Fri 27-FEB-2015 6 P.M. News Script

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Welcome back to our discussion about legalizing recreational marijuana in Vermont. ((MATT -- In 20-14 -- there were 44 fatal crashes on Vermont roads. State Police say six drivers were high on drugs -- four of them on pot. Four were drunk. What do you say to law enforcement concerned about that drugged driving trend going up if pot is legal?)) ((DEBBY -- possession of pot is a minor offense. Why tie up expensive resources in the judicial system when you can just legalize it?)) ((DEBBY -- wouldn't it be better to regulate pot than have it sold on the black market by drug dealers?)) ((BOTH -- what lessons should Vermont learn from Colorado and Washington?))

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Monday on the Thirty -- we celebrate March by looking back a freezing February. Andy Nash of the National Weather Service joins us. We'll talk about this painfully cold February and how it will go down in history. Also - why was it so cold and what does this mean for spring? Is it EVER coming?!?!? We'll talk to Andy Monday at 5:30 on The Thirty.

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Good Evening I'm Kristin Kelly. And I'm Darren Perron. Education spending is out of control. That's the message lawmakers say they got from voters -- on last year's town meeting day. With less than a week until voters head back to the polls, lawmakers have a new bill aimed at addressing the problem. State House reporter Kyle Midura has more on this story, Kyle - Darren and Kristin - taxpayers won't see any benefit on this year's property tax bills, or even necessarily the year after, but lawmakers say they're glad to return to local meetings with an answer to last year's reform calls.

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Rep. Dave Sharpe leads the House Education Committee. Last year, voters called for reform on Town Meeting Day -- by shooting down budgets all across the Green Mountains. This year, Sharpe will arrive at his town meeting with a partial answer to voters demands, which would alter funding, spending and governance of the state's schools. (00:01:23:00) ((Rep. Dave Sharpe The job of educating our children can be better done for less money )) To achieve that, the measure includes provisions that would: - create new incentives for communities to join larger districts -- with a goal of 11-hundred kids per district by 2019 - require local votes to include a breakdown of how decisions will affect tax bills - and cap school district spending increases at two percent through 2018 -- though Sharpe hopes other committees can refine that aspect. (00:02:12:00) ((Rep. Dave Sharpe - D-Bristol: My hope is that they're able to nuance the cap in a better way so that it treats schools and kids more fairly across the state.)) Sharpe says the bill is projected to save between 25 and 50 million dollars -- once schools begin shifting districts and sharing more costs. But that cannot happen if the bill stalls in the Senate like a similar, but less-ambitious measure did last year. (00:10:57:00) ((Sen. Ann Cummings - D-Washington County I'm sure there'll be concerns and there will be changes and we may add or subtract but we're all going in the same direction)) (00:14:26:00) ((Sen. Ann Cummings - D-Washington County and we fully intend to have a bill out of here this year)) This year Sen. Ann Cummings is at the helm of the Senate Education Committee. She says they've been exploring many of the same reform elements the house committee pursued -- but cautions voters that complete tax salvation will not immediately materialize. (00:13:20:00) ((Sen. Ann Cummings - D-Washington County I don't know that we're going to do anything miraculously and drop your property tax rate five cents this year))

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Not everyone is completely on-board with the education proposal... spokespeople for the state's teachers' union say they're deeply concerned by a potential spending cap, but generally complimented lawmakers on their reform efforts. - Kristin Thanks Kyle. A bit later in the broadcast we will be talking about fixing the state's big budget mess -- with Representative Mitzi Johnson - who chairs the House Appropriation Committee.

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Both the governor -- and lieutenant governor will be no-shows -- this Town Meeting Day. Governor Shumlin is heading out of state for vacation. The Governor will leave Saturday -- and we're told he'll head to the Island of Dominica -- and will be there until Thursday. Normally - Lt. Governor Phil Scott fills in as acting Governor when the Governor is away. But - he too will be out of state - in Florida visiting his mother. So - House Speaker Shap Smith will be acting Governor much of next week - including on Town Meeting Day. The legislature is not in session next week. It's the mid-winter break.

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Could you imagine not being able to heat your home. It's become the reality for many Vermonters as the temperatures continue to dip below zero. Some may soon be getting some state relief. Our Eva McKend reports.

