Tuesday, September 30, 2014

WVTK Local & State News September 30, 2014

A fire this morning destroyed a barn on Daniels Road in New Haven. At around 6:30 this morning, firefighters were called to scene were there were reports of smoke coming from the barn. Firefighters quickly got the blaze under control, but the barn was a total loss. By 7:15 a.m. crews were using a backhoe to knock down the structure in order to pour water on embers that were still burning. The barn was used to store equipment and hay. The owner estimates there was at least $200,000 in equipment destroyed. No firefighters or any of the 800 cows were injured.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved construction of a natural gas pipeline to run from Middlebury, under Lake Champlain, to Ticonderoga. In an order dated September 26, the federal commission granted Vermont Gas permission to build the pipeline in accordance with a section of a federal law called the Natural Gas Act.

State and local police are announcing a new program, "Stop the Violence VT", aimed at curbing domestic violence. 60% of Vermont's homicides last year were domestic violence, and one in five women experience domestic violence during their lifetimes. Police will provide public education, with an emphasis on boys and young men. Police will also get enhanced training that emphasizes victim support.

There's a new lawman in town. Castleton's new police chief is Peter Mantello, who started in the job this month. His background is in the military, but he comes most recently from Woodstock, where he was a police officer for over 20 years. He is replacing Chief Bruce Sherwin, who retired in June after a 40-year career in law enforcement.

Just a reminder … tomorrow, Vermont will become the 15th state to prohibit all drivers from using hand-held devices while driving. The ban covers all portable electronic devices, including, music players, laptop computers, and cellular telephones. If you’re caught using a hand-held the fine, including fees, for a first offense will be $162. And police can pull you over if they see you using a device. CB Radios, Ham Radios, and GPS Units are exempt from the law.

Monday, September 29, 2014

WVTK Local & State News September 29, 2014

The state of Vermont could become the latest state to ban hunting with the help of aerial drones. A rule being considered by the Fish and Wildlife Board would prohibit people from using drones or aircraft that carry people to locate game animals or herd animals toward waiting hunters on the ground. A number of states have already implemented similar bans.

A Ritpton man has won the 2014 Right Livelihood Award, which is sometimes referred to as the “Alternative Nobel Prize.” Bill McKibben, a scholar in residence at Middlebury College since 2001, co-founder of the 350.org climate change organization and an organizer of some of the largest climate demonstrations in the world was one of three laureates to win the prize. The Right Livelihood Award was established in 1980 to honor and support those “offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today.”

Vergennes aldermen during a meeting last week confirmed the city still has a $21,000 Department of Buildings and General Services grant for a new toddler playground despite an error in its initial application. Aldermen last week also said they are still in talks with the Vergennes Union Elementary School board about a new site for the playground, one that straddles school and city property near city recreation facilities and school playing fields.

Office workers at the University of Vermont are trying again to form a union. The Vermont State Employees' Association filed an election petition with the Vermont Labor Relations Board. The petition must have authorization cards signed by 250 employees, a third of the proposed bargaining unit. Workers say they need the union to keep their health care costs down. Two years ago, the group tried for a union, but failed to give a majority to one of two unions vying to represent them.

A Jericho farmer has the new state record for Vermont's largest pumpkin. The Vermont Giant Pumpkin Grower's Association's Annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off took place Sunday. Richard Squires brought in a pumpkin weighing 1,649 pounds. The previous state record was 1,556 pounds. Squires says he and his wife will be carving the pumpkins for Halloween and will save the seeds for next year's contest.

Friday, September 26, 2014

WVTK Local & State News September 26, 2014

A fire this morning at Moriah Central School caused an evacuation and the students were sent home early. The fire was determined to have originated in a boys bathroom on the second floor of the elementary wing. Faculty members said the school had held fire drills the previous two days because of the good weather, and some even thought the sounding of the alarm was a third day of evacuation training before realizing it was not a drill. School Superintendent Bill Larrow was out of town but returned to the campus around noon. Fire investigators, State Police and BCI were working the scene following containment of the fire.

