Friday, June 29, 2012

WVTK Local & State News June 29, 2012

Valener Inc. of Montreal, the parent company of Gaz Metro, announced Thursday it has completed the acquisition of Central Vermont Public Service Corp.  It is expected that CVPS will consolidate its operations in the coming months with Green Mountain Power Corp.  Gaz Metro acquired GMP, Vermont’s second-largest power company, in 2007. With the acquisition of CVPS, the value of Gaz Metro’s assets is approximately $5 billion.

You’ll want to pick up the most recent edition of “Seven Days”, Vermont’s Independent Voice!  This week you’ll find a special article on our two best buddies from the Wake Up Crew, Bruce & Hobbes!  Look for the article title “What a Wiener!  Hobbes the Dachshund Transforms Talk Radio in Vermont.”  The article shares the story of how the duo came to be and reveals some special upcoming projects one man and his best friend have planned for later this year.  You can view the article online rightnow by visiting the 7-Days Website.

Due to the growth in the Middlebury Grand List of 0.8%, the property tax rate needed to support the General Fund budget is down slightly from the previous year. However, the overall municipal tax rate is increased by 2.61 cents due to the additional 1-cent on the tax rate for the Middlebury Business Development Fund and the addition of 1.77 cents for the FY13 interest payments on the Fire Facilities Bond as voted at Town Meeting. Education property tax rates will be supplied to Towns by the State on June 30th so that FY2013 tax bills can be prepared and mailed by July 15th. The first installment will be due August 15th.

This week the Middlebury Select Board accepted the concept of town offices-community center and gymnasium on the municipal building site. This was presented to the Board by the Steering Committee on June 19th as well as the Committee's recommendations for going forward with the appointment of task forces on financing, relocation and energy, with the Steering Committee continuing to serve in public outreach and project coordination capacities.

The Middlebury Business Development Fund Advisory Board told the Select Board this week they have worked on developing a job description for the Business Development Director and a fundraising strategy for the business component of the Fund and will continue to work on developing a work plan for the Director and a statement of need over the summer, with a target date for completion of September 1st. The fundraising effort would then kick off in September with meetings with major donors.

Soil testing for contaminated soils is to begin very soon. Middlebury D-P-W plans to bid this project this coming winter, pending the results of the soil survey. The project completes a water main loop to benefit the high school and the west side of town, curbing, drainage and a sidewalk connection from Cross Street to the school neighborhood.

The Middlebury Select Board awarded the bid this week for the Police Dispatch Console Replacement & Cruiser Radio Upgrade. The Board awarded the contract for both projects, which are primarily grant funded, to Burlington Communications, which submitted the bid with the lowest net cost to the Town.  Meanwhile the application to the Vermont Agency of Transportation for Bike Racks in the Downtown District was endorsed. The Board endorsed an application to VTRANS for racks at the following public locations: Town Offices & Gym, Ilsley Library and the Town Green/ACTR bus stop.

The Vergennes Boys and Girls Club was recipient of a $1,000 donation, from the Vergennes Lions Club, to be used for summer activities and snacks.  The Lions recognized the B & G Club for their success in keeping young folks busy during the summer months, and after school throughout the year.

State and local officials announced yesterday they have chosen the Howe Center as the site of an opiate addiction clinic serving the Rutland region.  Health Commissioner Harry Chen and Rutland Regional Medical Center CEO Tom Huebner joined Rutland Mental Health Services CEO Dan Quinn for the announcement that they had chosen Building 10 in Howe Center as the location.  Officials were also looking at a site on West Street, but said Howe Center was the less expensive of the two and that public opinion at a recent meeting overwhelmingly favored the latter location over a residential neighborhood.  Chen said the clinic is expected to begin operation in October.

Members of the Middlebury Police and Fire Departments responded to a two-car collision at the entrance of the Exxon-Mobil convenience store, located next to the National Bank of Middlebury branch office, on Route 7 South in Middlebury yesterday afternoon.  According to an eyewitness who motioned to the driver of a Subaru station wagon to enter the southbound lane, the station wagon was hit in front hit by another vehicle.  Both drivers, while shaken, appeared uninjured at the scene.

Vandals have again destroyed beautification projects in downtown Ticonderoga.  Flower boxes on the Montcalm Street Bridge have been ruined for the second time in the past three years.  The planters were a joint project involving The Country Florist, Ticonderoga Kiwanis, Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce and Ticonderoga Montcalm Street Partnership.  The estimated cost of the damage is about $1,000. Francine Burke, owner of The Country Florist, said the flower boxes would be repaired and replanted before the town’s July 4th celebration. Meanwhile the Ti Police Department has prioritized this investigation and anyone with information is asked to call the department (585-2205). They’re pursuing several positive leads and are optimistic this case can be closed with an arrest.

Families in New York can now check their children’s eligibility for health insurance using a simple online screening tool.  The Children’s Health Insurance Connection, a new program run by the Adirondack Health Institute, is designed to increase the number of eligible children and their families enrolled in New York’s health-insurance options. All children younger than 19 in New York State are eligible for Child Health Plus coverage. The insurance may be free or have a small monthly cost, depending on family income and the number of children in the family. To learn more about the Children’s Health Insurance Connection, visit or call (866) 872-3740 to speak directly to an enrollment services team member. Organizations interested in online screening or in-service training can go to the program website and click on the “Partners” tab or call 562-3740, Ext. 32902.

When the U-S Supreme Court upheld the central piece of President Obama's health care reform act, Governor Peter Shumlin called it a great day for Vermonters and Americans.  With the high court ruling the Affordable Care Act including the individual mandate constitutional, it also means nothing is changing going forward with Vermont's health care exchange.  Vermont is counting on getting 400-million in federal funding to help pay for Vermont's new program.  The one thing that could change everything, of course, is the November election.

The Vermont Department of Mental Health has received approval from another state department that will allow it to move forward with key components of a plan to replace mental health beds destroyed when Tropical Storm Irene flooded the state hospital in Waterbury.  The Department of Financial Regulation on Thursday issued an emergency Certificate of Need for 14 new beds at the Brattleboro Retreat, six at the Rutland Regional Medical Center and eight at a newly renovated facility in Morrisville. The plan had been approved by the Legislature.

For the first time in seven-years, a major military air show will take place in Vermont.  On Thursday, organizers of the "2013 Wings over Vermont" announced their plans for the show.  They say it will be a free, two-day air show at Burlington's waterfront in August next year.  While the lineup of planes is still being worked on, organizers hope the Air Force's Thunderbirds will perform. Organizers expect tens of thousands of people to show up and pump millions of dollars into area businesses.  But to put on the show, they need to raise $300,000.  That campaign got a big kick-start with a $100,000 donation from Revision, an Essex Junction military supplier.

Vermont officials say some unemployment deposits have been delayed because of a bank issue. The Vermont Department of Labor said today that about 200 recipients of unemployment insurance will get their direct deposits on Thursday. The rest of the beneficiaries affected - about 30 - will not get the deposits until Friday. The Labor Department says the two banks involved have resolved the problem.

