Thursday, November 21, 2013

WVTK Local & State News November 21, 2013

The biggest challenge for Vermont lawmakers in 2014 is shaping up to be the budget.  The Administration Secretary told members of the Legislature Wednesday they’ve got some major challenges ahead, and that includes a projected budget gap of 70-million dollars.  House Speaker Shap Smith, who organized the briefing Wednesday says money will dominate the session, from property taxes to pension shortfalls to costs for health care.  A clearer financial picture is expected in January.

Efforts to bring back passenger rail service to western Vermont are a big step closer to reality. Earlier today, a special legislative committee authorized the Agency of Transportation to spend federal grant money to upgrade the rails from Rutland 20 miles north to Leicester.  Once the project is complete, all but 12 of the 75-mile stretch between Burlington and Rutland will have been upgraded.  State officials could apply as soon as January for grants to upgrade the final 12 miles.

Gov. Peter Shumlin and other top state officials are in talks with the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant's owners about how to dismantle the site and handle spent fuel after the plant closes late next year.  Governor Shumlin, Attorney General Bill Sorrell, Public Service Commissioner Chris Recchia and others met with high-ranking Entergy Corp. officials yesterday and plan to meet again December 2. It's the first time state leaders have met with the company to discuss decommissioning since the closing was announced in August.

Vermont's Agency of Natural Resources is offering some guidance on the implementation of the state's new recycling law.  The law, passed last year, requires statewide recycling by July 2015 and diverting food scraps from landfills by July 2020.  The agency presented a report to the Legislature today in which it recommends requiring all municipalities to join a solid waste management district; leveling the playing field for all commercial haulers collecting municipal solid waste; establishing a grants/loans program to support private/public sector capital investments; and implementing a "pay-as-you-throw" system.

Senator Patrick Leahy voted in favor of making a change in the U.S. Senate filibuster rules.  A press release says these changes will ensure the Senate's ability to confirm qualified nominees to judicial and executive posts.  Officials say federal vacancies have hovered around 90.  Leahy, the President Pro Tempore and the Senate's longest serving member, presided over the series of procedural votes.

AAA says 43.4 million Americans are expected to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday this year. That's down slightly from last year.  AAA says majority of travelers will be traveling by automobile. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving will be the busiest single day of travel with 37% of travelers departing for trips November 27.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

WVTK Local & State News November 20, 2013

Senator Bernie Sanders wants to see the federal minimum wage go up.  It’s currently 7.25 an hour, and he’s co-sponsoring a bill to raise that to $10.10.  He says the legislation will give a much-needed raise to 30 million Americans, adding it’s something which has to be done.  The U-S Senate is expected to take up the bill soon.

It could any day now for the Public Service Board to give its blessing to Vermont Gas Systems for the first phase of a major natural gas pipeline extension project.  Vermont Gas is so confident, in fact, that its lawyers filed a massive application with the PSB for Phase Two.  That segment would cover a 25-mile expansion from Middlebury south and west through Cornwall and Shoreham and under Lake Champlain to a New York paper mill.  Phase One extends the pipeline from Chittenden County south to Middlebury.

Public safety and school officials from around Vermont are gathering in South Burlington to discuss strategies for keeping Vermont’s educational facilities safe.  Nearly 300 members of local school crisis teams, as well as administrators and first responders, are at today’s daylong Statewide School Safety Conference at the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center.  The event is to provide an overview of school safety issues and crisis response by experts in the field.  Workshops will be held on school safety by members of the Vermont School Crisis Planning Team, and the Montpelier School District crisis team will present a simulated crisis exercise.

Green Mountain Power (GMP) opened its new Energy Innovation Center in Rutland today.  Green Mountain Power says the Innovation Center will help them consolidate their real estate footprint to save millions of dollars for customers.  The facility will house workers from the company and workers from Efficiency Vermont and Neighborworks of Western Vermont, a partnership believed to be the first of its kind in the country.

Vermont Tech successfully launched a satellite into space last night.  A press release says the CubeSat satellite, Vermont Tech's Lunar Lander satellite, was built and programmed at the college.  The satellite will remain in space for 3 to 5 years to test the navigation components.  The info they will gather will be used to potentially send a satellite to the moon.  Vermont Tech is the first college in New England to launch a cube satellite into space.

