Friday, March 30, 2012

WVTK Local & State News March 30, 2012

At about 5:20 yesterday afternoon Troopers from the New Haven State Police Barracks responded to a disturbance at a residence on Route 7 in the Town of New Haven involving an intoxicated male with a firearm. With the assistance from the New Haven Fire Department, Route 7 was closed between Route 17 and Town Hill Road while the scene was rendered safe and negotiations occurred to bring the individual into protective custody. Route 7 was reopened approximately 7 hours later.

Police in Rutland are asking the public for help in tracking down a fugitive, and they warn he could be armed and dangerous. Police are looking for 36-year-old Martin Nichols. He is wanted on weapons and menacing charges in New York State. Police say they believe Nichols' girlfriend lives in Rutland and they have reason to believe he is in the city. But so far he has eluded the police, so they are now turning to the public for help. Police are warning the public not to approach Nichols as he could be armed and dangerous and has a history of making threatening statements. If you have any information just contact the Rutland City Police Department.

The third concert in Brandon Music’s benefit series for the Compass Music and Arts Center will take place tonight at 7:30PM in the Brandon Congregational Church. This Chamber Music Program will feature Paul Orgel on piano, Flutist Laurel Ann Maurer, and Cello Virtuoso John Dunlop. Friday evening’s program of chamber works includes music by Prokofiev, Martinu, Villa-Lobos, and Haydn. With a varied selection of familiar and new music, this concert will appeal to a wide audience. For ticket information and to learn more about CMAC, visit www.Brandon-Music.net.

An informational meeting about the South Street & Green Mountain Place Project will be held on Thursday, April 5 at 5:00pm in the MVAA Conference Room. The Town's Project Engineer and Staff will present a summary of utility work that includes; water, sewer, electricity and telecommunications, roadwork and traffic flow. A preliminary project construction schedule will also be presented. Stay up to date by visiting the Town Of Middlebury’s Website.

The House has given its strong support to legislation that's designed to provide opportunities to strengthen the state's agricultural sector. The legislation allocates just over $2 million to help launch new businesses and to create a manufacturing and processing infrastructure to support those ventures. Backers of the bill said the legislation is needed if Vermont is going to maintain a working landscape for decades to come. Shoreham Rep. Will Stevens said the bill is a way to ensure that Vermont's agriculture industry remains a vital part of the state's overall economy. It will come up for final approval in the House today and then be considered in the Senate.

Brandon Police are seeking information about a pair of break-ins this week that resulted in the theft of thousands of dollars worth of items and money. The first break-in occurred sometime during the day on Tuesday when someone broke into a home on Marshall Phillips Road. Police said several hundred dollars were stolen along with chain saws and video games and players. On Wednesday, another home was broken into on Smalley Road where the homeowner reported that jewelry and savings bonds were stolen. Police say they believe a vehicle was used in both crimes. Anyone with information about the burglaries is asked to call Brandon police at 247-0222.

The Rutland Development Review Board has said the West Street Armory can become a print shop. The DRB voted to approve a variance for Keith’s II of Pittsford to move its screen-printing and embroidery business to the Rutland building. Daniel Keith put in a bid for the building when the state put it up for sale following the completion of the new reserve center off Post Road. Keith’s II does contract printing and embroidery for sports programs regionally and nationally. Keith said he would move 20 existing employees to the building and use the extra space to add three to five more.

The State Health Department has banned the sale of synthetic marijuana, and Essex County advocates who were leading the fight say they're relieved. The Essex County Board of Supervisors had debated passing a law banning synthetic marijuana, commonly called K2 or Spice, but decided to hold off to see what the state would do. That action came yesterday when the State Health Commissioner issued an emergency order immediately banning the sale of synthetic marijuana products in New York.

An out-of-the-area man whose canoe capsized on Lake George near Ticonderoga was rescued safely. Ticonderoga Town Police said an unidentified resident heard the man's cries for help on Black Point Road Wednesday afternoon and took a rowboat out to pull the canoeist to safety. Police said he was in the frigid water for about 20 minutes before being rescued but had been wearing a life jacket. He told police a wave capsized the canoe.

The tentative Schroon Lake Central School budget reduces hours for 10 teachers but doesn't include any layoffs and it also exceeds the district's tax-cap limit. That means the budget must be OK'd by 60 percent of those voting in the school election. The proposed 2012-13 budget includes a 3.99 percent tax-levy increase, from $5.86 million this year to $6.09 million. The total spending plan is $7.23 million compared to $7.4 million this year.

Essex County will get $65,000 from a state grant to bolster inter-county hazardous-materials response coordination. The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services made the award to Essex County and participating partners Clinton, Franklin, Washington and Warren counties will share the money. The HazMat Grant Program focuses on the development of regional partnerships to enhance hazardous-materials response capabilities.

The Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce will host OneWorkSource and the InternetXpress @ Your Library services Open House at the Chamber office on Wednesday, April 18th from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM. The Open Houses are available to employers, employees, and community members in the Ticonderoga area. The services will be provided initially once a month on the third Wednesday of the month unless otherwise advertised. For more information about the Open Houses at the Chamber Office visit www.ticonderogany.com.

Shoppers are about to get a yearlong break from the state sales tax on some clothing and footwear bought in New York. The state tax department says that as of April 1, the 4 percent tax won't be collected on items that cost less than $110, a limit raised from $55 during the past year. Most local governments will continue to collect their sales taxes.

The man who was identified only by his middle name, "Luke", and had been reported missing March 26, in West Rutland has been found. Vermont State Police said he was located yesterday and reported that Edward "Luke" Furneaux returned home during the morning hours of March 29th on his own accord.

Vermont State Police say they located Paulden Sherpa yesterday morning walking south on Route 7 in the town of South Wallingford. Police provided Sherpa a ride back to Spring Lake Ranch Treatment center where he was reported missing. Vermont State Police responded yesterday afternoon to a report of a missing person from the Spring Lake Ranch Treatment Center.

While Governor Peter Shumlin has been declining to say whether he's running for a second term this fall, he let something slip to a website, sort of. He admitted to the Capital Hill website Political he's campaigning among fellow governors to become the next chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. But, that slot only comes open after the current governor steps down, meaning Shumlin would have to still be governor in 2013. A Shumlin aide confirmed the story on Politico was accurate.

State lawmakers have approved six more years on the bench for two judges and a magistrate. The votes were an example of the state's judicial retention process, in which the legislature reviews judges' performance every six years and then votes in a joint session on whether to retain them. Some years the judges up for review draw heated debate, but this year the process was a quiet one.

Vermont townspeople say they don't know much about a woman who married an area resident and is now charged in a teacher's bizarre killing. Patricia Prue and husband Allen are accused of luring Melissa Jenkins with a story about a broken-down car and then taking her life. The Waterford Town Clerk says Allen Prue's family has had hard times but they weren't "bad news." Patricia Prue married Allen last year. Her ex-husband Jeffrey Witkoff lives in Littleton, CO. He says she recently requested a restraining order on him even though they hadn't talked in a couple of years. Patricia Prue's lawyer says he hasn't met with her yet.

Some of Melissa Jenkins' fellow teachers at St. Johnsbury Academy were handing out pink ribbons yesterday, to be worn in memory of Jenkins and support of her grieving family. Friends are calling for people across the state to honor Jenkins by wearing pink today. And a public memorial service will be held this afternoon in the Alumni Memorial Gymnasium at the high school at 4PM with as many as 1,400 people expected to attend.

President Barack Obama visits Vermont today. The president will arrive around 11:30 this morning and attend a pair of fundraising events; one at the Sheraton Hotel in South Burlington, the other at the University of Vermont. The movement of the president's motorcade from the airport to those venues will result in numerous road closures. Warning signs are up on Interstates 89 and 189 and on secondary roads around the area, advising motorists to expect 15-minute delays during the president's visit.

A top Vermont utility regulator is defending the proposed merger between the state's two biggest utilities, while skeptical lawmakers are questioning how a payback to ratepayers is being structured. Commissioner Elizabeth Miller of the Department of Public Service spoke to the Senate Economic Development Committee yesterday about the $21 million in extra payments CVPS ratepayers were ordered to make to the company a decade ago to keep it out of bankruptcy. Some consumer advocates and lawmakers say those ratepayers should be repaid in cash, but Miller's department has endorsed a plan by the utilities to put the money into heating efficiency in the CVPS territory. Lawmakers also are questioning the fact that after the merged company puts the money up, it will get it back over time.

Vermont lawmakers are planning to pay tribute to Lola Aiken, the widow of the late Sen. George Aiken, who is turning 100 this year. Today lawmakers will take up a resolution wishing Aiken a happy birthday and celebrating her long involvement in Vermont politics and civic work. Lola Aiken first became known as the chief of staff and later wife of the George Aiken, who served as governor and then U.S. senator. George Aiken died in 1984 at age 92. He retired from the Senate in 1975. Lola Aiken turns 100 in June.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

WVTK Local & State News March 29, 2012

A husband and wife are being held without bail on charges of second-degree murder in the death of Melissa Jenkins. Allen Prue and his wife Patricia, both of Waterford, are accused of luring the high school science teacher out to help them Sunday night, saying their car broke down. Police affidavits say Jenkins died from strangulation, and apparently her two-year-old son saw what happened. He was found in his mother's car alone that night. A fundraiser is being planned to help the little boy.

At Middlebury’s Select-Board meeting this week an update was presented on the Middlebury River Planning & Restoration Project. Now that an approach and a funding source have been identified, the river planning effort is moving into its second phase: public input and information. It was also noted that the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on proposed Erosion Hazard Regulations at the East Middlebury Methodist Church on Monday, April 16th at 7:00PM. Meanwhile The business development working group of five set a timeline that includes appointing members of the five member advisory board in April, with organization, public outreach-input and finalizing the job description for the Business Development Director in May, and starting the search for the Director in June. During the meeting the Board awarded the contract for the design of a grit drying bed for the wastewater treatment facility to Otter Creek Engineering. And after nearly three years of work, the Planning Commission has posted the draft Town Plan on the Town's website. The Planning Commission and the Select-Board will hold informational meetings and warned public hearings on the proposed plan later this spring.

