Thursday, January 31, 2013

WVTK Local & State News January 31, 2013

The Westport Town Council will hold a special meeting at 4 PM today to discuss personnel matters.  All meetings are open to the public.

Valentine's Day is coming and if you LOVE animals, the Homeward Bound Animal Welfare Center's "Have-A-Heart...Give-A-Heart" fundraiser is a chance to show it!  Now through Valentines Day, all across Addison County, you can purchase a bright pink heart to show your support for animals!  Whether it's one dollar or a million dollars, every donation matters!  If you make a donation, you can proudly display your heart to show YOU made a difference.  You can pick up your heart at the WVTK studios in Middlebury, or for other locations, or information, please call 388-1100, or visit the shelter on Boardman Street in Middlebury!

The finalized Town Of Middlebury FY14 budget of $8,951,760 with $6,360,945 to be raised by taxes will be included on the Warning for consideration by the Town's registered voters on the floor of Town Meeting on Monday, March 5th.  The Select Board thanked residents this week for their input and Department Heads and staff for their work to meet the Board's challenge on the FY14 budget. The Board finalized the Warning for Town Meeting on March 4th and 5th, which includes customary articles on accepting the reports of the Town Officers, approval of the budget, a request for borrowing for vehicles and equipment and setting tax due dates. Absentee ballots will be available on February 13th for items on the Warning voted by Australian ballot. The deadline for voter registration for Town Meeting is Wednesday, February 27th.  The FY14 budget proposal and the Warning for Town Meeting are available on the Town's website.

The Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce is constantly working to improve their community calendar of events in order to become the central calendar for the area. The Chamber is looking for area businesses, organizations, and committees to share their event information as well as a schedule of upcoming special events.  While individual events are encouraged to be submitted to the community calendar, organizations can also submit their yearly schedule of events.  The Chamber is also happy to announce that their 2013 Save The Date of Events is now available.  For additional information regarding the Community Calendar of Events or the Save The Date of Events visit, email, visit the Chamber’s Facebook page or call 518-585-6619.

A new youth program is providing teen-agers with fresh opportunities while saving Ticonderoga money.  The town has entered in to an agreement with the Silver Bay YMCA of provide an after-school program for students in grades 6-12 at the Armory on Champlain Avenue.  The program, supported by private donations, is free to students. Silver Bay is renting space at the Armory for $1,500 a month. 

A yearlong narcotics investigation by the Essex County Drug Task Force resulted in the arrest of the five Essex County residents and one Clinton County resident relative to their involvement in the illicit drug trade in Essex County. Additional arrests are pending in connection with this investigation. Arraignments will be held at a later date and will be released by Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague.  The Essex County Drug Task Force consists of members of the Essex County District Attorney’s Office, the New York State Police, the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, the Ticonderoga Police Department, and the Lake Placid Police Department.

It’s back to the bargaining table for Essex County and its union workers after the CSEA defeated a new contract offer by a better than 2-to-1 margin.  The proposed three-year contract for the local chapter of the Civil Service Employees Association union went down, 205 to 87, in Tuesday’s voting.  That means they will schedule more negotiating sessions, County Attorney Daniel Manning III said, to make another attempt. The last contract was a four-year pact that expired at the end of 2012.

Snow or no snow the 11th annual Rutland Winter Fest runs from 11 AM to 2 PM Saturday at Giorgetti Park. Snowshoeing may not happen, but there will still be a curling clinic, an obstacle course and a story walk. New this year is broomball. Giorgetti Arena will open from 2 to 4:15 p.m. Participating in three activities at Winter Fest earns free admission for skating at the rink. 

Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras, city officials, local artists, sponsors, committee members and friends gathered downtown last week to dedicate a special heARTS heart to the City of Rutland.  A giant plastic heart sculpture features work from all of the artists who were involved in painting the original 30 hearts seen around Rutland. The heart represents the heARTs of Rutland project, which celebrates Rutland-area pride.

Vandals damaged panels on a solar power array with rocks at the south end of Cleveland Avenue in Rutland on Wednesday.  The five Green Mountain Power owned solar panels were cracked by rocks that investigators believe were tossed from an elevated railroad trestle nearby.  There were no witnesses to the incident. According to Steve Costello, vice president of generation and energy innovation for GMP, the $1,600 worth of damage to the panels was minor considering the expensive electrical components that harvest solar from more than 100 panels located in the fenced-in area. The panels will be repaired and returned to operation today.

Vermont State Police are looking for thieves who ripped 300 feet of copper tubing out of a home on Tower Road in Proctor.  Police were called to a house at 53 Tower Road this week by the homeowner, who said the theft that required considerable work was carried out sometime between January 20th and Monday. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call VSP at the Rutland Barracks. (802-773-9101)

The Hinesburg Winter Festival and Winter Waffle Breakfast and Silent Auction will take place along Route 116, Saturday, February 9th.  This year’s waffle breakfast organizers will mark the event’s 15th birthday.  The festival events are all downtown and at the Hinesburg Community School. The kick-off breakfast and auction will be held at the Community School from 8 – 11AM. This year’s event includes inside activities for children, crafts, face painting, an open gym and visits from Clifford the Big Red Dog and Monty the Moose from Vermont Children's Hospital.  The festivities of the Hinesburg Winter Carnival include ice-skating, broomball, hockey, relay races, a snowman-building contest and sliding.  All proceeds benefit the Hinesburg Nursery School, a non-profit parent cooperative preschool. Adults are $6, children age’s two to 12 pay only $4, and toddlers under 24 months are admitted free.

Despite news of financial problems and possible suspension of Saturday mail service, the U.S. Postal Service is accepting online job applications only in Vermont and elsewhere in New England.  According to Tom Rizzo, who is the corporate communications officer of the USPS Northern New England District, new online job applications for city carrier assistant positions at post offices in Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire are being accepted. It is a new position negotiated with the letter carrier union in their most recent contract. 

Senator Patrick Leahy says closing loopholes in the background check system for gun purchasers won't threaten firearms owners' Second Amendment rights to own a gun and is a matter of common sense. As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Democrat was overseeing yesterday’s hearing on curbing guns.

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife says there's going to be a special snow geese hunting season this spring. Vermont officials say the state's season is being adopted at the recommendation of federal and state wildlife scientists in response to concerns about a growing number of snow geese across North America.

The Vermont Teddy Bear Company is touting what it claims as the world's most expensive teddy bear, just in time for Valentine's Day.  The Shelburne-based company has put a $30,000 price tag on the 4½-foot-tall bear it is calling The Big Hunka Love Diamond Bear.  That's because the bulk of the price is the 5.9-carat, 1-of-a-kind "fire rose" diamond ring made by Perrywinkle's Fine Jewelry in Burlington.  The Big Hunka Love bear also comes with a red velvet bowtie.  Vermont Teddy Bear says the Big Hunka Love bear is the most expensive teddy bear the company has ever sold.

