vermont

WAMC

Vermont general fund state revenues for July came in at a more than 6 percent better clip this year than in July of 2011, but fell slightly short of the forecast.

The general fund took in more than $92 million for the month, which lagged behind the forecast issued by two economists working for the state by a bit less than 1 percent.

Governor Peter Shumlin plans over four days to visit 22 Vermont communities impacted by Tropical Storm Irene to mark the anniversary of the storm.

Shumlin on Tuesday announced events that will be held to celebrate Vermont's recovery from the flooding on Aug. 28, 2011, and to acknowledge that more work needs to be done.

A free statewide event will be held on Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph, with music, storm videos, artwork and photography.

Vermont Democratic and Republican leaders are in a war of words over the impending visit to the state of New Hampshire Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte for a party fundraiser.

The Vermont Republican Party announced Ayotte's visit, set for midday Wednesday at the Woodstock Inn, calling her "a dynamic senator with a great message."

Democrats responded by circulating a letter calling Ayotte "extreme anti-choice," saying she's against same-sex marriage, legalized abortions and funding for Planned Parenthood.

The two Democrats vying for their party's nomination for Vermont attorney general are voicing disagreement over whether a tax on soft drinks is a good idea.

Attorney General William Sorrell has supported such a tax, saying obesity is starting to vie with tobacco among preventable threats to Vermonters' health.

Chittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan says he opposes a soda tax, arguing that it would fall disproportionately on working-class Vermonters.

Cool things have been happening all Summer at the Weston Playhouse and they continue with the World Premiere (opening later this month) of the new musical, Pregnancy Pact. Inspired by the real-life story of a group of teenage girls who decided to become single mothers together, it is an entertaining and hard-hitting pop-rock musical about the realities of love, responsibility, and growing up in America.

About two dozen witnesses could be called in the Vermont trial of a Virginia man charged with helping a woman flee the United States with her daughter rather than share custody of the girl with her former lesbian partner.

Attorneys in the case of Kenneth Miller, of Stuarts Draft, Va., listed some of the possible witnesses Tuesday during jury selection. Opening statements are expected Wednesday. The trial is expected to take six days.

Mountain Talk/Pat O'Neill

Vermont police say six protesters have been arrested at the site of the Lowell mountain wind-power project.

The activists say at least 45 individuals on Monday prevented construction workers and equipment from reaching the construction area along the top of the mountain.

The protesters believe the project is destroying a pristine ridgeline and has little environmental benefit.

The Vermont Department of Education says 73 percent of Vermont schools have not met increased targets under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The 2012 results were released Monday.

Officials say the increase was caused by a rise in standards, which go up every three years with the goal of 100 percent of students being proficient in math, reading and science by 2014. The final target increase was in 2011.

Vermont Governor's Office

Governor Peter Shumlin is announcing nearly $2 million in Vermont Community Development Program grants.

Of the total, $600,000 will go toward renovation of a landmark building in the center of Morristown, the former Arthur's department store. Shumlin says that project will also create 18 units of affordable housing.

Other grants announced Friday include $325,000 to the Town of Brattleboro for a loan to Carbon Harvest, $500,000 to the Town of Ludlow and Housing Trust of Rutland County for infrastructure improvements to the Tuckerville Mobile Home Park.

Courtesy NOAA

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has rejected a request from Bennington, Vermont for reimbursement to cover the costs of repairs to damages associated with last year’s Tropical Storm Irene. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard has more…

Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station Archive, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station / © Bugwood.org

An invasive insect has been discovered moving further into the forests of Southern Vermont. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard brings us a report about a migrating pest.

According to the State of Vermont, the hemlock wooly adelgid – a tiny invasive insect – has been found for the first time in Bennington County in the town of Pownal. The insect, which feeds on the sap from hemlock trees, was first brought to the US from Japan in the 1950s. In Vermont, the animal was first found in neighboring Windham county five years ago.

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.

dairy cows
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.

Pages