John Dillon

Senior Reporter, New England News Collaborative

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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A power line developer has offered Vermont millions of dollars to lower electricity bills and to clean up Lake Champlain. State officials like the potential windfall, but they say it won’t get in the way of a vigorous review of the project.

John Dillon / VPR

Gov. Peter Shumlin says a drug manufacturer has dramatically raised the prices of life-saving medication used to prevent deaths from heroin overdoses.

Emergency responders and the state police use naloxone – also known by the  trade name Narcan – to reverse the effects of overdose. But the cost of the drug has spiked 62 percent in the last month. At a news conference Wednesday, Shumlin called on the manufacturer to lower prices.

The Vermont Department of Health says three more students at Charlotte Central School have tested positive for tuberculosis.

The cases were discovered after a round of screening clinics held March 30 through April 3.

A total of 19 children and two adults have tested positive since the health department first confirmed a case of TB at the school in January.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR/file

Attorney General Bill Sorrell has filed a lawsuit alleging that a candidate who used public money to run for lieutenant governor last year violated campaign financing laws.

Sorrell says Progressive Democrat Dean Corren illegally sought help from the Democratic party.

John Dillon / VPR File

More than a thousand Vermonters who hoped to get their driving privileges restored turned out Friday at a courthouse in Burlington.

People began lining up in the early morning dark – long before courthouse doors opened. By midday, the line snaked around a city block as hundreds waited in a biting wind for a chance to drive legally again.

Robert Robbins from Burlington hoped to pay off 15 tickets at $20 dollars apiece, instead of the $4,500 he owed for multiple offenses for driving with a suspended license. Tickets, he says, he couldn't afford to pay off.

A draft ruling by utility regulators in Connecticut says the Vermont Legislature is on the right track as it tries to make this state's renewable energy laws conform with the rest of New England.

Jay Peak shutdown its upper mountain Thursday after the temperature dropped to minus 31 degrees Fahrenheit.
AP/file

Jay Peak resort has signed a settlement agreement that environmentalists say will improve water quality in streams damaged by development.

For the last decade or more, construction projects at the four-season resort have caused sediment to flow into streams. That's led to violations of state water quality standards.

Angela Evancie / VPR/file

Gov. Peter Shumlin and legislative leaders say this is the year to take action to clean up Lake Champlain and other polluted waters. The sense of urgency was heightened last week when the legislature held an unusual joint assembly to hear dramatic testimony from business and environmental advocates about Lake Champlain in crisis.

State police say the co-principal of the Danville School has been arrested for embezzling almost $1,600.

Edwin Webbley, 60, was seen on video footage removing cash and checks from a school safe, police said.

The money and checks had been placed in the safe on the evening of Feb. 13 and was discovered missing on Feb. 16. Superintendent Matt Forrest told police that he reviewed video camera footage that showed a man removing money from the safe. The man was identified as Webbley.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR File

Supporters of cleaning up Lake Champlain and other polluted waterways hope a forum held at the Statehouse on Wednesday will bring new energy to their efforts.

Many questions remain about the proposed sale of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. We're looking at all the latest developments on this "Vermont Edition."
Toby Talbot / Associated Press File

The Vermont Health Department says for the first time it has found the radioactive isotope Strontium-90 in ground water at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon.

Toby Talbot / AP/file

Large scale wind projects are the most cost-effective way for utilities to meet proposed new renewable energy requirements now being considered by the Legislature, according to Statehouse testimony.

Toby Talbot / AP/file

The Shumlin administration wants to change the way Vermont encourages and accounts for renewable energy projects, but it's trying to do so in a way that avoids a big hit to ratepayers.

The Legislature asked for recommendations on whether Vermont should make its renewable program conform to the type of system widely used in New England and other states around the country.

Toby Talbot / AP/file

Vermont policy to promote renewable energy is at a turning point. The Legislature will soon debate whether the state should join other New England states and many around the country in adopting a set standard for the amount of renewable energy utilities here must use.

At stake in the debate is how - and how much - Vermonters will pay for renewable energy.

About 500 of the state's 874 registered dairy farms have enrolled in a new price protection program as of Friday afternoon. Federal and state officials are urging the remainder to take advantage of an extended deadline to sign up.

Val Dalcini, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency, says high milk prices have probably kept some farmers from enrolling. But Dalcini says the program offers a relatively inexpensive way to protect farm income if milk prices head down.

A leading environmental group says it may appeal a state ruling that rejected stricter controls on farms in the most polluted watershed of Lake Champlain. 

The Conservation Law Foundation wanted the state to require farmers in the Missisquoi Basin to follow best management practices to reduce pollution. These include wide buffers between fields and streams and properly storing manure.

rskvt / Flickr Creative Commons

The state has declined to make best management practices mandatory for farms in the Missisquoi Bay watershed. 

The shallow bay on the northern end of Lake Champlain frequently sees summertime blooms of toxic blue green algae. The algae blooms are fueled in part from farm-run off in the heavily agricultural region.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

A Vermont man is in voluntary quarantine to prevent risk of spreading the Ebola virus after he returned this week from West Africa. Officials say the unnamed man was attempting to help in Ebola-affected areas of Guinea and Sierra Leone. But they said he does not have symptoms of the deadly disease.

John Dillon / VPR

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.

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