Lawmakers in Vermont are taking up legislation dealing with the hot topic of gun control.  After one bill in the Senate was withdrawn, an Essex Representative has a different proposal, limiting the size of removable ammunition clips to ten rounds.  It also institutes a state-version of the federal restrictions barring convicts carrying guns and requires background checks in all gun transactions.  The primary sponsor, Representative Linda Waite-Simpson is especially determined to pass the convict-carry ban.

The New Moretown Landfill is doing what it can to stay open, and to fix an odor problem, which is leading many to find ways to shut it down.  There are only two landfills in Vermont, and the Moretown owners have just five weeks to fix it or getting closed for good.  The plant is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, such as fixing wells designed to suck in and burn methane, as well as stopped taking in sludge from out of state sources.  Another effort is installing new cell caps, estimated to cost one-point-four million dollars.  The Agency of Natural Resources says all this work would have to be done whether the landfill stays open or closed.

Two bread companies based in Vermont are merging, combing a staff of nearly 250 workers.  Koffee Kup Bakery, based in Burlington, has purchased the Vermont Bread Company in Brattleboro for three-and-a-half-million dollars.  The "Rutland Herald" says the purchase was made with the help of loans from the Vermont Economic Development Authority and People's United Bank.

Lawmakers in Montpelier have a lot of big issues to grapple with right now, and one of those bills is the hot topic of what should be Vermont's official vegetable.  Senators Anthony Pollina, Bill Doyle and David Zuckerman are sponsoring a bill to make the state vegetable kale.  It's packed with nutrients and is considered trendy.  No word on how lawmakers will be lining up on this issue.

Former New York Governor George Pataki isn't ruling out a return to politics.  Speaking to "City and State," the ex-Republican governor says he's happy with his life now, but wants "to get more involved in trying to offer solutions" to the problems facing the state and the country.  Pataki says current lawmakers need to develop more bipartisan plans on how to improve the nation.

New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli remains undecided regarding support for Governor Cuomo's pension smoothing plan.  The pair have a contentious relationship despite both being Democrats, and Cuomo took a stab at DiNapoli earlier this week saying the pension smoothing wouldn't be necessary if the state's retirement fund was doing better.  DiNapoli shot back Wednesday, saying the fund outperforms other state's retirement funds.  DiNapoli has the power to veto Cuomo's plan.

The New York State Thruway Authority is planning 234 layoffs to help shore up its finances, but no toll increases are planned. A Thruway spokesman says the layoffs of full-time workers will be in all regions, including the Albany headquarters. The authority employs more than 29,000 workers. The layoffs are expected to save $20 million.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's popularity has plummeted among Republicans, Democrats and independents after he pushed tougher gun control measures into law after the Connecticut school massacre. The Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday shows the Democrat dropped from his all-time high approval rating of 74% in December to 59% now.

Guesses come from around the world.  Every year, thousands of people weigh in and guess the date and time that Joe's Pond in west Danville, Vermont will thaw.  Tickets cost a dollar each.  The winner gets to keep a portion of the profit. In past years, that's been close to $5,000.  Right now, the ice thickness is between 12 and 15 inches.  "There's a cylinder on a pallet on the pond, which is attached to a clock at a cottage and when that ice moves, it pulls the clock off and that's when they call it the ice out," Garey Larrabee said.  Last year, the cylinder finally dropped on April 8th at 5:25 pm, the year before, April 27th and in 2010, April 5th. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WVTK Local & State News January 30, 2013

The Middlebury Winter Term Students will make a presentation of a proposed conservation plan to the Middlebury Planning Commission at 7 this evening in the Ilsley Public Library Community Meeting Room.  For details on weekly meetings just visit the Town’s Website.

Most Rutland County voters will have to make at least one decision on local officers at the polls in March. Brandon has three candidates seeking two seats on the Select Board. The town also has a contest for first constable, with incumbent Gigi Corsones facing challenger Gerry McGraw. In Pittsford, Cathy Rider has challenged Selectman Alan Hitchcock for his two-year seat on the board. Proctor voters will choose between candidates vying for spots on the town’s Select Board and School Board this year. And West Rutland has a crowded School Board Ballot. 

Shoreham’s Friends of the Platt Memorial library will host a Benefit Concert and Maple Dessert Contest on Saturday, February 9th from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. Musical entertainment will be provided by Matthew Dickerson, Susan Nop, Kathleen Smith, and Dutton Smith otherwise known as the Addison County folk group Zephyr.  The local Americana music quartet brings together influences of folk, bluegrass, blues, gospel, country and the singer-songwriter tradition.  A maple dessert contest and tasting will be held in conjunction with the concert. Local cooks are invited to submit their favorite maple dessert, which must be made with Vermont maple syrup, to share with the public. The event will be held at the library on Main St in Shoreham. For more information contact the library: 897-2647, or via e-mail at or contact Judy Stevens at 802-897-7031, or Kathleen Hescock at 802-897-7484, or via e-mail at

The Rutland County Humane Society will benefit from an upcoming variety show.  Red Dog Solutions is hosting "For the Love of Dogs", a canine variety show to benefit the RCHS. Dogs will dance to music, performing tricks and great feats of agility and intelligence. It will be held on Saturday, February 23rd at 1 PM at the Diamond Run Mall next to Old Navy. Tickets are $10, which is a donation to benefit RCHS. Children will be admitted free.  For more information contact Red Dog Solutions at 802-558-0512.

The Vergennes area Meals on Wheels is looking for drivers to deliver hot, nourishing meals and a smile to your elder neighbors, allowing them to remain in their homes and independent.  You can volunteer once a week, every other week, or as a substitute, whatever works for your schedule. Currently, CVAA need drivers Friday for the Bristol area and Wednesday and Thursday's in Vergennes. If you'd like to find out more, please contact Lisa Townsend at CVAA at 1-800-642-5119 or email

A hearing to weigh the evidence to hold accused murderer Alex Spanos in jail without the option of bail has been canceled.  Spanos pleaded innocent last week to a charge of second-degree murder in a case involving the death of 17-year-old Rutland High School student Carly Ferro.  Because Spanos is facing a potential lifetime jail sentence, prosecutors asked that he be held in jail without the option of bail until his trial.  However the hearing scheduled to take place yesterday was canceled by Spanos’ defense attorney who withdrew the request for a hearing on Monday.

