News Features

Amanda Swinhart Photography

Compressors running. Hammers flying. Maple sugaring season is ramping up on the Cochran’s land in Richmond. The family started producing syrup in 2010, and it’s quickly becoming tradition. But now, with a twist.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

A proposal by the Shumlin administration to drastically cut funding to high school programs for inmates is raising concerns inside prison classrooms. Community High School of Vermont operates in all seven prisons and in several probation offices. Lawmakers are considering closing five of the prison programs and reducing staffing by half.  

Herb Swanson /

As news breaks about the possible destruction of cultural artifacts by the Islamic State — also known as ISIS — a Dartmouth College scholar is outraged. The college owns six monumental stone relief panels from Nimrud, Iraq, south of Mosul, where vandals claim to have been bulldozing sacred sites. While the videos released by the militant group cannot be verified, it’s clear that rare antiquities are ISIS targets.

Jon Kalish / VPR

On a recent weekend, dozens of vintage snowmobiles were on display in a farm field in Bethel. To qualify as vintage, they had to be made no later than the early 1980s –  but a couple of them dated back to the 1920s.

Angela Evancie / VPR File

Vermont law enforcement officers expanded their use of Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR) systems in 2014, according to a new report. Police more than doubled the number of searches of the statewide license plate database in criminal investigations.

Steve Zind / VPR

Most of us who work for a business appreciate some openness about how the company is doing and how decisions are made.

But how would you feel if everything in the workplace was out in the open – including your salary and those of your co-workers?

Brian Jenkins / UVM

Barring a season-making upset, the college career of the most talented women’s hockey player the state has ever produced will end this weekend in Boston. Senior Amanda Pelkey will lead seventh seeded Vermont against No. 2 Boston University in a Hockey East playoff series at Walter Brown Arena, hoping she can extend the Catamounts’ season a little longer.

Courtesy Derek Whitney

After four months on strike, some 1,700 union workers at FairPoint Communications will finally return to work on Wednesday. FairPoint workers ratified a new contract over the weekend after long negotiations and sniping between unions and the company.

Herb Swanson /

When the weather gets tough, the tough go swimming. Outdoors. In the winter. In bathing suits. And we’re not just talking about a quick penguin plunge. Hugging the shores of Lake Memphremagog, Newport has landed on the global map of places where swimmers race each other in pools carved out of frozen lakes.

Ice swimming has been popular for decades in Europe and Asia but it’s just catching on in America. And Phil White, a former attorney from Newport, wants to be first on the ice block.

Steve Zind / VPR

One of Vermont’s most unique manufacturing companies lies behind a nondescript red door in downtown Bethel.

Alpaca Guitars makes a musical instrument designed to go to some far-flung places.

Nathan Benn / Shelburne Museum

When Nathan Benn was a very young photographer in the early 1970s, he got an assignment from National Geographic to go shoot pictures of Vermont. When you look at those photographs now, many of which were never published in the magazine, they are so clearly from a different era.

Angela Evancie / VPR

The author of numerous works of fiction and essays, Salman Rushdie won the Booker Prize in 1981 for his novel Midnight's Children, and later that decade, became something of a story himself when his novel The Satanic Verses drew outrage from some Muslims around the world, and a call for his assassination issued in a Fatwa by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini.

So it is also accurate to say that Rushdie knows a thing or two about the power of stories.

Library of Congress

On Jan. 8, Vermont's 180 lawmakers will cast a ballot to determine who will be Vermont's next governor. That's because the Vermont Constitution calls for a legislative vote when no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote on Election Day.

There was a time in Vermont political history when lawmakers routinely had to elect the governor, and in 1835, it had an enormous impact on the state's political system.

Courtesy Kristen Schmitt

When you think of Vermont's hunters, an image of a father and son in the woods might spring to mind.

But now, more and more hunters are learning the sport as adults for the opportunity to harvest organic, local meat.

labuda / iStock

Marijuana legalization advocates have been laying the groundwork for a big legislative push in 2015. But Vermont lawmakers don’t seem inclined to follow in the footsteps of Washington and Colorado any time soon.

Earlier this year, Burlington lawyer Carl Lisman quietly registered a rather noteworthy trade name. It’s called “Vermont Cannabis,” and its purpose, according to the paperwork filed at the corporations division at the Vermont Secretary of State, is the “promotion of cannabis products.”

Peter Biello / VPR

This holiday season, many make long journeys to spend time with their families. For parents with children in the armed forces, such holiday reunions aren’t always possible. A group of military mothers are mending their empty nests by reaching out to veterans in need of a family of sorts — those who are homeless and living in transitional housing.

Angela Evancie / VPR

The prospect of single-payer health care in Vermont is no more, at least for now.

Gov. Peter Shumlin announced Wednesday that he is backing away from his signature policy push that would have made Vermont the first state in the nation with a publicly financed health care system overseen by state government. The governor now says that the taxes required to pay for such a system would simply be too much for Vermont to bear.

Gov. Shumlin came to the VPR studios to talk with host Alex Keefe about his decision and what comes next.

Jason R. Henske / AP

In less than two weeks, the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant will enter its final shutdown. The Vernon reactor has generated electricity on the banks of the Connecticut River since 1972. It’s also generated public discord, litigation and mistrust. Officials on both sides hope that’s coming to an end, now that the plant is closing. But with decades of cleanup and decommissioning ahead, the saga of Vermont Yankee and the state is far from over.

Visitors to even the least restricted areas at Vermont Yankee must stop at the gatehouse and show their ID.

Jane Lindholm / VPR

One of the hallmarks of the holiday season for residents of northwestern Vermont is a vision of one of the SD Ireland concrete trucks rolling through town, decked out from head to tail gate in 25,000 Christmas lights.

Steve Zind / VPR

A century ago, home life in Vermont revolved around the wood burning cook stove. Meals were prepared, bread baked and hands warmed from the heat it produced. 

Stoves with names like Gold Coin, Priscilla and Charm Crawford may have faded into obscurity, but they still have an allure for some people, including Bill Wilber, who makes a living restoring them.