Wednesday December 5, 2012

Shumlin elected chairman of DGA

MONTPELIER (AP) -- Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin has been elected chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

Shumlin was elected at the DGA’s annual meeting in Los Angeles.

He said Tuesday that is honored to be chosen and is looking forward to the challenge.

As chairman, Shumlin said he hopes to deepen the partnership between the association and Democratic governors around the country. He also said his role as DGA chair is good for Vermont. He said the state has a great story to tell the rest of nation, and stands to benefit from the collaboration with other states and other governors.

Vt. man in prank death sued by family

BENNINGTON (AP) -- A Vermont man who went to jail after admitting he shot his best friend to death with what he had thought was an air gun has been sued by his friend’s family.

Nicholas Bell of Manchester pleaded no contest to the Thanksgiving Day 2010 death of 24-year-old Jeffrey Charbonneau. He was sentenced to a year in jail in June.

Police say Bell and Charbonneau were staying at the home of a mutual friend when Bell shot Charbonneau in the chest as he slept. The weapon was a loaded .22 caliber rifle.

Charbonneau’s parents filed wrongful death complaints against Bell and the Goodwin family, which owns the home.

A lawyer for the Goodwins said they are not responsible for the shooting.


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Vt. summer camp damaged by fire

COLCHESTER (AP) -- A summer camp on Lake Champlain that was heavily damaged by fire is expected to be up and running this summer.

Police say the teenagers had been lighting matches, fireworks and road flares in the area on Sunday.

Authorities say the dry conditions and wind caused the fire to spread quickly to multiple buildings at Camp Brown Ledge causing several hundred thousand dollars in damage.

The camp’s co-director told the Burlington Free Press that the camp will be open in June.

The two teens, aged 14 and 15, came forward with their parents and told police about what they had been doing.

Police say after consulting with the Chittenden County state’s attorney’s office, the incident is being referred to the Colchester Reparative Board for further action.

Injured hiker rescued in Monadnock State Park

JAFFREY, N.H. (AP) -- An injured hiker has been rescued from a trail in New Hampshire’s Monadnock State Park.

Officials say 69-year-old Willi Jurgeleit of Bolton, Mass., was descending the White Dot Trail with another hiker on Tuesday when he slipped on a wet rock and injured his leg.

Jurgeleit called 911 just before his cell phone battery died.

A team of Fish and Game conservation officers, DRED Mountain Patrol Rangers and Jaffrey firefighters carried the hiker down to the trail head at the park headquarters. An ambulance then took him to a nearby hospital.

Fish and Game officials say Jurgeleit was an experienced hiker and was well-equipped and prepared for the weather conditions

N.H. revenues $49M shy of Nov. expectations

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire is looking at a big revenue hole in November after hospitals paid $48 million less in taxes than expected.

Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgdon said Tuesday that the state got $49 million less than expected last month and the $48 million accounted for all but $1 million of it. She said the state expects to receive some of the $48 million, but it is unclear how much.

The state taxes hospitals on net patient revenues. The hospitals did not question the guidelines used to determine what was taxable until the current budget was passed last year that cut state payments to hospitals. Ten hospitals are suing the state over the cuts.

The state took in $146 million in November instead of the $195 million it expected.

Mass. Gov. cites $540M budget gap, orders cuts

BOSTON (AP) -- Gov. Deval Patrick has ordered spending cuts across state government in response to slower-than-expected growth in state tax collections.

Patrick said Tuesday that his administration is revising its revenue estimate downward by $540 million for the fiscal year that started on July 1. 

The governor is using his authority under state law to cut executive branch spending by $225 million.

He’s also asking the Legislature to approve a 1 percent reduction in the budgets of the judiciary and other constitutional offices, and for a $9 million cut in unrestricted local aid to cities and towns.

He also plans to take $200 million from the state’s rainy day fund.

Patrick says he believes the shortfall in revenue is largely due to worries over the looming "fiscal cliff" if President Barack Obama and Congress are unable to reach a deal.

Mass. employers wary of ‘fiscal cliff’

BOSTON (AP) -- A group representing Massachusetts employers says business confidence in the state has slipped into negative territory for the first time since June.

Associated Industries of Massachusetts said Tuesday its monthly Business Confidence Index fell 4.3 points in November to 46.8, largely over fears that the deadlock in Washington over the "fiscal cliff" may result in automatic tax increases and steep federal budget cuts.

The index works on a scale of 100, with any reading under 50 meaning that employers are more pessimistic than optimistic about the direction of the economy.

Raymond Torto is chair of AIM’s Board of Economic Advisors. He says tax hikes would affect virtually every business in the state, and said the defense sector and other industries would be hit hard by budget reductions.

Maine lawmakers
ask fast-food use of Maine spuds

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) -- Members of Maine’s congressional delegation are asking a fast-food chain to use Maine-grown potatoes for their french fries in two locations in the state.

U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud have written to the owners of Five Guys hamburger franchises in New England and urged them to use Maine potatoes at a restaurant in Portland and a new location scheduled to open in Bangor.

The three officials say using Maine spuds would cut transportation costs and result in fresher food. They say a growing number of consumers in Maine and around the country insist on locally grown foods.

Minor earthquake strikes southern Maine

WATERBORO, Maine (AP) -- A minor earthquake has hit southern Maine close to the epicenter of a larger earthquake that struck the area in October.

Bob Marvinney of the Maine Geological Survey says the 2.3 magnitude quake was centered in Waterboro when it hit at 6:12 a.m. Tuesday.

People reported feeling the ground rumble and houses shake, but there were no reports of injuries or damages. The tremor was felt throughout much of southern Maine.

Marvinney says given the location, Tuesday’s quake was likely an aftershock of a magnitude 4.5 earthquake on Oct. 16. That quake was felt throughout New England and as far away as New York and Quebec.