Wednesday, December 31, 2014

WVTK Local & State News December 31, 2014

Governor Peter Shumlin has released more details on why he will not move forward on single payer healthcare in Vermont. He says it would have cost $4.3-million in the first year of operation. Shumlin says the government financed healthcare system would have covered more than 500-thousand Vermont residents. It would have covered all state residents except those on Medicaid or military benefits, and those who work in Vermont but live in other states. Shumlin says well over $2-billion in new taxes would have been needed to fund the program.

The Ripton man charged with robbing the Rite-Aid on Court Street in Middlebury on Sunday has plead not guilty. Police say 40-year-old Michael Maheu handed the pharmacy clerk a note demanding narcotics. He then made off with 30 prescription pills. According to reports he turned himself in to police on Monday and pleaded not guilty in Rutland criminal court yesterday. He was held for lack of $5,000 bail. Maheu was ordered to start a drug treatment program within seven days of his release.

Minimum Wage works in both Vermont and New York are getting raises. In the Green Mountain State, the minimum wage will increase to $9.15 an hour starting tomorrow from the current rate of $8.73 an hour. While workers in the Empire State got a raise starting today from $8 to $8.75 a hour. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

A fire last night destroyed a house in Brandon. The blaze on Cram Road started at about 8:30 p.m. No injuries were reported. The people that were inside the home at the start of the fire got out in time. Fire crews from Pittsford, Proctor, Salisbury, and Whiting helped knock down the fire. Crews were still at the scene this morning making sure there were no more hot ambers. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

WVTK Local & State News December 30, 2014

Police in Middlebury have arrested a Ripton man in connection with a robbery at the Rite-Aid on Court Street. Authorities say 40-year-old Michael Maheu handed a note to the pharmacy clerk around 5 pm on Sunday demanding narcotics. He then left the store on foot with an undisclosed amount of pills. Maheu was cited yesterday for assault and robbery.

Residents in Middlebury will have a chance to give feedback on the proposed budget at a public hearing before the town votes March 3. The public hearing will take place at the Select Board’s special meeting at 7:15 p.m. January 20 in the town office conference room. Copies of the proposed budget are available at the town’s website, or by calling the town manager’s office.

Starting Thursday, January 1, consumers in the Empire State will no longer be able to dispose certain types of electronic devices in landfills, waste-to-energy facilities, in the trash, or at the curbside for trash pickup. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) says you have two options on how you can dispose electronic devices. They include using a Manufacturer's Takeback Program or going to an Electronic Waste Collection Site. The NYS Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act requires manufacturers to provide free and convenient recycling of electronic waste to most consumers in the state.

Vermont State Police say they will be out in force on New Year's Eve. Police want everyone to slow down, designate a driver and be sure to buckle up. Law enforcement around the state will conduct sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols. The special holiday enforcement started on December 10 and ends Thursday. In 2014, there were 44 fatal crashes on Vermont roads. A dozen of them involved drugs and alcohol.

Gov. Peter Shumlin says he will not be campaigning in the days leading up the special January 8 vote in which the Legislature picks Vermont's next governor. Shumlin won the popular vote in a close election on November 4, with 46.4 percent to 45.1 percent for Republican Scott Milne. Since neither got a majority, the race goes to the Legislature to decide. Shumlin said earlier today that he is not worried about the outcome of the vote and believes lawmakers should follow precedent and chose the one who received the most votes.

Monday, December 29, 2014

WVTK Local & State News December 29, 2014

Investigators have ruled the deaths of 2 people in Moriah on Saturday as accidental. According to reports 28-year-old Barry Raymond of Ticonderoga and 50-year-old Stephen Welch died of carbon monoxide poisoning due to smoke inhalation during a fire at a residence on Route 9N. The owner of the property returned home at 5:45 Saturday Morning to find the structure engulfed in flames. Police say the man went inside and found Raymond collapsed and removed him from the home. The man then went back inside to get Welch, but had to leave after becoming overcome by smoke. Both Welch and Raymond died in the fire. Fire officials say the fire is under investigation, but they believe the fire was accidental.

Vermont State Police are investigating an armed robbery at the Shoreham Service Center. The robbery happened at around 8:40 last night. Police say a man entered the store, brandished a handgun, and demanded all the money from the drawer. After receiving an undisclosed amount of cash, the man fled on foot toward Lapham Bay Road. A police K9 was able to track and recover some evidence, but the man was not captured. Police say additional evidence was collected at the store. Anyone with information is asked to contact Vermont State Police at 802-388-4919.

After almost 43 years of producing electricity, the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is off the New England energy grid. The plant announced that is ceased operations at 12:12 p.m. this afternoon, at the end of its 30th operating cycle. Plant owner Entergy Corp. says it is closing the plant for economic reasons. The plant employed more than 600 people when it announced it would close. The workforce will be cut in half after a round of layoffs and retirements on January 19.

Police in Middlebury say a robber targeted two Middlebury pharmacies yesterday. Authorities say a man walked into the Rite Aid pharmacy around 5 p.m. yesterday with a note demanding narcotics. After getting the drugs, police say he then fled on foot. The suspect is described as a white male, 5'10", average weight, wearing a black jacket with a green hooded sweatshirt. Police obtained surveillance from a Kinney Drugs where they say the suspect also entered. Anyone with information is asked to call the Middlebury Police Department.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

WVTK Local & State News December 23, 2014

Middlebury has selected a new Fire Chief. Town Manager Kathleen Ramsay made the announcement that David Shaw has been appointed as chief with a one-year probationary period. Shaw has a lot of experience with the department including 12 years as a captain and he has been the assistant chief since 2001. The current chief, Richard Cole is retiring at the end of the month.

Vermont's food pantries need donations to meet rising demand for the holidays. Governor Peter Shumlin highlighted the need for donations during a visit to the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf in Burlington yesterday. Shumlin says the food shelf is 50-thousand dollars behind on its fundraising goals. He says that food donations are helpful, but the financial donations will be most helpful at this time.

A small earthquake was reported in the Adirondacks this morning. According to the United States Geological Survey, the magnitude 1.4 earthquake was recorded about 18 miles southeast of Tupper Lake at 6:40 a.m. The Adirondack region is one of the most seismically active areas of the Northeastern United States thanks in part to a series of small fault lines around the area.

The Neshobe School is offering incentives for a group of teachers to retire who have reached the top of their pay scales. According to Jeanne Collins, superintendent of the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union, eight teachers have salaries in the $70,000 range because they all have high levels of education and experience.

A Bristol Police Officer is being honored for his quick work to help a suicidal woman. Chief Kevin Gibbs says Sgt. George Crowe noticed a message on the department's Facebook page earlier this month describing another woman's post about her plans to kill herself. Crowe immediately began working with the woman who had reached out to police to locate the distressed woman and ensure she was safe. A letter of commendation for Crowe was presented at the Bristol Board of Selectmen's meeting last night.

Monday, December 22, 2014

WVTK Local & State News December 22, 2014

A Middlebury man was severely injured in a car accident in Whiting. State police say 24-year-old Todd Brigham was traveling on Route 30 just before midnight Sunday when he hit a tree. Authorities say the impact of the collision split his Kia Rio in two. Brigham was taken to the hospital with a fractured neck. Authorities say he was not wearing a seat belt. The crash is under investigation.

Vermont's 2015 Hunting, Fishing, Trapping Lawbook is available where licenses are sold. A press release says the Lawbook has news laws, 2015 season dates, two free fishing days, a state map showing Wildlife Management Units, the species of fish found in lakes and rives, contact information of Fish & Wildlife personnel, and other information. A digital version can be found on the Vermont Fish & Wildlife website. Click on “Law Enforcement and Game Wardens” on the top right of the home page.

A prisoner at the Marble Correctional Facility in Rutland is facing charges after allegedly being found with heroin. Charles Keefe was found with dozens of small pouches of heroin during a routine search on Friday. Officials say it's unclear how Keefe was able to obtain the heroin while incarcerated. He's charged with possession of heroin and transporting drugs into a place of detention.

The Vermont Student Assistance Corporation will offer free financial aid workshops at local high schools in January. A press release says students and families can learn more about the college financial aid process and guidance when filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA Form. Workshops in our area will take place on January 8th at Vergennes Union High School at 6:30 pm and at Mount Abe on January 14th, also at 6:30 pm. Information on VSAC’s college planning resources can be found at

The Auxiliary Bishop of Indianapolis has been appointed the 10th Bishop of Burlington in Vermont. The Reverend Christopher James Coyne was appointed today and will be formally installed as pastor of Vermont's 118,000 Catholics on January 29th.

Friday, December 19, 2014

WVTK Local & State News December 19, 2014

Vermont Gas is raising the projected cost of Phase I of the Natural Gas Pipeline again. The cost was projected at $86-million almost one year ago. Back in July the cost estimate was increased. And now officials at Vermont Gas say the project will cost an estimated $33-million more for a total of $154-million.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, has expanded their damage assessment to 12 Vermont counties for last week's winter storm. The added counties include Addison, Caledonia, Essex, Grand Isle, Orange, Rutland, Washington, and Windsor. The initial assessment included Chittenden, Franklin, Lamoille, and Orleans counties. A press release says the agency will review the counties and see if they could qualify for federal disaster assistance following the response and recovery from the storm. In order to qualify for federal assistance, Vermont must show at least $1 million in damage.

Supporters of a single payer healthcare system in Vermont are upset that Governor Peter Shumlin has abandoned the concept. Shumlin announced this week that the plan is off the table because it's not affordable at this time. Supporters took to the lawn of the Statehouse yesterday to speak out against Shumlin for abandoning his signature issue. Republicans piled on as well, saying he waited until after the election to scrap the plan.

