Vermont lawmakers invited to budget preview

Vermont lawmakers are being invited to a special meeting to review the state's tough budget situation.

House and Senate members are to convene Tuesday in the House chamber to hear from a consulting economist about revenue projections.

They're also to hear from senior officials in the administration of Gov. Peter Shumlin about what budget pressures to expect when they formally reconvene in January.

Current estimates show lawmakers needing to close a $40 million budget gap for the remainder of the current fiscal year, and a shortfall in projected revenues approaching $70 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Vermont to begin using drug to combat opiate addiction

Gov. Peter Shumlin is slated to outline a new Vermont program to use the drug naltrexone to combat opiate addiction.

Vermont officials are planning to add a brand-name form of naltrexone — called Vivitrol — to their toolbox for fighting opiate addiction.

Vivitrol is a once-a-month injectable that helps patients overcome addiction to heroin and other opiates by blocking the euphoric effects of those drugs.

Vermont Human Services Secretary Hal Cohen told The Associated Press earlier this month that the drug is used with people who have been detoxed from opioids and can be effective in preventing a relapse into addiction.


Shumlin is to announce the new program on Tuesday.

Naltrexone is also used to treat alcohol dependency.

Vermont police say man charged in theft of police gear

Police say they have arrested a Vermont man in connection with two break-ins, including a police cruiser in St. Albans last week.

According to reports, 27-year-old Logan Pratt of St. Albans was arrested Friday, after police say a search of his home turned up items stolen from a police cruiser and a Swanton business.

Police say Pratt had two handguns, two sets of handcuffs, a Vermont state police ID and tactical armored vest, burglary tools and a large amount of cash. The cruiser was broken into Nov. 21in St. Albans and Moore's Quality Used Cars was burglarized Thursday.

Pratt is being held at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in Swanton on $25,000 bail.

It was not immediately known if he has a lawyer.

2 hit by Amtrak train on trestle, 1 dies of injuries

Authorities say one teen is dead and another man is in critical condition after they were hit by an Amtrak train on a 40-foot-tall railroad trestle in West Hartford, Vermont.

Both men were taken to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center after the accident, which happened just before noon on Friday.

Police say 18-year-old Nicolas Siciliano of Windsor, who was found in the White River under the trestle, died at the hospital. They say the second victim, located on the trestle, remains in critical condition. His name is not being released pending notification of family members.

No passengers on board the train were injured. Police say the train was stopped for nearly three hours while investigators tried to determine events leading up to the collision.

Keene State honored for efforts to reduce food waste

Keene State College is getting national recognition for its efforts to reduce food waste.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently honored 14 organizations in a variety of categories. Keene State won an award for the best educational and outreach campaign.

The campaign involves performing regular food audits, brining experts on the topic to campus and having a "spokesvegetable," the Carrot, which is displayed across campus with facts about preventing food waste. . Heather Greenwood, the college's sustainable material management specialist, credits student involvement and a strong partnership with the school's food service provider for the success.

"Keene State partners closely with Sodexo, our food service provider, to deliver on the college's commitment to sustainability through engaging our students - in fact, our students are critical to this recognition through their work to monitor and track our food usage and waste," Greenwood said.

The EPA estimates that 37 million tons of food waste was generated in 2013, with 35 million tons of that ending up in landfills. . Keene State previously received three regional awards as part of the EPA's Food Recovery Challenge.

Aquaculture project yields New Hampshire steelhead trout

For the next few weeks, restaurants along New Hampshire's seacoast will be serving up the results of an aquaculture project aimed at supplementing fishermen's dwindling incomes.

Researchers from the UNH Cooperative Extension and the New Hampshire Sea Grant for several years have been teaching fishermen how to grow steelhead trout, mussels and sea kelp together on floating rafts in the Piscataqua River.

Officials say growing them together benefits the environment because the mussels and kelp act as filters, and the set-up doesn't take up a lot of space. Fishermen get a chance to learn about aquaculture while earning money, and local chefs say the trout fillets have been in high demand.

"The first steelhead trout that came into my restaurant were so spectacular," said Chef Evan Mallet of the Black Trumpet restaurant in Portsmouth.

Steelhead trout are not native to the area and are most often found in the Pacific Northwest or outside the U.S. They can live in both fresh and salt water, or in an estuary like the Piscataqua.

Maine marine engineer cousins crafting custom snow skis

Two cousins in Maine — both marine engineers — have teamed up to design and manufacture recreational skis.

According to reports, 30-year-old Toby Winkler and 24-year-old Jake Bracy started by running their own skis through a table saw to see how they were constructed.

Winkler says he read an article about five years ago about a process to manufacture skis and plunged in when friends scoffed at his notion that he could do it.

Bracy and Winkler — both graduates of Maine Maritime Academy — are calling their cottage industry YOPP Clandestine Skis. YOPP is an acronym for "Ye Olde Perkins Place" — a family property in Cape Neddick where their great-grandfather built wood products. As for the "clandestine" in the name?

"When we first started building them, we were keeping quiet about it," Winkler said. "People thought it was a clandestine operation, so we made it part of the name."

Both men are avid skiers who grew up skiing at Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry. They designed and built their own ski press to join the ski layers together. The skis differ from most mainstream ones in that they have a very high-pressure laminated wood core, which is made in-house from locally sourced cabinet-grade wood.

"Most skis have lower grade wooden cores and more resin and glue, to keep costs down," Bracy said.

They work on their craft during breaks from Merchant Marine duty and hope to put their skis into commercial production sometime next year. But the skis won't be mass-produced.

"Due to our low volume, almost every ski we build is a custom ski on some level," Winkler told the newspaper. "We take into account the type of skiing, (alpine-touring, park, all-mountain), the type and size of the skier. Then we modify the ski characteristics based on that information and or the skier's wishes."

Several Wal-Mart stores evacuated after false bomb threats

Multiple Wal-Mart stores in Maine were evacuated following a series of automated bomb threats.

Police in Scarborough say they received a generic voice-automated bomb threat against one of the stores around 7:45 Saturday night. The store was evacuated until police allowed customers and staff back into the store.

Police in Biddeford and Waterville received similar threats Saturday night. No bombs were found.

A Wal-Mart spokesman tells WCSH-TV that the retailer often receives bomb threats around Black Friday — one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

Wal-Mart stores in Falmouth and Houlton were also evacuated after receiving false threats, and similar threats were reported in Skowhegan, Windham, Thomaston and Newport.

– The Associated Press