January 27, 2003 – News at a glance

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Current use tax debate
Governor Jim Douglas wants to give farmers a break on their property taxes. But key lawmakers say they want to make sure the tax break doesn’t go to wealthy landowners that don’t need it. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Douglas nominations
Committees of the Vermont Senate are preparing to consider whether to confirm the key appointments of Governor James Douglas. Senate leader Peter Welch says he has instructed committees to move as quickly as possible on the nominations. (AP)

Vallee fights development
A key Republican Party strategist is fighting a housing development proposed for the land next to his home, saying that among other things it would encroach on wetlands and wildlife corridors. (AP)

McShane steps down
A Rutland Catholic priest facing sexual abuse accusations is stepping down. The Reverend James McShane announced his departure as leader of Immaculate Heart of Mary in a letter read to parishioners over the weekend. McShane’s departure comes amid a lawsuit that is requiring the state’s Catholic diocese to divulge more than 50 years of files on all clergy misconduct. (AP)

Genetically engineered foods
Activists against the genetic engineering of crops are supporting a Town Meeting Day resolution again this year. The drive is led by several groups around Vermont – including the Institute for Social Ecology in Plainfield. The communities will be asked to declare support for legislation that would hold commercial genetic engineering developers liable for damage from their crops. (AP)

Electricity supply lines
A company that ensures that electrical power is supplied throughout Vermont is warning that the system is deteriorating. Vermont Electric Power Company says transmission lines in the northwestern part of the state no longer are reliable. VELCO is working on a report that’s due out by the end of the month that will recommend how to correct those problems. (AP)

Randolph rest areas
The man in charge of Vermont’s tourist information centers says the Randolph rest areas will not close. State officials said in August that those rest areas and others in Sharon might be closed to save money. Ed von Turkovich, the director of Vermont’s information center division, says the rest areas are in the budget for next year. (AP)

Jeffords publishes new book
Another book by U.S. Senator James Jeffords is about to hit the stores. Jeffords left the Republican Party in 2001, handing control of the Senate to the Democrats. That year, he wrote his first book, “My Declaration of Independence.” The second book is coming out in mid-February, “An Independent Man: Adventures of a Public Servant.” (AP)

Armored car robbery unsolved
Law enforcement officials still are trying to solve a $2 million heist in Rutland, a year after it was committed. The Berkshire Armored Car Services office in Rutland was robbed on January 31 a year ago. It turned out to be the largest robbery in the history of the state. (AP)

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