The town of Killington started the fiscal year with a deficit and is projecting a surplus at the end. In March residents will vote on a budget that won’t raise the tax rate.  The board unanimously ratified a proposed budget of $5,093,080, an increase of only 5 percent, compared to the 2012 budget.  This figure includes the general fund, recovery expenses for Hurricane Irene and undesignated funds.  When looking at the current grand list, this proposal will not raise the current residential tax rate of 28.5 cents per $100 of assessed value.

A lawsuit filed by two Crown Point Board of Assessment Review members, whose appointments were rescinded by the new supervisor, has been decided in the town’s favor.  Acting State Supreme Court Justice Richard Meyer ruled that Glenn Russell and Ronald Clarke didn’t take their oaths of office for the Town Board of Assessment Review within the required 30 days of being appointed, so their posts were legally vacant.  The Town Council had named Joseph Duval and Douglas Woods to take their places, and those appointments will now stand.

Essex County lawmakers debated Monday whether the county could afford to fill a vacant public-defender slot.  Assistant Public Defender Robert Seymour took a job elsewhere as a judicial law clerk, leaving the $59,160-a-year position open.  The debate about whether to hire someone to replace Seymour took a large chunk of Monday’s County Board of Supervisors Ways and Means session. Hiring a new assistant public defender passed, 17 to 1.  The hiring gets a final vote at the board’s regular meeting at 10 AM Thursday, February 7th.

New York Sen. Betty Little has been reappointed chair of the Senate Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee for the 2013-14 legislative session, a position she has held the past two years.  Little has also been appointed other committees that include Consumer Protection; Crime Victims, Crime and Correction; Education; Environmental Conservation; Finance; and Judiciary.

Former Vermont Governor Madeleine Kunin is telling lawmakers she supports legislation that would allow physicians to help terminally ill patients end their own lives. She testified yesterday before the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, which is also holding a public hearing on a proposal that would allow terminally ill patients to request lethal doses of drugs.

Vermont game wardens say the biggest buck shot in the state in more than 20 years was shot a day after the close of the November rifle hunting season. Wardens say they received a tip that Jim Smith, of Stamford, was seen removing the 10-point buck from the woods on November 26th. Smith was charged with taking deer in closed season.

A Shelburne man has pleaded not guilty to one count of animal cruelty after three horses were seized from his home.  Sixty-3-year-old George Wilson, a former newsman at WCAX-TV in South Burlington, says authorities overreacted and he plans to contest the charge.  A stallion and two mares are being cared for at Spring Hill Horse Rescue in Clarendon after officials said the horses were found in small, dark stalls.

Vermont State Police have released the name of the woman who died after her car skidded across a snow-covered southern Vermont road and crashed into a large SUV before catching on fire.  State police say 20-year-old Tressa McKinney of Windham lost her life Monday afternoon in the town of Jamaica.  A preliminary investigation shows that McKinney's car was traveling southbound on Route 30 when she lost control and the vehicle skidded across the road. It crashed into a northbound SUV driven by 48-year-old Gavin Scotti of Connecticut.  The investigation continues. 

Lawmakers in Montpelier are tackling the topic of doctor-assisted suicide.  Supporters call it death with dignity, and it's already legal in two states.  On Tuesday, Senate health and welfare committee members hammered out the details of just what will go up for a vote.  It requires the patient to be an adult, must have been given a prognosis of less than six months to live and must prove the patient does not have a mental disorder.  And this year, unlike last year when a similar bill came up, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard Sears say he will not block it from coming to a vote.

The Vermont Works For Women organization is celebrating its silver anniversary by not only celebrating its success, but also highlighting what still remains to be done.  In its first year, it helped about 30 women learn to become carpenters, plumbers, electricians and construction workers.  Now, the trades group serves about 900 women each year, creating livable wage jobs for women.  Besides the trades once considered for men only, Vermont Works For Women also now includes information technology and food services, along with teaching some basic life skills.

The board president of the Vermont Veterans Home went before a House committee Tuesday, asking for an additional two million dollars in its funding from the state.  Both the president and home administrator are proposing a budget of 20-million, saying while most of the funding comes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and other insurance programs, the additional state funds are needed to cover rising expenses.  But, lawmakers also made it clear to them the state is facing fiscal challenges as well.

A truck driver found out Tuesday a rig standing 13-and-a-half feet high will not fit underneath a train trestle which is about 18-inches shorter.  The driver tried that on Route 14 going underneath the trestle near Vesper Road in Royalton, and became wedged underneath.  The highway was shut down for about six hours while a towing company worked to get the big rig out.  One Amtrak train was delayed while the tracks were inspected for damage.  The truck and trailer had extensive roof damage, but the driver was not hurt.

Both houses of the state Legislature are weighing in with analyses of Governor Cuomo's latest budget proposal.  Not surprisingly, the Senate's report is more critical of the 142-billion dollar plan, saying Cuomo's proposal would "fund new spending rather than provide further broad based taxpayer relief to stimulate job growth."  The Democratic-controlled Assembly's report is more supportive of the Cuomo plan.

Governor Cuomo is expecting his approval numbers to dip a bit.  Cuomo says he won't be surprised to see his job approval-rating tumble after pushing through his controversial gun policy package.  The governor feels some of the opposition to his new gun policies are likely to ultimately go away.

The New York State Teacher's Retirement System is taking a wait-and-see approach regarding Governor Cuomo's pension proposal.  The 88-billion dollar teacher's pension fund is increasing costs about 40 percent during the next school year on employers.  If schools take part in Cuomo's plan, the increases would be limited in the near future, but would be higher in later years when costs are currently predicted to go down.

New York's Senate Republicans are slamming Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposal to expand abortion rights. Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos says the proposal is just wrong. Skelos calls Cuomo's proposal an extreme measure from the radical left. Under a power-sharing deal, Skelos could block the measure from a vote.

New York State health officials are proposing a new requirement that would force hospitals to set new protocols to screen and treat sepsis. The rules include calling for antibiotics within an hour of diagnosis. They also propose requiring hospitals to clearly communicate test results to parents before children with sepsis are discharged.

Federal agriculture officials say New York's strawberry crop took a hit last year, but blueberry production was up. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says strawberry production dropped to 3.2 million pounds, down 11% from 2011. Many farms reported shortened seasons because of a snap of cold weather that generally hit early crops around the state.

