Friday, June 28, 2013

WVTK Local & State News June 28, 2013

The stormy weather has moved out of the area.  The Vermont Emergency Operations Center demobilized and released all of its responders earlier this afternoon.  But emergency officials are still urging people to be prepared.  Officials say rising lake levels are still a big concern.  This morning, all state roads were open and no local road closures were reported.  In New York, severe flooding was reported in the Mohawk Valley and the Mohawk River overflowed its banks.

Goodbye candy bars and donuts and hello granola bars and dried fruit.  Snack foods sold in schools are getting an overhaul.  New federal rules set limits for fat, salt and sugar.  This includes treats sold in vending machines, snacks must be limited to 200 calories.  While increasing protein, whole grains and nutrients.  These rules will go into effect for the 2014 and 2015 school year.  But Special fundraising events, like bake sales, will still be allowed to take place at schools.

Police say a thief made off with antique silver worth about $4,000 in Cornwall.  Investigators say a thief or thieves broke into an elderly man's home and stole a dozen place settings of antique sterling silver from 1921.  It was in a felt-lined wooden box.  Anyone with information should call Vermont State Police.

Vermont Gas is debating with the Conservation Law Foundation environmental group over the greenhouse gas impact of the project.  A CLF expert witness filed testimony with the state Public Service Board last week saying that Vermont Gas had underestimated the greenhouse gas emissions the new project through Addison County would cause.  Vermont Gas is responding by saying the CLF witness is seriously overestimating the greenhouse gas emissions from the project.  Up for debate are the impacts of natural gas versus other fuels from the time they are extracted from the ground to the time they are burned as fuel.

Sen. Patrick Leahy says Senate passage this week of comprehensive immigration reform shows that the Senate still can work together and accomplish things.  But the Vermont Democrat, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and led the immigration debate, says he fears for the bill's fate in the Republican-dominated House.  Leahy says the bill, which beefs up border security and provides a path to citizenship for 11 million people in the country illegally, could die in the House if its leadership listens to what he calls a tiny minority of radical, Tea Party Republicans.  Among the bill's benefits to Vermont, he says, are work visas for immigrant dairy farm workers.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

WVTK Local & State News June 27, 2013

The National Weather Service has forecast significant rainfall starting this evening and throughout the night into Friday.  Periods of torrential rain are expected, especially in the mountains.  NOAA has issued a flood/ flash flood warning for our area.  Middlebury Police will be periodically monitoring the Middlebury River throughout the night.  In the event conditions on the river become hazardous, the department may alert the riverside residents and recommend evacuation.  In that case, the Town will open the municipal gym for shelter.  If you notice the river level rising rapidly, please call the Middlebury Police Department.  Officials also say the ground is saturated.  Any storm driven high winds may create a risk of downed trees and powerlines.  Please prepare for sudden changes in the weather and flooding conditions.  This includes a personal plan to house your pets and domestic animals.

Middlebury taxpayers will start paying for their new and upgraded firehouses this year.  At their Tuesday meeting, the Middlebury selectboard approved a 5.5 percent increase in the municipal tax rate for the fiscal year that begins July 1, an increase that Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay attributed mostly to the first payments on substantial updates to the town’s two firehouses.

The Vermont Attorney General’s office reported last week that the state has received $2 million for cleanup of a contaminated gas station located in New Haven. The recovery resulted from a lawsuit brought by Attorney Gen. William Sorrell to recover payments that were made from the Vermont Petroleum Cleanup Fund (PCF) at the site and the future costs of cleanup from spills at the New Haven Mobil more than a decade ago.

Continuing problems with the lights on the Lake Champlain Bridge connecting New York and Vermont are expected to be fixed this week.  The New York state Department of Transportation says that a blown electronic timer knocked out most of the lights on the span Tuesday night.  DOT officials say all the lights are expected to be working on Friday night.

Vermont’s U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is calling on Congress to keep interest rates charged on some federal student loans from doubling.  If Congress doesn’t act, the interest rate charged on some student loans would increase from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1.  In a floor speech in the Senate yesterday, Sanders said increasing the rates would be a disaster for millions of students and their families.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont wants to increase rates by an average of 24.4 percent for the last six months of the state-subsidized Catamount health plan.  If approved, it would be the largest rate increase in the seven-year history of the Catamount program.  The Green Mountain Care Board has less than 30 days to make a decision.  The board has scheduled a public hearing at 1 p.m. on July 9 to discuss the matter.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

WVTK Local & State News June 25, 2013

More thunderstorms are ahead for this week, and power crews are gearing up.  Green Mountain Power says on Sunday night alone, ten-thousand people lost power mostly in the Rutland area.  G-M-P says with more storms predicted, its entire staff is on standby and even has contract crews lined up as well.  A spokeswoman for the electric company says they want to have plenty of crews to tackle the problems while still having fresh crews available the next day, ready for the next storm.

The Bristol Police Department received a call reporting the armed robbery of a female on Main Street yesterday morning.  Earlier, Vermont State Police reported a robbery at a residence in Bristol with numerous items stolen, including guitars and electronics; however, police have not said that the two Bristol crimes are related.  The public is asked to report any information relating to these two incidents to Bristol Police Chief Kevin Gibbs. 

A driver is in critical condition after wet weather caused a tractor trailer to fall off the Winooski Bridge on I-89.  Four vehicles collided in a chain reaction crash that sent the truck through the guardrail and into the Winooski River below.  The crash closed a portion of I-89 South Monday evening between exits 15 and 16.  The passengers in the three cars involved sustained non-life threatening injuries.  Police are asking motorists to seek alternate routes as the Winooski Bridge is still down to one lane for an undetermined amount of time for cleanup.

