<![CDATA[NECN - ]]>Copyright 2018https://www.necn.com/feature/vermonthttp://media.necn.com/designimages/clear.gifNECNhttps://www.necn.comen-usFri, 19 Jan 2018 02:56:12 -0500Fri, 19 Jan 2018 02:56:12 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations<![CDATA[Vt. Police Department to March at AFC Championship Game]]>Thu, 18 Jan 2018 18:26:14 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/VT_Police_Department_to_March_at_AFC_Championship_Game.jpg

A small Vermont police department has a big responsibility this weekend, ahead of the AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

The Windsor Police Department’s honor guard was selected to appear on the field before kickoff, presenting the flag for the national anthem, alongside members of law enforcement from the other five New England states.

“Vermont is a piece of the New England family, and if somebody weren’t there from Vermont to represent the state, they’d be missing a little bit of Patriots nation,” said Officer Jered Condon of the Windsor Police Department, who is a member of the force’s honor guard.

The department has done the job before, representing Vermont at Gillette before two previous championship matchups.

“It’s an honor and it’s a privilege,” said Chief Bill Sampson of the Windsor Police Department.

The responsibility is particularly meaningful to Sampson, who is a lifelong Pats fan originally from Worcester, Massachusetts.

“This is the biggest home game they’re going to have, and there’s no better time to be there,” Sampson said.

Sampson noted that the Patriots won both previous championship games the honor guard attended, so he thinks the Windsor officers may be something of a good luck charm.

<![CDATA[University of Vermont Investigates Anti-Immigration Fliers]]>Thu, 18 Jan 2018 18:01:26 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/University+of+Vermont.jpg

The University of Vermont is investigating anti-immigration fliers found on the campus on Martin Luther King Day.

The Burlington Free Press reports university officials called the fliers "abhorrent" in a letter Tuesday. Administrators say the fliers, which were discovered Monday, displayed racist, anti-immigration language.

According to a university statement, police are investigating the fliers.

Photo Credit: University of Vermont/Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Man’s Death Spotlights Winter Struggles of Homeless]]>Wed, 17 Jan 2018 19:35:43 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/216*120/Suad+Teocanin.JPG

A man’s death outdoors in cold temperatures is spotlighting the challenges facing Vermont’s homeless population in the winter.

Police in Middlebury said 45-year-old Suad Teocanin was found dead on the village green Saturday. He was not far from the shelter where he was staying, and had been drinking before he died, which investigators said appeared to play a significant role in the death.

Middlebury police said the death did not appear suspicious.

The restaurant where Teocanin worked, Two Brothers Tavern, said he had a big heart and brought joy to many. The eatery is working on arranging a celebration of Teocanin’s life, according to its Facebook page.

“It’s always a tragedy when someone freezes to death outside like that,” said Mark Redmond of Spectrum Youth & Family Services, who did not know Teocanin but heard of the case through Vermont media reports. “Especially if they were homeless and on their way to a shelter.”

Spectrum is one of several Burlington-area human services providers that said Wednesday demand for shelter space has exceeded capacity this winter. Spectrum’s overnight shelter at the St. Joseph Co-Cathedral is open to youth ages 18-26 and was funded largely by private foundations and donors.

“I have no doubt that we are running at about six extra beds regularly, at least in part due to the cold,” said Erin Ahern, the homeless healthcare director for the Community Health Centers of Burlington, which also operates a winter shelter. “And there’s knocking at the door, and people saying ‘I tried to stay out and it’s too cold.’”

This season has already seen temperatures in Burlington plunge below zero 13 days, including that particularly brutal seven-day subzero stretch.

“It sucks, man,” said Reuben Bowen, who is homeless in Burlington. “I’ve feared for my life on these frigid nights. I don’t want to see nobody die out here.”

Things are getting better, Jan Demers, the executive director of the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity.

Demers said recent surveys have shown sharp drops in chronic homelessness, family homelessness, and in numbers of homeless people with severe mental illnesses or substance use disorders.

Advocates said those declines have been achieved through new shelters and housing options, some of which are linked to health care support.

Despite the progress so far, those on the front lines of combatting homelessness and housing insecurity say there’s still a long way to go.

<![CDATA[Police: Man Shot Dead Behind School Was Armed With BB Gun]]>Wed, 17 Jan 2018 18:05:00 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000011981862.JPG

Vermont State Police said Wednesday the man shot and killed by members of law enforcement Tuesday was holding a BB pistol.

Nathan Giffin, 32, of Essex, was shot and killed by police on the athletic fields behind Montpelier High School Tuesday morning.

The head of the major crimes unit of the Vermont State Police said Tuesday night that Giffin was a convicted bank robber who was also facing pending burglary charges.

Giffin allegedly held up the Vermont State Employees Credit Union across the street from the school, then ran onto school property and made threats to officers with the weapon he was holding.

Montpelier High School was placed into lockdown during the standoff to protect students, staff, and teachers inside.

Wednesday, investigators revealed Giffin was actually holding a BB pistol during the standoff, with a realistic design that made it look like a more powerful firearm.

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Eight troopers with the Vermont State Police have been placed on leave, along with one officer from the Montpelier Police Department, after they fired their service weapons at Giffin.

That fatal shooting will be investigated by the offices of Washington County State’s Attorney Rory Thibault and Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan, to determine if the officers’ use of deadly force was legally justifiable.

An autopsy on Giffin is still pending. It will determine how many times Giffin was struck by police bullets, and where on his body.

The Vermont State Police personnel now on leave following the shooting were identified as Sgt. Cory Lozier, Sgt. Lyle Decker, Sgt. Eugene Duplissis, Sgt. Charles Winn, Sgt. David White, Trooper Christopher Brown, Trooper Brandon Degre, and Trooper Isaac Merriam.

The Montpelier Police Dept. officer placed on leave was identified as Cpl. Michael Philbrick. 

Photo Credit: necn
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<![CDATA[Police Shoot and Kill Robbery Suspect Behind Vt. High School]]>Tue, 16 Jan 2018 21:36:21 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/160*120/Montpelier+High+School+standoff+Vermont+MyNBC5.jpg

A robbery suspect was shot and killed by police Tuesday following a standoff outside a public school in Montpelier, Vermont, which had been placed in lockdown mode.

The suspect, who was later identified as 32-year-old Nathan Giffin, of Essex, was holding what appeared to be a handgun on the athletic complex behind Montpelier High School.

Earlier, Giffin allegedly held up the Vermont State Employees Credit Union across the street, then ran toward the school's football field.

That sparked what Brian Ricca, Montpelier's school superintendent, termed a "lockdown and lockout" - a security stance, to protect students, teachers and others inside.

"Since the suspect was contained entirely outside the building, the safest place for our students, faculty and staff was inside the building," Ricca noted.

After a standoff with officers, a hail of gunfire could be heard as police shot and killed Giffin.

"The suspect is deceased," Montpelier Police Chief Anthony Facos announced midday.

A preliminary investigation indicates that a total of nine officers discharged their firearms in the shooting, eight of whom were Vermont State Troopers and one Montpelier police officer. 

