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Friday, April 16, 2021

High Schoolers Get Early Access to Register for COVID-19 Vaccine

Posted By on Fri, Apr 16, 2021 at 2:23 PM

A Burlington High School hallway - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Matthew Thorsen ©️ Seven Days
  • A Burlington High School hallway
High school students will get be able to register for COVID-19 vaccines earlier than other residents under 30, state officials announced on Friday, in a last-minute switch intended to allow more in-person graduation ceremonies.

Vermonters ages 16 to 18 may register for vaccines on 10 a.m. Saturday, two days earlier than others in the previously designated 16 to 29 age group. Older members of the group can register beginning at 6 a.m. on Monday.

Gov. Phil Scott said the head start came out of "empathy" for high school students who have had a difficult year. He also noted that the students might otherwise have trouble scheduling timely appointments because the Pfizer vaccine is the only one of three currently approved for people ages 16 and 17.

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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Vermont Extends Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Pause Through April 23

Posted By on Thu, Apr 15, 2021 at 1:13 PM

A patient receiving a vaccine dose - CATEYEPERSPECTIVE | DREAMSTIME
  • Cateyeperspective | Dreamstime
  • A patient receiving a vaccine dose
Updated on April 16, 2021.

Following federal guidance, Vermont is extending a "pause" on administering COVID-19 vaccines made by Johnson & Johnson through at least April 23.

The Vermont Department of Health announced the move Thursday. It comes after members of a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel met on Wednesday and said they needed more time to review a possible link between the vaccine and an extremely rare type of blood clot.

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Thursday, April 8, 2021

BTV-Based Beta Technologies Inks Deal With UPS for Electric Aircraft

Posted By on Thu, Apr 8, 2021 at 2:10 PM

An Alia prototype - BETA TECHNOLOGIES
  • Beta Technologies
  • An Alia prototype
Updated at 7:20 p.m.

South Burlington-based startup Beta Technologies has a deal with United Parcel Service to sell up to 150 of its experimental electric aircraft to the logistics company.

The agreement announced on Wednesday is a milestone for the Vermont company and for the emerging industry of electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, or eVTOLs, which promises to reduce fuel emissions and enable new methods of transport.

“A purchase order from UPS really gives the team here, who's really focused on the mission of the business, an opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the sustainability of aviation in the future,” founder and CEO Kyle Clark said in an interview.

UPS intends to use the aircraft for express delivery services in small- and mid-size markets, the company said in a press release, as part of an effort to transition away from fossil fuels.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Trooper Who Punched Suspect During Shaftsbury Arrest Cited for Assault

Posted By on Wed, Apr 7, 2021 at 6:14 PM

DREAMSTIME
  • Dreamstime
A Vermont State Police trooper faces a misdemeanor assault charge for hitting an intoxicated man during a combative arrest in Shaftsbury.

Trooper Robert Zink, 39, is accused of "striking" a 41-year-old man who was handcuffed on the ground during a February 23 arrest, according to a Wednesday press release from the Vermont State Police. He was cited at the request of the Vermont Attorney General.

The suspect was "actively resisting" arrest, according to the release, but Zink's blows did not appear to be in response to the man's actions, the release stated.

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An Interracial Couple Alleged Police Harassment in Bennington. Then the Selectboard Doxxed Them.

Posted By on Wed, Apr 7, 2021 at 4:36 PM

DANIEL FISHEL
  • Daniel Fishel
An interracial family says the Bennington Selectboard retaliated against them for filing complaints about police harassment last year by publishing extensive amounts of their personal information and livestreaming bodycam video of the encounters in question.

Cassandra Keating and Joel Fowler contend that the selectboard's decision to reveal their identities without their consent runs afoul of state public records law, which exempts from disclosure information that identifies someone who made allegations of wrongdoing against a public agency.  They've filed a formal complaint against Bennington with the Vermont Human Rights Commission.

