Friday, September 28, 2012

WVTK Local & State News September 28, 2012

Coming up on Monday the Middlebury Public Works Committee will meet at 7:30 AM in the Town Offices Main Conference Room.  Items on the agenda include Public Works Project Updates including the current Status of projects under construction & plans for summer of 2013 also the discussion of and budgeting for Driver Feedback Signs.  On Tuesday the Town Center Steering Committee meets at 9 AM in the Town Offices Conference Room.  Items to be discussed include financing, the product brochure, and the identification of sources and delegate contacts.  Get details on these meetings right now by visiting the Town’s Website.

A new community solar offering is coming to Addison County next month. SunCommon launched in March 2012, serving only Chittenden and Washington Counties and increasing the number of solar homes there by over 20% in just a few months.  Since March, more than 100 Addison homeowners have reached out to SunCommon, requesting our program.  SunCommon is responding to that call by making this opportunity available in Addison County beginning in October.  You can learn more by joining them on the Middlebury Village Green, Tuesday morning at 11.  Dave Conant with SunCommon says now homeowners here will be able to go solar with no upfront cost and a monthly payment the same or less than your utility bill.

Vermont State Police are investigating an incident, which involved a gun fired at a private residence located along Route 7 in Waltham.  On Wednesday, at approximately 6:20 PM, Vermont State Police troopers, with the assistance of Vergennes Police Department, responded to the incident.  Police officers found that the southwest door of the residence of Jodi and Joseph Desautels had been damaged by what appeared to be a .45 pistol round.  No injuries were reported.  Both residents were inside of the house at the time of the gunshot.  Based on interviews and physical evidence located in an area south of the residence, it appears the bullet that impacted the residence was a result of a missed shot during target practice.  The incident is under investigation.  Neither the motive nor the name of the person firing the gun is being reported until the conclusion of the investigation.

The Monkton Energy Committee will host the Monkton Energy Fair on Thursday, October 11th from 7 - 9 in the evening at the Monkton Fire Station.  More than 18 energy and related services vendors will be represented to help the public learn about programs that save energy use.  Visitors will also learn how to tackle home energy projects: weatherization, renewables solar and wind energy.   Visit the Monkton website at for a list of vendors.  There will be refreshments of coffee and doughnuts, and door prizes.

First there was “Black Friday” then “Cyber Monday” and now there is “Small Business Saturday.” You are invited to support Ticonderoga Area businesses on Saturday, November 24th for the 3rd Annual Small Business Saturday. The Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce is participating in the nationwide initiative in hopes to lend support to area businesses. Small Business Saturday falls on Thanksgiving weekend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when most holiday shopping begins. The Chamber encourages Ticonderoga Area Businesses to participate. Executive Director of the Ti Chamber, Matthew Courtright, says you can register for the event and offer promotions and specials.  Learn more right now by visiting

October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month.  The attention garnered by such a declaration is welcome by The Prevention Team, but members of the Ticonderoga-based drug education and prevention program know their work is an on-going effort. With eight full-time employees, The Prevention Team is a non-profit agency providing education and prevention services for Essex County. It has educators and counselors in Elizabethtown-Lewis, Crown Point, Ticonderoga, Moriah, Minerva, Newcomb, Westport, Willsboro and Lake Placid schools. The Prevention Team is also active with adults, having formed partnerships in several communities to combat substance abuse.

The town of Moriah’s new courthouse will be used as an example for future court projects in New York State.  The Moriah court, which was expanded and renovated by Champlain Valley Tech students, is an outstanding example of shared government services and innovative thinking, according to acting director of the state office of justice court support.  State, county and local officials toured the new facility recently. Champlain Valley Tech students constructed an 864 square feet addition on the Moriah court, helping the town meet a state mandate and giving the community an updated structure.

Essex County is in the top third of healthiest counties in the state of New York.  Public Health Director Linda Beers presented the findings of the most recent County Health Rankings and Roadmaps study, which ranked Essex County as the 21st healthiest county in New York. The study took into consideration health outcomes, including mortality along with health factors that included behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors along with physical environment. 

The Agency of Transportation has announced that Route 30 in Hubbardton will close from October 8 to October 15 for culvert replacements.  The project will start Monday, with a target completion date of November 30. The project consists of removing and replacing two culverts on Route 30. Except for the week that the road will be closed, one-way traffic will be in place during the day.

A Rutland man is expected in court on charges of crashing into a parked car and taking the life of a high school student.  Police say 23-year-old Alex Spanos of Rutland was “huffing” chemicals before his car went off the road and plowed into the parked car in a Rutland parking lot, pushing it into 17-year-old Carly Ferro.  She died in the hospital. Her father, who was in parked car, was hospitalized with a head injury.  Two other vehicles also were hit and two passengers in Spanos' car were injured.  Spanos will be arraigned today on manslaughter and other charges.

A warning is going out to older Vermonters about a phone scam going around.  The Attorney General's Consumer Protection division says there's an unusual spike in scams targeting seniors with one involving a younger caller claiming to be a grandchild.  The caller says they're in trouble overseas and need money wired to them.  The calls are originating from Latin America, according to authorities.

A decision not to hold an independent investigation into whether Burlington police were heavy-handed in how they dealt with protesters going over poorly.  The city's police commission ruled last night they already have enough information about the incident last July when police fired sting and pepper balls into a crowd of demonstrators at a conference of Northeast governors and Canadian premiers.  The citizen panel says the independent investigation isn't needed and will make its own recommendation to City Council.  However, a petition continues to circulate online, calling for the independent probe.

Special events are planned for tomorrow to mark 20 years of conservation and trails, which are part of The Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association.  The group will host a morning full of guided walks along the trail system in Windham County.  It was local citizens who pooled together the money to buy the land in southeastern Vermont.  What started as 14 acres now covers about 18-hundred acres straddling five towns, with more than 20 miles of trails meandering through it.

