Friday, March 1, 2013

WVTK Local & State News March 1, 2013

New protections for the lakeshores of Vermont are laid out in a bill now before the House committee.  The bill calls for the Agency of Natural Resources to come up with new rules restricting what can be built on lakeshores, and also requiring a buffer of vegetation between the shoreline and buildings.  Testimony Thursday from opponents said there's concern about the state getting involved in regulation normally left up to towns.  Environmentalists spoke in favor of it, saying Vermont is behind neighboring states when it comes to protecting its lakes.

If the sequestration cuts go through today, hundreds of civilian defense employees in the Vermont National Guard will be affected.  More than 500 could face furloughs of at least one day a week, with their paychecks cut by 20-percent.  That could begin as early as April, with Governor Peter Shumlin calling this "the unthinkable."  Incoming Adjutant General Steven Cray says the Guard will still continue to recruit and prepare for natural disasters and foreign wars, no matter what.

Cumberland Farms will pay $150,000 in civil penalties for multiple violations of Vermont laws.  The violations have to do with underground storage tanks at ten of its convenience stores at which it sells gasoline.  Most of the 39 violations relate to Cumberland Farms’ failure to conduct and maintain documentation of release detection monitoring of tanks and associated piping

The U.S. Department of Defense says the grounded F-35 fighter jets can take flight once again.  Officials say after finding a cracked engine blade.  The fighter jets have been thoroughly inspected and are cleared for take off.  Officials are still deciding on where to place the F-35 fighter jets. A preliminary report on the environmental impact of the F-35 in Vermont says the plane would have a greater noise presence than the F-16s.  A final draft of that report is expect to come sometime in late April or early May.  The Secretary of the Air Force will make the decision of where to place F-35s 30 days later.

The Vermont Transportation Agency is warning people that trains will be moving faster between the Massachusetts border and St. Albans.  On March 11, train speeds are being increased to up to 79 mph south of White River Junction and up to 59 mph to the north.  The speed increases follow upgrades to the tracks.  The upgrades included improvements to 46 road crossings, but there are still a number of non-gated crossings.  People are also being reminded to stop, look and listen when approaching a rail crossing.

A new poll conducted by the Castleton Polling Institute shows that the majority of Vermonters favor banning the use of cellphones while behind the wheel.  According to the poll, released yesterday, about 68 percent of Vermonters polled said they would support “making it illegal to talk on a cellphone while driving in Vermont.”  This is down 12 points from a previous poll the institute conducted back in May.  The poll also showed as the respondents got older, more of them supported banning cellphone use while driving.