Wednesday, January 15, 2014

WVTK Local & State News January 15, 2014

Governor Peter Shumlin gave his annual budget address at the state house today.  The proposed budget for 2015 increases state spending by almost 3½-percent.  Shumlin says a projected $70 million budget shortfall can be made without any new broad-based taxes with about $30 million in one-time funds.  The rest of the gap will be made up with savings in debt costs and technology costs, increases in special and federal funds and a 0.8 percent tax on health insurance claims.  Shumlin is also calling for $10 million in new spending to combat the state’s opium and heroin abuse problem.

If you are a hunter of ducks or any other waterfowl, you need to pull your blinds in.  The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife says those waterfowl blinds need to be removed from Lake Champlain before February 15th.  Taking away the blinds and any posts which may be below the surface of the ice is very important because of the danger they pose for boaters on the water come spring.  The inland waters have more leeway, with the removal date there being May 15th.

Vermont federal Judge William K. Sessions III is taking senior status after 18 years on the bench.  U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says Sessions informed the president today.  Sessions was unanimously confirmed to the U.S. District Court in 1995 and served as its chief judge from 2002 to 2010.  He also served on the United States Sentencing Commission and was appointed by President Obama in 2009 to be chairman, which he served for two years.

Vermont State Police say a sinkhole on the southbound Interstate 89 in Milton has forced road crews to close the travel and breakdown lanes.  Police say the sinkhole was discovered at about 6 o’clock this morning.  Police say motorists should expect delays as individual travel lanes will be temporarily shut down to traffic.  Motorists are encouraged to seek alternate routes.  There’s no immediate word on what caused the sinkhole to form.

The former water superintendent for the Vermont town of Hinesburg has received a suspended sentence of 6 to 9 months for his role in using a town credit card to commit fraud.  40-year-old Brian Mattison will serve 13 days on a furlough to a Community Restitution Program.  The investigation began when questions were raised about charges on a $1,700 bill from Mattison for attending the New England Water Association conference in Boston last January.  Among the charges was $100 for breakfast for two.  Mattison was scheduled to go on trial this month; he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of credit-card fraud.  The town said a total of $2,600 was unaccounted for.