Coverage of Vermont from New England Public Radio, NPR, and other NPR stations.

It’s the first Tuesday in March, and that means one thing in Vermont: Town Meeting Day. But this year, like so many things in our pandemic era, things are different.

Since Act 46 was passed by the Legislature in 2015, small school districts across the state have had to make difficult decisions about whether to merge rural schools. In some parts of the state, geography creates some challenging decisions about how to do so.

It Has Been Slow To Arrive, But High-Speed Rail Could Be Coming

Feb 4, 2021

In 2016, federal officials unveiled a plan for high-speed rail along the Northeast Corridor that included a 50-mile passage from Old Saybrook to the village of Kenyon, R.I.

The route went through Old Lyme and other historic small towns while bypassing New London. The plan, called NEC Future, met with heavy — almost unanimous — opposition. Hundreds turned out at meetings to oppose the plan. Sen. Richard Blumenthal seemed ready to lash himself to the tracks, calling the idea “half-baked and hare-brained” and “unworthy of any sort of taxpayer dollars.”

A driver buckles up.
Facebook / National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

A highway safety advocacy group says Vermont and New Hampshire are "dangerously behind" adoption of recommended traffic laws, and Massachusetts and Connecticut are faring only slightly better. 

One southern Vermont town has voted to sue the state over pandemic public health restrictions.

The COVID relief package that President Trump signed this weekend includes $15 billion for live music and theater venues. The news means some of the people who run bars, theaters and music halls across Vermont have a new source of hope that they will eventually be able to reopen.

Vermont reported a record 148 cases Thursday, and state officials predict there will be a 50% increase in cases over the next six weeks.

The Massachusetts Statehouse.
Wally Gobetz / Creative Commons /

The Wampanoag tribe, in its promotional material, said the planned first light casino represented “growth, progression and opportunity.” The feds alleged it represents something less savory to the tribe's chairman.

Alana Chernila, marketing and events manager at Guidos Fresh Marketplace, stands in front of a sign saying masks are required.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPM

In Massachusetts, mask-wearing is required in places where the public is allowed to gather, like retail stores — unless wearing a mask presents a medical risk to a customer.

A scene in Vermont.
famartin / Creative Commons

Updated Nov. 11 at 9:15 a.m.

As new COVID-19 cases continue to climb across the country, New England states are trying to limit the spread of the virus by travelers within the region.

The state released its COVID guidelines recently for skiing and snowboarding, and state officials have made it clear: This winter will be like none other at the resorts, and in the nearby communities that serve the mountains.

Vermont voters on Tuesday handed an overwhelming re-election victory to a Republican governor who has overseen one of the most successful COVID-19 mitigation strategies in the nation.

Vermont's biggest and wealthiest nonprofit media organizations are merging. Officials at Vermont Public Radio and Vermont PBS say the goal is to provide stronger public service programming through a combined radio, TV, digital news and entertainment network.

A pop-up testing site for the new coronavirus was set up in Manchester Wednesday. This comes after more than 40 people tested positive for COVID-19 at the local urgent care clinic earlier this week.

18 Attorneys General File Suit Over ICE Rule

Jul 13, 2020
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

A coalition of 18 attorneys general — including those representing Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island — is suing the Trump administration to block a new federal rule that bars international higher education students from studying in the United States if they are taking online-only courses this fall. 

Gov. Phil Scott on announced Wednesday that gatherings of 10 or fewer people will now be allowed in Vermont for the first time since March 21.

Citing the risks posed by the coronavirus, the Scott administration has joined with waste haulers around Vermont to press for flexibility with the state’s recycling laws.

Green Mountain Power and Vermont Gas Systems have withdrawn their requests for $12.5 million in federal small business loans after new guidance said large, well-capitalized companies should not qualify.

Laini Fondiller describes the scene in her Westfield barn as "organized mayhem." An excited goat chorus reverberates through her barn as the 30 or so Alpine and Saanen dairy goats – her “ladies” as she calls them – assemble for the morning milking.

Health Commissioner Mark Levine said Monday that the COVID-19 outbreak in Vermont could be "approaching a plateau," and that transmission of the virus in the general public has remained relatively low.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has dropped out of the running for the Democratic presidential nomination, but his decision Wednesday to remain on the ballot could force Connecticut to nevertheless hold a primary under the threat of COVID-19.

As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to rise, Gov. Phil Scott has activated the Vermont National Guard to boost health care capacity across the state.

A health care worker hands a mask to someone wanting to be tested for COVID-19 at a testing tent at Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Jesse Costa / WBUR

Updated at 10:17 p.m.

More than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed by testing, Massachusetts officials said Saturday in their daily update on the new coronavirus — the largest single-day increase yet.

The state also said the number of deaths attributable to the disease climbed by nine, adding up to 44. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention activated its emergency operations center to assist public health partners in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.
James Gathany / CDC

Updated at 10:10 p.m.

Officials in New England have identified the deaths of seven people testing positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Four deaths have taken place in Connecticut — including one announced Fridaytwo in Vermont, and now one in Massachusetts.

The total number of people testing positive for the disease has grown to more than 800 across New England. 

Two Vermonters who tested positive for COVID-19 have died. Gov. Phil Scott and Health Commissioner Mark Levine announced the first coronavirus-related deaths in the state at a hastily arranged press conference Thursday night.

Reported cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts as of March 17, 2020.
Chris Lisinski / State House News Service / Massachusetts DPH

Updated at 5:27 p.m.

Reported cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts increased on Tuesday to 218, up from 197 a day earlier.

Updated 10:30 p.m.

Hours after Gov. Phil Scott ordered the dismissal of all Vermont schools by Wednesday to slow the spread of coronavirus, the Champlain Valley School District announced it was closing Shelburne Community School Monday and Tuesday after being notified of a community member with connections to the school who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Town Meeting voters in Proctor will weigh in Monday night on a controversial land sale. A Florida man is offering $1.5 million for 1,650 acres of town land that’s surrounded by national forest.

Hunters, snowmobilers, skiers and hikers worry the deal will threaten the access they’ve had for years. But Proctor officials say the deal could help pay down the cost of the town’s new water system.

William Weld in the Massachsuetts Statehouse in 2016.
File Photo / State House News Service

With Super Tuesday just days away, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld is campaigning in his home state, as well as Vermont. Weld is running a longshot bid in the Republican primary, against President Donald Trump.

Updated 3 p.m.

Vermont's minimum wage is set to rise over the next two years after the House voted Tuesday to override Gov. Phil Scott's veto.