Friday, August 31, 2012

WVTK Local & State News August 31, 2012

At this week’s Middlebury Select Board Meeting a public hearing was held on the Flood-Fluvial Erosion Hazard Regulations.  After the hearing, the Board decided that the proposed regulations need more fine-tuning and will work with staff to revise the regulations.  Gary Baker, Susan Shashok and Nick Artim will work with Planning and Zoning staff to revise the regulations for the Board's review. There will be a public hearing on the revised regulations.

The Middlebury Select Board received the Quarterly Report from the Better Middlebury Partnership. BMP President Ben Wilson reviewed the quarterly report for April through June with the Board and noted the success of the Midd Summer Festival, an upcoming series of events for telecommuters and initiatives to promote Middlebury as a winter vacation destination. Ben also noted that attendance at events to date is up 25% from last year, with Spooktacular and Very Merry Middlebury yet to come. Because the rationale for the Town of Middlebury's subsidy of the marketing position of the BMP is to increase retail activity it was also noted that the sale Middlebury Money has expanded in the last year and that the BMP is trying to get a merchants' group together as well.

The Middlebury Parks & Recreation Director position has been advertised.   Interviews will be held in October with the goal of having a new Director in place for January 1.  Meanwhile the Business Development Advisory Board is continuing to refine the strategy for fundraising for the business component of the initiative. The next meeting of the Board is September 4th at 3:30 p.m. 

This week Middlebury Town Manager Bill Finger reported that ultra energy-efficient lighting has been installed in the Town Offices and gym, and is a vast improvement. Bill noted that he is seeking quotes for repair of the steps and brickwork to the College Street entrance to the gym in hopes of having the work completed by the November election.  Meanwhile according to Pat Shaw The Fire Facilities projects are going well. The Select Board did not endorse however a request for an increase in the approved amount for epoxy floor finishes.

A reminder that the Middlebury Select Board's first public meeting on the Town Plan will be on Tuesday, September 18th at 7 PM at the Ilsley Public Library. Copies of the Town Plan are available at the Ilsley Public Library and the Sarah Partridge Library and the Plan is posted on the Town's website.

The Middlebury Finance & Fundraising Task Force met on August 24th with a representative of Efficiency Vermont to learn more about the cost of and potential energy savings resulting from net-zero and net-zero ready construction. The presentation delivered at the meeting is posted on the Town's website. The Task Force will meet again on September 18th at 9AM. The Gym Task Force held its first meeting on August 21st and reviewed a list of projects completed on the gym and a list of deferred maintenance items prepared by Town Manager Bill Finger. In an effort toward preparing a comprehensive list of necessary projects to inform cost/benefit and life cycle cost analyses, the Gym Task Force will conduct a walk through of the gym on September 6th at 1 PM - all interested parties are invited to attend. The next meeting of the Town Center Steering Committee will be on September 11th at 10:30 AM.

The Addison County Chamber Of Commerce AnnualAuction continues.  Bidding will close next Tuesday evening. September 4th at midnight. If you haven't checked out their auction recently, it's worth another look. Many new items have been added and continue to be added as quickly as they receive them. Plus there will be a few items available at the live auction that aren't available online such as bottles of wine from Lincoln Peak Vineyard and cider products from Champlain Orchards! It's not too late to RSVP for the annual meeting dinner! Please email Sue at or call 388-7951 x2. 

The Town of Middlebury will be hosting a reception for retiring Town Manager Bill Finger! You are cordially invited to stop by Two Brothers Tavern Lounge on Thursday, September 20th between 3:30 and 6:00 PM to wish Bill well as he starts this next adventure.

It’s that time of year for the annual Addison County Benefit Tractor and Truck Pull. The popular event, now in its seventh year, is all for a good cause.  Like past year’s this year’s benefit pull will raise money for local families in need. The event will be held September 14th & 15th in New Haven.  According to event spokeswoman Kirstin Quesnel the benefit pull has been able to give over $125,000 over the past six years, benefiting 22 Vermont families through times of struggle and suffering.  She also noted that the event attracts tractor pullers from Vermont and nearby New York farming communities.  The pulls will start at 6 PM Friday and 10 AM Saturday. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids and is held at the Addison County Fair and Field Days fairgrounds in New Haven. Their new website,, will go online this Saturday.

It's hard to believe, but it's back to school time!  All schools will be closed Monday in observance of Labor Day, with most schools scheduled to reopen to students later in the week.  Here are some return dates for New York area schools: In Crown Point faculty will return Tuesday the 4th and students return Thursday the 6th; in Elizabethtown-Lewis faculty will return the 4th with students are returning Wednesday the 5th for a half day; in Moriah faculty return the 4th and students return the 6th; in Ticonderoga faculty returned this past Wednesday with students returning to the classroom on Tuesday the 4th; in Westport faculty are back on Tuesday and students return Thursday; in Willsboro faculty and students will return Tuesday; and at St. Mary’s School faculty and students will return to the Ticonderoga school on the 4th.

New York Police are cracking down on impaired driving for the Labor Day weekend. The Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee says now through Monday state and local law-enforcement agencies will be setting up sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols as part of the STOP-DWI program.  This is the fifth statewide crackdown in New York to take place this year.  Police remind the public that drivers in the state of New York are considered to be over the legal limit if their blood-alcohol content is 0.08 or higher.  All 62 counties in the state participate in the holiday program. 

