Susan Keese

Producer, Reporter

Susan Keese was VPR's southern Vermont reporter, based at the VPR studio in Manchester at Burr & Burton Academy. After many years as a print journalist and magazine writer, Susan started producing stories for VPR in 2002. From 2007-2009, she worked as a producer, helping to launch the noontime show Vermont Edition. Susan has won numerous journalism awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for her reporting on VPR. She wrote a column for the Sunday Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. Her work has appeared in Vermont Life, the Boston Globe Magazine, The New York Times and other publications, as well as on NPR. 

Susan passed away in 2015.

Ways to Connect

Entergy

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission wants comments on Entergy Nuclear’s plan for decommissioning Vermont Yankee. The agency will hold a public meeting on the plan in Brattleboro on Feb. 19.

A.J. Marro / The Rutland Herald

For more than a decade, the Opera Theatre of Weston has introduced Vermont children - and in many cases their families - to the world of opera. The company’s latest offering is the East Coast premier of "The Secret Garden."  It's an operatic rendering of the much-loved children's book by Frances Hodgson Burnett, composed by Nolan Gasser for the San Francisco Opera, where it premiered in 2013.

Susan Keese / VPR

The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant entered its final shutdown Monday at 1:03 p.m. The 620-megawatt reactor has been generating electricity for more than 42 years.

Susan Keese / VPR

Reactor operators at Vermont Yankee are gearing up for the nuclear plant’s final shutdown this coming Monday. Among other preparation, they’ve been training on a control room simulator at the company’s corporate offices in Brattleboro.

Jason R. Henske / AP

In less than two weeks, the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant will enter its final shutdown. The Vernon reactor has generated electricity on the banks of the Connecticut River since 1972. It’s also generated public discord, litigation and mistrust. Officials on both sides hope that’s coming to an end, now that the plant is closing. But with decades of cleanup and decommissioning ahead, the saga of Vermont Yankee and the state is far from over.

Visitors to even the least restricted areas at Vermont Yankee must stop at the gatehouse and show their ID.

Susan Keese / VPR

Gov. Peter Shumlin was in Brattleboro Friday to name the recipients of the first $2 million in economic development funds from Entergy Vermont Yankee. In a settlement with the state a year ago, Entergy pledged $10 million over five years to help Windham County bounce back after the plant closes later this month.

The owners of Vermont Yankee have avoided one battle with the state over the use of funds set aside for decommissioning the plant. The reactor is shutting down at the end of the month. At a teleconference Monday Entergy said it would not use the Decommissioning Trust Fund to pay for the transfer of radioactive fuel from the reactor into safer 'dry-cask storage' on the Vernon site. Entergy says the transfer will be funded through private credit instead.

Susan Keese / VPR

The closing of Vermont's only school for the deaf has opened new debate about the best way to educate deaf and hard-of-hearing children. For decades, mainstreaming in public schools has been seen as a more enlightened alternative to residential schools for the deaf.  Now some Vermonters are questioning that assumption.

The report was prepared by the State Agency of Administration. Its goal is to develop a plan for eliminating the home’s need for state subsidies by 2018. The study attributes recent shortfalls in part to a low census. The facility is budgeted for 171 beds but typically has fewer than 130 residents.

But Steve Howard of the Vermont State Employees Association, which represents workers at the home, says downsizing isn’t the answer.

Susan Keese / VPR

The Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund has allocated $1.6 million to develop a wood-pellet heating industry in Windham County. The funding group has put out a call for proposals to design and run the program.

The funds are part of a final $5.3 million clean energy payment from Entergy Vermont Yankee, which is closing at the end of the year. At least $2.6 million of that is earmarked for Windham County, the region expected to be hardest hit economically by the closure.

Susan Keese / VPR

More than 40 Vernon residents turned out for their town select board meeting Monday. Many said they’d come to air frustrations with the board and with the leadership of Select Board Chairwoman Patty O’Donnell. Their efforts were stymied when board members declared that public participation at the meeting was limited by law to issues on the agenda.

O’Donnell, a former state legislator, is under investigation for allegedly trying to intervene in a friend’s drunk driving arrest. Since the allegations became public disgruntled residents like Sue Cobb have been showing up at meetings.

Susan Keese / VPR

Two dozen fallow deer confiscated from Santa's Land in Putney have a new home. They’re living in the deer park at the Vermont Veterans Home in Bennington. The 22 deer were the last of more than 40 animals removed from the once popular theme roadside park. A llama, an emu, and assorted goats, ponies, donkeys and birds have been taken in by volunteers.

The park’s owner, Lilian Billewicz, and her employee, Brian Deistler, are awaiting trial on animal abuse charges. Last winter some 20 animals were found dead at the park. Others were emaciated and living in unsanitary conditions.

Joe Krawczyk / submitted photo

Longtime Bennington Town Clerk Timothy Corcoran died at his home Thursday of cancer at the age of 64.  Corcoran also served on the Bennington Select Board and in the legislature for 16 years. He was known in political circles as "the Mayor of Bennington."

It was often said that no one knew more about Bennington and its people than Tim Corcoran. A VPR recording from the Bennington Firehouse during a 2010 election, shows him in his element, greeting townspeople by name and directing them to the right lines.    

Vermont’s newly formed Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel held its second meeting last month at the Vernon Elementary School.

The panel was created to encourage communication between Entergy Vermont Yankee, the state, and communities around the plant. The reactor is closing in December. It’s expected to take decades to dismantle.

Chris Recchia, the commissioner of the Public Service department, is the panel’s acting chairman. He says communication with Entergy has improved, but areas of disagreement remain.

Susan Keese / VPR

The chairwoman of the Vernon Select board is under investigation on allegations that she tried to interfere with a drunk driving arrest in her town. Vernon Selectboard Chairwoman Patty O’Donnell denies those allegations. She says she objected not to the arrest, but to "aggressive behavior" by a sheriff’s deputy.

A three-way contest is underway for the two Senate seats that represent Bennington County and the Windham County town of Wilmington. Two Democrats – a longtime senate incumbent and a current house member – are running as a team. They face a relative political newcomer  who’s running as a Republican.

Jason R. Henske / AP/File

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is questioning Entergy Vermont Yankee’s claims that the risk of accidents is negligible after the plant stops operating. 

Entergy Vermont Yankee applied to the NRC in March for permission to scale back emergency planning once its fuel is moved from the reactor core to the spent fuel pool. That includes eliminating or drastically reducing emergency planning zones in towns surrounding the facility.

Mark Burke

The Vermont Jazz Center has been honored with a national Acclaim Award from Chamber Music America. The award recognizes arts organizations around the country for “extraordinary cultural contributions” in the regions they serve.

The award was presented Saturday at a concert at the jazz center’s performance space at the Cotton Mill, an old Brattleboro factory. Vermont Jazz Center Director Eugene Uman says the space invites creativity.

AP File Photo

A Site Assessment Study released by Entergy Vermont Yankee Friday significantly raises the estimated cost of retiring the Vernon plant. The report also provides an early estimate of the timetable for decommissioning, which Entergy says could begin in about three decades.

John Dillon / VPR

A coalition of  deaf and hard-of-hearing Vermonters and their allies wants the legislature to create a state Commission on the Deaf. The group is also calling for the state to reopen the recently closed Austine School for the Deaf as a state school. And they want deaf people to have a say in replacing services that ended when Austine’s parent group dissolved in September.

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