The College of St. Joseph and Green Mountain Power will work to build a 75-kilowatt solar farm on the roof of CSJ’s gymnasium.  It will be the utility’s first rooftop array in the city.  GMP will own and maintain the project while the college will get credit for 10 percent of the output — a deal similar to the one the utility made for a solar farm on the grounds of Rutland Regional Medical Center.  If the project is approved by the Public Service Board, GMP plans to start construction in the fall.

Residents in Brandon will go back to the polls next month to vote on a newly reduced municipal budget for the fourth time.  The Brandon Select Board last night approved a budget of $3.1-million.  Residents will vote on the new proposed budget from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 9 at the Neshobe Elementary School. An informational meeting will be held on July 8.

Opponents are trying a new tactic to draw attention to F-35 noise levels.  They want Vermonters to hear how loud the jets could be.  Organizers played six minutes of takeoff sound recorded outside of Vermont.  They amplified it to 115 decibels using eight speakers right next to City Hall Park in Burlington.  The U.S. Air Force is considering whether to bring the F-35 to Vermont.  The Vermont Air Guard says the planes can be flown in a way that minimizes noise.

Monday, June 24, 2013

WVTK Local & State News June 24, 2013

Four people are recovering after a crash between a car and shuttle bus.  That was on Friday night in Burlington, when police say the car slammed head-on with the Addison County Transportation Resources Bus.  While two passengers in the bus were treated for minor injuries, the driver of the car and his six-year-old passenger were more seriously hurt and taken to Fletcher Allen Health Care.  Police are still investigating but say neither speed nor alcohol appear to be involved.

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean is not ruling out running again for president.  It was ten years ago this month he announced his candidacy, and on Saturday former staffers and supporters gathered in Burlington for a picnic, party and reunion.  Dean said plainly he doesn’t plan on running in 2016, but also says he never says never, adding there is still work to be done with universal health care and preventing climate change.

It looks like Middlebury's Marble Works Riverfront Park will be completed on schedule.  After a recent rain delay, work was well underway on the new park last week.  The construction project began in May.  The effort to establish the new park started in 2007 when several town officials participated in a workshop which introduced member to new ideas about how to revitalize, and capitalize upon, neglected downtown natural resources.  Grass seed, protective straw matting, and hedges along the steep slope facing the Otter Creek waterfalls will be planted this week.

This morning, just after 7 o’clock, Vermont State Police responded to a single vehicle rollover crash with no injuries on River Road in Killington.  At the scene, troopers found a gray 2013 Kia Forte on its roof off the roadway in the stream.  The operator was 42-year-old Jame Corkins of Bristol.  Corkin’s vehicle was totaled.  Vermont State Police conducted an accident investigation and found that Corkins at fault for driving too fast for roadway conditions as he came around a curve too fast and crossed the centerline and crashed into the guardrail.

A New York senator is warning that buying counterfeit or poorly made cell-phone batteries can lead to phones overheating and even exploding.  U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer commented Sunday at a stop in Manhattan. The New York Democrat says problems most often occur when people replace batteries that came with their phones with bargain-priced batteries that might be counterfeit.

New York is hoping to reel in some new fisherman by offering free fishing next weekend.  That means you do not have to have a license to fish in any of the state's 7,500 lakes or ponds or 50,000 miles of streams and rivers, giving newcomers a chance to try the sport.

Vermont ranks second in the country for kids' well-being.  That's up one spot from last year.  The Annie E. Casey Foundation report released Monday showed improvements in some areas, like percentage of children with health insurance and fewer teen births.  But the report also showed poverty continues to be a problem.  Overall, Vermont ranked third in the country in education, family and community and fourth in health.

Friday, June 21, 2013

WVTK Local & State News June 21, 2013

Did spraying for mosquitoes on Fern Lake end up killing fish there?  That’s what the state is trying to find out.  They were testing the water today.  Everyone who lives there says it’s notorious for being buggy, and for more than 20 years the Mosquito Control District has been spraying it.  Earlier this month, several dozen dead fish were found in a cove and there’s concern about a link between the spraying and the fish kill.  Spraying resumed Wednesday night, and water samples collected today are hoped to determine if and what chemicals are on the lake’s surface.

With summer officially here, the Vermont Department of Health has a summertime warning about a tiny pest.  Mosquitoes are back, and last year two people died in Vermont from Eastern equine encephalitis while three were diagnosed with West Nile virus, all spread by infected mosquitoes.  The Health Department has a hotline to answer questions and concerns about the illnesses, and is warning people to wear long sleeves, avoid outside activities at dawn or dusk and use a good insect repellent.

For the first time in ten months, Vermont's unemployment rate saw an increase.  The Vermont Department of Labor released May's seasonally-adjusted statewide unemployment number.  It was at 4.1%, a slight increase from April's 4.0%.  Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan says the recent news of the IBM layoffs is not reflected in the rising number.  The national average was 7.6% for May, which is also up slightly from April.  The Department of Labor says Vermont still has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

The New York State Liquor Authority approved a motion to change the time alcohol can be served from 4 to 3 a.m. during their meeting earlier this week.  Officials say, it will go into effect immediately once a letter has been sent to the county.  Judy Garrison, Clerk of the Board of Supervisors said she is working with the County Attorney to figure out the protocol for notifying county business owners.  The action overturns the 2005 decision made by the Essex County Board of Supervisors and the New York State Liquor Authority that changed the hours from 3 a.m. to 4 a.m., the state’s latest allowable time to serve alcohol. 