In the first year of the state's property tax cap, a report finds average growth has been kept to two-percent.  That is 40-percent less than the previous years average.  Governor Cuomo says, quote, "for years out of control spending drove property taxes higher and higher, forcing families and businesses out of our state."  Cuomo says the cap now in place, empowers communities to take control of their own spending and tax levies."  He calls the initiative, quote, "a tremendous success."

Governor Cuomo, who held a yogurt summit during the summer, is now planning a wine and beer festival.  The idea is to bring leaders of the wine and beer industries together to discuss marketing and state regulations.  The session will be held in late October.  Cuomo has already signed a tax credit for brewers in the state to replace a tax exemption which the courts had ruled unconstitutional.

A recent US Census report shows that the US continues to suffer in some key economic indicators.  More Americans are sliding into poverty and median income levels dropped in the one-year assessment.  Vermont's numbers are brighter. It was the only state to see a rise in the median income and it was one of few states to record a decline in the number of people officially living in poverty.  But Jack Hoffman, with the Public Assets Institute, a progressive Montpelier think tank, says we shouldn't be too quick to congratulate ourselves. He says, "One thing we need to keep in mind is where we were before the start of this recession. Poverty is down; it's not as low as it was before we went into this slump. Median household income is up; it's not as high as it was four years ago."  He would like to see the state take a look at tax policy and wage improvements to move in the right direction.

A Baltimore, Vermont man says someone stole 32 gallons of syrup from him.   Last week, 72-year-old Shepard Thomas discovered his maple sugar house had been burglarized.   Some of the missing bottles are labeled "E-C Thomas and Sons."  Thomas' sugarhouse is next to the Baltimore Town Hall.  If you have any information please contact Vermont State Police at (802)-875-2112.

The Vermont village of Jeffersonville has received a $125,000 grant to help buy and conserve four acres of land in a flood plain that had been slated for development.  The land had been picked as a site for a 16-pump gas station and convenience store.  The grant Vermont Housing and Conservation Board grant will help the community buy the parcel for $402,500 to prevent the proposed development.  Village officials say the site is near the confluence of the Brewster and Lamoille rivers and had major flooding in April 2011.

Governor Cuomo announced more than 16,000 New Yorkers have used the Department of Motor Vehicle's new online voter registration service.   The press release says out of the 16,000, approximately 6,000 were first-time voters.   Whenever a customer is at the DMV, they may complete a voter registration application using the payment devices used to swipe credit or debit cards. The press release says this started on August 7 and will be expanded to every DMV office next week.  New York is ranked 47th in voter registration with less than 64% of the population registered to vote.

Brandon’s Annual Harvest Fest, sponsored by the Brandon Area Chamber of Commerce gets underway tomorrow. The town’s leaf people are already lining downtown streets in anticipation of the event. Attendees will be invited to make their own leaf people.  The Chamber of Commerce will supply all materials, accessories, and instruction on how to make your very own leaf people or “Harvest Person”.  You choose the clothes, a hat, shoes, and embellishments to personalize your own scarecrow.  Volunteers help with the finishing touches. The first “Harvest Person” per family is free of charge. After that, they are only $5 each.  Besides making Harvest People, the event includes hayrides by a local farmer and pumpkins provided by the Harvest Program.  The Brandon Lion’s Club and Rotary Club will provide grilled food, apple pies, and baked potatoes with various Vermont-favorite toppings. Parishioners of St. Mary’s Church will serve coffee cider and doughnuts.  The event begins at 10 AM in Central Park. Rain location will be announced if necessary. For more info contact the Chamber at 802-247-6401.

This week's Fall Foliage Report

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

Big news came from Jay Peak today. Lawmakers and investors announced that more than 5-thousand jobs will be coming to the Northeast Kingdom.  Nine-hundred-million dollars is going to be invested into four different areas in the northeast portion of Vermont.  The President and CEO of Jay Peak laid out the vision for the future today.  Projects in some areas are already underway.  "Five thousand jobs, nine hundred million dollars worth of investments," Governor Peter Shumlin exclaimed.  All right here in the Northeast Kingdom. The vision for the future was laid out Thursday for a room full of locals who will do much of the work. One part of the plan is to expand Jay Peak.  "15 new trails, glades, three new lifts and a base village," Bill Stenger, Jay Peak President and CEO said.  Snow making improvements on Burke Mountain, as well as four new lodges that will pop up in the coming year. Plans for Newport are also in the works. A marina hotel and convention center, a complete renovation of the downtown, and because transportation is vital to growth, a bigger and better airport.  "This is extraordinary stuff," Gov. Shumlin said.  The plan also includes a new manufacturing business specializing in high efficiency windows.  "Bringing forth products that cut greenhouse gas emissions and save people money on their fuel bills," Senator Bernie Sanders said.  A biotech research facility will be built, where science and medicine advancements could create answers for the future.  "Where we're producing kidneys and livers for the next generation of people," Gov. Shumlin said.  Senator Sanders says even though it's a gorgeous area... "You can't live on beauty alone," So this major economic development means kids who grow up in this area can stay in this area.  "Have decent jobs and earn decent wages right here in their own communities," he said.  Perhaps one of the most interesting parts about this enormous project is that it won't cost taxpayers a single penny. A government program called "EB5" grants out-of-country investors visas.

Police identified the victim in the car crash in Rutland, Vt. Wednesday night as 17-year-old Carly Ferro.   Rutland Police Lieutenant Kevin Geno said the driver of the Toyota Camry, Alex Spanos, was driving around 60 MPH in a 30 MPH residential zone.   Ferro was leaving the Discount Food and Liquidation Center where she worked around 6 p.m.  Her dad was waiting outside the store to pick her up.   As Ferro was getting into the vehicle, Geno said, Spanos crashed into the car pinning her up against the wall. Spanos then hit other cars.  Ferro was taken to Rutland Regional Medical Center and died a short time later.  Police say Spanos hit the car after he was believed to be huffing and drinking beer.   Passengers in Spanos' car took empty beer bottles and threw them behind a bush near the store. Aerosol cans were also found in the car. Alex Spanos is expected to appear in Rutland criminal court today to answer to felony charges of manslaughter, gross negligent operation of a motor vehicle with death resulting and two counts of gross negligent operation of a motor vehicle with serious injury resulting as well as misdemeanor charges of reckless or gross negligent operation and reckless endangerment.

