Wednesday, July 31, 2013

WVTK Local & State News July 31, 2013

A bridge on Route 7 in North Ferrisburgh had to get some quick, emergency repairs last night after a car smashed into the guardrail.  Police say a driver from Middlebury slammed on his brakes in order to miss hitting the cars slowed down in front of him and his car skidded into the rail.  The driver was taken to the hospital with an injured shoulder.  While it was patched together last night, more work is still needed, and that could mean delays this afternoon on Route 7.

Vermont Health Connect has announced the finalized rates for the health insurance marketplace.  According to a press release, through Vermont Health Connect, Vermonters will be able to compare up to 18 plans and premiums side-by-side and, for many, have access to financial help to lower the cost of the plans.  Plans will be offered at four levels: Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze. The costs of each level will vary the amount of premium vs. out-of-pocket costs. Vermont Health Access says all of the plans offer the same quality benefits, including preventative care, mental health services, and dental and vision coverage for children.  Vermonters can start comparing the plans starting in October.

Officials say New York's Department of Motor Vehicles computer system is back to normal operation a day after a glitch slowed transactions to a crawl in local offices statewide and online.  A DMV spokesman says the system is being monitored and the agency will make allowances for anyone who missed a deadline.  The breakdown Monday also affected the ability of police to check motorists' records.  The agency says the problem developed after a mainframe server was upgraded Sunday and tested properly, but couldn't handle the load of actual business Monday morning.

The state has received two federal grants to help unemployed Vermonters.  The first $50,000 grant will help long-term unemployed people start their own businesses. Gov. Peter Shumlin says it will help 50 people that have been unemployed for at least 26 weeks. The second grant is for $1 million and will go toward training and job matching. This is the second $1 million Re-employment and Eligibility Assessment (REA) grant the state has received.  The state also received a separate grant from the U.S. Labor Department to help long-term unemployed people start their own businesses.

Some retired teachers in Vermont will be getting their monthly pension payments a day late because of a bank processing delay.  The state Treasurer’s Office says TD Bank did not process banking files on time for electronic payment to 7,059 retirees of the Vermont State Teachers’ Retirement System. As a result, funds normally available today will not be available until 8 a.m. tomorrow.  The issue only involves retirees who receive their pension payments electronically. TD Bank will cover any late charges, overdrafts or other penalties that result from the delay.

The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant is about to cut 30-jobs.  The parent company of Vermont Yankee, Entergy, announced Tuesday it’s undergoing restructuring after a disappointing earnings report.  Eight hundred of its total 15-thousand jobs will be dropped in a move anticipated to save up to 250-million-dollars by 2016.  Critics of Vermont Yankee are afraid cutting the jobs will be cutting back on safety.  Entergy’s vice president for nuclear communications denies that charge, however.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

WVTK Local & State News July 30, 2013

Vermont’s new Healthcare Exchange could also be the place to go to register to vote.  Secretary of State Jim Condos announced yesterday that the state’s health insurance marketplace, scheduled to be functional by October, will double as a “voter registration agency.”  Condos says, “A significant portion of those not registered are under 18 years of age.  However, there are still eligible potential voters to be registered.”  New York and California are the only two other states to take the same step. 

A physical education teacher from Ridgewood, New Jersey will be the principal of Shoreham Elementary School next year.  Shoreham school officials offered James Ross the job after interviewing him and another finalist.  His hiring became official last Thursday after Addison Central Supervisory Union Administrators confirmed that he has accepted the position.

Vermont State Police arrest a New Haven man on possession of crack cocaine.  During a traffic stop for a minor motor vehicle violation yesterday, 27-year Jose Rodriguez was found to be in possession of crack cocaine and heroin.  Rodriguez was taken into custody and is being held for lack of bail. 

The body of a Vermont man missing for three days has been recovered from Lake Champlain.  New York State Police divers located the body of 39-year-old Michael Mindell of Shelburne.  The remains were found last night just off shore near Westport.  Mindell was boating with friends on Saturday when they stopped at the cliffs to do some swimming, only Mindell decided to climb the cliffs and dive in.  He never resurfaced, and crews had been searching ever since.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is helping to crackdown on child abuse. He signed Jay-J's law, which will toughen penalties for anyone convicted of child abuse.  The law increases the look-back period for assault on children younger than 11 years from 3 to 10 years.  As of now, intentionally causing harm to a child under 11 is a misdemeanor that can result in a year in prison. Now that charge can be elevated to a felony if the abuser has a prior conviction for the same crime. That comes with a maximum four year sentence.

Residents in Brandon are looking at a tax increase.  Town officials recently approved tax rates for the fiscal year that started July 1.  The new residential tax rate, which includes the municipal and state homestead education rates is $2.22, which is an increase from $2.02 in fiscal year 2012-2013.  This translates to a tax bill of $2,110 per $100,000 of assessed property value.  The new non-residential tax rate is $2.19, which is an increase from $2.13.  Property tax payments are due August 15, November 15, February 15 and May 15.

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife wants your help in finding out how many wild turkey broods are out there.  An online survey begins on Thursday, August first on the department’s website.  People can report the numbers of adult males, adult females and young turkeys, as well as the date, time and location where they saw the birds.  This is the seventh annual online Vermont Turkey Brood Survey, and it helps with setting turkey seasons and harvest limits used for managing the state’s turkey population.

Friday, July 26, 2013

WVTK Local & State News July 26, 2013

The hunt for infected mosquitoes carrying potential deadly illnesses continues.  Earlier this month, West Nile virus was found in trapped mosquitoes, with the Agency of Agriculture having technicians set up and check traps on about 30 sites in Addison and Franklin counties.  No other samples have turned up West Nile or Eastern equine encephalitis, also known as triple-E.  Last year two people in Vermont died from triple-E.

North Country Community College may expand its Ticonderoga campus to include the former Lowe’s building.  College officials plan to submit a funding application for a feasibility study that could lead NCCC to purchase the vacant store on Wicker Street and convert it to an applied technology center.  If the project becomes reality, NCCC will expand its degree programs in Ticonderoga.  A specific curriculum has not been identified yet, but officials say it will more than likely have an emphasis on green technology.

