Sage Van Wing

Vermont Edition Producer

Sage Van Wing was a Vermont Edition producer.

Vermont Department of Health

It’s that time of year when swimmers and boaters in Lake Champlain can  enjoy water temperatures that have finally become bearable. And when they have to be concerned about blue green algae blooms.

Vermont Edition spoke with David Mears, commissioner of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, about the algae blooms occurring in Lake Champlain, and if we could see what’s happening in Lake Erie here.

Toby Talbot / AP

Jim Jeffords was a GOP stalwart in Vermont, serving seven terms as a Republican in the House before moving to the Senate. Jeffords made headlines in 2001 when he renounced his Republican Party affiliation and became an Independent, caucusing with the Democrats. His decision shifted the balance of power in the Senate and made him a target of national devotion and disdain.

Angela Evancie / VPR

Republicans Mark Donka, Don Russell and Donald Nolte are all vying for the chance to unseat Democrat Peter Welch in the US Congress in this fall’s elections. Vermont Edition heard from all three candidates in the first of VPR’s primary debates.

Don Russell and Donald Nolte are newcomers to Vermont politics; Mark Donka ran as the Republican nominee in 2012, losing to incumbent Peter Welch.

Bill Sumner / Julie Moir Messervy Design Studio

When you move into a new place, you might know you want the walls to be a different color, or the bookshelves to go in a certain place. But most of us don’t know where to start when it comes to designing the backyard. What kind of plants will attract birds to your backyard? Are there environmentally friendly design solutions that don't look terrible?  Why should you spend a bunch of money on a deck if you can only use it a few months of the year?

David Darricau / Flickr

Did you know that cinnamon is actually the bark from a tree? Imagine walking through a cinnamon forest...Hank Kaestner knows just what a that smells like. He spent 33 years buying spices around the world. He can also tell us about the unique way that vanilla plants are fertilized, and how much vanilla is actually in your vanilla extract.

We’ll talk to Hank Kaestner, who was a spice buyer for McCormick & Co., the world’s largest spice company, for 33 years.

John Curran / Associated Press

The Vermont State Fair has been plagued with problems this year. In February, the fair board removed Richard Rivers, who was the president and fair manager, when it was revealed the fair was over $200,000 in debt.

Contracts with several fair vendors were canceled, and the IRS came calling for back taxes.

Don Chioffi, the new President of the Rutland County Agricultural Society, which runs the Vermont State Fair, said this summer’s fair will put them back in black.

Remember scavenger hunts? Your team had to find a bunch of crazy items or perform wacky activities in order to win. In the digital age, scavenger hunts have gotten a lot bigger, and a lot more complicated.

Alden Pellett / AP

What would summer be without sticky cotton candy fingers, winning giant stuffed animals, and feeling slightly queasy on carnival rides? It’s the start of summer fair season we'll celebrate the age-old tradition of the county fair.

Alden Pellett / NRG

Imagine a building that produced more energy than it consumed. That sounds like something that only wealthy people or big institutions could afford to build, right? Not so, says Vermont architect William Maclay.  He says net-zero energy efficient design is affordable and achievable for everyone right now.

We talk to William Maclay about his book The New Net Zero.

Toby Talbot / AP

For a while, the iconic laughing call of the loon was rare in Vermont waters, but the bird population has been rebounding in recent years.

Saturday was the annual loon watch: More than 200 volunteers spread out across the state to survey loons. Eric Hanson, a conservation biologist with the Vermont Center for Ecostudies and the coordinator of the Vermont Loon Conservation project, joined Vermont Edition to talk about how this reclusive bird is faring in Vermont waters.

On the results of Saturday's loon watch

Sage Van Wing / VPR

Pizza is an American tradition like ice cream and apple pie, or hot dogs at baseball games. Most of us order a pie when we don’t feel like cooking, but it turns out pizza can be pretty fun and easy to make at home. As long as you get the dough right.

For a Summer School lesson in how to make pizza dough, we met up with Jay Vogler, owner of Pizza On Earth. He serves wood-fired pizza on Thursdays and Fridays throughout the summer at his Charlotte farm.

Bob Kinzel / VPR

Unless congress acts by the end of the month, the federal highway trust fund is going to run out of money.  That means many of the road construction projects underway in Vermont will have to be called off. Congressman Peter Welch is calling for a long-term, sustainable solution.

We talk to Congressman Welch about his support for an increase in the gas tax. We also talk about the migrant children coming across the southern border, and take your questions.

Broadcast live on Friday, July 18 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

A clock at Four Corners in Bennington, pictured here in July 2014
Angela Evancie / VPR File

The Southwestern corner of Vermont is geographically closer to Albany, Concord, Hartford than it is to Montpelier, but many of the challenges facing Bennington are familiar to the rest of the state. We talked with community leaders about Bennington's challenges and opportunities in front of a live audience at Madison Brewing Company on Main Street.

Phil Dokas / Flickr

You may have grown up eating Wonderbread, but if you’re inclined to expand your bread horizons, there are a LOT of bakers here in Vermont making loaves by hand. And it’s not just Vermont. Artisinal bread baking has taken off in cities like Seattle, New York, and San Francisco.

Rogelio V. Solis / AP

Fifty years ago, with the help of hundreds of volunteers, over 17,000 African Americans attempted to register to vote in the state of Mississippi. Only 1,600 of the applications were accepted by local registrars.

That kind of disenfranchisement was well understood in the rural south, but for the mostly white, mostly northern volunteers who came to Mississippi in the summer of 1964, the segregation and oppression they experienced there were eye opening.

Toby Talbot / AP

At the end of the last ice age, a good part of Vermont was under the sea. The retreating glaciers had pushed down the bedrock, allowing water from the Atlantic Ocean to stretch as far as southern Vermont. As the continental rock rebounded, the Champlain Sea eventually became lake Champlain, though fossils from that era can still be seen at Chazy reef in Isle La Motte.

Last week we conducted a series of interviews introducing the major party candidates who are challenging the current office holders for governor and lieutenant governor.

This is indeed an interesting primary season, with candidates switching parties in the gubernatorial race, Republicans struggling to find a party-endorsed candidate for governor and failing to put forward a full slate of down-ticket candidates.

Vermont Edition spoke with Bert Johnson, associate professor of political science at Middlebury College, to provide some context to the primary races in Vermont.

Toby Talbot / AP

When you buy a scratch-off ticket with your tank of gasoline or weekly groceries, are you thinking about contributing to the state’s education fund, or just about the possibility of winning? Last year, all the profits from the Vermont State Lottery sent $22 million dollars into the state’s education fund. But that’s still only 2% of the state’s education budget.

We talk to Greg Smith, Executive Director of the Vermont Lottery about how the money comes in, and where it goes. We also hear from Mike Wilson, UVM Mathematics Professor about what your chances actually are of winning.

BostonTx / Flickr

To wonder about the world around us is an essential part of being human. “We are that very rare aggregate of molecules that is able to ask questions about our existence and about the universe,” says physicist Marcelo Gleiser.

He contends that our quest for scientific understanding is like an island of knowledge: the more we know, the larger the island grows, but as the island grows, so too does the shoreline. The limits of our understanding increase even as our comprehension grows.

A deer tick, which can spread Lyme disease.
Victoria Arocho / AP

Lyme disease has become a growing concern for anyone who spends time enjoying the outdoors. And in Vermont, that’s nearly everyone.

The disease is spread through the bite of infected deer ticks. As concern has grown about Lyme disease, the number of tests to screen for the antibodies in the blood has also increased.