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Unvaccinated government employees exposed

need to use leaveThe state of Vermont requires that unvaccinated state employees use personal sick leave if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the course of their work and need to self-quarantine.

If someone uses up all of their sick time, they could be forced to quarantine themselves without getting paid. Employees who are fully vaccinated and forced into quarantine will be paid without needing to take sick leave.

“We want to do everything we can to enjoy safe, effective and free vaccines,” said Jason Maulucci, spokesman for Republican Gov. Phil Scott, on Friday. “If there are people who choose not to, there are implications in making that decision.”

Maulucci said it was not clear how many people have had to use sick leave or if someone has yet to be paid.

Steve Howard, executive director of the Vermont State Employees Association, said there have been instances where employees have had to use time off but did not have a specific number. He didn’t know if anyone had left without pay.

Howard said the union filed a grievance, saying the new policy was implemented without working out the details with the union.

The previous policy allowed state employees who were to be quarantined to be paid when not working.

“To the administration’s credit, throughout the pandemic, they did not force those exposed to work and ordered to quarantine themselves to use the leave balance,” Howard said, calling bad change.

Workers who choose not to be vaccinated should follow state guidelines for regular testing and mask wear.

Of more than 9,100 state employees, more than 8,000 are fully immunized, Maulucci said.

The administration reports that vaccination rates in state agencies range from a maximum of 100% at the central office of the Social Services Agency and the state treasurer’s office to rates below 80% in the country. Vermont Veterans Home, State Army and Department of Forestry, Parks and Recreation.

4 Virginia fighter jets for training with the Vermont Air Guard

Four Virginia fighter jets will train with Vermont Air National Guard pilots this weekend and are expected to create additional noise in the area on Saturday morning, according to the air guard.

Langley Air Force Base F-22 Raptors may use afterburners when they take off from Burlington International Airport on Saturday, according to the Burlington Free Press reported. The Vermont Air National Guard’s F-35 fighter jets typically do not use noisy afterburner during takeoff, the newspaper reported.

Col. Nathan Graber, commander of the 158th Operations Group, said the team is delighted to participate in the training. “Our units represent the tip of the sword in high-end combat, and these missions allow us to hone those skills that make us a more effective force against any potential adversary.”

Concerns about noise in communities near the airport have increased since the louder F-35 jets replaced the Vermont Air National Guard’s F-16s in 2019, the newspaper reported.

Man pleads guilty to cocaine conspiracy linked to couple kidnappingA Montrealer pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Vermont to being part of an effort to smuggle 1,500 kilos (3,300 pounds) of cocaine from Peru to Vermont and then to Canada in a conspiracy that the prosecutors, was linked to the kidnapping of an old man. couple from York last year.

In a video hearing in U.S. District Court Thursday, prosecutors said the plot involving Georges Yaghmour, 40, was part of the same plan that resulted in the couple’s kidnapping Moira, New York, in September 2020 , although prosecutors did not allege Yaghmour was involved in the kidnapping.

The couple was held for ransom after 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of cocaine have not reached their intended destination in Canada. The other conspirators were unaware that the cocaine had been seized in South Burlington, Vermont, by agents of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. The couple were taken to Canada and then rescued by Quebec police.

Yaghmour was arrested in Florida in November 2020, where he visited to discuss the reasons the cocaine was not delivered as planned, authorities said.

Yaghmour’s charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine carries a maximum sentence of up to 40 years in prison. The plea deal provides for a sentence of just over 11 years. Sentencing is scheduled for March.

During the 40-minute hearing, Yaghmour admitted to participating in the cocaine conspiracy, but said he was not involved in the kidnapping.

U.S. District Judge Geoffrey Crawford explained to Yaghmour the consequences of a guilty plea, including the fact that as a Canadian citizen he could be barred from returning to the United States after returning to Canada.

“My biggest punishment is that I can’t come back to the United States,” Yaghmour said.

Prosecutors said Yaghmour, under the guidance of others, attended a meeting in Burlington in December 2019 to discuss the plan to transfer cocaine between Peru and Canada via Vermont.

At the meeting, which included an undercover DEA agent and another person who cooperated with law enforcement, Yaghmour asked about shipping the drugs from South America to Mexico, but the agent DEA offered to ship the drugs to Vermont for later distribution, according to the plea. agreement.

A few weeks later, an anonymous co-conspirator handed the undercover agent $ 150,000 as a down payment. In the spring of 2020, the DEA undercover operation took delivery of cocaine to South America for shipment to Canada via Vermont, according to the plea agreement.

Two controlled deliveries were made, one to Massachusetts and the other to Vermont, but none of the drugs reached their intended destination in Canada.

It was after the cargo from Vermont did not arrive at its Canadian destination that the New York couple – aged 70 and 76, and the grandparents of one of the Vermont couriers – were kidnapped by others involved in the plot, authorities said.

They were taken across the border and moved to a house in Magog, Quebec. The kidnappers demanded a ransom for the 50 kilos of cocaine that had been seized in Burlington or a payment of $ 3.5 million.

– The Associated Press



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