Wednesday, February 26, 2014

WVTK Local & State News February 26, 2014

Residents in the Addison Central Supervisory Union voted last night 306 to 118 to allow the UD-3 board to negotiate a lease with the town of Middlebury for a parcel of land on Creek Road that will host a new recreation facility. The vote, by paper ballot, is another step in the process toward a plan that calls for the town and Middlebury College to swap land. The current Municipal Building and Gym would be demolished and a new one would be built elsewhere. People in Middlebury would pay $2-million toward the project; and the rest, $5.5-million, would be picked up by the college. On Town Meeting Day, people in Middlebury will decide whether to build new town offices and a recreation facility.

A union group says layoffs are likely at the IBM plant in Essex Junction. A member of the group Alliance says they’re hearing that tomorrow is the day workers at facilities in Vermont will receive termination notices. Earlier this year, IBM indicated layoffs were likely because of declining profits. Last year 419 employees in Essex Junction were let go. There is no indication of how many people will lose their jobs.

Champlain Valley Solar Farm has proposed building a new 9,000 panel solar farm on a 13 acre parcel of land off Route 7 south in Middlebury. Officials say the solar farm will generate enough electricity to power 519 Vermont homes annually.

The Vermont Senate is poised to take up legislation designed to streamline the process for ordering involuntary treatment and medication of psychiatric patients. The hotly debated bill is an attempt to speed up a judicial review process that backers say leaves patients without needed treatment for too long, creating risks to themselves, fellow patients and caregivers. Opponents, including some people who say they have been subjected to involuntary treatment in the past, say forcing someone to take powerful psychiatric drugs against their will should always raise big concerns about liberty and autonomy.

New data suggests significant progress in the last decade in the fight against childhood obesity. A study focused on younger kids, when eating habits can be established, for better or worse. It's a promising sign as communities look to prevent trends that can lead to cancer and heart disease. A new study using federal data says obesity in children between the ages of 2 and 5 has dramatically decreased, more than 40% in a decade. While exact reasons are unclear, experts say it's a promising sign.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

WVTK Local & State News February 25, 2014

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin has signed into law a mid-year budget adjustment bill that increases funding for Medicaid by more than $7 million, but achieves nearly that much in savings on the state employee health insurance plan. The budget adjustment bill also increases state reserve funds, expands opiate addiction treatment and adds money for emergency housing services, homeowners’ and renters’ rebates.

Vermont police are searching for female suspects in two armed robberies in Rutland County. The physical description provided in the two Monday evening robberies is similar, but investigators aren’t saying if they believe they are searching for a single suspect. The first robbery was reported at about 8:15 p.m. at the Family Dollar store in West Rutland. The second was reported just before midnight at the Cumberland Farms in Wallingford. The suspect in both robberies was reported to be a petite, white female, about 5 feet 2 inches tall who told store employees she had a handgun. After the robberies the suspect fled on foot.

The major health care provider for the Ticonderoga area is slashing jobs. Inter-Lakes Health, which includes Moses-Luddington Hospital and Heritage Commons nursing home, announced earlier this month it has laid off 13 workers, is cutting 10 more jobs through attrition and is turning another 10 full-time jobs into part-time positions. Company officials say the cuts are needed to address ongoing financial issues. They say the cuts will not reduce staffing of the hospital emergency room or diminish care levels at the nursing home.

The FDA is making changes to the nutritional facts label. Those changes may come Thursday when First Lady Michelle Obama celebrates the 4th anniversary of the Let's Move campaign. Little change has come to the labels since it was introduced 21 years ago. Those changes, according to the FDA, will be based on the latest science-based nutrition recommendations. So far, no word on what those changes may include.

Gov. Peter Shumlin has ordered an investigation into the death of a toddler who was returned to her parents from state custody. 31-year-old Dennis Duby is charged with murdering 2-year-old Dezirae Sheldon. Sheldon was returned to the home of Duby and her mother, Sandra Eastman, just months after Eastman was convicted of child abuse for breaking Dezirae's leg. Family members say they warned state officials the girl was in further danger. Shumlin says he wants to know if the Department of Children and Families and others involved handled the case properly.

