The State Board of Education elected officers at its March 20, 2012 meeting, the Department of Education announced today. Stephan Morse of Newfane was elected Board chair, and Kathy Larsen of Wilmington will continue serving as vice-chair. ‘My approach as Board chair is to be all inclusive, and hopefully reach consensus on key issues,’ said Morse. ‘I plan to meet frequently with education leaders. There will be differences along the way, but the goal is to find agreement where we can. We owe it to our students to speak with one voice.’ Morse was born in Springfield, Vermont on April 1, 1947. He served as Newfane Zoning Administrator from 1971-74; on the Board of Selectman from 1974-77 and as chairman from 1975-77. Morse served in the Vermont House of Representatives from 1977 to 1984. He was Assistant Majority Leader in the Vermont House of Representatives in 1979 and Majority Leader in 1980. He served as Vermont Speaker of the House from 1981-84. He served as President and C.E.O. of the Windham Foundation until 2008. Most recently he served on the Next Generation Commission in 2006 and was appointed to the District #2 Environmental Commission in 2008. In 2009, Morse was appointed to chair the task force examining the Vermont State Colleges and University of Vermont systems to determine what academic and administrative efficiencies could be achieved through their consolidation. Morse was reappointed to the Board after filling a vacant seat, and his term will expire in 2017. Kathy Larsen of Wilmington spent her 33-year career teaching Vermont students. She spent one year as a paraprofessional, 24 years as a primary grade teacher, and eight as an elementary teaching principal. After one year in Williston, she spent the rest of her career at Deerfield Valley Elementary School, retiring in 2005. She also does mentoring and Formative Assessment Project trainings, as well as some substitute teaching to stay in touch with students and acting as interim principal. She serves as a member of the advisory board for the Wings Community Program afterschool program and the Deerfield Valley Health Care Volunteers local healthcare assistance program. Her term expires in 2013.In addition, new Board member Bonnie Johnson-Aten, who was appointed by Governor Shumlin earlier this month, participated in her first meeting. Johnson-Aten, a resident of Montpelier, has served as principal at Edmunds Middle School in Burlington since 2006, replaces Fayneese Miller of South Burlington, whose term on the board expired in February.She has previously worked as House Director at Champlain Valley High School, and Assistant Principal and Dean of Students at U-32 in Washington County. In addition, Johnson-Aten was Policy Analyst for former Gov. Howard Dean, and Diversity-Equity Coordinator for the Burlington School District. She received her Masters in Education from Union Institute & University at Vermont College in Montpelier.More information about the State Board, including membership and meeting agendas, can be found at http://education.vermont.gov/new/html/mainboard.html(link is external). VTDOE 3.20.2012
Judith McLaughlin of Franklin has announced her candidacy for the Vermont State Senate as an Independent. In 2010, McLaughlin came in immediately behind incumbents Randy Brock and Sara Kittell. Neither incumbent is running for re-election. She ran as a Republican for the seat in 2010. In a statement, she said: â It is my wish to represent all of Franklin County and Alburgh the best way that I can, without being restrained by party. As an independent I will legislate for the good of Franklin County and Alburgh, as well as all of Vermont, without the restrictions of partisan politics. I have always said, itâ s not about the party, itâ s about the people.âMcLaughlin said she will take her mountain bike and traverse the roads of Franklin county and Alburgh this summer personally discussing her 4-point Platform; Diversified Agriculture, Rural Youth, Affordable Energy and Entrepreneurism. â I understand first-hand the issues our small businesses and agricultural community faces, and I will be their champion. As a former agricultural small business owner, and a current homesteader looking to develop a new agricultural-based business, I struggle along with others like me who continue to face the bureaucratic red-tape that tends to stymie entrepreneurship. Vermont requires more entrepreneurs to develop new demands for local food. A business-friendly infrastructure developed specifically for diversified agriculture is paramount in VT. Small, state-of-the-art, regional processing facilities are required for our natural/organic meat and poultry producers. We need year-round facilities in our communities for our local farmers to market their products. We need our permitting processes simplified. We need tax relief for small businesses while we continue to improve our road and communication networks.â McLaughlin, a Vermont Army National Guard retired Lieutenant Colonel, spent her career working with civil authorities and youth, both here in the States as well as overseas. â Here in Vermont, our rural youth need inspiration. They canâ t be what they canâ t see. We need to cease lamenting that their generation will never be great, and we need to begin showing them how they can. When our youth have no hope for a higher education, or a livable-wage job, we lose them to crime, homelessness or the cycle of public support. Iâ ve spent most of my career mentoring and teaching youth and I will champion affordable tuition at our State Colleges, community mentor centers and programs, along with school curriculums that better prepare our youth to become young leaders.