<![CDATA[NECN - ]]>Copyright 2018https://www.necn.com/feature/vermonthttp://media.necn.com/designimages/clear.gifNECNhttps://www.necn.comen-usTue, 13 Nov 2018 20:42:46 -0500Tue, 13 Nov 2018 20:42:46 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations<![CDATA[Vt. Attorney General Warns of Student Loan Scams]]>Tue, 13 Nov 2018 20:09:09 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/160*120/tj+donovan1.jpg

Vermont’s attorney general is warning consumers of an apparent uptick in scams targeting people who have student loans.

T.J. Donovan said Tuesday that his office, and colleagues around the country, have been hearing from borrowers who thought they were dealing with debt relief companies or paperwork completion providers that turned out to be fraudulent.

Donovan said the scammers may trick people into signing over power of attorney, then steal the victim’s identity and end up sending student loans into default—which could damage your credit for many years.

Donovan said warning signs include high-pressure pitches over the phone, hefty up-front fees, requests for social security numbers or other personal info over the phone, and big promises like a way to make your loan payments disappear.

“When things sound too good to be true, they usually are,” warned Attorney General Donovan. “Students have worked hard—they’ve taken out a lot of money to get an education. Thousands and thousands of Vermont students have done that. This isn’t the time to get ripped off.”

In Vermont, people with student loans can get free advice on legit loan repayment strategies from the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, or VSAC.

VSAC is a public nonprofit agency based in Winooski, and says it will provide coaching to any Vermonter, even if their loans are through another provider.

Donovan said now is the time recent college graduates may be most vulnerable to scams, because loan payments will soon start being collected from people who graduated in May.

The attorney general said his office has received dozens of complaints about student loan scams, and said anecdotally, the attempts seem to be on the rise.

Donovan said phone scams can be hard to investigate and prosecute, because the fraudsters are often outside the country.

Donovan suggested the best offense against fraud could be a strong defense, through greater public education and awareness.

Click here to visit the website of the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation.

<![CDATA['Empowering' Vt. Nonprofit Awards 5,000th Vehicle]]>Tue, 13 Nov 2018 17:31:23 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Major_Milestone_for_New_England_Charity.jpg

A New England nonprofit celebrated a major milestone Tuesday.

Good News Garage, a charity that provides cars to low-income people in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine who struggle to find transportation, awarded its 5,000th vehicle.

"This car will help us get into better housing," predicted April Thorburn of Rutland, Vermont, who accepted the keys to a used Subaru, along with her husband, Job, and infant son, Jason.

The Burlington, Vermont-based nonprofit fixes up used cars donated by community members and provides them to low-income working people, who meet qualifications and cover certain costs—like registration fees and insurance.

The Thorburns said having a vehicle means "the world" to them.

"Laundry and shopping alone is really tough," Job Thorburn said. "And trying to get to work."

Another Good News Garage office in Manchester, New Hampshire, serves people from that state, Maine, and Massachusetts, aiming to help lift families out of poverty.

Oftentimes, recipients have long commutes in rural areas, which are not well-served by public transportation.

"I think transportation can be empowering," said Amy Barcomb of Good News Garage. "Transportation can open a whole new world of possibilities."

"Five thousand cars is a lot, but it's a drop in the bucket for what transportation needs really exist in New England," observed Angela Bovill of the Ascentria Care Alliance — a social services organization based in Worcester, Massachusetts, which includes Good News Garage.

Bovill noted the need for Good News Garage's services is greater than the organization's ability to help — due to the charity being limited by donations.

Bovill explained that if donated cars have good road life left in them, they are spiffed up and awarded to families in need, but if they are at the end of their lives, they are auctioned off — with proceeds benefiting the work of Good News Garage.

"If you look at some of the primary causes of poverty, transportation is number two, right behind mental health and substance abuse," Bovill noted. "It is a big deal."

The Thorburns say the car will help them visit their other kids who are with foster families, as well as make it to needed medical appointments, and to Job's job selling lumber.

The couple's hope is for a road to a better future, now that they have a car to get them there.

"Thank God for Good News Garage," Job Thorburn said.

Click here to visit the website of Good News Garage, and learn how your vehicle donation may help its mission.

<![CDATA[Killington Readies for World Cup Races]]>Mon, 12 Nov 2018 18:25:29 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/World_Class_Skiers_Return_to_Killington.jpg

Vermont’s Killington Resort is about to host many of the planet’s fastest female skiers, for the Audi FIS Ski World Cup races, the weekend after Thanksgiving.

“It was a good energy—it was fun,” said ski racing fan Shane Rice of Westwood, Massachusetts, who attended the event last November, and plans to attend again this month.

The World Cup races will showcase Killington for an international TV audience, and bring more than 30,000 spectators to the base of the mountain for the two days of racing, Saturday and Sunday, November 24 and 25.

Friday, the day before the races, there are other activities, including autograph-signings and a fireworks show.

Olympic champion and New England favorite Mikaela Shiffrin will be among the athletes competing.

“A lot of locals know her and she gets big cheers, so it’s a lot of fun,” Rice added.

