Current News

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by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Department of Labor reported today that the seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate for April was 2.1 percent. This reflects a decrease of one-tenth of one percentage point from the prior month’s revised estimate. The employment report was bolstered by an increase in the Labor Force and Total Employment, while Total Unemployment declined. The comparable United States rate in April was 3.9 percent, an increase of one-tenth of one percentage point from the revised March estimate. Vermont has the third lowest rate in the nation, one-tenth higher than North and South Dakota. California has the highest rate at 5.3 percent.

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by Mike Donoghue, Vermont News First, Vermont Business Magazine The former chair and vice chair of the Woodstock Foundation want to add legal claims of unjust enrichment and a breach of fiduciary duty to their lawsuit against former trustees after learning one of the defendants was paid almost $1.5 million in recent years without full board approval, new court records maintain. Defendant Trustee John T. Hallowell received at least $1,472,951 pay from the Foundation plus substantial other benefits, including free luxury housing between 2018 and 2022, according to papers filed in Vermont Superior Court in Woodstock last week. Ellen R.C. Pomeroy, the former Foundation chair, and Salvatore Iannuzzi, the former vice chair, also want the defendant trustees to stop using Foundation funds to pay for their legal fees while fighting the current lawsuit.

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Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott today named Amanda Wheeler, of Bradford, as his press secretary, effective Monday, May 20. She will now serve as the primary contact for press inquiries for the Governor’s Office. Wheeler replaces Jason Maulucci, who has served in the role since January of 2021. Maulucci will depart the Governor’s Office next week to lead the Governor’s reelection efforts as campaign manager.

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Vermont Business Magazine The Attorney General’s Office announced that Benjamin Mallery, 32, of Sheffield, Vermont, was sentenced yesterday in Vermont Superior Court, Caledonia Criminal Division, after pleading guilty to one felony count of Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials. The Court, Judge Michael Kainen presiding, sentenced the defendant on May 16, 2024, by agreement to 18 months to 5 years in jail all suspended with a 10-year term of probation with conditions that require a treatment regimen for sex offenders, restricts access to pornography and the internet, and requires that any contact with minors be supervised.

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Vermont Business Magazine Today Senator Jane Kitchel (D-Caledonia) announced her retirement from the Vermont Senate after 20 years of service. Kitchel has served as chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations since 2011, after having served as vice chair since 2005, and as a member of the Senate Committee on Transportation since 2005. In April of 2024, she was elected by the Senate to the position of third member on the Committee on Committees. She is the first woman to hold this position and the first woman elected to represent her district in the Senate.

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Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott today announced that Secretary Kristin Clouser will be leaving her role leading the Agency of Administration next week. Secretary Clouser was first appointed by Governor Scott as deputy secretary of the Agency in November of 2020. In December of 2021, he named Clouser secretary of administration. Prior to her appointment, she served as the chief of the Human Services Division of the Vermont Attorney General’s Office and general counsel to the Agency of Human Services. Secretary Clouser’s last day will be May 24. Deputy Secretary Sarah Clark will serve as interim secretary.

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Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) has taken a proactive step to safeguard the state's ecosystems from the threat of invasive plant species. Recognizing the significant risks posed by non-native invasive plants and utilizing existing statutory authority, Vermont Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts has declared eight new plant species as plant pests. This list includes Kudzu, Mile-a-Minute, Japanese Stiltgrass, Porcelain Berry, Wineberry, Waterwheel, Water Hyacinth and Water Soldier. These designated plant species are not native to Vermont and present an ecological and/or economic threat to Vermont.

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Vermont Captive Insurance Association #VCIA2024 Conference registration has opened to be where the captive world comes to meet August 12-14th in Burlington. #VCIA2024 provides a wide-ranging captive curriculum led by preeminent speakers covering the latest captive trends/emerging risks, including cyber and AI, nuclear verdicts, creative uses for captives, and how to successfully form and maintain a captive with evolving regulatory standards. 

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Vermont Business Magazine May 18, 2023, JAG Productions has announced their next production as part of JAG Underground: WHY HAVE I NEVER HEARD OF YOU?, an immersive night of cabaret and storytelling for audience members in Hanover’s only speakeasy (for a weekend, anyway), Sawtooth Kitchen. Since its inception, JAG Productions has built a reputation for not only top-tier theatrical performance but for radical inclusivity, community engagement, and powerful, spiritual spaces that evoke the sense of stepping into a new world for an evening. For the evenings of May 18th and 19th, JAG is blowing open the confines of a traditional theater set and is transforming Sawtooth Kitchen into a speakeasy.  

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Vermont Business Magazine The Department for Children and Families (DCF) announced today that the state will develop a secure youth treatment center, the Green Mountain Youth Campus in Vergennes. Situated off Comfort Hill Road on state-owned property, the Green Mountain Youth Campus will focus on rehabilitation and advanced therapeutic interventions. Specifically designed for Vermont's justice-involved youth grappling with complex trauma and treatment requirements beyond community resources, this venture aims to provide essential support where it's needed most.  

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Vermont Business Magazine Today, Rep. Becca Balint introduced the Mental Health Emergency Needs in Disasters (MEND) Act. Following the devastating 2023 flooding in Vermont and as we face a growing climate crisis, Rep. Balint is introducing federal legislation to provide communities with the mental health support they need in disaster recovery. Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón (PR-AL) joins Rep. Balint as a co-lead of the bill, a display of bipartisan support for robust disaster recovery. While there is often a focus on infrastructure repairs, it is as important to establish systems of mental health care impacted communities. Unfortunately, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has limited resources to address mental health needs following a disaster. The MEND Act builds on successful pilot programs to expand effective, tailored services for communities impacted by disasters. This bill aims to reach directly into the community to support victims, victims’ families, and the community at large.

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Vermont Business Magazine U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vermont) led a group of senators in calling on Congress to fund the Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program (Community Forest Program or CFP) in the upcoming FY25 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. Created in the 2008 Farm Bill and administered by the U.S. Forest Service, the Community Forest Program helps local government entities, tribes, and non-profit conservation organizations purchase forestland for local ownership and management. In FY24, CFP received $5.5 million. However, applications for CFP in FY24 exceeded $12 million. Despite increasing demand, funding for this program has not kept pace to support local conservation, boost the economy, and provide recreational, health, and educational benefits for local communities.