Friday, November 30, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Addison County Rep Gregory Clark

Republican Vermont State Representative from Addison County (District 3), Gregory Clark, was killed in a Friday morning crash on Route 7 in Waltham.  It happened at around 7:30 a.m. Friday.  Police say Clark stopped to scrape ice off his windshield when they were hit and killed by a car.  A state reconstruction team has been called in.  Traffic is reduced to one lane. Motorists can expect delays until at least noon.  Police say they are unsure if charges will be filed, but it doesn't appear to be reckless driving.  No further details are being released at this time.   FOX44 and ABC22 reporter David Hodges is at the scene and will provide updates as they become available.

WVTK Local & State News November 30, 2012

15-year-old Alexandra “Alex” Papineau was found safe in Rutland on Wednesday around 4:30 in the afternoon.  According to Police in the early morning hours of Tuesday she ran away from her home to the Rutland area, leading the Vermont State Police to begin an investigation of Papineau as a “missing person.”  With the help of the Rutland City Police, Papineau was found, unharmed, and hiding in the basement of a home on Forrest Street on Wednesday.  According to police, 17-year-old Cory J. Munger of Rutland had been harboring her. Throughout the investigation, Munger made false and misleading statements to investigators about what he knew of her whereabouts.  Munger was arrested and taken to the Rutland barracks of the Vermont State Police where he was cited for second-degree unlawful restraint and providing false information to police.  He will be arraigned on January 14th in Rutland criminal court.

Our own "Bruce and Hobbes" have had many historic firsts since coming to WVTK in 2009, and tomorrow night, at the 2012 Vermont Association of Broadcasters Awards Dinner at the Hilton Burlington, our two "Best Buddies" will make history once again, when they are awarded the prestigious Alan H. Noyes Community Service Award.  Bruce and Hobbes will be honored with the VAB's top Community Service Award for their tireless work on behalf of animals in Vermont.  In three years, WVTK's morning show team has found homes for over 350 animals, raised over $30,000 for the Addison County Humane Society, and spoken across the state on animal welfare issues. Hobbes is also a police canine in Middlebury, Vergennes and Bristol, not to mention the New Haven Fire Department's official  "Fire Dog."  When Bruce and Hobbes are presented with the award, it will mark the first time in the history of the VAB, the award has been awarded to a canine.

This week the Middlebury Select Board discussed proposed changes to the Town Plan, including a new proposal introduced by Susan Shashok regarding the scale of industrial, commercial office and commercial retail development in the Town of Middlebury. The Board will continue its discussion at its next regular meeting on December 11th. If there are no major changes to the Town Plan after the discussion on the 11th, the Board may adopt the Town Plan at that meeting. If there are any big changes, another public hearing must be held on the Plan by the Select Board. The proposed Town Plan and a summary of the modifications to the Plan proposed by the Board are available on the Town's website.

The proposed NFIP / FEH regulations have been separated into two parts for clarity and in order to track sections and existing provisions already established in the Zoning and Subdivision Regulations. The Middlebury Select Board will consider the adoption of the re-drafted NFIP / FEH regulations at its meeting on December 11th. Copies of the proposed regulations are available on the Town's website, at the Town Offices and at the Sarah Partridge Library in East Middlebury.

The Middlebury Select Board seeks letters of interest in appointment to the newly created Core Mitigation Planning Team. The Planning Team will assist in the development of an all-hazards mitigation plan, which requires the identification of and planning for the Town's response to hazards and various emergencies.  Development of the all-hazard mitigation plan is a component of the grant-funded project for the engineering analysis of the Middlebury River. Any interested resident is strongly encouraged to apply and those with public transportation, public safety, public health, construction or school-education knowledge and experience are particularly encouraged to apply. Contact the Town Manager's Office for additional information, 388-8100, ext. 201.

According to Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay the Middlebury Business Development Fund Advisory Board has raised $24,000 of the $36,000 target for the business contribution to the fund and is optimistic about raising the remainder from the business community. Kathleen also reported that the Board has received 16 applications for the Business Development Director position so far and asked that the Select Board authorize the Advisory Board to continue with the recruitment process. The Advisory Board has been given the authorization to go forward with the interviews for the position.

The week the Middlebury Select Board reviewed the draft timeline and schedule for the preparation of the FY14 Budget. The first presentation of the budget will be at a special Select Board meeting on the 4th of December, with the budget finalized by the end of January to be warned for consideration at Town Meeting on March 4, 2013.  Meanwhile according to the Town Manager the General Fund, Equipment Fund, Water Fund and Sewer Fund are performing on target.

The Local Project Manager for the Railroad Overpasses Project, Bill Finger, submitted a written report this week outlining efforts to draft an agreement with the Vermont Agency of Transportation to assign administration of the project to the Town of Middlebury and to develop a request for qualifications for design engineering for the project. Both the agreement with VTrans and the RFQ are in draft form undergoing review at VTrans as of this week.

Vermont State Police are investigating a theft of construction tools.  On Wednesday morning State Police received a call form Daniel Delancey who reported a theft of his and a friends construction tools, which were taken from his property.  Through investigation it was learned about $7,500 worth of tools were taken and the incident occurred during the night of Tuesday the 27th.  Anyone with information concerning this burglary please contact VSP at 802-773-9101 or online at and click on "submit a tip".

Vermont State Police are currently investigating the report of a gasoline-refueling drive off from the Bristol Country Store on Route 116.   An unknown individual drove off after pumping $51.20 in gas without paying. Anyone with information is asked to contact Vermont State Police in New Haven at 1-802-388-4919.  Information can also be submitted anonymously online at or text CRIMES (274637) to keyword VTIPS.

Family and friends from Rutland and Middlebury gathered to say farewell to 43-year-old Donna Arnado this week.  She worked at Rutland’s Community Access Program and at the Specialized Community Care facility here in Middlebury.  Donna lost her life in a car accident on Route 7 in Rutland Town on Monday. According to coworkers she was a selfless person who was dedicated to helping disabled people lead productive, healthy lives.

Multiple bridges in Ticonderoga have been identified as needing repair or replacement. According to Ti Supervisor Deb Malaney the Tower Avenue, Montcalm Street, Lord Howe Street and Alexandria Avenue spans are all scheduled for work.  The Tower Avenue Bridge, also known as Elk Drive Bridge, across the LaChute River will be replaced in the spring of 2014 by the Essex County Highway Department. The project is expected to take six months to complete and cost $1.7 million. The cost will be borne by the Federal Highway Administration, the New York State Department of Transportation and Essex County.

