May 17, 2004 – News at a glance

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Human Services Agency prepares for reorganization
The Human Services Agency is Vermont’s largest government agency, employing more than 3,000 people. It provides a wide range of services – from welfare and mental health, to help for the disabled. It also includes the Department of Health and the Department of Corrections. A major overhaul of the agency got the go-ahead from the Vermont Legislature at the end of this year’s session. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Interview: Businesses for Social Responsibility conference
The annual Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility conference starts Tuesday in Burlington. More than 350 people are expected to attend presentations centered on the idea of fostering a business ethic that, according to the organization’s mission statement, sets a high standard for protecting the natural, human and economic environments of Vermonters. Mitch Wertlieb talks with VBSR director Spence Putnam about the conference. (Listen to the interview online.) (VPR)

Legislature to adjourn this week
House and Senate conferees working on Vermont’s general fund budget for next fiscal year expect to reach agreement on Tuesday. That could set lawmakers up to adjourn for the year on Wednesday or Thursday. (AP)

Circ Highway funds
Vermont lawmakers are going to be trying this week to decide how to use the $33 million freed up by the end of the Chittenden County Circumferential Highway. A House-Senate conference committee spent Friday trying to figure out ways to divvy up the funds. (AP)

Drunken boating penalty
Two Vermont state senators want to make penalties for boating while intoxicated similar to those imposed for driving while intoxicated. Senator John Campbell and Vincent Illuzzi say they expect to have a proposal ready by the time the Legislature reconvenes in January. (AP)

Pre-school spending
Legislation setting up incentives for communities to start preschools died this year, but some Vermont school districts are moving ahead anyway. Vermont school districts reported spending about $18 million on preschools last year. (AP)

Barre firefighter expenses
The Barre City Council is considering a plan to save money by hiring three new firefighters. Officials say the $165,000 price tag would save about $170,000 in overtime costs. (AP)

South Burlington bridge repair
Voters in South Burlington are headed to the polls Tuesday to decide whether to repair the Lime Kiln Bridge. City Public Works Director Bruce Hoar says if the proposal is rejected the Lime Kiln Bridge will probably be closed. (AP)

Burlington housing rule
City officials in Burlington appear to have been caught off guard by the conversion of a home on a residential street into a group home. Seven men trying to kick alcohol or other drugs have moved in since April 4, and the North Willard Street building’s owner says five more are expected to join them. (AP)

T-shirt controversy
A Williamstown seventh-grader says he was suspended from school for wearing a T-shirt that criticized President Bush. Thirteen-year-old Zachary Guiles says he wasn’t allowed to go on a class field trip Wednesday because he refused to cover portions of the shirt. (AP)

Peace flag controversy
A Rutland man says the sight of a peace symbol in place of stars on an American flag prompted him to take the flag from an anti-war protester. Graeme Rockefeller says he associates the symbol with hate for Vietnam veterans. (AP)

“Military Families Speak Out”
A Waitsfield woman whose son is in Iraq is organizing a Vermont chapter of Military Families Speak Out. Nancy Brown says she hopes to pressure the country’s leaders to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. Brown’s son is in Iraq with the Vermont National Guard. (AP)

Gelineau posthumous degree
A Maine National Guard soldier killed when his convoy was ambushed in Iraq was awarded a posthumous degree at the University of Southern Maine. Lavinia Gelineau accepted the diploma for her late husband, Christopher Gelineau, originally of Starksboro, Vermont. (AP)

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