Monday, December 31, 2012

WVTK Local & State News December 31, 2012

Today Addison County Transit Resources bus routes will operate on normal schedules however the ACTR office will be closed.  Then on New Year’s Day no buses will run except the Snow Bowl Shuttle Bus, which will be in operation to accommodate skiers and snowboarders between 9:05 am and 4:35 pm, which is the regular winter Saturday/Sunday schedule.  For more information, please call 388-1946 or go to

The Addison County Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a meeting open to both members and the public entitled “Embezzlement, Fraud & Theft: It Can (and does) Happen Here.” The meeting will be held on Monday, January 7th, from 6:00 to 7:30 PM in the Ilsley Library Community Room in Middlebury. Holden Insurance is sponsoring the meeting.  The featured speaker is Tom Hughes, a one-time banker, accountant, business manager, and small business CFO. With multiple felony convictions for fraud and deceit, he is now a disgraced ex-accountant with a story to tell. Tom will share some of the things he’s learned. Andy Mayer, president of the Addison County Chamber of Commerce, said   “We’ve recently been made aware of an embezzlement case in Addison County, so we know the problem exists—right here in our own backyard.” He goes on to say he’s sure we all think we can’t be duped and that we have all the right checks and balances in place, but hearing directly from a past embezzler might get us to re-think some of our practices.  This event is open to the public and is free of charge.  An RSVP is appreciated to Sue Hoxie ( or 388-7951 x2.

Middlebury College recently joined a growing number of higher education institutions when it announced this month that it would investigate divesting from fossil fuel companies.  In what many people consider a good sign for the growing movement in favor of divesting from fossil fuel companies, Middlebury College’s President said in a campus-wide email that he looks forward to engaging the community on an issue of great interest and importance to the college and its many constituents. Campaigns at more than 100 colleges and universities are protesting their college’s investments going to large fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil, Shell and BP. At the University of Vermont, students this fall were very vocal in demanding the board of trustees sell its shares of fossil fuel companies.

More than 50 years after it was raised from the waters of Lake Champlain, a rare naval relic from a decisive War of 1812 battle is being stored in an open-sided shed in upstate New York.  A maritime historian is hoping the war's bicentennial commemoration will spark interest in finally taking steps to preserve the wooden hull of the Ticonderoga. It played a key role in the American victory over the British at the Battle of Plattsburgh.  Arthur Cohn of Vermont's Lake Champlain Maritime Museum calls the 1958 salvaging of the Ticonderoga's hull a "well-meaning" effort by history buffs in Whitehall, NY.  But he says the relic needs to be enclosed in a climate-controlled building to stem its deterioration, a costly project not likely to be undertaken anytime soon.

The Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce will host an Open House with the North Country Small Business Development Center on Tuesday, January 15, 2013.  Services provided by the North Country SBDC will be available at the Chamber office typically on the second Tuesday of each month. The open house will be from 9:30 AM – 3:00 PM at the he Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce office.  In addition on the 15th from 8:00 – 9:30 AM the Chamber in coordination with the North Country Small Business Development Center and Mannix Marketing will host a Business Seminar entitled Facebook 101. This seminar will cover the basics of setting up a Facebook page for your business or organization as well as using Facebook in your marketing plan. Refreshments for this seminar will be provided compliments of Dunkin Donuts of Ticonderoga.  For more information just visit

Ticonderoga High School has a new principal.  Paul Berkheimer, who retired last June after 32 years as principal at Jackson Heights Elementary School in Glens Falls, has been appointed as interim principal by the Ti school board.  Paul will hold the job through June while the district searches for a permanent replacement for Mike Graney, who resigned as Ti High principal to accept a similar position at Bolton Central School.  He taught elementary school for 10 years in suburban Philadelphia before becoming principal at Jackson Heights.

Jay Town Supervisor Randy Douglas is seeking a fourth term as chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors.  Douglas, who has served three one-year terms in the position, said he discussed it with his family and town staff and feels it’s the best thing to do. Douglas said he is asking the other 17 supervisors to vote for him as chairman at the board’s organizational meeting, set for 10 AM Monday, January 7th in the Old County Courthouse in Elizabethtown.

The Schroon supervisor Mike Marnell recently found and purchased a generator that is now online at the Schroon Lake Ski Hill. The generator powers the ski tow, lights, heaters and the warming hut.  The generator, which is valued at $30,000, was bought for $250 from Federal Surplus Property, a program that allows non-federal organizations to obtain property that the federal government no longer needs. Located at the Schroon Lake Municipal Golf Course, the ski area is open Friday from Noon to 6 PM., Saturday 10 AM to 8 PM, Sunday 10 AM to 6 PM and on school holidays. Skiing is free.

Future engineers showed their skills during the annual Ticonderoga Kiwanis bridge building contest.  More than 30 students from Ticonderoga Middle School, Ticonderoga High School and St. Mary’s School in Ticonderoga competed to see who could construct the strongest bridges. Awards were presented for aesthetics and bridge efficiency, which is the weight of the load in pounds the bridge carried prior to failing divided by the bridge’s weight in grams. Team Big Buck of Ti Middle School was the most efficient middle school bridge, carrying a record load of 170 pounds.

Rutland Town has passed an ordinance that puts a stop to panhandling.  After many complaints from local residents Rutland Town Select Board member, Jim Hall and the other select board members voted unanimously to restrict panhandling.  The ordinance stops panhandlers from soliciting anyone waiting in line, in a parking lot, or within 15 feet of a building entrance.  Hall says there's help out there for people who need it.  If someone is caught panhandling, it could mean a fine of up to 50-dollars for the first offense.  The ordinance goes into effect in February. However, the American Civil Liberties Union is raising some questions.  Supporters of the ordinance suggest donating to charity because research shows that the majority of the money given to homeless is spent on drugs, alcohol and cigarettes.

