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Rutland City School Board Votes To Replace 'Raider' Mascot

The exterior of Rutland High School
Nina Keck
VPR File
The Rutland City School Board voted 6-4 Tuesday to replace the high school's Raider mascot after a group advocated that the name and arrowhead symbol were racist.

Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about the coronavirus, Rutland City School Board voting to replace its mascot and more for Wednesday, Oct. 21.

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The latest coronavirus data:


1. 16 new cases of COVID-19

The Vermont Department of Health reported 16 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday in Bennington, Chittenden, Orleans, Washington, Windham and Windsor counties, bringing the total people who have tested positive to 1,971.

Another 969 people tested negative for the coronavirus, and 180,694 people have been tested to date.

One person is hospitalized with the disease. Three others are in the hospital and under investigation for links to COVID.

Northern Vermont University reports first COVID case

Northern Vermont University has recorded its first COVID-19 case.

WCAX reportsthat university president Elaine Collins alerted students, faculty and staff Wednesday. The case involves a commuter student on the Lyndon campus who is now in isolation.

The school says it has administered more than 3,800 COVID tests. It’s urging students to avoid travel during a two-day break next week. 

- Matthew Smith, Steve Zind and Elodie Reed

2. Rutland City School Board votes to replace mascot

The Rutland City School Board voted Tuesday in a special meeting to stop using the Raider name and imagery long associated with Rutland High School.

This summer, the board was approached by a group who felt the name and arrowhead symbol were racist, and the issue has stirred up a lot of controversy.

Board member Hurley Cavacas felt more public input was needed, and he urged the board to keep the raider name.

But Joanne Pencak disagreed.

“Some people will shake their heads and say, ‘Oh, come on. You know, a raider could be anything.’ But it wasn't just anything. It wasn't… and we have to acknowledge that. We shouldn't judge people in different times by our – today's standards. But if I'm going to judge us by today's standards, I think that it's time to get a new mascot."

The board voted 6-4 to change the name. School administrators will now work with students to come up with a new, more inclusive mascot to present to the board by Feb. 9.

- Nina Keck

3. Perdue Pharma pleads guilty, pays more than $8 billion in opioid scheme settlement

Perdue Pharma has agreed to plead guilty to three felony charges and pay more than $8 billion to settle federal criminal and civil investigations into its role in the opioid crisis.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Vermont uncovered a scheme where Perdue paid Practice Fusion, an electronic health records company, to recommend opioid products to doctors that used their software.

From July 2016 through April 2019, the software sent alerts to doctors that encouraged them to prescribe extended-release opioids, like OxyContin.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont Christina Nolan says the practice ended when her office raised concerns about it.

“But unfortunately, that was not until after the alerts fired more than 230 million times,” Nolan said.

Practice Fusion agreed to pay $145 million to settle criminal charges related to the scheme early this year.

- Liam Elder-Connors

4. Leahy continues to criticize GOP senators over COVID relief bill

Sen. Patrick Leahy is blasting Senate Republican leaders for failing to support legislation to provide significant economic relief for individuals and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leahy made the comments on the Senate floor while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House negotiate over a roughly $2 billion plan.

Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell is urging the White House to support a much smaller package, but Leahy says it falls far short of what's needed.

“So it's a national disaster, and it requires real solutions,” Leahy said. “We need a comprehensive bill to address this problem. We can't do it with fig leaves, and do it piecemeal, as Sen. McConnell wants to do."  

Leahy is urging the Republicans to hold a vote on the more comprehensive plan by the end of next week.

- Bob Kinzel

5. "Everyone Eats" food assistance program now in all 14 counties

Vermont’s newest food assistance program is now operating in each of the state’s 14 counties.

The program got off the ground last month thanks to $5 million in federal coronavirus relief funds. It helps support participating local restaurants by paying for meals for those who need assistance.

Jean Hamilton is statewide coordinator for Everyone Eats:

“And basically what it does is, it pays restaurants $10 a meal to help feed Vermonters who are experiencing food insecurity,” Hamilton said.

The program has since expanded to more than 100 meal distribution sites across Vermont. Hamilton says the program will run through December, and provide a total of 400,000 meals to food-insecure Vermonters.

- Peter Hirschfeld

More from VPR: State Hopes Brattleboro Food Program Can Help Restaurants Across Vermont

6. Southern Vermont broadband communications district proposes $12M plan

A new municipally-owned broadband effort is moving ahead with plans to bring high-speed internet service to 16 towns in southern Vermont.

The Chester Telegraph reportsthat the Deerfield Valley Communications Union District presented its business plan this month. The plan envisions concentrating first on towns that have the poorest internet service, including Halifax, Whitingham and Readsboro. Construction would begin in the fall of next year, with the first customers online by the summer of 2022.

The paper says it’s estimated it would cost $12 million to connect all the towns. The money would come from grants and loans. 

The Deerfield Valley Communications Union District is one of more than a dozen such entities formed in Vermont since 2015, when the Legislature passed a bill that enabled them to form.

- Steve Zind

7. UVM Researcher: More severe COVID cases lead to more antibodies

A group of University of Vermont professors have discovered that patients with more intense and serious symptoms from COVID-19 produced more antibodies than people with milder cases.

Sean Diehl, an associate professor at UVM's Larner College of Medicine, led the study, and said making antibodies can vary on an individual basis.

“But on the whole, this virus is very related to the original SARS virus, and that one induced long-term antibody responses,” he said. “And so I expect that this one will do that as well.”

Diehl says there hasn't yet been enough time to really see the long-term stabilization of antibody levels.

- Emily Aiken

More from VPR: Confused About Antibodies? Let Our Comic (Featuring Many Llamas) Explain

8. 90,000 people have gotten a flu shot so far this year

More than 90,000 Vermonters have already received a flu shot  – that’s well ahead of the number who were vaccinated at this time last year.

Public health officials have been urging more people to get the vaccination this year in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Michael Pieciak, Commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation, says the vaccination rates among most age groups are up.

“Among that 20- to 30-year-old category, they’re trending better than last week which is a good sign, but still down compared to 2019, so definitely it’s some more work to be done there, but an important reminder for everyone to get a flu shot this year,” he said.

The Health Department hopes that 325,000 people will get flu shots this year. Last year, around 270,000 people received the vaccination.

- Liam Elder-Connors

9. Connecticut fugitive arrested after crossing into Canada from Vermont

A fugitive wanted for questioning in the homicide of his former girlfriend was caught trying to cross into Canada in the border town of Derby Line.

Corey Ramos, 30, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, was apprehended by Canadian authorities Monday.

Vermont State Police say he's wanted in Connecticut for two violations and questioning in his former girlfriend's death on Sunday.

Ramos also has ties to Rutland, including a pending criminal case on charges of sexual assault. He's being held in Vermont without bail.

- Associated Press

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