Monday, February 24, 2014

WVTK Local & State News February 24, 2014

A Poultney man accused of beating a toddler to death is being arraigned today. Vermont State Police say 31-year-old Dennis Duby is facing a second-degree murder charge in the death of his stepdaughter Dezirae Sheldon, who was just 2-years old. An autopsy report said Dezirae died from blunt force trauma and the death has now been ruled a homicide. Dezirae passed away on Friday at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, just two days after she was taken to the ER at Rutland Regional Medical Center.

CCTA drivers will be going on strike soon. Last night the union issued a statement that a marathon 15-hour negotiation session had ended without resolution. They also said that people should plan other travel arraignments for March 10th, as that's when drivers intend to strike. The two sides have been in a standoff since September when contract negotiations first failed. The two sides are at odds over working hours, the hiring of part-time drivers and working conditions. Back in 2011, a deal was struck between drivers and the CCTA just hours before a strike was set to begin.

The Vermont Legislature is considering a disposable bag fee. According to the bill, a 10 cent fee would be charged to someone carrying goods, food or other products from a retail establishment. Exemptions include bags provided by pharmacists containing prescription drugs or bags used to deliver newspapers, dry cleaning, baked goods, flowers, or prepared foods. The bill would also prohibit a business from selling, distributing wholesale, or distributing at retail a disposable carryout bag made of plastic or paper unless the bag can be recycled and meets content and label requirements. If passed, the bill would take effect July 1, 2015. The bill is currently in the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee.

Forecasters say the snowstorms we had this month could mean spring flooding. These storms have piled up snow in the mountains heading into the last month of winter and emergency planners say it could cause flooding when it melts, especially if we also get heavy rains. The National Weather Service has begun issuing reports on the spring flooding threat and says everything depends on what happens in the next six weeks.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

WVTK Local & State News February 19, 2014

Some homeowners in Monkton are continuing their fight against the Vermont Gas Plan to build a pipeline from Chittenden County to Addison County. The homeowners have not yet reached an agreement with Vermont Gas, and have received letters discussing the possibility the utility will resort to eminent domain. Vermont Gas says the pipeline has been approved by state utility regulators.

Middlebury has issued a parking ban tonight and tomorrow nights for snow removal. A press release says snow clearing operations will begin at approximately 10 p.m. Parking isn't allowed on public streets or parking lots from midnight until 6 a.m., except in designated lots. Cars parked on public streets or parking lots during the parking ban will be towed.

Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders says more needs to be done educate children at early ages and find ways to encourage children to think about going to college long before high school. Sanders is a member of the Senate Education Committee. He appeared at the Vermont Statehouse where he met with members of the Vermont Senate and House education committees. During his 45-minute appearance, Sanders said that many of the state’s schools are wonderful. But he says poverty is holding many children back. Sanders says that in the 21st Century a quality education is critical to success and the U.S. is falling behind.

The head of the Vermont State Fair has been removed from his post and the organization is conducting an internal audit. The Board of Trustees of the Rutland County Agricultural Society voted at a special meeting Feb. 8 to remove Richard Rivers from his posts as the organization’s president and as general manager of the fair. When asked about the change, the group’s attorney, Stacy Chapman, only would say an internal audit was underway and results would be presented to the society’s membership in the coming months. The board appointed Roger Pike as interim president.

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife is reminding the public that Vermont State law requires ice fishing shanties to be removed before the ice becomes unsafe. A press release says shanties must be removed when the ice loses the ability to support the shanty out of the water or before the last Sunday in March, whichever comes first. The fine for leaving your ice fishing shanty on the ice can be as much as $1,000. The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife says shanties may not be left at state fishing access areas.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

WVTK Local & State News February 18, 2014

Middlebury has issued a parking ban on Wednesday and Thursday nights for snow removal. A press release says snow clearing operations will begin at approximately 10 p.m. Parking isn't allowed on public streets or parking lots from midnight until 6 a.m., except in designated lots. Cars parked on public streets or parking lots during the parking ban will be towed.