Chaffee Art Center Board President Tracy Carris announced Friday that the center has a new executive director, has completed a fundraising drive, is poised to begin the repairs being paid for by that drive, and is moving into a temporary downtown location that will carry them through the repairs and possibly offer added space beyond it.  The new director is Margaret Barros, a Rutland native who has worked in public relations for Vermont Electric Power Co. She was chosen because of her business background and “ability to help fund-raise locally and be comfortable doing it.” The Chaffee’s new Merchants Row annex is next to the Boys & Girls Club.

Giorgetti Park in Rutland will get a unique timepiece next year. The park will become the new home to “Oculus,” a marble sculpture that the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center in West Rutland will donate to the city. The sculpture is intended for the entrance of Giorgetti Park, near the beginning of the bike trail.  Carving Studio executive director Carol Driscoll said the organization’s board of trustees chose Oculus from among the works produced during its 2010 Vermont Marble Sculpture Symposium.

Police say a 50-year-old Connecticut man and his 11-year-old son are safe and sound after skiing off a trail at a Vermont resort and later being rescued last night. State police say Scott Barbarossa of Norwich, CT and his son became lost after skiing off a trail at Pico Mountain at Killington Resort.

A bridge that replaces a covered bridge that was destroyed by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Irene has reopened to traffic in Vermont. The bridge in Quechee was destroyed in August 2011. The replacement span has been under construction since late summer.

Vermont lawmakers usually gather to open their yearly session in the first week of January, but that won't happen this year.  State law says a new 2-year session of the Legislature begins on the first Wednesday after the first Monday of the year.  Because New Year's Day is a Tuesday, that pushes the Legislature's opening day to Wednesday, January 9th.

A proposed a methadone clinic near schools in South Burlington is facing another possible delay.  The South Burlington Development Review Board will be asked at its Wednesday meeting to hold another hearing based on claims that a board member had an improper private communication about the case.  The Burlington Free Press reports that another hearing could push back a decision on whether the clinic can open by at least 15 days or longer.  The clinic was at first approved and then appealed by the South Burlington School District.  The board has until January 4th to issue a written decision on the appeal.

Companies that sell heating fuels in Vermont are urging customers to take extra precautions following this week's heavy snow.  Matt Cota of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association says people should make sure the vents from their heating systems are clear of ice and snow. Vent blockages can lead to dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide.  Cota also asks that customers make sure there's a path open to fuel tank feed pipes and that there's access to tanks located in backyards to speed deliveries.  Vermont Gas Systems, which provides piped natural gas to northwestern Vermont, is offering similar tips, especially that meters and vents should be kept clear of ice and snow.

Search and rescue crews in Killington didn't have a minute to rest over the weekend.  They got an early start on Friday when they were called out to help five skiers needing assistance.  Then on Saturday, search crews were called out after a man from Connecticut and his son skied into the woods on Pico Mountain, going off of the Giant Killer trail and getting lost.  They were eventually found late Saturday night, holed up and okay inside a snow cave they had built.  On Sunday, two skiers from Maryland walked out after being lost on Pico for about four hours.

State lawmakers won't formally get back to work until January 9, but House budget writers will be getting a jump on the process with committee work beginning the day after New Year's.  The House Appropriations Committee begins hearings Wednesday afternoon on a mid-year budget adjustment. The fiscal year begins in July, and when lawmakers convene they'll begin working on a bill making any necessary changes to the spending plan that's been in place for six months.  On Wednesday and Thursday, the panel will hear from departments of the state Agency of Human Services, including Mental Health, Aging and Disabilities, and Corrections.  On Thursday, officials from the agencies of Commerce and Agriculture will be among those testifying. On Friday, the Natural Resources Agency and Department of Buildings and General Services will be up.

Preparations continue for an unusual Vermont inaugural celebration.  Instead of the traditional ball, Governor Peter Shumlin is ushering in his second term with a special open house combined with a fundraiser for Irene recovery relief on January 10th at the Statehouse in Montpelier.  The 4:30 PM event will follow the governor's swearing-in and inaugural speech to lawmakers earlier in the day.  Shumlin is asking businesses and individuals to donate what they might normally contribute toward the ball instead to the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund.  That fund is helping continuing efforts to recover from Tropical Storm Irene 16 months ago.

The annual tradition of free coffee being made available to drivers at New York State Thruway rest stops on New Year's Eve continues tonight.  For the 42nd consecutive year, free coffee will be offered to drivers at each of the 27 Thruway travel plazas along the superhighway.  Thruway Executive Director Thomas Madison says fatigue is a major factor in highway accidents, and the free coffee is a reminder for drivers to put safety first at all times.

A plane at Albany International Airport slid off the runway over the weekend.  Airport officials say the plane was taxing to the runway when it got stuck in a snow bank.  The flight that contained 65 passengers was headed to Chicago.  Officials say that there were no injuries sustained during the incident.

Over the past couple day’s roads were pretty tough to drive on with all the snow and ice.  Fox 44 / ABC 22 sat down with Vermont State Police to see the safest way to get around.  Many reports came in for people skidding off roads people in ditches and several accidents.  Before you go out check road conditions with your state's 5-1-1 website.  Also be sure to have safe tires driving with bald tires doesn't create traction... You can also get ticketed for bald tires. And keep enough space between you and other cars... This keeps both you, and other drives, safe.  "I understand if the guy in front of you is doing 35 because they're a little more worried about driving in this weather, but you've gotta give yourself just a little bit more time, slow down, then we won't be fishing you out of the median."  Of course, the best way to keep to avoid snowy and icy roads altogether. 

The top leaders in both parties on the House and Senate Agriculture committees have agreed to a one-year extension of the 2008 farm bill that expired in October, a move that would head off a possible doubling of milk prices next month.  The agreement to extend current farm law until next October was reached as negotiators hit a snag on averting a broader fiscal cliff combination of higher taxes and spending cuts January 1.  Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Americans faced the prospect of paying $7 for a gallon if the current dairy program lapsed and the government returned to a 1948 formula for calculating milk price supports.

