Nina Keck

Reporter

Nina has been reporting for VPR since 1996, primarily focusing on the Rutland area. An experienced journalist, Nina covered international and national news for seven years with the Voice of America, working in Washington, D.C., and Germany. While in Germany, she also worked as a stringer for Marketplace. Nina has been honored with two national Edward R. Murrow Awards: In 2006, she won for her investigative reporting on VPR and in 2009 she won for her use of sound. She began her career at Wisconsin Public Radio. 

Ways to Connect

Kim Jackson

Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports opens its new $1.3 million headquarters this week at Pico. Officials say the new space will make it much easier for athletes in wheelchairs and those with other special needs to ski, bike, kayak and enjoy the outdoors. 

Founded in 1987, the nonprofit moved its administrative offices to Pico in 1999. 

The ski resort donated space, but as the adaptive program grew, things got tight.

Rutland resident Paula McNeill, an avid skier who severed her spine in a snowmobiling accident in 2010 was among a growing number of clients. 

Nina Keck

Rutland opens its long awaited methadone clinic this week. Local leaders believe it will provide much needed help for recovering addicts and curb drug related crime in the city. But many point out that it will also make life easier for scores of people still waiting for treatment or traveling to receive it.

Kim, a recovering heroine addict from Rutland, who asked that her last name not be used for this story, says she knows many people who will be helped by the new clinic. 

It's Snow Time

Oct 25, 2013
Killington Ski Resort

The calendar may say October, but in Killington it’s beginning to look a lot like winter.  Manmade snow and a light dusting from Mother Nature have helped resort officials kick off this year’s ski season.

Justine Gotthardt says when she heard Killington was going to open today just for season pass holders, she and her husband jumped in their car and drove up from Pennsylvania.  “Conditions are wonderful,” she said.  “The snow was very soft and this is the earliest I’ve ever been out skiing in my life, so it’s a good thing, a very good thing!"

West Rutland Farmer Greg Cox is president of the Vermont Farmers Food Center, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting local agriculture and the region’s food economy. 

Last year, with lots of help from the community, the group turned an old iron factory into a popular indoor winter farmer’s market.  

Standing in the cavernous space, Cox says the power of volunteers and grassroots dreaming can’t be overstated. 

When Bubonic Plague hit England in the mid 14th century, half the population perished.  It was not a pleasant time - which is why it’s hard to imagine another topic less suited to a musical comedy. 

But Plague! the Musical makes its American debut this weekend in West Rutland, and the Marble Valley Players’ director, who’s overseeing a cast of about thirty adults and teens, says it’s a hoot.

Nina Keck / VPR/file

Rutland’s police department is coming under increased scrutiny as more internal documents about officer misconduct and disciplinary actions are made public.

The disclosures may help draw back a curtain on the inner workings of the Rutland City Police Department - a department some former officers say has fostered a culture of fear and favoritism for too long.

Public Domain

During the Vietnam War, protests and marches against the draft sprang up on many college campuses. 

But even bloodier draft revolts erupted a century earlier during The Civil War. 

150 years ago Federal Troops had to be called to West Rutland in when anger over the draft boiled over there.

Rutland Civil War author and historian Don Wickman says by 1863, Americans were getting tired of the Civil War, which had begun two years earlier.

Nina Keck / VPR/file

For many local theaters, one of the biggest challenges is attracting new audiences.  

At Rutland’s Paramount Theatre, officials believe a new $75,000 high definition video and audio system will be key to expanding their outreach.  

Bruce Bouchard, Director of the Paramount Theatre says their new 10,000 lumen projector is three times more powerful than their old one. “What that means is blacks look really black, navy blue looks like navy blue and dark green is dark green. You see every blade of grass.  It’s so cool.”

VPR/Nina Keck

According to Forbes Global 2000 list of the world’s largest public companies - General Electric comes in at number four, behind JP Morgan and two Chinese banks.

