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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Legislation aimed at protecting water quality by controlling development along lakes and ponds will likely be delayed for a year.

The bill has already passed the House. But Senate leaders want to postpone passage so lawmakers can spend the summer on public education efforts.

The Senate Natural Resources Committee spent part of the morning Wednesday hearing from officials in New Hampshire and Maine, which enacted lakeshore protections decades ago.

The mother of a Thetford man killed last June by a state police officer firing a stun gun said her son would be alive today if a mental health counselor had been called to the confrontation.

Rhonda Taylor told lawmakers at a hearing last night that 39-year-old Macadam Mason suffered from a seizure disorder and likely was unable to comply with a trooper's order that he lie on the ground.

John Dillon / VPR

As Vermont confronts an epidemic of drug and alcohol abuse, an old concept in recovery is getting new attention.

The idea is that people who have struggled with their own demons of addiction can provide the best advice and insight for those just starting down the road to recovery.

It’s called peer support. New research has measured the success – and the savings to the state budget – from these programs.

State regulators have allowed almost three dozen groups and organizations to take part in the review of a proposed natural gas pipeline through Addison County.

Vermont Gas Systems needs approval from the Public Service Board to extend a pipeline south to Middlebury and then west to Ticonderoga, N.Y.

The board recently admitted multiple parties into the case, which means they can present testimony and cross examine witnesses. The interveners include the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association, the gas company’s main competitors.

A pipeline company needs a state Act 250 land use permit if it wants to ship tar sands oil through northern Vermont, a district environmental coordinator has ruled.

In an eight page decision, District 7 Environmental Coordinator Kirsten Sultan said the land use law applies because reversing the flow of the pipeline to carry the heavy crude would be a substantial change to the existing development.

Environmentalists had called for Act 250 review of the potential tar sands project. Jim Murphy, a senior counsel for the National Wildlife Federation, hailed the ruling.

The Vermont Senate has advanced a bill that bans corporate and union contributions to state political candidates.

The campaign finance legislation also strengthens reporting requirements and doubles public funding for those running for governor and lieutenant governor.

Sen. Peter Galbraith, D-Windham, proposed the ban on corporate money. He said corporations buy access with their political donations.

The Shumlin Administration wants Vermont Yankee to pay more to help emergency officials respond to a nuclear accident.

The request for increased funds draws on lessons learned from Tropical Storm Irene and the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan. 

The administration added $770,000 last week to the proposed budget now under review in the Senate Appropriations Committee. But the state requires that Yankee reimburse the funds. 

The Vermont Senate has overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to move the state's primary elections to early August. 

The early date was supported by Secretary of State Jim Condos, who said he needed more time between the primary and the general election to meet federal deadlines to get ballots to overseas voters. 

But senators complained that the early August primary election would lower voter turnout. 

A Senate committee is spending much of the week on legislation that would establish new protections for the shorelines of lakes and ponds.

The House passed a version of the bill last month. But the compromise disappointed both environmentalists - who want to see tougher restrictions - and property rights advocates, who oppose new state regulation.

Toby Talbot / AP

A natural gas pipeline planned for Addison County has prompted dozens of individuals and organizations to seek a voice in the upcoming permit hearings. 

The groups include the state Agency of Agriculture, an association of fuel dealers, and towns located along the route.

Vermont Gas Systems wants to extend a pipeline south from Chittenden County to Middlebury and then under Lake Champlain to a paper mill in Ticonderoga, NY. 

AP/John Flesher / This 2012, photo shows a Mangalitsa boar, left, and two Russian swine on a farm in Michigan. Known by various labels, feral

If lawmakers have their way,wild boar will not find a home in the Vermont woods.

Wild boar and feral pigs area nuisance species around the country. Vermont wildlife officials are concerned that the animalscould escape from captive hunting facilities and take hold in the Green Mountains.

So the House approved a banon wild boar on Thursday. Williston Democrat Jim McCullough explained the billfor the Fish, Wildlife and water Resources Committee.

Wild hogs are an invasivespecies, reproduce rapidly and are known to cause significant damage, he said.

The House has unanimously approved a two-year capital construction bill that solidifies a commitment to rebuild the Waterbury state office complex devastated by Tropical Storm Irene.

The bill includes $173 million in spending, with close to $70 million dollars set aside for Irene-related projects.

This is the second legislative session that lawmakers have crafted a two year spending cycle for state construction projects.

And a top priority remains repairing or replacing buildings damaged by the floodwaters of Irene.

The House has unanimously approved a two-year capital construction bill that solidifies a commitment to rebuild the Waterbury state office complex devastated by Tropical Storm Irene.

The bill includes $173 million in spending, with close to $70 million set aside for Irene-related projects.

This is the second legislative session that lawmakers have crafted a two-year spending cycle for state construction projects. And a top priority remains repairing or replacing buildings damaged by the floodwaters of Irene.

Patients living with Lyme disease crowded the Statehouse on Wednesday to tell their stories about years of misdiagnosis and chronic pain.

The patients and their advocates want legislation to protect doctors if they prescribe long-term antibiotic treatment contrary to current medical standards.

Lawmakers also learned that Lyme disease is just one of several tick-borne infections now sweeping through Vermont.

AP/Jeannie Nuss / Oil covers the ground around a slide in Mayflower, Ark., on April 1, 2013, days after a pipeline ruptured and spewed oil over

An oil spill in Arkansas may add urgency to Vermont legislation that would regulate oil pipelines.

Environmentalists point to similarities between the pipeline in Arkansas that ruptured and one in northern Vermont that could be used to ship tar sands oil.

The accident last week in Mayflower, AR spilled about 80,000 gallons of oil and forced the evacuation of 22 homes.

The 20-inch, underground line was used to carry tar sands oil from western Canada to Gulf Coast refineries.

A bacterial disease spread by tick bites is getting attention this week in the Statehouse.

Lyme disease patients and their advocates are pushing for a bill that requires insurance companies to cover long-term antibiotic care for the debilitating illness.

The bill highlights a debate in the medical community about the most effective treatment, because it sanctions a medical practice that critics say is not recommended by state and federal agencies.

A bacterial disease spread by tick bites is getting attention this week in the Statehouse.

Lyme disease patients and their advocates are pushing for a bill that requires insurance companies to cover long-term antibiotic care for the debilitating illness.

The bill highlights a debate in the medical community about the most effective treatment, because it sanctions a medical practice that critics say is not recommended by state and federal agencies.

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