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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State officials missed a deadline required by law to notify the public about a sewage overflow in Rutland in which up to 10,000 gallons of untreated sewage and storm water flowed into East Creek.

Angela Evancie / VPR/file

Gov. Peter Shumlin joined a growing group of politicians and advocates calling for an ethics commission to examine conflicts of interest and other ethical issues within Vermont state government.

On Vermont Edition Monday, Shumlin said he supports the premise, though “the devil’s in the details.”

Shumlin said he wanted to be sure such a commission would hold everyone in all three branches of state government equally accountable and wouldn’t grow into a costly bureaucracy.

Angela Evancie / VPR File

A new survey from the AARP shows major gaps in public knowledge about the Vermont Gas Systems pipeline to Addison County. It also raises questions about whether the public feels the state department tasked with representing ratepayers has met those obligations.

Gov. Peter Shumlin issued a strong condemnation of a U.S. House vote Thursday that passed a bill that would preempt Vermont’s law requiring labeling of foods produced using genetically modified ingredients.

“Monsanto and their corporate food allies have millions of dollars to dedicate to this fight, and today’s vote shows that they are quite skilled in using those vast resources to buy votes in Congress,” Shumlin said in an email statement.

The union representing state employees filed an official allegation of unfair labor practices against the judiciary branch this week with the Vermont Labor Relations Board.

Jared C. Benedict / Wikimedia Commons

The board of Castleton State College voted unanimously Thursday to change the school’s name to Castleton University. The change makes Castleton the state's second public university.

University president Dave Wolk said the change reflects the institution that Castleton is becoming. Wolk said growth in the number of graduate programs and students, Castleton’s international recruitment efforts and its expanding presence around Vermont fit better with the “university” name.

“It reflects who we are as well as who we aspire to be,” Wolk said.

Stefan Hard for VPR

The state's draft rail plan released earlier this month says freight traffic on Vermont's railways is expected to grow 40 percent from 2007 levels over the next 20 years.

The plan focuses on making sure the state's railways have enough capacity to move all of that freight while safely carrying more passengers between Vermont cities, but serious questions remain about storing the train cars when they aren't moving.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Mel Hawley has worked for the city of Vergennes for the majority of his adult life, and he says he’s seen city maps from as early as 1910 that show underground sewer pipes. The city’s first wastewater plant was built in the early 1960s. Before that, he says, those sewer lines simply emptied into Otter Creek.

The Department of Environmental Conservation added 13 new positions this year to take on the major water quality efforts underway in the state. But it did so by removing 13 positions elsewhere in the department, a move officials hope won’t affect the department’s ability to protect the environment.

David Mears, the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, said the push for water quality led to cuts elsewhere in his department.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR/file

David Mears, the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, announced his plans to leave state government Thursday. Mears said he plans to return to Vermont Law School, where he will teach environmental law.

“There was an opportunity to go back and teach at Vermont Law School and those opportunities don’t come along that often and I really enjoyed the chance I’d had previously to work with students, so the chance to do that was highly appealing to me,” Mears said in an interview.

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