An Award will be offered for information about graffiti on the Cross Street Bridge. With more graffiti appearing on the Cross Street Bridge in the wake of the Town having incurred a $7,000 expense to remove the first graffiti on the Bridge last fall, the Select-Board unanimously voted to offer a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the apprehension of those responsible for the vandalism. Anyone with information should contact the Middlebury Police Department.

If you see streetlights in Middlebury that are not working you can report it to the Town Manager’s Office (802-388-8100 XT 202). In order to place a work order on the streetlight, they need the location of the streetlights and any numbers that are on the fixture. The Town pays a fixed charge for the streetlight whether or not it is working.

A man who goes by his middle name "Luke", first and last name not yet released by Vermont State Police in Rutland, was last seen at 3AM on Monday, in West Rutland. The man's vehicle, a 2000 Subaru Legacy, was left at his mother’s residence where he does not reside. Both the front windshield and front passenger’s window are damaged. Both right side tires were deflated, but there was no direct evidence of an accident. Police believe that the damage was done intentionally. No further information is known at this time.

The teachers of the Rutland Southwest Supervisory Union have voted to go on strike April 4th unless their more-than-two-year contract dispute is ended with a fair settlement. The supervisory union's boards have continually stalled during negotiations, leading to teachers' working without a contract since July 2010, which is the longest such absence of a contract in Vermont. Teachers took the vote as a last resort, and hope the action shows how serious they are at reaching a settlement with the supervisory union's boards.

The teachers of Windham Northeast Supervisory Union authorized a strike for April 4th if a contract settlement isn't reached before then. Despite more than 15 months of bargaining, the supervisory union's boards have not wavered in their demands to undo four decades of collective bargaining. A bargaining session is scheduled for this evening.

All four principals in the Rutland Central Supervisory Union have had employment issues in the past month, with two principals resigning recently and now a third following suit. Superintendent Debra Taylor confirmed late Tuesday afternoon that Proctor Elementary School Principal Nancy Erickson submitted her letter of resignation and was expected to present it to the School Board on Tuesday night. The resignation is effective June 30th.

The call for a North Country slaughterhouse grew as plans to build one in Middlebury surfaced. Essex County organic-beef farmer "Sandy" Lewis shared his concept of a slaughterhouse and meat-processing plant with elected officials in recent months. He has also tested such a facility's agricultural-use status on his land with the Adirondack Park Agency. Lewis said Vermont's leadership is ahead of the game. The proposed Vermont site would expand operations of Vermont Livestock currently based in Ferrisburgh.

After hearing compelling details about the link between synthetic marijuana and violent crimes, Warren County supervisors endorsed a proposed law banning the substances. The supervisors serving on the county Legislative and Criminal Justice committees voted unanimously on Tuesday to enact a law prohibiting the sale, use, possession or distribution of synthetic marijuana and herbal incense. The proposed law is now headed or the full county Board of Supervisors at their April 20th meeting, and the board is expected to set a public hearing on the law for mid-May. The law could be in effect in late May.

Vermont Attorney William Sorrell is warning consumers of a new telephone scam. According to a press release, callers claim to be from Microsoft and state the consumer's computer has been infected with a virus and/or series of operating system errors. The caller then asks if they can access their computer remotely so they can "fix" the problem. By giving the caller access to their computer, this allows the caller to have unrestricted access to any files and Internet browsing history. It also gives the scammers opportunity to install malicious software onto the computer to capture sensitive information.

Vermont's unemployment rate has dropped below 5% for the first time in nearly three and a half years. The state Department of Labor says the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February in Vermont was 4.9%, down two-tenths of a percent from the January figure.
More than 300 subway cars will be built for New York City's mass transit system in Plattsburgh, keeping 500 jobs alive. It's part of a $600 million contract with Montreal-based Bombardier. Governor Andrew Cuomo says the deal will keep 300 workers busy and support 200 more jobs from suppliers.

The U.S. Senate is looking to reauthorize the Older Americans Act, a landmark law that supports Meals on Wheels and other programs for seniors. The Older American Act was the first initiative by the federal government to help seniors remain independent in their homes and communities. The Older Americans Act will provide basic meals, home-care, help coordinating long-term care, job training, legal services and protection from abuse and neglect in nursing homes. The Act was originally enacted in 1965.

Vermont is joining 10 other states asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an immigration law implemented by the state of Arizona. Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell and the other states claim that Arizona's immigration law requires state law enforcement officers to detain and arrest individuals who appear to be illegal immigrants.

The Montpelier artist Bo Muller Moore received word this week that a lawyer at the federal trademark office in Washington has said, in a preliminary ruling, that his Eat More Kale design is likely to cause confusion with Chik-Fil- A's Eat Mor' Chikin' slogan. If that ruling holds up, he won't be able to trademark or protect his original design. He could also have to shut down his website, eatmorekale.com, and cease and desist selling and printing his Eat More Kale shirts and stickers.

Outstanding Ticonderoga High School graduates are being sought. The Ticonderoga Alumni Association will once again honor leading graduates this July during the annual Alumni Golf Tournament weekend. Distinguished Alumni Awards are given each year to alumni who have distinguished themselves through their career success and contributions to community and society. Recipients of this award are selected by a committee from nominations submitted by the public. Nominations for the 2012 Awards will be accepted through May 25th. Any person who graduated from THS before 2002 is eligible to be nominated. Current residency in Ticonderoga is not a requirement. For more information or a nomination form, visit www.ticonderogaalumni.org

Champlain Area Trails has launched its spring travel-writing contest. CATS is coordinating a series of travel writing contests to boost the local economy through outdoors recreation based tourism. The trail group’s first travel writing contest concluded in December with first prize awarded for an article jointly written by a ninth grade student and his tutor in Westport and the People’s Choice prize to a young mother who named her baby while hiking a CATS trail. CATS wants to compile travel articles describing visits throughout the year to encourage more year-round tourism. The CATS travel contest will run through April 30th with prizes awarded on June 2nd. Entrants should submit 800 to 1,300 word articles with two to six photos. For full details visit www.champlainareatrails.com/contest.

If you're feeling lucky, you might want to buy a Mega Millions ticket ahead of Friday's drawing. It's currently the world's largest jackpot in history at $500,000,000. Mega Millions is played in 44 states, including Vermont. Also, Mega Millions had a Vermont winner in Tuesday's $250,000 drawing. The winning ticket was sold at Joe's Discount Beverage in Springfield.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

WVTK Local & State News March 28, 2012

A husband and wife were arrested this morning in the slaying of Melissa Jenkins. Allen Prue and his wife Patricia of Waterford were arrested this morning for second-degree murder. Both were held at the Northeast Correctional Center with no bail. No word yet on a motive, but police say the couple knew Jenkins and plowed her driveway a few years ago. Police now say the popular teacher at St. Johnsbury Academy was strangled to death. Police believe this was an isolated incident. Allen Prue was a snowplow driver and a sub-contracted newspaper deliveryman for the Caledonian-Record.

Hundreds of students, parents and community members gathered outside St. Johnsbury Academy yesterday to mourn the loss of Melissa Jenkins. Students silently illuminated hundreds of memory bags in Jenkins' honor. The academy plans to ease student back into the classroom Wednesday. Counselors will be on hand for grieving students.

Police have arrested two men in connection with drive-by shootings at a house and several cars in Pittsford. They say 31-year-old Zebulon Washburn and 22-year-old Alex Abraham of Pittsford are charged with reckless endangerment and unlawful mischief in the shootings, which targeted a house and cars on March 21. The home and car owners said they heard a car pass by and then shots fired. State troopers said they found two .22 caliber shell casings in front of the house and near the cars and bullet holes. No one was injured in the shootings.

Yesterday Green Mountain Power Corp. and Gaz Metro struck a deal with the state that will provide additional benefits to customers following the acquisition of Central Vermont Public Service Corp. The concessions by GMP and Gaz Metro, its parent company, will significantly enhance customer savings, investment in weatherization and efficiency funding that will create jobs, and increased public governance of the statewide transmission systems.

Teachers in two more Vermont school districts may be on the verge of going on strike. Union members in the Rutland Southwest Supervisory Union and the Windham Northeast Supervisory Union will both vote on Wednesday on what their next steps should be in trying to resolve long-running contract disputes with the districts' school boards. In both districts, teachers have been working for more than a year without contracts. Two weeks ago, teachers in the Addison-Rutland Supervisor Union decided their next step was to go on strike. That strike was averted with a last-minute deal.

The next Addison County Chamber Of Commerce Mixer is coming up on April 19th at Art on Main in Bristol. The Chamber will be helping to celebrate Art on Main’s 10th anniversary, along with the usual food, drink, door prizes and a chance to win the Pot of Gold. There was no winner of the pot in March. So, on April 19th there will be a drawing for $950. The mixer takes place from 5 – 7PM. For more information and to RSVP to Sue Hoxie just visit www.addisoncounty.com.

The Ticonderoga Area Chamber Of Commerce will hold their mixer on Wednesday April 25th from 5:30 – 7:00PM at Sugar and Spice Country Shoppe. The great networking opportunity will include door prizes from George Sperry Marine Survey, McDonald’s and Wagon Wheel Restaurant. For more information just visit www.ticonderogany.com.

Health and law enforcement officials from the state and local levels joined the Rutland Board of Aldermen in a special meeting yesterday to update the board on the status of a proposed methadone clinic. About 30 people attended the meeting in the aldermen chambers. Rutland Mental Health is considering a spot on Park Street, neighboring the Vermont Achievement Center, for the facility. Another suggestion included the former Video World building on South Main Street. The board plans to organize another meeting for public input in the near future.

