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.