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.

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Angela Evancie / VPR

Addison County sent a strong message of opposition to Phase II of the Vermont Gas pipeline at Town Meetings held on Monday and Tuesday.

At Cornwall's Town Meeting on Monday evening, voters passed a non-binding resolution to oppose the Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project, 126-16.

Also on Monday, residents in Shoreham also approved a non-binding resolution to oppose Phase II of the pipeline, 63-38.

And Monkton voters strongly denounced the pipeline on Tuesday, with three speakers delivering prepared remarks against the project and no one speaking in support.

Full Coverage: Town Meeting Day 2014

Mar 4, 2014
Charlotte Albright / VPR

VPR News covers town meetings statewide, on air and online. Get town by town results of the votes on school and town budgets plus the resolutions on the public bank.

A pair of Republican lawmakers wants to throw out the state’s education funding system. And they’re asking Vermonters to sign on to the cause.

A petition posted to Sunday seeks signatures from residents who support a move to repeal Act 60/68 effective July 1 of 2016, and replace it with some other yet-to-identified public financing mechanism.

AP/Toby Talbot

Public Post previews Town Meeting Day in Vermont, looking at statewide trends, regional hot topics and local projects. Follow VPR's Town Meeting coverage on Twitter using the hastag #tmdvt. Links to Town Meeting warnings are tweeted using the hastag #warning.

Here's a sampling of the week's Public Post Twitter updates from Berlin, Calais, Townshend, Groton and more:

After more than 200 jobs were eliminated in Vermont over the last two weeks, the Vermont Republican Party is taking political shots at Gov. Peter Shumlin in statements that could be the beginning of the party’s 2014 platform.

Gov. Peter Shumlin says officials at the IBM plant in Essex Junction have told him that workers there are being laid off today. 

Shumlin says IBM has not given him an exact number, but the number of jobs being cut is "about one-third" the number eliminated in the last round of layoffs at the facility. 419 jobs were cut last July. 

"This is difficult news for the affected workers and their families, as well as for the communities that also suffer the impacts of job reductions," Shumlin said in a statement. "I pledge to work with my team to help in every way we can."

The Vermont Senate has advanced a controversial bill dealing with the involuntary medication of patients with mental illness.

Hospitals, doctors and the families of some patients have asked lawmakers to speed up the process used to determine whether mentally ill patients should be medicated against their will.

They say the existing legal procedure can drag on for months. Bennington Senator Dick Sears said that can unnecessarily delay the recovery of people unable to recognize their need for treatment.

Toby Talbot / AP

 As the Shumlin Administration fine tunes its case to lawmakers for a publicly financed health care system, the governor is tapping a familiar name to help make the sale.

Former House Majority Leader Floyd Nease left the Statehouse in 2011. But he’s maintained relationships with many of the lawmakers he served with. And he’ll put them to good use as the latest addition to the team of administration officials spearheading the governor’s single-payer agenda.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

The board of Vermont Public Television violated federal open meeting requirements on 26 occasions between 2011 and 2013, an internal audit found.

Lee Conrad, Alliance@IBM National Coordinator, says he is now hearing that layoffs planned for IBM's Essex Junction facility will take place on Thursday.  

Earlier this week Conrad said sources had indicated layoffs would come on Wednesday. 

State officials say they haven't been informed yet of any layoffs, but by law the company does not have to notify the state until after they occur.  The law requires notification if 25 or more employees are terminated.

Update: Gov. Peter Shumlin confirmed Thursday that layoffs are taking place at IBM in Vermont.

A union group says it expects layoffs Wednesday at IBM’s Essex Junction facility.

Big Blue indicated earlier this year that layoffs were likely as a result of declining company profits.

Lee Conrad with Alliance at IBM said on Tuesday that the group is hearing that employees at IBM facilities in New York state and in Vermont will receive termination notices Wednesday.

Toby Talbot / AP

The first Tuesday in March has special meaning in Vermont. It marks Town Meeting Day, when communities gather to participate in a tradition with roots in the beginnings of American democracy. It is self-governance at its purest, and Vermont towns have charted their courses and balanced their budgets this way since the 1800s.

Mike Hitelman / Stowe Derby

Public Post reports on a town garage bond vote in Mount Holly, the process behind adopting or changing a municipal charter in Vermont and the 69th annual Stowe Derby.

Here's a sampling of the week's Public Post Twitter updates from Middlebury, Fairlee, Elmore, Charleston and more:

Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

It’s not every day you get a check in the mail, no strings attached, just because someone likes what you do. But that’s exactly what happened to Phoenix Books owners Michael DeSanto and Renee Reiner.

The check came from best-selling author James Patterson. Patterson gave away more than a quarter-million dollars to 55 bookstores across the country this week. Recipients include Phoenix Books, in Essex, and The Norwich Bookstore. And this is just the first grant round. Patterson has pledged to give $1 million to independent bookstores this year.

Angela Evancie / VPR

Small-scale agriculture is alive and well in Vermont, despite a national trend that shows farmland being consolidated into fewer, bigger operations.

That's according to preliminary results from the 2012 Census of Agriculture, conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Plasan Carbon Composites, a Michigan based company that touts itself as “the leading provider of automotive carbon fiber components in North America,” has laid off 143 employees at its Bennington manufacturing facility, according to a release from Sen. Dick Sears of Bennington.

4:30 p.m. The Bennington Banner reports that the manufacturing facility is closing altogether in May.

The technology firm hired to build Vermont’s new health insurance exchange is fighting back against claims that it deceived state officials last year.

Allegations surfaced in a Newsweek story earlier this month that CGI oversold the quality of its product by faking a live connection between the exchange and a federal data hub. The allegation came from an unnamed tipster who claimed to have direct knowledge of the faked demonstration.

Linda Odorisio, vice-president of communications for CGI, says the connection shown in the demonstration was real.

VPR/Nina Keck

On Town Meeting Day, voters in Mount Holly will consider a $600,000 bond vote to build a new town garage. Talk about a new town garage has been going on for years in Mount Holly. Last fall the select board faced allegations that too much of the planning was going on without adequate public notice.

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.