The New York State Assembly passed a bill which would send 16 and 17 year olds to juvenile centers, rather than adult prisons, which is the current law in the Empire State.
Advocates are asking lawmakers to give many in the system a second chance. Jim St. Germain says he's lucky to be telling his story today in a suit behind a podium, instead of the alternative orange jumpsuit and jail cell.
"I'm a father, a tax-paying citizen, instead of a tax burden on taxpayers," said Jim St. Germain.
At 15, two Class-D felonies sent him to a Brooklyn juvenile detention center for a year. He ended up serving two due to bad behavior.
"I was having run-ins with the law and started hustling and selling drugs at the age of 14 as a way of trying to help my grandmother pay the rent," St. Germain said.
If St. Germain had been arrested just four months later, when he was 16, he would have been charged as an adult, and likely would have served much longer.
"I would not be standing here today if I did not go through the juvenile justice system," St. Germain said.
St. Germain credits mentoring in the juvenile system for turning his focus towards education, which allowed him to earn his GED. He later earned a Bachelor's in Political Science.
Now, he's urging lawmakers to give other teens a second chance.
"In the adult system, you're basically just warehoused. The individuals there, unfortunately, learn just how to become better criminals," St. Germain said.
For the 27-year-old, it comes down to one simple question:
"What would you rather have your tax dollars do: Give young people who've made mistakes an opportunity to be where I am today? Or would you rather further punish these young people and further push them through the criminal justice system by charging them as an adult?" St. Germain said.
He hopes lawmakers don't waste this opportunity.
"I was no better than them at their age. It's just that I got an opportunity many of them were not given," said St. Germain.
Burlington Police say an officer has resigned under the suspicion of perjury.
Police say Monday, Officer Christopher Lopez resigned from the Burlington Police Department. His resignation was in advance of a disciplinary hearing scheduled Tuesday morning where he was to be informed of the department's intent to fire him.
The proposed discipline was the result of a preliminary investigation into an allegation Lopez had committed perjury. Police add the allegation came from statements made in a sworn affidavit about an arrest for narcotics possession in Burlington on October 25th, 2016.
On February 13th, a Burlington police lieutenant was contacted by a Deputy State's Attorney with concerns they had about a pending criminal case set for a motion hearing earlier the same morning. The lieutenant made Chief Brandon del Pozo aware of the situation, which prompted a preliminary investigation.
As a result, Lopez had his shield and firearm taken from him and was placed on administrative leave that evening.
On February 15th, del Pozo requested that the Vermont State Police and the Chittenden County State's Attorney conduct a criminal investigation into the arrest in question as well as "an investigation into the approximately 32 prior arrests Officer Lopez has made for possession of narcotics and contraband, many of the fact patterns of which are similar."
The next day, State's Attorney Sarah George concluded her office would no longer be able to rely on Lopez as a witness in any criminal cases, "both retroactively and going forward," because she believed he had made "patently false statements" in his October 25th affidavit.
Knowing this, Burlington Police intended to terminate Lopez's employment without further delay.
Police say "regardless of the results of any future criminal or internal investigations, he will no longer be able to perform the duties of a police officer in Chittenden County."
"There is no place for dishonesty within the Burlington Police Department," said Mayor Miro Weinberger.
"The Burlington Police Department is committed to the highest standards of integrity," said Chief Brandon del Pozo in his request to the state police and state's attorney for a criminal investigation.
"We have no tolerance for an act that, if proven, will erode the public's trust in the official statements of our police. [This incident]... and others by the subject officer need a thorough, impartial and fair investigation that leads wherever it ought to. We feel our commitment to these ideals and needs is best demonstrated by an investigation conducted by external authorities," said del Pozo.
The Vermont State Police and the Chittenden County State's attorney have begun their investigations.
The results will be disclosed to the public by the respective agencies at the appropriate time.
The Burlington Police are also conducting a parallel internal investigation into the non- riminal aspects of the incident.
Members of the Burlington Police Commission have been briefed on the incident and are assisting the department.