Drivers in New York can now get text and email alerts to remind them when their vehicle registration or inspection is due to expire. A press release says motorists can sign up for this new service online, by mail, or at a DMV office. The DMV will automatically enroll any customer who completed an online transaction in the past two years. The reminders will be sent approximately 90, 60, and 30 days prior to expiration for registration. Inspection reminders will be sent on the first of the month, 15th of the month, and when the inspection expires. A press release says later this year, drivers will be able to receive alerts when their driver licenses and non-driver IDs are due for renewal.

The Vermont Foodbank was awarded $20,000 from the National Life Group Foundation to help feed more than 100 children throughout the school year through the BackPack program. A press release says students involved in the BackPack program will be able to take home backpacks filled with healthy and easy-to-prepare food items for the weekends. The food will last students and family members for two days.

The Vermont Legislature will begin exploring legalizing pot. Sen. Jeanette White first proposed the formation of a study last year. The bill is set to be taken up in committee tomorrow and would look at potential legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana in Vermont. White says the study is a necessary first step before debating whether the drug should be legal. A number of bills to legalize marijuana have been floated at the Statehouse but none are expected to gain traction this year. Just last year, the Legislature passed a law decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot.

The union representing the drivers for CCTA will be holding a press conference tomorrow at noon at the Cherry Street Bus Station in Burlington. Management at Chittenden County Transportation Agency and the drivers have been negotiating a new contract for the past 8 months. Drivers say they just want a fair contract. CCTA Management proposed a deal on January 29th that was voted down by the membership 53 to 4. During tomorrows news conference the union will announce what their plans are going forward.

Monday, February 17, 2014

WVTK Local & State News February 17, 2014

The Addison Central Supervisory Union will not be consolidating its schools and governing structure at this time. The ACSU Governance Study Committee released its final report earlier today. For the past 3 and a half years, the committee has been looking at a number of scenarios including closing some schools to save money and also creating a “doughnut” Regional Education District that would include the six outlying ACSU towns, but exclude Middlebury. Committee members found that there was not much support for consolidation of schools or streamlining education governance.

A new program in New York will give incarcerated individuals the opportunity to earn a college degree through college classes at prisons across the state. Classes will be provided at 10 New York State prisons, one in each region in the state. No word on what 10 prisons will be participating in the program. The program will offer both associates and bachelor's degrees. Degrees would take generally 2.5 to 3 years. A press release says it will cost approximately $5,000 per year to provide one year of college education for one inmate. The state will be seeking proposals from educational associations for the program starting on March 3.

Officials say a fire at a townhouse on St. Michael's College campus was caused by a problem with a space heater. Saint Michael’s Public Safety and Student Life officials say 22 students were displaced by the fire. No injuries were reported. The Red Cross says 12 rooms experienced water/smoke damage and 7 rooms are being considered a complete loss. The Red Cross and some faculty members are helping the students.

A driver found out State Police are serious about the speed limit, especially when roads are a mess. Troopers stopped a Jeep Cherokee late Saturday afternoon on U-S Route 7 in Shaftsbury on an alleged speed violation. They say the Jeep, driven by Jay Philippi of Cold Spring, New York, was traveling at 101 miles per hour in a 55-zone. State Police say the highway was very slippery and covered with a layer of snow and slush at the time. Philippi is now charged with negligent operation.

Two Vermont think tanks will be debating the role of government in education. The Ethan Allen Institute and the Public Assets Institute are holding their third and final debate on the topic tomorrow in Montpelier. The will cover the topic of school choice. Organizers of the event say a little more than a third of Vermont towns pay tuition to allow students to attend any school of their choice. The debate will be held at 5:30 in room 11 of the Statehouse.