While low-income Vermonters might soon pay less for power, other customers will have to pay more.  That's because early this winter, Green Mountain Power will offer a discount to low-income customers.  It's 25-percent off the customer charge and the first 600 kilowatts of power.  The rate cut was pushed by AARP and approved by the legislature.  "Vermont is the only New England state without a low-income rate at this point. So the Public Service Board has approved a new rate for low-income customers," says Dotty Schnure, Green Mountain Power, manager of Corporate Communications.  To cover the cost, other customers will see their power bill go up.  Starting in January, a homeowner will pay a $1.50 more a month.  Right now the low-income discount is only available to GMP customers, though there is talk of expanding it to other utilities.

A Vermont board says it needs more time to decide whether to include dental coverage in the state's universal health care plan.  If they do, it could cost taxpayers upwards of $90-million dollars each year.  Leaders are banking on federal help for the state's medical package, but not dental.  That means if the state decides to include it, it has to pick up the bill.  The board plans to vote on it next week.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

WVTK Local & State News September 27, 2012

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets, in partnership with the Vermont Sugarmakers Association and UVM Extension, will hold three public meetings to take comment on the proposed changes to the maple grading system.  The changes have been proposed to align the Vermont grading system with the standard recommended by the International Maple Syrup Institute. Members of the public will be given the opportunity to provide comment.  One of the three meetings will take place locally on Tuesday October 16th at the American Legion Post 27 here in Middlebury. The meetings will begin promptly at 7:00pm. After a brief presentation outlining the proposed changes, Lynn Coale, Director of the Hannaford Career Center and a member of the Agriculture and Forest Products Development Board will moderate discussion. For more information, please contact Henry Marckres at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets: 802-828-3458

The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont announced its collaboration with approximately 70 restaurants, food markets, and food cooperatives throughout Vermont for the 18th annual Share the Harvest.  The event takes place next Thursday October 4th.  Participating restaurants and food outlets will donate a percentage of their food sales to NOFA-VT’s Farm Share Program.  The Program is dedicated to working with Vermont individuals who cannot afford to purchase fresh produce on a regular basis. Participating Share the Harvest businesses in this area include:  Good Times Cafe, in Hinesburg.  Here in Middlebury visit American Flatbread, Fire and Ice, Green Peppers Restaurant, Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op, Otter Creek Bakery and Stone Leaf Teahouse.  Also the Waybury Inn in East Middlebury, Toscano in Richmond, Three Tomatoes in Rutland, The Inn at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, and the Red Mill Restaurant in Vergennes.

A recent fundraiser for the family of one of Vermont’s two casualties of eastern equine encephalitis showed a community spirit that endured in the face of tragedy.  In three hours, more than 350 people from Sudbury, Brandon and Rutland and family friends from Pennsylvania raised more than $4,000 for the family of Scott Sgorbati at a spaghetti dinner at the Brandon American Legion on Saturday. A second major fundraiser, a jamboree at the Brandon American Legion from 3 to 8 PM. Sunday October 21, featuring the bands Footloose and Jokers Wild, will also be held to benefit the family.   The Scott Sgorbati Family Aid Fund account at the National Bank of Middlebury is available at any branch for people who wish to make donations.

Vermont State Police are investigating a theft from a boat docked on Lake Dunmore off Hooker Road.  Sometime between 8 AM on September 20th and 6 AM on the 25th, someone boarded the boat and stole two Cannon manual fishing downriggers and 6-inch aluminum mounting bases from the boat.  The items are valued at about $700.  Anyone with information about the theft can call the Vermont State Police New Haven Barracks. (802) 388-4919

U.S. Air Force Airman Nathan M. Swindell graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.  The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills.  Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.  Swindell is the son of Kathleen Swindell of Bristol.  He is a 2011 graduate of Mount Abraham Union Middle-High School.

Port Henry will be a “village of public art” next weekend.  The community will be part of the second annual Adirondack Coast and Boquet Valley Studio Tour Friday and Saturday, October 5th and 6th. Port Henry’s art attractions will be the focus of free tours starting at the downtown information booth 10 AM to 5 PM. A map and descriptive brochure covering the full range of art will be offered. Port Henry’s historic architecture will also be part of the tour.

The Essex County Department of Mental Health will be using modern technology to help those in need with psychiatric services.  The County Board of Supervisors passed a pair of resolutions on to the full board during its Monday meeting, the first authorizing two budget amendments in the department and the second allowing the chairman and/or the county manager to execute a contract with Syracuse University for tele-psychiatry services and with Fore-Front Tele-care for the equipment to link up the tele-psychiatrist. The process for psychiatrist visits through the department would be similar to what Elizabethtown Community Hospital currently does with telemedicine.

Some new buses that the Essex County Transportation Department wanted and couldn’t get approval for are back.  With the request pared from five vehicles to two and the county share of federal funding from $100,000 to a mere $198, the County Board of Supervisors gave preliminary approval to the purchase this week.  A federal Rural Transit Assistance Program grant of $215,500 will buy one trolley, one bus, bus-stop shelters and signs. All of the purchases, except for some of the signs, are for the Village of Lake Placid. The $198 is the county’s share for the signs.

This week, the North Country SPCA would like to remind you that you could find their adoptable dog-of-the-week at the Keene Valley Farmer's Market, every Sunday until October 14th. You'll recognize him by his handsome "Adopt Me!" jacket. Why not plan to spend an hour or two exploring the delightful array of crafts, fresh-baked goods, and produce, and set aside a few minutes to spend getting to know their featured pup? Who knows, you may just meet your new best friend!  Learn more right now by visiting

Rutland Public Schools leaders will soon reconsider how they handle school properties, as they prepare voters for two ballot questions this November.   According to Superintendent Mary Moran, an informational document will soon be posted on the city school district’s website, detailing what both articles mean for the district and for taxpayers.  On November 6th, the public will decide if both Watkins and Dana schools can be sold.

