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.

Ways to Connect

Vermont's largest hospital is now state's largest private employer. Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington says it employs 7,100 people. 

That’s a significantly larger workforce than at the nearby IBM plant in Essex Junction, which was Vermont’s largest private employer for many years. 

Layoffs in recent years have resulted in a decline in the number of IBM jobs; from a high of more than 8,000 to an estimated 4,000 today in Chittenden County. The company does not release information on employee numbers.

When Tropical Storm Irene raged through Vermont it shattered homes and businesses, roads and bridges. 1,400 households were displaced.  Many people were left with nothing, except the muddied remnants of their belongings. Some lost their homes and their jobs. The storm had eroded the foundations of many people’s lives. But others reached out to help.

Interactive Map Of FEMA Funds Distributed/Allocated In Vermont

Vermont State Police say rescue crews have recovered the body of a man who drowned when he was swept over Bartlett Falls in Bristol.  26-year-old Steven Orvis disappeared Thursday.  Efforts to find Orvis were curtailed due to rain and dangerous conditions.  His body was found Friday morning.

On Friday police reported a drowning at Lake Groton.  24-year-old Kirk Biancardi of Grafton, Mass. was found in about 2 feet of water.  Authorities say there were no signs of foul play.

VPR/Patti Daniels

Transportation officials estimate the damage to state roads from this week’s flooding exceeds $3 million.   

Town roads in numerous communities have also been damaged.

Governor Peter Shumlin says some of flooding is washing away work that was done less than two years ago along the same stretches of road that were destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene.

VPR/Steve Zind

Agriculture officials say the rain has been a problem for Vermont farmers, but it’s difficult to generalize about its affect.  The amount of rainfall, the type of soil, the crops being grown and the farming practices used, are all factors.

But the rain is a challenge even where fields aren’t inundated.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture doesn’t keep a tally of how many acres of farmland are affected by the heavy rains, but there’s plenty of anecdotal information about delayed or ruined crops and hayfields too wet to harvest. 

VPR/Steve Zind

Roads in Central Vermont are the latest to be closed as heavy downpours continue to plague the region. 

Late Thursday afternoon state police reported the following roads were closed:

Courtesy Brigantine Media

Author and scholar Franklin Reeve of Wilmington has died.  Reeve was 84.  He was the father of the late actor Christopher Reeve.

Franklin Reeve was many things:  Poet, novelist, translator, teacher, scholar, critic.   He was a tall, rugged man; vigorous and charming says writer and Middlebury College professor Jay Parini.

“Sometimes people make a vivid impression in the world.  When you meet them, they have a kind of radiant quality.  Frank had this kind of luminous intelligence,” Parini says.

Mapping The Money / VPR

VPR’s online Mapping the Money project includes a breakdown the $185 million spent by FEMA on Tropical Storm Irene. 

The largest expenditures were for road and bridge repair, but there was money, also, to tend to the emotional needs of those recovering from the storm’s devastation.

Thousand of Vermonters feeling the emotional impact of losing a home or property to Irene took advantage of the services to alleviate what one mental health case manager called “The Mess of Stress”. 

As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and president pro tem of the Senate, Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy managed the effort to win approval for the immigration bill known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act. 

In January, Leahy announced that immigration reform would be his committee’s top priority.  Approval of the bill by the U.S. Senate vote comes after a series of hearings and five mark-ups.

VPR/Annie Russell

In Vermont long-time supporters of equal rights for same sex couples celebrated Wednesday’s  U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Vermonters who have fought for recognition of same-sex marriage felt a particular stake in the court case and pride in the ruling because of the state’s role in the history of the movement.

At the RU12 Community Center in Burlington members of the LGBT organization celebrated when the Supreme Court decision was announced.

Vermont’s U.S. Senators are expressing dismay over today’s Supreme Court ruling striking down a central provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. 

Senator Patrick Leahy said the court’s action means those who were protected by the law will likely face greater difficulty casting ballots in future elections.

The sole employee of a small Vermont credit union has been charged with embezzlement.  A grand jury returned an indictment against Debra Kinney who was CEO and president of Border Lodge Credit Union in Derby Line.  

The credit union was closed last November by the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation.

The indictment brought in U.S. District Court for Vermont charges Kinney with embezzling funds over a two year period between 2010 and 2012.  

AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson

Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum resigned his office Tuesday amid allegations of corruption, saying he would focus on defending himself. Applebaum had been arrested early Monday morning at his home and was charged with 14 counts of corruption, which he says are unfounded.

Wed 6/19/13 Noon & 7PM A new law makes it illegal to feed bears, a practice that had led to increase in nuisance bears getting too comfortable in populated areas. But state wildlife officials say it is not the bears' fault, but rather it is people who are the problem. We learn more from Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Patrick Berry and state bear biologist Forrest Hammond.

Post your questions and comments below or on Vermont Edition's Facebook page.

Photo Coutesy, Population Media Center

The Population Media Center is a Vermont non-profit based in Shelburne.  Their focus is on population growth and reproductive health.  They get their message across by creating entertainment with an educational angle which is used in developing countries. Now they’ve released a TV show aimed at  Latino teenagers in Los Angeles.

The TV show is called East Los High and it’s distributed online on Hulu.

Courtesy of Ben Hewitt

Tues 6/18/13 Noon & 7PM   We think we know money. We’ve been trying to accumulate it and we’ve been spending it faster than we can make it for a long time. So what would it take to change our perception of money?

For Cabot farmer and author Ben Hewitt, it was watching how a neighbor earning less than $10,000 a year derived great pleasure from the simple things in life. That inspired Hewitt to write his latest book, “Saved: How I Quit Worrying About Money and Became the Richest Guy in the World.”

Associated Press

Mon 6/17/13 Noon & 7PM  Country music has deep roots in Vermont and a small but thriving group of musicians keep the scene alive here. But to make it big, many musicians from Vermont find their way to Nashville and use the regional traditions that got them started to find success.

Mapping The Money / VPR

FEMA has spent more than $185 million dollars in Vermont to assist with Tropical Storm Irene recovery.  The total is significantly higher than any other sources of recovery funds.

Interactive Map Of Irene FEMA Funds Distributed In Vermont

According to information compiled by VPR, towns, rather than the state, received the lion’s share of the money.

$142 million was spent on individual assistance and for local infrastructure repairs. The largest portion was to fix roads and bridges.

It is not clear yet how many people are being laid off at the IBM plant in Essex Junction.

Essex Town Manager Pat Scheidel says he doesn’t have any official word on the number of layoffs, but he says he’s been told by a reliable source that 450 jobs will be cut.  Scheidel says his community is keenly aware of the role IBM plays in the local economy and there’s always anxiety when layoffs are announced.

“I would say there’s a real hypersensitivity,” he says. “Everybody takes a deep breath and they’re slow to exhale.”

AP File/Toby Talbot

A new round of layoffs has hit the IBM plant in Chittenden County.

After several weeks of speculation, Governor Peter Shumlin announced today that IBM has told the state it is laying off workers at its Essex Junction facility.

The exact number isn't known and the company says it will not discuss the layoffs.

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