The Associated Press

Vermont's agriculture secretary has been named president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

Chuck Ross was named to the post at the association's annual meeting in North Carolina in September.

NASDA represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the agriculture departments in all 50 states and four U.S. territories.

A Vermont environmental group says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to protect a once-common species of bat through the Endangered Species Act.

The Richmond-based Center for Biological Diversity says the service has proposed granting Endangered Species Act protection to the northern long-eared bat, a species that has been devastated by the disease known as white-nose syndrome

But the service declined to recommend protection for the eastern small-footed bat.

Vermont State Police troopers are going to be participating in what's being described as a large training exercise in downtown Rutland and they don't want people to be alarmed.

The Friday exercise will be held from about 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Rutland in the area of Merchants Row and Evelyn Street.

These exercises will primarily take place inside the building located next to the Chamber of Commerce, as well as old Community College of Vermont building on Evelyn Street.

The Vermont Department of Labor says its workers are ready to assist any federal employees who may be eligible for unemployment benefits as a result of being furloughed from their jobs without pay.

The department has posted information on its website to guide Vermonters trying to determine their eligibility for benefits during the federal government shutdown.

Labor Commissioner Annie Noonan says the state's unemployment insurance program will continue without interruption and there will be no lapse of payments to unemployed workers during the shutdown.

The Vermont Transportation Board will hold six public hearings this fall to gather public comment about transportation-related issues that face the state.

Topics to be covered are transportation revenues and energy; bike pedestrian Issues; the future of freight and passenger rail services; park and ride expansion; roadway safety; and public transit, Intercity service and service for the elderly.

The town of Bethel, hit hard by Tropical Storm Irene two years ago, wants to be ready the next time disaster strikes.

So people are stepping up their emergency preparedness on several fronts, including public education, local self-help and strengthening the town's emergency management program.

The public education front includes visits by a town emergency management team to every home in Bethel to provide families with information and guidance regarding risk mitigation, personal preparation and the basic elements of Bethel's emergency management plan and structure.

Goddard College is going honor an Olympic gold medalist known for giving a black power salute while accepting his medal during the 1968 games in Mexico City.

Tommie Smith will be presented with the 2013 Presidential Award for Activism at Goddard's Oct. 6 commencement in Plainfield.

Some say Smith's salute with an upraised arm on the Olympic podium remains one of the most memorable moments of the American civil rights movement.

Smith received a master's degree in sociology from 1974 from Goddard. He has since worked as a coach, educator and activist.

The removal of a decades-old dam on the Batten Kill is expected to boost trout populations in the river, known for its trout fishing.

It's part of a larger movement to remove now-obsolete and risky dams that would cost more to repair and maintain than to remove.

The Dufresne Dam in Manchester was built in 1908 to power a sawmill, but the sawmill is long gone and the earthen dam has been leaking, creating a safety hazard.

The concrete wall and earthen dam were removed this month, and the river is being moved to its original spot in the middle of the channel.

Three 18-year-old men are facing arson charges in connection with a fire that destroyed most of a Hardwick log yard.

Police in Hardwick charged Randall Sayers of Woodbury, Hezekiah McCullough of Hardwick and Riley Reagan of Eden with arson, burglary and larceny for the July 29 fire at Buffalo Mountain Wood Storage and Transfer.

Police say Sayers, McCullough and a third young man from Hardwick also face petit larceny and burglary charged in connection with a July 5 burglary at the same business.

A former prison guard has pleaded guilty to having sex with an inmate in a case that came to light after she became pregnant with the inmate's child.

Thirty-year-old Leanne Salls received a one-year deferred sentence after pleading guilty last week to a misdemeanor charge of prohibited acts.

The Valley News reported that the allegations came to light when prison guards confiscated a note the inmate sent to Salls asking about her pregnancy.

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