Burlington officials say a long-planned highway project that would make it easier to get into and out of Vermont's largest city is a big step closer to moving forward.  The city settled an appeal with a landowner this week, and that removes the final obstacle to the proposed traffic route from the end of Interstate 189 on Shelburne Road to Burlington’s South End.  This latest settlement comes less than two months after the city settled another appeal with Vermont Railway. Both appeals involve environmental permits, and while more appeals remain the one settled this week was the last one which could have stopped the project.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

WVTK Local & State News November 19, 2013

Attorney General William Sorrell announced earlier today that his Office, along with the attorneys general of 36 states and the District of Columbia, entered into a $17 million settlement with Google for bypassing security settings on Apple’s Safari web browser back in 2011 and 2012.  Vermont’s share is $467,000.  The attorney general says Google altered settings on users' web browsers so that they could get around privacy settings.  Those actions violated state consumer protection and computer privacy laws.

An elderly woman from Benson is safe and sound after spending the night in the woods.  State police say 78-year-old Francheska Chalizze was last seen at her home at about 11:30 yesterday morning and was reported missing at about 11:30 last night.  State Police searchers along with members of the Benson Fire Department, New England K9 Search and Rescue and others searched for Chalizze throughout the night.  At about 7:30 this morning, Chalizze was located by the crew in a Department of Homeland Security helicopter, just a few miles south of her residence, in the Cold Spring area of West Haven.

Four Vermont schools will be participating in a program designed to get more girls interested in science, technology, engineering and math.  The Vermont Education Agency is providing $2,000 grants for schools in Barre, Essex, Middlebury and Newport to help develop programs that would be shared with other schools.  Educators will receive professional development, technical assistance, and access to ideas from a national network through The National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity.

The Burlington City Council passed some new gun regulations last night.  The council passed two resolutions banning guns from buildings with liquor licenses and requiring safe storage for seized weapons.  However, the council delayed a vote on a resolution that would allow police to take guns from people suspected of domestic abuse.  Public hearings on the other two resolutions will begin in January.  All of these resolutions still need legislative approval.

Police in Burlington are looking for three suspects wanted in a home invasion Monday night.  Investigators say the three men went into the home on Summit Street near Champlain College, showed a gun and made off with property.  No one was hurt, and police are not saying exactly what was stolen.  Investigators also say there’s no reason to think this crime was random.

The Winooksi Police Department is seeking the location of a larceny suspect.  Police say 26-year-old Amber Richer stole about 40 packs of cigarettes while the clerk was distracted at Chuck's Mobile last night.  Richer was captured on surveillance video.  Richer is currently a transient.  Anyone with information on her location is asked to contact the Winooski Police Department.

Monday, November 18, 2013

WVTK Local & State News November 18, 2013

A recent report by Avalere Health, commissioned by Vermont Partners for Health Care Reform says the state of Vermont will need roughly $2 billion in new taxes to support a single-payer health-care program.  The new report echoes the same projection prepared by Ethan Allen Institute of Vermont board member Wendy Wilton.  Both Avalere and Wilton conclude that the Shumlin administration’s estimate of $1.6 billion is too low. 

Police are looking for a man who robbed a convenience store at knifepoint in Rutland.  Police say the man, wearing a bandanna and sunglasses, demanded money from the clerk after entering Mac’s Market on Route 4 at about 9:50 last night.  No one was hurt.  Anyone with information on the robbery is encouraged to contact state police.

The Vermont State Police Rutland Barracks, along with local and county law enforcement officials will be conducting sobriety and safety checkpoints during the Thanksgiving holiday.  This will take place from November 27 through December 1.  A press release says in addition to checkpoints, troopers will be aggressively patrolling and enforcing motor vehicle laws. This includes aggressive driving, speeding, and seatbelt usage.  Police are hoping that the checkpoints reduce the number of traffic accidents and fatalities.

