Town Bites

By Edd Merritt | The Charlotte News

Turnau is lead plaintiff in lawsuit against Volkswagen

Charlotte resident Bob Turnau was featured in an Oct. 15 Burlington Free Press story about the fraud in emission standards engineered into diesel-powered Volkswagens. Turnau bought a Jetta Sportwagen TDI two years ago and was very pleased with what he perceived to be its high fuel mileage—over 50 miles per gallon on one long trip, he noted. Then he learned Volkswagen had cheated him. Cars such as his were not actually environmentally sound and were emitting 40 times the allowed levels of nitrogen oxides. Turnau’s lawsuit says that owners paid a higher price for their cars because of the alleged lower emissions and through the suit, he and others hope to get back the money they say VW scammed from them. The Burlington law firm of Downs Rachlin Martin is leading the class-action lawsuit.

Charlotte, a leader in dairy robotics?

According to an article in the October 21 issue of Seven Days, Charlotte had the first robotic milking barn in Vermont on Clark Hinsdale’s Nordic Farm. Hinsdale installed a Lely robotic milking system in 2003 as part of a six-dairy, nationwide pilot program. He did have some early problems with his system, having to milk several dozen cows by hand because their udders did not align with the robots’ configuration. When working correctly, Hinsdale’s cows are able take charge of their own milking needs, walking to the machine where grain awaits them along with a computerized pail that clamps to their teats according to the alignment drawn by chips on their collars. The article stated that a machine can milk 60 cows three times in a 24-hour period. The staff of the milking parlor, rather than carrying cans and stools from cow to cow, now sits above the stalls monitoring the herd by computer. Milking farmers who find themselves with physical constraints from many years of dairying now can continue and not be “knocked out of being able to run a dairy farm.” According to Paul Godin, who installed Hinsdale’s machines, his clients average a 20 percent increase in milk production once the cows and the system develop a simpatico relationship.