The names of those officers are not being released at this time, and all nine have been placed on paid administrative leave in accordance with Vermont State Police policy.

No law enforcement officers were injured during this incident, according to Vermont State Police. 

Giffin's body was taken to chief medical examiner in Burlington for an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death.

Investigators from several area agencies remained at the school throughout the afternoon as the examination of the fatal officer-involved shooting got underway.

"A lot of people were really distressed about it," said Avery Hadick, a Montpelier High School freshman. "It was a threat right outside, and nobody had really experienced something like that before. The teachers did a good job trying to keep everyone calm."

"Everything was handled pretty good," said Nina Aziz, a Montpelier High School senior who arrived at the school during the lockdown, and had to return after it was over to get her homework assignments.

Aziz said she heard from classmates how the lockdown went, and said her friends felt well-supported during it.

"The teachers were really good about it," she said. "Instructions were given, and people followed them."

Ricca told necn that school will start at the normal time Wednesday. Extra mental health counselors will be on-hand, in case anyone wants to speak with them, the superintendent added.

No one inside the school was harmed during the lockdown, the district said. No staff members at the credit union were injured during the robbery, either, spokeswoman Rachel Feldman said.

Photo Credit: MyNBC5/WPTZ]]>
<![CDATA[Ice Jam Flooding Wreaks Havoc in Vermont]]>Mon, 15 Jan 2018 18:53:54 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Vt+011518.JPG

Several dozen homeowners are bracing for losses after a major river flooded in northwestern Vermont.

"We came to get what's meant the most to her," said Shannon Davenport of St. Albans, who was helping her daughter collect belongings from her flooded home in Swanton.

Davenport trekked down a closed road and over an ice-covered yard to get to where her daughter lives, confronting thick ice from floodwaters in the garage.

"Everyone's safe and they're in good hands," Davenport said of her daughter and grandchild. "She plans on going back to work tomorrow and picking up the pieces."

The dangerous combo of last week's rapid snow melt, followed by heavy rain and a six-mile ice jam on the Missisquoi River, sent water gushing onto a stretch of Route 78 near the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge.

Now that temperatures plunged back down into the deep freeze, those floodwaters have become ice. Cars are encased. A boat and its trailer were pushed toward the road. And the frozen high-water mark was still visible on trees.

Public safety officials evacuated two dozen homes over the weekend, according to Swanton Village Manager Reg Beliveau. That included 35 people and six dogs. Foundry Street and North and South River Lane were placed on voluntary evacuations.

Additional homes on Monument Road in nearby Highgate were also evacuated, according to Swanton officials.

"It put some folks in serious jeopardy here," said Dave Blackmore, the regional administrator for the Vermont Agency of Transportation, who was overseeing flooding cleanup of Route 78 and assessing the road condition Monday.

Village of Swanton officials asked people who were displaced from their homes to not return without checking with village leaders, so they can receive important safety information.

"I've never seen it like this," said Mike Rich, who lives on Route 78 in Swanton, and whose property and vehicles were affected by floodwaters.

Rich was strongly urged to leave his home with his neighbors, but took a risk—choosing to stay.

"I wanted to get as much out of my basement as possible — I wanted to save what I could," Rich told necn.

Monday, he watched Vermont's Transportation Agency pushing chunks of solid ice off Route 78, aiming to make it safe to drive on before it could be reopened to traffic.

"Throughout the last 24 to 48 hours, our team of VTrans folks have been out there battling the elements," Blackmore said. "It's getting better."

The good news from regional officials is the water is receding. However, with ice still jamming the Missisquoi, changing weather conditions mean the risk for flooding could return.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[PD: Man Found Dead in Snowbank Was Shot in Head, Chest]]>Mon, 08 Jan 2018 16:25:47 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000011741629.JPG

Vermont State Police are treating the death of a man found in a snowbank over the weekend as a homicide, saying preliminary autopsy results showed he was shot multiple times in the head and chest.

The body of 49-year-old Danville resident Greg Davis was found partially covered in snow by a passing driver on Peacham Road near the Barnet and Ryegate town line Sunday afternoon.

An autopsy was performed on Davis’ body Monday morning by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. 

Police say a preliminary investigation showed the incident was not random.

No suspects have been named in the case.

The case remains under investigation by VSP Major Crime Unit, the Caledonia County State’s Attorney, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshal Service and U.S. Attorney’s Office.

State police say anyone who has information or saw suspicious activity in the area over the weekend is asked to contact them at 802-748-3111.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Road to the Winter Olympics: Meet Ty Walker]]>Sat, 06 Jan 2018 10:47:21 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Hoping_for__Big_Air__in_Pyeongchang.jpg

A snowboarder from Stowe, Vermont, hopes to secure a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, which would mark her second time on the Olympic stage.

Ty Walker, 20, has been a standout in slopestyle, which requires athletes to perform spins, flips, and other moves.

Walker has competed both on the World Cup circuit and on the United States' inaugural slopestyle team at the Winter Olympics in Sochi four years ago, when she was just 16.

"It's exciting to be part of the first-ever team for something," Walker said.

She is now hoping to return to the Pyeongchang Games.

NBC Boston was with her for a laidback ride in late December in her hometown, at Vermont's Stowe Mountain Resort.

"I love it up here," she said of the resort's trails. "Whenever I'm home, this is home."

After a pair of qualifying competitions out west this month, the sophomore pre-med student at Brown University in Rhode Island will learn if she'll represent New England at the upcoming Winter Games in South Korea.

"We find out about the Olympic team on Jan. 21," Walker said. "And the semester starts on Jan. 24. So if I don't make the team, I'm on the first flight to Providence. And if I do make the team, I have a couple of professors who have agreed to work with me, and I'll go to the Olympics and come back and start the semester a few weeks late."

In addition to slopestyle, Walker hopes to compete in a new Olympic snowboard event in Pyeongchang called "big air." Athletes will take off from a giant launch ramp that lets them fly higher and farther, allowing for more complicated tricks. They'll be judged on height, difficulty, style and the quality of their landings.

"Walking into the Opening Ceremonies is one of the most amazing things I'll ever do," Walker said, recalling the 2014 games.

She said 2016 was tough because of injuries, but said that she's back and optimistic she can achieve at the top levels in her sport — as she did when she won the big air World Cup in Turkey in 2015.

"It would mean a lot for me to prove that I can still go again," Walker said.

Walker is eager to ride from the Green Mountains, all the way to possible Olympic gold.

<![CDATA[Susan Dunklee Wants 'Underdogs' to Thrive in Pyeongchang]]>Wed, 03 Jan 2018 13:19:30 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-167325738.jpg

Olympic biathlete and Vermont native Susan Dunklee talks about her goals for the Olympics and what she is looking forward to this year.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Man Due in Court After Officer-Involved Shooting]]>Wed, 03 Jan 2018 09:55:36 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Jack+LaPlant.jpg

A Vermont man is being held without bail while state police investigate an officer-involved shooting in St. Albans Tuesday night.

Police said they responded to a report of a man dressed in black and carrying an assault rifle at about 6 p.m. at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Rugg Street.

