John Dillon

News Director

A veteran Vermont reporter, John joined VPR in 2001. Previously, John was a staff writer for the Sunday Times Argus and the Sunday Rutland Herald, responsible for breaking stories and in-depth features on local issues. He has also served as Communications Director for the Vermont Health Care Authority and Bureau Chief for UPI in Montpelier. John was honored with two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards in 2007 for his reporting on VPR. He was the lead reporter for a VPR series on climate change that in 2008 won a national Edward R. Murrow award for continuing coverage. In 2009, John's coverage of an asbestos mine in northern Vermont was recognized with a regional investigative reporting award from the Radio-Television News Directors Association.

 

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Vermont utilities have teamed up with computer scientists and weather experts to develop more precise forecasts of severe storm events. The project was unveiled Wednesday at a meeting of emergency planners in Waterbury. 

Tom Dunn is CEO of the Vermont Electric Power Company, which operates the statewide transmission grid. He says Vermont has seen an increase in the frequency and severity of storm events. Tropical Storm Irene washed away a half mile of power line. "In 2013, the Vermont Electric Co-op and Green Mountain Power spent over $22 million in storm response," he said.

State utility regulators ruled Friday that Vermont Gas Systems can continue to build its pipeline from Chittenden County to Addison County despite substantial cost overruns.

Vermont Gas spokesman Steve Wark said the company was pleased by the decision.

John Dillon / VPR

About 200 deaf people and their supporters rallied in Montpelier Saturday and called on the governor and the Legislature to re-open the closed Austine School for the Deaf.

The school shut its doors this summer due to financial troubles. State officials say the education needs of deaf children can meet through mainstream programs in public schools.

But the protesters who marched on the Statehouse yesterday say deaf children need a learning environment with their peers that’s based on American sign language.

Following the Monday morning death of former Vermont U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords, VPR dug into its archives for recordings of the pivotal moments in Jeffords' career – including his bombshell 2001 announcement that he would leave the Republican party.

We also dusted off the tape of Jeffords' announcement, in 2005, that he would retire from the Senate, re-digitized The Jeffords Effect, a five-part series we created in 2002, and collected photographs of Jeffords' time in Washington and Vermont.

The Vermont Supreme Court has ruled the state can't collect DNA evidence from suspects in criminal cases unless they've been convicted of a felony.

In a 3-2 decision issued Friday, the court ruled a state law that allowed for the collection of DNA from people charged with felonies after a court decided there was probable cause violated the Vermont constitution.

  Three years ago, Vermont's DNA database law was expanded to include people charged with felonies. Five Vermont trial courts have ruled the law unconstitutional.

The state Health Department is reporting an increase in whooping cough cases in Windham County.

The department has alerted health care providers in the area that the number of confirmed cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, rose to 11 in June. Ten were among children age 3 to 17, while one was an adult. The cases occurred as schools were closing or after they had closed for the summer.

So far in July, the department says there are five more suspected cases. All but one of the confirmed and suspected cases are from Brattleboro.

The state of Vermont has issued a draft pollution permit for Vermont Yankee that imposes new limits on how much the nuclear plant can heat the Connecticut River.

Yankee uses the river for cooling water. Environmentalists for years have argued that the heated discharge harms fish and other aquatic life.

Plant owner Entergy plans to shut down the reactor by the end of the year. But if the permit is finalized over the next several months, the lower limits would apply to Yankee’s operation this fall.

The city of Burlington is no longer enforcing an ordinance that prohibits people from demonstrating or protesting within a 35-foot buffer zone surrounding family planning clinics. The city ordinance is similar to a Massachusetts law that was struck down last week by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Food industry trade groups filed suit in federal court Thursday to overturn Vermont’s first-in-the-nation law requiring labels on foods made with genetically modified organisms.

The suit says the Vermont law is unconstitutional, because it forces food companies to label their products without a compelling government interest.

A new settlement will reduce rates for Green Mountain Power customers by about 2.5 percent beginning in October.

The agreement was reached late last week between the Shumlin Administration, GMP, Associated Industries of Vermont, and IBM, whose manufacturing plant outside of Burlington is the utility’s largest customers.

The deal calls for a 1.46 percent rate cut, plus an additional 1 percent reduction due to an earlier revenue sharing agreement between the state and the owners of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

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