vermont

The attorneys for a man charged with helping a former Vermont woman flee the country rather than turn custody of her child over to her former lesbian partner say he's eager to go to trial and his client hopes to be acquitted.

Defense attorney Joshua Autry made the comments Tuesday during a pretrial hearing for his client, Kenneth Miller of Stuarts Draft, Va.

VT Seeks Immunity from Workers' Overtime Lawsuit

Jul 5, 2012

A federal judge has ruled that Vermont can try to assert it is immune from a lawsuit brought by more than 700 state employees.  WAMC’s Tristan O’Neill reports…

The employees, ranging from social workers to foresters, sued in 2010, saying the state was paying their regular hourly rate when they worked more than 40 hours a week, when it should have been paying time-and-a-half.

VT Yankee Nuke Plant at Full Power after Repairs

Jul 5, 2012
Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant
Courtesy NRC and Entergy Corp.

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is producing electricity at full power again after technicians completed repairs to one of two motor generators that vary the flow of cooling water to the reactor.  WAMC’s Tristan O’Neill reports…

Plant spokesman Rob Williams says the problem, discovered was caused by faulty electrical connections in the unit, which is about half the size of a bus.

On June 18, the plant's output was reduced to 38 percent after smoke was detected in the reactor building. The smoke was traced to the motor generator, which was shut down.

Sanders Questions High Gas Prices in Burlington

Jul 5, 2012

Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders is asking if northwestern Vermont residents are getting ripped off at the gas pump.  WAMC’s Tristan O’Neill reports… 

The left-leaning independent is calling for a federal investigation of the fact that gas prices are higher in Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties than elsewhere in Vermont or New England.

Sanders says Vermont's gas prices tend to run higher than New Hampshire's. On Monday, regular unleaded averaged $3.55 a gallon in Vermont, versus $3.36 in New Hampshire.

WAMC

Vermont's congressional delegation says the farm bill passed by the U.S. Senate that includes a program aimed at stabilizing milk prices is a good step forward.  WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports…

A provision of the voluntary program is designed to stop the dramatic swings in prices, by discouraging the oversupply of milk and allowing farmers to buy insurance that pays out when prices plummet.

Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant
Courtesy NRC and Entergy Corp.

A U.S. appeals court has rejected an argument by the state of Vermont that the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant should not have been given a new operating license because its federal water quality permit was out of date.  WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports…

In a ruling issued Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the state had multiple opportunities to argue the Vernon plant lacked a valid permit under the Clean Water Act during the proceedings that led up to the plant's relicensing last year.

Shumlin: VT Will Push Ahead with Health Overhaul

Jun 27, 2012
Vermont Governor's Office

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin says the state will push ahead with an overhaul of its health care system, no matter what the U.S. Supreme Court does with the federal Affordable Care Act.  WAMC’s Tristan O’Neill reports…

Shumlin tells The Associated Press he's worried that if the law is struck down in its entirety, the state could lose up to $400 million a year in federal funding it had been hoping to use to subsidize universal access to health care.

Cancer patients in northeastern Vermont should be getting better coordinated — and maybe less expensive — care in the near future, if a program that's part of the state's health care overhaul is successful.

The Green Mountain Care Board is spearheading the state's push to make health care access universal while controlling costs, and on Monday it announced cancer care in the St. Johnsbury area will be brought into a new pilot program.

Vermont is getting a $5 million federal grant for a new automated system that will allow it to better gather and report on information from every school in the state.  WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports…

Officials say with the new system the state will be able determine, for example, how many students have taken geometry by ninth grade or attended full-day kindergarten.

Vermont Statehouse
Photo by Pat Bradley

More than 1,600 people in the area of South Burlington, Vt., have signed a petition in support of locating new Air Guard jets at Burlington International Airport.  WAMC’s Pat Bradley reports…

The petition presented Monday urges the South Burlington City Council to reconsider its opposition to basing the new jets locally.