A food co-op store is being investigated in Ticonderoga.  The town has received a Quality Communities Planning Grant from the New York Department of State to study the feasibility of creating a food co-op in the community.  The town is working with the PRIDE of Ticonderoga on the study. They’ve hired the firm that set up the Middlebury co-op and others for the study. 

The idea of luring Air Force F-35A aircraft to Plattsburgh International Airport from across the lake could be gaining some traction. The idea came up in July, when rumors swirled that the Air Force might consider finding another location for the aircraft, including Plattsburgh, instead of Burlington International Airport across Lake Champlain in Vermont.  Officials say an Air National Guard operation could mean about 300 to 400 jobs and federal funding for services at the airport.

Essex County lawmakers moved the decimal point in the proposed county budget’s 26 percent tax hike yesterday.  After 3 1/2 hours of wrangling, the County Board of Supervisors reduced the tax-levy increase from 26.8 percent to just 2.6 percent, which is under the state tax-cap formula for Essex County.  The 2013 budget will now add just 9 cents to the existing county property-tax rate. Yesterday’s session was a workshop only, and the board won’t vote on the cuts until its regular meeting on Tuesday. The amended budget won’t be official until the board votes at a special meeting after the last public hearing at 6:30 PM on Monday December 10th.

Vermont Health Department officials have rewritten rules designed to implement a new law on childhood immunizations, but some parents aren't satisfied with how those changes are being made. An earlier draft of the rules said when parents want to exempt their child from vaccinations they need to sign a form implying they agree with the Health Department's assessment of the vaccines' risks and benefits. Parents who have expressed skepticism about vaccines say that's compelled speech, and that it violates the First Amendment.

Many Holiday Events Kick-off This Weekend in Addison County!  There are more holiday events this weekend, and throughout the month, than you can shake a peppermint stick at!  The Vergennes Holiday Stroll takes place on Saturday, Very Merry Middlebury kicks-off, and Bristol Cool Yule will have a month full of events. There are other events around the county so make sure you check the Chamber's community events calendar!

The Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce will host their 3rd Annual Ticonderoga Area North Country Christmas Celebration from today through Sunday, December 9th. The celebration will include a variety of events starting with the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train and ending with the Chamber’s Annual Santafest. As part of the Ti Chamber’s North Country Christmas they will be sponsoring a Shopping and Dining Night – Shop Local within the area on Friday, December 7th. Offering specials and promotions, participating businesses will have a Shopping & Dining Night Snowflake displayed.  Get all of the details right now at

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train’s food-shelf contributions are needed more than ever this year.  Ticonderoga Town Supervisor Debra Malaney said the $1,000 community donations that the train brings are what power many of their programs that supply food for the poor.  The Canadian Pacific Railway train makes a trip across the United States and Canada every Christmas season, collecting donations for local food pantries while providing live entertainment at every stop, including, today, Ticonderoga, Port Henry, Plattsburgh and Rouses Point. The show schedule is Ticonderoga at 4 PM; Port Henry at 5:45 PM; Plattsburgh at 8:15 PM; and then Rouses Point at 10 PM. Since it began in 1999, the Holiday Train program has raised $2.4 million and generated about 2.6 million pounds of food donations for local food pantries.

With the holidays around the corner, the Paramount Theatre is offering an opportunity to get a jump-start on your gift shopping.  With its biggest benefit yet, the Rutland Theater is offering more than 200 auction items as part of the 10th annual Festival of Trees holiday event Saturday night.  This year’s list of donated auction items range from $20 to $30 to upwards of $6,000 and include everything from architectural services to several trips to Mexico and the Caribbean. Doors open at 5 PM, with the silent auction running until 8 PM.  Tickets can be purchased at the door for $15.

Teachers' health care bills could hike property taxes or cause cuts to other school spending.  Analysts say that the costs could rise 14 percent next year.  In the last five years, the average annual increase was only three percent.  The Department of Education says that the total increase is about 32-million dollars for the 2013-2014 year.

A second police officer testifies that 22-year-old Michael Norrie of Sheffield confessed to the murder of Pat O'Hagan.  Federal agent James Mostyn said that Norrie admitted to being involved in the death two years ago.  No one has yet been charged in the case.  Earlier, a Vermont State Police officer testified to Norrie's confession.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is working to keep guns out of the hands of those who can't pass background checks.  He's reached an agreement with two major gun show operators to implement new procedures at their gun shows across New York State.  Schneiderman says the move comes after an undercover investigation revealed how the "off the books" sale of guns at shows presented a great risk to public safety.  

As up to several inches of snow fell and covered Vermont, drivers and road crews got used to life again with winter driving.  Soon after the snow started falling, a car went off the road and flipped in Williston Thursday. "This is a fairly traditional area with the weather conditions, French Hill on the interstate," says Lt. James Whitcomb, Vermont State Police.  Whitcomb says the driver was taken to the hospital.  He says troopers will investigate to see what caused the crash.  Overall it seemed that many of the drivers on I-89 paid attention to the conditions and slowed down.  And also VTrans seemed better prepared for this snow.  "We pre-treated some of the more sensitive areas. We completely retreated the interstate," says Art Danyow, VTrans District 5 general manager.  Danyow says dozens of crews got to work before the snow even started.  That's a change from Monday when VTrans says it was caught by surprise when flurries turned heavy.  Icy roads led to crashes and big traffic problems.  Danyow says he blames a lack brine on the road.  "There was virtually none and now there is and it's a seasoned road, has a little brine on it and it will help melt the snow as it is coming down now," says Danyow.  Now with winter driving officially here, troopers say people need to also make changes.  "Slow down. Respect the roadways," says Whitcomb.  In the Burlington area, a new road crew will take over at 11:00pm and everyone will be out in force starting at 4:00am to get things ready for the morning commute.