When officers arrived, the suspect, Jack Laplant, 26, had a brief interaction with them and fired shots.

While police were trying to gain control of the situation, two police officers returned fire.

Laplant was wounded and was later transported to the Northwestern Medical Center for a non-life threatening, single gunshot wound to the abdomen.

He was later released from the hospital and taken into custody by Vermont State Police.

No officers were injured.

Police said Laplant was charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and a violation of an abuse prevention order. Laplant was scheduled to be arraigned at the Franklin County Superior Court, Criminal Division, on Wednesday.

The names of the officers involved in the shooting were not immediately released by officials.

<![CDATA['It's Going to Be Brutal': Extreme Cold Grips Vermont]]>Wed, 27 Dec 2017 17:02:03 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000011435570.JPG

Biting low temperatures are challenging even regions of New England that are used to winter extremes.

"I’m trying to be brave," said Jenna MacQueston of Arlington, Massachusetts, who was in Burlington, Vermont, for a short getaway Wednesday, drinking coffee to stay warm and leaving as little skin as possible exposed.

MacQueston was walking along Lake Champlain, which had a cloud of water vapor hanging over it, which formed when very cold air moved over the comparatively warmer lake.

This is just the start of a stretch of extreme cold for the Burlington area, which will see temperatures in the single digits or even negative territory through the weekend, according to forecasters.

"It’s going to be brutal," said Will Towne of Spectrum Youth & Family Services.

Spectrum, a non-profit, just partnered with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington to open a new warming shelter inside the parish hall of St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral.

The 10-bed shelter will give people in their teens and early 20s a place to spend the night when the temperatures become dangerous. The shelter will be open for the next few months.

"With the weather turning, we’ve definitely seen an uptick in the number of youth that have needed a place to go," Towne said.

"It’s more than just keeping them warm, it’s also talking to them, feeding them, listening to their concerns, and enjoying time with them," said Rev. Lance Harlow, the rector of St. Joseph’s.

The intense cold is also sure to impact New Year’s Eve celebrations.

First Night Burlington is now trying to reassure people that if they have a button for the indoor entertainment at nearly 20 venues in the downtown district, it’s only a short walk outside between acts.

"One of the great things about being here is you don’t let the cold keep you inside," said Zach Williamson, the artistic director of First Night Burlington. "It’d be a really long winter if we didn’t do anything when it’s cold out."

The Vermont Department of Health and Vermont Department of Public Safety issued the following list of tips Wednesday to help people make it through the stretch of dangerous cold:

• Be a good neighbor: Check on older or disabled relatives, friends and neighbors to make sure they are keeping warm safely and have sufficient food and water.

• Make sure your car is properly winterized: Keep the gas tank at least half-full. Carry a Winter Emergency Car Kit in the trunk including blankets, extra clothing, flashlight with spare batteries, a can and waterproof matches (to melt snow for drinking water), non-perishable foods, windshields scraper, shovel, sand, towrope and jumper cables.

• Limit time outdoors: Minimize outside activities, particularly the elderly and very young.

• Consider your pets and limit their time outdoors

• Dress warmly and stay dry: Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, rather than a single layer of heavy clothing. Wear a hat, mittens, and sturdy waterproof boots, protecting your extremities. Keep babies and older adults dry and in warm rooms.

• Eat and drink healthy: Well-balanced meals help you stay warmer. Drink warm fluids to maintain a healthy temperature. Alcohol and caffeinated beverages cause you to lose heat more rapidly.

• Avoid hypothermia and frostbite: Symptoms of frostbite include a loss of feeling and a pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. Hypothermia signs include shivering, exhaustion, slurred speech and in infants, bright red, cold skin. If symptoms are detected, seek medical help immediately and get to a warm place. Slowly warm the affected areas as you await medical assistance.

• Have sufficient home heating "fuel:" Check your heating supply, whether it’s oil, propane, wood, wood chips, etc. If you need information on heating assistance you can dial 2-1-1.

• Heat safely: If you lose your primary heat source, use only safe alternate sources like a fireplace, wood stove or space heater and ensure they are ventilating properly.

• Ventilate to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning: If you use a generator, ensure it is used outside, away from open windows, doors or air intakes. Exhaust from a generator or heating source can cause a buildup of Carbon Monoxide (CO) in the home. Carbon monoxide is a deadly, colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. CO poisoning can mimic flu-like symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea and fatigue. Higher levels of exposure result in disorientation, drowsiness, unconsciousness and death. If you experience these symptoms leave the home and contact help. Test smoke alarms and Carbon Monoxide detectors.

• Ensure all heating vents are clear of snow or other obstructions: Blowing snow can block heating vents. Blocked vents can lead to CO buildup on the home.

• Be prepared: Have a well-stocked Winter Home Emergency Supply Kit that includes flashlights, portable radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, bottled water and non-perishable food.

Those who need heating fuel assistance, housing, or other needs can contact Vermont 211 (http://www.vermont211.org) by phone by simply dialing 211 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week), or by texting your zip code to 898211 to reach a call specialist (8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Monday-Friday). 

<![CDATA[Vt. Ski Resorts Cheer Snowfall While Bracing for Cold]]>Tue, 26 Dec 2017 16:51:24 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000011406097.JPG

Destinations for skiing and snowboarding across Vermont are calling the start to the 2017-2018 season one of the best in recent memory. After a white Christmas, some saw even more snow Tuesday.

"We’re really taking advantage of this so far," said skier Kyle Bake of Medford, Massachusetts, who was skiing at Vermont’s Sugarbush Resort with friends from the Boston area. 

"It’s definitely a great start," added Matt Boucher of Belmont, Massachusetts. "There’s not a lot of Decembers where there’s this much snow." 

After plenty of natural snow, plus favorable conditions for snowmaking, Sugarbush said it already has its full trail count open. 

"It is unusual," observed Win Smith, the president of Sugarbush. "Every winter’s different, but to be 100 percent with the conditions we have is really spectacular." 

However, dangerously low temperatures are rolling in during the important Christmas vacation week. 

Those temperatures are forecasted to be in the single digits or even negative territory across Vermont: the kind of cold that could keep some skiers and riders at home. 

"That’s a challenge, but you know, people say there’s never a bad day of skiing, just bad equipment," Smith said. 

Smith advised wearing added layers of high-tech materials and going inside to the lodge between runs, and to remain vigilant for signs of frostbite. 

"You’ve just got to layer up," Boucher said of equipping oneself to ski or ride in extreme cold. "[Use] hand and feet warmers, [take] frequent breaks." 

Boucher was wearing goggles and a mask that made sure none of his face or neck was exposed to the air Tuesday. 

"I was born and raised in the center of Canada, so this is still a little warmer than I’m used to, so it’s all right," Bake said, noting he will not be kept indoors, even when Vermont plunges into the deep freeze. 

In what is one measure of how much stronger of a start this season is than last year, Sugarbush said it has 25 percent more trails open today than it did one year ago. 

