vermont

The Vermont Attorney General's office has received approval to hire a special investigator to target child pornography cases.  WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports…

Cindy Maguire of the attorney general's office tells the Bennington Banner that person will be devoted to building cases against people generating or sharing child pornography over peer-to-peer networks.

Utilities See Growing 'Smart Meter' Opposition

May 14, 2012

Worries about health effects, privacy and cost are fueling growing opposition to wireless, digital "smart meters" that utilities around the country are installing on homes and businesses and touting as key energy conservation and grid reliability tools.  WAMC’s Tristan O’Neill reports…

Vermont appears poised to take an unusually aggressive stance. While several states have allowed utilities to charge a fee to customers who want to opt out of smart meters, Vermont's governor is expected soon to sign legislation that would allow customers to say no without paying anything extra.

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department will hold two public hearings this month on deer management.

The topics will include the 2011 hunting results and recommendations for an antlerless permitting and youth season this year.

Last year, hunters took 12,132 deer during the archery, youth, rifle, and muzzleloader seasons in Vermont. Those totals will be discussed in detail at the hearings.

A federal appeals court weighing a water quality permit for the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant wants lawyers to provide it with written arguments on another type of water quality permit.

Vermont Public Service Commissioner Elizabeth Miller says that was one result from a hearing Wednesday before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making $1 million available this summer to some Vermont farmers as part of a program aimed at reducing pollution in streams.

The farmers are in the Missisquoi River watershed. A recent study has identified farm fields in the area as being at the highest risk of polluting nearby streams.

The federal government says it will pay some farmers 100 percent of the cost of making changes to the way they manage their fields.

One round of grant applications is due May 18; a second round is due June 15.

New Index Ranks Vermont Tops in Locally Grown Food

May 8, 2012

A new index ranks Vermont No. 1 in its commitment to raising and eating locally grown food.

The ranking is based on the number of farmers markets and community supported agriculture programs per state resident. In CSAs, customers pay a lump sum up front and receive weekly deliveries of produce during harvest seasons.

According to the Strolling of the Heifers Locavore Index, Vermont has 99 farmers markets and 164 CSAs for fewer than 622,000 people.

The other top states on the list are Iowa, Montana, Maine and Hawaii.

Three VT Men Arrested with Explosive Device

May 7, 2012

Police in Newport City, Vermont, have arrested three people in connection with a pipe bomb threat that shut down Route 5 for several hours over the weekend.

Police say a witness saw three men leave a house with the explosive device, and police stopped the men a short time later Saturday night. Route 5 was closed until the state police bomb squad said it was safe reopen the road at about 10:30 p.m.

VT Sports Fields Mean More than Games after Flood

May 7, 2012
WAMC

Across Vermont, many communities that were hit by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene are working to get their athletic fields back in shape.

For many schools, their fields are on flat land next to rivers, just the areas that were hit the hardest by the flooding in August.

In Bethel, parts of the fields that are used by the Whitcomb High School and the community were under 18 inches of silt and littered with other debris such as hot water and propane tanks.

Parts of the fields are ready for use. But some won't be ready until next year.

VT Nuke Plant Wants Year in State Permit Case

May 3, 2012

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant wants Vermont's utility regulator to allow it to take more than a year to file documents that could lead to it being allowed to operate for another 20 years.

The state of Vermont is suggesting a similar time frame, but wants Vermont Yankee to file its main documents earlier than the company would like.

The plant and the state presented their cases to the Public Service Board on Wednesday. The board is deciding whether the plant's owner, Entergy Nuclear, should be given a state permit.

Vermont lawmakers have completed the arduous process of redrawing legislative district maps for the next 10 years.  WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports…

Reapportionment happens once a decade to accommodate shifts in population, and in keeping with those shifts during the past decade, Burlington is gaining a House seat, while Rutland County is losing one. Other changes are being made as well.