Friday, December 28, 2012

WVTK Local & State News December 28, 2012

The United Way of Addison County is gearing up for a major fund raising drive.  This year they have set a goal of raising $700,000 for various programs around Addison County.  So far they have raised just shy of $350,000 toward their goal.  That is around $50,000 behind where they were the same time last year.  Officials say, “Every dollar is critical in meeting the needs of the community.”  Anyone interested in contributing to the campaign should contact the UWAC at 388-7189, or log on to

The U.S. Department of Labor and Vergennes officials confirmed last week that the current firm now operating Northlands Job Corps has been granted an additional three months to run the federally funded job-training center for disadvantaged youth.  The Department Of Labor, which oversees the nation’s roughly 120 Job Corps centers, had announced back in March that it would terminate Northlands contract, effective December 31st.

The Rutland Town Selectboard has passed an ordinance restricting the activities of panhandlers.  Unless someone files a petition for a public vote, the new ordinance will go into effect on February 2.  The ordinance prohibits soliciting anyone waiting in line, in a parking lot or within 15 feet of a building entrance, public toilet, ATM, bus stop, handicapped parking space, pay phone, public information booth, financial institution or check cashing business.

Police in Burlington are investigating an attempted robbery last night.  Investigators say a short, stocky white man wearing a mask told the clerk at Dot's on Archibald Street that he had a weapon and demanded cash; although a weapon was never shown.  The clerk hit the panic button and the suspect took off.  Police think this may be the same person who held up the Willard Street Market on Christmas Eve. 

A woman charged with second-degree murder was tearful throughout her arraignment yesterday as she entered a plea of not guilty.  Anne-Marie Whiteway of Bradford is accused of shooting her estranged boyfriend, Dale Rock.  Prosecutors say she was angry he had recently broken up with her in order to be with her sister-in-law.  The shooting happened Christmas night at Rock's apartment in Newbury.

City Councilors in Burlington are considering a ban within city limits of semi-automatic weapons.  Vermont law prevents cities from passing any gun limiting ordinances, but Burlington Councilor Norm Blais says the city could ban semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines through a charter change.  However, the city council, residents and state lawmakers would have to sign off on it.  In order to put it on the March ballot, the city needs to act on the proposal by its January seventh meeting.

The Vermont Foodbank plans to expand.  The organization is in the process of finalizing a deal to partner with the Vermont Farmers Food Center in Rutland. The plan calls for a new, 4,000-square-foot distribution center. It would be built next to the Winter Farmers Market.  The Foodbank hopes to have a lease signed by early next month.  The goal is to then begin construction and have a new space open by the summer.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

WVTK Local & State News December 27, 2012

Winter storm warnings cover the entire listening area today.  When all is said and done by tomorrow morning, we could see as much as 10 to 15 inches of snow.  Winter storm warnings are in effect until tomorrow morning.

Police say the best advice for drivers is to stay home this afternoon if possible.  They say for those who just have to head out make sure you do so safely.  The number one rule for driving on snowy roads is to go slow.  Also, leave more room when following other cars.  If you do go off the road don't leave your car running, unless you've checked to make sure your exhaust is clear.  If your exhaust is buried in deep snow, it could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.  Police say they expect to be busy today with slide offs and crashes.

Burlington's superintendent of city schools says she's staying right where she is.  Jeanne Collins has taken herself out of the running for a school superintendent position in Addison County, saying she's now got a vote of confidence from the Burlington school board plus support from the community.  Collins recently signed a two year contract through June 2014, which is retro-active to July of this year.  Her salary had been frozen for several years.

It has been a hard year at the gas pumps, especially if those pumps are in New York state.  Gas prices have gone down approximately 20 cents per gallon since November.  According to, the average price for regular unleaded in New York is currently $3.70 per gallon, while the national average for the same gallon is $3.24.  A sampling of local gas prices throughout the North Country shows an average price of $3.76 per gallon.  Currently, only Hawaii has higher average gas prices than New York.

A woman from Bradford is due to be arraigned sometime today in Windsor District Court on a charge of second-degree murder.  51-year-old Anne-Marie Whiteway is accused of shooting to death 43-year-old Dale Rock on Christmas Day.  Police responded to a call of shots fired late Tuesday night in a Newbury apartment, and found Rock's body.  Several hours later, working on the description of a car witnesses saw driving away from the scene, police found and arrested Whiteway.  Authorities say she knew the victim and they have an idea of motive, but won't release any more information until her arraignment.

The Bristol selectboard last week disciplined Police Chief Kevin Gibbs for his handling of a grant over three years.  Last week, the board held a disciplinary hearing in executive session to discuss Gibbs’ handling of a Department of Health grant.  In public session, the selectboard voted to direct Town Administrator Bill Bryant to issue a written reprimand to Gibbs, and to require Gibbs to pay almost $7,000 in restitution to the police department by June 30 next year. 

A deal has fallen though that would have seen a new owner of the Kennedy Brothers property in Vergennes.  But all is not lost, the principals in the deal are still hoping for a lease arrangement that would establish a grocery store on ground floor. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

WVTK Local & State News December 21, 2012

Addison County Transit Resources has announced its holiday schedule for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.  On Monday, December 24th all bus routes will operate on normal schedules.  The ACTR office will be closed.  There will be no buses Christmas Day.  On Monday, December 31st bus routes will operate on normal schedules.  The ACTR office will be closed.  The on New Year’s Day no buses will run except the Snow Bowl Shuttle Bus, which will be in operation to accommodate skiers and snowboarders between 9:05 am and 4:35 pm, which is the regular winter Saturday/Sunday schedule.  For more information, please call 388-1946 or go to

This week the Middlebury Select Board adopted the proposed NFIP and FEH Regulations.  The NFIP Regulations were updated in order to correct deficiencies in the town's existing NFIP regulations as required by FEMA in order for residents to continue to be eligible for flood insurance through the federal program. The FEH regulations were adopted in order to reduce erosion hazards, with the ancillary benefit of making the Town eligible for grant funding for flood infrastructure improvements such as the Gristmill Bridge floodwall.

