Tuesday, July 31, 2012

WVTK Local & State News July 31, 2012

For the past five years, Boys & Girls Clubs across Vermont have been the beneficiaries of the 100 on 100 Relay that is set to take place on Saturday, August 18th.  This is a 100-mile relay race through the heart of Vermont on the Route 100 corridor.  This year the Vergennes Club stands to raise more than $2,000 by providing volunteers at Transition Areas along the route where runners pass the baton to their teammate to continue the race.  With many thanks to the Vergennes Lions Club, they have the finish line at Okemo Resort fully stocked with volunteers, but they are still looking for more help at these two locations:  Harwood High School in Moretown from about 8:15 AM to 1:00 PM and the Granville Town Hall in Granville from about Noon to 4:00 PM. PLEASE consider helping them out at one of these areas and bringing some much needed funds to the Club!  To register or for more information contact the Boys & Club in Vergennes at (802) 877-6344 or Email bgcvergennes@comcast.net.

Voters will consider funding two water projects affecting about 85 connections in Pittsford today. Polls will open from 7AM to 7PM at the town offices.  The first bond totaling $260,000 will pay for the expansion of the town’s water system to include 24 connections in Fire District 1. The second bond, in the amount of $200,000, is part of a revolving fund established in the Legislature this past session to help construction private wells for about 60 customers who will be abandoned from the Proctor water system. 

The Select Board in Castleton hopes to get some answers to the town office conundrum with a five-question survey.  It comes on the heels of a focus group study conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute on behalf of the town.  The survey, which was sent to town residents in a recent tax bill, questions people on their preferred location for the town offices, what they want the town to do, if they should include emergency services in the project and how much money is too much money. The survey answers are due back to the town offices by August 31. The Select Board will use the information to determine its next step.

North Country Community College’s proposed 2012-13 budget passed Essex County on a preliminary 16-1 vote yesterday.  The spending plan comes up for final approval by the Essex County Board of Supervisors at 10 AM next Monday.  The Franklin County Legislature gave its final approval on July 19.  Both sponsor counties must OK the $13.6 million budget, which calls for county shares the same as last year: $1.19 million, which includes $100,000 for the college capital fund.

Ticonderoga Vocalist Kathryn V. Major will sing with the Lake Placid Sinfonietta during a performance in Ti Friday night. The performance will begin at 7:00 pm at St. Mary's Church. Ms. Major has been studying classical vocal performance at Baldwin-Wallace College, where she anticipates completing her bachelor's degree in music next winter. The Lake Placid Sinfonietta is the longest standing orchestra in the Adirondacks, approaching 100 years. Due to the generous support of their sponsors, the concert will be free to the public and donations will be accepted to support the Cultural Arts and Economic Development Initiatives.

The Crown Point thrift shop Second Blessings is collecting school supplies for local children.  The shop, operated by the First Congregational Church of Crown Point, wants to assist children and their parents prepare for the new school year that starts in September.  All items donated will be given to Crown Point Central School for distribution to children unable to provide their own supplies.  Needed are 12 and 24-boxes of crayons, glue sticks, pocket folders, small drinking cups, tissues, standard plastic pencil boxes, boxes of #2 pencils, boxes of assorted colored pencils, pencil cap erasers, loose leaf paper, composition notebooks, highlighters, gallon sized zip-locked bags, book bags large enough to hold books, sneakers and extra clothes. Second Blessings is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from10AM to 2PM.

Hannaford Supermarkets is once again warning of a food recall from one of its producers.  Burch Farms of North Carolina announced a recall of Athena cantaloupes this past weekend because they may contain Listeria. No illnesses have been associated with the recall, but customers should not consume the cantaloupes.  They are whole cantaloupes labeled Cantaloupe PLU 4319. You can return them to the store or dispose of them, but bring in the sticker for a full refund.  Hannaford Supermarkets is based in Maine and operates stores in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York including Middlebury, Brandon and Rutland.

The event that launched the sport of snowboarding 30 years ago is moving out of Vermont.  The Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships attract the greatest snowboarders in the world. The event was born in Vermont, and for the past 27 years it has been held at Stratton Mountain.  But yesterday, event sponsor Burton Snowboards announced it is moving the event to Vail, CO starting next winter. Burton founder Jake Burton Carpenter said in a news release the move that Vail offers an "ideal venue" that will provide for what he called the "future progression" of the event.

Vermont's senior senator is calling for the nearly two-century old canal linking the Hudson River and Lake Champlain to be closed to keep a new invasive species out of the lake.  But New York state officials are rejecting that plea from Sen. Patrick Leahy saying to close the Champlain Canal would do severe harm to the economy of east-central New York.  Leahy's concern is the spiny water flea, a half-inch-long barbed flea that, it's feared, has the potential to hurt fish populations in the lake. The creature has been found in the canal and is thought to be spreading toward the lake.  New York officials say they're talking with the Army Corps of Engineers about the best strategy, but they say closing portions of the canal isn't it.

Parts of Interstate 91 southbound were shut down overnight for two-and-a-half hours, and could be closed again for a time later today.  The problem was a tractor-trailer rig, which caught on fire and eventually was destroyed.  The driver says one of the tires on his big rig first started burning and while he was trying to put it out flames reached up to the tarp covering his load.  Clean-up crews say they'll need to shut down the highway for a while at some point today when they clear the charred remains out of there, but are not sure when that will happen.

A group backing continued operation of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant says the state may face an energy gap by 2016. The Vermont Energy Partnership says state utilities are expected to have commitments for just 60% of the power they would need in four years.

Amtrak says it's launching its eTicket program, which started as a pilot on the Downeaster, to all trains within its national network.  eTickets enable passengers to skip the line at the ticket window and go straight to the gate by printing their tickets anywhere or by using a Smartphone to present the eTicket to the conductor.  Lines where eTickets can be used include the Northeast Corridor, state-supported routes and long-distance services.

A civil liberties group in New York has joined a national effort seeking information on how police use data from automatic license plate readers to see whether drivers are being improperly tracked. State guidelines issued last year left details on how the data is used up to local police departments.

An archaeologist is leading resumed excavations along Lake Champlain's western shore where American troops built an encampment during the War of 1812. The Press-Republican of Plattsburgh reports that the work has uncovered military artifacts that confirmed the site as Pike's Cantonment. British troops burned the site in 1813.

Vermont State Police believe a 15-year-old boy was accidentally shot to death with a muzzleloader. Police got a 911 call from a home in Brownington on Saturday night about the shooting. Cody Cole was taken to North Country Hospital in Newport, where he later died. An autopsy will be done. It was not immediately known who fired the shot.

The state of Vermont has received approval to apply for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for repairs from last year's flooding. FEMA had ruled earlier that the state wasn't eligible to apply for the aid at first. That's now been reversed. One of the projects officials hope to receive assistance for is a 93-mile trail across northern Vermont.

A 46-year-old Brattleboro man faces charges in what authorities say was a July 7 arson fire on South Main Street in the town.  James A. Ryan of Brattleboro was arraigned Monday in the criminal division of Windham Superior Court on the arson charge as well as multiple counts of recklessly endangering another person and giving false reports to police.  None of the residents of the 10-unit apartment building was injured in the fire, but a firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion at the scene.  Authorities say some of the apartments suffered moderate damage.

A new state law in New York will soon prohibit teenagers younger than 17 from using indoor tanning beds.  The legislation, signed into law earlier this month by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, is designed to protect teens from dangerous exposure to UV radiation by limiting their access to indoor tanning facilities. Previously, children age 14 to 18 were required to present the signature of a parent or legal guardian to access indoor tanning facilities. Children under 14 were prohibited.  As of August 15, no one younger than 17 will be allowed to tan at such facilities, and those who are 17 must obtain parental consent.

You can catch more Jazz this Thursday in Brandon. Brandon Music on Country Club Road will present Michael Benedict & Bopitude Thursday evening at 7:30. General Admission is $12. Brandon Music offers an Early Bird dinner special, which includes a ticket for the jazz performance, for $22 per person. Michael Benedict & Bopitude revisits the most memorable tunes of the hard bop era while bringing back to life some more obscure treasures from the past.  Get details right now by clicking HERE.

