News Features

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.

AP Photo/ Winfried Rothermel

Some local residents are finding that it’s harder now to find wood pellets to fuel the stoves they are using to heat their homes, and those who produce and sell the pellets say there are reasons they’re in shorter supply this year.

Michelle Hogan of Bennington said she had noticed the problem recently and couldn’t find pellets in many local and national stores.

“Across the board, it’s hit or miss. They [store employees] tell you the truck’s coming in, [but] the truck doesn’t come in. Three days later, the truck comes in. By the time you get back, they’re gone,” she said.

Source: data.burlingtonvt.gov

With the launch of an “open data” web portal this week, the city of Burlington took a big step toward greater government transparency. The portal contains a wide variety of data, ranging from how much money the city spent on a softball field to how frequently the Fletcher Free Library loaned garden tools. 

The portal fits into Mayor Miro Weinberger’s dual goals of restoring accountability to city financial decisions and turning Burlington into a hub of innovative technology project.

Alberto Masnovo / Thinkstock

There are 295,065 business and residential addresses in Vermont. The state says just one percent of them are without broadband service. The number does not include satellite broadband. 

There are some who question the state’s figure, citing their own lack of broadband. The state says in most cases those individuals do have access, but it is not from a wire or cable running to their homes.  

When Gov. Peter Shumlin announced last November that 99 percent of Vermont addresses have broadband access, Todd Gareiss wasn’t convinced.

Bob Selby/Angela Evancie / VPR

Law enforcement officials in Vermont and surrounding states say Vermont’s high-profile drug problem is feeding an underground market in which guns, not cash, are the currency.

The trade is fueled by the simple economics of supply and demand. Heroin and other hard drugs are cheaper in urban areas of Massachusetts and New York, while guns are abundant and readily available in Vermont because of the state’s lax gun control laws and Vermont’s culture of hunting and shooting sports.

Angela Evancie / VPR

When you sit down to dinner tonight, chances are you won’t be digging in to meal worms or crickets or any other insects. But if Montpelier environmentalist Rachael Young has her way, you just might.

Christophe Boisson / Thinkstock

One of the key arguments by opponents of Gov. Peter Shumlin’s single payer health reform initiative is that it mirrors the single payer system in Canada, which they say has serious problems. The opponents have a point about Canada’s problems, but they are entirely wrong about Canada’s relevance to Vermont. You could fairly call the Vermont design the “un-Canada.”

Kreg Steppe/ Flickr

Gov. Peter Shumlin has called attention in recent weeks to what he calls an epidemic of heroin and prescription drug addiction.

The governor has outlined plans to expand treatment. But some pharmacists say the state’s lack of regulations for buying syringes that can be used by addicts has added to the problem.  

Diabetics or allergy patients who need syringes usually get a prescription for them, and they’re nearly always paid for with private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

About 90 percent of Americans who need long term care get it from unpaid family members. That puts a strain on a lot of relatives who have neither enough time nor the training to care for loved ones with brain disorders such as dementia.

So Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., gives classes to family caregivers, and recruits actors to play the patients.

Angela Evancie / VPR

Nearly six out of every 10 Vermont high school seniors text while driving, according to a recent survey, and lawmakers, parents and public safety experts have again taken up the issue of distracted driving.

Gov. Peter Shumlin said he doesn’t support more restrictive laws on cell phone use by adult drivers, but some lawmakers want just that.

Last fall, Vermont's Poet Laureate and Cartoonist Laureate collaborated on a unique project: a small book of illustrated poems. Poet Sydney Lea and cartoonist James Kochalka traded verse and drawing for what became Vermont Double Laureate Team-Up.

AP/Toby Talbot

Winter is traditionally a time of year for farmers to take a little break. It's also a time to learn about new technology and new tips and tricks of the trade at the annual Vermont Farm Show. This year, Vermont Edition is at the farm show too!

We broadcast live from the Champlain Valley Exposition with our guest Chuck Ross, Secretary of the Vermont Department of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

Scholastic

Phoebe Stone's The Boy on Cinnamon Street has been called a modern-day love story. The protagonist, Louise, has a secret admirer who leaves her anonymous notes and messages.

When Brattleboro Area Middle School Librarian Marry Linney got together with the seventh and eighth graders in her BAMS Book Bunch, she wanted to know if that rang true for these students of the digital age.

Vlad Kochelaevskiy / iStock

An unprecedented amount of federal money has flowed into Vermont to design the state’s health insurance marketplace.

The money was authorized under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. And Vermont got more money per capita to build and launch its health exchange than any other state.

This project is the most expensive and complicated information technology build out that the state has ever undertaken. Here’s where the money came from, and how it was spent:

Sen. Patrick Leahy

Senator Patrick Leahy is the most senior member of the U.S. Senate -- and he also may be its most devoted photographer. Leahy is rarely seen on Capitol Hill without his camera, and he brings it along wherever he travels.

Few photojournalists have his access to national and world leaders behind the scenes. He also enjoys making portraits of everyday people, especially those who live in remote, sometimes dangerous  places. 

UVM Landscape Change Program / Vermont State Archives and Records Administration

One of the biggest changes to Vermont’s landscape came in the middle of the last century with the construction of the Interstate Highway system. If you’re zipping down Interstate 89 today, it might be hard to visualize what the state was like without it.

E.B. McGovern / AP

For food to be amazing, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Sit down with a fresh baguette, olive oil to dip it in, some luscious goat’s milk cheese to top it with and a few thin slices of dry-cured ham, and you could be in heaven. A few fresh figs on the side would be the perfect complement.

At least, that's how Edward Behr, founding editor of The Art of Eating magazine, feels.

Flickr: benchilada 2467405983

There's been a spotlight on Vermont's mental health care system since Tropical Storm Irene slammed into Vermont and flooded the Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury. All of the patients at the hospital had to be evacuated immediately and the facility was never reopened. The State Hospital had been funded entirely by state dollars for most of the last decade after safety and security issues caused the federal government to pull its certification. "Let's be candid," says Governor Peter Shumlin, "it was a dump. And we should have been out of there years and years ago."

Charlotte Albright

Glassblowers at a Simon Pearce studio in Windsor County are going to get a lot busier, and maybe more numerous, as the company starts making its trademark stemware for embassies around the world.

A new State Department contract calls for over 12,000 glasses in the first year. That’s going to mean hiring and training more Upper Valley crafts people, who make each piece by hand. 

AP/Evan Vucci

In a rare joint appearance on VPR’s Vermont Edition, the state’s congressional delegation on Thursday delivered their strongest condemnation to date of the Republican Party as the cause of the government shutdown.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch met with Vermont Edition hosts Bob Kinzel and Jane Lindholm at National Public Radio’s headquarters in Washington. The three all had strong words about Republicans in Congress.

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