Friday, January 24, 2014

WVTK Local & State News January 24, 2014

The price of a stamp will go up this weekend.  A panel that oversees the US Postal Service approved a three-cent hike to 49 cents.  The current price is 46 cents.  The hike includes a one-cent increase to keep pace with inflation.  The additional two-cents are intended to be temporary, and to recoup the losses the Postal Service suffered during the recession.  The increase will go into effect on Sunday.

Vermont health officials say the flu is now ‘widespread’ in the state.  "Widespread" means that more than 50% of geographic regions in a state are reporting flu activity.  The designation addresses the spread of the flu, not its severity.  Nine people are currently hospitalized with the flu at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington.  To date, they have admitted 31 people this season.  In addition to getting vaccinated, health officials recommend washing your hands frequently and staying home when you're sick can help you get through the flu season.

The Vermont House has passed a midyear budget adjustment bill that boosts spending for the current fiscal year by about $12 million.  The House today approved the package on a 110 to 33 roll call vote.  More than half of the money, about $7-million, goes to meet growing demand on the state’s Medicaid program.  The money is coming mostly from higher-than-expected revenues coming into the state’s coffers.

The Hazing, Harassment, and Bullying Advisory Council presented a report Thursday to the House and Senate Committees on Education.  The council recently visited five schools in the state. It was part of a listening tour.  Students got a chance to weigh-in on what problems they face.  State education leaders want to be able to study bullying better, since it is rarely reported.  The council hopes to launch a survey this spring to better understand bullying in schools.

A talking cow which explains to kids how cow manure is turned into usable energy now has a name.  More than 170 students in Vermont submitted possible names for the cow at the new Energy Innovation Center in Rutland, and the wining choice is “Electra.”  Jared McGee of West Rutland and Dillon Brigham from Danville came up with the name, winning a tour of the center along with an ice cream party.  Electra is the star of the show at this mini-museum where people can come learn about alternative energy.