Friday, March 6, 2015

WVTK Local & State News March 6, 2015

A suspicious package earlier today closed off part of West Street in Rutland and prompted an evacuation. The area in front of the federal building between Merchants Row and Pine Street was blocked off while bomb sniffing dogs were brought in to investigate the package that the United States Postal Service identified as a suspected explosive device. The dogs and investigators found nothing and the package was deemed harmless. The area was reopened just before 3 o’clock.

The Vermont Supreme Court today upheld an environmental court judge's ruling that a plan to bring F-35 fighter planes to the Burlington International Airport doesn't need a Vermont land use permit. Opponents had appealed the environmental court judge's decision that said F-35s flying from the National Guard base were not subject to Act 250 review because the development served no state purpose. Lawyer Jim Dumont says his clients are disappointed but says they're going forward with their federal lawsuit. The guard is scheduled to get 18 F-35s in 2020.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will be among the lawmakers participating in the march in Selma this weekend. The event is being held to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1965 voting rights marches where peaceful protesters were violently beaten by police. The senator is criticizing Republicans planning to attend the march. He says it's hypocritical for them to march when they are not supporting a bill to update the Voting Rights Act.

A new study shows that Vermont is one of the best states in the country for women to live. The WalletHub survey places Vermont as the third best place for women. The state places first in the country in women's healthcare, and sixth in women's economic and social well being. Minnesota is listed as the best state for women, while Arkansas is at the bottom of the list.

Weekly unemployment claims increased for the second week after a long downtrend. Claims had risen in the late fall and peaked around the holidays and had then fallen back in January. For the week of February 28, 2015, there were 975 new, regular benefit claims for Unemployment Insurance in Vermont. This is an increase of 102 from the previous week's total, and 34 fewer than they were a year ago.