New England briefs

Vermont legalization advocate: Any progress is good progress

Supporters of marijuana legalization in Vermont have talked about a tightly regulated industry, with permits for and size limits on grow operations and special stores to sell the drug.

But now some are saying simple legalization of possessing small amounts would mark progress.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on Tuesday both for and against legalization.

At a news conference following the committee's meeting, supporters of legalization continued to talk up regulation and taxation of the drug.

But Laura Subin, an attorney and director of the Vermont Coalition to Regulate Marijuana, said it would mark important progress if lawmakers this year simply legalize possession of small amounts of the drug. She says further development of a regulatory system could be left for future years.

Sanders: Almost 800 students in State of the Union contest

The office of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders says a record number of Vermont high school students entered his annual State of the Union essay contest this year.

He says 799 students from 39 schools wrote essays of between 250 and 500 words giving their views on the state of the union. Twenty entries have been chosen as finalists.

President Barack Obama gave his final State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

The sixth annual contest, timed to coincide with the president's speech, gives students a chance to address what they see as the major issues facing the country.

The 20 finalists will have their essays entered into the Congressional Record.

The winner will be announced in the coming days.

Group wants to put ice rink in front of Vermont Statehouse

A Vermont group is trying to put an outdoor ice rink on the front lawn of the statehouse in Montpelier.

Montpelier Alive's Put a Rink on it committee is seeking permission from the state Department of Buildings and General Services.

The agency requires a $10,000 line of credit to be used if there's any damage to state property. Committee members say they're trying to raise money to meet that condition.

Another condition requires a trained adult attendant to be at the rink during all operating hours. Organizers say it will take time to screen and train the attendants.

The committee is hoping to get approval from the department for the 2016-2017 winter season.

Patients urged to get revaccinated after refrigeration issue

A New Hampshire hospital that discovered its vaccines were stored at inconsistent temperatures is asking more than 800 children to get revaccinated.

State public health officials say the affected vaccines from Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital in Lebanon aren't harmful but might have lost some potency. That means they could provide less immunity to disease.

The problem occurred over the course of 14 months, from September 2014 to October 2015. The hospital is offering to revaccinate 827 patients at no cost to them or their insurance companies.

State epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan says he's confident the hospital is now safely managing refrigeration of its vaccines.

There have been no reports of patients coming down with a vaccine-preventable disease after receiving the affected immunizations.

TV company wants to make reality show on fish, game officers

A film and television production company in New York wants to make a reality show following New Hampshire Fish and Game Department officers.

Engel Entertainment is seeking permission to create a version of a show on Animal Planet about Maine game wardens called "North Woods Law."

The state Executive Council will take up the idea Wednesday and decide whether to approve a contract that would give the production company the right to tape fish and game officers.

The department's executive director, Glenn Normandeau, says the show could increase awareness and recognition of the jobs of fish and game officers. He says the program could also aid in recruitment efforts.

The show could be ready in as soon as nine months if it's approved.

New Hampshire clears amendment to easement for Balsams

The redevelopment of the Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch has taken another step forward, thanks to the attorney general's office.

The decision was made Tuesday in the face of objections from some donors to the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. The "no action" letter allows for the amending of conservation restrictions in four towns, mostly for the expansion of the Wilderness Ski Area.

The easement was created in 2012 after more than 1,500 Forest Society supporters donated $850,000 for the purchase of conservation restrictions on land around the Balsams.

The Balsams closed in 2010. Maine ski resort developer Les Otten's plan would renovate existing buildings and build a 400-room hotel, conference center, spa and retreat. It would also expand the ski area.

Generations-old businesses face demolition in Portland

Officials in Maine's largest city are considering whether a group of generations-old businesses should be designated historic and saved from demolition.

The buildings could be knocked down to make room for a pharmacy. Occupants include Palmer Spring Co., a business that has spent more than 150 years making mechanical springs for transportation. The business's tenure spans horse-drawn carriages, trolleys and automobiles and it has been at its current location for more than 80 years.

A couple of multi-generation businesses are located nearby. They include David Munster's TV Sales and Service and the Forest Gardens bar.

Portland's Historic Preservation Board will meet on Wednesday to conduct a preliminary review about whether the buildings should be protected.

Lawmakers press for impeachment of Maine's abrasive governor

Maine's governor has offended many with his abrasive comments and hard-nosed political tactics. On Thursday, lawmakers take up a longshot bid to impeach him.

Democrats say Republican Gov. Paul LePage crossed the line when he pressured an organization to rescind a job offer to one of his political adversaries.

Impeachment would be unprecedented in Maine.

A simple majority in the Democratic-controlled Maine House is all that's needed to start an investigation that could lead to impeachment. But even that's far from assured.

Also, the Republicans control the Maine Senate, where any impeachment trial would be held.

– The Associated Press


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