Friday, May 29, 2015

WVTK Local & State News May 29, 2015

Vermont State Police are investigating a burglary at a home on Lime Kiln Road in New Haven that happened sometime between May 26 and May 29. Police say items were taken from the residence, including prescription medication. Entry was made through the front door. Anyone with information is asked to contact Vermont State Police at (802)-388-4919.

The plan passed by the legislature to spend over 600-million-dollars on transportation improvements is now law. Governor Peter Shumlin signed the bill near a bridge that is being replaced in Colchester yesterday. He says in order for Vermont's economy to flourish, it needs a strong transportation system, and these investments position the state for success. The governor also says the state is working to save costs on some projects in order to add more to the list.

Vermont Health Connect is currently off-line while the site undergoes some major upgrades. During the system update, customer service staff will have limited access to back-end systems and will be unable to help with many basic requests. Customers with non-urgent questions and requests are encouraged to wait to call when the system is back online next week.

A new report highlights the high cost of renting a home in Vermont. The National Low Income Housing Coalition says Vermont is the 13th most expensive in the country for renters. It says that people have to earn more than 20-dollars an hour in order to afford the rent for a two bedroom home. It also shows that someone earning the minimum wage of nine-dollars and 15-cents an hour would have to work 70-hours a week to afford a one bedroom home.

For those of you who love the outdoors, you may want to check out a new app that’s designed to help you fight tick dangers. It’s a free app for apple and android users called TickClick. The idea behind the app is to help you determine if you or your pet has been bitten by a tick. The creators say, TickClick will allow you to identify what tick has bitten you, the life stage it's in, the diseases the tick may carry, and links to the CDC website.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

WVTK Local & State News May 28, 2015

Voters in the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union will go to the polls to decide the fate of the Vergennes Union High School budget on June 9th. School Board members cut $55,000 from the proposal that was defeated on May 5th. The new spending plan for the 2015-2016 school year is just over $10-million. Despite the $55,000 cut, the latest VUHS budget is still seeking an increase of $845,000 from the current VUHS budget. Also on Tuesday, June 9th, voters in the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union will try for a third time to approve a budget for Mount Abraham Union High School. The proposed version up for a vote is $75,000 less than the previous version defeated on April 14th.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin today signed a bill that repeals the philosophical exemption to Vermont's vaccine law. Shumlin said, "Vaccines work and parents should get their kids vaccinated. I know there are strong feelings on both sides of this issue. I hope this legislation will have the effect of increasing vaccination rates." The changes go into effective in July 2016.

More than one million dollars in federal assistance has been sent to Vermont to help cover the costs of the winter storm from December 9-12, 2014. The storm wreaked havoc on Vermont's infrastructure, downing power lines and trees. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says the aid includes about $670,000 for emergency protective measures, and about $384,000 in permanent repair work. Another two million dollars in FEMA aid is expected, most of which will be for the Vermont Electric Cooperative.

Two decades and counting. An expansion project at Middlebury's State Airport still will not begin for at least another two fiscal years. The airport is home to a 2,500 foot runway, one of the smallest in Vermont. Deputy Secretary for Vermont's Agency of Transportation, Chris Cole says the project is not budgeted for until 2017. Despite the wait, Cole says upgrades to the airport are essential to improve safety.

Vermont State Police were kept busy over the Memorial Day weekend. State troopers investigated 33 crashes on Vermont roads over the long weekend, with three involving deaths. Police also made 12 DUI arrests, wrote close to 400 speeding tickets and helped 42 disabled drivers. There have been 14 traffic deaths since the beginning of the year, with almost half of them involving people who were not properly restrained.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

WVTK Local & State News May 27, 2015

Longtime Vermont Journalist Marselis Parsons passed away earlier today due to cancer. According to WCAX, Parsons began his career at Channel 3 in 1967. He was 70-years-old. Parsons retired from WCAX six years ago. During his 43 years at Channel 3, he was the news director, he was also a reporter, and an anchor.

The IRS says hackers gained access to taxpayer information in a series of attacks that began in February. Using information stolen during other hacks, the data thieves used the agency's online tax transcript service to gain access to Social Security numbers, dates of birth and street addresses. The IRS says an additional 100-thousand attempts to gain information were turned back. The agency reaching out to victims and offering to pay for credit protection services.