A judge is ruling that murder charges can be pursued by the state against Joshua Blow. The Shelburne man is accused of killing two-year-old Aiden Haskins earlier this year. Blow told police that the boy's injuries were accidental, but prosecutors argue that they were intentional. The defense had asked that the case be dismissed for a lack of evidence, but that motion was rejected.

2 Secret Santas payed for all the layaways at a Vermont Toy Store. On Wednesday, some customers received a call from the Toys R Us in Williston that their items on layaway were paid for and ready for pickup. Their bills were paid for by 2 Secret Santas. One, walked in the store and paid off 1 order for $94. Another paid for the 19 others over the phone. That totaled $4,150. The “Layaway Angels,” as some people call them, also regularly visit the Kmart in South Burlington. Already this year, between 10-20 people have come forward to make someone else's holidays, just a little bit better.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

WVTK Local & State News December 18, 2014

The Middlebury Gym has been cleaned up and is ready for use by the public once again. Last week the gym was turned into a shelter for use by people without power due to the winter storm. Sometime early Saturday afternoon, some teenagers took advantage of the unlock doors and caused a large amount of damage. Soda had been dumped on the basketball court floor, and a coating of chips and other food layered on top, creating a sticky mess. The teen center downstairs had racial slurs on the walls. The lift machine that is used to repair ceiling lights was also damaged. Officials say there were holes punctured in the tank, causing about 4 gallons of hydraulic fluid to leak out onto the floors. The floors themselves cost about $600 to clean-up. Middlebury Police say the case is still under investigation.

A private assessment of how Vermont handles child protection cases says workers need to be better trained and more focused on their priorities. The report by Casey Family Programs comes after the death of two toddlers who were known to the state's Department for Children and Families. Former DCF Commissioner Dave Yacovone asked Casey to review department practices following the death of 2-year-old Dezirae Sheldon of Poultney and 15-month-old Peighton Geraw of Winooski.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has launched a border wait time app for both Apple and Android devices. A press release says the app provides estimated wait times and open lane status at land port of entries. Wait times are broken down by lane type. Travelers can download the free app from Apple's App Store and Google Play.

Allen Prue is sentenced to life in prison for the murder of St. Johnsbury teacher Melissa Jenkins. However, the judge refused to sentence Prue to life in prison without parole, so he could earn his freedom down the road. Prue apologized to Jenkins' family at the sentencing hearing yesterday, but again denied killing her. Prue's wife Patricia is scheduled to go on trial in March for her role in the killing, although she has recently expressed a desire to plead guilty.

On January 1, 21 states will raise their minimum wage. Vermont and New York are among those states. In the Empire State, minimum wage will increase from $8 an hour to $8.75 an hour. Minimum wage workers in the Green Mountain State will see their income go from $8.73 to $9.15 and hour.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

WVTK Local & State News December 17, 2014

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin announced that he is delaying moving forward with single payer. A press release says a financial report released by Governor Shumlin would require double digit payroll tax on Vermont businesses and up to 9.5 percent public premium assessment on individual Vermonters' income to pay for Green Mountain Care, the statewide public healthcare system. Governor Shumlin acknowledges that the financing plan would be detrimental to Vermonters, employers, and the state's overall economy.

Porter Hospital and the nurses union have reached an agreement on a contract. This is the first-ever contract for nurses at Porter Hospital. Details of the 3-year-pact were not disclosed but will be available once the contract has been ratified, which official say should be in about a week or two.

The Cornwall Selectboard voted last night to table the a negotiated agreement with Vermont Gas Systems regarding the Phase II natural gas pipeline. About 25 people should up to the meeting last night saying the agreement is flawed. The agreement calls for Cornwall to drop its opposition to the project in exchange for Vermont Gas making some substantial financial concessions that would collectively reduce local residents’ property taxes by an estimated 4 percent. You can look at the proposed agreement on the town’s website,

More narcotics charges are being dropped because of lost evidence linked to former Colchester Police Detective Tyler Kinney. Prosecutors say four more cases are being dismissed because of missing evidence, all felony or misdemeanor drug offenses. Kinney was arrested last month on federal charges accusing him of stealing drugs and a handgun from the department evidence locker he managed.

Patricia Prue is offering to plead guilty to the murder of private school teacher Melissa Jenkins in exchange for a life sentence. Prue's offer was revealed yesterday, and is contingent on her being able to communicate in writing with her husband in prison. Allen Prue was convicted of killing Jenkins in October and is scheduled to be sentenced today in St. Johnsbury. A judge says he will not consider Patricia Prue's offer until she undergoes a mental competency exam.

Vermont Health Connect is extending the deadline to sign up for coverage that starts on January 1. The website has a message on it saying, Please note: January 1 will be the default start date if you confirm a plan choice by December 31. If you don’t need coverage in January, please call and request a February 1 start date. The initial deadline to get coverage by January 1 was December 15. Open enrollment ends February 15.

Monday, December 15, 2014

WVTK Local & State News December 15, 2014

Most of the lights are back on after utility crews from across the region spent the weekend working to reconnect power to Vermont customers. Governor Peter Shumlin toured the state's hardest hit areas in a utility company helicopter on Saturday. At the height of last week's storm, more than 100-thousand homes and businesses were left in the dark. State officials say the power situation was worse from this storm than Irene and the ice storm of 1998.

The State of New York has passed a new law making it illegal to pierce or tattoo your pet. The new law signed signed this morning by Gov. Andrew Cuomo takes effect in 120 days. There's an exception in the law for is marking done under a veterinarian's supervision for a medical reason or identification. The exceptions, for example, would be for pets like a cat which was spayed by a vet and given a little green mark to show it. Cuomo says penalties for violations range up to 15 days in jail and fines up to $250.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders says he will introduce legislation to break up large Wall Street banks. Sanders says his proposal will come in response to the weekend vote on a spending bill that he says weakened the 2010 Wall Street reform law. Sanders says it's now time to break up the too-big-to-fail banks so they can never again destroy jobs, homes and the life savings of the American people.

Vermont's snowmobile trails open for the season tomorrow. State Police are advising people to familiarize themselves with the rules and state laws that apply to snowmobiling before heading out this season. Anyone over the age of 12 must pass a snowmobile safety course, and their machine must have a working head and tail light. Operators are required to wear a helmet and protective eye wear, and police say snowmobiling while intoxicated will be strictly enforced.

There will be an early dismissal for students in the Ticonderoga Central School District and St. Mary’s School this Friday, December 19. The dismissal times for the Elementary School are 1:05 p.m. Middle School 1:10 p.m. St. Mary’s School 1:15 p.m. and the High School at 1:20 p.m. Students will return from the holiday break on Monday, January 5.

Friday, December 12, 2014

WVTK Local & State News December 12, 2014

The Lazarus Building in Middlebury will be demolished on January 19. Officials had considered tearing down the structure this month but decided that the work would disrupt the downtown area too much during the busy holiday season. Once the building is gone, the property will become a pop-up park and the staging area for a major project to replace the Main Street and Merchants Row railroad overpasses with a concrete tunnel. That project is expected to start in the spring.

A Ferrisburgh man will spend four to 15 years behind bars for promoting child porn and violating his probation. Scott Cota was sentenced yesterday. According to court documents, Cota posted about 90 ads on Craigslist looking for "taboo material." That's how police say he connected with other people around the country trading explicit images of kids.

A federal grand jury is handing up a formal indictment in the case of former Colchester Police Detective Tyler Kinney. The indictment charges Kinney with three counts of heroin distribution, along with firearms trafficking and theft. Kinney was arrested last month after he allegedly developed a heroin addiction and began providing drugs and a gun to a fellow drug user. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

Governor Peter Shumlin says $ 7.3 million of what is expected to be $33 million four year federal grant will be used to expand access to quality early education for Vermont children in need. Shumlin and other officials spoke at a press conference in an early education class in Burlington yesterday. Shumlin also said that by the end of the grant Vermont will be serving 70 percent of all 4-year-olds at or below 200 percent of the statewide poverty level.

A judge is rejecting convicted killer Allen Prue's request to delay his sentencing for the killing of Melissa Jenkins. Prue is facing two life sentences when he goes before a judge in St. Johnsbury next week. Prue was convicted of luring Jenkins out of her home in March of 2012 and killing her. His wife Patricia is also charged with first degree murder and is awaiting trial.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

WVTK Local & State News December 11, 2014

The Vermont State Police wants to remind you to clear all the snow and ice from the roof and windshield of your vehicle. Snow dislodging from a moving vehicles can create an extreme driving hazard for all motorist. In addition, snow and ice covering the windows of the vehicle creates blind spots. You can be pulled over and ticketed for not having your vehicle cleaned off … $162 for Obstruction to driver's view and $134 for travelling with an unsecured load.

Vermont is the second healthiest state in the country. A new report from the United Health Foundation places Vermont only behind Hawaii among the healthiest states in the nation. The report says the state's excellent high school graduation rates, low child poverty and low rates of violent crime all are factors in the state's score. It also indicates that Vermont's obesity rate is seventh lowest in the country, although that rate has risen from eleven-percent to 24-percent since 1990.

Governor Peter Shumlin is praising a decision by Apple to stop offering an app that some Vermont high school students say had been used to bully their classmates. Students at Rutland High School last week launched a petition drive to Apple and the creators of the After School app after they said it had been used to post negative and obscene comments and surveys about some students at their school. Shumlin says he's proud of the students, and pleased their message was heard.