At this week’s Middlebury Select Board meeting the Addison County Economic Development Corporation FY14 Budget Request was discussed. The Executive Director shared the budget history and current initiatives with the Board and outlined their request for increased funding in the coming year, from $7,000 to $10,000.  Meanwhile officials with Otter Creek Child Care Center reviewed programs and the need to reach out to Towns for funding in light of inadequate subsidies and reduced grant funding for childcare. Otter Creek plans to petition the voters for $7,000 to support the center's need-based Tuition Assistance Program and its mission to provide quality, affordable early care and education to the Addison County Community.

At the Middlebury Select Board's meeting this week, Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay and department heads outlined net spending reductions of $81,837 toward the $200,000 target in the FY14 Budget. The spending reductions were spread over 27 different line items and ranged from a $70 reduction in Police service contracts to $23,000 in reduced capital improvement spending.  The Board will continue its review of the FY14 spending plan on Monday, January 7th, with the public hearing on the budget, as required by Charter, on Tuesday, January 22nd.

This week Middlebury’s Town Assessor Bill Benton prepared an estimate of growth in the Grand List for the coming fiscal year. Bill estimates that there will be an anemic 0.1% increase in the Town's Grand List, with increases in the value of real estate of about $6M offset by the reduction in the value of personal property of $5M associated with the phase out of the machinery and equipment tax. On a positive note, Bill reported that the State's Division of Property Valuation & Review has set the Town's Common Level of Assessment for the State Education Property Tax at 89.23%, up from the previous CLA of 86.8%.

The second annual Middlebury Police Toy Drive continues.  Please drop off your donated toys to the Police Station or to any Police Officer by December 23rd and Police Officers will deliver them to local children on Christmas Day. Last year, gifts were delivered to 33 children.

The Rutland Board of Aldermen met for just over five hours Wednesday before agreeing on a general fund budget of $18,666,507. Up $735,000 from last year, the budget funds civilians in the police department working on data analysis and evidence control, a position in building and zoning dealing with blighted properties and a human resources manager.  The Board of Aldermen even found a way to restore a $12,000-a-year part-time auditor the Mayor had cut from the treasurer’s office.  The City Forester however will have to get another year out of his truck. 

A misunderstanding at Poultney Elementary School had staff not taking any chances when a 23-year-old man on the school’s playground during recess refused to answer their questions and walked away.  The school secured teachers and all of the students behind locked doors and called for help from Vermont State Police.  But the incident yesterday turned out to be a misunderstanding involving a developmentally disabled young man who was waiting on the playground for his caretaker, who was in the school for a VIP luncheon for volunteers and parents.

The town of Moriah and village of Port Henry will receive $1.2 million in grant funding from the state’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative.  Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement on Wednesday.  Moriah will get $249,815 for its Bulwagga Bay shoreline stabilization project and $200,000 for a Lake Champlain non-point source pollution sub-watershed assessment and management plan.  The village of Port Henry will get $600,000 to replace some water line and sewer line and install eight new fire hydrants.  The Housing Assistance Program of Essex County, Inc. will receive $150,000 to redevelop a building at 4316 Main St. in Port Henry as a mixed-use property with retail on the first floor and two senior citizen apartments on the second.  Statewide, a total of $738 million was awarded for 725 economic development projects in every region of New York State.

The North Country SPCA is excited to announce that Martha Gallagher, also known as the Adirondack Harper, has generously offered to donate 10 percent of her CD sales from her current national tour and online from now until the end of the year! Check out her website at for more info about the benefit, as well as upcoming performance dates. Her live shows are a wonderful holiday event, and her CDs make fantastic holiday gifts! 

With many of us vowing to get active in the New Year what could be more fun than playing in the snow and learning a new sport!  January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard month. Ski Vermont makes it easy-as-pie to ski. Packages for under $50 include lessons, rentals and a beginner lift ticket.  Lessons are available non-holiday while supplies last.  For participating ski centers and to register, visit

Get set to join friends and neighbors for community music-making at the Middlebury Congregational Church, beginning at 2 PM on Sunday, for Middlebury's annual "Messiah Sing".  Hosted by the church and the Middlebury College Community Chorus, everyone is welcome to come sing choruses from Handel's "Messiah," play in the orchestra, or simply watch and listen.  This year's reading continues the tradition of featuring soloists drawn from communities throughout Vermont. A $5 individual contribution or $10 for a family is requested at the door.

Vermont State Rep. Paul Poirier is no longer running for speaker of the House. The Burlington Free Press reports the Barre independent sent an email to House members of Wednesday saying he has dropped his plans to challenge Democratic incumbent Speaker Shap Smith because he says he couldn't win.

New York officials are scrambling to negotiate the first gun control laws since the shooting incident at Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School. A deal could be enacted into law in a special session during the holiday week or an agreement could be part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's State of the State speech he's scheduled to deliver on January 9th.

A family of five is homeless after a fire gutted their Middletown Springs home Thursday.  Officials say the call came in at about 10:19 yesterday morning.  Multiple departments responded to the fire at the Blanchard home on North Street and crews were still fighting the flames well into the afternoon. The house was destroyed.  No one was home at the time, and no injuries were reported. A preliminary investigation found the fire was not suspicious. It is believed to have originated near the wood stove.

Officials say an early morning fire at a granite shed in the Vermont city of Barre was not suspicious although the cause has not yet been determined.  The fire was brought under control Thursday after firefighters from throughout central Vermont were called to the scene.  There was no immediate report of injuries from the fire in a building at Houle Granite in the north end of Barre that was reported at about 4:30 AM.  The fire destroyed about half the building.

A candlelight vigil will be held in Vermont's capital of Montpelier to remember the 26 victims of the shootings in Newtown, CT.  The vigil will take place on Friday at 4:30 PM on the Statehouse steps.  The Vermont Association for Mental Health and Addiction Recovery organized the event. It's co-sponsored by the Vermont Federation for Families for Children's Mental Health and The National Alliance for Mental Illness - Vermont.  Participants are asked to bring their own candles. Some will be provided.