Rutland Manor is planning to close its doors by September.  The facility, run by Genesis HealthCare, issued 90-day notices to its 20 residents and their families last week, but a spokeswoman said they hope to close prior to the September 14 deadline.  The Nichols Street facility has 32 rooms and offers staff coverage 24 hours a day.  Genesis operates other facilities in Rutland and one in Claremont, N.H.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

WVTK Local & State News June 20, 2013

There are a lot of Cornwall citizens who do not want a natural gas pipeline to come to the International Paper Mill at Ticonderoga.  More than a hundred people attended a meeting last night to speak out against the proposed Addison Natural Gas pipeline which would run through six local properties.  The town will receive close to a quarter million dollars a year for hosting the pipeline and those along the route can tap into it, but Cornwall remains one of several towns on the route against the project.  A final route will be decided in the late summer or early fall.

Vermont state agencies are investigating the death of fish in an Addison County Lake and whether a pesticide sprayed to control mosquitoes caused the fish kill.  The fish kill was noticed in Fern Lake several days after a chemical was sprayed in the area to kill mosquitoes. A Fish and Wildlife biologist said the fish died from spawning stress and increasing water temperatures. An additional report by state aquatic biologist Rick Levey said the die off ‘‘may be related’’ to the spraying.  The area near Fern Lake is part of Brandon, Leicester, Salisbury, Goshen Mosquito Control District that sprays pesticides to control larvae and adult mosquitoes.  The district has sprayed the area for 20 years with no reported problems.

Vermont Livestock has put plans on hold to build a new slaughterhouse and meat-cutting facility in Middlebury’s industrial park.  The Ferrisburgh-based company is instead seeking to move those operations into an existing building in that same area.  They have filed an application with Middlebury’s planning office calling for Vermont Livestock to redevelop and occupy approximately two-thirds of one of the current building at the site.

If a state lawmaker has his way, it’s going to take less alcohol for a driver to be legally drunk.  State Representative Bill Lippert is working on a bill to lower the legal limit for blood alcohol content from point-08 to point-05.  It’s not the first time he’s tried this, with first proposing the change in 2000 and again five years ago.  He says someone is already impaired at the lower reading, and believes reducing the limit will end up reducing the number of fatalities.

The town of Brandon will begin fiscal year 2014 without a budget.  The proposed budget of $3-million with over $2.3 to be raised by taxes was voted down on Tuesday by fewer than 50 votes, 371-326, sending the selectboard back to the budget workshop table again.  The 697 total votes amount to a roughly 25 percent voter turnout.

Middlebury College is world-renowned for its summer Language Schools and the Bread Loaf School of English. Starting next year, the college will add one more intensive summer program to its portfolio: a six-week, interdisciplinary, “full-engagement” School of the Environment, which will bring students, faculty and guest speakers from around the world to Vermont.

Champlain Valley Agency on Aging is seeking volunteer drivers to deliver hot, nourishing Meals on Wheels to senior neighbors in the Bristol area.  Volunteers also provide a needed safety check on seniors.  Meals are delivered once a week or every other week, whatever the volunteer’s schedule will allow.  Meals runs take only one hour.  For more information, call Addison County RSVP and the Volunteer Center at 802-388-7044.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

WVTK Local & State News June 19, 2013

State Police are looking for a teenage girl who did not return home Monday night.  17-year-old Mary Brouillard had received a ride from a male friend and was expected to return to her Lazy Acres Road residence around 5 p.m.  Police say she has since been spotted around Middlebury and Leicester, where her boyfriend and biological family reside.  Brouillard is 5 feet, 2 inches tall, with a medium build, brown hair and brown eyes.  She was last seen wearing a blue tank top and jean shorts.  Anyone with information is asked to call the State Police Rutland or New Haven Barracks. 

It may soon cost more to register an automobile in Essex County.  Members of the Essex County Finance Committee voted to draft a local law that would require residents of the county to pay a Highway Reuse Tax of $5 per year for passenger vehicles and $10 for commercial vehicles.  The idea had been discussed during budget subcommittee meetings with estimates showing the county could bring in between $200,000 and $300,000 in increased annual revenue.  Officials say this will most likely be ready to go to public hearing in September. 

A coach, former English teacher and current administrator has been tapped to lead Champlain Valley Union High School for the upcoming school year.  Jeffrey Evans, director of the Nichols House student team at the high school in Hinesburg, was chosen to serve as CVU interim principal Monday.  The school board voted unanimously to pick Evans to replace outgoing principal Sean McMannon, who is leaving the school to work as superintendent of the Winooski School District
Evans will serve as principal for at least the 2013-2014 school year while the school board conducts a full search for a permanent principal. He has been on the staff at CVU since 1993 and has served as English teacher, basketball, soccer, and golf coach, and most recently as Nichols House Director.

More than 100 police officers, including local, state and federal agents, spread out in Springfield and surrounding towns this morning to arrest a targeted 36 individuals wanted for drug-dealing activities.  Suspects were being carried to criminal court in White River Junction for a rolling series of arraignments. 

