December 22, 2003 – News at a glance

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Union argues for State Hospital
The union that represents employees at the Vermont State Hospital says it doesn’t make sense to close the aging facility until a more modern replacement is found. Some lawmakers and advocacy groups say the hospital should be shut down. But the hospital workers say the state will always need a place to treat seriously mentally ill Vermonters. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

State’s security plan
Governor Jim Douglas has called for the state’s homeland security plan to be implemented, as federal officials warn of an increased threat of a terrorist attack. (VPR)

Ski resorts: luxury and convenience
Holiday ski conditions should be excellent thanks to recent storms. But snow is only part of what’s needed to attract today’s skiers. Ski resorts across Vermont have pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into new developments that offer luxury, convenience and just plain more. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Long-term energy plan
Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Ann Cummings says she’s disappointed with a new twenty-year energy plan proposed by the Douglas Administration. Cummings say the plan downplays the role of conservation and doesn’t provide specifics about the state’s energy future. Governor Jim Douglas is defending the proposal. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Democratic infighting
Howard Dean says the presidential race needs what he calls “a little character transplant” among his bickering fellow Democrats. During a swing through Iowa on Saturday Dean appealed to the other Democrats to stop the verbal attacks that have come to dominate the race. (AP)

Clavelle campaigning for 2004
Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle is touring Vermont as he gears up his gubernatorial campaign. Since October, Clavelle has visited 10 counties and 24 towns. By November he hopes to visit every town in the state. Clavelle wants to challenge Governor Jim Douglas. (AP)

Connecticut River hydro dams
The bankrupt company that owns a Connecticut River hydroelectric dam that the town hopes to buy is getting ready to sell the facility. U.S. Gen officials say plans by Rockingham to buy the Bellows Falls hydro station would complicate company plans. (AP)

Heating assistance program
Vermont’s two United States senators are urging the federal government to release more heating assistance money. Vermont is in line to get $2.1 million in the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known as LIHEAP. (AP)

Barre school contract
The Barre Town school district and teachers have a new contract. The agreement passed by three votes. Union officials say many of the 81 teachers in town were unhappy with the increase in health insurance costs. School board officials say they’re pleased. (AP)

Avalanche warning
Experts are warning people who head into Vermont’s mountains this winter to watch out for avalanches. The snow slides that regularly trap and kill people in other part of the country are rare in Vermont, but they do happen. (AP)

Saint Johnsbury fire
Fire investigators say the weekend fire in Saint Johnsbury that killed a mother and daughter appears to have been an accident. The names of the 82-year-old mother and her 53-year-old daughter have not been released. (AP)

Howland passes away
A long-time Windsor County businessman who spent a decade in the Vermont Senate has died. John Hudson Howland died Friday at his home in West Windsor. He was 88. In 1956, he purchased a ski tow on Ascutney Mountain. He served in the Senate from 1975 until 1985. (AP)

Grade-schoolers raise money for charity
A group of Milton third and fourth graders is getting a lesson in the spirit of holiday giving. The students raised money to buy $800,000 worth of supplies and gifts for the Milton Family Community Center and their Holiday Assistance Program. (AP)

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