Friday, April 5, 2013

WVTK Local & State News April 5, 2013

The Vermont Senate has advanced legislation aimed at allowing workers on Vermont farms to become legal drivers despite the fact that they may be in the country illegally.  The 27-2 vote giving the measure preliminary approval came after there was broad agreement that the workers - an estimated 1,200 to 1,500 mostly from Mexico and Guatemala - have been advocating for the right to drive for a number of years.  They say they are isolated on Vermont's farms and that the ability to drive will help them get access to basic services.  The bill is expected to be up for final Senate action on Tuesday and then go to the House.

It was a very happy ending to a scary search for a missing 7-year-old girl.  She was last seen on her bike at around 7 o’clock last night when she vanished.  Rutland police, fire and area sheriff departments were involved in the search, along with Vermont State Police and a New York state police helicopter.  Finally, police going door-to-door found her asleep in a house on Pine Street in Rutland at around 1 AM.  The little girl is now back home, and the people living where she was found are being questioned.

A ban on the wild boar is moving forward in Montpelier.  Vermont House lawmakers have approved a ban on wild boar.  State Fish and Wildlife officials say they are concerned the boar could escape from captive hunting facilities and attack other animals.  The wild hogs are an invasive species, reproduce rapidly and are known to cause significant damage.  The bill, which was approved yesterday, targets all varieties of wild boar and their genetic cousins.  The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is asking the Legislature to make it illegal to own or import these animals in Vermont.

Voters in Leicester will go to the polls next Tuesday to vote on a revised school budget for next year.  The school board is proposing a revised budget of just over $1.1-million.  That represents a spending increase of almost $57,000 or 5.4 percent from this year.  The board’s first offering was rejected by voters on Town Meeting Day by eight votes, 73-65.  An informational meeting will be held Monday Night at 7 o’clock in the Leicester Meeting House. Residents will vote on Tuesday from 10 AM to 7 PM at the town offices.

There has been a changing of the guard with the Brandon Republican Town Committee.  Committee Chairman Del Cook stepped down after seven years.  On Tuesday, Seth Hopkins, a Brandon business owner who ran for a House seat last year, was elected to the position.  Cindy Bell was elected secretary while Vice-Chairman Bob Dean, Treasurer Kevin Blier, and Assistant Treasurer Marge Munger will continue to hold their posts.  For more information about the committee, you can visit their new website

A new psychiatric wing at Rutland Regional Medical Center will begin housing patients who in the past would have been treated at the Vermont State Hospital.  The new addition, dubbed the “South Wing,” will operate in a renovated space on the fourth floor next to, but separate from, the hospital’s existing 16-bed psychiatric unit.  Unlike the existing facility, the South Wing will be a closed unit with twice the number of staff to care for only six patients.  The new facility is one of several opening this year and next year to replace the 54 beds lost at the state hospital.