Wed 25-FEB-2015 Noon News Script

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Good afternoon. I'm Logan Crawford in for Roger Garrity. Lawmakers got a sneak peek this morning into emergency dispatch operations as they consider whether cost-saving plans to consolidate are feasible. ((dispatcher nats - Vermont 911, where's your emergency?)) The House Committee on Government Operations toured the Public Safety Answering Point at the Williston State Police barracks. Vermont faces a budget hole of more than 100-million dollars. Part of the plan to fill it includes consolidating the number of dispatch centers from four to two. Rep. Donna (Swee -knee) Sweaney says seeing the center in action will help their decision making process.

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(00:18:15:00) ((Rep. Donna Sweaney - D-Windsor I think it was re-assuring to come here and see what they're doing and what the plans are and how they're testing to make sure when the consolidation takes place that it will work out and Vermonters will be safe and be able to get their calls through)) Governor Shumlin says his consolidation proposal would save about two-million dollars -- and shut down operations in Derby and Rutland. The move would come with position cuts. Employees and local communities are pushing back against the proposed change.

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FairPoint employees are back on the job. About 450 Vermonters are working today after more than four months out on strike. Under the new contract, employees keep their defined benefit pensions -- but company contributions will be reduced. Workers will also pay more for health care. We'll have more on the prolonged work stoppage -- and how FairPoint and its employees can go about rebuilding their relationship -- tonight on The Thirty with Mike McCune and Gina Bullard.

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More than 25-hundred government jobs in Vermont could be impacted if Congress doesn't pass a budget. Funding for the Department of Homeland Security expires Friday. If it does -- Homeland Security workers could see pay cuts and possible furloughs. Senators Leahy and Sanders and Representative Welch call for Congress to pass the DHS budget by March first.

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A Woodstock police officer is accused of domestic violence. State Police say 45-year old Mark McComas of Quechee assaulted someone at his home twice in the last month. McComas will be arraigned this afternoon. Prior to working in Woodstock -- McComas served on the force in Hartford.

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Multiple charges against a woman police say drove drunk in the Upper Valley and got into several accidents. It started last night in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Police say 51-year old Kimberly Dyke of Orford hit a pedestrian -- and took off. Police say she crossed into Vermont -- where she allegedly crashed into the McDonald's in Hartford. Dyke is charged with drunk driving, leaving the scene of an accident and gross negligent operation of a vehicle.

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Police say a woman who hit a man with her car will not face charges. The incident happened Tuesday night on Route 131 in Weathersfield. The 48-year-old Thetford man was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Vermont State Police say the driver told them she was unable to brake or avoid the man -- who was standing in the road.

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A plan to grant amnesty to people with suspended licenses is designed to help clear court calendars. State officials say about 22-thousand Vermonters have suspended licenses for failing to pay old tickets. A pilot program in five counties would allow affected drivers to pay 20 dollars per ticket to clear their records -- and legally re-gain the right to drive. It's a one day offer -- available only on March 20th.

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((TJ Donovan/Chittenden County State's Attorney 00:09:36 "They're still driving. And they're driving because they're not criminals. They're driving because they have to."They're driving to get to work. They're driving to put food on their table.")) ((TJ Donovan/Chittenden County State's Attorney 00:09:52 "This is not a gift. This is in the interest of all Vermonters because while they are on our roadways, we know they're driving illegally but they're also driving without insurance and that puts us all at risk.")) But the pilot does not include a way to enforce the insurance clause. It's also not clear how much in fines the state will lose. Any anyone is eligible -- regardless of income. If the program works -- the Governor hopes to expand it to all counties.

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Officials say they're making a wildlife area in Whitingham (WHITE-in-ham) bigger. The 80-acre expansion of the Atherton Meadows Wildlife Management Area makes the total space it covers now nearly 9-hundred acres. Vermont Fish and Wildlife says this will better protect the habitat of animals like bears, beavers and deer. Animals commonly cross Route 100 that divides the land -- which officials say is what made them interested in the area.

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One of two water main breaks in Saint Albans is fixed -- but a dozen homes are still affected. Saint Albans Police say the break on Barlow Street is repaired. The Public Works Department is still working on the second break on Upper Weldon -- they expect to have it fixed by this afternoon. Both breaks happened yesterday. There's still a boil water order in effect. A water sample was sent to the State Health Lab this morning to check for ecoli and other bacteria. If it passes the boil water order will be rescinded.

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Get your beads out -- Burlington's annual Mardi Gras celebration turns 20. It's this Saturday in downtown Burlington. You can have some winter fun outside in City Hall Park and along Church Street. New to the event this year is a Winter Bazaar -- with food, performances and activities. The Grand Parade starts at 3 o'clock on Main Street. Mardi Gras of Burlington is sponsored by Magic Hat. All funds go to Vermont Foodbank.


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Last Update: Wed 25-FEB-2015
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