Friday, May 30, 2014

WVTK Local & State News May 30, 2014

A statewide emergency exercise will be conducted next week in Vermont. A press release says federal, state, and local responders will exercise emergency plans and procedures in a statewide catastrophic exercise from June 2-7. Activities will simulate multiple disasters affecting all corners of the state. About 1,600 participants will be participating in the exercises. Questions about the exercises should be directed to the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security at 1-800-347-0488.

New York State Police is warning the public about a text messaging scam. Police say they have received numerous reports of citizens receiving a text message from either Adirondack Regional Bank or Adirondack Federal Bank advising that there was a problem with their account. The text message instructs the individual to call a number and enter their social security and credit/debit card number. Police say the text message has also gone to non-customers.

The annual Vermont Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics are passing through Rutland and Addison counties today. The run is a series of four relay-style running events, beginning in the four corners of our state. Local law enforcement and public safety, along with local program athletes, coordinators, and coaches, run the “Flame of Hope” through their local towns and cities to raise awareness of Special Olympics and athletes with intellectual disabilities. Tonight, Torch Runners will assemble at the Windjammer in South Burlington to run the Final Leg of the Torch Run together. Final Leg runners will escort the Flame of Hope into Opening Ceremonies of Summer Games at the University of Vermont.

A Ferrisburgh man is charged with six counts of promoting child pornography. A press release says 41-year-old Scott Cota posted several advertisements on Craigslist looking for "taboo" materials. Through the advertisements, individuals traded files with Cota containing inappropriate images and movies. Cota pleaded not guilty. The court set bail at $100,000 cash and imposed conditions of release that would limit his access to children and the internet.

If you want to participate in the annual Lake Champlain International Fishing Derby, you'd better hurry up and register. The deadline to sign-up online is Saturday at midnight or in one of 40 different area stores. The L-C-I derby is slated for Father's Day weekend, June 14th through the 16th. Organizers say they've got a new give-away this year, a 23-foot star-craft pontoon boat with a 115-horsepower Yamaha outboard engine. And, it has a Lawrance fish finder!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

WVTK Local & State News May 29, 2014

Water service on Weybridge Street in Middlebury was schedule to be shut off today has been rescheduled for next Tuesday, June 3. Officials say since construction at the intersections of Charles Avenue, Water Street and Duane Court on Thursday and Friday, they decided to postpone the water main shut off. Please call the Middlebury Water Department at 802-388-4045 with any questions or concerns.

Outgoing Superintendent of Burlington Schools Jeanne Collins has been offered a new job. At a meeting yesterday, the school board of the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union voted to offer Collins a one-year contract as superintendent. Collins and RNESU will now enter contract negotiations. The board would like her to start July 1st, soon after she's done in Burlington.

A Winooski mother is pleading not guilty to charges of second-degree murder in the death of her 15-month-old son. Nytosha Laforce was in court yesterday, answering to the charges connected with the death last month of her son, Peighton Geraw. Police documents say the woman's boyfriend saw Laforce banging the child's head against the floor just hours before he died. The injuries apparently also happened before a state case worker arrived at the home to check on the boy.

L.L.Bean announced today that they plan on opening a store in the Burlington Town Center. The store is slated to open in October 2014. L.L.Bean says the decision to expand its retail presence into Burlington due to the large number of catalog and web customers in the area, as well as the proximity to abundant natural resources and opportunities for many outdoor activities. The store will employ approximately 100 people. L.L.Bean will hold a 3-day celebration when it opens in October.

Authorities say the damage from Tuesday’s storm was not a Tornado. The National Weather Service inspected the damage in Addison and Rutland Counties, but determined it was not caused by a tornado. Instead, they say it was caused by intense, straight line winds gusting 75-85 mph. Large golf ball sized hail also did a large amount of damage.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

WVTK Local & State News May 28, 2014

Work is underway to find out how much damage a severe storm caused in Rutland and Addison Counties. It hit communities including Bridport, Cornwall, Shoreham, and Rutland yesterday afternoon. Numerous tree branches were knocked down, sometimes taking out power lines. Heavy rain caused storm water to rush down West Street in Rutland. The storm also included hail, some as large as two inches in diameter or the size of a golf ball.