Residents are concerned about a proposed wind project on the top of Grandpa's Knob and want answers from the developer. At a public meeting with town officials on Monday, residents voiced their concerns regarding the project that included the impact on property taxes in town, the blasting of the ridgeline for wind turbines and the road and it's affects on the town's wells and farms. Reunion Power has proposed a project that would install up to 20 wind turbines along the Grandpa's Knob ridgeline in West Rutland, Castleton, Hubbardton and Pittsford.
Rutland Plywood will complete a wood-fired co-generation plant with the help of a $346,000 loan from the Vermont Economic Development Corp. The loan was part of $10.4 million in financing approved for business projects around the state that was announced yesterday.

Horace Nye Staff members, community members and family members of patients stood outside the Essex County Government Center to protest the proposed privatization of the Horace Nye Home on Monday. During the Board of Supervisor’s Ways and Means Committee meeting over 30 community members presented their message to passing cars and people on Court Street. Many have concerns for family members that have no other place to go for the care they need.

A naturalist from Marlboro and a non-profit based in Dummerston are just two of the 21 nominees for this year's C-V-P-S Zetterstorm Environmental award. Patti Smith is a naturalist with Bonnyvale Environmental Education center in West Brattleboro, and is nominated as well as Landmark Trust U-S-A of Dummerston, which has rescued deteriorating properties while restoring habitat and ensuring sustainable forestry. Central Vermont Public Service will present the award in April to one of the 21 nominees, along with a cash prize of 25-hundred dollars to benefit the winner's ongoing environmental work.

Alumni of Woodstock Union High School may be the victims of embezzlement. The alumni association told police it was supposed to have about 14-thousand dollars in its bank account, but discovered only nine hundred could be accounted for during a recent change in treasurer for the association. Two officers with the group say they do not want criminal charges filed, because the family of the previous treasurer made restitution. Police say the case remains open, and it's not clear whether a request for charges had to come from an association officer or any alumni member.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife is asking Vermonters to support its non-game programs with voluntary donations through the state tax system. Since its creation in 1986, many Vermont taxpayers have contributed to the Nongame Wildlife Fund, which was created to help pay for work done by biologists who manage and enhance wildlife species that are not hunted or fished. The Nongame Wildlife Fund has helped bring back to Vermont common loons, peregrine falcons and ospreys. Donations to the fund can be made on line 29-a on the state tax form.

FairPoint Communications is teaming up with law enforcement officials to educate the public about telephone scams across northern New England that are targeting the elderly. FairPoint and law enforcement officials are releasing details today on a coordinated effort to prevent the scams. The company says con artists are preying on elderly victims by telling them they've won a lottery but need to make a payment to cash in.

A bill calling for a major reorganization of Vermont's mental health system is headed to the desk of Gov. Peter Shumlin. The House on Tuesday approved a conference committee report previously approved by the Senate that sets out a path for replacing the Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury. The bill calls for building a new psychiatric hospital of up to 25 beds, most likely in Berlin; expanded secure psychiatric units in Brattleboro and Rutland; and increasing use of less secure placements for patients deemed well served by them. Shumlin has said he supports the legislation.

An expert on Vermont's maple sugar industry says the return of seasonably chilly temperatures won't save this year's season for many sugar-makers. Tim Wilmot, maple specialist with the University of Vermont Extension Service, says last week's summer temperatures meant the end of collecting sap for most sugar-makers. He says reports he's getting indicate that most made half to two-thirds the syrup they produce in an average season.

The Vermont House has advanced legislation that hits the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant with a big tax increase. The House on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a miscellaneous tax bill that roughly doubles the property and generation taxes paid by Vermont Yankee to about $12 million per year. Backers say the new taxes make up for the fact that an agreement under which the plant paid into Vermont's Clean Energy Development Fund is ending. Money from the new payments will go to the education fund, the Clean Energy Development Fund and a new fund set up to help Windham County recovery economically if the plant shuts down.

The Vermont House has given preliminary approval to a bill that would study why the state has a much higher percentage of African-Americans in its prisons as it does in its general population. The bill calls on the Vermont Center for Justice Research to look at what factors are driving the disparity and to report back to lawmakers in December. It also calls for police departments around the state to adopt bias-free policing policies by January. The bill was advanced on an overwhelming voice vote with no debate.

The New York Legislature is poised to pass an on-time budget for a second year in the row. Several closed-door deals Monday paved the way for a compromise. Votes on the budget are expected in the Senate and Assembly today and tomorrow. Only seven spending plans in the state have been approved on time since 1975. The proposed $132 billion budget would increase spending by 2 percent.

Target may still set its sights on Williston after all. The company hasn't been in touch with the town since January, but the senior town planner says there's been no indication the big box retailer has abandoned its plans to build on Route 2 where a driving range is now, next to Maple Tree Place. The town says it's waiting for word from Target to see if it plans to apply for a zoning change in order to build here.

The Easter Bunny will visit Schroon Lake this weekend. He will be in town to assist the Schroon Lake Lions Club with its annual sale of Easter Bunnies. The bunny and sale will be at the Schroon Lake Grand Union this Saturday and Sunday. The chocolate bunnies are $4 each and are available in milk chocolate and white chocolate. The proceeds benefit the Lions Club annual scholarship fund.

Stowe Mountain Resort is using a new social media tool to help plan everything from elopements to grand scale weddings. It's called Pinterest. It's an online collection of bulletin boards for different topics; you pin pictures by interest or category. You can follow people you think are "pinteresting," but there are no privacy settings; everyone can see what you pin. Stowe has different boards for wedding color schemes, food options and even d├ęcor. You can experience the new social media platform today at Pinterest Dot Com.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

WVTK Local & State News March 27, 2012

Tonight the Town of Middlebury will hold its regularly scheduled Select Board Meeting at 7PM in the Town Offices Conference Room. Highlights on the agenda include comments from local citizens, an update on the Middlebury River Planning & Restoration Project, a report on the final meeting of Group of Five with recommendations on Tasks & Schedules going forward and the award bid for design of the Grit Drying Bed for the Wastewater Treatment Facility. Complete details can be found on the Town Of Middlebury’s Website.

Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras has called a special meeting for Tonight on a proposal for a drug treatment center in Rutland. Louras says he wants the board of alderman involved in the decision making process. Though a public meeting was held last November, Louras says this meeting is designed to allow the board to hear from state and medical officials on the status of their proposed Park Street location and for the board to air their concerns. He says though there is an immediate need, he doesn't want the decision making process to be rushed. The meeting is open to the public, but the Mayor cautions there won't be a public dialogue. He plans to schedule many public forums on the topic as plans develop further.

State Police have made an arrest in connection with last week's drive by shootings in Pittsford. Police say 31-year-old Zebulon Washburn of Pittsford was the driver during the shootings and he had two passengers. According to court documents, someone recorded a conversation with one of the passengers during which he gave information about the shooting. Records also state that same passenger was recently kicked out of a band by the Plains Road resident, whose blue car was shot at. No connection is mentioned about the two houses that were targeted. Washburn plead not guilty yesterday to charges of reckless endangerment and aiding in the commission of a felony.

The town of Monkton has selected a town flag to be dedicated on the town's 250th anniversary this summer. On Town Meeting Day, voters weighed in on their top three favorites of five designs chosen from a larger pool submitted by community members. Mount Abraham Union High School art teacher Linda Reynolds created the winning design. It depicts farm fields, mountains and ponds. Reynolds’s design was the first choice for 70 percent of the voters, and was in the top three for 89 percent of those who chose to vote. The flag was not part of the official Town Meeting Day ballot, but two-thirds of residents still weighed in. People in Monkton will be able to order their own town flag for the anniversary celebration on June 24th, and the design will also be turned into a postmark for that day.

Essex County lawmakers debated whether it had been legal to ask for new bids for the Horace Nye Nursing Home after the first offers had already been received. However the county's broker for possible sale of the Nursing Home didn't wait for final approval to seek new bids from those three firms. It instead went to the three bidders, each of whom previously bid the minimum $4 million asking price, and solicited higher purchase amounts. Although it won approval Monday from the Board of Supervisors, the county resolution to seek higher bids is still in preliminary stages and needs a final vote at the board's regular monthly meeting on April 2nd.

There have been new developments in the case of the missing St. Johnsbury woman, 33-year old Melissa Jenkins. The Vermont State Police announced they have discovered the body of a woman they believe is Melissa Jenkins. The body was found in Barnet. Police say the area where it was found had been disturbed, but they would not elaborate. Police say they will wait for an autopsy today before confirming the identity of the victim. Jenkins vanished Sunday night. Her car was found running near her St. Johnsbury home with her two-year-old sitting in the back seat. Police say there was evidence of a struggle.

A rise in crime has state police warning families in Franklin County to be high alert. Thieves are targeting homes on rural roads in broad daylight. Police say the criminals are taking a real risk targeting homes during the day that could have stay-at-home parents or kids at home, but when they find an empty house they are making off with almost everything they can carry out of the house. Police say they suspect low-level local criminals are responsible for the day time break-ins. It's important to note these types of break-ins are happening all over the state, not just in Franklin County.

A popular community recreation area in Rutland is finally back open after being severely damaged by Tropical Storm Irene. The Meadow Street facility, which houses a playground, softball fields, basketball and tennis courts, is back up and running but officials say the soccer fields are still a work in progress. The area was decimated when a nearby river overflowed its banks last August and was covered in a thick coating of mud. Many of the fields were washed away and playground equipment was damaged. The cleanup is expected to cost well over 60-thousand dollars and officials hope to see some reimbursement from FEMA.

New York's Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have quietly agreed to some of the budget bills they hope to pass this week. Three massive budget bills were submitted just before midnight Sunday so they could "age" as required over three days to allow public review before they are voted into law. The $132 billion budget is due by midnight Saturday.

Vermont Yankee is operating at reduced power due to problems with its condenser. The plant was at 94 percent power Monday and has been reducing power ever since last Wednesday when problems first appeared. The condenser has created problems at the plant before. It's scheduled to be replaced some time in 2016 at a cost of $150 million. Engineers are currently working on a short-term fix.

