New England news in brief

EPA: Warmer weather means ozone alerts are possible

BOSTON >> Warmer weather is arriving in New England and federal regulators are urging residents to be mindful of the increased risk of ground-level ozone.

Curt Spalding, regional Environmental Protection Agency administrator, says air pollution is a significant public health issue, and that residents should pay attention to alerts.

Last October, the EPA lowered the ozone standard slightly, creating a more stringent standard. Air quality alerts are issued when the level is exceeded.

The number of alerts has been declining. Based on the new standard, New England had 118 unhealthy days in 1983, compared with 38 last year.

Vermont police say man pointed a gun at another driver

BURLINGTON >> Vermont police have arrested a Burlington man they say threatened and aimed a firearm at another driver at a downtown intersection.

Authorities say 40-year-old Torrey Allard is charged with reckless endangerment, aggravated disorderly conduct and simple assault. Police say he pointed a gun at 55-year-old Scott Hatin, of Burlington, just before 11 p.m. Saturday. They say Hatin left his vehicle to confront Allard about items he'd thrown at Hatin's car.

Police say the confrontation evolved from a verbal altercation between the two men about a driving incident.

Allard left the scene but police found him at a gas station, where they arrested him and seized a Colt Commander BB gun from his car.

He is being held on $1,000 bail. It was not immediately known if he has a lawyer.

Vermont to get $3 million from federal housing legislation

BURLINGTON >> Low-income Vermonters who are having a hard time finding a place to live will be getting a boost thanks to a $3 million grant from the National Housing Trust Fund.

The Vermont money is part of a $174 million package being distributed nationally to build, preserve, and rehabilitate affordable rental housing.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders included in the legislation a requirement that small states like Vermont get a minimum of $3 million.

The Vermont money will be used to acquire, build or preserve affordable rental housing for extremely low-income households. The decisions on how it will be spent will be made by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.

More than $580K in grants awarded to trails projects

MONTPELIER >> The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation says more than $580,000 in grants has been awarded to 15 significant recreational trail projects around the state.

The grants are from state and federal funds through the Recreation Trails Program and will be used to maintain and build public trails.

Among the grant recipients this year are the Waterbury Area Trails Alliance for the Perry Hill Campfire mountain bike/pedestrian trail improvement project; the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers for statewide snowmobile trail system grooming; and the town of Bennington for a new universally accessible/pedestrian 700-foot boardwalk. Grants will also go to the Wheeler Mountain pedestrian trail relocation project in Sutton and for the construction of a 3-mile pedestrian/mountain biking trail network in Rochester.

Piping plovers make appearance on Maine beaches

KENNEBUNKPORT, MAINE >> The first piping plovers of the season are nesting in Maine.

The Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and Maine Audubon say the first nests were found in the towns of Kennebunkport, Kennebunk and Old Orchard Beach.

Piping plovers are protected as endangered in Maine and as threatened under federal law. Pets must be leashed on beaches with plovers.

Last year, more than 120 plover chicks took flight from Maine beaches.

Mark McCollough of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says there were only 15 breeding pairs when they came under federal protection in 1986. He says the future now looks much brighter, with more than 60 pairs, thanks to support from coastal communities.

– The Associated Press


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