3SquaresVT is holding an outreach and policy conference on Thursday. A press release says the conference will allow advocates to learn more about how the 3SquaresVT program works, hear from policy experts from the Department for Children and Families, and brainstorm new outreach ideas. More than 80 advocates from more than 40 organizations across Vermont are expected to attend the conference. 3SquaresVT provides benefits to over 92,000 Vermonters to buy more nutritious food at grocery stores and farmers’ markets.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced discounts at state campgrounds. The discount includes $5 off regular rates through June 26. The deal covers New York State Parks and Department of Environmental Conservation operated campgrounds in nearly every region. The deal excludes Hither Hills State Park, mooring buoys, walk-ins and previous reservations. To get the discount visit and enter the promo code EARLYCAMP14 or call 800.456.CAMP.

Voters in Brandon will get a third chance to vote on a $3-million municipal budget next month along with the option to approve three separate funding line items. The Select Board last night set June 24 for the next vote on the budget. The budget approved last night is the same one that was soundly defeated by voters earlier this month. But unlike the last budget vote, voters will also be give the opportunity to approve additional funding for targeted purposes.

Gov. Peter Shumlin is signing into law a bill calling for every 3- and 4-year-old in Vermont to have access to at least 10 hours a week of publicly funded, pre-kindergarten education. Backers of the bill say it will add about $10 million a year in costs to the state's Education Fund by 2021. The bill also contains a provision allowing public money to follow a child from his or her home school district to another one, for example, where a parent works. Some critics of the measure say they oppose that provision.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

WVTK Local & State News May 27, 2014

The Middlebury Selectboard will be discussing “Phase II” of the Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project. “Phase II” calls for the construction of a pipeline through Middlebury, Cornwall, and Shoreham, under Lake Champlain, and to the International Paper Mill in Ticonderoga. Residents in both Cornwall and Shoreham passed resolutions back in March opposing the “Phase II” project. Tonight the selectboard will discuss the project and potentially take a pro or con position. Tonight’s meeting starts at 7 o’clock in the Large Conference Room of the Town Offices.

The Vermont Committee on Child Protection will hold nine public hearings across the state next month on the State’s current system of child protection. The public is being urged to attend and present their experiences and observations. Each hearing will last about 90 minutes. The two closes meetings will take place next Tuesday at 6 PM at the Rutland High School Theater and next Thursday at 5:30 PM at the Ilsley Public Library’s Community Room.

Police are reminding dog owners about the dangers of leaving pets in hot cars. Police say they responded to hundreds of complaints last year. In two cases, officers had to smash windows to save dogs. South Burlington Animal Control Officer JoAnn Nichols has scheduled a public awareness event tomorrow afternoon from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the University Mall. Volunteers from the Humane Society of Chittenden County will be at the event to help spread the word about the dangers of leaving your dog in the car, even when it doesn't feel hot outside.

The Bristol Town Clerk will become the next Town Administrator. The selectboard has been looking for a new administrator for some time and choose to 47-year-old Therese Kirby to fill the position. Kirby had been the Town Clerk since 2006 and will take over as the Town Administrator on July 1st. She will be the first female Town Administrator in Bristol’s history.

A 28-foot whaling boat built by Vermont teenagers will be docked at Basin Harbor for a month before moving to Mystic Seaport in Connecticut. The boat will serve as an interactive exhibit on the Charles W. Morgan, a restored whale ship. Six students at the Hannaford Career Center in Middlebury worked on the project four days a week at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum before celebrating its completion last week.

Friday, May 23, 2014

WVTK Local & State News May 23, 2014

While you’re traveling this weekend, be sure to have your seatbelt on. Law enforcement agencies across the area have kicked off the “Click It or Ticket” campaign. In order to enforce seat belt and other traffic laws, state, county and local law enforcement agencies began stepping up enforcement will continue the campaign through June 1 with high-visibility patrols and safety check points throughout Addison County highways.

The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) announced $4.6 million in farmland conservation grants. A press release says the grants will protect 3,093 acres of agricultural land on 18 farms. The grants will be used to purchase developmental rights from farm owners and protect the land from development and provide capital to farmers. The farms that will be protected under the grant include operating dairies, commercial crop farms, beef farms, and farmland providing additional land to existing farms. Funding for VHCB’s farmland protection program comes from both federal and state sources.

Matt Doheny may have an edge in New York's 21st Congressional Race. According to research firm Public Opinion Strategies, Doheny is leading opponent Aaron Woolf 43 to 21 percent. This comes from a survey of possible general election voters. Congressman Bill Owens decided he would not seek re-election this fall.

Now might be a good time to start looking for a house. Mortgage rates are at the lowest level since October. Freddie Mac says the average rate for a 30 year, fixed-rate loan fell to 4.14 percent. Lower mortgage rates however have not boosted the housing market.