<![CDATA[Faithful Start Christmas Day with Worship]]>Mon, 25 Dec 2017 20:35:30 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000011384390.JPG

Christmas services drew the faithful to church Monday morning in Vermont’s largest city.

Bishop Christopher Coyne of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington presided over mass at the St. Joseph Co-Cathedral.Coyne said the message of hope and encouragement that comes at Christmas from celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ is one many people need right now.

“I think people really need to hear the good news, because as a state, we’re facing a lot of problems—especially the opioid epidemic,” Coyne told necn. “Also, the fact that many people are struggling to make ends meet or finding it difficult to have good employment, to know that the church is here and continuing to reach out to them to help them—but also to know that God is with them even when it seems the lowest in their lives—is something we all need to hear.”

The weather might have caused some people to change their church-going plans, theorized Father Lance Harlow, the rector of St. Joseph.

Harlow said there were more than 600 people at mass Sunday afternoon for a Christmas Eve service at the cathedral. He suggested that if it weren’t for the fresh snow forecasted to arrive overnight and into Monday morning for the Burlington area, some of those parishioners would have likely been at Christmas morning services instead of, or in addition to, the Christmas Eve worship.

<![CDATA[Dramatic Ropes Rescue After VT Woman Slips Down Embankment]]>Mon, 25 Dec 2017 18:28:30 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/VT+Rescue.jpg

A dramatic Christmas Day rescue unfolded after a Vermont woman slipped down a steep embankment and suffered non-life-threatening injuries. 

Nicole Stowell of Colchester was very cold, but safe, after rescue personnel lifted her out of a ravine. 

First responders said Stowell, who is in her late 20s, reported she slipped, then slid and rolled down a steep embankment, estimated to have been a 150 or 200 foot-long tumble. 

She ended up near the edge of the frigid Winooski River, with left leg injuries, including an ankle injury, said Dave Auriemma of Colchester Technical Rescue. 

Stowell was transported to the hospital but is expected to make a full recovery. 

“It’s been the worst Christmas I’ve probably ever had,” said Travis Carl, Stowell’s husband. 

Carl said before his wife fell, she had been out searching for their English Mastiff, Thor, who’s been missing since Saturday night, when he ran away from a car that hit him on Route 15 near St. Michael’s College. 

“I miss my dog, but as long as my wife’s okay, that’s all I really care about,” Carl said. 

To get Stowell out of that precarious spot, Colchester Technical Rescue, St. Mike’s Rescue, and the Colchester Center Fire Department set up ropes and a pulley system. The team gradually hoisted the patient, who had been placed in a large basket, closer and closer to the top of that severe hillside.

“There was no way she was going to walk out of there,” Auriemma said, describing both Stowell’s injury and the icy and snow-covered embankment.

The delicate work of rescues from dangerous conditions is the specialty of Colchester Technical Rescue.

“Whether it be Christmas, Easter, or just a typical Monday, the job’s still got to get done—and that’s what we’re here for,” said Auriemma, a technical rescue squad member who is also a firefighter EMT with the Williston Fire Department.

Scene commanders said the unsung heroes in cases like this are the family members who were willing to say goodbye to police, fire, and rescue personnel on Christmas morning, knowing how important it is that they serve their communities every day of the year.

<![CDATA[Vermont Fire Trucks Get Stuck on Icy Hill]]>Sun, 24 Dec 2017 09:58:41 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/VT+Firetruck.jpg

Public safety officials across Vermont encouraged people to avoid unnecessary travel Saturday night because of icy conditions.

One example of how bad the roads were could be found in the city of Winooski.

A pair of fire trucks got stuck heading up a hill when returning from a call.

Ice had formed on Union Street, then, snow fell on top of it, making it just too hard for one fire truck from St. Michael’s Fire & Rescue and another from the Winooski Fire Department to get up the hill.

St. Mike’s had chains on their tires and eventually made it, after considerable struggles in the tricky weather conditions.

The Winooski Fire Department temporarily shut down Union Street. The public works department plowed and salted the street so the second truck could get moving.

“In my personal experience, this is the first time I’ve been stuck while responding to a call,” said Winooski Fire Department Captain Michael Antoniak. “We’ve had multiple calls—going from one to another.”

Neighboring communities helped out with calls while those trucks were stuck, Antoniak said.

In nearby South Burlington, the police department warned people to use extreme caution while driving, and only leave home if absolutely necessary.

<![CDATA[Vehicle Collides With School Bus in Vermont]]>Fri, 22 Dec 2017 19:48:03 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/School+Bus-Generic-1020.jpg

A vehicle collided with a school bus which was carrying 34 students in Hyde Park, Vermont, on Friday afternoon, according to officials.

Allysha M. Taylor, of Johnson, was traveling eastbound on Route 15 when she collided with the rear end of a vehicle, the Lamoille County Sheriff's Department says. However, while trying to avoid the collision, Taylor crossed into the westbound lane and was then struck by the school bus.

Out of the 34 students, nine were evaluated by local EMS and Morristown Rescue for minor injuries. No students needed to be taken to the hospital.

The drivers involved in the accident were not injured.

Photo Credit: FILE]]>
<![CDATA[Pre-Holiday Storm Snarls Vt. Traffic, Boosts Ski Areas]]>Sat, 23 Dec 2017 04:27:38 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/WEB_Jack_Vt_Snow_4pm.jpg

With road conditions poor from a pre-holiday weekend winter storm, Vermont State Police asked drivers to avoid unnecessary travel and take steps to ensure their safety.

Those included thoroughly cleaning snow and ice from vehicles, keeping speeds down, and leaving extra room between you and the vehicle in front of you.

“It’s hard to keep up when it’s coming down like this,” said George Gonyo, a plow truck operator for the Vermont Agency of Transportation who was working Friday to keep Interstate 89 passable for the holiday weekend travelers. “And there’s so much traffic on the road right now, that just slows us down.”

There were slide-offs up and down the interstate. Rich Kelley of the Vermont State Police said the agency responded to 120 traffic incidents by 3 p.m. Friday.

The conditions were so bad by midday that police even asked people to delay their drives, if possible.

In Winooski, an SUV just couldn’t come to a stop coming down a hill, rear-ending a school bus that was pausing at train tracks. No kids were on board and the drivers were ok, an officer on-scene said.

“We are in winter—traffic volumes are up, people are celebrating the holidays, and everybody should just be very careful on the roadway,” said Joe Flynn, the secretary of the Vermont Agency of Transportation.

Milk hauler Steve Desautels had to bring a shipment from Vermont dairy farms to a processing plant in Franklin, Massachusetts. He stopped at a rest area in Williston on the trip south.

“Be safe, drive slow,” Desautels urged other drivers. “Take your time, that’s all I can say. Make sure you’ve got good tires.”

While it was high-stress on the roads, high in the mountains, Vermont skiing and snowboarding areas were celebrating a gift from Mother Nature before the all-important Christmas vacation week.

An necn viewer who was off-trail skiing at the Stowe Mountain Resort sent the news station video of a friend enjoying all the fresh powder–hopeful the conditions stay favorable for the season to come.

