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.