Current News

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Vermont Business Magazine Several business leaders from across Vermont convened for an afternoon of testimony before the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee on Friday, February 23, 2024. The hearing underscored the critical role of manufacturing as an economic driver of Vermont’s economy, while also highlighting the opportunities and challenges unique to manufacturing in Vermont. The committee’s Chair also recognized Chris Carrigan, Vice President of Business Development, for his 16 years of service to the industry. In his opening testimony, Chris Carrigan elevated the Vermont Chamber’s work on supportive tax policies and transforming the state into a supply chain hub by bringing buyers, suppliers, and partners together. 

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Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Department of Corrections today announced the death of Alfred Brochu, an incarcerated individual at Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility (TCCF). Alfred Brochu, 71, of Newport, Vermont, was found unresponsive in his cell at 12:14pm (CST) on Sunday, February 25. TCCF medical staff immediately began life-saving measures and called for emergency medical services. Mr. Brochu regained consciousness and was taken by ambulance to Northwest Delta Regional Medical Center (NDRMC) in Clarksdale, Mississippi, where he was listed in critical condition. Mr. Brochu passed away at NDRMC at 12:32am (CST). Mr. Brochu’s death does not appear suspicious at this time. Mr. Brochu was incarcerated in 2003 and serving a Life Without Parole sentence on charges of Aggravated Murder.

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Vermont State Police A suspect has been arrested in connection with the Jan. 23, 2024, fatal shooting of 38-year-old Christina Chatlos in St. Johnsbury. The suspect, a 15-year-old male from Springfield, Massachusetts, will be charged as an adult in Vermont with second-degree murder. He is accused of fatally shooting Chatlos during a confrontation outside 510 Portland St. in St. Johnsbury. The suspect initially was taken into custody after the shooting on an unrelated warrant from the state of Massachusetts. He was extradited there and remained in juvenile custody as the investigation into the St. Johnsbury homicide progressed. On Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, the Massachusetts State Police arrested the suspect on the Vermont murder warrant. He was expected to make an initial appearance later Monday in juvenile court in Hampden County, Massachusetts.

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by Brian Shupe, Executive Director, VNRC I’m writing to let you know that after nearly 13 years in what is arguably the best job in Vermont, I’ve decided to step down as the executive director of VNRC. While I’m looking forward to the next chapter in my life, the honor and pleasure of having worked closely with such talented and dedicated colleagues, and a committed and supportive Board, makes this a bittersweet decision for me. In what has truly been a team effort, VNRC has grown stronger and more effective since I assumed this role in October 2011, and we have a long list of accomplishments.

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Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Superior Court Environmental Division has once again rejected an appeal by opponents of the proposed housing community on Alice Holway Drive in Putney. The ruling by Superior Court Judge Thomas S. Durkin states that, “to find that the project is subject to Act 250 jurisdiction…merely because of the presence of a Class III road, would be an irrational and impermissibly strict reading of the statute that stymies the legislature’s intent to encourage mixed income housing in designated areas.” The Judgement Order, issued on Thursday, granted Windham & Windsor Housing Trust’s motion for summary judgement in the case, and denied the summary judgement motion by the Appellants. This latest decision is the third ruling in a lengthy legal process that began in March 2022 when an appeal was filed contesting the permit and delaying progress of the 25-unit mixed income development.

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Vermont Business Magazine Average gasoline prices in Vermont are $3.24 per gallon, unchanged from last week. The lowest price in the state yesterday was $2.95/g while the highest was $3.39/g, a difference of 44.0 cents per gallon. The national average price of gasoline has fallen 1.9 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $3.24/g today. While prices are holding now, they are soon expected to rise again.

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Devon Green, VP of Government Relations, VAHHS A huge thank you to the House Health Care and House Human Services Committees and their chairs, Rep. Lori Houghton and Rep. Theresa Wood, for holding a joint hearing last week on the systemwide impact of patients who cannot get to the appropriate level of care due to a fragile post-acute and long term care system. Dr. Stephen Leffler, President and COO of the UVM Medical Center, underscored how the inability to discharge patients to a skilled nursing facility reverberates throughout the health care system with smaller hospitals unable to transfer their sickest patients to the UVM Medical Center and emergency departments filling up with long-stay patients. The message from hospitals, skilled nursing, and home health was unified: invest in post-acute and long-term care.

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Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets The Weights & Measures Section of the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets will be hosting multiple scale inspection events around the state for anyone who uses a scale at farmers’ markets or farm stands to sell produce or other commodities. The testing and licensing of these scales is required by law. Anyone interested in getting their scales tested should first fill out an application form. This will allow the Agency to perform inspections in a more efficient and less disruptive manner.

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Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies In the 1960s, craft beer found its way to the United States, and two decades later, craft whiskey followed suit. Today, over two-thousand independent whiskey distilleries exist in the country. Yet, for Lost Lantern co-founders Adam “Apolon” Polonski and Nora Ganley-Roper, something was missing. Drawing inspiration from the centuries-old independent bottling model in Scotland, Lost Lantern purchases barrels from distilleries and sells these spirits under their own label. Unlike independent distilleries, bottlers have broader distributions and the ability to craft uniquely layered whiskeys, blending flavors for added complexity. And few people know whiskey as well as Polonski and Ganley-Roper. 

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by Brooke Burns, Community News Service In the aftermath of Vermont’s catastrophic flooding last summer, legislators have been volleying ideas to better protect homeowners and ask for more transparency in the flood history of properties on the market. A House bill seeks to do so by requiring sellers to disclose the flood history and risks of their properties to potential buyers. Lead sponsor Rep. Thomas Stevens, D-Waterbury, introduced bill H.639 to the House Committee on General and Housing on Jan. 12 after constituents told him they did not know their homes had already been impacted by flooding during and after 2011’s Tropical Storm Irene.

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by Holly Sullivan, Community News Service As Vermont grapples with rising homelessness rates and a choked housing market, some House lawmakers are training their focus on easing a particularly hard transition for people facing so much uncertainty already: young people without homes or leaving foster care who want to go to college. H.717, introduced on Jan. 17 by Rep. Jubilee McGill, D-Bridport, would require Vermont postsecondary schools to provide students who are homeless or exiting foster care with certain fee waivers, prioritize them for open campus housing and class enrollment and create official liaisons to help those students navigate the college world. 

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by Tom Pelham In February 1997, Vermont’s Supreme Court found “the current system for funding public education in Vermont, with its substantial dependence on local property taxes and resultant wide disparities in revenues available to local school districts” is in violation of the Vermont Constitution. In response, in June 1997, the Vermont Legislature and Governor enacted the Equal Educational Opportunity Act—Act 60— a Vermont law intended to achieve a fair balance of educational spending across school districts independent of the degree of prosperity within each district. Act 60 was followed by Acts 68 and 130, which addressed some imbalances caused by Act 60.  Acts 68 and 130, established a system to pool the state's educational budgetary requirements from across jurisdictions and pay for them, in part, with pooled statewide property taxes.