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos says he wants to require that city and town clerks report election results to his office on election night. At the same time, Condos says he wants to streamline other steps in the reporting process to make it easier for clerks.  Condos said Tuesday marked the second part of a three-part test this year: He asked clerks to report results to his office in the March presidential primary, the state primary and on the night of the general election coming up in November.  He said about 76% of clerks participated on Tuesday. Condos said he wants the Legislature to make it mandatory by 2014.

Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire are receiving a total of $9.6 million as part of a nationwide settlement between the drug company Johnson & Johnson and the 34 other states.  The $181 million nationwide settlement with Johnson and Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals is believed to be the largest multi-state consumer protection settlement ever.  Vermont's share is $4.1 million. New Hampshire's is about $2.8 million and Maine's is $2.7 million.  The states allege that Janssen improperly marketed various anti-psychotic drugs.  The settlement restricts Janssen from promoting some of its anti-psychotic drugs for "off-label" uses that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

A food cooperative planned in Bennington has drawn concerns from a small food business in the area.  The co-op is scheduled to open this fall. Bennington has been designated a “food desert” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, meaning it’s difficult for people to find healthy, affordable food. That may help the market get federal grant money.  One local business owner said she was offended by the designation. She said a federal grant for the co-op could create “incredibly unfair” competition that she feared could bring about the end of her business.  Board members said they’d address the matter at their next meeting.

Vermont State Police say a man wanted by state prison officials after he went missing while on furlough in May has been arrested. Police said 33-year-old Greg Wolcott, of Fletcher, was arrested Wednesday afternoon along a riverbank in Fairfax. They said he also is a person of interest in dozens of burglaries over the last six weeks in the Champlain Valley. He was processed at the St. Albans State Police barracks and was being held without bail.

A judge is considering whether a former Vermont nurse accused of killing her baby grandson is competent to face trial.  Pamela Raymond is facing charges in the September 13, 2010, death of 3-month-old Warren Bailey, who overdosed on an antidepressant. She has pleaded not guilty. The Burlington Free Press reports a defense psychiatrist testified Wednesday that she was incompetent to stand trial.

The second leg of the long-awaited Bennington bypass highway project is now open for traffic in the southwestern Vermont community.  Gov. Peter Shumlin and top officials from the Federal Highway Administration were on hand yesterday to open the roadway that has been under construction since 2007.  The $72 million project is intended to allow freight to move through the area more easily and keep big trucks out of the downtown.

Officials in the Vermont town of Windham want to stop a commercial wind power project, saying their town plan and zoning regulations forbid it.  A subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables wants to place two test towers in Windham and one in Grafton on land owned by New Hampshire-based Meadowsend Timberlands Limited. Windham officials sent a letter to the state. It says the project is inconsistent with the views of its planning commission, Select Board and residents.

“Rock of Ages,” a feel-good love story that’s full of comedy and told through the hit songs of iconic rockers, comes to Rutland’s Paramount Theatre on Tuesday and Wednesday, September 4th and 5th.  Called “more fun than it has any right to be” by Entertainment Weekly, the Broadway musical is built around the songs of Journey, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, Pat Benatar, Whitesnake, and many more, and won five Tony Award nominations. This touring production was created by Phoenix Entertainment, which brought “Monty Python’s Spamalot” to the Paramount in April for two nearly sold-out houses.  Get your tickets and more information now at

A new website touting Vermont's tastiest stops is in full swing just in time for tourist season.  Those running the site say it is different from other sites like “YELP!” where foodies rate their experiences because it is not limited to restaurants, but rather any local food source that is open to the public like breweries, country stores and farmers markets. But there are some limitations to landing your business on the site. The site launched earlier this month, and they are now testing it to see where it is finding success as they prepare for the foliage season. Click here for Dig In Vermont's website

It's probably not going to be until next week before Progressives know which candidate will represent their party on the November ballot in the race for governor.  Despite the primary being earlier this week, the votes are close and the Secretary of State is asking for everyone to be patient until results are certified next Tuesday.  Out of 600 votes cast, Annette Smith is trailing Progressive candidate Martha Abbott by about 40 votes, according to the Secretary of State's website.  Both are write-in candidates.

Police are out in force for traffic safety.  Vermont State Police and members of local police departments are out in force, conducting sobriety checkpoints through the holiday weekend.  As part of a Labor Day traffic safety campaign, police will look for impaired drivers at the checkpoints. They will also patrol and crack down on aggressive driving, speeding and drivers who aren’t buckled up. Fifty-four people have died in Vermont crashes this year. State police said that is twice as many fatalities as were recorded by this same time in 2011, and it’s higher than the three-year average.

The Vermont-based band Phish is stepping up to help disabled vets get around more easily.  What they're doing is helping the vets buy Segways, which many say has changed the way they live their lives.  You can help as well, by buying a Phish T-shirt on the band's website, with their Waterwheel Foundation donating proceeds to "Segs for Vets."

