Vermont lottery opens for cut-your-own firewood lots

MONTPELIER (AP) -- The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation has opened the lottery for "cut-your-own" firewood lots on state forest lands.

The two-week registration for the personal roadside lots ends on Jan. 16. Each roadside lot costs $30 and yields out three cords of wood for the 2014 home heating season.

Trees are marked and lottery winners get a tour from Forest and Parks staff members on which trees are available for cutting.

This year roadside lots are available in the towns of Duxbury, Orange, Johnson, Groton, Westmore and Sutton. Participants will need to indicate where they prefer to cut.

N.H. House to vote
on electronic Keno, poker rules

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire lawmakers are considering whether to allow electronic Keno games to be played in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.

The House Ways and Means Committee voted 14-5 this fall to endorse the idea as a means to raise an estimated $9 million annually if the game is offered at 250 sites. The Lottery Commission said some of the money will be from New Hampshire residents staying home to play rather than driving across the border to Massachusetts.

In Keno, players select numbers for each game from a field of 80 numbers. A computer randomly selects 20 winning numbers. The bill would require businesses to ensure players were older than 18.

Opponents argue the damage to communities with the video machines outweighs the revenue to the state.

Vt. hospitals await 1st patient of new system

MONTPELIER (AP) -- It’s the first business day of 2014 and Vermont hospitals are still waiting to identify the first patient to seek health coverage under the new health care system that rang in with the new year.

Kevin Goddard of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont says about 3,000 individuals are enrolled in the new system so far with more enrollments coming in, including 1,000 since Tuesday. About 14,000 individuals are covered through small businesses.

But it’s too early to determine if any of those people have sought health care yet using their new health insurance.

Health insurance policies offered through the federal health overhaul known as the Affordable Care Act took effect on Jan. 1, but Thursday is the first day hospitals and insurance carriers could process the first claims.

Regular Maine tomato grower coming back

MADISON, Maine (AP) -- Maine Gov. Paul LePage is going to help Backyard Farms celebrate the reopening of its greenhouses and a new crop of tomatoes.

Backyard Farms, which operates a 42-acre greenhouse in Madison, twice destroyed nearly half a million plants over the summer, once because of an infestation of white flies and a second time because a batch of seedlings did not meet quality standards.

LePage will join plant officials on Wednesday at the indoor farm, which is now back in full operation with a 200 employees.

The company says the administration’s prompt assistance helped the company during a difficult time.

All told, the farm grows about 450,000 plants that produce around 27 million pounds of tomatoes in a year. The company sells to supermarkets across the region.