Vt. and Region Briefs


Couple ensures 287 acres of Guilford preserved

GUILFORD (AP) -- A Vermont couple is helping ensure 287 acres of forestland in the town of Guilford will be protected from development by donating the conservation easement for the property to the Vermont Land Trust.

Joan and George Weir donated the conservation easement for the property to the Vermont Land Trust in order to protect the property in perpetuity.

Joan Weir is Vermont Land Trust’s regional director for southeastern Vermont. She and her husband live in Williamsville, but own the land in Guilford.

Still, she tells the Brattleboro Reformer she and her husband "pondered, this, like many landowners do," before making the donation.

"I think the both of us were really struck by the location of where this property is," she said. "It’s really in this little valley that kind of remains secluded and remote. It’s not an area that’s been developed."

Her husband said: "Some places deserve to remain the same."

The Weirs still own the land, but the conservation easement means they and any future owners cannot develop the property.

The Weirs describe the land as "a large working forest, managed for long rotations of hardwood timber."

Vermont Land Trust administrators say forests support local loggers and mills while also providing wildlife habitat and preserving scenic vistas.

Senators push raising Mass., fed minimum wage

BOSTON (AP) -- Democratic U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Dick Durbin of Illinois stopped by a burrito chain restaurant in Boston on Monday to advocate for an increase in the state and federal minimum wage.

"No one who works full-time should live in poverty," Warren said at a Boloco restaurant.

A bill to raise the minimum wage in Massachusetts to $11 an hour by January 2016 passed the Senate in November and was sent to the House, which has not yet taken action. A separate initiative being pushed by a labor-backed group would put a question on the November ballot that would raise the minimum wage from $8 an hour to $10.50 an hour over two years. Both would automatically link future increases to the state’s rate of inflation.

The minimum wage in Massachusetts has not increased in five years.

Warren and Durbin were joined by John Pepper, a founder of Boloco. The restaurant pays workers a minimum of $9 an hour -- a dollar more than state law requires. Pepper said he rewards workers by paying them a more dignified wage.

Emmanuel Sebit, 21, earns the state minimum wage at Boston Logan International Airport, where he handles luggage. He said he immigrated to the U.S. from South Sudan last year to become a lawyer but has struggled to get by.

"Raising the minimum wage can help my life; it can change my life," he said.

Durbin and Warren also are trying to build support for raising the national minimum wage. President Barack Obama has asked Congress to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour.

Critics say a big increase in the minimum wage would burden Massachusetts businesses and could cause the state unemployment rate to rise.

"It will make employers and job creators uncompetitive," Republican state Sen. Bruce Tarr said. "This is a multistep issue that involves much more than raising the minimum wage."


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