Friday, January 11, 2013

WVTK Local & State News January 11, 2013

The “Ski Bum League” ski race series at the Snow Bowl starts tomorrow. The league is a recreational series and all levels of skiers are encouraged to participate. There are 10 races scheduled on Fridays from 1:30 to 3:00 PM through March. An après ski gathering follows each race. You can form a team of at least 3 people or be placed on an existing team. Join the fun! Contact for more information.

The Vermont Legislature is expected to formalize a new policy outlining search and rescue policies and procedures.  The effort comes following the tragic death of Levi Duclos in January 2011. The 19-year-old New Haven resident died of hypothermia after becoming injured hiking on a trail in Ripton. Though state police responded to a call from his mother the night he didn't come home, it wasn't until the next morning that a coordinated search was initiated, and by then it was too late.  A committee has been working over the past several months to improve lines of communication between the state and many of the primarily volunteer rescue groups. One key recommendation the Legislature will likely take up is the creation of a new search and rescue coordinator position within the state police, along with an improved database of search and rescue partners.

A Rutland County Sheriff's deputy is recovering from injuries suffered while subduing a prisoner attempting to escape. Sheriff Stephen Bernard says Lt. Frank Wilk will be out of work for several weeks after suffering badly bruised ribs.  The Rutland Herald reports Wilk had just arrived at the Rutland jail Monday with four prisoners in a transport van when one of them kicked out a window and tried to run for it.

The latest skier to get lost in the woods of Killington told police he had not seen the “out of bounds” signs.  Vermont State Police said 18-year-old James Rapitsky of Saratoga spent about 40 minutes in the woods Thursday, having left the bounds of the Pico ski area at around 4:05 in the afternoon. Police located him after finding his way back onto the trail at 4:45 PM.  Police said Rapitsky, who was uninjured, told them he was on the Summit Glades and got lost.

The Vermont Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports is urging Vermonters to try free Nordic skiing and snowshoeing this Saturday, and to maintain healthful amounts of physical activities throughout the winter season.  Dubbed “Winter Trails Day,” Vermonters will have the opportunity to Nordic ski or snowshoe for free at a half-dozen locations across Vermont.  Most participating areas will offer free trail passes and rentals in the afternoon.  You can participate in Winter Trails Day events locally at Blueberry Hill in Goshen and the Rikert Nordic Center in Ripton.  Interested participants are urged to contact participating ski areas to verify details and availability. For more information on Winter Trails Day and contact information for participating ski areas, visit

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

The Adirondack Mountain Club offers a course designed to prepare novices for winter camping.  Winter Camping 101, set for this Saturday, Sunday and Monday, is designed for those who want to begin winter explorations but lack the confidence or the know-how. The experiential, cold-weather workshop covers the fundamentals of equipment, nutrition, low-impact camping and safety. Cost is $180 for club members and $198 for nonmembers; fees include instruction, group gear and food.  The course is just one of the club’s schedule of guided trips, outdoor workshops and skills programs offered this winter. For more information, visit or call 523-3441.

Green Mountain Power Corp. has awarded a statewide tree-trimming contract to Pennsylvania-based Company Asplundh. The three-year contract, which accounts for half of GMP’s tree-related work could mean a loss of work for local tree companies that worked for the former Central Vermont Public Service Corp.   GMP said yesterday the contract with Asplundh will save ratepayers $500,000 a year and also said companies that lost out on the tree-trimming bid will still be able to bid on the remaining work, including transmission trimming, tree removal and capital construction work.  Officials with GMP say Asplundh plans on hiring local tree trimmers.

Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott is asking lawmakers to keep the economic impacts of the bills they pass in mind. During remarks in the Vermont Senate following his swearing in today to a second 2-year term, the Republican lieutenant governor said Vermont continued to struggle to get revenues to match the need for government spending on programs. 

Lt. Governor Phil Scott, Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell, and Senator Dick Mazza, members of the Senate Committee on Committees, announced the Senate committee assignments for the 2013-2014 legislative session.  Those committee assignments from our region in agriculture include Sen. Chris Bray and Sen. Bill Carris.  In Economic Development Sen. Kevin Mullin.  Health & Welfare Sen. Claire Ayer.  Transportation Sen. Peg Flory.  Finance Sen. Chris Bray and Sen. Kevin Mullin.  Government Operations Sen. Claire Ayer and Sen. Bill Carris.  And in Institutions Sen. Peg Flory. 

