May 3, 2004 – News at a glance

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Brattleboro Reformer
For almost a century the Brattleboro Reformer has been the spirited voice of Vermont’s southeast corner. Now it’s owned by one of the nation’s largest media chains. Recent firings by the Denver-based owner have raised questions about a local paper’s role – and obligation – to the local community. (VPR)

Hospital whistle-blower bill
The Vermont House this week is to take up a Senate-passed bill to protect hospital and nursing home workers who blow the whistle on substandard care. The bill would offer the workers new legal protections against retaliation if they go outside the workplace to report serious problems. (AP)

Legislative adjournment
It’s May, and Vermont’s lawmakers are wondering how much longer it will be before they can adjourn for the year. A joint House and Senate committee is examining the measure whose approval traditionally signals the end of the legislative session: the budget. (AP)

Connecticut River hydro dams
A special commission is meeting on a deal that could have Vermont buy hydroelectric dams on the Connecticut and Deerfield rivers. Administration Secretary Michael Smith says the state is close to signing an agreement with a partner or partners. (AP)

Ticonderoga tire chip burn
International Paper is hoping to do a test burn of tire chips at its Ticonderoga, New York, plant this summer. Vermont officials are already testing air quality in Addison County, which is downwind from the plant, to measure background levels of any pollutants. (AP)

Mount Ascutney Hospital expansion
Windsor’s Mount Ascutney Hospital is planning an almost $6.4 million expansion that would either renovate or add more than 12,000 square feet in the surgical unit and several departments. The project requires state approval. (AP)

Companies settle environmental fines
The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources has settled with three companies accused of environmental violations. The settlements with the Hardwick Electronic Company, a Colchester truck seller and a Cavendish quarry range from $2,000 to $15,000. (AP)

Green-Up Day
Vermont’s a little bit tidier, thanks to the efforts of thousands of volunteers. Green-Up Day – the annual statewide spring cleaning started in 1970 – brought out an estimated 15,000 volunteers across Vermont this weekend. (AP)

Car racing season begins
Pat and Phil Halpin live on a pond in West Danville but spend most of their summer weekends away. They’re among dozens of people who started the summer motor racing season this weekend by camping out at the Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre. (AP)

Rutland retirement packages
The city of Rutland is trying to trim expenses by offering early retirements to some long-time employees. City workers who are at least 55 or who have a combined age and years of experience of 75 or 80, depending on the department, are eligible for the buyout packages. (AP)

Printing press union contract
Union workers at Capital City Press in Berlin have a new contract that will boost wages and give employees a pension plan for the first time. The contract is the result of a month of negotiations. (AP)

Bennington historic restoration
The renovation of a historic building in Bennington is under way. Built in 1920, the two-story Bennington Garage is being expanded to house the Vermont Department of Health. (AP)

Newfane tunnel discovered
A brick-lined tunnel recently discovered underneath a Newfane inn has got a lot of people scratching their heads. Some say the tunnel may have been used for the Underground Railroad; others aren’t so sure. (AP)

Old Man of the Mountain
The Old Man of the Mountain fell from its rocky perch in Franconia, New Hampshire one year ago Monday. Several activities pay tribute to the state symbol start Monday morning with the unveiling of viewfinders at the Old Man of the Mountain viewing site. (AP)

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