Wednesday, August 14, 2013

WVTK Local & State News August 14, 2013

Despite a recent arrest, Vermont State Police are trying to find out who is responsible for all the break-ins being reported in Addison County.  More than a hundred homes have been burglarized this year.  A key arrest was made August 1st when authorities recovered a lot of stolen goods in the Addison home of 37-year-old Raymond Ritchie, with belongings returned to 23 of the more than 100 victims.

A federal appeals court has agreed with the U.S. District Court of Vermont that state laws geared toward closing the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant are pre-empted by federal law.  The appeals court agreed that the state had tried to close Vermont Yankee out of concerns over the radiological safety of the nuclear plant.  Those safety issues are under the jurisdiction of the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  The appeals court, however, did say Vermont was within its rights in trying to tie a new state permit for the plant on favorable prices for buying power from Vermont Yankee.

Vermont is cracking down on people who steal precious metals.  Thieves have been stealing jewelry made of gold, silver, copper and other metals at alarming rates.  Under a new law, second-hand jewelry stores and pawn shops must document any sales over 25 hundred dollars and hold those items for 10 days.  A state trooper who fought for the law says drug addicts have chosen metal theft and sales as a favorite way to get cash.  Before the new law, these items could be melted right away and become nearly impossible to trace.

Funding has been awarded to Rutland to identify more effective ways of dealing with domestic violence.  Rutland is one of 12 cities selected by the U-S Justice Department for the funding, and will receive 200-thousand dollars.  Rutland City Police Chief James Baker will help lead the study over the next year, looking at the steps from arrest to prosecution to corrections to see what works and how to identify the degree of ongoing danger for a victim.

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department says a bat researcher skilled at caving helped rescue an injured man from a cave in Weybridge last week.  The department says Joel Flewelling was among the first rescuers to reach the man, who had fallen and broken his ankle on Aug. 6.  Flewelling is a volunteer for Vermont Cave Rescue Network, a group of cavers who are experienced at safely navigating the state’s caves.  The man was pulled to safety after spending 14 hours in the cave, which is believed to be the largest in Vermont.  The department says Flewelling frequently goes into Vermont caves in winter to survey hibernating bats and had just finished a course on cave rescue several weeks ago.

State revenues were about on target for the first month of the new fiscal year.  Vermont's general fund was just short of the target of $103.5 million.  That's about $11 million more than July 2012.  Income tax didn't hit its goal either, but transportation fund revenues were up by about 15 percent thanks to gas tax hikes enacted in May.  Officials say it's too early to make any predictions about the state's financial health.