Friday, February 14, 2014

WVTK Local & State News February 14, 2014

Motorists are still being urged to use caution on roads. A press release says state and local crews are out and making headway, but windy conditions are making road conditions unpredictable. Anyone who needs to travel should allow extra time to reach their destination, drive slowly, and leave plenty of room between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them. Drivers are also urged to clear snow from their car. If you become stuck, The Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security says to clear snow from the tailpipe to prevent carbon monoxide from entering the car. Drivers are also instructed to wait with their car for rescue crews.

New details are out about the double homicide in Hubbardton on Wednesday. Police say 57-year-old Shane Plummer and his 25-year-old son Christopher were called to a home on Route 30 by the landlord to fix some electrical problems. But something went horribly wrong. Just after 1:30 in the afternoon, police received a call from Shane saying his son had been shot. Authorities arrived on the scene to find both dead from gunshot wounds. The tenant, 70-year-old Sylvester Labartino is accused of murdering both of them. Labartino was in court yesterday and pled not guilty to two counts of second-degree murder. Court documents show Labartino has a lengthy criminal record with arrests dating back to the late 1960’s in New York, Georgia, and Florida.

The Vermont Senate has voted to support a bill that says if employers offer sick days, they can’t penalize workers who take them. Senators say the bill is designed to stop a practice at one company, Sodexo, which handles food service under contracts with the University of Vermont, the Vermont State Colleges and other colleges in the state. Senate Majority Leader Philip Baruth, who described the bill Friday to his colleagues, says Sodexo offers seven paid sick days per year, but gives employees a point for taking one. If the worker accumulates seven points in a year, he or she can be terminated.

The Vermont House has passed and sent to the Senate a bill banning the use of hand-held cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. The measure passed today with two amendments. One allows the use of the devices while operating a farm truck or other farm machinery. The other allows use of hands-free devices by drivers if the devices are in a cradle or otherwise secured in the vehicle.

The County Tire Center Free Brakes for Food Programs continues. CTC is looking to collect as much food as possible by March 7. If you bring in a bag of 12 non-perishable food or personal car items, County Tire Center will provide a free brake inspection and diagnosis. If you need brakes, you will get free premium Centric pads and $34.50 off labor to install the pads. All the food collected is going to Addison County HOPE.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

WVTK Local & State News February 13, 2014

The Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security is encouraging Vermonters to clear all vents from snow to prevent carbon monoxide (CO) from entering their home. A press release says CO is a colorless and odorless and can cause injury or death. All home owners are advised to have working carbon monoxide detectors in the home. If the detector sounds, home owners should call for help. Symptoms of Co poisoning include lethargy and nausea.

State Police have arrested a Hubbardton on two counts of second-degree murder. Investigators say 70-year-old Sylvester Labartino killed Shane and Chris Plummer of West Haven, in Labartino's residence yesterday afternoon. The investigation began yesterday after a 911 call reported a possible shooting. Troppers arrived on the scene to find the 2 men dead outside the residence. Labartino was later arrested driving on Route 30 in Castleton. Vermont State Police are asking for anyone who observed a white Ford Bronco II yesterday afternoon in the areas of Hubbardton, Castleton, or Fair Haven, to please contact the state police at 802-773-9101 or you may also submit an anonymous tip to or send a text to "CRIMES" (274637) with keyword: VTIPS.

The state of Vermont is making an investment that will allow up to $6.5 million in loans to make homes in the state more energy efficient and promote clean heating technologies. It’s expected that with an average home loan of $5,000 for energy efficiency improvements, up to 1,300 homes can be served through the program. Shumlin says investments in energy efficiency save Vermont families money on their fuel bills as well as support local jobs, strengthen the economy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Officials say thermal efficiency is one of the most cost-effective ways for Vermonters to reduce their energy bills.

The Shumlin administration has notified lawmakers of seven privacy lapses related to the Vermont Health Connect insurance exchange. In two cases invoices were sent to the wrong people; scanned checks also were posted to the wrong accounts; and a health insurance card was mailed to the wrong address. The errors occurred between December 16 and January 24 and were the result of mistakes by Health Connect staff. They follow two similar breaches in the fall.