If you live in Vermont, you might not be happy with your job.  A recent Gallup poll revealed Vermont is among the top ten states in the country where employees are actively disengaged from their jobs.  The poll shows nearly 20% of workers in Vermont are just going through the motions at work.  The report says those who are disengaged from work are more likely to perform poorly and steal from the company!  But if you are stuck in a rut at work, experts say, don't wait and be proactive to land your dream job.  Vermont comes in as the 6th most actively disengaged state.  New York made number 7, trailing Vermont by only one-tenth of 1%.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

WVTK Local & State News June 18, 2013

The Monkton selectboard unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with Vermont Gas Systems at a hastily scheduled special meeting last night.  The board had rejected an earlier draft of the agreement in a 3-2 decision just nine days earlier.  The revised memorandum struck out language that explicitly endorsed VGS’s Addison Natural Gas Project and added some clarifying language to existing provisions.  The memorandum will be filed as an amendment to VGS’s application for a certificate of public good from the Pubic Service Board.

Investigators say a Lincoln woman got farm loans and then started unloading property and equipment used to secure the loans.  Lori Russell pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States.  Court records show she applied for over $500,000 in loans from the Farm Service Agency and Vermont Agricultural Credit Corporation.  She lied on her applications and started selling items the day after the loans closed.   She's on probation and must pay about $200,000 back.

All three members of the Vermont congressional delegation are offering proposals to limit the government's surveillance powers.  Senator Bernie Sanders is proposing a bill to limit the FBI and the NSA's power to track citizen phone calls in terror probes.  Senator Patrick Leahy has offered a bill that would declassify court opinions that show how the government interprets the law in granting surveillance orders.  Congressman Peter Welch has offered a bill to set a higher legal standard for authorizing surveillance.

Vermont State Police responded to a suspicious complaint in New Haven on Sunday.  According to reports, 72-year-old David Millson of New Haven was cited to appear in court on August 5 on charges of reckless endangerment and aiming a firearm at another, 26-year-old Bradley Sprague of Weybridge.  The police investigation suggests that Millson discharged between nine and 12 rounds less then 500 feet away, in the direction of Sprague.  Millson told troopers that he was attempting to get Sprague's attention to get him to stop cutting his neighbor’s trees which separate the two properties.

A former state police trooper in prison for padding his time sheets will never serve as a police officer again in Vermont.  The Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council voted to decertify Jim Deeghan as a police officer.  Deeghan is the first full-time police officer to be decertified in the state. He has not contested the decertification.  Deeghan is currently serving two years in prison and must pay $200,000 in restitution.

Senator Bernie Sanders says a new report released today by the Joint Economic Committee showed the average student loan debt in Vermont was greater than the amount in all but six other states.  New Hampshire's was by far the highest at over $33,000.  In Vermont, 63 percent of college graduates hold student loans.  The average balance is $28,000.  That debt load amounts to 82 percent of the average annual income for recent graduates, a ratio of debt to earnings that ranks Vermont the highest in the nation and the only state over 80 percent.

Monday, June 17, 2013

WVTK Local & State News June 17, 2013

Vermont State Police are investigating the thefts of various boats and boating equipment from a Lake Champlain marina in Ferrisburgh.  Among the items stolen from Basin Harbor Club Marina are a 12-foot boat with an outboard motor, two kayaks and various other boating equipment.  The thefts were reported to police yesterday, with an estimated loss of nine-thousand-dollars worth of property.  Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to contact the State Police New Haven barracks.

Poultney residents are being warned away from Lake St. Catherine until Wednesday at the earliest.  Local officials are trying to control an invasive plant called milfoil, and are applying an herbicide around the shore of the lake.  Because of that, they're warning residents not to use Lake St. Catherine, Lily Pond, Little Lake or the outlet stream to North Road before Wednesday.

New Census data shows Vermont has the second-oldest population in the U.S. in terms of average age of residents.  Vermont placed just behind Maine in the new figures.  Maine's average age is 43-point-five-years, while Vermont's is 42-point-three-years.  The national average age according to the Census Bureau is 37-point-four-years-old.

Vermont's two U.S. Senators are praising passage of the 955-billion-dollar farm bill.  Senator Bernie Sanders says passage of the measure last week is a victory for the state's rural communities and agriculture.  Senator Patrick Leahy says he is especially pleased with the legislation's language on dairy farming.  He says the bill would minimize the roller coaster price swings that have made dairy farming so difficult.  A similar bill is being considered in the House.

Two people are injured after the vehicle they were riding in crashed into a moose in Killington.  State Police say a vehicle driven by 65-year-old Maurice Hebert struck the moose on Route-Four Saturday night.  Hebert and 63-year-old Rosemary Hebert both suffered minor injuries in the crash, and a 15-year-old passenger in the vehicle was not hurt.  It's unclear how seriously the moose was injured.

Brandon voters will decide tomorrow on a proposed town budget that has a sizeable increase over last year’s of 6.7 percent or over $138,000.  The total budget being proposed is over $2.3-million.  The first budget, submited during Town Meeting Day voting, was approved narrowly, but then quickly overturned by a citizen-petition drive.  Polls will be open for the renewed budget voting between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the Neshobe Elementary School gymnasium.

Friday, June 14, 2013

WVTK Local & State News June 14, 2013

The MVAA or Middlebury Volunteer Ambulance Association will be expanding their services as part of a reorganization.  They will also be changing their name to better reflect their new direction.  According to the COO, Bill Edison, the new name will be Middlebury Regional Emergency and Medical Services.  MREMS will continue to evolve as a multi-faceted organization which can both stand upon the heritage and mission of the MVAA, but also change and grow to reflect the needs of the community.

Jamie Velsini is a lucky guy, times two.  The Mineville man is getting married later this summer and last week claimed a $1 million state lottery prize.  At a ceremony earlier today Velsini said, “Nothing’s going to change, I like my life just the way it is. Maybe things will be a bit easier now.”  He added he’ll use the lottery prize to pay for his wedding and to help family.  Velsini won $1 million on the lottery’s Fabulous Fortune scratch-off game.  He purchased the ticket at Stewart’s Shop in Port Henry on May 20.