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

Top Canadian and U.S. officials discussed the future of energy, the environment and transportation at a two-day conference in Burlington. It was the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers 36th annual event.  Bringing tar sands oil through Vermont is one of the main concerns protesters have, but Governor Shumlin made it clear today that that will never happen.  "That goes in the category of things I think will never happen," Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said.  Governor Shumlin confidently told the crowd Monday that tar sands oil will never flow through Vermont. In fact, the Governor says the group of leaders is in harmony with much of their agenda.  "We should work more quickly to move to renewable's that don't emit carbon and compromise our kids and our grand kids future," Governor Shumlin said.  That's the plan, generate as many local and affordable, renewable resources as possible.  "We're going to be a lot further along in 50 years, we're going to be a lot cleaner in 50 years than we are today," Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy said.  The Governors and Premiers say progress is already being made. The future of New England and Canada will have faster trains by next year and a Montreal connection soon after. They're also promising recharging stations for electric cars. Quebec has set an ambitious goal that by 2020, 25% of all the cars on the road will be electric.  "We can probably accomplish that in a pretty timely manner and send a pretty powerful signal that this is where the future is," Quebec Premier Jean Charest said.  But leaders say the future depends on how quickly we can end our addiction to foreign oil.  "The cost of retrofitting some of the older coal burning plants may actually be a better technology delivered at less expense," Governor Malloy said.  A lot of the conversation was also focused on creating green energy jobs. The conference next year will be in Quebec.

The Internet is flooded with videos of the protest of the Conference of New England governors and Canadian premiers that turned violent Sunday. Now both protesters and police are taking the next step in resolving the controversy but police say they know who started it.  "The aggressive actions were precipitated not by police but by folks who were intentionally trying to inhibit the movement of people who were trying to make their way to dinner," Burlington Police Chief Mike Schirling said.  Burlington police are now assessing the altercation and determining whether charges should be filed against any of the protesters. They'll be using any video online they can find.  "Gives us a clear picture of how things transpired," Chief Schirling said.  "It will help very much in identifying those who may be responsible for criminal acts during that event."  Protesters who were shot with defensive ammunition yesterday met with members of the Vermont Law Center Monday at Burlington College. They refused an interview at the time but one member of the Vermont Law Center said that they will be holding a press conference Wednesday at 12:00 PM outside of City Hall. They said that taking legal action against police was not talked about but no action is off the table.  A small group of protesters did gather at Perkins Pier to make a statement as New England governors and Canadian premiers left from Burlington.

Joseph Bolduc, 25 of Burlington was teary eyed as he walked into a Rutland, Vermont courtroom Monday.  The Burlington man pleaded not guilty to four charges, including second-degree murder for the death of Conrad Bell.  During the five-minute arraignment, Bell's wife, Tori, stood, and stared down Bolduc.  "He ripped my heart out because I loved that man so much and he took him away from me," said Bell.  It all happened Friday night.  State police say Bolduc went to a party in Ferrisburgh looking for someone.  After learning he wasn't there, police say Bolduc started a fight.  During it, police say Bolduc hit Bell with a tire iron multiple times in the neck and took off.  An injury friend says he never should have received.  Friend Todd Huestis says Bell was trying to break up the brawl.  "I hate to say it he saved my life. Why I didn't get hit in the head with a weapon is beyond me," said Huestis.  In court, Bolduc's family and friends had a hard time comprehending what had happened.  "It's just so hard to see him look like that because that's not the Joe I know," said Naomi Manning.  As emotional as it was inside the courtroom, outside was just as tough.  "I love you Conrad," said Huestis.  For Bell's wife, she says even though Bolduc has been charged with her husband's death, it's going to be awhile before she and her two children can move on.   The crime happened in Addison County, and the arraignment was supposed to take place there this afternoon.  But because no judge was available they moved it to Rutland County.  Bolduc is being held without bail.  He'll be back in court later this week.

Monday, July 30, 2012

WVTK Local & State News July 30, 2012

The 2012 Transportation Planning Excellence Award for outstanding work on the Lake Champlain Bridge has been bestowed jointly to New York and Vermont, which was funded by both states and managed by the New York State Department of Transportation. Nominations for the award were reviewed by an independent panel of judges who selected winners based on community and public involvement, innovative approaches to completion, context sensitive solutions to enhance the community and natural environment, collaboration with other public or private entities and long-term benefits of the project.

A Vergennes man lost his life and a Burlington man is in jail following a fight in Ferrisburgh over the weekend.  Police said 40-year-old Conrad Bell was taken to Fletcher Allen Health Care, where he died from his injuries. Police did not say how the injuries were inflicted, but categorized the death as a homicide.  Stephanie Dasaro, public information officer for the state police, said Joseph Bolduc was identified as a suspect. Bolduc was arrested, but as of Saturday afternoon he had not been formally charged with taking the life of Bell.  The investigation is ongoing. 

[Update] A man accused of killing another over the weekend will be in an Addison County courtroom today.  Vermont State Police say Joseph Bolduc is charged with second-degree homicide, his third D-U-I, leaving the scene of an accident and resisting arrest.  He's accused of showing up at a party in Ferrisburgh late Friday night and getting into a fight with several others.  Police say Conrad Bell tried to break it up but was badly hurt and later died.  Bolduc is also accused with assaulting troopers when they tried to arrest him.

New Haven Troopers were dispatched to several reports of stolen items over the weekend at Bartlett Falls in the Town of Bristol.  Vermont State Police are looking for several stolen cell phones, keys, bags and several sets of sunglasses.  Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Vermont State Police at 802-388-4919.  Information can also be submitted anonymously online at www.vtips.info or text "CRIMES" (274637) to Keyword: VTIPS  Vermont State Police would like to encourage community members and visitors not to leave anything valuable in their vehicles or along the river bank.

Voters will consider funding two water projects affecting about 85 connections in Pittsford tomorrow. Polls will open from 7AM to 7PM at the town offices.  The first bond totaling $260,000 will pay for the expansion of the town’s water system to include 24 connections in Fire District 1. The second bond, in the amount of $200,000, is part of a revolving fund established in the Legislature this past session to help construction private wells for about 60 customers who will be abandoned from the Proctor water system. 

The Vermont State Police, Rutland Barracks has scheduled an Information-Sharing Forum to take place at the Castleton Community Center, located on Route 4A in Castleton, just east of the Castleton Four Corners, on Tuesday night August 14th at 6:30PM.  This forum was set up to answer questions and take input from the public in regards to the possible closure of the Castleton Outpost.  All are invited to attend.

The Rotary Club of Middlebury recently replaced the town’s welcome sign along Route 7 with a new one made by Mountain Signs of Ripton.  The sign matches the newly restored one north of town recently installed by the Lions Club. The Rotarian sign is located along Route 7 just south of Three-Mile Bridge Road and the Route 7 Bridge across the Middlebury River.

An Addison County hops grower will share his experiences with designing, constructing and maintaining a sustainable, organic hop-yard on August 23rd, at a University of Vermont Extension-sponsored field day.  Kris Anderson, owner of Addison Hop Farm will describe how he designed his trellis system as well as developed a business plan for his three-year-old operation after attending a UVM business class.  Anderson also will discuss other aspects of his operation including variety selection and post-harvest handling.  In addition, UVM Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Program faculty and staff will be on hand to update farmers on their hops research. The program runs from 3 to 6 PM at the farm in Addison. The registration fee is $15, due by August 14th.  Farmers may register online at www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil

The University of Vermont Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Program is seeking Vermont farmers for a pilot project on aerial seeding of cover cropping by helicopter.  Any farmers who spring till and want to improve their soils while minimizing erosion and nitrogen losses are eligible.  Aerial seeding is tentatively scheduled for August between the tassel and early dent stage of corn, so farmers are urged to sign up soon.  Funding for this project will be available to farms through a number of different partners including U.S. Department of Agriculture; the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets; the Natural Resources Conservation Service and UVM.  Interested farmers are asked to contact Jeff Sanders, UVM agronomy outreach professional, at jeffrey.sanders@uvm.edu or Dr. Heather Darby, UVM Extension agronomist, at heather.darby@uvm.edu. Both can be reached by calling the UVM Extension office at (800) 639-2130.

