Friday, October 31, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 31, 2014

State workers are being asked to volunteer to help with Vermont's health care website. The site is down for maintenance, but officials say it will be open for enrollment, which begins November 15. Seventy-five extra workers are needed to handle the renewals. The workers who help out would receive overtime pay in addition to their regular pay.

A bookkeeper for a company in Williston has pleaded guilty to stealing about $84,000 through its payroll and electronic payment systems. Police said 41-year-old Billie Preston of Monkton pleaded guilty to wire fraud in federal court in Burlington. She is scheduled to be sentenced at the end of February next year. Police said the company, Endyne Inc., an environmental testing laboratory, contacted police to report the money loss. Preston was employed there from November 2011 through late April.

FairPoint will no longer provide health coverage for striking workers after today. FairPoint says most benefits, including healthcare, require a minimum number of scheduled work hours to maintain eligibility. When union members went on strike, they became ineligible. The union says a proposed contract by FairPoint takes away health care benefits and significantly increase healthcare costs for workers. Under the proposed FairPoint contract, FairPoint would pay 79 percent of their healthcare coverage. Under the previous contract that expired on August 2, FairPoint paid 100 percent of union members' healthcare and pensions. FairPoint says they sent information packets to union workers about COBRA earlier this week.

Castleton now has a new town manager. The town Select Board voted unanimously this week to hire Mark Shea, the town administrator for the last three years in Readsboro, to replace Charles Jacien who was scheduled to depart the position in January with $10,900 in severance pay, a year's worth of health care and a pledge that the Select Board would speak no ill of him. Jacien announced in July he would depart to pursue further education after serving seven years as manager with the town.

It's Halloween and that means the trick or treaters will be out in droves tonight. Authorities are reminding motorists to keep an eye out for the little ghosts and goblins. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of deaths among young pedestrians is four times higher on Halloween evening than any other evening of the year. While drivers are urged to take extra care, safety official say parents need to be proactive reminding children about safety rules, like crossing the street at marked intersections, making sure kids are carrying lights and reflective materials and try to have kids trick or treat in groups, with adult supervision.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 30, 2014

On Tuesday, voters in Bristol, Lincoln, New Haven, Monkton and Starksboro, the five towns that make up the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union, will decide whether or not to approve a $32.6 million bond to finance renovations at Mount Abraham Union High School. The plan includes building a new middle school gymnasium, installing 21st-century electronic and communications infrastructure, moving the library and media center to the front of the building, making upgrades to the pool, constructing new bathrooms and locker rooms, updating auditorium lighting and seating and renovating the lobby to improve aesthetics and heighten security. If voters approve the bond, work on the project can begin as soon as next summer.

MIddlebury will be phasing out townwide recycling. Beginning next April, residents will have to choose their own haulers to collect curbside recyclables from their homes and businesses. On Tuesday Night, the the Middlebury selectboard voted unanimously to discontinue the townwide recycling once the current contract with Casella expires on March 31, 2015. The board members say their decision was in anticipation of the impending changes to the state’s recycling / solid waste regulations, Act 148, which goes into effect in phases starting next July.

Vermont Officials are holding a public hearing on a study surrounding the issues of possible marijuana legalization in the state. A press release says the hearing scheduled for November 12, will allow Vermonters to contribute comments for a study on the issues around legalizing marijuana in the state.
 The hearing will run from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. via the Vermont Interactive Technologies network. Vermonters can view and provide feedback at the site in Middlebury and other sites around the state. For more information on Vermont Interactive Technologies and directions to the sites, go to:

Police were involved in a high speed chase through Shoreham yesterday afternoon that topped speeds of 90 miles per hour. According to reports, just before 6 pm, police say 29-year-old Gemmar O'Connor was spotted driving 74 miles-per-hour on Route 74. That's when police say the Shoreham man refused to pull over and sped up to over 90-miles an hour. He eventually came to a stop on 22A. O'Connor was arrested for attempting to elude and careless and negligent operation.