While the numbers are not significant, they are still going the other way, which has some people bothered.  The Census Bureau has released a new round of statistics showing North Dakota to be growing the fastest, in terms of population.  What was startling was the fact the only two states to lose population between July 1st of last year, and July 1st of this year, was Rhode Island, and Vermont.  The number for Vermont wasn't huge, only point-zero-nine percent.  Still, it's going the other direction.  The state with the most people is California, while North Dakota has the fastest growing population of any state, at two-point-17 percent.

Vermont Gas Systems is moving ahead with plans to provide service south and west, and people living in Monkton and Hinesburg are not happy.  On Thursday, the utility filed a petition for a state permit to begin construction on underground pipelines, and people living on Monkton Road are upset about it running down and underneath the residential street.  Protestors gathered outside of the South Burlington-based Vermont Gas offices to voice their opposition, while the towns are asking the utility to find an alternative route.

New York State's unemployment rate is on the decline.  The state Department of Labor says the unemployment rate in November dipped to eight-point-three percent, down from eight-point-seven percent the previous month.  The state's private sector added over 83-thousand jobs in November.  New York State's rate is still higher than the national unemployment rate of seven-point-seven percent.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's upcoming State-of-the-State address will take place once again at a bigger venue than in years past.  Cuomo is keeping his new tradition of holding his annual speech at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center because it can accommodate more people who want to hear his plans for the future.  Governors used to give the address in the Assembly chamber before a joint session of both Legislative houses.  Cuomo's State-of-the-State address takes place January 9th. 

Police say they caught three people who likely sold hundreds of bags of heroin in the last week.  And police say it probably wasn't their first time doing it.  Police say Brian Cumberbatch, Jill Smith, and Zebulon Brinkman were busted for selling heroin this week.  "It was very big for us. I think it was probably the biggest one we've had," says Chief George Merkel, Vergennes Police Department.  Merkel says Smith and Brinkman sold heroin from homes in Middlebury and Leicester.  Merkel says Cumberbatch ran the drugs from New York City.  "He has been to Vermont a couple of times and each time he came to Vermont he'd sell anywhere from $9,000 to $11,000 worth of heroin," says Merkel.  Merkel says on this trip Cumberbatch brought 900 bags of heroin.  After a couple days in the state, police say he had about 300 bags when he was arrested.  Police say while these arrests were important, they say there's a lot more work to be done to combat the drug problem in this area.  "The drug problem is out of control," says Merkel.  Merkel says he's talking about pills and heroin.  He says to fix the problem will take hard work by police, more education, and better treatment for addicts.  "Everybody is doing the best they can but sometimes it doesn't hurt to take a step back and take a look at it and say what can we do better?" says Merkel.  The chief wants to make it clear the drug problem affects the whole state, not just Addison County.  Police say all three drug sellers are being held in jail.

The Vermont Foodbank says that looming fiscal cliff and low donations has it fearful for next year.  The Foodbank in Barre was busy with activity Thursday, but it might slow down.  Officials say they're short about $700,000 thousand dollars from their $1.2-million dollar goal.  On top of that, they're afraid a fiscal cliff could mean even more people relying on them.  That's why they're hoping people like you will step up over the next couple weeks  "It's a hard time for a lot of people and we understand that and people have been very generous and what I would ask is folks that haven't given to the food bank in the past or haven't given this year is we could really use your gift by the end of the year," said Vermont Foodbank CEO John Sayles.  If the Foodbank does not reach its goal certain programs could be in jeopardy in 2013.  For more information, click here

Thursday, December 20, 2012

WVTK Local & State News December 20, 2012

You are invited to join the Addison County Chamber Of Commerce for the December after hours mixer which will be held at the Waybury Inn tomorrow from 5 – 7PM. Joe & Tracey always treat everyone who attends very well!  As in past years, donations will be collected for a local non-profit. This year the recipients are HOPE and Helen Porter Healthcare & Rehabilitation. Please bring two (2) food items or you can pay the usual mixer admission fee, which will be donated to Helen Porter.  For more information and to RSVP to Sue just visit the Chamber’s Website.

Otter Creek Brewing Company has earned the honor to be designated as a "SHARP Company." They are only the ninth company in Vermont to receive such an award and only the fourth brewery nationwide to achieve this recognition.  SHARP, the Safety Health Achievement Recognition Program, is a national program implemented by states under the Federal OSHA. The award recognizes high-hazard businesses with exemplary safety and health management programs.  Vermont is now home to two breweries that have achieved this status, with Long Trail Brewing Co. in Bridgewater Corners having been designated a "Sharp Company" in 2010. Otter Creek will receive their SHARP flag at an open house event today.

On Monday at approximately 12:30 AM Vermont State Police troopers were advised about a family fight which took place at an apartment building on Route 22A in Shoreham. Police said that 27-year-old Jason A. Gagnon of Bomoseen, attempted to force entry into an apartment by punching and kicking the door in an attempt to come into contact with two females inside it.  Police allege Gagnon vandalized the female's vehicle.  An arrest warrant was requested for Gagnon and has not been located.

The Board of Trustees of Ilsley Public Library will have a vacancy in March for a five-year term.  The Board of Trustees has five members and sets library policies, oversees long range planning, advocates for the library, and promotes its use.  According to library director David Clark the board works with the Middlebury Select Board to provide appropriate funding.  Persons interested in serving are invited to run for the board at the March town elections.  All candidates must be registered voters in the Town of Middlebury.  A petition is required with signatures of thirty registered Middlebury voters. The petition may be obtained from the Town Clerk’s office or the library and must be submitted to the Town Clerk by January 28th.

The decision date on nominees to replace Rutland Democratic Sen. William Carris has been set.  Kathy Hall is the chairwoman of the Rutland County Democrats and says the party delegates for the county Senate district will meet at 6:30 PM January 2 in Rutland Regional Medical Center’s Leahy Center.  Delegates from Rutland County towns with the exception of Mount Holly, which was attached to Windsor County in the recent redistricting, will pick up to three names to forward to the governor.