Non-profits and small businesses throughout the region will receive help from the state of New York in their continuing plight to recover from Tropical Storm Irene. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office announced the grants, which were awarded to small businesses and not-for-profits in the North Country through the Business Flood Recovery Grant Program, part of 584 eligible entities that sustained direct, flood-related damage as a result of Tropical Storm Irene or Tropical Storm Lee.  Overall, the entities will receive a total of $7.9 million in assistance through the Business Flood Recovery Grant Program.

An assistant New Hampshire attorney general is linking a murder suspect now in an Alaskan jail with two murder cases in northern New England.  Assistant A-G Jane Young said Sunday state police working the homicide last year of an 11-year-girl are aware of 34-year-old Israel Keyes, now charged with the kidnapping and murder of a young woman in Alaska. Keyes also reportedly checked into an Essex hotel the day before Bill and Lorraine Currier disappeared from their home in Essex, and checked out the day after they vanished.  Sources say Keyes reportedly told investigators where they could find the missing Vermont couple, but so far their remains have not been recovered.

A new emergency access ramp is expected to make a big difference in the response time to problems on Interstate 89 in Milton.  The new ramp opened up Friday close to an area known for crashes, and is expected to cut down response time from 15 minutes to just a couple of minutes.  A lieutenant with the Milton Fire Department says they've been fighting to get the new emergency access ramp in between Exits 17 and 18 for the past seven years.

Energy and transportation issues are expected to top the agenda as Vermont plays host to the 36th annual meeting of the New England governors and eastern Canadian premiers.  The regional leaders are to gather in Burlington for a daylong series of meetings today.  During the morning, leaders will discuss strategies for development of renewable energy and deployment of more energy efficiency measures. Then their focus shifts to the potential for electric vehicles, both their impact on transportation and on the electrical grid.  In the afternoon, the governors and premiers will discuss transportation issues, and keeping cross-border transportation smooth in the post-9/11 age of heightened security.

A protest group official says police in riot gear have used rubber and pepper bullets against protesters at the annual meeting of the New England governor sand eastern Canadian premiers.  Avery Pittman of Burlington, spokeswoman for participating protest groups, says police in riot gear used the rubber and pepper bullets against protesters blocking busses trying to leave a Burlington hotel that is the site of the conference.  The conference officially opens today.

Vermont police are investigating the theft of a gold medallion bearing an image of poet Robert Frost.  Police say the theft was reported Saturday afternoon at the Robert Frost Stone House Museum in Shaftsbury, which located in a house where Frost lived from 1920 to 1929.  Authorities say the small medallion is about 1-inch in diameter and was taken from a display case at the museum, but it's unclear when the theft took place. The medallion, which has been at the museum since 2003, was the only item taken.  Police didn't put a value on the medallion.

Crews have erected the first of 21 wind turbines on Vermont's Lowell Mountain.  Green Mountain Power says the turbine was erected Friday afternoon.  The company says the Kingdom Community Wind project will generate the electrical needs of about 24,000 Vermont homes when it's completed at the end of the year.

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos is highlighting steps taken by his colleagues from around the country to boost voter registration.  Condos says the National Association of Secretaries of State recently passed resolutions urging states to use information collected by federal agencies to help register people to vote. He says the group is pushing states to use their own agencies' data for the same purpose.  At the same time, the group is promoting Sept. 25 as National Voter Registration Day, when members plan to step up efforts across the country to get people registered in advance of the November election.  Condos’ says that in Vermont, he'll be working with the League of Women Voters and other groups to encourage registration and voting.

Plattsburgh State has been reaffirmed as an accredited university by one of the nation's recognized, regional accrediting bodies.   The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a division of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, recently renewed the college's accredited status through 2022. In a written report of the findings from their campus visit, the reviewers commended Plattsburgh State for its Educational Opportunities Program, which caters to at-risk students, as well as the college's dedication to providing support to all of its students.

Once again there will be narrated boat cruises on Schroon Lake. The cruises are held each Tuesday and Thursday morning at 11 AM and are sponsored by the Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce.  They will run through Thursday, August 16th.  The cruises depart from the Word of Life Island dock just south of the village area at Island Access Way and there is parking available. Donations for tickets will be $10 a person.

You are invited to two days of fun, music, shopping, dining, and entertainment at Downtown Rutland's Summer Sidewalk and Food Festival this Friday and Saturday.  Center Street, portions of Evelyn Street, and Merchants Row will be closed to vehicular traffic.  Festival hours are Friday, 9 AM to 10 PM and Saturday, 9 AM to 4 PM. This annual summer sidewalk shopping and food extravaganza attracts thousands of residents and visitors to Downtown Rutland. The event offers children's activities, demonstrations, dancing, theatre, and more. There is no admission fee for this two-day event. Items such as maple products, clothing, jewelry, books, toys and games, fine art and antiques, rocks, fossils and minerals, foods for every taste and palate and much more will be for sale.

A reminder that the 20th annual Ticonderoga Area Car Show will be held this Sunday in Ticonderoga’s Bicentennial Park 9 AM to 4 PM. As part of the Ticonderoga Area Car Show, the Kiwanis Club of Ticonderoga Duck Race will be held on Sunday. The race will begin at 11 a.m. on the LaChute River in Bicentennial Park. Ducks will be available for purchase that morning. Spectators are free on the day of the show, although donations will be accepted.  For more information just visit www.ticonderogany.com

History will come alive at Fort Ticonderoga as the historic site hosts “Relief & Refit.”  The living history event will be held Saturday and Sunday. It will feature a look at Gen. Amherst’s British and provincial army at Fort Ticonderoga in the aftermath of the destruction of France’s southernmost stronghold on Lake Champlain in 1759. Fort Ticonderoga is open from 9:30 AM until 5 PM daily. Admission to “Relief & Refit” is included with Fort Ticonderoga’s general admission ticket. For information just visit   http://www.fortticonderoga.org/learn/reenactors/1759_amhersts_men or call 585-2821.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

WVTK Local & State News July 27, 2012

Vermont State Police are investigating a burglary and theft of a large amount of jewelry from an unoccupied residence on North Street in Bristol. The incident occurred while the owner was away on business. The estimated value of jewelry stolen is over $7, 000 dollars.  The State Police are encouraging you to take precautions when leaving your home unoccupied for an extended period of time. Learn more about keeping your home safe HERE.  The State Police are soliciting your assistance. Please contact them at 802-388-4919 if they have information regarding this crime or any other suspicious activity in the area.

The Middlebury Select Board approved the proposed FY2013 Water and Wastewater budgets as proposed. While the approved budgets do not require increases in utility rates this year, staff noted the use of $59,000 in surplus funds in the wastewater department from previous years to avoid an increase in sewer rates in FY2013. Staff also noted that rate increases may be required in the next fiscal year in order to fund capital projects.

The contract for Green Mountain Place Utility Upgrade Project has been awarded. The Middlebury Select Board awarded the bid to the low bidder, Markowski Excavating, Inc. with four members in favor and three opposed.

The Middlebury Select-Board accepted the Downtown Improvement District Commission's recommendation to award the bid for a parking study in the Downtown to RSG for $10,000. The study will take place in August, with a final report anticipated in mid-October.

This week at the Middlebury Select-Board meeting the Fire Facilities Committee Chairperson Patrick Shaw reported that the work on Stations #1 and #2 is progressing nicely, on schedule and on budget.  Also the Epoxy Floor Finish in Fire Stations #1 & #2 was approved as well as the Standing Seam Metal Roof for Station #2.

At this week’s Middlebury Select Board meeting the Agreement with Vermont Emergency Management for Technical Rescue Team Response was approved. The agreement formalizes the current understanding between VEM and the Town and provides compensation for the Town's response to calls by the Technical Rescue Team.

