Monday April 8, 2013

Shumlin to attend Retreat opening

MONTPELIER (AP) -- Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin will be traveling to Brattleboro for a ribbon-cutting Monday at a newly renovated section of the Brattleboro Retreat psychiatric hospital that will house state patients.

The new unit at the Retreat is one of several approaches the state is taking to replace the former Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury after it was flooded by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

Another is a 25-bed hospital being built in Berlin, as well as smaller psychiatrics units elsewhere around the state.

Study: Vt. tourism spending on the rise

MONTPELIER (AP) -- Figures just out from the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing show the state saw record growth in visitor spending and tourism-related employment in 2011.

A study for the tourism department by a consulting economics firm found visitors made nearly 14 million trips to Vermont for leisure, business or personal travel.

Spending by visitors for goods and services totaled $1.7 billion, with about $275 million of that going to the state in taxes and fees. That was up 37.5 percent from 2009.

Jobs in hospitality and recreation were up 14 percent since 2009, with visitor spending supporting nearly 38,000 jobs in the state.

Vermont Yankee back after refueling outage

VERNON (AP) -- The Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is back in operation after a 26-day outage for refueling and maintenance.

About 1,000 extra workers were added temporarily to the plant’s usual contingent of more than 600 to replace about a third of the fuel assemblies in the reactor. Worker also replaced a large electrical transformer and a recirculation pump, as well as performing other tests and maintenance operations.

The work should set up Vermont Yankee to run for another 18 months before its next refueling outage.

But it’s still embroiled in legal battles with the state of Vermont and some investment analysts recently have labeled the plant a marginal economic performer.

Vt. trout fish stocking to start this month

MONTPELIER (AP) -- Some of Vermont’s streams will soon be stocked with "trophy" trout.

The Fish & Wildlife Department plans to start stocking trout this month.

This year nearly 14,150 2-year-old trout will be added to waterways around the state.

Officials say more than 16 miles of streams and rivers and 14 lakes and ponds are designated as trophy water will be available for angling.

Vermont’s spring trout fishing season opens on April 13.

UVM clarifies: calls to alumni are not a scam

BURLINGTON (AP) -- The University of Vermont wants alumni to know that phone calls coming from a Texas company are a legitimate effort to update records and are not part of a scam.

The university is trying to update its alumni directory for the first time in a decade. The school hired a Texas company to make calls to roughly 90,000 former students because it doesn’t have the resources to take on such a large project.

Rich Bundy of the University of Vermont Foundation says anyone who feels like the calls have been a bit too aggressive can simply ask not to be called again.

Vermont woman killed in N.H. accident

CLAREMONT, N.H. (AP) -- Police are investigating an early morning car accident in Claremont that killed a 42-year-old woman.

Claremont police say a pickup truck driven by 29-year-old Luke Garlinger of Mansfield, Mass., was traveling on Main Street shortly after midnight Sunday when it veered into the opposite lane and collided with a minivan.

Police say the driver of the van, Shellie Blaisdell of Windsor, Vt., was taken to Valley Regional Hospital, where she died of injuries sustained in the accident. A 13-year-old boy who was in the vehicle was hospitalized with injuries.

Officials say Garlinger was first taken to Valley Regional Hospital and then to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.

Claremont police, New Hampshire State Police and the Sullivan County Attorney’s Office are investigating.

N.H. Senate panel holds hearing on tobacco tax hike

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- The Senate’s tax writing committee is holding a hearing on a House proposal to raise New Hampshire’s tobacco tax.

The Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday morning on a bill to raise the tax 20 cents per pack. The House has since voted to raise the tax another dime to $1.98 per pack.

The tax is $1.68 now but will rise automatically to $1.78 on Aug. 1 if lawmakers take no action. Gov. Maggie Hassan proposed moving up the scheduled increase and hiking the tax another 20 cents to raise money for spending in her budget, and the House agreed to do that.

Critics argue the proposed increase would make New Hampshire less competitive. But supporters say New Hampshire’s tax would still be lower than surrounding states.

N.H. Senate taking
up marijuana decriminalization

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- A Senate committee is holding a hearing on a House-passed bill that would decriminalize possession of a small amount of marijuana.

It’s the fourth time in five years the House has voted to ease criminal penalties on marijuana possession, but the Senate has rejected each bill. Gov. Maggie Hassan also does not support decriminalization.

The bill would reduce the penalty for possession of up to a quarter ounce of marijuana to a fine of up to $200. The bill would also require those 18 and under to attend drug rehabilitation classes or face a $1,000 fine.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing is Thursday morning