This will be the third straight year Killington is hosting the World Cup races.

“To have a race of this magnitude on World Cup status for the general public to come and see is something—always—they like to come and visit and witness live,” said Killington Resort spokesperson Amy Laramie.

Crews are building the stands, and with the weather in their favor, a large team of snowmakers is on the job 24/7, shaping a dense, hard-packed surface, for the competitors’ fastest runs possible.

“I will admit it is a lot of pressure,” said Jeff Temple, Killington’s mountain operations director, who explained this work started during a cold snap in October.

With the races getting closer, a full arsenal of snow guns is now blasting roughly 16-million gallons of water total, Temple said, promising the resort will be ready for its time on the world ski racing stage.

“The resort is very, very committed to the World Cup, but it’s more than just us,” Temple told necn & NBC 10 Boston. “It’s the region, it’s the state, and it’s really New England, because that’s where that rich racing heritage comes from, and why we draw such large crowds here of spectators.”

It’s free to check out the World Cup races in-person, and you don’t need a ticket. You will need one, though, if you want to sit in the fancier grandstand or food and beer pavilion.

Laramie said some tickets for those areas are still available.

The weekend also includes free live music, from performers including KT Tunstall, Michael Franti, and Guster, Laramie added.

More information on attending the races can be found here.  

<![CDATA[Police: Man Shoots Victim During Violent Drug Dispute]]>Sat, 10 Nov 2018 22:12:09 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Ross+Hanvey+mugshot.jpg

A Burlington, Vermont, man is in custody after allegedly shooting another man twice in the abdomen after a drug dispute escalated into violence, police say.

The victim's identity was not released, but officials say the man is expected to survive the shooting.

The suspect is Ross Hanvey, 30, a convicted felon who has more than a dozen misdemeanor convictions, according to police.

An investigation revealed the shooting took place near the area of 64 N. Champlain St. around 1 a.m. Saturday.

Hanvey is being held at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility. It's unclear if he has an attorney.

An investigation into the shooting is ongoing.

Photo Credit: Burlington, Vt. Police]]>
<![CDATA[Vermont Home Considered Total Loss After Fire]]>Sat, 10 Nov 2018 20:57:23 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/180*120/111018+Vermont+Fire.jpg

A home in Vermont was destroyed when a fire that started in the basement spread to the rest of the wooden frame structure early Saturday morning.

No one was hurt in the blaze but the home, at 48 Pond St. in Newport, is considered a total loss.

The fire originated in the basement, officials say, just above where a wood stove had been burning. The home's owner had stoked the wood stove around 3 a.m., officials say, and began to smell smoke around 4:30 a.m.

Sometime between 5:15 a.m. and 5:30 a.m., the homeowner discovered the fire in the basement and attempted to extinguish it with a garden hose, according to officials.

The homeowner called the Newport City Fire Department just prior to 6 a.m. When firefighters arrived on scene, they discovered the flames had spread to all floors of the home.

The fire is believed to be accidental.

Photo Credit: Vermont State Police]]>
<![CDATA[Vt. Advocates Blast White House Immigration Proposal]]>Fri, 09 Nov 2018 17:05:20 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/US+flag+file.JPG

Advocates for immigrants and their families are pushing back against a proposed rule from the Trump administration that could affect who stays in the country—either temporarily or permanently.

“We believe that this rule will have a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of children and families both in this state and across the country,” warned physician Dr. Rebecca Bell of the University of Vermont Medical Center.

The Trump administration is now proposing to block lawful immigrants from getting visas or green cards if they’ve ever relied on certain benefits including food stamps or public housing assistance.

Advocates are concerned such a rule could lead to people forgoing nutrition for their families or other basic needs in order to not run afoul of immigration policies.

Eve Dolkart is a U.S. citizen living in Burlington who married a man from Central America. They met while Dolkart was doing poverty aid work there, she said.

Because the couple needed temporary help with food when Dolkart lost work, she said she worried her spouse’s residency re-certification could be in jeopardy if the White House proposal takes effect.

“It’s dehumanizing,” Dolkart said in an interview with necn about the proposed federal rule change. “The scariest thing was feeling like we could lose each other. I would move back to Guatemala to live with my husband to have our family stay together.”

In statements read at a press conference Friday by representatives of Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, both senators described the Trump administration proposal as harsh and accused the White House of “demonizing” immigrants.

For its part, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security wrote on its website that it merely wants to reaffirm existing policies, noting that personal finances were a common reason for turning away immigrants in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the move is designed to “promote immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers.”

Refugees would be exempt, DHS noted.

A coalition of Vermont groups that calls food and housing basic human rights, and considers immigrants vital to Vermont communities and the economy, are now fighting back against the proposal.

“We need to restore our humanity,” said Cindy Reid of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition.

“This administration has shown again and again that it wants to keep immigrants out of this country, and not provide them with basic needs,” added Jessica Radboard of Vermont Legal Aid.

Radboard pointed out the proposal is not in effect currently, and would not be retroactive if it ever does take effect.

