Investigations

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Emily Corwin / Vermont Public Radio

There aren’t nearly enough inpatient beds in Vermont for children in mental health crisis. Instead, kids who are a danger to themselves and others wait idly — for days — in emergency rooms.

Last year at UVM Medical Center in Burlington, 73 children spent an average three and a half days waiting for placement somewhere else. Many spent much longer. Parents, doctors, even hospital officials agree this is an urgent problem.

There is a child psychiatric facility with twelve beds — six newly reopened — just across Lake Champlain. The UVM Medical Center helps run the facility. The only problem: Vermont kids aren’t getting to use it.

Dr. Hannah Rabin
Emily Corwin / Vermont Public Radio

Emergency rooms are intended for short-term care. Say a child comes in with a broken bone. She'll have it set, get a cast and some pain meds, and be sent on her way with an appointment for follow-up care.

At the University of Vermont Medical Center’s emergency room, most children average less than four hours in the ER before they are sent home or admitted for specialized care.

But for children suffering from mental health emergencies, the ER is more like a windowless purgatory. It’s a secure place to wait for a bed to open up someplace else — often 150 miles away, in Brattleboro.

A stretch of road in Plymouth, Vermont, with a 35 miles per hour speed limit sign on the right and a car approaching in the distance.
Emily Corwin / VPR

Vermont law enforcement officers filed fewer traffic tickets in 2018 than the year before, marking the first decline in three years, according to the Vermont Judiciary.  Money collected from traffic fines in 2018 also declined — even more steeply than the number of tickets issued. 

A stethoscope on a table with a clipboard of paperwork in the background.
SteveColeImages / iStock

The Vermont-NEA has filed a lawsuit against Future Planning Associates, a Williston-based health benefits administrator. Future Planning Associates took on more than 20,000 school employees' health reimbursement accounts in January, then terminated the contracts in April.

Consumer Assistance Program / Vermont's Office of the Attorney General

Most Vermont school employees with unpaid medical claims should see those claims paid this week, according to Vermont Education Health Initiative’s trust administrators. Mark Hage of the VT-NEA and Bobby-Jo Salls of the nonprofit Vermont School Boards Insurance Trust said roughly $600,000 in payments were recently processed.

Want to know who is spending the most money in Vermont's elections? We've dug through the data and linked the contributions of individuals, their families and their businesses to show which people and organizations are spending the most on Vermont candidates through mid-October.

A Keurig Dr. Pepper sign in Waterbury, Vermont.
Henry Epp / VPR

Over the last 20 years, the state of Vermont has authorized more than $10 million in payments to Keurig Green Mountain, Inc.

The company, known for its K-Cup pods, is just one of many Vermont businesses that have used state incentive programs aimed at creating jobs. But exactly how much money Keurig received and what the company did with it is shrouded in secrecy.

Dr. Hannah Rabin, left, talks with Danny Ciccariello, right, a phlebotomist, at Richmond Family Medicine.
Emily Corwin / VPR

High costs for routine medical labs at the University of Vermont Medical Center are pushing a growing number of medical providers in Chittenden County to look for alternatives out of state.

A group of Mount Tabor residents attend 2018 Town Meeting inside an early learning classroom.
Emily Corwin / VPR

At 10 cents for every $100, Mount Tabor’s municipal tax rate is among the lowest in the state. Although the rate has always been low, today it is nearly one third what it was in 1999. That’s the year the state’s transportation committee lowered the speed limit on Route 7 in Mount Tabor — against the recommendation of engineers at the Agency of Transportation.

Since then, a single police sergeant has issued over $2 million in traffic fines, mostly to speeding motorists. That money goes a long way in a town of 255. 

Three speed limit signs, one that says 25 mph, one that says 30 mph along with a No Parking This Side of Street sign, and one that is 35 mph
Emily Corwin, Meg Malone / VPR

In 1999, the chairman of the select board for the town of Mount Tabor requested the speed limit on Route 7 in town be reduced from 50 mph to 45 mph. An Agency of Transportation engineering study seemed to support a speed as high as 60 mph. The agency recommended the limit remain at 50 mph.

A stretch of road in Plymouth, Vermont, with a 35 miles per hour speed limit sign on the right and a car approaching in the distance.
Emily Corwin / VPR

Plymouth, Vermont, issued more than $415,620 in traffic ticket fines in 2017 — more than any other town in Vermont. Most tickets were issued in a 35-mile-per-hour zone on Route 100.  The state has not reviewed the speed limit there in 45 years.

Welcome to Bridgewater sign next to a 25 mph speed limit sign
Emily Corwin / VPR

In 2017, deputies issued more tickets in Bridgewater than anywhere else in the state. The vast majority of these tickets were issued in a 25 mph "school zone" — even though the Bridgewater Village School closed three years ago.

A 25 mph speed limit sign on Patchen Road in South Burlington.
Meg Malone / VPR

VPR launched an investigation into the issuing of traffic tickets around Vermont, specifically looking at which towns issued the greatest total fines and number of tickets.

An illustration of a car pulled over on a road by a police officer and the cop is talking to the driver. There is a blue sky, green mountains and a grey house in the background.
Illustration: Aaron Shrewsbury / For VPR

If you got a traffic ticket in Vermont last year, you’re not alone.

Law enforcement issued more than 24,000 tickets worth upwards of $4 million in fines to drivers in Vermont in 2017. A quarter were issued in just three Vermont towns: Plymouth, Bridgewater and Mount Tabor. 

A complaint filed by Ismina Francois in 2016 has put a magnifying glass on working conditions for employees of color at the state-run psychiatric hospital in Berlin.
Jane Lindholm / VPR File

The woman whose complaint put a spotlight on racial discrimination in the government workplace says the state of Vermont has yet to resolve the issues that led to her suit.

left: Screenshot from web.archive.org, right: U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

Bernie Sanders inspired a political movement with his insurgent 2016 run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Yet he's been reluctant to acknowledge that his campaign likely got some help from a Russian covert propaganda campaign.

Patrick Warn talks in an office to Lamoille County Sheriff Roger Marcoux.
Emily Corwin / VPR

If Vermont’s county sheriffs are accountable to their voters, but most of their voters don’t pay much attention to them, what happens when they do something wrong?

Mary-Ellen Lovinsky of East Hardwick.
Emily Corwin / VPR

Farm runoff isn't just polluting Vermont lakes and streams — nitrate from manure and fertilizer is also contaminating private drinking wells.

And although the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets has regulatory authority, its response is inconsistent, and often undocumented.

ImagineGolf / iStock

After multiple reports of Vermont inmates who died of cancer after serving time in the state’s prison system, VPR’s Taylor Dobbs spoke with Vermont Edition about those cases and the limited transparency of health care provided to Vermont's inmate population.

Exterior of the Vermont Gas building.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR File

Recordkeeping at Vermont Gas Systems is so sloppy that Vermont’s consumer advocate made exceptions to consumer protection rules in order to prevent “significant financial hardship” for Vermont Gas, according to expert testimony filed with regulators.