Vermont's U.S. Representative Peter Welch is going to be compiling stories about student debt.

Welch is going to be at the University of Vermont on Monday where he will launch an initiative to compile stories from Vermont students and families about the burden of student loan debt.

In Vermont, almost 70 percent of college graduates have an average of $30,000 in debt.

Student debt is topping $1 trillion dollars, exceeding credit card debt.

Another Republican is entering the race for governor of Vermont.  WAMC's North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports...

Roy Newton, a Rutland area publisher, announced Wednesday that he plans to be on the GOP primary ballot in August.

Newton is challenging Sen. Randy Brock for the Republican nomination. Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin has not said whether he will run for reelection.

WCAX-TV reports that Newton is the founder of the Vermont Ski Museum and runs several small publications in the Rutland area, including the Rutland Sun.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin is hailing what he calls good news on the corrections front: Vermont has seen a reduction in its prison population, while its crime rates also are down.  WAMC’s Pat Bradley reports…

Numbers released on Wednesday show Vermont's inmate population has dropped by more than 140 since 2008, to 2,059 people behind bars. It had been projected to grow by 26 percent between 2008 and 2018.

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Backers of marijuana decriminalization have failed in their effort to bring the measure to the full Vermont House for a vote.  WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports…

The measure had been held up in the House Judiciary Committee, with House Speaker Shap Smith opposed to it.

On Tuesday, Representative Oliver Olsen, a Jamaica Republican, called for a vote in the House to pull the bill out of committee and bring it to the floor for debate. That motion failed on a vote of 119 to 21.

Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders on Monday outlined some of the successes of geothermal heating projects in Vermont.  More from WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley…

Senator Sanders said geothermal energy is helping heat more Vermont homes, businesses, and schools. 

He says investments in geothermal energy will reduce the $350 billion a year that Americans spend to import oil from foreign countries. 

Vermont to Expand Farm to School Program

Apr 24, 2012

Vermont is planning to expand a program that connects schools to local farms.  WAMC's Tristan O'Neill reports...

Since 2006, the Vermont Farm to School program has provided nearly 50 Vermont schools with funding to get more nutritious food into cafeterias and nutrition and agriculture education into classrooms.

VT Debates Letting Parents Say No to Vaccines

Apr 23, 2012

Vermont is embroiled in a debate over ending the philosophical exemption that allows parents to have their kids skip childhood immunizations required for attending school.  WAMC's Tristan O'Neill reports...

The state Senate voted 25-4 recently to end the exemption, while the House has voted 93-36 to preserve it.

Vermont is among the highest states in the number of parents who exempt their children from immunizations. State health officials say Vermont had 102 pertussis cases between January and the first week of April, more than were reported in the state all last year.

VT Speaker: Adjournment Likely Delayed

Apr 23, 2012

Legislative leaders say Vermont lawmakers won't be going home for the year this coming Friday, as they originally had hoped.  WAMC’s Tristan O’Neill reports…

But they're still technically ahead of schedule. The Legislature budgeted for 18 weeks this year, and this coming week will be their 16th in session.

House Speaker Shap Smith and Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell say lawmakers should plan on being in session through the first week in May, possibly including Saturday the 5th.

VT Power Merger Critics Push for House Debate

Apr 23, 2012

This could be the climactic week in an effort by some Vermont lawmakers to get the Legislature to intervene in the proposed merger of Vermont's two largest electric utilities.  WAMC's Tristan O'Neill reports...

The House may be asked to debate a measure that would have the Legislature direct the Public Service Board on how $21 million is repaid to customers of Central Vermont Public Service Corp.

VT House Passes Corporate Personhood Resolution

Apr 20, 2012

The Vermont House has passed a resolution calling on the U.S. Congress to start the process of amending the federal Constitution to reverse a 2010 Supreme Court decision expanding the rights of corporations to influence political campaigns.  WAMC's Tristan O'Neill reports...