After coming up short in the Progressive Party primary for governor, Danby environmental activist Annette Smith says she will run as an independent write-in in the general election. Smith lost the primary to party chair Martha Abbott, who then renounced the nomination and withdrew her candidacy.

State leaders today are expected to lay out a new jobs initiative focused on northern Vermont. The announcement at Jay Peak is expected to touch on multiple projects in the region with the potential to create 5,000 jobs, according to some reports.

An international group providing business suits and mentoring support for disadvantaged women seeking jobs is set to open its doors in Vermont. Dress for Success Burlington will hold a grand opening tomorrow. The program began in New York 15 years ago and not reaches more than 65,000 women around the world each year.

More than 90 soldiers from the New York Army National Guard are back home after a nine-month tour of duty in Afghanistan. The troops were responsible for boosting the ability of Afghan National Security Forces to secure a major highway.

Big Tupper Ski area will remain closed this winter. The grassroots group “Adirondack Residents Intent on Saving our Economy” said they lost investment resources to reopen the ski center this season because of a lawsuit filed against developers who own the mountain property.  This winter would have been Big Tupper’s fourth year of volunteer-based operation.

Allegiant Travel Co. is set to meet the growing demand for flights to Las Vegas from Plattsburgh.  Allegiant will begin non-stop service from Plattsburgh International Airport to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas December 19th on 757 jets that seat 233 passengers.  Fares will be sold for as low as $150 one way until October 2nd.

Gov. Peter Shumlin says the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will continue funding the Vermont Veterans Home in Bennington.  The home was undergoing an inspection on Wednesday and had faced possible decertification after deficiencies were found earlier this year. The home was required to correct at least three deficiencies including an alleged assault of a resident by a nurse.  Shumlin said Wednesday that CMS has agreed to continue funding the home after meeting with state officials.

Nearly 20 years after the Vermont and Texas Legislatures first agreed to have Vermont ship low-level radioactive waste to the Lone Star State, the first shipment of waste has been made.  The Texas-Vermont Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact Commission was created by the two states in 1993. Then it took years for a disposal site in West Texas to win state licensing there.  The commission held a meeting in Montpelier on Wednesday, where it was announced that the first shipment - a 30-gallon drum containing radioactive waste from the University of Vermont and Burlington's Fletcher Allen Health Care hospital - was shipped recently.  The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant - by far Vermont's largest radioactive waste generator - also has begun making shipments.

The Vermont Commission on Women has a new executive director.  Cary Brown of Montpelier most recently served as internship coordinator for Norwich University. Previously, she served as interim executive director of Turtle Island Children's Center and the director of girls' programs for Vermont Works for Women.  She also directed the Women in Technology Project, a summer technology camp for girls at Vermont Technical College.  Brown joins the commission at the end of October.  The commission is a non-partisan state agency charged with reducing discrimination and encouraging opportunities for women.

Firefighters are trying to determine the cause of a fire that destroyed a vacant home in Vermont.  Fire officials say the house in Stone Village in Chester caught on fire about 10 PM Tuesday.  No injuries were reported.  Route 103 was closed until about 2:30 AM Wednesday while crews knocked the fire down.

A Vermont town is holding a meeting to discuss the future of a now-vacant school.  Options for the Perkinsville School include stabilizing a portion built in 1879 and demolishing additions, and rehabilitating one addition for lease to a private school.  The Eagle Times reports the costs for the proposals range from $570,000 to $1.35 million.

The Hay Days in Killington are well under way this fall.  Organizers say this year it's bigger than ever. More than 30 businesses have created hay animal sculptures on display in front of their stores.  Town officials added more events, including restaurant week and the brew fest, set to take place this weekend on the mountain.  Officials say it's a great way to kick off the fall season and bring in tourists between Labor Day and Columbus Day, which is usually a slower time of year.

A moose spent much of yesterday wandering around downtown Bennington.   According to Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette, calls started coming in around daybreak and continued through much of the day.   The moose spent several hours behind a house at the intersection of County and North Branch streets.  Doucette said that as of around 1:30 PM, the moose had last been seen on the east end of town and he hoped it was heading back to the woods.

Brandon Music on Country Club Road in Brandon will present Jerry Sabatini’s Sonic Explorers this Thursday at 7:30pm. General Admission is $12.  Brandon Music offers an Early Bird dinner special, which includes a ticket for the jazz performance, for $22 per person. Their music reflects a deep love and respect for modern jazz, soul, and folk, as well as music from the Middle East, Asia, and from 20th and 21st century classical composers.  For Information & Reservations: (802) 465-4071 /

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

Vermonters ingrained in the healthcare community, had the chance to sound off on addiction and mental health services.  The speakers included people in need of help as well as those giving it. Those listening were policy makers at the state level, jotting down notes constantly to make sure they captured every concern presented.  It was a full room of passionate people at the Elks County Club in Montpelier and each time someone spoke the room reverberated with hope of fixing a recognized problem.  "We're doing this on a wing and a prayer," Mark Ames said.  Ames is the Coordinator of the Vermont Recovery Network helping people bounce back from drug and alcohol abuse when they might be most vulnerable of regressing after they leave hospital treatment.  "Addiction is a chronic disease but we've been treating it with an acute care response, i.e. a short period of time of treatment," Ames said.  Karen Lorentzon sees the same thing in her line of work at the Vermont Psychiatric Services of Rutland.  "You're expected to be cured in 21 to 28 days," Lorentzon said of patients in need of mental health services.  While Lorentzon's and Ames' work might seem disconnected, Ames says that up to 75% of the people that go to Vermont recovery centers have received mental health treatment before. But these programs are running on fumes from a lack of state funding, Ames recovery program gets only $55,000 of support a year.  Other issues brought up at the forum included the medication of mental health patients and a lack of compensation for professionals who received many degrees and licenses, at a high cost.  As a long-term recovery addict, Ames is pressing hard to find the support that helped him fight his addiction.  "I was a success in recovery because I had recovery supports and what we're trying to create that broad level of support for people," Ames said.  It was the kind of support Lorentzon wishes she had when she was taking care of her mentally ill mother as a teenager...when she was fifteen her mother died because of a drug overdose and she found herself homeless.  "Had we gotten the proper services and support that we needed to continue our lives perhaps things would have had different outcomes there's no guarantee of that but these stories continue today," Lorentzon said.  Robin Lunge, Health Care Reform Director in Vermont, sat on the panel today. She says that the panel will take their notes from the forum and go to the drawing board to see how and if they can implement some of the ideas shared today, eventually taking their report to the state legislature.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