The Vermont House is set to take up a bill that would ban the use of all but hands-free cell phones while driving. Backers say drivers could continue using hands-free devices while operating a motor vehicle. And it makes an exception for making an emergency call to 911. The bill passed the House Transportation Committee on a 10-0 vote and is up for a preliminary vote in the full House today. Its fate is uncertain in the Senate, and Gov. Peter Shumlin’s administration opposes the bill.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

WVTK Local & State News February 12, 2014

Vermonters are another step closer to having paid sick leave provided by their employers. The bill requiring companies to pay workers one hour of sick leave per 30 hours worked passed in committee yesterday by a vote of six to one. The bill calls for seasonal workers not being able to use paid sick leave during their first season of employment, and businesses with four or few workers would be exempt. It’s expected next to be taken up by the House Appropriations committee.

Middlebury College was ranked 14th among small colleges by the Peace Corps in its 2014 rankings of the top volunteer-producing colleges and universities across the country, with 12 undergraduate alumni currently volunteering worldwide. The school last ranked as a Peace Corps’ Top College in 2010. Since the first days of the Peace Corps, 481 Middlebury alumni from have traveled abroad to serve as volunteers. Middlebury was one of two Vermont schools ranked as a Peace Corps’ 2014 Top College, with the University of Vermont claiming the national No. 5 spot among medium schools.

An official at Vermont’s largest health care provider says the state’s new health insurance system is working surprisingly well. Shannon Lonergan, the director of registration at Burlington’s Fletcher Allen Health Care, says she and others expected more glitches as patients started using insurance provided through Vermont Health Connect. Meanwhile, Vermont Health Access Commissioner Mark Larson says the website still can’t process online payments, but about 25,000 Vermonters have signed up for coverage.

Stephen Perkins of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says Vermont will be ‘‘leading the pack’’ with the state’s planned goals to limit non-wastewater runoff into Lake Champlain. Vermont Environmental Conservation Commissioner David Mears outlined proposed plans Wednesday at a hearing at the Statehouse. Mears says the state will enhance water quality rules for agriculture, require additional storm water treatment for developed areas and improve rules for managing rivers and floodplains, among other commitments. He says specific costs for state government have not been determined yet. Perkins says the EPA expects finalized commitments by the end of March and a letter of commitment from Gov. Peter Shumlin by the end of April.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

WVTK Local & State News February 11, 2014

The flu is really doing a number on Vermont right now. Doctors say the H-1-N-1 strain is hitting young people harder this year, and people in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s who are otherwise healthy are being stricken. The Vermont Health Department says it’s also especially risky for pregnant women. Another problem right now in the Norovirus, that nasty stomach bug for which there is no prevention vaccine.

A fire destroyed a log cabin in Lincoln. Investigators believe the blaze started in a wood burning stove. No one was home and no one was hurt. Weather conditions made it difficult to fight the fire. Two people lived there. They're getting help with housing from the Red Cross.

A new bill would crack down on cell phone theft. Under legislation announced Monday by U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, tampering with the ID number on a cell phone would be a federal crime. In Syracuse alone, stolen cell phones were up 64% in 2011. According to the FCC, about 40% of thefts in major U.S cities involve cell phones. If this new bill become law, tampering with a phone ID could land someone up to 5 years in jail.

Tax season can be a complicated time for many of us, but a change in Vermont state policy is making it even tougher for some people. It's not that there's anything added to the process that's making it harder, rather it's been subtracted. For years you could go to your local library or your town clerk and pick up the state income tax return book. This year the Vermont Department of Taxes has stopped distributing the books. The department says about 18,000 people used the books to file their taxes last year. That's less than 30% of the total of tax books distributed last year, which was 64,000.

The Solar Foundation says Vermont is ranked first for solar jobs per capita. There are approximately 1,300 solar jobs total in installation, manufacturing and project development. Gov. Peter Shumlin says in a news release that the ranking is ‘‘a testament to the success’’ of Vermont’s renewable energy business, utilities and state policies. According to the Solar Foundation’s website, Vermont added about 990 solar jobs from 2012 to 2013. Vermont previously ranked at 11th in solar jobs per capita.