The Railroad Overpass Bridge Replacements Project Public Information Meeting scheduled for tonight has been postponed. The meeting has been rescheduled for next Wednesday, June 3rd, at 6 PM in the Municipal Gymnasium. During the meeting next week, Local Project Manager Bill Finger will provide a brief summary of the status of the project, which is anticipated to begin in the spring of 2016. Town Officials will also outline plans for developing a marketing strategy for the downtown before, during and after construction.

Vermont's unemployment rate dropped two tenths of 1 percent to 3.6-percent in April, which tied for the fourth lowest in the country. Governor Peter Shumlin says the numbers point to continued economic growth and recovery from the last recession. Vermont's April unemployment rate was a third lower than the national average of 5.4 percent. Vermont added 1,800 jobs in April, continuing a trend and outpacing population growth.

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife has a new program to help conserve open spaces and wildlife habitat in the state. The department's new "All In" Habitat Stamp is fashioned on the federal duck stamp. The stamp is available for purchase on the department's website and is available on 2015 hunting or fishing licenses when purchased online.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

WVTK Local & State News May 26, 2015

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is launching his Presidential Campaign today in Burlington. In 1981 Sanders started his political career in Burlington being elected Mayor. During the celebration at the Burlington Waterfront, Sanders laid-out an "Agenda for America" to address the major crises we face and a vision of government that "works for all our people." Sanders started by vowing to start a “political revolution” to address core economic issues, massive student debt and the role of big money in politics. Sanders will travel to New Hampshire tomorrow and then head to Iowa on Thursday.

The 58th Annual Conference on Great Lakes Research is underway at the University of Vermont. Hundreds of scientists from around the world are attending presentations on various topics. Organizers are trying to expand the event beyond the Great Lakes of North America to include large bodies of lakes worldwide.

Power has been restored to more than 3,000 customers in the city of Rutland. A Green Mountain Power representative said the power was knocked out before 2 o’clock this afternoon. Crews said there was an issue with a substation. Power was restored by about 3 p.m.

A new inpatient building is being added to the UVM Medical Center. The 187-million-dollar project hopes to start construction this summer. The facility will offer 128 single-bed rooms on four floors. Spokesman Dawn LeBaron said the new addition will not raise rates for patients.

A new study is out revealing the best places for veterans to retire. WalletHub's 2015 ranking shows Vermont is ranked 29th among the 50 states. The survey considered cost-of-living, amount of affordable housing, access to healthcare and other factors. Vermont is in second place for job opportunities, and third for most veteran-owned businesses.

Friday, May 22, 2015

WVTK Local & State News May 22, 2015

Vermont State Police are still trying to locate Denise Hart, a Connecticut woman who has been missing since the end of January. Hart borrowed an acquaintance's car on January 25th in Sudbury and that was the last time she was seen or heard from. The car was found several hours later engulfed in flames in Cornwall, and police say there's a strong possibility of foul play. Police yesterday conducted searches for Hart in Sudbury, Orwell, Whiting and Cornwall and did not locate any evidence in the case.

Vermont State Police arrested man accused of leaving the scene of an accident on Vermont Route 22A yesterday afternoon. Police say they located the vehicle that fled the scene abandoned in a nearby sand pit. A K9 was able to track the operator, 26-year-old James Turner of Shoreham, to a nearby residence. Turner is charged with leaving the scene of an accident and providing false information to a police officer. He was released on a citation to appear in court at the end of July.

According to the Fire Facility Committee the cost of the new Bristol Fire Department is estimated at $2.8-million. The new firehouse would replace the current 128-year-old firehouse at 32 North Street. The proposed 11,000-square foot building would include a 3 bay garage and a kitchen, training and community room and a space for storage and exercise equipment. Not included in the estimate was the cost of the land on which the firehouse would be built. A second meeting for public input on the estimated cost will be held next Tuesday at the Bristol Town Office in Holley Hall at 7 p.m.

Police arrested a man they say tried to lure a child during a sting operation. On April 21, police conducted an undercover underage prostitution operation at a local motel. Officers posed as 14-year-old girls for the sting. Police say one of the men, 39-year-old David Bowen of Florence, Vermont., was unable to meet the night of the operation, but kept in contact with one of the undercover officers whom he believed was a 14-year-old prostitute. Bowen is accused of arranging a time to meet for sex with the undercover officer. Police arrested Bowen at the arranged location without incident. He is charged with prohibited acts and attempting to lure a child.

