Vermont Edition

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Monday, Feb. 18, 2019

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We're checking in with the commissioner of Vermont's Department for Children and Families.
Nina Keck / VPR

When Ken Schatz took charge of the Department for Children and Families four years ago, DCF was still under intense scrutiny after the deaths of two young children under the department's supervision. We're checking in with Commissioner Schatz to talk about what's changed since then. And we'll talk about homelessness, the opioid crisis and the future of the state's only juvenile detention facility.

An astronaut on the International Space Station performs a spacewalk while tethered to the ISS on Dec. 13, 2018. A radiant blue earth is seen in the background.
Alexander Gerst / European Space Agency / NASA

The past year has held exciting news about space: from a new Mars lander, to important strides in spaceflight, to discoveries of distant exoplanets to observations of 'Oumuamua, the first object from another star ever seen in our own solar system. We're talking about the year in space and what to expect in 2019.

As Springfield Hospital faces serious financial struggles, the CEO and CFO of its health care system have both recently resigned. There is other internal turmoil as well, including attrition and missed payments to contractors and others. What's going wrong and what steps are being taken to turn things around?

VPR Classical's Timeline program is starting a new series on music and the mind.

VPR Classical has been airing the Timeline series since 2015. The thought-provoking, bite-sized explorations of the development and history of Western music are the brainchild of James Stewart, the afternoon host for VPR Classical. Now, he's producing a series of new Timeline episodes with a specific focus on music.

Toys can elicit fond memories of childhood. We take a look at some of what's available for kids of all ages today.
creisinger / iStock

Whether you grew up with a yo-yo, a doll, robots, race cars or video games, toys probably played some part in your childhood. And maybe into your adulthood. What better time to talk toys than at the holidays?

We're talking about how to direct your charity giving at the end of the year.
Infadel / iStock

About 30% of all the charitable giving in this country happens during December, according to the website Charity Navigator, which tracks giving and helps rate thousands of different charitable organizations according to their transparency, financial health and accountability. If you're thinking about ways to use your money for good this month, how do you make sure you're doing it right?

VSAC has been studying the educational attainment of Vermont students who graduated high school in 2012.
franny-anne / iStock

Some new information has just been released from an ongoing study following nearly 6,000 Vermonters who graduated from high school in 2012. There's some good news for Vermont in terms of college attainment, and some bad news – or ways the state could focus its energy.

The Governor's Marijuana Advisory Commission is ready to share its findings and recommendations on new pot laws in Vermont.
Labuda / iStock

Even though it's now legal to possess, consume and grow small amounts of marijuana in Vermont, that doesn't mean we've seen the end of pot legislation. The Governor's Marijuana Advisory Commission has been evaluating what has happened in other states and listening to Vermonters' thoughts on the future of pot laws. We'll hear the results from the co-chairs of the commission.

A man inspects the wreckage of a bus at the site of a deadly Saudi-led coalition airstrike in August in Saada, Yemen.
Hani Mohammed / AP

UNICEF has declared the bloody war in Yemen the worst ongoing humanitarian disaster in the world. More than 2 million people are displaced, and more than 85,000 children have died from war-induced famine, with millions more people on the brink of death by starvation. On Thursday, the Senate passed a resolution under the War Powers Act that would end U.S. support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen. 

Researchers at UVM and 20 other sites across the country are studying more than 11,800 children to learn how brain development relates to behavior, achievement, mental health outcomes and more.

Nearly 12,000 children aged nine and ten are now taking part in a decade-long, nationwide study looking at how young brains develop. And 577 of them are right here in Vermont.

We're talking with investigators leading the research at UVM about this landmark study and what they're learning about this pivotal decade in the development of young brains. 

We're talking about the best ways to feed birds and keep them safe.
Jason Grey / flickr

The bears are mostly in bed for the winter, so it's safe to bring out your birdfeeders. But what's the best way to attract birds to your yard—what kind of food should you use? How can you take steps to keep your avian visitors safe? And how do you choose bird food based on what birds you might want to see?

Vermont is the country's top slate producer. But re-opening and expanding old quarries has caused worry in neighboring communities.
ricsiv / iStock

From a tiny area along the New York border called the Slate Valley, Vermont is the leading producer of slate in the country. And as old quarries are reopened or expanded, the rub between quarry owners and neighboring homeowners has gotten tense. We'll take a look at today's slate industry in Vermont.

We're talking about weatherizing your home for the winter.
aetb / iStock

We're talking weatherization: how to keep your home warm for less and address other health and comfort issues at the same time. Plus, when to go do-it-yourself and when to bring in the professionals.

Bill Gardner survived the toughest challenge of his more than four decades as New Hampshire's Secretary of State.
Allegra Boverman / NHPR

Bill Gardner has served as New Hampshire’s Secretary of State for more than 40 years, and last week, New Hampshire legislators—not voters—elected him to his 22nd term in office.

But his re-election was no sure thing, and victory came only after a contentious and unprecedented day in the legislature. Tied up in Gardener’s reappointment are questions about election reforms, the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary and even President Donald Trump.

Don't be like this piggy bank and fear the coming year. We're getting a financial check-up with a financial counselor to navigate recent stock market turbulence.
Bob Bosewell / iStock

It's been a tumultuous few weeks in the stock market. We're checking in with a financial counselor to talk about investments, savings and strategies to start 2019 on firm financial footing.

A drive-in movie theater lights up the night in Fairlee. We're talking about the films of 2018.
Rebecca Siegel / flickr

We're talking about the films of 2018 - mostly the triumphs, a few of the misfires - with an emphasis on movies you can see now, either on the big screen or at home via streaming. We'll try to cover all the bases, from Oscar-bait to blockbusters.

'Cake Lady' Gesine Bullock-Prado believes anyone who bakes or aspires to can create a 'fantastical' cake.
Raymond Prado / Courtesy Running Press

Your dreams of creating a wonderful cake — delicious, decorous and delightful — are possible. And the 'Cake Lady' Gesine Bullock-Prado will provide guidance on how you can create a cake that delights the eyes and the palette.

The Rutland City Police Department in September 2015.
Nina Keck / VPR

Victims of human trafficking need help not from police but from social workers—which is why the Rutland City Police Department is hiring a case manager to connect victims to the services they need. 

Whether you're taking photographs with a cell phone, on film, or with advanced digital cameras, we're talking about ways to compose, tweak and improve your pictures.
Yuri Arcurs / iStock

As you look back at the photographs that tell your story of 2018, do they have that special something that elevates them beyond a simple snapshot and into a photograph worth framing? 

We're talking about how to take better photos, no matter what camera you use, and how to best capture the winter landscapes and family gatherings that tempt everyone's inner shutterbug this time of year.

Ronda Randall and her brother Scott Maxwell are amateur investigators featured in the "Bear Brook" podcast who have dedicated themselves to trying to identify the four victims found in two barrels in the woods of New Hampshire.
Courtesy New Hampshire Public Radio

Four victims. Their bodies found in two barrels. No trace of their identities. No suspects in their murders.

That's how the investigation at the heart of New Hampshire Public Radio's recent true crime podcast Bear Brook begins. But over the course of six episodes, and several forthcoming updates, cutting-edge forensic testing and genetic genealogy provides answers to some of those questions—while raising new ones.