Tuesday, January 6, 2015

WVTK Local & State News January 6, 2015

Enrollment numbers are on target, but problems are continuing with Vermont's health insurance exchange. Officials say for people signing up who have a change of circumstance, it has been taking weeks for the problems to be resolved manually. Health officials say 68-hundred people signed up for a plan for the first time , which is within the state target range. In addition, 23-thousand people renewed their policies from last year.

Preliminary reports show that Vermont traffic fatalities declined 38 percent in 2014 to the lowest number since World War II. The Vermont Highway Safety Alliance says 43 people died on the state's roadways last year, down from 70 in 2013. In 2011, 55 people died on the state's roadways. That number jumped to 77 in 2012 and 70 in 2013. Of the 43 fatalities last year 46-percent were unbelted and about 25 percent involved drugs or alcohol and about 25-percent involved speeding.

Fire officials say a water heater caused an explosion at a building located on Main Street in Ludlow Saturday. The incident happened at around 9:30 p.m. No one was inside the building during the time of the explosion. No injuries were reported. The building is being considered a total loss, with an estimated cost of $500,000. Police say while the cause of the explosion is not known, it is not being considered suspicious.

Congress is returning to work with Republicans now running the show. For the first time in eight years, the GOP is assuming control of both the House and the Senate. That means a loss of power for Vermont's congressional delegation. Senator Patrick Leahy loses the president pro tem title and his chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee. And Senator Bernie Sanders loses his spot as head of the Veterans Affairs Committee.

The state is offering some precautions as the mercury continues to dip across Vermont. Temperatures could dip well below zero at times this week, and people are urged to take steps to protect themselves and their family. People are urged to check on elderly or disabled relatives and neighbors to make sure they are safe. Residents are also advised to have plenty of fuel, and emergency heating equipment in case electricity is lost.