The 92-40 vote on Thursday came after more than two hours of debate in which supporters said corporate money has come to distort the political process in the United States. Opponents called the effort an assault on First Amendment freedoms.

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources says the emergency rules that allowed people to work in the state's rivers and streams to help clean up after Tropical Storm Irene are no longer valid.  WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports…

Effective immediately, anyone who wants to work in a waterway must comply with all rules and regulations and get a permit from a state river engineer.

VT Governor Wants to Keep Vaccination Opt-Out

Apr 19, 2012

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin has reversed a position pushed by his administration earlier this year and has come out in favor of continuing to allow parents to opt out of having their kids vaccinated for philosophical reasons.  WAMC’s Tristan O’Neill reports…

For the next six months some Vermont cellular telephone users will be able to text 911 emergency calls for help.  WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports…

Vermont's Enhanced 911 Board says that Verizon Wireless customers will be able to send a text message to 911 that will be answered at a public service answering point in Williston.

The people who receive the messages will coordinate the emergency response with the appropriate agency.

Air Force Considers Basing F-35's at VT Air Guard

Apr 18, 2012

The United States Air Force will hold a public hearing next month on a plan to add F-35A fighter jets to the Vermont Air National Guard base in South Burlington.  WAMC's Tristan O’Neill reports…

The public has 45 days to comment on the draft environmental impact statement that was released on Friday.

The Air Force is looking at several different scenarios for where the jets would be based. Burlington is one of two preferred locations.

VT House Debates Childhood Immunization Law

Apr 13, 2012

The Vermont House has voted to uphold a philosophical exemption for parents who want to skip the requirement that their children get a series of vaccinations before being allowed to attend school or child care.

VT House Prepares for Redistricting Fight

Apr 9, 2012

The Vermont House is expected to be the scene of some heated debate Tuesday over a plan to redraw legislative district, with a focus on where district lines should be drawn in the city of Burlington.  WAMC's Tristan O'Neill reports...

Redistricting is done every 10 years after the census shows where population shifts have occurred in the state. Both the House and Senate have been working to make sure the boundaries of their districts result in every Vermont voter getting roughly equal representation in Montpelier.

VT House Panel Nixes Senate Vaccination Change

Apr 5, 2012

A Vermont House committee has reversed a Senate action and reinstated the philosophical exemption for parents who don't want to meet requirements that their kids get vaccinations before attending school or child care.  WAMC's Tristan O'Neill reports...

The Senate passed a bill — hotly opposed by some parents — that ended the philosophical exemption that allowed parents to let their children skip some or all immunizations on a state Health Department list of those kids should get before attending school.

VT Governor Signs Mental Health Bill

Apr 5, 2012

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin has signed into law an overhaul of the state's mental health system.  WAMC's Pat Bradley reports...

Wednesday's bill signing was the culmination of a process that got underway in earnest after Tropical Storm Irene in late August flooded and forced the closing of the Vermont State Hospital.

VT Governor Promises to Bring Jobs to Bennington

Apr 4, 2012

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin is promising to work with municipal officials and business owners to bring new jobs to the Bennington area.  WAMC's North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports…

Shumlin spoke Monday at a luncheon sponsored by the Bennington County Regional Commission.

He says long-term improvements in infrastructure, education and a renewed focus on agriculture will increase the number of jobs and lead to wage increases for employees who have suffered from stagnant earnings.

VT Judge Orders Company to Pay $2M Fine

Apr 3, 2012

A Vermont judge has ordered a Texas debt settlement company to pay a fine of $2 million in a consumer fraud case.  WAMC’s North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley reports...

Credit Solutions of America also must pay full refunds to 207 Vermonters totaling about $350,000.

The Vermont attorney general's office had sued both CSA of Dallas and its owner, Doug Van Arsdale, in July 2010, accusing them of using unsubstantiated claims that people can reduce their debt "in 60 seconds" to advertise its services.

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