A majority of Vermonters support the idea of making marijuana legal. This comes from a survey conducted by Castleton's Polling Institute. 57-percent said they're fine with taxing the drug and regulating it, similar to alcohol. The survey polled a little more than 600 Vermonters. The Vermont legislature approved a bill last month that would look at the potential impact of legalizing marijuana in the state.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

WVTK Local & State News May 20, 2014

The Randolph man accused of kidnapping and murdering his 12-year-old niece in 2008 was in court yesterday were he pled guilty to the charges. The last time Brook Bennett was seen alive was at a convenience store. After that police say Michael Jacques brought her back to his home, where he drugged, sexually assaulted her and killed her. He then buried her body and tried to throw investigators off his track. District Judge Williams Sessions asked Jacques if everything was true. His response was, "I'm afraid it is." Today Jacques was sentenced to life in prison plus an additional 70 years. The judge ordered Jacques to never be released for any reason.

Law enforcement will hit the roads this week with a special emphasis on making sure you buckle up. The nationwide "click it or ticket" campaign kicked off last night for the summer. State police in both New York and Vermont are working together to drive home the issue. Nationwide, more than half of drivers and passengers killed in crashes are not wearing seat belts. For that reason, leaders will not only be targeting drivers.

Vermont's Secretary of Transportation has asked her staff to re-evaluate whether the state could impose interstate tolls. Under federal law, Vermont, which has used a lot of federal money to build its roads, isn't allowed to charge tolls. But a plan is being considered that would allow all states to charge an interstate toll if they want to. Officials say it's important to study the tolling options because gas-tax revenues are no longer keeping pace with financing needs.

TDI New England has formally asked the U.S. Department of Energy for approval to build a 1,000-megawatt, underwater and underground power line to bring Canadian power through Vermont to New England. Their plan is to run the line 154 miles from the Canadian border under Lake Champlain and then east to Ludlow. In Ludlow, developers plan to hook into the Vermont Electric Power Co. high-voltage transmission network, which will enable the power to be sent to southern New England. The project also needs approval from the Vermont Public Service Board and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

A New York Senator has introduced legislation banning powdered alcohol. Powdered alcohol is a concentrated alcoholic beverage also known as "Palcohol." A press release says the legislation would ban the product in New York should the FDA decide to allow the product to be manufactured again in the United States. Alaska outlawed powdered alcohol, and legislation to ban it is pending in Minnesota and Vermont.

Monday, May 19, 2014

WVTK Local & State News May 19, 2014

The head of the organization that oversees Vermont's 911 emergency telephone system says the state is the first in the country where customers of the four major wireless carriers can send text messages to 911. David Tucker says that as of today T-Mobile customers in Vermont are now able to text 911. Verizon, AT&T and Sprint began the service earlier. Tucker says Verizon set up a test system in 2012 and kept using it after the test proved successful. Tucker emphasizes that wireless customers should only use the texting option only when calling 911 is not possible.

The Williston Police Department is looking to identify the man they say may have left the scene of an accident. Police say the accident happened on Connor Way in Maple Tree Place on Saturday at around 10:15 a.m. Police were able to capture the man in question on video surveillance. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Williston Police Department at (802)-878-6611.

The Middlebury Planning Commission will have there regular meeting tonight at 6 o’clock at the Ilsley Library. Tonight they will be discussing the town plan. There will also be a presentation of the Middlebury Zoning and Subdivision updates along with public comments and suggestions.

It's about to get a bit more expensive to study at the University of Vermont. On Saturday, the board for UVM approved a 3.4% increase for both in-state and out-of-state tuition. That brings it up to just over $14,000 for students who are also Vermont residents, and more than $35,800 for out-of-staters. The next fiscal year budget was also approved at just over $309 million.

That's it for another year as far as the winter skiing/snowboarding season is concerned. On Sunday, Killington Resort closed for the season, the last ski area in Vermont to call it a year. According to Killington, as of Sunday the season which started last year ran for 199 days. Jay Peak shut down for the season last weekend.

Friday, May 16, 2014

WVTK Local & State News May 16, 2014

Vermont's unemployment rate continues to creep downward, registering at 3.3 percent in April, down one-tenth of a point from March. The state Department of Labor reports that the seasonally-adjusted rate, compared to a national average unemployment rate of 6.3 percent, nearly double Vermont's. The national rate dropped by four-tenths of a percentage point. Once again, Vermont ranked second-lowest in the country for unemployment, behind North Dakota, which is in the midst of an oil boom.