A stunning Theatrical Vermont Premiere is for this weekend!  Grace Church of Rutland is honored to present the Rutland Area Chorus, Orchestra and Children’s Ensemble, stage performers and the Vermont Dance Collective in a performance of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS at the historic Paramount Theater in downtown Rutland on Friday and Saturday under the direction of Rip Jackson.  Leonard Bernstein’s MASS is a majestic hybrid of classical music, jazz, pop, blues and rock and promises to be the musical event of the year. This masterpiece, originally commissioned for the opening of The Kennedy Center in 1971 by Jacqueline Kennedy, and rarely performed due to its enormity, calls for a full professional pit orchestra, large chorus, children’s choir, Broadway-sized cast and musical theatre soloists, professional dance ensemble, and rock band. Tickets are $20 for evening performances for orchestra and loge; $15 for students under 17, balcony seats and all seats for the matinee. They are available through the Paramount Box Office at 802-775-0903 and at For more information, please call the church office at 802-775-4301 (

Brandon Music on Country Club Road in Brandon presents the classical piano and accordion duo, Annemieke & Jeremiah, this Friday at 7:00PM. Dutch classical piano virtuoso Annemieke Spoelstra and master accordionist from Vermont Jeremiah McLane make unique arrangements based on traditional folk melodies from the 18th to the 21st centuries. Tickets are $15.  For more information just visit

From Fox 44 and ABC 22 News – Your Voice in Vermont & New York:

Burlington, Vt. - On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Obama's healthcare reform law, for the most part. They were a few changes.  The court ruled that the "individual mandate", a controversial provision that requires people who choose not to get insurance to pay a penalty, is constitutional. That is, if it is referred to as a tax.  Basically, the court said that the Federal government couldn’t mandate that everyone have health insurance. However, it can tax people who choose not to.  "Everyone of us is going to be either paying a penalty, now called a tax, or having health insurance," Constitutional law professor Cheryl Hanna said.  And then, there's the issue of Medicaid funding.  The original Affordable Care Act required States to expand their Medicaid coverage. Then, if the State chose not to do that, the law would take away all of their Medicaid funding. But the Supreme Court did not agree.  "And there the court said no, that States still have the right to refuse to expand under Medicaid but would still not be at risk of losing all of their funds," Hanna said.

Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin says the Supreme Court's decision to uphold individual insurance is great news for Vermonters. His competitor this fall, does not agree. Republican Senator Randy Brock compared the ruling to the Titanic and says it's going to sink.  Vermonters anxiously awaited one of the nations most anticipated rulings in decades Thursday. MVP Healthcare who provides coverage to 700,000 people says this decision doesn't change a thing.  "Its been the law, we have been implementing and complying with the law," MVP Vice President, Frank Fanshawe said.  The landmark decision doesn't change anything if you already have a plan, if you don't, you'll be required to get one, or your taxes will increase. But for two people eyeing the state's top spot, this decision just heated up the November election. Governor Shumlin says this bill means that Vermont will get 400-million federal dollars for its share. "To help low and middle income Vermonters and small businesses pay for the ever rising cost of health insurance," Governor Shumlin said.  Republicans say just because the Supreme Court deemed this ruling constitutional, doesn't mean that it's good policy.  "To buy something that we have no description of, the real question is how do we know that we're going to save money? How do we even know that we're going to slow the increase in cost when we don't even know what we're going to spend?" Senator Brock questioned.  Governor Shumlin says he's already working with the Green Mountain Healthcare board to design a system that costs significantly less than what Vermonters are paying for health insurance right now.

Police say three Vermont men are facing charges connected to the death of a man whose body was found in a St. Albans pool in April.  Police say the victim, 22-year-old Christopher Davis of Swanton, was lured to the area of the city swimming pool by Travis Bugbee and Brian Ross, both 23 and from St. Albans, where he was beaten and robbed.  Bugbee and Ross are due in court Thursday. They're facing charges that include assault and robbery. Another man, 29-year-old Joshua Fortine of St. Albans was charged with possessing items stolen from Davis.  His family last saw Davis in late March. His body was found April 16.  Police say the condition of the body made it difficult to determine the exact cause of death.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

WVTK Local & State News June 28, 2012

The Essex County Public Health Department has confirmed several cases of rabies in wild animals and domestic livestock in Essex County, N.Y. The most recent case was found in the town of Ticonderoga.   A press release says, the Health Department is urging all residents to avoid contact with stray cats, dogs and wild animals. If you see a wild animal displaying unusual behavior, stay away from the animal and let the animal go away on its own. The Health Department says they will be offering rabies clinics in the next few weeks. Upcoming Rabies Clinics are scheduled on July 24th at the Moriah Town Hall in Port Henry; July 31st at the Essex Town Shed; August 2nd at the Wilmington Fire Hall; and August 9th at the Keene Town Hall. All clinics are from 6-7 PM. Vaccinations are offered at no charge; a donation of $5 per pet is accepted.   If your pet has been injured from a suspected rabid animal, the press release says, to contact your veterinarian for medical care and the Essex County Health Department at (518)-873-3500.

Communities in Addison, Lamoille, and Orleans counties that suffered damage to public infrastructure during the storm of May 29, 2012 are eligible for reimbursement for eligible damage-related costs.  Local governments, private non-profits, and Indian tribes are eligible to apply for Public Assistance. Eligible applicants that wish to apply for Public Assistance are strongly encouraged to attend one of two applicant meetings on July 10th and 11th.  The Addison County meeting will take place at the Vermont State Police Barracks in New Haven Tuesday, July 10th at 2PM. Communities that have questions can call Ben Rose, Vermont Emergency Management Public Assistance Officer at (802) 585-4719.

A father and his son shared this year’s Better Middlebury Partnership Citizen of the Year Award.  The BMP awarded its Outstanding Citizen Award to the duo of Roch and John MacIntyre of MacIntyre Services LLC. The MacIntyre family has been active in the local community for decades.  According to outgoing BMPPresident Donna Donahue, “the Macintyre’s have “done a lot of helping with no publicity about it. They silently step up to the plate when people need them to.” In addition to the citizen award, the BMP awarded Vermont Hard Cider with its Business of the Year Award.  Donahue said Vermont Hard Cider was an exceptional business; it also deserved credit because it chose to expand its manufacturing operation in Middlebury.

On Monday Vermont State Police responded to a burglary complaint at 1568 Hunt Road, New Haven. Further investigation revealed the point of entry was through the front door. Several pieces of jewelry, a computer, and cash were taken from the residence. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Vermont State Police in new Haven at 802-388-4919.

Vermont State Police are investigating the report of seven various complaints to include suspicious vehicle complaints, three burglary complaints (nothing was stolen), and a petit larceny case in the area of Lake Street & Arnold Bay Road in The Town of Panton. The incidents have occurred between June 1st and June 27th. On Monday Troopers from The New Haven State Police Barracks met with citizens in the Town of Panton for a Community Advisory Meeting. The citizens were advised of the various complaints, were provided advice as to how to safeguard their properties, and how to be vigilant to the recent suspicious activity and crime.

A former Vermont State Police trooper convicted of driving while under the influence has now pleaded guilty to a charge he drove with a suspended license. The attorney general's office says 40-year-old Joshua P. Lemieux of West Rutland entered the plea in court in Rutland to one misdemeanor count of driving on a suspended license.