Officials say there's still $11 million available in federal funds for Vermont cities and towns eligible for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program following Tropical Storm Irene.  The money goes away after July 12.  The funds help communities make improvements to public infrastructure and private property that are designed to lessen the effects of future disasters.  Officials say some cities and towns have used the funds to raise roads, replace culverts, flood-proof buildings, and buy out flood-prone properties.  More than $14 million in such projects have been approved by the state over the past 18 months.

Certain chemicals found in everyday items are now banned in Vermont.  The governor and lawmakers gathered at a Burlington firehouse Thursday to sign the fire safety bills into law. It bans the fire retardant Chlorinated Tris and broadens a ban on DECA that lawmakers originally approved in 2009.  The potentially toxic chemical can be found in things like mattresses, couches and carseats.

The town of Middlebury and Middlebury College are working on a deal that would result in the purchase of the so-called Lazarus Building on Main Street, a structure that would be razed to provide a wider and safer Printer’s Alley link between the downtown and the Marble Works complex.  The Lazarus Building has been vacant for more than two years. It most recently hosted Green Mountain Shoe & Apparel and Otter Creek Used and Rare Books, businesses that have relocated elsewhere in Middlebury.

A new policy in Vergennes asks residents and visitors not to smoke or chew tobacco on the city’s downtown green or at the city pool or surrounding recreation area.  By a 4-3 vote on Tuesday, Vergennes aldermen approved a policy that will also ask people not to use tobacco during city-sponsored events in the Vergennes parks in the Otter Creek basin, including at the annual Youth Fishing Derby.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

WVTK Local & State News June 12, 2013

State Police have arrested one of the suspects of an armed robbery last night.  At approximately 7:30 last night a male suspected robbed the Wooden Barrel Country Store in Chittenden at knife point.  Investigators say the suspects are 34-year-old Scott A Hughes and Amber Flanders.  Several hours after the robbery, police tracked Hughes down to a motel room in Rutland City.  Hughes fled out a window and led police on a short foot chase before being apprehended.  After searching the room, police found money hidden in the toilet tank.  Hughes was later transported to the Marble Valley Correctional Center where he is being held on $200,000 bail.

Vermont's attorney general wants a taser training policy for police departments across the state.  The issue came up when a man died after being tasered by a state trooper.  Attorney General Bill Sorrell wants all police in Vermont to have the same training and to fill out a form each time they use their tasers.  He wants a draft of the plan in place by fall, with the final version in the hands of lawmakers when the session resumes next January.

The family of murder victim Pat O'Hagan is more frustrated than ever.  On Tuesday in Rutland federal court, a man linked to the grandmother's death was sentenced to 15 years in prison in a child porn case not related to the murder.  Prosecutors say Richard Fletcher is one of three people involved in the Sheffield murder in 2010, but none of the three have been charged with killing O'Hagan.  Her family says O'Hagan helped Fletcher at one point in his life, and they wanted him to get a much tougher punishment because of his likely role in her death.  Prosecutors say charges in the murder right now are unlikely.

Officials in Monkton are hoping to negotiate an agreement with Vermont Gas, which is seeking approval for a 40-mile pipeline project.  Monkton is on the route.  Recently, the town selectboard voted to reject a memorandum of understanding between the town and the company.  The selectboard has met several times to discuss a legal agreement with Vermont Gas that would offer the town’s support for the project.  It would provide hook-ups to a distribution line to provide gas service to about 100 potential customers in town. 

The Salisbury Development Review Board will hold a public hearing in the Salisbury Community School Gymnasium, next Wednesday night at 7 o’clock for the purpose of considering an application for a commercial compost operation.  The proposed compost plant site is on land owned by Ernest Goodrich at the Goodrich Farm.  IES, Integrated Energy Solutions would run the facility.  IES, is a Vermont-based developer of farm-based methane energy.

There's now an app for anglers in Vermont.  The state's Fish and Wildlife Department has a new app called "Code for B-T-V."   Using the map it provides, fishermen can find out exactly when the waters will be freshly stocked.    The state maintains raising fish in a hatchery and then releasing them can help boost dwindling fish populations.  The app was created during an open source "Hackathon"

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

WVTK Local & State News June 11, 2013

Authorities have arrested 2 Rutland men in connection with a June 7th burglary in the Town of Killington.  An investigation led state police to 27-year-old Justin Kirby and 31-year-old Nicholas Seck.  Seck and Kirby were observed carrying a stolen television set from Seck's residence on Cresent Sreet in the Town of Rutland to a vehicle.  After a motor vehicle stop was conducted by police, the TV was seized.

Vermont's senior senator has gotten the green light to test ultra high-speed internet in America's rural communities.  Senator Patrick Leahy's pilot program passed yesterday as a provision in the Senate Farm Bill.  It will allow the Rural Utilities Service to invest in up to five gigabit broadband networks in rural areas over the next five years.  Gigabit internet speeds are about 100 times faster than the average high-speed internet connection.  Leahy wants to base one of those projects in Vermont.  Leahy's amendment was approved just before the Senate gave final passage to the Farm Bill.

Vermont's crops are off to a late start this spring due to all the rain.  The concern is two-fold, as farmers are worried about diseases growing on the plants already in, plus the crops which should be planted when it's hot and dry are being delayed in going in.  The wet weather is also affecting the quality of grass for cows, so their appetite is down, which means less milk, and eventually less cheese.

