Saturday, March 8, 2014
From news service reports
Attorney General urges rejection of utility increase
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is urging the Department of Public Utilities to reject a $20 million cost increase request by the Western Massachusetts Electric Company.
The utility is requesting the increase to help recover costs related to previous storms including Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.
Coakley is urging regulators to cut that request to $4.2 million, saying the $20 million request includes funding for promotional T-shirts and videos and bonuses for employees who handled storm response issues.
Coakley argues most of the costs the utility is seeking to recover should not be passed on to ratepayers.
Coakley said another cost cited by the utility, pruning trees to avoid power outages, should be split with Verizon.
Coakley's office said the utility's rate request didn't include the October 2011 snowstorm response for which it was fined $2 million.
Man tangles with and kills large attacking bobcat
A Massachusetts man who had just arrived home from work says a growling bobcat jumped on his leg and then his chest so he grabbed the animal by the neck and threw it to the ground, then shot it to death.
Michael Votruba, 24, of Holden got home from work Monday, got out of his truck, and went to the passenger side to grab his things when he saw an animal scurry into the space between the carport and his house.
The growling animal, which he estimated weighed 25 to 30 pounds, started approaching him, so he drew the handgun he was carrying. When he fell backward, the cat jumped on his leg.
He shook the cat off his leg and ran a few steps before the animal jumped on his chest.
He said he grabbed the cat by the neck, threw it to the ground, and shot it twice.
That didn't deter the animal, which jumped back on his chest. He shot it two more times. Then his girlfriend brought out his rifle, which had been locked inside, so he shot the animal several more times to kill it.
He credited the firearms with saving his life.
More than 100 expected for results in moose lottery
More than 100 people are expected at the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department headquarters in Concord on Friday to hear the results of this year's moose lottery.
The state will award 275 permits. The state says it received 14,000 entries from across the country, Canada and Europe.
People are chosen through a computerized random drawing for the hunt, which runs from Oct. 19 to 27.
Plaistow Fish & Game Club member Bill McNulty of Atkinson told the Eagle-Tribune there's probably one member who's been successful at getting a moose every three or four years.
Unemployment rate rises as labor force also grows
Rhode Island's unemployment rate ticked up in May -- its first increase since July 2011 -- but the size of the Labor force grew.
The state Department of Labor and Training said Thursday that the jobless rate rose to 8.9 percent, from 8.8 percent in April.
The size of the labor force was up 600, to 558,900, from the month before. The number of employed residents was up 400, to 509,300.
Still, the state lost 200 jobs from the revised April estimate of 467,100. Officials said the educational services sector saw a drop of 1,100 jobs fueled by larger than usual losses at colleges and universities.
The U.S. jobless rate in May was 7.6 percent.
The unemployment rate in Rhode Island a year ago was 10.6 percent.
Indiana man convicted in 'black money' scam
An Indiana man has been convicted for his part in a so-called "black money" scam.
The scam involves criminals convincing people that black construction paper is actually money dyed black, and persuading them to exchange it for real money.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Providence says 32-year-old Alvin Pennue, of Indianapolis, was convicted by a jury Wednesday of two counts of passing altered currency and one count of interstate transportation of stolen property.
Pennue was arrested in October 2011 after he persuaded a victim to withdraw $5,000 from his bank account in Massachusetts and bring it to Providence to invest in the scheme. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 4.
Cemetery employees get flag-disposal reminder
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence says it's reminding cemetery employees about the proper way to dispose of an American flag after more than a dozen flags were discovered in a trash bin at a Middletown cemetery.
Virginia DelNero told The Newport Daily News that and her husband were at St. Columba Cemetery on Saturday and noticed flags were missing from many veterans' graves. She said they found them in a trash bin.
American flags are supposed to be disposed of by burning.
The diocese says it regrets the incident, and that it follows a strict protocol to dispose of flags properly. It says it has a number of younger workers during summer months who might not have been informed of how best to dispose of a flag.
State agencies investigate fish kill and pesticide link
Vermont state agencies are investigating the death of fish in an Addison County Lake and whether a pesticide sprayed to control mosquitoes caused the fish kill.
The fish kill was noticed in Fern Lake several days after a chemical was sprayed in the area to kill mosquitoes. A Fish and Wildlife biologist said the fish died from spawning stress and increasing water temperatures. An additional report by state aquatic biologist Rick Levey said the die off "may be related" to the spraying of malthion.
The area near Fern Lake is part of Brandon, Leicester, Salisbury, Goshen Mosquito Control District that sprays pesticides to control larvae and adult mosquitoes.
"At this point, it's still an unknown for everybody," said Cary Giguere, of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, who oversees the pesticide program. "There are folks looking at what possible exposure levels could be in the water from an application."
Leicester resident Zachary Saxe reported the fish killed earlier this month.
Wind turbine noise study finds levels below limits
An independent study of noise generated by a Sheffield wind project commissioned by the Vermont Department of Public Service found that noise levels from the turbines were below state limits outside the home of a family that felt their health was threatened.
The report said it was also unable to obtain adequate background noise readings at the Sheffield wind facility, owned by the company First Wind. Nevertheless, the report "strongly suggests" that the facility was working within the limits placed on it by its state permit.