December 24, 2003 – News at a glance

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Physician shortage felt in some parts of Vermont
Vermont has a growing shortage of physicians, particularly those in some medical specialties. Experts say rural hospitals have a hard time recruiting new physicians, in part because of the relatively low pay here compared to other states. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Douglas announces new Wal-Mart store in Franklin County
Wal-Mart has unveiled plans to build its largest store in the state. The facility will be located in Saint Albans town. Governor Jim Douglas says the proposal may be the first of several new Wal-Marts planned for Vermont. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Sorrell files on Dean’s behalf in records lawsuit
State Attorney General William Sorrell is defending former Governor Howard Dean in a lawsuit over his gubernatorial records. (VPR)

Polar Express
The children’s book “The Polar Express” is widely read at this time of year. It’s a Christmas story about an eight-year-old boy who takes a train ride to the North Pole. And the book has inspired a Burlington event that brings the story to life for children. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Dean suffers in polls against Bush
Howard Dean is lapping the Democratic field of presidential candidates. But a new ABC News-Washington Post poll suggests he’s vulnerable against President Bush. In a head-to-head matchup with Bush, Dean trails with 37 percent support to Bush’s55 percent. Meanwhile, Dean says the economy will remain a key issue in the presidential race in the New Hampshire primary and beyond. Dean says the batch of upbeat economic reports doesn’t mean anything to ordinary working people because the economic recovery has yet to include significant job growth. (AP)

NH Guard deployment
Another New Hampshire Army National Guard unit is being sent to Iraq. About 180 soldiers from C company of the third battalion of the 172 Infantry based in Manchester will be mobilized around January 20, for up to 18 months. The battalion is headquartered in Jericho, Vermont. It is the only U.S. military unit that is fully trained in mountain warfare. (AP)

Decline of Midnight Mass
Midnight mass is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Over the last 40 years the number of midnight masses available to Vermont Catholics eager to celebrate Christmas as soon as it begins is continuing to decline. (AP)

Wet Christmas forecast
It’s beginning to look like a wet Christmas. Rain is expected throughout Vermont on Wednesday and into Christmas day. Rain will be heavy at times Wednesday afternoon and evening, creating wet roads and poor visibility. Rain will eventually change to snow across Vermont Thursday afternoon and evening. (AP)

Flu cases spread
The number of flu cases in Vermont is continuing to climb. State Health Department officials say 25 cases have been reported, enough to upgrade the flu category reported to the federal government from local activity to widespread. No fatalities have been reported. (AP)

Embezzlement charges
Montpelier woman has been cited to appear in court on charges of embezzling from her employer. Forty-eight-year-old Katherine Palkowski is accused of embezzling more than $35,000 from Food Works’ Two Rivers Center while she served as office manager. (AP)

Sampson sentenced to death in MA
A federal jury in Boston has sentenced Gary Sampson to death for the carjacking-murders of two Massachusetts men. Sampson’s conviction is believed to be the first time anyone in Massachusetts has been sentenced under the federal death penalty law. (AP)

Fatal truck accident settlement
A Shelburne woman whose husband was killed by a truck two years ago has been awarded $2.5 million. A federal court jury says Michigan-based A.D. Transport Express should pay Julie Magnan for its role in the death of her husband David in January 2002. (AP)

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