Friday, March 15, 2013

WVTK Local & State News March 15, 2013

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to buy out 90 properties across Vermont that were damaged by 2011 flooding, most from Tropical Storm Irene.  Eight structures were deemed ineligible for the federal hazard mitigation program and 24 applications are still pending.  Of those, FEMA has committed $12.8 million. The pending acquisitions total $6.1 million.  Earlier this week, state officials agreed to help buy out 5 of the properties that were rejected by FEMA.

A Port Henry man has admitted he tried to burn down part of the business district last year.  Joseph King plead guilty to arson and other charges in court yesterday. The 44-year-old was accused of setting fires at buildings owned by Mountain Lake Services in Port Henry back in January of last year.  He will be sentenced in May and faces up to 14 years behind bars.  Repairs to the building are expected to begin in a few weeks.

The higher gas tax proposal made it out of the Vermont House Ways and Means Committee today.  The proposal passed by a 10-1 vote.  The higher gas tax proposal calls for a 2% hike in the gas tax this year and another 2% in July of next year.  The high gas tax proposal passed the House Transportation Committee on Wednesday.  The proposal now moves to the House Appropriations Committee.

A veteran police officer in Rutland, who was suspended following an altercation at a hospital has been cleared of any criminal conduct.  Thomas Fuller, a 26-year veteran of the force, was placed on paid administrative leave following the incident at Rutland Regional Medical Center on December 1.  The details of the altercation have not been disclosed.  The Attorney General’s Office says there was insufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  Fuller will remain on leave until an internal investigation is completed.

A bill moving through the Senate would allow larger producers of raw milk to sell their product off the farm.

The consumption of raw milk is part of growing trend in Vermont and around the country.  Many say the non-pasteurized product not only tastes great, but also has health benefits.  Lawmakers four years ago allowed producers to sell the milk at their farms.  The new bill would allow a handful of larger producers to sell at farmers markets.   It does not address smaller producers -- in part -- because of safety concerns.

While some deal with major funding cuts, the IRS says others are missing out on getting money!  Turns out, there's still close to $920 million in unclaimed tax refunds from 2009.  That's because close to a million taxpayers never submitted returns for that year.  The IRS says it breaks down to about $500 a person.  If you're one of those people, time is running out. You have until April 15 to collect otherwise the money goes to the U.S. Treasury.

Police will be out patrolling the roads this weekend.  Troopers in Vermont and New  York say they will be highly visible on the roadways throughout the weekend as people celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  They also remind you to choose a designated driver or have an alternate plan for transportation -- before drinking any alcohol.