August 21, 2003 – News at a glance

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Interview: new CEO of Fletcher Allen
Mitch Wertlieb talks with Dr. Melinda Estes, the newly hired CEO of Fletcher Health Care. Estes talks about the troubles facing the Burlington hospital, including financial scandals and compromised public trust. (Listen to the interview online.) (VPR)

Plan splits cost of transmission line upgrade
Advocates for a big power line planned from Rutland to South Burlington see a good deal. They say that much of the cost of the Vermont transmission line will probably be covered by other ratepayers in New England. But critics say that the financial arrangement is not guaranteed and would cause other increases for ratepayers here. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Douglas calls for transmission line upgrade
Governor Jim Douglas says last week’s electrical outage in many parts of the Northeast demonstrates the need for the proposed transmission line upgrade. However some energy analysts think the governor’s approach may be shortsighted. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Report questions financial security of Fletcher Allen
A study of Fletcher Allen Health Care’s finances concludes that the hospital’s expansion project could drive up health insurance costs in Vermont. (AP)

State police increase patrols
Vermont motorists may notice more state police cruisers on interstate highways. Lieutenant Bill O’Leary says a number of initiatives have begun in the past several months that have increased his agency’s ability to patrol roads. (AP)

Yankee shutdown costs
The owners of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant don’t want to protect ratepayers against higher costs if the reactor has to shut down unexpectedly because of a plan to increase power production. That’s according to the commissioner of the Public Service Department. (AP)

Wind power
Count the Lyndonville Electric Department among Vermont utilities looking seriously at buying some wind power. An official with a wind farm project planned in East Haven told town officials this week the project could sell them power for 10% less than what they’re paying now. (AP)

Medical bureaucracy costs
A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine says Vermont is spending more than $750 million a year on health care bureaucracy. The study says that’s how much could be saved in health care administration costs if a Canadian-style single-payer health care system were implemented in Vermont. The researchers estimated that if the same system were set up nationwide, it would save $286 billion a year. (AP)

Human Services assessment
The Vermont Human Services Agency is collecting information about the best way to improve the way it delivers services. Human Services Secretary Charles Smith says he wants to collect information before deciding how to reorganize the agency. (AP)

Dean seeks labor support
Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean is continuing to have trouble attracting broad labor support in his campaign for president. The Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers union Wednesday became the twelfth union to endorse Dean’s rival, Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt. (AP)

Milk program deadline
Vermont dairy farmers aren’t showing much interest in a plan to reduce milk supplies by slaughtering cows. More than 500 farmers across the country have submitted bids as part of the program by the national dairy industry designed to raise milk prices. The deadline is Friday. (AP)

Clarendon environmental testing
An official at the Vermont Department Health says the state most likely won’t be able to do an environmental health survey of the entire town of Clarendon. Toxicologist Bill Bress says instead, state investigators will set priorities to study of what residents perceive as environmental health threats. (AP)

Sea lamprey
Biologists are targeting sea lamprey living in the Winooski River in hopes of controlling the nonnative, eel-like parasite in Lake Champlain. State and federal biologists are planning on using a lamprey-killing chemical on the river in October. (AP)

Student sick days
School officials in Newport want to crack down on healthy students whose parents let them take a sick day. Under a proposed policy, students would be allowed up to 20 days a year of sick leave — similar to the way many companies address the issue with their employees. Officials say they could take parents to court if students stayed home longer than 20 days without a long-term illness. (AP)

Sampson trial
Trial for a man captured in Vermont two years ago after allegedly killing two Massachusetts residents and one in New Hampshire is set to begin next month. Jury selection in the trial of Gary Sampson is scheduled to start September 18 in the federal court in Boston. (AP)

Child abuse allegation
A 25-year-old Burlington woman is back behind bars after pleading innocent to being an accomplice in brutal injuries inflicted on her three-month-old daughter. Lisa Foy entered the pleas to charges of child cruelty a day after her 32-year-old boyfriend, Shawn Riley, was charged with three counts of first-degree felony domestic assault. (AP)

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