Christopher Lopez served with the Burlington Police Department since September of 2014. He was hired out of the Baltimore Police Department, where he began service in August of 2012.
Wednesday night, temperatures will stay well above freezing in most spots. That's going to lead to snow melt and areas of fog through daybreak Thursday. It won't be everywhere but some of that fog may be pretty dense. I can't rule out a few light rain showers either. After the morning fog thins out we'll be rather quiet for the rest of Thursday morning. Thursday afternoon, the wind picks up from the south at 10-20mph and we'll have another round of scattered rain. Meanwhile, highs will be approaching record levels in the middle 50s. Burlington's record high is 56°, our forecast high is 55°....it'll be close. Showers Thursday evening will fade away overnight into Friday while skies stay mostly cloudy; lows will be in the middle 30s.
Friday starts dry with patchy fog but clouds get thicker and another round of light rain is here by the evening drive. Highs will approach 50°....again. Overnight Friday into Saturday, spotty light showers remain but the chance will go down as the night goes on. At the same time, temperatures will either hold steady in the 40s or come up by Saturday morning. The first half of Saturday will be quiet but the wind gets wound up (gusting near 20-40mph) and highs soar to near 60° by Saturday afternoon. Burlington's record high is 55°, that looks to go down easily! Rain will become rather widespread after lunch with some of it coming down a little heavier. It'll be a decent soaking with about a half inch to around an inch worth of rain.
Saturday night, rain continues but it'll end as some wet wrap around snow through Sunday morning; lows will fall into the 20s & low 30s. We will have to be mindful of a flash freeze and icy surfaces as temperatures quickly fall late Saturday. Sunday will feel very much like winter despite the still mild highs. Northwest winds will be cranked putting wind chills at least in the teens. Snow showers will continue during the day, especially in the mountains where a few inches will be possible. Also, with all the melting that goes on during the week, rivers will be running faster and higher than usual. If you live near a river, keep an eye out for ice jams. The National Weather Service has highlighted many North Country rivers that may overflow their banks by Saturday.
Vermont State Police say an arrest has been made in a shooting from December in Mt. Tabor, Vt.
The initial release by police indicated he had shot himself, but further investigation by detectives along with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and Rutland County State's Attorney found forensic evidence that David Shores was shot by someone else. Police say his death was ruled a homicide.
VSP arrested Peggy Shores, 51, of Manchester, on a charge of Second-Degree Murder for the death of her husband, David Shores.
Investigators say Peggy was the only other person inside the Brooklyn Road home when David was shot on December 11, 2016.
Shores is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday. She is being held for a lack of $100,000 bail.
Around the nation, more than 160 ceremonies are happening this week to recognize new American citizens.
In Burlington, 23 citizenship candidates from 16 countries were naturalized Wednesday.
The ceremony took place at Edmunds Middle School.
Stephen Boley came to the United States in 2006. He fled a war-torn Liberia with his family, ending up in a refugee camp in Ghana.
"As God could help it, we came here," said Boley.
Now 11 years later, he's become a naturalized citizen at the school he attended when he first got here.
"Being from Liberia, school wasn't part of the equation at all and now that I'm here, I went to middle school, I went to high school, I'm in college, I get to say I'll graduate college in a year and get the job that I wanted. It's amazing," said Boley.
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger addressed the new citizens.
"In our democracy, presidents are elected and held responsible by citizens like you," remarked Weinberger.
It's the reason Penelope Prendergast wanted to become a United States citizen. She moved from the United Kingdom in 1980 upon receiving a fellowship to Princeton University.
"I realized I had a duty to a country that had been so hospitable to me for so many years, and not to be able to vote, and not being able to participate in that way, finally, it came home to me this was in fact my home. I'd been here longer than anywhere, and it seems churlish not to do my civic duty," said Prendergast.
Iwona Beata O'Connor is from Poland. She's disappointed in the new administration's stance on immigrants.
"I came from a country which was under Soviet protection for many years and for me, it's not normal that no one can come to America and be citizens, it's not fair for me," said O'Connor.