A raffle has been added to the list of events at the Ticonderoga Area Car Show.  Sponsored by the Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce, the 20th annual car show will be held from 9AM to 4PM Sunday, August 5th in Bicentennial Park.  The raffle, with a $3,000 top prize and a $2,000 second prize, is being added to help raise money for the event and other chamber programs.  Raffle tickets are $10 each and are now on sale at the chamber office on Montcalm Street, at area businesses and by chamber volunteers. Tickets will also be sold at the Ticonderoga Wal-Mart July 13. Only 1,000 tickets will be sold. The drawing will be at the car show August 5th.

Federal lawmakers secured a total of $300,000 to be used to repair Jay and Black Brook water infrastructure damaged in Tropical Storm Irene.  The Town of Jay applied for the grants jointly as part of a plan to replace the water-control panel near the Ausable River.  The money helps recover another critical piece of public infrastructure torn apart on August 28, 2011.

Mental health advocates and civil libertarians are calling for a moratorium on police use of stun guns in Vermont following the death of man last week. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Mental Health Law Project at Vermont Legal Aid are among those calling for the moratorium.

Officials say Vermont's largest hospital and its unionized nurses have reached a tentative contract agreement. Fletcher Allen Health Care spokesman Mike Noble told the Burlington Free Press an agreement was reached with the Vermont Federation of Nurse and Health Profession at around 6 yesterday morning after all night talks.

A 25-year-old Vermont man is going to jail for a year after pleading guilty to charges he shot his best friend to death with what he had thought was an air gun. Nicholas Bell of Manchester pleaded no contest in May to charges of manslaughter, simple assault with a weapon and reckless endangerment for the 2010 death of 24-year-old Jeffrey Charbonneau.

A 16-year-old from Upper Valley who was struck by lightning over the weekend has passed away.  Connor Cook was working at a farm in Post Mills Saturday when he was hit by a bolt of lightning.  He was transported from the scene in critical condition and has been on life support ever since.  Connor died yesterday at the hospital surrounded by his family.

Gov. Peter Shumlin says he wants to revive something like the Vermont Seal of Quality to signal to consumers they are getting a Vermont product that meets certain standards.  Shumlin joined Commerce Secretary Lawrence Miller and Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross at a news conference yesterday to say the state is working on a new marketing campaign.  Companies would have to meet certain criteria, which are still in development, indicating they have sufficient links to Vermont. The front-runner for the symbol that would be applied to the products is the moon-over-the-mountains logo widely seen on state websites.  Miller says the symbol likely will be accompanied by a special code that can be read by smart phones, which then would display where a product and its ingredients are made.

Vermont's Chittenden Solid Waste District is telling its customers not to eat or sell vegetables in gardens where bulk Green Mountain Compost has been used this year if there are tomatoes or bean plants with curled or stunted leaves.  The district says there are concerns some of its bulk products could be contaminated with herbicides.  In the past three days, customers have reported certain vegetable plants have shown signs of leaf curling and distortion consistent with herbicide exposure.  The district has stopped selling bulk compost, topsoil, raised bed mix, and microbe mulch from its Redmond Road facility in Williston.  The district says bulk compost sold in bulk between mid-April and the end of May could be contaminated.  There is no indication that bagged Green Mountain Compost products contain the herbicides.

Prosecutors say a New York couple has been convicted of mortgage fraud in Vermont federal court. Prosecutors say between 2004 and 2006, Thomas Komasa and his wife Heidi made false statements and documents to obtain mortgage loans to buy and refinance five parcels of residential real estate in Chittenden County with plans of reselling them.

The Rutland Regional Planning Commission is hosting an informational panel discussion on local involvement in the Public Service Board process tonight.  The panel discussion, set for 6PM at the Rutland Intermediate School auditorium, will address the roles that municipalities and the public play in contributing to the Public Service Board process. The event is free and open to the public. Rutland Intermediate School is located on Library Ave. in Rutland.

A stunning Theatrical Vermont Premiere is for this weekend!  Grace Church of Rutland is honored to present the Rutland Area Chorus, Orchestra and Children’s Ensemble, stage performers and the Vermont Dance Collective in a performance of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS at the historic Paramount Theater in downtown Rutland on Friday and Saturday under the direction of Rip Jackson.  Leonard Bernstein’s MASS is a majestic hybrid of classical music, jazz, pop, blues and rock and promises to be the musical event of the year. This masterpiece, originally commissioned for the opening of The Kennedy Center in 1971 by Jacqueline Kennedy, and rarely performed due to its enormity, calls for a full professional pit orchestra, large chorus, children’s choir, Broadway-sized cast and musical theatre soloists, professional dance ensemble, and rock band. Tickets are $20 for evening performances for orchestra and loge; $15 for students under 17, balcony seats and all seats for the matinee. They are available through the Paramount Box Office at 802-775-0903 and at For more information, please call the church office at 802-775-4301 (

Brandon Music on Country Club Road in Brandon presents the classical piano and accordion duo, Annemieke & Jeremiah, this Friday at 7:00PM. Dutch classical piano virtuoso Annemieke Spoelstra and master accordionist from Vermont Jeremiah McLane make unique arrangements based on traditional folk melodies from the 18th to the 21st centuries. Tickets are $15.  For more information just visit

From Fox 44 and ABC 22 News – Your Voice in Vermont & New York:

Peter Welch has more competition to keep his job as Vermont's lone congressman.  At the University Mall Wednesday, James "Sam" Desrochers announced he is running for U.S. Congress.  This might seem like an unusual place for a campaign event.  But the political newcomer has owned a watch store here for five-years and it's fittingly called "Time for Change."  "I've been asked, "Do I really expect to win?" I say, "I hope so and why not?" It all comes down to how many people vote for me," says Desrochers.  Desrochers says he's going to rely on word of mouth because he promises to spend less than $500 on his campaign.  Desrochers, who is running as an independent, says he was prompted to run because of the gridlock in Washington D.C.

Vermont is bracing for a big decision from the U.S. Supreme Court.  On Thursday, the court is expected to rule on the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's plan for universal healthcare.  Vermont is working on its own version of universal healthcare called Green Mountain Care. The court's decision could impact it.  If the court upholds the law, Governor Peter Shumlin says preparation for Green Mountain Care will continue full steam ahead.  But, if the court strikes down the law, GMC will not receive roughly $400 million in Federal subsidies and tax credits that it would have been given through the Affordable Care Act.  "I don't want to pretend that losing the $400 million of subsidy for middle class and low-income Vermonters struggling to pay for health insurance is not a blow. It is," Governor Shumlin said.  Shumlin says that blow will not prevent him from pushing forward with his health plan.  Opponents of Green Mountain Care say, it does not matter what the Supreme Court rules on Thursday. They say the plan is doomed.  "It's unsustainable because you have to ask the fundamental question. How can you say you're going to save money when you don't know what you're going to spend?" State Senator Randy Brock and Republican candidate for governor said.  The Shumlin administration has not announced how much Green Mountain Care will cost or how it will be paid for.