The coalition encouraged the public to weigh in on the proposal with online comments to the government, which can be submitted until Dec. 10.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Vt. Business Backs Group Working to Reduce Mass Shootings]]>Thu, 08 Nov 2018 17:58:51 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Parkland+T+shirts+made+in+Vermont.JPG

Cutting mass shootings is the goal of a new partnership between a northern New England business and a Florida-based non-profit founded by the parents of a young victim of gun violence.

“It’s such a crucial, emblematic issue,” T-shirt designer Brian Carr said of mass shootings.

Carr, who runs Solid Threads from his Burlington, Vermont headquarters, said he loves clothes that spark conversations.

Two of his Ts are now taking on one of the toughest challenges of our times: mass shootings. Carr ships shirts nationwide, including one reading “Books, not magazines,” saying kids should be able to go to school without fearing violence.

Another puts a pencil in the hands of Dirty Harry in place of his revolver, transforming the character’s famous movie line to, “Go ahead, change your way,” with a call for sensible gun reform.

“I think a lot of people are afraid to bring politics into business and want to be careful of the bottom line. But these issues are bigger than that,” Carr said Thursday, following a shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California, that killed a dozen people. “It’s impossible to look away.”

Carr sends half the profits from these designs to the group “Change the Ref,” which just last week introduced an eye-catching billboard alongside the Massachusetts Turnpike in Boston.

“We have to make a change,” implored Patricia Oliver at the unveiling on Nov. 1.

The face of Patricia Oliver’s student son, Joaquin, is on that billboard.

He was one of 17 people massacred at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in February.

The victim’s dad told necn and NBC10 Boston at the unveiling in the Back Bay that Change the Ref aims to use urban art and activism to press for new policies and a more peaceful future.

“I think that the only thing that I can do now is prevent other parents to go through what I’m going through,” Joaquin Oliver’s dad, Manuel, said on Nov. 1 about his work with the advocacy group.

Brian Carr said he wishes his shirts never had to be designed, but with people still dying, he said he’s glad to lend his voice to the debate over guns in America.

“I hope people are drawn into it and whatever side you’re on, it starts a productive conversation,” Carr told necn and NBC10 Boston.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston/necn]]>
<![CDATA[Supermajority in Vt. House Could Blunt Governor's Veto Power]]>Wed, 07 Nov 2018 18:42:57 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Phil+Scott+110718.JPG

Election night wins by Democrats means a major change is coming for the Vermont Legislature.

Preliminary vote totals from the office of Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos indicate there will now be enough Democrats and Progressives in the House of Representatives to block the governor from using his veto authority.

"Bittersweet, in some respects," Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, said of an Election Day that earned him a second term, but saw House Republicans lose seats.

Gains by Democrats in the Vermont House means it appears they'll have more than 100 votes, if they stick together and team with Progressives, which would enable them to override vetoes from the governor.

Scott's used that power to block bills he doesn't like from becoming law, including one this year that would have incrementally raised the state's minimum wage.

"When you have a supermajority, there are some things that are going to happen that I can't prevent, so they'll have to work to make their case," Scott said of House Democrats in an interview with necn affiliate NBC 5 News. "I'll do whatever I can to find areas where we can work together."

House majority leader Jill Krowinski, a Democrat representing Burlington, said she expects the wage issue to be back on the table next session, along with a bill that would guarantee workers access to paid leave from their jobs after family changes such as a new baby.

Also sure to resurface, Krowinski predicted, are proposals to tax and regulate the retail sale of recreational marijuana.

However, Krowinski told necn that just because her caucus has this new veto-proof power doesn't mean it'll use it to steamroll Republicans, since she recognizes the governor was elected by a wide margin.

"What we heard from voters is they want us to come together and get good things done," Krowinski said. "As majority leader, what I think that means is we work with our friends across the aisle to pass legislation so we don't have to be overriding vetoes."

"Right now, today, I can't say that it's going work out, but I certainly hope it does," Rep. Linda Myers, R-Essex, said of hope for greater tripartisan cooperation between Republicans, Democrats and Progressives.

Myers said House GOP members will be looking to keep a focus on affordability, but acknowledged that with their numbers now at even more of a minority, they'll have to be willing to compromise.

"If we don't do this – let's face it – then what do I see for the future of the party?" Myers said, referring to the challenging numbers in the House for Republicans. "That's my concern."

The new composition of the Vermont Legislature gets to work the first week of January.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Frustration With National Politics Energizes Vermont Voters]]>Tue, 06 Nov 2018 16:08:28 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Christine+Hallquist+and+Phil+Scott+.jpg

In Vermont, where legislators and statewide office-holders have two-year terms, voters had a lot to weigh in on Election Day.

At the polling place in Winooski, several voters told necn and NBC10 Boston it was displeasure with national politics most energizing them.

“I definitely want Donald Trump to go away forever,” Winooski voter Ashley O’Brien said. “So I think that it’s really important that we get some Democratic control back all throughout the rest of government.”

“I just don’t like the way everything’s been going,” said Randall Roberts, another Winooski voter. “I have a problem with one party going to the extreme too much, so I’m sort of dealing with that.”

