October 20, 2004 – News at a glance

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Non-resident voting status called into question
A group of non-resident property owners wants its members to become more active in local election decisions, in part, to help reduce property tax burdens. But the Vermont Tax Department says the group may be distributing inaccurate information about voting and taxpayer liability. (VPR)

Legislature’s role in lt. gov. race
All three major party candidates for lieutenant governor are refusing to take a pledge to urge the Legislature to vote for the candidate who receives the most votes, in the event that the race is thrown to the General Assembly. That would happen if no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote on November 2. (VPR)

State environmental officials struggle with Water Board ruling
Vermont environmental officials are scrambling to deal with a Water Resources Board ruling that imposed new stormwater permit requirements on developers. The Douglas administration says the ruling could unravel years of work to clean up damaged streams. But the environmental group that led the litigation says the decision should hold the state and developers accountable for water pollution. (VPR)

Vermont cattle test negative for BSE
Since the beginning of this year, hundreds of cattle in Vermont have been tested for Mad Cow Disease. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE is a degenerative neurological disease that has never been found in Vermont. (VPR)

‘Before You Know Kindness:’ Interview with Chris Bohjalian
A new novel by Vermont author Chris Bohjalian explores how three generations of one family struggle to come to terms with tragedy. “Before You Know Kindness” opens with a jammed hunting rifle falling into the wrong hands at the wrong time. Bohjalian takes us behind the scenes to unveil how each family member deals with the accident, and how our ideals can conflict with matters of the heart. (AP)

Immigration office changes procedures
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Saint Albans is changing the way it meets with people. Starting November 1, people will be required to have an appointment before they arrive. And the only way to make an appointment will be through an Internet-based system called InfoPass. (AP)

Teacher of the year
An elementary and middle school language arts teacher from Barre is Vermont’s 2005 teacher of the year. Karen Heath has been a teacher for 20 years, 16 of them in Vermont. She has worked with students of all ages, from preschoolers to adults. (AP)

Controversial political ads
The Vermont Democratic Party has turned to the state’s television stations to stop Republican advertising for Governor Jim Douglas. State Democrats contend the ads by the Republican Governors Association violate state campaign finance law. Democratic Executive Director Jon Copans wrote on Tuesday to the general managers of three television stations asking them to pull the ads. Douglas says it would be illegal for him to communicate with the people putting on the ad. And Douglas says the Democrats are accepting a lot of out of state money for this campaign. (AP)

Cell phone jamming
Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy and Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy are asking Attorney General John Ashcroft to stay out of dispute over the illegal jamming of telephones in New Hampshire during the 2002 election. Several investigations are under way. (AP)

Home heating prices
Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords wants the U.S. Energy Department to keep a close watch on home heating prices this winter. He says that needs to be done to ensure the department has the information necessary to determine whether it should tap into the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve. (AP)

Bellows Falls arson
A Bellows Falls man has been charged with starting a house fire earlier this month. Forty-three-year-old Arthur Parker faces charges of arson and burglary. Police say Parker set a fire in the living room that destroyed a two-story house on October 8. (AP)

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