August 6, 2002 – News at a glance

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Crop circles
Mysterious crop circles have turned up on a Quebec farm just north of the U.S.-Canadian border. A series of twelve circles arranged in a concentric pattern was found over the weekend on a farm in Howick, Quebec.

Health care regulations
Vermont’s auditor of accounts says she’ll look at how the state oversees major health care projects. Auditor Elizabeth Ready’s review follows allegations that Fletcher Allen hospital in Burlington evaded state oversight when it began construction of a $55 million parking garage. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

September 11 commemoration
A variety of organizations around the state are making plans to observe the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

“Becoming an Outdoors Women”
The number of Vermont hunters is decreasing, down 13% in the last decade. In an effort to stem the decline, the state wants to tap a group not usually associated with hunting: women. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

IBM age discrimination
Several present and former IBM employees claim that older workers were unfairly discriminated against during the company’s recent round of layoffs. (VPR)

FAHC credit rating
Fear is growing that some other Vermont hospitals may suffer consequences from the scandal at Burlington’s Fletcher Allen Health Care. The Standard and Poors investment rating house is reviewing Fletcher Allen’s credit-worthiness following allegations that it started work on a parking garage and computer system without the needed state permits. (AP)

Property tax bills
Town clerks around Vermont are getting an earful this summer from residents complaining about higher property tax bills. In many Vermont towns, tax bills go out to property owners in July with the first installment on the bill due in mid-August. (AP)

Francophone households decline
Many Vermonters of French-Canadian descent say they’re having trouble passing French language skills on to their children. The trend is showing up in numbers newly released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Census Bureau reports that 15 % fewer Vermonters speak French at home than was the case in 1990. (AP)

Legionnaire’s Disease
The Vermont Health Department has confirmed two more cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the Waterbury area. That brings to three the number of people diagnosed with the disease, and four more are suspected to have it. (AP)

VSAC loan consolidation plan
Vermont’s leading underwriter of student loans is offering some new ways of reducing costs in repaying student loans. Vermont Student Assistance Corporation is offering a program in which people paying off college loans can consolidate those loans and receive immediate help in paying down the principal owed. (AP)

Public safety budget
Vermont’s Public Safety Department has been put on what amounts to a monthly allowance. The Finance and Management Department has been working on budget issues with the department that runs state police, emergency management and criminal justice services. It ended the last budget year with a $1.3 million budget deficit. (AP)

Magic Mountain ski area
Four different investment groups are reported to be seriously interested in buying the old Magic Mountain ski area. Eric Nathan Auction Company of Manchester plans to sell the ski area in Londonderry in a week. (AP)

Arson suspect profiled
Investigators in Orange County are developing a profile of a suspect in a string of arsons on seasonal camps. State police say there have been ten fires in Orange County in the past two weeks or so. Police say they believe the suspect is a white male between his late teens or 30 years old. (AP)

Bridge construction bids
Vermont Transportation Agency officials say they’re about to seek bids for their part of replacing a bridge over the Connecticut River. The state of New Hampshire began construction on its side of the bridge last fall, but Vermont has been working out details for realigning Vermont Route Nine’s intersection. (AP)

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