Friday November 9, 2012

Vermont power line vandalism cost utilities $1.25 million

CONCORD (AP) -- Gunshot damage to insulators on a major electric transmission line that runs from Quebec to Massachusetts cost New England ratepayers about $1 million for the replacement power that had to be purchased while the line was being repaired, according to an official with the Vermont company that owns the state’s electrical transmission grid.

Vermont Electric Power Company Vice President Kerrick Johnson said replacing the shot-out insulators cost about $250,000.

The damage posed a serious threat to anyone in the area, he said.

"We hadn’t before seen this level of damage before or consequences this high," he said.

The transmission line is capable of carrying 10 percent of the electricity used throughout New England.

The damage was discovered last Friday by a crew inspecting the line after the passage of Superstorm Sandy. It took crews two days to repair the damage.

A total of 167 insulators were shot out. The case was reviewed by state and federal authorities to determine if it was terrorist-related, but it’s being treated as vandalism.

UVM president recommends smaller tuition hike

BURLINGTON (AP) -- University of Vermont President Tom Sullivan has recommended that next year’s tuition increase be less than 3 percent.

Sullivan’s call for a limit was part of a plan he presented to the board of trustees at its meeting Wednesday.


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Last fall, interim President John Bramley urged a limit of 3.5 percent on the tuition increase for 2012-2013, which was approved.

The board usually adopts an annual budget and sets new tuition rates at its May meeting.

Sullivan said an increase of less than 3 percent for the 2013-2014 academic year would be the lowest jump at UVM in 36 years.

The current tuition rate is $13,344 for Vermont residents. Out-of-state residents pay $33,672.

N.H. nursing assistant accused of diverting drugs from patients

KEENE, N.H. (AP) -- The license of a New Hampshire nursing assistant has been suspended over allegations that she diverted drugs from patients.

The attorney general’s office says Renee Whipple of Swanzey sent an email to her employer admitting that she took a prescription painkiller from a resident at an assistant living facility.

The theft was reported to the Keene Police Department. The attorney general’s office said Thursday that during a police interview, Whipple also said she took another painkiller from a different resident.

The state Board of Nursing will hold a hearing on Nov. 15 to determine if the suspension should continue during the board’s investigation.

Dems capture 222 N.H. House seats

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New totals show Democrats captured 222 seats in the New Hampshire House on Tuesday -- more than twice the number they held the last two years.

House Clerk Karen Wadsworth initially said Thursday that Republicans won 180 of the 400 seats. Democrats held 102 seats before the election.

But the Secretary of State has a slightly different count: 222 for Democrats and 178 for Republicans. After rechecking the lists, Wadsworth found two mistakes and her numbers now align with the numbers compiled by the Secretary of State.

House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli released a preliminary count Wednesday of 217 to 177, with six seats not known.

The final numbers still could change depending on the outcome of recounts. Candidates have until Friday to request a recount.

Fraud? No, spider delays Mass. town’s vote count

REHOBOTH, Mass. (AP) -- It wasn’t hanging chads or voter fraud that delayed the vote count in one Massachusetts town -- it was a spider.

Rehoboth Town Clerk Kathleen Conti says one of the town’s aging voting machines malfunctioned Tuesday morning.

She called a technician, who said a spider web apparently prevented the machine’s scanner from counting ballots. Conti tells said all of Rehoboth’s voting machines received preventive maintenance a month ago.

The vote count wasn’t completed until Wednesday afternoon.

Rehoboth voters favored Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney and incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, but went for Democratic U.S. House candidate Joseph Kennedy III.

Rehoboth, with about 12,000 residents, is about 50 miles southwest of Boston.

Conti says she has been pressing to have the machines replaced for several years.

Nor’easter drops up to 9 inches of snow on parts of Mass.

BOSTON (AP) -- Massachusetts has emerged relatively unscathed from an early winter storm that struck the region.

The storm Wednesday and into Thursday dropped more than nine inches of snow in some areas of the state, forced some schools to delay opening caused numerous spinouts and minor accidents on the state’s major roads. One person died in a crash on Route 28 in Bourne on Thursday morning, and although there were high winds and rain at the time, it was too soon to say it was weather related.

Spotters for the National Weather Service spotted unofficial snowfall totals of 9.3 inches in Southbridge, 7.5 inches in Monson and six inches in Foxborough.

The state’s major utilities reported some minor power outages.