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Whether it was his work in child support, law enforcement or driving the school bus, for decades, Donald Ovaitte helped other people but the retired disabled senior was almost on his own when he ran out of fuel weeks ago. ((Donald Ovaitte, Retired Disabled Senior, 00:19:23:16 - 00:19:35:27, It's hard for seniors today. I mean, where do you go for help? If you have social security, you may get help but if you have social security plus some other assistance, like I do from the state of Vermont, they turn you down unless you got a whole family.)) ***NAT ((Andre Rouleau, Concerned Neighbor, 00:30:22:24 - 00:30:25:24 Well of course, when he called. Had to do something.)) Ovaitte, once a member of the Vermont State Guard, before nearly losing the ability to walk after an accident, didn't qualify for fuel assistance from the state but as the temperatures continued to dip below zero, neighbors and friends like Andre Rouleau stepped in. ((Andre Rouleau, Concerned Neighbor, 00:28:16:11 - 00:28:19:24 We feel that neighbors have to help neighbors.)) ((Donald Ovaitte, Retired Disabled Senior, 00:19:10:06 - 00:19:22:18, He called his fuel oil supplier and had them cover over and deliver me a whole tank full of fuel oil. Of course, I'm going to pay him back, little by little but at least, he was kind enough to fill my tank up for me so I don't freeze.)) STAND UP ((00:37:23:11 - 00:37:38:26, Although Donald was ineligible, relief is on the way for Vermonters who do qualify. The state has just announced 375 thousand dollars in additional funding for statewide crisis fuel grants.)) ((Travis Poulin, CVOEO, 00:05:09:28 - 00:05:14:24, It's going to allow us to help hundreds of families that otherwise we wouldn't have been able to assist.)) Community Action Agencies like the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity have assisted almost two thousand households this heating season. Fuel prices are by comparison low this winter - but temperatures are lower. They say the help they offer, though crucial, is modest and that being unable to afford heat is a truly uneviable position. ((Travis Poulin, CVOEO, 00:05:58:21 - 00:06:05:06, In the winter, you need heat, otherwise your home becomes uninhabitable. It's a reason we've seen families become homeless.)) The group will be able to help 650 families with these additional funds. Ovaitte hopes his new application for help will be accepted this time. ((Donald Ovaitte, Retired Disabled Senior, 00:20:03:21 - 00:20:09:12, That would be wonderful. I mean, I am disabled. I am over 60, you know. It would be nice if I can get some help.)) Eva McKend, Channel 3 News, Graniteville.

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Dan Dowling is here. Nice to see some sun, but still cold out there. (wx script)

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Evacuations in Springfield today for a building in danger of collapsing. Fire Crews responded to a home on Furnace street this afternoon after a wall collapsed. The building had been abandoned for quite some time -- and crews were planning tear it down anyway. After the wall came down the nearby chinese restaurant was evacuated. A demolition crew will likely be called in to finish the job.

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Meanwhile - first responders are on the scene of a house fire in Westfield tonight. These are pictures from the property along route 242 just west of Jay Peak. State police say right now the resort can only be accessed by the Troy side of the mountain. We have a crew on the scene and will have an update on the Channel 3 News at 11.

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Nine people pleaded not guilty to resisting arrest during a protest at Governor Shumlin's inauguration. Authorities say protestors refused to leave a sit-in in the House chamber -- as the building was shutting down for the night. They were carried out by state police. The Washington County State's Attorney say he offered the group court diversion -- but they declined.

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Vermont prosecutors experienced a major setback in an almost thirty year old homicide case. An important piece of evidence that could have put the case to rest - was found out to be mishandled. Eliza Larson has more.