A very key component in Ticonderoga Downtown Revitalization is now in place.  North Country Community College and Jasama LLC, an independent real estate development firm, have agreed on a deal to build dormitory/study “cluster” student housing along Montcalm Street.  This project will have an impact on both Ticonderoga and the school.  NCCC wants to expand their Ti Campus in both student body size and academic offerings.  The campus currently hosts approximately 150 students, but could double that student body if housing was available. Under the agreement, Jasama will create dormitory suites for 16 students in the upper level of what is known as the Huestis Building, next door to Sunshine Laundry, in time for the 2013 Fall Semester.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has announced that $738 million has been awarded through Round Two of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative.  The goal of the program is to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to put New Yorkers back to work and rebuild our economy.  There are 725 projects that will benefit from this funding including $1.75 million for International Paper to convert existing power plant from heating fuel to natural gas including equipment modifications for new natural gas line, or use of liquefied natural gas to support the long-term stability of this major manufacturing operation.

Essex County Manager Daniel Palmer may not be leaving his job after all.  On Tuesday, he told department heads that he was reconsidering retiring from the post he’s held since 2008.   County Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas said Palmer had filed his retirement forms with the state but never gave the county an official letter of resignation, which would have to be retracted if he stayed. 

Moriah Central School students prepared for Christmas by celebrating Polar Express Day.  Kindergarten students made gingerbread trains with family members in the morning. That afternoon they viewed “The Polar Express” in the school auditorium on a big screen with surround sound. The story has inspired many communities to actually create “Polar Express” trains that provide rides to children during the holiday season. The Saratoga-North Creek Railroad offers a “Polar Express” leaving the Saratoga Springs station.

Sen. Patrick Leahy says he will not take over as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, a spot that opened up this week with the death of Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye.  Leahy said in a statement Wednesday that he has chosen to remain as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He says staying in that position while maintaining his seniority on Appropriations "will allow me to protect both the Constitution and Vermont." Leahy has taken over as president pro tem of the Senate, a position that puts him third in the line of presidential succession.

The United States government says it's not going to seek the death penalty against a man charged with killing a woman as part of a drug deal in southern Vermont.  During a Wednesday court hearing in Rutland, federal prosecutors said they would not pursue the death penalty against 30-year-old Frank Caraballo, of Holyoke, MA.

The FBI has ruled out serial killer Israel Keyes in the disappearance of Vermont teenager Brianna Maitland in 2004.  Keyes, who committed suicide in jail on charges of killing an Alaska woman, confessed to the 2011 murders of Bill and Lorraine Currier of Essex, and as many as five unnamed victims, four in Washington state and one on the East Coast.

Police in Vermont have arrested two women on a charge of robbing a South Burlington gas station. Police allege the women told the clerk at the Jolley Mobil on Shelburne Road Tuesday night they were armed with a knife and left with cash and multiple cartons of cigarettes. No weapon was shown. Officers from South Burlington and Shelburne responded to the report of a robbery at about 11 PM Tuesday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has rejected buyouts for 33 Vermont properties damaged by Tropical Storm Irene and spring flooding last year. Irene Recovery Officer Sue Minter says the state may appeal in some of the cases. She also says the state is pulling together a team to look at alternative funding sources to help these homeowners.

The East Central Vermont Community Fiber Network recently raised $475,000 in capital from 45 different investors to help expand high-speed technology services to rural homes and small businesses.  The new investments will allow expansion of a high-speed fiber-optic network into un-served areas of Chelsea, Vershire, Thetford, Norwich, Tunbridge, Strafford, Bethel, Sharon and Woodstock.  ECFiber is extending its network in phases as funds become available.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says more than 2,100 more accounts of registered sex offenders have been purged from online gaming platforms as part of an initiative to keep them from contacting children. In April, the Attorney General's office said several big gaming companies agreed to eliminate the accounts of convicted sex offenders registered in New York, resulting in 3,500 cancellations.

The state isn't taking it very well that FEMA won't foot the entire bill for larger and stronger culverts, after losing more than two-thousand of them to Tropical Storm Irene and spring flooding last year.  That can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars for each small town, as it collectively adds up to about ten-million dollars.  The state appealed this week to FEMA headquarters in Washington, using the situation in Townshend as a test case, where Dam Road culvert washed downstream and was beyond repair.

A truck driven by a Vermonter triggered a massive chain-reaction crash on Long Island, New York.  Suffolk County police say the tractor-trailer rig driven by Raymond Simoneau of Rockingham struck several cars on the Long Island Expressway, and that quickly grew into a 35-vehicle pile-up. One woman lost her life and 33 other people hurt.  The expressway was shut down in both directions for several hours, with the eastbound lanes closed overnight.  Simoneau was not hurt and has not been charged.

Chester artist Barre Pinske was inspired by the words of President Obama to the town of Newton, Connecticut, and felt compelled to make a broken heart in tribute to the 26 people killed at Sandy Hook School last week.  Pinske carved it out of pinewood, and etched the names of the victims on the side, finishing it in red and placing it on a pedestal.  After leaving it out in front of the Chester Bank for the community to sign, he plans to take it to Newtown this morning.  Pinske says it's helping him process his own emotions so he can move on, and hopes it helps others do the same.

Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to make the DMV more customer-friendly.  Cuomo is moving forward with a proposal he hopes will end the usual thought process of the DMV being a horrific, unfriendly, time-consuming place to ever have to go.  The governor wants to see customer-service reps at DMV offices greeting motorists, along with self-serve kiosks.  The changes are aimed at slashing the average hour long wait at DMV offices in half.  Fifteen locations will implement the governor's plan this month for a test-run.

New York State tax collections through November were 163-million dollars below the state's updated estimations. The State Comptroller says the 39-point-two-billion dollars collected were also over 700-million dollars below initial estimates in April.  He says it's clear that tax collection growth is not going to meet year-end expectations amid a continued slow economic recovery.

