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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A renovated University in Vermont building earned the highest LEED rating of any building in the state, university officials announced Monday.

The Aiken Center, home to UVM's Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, earned a platinum LEED rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. There are only five other buildings in the state with a platinum rating. Two others are on college campuses - one at Middlebury and one at Champlain College.

The Aiken Center received the highest LEED score of any of Vermont's platinum buildings with 60 of 69 potential points.

Former Governor Madeleine Kunin with Rep. Sarah Buxton.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Former Governor Madeleine Kunin doesn't want to be known as the only female governor in Vermont's history. She announced Monday that the state is joining 13 others in Emerge America, a San Francisco-based 501c(4) non-profit seeking to get more women Democrats into elected office.

"There's room on the statehouse walls for another portrait," Kunin said, referencing the tradition of mounting a portrait of each governor in the statehouse. She hopes another woman's portrait will join her's there.

The Chairman of the Vermont Republican State Committee, Jack Lindley, was hospitalized Friday at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover, where his family says he remains in critical condition.

Until Lindley returns to work, Vice Chairman of the State Committee Deborah Bucknan will take over Lindley’s duties as Chairman.

Mark Snelling of the Vermont Republican State Committee said “doctors really don’t know what caused his condition," adding only that it’s not obvious what caused the ailment.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

When Patti Casey traveled to Milton last week to collect mosquitoes from the Agency of Agriculture's traps, she was disappointed to only find one mosquito. As one of four members of the state's team charged with trapping and testing mosquitoes for viruses like West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), her time is valuable. One bug isn't much of a sample size, but she brought it back to the state's lab in Berlin along with mosquitoes trapped at other sites in Northwestern Vermont.


Some Vermont cities have seen a spike in late-summer crime this year, with burglaries and other property crimes such as vehicle break-ins on the rise. Montpelier and Winooski both show a significant increase in burglaries in the second half of this summer over the same time last year, while Rutland saw a smaller increase. Burlington's burglaries decreased from last year.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

State Police arrested 35 suspected drug dealers today in a large-scale sweep of Franklin County.

Announced just before 9 a.m., Operation Northern Lights targeted 50 drug dealers in and around St. Albans. Police were out in force, searching for 15 more suspects through the afternoon.

The operation targeted mostly dealers of heroin and other opiates, police said. It was the culmination of a series of undercover drug buys by the Vermont Drug Task Force. Officials said they planned to charge all 50 targeted suspects with felonies.

Helen Holmes, 59, of Townshend, has been missing since Sept. 6, 2013.
Courtesy / Vermont State Police

Ten days after Townshend resident Helen Holmes went missing, police don’t have any leads.

Police began the search for Holmes at 2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 6 when she missed an appointment and they were asked to check on her. The last time she was seen was at 9:00 that morning at her home. In more than a week of searching, police haven’t turned up any new leads.

Customs and Border Protection conducted a helicopter search of the Jamaica and Townshend areas on Saturday, but haven’t been able to find Holmes or her red Subaru Forester.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

BURLINGTON - Mayor Miro Weinberger has plans for the city’s South End, and the Champlain Parkway is just the beginning.

That project, which looks more likely after Vermont Railway dropped a lawsuit this week, is set to extend Interstate 189 in a sweeping loop from its current endpoint at Shelburne Road west and north toward Pine Street. The plan includes funding to make Pine Street more accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists.

U.S. Navy

The Missile Defense Agency informed Senator Patrick Leahy today that the Camp Ethan Allen Training Site in Jericho is one of five locations under consideration for an interceptor missile program.

In a letter (PDF) from the agency to Leahy's office, agency director J.D. Syring said the MDA "will contact the installation commands as part of a data gathering process associated with the siting study assessing potential candidate interceptor sites."

PRNewsFoto / Orkin, LLC

State officials announced today that a horse in Swanton died on Aug. 27 of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, commonly known as EEE.

In a release from the Vermont Department of Health, Commissioner Harry Chen said people in Highgate and Swanton are "considered to be at high risk for EEE, based on this evidence."

Health department spokesman Robert Stirewalt said the state would not release the exact name or location of the farm, but confirmed that it was in Swanton. 

The superintendent of Burlington's public schools today announced that the district is looking into allegations that an unnamed staff member at Burlington High School did not disclose information about an inappropriate student-teacher relationship.

The district's written statement refers to an internal report which states that a staff member may have had enough information about a sexual relationship between a student and Spanish teacher Giovanna Yaranga to trigger the district's mandatory reporting policy.

According to Superintendent Jeanne Collins' press release:

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

A drug treatment facility opened in South Burlington last week despite a pending court case that could force it to shut down. HowardCenter’s new medically-assisted treatment facility – commonly known as a methadone clinic – opened on San Remo drive, close to South Burlington High School and Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School.

Champlain College and the University of Vermont are both on the rise within the higher education community, according to new U.S. News & World Report Rankings released today.

Champlain took first place in list of "up-and-coming" colleges in the northeast, and UVM was 14th in the nation on the "up-and-coming" list. Those schools are chosen based on an annual survey of college and university administrators.

Champlain College Vice President David Provost answered questions at Monday night's Burlington City Council meeting.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR

The Burlington City Council unanimously approved on Monday the sale of a downtown parking lot to Champlain College. The college will pay $1.1 million for the 42-space lot one block Burlington's City Hall Park.

The college has plans to develop the Browns Court Parking lot along with the adjacent property, which it bought in 2009. The new development will hold 70 to 90 apartment-style housing units for Champlain College students.

Governor Peter Shumlin is on his way back to Vermont after a weekend of policy discussion with his counterparts in New England and eastern Canada.

The annual meeting of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers, hosted this year in Quebec, allows the region’s leaders to coordinate their approaches to various regional issues. This year, the organization churned out six resolutions (PDF), mostly hinging on energy and transportation infrastructure.

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BURLINGTON - The City Council is expected to approve on Monday an offer from Champlain College to purchase a public parking lot from the city. The Browns Court lot currently has about 40 metered public spaces.

The college has plans to join the lot with the former Eagles Club property, which it bought in 2009, and develop the property, adding 70 to 90 units of apartment-style housing for students. In addition, Champlain has agreed to maintain the current number of publicly available spaces on the property.

Contract negotiations between Chittenden County Transportation Authority and drivers have come to a halt, and a driver strike remains a possibility as the parties enter fact-finding, a last-ditch effort to save the negotiations.

VPR/Taylor Dobbs

A group of about 25 anti-war activists marched through Burlington Thursday afternoon, making stops at the offices of Vermont's delegation to Washington. Congregating at Senator Patrick Leahy's office at noon, the group moved to Senator Bernie Sanders' office and then the offices of Congressman Peter Welch.

"We want him to speak out," Marshfield resident Joseph Gainza said at Welch's office. The protest wasn't as much chanting as an organized set of pleas; Welch's state director, Patricia Coates, took notes as the protestors made their various concerns known.

General Dynamics announced to employees Thursday that the company will cut 35 jobs at its Williston location by the end of 2013. Rob Doolittle, General Dynamics' Staff Vice President for Communications, confirmed that the company told employees Thursday morning that 35 jobs at the company's 275-person office on the IBM campus in Williston will be cut.

Doolittle said the cuts just affect the company's Williston location.

"I can't rule out other changes, but we don't have anything else to announce today," he said.

Former Governor Howard Dean has thrown his support behind President Barack Obama's call for intervention in Syria, The Huffington Post reports. In an interview with The Huffington Post, Dean said Obama is making all the right moves with respect to the situation in Syria.