Be careful on the roadways this weekend … not only will there be construction delays on many of the roads and highways but police will be out in force as part of the nationwide campaign, Click It or Ticket It. Law enforcement agencies across the state will be enforcing seatbelt, child restraint, and other motor vehicle laws during sobriety and vehicle safety checkpoints. Officials hope to reduce crashes and address poor driving behavior. Impaired and Distracted driving along with the lack of seatbelt use continue to be the major contributing factors into deaths on our roadways.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

WVTK Local & State News May 21, 2015

A series of protections inserted into Vermont's assisted suicide law are now permanent. Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill yesterday that makes protections in the law permanent. They include a mandatory 48 hour waiting period for a doctor to issue the deadly prescription to a terminally ill person. Shumlin signed the bill yesterday at a South Burlington natural food store owned by the sister of Maggie Lake, who requested a lethal prescription after suffering with cancer for close to a decade.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is officially launching his Presidential campaign next week in Burlington. Details of the event were released yesterday, with Sanders announcing that the launch will occur next Tuesday along Lake Champlain in Waterfront Park. Also yesterday, Governor Peter Shumlin posted to his Twitter account that he's endorsing Hillary Clinton for President, not Sanders.

The Winooski Police Department is investigating a robbery at the Champlain Farms located on East Allen Street. INvestigators say a man entered the store around 9 o’clock last night and took off with an undisclosed amount of money. The suspect was last seen on foot heading toward East Allen Street. He is described as being white, 5'11 tall, wearing a baseball cap, sunglasses, and possibly a gray t-shirt. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Winooski Police Department at (802) 655-0221.

Nearly $90,000 in state grants will go to three Essex County farms, to help encourage young farmers to stick with the profession. The grants come from the New Farmers Grant Fund. The goal of the program is to continue growing New York's agricultural sector. The grant recipients are: Blue Pepper Farm in Jay: $34,000, Full and By Farm in Essex: $18,576, Fledgling Crow Vegetables in Keeseville: $37,248. The money will help the farms use innovative agricultural techniques, and encourage young farmers to consider the job as a career. $610,000 in total will go to 19 farms across the Empire State.

A new report from the United Health Foundation says Vermont’s seniors are the healthiest in the nation. The report looked at such factors as behaviors, community and environment, policy, clinical care and outcomes. Some of the strength that the Green Mountain State has includes low intensive care unit use and ready availability of home-delivered meals. New Hampshire was ranked second healthiest for seniors in the country while New York was ranked 21st.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

WVTK Local & State News May 20, 2015

A former Rutland city attorney who was convicted of a fatal hit-and-run crash has been denied a new trial. 55-year-old Christopher Sullivan had pleaded not guilty to leaving the scene of the crash in 2013 and driving under the influence with death resulting. The crash killed 71-year-old Mary Jane Outslay. A jury convicted Sullivan back in March. Sullivan's lawyer said he didn't get a fair trial. Judge Theresa DiMauro ruled against a new trial yesterday. Sullivan, who is out on bail, awaits sentencing.

A Randolph woman is being held on ten-thousand-dollars bail after being arrested twice in the same day for heroin. Tara Bent was first arrested Monday morning in Randolph for possession of 70 bags of heroin. After being released from custody, Bent was again arrested in the afternoon in possession of 50 bags of heroin. She will remain at Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield until she is able to post bail.

A Rutland man accused of holding his estranged wife hostage for over four years is being held without bail. Michael Jokinen allegedly kept his wife locked in a bedroom with boards over the window until she was able to make her escape in December. Officials say the woman has been in a secure location where Jokinen cannot locate her, which allowed prosecutors to carefully build their case against him.

Vermont is relocating their out of state prison inmates from Arizona and Kentucky to a correctional facility in Michigan. The transfers are expected to take place in the second quarter of this year. Vermont currently houses more than 300 inmates in prisons out of state, and says the transfer will save the state over 600-thousand dollars. The Michigan prison is owned by the GEO Group, a private company which operates more than 100 correctional institutions around the country.

