December 29, 2003 – News at a glance

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Interview: Lost ski areas
Meteorologist and ski enthusiast Jeremy Davis charts many of the lost ski areas throughout New England – once bustling ski mountain destinations now untouched by ski or snowboard. He talks with Mitch Wertlieb about the organization he founded, the New England Lost Ski Area Project. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Pollina weighs lt. governor’s race
Progressive Anthony Pollina says a lot of members of his party are urging him to run for lieutenant governor next year. Pollina says it may be a few months before he makes a final decision. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Mad cow disease
Most of Vermont’s dairy farmers appear to be not all that worried about the reported case of mad cow disease in Washington state. Some farmers say they may even benefit from the bad news if demand for locally produced dairy and meat products rises as a result. (AP)

Democrats call for USDA regulations
Howard Dean is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to implement immediately several measures to address fears about mad cow disease. Both Dean and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry spoke on the issue on Sunday, and both called for better tracking of cattle and meat. (AP)

Democratic infighting
Howard Dean is urging his Democratic rivals to scale down their attacks on him. Dean says the Democrats shouldn’t be attacking one another so severely, because they’re only playing into the hands of President Bush and the Republicans. (AP)

Dean and Cheney task forces
Howard Dean has been criticizing Vice President Dick Cheney for the secret deliberations of his energy task force. But The Associated Press reports on Monday that Dean had his own energy task force that met in secret when he was governor of Vermont. The Gilbert-Bankowski Commission, as the panel was known, deliberated and then reported findings on how to keep Vermont’s power companies solvent in the face of the rising cost of their Hydro-Quebec contract. (AP)

Vermont soldier injured
A Vermonter injured in Iraq is said to be on the road to recovery. Shannon Willey, a 2000 graduate of Twinfield Union High School in Marshfield, suffered back and leg injuries in a firefight two weeks ago. (AP)

Tanzanian AIDS project
Ten students and teachers from Saint Michael’s College in Colchester leave on Monday for a two-week trip to Tanzania. They’ll be working with people living with HIV and AIDS in the poor East African nation. (AP)

Springfield school property tax
Finally some good news for property tax payers in Springfield. Vermont’s new school funding law, Act 68, is being credited by local officials with pushing down the school property tax in town next year. The residential portion of the school tax rate could decrease by 30 cents. (AP)

Upper Valley homeless shelter
When the Upper Valley Haven opens its new homeless shelter in the spring, the White River Junction facility will be outfitted with state-of-the-art energy-saving technology. The Haven will double in size, from capacity for four homeless families now, to eight. And it will be able to use more of its limited funds to provide services, rather than buying energy. The Sustainable Energy Resource Group worked with the Haven and with the statewide energy-saving utility Efficiency Vermont on the project. (AP)

Meningitis warning in NH
The word is going out to New Hampshire hospitals to be extra alert to signs of meningitis. One teen died from the illness during the weekend and four others still are in the hospital, but no new cases have been reported. The state is urging doctors to be “hyper-vigilant” in recognizing symptoms and especially in distinguishing between the flu and possible meningitis. Meningitis causes the brain to swell and it is spread by fairly intimate contact, such as kissing or sharing utensils or water bottles. It is not easily transmitted through sneezing and coughing. (AP)

Crime lab expansion
The Vermont Forensic Laboratory wants to hire two employees to help them fight crime. Lab Director Eric Buel says lack of manpower, space and equipment limits the work the laboratory. He’s hoping for help from a $250,000 federal grant. (AP)

Williston house fire
A church youth group is being credited with keeping a fire in a Williston home from getting out of control. The group smelled smoke when they went into the home on Oak Knoll Road for a retreat at about 4:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. There were no injuries. (AP)

Churches help fire victims
A Burlington family burned out of its home in September is doing well thanks to a lot of help from the community. Eight Hammond family members were in their home when the fire struck on September 30. They say they’re awed by the outpouring of support from parishioners at the Saint Mark and Holy Cross churches in Burlington, from students at Saint Michael’s college and others. (AP)

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