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Michael Hall is Manchester's police chief. He still remembers the day - almost 30 years ago - when he and another patrol officer were driving through town and found an abandoned car wedged in an alleyway behind a gas station. (TC 18:45:22:20 Title 1842)((Michael Hall/Manchester Police Chief: "it was just one of those situations that just didn't look good right from the start." 18:45:26:05)) The car belonged to Sarah Hunter - a 36 year old woman who worked at the Manchester Country Club as a golf pro. She was reported missing in September 19-86. Her body was found near a corn field in Pawlet just weeks later in November. Vermont state police said she had been strangled and sexually assaulted. Chief Hall says the murder came as a shock for Manchester. He says many people were fond of Sarah Hunter. And after so many years - he says it's time to hold someone accountable for her death. (TC 18:47:02:11 Title 1842)((Michael Hall/Manchester Police Chief: "it's very concerning to the community initially because there was the unknown as to really what the circumstances were." 18:47:26:23)) The investigation of Sarah Hunter's murder is complex. (TC 16:43:59:21 Title 1621)((Erica Marthage/Bennington County State's Attorney: "it's important for the town, for the state to have closure on it." 16:44:05:26)) Erica Marthage is the State's Attorney for Bennington County. She says David Morrison was identified as a suspect early on in the investigation of Sarah Hunter's death. Morrison was questioned by Vermont police from late 1986 into 1987 - but he left the state in January 1988. Before leaving - he left his car with a friend in Arlington. Morrison was incarcerated in California for kidnapping and sexual assault that same year. Knowing that he was a person of interest in Vermont - California police interviewed Morrison. According to the affidavit - Morrison had his own theories about what happened to Hunter. (TC 19:14:26:16 Title 1913)((Eliza Larson/Manchester: "the gas station behind me used to be known as Leo's Citgo. It was where patrol officers found Sarah Hunter's car - abandoned - about thirty years ago." 19:14:36:19)) Back in Vermont - it took nearly 22 years to locate - identify - and process evidence in this case. In 19-88 - Police located Morrison's car. The Vermont Forensic lab processed the evidence. Finally - in August 2010 - some key pieces were sent off to the FBI near Washington D.C. For DNA testing. (TC 16:31:08:15 Title 1621)((Erica Marthage/Bennington County State's Attorney: "There was a ton of circumstantial evidence that he was in fact the person involved. We had filed in this matter a prior bad acts statement indicating the nature of his other offenses. this provided the new evidence - the newly analyzed evidence that would kind of set it over the edge." 16:31:27:11)) It took a year for the FBI to process the physical evidence - they determined the hair sample found in Morrison's car was in fact Sarah Hunter's. Morrison was brought back to Vermont for trial. He pleaded not guilty in July 20-14 to first-degree murder. But when Marthage's deputies revisited the evidence in Waterbury just a few months before trial - they found a big mistake. (TC 16:36:10:27 Title 1621)((Erica Marthage/Bennington County State's Attorney: "there were seven envelopes of vacuumings that were inventoried from the defendants car. And all seven of those were still in evidence in Waterbury." 16:36:23:12)) So -- the evidence that was sent to the FBI was from Hunter's car - not Morrison's. The evidence was handled by Vermont State Police. Colonel Tom L'Esperance says they are taking full responsibility for the mix up. What we do know - VSP took over the case from Manchester police in 1986. Detective Sgt. Helaine Gaiotti got the case in 2010. ((Colonel Tom L'Esperance, VT State Police, TC: :02:07 "I don't think for a moment that anybody purposely mishandled evidence or mislabeled evidence, but we need to find out why it happened and how it happened to ensure that it doesn't happen again and present an investigation to the prosecutor that will be sound. ")) VSP is conducting an internal investigation to determine who - and what - was involved in the mishandling of evidence. Officials say Detective Giaotti is no longer on the case and that VSP appointed a new detective. ((Colonel Tom L'Esperance, VT State Police, TC:00:01:45:00 "There's not closure for any family that loses a family member to horrific crime like this. So when we add an element to an investigation that we've added, that's a setback. I mean, that's unacceptable. ")) Marthage says the evidence from Morrison's car will now be sent for testing - and perhaps Sarah Hunter's case will be one step closer to closing. Eliza Larson. Channel 3 News. Manchester.

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Authorities seized animals from a home in Hardwick. They took three horses, five sheep, three goats and four dogs -- from the property on Hopkins Hill Road. No word yet on any charges. Police say the investigation continues.

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And the Humane Society needs your help caring for dozens of animals seized in Eden. Around 70 dogs were removed from a property Wednesday. Officials are now calling for volunteers to care for the animals -- they need help with simple tasks like walking, feeding and kennel help. They also need assistance with more advanced care like trimming nails, cleaning ears, and oral exams. If you're interested in helping -- contact the humane society of chittenden county.

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Both the City of Plattsburgh and Plattsburgh Town -- want to get in on the Medical Marijuana business. Rose Spillman reports.