Middlebury residents will have a voice in the various plans now available for the downtown rail project. When it begins, the project will disrupt downtown traffic for several months.  There are currently six alternatives being considered, which will impact Main Street and Merchants Row bridges.  Residents can view the presentation at

Cornwall Bingham Memorial School has a new principal.  Susan M. Hackett, a Rutland County educator and past principal of the Plymouth and Sunderland elementary schools, has been named the new top administrator.  A Proctor resident, Hackett currently works as a reading intervention teacher at the Rutland Town School and as afterschool site coordinator at the Clarendon Elementary School.  While she will serve primarily as an administrator at Bingham Memorial, Hackett is prepared to do some substitute teaching and fulfill other roles when called upon.  Hackett officially begins her two-year Cornwall contract on July 1.

Friends and family hit the golf course yesterday to honor a Rutland High School student killed in a tragic accident.  The tournament hosted 128 teams that raised funds for the Purple Angel Foundation, a scholarship organization in memory of Carly Ferro, who was killed in a tragic car accident in October.  Ferro was an avid golfer and part of the foundation is a golf scholarship to be awarded to a teen girl.  Many participants donned Ferro's favorite color, purple.  The full day of events included golf, food and a silent auction.  All of the estimated $10,000 raised will go to the Purple Angel Foundation.

Monday, June 10, 2013

WVTK Local & State News June 10, 2013

The U.S. Senate is expected to give final approval to a new farm bill tonight.  The five-year bill includes about $100-billion dollars in annual funding for farm subsidies and food aid programs.  The bill also includes a big change for dairy farmers.  It eliminates the direct subsidy program known as the Milk Income Loss Contract and instead shifts to an insurance program to help stabilize prices.  Senator Patrick Leahy is trying to get one last amendment added to the bill that will help rural areas get access to ultra-high-speed Internet.  The farm bill passed the Senate last year, but was never taken up by the House.

A driver from Pennsylvania is in the hospital this morning after his car slammed into a cow on the highway.  Police say it happened just after midnight on Route 22-A in Bridport.  The driver's name and condition have not been released, but authorities say he was airlifted to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire.  The crash remains under investigation.

Vermont State Police have arrested a relative in the beating and stabbing of a farm worker in Whiting.   Police say 30-year-old Efrain Jimez DelaCruze was sleeping Thursday Night when two men broke into his home and hit him with metal pipes and stabbed him with a knife.  DelaCruze was taken to the hospital in Middlebury.  There was no robbery, and state police said they believed the incident was directed only at DelaCruze.  On Saturday a distant relative, 20-year-old Ricardo Romero-DeLaCruz of Cardenas, Tabasco, Mexico, was arrested after he turned himself in.  Police say they are still looking for the second suspect.

State Police say a man died Sunday evening when he was struck by a train.  Ryan Lessard, who was 19 and from West Rutland, was said to be walking on the tracks in Center Rutland, wearing headphones and listening to music.  State police say the operator on the approaching train blew the whistle and tried to stop but could not.  Lessard was killed instantly. 

Six people are safe after a fire damaged their apartment building in Rutland.  The American Red Cross, which came to the aid of the families in Sunday night's fire, says four adults and two children were displaced.  Firefighters are investigating the fire.

It's been nearly two years since disastrous floods triggered by Tropical Storm Irene swept through the Woodlawn Cemetery in Rochester.  The remains of dozens of people were swept away during that awful time, but now there's finally some closure.  For the first time since that day, all of the remains recovered are finally at rest once again, with re-burial ceremonies held on Sunday.  Cemetery officials say due to the recent heavy rains and soft earth, tombstones will not be installed until a few weeks from now.

The Ticonderoga water department will be flushing hydrants on Wednesday and Thursday nights from 10 PM to 6 AM.  If your water looks rusty or discolored after or if you experience air in the pipes, officials say you should run your water for a short while until it clears.

Friday, June 7, 2013

WVTK Local & State News June 7, 2013

David Lang of Crown Point has admitted to killing his brother as part of a plea agreement in Essex County Court.  Lang pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of his brother, Russell Lang.  He had been charged with second-degree murder.  71-year-old David Lang was set to go to trial on July 8.  As part of the plea deal Lang waives his right to an appeal.  Sentencing is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. Aug. 8, pending a pre-sentencing report.

Vermont State Police are looking for two suspects who allegedly entered a Whiting man’s home during the early morning hours of June 6 and beat and stabbed him while he was sleeping.  Police said the victim, 30-year-old Efrain Jimez DelaCruze, reported two men entered his Route 30 home at around 1:15 a.m.  A friend rushed the victim to the Porter Hospital Emergency Department, where he was treated for multiple lacerations and wounds.  State police said no robbery occurred and that the victim was apparently specifically targeted for what is being labeled a home invasion and aggravated assault.  Investigators are asking anyone who might have seen a suspicious vehicle in the vicinity of 300 Route 30 late Wednesday Night or early Thursday Morning to call them. 

The head of the Vermont National Guard is leading the information offensive in regards to the F-35, the newest fighter jet which may be based in Vermont.  A report out recently cited noise statistics in its environmental impact statement, but Brigadier General Dick Harris says those numbers are misleading.  He also says reported problems of lift and maneuverability with the F-35 do not exist, adding if the plane is prevented from being based with the Air Guard in Burlington, 11-hundred jobs will not exist, either.  The Air Force is expected to decide by October where to base the new planes.  

