Monday, July 14, 2014

WVTK Local & State News July 14, 2014

The Conservation Law Foundation has asked the Public Service Board today to require Vermont Gas Systems to seek an amended certificate of public good for Phase I of its natural gas pipeline project. In its filing, CLF cited a $35 million, or 40 percent, increase in the cost of the project. CLF also asked the board to require VGS to halt construction unless and until it receives an amended permit.

The cooperative Dairy Farmers of America has agreed to pay a total of $50 million to thousands of Northeast dairy farmers to settle antitrust allegations. A class-action lawsuit filed in 2009 charged Dallas-based Dean Foods, DFA, and the cooperative's marketing arm, Dairy Marketing Services, with working together to monopolize the market for raw milk in the Northeast, driving down prices paid to dairy farmers. DFA does not admit any wrongdoing under the terms of the settlement. It says the legal costs have become too great.

The Vermont State Police have renewed their agreement with the state Department of Corrections to help fight drug smuggling at prisons with the use of police dogs. The police are providing dog teams on a pre-planned and on-call basis to search correctional facilities, including during visitation hours. State police, in cooperation with the Department of Corrections, have investigated several attempted smuggling and contraband cases in the last few months.

Vermont State Officials say higher gas prices would mean better roads. State and highway officials met to discuss possible ways to replenish the national Highway Trust Fund, which they say is running out of money. There are 38 highway construction projects scheduled to start August 1 and they are threatened to be delayed or stopped altogether. Officials say an increase in the federal gas tax would fix the problem.

It's likely to be another week before the results of a strike authorization vote by members of the union representing FairPoint Communications workers are known. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, IBEW, represents about 18-hundred FairPoint employees in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. While votes authorizing a strike sometime between now and the expiration of its contract with FairPoint August 2nd were expected to be counted by Sunday, there's problems in New Hampshire. Ongoing outages caused by the weather have prevented workers from attending meetings to vote.

More than 300 players divided into 28 teams to compete in the 21st Annual Rutland Mud Volleyball Tournament. The event benefits Epilepsy Foundation of Vermont and raised more than $8,000 dollars. The funds will go to various programs for children and families living with epilepsy.