Next summer you might see groups of people on Segways rolling around Burlington.  That's because a company, called Burlington Segways, is planning to start tours.  In Vermont, Segways are generally allowed, though towns and cities can make their own rules. Until recently, it seemed as if the City of Burlington didn't like the idea of Segway tours. If Rick Sharp gets his way, starting next spring he'll be leading Segway tours on the Burlington bike path and up through the city. "Segway tours are something that make a lot of sense at this point. There are over 200 cities in the United States that have them," says Sharp. Sharp is the co-owner of Burlington Segways and uses one because he has a hard time walking. "We want to provide access to the Burlington waterfront for disabled people. We want something that is fun," says Sharp. But not everyone is happy about Segways on the bike path. "I don't see why the next step wouldn't be say, go-carts," says Bob Herendeen, who is against the Segway tours. On Wednesday, the Burlington Parks and Recreation Department heard from people about the Segway tour plan.  Some opponents are concerned about the safety of the Segways. "They're very controllable," says Sharp. Sharp seems to have won over critics in Burlington. The parks department has proposed a one-year trial, which appears will be approved next month.

Vermont wildlife workers say an owl is lucky to be alive after crashing into the grill of a moving vehicle.  A state biologist says last week a driver hit the animal on a back road in Addison and drove eight miles to work where he called wildlife officials.  After freeing the bird wildlife leaders say they released it back into the wild.  That's something they say usually doesn't happen because a crash like that would normally kill the animal.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

WVTK Local & State News December 19, 2012

The Vermont Health Department will offer free whooping cough vaccines today, in an effort to fight what they're calling an epidemic.  The number of confirmed whooping cough or pertussis cases in Vermont this year has skyrocketed to 568. That's roughly 10 times higher than last year. The vaccines will be offered at 12 clinics across the state between 10 AM and 6 PM including the Middlebury District Office at 156 South Village Green, Suite 102 and the Rutland Office on Merchants Row.  No appointment is necessary. For questions about pertussis or the clinics you can call 211 or visit the health department's website

The Addison County Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a meeting open to both members and the public entitled “Embezzlement, Fraud & Theft: It Can (and does) Happen Here.” The meeting will be held on Monday, January 7th, from 6:00 to 7:30 PM in the Ilsley Library Community Room in Middlebury. Holden Insurance is sponsoring the meeting.  The featured speaker is Tom Hughes, a one-time banker, accountant, business manager, and small business CFO. With multiple felony convictions for fraud and deceit, he is now a disgraced ex-accountant with a story to tell. Tom will share some of the things he’s learned. Andy Mayer, president of the Addison County Chamber of Commerce, said   “We’ve recently been made aware of an embezzlement case in Addison County, so we know the problem exists—right here in our own backyard.” He goes on to say he’s sure we all think we can’t be duped and that we have all the right checks and balances in place, but hearing directly from a past embezzler might get us to re-think some of our practices.  This event is open to the public and is free of charge.  An RSVP is appreciated to Sue Hoxie ( or 388-7951 x2.

Changes proposed to a natural gas pipeline have caused concern for some in Monkton.  Vermont Gas has proposed a 42-mile project that runs through the town. It marks the beginning of the company's proposed southern expansion in Vermont and over to New York.  But residents in Monkton say the pipeline needs to be rerouted. They say the current plan is too close to homes and drinking wells. They also say it would threaten the town's plan for a salamander crossing. The town is working with the Agency of Natural Resources to find a way for the amphibians to safely cross the road.  The town is asking that the pipeline run down the utility transmission corridor owned by VELCO, like it does in some other towns.

You are invited to join the Addison County Chamber Of Commerce for the December after hours mixer which will be held at the Waybury Inn tomorrow from 5 – 7PM. Joe & Tracey always treat everyone who attends very well!  As in past years, donations will be collected for a local non-profit. This year the recipients are HOPE and Helen Porter Healthcare & Rehabilitation. Please bring two (2) food items or you can pay the usual mixer admission fee, which will be donated to Helen Porter.  For more information and to RSVP to Sue just visit the Chamber’s Website.

At the Middlebury Inn last Friday the Addison County Economic Development Corporation announced the recipients of its inaugural “Addison County Companies to Watch” awards.  The four companies to receive awards were Exclusively Vermont Wood Products, Good Point Recycling, Tata Harper Skincare, and WhistlePig Whiskey. The awards committee selected these businesses for their contribution to the county’s economic growth and for having a meaningful community impact. The Addison County Companies to Watch award plaques were designed and made by Maple Landmark Woodcraft of Middlebury and Vermont Cookie Love of North Ferrisburgh provided boxes of cookies for award recipients.

The Rutland aldermen passed each of the city’s water and sewer budgets Tuesday.  The water and sewer budgets are slated to require a 10.9 percent combined rate increase for utility users if approved despite the fact that the combined spending proposals for the city services is close to flat.  Total water expenditures come to $3,633,641 — up $675 from last year — while the sewer fund came in at $3,872,563 — an amount only $2,603 more than the current budget.

Ticonderoga High School’s Student Voice recently donated $100 to the High Peaks Hospice in response to a fundraising challenge. During November, which was National Hospice Month, The Mineville-based agency asked Essex County schools to help raise money for hospice. Six schools, including Ticonderoga, answered.  The Ti students raised the money during their annual homecoming dance. The fundraising will help fund the agency’s effort to give top quality supplies, support and services to their patients and patient families to improve quality of life. For information on hospice care, volunteering or to make a donation, visit

Unpaid boarding bills are mounting at the Essex County Fairgrounds racehorse barns.  The County Board of Supervisors Public Works Committee was told Monday that two or more tenants at the county-owned horse barns in Westport have not paid their boarding bills since August 2011.  The charges for the 17 horses involved, at $50 a month, amount to about $15,000.  Officials say that all tenants have received legal notice to pay the back rent.  It’s been suggested that the county should consider the use of the racehorse barns for storage instead of boarding.

The All Hands on Deck Food Chain, a culmination of the College for Every Student/Key Club drive, collected more than 600 items for the town of Willsboro’s Food Shelf.  Cans, boxes and other containers travelled along the chain, which stretched from Willsboro Central School’s front door around the driveway to Farrell Road, then along the sidewalk, across a field and down the stairs of the Town Hall.