The school board in South Burlington plans to continue to fight a proposed methadone clinic for heroin and prescription drug addicts near 2 of the city's schools.  The board decided Wednesday night to appeal the clinic's permit to the Vermont Environmental Court. The Burlington Free Press reports that the legal action could delay the clinic opening for a year or more.  The move comes after the city's Development Review Board last week denied the district's appeal of a permit the city issued in August. The district has 30 days to appeal the Jan. 4 denial in state environmental court.

Will Howard Dean make another run for the presidency in 2016? He says "probably not, but we'll see."  Dean tells The Associated Press he isn't ruling out the possibility of seeking the Democratic nomination, which he tried for and didn't get in 2004.  When asked about a possible 2016 run, the former Vermont governor laughed and said he'd have to see a psychiatrist first.  He says a second run may be harder than a first, because the candidate knows what he or she is getting into.  Dean's 2004 campaign fizzled after an Iowa concession speech that many commentators described as ending with a scream.  But he's still regarded as a pioneer in using the Internet and grassroots fundraising as political tools.

Vermont’s Green Up Poster Contest has been announced for any student in kindergarten through 12th grade. One poster design will be selected as the official 2013 Green Up Day poster, promoting Green Up Day on May 4.  Poster entries should be 11 by 14 inches, created by hand without the aid of computers and must include the words “Green Up Vermont.” Writing entries should be a poem or essay, no longer than 400 words, on the topic “What Green Up Day means to you.”  Entries are due by January 31st. For more information, call 229-4586 or visit

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has received a flu shot to urge people to get the inoculations during a particularly serious flu season.  After getting his shot at a press conference yesterday, Cuomo received a lollipop from the state Health Commissioner. More than 19,000 flu cases have been reported this year, compared to just over 4,000 last year.  The Health Commissioner said two children died from the flu in New York and it's not too late to get shots to protect against the disease.  Cuomo said the shot didn't hurt at all.

Campaign finance reform is under discussion by Governor Andrew Cuomo just as he and much of Albany have bulked up with campaign fundraisers that have brought in millions of dollars in donations. Cuomo proposes to reduce the maximum contributions, require public disclosure of contributions within 48 hours, and to provide voluntary public financing of campaigns.

An antique store that's been in Chester for quite a while is giving back to the greater community.  William Austin Antiques has been around for 30 years, and this weekend it's truly giving back.  Bill Smith, owner of the store, has his own hand-picked collection much of it headed for auction.  Proceeds will go to local charities in Chester including the fire department and Springfield Humane Society.  His team has been polishing and tagging items for months, with a little something for everyone.  The auction will happen tomorrow, starting at 11, with chowder and lobster rolls, fresh from the store's kitchen.

An annual memorial homeless memorial vigil in Montpelier pointed out the problem is growing.  Advocates for the poor crowded statehouse steps Thursday to draw attention to the issue, not only to the public but also to lawmakers.  While the number of homeless individuals is shrinking, they point out the number of "families" without a roof over their heads is on the rise.  Lawmakers say they also want to improve access to mental health services, so fewer end up on the street.

Vermont has been awarded federal funding to better use online resources during disasters like Tropical Storm Irene.  Sen. Patrick Leahy and the Vermont Council on Rural Development will announce the Economic Development Administration award today.  The VCRD applied for the grant. The money will help businesses, farms, towns and nonprofits use online capabilities and broadband internet service for economic recovery and to strengthen their resistance to disasters, like Irene.

Governor Cuomo continues to push his women's equality measure introduced in his State of the State address this week.  Cuomo met with representatives of advocacy groups on the issue Thursday as he looks to build support for his plan that calls for everything from pay equality for women to protections of a woman's right to choose.  The governor says he hopes to build a coalition that can spread out across the state and deliver his message on the women’s equality agenda.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is optimistic he'll be able to get a minimum wage increase bill pushed through the Legislature.  The governor fought for a minimum wage hike last year that had initially been proposed by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, but the plan died in the Republican-led Senate.  Cuomo says he thinks the proposal has a better chance this go-round since it has the support of roughly 80 percent of voters and a new Senate leadership coalition of Independent Democratic Conference and Republican senators. 