Monday, February 10, 2014

WVTK Local & State News February 10, 2014

The bill to require foods made with genetically modified organisms to be labeled in Vermont has been approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee. Although, it’s not heading to the Senate floor yet, Attorney General Bill Sorrell says there are still legal issues to deal with, and now the bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary committee. Sorrell says Vermont will almost certainly be sued by one of the big corporations that use GMOs. The Senate Judiciary committee may choose to include a "trigger clause" in the bill, which was struck down by the Senate Agriculture committee. A trigger clause would delay the law from going into effect until other states have a GMO labeling law, protecting Vermont from being the first to be sued. Maine and Connecticut have both passed GMO labeling laws with trigger clauses that require other states to have laws first.

Residents in Panton on Town Meeting Day will be deciding how their local government officials are elected. The proposed charter change will ask voters if they should continue to elect their own town clerk, treasurer and delinquent tax collector, or give that power to the Panton selectboard. If the voters support the change tot the town charter, it will still need to be approved by the Vermont Legislature before it can go into effect.

Police are searching for a New Hampshire man whose car was found at the Quechee Gorge in Vermont this weekend. Family members of 42-year-old Michael Hayward of Sunapee say he was last seen Friday afternoon in the Enfield area. The vehicle was unoccupied and no signs of foul play were observed. His credit cards were found near the road Saturday and his wallet was found Sunday.

Nearly 70 employees who work for CCTA could go on strike in two weeks. The Teamsters Union says employees have been negotiating a new contract with CCTA since May. The union says CCTA gave its best offer just over a week ago. On Sunday, 53 employees voted it down compared to 4 who approved it. Employees aren't happy about three things: part-time workers taking hours away from full-time employees, workers on call for almost 15 hours a day, and higher wages offered to new employees. The union says if there is a strike bus services would stop to Middlebury, Montpelier, and others. CCTA says it's ready and willing to continue negotiating to reach a settlement.

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources is seeking public input for the update of the long-range management plan for Mt. Philo State Park in Charlotte. An on-line survey has been developed to offer an opportunity for input into this process. To complete the survey go to: The deadline for submission of survey is April 6.

Friday, February 7, 2014

WVTK Local & State News February 7, 2014

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin and Health Commissioner Harry Chen have announced a $10 million federal grant to expand early intervention and treatment program for young adults at risk of alcohol and drug abuse. They announced today that the grant will fund a five-year project for screening, intervention, referral and treatment as part of regular health care practice for patients age 18 and older. Shumlin says they want to make screening for substance abuse a routine part of health care, just like screening for high blood pressure or cholesterol.

By law, Vermont requires vaccinations for all school children, but not everyone agrees with it. The Department of Health presented its annual report Thursday to the House Committee on Health Care, and the numbers revealed 63-percent of Vermont children, ages 19 to 35 months are vaccinated. That compares to the nationwide percentage which is a little better at 68-percent. This past year marked the launch of a new social media campaign called “It’s Ok to Ask” which educates parents about vaccines.

More than 200 Vermonters gathered at the Statehouse yesterday to tell two Vermont Senate committees they want food containing genetically modified products to be labeled as such. The Vermont House passed a labeling bill last year. A draft pending in the Senate contains ‘‘options’’ for how the bill would become effective in the state. One would make a labeling law effective 18 months after two other states had passed similar legislation; another would require that four other states pass a labeling law.

Three Vermont schools were nominated by the U.S. Department of Education (U.S. ED) Green Ribbon Schools program. A press release says those three nominees include Camels Hump Middle School, Champlain Valley Union High School (CVU), and Lake Region Union High School. A press release says the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition award honors schools and districts that are exemplary in reducing environmental impact and costs; improving the health and wellness of students and staff; and providing effective environmental and sustainability education. U.S. ED will announce the 2014 honorees in April. A press release says those honorees will be invited to attend a national recognition award ceremony in Washington D.C. in June.

