Monday February 4, 2013

Vermont state senator to VPIRG chief: Try to be more civil

MONTPELIER (AP) -- A Vermont state senator is taking exception to remarks made by the head of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group on the development of large-scale wind power in the state.

VPIRG executive director Paul Burns this past week said supporters of a three-year moratorium on mountaintop wind power in Vermont are denying the science of climate change, and likened them to people who deny evolution.

That drew a rebuke from Sen. Peter Galbraith, who rose Friday in the Senate to criticize Burns’ remarks.

Galbraith said none of the supporters of the wind moratorium deny the science of climate change. He urged that the debate be conducted in a more civil tone.

Vermont Law School to build car-charging station

SOUTH ROYALTON (AP) -- Vermont Law School is having a solar-powered electric car charging station built on campus.

The South Royalton school said it’s using grants from Green Mountain Power and the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund, as well as money from the school’s Green Revolving Fund, to pay for the five-outlet station, which will be free and open to the public.

President Marc Mihaly, who owns a hybrid electric car, said the school wants to spearhead change, and that providing electric outlets is the easiest way to encourage people to own electric vehicles.

The station is scheduled to open later this month.

Pickup truck sinks to bottom of Vt. lake

NEWPORT (AP) -- A 48-year-old man made it to safety but lost his pickup truck when it broke through thin ice and sank to the bottom of a northern Vermont lake.

State police say Paul Lavalette of Newport was driving his truck on the west shore of Lake Memphremagog at about 6 a.m. Saturday when it traveled over a pressure crack and broke through the ice.

Police say Lavalette was able to get out of the truck before it sank, but the vehicle is now submerged in about 25 feet of water.

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources has been notified and will be responsible for coordinating the vehicle’s recovery.

Vermont House panel may approve pension forfeiture

MONTPELIER (AP) -- A Vermont House panel is about to complete work on a proposal by Gov. Peter Shumlin to block public employees convicted of certain crimes from collecting their full pensions.

The House Government Operations Committee has been looking into the issue.

Shumlin made the proposal following revelations last year that a long-time Vermont State Police employee, Sgt. James Deeghan, had been padding his overtime reports.

Deeghan recently pleaded guilty and faces up to two years in prison and the repayment of more than $200,000 from his pension over six years.

Pensions typically are based on a person’s last three years of income. The legislation would guard against pensions being paid out when that income was improperly inflated.

N.H. House to vote
on tax amendment

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire’s House is again considering whether to require a supermajority in the Legislature to pass tax or fee increases or to approve borrowing.

The House will vote on the proposed constitutional amendment Wednesday. The House Ways and Means Committee is recommending killing the measure as a limit on lawmakers’ ability to write budgets.

Supporters argue it will promote consensus if a three-fifths vote is needed to raise money.

The Legislature considered the amendment last year, but it died in the House.

Volunteer N.H. builders seek next challenge

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire builders, subcontractors and interior designers are once again looking to rally hundreds of volunteers to give one lucky nonprofit organization a makeover.

The Building on Hope project takes on a new challenge every two years. Nonprofit organizations, camps, schools and religious groups that want to be considered have until March 15 to apply for the next challenge, which will be completed in May 2014.

Last year, the project involved renovating a former church that houses the Manchester Girls Center, run by Girls Inc. In 2010, Building on Hope renovated a residential treatment facility for young boys run by Easter Seals NH.

Postmark of White Mt. Forest quarter offered

CAMPTON, N.H. (AP) -- The U.S. post office in Campton, N.H., will be offering a special pictorial postmark to celebrate the U.S. Mint’s release of a quarter featuring the White Mountains National Forest.

Beginning at noon on Feb. 21, Postmaster Kathryn Adams and her staff will stamp letters and postcards with a unique postmark documenting the occasion. It depicts a moose in the forest with a mountain in the background. The postmark also will be available for 30 days by mail after the event.

The coin depicts Mount Chocorua, the easternmost peak of the Sandwich Range, framed by birch trees. The nearly 3,500-foot peak, surrounded by lakes and forest, is a favorite of hikers.

Camera collar to capture movements of Maine bears

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- Video cameras are seemingly everywhere. Soon there’ll even be one hanging from around the neck of a Maine black bear.

In a study that begins this spring, Unity College students will trap up to five female bears and attach collars with GPS devices to track their movements. One of the collars will be mounted with a video camera to record the bear’s movements in short intervals.

Professor George Matula says the camera will give a bear’s-eye view of the world as the animal interacts with cubs or yearlings, forages for berries or finds its way into bird feeders in search of food.

After the camera is retrieved from the bear next winter, the footage will be analyzed and shared with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Summer lobster prices worry Maine fishermen

YORK, Maine (AP) -- Lobstermen are worried that last summer’s low prices could return this year.

Lobstermen have been telling Maine Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher at recent meetings that something needs to be done should prices dive again. They’re not sure what the answer is, but they oppose limiting lobstering to three days a week.

More than 50 lobstermen filled the meeting room of York Public Library on Thursday. Some of them expressed frustration over the price difference last summer between what they were receiving for lobster and what tourists were paying in restaurants.

Keliher said Maine lobstermen last year caught 123 million pounds of lobster, up 18 million from the year before, but worth $3.7 million less.