WVTK Local & State News September 26, 2012

Road construction this week in Essex County includes work on Route 9N in Port Henry.  Traffic will be reduced to a single lane in alternating directions from Bridge Road to County Route 2 due to road construction over Grove Brook at Island Way.  Work also continues on Route 22 in Willsboro.  Traffic will flow in a single lane in alternating directions from the Willsboro/Essex line to the Chesterfield/Willsboro line due to road construction that is taking place until further notice.

The Port Henry Village Board will hold a special meeting at 7 this evening to discuss the Elizabeth Street flooding and drainage issue.   The session, open to the public, will be held at the Village Hall on Main Street.

A special town meeting to vote on commercial wind will be held tonight at 7 at the Hubbardton town offices.  Voters will be asked if they approve of any commercial wind developer building turbines on the ridgeline on the eastern part of town. A simple voice majority is necessary for the article to pass.

Respected by millions of Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike, the Fourteenth Dali Lama is scheduled to visit Middlebury College October 12th – 13th. The visit to Middlebury has prompted tighter than normal security and guest restriction. And the holy man’s appearances on campus will not be free.  In advance of next month’s visit, the campus is holding several public events to commemorate the historic visit. For the Dali Lama’s appearances, there is a limit of two tickets per person: $20 each for the public, $15 each for Middlebury College alumni, faculty, staff, students, and parents of current undergraduate students.

Bristol Friends of the Arts is accepting applications for the fall 2012 round of community grants. The grants are awarded to individuals, organizations and schools in the areas of art, music, theater, literature, dance, history and other cultural endeavors in the five towns of Bristol, Lincoln, Monkton, New Haven and Starksboro.  The organization seeks to enrich the lives of residents in each of the five towns by funding qualitative fine arts, performing arts, cultural events and experiences that serve diverse populations and that reach the maximum number of community members in the five towns. The deadline for the next round of community grants is October 15th. Decisions will be made by October 30th.  Applications can be downloaded from the organization’s website at

Vermont State Police have been investigating the cutting and attempted theft of a road sign, which was located on Route 116 in Bristol.  On September 24th 32-year-old Timothy Alan Cousino of Bristol was identified as the perpetrator.  Cousino was subsequently cited to appear in Addison Superior Court to answer to the charge of unlawful mischief.

Three motorcycle riders from Vermont American Legion posts participated in the “Legacy Run,” spanning the country that raised more than $700,000 for college scholarships for kids of fallen soldiers who died in the wars following September 11, 2001.  Rutland Middle School Secretary Janet Pringle; Keith Arlund, town manager of Brandon and head of Brandon Post 55; and Hugo DiNunzio from Colchester Post 91 made the 750-mile ride from Niagara Falls to Indianapolis from August 21st through 23rd with about 700 other American Legion Riders from across the country and the world.  Every state in the nation was represented.

Castleton Town officials approved two articles on the renovation of town office building for the upcoming elections Monday night.  It is the next step in the more than yearlong process to determine what will happen to the Castleton town offices and police department, which has sat empty since last summer. The first article asks voters to approve a $750,000 bond for the renovation of the town hall located at 556 Main St. The second article would authorize the Castleton Select Board to further seek funds, other than bonds, in the amount of $210,000 finance over 20 years.

Mount St. Joseph Academy’s new principal Sandra Wilkes plans to increase the private, Catholic school’s enrollment by 20 students by the start of next school year through a “full-fledged” recruitment program. Her main focus is expanding the opportunities for the school’s 80 students and, she hopes, 100 by next year and more growth beyond.  She says enrollment increases will be driven by the school continuing to attract more diverse students from across the country and the world.

The people of Moriah overwhelmingly support their local police department.  At least that’s the impression town officials received at the September town board meeting.  Town councilman Tim Garrison recently questioned the need for the two-man town police force.  Garrison believes Moriah’s two-man police force does a good job, but wonders if it’s limitations make the taxpayer investment worthwhile.  Some people did make their views known at the last town board meeting. While the Town Supervisor feels confident people want to keep the local police, he said the town board would likely schedule a public information meeting to further gage community support.

North Country Congressman Bill Owens is not happy that the pending Farm Bill will not be voted on before it expires on Sunday.  House Speaker John Boehner said late last week that the bill will not be voted on before it expires, prompting Owens and several members from both parties to send a letter to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor asking him to see about expediting action on it.  The Senate and the House Agriculture Committee have approved the bill.  If the legislation is not approved, federal farm and food programs will expire, hampering farmers in New York and across the country.

While there's plenty of Vermonters out picking apples, there's a lot of other people around the country who wish they could do the same.  Crops in Michigan and New York were destroyed by last spring's unusual weather, which now has national companies like Mott's knocking on the doors of Vermont orchards.  One local orchard owner told Fox 44 the crops in Vermont and Northern New England are doing much better with the commercial market this fall, and companies that never approached them before are doing that now.

Officials are expected to get a wide range of comments about the state of Vermont's mental health system more than a year after Tropical Storm Irene forced the Vermont state hospital to close.  A panel of lawmakers and state officials will take testimony this afternoon in Montpelier from people concerned about the future of mental health and substance abuse services.  The hearing will be held at the Montpelier Elks Lodge from 1 PM to 4 PM. The panel will take testimony until 3 PM.