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Monday night, the town board of Plattsburgh approved a resolution supporting and encouraging the potential for medical marijuana businesses coming to the area. Last July Governor Cuomo approved the legalization of medical marijuana to be sold by 5 companies across the state, which will be chosen and licensed by the department of health. (01:39:00 8116) ((Michael Cashman/Town Councilor"What I would really like to see is a north country business doing this, and I hope that one of the local licenses really is up in the North Country for a multitude of reasons." 01:39:13)) The vote by the board was unanimous. Earlier this month, the city of Plattsburgh passed a similar resolution in support of medical marijuana. (01:17:59 8105) ((Joshua Kretser/City Council "You know our constituents realize the benefit of not only making medicine accessible to North Country residents, but also the tax revenue could potentially be a gamechanger for the city and for the county." 01:18:11)) Town Supervisor Bernie Bassett says the tax revenue may not directly benefit the city or town that a dispensary is located it, but rather it would go to the overall county. (01:24:25 8106) ((Bernie Bassett/Town Supervisor "It appears that the revenue sharing would be to the county much as they distribute sales tax today." 01:24:33)) (00:45:42 8465) ((Rose Spillman/Plattsburgh "After numerous attempts to hear the public's input on this issue, none were willing to comment on camera, but several in Plattsburgh did admit that they did not approve of medical Marijuana coming to the area and were afraid that it would lead to drug abuse. )) City and town officials we talked to say they believe it's a legitimate medicine. And that having a medical marijuana dispensary in Plattsburgh would be beneficial to residents in need of employment. (00:01:30) ((Thomas Wood/Town Councilman "This would bring in the kind of jobs and revenue... and the kind of paying jobs that we really would like to see in this area." 00:01:37)) New York will allow for up to 20 dispensaries across the state, and medical marijuana can only be prescribed in a pill or topical form. Plattsburgh officials hope that a business in the city or town would provide North Country residents with better access to this treatment option. Rose Spillman, Channel 3 News, Plattsburgh.

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It's been a week of celebrity sightings. Former Beatle Paul McCartney was in Vermont -- and so was Comedian Craig Ferguson... So, it seems like a good time to take a closer look at just who is visiting and how much they're spending!

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Coming up on the weekend, Julie Kelley goes in depth on the 2013 Benchmark Study on tourism in Vermont. It turns out visitors are making more frequent trips, they're staying longer and spending more. Vermont tourism leaders say, ten percent of our visitors come from Canada. And ... They have their eyes on attracting even more international tourists.

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(TC - 00:03:14:00) ((Steve Cook/Deputy Commissioner Tourism & Marketing Top markets for Vermont really are Germany and the UK are very important international markets for us. We have been increasing our presence in those areas with how we're promoting our state. So those are the top two.)) Cook says, international visitors stay longer which typically translates into more money being spent here. Also coming up tomorrow morning ...

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((001234 What do you do with a closed Vermont mountain road and a bunch of sleds? I'm Cat Viglienzoni with this week's Destination Recreation -- extreme sledding! 001242))

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Start the weekend with Julie, Nick and Cat for developing news overnight and your forecast! They're on from 6-8 Saturday morning and 8am on Sunday.

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Vermont is facing a 110 million dollar deficit.. And fixing the finances won't be easy. The budget hole seems to keep growing. Yesterday the House Appropriations Committee unveiled 29-million in possible cuts - just to cover the latest dip in the budget. They range from cutting subsidies to help people pay for health insurance - to closing the prison in Windsor - to eliminating the Tourism Department.

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Rep. Mitzi Johnson from South Hero is chair of the House Appropriations Committee - in charge of creating the budget plan. Thanks for joining us. ((Some of the cuts outlined yesterday seemed painful - but some also seemed unlikely to win support... How helpful is it at this point in the session to look at options that are not likely to go anywhere?)) ((The state budget is growing at a rate that is outstripping revenues - this has been the case for some time. Will lawmakers make fundamental changes to how state government works in order to bring spending and cashflow in line? )) ((And what about taxes? The VSEA says lawmakers should raise taxes on high income earners - rather than cut state jobs. There's a payroll tax floating around, a sweetened beverage tax .. Are we looking at big tax increases this year to save the budget?)) House Appropriations Chair Mitzi Johnson - Thank you.

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Dan is back. Hoping for some warmer weather this weekend.

