New England in Brief
Bennington giving 1 month to pay overdue parking tickets
BENNINGTON (AP) -- Following a monthlong amnesty period in March, police in Bennington, Vt., plan to step up efforts to collect about $150,000 owed to the town in over 5,500 unpaid parking tickets and late fees.
Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette said the town’s parking ticket records date back to 1997. He said the records are becoming too cumbersome and the department is hoping to clear the backlog.
Parking tickets are now $25. If they are not paid within 72 hours, the fee is doubled.
However, throughout March, anyone with outstanding tickets will be able to pay them for the original fee, without late charges.
Mass. Air Guard to practice over Vt., N.H.
RUTLAND (AP) -- Some F-15 fighter jets based in Massachusetts are practicing over parts of southern Vermont and New Hampshire in preparation for an upcoming inspection.
The fighters from the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 104th Fighter Wing will be finding and escorting non-military aircraft, such as Civil Air Patrol Cessnas, to regional airports to simulate real-world procedures.
The Massachusetts Air Guard says training is scheduled Wednesday during daytime hours.
The guard says the following communities in Vermont may experience increased aircraft activity: Rutland, Wells, Granville, Bennington, Morse State Airport, Mount Snow, West Dover, Manchester, Dorset and Pawlet.
Affected communities in New Hampshire include Keene and Claremont.
N.H.gov sends health exchange letter
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Gov. Maggie Hassan has sent a letter to Washington declaring the state’s intent to pursue a partnership with the federal government to operate the new insurance markets required under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law.
Hassan sent the letter Wednesday, two days ahead of the deadline for states that opted not to set up their own health exchanges to decide whether to enter a partnership or let the federal government handle everything.
Hassan says it would not be in the state’s best interest to allow the federal government to impose a one-size-fits-all exchange on New Hampshire. She notes that without a partnership, the state would be handing over the regulatory authority the state insurance department traditionally has held.
N.H. to get nearly $2M for federal
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire is getting nearly $2 million in emergency relief funds to assist with repair costs for federal lands and highways following Tropical Storm Irene.
At the height of the storm in August 2011, close to 250 roads in New Hampshire were closed due to flooding or damage. Then-Gov. John Lynch had issued an emergency declaration at the time.
The funds come from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration.
New Hampshire Rep. Carol Shea-Porter announced the funds Wednesday.
N.H. officials discuss the prospect of execution
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire’s corrections commissioner says the first execution in more than 70 years likely would occur in a prison gymnasium because the death penalty is so rarely used in the Granite State.
Commissioner William Wren -- speaking at a symposium on the death penalty -- said the state’s only death row convict -- Michael Addison -- doesn’t even live on death row because the state no longer has one.
Addison was sentenced to death in 2008 for the murder of Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs. His case is on appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
Attorney Chris Keating, who supervised Addison’s defense, said it was sheer luck that a Louisiana public defender with experience defending capital cases moved to New Hampshire in time to defend Addison.
New Hampshire House rejects collective bargaining limits
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire’s House has again rejected legislation that would have barred employers from negotiating contracts with unions that collect administrative fees from nonunion workers.
The House voted 212-141 to kill the bill Wednesday.
New Hampshire labor leaders, workers and community members oppose the bill introduced by former House Speaker William O’Brien, a Mont Vernon Republican.
Supporters argue it is wrong to force workers to pay the fees as a condition of employment even if it is part of a collective bargaining agreement negotiated between workers and their employer.
Legislators defeated a similar bill last year. Gov. John Lynch vetoed a bill in 2011.
Like the previous bills, the current bill would have allowed non-union employees to abstain from paying union dues for contract negotiations.
Conn. farmers cope with snow-collapsed buildings
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Many Connecticut farmers are assessing damage to their businesses after greenhouses and hoop houses collapsed following the massive snow storm that struck New England last weekend.
Mark Sellew, owner of Prides Corner Farms in Lebanon, said Wednesday that 600 linear feet of greenhouse space collapsed. He operates 70 miles of greenhouses and said the damage to buildings and ornamental plants would have been worse had he not braced many greenhouses with two-by-fours.
State agriculture officials say more than 120 farm buildings were damaged or destroyed.
The damage is particularly hard on farmers who already have coped with the recession and the weak economic recovery that followed. Much of the damage in Connecticut was to the state’s nursery and landscaping businesses, which account for more than $1 billion sales.
Thousands in Mass. still without power
BOSTON (AP) -- Fewer than 4,000 utility customers remain without power in Massachusetts following the weekend snowstorm.
More than 400,000 outages were reported at the height of the storm that left many areas with at least two feet of snow.
As of early afternoon on Wednesday, NStar said it had about 3,900 customers without power. Marshfield, Plymouth, Sandwich and Barnstable were among the hardest-hit communities.
National Grid was down to several dozen, mostly isolated outages.
Gov. Deval Patrick said Wednesday that he was more satisfied with the response by the utilities than he was on the previous day, while adding that he understood the frustration of residents who are still without power.
State officials have said they will assess the response by the utilities to the storm once the restoration process is complete.
Markey, Lynch sign deal aimed at outside group ads
BOSTON (AP) -- U.S. Reps. Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch have signed a deal aimed at limiting outside groups from launching television, radio and internet ads during the Democratic primary in Massachusetts upcoming special U.S. Senate election.
The deal is based on a pledge signed by Republican Scott Brown and Democratic Elizabeth Warren during last year’s Senate race.
The deal between Markey and Lynch also includes to money spent on direct mail advertising which was not covered by the Brown and Warren agreement.
After signing the agreement Markey and Lynch both put out press releases saying that outside money should have no place in the Senate race.
If an outside group runs an ad, the deal requires the candidate who benefits to donate half the cost of the ad to a charity chosen by the other candidate.
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