Bipartisan group of governors call on Congress for heating assistance

first_imgGovernor Peter Shumlin and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick spearheaded a bipartisan call on Congress from 15 Governors to urge level-funding for LIHEAP, the low-income home heating program that faces up to a 50 percent reduction in Washington. In a letter signed by Governors from primarily cold-weather states, the group said “time is of the essence. Winter has already begun in our states, and distributing meaningful benefit levels to households in need is critically important.”  “Vermonters are facing a devastating cut in heating assistance this winter unless the White House and Congress approve the funding to ensure every family can afford to stay warm,” Gov. Shumlin said. “No one should be forced to choose between heat, food, medications and other vital necessities. Today I join other Governors and leaders in urging Washington to stand up for Americans with winter approaching and provide the funding necessary to guarantee a warm home for all.” The Governors are calling for $4.7 billion for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, the same amount approved last year. In addition, they are asking Congress to require the federal Health and Human Services Department to distribute $3.4 billion to the states now, pending approval of the additional $1.3 billion, arguing that families need the money immediately to begin heating their homes and cannot await final Congressional and White House approval of the full-funding.  “As the heating season begins, home energy prices remain high,” the Governors wrote. “We request your timely action to ensure LIHEAP funding in this fiscal year will allow states to provide meaningful assistance to vulnerable households struggling with home energy bills.” About 27,800 low-income Vermont families depend upon heating assistance to stay warm this winter. Earlier this month, Gov. Shumlin directed an initial $13.5 million LIHEAP payment to assist families in need of heating assistance, enabling families to afford at least one minimal delivery of home heating fuel as the cold weather gets underway. Vermont is receiving a total of $11 million from Washington for LIHEAP this year, significantly less than past years. Governor’s office. 11.11.11last_img read more

Week 8 college football previews and predictions

first_imgAfter a couple weeks with all of the marquee matchups involving the SEC, the ACC, the Big 12 and independent Notre Dame step into the forefront. Here are our predictions for the biggest games of the upcoming Saturday in college football.#5 Notre Dame (6-0) at #2 Florida State (6-0)The biggest matchup of the week pits two top-5 programs both looking to shed their “overrated” label. The Fighting Irish, despite holding an undefeated record up to this point, have their success in question after a 50-43 win against North Carolina. Meanwhile, this game is treated as a must-win for the Seminoles, as this would be the only top-5 team and just the second ranked team the Seminoles have played this season. They defeated then No. 22 ranked Clemson 23-17 in overtime on September 20 without Jameis Winston. The Irish, meanwhile, have one ranked win to their name (17-14 against Stanford), and still have Arizona State and USC to bolster their strength of schedule.The key to this game for each time will be their quarterbacks: Notre Dame’s Everett Golson (1892 total yards, 20 total TDs) and Florida State’s Jameis Winston (1605 passing yards, 11 TDs). Whichever one is more capable of making big plays, as well as avoiding mental errors, will be the one that comes out on top. Notre Dame, is 8th in the nation in points allowed per game at 17.2, but their last performance gives the impression that Winston and the Seminoles should be able to put up enough points to try and win back the No. 1 ranking.Prediction: Florida State 38, Notre Dame 35#21 Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2 SEC) at #7 Alabama (5-1, 2-1 SEC)The Aggies have fallen on hard times the past couple weeks, as they’ve lost to Mississippi State and Ole Miss by a a combined 32 points after starting 5-0. Quarterback Kenny Hill is 2nd in the FBS with 2,511 passing yards and 23 touchdown passes, but costly turnovers (5 interceptions in the last 2 games), and a porous defense have caused the Aggies to fall from the top 10.Luckily for A&M, Alabama in a similar situation, having scored a combined 31 points in their last two games in a 23-17 loss to Ole Miss and a 14-13 win against an Arkansas squad still without a win in the SEC. Going in the Tide’s favor is an improving quarterback in Blake Sims, a two-headed monster at running back with T.J. Yeldon (550 total yards, 3 TDs) and Derrick Henry (541 total yards, 4 total TDs), and the best wide receiver in the country in Amari Cooper (768 receiving yards, 5 TDs). They also have the advantage on defense, which should be able to force Kenny Hill into mistakes. The offense should be able to bounce back and put up some points in Tuscaloosa, forcing Hill to overcome his recent struggles and lead his team out of the slump.Prediction: Alabama 38, Texas A&M 28#14 Kansas State (4-1, 2-0 Big 12) at #11 Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1 Big 12)The last time the Wildcats traveled to Norman in 2012, they upset the then No.6 ranked Sooners 24-19. The Wildcats have proven this season that they can handle tough competition, keeping it close against Auburn en route to a 20-14 loss. This time around, the two teams are very evenly matched, with almost identical points per game numbers (40.8 for Kansas State, 40.5 for Oklahoma) and points allowed (21.0 for Kansas State, 21.5 for Oklahoma.)In order for the Wildcats to leave Norman with another win, they’ll need their defense to play like it did against Auburn and shut down Sooner running back Samaje Perine (568 rushing yards, 9 TDs). If the Wildcats can force Trevor Knight (1503 passing yards, 6 TDs, 5 INTs) to beat them with his arm, while getting plenty of production from quarterback Jake Waters (1526 total yards, 13 total TDs), the Wildcats can pull it off again.Prediction: Kansas State 31, Oklahoma 27#15 Oklahoma State (5-1, 3-0 Big 12) at #12 TCU (4-1, 1-1 Big 12)The Cowboys are coming into this contest on a roll, having won their last five games by an average of just over 16 points per game after losing their opener 36-31 against then No. 1 Florida State. Meanwhile, the Horned Frogs will be eager to get back on the field after blowing a 21-point lead in the final 11 minutes against Baylor and losing 61-58. TCU, led by emerging quarterback Trevone Boykin (1768 total yards, 13 total TDs), has an offense that is ranked third in the nation in points per game at 45.8 and a passing attack ranked 12th with 325.2 yards per game. The big question for TCU is whether or not their defense can get back to their early-season dominance, or remain the defense that gave up 61 to the Bears. Personally, I’d expect them to get back on the right track, while Boykin provides the offense necessary to earn the bounce-back win at home.Prediction: TCU 45, Oklahoma State 30#23 Stanford (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12) at #17 Arizona State (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12)The most notable matchup in the Pac-12 this week pits two teams with opposing mindsets, matching a tough and physical Stanford team with the more explosive Sun Devils. Both sides are dealing with injury woes, as the Cardinal will be without their second-leading receiver in Devon Cajuste (243 yards, 3 TDs), while the Sun Devils are unsure of the status of quarterbacl Taylor Kelly (793 total yards, 11 total TDs), as well as running back D.J. Foster (833 total yards, 7 total TDs). Mike Bercovici (1077 yards, 9 TDs, 2 INTs) has done a good job filling in for Kelly, but Stanford comes in with the nation’s top scoring defense, only allowing 10.0 points per game, and the lack of a running threat at quarterback could work against the Sun Devils. The Sun Devils will keep it interesting, but Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan (1325 yards, 11 TDs, 4 INTs) should lead his offense to put up enough points to pick up the win.Prediction: Stanford 24, Arizona State 20Colorado (2-4, 0-3 Pac-12) at #22 USC (4-2, 3-1 Pac-12)The Trojans have had a week to celebrate their victory over a then-Top 10 Arizona team last week. They’ve also had some time to look back at the past couple weeks, where the Trojans have been outscored 33-14 in the fourth quarter. They’ll look to get on track against a Colorado team that is 109th in the nation in points against per game at 35.7, and who is still looking for their first conference win of the season.  The Buffaloes’ passing attack, which ranks 14th in passing yards with 320.3 yards per game, is headlined by quarterback Sefo Liufau (1887 passing yards, 19 TDs, 7 INTs) and wide receiver Nelson Spruce (732 receiving yards, 10 TDs).On defense, the Trojans will hope their secondary is healthy enough to stop this dangerous duo, and hope for explosive plays from Su’a Cravens and Leonard Williams. On offense, USC will need to feed the ball to running back Javorius “Buck” Allen (1059 total yards, 8 total TDs) to wear down the Colorado defense and prevent Colorado from making this too close.Even though it has a familiar feel to the upset loss against Boston College, with USC coming off a win against a top-15 Pac-12 team on the road, facing a weaker team than the Eagles at the Coliseum, rather than flying cross-country, should keep USC from experiencing too much déjà vu.Prediction: USC 38, Colorado 17last_img read more