This weekend, Memorial Day Weekend, marks the re-opening of Vermont’s legendary state parks. Vermont’s 52 state parks offer a wide variety of activities such as boating, swimming, fishing, picnicking and hiking and camping experiences, including drive-in campsites, lean-to’s, cabins, cottages, remote campsites, group camping areas, and an inn-style lodge. Every park and site is surrounded by Vermont’s beautiful mountains, lakes, forests and fields. For more information on what each park has to offer, visit

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

WVTK Local & State News May 19, 2015

Police this afternoon are investigating an armed robbery at the Citizen's Bank on Shelburne Road in South Burlington. Details are limited at this point but police say the suspect had a gun and that no one was injured during the robbery. The suspect left the bank, apparently on foot.

The New York Senate has passed a bill to create a registry of violent offenders. A press release says the the bill, the Domestic Violence Protection Act, also known as Brittany's Law, would create a publicly accessible registry of all the individuals convicted of a violent felony and allow local law enforcement to keep track of their location. The bill now heads to the New York Assembly.

Ground has broken on a new transit center at Cherry and St. Paul streets in Burlington. Mayor Miro Weinberger says the $7-million station will serve as a hub for the Chittenden County Transit Authority. It will feature a 26-hundred square foot terminal, with an upper level for passengers and a lower level for bus drivers. The station is expected to be open next year.

Former Colchester police officer Tyler Kinney is facing up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal gun and drug charges. Kinney admits that he stole heroin and firearms from the Colchester Police evidence locker. The stolen items were used to feed Kinney's heroin addiction and that of a friend and fellow addict. Kinney remains free on bail and will be formally sentenced in October.

Tomorrow afternoon, the Department of Public Safety will conduct a full scale test of the Amber Alert System. 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 to a variety of organizations, activation of the Vermont Lottery Notification System, coordination with Vermont Agency of Transportation messaging signs, and dissemination of information to Vermont broadcasters. The Emergency Broadcast System may be activated, as well. All communication associated with this test will be preceded with the following notice: “THIS IS A TEST OF THE AMBER ALERT SYSTEM”

Monday, May 18, 2015

WVTK Local & State News May 18, 2015

The Rutland Police Department is investigating an armed robbery at Mac's Convenience Store located on South Main Street last night. Police say a man entered the store just before 11 PM, with a knife, and demanded money from the cash register. When the clerk didn't comply, police say there was a brief scuffle. The man left the store without any money. Police say they recovered the knife used during the robbery after tracking the man to a parking lot.

The Vermont legislative session is over. The 2015 session adjourned on Saturday, with a budget bill having been passed several hours before work wrapped up for the year. Lawmakers also approved a health care reform bill that will save the state more than three-million-dollars in the upcoming fiscal year. Governor Peter Shumlin addressed lawmakers at the end of the session, thanking them for their work on water quality, education and other key issues.

Senator Bernie Sanders plans to introduce legislation to make all public colleges free and decrease interest rates for college loans. He says the free tuition program would cost $70 billion, and include a grant program where the Federal government puts in 2 dollars for every 1 dollar by the states. The bill he's introducing tomorrow will include a transaction fee on large stock transfers. He will be holding a news conference tomorrow on Capitol Hill.

The Green Mountain Care Board is now reviewing the Vermont Health Connect plan rates for next year. For next year, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont has requested an average annual rate increase of 8.4 percent, while MVP Health Care has requested an annual rate increase of 3.0 percent over this year’s rates. Health insurers say the rise in costs are attributed to increasing medical and pharmacy prices and federal and state requirements. The Green Mountain Care Board has 90 days to review the filings and approve, modify, or disapprove the proposed rates. Decisions on proposed rates will be available no later than August 13.

There are some changes coming in how you can use your mobile device while behind the wheel of a car. Currently, the law allows you to text while you are stopped at stop sign or while stuck in traffic. But starting July 1st, you will not be able to use your mobile device unless your vehicle is off the road or highway.

Friday, May 15, 2015

WVTK Local & State News May 15, 2015

Franklin County state Senator Norm McAllister says he's not resigning, despite sexual assault charges filed against him. Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott says McAllister doesn't feel he's guilty and is not stepping aside. However, Scott says McAllister has been stripped of all his committee assignments, and he has no standing. McAllister is facing charges so serious that they carry a possible life sentence.

