Friday, December 14, 2012

WVTK Local & State News December 14, 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.  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

Addison County Transit Resources has announced the kick-off of the Snow Bowl Shuttle Bus winter schedule.  Saturday, December 22nd the Saturday/Sunday winter schedule begins, and then Monday, December 24th the Monday through Friday winter schedule begins.  Monthly passes for January and/or February are available for purchase for the Snow Bowl Shuttle in addition to the regular 10-ride passes.  For more information, please call 388-1946 or go to    

New Haven’s Winterfest Celebration is coming up on Saturday. The festivities begin with tasty treats and hot drinks at the Congregational Church at 5:30 PM.  At 6 PM the Memorial Tree Lighting will take place.  Your are invited to decorate the tree, warm your hands by the fire barrels, sing carols and roast marshmallows and chestnuts while we wait for Santa to arrive at the bandstand.  Enjoy a horse drawn ride around the Town Green while you wait to talk with Santa!  At 7 that evening you can head back over at the Church for the magical sounds of hand bell ringing and caroling with the choir.  Hot cocoa, coffee, eggnog, cider and yummy desserts are to follow downstairs in the Church.  For more info, please contact Suzy at  This is a Free Community Event.

A winter clothing swap in Ticonderoga is now a give-away.  The Ticonderoga Revitalization Alliance’s “Jacket & Coat Swap with Santa” at the end of last week generated so much winter clothing, it will be continued as a free service.  People can get free clothing tomorrow the 15th and Saturday, December 22nd from Noon to 3 PM at the Downtown Gallery on Montcalm Street.  Organizers send special thanks to the Ticonderoga community for your generous donations during this past weekend’s swap. 

Vergennes Cub Scout Pack 539 will hold a special collection for the Addison County Food Shelf on Saturday from 9 AM to Noon at Gaines Insurance Agency on Monkton Road in Vergennes.  The food shelf is need of donations of toiletries for the holiday season.  You are being asked to donate any of the following items: soap, shampoo, toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, disposable razors, shaving cream, tissues, and more.  These items are needed for many of our local families who depend upon the local Food Shelf for assistance.  The Cub Scouts will be in front of the Gaines office collecting the items on Saturday the 15th.

Get set to join friends and neighbors for community music-making at the Middlebury Congregational Church, beginning at 2 PM on Sunday, December 23rd, 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.

Work to save the Bulwagga Bay shoreline will be completed in 2013.  The town-owned beach and campsite on Lake Champlain is being damaged by Lake Champlain erosion. Without action the public beach and 175-site campground will be lost. According to the Adirondack Park Agency the shoreline has moved back 25 to 40 feet since 1995. Preliminary engineering has been completed for the project and the town will soon seek bids for the final engineering plans.  The Bulwagga Bay erosion project is expected to cost $300-500,000.

The Adirondack Park Agency approved 14 permits yesterday for the new Essex County emergency communication system.  Most of the permits are for upgrades to tall telecommunication towers.  The public-safety radio system was planned and pieced together over the past two years as a series of infrastructure improvements, primarily with updates to existing towers.  They hope to have the entire system operational by fall 2013.

Essex County Treasurer Michael Diskin has warned county lawmakers they could be approaching a fiscal cliff next year at budget time.  Diskin said he and Essex County Department of Social Services Commissioner John O'Neill recently held an emergency meeting with 18 of the county’s 25 department heads and it appears there will be a hole of at least $8 million going into budget time next year.  On Monday the county passed a 2013 budget with a 1.1 percent tax levy increase, meeting the state tax-cap formula for the county but using $6.8 million of the county's $8.5 million reserve and $2.8 million in FEMA payments to balance a $108 million budget.

Earlier this week the Clarendon Select Board agreed that the town must pursue a long-term plan for municipal operations that could include moving out of Town Hall.  The board met Monday with members of a committee charged with exploring all options for renovating the existing building, relocating to another site or even constructing a new building.  The municipal offices would require costly renovations and would still be burdened by limited parking. The board agreed to pursue pressing maintenance issues in the short term and consider options for a reserve fund to offset future long-range costs at a future meeting.

Mount. St Joseph Academy in Rutland is kicking off its annual campaign Project Help on December 20th and 21st.   The annual holiday campaign provides baskets for some families in need this season in the Rutland region.  MSJ students and volunteers will collect food and monetary donations from area residents during the first day of the campaign. The eighth grade class from Christ the King School will join them. On Friday the 21st the students will deliver the gift baskets to local families. In addition to food items, each basket will contain gifts for children, donated by the parishioners of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Rutland.