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced they are letting customer replace peeling license plates free of charge. A press release says any customers who previously exchanged a plate that was peeling is eligible to receive a refund of $28.75. Beginning today, customers can exchange their peeling plates at their local DMV office. Customers seeking a refund for peeling plates exchanged in the past year may use the form at http://dmv.ny.gov

State leaders continue to work to protect children from abuse and neglect. The Legislative panel on Child Protection is back in full swing. This is the committee formed after the death of Dezirae Sheldon. Yesterday, the committee discussed confidentiality laws, improved communication and the roles of social workers. Plus, standards for re-unification of children with their parents. There has been countless hours of testimony on the topic, and public hearings since the committee was formed. The plan is to have bills written and ready to go by the time lawmakers come back in January.

Vermont Dairy Farmers are enjoying strong milk prices. Right now farmers are getting paid above $20 per hundredweight since last fall. Back in April the peak price was $25.80 per hundredweight. And that compares to the summer of 2009 when prices bottomed out at close to $11. According to the latest figures, the Green Mountain State has about 132,000 cows producing milk.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

WVTK Local & State News September 25, 2014

The Vermont Agency of Education released the Spring 2014 science assessment results for students in grades four, eight, and 11. The agency says 44 percent of Vermont fourth graders scored as proficient or higher in science, down three percentage points from last year. In grade eight, 25 percent were proficient or higher, seven points lower than 2013. Eleventh graders 30 percent were proficient or higher, one percentage point lower than 2013.

On election day, voters in the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union will decide on a bond to pay for renovations at Mount Abraham Union High School. The $33-million bond, the largest in Addison County History, will pay for work including: moving the library to the front of the school, adding a middle school gymnasium, upgrading the locker rooms, and renovating the lobby area. Based on figures provided by the school board, the first year of a 20-year bond would increase education taxes between $137 and $199, based on the town, per $100,000 of assessed property value.

A man was arrested after police say he robbed a Circle K on Woodstock Avenue in Rutland yesterday. Tyler Edwards is charged with assault and robbery. Police say Edwards fled the scene before they arrived with an undisclosed amount of cash. He was lodged at the Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility. Bail was set at $50,000. Edwards is in court this afternoon answering to the charges.

A special legislative panel is expected to hear more about the rules governing Vermont's child welfare agency as it investigates child protection issues following the deaths this year of two toddlers who had been in the state's care. Members of the Legislative Council are testifying today. Among the topics to be discussed are the variations between department districts, confidentiality rules in child welfare cases, and the standards for custody of children and reunification with their parents.

The Middlebury Development Review Board voted unanimously to pass the plans for the new Town Offices and Recreation Center. Bread Loaf Corporation, the company that will be doing the construction, filed applications for both projects with the Middlebury Planning Office on August 29. The Development Review Board now has 45 days in which to issue final, written decisions on the new town office building at 77 Main Street and the new recreation facility off Creek Road.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

WVTK Local & State News September 24, 2014

Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding will become the chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges. In order to do, he will be stepping down from his position in the Shumlin administration. In a statement earlier today, Governor Peter Shumlin said, "Jeb has been a good friend since our first days working together in the Legislature 24 years ago. As my Administration secretary, he has been a rock-solid partner, creating a balanced budget year after year, and preserving Vermont's exceptional fiscal management and bond rating.” Spaulding will begin his new position in January.

Vermont will begin providing opiate replacement therapy for inmates in two prisons. The drugs are given to prisoners who are battling drug addiction. Previously, the inmates had left the institutions to receive treatment, but that is changing as the state tries to fight increased hard drug problems. The number of Vermonters receiving treatment rose 50 percent over the last nine-months and the number of people on waiting lists fell. Men who qualify will be housed in the Rutland prison, and female prisoners will be housed in South Burlington.

The Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the state, saying police wrongly seized a man's car during a traffic stop. According to the suit, 21-year-old Greg Zullo of Rutland, was pulled over in Wallingford last March. During the traffic stop, the trooper said he smelled burnt marijuana and asked to search the car. Zullo refused. He left the car and allowed he trooper to search him. The car was towed away. A later search of the vehicle did find some marijuana paraphernalia. Vermont law says less than one ounce of marijuana is not criminal.

The New York State Department of Health says the Enterovirus-D68 (EV-D68) is quickly spreading across the entire state. They add ev everyone must take precautions to protect children, especially those who are immune-compromised or have asthma and other respiratory problems. Symptoms of enterovirus illness can include fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and body aches. There is no specific treatment for EV-D68.

Ben & Jerry's announced a new flavor today. The new flavor, Two Wild & Crazy Pie, has coconut cream pie ice cream, chocolate cream pie ice cream, and a chocolate cookie swirl. Ben & Jerry's says the flavor will be available at Scoop Shops across the country.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

WVTK Local & State News September 23, 2014

Residents in Middlebury are being asked to complete a new survey on recycling. The state recently passed Act 148, which places new requirements on municipalities, businesses, solid waste haulers and residents regarding how solid waste is managed, including bans on land filling of recyclables, leaf and yard waste and food residuals by 2015, 2016 and 2020 respectively. Town officials are looking for the public’s input on how to implement the new rules. They ask that you complete the survey online no later than Friday, October 3. http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/9TBFGTY

The Public Service Board is holding a technical hearing today to address whether Vermont Gas Systems broke a rule in July. The rule, No. 5.409, requires a Vermont utility to monitor and update capital costs on a project until construction is complete. The rule also requires that the utility notify the board and all other parties should the capital costs of a project increase by either 20 percent or $25,000. The hearing comes in response to a VGS announcement in July that the cost of running a natural gas pipeline from Chittenden County to Middlebury increased by $35 million or more than 40 percent.

Vermont's only Congressman wants to loosen regulations that affect lending practices of small banks. Representative Peter Welch says that the smaller banks did not contribute to the 2008 financial collapse and it is unfair to hold them responsible for it. If banks grant loans that are not in line with federal guidelines, they can be sued, though none have been so far. Welch's bill would cover banks with less than $10 billion in assets.

State Police are investigating a burglary in Monkton. According to troopers, someone broke into a home on Sunday and stole several guns, scopes and ammunition from a home on Mountain Road. If anyone has any information about the burglary they're urged to call state police in New Haven.

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife is inviting the public to the annual Dead Creek Wildlife Day in Addison, next Saturday, October 4. Activities include illustrated talks, live wildlife presentations, and fishing and hunting tips. New this year is a seminar on game preparation and cooking. All the events will take place at the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area on Route 17 west of Route 22A and are free.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

WVTK Local & State News September 18, 2014

There is a Freeze Warning in effect for tonight. It will get as cold as the low to mid 20s in the coldest hollows in New York and Vermont. Most places will see temps fall to between 25-33 degrees tonight and into tomorrow morning. Meteorologists say this will be a killing frost and freeze for crops and vegetation. If you can, cover up the plants/crops or take them inside to protect them. Otherwise this is it for the growing season.

The U.S. Navy has commissioned the construction of a fast-attack submarine that will be named after the Green Mountain State. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus joined Governor Peter Shumlin and Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger this morning for the announcement of the U.S.S. Vermont. It’s the first time in 100 years that a Navy Combat Ship has been named after Vermont. The USS Vermont is part of a $17 billion investment in 10 new Virginia class submarines. Construction has not yet begun.

A new ban on hand-held mobile phones could cost drivers big money if they choose to ignore the new law. The law, which goes into effect on October 1st, will cost a driver $162 for a first offense and $392 for subsequent infractions. If a driver contests the fine and loses, it could be even higher. Texting while driving is already illegal in the Green Mountain State.

Vermont's Representative Peter Welch voted against Obama's plan to arm Syrian moderates in the fight against ISIS. Welch said that he could see no reasonable expectation of success, and that it would only serve to drag the United States into Syria's 3-year-old civil war. Even so, the measure passed the House. It will now be considered by the Senate and may come up for a vote by the end of the week.