Since scientists developed a vaccine in the 1950's, the number of whooping cough cases has dropped dramatically.  The shot helped curb Pertussis that causes people to cough for a period of time and can kill you.  While it's no longer at hundreds of thousands of cases, Vermont health leaders are seeing a scary rise.  In 2011 37 people came down with it statewide.  So far this year, that number has jumped to 443, about 12 times higher.  "Even though we're way below where we were pre-immunization it still must be alarming to go from 37 to 443," said FOX44/ABC22.  "Yes, we clearly have an ongoing outbreak we're very concerned about it," said Deputy State Epidemiologist Susan Schoenfeld  Over the past six weeks, health leaders say only two counties haven't reported any cases.  But there have been 14 in Lamoille, 21 in Caledonia and 39 in Rutland County.  Schoenfeld says the biggest threat is to kids.  "Immunize the people around them, make sure that children are up to date on their immunizations, we do have now an adult booster dose of vaccine that is given that is given to adults," said Schoenfeld.  And while it's growing in Vermont, Schoenfeld says it's a problem across the country that health leaders want everyone to pay attention to.  "Get the information we can to providers on the public to decrease their own risk when possible," said Schoenfeld.  Another reason why there might be more cases health experts say is that they can test for it more easily.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

WVTK Local & State News November 29, 2012

Vermont State Police are searching for a 15-year-old girl who reportedly ran away from her home in Chittenden. According to state police Alexandra “Alex” Papineau ran away from her home during the early morning hours Tuesday.  She was last seen near Rutland Middle School at 12:30 AM.  Papineau stands at about 5-feet, 5-inches tall and has brown hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing blue jeans and a yellow sweater.  Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call VSP in Rutland at 802-773-9101.

As part of a national effort to reach potential claimants and to provide an opportunity for farmers who have not participated in the wide range of available USDA programs, several USDA offices throughout Vermont will be hosting informational open houses during November and December in cooperation with UVM Extension and the Vermont Women's Agricultural Network. Light refreshments will be served.   The following local open houses will be run from 10AM to 2PM on Thursday, December 6th at 68 Catamount Park here in Middlebury and Thursday, December 13th at 170 South Main St in Rutland. For specific questions about the Middlebury USDA Open House event, or for directions to their office, please call 1-888-408-3783.

As downtown businesses across the state ready themselves for the holiday shopping season, the Dept. of Economic, Housing and Community Development (DEHCD) is pleased to announce the 50/50 Challenge, a call to Vermonters to support their community by doing at least half their holiday gift buying with Vermont's local retailers, artisans and craftspeople.  For every dollar spent downtown, more than 87 cents stays in the local community, compared to only 38 cents from purchases with national retailers. In 2011, Vermont downtowns were host to 200 new jobs, 94 new businesses and 121 building renovation projects with more than $17 million in private investments. Many of these local downtown organizations do this form of economic development on a shoestring budget, but Vermonters stand behind their communities with more than economic support; downtowns were strengthened by 25,000 volunteer hours this year alone. The 50/50 Challenge runs now through New Year’s Day. Learn more about holiday events and special promotions at, and sign up for an opportunity to win a gift certificate for shopping in Middlebury or Montpelier.

The Middlebury College Department of Theatre and Dance presents “Mosaics from the Underground,” a fall concert of new works by Middlebury dance students and faculty on Friday & Saturday at the Mahaney Center for the Arts. Ten student choreographers will contribute work to the performance.  Both performances take place at 8 PM. 

Ticonderoga has adopted a $5.5 million town budget for 2013 that meets the state’s 2 percent tax cap.  The 2013 spending plan totals $5,573,865. That’s an 8.2 percent increase — from the current budget.  The tax levy in the 2013 budget is $4,282,090.  That’s a 2.8 percent tax hike, although it meets the state’s 2 percent tax cap when exemptions are removed.  The 2013 tax rate is estimated to be $8.07 per $1,000 of assessed value in the Ticonderoga Fire District, up 41 cents, and $8.39 in the Chilson Fire District, a 42-cent increase. The town is using $78,000 in fund balance to meet the tax cap.

Turnout was low for the Essex County Board of Supervisors’ public hearing on Monday introducing a local law that, if enacted, would override the state's 2 percent property tax levy cap.  Harold Akey of Jay was the only county resident speaking at the hearing, asking the members of the board re-consider the option to override.  County Attorney Daniel Manning said that the introduction does not mean the law was in place, but would be if they later voted to enact the local law. County Manager Daniel Palmer said that either way, he would counsel any municipality to at least introduce the local law whether it would eventually be needed or not.

The Elizabethtown Planning Board is seeking residents interested in filling two vacancies.   The board meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month at the Town Hall.  Letters of interest should be mailed, by December 15, to: The Elizabethtown Planning Board, Elizabethtown Town Hall, PO Box 265, Elizabethtown, NY 12932, or emailed to  For more information, call Bruce Pushee at 873-2294.

It’s time for the Thirty-One Cats of December! Throughout the month of December, the North County SPCA is featuring 31 selected cats from the shelter to be adopted for free. If you have been considering adding a feline friend to your household, but have not been able to afford the adoption fee, now is a great time to bring home one of our cats.  They would also like to announce the North County SPCA Puzzle Fundraiser, sponsored by When you order a custom puzzle through their website between now and Dec. 15, 15-percent of the sale price will be donated back to the North County SPCA. To order, visit, choose your puzzle size and piece count; upload your photo; and enter coupon code NCSPCA at check out.

A small house on Main Street in West Rutland will be demolished sometime this winter as part of a town project to help alleviate traffic near the high school and public library.  Yesterday the town manager said the town is in the process of closing a deal on a house located at the corner of Main Street and High Street that had been previously purchased during a tax sale last year. She said the house was not redeemed after the sale and the homeowner has agreed to sell the house to the town for $7,400.

The former interim president of the University of Vermont is going to lead an effort to help the state get more from its investment in the state's flagship university. The appointment of John Bramley was announced Wednesday by Gov. Peter Shumlin and UVM President Tom Sullivan. Bramley will head a panel tasked with implementing some of the ideas contained in a report issued in June called "New Ideas for Changing Times."