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Tonight: Mostly clear and cold. Low 0/-15. Wind light. Saturday: Mostly sunny. High 15/22. Wind S 5-10 mph. Saturday Night: Partly cloudy. Low -5/5. Wind light. Sunday: Increasing clouds. Chance of light snow, late. High 20/28. Wind S 5-10 mph. Monday: Mostly cloudy. Light morning snow likely. High 25/32. Low 0/10. Tuesday: Partly sunny. High 25/32. Low 15/25. Wednesday: Cloudy skies. A mix of rain and snow likely. High 33/40. Low 15/25. Thursday: Becoming partly cloudy. Chance of morning snow showers. High 20s. Low 0/10. Friday: Partly sunny. High 20s.

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A Burlington man is accused of giving heroin to a minor. Adam Gardam is charged in the case. In court yesterday - he was ordered not to go near any school -- and not to have contact with anyone under the age of 18.

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A student at Paul Smith's college is accused of threatening another student with a knife. 19 year old Kimberly Yager faces charges of menacing and criminal possession of a weapon. She's due in court in next month.

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and Police say a man was caught driving more than 100 miles per hour on 1-89 in Sharon. Investigators say Matthew Struthers -- of Massachusetts -- was nabbed going 105 in the Southbound lane. He's due in court in April. That's news around the region.

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Starting Line Sports ...the 18th ranked UVM men's hockey team closes out the regular season with a two game series tonight and tomorrow night at number 14 UMass-Lowell ...and there is plenty at stake. After earning three points last weekend at home against Merrimack, the Cats head into the final weekend in seventh place in the Hockey East standings, but only a point behind the third place Riverhawks. So a top four finish and first round playoff bye is still very much on the line. Plus Vermont and Lowell are both in the thick of the race for a potential at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, so this weekend's results, in Lowell and throughout the conference, will all play a role in the Cats' future, but coach Kevin Sneddon says the focus needs to be on the task at hand.

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((TRT: 28 .... OC: DOWN TO LOWELL))

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The UVM women's hockey team, after finishing the season on a 4-1-1 run, opening the Hockey East quarterfinals at seventh ranked Boston University this afternoon. The puck dropped at five, the Terriers scored five goals in the first and at last check it was 7-1 B-U going into the third period.

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Coming up later, it's day one of the NCAA Eastern Championships from Lake Placid...

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Burlington residents head to the polls next week to vote for Mayor. Tonight Alex Apple wraps up his profile of the candidates with a report on Incumbent Democrat Miro Weinberger.

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((:06 You voted for a fresh start and a new direction for Burlington.)) Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger hopes voters believe -- that over the last three years -- he gave Burlington that fresh start. ((NAT)) The incumbent says he's freshened up Burlington's northern waterfront -- launched planBTV and revealed plans for the Church Street mall's renovation. So now he's asking voters for a second term as Queen City mayor. However -- his 3 opponents say he's developing Burlington far too quickly -- losing sight of the city's historic charm. (07:07 Mayor Miro Weinberger/Burlington) (("I don't see us in any way, what we're pushing for, as in conflict with what we love about Burlington's history.")) Repeatedly at debates -- Weinberger's CHALLENGERS say that while the mayor's focused on development, he's lost sight of making the city more affordable. He argues the opposite. (09:02 Miro Weinberger/Burlington) (("Even though the downtown is just 2% of the overall land area for the city, it generates 22% of the property taxes for the whole city.")) (09:17 Miro Weinberger/Burlington) (("they could be generating substantially more, helping us keep Burlington more affordable by keeping property taxes down.")) If elected to a second term -- Weinberger promises that addressing poverty will be at the center of his agenda. (10:12 Miro Weinberger/Burlington) (("I'm very excited about this new focus on early learning initiatives as being a way to attack poverty in a new way.")) That program focuses on GETTING children READY for kindergarten. Weinberger says statistics continue to show children born into poverty are increasingly less prepared FOR SCHOOL. (10:59 Miro Weinberger/Burlington) (("By THIS time next year, we will have a pilot program up that will provide home visiting and scholarships to children in this community.")) Then -- Weinberger says its his responsibility to make sure those children can AFFORD housing after their days in school are finished. (04:47 Miro Weinberger/Burlington) (("That is what my background was in before I was mayor. I was an affordable housing developer.")) To make that housing more affordable -- he says he'll ensure more student and subsidized housing is built. ((DEBATE16:09 I've said we should have an ambitious goal of building 1500 new beds for students.)) For now those promises remain words -- he's asking Burlington voters to give him three more years in office to turn those words into action. Alex Apple. Channel 3 News. Burlington.

