Southern Vermont

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This week marks two important dates for William Shakespeare: Although his actual birth date is unknown, he was baptized on April 26, 1564, and died almost 400 years ago on April 23, 1616.

David Evans, president of Southern Vermont College in Bennington, argues that everyone – literary scholar or not – should be acquainted with Shakespeare, and not just on the anniversary of his death.

Chuck Burton / AP/file

We are finally coming out of the deep freeze that we were in for pretty much all of February. Forty-three days below freezing in some parts of the state, 5-degree averages in Montpelier and Rutland. There will be some casualties of the cold weather – but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

VPR

VPR’s Southern Vermont correspondent Susan Keese passed away on Saturday following a brief illness. She was 67.

Susan’s life in Newfane revolved around her family: her husband Bud, her two children Christopher and Annie, and her three grandchildren. 

VPR

We are mourning the loss of VPR's Southern Vermont correspondent Susan Keese. She was a print and magazine journalist for years before joining VPR in 2002, and won numerous awards for her work. Keese died on Saturday following a brief illness. She was 67.

We will miss Susan's gentle nature, optimistic outlook, curiosity and incredible storytelling. Our thoughts are with her family.

Entergy

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission wants comments on Entergy Nuclear’s plan for decommissioning Vermont Yankee. The agency will hold a public meeting on the plan in Brattleboro on Feb. 19.

NRCGov / Flickr

If Vermont Yankee, the 620-megawatt nuclear power plant, and all of the spent nuclear fuel being stored on its site were to just up and vanish tomorrow, what would be left is a pretty good spot for a power plant.

Now that the plant is now offline, many are asking, what’s next? While the site of the power plant has a lot going for it, building something else where a nuclear reactor once stood is no easy task.

Susan Keese / VPR

The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant entered its final shutdown Monday at 1:03 p.m. The 620-megawatt reactor has been generating electricity for more than 42 years.

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.

Susan Keese / VPR

Gov. Peter Shumlin was in Brattleboro Friday to name the recipients of the first $2 million in economic development funds from Entergy Vermont Yankee. In a settlement with the state a year ago, Entergy pledged $10 million over five years to help Windham County bounce back after the plant closes later this month.

Susan Keese / VPR

The closing of Vermont's only school for the deaf has opened new debate about the best way to educate deaf and hard-of-hearing children. For decades, mainstreaming in public schools has been seen as a more enlightened alternative to residential schools for the deaf.  Now some Vermonters are questioning that assumption.

Susan Keese / VPR

More than 40 Vernon residents turned out for their town select board meeting Monday. Many said they’d come to air frustrations with the board and with the leadership of Select Board Chairwoman Patty O’Donnell. Their efforts were stymied when board members declared that public participation at the meeting was limited by law to issues on the agenda.

O’Donnell, a former state legislator, is under investigation for allegedly trying to intervene in a friend’s drunk driving arrest. Since the allegations became public disgruntled residents like Sue Cobb have been showing up at meetings.

Susan Keese / VPR

Two dozen fallow deer confiscated from Santa's Land in Putney have a new home. They’re living in the deer park at the Vermont Veterans Home in Bennington. The 22 deer were the last of more than 40 animals removed from the once popular theme roadside park. A llama, an emu, and assorted goats, ponies, donkeys and birds have been taken in by volunteers.

The park’s owner, Lilian Billewicz, and her employee, Brian Deistler, are awaiting trial on animal abuse charges. Last winter some 20 animals were found dead at the park. Others were emaciated and living in unsanitary conditions.

Vermont’s newly formed Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel held its second meeting last month at the Vernon Elementary School.

The panel was created to encourage communication between Entergy Vermont Yankee, the state, and communities around the plant. The reactor is closing in December. It’s expected to take decades to dismantle.

Chris Recchia, the commissioner of the Public Service department, is the panel’s acting chairman. He says communication with Entergy has improved, but areas of disagreement remain.

A three-way contest is underway for the two Senate seats that represent Bennington County and the Windham County town of Wilmington. Two Democrats – a longtime senate incumbent and a current house member – are running as a team. They face a relative political newcomer  who’s running as a Republican.

Jason R. Henske / AP/File

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is questioning Entergy Vermont Yankee’s claims that the risk of accidents is negligible after the plant stops operating. 

Entergy Vermont Yankee applied to the NRC in March for permission to scale back emergency planning once its fuel is moved from the reactor core to the spent fuel pool. That includes eliminating or drastically reducing emergency planning zones in towns surrounding the facility.

Mark Burke

The Vermont Jazz Center has been honored with a national Acclaim Award from Chamber Music America. The award recognizes arts organizations around the country for “extraordinary cultural contributions” in the regions they serve.

The award was presented Saturday at a concert at the jazz center’s performance space at the Cotton Mill, an old Brattleboro factory. Vermont Jazz Center Director Eugene Uman says the space invites creativity.

John Dillon / VPR

A coalition of  deaf and hard-of-hearing Vermonters and their allies wants the legislature to create a state Commission on the Deaf. The group is also calling for the state to reopen the recently closed Austine School for the Deaf as a state school. And they want deaf people to have a say in replacing services that ended when Austine’s parent group dissolved in September.

Susan Keese / VPR News

The town of Springfield has been considering an anti-loitering ordinance to help keep drugs and criminal activity off the streets. Those efforts have led to a broader discussion of the town’s problems.

Sitting in the Jenny Wren Café on Springfield’s main downtown street, Kimberly Bombria says she’s seen a lot of gang activity and drug sales. She traces much of the problem to tenants of the building that also houses the cafe.

State officials have named six members to a new panel that will oversee the decommissioning of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

The 19-member panel was created to help assure transparency, communication and citizen involvement as Vermont Yankee is dismantled. The nuclear plant is scheduled to stop operating in December.

Susan Keese / VPR

The Vermont Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing plans to close by the end of September. The center’s trustees made the decision at an emergency meeting late last week, citing ongoing financial problems as the cause.

The center provides a wide range of services for the deaf and hard of hearing. It’s headquartered on the sprawling campus of the Austine School in Brattleboro. The 100-year-old residential school has been under the center’s umbrella since 1998.

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