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is urging dairy farmers to take action. The deadline to sign up for New Dairy Price Insurance Programs has been extended until December 5. It's a type of insurance that locks in a certain amount of profit for dairy farmers. The minimum coverage plan costs $100 dollars a year and ensures farmers get at least a few cents profit for each gallon of milk produced. The insurance program was created under the 2014 Farm Bill.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 29, 2014

Green Mountain Power is planning a major upgrade of three hydro-electric dams along the Otter Creek. Federal regulators have granted GMP a new license for dams in Proctor, New Haven and Weybridge. The approval includes permission to upgrade the stations to allow a 65-percent increase in electric generation. When finished, the improved hydro-plants will produce enough electricity to power 9,200 homes.

The state of Vermont updates groundwater protection rule. A press release says the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued new Underground Injection Control Rules, replacing less protective 1982 standards. Under the new rule, underground injection wells, defined in Vermont as any hole that accepts waste. Exemptions from the new rules apply to geothermal systems, certain water treatment systems, and some mining wastes such as discharges from settling ponds and sludge lagoons.

Vermont's Health Reform Chief says the state's health exchange website will not be back online this month. The state temporarily pulled the plug on the website in mid-September in order to update and improve its flawed functionality. Officials did not give a hard timeline for a re-launch, but did say they are confident it will be back by November 15th, when the re-enrollment window for next year opens.

Vermont State Police is warning the public over a phone scam. Police say they were advised of two incidents regarding voice mails being left about late payments of taxes to the government. The victims were advised if they didn't call back and provide information an arrest warrant would be filed. Police say they identified the telephone number making the calls from Virginia as (571)-526-0022. Individuals who receives a call shouldn't give out personal information and are advised to contact their local police department.

AT&T is in legal trouble over its unlimited data plan. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is suing, claiming the wireless carrier misled customers into thinking they had unlimited data to use then slowed down their connection speeds if they used too much. The FTC says the practice, known as "throttling," affected at least 3.5 million customers. In some cases, internet speeds were reportedly reduced as much as 90 percent. AT&T calls the allegations "baseless," and says it has always been transparent with customers about its data use policies.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 28, 2014

Vermont Health Officials say a Vermont man, posing as a doctor, is under a voluntary quarantine after going to West Africa to help with the Ebola Crisis. Officials say the man traveled to Guinea and Sierra Leone to provide medical assistance, but it's unclear whether he treated anyone. When Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Vermont Officials learned about his return to the U.S. they went to pick him up at JFK airport and bring him back to Vermont. The man has been put in voluntary quarantine for 21 days here in the state. So far, he has not tested positive for the Ebola virus and has shown no symptoms. Governor Shumlin and health officials says this person poses a low risk of contracting the virus and spreading it to the public. The man is being held at an undisclosed rural location. The state is paying for his housing and treatment.

A new report says that Vermont could save millions of dollars if schools transition to a single-payer health care plan. The study was done for the Vermont School Boards Association. Schools are now paying about $202 million for health care for school employees. Transitioning employees to the Health Connect Gold plan would cut costs by $39 million dollars. If the state were to switch to a single-payer health care plan, school districts would save up to $119 million dollars.

Dozens of protesters are calling on Governor Shumlin to withdraw his support for a natural gas pipeline from Chittenden County to Middlebury. The protesters say that the pipeline is bad for the environment. A spokesman for the natural gas company says that natural gas can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2,000 tons. Shumlin says he believes that the natural gas pipeline will help reduce Vermont's dependence on dirtier fuel, such as heating oil.