âShe said that in their spare time, Judith and her husband Rob teach younger generations all the forgotten arts inherent to a self-sufficient family. Judith and Rob raise their vegetables, honey, eggs and herbs for multiple families, and teach their younger generations how to become self-sufficient while reducing their energy footprint. Judith stated, â Energy efficiency is a personal as well as state responsibility. We all need to participate to ensure affordable energy for Vermonters, and to protect our most vulnerable. Yet, we need to rethink how we look at renewable energy in Vermont, and shift our focus from large-scale community projects to homeowner solutions. The ultimate result is a reduced energy footprint in Vermont. How we get there is our choice. I will champion new and innovative small businesses that develop alternative energy solutions that are affordable and sustainable for the homeowner. Alternative energy must available to all homes. I will promote tax credits for improving homeowner energy efficiency, while ensuring our current public utilities, as well as new development remains responsive and responsible to Vermonters needs.â
Green Mountain Power Corp,Green Mountain Power today issued a request for proposals from companies interested in providing detailed engineering and design services for the Stafford Hill Solar Farm, which GMP hopes will be the largest solar farm in Vermont upon completion. The project, to be built on Rutlands former landfill behind the Stafford Technical Center, is part of Green Mountain Powers effort to make Rutland the solar capital of New England. The project will also contribute to the larger statewide goal of producing 90 percent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2050, said GMP President and CEO Mary Powell. Were looking for a designer who can help us maximize production at the site as affordably as possible. Earlier this fall, GMP agreed with the city on a 25-year lease on the former landfill, which is renewable for an additional 25 years. We see this as a win-win-win, said Steve Costello, GMPs vice president for generation and energy innovation. It creates a productive use of long-fallow land, provides an income to the city, and generates clean, renewable energy for our customers in line with state energy policy and goals. GMP is seeking an experienced firm with a background in designing and engineering solar projects, specifically on landfill and brownfield sites. The design and engineering work will include photovoltaic arrays, site improvements, electrical work in conformance with the National Electrical Code, coordination with GMP staff and consultants, and verification of all dimensions and conditions at the site. The site is adjacent to the existing Rutland County Solid Waste District drop-off facility, which will remain in place. Bids are due by 5 p.m. on Jan. 11, 2013. The RFP issued today comes just days before GMP will commission the Creek Path Solar Farm, a 150-kilowatt solar site adjacent to East Creek and Cleveland Avenue. That project, which is expected to come on-line Monday, was also built on a brownfield site that housed an old coal-to-gas plant back in 1901 and sat largely empty for several decades after the 1950s. While we continue to examine a host of sites and encourage others to do so as well, we are focusing our initial development efforts on brownfields, Powell said. Site selection is a critical part of good solar development, and we believe the Creek Path and Stafford Hill locations are perfect initial sites given the lack of alternative uses and the benefits they will produce. The projects are part of GMPs plan to create and inspire construction of enough solar to provide Rutland with the highest installed solar per capita of any city in the northeast. This solar development is another foundation stone that we hope will stimulate others to join us to create new economic opportunity for Rutland and Vermont, Powell said. Added Costello: We expect several announcements in the coming months about other projects, some independent of GMP and some involving us directly, which will contribute to our goals in Rutland. In addition to the solar capital effort, GMP is building a new Energy Innovation Center in the former Eastmans Building, where the company expects to develop new generation and pilot new customer programs, efficiency ideas and educational opportunities for students and customers statewide. GMP is also recruiting new business such as Small Dog Electronics to locate in Rutland. Vermont Energy Investment Corp. and Neighborworks of Western Vermont announced plans to co-locate some staff at the EIC last week. About Green Mountain PowerGreen Mountain Power (www.greenmountainpower.com(link is external)) transmits, distributes and sells electricity in the state of Vermont. The company, which serves more than 250,000 customers, has set its vision to be the best small utility in America.
