Taylor Dobbs

Digital Reporter

Taylor is VPR's digital reporter. After growing up in Vermont, he graduated with at BA in Journalism from Northeastern University in 2013.

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Champlain College is offering discounted online programs under a new partnership with the federal government, officials announced today.

The partnership opens up truEd, Champlain’s subscription-based online courses, to civilian federal employees and their dependents.

Sydney Smith-Heimbrock, the chief learning officer at the federal Office of Personnel Management, said the partnership is the second such agreement in a federal program launched last year to help close skills gaps within the federal workforce.

Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

Vermonters may soon have the option to get cell phone service through a new company, though it’s likely one they already use regularly.

The Burlington Electric Department shut down its online payment system this week after a reddit user found that users’ passwords were stored on an internal database without adequate encryption.

In a release about the vulnerability, the department said there is no reason to believe the database was breached, and disconnecting the server was a precaution.

Greg Schoppe, a web developer for Burlington Bytes, said he was concerned after he used the “forgot password” function on Burlington Electric’s online payment site.

Jeff Chiu / AP

Representatives Chris Pearson and Jean O’Sullivan introduced a bill this week to reinstate the prohibition of alcoholic beverages in Vermont, but they don’t want it to pass.

The bill, which would make possession of alcohol punishable by up to 30 years in prison and fines of $1 million, is the latest rhetorical flourish by lawmakers hoping to legalize marijuana in Vermont.

The Agency of Human Services announced Friday that seven Vermont communities will be part of a new, two-year program to help vulnerable children.

The “Promise Communities” will get guidance from  Promise Community coaches to develop a plan that will unite education, social services, health care and the private sector “to create an all-of-the-above, comprehensive approach to transforming communities to better support children with high needs,” according to a news release.

The communities are:

The widow of a man shot to death by a Burlington Police officer in 2013 is suing the city of Burlington and police officials over the incident.

In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court Friday, March 27, Barbara Brunette alleges a systemic failure within the police department to address the rising number of mental health calls in the city.

Angela Evancie / VPR

Gov. Peter Shumlin joined AT&T executives on Thursday to call attention to progress in Vermont's efforts to expand cellular coverage in the state, but cell service has become something of a liability to Shumlin.

On his first day as governor, he launched a program he said would help him deliver on a promise.

Gov. Peter Shumlin banned all “non-essential state funded or state sponsored travel to Indiana” on Tuesday, following other states and private groups that have cancelled events or travel to Indiana over the passage of the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The new Indiana law has drawn widespread criticism from advocates for equal rights, who say it creates a legal basis for businesses to deny service on the basis of sexual orientation.

Amid national controversy over Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin has invited one of the many groups boycotting Indiana to host its national conference in Vermont.

Shumlin is courting the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The union announced plans to change the venue for its 2015 Women’s Conference, originally scheduled to take place in October in Indiana.

FTwitty / iStock

Mary Hoerig spends a lot of time talking about uncomfortable subjects.

“Who’s dying here?” she asks, pointing to a graph in front of a room full of law enforcement trainers from across the state. One says quietly  "black" - and Hoerig responds quickly, her point made: “Unarmed black men, potentially," she says.

Hoerig is an inspector with the Milwaukee Police Department, and she stood before about 20 Vermont law enforcement instructors Friday in a workshop teaching them how to train officers to avoid discriminatory policing.