March 11, 2005 – News at a glance

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Legislators hear public testimony on health care reform
More than 150 Vermonters packed the House chamber on Thursday night to share their stories and offer their suggestions about improving Vermont’s health care system. (VPR)

Interview: ‘Big Box Development’ focus of law school conference
If Thursday night’s sold out event is any indication, the issue of huge retail stores like Wal-Mart coming to town is still a topic of great interest in Vermont. The two-day symposium and debate on “Small Town America in an Era of Big Box Development” kicked off at the Vermont Law School in South Royalton and continues through Friday, addressing the pressures and opportunities that make up our rapidly changing retail climate. (VPR)

Bennington College program highlights post-Apartheid South Africa
America has been a model of democracy for countries around the world. But the United States’ war of independence is part of long-past history. This week, students in Bennington College’s new Democracy Project are learning and exchanging insights with visitors from South Africa’s black townships. There, the passion for dignity and freedom still burns hot. (VPR)

‘African Sanctus’ debuts in Rutland
This Sunday evening, Rutland’s Grace Congregational Church will be transformed by a unique commingling of sounds. African drumming and chanting will mix with traditional western choral music in a Latin mass. Some 150 singers, musicians, dancers and technicians will join Music Minister Rip Jackson and British composer David Fanshawe to present the Vermont debut of Fanshawe’s “African Sanctus.” (VPR)

Divide widens over Medicaid and health care reform
The battle between Governor Jim Douglas and Senate Democratic leaders over health care reform continues to escalate at the Statehouse. (VPR)

Senate legislation would reduce numbers in Vermont prisons
A bi-partisan group of senators wants to pass legislation this year to reduce the number of people in the state’s prison system. The corrections reform package includes the use of deferred sentences, reduced prison terms for good behavior and a new prison work camp. (VPR)

Conservative lobbying group forms in Vermont
A new conservative government lobbying organization has been formed in Vermont. Its goals are to promote lower taxes, fewer business regulations and smaller state government. (VPR)

Bennington school audits five months overdue
Audits for the Bennington school districts and the supervisory union are five months late and didn’t appear in town reports on Town Meeting Day. (AP)

National Guard equipment
An officer with a National Guard brigade serving in Iraq that includes 65 Vermonters says the unit has the equipment it needs to get the job done. Some family members of the Mississippi-based 155th Brigade Combat team say there have been shortages. A Vermont National Guard spokesperson says none of the Vermont soldiers have complained of equipment problems. The Vermonters are serving near Najaf in southern Iraq. (AP)

Identity theft bill
Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is taking a tough stand against identity theft. Leahy and New York Senator Charles Schumer are calling for new legislation cracking down on careless housing of sensitive information. Leahy’s plan would include “penalty options.” (AP)

Carbon monoxide bill
A House committee has unanimously supported a bill that would require all homes, apartments and hotels to eventually have carbon monoxide detectors. The action comes less than two months after a carbon monoxide leak at a private apartment building at the University of Vermont killed one student and injured several others. (AP)

Nursing school scholarships
The University of Vermont will use a $1.5 million gift to help address a nursing faculty shortage in the state. Stowe’s Freeman Foundation has pledged the money over three years for scholarships for nurses who want to pursue advanced degrees and plan to teach. (AP)

Bennington moose
A pair of fiberglass moose from Bennington found their way to the Statehouse. The colorful beasts served as an invitation to an upcoming festival that will raise money for arts education and serve as a tourism draw to the southwestern corner of the state. (AP)

Burlington homicide clues
Police have discovered evidence linked to the murder of a Burlington woman. On Thursday police collected items near the Burlington Health and Rehabilitation Center on Pearl Street but would not say what that evidence was. (AP)

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