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Vermont News Updates For Monday, June 8

Artists paint "Black Lives Matter" mural on Burlington building
Abagael Giles
VPR File
On June 4, Patrick Man (left) and Audrey Mertes of the University of Vermont Art Club assisted designer Jamie Bedard in painting a mural facilitated by Arts So Wonderful on a wall destined for demolition on Burlington's South Union Street.

Vermont reporters provide a round-up of ongoing local coverage of coronavirus, protests against systematic racism and more for Monday, June 8.

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The latest coronavirus data:


Vermont Department of Health reports 12 new cases of COVID-19

The Vermont Department of Health on Monday reported a dozen new cases of COVID-19. The cases are in Chittenden, Orleans and Windham counties.

So far, 1,079 cases have been reported and 895 people have recovered.

Nearly 43,000 people have been tested for the disease in Vermont. One person is currently hospitalized, and 55 people have died.

Read the full story.

- Amy Kolb Noyes

Burlington Mayor says CityPlace development could change

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said it's possible a massive downtown development might change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brookfield Properties, the developers of CityPlace Burlington, have said they're still committed to the project.

The redevelopment is set to include apartments, a hotel and retail and office space.

Weinberger said he doesn't expect the need for housing to change, but said Brookfield may have to rethink other aspects of the project.

"Whether other elements of the project might have to change as a result of this incredible financial turmoil? It's possible," he said.

The site of the redevelopment has sat empty in hte middle of Burlington's downtown for two years. Before the pandemic, construction was slated to begin this summer.

- Liam Elder-Connors

Burlington International Airport seeks $1.68 million for noise monitoring

Burlington International Airport is asking for federal money for a noise monitoring program for communities in the flight path of the F-23 fighter jets.

The requested $1.68 million would pay for 20 noise monitors in Burlington, South Burlington and Winooski.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said if the airport doesn't get the grant, there is another option.

"If this grant is not successful, we have asked the Vermont National Guard to design, implement an operated noise monitoring system on its own that would be funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, or the Vermont National Guard," Weinberger said.

The F-35s came to the Vermont National Guard base in September, after years of constroversy largely focused on noise concerns.

- Liam Elder-Connors

Some sports leagues allowed to resume play this month

Some recreation sports leagues will be allowed to resume playing this month, as long as teams follow COVID-19 mitigation measures.

Gov. Phil Scott's administration was expected to issue guidelines Monday for low-contact sports, like soccer and baseball.

Scott said that teams will have to adhere to the state's 25-person limit on gatherings.

"This includes players, coaches and officials," Scott said. "Crowd sizes should be kept as small as possible and can't exceed 25 either."

Teams can have scrimmages among their members starting June 15 and begnning July 1, games between teams in the same league will be allowed.

- Liam Elder-Connors

State officials eye new plan to house homeless Vermonters

State officials said they hope to unveil a new plan for sheltering Vermont's homeless population during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 1,000 people experiencing homelessness have been sheltered at motels since the pandemic began.

Secretary of Human Services Mike Smith said continuing to house people at motels is not sustainable.

"We have a plan that we hope to roll out this week on reducing the number of people in the hotel-motel system, relying both on other opportunities as well as local partnerships as we move forward," Smith said.

He declined to share specifics.

The governor has also asked the Legislature to use $50 million to help with homelessness issues in Vermont.

- Liam Elder-Connors

Rutland City Police Commission to discuss a fair and impartial policing committee

Members of Rutland City's police commission discussed a fair and impartial policing committee on Monday night.

Such a committee has been recommended by some to help guide police on matters of racism, nonviolent communication and tactics.

Lisa Ryan, the only African American on the city's Board of Alderman said she looks forward to working with Police Chief Brian Kilcullen to establish one.

"Because it's necessary. We've seen systemic racism in Rutland City Police Department," Ryan said. "Over the last ten years, we've made great strides, and that's to do with the leadership there now, good strides... but there's more work to be done."

Kilcullen said he welcomes the idea.

- Nina Keck

Winooski outbreak now associated with 62 confirmed cases of COVID-19

An outbreak in Winooski is associated with 62 cases of COVID-19.

The majority of the cases are in that city, but there are also related infections in Burlington and other Chittenden County communities.

State Epidemiologist Patsy Kelso said the health department has identified shared activities between individuals that contributed to the spread of the disease.

"We think there has been transmission in households as well," Kelso said. "...We think this is a pretty well-contained situation, or outbreak, and while the case numbers may go up because there may have been exposures in the recent days even, we don't think this is something we'll see pop up all over the state."

The health department is offering testing in Winooski and Burlington all week.

"It's become apparent that many did not even know they were infected," Commissioner Mark Levine said. "In fact, only one in five that we've interviewed so far report that they've had symptoms."

Read the full story.

- Liam Elder-Connors

Vermont man due to be arraigned Monday for fatal shooting in Swanton

A Vermont man was due to be arraigned Monday following a fatal shooting in Swanton.

State police said 22-year-old James MulHolland of Swanton was held without bail on a first-degree murder charge over the weekend.

Investigators said the victim, 32-year-old Kyle LaBelle, was shot in the stomach and chest on Friday and died at the University of Vermont Medical Center. Investigators said the two men knew each other, and the shooting followed an argument in which multiple shots were fired.

- The Associated Press

Hundreds gather in Rutland to protest the death of George Floyd

Hundreds gathered in Rutland Sunday to protest the death of George Floyd. It was one of several such protests across Vermont this weekend.

Christophre Woods lives in Rutland. He's African American and said the conversations about improving diversity can feel exhausting.

But when asked why he came to Sunday's protest, he pointed to a sign he was carrying.

"The answer is really kind of simple, and I wrote it here," he said. "Driving, walking, shopping, working while black should not be an activity punishable by death."

Organizers said they worked closely with the Rutland City police on the event. While there had been concern about groups that might disrupt the event, no problems were reported.

Read the full story.

- Nina Keck

Police chief and protesters holding signs
Credit Chris Booth / VIBE
Protesters stand next to Rutland City Police Chief Brian Kilcullen at a demonstration that drew hundreds downtown on June 7.

Visitors from 55 rural counties outside Vermont can visit without quarantine

Starting Monday, visitors from 55 rural counties outside Vermont will be able to visit without having to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Visitors from places like Boston and New York City are not covered by the relaxed guidelines, and Commerce Secretary Lindsay Kurrle said it will be hard to fully regulate the new rules.

"Opening up the counties around our state and inviting folks here is going to require a little bit of trust and a lot of education and some efforton the part of the lodging industry," Kurrle said.

Kurrle said visitors will have to make reservations and verify where they are coming from.

Read the full story.

- Howard Weiss-Tisman

Agency of Natural Resources urges campers not to travel with firewood

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources is reminding residents to help slow the spread of the emerald ash borer, an insect that kills ash trees.

The invasive pest has been found in numerous Vermont towns and is expected to spread. The agency said June through the end of September is the insect's flight season, when the adult beetles emerge from infected ash trees and ash wood products to seek out new host trees.

The emerald ash borer has often been unintentionally moved into areas that were not infested by vehicles carrying firewood. The agency advises leaving firewood at home when camping and buying it near the campsite instead.

- The Associated Press

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