Rutland Police investigated an armed robbery at Mac's Convenience Store on North Main Street on Sunday. Police say the clerk told officers that the store was robbed with a man with a handgun. The clerk was not injured during the robbery. The robber left the store prior to the officers' arrival. Police say after looking at surveillance footage from the store, they identified the robber as 52-year-old Joseph Paul Marro of Rutland. Marro was arraigned yesterday on unrelated grand larceny charges from a Vermont State Police investigation. On those charges, Marro was held at Marble Valley Regional Correctional Center (MVRCC) for lack of $2,500 bail.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture says 89 percent of the state's schools offer some type of farm to school programming. The programs vary, but each district incorporates the ideas of classroom, community, and cafeteria. In the past eight years, 70 schools or supervisory unions throughout the state have received Farm to School grants. Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross says the programs help connect agriculture to the next generation of Vermonters, while also teaching students to make healthy choices.

Monday, October 27, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 27, 2014

The historic Osborne House in Middlebury has a new home. Earlier today the building was moved from 77 Main St., where it stood since the 1800s, to the east side of the intersection of Cross and Water streets. The Cross Street Bridge was closed from 2 a.m. until approximately noon, to accomodate the moving of the structure across the Otter Creek.

The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation is going to study the possibility of creating a cap-and-trade system to reduce the amount of phosphorous pollution that runs into Lake Champlain from rivers and streams. Commissioner David Mears says the state is going to spend about $100,000 to hire experts to determine whether a phosphorus trading program might work in much the same way such a system helped reduce sulfur dioxide emissions, a component of acid rain. Some say the biggest challenge to cleaning up Lake Champlain is reducing phosphorous pollution.

State police are investigating a fire that destroyed an abandoned home in Rutland this morning. Not much is left to the actual structure at 13 Pine Street after the early morning fire. Officials say the blaze was so hot it spread to two neighboring buildings and about a dozen people were evacuated. There are no reports of any injuries. Until now, the home has been frequently occupied by squatters who break in and live there for a short period of time.

The second meeting of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel (NDCAP) over Vermont Yankee is scheduled for Thursday. A press release says the agenda include discussion of Entergy's Site Assessment Report for Vermont Yankee, an update on Emergency Planning Zone changes, and the discussion of draft NDCAP charter. The meeting is open to the public and is being held in the cafeteria at Vernon Elementary School from 6 to 9 p.m.

The Ticonderoga Ferry has wrapping up service for another year. The ferry, which runs from Shoreham to Ticonderoga, finished its last run of the season on Sunday evening. The ferry will be up and running again in May of next year.

Friday, October 17, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 17, 2014

An Addison man has been sentenced to 13 years to life behind bars for his 2012 and 2013 crime spree. After some emotional testimony this morning, Judge Robert Mello approved a plea agreement. The deal calls for Ritchie serve to 13 years to life in prison on each of a long list of charges most of them stemmed from a series of break-ins in Addison County.

1,700 FairPoint Communications workers are on strike. According to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Communications Workers of America union, the strike comes after FairPoint company representatives refused to compromise. A spokeswoman for FairPoint said that the company is disappointed that the union decided to walk out. FairPoint workers were picketing this morning outside the South Burlington facility after announcing last night they were going on strike.

The strike continues for teachers in South Burlington. A deal was not reached during a long night of negotiating last night. Teachers told the media that the school board walked out without notice just before 2 am. The sticking points remain. The teachers want bigger salary increases and lower contributions to health care than the board is willing to give. On a positive note, athletics are back in business. All sports and extracurricular activities resumed today.

The American Society of Civil Engineers gives Vermont infrastructure a 'C' grade in its second evaluation. The society says it would take hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade Vermont's roads, bridges, dams, wastewater and drinking water systems. Although the state is in a better position than it was after Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, the grades remained mostly the same this year.

The latest estimate of the price tag to decommission the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is $1.24 billion. The figure is nearly double what plant owner Entergy currently has saved up in the plant's decommissioning fund. The plant is shutting down at the end of this year.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 16, 2014

Officials say we are now moving into flu season. Vermont health leaders say as soon as the vaccine becomes available, people should get it. In Vermont, experts are seeing sporadic activity with people, especially children testing positive for the flu. The vaccine is recommended for everyone six months and older each year. If you need to get vaccinated, flu shots are available at area pharmacies, also Addison County Home Health and Hospice is holding flu vaccine clinics around the area.

