The Frequency

The Frequency is VPR's news blog, and your main source for our digital news throughout the day. This is where we'll keep you up to date on developing stories, big and small, from around Vermont.

Toby Talbot / AP

Vermont's slaughter and meat processing industry is booming, and meat inspectors at the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets can't keep up.

That's according to Diane Bothfeld, deputy secretary at the Agency, who told participants at a policy roundtable at the Northeast Organic Farmers' Association of Vermont (NOFA) winter conference on Feb. 16 that the Agency is looking to expand its staff to meet a growing demand for locally butchered and processed meat.

Mike Hitelman / Stowe Derby

Skiers in Stowe are preparing for the 69th annual Stowe Derby this Sunday, and it's sure to be a wild time for racers and spectators alike. Derby participants, many of whom don outrageous costumes, use a single pair of skis to navigate 20 kilometers from the top of Mt. Mansfield into Stowe Village.

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources

Public Post reports on three Green Ribbon School nominations, Town Meeting information from around Vermont and a new long-range management plan for Mount Philo State Park.
 

Here's a sampling of the week's Public Post Twitter updates from Derby, St. George, Weston, Jamaica and more:

Jim Cole / AP

The winter storm covering a large swath of the Northeast was responsible for one death in Vermont when slick roads led to tragedy on Interstate 91, according to the Vermont State Police.

Robert Trombley, 45, of Lee, Mass. was driving a tractor trailer on I-91 when he hit a guardrail. He got out of the cab and was standing in the road when another vehicle hit him. He was pronounced dead at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, police say.

Vermont's health care exchange, Vermont Health Connect, has been in the news regularly since its October launch because of continued technological failures and shortfalls.

But a scathing story last Friday from Newsweek ratcheted up the intrigue. The piece featured an accusation from an unnamed tipster, who came out with a striking allegation against CGI, the tech firm hired to build the exchange.

Robin Turneau/ VPR

A Winter Storm Warning continues to be in effect for all of the state. The National Weather Service is predicting up to 18-inches of snow for areas of southern Vermont through the end of Friday.

The state of Vermont has authorized a reduced workforce for state employees working overnight and the opening of state offices will be delayed until 10:00 a.m. Friday. All essential employees should report to work as required.

Matt Parrilla / VPR

In response to a Feb. 7 story on the connection between gun trafficking and drug trafficking in Vermont, a number of readers have written to VPR to call attention to statistics generated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that show the number of firearms recovered by law enforcement in other states and traced back to Vermont.

Three Vermont schools have been nominated for national recognition as environmental leaders. Champlain Valley Union High School, Camels Hump Middle School and Lake Region Union High School are all in contention for U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition, which will be awarded on Earth Day, April 22.

A top official in the Shumlin administration says a 38-page document (PDF) disproves allegations by an anonymous whistleblower that cast new shadows last week over the state’s health insurance exchange.

Warning Watch #tmdvt

Feb 12, 2014

The countdown to Town Meeting Day is on! You can keep up with Town Meeting news from around Vermont by following #tmdvt. We're also using Public Post to troll city and town websites to locate annual reports and Town Meeting #warnings posted online.

Follow the timeline here and on Twitter:

The Shumlin administration has alerted lawmakers to a series of privacy breaches on the state’s new health insurance exchange. But a top administration official says the incidents should not undermine public confidence in the security of the website.

Mark Larson, commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access, said in a memo (PDF)  sent to top legislators Tuesday that the state has had seven privacy incidents since Dec. 22.  

A national group has named Vermont as the leading state for the number of solar jobs per capita.

The Solar Foundation, a Washington, D.C. based nonprofit, released its annual solar jobs census Tuesday and named Vermont as the leading state for solar jobs in 2013.

According to the foundation, Vermont has 1,300 solar jobs, up from just over 300 last year. The state is 27th  overall in the total number of solar jobs.

Environmentalists and political leaders applauded the announcement.

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources

Mount Philo is Vermont's oldest State Park, and now Vermont's Agency of Natural Resources wants to hear from you about the park's future. Located in Charlotte, the park is dominated by Mount Philo, a 968-foot peak with views of the Champlain Valley and New York's Adirondack Mountains.

The Agency of Natural Resources says the park is popular for camping, hiking, dog walking, sledding and snowmobiling. A 2010 land gift brought Mount Philo State Park up to 232 acres.

Gov. Peter Shumlin appeared on ABC’s This Week on Sunday to discuss opiate addiction and his continued emphasis that the addiction is a disease to be treated by a health care system, not just cops and courts.

Joined by Seth Mnookin, a journalist and recovering addict, Shumlin gave himself and Vermont at large a pat on the back.

Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

Public Post reports on a proposed downtown revitalization project that would provide new town offices for Morristown; some elected municipal positions that could be phased out come Town Meeting Day and a Town Hall Theater project that's been called off in Greensboro.
 

Here's a sampling of the week's Public Post Twitter updates from Pittsford, Woodstock, Hartland, Colchester and more:

An incendiary allegation at the heart of a Newsweek story on Vermont’s health insurance exchange claims that contractors willfully deceived state officials about the readiness of the new website.

But Commissioner of Vermont Health Access Mark Larson says he doesn’t believe the alleged incident is “based in any truth or evidence.”

There won't be a Town Hall Theater in Greensboro after all. The Greensboro Arts Alliance & Residency (GARR) is abandoning the project and has officially folded its Town Hall Theater Exploratory Committee.

The Vermont Department of Health confirmed Thursday that three deaths in Addison County were caused by overdoses of pure Fentanyl.

In a release, the department said that "Fentanyl is an opioid drug that is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin, and much deadlier."

Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

For many years, Norm's Furniture occupied a large retail building in the heart of Morrisville Village on the corner of Portland and Hutchins Streets. But the two-story, 10,000 square foot building has now been vacant for several years and has fallen into disrepair.

On Town Meeting Day, Morristown voters will decide if they want to purchase the building from owner Norm Nepveu, tear it down and construct a 6,000 square foot town office building in its place. Morristown currently leases town office space in a different building on Portland Street, and that lease expires in 2016.

Flanked by former Republican Gov. James Douglas, a political newcomer announced a candidacy for the Vermont House Tuesday that will pit her against two well-known Democrats in Montpelier.

Republican Valerie Mullin, a mother of three who works as an independent beauty consultant for Mary Kay cosmetics, says Vermont’s tax burden is too high, and that Democrats’ push for single-payer health care will harm the medical system in this state.

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