On Tuesday the Town Offices/Community Steering Committee heard about support available from Efficiency Vermont as the Town considers the construction of a new Community Center and renovation and rehabilitation of the gym. Efficiency Vermont stressed the importance of including planning for energy efficiency and consumption early in the conceptual phase of the project.  The Committee also discussed reaching out to the community to encourage public participation in the project planning process. There are currently two new task forces for the project that are being formed, the Finance and Fundraising Task Force and the Municipal Gym Task Force. Residents should contact the Town Manager's Office, 388-8100, ext. 200, to find out more or to express interest in serving on these task forces.

Chinese Students have been touring Addison County by bike thanks to Sojourn bike tours.  Chinese high school students have been visiting Middlebury Union High School this month.  Sue Rand of Sojourn led a 16-mile bike tour of Addison County with 30 of the Asian students along with Middlebury Union High and Middle School student ambassadors on Wednesday.  After studying English at the high school in Middlebury during morning hours for several days, the students will depart for China August 4th.

Ten 4-H teens from three Vermont counties participated in Citizenship Washington Focus in Washington, D.C., one of the largest national citizenship education programs for youth.  The Vermont 4-Hers, along with delegates from several other states, attended the June 30th - July 6th session. The visit was coordinated by University of Vermont Extension and funded in part by the State 4-H Foundation, local county 4-H foundations and donations.  Attendees from Addison County were Britney Hill of Bristol along with Alexis Ouellette and Sharon Palmer both from Weybridge.

The Three Day Stampede toward the cure for Cystic Fibrosis starts today and runs through Sunday in Bristol at the Vermont Recreation Field. This event includes a giant lawn sale with over 20 tents full of goodies, a silent auction, a 5K run, a walk a thon, a flea market, and food concessions. All proceeds benefit Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Fort Ticonderoga will host the first-ever joint conference on Lake Champlain and Lake George.  The conference will be held Saturday and Sunday, August 11th and 12th.  This new conference explores the history, geography, culture, ecology and current issues related to the Lake George and Lake Champlain region. Registration for the conference is now open. You can learn more about the conference by downloading a conference brochure from the Fort Ticonderoga website at www.fort-ticonderoga.org.

Moments after Franklin County legislators killed a plan to convert an unused bookmobile into a shared mobile-command vehicle, a plea from firefighters resuscitated the idea.   The Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System took its bookmobile out of circulation in September 2001, when it could no longer afford to operate the traveling book-loan program. During a recent meeting of the Public Safety Committee, they informally voted 4 to 2 to walk away from the deal.  But when the full legislature session was convened and members heard from Malone Chief Brian Gokey a few minutes later, the seven-member panel asked for more information from County Attorney Jonathan Miller and vowed to bring up the idea again at its next meeting on August 2nd.

The highest court in Massachusetts has found that civil unions for gay couples in Vermont should be treated as the equivalent of marriage in Massachusetts. The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that a couple who enters into a civil union in Vermont must dissolve that union before either can get married in Massachusetts.

Two Burlington beaches closed earlier this week due to high levels of E. coli bacteria are open to swimming once again.  The latest tests revealed the bacteria levels in the waters off of Leddy and North beaches are back below guidelines, opening it up once again for swimming.  The closures Tuesday and Wednesday came after regularly scheduled tests detected the high amounts of the bacteria.  Very heavy rainfall earlier in the week likely caused the flush of bacteria-filled soil particles into Lake Champlain.

Nurses and residents at the Vermont Veterans Home in Bennington say there's a huge lack of staff, and it's impacting care of vets living there.  They spoke out during a recent public meeting, with one nurse saying it's becoming increasingly difficult to provide the highest quality care, especially with low morale due to management.  The Bennington Banner is reporting mandatory overtime is a nearly daily occurrence.  The union representing the nurses there says the last four-week work schedule had 177 open shifts, and that was even before anyone called out of work.  The Vermont Worker's Center sponsored the meeting.

Town officials in Fair Haven are open to leasing office space to the Vermont State Police if the outpost on Route 4A closes at the end of the summer.  The agency may close the outpost at Castleton Corners after 30 years and needs a new base of operations in the region. The ideal place is Fair Haven. Fair Haven Police Chief William Humphries said the department has enough space to accommodate the troopers.

Legislation signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week will help the region’s ongoing battle against invasive species.  The Invasive Species Prevention Act, unanimously passed by the New York State Legislature in June, is designed to create a statewide regulatory system to prohibit or limit the sale and transport of plants and animals known to threaten communities, natural areas and job-creating industries that depend on natural resources.

Golfers and sports fans will again come together to help raise funds for a degenerative disease that afflicts many in the Champlain Valley.  The Third Annual ALS Raising Hope Foundation Golf Tournament will be held this Saturday at the Harmony Golf Course is Port Kent. Just in the past year, eight more local residents have been diagnosed with the disease from Rouses Point, Champlain, West Chazy, Cumberland Head, Plattsburgh, Westport and Ticonderoga. For more information, visit www.alsraisinghope.org. Proceeds from the event go to the ALS Raising Hope Foundation.

Coming up this Sunday there will be a benefit Spaghetti Dinner in Ticonderoga at the American Legion.  It begins at Noon and runs until it sells out.  A horseshoe tournament and various raffles are also part of this benefit.  The cost is $5.00 per person for horseshoes.  The dinner is to benefit Connor Courtright.  He’s a local 6-year-old boy who has been diagnosed with B-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. 

For the past five years, Boys & Girls Clubs across Vermont have been the beneficiaries of the 100 on 100 Relay that is set to take place on Saturday, August 18th.  This is a 100-mile relay race through the heart of Vermont on the Route 100 corridor.  This year the Vergennes Club stands to raise more than $2,000 by providing volunteers at Transition Areas along the route where runners pass the baton to their teammate to continue the race.  With many thanks to the Vergennes Lions Club, they have the finish line at Okemo Resort fully stocked with volunteers, but they are still looking for more help at these two locations:  Harwood High School in Moretown from about 8:15 AM to 1:00 PM and the Granville Town Hall in Granville from about Noon to 4:00 PM. PLEASE consider helping them out at one of these areas and bringing some much needed funds to the Club!  To register or for more information contact the Boys & Club in Vergennes at (802) 877-6344 or Email bgcvergennes@comcast.net.

Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburgh will be holding their Annual Pie and Ice Cream Social on Sunday, Aug. 12th from 1 – 4PM.  Rokeby Museum volunteers have been perfecting the art of pie baking for more than 25 years.  Peach, apple, berry pies of every kind, even recipes from the Robinson family collection, including maple butternut chiffon with ice cream from Vermont’s Wilcox Dairy. The Vergennes City Band will provide live music.  Guided tours of the house will be available every half-hour throughout the afternoon; tour admission is $6 adults, $4 for seniors and students, and $2 for children.  Rokeby was home to four generations of the Robinson family, from 1793 to 1961. The Museum is located on Route 7 in Ferrisburgh.

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

A New Hampshire community is fighting for justice for a girl who was killed.  A year ago, Celina Cass disappeared from her West Stewartstown home.  She was found dead nearby.  A year later, prosecutors still say no one has been charged with her death.  Family and friends of Cass came together in West Stewartstown for a vigil Thursday.  In the same park a year ago, they prayed for her safe return after the 11-year-old disappeared from her nearby home.  A week after Cass vanished, searchers found her dead in the Connecticut River.  Police say she had been killed.   "We don't want Celina remembered just for the way she died," says Amanda Chapple.  Chapple is a family friend and helped organize the vigil.  "Our goal is to get justice for Celina and the proper justice, not just anybody.  We want the right person," says Chapple.   As for when there will be justice for Cass, that's unclear.  The New Hampshire Attorney General's Office will just say the case is under investigation but wouldn't say if they're close to naming suspects or making any arrests.  For now, family and friends remember the good times, the laughter, and love that Cass brought to the community.  The attorney general's office says there are three state troopers almost exclusively assigned to the case and they are working with the FBI.

