Vermont says mild winter could be boon for trout anglers

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife says the mild winter and early spring could be a boon for an early trout season.

The 2016 trout season opens April 9.

State fisheries director Eric Palmer says the snow is either already gone or disappearing from riverbanks, so anglers should have good access to rivers and streams throughout the state.

He says water temperatures may warm up enough to get the trout moving and feeding early this year.

The department says nearly 20,000 large, "trophy" trout will be stocked throughout the state this year and anglers will be able to fish more than 18 miles of rivers and 25 lakes and ponds that are designated as trophy water.

House panels set marijuana hearing for March 31

A legislative proposal to legalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana will be the topic at a Statehouse hearing later this month.

The House Judiciary and Government Operations committees will take testimony on Senate Bill 241 from 5 to 7 p.m. March 31 in the House chamber.

A big crowd is expected, and the committees are limiting each speaker to two minutes.

The Senate last month passed a bill calling for legalizing possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by people 21 or older in Vermont. Gov. Peter Shumlin has said he supports the measure.


Vermont state cops launch new website for unsolved killings

Vermont State Police detectives have launched a new website that lists the state's unsolved killings and missing persons cases in hopes that additional public attention can help solve the mysteries.

The website includes 55 unsolved homicides and 35 long-term, ongoing missing persons cases.

The site includes a map of Vermont with the names of the victims and information about each case.

Criminal Division Commander Glenn Hall says it's hoped that the "Interactive Vermont Missing Persons and Unsolved Homicides" pages will "generate conversation, awareness and potentially new information to assist investigators."

The launch of the site coincided with the 12th anniversary of the disappearance from Montgomery of 17-year-old Brianna Maitland, who has not been seen since she left work on March 19, 2004.

Rhode Island lawmakers to consider GMO labeling

Rhode Island lawmakers are debating whether to require food companies to label products that contain genetically modified ingredients.

The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services is set to hold a hearing on the legislation Tuesday.

The bill would require GMO labeling if four other states adopt similar laws.

Sen. Donna Nesselbush, a Pawtucket Democrat, introduced the bill.

Her bill would affect all raw and packaged food products with genetically engineered ingredients.

Vermont is set to become the first state in the country to require GMO labeling in July.

General Mills said Friday it will start nationwide labeling of products that contain genetically modified ingredients to comply with the Vermont law.

Maine and Connecticut have passed laws that require such labeling if other nearby states put one into effect.

Test results on chemical in drinking water to be discussed

Public meetings have been scheduled in the New Hampshire towns of Merrimack and Litchfield to discuss the results of recent tests related to the presence of a contaminant in drinking water at the Saint-Gobain facility in Merrimack.

The tests were conducted after Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics found the presence of the chemical PFOA in its drinking water.

The meetings are scheduled Wednesday at the Mastricola Elementary School in Merrimack and Thursday at the Litchfield Middle School. Both are at 7 p.m.

Last week, the governors of New Hampshire, New York and Vermont urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to review and issue new safe drinking water guidelines regarding the detection of PFOA in water systems and in private wells.

PFOA is part of a family of chemicals used to make nonstick cookware and stain-resistant carpeting.

Last month, Honeywell International and Saint-Gobain were sued in New York. Regulators identified them as potentially responsible for chemical contamination in Hoosick Falls' water.

Saint-Gobain last owned the now-closed ChemFab plant in southwestern Vermont. It's been providing bottled water to residents since PFOA was found in North Bennington.

– The Associated Press