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Local & Regional Briefs for Tuesday, Jan. 28

Pastor Kenneth Miller, left, stands with his wife Linda Miller, as he waits to enter a hearing at the University of Connecticut Law School, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Hartford, Conn. Miller is appealing his 2012 conviction in Vermont federal court for helping a woman and her child flee the country and avoid a custody dispute with her former lesbian partner. His 27-month prison sentence is delayed while he appeals. The New York City-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are scheduled to hear cases at the University of Connecticut Law School, under an occasional practice to hold court across its territory of Connecticut, New York and Vermont.  (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Pastor Kenneth Miller, left, stands with his wife Linda Miller, as he waits to enter a hearing at the University of Connecticut Law School, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Hartford, Conn. Miller is appealing his 2012 conviction in Vermont federal court for helping a woman and her child flee the country and avoid a custody dispute with her former lesbian partner. His 27-month prison sentence is delayed while he appeals. The New York City-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are scheduled to hear cases at the University of Connecticut Law School, under an occasional practice to hold court across its territory of Connecticut, New York and Vermont. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Grantham School Board OKs Proposed $8.5M Budget

Grantham — The School Board last week approved a proposed budget of almost $8.5 million for next school year, a 6.4 percent increase over current spending.

The proposal, an increase of $509,339, would create a full-time music position and a full-time technology education teacher while eliminating two part-time music positions and reducing a library-media position to half-time, according to a news release from School Board Chairman Robert McCarthy and Superintendent Jacqueline Guillette.

School officials also added funding for two new part-time custodial jobs. No tax-rate impact was provided in the release, but school officials said more details would be available at a public hearing to be held on Feb. 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the cafeteria of Grantham Village School.

“The School Board believes that this proposed budget achieves an appropriate balance between both continuously improving its solid core educational programs and properly maintaining the facilities and grounds and the ongoing, financial stresses of the local economy,” the release said.

The annual School District meeting itself is to be held the evening of March 4 at the school.

Pastor: Kidnap Case Shouldn’t Have Been in Vt.

Hartford, Conn. (ap) — A Mennonite pastor convicted of helping a woman and child flee the country amid a custody battle with her former same-sex partner should not have been charged in Vermont, his lawyer argued Monday.

Kenneth Miller, of Stuarts Draft, Va., is appealing his 2012 conviction in Vermont federal court for aiding in international parental kidnapping. His 27-month prison sentence is delayed while he appeals.

Miller’s attorney David Williams argued before a federal appeals court that no element of the pastor’s crime took place in Vermont.

He said Lisa Miller, who is not related to the pastor, fled from Virginia and passed through West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania before crossing the border in New York in September 2009. He said all of those states would have been more proper venues for a trial.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eugenia Cowley argued the crime took place in Canada when Miller and her daughter Isabella crossed the border, and its impact was in Vermont, where her former same-sex partner lives.

She also said that if Miller wins his appeal, the case would simply be refiled in one of those other states.

“By winning, you would not be winning very much, do you agree?” Judge Jose Cabranes asked Williams.

Williams said his client would win a “fair jury trial in a proper venue.”

Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins, of Fair Haven, Vt. were joined in a Vermont civil union in 2000, and Isabella was born to Lisa in 2002. The couple split in 2003 and a Vermont family court gave custody of Isabella to Lisa Miller with regular visitation for Jenkins. Lisa Miller sought full custody after moving to Virginia and renouncing homosexuality. She then fled the country with Isabella, and a Vermont judge gave custody of the girl to Jenkins.

Dartmouth Plans Discussions On Hanlon’s Vision

Hanover, (ap) — Dartmouth College is planning a series of biweekly discussions with students, faculty and staff to explore where the college is going and how it will get there.

The series, called “Moving Dartmouth Forward,” starts Feb. 3 and is designed to give community members a chance to contribute to initiatives President Phil Hanlon announced last fall. The first topic will be the so-called D-Plan, Dartmouth’s year-round academic calendar of quarterly terms.

Each discussion will be held twice in the same day, from noon to 1 p.m. and again from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

— Staff and wire reports