November 29, 2004 – News at a glance

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Interview: Flaws in the U.S. presidential election
“November 2, 2004: The most dishonest election.” That’s the provocative title of a discussion to be led by Adam Clymer at the University of Vermont this evening. Clymer spent 26 years working as a journalist for the New York Times and is currently the Washington director of the Annenberg Center for Public Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. Mitch Wertlieb talks with Clymer about his talk on the U.S. presidential election. (VPR)

Christmas tree growers
The rush of the holidays has arrived for some Vermonters. The state’s Christmas tree growers are very busy. (VPR)

Mental health funding
Governor Jim Douglas is considering a plan that would boost spending on mental health agencies by 7.5 percent in each of the next three years. The plan is intended to avert the strife over funding that last winter brought busloads of clients and workers to a rally at the Statehouse. (AP)

Hartford marine killed
A 20-year-old Marine from Hartford, Vermont, has been killed in fighting in the Iraqi city of Fallujah. Jeffery Holmes was killed on Thanksgiving Day. The Marine’s parents, Scott and Patti Holmes, say they were informed Friday by the military. (AP)

Trees donated to military families
Members of the Vermont-New Hampshire Christmas Tree Association are donating trees this holiday season to the families of military service members serving in Iraq. The association says 500 trees will be donated. The idea for the donation came up at a spring meeting of the association and the vote in favor was unanimous. The trees are being distributed through the Vermont National Guard’s family assistance program. (AP)

Winds knock out power
High winds that lashed Vermont on Sunday knocked out power for several thousand people in central and western parts of the state. Washington Electric Co-Op says it had about 12,050 customers who lost power during the day. Central Vermont Public Service company says about 8,900 customers were without service at one point. (AP)

Services for low-income people strained
Times have gotten tough for some of the agencies that provide housing and food to Vermonters who can’t afford it themselves. Instead of a full meal, the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf has started serving only soup on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Warmth program will hand out aid to families in danger of losing their heat in installments of $50 instead of $75. The Committee on Temporary Shelter had to close its Rental Opportunity Shelter when federal money stopped flowing. (AP)

Home heating assistance
Demand for help among low-income Vermonters in heating their homes is as high as ever. The Vermont Division of Economic Services reports the state has received 22,500 applications for federal fuel assistance as of last week. The office has processed 19,000 applications, approving 15,000 and denying the rest for income eligibility reasons. (AP)

Holiday program for seniors
A new program is designed to take holiday cheer to Vermont senior citizens. It’s called “Be a Santa to a Senior.” Displays have been set up in many stores in Chittenden County. Seniors who will be alone for the holiday can tell what gift they’d like and a shopper can buy it and leave it for them at the store. Volunteers will pick it up, wrap it and deliver it to the senior. (AP)

Country store network
Vermont’s country general stores have banded together to help themselves compete. About 55 of the 100 independent country stores in the state have formed the Alliance of Independent Country Stores. It serves primarily as a support network, sounding board and marketing tool for owners. (AP)

Medical supplies for Cuba
A Northeast Kingdom man’s curiosity about travel has developed into a mission of providing medical supplies to Cuba. Rick Schwag traveled to Cuba in 1995. He returned the following year and that led to a career change from real estate. Schwag founded Caribbean Medical Transport, a nonprofit, Vermont-based organization. It’s dedicated to the shipment of donated medicine and medical equipment to Cuba. (AP)

Rutland parking garage
Plans to demolish a downtown Rutland parking deck and replace it with a new store have been delayed. The District 1 Environmental Commission has approved Heritage Realty’s proposal to knock down the three-story parking deck. But it says the 13,500-square-foot store that would replace it cannot have outdoor merchandise displays, shopping cart storage or vending machines. Heritage Realty has asked the commission to alter that condition. (AP)

Burlington waterfront development
A federally backed anti-poverty loan is being used to lure Cornell Trading Company to build its new world headquarters near Burlington’s downtown waterfront. The 700,000 loan to the city would be repaid to a private lender from taxes Cornell pays on the property. The money would be used to improve the street, intersection and sidewalks nearby. (AP)

Diocese waterfront property
Vermont’s Roman Catholic Diocese has backed away from a plan to develop 32 acres it owns on the Lake Champlain waterfront in Burlington. Bishop Kenneth Angell says church officials couldn’t dedicate enough time to the project, which was first made public in August 2001. He says they have been preoccupied by the events of September 11, and the priest sex abuse scandal. (AP)

Drag race kills three
Three people were killed over the weekend in a head-on crash that police say started with a drag race. Police say 23-year-old Tyler Gilbert was chasing another car on Saturday when he crossed the center line. His car struck a car driven by 35-year-old Laura Sears Davis, 35, of Dummerston. Davis and a passenger, 46-year-old Brian Davis, were killed. (AP)

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