FairPoint Communications will be closing the South Burlington Call Center and cutting about 60 jobs. The Vermont layoffs are part of a package of about 260 FairPoint jobs that will be cut in the 17 states. Union leaders say they are disappointed in the news and say the cuts will further erode already severely compromised service quality for the region's telecommunications customers. The work done at the South Burlington call center will be done at two other FairPoint call centers.

The active search for a Burlington man who went missing on Lake Champlain is officially suspended. Sean Hawley was last seen taking an inflatable kayak onto the lake Saturday, and the craft was found Monday. Hawley is also a person of interest in a burglary that occurred at a home on Stave Island. Anyone with information about Hawley's whereabouts it urged to contact Colchester Police.

University of Vermont students are likely to see a tuition increase of more than three-percent in the upcoming school year. For in state students, tuition would rise by around 500-dollars to 14-thousand, 600-dollars a year. Out of state students will see their tuition rise by over a thousand-dollars to more than 37-thousand-dollars a year. For the first time, school officials expect the total cost for tuition, room and board for out of state students to exceed 50-thousand-dollars a year.

The U.S. Forest Service is waiving the day use and camping fees on June 13 for National Get Outdoors Day. Forest Supervisor John Sinclair says, “National Get Outdoors Day encourages visitors to enjoy the vast recreation opportunities available on public lands. Providing fee-free days is our way of thanking our visitors while encouraging more people to enjoy their national forests.” The Forest Service plans to waive fees at most of its day-use recreation sites several times in 2015.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

WVTK Local & State News May 14, 2015

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife is asking the public to avoid tempting bears by removing food sources. Fish & Wildlife say they are receiving reports of hungry bears getting into trash containers and raiding bird feeders, bee hives, and chicken houses. In Vermont, it's illegal to feed a bear. Homeowners must also take reasonable measures to protect their property from bears before lethal force can be taken.

The VUHS School Board is working on a new budget that they say will lower the tax impact in the Addison Northwest Supervisory towns by several cents. The board will unveil the third proposal during a meeting on May 28. Board members are looking to make some cuts but since teachers already have contracts, cutting more than $55,000 from the previous proposal could be tricky. One board member said cuts past $55,000 could mean cutting some extra curricular activities, including teams. The next budget vote is scheduled for June 9.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has extended the state's ban on residential brush burning until May 21 due to dry conditions across the state that have heightened the risk of wildfires. The burn ban also prohibits outdoor fires such as campfires and recreational fires, and open fires used for cooking. The eastern, central, southern and far northern regions of the state are rated as having a high risk of fire. The Southern Tier, Lake Ontario, and Adirondack regions are rated as having a moderate fire danger. This year, 110 wildfires have burned nearly 3,600 acres.

The Agriculture Department has developed the first government certification and labeling for foods that are free of genetically modified ingredients. The USDA's move comes as some consumer groups push for mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Certification would be voluntary and companies would have to pay for it. If approved, the foods would be able to carry a "USDA Process Verified" label along with a claim that they are free of GMOs.

Vermont Lottery officials say a winning Tri-State Megabucks ticket was sold in Vermont. A press release says last night’s winning numbers were 02, 04, 10, 21, 27; and the Megaball number of 1. The winning ticket matched all five numbers, plus the Megaball number. The winning ticket is worth $3,450,000. The Tri-State Megabucks game is played and sold in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

WVTK Local & State News May 12, 2015

The state of Vermont was left unable to pay its bills yesterday because of a computer glitch. State Treasurer Beth Pearce says close to six-million-dollars in state bills went unpaid because of the glitch. More than a million-dollars of the unpaid bills were supposed to be paid to subsidized day care providers. An investigation is underway to determine what caused the problem.

Embattled state Senator Norm McAllister says he has not made a decision on whether or not to resign. Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott said yesterday that McAllister is resigning following his arrest on sexual assault charges. McAllister was arrested outside the Statehouse last Thursday, accused of seeking sex in exchange for rent payments from female tenants. McAllister commented briefly yesterday, saying he has made no decision on whether to step down.