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

Imagine seeing gas prices jump 25 cents in just a matter of days. It's a reality for some people, just as millions of us are hitting the road for Labor Day.  Rodney Eddings is one of those people. He's excited to leave Vermont because he thinks the south has cheaper gas.  "When I left North Carolina gas was like 40 cents cheaper on the gallon than it is [in Vermont]," said Eddings.  That isn't the case anymore. AAA reports gas has risen 5 cents in our area but North Carolina drivers are now paying the same amount as Vermonters.  "Kind of makes me think I need to stay here," said Eddings.  It's not just North Carolina. If you're traveling down south gas prices all over are rising.  The two worst AAA says are Kentucky, where its risen nearly 20 cents this week and Ohio, which is up a quarter! Eddings says he's not surprised.  "Every time there's a storm down south toward Louisiana, in the south, the gas prices usually go up," said Eddings.  But is Isaac to blame? Vermont Fuel Dealers Association Executive Director Matt Cota says not completely.  "Most of the impact of Isaac is minimal. Again the big market drivers isn't the supply and demand on the ground, but the movement of money on Wall Street," said Cota.  Cota says the reason for the increase in other parts of the country might be tied to how they get their fuel. He says if crude prices go up, then shipping company's pay more, which is passed onto the consumer.  This for drivers, including Eddings, doesn't make it any better.  "It impacts everyday life," said Eddings. For more information on gas prices, click here.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

WVTK Local & State News August 30, 2012

A proposed $32 million rail spur in Vermont has been put on hold indefinitely.  The 3.3-mile rail spur in Middlebury would be used to alleviate truck traffic between marble processor Omya's quarry and its calcium carbonate plant in Pittsford. The Rutland Herald reports Omya plant manager Jim Stewart said given the sluggish economy and the cost of the project, the company and Vermont Rail Systems are not pursuing it.  He said an analysis concluded that building the rail spur would be far more costly than continuing to ship the raw material by truck on Route 7.  Vermont Railway President David Wulfson said the project cost about $7.5 million when it was first discussed about 20 years ago. He said it's taken so long to go through the environmental work.

Jean Cross of the Green Mountain Draft Association had her horses trained by Ted Russell for free.   Now she’s returning the favor by raising money for the horse trainer, his family and his farm while he recovers from severe burns he suffered while saving his horses, and himself, from a truck fire in Sudbury on August 7th.  According to Jean, who is the president of the association, money is being raised to keep up Russell’s six-generation farming operation and to cover medical expenses until he can get back to work. The fund will help cover what insurance won’t like physical therapy, travel, and extended care needed in the months ahead.

The Vermont State Police in New Haven are investigating a burglary that occurred last Friday between the hours of 8:15 AM and 5:15 PM on Route 17-E in Ferrisburgh. Jade and Dustin Hunt, told police that a black safe, containing personal documents and a $50 U.S. Savings bond, was stolen from the property.  Anyone in the area who might have information about the burglary is asked to contact the Vermont State Police at 802-388-4919. Information can also be submitted anonymously online at or text "CRIMES" (274637) to Keyword: VTIPS.

The Counseling Service of Addison County's Second Annual Bocce Tournament will take place on Friday, September 14th. Check in time is 9:30 AM and play starts at 10 AM.  The event takes place at the athletic field next to the Mary Hogan Elementary School in Middlebury.  This year’s event will benefit CSAC’s Emergency-Crisis Services for all of Addison County.  The organization runs more than $250,000 in services every year that are not funded because they are committed to doing what it takes to deliver critical and needed services to the people who need them. The public may sponsor a court or sponsor a team.  Visit for sponsorship opportunities or call all or e-mail Sara Mason at 388-4021 or for details.

A new capital campaign hopes to raise $70,000 over the next three years to fund major repairs at the Brandon Free Public Library. A new furnace, repairs to the slate roof, replacement of the leaky steel roof, new railings in the second floor and a new air exchanger in the basement are in the works as part of the campaign that kicked off this week.   The campaign started in conjunction with the library’s annual fundraising efforts that pays for day-to-day operations.  The work on the building is expected to take place within the next three years. The replacement of the oil furnace is first on the list. For more information on donating to the library, call 247-8230 or visit

The Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce will host an Open House with the North Country Small Business Development Center on Tuesday, September 11th from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Services provided by the North Country SBDC will be available at the Chamber office typically on the second Tuesday of each month. The North Country Small Business Development Center at Plattsburgh is part of a statewide network of 24 regional centers located throughout New York State. For more information about the Open Houses at the Chamber Office visit, email or call 518-585-6619.

A commission charged with retooling state education heard from North Country stakeholders Tuesday.  Cooperation, flexibility, workforce training, technology and the state-aid formula were key components of messages delivered at the Lake Placid Conference Center.  College administrators, school superintendents, parents, students, workforce directors and civic leaders brought a spectrum of issues they believe need to be reworked throughout New York’s education system.  The hearing was one of 10 scheduled around the state for the New NY Education Reform Commission, founded in late April by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

As Labor Day weekend heralds the end of the summer season, the New York State Thruway Authority and State Police Troop T remind motorists to use extreme care during one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.  It’s smart to plan far in advance and to know before you go.  During the 2011 Labor Day weekend, more than 2.6 million vehicles traveled more than 93 million miles on the Thruway between Friday and Monday. State Police Troop T, which patrols the Thruway exclusively, will be out in full force throughout the holiday weekend, aiding motorists and enforcing the vehicle and traffic law.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced funds Wednesday to help replace the Keene, NY firehouse washed away during Tropical Storm Irene.   According to a press release, the state will provide up to $640,000 in state funding that will allow for construction on the new firehouse to continue.   This comes after the Federal Emergency Management Agency would not approve funding for the project to move forward.   Construction on the new firehouse was set to begin this August.

Republican attorney general candidate Jack McMullen says he is going to focus his campaign and the attorney general's office more on fighting crime. He says Attorney General Bill Sorrell has focused his efforts on consumer protection and civil matters. McMullen held a press conference today in the yard of a Burlington homeowner whose neighborhood has seen a rash of drug-related property crimes.