Two groups in Rutland are getting a $45,000 grant to study farm tourism. The Rutland Regional Planning Commission and the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link plan to use the money to study the needs of agritourism businesses and help launch other ventures. Barbara Pulling of the commission says there aren't a lot of statistics available on the impact of agritourism, so the grant will help assess what farmers' have and what they need to expand.

The Leicester General Store will be re-opening. Brothers Peter and Paul Handy of Chittenden County have bought the Leicester General Store, which has been closed since April, and plan to reopen soon.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

WVTK Local & State News September 17, 2014

Police in Bristol have released more details about a shooting last night. According to investigators, a 911 call as placed just before 8:30 last night of a man threatening suicide with a gun. The man was later identified as 56-year-old Norman Michaud. At about 8:45, officers in the area reported hearing a gunshot. At that point authorities came across 42-year-old Tina LaBossiere of Crown Point with a large handgun on the property and after believing their lives were in danger, a trooper shot LaBossiere. While securing the residence, police found Norman Michaud with a head wound. Both Michaud and LaBossiere were transported by waiting ambulances to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington where they are currently receiving treatment for gunshot wounds. The trooper involved in the shooting was immediately placed on administrative leave, with pay, per policy.

A bill protecting first responders was signed into law by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier today. A press release says the law requires property owners to notify their local governments whenever a newly constructed or rehabilitated residential structure is comprised of a truss type, pre-engineered wood or timber construction. Buildings using this type of construction could collapse with little or no warning. Officials say this type of construction is safe for normal use. The law will provide fire departments and first responder organizations with information about buildings that use this particular design.

Police in Castleton are investigating an armed robbery of a convenience store Monday night. Authorities report that a man just after 10:30 pm entered the Tenney Brook Market on Main Street with a semi-automatic pistol and demanded money. The suspect fled the store with approximately $300 in cash. He is described as a white male, approximately 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighing 200 pounds. The man was wearing a black, loose-fitting clothing with a sweatshirt and a ski mask. Anyone with information is asked to call the Castleton Police Department at 468-5012. No one was injured during the incident.

Schools are the latest targets of phony billing scams. The Better Business Bureau is warning school districts across the country to be on the lookout for phony invoices. The invoices come from a company called Scholastic School Supply. They seek payment of $647.50 cents for the bulk purchase of textbooks. But the Better Business Bureau says the company and the bills are bogus. They've been sent to schools in at least 28 states. Experts say the scammers are counting on school accountants to pay the relatively small fees without checking to see if they are real.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

WVTK Local & State News September 16, 2014

The Vermont Health Connect website is being shut down for weeks with the hope of re-launching it in time for open enrollment starting on November 15. Governor Peter Shumlin and other top members of his administration made the announcement at Vermont Health Connect offices in Winooski this morning. While other improvements are needed to the site, officials stressed one of the main reasons for going offline was to improve security measures to keep Vermonters information safe. They say that the shutdown is not due to any previous security threat.

With dozens of college under federal investigation for sexual assault on campus, Middlebury College is changing its policy. The college is not one of the schools under investigation. But the president sent an email to the Middlebury community last week outlining a change to its Policy Against Sexual Misconduct, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking. The biggest change to the new policy is ended the practice of referring sexual misconduct complaints to a panel of students and faculty. Instead, a full-time, trained professional with judge these cases.

A hearing later this fall could determine the fate of Vermont's new GMO labeling law. Late last week, lawyers for the Grocery Manufacturers Association asked a federal judge to quash Vermont's new labeling law. The state Attorney General has asked for the GMA's request to be thrown out. The judge could rule on either or both requests. The hearing is expected to take place in October or November.

There's a push to bring more competition to gas prices in Vermont. Attorney General Bill Sorrell and Lt. Governor hopeful Dean Corren are working together to create more transparency in how gas is priced in and around Burlington. Sorrell says that a few distributors own a large number of fuel dealers in Northern Vermont, decreasing competition. He and Corren are throwing their support behind a bill that would require dealers to submit their prices to the AG's office.