Vermont State Police say a motorist has suffered cuts and bruises after she lost control of her car while going around a sharp curve in Cornwall.  22-year-old Molly Kalter of Groton, Mass., told authorities she was driving on Route 30 around 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon when her car began sliding while going around a curve.  She lost control and the car rolled over twice before landing upright.  She had no passengers.  Kalter was treated at a local hospital for her injuries.

Vermont Congressman Peter Welch was not among the 39 Democrats who voted Friday for a Republican-sponsored health care bill.  President Barack Obama proposed allowing state insurance commissioners the authority to extend current insurance policies for at least a year even if the policies are not in compliance with the Affordable Health Care Act.  The Republican plan allows people to keep that policy as long as they want, and for other consumers to sign up for it if they want it.  Welch called it a bad idea explicitly intended to unravel the Affordable Health Care Act.

The Vermont Health Department is launching a program to distribute an antidote for opium-based drug overdoses directly to addicts.  Within the next few weeks, the drug Narcan will arrive at the Good Neighbor Health Clinic in White River Junction and at the Howard Center in Burlington.  The drug will be distributed directly to addicts, their friends and family.  The project is aimed at curbing drug abuse and enhancing treatment resources.

Friday, November 15, 2013

WVTK Local & State News November 15, 2013

A Rutland man has pleaded guilty to setting fires on Green Mountain National Forest land.  Jack Dickson pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to three misdemeanor charges of setting a fire on national land without authority, leaving a fire without completely extinguishing it and damaging government property.  Dickson was fined $500 for each offense as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.  However, the fines will be suspended on the condition that Dickson isn’t charged again with a federal, state or local crime during a two-year probationary period.  U.S. Forest Service agents and state police arrested Dickson after an investigation into a 6-acre wildfire that burned a section of land in Mount Holly in March 2012.

Its business as usual at Winooski schools today after the superintendent said a call about a shooter in the building was ‘‘a panicked response’’ to a home invasion.  Police received a 911 call yesterday about a home invasion nearby.  Then another 911 call came in from someone who reported seeing ‘‘the shooter’’ from the home invasion inside the school.  More than 75 law enforcement officers went to the scene.  About two dozen students were in the building at the time the school went into lockdown.  No one was hurt.  No arrests have been made. 

The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation is warning Vermonters to be aware of potential scams regarding Vermont Health Connect.  The department says they received reports of fraudulent phone calls made to Vermonters by people pretending to sell health insurance in order to obtain personal information.  The scams are efforts to trick consumers into revealing Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or other personal information under the guise of enrolling them in a health insurance plan on Vermont Health Connect.  The state says the federal government and other states have alerted consumers to watch out for people impersonating people helping consumers obtain health insurance policies.  The helpers, called navigators, are state-approved personnel who have been trained to guide people through the enrollment process.

Hubbardton Forge in Castleton has a new owner.  Bunker Hill Capital, a Boston-based investor announced yesterday it’s purchased the well-known Vermont lighting company.  Hubbardton Forge has been in operation for 40 years, creating hand-forged lighting products for homes and businesses.  Bunker Hill is not saying how much it paid for the Vermont business, but says this became a great opportunity to partner with a U-S manufacturer offering unique products.

The Woodstock victory in the Division III Vermont football state championship will stand.  That’s the ruling of the Vermont Principal’s Association on the appeal made by the other team, Mill River.  It all came over a botched call on the third down in overtime in the game Saturday in Rutland.  If the call had been made correctly, it would have been a turnover resulting in Mill River winning, but instead Woodstock scored on the next play and won.  While the committee hearing the appeal voted unanimously to deny it, members agreed to remain open to looking at whether technology like instant replay can be used appropriately in some capacity.

Vermont’s rifle deer hunting season gets underway this weekend.  Because Thanksgiving is late this year, the firearms’ seasons are later than most years.  The rifle season starts Saturday, one weekend later than normal.  Muzzleloader season begins Dec. 7.  The late bear hunting season also starts Saturday and runs through Nov. 24.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

WVTK Local & State News November 14, 2013

The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation is warning Vermonters to be aware of potential scams regarding Vermont Health Connect.  The department says they received reports of fraudulent phone calls made to Vermonters by people pretending to sell health insurance in order to obtain personal information.  The scams are efforts to trick consumers into revealing Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or other personal information under the guise of enrolling them in a health insurance plan on Vermont Health Connect.  The state says the federal government and other states have alerted consumers to watch out for people impersonating people helping consumers obtain health insurance policies.  The helpers, called navigators, are state-approved personnel who have been trained to guide people through the enrollment process.