The Vermont House passed a bill yesterday to allow election day voting registrations. According to the Vermont Secretary of State's Office, the bill allows all eligible Vermonters the opportunity to register to vote on Election Day. Under the current law, the registration deadline to vote is the Wednesday before the election. The Vermont Senate passed the bill in April. The legislation now heads to Governor Shumlin's desk.

Health officials say tick season is currently underway. A press release says 13 different species have been identified in Vermont, but only four are known to carry pathogens that cause disease in humans. Symptoms of Lyme disease include an expanding red skin rash, swollen joints and flu-like symptoms. The Health Department is advising everyone to take the following actions this spring and summer: avoid areas that are good tick habitat such as tall grass, or areas with a lot of brush and leaf litter, and along forest edges, before you go outside, remember to use insect repellant with up to 30% DEET, do daily tick checks on yourself, children and pets, and remove and ticks promptly. The Vermont Health Department is encouraging everyone to report ticks. To report a tick, visit the tick tracker at

A company here in Addison County is seeking approval from the state to build a different kind of natural gas power plant. Lincoln Renewable Natural Gas want to build a plant at the Goodrich Farm in Salisbury would take manure and other bio matter from several nearby farms. Most of the Natural Gas produced would be sent to Middlebury College by a pipeline. The rest would be sold to Vermont Gas and it’s customers. An application was submitted to the Public Service Board yesterday.

Monday, May 11, 2015

WVTK Local & State News May 11, 2015

Governor Peter Shumlin is asking a state senator to resign amid allegations of sexual assault. Franklin County Senator 63-year-old Norman McAllister pleaded not guilty Friday to several charges of prohibited acts and sexual assault. Court documents say he tried to get sexual favors in exchange for rent. The documents outline three victims in the case. House Speaker Shap Smith and Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell have also called for McAllister’s resignation. McAllister did not show up to the Statehouse today. Lt Governor Phil Scott says McAllister is expected to resign from the Senate by tomorrow morning.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced the establishment of a multi-agency task force to tackle abuse in the nail salon industry. According to the governor's office, the task force will try to prevent unlawful practices and unsafe working conditions, recover unpaid wages, and shut down unlicensed businesses and businesses out of compliance with state law. A New York Times Investigation found nail salon workers were forced to toil long hours amid toxic chemicals performing manicures and pedicures for little wages. The Times also reported many workers suffered serious health problems and there was little, if any, protection for them.

A man is dead after being struck by an Amtrak train in the town of Braintree. Police say 25-year-old Kevin Kenyon of Braintree was walking on the tracks running along Route-12A when he was struck. Kenyon was walking with his back to the train, and officials say he made no effort to get out of the way. No injuries were reported aboard the train, and the death remains under investigation.

A Burlington man is being held on charges accusing him of attempting to lure a 13-year-old girl into sex. Police say 63-year-old Kenneth Atwood posted a message on Craigslist leading detectives to believe he was trying to lure a young girl for sexual relations. An officer posed as a 13-year-old girl and responded to Atwood, agreeing to meet him for sex. Atwood was arrested when he arrived at the meeting location Saturday.

The Northern New England Red Cross says warmer weather means fewer people are donating blood. Locally, the Red Cross relies on young people for donations but with graduations and the end of the school year for college students heading away for the summer, the Red Cross says they will see about a 20 percent drop in blood donations. You can help out, tomorrow there is a Blood Drive taking place at the Middlebury American Legion from 10 am to 4 pm.

Friday, May 8, 2015

WVTK Local & State News May 8, 2015

The Vermont Senate is granting preliminary approval to a wide ranging education reform bill. After several hours of debate, the Senate voted to accept the current version of the bill. It includes incentives for smaller school districts to consolidate for cost savings and to increase educational opportunities for students. The Senate is expected to hold a final vote on the bill today.

Vermont Dairy Farmers are getting paid a lot less than last year for their milk. According to the Department of Agriculture, dairy farmers around the state were paid about $23 per 100 pounds. But now, they are getting just about $16 for the same amount of milk. Ag officials say it's because milk prices are dependent on global activity and in an instant, international demand can change. There is some hopeful news on the horizon. There is usually a higher demand for dairy products like butter and cheese in the summer.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin appoints Attorney Tom Little as independent counsel to look into a campaign finance related complaint against Attorney General Bill Sorrell. The Governor's Office says Little will work with and report findings to an eight member, bipartisan group of States Attorneys that make up a Campaign Finance Review Committee. Last month, Republican party vice-chair Brady Toensing accused Sorrell of violating campaign finance laws.

