Vermont Edition

Weekdays at Noon & 7:00pm

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Accurate, timely information is more essential than ever, and as a result, VPR has, at least for now, closed comments on our web stories. We’re focusing our resources on producing more of the local, independent journalism our community needs, which means we can’t fact-check every web comment or moderate online debates between users.

We’re also working on incorporating more of your feedback and ideas into our storytelling (read more about that here). So we absolutely want (and need!) to hear from you! Here’s a quick list of ways to get in touch with us:

A sign urging social distancing greets visitors to the Davis Center on UVM's campus.
Abagael Giles / VPR

Live call-in discussion: Vermont's state government has issued guidelines college campuses will have to follow in order to reopen on campus this fall. They include: mandatory health checks, a compressed academic calendar, and codes of conduct students pledge to follow. We're talking with Vermont colleges about what's happening on their individual campuses, and the concerns many still have for the fall.

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos.
Matthew Smith / VPR File

Early voting has already started for Vermont’s August primary. Secretary of State Jim Condos says many voters are interested because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. This hour, we look at some of the major changes in Vermont’s election law, including a new vote-by-mail system that goes into place this year.

A masked woman plants basin on Free Verse Farm
Sarah Priestap / VPR

Vermont's growing season so far has mostly been HOT and dry. This hour, we're joined by gardening guru Charlie Nardozzi to talk about summer gardening. What's growing well? What pests are causing problems? And how can you keep your garden in tip top shape in this dry, summer heat?

People on a sandy beach in front of water.
Liam Elder-Connors / VPR

Vermont recorded more than a dozen new COVID-19 cases over the weekend. Testing continues statewide; more than 70,000 people have been tested so far. This hour, Deputy Health Commissioner Tracy Dolan offers an update on the virus and answers your questions on how to stay safe and healthy this summer.

curtoicurto / ISTOCK

July is here, and with it comes mandatory composting for all Vermonters. This hour: we’re talking about the new mandatory composting law that went into effect July 1st. We’ll check in with the department of environmental conservation, answer your questions about how to start composting, whether it's through a third party or in your backyard, and learn why composting is important to begin with.

Hopper burn from a potato leaf hopper.
UVM Extension, courtesy

UVM agronomist Heather Darby says the growing season in Vermont started off cold and dry. Now it's hot and dry, with drought conditions affecting everything from haying to vegetable crops. Farmers also face pests like leafhoppers and their notorious "hopper burn" on crops - all of that on top of an uncertain economy brought on by a global pandemic. We check in for a summer agriculture update.

The exterior of the Vermont Humanities Council building.
Vermont Humanities

For years, Vermont Humanities has sponsored community readings of Frederick Douglass’ famed July 5, 1852 speech. But not this year. We talk to Executive Director Christopher Kaufman Ilstrup to find out why.

A loaded AR-15 rifle magazine on top of a loaded 9mm pistol magazine.
Althom / iStock

In 2018, Vermont lawmakers passed — at the behest of Gov. Phil Scott — multiple new gun control laws. Among them was a ban on the sale, possession or transfer of long gun magazines holding more than 10 rounds, and hand gun magazines holding more than 15.

Now that ban is being challenged before the Vermont Supreme Court. We talk with a reporter following the case and the arguments the court is hearing.

A chipmunk eating a peanut, leaving the mammal with a somewhat shocked expression.
Christiane Godin / iStock

If you’ve been spending any time hiking this summer, walking through the woods or even just driving along Vermont roads, you wouldn’t be alone in thinking: Are there chipmunks, like, everywhere this year?

We turn to a small mammal biologist for answers.

Displayed cloth face masks in different colors.
Pam Cross, Courtesy

Since the beginning of COVID-19, we've received many questions about masks. This hour: we'll have a doctor on to answer your questions about the effectiveness of masks during a pandemic. We'll also hear about how a facial covering mandate is panning out in neighboring Massachusetts, and learn about the ways Vermonters and local businesses are supplying masks to their community members. 