The Vermont Department of Health urges caution when cleaning up rodent infested areas. A press release says an out-of-state resident contracted the Hantavirus while visiting Vermont, possibly being exposed to rodent dropping while cleaning up a seasonal home. The person has since recovered from the virus. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, headaches, muscle aches, dizziness and chills followed by coughing and shortness of breath. The health department says approximately one-third of people who have Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome die from the disease.

Monday, September 15, 2014

WVTK Local & State News September 15, 2014

Police in Middlebury say they have a suspect who threatened to shoot employees at McDonald's on Saturday. Just before 3 in the afternoon, a customer called 911 after he overheard another man threaten to get a shotgun and shoot employees at the restaurant. The suspect, Ronald E. Blakeslee, said he was upset over errors with his lunch order. He was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and is due to appear in court on October 20.

Vermont Fish and Wildlife says that a hunting dog is lucky to be alive after being shot three times with a crossbow. What's more, they say, the shooting was intentional. The hound, Bear, was running bears out of corn fields in Starksboro on Saturday when his GPS collar went off. His owner, Oran Lamphere, found him moments later and rushed him to the vet. Bear will survive, but the police continue to look for the shooter.

New York hunters are encouraged to apply early for deer management permits. A press release says the deadline to apply for permits is October 1. Sporting licenses and permits can be purchased at one of DEC’s 1,100 license sales outlets statewide. Licenses can also be ordered by telephone at 866-933-2257, or online. The 2014-2015 hunting and trapping licenses are valid for one year beginning September 1, 2014.

It's going to take longer than hoped to restore passenger rail service to western Vermont. Vermont Transportation Agency officials say a federal grant application that would have been used to upgrade the rails in an 11-mile stretch between Rutland and Burlington was rejected by federal transportation officials. The Transportation Agency's Chris Cole says they haven't been told why the grant for almost $10 million was rejected. Cole says it's a setback to efforts to restore passenger rail service between Burlington and Rutland, but it's not the end. Cole says if the federal program is around next year they could apply again. And there are other potential sources of funding the state can explore. Work has either been completed or is being planned for the rest of the line.

Friday, September 12, 2014

WVTK Local & State News September 12, 2014

The budgets of Vermont's 14 hospitals are going to increase by an average of 3.1 percent in the next fiscal year. The Green Mountain Care Board approved the rate changes for the state's hospitals yesterday. Last year, the increase was 2.7 percent. In 2013, it was 7.1 percent.

Drivers, you may want to make sure you fasten your seat belts and pick a designated driver next week. State police will be conducting DUI sobriety checkpoints throughout the area starting Sunday. State police say drivers should plan accordingly.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced next week as Child Passenger Safety Week. A press release says the goal is to raise awareness and remind parents and caregivers to make sure they are properly using and installing their child safety seats. There will be free child car seat inspection station locations throughout the state.

During a visit to Burlington, the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced $2.3 million in grants and loans intended to create jobs in rural Vermont. Krysta Harden said ealier today that 13 organizations will share the USDA funding. She says it will help small businesses, farmers and forestry enterprises buy essential equipment, gain access to affordable capital and seek expert advice on how to grow and create jobs.

It’s apple picking season and an upcoming festival at Shelburne Orchards has more than your normal picking experience. The Small Farms Food Fest will have more than 30 different small farmers at the orchard on Sunday. The farmers will be creating special dishes from what they grow on their farm, anything from ice cream to organic chicken. The orchard will, of course, allow you to pick some of their apples while you’re at the festival. The orchard is also teaming up with the Vermont Food Bank so you can also pick apples for them too, it’s called Feed Your Neighbor. Throughout the festival they will also be collecting non perishable items for the Food Bank.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

WVTK Local & State News September 11, 2014

Police in Shoreham are investigating the theft of copper wire from the local phone company. State police say that someone made off with $5,000 worth of copper load coil on the evening of August 22, from Shoreham Telephone Company. Anyone with information is asked to call the State Police New Haven Baracks at 388-4919.

