December 28, 2004 – News at a glance

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Markowitz asks for statewide instant run off voting system
Secretary of State Deb Markowitz will ask the lawmakers next month to support an instant run off voting system for statewide elections in Vermont. Governor Jim Douglas says he’ll oppose this plan. (VPR)

Vermont Guard trains for brigade combat teams, some go to Saudi Arabia instead of Iraq
The 130 members of the Vermont National Guard called up earlier this month and another 400 headed out next month are training to be part of a relatively new military concept called ‘brigade combat’ teams. (VPR)

Fire investigators explore Agway blaze
A Vermont State Police fire investigator is trying to determine what caused an early morning fire that destroyed the Agway store on route five. The alarm went out just before 3 A.M. yesterday for a report of a structure fire at the landmark business. There were no injuries. (AP)

More Vermonters using Quit Line to stop smoking
The Vermont Department of Health reports a big jump in the number of people calling their Quit Line.

Times Argus shut down receiving threatening letter
The Barre office of the Times Argus newspaper was disrupted yesterday after the newspaper received a threatening letter containing a white powder. Fire crews, state police and the state’s hazardous materials response team responded after the letter was opened in the afternoon and some white powder spilled out. The powder was determined to be a non-hazardous sodium substance. (AP)

Anti-war group wants town meeting vote on National Guard activities
A number of Vermont anti-war groups want Congress to limit federal control over state National Guard units. And the same groups want the Vermont Legislature to study the use of the National Guard. Organizers hope to get the resolution on Town Meeting Day ballots in 30 towns. (AP)

Vermont National Guard units being trained in new combat techniques
Some members of the Vermont National Guard being called to active duty are being trained as part of a relatively new military concept, brigade combat teams. Officials say says the combat teams are designed to be lighter, more flexible and more lethal.

Foreign language interpreters need legal protection
Advocates for Vermont’s growing number of foreign language interpreters say the workers need legal protection. In the last legislative session the lawmakers made sign language interpreters exempt from having to testify in court about their translations. (AP)

Essex Junction couple wants January 15th to be Vermont Independence Day
An Essex Junction couple who can trace their family heritage back to the time when the state was an independent republic wants January 15th declared Vermont Independence Day. Linda and John Whitney say such a state holiday would promote the state’s unique history and could increase tourism. (AP)

Burlington church group to visit India after tsunami
Members of a Burlington church trip plan to visit a part of India devastated by a tsunami. The Reverend Bob Lee of the First Congregational Church will lead a group of six on the visit. Several of his friends run a private hospital there. (AP)

Flu clinics
A reminder that flu clinics continue today and the rest of this week. Clinics will be held this afternoon at the South Burlington High School, tomorrow at the high school in Essex Junction and Thursday at the Elks Club in Burlington. (AP)

Ferrisburgh hit with 15 inches of snow
Normally, Lake Champlain isn’t big enough to generate lake-effect snowstorms like those seen in Buffalo, New York. But yesterday the wind lined up perfectly to blow cold air across the warm lake water and dump up to 15 inches of snow on Ferrisburgh. The part of town away from the lake received only six inches of snow. (AP)

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