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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Vermont’s top Republican politician weighed in on the upcoming party leadership election, endorsing challenger David Sunderland for the GOP chairmanship over incumbent Jack Lindley.

In an email statement Friday, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott endorsed Sunderland with a call for unity, both within the state Republican Party and among Vermonters as a whole.

President Barack Obama named Gov. Peter Shumlin to a nationwide task force on “Climate Preparedness and Resilience,” the White House announced today.

Shumlin is one of 26 officials from around the country named to the task force and one of eight governors. Other members of the task force include local officials and two tribal representatives.

Just before the state health care exchange’s next major target date, Gov. Peter Shumlin announced Thursday that implementation of his flagship health care reform law will be delayed.

According to an announcement released by Shumlin’s office:

The Village of Essex Junction has experienced three large accidential discharges from the municipal water treatment facility in the last three months.

Two of the releases totaled between 500,000 and 1 million gallons, but water quality superintendent Jim Jutras said all of the recent releases have been near the end of the treatment process and were not raw sewage.

The recent problems at the facility all center around the chlorination and dechlorination of wastewater, which must be completed before it is released into the Winooski River.

Kirk Carapezza / VPR File Photo

Site glitches and failures have turned Vermont Health Connect, the state’s healthcare exchange, into a political football. Republican leaders are calling on the Shumlin Administration to invoke an emergency provision of state law that allows Vermonters to keep their current health care coverage if the exchange isn’t working as planned.

As state teams scramble alongside contractors to get the exchange website fully functional, it remains the largest information technology project the state has ever undertaken, according to the official overseeing the build out.

The Vermont National Guard announced a nighttime live fire training session at its Camp Ethan Allen Firing Range in Underhill/Jericho for the evening of Friday, Nov. 1.

While the entire National Guard site is posted off limits to non-military personnel at all times, area residents may hear machine-gun fire between 5:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. on Friday.

Entergy announced a three-minute test of their 37 emergency sirens within a 10-mile radius of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

Residents can expect the three-minute siren blast Saturday, Nov. 2 at 12 noon.

The tests, mandated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will affect the following towns:

In Vermont:

  • Brattleboro
  • Dummerston
  • Guilford
  • Vernon

In New Hampshire:

  • Chesterfield
  • Hinsdale
  • Richmond
  • Swanzey
  • Winchester

In Massachusetts:

A leader in the movement to ban the F-35 from Vermont has himself been banned by VTDigger.org.

The Montpelier based policy and politics news site banned James Marc Leas from submitting opinion pieces after a Leas identified himself as a “freelancer” to a U.S. Air Force spokeswoman.

A freelancer is commonly understood to be a professional journalist who is not on the staff of any one news organization, but writes news articles for multiple publications and is paid on a per-article basis.

The chancellor of Vermont State Colleges told food service contractor Sodexo on Tuesday that it can’t implement changes that would reduce the number of full-time employees at VSC campuses.

In a letter to Sodexo, VSC Chancellor Timothy Donovan said that, “There is simply too much uncertainty for us to approve the proposed change at this time.”

Vermont’s Agency of Agriculture is opening up its records about consumer protection violations across the state.

The agency is responsible for food-related consumer protections including overstating product weight, mis-categorized maple products, and misstating product prices.

Violations can now be found at the agency’s website, where they’re listed by month. The site includes 16 violations between January and May of 2013 and has no entries after that.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

At a packed meeting Monday night, Burlington's City Council voted down two resolutions designed to prevent the F-35 from coming to Vermont in 2020. One resolution was meant to bar the jet from Burlington International Airport indefinitely, while the other could have delayed the basing until later.

University of Vermont’s food service workers got good news Friday when University President Thomas Sullivan announced that changes to their benefits will not be implemented as scheduled.

The workers are employees of Sodexo, a multi-national company contracted for food services at UVM, St. Michael’s College, Champlain College and Vermont State Colleges.

Lisa Ventriss of the Vermont Business Roundtable, right, at a press conference with Vermont Air National Guard Lt. Col. Chris Caputo, center, and Frank Cioffi, president of the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR

In the seventh press event related to the F-35 this month, proponents of the jet simultaneously dismissed a new opposition tactic to block it from Burlington and acknowledged the threat of the opposition’s move.

F-35 opposition attorney Jim Dumont presented a new legal strategy that he says will allow Burlington's city council to ban the F-35 from Burlington International Airport.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR

A new proposal by Progressives on Burlington’s city council could effectively block the F-35, opponents say.

The resolution, crafted by Councilor Vince Brennan with input from F-35 opposition attorney Jim Dumont and City Attorney Eileen Blackwood, calls on Burlington International Airport director Gene Richards to develop noise and safety standards for the airport.

Dozens of gun rights advocates spoke out against the gun control charter changes at Burlington's city council meeting Oct. 21.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Burlington is moving forward with a trio of gun control measures with wide backing from the mayor, city councilors and the city’s police chief.

Bob Dougall of Bolton, left, and Diane Tardif of Essex Junction came to Burlington Monday to protest proposed gun control measures.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Update: Burlington City Council approved three of the four proposed measures. Read VPR's full story of the meeting here.

Burlington’s City Council Monday night heard public comments about proposed charter changes that would increase regulation of firearms in the city.

One year after the fight of his political life, Attorney General Bill Sorrell announced this week that he’ll run for reelection again in 2014. Vermont’s longest-serving Attorney General, Sorrell was appointed by then-Governor Howard Dean in 1997.

For more than a decade, Sorrell was easily reelected every two years ­– until 2012. Last year, Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan mounted an aggressive primary campaign against Sorrell. Sorrell ultimately won, but by a slim 714-vote margin.

After a week of dueling statements from F-35 opposition figures and the Vermont Air National Guard about the exact year F-35s might come to Vermont, the U.S. Air Force is weighing in.

Opponents, citing an Air Force study, say the new jets could start arriving as soon as 2015, but Vermont Air National Guard officials said yesterday that 2020 was the earliest F-35s could begin to arrive in Vermont.

  Prospects are bleak for a Burlington City Council resolution to ban the F-35 fighter jet from Burlington International Airport, after City Attorney Eileen Blackwood released a legal opinion yesterday asserting the city doesn’t have that power.

Burlington City Attorney Eileen Blackwood released a report Thursday stating her legal opinion that the city has no way to bar the F-35 from basing at Burlington International Airport.

The report reviews a number of factors, including local, state and federal laws in addition to agreements between the city and federal governments.