The owner of a commercial wind project in Vermont has been issued a special permit for migratory bird monitoring. The permit was sought by First Wind, which has a 16-turbine wind development project in Sheffield. The Caledonian-Record reports the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued the permit in July.

A Vermont town selectman has offered to buy a pair of town-owned schools for $1 each, saying the buildings have been idle nearly three years after voters supported a measure to sell or get rid of them. The Eagle-Times reports selectboard member David Yesman of Springfield proposed Monday the district sell the Park Street and East schools to him.

Brandon Music on Country Club Road in Brandon will present the Syncopation Vocal Jazz Ensemble this Thursday evening at 7:30. Syncopation performs jazz and pop music in four-part harmony with a style that is both timeless and contemporary. They have performed at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival, the Boston Globe Jazz Festival, and the International Association for Jazz Education Conference. General Admission is $12.  Brandon Music offers an Early Bird dinner special, which includes a ticket for the jazz performance, for $22 per person.

Explore the Continental Army’s first major initiative during the Revolutionary War at Fort Ticonderoga’s upcoming living history weekend “Onward to Canada: Reinforcements Head North to Join the Attack on St. John.” This Saturday and Sunday’s living history weekend will recreate how the American army prepared to invade Canada in the fall of 1775. Admission to “Onward to Canada” is included with Fort Ticonderoga’s general admission ticket. Fort Ticonderoga is open from 9:30 AM until 5 PM daily. For a complete event schedule click HERE or call (518) 585-2821.

Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon are launching a coalition of artists, musicians and filmmakers to oppose hydraulic fracturing in New York State. Ono, Lennon and actor Mark Ruffalo announced the formation of the group at a news conference in Manhattan on Wednesday. Artists Against Fracking includes big names like Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney and Alec Baldwin.

The man accused of crushing several Orleans County Sheriffs department cruisers with a large tractor is finally getting out of jail.  Roger Pion is due to be released this morning after serving time for a previous disorderly conduct conviction.  He posted the 50-thousand-dollars bail for the most recent charge a couple of weeks ago, but had to serve the other time first.  Pion is being released into his father's custody and cannot drive motor vehicles, but his attorney says it's not clear if that rule applies to operation of a farm tractor.

An environmental group says the permit allowing the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant to discharge warmed water into the Connecticut River is based on flawed science. The Connecticut River Watershed Council held a news conference yesterday to release new reports it says back up its claims.

Vermonters continue to support recovery efforts with purchase of "I am Vermont Strong" license plates.  The Department of Motor Vehicles now reports that over 28,000 of the special plates have been sold.  The plates cost $25 and there are plenty still available at retailers around the state.  Money raised from plate sales statewide will go to the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund and the Vermont Food Bank.

The New York Writers Institute has named the new State Poet and Author. Poet Marie Howe and novelist Alison Lurie have been chosen for the 2-year posts. Howe is a Rochester native and teaches at Sarah Lawrence. Lurie was raised in White Plains and taught at Cornell until her retirement.

A woman from Winooski is now a millionaire, thanks to a supermarket game.  Tanya Lewis walked into the Colchester Shaw's yesterday to pick up her check after winning the grocery chain's "Sizzling Summer" giveaway.  She says she's going to save a lot of the money for retirement, but first she's planning on buying a house for herself, one for her parents, and go on a vacation with her boyfriend.

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

After months of back-and-forth the race for the democrat primary for Vermont attorney general ended peacefully.  "I also look forward to working with Bill Sorrell these next couple months so we make sure that Attorney General Sorrell is re-elected to another term. Bill I'm with you all the way," said Chittenden County State's Attorney TJ Donovan.  During a democrat unity party Wednesday, Donovan gave up his fight against incumbent Bill Sorrell.  It's a sight several people in the room didn't think would happen after results showed the two were within 600 votes.  Donovan told his supporters at the Hilton Tuesday night that he planned to keep going forward but when he got the remaining vote totals on Wednesday morning he decided the race wasn't worth dragging out.  "There's no bitterness, there's no regrets. I actually feel pretty good this morning," said Donovan.  Donovan plans to focus on his state's attorney role and not 2014.  "I'm not thinking about the future," said Donovan.  Sorrell says he was excited to hear Donovan decided to bow out.  "TJ did call me [Wednesday] morning and so graciously congratulated me," said Sorrell.  Sorrell says this race was the hardest he's had to run in during his 15 years in office.  But he's glad Donovan pushed him to the brink of losing.  "Tough race and boy am I battled hardened now for November," said Sorrell. Now that he won, Sorrell has begun to focus his attention to the general election.  "There are very real differences between myself and my opponent," said Sorrell.  And Sorrell plans to share what those are with Vermonters over the next couple months.