Leaders at the two largest medical centers in the Champlain Valley say it's time work more closely together. CVPH and its affiliate, Elizabethtown Community Hospital, want to form an affiliation with Fletcher Allen partners. CVPH could provide primary care training and experience to UVM medical residents. That could, in turn, lead to more hiring opportunities. An affiliation would also make each member part of a larger network, which would provide more resources and buying power. They expect the affiliation to clear in about nine months if all goes smoothly.

Fans of President Barack Obama are counting down to his visit to Vermont on Friday. But Preparing for a presidential visit is both an honor and a top-secret headache for local law enforcement. The South Burlington police are working with the U.S. Secret Service to ensure President Obama's visit Friday runs smoothly. Although the chief could not confirm the logistics, it's expected that the president will fly into Burlington International Airport before making his way to the Sheraton Hotel and the University of Vermont.

A Vermont judge has rejected the latest challenge to a breath analysis machine used to determine whether a driver has been under the influence of alcohol. Superior Court Judge Robert Bent of Newport ruled the DataMaster DMT machine was properly approved under Vermont Health Department regulations in 2010. The Burlington Free Press reports Bent turned down a motion to exclude the breath-alcohol tests against 18 criminal defendants in Orleans County.

Two properties covering 680 acres have been added to the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont. The stretch of the Deerfield River in Readsboro will link three previously unconnected parcels in the forest, conserve wetlands and wildlife habitat and offer new public access for recreation. It includes nearly 100 acres of wetlands, two miles of streams, and beech, birch, maple and conifer stands. There's habitat for black bear, deer, moose, turkey, beaver and migratory waterfowl.

As of yesterday there's good news for New York-bound airline passengers. Delta Airlines is adding 100 additional flights in and out of LaGuardia International Airport. That includes flights to and from Burlington. Delta is investing $100 million to expand its services at the LaGuardia. Once work is complete, the airline will have 26 gates at the airport.

Middlebury Union Middle School’s Drama Club is gearing up for the production of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, an entertaining musical based on the 1964 children’s book. The stage version of the book first appeared in the 1980s, plus two popular film versions have been released since the 1970s. The school will stage its production at the Town Hall Theater in Middlebury on Wednesday April 11th. This is a unique multidisciplinary arts venture that spans the school’s drama, music and language arts programs.

The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers and the Forest Service have officially closed all snowmobile trails after a winter of little snow and nearly a week of summer-like temperatures. VAST has posted an historic photo of a car traveling through mud on its website saying the season has ended. The Forest Service said Friday that it works together with VAST to maintain 472 miles of national forest system trails that are part of the statewide snowmobile trail system.

A Crown Point woman has written a book about her memories as a child growing up in Port Henry. Jean Arleen Breed has authored “Paper Girl — A Nostalgic Look at Port Henry During the 1950s and 1960s.” The book is expected back from the publisher in April and will then be available locally. A portion of proceeds will go the Sherman Free Library in Port Henry. She believes the book will be especially entertaining for people who lived in Port Henry during that time period.

The third concert in Brandon Music’s benefit series for the Compass Music and Arts Center will take place this Friday at 7:30PM in the Brandon Congregational Church. This Chamber Music Program will feature Paul Orgel on piano, Flutist Laurel Ann Maurer, and Cello Virtuoso John Dunlop. Friday evening’s program of chamber works includes music by Prokofiev, Martinu, Villa-Lobos, and Haydn. With a varied selection of familiar and new music, this concert will appeal to a wide audience. For ticket information and to learn more about CMAC, visit www.Brandon-Music.net.

The Central Vermont Music Festival brings classical music to the Green Mountain State every summer, but this year some of its youngest fans are getting a sneak peek. Monday afternoon the common space at the Wellspring Waldorf School in Tunbridge was filled with classical musicians sharing their craft. The concert for kids from pre-school through grade eight was put on by Peter Sanders, the creator of the Central Vermont Music Festival. At yesterday's special show they were sharing favorites including Mozart and Bach.

Monday, March 26, 2012

WVTK Local & State News March 26, 2012

Tomorrow night the Town of Middlebury will hold its regularly scheduled Select Board Meeting at 7PM in the Town Offices Conference Room. Highlights on the agenda include comments from local citizens, an update on the Middlebury River Planning & Restoration Project, a report on the final meeting of Group of Five with recommendations on Tasks & Schedules going forward and the award bid for design of the Grit Drying Bed for the Wastewater Treatment Facility. The public hearing to consider the proposed conveyance of a strip of Middlebury Town Property to Edgewood Property Holdings, LLC, for merger with its existing property on Mill Street, originally scheduled for March 27th as part of this meeting's agenda, HAS BEEN POSTPONED. Complete details can be found on the Town Of Middlebury’s Website.

The former superintendent of the Addison-Central Supervisory Union is suing the central office for firing him without a cause and breaching his contract. According to the suit, filed in federal court Tuesday by William Lee Sease’s attorney, the contract required the Supervisory Union Board to vote to not rehire him in the first year of the contract before Town Meeting Day or it would be automatically extended for another school year. The first day of Sease’s employment was July 1, 2009 and it was to end June 30, 2011. His employment was to be contractually extended until June 30, 2012 if the board didn’t act by March 2, 2010.

Vermont state police are looking for a New York man they say stole a large sum of cash from a family he was living with in Charlotte. Police say a man identifying himself as John Balsamo of Long Island arranged to live with the family and work on their horse farm in December. But the man disappeared on March 5 along with an undisclosed amount of cash. Vermont investigators they've identified the man as 47-year-old Anthony John Balsamo of Saratoga Springs and have issued a warrant charging him with grand larceny. Police say Balsamo has a lengthy criminal record. He is approximately 5'11", 220 pounds, with dark brown hair, and brown eyes.

During the past few months the Vermont State Police as well as officers from the Hinesburg and Williston Police Departments have been investigating numerous burglaries of antiquities in the area. In most cases the burglar targeted barns, second homes, and homes of recently deceased people often returning more than once. The suspect has been identified by police as Charles Pickett of North Ferrisburgh. Last Tuesday members of the Vermont State Police met with Pickett at his residence and subsequently recovered a large quantity of antiques from his residence. He was arrested for burglary and lodged at the Marble Valley Correctional Facility for violating his furlough. Pickett is scheduled to appear in Chittenden Superior Court on June 26th to answer to the charge of Burglary and Violation of Furlough.

The annual budget hearing for Crown Point Central School District, which includes the towns of Crown Point, Moriah and Ticonderoga, will be held at the district library at 7PM on Tuesday, May 8th. A copy of the proposed 2012-13 spending plan may be obtained by any taxpayer in the district during the 14 days immediately preceding the annual budget hearing will be available at the superintendent's office. Voting on the budget and School Board will take place May 13th at Crown Point Central School from Noon to 8PM.

Tony Peffer has been promoted to the position of Academic Dean of Castleton State College. He returned to Vermont as the associate academic dean and then as dean of undergraduate studies at Castleton State College in 2007. Now in his fifth year at the college, he will become the college’s new Dean of Academics following the retirement of current acting dean Joseph Mark.

Two paintings and a sculpture have disappeared from the Chaffee Art Center. Rutland City Police said Friday they are looking for information on the thefts. The thefts of the paintings took place sometime between 10:30AM and Noon March 17th. The Chaffee Executive Director said the gallery was having a children’s event at the time but was not crowded. She said the paintings were each valued in the $200 range. The Director noted this was only the most recent time that art had walked out of a Vermont gallery in recent weeks, citing incidents at Ilsley Public Library in Middlebury and Artisan’s Gallery in Waitsfield. Anyone with information on the theft at the Chaffee is asked to call police at 773-1816.

Literacy Volunteers of Essex / Franklin Counties has been awarded a grant of $1,000 from the Evergreen Fund, a component of Adirondack Community Trust. According to Director Maria Burke the grant will be used for Literacy Volunteers educational programs in Essex and Franklin Counties. Literacy Volunteers of Essex and Franklin Counties currently have about 100 students and offers free, confidential tutoring on a one-to-one basis and in small groups to anyone older than age 16.

The Ticonderoga Montcalm Street Partnership’s Enterprise Committee is at work planning StreetFest 2012. StreetFest is the annual community celebration of arts and crafts, shopping, food, fun, entertainment, and family activities to bring people to Ticonderoga’s historic Montcalm Street district. New events are being included this year. StreetFest 2012 is set to take place Saturday, July 28th from 10AM to 3PM. Vendors are still being recruited and past vendor participants are encouraged to join in this year’s festivities. Interested vendors should go to the Ticonderoga Montcalm Street Partnership website.

An investigation into bidding practices at the Essex County Clerk's Office has concluded with a finding of no criminal intent. The report released last week did hit on possible ethical violations in the bidding process for document scanning software and equipment, but said they didn't rise to the level of criminality. The case started in 2010, after the county received a request for emails related to a contract with Info Quick Solutions Inc. of Liverpool. Members of the County Board of Supervisors have also referred the case to the County Ethics Board.

St. Johnsbury and Vermont State Police are looking for 33-year-old Melissa Jenkins of St. Johnsbury who was reported missing Sunday. Police say they found her vehicle near her house with her 2-year-old daughter inside. The child was handed over to a family friend. Police believe Jenkins' disappearance is suspicious and are looking to speak with any who was traveling on Goss Hollow road in St. Johnsbury on Sunday evening between the hours of approximately 7:00 PM and 11:30 PM. Jenkins is described as a white female, approximately 5'4" tall, about 130 pounds with blonde hair and hazel eyes. Anyone with information should call the Vermont State Police in St. Johnsbury at (802)-748-3111.

The budget is now in the hands of the state Senate, after passage Friday in the House. The final vote there was 99 to 41, and it's coming under sharp criticism from the Republicans over a six-percent increase and five-billion dollars in total spending. There is also criticism for an increase in fees such as licenses and registrations. It should take a few weeks for the budget to make it through the Senate.

Police in Winooski say a man is dead after a fall from the Winooski Bridge. It happened late Friday night, with police saying they believe the victim fell some 70 feet. At this point his name has not been released, but police believe he's a 41-year-old homeless man. The investigation is continuing to determine if his death was an accident or not.