Nearly 50 of the cutest, tiniest soft-shell turtles are now part of Lake Champlain.  Dozens of people released the turtles into the wild, in north hero.  It took a lot of TLC.  Staff members at Echo Lake and Aquarium have been taking care of them for several months.  Two hours a day, every day...they were cleaned and fed. Releasing them into the Lake is helping build the population back up.  “We spent 6 months raising these guys and actually releasing them and seeing them swim off is one of the most rewarding things of this program."  Believe it or not, the spiny soft-shell turtles are threatened species in Vermont.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

WVTK Local & State News June 27, 2012

State Police spotted a vehicle traveling north on Lake Street in the southbound lane early this morning. As this vehicle traveled past the Trooper, a breaking glass sound was heard. It was suspected that the vehicle collided with a close by mailbox or street sign. As the Trooper attempted to stop this vehicle, the vehicle led State Police, Vergennes Police, Middlebury Police, and Bristol Police on a multi-mile pursuit that went through the towns of Panton, Addison, Bridport, Cornwall, and Weybridge. The vehicle came to stop on Water Street in Weybridge. The operator, identified as MacKenzie Sullivan, was then taken into custody. There were 2 passengers in the vehicle. Nobody was hurt. Sullivan was processed for DUI and ultimately was charged with Attempting to Elude, DUI., Gross Careless and Negligent Operation, and Excessive Speed. Further investigation will be conducted in regards to beer bottles being thrown out of this vehicle on Lake Street in Panton. No criminal charges are pending for the passengers. Sullivan was cited into the Addison Criminal Division on August 6th.

Vermont State Police are investigating a burglary, which took place at a private residence on Route 7 in New Haven. Someone forced entry into the residence. The homeowners, Tracey and Thomas Jerome are attempting to ascertain what was stolen. Anyone with information is asked to contact Vermont State Police Senior Trooper Andrew Leise at 1-802-388-4919. Information can also be submitted anonymously online at or text "CRIMES" (274637) to Keyword: VTIPS

Green Mountain Power Corp. has tapped Steve Costello to head development of the new Energy Innovation Center in Rutland — one of several management changes being made as the result of the merger of GMP and Central Vermont Public Service Corp.  Costello, who was promoted to vice president of generation and energy innovation, was one of four CVPS officials who will have a role in the new company.   GMP President and CEO Mary Powell also promoted Greg White, a 25-year veteran of CVPS, to vice president of operations for GMP. White will lead the company-wide Operations Center on Post Road. He is currently in charge of the engineering department at CVPS.  Meanwhile Two CVPS vice presidents, Joseph Kraus and Joan Gamble, have signed one-year consulting contracts with GMP.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The Addison County Council Against Domestic and Sexual Violence is planning a project called “Shine The Light on Domestic Violence.”  Their goal is to hold an auction to sell lamps that have been decorated by local artists to paint them and make them more beautiful. The Council is looking for donated lamps that are in good working shape. If you have a lamp to donate to the project or if you know someone else who might, please call Melissa Deas at 349-3059 or email her at If you are a local painter and are willing to offer your talent and time, please contact Melissa.

On Wednesday, July 11th the Vergennes Lions Club will hold its annual live auction in the Vergennes Union Middle School gym to raise money for the many projects in the area communities.  Club members are again soliciting items from merchants and individuals in the form of good, services and gift certificates.  Members are again asking the community for donations of saleable item that can be picked up, or dropped off at the school on July 10th between 5 and 7PM. The club will accept good quality items, but please no used electronics, baby car seats, old TVS or used appliances.  Any Vergennes Lion member can be contacted for pick up, or folks may call Barry Aldinger at 877-3725 or Debbie Brace at 877-3725 to arrange pickup.

A new pre-kindergarten education program, to be held at the Common Ground Center in Starksboro, will help youngsters appreciate and understand the natural world around them.  The Willowell Foundation, an environment and arts-focused educational nonprofit, will support the nine-month-long, pre-K nature program for preschoolers starting this September.  The wilderness program has been dubbed Wren’s Nest. The areas of study will include many topics ranging from wild edibles and fire building to garden planting and journal writing.

An assistant Vermont attorney general will consider a recent civil court ruling in a West Rutland School principal case as part of her investigation of a possible Open Meeting Law violation.  Susanne Young said Tuesday she would review a decision made by Judge Mary Miles Teachout last Thursday that denied West Rutland parents a preliminary injunction on the School Board, in a suit filed by 28 parents.  The judge ruled that the School Board did make an attempt to properly warn the March 14th meeting where they decided to not renew the Principal Juanita Burch-Clay’s contract.

It took 20 people in Wallingford about 15 minutes to spend $100,000 on bridge repairs.  Townspeople unanimously approved a Select Board request to obtain a low interest loan for a Route 140 West bridge project.  The $100,000 loan will be used as a match for a one-time $400,000 historic bridge grant to paint and repair the truss bridge spanning Otter Creek.  Residents gathered Monday at the Town Hall for a special meeting to consider the board’s request.

Yesterday was primary day in New York.  Watertown businessman Matt Doheny easily beat Kellie Greene in the GOP primary for Congress.  He will now face Democrat incumbent Bill Owens in November.  There was also a GOP primary for US Senate. Wendy Long beat two other candidates and will take on incumbent Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand.

PRIDE of Ticonderoga will host a “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” fundraiser at the Ticonderoga beach on Friday, July 6th from 5 to 7PM.  The funds raised will provide area qualified residents assistance with emergency home repairs.  The event is a pig roast and includes pasta salad, cole slaw, baked beans and one free beverage. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children ages 5 to 12. Children younger than age 5 will be free.  Live music will be by Chris LaPointe and Company.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has awarded $1 million to North Country members of the Cleaner, Greener Communities Program.  The consortium of North Country counties, towns and organizations will use the money to create a “smart growth” plan for regional sustainability in both environmental and economic areas.  The Cleaner, Greener Communities Program was announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his 2011 State of the State address. Only one award was made in each region of the state. Representatives of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Lewis counties lead this region’s consortium. Essex County is the municipal sponsor for the North Country’s Cleaner Greener Communities initiative.

Police said an Essex Vermont horse, thought to have been viciously attacked by chemicals, actually ingested clovers. Nellie was found blinded and burned in her pasture in May. Her owners thought she was attacked and Essex police were brought in to investigate the case.  Doctors now said it's likely Nellie ate a type of clover that caused her to be sensitive to sunlight.  Spring Hill Horse Rescue is still funding Nellie's treatment that includes surgery for a damaged eye.  Police said the case is now closed. They don't believe the incident was result of criminal activity.

Governor Peter Shumlin says the state will push ahead with an overhaul of its health care system, no matter what the U.S. Supreme Court does with the federal Affordable Care Act. Shumlin said he's worried if the law is struck down, the state could lose up to $400 million a year in federal funding it had been hoping to use to subsidize universal access to health care.

Casey Family Services, which finds foster and permanent homes for children in several states, is closing and laying off 280 employees.  The Annie E. Casey Foundation announced yesterday it would discontinue providing direct services through the New Haven, CT based Casey Family Services and shift to making grants to child welfare agencies.  Casey Family Services began in 1976, and provides foster care services to children under state contracts in Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Besides finding permanent homes for foster children, the agency provides support to foster families. The foundation, based in Baltimore, said it would move most of the children and their foster families to other providers by the end of the year.