People in Burlington celebrated an icon.  It's the 30th anniversary of the Church Street Marketplace.  On Wednesday, politicians and the original developers of the street came together to remember its history.  They paid thanks to the many people that made the four-block pedestrian mall possible including Vermont U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy.  The senator had an alley with a new mural named after him.  The marketplace changed Burlington and business downtown.  But hard to believe, the idea of closing the street to cars was controversial when it was proposed.  Just walk down Church Street and you can find out why five million people visit here every year.  It wasn't always this way and in the 1970's the idea came about to close it to traffic.  The design of the street was inspired by a similar project in Copenhagen, Denmark. As for how to actually manage the street that was modeled after Disneyland.  At the time, business owners had major concerns including losing on-street parking.  "We weren't sure we had it right either," says Pat Robins, Marketplace co-founder.  Robins says the key was to create a commission to watch over the street.  Because had this failed, all the businesses, even the downtown of Burlington, could have failed.  "It would have gone down and this is the major tax generator in the City of Burlington," says Robins.  Now thirty-years later, businesses are bustling and people are spending hundreds of millions of dollars here every year.  Its success required guts, millions of dollars in grants, and innovation, including a new lighting project this summer.  "I call this the town that never sleeps," says Robins.  The idea to close the street, was not just controversial, but costly.  From adding bricks to changing utilities, construction cost $6-million back in the 1980's.  Right now, for the time since the recession, every spot on Church Street except just one is full.

Wednesday was the second vote for Montpelier City Council on a plan to have a wood fueled heating system for portions of downtown. The no vote last week came as a surprise to supporters.  The city had until the end of the week to make the decision and after some revisions to the plan, it passed five to one. The size of the project will be determined after the construction bids are in and that will most likely be sometime in November. The project would upgrade the city's wood fired boilers, to pump the extra heat into several places around Montpelier like city hall, Union Elementary and a number of other city buildings and local businesses.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

WVTK Local & State News August 29, 2012

The votes are in and now it's a matter of making it official.  Incumbent Bill Sorrell holds a slight lead over challenger T.J. Donovan as of midnight last night in the Democratic primary race for Attorney General.  Neither was declaring victory or conceding defeat with a 600-vote margin after 95-percent of the vote was counted.  The race was the second Democratic primary race in two years that was too close to call by the end of the night.

Vermont Republican voters yesterday chose John McGovern over Brooke Paige for the U.S. Senate.  With 61 percent of the ballots tallied, McGovern had already won 74 percent of the vote.  He will now face Democrat Bernie Sanders in the general election in November.

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos said voter turnout in yesterday's primary was low, estimating that only ten-percent of registered voters cast ballots before it was over.  Former Governor Madeleine Kunin questioned whether a September primary would be a better idea.  Having the primary in August was originally intended to provide more time for late ballots to be sent in by members of the military overseas.

Roadwork continues this week in Essex County. On Route 9N in Port Henry crews are working on the bridge over Grove Brook, just south of the Village of Port Henry. On Route 22 in Willsboro crews are backing up the shoulder and performing driveway work between Willsboro and Route 9.  Also on 22 in Ticonderoga crews are performing shoulder work south of Ticonderoga near the Essex/Washington line.  Please be aware of traffic control in these areas and use extra caution.

Rutland residents passed a tax stabilization policy designed to encourage economic growth by a landslide margin on Tuesday.  By a vote of 624 to 176 — or greater than 3 to 1 — voters approved the new incentive eligible for new or expanding businesses in the city.

The town of Mendon yesterday held a picnic to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene.  Greg Smith, chairman of the Mendon Town Select Board, said it was a celebration not of the storm itself, but of recovering from it.  

The Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce will host OneWorkSource and the InternetXpress @ Your Library services open house at the chamber office today from 10 AM to 3 PM. OneWorkSource and InternetXpress @ Your Library offer services to the area by utilizing donated space in the chamber of commerce. The services are provided once a month on the third Wednesday unless otherwise advertised. For more information about the open houses at the chamber office visit

You are invited to sign up now for a six-week Tai Chi course for beginners at Mt. Philo State Park on Wednesdays from 9-10 AM beginning September 12th.  The course fee is $75 for six weeks and the entire fee will be donated to the Vermont Food Bank. Each dollar donated to the food bank results in six meals.  Classes will be held at the Summit Lodge at Mount Philo.  Members of the White Cloud Living Arts Foundation are donating their time to teach the classes.  Pre-registration is required and class is limited to 15 participants.  No charge for park entry.  To register call the park at 425-2390. Please make your check payable to the Vermont Food Bank.

The Middlebury College Community Chorus members announced a new season to prepare a concert to celebrate Thanksgiving, set for performance at Mead Chapel on the Middlebury College campus on Sunday afternoon, November 18th.  Regular rehearsals for the chorus are Sundays and Tuesdays, 7-8:30PM in Mead Chapel on the Middlebury College campus. Rehearsals begin Tuesday, September 11th. Singers are welcome to join the chorus through September 25th and participants should plan to attend at least one rehearsal each week. In concert, string players will perform with the Chorus, drawn from local orchestras including the Champlain Philharmonic Orchestra. One of the featured works this season will be two choruses on the poetry of Robert Frost, set in 1959 to music by noted American composer Randall Thompson.  For more information click HERE or contact director Jeff Rehbach at 989-7355 or manager Barbara Merz at 443-5356.

After many top five finishes over the past decade New Haven’s Chris Coffey finally achieved his goal and won his first Vermont Sun Triathlon in 1:03:17.  Shelburne’s Forrest Hamilton was a distant second. The top women’s finisher was Ann-Marie Stearns of Bethel with a time of 1:14:43. Jericho Center’s Daniela Bean followed Sterns 4 minutes later.  The Vermont Sun Triathlon Series added this Sprint race at the end of the season, for the first time this year. The race was held the same day as the Vermont Journey, which usually closes the season.

