April 13, 2004 – News at a glance

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Federal safety review questioned in Vermont Yankee case
The safety of nuclear power hinges on the concept of “redundancy.” How much redundancy is one of the questions raised by the proposal at the Vermont Yankee plant in Vernon to boost power by 20 percent. Critics say that at least two layers of safety systems are needed to control radiation releases. But they charge that the increase in power could trigger a situation in which a key safety system could fail. (VPR)

Interview: Tax deadline draws near
Mitch Wertlieb talks with Tax Commissioner Tom Pelham about what taxpayers can do to prevent hassles after filing tax returns. (VPR)

Douglas asks for cost-saving modifications to Bypass
Governor Jim Douglas is asking state highway engineers to consider ways to redesign the northern leg of the Bennington Bypass to help reduce the cost of the project. The governor is taking this step because the estimated price tag for the road has more than doubled, from $45 million to $99 million. (VPR)

Edson pleads guilty, resigns as sheriff
Washington County Sheriff Donald Edson handed in his resignation on Monday after pleading guilty to a felony fraud charge. (AP)

VHFA celebrates 30 years
The Vermont Housing Finance Agency marked its thirtieth anniversary on Monday with a ceremony at the Statehouse. (AP)

Municipal budget items
There are bond issues on the ballot on Tuesday in Manchester and Windsor, with the future of a water system, and an athletic facility at stake. (AP)

Capital construction bill
The Vermont Senate is set to take up a $41 million capital construction bill this week. Big-ticket items include separate $3 million appropriations for completion of the new courthouse in Rutland and to help fund construction of a new agriculture sciences building at the University of Vermont. (AP)

Health care proposal
The Vermont House is expected to debate the governor’s health care package this week. A centerpiece of the proposal is a new tax credit for small businesses designed to encourage them to sign up for health savings accounts. (AP)

State Hospital funds
A bill that includes $600,000 in improvements for the Vermont State Hospital is up for debate on the Senate floor this week. Most of the money would go to build special treatment rooms where staff could isolate and stabilize upset patients. (AP)

Circ Highway costs
A more than doubling in cost of the next leg of the Bennington bypass has at least one leading lawmaker casting a wary eye on the Chittenden County Circumferential Highway. Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Welch says the Circ is the most costly road project Vermont has, and it’s important to have an accurate estimate of the cost. (AP)

Media in courts
Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is asking the federal court system to establish a clear policy on media coverage of its judges. Leahy is responding to a flap that erupted last week after a U.S. marshal erased two reporters’ recordings of a speech by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia has since apologized for ordering the tapes to be erased. (AP)

Online fundraising
Political analysts say Howard Dean has changed the way political parties use the Internet. Dean, a Democrat, raised a record-setting $40 million last year before dropping out of the presidential primary race in February. Christine Iverson, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, says Dean showed campaigners how to combine Web fund-raising with face-to-face organizing. (AP)

Burlington bans smoking in bars
It’s official: Starting next month, there will be no smoking allowed in Burlington bars. Councilmen in Vermont’s largest city voted unanimously last night to make the no-smoking ban a condition of all cabaret liquor licenses in the city for the next license year, which starts in May. (AP)

Windsor cell tower
Zoning officials in West Windsor will meet on Tuesday to consider asking a cell phone company to make its tower shorter. Almost 50 residents of the town have signed a petition seeking to have the height reduced because its use has changed. (AP)

Brattleboro school mascot
High school students in Brattleboro are going to choose a new look for their mascot this week. The students are voting Thursday on an eagle, a Revolutionary War soldier, a fisher cat or a bulldog to replace their controversial Colonel mascot. (AP)

Springfield town curfew
Town officials in Springfield are considering a curfew for residents under the age of 17. The move comes after vandals damaged holiday decorations and lights around the Christmas season. After the vandalism, the town formed a committee to look at ways of helping make sure it didn’t happen again. (AP)

Chase malpractice suit
An eye doctor facing 136 charges of unprofessional conduct has agreed not to practice medicine until the charges are resolved. The state has filed a summary suspension against Doctor David Chase after the Medical Practice Board reinstated his license last month. (AP)

LaFaso sentenced
A Rutland man, who is a suspect in more than a dozen local robberies, will serve ten years in prison on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Police say 35-year-old Matthew LaFaso was found with a gun stolen from a police officer’s home in September 2002. (AP)

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