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State struggles to rebuild flooded mental health system

MONTPELIER — Vermont officials say they’re going to rebuild the state’s mental health system better than it was before the remnants of Hurricane Irene flooded and closed the centerpiece state psychiatric hospital.

For now, they acknowledge that there’s been a crisis, with community hospitals around the state trying to care for acutely mentally ill patients who formerly would have gone to the Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury.

But Mental Health Commissioner Patrick Flood notes the closing of the antiquated Waterbury hospital has made the state eligible for about $24 million in new federal funding. The federal government had decertified the hospital.

He says the state will be able to build a state-of-the-art psychiatric hospital and pay for improved community services.


Forest Service won’t evict Jesus statue

HELENA — The U.S. Forest Service says it will reauthorize a permit for a 57-year-old statue of Jesus that had been facing eviction from a northwestern Montana ski resort.

The agency faced a firestorm of criticism from religious groups, the state’s congressman and residents after it decided last fall to boot the Jesus statue from its hillside perch in the trees.

The Forest Service said Tuesday will renew a 10-year special-use permit for the Knights of Columbus Council statue. Service supervisor Chip Weber says the decision took into account that the statue “is important to the community for its historical heritage.”

The agency received more than 90,000 comments on the issue.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation argues the religious statue does not belong on public land.


Reward offered for information about dead sea lions

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