Saturday December 8, 2012

Vt. leaders hail Supreme Court
on DOMA

MONTPELIER (AP) -- Vermont’s congressional delegation say they’re glad the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case challenging the constitutionality of a law barring federal rights and benefits to same-sex couples.

Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch say they’d like to see the court scrap the Defense of Marriage Act.

The court also will review a federal appeals court ruling that struck down California’s gay marriage ban, though on narrow grounds.

The San Francisco-based appeals court said the state could not take away the same-sex marriage right that had been granted by California’s Supreme Court.

Leahy, Sanders and Welch say they’re proud Vermont has been a leader in granting marriage rights to same sex couples, and want the same for other Americans.

Man granted new trial decides to plead guilty

BENNINGTON (AP) -- A Bennington man granted a new trial on allegations he pointed a muzzleloader toward police has pleaded guilty, instead.

The Bennington Banner reports Paul Bourn was sentenced to four to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to threatening two officers. They went to his home after receiving a call that he was drunk and disorderly in 2009.

Bourn was convicted of two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2010.

At trial, Bourn’s lawyers argued the charge is a specific-intent crime and Bourn was allowed to have the jury instructed that his intoxication could negate the charges. The judge told jurors the state does not have to prove Bourn specifically intended to threaten the officers.

Bourn appealed. The state Supreme Court reversed his conviction in August.

Beetles released to attack hemlock pest

POWNAL (AP) -- Nearly 400 small black beetles have been released onto four Vermont hemlock trees near the Massachusetts state line to feed off an insect that’s been destroying the trees.

The trees in Pownal are infested by the woolly adelgid. The plan is for the beetles to reproduce, spread and control the adelgid population. The beetle, a native of the Pacific northwest, eats nothing but adelgids.

The Bennington Banner reports the trees are on property owned by Williamstown, Mass.

Authorities say beetles’ presence in Pownal is the first time they have been seen in Bennington County. They were found by volunteers.

Their most visible form is a white, waxy substance that appears on the needled branches of hemlock trees. The adelgids produce this material as they feed on the plant’s fluids.

Sanders wants to stop FCC loosening
of media rules

MONTPELIER (AP) -- Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is speaking out against changes in federal rules that he says would result in too much consolidation in the media.

Sanders says he’s worried about a proposal from the Federal Communications Commission’s chairman to loosen restrictions on one company owning multiple media outlets in the same city.

Sanders says that would hurt the diversity of voices participating in debates over public issues.

He says he’ll work to stop the new rules from taking effect.

Bio-Tech firm
to create more jobs
in Newport

NEWPORT (AP) -- The Vermont developer working with a South Korean bio-technology company to build a plant in Newport says the company expects to create 450 permanent and 50 seasonal jobs.

That’s double the amount of jobs AnC Bio proposed earlier this year.

Vermont Public Radio reports (developer Bill Stenger says the company will need more clean rooms for research and development than originally thought. He addressed a panel of state and local officials that are working together on workforce development and related needs for transportation, housing, and services.

AnC Bio develops and manufactures artificial organs.

Vt. town board
votes for medical pot dispensary

PITTSFORD (AP) -- The select board in the Vermont town of Pittsford has voted to allow medical marijuana dispensary in the community.

Select Board Chairman Hank Pelkey says he’s been asking people around town for their opinions and he thinks it’s the right decision.

The Wednesday-night vote was 3-2.

Pelkey tells Vermont Public Radio the vote shows Pittsford residents are compassionate and that they care about the well-being of their fellow citizens.

He says the medication would benefit those suffering from chronic illness. But some residents say Pittsford might not be the best community for a dispensary.

The state has licensed dispensaries in Burlington and Waterbury.

Mexican citizen sentenced
for re-entry to U.S.

RUTLAND (AP) -- A Mexican citizen who pleaded guilty to returning to the United States after being deported has been sentenced to over three years in prison.

Court records say the U.S. Border Patrol arrested Raymond Oldenburg on Route 105A in East Richford in April.

A records check showed that the 51-year-old Oldenburg was born in Mexico and was not legally in the United States.

Records showed that Oldenburg was previously removed from the United States in 1997, 1999 and 2007.

In 2006, he was convicted in New York of re-entry after deportation and was sentenced to 18 months in prison in that case.

Oldenburg also had five previous burglary convictions from 1982 to 1996, primarily in New Hampshire.