Green Mountain Power is making it easier to monitor and alter your usage.  Customers with smart meters can log in online to review hourly electric data.  Green Mountain Power hopes the information can be used to make meaningful changes to energy use in your home.  Green Mountain Power is offering a prize for energy saving!  If you make changes between now and August 30th send an e-mail to Green Mountain Power and you will be entered to win a new iPad!

A rare stomach bug has been reported in eleven states. Those states are Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Wisconsin, Georgia, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey and Ohio.  Health officials say this outbreak might spread even further.  The intestinal illness can cause weeks or even months of pain and discomfort. Symptoms include fatigue and weight loss, among some other things.  It's commonly linked to fresh produce, but health officials say they aren't sure whether a domestic or foreign product caused the outbreak.

A Vermont man has been arrested on three counts of counterfeiting paper money.  Police in South Burlington said a video surveillance camera caught a man passing a fake bill at Zachary's Pizza on Monday.  The video led to the arrest of 28-year-old David Horn of Shelburne yesterday.  Horn has since been jailed at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility. 

Federal funding for the Low Income Heating Assistance Program is expected to drop more than $1 million for next year, again.  This is the second $1 million cut in federal funding for the program designed to help low-income families with their heating costs.  The federal government will provide $17.3 million to the program next year in Vermont.  The average benefit of the program is expected to decline to $717 per household for the season, the lowest benefit since 2005.  In 2012-2013, the benefit was $898.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

WVTK Local & State News July 25, 2013

Green Mountain Power will be taking a power outage for approximately 3 hours early Friday morning,  for the safety of  line workers making emergency repairs to a substation.  This outage will affect customers in the Vermont towns of Bristol, Monkton, Starksboro, New Haven, and  Lincoln.  The outage is scheduled for 1:00 a.m. to  4:00 a.m. to minimize the impact on customers. 

The Marbleworks Pharmacy in Middlebury was robbed at gunpoint yesterday.  According to Middlebury Police, just after 5 PM, an unidentified white male walked into the pharmacy and displayed a handgun; the suspect demanded prescription drugs from employees behind the counter.  Investigators say no one was hurt and the individual left the drug store with an undisclosed amount of prescription drugs.  Police are if you have any information about this incident to please call the Middlebury Police Department at 388-3191

It didn’t take a federal jury long to find a former Wallingford fire captain guilty of conspiracy to commit arson.  George Allen was accused of conspiring with other members of the volunteer fire department to set about two dozen fires in 2008, and was found guilty after the jury deliberated just 90 minutes.  He’s now free, pending sentencing.  Some of the fires were on federal property in the Green Mountain National Forest, which is why it ended up in federal court. 

Three top Vermont officials expressed confidence earlier today that the state will be ready to launch the health insurance marketplace being set up under the federal Affordable Care Act on its scheduled startup date of October 1.  Final rates for levels of coverage were also released.  Plans range from the low end of monthly premium cost, $336 per month for MVP Health Care coverage for a single person willing to risk a 50 percent copay for hospital services, to about $1,670 per month for a family plan with a 10 percent copay.

Police in Shoreham say sports memorabilia has been taken in two home burglaries.  Someone took Dale Earnhardt collectible cars and personal checks from one residence yesterday.  And an autographed Ted Williams baseball and Ted Williams action figures were taken from another home.  Anyone who has any information is asked to call Vermont State Police.

The Middle­bury selectboard unanimously agreed to apply for almost $160,000 in state grants to build the first two 600-foot segments of a bike and pedestrian pathway on Exchange Street.  Officials are seeking money for the first 1,200 feet of pathway, extending from the Exchange Street/Elm Street intersection to the driveway of MacIntyre Services.  If successful with this application, the town will apply for a future grant to complete the third and final segment from MacIntyre Services to the Exchange Street/Route 7 intersection.

One of the oldest continuously-running agricultural and county fairs is set to get underway next week.  The Essex County Fair will celebrate its 165th birthday starting Wednesday, July 31.  The fair, held annually at the county fairgrounds in Westport every year since the Civil War, will open on July 31 and continue through Sunday, August 4, featuring a brand new midway and several new activities and shows for all ages.  For more information on the 165th Essex County Fair, visit the website

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

WVTK Local & State News July 24, 2013

Vermont is rebounding from the recession, and that comes as very encouraging news to  Governor Peter Shumlin and leading state lawmakers.  The Emergency Board, chaired by the governor, makes financial decisions when the Legislature is out of session.  After hearing an upbeat forecast from economists, the Emergency Board slightly raised the revenue forecast for the state’s three main funds by one-point-two percent for the next two fiscal years.

There is not enough being done to prevent workplace injuries at Vermont agencies, according to the state auditor.  He says there needs to be more attention paid to safety, adding tight budgets and a lack of communication could be part of the problem, but workplace injuries are simply too high.  From 2008 to 2012 there were 48-hundred worker’s comp claims with an estimated eight-million dollars in compensation paid per year.

If you're still struggling to rebuild after Tropical Storm Irene, you now have more time.  FEMA is extending the deadline to use up the last of the $2.8 million disaster grant. FEMA says this money is not going to individuals, but to case managers who are helping individuals find help from other government programs as well as non-profits and churches.  You now have until November 30th to get help.  This is about 3 months after the original deadline. FEMA says the disaster case management program is successfully helping Vermonters rebuild and extending the deadline just makes sense.  For more information call 211.

Burlington Police arrested a man accused of stealing a diamond from a jewelry store on Church Street yesterday.  Police say 26-year-old Steven J. Ploof, Jr., of Burlington, lead them to where the $2,570 diamond was hidden.  The diamond was found and returned to the jewelry store.  Police say initially Ploof gave them a false name.  He's been charged with grand larceny, false information to a police officer, and violations of conditions of release.  Ploof was lodged at the Chittenden County Correctional Facility on $5,000 bail.

For the final six months of the Catamount health insurance plan, rates will be 11.9 percent higher than they have been for the past two years.  The plan and the state’s premium assistance program will cease to exist on Jan. 1, 2014, because they do not fit into new federal laws under the Affordable Care Act.  The proposed increases was originally 24.4 percent but the Department of Financial Regulation cut that Catamount rate hike back to a 13.9 percent increase, and the Green Mountain Care Board cut another 2-percent from the increase.