The presidential campaign of Republican Mitt Romney's is complaining some Vermont military personnel serving overseas might not be able to get their absentee ballots in time to vote.  In a letter sent yesterday to Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, Romney's veterans' affairs adviser says delays by Condos' office caused 53 towns to miss the 45-day deadline needed to ensure veterans receive their absentee ballots and can return them by Election Day.  Condos says the recount in a primary race delayed the printing of the November ballots, but town clerks were sent electronic copies of the ballots prior to Saturday's deadline and the vast majority of veterans should have been able to receive them on time.

General Dynamics is laying off about 50 employees in Vermont and 30 in Maine. The company attributes the layoffs to the company completing its work on special armor for military vehicles and a decline in demand for guns. Officials say the cuts will be to both hourly and salaried employees in administrative, engineering, management and manufacturing support.

A new national ranking puts Vermont dead last in per-student funding at its one publicly supported research university. The National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation, says per-student state funding at the University of Vermont declined from more than $4,600 in 2002 to nearly $3,500 in 2010.

Federal prosecutors say a New Mexico-based defense contractor with offices in Vermont is going to pay $1.1 million to settle billing fraud charges.  The prosecutors say Applied Research Associates improperly billed the federal government for work performed by its employees that was unrelated to the government Nemesis Project designing a system to detect land mines.  Prosecutors say the company did not admit any wrongdoing and the allegations don't affect the quality of the firm's work. The issue was settled to avoid litigation.

A Vermont judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by city residents against Burlington that sought repayment of mismanaged telecom funds.  Plaintiffs Fred Osier and Eugene Shaver had accused the city and then-Chief Administrative Officer Jonathan Leopold of fraud, deceit and breach of duty. The Burlington Free Press reports the lawsuit sought the return to taxpayers of $17 million borrowed from general city accounts by Burlington Telecom between 2007 and 2010.  Judge Geoffrey Crawford granted the city's request to throw out the case while he acknowledged the loans violated state regulatory constraints.

New York Republican state senator Roy McDonald has apparently lost a GOP primary that went down to absentee ballots following his vote to legalize gay marriage last year. Republican Kathleen Marchione a 110-vote edge with just 50 votes that could still be contested. 

New York officials have issued regulations to prevent repeat drunken drivers from getting their licenses back. Under the new rule, the Department of Motor Vehicles will review the lifetime records of drivers seeking reinstatement after a revocation and deny any that have five or more alcohol or drug-related driving convictions.

People who modeled for artist Norman Rockwell decades ago in the Vermont town of Arlington are getting together for a reunion this weekend.  More than 200 people were used as models in the Arlington area where Rockwell lived from 1939 to 1953.  More than a dozen of them are meeting Saturday at the Norman Rockwell Exhibition in Arlington to catch up and share stories about Rockwell, whose paintings and illustrations graced more than 300 covers of The Saturday Evening Post.

Brandon Music on Country Club Road in Brandon will present Jerry Sabatini’s Sonic Explorers this Thursday at 7:30pm. General Admission is $12.  Brandon Music offers an Early Bird dinner special, which includes a ticket for the jazz performance, for $22 per person. Their music reflects a deep love and respect for modern jazz, soul, and folk, as well as music from the Middle East, Asia, and from 20th and 21st century classical composers.  For Information & Reservations: (802) 465-4071 /

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

Election day is just 42 days away and since it's a Presidential year and there are several other big-ticket items on the ballot, there's a big push to get everyone who's eligible out to vote.  There are many ways to register.  Visit your town clerks office, the DMV or download a form and mail it to the town clerk.  You can vote in person, or by mail. Every vote counts, especially in a small state like Vermont.  Ballots are available now, so to avoid "voter remorse," the Secretary of State's office recommends learning about each candidate, because once your vote is cast, you can't make changes.  The election is November 6th, but the registration deadline is Halloween.

Planned Parenthood threw its support behind Governor Peter Shumlin yesterday.   Regional President Steve Trombley says Planned Parenthood is backing the Governor because he supports affordable and preventive health care for women.  He also said in the past two years Governor Shumlin's done more for Planned Parenthood than any other governor.  Governor Shumlin says he's proud of the endorsement.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

WVTK Local & State News September 25, 2012

The Town Of Middlebury’s regular Select Board meeting will take place this evening at 7 in the Main Conference Room of the Town Offices.  Items on tonight’s agenda include a possible decision on stop signs at the intersection of College, Weybridge and Academy Streets.  Also scheduled is a report on the Exchange Street Traffic Study from Chief Hanley and a review of the 2013 Vermont League of Cities and Towns’ Municipal Policy.  Reports from various committees will include an update from the Recreation Committees meeting on the 19th, the Town Center Steering Committee Meeting on the 18th, also a report from the Finance & Fundraising Task Forces meeting on the 18th and consideration of applying for up to $25,000 in recreation grant funding for improvements to the gym.  This meeting will also include an update on the Middlebury Fire Department Project.  For a complete agenda just visit the Town’s Website.

USDA Farm Service Agency County Executive Craig Miner reminds local producers that the deadline to sign-up for the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program is September 30th.  The MILC Program financially compensates dairy producers when domestic milk prices fall below a specified level. MILC payments are made monthly when the milk price falls below the established price per hundredweight. For more clarification on the MILC Program, please contact your local Farm Service Agency office. (68 Catamount Park /Middlebury / 802-388-6748)

You are invited to Middlebury College’s annual Nicholas R. Clifford Symposium of the Arts. This year’s event, entitled “Creativity and Collaboration”, takes place this Thursday and Friday. The keynote speaker is Peabody Award-winning public radio producer Julie Burstein. She will speak Thursday evening at 7 in the Mahaney Center for the Arts Concert Hall. Call 443-3168, or visit for a complete schedule.

