November 22, 2002 – News at a glance

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Interview: orientation for new legislators
Steve Delaney talks with incoming legislator Mitzi Johnson of grand Isle. Johnson will be participating in “freshman orientation” for new Vermont legislators. (Listen to the interview online.) (VPR)

Diocese reporting policy
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington says it was mistaken when it said last week that it would no longer immediately report sexual abuse allegations to authorities. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Hospital oversight
Vermont’s top health care regulator says the oversight system needs to be strengthened to avoid future cases of hospitals misleading state agencies. But Banking and Insurance Commissioner Elizabeth Costle disagrees with Governor-elect Jim Douglas who says that the state should have asked harder questions of Fletcher Allen. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

School vouchers lawsuit
The Institute for Justice, a Washington-based advocacy group that promotes school choice, says it plans to sue the state of Vermont. The group wants to overturn a Vermont Supreme Court decision that prevents state tax dollars from being used to pay tuition at religious schools. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

School pesticide use
The Vermont Public Interest Research Group has released a study on the use of pesticides at school across the state. VPIRG says the use of pesticides can lead to health risks in children. (VPR)

Amtrak sues Bombardier
Amtrak is suing Bombardier Incorporated, the maker of its high-speed Acela Express train. Amtrak wants more than $200 million in damages for what it calls “extraordinary delays and pervasive failures” in carrying out the contract to build 20 of the sleek trains. Bombardier worked on the Acela cars at its Barre, Vermont, plant. (AP)

Cell phone company sues Charlotte
A cell phone service provider is asking a federal judge to let it install transmitters on farm silos in Charlotte. Independent Wireless One is suing the town, which denied it permission to install the transmitters because the town is already served by two cell phone companies. Independent Wireless says that’s discrimination. (AP)

Montpelier-St. Johnsbury cell service
Cellular phone communication between Montpelier and Saint Johnsbury should get better when new towers are built. The permits have been issued to allow construction of 100-foot towers in West Danville and Saint Johnsbury. There’s no word on when construction will begin. (AP)

Airport economics
A study released this week says that Vermont’s airports contribute nearly $612 million a year to the state’s economy. Vermont has ten state airports, two municipal airports and five private airports that are available for public use. (AP)

Springfield prison
Construction on Vermont’s newest prison should be finished by the middle of next year. The Corrections Department is expected to take control of the $26 million, 350-bed prison in September. But it remains unclear when the first inmates will arrive. (AP)

Wal-Mart protest
Vermonters joined in nationwide protests against the Wal-Mart chain Thursday. Wal-Mart is the world’s largest private company with 1.3 million employees and $218 billion in sales last year. None of Wal-Mart’s workers belongs to a union. (AP)

Wood products company expanding
A wood products company from Braintree is hoping to move into a Randolph building. The factory was vacated by Ethan Allen furniture in June. Green Mountain Wood Products is close to closing a deal to buy the plant. The company hopes to double its work force to about 70 people. Green Mountain Wood Products custom builds parts for everything from furniture to children’s toys. (AP)

Currency smuggling
Two Canadian men are being held without bail after they were charged with trying to smuggle more than $200,000 in U.S. currency into Canada. Federal prosecutors say police in Pownal stopped Pascal Bouchard and Sebastien Renoux, both from Quebec, last month. (AP)

UVM discrimination
The University of Vermont has begun disciplinary proceedings against a campus police officer who detained a minority student at gunpoint. The officer was searching for a robbery suspect, who was described as a black male. The officer briefly detained and then handcuffed a black female. (AP)

Civil union benefits in NH
The School Board in Lebanon, New Hampshire is considering offering health insurance benefits to same-sex couples joined in Vermont civil unions. School Superintendent Mike Harris says the request was prompted by a teacher joined in a Vermont civil union. (AP)

Burlington mayor’s race
The president of the Burlington City Council wants the top job. Democrat Andy Montroll announced yesterday he would run for mayor, a post held by Progressive Peter Clavelle. Montroll says he would focus on growth and quality of life issues. (AP)

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