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Local & Regional Briefs: Wednesday, April 30

Former Stevens High Teacher Indicted On Two Felony Charges

Newport — The former Stevens High School math teacher charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old student has been indicted on two counts of sexual assault by the Sullivan County grand jury.

Christopher LeBlanc, 29, of Claremont, has been indicted on a felony count of aggravated felonious sexual assault for a pattern of more than one sexual assault. The charge comes with a maximum penalty of 10 to 20 years in prison.

LeBlanc was also indicted on a felony count of felonious sexual assault in a safe school zone for allegedly engaging in sexual penetration of the 14-year-old at Stevens High School. The charge comes with a maximum penalty of 10 to 30 years in prison.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt, but a tool for prosecutors to continue with criminal cases.

LeBlanc had previously been charged with four counts of felonious sexual assault, each count punishable by 3 1/2 to 7 years in prison. Although LeBlanc was only indicted on two counts, one of the charges accounts for the pattern of sexual assault that was alleged in the four previous counts.

Specialty Wine Shop Closes Doors After Less Than a Year of Business

Claremont — A specialty wine shop in Opera House Square that sold only wines produced in the Northeast as well as regional cheeses and chocolates has closed its doors.

On Monday, paper covered the large picture windows of the storefront location of The Naughty Vine in the Moody building. A sign posted last week said the premises were conveyed back to the owner of the building, Andy Dauphin.

Robert Woods opened The Naughty Vine last June, after spending a year renovating the interior. Woods, who did much of the work himself, refurbished the hardwood floors, painted the original tin ceilings black, installed track lighting and decorated the shop with several pieces of locally produced sculptures.

Attempts to reach Woods were unsuccessful.

Vermont Hospital Sees 8 Heroin Overdoses In Single Day

Burlington — Fletcher Allen Health Care says eight people have come to the emergency room in one day for heroin overdoses.

The number of overdoses on Tuesday was typical of what the Burlington hospital might see in several months.

Fletcher Allen officials say the eight patients were from Winooski, Colchester, Williston and South Burlington but say they believe the drug is likely spread throughout Chittenden County.

Dr. Stephen Leffler tells WCAX-TV that they are concerned that if users don’t know that what they are using is stronger than they are accustomed to, they could die.

Hand-Held Cellphone Ban Will Not Move Forward

Montpelier — A proposal to ban the use of hand-held cellphones while driving is all but dead in the Senate after it failed to emerge from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Committee chairman Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, said the House version, which won strong bipartisan support, doesn’t go far enough to address the overall issue of distracted driving. “Laws don’t necessarily change behavior,” he said.

The measure requires drivers to use hands-free devices, such as Bluetooth, for cellphones while driving. The legislation originated as an attempt to help police enforce a similar ban on texting while driving. Law enforcement officials have testified that it is difficult to enforce the texting ban because suspects simply say they were dialing the phone.

Budget Ballot Glitch of $3 Means Do-Over

Barre, Vt. — A typographical error in a Vermont school budget ballot reflecting a difference of $3 doesn’t seem like much, but it’s enough to create a big headache.

The correct budget request was on paperwork before the Barre city school board this month. However, the ballot language forwarded to the city clerk reflects an extra $3.

The Times-Argus reports school officials caught the mistake last week and hoped to fix the ballot in time. But by then, nearly 200 absentee ballots had been mailed out. More than 70 were filled out and returned.

School officials consulted with the secretary of state’s office and decided Monday to “void” the document with the accurate numbers and adopt one that mirrors the mistake on the ballots. A re-vote is scheduled for May 13.

Shaheen: Minimum Wage Increase Would Help 110K NH Workers

Concord — New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen says a minimum wage increase would result in a raise for more than 110,000 people in the state.

The Senate is expected to consider a bill this week that would raise the wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 over two years. Shaheen says the increase also would lift more than 10,000 people in New Hampshire out of poverty.

She says according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and analysis from the Economic Policy Institute, the raise to $10.10 also would add $90.8 million to New Hampshire’s gross domestic product; help more than 4,500 New Hampshire veterans earn a living; and create 400 jobs.

— Staff and wire reports