Essex County Personnel Director Monica Feeley wants all county employees currently working at the Horace Nye Nursing Home to know their options.  Monica sent out a letter to those who work at the facility, which is currently in the process of being sold by the county government to a private company out of New York City, outlining their options. Feeley also held a pair of informational meetings following training sessions at the home. Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow said that he was pleased the personnel office was working with the employees.

Essex County lawmakers say radical changes to the Essex County Fair are needed if it is to survive.  The fair was held on some of the same days this year as the Addison County Field Days in Vermont and the Franklin County Fair at Malone.  Attendance figures aren’t available yet but are believed to be several thousand less than last year’s 10,000 paid admissions.  Supervisor Michael Marnell of Schroon said this week that the fair needs more equipment displays. 
A mudslide that closed Dewey Ave. last summer will not be repaired until next spring unless a geotechnical engineering report is completed within the next two weeks.  Town manager Mary Ann Goulette said yesterday they are waiting for the final report by the state’s engineers before they can seek bids to have the project completed this year. She said the Select Board would decide at its September 10th meeting if they will move forward or postpone until the spring.

More than a dozen property owners have received word from FEMA that the federal government will buy out their homes that were destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene.  FEMA's hazard mitigation program is designed to reduce property damage from floods in the future by purchasing damaged properties and turning them into green space.  So far FEMA has approved 17 out of 113 properties in the following towns: Bethel, Granville, Grafton, Rochester, Sharon, Bridgewater, Royalton and Bolton.  Most that were approved are primary residences. They also include one commercial property and a second home.

Congressman Peter Welch wants a mandate on ethanol in gasoline lifted to help struggling farmers.  Welch says the program is driving up feed prices for farmers at the same time as a drought in the Midwest is slashing corn supplies.  Welch wants the federal government to temporarily suspend a mandate that ethanol be included in gas. Right now, 10 percent of all fuels must come from corn-based ethanol.

State and federal lawmakers from Massachusetts are making plans to restore passenger rail service along the Connecticut River valley, on a line that runs from northern Vermont to Washington D.C. The lawmakers gathered to look at a potential site for a passenger rail platform in Holyoke.  They announced that on-going construction will replace 20-thousand rail tiles from Greenfield to the Vermont border to bring rail service to Northampton and Greenfield in 2014.  The project is funded through a $73 million dollar federal grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  The construction would relocate Amtrak's Vermonter passenger train lines back to a prior route on the Pan Am Southern Railroad.

A 3-year-old black cat in Vermont that was shot in the chest with an arrow has made a full recovery. Missy the cat was brought from Windsor to the Small Animal Veterinary Emergency Services hospital in Lebanon, New Hampshire the night of August 14th and underwent emergency surgery. The Eagle Times reports the arrow had entered the cat's chest and punctured a lung. The cat was recently returned to her owner.  Police are investigating what happened as a deliberate act of animal cruelty.

A former student of a Vermont military college is going to spend 2½ years in prison for driving drunk in a crash that killed a Norwich University student and critically injured three others last fall.  Derek Seber was sentenced yesterday. He pleaded guilty to the charges in July.

New York officials are investigating marketing and health claims made by several energy drink makers. A person familiar with the inquiry, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation hasn't yet been made public, says New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued subpoenas this summer to the makers of 5-Hour Energy, AMP and Monster energy drinks.

Brandon Music on Country Club Road in Brandon will present the Syncopation Vocal Jazz Ensemble this Thursday evening at 7:30. Syncopation performs jazz and pop music in four-part harmony with a style that is both timeless and contemporary. They have performed at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival, the Boston Globe Jazz Festival, and the International Association for Jazz Education Conference. 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 the scoop HERE!

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

Vermonters will have to wait to find out who will be the Democratic nominee for VT's Attorney General.  According to the Democratic Party Chair Steve Howard, a decision would not be made Tuesday night because it was just too close to call.  Chittenden County State's Attorney TJ Donovan and Incumbent Bill Sorrell both made speeches to their supporters before that call came down.  According to the Secretary of State's website, only a couple hundred votes separated the two.

John MacGovern has won the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate and will face Vermont's independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in November.  With 34 percent of the precincts reporting, MacGovern led his opponent Brooke Paige by 50 percentage points. MacGovern had 75 percent of the votes cast while Paige had 25 percent. n the Democratic attorney general's race, incumbent William Sorrell led challenger T.J. Donovan 52 percent to 48 percent.

Tropical Storm Irene wreaked havoc on Vermont with high winds and flooding waters a year ago Tuesday.  After a storm where teamwork was important to rebuilding The Alchemist Cannery collaborated with Stone Brewery in California and Ninkasi Brewery in Oregon to create the "More Brown than Black IPA."  "We were just blown away by the generosity of a brewery across the country," Alchemist owner John Kimmick said.  Blown away because all profits from the beer were dedicated to charities helping Waterbury get back on its feet. $30,000 given to the Waterbury Good Neighbor Fund.  "Which blew my mind," Kimmick said.  "I had no idea we were going to raise that much money. Then I come to find out that was just a drop in the bucket."  Because more than $86,000 was given to ReBuild Waterbury.  Raising the money was quite a feat for the cannery but it's nothing like the challenge ahead for ReBuild Waterbury, which repairs and homes damaged during Irene.  "We can help them get back on their feet into safe and decent housing then they can go on with the rest of their lives," Construction Manager Dave Kerr said.  ReBuild Waterbury is helping 37 people reach that goal right now. A tough task when dollars are spread thin.  "Having a huge donation like that here at the end is really going help us put us over the top," Kerr said.  From the makers of the popular local brew.