Energy Co-op of Vermont,The Energy Co-op of Vermont’s Co-op Solar hot water heating program has received the Vermont Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for its contributions to protecting the environment, conserving energy, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Vermont Governor’s Awards (SEE STORY) were established in 1993 to ‘recognize the actions taken by Vermonters to conserve and protect natural resources, prevent pollution, and promote environmental sustainability.’ In 2012, the innovative solar program led to the installation of over 40 solar hot water systems in Chittenden County, keeping an estimated 70,000 lbs of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and saving Vermonters approximately $500,000 over the lifetime of the systems.Energy Co-op General Manager John Quinney and Program Coordinator Ben Griffin accepted the award on behalf of the Vermont residents, business owners and partners who participated in the 2012 program. Deb Markowitz, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, presented the award at UVM’s Davis Center on Tuesday evening, May 14th saying ‘The Co-op Solar program was designed to make solar simple and affordable by forming strategic partnerships, negotiating volume discounts, and providing cost-effective financing to reduce the overall cost. Others are now using this model to promote solar installations around the state.’The Energy Co-op of Vermont also announced that the deadline for the 2013 Co-op Solar program has been extended until July 1st, due to the high level of interest in the program and the continued availability of state incentive funds. Since its launch in February, over 500 Vermonters have signed up for a free solar site assessment available through the program to see how much they can save by going solar. Senator Bernie Sanders shared high praise for the program at the 2013 kick-off event saying, ‘What is particularly exciting about this program is that people can move in this direction without spending any more money on their fuel bills than they currently are, because they’re going to pay off their loan from the credit union by reduced fuel costs. That is exactly the right direction to go.’The state of Vermont offers a $900 – $1200 incentive towards the installation of the Co-op Solar systems through its Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF). A federal tax credit of 30% brings the net cost down even further. Coupled with the discount through the Co-op, the cost of a typical system has been reduced by almost 50%. Financing is also available through local banks and credit unions, helping the solar systems to be installed with little to no upfront costs. ‘We are really excited about this program because we think that this is the kind of innovative marketing and innovative financing that solar hot water needs.’said Andrew Perchlik, Executive Director of CEDF.In addition to extending the program’s deadline, the service area has been expanded for 2013 and is open to any home or business owner in Northwestern and Central Vermont. A Co-op Solar open house will be held Saturday, May 18th in Shelburne from 10am to 2pm at Sunward Systems (6221 Shelburne Road, Suite 210), the Vermont-based manufacturer of the solar hot water systems. Attendees can learn more about how the solar systems work and sign up for the program. Other educational events are planned and will be taking place in the Co-op Solar communities. Interested participants can get more details and also sign up for a site assessment online at www.Co-opSolar.net(link is external). The Energy Co-op of Vermont is a member-owned cooperative, delivering fuel oil, kerosene and wood pellets, and offering the installation and servicing of efficient heating equipment to a membership of 2,100 Vermonters. For more information about the Co-op or its Co-op Solar program, or to schedule an interview, please contact Ben Griffin by phone at (802) 395-1388 or by email at [email protected](link sends e-mail).
