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Montpelier City Council approves policy allowing encampments on public property

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Montpelier City Council approves policy allowing encampments on public property

MONTPELIER Vt. (WFFF) On Wednesday, the Montpelier City Council voted unanimously to de-criminalize emergency camping on public property in the city.

The new policy acknowledges, because of a lack of affordable housing and shelter beds, some people simply have no choice but to camp outdoors.

The document also states that it’s not a long-term solution to homelessness, but a short-term measure to help the city navigate an immediate crisis of affordable housing.

Steve Whitaker a former member of the city’s Homelessness Task Force, said the new policy accomplishes the goal of letting people in emergency encampments know what they can expect. However, he said the policy is unfair to the city’s most at-risk residents.

“It creates this kind of Whack-A-Mole where the folks that are affected are unaware of the meaning, so it’s trial and error — get moved, get moved, get moved,” Whitaker said.

Montpelier city employees who find an encampment on public land must notify, via email, several city departments, including the police and City Manager Bill Fraser’s office, to determine how to respond. If a camp is in a high-sensitivity area, everyone will be asked to move within 24 hours and be connected with overnight shelters at no charge. After 24 hours, camps are subject to removal by city staff.

During a meeting Tuesday night, the Montpelier Parks Commission asked for some changes to the policy before council approval. Assistant City Manager Cameron Niedermayer said those requests included “making sure that we add the Parks Commission on the list of city staff and Conservation Commission, asking if they could weigh in on any decisions.”

The other councilors agreed, approving the policy with the changes the requested changes.

“The Parks Commission went from saying that camping shouldn’t be done in any park to offering these suggestions, which isn’t a full endorsement, but I think it’s a reasonable compromise,” Councilor Conor Casey said.

One man wondered if a piece of infrastructure at Burlington’s City Hall Park that serves vulnerable residents in the Queen City can be adapted to fit Montpelier.

“Burlington has constructed a public restroom facility with a water fountain, a hand-washing station and someone comes in and restocks it with toilet paper in the evenings,” Seth Collins said. “I don’t know if it’s possible here, but maybe something like that could be done.”

Mayor Anne Watson told him that Montpelier is working on developing a public restroom facility.

Check out the document here:

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Ammunition shortage drags on for second hunting season

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Ammunition shortage drags on for second hunting season

DULUTH — The American hunting ammunition shortage that started during the early months of pandemic in 2020 is showing no signs of letting up, and hunters who don’t have ammo for their favorite deer rifle by now may be out of luck for the upcoming season.

An informal Duluth News Tribune survey of both brick-and-mortar and online sporting goods stores found almost no popular loads in 12-gauge shotgun shells or .30-caliber rifle cartridges, either for birds or big game.

A recent online check of Cabelas found only 1 of 10 calibers of Winchester Super-X deer rifle ammunition in stock (.350 Legend) and no calibers available in Federal Power Shok; “out of stock’’ was listed next to every load.

L&M Fleet Supply in Cloquet had some .223 cartridges available, but no other rifle or shotgun loads on hand. Fleet Farm in Duluth had some turkey hunting loads, but little else.

Some stores report that it’s been nearly two years since they’ve seen any .30-30 ammo at all.

THE COVID IMPACT

Pat Kukull, owner of Superior Shooters Supply in Superior, said the ammunition shortage hit with COVID-19, as plants initially slowed or shut down due to the pandemic’s impact on their employees and as supplies from overseas stopped coming into the country. Then the political and social unrest of 2020 sent gun sales soaring, she said.

In 2020, there were a record 39.7 million federal background checks conducted for firearms sales, up 44 percent from the previous record of 27.5 million in 2016. Of the new guns sold in 2020, 8.4 million were to first-time gun buyers, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade group for the U.S. firearms industry. (Not every check is a sale, but not all sales require checks, either. Sales between private parties or at gun shows don’t require background checks.)

“We have 8 million new gun owners now that we didn’t have before the pandemic and they all need ammunition. There’s just been this huge increase in demand while the supply has been really slow to catch up because of the pandemic,” Kukull said.

Another problem was the bankruptcy and shutdown of Remington Arms, a major ammunition manufacturer, in mid-2020. Minnesota-based Vista Outdoor Inc. eventually purchased the Remington ammunition factories in September 2020, and now has them running again, but the delay helped widen the gap between ammo supply and demand.

CALLING AHEAD

This fall, instead of getting hundreds of cases of shotgun and rifle cartridges as hunting seasons approached, stores like Superior Shooters Supply have been getting a few here, a few there. Kukull says it’s best to call ahead to see if a specific caliber or gauge shell is available. But even if it is, don’t plan on stocking up. Most stores have signs posted limiting sales to two boxes.

“I’m the ammo Nazi right now. No one is getting more than one box, maybe two,” Kukull said.

Kukull said hunters should call in often to see if the caliber they need is available. Both wholesalers and manufacturers are shipping product to her store erratically.

In the Duluth area, Federal Cartridge ammunition, made in Anoka, has always been popular. Owned by Vista, Federal has been unable to keep up with demand, in part because the great pandemic supply problem kept them from getting all the components they need — much like the U.S. auto industry can’t get enough computer chips to build new cars.