A report of a person falling off a bridge and going over the falls in Middlebury set off a search in the river. Two rescue boats scoured the area and the Middlebury River around 10 p.m. last night. Middlebury police say after the search they determined it was debris that went over the falls and not a person.

Vermont Electric Power Co. has agreed to pay a total of about $200,000 to five Vermont towns, including Ferrisburgh, New Haven and Vergennes, to make up for property tax revenue those towns have lost since 2009 due to a what a VELCO official called a “miscalculation” on how it assessed property in those five towns and Shelburne.

Vermont Gas Systems has announced that three of the biggest institutions in Middlebury will receive natural gas service before the Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project pipeline is finished. Vermont Gas and NG Advantage LLC have begun construction of a so-called “gas island” consisting of a natural gas off-loading station and a small pipeline network that will distribute the gas to the Agri-Mark/Cabot cheese plant and the Vermont Hard Cider operations and Middlebury College.

Public officials, business leaders, and cybersecurity experts are holding an event to educate the public about how to better secure their digital lives. A press release says the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), a non-profit public-private partnership, is coming to Vermont to help educate consumers and businesses on how they can use the Internet more securely. The campaign called STOP. THINK. CONNECT. will be held on September 22 from 9 to 11 a.m. at Norwich University. The event is free to the public, but space is limited.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

WVTK Local & State News September 10, 2014

Students at St. Mary’s Grade School in Ticonderoga will return to school on Monday. Students were supposed to return tomorrow, but Pastor Scott Tyler says staff and teachers are too exhausted from moving into their new classrooms. Parents and students will be touring the facility at noon on Sunday. Pastor Taylor says the first thing they'll be doing on Monday is fire drills and discussions as many kids are scared and affected by the fire this past weekend. Investigators say they believes the fire was arson.

Vermont State Police have identified speeding as a factor in a tractor-trailer rollover that temporarily closed traffic on Route 125 in Cornwall yesterday morning. According to reports, police responded to a call of a truck on it’s side yesterday morning just after 5 am. The driver, 49-year-old Raymond Green of Ogdensburg, was not injured in the accident but was nonetheless transported to Porter Hospital for evaluation. The rollover occured on Route 125, at the intersection of West Street in Cornwall, a sharp curve that has been the site of other truck rollovers in the past. State police blamed the accident on Green’s speed being too fast to negotiate the curve in the roadway. Police ticketed Green following the incident.

Governor Pete Shumlin formally kicks off his campaign for reelection to the governor's office, two weeks after winning the primary. He held the event at Main Street Landing in Burlington. In his stump speech, he touted a growing economy and low unemployment. He also listed his accomplishments for this term, including universal PreK, opiate reform, a GMO disclosure mandate, and the push toward universal single health care.

The State of Vermont has launched a new website for suicide prevention. A press release says the website will provide information, research, action items for dealing with suicide prevention and postvention. The site is being launched during National Suicide Prevention Week and was developed in partnership with the Vermont Department of Mental Health, the Center for Health and Learning, and the Vermont Suicide Prevention Coalition. The web address is VTSPC.org.

Green Mountain Power (GMP) is warning customers over a phone scam. Officials say customers have receive calls from a person claiming to be with Green Mountain Power threatening to disconnect service if the customer doesn't pay a past due account balance. The caller requests the caller to pay their bill by releasing credit card information, money card, or alternative payment methods. Customers are advised to not release personal information, including account and credit card numbers if you receive this type of call. GMP Officials say you can call anytime with questions and to check you account status.

Monday, September 8, 2014

WVTK Local & State News September 8, 2014

The Vermont Department of Taxes says they will be posting lists of delinquent taxpayers on their website by the end of the year. A new law passed this year allows the department to publish these lists as a way to try and get taxpayers to comply. The department says they will publish 100 individuals and businesses who have the highest amounts of unpaid tax debt. Individuals and businesses who have levels of tax debt and who would qualify them to be placed on the list will be notified in the upcoming weeks. The tax department says, individuals and businesses will have an opportunity to pay back their outstanding debts and avoid having their name and addressed published. For more information about the delinquency lists and taxpayer notification, contact the Compliance Division of the Vermont Department of Taxes at (866)-437-2750 (toll-free).