While many of the ski areas are closed for the season, that's not the case for Jay Peak. A blast of cold air is expected over the next 36 hours, and the ski area is preparing to fire up the snow guns. A spokesperson for the resort says Jay Peak has always been known for spring skiing, and sales this season are actually up nearly 35-percent, despite the recent warm weather.

Today marks the beginning of the first gay pride week at Norwich University. The school is the nation's oldest private military academy, and the gay pride week comes six months after the U.S. military ended its "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy. On Saturday, Governor Peter Shumlin is scheduled to speak prior to a university Prom. Officials are expecting many alumni to return for the dance.

A new round of funding opportunities from the Northern Border Regional Commission is available to assist in the region's development and economic recovery. U.S. Rep. Bill Owens said grants would be awarded to organizations seeking to enhance regional health care, renewable-energy sources, tourism, job training and basic infrastructure. The commission was created by Congress to spur economic development in a 36-county region throughout New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. In New York, this region includes Clinton, Essex and Franklin Counties.

Vermont's top math and science students have a chance to win college scholarships at the annual Vermont State Science and Mathematics Fair to be held at Norwich University. Organizers say 5th through 12th graders who have won local competitions will display projects that address questions in science, technology, engineering and/or math. The students will compete for more than $8,000 in cash and prizes, $13,000 in trip awards and expenses, and $900,000 in scholarships to Vermont colleges. The fair will be held this Saturday from 7:30AM – 4:00PM.

A drawing created by New Haven resident Veronica Huber was selected as a finalist in a national high school drawing competition. She is currently a senior at Rice Memorial High School. The competition was offered by the New Hampshire Art Institute in Manchester. From hundreds of entries from across the country, Huber's drawing entitled, ‘Storyboard’ was one of seven drawings chosen from the Catholic high school for show in the school’s gallery and as a finalist in the competition. She is a student in advanced drawing and painting at Rice.

The “heARTs of Rutland!” community street-art project began as an idea of local artists to bring attention to the people, places and businesses in Rutland and our region. The project was officially recognized by the Mayor Christopher Louras at a recent Board of Alderman meeting. After the Tropical Storm Irene disaster, heARTs! evolved into a community street art project to showcase how the local community comes together. The project also celebrates local residents and their pride in the region. The street-arts effort will kick off with a series of talented local artists who will paint oversized hearts that will be unveiled later this spring. The ‘hearts’ will be on display in Rutland and around the region from late spring through fall. In fall, there will be a live auction of the hearts with the profits benefitting victims of disaster in the Rutland Region and children’s art education.

The Adirondack Marathon is growing. Race officials have announced the addition of a four-person relay to the race, which already features a two-person relay and full marathon along with a half marathon. The 2012 Adirondack Marathon, half marathon and relay will be held Sunday, September 23rd. Last year nearly 1,000 runners took part in the event, which also features 5 and 10-kilometer road races in Chestertown the day before. The weekend is billed as the Adirondack Marathon Distance Festival. It also includes a children’s kilometer run, a race expo and a pasta dinner on Saturday. Registration for the 2012 Adirondack Marathon is now open online.

Some lucky towns in Vermont were bombarded by a 'Cash Mob.' Saturday, dozens of people gathered in Waitsfield to give a boost to the local retail shops. It was part of what's called a 'Cash Mob,' where people pick a town to spend at least $20 dollars at local shops. It's all an effort to give businesses an economic boost while enjoying shopping. Peggy Potter, part owner of Artisan's Gallery in Waitsfield, welcomed the mob, "It's fabulous, it's invigorating. You know it's stimulating the economy and people seem to be really excited to be here." Saturday was national Cash Mob day, so a mob also invaded Barre, VT earlier in the day. For more information on the cash mob just visit: www.cashmobvermont.org.

It's an early start to the mud season in Vermont and experts are reminding hikers to stay off the slushy and high elevation trails. Rain and snowmelt keep many of the high elevation trails soggy and if you walk on them, it can cause damage to the trails and the surrounding vegetation. The Green Mountain Club has a list of Hikes that are in the lower elevations in their website.

Here's another sign that winter is over: Whiteface Mountain ski center in the Adirondacks is closing for the season. The Olympic Regional Development Authority says the ski center is closed as of Sunday. Whiteface was a site of the 1980 Winter Olympics based in nearby Lake Placid.

Friday, March 23, 2012

WVTK Local & State News March 23, 2012

The National Weather Service in Burlington has issued a fire weather watch. The watch is in effect from this morning through this evening for low humidity and gusty winds for northern central Vermont. A fire weather watch means that critical fire weather conditions are forecast to occur. The affected area includes all of Vermont from Rutland and Windsor counties north to the Canadian border.

The next Addison County Legislative Breakfast is coming up on Monday at the American Legion in Bristol. It’s a great time to meet with your Addison County legislators. Breakfasts start at 7 and program begins at 7:30. Purchase of breakfast not required to attend but helps the hosts to defray the cost of hosting the event. For more information click HERE.

The Rutland County GOP will offer a breakfast talk on renewable energy Saturday. The panel discussion is scheduled for 8:30AM at South Station. Admission, which includes a full buffet, is $13. Subjects will include the state’s recently unveiled energy plan, the creation of alternative energy firms, the role of Smart Meters in energy policy, types of electricity generation and energy planning. For more information, or to RSVP, call Joan Cross at 683-4920.

Police say there were a series of three drive-by shootings in the town of Pittsford late Wednesday night, one on Elm Street, one in the Orchard Drive area and one on Plains Road. There were several bullet holes into cars as well as a bullet hole into one house through the garage. Police say all three incidents were similar in nature and used a similar caliber firearm. The victims told police they heard shots fired and bullets hitting their house and or car. Investigators have some leads currently but no suspects.

Authorities say a 43-year-old Vermont man lost his life in a crash on a northern New York road. New York state police say Jeffrey Demars of East Middlebury had just driven over the Lake Champlain Bridge when his car crossed into the opposite lane and collided with a pick-up truck around 8PM Wednesday in Crown Point. Troopers say Demars was thrown from the car and pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the pickup, a 37-year-old Crown Point man, was treated for minor injuries. Troopers say the cause of the accident is under investigation.

The Salisbury Free Public Library and head librarian, Jennifer Stefani recently applied for a $2,000 grant, via the Winnie Belle Learned Fund of the Vermont Public Library Foundation, to purchase 150 new picture books over the next year. Her grant application also included a request for the funds to purchase a new bookshelf to display the books. Last week, she received the good news from State Librarian Martha Reid that the Salisbury Library won the grant award for new the new books and the shelving. To celebrate the gift, the library will hold its first parent-child story time Saturday, April 7th 10:30AM! You can even stay up to date with the Library on their new, active Facebook page, “Salisbury Free Library”!

The City of Rutland is looking into a complete website redesign. Mayor Christopher Louras got permission from the Board of Aldermen to put out a request for proposals on redesigning the website. Among the many updates proposed the Mayor says the redesign should give the site a full interface with social media, so that any public officials can choose to connect his or her Facebook or Twitter accounts to it.

Days after teachers from a neighboring supervisory union successfully negotiated a contract, the teachers from the Rutland Southwest Supervisory Union protested over pay and increased health care costs. Approximately 50 teachers from Poultney, Wells, Middletown Springs and Tinmouth stood at the corner of Main Street and Route 30 in Poultney from 4 – 4:30 yesterday afternoon. The purpose of the half-hour-long informational picket was to let people know that area teachers have been in the schools for more than 85 weeks without a new contract.

Killington is looking to outside help for marketing itself. After a mild and nearly snowless ski season, town officials in Killington are considering alternative models around the country, and they're consulting a private company to boost economic development. Killington's Select Board says it has met with a representative from a strategic marketing group based in Lake Tahoe, which has experience working with communities to create destination marketing.

The Ticonderoga Central School District is asking the state education department for permission to establish an alternative high school program. The program, which would be held away from Ti High School, would be for students struggling to meet new state graduation requirements. Ticonderoga’s graduation rate was 86 percent in 2011. That’s up from 82 percent in 2010 and 79 percent in 2009. The alternative education program, which needs state approval, would allow struggling students to develop job skills by substituting internships and work-study for some academic classes. If approved by the state, the program will begin this fall and serve about 15 students.

The Vermont House has given its preliminary approval to the state budget for next year. The bill increases spending by roughly 6 percent and about half of the new spending is a response to damages caused by tropical storm Irene. Most Democrats voted for the bill and many Republicans voted against it. The legislation will come up for final consideration in the House today and it's expected that a number of amendments to trim spending will be offered at that time.

Debate is heating up among Vermont lawmakers about a payback due to utility ratepayers now that their electric company is being sold. That question is whether ratepayers who paid extra to get Central Vermont Public Service out of financial trouble a decade ago should get their money back in cash or by having the newly merged company step up energy efficiency measures. Green Mountain Power says the company is proposing to repay $21 million to ratepayers with efficiency investments that will return $40 million in value to those ratepayers over time while AARP says the money should be returned to CVPS ratepayers in cash.

Dozens of protesters were arrested in Brattleboro for trespassing on the property of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in a demonstration against the continued operation of the reactor. Seven also have been arrested for entering the headquarters of the plant's owner, Entergy Corporation, in New Orleans. Thursday marked the first day of the plant's operation after its initial 40-year operating license expired a day earlier.

Despite protests, it's likely the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant will continue to operate at least in the short term and possibly for another 20 years. Last fall, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission granted the plant a license extension. And a judge ruled that only the federal government could close a nuclear plant for safety concerns. The state is now appealing that ruling. Cheryl Hanna, a professor at the Vermont Law School, says the case may ultimately end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. Vermont Yankee is also seeking a permit from the state Public Service Board. Yankee opponents see that process as another avenue for shutting the plant down.

Governor Peter Shumlin says he supports the peaceful protesters who gathered at the headquarters of the Vermont Yankee plant to express their frustrations that the aging reactor remains open. More than 1,000 people marched to the plant's Brattleboro headquarters yesterday. Activists say 130 were arrested.