It’s the state races in Vermont that should be the ones to watch, though.

Democrat Christine Hallquist voted in her home district of Hyde Park, aiming to make history by becoming the nation’s first governor who is transgender.

On the campaign trail, she pledged to combat climate change, raise the minimum wage, and expand high-speed internet access to rural pockets of Vermont.

“There is a blue wave going on, and I think it’s a tidal wave that’s going to go coast to coast,” Hallquist told necn affiliate NBC 5 News. “It’s a response to 2016.”

Incumbent Republican Phil Scott filled out his ballot in Berlin, hoping voters are satisfied enough with his focus on affordability to give him another term.

If there is a blue wave crashing, Scott’s best protection may be his name recognition and how he often distances himself from the President.

The governor’s frequent calls for civility in politics meant a mostly positive contest with his challenger, Hallquist.

“I think we can both be proud of the campaigns we ran, and again–rose above negativity,” Scott said. “Some of what we’ve seen across the country has been mean-spirited. And I think that [rising above] is the Vermont way.”

Polls across Vermont close at 7 p.m.

According to the Vermont Secretary of State’s office, roughly 14 percent of registered Vermont voters chose to vote this year using early voting.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Last-minute Push for Votes in Vermont Governor's Race]]>Mon, 05 Nov 2018 17:39:58 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Christine+Hallquist+and+Phil+Scott+.jpg

The major-party candidates for Vermont governor spent the day before Election Day laying out their closing arguments and asking voters for support.

Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, barnstormed Vermont, hitting each of the state’s 14 counties Monday, including a stop in Brattleboro, asking for another two years.

“We have so much to look forward to,” Scott said in an interview with necn and NBC 10 Boston. “We have a great state—a great quality of life. We just need it to be more affordable.”

Political novice Christine Hallquist, a former utility executive, has been on her own tour of the state over the past several days. One of Hallquist’s stops Monday saw her speaking to a standing-room-only crowd in Bellows Falls.

“It’s a choice about a compelling vision about a prosperous future, versus stagnation or decline,” Hallquist said of the race for governor.

The Democrat’s platform includes raising the minimum wage, getting much more aggressive on reversing climate change, and rural redevelopment.

“We’re going to connect every home and business with fiber optic cable so Vermonters can connect to the internet at the same speed as cities,” Hallquist told necn and NBC 10 Boston.

If she wins, Hallquist would also make history: becoming the nation’s first governor who is transgender.

According to the secretary of state’s office, roughly 12 percent of eligible Vermont voters already cast ballots, through early or absentee voting.

The incumbent, who has long been critical of President Trump, said he hopes his message of frugality and living within a small state’s means, while also protecting the most vulnerable, connects with people from beyond his GOP base.

“I have been encouraged by the number of Independents and many Democrats who’ve come and said they’re going to support me again this year,” Scott said of people he has met on the campaign trail.

Along with the major-party candidates, the race also features five other names on the ballot for Vermont governor. They are Independents Trevor Barlow, Cris Ericson, and Charles Laramie, Liberty Union candidate Emily Peyton, and Earth Rights candidate Stephen Marx.

<![CDATA[Officials: 2 Dead in VT Fires, 1 Ruled Homicide]]>Fri, 02 Nov 2018 20:18:03 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Generic+Police+Light+Generic+Cory+Booker+Office+Camden.jpg

Authorities investigating two suspicious fatal house fires in Vermont have so far determined that at least one of two deaths was a homicide.

According to officials, the two victims of the fires have been identified as David Thompson, 48, and Carol Fradette, 29.

Thompson was found dead at his residence, 637 Bliss Road in Woodbury, Vermont. Officials say the medical examiner's office has determined the cause of his death to be multiple gunshot wounds, and the manner of death is homicide.

Fradette, of 637 Bliss Road, was found dead at 715 Bliss Road. Her cause and manner of death remain pending.

Two dogs were also found dead at 637 Bliss Road. Each were shot once, authorities said.

According to officials, a resident of Bliss Road called 911 just after 11 p.m. on Tuesday to report that a house across the street was fully engulfed in flames.

When fire officials arrived, they found the fire was located at 715 Bliss Road.

While fighting the fire, authorities noticed that the adjacent house, 637 Bliss Road, was also on fire. The two homes were about 150 feet apart.

Both fires were extinguished.

Authorities found human remains inside of 715 Bliss Road and human and animal remains inside of 637 Bliss Road.

Upon this discovery, the Woodbury Fire Department contacted the Vermont State Police and the Fire and Explosions Investigation Unit, the Major Crime Unit and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

An investigation was launched and remains ongoing.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact the Vermont State Police in Middlesex at 802-229-9191.

Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Meet Vermont’s 'Bat Man']]>Wed, 31 Oct 2018 16:33:17 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Vermont+injured+bat.jpg

A Vermont man is supporting threatened and endangered bats, and raising awareness of the animals’ importance in the environment.

“[I] love this work,” said Barry Genzlinger of Milton.

Genzlinger said he is the state’s only dedicated rehabber of sick, weak, or injured bats, out of a basement space he calls the Vermont Bat Center.

