News in Brief February 2020

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News in Brief February 2020

Sun, 03/08/2020 - 11:00am -- tim

Vermont to get hike in minimum wage

On February 25, the Vermont House overrode Governor Scott’s veto of S.23, increasing the state’s minimum wage effective in 2021. The vote passed 100-49, and followed the Senate’s Feb. 13 vote to override the veto 24-6. The bill will raise the state’s minimum wage to $11.75 in 2021 and to $12.55 in 2022, and ties minimum wage increases to inflation after those years. The current minimum wage in Vermont is $10.96 per hour. The federal minimum wage for 2020 is $7.25.

After hours on the floor debating the merits and economic impacts of the legislation a roll call vote commenced and on a razor thin margin of 100-49, the House joined the Senate in voting to override the governor’s veto. This was only the 11th time in Vermont history that a veto override has been successful. 

Scott's veto of paid family and medical leave bill sustained

Governor Scott's veto of H107, a bill that would have created a mandatory paid family leave insurance program financed by a two percent payroll tax, was sustained. The bill has been a top priority for House Democrats, and the override vote was expected to be very close. Scott vetoed the bill on January 31 and it was sustained by one vote on February 5.

The bill guarantees up to 12 weeks of paid parental or bonding leave and up to 8 weeks of paid family care leave. The bill also contained the opportunity for individuals to opt-in to a personal medical leave policy for up to 6 weeks. Governor Phil Scott has consistently vowed to veto a mandatory family leave bill and has proposed a voluntary plan. The House needed 100 votes to override a veto.

Advocacy groups that have championed the initiative expressed concern that the conference bill does not provide temporary disability insurance or enough public oversight of the program. Business groups opposed it largely based on the 0.2 percent payroll tax (a total of about $29 million) needed to fund the program. The opt-in medical leave would require a 0.38 payroll tax.

Scott proposes $6.3 billion budget

Governor Phil Scott has presented his fourth budget to the Legislature. He once again emphasized affordability and demographic challenges. As his predecessors have done for the last 30 years, he presented a $6.3 billion balanced budget, but one that limits spending growth to a total of just 2 percent across all funds. Scott acknowledged that even with such a frugal spending plan, the budget shortfall was still around $70 million.

His budget also does not raise taxes or service fees paid by Vermonters, such as drivers’ license, vehicle registrations, permit application, park admission or hunting and fishing fees. The fiscal year 2021 $6.3 billion total spending package includes $4.2 billion in state spending and $2.1 billion from the federal government. The General Fund (supported by the personal income and corporate taxes among others) would total $1.7 billion, an increase of 2.8 percent from FY2020 or $46 million. The Legislature ultimately writes the budget

Tax revenues maintain positive performance

Revenue collections continued to show strength in the personal income tax, rooms & meals tax and even the sales tax for the month of December 2019. Meanwhile, the corporate tax followed recent behavior with a wild swing, this time down, and the Transportation Fund-related revenues disappointed again.

General Fund revenues collected for the month totaled $137.94 million, or $5.11 million above the monthly consensus revenue target, which is tied to the annual consensus revenue forecast adopted by the Emergency Board on July 29, 2019. Year to date, General Fund revenues exceeded their target by $15.40 million, or 2.12%.

The Transportation Fund was -$.65 million, or -2.98%, below expectations for the month, bringing in $21.29 million. Year-to-date, the Transportation Fund is below target; -$.62 million, or -.45% below the consensus forecast.

The Education Fund was $1.03 million, or 2.46%, above its monthly target, having collected $42.84 million for the month. Year-to-date, the Education Fund is $2.41 million, or .87%, above consensus forecast.

On January 16, 2020, the Emergency Board revised the general fund revenue forecast and increased projected revenues into the fund by 1.2%,1.0% and 0.5% in FY20, FY21 and FY22 respectively.

Unemployment rate holds at 2.3 percent for December

The December 2019 unemployment rate was unchanged from last month at 2.3 percent, but the three major data points were all worse from November and both the Labor Force and Employment were worse from a year ago. However, the Unemployment numbers from last year improved by over thousand and the rate itself is down three-tenths. The preliminary data released in December shows a labor force participation rate of 65.6 percent which is the lowest statewide level since September 1977. The seasonally-adjusted Vermont data for December show the Vermont civilian labor force decreased by 946 from the prior month’s revised estimate. The number of employed persons decreased by 1,021 and the number of unemployed persons increased by 75. The comparable United States unemployment rate in December was 3.5 percent, which was also unchanged from the revised November estimate. Vermont continues to have the lowest rate in the nation, tied with South Carolina and Utah. New Hampshire is number 6 at 2.6 percent.