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Dan is here. Everyone ready to close the book on February.

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When it comes to head injuries -- a wake up call tonight for improved safety for young athletes. Doctors at the University of Vermont have found early markers for brain damage -- in some of the state's hockey players. Bridget Barry Caswell has the details.

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In a cold, northeastern state like Vermont, hockey is big. (natsnd glass smash) And it can be brutal. (7:24) ((Dr. James Hudziak/UVM Pediatric Neuropsychiatrist: In my work, we've shown that concussive events in the general population is around 11 percent in this age group. It looks like around 50-percent in our players, and in the East Coast Hockey League it's around 60-percent. To me that's an epidemic.)) It's an epidemic that Hudziak says is not getting the attention it should. He's a hockey fan himself -- loves the game and so do his own kids, who both play on teams. But he says his study of 29 male, elite hockey players -- half of them Vermonters, between ages 14 and 23, is alarming. Hudziak wanted to know if young, developing brains are more sensitive to blows than adult brains. He believes they are. (1:50) ((Dr. James Hudziak/UVM Pediatric Neuropsychiatrist: What we found was the more concussions you had, the more post concussive symptoms you had, the thinner the cortices were in the area of emotional control, emotional regulation, particularly in the frontal cortex was quite worrisome about the impact of these events on the developing brain, on the area of the brain being able to make decisions about your life.)) Connected to the thinner cortex were these hyper-intensities -- seen here in green -- also called unidentified bright objects -- or UBOs. (10:39) ((Dr. James Hudziak/UVM Pediatric Neuropsychiatrist: So in the literature, it's thought that the normally developing human will have one unidentified bright object in his or her brain for every decade that he or she has lived. Well, we were finding athletes, hockey players with 18, 16, 15 -- and that worried us a little bit.)) So what does it mean? Were the hyper-intensities caused by concussions, and will those early signs of brain damage lead to catastrophic disease later in life -- like chronic traumatic encephalopathy -- or CTE -- found prevalent in retired NFL players? Hudziak and the Boston University professor who studied those NFL brains both believe young brains can recover, but they say more study is needed to know for sure. (6:58) ((Dr. James Hudziak/UVM Pediatric Neuropsychiatrist: The difference between a professional football player, a boxer, and a 14 year old hockey player is tremendous, but what would happen if a hockey player with certain hyper-intensities and cortical thickness findings continues to play and continues to have concussions and continues to go forward, we don't know.)) He focused on hockey, but Hudziak stresses that heading the ball in soccer, collisions on the field, and in football are just as harmful. But he cautions -- the takeaway from his study is not a putting an end to contact sports. (13:24) ((Dr. James Hudziak/UVM Pediatric Neuropsychiatrist: I would think it terrible if people walked away from this saying, oh sports lead to negative outcomes because at the same time we have data that perhaps the most protective thing you can do for a 13 year old is have him or her on a sports team.)) (13:41) ((As I think you know, I just want to make these sports safer.)) Safer through a ban on head hits at all levels of hockey, a change in body-checking policies, and maybe even an end to heading the ball in soccer. They're all steps Hudziak says could protect the young brain at its most critical stage of development - between birth and the early 20's. BBC, Ch. 3 News, Burlington.

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Hudziak (HOOD-JACK) is now studying young female hockey players - from both Rice High School and South Burlington High -- and he says they're finding similar markers for brain damage.

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The NCAA Eastern Championships of the college ski season getting underway today in Lake Placid. A great opportunity for the competitors to race on the famous Olympic venues, and also a chance to get some important experience as the NCAA Championships will be held at the same sites in two weeks. We get things going at Whiteface Mountain ...and the men's and women's giant slalom ...the women getting underway first and it's a one-two finish for UVM...Kristina Riis-Johannessen with the fastest times in both the first and second runs, powering to the win by almost 1.3 seconds over teammate Elli Terwiel ...with teammate Brittany Lathrop coming in sixth. --- Dartmouth had a good day...three in the top eight led by fifth place Libby Gibson... but the SkiCats ruled the top of the podium ...