The Republican running for Vermont's Governorship says that the state must radically rethink school spending. Scott Milne called for providing universal in-state college or job training to students who pledge to stay in Vermont. He would also reduce per-pupil spending, allow school choice, and cap property tax rates for two years. Milne had no specifics about the $42 million dollar hole in the education budget that capping property taxes would create, except to say it would force lawmakers to find other cuts.

The results are back from a recent survey in the Middlebury Area on recycling. More than 80 percent of Middlebury residents said they are at least satisfied with the town’s current curbside recycling program, but more than 73 percent of residents don’t want to see it combined with a trash pickup service. 323 people filled out the survey. The Middlebury Recycling Committee will use the results to help guide the Select Board as they move forward with preparing for the implementation of Act 148, the state’s new solid waste/recycling law.

Nurses at Fletcher Allen Health Care say that they are taking precautions against a possible Ebola outbreak. Ebola, which has a high mortality rate, can be transmitted by contact with the body fluids of infected patients. The Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals say that proper training on the use of protective equipment is very important. The nurses and other health care workers are doing hands-on practice with the unfamiliar equipment, putting it on and taking it off.

This Saturday, there will be a meeting on a proposed skate park in Middlebury. Tentative plans call for the new skate park to occupy a 100-foot-long-by-50-foot-wide spot just west of the basketball and tennis courts in the recreation park, off Mary Hogan Drive. This saturday’s meeting will give people a chance to weigh in on the project and have their voice heard. The meeting will take place from 11 am to 12:30 pm at the Ilsley Library.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 15, 2014

A Ferrisburgh man was injured in a car accident yesterday. According to police, 26-year-old Trevor Howard of Ferrisburgh, experienced a medical event, causing him to drive off the road and crash into a tree. The crash caused the vehicle to catch fire. A good samaritan helped pull Howard from his vehicle. Several area fire departments responded to extinguish the fire. He was transported to Fletcher Allen Health Care with multiple fractures. Vermont State Police are still investigating the accident and ask anyone who may have witness the crash to call with information you or submit an anonymous tip by texting “CRIMES” (274637) with keyword: VTIPS.

The Vermont Attorney General's Office has released a draft rule on genetically engineered food labeling for public comment. A press release says the public can provide input by attending public meetings around the state or sending an email to The Attorney General is seeking input from producers, retailers, and consumers. The first public meeting is next Tuesday, from Noon to 2, at the Contois Auditorium, at City Hall in Burlington.

Vermont officials plan on testing the Amber Alert System next Wednesday. A press release says the test will be used to assess and evaluate changes in technology used to alert Vermonters when the Amber Alert System is activated. The test will include a mass emailing, coordination with the Vermont Agency of Transportation messaging signs, and information sent to Vermont broadcasters. Officials say the Emergency Broadcast System may also be activated.

Voters in Hinesburg will consider a $1.5 million bond vote on Election Day to finance water system upgrades. The bond would provide for two new wells, as well as a pump house and filtration system. A local pamphlet explains the current wells aren't meeting demand. It also says the current water sources contain hard water minerals and traces of MTBE, indicating gasoline contamination near the wells. Meetings on the proposal are scheduled at Town Hall at 7 p.m. next Monday and then again on Nov. 3.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 14, 2014

Although there's been no sign of the lethal virus in the Green Mountain State, Vermont hospitals are preparing their staffs for the possibility of an Ebola infection. The first case of Ebola transmitted in the U.S. was a West African who infected a nurse in a Dallas hospital. Officials at Fletcher Allen Health Care are determining the best level of protection that allows hospital workers to move and do their work.

