Radio Free Vermont: Friday, January 28, 2005

Friday, January 28, 2005

Railroad bridges to be replaced

The Vermont Agency of Transportation plans to replace the deteriorating railroad-overpass bridges on Middlebury's Main Street and Merchants Row in 2007 and 2008.

Middlebury selectmen on Tuesday gave their tentative endorsement to those projects, while realizing the work could raise the street level in sections of Merchants Row and Main Street by as much as a foot, as well as greatly add to the traffic headaches in downtown during construction.

Fire destroys four businesses in Waterbury

"Waterbury fire crews responded to the blaze around 1:30 a.m. Thursday, according to Waterbury Fire Chief Gary Dillon. Flames were already shooting through the roof of the building by the time firefighters arrived. No one was in the building at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported.

'There is nothing left of this building,' Dillon said Thursday. 'It's a total loss.'"

Board approves major new power line

"The Public Service Board has given the go-ahead for the Vermont Electric Power Company to build a major new transmission line and accompanying substantions from West Rutland to South Burlington."

Chelsea's Declining CLA Makes Taxes Go Up

A big drop in Chelsea’s Common Level of Appraisal (CLA) will turn an apparent tax reduction into a tax increase next year, officials said this week.

In an effort to help taxpayers understand the likely tax increase, members of the school board and selectboard have planned two informational meetings prior to Town Meeting to explain the effect of the CLA, which fell from 87.58% to 76.40%.

Three Petitions Cause Controversy In Bethel

The Bethel Selectboard stirred controversy—and the direct intervention of Secretary of State Deb Markowitz—last Monday when it refused to place an article about Iraq on the Town Meeting ballot.

The article had been petitioned lawfully, but international relations are was not something the Town of Bethel had any authority over, the board reasoned.

However, on Tuesday of this week, the Board held a special meeting to place the item on the warned agenda after all.

Vermont Farm Show: A Rural Showcase

"It's a 71-year tradition that is just as much a part of January in Vermont as sub-zero temperatures and skiing. The Vermont Farm Show kicked off its 71st edition on Tuesday, Jan. 25 at the Barre Civic Center."

Vermont Marine killed in Iraq

"A Marine reservist from Albany who had his seminary studies interrupted for duty in Iraq is dead following a roadside attack."

Senate committee approves tying minimum wage raises to inflation

"A key committee of the Vermont Senate has unanimously recommended a bill that would tie raises in the state's minimum wage to inflation.

The Economic Development Committee recommended that the wage be adjusted every two years at the same rate that the consumer price index rises."

Legislature looking for prison overcrowding problems

"The Vermont Legislature is beginning to look for ways to implement suggestions that will help ease prison overcrowding.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering bills that would allow graduated penalties for people who violate conditions of release and change the way prison inmates can get time off for good behavior."

Vermont lawmaker wants to lower drinking age to 18

"If 18-year-olds can vote and fight in Iraq, then they should be able to buy a beer.

That's the reasoning of Vermont state legislator Richard Marron. He says it's totally illogical to allow some adult rights for 18-year-olds, but not others."

Vermont Tourists Spent $1.5 Billion In 2003

"It's no secret Vermont is a popular place for tourists, but a new study suggests the Green Mountain state is more dependent on visitors than most states.

Researchers found that tourists spent $1.5 billion while visiting Vermont in 2003, the most recent year data was available."

Lawmakers consider removing expiration from local taxes

"Vermont lawmakers are considering a proposal to remove 2008 as the automatic expiration date for local option taxes and giving communities the option of making them permanent."

Governor Douglas Announces Community Substance Abuse Prevention Grants

Governor Jim Douglas today announced substance abuse prevention grants totaling $19,600 to seven Vermont community organizations.

Tooling around Vermont

Out in the woods, furniture makers are a cut above

Driving south on Route 7 toward Danby, there is a point where the mountains soar up on both sides of the road and you peer out over miles of forest. Trees, trees, and more trees, as far as the eye can see.

By coincidence, this is where Vermont's largest concentration of master furniture makers have set down roots. Not small manufacturers of the Pompanoosuc Mills or Charles Shackleton class, but studio artists, working alone or with a few assistants at most, turning out not hundreds, but 20, maybe 30 pieces per year."

Lawmakers barred from Medicaid negotiations

A Douglas administration official on Tuesday told lawmakers that they cannot participate in direct negotiations with the federal government about a new system to pay for Medicaid, a state health-care program for the poor that faces a $78 million deficit next fiscal year.

Minimum Wage Boost Fails In Vt. Legislature

"A key Senate committee on Tuesday rejected the idea of raising Vermont's minimum wage from $7 per hour to $8, but is moving ahead with a proposal to attach an automatic cost-of-living increase to the wage in future years."