“We care for them because they are good for our environment,” Genzlinger explained. “They eat nighttime flying pests at the rate of 1,000 bugs per hour.”

Genzlinger suggested if you hate mosquitos, you should love bats. They also have important roles as pollinators.

Several species, however, have been sharply declining over the past decade, especially one known as the little brown bat.

“In my opinion, this is a major national crisis,” Scott Darling of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department told necn in February 2009, when the news station went inside a cave where more than ninety percent of Vermont’s little brown bats suddenly started dying.

The deaths were attributed to a mysterious fungal disease known as white nose syndrome, which the federal government has said afflicted bats in 33 states and seven Canadian provinces.

More than 6.5-million little brown bats and other bat species have died from the illness, according to federal estimates.

The survivors remain fragile, with the state of Vermont listing the little brown bat as endangered.

Genzlinger fields calls from all over Vermont, taking in the animals when they’re found hurt or struggling in places they don’t belong.

Genzlinger then releases the animals once they’re strong enough to fly or hibernate on their own, he explained.

The rehabber, who said he operates the Vermont Bat Center primarily with his own money and some donations, urges people to never kill or swat at the insect-eaters if you find them in your home—since their numbers are already on the brink.

Instead, if the bat seems healthy, Genzlinger wants people to safely get the animal outside if it’s mild or warm out, or call an expert if it’s cold.

If the animal’s behavior seems unusual—such as a recent discovery by a business that noticed a bat hadn’t left for a few days when the temperatures were falling—Genzlinger said that’s another reason to contact an experienced animal handler.

The Vermont Bat Center can be reached at 802-891-6667.

If a homeowner is going to try to remove a bat, Genzlinger suggested wearing work gloves and putting an old cloth or towel loosely around the animal and bringing it outside and leaving the fabric there for the bat to wriggle out from when it is ready.

“Never, ever touch a bat without gloved hands,” Genzlinger cautioned, explaining that concerns over rabies could mean a healthy bat may end up getting euthanized for testing.

Federal grants are now funding conservation work nationwide, trying to combat White Nose Syndrome.

Vermont’s Fish and Wildlife Department has long offered advice to homeowners.

“They love dead and dying trees,” state small mammals biologist Alyssa Bennett said in a 2015 necn interview. “Landowners can keep those trees standing. A dead tree might be unsightly to us, but if it’s not in a dangerous location, it could be a perfect place for a bat to roost.”

With support from folks like Barry Genzlinger, scientists hope populations of this often misunderstood mammal—critical to the environment—may one day rebound.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[A Push for Peace From a Vt. Farm Field]]>Tue, 30 Oct 2018 16:22:04 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Vermont+peace+sign.JPG

After a week that saw a mail bomber targeting political leaders and another deadly mass shooting in a house of worship, a Vermont man is now urging a renewed focus on peace and kindness—in a creative way.

“I have fun with this,” said Dave Caccavo of New Haven, as he fired up his lawnmower Tuesday.

Yard maintenance doesn’t always seem like a chore to Caccavo, who finds opportunity in it: a chance to make a mark and show his point of view.

“It’s a simple expression,” Caccavo said.

The small business owner uses his lawnmower as a brush, and a horse pasture next to his home as a canvas, for a kind of painting—in grass.

Caccavo regularly trims a peace symbol into the pasture.

“There’s a lot of good out there—everybody just has to grab for the good and keep pushing forward,” Caccavo said, explaining how he aims to maintain optimism even when news headlines can seem dispiriting.

Since the universally-recognizable peace symbol that Caccavo trims with his blade is only fully visible from above, certified drone photographer Matt Benedetto, of Vermont Aerial Photo, captured images of the field for necn’s viewers.

“Maybe someone flying over Vermont—maybe heading to Montreal or something like that—gets a glimpse of it as they’re flying over Vermont and gets a little bit of hope,” Benedetto said after seeing the peace symbol for the first time from his drone’s camera.

Caccavo noted he has been maintaining the peace symbol in the field for just over a decade, but he thought now was really the right time to show it off, especially after the awful massacre inside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Caccavo said he hopes as many people as possible see the symbol through this news story and find kindness and calm in their hearts.

“It generates a moment of peace in your head,” Caccavo said of the symbol. “We need more moments of peace—it’s crazier now than ever.”

Asked why he maintains the sign so faithfully, despite the fact most people cannot see it fully unless they were to fly above, Caccavo responded, “I know it’s there—I see it, and I feel it. For me, it’s always there.”

Dave Caccavo clearly found his peace in a farm field, and now wants everyone else to strive for that ideal in their own communities.

“My little part is making the sign, the rest is up to the rest of the world,” Caccavo said, smiling.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Rally at UVM Calls for Transgender Rights]]>Mon, 29 Oct 2018 18:37:47 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/University+of+Vermont+trans+rally.JPG

A large demonstration wound through the University of Vermont campus Monday, standing up for transgender rights—one week after President Donald Trump indicated the future for transgender Americans is in flux.