New England's unemployment rate ticked down one-tenth of a percentage point in May and is near its lowest level since January 2009. The New England office of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Tuesday the jobless rate in the region was 6.8% last month, down from 6.9% in April. Officials say it has fallen 1.1 by percent in the last year.  The national rate is 8.2%.  Rhode Island has the highest unemployment rate in the region, at 11%, and the second highest in the United States. Nevada's is 11.6%.  Vermont's unemployment rate of 4.6% is the lowest in the region and the fourth lowest in the U.S.

The state of New York says, it paid millions of dollars last year in interest for late payments to vendors.   It added up to almost $2 million. That's up 40% since last year.   State officials say, that's a waste of taxpayer dollars.   The Department of Health and the State University system paid the most, followed by the Department of Transportation.

The Ludlow Rotary Club and Okemo Mountain Resort are proud to host the 5th annual Okemo Bike Climb.  Bicycle riders from all over New England and New York are challenged with a 5.8-mile uphill race on Route 103 to the Okemo access road and ending at the summit.  In the 2011 race 114 riders rose to the challenge.  Proceeds from the race go to fund local Rotary charities.  The race starts at the Jackson Gore Ice House at 10:30 this Saturday morning.  For information or questions, call Bret Harlow at 259-7810 or e-mail him at

Saturday is the deadline for vendors to sign up for Rutland’s Art in the Park.  The Chaffee Art Center is also looking for volunteers to staff the event, which runs Aug. 10-12 in Rutland’s Main Street Park. The center also still has ad space available in the brochures for the August and October Art in the Park events.  Prospective vendors will be juried July 11, and applications received after that will be looked at subject to space availability. Vendors can call 747-7900 and volunteers and advertisers can call 775-0356. All three can email

The youngest person to ever climb Mount Everest is set to climb New Hampshire's highest mountain a day after climbing Maine's highest peak.  Fifteen-year-old Jordan Romero of Big Bear, CA kicked off his 50-state hiking tour, "Find Your Everest," yesterday by climbing Maine's Mount Katahdin. He's planning to climb New Hampshire's Mount Washington today.  Romero is hoping to inspire people to get outdoors, be healthy, set goals and do things as a family. To spread the message, he and his father and stepmother are climbing the highest mountain in each state and inviting people to climb with them.  The Bangor Daily News says Romero will be in Vermont on Thursday to climb Mount Mansfield.

From Fox 44 and ABC 22 News – Your Voice In Vermont & New York:

The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Vernon, Vermont has won another round to keep operating.  On Tuesday, a federal appeals court ruled Yankee's license to operate was issued correctly despite objections and a lawsuit by the State of Vermont.  The State had argued Yankee should not have been given a new license because its water quality permit was of date.  But the federal court said the state waited too long to make that argument.  Also on Tuesday, Yankee was running at about half-power because a cooling pump failed.  Plant staff said it was being repaired.   Another issue is the effort by Yankee opponents to close the plant through different lawsuits.  In the fight over the future of Yankee, Deborah Katz wants to make sure her side doesn't give up.  "It's really important that citizens don't go to sleep at this point," says Katz.  Katz is the executive director of the anti-Yankee group, Citizens Awareness Network.  On Tuesday, she talked to people about what should happen when Yankee shut downs.  "How they clean the site up. What they do with the high-level waste," says Katz.  While inside the Montpelier church, opponents of Yankee planned for life after the plant, it's not clear when it will shut down.  That's because Yankee's future is headed to another federal appeals court.  Plant supporters say the law is on their side, despite the effort of the State of Vermont to close the plant, and at least one federal judge has agreed.  There is also the issue of the 600 jobs at the plant.  Now the work is up to two legal teams to argue if Yankee should keep running. Right now the plant's owner Entergy is working on its side and later this year could meet the attorney's for Vermont who have already laid out their side.  "We're going forward and we're looking forward to having the argument before the court," says Scot Kline, Vermont Assistant Attorney General.

We've learned more information about the woman who doused herself in gasoline and then lit a match Monday. Police say she has a history of mental health issues.  We first told you about the tragic suicide last night, and today we wanted to find out more.  After learning more about yesterday's tragedy, it got us asking questions about those with mental illness. Could it have been prevented? Who's responsible for getting people with mental disabilities proper care? And what's the proper protocol? We've learned the burden is falling on the backs of police officers.  "Personally, no, I don't think it should be the police's responsibility," Detective Lieutenant Art Cyr said.  Regardless, every single day, multiple times each day, Burlington patrol officers are responding to calls involving people with mental illnesses.  "They are a big drain on our resources," Cyr said.  Cyr says their partnership with the Howard Center does help. It's a private non-profit that helps the mentally ill.  "We are so extremely busy, but without them it would be unmanageable," Cyr said.  But despite a lack of funding and training, officers are still the ones responding to these calls.  "It ranges from low level stuff, to suspicious activity or strange behaviors on the marketplace, all the way up to the situation that we had yesterday," Cyr added.  He's referring to the woman who police say had mental health issues and killed herself by dousing her body in gasoline and lighting a match.  "That persons intent was to hurt themselves, but their actions could have hurt other people," Cyr said.  The thing is, unless a person is showing signs that they'll be a danger to him or herself, or society, they can not be restrained, now this doesn't mean that they don't have a mental health issue, but if they're not seeking voluntary help, that means they're out on their own.  "They're ultimately in control of their own lives," Howard Center Director of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Bob Bick said.  If clinical staff determine that there's imminent danger, they'll be hospitalized. But, "The state of mind, like everyone else is very fluid and how someone may feel at this moment in time can be different down the line," Bick said.  And that may be how Monday's tragic suicide slid through the cracks.  Staff at the Howard Center say they also work closely with doctors at the Fletcher Allen emergency room, to determine if a patient is in need of more help or supervision. 

Howard Center: 24 Hour Crisis Services of Chittenden County 802-488-6400 
First Call for Children and Families: 802-488-7777 
Mental Health Mobile Crisis: 802-488-6400 
Substance Abuse Crisis-Act 1: 802-488-6425

The couple accused of brutally killing a popular St. Johnsbury teacher, faces more serious charges.  Allen and Patricia Prue are accused of stunning Melissa Jenkins with a stun gun, then strangling and beating her to death.  On Tuesday, the couple pleaded not guilty to upgraded charges. Allen's charge was changed from second-degree murder to first-degree murder. Patricia's charge was changed from second degree to aggravated murder.  Much of the new evidence that led to the upgraded charges came from stories Patricia Prue told fellow inmates in jail. In some cases, the inmates told police it sounded like she was bragging.  Court papers say Patricia told, or was overheard, saying she and Allen found Jenkins attractive but they thought Jenkins treated them poorly.  The documents also say Patricia was open about how she and Allen sexually assaulted Jenkins while they beat and strangled her.  In response to the upgraded charges, the Jenkins' cousin and her husband, who attended the court appearance, did not want to discuss the details.  "Nothing is going to bring Melissa back again. So, therefore there's no justice. We're just trying to work through this as a family as best we can," Eric Berry said.  The Prue's are not due back in court for a few months. If convicted, the Waterford couple faces life in prison.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

WVTK Local & State News June 26, 2012

This past weekends Addison County Humane Society Ruff Ride was very successful!  Executive Director Jackie Rose said they had a total of 136 participants with 88 motorcycle riders and 48 bicycle riders.  This is an increase for bicycle participants from the past years and about the same for the motorcycle riders. They raised just under $11,000, not including what they will ultimately raise with the raffle tickets.  Learn more about how you can support the Addison County Humane Society all year long and find you next “furry family member” by visiting!