More than 100 students lost their school to the fire this weekend. Firefighters arrived on the scene to find an orange glow bursting from St. Mary's School in Ticonderoga, late Friday night. After battling the flames for 3 hours, firefighters spent the rest of the weekend trying to salvage the 55-year old school. Officials believe the fire was in no way accidental. Ticonderoga Police Chief Mark Johns said, “at this point, we have deemed it a suspicious fire. The fire investigators have ruled out all accidental heat sources.” St. Mary’s School is currently closed and will be closed through at least Wednesday.

A man registered as a sex offender in Vermont and Massachusetts has been accused of sexually assaulting a neighbor who has a mental disability. Police charged 64-year-old Roy Patten of Hancock, with aggravated sexual assault on Friday. Police say they got a call from a woman in New Hampshire who said she had just picked up her 48-year-old sister from Hancock. The sister said she was being sexually assaulted by a neighbor. Police arrested Patten after an investigation. He was convicted in 1984 for attempted felonious sexual assault and in 1998 for Indecent exposure and lewdness.
He's been jailed on $25,000 bail.

With cooler weather settling in, it's hard to ignore the subtle color change on a few trees. This week, on Wednesday September 10, the Vermont's Department of Tourism will release its first weekly foliage report. Each year more than 3 million visitors flock to the Green Mountain State during the foliage season. It's a $400 million boost to the local economy.

Camping season will continue in the Green Mountain Forest through Columbus Day for four popular campgrounds. A press release says Hapgood Pond, Chittenden Brook, Moosalamoo, and Silver Lake Campgrounds will not close for the season till October 14. Until recently, campgrounds on the Green Mountain National Forest have been open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. U.S. Forest Service officials are hoping this will give the public more opportunities to camp during the fall foliage season.

Friday, September 5, 2014

WVTK Local & State News September 5, 2014

Officials are investigating a suspicious fire on Hardscrabble Road in Monkton. The fire happened at around 6 o’clock last night. A press release says when firefighters arrived they found a structure fully engulfed in flames. The residence was not occupied and is believed to have been vacated since mid-April. For safety reasons, firefighters say they had to tear down most of the building before fire investigators could arrive. The residence was destroyed and is deemed a complete loss. Vermont State Police are looking for anyone who may have been in the area at or around the time of the fire. Anyone with information is asked to contact Vermont State Police at (802)-748-3111 or the Arson tip line at 1-800-32-ARSON.

Dairy farmers are signing up for a new Farm Bill program that allows them to consider the cost of feeding their cows. The new program is called the Margin Protection Program. Farmers can enroll for 100-dollars and be insured if the price of milk drops while the cost of feed goes up. Previous programs only dealt with milk prices. The enrollment period is between now and November 28th, and enrollment workshops will be held next month.

New York State Police are warning Essex County residents and businesses of a utility scam. Police say scammers call saying the business or homeowner's power will be shut off if they don't pay their "overdue bill." The victims are then asked to wire transfer the funds or use a prepaid card. Police advise the public to never give personal or account information if they receive one of these calls. Anyone who receives one of these calls should ignore the call and contact their respective utility customer service to report the call.

Vermont's Public Service Board says it may reconsider its ruling regarding Phase 1 of the controversial Addison County Natural Gas Pipeline. In December, the Board approved Phase 1 of the Vermont Gas Systems project that would expand the pipeline from Chittenden County into Addison County. But in July, Vermont Gas told the Board the cost of the project had skyrocketed by $35 million. That brought the total project cost to more than $121 million. Since the July announcement, questions have been raised about the project's economic viability and benefit to the state. The Board hopes to address those questions by reconsidering its original decision, using the new cost information that's available. Phase 2 of the pipeline, which would carry natural gas from Middlebury to Ticonderoga, N.Y. is still awaiting a Board ruling.