The Shumlin administration is developing a contingency plan to make certain that a possible lack of federal funds doesn't delay highway projects this year. Transportation Secretary Brian Searles says he's developing a plan with State Treasurer Beth Pearce to tap into the state's cash flow account on a short-term basis to make sure some critical road projects stay on schedule. Unless Congress acts by the middle of July, the federal Highway Trust Fund is going to run out of money for state road construction projects. Dozens of projects could be delayed in Vermont.

The Green Mountain National Forest is opening campsites for the season next Friday, May 23. A press release says over the past several weeks, the U.S. Forest Service employees and partners were working to prepare the sites and other camping facilities. The forest offers several recreational opportunities including picnicking, camping, hiking, backpacking, fishing, hunting, boating and canoeing.

New York State Police will be participating in the Click It or Ticket campaign, which starts Monday. Police say they will be out in full force and enforcing seatbelt laws. Major Richard C. Smith, Jr., Troop “ B” Commander says, “Our Troopers are prepared to ticket anyone who is not wearing their seat belt, including drivers that have neglected to properly buckle their children. – Click It or Ticket.” In 2013, there were 5 crashes that killed unrestrained occupants in the area that Troop B covers.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont says the Veterans Affairs system needs to change. Sanders is the chair of the Veterans Affairs Senate Committee. Thursday, he led the questioning of Eric Shinseki, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs about reports of vets dying while waiting for care at certain hospitals. Sanders called every one of those deaths a shame, and something that has to be addressed. Shinseki says as far as he knows, the delays in treatment and other issues are isolated incidents. The inspector general is conducting an investigation into whether it's a bigger problem.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

WVTK Local & State News May 15, 2014

A proposed FDA rule could cost farmers and breweries thousands of dollars. Currently, farmers are getting feed for their cows in the form of "mash". That is the left over malted barley combined with grains that brewers use in their beer making process. The FDA is proposing the grain instead be dumped in landfills. This would force farmers to find feed elsewhere and cost breweries to ship it off to landfills. Congressman Peter Welch says the FDA hasn't given a reason for the rule change.

The Shumlin administration is preparing to launch a study of what marijuana legalization might look like in Vermont. Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding says it likely will look at the two other states that have gone first on legalization: Colorado and Washington state. Lawmakers asked that the study be done by January. Spaulding says that can be achieved, but he says Colorado and Washington may not have had enough experience by then to provide good data. Legislation calling for the study said one focus should be on the potential revenue the state could collect if it taxed and regulated marijuana.

Vermont State Police, assisted by local law enforcement agencies, will conduct DUI sobriety checkpoints May 19-30 in the Rutland County area. Vermonters are urged to use a designated driver whenever necessary and to wear seatbelts.

Police in Burlington, Vermont, have arrested four people on a charge of selling cocaine following a two-month investigation. Police conducted three simultaneous search warrants at residences on Thursday. They seized cocaine, cash and a loaded firearm.

Voters in the Moriah Central School District will go the polls next week to decide on a budget for next school year. The 2014-15 spending plan adopted by the school board calls for a 4.5 percent increase in appropriations from $15-million this year to $15.6-million in 2014-15. Voters will also be asked to approve a proposition for the district to purchase two buses and one passenger van. Voting on the 2014-15 school budget will take place at the school from noon to 8 p.m. next Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

WVTK Local & State News May 14, 2014

Residents in Middlebury, once again, said yes to a proposal to build a new town office and a new public recreation facility. This was the second time the $6.5 million project was approved; the first time being on Town Meeting Day. A petition since then triggered a revote. Yesterday’s vote tally was 880 'yes' to 714 'no'. Since the majority voted yes, a new town office building will be built on the site of the Osborne House downtown, and a public recreation and athletic facility will be constructed on Creek Road. The town's portion of the construction cost, with some financial help from Middlebury College, is estimated at $2 million.

Governor Peter Shumlin is now calling for an investigation of the state Department for Children and Families after a second child in three months has died under the watchful eye of state. The latest death was a 15-month-old boy from Winooski who died of head and neck trauma last month. Just one hour before his death a case worker from DCF visited the home and saw the boy sleeping in his crib with bruises on his neck. The first one, back in February, was 2-year-old Dezirae Sheldon, who was returned to the custody of her mother and stepfather despite concerns about violence in the home.

L.L. Bean is thinking about opening up a store in Burlington. A spokesperson for the company says they have been taking a hard look at the Burlington area, but nothing is set in stone. They added, I hope to share more information in the near-future. L.L. Bean currently operates 19 retail stores outside of Maine.