Teachers in South Burlington are on strike. Although a counter-offer is on the table for the school board to consider, it may be Friday before classes resume if the school board accepts the proposal. All students will get a few days off while their teachers picket outside. The school board says it cannot consider the counter-proposal until its next scheduled meeting, which is Thursday.

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife announced grants available to help the state's lakes, rivers, and habitat. A press release says the 2015 Vermont Watershed Grants Program is now accepting applications for funding projects to help Vermont protect and restore the state's watersheds. Applications for the grant program are due by Friday, November 21. A Watershed Grants application guide and application forms are available from the Watershed Management Division of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.

The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation is urging people to be sure that when they sign service contracts the companies they are dealing with are registered with the state. The department and the Attorney General's office issued the warning today after officials became aware of a mailing that has been distributed to Vermont homeowners offering an insurance-type product that covers water service line protection. The product is in the form of a service contract that pays for certain claims in the event outside water and sewer lines that service a home are damaged. All companies that sell or issue service contracts to Vermonters, or cover property located in Vermont, are required to register with the Department of Financial Regulation.

Authorities have not made any arrests in the case of counterfeit tickets for Addison County Fair and Field Days. Organizers say about $12,000 in phony passes were printed. They were a combination of single day and season tickets. One of the fair's directors says new ticketing options are being explored to try and avoid future problems.

Monday, October 13, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 13, 2014

Road Salt Prices could cause some budget pains this year for cities and towns across the state. The price change amounts to a 40 percent increase since last November. Prices negotiated by the state increased from about $54 to $76 per ton from November 2013 to October 2014. Officials say the increasing costs could impact how the roads are treated this upcoming season.

Ferrisburgh Selectboard members are close to a deal to purchase 2.2 acres of land behind the town office building and next to Ferrisburgh Central School. It is still up in the air as to what the land would be used for. Residents and selectboard members have discussed several possible uses including just preserve the land for future use. The $40,000 deal would be subject to voter approval on Town Meeting Day.

Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell is planning three public meetings on the proposed rules to implement the new state law requiring the labeling of food produced through genetic engineering. The meetings will be held next week in Burlington, Montpelier and Brattleboro. Sorrell says the rules will provide clarity on the scope and reach of the law and its goal of providing information while minimizing burdens on the regulated community. The meetings are designed to get feedback from producers, retailers and consumers.

Teachers in South Burlington could be on strike starting tomorrow morning. The teachers union responded to the latest school board offer yesterday with a counteroffer of their own. School board officials say that due to open meeting rules, the earliest they could consider the counteroffer is Wednesday evening. That would be too late to meet the Tuesday strike deadline.

Renovations at the St. Ambrose Church in Bristol have been completed. Some of the upgrades include an elevator to the basement, two new bathrooms, an expansion and renovation of the kitchen, new lighting and other improvements to bring the structure in line with modern building codes. The renovations also doubled the space for the food shelf. The food shelf feeds 65 to 70 families per month, mostly from the five-town area. The entire construction was paid through private donations from parishioners and the community and cost about $250,000.

Friday, October 10, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 10, 2014

The Vermont Public Service Board announced earlier today that they are not reopening their decision on the Vermont Gas Pipeline last December, despite the new cost estimate. The Public Service Board says they concluded that the new cost information is not enough to change previous approval of the project. The construction of the pipeline will run approximately 43 miles in Chittenden and Addison county.

A Vermont man is being accused of threatening to kill a man over a disagreement regarding horse yesterday. Vermont State Police say 51-year-old Jeffrey Brandish of Orwell, fired a 0.45 cal hand gun at 41-year-old Clifford Casavant of Salisbury, and his daughter's general direction. Both Casavant and his daughter were not harmed in the incident. Police say Brandish also threatened to kill Casavant if he didn't return his horse. Brandish is charged with aggravated assault & reckless endangerment. Bradish was taken into custody without incident and was transported to the Chittenden County Correctional Center for lack of $15,000 bail.

