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

Despite Tuesday’s cold weather, people in Rutland came out in force to give blood and the city can finally say its number one in the nation when it comes to blood drives.

Organizers of Rutland’s annual Gift of Life Marathon brought in 2,337 pints of blood, shattering the previous one day drive record of 1,968 pints set by Manchester New Hampshire in 2011.

Steve Costello, one of the lead organizers of the event was thrilled when the final tally came in around 10:00 p.m.

Ric Cengeri / VPR

Parents and students, say goodbye to the NECAPs and say hello to Common Core. A new standard for teaching and evaluating math and English is being introduced around the country, including in Vermont.

Pat Fitzsimmons, Common Core Implementation Coordinator for the Vermont Agency of Education, discusses how Common Core changes the standards currently in place, how they’ll be implemented and discuss some of the criticisms of the program.

Toby Talbot / AP

The annual Gift of Life Marathon blood drive in Rutland will aim to beat a national record on Tuesday, Dec. 17. Just what exactly is all that blood used for, and where does it go?

We’ll find out all about blood and blood drives with Mary Brant of the American Red Cross New England and Dr. Mark Fung, director of the Blood Bank at Fletcher Allen Health Care and an Associate Professor of Pathology at the University of Vermont.

The new health exchange website Vermont Health Connect has faced problems since it was launched two months ago. VPR’s Taylor Dobbs updates Vermont Edition on what the Shumlin administration knew about the problems with the state’s health care exchange web site and when.

Ron Swanson / AP

There are some incredible raptors flying around Vermont right now. Sightings of snowy owls, short-eared owls, rough-legged hawks and bald eagles abound.

Kent McFarland, conservation biologist at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, lets us know about these raptors and where we can spot them.

You can also hear more calls of winter raptors courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

AP/Gerry Broome

Animal shelters say they see an increase in people wanting to adopt pets this time of year.  “Many times people might think that getting a dog or a puppy as a gift for someone during the holidays might be a good idea," says Lisa Peterson of the American Kennel Club. "You know, it’s really not the best time to bring a new dog to your family.”

It's So. Vermont

Dec 10, 2013
Lincoln Benedict / AP

The impending closing of Vermont Yankee has everyone worried about job losses in southern Vermont. But a group of people in Windham and Bennington counties have been working for years to try to understand the region’s underlying economic situation.

Todd Williamson/Invasion for Sony / AP

It’s the holidays, a time when friends, families and co-workers unite to celebrate. Quite often with alcohol flowing.

We take a look at some of Vermont’s liquor laws and how they developed with Department of Liquor Control Director of Enforcement Bill Goggins. And we’ll hear how law enforcement agencies around the state work to keep impaired drivers off the highway from Ted Minall, Chief of the Governor's Highway Safety Program and Vermont State Police Sergeant Gary Scott.

photo provided

This summer, VPR reported on a runner with a big dream. Joseph Michael Kai-tsu Liu Roqueni set out from Montreal July 2nd, hoping to run from Canada, through 14 countries, to the southern tip of Argentina. 

The 32-year-old gave himself two years to cover the 12,000 miles, much of which he planned to run barefoot or with light sandals.

Toby Talbot / AP

Skiers and snowboarders would prefer that the storm that’s moving through the region be dumping snow, but those in the ski industry say today’s rain isn’t likely to impact the first big holiday weekend of the season.

Sarah Wojcik of Ski Vermont says the early winter storm forecasts caused a spike in reservations at Jay Peak this week and she says Stowe is reporting its strongest reservations ever for the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend.  

Nina Keck

Green Mountain Power’s new $2.75 million Energy Innovation Center opens today in Rutland.  The facility was created out of what had been two blighted downtown properties and fulfills one of the key promises GMP made to Rutland when it purchased CVPS almost 18 months ago.

Nina Keck

Thanksgiving and the official start of the holiday shopping season comes late this year - which industry insiders say is not great for retailers. But shopkeepers are crossing their fingers that consumers will feel like spending once the season gets underway.

Erik Barnum, a sales manager at the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, jokes that predicting how an upcoming holiday season will be is like trying to read a crystal ball. “I wish there was a groundhog that would predict how the thing is going to be.  There are so many different factors that go into it.”

Nina Keck

Generic drugs are often thought of as bargains.  But in the last year, the prices of many generic medicines have skyrocketed and pharmacists across Vermont say they and their customers are taking a hit.

Jason Hochberg is one of the owners of Rutland Pharmacy, a family-owned business with four locations. 

Charity Eugaire

In Pittsford, some worry that pre-schoolers in their town will lose out if their existing pre-kindergarten program is moved into the local elementary school. Proponents say the move will centralize resources and save money.

But others, like Pittsford resident Stacey Pearsons, argue it will spell the end for a unique learning program. 

photo provided

A Rutland couple is suing Vermont’s Agency of Human Services, alleging the state hired an exterminator who used a banned pesticide that made their home uninhabitable.

The suit says the couple’s house needed treatment for a bug infestation, which the couple alleges was caused after they took in a state-sponsored foster child. 

The lawsuit, which filed this week in U.S. District Court in Rutland, is the latest twist in a months-long saga over improper pesticide use that’s involved hundreds of households in Rutland County.  

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.

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