Thomas Walsh took the oath of office in Superior Court in Burlington before family and friends. The legislature created the environmental court in 1989 to balance development and preserving Vermont's natural resources. Walsh will be responsible for hearing Act 250 and zoning appeals. Judge Walsh had his own law firm for years. He begins his new job this morning.

Police at the University of Vermont are warning students about a peeping tom. School officials say a man was discovered on the fourth floor of Tupper Hall at around noon Monday where he used a cell phone to take a picture of a female resident. Police are now looking for a white male in his 20s. He's described as 5-foot-8, with dirty blonde hair and scraggly facial hair. He had two hoop earrings in his left ear and was seen leaving campus in a black sedan. Students are also being reminded not to let strangers into residential buildings and to use caution when using shared and public restrooms.

A $15 million energy research center is planned for the University of Vermont. The Center for Energy Transformation and Innovation, first discussed last year, will focus on new energy technologies and how to connect renewable energy projects and conservation to the national electrical grid. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, Governor Peter Shumlin, and representatives from Sandia Laboratories, UVM and Green Mountain Power made the announcement yesterday in Burlington.

Following a strike that shut down schools in the Bennington area for nine school days in October, the local teachers union filed a complaint yesterday with the Vermont Department of Labor alleging the school district has “willfully withheld” almost $300,0000 in salary, but school district officials say they are only taking extra time to make sure teacher paychecks are correct. In their complaint, teachers said the contract called for an increase in pay and a decrease in the amount teachers contribute toward their health care benefits, both retroactive to the first paycheck of the current school year. However, teachers said administrators at the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union have told them they will not see those changes in their paychecks until January 19.

Police here in Vermont say a stolen 1972 Fender Telecaster electric guitar autographed by members of Pearl Jam for a New Hampshire teenager with a brain tumor has been recovered, but the signatures are gone. The Burlington Free Press reports that two men have been jailed on charges of possession of stolen property. Police say the autographs were sanded off. Arrested were 25-year-old Jeffrey Leduc and 51-year-old Timothy Crews, both of Burlington.

Woodchuck Hard Cider of Middlebury just announced the winners of it 20th Anniversary Woodchuck hard Cider Video Contest. The cider maker launched the contest earlier this year to kick of its 20th year of making hard cider. Company officials asked fans to submit videos that represent why and what they love about the nation’s number one selling hard cider. A total of 38 videos were submitted. Winners were from New Jersey, Massachusetts and Georgia.

This holiday season the Tiny Tim Christmas Wish Program, which provides Christmas gifts to needy children in the Ticonderoga area, will service 140 children from 52 families. Many contributed including Ticonderoga Cub Scout Pack 72 who recently purchased toys for the program. The boys picked out and purchased over $110 in toys to be donated to the Tiny Tim program. Tiny Tim gifts will be distributed this Saturday from 8AM to Noon at the Masonic Lodge on Montcalm Street in Ticonderoga.

Panera Bread is set to open its second Vermont bakery café on South Main St in Rutland. The opening is set for next Wednesday December 21st. A Panera menu is focused on soups, salads and sandwiches made on a variety of breads baked in house. Panera’s planned involvement in the community includes its Operation Dough-Nation program. The Rutland store will join Panera locations in Connecticut in giving back through its local Day-End Dough-Nation and Community Breadbox programs. At the end of the day, Panera also donates all unsold bread and baked goods to local area hunger relief agencies as part of the program. The Rutland store is seeking nonprofit partners to collect end of day bread from the café.