January 12, 2004 – News at a glance

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Dean’s religion examined
Recently, critics have claimed that Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean “got religion” on the campaign trail. But the minister at Dean’s Congregational Church says that Democratic front-runner has deeply held and long-standing religious beliefs. His pastor also says that religion played an important part in Dean’s decision to support Vermont’s historic civil unions law. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

UVM wrongful death suit
The substance abuse center at the University of Vermont faces a wrongful death suit stemming from a traffic accident two years ago. A patient at the center killed three people while driving home after being given a drug to treat his heroin addiction. The suit says UVM officials ignored safeguards and should have known the drug would make the patient drowsy. But prosecutors have charged the driver with manslaughter. And UVM says it’s not responsible for the accident. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Interview: ECHO environmental design award
The ECHO building at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain on Burlington’s waterfront has the honor of receiving Vermont’s first “Green Building Certification” from the U.S. Green Building Council. It’s also among the first 70 buildings nationwide to be recognized as a “LEED” building – or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The official announcement will come at a press conference later Monday morning. Mitch Wertlieb talks with Falen Fretz, ECHO’s executive director. (Listen to the interview online.) (VPR)

NPR Interview: Howard Dean’s record in Vermont
NPR’s Steve Inskeep talks with VPR’s Bob Kinzel about Howard Dean’s national persona as a Democratic presidential candidate, and his local record as governor of Vermont. (Listen to the interview online.) (NPR)

Dean criticized on diversity
Howard Dean has been put on the defensive over the racial makeup of his administration. Dean was challenged at a Democratic presidential candidates’ debate in Iowa on Sunday. The Reverend Al Sharpton asked him if he had had any minorities in his Cabinet. Dean said he had a minority on his senior staff. He later conceded he had no minorities in his cabinet. (AP)

One week till Iowa caucuses
Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean is heading into his final week of campaigning before the Iowa caucuses. Dean was in Iowa over the weekend with former Vice President Al Gore and Iowa Senator Tom Harkin. The Iowa caucuses are a week from Monday. (AP)

Dean holds lead in Iowa, NH
New campaign polls indicate that Howard Dean is holding a slight lead in Iowa, with a week to go before that state’s Democratic presidential caucuses. The polls also show the former Vermont governor is holding his dominant position in New Hampshire. (AP)

Vermont Yankee uprate
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission wants to know more about plans by the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant to increase power production by 20 percent. The NRC says officials don’t have enough information to be sure the power increase proposal is safe. (AP)

Energy conservation savings
State Auditor Elizabeth Ready says the state of Vermont can save up to $2.7 million a year by saving energy. Buildings Commissioner Thomas Torti says many of Ready’s recommendations have already been set in motion. (AP)

High school GED
More Vermonters are passing the General Equivalency Degree to get their high school diplomas. But fewer people took the test last year than they did in 2002. The number of people who took the GED in Vermont last year was down about 25 percent over 2002. (AP)

Unwritten agreement not binding
The Vermont Supreme Court says a mediation agreement for access to a quarry is not binding because it was never put in writing. The court ruled in favor of Fred and Sue Ellen Reed, owners of the Catamount Slate operation in Fair Haven. The ruling is opposite one made by Rutland Superior Court in July 2002. A judge ruled then that a mediation agreement reached with ten neighbors was binding and that the Reeds must follow it. The case now makes its way back to Rutland Superior Court for review. (AP)

Williston public safety
Voters in Williston could cast their ballots this spring on a plan for a $7 million public safety project. The project would include a new fire station at Taft Corners, near where most of the town’s population lives. (AP)

Brattleboro labor contract
The town of Brattleboro and a union representing 37 town employees have a new labor contract. It took a year of negotiations, but the town and the union agreed on a three-year contract that will give workers a raise of more than eight percent. (AP)

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