Another necn viewer sent video from Smugglers’ Notch Resort, where she said guests were enjoying the wintry pre-Christmas scene.

The city of Winooski announced an overnight parking ban for snow cleanup Friday night, and one will be in place Saturday night in the city of Burlington.

<![CDATA[Poisoning Suspect Pleads Not Guilty to Possessing Ricin]]>Fri, 22 Dec 2017 17:10:42 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/160*128/Betty+Miller+Sketch.jpg

The Vermont woman accused of trying to poison her neighbors with a homemade toxin pleaded not guilty to a federal charge against her. 

Betty Miller, 70, entered the not guilty plea Friday to a charge of knowing possession of an unregistered biological agent. 

A grand jury recently indicted Miller, NBC 5 News reported. 

The FBI said last month that Miller manufactured ricin, a potentially deadly toxin, using castor beans and directions she obtained from the internet. 

Miller allegedly made the poison inside her kitchen inside the upscale Wake Robin retirement community in Shelburne. Investigators said she wanted to harm herself, but first wanted to see how the ricin would affect others. 

Medical tests revealed one Wake Robin resident who reported a mild illness had trace levels of a material in her system that indicated she might have been poisoned by ricin. The positive test results could have originated with another source—such as castor oil—but because of the alleged plot, law enforcement does suspect the person was poisoned. 

At a detention hearing earlier this month, the proceedings revealed Miller has a history of psychiatric hospitalizations and suicide attempts. 

Miller’s attorney told NBC 5 News Friday that she is currently being jailed in South Burlington. 

In early December, defense attorney Paul Volk told Magistrate Judge John Conroy that he was working to find a mental health facility that was appropriate for Miller, given the allegations against her. 

Wake Robin has said Miller is no longer welcome on its campus, which the retirement community said has received safety assurances from federal and state health experts. 

Photo Credit: Barbara Carter]]>
<![CDATA[Vermont Police Officer, Military Veteran Remembered]]>Fri, 22 Dec 2017 13:47:37 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000011351066.JPG

Law enforcement agencies from across Vermont gathered Friday morning to pay tribute to a longtime police officer who lost his battle with cancer.

Cruisers processed through the city of Winooski, then lined up with their lights flashing outside the funeral in Colchester for Lt. Mike Cram.

The law enforcement agencies joined friends and relatives in celebrating Cram’s life. He died last weekend at age 48, after a difficult cancer fight.

The services started at 9:19 a.m., matching the officer’s badge number.

Cram served the Winooski Police Department for 12 years, and before that, was an officer in the towns of Milton and Williston, and a sheriff’s deputy in Chittenden County.

Cram was also a veteran of the Vermont National Guard, serving for 30 years, including missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cram was awarded medals of valor and a Purple Heart for a tour in Afghanistan, when his military vehicle took heavy fire.

Despite Cram being wounded in the attack, his commander, Larry Doane, recently wrote on Facebook that Cram managed to help organize his platoon, render aid to injured troops, and take other critical steps to ensure the safety of his fellow soldiers.

"It was one of the worst ambushes I’ve seen," Doane wrote on Facebook last month. "Without Mike’s heroism, those brave Americans in his platoon would be remembered on memorial walls and not sitting around Thanksgiving dinner with their families."

Lt. Mike Arcovitch of the Vermont National Guard was a longtime family friend, and said earlier this week that he considered Cram like an uncle to him.

"I'm just so proud to have known him," Arcovitch said of Cram. "And obviously the loss is just pretty tough for a lot of folks."

Lt. Cram was a big supporter of Camp Ta-Kum-Ta in the Champlain Islands, a non-profit that gives pediatric cancer patients a summer camp experience.

Cram directed money from his life insurance policy to benefit the camp, and some colleagues have encouraged others to donate to Camp Ta-Kum-Ta in Cram’s memory.

Photo Credit: Winooski Police Department/necn]]>
<![CDATA[Small Earthquake Near White River Junction]]>Thu, 21 Dec 2017 14:21:04 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Earthquake-seismograph-GettyImages-76117338.jpg

A small earthquake was recorded in the area of White River Junction, Vermont, near the New Hampshire border.

Some residents reported feeling the 2.3-magnitude earthquake, which the United States Geological Survey says struck around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The USGS says preliminary reports show the quake was more than 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) from White River Junction and less than 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) deep.

The USGS says smaller earthquakes are felt throughout New England a few times every year, and the region experiences moderately damaging earthquakes every few decades.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Catholic Bishop Reacts to Death of Disgraced Cardinal Law]]>Wed, 20 Dec 2017 18:22:05 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Vermont_Bishop_Reflects_on_Death_of_Cardinal_Law.jpg

A friend of Cardinal Bernard Law, the disgraced ex-archbishop of Boston, asked Catholics for mercy and prayer following his death at age 86.

"I consider him a friend," said Bishop Christopher Coyne of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, Vermont. "He was a friend, but like all of us with our friends, we recognize the good and the bad in them."

Under Law's watch, it was discovered the Archdiocese of Boston failed to stop pedophile priests from hurting kids. Law was forced to resign 15 years ago, after the Boston Globe uncovered evidence Law shuffled offending priests between parishes without notifying the public or taking steps to seek justice for survivors.

Prior to the revelations, Law ordained Coyne. During the fallout from the priest abuse scandal, Coyne was working closely with Law and served as the spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston.

"I would see him at least once a day — he was a man of patient virtue," Coyne recalled of the time he spent working with Law. "I didn't see him angry — not in any vindictive way."

Bishop Coyne now leads the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. He said he last saw Law 14 months ago in Rome, when his memory, heart and mobility were failing.

Coyne told necn Law never stopped saying he was sorry for betraying children's safety, the trust of families, and for harming the Church.

"When we discovered the real brokenness and sin that was in the Church, and his part of that, he paid the price," Coyne recalled.

Jerry O'Neill, a prominent Vermont attorney who represented roughly four dozen survivors of priest abuse in the Burlington diocese, said Wednesday that Cardinal Law deserves to be condemned.

O'Neill helped secure multi-million dollar settlements for clients who were victimized by priests in the Burlington diocese 35 or more years ago.

The attorney highlighted in court hearings evidence that that those priests would get moved around to different parishes to cover their crimes. O'Neill said that many of his clients thought of Cardinal Law as arrogant and terrible, adding he believes Law enabled abuse of children by taking steps that would protect offenders.

Many of those clients laid blame at Law's feet for some of the hurt caused to children, their families, and the church's reputation, O'Neill said.

"I think that they felt a substantial injustice for a long time, because he was permitted to go to Rome and be given a very plum assignment over there," O'Neill said. "I think a lot of people will say as to him, ‘good riddance.'"

Bishop Coyne acknowledged the considerable hurt many across New England still feel, including toward Law.

"I know that there are many out there who have different opinions of the man, and hold much different views of him than I, and I understand that completely," Coyne said. "But I would ask all of us to kind of walk forward in mercy and prayer for the repose of his soul — as we pray for everyone's souls when they pass on to God."