The Gold Star Feed and Grain mill in Brandon has closed, but its feed will be manufactured by another supplier.  The mill closed last week and had six employees.  Andrew Dugan, Gold Star general manager, said several factors went into the decision to close, but declined to offer specifics. 

Vermont should have 99-percent broadband Internet coverage by the end of the year.  Governor Peter Shumlin had hoped everyone in the state would have access to broadband by then, but it won’t quite make it.  He says they’ve found solutions for all the addresses in the state, except for three, which he says is pretty extraordinary.  The governor maintains Vermont is going to be the most connected rural state in the country when they get done.

New recycling symbols debuted in Montpelier this week, showing recycling, food scraps, and just plain trash.  Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz says half of what we’re throwing out today can be recycled or composted, and Vermont’s Universal Recycling Law addresses that.  By July of 2015, recyclables are banned from landfills and so are food scraps by 2020.  The new logos will help educate the public on the new program, while companies start working on how they’ll actually be collecting the extra product.

Vermont’s Attorney General wants to see menthol cigarettes banned.  The Food and Drug Administration has already banned all flavored cigarettes, but A-G Bill Sorrell is joining 25 other attorneys general to add menthol to the group.  He sees it as a way of cutting down on younger smokers.  Sorrell expects the FDA to make a decision on the demand within six months.

A South Burlington methadone clinic can stay right where it is, according to a court ruling Wednesday.  The state environmental court ruled the HowardCenter clinic off of Dorset Street can remain open, saying it complies with community zoning rules.  The South Burlington School District had appealed for the clinic’s shutdown because it’s about 500 feet away from the city’s middle and high schools.  The lawyer for the district says the school board could appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

WVTK Local & State News November 13, 2013

A missing teen from Ferrisburgh has been found safe and sound in Burlington.  17-year-old Hailey Rheaume-Fox was at first considered a runaway who had remained in contact with her mother through text messages.  But police became concerned for her safety last week when they received information that someone else had Hailey's phone and was sending those messages.  Yesterday afternoon, police say Hailey called her mother and told her she was in Burlington.  Police took Hailey into custody and turned her over to state social workers.

Police are investigating an armed robbery that took place this morning at the Days Inn located on Shelburne Road.   Police say a woman entered the Days Inn around 5:30, approached the desk, and removed an disclosed amount of cash from the register.  The woman was wearing a half-style ski mask and was armed with a clever shaped knife. The suspect told the clerk she also had a firearm in her pocket.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Shelburne Police Department (802)-985-8051.

More Vermont state employees are under investigation for timecard fraud.  Attorneys for the state's Human Resources Department say they've identified 21 potential cases of padding time cards. Four have been sent to law enforcement agencies for criminal investigation.  Earlier this year, former State Trooper Jim Deeghan admitted stealing more than $200,000 from taxpayers over six years by logging fake hours and tickets.

The latest numbers from the state show 3,138 people have signed up for insurance through Vermont Health Connect.  The state-run health insurance group says more than 13,000 people have created accounts on the website, and 130,000 people have viewed it.  The website has had glitches since its October launch. This caused Governor Peter Shumlin to push back the insurance deadline from January to March.

A man accused of trying to kidnap a 14-month-old baby in Burlington says he didn’t do it.  Andrew Barrows was in court yesterday and pleaded not guilty, but a judge still ordered him held without bail because he has a pending sexual assault charge from earlier this year.  Guilty verdicts in either case could earn Barrows, who is 24, a life sentence.  Police say they believe Barrow was drunk when he tried to snatch a stroller with the baby in it away from the child’s parents at the corner of North and North Prospect Streets.