Early child care workers in Vermont will not be joining the American Federation of Teachers union. Earlier this year, the Vermont Legislature pass a law allow early educators to unionize and negotiate a contract with the state. Voting was done by mail. When the votes were counted yesterday, the measure was defeated, with 418 against joining the union and 398 for joining. The union would have represented about 1,300 home child care workers.

Line crews are working around the clock to restore power to all customers. Earlier today there was over 18,000 customers still without power. That number is down from 55,000 on Tuesday Night. Over 200 line works have been brought in from out of state to help fix all the broken lines. GMP officials say it could be tomorrow before all the power restored.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

WVTK Local & State News December 10, 2014

Vermont has been awarded more than $7.2 million, part of $33 million over the next four years, under the Preschool Development Grant Program. This grants program will allow more than 33,000 children to be served in high-quality prekindergarten programs. Vermont was one of 18 states to receive a piece of the $226 million in funding. The latest award is in addition to the $37 million the state received last year to lay the foundation for it's preschool program.

If you haven’t gotten your flu shot, the Vermont Health Department says it's not too late. This is National Influenza Vaccination Week and the Health Department says the flu is spreading in our area. Flu season usually peaks between December and February, and can extend to May. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccine for people aged 6 months and older. Last year about 44 percent of Vermont adults received a flu vaccine.

A state representative and some activists are traveling to Washington in a bid to stop a federal law that would pre-empt states like Vermont from requiring labels on genetically modified foods. Representative Kate Webb, a Shelburne Democrat and a key backer of the GMO labeling bill that passed in Vermont this year, is set to testify today before a U.S. House committee. Vermont's new law aims to make the state the first to require labels on genetically modified foods.

The State of Vermont scored above the national average in the 2014 National Security Preparedness Index (NHSPI). A press release says the index measures a state's ability to protect public health in the event of epidemics, foodborne disease outbreaks, terrorism, and other emergencies. Officials say the Index measures more than 200 areas of preparedness, and they are happy with the results. Vermont scored a 7.8 out of 10 points, compared to the national average of 7.3.

Line workers at Green Mountain Power are working around the clock to restore power to those affected by the storm. Last night there was over 18,000 power outages. GMP says they have 220 line workers currently working to restore power to those still without it. Officials say the storm caused massive damage and repairs could take until Friday.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

WVTK Local & State News December 9, 2014

A fire last night caused the evacuation of a senior living facility in Shelburne. Firefighters responded to Shelburne Bay Senior Care just after 8 o'clock for reports of a fire in a resident's room. They arrived to find the third floor room fully engulfed in smoke. No one was inside. Firefighters then evacuated the entire wing of the building. Firefighters believe a candle likely started the blaze. It's still under investigation. No one was injured during the incident.

The Rutland City Police Department has a new acting chief. Commander David Covell was appointed by the city's police commission. He will take over for Chief James Baker. Baker resigned after three years with the department to take a job with the International Association for Chiefs of Police. Covell joined the department 11 months ago as part of a major overhaul. The former trooper worked for the Vermont State Police for 25 years before taking the Rutland job.

Police are investigating a robbery at Chuck's Mobil Gas Station in Winooski early this morning. The robbery happened at around 1:30 a.m. Police say a man approached the counter and demanded cash. After receiving the money, he fled on foot. The man is described as being white, wearing glasses, a green "AERO" hoodie, blue jeans, and a red banana covering his face. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Winooski Police Department at (802)-655-0221.

A company that wants to bring Canadian power to New England through a new line under Lake Champlain has formally asked the Vermont Public Service Board for approval. TDI New England late yesterday filed documents promising several benefits to Vermont in exchange for the board's approval for a project that would run the length of the lake, and then cut east from Benson at the lake's southern end to link to the New England grid at Ludlow. Among the company's promises: $136 million in power cost reductions, and more than $120 million for environmental improvements on the lake.

Vermonters are encouraged to join the 115th annual Christmas Bird Count. The count begins on Sunday and runs through January 5. A press release says bird watchers will be on the lookout for snowy owls, some types of ducks, and songbirds. In Vermont, there are more than a dozen count areas where bird watchers gather together to conduct the Christmas Bird Count. The dates and contract information for each event are listed on the Vermont eBird website.

Monday, December 8, 2014

WVTK Local & State News December 8, 2014

At a press conference earlier today, Vermont Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Milne said he is not conceding and he hopes that legislators will vote for him, but he is not going to actively ask legislators for votes. Since no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote, lawmakers will chose the next governor at the state of the next legislative session in January. Milne says he thinks he can win if legislators put politics aside.

A New Haven man is facing charges after he allegedly crashed his pickup truck, then reported it stolen. Police say the incident occurred Friday, when 20-year-old Matthew McKinley reported that his truck was stolen. The vehicle was found near his home a short time later, and police determined that the crash occurred before the bogus report. State Police say that McKinley later admitted to the false report, and that he was driving when the crash occurred.

Police in Bristol Vermont are looking for the Grinch who cut power, to an outdoor holiday lights display. According to reports, sometime between December 3 and yesterday someone took a cutting tool to light strands hung on a Bristol home. Police are asking anyone with information on the Burritt Lane vandalism to contact the state police at 802-388-4919 or online at .

The Middlebury Select Board has unanimously approved the Lions Club’s request to plant a new evergreen in Court Square. The Lions Club has put lights on the existing evergreen tree in Court Square for years but due to increasing costs, the Lions recently reached out to the town to explore cost-sharing options for purchasing and planting a new tree in the square. The town staff have identified three locations in Court Square for such a tree and pending identification of any underground utilities, hope to have the tree in the ground this week.

The state is gathering information from the public as it develops a new on-road bicycle plan. The Vermont Agency of Transportation plans to use a WikiMap to collect information about where the public rides and wants to ride. It also will be holding a statewide public meeting tomorrow night using Vermont Interactive Technologies. The information will be used to identify the best corridors for bicycling. The agency says a number of other states have developing statewide bicycling plans including Oregon, Washington, North Carolina, and Colorado.

The Rutland County Sheriff’s Department has announced that they will be conducting sobriety checkpoints around the county during the week of Christmas. Officers will also enforce seat-belt, child restraint and other motor vehicle laws during these checkpoints. All motorists are urged to use a designated driver whenever necessary.

Friday, December 5, 2014

WVTK Local & State News December 5, 2014

Local 22 / Local 44 Meteorologist say we can expect another round of wintry weather tonight and into tomorrow. Similar to earlier in the week, our area will be under snowflakes, rain drops, and things in between! Snow showers will begin tonight around 9 o'clock and last through the wee hours of Saturday morning before mixing with rain and pockets of freezing rain. It does not appear the area will get a lot of sleet out of this system, but some ice pellets will fall. Many areas will change to all rain showers tomorrow, then change back to a rain/snow mix tomorrow evening and ending late tomorrow night.

A Hinesburg man who struck a swimmer with his boat on Lake Iroquois can clear the case from his record by going arrest free for a year. Christopher Thompson pleaded no contest to charges of reckless operation of a motorboat and simple assault yesterday. Jane Marinsky of New York state suffered 13 different fractures in her ribs. Marinsky is a regular swimmer in the lake, and was around 100 feet from shore when she was struck.

International Paper in Ticonderoga has given a large donation to help the St. Mary’s School rebuilding fund. The Ticonderoga plant donated $12,000 to the school. The school is still in the rebuilding process after a September 5 fire severely destroyed the facility. Plant communications specialist Jane Kuhl said the plant decided to use all the money from the current funding cycle as a donation to the school. The check was presented during a meeting and dinner by the company where Kuhl and Neuhoff gave the donation to St. Mary’s Father Kevin McEwan and Sister Mary Dalton, principal at the school.

Passengers and crew are all safe after an airplane taking off from Burlington International Airport struck a bird. The United airplane was headed to Washington Dulles International Airport when it struck the bird 40 miles from the airport. The plane's windshield was badly damaged by the impact, and the plane landed in Burlington without incident 15 minutes later. No injuries were reported.

The Vermont Lottery confirmed today that a couple from Chittenden claimed the $2.45 million Tri-state Megabucks Plus jackpot that was drawn November 19. According to Greg Smith, the executive director of the Vermont Lottery, Ronald and Cynthia Senecal claimed the jackpot.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

WVTK Local & State News December 4, 2014

The deadline for Vermont dairy farmers to enroll in a new price protection program has been extended to December 19. The Margin Protection Program is a voluntary insurance program that enables dairy farmers to protect themselves when prices fall. The program buffers farmers when the difference between milk prices and feed costs falls below an amount selected by the farmer. Minimum coverage costs $100. The deadline to enroll was tomorrow but Vermont's congressional delegation announced earlier today that the date has been extended by two weeks.

Governor Peter Shumlin says he will have a new healthcare financing plan ready by the end of the month. Shumlin's proposal will include single payer benefits and public financing proposals for the state's universal healthcare system, Green Mountain Care. Shumlin has targeted the end of the month for the release of his plan. He says that would give state lawmakers time to review it before their session begins next year.

A report from the group Grassroots Leadership is criticizing Vermont for shipping inmates out of state to serve their time in for profit prisons. The report indicates that in fiscal year 2013, Vermont spent nearly 13-million-dollars to send 500 prisoners to Kentucky and Arizona. The report says the practice is costly to families as well, not just financially but emotionally. Grassroots Leadership is a group dedicated to ending for profit prisons, and they visited the State House yesterday to bring attention to the issue.

