November 16, 2004 – News at a glance

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Audit of Burlington Diocese
An audit of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington has found four areas where the diocese needs to improve how it deals with the prevention of sexual abuse of minors. (VPR)

Interview: affordable housing
Affordable housing, or the lack of it, has become a nation-wide problem and Vermonters are no exception in feeling the pinch. Only six percent of the new homes sold in Vermont last year were affordable for a family living on the state’s median income. And there are tough signs in the rental market as well, where available vacancy rates are under four percent – the second lowest rate in the country. (VPR)

U.S. Seante Judiciary Committee chair
Vermont U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy says this could be an important week for the future direction of the United States Supreme Court. The Senate Republican caucus is expected to decide if Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter will become the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee. (VPR)

Sanders set to work with Douglas on drug re-importation
Congressman Bernie Sanders wants to work with the Douglas administration to help Vermont join other states in importing prescription drugs from Canada. (VPR)

Rutland rail yard plans
For years the City of Rutland has had plans to move its busy rail yard out of the downtown area. Now, those hundred million dollar plans are firm enough to place before the political decision-makers beginning Monday night, as VPR’s Nina Keck reports. (VPR)

Wind commission draft recommendations
The state can use existing utility law and doesn’t need Act 250 to review wind power projects, but the review process should allow more public participation. Those are the key recommendations in a draft report of the Commission on Wind Energy Regulatory Policy. (AP)

Helicopters patrol Vermont-Canadian border
Residents along Vermont’s border with Canada may notice helicopters flying at night as part of a new U.S. Border Patrol operation. Operation Winter Freeze is designed to catch anyone or anything crossing the border that does not properly check in at a reporting station. (AP)

Bus service may expand to Springfield
Bus service soon may become available to the general public in the Springfield region. Connecticut River Transit has been tapped by the state to expand service in Windham and southern Windsor counties. (AP)

‘Gasp’: interview with Joe Sherman
How often do we think about the air that we breathe? Until now, oxygen has been a muse mainly for scientists and environmentalists. Vermont author Joe Sherman brings air into the mainstream consciousness in his new book, “Gasp! The Swift and Terrible the Beauty of Air.” (VPR)

Home heating assistance
Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords is spearheading a new effort to authorie home heating assistance for this winter. Jeffords had written to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist asking him to make sure a bill providing the money is taken up. Jeffords also wants to make sure that the bill authorizes higher funding levels for the low-income home energy assistance program. (AP)

Methane powered generator
The way has been cleared for the state’s largest methane-powered electrical generator, to be built in the northern Vermont town of Coventry. The District Seven Environmental Commission has given the green light for a subsidiary of Casella Waste Systems to double the size of its landfill in Coventry. That clears the way for Washington Electric Co-operative’s plan to build a methane-powered generator at the site. (AP)

Banknorth minority customers
A Maine-based bank with 31 branches in Vermont is being faulted for underserving minority and low-income consumers. A New York-based group has voiced the criticisms in a formal protest against Banknorth Group’s proposed merger with T.D. Bank Financial Group of Canada. Inner City Press, based in the Bronx, made the complaints in a 15-page filing on Monday with the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, which will rule on the proposed merger. A Banknorth spokesman declined to respond to the criticisms voiced by Inner City Press, saying the company will respond to them as part of the regulatory review process. (AP)

Connecticut River bridge
In Bellows Falls, residents on the west end a deteriorating bridge over the Connecticut River worry that it’s taking too long for repairs. The historic bridge connects North Walpole, NH, to downtown Bellows Falls, Vermont. The bridge is on a list of spans in serious need of repair but work is likely to be years away. (AP)

Dodge opts for murder trial
A Winhall man charged with second-degree murder has rejected the state’s plea bargain offer and its recommended sentence of twelve-and-a-half years to life in prison. Instead, Bruce Dodge has opted for a trial in January. Police say Dodge shot and killed his nephew, Peter Coffin, in October 2003 after they argued over a deer. (AP)

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