November 3, 2003 – News at a glance

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Wilmington and Whitingham schools
The towns of Wilmington and Whitingham have been talking about combining their high schools for decades. Now, with student populations declining, the issue is on the table again and voters will make their decision on Tuesday. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Theater performances enhanced for blind patrons
There is much more to a live theater performance than words spoken by actors. Visual elements like facial expressions, gestures, props and costumes are also important. Thanks to a technology called audio description, blind and sight-impaired people are able to fully enjoy an increasing number of Vermont theater productions. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Interview: Economic divide in Vermont’s computer use
The number of Vermonters with computers in their homes has increased significantly in the past 10 years, but there’s still a digital divide when it comes to money and computer ownership. That’s the conclusion from the latest “Vermonter Poll” conducted by the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont. Mitch Wertlieb talks with UVM Jane Kolodinsky about the survey. (Listen to the interview online.) (VPR)

Property valuations
Vermont lawmakers say they think they need to change the way the state assigns property valuations. That’s despite a state Supreme Court ruling that affirmed the fairness of the system. Top legislative leaders say they believe there are inequities from one town to another and changes are needed. (AP)

Rutland redevelopment
As Rutland officials begin drawing up a redevelopment plan, they’ve concluded that much of downtown is blighted. Officials from boards and commissions in Rutland City and Town are drawing up a redevelopment plan for the time when a railyard is moved out of the downtown. The first task they’ve set for themselves is to decided what is blighted and in need of improvement. They’ve concluded that much of downtown would qualify for the designation, which can encompass a broad array of conditions. (AP)

Power rate increases
The Vermont Chapter of AARP is questioning a deal in which Green Mountain Power customers see rate increases while its biggest customer , IBM, gets big discounts. The Douglas administration is trying to keep Vermont’s biggest private employer happy by pushing for the discounts. (AP)

Transmission line upgrade
Residents and officials from several towns are expected together Monday night in Vergennes to discuss a power line upgrade. The Vermont Electric Power Corporation wants to upgrade lines and build several new substations between West Rutland and Burlington. (AP)

Dean comments on confederate flag
Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean is catching heat for saying he wants to be the presidential candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks. Dean’s comment was published in Saturday’s Des Moines Register and has prompted a chorus of outrage and derision from the other Democratic contenders. (AP)

Train derailment in Fairlee
Police and fire officials in Fairlee say it’s lucky the derailment of an excursion train carrying 261 passengers didn’t end with cars in the Connecticut River. Cars tilted toward the river, but the train, chartered Saturday by a Boston-area rail enthusiasts’ club, remained perched on tracks leading along the top of a 40-foot embankment with the river at the bottom. (AP)

Guard training flights
Things could get a bit noisy in Vermont’s skies this week. The Vermont Air National Guard has scheduled night training sessions for its pilots each evening this week. (AP)

College file sharing
Officials at Champlain College say students there need some training in “digital ethics” because too many of them aren’t taking seriously federal laws against illegal music and video sharing. As a result, the school says it’s taking a pro active approach to teach students about the legal and ethical ramifications of illegally downloading and sharing copyrighted material. (AP)

Orwell shooting incident
Vermont State Police are investigating a shooting incident in Orwell. Police say no one was hurt when someone fired a shotgun into a home sometime Saturday night or early Sunday. Police did not provide the victims’ identity. Pellets when through two panes of glass in a front window, hit a couch, a television and an interior wall. (AP)

Winooski fire
Officials in Winooski say a fire that gutted the city clerk’s office started in an electrical outlet box. Friday night’s fire has forced the closing of the clerk’s office until Wednesday, when it is to reopen in the city council chambers. (AP)

Heroin dealer sentenced
A heroin dealer arrested a McDonald’s restaurant in Bennington in an undercover sting has been given two to seven years in prison. Twenty-five year old Kenyata Thomas of Albany, New York, pleaded guilty in May to selling heroin. Thomas was carrying 81 bags of heroin at the time of his arrest. (AP)

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