A young man is pleading not guilty to driving drunk and causing the death of his friend.  Police say 21-year-old Justin Pierce was drunk and speeding when he lost control of his car which crashed in Woodstock.  22-year-old John Ferrero was a passenger in the car and died.  Pierce appeared in court yesterday to enter his not guilty plea, and is now free on conditions but due back in court next month.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

WVTK Local & State News November 12, 2013

Vermont State Police are asking for your help in finding a missing elderly man.  88-year-old Robert Shaw was last seen yesterday at his home in Whiting.  Investigators say Shaw is currently on medication for dementia and a heart condition, plus he has mobility issues and is unsteady on his feet.  He’s believed to be driving a silver 2008 Lexus with a partial Maryland registration, and anyone seeing Shaw is asked to call State Police.

Some Middlebury College students are holding a vigil this Thursday for typhoon victims.  Middlebury College says the vigil will take place in front of Mead Chapel at 5 p.m.  The Philippines Red Cross reports at least 1,200 dead and more than 618,00 people are displaced from their homes and communities.

Governor Peter Shumlin, Vermont Association of Hospitals and Systems and other hospitals announced a partnership to promote and expand participation in Vermont Health Connect today.  A press release says 18 hospitals have agreed to participate.  Shumlin said. “This is a first step toward controlling increases in health care costs, and ensuring everyone had access to quality, affordable coverage.”  

The Vermont Air National Guard has some night flying training operations on tap for this month, with the first one being tonight.  Two multi-aircraft takeoffs after dark are scheduled, with all F-16’s on the ground and all operations completed during normal operating hours of the Burlington International Airport.  Training will run from tonight through Friday night, November 15th, and next Tuesday the 19th through Friday, November 22nd.

The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train will again visit the area, this time bringing holiday cheer on a holiday.  Decorated in holiday lights and carrying a live musical show, the train is scheduled to pass through the North Country on Thanksgiving, Nov. 28.  The train will arrive in Ticonderoga at 3:15 p.m. and stop in Port Henry at 5 p.m. Times are approximate.  This will be the eighth year the train will stop in Ticonderoga. It has stopped in Port Henry the past seven years.

A report from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy says Vermont has dropped two spots and now ranks seventh in the country on energy efficiency.  Vermont gets high marks for electricity and natural gas efficiency programs.  But because Vermont's rural nature makes mass transit relatively difficult, it loses points for transportation.  Vermont also lags behind national leader Massachusetts on developing combined heat and power projects.

Monday, November 11, 2013

WVTK Local & State News November 11, 2013

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin and state and federal electric utility officials are going to be announcing what they’re calling a first-in-the-nation federal partnership for Next Generation Solar energy.  Shumlin will be joined by officials from the Vermont Electric Cooperative and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, as well as other policymakers, representatives from Vermont’s Congressional Delegation and others, to announce details of the partnership.  Shumlin has made alternative energy a hallmark of his administration.

A horse is recovering but it took a lot of people yesterday to rescue it from mud.  The horse in Williston managed to break through its fenced area and somehow became mired in four feet of mud, all the way up to its belly.  Several departments with more than 30 people were called out, and after several hours and the careful work of a mini excavator the horse was freed.  The animal is older, in its mid-twenties, and is being monitored by veterinarians but appears to be okay.

With holiday shopping around the corner, downtown Rutland is doing better than ever.  Occupancy in downtown businesses remains high, with the numbers continuing to climb as more than 90-percent of storefronts are filled.  That’s quite a change from about 25 years ago when occupancy was down to about 65-percent.  The executive director of the Rutland Downtown Partnership says while restaurant business has always remained steady, the big surge of retail stores is a big help.

The man accused of stealing 50 iPads from the Winooksi School District was sentenced on Friday.  A press release says 22-year-old Charles Ring of St. George pleaded guilty to felony charges of burglary and unlawful mischief.  He was sentenced to 2 years.  In July, Ring broke into the Winooski Educational Center and stole the iPads.  Ring was also ordered to pay restitution for any uninsured losses suffered by the school district.

