February 11, 2005 – News at a glance

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State Hospital closing
Mental health advocates are concerned that the state may be moving too fast in its effort to reduce the number of patients being treated at the Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury. (VPR)

Guard, families prepare for soldiers’ return from war
The first group of Vermont Guard members returns this month from Iraq. Officials with the Guard and the state are gearing up to help the soldiers and their families deal with a variety of mental health issues associated with combat. (VPR)

GOP health plan would allow out-of-state insurance
House Republicans have unveiled a health care proposal at the Statehouse that would implement major changes to the state’s health care insurance system. Under the approach, consumers would be allowed to purchase insurance policies from companies doing business in any state in the country – policies that would not include many of Vermont’s insurance mandates. Democrats say the plan will increase premiums for older and less healthy Vermonters. (VPR)

Douglas opposes president’s budget cuts
Governor Jim Douglas says he’s concerned about the impact that President Bush’s budget cuts will have on key programs in Vermont. The governor says he hopes to work with the state’s congressional delegation to overturn many of the cuts. (VPR)

Vermont Guard soldiers return to U.S.
About 185 Vermont Army National Guardsmen and woman are on their way home from Iraq. National Guard spokeswoman Lieutenant Veronica Saffo says the soldiers were in Ireland early Thursday afternoon, where their plane was refueled before their flight to Fort Dix, New Jersey. (AP)

Storm knocks out power to thousands
Thousands of Vermonters are without power on Thursday, mostly on the eastern side of the state. Central Vermont Public Service reports that 4,700 customers were without service Thursday afternoon, with most of them on the eastern side of Central Vermont. That’s down from 8,500 earlier in the day. (AP)

Former Fletcher Allen CFO pleads not guilty
The former chief financial officer of Fletcher Allen Health Care has pleaded not guilty to charges that he concealed the true cost of the hospital’s massive expansion project from state regulators, hospital trustees and the hospital’s bankers. Fifty-year-old David Cox has been charged in a five-count federal indictment. (AP)

Drug re-importation
Governor Jim Douglas is criticizing Democrats in the Legislature for spending a third of the session on legislation allowing Vermonters to buy American-made drugs from abroad. But Democrats say Douglas could have signed an executive order allowing re-importation. (AP)

Douglas won’t sign petition
Governor Douglas says he won’t sign a petition being circulated by his party’s state chairman that criticizes the Vermont congressional delegation for opposing President Bush’s Social Security plan. Douglas says he doesn’t sign petitions. (AP)

Readsboro wind project
A wind energy project planned for Readsboro by a California company is being delayed indefinitely. The company EnXco is re-evaluating its Deerfield Wind project as it decides which of its projects across the country would be most likely to go online this year. (AP)

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