In Montpelier lawmakers are working to tighten the laws about equal pay for equal work.  Advocates for new legislation include attorney general Bill Sorrell.  Sorrell says state contractors must allow inspection to ensure that there is no discrimination against women who work the same jobs as men.  And the new bill would give all employees the right to ask for flexible workplace arrangements to balance their family life  “the legislation makes very clear that there may be no retaliation against any employee who makes such an inquiry.  The bill also calls for the study of paid family leave funded by employee payroll deductions. Two states already have those systems in place.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, New York was the first state to sign tough new gun laws.  Yesterday, leaders toured the Lake Placid area to explain the changes.  Assault weapons, high capacity magazines - they were all banned in New York just a month after the tragedy, and because the new laws passed so quickly, many people have questions. By April 15th of 2014, all assault weapons must be registered with the New York State Police, for the first time you're caught with an unregistered weapon, it'll be a warning, but consequences will come with the second.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

WVTK Local & State News January 29, 2013

The Middlebury Finance and Fundraising Task Force of the Town Offices Steering Committee will meet today in the Small Conference Room.  Fundraising is one of the topics to be covered.  Then the Select Board will hold a special meeting at 7 PM in the Main Conference Room. Agenda Items include Finalizing the FY14 Budget & Warning for Town Meeting.  Then tomorrow, the Winter Term Students will make a presentation of a proposed conservation plan to the Middlebury Planning Commission at 7 PM in the Ilsley Public Library Community Meeting Room.  For complete agendas and details on all of these meetings just visit the Town’s Website.

The Westport Town Council will hold a special meeting at 4 PM on Thursday to discuss personnel matters.  All meetings are open to the public.

The Addison County Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a trip to China in October!  You can find information on the trip by visiting the Chamber’s Website.  The Chamber will be hosting an informational meeting about the trip on Wednesday, February 20th, from 5:30-7:00 PM at the Middlebury Inn. There is no cost to attend this meeting but they just ask that you RSVP so they know that you're coming.

Valentine's Day is coming and if you LOVE animals, the Homeward Bound Animal Welfare Center's "Have-A-Heart...Give-A-Heart" fundraiser is a chance to show it!  Now through Valentines Day, all across Addison County, you can purchase a bright pink heart to show your support for animals!  Whether it's one dollar or a million dollars, every donation matters!  If you make a donation, you can proudly display your heart to show YOU made a difference.  You can pick up your heart at the WVTK studios in Middlebury, or for other locations, or information, please call 388-1100, or visit the shelter on Boardman Street in Middlebury!

Ticonderoga Area emergency personnel are pleading with residents to post their house numbers prominently on their homes and mailboxes.  The captain of the Ticonderoga Emergency Squad explained most often when they are dispatched all they have is a house number and they don’t always find it.  Posting a number on a home or mailbox isn’t enough it must be large enough to be visible.  The Essex County director of emergency services says missing house numbers are a big problem throughout the county. Having a visible number for emergency personnel is a law in Essex County.

A plan to bring early voting to the state of New York could spell financial hardship for many counties, including Essex.  Two Board of Elections Commissioners spoke about the state’s plan to adopt early voting, possibly starting this year, with members of the Board of Supervisors during its January 14th Public Safety Committee meeting.  Early voting would allow registered voters to vote up to seven days in advance of a primary election and 14 days before the general election, with each county required to designate at least five polling places that would be open for early voting.  The board would have to sit down and discuss where they would place the five early voting locations around the county.

A disease outbreak at a state fish hatchery will reduce the number of trout stocked in Essex County waters this year.  The Essex County Fish Hatchery Director said the State Department of Environmental Conservation told him the number of brown and brook trout stocked by the state in Essex County will have to drop 20 percent. That will mean a greater dependence this season on Essex County’s own fish hatchery. The Essex County Fish Hatchery has so far been free of disease. The state says only 224 Adirondack lakes will be stocked this year, 102 fewer than last year.

A state-of-the-art shore retaining wall is now protecting docks and campsites at the Monitor Bay Town Campground on Lake Champlain.  The $285,000 project was partially funded with a $117,500 State Department of State Environmental Protection Fund Act grant.  The town issued five-year municipal serial bonds to pay for the work, which included the new protection wall at the campground docks and electrical and water services. The campground barrier was damaged by wave erosion in 2009, then again by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. The town nets about $15,000 a year on the 42-site campground.

Fort Ticonderoga has four scholarships available for middle and high school teachers to attend the 18th-annual War College of the Seven Years War, to be held May 17th to 19th.  This annual seminar focuses on the French and Indian War in North America (1754-1763), bringing together a panel of historians from around the country and beyond. The War College takes place in the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center and is open to the public; pre-registration is required.  The scholarships are available for first-time attendees to the War College. Registration forms can be downloaded from the Fort’s website at under the “Explore and Learn” tab by selecting “Life Long Learning” on the drop down menu and then clicking on the War College.

A local animal rescue group is seeking donations following its rescue of three horses from Chittenden County.  Last Tuesday volunteers with Spring Hill Horse Rescue responded to a Shelburne home following a call from the Humane Society of Chittenden County. Volunteers took in a stallion and two mares of whom were severely malnourished and visually impaired following years of dark confinement.  Spring Hill Horse Rescue receives no government aid and survives entirely through donations from the public. To make a donation, or for further information, visit the website at

Police are investigating a Monday morning burglary and say some time between 8:30 and 11:30 AM someone broke into a home at 691 Barrows Towne Road in Killington and caused damage.  Anyone who witnessed suspicious activity in the area is asked to call the Vermont State Police Rutland Barracks at 802-773-9101.

The Vermont Marble Museum is looking for a few good tenants to fill space in the building that houses the museum rent-free.  The Building owners are putting the word out that they’re looking for industrial, retail, studio and office tenants to occupy the remaining space in the factory building with up to eight months of free rent.  They signed a deal at the end of last year to sell most of the museum collection to the Preservation Trust of Vermont for $250,000. The Trust also has a one-year option to buy the building from for $480,000. Of that amount, the Trust has raised $125,000 toward the purchase including a $100,000 donation from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.

Supporters of a call for a 3-year moratorium on wind power projects in the Vermont say the solution to global warming is to reduce the use of fossil fuels, not build industrial-scale wind projects on the state's ridgelines. The group that calls itself Ridgeprotectors issued a statement yesterday after Senator Bernie Sanders urged Vermont lawmakers not to impose the moratorium.

Security has been tightened at Brattleboro area schools because of a safety concern.  The superintendent of the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union informed parents and staff on Sunday that the school doors would be locked Monday.  Town officials were notified on Friday that a person, who had previously made nonspecific threats involving school age people, might be returning to the area.  Representatives from the police, fire department and the town met to develop a plan.  School representatives have been asked to be vigilant and to report any suspicious behavior to police.  The front doors will remain locked at all schools today.