Devils’ Mackenzie Blackwood hoping to re-sign: ‘I would love to play here long-term’

first_imgNew Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood is a pending restricted free agent after the 2019-20 season. He said he hadn’t put a ton of thought into it until recently.”During the season, I don’t really like to think about contracts or stuff like that but now that I’ve had time to kind of settle a little bit, I’ve talked to my agent a little bit,” Blackwood told reporters on a call Monday. “I don’t really know exactly how it’s all going to transpire but whatever it is, I like Jersey. I love playing here and I would love to play here long-term. I’m sure we can figure something like that out and hopefully, it can go smoothly.” In his second season with the Devils, Blackwood stepped up as the starting netminder after Cory Schneider was sent down to Binghamton. In 47 games, he posted a 2.77 goals-against average with a .915 save percentage and 7.30 goals saved above average.NHL free agency 2020: Best players availableAs part of New Jersey’s young core with forwards Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier and Pavel Zacha, Blackwood wants to stay with the Devils and grow with them.”I just love playing here. Everyone always asked me what it’s like to play here and I say it’s a really good spot. I think this team in the upcoming future should be really, really good,” he said. “Right now, I think they’re the youngest team on average so it just goes to show you that moving forward, they’re all going to develop and I think it could be really exciting if we can all develop together.”I think that’s exciting and I want to be a part of that and I see myself being a part of that. It’s definitely a place in a situation where I see myself being for a long time.”The season was a rocky one for the Devils as they started off 9-13-4 before firing head coach John Hynes. Under interim head coach Alain Nasreddine, the team went 19-16-8 and sported the league’s best penalty kill (86 percent) since he took over on Dec. 3. MORE: December start for 2020-21 season ‘under consideration’Blackwood characterized his season as good but added that he has a long way to go as just a 23-year-old NHL goaltender.”I was proud of the way I handled some certain situations that I had gone into, but I still think looking at myself and evaluating myself is something I got quite a ways to go to keep growing and keep developing,” he said from his hometown of Thunder Bay, Ont. “I was happy with the way my season was this year but at the same time, there’s a lot of stuff I can improve upon. Starting the year off, we struggled a little bit. We started to find our stride a little longer it went on. Thankfully, I was able to get the opportunity I had this year to continue to grow and develop myself.” New Jersey’s second-round pick in 2015, Blackwood had a heavy workload in the first half of the season, playing in 30 of the team’s first 39 games. While he’s not a huge fan of playing back-to-backs, he didn’t mind going between the pipes as long as he got time off in between games.”I just think that playing a lot is a good way to develop yourself, especially early on. There’s a fine line between being rested and finding the right amount so you want to try and find that and then balance it as best as you can,” he noted. “I think at the end of the year, maybe from the end of December on, we did a good job managing the workloads and stuff like that, especially because I did play so many games earlier on.”I was happy the way everything went for me in terms of that this year.”last_img read more