Vermont is cashing in on a major consumer fraud lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson.  The Justice Department alleged the company used illegal marketing tactics and kickbacks to persuade physicians to prescribe anti-psychotics.  Vermont will get $1.4 million from the $1.2 billion settlement.

The Vergennes American Legion Auxiliary is collecting Shaw’s Supermarkets stamps for acquiring Rachael Ray Dinnerware.  For every 20 stamps collected a free Ray dish may be selected from Shaw’s. All dinnerware collected will be donated to the Northfield Veterans Home.  The Veterans Home is transitional housing for previously homeless veterans.  All veterans who successfully graduate from the program then move into apartments within their communities.  Stamps may be dropped off at Post 14 or mailed to American Legion Auxiliary, 100 Armory Lane, Vergennes, Vt. 05491

Friday, November 8, 2013

WVTK Local & State News November 8, 2013

The Vermont State Police are still looking a missing Ferrisburgh teen.  17-year-old Hailey Rheaume-Fox was first reported missing October 11. Since the time of her disappearance it was believed she was in the Burlington area with friends avoiding police; and Hailey was believed to be in contact with her mother through text messages, since running away.  New information received from friends indicates that Hailey may not be in possession of her cell phone and the text messages may not have been from her. Hailey may also be traveling to and from New York City and Massachusetts areas.  The Vermont State Police urge anyone with information about Hailey's whereabouts to please contact them at 802-388-4919.  Or submit an anonymous tip by texting "CRIMES" (274637) with keyword: VTIPS or online at

Nurses at Porter Hospital have voted to unionize.  The nurses voted 72-58 to form a union and join Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, AFT Vermont.  Because 16 of the votes cast were challenged by one side or the other and thus not counted, the National Labor Relations Board will hold hearings to determine the final tally.  A press release today say the registered nurses of Porter Medical Center reported that they have organized their union "to empower and protect" patients and the profession.

Green Mountain Power is alerting customers that more attempts to scam GMP customers over the phone have been reported recently.  The caller claims to be representing Green Mountain Power and requests the customer to pay their account balance by releasing credit card information to the caller.  The caller also says that the customers’ electric service will be disconnected if they do not comply.  GMP officials say this is definitely a phone scam.  Green Mountain Power follows very clear state rules when working with customers about paying past due bills and they do not demand credit card information or alternate payment mechanisms from a customer for any purpose.

Tomorrow, Vermont Health Connect navigators will be hosting statewide public outreach and enrollment events.  These events are designed to help people enroll in VT Health Connect, the state’s new health insurance, and answer any questions people might have about the program.  VT Health Connect Navigators will be at the following locations in our area: Community Health Centers of Burlington from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Community Health Centers of the Rutland Region from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife is warning people not to release aquarium fish into the state’s waterways.  The warning came after a non-native clown knife fish was found dead in a central Vermont pond.  Fisheries Biologist Shawn Good says it’s likely the 17-inch fish had been someone’s pet, but it outgrew its aquarium and was released.  The clown knife fish is a native of Southeast Asia and it cannot survive temperatures below 55 degrees.  People who release aquarium fish can be subjected to $500 fine.  If a dangerous fish were released it could have required biologists to kill all the fish in the pond to keep them from spreading.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

WVTK Local & State News November 6, 2013

Governor Peter Shumlin announced a proposal to provide an additional $500,000 annually to strengthen city and town centers across Vermont.  A press release says lawmakers will be asked to approve a 30% increase to the $1.7 million Downtown and Village Tax Credit program. The tax program helps support historic renovation, housing, job creation, and other qualifying efforts to strengthen economic vitality.  The $500,000 proposal would allow the program to fund another 5 or 6 projects per year. If passed, there will be $7.5 million more in investment funds for Vermont downtowns and villages.

Just as the winter season and cold weather kicks in, the cost of natural gas is going down.  Vermont Gas announced a drop in rates which means a six-percent decrease in heating bills for homeowners and business owners alike.  This is the 16th rate reduction Vermont Gas has sent on to its customers in five years, thanks to an abundant supply of natural gas in North America.  The rate reduction kicked in last Friday, November First.