After receiving a request from Governor Peter Shumlin, Vermont Gas Systems says it will hold off on filing eminent domain proceedings. Last week the Shumlin Administration sent a letter to Vermont Gas suggesting they should stop eminent domain filings against landowners along the pipeline route, provide a contact list of landowners who have not signed easements, and make copies of all easements signed so far to extend the company’s natural gas pipeline. The letter came four days after the governor’s executive team met with 11 landowners along the pipeline route in Addison County.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

WVTK Local & State News December 3, 2014

A judge has thrown out a lawsuit against the town of Middlebury, the Middlebury College trustees, the publisher of the Addison Independent, and the architecture company Bread Loaf Corp. Middlebury resident, 64-year-old Alpine Bingham alleged that the parties being sued caused “undue influence” in two elections this spring. The first election in question happened in March when voters approved the new Town Office Building Project. After which more than 230 voters petitioned for a re-vote of the project. The second election took place on May 13 and residents passed the bond once again. Bingham has since said that the judge made errors in the decision and he is writing up an appeal.

The fallout from criminal cases handled by suspended Colchester Police Detective Tyler Kinney is starting to take place. Prosecutors were forced to drop felony heroin trafficking charges against two people this week because evidence from the cases has vanished. The cases involved more than 60 bags of heroin that were confiscated during an arrest that are now gone. Kinney was in charge of the Colchester police evidence locker for more than two years before his arrest last month, and is now in a drug rehabilitation center.

The Vermont Attorney General's Office says they are continuing to enforce the state's Home Improvement Fraud statute. The statute protects homeowners who enter in contracts with contractors who do not perform the required work or repay homeowners for down payments. A press release says since January, the Attorney General's Office has had 2 convictions and is currently investigating 5 others for violating the statute. Homeowners can report a complaint of Home Improvement Fraud should contact their local police department and file a report with the Consumer Assistance Program.

Towns across Rutland and Addison Counties will share nearly $100,000 in grants from the state’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development to fund special planning projects within their communities. Clarendon will receive approximately $8,000 to update their town plan, Middletown Springs will receive $7,800 to revitalize their village center, and Middlebury will get about $20,000 to research how to make a Route 7 intersection more pedestrian-friendly. ​

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

WVTK Local & State News December 2, 2014

Vergennes Union High School students will be back in the classroom tomorrow. Last Friday, there was a steam leak from a pipe that caused some damage. Since then officials have been moving equipment and planning on were some classes will be moved to. The building was open to teachers and staff today. Tomorrow all classes and activities will be back to normal schedules.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin is calling for a two-cent increase in the state school property tax rate for the 2016 fiscal year. Shumlin says the increase is needed to offset a projected three-percent increase in statewide school spending. The governor says the projected increase is half of what was put into place for the current fiscal year. Around 30-percent of the state's general fund spending is on education.

The number are in and Vermont State Police were busy over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Troopers investigated 245 crashes over the holiday, with two of them involving a death. State Police also made 19 drunk driving arrests, wrote close to 500 speeding tickets and assisted drivers of close to 200 disabled vehicles. Troopers were forced to cancel several sobriety checkpoints that had been slated for Thanksgiving Eve because of heavy snow.

Supporters of a plan for Vermont to become the first state in the country to enact a single-payer health care system are urging the governor and Legislature to move forward with the plan. 16 groups, including the state employees' and teachers' union, say that the election was not a call to abandon the move to Green Mountain Care, a universal publicly funded system. The Shumlin Administration is scheduled next month to release a funding plan for that effort.

Green Mountain Power is the first utility in the world to receive B-Corporation certification. The certification means the company had to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance as well as accountability and transparency. GMP joins Ben & Jerry’s, Vermont Creamery, King Arthur, and SunCommon along with 17 other companies in the Green Mountain State to receive the B-Corp Certification.

Monday, December 1, 2014

WVTK Local & State News December 1, 2014

Vergennes Union High School students will have another day off tomorrow. On Friday, a steam pipe leak caused some damage. Officials were on hand today doing air quality tests. JoAn Canning, Superintendent of Schools, says classroom re-locations and moving of materials and equipment is taking longer than expected. So all classes at VUHS are cancelled for tomorrow. Students who attend outside school placements will not be provided with transportation but if parents or students can transport, by all means they are encouraged to do so. You can contact the Superintendent's Office if you have any questions or concerns.

Vermont's rollout of universal pre-kindergarten is being delayed by a year. State education officials say challenges with school budgets and establishing rules for the program are causing the delay. The program was supposed to begin in the fall of 2015, but it is now scheduled for one year later. State education officials last week notified school districts to budget for the programs beginning with the 2016-2017 school year.

The Vermont Attorney General’s Office is warning you about a IRS phone scam. According to reports, a number of residents have reported receiving calls from either a recorded robocalls or live phone calls from persons identifying themselves as IRS agents. The caller then threatens legal action if an alleged outstanding debt is not paid immediately. The bogus IRS agent then directs the resident to call another phone number to make an immediate payment by credit card or other direct means of payment. Officials say this is a scam.

Vermont officials are investigating an outage that affected the state's 911 coverage for six hours on Friday. The state did not immediately realize the problem, which was apparently caused by a weather-related fiber optical line failure. While some calls did get through, around 45 callers were not able to reach a 911 operator. The state received a list of calls that didn't get through Saturday and began reaching out to those people.

U.S. Representative Peter Welch is urging farmers to sign up for the new dairy insurance program under the latest Farm Bill. A press release says the last day to enroll in the Margin Protection Program (MPP) is December 5. The program is a federal safety net that's available for dairy farmers when milk prices fall. MPP information is available through: Local FSA offices throughout Vermont, the UVM Extension Service, and online at Farmers who do not enroll by Friday will not have another opportunity to do so until July 2015.

Friday, November 21, 2014

WVTK Local & State News November 21, 2014

A citizen’s board asked to investigate the state’s handling of two toddlers who died after being in state custody says they didn’t do enough to protect them. Earlier today, the Vermont Citizens Advisory Board released a report that said existing policies and procedures at the Department for Children and Families were not followed throughout the system, nor were they adequate. The VCAB report is available on the DCF website at

A business development study of Middlebury says retailers should stay open later. The study is called “The Future of Retail Report” and uses survey information and market analysis to pitch two separate business development strategies to town planners. The Better Middlebury Partnership commissioned the study with the town of Middlebury. The survey reached 1,065 people. 75-percent of respondents say they shop in the general Middlebury area, while 26 percent say they shop online, and 23 percent in downtown Middlebury.

A jury has acquitted a man of trespassing on Vermont Gas property in South Burlington stemming from a May protest. 26-year-old Henry Harris was accused of knowingly trespassing when he entered the building with another protester, walked past the secretary without signing in and headed into "employee only" zones. Prosecutors said the two went to the roof and unfurled a banner. Harris is a member of Rising Tide Vermont, which opposes expansion of the Vermont Gas pipeline.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is continuing his long fight against high-priced prescription drugs, now aiming his anger at makers of generic drugs. Sanders has introduced a new bill to cushion the impact on taxpayers when drugmakers raise prices at a rate greater than inflation. When brand-name drug manufacturers do that, they are required to pay a rebate to Medicaid. Sanders says the same law should apply for generic drugs.

Vermont has completed the successful sale of three bonds totaling 110-million-dollars. State Treasurer Beth Pearce says Vermont has New England's best bond rating, and that favorable position helps attract investors. The sales will fund a variety of capital projects that include school construction and major state building maintenance. It will also help with construction of the new Vermont State Hospital in Berlin.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

WVTK Local & State News November 20, 2014

Jonathan Gruber will no longer be working on Vermont’s healthcare system. A spokesman for Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said that the state will no longer pay the ObamaCare architect. Videos have surfaced over the last week showing Gruber saying the Affordable Care Act passed due to the “stupidity of the American taxpayers”. Gruber’s original contract with the state was worth more than $400,000. He’s already been paid $160,000. Gruber was consulting on policies that will help Vermont move to a single payer healthcare system.

The Mount Abe School Board reviewed the defeat of their $32-million bond request at their last meeting. On November 4, the bond request was defeated by a 2-to-1 margin. Board members came to the consensus that residents just didn’t want to foot the bill for the entire project to make a number of much needed upgrades to Mount Abraham Union High School. They also discussed informing the public more about any future requests, including tours of the current facilities. It was also mentioned that they should look for some grant sources to help offset the costs to taxpayers. The School Board hopes to have another proposal in front of the voters for Town Meeting Day.

An inmate at Marble Regional Correctional Facility in Rutland is accused of receiving narcotics hidden in a pair of sweatpants. State Police say inmate William Castelanno received a shipment of clothes and other personal items that initially passed inspection. However, a later search of his cell revealed an opioid drug that is used to ease the withdrawal effects of heroin. The New York native is facing drug charges and is due in Rutland Superior Court on the charge next month.

The Addison Northwest Supervisory Union is moving. They recently signed a lease to move their headquarters from their current location on Green Street in Vergennes to the Kennedy Brothers Building on Main Street. Officials say the more, which will take place in June, will save the Union about $12,000 a year.

There may be a new millionaire living among us. Vermont Lottery officials announced earlier today that a winning Tri-State Megabucks ticket was sold at the Middlebury Beef store located on Route 7, south of Middlebury. The lone winning ticket matched all five numbers and the Megaball in last night’s drawing. This is Vermont’s second million dollar prize this year, back in April, a $1 million ticket was sold in Putney.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WVTK Local & State News November 19, 2014

Brian Searles is retiring as secretary of Vermont's Agency of Transportation. Searles has been employed by the state for more than four decades, including two stints heading transportation. Governor Peter Shumlin says deputy secretary Sue Minter will be taking over the agency from Searles at the beginning of next year. Searles says the work in the four months after Irene is what he is most proud of from his time in state service.

