The Frequency

Middlebury's former Lazarus Department Store has been leveled and will become a pop-up pocket park. Three Vermont communities are semifinalists for Georgetown University's Energy Prize. Submissions are open for Montpelier's PoemCity and Randolph's PoemTown National Poetry Month projects, in April.

In the first statement since negotiations began under their auspices, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service has acknowledged that talks between representatives of FairPoint Communications and two striking unions are continuing and that “progress is being made”.

A statement issued Friday evening by FMCS Acting Director Allison Beck on behalf of the negotiating parties offers little additional information.  

Lawmakers introduced a bill Thursday that would expand background checks for private gun sales and require Vermont courts to report some mentally ill Vermonters to the national background check system.

The bill has been discussed at length outside of the statehouse for weeks, but lawmakers finally have details to debate.

Colchester Police released a set of documents this week that shed more light on the former officer who allegedly stole from the department’s evidence locker to support his heroin habit.

Attention Vermont poets: Montpelier and Randolph want you to be part of their National Poetry Month celebrations throughout April. But the submission deadlines are approaching to have your work considered for the PoemCity and PoemTown projects.

A new report from a national gun control group says an unregulated online gun market in Vermont is putting more than 100 firearms in the hands of felons and domestic abusers annually.

Under federal law, those groups are not allowed to own guns.

The report from Everytown for Gun Safety says a proposed state law could help regulate the market and keep hundreds of guns from falling into the wrong hands.

Darn Tough Socks

Vermont manufacturer Darn Tough Socks is planning a 100,000-square-foot expansion at its mill in Northfield. The addition, to be completed in 18 months, is nearly twice as large as the company’s present facility.

Darn Tough President and CEO Ric Cabot says the company has experienced consecutive years of revenue growth of between 60 and 70 percent annually. Sales revenue in 2013 grew 63 percent over the previous year.

Lawmakers from Vermont and New Hampshire have asked the Federal Communications Commission to consider whether FairPoint Communications has the ability to operate emergency communications networks in their states.

U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and, Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and Annie Kuster (D-NH) have written to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Their letter expresses concerns over recent E-911 outages in both states.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR File Photo

Gov. Peter Shumlin and lawmakers crafting the 2016 fiscal year budget will have to dig a little deeper after state economists provided a downgrade to the general fund revenue forecast Tuesday, despite positive signs in the economy related to lower oil prices.

Toby Talbot / AP/file

Three Vermont communities are in the running for Georgetown University's $5 million Energy Prize. The contest's goal is to "to rethink the way American communities use energy." Fifty semifinalist communities from across the United States were announced last week. The field will be narrowed to a finalist round in 2017.