Vermont Country Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, the largest resort and vacation home real estate agency in Vermont, is reporting a spike in luxury and second home sales exemplifying a growing trend in vacation markets across the country. More specifically, the real estate agency is seeing a rise in home sales in excess of a million dollars. They recently announced eight sales of luxury homes in the million-dollar plus category including the most recent sale of a Dorset residence, on July 11th, which sold for $2.5 million. In addition, a luxury slope-side home on Stratton Mountain that is listed for $4.25 million is expected to close by the end of the July. ‘There’s no doubt that the Vermont luxury home market is heating up,’said Lisa Coneeny, President and Principal Broker at Vermont Country Properties Sotheby’s International. ‘As the economy continues to rebound, we are seeing a stronger market with more sales in the million-dollar plus category.’ According to Coneeny, a total of 49 properties sold for over $1 million in 2012 and year to date in 2013, there have been 36 properties that closed for over $1 million. Vermont’s increase in second home sales is exemplary of what’s happening across the country in major vacation markets. According to the National Realtors Association, second-home sales climbed 11 percent last year to 553,000. A meaningful uptick in vacation-home transactions is expected to continue through the end of the year. Serving as the largest resort and vacation home real estate agency in the state, Vermont Country Properties Sotheby’s International Realty has a database of over 450 listings. From mountainside condos to sprawling country estates, they have access to some of the state’s most coveted properties. For more information, or to reach one of their five offices, visit vermontcountryproperties.com. Source: (MANCHESTER, VT) July 26, 2013 ‘Vermont Country Properties Sotheby’s International RealtyAbout Vermont Country Properties Sotheby’s InternationalAs the largest resort and vacation home real estate agency in the state, Vermont Country Properties Sotheby’s International Realty is a proven expert in buying, selling and renting Vermont homes, Vermont ski homes, ski-in/ski-out condos, equestrian estates, buildable land and more. Offering unparalleled seller and buyer representation, VCP offers local expertise coupled with unmatched regional, national and global connections obtained through a worldwide network. With representatives and offices throughout the state, Vermont Country Properties Sotheby’s International Realty are long-time Vermont residents with a deep and abiding love for Vermont, its towns and people. For more information, please visit VermontCountryProperties.com.
EPA Region 1 will hold a public hearing Feb. 26, 2014 in our downtown Boston office to get public input on proposed standards for the amount of air pollution that can be emitted by new woodstoves and other residential wood heaters. The first phase of the proposed emission standards would likely apply to units manufactured and sold beginning in 2015.Smoke from residential wood heaters can increase air pollution from soot (also known as fine particle pollution) and toxic pollutants to levels that pose serious health concerns. Particle pollution is linked to a range of serious health effects, including heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks. In some areas of New England, residential wood smoke significantly reduces air quality in winter months.EPA’s proposed standards would make the next generation of wood stoves and heaters an estimated 80 percent cleaner than those manufactured today, resulting in cleaner air and improved public health across the country. The proposal would not affect wood heaters and stoves currently in use in homes or currently being sold in stores.More information:- EPA’s current and proposed standards for wood heaters (http://www2.epa.gov/residential-wood-heaters(link is external))- Register to speak at Feb. 26 public hearing in Boston (http://www2.epa.gov/residential-wood-heaters/forms/public-hearing-propos…(link is external) )- How to maximize efficiency and protect your family using any wood stove or fireplace (http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/bestburn.html(link is external))- Cleaner wood appliances; good burning practices; wood stove change-out programs; and other actions to reduce emissions from wood heaters: (http://epa.gov/burnwise(link is external))(Boston, Mass. ‘ Jan. 23, 2014) ‘ EPA‘
by Morgan True vtdigger.org Negotiations for a second massive information technology project with the tech giant CGI officially fell through last week, state officials said. Vermont canceled its request for bids on the Integrated Eligibility ‘IE’ Solution Project on January 24. The project is meant to provide tracking and eligibility systems across programs administered by the Agency of Human Services.CGI was the only company to bid on the contract, said Doug Racine, secretary of the Agency of Human Services, and the state felt it needed more options.