Homeowners are being asked to be on the lookout for burglars posing as UPS workers. They have been breaking into homes in Vermont and New Hampshire. Police tell the Caledonian Record that dozens of homeowners in both states have being called by someone pretending to be a UPS representative. The person says he has a delivery and then asks when someone will be home. The residence is later burglarized when the homeowners are away.

Ski season is almost over in Vermont after getting off to a slow start. Six Vermont ski areas are already closed for the season. Several more will follow this weekend. And even some of the big resorts plan to close on April 1. After a mild winter with few big storms, the record warm weather this week was too much for the man-made snow that resorts relied on all season. Stowe will definitely be open through this weekend. It has not set a closing date. Other resorts will close at the end of the day Sunday, including Okemo and Bolton.

The unseasonably warm weather means it's time to bring in the bird feeders. The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department says calls are coming in reporting bears out and about, and getting into the feeders as they come out of hibernation. The high-energy seed becomes a concentrated source of food for bears, and gets them in the habit of coming back for more. Wildlife experts say the feeders should come down now, and not go back up until December.

A search was under way in the North Country Thursday for two missing people. Police say 23-year-old Angela Roberts and 41-year-old Carl Burns are both from Tupper Lake. They do not live together. Both were reported missing Wednesday and investigators are worried for their safety. Police say they were last seen early Wednesday morning. Burns is described as 6'3", 225 pounds, with red hair and brown eyes. Roberts is described as 5'2", 130 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. Police are also looking for a gun and a white Jeep that were stolen from another property in Tupper Lake. The Jeep has New York license plates BLU1497. Anyone who sees either of the missing people or the stolen vehicle is asked to call New York State Police in Ray Brook at 518-897-2000.

A team of New York Sate agency administrators is headed to meetings statewide to help small businesses grow. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is announcing the small business outreach initiative and has set several dates for meetings. The state officials will be from the areas of economic development, labor, taxation and worker's compensation. Agencies that license business such as liquor stores will also sent representatives. They will answer questions and help entrepreneurs navigate New York's regulatory system. Local chambers of commerce will also attend. Information is available at www.NYOpenforSmallBusiness.com.

Fort Ticonderoga recently received a grant from the South Lake Champlain Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation supporting the first conference on Lake George and Lake Champlain, which the fort will host on August 11th and 12th. The grant will help launch the new conference exploring the history, geography, culture, ecology and current issues related to the Lake George and Lake Champlain region. You can learn more about the conference by downloading a conference brochure from the Fort Ticonderoga website at www.fort-ticonderoga.org.

Roman Catholic churches in the Rutland Deanery will host a “Welcome Home Mass” this weekend in anticipation of a spring series of religious talks. Rutland area Catholics are being encouraged to invite family members and friends to Masses at participating parishes this Saturday and Sunday. The Masses come a month before the start of a “Want to Learn More About Your Catholic Faith?” series of talks the Rev. James Dodson will present Sundays at 4PM at Christ the King Church in Rutland.

With the unusually warm weather, lots of fishermen can't wait for trout season to begin. And for the first time in years, many will find their favorite ponds and streams swimming with fish, just in time for the start of the season next weekend. The mild weather has given the fish hatchery in Essex County, New York, a 2-week jump on stocking. 700 Brown Trout were released into the Schroon River yesterday. The hatchery plans to stock 50,000 Brown, Rainbow, and Brook trout this year in 70 ponds and streams throughout the county.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

WVTK Local & State News March 22, 2012

A drive-by shooter has some Pittsford residents on edge. Shortly before 11 last night someone fired several shots into a house on Orchard Drive. At least one person was in the home but was not injured. And shortly after one this morning, another shooting took place, this time on Elm Street. Police say three vehicles were shot. They believe all of the shootings are connected but have yet to identify a suspect.

There has been a fatal crash in Crown Point less than a quarter of a mile from the new Champlain Bridge. A Jeep Wrangler and pickup truck collided on Bridge Road. The driver of the Jeep was not wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from the vehicle. The driver of the truck was taken to the hospital. Police say both are from Vermont. That part of Bridge road was closed for hours and cars rerouted through the state park. Police say alcohol appears to be a factor in the wreck.

In a matter of 12 hours negotiating teams for school boards in the Addison-Rutland Supervisory Union and teachers in four towns went back and forth throughout the night in an effort to agree on a contract for the next few years. At 5:30AM Wednesday a multiyear deal was reached. The tentative agreement still has to be ratified by school boards in Castleton, Fair Haven, Benson and Orwell but it is likened to a done deal. Details of the deal that includes base pay, raises and health benefits for the next few years under the new contract, were not made available Wednesday. The overnight deal was rare. The last time school boards and teachers agreed on a settlement one day before a strike was in 2009 in Winooski. That deal was made at 4AM.

A panel made up of business, political and local leaders grilled both Green Mountain Power and Central Vermont Public Service CEO'S for hours Wednesday in Montpelier. It's a line of questioning that is expected to last for several days as they try to decide whether to allow a merger between the two companies. If they do allow the merger to happen GMP says they plan to close the deal shortly thereafter.

The Rutland County GOP will offer a breakfast talk on renewable energy Saturday. The panel discussion is scheduled for 8:30AM at South Station. Admission, which includes a full buffet, is $13. Subjects will include the state’s recently unveiled energy plan, the creation of alternative energy firms, the role of Smart Meters in energy policy, types of electricity generation and energy planning. For more information, or to RSVP, call Joan Cross at 683-4920.

The next Addison County Legislative Breakfast is coming up on Monday at the American Legion in Bristol. It’s a great time to meet with your Addison County legislators. Breakfasts start at 7 and program begins at 7:30. Purchase of breakfast not required to attend but helps the hosts to defray the cost of hosting the event. For more information click HERE!

The warm spring is letting farmers spread manure on their fields earlier than usual. The Agency of Agriculture usually requires farmers to wait until April 1st. The concern is that manure spread onto snow-covered fields can wash into waterways when the snow melts. But the unusually warm and dry weather has changed that this year. Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross says lifting the ban early will help farmers manage their manure resources and is in the best interest of Vermont waterways.

Several business owners met recently in Port Henry to discuss funding possibilities for the renovation of downtown buildings. Presenter Sharon Reynolds, who is the executive director of PRIDE of Ticonderoga, shared information and materials on the New York Main Street Program administered through the state Office of Community Renewal. If awarded the grant will fund both interior and exterior renovations and owners will contribute 50 percent of the construction costs.

Ticonderoga needs to make a better first impression. That’s the feeling of the Ticonderoga Montcalm Street Partnership. Some feel that Ticonderoga fails to present itself as a welcoming and historic town due to several shortcomings in the signage. The TMSP design committee is developing plans to improve signage as town entrances, but those plans are on hold while determining whether the vendor signs are necessary. The TMSP committee asked the town board whether law requires the signs or if they could be moved. Once officials get more answers to the legal questions it will move forward with developing a more friendly entrance to Ticonderoga.

Fort Ticonderoga and Amtrak will partner to connect people traveling between New York City and Montreal to the local historic site. Amtrak will offer one free companion rail fare with the purchase of one regular adult rail fare, on the state-supported Adirondack line to and from Fort Ticonderoga April 1st through Oct. 31st. Customers need to purchase tickets a minimum of three days in advance and enter discount code V430. Fort Ticonderoga executive director Beth Hill says “The partnership with Amtrak will enable Fort Ticonderoga to reach a broader destination market from New York City to Montreal.”

Starbucks Coffee Co. said Wednesday it will make Starbucks-branded coffee packs for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc.'s new line of Keurig Vue single-cup coffee brewing machines. Starbucks already makes single-serve packs for Green Mountain's other Keurig brewers. But investors had questioned if the relationship would continue when Starbucks announced this month that it would make its own single-cup brewers. The new deal offers a big-name partnership that could boost Vue's sales. The announcement came ahead of Seattle-based Starbucks' annual meeting. Green Mountain stock rose $5.52, or 10.9 percent, to $56.22 by early afternoon.

Lawmakers have endorsed two bills that backers believe will help improve the quality of education in Vermont. One bill affects the role of the commissioner of Education, and the other expands public school choice. The House considered the issue of education leadership, and by a margin of 114 to 17, it passed legislation that will give a Governor more input into the discussion of education issues. Meanwhile, the Senate has given its approval to a bill that expands public school choice throughout the state. Currently, families can elect to send their children to any public school on a regional basis. The bill expands that option to any public school in Vermont.

Groups critical of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant are observing the facility's 40th birthday by renewing their calls for the plant to be shut down. Vermont Yankee's initial 40-year license expired yesterday. It has won approval from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to operate an additional 20 years. The state Public Service Board has yet to rule on the plant's future, but it's expected the Vernon reactor will continue operating in the meantime.

The Vermont House is preparing to consider a $5 billion budget that spends about $124 million on recovery from Tropical Storm Irene. The spending plan for fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1st, represents a 6.4% increase over the current year. But House Speaker Shap Smith says it won't require raising broad-based taxes like those on income and sales.

Vermont's mild winter means there's more money for road repair this spring. Governor Peter Shumlin and legislators have announced an additional $5 million that's available to level and repair damaged sections of road. The extra money means a total of about 123 miles of road will be leveled.

A Vermont Electric Cooperative worker has died in an accident while working on a power line in Essex. The name of the worker has not been released. Essex Police Detective Lt. George Murtie told the Burlington Free Press that the man fell onto electrical wires and was killed Wednesday afternoon. The utility said the work being done was considered to be routine maintenance. The accident happened on Sawmill Road near the Essex-Jericho border.

New Hampshire lawmakers have rejected a bill that would have made their state the first to repeal a gay marriage law through legislation, a move opposed by the governor. The Republican-controlled House voted 211-116 on Wednesday to kill the bill that would have repealed the 2-year-old law and restored a law that allowed civil unions in 2008 and 2009.

