New England briefs

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Vermont Senate to debate marijuana legalization

A bill to legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults in Vermont has cleared its third and last Senate committee and is expected to be up for debate on the Senate floor later this week.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the bill on a 4-3 vote on Monday after it had previously won approval in the Judiciary and Finance committees.

If the Senate passes the measure in votes that could come Wednesday and Thursday, it goes to the House, where its prospects are uncertain.

Gov. Peter Shumlin is a strong backer of the measure. He issued a statement after Monday's committee vote saying it will cut the black market, allow the state to focus on prevention and treatment and help keep marijuana away from young people.

Top Vermont officials encouraging people to vote March 1

Some top state officials are urging Vermonters to cast their ballots next week on Town Meeting Day.

Secretary of State Jim Condos, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott and some lawmakers are reminding voters that to cast ballots next Tuesday they must register to vote by Wednesday.

Condos, Scott and others will be holding an event Tuesday at the Statehouse in Montpelier to remind people of the importance of voting.

Many towns and cities across Vermont will be electing local officials and passing budgets on Town Meeting Day.

Vermonters will also be voting in a presidential primary.

Man pleads innocent in Vermont rental box truck crash

A western Massachusetts man is facing charges after police allege he led them on a chase and crashed a rental box truck in Vermont, injuring himself and two occupants.

Matthew Megaro, 19, pleaded innocent Monday in Bennington to first-degree unlawful restraint which resulted in the risk of injury and other offenses. His attorney requested a competency evaluation.

Police say they started pursuing his truck on Friday because of erratic driving. They say the Cheshire, Massachusetts man led police on a chase that began in Brandon and continued through Bennington.

Police say the truck went as fast as 87 miles per hour on Route 7. They say the truck eventually crashed down an embankment.

Megaro and his two passengers were hospitalized with minor injuries.

Burlington Airport penalized $37K for groundwater violations

Burlington International Airport has agreed to pay a $37,754 penalty for violating Vermont's stormwater regulations.

The Department of Environmental Conservation says the airport agreed to the settlement for violating its permits that allow it to discharge stormwater containing aircraft de-icing fluid to groundwater via four injection wells.

After reviewing information provided by the airport, the department determined the airport had not been monitoring the groundwater near where the stormwater was injected into the ground for four years as required by the permit. The airport is now in compliance.

Airport Aviation Director Gene Richards says the violation was the result of a clerical error and there was no damage to the environment.

The airport is located in South Burlington, but is operated by the city of Burlington.

Suit: Burlington College misused founder's scholarship money

One of Burlington College's founders is suing the institution, claiming the college misused money intended for student scholarships to help the school with financial troubles.

Court papers say that G. Jason Conway, who died in 2010, left the school $70,000 as an endowment for "deserving students."

An attorney for Conway's estate claimed in a Feb. 1 filing that the college committed fraud by using the endowment for expenses other than student scholarships.

Executor Marjorie Lemay says school officials told her some of the money was used for other purposes, but said they would replace the funds.

The estate is asking the court to void the endowment contract and impose punitive damages.

Burlington College President Carol Moore didn't respond to requests for comment Monday.

Feds say money for fishing monitors will run out by March 1

Federal fishing regulators say they have notified some New England fishermen that they will have to pay the cost of at-sea monitors starting March 1.

Monitors collect data to help determine future fishing quotas and their services can cost more than $700 per day. Fishermen of important commercial species such as cod and haddock will have to start paying the cost of the monitors under new rules.

The rule change has prompted criticism from fishermen who say they can't afford more costs. The cost shift comes as New England cod fishermen are already struggling with a declining fish population and tough quotas.

The change has also been the subject of a lawsuit filed by fishermen in U.S. District Court in Concord. A judge's ruling on the lawsuit is pending.

Family friend: Food, gift cards for fire victims taken

A friend of a Maine family that lost everything in a fire last month says donations for fundraisers for the family have been stolen.

Denise Webber said that friends and family had asked stores for donations to help with a March benefit. But the stores have told them that someone has already been there to pick them up.

She estimates that at least $200 worth of food and gift cards were taken.

The Bowring family has also been the subject of a vicious social media campaign accusing the family of burning their own house down in January even though they didn't have insurance. It was homeowner Maurice Bowring's fourth fire at the same location.

The comments were so bad the family took down a fundraising page.

Woman's unorthodox approach helps her get kidney donor

A Maine woman's unorthodox approach to finding a kidney donor has paid off.

Linda Deming was so desperate for a kidney transplant that she posted signs along the side of the road and advertised from her car.

At least 50 people have reached out to her and she eventually found two matches. The Pownal woman got the green light from her doctors last week and her surgery is scheduled for next week.

Her donor is 37-year-old Amber McIntyre, a married mother of four from Kenduskeag. The Bangor waitress says she saw Deming's story on Facebook. She will meet Deming the night before the surgery.

Deming says she hopes her story will help raise awareness and prompt more people to become donors.

– The Associated Press


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