Charlotte Albright

Commentator

Charlotte Albright lives in Lyndonville and currently works in the Office of Communication at Dartmouth College. She was a VPR reporter from 2012 - 2015, covering the Upper Valley and the Northeast Kingdom. Prior to that she freelanced for VPR for several years.

Herb Swanson / www.swanpix.com

Building owners who install either sprinklers or elevators in historic multi-use buildings in downtowns would get tax credits from the federal government under legislation introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy.

He made the announcement Friday in St. Johnsbury at the site of buildings that burned down in 2000. Since then two more major fires have struck the city, and none of the buildings had sprinklers. Leahy said the devastation from fires in other towns has also been tragic—and expensive.

VPR/Charlotte Albright

Over the past few years, Burlington  has tried to make its rental units more fireproof, or at least easier to evacuate during a fire.

In Vermont, any residential property in which people sleep, excluding single family homes, must meet fire codes and be inspected, either by the state or by a municipality. In Burlington, code inspections are done by the City, and there have been twice as many this year as there were four years ago. And only about ten per cent pass inspection on the first round.

William Morlock, Courtesy, Springfield Housing

In the summer of 2008, a block at the center of  Springfield was totally destroyed by fire. The blaze was set by an arsonist. Over 40 people were temporarily homeless and the fire leveled a movie theater and a few other businesses.

But today, the Ellis Block has been totally re-built.

AP/Toby Talbot

Over the past five years, some spectacular fires have ripped through apartment buildings in Vermont. St. Johnsbury has been especially hard hit.

It was a warm July night in 2009, and Bob Wilkins, a third floor tenant  at 1244 Main Street, had kicked off his shoes and settled in to watch the eleven o’clock news. 

As he  remembers, apartment neighbors pounded on his door, but he ignored them, mistaking them for, in his words, “rowdies.” Then he started smelling smoke.

AP/Toby Talbot

Every year, according to the Fire Marshal’s report, fire strikes at least 2,000 buildings in Vermont. While the majority of these fires damage single family homes, about one fourth of the blazes rip through apartment buildings. Unlike private homes, those public spaces are subject to inspection by the state or the municipality.

VPR/Charlotte Albright

In early July, North Country Hospital, in Newport, announced that it would end two programs and lay off at least nineteen workers.

The cuts come after two years of red ink, and a projected three percent shortfall.  Now the question is how the hospital plans to move forward.

VPR/Charlotte Albright

Music from all over the world has been spilling out of churches and meeting houses all over Vermont this summer. It’s coming from a group of teen-agers who call themselves Village Harmony, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year .

One  blistering hot day in the Unitarian Church on Main Street,  the two dozen choristers rehearsing  this song from Bulgaria are wearing shorts and tank tops. But if you close your eyes, you can imagine them in colorful garb from Eastern Europe, South Africa,  or the plain muslin of colonial America.

Courtesy, NH Fish And Wildlife

Fish and game officials from two states  are gathering public opinion on a plan to stock the Moore Reservoir, between Waterford, Vermont and Littleton, New Hampshire,  with walleye. State biologists say the popular eating fish would thrive in the reservoir, which is fed by the Connecticut River.

VPR/Charlotte Albright

Work is finally about to start on a four-season recreation trail  proposed  to span northern Vermont. The Lamoille Valley Rail Trail has been on the drawing board  for over a decade, and on Friday there was a ground-breaking ceremony in St. Johnsbury.

St. Johnsbury’s School Board has decided to require all public classrooms to hang a flag and make time for the pledge of allegiance.

Currently, teachers may choose whether or not to start the day that way.

Vermont is one of a handful of states that does not require the pledge of allegiance to be recited in public schools. But even in the many states that do require it, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that students and teachers may not be compelled to participate.

VPR/Charlotte Albright

Big changes are coming to the tiny, outdated state airport at Coventry, near Newport. FAA approval is being sought for a longer runway. Several new hangers will be built, the terminal will be modernized, and the state has applied for a new customs office on site.

And on Thursday, a new aircraft manufacturer was introduced at a press conference where the CTLS plane was unveiled.