Gas prices continue to climb nationwide with the national average is just shy of $3.70.  New York still has it the worst in our area as prices creep closer to $4.  Vermont is above average at $3.76.  New Hampshire still has the lowest prices of the 3 states, but is a penny higher than national numbers.

Monday, July 22, 2013

WVTK Local & State News July 22, 2013

Vermont's lone representative to the U.S. House of Representatives says the nation's veterans need better access to their health records from their time in the military.  Representative Peter Welch said earlier today that he's a co-sponsor of legislation that would require the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans' Affairs to find a better way to share records.  Welch says the DoD and the VA have been working on the issue for 15 years, but they haven't solved the problem.  Welch says the 21st Century Health Care for Heroes Act has dozens of sponsors from both political parties so he's hopeful it will pass.

So far this year, eastern equine encephalitis or EEE has not been spotted in Vermont.  Testing is being conducted with mosquitoes collected from 50 sites all over the state.  Lab technicians are looking for 2 things, EEE and West Nile Virus.  However, the Department of Health reported on Friday that the West Nile virus was detected in mosquitoes collected July 10 from a trap in Leicester.  It was the first detection of West Nile this year in Vermont.  The Health Department has made a risk assessment of EEE, which is available as a map on its website.  The maps shows a moderate risk stretching from Middelbury down to Brandon.

The Moriah water department will turn the water off on Wednesday, July 24, 9 a.m. to noon to work on the pressure reducer valves.  The water will be off on Tarbell Hill Road down through to the top of Broad Street at the town line, Fisk Road and all of Water District #4.  It is recommended that people shut off the main valve coming into their home to prevent the possibility of siphoning water from a boiler or hot water heater.  People who do not have a main valve or who are unsure of its location can contact the water department at 942-3340.

Burlington's deputy police chief is facing a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.  Vermont State Police say troopers pulled over a motorist on Route 105 in Sheldon for failure to use a turn signal shortly after midnight Sunday.  The operator was Andi Higbee of Colchester. He was arrested for drunken driving and later released on a citation.  He was off duty at the time.  Burlington Police Chief Mike Schirling said in a statement that Higbee has been placed on paid administrative leave.  Higbee has a court date scheduled for August 12th.

Senator Patrick Leahy says he wants the Senate Judiciary Committee to take up legislation that would protect journalists and their sources.  Leahy chairs the Judiciary Committee. He says his decision to place the Free Flow of Information Act on the Committee's agenda comes after committee members met last week with Attorney General Eric Holder.  At that meeting they discussed the Justice Department's guidelines for getting information from the press.

The Three-Day Stampede is coming up this weekend in Bristol.  It's the 20th anniversary of the fundraiser, which has raised $1.3 million so far for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  The event includes yard sales, barbecues, dancing and crafts.  This year, there is also a new film called "How to Live to be 100" that highlights the community's involvement.  The movie will be screened this Thursday, July 25, at 8 p.m. on the Bristol Green. The Stampede kicks off Friday and lasts through the weekend.  For more information, visit their website:

Friday, July 19, 2013

WVTK Local & State News July 19, 2013

The woman who served as town clerk and treasurer for Weybridge is going to federal prison for two years.  Karen Brisson received the sentence Thursday in what the judge called one of the largest and most flagrant cases in a long string of public and private embezzlements in the state.  A forensic audit came up with more than 476-thousand dollars taken from the years 2006 to 2012.  Brisson apologized in court, saying she is sorry for the theft and how she disappointed family, friends and taxpayers.

I-B-M ended its fight to keep confidential the number of Vermont jobs cut in its latest round of layoffs.  Turns out the total was 419 people lost their jobs.  Big Blue was required to give the state details within 24 hours after all the layoffs were final, but had held off, saying it could cause competitive harm to the company.  The Labor Department gave I-B-M until noon yesterday to legally prove that claim, and the company dropped the objection and released the number.

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy says Vermont and New York are winning the fight against sea lamprey in Lake Champlain.  Leahy, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced a $600,000 appropriation for continued treatment of lamprey, an eel-like invasive species that wounds other species native to the lake.  He and other officials also showed off a new 26-foot boat recently acquired by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to handle sea lamprey control on the lake.

A Pittsford man arrested for the murder of his girlfriend tried to kill himself in prison.  35-year-old Christopher Sharrow is charged with murdering 32-year-old Kristen Parker earlier this month.  Vermont Corrections officials say Sharrow tried to hang himself in his cell at the state prison in St. Johnsbury.  He is now hospitalized in stable condition in Boston.  Corrections officials say Sharrow had been on a suicide watch where he was checked every 15 minutes.

Vermont State Police are still investigating a car crash in Bridport.  According to investigators, when the arrived at the scene of the crash last Sunday, no one was there.  Witnesses say three people, possibly migrant farmworkers, walked away from the scene.  But police have not figured out who they are.  Police say the car is registered to the woman who heads the immigration advocacy group Migrant Justice.  Police have been unable to interview her.  State Police say they're meeting with the state's attorney next week to see how his office would like to proceed.

Vermont’s unemployment rate climbed to 4.4 percent in June, the second consecutive month-to-month increase.  The comparative national rate in June was 7.6 percent, which was unchanged from May.  Despite the increase, Vermont’s unemployment rate remained the fourth lowest in the country.

Green Mountain Power has selected Positive Energy, a solar developer with offices in Poultney, Vt., and Granville, N.Y., to build the College of St. Joseph Solar Farm atop the Rutland college’s athletic center.  Positive Energy will build the system with assistance from students in the Green Mountain College Renewable Energy and Ecological Design major, and will use materials largely sourced from Rutland-area suppliers.  The College of St. Joseph signed an agreement with Green Mountain Power last month to host the company’s first rooftop solar farm in the city of Rutland.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

WVTK Local & State News July 18, 2013

Vermont State Police are searching for a man who broke into a home in Pittsford and assaulted a 15-year-old girl.  Just after 1 o’clock this afternoon, an unidentified white male entered a residence on Freeman Hill in Pittsford, and assaulted the occupant inside.  The victim had visible bruising and injuries and was transported the Rutland Regional Hospital for treatment of her injuries.  If you have any information regarding this case or saw something in the area of Freeman Hill Road in Pittsford between the hours of noon and 1:30 p.m., contact the Vermont State Police at the Rutland Barracks at 802-773-9101 or submit an anonymous tip to

People in Rutland are now doing what they can to help three children left without a mom when Kristen Parker was assaulted and murdered.  Police say Christopher Sharrow, her boyfriend and the father of two of the kids killed her when all three children were home that night.  Numerous fundraisers are either planned or underway, like a four-day bottle drive which began yesterday.  100-percent of all proceeds will go directly to Kristen’s Angels, the foundation for her children.