Most Rutland County voters will have to make at least one decision on local officers at the polls in March. Brandon has three candidates seeking two seats on the Select Board. The town also has a contest for first constable, with incumbent Gigi Corsones facing challenger Gerry McGraw. In Pittsford, Cathy Rider has challenged Selectman Alan Hitchcock for his two-year seat on the board. Proctor voters will choose between candidates vying for spots on the town’s Select Board and School Board this year. And West Rutland has a crowded School Board Ballot. 

State Police say one person is dead after a fiery two-car crash in the town of Jamaica.  It was snowing yesterday afternoon when a woman southbound on Route 30 lost control of her Toyota Corolla, skidded across the highway and collided with a northbound SUV.  The smaller car burst into flames, and the woman driving it died at the scene.  The other two people in the SUV were treated at a nearby hospital for minor injuries and released.  Anyone who may have witnessed the accident is asked to call State Police.

Vermont's Congressman Peter Welch is going after foreign scammers who fleece thousands of dollars, especially from seniors.  He's sponsoring a bill to create an office within the Federal Trade Commission to educate the public, primarily seniors about the dangers of those calls.  Vermont's Attorney General says it helps because individual states cannot go after the thieves, and each year hundreds of Vermonters become victims of the foreign phone scams.

Mad River Glen is celebrating its 64th anniversary today, with a special gift to skiers.  Like it does every year on its anniversary, the Waitsfield resort is rolling back lift ticket prices to what they were when it first opened in 1949: three-dollars-and-50 cents.  The special lift ticket prices at Mad River Glen are for today only until 4 this afternoon. 

Governor Cuomo is saying "thank you" to state lawmakers who supported his sweeping gun control law.  The governor has sent a letter to those who backed the law, calling them "politically courageous, and governmentally responsible."  The letter comes as gun control advocacy groups continue to hammer the law, which tightens the state's assault weapons ban and ups criminal penalties for illegal weapons.

A minimum wage deal appears to be in the works in Albany.  According to "Crain's Business," a compromise deal is in the works to help the proposal get through the state Senate.  Governor Cuomo has proposed increasing the minimum wage to eight-75 an hour as part of his latest budget proposal.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says his fiscal monitoring system for cities around the Empire State is ready to go.  DiNapoli says the monitoring system is designed to sound early warnings if a local government appears ready to go over its own fiscal cliff.  The comptroller says the system has the blessing of many local officials around the state, saying they welcome the monitoring that can help highlight financial trends in communities.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has blasted new teacher evaluations as shams and a fraud, created to extract school aid -- not improve teachers. Bloomberg told lawmakers at a state budget hearing today they were irresponsible to pass the 2010 law tying school aid to union approval of local teacher evaluations.

New York law enforcement authorities will be visiting communities across upstate to explain the state's new, stricter gun control law. Representatives of the state police and Division of Criminal Justice Services have scheduled forums starting this week to talk about the "NY SAFE Act" and answer questions about changes in the law governing ownership of assault-style semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Inside a Shelburne, Vermont barn a horse rescue group found the animals that they say were standing in feet of manure and hooves weren't cared for.  Disturbing images that have the Chittenden County state's attorney's office investigating owner George Wilson.  "We want to review the evidence, other possible complaints," said Chittenden County State's Attorney TJ Donovan.  No decision was made Monday as Donovan met with police and health experts.  He couldn't give specific details on what they discussed, because it's an active investigation.  We spoke with Wilson, who declined to go on camera, he says the allegations aren't true and would like to speak to the media, but right now he says he feels like the deck is stacked against him.  Wilson, who used to work in TV, says there are no more animals that live there.  As for the three horses, Wilson voluntarily gave them up to spring hill horse rescue.  It's a situation that isn't just gaining attention in Chittenden County.  The state's top prosecutor, Bill Sorrell, says he's monitoring the case.  "I'd be happy to help the Chittenden [County] SA's office, or to take the case if they would like," said Sorrell.  A statement that didn't surprise Donovan, because he says images like these are sure to upset many people.  "This is something that hits close to home in a state that's known for its agricultural history," said Donovan.

Delta airlines will be adding new non-stop service from Atlanta to Burlington.  The service will start during the first week of June.  According to a press release, the new non-stop service will have 16 first class seats, 15 economy comfort seats and 118 seats in economy on a MD-88 aircraft.  The first flight departing Atlanta to Burlington will be at 3:30 PM on June 6th. That flight will arrive in Burlington just after 11:00 PM. The first flight leaving Burlington will be the following day at 7:15 AM.

Monday, January 28, 2013

WVTK Local & State News January 28, 2013

Various meetings are set for this week here in Middlebury.  The Middlebury Business Development Advisory Board will meet this morning at 11 in the Main Conference Room of the Town Offices. Agenda Items for this meeting include Fundraising and the Recruitment of a Business Development Director.  The Development Review Board meets tonight at 7.  Various Public Hearings are on their agenda.  The Finance and Fundraising Task Force of the Town Offices Steering Committee meets tomorrow in the Small Conference Room.  Fundraising is one of the topics to be covered.  Then the Select Board will hold a special meeting at 7 PM Tuesday in the Main Conference Room. Agenda Items include Finalizing the FY14 Budget & Warning for Town Meeting.  On Wednesday a presentation of a proposed conservation plan will be made to the Middlebury Planning Commission by the Winter Term Students at 7 PM in the Ilsley Public Library Community Meeting Room.  For complete agendas and details on all of these meetings just visit the Town’s Website.

At last Tuesday’s Select Board meeting a Public Hearing on the FY14 Budget was held. The Board will finalize the budget based on comments received at the public hearing at its next meeting tomorrow. The Board has reviewed the draft Warning for Town Meeting on March 4th and 5th, which included customary articles on accepting the reports of the Town Officers, approval of the budget, a request for borrowing for vehicles and equipment and setting tax due dates. Susan Shashok reported that the River Task Force discussed the Army Corps of Engineers' letter authorizing the Town to go ahead with its proposed plan for restoration of the Middlebury River in the spring, subject to review by State and Army Corps officials.  Meanwhile Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay reported on the meeting on the railway bridge replacement project held by Local Project Manager Bill Finger for property and business owners in the project area on January 10th. The group will be recommending a firm to the Select Board for the project at the Board's first meeting in February.