The Vermont Symphony Orchestra’s “Harp and Soul” harp and flute duo will present performances at schools in Leicester and Lincoln next Tuesday. The VSO’s traveling ensembles visit all corners of the state as part of an outreach program known as “Musicians-in-the-Schools.” These lively performances are met with overwhelming enthusiasm, as the musical ambassadors spread the word that classical music can be fun! Flutist Anne Janson and harpist Heidi Soons make up the dynamic SymphonyKids duo Harp and Soul. In their fresh and engaging program, they explain how the harp and flute work and sound, including some of their special effects. Harp and Soul will perform at the Leicester Central School at 10:30AM and at the Lincoln Community School at 1:30PM.

Tony Award-winning Best Musical of 2005, “Monty Python's Spamalot”, will visit historic downtown Rutland for two performances, 4PM and 8PM, Sunday, April 1st, at the Paramount Theatre. The original cast recording of Monty Python’s Spamalot won the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album. Telling the legendary tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and their quest for the Holy Grail, Monty Python's Spamalot features a chorus line of dancing divas and knights, flatulent Frenchmen, killer rabbits and one legless knight. Visit www.paramountvt.org for tickets and details!

As summer-like temperatures warm Vermont, there's another sign of the season rattling some cages around the state. It's pothole time, and this year the state is already over its normal budget when it comes to filling the holes and gouges caused by winter. The state usually spends one-point-44 million on repairs, but so far this year more than one-point-77 million has already been spent. One V-Trans manager says it's a combination of costs going up, from patching material to labor costs.

NASA is again rescheduling the launch of 5 rockets from Virginia due to bad weather. The rockets are part of a study of the jet stream. The launch had been set for today at NASA's space center on Wallops Island but has now been pushed back to early Friday. Bad weather has postponed the launch several times. The Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX) will help scientists understand the jet stream, which is located 60 to 65 miles above Earth's surface. The rockets will release a chemical tracer to form white clouds that allow scientists and the public to visualize the winds. Residents from South Carolina to southern New Hampshire and Vermont might be able to see the clouds for up to 20 minutes.

The Catamount Trail Association has recently signed on The North Face as the title sponsor for the 5th Annual Race To The Top Of Vermont on August 26th. The 40 year-old company based in California, is well known for delivering an extensive line of performance apparel, equipment, and footwear. The North Face 5th Annual Race To The Top Of Vermont will once again bring together some of the top runners and mountain bikers in the country to the Stowe Mountain Resort to race up the famed 4.3 mile Toll Road on Mount Mansfield, the state’s highest mountain. The event will also include the non-competitive hike and the 1st Annual Catamount Cubs Run For Fun. For more information about The North Face Race To The Top Of Vermont, go to www.catamounttrail.org or call 802-864-5794.

If you've always thought more cowbell is a good thing then an event next month aims to please. Phish drummer John Fishman will lead the world's largest cowbell ensemble on Saturday April 14th and you can join in. The idea is to raise money for victims of Irene. And celebrate the 15th anniversary of Ben and Jerry's Phish food ice cream at the same time. Tickets to the event cost 25 dollars and include a cowbell and t-shirt. There is an after party at Nectars for a 50-dollar donation. Get more info right now by clicking HERE!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

WVTK Local & State News March 21, 2012

It's a regular day of classes for students and teachers in Fair Haven, Castleton, Benson and Orwell. The Rutland Herald is reporting a deal was reached at about five-thirty this morning between teachers and the Addison-Rutland Supervisory Union, preventing a strike today. Talks were held throughout the night at Fair Haven Union High School, overseen by a federal mediator. Details of the new contract will be announced today.

The National Weather Service is urging boaters enticed by record high temperatures to beware of the dangers of cold water. Even though the weather has been warm, the water remains dangerously cold so canoeists or kayakers drawn to the water need to remember to be careful. Immersion in cold water can become life threatening in a matter of minutes. The Weather Service says it would be best if boaters waited until the water is warmer, but for those who choose to canoe or kayak, they should wear a dry suit.

On March 8, 2012 at approximately 6PM, Vermont State Police were notified of a burglary that took place off of Route 7 in Ferrisburgh. The residents stated that several items were stolen from the residence. Some of the missing items include pieces of jewelry, silverware, binoculars and a digital camera. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the New Haven State Police Barracks. (802-388-4919)

Vermont Gas Systems wants to extend its natural gas pipeline another 50 miles south to begin serving customers in Vergennes and Middlebury. In a series of informational meetings, the company tells Addison County residents that the $57 million project has environmental and economic benefits. Middlebury Town Planner Fred Dunnington says there's been a lot of interest in the project from businesses and homeowners. But there are concerns about how natural gas is produced. One resident noted that the process of hydro-fracking is controversial and isn't allowed in Vermont. One more public meeting will be held on the project tonight at 7 at the New Haven Town Hall.

The Rutland Board of Aldermen signed off on the sale of the Watkins building Monday. The city will sell the former school building to the Housing Trust of Rutland County for $100,000. The money will go into the school district's capital fund and the building will be converted to senior housing.

Rutland City’s Tropical Storm Irene Relief Fund is taking applications. Applications are available from the city treasurer’s office and must be returned there by April 30th. Grants from the fund are available to Rutland property owners and renters with flood losses. The city has roughly $16,000 in the fund. The fund was created with money raised at the country club and passed to the city via Restoring Rutland along with a cash donation from Rutland’s Japanese sister-city.

Difficult decisions the past few years are expected to pay dividends in the 2012-13 Crown Point Central School budget. Preliminary budget figures call for a 1 percent increase in spending and a tax increase of less than 2 percent, although officials aren’t ready to give specific numbers. The current Crown Point school budget is $6,135,162. The current tax levy is $1,489,000. School officials are awaiting the adoption of a state budget, which could affect its preliminary spending plan. The board will adopt the budget either at its April 4th or April 17th meeting. Voters in the district will decide on the budget May 15th.

Essex County is holding off on a $500,000 sprinkler system for its Horace Nye Nursing Home. The work must be done by August 2013 or the home will no longer be eligible for Medicare and Medicaid payments, according to a federal requirement. The bid was more than twice the $220,000 the county had estimated for the sprinkler system. If the facility isn't sold, or the sprinklers are not installed, the county is still under an order to install fireproof ceiling tiles.

The Vermont House has given preliminary approval to a bill that would outlaw people younger than 18 using commercial tanning beds. Owners of establishments with tanning beds caught allowing people younger than 18 to use them would face a civil fine of $100 on a first offense and $500 on second and later offenses. The bill is expected to come up for final action today before moving to the Senate.

The state House has given preliminary approval to a bill that would expand the time many people picked up for drunken driving would have devices installed in their cars requiring a breath test to start the vehicle. It also expands the types of drunken driving offenders eligible to use the devices.

The Vermont House has given preliminary approval to legislation calling on the state to get 75% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2032. Rep. Margaret Cheney, vice chairwoman of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, tells her House colleagues the legislation is key to Vermont doing its part to slow climate change. Business lobbyists have expressed concern about the measure, saying it's likely to drive up the cost of power and make Vermont companies less competitive. In introducing the bill on Tuesday, Cheney told the House that the bill seeks to balance that concern against the need to get Vermont off of fossil fuels in energy production.

Voters in Wilmington and Whitingham Ok'd a school merger plan. In Wilmington the measure passed by just 15 votes. In Whitingham it passed by 41 votes. The plan calls for three schools to become two closing the Twin Valley High School building and consolidating students at the middle school in Whitingham and the Deerfield Valley Elementary in Wilmington.

A Vermont produce company is expanding its meat business. Springfield-based Black River Produce has purchased a former Ben and Jerry's ice cream plant in the North Springfield Industrial Park and is planning to set up a meat processing facility. The Claremont Eagle Times reports Springfield officials say the produce company bought the vacant building from the town for $125,000.

Burlington International Airport is working to make flying more efficient and safe with their new Advanced Imaging Technology or AIT system. About 150 airports in the U.S. already have this technology, which costs $150,000 per machine. Burlington has two. But this isn't the controversial body scanner that was in the news last year. The process is simple. You just stand still for five seconds with your hands up while the system takes a digital image. And if you don't feel comfortable with this, you can opt out for the traditional pat down.

According to a group of environmental non-profits today is Vermont Energy Independence Day, a time for people to ask what energy independence means to them. A group of filmmakers wants the answer to that question on film. A company called Bright Blue EcoMedia wants Vermonters to record themselves and submit their videos, some of which will appear in a documentary about energy independence. For more information just visit brightbluemedia.org.

The preliminary results of Senator Bill Doyle's Town Meeting Survey reveal a dramatic difference between how Vermonters feel about the future of the state, and the future of the country. By roughly a two to one margin, people say they're optimistic about the future of Vermont but these results change completely when people are asked if they're optimistic about the future of the country. Only a third of the responses had a positive answer to the national question. The survey also finds very strong support for a 4-year term for governor in Vermont. An expansion of Vermont's Bottle Deposit law to include virtually all-plastic water and juice containers also drew some strong support. The survey also showed strong support for legislation that would ban the use of any type of cell phone by someone operating a motor vehicle.

Students enrolled in Addison County’s Taekwondo KICKS Schools from two of the martial art arts centers located in Middlebury and Vergennes earned medals recently. They participated in the Vermont Governor’s Cup Competition in Milton. On Saturday 70 students tested and were promoted to their new ranks. It also helped to further prepare a few students for their Black Belt testing scheduled for June. Taekwondo Do KICKS will host an upcoming community demonstration at the Bridport Elementary School. The date will be announced soon.

A special presentation of the History of Maple Sugaring coinciding with Maple Open House Weekend will take place at the New England Maple Museum in Pittsford this Saturday & Sunday from 10AM – 4PM both days. It’s a great way to start or finish your tour of local Vermont Sugarhouses. The tasting counter is open to all and features Vermont specialty foods and maple syrup. This long weekend the museum offers discounts on admissions and 25% off selected gifts.