Coyne said he is confident the Catholic Church today is one of the safest places in the country, because of policies put in place following the crisis that unfolded with Cardinal Law at its center. Among those new policies are rules on background checks for church staff and volunteers, and making personnel mandated reporters — requiring that they tell authorities about evidence of victimization.

Coyne also said he welcomes the news that Law will be buried quickly, saying it's the time to close this chapter, while maintaining a focus on healing in the church.

Advocates for survivors of priest sexual abuse called on the Vatican to resist celebrating Cardinal Law's life.

Coyne said he expects the funeral will be relatively quiet compared to other services for Catholic cardinals. There were no tributes to Law made at Wednesday Masses in Vermont following his death, Coyne noted.

O'Neill praised the current leadership of the Burlington diocese for taking safety very seriously. He said he believes if a problem were to be detected in the diocese today, he is confident it would be reported and that strong legal action would be taken.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Vermont First Responders Urge Vehicles to Pull Over]]>Tue, 19 Dec 2017 19:26:35 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/Vermont_First_Responders_Ask_Drivers_to_Pull_Over.jpg

A Vermont rescue squad is urging drivers to pull over for emergency vehicles, saying their already stressful jobs can become even more so when they don't have the room on the roads they need to do their jobs safely.

"It's a constant problem," said Mike Chiarella, an advanced EMT with Richmond Rescue.

Chiarella said nearly every day, he and his fellow EMTs and paramedics come across drivers who just don't pull over, despite flashing red lights and blaring sirens.

"Modern cars — a lot of them have incredible sound-proofing in them, and people are playing their music loudly so they're not hearing the siren," Chiarella said.

Richmond Rescue provided necn with video examples taken from their ambulances’ onboard cameras that document drivers not following cues to pull over.

Anecdotally, several other police, fire, and rescue squads from around Vermont have commented to necn in recent months of the frustration they encounter when people don’t pull over for them when they have emergency lights on.

"We've come to expect"it,” Chiarella said, acknowledging it is particularly maddening to be on Interstate 89 with flashing lights during snowy conditions, and having cars pass his ambulance.

Back in April, the Champlain Islands witnessed a consequence of people who don't pull over.

An Alburgh fire truck was rushing to an electrical fire in Isle La Motte when Assistant Chief Ron Kumetz of the Alburgh Fire Department said oncoming cars didn’t give the truck room on a narrow road.

The engine tipped on a soft shoulder, became stuck, and two firefighters suffered minor injuries.

"You know, half the time people aren't paying attention—they don't look in their rear-view mirrors," Kumetz said on April 17.

"It irritates me when I see it," said Vermont Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn, who heads the Vermont Agency of Transportation.

Flynn, who is also a former deputy sheriff of the Grand Isle County Sheriff's Department and member of the Grand Isle Fire Department, said drivers in Vermont who don't let emergency vehicles pass can face cash fines — usually $249 — and five points on their license toward a suspension.

Police and fire vehicles, ambulances, tow trucks, and others displaying flashing lights as part of rescue operations all need to be respected as they do their work — with other drivers operating cautiously around them, and making lane changes if safe and possible.

"Not only is it the law, it's a courtesy," Flynn said.

Chiarella thanked the many drivers who do stay mindful of their surroundings, and asked the others to give crews the space they need, saying it could make a big difference in a crisis.

And while he wants to see folks slow down and pull to the right, Chiarella said he wants that done safely — so not on a curve or the crest of a hill, or in other difficult spots with poor visibility. In those cases, Chiarella said it's OK to go a little more before pulling over.

<![CDATA[2 New England States Make List for Worst Driving in Winter]]>Tue, 19 Dec 2017 16:59:01 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Philly+Snow+Driving.jpg

With winter weather hitting the region, it’s important to remember driver safety – and two New England states may need to remember driver safety more than others, according to a new report.

Safewise recently released a report breaking down which states are the best at driving in inclement conditions, including snow and rain, and which ones are the worst.

Vermont drivers are the worst at driving in snowy conditions, according to data analysed by Safewise. Maine drivers are not only bad at driving in the snow, but they also face dangerous conditions when driving in rain, according to the report. The Pine Tree State is the eighth most dangerous state for driving in the rain, and the fifth for driving in the snow.

Meanwhile, Rhode Island made list with the safest conditions on the road for both rain and snow overall.

States with the most snowfall don’t necessarily prove to be the most dangerous, according to Safewise, which found that only one of the 10 most dangerous snow states – Michigan – was also ranked as one of the highest for wintry weather-related crashes.

Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Huge Bubble of Hot Rock Building Under Northeast, Study Says]]>Tue, 19 Dec 2017 13:08:03 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/214*120/The+Berkshires.jpg

New findings show that a large bubble of hot rock may be rising under New England.

The question is -- what does it mean for us?

Researchers at Rutgers and Yale universities published an article last month in the journal Geology saying that they were able to identify a "localized plume" of warm rock beneath parts of central Vermont and western New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Not only that, but it's reportedly moving.

"The upwelling we detected is like a hot air balloon, and we infer that something is rising up through the deeper part of our planet under New England," Rutgers geophysicist Vadim Levin told ScienceAlert.

But the researchers also told National Geographic there's nothing to worry about -- at least not yet. The rising bubble of hot rock could be many millions of years old, and it's moving at an extremely slow pace.

In other words, don't expect to see a volcano explode out of the Berkshires anytime soon. At least not for another 50 million years or so.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Vermont Man Who Doused Wife With Lye Dies]]>Mon, 18 Dec 2017 20:43:46 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/160*160/1513117249-Jail-cell-bars-%28DMN%29.JPG

A Vermont man who in a jealous rage doused his estranged wife with industrial-strength lye and burned her so badly she needed a face transplant has died at a Pennsylvania hospital.

Sixty-two-year-old Herbert Rodgers had been serving a 30- to 70-year prison sentence in Pennsylvania and died Monday. Vermont officials say it appears Rodgers' death was "related to a medical issue."

Rodgers admitted breaking into Carmen Tarleton's house in 2007 intending to kill a man with whom he believed she was romantically involved. He poured the toxic chemical over her and later said, "I lost it, I just lost it."

The Vermont health services director will conduct a review of Rodgers' death.

Vermont houses some inmates out of state to alleviate overcrowding in its prisons. Rodgers was imprisoned in Michigan but was moved to Pennsylvania in June

<![CDATA[Mass. Man Pleads Not Guilty to Killing Vt. Couple]]>Mon, 18 Dec 2017 19:52:58 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Thurston_VT_PKG.jpg

A Massachusetts man pled not guilty Monday to accusations he killed a couple in southern Vermont and burned down their home.

"Sad. Very sad," said Diane Lovely, the sister of victim Steve Lovely, describing the mood in their family this Christmas.

In a Brattleboro, Vermont, courtroom, Lovely’s family saw the suspect Justin Orwat, 47, of Springfield, Massachusetts.

Orwat’s defense attorney, Dan Sedon, entered a not guilty plea on his client’s behalf on charges of aggravated murder and arson.

