New England Snapshot

Via WBUR, courtesy Cambridge Police Department

This story produced by WBUR. 

Earlier this month, Somerville Police Officers Alan Monaco and Timothy Sullivan responded to a call about a fight between two young men. They found one of them, Mike, in an agitated state.

Charlotte Albright for VPR

Every three, four, and five-year-old  in Vermont will be eligible for state-subsidized preschool, under new legislation  that Governor Shumlin has promised to sign into law. Many school districts already offer early education programs, but they vary widely in structure and quality. So a lot of details have to be worked out as the state sews together what is now a patchwork of programs.  

The owner of Santa’s land in Putney and the park’s caretaker appeared in Brattleboro District Court Tuesday. Lillian Billewicz  and Brian Deistler pled not guilty to charges of animal cruelty. Earlier this winter 16 fallow deer, a pot-bellied pig and a pheasant were found dead at the once-popular theme park.  Court documents say other animals were found in stalls with frozen water and insufficient hay. Now the park’s remaining animals are getting attention from some local residents who’ve been trying to feed them.

Connecticut lawmakers are considering a ban of waste from “fracking,” the controversial method of obtaining natural gas cheaply. This comes less than a year after the state approved a major expansion of its natural gas infrastructure to capitalize on production in nearby states. Now, some are wondering whether Connecticut can avoid the environmental risks of the fracking boom.

You can read or listen to Patrick Skahill's report on WNPR's website.

Right now, in Rhode Island you pretty much have to go to a liquor store to stock up on beer for a dinner party. A few bills under consideration in the General Assembly aim to change that. If passed, the bills would give farmers, who grow crops for beer production, special licenses to sell their craft beers at their farms and at farmer’s markets. These bills are pitting local farmers against the local liquor industry.

Maine Highway Signs Bill Draws Wide Opposition

Apr 2, 2014

Lawmakers in Maine are joining business owners and local officials in speaking out against a bill they say will hurt tourism in towns across the state.

The measure would remove nearly a third of the signs on Maine highways that direct motorists to secondary locations.

Officials with the Maine Department of Transportation and the Maine Turnpike Authority, which support the bill, say the law needs to be changed for Maine's interstates to comply with federal highway sign standards.

In the past few years, many states, including Vermont, have embarked on hundreds of road and bridge construction projects and most of the projects were paid for with a large amount of federal funds.

But there’s a problem: the Federal Highway Trust Fund is running out of money.

Read or listen to Bob Kinzel's report on VPR's website.

Sledding With Vermont's Mushers

Mar 12, 2014

Among the people following the recent Iditarod sled dog race closely were the members of the Vermont Mushers Association — people who run sled dogs in the Green Mountain state.

Read or listen to Sage Van Wing's report on Vermont Public Radio's website.

Security Plans For Boston Marathon Detailed

Mar 12, 2014

A year after tragedy rocked one of the signature events of Boston, there will be thousands of people working on security for this year's race.

Read or listen to Deborah Becker's report at WBUR's website.

The ancient sport of arm-wrestling is enjoying a surge in popularity.

A record number of people from across the Northeast - most, but not all of them, bulky males - turned out over the weekend for the Maine State Arm Wrestling Championships at a sports bar in South Portland.

With nearly 150 pumped-up competitors - some of them world champions, some of them beginners - there was no shortage of adrenalin.

Vermont's Fish and Wildlife board has given preliminary approval for 285 regular season permits and 50 archery permits this year. The regular season number is a 20 percent reduction from 2013.

Read or listen to Steve Zind's report on Vermont Public Radio's website.

The fire chief of a small town in Franklin County, Massachusetts, is retiring at the end of the month.

While that might not be big, headline news, Everett Ricketts’ tenure at the Wendell Fire Department is nothing to dismiss – 57 years, 38 of them as chief.

Read or listen to Henry Epp's report on New England Public Radio's website.

New Farm Bill Boosts Hemp Cultivation In Vermont

Feb 26, 2014

Tucked away in the thousands of pages of the Farm Bill is a provision that affects the 11 states that have legalized the growing of hemp. Vermont is part of this group.

Read and listen to Bob Kinzel's report on Vermont Public Radio's website.

An exhibition of controversial images and objects associated with Uncle Tom's Cabin is on display at Bowdoin College in Brunswick - the town where Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote much of the groundbreaking mid-19th century novel. With its anti-slavery message, the book is often credited as one of the factors that helped bring about the Civil War. The novel also spawned a wealth of spinoff musical shows, stage productions and images portraying African-Americans in what could be considered a racist light.

A number of businesses in Vermont are working to attract foreign capital with the prospect of permanent US residency. The Mount Snow resort hopes to raise $52 million dollars overseas through the EB-5 visa program.

Read and listen to Susan Keese's report on Vermont Public Radio's website.

A trademark issued to a tiny business in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, for its vinegar-based health tonic is causing a firestorm of criticism. The makers of "Fire Cider" are finding themselves portrayed as corporate usurpers.

Read and hear Jeremy Goodwin's story at the New England Public Radio website.

Winter sports are capturing the attention of Olympics spectators, but climate change is making some environmentalists worry about the future of sports like skiing and snowboarding. Last week, Vermont Law School hosted a panel discussion about how climate change continues to jeopardize the winter sports industry both nationally and in New England.

Listen to Annie Russell's report at Vermont Public Radio's website.

Residents of Connecticut who have looked out on the Connecticut River this winter may have seen something a bit unexpected - a Coast Guard cutter.  A ship called the Bollard has been on the river for weeks -- dutifully breaking up ice.

Visit WNPR's website to read or hear Patrick Skahill's report.

Maine Considers A State-Run Virtual School

Feb 5, 2014

Lawmakers in Maine have been looking recently at virtual learning. For-profit charter school operators have proposed two virtual learning charters.

But a bill this year would create a state-run online school first, before allowing for-profit charters to set up shop.

Visit MPBN's website to read or hear Jay Field's report.

It came as a surprise to many people when Vermont's governor recently devoted his entire 2014 State of the State address to what he called a "full-blown heroin crisis."

While it may not fit Vermont's bucolic image, the state's addiction problem has long been acknowledged. And as the state has expanded treatment, it's also been coming to grips with one of the most difficult and emotional aspects of the issue: addicted mothers.

A new exhibit at the Springfield Museums in Massachusetts explores some of the most infamous art forgery scandals of the century. It also delves into the minds of serial forgers. Called "Intent to Deceive," the exhibit places masterpieces by Picasso and Matisse alongside examples of fakes that fooled some of the world's most revered experts.

We're kicking off a new feature on All Things Considered called New England Snapshot, where we look at issues around the region.

One issue playing out in a number of states is immigration. Here in New Hampshire, House lawmakers have approved a measure that would allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates at University System of New Hampshire schools.

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