The turf wars are over in Hinesburg, literally, now that the voters have spoken.  A one-point-five million dollar bond was rejected Tuesday by voters in Charlotte, Hinesburg, Shelburne and Williston.  The money would have paid for two artificial turf fields at Champlain Valley Union High School.  With the bond turned down by a narrow 113 vote margin, student athletes will continue to use the seven grass playing fields at the school.

According to a report released recently by Coldwell Banker Bill Beck Real Estate in Middlebury, real estate sales during the third quarter of 2013 were robust locally.  Through the first three quarters of 2013, the report noted, the average sale price was $255,805 which is where it was in 2005. 

A new methadone clinic has opened in Rutland.  It is called West Ridge, and it will be serving Rutland and Bennington Counties.  Methadone clinics are designed to help people who are addicted to heroin and other opioids.  Some neighbors have concerns about having the clinic in their area, but police say there is nothing to worry about.  West Ridge is the fourth of five methadone clinics to open in the state.

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife says hunters contribute $292 million to the state’s economy every year.  The state says a survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Census Bureau determined that hunters spend $39 million on travel, $190 million on equipment and $62 million on other items.  Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Patrick Berry says hunting is also especially important because much of it occurs after foliage season and before skiing and the spending takes place throughout the state, including in the state’s most rural areas.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

WVTK Local & State News November 5, 2013

More fuel companies are dropping out of the Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.  Eight companies representing eleven different dealerships are out because of a new pricing system in place.  That leaves about 14-hundred Vermont households which qualified last year for fuel assistance scrambling to find a new dealership.  An estimated 28-thousand 600 households in Vermont will be looking to the program for help in keeping their homes warm this winter.

The Air Force will announce any day now if the Vermont Air National Guard will receive the controversial F-35 fighter jets.  Last night more Burlington citizens took the opportunity to speak out either for or against the F-35 at the City Council meeting.  It wasn’t as big a crowd or as raucous as the one last week, but they still were able to have their say.  Opponents to the noisier jets had complained they were kept from speaking last week, something city leaders deny.

Vermont State Police and other law enforcement agencies are teaming up for drunken driving and safety checkpoints later this month.  A concentration of the check-points is planned for Caledonia and Essex Counties on Wednesday through Sunday over the Thanksgiving weekend.  There have been 40 fatalities on Vermont highways so far this year, with more than half involving people who did not buckle up, and a third caused by impaired drivers.  The aggressive effort to ensure safety and sobriety will also have officers checking child restraints and other motor vehicle laws.

The Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce will join the rest of the nation for Small Business Saturday.  The fourth annual event will be held Saturday, Nov. 30, and will feature local businesses offering specials to holiday shoppers.  Small Business Saturday falls on Thanksgiving weekend, between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when most holiday shopping begins.  For more information on the Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce go online at or “Like” them on Facebook or follow them at TiconderogaADK on twitter.

Checks are being mailed out to some Vermont propane customers this month as part of a lawsuit settlement with the nation’s largest propane dealer.  AmeriGas was slow to respond to a new law requiring dealers remove their tanks and refund customers within 20 days if the client changes dealers.  169 consumers in Vermont will be getting refunds from 500 to 15-hundred dollars, while more than 800 propane customers will get between 50 and 125 bucks.  The checks will be coming from the state Attorney General’s Office in late November or early December.

The state Treasurer’s office is currently in the middle of their fall outreach efforts to alert Vermonters to search for unclaimed property.  There’s now more than $64 million in Vermont’s unclaimed property fund.  During the last fiscal year, the average claim paid $385 in cash to 13,435 individuals who discovered they had unclaimed financial property.  To find out if there is money owed to you, visit

Monday, November 4, 2013

WVTK Local & State News November 4, 2013

It’s taken a long time, but a methadone clinic in West Rutland will finally open this week.  Local leaders say it’s going to provide some much needed help for recovering addicts who have had to travel long distances each day to receive doses to get themselves off of opiates.  The clinic’s medical director says the medication is part of the treatment, but so is long-term support through 12-step programs as well as access to other programs to help them put their lives back together.