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is pleased that the Senate has rejected a bill to fast track the Keystone XL Pipeline. Leahy took to the floor of the Senate yesterday to oppose the bill before the vote against advancing the measure to full debate. Leahy says the pipeline is one of the most striking examples of how the nation's thirst for oil is destroying the environment. He says this destruction will continue until a comprehensive national energy policy is established.

Plans to expand Plattsburgh International Airport are taking off. Dirt is being moved adjacent to the current terminal. Crews were out there yesterday. The airport is undergoing a $55 million expansion project that will include new gates and passenger areas to accommodate more people.

State officials say the updated Vermont Health Connect insurance exchange is working much better than it did last year. A new open enrollment period began Saturday, and since then the system has taken in more than 600 new applications and processed more than 3,000 renewals of already existing policies. Vermont Health Connect spokesman Sean Sheehan says the system's performance hasn't been flawless, but he described its improvement over last year as like night and day.

Federal and state officials are holding the third of three public meetings tonight on the efforts to clean up Lake Champlain. Tonight’s meeting is planned for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel in South Burlington. The meetings are part of a yearslong effort to come up with a plan specific. Runoff from farms, wastewater treatment plants and developed properties are among the primary sources of phosphorus, which is blamed for toxic algae blooms in the lake. The battle over runoff has focused on Vermont because the parts of New York state that border the lake have fewer farms and less development.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

WVTK Local & State News November 18, 2014

Middlebury College has named a new president to replace Ronald D. Liebowitz. The Middlebury Board of Trustees earlier today named Laurie L. Patton. Patton is currently the dean of Duke University’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences and the Robert F. Durden Professor of Religion. Patton will take office on July 1, 2015. Liebowitz announced last December that he wished to step down following this academic year. By that time he will have served as president for 11 years and as a member of the Middlebury faculty for 31 years. Liebowitz called Patton a “remarkable scholar whose deep commitment to her field would be an example and inspiration” to students and faculty alike. Patton will be the 17th president of the college, which was founded in 1800, and the first woman to hold the post.

A large turnout is expected for a public hearing on a proposed natural gas pipeline from Vermont to the International Paper Mill in Ticonderoga. Tonight’s night's hearing in Elizabethtown is the only New York hearing scheduled for the proposed 10-inch-diameter pipeline that would run under Lake Champlain. The Vermont Public Service Board has already conducted a number of hearings. In fact, there is another forum tonight at 7 pm at the Salisbury Congregational Church to discuss Phase 3 of the project.

The Vermont man who had been in quarantine after returning from Africa last month has been deemed Ebola free. The Vermont Department of Health says Peter James Italia completed his 21 days of quarantine without any sign of the deadly virus. Italia entered a voluntary government quarantine when he returned from a trip to Sierra Leone and Guinea on October 27th. The state housed Italia in a private home and hired medical professionals to visit him daily and look for signs of Ebola.

The Vermont Student Assistance Corporation or VSAC has released its annual Scholarships Booklet for Vermonters. A press release says the scholarship booklet has a collection of more than 140 programs for eligible students looking to finance college. Students and parents can learn about the application process and requirements at The deadline for these VSAC-assisted scholarships is March 6. Early-bird applications postmarked by February 6 will be entered in a drawing for one of three $1,000 scholarships. VSAC says printed booklets will be available at all Vermont high schools and border-state schools enrolling Vermont students before November 30.

Monday, November 17, 2014

WVTK Local & State News November 17, 2014

The Vermont Attorney General's Office is asking a federal court to uphold the state's law on labeling genetically engineered food. A press release says the state issued a filing last week stating that the court should dismiss the lawsuit against the law. Attorney General Bill Sorrell says, "The state's filing explains why Vermont's labeling law is constitutionally sound." Under the scheduling order signed by the Court, both sides will have an opportunity to submit additional filings over the next few weeks. The Attorney General's Office says a time for oral arguments over the law could be scheduled as early as mid-December. After oral arguments are heard, it will take weeks or months before a decision is issued.

A suspended Colchester police officer facing federal gun and drug charges is out of jail and on his way to a rehabilitation center in southern Vermont. Detective Cpl. Tyler Kinney was released from jail this morning and taken to federal court in Burlington where he was to be fitted with a monitoring device before he heads to the drug rehab facility. Kinney was released despite a request by federal prosecutors that he remain incarcerated. According to reports, Kinney made threats against the man to whom he allegedly provided guns and drugs from an evidence locker. Kinney was arrested last week. His lawyer agreed to GPS monitoring.

The Vermont Health Connect Website is back up and running. State officials took Vermont Health Connect offline in mid-September because it had been plagued with all kinds of problems. After a number of improvements and tests, the site went live on Saturday, just in time for open-enrollment to begin.

A key architect of Vermont's single-payer health system is at the center of a national controversy. MIT professor Jonathan Gruber is under fire for comments he made over the creation of Obamacare. Several videos have surfaced in which Gruber suggests the authors took advantage of an American public too dumb to understand the law. Gruber has also been involved in Vermont health care reform helping to write the report that was used as the basis for Act 48, the law that puts Vermont on course to move to single-payer. And he remains under a $450,000 contract to help develop the financing plan for single-payer in Vermont. Now a number of lawmakers and residents of the Green Mountain State are asking the Shumlin Administration to cut ties with Gruber.

Friday, November 14, 2014

WVTK Local & State News November 14, 2014

Some lawmakers in Montpelier are pushing for Vermont to be the first in the nation with a Carbon Tax. The tax would target big oil companies like Irving. Companies would pay based on the amount of fuel sold in Vermont, and the pollution from that. "Energy Independent Vermont," an environmental group, recently released a study saying such a tax would benefit the state. Those behind the legislation say if the tax started at 9 cents a gallon, and increased to 45 cents per gallon over ten years, over a thousand jobs would be created. That's because the tax would keep more money in Vermont. Matt Cota of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association says the tax will be passed on to consumers, driving business out of state, and hurting border towns.

There is a warning about a phone scam targeting Vermonters. The attorney general says some residents have been getting fraudulent phone calls from people claiming to represent a power company. The attorney general says the crooks then threaten to disconnect service if you don't pay up. Investigators warn the number that shows up on caller ID may be identical to a legitimate power company. If you do get ones of these calls the attorney general suggests hanging up and calling the utility's customer service to verify any claims.

The state of Vermont wants to reunite over 67-million-dollars in unclaimed property to its rightful owners. The state's annual list of unclaimed funds has added eight-million-dollars in new lost money over the last year. State Treasurer Beth Pierce says people should get into the habit of checking the list once a year. The state takes possession of abandoned security deposits, insurance policies, stocks and other financial instruments and publishes the list to help people get their cash back.

The owner of a Woodstock farm is facing animal cruelty charges after more than 20 horses were found malnourished in horrible conditions on the property. Officials say the horses were kept in darkness and isolation at Skyland Farm, and were ordered seized after a veterinarian's examination. The horses have been taken to a shelter, where they are expected to fully recover from the neglect. Farm owner Marjatta Lavin is due in court today to answer the animal cruelty charges.

A judge has ruled that a man convicted of luring a prep-school teacher out of her Vermont home and then killing her will return to St. Johnsbury for sentencing. Allen Prue of Waterford faces a possible life sentence after being convicted in Chittenden Superior Court last month of kidnapping, first-degree murder and conspiracy in the 2012 death of Melissa Jenkins. The date hasn't been scheduled yet. The trial was moved to Chittenden County due to concerns about fielding an impartial jury in Caledonia County. Prue has appealed to the state supreme court for a new trial. His wife, Patricia Prue, has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder in Jenkins' death and faces trial in February.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

WVTK Local & State News November 13, 2014

Police in Bristol are looking for 2 missing teenagers. The first one, 12-year-old Wayne LaRose of Monkton was reported missing Tuesday Afternoon. Now they are looking for 17-year-old Shawn Lussier. Lussier was last seen at the recreation field around 3:30 Tuesday Afternoon. He is 5’ 10”, around 180 pounds, and has brown hair and blue eyes. Police say they do not suspect foul play but they would not say if they believe the cases are related. Anyone with information should call Bristol Police Department at 453-2533.

The state of Vermont has two new vehicles that will help first responders deal with major hazards. The trucks are equipped with specialized equipment that will help with chemical, biological, nuclear and explosives monitoring. The trucks will also be useful in responding to wildfires, and are able to tow other resources to incidents. The heavy duty trucks were purchased with federal homeland security grant funds.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted their annual Youth Smoking Survey. The CDC found nearly 23 percent of high school students and six and a half percent of middle schoolers used a tobacco product in the month prior to the survey. 90 percent of those users are smokers. The survey is being released to coincide with the 39th anniversary of the Great American Smokeout which will be held November 20. Research has shown quitting smoking at any age has health benefits.

The father of a 2-year-old girl who died in February has filed a lawsuit against the state of Vermont and the state Department for Children and Families, saying they breached their duties to protect the child, whose stepfather is accused of killing her. Willis Sheldon of Rutland filed the lawsuit today in Rutland County Superior Court. He's asking for unspecified damages and a jury trial. Dezirae Sheldon of Poultney died after arriving at a hospital with severe head trauma. Records show she had a history of child abuse injuries; her mother was convicted last year of cruelty to a child. Dezirae was in state custody prior to her death; an investigation found miscommunication between agencies. The stepfather has plead not guilty to second-degree murder.

The town of Wallingford is holding a forum to address vandalism tonight. The forum is scheduled for 7 o’clock at the Town Hall. Officials want to once again look at creating a neighborhood watch program and coming up with solutions to vandalism, such as the destruction of a wooden canoe launch at Otter Creek.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

WVTK Local & State News November 12, 2014

Republican Gubernatorial candidate Scott Milne announced today that he will not ask for a recount in the razor-thin race. The announcement came after the Vermont Secretary of State certified the November 4 election results, which show Gov. Peter Shumlin received 46% of the vote to Milne's 45%. He said a recount would not be a good use of taxpayer dollars. Milne did not concede, nor did he say whether he will still pursue the election from the State Legislature. Since neither candidate received a 50% majority, the Legislature will vote on the top three vote-getters in January.

