February 17, 2005 – News at a glance

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Random searches on ferry ruled legal
A challenge to security searches on the Lake Champlain Ferry has been struck down in federal court. (VPR)

Bottle deposit law may be updated
The Vermont Grocers’ Association says it will oppose legislation to expand the state’s bottle deposit law. The grocers say the proposal is unnecessary because of the success of mandatory recycling programs throughout the state. Supporters of the bill strongly disagree with the analysis. (VPR)

Towns urge lawmakers against shifting tax burden
Several hundred local officials converged on the Statehouse on Wednesday to urge lawmakers not to shift the burden of paying for state programs to local property taxpayers. (VPR)

Leahy backs Jeffords’ re-election bid
U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy says he’ll back the re-election of his independent colleague, Jim Jeffords. Leahy’s comment comes on the heels of word from Republican Governor Jim Douglas that he will support Jeffords’ re-election. (AP)

Chemical spill sickens 20 at UVM laboratory
A University of Vermont building is closed today after a laboratory chemical spill. About 20 people were sickened with symptoms including headaches and nausea. UVM spokesman Enrique Corredera says everyone was okay after getting out of the building and breathing fresh air. (AP)

New corrections commissioner
The top mental health official in Vermont is leaving her post. Susan Wehry has been the deputy commissioner of health for mental health, overseeing the efforts to fix problems at the state hospital in Waterbury. Human Services Secretary Charles Smith announced on Thursday that Wehry will become health services director for the Department of Corrections. In that position she will supervise the medical and psychiatric care provided to inmates. (AP)

Town meeting curriculum
Vermont’s secretary of state is promoting a new school curriculum around the state’s Town Meeting Day traditions. Deborah Markowitz says she’s making three different versions of the materials available for schools to use from early elementary grades through middle school. (AP)

Dean political attacks
Howard Dean is calling on New York’s Republican chairman to apologize or quit over remarks he made linking Democrats to a civil rights lawyer convicted of aiding terrorists. New York GOP Chairman Stephen Minarik said on Monday the Democrats are the party of Barbara Boxer, Lynne Stewart and Howard Dean. (AP)

Public broadcasting chief resigns
PBS chief Pat Mitchell, under fire for spending public money on a cartoon show that featured two lesbian couples from Vermont, will step down when her contract expires in June 2006. Mitchell, the nonprofit network’s fifth president and chief executive officer, had faced significant fund-raising challenges. (AP)

Ferrisburgh Grange arson
Police are searching for the person who started the fire that destroyed the historic Ferrisburgh Grange hall. The fire came weeks before the start of a restoration project that was to turn the building into town offices. The Grange fire followed a barn fire. (AP)

Energizer hiring in St. Albans
The battery business is booming in St. Albans. Energizer Holdings is planning to hire 50 workers to meet a growing demand for batteries to power electronic equipment like digital cameras. The plant has more than doubled its lithium battery manufacturing capacity. (AP)

Brattleboro embezzlement charges
A 53-year-old Brattleboro woman faces multiple embezzlement counts for allegedly taking money from a local company. Police say they arrested Patricia Buzby on Thursday in connection with more than $7,000 that disappeared from a Brattleboro business last year. (AP)

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