Prosecutors say in late October, Orwat shot Lovely and Lovely's girlfriend, Amanda Sanderson, inside their home in the southern Vermont community of Townshend. Orwat then allegedly burned the house down with the victims' bodies inside.

A police investigation linked Orwat to the victims because earlier in October, they were together when stopped by police in Bellows Falls. Officers discovered a large amount of cash, trace amounts of marijuana, white powder, and small plastic bags, according to a police affidavit.

Steve Brown, a Windham County prosecutor, said he's not aware of any criminal charges having been filed in that case.

The suspect was arrested in Massachusetts on outstanding warrants there and was recently returned to Vermont to face the new charges.

According to police, Orwat’s SUV had a gasoline can in it. Detectives made note of that in paperwork because a police dog detected the scent of an accelerant at the fire scene.

"The state police, really, they did a great job processing that scene, to try to recover every bit of evidence that we could recover," said Deputy Windham County State’s Attorney Steve Brown.

According to the police affidavit, the suspect's wife, Tami Orwat, told Vermont State Police detectives the four would use drugs together, until the men had a falling out over suspicions Orwat was stealing.

Tami Orwat said in an interview with detectives that on the night of the killing, her husband was paranoid from having taken bath salts and other drugs.

In an interview with necn after the brief arraignment, some of the victims’ loved ones painted a distinctly positive picture of Lovely and Sanderson. They called them beautiful, fun, caring, big-hearted people, who only made the mistake of letting Justin Orwat stay with them.

"We could live 150 years and not be able to wrap our heads around what these folks have done," Billie-Jo Fournier, Steve Lovely’s sister, said of the Orwats. "I hope (Orwat) never sees the light of day. I hate to be that way at Christmastime, but I’ll never wrap my head around what he did to these innocent people."

Brown noted that at this time, Tami Orwat is not facing any criminal charges. In the police interview, she said she was unaware of the fire until much later, and claimed her husband never confessed to her about shooting the couple.

Judge Michael Kainen ordered Justin Orwat jailed without bail. If he’s found guilty of aggravated murder, he'll serve a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.

<![CDATA[Demolition Underway on Vt. Mall, Ahead of Redevelopment]]>Fri, 15 Dec 2017 17:19:24 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/BOST_0000000111736481.JPG

This week marked the most visible progress yet in the complicated work to reimagine a tired, 40-year-old mall in the heart of downtown Burlington, Vermont.

Demolition crews chewed apart exterior walls on part of the Burlington Town Center mall, carting off debris and recycling as much of it as possible.

"I never had any doubts that a project of this magnitude in the town would be transformative," said Don Sinex, the real estate developer leading the $225-million job.

Sinex plans, by fall 2019, to open CityPlace Burlington’s 1.25-million square feet of retail, dining, offices, and 274 housing units—some of them, affordable.

Opponents at first blasted the concept, arguing its 14-story reach would be too tall for a small city. But voters approved it, as well as the changes to traffic patterns to come.

Recently, there have been concerns raised about impacts to city sidewalks during construction, and the eventual loss of this parking garage. Some merchants worried the parking would go offline during the critical holiday shopping season.

The developer agreed to spare the garage from the wrecking ball until after Burlington’s big New Year’s Eve party, to minimize impacts on the community.

"The fact he very kindly has agreed to keep his parking garage open–400 additional spaces–is tremendous news for the city and all of us," said Becky Cassidy of the Church Street Marketplace.

"You do everything you can to build the project in a manner where the least number of citizens are inconvenienced," Sinex told necn. "That’s why we kept the garage open when we heard some complaints—that’s why we phased it the way we did."

Cassidy said the Church Street Marketplace is eager for a new injection of spending from the renters and office workers expected to fill City Place Burlington.

The developer predicted he’ll have signed leases for much of his new retail units by the time the framing starts going up this spring. 

<![CDATA[TSA Aims to Smooth Holiday Travel With These Tips]]>Thu, 14 Dec 2017 18:11:42 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000011139464.JPG

With Christmas falling on a Monday this year, next Friday is expected to be one of the busiest days of the year for long-distance trips.

The federal Transportation Security Administration said it expects a 15 percent spike in air travel at some airports in the days leading up to Christmas, including Vermont’s Burlington International Airport.

To cut down on headaches, the TSA is urging people to pre-plan, so they can avoid common travel pitfalls.

One of the TSA’s tips pertains to a new rule on electronics.

"Previously, laptops had to come out with carry-on luggage," noted Michael McCarthy of the TSA. "That now has moved to include all larger electronic devices. So anything larger than your smartphone should come out of your bag and be placed into a bin."

The TSA also advised that you not bring wrapped holiday gifts, because officers may need to unwrap them to do an inspection.

And something like a jug of maple syrup or other liquids in amounts greater than 3.4 ounces should be in checked luggage, McCarthy said.

Traveler Barbara Leese was heading home to Washington, D.C. from Burlington Thursday morning.

She first made an unexpected pit stop at the garbage can, choosing to dump a gourmet jelly she couldn’t bring on her flight in a carry-on.

"It was too big–it exceeded the ounces. It was nine ounces, and I didn’t think," Leese said. "I gave two mustards away also, so it was twenty bucks."

The TSA also said this time of year in particular, travelers should get to the airport at least two hours early, because of the crowds.

"They’re inexperienced travelers," said Bruce McDonald, the federal security director for the Burlington International Airport. "They’re traveling to see relatives for the holidays, so they tend to be bundled up, they have lots of gifts, lots of items, so the line tends to go much slower than it would if we had, say, a bunch of business travelers in the mid-week."

If you have a question about an item you plan to bring with you, you can tweet the TSA. Their account is @AskTSA.

You can also ask questions of the TSA on Facebook Messenger. More information on that is available here.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Worker Killed in Accident at Ethan Allen Plant]]>Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:43:57 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Ambulance-Connecticut-2-Generic.jpg

Authorities in Vermont say a worker has died in an accident at a furniture factory.

Police say 55-year-old Bruce Biron was seriously injured while doing maintenance work in a silo at the Ethan Allen plant in Beecher Falls. Police say Biron, of West Stewartstown, New Hampshire, was later pronounced dead at the scene. It's not clear when it happened.

Vermont State Police have opened an investigation.

Biron's cause of death is under investigation, pending an autopsy by the chief medical examiner.

Ethan Allen said in a news release Wednesday that Biron had been employed by the company for 25 years.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[7 Day Cares Testing for Dry Cleaning Chemical Contamination]]>Wed, 13 Dec 2017 18:54:23 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/day+care+generic.jpg

Seven child care programs in Vermont will be undergoing precautionary testing for cleaning chemical contamination.

MyNBC5 reports that the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and Health Department will be testing facilities within 200 feet of current or former dry cleaning services.

The dry cleaning chemicals can seep into the ground and pollute the air of nearby buildings.

The child care facilities to be tested include:

• SVSU Early Education Program, Division Street in Bennington

• Canal Street Headstart, Canal Street in Brattleboro

• Y Early Childhood Program, St. Paul Street in Burlington

• Frog & Toad Child Care & Learning Center, Suzie Wilson Road in Essex

• Blooming Minds Enrichment Center, Lemnah Drive in St. Albans

• Heartworks, South Main Street in Stowe

• CU2 ChildCare, Dorset Lane in Williston

Families of children at the facilities have been notified and state officials say no one has been reported as sick. 

