New England briefs

Vermont board OKs construction of line for Canadian power

Vermont regulators have authorized construction of a power line to run underneath Lake Champlain and across Vermont to bring Canadian power to southern New England.

The Vermont Public Service Board said Tuesday that it approved construction of the transmission line proposed by TDI-New England.

The board said it found that the line will provide significant environmental, electrical, and economic benefits for Vermont and the region, including diversifying the state and regional fuel supply, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, creating hundreds of in-state construction jobs, producing over a billion dollars in new state and local revenues and public good benefits, and potentially lowering electricity costs.

Construction is expected to start this year, with the line in service by 2019.

Bennington organization awarded Drug Free Communities grant

A community organization in southwestern Vermont has been awarded a Drug Free Communities grant to continue its work in tackling substance abuse.

Executive Director Kiah Morris said the Alliance for Community Transformations will receive $125,000 each year for five years. The grant can be renewed for a total period of 10 years.

Morris says the group plans to use the money to create educational opportunities and partnerships aimed at preventing and reducing drug abuse in the Bennington area.

The group received a $75,000 grant from the White House and the Office of National Drug Control Policy about a year ago. Morris says that money will not be a part of the five-year cycle of $125,000 in annual funding.

New Hampshire gets $150 million behavioral health boost

Gov. Maggie Hassan says New Hampshire will get up to $150 million in federal funding over five years to strengthen the state's behavioral health system and keep health care costs in check.

The waiver from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will create a "transformation fund" that will pay networks of health care and community service providers for projects that increase the capacity of the behavioral health system, integrate mental health and substance abuse care with primary care and address rising health care costs.

Hassan says the state's strained mental health system and its substance abuse crisis both are urgent public health challenges. She says strengthening the behavioral health system is critical with thousands of residents now receiving coverage for substance abuse problems under the state's expanded Medicaid program.

Derailment snarls commuter trains north of Boston

Service has been restored on the Haverhill commuter rail line after cancellations and delays from an early-morning derailment that may have been caused by the cold weather.

A spokesman for Keolis, which operates the MBTA's commuter rail system, said the five-car train was carrying no passengers when it derailed on tracks in Andover at about 4 a.m. Tuesday. The conductor and engineer were not hurt.

State Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack says it appears frigid temperatures caused track problems that led to the derailment, which also caused disruptions for several other commuter rail branches and Amtrak's Downeaster service.

Keolis spokesman Mac Daniels says investigators are looking at weather as a factor in the incident, but no final conclusions have been reached.

It was mid-afternoon before service was fully restored.

– The Associated Press


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