“They have a lot of different things happening with respect to transgender right now,” President Trump told reporters last week. “You know that as well as I do. We’re looking at it very seriously.”

The president’s remarks came in response to a New York Times article.

The paper obtained a memo showing the administration’s thinking about narrowing the legal definition of gender, based on genitalia at birth—and making that definition unchangeable later in life to reflect how a person identifies.

“I’m protecting everybody,” Trump said, answering an NBC correspondent’s question about past promises to protect LGBT Americans. “I want to protect our country.”

Health and Human Services had no comment on the matter, saying it doesn’t comment on alleged leaked memos.

Many advocates for LGBT rights have said such a move from the federal government would appear to significantly blunt transgender protections and recognition from the Obama era.

“For me personally, it would be completely, completely devastating,” said Carter Shapiro, one of the organizers of the rally Monday at UVM. “It’s just a complete invalidation of who I am.”

Shapiro warned such a move would likely have “catastrophic” mental health impacts on transgender people.

“I think we’re looking for exactly what everyone else is,” UVM employee Ben Kennedy said in response to an necn question about what transgender people are seeking. “Equal protections under the law—access to equality, equity, health care, to education. We’re not asking for anything special, we’re just asking to be treated the same as everybody else.”

The protesters heard assurances from the University of Vermont’s president, Tom Sullivan.

“There is nothing more important that we can do at UVM but to ensure your safety, your health, your well-being, and your dignity,” Sullivan told the crowd of several hundred that gathered on campus.

But the group won’t stop there. They’re insisting they “won’t be erased,” promising to keep up the pressure in the face of any possible rollbacks at the federal level.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[In Wake of Mail Bombs, Vt. Leaders Decry Toxic Politics]]>Thu, 25 Oct 2018 16:35:19 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Vt._Leaders_Criticize_Toxic_Politics_After_Mail_Bombs.jpg

Vermont political leaders are reacting to this week's discovery of mail bombs, targeting prominent figures in public life, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and actor Robert de Niro.

"It's a heinous crime," Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont, said. "It's awful."

Welch decried the string of mail bombs, which were also sent to other prominent Democrats, and to news network CNN.

Federal investigators are scrambling to track down their sender and figure out that person's motives, which appear to be political.

Elected officials from both sides of the aisle are now calling for civility, and an end to toxic politics.

"It's absolutely essential that, no matter what our differences are, we have mutual respect," Welch said Thursday. "Whatever our position is, we really have to understand that at the core, we all have a commitment to this country."

Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, has labeled political polarization one of the greatest threats to our nation, and called us weaker as a people when we stop listening, stop working together and stop seeking common ground.

After the bomb discoveries, Scott tweeted, "I want to reiterate the urgent need for us to come together as Americans and focus on what unites us, rather than what divides us."

Lt. David Petersen from the Vermont State Police bomb squad said Thursday that units like his around the country have been sharing information on the devices as the investigation unfolds.

"So that we can have that understanding of what we might be dealing with here in Vermont, should one of these packages arrive here," Petersen told necn affiliate NBC 5 News, describing the reason for information-sharing.

The offices of Vermont's congressional delegation told NBC 5 Thursday they have not received threatening mailings such as were discovered elsewhere.

While the FBI is taking the lead on the national investigation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service out of Boston said Thursday that suspicious mailings are taken very seriously, and that it has sophisticated screening protocols aimed at ensuring a safe and secure mail system.

<![CDATA[Body of Missing Boater Found at Lake Champlain]]>Thu, 25 Oct 2018 16:57:53 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Lake+Champlain+Missing+Boater+102518.JPG

A boater who was reported missing on Lake Champlain in Vermont has been found.

Vermont State Police said Thursday that search teams had recovered the body of 67-year-old George Ruhe, who splits his time between Westhersfield, Connecticut, and Brattleboro, Vermont.

Ruhe was reportedly winterizing his boat over the weekend off the shore of Lake Champlain, near Burlington. But he had not been seen since.

Crews from Vermont State Police and the U.S. Coast Guard scanned the lake Thursday by water and by air.

The state police dive team said it had located a body at a marina in Charlotte and preliminarily identified the remains as the missing man.

His body will be brought to the medical examiner's office to determine the cause of death.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Police Look for Suspects in Assault of Vt. Student]]>Thu, 25 Oct 2018 16:23:10 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000019270755.JPG

Police in Burlington, Vermont, hope a boosted cash reward and newly-released surveillance video will help them find the suspects accused of assaulting a college student last month, fracturing his skull.

Police said the assault happened on Elmwood Avenue in downtown Burlington at 1:19 a.m. on Sept. 30.

Investigators said a group of young white or light-skilled men robbed the student, hit him, then kicked him after he fell to the ground—causing bad cuts and a skull fracture.

The 20-year-old, whose identity police did not release to the media, was hospitalized and needed surgery. Detectives said he has been released and is recovering.

Thursday, Burlington Police released surveillance video of five people seen on the nearby Church Street Marketplace around the time of the assault, and want to talk to them.

Police at this point are calling the five people in the surveillance video “potential witnesses,” not suspects.