Vermont Gas has announced that they have reached deals with 75% of the landowners along the route of the new pipeline from Colchester to Middlebury. Vermont Gas says they are committed to reaching fair and equitable agreements with every landowner. As for the other 25%, the utility says negotiations continue to make process with some landowners opting for third party mediation.

The four hospital affiliation known as the Fletcher Allen Partners is changing its name to The University of Vermont Health Network. A press release says the partner hospitals Central Vermont Medical Center, the Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital, and Elizabethtown Community Hospital will add The University of Vermont Health Network to their names. Fletcher Allen will now become The University of Vermont Medical Center. A press release says approvals for the changes were approved by the Vermont Secretary of State, the New York State Education Department, and the New York State Department of Health. The rollout of the new identities starts immediately and is expected to take 12 to 18 months.

The Middlebury College Bread-Loaf Campus will be conserved, protected, and remain with the College in perpetuity thanks to the generosity of a Middlebury Graduate. Louis Bacon, from the Class of 1979, along with his foundation, the Moore Charitable Foundation, and the college have established the Bread Loaf Preservation Fund, which will preserve and maintain the Bread Loaf campus and the surrounding forests and fields while also supporting educational programming and recreational activities.

The Shumlin Administration is preparing for more budget cuts. Earlier this year, lawmakers were forced to make $30-million in budget cuts. Now, the latest revenue reports show income tax collections are still falling short and the administration told lawmakers to prepare for another round of across the board cuts.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

WVTK Local & State News November 11, 2014

A Colchester Police Officer has been arrested after a gun and drugs from an evidence locker was found inside his home. Officer Tyler Kinney was arrested last night. Kinney, who was in charge of evidence storage and record keeping at the department, is currently on unpaid leave. Colchester Police Chief Jennifer Morrison says a federal investigation will likely lead to charges by tomorrow. Morrison said she would not provide any more information until after federal charges have been announced.

Price Chopper announced today that they are changing their name to Market 32. A press release says the new brand will change food shopping for its customers by modernizing its stores and offering new services and products. Officials say Market 32 represents the next leap forward for our company. The Market 32 stores will be rolled out this spring.

The Select Board decided unanimously last night to separate Brandon town’s library and senior center funding from the municipal budget. The board said in separate statements that having the library and senior center in their general budget last year forced the board to cut their funding, and placing the two budgets on the ballot as separate line items will benefit all parties. But some in the audience said the measure will make it harder for the separate budgets to pass, and lead to closing the town’s library.

Law enforcement officials say they have written more than 100 tickets since the new hand-free law went into effect. Motor Vehicle Department Commissioner Robert Ide says 130 drivers were pulled over for using an electronic device while driving in October. He says about 70 percent of them received warnings and the remainder were ticketed. Vermont is the 15th state to prohibit all drivers from using handheld cellphones while driving. The fine, including fees, for a first offense is $162.

Both of Vermont's U.S. senators have come out strongly supporting President Barack Obama's call to preserve open access to the Internet and for the Federal Communications Commission to reject rules setting up what critics call fast lanes in cyberspace. The commission has been considering new rules that curtail so-called net neutrality in favor of a system in which companies could pay for preferential access like having their data move at higher speeds than people who don't pay for the privilege.

Friday, November 7, 2014

WVTK Local & State News November 7, 2014

Republican Scott Milne says he won't concede until the Legislature votes on the governor's election in January. Milne and Governor Peter Shumlin are about 21-hundred votes apart, according to unofficial tallies. Because no candidate received more than 50-percent of the vote, the race will be officially decided by the Legislature in January. Since the Legislature is Democratically controlled, most observers believe Shumlin will ultimately prevail.

The FDA has approved the first vaccine for a particularly deadly strain of meningitis. The strain caused two outbreaks at college campuses last year, with about 500 becoming ill. Between ten and 15-percent of victims die. The new vaccine is approved for young people between the ages of ten and 25.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders is proposing legislation to make Election Day a national holiday.
 Sanders says a national holiday would be just one step forward in attempting to strengthen American democracy. He said, “Election Day should be a national holiday so that everyone has the time and opportunity to vote.” Sanders’ legislation will be filed next week when Congress reconvenes.

Two people were killed earlier today in a crash between a car and a garbage truck on Route 15 in Colchester. It happened at the intersection in front of Fort Ethan Allen. Police say the westbound car crossed the centerline and slammed head-on into the eastbound truck. The driver and passenger in the car were both killed. Police say neither was wearing a seat belt. The driver of the garbage truck was not injured.

The second installment of taxes is due in Middlebury next Friday. The treasurer’s office will be open next week on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Fletcher Allen today filed the costs of a new inpatient building project with the Green Mountain Care Board. A press release says the total project will cost $187 million for a 128 single bed facility. This is the final part of the three part submission in the Certificate of need (CON) application process. Fletcher Allen anticipates the 180,000 sq. ft. building to open in September 2018.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

WVTK Local & State News November 6, 2014

Incumbent Governor Peter Shumlin has declared victory over his opponent Scott Milne, while Milne refuses to concede. With 100-percent of the vote counted, the two were slightly more than two-thousand votes apart. Shumlin said that voters sent a message, and he will work to regain the confidence of Vermonters and the Legislature. In Addison County, Shumlin barely beat out Milne by a vote of 5,675 - 5,524 or 151 votes.

The $33-million dollar bond for Mount Abraham Union High School was defeated by a 3 to 1 margin on election day. 3,328 Addison Northeast Supervisory Union residents voted against the bond while just 1,239 cast their ballots in favor of the proposal. The failed planed called for building a new middle school gymnasium, installing 21st-century communications infrastructure, moving the library and media center to the front of the building, making upgrades to the pool, constructing new bathrooms and locker rooms, updating auditorium lighting and seating and renovating the lobby to improve aesthetics and heighten security among other work. The school board will go back to the drawing board and start working on another proposal to upgrade the school facilities.

In the local races on election day, Amy Sheldon won over incumbent Betty Nuovo in Addison-1. Willem Jewett ran unopposed in Addison-2. Diane Lanpher and Warren Van Wyck will continue to represent Addison-3. Fred Baser is in while MIchael Fisher is out in Addison-4. And incumbent Harvey Smith will continue to represent Addison-5. In New York, incumbents did well, Cuomo, DiNapoli, and Schneiderman were all re-elected while Elise Stefanik will represent the 21st Congressional District.

The Vermont Health Department says the state is continuing to have the lowest rate of pre-term births in the nation. The most recent numbers came in the March of Dimes 2014 Premature Birth Report Card. The health department says Vermont was one of only five states to receive a score of "A," and has received the highest score on the report card for the past seven years. Health Commissioner Tracy Dolan says the report is a point of pride for Vermont health officials.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

WVTK Local & State News November 4, 2014

It’s Election Day, the polls are open in Vermont and New York. In Vermont, polls are open until 7 p.m. Voters will decide on a number of statewide races, including governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and secretary of state. New York polls open until 9 p.m. tonight. Voters are deciding on a number of key leadership positions, including governor, attorney general, and comptroller.

Representative Willem Jewett of Ripton, announced today that he will not seek re-election as House majority leader. Jewett saying he wants to return as a rank-and-file member of the Vermont House of Representatives to devote more time and energy to specific issues and constituent services. He said he has found being House Majority Leader rewarding, exciting, and at times very challenging but it one of those positions that people should cycle in and out of. Jewett is running unopposed for re-election representing the Addison-2 district, which includes the towns of Cornwall, Goshen, Hancock, Leicester, Ripton and Salisbury..

Officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will host a series of meetings in Vermont to outline plans to improve the water quality of Lake Champlain. Federal officials say they want to update the public on the phosphorous reductions that are necessary and discuss the timeline and a proposed framework for monitoring progress. Meetings are scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. November 17 at the Rutland Free Library and November 18 at the St. Albans Historical Society. Evening meetings are scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. November 17 at the Twilight Room in Middlebury and on November 19 at the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center in Burlington.

New Haven says no to two solar farms, citing the ruination of their view and a section of the comprehensive plan that forbids large energy installations. The Select Board voted down two proposals for solar farms. There are 14 pending approval. However, the state's Public Service Board makes the final decision, regardless of what the town wishes.

The sale of Burlington Telecom is now complete. Yesterday afternoon, the Public Service Board unanimously approve a deal with local investor Trey Pecor to provide a six million dollar bridge loan, which will help the city settle its legal battle with Citibank. Under that agreement, the city gets out of a 33-million dollar lease deal for about 10-million. Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger says taxpayers will only be responsible for paying around one million of that.

Monday, November 3, 2014

WVTK Local & State News November 3, 2014

Officials at Vermont's largest hospital say the number of overdoses of heroin and other opiate drugs being treated in the emergency department has gone from about 40 cases a month three years ago to 60 this past August. Fletcher Allen Health Care reports that in the year ending Sept. 30 Naloxone was used 625 times. The Burlington hospital says the numbers fluctuate, but the trend is up. Late last year the Health Department began distributing Naloxone kits to addicts, their friends and family members. More emergency responders also began carrying the drug.

Police in South Burlington are investigating the burglary of $11,000 worth of cameras from the Photo Garden. According to reports, the robbery took place sometime between 2 PM yesterday afternoon and 9:30 this morning. Four high-end cameras were taken. Anyone with information is asked to contact the South Burlington Police Department.