‘This is a big project and we need to explore our options to make sure we get the best vendor possible,’ he said.Racine said CGI’s poor work performance on the state’s health care exchange website was a factor in the decision to cancel and reissue the request for bids.The IE solutions project is much larger than building the IT systems for the exchange, and estimates of that contract’s value range as high as $100 million.VTDigger initially reported that negotiations with CGI stalled in December, amid ongoing frustration over the company’s spotty work on the Vermont Health Connect website.Vermont has paid CGI $19.3 million of the $83.7 million total for the exchange contract, said Mark Larson, commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access.Larson said he expects CGI to complete the work set out in its contract, but left open the possibility that the agreement could be amended.Vermont has collected the maximum $5.1 million in penalties for missed deadlines allowed by the contract. It’s unclear what might happen if CGI walked away from the contract without completing the work.CGI has ‘demonstrated the intent’ to complete the work demanded by its current contract, Larson said.‘CGI remains fully committed to delivering the robust functionality desired for Vermonters by Vermont Health Connect, using the most qualified staff needed to accomplish the work,’ a company spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.Larson does not have any ‘specific concerns at this time’ about CGI’s staffing level for the team working on Vermont Health Connect, he said.‘I know that they continue to rotate staff, and we have conversations about their staff rotations on a regular basis,’ he said.CGI’s contract is broken down into four categories that include design development and implementation of the exchange site, worth $32 million of which $5.7 million has been paid; premium processing, worth $2.6 million of which $448,000 has been paid; integrating the exchange site with other agency information systems, worth $18.8 million of which $3.7 million has been paid; and ongoing maintenance and operation of the site, worth $30 million of which $9.4 million has been paid.Vermont has the option to extend the ongoing maintenance and operation portion for an additional two years beyond what is covered by the current contract, Larson said.The exchange website lacks critical functionalities: small business employers cannot yet use it; users cannot make changes to applications, and the online payment feature still does not work.Part of the reason the state needed to cancel its request for bids on the IE solutions project was to ensure the work CGI is doing to integrate the Vermont Health Connect with the Agency of Human Services other systems isn’t duplicated, said Richard Boes, commissioner of the Department of Information and Innovation, which has an oversight role for large technology contracts.Overhauling ACCESS, the state’s legacy IBM mainframe operating system created in the early 1980s, is still a priority, Racine said, but since the original RFP went out in November 2012, his agency has expanded its vision for what services the system would integrate.Currently, the system doesn’t allow food stamps, fuel assistance and Medicaid to share information. This project would integrate those programs, he said.‘What we’re trying to get to is better case management,’ Racine said.The revised RFP for the project is expected to be released in March.
Porter Medical Center, Inc,The nurses of the Porter Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (PFNHP) voted to ratify their first contract with an overwhelming majority on Monday. The group had reached a tentative agreement with the Porter Medical Center (PMC) in Middlebury last week. This contract is their first, after the nurses voted to form their union a year ago. The contract took effect upon ratification (December 23, 2014) and will continue through September 30, 2017.Reflecting on the vote to ratify the contract, AFT Vermont President Ben Johnson said, “We welcome Porter nurses into AFT Vermont and we congratulate them on their historic win.”Janet Mosurick, RN, celebrated the vote, saying, “Two years of planning dreaming and hard work ended up to be a great accomplishment that led to the reality a first nursing contract for the hospital where I am proud to work.””The delivery of healthcare is better for a community when workers and management can bargain over issues affecting patients, and that’s what happened here. The issues addressed in this first contract were the catalyst for the RNs to form a union so they would have an avenue to discuss ways to improve patient and working conditions.Ensuring patient safety is a top priority for all nurses, including those at Porter Medical Center. Forced overtime and chaotic schedules put patients and nurses at risk. The agreement ratified on Monday will minimize that risk, ensuring that nurses work under safe and sane working conditions and patients get the high-quality care they deserve,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten, upon hearing of the contract approval.The nurses of PFNHP prioritized safe patient care in their bargaining platform. They will now have six staffing committees to address staffing recommendations and safe staffing issues. There are serious limits in the use of mandatory overtime. The nurses won guarantees that they will be consulted and fully trained on all new equipment before it is put into use.The nurses also bargained a wage scale that will, over time, correct the vast inequities in wages at Porter Medical Center. Another key win is guaranteed paid certifications for continuing education. PFNHP is confident these wins will improve patient care at PMC as well as improve recruitment and retention.The Porter Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals is a professional union representing the Registered Nurses at Porter Medical Center. PFNHP is committed to advancing quality patient care & our nursing practice.Source: American Federation of Teachers 12.23.2014
