July 29, 2002 – News at a glance

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Transportation agency error
The Vermont Agency of Transportation is in trouble with another arm of state government. The Natural Resources Agency is investigating an incident this spring in which one of its contractors apparently filled in part of a state-protected wetland. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Sounds of Vermont: the drive-in
Five-dollar double features under the stars aren’t yet a thing of the past. You’ll find them every summer weekend at the Randall Drive-In in Bethel. The Randall is one of only four drive-in theaters left in Vermont. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Potassium iodide demand is low
People who live near the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in southern Vermont are not rushing to get hold of iodide pills that were recently made available by the federal government. Potassium iodide is recommended for use after nuclear accidents to prevent some of the problems associated with exposure to radiation. (AP)

Civil union announcements
The publisher of a North Carolina newspaper says he will continue to run civil union announcements if asked. Charles Broadwell is publisher of the Fayetteville Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina. Last Sunday, his paper ran an announcement from two men who traveled to Vermont for a civil union in June. Many people complained. (AP)

Out-of-state prisoners in Virginia
State officials in Virginia say losing out-of-state inmates is hurting the state’s bottom line. Several states and the federal Bureau of Prisons have been housing inmates in Virginia in recent years because of overcrowding elsewhere. Vermont has 380 inmates there; Connecticut has 500. New Mexico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii, and Florida also have inmates in Virginia. (AP)

Human Services budget cuts
The state Agency of Human Services is bracing for more than $6 million worth of budget cuts that could include employee layoffs. Officials preparing a new budgetary report for the agency say several cost-cutting approaches have been explored in recent weeks. Measures include the elimination of services and entire programs, and smaller cuts elsewhere in the agency. (AP)

More priests under review
The state is investigating sexual misconduct charges against two more current Catholic priests and 16 more non-practicing peers. That brings the total number of Vermont clergy under review to 38. Their names and the charges against them will only be released if the state prosecutes the cases in court. (AP)

Stunted corn crop
Rain has stunted this year’s corn crop in several parts of Vermont. Farmers and industry experts say the problem is most severe in Franklin County. The corn is usually more than five feet high by this time of year, but this year it’s about knee-high. Many farmers are saying the rain has slowed its growth or stopped it altogether. (AP)

Debt reduction center
The Vermont Attorney General’s office says it hopes to shut down the Daly Law Centers, a debt reduction firm in Bennington. Daly Law Centers promises to reduce consumer debts by 50% to 70%. It takes 28% of the customer’s savings as its fee. (AP)

Rockingham tax rate
The chairman of the Rockingham Selectboard has asked the state to investigate what he feels could be a $600,000 mistake in the village tax bill. Chairman Russell Capron says his interest was sparked when he learned the overall Bellows Falls village property tax rate was up 18 cents. Capron says the amount approved by voters as part of the town education budget is less than the amount submitted to Montpelier. He wonders if an incorrect figure was used in the way state education funds were calculated. But school district officials say the numbers are right. (AP)

Grand Isle budget woes
It’s harder to find the library open in Grand Isle or find time to register to vote. The town library’s hours have been cut from 20 hours a week to seven and the town clerk’s office is open 20% less than it was. The reduced services are the result of austerity measures imposed by the town after voters failed twice to approve a town budget. Voters are headed to the polls next week to try again. The budget defeats came amid criticism over rising town legal fees, staff raises and complaints that the town clerk’s daughter and husband are working part-time at town offices. (AP)

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