Last week Middlebury Energy Committee member Laura Asermily updated the Board on the Town's participation in Efficiency Vermont's Home Energy Challenge. Towns meeting the challenge of energy efficiency improvements to 3% of residences as part of the initiative are eligible for a $10,000 grant to support energy efficiency work. Residents can find out more about the Challenge or get visit a free home energy visit by e-mailing the Energy Committee at

Addison residents concerned about the recent wave of burglaries in Addison and the surrounding area have scheduled a Community Crime Forum for Thursday, February 7th from 6:30 to 8:30 PM at the Addison Central School Multi-purpose Room. The intent of the forum is to have an open discussion about crime in Addison, brainstorm ideas on how you can help law enforcement and themselves to be more aware, and determine if there is a potential to start a neighborhood watch program and what that might look like. Representatives of the New Haven Barracks of the Vermont State Police and the Addison Select Board have been invited to attend and participate in the forum. If you would like more information regarding the forum, please contact Don Jochum via e-mail at

Between now and the end of March, Rural Vermont will host several regional raw milk meetings to help raw milk producers prepare for inspection by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture.  The organization has been informed by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture's Dairy Section and Animal Health Division that they will be resuming inspections of farms selling raw milk direct to consumers.  The first meeting will be held in Hinesburg from 11Am – 3PM on Thursday.  For exact locations, send an e-mail message to or call 802-223-7222. Rural Vermont members attend at no charge and there is a $5 fee for everyone else.

Town of Bristol officials have presented their plan for a new firehouse in town.  A VIA architect designed the new station although the details, and purchase of an expansion property located at 32 North St., is yet to be determined.  The town’s historic station, considered limited by current standards, would be incorporated with, and central to the new plan.  Voters will have their say on the project on Town Meeting Day in March. Town Meeting will be held Monday March 4th at Holley Hall.  The Police District Budget Hearing will be at 6 PM followed by the Annual Town Meeting at 7.  Voting will take place on Tuesday the 5th from 9 AM -7 PM.

Crown Point will celebrate 225 years as a township in 2013 with the publication of a historic guidebook.  Crown Point became an incorporated town March 23, 1788. To mark the anniversary the Penfield Homestead Museum has published the “Historic Guide to Crown Point, New York – Celebrating 225 Years – 1788 – 2013.”  The 40-page book took a year to produce. Crown Point was one of the first towns in the North Country. The historic guide is contains facts, information on people, photos, sketches, maps and a timeline of Crown Point history. The guide will be available at Penfield Homestead Museum and at selected area sites throughout the year.

The amount hasn’t been set yet, but Essex County is considering a million-dollar bridge bond to replace more ailing spans. Some of the reasons for that include damages from the 2011 storms delayed their five-year bridge replacement program one to two years. Now the county has three bridges that the state has said are structurally deficient and need immediate repairs. Ford Bridge and Martin’s Bridge, both in Schroon, and Moriah Center Bridge in Moriah are all red-flagged. 

The Sentinel Grille’s new owners have renovated it in the motif of Ticonderoga High School’s purple and white colors.  The restaurant on Hague Road in Ticonderoga is holding its grand opening at 5 PM this Wednesday with an inclement weather date of Thursday.  Sharon and Gary Cooke of Port Henry, now own the restaurant formerly called The Carillon and Tierney’s Restaurant. The chef is still Donald Barber, who worked for the previous two owners.

Three Vermont teenagers are facing multiple charges in connection with a pellet-gun vandalism spree that damaged more than 100 vehicles, business and homes, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damages.  Police said an 18-year-old from West Rutland and two 17-year-olds, from Castleton and West Rutland, have been charged with felony and misdemeanor counts of malicious mischief for allegedly shooting out windows with a pellet gun between 3 AM Wednesday and Friday afternoon of last week in Rutland and West Rutland.  Rutland Police Chief James Baker said it's the biggest vandalism spree in the city anyone can remember, with at least 111 reports filed in Rutland alone.  Police told the Rutland Herald that the teenagers offered no reason for the shootings.

Voters at town meeting in Castleton will decide if they are willing to spend $1 million to construct a new town office building. The new 4,520-square-foot building would sit on 5 acres of property off Route 30, just south of the current medical center. The building would be laid out in a way that would allow a new fire station to be built next to the offices. According to board members, the future vision for the property, in addition to the fire department, is to construct a helicopter landing pad and a Babe Ruth baseball field. 

Vermont Republican leaders say they're not impressed with a new report from consultants to the Shumlin administration outlining some of the financial impacts of the state's planned single-payer health care system.   The new report says the state would need to raise $1.6 billion in new taxes, but Vermont employers and individuals will no longer have to pay $1.9 billion in private insurance premiums.  Republican Party Chairman Jack Lindley faults the report for not recommending how the $1.6 billion will be raised.

A big crowd is expected at a public hearing this week at the Vermont Statehouse on legislation that would allow physicians to prescribe a lethal dose of medications to terminally ill patients who wish to take their own lives.  Four legislative committees will be on hand in the main House chamber to take testimony from the public tomorrow from 5 to 7 PM.

The head of the company that owns the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is stepping down this week.  J. Wayne Leonard has been chief executive of Entergy Corp. since 1999, three years before it bought the Vernon reactor from the group of New England utilities that had owned it before.  In honor of Leonard's tenure, Entergy is creating a $5 million endowment that it says is to address issues of climate change, poverty and social justice.

Vermont-based ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's has come out in support of state legislation requiring labeling of products containing genetically modified organisms, and says it will stop using such products by the end of this year.  The company says 26 of its ice cream flavors - ranging from Cherry Garcia to Mint Chocolate Cookie - already come without GMOs.  The company's stance is winning praise from groups supporting GMO labeling, including Rural Vermont and the Vermont Public Interest Research Group.  Legislation to require labeling of products with GMOs failed to win passage last year, but backers are trying again this year.

The Red Cross of Vermont and the Upper New Hampshire Valley is training perspective volunteer responders.  Yesterday trainees helped break down a shelter at Burlington's Champlain Elementary School. People learning to volunteer for the Red Cross take emergency response courses to know how to best help other people in case of a disaster. Red Cross volunteers have to respond to a fire or emergency at a moment's notice.  If you're interested in volunteering the Red Cross visit their website and learn more about opportunities and training.

Think gas prices are high now? Well many Vermont lawmakers want to increase the price at the pump even more, in an effort to cover road and bridge improvement expenses.  The proposed gas tax would make a gallon of gas five to ten cents more expensive.  Lawmakers say there are a few reasons the transportation budget is in trouble.  Vermont Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding says the reason the revenues are going down is vehicle miles traveled are going down and fuel efficiency is going up.   There are also talks of raising fuel, propane and heating oil taxes, but the Shumlin Administration says it does not support a heat tax.

A Rutland County sheriff's deputy is recovering from injuries he got over the weekend in a crash involving his cruiser.  State Police say Deputy Jayson Flood was eastbound on U-S Route 4 when he hit his emergency lights and veered to the right, trying to make a U-turn.  The car behind him tried to drive around the cruiser, however, and slammed into the driver's side of the patrol car, according to investigators.  The other driver was not hurt, and the deputy was taken to Rutland Regional Medical Center with back, neck and head injuries.