Vermont Gas pipeline protesters were out in full force again Saturday morning. They were at a Vermont Gas Storage Area on Route 2 in Williston singing and holding signs. The group is calling for Governor Peter Shumlin to pull his support of the natural gas pipeline that is in the works from Chittenden County through the Middlebury area. Representatives from Vermont Gas were not there but there was a police presence.

If you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, there’s still time. Flu season has already begun and it is possible that it could last until May. By getting the flu shot, chances of getting the flu are significantly less than normal. The flu shot does not prevent 100% from flu because there are many strains. This year’s shot protects against 4 different strains. Precautions should still be taken such as hand washing, covering with a shoulder or tissue when sneezing or coughing and disinfecting.

Killington Resort is opening for the season. Season pass and express card holders could hit the slopes starting today. The resort is opening to the public starting tomorrow. Today’s opening is a little later than in past years. Officials say that snow makers have been working at least 36 hours straight in order to get some of the trails open for skiers and riders. The mountain also got a couple of inches of natural snow several nights ago.

Friday, October 31, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 31, 2014

State workers are being asked to volunteer to help with Vermont's health care website. The site is down for maintenance, but officials say it will be open for enrollment, which begins November 15. Seventy-five extra workers are needed to handle the renewals. The workers who help out would receive overtime pay in addition to their regular pay.

A bookkeeper for a company in Williston has pleaded guilty to stealing about $84,000 through its payroll and electronic payment systems. Police said 41-year-old Billie Preston of Monkton pleaded guilty to wire fraud in federal court in Burlington. She is scheduled to be sentenced at the end of February next year. Police said the company, Endyne Inc., an environmental testing laboratory, contacted police to report the money loss. Preston was employed there from November 2011 through late April.

FairPoint will no longer provide health coverage for striking workers after today. FairPoint says most benefits, including healthcare, require a minimum number of scheduled work hours to maintain eligibility. When union members went on strike, they became ineligible. The union says a proposed contract by FairPoint takes away health care benefits and significantly increase healthcare costs for workers. Under the proposed FairPoint contract, FairPoint would pay 79 percent of their healthcare coverage. Under the previous contract that expired on August 2, FairPoint paid 100 percent of union members' healthcare and pensions. FairPoint says they sent information packets to union workers about COBRA earlier this week.

Castleton now has a new town manager. The town Select Board voted unanimously this week to hire Mark Shea, the town administrator for the last three years in Readsboro, to replace Charles Jacien who was scheduled to depart the position in January with $10,900 in severance pay, a year's worth of health care and a pledge that the Select Board would speak no ill of him. Jacien announced in July he would depart to pursue further education after serving seven years as manager with the town.

It's Halloween and that means the trick or treaters will be out in droves tonight. Authorities are reminding motorists to keep an eye out for the little ghosts and goblins. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of deaths among young pedestrians is four times higher on Halloween evening than any other evening of the year. While drivers are urged to take extra care, safety official say parents need to be proactive reminding children about safety rules, like crossing the street at marked intersections, making sure kids are carrying lights and reflective materials and try to have kids trick or treat in groups, with adult supervision.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 30, 2014

On Tuesday, voters in Bristol, Lincoln, New Haven, Monkton and Starksboro, the five towns that make up the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union, will decide whether or not to approve a $32.6 million bond to finance renovations at Mount Abraham Union High School. The plan includes building a new middle school gymnasium, installing 21st-century electronic and communications infrastructure, moving the library and media center to the front of the building, making upgrades to the pool, constructing new bathrooms and locker rooms, updating auditorium lighting and seating and renovating the lobby to improve aesthetics and heighten security. If voters approve the bond, work on the project can begin as soon as next summer.

MIddlebury will be phasing out townwide recycling. Beginning next April, residents will have to choose their own haulers to collect curbside recyclables from their homes and businesses. On Tuesday Night, the the Middlebury selectboard voted unanimously to discontinue the townwide recycling once the current contract with Casella expires on March 31, 2015. The board members say their decision was in anticipation of the impending changes to the state’s recycling / solid waste regulations, Act 148, which goes into effect in phases starting next July.

Vermont Officials are holding a public hearing on a study surrounding the issues of possible marijuana legalization in the state. A press release says the hearing scheduled for November 12, will allow Vermonters to contribute comments for a study on the issues around legalizing marijuana in the state.
 The hearing will run from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. via the Vermont Interactive Technologies network. Vermonters can view and provide feedback at the site in Middlebury and other sites around the state. For more information on Vermont Interactive Technologies and directions to the sites, go to:

Police were involved in a high speed chase through Shoreham yesterday afternoon that topped speeds of 90 miles per hour. According to reports, just before 6 pm, police say 29-year-old Gemmar O'Connor was spotted driving 74 miles-per-hour on Route 74. That's when police say the Shoreham man refused to pull over and sped up to over 90-miles an hour. He eventually came to a stop on 22A. O'Connor was arrested for attempting to elude and careless and negligent operation.

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is urging dairy farmers to take action. The deadline to sign up for New Dairy Price Insurance Programs has been extended until December 5. It's a type of insurance that locks in a certain amount of profit for dairy farmers. The minimum coverage plan costs $100 dollars a year and ensures farmers get at least a few cents profit for each gallon of milk produced. The insurance program was created under the 2014 Farm Bill.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 29, 2014

Green Mountain Power is planning a major upgrade of three hydro-electric dams along the Otter Creek. Federal regulators have granted GMP a new license for dams in Proctor, New Haven and Weybridge. The approval includes permission to upgrade the stations to allow a 65-percent increase in electric generation. When finished, the improved hydro-plants will produce enough electricity to power 9,200 homes.

The state of Vermont updates groundwater protection rule. A press release says the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued new Underground Injection Control Rules, replacing less protective 1982 standards. Under the new rule, underground injection wells, defined in Vermont as any hole that accepts waste. Exemptions from the new rules apply to geothermal systems, certain water treatment systems, and some mining wastes such as discharges from settling ponds and sludge lagoons.

Vermont's Health Reform Chief says the state's health exchange website will not be back online this month. The state temporarily pulled the plug on the website in mid-September in order to update and improve its flawed functionality. Officials did not give a hard timeline for a re-launch, but did say they are confident it will be back by November 15th, when the re-enrollment window for next year opens.

Vermont State Police is warning the public over a phone scam. Police say they were advised of two incidents regarding voice mails being left about late payments of taxes to the government. The victims were advised if they didn't call back and provide information an arrest warrant would be filed. Police say they identified the telephone number making the calls from Virginia as (571)-526-0022. Individuals who receives a call shouldn't give out personal information and are advised to contact their local police department.

AT&T is in legal trouble over its unlimited data plan. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is suing, claiming the wireless carrier misled customers into thinking they had unlimited data to use then slowed down their connection speeds if they used too much. The FTC says the practice, known as "throttling," affected at least 3.5 million customers. In some cases, internet speeds were reportedly reduced as much as 90 percent. AT&T calls the allegations "baseless," and says it has always been transparent with customers about its data use policies.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 28, 2014

Vermont Health Officials say a Vermont man, posing as a doctor, is under a voluntary quarantine after going to West Africa to help with the Ebola Crisis. Officials say the man traveled to Guinea and Sierra Leone to provide medical assistance, but it's unclear whether he treated anyone. When Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Vermont Officials learned about his return to the U.S. they went to pick him up at JFK airport and bring him back to Vermont. The man has been put in voluntary quarantine for 21 days here in the state. So far, he has not tested positive for the Ebola virus and has shown no symptoms. Governor Shumlin and health officials says this person poses a low risk of contracting the virus and spreading it to the public. The man is being held at an undisclosed rural location. The state is paying for his housing and treatment.

A new report says that Vermont could save millions of dollars if schools transition to a single-payer health care plan. The study was done for the Vermont School Boards Association. Schools are now paying about $202 million for health care for school employees. Transitioning employees to the Health Connect Gold plan would cut costs by $39 million dollars. If the state were to switch to a single-payer health care plan, school districts would save up to $119 million dollars.

Dozens of protesters are calling on Governor Shumlin to withdraw his support for a natural gas pipeline from Chittenden County to Middlebury. The protesters say that the pipeline is bad for the environment. A spokesman for the natural gas company says that natural gas can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2,000 tons. Shumlin says he believes that the natural gas pipeline will help reduce Vermont's dependence on dirtier fuel, such as heating oil.

Rutland Police investigated an armed robbery at Mac's Convenience Store on North Main Street on Sunday. Police say the clerk told officers that the store was robbed with a man with a handgun. The clerk was not injured during the robbery. The robber left the store prior to the officers' arrival. Police say after looking at surveillance footage from the store, they identified the robber as 52-year-old Joseph Paul Marro of Rutland. Marro was arraigned yesterday on unrelated grand larceny charges from a Vermont State Police investigation. On those charges, Marro was held at Marble Valley Regional Correctional Center (MVRCC) for lack of $2,500 bail.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture says 89 percent of the state's schools offer some type of farm to school programming. The programs vary, but each district incorporates the ideas of classroom, community, and cafeteria. In the past eight years, 70 schools or supervisory unions throughout the state have received Farm to School grants. Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross says the programs help connect agriculture to the next generation of Vermonters, while also teaching students to make healthy choices.

Monday, October 27, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 27, 2014

The historic Osborne House in Middlebury has a new home. Earlier today the building was moved from 77 Main St., where it stood since the 1800s, to the east side of the intersection of Cross and Water streets. The Cross Street Bridge was closed from 2 a.m. until approximately noon, to accomodate the moving of the structure across the Otter Creek.