VPR/Charlotte Albright

The military prison at Guantanamo Bay has been making fresh headlines lately. 

Recently President Obama vowed to step up efforts to close the facility.

But a Vermont attorney is still trying to get a trial for an Afghan man who has been detained in Guantanamo since 2002. 

Abdul Zahir is an Afghan citizen. He’s being held  at Guantanamo because he was a translator  for a man  the US government calls a “high value detainee” who allegedly planned attacks for al Qaeda.  

Like many towns in Vermont, Thetford has been grappling with demands to allow all-terrain vehicles on class three and four roads. But  this Upper Valley community has struck an unusual compromise.

The controversy started simmering about two years ago, when  a senior citizen was cited by a game warden for riding his ATV on a class four road. He complained to the town. Select Board Chair Donn Downey says that’s  spurred lots of public discussion about an ATV ordinance. Some wanted to ban ATV’s on town roads. Others wanted to expand their recreational use.

Valley News/Jennifer Hauck / http://www.vnews.com/

Wild weather hit parts of southern Vermont as July began, especially in the Upper Valley. Some roads were impassable or washed out entirely.

In Lebanon, dozens of people were evacuated from a brand new affordable housing project. Rivermere, a 21-unit complex, had only been open for about a month when a brook overflowed on Tuesday night, destroying a road and severely damaging the building owned by Twin Pines Housing Trust.   About 40 residents had to be taken to a nearby hotel. Twin Pines Director Andrew Winter says it was traumatic.

Valley News/Jennifer Hauck / http://www.vnews.com/

Wild weather hit hard yesterday, damaging some roadways, especially in the Upper Valley.

In Lebanon, some roads were impassable or washed out entirely. Dozens of people were evacuated from a brand new affordable housing complex, and bussed to shelter at Lebanon High School.

"I think they were pretty stressed, I mean it’s a brand new building, they haven’t had it open for a month yet. We just did the ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday," said Red Cross volunteer Linda Nordman.

The controversial Northern Pass project has re-mapped a portion of its proposed route.

The developer says the revised transmission route carrying hydroelectric power from Quebec into New England addresses environmental and economic concerns.

But opponents still call it a bad deal for the North Country.

To build the Northern Pass, Public Service of New Hampshire would use about 147 miles of its existing right-of-way, but needs access to about 32 more miles through New Hampshire.

For one Vermont couple, "local" doesn't mean heading to the farmers market. It means finding a natural salad bar at your picnic spot — or maybe even in your backyard.

Nova Kim and Les Hook live on a lush farm between a large lake and the Connecticut River near the Vermont-New Hampshire border. Over the decades, they've become skilled gatherers of edible wild foods, which they sell to high-end restaurants. But on this drizzly day, they're in their own kitchen, making dressing for a picnic green salad.

Adam Pearce

In 2009, Kevin Pearce, then a champion snowboarder, suffered a near-fatal brain injury in a training accident.

His family rushed from their home in Hartland to his hospital bed in Utah. Amazingly, Pearce emerged from his coma and began the long road to recovery.

His father, glass artist Simon Pearce, his mother Pia, and three brothers formed an enduring support group. A new HBO film, “The Crash Reel,” tells the family’s story. It previews June 22 at the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth.

VPR/Charlotte Albright

For the past year, a group of young adults with a range of disabilities has been working at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. It’s called Project Search, and it’s been both school and workplace for these eight students, whose disabilities range from autism to Downs Syndrome. They’ve been getting on-site training to prepare them to enter the job market.

Their jobs included making beds, ushering patients to appointments, and organizing medical instruments. Six already have jobs, some outside the hospital.  And in early June, they graduated from the program.

VPR/Charlotte Albright

Motorists Beware. Route 4, between Interstate 89 and Woodstock,  has seen three serious collisions over the past few months, claiming four lives.

Upper Valley residents say the road  is becoming more dangerous as drivers fail to pay attention to its sharp  curves and narrow lanes.

The latest victim of a Route 4 head-on collision was 72-year-old Ingrid Neuwirt. Police believe her car crossed the center line of the highway near the Interstate ramp, but they are still trying to figure out why.

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