The Vermont State Police's top criminal investigator says the man in a New Mexico prison for killing a Vermont girl in 2000 has a history of making wild claims as part of a long-running goal of being incarcerated in the federal prison system. Major Ed Ledo is the investigator who arrested Dana Martin in 2000 on charges Martin had killed a 15-year-old girl in Barre. Ledo says he doesn't know what allegedly motivated Martin to send two New Mexico men to kill two Vermonters.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced a settlement with insurer Excellus BlueCross BlueShield requiring refunds to patients and health care providers who overpaid due to improper accounting of deductibles. Schneiderman's office says Excellus has so far made repayments totaling $3.1 million. Excellus reported that accounting errors affecting 12,000 customers processed after Sept. 1, 2011, followed software modifications with glitches that have since been repaired.

The leader of the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference is pursuing an unprecedented shakeup in New York politics that would see three leaders with equal power ruling the state Senate in a bipartisan coalition. Senator Jeffrey Klein says he wants a formal three-way power-sharing arrangement that would be extended to every decision in the chamber, including state budget negotiations.

Community members of Orwell spent the weekend after Thanksgiving preparing the town for the Christmas season.  Peggy Parks of the Orwell Fortnightly Club organized efforts, which included placing colorful bows on a variety of natural, evergreen wreaths.  Phil, Aaron and Zach King pitched in with members of the Lee and Parks families to help decorate Main Street with the wreaths.  Members of the King and Lee families of Orwell helped prepare wreaths and other decorations along Main Street.

Brandon Music on Country Club Road in Brandon will present vocalist Violette this Thursday at 7:30pm. Growing up on a small island off the French Atlantic coast, Violette fully embraced the beauty and unspoiled nature of her surroundings, dividing her days between sports, books and music. Her originals, although rooted in jazz, reflect the young artist’s eclectic range of musical influences from Pop to Rock and R&B.  General Admission is $15.  Brandon Music Café offers a concert and dinner package, which includes dinner and a ticket to the show for $30 plus tax per person.  For Information & Reservations (802) 465-4071 / 

Rutland’s “Secret Santa” has announced his return, along with his intention to distribute $2,500 to people he spots out and about in town. Secret Santa first appeared in 2007, handing people cards with cash in them and then slipping away. Initially, his gifts would vary from $20 to $50 and he would give out a total of about $800. Last year, he started making uniform gifts of $50.  The Secret Santa announced his return officially to the Rutland Herald this week. 

Four juveniles are accused of making bomb threats against Spaulding High School.  The school was evacuated three times this week when threatening notes were found in public areas of the school. The four teens were charged with the first two incidents.  The third is still under investigation.

A Mount Holly man is in jail, charged with breaking into a home and assaulting a 17-year old.  Thirty-five-year-old Nathan Turco entered a home on Shunpike Road on Sunday according to police.  He was armed with a knife and at one point held the knife to the teen's throat and threatened to kill him.  Turco faced arraignment today.

New York Senator Charles Schumer is calling on travel companies to refund or credit customers who are forced to cancel plans because of school districts cancelling their mid-winter recesses.  Numerous school districts have cancelled the vacation week usually built around the President's Day holiday.  Schumer says in addition to the hardships caused by Hurricane Sandy, parents and school workers now face losing hundreds or thousands of dollars in cancellation fees or non-refundable deposits.  Schumer is hoping that the travel industry will work with those who have had to cancel their plans.

New York officials say they sold a record number of Empire Passports in a Cyber Monday promotion.  The decal provides unlimited day-use of the state's parks and recreation facilities.  The Office of Parks and Recreation sold more than 22-thousand-600 passports on Monday, a five-thousand-percent increase from last year.  The Passport normally sells for 60 dollars, but those who bought them on Monday paid only 40 dollars.

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos says the state's election division will be doing a random audit of voter tabulator results in the recent election.  Today the votes in the races for U.S. representative and Vermont state treasurer in the towns of Barre Town, Brandon, Essex and Newfane will be hand counted.  Condos says ensuring that the election process is both honest and accurate is as important as voting itself.

We have continuing coverage on a highly controversial topic in the state taxing sugar sweetened drinks like soda. Obesity is a growing epidemic in our country. Some health expert’s feel curbing attitudes is the best way to change behavior.  Several researchers at UVM laid out their findings to see if a tax on sugar sweetened beverages will in fact deter people from drinking them and therefore help curb obesity.   Do you know just how many calories you're consuming in what you drink?  Health experts say a woman should only be consuming around six teaspoons of sugar a day or 100 calories; men nine teaspoons or 150 calories.  Yet, the average person is downing around 28 and a half teaspoons. That's 475 calories of sugar per day.  "The weight gain by the American population in the last 30 years has come from sugar sweetened beverages," said Tina Zuk, Government Relations Director, for the American Heart Association.  So some health organizations are proposing a penny an ounce excise tax. The purpose is to make you think twice before you buy that soda.  "If we want healthcare costs to go down and we want people to be healthier, we have to do things like deterring consumption of unhealthy products. This tax is a way to do it," said Zuk.  One argument against the tax, is that the state will lose money if people cross the border, for example, into New Hampshire to avoid the extra tax.  "We heard today that that's not true that there has been research done that shows definitively that doesn't happen," said Zuk.  In fact, if the one cent per ounce tax is implemented, it will raise nearly 28 million dollars.  Jonathon Besett, a UVM student, believes the tax could work to combat obesity, "I think that it would be helpful and that is a smaller part of they talked about it being a part of a tool box in fighting the obesity thing."  There is no such thing as a magic bullet, but they hope by increasing the tax on sugary beverages. This can be one tool to help curb the obesity epidemic.  For more information on the proposed tax check out

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin is getting his office in the holiday spirit by cutting down a couple of Christmas trees and bringing them to the capitol.  Wednesday he visited Paine's Christmas Trees in Morrisville Vermont where he had his choice of 8-foot (that's what fits in his office lobby) Fraser firs. Paine's has been growing Christmas Trees since the 60's and Thomas Paine took over for his father in the 80's. But this is the first time a Vermont governor has picked a tree from his farm.  "Yeah it does make me feel good. That's for sure," Paine said.  Paine's farm was recommended to the governor by the Vermont Christmas Tree Association. He used to sell trees wholesale, thousands at a time, before he switched to "choose and cut" where each person gets to walk through the field and pick out their own tree.  And escorting Governor Shumlin on his journey to pick a pair of beautiful trees was Thomas's son, Ben. Ben drives the tractor around the farm, helps cut trees down but told me he really hopes his teacher and classmates are watching the news Wednesday night to see his dad's farm.  Ben says that one day he'll take over the Paine family business.  "I'm going to try and extend it and make it even awesome," Ben Paine said. Governor Shumlin endorsed the idea.  "He's gonna do a great job. You watched him go after that tree with that saw," Gov. Shumlin said.  "He knows how to pick him. He picked both these trees. I figure he has better training than I do."  And Ben did pick some beautiful trees. Both of them were transported to the Pavilion in Montpelier where people started decorating them within the hour.  But for Ben the best part takes place on the Paine farm.  "Customers are really fun, they get to cut down trees. What's not fun about it?" Ben said.