The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation is going to study the possibility of creating a cap-and-trade system to reduce the amount of phosphorous pollution that runs into Lake Champlain from rivers and streams. Commissioner David Mears says the state is going to spend about $100,000 to hire experts to determine whether a phosphorus trading program might work in much the same way such a system helped reduce sulfur dioxide emissions, a component of acid rain. Some say the biggest challenge to cleaning up Lake Champlain is reducing phosphorous pollution.

State police are investigating a fire that destroyed an abandoned home in Rutland this morning. Not much is left to the actual structure at 13 Pine Street after the early morning fire. Officials say the blaze was so hot it spread to two neighboring buildings and about a dozen people were evacuated. There are no reports of any injuries. Until now, the home has been frequently occupied by squatters who break in and live there for a short period of time.

The second meeting of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel (NDCAP) over Vermont Yankee is scheduled for Thursday. A press release says the agenda include discussion of Entergy's Site Assessment Report for Vermont Yankee, an update on Emergency Planning Zone changes, and the discussion of draft NDCAP charter. The meeting is open to the public and is being held in the cafeteria at Vernon Elementary School from 6 to 9 p.m.

The Ticonderoga Ferry has wrapping up service for another year. The ferry, which runs from Shoreham to Ticonderoga, finished its last run of the season on Sunday evening. The ferry will be up and running again in May of next year.

Friday, October 17, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 17, 2014

An Addison man has been sentenced to 13 years to life behind bars for his 2012 and 2013 crime spree. After some emotional testimony this morning, Judge Robert Mello approved a plea agreement. The deal calls for Ritchie serve to 13 years to life in prison on each of a long list of charges most of them stemmed from a series of break-ins in Addison County.

1,700 FairPoint Communications workers are on strike. According to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Communications Workers of America union, the strike comes after FairPoint company representatives refused to compromise. A spokeswoman for FairPoint said that the company is disappointed that the union decided to walk out. FairPoint workers were picketing this morning outside the South Burlington facility after announcing last night they were going on strike.

The strike continues for teachers in South Burlington. A deal was not reached during a long night of negotiating last night. Teachers told the media that the school board walked out without notice just before 2 am. The sticking points remain. The teachers want bigger salary increases and lower contributions to health care than the board is willing to give. On a positive note, athletics are back in business. All sports and extracurricular activities resumed today.

The American Society of Civil Engineers gives Vermont infrastructure a 'C' grade in its second evaluation. The society says it would take hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade Vermont's roads, bridges, dams, wastewater and drinking water systems. Although the state is in a better position than it was after Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, the grades remained mostly the same this year.

The latest estimate of the price tag to decommission the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is $1.24 billion. The figure is nearly double what plant owner Entergy currently has saved up in the plant's decommissioning fund. The plant is shutting down at the end of this year.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 16, 2014

Officials say we are now moving into flu season. Vermont health leaders say as soon as the vaccine becomes available, people should get it. In Vermont, experts are seeing sporadic activity with people, especially children testing positive for the flu. The vaccine is recommended for everyone six months and older each year. If you need to get vaccinated, flu shots are available at area pharmacies, also Addison County Home Health and Hospice is holding flu vaccine clinics around the area.

The Republican running for Vermont's Governorship says that the state must radically rethink school spending. Scott Milne called for providing universal in-state college or job training to students who pledge to stay in Vermont. He would also reduce per-pupil spending, allow school choice, and cap property tax rates for two years. Milne had no specifics about the $42 million dollar hole in the education budget that capping property taxes would create, except to say it would force lawmakers to find other cuts.

The results are back from a recent survey in the Middlebury Area on recycling. More than 80 percent of Middlebury residents said they are at least satisfied with the town’s current curbside recycling program, but more than 73 percent of residents don’t want to see it combined with a trash pickup service. 323 people filled out the survey. The Middlebury Recycling Committee will use the results to help guide the Select Board as they move forward with preparing for the implementation of Act 148, the state’s new solid waste/recycling law.

Nurses at Fletcher Allen Health Care say that they are taking precautions against a possible Ebola outbreak. Ebola, which has a high mortality rate, can be transmitted by contact with the body fluids of infected patients. The Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals say that proper training on the use of protective equipment is very important. The nurses and other health care workers are doing hands-on practice with the unfamiliar equipment, putting it on and taking it off.

This Saturday, there will be a meeting on a proposed skate park in Middlebury. Tentative plans call for the new skate park to occupy a 100-foot-long-by-50-foot-wide spot just west of the basketball and tennis courts in the recreation park, off Mary Hogan Drive. This saturday’s meeting will give people a chance to weigh in on the project and have their voice heard. The meeting will take place from 11 am to 12:30 pm at the Ilsley Library.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 15, 2014

A Ferrisburgh man was injured in a car accident yesterday. According to police, 26-year-old Trevor Howard of Ferrisburgh, experienced a medical event, causing him to drive off the road and crash into a tree. The crash caused the vehicle to catch fire. A good samaritan helped pull Howard from his vehicle. Several area fire departments responded to extinguish the fire. He was transported to Fletcher Allen Health Care with multiple fractures. Vermont State Police are still investigating the accident and ask anyone who may have witness the crash to call with information you or submit an anonymous tip by texting “CRIMES” (274637) with keyword: VTIPS.

The Vermont Attorney General's Office has released a draft rule on genetically engineered food labeling for public comment. A press release says the public can provide input by attending public meetings around the state or sending an email to The Attorney General is seeking input from producers, retailers, and consumers. The first public meeting is next Tuesday, from Noon to 2, at the Contois Auditorium, at City Hall in Burlington.

Vermont officials plan on testing the Amber Alert System next Wednesday. A press release says the test will be used to assess and evaluate changes in technology used to alert Vermonters when the Amber Alert System is activated. The test will include a mass emailing, coordination with the Vermont Agency of Transportation messaging signs, and information sent to Vermont broadcasters. Officials say the Emergency Broadcast System may also be activated.

Voters in Hinesburg will consider a $1.5 million bond vote on Election Day to finance water system upgrades. The bond would provide for two new wells, as well as a pump house and filtration system. A local pamphlet explains the current wells aren't meeting demand. It also says the current water sources contain hard water minerals and traces of MTBE, indicating gasoline contamination near the wells. Meetings on the proposal are scheduled at Town Hall at 7 p.m. next Monday and then again on Nov. 3.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 14, 2014

Although there's been no sign of the lethal virus in the Green Mountain State, Vermont hospitals are preparing their staffs for the possibility of an Ebola infection. The first case of Ebola transmitted in the U.S. was a West African who infected a nurse in a Dallas hospital. Officials at Fletcher Allen Health Care are determining the best level of protection that allows hospital workers to move and do their work.

Teachers in South Burlington are on strike. Although a counter-offer is on the table for the school board to consider, it may be Friday before classes resume if the school board accepts the proposal. All students will get a few days off while their teachers picket outside. The school board says it cannot consider the counter-proposal until its next scheduled meeting, which is Thursday.

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife announced grants available to help the state's lakes, rivers, and habitat. A press release says the 2015 Vermont Watershed Grants Program is now accepting applications for funding projects to help Vermont protect and restore the state's watersheds. Applications for the grant program are due by Friday, November 21. A Watershed Grants application guide and application forms are available from the Watershed Management Division of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.

The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation is urging people to be sure that when they sign service contracts the companies they are dealing with are registered with the state. The department and the Attorney General's office issued the warning today after officials became aware of a mailing that has been distributed to Vermont homeowners offering an insurance-type product that covers water service line protection. The product is in the form of a service contract that pays for certain claims in the event outside water and sewer lines that service a home are damaged. All companies that sell or issue service contracts to Vermonters, or cover property located in Vermont, are required to register with the Department of Financial Regulation.

Authorities have not made any arrests in the case of counterfeit tickets for Addison County Fair and Field Days. Organizers say about $12,000 in phony passes were printed. They were a combination of single day and season tickets. One of the fair's directors says new ticketing options are being explored to try and avoid future problems.

Monday, October 13, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 13, 2014

Road Salt Prices could cause some budget pains this year for cities and towns across the state. The price change amounts to a 40 percent increase since last November. Prices negotiated by the state increased from about $54 to $76 per ton from November 2013 to October 2014. Officials say the increasing costs could impact how the roads are treated this upcoming season.

Ferrisburgh Selectboard members are close to a deal to purchase 2.2 acres of land behind the town office building and next to Ferrisburgh Central School. It is still up in the air as to what the land would be used for. Residents and selectboard members have discussed several possible uses including just preserve the land for future use. The $40,000 deal would be subject to voter approval on Town Meeting Day.

Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell is planning three public meetings on the proposed rules to implement the new state law requiring the labeling of food produced through genetic engineering. The meetings will be held next week in Burlington, Montpelier and Brattleboro. Sorrell says the rules will provide clarity on the scope and reach of the law and its goal of providing information while minimizing burdens on the regulated community. The meetings are designed to get feedback from producers, retailers and consumers.

Teachers in South Burlington could be on strike starting tomorrow morning. The teachers union responded to the latest school board offer yesterday with a counteroffer of their own. School board officials say that due to open meeting rules, the earliest they could consider the counteroffer is Wednesday evening. That would be too late to meet the Tuesday strike deadline.

Renovations at the St. Ambrose Church in Bristol have been completed. Some of the upgrades include an elevator to the basement, two new bathrooms, an expansion and renovation of the kitchen, new lighting and other improvements to bring the structure in line with modern building codes. The renovations also doubled the space for the food shelf. The food shelf feeds 65 to 70 families per month, mostly from the five-town area. The entire construction was paid through private donations from parishioners and the community and cost about $250,000.