December 9, 2004 – News at a glance

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Employees’ union at odds with administration over contract negotiations
Next week, the state Labor Relations Board will hear an unusual dispute between the Douglas administration and the state employees’ union. The administration wants to punish the union for protesting potential cuts in prescription drug benefits. (VPR)

Dean revisits campaign issues in Washington speech
Howard Dean says the national Democratic Party must reform itself if the Party wants to be competitive in future state and national elections. Dean outlined his basic strategies in a speech in Washington on Wednesday. (VPR)

Competition spurs volunteerism at Vermont Foodbank
Barre, but it’s not what you might think. The Vermont Foodbank has developed the competition, which brings teams of workers together from Vermont businesses. (VPR)

Prison health services
The state has reached a settlement with a Burlington-based mental health company contracted to provide services to inmates that the state claims the company did not provide. Paul Cotton has agreed to return $143,000. (AP)

Vermont State Hospital
The union for state workers is calling for improvements at the Vermont State Hospital. The union has requested new furniture in staff offices, fixing a mold problem, adding more sound-proofing, and expanding the work and training space available to staff. (AP)

FAHC head of nursing resigns
The head nursing officer at the state’s largest hospital has resigned. Mary Botter will leave Fletcher Allen Health Care next month for a new career in health care consulting. The hospital plans to conduct a national search for Botter’s replacement. (AP)

Civil union custody suits
Legal advocates in Virginia are seeking visitation rights for a Vermont woman who was denied custody to her former partner’s child. Janet Miller-Jenkins is appealing a judge’s ruling that granted full custody of the child to biological mother Lisa Miller-Jenkins. Meanwhile a Utah judge has awarded visitation rights to the former partner of a Utah woman who no longer considers herself gay. The couple was joined in a Vermont civil union four years ago, then broke up. (AP)

Lake Champlain clean up
Efforts to clean up Lake Champlain are getting some help from the federal government. President Bush signed a bill on Wednesday into law that includes $6 million for a variety of environmental programs for Lake Champlain. (AP)

Champlain Valley tourism
Tourism around Lake Champlain is getting a boost. The U.S. Senate approved a bill on Wednesday that would establish a National Heritage Partnership for the Champlain Valley. The bill authorizes up to $10 million for projects that will explore, protect and promote the area. (AP)

St. Johnsbury gets fit for the holidays
A St. Johnsbury group is urging area residents to get a head start on their New Year’s resolutions. The Fit and Healthy Coalition of St. Johnsbury is walking the walk to get residents moving with the goal of reducing obesity in the Northeast Kingdom next year. (AP)

Burlington expected to approve new YMCA location
Burlington’s city council is expected to approve a plan this month that would allow an old power station on the city’s waterfront to be remodeled as the city’s new YMCA. (AP)

Hudson River shipwrecks
Scuba divers from Vermont’s Lake Champlain Maritime Museum are helping to explore underwater shipwrecks in New York’s Hudson River. Museum Executive Director Art Cohn says the shipwrecks are historically significant and in relatively good shape. (AP)

Craftsmen allege copying
The owners of Country Glass Shop, in Marshfield, Vermont, are accusing the Christmas Tree Shops of copying their designs. In a federal lawsuit to be filed in Boston on Thursday, the plaintiffs allege that the popular bargain stores mass-produced their crafts in China. (AP)

Sex offender leaves state
Convicted sex offender Douglas Bryant is headed to Alabama after all. A spokeswoman for the Alabama parole board says Bryant will live in Pell City, Alabama, with former Vermonter Wayne “Sonny” Delisle, who was convicted in 1990 of killing a neighbor in 1976. (AP)

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