There’s now a $1,000 cash reward in place for info that leads to an arrest of the people suspected of robbing and assaulting the student, police announced.

Anyone with information on the people in the video, or other details on the night of the assault, can call Crime Stoppers at 802-864-6666.

<![CDATA[Vermont Resorts Expand 'Green' Snowmaking]]>Wed, 24 Oct 2018 16:24:39 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Ski_Resorts_in_Vermont_Expand_Green_Snowmaking.jpg

With the ski season already underway at select resorts in New England, the ski industry in Vermont—the East Coast’s top state for skier and rider visits—is boasting of successes in going green.

Opening day for skiing and riding is still more than a month away at Vermont’s Bolton Valley, but when the lifts start running, the snowmaking operation at the destination will be a lot greener.

Bolton Valley spokesman Josh Arneson said old air compressors that used to burn 25,000 gallons of diesel fuel a season are being swapped out for electric versions that will be more affordable to run long-term, with a much lighter environmental impact.

“Bolton Valley, as well as a lot of other ski areas, are trying to do what we can, do our part, to reduce emissions and be more green,” Arneson said.

Over the past several years, many of Vermont’s resorts have been switching to low-energy snowmaking guns.

At Mount Snow, which opens for the season earlier than ever this Saturday, its entire fleet of guns is now low-energy, operating on as little as a hundredth of the compressed air the old models needed.

“We’re able to pretty much double our water capacity and only increase our energy consumption by 10 percent,” said Kevin Harrington, the director of on-mountain operations for Mount Snow.

“Our engineers tell us the snowmaking efficiency in Vermont is the best in the country,” said Rebecca Foster, the director of Efficiency Vermont, the statewide utility working to promote energy savings.

For several years now, Efficiency Vermont has been encouraging the state’s ski areas to pursue green upgrades.

Foster said new guns like Mount Snow’s can run for just ten cents an hour, compared to ten dollars an hour for the retired versions.

All told, she estimated going green has helped Vermont resorts save $9-million a year in snowmaking costs and slash 80-million pounds of carbon emissions.

“Ski areas–it’s important that they remain viable and vibrant because they do support so many other businesses and are a big part of the economic development picture in different parts of the state,” Foster said.

Foster predicted the next frontier for resorts will be to make improvements to dining and lodging areas, finding new ways to operate smarter that benefit both their bottom line and the planet.

<![CDATA[Here's How Much Snow Has Fallen in Northern New England]]>Wed, 24 Oct 2018 10:04:17 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/160*120/DqRUGf2VYAAvzd3.jpg

Oh, the weather outside is frightful for parts of northern New England -- and it's not even Halloween.

A storm system is bringing snow across Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, with Mount Washington in Coos County, New Hampshire getting 15 inches of snow so far.

Here are some other snow totals around the region:


Randolph - 11 inches

Milan - 3 inches


Rangeley - 5 inches

Gilead - 2 inches

Miford - 0.5 inches

Stay with us as this story is updated.

Photo Credit: Twitter: @ajfroggie]]>
<![CDATA[Man Denies Charges in Shooting That Injured Innocent Woman]]>Tue, 23 Oct 2018 18:58:16 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/211*120/Vermont+shooting+suspect.JPG

A Vermont man appeared in a Burlington courtroom Tuesday to face charges related to a shooting in late February that badly injured an innocent woman and divided the county’s head prosecutor and the city’s mayor and police chief.

The attorney for Rashad Nashid, 37, entered not guilty pleas on five charges, including allegations of reckless endangerment and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Earlier this year, police labeled Nashid as the suspect seen in surveillance video shooting toward a crowd outside a busy bar on Main Street after 2 a.m.

Police said one bullet traveled through the body of an innocent bystander, who survived. Another bullet flew into a nearby apartment.

“Whenever you have a mixture of tempers, alcohol, and firearms on a crowded city street, it is a recipe for someone getting hurt or killed,” observed Justin Jiron, Chittenden County’s chief deputy state’s attorney. “Yeah—a very dangerous situation.”

Investigators said those shots were the explosive end of a feud between Nashid and another man, Carl Martin, over how Martin’s brother treated a woman.

In the video, prosecutors and police said Martin can be seen punching Nashid then raising what appears to be his own gun, before Nashid runs away and fires.

Nashid was ordered held on $10,000 bail on the new state charges, but was previously being held in federal custody in northern New York on a different firearm charge.

Recently, Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George announced her office would not criminally charge Martin—a decision that drew rare public criticism from city leaders.

“We believe that Carl Martin probably would have offered a self-defense claim, but when his actions contributed to the shooting of an innocent person, we think that claim should be tested in a court of law,” Chief Brandon del Pozo of the Burlington Police Department said in an interview with necn affiliate NBC 5 News last month. “We think Vermonters deserve that.”

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger agreed with del Pozo in a tweet last month, which read, “A night of gun violence in downtown [Burlington] like this should be judged by Vermonters in a court of law. A free pass sends the wrong message.”

However, Jiron and George stand by the decision to charge only Nashid.