The American Civil Liberties Union or ACLU just released a report that found across the country police are tracking cars using automatic license plate readers.  And that information is being kept for months or years.  Vermont State Police says some 40 different departments across the state use the readers.  The ACLU of Vermont wants to make sure it's not abused.  As you drive around a camera mounted on the back of a police car might capture your license plate and see if it's on a hot list for potential problems.  The automatic license plate reader not only records the plate, but the time and GPS location.  A new law in Vermont just went into effect this month says the information can only be kept for 18 months.  

A missing Shelburne man has been found safe.  Police say 33-year-old Robert Cosman left his home with camping gear over the weekend and hadn't been seen since.  His truck was found abandoned off Route 14 in Randolph, prompting a widespread search.  But yesterday afternoon, police say Cosman was found at a gas station in Manchester.

It’s full-speed ahead for a Trader Joe’s grocery store in South Burlington.  The Development Review Board has approved the application for the first Trader Joe’s in Vermont, which will be built on Dorset Street next to another grocery, Healthy Living Market.  Trader’s Joes will anchor one of South Burlington’s City Center entrances, and construction could begin as soon as next month.

Home Care Workers in Vermont will vote on which union to join in September.  The State Labor Relations Board has September 9th as the election date.  The decision followed a series of three-way meetings between the Service Employee International Union (SEIU), the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the Labor Relations Board.  There are roughly 7,000 home care workers in the state.

The State hopes to set insurance rates for the health care exchange by next month.  In less than six months, more than 100,000 Vermonters will be required to purchase health insurance plans on a state-run exchange, called Vermont Health Connect.  But the premium rates for those plans, and the details of the plans that will be available on the market, are still unknown.  State health care officials say they hope to have all that information ready for the public by August.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

WVTK Local & State News July 17, 2013

With another day of above-90-degree temperatures, New Englanders are being asked to conserve power, especially in the afternoon and evening.  More and more people are keeping their fans and air conditioners on, and electric companies are saying if customers conserve power now, heat-related brown-outs later will not be necessary.  Green Mountain Power is making the request, along with I-S-O-New England, the power grid operator for the region.  Both say it’s a way to keep supply and demand in balance, with the heat wave not expected to break until the weekend.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin is urging IBM to make public the number of employees it laid off last month at its Vermont facilities.  And the governor says if he and his lawyer conclude the Vermont Public Records Act requires it, his administration will release the number whether IBM wants to or not.  IBM doesn't make layoff numbers public. It reported them to the state, but is telling Vermont officials the number is commercially sensitive and exempt from disclosure under the law.  Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan is asking IBM to explain its position on the law by noon tomorrow. 

The Vermont attorney general’s office is warning about scam lottery letter being mailed to Vermonters.  The letter from Trans Financial Company- Lottery & Resource Management typically says the recipient has won $250,000 in a sweepstakes.  The letter says the company is working with New Bedford Symphony Orchestra Entertainment and lists a number of businesses with addresses in the U.S. and South Africa.

Vermont State Police are searching for an unidentified man who robbed a convenience store on Route 103 last night.  Police say at 9:30 p.m. a man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and gray T-shirt entered the Mac's Convenience Store in East Wallingford and demanded money from the register.  Investigators say the clerk complied and the robber fled the store with an undisclosed amount of money.  No customers were in the store at the time of the robbery.  Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call state police.

A Hinesburg teen arrested for making meth at his parents' home has accepted a plea agreement.  Police say Jacob Berino was injured when his makeshift meth lab exploded last October. He was later arrested on federal drug charges.  According to court documents, Berino has agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to manufacture narcotics.  He remains jailed while awaiting sentencing.

Amtrak's Ethan Allen line is now letting people bring their bikes on board.  Café cars are being fitted for bikes to let passengers bring their own wheels when they head north to take advantage of the biking trails.  It's a limited time offer, and Amtrak will use this time to gauge demand for this program on other lines.  Bicycles on Board is also available on lines from Boston to Portland and New York to Charlotte.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

WVTK Local & State News July 16, 2013

Physicians and health experts are warning people about the signs of overexposure to the Sun.  Be sure as a possible heat wave looms ( 3 or more days over 90 degrees qualifies) that you take steps to hydrate an avoid direct exposure to the sun as much as possible.  Any outdoor activities should be done when the Sun is not at its strongest, generally between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.  Pets should not be left in a car for even a single minute under these conditions and anyone who sees a pet left in a car should not hesitate to call 911.

Police have arrested an Addison County man who they say is responsible for a number of burglaries in the area.  Last Night, they arrested 21-year-old Codey Paquin of New Haven.  Police say he's responsible for a string of copper and jewelry thefts in the area, including stealing about $6,000 worth of jewelry from a house in Monkton and stripping about $5,000 worth of copper from two houses. 

Two missing teenagers are back home safe and sound after being reported missing a couple of days ago.  The missing persons were identified as 16-year-old Dylan Hickey and 18-year-old Mikayla Ellis, both of Sudbury.  Both teens have been located and are in good health.  The have since been returned to their parents.  They were found at a family members residence in Pittsford.

An inmate who escaped from a prison work crew has been recaptured.  Vermont State troopers say Mindy Champagne took off last Friday while working along Green Bush Road in CharlotteChampagne was serving time for forgery and petit larceny.  Police say Champagne was found last night in the Old North End of Burlington and returned to prison.

The state of Vermont is telling a U.S. House panel it has every right to set up a state health insurance exchange and require individuals and small businesses to purchase their health coverage through it.  State officials wrote to the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to rebut a charge from Republican members of that committee that a mandatory exchange violates the Affordable Care Act.  The committee points to language in the health overhaul law saying it won’t require people to get their health care through an exchange.  Vermont officials are arguing that states are still free to impose that requirement.

