Monday, August 5, 2013

WVTK Local & State News August 5, 2013

Governor Cuomo announced a new initiative today that would suspend driver licenses of tax delinquents who owe more than $10,000 in back taxes.  A press release says the Tax Department is sending the first round of 16,000 suspension notices to delinquent taxpayers, who then have 60 days from the mailing date to arrange payment with the Department. Failure to do so, the Department of Motor Vehicles will send a second letter providing an additional 15 days to respond. After that, the person's driver's license will be suspended until the debt is paid or a payment plan is established.

The Middlebury College Solar Decathlon team unveiled its solar home Saturday.  The house was designed and built by the student lead team.  The Solar Decathlon competition is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and takes place every other year.  This team from Middlebury College is one of 20 teams from around the world who will showcase a completely solar powered home in California later this year.  More than 100 Middlebury College students, from 25 different majors teamed up to build the 954 square foot home.

Unless some regional power line projects are either scaled back or canceled customers are going to face higher and higher transmission costs.  That’s the warning from the operator of the state’s electric grid, the Vermont Electric Power Company.  VELCO says as the growth of distributed, solar energy systems eases the strain on the grid, so some of those expensive projects could be avoided altogether.  VELCO predicts more increases like the one Green Mountain Power recently requested are coming, and the region needs to take a hard look at just what projects are truly needed.

Vermont’s largest hospital is seeking approval to increase its budget by nearly 5 percent.  Fletcher Allen Health Care wants to raise an additional $44 million next year to cover operating expenses and new health reform initiatives, add 282 full-time positions and begin planning for a new building.  The proposals have been submitted to the Green Mountain Care Board, which has set a 3 percent cap on the budget growth it allows for hospitals.  Hearings are set for the end of the month. 

The Vermont Health Department is getting a $10 million grant to help combat substance abuse among young people.  The 5-year federal grant will be used to help identify, reduce and prevent alcohol and illicit drug dependence and abuse through early screening and intervention.  The project is focused on people between 18 and 25, who have lower incomes, less formal education, who are less likely to access behavioral health services, and have a high rate of alcohol and drug abuse.

The Crane Mountain Valley Horse Rescue in Westport has just celebrated a major milestone, 10 years of working with animals.  During their first 10 years, they have helped hundreds of horses find new homes.  CMVHR is a not for profit organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing of horses in need, and to offering community education and outreach programs to teach kindness, respect, and responsibility to help prevent neglect and abuse.  For more information on the work they do, visit their Facebook page or website at