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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VPR/Steve Zind

Smaller airports are feeling the crunch as airlines continue to cut costs.  The big carriers are consolidating services at larger airports and flying fewer planes in and out of smaller ones.

At Burlington Airport passenger numbers are higher than they were a decade ago, but they’ve declined nearly 18 percent since they peaked five years ago.

Burlington isn’t alone – and it’s faring better than many other airports of similar size.

The Air Force has issued a revised draft report on the impact of bringing the F-35 jet fighter to Burlington. The report is a follow up to last year’s Environmental Impact Statement. 

The Air Force says the Vermont Air National Guard facility at Burlington International Airport is a preferred location for the new generation of planes, which have been troubled by delays, mechanical difficulties and cost overruns.

The Vermont National Guard says a new draft report on the environmental impact of the F35A will likely be released Friday. 

The Air Force is considering basing the jet fighter at the Air Guard facility in South Burlington, but the report may fuel more opposition to the idea.

Speaking at a hastily called news conference Wednesday afternoon, Vermont Adjutant General Steven Cray said the new draft will be based on 2010 census data.   The previous environmental impact statement incorporated census figures from 2000.

VT State Website / State of Vermont

Vermonters have long been required to pay a tax on out of state purchases.  The problem is, most people don’t. 

The state estimates the lion’s share of those purchases is made online. And they will be taxed by the business making the Internet sale if a bill pending in Congress is enacted.

So that leaves the matter of purchases Vermonters make when they cross the border to shop.

Paying a use tax on those items will continue to depend on an honor system that hasn’t yielded much money for state coffers.

VPR/Steve Zind

There were Memorial Day events around the state Monday to honor members of the military who died while serving the country. One annual event in Randolph takes place near the spot where a World War II bomber crashed 70 years ago.

On June 27, 1943 a B-17 Flying Fortress fell from the sky and crashed on a Randolph hillside.  The plane was flying to Bangor, Maine, before heading on to the war in Europe.  Seven crew members managed to parachute to safety, but three others died.  

Power is gradually being restored after a storm brought rain, snow and some local flooding to Vermont.  By early Sunday, utilities reported fewer than 500 customers were still without electricity.

That number had climbed into the thousands Saturday as crews responded to outages caused by heavy rains. Green Mountain Power, the state's largest utility, says it has restored power to approximately 12,000 customers.

Hazelett Strip Casting is a Colchester company  that makes massive machines which help turn molten metal into rolls and sheets. Hazelett is clearly in the manufacturing business.   So is Sean Lawson who makes his award winning beer, Lawson’s Finest Liquids, in a brewery located next to his home.  The food production part of Vermont’s manufacturing sector, which includes Lawson's Finest, is having great success competing globally and contributing to Vermont’s economic growth.  

Toby Talbot / AP

After a disappointing first quarter earnings report, IBM announced there will be layoffs in the second quarter.  The company says most of the job cuts would take place outside the U.S. but in recent days there have been rumors that cuts are imminent at domestic IBM facilities, including in Vermont.

Despite the fact IBM employs fewer people than it once did at the Essex Junction plant, IBM's fortunes are still important to the state’s job picture and its economy.   

This week is Way To Go Week,  and Vermonters are being encouraged to carpool or use mass transit to get to work.

That’s become easier in recent years with the expansion of commuter bus service. But connecting by bus to more distant points is a  problem. 

Now the state has a plan to make it easier for Vermonters to catch an intercity bus., which are busses that either carry passengers to a large population center or connect lines that serve regional cities.   

VPR/Steve Zind

The shortage of qualified workers is a problem that’s become increasingly urgent for manufacturers across the country and in Vermont.

For years technical programs at high schools have been teaching basic skills, but the specialized needs of modern manufacturers demand more specialized training and an approach customized to individual manufacturers.  

For Velan Valve Corporation the problem finding machinists became evident a few years back. 

Whenever the company advertised an opening  there were lots of applicants but no one was qualified.

Amtrak’s northbound Vermonter leaves Washington D.C.’s Union Station shortly after 8 in the morning.  For the first several hours the view from the window provides a fascinating study of the sheer volume and variety of litter and industrial detritus that lies behind urban factory yards and warehouses.

“We have promised to have high speed internet access to every last mile by the end of 2013,”  declared Governor Peter Shumlin at a December, 2012 news conference.  It's a statement he's made numerous times.

Today, state officials are still promising that by the end of the year all Vermonters will have access to broadband internet.

As broadband has become more widely available, the state has continued to focus on those places with no high speed Internet in order to reach its goal.

Courtesy Brigham and Women's Hospital

A Thetford woman who received a face transplant two months ago made her first public appearance today.

44 year old Carmen Blandin Tarleton was severely burned six years ago when her estranged husband attacked her with industrial strength lye.

Tarleton spoke at a press conference at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston where the surgery was performed.

The difference between Tarleton’s badly disfigured face before the transplant and her new face is striking.

The Small Business Administration recently held meetings in Waterbury and Wilmington, the Vermont towns that experienced the most serious damage to their business districts when Tropical Storm Irene hit.

Homeowners can qualify grants to help pay the costs of Irene repairs.  There is little grant money available to businesses, so many sought disaster assistance loans.

VPR/Steve Zind

The view that economic growth improves our lives is the opinion of a the vast majority economists and the general public. 

But for nearly two hours Wednesday afternoon, those who question the benefits of growth got equal time.

If the idea of four University of Vermont professors debating economic growth sounds sleep inducing – it was dispelled by the informal title of the debate:  “The Rumble in the Econ Jungle”.  

This was an energetic and entertaining event for the benefit of the crowd of students who came in out of the sunshine to listen.

While Governor Peter Shumlin hails the recent drop in Vermont's unemployment rate, the numbers behind the 4.1% figure are raising concerns.  That's because the size of the state's labor force continues to shrink. 

Many Vermont businesses that suffered damage in Tropical Storm Irene had to rely on loans to reopen.

Once source of money was the Small Business Administration.  But many owners were frustrated by the process. 

On  Monday  SBA representatives were in Waterbury and Wilmington to listen to suggestions about how to improve how the agency responds to disasters.

At the Waterbury meeting it took Albert Caron about 12 minutes to get through a bare bones description of his experience applying for SBA loan to help cover the damage to his Waterbury auto service center.

In the state’s effort to provide broadband access to all Vermonters by years’ end the focus is on some of the most difficult to reach areas. 

Many of them involve just a handful of addresses.

One recent state grant designed to bring service to a small part of Orange County also represents a milestone in the history of ECFiber. 

The non-profit municipally owned provider has relied almost exclusively on small local investors to build its network.

Vermont officials say some hard-to-reach parts of the state will soon have cell phone coverage thanks to the successful test of a new system.

For Vermont cell phone users reception difficulties stem from two problems:

First, the terrain which often blocks the signals from cell phone towers. 

The second reason is economic. 

In its 20 year history, the Vermont Folklife Center's Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program has sponsored hundreds of apprenticeships.

In recent years it's been focused on helping Vermont's immigrant communities preserve the traditions of their home countries.

For one Congolese man, that's meant teaching young people the dance and music of their native culture. Lusenge Siriwayo leads Ngoma ya kwetu, an African dance troupe.