More than a year after Tropical Storm Irene ruined the Vermont state office complex in Waterbury, and leaders still don't know how much federal money is coming to rebuild it.  On Tuesday, they finally learned one option is off the table.  Members from the Federal Emergency Management Agency informed state leaders they won't be eligible for 90% reimbursement because they weren't deemed destroyed.  "It's not a big surprise," said Governor Peter Shumlin.  Governor Shumlin didn't think they would get that much, but still no one in his administration expected FEMA's announcement when we questioned Shumlin about it in his weekly news conference.  "Is there an update to the FEMA money coming later this week?" said FOX44/ABC22.  "I'm glad you asked that," said Shumlin, and his continued, "we don't have any additional news on a date for a dollar amount from FEMA than we had [Monday]."  FEMA leaders have been working at a site in Essex.  But after Superstorm Sandy came through, leaders say it's time to move these resources.      "Was this almost an effort to get things moving to get elsewhere around the country too?" said FOX44/ABC22.  "That's a great point, we're very mindful of that," said FEMA Coordinating Officer Mark Landry.  There are other options to help pay the $180-million dollar complex and mental hospital bill.  But still Vermont has 60 days to challenge FEMA's decision, although Shumlin isn't sure that's the best thing to do.  "I'm not sure that an appeal will be necessary to get the dollars that Vermont deserves," said Shumlin.  So when might Vermont learn how much money is coming?  FEMA leaders say they hope to give an answer by mid-January.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

WVTK Local & State News November 28, 2012

Due to unforeseen circumstances Citizens Bank has canceled its ‘Your Place Banking Event’ scheduled for this evening at 6.  Citizens would still like to offer each business owner the opportunity to discuss the list of classes available as benefits for themselves and their employees individually.  If you’re interested, please feel free to contact Katy Holler by phone (802-388-6791 x222) or email (

Many Holiday Events Kick-off This Weekend in Addison County!  There are more holiday events this weekend, and throughout the month, than you can shake a peppermint stick at!  The Vergennes Holiday Stroll takes place on Saturday, Very Merry Middlebury kicks-off, and Bristol Cool Yule will have a month full of events. There are other events around the county so make sure you check the Chamber'scommunity events calendar!

The Homeward Bound Animal Welfare Center (a division of the Addison County Humane Society) is pleased to announce that they will be celebrating the holidays this year by holding an adoption event designed to help cats who have been at the shelter for over a year find their forever homes. From December 1st thru December 12th, any cat that has been at the shelter for 12 months or longer will have a reduced adoption fee of $12.00.  There are over 125 cats at the shelter that need a forever home. For more information about the “Forever Home of the Holiday” 12-12-12 Adoption Event, please visit their website at or stop by the shelter at 236 Boardman Street in Middlebury.

Vermont State Police are seeking information about a break-in at a home on Stevens Road in Pittsford.  Owners who discovered a window had been forced open called police to the home at 1097 Stevens Road on Monday. A number of items were stolen from the home, although police did not identify any of them.  Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call VSP in Rutland at 802-773-9101.

The first draft of the Rutland city school budget calls for a spending increase of $2.5 million, or 5.7 percent, this coming fiscal year.  The increase is mainly attributed to salary increases. The $47,744,683 budget for fiscal year 2014 includes two years of settled teacher contract wage increases and a 12 percent health insurance hike. It also includes cutting four staffers at Northeast and Northwest schools for next school year.

Randy Preston, the Wilmington supervisor, successfully asked for an amendment increasing the resolution seeking a 1-point increase (3 to 4 percent) in the Essex County Occupancy Tax to 2 (3 to 5 percent).  Both Clinton and Franklin County are pursuing a 5 percent tax.  Preston said that, instead of putting the added revenue into the general fund, it should be put into a specific dedicated fund, which he said would be broken down to help fund the fish hatchery, the tourism product development fund, the winter shoulder marketing program and tourism-related county travel. Fifteen of the supervisors voted along with Preston to amend the resolution and then pass it onto the full board meeting coming up on Tuesday, December 4th.

Firefighters from three departments battled a blaze at a storage barn at 509 Chilson Road in Ti Monday evening.  The fire began shortly before 7 PM and was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. Crews from Ticonderoga, Chilson and Crown Point worked to put out the fire, but the 20-by-20-foot structure was destroyed. Firefighters from Putnam in Washington County backed up the Ticonderoga station, and the Essex County Fire Investigation unit was there to determine the origin of the blaze.

Flames engulfed a multi-family home across from Gilmore Home Center on Route 4A in Castleton last night.  The owner of the home was injured while escaping from the fire and treated at the scene for minor burns. A family dog was also rescued and treated at the scene.  The house was not a total loss, but declared uninhabitable after flames caused significant damage to the structure.  Fair Haven, Poultney and Castleton responded to the scene. The fire was contained and knocked down quickly.  Route 4A was blocked to one lane during the fire.

The largest landline Telecommunications Company in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont says it has won a $16 million contract to provide telecommunications services for more than 400 health care facilities in the region. FairPoint Communications says the 4-year contract supports the needs of the New England Telehealth Consortium.

A Vermont police department says a New Mexico man in custody in New York on charges of conspiracy to commit murder posed no threat to anyone in the St. Albans area. St. Albans police say the alleged intended victims of 23-year-old Tanner Ruane have been identified and the Vermont State Police are working with their counterparts in New Mexico on the case.

The Democratic members of the Vermont Senate have voted for John Campbell to continue as Senate president pro tempore in the upcoming session of the Legislature.  Sen. Ann Cummings, of Washington County, challenged Campbell, of Windsor County, for the job Campbell has held for the last two years.  The full Senate will vote on the leadership position in January.  Cummings said she was seeking the job held by Campbell because of what she called the "dysfunction" of the last two years.  Campbell, meanwhile, told the Burlington Free Press he believes he has the votes to win re-election, but he says he's heard the complaints about how the chamber has been run and he's promising to make changes.

