News Roundup: Vermont National Guard Troops Not Among Those Harmed In Kabul Attack
Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about continued high rates of coronavirus spread, Vermont National Guard troops remaining safe in Kabul and more for Monday, Aug. 30.
While Vermont's pandemic state of emergency has ended, the delta variant is now circulating around the state. Click here for the latest on new cases, and findthe latest vaccination data online any time.
1. Vermont officials report 71 new COVID cases Monday, 325 over the weekend
Vermont health officials reported 71 new COVID-19 infections Monday. That's after documenting 189 cases on Saturday, and 134 on Sunday.
Some 34 people are hospitalized due to the virus, 10 of whom are in the ICU.
Nearly all counties in New England, including the 14 Vermont counties, are seeing a high or substantial rate of viral spread. As a result, the CDC recommends masking in all public or indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status.
- Matthew Smith
Some Twinfield Union students in quarantine following COVID exposure
Students in grades K-6 at Twinfield Union School in Plainfield are not in school today due to COVID-19 cases found among the elementary school community.
Caledonia Central Supervisory Union Superintendent Mark Tucker says kindergarten, and grades 2 and 6, are in quarantine today due to the positive cases reported over the weekend.
Tucker says the K-12 school is following the state’s testing and quarantine recommendations, which could see those students return to class as early as next week, provided they test negative.
Grades 1, 3, 4 and 5 are expected to be back in school tomorrow.
Tucker says grades 7-12 at Twinfield Union are unaffected by the closure.
- Matthew Smith
2. Vermont National Guard troops safe from Kabul attack
Officials with the Vermont National Guard say no local troops were harmed during last week’s attack at the Kabul airport that left more than 100 dead, including 13 U.S. service members.
Guard officials last week said a "small contingent" of Vermonters is supporting security operations at the Hamid Karzai Airport.
Additionally, other units from the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team are assisting people with Special Immigration Visas to get out of the region.
The Biden administration maintains it is on track to meet an Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw all U.S. troops.
- Brittany Patterson
3. Mother still wanting to know what happened to teen decade after disappearance in Tropical Storm Irene
A decade after a Vermont teenager disappeared as the rains of Tropical Storm Irene started inundating the state, his mother is still hoping someone will be able to answer the question about what happened to him.
Marble Arvidson was 17 when he left his Brattleboro foster home on Aug. 28, 2011, just hours before the rains started. He was never seen again.
By the time he was reported missing the next day, regular communications were down and emergency responders were overwhelmed by the natural disaster.
His mother hopes someone will come forward who can help solve what is undoubtedly the most enduring mystery left a decade after Irene pummeled the state.
Brattleboro police have reopened the investigation into what happened to Arvidson earlier this year, and are getting help from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, as well as the New England State Police Intelligence Network.
The 2011 storm killed seven across the state and did hundreds of millions of dollars of damage.
- Associated Press
4. Vergennes to erect monument to state's first known Black sheriff
Vergennes is planning to erect a monument to Vermont’s first known Black sheriff and chief of police.
The city is planning to unveil and dedicate the monument to former Sheriff Stephen Bates on Oct. 3.
Bates was first elected sheriff and chief of police in Vergennes in 1879.
He had been formerly enslaved in Virginia. He gained his freedom and served Union soldiers during the Civil War. He first came to Vergennes in 1866 with Vermont U.S. Representative Frederick Woodbridge.
Bates served as sheriff of Vergennes for 25 years. He raised a family in the city before his death in 1907, and some of his descendants will be attending the event.
A local team of historians and others spent the past year researching Bates’ life and rediscovering his story.
- Associated Press
5. More than million gallons of wastewater go into Walloomsac River
More than a million gallons of wastewater was released into the Walloomsac River from a Bennington water treatment plant, after heavy rains fell on the area last week.
The Banner says the overflow happened Wednesday, and that E. coli levels registered at 2,400 parts per 100 milliliters.
The prior weeks’ reading was just 11.
Bennington Town Manager Stuart Hurd told the paper that no investigations or fines had been brought against the town following the spill.
- Howard Weiss-Tisman
6. Budget Commissioner says consumer economy making strong comeback from COVID
There's more evidence that Vermont's consumer economy is making a strong comeback from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The latest revenue report shows that receipts for the meals and rooms tax were up just over 50% in July. The sales tax increased roughly 14%, and the tax on cars and trucks also rose by almost 14%.
Budget Commissioner Adam Greshin says the various federal stimulus packages have encouraged consumer spending.
"That has led to more, for example, dining, more retail, just more normal economic activity that you see in the summer,” he said. “Tourism is back, the hospitality industry has responded."
Greshin says he is concerned that some tourist related businesses are still having a difficult time recovering from the pandemic.
- Bob Kinzel
7. Varying school masking requirements upsetting some school communities
Many Vermont students are back in the classroom now, but masking requirements vary district to district.
That's upset some parents, teachers and other community members, who argue the Scott administration should implement a statewide mask mandate for schools.
Aimee Alexander is a high school government teacher in Newport.
"I don't think it should be left up to local control,” Alexander said. “Because we have some districts that have really high vaccination rates and others that don't. It's just not fair to all students. It's not equitable."
Gov. Phil Scott says a statewide mask mandate would require an emergency order, which he does not want to put back in place.
- Henry Epp
8. Vermont AG calling for former Koffee Kup employees to get paid for accrued PTO
Vermont's attorney general is calling for former Koffee Kup employees to be compensated for their accrued paid time off.
Koffee Kup's creditors filed for involuntary bankruptcy earlier this month. The bakery, which had two locations in Vermont, and one in Connecticut, closed abruptly this spring and laid off hundreds of workers.
Now, the bankruptcy proceedings are stalling the payment of paid time off to former employees.
But in a brief filed Friday, Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan argues that the paid time off should not be considered part of the bankruptcy case, and should instead be paid to former Koffee Kup employees immediately.
A state court order last month compelled the payment of those funds.
- Anna Van Dine
9. Drought conditions improving in Vermont
Drought conditions continue to improve in Vermont, though the northern areas of the state are still experiencing problems.
The entire southern half of Vermont is not experiencing any abnormal dryness or drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Northern sections of Franklin, Orleans, Essex, Caledonia and Lamoille counties remain in moderate drought conditions. And much of Chittenden and Washington counties are abnormally dry.
But rain across the state in recent weeks has made things better. On Memorial Day, more than 83% of Vermont was experiencing moderate drought. That’s down to 48% in the most recent report.
- Anna Van Dine
10. Burlington mayor wants to fire city aviation director
The mayor of Burlington wants to fire the city's aviation director, who's accused of yelling and cursing at airport employees and of repeatedly filling his private vehicle with airport gas.
Mayor Miro Weinberger announced Friday that he initiated the termination process for Aviation Director Gene Richards.
The decision comes after an independent investigator found that he mistreated employees, and that Richards used the airport's gasoline facility to fuel his personal vehicle 59 times in a 6 month period.
Richards said Saturday that he deserves better after turning around the airport, which was in rough shape before he took over nine years ago.
There will be a special city council meeting on Sept. 9 to consider Richards' position with the airport.
- Associated Press
Elodie Reed compiled and edited this post.