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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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.

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.