She and her husband Vinnie celebrate their four year wedding anniversary next week, and couldn't have asked for a better gift.
"She worked very hard studying for her test, and nervous. We're both very happy now. Our only regret is that she wanted to vote in the November election, but other than that, it's been a very long process," said O'Connor.
This week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services welcomed more than 25,000 new citizens in recognition of Presidents' Day.
The process on how to become a naturalized U.S. citizen can be found here.
After three months flying combat missions overseas, the first group of Vermont Air National Guard Members returned home on Wednesday.
Nine F-16 Fighting Falcons landed back in Vermont on Wednesday afternoon. They were just a part of more than 300 Airmen deployed overseas as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, a US-led coalition which began in 2014. Pilots say they're glad to be back, their families are glad to have them home.
"I'm really proud we were able to execute on the mission that we've trained for. It was a special opportunity to get the chance to do it in the F-16 before those aircraft leave here in a couple years," said Captain Cash Shaner, one of the nine pilots to return Wednesday. After three months of providing air support, air-to-ground attack capabilities, in the Middle East, Airmen have touched back down in the Green Mountain State.
Their family, friends and fellow Airmen were glad to have them back. "Our pilots are incredibly excited to be home and see their families, and we are so proud of what they've done over the past few months," stated Major General Steven Cray, leader of the Vermont National Guard. The General, along with Wing Commander Colonel Patrick Guinee welcomed their pilots home.
The two say Vermont's role in Operation Inherent Resolve was a flawless success, no injuries, and no issues. "They flew over a year's worth of hours in just over 2 months. That was around the clock operations, they never missed an assigned tasking. So 100 percent completion of the mission," explained the Colonel.
In December, more than 300 airmen volunteered for the "short notice deployment", a tasking that was originally sent down from the Department of Defense. They spent 3 months overseas fighting Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) forces based in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria. "There's definitely a pretty brutal war going on in Iraq and Syria right now that doesn't necessarily get a lot of coverage, especially in a Presidential Inauguration season, but there are a lot of bullets flying in Iraq and Syria right now, and we did see that for sure," that the response from Captain Shaner when asked if Vermont Airmen were shot at or attacked during daily missions.
Despite that danger "Cash" says he jumped at the chance to showcase the capability of the Green Mountain Boys, and the F-16 platform. This was his first combat deployment. He says airmen worked 12 to 14 hour days, seven days a week.
"They'll check in with a Joint Terminal Air Controller, a JTAC on the ground, and support operations that are going on inside of Iraq or Syria. They are then under the command of that ground unit who will designate targets for them to hit with bombs or other munitions," said Colonel Guinee, explaining the daily operations of Vermont Airmen while overseas.
The Colonel told the media that Vermont Pilots utilized laser-guided, precision munitions, and 20 MM rounds when targeting enemy groups.
"They are then under the command of that ground unit who will designate targets for them to hit with bombs or other munitions," added Colonel Guinee, explaining the daily operations of Vermont Airmen while overseas.
Iraqi troops, backed by US forces have been fighting to take back Mosul and Raqqa for months.
Captain Shaner says Vermont Airmen provided "combat airpower" within 15 hours of arriving in the Middle East on December 10th.Mosul and Raqqa for months. Captain Shaner says Vermont Airmen provided "combat airpower" within 15 hours of arriving in the Middle East on December 10, 2016.
Mosul, located in Northern Iraq near the borders of Syria and Turkey, is the country's secmost populatedated city, with more than one million residents. In 2014 ISIS forces took control of both Mosul and Raqqa. That year ISIS declared Raqqa the capital of the ISIS emirate.
While Captain Shaner says Vermont's Airmen were ready to continue operations overseas, they were relieved and excited to hear their mission was ending. He was looking forward to getting home to his wife and child, "I'm pretty sure I'll be eating somewhere on Church Street tonight. I haven't decided where yet, but there's so many good options," he joked.
The rest of the 300 Airmen, which includes pilots, maintenance crews, intelligence, and communication personnel, are scheduled to return home Thursday afternoon.
