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  • NEW YORK, Oct 11- Does an office perk count as a benefit if you pay for it yourself? Apparently so, because an increasing number of companies are using so-called voluntary benefits to bulk up workplace offerings.

  • PORTLAND, Maine-- Amtrak as well as its Downeaster passenger service between Maine and Boston have set new ridership records. Records were also set in other regions of the country, including New England.

  • WASHINGTON-- A Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday found that the economy grew modestly in the late summer, bolstered by solid gains in housing. The report is based on anecdotal information from the regional districts and covers the period from mid-August to Sept. 28. The region's economy expanded modestly.

  • MONTPELIER, Vt.-- Fans of Vermont singer Grace Potter will be able to watch her give an online concert where she is going to be promoting fair trade coffee. She's going to be singing at Joe's Pub in New York live Tuesday on the Facebook page of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc..

  • They include the reconstruction of the Brooks House in Brattleboro, which was damaged by fire last year and encouraging investment in the Blanchard Block in downtown Barre and Catamount High School in Bennington.

  • SEATTLE-- Residents of Washington, Oregon and Colorado won't just be considering whether to let adults buy pot at state-sanctioned shops when they vote next month on legalizing and taxing marijuana. "Farmers are already engaged in a high-risk endeavor," said Roy Kaufmann, a spokesman for Oregon's pot initiative. "

  • MADAWASKA, Maine-- Communities in the St. John Valley region of far northern Maine are getting $250,000 in grant funding to expand development and tourism opportunities. The Northern Border Regional Commission grant will be used to expand recreational facilities in Madawaska, St. Agatha and Frenchville.

  • MONTPELIER, Vt.-- In a state that has a long history of maple syrup production and fiercely protects the purity of its brand, Vermont producers are proud of their "fancy," "grade A dark amber" and "grade B" syrup.

  • Peter Shumlin said Thursday that cell telephone and data service in parts of rural Caledonia and Orange counties will improve, thanks to a $2 million federal grant to the telecommunications company VTel.

  • Oct 4- The Commodity Futures Trading Commission's battle to impose position limits intended to keep speculators from manipulating prices could drag on until at least 2014, after it lost a lawsuit last week.

  • Peter Shumlin has set up an independent commission to review the siting of electric power generating projects including wind farms in Vermont.

  • PROVIDENCE, R.I.-- The unemployment rate in New England climbed in August, but it is still below the national average. The New England office of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Wednesday the jobless rate in the six-state region was 7.3 percent last month, up from 7.1 percent in July. A year ago, the rate in New England was 7.8 percent.

  • BOSTON-- Phil Rymsha is turning away apple pickers and cider lovers from his northern Massachusetts orchard this fall because there simply aren't enough apples on his trees.

  • RANDOLPH, Vt.-- The students, faculty and staff at the Vermont Technical College are embarking on a new adventure as they implement a federal grant designed to make people ready to work in unique agricultural businesses, a new training system that could be copied by other schools across the country, U.S.

  • MONTPELIER, Vt.-- The Vermont state airports in Morrisville and Newport are going to receive more than $900,000 in federal grants to buy equipment, design a project and conduct an environmental assessment.

  • *New York sues JPMorgan over Bear Stearns mortgage products. *PetSmart to replace Sunoco in the S&P 500 index. If Madrid were to seek a rescue, it would trigger European Central Bank buying of its bonds and help to ease U.S. investors' nervousness about the euro zone's impact on the U.S. economy.