New England briefs

Some Vermont roads closed to flooding from rain, snowmelt

Some local and state roads remain closed in Vermont due to flooding from heavy rain, melting snow and the breaking up of ice on some rivers and streams.

Mid-morning Thursday the National Weather Service in Burlington issued a flood warning for the Winooski River in Essex Junction through Friday morning.

Among the affected roads are Route 15 in Hardwick, where several residences were evacuated; Route 105 from Enosburg to Berkshire; and Route 2 in the area of Old Settlement Farm in Middlesex.

Child's tale about growing 'special' plants ends in pot bust

Authorities say a second-grader's story about helping a farmer grow "special medicine" plants led to a big marijuana bust in Vermont.

Windsor Detective Jennifer Frank said in an affidavit that the 8-year-old told school officials and police that he got to help his mother's boyfriend grow "special medicine that can cure anything at all."

Frank says the boy told her that people came to the Windsor house frequently.

Fifty-four-year-old Steven Mann pleaded not guilty this week in a White River Junction court to a felony count of cultivating more than 25 marijuana plants. A woman who answered a phone listing for a Steven Mann in Windsor County said it was the wrong number.

Police say they found two "grow rooms" next to the child's bedroom.

Police: School bus damaged covered bridge in Cornish

Police say a school bus carrying a girls' basketball team struck and damaged a historic covered bridge in New Hampshire.

Cornish Police Chief Doug Hackett said 67-year-old bus driver Allan Henderson of Brandon, Vermont, got lost last weekend trying to find Windsor High School in Vermont. The bus carrying the Otter Valley Girls Basketball Team crossed the bridge and tried to turn around.

The bridge, posted at 6 tons and 7-foot-3 clearance, was struck on both ends by the bus, which has a 10-by-4 clearance requirement and a curb weight of up to 15 tons.

Police said they're investigating a misdemeanor charge of conduct after an accident and two violations.

The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was originally constructed in 1882.

Circus operator contesting fine over deadly tent collapse

A Florida-based circus operator is contesting more than $33,000 in fines proposed by federal safety officials for a tent collapse that killed two people and injured dozens in New Hampshire last year.

Robert Young, 41, and his 6-year-old daughter, Annabelle, died Aug. 3 when a storm with winds up to 75 mph blew through the Lancaster Fairgrounds, toppling the tent just minutes after about 100 people had settled in to watch a show. Young and his daughter were from Concord, Vermont. Fifty other people were injured, including two circus employees.

Ted Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said the meeting between agency representatives and Walker International Events took place Wednesday.

"They did not reach a resolution, so the company is contesting the citation," Fitzgerald said. The company's notice will be forwarded to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, which would assign it to an administrative law judge who would hear the case if a settlement can't be worked out.

OSHA said that Sarasota-based Walker International Events failed to properly erect the tent and ignored severe weather and high-wind warnings from the National Weather Service. Inspectors determined that the company failed to use required tent stakes, properly anchor the stakes or replace damaged stakes.

The agency also found hazards that put circus employees at risk of electric shock, burns and cuts, such as the use of inappropriate electrical equipment in wet areas and a lack of fire extinguishers in areas where employees worked with open flames.

A number listed for Walker International is no longer in service, and the business' Facebook page is down. Several lawsuits have been filed against Walker stemming from the tent collapse. A lawyer representing Walker in those cases said she was not at the meeting Wednesday and had no comment.

Maine might cut back moose hunt permits to improve viewing

Maine wildlife biologists say the state should cut back moose hunting permits by nearly a quarter to meet public demand to view the animal in the wild.

State biologists made the proposal to cut the coveted permits by 24 percent on Wednesday.

Maine Wildlife Division Director Judy Camuso says the statewide herd appears healthier than in recent years when moose have struggled with parasites. But she says cutting the permits would help meet the objective of allowing more people to view them.

The proposal says the number of permits given out this year would drop to 2,140. The cuts would take place in five of the state's 29 wildlife districts.

The permits are subject to a lottery that attracts tens of thousands of applicants.

– The Associated Press


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