May 12, 2003 – News at a glance

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Interview: ANR permits
Steve Delaney talks with Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Elizabeth McLain, about an internal memo stating that environmental permits are sometimes decided based on political priorities. (Listen to the interview online.) (VPR)

Rutland honors military families
About 40 family members of troops serving overseas were honored on Saturday as part of a “Pride of Rutland County” event. The day featured a reception acknowledging the sacrifice that families are making in having loved ones overseas. (VPR)

Legislative agenda
The hopes of some Vermont lawmakers that their work might be finished for the year this week appear to be dashed. Legislators still have to tackle the Act 60 school funding law and environmental permit reform. They also must pass a budget. The Vermont Senate on Monday is expected to debate big changes to the way the state pays for public schools. The bill calls for less property tax relief than the version passed by the House. The Senate Finance Committee version would pay about half as much as the House toward reducing property taxes. (AP)

Leahy speaks at Norwich commencement
Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy says the United States’ unprecedented military strength provides the country with some tantalizing options. But in addressing Norwich University graduates Sunday, Leahy also said that great power comes with responsibilities. (AP)

Teens compete in birding event
A group of teenagers from Vermont and New Hampshire is headed back home Monday after a 24-hour bird-watching contest. The Twin State Tanagers and the Vermont Redstarts took part in the weekend competition sponsored by the New Jersey Audubon Society. (AP)

Tree Society birthday
Some might call them tree-huggers, but members of the Vermont Tree Society say they can’t help but love big trees. The group and its web site started two years to celebrate and inventory the state’s largest trees. (AP)

Graduation business boost
Businesses in college towns around Vermont are gearing up for lucrative spring graduation weekends. Visitors attending commencement ceremonies help out the local economy by spending money on hotels, rental cars and on dining out in restaurants. (AP)

Dean health plan
Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean will unveil details of his health care plan this week. The Democratic presidential hopeful had been scheduled in March to announce the details of a health insurance plan but decided not to because of the war in Iraq. (AP)

Barre school budgets
Voters in both Barre city and town will be reconsidering school budget issues this week. Spaulding High School directors have carved almost $120,000 from that budget in an effort to help it pass Tuesday. (AP)

Teachers’ contracts
At least three Chittenden County school districts are hearing demands from some quarters that they reopen teachers’ contracts and seek cuts in pay and benefits. But they’re also hearing a resounding ‘no’ from teachers’ unions in every case. (AP)

Rutland sales tax
A 1% city tax on rooms, meals and entertainment in Rutland is getting mixed reviews two years after it was enacted. Police Chief Anthony Bossi says the tax – which raises about $425,000 a year – has helped his department strengthen its drug enforcement efforts. Some local business owners complain that the tax has made them less competitive. (AP)

UVM police training
University of Vermont police say they’re still working on diversity training, six months after the wrongful detention of a black student. Police were responding to a reported robbery on November 6, in which the suspect was described as a black male, when they detained a black female student. (AP)

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