A 39-year-old Hanover, MA plumber has won the $1,000-a-day-for-life lottery prize. Massachusetts State Lottery officials say Bruce Campbell picked numbers 1, 2, 6, 10, 19, and 15 to net the first grand prize in the new Lucky for Life game. The first drawing for the game, played in all six states in New England, was March 8th in Hartford, CT.

When it comes to making a living, Vermont is near the bottom according to a new list compiled by Money-Rates-dot-com. For the second year in a row, the website has come out with its Best and Worst States to Make a Living, and this year Vermont is ranked 48th. The list has an adjusted average income based on the cost of living, taxes and unemployment. It came up with an adjusted average income in Vermont of 30-thousand 433 dollars. Only Maine and Hawaii fared worse, while Virginia was ranked at the top of the list with 43-thousand 677 dollars.

With memories of a flood from 85 years ago still in his mind, Tony Pomerleau made good on a promise and donated one million dollars to the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund. The fund is used to help Vermonters who lost their homes last August to flooding from Tropical Storm Irene. The Burlington real estate developer is 94, and received a heartfelt "thank you" from lawmakers, state officials, and flood victims who packed the Statehouse Tuesday. The goal of the fund is to raise ten million by the one year anniversary of the storm.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

WVTK Local & State News March 20, 2012

There is a good chance that Lyme Disease may be a big problem in Vermont this spring and summer. According to Tom Scanlon, the Town of Middlebury's deputy health officer with the exceptionally warm weather ticks are out actively searching for hosts and there is the potential for a large increase in the Disease this year. A disease ecologist has indicated the Northeast should prepare for a surge in Lyme disease this spring. A bumper crop of acorns in 2010 caused mouse populations to soar in 2011. With more mice came more ticks. Acorns were scarce last fall, meaning fewer mice this spring and a lot of hungry ticks. The highest disease risk is through July.

June Sargent, the principal of Proctor Jr./Sr. High School has resigned but she would not explain her reason for doing so. Sargent’s resignation is effective at the end of this school year, June 30th. Sargent said she wouldn’t comment on why she decided to leave the school and neither would Proctor School Board Chairman Lloyd Hughes. She is currently weighing options for principal at a school here in Addison County.

Teachers and administrators in the Addison-Rutland Supervisory Union are gearing up for a strike. Unless there's a contract agreement reached by Wednesday, that's the day teachers in Fair Haven, Benson, Castleton and Orwell hit the picket line. The union representing the teachers says the last contract expired June 30th, and negotiations are stalled because the school board decided to freeze salaries. Administrators say the school board has teachers on standby ready to come in if the strike happens.

Meanwhile Teachers in Castleton, Fair Haven, Benson and Orwell have opened a “strike headquarters” at 65 Main Street in Fair Haven in preparation for a strike tomorrow if an agreement isn’t reached.

Middlebury College Senior Katelyn Romanov was awarded the title of America’s Next Eco-Star, surpassing nominees from more than 100 schools in the nationwide youth energy competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Over 10,000 voters and a panel of experts in the Eco-Star contest selected her. She was awarded $1,000 to put towards Middlebury’s sustainability programs and a summer fellowship in SmartPower’s Washington, D.C. Office. Romanov is a founding member of Sprout, Middlebury College’s student group dedicated to promoting environmental education in local schools. She was also part of the college’s Solar Decathlon team.

Arson was the cause of a structure and brush fire on Patch St. in Proctor Sunday night. The home, under foreclosure and owned by BAC Inc was intentionally set on fire. The damage was estimated to be about $2,500 according to investigators. Anyone with any information regarding this fire can call Vermont State Police in Rutland at 773-9101 or the Vermont Arson Tip Award Program at 1-800-32-ARSON.

Ticonderoga Central School District employees have agreed to a pay freeze. The district’s teaching, administrative and non-instructional staff has all agreed to forego salary increases during the 2012-13 academic year to help close a budget gap. Ticonderoga was facing a nearly $2 million spending deficit for next school year, according to Superintendent John McDonald. The pay freeze along with $900,000 in other cuts has closed the budget cap to about $315,000. With the pay freeze there will be no budget-related staff cuts.

The Essex County Sheriff’s Department is getting some help from local students. The automotive tech class at Champlain Valley Education Services in Mineville is restoring a Humvee for the police agency. The 1987 Humvee is available to the Essex County Sheriff’s Department through an Army surplus program. The Humvee came from Fort Drum and can be used by the sheriff’s office as long as it’s needed. The sheriff’s department will pay for all the materials associated with the project. The students will provide free labor.

The pending plan to inspect boats for invasive species and decontaminate them if necessary moved ahead this week, as Lake George Park Commission members unveiled how they’d likely certify and seal clean boats and discussed their efforts to line up funding and boost public education. Members of the Park Commission’s Invasive Species Committee showed representatives of environmental groups a wire and plastic seal that would bind a boat to a trailer, certifying that it was inspected and clean of invasive species. Boats coming out of Lake George could receive such a seal, and if left unbroken, boats could be reintroduced to the lake without re-inspection.

Farmers whose fields were flooded by Irene have been given the green light to plant this spring. Vermont Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross says there is no need to test soil for contaminants because the flooding happened more than 60 days ago. He said the FDA does not have any requirements that call for farmers to wait before using their fields, and there is no evidence of any contamination.

A federal judge has handed another victory to the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant that is resisting the state's efforts to close the reactor. Judge J. Garvan Murtha issued an order in January blocking the state from closing the Vernon reactor. Since then, there had been speculation the state still might prevail by preventing more storage of highly radioactive nuclear waste at the plant after its initial license expires this Wednesday. Yesterday, Murtha issued a follow-up order saying the state can't try to enforce a closure of the plant over the waste issue. He issued an injunction against that happening until appeals are heard and ruled on by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.

A new license term for the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is expected to be greeted this week with big protests. Anti-nuclear activists say hundreds are expected for an event at midday Thursday in which protesters will march from the town common in Brattleboro to the local corporate offices of Vermont Yankee owner Entergy Corporation.

Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell says he's looking forward to highlighting his record in a primary campaign for the nomination to seek re-election in November. Sorrell made the comments yesterday after Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan announced he would challenge Sorrell in the Democratic primary in August.

Vermont State Police are still investigating active leads in the case of a Sheldon teenager who disappeared eight years ago yesterday. It was the anniversary of the disappearance of 17-year-old Brianna Maitland, who was last when she got off work at the Black Lantern Inn in Montgomery. The next day her car was found about a mile away near an abandoned barn. Police believe she was a victim of foul play.

According to the State Integrity Investigation study on government accountability and integrity, Vermont, New York, and New Hampshire received a grade of "D". The State Integrity Investigation website says they provide material to help journalists and bloggers shine light on their government's openness, accountability, and corruption risk. Not a single state received an A. States receiving the highest grades were New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington. Wyoming, South Dakota and Georgia ranked the lowest in the report.

The Vermont Labor Department helped teachers and the Bennington School District resolve a dispute. Teachers said they were owed back pay, claiming they never saw an increase after a new contract was reached. Health insurance was another sticking point. The district was requiring teachers contribute more money earlier in the year rather than the same amount out of every paycheck. The labor department says teachers have received what they're owed and that health care contributions will remain constant moving forward.

Senator Bernie Sanders says health care for Vermont military veterans is going to be getting better. Currently about 8,600 veterans receive care from the state's five community clinics in Colchester, Brattleboro, Rutland, Newport and Bennington. Sanders says the Rutland clinic will soon be moving to a new, larger location. And the Colchester facility is going to either expand or move to a larger space.

The state argues that groups suing over problems in its Adult Protective Services Division don't have the legal standing to do so, and the suit should be dismissed. But Vermont Legal Aid Lawyer Barbara Prine told a judge the division set up to investigate abuse and financial exploitation of vulnerable adults is dysfunctional and a "wholesale failure."

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a historic bill into law that will bring a lot of new business to the states DNA databank. Starting October 1, anyone convicted of a crime must submit a DNA sample. This law will make New York the first state to collect DNA samples from every offender. California takes DNA from anyone arrested on a felony charge and from people jailed on misdemeanor convictions if they have a prior felony.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York's Legislature are planning a flurry of negotiations to adopt a budget earlier than the April 1 deadline. They've already agreed on most of the budget. Cuomo and the Senate Republican and Assembly's Democratic majorities agreed to 4% increases in school aid and health care a year ago. That was a deal to soften reaction to the cuts in the current budget that expires March 31. The governor can impose his budget in emergency spending bills if there's no agreement before the deadline.

A Vermont town devastated by Tropical Storm Irene got some good news yesterday. A historic Wilmington, Vermont restaurant has decided to rebuild. The damage to Dot's Restaurant does not look much different seven months later than it did right after the storm. Like many business owners, Patty Reagan and her husband John were left with a tough decision, to rebuild a historic structure that dates back to 1832, or to tear it down. At a celebration yesterday attended by Governor Peter Shumlin, the couple announced plans to rebuild. It is a plan that comes with a cost of $800,000.

Record warmth may mean a record ice-out on Joe's Pond in West Danville. Slush and puddles already surround the cinder block. Tickets for the contest will be on sale through April 1st, but with unseasonable temperatures in the foreseeable future, all indications are the block will not last that long. The earliest the ice ever went out on Joe's Pond was on April 5 two years ago.

Despite the warm temperatures, this weekend is Vermont's Maple Open House weekend. Vermont is the largest producer of maple syrup in the United States, and there are about 2,000 producers in the state. The event aims to give people an opportunity to visit the sugarhouses and see how the famous Vermont product is made. Though activities vary depending on the producer, they range from sampling syrup to watching the syrup get made -- as long as the weather cooperates. The Open House is on Saturday and Sunday. For a list of sugaring houses participating, click HERE.

The James Beard awards are the Oscars of the food industry. The nominations were announced yesterday and Eric Warnstedt of Hen of the Wood in Waterbury is up for a Best Chef in the Northeast award. And Eating Well magazine in Charlotte is up for 3 awards for its recipes and articles again this year. The magazine won three last year.