A Vermont Senator accused of sexual assault and solicitation, in what prosecutors called a sex-for-rent scheme, pleaded not guilty in court today. Prosecutors are no longer charging 63-year-old Norm McAllister, a Republican State Senator for Franklin County, with human trafficking. According to the affidavit, prosecutors allege McAllister traded sex for rent. And on one occasion, when a woman couldn't afford to keep her son in a trailer owned by McAllister, he then traded sex for the payment of that rent. There are also two other alleged victims. McAllister was arrested last night. McAllister serves on the Agriculture and Institutions committees in the Senate.

The Fort Ti Ferry is reopening for the season. The Fort Ti Ferry crosses Lake Champlain seasonally between Ticonderoga and Shoreham. The ferry reopens for the summer tomorrow morning and will run daily between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

WVTK Local & State News May 7, 2015

Voters in the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union have defeated the VUHS multiple choice budget. On Tuesday residents said no to Article One, a $10.31 million proposal to fund the high school, and which cut $156,000 from the budget defeated on Town Meeting Day. The also said no to Article Two, which would have added that $156,000 back into VUHS spending proposal. Voters in Ferrisburgh and Waltham approved Article One while residents in Vergennes, Addison, and Panton said no. Residents in Waltham was the only town to approve Article Two.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin is not expecting a bill repealing the vaccine philosophical exemption to reach his desk this year. Shumlin's comments came yesterday as a legislative committee continued to receive testimony on the measure. The House and Senate both approved the underlying bill, but the Senate tacked on an amendment repealing the exemption. House Speaker Shep Smith is not sure if the bill will see a vote before the session adjourns May 15th.

Food industry groups are appealing a recent ruling that allows a Vermont law requiring the labeling of genetically modified foods. The groups want an appeals court to block the law from taking effect as their full legal challenge continues. Governor Peter Shumlin signed the law into effect about a year ago, and the labeling rules were finalized last month. The law will take effect on July first of next year if it withstands the legal challenges.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the Empire State will provide law enforcement agencies with devices to track children with autism and other disorders to assist in missing child searches. A press release says 50 agencies statewide will receive these transmitters. The transmitters, which are worn on the wrist or ankle, will emit a tracking signal that allows a child to be located quickly after going missing. A total of 596 transmitters will be sent to law enforcement agencies throughout the state including Essex County.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is calling for the breakup of some of the country's biggest banks. Sanders says no single financial institution should be so large that their failure could destabilize the economy without government assistance. The independent senator says he's concerned that taxpayers will need to make an even larger bailout if the big banks fail again.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

WVTK Local & State News May 6, 2015

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is inserting himself into Vermont's debate over mandatory vaccinations. Kennedy is urging Vermont lawmakers not to revoke the rights of parents to refuse vaccines. Kennedy says he is a strong supporter of vaccines, but he just doesn't trust the pharmaceutical industry. He says some mandatory vaccines are not scrutinized enough, and he doesn't want big drug companies making health decisions that should be made by parents.

For the second time in a week, police are investigating a bank robbery at a Northfield Savings Bank in Waitsfield. Police say a man armed with a gun held up the bank and escaped in a waiting vehicle with an undisclosed amount of money. The same bank was robbed in similar fashion April 28th, and police are trying to determine if the two crimes are related. State Police have released photos of the suspect on their web site, and anyone who recognizes the suspect is urged to contact them immediately.

The state of Vermont is a step closer toward meeting the goal of ensuring that everyone in the state has access to high-speed, broadband Internet service. Gov. Peter Shumlin and other state and local officials announced today that $900,000 would be spent on grants to bring service to 175 hard-to-serve addresses in eight Vermont communities. The grants are the first round of funding by the state's Connectivity Initiative, which is designed to spur investment in rural broadband networks.

Vermont is issuing a statewide ban on outdoor burning until further notice. The ban is being imposed because of the extremely dry conditions creating a severe brush fire risk. Fire crews battled over two dozen brush fires on Monday, including one that charred 50 acres in West Brattleboro. The fire danger is expected to continue at least through the week, with no significant rain expected.