An autopsy released Tuesday afternoon in a press release from New York State Police found the ambulance driver that was killed in Altona, NY suffered a heart attack.   Police say just after midnight, the ambulance went off State Route 190 into a ditch then striking a utility pole early Tuesday morning.   The driver, 45-year-old Eric Monty, of Mooers was pronounced dead at the scene.  3 others, EMT Susan Roberts, Tech Peter Coulombe, and patient Gary Lamarche were taken to the hospital.  Police say Roberts and Lamarche are in stable condition. Coulombe, who suffered a head injury, is listed in critical condition at Fletcher Allen.   The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Governor Andrew Cuomo wants huge electrical transformers hauled to upper floors of commercial buildings and the ability to shutter subways as part of a $9 billion plan to protect New York City from the next Superstorm. Cuomo says government must take preventive measures now to avoid future loss of life and billions more in damage.

An agency spokeswoman says the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will file for a 90-day extension when the deadline for finalizing new gas-drilling regulations arrives on Thursday. DEC spokeswoman Emily DeSantis says the agency needs time for the Health Commissioner and three national experts to review health effects of shale gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train’s food-shelf contributions are needed more than ever this year.  Ticonderoga Town Supervisor Debra Malaney said the $1,000 community donations that the train brings are what power many of their programs that supply food for the poor.  The Canadian Pacific Railway train makes a trip across the United States and Canada every Christmas season, collecting donations for local food pantries while providing live entertainment at every stop, including, this Friday, Ticonderoga, Port Henry, Plattsburgh and Rouses Point. The show schedule is Ticonderoga at 4 PM; Port Henry at 5:45 PM; Plattsburgh at 8:15 PM; and then Rouses Point at 10 PM. Since it began in 1999, the Holiday Train program has raised $2.4 million and generated about 2.6 million pounds of food donations for local food pantries.

West Rutland kicks off the holiday season at 6:45 PM Saturday with annual visit of Santa and a tree lighting ceremony at West Rutland Town Hall.  For a donation of $1, one of the 2,000 light bulbs on the tree will be lit in memory of a loved one. Proceeds will benefit the Town Hall Restoration Fund.  After the tree is lit, Santa will head to the upstairs auditorium to welcome visitors and listen to children’s holiday wishes.  Hot chocolate, cider and cookies will be provided while carolers sing holiday tunes.

Despite a large debt burden, Vermont is one of the best-run states in the nation.  "24-7-Wall Street" just released its annual and extensive survey of all fifty states, looking at the financial health, standard of living and government services.  Vermont ranked as 8th best run in the union, while North Dakota was number one, and California dead last.  The survey determined Vermont had the 5th lowest unemployment at five-point-six percent, and allocated 40-percent of its budgeted spending to education, which was second only to Iowa, with nearly 92-percent of Vermont's adults having a high school diploma.

Six people charged with trespassing at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant are found guilty.  That was the verdict Tuesday in what turned out to be a one-day trial in Vermont Superior Court in Brattleboro.  The jury convicted six women, all seniors, and each was then ordered by the judge to pay a fine of 350-dollars.  Authorities say the six women; members of the Shut It Down Affinity group padlocked the gate at Vermont Yankee and chained themselves to it last year.

When lawmakers return in January to the Statehouse, some tough choices will be waiting for them.  Governor Peter Shumlin says he's going to ask them to make the cuts needed to state programs in order to shore up a fifty-million-dollar budget shortfall.  The governor's administration is putting together a new budget now, and wants all state agencies and departments to submit a level-funded spending plan. 

The Vermont Department of Health is getting an infusion of federal dollars in a grant for preventing substance abuse.  The three-year grant is worth three-and-a-half million dollars, and will be divided among six regional offices.  The grant is specifically intended for those programs, which deal with prescription drug abuse and underage drinking.  State officials say Vermont leads the nation in kids consuming alcohol.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says state officials will apply for an extension to review possible regulations for hydrofracking.  In Rochester Tuesday, Cuomo said the Department of Environmental Conservation has been directed to apply for a new 90-day extension to complete the regulatory review of the controversial drilling process.  The previous deadline had been tomorrow, but Cuomo had previously said the state wouldn't be able to make the deadline due to issues connected with Hurricane Sandy.

It will soon look more like Christmas in Vermont's capital city.  Gov. Peter Shumlin will travel to a Christmas tree farm today to cut down two trees - one for his office and another for the lobby of the Pavilion building.  The trees will come from Paine's Christmas Trees in Morrisville.

Brandon Music on Country Club Road in Brandon will present vocalist Violette this Thursday at 7:30pm. Growing up on a small island off the French Atlantic coast, Violette fully embraced the beauty and unspoiled nature of her surroundings, dividing her days between sports, books and music. Her originals, although rooted in jazz, reflect the young artist’s eclectic range of musical influences from Pop to Rock and R&B.  General Admission is $15.  Brandon Music Café offers a concert and dinner package, which includes dinner and a ticket to the show for $30 plus tax per person.  For Information & Reservations (802) 465-4071 / 

There's more than a month before the gavel is struck in Montpelier for the 2013 legislative session and Governor Peter Shumlin is already working lawmakers.  On Tuesday he laid out four things that he wants see passed.  They include: giving licenses to migrant workers, physician assisted suicide, letting child care's unionize and decriminalizing marijuana.  "That's what I'm going to be asking them to do," said Shumlin.  Four social issues, that haven't done well in the past.  "What makes you so confident those 4 things will pass this upcoming session?" said FOX44/ABC22.  "First of all because they're the right thing to do and I think this legislature will do what's right for Vermonters," said Shumlin.  Even though Governor Shumlin is confident they'll pass this time around, some other state leaders aren't so sure.  "We have our job to do over here in the legislature so we'll see what happens," said Vermont Senate Pro Tem John Campbell.  Campbell says he wants to focus on balancing the budget and building a new state mental hospital.  But that doesn't mean Governor Shumlin's items won't come up.  Campbell says he expects Vermont's top leader to be lobbying hard for those items he wants to see pass.  "If they're shown to be worthy of the vote we'll certainly take them up," said Campbell.  Governor Shumlin is also working on his proposed budget.  He's trying to find a way to come up with upwards of $70 million dollars to close the budget deficit without raising broad based taxes.