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((TRT: 24 ... OC: COMING UP ))

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The men's giant slalom featured a dominant performance by Vemront's William St. Germain...fastest time in run one... second fastest in run two and he picks up the win by over one and a half seconds... Taylor Wunsch of Swanton was the next highest UVM finishers, coming in 11th... --- the best team local team performance coming from Middlebury, as the Panthers finish fifth, sixth and eighth...led by Riley Plant...but every looking up at Vermont's St. Germain ...

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((TRT: 17 ... OC: WENT WELL TOO.))

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the nordic events being held at Mount Van Hoevenberg...and the men's 10K freestyle was dominated by Dartmouth and Vermont...the two teams claiming the top eight spots in the standings. Dartmouth's Patrick Caldwell cruised to the win, with teammate Jan Ketterson finishing third... overall, the Big Green going 1-3-5-6 on the day... --- between that Dartmouth duo on the podium, Vermont's Rogan Brown finished second, fellow SkiCat Jorgen Grav was fourth ...Vermont going 2-4-7-8 on the day... and impressive performance from both programs...

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((TRT: 21 ... OC: ABOUT THAT))

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In the women's 5K freestyle, Middlebury's Heather Mooney of Peru, Vermont continued her outstanding season, earning the win by 16 seconds over New Hampshire's Annika Taylor. UVM claims the next four spots in the standings, led by a third place finish from Stephanie Kirk.

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With so much Vermont green at the top of the leaderboards it's no surprise that UVM sits in first place after day one...84 points head of Dartmouth and New Hampshire, who are tied for second. The Eastern Championships conclude tomorrow with the men's and women's slalom at Whiteface and a pair of mass start classic races at Mount Van Hoevenberg ...

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Both the St. Michael's men's and women's basketball teams open the Northeast-10 playoffs tonight. The Purple Knight men host St. Rose in a first round matchup starting at 7pm at the Ross Sports Center. The SMC women are on the road, visiting AIC. We'll have highlights of the men's game at 11pm.

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The Castleton men's and women's hoop teams are in the NAC semifinals...and both are in action tonight against Colby-Sawyer. Each game tipped off at 6pm. The women are at home and leading 33-16 late in the first. The men are on the road and they are up as well, 27-22 late in the first half. We will have highlights from that women's semifinal at 11pm.

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Across the lake, the Plattsburgh men are the top seed in the SUNYAC championship tournament. The Cardinals host Brockport in the semifinals tonight at 7:30pm and with a win would play for the title at home tomorrow at 4pm.

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Last night, the Norwich women hosting Johnson and Wales in the GNAC semis. --- late first half, Thetford high grad Shyann Josler finds Leanne Winans inside for 2, but Norwich trailed by 12 at the break. --- The Cadets trying to get back into this thing in the second half, Aliah Curry finding her way to the basket for 2 of her game high 26 points. --- However, a 12-2 run by the Wildcats at the start of the second half really put this one out of reach, Raquel Pederzani for 3. The Cadets fall, 74-65. Norwich's win streak ends at 12 games as the team waits for a possible at large bid to an NCAA or ECAC tournament.

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To Barre we go for the Division 3 girls hoop semifinals. Up first Number 3 richford and second seed and undefeated Williamstown. --- The Blue Devils showing early why they were undefeated this season, Sarah Bellavance the steal, Mariah Lamell the lay in. --- But the Rockets blast off from there, Alexandria Benoit driving to the hoop for 2. Richford by 5 after one. --- More of the same in the second quarter, co-captian Gabby Coons taking its strong for 2 more. --- Then it's Saide Fuller getting the nice feed, gets 2 and the foul. Richford wins big, 78-50.

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In the other D3 semi, number 4 Enosburg taking on top dog, Thetford. --- Enosburg gets out to a very early lead after the steal, Brooke St. Onge lays it in. --- But the Panthers respond with a 15-0 run, Michaela Pomeroy stays with it and hits Nelly Junesand for 2. --- Second quarter, Kayley Gray takes it in uncontested for 2 more. Thetford wins, 53-34. They'll face Richford for the D-3 championship tomorrow night.

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That's one of three girls basketball state championships tomorrow at the Barre Aud. Also, MSJ faces Proctor for the D-4 title at noon...Lake Region and Mill River play for the D-2 crown at 3:45pm. And tomorrow night at 5pm and 7pm, the girls D-1 semis at Patrick Gym. Plus, tonight...boys hoop quarterfinals and the first hockey semifinal...with more of those coming tomorrow.

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