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.