January 14, 2004 – News at a glance

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Four-year terms
The Senate Government Operations Committee plans to hold public hearings throughout the state next month to gauge public support for a four-year term for governor. The proposal might be linked to a plan to implement a four-year term for lawmakers as well. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Interview: Dartmouth doctors in Iran
Members of the advanced response team from the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center have just returned from southeastern Iran, where they helped more than 800 victims of the devastating earthquake that struck the region December 26. The magnitude 6.6 earthquake leveled much of the ancient city of Bam, and killed more than 30,000 people. Mitch Wertlieb talks with Dr. Rob Gougelet, the medical director for the Dartmouth-Hitchcock team. (Listen to the interview online.) (VPR)

Real estate market in 2004
While many Vermont industries have taken economic hits over the past few years – real estate isn’t one of them. Real estate agents across Vermont did pretty well last year, and most expect 2004 to be even better. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Uprate proceeds debated
The Legislature will play a key role in how the state spends a $20 million payment from the new owner of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. The Douglas administration wants to use the money to clean up Lake Champlain and other projects. But top lawmakers want the money to be targeted at economic development, and they want to bring down the cost of electricity. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Interview: Bohjalian’s essays
Chris Bohjalian’s new book, “Idyll Banter,” brings together essays from his weekly newspaper column, which he has been writing since 1992. Neal Charnoff talks with Bohjalian about his new book. (Listen to the interview online.) (VPR)

Right to farm law
A Vermont Farm Bureau official testified on Tuesday that a recent state Supreme Court decision is a very serious threat to Vermont agriculture. (AP)
Extreme cold grips Vermont.

Arctic cold
People across Vermont are coping with the arctic cold and high winds. With temperatures well below zero and high winds, wind chill levels could drop to 50 degrees below zero. Many schools across Vermont delayed their openings on Wednesday. (AP)

Vermont State Hospital
A consultant hired by the state has concluded that the Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury should close. That effectively seconds the motion of the Legislature’s Joint Health Access Oversight Committee, which recently recommended the same thing. (AP)

Dean ahead in NY poll
A new poll gives Howard Dean a commanding lead in New York for the Democratic presidential nomination. Dean has support from 26 percent of Democratic voters surveyed by Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion. Senator Joe Lieberman was second with 12 percent. (AP)

Dean attends Sunday school
Howard Dean is going to Sunday school this weekend in Plains, Georgia. A day before the Iowa caucuses, Dean will go to church with former President Jimmy Carter, and accompany the former president when he teachers Sunday school. (AP)

Hollywood campaigns for Dean
Howard Dean is getting some star-powered help in his run for the presidency. Actor Martin Sheen, who plays President Josiah Bartlet in television’s The West Wing, is joining Hollywood director Rob Reiner for a campaign swing in Iowa. (AP)

Fuel prices rise
Plunging temperatures often mean higher heating fuel prices, and the cold snaps of last week and this are no exception. Vermont’s Department of Public Service, which tracks fuel prices, says the average price of heating oil is at a $1.48 – up 18 cents from a year ago and seven cents just in the past week.

Priest shortage
The head of the Catholic Church in Vermont says big changes are needed to respond to a growing priest shortage. Vermont had 150 priests 50 years ago. It now has 97, and Bishop Kenneth Angell believes it will have about 55 active priests in ten years, with only 30 of them less than 60 years old. (AP)

Chittenden County health center
Thousands of Chittenden County residents are eligible for dental care under a new program. The Community Health Center in Burlington has opened two clinics that will cost more than a (m) million dollars a year to run. The clinics will serve 18-thousand people. (AP)

Water contamination in Milton
Milton lawmakers say they’ll ask the Legislature for a 30-year loan to help fix water problems in one part of town. Engineers say it would cost 750 thousand dollars to connect the area to Milton’s main water supply. The state is offering residents a loan. (AP)

Police chief trains in Israel
The police chief in Hartford is on a four-day trip to Isreal this week to learn about fighting terrorism. Chief Joseph Estey is one of 16 police chiefs and FBI counter-terrorism personnel on a trip sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League. (AP)

Man sentenced for embezzlement
An Albany, New York, man is headed to prison for 10 months for embezzling from his employer, a firm whose owners are accused of stealing from clients. Myron Thomas Junior, 28, a former employee of the Law Centers for Consumer Protection, was sentenced federal court for forging checks from the firm. (AP)

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