Citizens Bank,As part of an ongoing commitment to programs that give people the confidence and tools they need to budget, save, invest and be fiscally healthy, Citizens Bank is now accepting applications from Vermont nonprofits for financial literacy programs that teach good financial practices. Through January 30, organizations throughout the bank’s 11-state footprint are invited to submit an application for up to $50,000 in funding as part of the bank’s Citizens Helping Citizens Manage Money program. Eligible Financial Literacy Activities include:· Basics of banking and asset building· Budgeting· Homeownership counseling· Foreclosure prevention· Credit management and repair programs· Financial management for small businessesIn 2014, Citizens awarded 108 nonprofit organizations more than $1.7 million in contributions through the Citizens Helping Citizens Manage Money financial literacy initiative. In addition to providing funding, Citizens Financial Group colleagues facilitated financial literacy workshops and the program included a social media initiative to celebrate “Money Mentors,” and an online financial literacy resource center(link is external) dedicated to encouraging healthy financial habits.To receive consideration for funding, eligible nonprofits in the communities served by Citizens Bank and Charter One should submit an online application by January 30, 2015. Recipients will be announced in March 2015. For more information on nonprofit programs and services that may qualify for funding, or how to submit an application, please visit www.cybergrants.com/citizens/chcmanagemoney(link is external).Source: Citizens. 1.14.2015
10:00am – 12:00pm Group break-out sessions with coaches 12:00pm – 1:00pm Lunch (State House Cafeteria) 1:00pm – 6:00pm Group break-out sessions with coaches 6:00pm – 12:00am Voluntary work session time (at a Montpelier venue to be determined)Sunday, NOVEMBER 15, 20159:00am – 10:00am Working breakfast (State House Cafeteria) 10:00am – 11:00am Finalize proposals 11:00am – 12:00pm Proposal presentations (House Chamber) 12:30pm – 1:30pm Wrap-up and Awards Specific event details are available at vtlegithon.org(link is external). 7:00pm – 8:00pm Welcome Remarks (House Chamber) Shap Smith, Speaker of the House(link is external) John Campbell, President Pro Tempore(link is external) 8:00pm – 10:00pm Working Session (House Camber) Introduction to the Legislative Process Form Groups & Discuss Topics Saturday, NOVEMBER 14, 20159:00am – 10:00am Working breakfast (State House Cafeteria) Vermont Business Magazine House Speaker Shap Smith and Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell today announced the first ever “Legithon,” an intensive policy collaboration conference that will bring together Vermont students, academic leaders, business people, legal professionals and lawmakers to develop technology and economic development proposals. Drawing on models from events like Hackathons and the Start Up Weekend, the Legithon will bring together a diverse group to participate in an exciting weekend of work and learning. The goal is to educate the public on legislative processes by developing model proposals for economic development policy and legislative action.Shap Smith and John Campbell at a Vermont Chamber event in February 2014. VBM file photo.“Vermonters are smart, resourceful people who want to work together to shape the state’s future,” said House Speaker Shap Smith. “The Legithon is an exciting opportunity to unite Vermont’s brightest minds for a common purpose. I am excited to co-host these meetings, and to share ideas as we work to grow jobs and create a strong future for Vermont.”“The Legithon is a great, new way to bring creative minds together and collaborate under one roof. The business community continues to become more technology oriented and I believe this event is a wonderful opportunity to connect young Vermonters with some of our great technology companies here in Vermont,” said President Pro Tem John Campbell.The weekend long Legithon will be held at the Vermont State House starting Friday, November 13. Attendees will form workgroups to collaborate through the duration of the weekend, culminating with the creation and presentation of proposals on Sunday, November 15. The Gruter Institute for Law and Behavioral Research and Vermont Law School will facilitate the Legithon in conjunction with legislators and stakeholders.“We are thrilled to take part in this first-of-its-kind event,” noted Representative Bill Botzow and Senator Kevin Mullin, the chairs of their respective chambers’ economic development committees. “The Legithon has the potential to significantly inform the committee process we undertake each year. We are excited for this opportunity to brainstorm new, innovative policies for Vermont.”Following the event, the organizers will publicize the participants’ proposals through the event’s web-presence and other channels. The sponsors plan to develop a “how to” manual that can act as a design tool for further iterations of Legithon events.SCHEDULE OF EVENTSUnless otherwise specified, all events will be at the Vermont State Capitol Building. SCHEDULEFriday, NOVEMBER 13, 20156:00pm – 7:00pm Registration and Welcome Supper (State House Cafeteria)