The Town Of Middlebury Select Board will hold its regular meeting this evening at 7 at the Russ Sholes Senior Center in the lower level of the gym.  Items on tomorrow’s agenda include the award bid for Recycling and Paving of quarry road along with a brief update on other Public Works Projects.  The Board is also expected to award bids for police dispatch console replacement and cruiser radio upgrades, which are primarily grant funded.  The FY2013 Water and Wastewater Budgets will be previewed as well as a status report on the FY2012 Budget and the setting of the FY2013 Tax Rate.  For more details and a complete agenda just visit the Town Of Middlebury’s Website

Officials here in Middlebury are debating whether to rebuild or replace the town's 100-year-old municipal building and gymnasium.  Preliminary estimates for the proposed 16,000 to 19,000-square-foot municipal offices and community center range from $6 million to $10 million.  The current town office has structural problems, including decaying stairs and water damage, which some town officials say would be too expensive to fix.  A steering committee is researching energy efficiency, relocation, and potential grant funding sources. The committee will meet this morning at 10:30 in the town offices.

The Town of Moriah is sponsoring meetings to provide information to local residents and small businesses about free and low-cost energy services.  The meetings will be held today. The schedule is 1PM at the Moriah Senior Center, Port Henry Train Station, 14 Park Place, Port Henry; and 4:40 to 6:30PM at George’s Restaurant, with free pizza provided. Short presentations will be given at 5 and 6PM. Speakers from New York’s EmPower NY and Home Performance with Energy Star Programs will share information about free and low-cost energy services available to residences at all income levels. George’s Restaurant will discuss its experience with National Grid’s Small Business Program, which has resulted in savings on its electricity bill. Questions about the energy meetings should be addressed to Jennifer Monroe at 251-2525 or

Vermont State Police are currently investigating the report of a burglary at a private residence on Hardscrabble Road in The Town of Monkton. A Glock 10mm pistol, Ruger 9mm pistol, jewelry, and money were stolen from the residence. The estimated loss is approximately $1,900. The investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to contact Senior Trooper Andrew Leise at 1-802-388-4919. Information can also be submitted anonymously online at or text "CRIMES" (274637) to Keyword: VTIPS

The Manchester, VT Police Department seeks your help in locating 16-year-old Hailey Rheaume Fox.  She’s white, 120 lbs, 5'05" and was last seen in Manchester on Thursday the 21st.  Hailey may be headed to Vergennes.  If you have information that can assist in helping safely locate Hailey, please contact the police. 

The Addison County Chamber of Commerce, with the support of individual and business sponsors, is hosting French Heritage Day on Saturday, July 14th from 10AM – 4PM in Vergennes. The event celebrates the area’s French-Canadian heritage, but can be enjoyed by all, regardless of family descent. There is truly something for everyone to enjoy! At dusk the Otter Creek Falls will be lighted and can be viewed nightly through August 26th. Full details of the event and a schedule of activities are available at

The new president of Burlington College, Christine Plunkett, who is a Middlebury resident, has extended a personal invitation to members of Addison County Chamber of Commerce to join members of the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce at the Burlington College After Hours event this Thursday.  Christine was recently named the new president of Burlington College and would love to welcome our Chamber’s members.   If you’re interested in attending, you may purchase advance tickets at using the "Business After Hours - Member Rate" of $8. If you arrive without pre-registering, please let the greeters know you are with the Addison County Chamber for the $12 door rate.  This event provides an excellent opportunity for local business people to visit Burlington College’s beautiful new campus on the lake and tour its historic building.

Addison County Transit Resources was recently awarded a $100,000 grant by Middlebury College. These funds are a contribution towards the 20 percent local matching requirements of a $2.85 million federal grant previously awarded to ACTR for the construction of its Community Transportation Center, which will be located off of Creek Road next to the VTrans maintenance facility. ACTR plans to operate out of the new Community Transportation Center by March 2013, shortly after marking its 20th anniversary of service to the region. To learn more about ACTR’s services, or contribute to the capital campaign for the Community Transportation Center, just visit or call 388-1946.

All four host towns for a proposed wind project are in agreement. They all oppose the project with West Rutland voting against it Monday night.   In a 2-1 vote the town Select Board joined the towns of Castleton, Hubbardton and Pittsford in its opposition of Reunion Power’s project on the Grandpa’s Knob ridgeline.

Boat owners who want to pressure wash their vessels before entering or leaving area waters now have a new option available.  The Lake Champlain Basin Program and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation have established an agreement with several car-wash businesses in the basin to provide facilities to successfully clean boats, trailers and equipment and help prevent the spread of unwanted invasive species.  Local New York stations are at Crown Point Car Wash on Main St., and Treadway Car Wash on Route 9 in Ticonderoga.  Eight stations are available in Vermont, ranging from Swanton to Vergennes. Forty-nine non-native species occupy Lake Champlain, and many more threaten to invade in the near future.

Ticonderoga will mark the birth of a nation with a four-day celebration.  The annual Best Fourth in the North will be held July 1st – 4th. It’s the largest event in the community each year. Highlighting the festivities will be a road race, bed race and parade July 4th. The Best Fourth in the North will conclude with fireworks at 9:30PM.  The Best Fourth In The North committee is a sub-committee of the Ticonderoga Montcalm Street Partnership. For more information and a complete schedule of events visit or contact the Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce at 585-6619 or Email

The new power rates in Proctor are under review by the Public Service Board.  Central Vermont Public Service bought the Vermont Marble Power Division of Omya, and then instituted a rate hike for businesses.  Now state regulators want to know if CVPS considered the impact the hike would have.  CVPS says it has no way of knowing how much each individual company was paying to Omya before the buyout.  It's likely the public service board will either negotiate a solution between CVPS and the businesses or encourage them to come up with a solution on their own.

Vermont Achievement Center has a new CEO.  The center announced Monday that Mitchell Golub would take the reins effective July 1, succeeding the departing Kiki McShane.  VAC board of directors chairman Samuel Groom said McShane submitted her resignation in mid-May. Golub has served three years as the director of education at Sheldon Academy, VAC’s program for children diagnosed with emotional or behavioral issues.

Congressman Peter Welch made a stop at the General Electric plant in Rutland Monday to see the dividends of some legislation he helped author.  The plant manufactures parts for jet engines that are sold around the world. The congressman worked to pass legislation creating an export-import bank that provides financing to foreign customers purchasing U.S.-made goods, like the GE parts.  It was reauthorized by President Barack Obama last month and will be extended through September 2014.

A Vermont farm owner says a hospitalized teenage farm worker may have been struck by lightning over the weekend.  The Valley News reports Crossroad Farm owner Janet Taylor in Post Mills said the incident happened Saturday afternoon. She had radioed farm workers to come inside after hearing thunder.  Neighbors and friends identified the worker as 16-year-old Connor Cook, who attends Thetford Academy. He remained in critical condition at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center on Monday.

The Northern New England Region of the American Red Cross is seeking to collect 8,300 units over the next two weeks to address a blood shortage. The Red Cross is adding emergency blood drives and extending blood drive hours and scheduled drives. It also is reaching out to eligible donors, blood drive sponsors and community leaders to ask them to recruit blood donors to help meet the needs of patients across the country.  The chapter serves Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.