Four Chittenden County towns are planning to vote on a $1.5 million bond that would help fund construction of two artificial turf fields at the high school in Hinesburg.  They would be the first turf fields for Champlain Valley Union High School, replacing grass at two of the school’s seven playing fields.  The total cost of the project is $2.6 million, which would include bleachers with seating for 1,000 people and lights at one of the turf fields.  The towns voting tomorrow are Charlotte, Hinesburg, Shelburne and Williston.

Investigators are trying to determine what started a devastating fire in West Rutland.  Firefighters say when they arrived at the scene on Skyline Drive Sunday morning, the two-story home was already engulfed in flames.  The homeowner wasn’t there at the time, and the fire chief believes the fire started in the garage and strong winds kept them from bringing it under control for six hours.  A state fire investigator was called in but so far there are no signs of the fire being suspicious.

A seven-acre field in Williston is being converted into an outdoor laboratory where scientists and engineers will study the effectiveness of solar panels when used in areas known for bad weather and long, cold winters.  Once construction is complete, the field will accommodate panels capable of converting sunlight into as much as 300 kilowatts of solar power.  The Vermont location, near the popular Taft Corners retail area, will be funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative.  It is one of five similar test locations across the country where solar panels will be tested under different climactic conditions. 

Homeowners in Burlington and South Burlington are being warned to watch out for thieves pretending to be landscapers.  People are calling in to police about people going door-to-door, offering to landscape for free.  Investigators believe landscaping is only being offered if someone answers the door, because otherwise the home is a potential target.  Burlington police say a man described as being about five-foot eight with short, messy blonde hair and a silver jacket may be a suspect and connected to a string of burglaries.

Veterans will be honored during Ticonderoga’s seventh annual “memory walk.”  "On Hallowed Ground, A Veterans Memory Walk at Valley View Cemetery,” will be held on Sunday and 1 p.m. in the west Pine Section of Valley View Cemetery.  The event will conclude with light refreshments served at the Hancock House in Ticonderoga after the program.

Friday, November 1, 2013

WVTK Local & State News November 1, 2013

The Shumlin administration is now rolling out alternatives for the Vermont online health insurance exchange.  Like the national website, the Vermont one has had its own share of glitches, and a test Wednesday night revealed even the expected fixes of major flaws are not working right either.  New options unveiled Thursday allow Vermonters to extend their current coverage until March 31st, and small business owners can deal directly with insurance carriers instead of trying to buy online insurance for their workers.

We could find out as soon as Monday if Burlington will be the new home to F-35 fighter jets.  As you might remember, the Vermont National Guard is one of 6 bases in the running. The Air Force has said it thinks Burlington is one of the top sites.  A final report about the different bases was released last month.  The secretary of the Air Force needed to wait at least 30 days before making his decision.  It could be anytime after Monday.

Millions of Americans who rely on food stamps will soon see a change in benefits.  Starting today, food stamp benefits will be cut.  More than 47-million people currently receive food stamps.  The average benefit per person now stands a little over $133 a month.  That amount will be reduced.  In total, the cuts add up to $5 billion.  

A Vermont man has been arrested after police say he hit a teen girl and left the scene on Halloween night.  Vermont State Police say the crash happened when a 13-year-old girl was crossing Route 110 in the Town of Washington.  29-year-old Christopher Roberts of Washington, hit her with this truck just after 7 p.m. and then fled the area.  Roberts is facing two charges, including leaving the scene of an accident and careless and negligent operation.  She suffered some bumps and bruises and is otherwise, recovering fine.

New unemployment claims increased for the third time in the last four weeks, but still only to a historically modest level. For the week of October 26, 2013, there were 656 new, regular benefit claims for Unemployment Insurance in Vermont. This is an increase of 161 from the previous week's total, and 134 fewer than they were a year ago.

Another transmission project is being proposed to link hydro-power in Canada with consumers in southern New England, but this one would travel 150 miles through Vermont, and would be entirely underground or underwater.  It’s called the New England Clean Power Link, running from Southern Quebec and buried on the bottom of Lake Champlain before traveling to Ludlow where it would plug into the New England Grid.  Transmission Developers Inc. is the developer for the project, with the money coming from private investors.