The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says cleaning up Lake Champlain and other lakes is critical to the future of the region and the country. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was in Burlington today where she kicked off a "Call to Action" with representatives of more than a dozen federal agencies that are working to reduce pollution and harmful algae blooms in the lake. She says similar algae blooms across the country are becoming an ever-greater problem that is made worse by climate change and the warming waters of many of those lakes, including Lake Champlain.

It seems as if Vermonters are split on legalizing marijuana almost evenly. In a new poll, 49 percent of voters support legalization, while 43 percent oppose making pot legal. Eight percent are undecided. Previous polls have shown stronger support for marijuana legalization in the past. A recent general survey of all Vermonters, including those too young to vote showed nearly 2/3 in favor.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is investigating rising prices for prescription drugs. His investigation includes new treatment for Hepatitis C that costs more than $1,000 per pill and "staggering" price hikes for generic drugs. Senator Sanders say, “My goal is to help the VA provide the best quality care to our veterans. But when the VA has to spend an enormous amount of money on prescription drugs, money that has not been budgeted for, other important services are put at risk.”

Thursday, October 9, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 9, 2014

If you get your health insurance through Vermont Health Connect, you can't pay premiums online this month. As you know, the website is down for updates and enhancements. There are two ways to pay. You can mail a check or money order to Vermont Health Connect at Vermont Health Connect, PO Box 1840, Williston, VT 05495, or call a toll-free line at 1-855-377-7979. An invoice was mailed to all customers with the proper contact information. Bills are due October 26.

Gov. Peter Shumlin appointed Jessica Holmes, a Middlebury College professor of Economics, including Health Economics, to serve on the five-member Green Mountain Care Board. Holmes will be replacing an outgoing member. The five-member Green Mountain Care Board’s mission is to reduce the rate of growth in health care costs, regulate hospital spending and capital expenditures, and curb the growth in health insurance rates.

Vermont State Police are warning businesses over possible counterfeit money. Authorities say police have been getting complaints from businesses that they have been receiving counterfeit $50 and $100. Most of the instance have been along the I-91 corridor; however, police advise all businesses to be vigilant. Any businesses who receive counterfeit money should contact their local police department.

The state of New York is offering free cancer screenings as part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A press release says there are approximately 100 events across the state that will offer free breast, cervical, colorectal cancer screenings in October. To find a screening in your community and schedule an appointment visit or call 1-866-442-CANCER (2262).

This November, voters in Brandon will be deciding where to vote by floor vote or Austrialian Ballot on Town Meeting Day. The Article has been added to the ballot for November 4th.

The Department of Corrections is using a $3 million grant to crack down on repeat offenders. Vermont is one of five states to receive the grant from the federal government. The state says it's putting together a task force to help criminals involved in a variety of crimes. The group will also increase training for staff, something the state says will lead to a better balance between sanctions and treatment for inmates.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 8, 2014

Vermont lawmakers say they have identified constants in the ongoing Department of Children and Families investigation. What all the cases have in common, they say, is substance abuse and domestic violence. Hundreds of witnesses testified that they understand that they lost parental custody owing to domestic violence issues or their own addictions. Vermont is only one of three states that does not take into account the risks to children if one of the parents is addicted to opiates.

Vermont state police are looking for a missing gun believed to have fallen off a Ferrisburgh man's truck. Authorities say Jason Gebo left his firearm in the case on the back of the vehicle on or near Shellhouse Mountain Road Sunday. A witness reported seeing the case on the side of the road, but police couldn't find the gun. Anyone with information should call the New Haven Barracks.

Trial is underway for one of two people accused in the 2012 killing of a St. Johnsbury teacher. The state must prove Allen Prue killed 33-year-old Melissa Jenkins and that his actions were willful, deliberate and premeditated. During opening statements this morning, prosecutor Lisa Warren took the through the timeline of the couple's alleged murder plot and says when pressed by police, Allen Prue confessed to the murder. But the defense claims the murder was the work of a jealous, mentally ill wife. The trial is slated to take a month.