Recovery efforts continue in the days and months after the first anniversary of Irene.  That includes a 5-k race set for this weekend.  It was organized by "Run Strong VT."  It’s a group of friends who came together after the storm last year.  They brought supplies to those in need. Even with huge progress many families in the Waterbury area are still displaced.  All proceeds from the event will be donated to the long-term recovery committee "rebuild Waterbury". This committee helps homeowners recover.  Yesterday the chair of rebuild Waterbury spoke to fox 44 about what this extra money means to them.  "The money definitely is going towards materials you know sheet rock, lumber, finishing stuff for people who are still not yet in their homes." The race is open to all runners. It's this Saturday morning at 10 at Bolton Valley.  You can sign up online until Thursday night or you can register the morning of the race starting at 8.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

WVTK Local & State News August 28, 2012

The Middlebury Select Board will meet this evening at 7:00 in the Ilsley Library Meeting Room.  There will be a Public Hearing on the Amendment of the Zoning & Subdivision Regulations concerning Flood Hazard Areas in Middlebury and Fluvial Erosion Hazard Areas in East Middlebury.  BMP President Ben Wilson will present the Partnership’s Quarterly Report.  Also on the agenda will be a discussion of purchase of the Co-op Fire Parcel at base of Chipman Hill with funding from the Town Conservation Fund, appointments to the Recreation Committee along with reports from various other Town Committees.  For the complete agenda and more information just visit the Town’s Website

The Willsboro School Board will meet at 6PM today in the conference room at the school.  Agenda items include a presentation by the Guidance Office and discussions about business, finance and policy.  Board meetings are open to the public.

Green Mountain Power crews worked to repair a series of downed electrical lines that cut power to more than 1,000 customers in Rutland Monday evening.  The lights went off in many city homes shortly after 6PM. A power company spokesman said that repairs were expected to be completed no later than 9PM.

The Addison County Chamber Of Commerce AnnualAuction continues.  Bidding will close next Tuesday evening. September 4th at midnight. If you haven't checked out their auction recently, it's worth another look. Many new items have been added and continue to be added as quickly as they receive them. Plus there will be a few items available at the live auction that aren't available online such as bottles of wine from Lincoln Peak Vineyard and cider products from Champlain Orchards! It's not too late to RSVP for the annual meeting dinner! Please email Sue at or call 388-7951 x2.

With the recent opening of the $22 million EastView Retirement Living complex on South Street, the Town of Middlebury is set to become the over-55 hub of Vermont. The Lodge at Otter Creek is another example of a large retirement community with a small-town feel.   The non-profit EastView, which is managed by Wake Robin of Shelburne, was a resounding success even before the doors opened officially.  When it opened quietly earlier this summer, 70 percent of EastView’s independent living cottages and apartments had already been reserved.  A ribbon-cutting ceremony at EastView marked the completion of the final phase of construction August 14th.  Officials say they are looking forward to becoming one of Middlebury’s larger employers once EastView is fully occupied.

Brandon Music on Country Club Road in Brandon will present the Syncopation Vocal Jazz Ensemble this Thursday evening at 7:30. Syncopation performs jazz and pop music in four-part harmony with a style that is both timeless and contemporary. They have performed at the Tanglewood Jazz Festival, the Boston Globe Jazz Festival, and the International Association for Jazz Education Conference. General Admission is $12.  Brandon Music offers an Early Bird dinner special, which includes a ticket for the jazz performance, for $22 per person.

Jim Stewart has come full circle.  Forty years after starting work as a geologist with the Vermont Marble Company, Stewart has come home to Vermont as manager of Omya’s calcium carbonate plant in Pittsford.  His predecessor returned to France this month to assume another position with Omya.  Jim, a native of Barre and a graduate of the University of Vermont, has spent his entire career working first with Vermont Marble Company and then its parent company Omya Inc. Omya is one of the region’s largest employers. The company has 170 local employees: 124 at its plant in the Florence section of Pittsford and 46 at its administrative offices in Proctor.

One member of Lake Champlain Sea Grant, feels the recent discoveries of the invasive species in the Champlain Canal and on Lake George is a signal that more are on their way. In the last week, lawmakers in New York and Vermont have argued over whether a portion of the Champlain Canal near Glens Falls should be closed down in order to prevent the invasive species known as spiny water flea from getting into Lake Champlain. Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy has called on New York to close the canal, while the state Canal Corporation has refused, citing the potential economic impact of cutting off Lake Champlain from the Hudson River and state canal system.

North Country SPCA has broken ground on a new shelter.  The facility, which is scheduled to open in February 2013, is being built about 4 miles east of Elizabethtown off Route 9N. The Frances Miller Shelter, which is named for the mother of one of the major donors, is expected to care for at least 400 cats and dogs each year. It will house up to 65 cats, both in “colony” rooms where up to 10 cats can roam, and in individual “condos.”  Up to 25 dogs and puppies will live in quiet, cozy rooms instead of cramped wire cages. Individuals who wish to make a donation to help fund the final construction costs can send a check to: North Country SPCA, 23 Lake Shore Road, Westport, NY 12993 or donate online at All donations are tax-deductible.

