Keurig nixes Kold machine, will lay off 130 employees

NEW YORK >> Keurig Green Mountain, which made its name as a maker of single-cup coffee machines, is laying off more than 100 workers after its Keurig Kold home soda machine system fizzled out after less than a year on the market.

The company said Tuesday it's discontinuing the first generation of Kold and offering customers refunds for the full purchase price. The home soda-making machine debuted last fall to questions about its affordability for the average consumer. The suggested retail price of the bulky countertop units was $369.99, with each soda pod costing more than a dollar — significantly more expensive than buying and storing cans of soda in your fridge.

Keurig said 130 employees will be affected, 108 of them in Vermont, and most of them workers on Kold pod manufacturing and related support teams. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said his understanding was that other parts of the company would not be affected.

The company had high hopes when its Kold machines debuted, suggesting they could eventually be bigger than its coffee brewers, which it said at the time were in about 17 percent of U.S. households. It didn't say specifically what caused it to pull Kold, but acknowledged that what they learned from the Kold rollout would be incorporated into future beverages makers.

Keurig was bought in December for close to $14 billion by an investment group led by JAB Holding Co., a private company with a growing coffee business.


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Vermont Health Department seeks to reduce chronic disease

WATERBURY >> The Vermont Department of Health is launching a new campaign to help reduce the impact of chronic disease in the state.

At a Tuesday event in Waterbury, Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen said Vermonters are more likely to die from preventable chronic diseases than from all other causes of death combined.

The new campaign called 3-4-50 emphasizes that lack of physical activity, poor diet and tobacco use all contribute to the chronic diseases cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and lung disease, which result in more than half of all deaths.

Chen says the campaign is designed to make changes in workplaces, businesses, schools and communities to make healthy choices.

A new website includes statewide data and information on how chronic disease disproportionately affects different groups of Vermonters.

New program aims at reducing home energy use

MONTPELIER >> A new program offered by a Vermont nonprofit aims at reducing home energy use.

Zero Energy Now is being offered by Building Performance Professionals Association of Vermont.

It connects property owners with a certified energy contractor who will conduct an analysis of the building and present options for energy improvements, such as heat pumps, air sealing, insulation, and renewable heating sources.

To qualify for cash incentives, home owners will need to complete the upgrades by the end of the year.

4 suspects in homeless camp death to return to Vermont

BURLINGTON >> Police say four suspects in the fatal beating of a man at a Vermont homeless camp are not going to fight efforts to be brought back to Burlington from California to face murder charges.

Burlington police say the suspects, arrested last week in San Diego, have waived extradition and will be returned to Vermont to face second-degree murder charges in the death of 38-year-old Amos Beede.

Beede was beaten May 23 as part of a dispute between two Burlington homeless encampments. Beede died of his injuries May 28.

The suspects, all in their 20s, are Erik Averill, Myia Barber, Allison Gee and Jordan Paul. They were arrested June 2.

Burlington police say they are working out the extradition details.

Authorities still working on 2-year-old disappearance case

WEST PAWLET >> Vermont and New York authorities are still working on the case of a man who was last seen near the state line in 2014.

Members of the Vermont and New York state police scuba teams spent Monday at a quarry on Route 149 in West Pawlet, Vermont. They looked for evidence pertaining to the disappearance of Jonathan Schaff, but didn't recover anything.

The then-23-year-old Schaff, of Fair Haven, Vermont, was last seen early on Jan. 18, 2014, walking on Route 149. Police said he was involved in a fight in a bar in Granville, New York, and suffered a head injury and broken glasses. Police said his cellphone was found in an abandoned vehicle near the river.

Anyone with any information on the case is asked to contact the Vermont State Police.

5 arrested at Vermont natural gas pipeline protest

WILLISTON >> Five people have been arrested following a protest against a natural gas pipeline in Vermont.

Dozens gathered in Williston early Monday morning at the work site. The protest was organized by the group Rising Tide Vermont.

Police say one woman attached herself to construction equipment, was freed by rescue crews and arrested. Another man attached himself to an excavator. They say they'll end up with citations if they're Vermont residents.

The pipeline is slated to extend the Vermont Gas transmission network 41 miles from Colchester to Middlebury. It's intended to provide natural gas to more than 3,000 new customers.

Vermont Gas says the protests didn't impact their Monday work plans.

Shumlin signs bill expanding Vermont medical marijuana law

MONTPELIER >> Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin has signed into law a bill expanding the medical conditions that can allow a Vermont patient to be prescribed marijuana for treatment of symptoms. Added to the list are patients with chronic pain, glaucoma and those in hospice care.

Marijuana had been allowed for severe pain, but not pain that was less severe but chronic. Critics of that situation complained that patients could more easily obtain prescription opiates for pain treatment than marijuana.

In signing the bill, Shumlin said opiate addiction has become a severe problem in Vermont and around the country. He says if much-less addictive marijuana can be used instead, that can address patients' pain without the threat of severe addiction.

– The Associated Press