Vermont officials are trying to prevent any more highway fatalities this year by urging drivers to slow down, buckle up and not drive drunk or drug-impaired this holiday season. Officials say Vermont has seen a spike in fatal crashes over last year with 75 to date, compared to 51 last year. They say 33 of the 75 who died weren't properly restrained and 45 were impaired by drugs or alcohol.

Three professors at Vermont's Lyndon State College have been honored for their contributions to the education of students. Frank Green and Dorian McGowan, both retired, have earned the Professor Emeritus of Humanities status from the Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees. Green taught future teachers studying for their education degrees, as well as teachers in the field. McGowan taught art and is an artist.

Vermont Senator Pat Leahy has been sworn in as president pro tem of the Senate. As the longest-serving Democrat now in the Senate, Leahy moves to third place in the line of presidential succession, behind Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner.

More than 180 school districts, including New York City's, have no teacher evaluation system in place and face the loss of millions of dollars in state aid. Governor Andrew Cuomo says that even though many of the state's more than 600 districts haven't yet complied, he won't extend the January 17th deadline to have plans in place. The state education department says 442 school districts have approved plans to evaluate teachers and principals as part of a program to improve instruction.

A non-partisan task force has found New York's state and local governments remain on an unsustainable fiscal path despite some improvements and a public perception in polls that the outlook is far brighter. The State Budget Crisis Task Force led by former Democratic Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker says the issue is of "dire importance."

All three members of Vermont's Congressional delegation say it's essential that Congress explore practical and meaningful steps to help prevent another mass shooting, like the one that took place in Connecticut last week.  Congressman Peter Welch said the shootings in Newtown have had a profound impact on Congress and that the killings are "a game changer" for the issue of gun control in Washington.  Welch said the discussion should include a number of issues including a ban on semi automatic assault weapons, funding for mental health services and background checks for gun shows.

Governor Andrew Cuomo gives himself high marks in his two-year progress report.  The new report says Cuomo has balanced the state budget two years in a row and has brought long-term stability to state finances.  The governor also gives himself credit for bettering New York's education system and pushing the ultimate passage of the Marriage Equality Act.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says he's excited about Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins' new leadership post.  Stewart-Cousins this week was voted Democratic Leader in the Senate by her colleagues, making her the first woman to lead a legislative conference in Albany.  Cuomo says he's known Senator Stewart-Cousins a long time and is thrilled she was chosen, calling her a "competent, able woman."

Roger Miller, a long-time member of the Vermont Environmental Board, has died at age 87.  Miller passed away on December 9th in the state of Washington where he moved after retiring from the board in 1990.  The cause of death was not released.  Miller was raised in Idaho, but moved to Vermont in 1965, living in the Burlington area and then Norwich.

Three Rutland women are bringing an idea from Westminster to the City in an attempt to create some peace amid the stress of the Season. For one night only, on Christmas Eve, Main Street Park will be lit with more than 500 luminaries. With the help of a dozen volunteers, the luminaries will be set up Christmas Eve in Main Street Park, at the corner of Route 7 and West Street from 5 PM – Midnight.

While some stores are selling more guns, one national change has decided to take some off the shelves.  Dick's Sporting Goods has pulled certain rifles from its stores, including the one in Williston.  The company released a statement Tuesday.  In it, officials say they are heartbroken over the shooting in Newtown.  Some Vermonters say they aren't sure if this will make a difference.  In the Dick's Sporting Goods store near Newtown, Connecticut they took it a step further by removing all guns from the store.

A few deep breaths and rolled up sleeves is all it took Tuesday for thousands of people to donate what many consider the best holiday gift.  "Working in the medical profession you see people get blood and you kind of want to give back and help give," said Emma Wilcox, a blood donor.  The "Gift of Life" marathon lasted eight hours and every person who showed up was well appreciated.  "The spirit of the Rutland community is so inspiring to see people coming in all day giving blood and what they are doing is helping their neighbors people they might not even know," said American Red Cross Spokeswoman, Jecoliah Ellis.     The current record is 1,968 pints of blood and people down there donating they say that giving blood is much more than breaking a record.  "It's all about the giving, the record means very little," said volunteer coordinator, Chuck Piotrowski.  Ellis agrees, "In terms of the patients and families this blood is helping, its already record breaking."  One pint of blood can save up to three lives and organizers say knowing that is what makes it all worth it.  "I mean think about that, not everyone has the opportunity to do that and the fact that this small town will do that I mean how you can you not go home happy and get a goodnights sleep knowing that you've done that."  And especially after Friday's tragic shooting in Connecticut, this blood drive is a way for people in this community to do something positive.  "Yeah you feel kind of like you want to do something and anything will help out," said Wilcox.  "All that stuff that went on down there you look at it and see something evil and you see you can do something good just come on down," said Piotrowski.  The unofficial total from Tuesday's event at the four locations was 1,951 pints. Just 17 short of the record but they will re-go through the inventory just in case.

Cyber security experts warn shoppers to be careful online because you might be a click away from a holiday nightmare.  In your cluttered inbox, could be a gift from a Grinch.  "My thing is be aware," says Duane Dunston, Champlain College cyber security instructor, Dunston says criminals think this is the perfect time of year to attack people online.    "They just don't pay attention. They're just unaware to what they're doing," says Dunston.   Dunston says the biggest problem is a bogus email that appears to be from a well-known company, maybe even one you have shopped or banked with.  "Whenever you receive an email, regardless of who it is from, if it's from your bank stating they had a problem with your transaction, call your bank or visit the website yourself. Don't click on any links you receive in email," says Dunston.  That link could mean trouble, from a virus being downloaded onto your computer to your personal information being stolen.  Dunston has simple advice if you receive an email from a company.  "Just go to site itself. Take a little extra time. It's well worth it considering what could happen to you," says Dunston.  Another concern this year is people online trying to take advantage of the Newtown tragedy.  Dunston says there have been reports already of fake charities.