A number of Vermont economic leaders took an unusual business trip Thursday.  Walking through the rain and wind they boarded an army black hawk helicopter.  The destination was supposed to be Fort Drum, but the weather only allowed for a short trip over the National Guard base in South Burlington.  Military leaders say this was a way to thank business owners.  "Cause let's face it the employers have sacrificed to allow their members to be in the guard," said Major General Michael Dubie.  Besides the flight, owners got to learn about equipment, military training and even got to taste the food soldiers live off of when deployed.  "To come out here and actually see what they do on their weekends and their two weeks and deployment was a great time," said Shelburne Plastics manager Kristin Robillard.  It also gave people a chance to ask questions to the head of the guard.  In a couple weeks Dubie will be leaving.  In his six years as head of the guard, the base has gone from 80% capacity to nearly 100.  That means more employees available for jobs off the base.  Thursday, employers expressed concern over those jobs.  In the past, Dubie has said, if the base doesn't get the louder F-35 fighter jet, the guard will be reduced. To qualm their fears, Dubie introduced them to the man taking over and shared his plans to keep the guard alive for many years to come.  An experience that some say was exactly what they needed to hear.  "It seems like General Dubie has left it in good hands," said Robillard.  Dubie isn't leaving the military.  He's been promoted to lieutenant general and will be stationed in Colorado next month.  He'll be responsible for protecting the U.S., as well as Canada, Mexico and international waters.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

WVTK Local & State News July 26, 2012

State officials say Vermont filmmaker Malcolm "Mac" Parker has agreed in civil court that he defrauded hundreds of people who thought they were investing in a movie out of a total of $28 million.  Parker, of Addison, this spring had pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges of conspiring to commit wire fraud and filing a false tax document. He's awaiting sentencing. Meanwhile, he has admitted to the allegations made in a civil suit brought by the state Department of Financial Regulation, which oversees the securities industry.  Authorities say a substantial amount of investors' money went not for the movie project, but to pay off earlier investors or to a silent partner of Parker's, Louis Soteriou.  Soteriou is facing federal criminal charges for his involvement in the alleged fraud.

The Vermont State Police in New Haven are investigating the theft of an inspection sticker from a dump truck owned by the Town of Salisbury.  At the time of the theft, earlier this month, the dump truck was parked at the Salisbury landfill located on Upper Plains Road.  Police estimated that the theft occurred between July 4 and July 17.  Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Vermont State Police in New Haven at 802-388-4919. Information can also be submitted online at www.vtips.info or text "CRIMES" (274637) to keyword: VTIPS

Officials at a newly revamped VA clinic in Rutland are hoping the new look will bring in more patients.  The 5,300-square-foot Veterans Affairs outpatient facility on West Street is much bigger than the former clinic.  Health care workers hope that convenience will make it easier for veterans to tend to their health care needs without having to travel.  There are 1,400 veterans assigned to the clinic, but doctors estimate that there are a few hundred more in the area who have not yet set up any primary health care services.

Green Mountain Power Corp. is cutting a break for its commercial customers in Proctor who were hit with a mammoth rate increase last year.  Green Mountain Power is working on a proposal to phase in rates for Proctor’s 62 commercial customers.  Officials say their goal is to phase in the new rates over three years to reduce the cost impact on local business. The Public Service Board will hold a workshop in Proctor on Monday, at which time GMP will provide details of its proposal.

The New York State Police in Lewis arrested two Moriah residents after an altercation in front of their Witherbee Road residence on Sunday.  At about 5PM Jessica Crane of Moriah was involved in a verbal dispute with Robert N. Brown when she was assaulted several times by Sara Nunez-Mendez. Brown was charged with second-degree robbery, second-degree menacing and third-degree assault and arraigned in Elizabethtown Town Court. He was committed to the Essex County Jail.  Nunez-Mendez was charged with third-degree assault, issued an appearance ticket and released.

For the third consecutive year, Ticonderoga Federal Credit Union will host its back-to-school supply drive for area students.  From July 30th through August 31st the credit union will collect donations of school supplies through collection bins in all branches and ATM locations to benefit students in these areas. All supplies will be distributed by the credit union to the schools, which will be able to direct the resources where they are needed most. Visit TFCU’s website, www.tfcunow.com or contact any branch at 585-6725 for more information.

Homeless and at-risk veterans will be offered a helping hand through almost $2 million in grant monies to help them get back on their feet.  Through a Soldier On grant, homeless and at-risk veterans in upstate Eastern and Central New York will be provided $1,976,402 in grants awarded to Soldier On by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Over the past year, SO grants have helped 12 veterans and their households in Clinton County, six in Essex County, 11 in Franklin County and 68 in a grouped district of Warren, Saratoga, Washington, and Hamilton county.

The ProAct Prescription Discount Card Program is saving users 10 to 20 percent on brand names and 20 to 70 percent on generic medications.  It has been available to Essex County residents for just under one year now. Clinton and Franklin counties also make the card available to their residents.  The discount card was introduced to ensure that local residents with little or no prescription coverage can obtain their medications at an affordable price. The Essex County program covers every medication, including some pet medications. Cards are accepted at most pharmacies within Essex County and at more than 60,000 pharmacies nationwide.

A new poll shows New Yorkers still love Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But as president? Not so much. The Quinnipiac University poll finds 73% of New Yorkers approve of the job the Democrat is doing in Albany. But just 36% of those polled want Cuomo to run for president in 2016.

With the first sighting of a new aquatic species in the Lake Champlain water basin, officials are moving into action in hopes of preventing the creature from entering the lake.  Scientists studying the invasion by the spiny water flea believe action should take place immediately.  The tiny animal, originally from Eurasia, feeds off plankton and can severely impact the food chain in a body of water it invades; it was identified earlier this month in the Champlain Canal.

There's a lot of celebrating going on for users of the Internet in Lamoille County.  That's because the first-ever high-speed Internet service kicked in to about eight-hundred addresses in Cambridge, Waterville, Jeffersonville and parts of Fletcher.  Governor Peter Shumlin checked out the service at the Jeffersonville town library, and thanked FairPoint Communications for its work.  A grant of 778-thousand dollars from the Vermont Telecommunications Authority paid the bulk of the 950-thousand needed for the hookup.

Construction finally starts Monday to a key section of the bike path and pedestrian walkway linking Burlington to the Lake Champlain islands.  The Colchester Causeway still needs repairs after the devastating spring flooding last year.  It's this section, which usually brings in millions of dollars' worth of spending into the area.  Most of the three-and-a-half mile path is in disrepair with washouts in some areas as deep as three feet.  Reconstruction starting next week is due to wrap up the first week of November, with federal funds covering 75-percent of the costs.

Vermont schools, towns, cities and nonprofit groups will get another chance at surplus office equipment that's being removed from the Waterbury State Office Complex before it's rebuilt.  The so-called tag sale takes place tomorrow in Waterbury starting at 8AM.  The state has replenished its supply of furnishings after a sale to nonprofit organizations last week.  State officials expect all the surplus inventory to be out of the complex by the end of August so that work can start on buildings that were flooded by Tropical Storm Irene last August.

Residents of Rutland have a unique opportunity to learn about how their water is treated and the options that are available to meet EPA’s more stringent regulations.  This evening at 7 at the Rutland Intermediate School on Library Avenue the chief environmental investigator for Erin Brockovich, Bob Bowcock who is a drinking water expert, will be speaking about national water disinfection problems and solutions.

The state says the release of more than half a million gallons of chlorinated water from a water treatment facility into Lake Champlain is not a threat.  The St. Albans City Water Treatment Facility says a chlorine pump malfunctioned Tuesday, causing the bleach water to release prematurely into Stevens Brook. The water missed the final step in the dechlorination process. Officials say water levels were high in the brook because of storms during the discharge.

The private company that operates Vermont's electric transmission network will soon get new board members appointed to represent the public.  The change is happening as a result of the merger between Vermont's two largest utilities. The Shumlin Administration insisted - and the utilities agreed - that the new merged company would not hold a majority interest in the Vermont Electric Power Company.  So a new non-profit corporation was created to ensure more public involvement in the operation of Vermont's electric grid.  The other job for the new non-profit corporation is to disperse an estimated $1 million annually for low-income energy projects. The money will come from the non-profit's share of VELCO's stock dividends.