Governor Peter Shumlin today signed into law legislation protecting the identities of ‘whistleblowers,’ those who step forward to report suspected violations of law, waste, fraud or abuse of authority by public officials or employees. The legislation was proposed by State Auditor of Accounts Doug Hoffer, who was concerned that under current law he could be legally compelled to disclose the identities of whistleblowers if requested.

Federal regulators say Vermont's plan for cleaning up Lake Champlain needs improvement. The state is working to reduce phosphorus buildup in the lake by reducing runoff from farms and developed areas, and discharges from sewage plants. But the Environmental Protection Agency says the state's plan needs to be strengthened in several areas. One big concern is the state has not identified how to pay for the plan. The EPA wants to see a revised plan by the end of the month.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

WVTK Local & State News May 13, 2014

Middlebury Voters are heading to the polls today to decide on the fate of the new Municipal Building and Gymnasium Project. The proposal calls for building a new municipal building on the so called Osborne House Site and a new Gymnasium on Creak Road. On Town Meeting Day, the $6.5 million project passed by a vote of 915 to 798. Since then a petition was signed by enough residents to trigger a revote. If a majority of voters today vote "Yes," the bond will pass and the project will go forward as originally proposed. If a majority of voters vote "No" and meet a minimum threshold of 611 votes, the bond will not be approved. The polls are open today till 7 o’clock at the current Municipal Building.

Police in Starksboro are investigating a break in at the Town Offices. Authorities say a person or persons broke into the storage shed, which stores some sports equipment. The suspects then broke into the town office vandalized the office and removed the copper water pipes from the basement. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the New Haven State Police at (802) 388-4919.

Participants in Vermont's Reach Up welfare-to-work program will be seeing longer-lasting child care subsidies and an increase in the amount of income the program will disregard when calculating benefits. Supporters say the legislation will help address a so-called "benefit cliff," in which people sometimes go to work and find they're earning less in a low-wage job than they were getting in state benefits.

A police report says a state social worker had checked on a Winooski baby less than an hour before the child died. 14-month-old Peighton Geraw died April 4 from trauma to the neck and head. Police have ruled his death was a homicide. Investigators found that a caseworker from the Vermont Department of Children and Families had visited the home in Winooski to investigate a child abuse claim. The caseworker later told police he observed bruises on the baby's neck as the child was sleeping in a crib, but did not take any action. The police report shows the child was found not breathing about 40 minutes after the caseworker left the home.

There was a ribbon cutting earlier today in Rutland celebrating the city's first community solar array. Fifty residents and businesses will get solar power from the Hillside Road project at no upfront cost and get a credit on their electric bills for energy produced. The project was a cooperative effort between NRG and Green Mountain Power.

Monday, May 12, 2014

WVTK Local & State News May 12, 2014

The Vermont Attorney General's office is starting to make the rules that will govern the state's new law requiring the labeling of foods produced with genetic engineering. Attorney General William Sorrell says that over the next several weeks his office will begin soliciting input from the public and those who will be affected by the rules, including food processors, grocers and other retailers, the agricultural community, and consumers. Last week Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the law that takes effect in mid-2016. Opponents of the labeling requirement are vowing to sue. And some in Congress are working on a bill that would forbid states from passing and enforcing GMO labeling laws.

A stabbing in Rutland is now under investigation. According to police, a man was stabbed in the arm early yesterday morning outside of a bar on Merchants Row. Investigators say he got into a fight with two other men, but so far no one is charged in the attack. The victim was treated at the hospital and released.

Bristol Police are investigating a theft from an unlocked vehicle from a resident on Church Street.
Police say cash, fuel, three silver necklaces, and a cell phone were taken from the vehicle. The theft is believed to have happened sometime between 11 o’clock last night and 6 AM this morning. Anyone with information is asked to contact Bristol Police Department at (802)-453-2533. A press release says Vermont State Police are investigating burglaries at several locations in Starksboro and a connection has not been ruled out.

