February 11, 2003 – News at a glance

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VA clinic appropriation
Congressman Bernie Sanders has obtained a half million dollar appropriation to improve services at a Veterans’ Administration clinic in Chittenden County. (VPR)

Green Mountain Racetrack
Backers of a plan to expand simulcast betting at the Green Mountain Racetrack in Pownal say they’re ready to negotiate a compromise with the Douglas administration. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Organic dairy industry
Despite the hard times in the dairy industry, some farmers at a forum in Burlington Monday found reasons to be hopeful. Organic dairy farmers are paid almost twice as much as their conventional counterparts. And while converting to organic agriculture isn’t the answer for everyone, farmers say the market for organic milk is growing fast. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Hope for new dairy compact
Congressman Bernie Sanders says that, ironically, the growing federal budget deficit may actually help Vermont farmers. (VPR)

Federal election reform
Secretary of State Deb Markowitz has convened a special committee to help the state implement a new federal election reform law. The legislation was signed into law by President Bush last November. (VPR)

Tax revenue
State tax receipts are running close to target through the first seven months of the fiscal year. The state General Fund has taken in more than $524 million since July 1. It’s about on par with what economists had forecast. (AP)

Douglas appointee
Governor Jim Douglas is adding more bankers to his economic team. Banknorth Senior Vice President Michael Quinn will become the state’s new commissioner of economic development. Quinn has worked in the banking industry since 1974, and has been at Banknorth for 12 years. (AP)

Central Vermont rail
The Washington County Railroad wants to run the rail line between White River Junction and Newport. The state made the central Vermont company the interim, six-month operator of the line last month. Some freight still moves on the line. (AP)

State budget
Budget writers in the Vermont House want to get the state into Powerball or another national lottery quickly. The House Appropriations Committee voted yesterday to include the lottery provision in a mid-year budget-adjustment bill. (AP)

Dental hygienist school
Governor Jim Douglas is going to bat to keep Vermont’s only school for dental hygienists. The University of Vermont says a tight budget is forcing it to cut the two-year program. It could go to Vermont Technical College, but the college needs $350,000. (AP)

Contractor fraud case
A Rutland siding contractor has been ordered to pay $75,000 in restitution for defrauding customers. Forty-eight-year-old David Kantorski also was given five years probation after pleading guilty in Vermont District Court Monday to two charges of false pretense and three counts of passing bad checks. (AP)

School choice
School choice advocates says the state needs to make it possible for students at underachieving public schools to attend other schools. A new federal law allows students in schools identified as needing improvement to choose other schools in their district. Deputy Education Commissioner Bud Meyers says that at the six Vermont schools in that category, there aren’t any other options. Vermont’s current schools identified as needing improvement under the federal law are: Belvidere Central School, Eden Central School, Hazen Union High School in Hardwick, Mount Anthony Middle School and Mount Anthony Union High School in Bennington, and Bellows Falls Middle School.

Housing discrimination
A Burlington property management company is being sued for allegedly rejecting low-income tenants who qualify for federal Section eight housing assistance. The state Human Rights Commission and Vermont Legal Aid are suing Preston Property Management and Leasing Services. (AP)

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