vermont

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.

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.

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