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Friday, May 25, 2018

New Chinese Environmental Policy Hits Vermont Recycling Programs

Posted By on Fri, May 25, 2018 at 12:47 PM

Recycling bins by the curb on Lake Street in Burlington - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • Recycling bins by the curb on Lake Street in Burlington
Recycling costs are going up for Chittenden County residents as the region's municipal waste authority adjusts to a sharp decline in the sale value of paper recyclables.

The Chittenden Solid Waste District increased the tipping fee — the charge for haulers who bring recycling to its Williston facility — on May 1. Another increase is likely soon, possibly in the next few months. Some haulers have already decided to pass the increase on to consumers.

The hikes come in response to the plummeting value of paper recyclables as China, which had been the world's largest consumer of recycling, ushers in strict new environmental regulations and stops accepting most mixed paper. The shift has put recycling programs around Europe and the U.S. into disarray. Vermont is also feeling the pinch.

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Facing Another Dry Summer, Winooski Residents Press for a New City Pool

Posted By on Mon, May 21, 2018 at 11:27 PM

The bone-dry pool - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • The bone-dry pool
Facing another summer without a city pool, Winooski residents crowded into a City Council meeting Monday night to push for a bond vote to finance a new one.

About 25 residents turned out. Many voiced frustration that there will be no pool for the third summer in a row. The aging Myers Memorial Pool closed in 2015.

Several people suggested that the bond for a new pool should have taken priority over the $23 million Main Street reconstruction project that voters approved earlier this month.

"I personally feel that this bond issue should have gone before," said resident Pat Everts.

"People are incredibly frustrated," added Sarah McGowan-Freije.

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Bernie Sanders to Seek Reelection to U.S. Senate

Posted By on Mon, May 21, 2018 at 9:44 AM

Sen. Bernie Sanders - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders
Updated at 12:20 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has formally announced that he is running for reelection this fall.

In a press release announcing the decision Monday, the two-term U.S. senator said he would seek another six years in Congress to continue fighting wealth inequality in the country.

“Our struggle to create a government which represents all of us and not just the 1 percent — a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice — must continue,” Sanders said. “And that is why I’m running for reelection.”

The candidate said he would formally launch his campaign in June with rallies across Vermont.

According to campaign spokesperson Arianna Jones, Sanders plans to seek the Democratic nomination in Vermont’s August primary. If he wins, she said, he would “respectfully” decline the nomination and run as an independent in the general election. Sanders would, however, accept the endorsement of the Vermont Democratic Party.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

With Fewer Students, Chittenden County School Faces Closure

Posted By on Wed, May 16, 2018 at 4:42 PM

education1-1-96e1bb13f5169814.jpg
After years of shrinking enrollment, Underhill ID elementary school could close in the fall of 2019.

The school's 88 students would transfer to Jericho Elementary or Underhill Central under a plan proposed Monday night by Chittenden East Supervisory Union superintendent John Alberghini.

The final decision would be up to the board of the Mount Mansfield Modified Union School District, which operates schools in Bolton, Jericho, Richmond and Underhill. No date has been set for a vote.

The proposed closure of the prekindergarten-through-fourth-grade school comes as Gov. Phil Scott and other leaders pressure school boards to deal with steadily declining enrollment statewide, and the growing cost of maintaining small schools.

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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Cannabis
Scenes From the First Vermont Cannabis Convention

Posted By on Sat, May 12, 2018 at 10:07 PM

Enthusiasm was high.
  • Enthusiasm was high.
So abundant were the CBD-infused treats Saturday at the Vermont Cannabis & Hemp Convention that even the dogs were getting in on the action.

Well, one anyway: Maple, a Spinone Italiano, sat quietly with her owner, Rachael Henne, at the table for RopaNa LLC, a CBD company from White River Junction. When Henne retrieved a vial of CBD, which is heralded for its supposed anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties, Maple licked voraciously from the dropper.

The pooch has anxiety, said Henne, and needed the stuff to cope with the buzzing crowd inside the DoubleTree by Hilton in South Burlington. A vet recommended Maple take Xanax, but Henne said she knew the healing power of CBD — and it's worked.

