February 4, 2005 – News at a glance

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Interview: A waltz lesson
In anticipation of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra’s annual Waltz Night on Satruday evening in Burlington, Mitch Wertlieb takes a dance lesson from Maggie Hayes, the former director of the Dance Program at the University of Vermont. (VPR)

Legislature debates local option taxes
The head of the House Ways and Means Committee is taking a cautious approach to a plan that would give all towns in Vermont the authority to levy local option taxes. Rockingham Representative Michael Obuchowski doesn’t support this blanket approach. He says cases should be reviewed by lawmakers. (VPR)

Brattleboro Retreat offers to take State Hospital patients
The Brattleboro Retreat, a non-profit psychiatric facility, has offered to treat some of the patients now housed at the Vermont State Hospital. Earlier this week, the Waterbury hospital lost its federal certification and its federal funding after two patients escaped. In response, Governor Jim Douglas wants to close the hospital and move most of the patients within a year. Retreat officials say they’re ready to meet the need. (VPR)

Vermont Teddy Bear sells out of controversial bear
The Vermont Teddy Bear company has sold out of its controversial “Crazy for You” bear and says it won’t manufacture more. The straight-jacketed teddy bear was widely criticized as being offensive to the mentally ill. (VPR)

FAHC executives charged
Two more former executives of Vermont’s largest hospital have been charged with misleading state regulators about the true cost of Fletcher Allen’s expansion project. Former chief financial officer David Cox and former senior vice president David Demers have been charged in federal court with conspiring to lie to health care regulators. (AP)

Vermont State Hospital plan
The Douglas administration is expected to unveil a plan on Friday to replace the troubled Vermont State Hospital. The plan includes a 28-bed facility at an academic medical center and a series of short-term-stay programs at community hospitals. (AP)

Judicial retention hearings
A legislative committee spent several hours last night listening to people praise and criticize justices of the Supreme Court. The committee will recommend to the full House and Senate next month whether four justices should get new six year terms on the state’s highest court. (AP)

NH governor’s office
Governor John Lynch is looking to set up an extension of his office in the North Country. A spokeswoman says Lynch is the first governor to set up such an office in the North Country. He has named a bipartisan committee of North Country residents to recommend candidates for the North Country Governor’s Office representative. (AP)

Immigration tip line
The number of calls to a nationwide tip line for violations of immigration and customs laws that are answered in Williston has grown dramatically. The Law Enforcement Support Center in Williston has begun using a 50-second recording at the beginning of each call that tells people the purpose of the line. (AP)

Apartment fire kills two in Berlin
Fire investigators are still trying to determine what caused a fire that killed two people in a Berlin apartment building on Thursday. Relatives identified the victims as 25-year-old Derek Williams and 21-year-old Jessica Doucette. (AP)

Jeffords tours Enosburg fire damage
Senator Jim Jeffords will visit Enosburg Falls on Saturday to survey the extensive damage caused by Wednesday morning’s fire. Jeffords’ family owned and operated the Jeffords Drug Store on historic Main Street for many generations before the business was sold in the 1960s. The building was destroyed in the fire. Many of Jeffords’ family members still reside in the area. (AP)

Falwell to attend Vermont Marine’s funeral
The Reverend Jerry Falwell plans to lead funeral services today in Orleans for Sergeant Jesse Strong, the young Marine from Albany killed in Iraq last week. Falwell, a nationally recognized Christian minister and a television evangelist, is chancellor of Liberty University, where Strong was active in campus ministry before he graduated. (AP)

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