Closeup on medical mask and hand disinfectant and stressed woman in background in temporary home office during the coronavirus epidemic in the house in sunny day.
CentralITAlliance / iStock

A new state report finds women in Vermont have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. The COVID-19 disease itself has affected their personal health, but the economic downturn associated with the pandemic has also seen a uniquely large impact on women's financial stability and economic security. This hour, we'll take a close look at the report's findings.

Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine and Gov. Phil Scott.
Elodie Reed / VPR

As Vermont continues to reopen its economy, states like Arizona and Texas are pumping the brakes due to surges in COVID-19. This hour: it's our weekly check-in with the Vermont health department. We get the latest COVID-19 case numbers for Vermont, as well as an update on out-of-state travel restrictions, mask guidance, and much more.

Vermont U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy.
Jose Luis Magana / AP

The U.S. Senate is considering a major police reform package to hold officers more accountable for their actions. But the future of the bill is in question because many Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on some key provisions. We talk with Senator Patrick Leahy about this issue and more, and we take your questions.

The rising sun shines over the Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday morning, May 11, 2020.
Mark Sherman / Associated Press

The U.S. Supreme Court handed down two major rulings last week: one protecting LGBTQ employees from workplace discrimination, and another preserving DACA, a program that protects more than 600,000 so-called "DREAMers" from deportation. We look at what the rulings mean for the country and how these rulings are personally affecting some Vermonters. 

A yellow school bus with notes reading "we miss you" in the windows.
Abagael Giles / VPR

Kids are not immune to COVID-19, as we've seen in the recent outbreak centered in Winooski, where nearly half of the positive tests are in children. This hour: we'll spend some time looking at coronavirus and children with Dr. Breena Holmes, the director of maternal and child health for Vermont's Health Department. And Winooski's mayor Kristine Lott joins us as well.

A map of Vermont showing the response rates to the 2020 census by town and city.
U.S. Census Bureau, courtesy

Just over half of Vermont residents have responded to the 2020 census. Passing the halfway mark is an important milestone, but still leaves the Green Mountain State with one of the lowest response rates in the country for the once-a-decade head count. We look at why Vermont's lagging behind, how census takers are working to improve the count and how they're reaching hard-to-count groups amid a global pandemic.

Governor Scott's plan to use money from an expanded Internet Sales Tax to pay for a 7 million dollar increase in child care programs is being criticized by a number of lawmakers
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

Gov. Scott allowed child care centers to reopen starting June 1,  but there has been some pushback from early childhood educators and parents concerned about the health and safety of children and teachers. This hour, we speak with the Department for Children and Families as well as some child care directors and teachers about the reopening of these centers.

A view inside the Vermont statehouse.
Toby Talbot / AP

State lawmakers have been working for weeks on plans to distribute several hundred million dollars in federal COVID-19 relief funds across Vermont. The governor announced his plans last month, and says lawmakers are dragging their feet. This hour, we talk with House Speaker Mitzi Johnson and House Appropriations Chair Kitty Toll about what their COVID-19 relief efforts are for small businesses and individuals.

The exterior of the Vermont Department of Health office in Burlington at 108 Cherry Street.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR File

As if COVID-19 wasn't enough to worry about this summer, mosquito- and tick-borne diseases are back on the radar. EEE, Lyme, Powassan: How can Vermonters protect themselves while also enjoying – socially distant – time in the great outdoors? This hour, it's our weekly update from Vermont's health department. We check in with Deputy Commissioner Tracy Dolan and take your questions.

Activist Tabitha Moore speaks with a megaphone to crowd
Michael O'Brien, courtesy

Protests erupted across the country over the killing of George Floyd in police custody on Memorial Day. Calls for justice and the overthrowing of systemic racism in the U.S. echoed from Burlington to Seattle. In this recorded conversation, we speak with two Vermont racial justice leaders about reform, activism and what white allies should and shouldn’t be doing.