An Addison boy is recovering today at Fletcher Allen Hospital after being injured by a skid steer. According to reports, the young boy was run over by the skid steer earlier Saturday Morning. Paramedics say the boy is being treated for multiple injuries. Crews from Vergennes Rescue, Addison Fire Department, Townline 1st Response, and Essex Rescue all responded to help with the incident.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders says he has a plan to make it easier for children from working families to go to college. Sanders says he plans to introduce legislation in the Senate early next week to help students earn college credits while still in high school. He says the proposal would cut the time and the cost of earning a college diploma. The legislation is being co-sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy, of Vermont, and Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

Friday, May 9, 2014

WVTK Local & State News May 9, 2014

Vermont is officially the first state requiring G-M-O labeling. Governor Peter Shumlin signed the bill into law Thursday, requiring foods containing genetically modified organisms to carry labels saying so. That goes into effect a little over two years from now on July 1st, 2016. The delay in starting up the new law allows the state attorney general to have more time to form a defense and raise money for potential lawsuits which are anticipated by food manufacturers.

New Netflix subscribers will now have to pay a dollar more. The company sent an e-mail to subscribers saying it's raising prices to $8.99 per month. That only applies to new subscribers for now. Netflix says current members will be locked into their $7.99 a month rate for two years. Netflix warned last month that it was planning a price increase so it could "continue adding more movies and TV shows."

Officials are trying to figure out why the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Rutland, Vermont, is closed. A sign on the front door says Post 648 is closed "until further notice." Russell Bibens, commander of the state VFW, said the post is on suspension for 90 days. He added the issue is "not for public dissemination."

The Vermont House has delayed voting on an increase in the state's minimum wage due to a technical error in legislative documents. The House was in the middle of a debate over a compromise increase when it was discovered that the House calendar, the document that lists bills to be taken up each day, did not accurately reflect the version of the bill passed by the Senate. House Speaker Shap Smith ruled that the debate would have to be put off, perhaps until tomorrow, which is supposed to be the last day of the session.

Residents of the five towns in the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union will head to the polls on Tuesday to vote for the second time on a budget for Vergennes Union High School. The original $9.3 Million proposal on Town Meeting Day was rejected by a tally of 961 to 747.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

WVTK Local & State News May 8, 2014

Residents in Middlebury will go to the polls next Tuesday for the re-vote on the $6.5 million plan to build new town offices and a recreation center. On Town Meeting Day, voters said yes in favor of the plan but a petition triggered a re-vote on the project that will build a new municipal building on Main Street and a new Recreation Center to be built on Creek Road. Also on Tuesday, voters in Ferrisburgh will decide the fate of the Ferrisburgh Central School budget. The original proposal was defeated on Town Meeting Day. The new $3.5-million budget proposal is $120,000 less the plan on Town Meeting Day.

Even though it's getting warmer out, don't be tempted to take a dip in the lake. While the air may feel warmer, it takes a lot longer for the lake to warm up. The National Weather Service issued a cold water warning Wednesday reminding people to be cautious. Right now, Lake Champlain is hovering around 40 degrees and if you fall into water that cold, hypothermia can set in quickly. Meteorologists say by late July - early August the lake should be at its warmest temperature, which is usually in the low 70's.

The state of Vermont wants to make it easier for people to make their child support payments. The Office of Child Support announced Wednesday it had launched a new service that allows parents and employers to make child support payments online with credit or debit cards. Child Support Director Jeff Cohen says officials believe the flexible payment options will help people make their payments faster and on time. They also expect the options to increase the total amount of child support collected for children in Vermont.

A Shelburne woman has been arrested after leading police on a high-speed car chase through three towns. Just after 5 PM yesterday afternoon, South Burlington Police received a report of a vehicle driving erratically. Authorities met the woman, 58-year-old Ann Cooper, at her home, that’s when she took off. At one point, they say, Cooper's vehicle even veered onto a golf course, missing golfers, before driving back onto Spear Street. Eventually police were able to corner the driver in front of the Williston State Police barracks. Officers from South Burlington, Williston and Hinesburg as well as Vermont State Police responded. Officials say no one was hurt and there was minimal damage to their cruisers. Cooper is charged with DUI, gross negligent operation, driving with a suspended license and attempting to elude a police officer.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

WVTK Local & State News May 7, 2014

A ban on hand-held electronic devices including cellphones in Vermont is expected to be heading to the governor’s desk soon. A conference committee of state legislators has come up with a bill that would make it illegal to use a hand-held electronic device while driving. Offenders would receive fines but not points on their license. Both the House and Senate are expected to pass the committee version of the bill and although Governor Shumlin has been against such legislation, an aide has said he likes the compromises in the bill and will likely sign it.

The Chittenden County prosecutor says the fatal shooting of an Army veteran by one of his two teenage children was legally justified because the man had threatened to kill his family with a gun. Authorities say 44-year-old Kryn Miner was being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury from multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was killed at his Essex Junction home April 26. No one will be charged in the shooting.