A report was released Tuesday highlights one organizations "dirty dozen," lists of what they believe are New England's worst polluters.  A group of people talked about the places today on the steps of the Vermont capital building.  On the Toxins Action Center list it included Entergy in Southern Vermont and Advanced Disposal Services in Moretown.  Organizers say Tuesday's announcement is meant to bring awareness.  "It basically highlights 12 of the "dirty dozen" which highlights threats to New England and Vermont that pose toxic and hazardous risks to the communities," said National Wildlife Federation attorney Jim Murphy.  To see the list yourself, click here.

The Vermont grandma accused of giving her three-month-old grandson a lethal level of anti-depressants, she says, "to keep him quiet," was deemed incompetent to stand trial.  We told you about Pamela Raymond's mental health a couple of weeks ago, and now, the court is trying to decide if she should be involuntarily committed to a hospital.  She's still sitting in jail.  The plan would be to treat her and then prosecute.  "Competency is not a fixed state; it's a fluid state, so someone could be incompetent today and competent tomorrow," Lamoille County State's Deputy Attorney Christopher Moll said.  Pamela Raymond was a nurse, until she lost her license in 1996.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

WVTK Local & State News November 27, 2012

The Middlebury Business Development Advisory Board will meet tomorrow afternoon at 2 in the Town Offices. Agenda items include an update on the status of fundraising & the recruitment of a Director.  The Select Board will meet Tuesday at 7PM at the United Methodist Church in East Middlebury.  Items on the agenda include an update on Middlebury River matters.  There will also be a follow-up from the Town Plan Public hearing that was held on the 13th.  Reports from various committees will be heard along with a project update in the Middlebury Fire Department.  There will be a year-to-date budget report as of October 31st also a timeline and schedule for the FY2014 budget review.   For complete agendas anytime just visit the Town’s Website.

The Port Henry Office of Glens Falls National Bank and Trust Co. will offer free document shredding and a chance to visit with Santa during its Community Appreciation Day today.  The event will be from 10 AM to 2 PM in Port Henry and will feature food and a visit from Santa.

The former finance director of Specialty Filaments Inc., a Vermont manufacturing company that went out of business in 2007, has been sentenced to four months of home confinement and placed on probation for three years for his part in federal fraud case.  Paul Mammorella, of Williston, also was ordered on Monday to pay $300,000 in restitution.  The Burlington Free Press reports that ex-CEO Donald James Marler III, formerly of Shelburne and now of Pennsylvania, and former Vice President Jeff Audette, of Milton, are scheduled to be sentenced in December.  The three were charged with conspiring to send inflated financial reports to lender Wells Fargo, which allowed the company to borrow more. The company closed its Burlington plant in 2005 and its Middlebury plant in 2007.

Culture and art critic Lee Rosenbaum, who writes an award-winning blog at and is a contributor to the Wall Street Journal and Huffington Post Arts, will speak tomorrow afternoon at 4:30 at Middlebury College’s Twilight Auditorium. Rosenbaum’s lecture is titled “Critical Mass: How Reviewers Influence Museums and Vice Versa”.  She has written for The New York Times and Los Angeles Times newspapers and for ARTnews and Art in America magazines, among others.

Vermont State Police say icy conditions caused a crash that took the life of a Rutland woman.  Police say 43-year-old Donna Arnado was driving north on Route 7 yesterday morning when her vehicle spun around on an icy bridge and into the oncoming lane.  Arnado's vehicle was hit by a pickup truck. She was pronounced dead at the scene.  The driver of the pickup, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was taken to the hospital with bruised ribs.  Police say speed, drugs or alcohol were not factors in the crash.

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos says the state's election division will be doing a random audit of voter tabulator results in the recent election.  On Thursday the votes in the races for U.S. representative and Vermont state treasurer in the towns of Barre Town, Brandon, Essex and Newfane will be hand counted.  Condos says ensuring that the election process is both honest and accurate is as important as voting itself.

Rutland City police are trying to locate a 16-year-old girl who reportedly ran away from home.  Katie Blanchette was last seen at her home in the city at around 4:15 on Saturday afternoon.   Katie is described as being 5-feet, 5-inches tall with brown hair, blonde streaks and pink underneath. She has blue eyes.  She was last seen wearing a pink hoodie, black leggings and jean shorts.  Anyone with information on Katie’s whereabouts is asked to call city police at 773-1816.

Any further discussion regarding a proposed medical marijuana dispensary in town was postponed until the first Wednesday in December to allow all Select Board members to have the opportunity to weigh in on the issue.  The four members of the Pittsford board briefly discussed whether or not the town should allow a dispensary in Pittsford at the board’s meeting Wednesday.  The responses to the proposal by town residents has been different for each selectman receiving feedback with some citizens in favor of the proposal, some are indifferent, and others oppose the dispensary.  The board decided to table the discussion until December 5th.

Town of Essex Councilman James LaForest will resign at month's end.  LaForest expressed his displeasure with the recent controversy in which Essex Town Supervisor Sharon Boisen withheld the salary of then Town Clerk Catherine DeWolff until she completed a financial report for July. The Town Council decided to hold off acting on the resignation until Friday’s meeting. Meanwhile, the Town Council has discussed whether to use some of the fund balance for 2013 for the purchase of a tractor and also talked about insurance options for future budgets. 

Essex County lawmakers want to try increasing the occupancy-tax rate to make more money for tourism-related activities.  According to County Manager Daniel Palmer the tax is now at 3 percent, and raising it to 4 percent would enable them to fund a wider variety of items. The extra 1 percent would be put under the county’s control so the law would have to be changed.  The 3 percent occupancy tax generates more than $1.5 million a year that is used to promote tourism in the county. An additional 1 percent would bring in at least $500,000 more.

