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.