December 5, 2003 – News at a glance

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Santa Land visitors weigh theme park’s Wild West future
Back when billboards flanked Vermont’s highways, any motorist entering the state could see that Santa’s Land U.S.A. was a big attraction. In recent years, the 50-year-old Putney theme park has struggled to open weekends from May till Christmas. Now a Massachusetts business man wants to turn Santa’s Land into a Wild West Village. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Dean raises $52,000 for congressional candidate
The campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean says its pilot project to help raise money for a member of Congress from Iowa has been very successful. The campaign says that demonstrates that Dean’s grass roots support can be a factor in Congressional elections next year. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Gephardt aide’s comment angers union leaders
Two union leaders say a Missouri-based aide to Democratic presidential candidate Dick Gephardt should be fired. (AP)

Dean has 30-point lead in New Hampshire
Two new polls show that former Vermont Governor Howard Dean is expanding his lead over Massachusetts Senator John Kerry in the New Hampshire primary. (AP)

St. Johnsbury cancer treatment center approved
A new cancer treatment center for residents of the upper Connecticut River Valley is one step closer to reality. (AP)

Drug treatment facility planned for Bradford
Vermont health officials are going to put the state’s new drug treatment facility in the town of Bradford. Health Commissioner Paul Jarris announced the move on Thursday. (AP)

Canadian agreements signed
Quebec Premier Jean Charest and Vermont Governor Jim Douglas have signed a series of agreements. They’re designed to foster cooperation on border security, disaster assistance and water protection. Douglas led a trade mission to three cities in Quebec that included a stop at the Parliament Building for a meeting with Charest. (AP)

Rockingham sued by utilities
Vermont’s two largest electric utilities are suing the town of Rockingham. They want to block the town’s efforts to form a municipal utility that would take over the private companies’ property. Green Mountain Power Corporation filed the suit and was joined by Central Vermont Public Service Corporation. (AP)

Education costs
Nearly 30 unfunded state and federal education requirements are driving up costs for Vermont school districts. That’s the conclusion of a new report that was ordered by the Legislature and done by Vermont school officials. (AP)

Dean fundraiser in Texas
Howard Dean swept into President Bush’s home state with a strong round of criticism on Thursday. The former Vermont governor held a fund-raiser in Dallas that cost $150 per plate. He blasted the president for the Iraq war and his health care and tax policies. (AP)

Global warming and ski resorts
A new United Nations report that says the world’s ski areas are threatened by global warming isn’t putting a chill on the Vermont ski industry now. Vermont’s ski resorts are gearing up for what officials hope will be a cold, snowy winter. (AP)

Good News Garage expansion
There’s some good news at Burlington’s Good News Garage. The organization that helps needy Vermonters find affordable transportation has expanded its eligibility requirements. So now more people will be eligible to receive free or reduced priced vehicles. (AP)

Town logo contest
The village of Essex Junction is hoping a new logo will give the community an easily recognizable sense of place. Essex Junction village residents are voting this month to choose among five finalists in a logo-design contest. (AP)

Fatal car crash
Marion Norris of Bristol was killed in a traffic crash on Thursday, but her four-year-old son, who was in the car at the time of the crash, survived with minor injuries. State police say squalls left a thin, icy covering of snow on roads. Norris’ car went out of control on a town road in Monkton. (AP)

Bank robbery indictment
A federal grand jury has indicted a man for the armed robbery of the Merchants Bank branch in Groton. Forty-five-year-old Douglas Allen is accused of holding up the bank on November 24 after displaying for a teller a pistol in the waistband of his pants. (AP)

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