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Agreement Reached On High School Stage Design

Claremont — A consensus has been reached on reconstructing the Stevens High School stage with parties agreeing on a preliminary design.

On Wednesday, David Putnam, chairman of the Stevens High School Renovation Committee, said the agreement was reached in a meeting with Banwell Architects, Trumbull-Nelson, Larissa Cahill, Stevens theater arts teacher, Pat Granter, Stevens music director and Bob Stringer, president of the Stevens alumni association.

Later in the day, the committee approved a recommendation to redesign the stage so it meets all fire, safety and American with Disabilities Act codes. Putnam said that would include putting in a lift, rebuilding the stairs and railings and reinforcing the wood structure beneath the stage. Presently the stage is rated to hold 65 pounds per square foot, but current code is 125 pounds per square foot.

Going forward, it was agreed that Cahill and Granter, who had argued against altering the stage and questioned statements that it was structurally unsound, will be part of the design process, Putnam said.

The cost of the redesign is estimated at between $90,000 and $100,000, which Putnam said would come from the approximately $400,000 contingency available for the $12.6 million Stevens High School renovation.

Vt. Man Charged in Fatal Rochester Hit-And-Run

Rochester, Vt. (ap) — A 47-year-old Vermont man is facing charges he was driving a pickup truck that didn’t stop after hitting a pedestrian in Rochester who later died.

State Police say Timothy Pratt, of Rochester, was issued a citation Thursday to appear in court to answer a charge of leaving the scene of an accident that caused a death.

Police say 86-year-old George Goding was hit Jan. 15 while walking on Route 100. He died in a hospital. Before he died, Goding said he was hit by a white pickup truck that was headed toward Hancock.

If convicted, Pratt could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. A message left for a Timothy Pratt in Rochester was not immediately returned on Thursday. Pratt is due in court today.

Renihan Meadows Fire Displaces Tenants

Lebanon — A blaze in the laundry room of a building at Renihan Meadows on Wednesday morning produced smoke heavy enough to force the evacuation of three apartments and to displace three tenants of the first-floor unit nearest the fire, Lebanon fire officials said.

Medical first-responders examined one of the tenants of the closest apartment, who declined an ambulance ride to the hospital.

During a search of that apartment after the extinguishing of the blaze, firefighters found a cat, which underwent treatment at the Small Animal Veterinary Emergency Services, fire officials said.

While tenants returned to the adjoining apartments after the fire, the American Red Cross made housing arrangements for the tenants of the closest apartment, which fire officials said underwent “severe” damage from smoke and water.

On-scene help to the Lebanon fire crew came from the Lebanon Police Department, and the fire departments of Hanover, Canaan and Hartford covered the fire station.

USDA Census Shows Vt. Farms Increasing

Montpelier (ap) — The latest census of U.S. agriculture shows that the number of farms in Vermont and the number of acres used for farming are increasing.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture 2012 census found that there were 7,338 farms in Vermont, up from 6,984 in 2007, the last time the census was conducted.

The census did not distinguish the kind of farms. In 2007, there were 1.23 million acres being used in farming in Vermont. In 2012 the figure had gone up to 1.25 million acres.

The size of farms between 10 and 49 acres increased about 21 percent, from 1,862 in 2007 to 2,258 in 2012. And the market value of products produced by Vermont farms went up about 15 percent from about $673 million to about $776 million.

N.H. Ag Census Finds More Farms, Less Value

Concord (ap) — Figures released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture show an increase in the number of farms of New Hampshire, even as farmers earn less.

The Census of Agriculture reports 4,391 New Hampshire farms in 2012, compared to 4,166 in 2007, an increase of 5 percent. Nationally, the number of farms fell by 4.3 percent.

Small farms, those with fewer than 49 acres, were the only category to increase from 2007 to 2012. The smallest farms, from one to nine acres, grew by 26 percent.

The market value of New Hampshire’s agricultural products fell from $199 million in 2007 to $190 million in 2012 while the average value per farmer dropped from $47,780 to $43,477.

New Hampshire farmers also got older: 57.8 years old in 2012 compared to 56.2 in 2007.

N.H. Drug Sweep Nets 27

Manchester (ap) — A year-long drug investigation has led to the arrest of 27 people around Manchester and more arrests are expected.

Manchester Police announced the arrests on Thursday, the day after several police agencies began the sweep that targeted a total of 34 people. Calling it Operation Clean Sweep, the effort included local, state and federal law enforcement. Three people were arrested on Wednesday.

Then, at 5 a.m. Thursday, eight teams of officers searched houses to arrest another 24. Three people have said they’ll turn themselves in and four others are still at large. Officers also seized heroin, methadone, prescription drugs and cash.

The suspects were charged with possessing drugs and possessing drugs to sell.

Vt. State Colleges Vote 3 Percent Tuition Increase

Johnson, Vt. (ap) — The trustees of the Vermont State Colleges have voted for a 3-percent tuition increase for in-state students in the next academic year.

The 8-5 vote Thursday during a meeting at Johnson State College came shortly after the trustees voted against a proposal that would have kept tuition at current levels for Vermont undergraduate students. Last week a committee of the board recommended against raising tuition.

Trustees who supported the tuition freeze said it would send a message that Vermont families and students could afford a college degree. Those against the proposal were concerned it might result in program cuts and diminish the quality of an education. The Vermont State Colleges includes Castleton State College, Community College of Vermont, Johnson State College, Lyndon State College and Vermont Technical College.

Burlington Council OKs Telecom Settlement

Burlington (ap) — The City Council has unanimously approved a settlement in a lawsuit over the city’s financially troubled provider of television, Internet and phone service.

Citibank sued Burlington in 2011. It alleged fraud and breach of contract in an effort to recover a portion of the $33.5 million advanced to the city in 2007 in a lease-purchase agreement intended to build the Burlington Telecom network.

The city terminated the agreement in 2010 when it was unable to make payments on the debt. A proposed settlement was reached earlier this month.

Mayor Miro Weinberger said the council’s vote Tuesday night represents another important step toward resolution of the city’s Burlington Telecom challenges.

— Staff and wire reports