Cancer patients in northeastern Vermont should be getting better coordinated and maybe less expensive care in the near future, if a program that's part of the state's health care overhaul is successful.  The Green Mountain Care Board is spearheading the state's push to make health care access universal while controlling costs, and on Monday it announced cancer care in the St. Johnsbury area will be brought into a new pilot program.

Harwood Union High School is the very proud owner of a new addition to its music department:  a white, baby grand piano.  The piano was a gift from country music star Kenny Chesney, who is currently touring with a Harwood Union High alum, Grace Potter.  It was Potter who was back on campus earlier this month, honoring her former music teacher, Di Phillips who was retiring after 40 years of teaching.  Potter told Chesney about Phillips as they discussed teachers who had influenced them, and that's when he reportedly decided to donate the piano to Harwood.

The Vermont Department of Health is working on a new campaign to encourage Vermonters to get tested for HIV at their own doctor's office or at 1 of more than 30 free, anonymous testing sites around the state.  Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen says HIV testing should be considered a part of routine health screening.  He says it can take up to 11 years before a person with HIV develops any outward symptoms of AIDS. Early diagnosis can make a big difference in the health and lives of those who are infected.

A Vermont couple accused of taking the life Melissa Jenkins are expected to be arraigned today.  Allen Prue is charged with first-degree murder; Patricia Prue is now charged with aggravated murder. The Prue’s previously pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder charges.

From Fox 44 & ABC 22 News – Your Voice in Vermont and New York:

Another candidate has officially entered the race for Vermont's Attorney General position.   Jack McMullen will be running on the Republican ticket.  Right now, he faces incumbent, Bill Sorrell, and the current Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan.  McMullen is the only Republican in the race, so, he will face off against either Sorrell or Donovan, who are both Democrats.   He is a Navy Veteran, who currently lives in Burlington, Vt., and previously taught at Harvard Law School.

A woman is dead after a Burlington gas station clerk says she poured gasoline on herself and lit a match.  It happened at the Champlain Farms Gas Station off of North Avenue in Burlington around noon.  According to a clerk, the woman came into the store and prepaid for gas.  She then went back out to her car, poured gasoline on herself and lit a match.  This situation might have caused severe destruction if the gas pumps would have blown up.  According to another clerk, the manager shut off power to the pumps and grabbed a fire extinguisher hoping to save the woman's life.  Fellow employees are calling her a hero.  "Casey grabbed the fire extinguisher, ran out there and put it out. And grabbed the woman by her belt so you know, she wouldn't catch fire again," says Andi Brown, a gas station clerk.  At this time police are not releasing the woman's name or if she had any mental illness.

A group is fighting to protect one of the great camps in New York’s Adirondacks.  That's why the friends of Eagle Island say they have sued the island's owner… the girl scouts heart of New Jersey. The Girl Scouts ran a camp here until they put the island up for sale for more than three million dollars.  The family that donated the island to the girl scouts and former campers want to stop the island and its buildings from becoming a private home.  "Without any restrictions, a person could buy it, tear everything down, and build what they want on it. It would never be a Girl Scout camp again. It would never be one of the five great camps that are left in the Adirondacks.” the group's hope is that the girl scouts would turn the island over to them and then it could be reopened as a camp.  The friends of Eagle Island say they tried to buy the island…but their million-dollar offer was rejected.  The girl scouts had no comment on the lawsuit.

Monday, June 25, 2012

WVTK Local & State News June 25, 2012

The Town of Moriah is sponsoring meetings to provide information to local residents and small businesses about free and low-cost energy services.  The meetings will be held tomorrow. The schedule is 1PM at the Moriah Senior Center, Port Henry Train Station, 14 Park Place, Port Henry; and 4:40 to 6:30PM at George’s Restaurant, with free pizza provided. Short presentations will be given at 5 and 6PM. Speakers from New York’s EmPower NY and Home Performance with Energy Star Programs will share information about free and low-cost energy services available to residences at all income levels. George’s Restaurant will discuss its experience with National Grid’s Small Business Program, which has resulted in savings on its electricity bill. Questions about the energy meetings should be addressed to Jennifer Monroe at 251-2525 or

After a 15-hour search, a 55-year-old father of two drowned last Thursday here in Middlebury. Police say 55-year old Yadji Moussa was a strong swimmer, but Otter Creek was stronger. With Thursday's record-breaking heat wave, Moussa went for a dip with three people he knew, the trio told police they saw him go under, and then never come up. The night sky put the search on hold, but Friday morning, searchers picked up right where they started. It took divers three hours to locate his body. Police say foul play is not suspected and that the drowning appears to be accidental.

Vermont State Police say an SUV has crashed into a barn, critically injuring a Killington woman.  Police say the 19-year-old Katherine Hone is in Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington with "significant incapacitating injuries." Hone was driving a GMC Yukon SUV Saturday afternoon that crossed the oncoming lane on Route 7 in New Haven and crashed into a barn.  Police say conditions were dry and clear, and it does not appear speed or alcohol were contributing factors in the crash.  Anyone who may have witnessed the accident or what led up to it is asked to contact The Vermont State Police New Haven Barracks.

Vermont State responded to a burglary complaint last Friday at 104 Blaises Trailer Park. Further investigation revealed entry was gained through the front door of the residence. An iPod, digital camera, and cash were taken from the residence. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Vermont State Police in New Haven at 802-388-4919.

The Town Of Middlebury Select Board will hold its regular meeting tomorrow evening at 7 at the Russ Sholes Senior Center in the lower level of the gym.  Items on tomorrow’s agenda include the award bid for Recycling and Paving of quarry road along with a brief update on other Public Works Projects.  The Board is also expected to award bids for police dispatch console replacement and cruiser radio upgrades, which are primarily grant funded.  The FY2013 Water and Wastewater Budgets will be previewed as well as a status report on the FY2012 Budget and the setting of the FY2013 Tax Rate.  For more details and a complete agenda just visit the Town Of Middlebury’s Website

A hiking trail to connect Vermont's Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail to a 4,600-mile path to North Dakota could be coming to Addison County.  The 40-mile route that the North Country National Scenic Trail would take from Crown Point to the Long Trail hasn't been chosen, but it is sure to make use of at least a portion of the 16-mile Trail Around Middlebury.  The Green Mountain Club and other Vermont organizations are working find a route for the trail that will need to be approved by Congress.  Closing the 40-mile gap is a priority for the Michigan-based North Country Trail Association, the group responsible for the trail from the western shore of Lake Champlain to North Dakota.

After four days of hearings, the District 1 Environmental Commission needs more information before ruling on an Act 250 land use permit for the proposed Killington ski village.  The three-member commission is seeking additional information from SP Land Co. and its plans to develop a village at the base of the ski area with an estimated price tag of $133.4 million. SP Land owns the property in and around the Snowshed and Ramshead base lodges.

The Essex County senior picnic may be revived.  Newcomb Supervisor George Canon moved a resolution through the Finance Committee meeting last week to restore up to $5,000 in funding needed to hold the annual Office for the Aging senior picnic this summer.  The picnic, which has been an annual event and has been held at several sites, was one of the victims of funding cuts in the 2012 budget.  County Manager Dan Palmer said that the county needs to get started soon so ground rules could be established for the negotiations to move forward.