ABC22/FOX44 want to keep you healthy. We've been tracking the flu for you for weeks now.  In our area we've seen high numbers of the seasonal illness and since October, the Vermont Department of Health says three adults have died from the flu.  The Centers for Disease Control says 41 states already have widespread flu activity.  Just an example of hard hit areas, Boston, Massachusetts reporting about 700 confirmed cases and even 18 deaths.  Those numbers, prompting Boston officials to declare a public health emergency.  And closer to home, it's not quite as bad in Vermont and we want to keep it that way.  I went to the Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin to find out when you should stay home from work, when you should see a doctor, and what you can do shorten your illness because this strain is highly contagious.  "The cough, the cold, the headache, the achiness, the fever," The CVMC Vice-President of Medical Affairs Philip Brown said.  If you have any flu-like symptoms for more than 24 hours that means it's time to contact your physician. There are anti-viral prescription medications like Tamiflu that you can take when you first start feeling sick. They can shorten your illness and minimize the complications.  I asked, "should you stay home from work that first day, are you contagious that first day that you don't feel well?" Brown said, "you're certainly contagious, the moment you're coughing."  So again, stay home! Avoid spreading the flu to people who are high risk, like the elderly and the young.  "You may be in a grocery line exposing somebody to influenza who may have heart disease or asthma," Brown said.  Because for those people, the flu can be deadly, and even though emergency rooms across the country are packed, if you have a preexisting complication, that's when you should go.  Bad asthma and now I'm short of breath, heart disease and now I'm having chest discomfort," Brown said.  Once you start feeling better, you can still be contagious for up to seven to ten days, so doctors recommend staying home or at the very least, keeping your distance. And of course, keep washing your hands, covering your cough, and we'll all do our best to keep Vermont's number of flu cases low.  Doctors say the flu shot is a good match this year for the strain that's active, and it's not too late to get one. Flu season often goes well into march.

The Vermont statehouse chamber was full of lawmakers, dignitaries and military personnel Thursday to see Governor Peter Shumlin begin his second term.  When the applause died down, Shumlin was sworn-in and then the democrat went to work.  For nearly 30 minutes he outlined one topic.  "An education system that grows Vermont's prosperity," said Shumlin.  Shumlin asked lawmakers to consider the future and see if the state is ready.  "The plain truth is, we are not," said Shumlin.  In order to get there, Shumlin laid out four major changes he wants to make.  It starts with early childhood development.  Shumlin says he wants to spend $17-million dollars making it more affordable.  The next step is tackling hunger.  Shumlin wants to give all low-income students free lunch, and make sure the food is grown in Vermont.  As for college, Shumlin says it's not just for the rich.  "We have failed to move more low-income kids beyond high school," said Shumlin.  To improve that Shumlin says programs that give college tuition to high school seniors need to expand.  He also wants to create the, "Vermont Strong Scholar Program" that pays part of Vermonters tuition if they chose to go to school and work here, so they don't leave the state.  And lastly, schools must create a personal learning plan that follows each student from kindergarten through high school.  Four changes that Shumlin says will improve students and keep jobs in Vermont.  "If you make a commitment to our state, than our state should make a commitment to you!" said Vermont.  Shumlin did not say how this plan would be paid for.  We spoke with some lawmakers who were excited about it, but with upwards of $75 million dollar budget deficit they wonder where it will come from.  Shumlin is expected to talk about that when he makes his budget address in a couple weeks.

Legislators vowed to tackle homelessness this session at the annual homeless memorial vigil in Montpelier today. Advocates for the poor crowded the statehouse steps to raise awareness and inform legislators of the growing problem.  Thousands of Vermonters receive housing and, or services every year. The number of homeless individuals is declining, but the number of *families* without shelter is on the rise.  "Just don't have enough money to pay rent without a subsidy, that's why the Governor endorsed the Vermont rental subsidy last year; Vermont state housing authority made it a preference, so it was wonderful," Linda Ryan said, Co-Chair of the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness.  Lawmakers say they also want to improve access to mental health services, so that fewer people end up on the streets.