"Every time we take the bottle out, even for ourselves, she gets really excited and runs over," said Henne, whose company name means "heal oneself" in Sanskrit. And, at least to this observer, Maple was certainly chill.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Vermont Senate Guts the House Plan to Fund Waterways Cleanup

Posted By on Fri, May 11, 2018 at 6:33 PM

Lake Champlain - FILE: MOLLY WALSH
  • File: Molly Walsh
  • Lake Champlain
The Vermont Senate on Friday passed a stripped-down version of S.260, a bill originally designed to create a long-term funding mechanism for the federally mandated cleanup of the state's waterways. But environmental advocates say the legislation won’t do much to improve water quality in Vermont.

Jared Carpenter, a water policy advocate for the Lake Champlain Committee, said the legislation will not put the state on a path to pay for clean water in the long term.

“S.260 was a funding bill,” he said. “S.260 is dead. That’s not a funding bill.”

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Cannabis
Cannabis Expungements Planned in Chittenden, Windsor Counties

Posted By on Fri, May 11, 2018 at 4:28 PM

Sarah George - FILE: SASHA GOLDSTEIN
  • File: Sasha Goldstein
  • Sarah George
Here’s your chance to make that conviction go up in smoke.

Chittenden and Windsor counties will both hold expungement clinics next month to help wipe clean the records of people who have been convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession.

The events — June 9 in South Royalton and June 12 in Burlington — come weeks before possessing and growing small amounts of marijuana becomes legal in Vermont. Volunteers with the Center for Justice Reform at the Vermont Law School will help attendees fill out an expungement petition, which both Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George and Windsor County State’s Attorney David Cahill have vowed to support.

“This does not apply to felony-level offenses, convictions for sale of marijuana, or any offenses that took place outside of Windsor or Chittenden County,” Vermont Law School spokesperson Ben Jervey said in a press release.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Vermont House Approves $15 Minimum Wage by 2024

Posted By on Tue, May 8, 2018 at 6:25 PM

Rep. Heidi Scheuermann (R-Stowe) arguing against the minimum wage bill - TAYLOR DOBBS
  • Taylor Dobbs
  • Rep. Heidi Scheuermann (R-Stowe) arguing against the minimum wage bill
The Vermont House narrowly approved a bill Tuesday that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by the beginning of 2024.

The 77-69 vote came after a daylong debate that hinged on whether the minimum wage increase would help or hurt Vermont's lowest-paid workers.

“We must have the courage to tilt the playing field, the smallest amount, as slowly as possible” in favor of low-income workers, said Rep. Tom Stevens (D-Waterbury).

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Monday, May 7, 2018

Big April Brings in $44 Million Extra for Vermont Budget

Posted By on Mon, May 7, 2018 at 5:26 PM

Administration economist Jeffrey Carr, left, and legislative economist Tom Kavet - TAYLOR DOBBS
  • Taylor Dobbs
  • Administration economist Jeffrey Carr, left, and legislative economist Tom Kavet
A better-than-expected April for state revenues means that Vermont lawmakers have $44.2 million more to use in the budget for fiscal year 2019, according to a report by two state economists.

Vermont's Emergency Board, which is made up of Gov. Phil Scott and budget-writing state legislators from both chambers, voted unanimously on Monday to accept the report, which increases the annual revenue forecast.

Now, the legislature must decide whether to follow Scott’s demand that they use the money to prevent a property tax increase, or budget it elsewhere.

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Friday, May 4, 2018

Vermont House Approves Clean Water Funding Bill

Posted By on Fri, May 4, 2018 at 2:33 PM

Lake Champlain - FILE: MOLLY WALSH
  • File: Molly Walsh
  • Lake Champlain
The Vermont House approved a plan Friday that could generate tens of millions of dollars for clean water over the next 20 years by raising the state’s rooms and meals tax and using unclaimed bottle deposits.

The funding plan, crafted in the House Ways and Means Committee, would collect an estimated $4.55 million annually from the rooms and meals tax increase and an additional $1.94 million from unclaimed bottle deposits.

The House approved the bill, S. 260, in a 92 to 48 vote.

Ways and Means Committee chair Janet Ancel (D-Calais) said her panel added the funding mechanisms to spur action by the state on clean water funding — an issue that’s been the topic of multiple studies since the Vermont Clean Water Act passed in 2015.

“The studies have been helpful … but at some point rubber hits the road,” Ancel said. “It typically hits the road in the House Ways and Means committee.”

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