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

Courtesy Brooks House Development

Brattleboro celebrated the reopening of an important downtown building Friday. The historic Brooks House was heavily damaged by fire in 2011. But now it’s back in business. 

The 140-year-old landmark, with its store fronts and ornate towers, stood vacant for three years after the fire. It left a big hole in Brattleboro’s downtown. The building cost $24 million to restore, significantly more than its listed value. The project was spearheaded by local investors, and financed through tax credits, grants, loans and government programs.

Susan Keese / VPR

A repeat inspection this week has found the Brattleboro Retreat remains out of compliance with federal Medicare and Medicaid standards.

The psychiatric hospital was threatened with the loss of federal funds because of problems identified in earlier inspections. But it now has another chance to keep its Medicare certification.

A team of state regulators carried out the three day return inspection on behalf of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS.

Susan Keese / VPR

A team from the Vermont Division of Licensing and Protection is at the Brattleboro Retreat this week conducting an unannounced inspection.

The state inspectors are at the psychiatric hospital on behalf of the federal agency that governs Medicare and Medicaid. The Retreat stands to lose its federal funding if problems cited in two recent inspections haven’t been corrected.

Susan Keese / VPR

Entergy Vermont Yankee says it's looking forward to a new era of cooperation as the plant the plant winds down operations this year. The comments came as the Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel held its first meeting last Thursday at Brattleboro Union High School.

Susan Keese / VPR

Alumni from the shuttered Austine School for the Deaf in Brattleboro want the state to reopen the facility as a state school for the deaf.

The group also wants a re-evaluation of outreach programs that have placed deaf and hard of hearing children into mainstream programs at public schools.

James Tucker spent seven years as a deaf student in public schools. Then in 1974 he went to Austine as a freshman. Speaking through an interpreter, Tucker says being in a place where everyone used American sign language saved him from a life of isolation and unhappiness.

The Vermont Agency of Education has tapped a Montpelier nonprofit group to oversee outreach services for Vermont children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Those services faced an uncertain future when the Brattleboro-based Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing closed abruptly earlier this month.

Susan Keese / VPR

In Springfield Monday night, more than 200 people turned out to consider ways to deal with the problem of drugs and criminal behavior in town.

Rutland Police Chief James Baker was asked to come to Springfield to talk about Rutland’s approach to similar problems over the past few years. Baker is also the former director of the Vermont State Police. He said it takes more than police action to deal with drugs and crime. It takes creating an environment that isn’t conducive to illegal activity.

Susan Keese / VPR News

The town of Springfield has been considering an anti-loitering ordinance to help keep drugs and criminal activity off the streets. Those efforts have led to a broader discussion of the town’s problems.

Sitting in the Jenny Wren Café on Springfield’s main downtown street, Kimberly Bombria says she’s seen a lot of gang activity and drug sales. She traces much of the problem to tenants of the building that also houses the cafe.

Susan Keese / VPR

The school that canceled its homecoming semi-formal in response to a sexually suggestive dance craze has scheduled a new dance. But twerking won’t be tolerated at Bennington’s Mount Anthony Union High School.

Twerking has been around long enough to make it into online versions of Britain’s Oxford Dictionary. It’s defined as dancing “in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.”

Dave Cohen

Studies show that people are increasingly choosing bicycles as a healthier, greener alternative to their cars. But Vermont’s hills pose challenges that some people can’t handle. That might explain the burgeoning interest in electric-assist bicycles.

On a Brattleboro side street recently about a dozen e-bike riders met to exchange information and compares notes on their equipment. The gathering resembled one of those car meet-ups, where people open their hoods and inspect each other’s engines. But the closest thing to engines here were electric motors and rechargeable batteries.

State officials have named six members to a new panel that will oversee the decommissioning of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

The 19-member panel was created to help assure transparency, communication and citizen involvement as Vermont Yankee is dismantled. The nuclear plant is scheduled to stop operating in December.

Susan Keese / VPR

The Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing plans to close by the end of September. The center’s trustees made the decision at an emergency meeting late last week, citing ongoing financial problems as the cause.

The center provides a wide range of services for the deaf and hard of hearing. It’s headquartered on the sprawling campus of the Austine School in Brattleboro. The 100-year-old residential school has been under the center’s umbrella since 1998.

Susan Keese / VPR

The agency that oversees Medicare and Medicaid has approved a plan by the Brattleboro Retreat to correct problems found during a recent inspection. The psychiatric hospital was warned that its Medicare and Medicaid contract would end unless it filed correction plans by the beginning of this week.

The psychiatric hospital's most recent problems surfaced during a special inspection this summer, triggered by a fight in the hospital’s adolescent unit. The incident sent four employees to the hospital.

Susan Keese / VPR

Officials have removed a number of the animals from the shuttered Santa’s Land theme park in Putney. The park’s owner and her employee were already facing animal cruelty charges, after about 20 animals died this winter. They now face additional charges alleging that they failed to follow a court-ordered animal care plan.

Since March, animal rights advocates have been calling for authorities to remove the animals from Santa’s Land.

Susan Keese / VPR

The Brattleboro Retreat has until September 2 to file plans for correcting problems found during a recent inspection. The hospital’s Medicare and Medicaid contracts could be terminated if it fails to comply.

The retreat’s latest problems surfaced in an inspection that was prompted by an altercation on the hospital’s adolescent unit, which sent four employees to the hospital. Regulators say the retreat followed proper protocol in that incident, but they found new problems that were deemed potential threats to

patient safety.

Tim Ford / Weston Playhouse

The Russian writer Anton Chekhov wrote his plays in the late 1800s. But his characters are as richly layered and recognizably human as those in any modern drama. A new translation and adaptation of Chekhov’s 'Uncle Vanya' at the Weston Playhouse Theater brings the play even closer to contemporary life.

Susan Keese / VPR

Three years after Tropical Storm Irene, much of Vermont’s damaged infrastructure has been repaired. The federal government has dispensed more than $600 million to help make that happen. But some towns are still struggling. One of them is Bennington. 

The town is about to enter the final round of a battle with FEMA over funding for emergency work on the Roaring Branch of the Walloomsac River.

Toby Talbot / AP/file

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has ruled that spent nuclear fuel can be safely stored indefinitely at decommissioned nuclear power plants.

The rule stems from a 2012 appeals court ruling ordering the NRC to consider the chance that a long-promised, permanent nuclear waste repository might never be built. The court also ordered the agency to do further analysis of the risks of spent fuel pool leaks and fires.

Voters in Windham County’s democratic senate primary chose incumbent Senator Jeanette White  of Putney to run for a seventh term in November. White was the top vote-getter in a four-way race for two senate seats.

"I think it says that people think I listen to their concerns," White says. "I don’t know that they always like the votes that I take, but I think they like the way I approach issues."

Toby Talbot / AP

The owners of Vermont Yankee are asking the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for permission to cut the number of personnel it assigns to some emergency operations. If approved, the staff changes would take effect when Yankee stops operating later this year. The Shumlin Administration is still evaluating the proposal.

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