Vermont State Police say they are investigating calls from a man to elderly people saying they owe the government back taxes as the result of an IRS audit. Police say they took a report Tuesday from a 78-year-old woman in Shaftsbury. The caller identified himself as Alex Cooper and said he worked for the Internal Revenue Service. Police say Cooper does not work for the IRS. They said the call was an attempt to commit fraud. They say anyone with any further information is encouraged to contact the Vermont State Police.

Just a reminder, Town officials in New Haven have closed part of Plank Road for 30 days in order to replace a culvert. The road is used by some drivers to get from Route 7 to Bristol. The road is closed between South Middlebrook Road and Leduc Road, which is also called Pea Ridge Road to the north of Plank Road. There are detour signs around the construction.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 7, 2014

Vermont is on track to be the latest state to ban hunting with aerial drones. Although hunting with drones isn't a serious problem in Vermont or anywhere else yet, some worry that the new technology might be coming soon. Hunters say they want to nip the potential for drone hunting in the bud, calling it unsporting and contrary to the principles of fair chase.

The U.S. Department of Energy has issued a Presidential Permit for a 330-mile electric transmission line to carry lower-cost Canadian hydroelectric power to New York City. The 1,000-megawatt Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line has been in development since 2008. The line will run under the length of Lake Champlain, through parts of the Hudson, Harlem and East rivers and beneath railroad rights of way from Quebec to Queens. Construction is expected to take about four years.

Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding says Vermont state revenues were ahead of projections in September. In data released yesterday, Spaulding says the General Fund revenues were 1.17 percent ahead of projections. For the fiscal year to date, the General Fund has taken in just over $327 million, below projections by 1.16 percent. The Transportation Fund came in 3.7 percent ahead of the goal. The year to date income is just ahead of its target. The Education Fund also came in about 2 percent ahead of its target.

Teachers in South Burlington are hitting the picket line, demanding new contracts. The most recent contract expired at the end of the school year and they are the only union in the county without a contract. The sticking points are pay and health benefits. Several years ago, South Burlington teachers came within two days from a planned strike before a contract was signed.

Addison County did pretty good in a recent survey on safety in Vermont. The Movoto Real Estate Blog conducted a safety survey for individuals and families looking for a safe place to live. Bristol topped the list as the safest place to live in Vermont. Middlebury came in 4th place. Brandon came in 9th place.

Friday, October 3, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 3, 2014

State officials have lifted the boil-water order in Fair Haven after eight days. Town officials say that while water no longer needs to be boiled before using, homeowners should flush household pipes by running all cold water faucets on full for at least five minutes. Contents of automatic ice makers should be discarded, as should the next three batches of ice they produce, and the ice bun should be wiped down with disinfectant. Disposable water filters should be replaced.

An environmental group has lost its bid to intervene in a proposal by Vermont Gas Systems to build a pipeline between Colchester and Middlebury. The Public Service Board has denied the Vermont Public Interest Research Group's request to intervene in a re-evaluation of the approval granted to Vermont Gas. The board said VPIRG wanted to argue natural gas shouldn't be permitted because it's produced through hydraulic fracturing. The project was appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court and sent back for re-evaluation September 11. The board hasn't yet issued an order on whether to reopen Vermont Gas' application for a certificate of public good.

Vermont State Police say a horse that ran onto a road died after being struck by two vehicles. Police said 38-year-old Eric Baker of White Hall was traveling northbound on Route 22A in Bridport at about 3:30 this morning. He called police, saying he thought he had hit a moose. Before the call was placed, the horse was hit by a second vehicle. Both vehicles were damaged but able to be driven away and the drivers were not injured. Police said it's believed the horse died quickly upon impact.

Hunter will be taking to the woods this week for the start of deer season. Tomorrow is the opening day of the two-part archery deer season. Experts say a less abundant supply of food sources this year could mean a strong harvest.

