December 10, 2004 – News at a glance

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Montpelier Grange adjusts to new membership base
Once a powerful force in Vermont, the Grange has seen its membership shrink to just 2,200 souls statewide. While many local granges are struggling to find new members, one Vermont chapter is about to see its membership skyrocket. (VPR)

Deployments diminish police ranks
The Vermont State Police and other public safety agencies are feeling the effects of the war in Iraq. Public Safety Commissioner Kerry Sleeper says eight out of the state’s 300 troopers were recently called up for service in the Middle East. Sleeper says the deployments cause some strain for his agency, but will not compromise public safety. (VPR)

Chinese officials learn energy efficiency
A delegation from China is visiting Vermont this week to learn about new ways to conserve energy. The three-member delegation from Jiangsu Province has been studying ways to meet their region’s expanding energy needs while minimizing the impact on the environment. (VPR)

Vermont soldier recovering Walter Reed
A St. Johnsbury man wounded in Iraq is recovering in Washington, D.C. Twenty-three-year-old Sergeant Jeremy Bradley is at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. (AP)

Fire destroys North Clarendon home
Fire officials are trying to determine the cause of a fire in North Clarendon that left a family homeless. The fire started shortly before 5 p.m. on Wednesday at a home on Walker Mountain Road. No one was hurt in the blaze. (AP)

Middlebury theater restoration
The Town Hall Theater in Middlebury is getting a financial boost of $150,000. The grant was included in the Omnibus Appropriations Act and was announced on Thursday by Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords. (AP)

Keene police services
A new committee in Keene, New Hampshire, is trying to iron out who pays police overtime when officers are called to events or incidents at Keene State College. (AP)

Campaign spending
Senator Patrick Leahy and Congressman Bernie Sanders ended their re-election campaigns with plenty of money on hand for future races. New reports at the Federal Election Commission shows Leahy ended his campaign with slightly more than one million dollars left over. Sanders finished the 2004 campaign with $617,000 in his account. Both men easily won re-election last month. (AP)

National Forest waters
Two environmental groups want special protection for more than 60 bodies of water in the Green Mountain National Forest. But the Vermont Natural Resources Agency, representatives of the timber and ski industries and the U.S. Forest Service say they’re not sure the extra protection is necessary. The Vermont Natural Resources Council and the Conservation Law Foundation made the requests to the Water Resources Board. (AP)

Burke Mountain delays opening
Bad weather is delaying the opening of the Burke Mountain ski area. Above average temperatures and rain have been it hard for Burke officials to make snow. Now resort manager Dick Andross says he’s hoping to open December 17. (AP)

Art highway in Danville
A $2 million infusion of federal cash will help a unique, art-influenced highway project in Danville get built. The project’s been on the books in one form or another for more than 30 years. The mile-long project on U.S. Route 2 is a collaboration between the Vermont Transportation Agency and the Vermont Arts Council. (AP)

Winter driving
Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Kerry Sleeper is urging Vermont motorists to slow down when driving conditions are hazardous this winter. Sleeper says the majority of bad weather accidents happen when people are driving too fast. (AP)

New troopers for rural areas
The new Vermont State Police troopers who hit the road next year will be used mainly in rural area. Public Safety Commissioner Kerry Sleeper says a new class of state troopers will be enrolling at the state police academy next month. (AP)

Drunk driving penalties
A judge is offering a deal to first-time drunken drivers in Washington County. Vermont District Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford says he’ll settle first-time offenders’ cases with a $250 fine and 90-day license suspension if they plead guilty at their arraignments. The fine is about the half the average under the previous system. (AP)

Sex offender living in Mt. Holly
An untreated sex offender released from prison this week will be moved out of Vermont as soon as possible. But a church pastor helping Douglas Bryant find a place to live says he doesn’t know yet where Bryant will be going. For now, Bryant is living in Mt. Holly. (AP)

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