Vermont's U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy has cast his 14,000th roll call vote.  Leahy's office says just six other senators in history have reached that milestone.  And no other sitting senator, except for one in Hawaii, has cast so many votes.  The vote came Wednesday afternoon on a bill about extending tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year.  Leahy joined the Senate in 1975.

Jazz returns to the Brandon Music Café this evening on Country Club Road in Brandon!  This week they present bassist John Menegon at 7:30PM. John Menegon started his career as a bassist in Montreal. After working for several years on the Canadian jazz scene he went on to hone his skills in New York City in the mid-80s.  General Admission is $12. Brandon Music offers an Early Bird dinner special, which includes a ticket for the jazz performance, for $22 per person.  Get details HERE!

The 20th Annual Ticonderoga Area Car Show will be held Sunday, August 5th in Ticonderoga’s Bicentennial Park from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM. There will be 27 classes with awards in each class. The show is a judged show and a “SuperWheels Showdown” Qualifier.  The first 150 People registered will receive a goody bag & dash plaque! During the Car Show there will be food, vendors, a 50/50 Raffle, silent auction raffle tent, Car Show Raffle and music by Jerry’s Juke Box as well as the Kiwanis Duck Race, a Piston Toss, Muffler Wrap and a Hoola Hoop Contest.  Visit www.ticonderogany.com for full details.

Excellent weather, fresh Vermont air, and non-stop musical sets described the 2012 Vermont SolarFest, which was held in Tinmouth last weekend.  This annual “Sun-Powered Woodstock Event” also included camping, environmental and energy workshops, a musical-petting zoo, daily yoga sessions, and an abundance of local foods.  While attendees enjoyed the music, Dark Star Lighting and Production, a Hinesburg-based business, illuminated the solar-energy powered festival.  Dark Star is also known for its high-end event lighting design and professional audio production services.

The ninth annual Heritage 10K road race will take place on Sunday August 19th.  The 6.2-mile run will be held in conjunction with the Penfield Homestead Museum’s annual Heritage Day celebration.  Starting and finishing near the museum, the course covers country roads, about half of them dirt. The first four miles are up and down with a very fast two-mile downhill finish.  Late registration will be 8:30-9:45 a.m. race day on the museum porch. Runners can pre-register by mailing a check made out to the LaChute Road Runners to Dave Burrows at PO Box 454, Castleton, VT 05735. Entry fee is $10.

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

Burlington parks staff members hope to again allow swimming at two city beaches after being shut down for two days because of E. coli concerns.  New test results could allow the water to reopen Thursday.  Tests found E. coli above safe levels in the water near North and Leddy Beaches in Burlington.  That forced swimmers out of the water on Tuesday and Wednesday.  "We're very cautious and take very seriously high counts with E. coli," says Maggie Leugers, Parks & Recreation superintendent.  Leugers blames recent storm water runoff for spiking the E. coli levels in parts of Lake Champlain.  She says it's rare for the water to be closed because of E. coli.  "We want to make sure people have a good, safe time. It affects our revenue too. We want to have it open a lot of reasons," says Leugers.  But she says keeping the water closed for now is the safe bet to make sure no one gets sick from the bacteria.  While there were few people on the sand at North Beach Wednesday, those who were there agreed staying out of the water was the best idea.  "I'd rather not risk any poisoning to my body," says Dan Dailey, a beach goer.  Though some were not in a rush to go back into the water, even if allowed.  "I don't know probably not. I would probably give it a week or two before I really trusted it," says Kenny John, a beach goer.  The results of the new tests are expected Thursday morning.  That's when Parks and Rec will announce whether the water at both North and Leddy will reopen.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

WVTK Local & State News July 25, 2012

Roadwork is taking place on Route 9N in Port Henry.  Crews are repairing the slope along the roadway just south of Port Henry this week.  Please use caution when travelling in this area.

The Three Day Stampede toward the cure for Cystic Fibrosis is coming up this Friday – Sunday in Bristol at the Vermont Recreation Field. This event includes a giant lawn sale with over 20 tents full of goodies, a silent auction, a 5K run, a walk a thon, a flea market, and food concessions. All proceeds benefit Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Last night back-to-back meetings were held in Pittsford to discuss the upcoming water project bond votes. The bond vote will authorize the town to borrow the necessary funds to construct a pipeline connection and booster pump station. The total cost of this project is estimated to be $260,000. Meanwhile the town is also seeking up to $200,000 from a state revolving fund that will provide financial assistance to customers that will be abandoned from the Proctor water system. Any funds loaned by the town would be repaid by the individuals borrowing them. Voters will weigh in on the issues at the polls from 7AM to 7PM on July 31st at the town offices.

There may be some hope yet for the Vermont Marble Museum. The Vermont Marble Museum and the Preservation Trust of Vermont have signed an option agreement as of yesterday morning that gives the Preservation Trust until the end of the year to raise $880,000 to keep the museum open.

State regulators have approved a proposed solar project in Rutland.  The Public Service Board issued a certificate of public good to the proposal to put 139 kilowatts worth of solar collectors on the former poor farm property off Woodstock Avenue.  The project is unrelated to the promises made by Green Mountain Power during its merger with Central Vermont Public Service Corp., but arose at roughly the same time.  AllEarth Renewables brought the project to the city earlier this year. AllEarth will build the equipment while Green Lantern Development will build and own the project.

Peebles will open in Ticonderoga as of Thursday, August 23rd.  A ribbon cutting has been scheduled for 8:45 that morning in the former Grand Union building at the intersection of Routes 9N and 74. There will also be a series of sales and promotional events throughout the store’s opening weekend.  Peebles will offer clothing, accessories and cosmetics for juniors and women as well as a wide range of men’s and children’s apparel.

Preparations for Ticonderoga’s StreetFest 2012 are now complete and historic Montcalm Street in the heart of downtown Ticonderoga will be once again be converted into a pedestrian mall this Saturday from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM. Sponsored by the Ticonderoga Montcalm Street Partnership, StreetFest is an annual community celebration of arts and crafts, shopping, food, fun, entertainment, and family activities to bring people to the town’s historic Montcalm Street district.  There are tons of activities planned!  Visit www.ticonderogany.com for details!

Lea Davison is one of the top mountain bikers in the world.  And her prowess on the course has just earned her a huge honor: representing the United States in the London Olympics. Davison lives and trains in Jericho, where she grew up. She and her sister Sabra also run a camp for young girls, who want to learn to ride, called Little Bellas. 

Blue-green algae are causing problems on Lake Champlain and other lakes across Vermont. Blooms are appearing earlier and are more widespread than normal this year.  It's not unusual for blue-green algae to appear in Lake Champlain in the summer, particularly when it's hot. But what is unusual is for it to be appearing this early in the year. One of the reasons for that is the large amount of phosphorous that went into the lake during last year's floods. But according to Mary Watzin, a long-time researcher on Lake Champlain, the weather is playing an even bigger role. Not all blue-green algae blooms are toxic, but only testing can reveal which ones are toxic and which ones aren't.

It looked like your typical summer party, with food, friends and music.  But the difference was, instead of being the life of the party, party goers were giving life, in the form of blood donations.  The American Red Cross is holding mini blood drives at small businesses and even at people's homes this summer.  The Red Cross says this is the time of year when blood donations are down, so the idea was born for the small-scale parties at a home.

The culmination of about ten months of dialogue, debate and review was unveiled Tuesday night in Burlington, with artists' renderings of what the city's downtown and waterfront could look like in the future.  The draft master plan included the input of thousands of residents who voiced ideas to consultants and city planners, creating what the city's planning and zoning director calls very unique.  However, what vision did not include was a price tag, and consultants say it's now up to the city and the people living in Burlington to determine just what they want to pay for.

Fair Haven Town officials will need to start searching for another town manager just 17 months after hiring a new one.  Town Manager Peter Hathaway’s resignation was announced at the Select Board meeting yesterday.  He presented a letter of resignation to the board last week in which he gave his 30-day notice. Hathaway’s last day will be August 13.  In his resignation letter, Hathaway wrote the reason for leaving his post is because he and the Select Board have “come to an impasse in regards to some recent developments.”