A Vermont prison inmate accused of sending threatening letters to President Barack Obama and Governor Peter Shumlin has been sentenced to over four years in federal prison.  22-year-old Dakota Gardner sent the letters last year while incarcerated on a 2009 assault charge at the Southern State Correctional Facility in SpringfieldGardner said when he wrote the letters, he was about to get out of jail, and figured he would be put back in prison if he made the threats. He said he didn't have the control to be out in the community.

New England’s power grid operator is asking customers to conserve electricity during the heat wave.  ISO-New England earlier today asked for voluntary conservation.  They say power is adequate, but supplies are likely to become tight.  ISO-New England suggests customers reduce electricity, particularly between noon and 8 p.m.

Monday, July 15, 2013

WVTK Local & State News July 15, 2013

In an effort to reduce crashes and discourage impaired driving, Vermont State Police have launching Operation Sober Summer.  Just this past June, there were 26 deaths in 25 crashes on Vermont roadways.  In June of 2012, Vermont had 40 deaths in 35 crashes.  Based on this data, the campaign will have patrols in high-crash areas and increase enforcement of aggressive driving laws.

Those opposed to the proposal of basing F-35 fighter jets with the Vermont Air National Guard are asking for more time to collect public comment.  The time frame, which started May 31st is scheduled to end today.  May 31st was when the Pentagon released a revised environmental impact statement concerning basing the louder and faster jets at the guard’s base at Burlington International Airport.  Opponents say this is the only base being considered where so many residents are affected, and it’s not fair to cut off time for public comment.

Four people were arrest for drugs over the weekend.  A search warrant revealed 102 bags of heroin at a house in Clarendon late Sunday night.  Authorities arrested 22-year-old Demetrius Earle, 23-year-old Benjamin Earl of Clarendon, and 20-year-old Kristi Sawyer of Rutland, as well as an unnamed subject.  More than $1,200 in cash was also found at the residence.

Fire investigators said a fire that destroyed a home on Mead Road in West Rutand was accidental and mostly likely due to a failure with a power strip device.  Police said firefighters reported the fire Sunday afternoon and found heavy smoke and fire coming out from a front window.  Damage to the residence was extensive and will most likely result in a total loss.  Police said the homeowners were not home at the time of the fire. 

The Vermont Health Department has advised several people in the Rutland area to leave their homes within a week because of high pesticide levels used to treat bedbugs.  The state suspended the license of Cary Buck of AAA Accredited Pest Control in North Clarendon, who's accused of spraying homes with a kind of pesticide that’s been banned from indoor use since 2001.  So far, five homes have tested positive for the banned pesticide.  The Environmental Protection Agency says high levels of exposure can cause dizziness, nausea and confusion. Buck says he hasn't used the pesticide since it was banned for indoor use.

It’s a dirty business, but someone had to do it, and they had fun at the same time.  The 20th annual mud volleyball tournament over the weekend in Rutland was a huge success, and a big fundraiser for the Epilepsy Foundation of Vermont. Thirty-two teams meant 350 mud volleyball players getting down and dirty Sunday.  The clean result, though, was ten-thousand dollars raised to help families affected by epilepsy.

Friday, July 12, 2013

WVTK Local & State News July 12, 2013

Farmers are being urged to document the damage their farms suffered after an unprecedented rainy period left parts of some farms underwater and saturated fields across the state. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin and Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross say the federal Farm Services Agency is expected to request an emergency disaster declaration, but that won't happen until after crops are harvested in the fall.

There is a happy ending for a missing girl in West Rutland.  Police say family members were worried when the 14-year-old left home.  They said she suffers from severe asthma and didn't have her medication with her.  Police used dogs and helicopters to search for the teenager Thursday night.  She was found and is at home safe.

At a public hearing yesterday, the majority of people who spoke out say, the town of Middlebury should step back and consider long-term community needs before seriously considering a new municipal building and a gym.  The proposal say Middlebury College would contribute $5.5 million toward the estimated $7.5 million project, which calls for the town to demolish and remove the current municipal building and gym and give that parcel to the college, which would turn it into a park.  The community would also be responsible for moving the Osborne House from its current location to a town-owned parcel at the intersection of Cross and Water streets.  And then that piece of land would be used for the new municipal building.  Most of the selectboard says this is a win for the tax payers.

IBM is expected to release the totals from the latest round of layoffs tomorrow.  State officials say preliminary estimates are that more than 300 people are losing their jobs at Big Blue’s facility in Essex Junction.  That figure is based on the number of people showing up at state-run seminars on seeking new work.  All of the layoffs will be final today.

Authorities have issued a warning about an advertising scam which claims you can make money for placing a company logo on your vehicle.  The Lamoille County Sheriff's Department says the scheme popped up on Craigslist.  The fraudulent promotion claimed Pepsi would pay drivers 300-dollars a week to put the company's logo on your vehicle.  But police called Pepsi and confirmed the ad was fake.  Authorities say never respond to online ads before verifying the promotion with the company.

South Burlington police are looking for a robber who stole cash from a register.  Police say at about 9:40 last night, the man pretended to buy a pack of gum at a Shell station on Shelburne Road.  When the clerk opened the register, he reached over the counter, grabbed money, and fled the store.  If you know who he is, you're asked to call South Burlington police.  This is similar to robberies this week in Essex and Colchester, and police are looking into whether they're connected.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

WVTK Local & State News July 11, 2013

While Vermont leads the nation with enrollment of three and-four-year-olds in pre-kindergarten classes, it’s about to become easier for more to join the ranks.  Governor Peter Shumlin says thanks to grants, 12 Vermont communities will receive about 800-thousand dollars’ worth of student aid funds.  Right now, a year of pre-K can cost parents as much as eight-thousand to ten-thousand dollars.  Those qualifying for state subsidies and provider scholarships, however can save as much as six-thousand.