Photo Credit: NBCWashington]]>
<![CDATA[Report Flunks New England States for Personal Finance Education]]>Wed, 13 Dec 2017 18:48:39 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/New_Report_Card_on_Financial_Education.jpg

A new report card from the Center for Financial Literacy at Vermont's Champlain College encourages high schools to stress the importance of personal finance knowledge to their students.

"The call to action is 'do something,'" said John Pelletier of the Center for Financial Literacy.

Pelletier gave F grades to Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island high schools, saying they have no state-mandated exposure to finance topics as graduation requirements.

Maine and New Hampshire did better in the study, scoring Bs for their required classes with personal finance components.

Vermont got a D.

Pelletier said not enough young people understand how a credit score is calculated, why it's important to budget and start saving early, or how compound interest works.

He argues that all of society would benefit if tomorrow's consumers would just learn about those and other related topics.

"Your economy is stronger if we allow people to keep more of what they earn, and either save it or spend, than give it to a financial institution as interest," Pelletier told necn.

He called Utah the best of the best states, for not just requiring personal finance education, but testing students' proficiency and ensuring teachers are well-trained.

Champlain seniors Austin Truax and Cameron Dumont said they have peers who are very worried about their financial futures.

"They have no idea how credit cards work, they don't know how to go about getting a credit card," Truax said of other people his age. "They don't know what a credit score is or anything like that."

"A bunch of my friends who have loans – one of their biggest concerns is how they're going to pay it off and how they're going to find a place to live," Dumont added. "Their biggest goal is finding the best-paying job as opposed to a job that's going to make them happy."

Pelletier said he hopes the report card sparks conversations in state legislatures and elsewhere.

"I could put, I think, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in the same room, and they would agree that personal finance education is important for our youth, and yet we're not doing it in our classrooms," Pelletier said.

The Center for Financial Literacy noted that pockets of excellence do exist in states that got bad grades. However, Pelletier said towns that focus on finances do so because of dedicated principals, teachers, and community groups—not because of statewide policies.

Click here to read the full report, called "Is Your State Making the Grade?"

<![CDATA[Blast of Snowy Weather Hits Vermont Hard]]>Tue, 12 Dec 2017 17:10:55 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000011074229.JPG

A blast of snowy weather Tuesday tested Vermonters’ winter driving skills and patience.

Slide-offs and minor crashes were reported in many communities, including Middlesex, Colchester, and Essex—where a power pole broke when a driver lost control in the slippery conditions and hit it.

That Essex crash caused a temporary power outage to several dozen residents while Green Mountain Power made repairs to the pole.

"Drive slow—take extra time," urged Sgt. Francis Gonyaw of the Colchester Police Department. "The roads are going to be bad today; they’re going to be bad tonight. The National Weather [Service’s] forecast is talking about even into tomorrow. So just patience and slow down."

The mountains were where the most significant accumulations were expected. Skiers and riders took full advantage at Stowe Mountain Resort.

Mount Snow in West Dover boasted on Twitter of getting an inch an hour for part of the day at the resort.

And at Bolton Valley, spokesman Josh Arneson said the fresh snowfall should help spark new bookings for Vermont’s ski industry as a whole.

"This storm is extremely well-timed," Arneson said. "We love getting snow early-season and it’s going to tee us and everybody else up for a great Christmas week."

On downtown Burlington’s famous Church Street Marketplace, a busy destination for shopping and dining, maintenance staff spent the day keeping on top of the snow—ensuring holiday shoppers would have no trouble getting to the stores.

"Everyone’s in the holiday cheer," the marketplace’s Jim Daly said. "They’ve all got smiles on!"

With plow crews out working, the Vermont Agency of Transportation and other transportation officials around New England would also like to see drivers remember to not "crowd the plow" while on the roads. Instead, give those crews the room they need to do their jobs. 

Photo Credit: NBC Boston]]>
<![CDATA[Clean Water on Its Way to Vt. Homeowners With Tainted Wells]]>Mon, 11 Dec 2017 19:00:58 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Well_Water_Tainted_in_Vermont.jpg

State and local leaders celebrated progress made in piping clean water to some residents of Vermont's Bennington County, after their private wells were discovered to have been tainted with a potentially dangerous chemical.

Monday, Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, Attorney General T.J. Donovan, D-Vermont, Deputy Secretary Peter Walke of the Vermont Natural Resources Agency, and members of the legislative delegation from Bennington County gathered in Bennington to witness the start of municipal water service to the first address to receive an upgrade after the contaminated water was discovered.

"I'm really proud to be a Vermonter, and having such high standards for our water," said homeowner Ellen Laplante, whose home is now served by municipal water lines paid for by a settlement with the company blamed for the contamination.

In early 2016, the groundwater supplying Laplante's house and many other private wells in the southwest corner of Vermont was found to be tainted with the chemical PFOA, which has been linked to thyroid disease and certain types of cancer.

The contamination was blamed on an old industrial plant that used that chemical to make non-stick fabrics.

Its owner, Saint-Gobain, agreed this year to a settlement with the state that saw the company pay roughly $20 million to fund the construction of pipes to bring safe municipal water to affected homeowners who previously drank from their own wells.

"We will hold everybody accountable until everybody in this county has access to clean drinking water," Attorney General Donovan said.

Donovan and Gov. Scott acknowledged the job is far from done.

Several hundred families are relying on temporary in-home filters or bottled water as they wait for permanent fixes.

Work on extending municipal water pipes to those homes should all be wrapped up by next fall, Gov. Scott said.

"They've been struggling now for two years," the governor told necn. "I mean, it's a short period of time from a construction standpoint and a design standpoint, but from their standpoint, it’s probably an eternity. So it couldn't come soon enough, but we're very happy to at least take this first step."

There is a second contaminated site still to deal with on the other side of town, separate from this round of water pipe construction.

Right now, Saint-Gobain and the Vermont Natural Resources Agency are working to address that area, Deputy Secretary Walke said.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[77-Year-Old Arrested for Sexual Abuse at Home Daycare ]]>Sun, 10 Dec 2017 21:51:17 -0500https://media.necn.com/images/213*120/Daycare+Vermont.jpg

A 77-year-old man was arrested Sunday for reports of sexual abuse that allegedly occurred in a daycare facility he helped run in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

Thomas Claffey faces charges of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child.

State police initially received a report on Thursday of sexual abuse that allegedly occurred at a home daycare facility in 2014. After an investigation conducted in conjunction with the Vermont Department of Children and Families, Claffey was arrested in connection with the charges.

Claffey assisted with running the daycare and at times would aid in supervising the children, said police.

Claffey was released on bail and is due to appear in Caledonia Superior Court on Monday. It's unclear if he has an attorney.

Police are continuing the investigation by interviewing present and former families of the daycare.

Photo Credit: Vermont State Police]]>