Vermont Air National Guard's 158th Fighter Wing has roughly 1,100 members. Their last deployment was another 3 month mission in the Summer of 2015.
Dozens filled the pews of the Vermont Superior Court in St. Albans for the bail hearing of Ethan Gratton.
"Please be seated," Judge Gregory Rainville said.
Defense Attorney Steve Dunham is asking for the 26-year-old to be released to his parents' custody, while awaiting trial for shooting two men in Georgia on January 2nd. David Hill died and Mark Brito was severely injured.
Dunham gave new evidence to the court that could support a decision to release Gratton. He says his client needs medical attention and dental treatment, that can't be received behind bars. The two sealed documents include a psychological evaluation.
The Franklin County State's Attorney Jim Hughes says this addresses whether or not Gratton will hurt himself.
"One of my arguments initially was because Mr. Gratton had made statements about shooting himself... .So if he's not around to face these charges, he's a flight risk," Hughes said.
Also sealed, a medical evaluation. In it, whether or not Gratton suffered a concussion or injury before the shooting.
"He [Gratton] had alleged that one of the victims had struck him, and he suffered some injuries," Hughes added.
Hughes says the court had asked to hear from a medical expert because a brain injury, such as a concussion, can impact a person's judgment.
"But may have some impact on his decision-making and his intent. Since he's charged with the intentional killing of another and the attempted murder of Mr. Brito. His brain functioning may come into litigation," he said.
Hughes suggesting a brain injury could affect how the case moves forward.
"The defense is laying the foundation to argue that this is not a murder, which carries a life sentence, but a lesser killing, like a manslaughter or a justifiable killing, self defense," Hughes said.
A decision was not made Wednesday. Hughes still needs to submit paperwork Monday, then the judge will make a decision on Gratton's bail.
Powerball's jackpot for Wednesday night's drawing is $403 million, the tenth largest prize in the game's 25-year history.
But if it seems like massive Powerball jackpots have become relatively common, that's because they have.
Five of the ten largest Powerball jackpots have come since the start of last year. The reason: Powerball changed up its formula in October 2015 so that players have more numbers to choose from.
More numbers mean longer odds of a winner -- the odds of winning Powerball are now 1 in 292 million. Before the switch, the Powerball odds were 1 in 175 million.
With fewer winners, the jackpot has the chance to grow bigger week after week.
The biggest jackpot ever happened about a year ago in January 2016, soon after the odds changed. The payout reached a record $1.6 billion -- the one and only time it has crossed the billion dollar mark. But it also got above $400 million in May, July and November of last year.
Meanwhile, the Mega Millions game, which costs half as much to play, has only had four jackpots in its history that topped $400 million. Only one of those big payouts, a $536 million jackpot, came last year. The odds against winning Mega Millions are a mere 1 in 259 million.
Of course the size of those jackpots are somewhat inflated. They assume the winner decides to take annuity payments spread out over 29 years. But virtually every jackpot winner chooses to take a smaller, lump sum payment up front. For Wednesday's Powerball, that prize is estimated at $244 million.
Additionally, players only collect the entire prize if they are the sole winner, but the jackpots often have to be split between people with the same numbers.
King Arthur Flour is mixing things up with its new line of baking mix, Essential Goodness, which helps to fight hunger.
The company sells six different mixes, including Lemon Bar and Chocolate Chip Cookie.
For every mix that is sold, the company donates a meal to Feeding America, the nation's largest organization of food pantries across the U.S.
"We're a mission driven company and we want to be able to give back to our community and we can do that through our Essential Goodness baking mix line," says King Arthur Flour Spokesperson, Katie Walker. "For every mix that you buy we're going to give a meal to somebody in need through Feeding America, which feeds 46 million people a year."
The company is coming out with new Essential Goodness mixes this summer, including Coconut Cupcake Frosting.