“We continue to produce and ship hunting ammunition for deer, waterfowl and upland game birds every day,’’ Jason Nash, Federal’s vice president of marketing, told the News Tribune. “Like many other companies during the pandemic we face some supply chain hurdles but have increased our production overall and are committed to providing ammo to our customers for the hunting season.”

DISPELLING RUMORS

Jason Vanderbrink — president of the Federal, CCI, Speer and Remington divisions of Vista — even went as far as posting a video on YouTube to defend his company, trying to squash rumors that Vista is stockpiling ammunition in “secret warehouses,” or has shut down plants to drive prices up. He said all of the company’s ammunition factories are running at full capacity.

“I am tired of all the hate mail … about us not trying to service the demand that we are experiencing,” Vanderbrink said in the video. “We’re making more hunting ammo, more than we ever have.”

In addition to being hard to get, prices for what shells are available have gone up 25-40 percent on average, industry experts say, when just two seasons ago manufacturers were offering sale prices and rebates to move their products.

Even people who reload their own shells can’t get components. Gunpowder, primer, brass and copper all are in short supply.

“We used to be able to order 1,000 pounds of powder. Now we’re lucky to get an order for 30 pounds,” Kukull said.

HOPE FOR NEXT YEAR

Kukull said industry insiders predicted in 2020 that it would take two years for the ammunition shortage to end.

“At first I thought that was crazy. But now I’m thinking that’s right. … Maybe by next hunting season,” she said.

Background checks for new gun purchases slowed some over summer, down 5 percent in July from 2020. But Kukull said her customers are still gobbling up guns as fast as she gets them in. The hardest part, she said, is keeping a box of shells around for each new gun sold.

“My gun sales haven’t dropped off at all,” she said. “People are still buying more guns, and new people are buying guns. And they all need ammunition.”

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You Paid For It: Mother of six with bug infestation now moving into new home

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You Paid For It: Mother of six with bug infestation now moving into new home

ST. LOUIS – Fox 2’s You Paid For It Team is getting results for a mother of six who has been living in an apartment on Missouri Avenue in South St Louis with a horrific bug infestation. She’s now going to move to a new home.

It’s a situation that agencies, including the St. Louis Housing Authority, have known about for months.

The Housing Authority pays $1,200 a month of tax dollars for the family to live in an apartment where there’s a colony of dozens of bugs clustered in the ceiling, and many of them scamper across the floor.

Latoya Dixon called You Paid For It after she said she got nowhere getting action from officials including the Housing Authority.

Fox 2’s Elliott Davis got on the case and showed the horrible conditions in which she lived in a report that aired on Monday.

The head of the St. Louis Housing Authority Alana Green said her agency gave Dixon a voucher to move elsewhere. Trouble was that Dixon could not find a place that would take her and her kids.

Elliott Davis called HUD for help on this deal. He got an email from the Biden Administration’s HUD Spokeswoman in Washington D.C.

”HUD’s number one priority is the safety and health of those who live in HUD-assisted housing. Our Department is concerned any time we learn of reports of unsafe conditions. We are in the process of investigating these reports,” the statement reads.

Dixon said she just got the call that the apartment she’s moving to has had the final inspection and that she may be able to move as soon as tomorrow.

The irony is that this was the same apartment she was told she couldn’t have something that changed after the You Paid For It Team got involved and turned up the heat on the Housing Authority.

Below is a statement from St. Louis Housing Authority Executive Director Alana Green:

“The St. Louis Housing Authority has been working with Ms. Dixon since she reported the issue with bugs in her apartment in late September. As you know, the unit in question is neither owned nor managed by the St. Louis Housing Authority. The SLHA made the landlord aware of the bug problem and it is their responsibility to resolve it.  Ms. Dixon was originally given a voucher by the SLHA in August that allowed her to move to a different unit of her choosing. We understand that Ms. Dixon has found a new unit and she is working with the landlord to finalize her move. We continue to work with her to help her expedite her move and resolve this problem.”

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Fallen Sailor honored as body returns home

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Fallen Sailor honored as body returns home

ST. LOUIS – Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Bailey Tucker was one of five U.S. Navy sailors killed in a helicopter crash in the Pacific Ocean on Aug. 31. His remains were recently recovered from the ocean floor and arrived at St. Louis Lambert International Airport Friday. 

A procession of military backers and supporters led the family from the airport to Baue Funeral Home in St. Charles County.  

Tucker was a 2018 graduate of Parkway North High School. Among those who stood near the Cave Springs exit off I-70 was Robbin Wolf. She said the Tucker family lives in her neighborhood and has always offered support to others.  

“The family is a giving family and loving,” Robbin Wolf said. Her husband also came to show his respects.  

“He showed up for us,” said Scott Wolf. “So, we are going to show up for him.” 

Several area fire departments raised American flags on overpasses as the procession traveled along I-70. 

“We’re just here to honor Bailey,” said Jason Meinershagen, Central County Fire Rescue public information officer. “We recognize that we wouldn’t have the freedoms and be able to do the things we do without him.”

Navy veteran Jodene Reppert traveled to St. Charles County to show her appreciation for Bailey’s service to his country.

“You need to be honored and your family should be honored and thanked for their sacrifice,” she said. 

The MH-60S crashed on Aug. 31 about 70 miles (112 kilometers) off San Diego during what the Navy described as routine flight operations. It was operating from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. 

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