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 Assistant Attorney General Bridget Asay, who filed what the Electronic Frontier Foundation called a "groundbreaking" lawsuit against alleged patent abuser MPHJ Technology Investments.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Patent abuse by a shadowy alphabet soup of shell corporations has cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars. Rich Tarrant, Jr., founder of MyWebGrocer, says it has cost Vermont jobs.

At a panel discussion about patent abuse Monday, Tarrant joined Assistant Attorney General Bridget Asay and a number of  business people and patent abuse experts to talk about the problem and what Vermont and the federal government can do to stop it.

The U.S. Air Force received 11,158 comments in response to the Revised Draft Environmental Impact statement released in May. The final version of the report offered some insights about the comments received, summarized in the graphic below. 

Open interactive graphic at infogr.am


An F-35 fighter jet.
Rob Shenk / Flickr

The final Environmental Impact Statement on the potential F-35 basing at Burlington International Airport includes only minor changes from a draft version released in May.

The Vermont Air National Guard says the Burlington airport remains the top preferred location for the jet.

The environmental study released late Thursday provides information about the jet’s impact on the six air bases under consideration for the next-generation fighter.

Weybridge voters decided Wednesday night what the town will do with a sudden influx of cash.

The money comes in the form of a $475,980 insurance payout, reimbursement for roughly the same amount of money embezzled by former town clerk Karen Brisson. She is currently serving a two-year term in federal prison.

Town voters decided to split the money up for a variety of projects and funds.

The largest amount – $210,980 – went into a reserve fund, select board member Gail Hurd said.

Burlington International Airport remains the Air Force's preferred location for the basing of the F-35 fighter jet, a Vermont National Guard spokesman said.

"I can absolutely confirm that Burlington is the preferred location [for the F-35] according to this [final] Environmental Impact Statement," Capt. Chris Gookin of the Vermont National Guard said.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

Newport Police report they took two suspects into custody after an armed standoff. Newport Police Chief Seth DiSanto said at a press conference that a 36-year-old Newport resident called 911 early this morning to report there were "over 400 police officers outside his residence attempting to attack him."

Updated 4:17 p.m.: Orleans County State's Attorney Alan Franklin said 36-year-old Derick Niles was the suspect on the roof of his garage earlier today.

Capt. Brad Matherne conducts preflight checks inside an F-35A Lightning II before a training mission April 4 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
Senior Airman Brett Clashman / U.S. Air Force

The Vermont National Guard announced Tuesday evening that the basing decision for the F-35 fighter jet is about to enter its final stage.

In a press release, Major General Steven Cray said the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the jet's impact on the Burlington area is expected next week.

"Barring any unforeseen issues, to the best of my knowledge, the Final EIS Notice of Availability will be released on October 4th," Cray said in a statement.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Burlington's City Council will vote tonight on a revised version (PDF) of their livable wage ordinance. The ordinance, originally implemented in 2001, applies to any city contractor or grantee getting at least $15,000 in city money. It requires them to pay at least $13.94 if they do provide health insurance and $15.83 if they do not. The ordinance also applies to the city itself.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

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.