Essex County suffered the most extensive damage when Tropical Storm Irene struck the North Country. Repairs and cleanup have been extensive and expensive.  The external affairs representative for Region 2 of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the agency approved $13.4 million for public-works projects in Essex County, of which $6.35 million has been released to New York State.  FEMA had also approved and paid $4.2 million in individual assistance to private homeowners. Much of the public-works money went to the county to cover repairs for the Essex County Department of Public Works, the Emergency Operations Center, Sheriff’s Department and the Town of Essex Fire Department.

Vermont voters across the state will be heading to the ballot box today to participate in the summer primary.  Democrat incumbent Attorney General Bill Sorrell is being challenged by another Democrat, T.J. Donovan, in one of the state's most talked-about races.  Secretary of State Jim Condos said he expects low voter turnout this year.

Rutland voters will decide today whether the city should adopt an industrial tax stabilization policy.  While there are no local primary races for city voters to consider, a municipal ballot at the polls will ask voters whether to give new and expanding businesses a tax incentive to do business in Rutland. Polls will be open from through 7 p.m. at the Godnick Adult Learning Center, Christ the King School, American Legion, and Calvary Bible Church.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger yesterday said he is proposing a nine-million-dollar bond to be voted on in November.  The bond would cost an average homeowner an additional 60-dollars each year for the next 15 years.  Weinberger said the tax increase is needed to replenish the city's dwindling cash reserves.

One year after Tropical Storm Irene, the town of West Windsor is celebrating the successful rebuilding of the Bowers Bridge.  The more than 100-year-old bridge had been washed away in the storm but was reopened on Saturday.  Several other traditional covered bridges across the state that were damaged by Irene are in varying stages of the rebuilding process.

A University of Vermont music professor and composer is bringing his musical remembrance of Tropical Storm Irene to the Vermont Symphony Orchestra.  David Feurzeig tells the "Burlington Free Press" his three-part piece "High Water" musically translates the ascendance of the storm and its aftermath.  The VSO commissioned Feurzeig to write "High Water" for its "Made in Vermont" tour running from September 21st through the first of October.

Police and firefighters in a Vermont town are investigating some school bus fires. Police said the fires in the town of Hartford are being classified as suspicious. The buses were found on fire Sunday night on Pine Street, across the street from the White River School. No injuries were reported. The first day of school is scheduled for today.

Vermont state officials say the cloud of uncertainty surrounding federal funding for Vermont's recovery from Tropical Storm Irene has grown thicker with the departures of 2 top officials with the Federal Emergency management Agency. Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding says the state has been working for months with FEMA officials over the complicated issues of how much Vermont will be reimbursed for the destruction of the Vermont State Hospital.

Governor Peter Shumlin says Vermont has become a national leader in how to respond to natural disasters and there's little he'd change about the state's handling of flooding after Hurricane Irene. Shumlin said that forming partnerships among state agencies, state and local governments and the private sector were keys to Vermont's success in recovering from the storm and the subsequent flooding.

Robert Gannett, a long-time Vermont state lawmaker who served in the House in the 1950s and then after a 14-year absence, another 20 years in the state Senate, has died at age 94.  A funeral home in Brattleboro says he died over the weekend.  He was born in Boston and moved to Brattleboro after military service during World War II.  He began his career in the Vermont House in 1953 and served four terms.  Gannett was first seated in the state Senate in 1973. He remained in the Senate until 1992. In March the Legislature passed a resolution honoring his service.  The resolution said Robert was known for "his wealth of common sense, wise judgment and concern for the well-being of Vermonters."

Police are targeting drunk and aggressive drivers as we approach Labor Day weekend.  Vermont State Police, along with local and county law enforcement agencies, are beefing up patrols and setting up DUI checkpoints around the state.  Vermont has experienced more than 50 deaths on the roads so far this year. State police say that's about double the number from this time last year.

A major credit rating service has a more optimistic view of New York's future, which could eventually boost its credit rating.  Standard & Poor's revised its outlook to "positive" from "stable" on Monday.  New York's AA rating on general debt and AA minus rating on debt secured by legislative appropriations remained unchanged.  The ratings agency says more fiscally conservative, structurally sound budgets in the last two years show New York appears to be on the right track. 

More than 1,000 people marched to the state Capitol yesterday to demand that Governor Andrew Cuomo ban shale gas drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." Cuomo is expected to decide in coming weeks whether to allow fracking after the Department of Environmental Conservation completes a 4-year review of health and environmental impacts.

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

As Isaac heads toward the gulf coast, several local Red Cross volunteers are on their way.  Here's the breakdown: 7 from the Vermont and New Hampshire Valley.  14 were sent from Northeastern New York.  They're heading to the northern gulf to help with food and shelter.  One of the volunteers, John Stark, says the days leading up to the storm and immediately after landfall aren't easy.  “I’ve been on several disasters and they're always very disorganized in the beginning no matter how they prepare and they do try to prepare.” the Vermont and New Hampshire Valley Red Cross will also be sending two emergency response vehicles. Volunteers will use the trucks to help distribute food and supplies.

Attorney General Bill Sorrell took to the streets yesterday.  The democrat has been Vermont's top attorney for 15 years and now he's doing what can to hold onto that position.  His opponent, Chittenden County State's Attorney TJ Donovan was busy too, but he choose to reach people a different way by making calls.  Although they had different tactics, both noticed voter confusion.  Sorrell said a lot of people don't even know that there is a primary today.   He was still running into people yesterday asking when the primary is. Voting times vary today, but each polling location must be open by ten and you have until seven before they close.