Ticonderoga is forming a coalition to deal with the issue.  Ti Supervisor Deb Malaney says, “The drug problem is perverse all over.  Malaney is asking concerned citizens to join the effort.  A meeting will be held Tuesday, June 18, 1 to 3 p.m. at the Community Building.  The Ticonderoga Police Department and Ti-based Prevention Team, a non-profit agency that provides alcohol, tobacco and other drug education and prevention services for Essex County, will take part.  

Senator Patrick Leahy is being honored by the Center for Victims of Torture.  This is an international, non-government, organization based in Minnesota that helps survivors of torture, heal.  Leahy will be presented its annual eclipse award later this month.  The organization says Leahy has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the protection of refugees, promotion of human rights, and prevention of torture.

Vermont's Fish and Wildlife Department is giving you a gift: free fishing on Saturday.  It's statewide, with the Free Fishing Day meaning you won't need a fishing license to cast a line.  The state has 284 lakes and more than seven-thousand miles of clear streams, with some of the greatest variety of high quality fresh water fishing in the Northeast.  A special event designed for kids is planned for Grand Isle.  From nine a-m until three in the afternoon, the fishing festival offers basic instruction, with a chance for kids to catch trout.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

WVTK Local & State News June 6, 2013

Vermont State Police are investigating a series of burglaries in the Cornwall area.  Troopers responded to a residence yesterday for a report of a burglary from a garage off West Street in Cornwall.  Investigators say several tools were stolen out of his garage between Monday night and Wednesday morning.  Vergennes State Police are attempting to locate two orange Husqvarna chainsaws with 18-inch bars as well as several other items.  Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Vermont State Police.  Information can also be submitted anonymously online at

Monkton has once again rejected an agreement on the proposed natural gas pipeline.  After several hours of intense discussion at a special meeting on Monday night, Monkton’s selectboard rejected a Memorandum of Understanding negotiated between Vermont Gas officials and Monkton.  Around 70 citizens attended the meeting.  The gas company’s petition for a Certificate of Public Good for Phase I of its Addison Natural Gas Project is currently under consideration by the Public Service Board.

Vermont is now the 17th state to get rid of criminal penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana.  Governor Peter Shumlin signed a measure into law this morning.  The law replaces criminal penalties with civil fines similar to a traffic ticket for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana or five grams of hashish.  The law also treats possession of such amounts of marijuana by people under age 21 the same as underage possession of alcohol, including referral to court diversion for a first offense, potential civil penalties and/or license suspension, and criminal penalties for a third violation.

Ticonderoga will have a youth recreation program this summer.  The program, which served about 200 children each year, was victim of budget cuts a year ago.  Officials say the 2013 program will be self-sufficient and not cost local taxpayers anything.  The cost of the program, which is due at registration, is $10 a day for each child.  Children who are entering kindergarten through age 13 can attend up to five days a week 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. July 8 through Aug. 2 at Ticonderoga Elementary-Middle School.  Scholarships are limited and will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Scholarship information is available at the town clerk’s office.

The Middlebury College campus has said goodbye to a prominent feature of its athletic complex, the Bubble.  The 40,000-square-foot air-filled structure was inflated in 2002 as a temporary home for the Panther squash courts and other athletic facilities.  Workers deflated it earlier this week.  In its place will stand a brand new athletic field house, complete with an indoor track and squash courts.  After deflation and transportation, the Bubble will have a new home at Castleton State College.  Castleton officials say they are thrilled for the new dome.

Thanks to recent warm, wet weather - mosquitoes are out in force.  That has many in towns around Brandon concerned - because that’s where the mosquito born Triple E virus killed two people last year.  Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or Triple E, and West Nile are both rare and potentially deadly viruses.  Officials say people should take common sense precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites, using bug spray with DEET, covering up when they’re outside and when possible avoiding being out between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.  

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

WVTK Local & State News June 5, 2013

A bill allowing undocumented migrant workers to drive is now law.  Governor Peter Shumlin inked his name to the bottom of the measure just before noon today.  Those interested in obtaining the driver privilege card must still pass a written exam, a road test and insure their vehicle.  The only significant difference in the licensing is looser proof of residency standards.  The law will go into effect on July 1.  The card cannot be used as a legal ID for anything but driving.

Vermont is trying to protect student athletes.  The issue is when tough sports go too far and a student is hurt.  The State of Vermont wants schools to get serious about concussions.  Now schools will be required to report concussions, which is just one step of a new law which aims to keep students safe.  A licensed athletic trainer or health care provider must be at all elementary or secondary school's athletic events for collision sports.  Those are football, wrestling, lacrosse, and hockey.  The law also requires schools to plan for what to do when an athlete has a concussion and when he or she can play again.  Schools have until July 2015 to make sure to have that health care expert at their athletic events.

In a lawsuit brought by the Vermont Attorney General’s Office, a Vermont Superior Court judge has ordered R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company to pay the State of Vermont $8.3 million in penalties for violating Vermont’s consumer protection laws.  Judge Dennis Pearson imposed penalties based on Reynolds’ deceptive advertising of one of its tobacco products, Eclipse, as a “risk reduction” cigarette.  The judge also issued an injunction that prohibits Reynolds from making “risk reduction” claims for its tobacco products without supporting studies that have been accepted by the scientific community.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says it's time to restore the Empire State as a beacon of women's rights.  Governor Cuomo has introduced legislation he hopes will end discrimination based on gender.  The Women's Equality Act is a 10 point plan designed to achieve pay equity, stop workplace harassment, strengthen human trafficking laws, and reaffirm a woman's right to choose an abortion.  Opponents have argued that the equality act would expand abortion rights.  Cuomo says that's untrue.  It would only reaffirm under state law a woman's right to choose, established by the U.S. Supreme Court 40 years ago.