The Council voted last month against basing the F-35A at the Vermont Air Guard base. It sent questions to the Air Force related to a draft environmental impact statement related to elevated noise levels.

A leader of Vermont's efforts to reform its health care system says the state's efforts to provide insurance for nearly all of its residents likely will continue, even if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to strike down President Barack Obama's health care law.  WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports…

Anya Rader Wallack crossed the Connecticut River on Monday to meet with doctors at New Hampshire's Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.

Ryan Delaney/WAMC

Vermont officials say the total cost of recovering from Tropical Storm Irene is estimated at $733 million and the federal government is expected to pay about three quarters of that amount.  WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports…

Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding says the state expects it will have to pay about $110 million for its share of the repair costs.

Spaulding and other top state officials gave a briefing Thursday on the efforts to recover from the biggest natural disaster in almost a century.

Nurses at VT’s Largest Hospital Dislike Offer

Jun 14, 2012

Unionized nurses at Vermont's largest hospital say they don't like Fletcher Allen Health Care's latest contract offer.  WAMC’s Tristan O’Neill reports…

The main dispute between the nurses at the Burlington hospital and the administration is over staffing levels and shift schedules.

The hospital wants to save money by having nurses work flexible schedules, but the nurses say the hospital's proposals will lead to inadequate staffing and unsafe conditions for patients.

WAMC

Thirteen students from six Vermont colleges and universities are spending their summer working on long-term recovery projects from storm Irene.

The group in charge is the Vermont Campus Compact's Statewide Internships for Vermont Recovery. The program is starting today.

The undergraduate and graduate students will take on a variety of projects that range from working with flood survivors to improving emergency response plans. They will take part in the continuing cleanup effort and assess environmental damage following the storm last August.

Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders says America is experiencing a crisis in dental care, and has introduced legislation to address the issue.

Sanders and Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings have introduced Senate and House bills that would expand dental coverage to millions of Americans through Medicare, Medicaid, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The measures would authorize funding to increase access to dental services at community health centers and boost support for mobile clinics and dental clinics in schools.

After applying for a waiver for flexibility from the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law, Vermont has changed its mind and will not pursue the application.

The U.S. Department of Education announced this week that it has approved waivers for another eight states. A total of 19 states have gotten waivers to date in exchange for providing their own plans to improve student outcomes and teaching quality.

Officials at the Rutland Regional Medical Center have narrowly voted to close the hospital's inpatient rehabilitation unit, one of only three in Vermont.  WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports…

Hospital President Tom Huebner said the vote was 8-to-7 on Wednesday. The board had to choose between closing the hospital's unit or finding another way to cut $3.5 million out of next year's budget.

Welch to Host VT Phone Meeting on Student Loans

May 30, 2012

Vermont Congressman Peter Welch says he wants to hear from residents about their struggles with student loans.  WAMC’s Tristan O’Neill reports…

Congress is at loggerheads over how to avoid a July 1st doubling of interest rates on some Stafford Student Loans, and Welch and the head of the Vermont Student Assistance Corp. will be holding a telephone conference call Wednesday evening with people concerned about the issue.

Welch will be joined on the 7:30 call by VSAC's Don Vickers.

Vermont National Guard Adjutant General Michael Dubie is getting ready to take a new job.  WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports…

Last week the U.S. Senate confirmed Dubie's promotion to the rank of lieutenant general and his naming as deputy commander of the United States Northern Command.

The Northern Command was created following the 9/11 attacks to protect U.S. territory and provide military support for civil authorities in the event of a national emergency.

The new job means Dubie will leave the National Guard post he's held since 2006.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin says he supports a plan to bring F-35 fighter jets to the Air National Guard base at the Burlington International Airport.  WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports…

Shumlin says Vermont should be honored to host the F-35. He calls it a commentary on the quality of the Vermont National Guard.

The Air Force is considering a proposal to base between 18 and 24 of the planes in South Burlington.