The company that was founded by Thomas Edison has had a presence in Rutland since the 1950s. With more than 1,150 employees at it’s two Rutland manufacturing plants it’s the county’s largest for-profit employer.

Motor vehicle injuries remain a leading cause of death for children in the United States.  In 2010 more than 1,200 children aged 14 and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes while another 171,000 were injured.

At a recent roadside inspection in Rutland, police and certified car seat inspectors reported that of 83 car seats they checked out - only 2 were properly installed.

Chris Bell, with the Vermont Department of Health, said the most recent data in Vermont shows that there is an 84 percent misuse rate for child protective seats.

State health officials believe there may be more homes in and around Rutland County contaminated with a banned pesticide.

High levels of the chemical have forced six households to relocate while five others have been told to move.

Tom Condon is an on scene coordinator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Boston Bureau.   He’s one of a dozen EPA field agents that recently arrived in Rutland to help the state deal with the situation.

Six Rutland households have had to relocate after an exterminator used a banned pesticide and hundreds of other Rutland County residents may also have been exposed.

State officials say the situation presents a serious health danger and they’ve called the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for help.

Police have charged a third Castleton State College student -  22-year-old Mark Comstock of Rutland - with retail theft.  Comstock, 19-year-old George Andrew Busharis and 21-year-old Brandon Boyle allegedly took part in a string of thefts at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Rutland.  

According to Castleton State College officials, three other student athletes - as yet unidentified - were also allegedly involved.  All six students were football players and all have been suspended indefinitely from the football program pending a campus investigation.  

Castleton State College officials say the campus investigation of six members of their football team allegedly involved in a scheme to steal merchandise from a Dick’s Sporting Goods store in Rutland should wrap up by Thursday.  The college will then decide what if any disciplinary hearings are warranted.

“What we’re trying to decide is if their behavior - as we know it - affects the operations or the relationship to the community of the college,” says Dennis Prouix, Castleton’s Dean of Students.

VPR/Nina Keck

Residents in Mount Holly are taking sides over a proposal to build a new town garage.  Most people agree a new garage is needed and many like the half million dollar proposal the local select board has been developing.

But several dozen others in town are upset and say the community has been improperly shut out of the planning process.

Courtesy/Yan Lu

It’s one thing to look at sculptures in a museum.  it’s another thing entirely to see them carved in your back yard by artists from all over the world. 

But that’s just what Barbara and Bill Carris of West Rutland are doing and they’re inviting the public to see the results.

Barbara Carris is an artist, art lover and patron who’s worked for years with various local and regional non profit arts organizations.

John Miller/ AP

Twenty employees of the Green Mountain National Forest and Finger Lakes National Forest have returned from two weeks of fire fighting duty in Idaho.

Just as power companies call in help from other utilities when major storms hit - firefighters often travel from state to state when needed.

Ethan Ready is with the US Forest Service based in Rutland.

VPR/Nina Keck

Castleton College built its newest dormitory, Hoff Hall, with solar panels on the roof.  Now, four new micro wind turbines will be generating power alongside them. 

When Vermonters think of wind turbines they’re likely to imagine ridge lines with huge blades turning hundreds of feet in the air.

But JLM Energy of Rocklin California has made a name for itself designing much smaller micro turbines designed for urban and suburban areas. 

VPR/Nina Keck

Debate continues to swirl in Middlebury over a proposed land swap between the town and the college.  Proponents say the deal will help the town afford a new municipal office and recreational facility.  But opponents are angry at the way it was worked out and say valuable town property will be lost.

Town officials have struggled for years over what to do with the municipal town offices - located in a hundred year old red brick building many in town consider an eyesore.

VPR/Nina Keck

Tropical Storm Irene temporarily or permanently displaced more than 1,400 people in Vermont.

76-year-old Evelyn Payette was one of them. If you drive along Route 100 in Pittsfield you can still see her bent and battered mobile home on the side or the road. 

Payette is one of 23 Vermont homeowners who have recently received a FEMA buyout. While the money is welcome, the nearly two years it’s taken to get has taken a toll.

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