The Rutland Town Volunteer Fire Department will soon be demolished to make way for a brand new facility.  Voters signed off on the renovation in November.  The station stands empty and will be torn down. The new station will be rebuilt in the same location on Route 4 and will offer more space and parking.  Until it's finished, volunteers are setting up at a temporary location across the street.

Vermont State Police are searching for a trailer and the tools inside it, reportedly stolen from a work site on Route 7 early yesterday morning.  Sometime between 3 a.m. and 7:20 a.m., police say, a 14-foot green enclosed trailer was taken from the site on Route 7 in Pittsford.  Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Vermont State Police.  

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

WVTK Local & State News June 4, 2013

Two men are behind bars this morning for a burglary and assault in Rutland.  Police say just before 9 p.m. Sunday, a man called them, saying three men had come to his apartment on Maple Street looking for Brenton Gallipo, who was not there.  They then forced their way into the man's apartment. He was able to escape out a second-story window, but says the group assaulted his girlfriend and her dog and stole several items.  On Monday, Rutland police arrested Joshua and Jordan Walker of Rutland, and they're looking for Gallipo for questioning.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed a new law aimed at protecting victims of sexual crimes.  The new law extends the statue of limitations for certain sex crimes.  Before, prosecution on the case would have to begin before the victim's 24th birthday or within ten years of the crime.  That's now been changed to 40 years after the crime.  Governor Shumlin says the new law gives victims without a legal voice the opportunity to right an awful wrong.

The Vermont Ski Areas Association says this past season was the best since 2001.  The association announced today at its annual meeting that the state's resorts had 4.5 million skier and rider visits, that’s up 16% from last year.  The group says that puts the season at the second best since 1992, when the association first stated gathering resort data. 

The Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says African Americans are more likely than whites to be arrested on marijuana charges in the state.  The ACLU used federal crime statistics and U.S. Census data from 2001 to 2010 to determine that African Americans were more likely than whites to be arrested. In 2010, the figure was 4.4 times more likely.  The national figure was 3.73% more likely.  Other figures show African Americans and whites use marijuana in roughly equal numbers.  ACLU Director Alan Gilbert says the results indicate that racial profiling is a problem in Vermont.

We might be months away from moose hunting season but now is the time to apply for your permits.  The application deadline has been set for July 5.  The Vermont Fish and Wildlife will be awarding 355 hunting permits by lottery for the regular hunting season which runs from October 19-24.  There will also be 50 permits for archery from October 1-7.  Lottery permit applications are $10 for residents and $25 for non-residents.

Anyone looking to purchase a new vehicle can do so for the right price this weekend.  80 state vehicles will be sold to the highest bidder.  The auction will be held at the VTRANS Central Garage on Route 302 in Berlin.  It starts at 10 a.m.  Dump trucks, plow trucks, pick up trucks, police cruisers, four wheelers, and boats will be on-site.  A registration and vehicle preview will be held on Friday and two hours before the auction on Saturday.

Monday, June 3, 2013

WVTK Local & State News June 3, 2013

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders says Social Security is not going broke.  Trustees of Medicare and Social Security reported Friday the programs have enough money to stay afloat until 2026 in the case of Medicare and 2033 in the case of Social Security.  Sanders says longer-term problems with the programs could be addressed by lifting the cap on payroll taxes on upper-income workers.  He says that currently, someone making $10 million a year contributes the same amount of money as someone making $113,700.

The Vergennes City Council last week got its first look at a draft 2013-2014 city budget, one that City Manager Mel Hawley prepared and said could mean the second increase since 2008 in the tax rate devoted solely to paying for municipal services.  Aldermen will make the final decision on the budget and the municipal portion of the tax rate by the end of June.  That portion of the tax rate does not support school spending.

The search has begun for a new principal in Shoreham.  Shoreham’s search comes in wake of Principal Heather Best’s recent announcement that she will step down this month to accept a teaching position at the Neshobe Elementary School in Brandon.

Champlain College notified parents and students of a data security incident this morning.  A press release says a portable storage device containing names, Social Security numbers, and other information provided to the college's admissions and financial aid offices was left in a computer lab on campus.  The drive was returned to Champlain College's IT department and the college has launched an investigation into the incident.  Champlain College says there is no evidence of any attempted or actual misuse of information that was stored on the device.  The device had over 14,000 social security numbers of students who applied for admission.  Students and parents potentially impacted are being offered one year of identity monitoring services by First Watch Technologies, Inc., paid for by the college.

Vermont agriculture officials say an invasive fly will be seen more often this summer.  The spotted wing drosophila lays its eggs in soft, ripe fruit and can damage raspberries and blueberries.  It was found in New England in small amounts in 2011; many more were found last year.  Officials are confident there will be more reports of the insect this year.  The female has a saw-like egg laying appendage that allows it to drill into the fruit and lay eggs in the small holes.  The larvae feed on the fruit for about 10-14 days before emerging as adults.

About 75 elementary school girls learned an important lesson recently. They can set goals and achieve them.  Girls from Ticonderoga, Crown Point, Moriah and Willsboro went to Ti’s Bicenentennial Park on Saturday to complete a 3-kilometer run.  It was the culmination of the “Accept & Appreciate Me” program held at area schools this spring.  The program, sponsored by the Prevention Team, is based on the national Girls on the Run effort.