New York lawmakers have passed a bill to boost the availability of a drug that reverses heroin overdoses. The bipartisan measure would allow health care professionals to provide orders for the drug known as Narcan to certified training programs and pharmacies. Pharmacists would then be able to issue the kits to anyone at risk of an overdose or their caretaker and instruct them on how to administer the drug. The bill now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

It's a very big step in a long anticipated recovery from Tropical Storm Irene. Tuesday the foundation was laid for in Waterbury for a new 86-thousand square foot state office building. Nearly three years ago, floods from the tropical storm displaced more than 15-hundred state workers from the destroyed office complex. A new one comes at the cost of 125-million dollars for what Governor Peter Shumlin called the launch of the single biggest capital construction project in Vermont's history. It's slated for completion in December 2015.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin says 110 AmeriCorps members will serve with over 75 organizations in the state. Shumlin announced yesterday that the state has received $1.2 million from the Corporation for National and Community Service. The AmeriCorps members will tackle challenges in Vermont that include supporting veterans and military families, preserving the environment, assisting low-income Vermonters in securing and maintaining safe, affordable housing. The Vermont AmeriCorps positions are among $205 million in grants across the country that will allow more than 43,000 Americans to serve as AmeriCorps members.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

WVTK Local & State News May 6, 2014

Voters in Brandon are going to the polls today to try and pass a budget for the next fiscal year starting in July. Last year, it took 4 votes to pass the current budget. This year, the budget was defeated at Town Meeting Day. The proposed budget is $3,218,670 of which $2,613,995 would be raised through property taxes. The revised budget is only $57,000 less than the one that was soundly defeated on Town Meeting Day. The polls are open at the Neshobe School tonight until 7 p.m.

While a plan bringing a natural gas pipeline across Vermont is controversial, it also has its supporters, and now the first contract to build it is now signed. Engineers Construction Incorporated, a local Williston company got the 300-million dollar contract and will start drilling in June for Phase 1 of the Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project. That will extend natural gas service to Vermonters in Monkton, St. George, Bristol and New Haven. Engineers Construction will be adding 30 new employees for the project.

If Governor Peter Shumlin puts his signature on it, a new law moving the state's Primary election will shift back from the fourth Tuesday in August to the second Tuesday. The bill approved by lawmakers would not go into effect, though, until 2016. The federal Department of Justice says the current system does not give Vermont enough time to mail general election ballots to those voters working overseas in the military.

If you're in the market for everything from a plow truck to a kayak, the State of Vermont has a deal for you. At this state auction, there are no reserves which everything will be sold to the highest bidder. The director of Vermont's Government Business Services says there are about 100 items headed for the auction block. They includes snow plows, cars, trucks, kayaks, and snowmobiles. The auction will take place at the Agency of Transportation Central Garage in Berlin. There will be an early preview on Friday from 11am to 3pm to check out the items. Also Saturday from 8 to 10am. The auction starts right at ten.

Monday, May 5, 2014

WVTK Local & State News May 5, 2014

Starting today it's illegal to have your car idling for more than five minutes. It's part of a new law which is meant to save fuel and cut down on carbon emissions. The fine is 10-bucks for the first offense, 50-dollars the second time and a hundred bucks if there's a third. The new law, which was actually passed last year, does not apply to police, fire and other emergency vehicles, nor for commercial buses if passengers are on board. Other exceptions are the time it takes to defrost a windshield, or if providing power to a contractor.

Officials say this year’s Green-Up Day in Vermont was a success. This past Saturday, about 15-thousand Vermonters collected nearly four-thousand bags of trash, with volunteers organizing teams or working individually to pick up garbage alongside streets, highways, parks and other public spots. Cuts in corporate funding threaten the existence and continuation of Green Up Vermont, and the president of the non-profit says if the current trend continues, they won't have enough to continue after 2015.

The Vermont Senate is slated to take final action on a bill calling for enhanced police training on the use of electronic stun guns. Legislative action comes nearly two years after a 39-year-old Thetford man, MacAdam Mason, died of heart failure after being struck in the chest by a state trooper's Taser. The bill calling for the state's Law Enforcement Advisory Board to study whether police carrying Tasers should also be required to wear body cameras that would record their actions.

Senator Chuck Schumer is calling on the FDA to investigate and even ban the sale of powdered alcohol. Also known as "Palcohol" the substance is undergoing a federal label approval process now, and could hit shelves by this fall. Schumer said Palcohol is a dangerous substance, that can easily be mixed with food, drinks, or even snorted. He said most importantly, underage kids could easily get a hold of it.