State health and agriculture officials are increasing their monitoring of the population and movement of mosquitoes in the Brandon area.  They hope to be more proactive against the spread of the mosquito-borne diseases Eastern equine encephalitis, or EEE, and the West Nile virus.  State Health Commissioner Harry Chen was addressing a crowd last night at the Brandon Town Hall, where state officials unveiled an updated plan on how they will monitor mosquito movement and determine risk of exposure to humans and other mammals.  More information regarding EEE and the West Nile virus and the work being done to monitor mosquitoes can be found at

The fight against domestic violence is getting a major financial boost in Rutland County. The community was selected to receive a 2-hundred thousand dollar grant from the Department of Justice. The money will be used to track domestic violence cases, with the ultimate goal of preventing homicides or severe assaults. Rutland's police chief says he sees some of the highest percentages of temporary restraining orders issued, but some of the lowest numbers of permanent orders.

The Winooski City Council is saying “No” to the F-35’s.  The Air Force wants to base the newer, faster and noisier jets at the Vermont Air National Guard base in South Burlington.  However, the council voted unanimously Thursday to send a letter to the Pentagon asking for the planes to be based somewhere else.  On Monday, the South Burlington City Council voted three to two to support basing the planes in Vermont, reversing its decision a year ago to oppose the F-35’s.

A Winooski police officer has been indicted by a grand jury for shooting a mentally ill man.  Police say Corporal Jason Nokes and another officer confronted Isaac Sage while investigating a trespassing call.  Nokes said Sage became combative. Sage was shot in the leg after officers tried to arrest him for assaulting them.  Sage was deemed insane at the time of the incident.  If convicted, Nokes could face up to 17 years in prison. Nokes is slated to be formally charged later this month.

The Rutland Police Department has a new sergeant.  Gregory Sheldon was promoted this week. He joined the Rutland Police Department 14 years ago.  He developed and manages the Police Cadet Program and worked to revitalize the department's Hostage Negotiation Team.  Sgt. Sheldon will be a commander on the night shift.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

WVTK Local & State News July 10, 2013

It took 4 times, but voters in Brandon have passed a spending plan for the fiscal year that started on July 1st.  The nearly $149,000 in cuts made by town officials to the budget got the approval of voters yesterday when they passed the over $3-million municipal spending budget, 516-399.  This was the fourth time that the budget was presented to voters.

Officials with Vermont’s health and agriculture agencies are planning to discuss a new plan to react to the threat of mosquito-borne viruses.  State officials plan to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services office to track and respond to cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile virus.  Officials will share the details of the plan with the public tonight in a meeting at the Brandon Town Hall from 5 to 7 PM.

Police in Monkton are investigating a break-in in which the burglar made off with thousands of dollars in cash and jewelry.  Authorities say someone broke into the home of a 71-year-old woman Tuesday afternoon and got away with more than 2,000 dollars in cash and close to 3,500 dollars in coins and jewelry.  If you you have any information you're asked to call police.

Someone picked the wrong senior to try to scam.  According to State Police, an elderly man living in Dummerston says he received a telephone call from someone trying to get money from him.  The caller said the man’s great-grandson was in jail, and the man needed to go to a Western Union location to wire bail money.  He didn’t fall for it, but promptly called State Police instead.  Vermont State Police are asking for anyone else getting a similar call to notify them.

Weybridge residents will be asked in September to weigh in on possible uses of a $475,000 in insurance reimbursement money the town has received after the embezzlement case involving former Town Clerk and Treasurer Karen Brisson.  Weybridge Selectwoman Gale Hurd said the money must be earmarked for municipal projects, and not for schools.  Residents could also recommend returning all or a portion of the funds to taxpayers by lowering the municipal property tax rate.

Senator Bernie Sanders is continuing to push for moving the interest rate on federal student loans back to 3.4 percent, reversing its doubling to 6.8 percent as of July 1st.  Speaking on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Sanders read excerpts from emails from Vermonters who were either still in school or out in the workforce and struggling to pay off their loans.

Vermont is joining 14 other states and cities in calling for the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt proposed new rules calling for big cuts in pollution from vehicles by 2017. The standards would cut smog-producing emissions from vehicles by 80 percent and soot by 70 percent. Attorney General William Sorrell said the so-called Tier 3 standards will cut air pollution emissions by an amount equivalent to taking 33 million of today’s vehicles off the road.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

WVTK Local & State News July 9, 2013

Elm Street in Middlebury will be closed today between North Pleasant Street & Seymour Street to replace a sewer line.  The street must be closed to connect the new sewer line with the Town's sewer main which is under the paved section of Elm Street.  There will be traffic control personnel at each end of the closed section to assist with traffic.  You can expect the street to be closed between 7 this morning and 5 o’clock this afternoon. 

Police are looking for the man behind a stabbing in Benson.  Investigators say William Tyler showed up at the Castleton Family Health Center yesterday with a stab wound to his stomach.  The hospital notified police.  Investigators began questioning Tyler, who said he was stabbed at his Benson home during a fight with 40 year old Tia Maher of Castleton.  Police believe after the incident Maher got on a bus in Rutland City and skipped town.  If you know where he is you're urged to call State Police.

A Pittsford man stood in court yesterday and pled not guilty to charges that he murdered his long-time girlfriend.  Police were called to the home of Christopher Sharrow and Kristen Parker Friday after neighbors reported screaming.  Investigators say one of their 3 children, a 7-year-old witnessed the crime.  Sharrow is now being held on 750-thousand dollars bail.  The three children are staying with relatives. 

Supporters and opponents of the F-35 Fighter Jet coming to Burlington turned out in South Burlington and Winooski last night to try and sway city councilors their way.  In South Burlington, the City Council reversed its decision on the F-35s, voting 3-2 to support the jet being based at the Burlington International Airport.  Councilors in Winooski remained neutral on the issue.

The Middlebury selectboard today will hold an “open forum” on a $7.5 million plan to build new town offices and a new recreation center.  The forum will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will be held in the Russ Sholes Senior Center in the lower level of the current municipal building at the intersection of College and South Main streets.  The regular selectboard meeting will follow, at 7 p.m., at the same location.

Fletcher Allen Health Care is now Vermont’s largest private employer.  The latest stats show the hospital employs 71-hundred people, a significantly larger work force than the I-B-M plant in Essex Junction which recently laid off possibly as many as several hundred workers.  Word is expected this week on the extent of the latest round of layoffs at I-B-M.

