Friday, January 4, 2013

WVTK Local & State News January 4, 2013

The Merry Mulch program gets underway in Middlebury tomorrow.  Members of the Rotary Club of Middlebury will pick Christmas trees placed on the side of the road. Remember - please remove all decorations, especially metal objects. The trees will be taken to the Addison County Solid Waste Management District for composting.

The Middlebury Highway Department snow clean up in the downtown continues this evening starting at 9 PM.  Sidewalk clearing is on going.  Please remember the Winter Parking Ban is in effect from 12:00 AM - 6:00 AM. Any vehicles parked on town roads or parking lots, except where permitted, will be ticketed and towed.  Contact the Public Works Department, 388-4045, for additional information about Town snow removal operations.

The Addison County Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a meeting open to both members and the public entitled “Embezzlement, Fraud & Theft: It Can (and does) Happen Here.” The meeting will be held on Monday from 6:00 to 7:30 PM in the Ilsley Library Community Room in Middlebury. Holden Insurance is sponsoring the meeting.  The featured speaker is Tom Hughes, a one-time banker, accountant, business manager, and small business CFO. With multiple felony convictions for fraud and deceit, he is now a disgraced ex-accountant with a story to tell. Tom will share some of the things he’s learned.  This event is open to the public and is free of charge.  An RSVP is appreciated to Sue Hoxie ( or 388-7951 x2.

The Vermont Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports is urging Vermonters to try free Nordic skiing and snowshoeing next Saturday the 12th, 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.  Winter Trails Day is a national program endorsed by the council that encourages children and adults to discover the great fitness and social benefits of these fun, easy-to-learn winter sports.  Vermonters 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 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.

Yesterday Vermont State Police responded to a report of a vehicle on a house porch on Adams Ferry Road in Panton.  The investigation revealed that operator, Amanda Burlock of Vergennes was attempting to enter a residence when she lost control of her vehicle and slid in to the front porch of the residence.  Police say alcohol was not a factor in the collision but slippery road conditions were a factor in the accident.  No criminal action is pending.

Coming up next Tuesday at the Sheldon Museum art teacher Sarah Flinn and 5th and 6th grade teacher Catharine Canavan from Weybridge Elementary School will present a talk on their collaborative student project detailing the history and development of the town of Weybridge.  The exhibit was inspired by the 250th anniversary celebrations for the town of Weybridge and the Henry Sheldon Museum outreach program Maps to the Past. The exhibit is currently on display at the Henry Sheldon Museum through January 12th.  Bring a brown bag lunch at Noon and beverages and dessert will be provided. Museum members may visit free, others pay a minimum donation of $2.  For information call 388-2117 or visit

A two-story home on Lake Dunmore sustained significant damage in a blaze that started in the kitchen Thursday morning.  Jeff and Cheryl McDonough had left the house two days earlier to go on vacation when firefighters were called by a neighbor who saw smoke and flames next door at about 10:10 AM Thursday. Firefighters from Brandon and Pittsford, and eventually Salisbury as well, were called to the scene. The cause of the fire is unknown, although the Brandon Fire Chief said there was nothing suspicious about it.

Zamias Services CEO Joe Anthony says his company can once again fill the Diamond Run Mall.  The 400,000-square-foot mall was at near capacity when Zamias sold it to Gemini Real Estate Advisors in 2007. Gemini is surrendering the mall to its creditor and Zamias is being brought in to manage the mall once again. Anthony noted that occupancy was just shy of 100 percent occupied when Zamias sold the mall and its 52 store spaces. This week, only 30 stores were operating. 

The office of Sen. Patrick Leahy announced yesterday that GE Aviation in Rutland was awarded an $8 million contract to build engines for the Navy’s EA-18-G aircraft.  The total contract of $67 million is being divided among several GE plants. Rutland’s share is 12 percent of the total award.  The Rutland plant has added 200 jobs over the last three years, bringing total employment at the two plants to 1,100. 

The 2013 Ticonderoga High School yearbook is currently on sale for $40.  Students who order their yearbook on or before Jan. 25 will receive free name stamping.  Yearbooks can be ordered at school with cash or a check made out to “THS Yearbook” or online with a credit card. A link can be found under the high school tab on the district website,  The forms for the Class of 2013 grad ads were mailed out to senior families before the holiday break. They are due back by the 18th of this month. Each ad costs $25 and will include a photo and message of your choice.

Elected officials, department heads and management-confidential employees in Essex County have been given 2 percent pay hikes for 2013.  County Manager Daniel Palmer said the County Board of Supervisors exempted itself from the raises.  Unionized workers at the county are not in the budget for raises in 2013. A new Civil Service Employees Association contract is being negotiated now to replace one that expired in 2012. Members have worked under the provisions of that agreement since then.

