December 1, 2003 – News at a glance

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Vermonter helps Lords of Rings characters come alive
Greg Butler has spent much of the last five years in Middle Earth, with occasional trips to visit his family in Randolph, Vermont. Butler has played a key role in the creation of the Lord of the Rings films. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Police still mired in shooting aftermath
Brattleboro police are still trying to restore confidence and trust two years after they responded to a disturbance at a church and ended up shooting dead Robert Woodward. For Police Chief John Martin, much of the controversy surrounding the shooting by two of his officers comes down to the knife. The two officers said Woodward lunged at them with the knife before they shot and killed him on December 2, 2001. (AP)

High speed rail study
A lawsuit has tied up money that New Hampshire had hoped to spend on a three-state study passenger rail service between Boston and Montreal. Last year, during the first phase of the study with Vermont and Massachusetts, a portion of New Hampshire’s share was raised through the 18-cent-a-gallon state tax on gasoline, which is earmarked for highway projects. (AP)

Jobs plan announced
Governor Jim Douglas is expected to unveil another job creating plan on Monday. He plans a news conference after touring the Vermont Tubbs furniture factory in Brandon. Douglas’ staff says he’ll discuss the proposal in the middle of the factory floor. (AP)

Connecticut River dams
The owner of a Connecticut River dam that the town of Rockingham is considering taking to form a municipal utility is trying to create legal roadblocks to the plan. Rockingham started the process two weeks ago to legally condemn the 49-megawatt dam owned by USGen-New England Inc. But last week the dam’s owner filed paperwork asking the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to stop the process. (AP)

Retraining for DET layoffs
Vermont’s Department of Employment and Training has received more than $500,000 in federal aid to help with retraining laid-off workers. The emergency grant will allow the department to help approximately 205 workers with training and job search assistance. (AP)

Dean on No Child Left Behind
Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean says that if he still were governor of Vermont he would have turned down money from the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Dean, who spoke to teachers and supporters at a Merrimack, New Hampshire high school this morning, said the law lowers the standards for good schools in New Hampshire to make them more like poorly performing schools in Texas. (AP)

Senior safety service
A computer-aided program offering daily check-ins with elders living alone is spreading among Vermont law enforcement agencies. The Rutland County sheriff’s department is set to begin offering the service on Monday. Seniors who register for the program will get a computer-generated phone call each day to check on them. (AP)

Mad River Valley housing
Two non-profit groups have been thwarted in their effort to bring a 12-unit affordable housing project to the Mad River Valley town of Warren. But officials with the Central Vermont Community Land Trust and Housing Vermont say they want to keep looking for other opportunities to bring affordable housing to the area (AP)

Military care packages
A Randolph couple whose daughter is a U.S. soldier in Iraq and won’t be home for Christmas is organizing an effort to send some holiday cheer to her and her comrades. That effort that now includes the Montpelier VFW Auxiliary, whose members are making unbreakable ornaments for the troops. (AP)

Winds blow down tree
A windy Thanksgiving weekend swept down Burlington’s Church Street and toppled the city’s holiday tree with it. The 50-foot blue spruce at the head of the street was knocked over just before dawn on Sunday. That’s just hours after it was officially lighted. Work crews cut up and chipped the tree. (AP)

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