Thirty-five people from 23 countries became U.S. citizens during a special ceremony in Brandon. The naturalization ceremony took place earlier today at the Neshobe School. The new citizens come from countries around the globe including Bhutan, Brazil, China, Guatemala, Kenya, Nepal, Russia, Rwanda, Somalia and Venezuela.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

WVTK Local & State News May 5, 2015

A statewide burn ban has been ordered in Vermont. A press release says the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation (FPR) will stop issuing burning permits until May 19. State law requires people to get a local permit before burning and fire wardens can restrict burning in dry, windy weather. But state officials say the conditions are now so severe that all burning is off limits for the next two weeks. This is the first statewide burn ban in Vermont since 2005. New York has an annual burn ban in effect until next week. Officials say if significant rain falls anywhere in the state, the order can be revoked by county.

The last of five former Milton High School football players accused of hazing other players is set to plead guilty next week. Brandon Beliveau pleaded not guilty to a felony count of attempted sexual assault in January. Beliveau and four other former players were charged after allegations surfaced that older players sexually hazed younger teammates in 2011 and 2012. One of those players who was hazed later took his own life.

A brush fire yesterday spread to the Old Lantern Inn. The fire started as a controlled burn by a resident on Greenbush Road and quickly spread. Responding fire crews realized that the blaze had spread to the Old Lantern Inn, causing minor damage to an outside wall. The inn has been operating for more than 50 years, and repairs are already being made to ensure that a wedding this weekend at the facility goes forward as scheduled.

Few Vermont state workers are investing their retirement dollars in a mutual fund that is free of fossil fuel investments. State Treasurer Beth Pearce says around 170 workers have chosen to invest in the program, totaling just over a half-million-dollars. That's a fraction of the 48-thousand active or retired state workers who could choose the investment. The funds have earned lower returns than traditional energy funds, but only invests in energy companies that do not utilize fossil fuels in any way.

And it’s another sign that Spring is here, Fort Ticonderoga's opening for the 2015 season this Saturday. There are four new exhibits this year, a 60 foot cruise boat, new gardens and more all in the works for the year. For more information on what they have going on this year, visit their website,

Monday, May 4, 2015

WVTK Local & State News May 4, 2015

Residents in Starksboro have approved a spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year. On Saturday, more than 200 residents attended a special meeting at Mount Abraham Union High School to reconsider the Robinson Elementary School budget that was approved back in February. A petition promoted the re-vote on the school spending plan. After an hour of debate, an even larger budget, that is almost $3-million, was approved. The original budget approved in February was $2.8-million.

Champlain Valley Union High School became a place of unity and remembrance Sunday. Nearly 400 cyclists gathered there for 47-year-old Richard Tom, the cyclist who died in last Sunday's crash on Route 116 in Hinesburg. Sunday's memorial ride also remembered the young driver who died in the crash. CVU student Joseph Marshall was 17 years old. Local Motion's Executive Director Emily Boedecker says the deadly accident has led to numerous conversations about sharing Vermont's roads safely.

The Mount Abraham Union High School Board is hoping a third time is the charm. They are asking Addison Northeast Supervisory Union voters to return to the polls on June 9, to vote on the third proposed spending plan for the school. The proposed $14.06-million budget on Town Meeting Day was defeated. On April 14, voters also said no to a $14.02-million spending plan. The Mount Abe School Board will meet again on May 12, at 7 PM to go over the next steps of drafting a new proposal. The school plans to warn the new budget on May 26, two weeks before June 9.

State police across New England are launching the region's first coordinated crackdown on speeding. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says in 2013, there were 276 car crash deaths in Connecticut, 145 in Maine, 326 in Massachusetts, 135 in New Hampshire, 65 in Rhode Island and 69 in Vermont. Vermont had the highest car crash death rate at 11 deaths per 100,000 residents, followed by Maine at 10.9 per 100,000.

The American Cancer Society is inviting dogs and their owners to participate in Bark for Life. This Friday from 6-8pm dress up your canine and head to Technology Park in South Burlington to participate in a feeder event to raise money for Relay for Life and cancer research. There is still time to sign a team up online or you can show up! For more information on activities and to register you can visit the links on our website at