The Kiwanis Club of Ticonderoga donated $300 to the Tiny Tim Christmas Wish fund again this year. The Tiny Tim fund provides Christmas presents to needy children and families who otherwise might not have a merry holiday season. For 2012, Tiny Tim provided for 200 Ticonderoga-area children, which was a record number. The Tiny Tim fund has been in operation for 25 years.  Tiny Tim relies on support from community members and organizations to be able to complete its mission of helping children in need.

The 26th-annual Stewart’s Shops Holiday Match program once again topped the $1 million mark in contributions for local children’s charities. The company announced that Stewart’s customers donated a total $672,000 at the 324 store locations in upstate New York and western Vermont between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and Stewart’s Shops is matching that amount, with a total of $1,344,000 to be distributed in March. After this year’s funds are distributed, more than $17 million will have been allocated since the program’s inception in 1986. Children’s charities can still apply for funding from the Holiday Match Program, with applications available in all Stewart’s Shops or online at Applications must be submitted or postmarked by January 31st.

The states of Vermont and New York are calling on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to do a more thorough study of the impacts of storing spent nuclear fuel on the grounds of nuclear power plants.  The Wednesday federal court filing from the two states is part of a process by the NRC that is soliciting comments on nuclear waste storage.  Vermont is home to one nuclear power plant. New York hosts six reactors at four locations.  Last June, a federal appeals court said the NRC should complete a detailed environmental review of on-site storage or explain why one is not needed.  In their filing, the states argue the NRC should consider whether licensing and relicensing reactors makes sense in light of the long-term effect of onsite spent fuel storage.

Governor Peter Shumlin has appointed the man who had been the state's commissioner of education to the new elevated position of secretary of education. Armando Vilaseca will serve one year in the newly created cabinet-level post, and Shumlin says a national search will be launched at midyear for someone to take the job on a more permanent basis.

The New York State Bar Association says it will ask lawmakers for more state aid for low-income legal services. The state lawyers group outlined its legislative agenda yesterday, six days before New York's Legislature begins its 2013 regular session.

Starbucks rolled out a new deal yesterday.  You can now get a $1 re-usable plastic cup at cafes across the country.   The company already gives customers a dime discount each time they bring in reusable cups for refills.   Now it's hoping the new cups will increase the habit.  In 2008, Starbucks said it wanted to serve 25% of all drinks in re-usable cups by 2015. They've since reduced that goal to 5%.

Nearly a year ago Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin laid out his 2013 fiscal budget.  "This is a balanced budget," said Governor Shumlin last January.  That budget took effect July 1st and now that we're nearly halfway through the fiscal year, we know Shumlin's calculations were off.  This week he presented a budget adjustment bill that shows the state paid nearly $4-million dollars more than expected.  "It's um, pretty miniscule," said Vermont Representative Martha Heath.  Heath says that's not bad when you consider the overall budget is more than $5-billion dollars.  She says the majority of increases come from the Agency of Human Services, where program cost for putting homeless in hotels has doubled to $4 million dollars.  "That seems on the face of it really wasteful to us," said Heath.  We wanted to know how they'll make up the gap.  Lawmakers say not by touching your money, but shifting it around from others programs that didn't use as much, programs like Medicaid.  And as they work on next year's budget, Governor Shumlin says he wants to remain out of your wallet.  "You'll see us come forth with a budget later this month that will also be balanced, without raising broad based taxes," said Shumlin.  Whether that will happen though, is unclear because Heath says there are still a lot of unknowns about how new healthcare programs will be paid for.  "We are going to have to pay the ongoing costs for the exchange for example and how is that going to be financed," said Heath.  Lawmakers will continue to take testimony on the budget bill until next week, before they vote on it.

Experts say just a few minutes outside in these temperatures could lead to frostbite and the even bigger concern is hypothermia.  Every winter there are always people who end up spending a lot more time outside than they planned, getting lost skiing or hiking maybe.  Doctors say hypothermia can set in and be deadly.  The early signs are shivering, difficulty moving and thinking clearly.  That's why doctors say there are things you should do if you end up caught in the cold.  "If you have the ability to get into shelter that's number one. If you can build a fire that's a good thing. You want to keep your clothing dry if you can and then other people for body heat. So hug the people you are with is a good thing to do," says Dr. Stephen Leffler, Fletcher Allen Health Care.  Doctors say frostbite is more common and can happen in just minutes in these temps.

Make-A-Wish Vermont needs your help.   The group wants to raise $1 million frequent flier miles by the end of the month.   That's because 60% of the wishes by sick Vermonters involve travel.   If you want to help by donating your frequent flier miles call (802)-864-9393 or visit  All donated miles will go to Vermont kids.