The statewide emergency phone system operated by FairPoint Communications is not working in several Vermont communities this evening, according to emergency services agencies scrambling to find workarounds for people to reach them.

The state issued a new $11 million, five-year contract for the system's operations to FairPoint Communications and the company took over the "E911" system earlier this month

Angela Evancie / VPR

When Congress returns to Washington next month for the second phase of its lame duck session, Rep. Peter Welch will be urging House leaders to schedule a comprehensive debate to consider President Obama's plan to increase military actions against the terrorist group ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

photo courtesy of the BGP!

Lively dance music from Brittany, the UK, and from Vermont to lead into the last few weeks of shortening days, and also sneak previews of new albums in process by The Green Mountain Playboys and the Bluegrass Gospel Project !

This program will air on Sunday November 30th from 7-10 p.m.

This week's calendar announcements:

Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

Six months ago, Elmore residents John and Kristen Howell struck up a partnership with The Elmore Store owners Warren and Kathy Miller. They started selling pizza made from local ingredients out of the cramped general store.

Steve Zind / VPR

A century ago, home life in Vermont revolved around the wood burning cook stove. Meals were prepared, bread baked and hands warmed from the heat it produced. 

Stoves with names like Gold Coin, Priscilla and Charm Crawford may have faded into obscurity, but they still have an allure for some people, including Bill Wilber, who makes a living restoring them.

Angela Evancie / VPR

Sen. Patrick Leahy says he's pleased that the Department of Justice has recovered $24 billion in penalties from a group of financial institutions that were involved in the mortgage fraud that led to the recession in 2008.  

The federal Department of Justice says Citibank and J.P. Morgan paid "record penalties" under the settlement.

But no corporate officials will be going to jail because the companies did not have to admit to any fraudulent activity as part of the agreement. Leahy says he's disappointed that this is the case:

Long River Studios

It’s been about nine months since an arts and crafts gallery in the Upper Valley narrowly averted closure, but today it’s thriving. The Long River Studios and Gallery in Lyme, New Hampshire almost shut its doors last March because the three founders decided they could no longer run it. But the new owner has kept it alive with some unusual events.  

Vermont’s Department of Corrections is trying to make it easier for out-of-state male prisoners to maintain contact with their families. The move follows a judge’s opinion that men are being treated differently from women when it comes to incarceration beyond Vermont’s borders.

Last summer, a Superior Court judge ruled that a father who was then housed in a Kentucky prison should be returned to prison in Vermont, so that he can see his children.

The Agency of Transportation has experienced some mild sticker shock for road and bridge projects this year. And the high cost of materials has contributed to a $16 million overrun.

It isn’t unusual for road and bridge projects to come in over budget. And Secretary of Transportation Brian Searles says the higher-than-expected costs for this year’s capital program are well within the norm.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

The Governor and the Legislature decide how the state spends its money, but it’s the treasurer’s job to oversee the funds in the state’s bank accounts. Treasurer Beth Pearce says the state employees pension fund has recovered well from the financial crisis, and that important changes have been made to the Teacher's Retirement System to make it more sustainable.

We'll ask Treasurer Beth Pearce about pensions, bond sales, and what she can do to improve the budget deficit.