Thursday December 13, 2012

Shumlin’s support
of F-35 planes in Vermont unwavered

MONTPELIER (AP) -- A visit to Florida to compare the sounds of two fighter jets didn’t change Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin’s support of the Air Force basing the F-35 in his state.

Shumlin traveled to Florida with the mayors of Burlington and Winooski on Wednesday to get a firsthand opinion about how loud the F-35 fighter jet is compared to an F-16 as the Air Force considers basing F-35s with the Vermont National Guard at the Burlington International Airport.

"I’m shocked at how quiet the F-35 is," said Shumlin after standing near the runway at Eglin Air Force Base in Valparaiso, Fla., where the jets are being tested.

Some residents have worried about the noise from the planes.

Winooski Mayor Michael O’Brien said both planes were loud.

"It didn’t blow my socks off," he said of the F-35. It’s a deeper sound. It’s really hard to compare the whole thing this quickly."

O’Brien said he hadn’t decided yet if he supports or opposes the F-35s.

The trip was funded for by the Greater Burlington Industrial Corp., which supports basing the F-35s in Vermont.

N.H. ranked 3rd healthiest in country

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire has received a high health ranking in a national report.

It’s ranked third in the country by the Trust for America’s Health. Last year, the state ranked second and was third in 2010.

The report says some of New Hampshire’s strengths are a low sedentary lifestyle rate, a low incidence of infectious disease and a low rate of children in poverty. The state also seen a decline in the infant mortality rate, from 8.4 deaths per 1,000 births in 1990 to 4.4 in 2012. There’s also been a decrease in the number of smokers.

One health indicator in which the state hasn’t improved is obesity. The number of people in New Hampshire who are overweight or obese has been climbing dramatically since 1990.

The report looks at a wide range of indicators, including cardiovascular disease, deaths, preventable hospitalizations, immunization coverage and air pollution levels. The scores are then calculated to determine an overall ranking.

"We are lucky to be living in such a healthy state," said Dr. Jose Montero, public health director of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. "But there is more work to be done. Our obesity rate continues to climb and we can do better on our cancer and diabetes rates."

Hassan names Walsh chief of staff

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan has named a former member of retiring Gov. John Lynch’s administration as her chief of staff.

Hassan announced Wednesday that Pamela Walsh, who was Lynch’s deputy chief of staff, will serve as her chief of staff. Walsh, who lives in Concord, currently is serving as Hassan’s transition director. She also served as press secretary for Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, now a U.S. senator.

Hassan also named Lucy Hodder of Hopkinton as her legal counsel. Hodder is currently with the law firm of Rath, Young and Pignatelli. She is a former New Hampshire assistant attorney general.

New Hampshire fugitive arrested in Massachusetts

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- The U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force says it’s arrested a New Hampshire fugitive in Massachusetts.

Real Bureau was wanted by the state Department of Corrections’ parole board for violations stemming from his conviction and sentence for a 2005 drug case in Manchester. The task force was contacted for assistance in late November.

Task force members saw Bureau driving a car in the Lowell, Mass., area on Tuesday night. They said he tried to flee when he saw surveillance teams closing in. Bureau was later found in the parking lot of an apartment complex in Lowell.

He was turned over to Lowell police pending his in initial court appearance as a fugitive from justice on his outstanding New Hampshire warrant.

UMass’ Caret says ‘Fiscal cliff’ would hurt research

BOSTON (AP) -- University of Massachusetts President Robert Caret is warning that the university system could lose nearly $32 million in federal research dollars next year if the country heads over the so-called "fiscal cliff."

Caret cautioned members of the university’s board of trustees Wednesday about the consequences if Congress and President Obama fail to reach a deal to avert automatic cuts to defense and domestic programs.

Caret said federal agencies that finance the university’s research -- including the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation -- could lose more than 8 percent of their funding.

Caret said that would make it harder for the university to pay for critical scientific research.

Caret said the failure to reach an agreement on the fiscal cliff could also affect some financial aid programs.

Police warn of crime spike from lab scandal

BOSTON (AP) -- Law enforcement officials are warning that the release of convicted drug offenders resulting from the testing scandal in a former state drug lab could lead to a spike in violent crime.

Legislators heard from police, sheriffs and court officials during an oversight hearing at the Statehouse on Wednesday.

Annie Dookhan, a former chemist at the state Department of Public Health lab, is accused of manipulating drug samples involving some 34,000 individuals. Some of those people have already been released from prison on bail.

Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis testified that of the 110 people who have been released back to Boston, eight have already been re-arrested for other alleged crimes.

Davis said police are worried about an increase in turf wars, drug-related home invasions and other types of violence as a result of the ongoing crisis.

Maine woman realizes cat she rescued is bobcat

BANGOR, Maine (AP) -- Police in the Maine city of Bangor are warning people to be careful handling injured animals after a woman tried to rescue a cat that she had hit with her vehicle that turned out to be a bobcat.

Police say the female driver believed the cat was seriously injured or dead and placed it in her van just after midnight on Wednesday morning.

But while driving the cat became alert and she realized it was a bobcat.

The woman got out of the vehicle, followed by the bobcat which went under the van.

Police used a catch pole to secure the animal until a game warden arrived and took control of the bobcat.

Police say to be careful handling injured animals and recommend calling an animal control officer or game warden.