Local & Regional Briefs for Tuesday, April 1

Irving Energy Settles With Vt., Former Customers

Propane company Irving Energy has agreed to pay about $425,000 to various recipients after settling claims with Vermont officials that the company delayed removing propane storage tanks and issuing refund checks to customers who had terminated service, according to a news release from the Attorney General’s Office.

Irving, one of the largest propane retailers in New England, will pay nearly $166,000 to consumers, $160,000 to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps low-income residents heat their homes, and $100,000 in civil penalties to the State of Vermont, the AG’s office said.

Vermont law requires companies to remove propane tanks within 20 days of a customer’s request to terminate service and to issue refund checks within 20 days of disconnection. Before the settlement, Irving had a practice of issuing refunds in the form of a “credit” on the account instead of mailing a check.

According to the release, Irving identified nearly 200 consumers who experienced delays in removing a tank or receiving a refund between Jan. 1, 2010 and Oct. 10, 2012. Within the next four to six weeks, these customers will receive information in the mail from the Attorney General’s Office and a payment averaging $500 for tank delays and almost $1,000 for refund delays.

This is the third settlement since 2012 with a propane provider that failed to meet Vermont’s time frames regarding service termination, according to the release.

Questions and complaints can be directed to the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program at 802-656-3183, consumer@uvm.edu, or by mail: Consumer Assistance Program, 146 University Place, Burlington VT 05405.

Driver Cited After Hitting Police Cruiser in Enfield

Enfield — A driver from Quebec hit a state police cruiser on Interstate 89 northbound in Enfield on Sunday while the officer was responding to another crash.

The interstate had to be shut down for 30 minutes because state police said drivers “refused to slow down and operate at safe speeds for the road conditions,” which made it too dangerous for emergency services to respond. Police said there were numerous near crashes while state police were investigating the first crash.

At about 3:30 a.m. on Sunday, a New Hampshire State Police trooper was traveling northbound on I-89 when he approached a motor vehicle crash.

The trooper turned on his lights and had pulled to the right shoulder when Xuan Nguyen, 30, of Saint Laurent, Quebec, struck the driver’s side of the cruiser and the rear of the tractor trailer that was involved in the earlier crash.

Nguyen was traveling too fast for road conditions, which were wet and icy, and following too closely to the cruiser, police said. When Nguyen applied his brakes, he lost control of his vehicle.

There were no injuries, and all three vehicles received minor damage. Nguyen was cited for negligent operation.

Corinth Approves Plans For New Fire Station

Corinth — For the second time in a month, an important town matter was decided by fewer than four ballots Monday when voters approved a $1.16 million bond to build a new town fire station.

With 297 of 966 voters going to the polls throughout the day — about a 30 percent turnout — the vote was 148 to 146 in favor of the project that’s slated to replace the town’s 50-year-old firehouse in East Corinth Village.

There were also three “spoiled” ballots that didn’t count, said Town Clerk Nancy Ertle, who won re-election to her job by just three votes on March 4, Vermont Town Meeting Day.

The new firehouse is planned for a site on Fairgrounds Road off Route 25 on a piece of land that will be donated by five grandchildren of the late Bert and Mary Holland who were longtime Corinth residents and benefactors of various local projects, including a community health clinic.

Backers of the fire station project said a new home for the Corinth Fire Department’s modern fire engines and equipment was needed to replace the old building that was designed for 1960s fire vehicles and gear.

The new station should accommodate four fire engines and a rescue vehicle, according to project architects.

Plans call for the 1980-era fire station behind town hall in Cookeville to remain in service. Two of the department’s engines will continue to be housed there, according Fire Chief Ed Pospisil.

Vt. Woman Charged in Teacher Death Cited for Letter to Husband

Montpelier (ap) — Vermont police say the woman charged with killing a St. Johnsbury Academy teacher is now facing charges she tried to send a letter to her husband, who is also charged in the teacher’s death.

Conditions imposed on 35-year-old Patricia Prue by a judge prohibit contact with her husband Allen Prue.

Police say Vermont Department of Corrections officials twice in December intercepted mail sent by Patricia Prue to a third party asking for help getting letters to her husband.

Both are charged with the 2012 killing of Melissa Jenkins. Jenkins’ body was found naked, strangled and beaten in the Connecticut River. Allen Prue and Patricia Prue both have pleaded not guilty.

They are both in prison awaiting trial.

Use of Medical Marijuana Booming in Vermont

Burlington (ap) — Statistics show that medical marijuana is booming in Vermont with jumps in both patient approvals and authorized patient assistants, but production costs are high and some types of marijuana aren’t available in state.

The Burlington Free Press reported that the number of patients approved to use medical marijuana is up 90 percent from this time a year ago.

That puts the total number of approved patients at more than 1,000.

Data also shows that the number of caregivers authorized to assist patients either by growing small amounts of marijuana or obtaining it from one of Vermont’s four dispensaries is up 74 percent. As of last week, there are 153 caregivers in the state.

But problems have arisen in the burgeoning business of growing legalized medical marijuana, said Shayne Lynn of the Champlain Valley Dispensary. Sales don’t cover the production costs, Lynn said.

Also federal laws limit certain kinds of medical marijuana, and some patients said they can’t get the strains of marijuana they want in Vermont.

— Staff and wire reports