Restaurant servers, busboys and other tipped workers are expected to weigh in as a New York state board considers whether to mandate that they be paid the minimum wage. The state wage board is reviewing whether to eliminate the so-called tip wage of about $5 an hour given to servers and other tipped workers. State law allows restaurants and hotels to pay those workers less than the state's $8 minimum wage, as long as their tips make up the difference.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 2, 2014

Vermont Health officials say one case of Enterovirus-D68 (EV-D68) has been confirmed in the state. The Health Department says of the two cases, one came back positive and one was negative. The positive result was from a younger than school-aged child, who has since recovered. From mid-August to October 1, the CDC reports a total of 500 people in 42 states and the District of Columbia have been confirmed to have respiratory illness caused by EV-D68.

Officials say motorists should be alert for moose on roadways this time of year. Early fall is the breeding season for moose. During this time moose are wandering looking for mates, leading them to areas where they are not typically seen. Moose are most active at dawn and dusk, which are times of poor visibility. Moose are especially difficult to see at night because of their dark brown to black coloring and their height.

New campaign finance reports show incumbent Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin continues to lead the fundraising race over GOP challenger Scott Milne. Shumlin brought in more than $100,000 this reporting period on top of the $1 million he already has. Milne saw a jump in fundraising bringing in more than $81,000 since early September but still has far less than Shumlin with a total of nearly $137,000 raised.

A Canadian coffee company is suing Keurig Green Mountain, claiming they are trying to monopolize the single-serving coffee market. Keurig's newest brewing machines have technology that only recognizes Keurig's K-cups. Club Coffee makes its own single-serve pods and says Keurig's lockout technology is designed to eliminate competition. Club Coffee is suing for $600 million in damages.

Teachers in South Burlington were supposed to hit the picket line today but decided to postpone their picketing. They are looking to call attention to stalled contract negotiations. Teachers in South Burlington are currently working without a contract as the last one expired back in July. The union representing the teachers says the school board is unwilling to reach an agreement. They had planned to picket before tonight's school board meeting, but now say they will attend the meeting without any picketing.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

WVTK Local & State News October 1, 2014

A Clarendon Woman is being accused of luring a child. Police say 25-year-old Tiffany Pagan communicated sexually through Facebook with a 15-year-old male student she was mentoring at Success School. Pagan is also accused of allowing the boy to sleep at her residence. Pagan is charged with child luring. She is due in court later this month. Vermont State Police say they were notified by the Vermont Department of Children and Family Services (DCF) over their concern of the relationship between Pagan and the student. Pagan is a former peer educator for Rutland City Public Schools.

A report released earlier today based on an internal review of the Department for Children and Families does not recommend restructuring the agency, but does suggest some changes. Acting Agency of Human Services Secretary Harry Chen and DCF Commissioner Ken Schatz presented a plan to Governor Peter Shumlin that seek an immediate boosts to staffing, additional staff training and better collaboration between the department and its partners.

Vermont State Police are investigating the left of thousands of dollars in stolen antique wood. According to reports, about 14 beams were swiped from an unsecured barn off Ferry Road in Charlotte. The material was slated to go toward home construction projects. The beams are about 150 years old and are estimated to be worth between $3,000 and $5,000. If you have any information you're asked to call state police in Williston.

A second credit card breach has been reported at Shaw's Supermarkets. The supermarket's parent company announced earlier this week that malicious software was installed on networks that process credit and debit cards at their stores. The stolen information may include account numbers, card expiration dates and the names of cardholders shopping at stores in more than a dozen states, including Vermont. Last month, the company warned of a similar, separate breach potentially affecting New England shoppers.

The Vermont Health Department of says they submitted 12 specimens to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to test for Enterovirus-D68. So far, the Health Department has not received any results yet. So far there are no confirmed cases of Enterovirus D-68 in Vermont, but doctors earlier today announced the first death of a child infected with the disease in Rhode Island.