March 2, 2005 – News at a glance

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Vermont towns see Iraq war as local issue
In Vermont, almost 50 towns have opposed the use of the National Guard for the war in Iraq. The votes came during the state’s traditional grass-roots meetings in which the hot topics are usually school budgets or the purchase of a new town truck. But this year, the Iraq War was a local issue too. (NPR.)

Towns approve school budgets, despite increases
It appears school budgets around the state generally fared well at town meeting, with little debate. That’s despite the fact that, statewide, budgets increased an average of 6.5 percent. VPR’s Steve Zind visited one town to see how voters would deal with a proposed school budget hike. (VPR)

Killington supports secession effort
The town of Killington will push ahead with efforts to secede from Vermont. A resolution directing the town selectmen to stop efforts to join New Hampshire was defeated by town meeting voters 117 to 45. Local officials have been threatening to leave Vermont because of what they call unfairly high property taxes. Debate on the issue got ugly. (VPR)

Rutland moves forward with railyard project
A $100 million railyard relocation project that’s been proposed for Rutland City and Rutland Town got a boost from the voters. Rutland City approved a redevelopment plan that includes the project by a nearly two to one margin, but the vote in Rutland Town was much closer. (VPR)

Sounds of Town Meeting Day
Town Meeting Day brings together many people, issues and sounds. It takes all of these to make up the distinctive tradition of Vermont’s grass roots democracy. VPR’s Betty Smith was with the hundred voters who turned out in West Windsor on a snowy morning and filed this audio postcard. (VPR)

National Guard resolution finds support
Towns that considered an anti-Iraq war resolution at their town meetings are overwhelmingly voting in favor of it. More than 50 communities voted on a resolution questioning the use of National Guard troops in the Iraq war. (VPR)

Towns pass universal health care resolution
It appears that a town meeting resolution in support of universal health care coverage was approved by voters in nearly all of the communities that considered it. The resolution called for local and state officials to support state-financed universal health care. (VPR)

YMCA proposal rejected in Burlington
Burlington voters spoke out strongly against a plan to relocate the YMCA to the city’s waterfront. A referendum on whether the city should sell the old Moran Generating Station on the waterfront to the Greater Burlington YMCA was defeated: 4,743 to 2,693. (VPR)

Rockingham approves restoration plan
Voters in Rockingham have approved a $2.8 million bond issue. The money will be used to restore the historic theater and town office complex in the village of Bellows Falls. (VPR)

Dorset elects new town clerk
Voters in Dorset have a new town clerk. She’s Sandy Pinsonault, a Dorset resident who has worked for six years as assistant town clerk in Manchester. (VPR)

Montpelier school plan
Montpelier voters declined several key ballot items on Tuesday that affect the future of the city’s schools. As VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports, the issues in Montpelier are also being debated in many communities across the state. (VPR)

Winhall rejects secession
In Winhall Tuesday, frustrated taxpayers voted not to pursue becoming part of New Hampshire. But that doesn’t mean they’re happy with Vermont. (VPR)

Universal health care debated
Twenty towns across the state took up a non-binding resolution that calls for the state to support universal health care. One of those towns was Westford, where the resolution passed after some discussion. (VPR)

Leahy still opposed to court nominee
President Bush spent some political capital two weeks ago when he re-nominated federal judges the Senate rejected in his last term. But Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy once again refuses to confirm William Myers for a lifetime appointment to the ninth circuit court of appeals. (CNC)

Winter weather
March came roaring in like a lion across Vermont with lingering snow that may start clearing out later on Wednesday. Most of the state was blanketed with a fresh snowfall in time for Town Meeting day, although totals varied widely. Ludlow reported nine inches of new snow up to early evening on Tuesday. Sutton in the Northeast Kingdom reported less than four inches. (AP)

Home heating assistance
New England states that were hit with snow and cold this winter are getting $7.4 million in additional heating assistance grants. Vermont will get another $541,000. The $50 million released nationwide by the Department of Health and Human Services is part of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. (AP)

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