Wednesday, February 11, 2015

WVTK Local & State News February 11, 2015

Governor Peter Shumlin is sending up to 40 members of the Vermont National Guard to Massachusetts, a state dealing with record snowfall. The troops will also bring up to a dozen pieces of heavy equipment to the Bay State, including dump trucks and backhoes. The specific details of their mission will be decided by Massachusetts officials, but it will involve snow removal. The Vermont troops, from the 131st Engineer Company, will be based at Camp Curtis Guild, located northwest of Boston. They will be deployed for at least 15 days, and will depart from White River Junction tomorrow.

According to a report released today by the Washington, DC, based Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), Vermont ranks in the top ten states for school breakfast participation. Vermont’s ranking fell slightly from 6th to 8th from the previous year, not because Vermont’s participation has dropped, but because other states had early access to the new Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) which allows schools in high poverty areas to serve free school meals to all children regardless of their families’ incomes. While some states piloted CEP as early as 2011, the new provision only became available to Vermont schools this school year.

A new bill being introduced would increase the smoking age in Vermont from 18 to 21. Representative George Till from Jericho pitched his bill to the Human Services Committee. Till says it will reduce smoking rates among 18- to 20-year-olds, preventing lifelong addiction and illness for many, and will keep younger teens from lighting up, too. Some lawmakers worry about push-back, including from military members. The committee will decide whether to advance the bill.

A Vermont school bus driver has been issued a traffic violation after police say a student caught him texting while driving. Police say the Colchester High School student captured video footage of 43-year-old William Blanchard, texting while driving the bus. The student’s parent called police to report the incident. Vermont banned texting while driving in 2010. A law also went into effect Oct. 1, 2014 that banned any use of handheld cellphones. Police say they have issued Blanchard a traffic violation for using a handheld phone while driving a commercial vehicle. He faces two points on his license and a fine of $479. Police say Blanchard is employed by Mountain Transit, Inc.