September 18, 2002 – News at a glance

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VPR poll results, Part 2
According to a new VPR poll, the race for lieutenant governor is wide open and features a large number of undecided voters. In Part Two of this week’s series “The Pulse of Vermont,” VPR’s Bob Kinzel examines this contest and some related issues. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Corrections Dept. impacts towns
Officials in several Vermont towns have taken the state to task over the number former prison inmates living in their communities. In the first of a two-part report, VPR’s Steve Zind reports that some communities are questioning Department of Corrections policy and want the state keep people in prison longer. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Corrections Dept. spending
In the second of a two-part report, VPR’s John Dillon reports that legislative budget writers are having a hard time keeping up with escalating prison costs. There’s concern the state may not be able to operate the newest prison in Springfield. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Medicaid deficit in 2005
The Legislature recently trimmed the state budget to erase a $39 million deficit. But a much bigger budget problem looms on the horizon In several years, the state could run out of money to fund its Medicaid programs. Fiscal analysts now predict a Medicaid fund deficit in 2005. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Douglas job growth strategy
Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Douglas is pledging to take several important steps to boost job growth in Vermont if he’s elected governor in November. Douglas says economic development issues are his top priority in the campaign. (VPR)

Anti-terrorism money
The Vermont Health Department and Public Safety Department can now spend more than nine million dollars to fight terrorism. The Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Committee authorized the departments to spend the federal grant money. (AP)

Furniture makers receive grant
An effort to start a new furniture company in Island Pond has received a big boost. Island Pond Woodworkers Incorporated has been awarded a one-million dollar grant from the U.S. Commerce Department. (AP)

Gov. debate
The major candidates for Vermont governor are disagreeing about economic development and job creation. Independent Con Hogan and Republican Jim Douglas said last night Vermont was not friendly to business, while Democrat Doug Racine disagreed. (AP)

Lt. gov debate
The three lieutenant governor candidates are split on which tax policies will best develop Vermont’s economy. Republican Brian Dubie, Democrat Peter Shumlin and Progressive Anthony Pollina discussed the issue last night at a debate in Saint Albans. (AP)

Unemployment rate rises
Vermont’s unemployment rate rose in August for the first time in six months. Unemployment was 4.2%. That’s an increase of .3% over July. Springfield had the state’s highest unemployment rate with 6.3%. (AP)

Federal dairy program
Senator Patrick Leahy says a new federal dairy program aimed at helping Vermont farmers has become overly complicated and burdensome. Leahy says the U.S. Department of Agriculture should be encouraging participation in the program, not discouraging it. (AP)

Small apple crop
Vermont agriculture officials are predicting a smaller apple crop this year, but they say apple quality still appears to be good. The total yield is expected to be down by 15%, but experts say that should mean better prices for growers. (AP)

West Nile virus
Mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus have been found in Concord, New Hampshire. Though birds infected with the disease were found in the city earlier this year, this is the first time infected insects were discovered. (AP)

Medicaid campaign
Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack is turning to leaders of 19 other states – including Vermont Governor Howard Dean – for help in a letter-writing campaign to get more money for Medicare. The bipartisan group sent letters yesterday to every member of the U.S. Senate. (AP)

NH campaign filing deadline
Wednesday is the deadline for New Hampshire candidates to file campaign spending reports with the state. Multimillionaire businessman Craig Benson’s campaign yesterday said he spent $9.5 million – including $8.5 half million of his own money – winning last week’s GOP gubernatorial primary. (AP)

Rutland drug indictments
A federal grand jury in Rutland has charged nine people with selling crack cocaine in the city. More than 60 people have been indicted on drug charges – mostly involving crack and heroin – since the grand jury convened in Rutland in March. (AP)

Burlington teachers’ contract
The School Board in Burlington has reached an agreement with teachers on a four-year contract. The deal gives teachers annual raises of between 4 – 5.9% a year. (AP)

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