Bartonsville has a covered bridge once more.  The historic and iconic bridge really symbolized the destruction of Tropical Storm Irene when video shot by resident Sue Hammond showed the span washing away.  On Saturday, a new covered bridge was dedicated, with a crowd of more than a hundred people from the community, and Governor Peter Shumlin and Congressman Peter Welch joining in their celebration.

A Vermont State Police trooper will not face criminal charges in the death of a man he used a Taser gun on.  Trooper David Shaffer was called last June to the home of Macadam Mason, who was 39 and had called a crisis line, saying he might hurt himself of others.  The Vermont Attorney General's office made the announcement Friday, saying their investigation was only to determine if criminal charges would be filed, and did not consider any pending civil action or the possibility of one.

Environmental activist Bill McKibben is set to speak to the Vermont Legislature on Wednesday about climate change and how it relates to the state. McKibben has been supporting a campaign to get resolutions on town meeting day ballots that oppose the shipment of tar-sands oil across northeastern sections of the state.

Vermont deer hunters will get a chance this week to weigh in on hunting regulations. The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is holding two public hearings to evaluate the impact that hunting rules and antler point regulation have had on hunters. The public hearings will be held at the Kehoe Conservation Camp in Castleton on Wednesday and at Spaulding High School in Barre on Thursday.

Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is going on record opposing a moratorium on large-scale wind power projects on Vermont's mountain ridges.  Two Vermont state senators recently filed legislation that would create a 3-year moratorium on new wind power projects on Vermont's mountains.  The senators from Caledonia and Bennington Counties say the state may be making too big a sacrifice on its mountain ridges in exchange for too little gain in new green power supply.  Sanders says he plans to introduce legislation in Washington to boost investments in wind and other renewable energy.

New York officials project the state's prisons will shed 1,000 more inmates over the next four years, partly because of relaxed drug laws.  That follows a 25% drop since 1999.  The prisoner total is expected to fall another 4% in four years.  As a result, the state has been closing minimum and medium security prisons and camps.

Friday, January 25, 2013

WVTK Local & State News January 25, 2013

Coming up this Sunday at 6 PM, Brandon Music will present a concert by celebrated local musician Caitlin Canty.  General Admission is $15 and reservations are encouraged. A pre-show dinner package is available for $30.  The Vermont native, who now resides in New York City, has folk-pop roots with a Western tone.  Call (802) 465-4071 or email for reservations or information.

Today at Noon the Middlebury Design Advisory Committee meets at the Town Offices. Agenda Items include a Review of Middlebury College's Athletic Facility on South Main Street.  Get details by visiting the Town’s Website.

The colder temperatures have put a severe strain on the resources of some of Addison County’s human service organizations.  HOPE is an organization that has been helping fight poverty in Addison County since 1965 and helps people obtain food, clothing, housing, heat, and medicine. They work hard to make sure Addison county families have their critical needs met.  The colder temperatures have caused more families to ask for help, and right now, HOPE has an urgent need for firewood and also donations to the food shelves.  If you can help, please contact HOPE at 803-388-3608.  You can also visit

Last Sunday afternoon around 1 Vermont State Police responded to a report of a burglary on Mountain Road in Addison. The crime was committed at an unknown time between Friday the 18th and Sunday the 20th. Items taken included jewelry and electronics. Anyone with information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact the Vermont State Police in New Haven at 802-388-4919 or submit an anonymous tip by texting CRIMES to keyword VTIPS.

The Schroon Lake Fish & Game Club will host its 21st annual ice fishing derby on Saturday and Sunday, March nd2 and 3rd.  Fishing will start at daylight on Saturday and end at 4 PM on Sunday. All fish must be weighed in at the clubhouse by 4 on Sunday and must be caught in the designated waters of Schroon Lake. You’ll need to purchase tickets prior to fishing in order to be eligible for any prizes. This includes children who have tip-ups out.  Pre-registered anglers do not have to sign in at the clubhouse before fishing. Tickets for pre-registration are $12 through Sunday, February 24th, and $15 after that date.

The Ticonderoga area is a ton lighter this year than in 2012.  That’s the pounds lost by members of the community’s “weight-loss challenge” a year ago. But that’s the just the beginning. Now starting its second year, the program has set a goal of 10,000 pounds lost for 2013. In 2012 89 people took part in the program, losing an average of 22.5 pounds each. This year 200 have registered to date. Each challenge group is divided into two teams. Results are posted on a Facebook page along with inspirational quotes, advice, recipes and other information. Interested people can contact Jessica Paradis by Email at

Town of Jay and Essex County officials are using a grant from the State Department of Environmental Conservation to start the debris-removal process at the former Land of Make Believe.  The remaining debris from the original cleanup was not covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but that is under appeal by the Town of Jay.  The debris was left after tropical storms Irene and Lee battered the area last year. Officials from the Town of Jay and Essex County felt the removal of this debris was crucial in assuring public safety in the event of possible future flooding of the Ausable River. The Land of Make Believe is a former theme park in Jay’s Upper Jay hamlet. The park closed decades ago, but volunteers had been trying to restore it before the floods struck.

The League of Women Voters has asked area state lawmakers to volunteer their time to educate and interact with students from area schools in Clinton and Essex counties so they can learn how the New York State Legislature in Albany works.  This program is presented through the eyes of Sen. Betty Little, Assemblywoman Janet Duprey and freshman Assemblyman Dan Stec. It will be held 9:30 a.m. to noon tomorrow at Peru Central High School.  This is also an awards program where two student delegates, chosen by their schools based on achievement, character and interest in government, will receive public recognition, letters of commendation and certificates signed by all three state legislators. Further information can be found on the League of Women Voters website:

A vandalism spree involving the use of a pellet gun to shatter car windows in the Rutland area continued for a second day with about 30 reports, according to Rutland City Police.  On Wednesday, police in the city fielded complaints from about 75 people whose windows had been shot out sometime between midnight and 6 a.m. Wednesday.  On Thursday, the damage continued with about 30 reports from residents in Rutland, Center Rutland and West Rutland whose vehicles were vandalized overnight and, in about eight instances, during the day. Anyone with information about the vandalisms is asked to call Rutland Police at 802-773-1816.

Green Mountain Power on Thursday warned customers that several attempts to scam its commercial customers over the phone have been reported.  The caller claims to be representing Green Mountain Power and requests the customer pay their account balance by releasing credit card information to the caller or paying their bill by means of a money card or other alternate payment mechanism. The caller also represents that the customer would have electric service disconnected if they do not comply. Any customer receiving such a call should not provide the caller with any personal information and should immediately contact the Vermont State Police or their local law enforcement agency.

