December 31, 2002 – News at a glance

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Democrats choose Welch
The Senate Democratic Caucus on Monday unanimously chose Windsor County Senator Peter Welch as the Senate president pro tempore candidate for the upcoming session. Because the Democrats hold a commanding majority in the Senate, Welch’s formal election next week by the full Senate is considered a certainty. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Springfield machine plants
The state has gone to court to force the removal of thousands of gallons of hazardous materials from two idle machine tool plants in Springfield. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Year in review
The past year in Vermont will be remembered for its themes, as much as for its events. The state’s economic hardships, the rise of heroin and the struggle of dairy farmers were stories that recurred through the year. Along the way, Vermonters elected their first new governor in more than a decade, and celebrated the accomplishments of a few notable neighbors. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Roads advisory
There are tough driving conditions across much of Vermont Tuesday morning. Winter weather advisories are still in effect for most of the eastern side of the state, although they’ve been lifted for most of the Champlain Valley. State police report that there are thin layers of ice on many roads and some have had to be closed temporarily after accidents. (AP)

Smoking in bars
A new effort is expected in the Vermont Legislature to ban smoking in those bars where it’s now permitted. The Coalition for a Tobacco Free Vermont wants the state to close a loophole that allows smoking in bars and eateries that have a cabaret license. By Vermont law, a cabaret is a business that brings in more money with alcohol sales and entertainment than with food sales. (AP)

Ford lawsuit settled
Vermont will get $300,000 in a settlement of a lawsuit with the Ford Motor Company. Vermont and the other states charged that Ford failed to disclose to consumers that there were safety risks when Firestone ATX and Wilderness AT tires were used on Ford sport utility vehicles. (AP)

First Night
Organizers of Burlington’s First Night celebration are expecting a strong turnout. More than 8,000 advance tickets have already been sold to the annual New Year’s Eve event. The event features music, dance and other performances at 25 venues around downtown Burlington. (AP)

Planes make emergency landing
Two U.S. Airways planes that left Burlington yesterday morning had to make emergency landings. A crack in a windshield forced one plane headed to LaGuardia Airport in New York to make an emergency landing in Burlington. Another passenger jet made an emergency landing at the Albany, New York, airport because of smoke in the cabin. No one was hurt in either incident. (AP)

Hospital fire
Fire struck Brattleboro Memorial Hospital Monday night but was quickly extinguished. Firefighters arrived to find flames coming out the windows of the physical therapy area of the hospital. By that time, the hospital’s sprinkler system went off and began to douse the flames. (AP)

Bank robbery
The Charter One Bank in Jamaica was robbed Monday afternoon. Police were looking for male suspect who fled the bank in what police believe was a white Chevy Chavelle. No one was injured in the robbery. (AP)

Car thief arrested
A New Hampshire man accused of stealing cars and guns has been arrested in Vermont. New Hampshire State police say 22-year-old James Bard of Newport was arrested Monday in Hartford, Vermont. Bard faces charges in Vermont of car theft and carrying a loaded long gun in a car. In New Hampshire, he’s been charged with burglary and theft of a gun. (AP)

Skier dies on chair lift
An elderly man who split his time between Vermont and New Jersey died Monday while trying to board a chairlift. Vermont State Police say 77-year-old Robert Townsend was pushed forward yesterday as he was trying to get on the lift at Pico Mountain. Authorities say he had no obvious signs of injury but did have a history of heart problems. (AP)

Trinity campus purchased
The University of Vermont completed its purchase of the Trinity College campus Monday for $14.3 million. UVM President Daniel Fogel says the new campus will be used to consolidate some operations and provide housing, childcare space, classrooms and offices. (AP)

Town celebrates anniversary
Rockingham has begun a yearlong observance of the town’s 250th anniversary. The year of celebration began Saturday as a crowd of 300 people watched a re-enactment of the Rockingham town charter being signed. (AP)

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