Wednesday, December 11, 2013

WVTK Local & State News December 11, 2013

Gov. Peter Shumlin is continuing to say he didn’t know the extent of problems with the Vermont Health Connect insurance exchange website until after Labor Day.  That’s despite numerous warnings beginning in the spring from a company brought in to review development of the project about problems with the website, and its urgings that the highest levels of state government be notified.  Shumlin told a news conference earlier today he’s tried to be transparent about problems with Vermont Health Connect.

Voters in Vergennes said “Yes” to both a proposed natural gas pipeline and a bond for improvements and repairs at Vergennes Union High School.  Vermont Gas says the first phase of the pipeline from Colchester to Middlebury will extend availability of natural gas to 98-percent of homes and businesses in Vergennes.  The final vote margin in Vergennes was more than two to one in favor of the pipeline.  As for the bond, people in the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union voted for the $2.8 million dollar bond.  The funding will go towards constructing a new kitchen, work to the cafeteria and the auditorium.

A woman attached by a bobcat last week in Putnam is recovering.  According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the bobcat attacked the woman after she went to bring in her dogs after noticing the animal near her home.  The woman was able to get away from the bobcat and call family members for help.  A press release says an Emergency Conservation Officer took the bobcat from the person who killed it.  The bobcat tested positive for rabies.  State environmental conservation officials say bobcat attacks on humans are extremely rare.

Vermont has dropped to the second healthiest state in the country, after Hawaii, in a national ranking.  America’s Health Ranking 2013 was released today.  The Health Department says Vermont, long ranked as the healthiest state, had the highest rate of high school graduation and the second lowest rates of violent crime, premature death and the percentage of people who lack health insurance.  Vermont also ranked high for its rate of obesity at 23.7 percent and diabetes at 7.3 percent.  But the state ranked low in its childhood immunization rates, a statewide outbreak of whooping cough and a greater prevalence of high-risk or binge drinking.

Vermont has reclaimed its title as the top state in the country for the production of Peace Corps volunteers.  In rankings released today by the Peace Corps, Vermont reclaimed the top spot in the country that last year was held by the District of Columbia with Vermont second.  The same rankings found New Hampshire was third.  The top Peace Corps volunteer producing metropolitan area of the country is Ithaca, N.Y., followed by Burlington.  There are currently 49 Vermonters serving as Peace Corps volunteers across the world.