Wednesday November 14, 2012

Vermont revenues short of targets

MONTPELIER (AP) -- Vermont state revenues are running short of what was forecast both for the month of October and for the first four months of the fiscal year.

Administration Secretary Jeb Spaulding said Tuesday that the state took in nearly $102 million during October, but that was still more than 2 percent below the target for the month.

Year-to-date, general revenues are running about a half of one percentage point shy of what forecasters had predicted in July.

Spaulding said the personal income -- the largest source of revenue for the state -- is running more than 4 percent behind its target for the year.

Putney solar project looking to line up investors

PUTNEY (AP) -- Leaders of a solar project in Vermont are hoping to attract investors.

The SunFarm Community Solar project has leased a vacant field in rural Putney to construct 624 fixed solar panels over an acre. That would produce as much as 150 kilowatts of power.

Project leaders are offering 1,500 shares for purchase to Green Mountain Power customers in order to receive credit on their utility bills over an extended period of time.

SunFarm founder Nick Ziter comes from a line of entrepreneurs in Windham County, with ties to the Putney Inn and A Vermont Table in Putney, and the old Ziter’s Market in West Brattleboro.


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SunFarm hopes to start construction before the end of the year.

Slow-moving tortoise case dismissed in Vt.

NEWPORT (AP) -- It took a while, but the case of 100-pound stolen tortoise has finally been dismissed in Vermont.

In 2010, Zachary Barbeau of Irasburg was charged with possession of stolen property, a misdemeanor, accusing him of taking the 2-foot-long African spur-thighed tortoise from its owner in Albany.

Barbeau, then-20, had worked on the tortoise owner’s property but denied stealing it. He told police that he didn’t feel that Peter Lowry had cared for the reptile properly.

Barbeau was accused of bringing the tortoise to a friend, who turned it into police.

The tortoise was returned to Lowry unharmed. Barbeau was to complete a local community justice program, but for some reason he didn’t complete it.

On Nov. 6 a judge dismissed the case.

"Unfortunately, given the lack of resources committed to the Vermont Judiciary, we do not have the luxury of entertaining minor cases indefinitely," Judge Howard VanBenthuysen wrote.

2 logging companies to pay $150,000 in fines in Vermont

MONTPELIER (AP) -- The Vermont Attorney General’s office says two logging companies will pay a total of $150,000 in fines for improper timber harvesting.

The office says Adrien Inkel and Son Inc., and Stephane Inkel, Inc. failed to follow current use forest management plan on their 2,113-acre parcel in Bloomfield.

Under the court-approved settlement, the companies will pay the state for four violations of its "Heavy Cut" law. The law was enacted in 1997 and requires landowners to follow sound forest management practices when heavy cutting 40 acres or more.

Vermont Air Guard members to deploy
to Afghanistan

COLCHESTER (AP) -- Thirty members of the Vermont Air National Guard engineering squadron are expected to be in Afghanistan by January.

Colonel Michael Morgan is with the 158th Fighter Wing of the Vermont Air National Guard and says the airmen will work at airfields doing similar functions as a Public Works Department.

Col. Michael Morgan said the Air Guard members will start deploying soon. He said their duties will include maintaining heat and hot water, in addition to aircraft.

They are expected to be in Afghanistan for six months.

N.H. Tech Council scholarships get boost

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Students pursuing degrees in tech-related fields in New Hampshire will now be eligible for more scholarship money, thanks to an agreement between the New Hampshire High Tech Council and the state’s public colleges and universities.

The chancellors of the University System of New Hampshire and the Community College System of New Hampshire recently signed a memorandum agreeing to contribute matching funds to the tech council’s Kocher Scholarship Program.

The agreement will enable the council to award more scholarships at higher amounts. Awardees now will receive $4,000 scholarships. Applications will be accepted for the next round of funding from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28.

UNH leads project
on newborn heart screening

DURHAM, N.H. (AP) -- The University of New Hampshire is using a three-year, $900,000 federal grant to address regional gaps in newborn screening for heart disease.

The UNH Institute on Disability was awarded the grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to address the challenges of implementing newborn screening for critical congenital heart disease in New England. Officials say those challenges include staffing limitations at public health agencies and birthing facilities, as well as the wide geographic distribution of birthing facilities across the region.

The project’s goals include enhancing connections between state public health departments and hospitals and making sure that families have access to diagnostic and treatment services regardless of how far away they live from major cities.

Concrete work being done on new N.H.-Maine bridge

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) -- Workers on the new Memorial Bridge connecting New Hampshire and Maine have installed a concrete deck on the Portsmouth side and plan to have the sidewalks ready before Thanksgiving.

The contractor working on the bridge says the approach will serve as the entryway to a new span to the south to be put in place in January.

On the Kittery, Maine, side, four new concrete piers have been completed and some beams have been installed for four out of five spans of a new approach.

The new bridge is expected to be completed by July 2013. The old Memorial Bridge connected the two communities for nearly 90 years.

Massachusetts making new push to add to housing stock

BOSTON (AP) -- Gov. Deval Patrick is unveiling new initiatives that he says will help create an additional 10,000 multi-family units of housing in Massachusetts each year.

Patrick said one of the initiatives is designed to provide financial incentives to cities and towns that plan to build residential housing near public transportation and town centers.

The administration also announced progress in finding affordable housing for homeless veterans. Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray said there’s been a 21 percent decline in the number of homeless veterans in Massachusetts over the past year.

Patrick said the administration has also made what he called significant investments in the Commonwealth’s public housing stock.

Patrick said the state has preserved and improved 46,000 public housing units through increased capital funding, increased operating subsidies, and changes in management.