Steve Zind

Senior Reporter & Special Projects Producer

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.

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Toby Talbot / AP

Ridership on Amtrak’s Vermonter is at its highest level ever.

Vermont rail officials say track improvements have cut travel time to New York, which has helped attract riders. There are also plans to restore service to Montreal.

Union organizing efforts by adjunct faculty at Champlain College and Burlington College came to a successful conclusion Monday.  A union vote at a third college will be announced next week.

The majority of adjunct faculty at the two colleges voted to join the Service Employees International Union, which has been organizing at colleges around the country. 

Naomi Winterfalcon, who helped organize the union effort at Champlain College, says the union "seemed like a pipe dream at the beginning of the semester."

VPR/Steve Zind

Members of the two unions on strike against FairPoint Communications rallied in Montpelier Thursday. They were more than a month past their last paychecks. The company has also discontinued their health insurance.

Lineman Kevin Major of Barre Town says he’s living off savings and some part time work.

“[I'm] doing some side jobs, fall cleanups and stuff like that, trying to pick up a little bit of money here and there," says Major, a 27-year veteran with FairPoint and its predecessors.

Vermont’s unemployment rate held steady at 4.4 percent in October, ending a series of monthly increases.

The October rate is the same as it was one year ago. In the past 12 months, unemployment fell as low as 3.3 percent (in April and May, 2014) before climbing to its current level.

Negotiators for two unions and FairPoint Communications met in Boston Tuesday, but both sides say there was no progress in reaching an agreement.

It was the first meeting since FairPoint declared an impasse in August and unilaterally imposed the contract terms it had been seeking. Union members in Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire went on strike in October.  

Middlebury College

Middlebury College has named the first female president in its 214-year history. College trustees announced today that Laurie L. Patton will succeed Ronald Liebowitz, who will step down at the end of the academic year.

The 53-year-old Patton is currently dean of Duke University’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, which has more than 5,000 students.

Her academic background is in religious studies. She has written books on South Asian history, culture and religion and translated classic Sanskrit texts.

Steve Zind / VPR

FairPoint Communications has had a bumpy ride since the company took over Verizon’s land line service. Debt, bankruptcy, service quality issues and a labor dispute have all contributed to the difficulties.

Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont have all provided FairPoint Communications with relief from some state oversight in an effort to allow the company to better compete with less regulated telecom providers.

Vermont’s current incentive regulation plan for FairPoint went into effect in 2012.

The company is now before the Public Service Board requesting a successor plan that would run from 2015 to 2019.

The existing plan caps increases in basic landline services at 11 percent or $2 per year, whichever is less, while freeing the company to change rates for other services.

Steve Zind / VPR

When GlobalFoundries takes over IBM’s semiconductor plant in Essex Junction, employees there will become part of a young company that has grown rapidly in the five years since it was established.

The IBM facilities in Vermont and East Fishkill, New York will join a worldwide network of eight GlobalFoundries fabrication plants, or "fabs," that currently employ more than 13,000 people.

The majority of Vermont manufacturers are on the small side. With 18 employees, Moscow Mills Vibrations Solutions North in Stowe, fits that profile. What’s unusual about the company is that it often manufactures a single item for one of its customers.

“This is a hip joint for a thighbone for a bipedal robot that actually walks around like a human,” says company CEO Anderson Leveille as he takes a some bright metal pieces from a shelf near his desk.