News Features

Bev Kehoe / Town of Waitsfield

Public Post reports on the statewide expansion of Front Porch Forum; post-Irene construction projects in Waitsfield, Waterbury and Moretown; a parking garage coming to St. Albans; and a Unified Union School District vote happening in Windham County.


Here's a sampling of the week's Public Post Twitter updates from Brandon, Vergennes, Manchester, Walden and more:

VPR/Nancy Eve Cohen

About 560 mobile homes were destroyed or damaged by Tropical Storm Irene in Vermont. That spurred affordable housing advocates to take a close look at the state’s mobile home housing stock. Now, a more durable mobile home is being manufactured in White River Junction.

Inside a former trucking terminal builder Steve Davis and his workers are nailing shingles onto the roof of a new kind of mobile home.

“We’re really well insulated,” said Davis. “We’re double the typical standard on our insulation, everywhere!”

This is the first of ten mobile homes Davis is building.

It’s been quite a week for efforts to legalize marijuana in Vermont. First, a national organization, the Marijuana Policy Project, included Vermont as one of ten states where the group will actively campaign to legalize marijuana by 2017.  Two states have voted to legalize marijuana, Colorado and Washington.

VPR/Nina Keck

Residents in Mount Holly are taking sides over a proposal to build a new town garage.  Most people agree a new garage is needed and many like the half million dollar proposal the local select board has been developing.

But several dozen others in town are upset and say the community has been improperly shut out of the planning process.

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.

Bev Kehoe / Town of Waitsfield

On July 29, Waitsfield voters approved a $650,000 bond vote to construct a new town office building. The item passed by a vote of 309-209. Waitsfield's old office was flooded and hasn't been in use since Tropical Storm Irene stuck two years ago.

AP/ Toby Talbot

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, who chairs the Senate's Foreign Appropriations Committee, says there is no doubt that an effort to remove chemical weapons from Syria through diplomatic and not military means is a better solution to the crisis, but he says it won't be easy.

“We’re still a long way from having this thing settled,” said Leahy. “The Russians are never the best partners on things especially with President Putin but it is a step.”

VPR/Susan Keese

Plans for a new Connecticut River Bridge between Brattleboro and Hinsdale, N.H. have taken a step forward. The long delayed bridge replacement is included in New Hampshire’s Draft 2015 Ten-Year Transportation Plan.

The new, single-span bridge would replace two aging bridges that meet on an island in the middle of the river. Officials in both states say it’s only a matter of time before the 1920s-era spans are declared unsafe and forced to close.

Herb Swanson

On September 21, Governor Peter Shumlin and other state officials will accompany the owner of Jay Peak on a nine-day Asian trade mission in hopes of secure money for a series of projects in the Northeast Kingdom.

The effort is centered on the federal EB-5 program, which offers Green Card status to foreigners who invest a minimum of $500,000 in approved projects.

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."

Courtesy/Yan Lu

It’s one thing to look at sculptures in a museum.  it’s another thing entirely to see them carved in your back yard by artists from all over the world. 

But that’s just what Barbara and Bill Carris of West Rutland are doing and they’re inviting the public to see the results.

Barbara Carris is an artist, art lover and patron who’s worked for years with various local and regional non profit arts organizations.

Washington State Liquor Control Board

Vermont is one of ten states where the The Marijuana Policy Project, a group based in Washington D.C.,  plans to wage a campaign to legalize marijuana by 2017. 

“Vermont has been ahead of the curve for some time, being one of the 20 states that’s approved marijuana for medical use and now a state that has decriminalized.  So the legislature here is certainly well informed about marijuana policy issues,” says Matt Simon, legislative analyst for the group. “I see no reason why they shouldn’t be ahead of the curve as states move towards regulating marijuana.”

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. 

VPR/Claudia Marshall

With harvest season underway, Burlington has a brand-new farmers market on Wednesday afternoons through September.  It’s in same City Hall Park location as the big Saturday market, but this one is different.

On one recent Wednesday, with fewer than dozen stalls, there were  few customers. But what vendors and customers were present were enthusiastic.

Pam Chumski Higgins is on the board of Slow Food Vermont, the group organizing the Wednesday market.

“People are just so excited.  But people didn’t know about it.  So we are just trying to get the word out,” she says.

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:

Chronic errors in payments to beneficiaries of its food-buying assistance program have landed the state in hot water with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has handed down hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties.

Does your town have Front Porch Forum? If so, you know the online community bulletin board can be a resource for all sorts of information - from contractor recommendations, to meeting minutes, to yard sale announcements. And now the service is being made available to every Vermont town.

The Vermont Council on Rural Development announced this week, "After significant investment by the Vermont Digital Economy Project and software development by FPF, there is now a forum available for every Vermont town!"

John Miller/ AP

Twenty employees of the Green Mountain National Forest and Finger Lakes National Forest have returned from two weeks of fire fighting duty in Idaho.

Just as power companies call in help from other utilities when major storms hit - firefighters often travel from state to state when needed.

Ethan Ready is with the US Forest Service based in Rutland.

VPR/Steve Zind

The Vermont Public Service Board held the second of two hearings Tuesday night to hear public comments on a controversial 41 mile natural gas pipeline proposed for Addison County.

The project would be an expansion of the Vermont Natural Gas System’s Chittenden County pipeline.

Most speakers at the hearing opposed the project.

Before the hearing opponents staged a rally outside the Middlebury Middle School.

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.