Several members of the Vermont Air National Guard touched down in the Green Mountain State. Nine airmen from the 134 th Fighter Squadron arrived at the Air Base in South Burlington Wednesday afternoon. Guard officials said additional members are expected back in Vermont over the next several days. The 158 th Fighter Wing deployed to the Middle East in December as part of Operation Inherent Resolve--a U.S. led effort against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Last week, guard officials said the 300 members would return to Vermont by the end of February, but did not give an official date. Tracy Morris, spokesperson for the Air Guard, said the mission went smoothly, and there were no reported injuries.
While overseas, members helped with air-to-ground attacks, guard officials said.
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Members of the Vermont Air National Guard who were deployed to the Middle East will begin arriving home Wednesday.
Captain Tracy Morris, spokesperson for the Air Guard, said a squadron of F-16 Fighter Falcons from the 134 th Fighter Squadron will touch down this afternoon. Approximately 10 airmen from the wing will return home, Morris said. Additional members are expected back in Vermont over the next several days.
Last week, guard officials said the 300 members would return to the Green Mountain State by the end of February, but did not give an official date. Morris said the mission went smoothly, and there were no reported injuries.
The 158 th Fighter Wing deployed in December as part of Operation Inherent Resolve--a U.S. led effort against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
While overseas, members helped with air-to-ground attacks, guard officials said.
It's another very gray day with stubborn clouds overhead Wednesday. Temperatures will race into the mid to upper 40s, even nearing 50° in broader, warmer valleys. South wind 5-10 mph. There may be a few peeks of blue sky or sunshine, but I wouldn't count on seeing that sun for very long.
Tonight, under cloudy skies, temps fall to the mid and upper 30s. There will likely be areas of fog by Thursday morning.
Thursday, you guessed it, still warm and still cloudy. Afternoon high temps on Thursday touch the low to mid 50s. The record high temp for Burlington on February 23rd is 56° (1984), so we may be watching that one fall. There will be scattered, light rain showers throughout the day on Friday. No big soakers, but it wouldn't hurt to have a rain jacket or umbrella on hand.
Friday, it's also cloudy with an occasional shower, though just slightly cooler. Temps reach the mid 40s, still about 10-15 degrees above average for late February. Friday night showers are brought to us by a warm front, that will likely also bring record-breaking warmth again on Saturday.
This weekend has some crazy weather in store for us. On Saturday, temps approach the upper 50s to even near 60°. The current record for Burlington is 55° (1985). Rain showers are likely Saturday afternoon and evening. An occasional downpour cannot be ruled out with 0.25" up to around 1" of rain anticipated.
Overnight Saturday into early Sunday, a strong cold front will usher in some drastically cooler air. A flash freeze is likely as temps dip into the mid 20s. Rain will change to snow with a few inches possible over higher terrain. Then, throughout Sunday, expect scattered, mainly mountain based snow showers with a high just in the low to mid 30s.
With the recent warmth lingering throughout this entire week, melting and runoff continue. Be sure to keep a watchful eye on low-lying, poor drainage areas; as well as rivers, creeks and streams. Officials are monitoring for potential ice jams.
Police say a seven-month investigation into a deadly crash from last July ended Tuesday with the arrest of Justin Hemond, 28, of Georgia, Vt. He's charged with Driving Under the Influence with death resulting, and Grossly Negligent Operation with death resulting. Police were called to a crash around 11:15 pm on July 5, 2016. Police say it happened near 7444 Ethan Allen Highway in Georgia, Vt. Police say Leonard Delage, 32, of Milton, Vt. died after being thrown from the vehicle. According to a release from police, the registered owner, Hemond, was found in critical condition. He was also thrown from the car. Hemond was taken to the hospital. Police say Hemond was arrested Tuesday, after an investigation by Vermont State Police, the VSP Crash Reconstruction Team, the Vermont Forensic Laboratory and members from the Crime Scene Search Team. The investigation found Hemond was driving south on Route 7, and drove off the road at a high rate of speed. Police say the vehicle rolled multiple times, causing both men to be thrown from the car. Further investigation found Hemond was driving under the influence at the time. Hemond was released, and is scheduled to appear in Franklin County Superior Court on March 20, 2017.