The Vermont Senate has passed a bill that seeks to protect Vermont's lake shorelines by placing new restrictions on clearing land adjacent to lakes and the creation of driveways and other impervious surfaces. Supporters say it will provide important protections to key wildlife habitat and to water quality. Opponents call the bill an unnecessary intrusion on private property rights.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

WVTK Local & State News February 6, 2014

A 75-year-old man recently diagnosed with dementia who was reported missing Tuesday has been found and is okay. Robert Walker of Farmington, New Hampshire was last seen Tuesday night when he left a hotel in Fair Haven headed for his brother’s home in Addison. Walker’s son called State Police when his dad never arrived, and yesterday afternoon, Walker was found by police in Middlebury. His family was called and all were reunited at the New Haven barracks a short time later.

Health and public safety officials are warning heroin users that product sold as heroin and packaged in the same manner as heroin may instead contain pure fentanyl or fentanyl-laced heroin. The Vermont Department of Health reported earlier this afternoon it has just confirmed the cause of three deaths in Addison County in January to be overdoses from pure fentanyl. Fentanyl is an opioid drug that is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin, and much deadlier.

Police in Brandon have arrested 2 people and seized close 400 bags of heroin after raiding a home on Carver Street. At 2:30 yesterday afternoon, police executed a search warrant of the property and found 4 people inside along with 380 bags of heroin and 32 bags of crack cocaine. Police say the street value of the heroin was $7,600 while the crack would have sold for about $1,600. Two of the people were arrested, the other two were released. Brandon Police also notified the Department for Children and Families because there was a 7-year-old living at the residence.

Vermont State Police Tactical Services Unit and Crisis Negotiation Unit will be training tonight at the Charlotte Central School and Burlington Town Center. A press release says the training will begin at the Charlotte Central School at around 5:30. By 9 o’clock, the exercise will relocate to the Burlington Town Center for an active shooter scenario. The exercise should be complete by 11 p.m. During the training scenarios there will be an increased number of law enforcement vehicles and officers around. Police say while officers may appear to be armed, no live ammunition will be used during the training exercises.

A lot of folks are still cleaning snow off their cars today from the latest storm, but not everyone, and lawmakers are addressing the problem. State Representative Kurt Wright of Burlington says when snow and ice start flying off of vehicle roofs it becomes a real safety hazard and can cause accidents. He’s co-sponsoring a bill which could result in a fine starting at a hundred dollars for any driver who does not clear their car or truck. Wright says surrounding states have similar laws like this referred to as ice missile legislation.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

WVTK Local & State News February 5, 2014

Police in Monkton say a deer hunter's bullet ended up striking a vehicle instead, nearly hitting the driver.  Officers say Michael Deforge was working a security detail early this morning on Vergennes Road and saw a truck stop nearby.  Deforge says a shot was fired from the truck at a deer which had ran across the road, and but it hit his vehicle instead.  Deforge was not hurt, and says the truck sped off, traveling northeast.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued a state of emergency for the entire state of New York.  A press release says under the state of emergency, critical resources are normally restricted to state use and are mobilized to assist local governments.  Cuomo said, “this is a significant winter storm impacting all regions of the state and we are taking all necessary steps to keep New Yorkers safe.  The State has 1,789 plows, 359 loaders and 4,185 operators working the storm.

Vermont State Police are reminding drivers that using U-turns on interstates is illegal.  Police say using a U-turn on the interstate is dangerous to exit or enter the flow of traffic at interstate speeds. During winter weather events, visibility is limited and stopping distances are increased, greatly increasing the chances of a serious crash.  Motorists are advised to travel slowly and allow extra time to reach destinations.  Unauthorized use of highway U-turns is a two point violation and fine of $162.00.

Vermont State Police are investigating a break-in at a scrap metal yard on Route 7.  At some point Sunday night, someone broke into Brandon Scrap Metal and stole cash and inspection stickers, police say.  Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call state police at 388-4919.

