September 13, 2004 – News at a glance

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Military families seek support in each other
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are a constant, often very lonely, reality for those with loved ones in the military. All over Vermont, local troop support committees are working to assure that those whose lives have been disrupted most are not forgotten. (VPR)

Federal transportation funding
A deadlock in Washington over a federal transportation bill threatens to stall projects in Vermont. Senator Jim Jeffords blames President Bush, who has threatened to veto the measure. (VPR)

Supreme Court candidates sent to governor
The state’s Judicial Nominating Board Friday forwarded a list of names to Governor Jim Douglas to fill the vacancy of chief justice of the Vermont Supreme Court. Douglas says prior judicial experience will be a factor as he reviews the nominees. (VPR)

Gubernatorial debate
The two candidates for governor will hold their first debate this week. Governor Jim Douglas and Democrat Peter Clavelle will meet Thursday before a business group in Montpelier. It is the first of what will be roughly one dozen forums and debates for the two men. (AP)

Primary Elections
Election officials are predicting low voter turnout in Tuesday’s primary election. That’s because there are only four contested races statewide and only one of them is considered highly competitive. Two years ago only 14.9 percent of registered voters turned out of the primary. (AP)

Joan Smith dies at 70
University of Vermont dean Joan Smith has died at the age of 70 after a long struggle with cancer. UVM officials say Smith died Friday evening at her home in Hartland. She was the wife of Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Welch. Smith had been dean of UVM’s College of Arts and Sciences since 1996. The university says a campus memorial service would be held Friday in Ira Allen Chapel. (AP)

Apple season
Vermont’s apple season is under way early this year. And experts say the fruit has better color and size this year than in recent seasons. The McIntosh variety is ready for picking in many areas of the state a week to ten days early. The above average rainfall this summer has speeded up the ripening. (AP)

Lake water level
Lake Champlain is at the highest level it has ever been in September. The lake level at the King Street ferry dock in Burlington is just over 98 feet mean sea level. That’s about two to three feet higher than is normal in the fall, when the lake level generally drops to its lowest levels of the year. The high water level is due to heavy summer rains. (AP)

Bus service
The Vermont Transportation Agency is working to avoid any disruption in the public bus system. Green Mountain Transit Agency warned last week that delayed federal funding was putting some popular routes in jeopardy. The agency says that statewide, 12 routes could be cut. But Transportation Secretary Patricia McDonald says the state is trying to make sure that doesn’t happen. (AP)

Civil unions
Activists say they are not satisfied with Vermont’s civil union law. They described it at a Vermont Law School conference last week as second-class matrimony. They say the law doesn’t go far enough. (AP)

Montpelier market closing
A landmark natural foods store in Montpelier’s downtown is closing by the end of the month. The State Street Market space may be taken over, however, by another popular downtown business: the Capitol Grounds coffee roaster. State Street Market owner Michael Woodfield said he’s closing his doors in the next week or two. He’s been running the business for more than 19 years in its current prominent downtown location. (AP)

Waterbury motel to become apartments
The new owner of a burned-out hotel in downtown Waterbury is planning to convert it into apartments. One of three buildings in the downtown landmark Gateway Motel would house eight apartments. That’s planned as the first phase. New owner Irving Saffron says the complex might ultimately include 14 apartments and a restaurant. (AP)

State offices in Bennington
The summer’s heavy rain is one of the reasons a new state office building in Bennington is running behind schedule. Work began in March on the former auto dealership and garage on Main Street with hopes the project would be done by December. But state building officials say it has been more difficult than predicted to renovate the 1920s era building. And they say the heavy rains have caused delays as well. (AP)

Body found at rest area
A 61-year-old Lyndonville man’s body has been discovered at a rest area on a rural stretch of highway in the Northeast Kingdom. Vermont State Police say an autopsy is planned to determine the cause of Donald Pearsons’ death. Details of where Pearsons’ body was discovered were not immediately disclosed, other than to say the body was discovered at the rest area on Vermont Route 16 between Glover and Greensboro. (AP)

Swimming hole drowning
A Burlington man has drowned in a popular swimming hole in Bolton after disappearing in a whirlpool. The accident happened this weekend as 19-year-old Josh Egan was swimming in an area of steep gorges known as the Bolton Potholes. Joiner Brook falls in a series of pools and waterfalls to form the potholes. (AP)

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