The Crown Point Chamber of Commerce will celebrate the holiday season.  The chamber will hold its annual Christmas dinner on Tuesday December 4th at 6:30 p.m. at the Knapp Senior Center.  Current members as well as perspective members are encouraged to come with a dish to share. Participants are asked to bring canned goods for the local Crown Point food pantry. Door prizes will be offered from McDonald’s, Norm’s Bait and Tackle and Stoney Lonesome Bed and Breakfast.   The Crown Point Chamber of Commerce now has 40 members.  Additional information on the chamber is available on line at

Vermont's largest electric utility says snow stuck to turbine blades caused a roaring sound that drew noise complaints shortly after the Lowell Mountain turbines started operating.  At least 21 neighbors complained about the noise, which began on the morning of November 3rd and lasted into the 4th.  The neighbors complained to the Vermont Department of Public Service.  GMP spokesman Robert Dostis says the excess noise was caused by the weather conditions.   He tells the Caledonian Record neighbors should call the utility when they have noise complaints so technicians can modify the operation of the turbines or shut them down.  GMP just completed construction of its 21-turbine project on Lowell Mountain.

Police say two New Mexico men in Vermont as part of an alleged murder-for-hire plot that targeted two people in St. Albans ended up at the Highgate Springs border crossing with Canada last week after getting lost. The Vermont State Police on probation violation charges arrested Mark Staake at the border. His nephew, Tanner Ruane, was arrested the next day in the Albany area after police learned he was wanted in New Mexico for conspiracy to commit murder.

Prosecutors say a supply sergeant with the Vermont National Guard sergeant has been sentenced for misusing a government credit card for personal purchases including equipment commonly used to grow marijuana.  Edward Bouchard of Enosburg was sentenced on Monday to time served, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay back $11,329.  Prosecutors say National Guard officials discovered 25 unauthorized purchases on Bouchard's government credit card.  The office of the U.S. attorney for Vermont says Bouchard eventually admitted that he had used the card for personal gain.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says the state and New York City will look to Uncle Sam to help with the $42 billion bill left behind by Superstorm Sandy. The cost includes $32 billion for repairs and restoration and $9 billion for preventive measures for the next disastrous storm. Cuomo says New York taxpayers can't foot the bill.

The Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce is once again sponsoring its annual Christmas decorating contest.  There are two divisions, one for individual residential homes and the other for the business community.  Prizes will be presented for first place for the individual residential homes in the following categories: most traditional or Adirondack style, most creative display of lights and most creative themed display.  Award certificates will be presented to the businesses for first, second and third place.  The judging of the contest will take place late afternoon and early evening on Friday December 14th, weather permitting. Contact the chamber office at 532-7675 for more information.

Brandon Music on Country Club Road in Brandon will present vocalist Violette this Thursday at 7:30pm. Growing up on a small island off the French Atlantic coast, Violette fully embraced the beauty and unspoiled nature of her surroundings, dividing her days between sports, books and music. Her originals, although rooted in jazz, reflect the young artist’s eclectic range of musical influences from Pop to Rock and R&B.  General Admission is $15.  Brandon Music Café offers a concert and dinner package, which includes dinner and a ticket to the show for $30 plus tax per person.  For Information & Reservations (802) 465-4071 / 

Police in Chittenden County are looking for the man they say held up three stores in one night.  The first was at Simon's Deli and Grocery on Route 7 in South Burlington and then a Champlain Farms store in Colchester an hour later.  That's where police say the suspect tried to fire his gun and couldn't, and tried to open the cash drawer and couldn't so he just ran out.  The third robbery was at a Maplefields Store, where the gunman got away with cash.  No one was hurt in any of the hold-ups.

A magnificent mansion built in the 1840's in Isle La Motte is now just a smoldering ruin.  The five-thousand-square foot home went up in flames Monday morning and firefighters from nine departments responded, and at least were able to keep the flames from jumping to a nearby barn.  No one was inside the lakefront home at the time, and the Red Cross is now helping the owners and their child.  At this point, it's not known what caused the fire, but fire crews say the wind definitely played a factor in helping it spread so quickly.

There were some surprised faces Monday, from weather forecasters to V-Trans workers and just regular drivers, as the morning commute suddenly turned into an icy mess.  The problem was a snow burst, a sudden burst of the white stuff that no one was expecting and the roads were not treated for.  With the tires melting it and then the sub-freezing temperatures immediately turning the wet pavement to ice, which turned a lot of roads in the Champlain Valley into ice rinks.

A new Veterans Affairs clinic is on track for its new home at the former General Dynamics building on Lakeside Avenue in Burlington's South End.  The two-point-six million-dollar outpatient clinic will replace and double the capacity of the state's current and largest V-A clinic, which is in Colchester.  The new clinic will cover about 16-thousand square feet in the refurbished Queen City Cotton Mill, and once it's finished will serve about four thousand vets.  It should be open and ready to serve veterans early next year.

One of the nation's oldest historic sites says its 2012 season saw increases in attendance, revenues and donations.  Fort Ticonderoga President and CEO Beth Hill says it has been a "remarkable" year for the not-for-profit tourism destination located on the southern end of Lake Champlain in Essex County.  She says paid attendance increased nearly 6% and admissions revenue jumped 18% compared to the 2011 season. Hill says donations through annual giving to Fort Ticonderoga also increased by 18% over last year.  Just a few years ago, the fort's financial situation was so shaky that there was talk it would have to shut down for a season or some of its collection of artifacts and artwork would have to be sold off.  The fort's five-month season ended in October. It reopens in May.

Although VTrans had some issues cleaning up Monday's roads, it is more concerned with what could happen when a large storm comes.  Transportation leaders say they are about 20 positions short, because people continue to retire in the aging department.  That means workers might have to work longer hours to plow the roads when a large snowstorm hits this winter.  VTrans leaders say that's not something they like seeing.  Agency of Transportation Director of Operations Scott Rogers says it does get tiring for them and he is concerned.  VTrans leaders say as more people retire; the problem might only get worse in years to come.  For information about VTrans jobs click here.

Last year, Irene had a damaging impact on Christmas tree farms.   White's Tree Farm in Essex junction was underwater last year from flooding after Irene.  It takes nearly 8 years for a tree to grow from seed to Christmas tree and while flooding killed thousands of trees, many were able to survive.   And the owner says this week is the busiest time for business. "We lost thousands of trees but the rest of them cam through fine, we got very fortunate when it hit, if it hit a few weeks later it could've been devastating but we rode right through it."   Last year it took them a month to clean up after Irene and cost around 25 thousand dollars.