The Boro Cemetery in Monkon is filled with history, with graves dating back into the 1800's, another reason why local citizens are horrified by the recent vandalism there. Two local kids are now charged with tipping over numerous gravestones Friday, breaking many off at the base. One of the graves was that of a veteran from the War of 1812. Early estimates of damages are around 800-dollars, but if it goes higher the teenagers could be looking at felony charges.

Friday, May 2, 2014

WVTK Local & State News May 2, 2014

You wouldn’t know it by the pace they’re keeping but there is a little over a week left in the current session of the state Legislature. Several measures passed yesterday with lengthy debate on what the due date should be for the governor's financing plan for single-payer health care. The date currently proposed is by January 15th following the November elections. However, Republicans want it pushed back to October, just before voters go to the polls. Either way, if the governor cannot produce a suitable plan, the current version strips single-payer implementation.

We may get a break at the pumps during the summer travel season. Gas prices usually climb during the peak summer vacation months. According to USA Today, the prices this year seem to be rising ahead of time. Gas is averaging about $3.69 a gallon. That's up from $3.53 a month ago. But wholesale prices seem to have topped out since hitting a high of $3.11 last week.

The Vermont Air National Guard released a report about how it plans to reduce the impact of the F-35s on the community and environment. A 17-page report spells out what the guard plans to do during construction on the base in anticipation of the jets' arrival. It also looks at the jets themselves. The report acknowledges the biggest issue will be the noise. To reduce the noise impact, right now the guard says the plan to is keep doing what they're doing with the current F-16's, which includes changes to how the jets takeoff and land. Since the F-35 program is so new, the report says when the jets arrive in Burlington in 2020 additional measures to lessen the noise impact will be looked into.

Gov. Peter Shumlin says Vermont is embarking on its largest paving effort in the state's history, following a tough winter. He says the state will be improving 375 miles of pavement on roadways around Vermont, thanks in part to a federal allocation following Tropical Storm Irene. Sen. Bernie Sanders included a provision in the 2012 highway bill that will bring an additional $9 million to the state.

The Vermont Senate is set to take up legislation to increase the state minimum wage to $10.50 by 2018. That's a larger increase than called for recently by the House, but takes effect more slowly. A House version of the bill calls for raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour by January 1st. Gov. Peter Shumlin and President Barack Obama both are supporting an increase to $10.10 by 2017. During Senate debate, some amendments are expected to be offered that could change the timeline for the increase.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

WVTK Local & State News May 1, 2014

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin will sign the GMO bill into law next week. A press release says the bill requires the labeling of foods that contain GMOs. There will be a bill signing ceremony at the Statehouse next Thursday at 2:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend the bill signing.

The Vermont Health Department to award $1.5 million in grants to help prevent chronic illness across the state. A press release says the grants will be used to support smoke-free parks and housing, safe places to be physically active, better access to healthy foods, and programs to prevent alcohol and drug abuse. The grants will be distributed over the course of three years to 18 community organizations.

Vermont Gas Systems has purchased 53 acres of land in Monkton. In addition to this land purchase, Vermont Gas has also bought easements to lay a natural gas pipeline across at least a quarter of the Monkton properties slated to host Phase I of the Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project. Vermont Gas has not disclosed what the land in this resent purchase will be used for.

Lake Champlain really ranks up there as a fishing lake. That's the opinion of Bassmaster Magazine's 2014 "Top 100 Best Bass Lakes" in the U-S. Lake Champlain came in at number 27. Another Vermont waterway, Lake Memphremagog also made the top 100, ranked as 44th. The number one lake for bass fishing? According to Bassmaster, it's Lake Michigan's Sturgeon Bay.

The cleanest air in the country can be found in Bangor, Maine and a few other communities, but Vermont isn't far behind. A new report released Wednesday by the American Lung Association gave the 50 states a report card on the air, looking at ozone levels and more, revealing nearly half of all Americans live in counties with dirty air. Two Vermont counties were included in the survey, with Chittenden getting an "A" and Bennington getting a "B". The areas with the worst air can be found in Los Angeles, and the Fresno-Madera region of California.

The Vermont Public Service Board will hold the first of two public hearings on Vermont Gas Systems’ “Phase II” pipeline project that would carry natural gas from Middlebury to the International Paper mill in Ticonderoga. The meeting will take place next Wednesday, May 7, at the Shoreham School.