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.