The Town of Middlebury will be holding an informational meeting on the Town Offices and Recreation Facilities project next Wednesday night at 7 o’clock.  During the day next Wednesday, you can stop by for a tour of the Municipal Building and Gym from 8 am to 6:30 pm.  Then at 7 pm the informational meeting will take place followed by a Q&N session.  Preliminary concept plans, background information, aerial photos and sketches of the sites are also available on the town's website:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

WVTK Local & State News February 4, 2014

The U.S. Senate passed a Farm Bill today.  A press release says Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy worked on the House-Senate Farm Bill negotiations.  The U.S. House passed the Farm Bill last week.  The bill now awaits President Barack Obama's signature.  The bill passed the Senate in a 68 to 32 vote.

Rutland City Police today seized several marijuana plants from a residence on East Street, just north of Killington Avenue.  It all began with after neighbors called police after seeing water pouring down the side of the building.  As police investigated the water, they saw marijuana plants and quickly backed out of the building to apply for the warrant.  The side of the building was covered in ice.  Later, officers could be seen exiting the building carrying marijuana plants and placing them in a pickup.

There’s a warning out regarding a convicted sex offender who is being released from prison today.  Police in Chittenden County say 55-year-old Todd Cardinal has completed his most recent sentence and will get out of the St. Albans state prison.  Corrections authorities say Cardinal is at high risk to offend again, with the most likely victims being women or adolescent girls.  Cardinal has been under supervision of the corrections department since 1989 for 21 separate convictions, which include four sex crimes.

A few hunters are being allowed to go after snow geese in a special season.  The U-S Fish and Wildlife Service is issuing a special conservation order, with the season running from March 11th through April 25.  Vermont wildlife officials say fifty years ago, the snow goose population in the state was about 50-thousand, but now it’s up to a million.  Hunters need a state snow goose permit, which will allow them to take up to 15 of the birds per day to help reduce the population.

Gallup says that Vermont is the least religious state in the nation.  Poll results show that 22 percent of Vermonters identify as ‘‘very religious’’ and 56 percent of Vermonters identify as ‘‘non-religious.’’  New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and Oregon join Vermont to make up the top five least religious states in the country.  Gallup bases the results on more than 174,000 interviews done during Gallup Daily tracking in 2013.

Monday, February 3, 2014

WVTK Local & State News February 3, 2014

Snowmobiles now have to go slower in the Green Mountain National Forest.  U-S Forest Service officials in Vermont say sleds are now required to keep speeds under 35 miles per hour while on national forest trails.  Those trails cover more than 400-thousand acres of forestland which is also used by hikers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers.  Forest Service personnel say there’s direct links between high speeds and severe and deadly snowmobile accidents.

A Hancock man has been sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiring to make and distribute methamphetamine.  Court documents say the 46-year-old Michael Wood made and distributed meth at his home during the fall of 2012.  That November, the Vermont Drug Task Force made controlled purchases of meth from Wood and eventually executed a search warrant.  Wood was sentenced earlier today in federal court in Rutland.

Apparently a lot of Vermonters feel strongly about the surveillance of Americans by the National Security Agency.  Senator Bernie Sanders held a town meeting Saturday with the topic being constitutional rights and privacy, focusing his talk on the N-S-A’s surveillance of phone calls and e-mails.  That created a packed house at the Montpelier City Hall, with Congressman Peter Welch, the executive director of the National Lawyers Guild and a Georgetown law professor as additional speakers.  Sanders say he’s going to continue to support legislation which protects Americans without undermining constitutional rights.

If all goes according to plan, the Vergennes Police Department should be able to move into their new headquarters by the end of the month.  Last week, City Manager Mel Hawley announced that construction has been on schedule.  Which means it should be completed during the last week of the month.  That’s when the Police Department will start transitioning over to the new $1.7-million dollar facility.   

The Vermont Student Assistance Corporation is going to be able to continue to service education loans for Vermonters.  U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch visited VSAC headquarters in Winooski today where they highlighted the role the nonprofit student lender plays in providing Vermonters the resources they need to pursue higher education.  The appropriations bill, signed into law last month will increase funding levels for some VSAC programs while also increasing the maximum award for Pell Grants.