Monday, February 25, 2013

WVTK Local & State News February 25, 2013

VTrans officals are looking for your input.  They will be holding a meeting tonight at Rutland High School starting at 6:30.  They are looking for feedback to help the agency prioritize and update its goals and track what matters to the public when it comes to road conditions and regional transportation issues.  VTrans officials say they will also inform people on the development of a state-wide transportation plan.  All are welcome at tonight’s meeting.

If there's no deal by Congress and President Barack Obama by Friday, massive federal spending cuts will automatically happen.  The White House put out a report yesterday outlining specifics state by state, and in Vermont, the biggest hit is in military cuts.  The report says about a thousand civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, cutting gross pay by nearly three million dollars.  Another big impact is school funding, with Vermont losing one-point-one million for primary and secondary education.  The President wants new revenues as well as spending cuts, while G-O-P leaders say they've already raised taxes, insisting on cutting spending instead.

A fire which destroyed a horse barn with an attached indoor riding ring is being considered "suspicious."  The fire was early Sunday morning on White Ridge Lane in Monkton, and was called in by a resident noticing an "orange glow" in the area.  Luckily, none of the two horses inside or the dozen outside in the paddock were hurt.  Damages estimates are in excess of 150-thousand dollars.

Voters in Vergennes on Town Meeting Day will be asked to approve a $1.85-million bond for a new police station.  Aldermen have discussed offsetting some of the tax impact of the bond by using traffic ticket revenue and possibly some Water Tower Fund money.  City officials will be hosting an informational meeting on the police bond tomorrow night at 7 PM at the Vergennes firehouse. 

On Town Meeting Day, Monkton voters will be asked to consider a $1 million bond to fund the construction of a new town hall and library on the 5-acre parcel of land on Monkton Ridge that the town purchased with funds raised through a 2006 bond. Town officials say the current town hall and library are insufficient for Monkton’s growing needs.

Not everyone is opposed to the idea of the new F-35 jet fighters being based at the Vermont Air National Guard base in South Burlington.  On Sunday, hundreds of people dressed in green and wearing green ribbons turned out for a rally in support of the jet and the Guard.  One member of the group said it was their way of saying "thank you" to the National Guard, as well as supporting the controversial proposal for the new jets to be based there.  Also there was Adjutant General-elect Steven Cray, who says the F-35's are a crucial addition to the Vermont Guard.

A proposed tax on sugar-sweetened drinks isn't going to happen in Vermont after all.  The bill never got enough votes to get out of the House Committee on Healthcare.  The bill called for a penny-per-ounce tax on the sugary beverages as one way to fight obesity and the health care costs going with it.  Bill sponsor Dave Sharpe says the bill isn't dead just yet, as the problem still remains.