Rutland City Police are preparing to work more closely with federal law enforcement agencies to take illegal guns and drugs off city streets.  Since the start of the year, federal agencies like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Drug Enforcement Administration have worked with city police and the Vermont State Police Drug Task Force.  Starting next month, city Patrolman Justin Souza will work with federal law enforcement even more closely. Many of the details of his assignment are still being worked out.

Vermont communities and businesses are receiving $1.1 million in flood recovery grants.  The awards will assist the village and town of Waterbury repair a damaged sewage pump station and plan for the development of a multi-use recreation trail connecting the downtown to Little River State Park.  Also, the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation and Springfield Regional Development Corporation have partnered to use $1 million for grants and loans targeted to businesses still struggling to pay for damages or losses in southern Windsor and Windham counties.

A Vermont covered bridge that's being rebuilt following Tropical Storm Irene is expected to reopen by the end of the month. The bridge in Quechee was destroyed by the storm in August 2011.  The Valley News reports construction began in late summer, and officials originally hoped to have the bridge functional by now. But an abutment required more work than expected, which contributed to the increased construction time and increased costs.

The Department of Marketing and Tourism reported Wednesday that Vermont tourism is on the rebound.  Commissioner Megan Smith presented new information on state tourism at the Okemo Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting in Ludlow. According to new data the tourism market recovered much better than other sectors of the economy and the national tourism industry.  Smith said visitor spending in Vermont increased nearly 20 percent since 2009. In 2009, visitors spent an estimated $1.4 billion in the state. In 2011, the figure jumped to $1.7 billion.

A cold dining experience was intentional, but all for a good cause.  Diners ate out in the cold, on tables and chairs set up Thursday outside on Church Street in Burlington as a fundraiser for the Committee on Temporary Shelter.  A handful of restaurants provided the food with supporters for COTS making 20-dollar donations.  COTS serves about two-thousand people in every year in Burlington, and a spokesperson says they've seen an increase in the number of people needing their help.

A hiker had some help coming down Mount Hunger Wednesday night.  That's because the 22-year-old hiker fell near the summit of the mountain, suffering a painful shoulder injury.  That, combined with an icy trail, slowed down the hikers until it was too dark to carry on.  Rescue teams helped bring the injured hiker down who was then taken by ambulance to Central Vermont Hospital. 

Another group is on board with the coalition government devised by the GOP and the IDC in the state Senate.  The New York State Troopers PBA has released a statement, saying the organization is "optimistic" a bipartisan leadership government in the chamber will make the Senate stronger.  The group points out that both Republican Senate leader Dean Skelos and IDC chief Senator Jeffrey Klein have both historically supported policies "that benefit not only New York State Troopers, but the public at large."

Governor Andrew Cuomo continues to enjoy record high approval ratings.  A new Quinnipiac University poll finds Cuomo's approval rating at 74 percent.  The governor himself believes his approval rating is based on his handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

The New York State Comptroller is encouraging New Yorkers to consider investing in their children's college education this holiday season.  He's suggesting New Yorkers open or contribute to an existing 529 College Savings plan and take advantage of the tax write-off at the end of the year.  The plan sponsored by the State of New York features a broad array of investment options, including three age-based investment options that automatically rebalance the assets in the portfolio to become more conservative as the child approaches college age. 

Education advocates in New York State have come out with recommendations to protect preschool special education programs. The groups Advocates for Children of New York and the Alliance for Quality Education want the state to vigorously audit programs and improve financing procedures. The preschool special education program serves 3- to 5-year-olds with developmental delays or other disabilities.

Continuing coverage on Vermont's debate into giving migrant workers licenses.  Now that Governor Peter Shumlin has come out and support it, groups pushing for legislation hope that's the key to get it passed.  Lawmakers took testimony on the issue Thursday in Montpelier.  Shumlin has vowed to pass it when the session resumes next month.  It's a promise that some migrant workers are hopeful about.  "Definitely very excited. Really, really excited. Again like my colleague said, really excited to hear that Governor Shumlin is for human rights, this is a human rights issue," said Migrant Justice spokes person Natalia Fajardo.  More than 1,500 migrant workers want Vermont driver's licenses.  They say they're necessary to get food and in case of a medical emergency.

The Vermont Department of Health says free vaccines for Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, will be available on Wednesday.  You can get the vaccine known as Tdap at any of the 12 health department locations across the state.  The announcement comes after a rise in cases across the state.  While it's been many years since anyone in Vermont has died from it there have been more than 500 cases 2012.  "More and more cases are being reported daily to the health department in every county. The majority of cases are school aged children from eleven to fourteen," Vermont Health Commissioner said.  Officials say it is easily spread by adults so they're encouraging people 19 and older to get the free vaccine.  To find the Department of Health District Office closest to you click here.