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.