December 20, 2002 – News at a glance

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Santa suits
Everyone knows that Santa Claus needs some extra help during the busy weeks before Christmas. Brattleboro’s “Costume Ladies” have been catering to Santa’s deputies for years. (VPR)

Liability insurance rates
Vermont businesses say it’s harder – and much more expensive – to buy liability insurance. The reasons for the rate hikes are complex. But in some cases, insurance companies have more than quadrupled the cost of coverage. (VPR)

Medicaid deficit, reduced benefits
An increasing deficit in the Medicaid program is a concern for Vermont’s new administration. According to incoming governor Jim Douglas, the deficit will require reductions in benefits for some Medicaid recipients. (VPR)

Vermont may get a new department in state government that will concentrate on ways to improve the state’s information technology capabilities. (VPR)

Tobacco sales to minors
BP Amoco, one of the country’s largest oil companies, will adopt policies that will reduce the purchase of tobacco by minors. (AP)

FEMA appropriation
Vermont will received more than $400,000 to improve its response to possible acts of terrorism or other emergencies. (AP)

OMYA disposal plan
Residents in the Rutland County village of Florence, fearful that their water could become polluted, are opposing a mining company’s plan to stockpile waste. (AP)

Douglas appointments
Governor-elect Jim Douglas is asking two of Governor Howard Dean’s commissioners to stay on and has announced the appointment of two others. Thomas Torti returns to Buildings and General Services and Bonnie Rutledge stays at Motor Vehicles. He’s also appointing Cynthia LaWare personnal commissioner and John Hall commissioner of the Housing and Community Affairs Department. Douglas also says there are some changes coming in the Vermont Human Services Agency. Douglas appointed banker Charles Smith to the post Thursday. Douglas has charged Smith with helping to restructure the state’s Medicaid programs. (AP)

Dubie appointment
Lieutenant Governor-elect Brian Dubie has appointed a staff assistant. Dubie says his campaign communications director will work for him when he’s sworn into office. Martha Hanson of Saint Johnsbury will take the job on January 9. (AP)

DWI fatality rate
A new report from a federal agency says Vermont has the second lowest rate of drunken driving deaths in the country. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says Vermont had .36 DWI fatalities per 100 million miles traveled from 1982 to 2001. Puerto Rico was highest in the country with 1.38 DWI fatalitiess per 100 million miles traveled. (AP)

Wallingford crematorium debate
Some residents of Wallingford are trying to prohibit crematoriums anywhere in town. The owner of Aldous Funeral Home wants to add a crematorium to his business in Wallingford’s village. Ninety-two of the town’s legal voters signed a petition this month calling for interim zoning regulations that would ban crematoriums for two years while the town studies the matter. (AP)

White Christmas
Forecasters say it’s likely Vermont will have a white Christmas. Cornell University’s Northeast Regional Climate Center puts out a white Christmas probability list every year. Keith Eggleston, a climatologist at the center, says he’s found that if there’s an inch or more of snow on the ground on December 18, chances for a white Christmas greatly improve in most areas. (AP)

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