Jiron explained Tuesday he’ll need Martin to testify against the alleged shooter, and told necn the office’s legal analysis determined Martin’s punch and flashing the gun would be considered self-defense.

In a letter to police explaining her decision to not pursue criminal charges against Martin, State’s Attorney George said there was no doubt in her mind that Martin was acting irresponsibly and dangerously the night in question. Still, George said in the letter that Martin’s actions amounted to self-defense and defense of his brother.

“In that theory, it would be inappropriate to charge [Martin],” Jiron added Tuesday.

After entering the not guilty pleas to the new state charges, Nashid’s attorney, Bob Katims, said he plans to file a request to dismiss the charges, hinting he, too, plans to argue self-defense.

As for the injured bystander, Jiron said it is his understanding that she is recovering well.

<![CDATA[Vt. Shelter Expands Services as Brutal Cold Approaches]]>Mon, 22 Oct 2018 17:24:44 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Vt._Homeless_Shelter_Expands_Services_in_Cold_Weather.jpg

Heading into the coldest months, a federally-qualified health center in Vermont is now expanding its services to the homeless, hoping the new initiative will boost public health.

“I think it’s not enough,” Erin Ahern of the Community Health Centers of Burlington said of Burlington’s capacity to shelter the homeless.

Ahern said CHCB operates the city’s only low-barrier shelter, meaning any adult regardless of sobriety or mental health struggles can come to the facility located in the lower level of 179 South Winooski Avenue.

According to Ahern, the shelter provided more than 6,300 individual shelter bed nights last winter alone, which was above the center’s stated capacity.

The CHCB and community partners announced Monday that the low-barrier shelter’s season, which starts November 1, will expand.

While it used to close in chilly April, $60,000 in new money from the city of Burlington will keep the space open an additional two months, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, a Democrat, said.

“It was definitely a concern to many of us that we were closing down in mid-April,” the mayor said Monday. “I think there was snow on the ground, still, when we were closing down.”

The low-barrier shelter’s expansion follows brutal cold last winter, which saw 16 days below zero in the Burlington area, and a particularly painful 7-day subzero stretch.

Less than an hour south of Burlington, a 45-year-old man named Suad Teocanin was found dead on the Middlebury village green in January, not far from a different shelter where he was staying. Teocanin had been drinking, police said at the time.

“Of course it’s frightening,” Rich, a formerly homeless man who asked necn not to publish his last name, said of the severe cold Vermont often sees at night.

Rich said he is now staying with family, but spent a few winters on the streets of Burlington—maybe huddling in an ATM vestibule at night, if he could.

“You basically sleep in the fetal position,” Rich recalled. “You have a couple blankets over you and you get warm, but you’re not moving and then you open an air pocket and it’s cold as hell.”

CHCB said Vermont’s Department for Children and Families also provides roughly $300,000 in funding for the low-barrier shelter. DCF refers to the money as an investment, and described it Monday as a smarter use of taxpayer dollars than handing out motel vouchers for severe weather nights.

Geoffrey Pippenger of DCF said in addition to the state saving money on vouchers, he also likes that shelter guests get better services than they would at a motel, including a donated meal, and info on medical care, addiction treatment, and housing programs.

“We’re connecting them to the resources and supports that can help,” Pippenger told reporters.

The facility said it’ll use data from its new operating calendar—specifically, numbers from mid-April to mid-June—to better tailor services in the future.

<![CDATA[VT Man Caught Stealing Money From Prayer House Donation Box]]>Sat, 20 Oct 2018 14:01:45 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/vt+man+stealing+from+prayer+house+DONE.jpg

Police have arrested one man and are looking for another suspect after a theft at a prayer house in Vermont.

According to state police, they responded to Our Lady of Ephesus Prayer House in Jamaica on Thursday for a report of a past theft.

An investigation showed that two people had entered the prayer house on Oct. 10, broken a locked donation box and stolen an unknown amount of money, police said.

The incident was recorded on camera.

State police were able to identify one suspect as Timothy J. Slade, 27, of Londonderry, Vermont.

According to police, he was located on Friday and arrested for petit larceny, unlawful mischief and possession of burglary tools.

Slade was processed at the Winhall Police Department and later released with a citation to appear in Vermont Superior Court Windham Criminal Division on Dec. 4 at 8 a.m.

Police are still trying to identify the second suspect.

Photo Credit: Vermont State Police]]>
<![CDATA[Sex Survey Handed to 5th Grade Students in VT]]>Fri, 19 Oct 2018 07:55:08 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/generic+classroom.JPG

A Vermont school district has cut ties with a group that administered a survey for fifth graders that included questions about students' gender identity and sexual histories.

The Valley News reports the Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union also apologized for the survey and pledged to work with parents before conducting any additional research or violence prevention classes at the elementary school.

A notice was sent to parents allowing them to opt their children out of the survey, but not all parents received it.

The survey, which was provided by the University of New Hampshire, was conducted by WISE, a nonprofit domestic violence prevention and advocacy group.

WISE, based in Lebanon, New Hampshire, says it regrets not better engaging parents ahead of the survey and it will work to redesign its evaluation.

Photo Credit: NBC]]>