Rutland City officials are looking for one vote from residents and another from the Legislature.  Rutland voters will get a chance to weigh in at town meeting on granting the Board of Aldermen the authority to make tax stabilization deals on residential properties. From the Legislature, city leaders hope to get an expansion of the state law that governs such deals.  The Board of Aldermen voted 6-2 Tuesday night in favor of placing the question on the March ballot.

The Killington town Planning Commission is considering a plan to reduce the number of lanes on Killington Road.  The commission and public reviewed a presentation that offered a plan to add a multiple-use path along the main access road to Killington Resort between West Hill and School House roads.  The plan offered a pair of proposals to make the quarter-mile stretch of road more attractive to pedestrians and cyclists, safer for motorists and more lucrative for merchants. The proposals are available on the town’s website under the Planning Commission tab at

Talking on your cell phone while driving could soon be illegal in Vermont, unless you have a hands-free device.  So far 10 states have the ban, but there's been no change in crash data, and it's difficult to enforce.  Regardless, Vermont State Police say two hands on the wheel is always going to be safer than one, and the law could potentially save lives.  Those opposed to the ban say it's the conversation that's distracting, not the fact you're holding a phone.  If the hands free cell phone ban does pass, a violation could mean a $100 fine and two points on your driving record.

Governor Peter Shumlin wants to raise $32 million in new taxes, mostly on the "break-open" tickets sold in bars and social clubs, and place new time limits on a state welfare-to-work program to balance the state's fiscal 2014 budget. Shumlin outlined a general fund budget plan nearly $1.4 billion out of total projected spending of $5.3 billion in his annual budget address to lawmakers yesterday afternoon.

A Vermont federal judge has ordered a Virginia pastor to be held in custody after the man refused to answer grand jury questions about his role in helping a woman and her daughter flee the country in a same-sex custody case. Kenneth Miller was ordered held for one week to see if he would change his mind.

Governor Peter Shumlin told the state Legislature yesterday he intends to fight for reforms to education, health costs, welfare benefits, clean energy and transportation, while at the same time closing a budget gap of 70-million dollars.  The governor wants to re-purpose nearly 17 million of the 26 million spent supplementing the Federal Earned Income Tax in order to boost child care subsidies.  Other ideas mentioned are redoubling weatherization efforts and clean energy initiatives, adding Vermont can build the best health care system in America, along with sending 25-million dollars to private insurers shortchange by Medicaid and lowering premiums for residents.

A plane bound for Burlington had to make an emergency landing instead in New York Thursday night.  When the crew for Delta Flight 4333 told tower controllers it could not extend the planes flaps while approaching for a landing, the decision was made to have it touched down in Plattsburgh instead because of the longer runway.  No one was hurt, and the approximately 30 passengers finished their journey to Burlington by bus.

Governor Cuomo is showing some potential flexibility in his push for a minimum wage increase.  Cuomo tells "Crain's" editorial board his pitch for a 20-percent hike in the state's minimum wage is a "starting point" for negotiations with the Legislature.  Business groups have already complained about the plan to push the minimum wage to eight-75, saying such a move would cripple small businesses.

School districts around the state aren't terribly excited about Governor Cuomo's budget proposal.  Most districts will not see the four-percent aid increase Cuomo talked about, and many will actually lose hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The varied nature of the aid is due to Cuomo having the lion's share of the increased aid go to high-needs districts.

Environmental groups are pushing back against the Cuomo administration's plan to support a growing yogurt industry by easing regulations on large-scale dairy operations. The Greek yogurt industry is growing so fast in New York that the state doesn't have enough cows to meet the demand for milk. The Sierra Club and other groups say Cuomo's proposal is illegal and would likely result in runoff pollution.

A teary-eyed Alex Spanos, 24 walked into Rutland, Vermont courtroom Thursday.  As his attorney consoled him, he was arraigned for a second time on the 2012 fatal accident that killed Carly Ferro.  "Mr. Spanos' would continue to enter his plea of not guilty your honor," said defense attorney Mary Kay Lanthier.  Last September prosecutors charged him with manslaughter, which carries a 15-year max sentence.  Now that charge has been upped and he's facing second-degree murder that carries a life sentence.  New court documents released Thursday show a passenger in Spanos' car claimed Spanos inhaled "dust off" right before he crashed.   In the moments leading up to the accident he said Spanos slumped toward the wheel and accelerated toward Rutland Discount Foods.  Outside the store, prosecutors say Spanos crashed his car, killing Ferro and injuring her dad.  Rutland County State's Attorney Marc Brierre wouldn't say what piece of evidence increased the charge.  "I'm not going to make any comments. We filed the charges based upon the evidence," said Brierre.  Spanos' family kept quiet as they left.  "Anything you'd like to say Mr. Spanos?" said FOX44/ABC22.  Ferro supporters were also in the courtroom and quickly left after the brief arraignment without saying anything.  We asked Brierre if Ferro's family was happy with the new charge.  But he wouldn't say.  "I don't want to comment about anything else other than what I said in court," said Brierre.  Spanos will be back in court next week.  He was being held in jail for not posting money but that's not an option now as the judge ordered him held without any bail.

There are new details on a controversial issue involving Costco.  Efforts to sell gasoline at its Colchester center got a boost.  Yesterday, the Vermont district environmental commission issued an act 250 land-use permit for the plan.  It says the three-island, 12-pump gas station could be built *if* Costco helps pay for traffic improvements at the nearby intersection. Senator Bernie Sanders has been a supporter of bringing gas to Costco.  He's been concerned about prices in northwestern Vermont and believes the competition could help lower prices.  “Nationally when companies like Costco sell less expensive gas prices tend to go down in the area. If Costco permit to sell gas is approved I hope and expect gas prices to throughout the region will go down saving families a substantial amount than what they are currently playing.”  Competitors opposed to the proposal... Say increased traffic and environmental issues are causes for concern.  The permit states Costco would be responsible for help paying for traffic improvements at the nearby interstate 89, route 7 interchange.

Fletcher Allen isn't seeing too many people seeking medical help because of the cold weather.  But don't be fooled, there are plenty of risk factors.  The ER says hypothermia cases have been at a minimum.  But there are things to be mindful of.  Make sure to have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, keep your cars stocked with supplies in case it stops working in a secluded location and of course, stay covered up to avoid frostbite.  “Frostbite can happen in a number of minutes. The water in your skin starts crystallizing starts tingling that's where you get the pain sensation. As soon as you see it start getting a little white you got it.”  The most basic advice given by medical experts just stay inside.