The Willsboro Central School Board will discuss personnel, business and finance, and policies at a meeting set for 6PM tomorrow in the school’s conference room.  The public is invited.

Construction will begin on the new Keene Volunteer Fire Department station in August.  The facility, irreparably damaged on August 28, 2011, by Tropical Storm Irene, will be rebuilt on higher ground across from the Stewart’s Shop on Route 73, where Mountain Manor Lodge now stands.  Private tax-deductible gifts will be necessary to raise adequate funding for the project. The fundraising goal is $500,000. Already, more than $100,000 has been contributed toward the new firehouse, which has helped get the project started.

The New York State Agriculture Commissioner is reminding farmers to only sell to licensed farm product dealers this growing season. Article 20 of the New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, more commonly known as the Agricultural Producers Security Law, requires dealers to be licensed and contribute to a security fund in order to offer protection to farmers in the event of a defaulted payment. For up-to-date information about the law, a copy of the brochure or a list of licensed dealers, visit the department’s website or call 1-800-554-4501.

Vermont State Police say a 77-year-old woman has lost more than $18,000 in a phone scam.  Emily Kraft of Andover told police that a man called her, saying her grandson was in jail in New Orleans following an accident that had injured several people from Panama and caused property damage.  Investigators say the caller told Kraft she needed to wire $18,480 to Panama City, Panama, to have her grandson released from jail and pay for attorney and court fees. Another young man also got on the phone and identified himself as Kraft’s grandson, going so far as to call her “Grandy,” the name all her grandchildren call her.  Officials say the woman wired the money, but later discovered her grandson hadn’t been in an accident or in jail.

Vermont National Guard helicopters will be more visible over the next week.  Members of the Guard’s Air Ambulance Company, C/3-126, will train around the state, using airfields in South Burlington, Colchester, Rutland, Bennington, Middlebury and Franklin.   Officials say the Guard is training for Vermont emergencies and for future overseas missions.

Vermont State Police say the state's had 36 highway fatalities in 31 crashes so far this year, roughly double the number up to this time last year.  Hoping to reverse that pattern, police are planning checkpoints across the state during the Fourth of July holiday week, July 2-8.  Troopers will also be aggressively patrolling and enforcing motor vehicle laws that deal with aggressive driving, speeding and seatbelt use in high crash areas. The roadblocks will check for impaired drivers.

An eyewitness is disputing a police account of what happened when a 39-year-old man died after being shot in the chest with a stun gun. State police say Macadam Mason was yelling aggressively and moving toward a trooper with a closed fist when he was shot with a stun gun Wednesday. The son of Mason's girlfriend tells the Valley News that Mason didn't clench his fist or charge at the officers.

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking more power to control activities deemed incompatible with hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife viewing. At its June meeting, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board approved a rule would that apply to public activities on more than 133,000 acres managed by the department. To take effect, the rule must be approved by three separate votes.

A measure proposed by Sen. Charles Schumer to promote New York's maple syrup industry is headed to the House of Representatives.  The Senate this past week as part of the 2012 Farm Bill approved Schumer's legislation to create grants to encourage private property owners to expand their tapping operations or to make their land available for tapping.  Cornell University researchers have said producers tap less than 1% of available maple trees in New York. Schumer's bill is designed to increase that percentage.  Schumer says nearly three quarters of the tappable maple trees in New York are on privately owned land.  The House is expected to take up the Farm Bill next month.

A buyout of a company in Newport means 40 people working there will keep their jobs.  M-S-A North America is in the ballistic helmet business, and has a plant operating in Newport.  However, the company is going to stop making the helmets, and for a time it looked like that was the end of the Newport operation.  However, Revision Military in Essex, which makes military eyewear has just finalized the purchase of M-S-A North America's helmet plants, and will continue the manufacturing of the helmets at the Newport plant.

Senator Bernie Sanders is hailing the openings of new Veterans Affairs clinics in Vermont. He attended a ribbon cutting ceremony at a new VA clinic in Newport last week and noted the recent opening of a similar clinic in Brattleboro. He says about 8,600 veterans are now able to receive care at five clinics, in Newport, Colchester, Rutland, Brattleboro and Bennington.

Vermont's largest city will hold a major sculpture exhibit this summer. Burlington City Arts says it will feature a retrospective of the work of artist David Stromeyer. An opening reception will be held this Friday.

From Fox 44 and ABC 22 News – Your Voice in Vermont & New York:

The Coast Guard has found out the contents of the suspicious package dropped off near their station earlier today. It was an 8mm film, produced by the Coast Guard during the sixties, on boat safety.  Petty Officer Kravchuk said that the Vermont State Police bomb squad was the unit to eventually open the package but that the fire department, police, parks and recreation and even the FBI became involved in the situation.  He said that proper procedures were followed for the suspicious package at a federal building such as the Coast Guard station.  The box the film was in was labeled to an old military structure that is no longer in use, Kravchuk said.  The Coast Guard station was shut off from pedestrians after the man dropped it off and Burlington police say it's because of a suspicious package. The identity of the man is still unknown.  The security measures have now come down.  Some of Burlington's bicyclists were down by the building earlier as police realized they needed to lock down the area.  Mike Peirce and his son Joss were trying to take a bike ride and parked near the Coast Guard station when police told them they needed to stay away from the building.  "We were trying to go behind and skirt by the Coast Guard station to get on the bike path when they had it blocked off," Peirce said.  "The officer said there was a potential problem with a package."  Police and Coast Guard personnel started setting up stations along the Waterfront around 2 p.m. to start blocking pedestrians from coming near the building. Soon after came barricades and police tape.  Many pedestrians were wondering what was going on as they approached the scene and were told by police that there was an emergency situation and that they couldn't enter the area.  "He wasn't letting anybody through so we went around and we got on the bike path and went down to oak ledge," Peirce said.  "Now we're back and hoping that we can get our car."  Cars were stopped at the intersection of College St. and Lake St. while another barricade was set up further down on Lake St. as well as on the Waterfront. Police started letting some people through to get home or to their cars, but passersby were told to turn around and to steer clear of the coast guard station.

Yesterday, hundreds of people from all over our region gathered for the 10th annual strawberry festival in east Thetford Vermont.  And organizers say the festival focuses on teaching people about growing food organically.  Sunday afternoon--dozens of people walked rows of strawberries hoping to pick the ripest ones.  "It just doesn’t appear when they come into the store, that there is work involved.  David Devost knows picking strawberries is hard work and the festival is all about locally grown food  "I think it's very important for young kids today to get up with that principal of where our food comes from." this is the 10th year, people from the area have gathered to celebrate the juicy red, organically grown fruit. And organizers say the main goal is to promote local farming "so, its all about getting people more aware of how good local food is and how important it is to local economies" and they say the best way to do that--is through education "the whole issue is changing peoples minds about the way they even think about food. That is why its important that we have this education center here at the farm and we feel its really important to start with the kids" throughout the day, visitors enjoyed mostly free activities.  Horse-drawn wagon rides to and from the strawberry patch along with face painting, educational exhibits, and self-guided farm tours.