The governor of New York has signed a new law increasing the tax credits for filmmakers who come to New York for post-production work. The law raises the credit from 10% to 30% in the greater New York City area and up to 35% elsewhere.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders is introducing two bills in Congress this week aimed at boosting employee-ownership across the nation. Vermont is home to at least thirty employee-owned companies -- including some big names like King Arthur Flour, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and Gardener's Supply Company -- and Sanders would like to see the model expanded.  Sanders' legislation would fund more state technical support centers and establish a new national loan guarantee program to help finance start-ups and transitions to employee ownership.

Occupy groups and others plan to protest during the Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Premiers. Demonstrations are planned Sunday and Monday. Organizers say they want the governors and premiers to focus on the human rights of the people in the region and a process that engages them in holding their governments accountable for protecting their rights.

Vermont's public safety commissioner says problems with the time reports of a former trooper charged with falsifying his reports for June appear to stretch back at least two years.  Commissioner Keith Flynn of the Department of Public Safety says preliminary reports on the investigation into alleged false swearing by former Sgt. James Deeghan stopped short of calling the earlier time sheets evidence of criminal activity, but said there are what he termed anomalies.  Deeghan was charged July 13 with two counts of false swearing in connection with time reports for two pay periods in June. Authorities say that while working at the state police Williston barracks, Deeghan padded his time reports in part by reporting that he responded to accidents and other incidents that never occurred.

Coming up this Sunday there will be a benefit Spaghetti Dinner in Ticonderoga at the American Legion.  It begins at Noon and runs until it sells out.  A horseshoe tournament and various raffles are also part of this benefit.  The cost is $5.00 per person for horseshoes.  The dinner is to benefit Connor Courtright.  He’s a local 6-year-old boy who has been diagnosed with B-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. 

Jazz returns to the Brandon Music Café this Thursday on Country Club Road in Brandon!  This week they present bassist John Menegon at 7:30PM. John Menegon started his career as a bassist in Montreal. After working for several years on the Canadian jazz scene he went on to hone his skills in New York City in the mid-80s.  General Admission is $12. Brandon Music offers an Early Bird dinner special, which includes a ticket for the jazz performance, for $22 per person.  Get details right now by visiting Brandon Music's Website!

Vermont is third best in the nation in a national survey of children's well being.  The annual Annie E. Casey's report released Wednesday shows that Vermont made improvements in children's health, education and in family and community. But more children are living in poverty.  In 2010, 17% of Vermont's children were poor, which is a 13% increase from 2005. And the rate of children with parents that don't have secure employment rose to 31%.  But Vermont showed progress in the percentage of children without health insurance, which dropped from 4% in 2008 to 2% in 2010. The state also saw an increase in the rate of high school students graduating on time.  New Hampshire had the top score based on 16 indicators. Massachusetts was second.

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

Your electricity bill might have looked a little different this month; it's the first bill since Central Vermont Public Service merged with Green Mountain Power. But the utility companies say the only change is the name, not the rates.  Plenty of people feel like the merger made their rates go up and their electricity bills may have very well been more expensive this month, but GMP says the truth is, you were probably just using more A/C during these past few hot months.  The lights are off and the fans are going. John Houghton who owns the Maplehurst flower shop in Essex Junction is doing his part to keep his electricity bill low. "High efficiency fans and brand new compressors," Houghton said.  But he still uses more than 2,400 kilowatt hours each month; the average household uses 500. So whether it's a home or business, Green Mountain Power says your bill will not change, unless your usage does.  "There are a lot of people who during the heat spell last month used the air conditioning, or their summer habits may be some what different and they may have used more kilowatt hours," GMP Corporate Spokesperson Dotty Schnure said.  The thing with flower shops is that they don't just use electricity during business hours. The flower room stays at 40 degrees 24 hours a day.  And while the cost of keeping flowers cool fluctuates each month, Houghton says his bill hasn't changed since the utility companies merged, except for the mandatory Irene clean-up fee that started this month and will last one year.  "For an average customer, it's about a $1.20 a month," Schnure added.  "It's the least I feel I can do as a business," Houghton said.  So the piece of mail that came with your new bill only informs you of the merge, and if your bill is pricier, GMP says you simply used more power.  "The rates themselves did not change," said Schnure.  As part of the merger, GMP has guaranteed that over the next ten years, rates will be 144 million dollars lower than they would have been without the merger.

Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of marriage equality taking effect in New York State.  According to National Conference of State Legislatures, New York is one of six states that currently allow same-sex marriage. Other states that allow gay marriage are Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Washington D.C.  Maryland and Washington State recently passed laws legalizing same-sex marriage; however, those laws have not gone into effect yet.

More than five months after it was closed due to safety concerns, repair work is planned for Vermont's longest wooden bridge.  The 277-foot, state-owned Scott Bridge over the West River in Townshend has long been limited to pedestrian traffic.  Wire fencing now blocks the entrance off Route 30 and a "no trespassing" sign that includes the warning: "Bridge unsafe."  Matt Mann, a senior planner with Windham Regional Commission, told the Brattleboro Reformer the span later would undergo initial stabilization work later this year. He added that funds were needed.  The covered bridge was built in 1870.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

WVTK Local & State News July 24, 2012

The Addison County Chamber Of Commerce invites you to join them this Wednesday for an introduction to Google AdWords. Presented by Matt Henderson, Google's Vermont field marketing representative, you'll get an introduction to online advertising and Google AdWords. It will be helpful if you bring a laptop computer with you to this session, and if you don't already have one, create an account with Google, which is free.  The session will take place from 8 – 9:30AM at the Ilsley Library.  For details and to RSVP visit www.addisoncounty.com

The Town of Middlebury will hold their regular Select Board meeting this evening at 7 at the Russ Sholes Senior Center.  Items on today's agenda include the approval of the FY2013 Water & Wastewater budgets and rates, the award bid for the Green Mountain Place Utility Upgrade Project along with and update on the Fire Facilities Project.  Additional information about most Agenda items is available through the Town's website, www.middlebury.govoffice.com, on the Select Board page.

Addison County families looking for affordable entertainment, with a big accent on fun, don’t have far to travel these days. Whirlie’s World Family Entertainment Center, located on Exchange Street in Middlebury, is a fabulous, new indoor arcade that has just about everything for young and old alike.  Between Burlington and Bennington, Whirlie’s World is the only interactive arcade “multiplex”. It’s an ideal place for kids to blow off steam. And adults can have fun there, too!  This Thursday morning at 9AM visit our website to take advantage this week’s $10.00 Bruce and Hobbes Daily Deals certificate! It is good toward a combo Mini Golf and Bounce House admission at Whirlie’s World.

Last Thursday over 50 University of Vermont Extension Master Gardeners gathered at a Starksboro commercial garden for a unique field trip that examined a variety of plant diseases and related pests encountered by gardeners around Vermont. The master gardeners assembled in Starksboro last week came from all walks of life.  Many were weekend gardeners; others were commercial growers or plant retailers.  However their shared interest was learning all they can about garden plants in harmony with the natural environment.

A Rutland jury has decided a wrongful-death lawsuit in favor of Rutland Regional Medical Center.   After an eight-day trial that included testimony from 17 witnesses, most of them medical experts and doctors, jurors needed only two hours to decide that the hospital and one of its doctors were not negligently responsible for the death of 75-year-old Lois Vanderminden.  The lawsuit had been brought by the woman’s estate, which was seeking $500,000.

In its 24th year, the Great Brandon Auction serves as sort of a yard sale for local businesses and residents to help out the Stephen A. Douglas Birthplace and the local Chamber of Commerce. The auction begins at 4PM today in the park and features a couple thousand items for bids this year. A viewing of auction items will begin at 2PM. If you cannot stay for the auction, you can leave a bid for any item. A 50-50 raffle, which last year gave the winner more than $500, will benefit the chamber’s high school scholarship fund.  For more information or a list of merchandise available at the auction, visit www.brandon.org. Also call the chamber at (802) 243-6401.

