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.