Residents in Pittsford who will have their water systems cut off from Proctor have gained some breathing room as the state is in the process of extending the deadline until next year.  Christine Thompson is the director of the drinking water and groundwater protection division of the Agency of Natural Resources and says the state is in the process of changing the deadline date — tentatively to Oct. 1, 2013.  Proctor Town Administrator Stan Wilbur said the new date is part of a new schedule for compliance proposed by the state and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He said the October 2013 date will be the last day water would flow from Chittenden to Proctor before the town is fined by the state and federal agencies.

The Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce announces their fall fundraiser “Five Hundred Dollar Fridays”. Every Friday in December, TACC will give away $500.00. For a $20.00 donation you will receive a ticket for a chance to win. “Five Hundred Dollar Fridays” tickets will be available at the TACC office throughout the months of October and November. Only 300 tickets are available. Stop by to make your donation and get a ticket for chance to win before they are gone. Drawing dates are as follows: December 7, 14, 21 and 28.  Tickets will be hand drawn at random every Friday in December. All proceeds to benefit the Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce if their efforts to serve, market and promote the Ticonderoga Area. The TACC will also donate $500.00 to be distributed among local food pantries. For additional information please contact the Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce at 518-585-6619, The TACC office is located at 94 Montcalm Street, Suite1 in historic Downtown Ticonderoga.

A new calendar will help support Ticonderoga’s 250th anniversary.  The Ticonderoga, the First 250 Years Committee is selling commemorative 2012-13 calendars. The calendars, priced at $10 each, are available at the Hancock House, the Heritage Museum, the Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce and at upcoming events.  Each of the 14 months, which include November and December 2012, has a local community sponsor. Each month also has a specific theme with related historic photographs. The calendars highlight public figures from the past and chronicle significant historical events.

More than 900 runners, including yours truly, took part in the annual Adirondack Distance Festival in Schroon Lake on Sunday.  Race Director Joel Friedman described it as an amazing day with lots of positive energy! Stanley Larkin of Quebec won the men’s marathon in 2 hours, 53 minutes, 24 seconds, while Meg Ray of New York City claimed the women’s title in 3:18:54. Hey, I was happy with my 3:51:17 finish for my very first full marathon!  Us marathoners had company over the second half of the course as 511 half marathoners hit the starting line and raced to the finish in Schroon Lake 13.1 miles later.

Fort Ticonderoga will welcome home-school students and their parents on Wednesday, October 17th from 9:30 AM to 5 PM.  Home-school families will have an opportunity to take part in a series of programs while learning about life on the colonial frontier during the early days of America’s War for Independence. To register home-school students to participate call Nancy LaVallie, group tour coordinator at Fort Ticonderoga, at 585-2821. The cost is $6 a student. One parent is admitted free of charge. Additional adults pay the adult group rate of $12.  To learn more about programs for students and teachers from Fort Ticonderoga visit

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state officials visited North Hudson on Saturday.  Cuomo, cabinet commissioners and administration senior staff traveled to an area located among the 69,000 acres that were recently acquired by the state and are now part of the Adirondack State Park.  The trip was designed to help promote tourism in the Adirondack Park and find new ways to attract tourists from around the world. Local elected representatives and economic development officials joined the governor and state officials.

Last Friday the Rutland organization known as Pure Water for the World was presented with a “Classy Award for Excellence” in the Humanitarian, Nonprofit Field. Classys’ are to the charity field what Oscars are to motion picture arts and sciences.  Pure Water staff members made the trip to San Diego to receive the honor in person.  The award singled out Pure Water for the World’s outstanding assistance in disaster relief and international aid in Honduras and Haiti.

Organized opposition which does not want the Air Force to base F-35’s at the Vermont Air National Guard base in Burlington has a new weapon of their own: a lawyer.  The Stop the F-35 Coalition recently hired Bristol-based attorney James Dumont to look up information regarding basing the planes at Burlington International Airport.  Group members have concerns about the noise and their property values, and they want to know who would be financially responsible if the values go down.  The coalition says it has a few dozen plaintiffs lined up, with potentially hundreds more should they decide to eventually file a lawsuit.

Congressman Peter Welch is introducing a bill he hopes will help hold back tuition costs for students.  The bill first re-assesses federal mandates on colleges which end up being unnecessary and costly.  The second part of the legislation creates a task force of higher education-types looking at other ways to save.  Welch says the bill is still awaiting a co-sponsor.

Senator Bernie Sanders, along with colleagues from Maine and Minnesota, is seeking a federal review of the federal floor price for raw milk. The lawmakers say farm production costs have risen, including sharply higher prices for feed corn because of drought conditions across much of the nation's midsection.

State police suspect speed played a role in two deadly car crashes yesterday. Route 100 was closed for several hours in Eden that killed a Morrisville woman. The driver of a car seen speeding down a road yesterday evening in Coventry also died when their car was hit by a truck.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's fishing photo op in the Adirondacks has raised some eyebrows. Reporters questioned why he didn't wear a life vest and why his trout appeared to be too small to keep. Cuomo says the law doesn't require him to wear a life vest and that he released the fish.

Democrats hoping to regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives are targeting four of the five New York Republicans who took seats away from Democrats two years ago. Republicans, meanwhile, are looking to reclaim to seats in Republican districts where Democrats won special elections.

A judge has refused a Vermont man's request to strike Barack Obama's name from the state's election ballots. The man, H. Brooke Paige, said the president is not a natural born citizen. Obama was born in Hawaii and is a United States citizen.

The state of Vermont is notifying towns still struggling financially from tropical storm repairs that it will give out payments early while those towns await federal reimbursement for repairs. State Treasurer Beth Pearce says the accelerated payments will help municipalities with any cash flow problems because of repair costs.

Seven out of Vermont's eight city mayors - including one Republican and one former Republican who's now an independent - are endorsing the re-election of Vermont Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin.  Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon, a Republican who two years ago endorsed Shumlin’s then opponent, Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, led the group at a Statehouse news conference on Monday.  Lauzon says he appreciated Shumlin's leadership following flooding in Barre 16 months ago, and on transitional housing for people being released form the corrections system.  The mayors of St. Albans, Newport, Winooski, Burlington, Montpelier and Rutland joined Lauzon in endorsing Shumlin.  Of Vermont's mayors, only Michael Daniels of Vergennes didn't join the group. Daniels says he works for the state and doesn't consider it proper to endorse anyone.