Ticonderoga’s fourth annual StreetFest promises to be bigger and better than ever.  StreetFest is coming up this Saturday and is a community celebration of arts and crafts, shopping, food, fun, entertainment and family activities designed to bring people to Ticonderoga’s Montcalm Street business district. It will be held from 10AM – 3M. With nearly 60 participants, this year's event is bigger than ever. The Ticonderoga Montcalm Street Partnership sponsors StreetFest.  For more information just visit www.ticonderogany.com

The Ti-Alliance, with generous support from Aubuchon Hardware and Benjamin Moore Paints, is beginning an annual mural contest on key Ticonderoga buildings to incorporate public art in the community's revitalization strategy. The winner of the contest will receive a $500 prize and special recognition through the celebration of the final product and its associated media coverage. This is a great opportunity for a young artist to become better known in the region or an accomplished artist to showcase their work in a community visited by over 100,000 tourists per year. Interested Artists should send a cover letter, complete application form, 1 page narrative, final design and $25 application fee to the Alliance Office by 3:00 on Friday, August 15.   For more information, contact the Alliance Office at 518-565-0054 or send an email to jwoods@ticonderoga-alliance.org.

Essex County will get $1.5 million to buy new buses for its public transportation system, as long as it comes up with $89,000 from county coffers.  County Manager Daniel Palmer said they are eligible for a $1.3 million federal grant, $170,800 from the state, $20,000 in trade-in money and $61,000 from the Village of Lake Placid and the Olympic Regional Development Authority. The new buses would replace ones that are nearing the end of their life.

A couple who own property on a mountaintop in Rutland County have lost in their bid to prevent construction of a new utility communications tower there.  The state Public Service Board ruled for the Vermont Electric Power Co., saying it could erect the tower against the wishes of the landowners and will have to pay the couple less than $26,000 in compensation.  The board found the property atop Northeast Mountain in Wells would provide a key link in a new communications project VELCO is building around Vermont.  Meanwhile the homeowners say their home - valued at $425,000 - will be rendered uninhabitable by the project. They say they plan to appeal the decision to the courts.

The Vermont Department of Health says 10 Vermonters have become sick from ground beef being recalled by Cargill Beef.  Hannaford Supermarkets is alerting consumers that Cargill Beef is voluntarily recalling 29,339 pounds of ground beef that may contain salmonella.  The Health Department said yesterday that between June 6 and June 26 a total of 10 Vermonters around the state became sick. Officials say three were hospitalized and all have recovered.

The state of Vermont is handing over control of its social media-marketing machine.  The state says it's seeking an authentic, uncensored voice to promote tourism online.  So state officials say they'll have people on Twitter send messages using the Twitter handle @ThisIsVermont. That's a nod to E.B. White's famous essay, This Is New York. Steve Cook is deputy director of the Vermont Department of Tourism, which is organizing the campaign.  He says consumers are growing more accustomed to user-generated content when making decisions about purchasing a product or choosing a vacation destination. So far, more than 20 tech-savvy Vermonters have applied for the chance to tweet as ‘This Is Vermont.' 

The state introduced FishVT yesterday, a new Facebook page bringing together all of Vermont's fishing opportunities in one convenient place.  Vermont has some of the best fishing in the US.   You can view photos of fish caught around Vermont, discover fishing hotspots you never knew about, learn new fishing techniques, and share your stories with other anglers.  This page was created through the partnership of Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Lake Champlain International.

Despite uncertainty about federal disaster funds, the Shumlin Administration is moving ahead with plans to replace the state hospital and renovate the flooded state office complex.  But the administration says it may have to re-assess those plans if the federal money is not available.  The funding questions come almost year after Tropical Storm Irene battered the state. Administration officials say they still don't yet know how much money state government will get from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  Officials had counted on federal funds to cover 90 percent of the cost of replacing the state hospital and renovating the Waterbury office complex. The state expects to hear from FEMA by the middle of August about the possible range of federal funding options.

The software giant Google will donate 100 computers and software funding to Vermont public libraries and education sites.  The donation is an extension of the e-Vermont community broadband program.  The department of libraries will collaborate with Vermont state colleges and the Community College of Vermont to provide free digital literacy training at each site.

So why are gasoline prices higher in Chittenden County than the rest of the state, or the rest of New England for that matter?  Even U-S Senator Bernie Sanders wants to know, and he's calling for a federal investigation.  He says two weeks ago, a gas station in the Burlington area was charging 23 cents a gallon more than the same company-owned station in Middlebury was charging.  According to the Oil Price Information Service, which is an independent fuel price research firm, Burlington last month was the most lucrative gas market in the Northeast.

Thunderstorms pounded Shelburne and Grand Isle last night, taking down trees and power lines.  The storms followed a narrow path, and luckily there were no injuries despite all the lightning and devastation.  At one point, more than 13-thousand Green Mountain Power customers were in the dark but this morning it's down to 15-hundred, while Vermont Electric Cooperative is working with nearly 13-hundred customers without power.  Several highways closed by downed trees have since re-opened as well.

10 of 69 Vermont businesses that signed up to try to trim their electrical usage by 7.5% over two years have met that goal with the program half over. That's the word from Governor Peter Shumlin and officials of Efficiency Vermont. They gathered yesterday at the Rutland Regional Medical Center to kick off the final year of the project.

Ellison Surface Technologies will add 50 new jobs by the end of the year with 40 more jobs on the horizon for next year at its new satellite manufacturing plant in Rutland Town.  That’s in addition to the 126 workers employed at the Ellison Surface Technologies main plant in the Airport Business Park in North Clarendon.  As a major subcontractor to GE Aviation, Ellison’s 15,000-square-foot space on Quality Lane will make aircraft engine parts for the Rutland GE plant. Ellison will also perform coating work for GE’s Hooksett, NH plant.

New York State's Department of Financial Services says it has licensed a new company to operate as the first mutual insurer serving the municipal bond market. Build America Mutual Assurance Company will insure investment-grade general obligation bonds or other revenue bonds for essential governmental facilities and services.

An American Cancer Society analysis shows higher lung cancer rates in upstate New York than in New York City, a trend society officials attribute to higher smoking rates in poorer areas. The report says prostate, colorectal, breast and lung cancers account for about half the state's cases and deaths. There’s a major geographic difference only in lung cancer.

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

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin stood alongside various police members Friday and delivered a strong message about bath salts.  "Don't use this junk in Vermont. Don't sell it. If you do, we'll bust you," said Shumlin.  Over the weekend police did.  In Barre, police went into Insane Glass on Main Street, and took numerous packages.  Some of them contain ingredients that state leaders banned Friday.  "They were up front with us. They turned over all those products in that category," said Barre Police Chief Timothy Bombardier.  Police say even though the store turned over all of its illegal products, they will continue to make sure it stays that way.  "We'll check on them periodically," said Bombardier.  Monday, we went there to talk to the owner, but he wasn't there.  An employee however tells us, they're done selling those items.  While they are, in nearby South Barre, we went to Fired Up Tobacco Shop, and saw illegal products on the shelves.  We were told the owner wasn't around and no one could comment.  Police say because of the packaging, it's hard to tell what's in the product.  But they say if they don't find out soon, and continue to sell it, they'll have to take action.  "People are going to start getting charged," said Bombardier.

An ad campaign appears to be so "Hoff-tastic", that police say people around the Northeast and here and our area, are stealing signs using former Baywatch star David Hasselhoff.  Police say two Cumberland Farms on Riverside Avenue and Pine Street had cut out Hasselhoff signs stolen.  There are still signs above the gas pumps, but the cut outs are gone.  Police say the stores aren't looking to get people arrested; they just want the signs back.  "This is probably the first real unique instance where we've had that's a cardboard cutout that has been to desirable that people have wanted to steal. So I guess that's kudos to Mr. Hasselhoff. But really this is something we haven't experienced in this community," said Officer Kim Shelley.  Police say if someone is caught with the signs, they could be charged with a misdemeanor.  If you have any information you can contact police at 802-658-2700.