October 4, 2004 – News at a glance

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Gubernatorial debate on health care
Governor Jim Douglas and Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle faced off on health care issues Friday night in the latest in a series of gubernatorial debates. (VPR)

The Fall Forest: connection with the trees
Putnam Blodgett often reflects on the history and the health of the Vermont forest. He grew up on a dairy farm in Bradford, and has had a lifelong connection with the trees. The 73-year-old president of the Vermont Woodlands Association spoke about that connection with VPR’s Mitch Wertlieb for our series on the Fall Forest. (VPR)

Bat hibernation
Bats have long been popular objects in horror and Halloween tales. But their frightening image belies a graceful creature that plays an important role in our ecosystem. Scientists have long puzzled over the why there’s been a steady decline in the number of bats. Now, work being done to study and preserve an important bat habitat in Vermont may ultimately provide answers. (VPR)

Dean campaigns for Democrats
Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean continues to travel the country encouraging Democrats, especially political rookies, in their bids for office. Dean, who dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary race earlier this year, has named 101 people so far to what he calls his Dean Dozens – lists of candidates he’s asking his backers to support. (AP)

Property taxes
The sparse scattering of residents in the woods of far northeastern Vermont are chafing under spiraling taxes and property values, development and zoning disputes. The changes have come because the paper companies that owned most of the land in Averill, Avery’s Gore, Ferdinand, Lewis, Warner’s Grant and Warren Gore have sold it off within the past five years or so. (AP)

Computer tax holiday
If you want to get an early start on holiday shopping and a computer is on the list, next weekend might be the time to head to the stores. The state has declared a computer sales tax holiday, to run from Saturday through Monday, October 9-11. (AP)

Voting activism
A retired Montpelier lawyer has made activism on behalf of voters his passion during the past few months. Ben Scotch spent the summer helping to create television commercials warning black voters not to be scared or tricked into not voting next month. This week he’ll watch 86-year-old Ossie Davis read the script Scotch wrote. Davis is a well-known black actor and civil rights activist. (AP)

Students barred by immigration
An Ethiopian-born student at a Swiss high school has been barred by immigration authorities from entering the United States for a student exchange at Brattleboro Union High School. His teacher, Katherine Conliffe, said the 17-year-old boy’s name apparently matches that of someone on a U.S. watch list. (AP)

Missing teen
Vermont State Police are looking for a 15-year-old Waterbury Center girl who was last seen at Harwood Union High School in Duxbury on Friday. Police say Cassandra Damon was expected to take the bus home but apparently did not. (AP)

Police protective equipment
More bulletproof vests should soon be on their way to state and local police in Vermont. Senator Patrick Leahy says the U.S. Senate has reauthorized a program he started seven years ago. So far, 60 Vermont communities have received funds to buy vests for their officers. (AP)

Methadone abuse
Authorities say charges against a New Hampshire man saying he gave methadone to a woman who later died of an overdose point to a worrisome trend: the increasing use of methadone as a street drug. (AP)

UVM satellite parking
Satellite parking and shuttle buses will be the rule for University of Vermont ice hockey and basketball fans this fall, as work proceeds on a new parking garage. The parking lot outside Gutterson Fieldhouse, often the site of tailgate parties among UVM hockey fans, is a construction zone right now. (AP)

UVM rugby penalized
Members of the University of Vermont men’s rugby team have been barred from practicing or competing. That will continue while authorities investigate alcohol-related crimes that allegedly were committed in New Hampshire. The suspensions came during the week since New Hampshire State Police accused ten members of the team of alcohol-related crimes. (AP)

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