Those being let go by IBM are getting some more help from the Vermont Department of Labor.  There will be another rapid response session this Thursday followed by a job fair next week.  Both will be held at the Sheraton on Williston Road in South Burlington.  The rapid response session will include workshops for writing resumes, interviewing skills, and financial advice.  There will be two available times 9 to 10:30 and 10:30 to 12 p.m.  The job fair will be held on Monday, July 15th, from 9:30 to 2:30 p.m.

After almost 14-years of service, Weybridge Selectwoman Gale Hurd has announced that she plans to retire from the board, effective October 10th.  She joined the board in 1999 after having retired as victims’ advocate with the Addison County State’s Attorney’s Office.  Her civic résumé also includes a 13-year stint on the Weybridge Elementary School board.  Hurd, said, “I’m going to be 70 (later this year), and it’s time to make way for the young whippersnappers.”

Monday, July 8, 2013

WVTK Local & State News July 8, 2013

Officials with Vermont’s health and agriculture agencies are planning to discuss a new plan to react to the threat of mosquito-borne viruses.  State officials plan to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services office to track and respond to cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile virus.  Officials will share the details of the plan with the public on Wednesday in a meeting at the Brandon Town Hall from 5 to 7 PM.

A Bristol man drowned on Thursday.  A 26-year-old Bristol man was swept away while swimming in the New Haven River between the twin bridges on Route 116 north of Bristol village.  Members of Middlebury Technical went out into the water Thursday afternoon in an attempt to locate the victim, but according to a VSP statement, a violent rainstorm forced them to suspend operations due to dangerous conditions.  Officials recovered the body at 10:15 Friday morning.  The victim was identified as 26-year-old Steven Orvis of Bristol.

Two Vermont cities are holding public meetings to discuss potential noise problems from a proposal to base F-35 fighter planes at the Burlington International Airport with the Vermont Air National Guard.  The meetings are being held tonight in South Burlington and Winooski.  The South Burlington City Council voted last year to oppose the new fighter jets while Winooski has remained neutral.  The South Burlington Meeting starts at 6 o’clock at Chamberlain Elementary School.  The Winooski meeting will be at 6:30 at City Hall.

A man in Pittsford is in court today to answer to charges of second-degree murder.  Christopher Sharrow is accused of killing his girlfriend early Friday morning, with the couple’s three children home at the time.  Neighbors called 911 after hearing loud screams from what they thought was a family fight, and troopers forced their way in, finding the body of Kristen Parker.  The three children, all younger than eight, are now under the care of other relatives.

High water levels in Lake Champlain are causing some concern after days and days of rain in Vermont.  Water levels usually are highest in April and recede throughout the summer until the end of the year and then increase during March.  This year, Lake Champlain water levels have been steadily going up.  The National Weather Service says lake shore properties should keep an eye on the water levels over the next few weeks and watch out for any flood warnings.

More than 200 volunteers are going to be monitoring Lake Champlain this summer for signs of blue-green algae blooms.  Heat and low winds encourage growth of the toxic blooms. Peak season for them is in August.  Authorities say boaters, swimmers, water-skiers, waders and pet-owners should avoid contact with blue-green algae. Children are at higher risk because they are more likely to drink the water.  The volunteers have been trained by the Lake Champlain Committee which, along with the Department of Environmental Conservation, assists with surveillance and sample collections.  They also are working with the state Health Department.

WVTK Local & State News July 8, 2013

The record rainfall has caused near flood stage on waterways statewide; causing fast moving and dangerous swimming conditions.  Officials with the Vermont Department of Health, urge everyone who plans to swim in a river or stream to use extreme caution.  Officials say the dangerous waters also present safety issues for the rescue workers.  During the past few days, they have been called out more than five times.  And with more rain possibly on the way, officials say to be safe, just don't go swimming in the streams or rivers.

Rivers and streams are not the only concern right now; Lake Champlain is approaching flood stage too.  Water levels usually are highest in April and recede throughout the summer until the end of the year and then increase during March.  This year, Lake Champlain water levels have been steadily going up.  The National Weather Service says lake shore properties should keep an eye on the water levels over the next few weeks and watch out for any flood warnings.

Danilo Lopez was supposed to be deported from the United States on Friday, July 5.  He's still here.  Lopez was given the chance to apply to stay in the U.S. on the very day he was supposed to voluntarily deport to Mexico.  He's been in the U.S. for 6 years, and has a lot of supporters from Vermont senators to other undocumented workers.  He's well known after he fought to get legal driver's licenses for undocumented farm workers in Vermont.  His legal status was discovered after a traffic stop in 2011, and he's been fighting to stay in the country ever since.  It will take 10 to 14 days for Lopez to find out if he can stay in the U.S.

Vermont Gas is taking issue with a recent study that its proposed Addison County pipeline would increase greenhouse gases.  The company was responding to allegations raised by the Conservation Law Foundation that they failed to account for methane emissions leaked during the lifecycle of natural gas.  The Company, in a filing to the Public Service Board, said CLF's report failed to take into account the emissions of greenhouse gases from the production, refinement and transportation of oil.  Despite concerns from some activists, State officials continue to support the effort.  The Public Service Board is expected to begin hearings on the project in September.

A South Burlington man is jail after leading police on a high speed chase.  According to reports, 22-year-old Michael Brooks was not wearing a helmet and sped through several red lights and drove on sidewalks from Airport Drive to the roundabout in Winooski before he was captured when his bike stalled out.  Brooks now faces a slew of charges, including possession of a stolen motorcycle.

A Bristol man drowned on Thursday.  A 26-year-old Bristol man was swept away while swimming in the New Haven River between the twin bridges on Route 116 north of Bristol village.  Members of Middlebury Technical went out into the water Thursday afternoon in an attempt to locate the victim, but according to a VSP statement, a violent rainstorm forced them to suspend operations due to dangerous conditions.  Officials recovered the body at 10:15 Friday morning.  The victim was identified as 26-year-old Steven Orvis of Bristol.

Officials with Vermont’s health and agriculture agencies are planning to discuss a new plan to react to the threat of mosquito-borne viruses.  State officials plan to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services office to track and respond to cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis and West Nile virus.  Officials will share the details of the plan with the public on Wednesday in a meeting at the Brandon Town Hall.

Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be in Vermont this week to assess damage from recent flooding in various parts of the state.  The FEMA team will be making stops in Chittenden, Washington and Windsor counties tomorrow and may add Lamoille and other counties to the list, depending on what the weather does between now and then.  State and local road crews have been scrambling to repair numerous road wash-outs during the storms of recent weeks.

The Town of Plattsburgh plans to use a $690,000 bond to move two pending projects forward.  Town Supervisor Bernie Bassett said $290,000 would be used to purchase over 93 acres of property that includes the Cadyville Recreation Park and surrounding lands from Clinton County.  The remaining $400,000 would be used to acquire the street lights and associated equipment in the town from New York State Electric and Gas.

Winooski residents will have their say on the F-35 tonight.  The City Council is holding a public forum on the Air National Guard's bid for a new fleet at 6:30 p.m.  The meeting is in the Claire Burke Chamber at City Hall.

Rutland Regional Medical Center is cutting jobs to save money.  The hospital hopes to lose about 100 jobs through attrition. About 12 workers could be offered reassignment.  It blames $4 million in federal cuts to Medicare reimbursements.  Rutland Regional is also outsourcing its IT department.

A man in Pittsford will be in court today to answer to charges of second-degree murder.  Christopher Sharrow is accused of killing his girlfriend early Friday morning, with the couple’s three children home at the time.  Neighbors called 911 after hearing loud screams from what they thought was a family fight, and troopers forced their way in, finding the body of Kristen Parker.  The three children, all younger than eight, are now under the care of other relatives.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

WVTK Local & State News July 2, 2013

An elite crew of wildland firefighters in Vermont is ready to answer the call to head west.  The U-S Forest Service puts out calls across the nation every summer to work wildfires, like the one in Arizona which Sunday killed 19 firefighters.  The 20-person crew in Vermont has been out West on similar fires before, and currently two Vermonters are out there.  They say they’ve been through the physical and mental training, and know that if something similar happened here, other national crews are ready to come and help.

New texting laws in New York state will crack down on new and young drivers.  People with a probationary or junior license will have it suspended for 60 days, if you're caught.  For subsequent convictions, you could get your license revoked for up to 6 months.  This goes into effect immediately. 

Lake Champlain has had enough, literally!  The lake is now just inches away from being at flood stage.  It’s currently at 99-point-2 feet, with flood stage at 100 feet.  Water is already pouring over the edge and slowly taking over the King Street Dock.  Meteorologists says the lake is currently about three feet over what it should be this time of year. The timing could not be worse, because it could impact the tourism season, the time when the lake is used the most.

A proposed increase to DMV fees in New York has been defeated by the Essex County Board of Supervisors.  The extra fees would have helped with the up-keep of the county's roads.  But now, the supervisors are back to the drawing board to find ways to increase revenues to offset property taxes.  The 2014 shortfall is estimated at between $6 to 8 million for Essex County.

Furloughs from federal cuts will mean less pay for Vermont National Guard members starting next week.  The Guard's 500 full-time members lose one day of work a week from July 8 to the end of September, effectively cutting their pay by 20 percent.  Vermont's adjutant general says the cuts won't effect the Guard's ability to respond to an emergency.

Rutland City Police are warning residents to keep a close eye on their vehicles after close to a dozen tires were slashed in the city’s southwest neighborhood Sunday night.  Police say that starting at about 9 p.m. Sunday and continuing into Monday, police received complaints from residents on Forest Street and Porter Place.  In the majority of cases, the vandalized vehicles were parked on the curb but a handful were parked in their owners’ driveways.  Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to call city police department.

Vermont’s artisanal cheeses will be on display later this month at the 5th annual Vermont Cheesemakers’ Festival in Shelburne.  Over 40 cheesemakers plan to attend the festival, scheduled for July 21 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Shelburne Farms.  The event features three workshops and cooking and cheesemaker demonstrations. Organizers say over 200 cheeses, wines and specialty foods will be available for sampling and to buy.

Monday, July 1, 2013

WVTK Local & State News July 1, 2013

A coalition seeking to address drug abuse issues in Ticonderoga wants to extend its reach.  The group, which met for the first time in June, is asking concerned citizens to attend a meeting Tuesday, July 9, at 6 p.m. at the Community Building.  Ti-based Prevention Team, a non-profit agency that provides alcohol, tobacco and other drug education and prevention services for Essex County, is assisting the effort.  Officials say, communities across the nation have built Drug Free Community Coalitions and have made real progress in preventing substance abuse on the local level.  The coalition is open to all community members.

South Burlington Police are investigating a series of burglaries that took place early this morning.  Police say a male entered the Hana Japanese Steakhouse just after 1 a.m. and took an undisclosed amount of cash.  Police say the burglar also broke into Wing Over Burlington but took nothing.  Police are looking for a male approximately 5'7" to 5'10" who was wearing an oversized hooded sweatshirt with possibly a skull or face on the front.  Police say they believe these burglaries are related to a suspicious incident that took place at around 1:30 a.m. at Chipotle Mexican Grill.  The male matching the description above tried to enter the restaurant but was scared off by an employee.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the South Burlington Police Department.

It's July 1 and still no deal among lawmakers and that means interest rates for need-based or Stafford Loans have officially doubled.  Millions of American students rely on these Stafford Loans to help them hit the books.  The federal government pays the interest while the students are enrolled in school. When they graduate, they're on their own.  But now, because of delays by Congress, students will see interest rates double on their new student loans.  Rates will rise from 3.4% to 6.8%.

All the rainfall has set a record.  The National Weather Service says May and June been the wettest two-month consecutive stretch in Burlington on record, with a total of 18.6 inches of rain.  The weather service says 8.74 inches fell in May, and 9.86 inches fell in June.  May’s statistic lists the month as the wettest may on record.  The last two-month stretch with the most rain was in 1998, when it rained a combined 17.97 inches in July and August.  It rained a total of 16.55 inches for April and May of 2011.

Ferry service for bikes on the Colchester Causeway has finally re-opened.  Flood damage two years ago shut down the Colchester Causeway Bike Ferry along the Island Line Trail.  It took 545 donations and countless hours of work to put the ferry back in business, and already hundreds of people are using it each day.  The bicycle ferry connects a 200-foot water gap in the three-mile causeway crossing Lake Champlain between Colchester and South Hero.