Brandon Music on Country Club Road in Brandon will present Jerry Sabatini’s Sonic Explorers this Thursday at 7:30pm. General Admission is $12.  Brandon Music offers an Early Bird dinner special, which includes a ticket for the jazz performance, for $22 per person. Their music reflects a deep love and respect for modern jazz, soul, and folk, as well as music from the Middle East, Asia, and from 20th and 21st century classical composers.  For Information & Reservations: (802) 465-4071 /

They started singing in an actual barbershop eight years ago, and now they’re Vermont’s best all-female barbershop chorus – 50 voices strong, made up of women of all ages.  The Maiden Vermont chorus returns to Middlebury’s Town Hall Theater this Saturday for its second annual Fall Extravaganza. The concert is on Saturday at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $15, $12 seniors, and $10 for students to age 18, and are available at

As seasonal cooling continues, colors are firing up, sometimes seemingly brightening overnight as foliage unfolds across Vermont’s scenic landscape. Foresters are now pointing out regions where colors are showing mid-stage foliage, at 25-50 percent peak in the northeastern Washington County, Northeast Kingdom and chasing along the peaks of the Green Mountains.  Windsor County Forester Jon Bouton reported “The clear cool air is Nirvana…we've had several days in the last week when one could clearly see more than 50 miles from one of our hill tops.”  Best Bets: This week, Vermont State Foresters and the New England Maple Museum suggest touring these Mid-Peak routes:
- Route 302 through Orange, Groton & Ryegate.
- Route 4 from West Bridgewater, heading west to Killington over Sherburne Pass to Mendon.
- Route 73 from Rochester heading west over Brandon Gap to Sudbury.
- Route 103 from Ludlow through Mount Holly to Route 7.
“Treetops on higher elevations are showing bright yellows and oranges. Reds are plentiful and starting to brighten roadsides and meadow hedgerows. Could be a good year for red on the hillsides as the soft maples seem to be co-operating,” Tom Olson of the New England Maple Museum reports. “The rain and cooler weather has lowered temperatures in marshy areas causing trees to turn bright red and orange...a great contrast against the beige and brown backdrop of marsh grass, wild rice and cat tails.”  Stay Tuned: Jon the Forester notes I-89 / I-91 Bethel to Springfield are good starting points to see early stages of foliage, 5-20 percent. Also, Chittenden County is just starting to show modest colors, along low-lying march regions and vistas from Washington County along Route 2 and Route 12 are beginning to hint at the dynamicity that’s ahead in the next few weeks.
Suggested Hikes and Walks:
- Mount Horrid near the Brandon Gap
- Stowe Recreation Path
- Wheeler Mountain, Barton
- Sunset Ledge, Warren
- Groton State Park’s Boulder Beach
Leaf-peepers can also easily stay up-to-date on the color progression of Vermont’s foliage by calling the Fall Foliage Hotline at 1-800-VERMONT or Click HERE!

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

After controversy and a compromise, the Lamoille North Supervisory Union will allow the Pledge of Allegiance to be said before its school board meetings.  "If you don't want to say it, don't. We're going to think just as highly of you as we did before," says David Whitcomb, a school board member.  The decision, to make the pledge optional and before the actual meeting, was the subject of public outcry.  Many including military veterans felt the pledge should be part of the meeting. "If you can't stand up and say okay to that, it's a very serious issue," says John Buttolph, Commander VFW Post 9653. "It represents the country, the traditions that we have." Some board members had felt the pledge was unnecessary at meetings and felt their patriotism was under attack. "It's nice to have public involvement but over a divisive issue and where we get hate phone calls about how we are unpatriotic and so on, it's very disconcerting," says Bill Sander, a school board member.  The issue is popping up at various school boards in the Lamoille district because of a new superintendent.  He says he didn't mean to start a controversy, he just noticed meetings were missing the pledge and thought it should be added.

Earlier this month FOX44 told you expect to pay more for apple cider this fall, but some people are surprised to see a gallon cost $8-dollars!  The sweet treat doesn't cost that much at Adams' Apple Orchard in Williston, Vermont, but at $6-dollars a gallon, the orchard is charging its highest amount ever.  An early spring and frost killed much of the nation's crops.  Local apple growers say these high prices don't shock them.  "It's surprising to me that it's there but based on the market that I know with the apple crop as it stand I'm not surprised," said Adams' Apple Orchard owner John Adams.  Adams says a reason why some cider cost more is companies that depend on buying their apples, instead of being able to pick them from their own orchards, which means they pay a lot more to produce it.

Green Mountain Power is putting up a number of turbines that will generate power to thousands of homes on Lowell Mountain in Vermont.  It's a project Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott supported, but was taken back by it during a recent bike trip.  "I have to say I was struck by what I saw," said Scott.  The large turbines didn't blend in as well as Scott thought they would.  Now he wants the state to put a two-year moratorium on any new projects.  Scott says they didn't make a mistake moving ahead with wind, but before they add any new projects he wants make sure the current ones are environmentally safe.  That's an idea his opponent, Cassandra Gekas disagrees with.  "I think it's a mistake to have a 2 year moratorium on this," said Gekas.  Gekas says doing so would hurt jobs and thinks wind is an important part in reducing the state's dependence on foreign fuel.  The democrat says Scott's stance helps her.  "If this is a hot button topic for the campaign it just gives me an opportunity to spend more time listening to Vermonters and try and figure out how to make the process better," said Gekas.  Scott says he also wants to invest in renewable energies, but not at the expense of Vermont's beauty.  He also doesn't think this should be a platform for his opponent to use.  "It's not an us against them and I don't think this has to be. I think that this is a time that we just reassess," said Scott.  Vermont has seven ridgelines wind turbine projects that either in the works, or in the permitting process.