They say the town's "unwritten policy" of disclosing the identities of those who complain about police misconduct has a disproportionate affect on people of color, who are stopped by police at unequal rates.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Former St. Albans Cop Charged With Assault for Sidewalk Tasing

Posted By on Tue, Apr 6, 2021 at 6:43 PM

Cpl. Mark Schwartz Tasing a subject - BODYCAM FOOTAGE
  • Bodycam Footage
  • Cpl. Mark Schwartz Tasing a subject
A former St. Albans police officer who used a Taser on a man within seconds of encountering him has been cited for assault more than two years after the incident.

Cpl. Mark Schwartz, who resigned in March 2020, used the weapon on a man who was walking away from a bar where a glass door had been smashed. Schwartz deployed the stun gun within five seconds of stepping out of his cruiser, just as the suspect was asking him, "What'd I do?"

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Scott Unveils Plan to Lift COVID-19 Restrictions in 90 Days

Posted By on Tue, Apr 6, 2021 at 2:56 PM

Health Commissioner Mark Levine (left) and Gov. Phil Scott - FILE: COLIN FLANDERS ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Colin Flanders ©️ Seven Days
  • Health Commissioner Mark Levine (left) and Gov. Phil Scott
The Scott administration on Tuesday laid out a phased plan to end most COVID-19 restrictions over the next 90 days, beginning by lifting quarantine rules for travelers later this week. 

The strategy, dubbed Vermont Forward, will reopen the state in four steps that are staggered monthly until July 4, when Gov. Phil Scott expects to remove the mask mandate and restrictions on gatherings. Senior state officials characterized the plan at a press conference as gradual and said it will align with progress in the vaccination campaign.

"We're in the last laps of this very long and difficult race," Scott said. "This plan shows how we'll finish strong."

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Monday, April 5, 2021

Mendon Residents Seek Statewide Inclusion Statement

Posted By on Mon, Apr 5, 2021 at 6:22 PM

Al Wakefield in Rutland with the newly installed sculpture of Martin Freeman, the first black president of an American college - COURTESY: BARBARA JEROMIN
  • Courtesy: Barbara Jeromin
  • Al Wakefield in Rutland with the newly installed sculpture of Martin Freeman, the first black president of an American college
Vermont hotelier Bob Harnish likes a challenge. So when his cousin Dave Bennion, chair of the Franklin Selectboard, told him last year about a declaration of inclusion that Franklin had adopted, Harnish decided to take the idea statewide.

The declaration condemns racism and welcomes all, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, age, or disability.

So far, Pittsford, Brandon, Moretown, Waterbury and Middlebury have joined Franklin in adopting the page-long declaration. Middlebury has taken its declaration further with its own version that calls for staff training and oversight.

Now Harnish and his friend Al Wakefield of Mendon are asking Gov. Phil Scott to adopt the declaration statewide, “letting the world know that we welcome diversity.”

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Thursday, April 1, 2021

State Settles Court Clerk's Discrimination Claim for $60K

Posted By on Thu, Apr 1, 2021 at 9:51 AM

PIOTR ADAMOWICZ | DREAMSTIME
  • Piotr Adamowicz | Dreamstime
The State of Vermont paid $60,000 earlier this year to settle claims by a former court clerk that said she was fired in 2018 because she is Black.

The settlement came on the heels of a separate investigation by the judiciary last summer into allegations that the former clerk’s supervisor, Tammy Tyda, made racist comments about Black people while on the job.

Tyda is still employed as a court operations manager in Caledonia County following what the judiciary described as “appropriate” discipline, without releasing further information.

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Friday, March 19, 2021

AG Donovan Refiles Third Major Case That Sarah George Dismissed

Posted By on Fri, Mar 19, 2021 at 6:32 PM

Attorney General T.J. Donovan - FILE: TAYLOR DOBBS ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Taylor Dobbs ©️ Seven Days
  • Attorney General T.J. Donovan
Updated at 7:31 p.m.

Attorney General T.J. Donovan is pursuing murder charges against a mentally ill transient who is accused of fatally stabbing a man in downtown Burlington in 2017.

In refiling the first-degree murder charge against Louis Fortier, Donovan has now overridden Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George in all three of the high-profile cases she dropped in 2019 on the grounds that the state could not prove the defendants were criminally responsible for their violent acts.

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