Quebec Premier Postpones Vermont Visit

May 24, 2012

Quebec Premier Jean Charest is postponing his visit to Vermont where he had planned to meet with Governor Peter Shumlin and other business and government leaders.  WAMC’s Tristan O’Neill reports…

Charest planned to sign a trade and environmental protection agreement with Shumlin on Thursday and then attend events with the state's business community and at the University of Vermont.

Shumlin's office says Charest will remain in Quebec City so he can attend debates in the national assembly.

Vermont State Police say human remains, including part of a skull, have been found on private property that was being excavated in Northfield.  More from WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley......

Police say the skull piece and other skeletal remains found at the construction site will be sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation laboratory for further investigation.

The office of the Vermont chief medical examiner and a University of Vermont anthropologist determined that the bones are human.

VT Building Evacuated Because of Chemical

May 24, 2012

A government building that houses the Vermont governor's office had to be evacuated after some state workers starting feeling sick.  WAMC’s Tristan O’Neill reports…

The employees at the Pavilion Building in Montpelier reported having headaches and watery eyes on Wednesday.

The source appears to have been a waterproof sealant that was being applied to the outside bricks and wafting into the building.

The employees were sent home and the building was being ventilated.

The state of Vermont is now a part of a federal program aimed at identifying illegal immigrants arrested and charged with crimes.  WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports…

The Department of Homeland Security says its Secure Communities program went into effect Tuesday in Vermont.

The program shares the fingerprints of illegal immigrants charged with crimes with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

Quebec Premier to Visit Vermont, Sign Pact

May 21, 2012

Quebec Premier Jean Charest is due in Vermont this week to meet with Gov. Peter Shumlin and other business and government leaders.  WAMC's Tristan O'Neill reports...

The visit is set for Thursday, when Charest and Shumlin are to gather at Shelburne Farms to sign an updated agreement between the state and the province on environmental, trade and other issues.

New Fund to Help Displaced VT Mobile-Home Owners

May 21, 2012
WAMC

 A total of 524 mobile homes were damaged in Vermont during Tropical Storm Irene. And many homeowners are still recovering, some paying more for housing.  WAMC's Tristan O'Neill reports...

A new fund has been set up to help mobile-home owners in Vermont who were victims of Irene or flooding last spring.

It was started with a gift of $50,000 from a Middlebury couple, David and Eleanor Ignat.

Organizers say $500 grants will be awarded to eligible applicants. The deadline is July 16.

The mail processing plant operated by the U.S. Postal Service in White River Junction will remain open, saving 245 jobs.  WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports…

Senators Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy and U.S. Representative Peter Welch announced on Thursday that the postal service plant, which earlier had been threatened with closure, will remain open under legislation the Vermont delegation championed. 

Sanders says keeping the center open will help ensure good postal service in Vermont…

Vermont’s governor has signed into law the nation’s first ban on the natural gas drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing.  WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports…

There's no drilling currently happening in Vermont, which is believed to have little to no reserves of oil or natural gas.

Lawmakers passed a preemptive ban on the practice and Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin signed the law Wednesday in a ceremony at the Statehouse in Montpelier…

Governor Peter Shumlin has signed into law the next step in a multi-year effort to revamp Vermont’s health care system and make it more like Canada’s.  WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports…

The bill Shumlin signed on Wednesday calls for setting up a regulated health care marketplace — or "exchange" — in keeping with the federal health reform law passed two years ago.

The Governor says it helps the state as it tries to move to a single payer system…

Vermont's top fiscal officer says the state's General Fund took in $10.6 million more than expected last month, making it possible for the state to end the fiscal year with a surplus.  WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports… 

Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding said general fund revenues were 6.3 percent ahead of expectations.

So far this fiscal year, general fund revenues are four-tenths of one percent ahead of expectations.

Spaulding says the results were largely because of strong corporate income tax filings.

Pages