January 13, 2005 – News at a glance

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Dubie explores ambassador post
Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie is exploring whether he can balance his Vermont political duties with a potential appointment to an international aviation post. The appointment is made by the White House. It’s unclear if Dubie would be able to stay on as lieutenant governor if President Bush selects him for this job. (VPR)

Torti named Natural Resources secretary
Governor Jim Douglas has picked an appointee from the Dean administration as his new Secretary of Natural Resources. Douglas named Tom Torti, who has served for eight years as commissioner of state buildings, to head the environmental agency. (VPR)

Transportation secretary asks two managers to step down
Vermont’s new transportation secretary is shaking up the agency. Secretary Dawn Terrill took over in November at an agency that had been rocked by big cost overruns. (AP)

Employment and Training cuts
The commissioner of the Department of Employment and Training says services would improve under a reorganization being proposed by the Douglas administration. Commissioner Patricia McDonald says even though half of the 12 regional offices would close, new facilities would open providing service part-time. (AP)

Transportation Agency cuts
Financial woes at the Vermont Agency of Transportation have agency leaders looking at closing some of its regional offices. A key lawmaker says he’s been told the agency will close regional offices in Newport and Berlin, and an agency spokesman says one in southern Vermont likely will close, too. (AP)

State’s car fleet
The Douglas administration is consolidating management of the state’s fleet of cars. The plan will increase the number of state-owned cars and add more hybrid vehicles. Officials say the switch will reduce the environmental impact, save taxpayers money through bulk purchases, and provide workers with safe, properly maintained vehicles. (AP)

Vermont Yankee uprate
A quasi-judicial arm of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it will look at a concern the state has raised about the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant’s plan to increase its power output. The question concerns whether plant technicians forced to evacuate the control room during an accident could use alternative means to shut down the plant before the core’s cooling water boiled away, possibly leading to a meltdown. (AP)

NH heating assistance
Heating prices are up in New Hampshire, and so are requests for help paying the bill. The state says heating prices are as much as one-third higher than they were at this point last year. Some of the regional agencies that distribute federal fuel aid money say requests for help also have gone up. Statewide, the increase is around four percent. (AP)

St. Albans Review Board
A member of the Saint Albans Town Development Review Board has resigned. William Brunelle says he is upset with comments made by a Selectboard member about the review board’s handling of Wal-Mart’s application for town approval. (AP)

Bennington may buy land for car show
Voters in Bennington will decide on Town Meeting Day whether the town should buy land for a permanent home for a local car show. The car show has been held for the past 18 years at the site of the former Bijur factory. (AP)

Controversial teddy bear
The Vermont Teddy Bear Company says it will continue selling its strait-jacketed “Crazy for You Bear” through Valentine’s Day, despite protests from mental health advocates. The company issued a statement yesterday saying it was sorry if it had offended anyone, and that the bear would be discontinued after Valentine’s Day. (AP)

Lawyer admits stealing from client
A Rutland lawyer has admitted taking nearly $300,000 intended for a client and using the money for his real estate business. John Ruggiero also says he never told the client about the money. (AP)

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