Zuckerman to run for governor

Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman has announced that he will run for governor. Progressive Zuckerman, from Hinesburg, is a farmer and two-term lieutenant governor. Democrat Rebecca Holcombe previously announced her candidacy. Republican Governor Phil Scott is expected to seek a third term but has not made a formal announcement. With Zuckerman announcing, Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe (D/P-Burlington) announced he would run for lieutenant governor, as did Senator Deb Ingram (D-Williston), thus opening up two of the six Chittenden Senate seats.

Supreme Court affirms the sale of Burlington Telecom

The Vermont Supreme Court has issued a unanimous decision in its review of an appeal of the Vermont Public Utility Commission (PUC)’s order approving the sale of Burlington Telecom to Champlain Broadband, a subsidiary of Schurz Communications of Indiana. The Court ruled: “Upending the sales transaction reached by petitioners in this proceeding would likely impose additional financial burdens on Burlington Telecom customers and City taxpayers. Moreover, beyond disruptions to Burlington Telecom’s workforce and customers and a reduction in Burlington Telecom’s value to potential purchasers, unwinding the transaction could potentially have negative financial impact on City taxpayers due to the City’s obligations to Citibank… Simply put, given the PUC’s past orders, the record supports the PUC’s conclusion that the petition promotes the public good.”

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger felt compelled to sell the municipal telecom because of heavy debt and illegal payments made by the city under a prior administration to cover BT’s budget deficit.

Vermont ski areas enjoy record MLK holiday weekend

Ski areas across Vermont saw record levels of business over the Martin Luther King, Jr, holiday weekend, thanks to timely snowstorms that resulted in prime conditions for skiing and snowboarding. Sugarbush Resort enjoyed the “biggest day” in its 61-year history on Sunday. Meanwhile, Jay Peak welcomed the largest number of skiers and riders it has seen in three seasons. A sizeable snowstorm midweek was followed by another powder dump from Saturday into Sunday – setting Vermont ski areas up with ideal conditions for the second leg of the ski industry “triple crown” between the Christmas holiday period and President’s Week.

State awards $11 million to nonprofits working to restore water quality

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has awarded nearly $11 million in water infrastructure financing to fund conservation and restoration projects that will protect and restore Vermont’s water quality. These projects will reduce water pollution and protect water quality by conserving key forests, lakes, rivers, and wetlands throughout the state.

The Trust for Public Land received financing for the conservation of two properties: a 2,562-acre inholding in Green Mountain National Forest in Chittenden, Killington and Mendon, known as Rolston Rest, and a 1,768-acre property in Middlesex and Worcester, known as the Hunger Mountain Headwaters project.

The Vermont Land Trust received money for the conservation of 6,641 acres in the Worcester Woods, a property located on both sides of Route 12 in Worcester and Elmore.

AG settles with former manager of Spring Village

Attorney General TJ Donovan has reached a settlement with Maryland-based Woodbine Senior Living, LLC, for violations of Vermont’s Consumer Protection Act. Woodbine was the manager of a 56-bed residential care home called Spring Village at Essex in Essex Junction. The settlement resolves claims that, under Woodbine’s management, Spring Village—a “memory care” home—misrepresented to families of prospective residents that it would be able to care for their loved ones at all stages of dementia and aging.

Woodbine has agreed to: Never again operate a long-term care facility in Vermont; Pay $62,000 to the State of Vermont; Pay $48,000, in total, to 48 consumers (each receiving $1,000) who moved family members to Spring Village during the time period April 2016 to October 2017; and Pay $10,000 to the Vermont Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association for its statewide care and support program initiatives for individuals impacted by Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias.

Sixty new apartments open in South Burlington

City and State leaders have clipped the ribbon on 60 new apartments in South Burlington as part of a long-planned – and now coming to life – new City Center. The apartments, named Garden Street Apartments, were developed by Snyder Braverman Development Company with an agreement to sell the building to the Champlain Housing Trust and Housing Vermont. The apartments will remain affordable forever.

Nearly a quarter of the funding for the development – $3.9 million – came from the proceeds from Housing for All revenue bond proposed by Governor Phil Scott and enacted by the Legislature in 2017.

rk Miles acquires Allen Lumber

r.k. Miles, Inc, a third-generation, family-owned building materials supplier based in Manchester Center with locations in Vermont and Massachusetts, has announced that the company will be acquiring Allen Lumber, Inc. with locations in Barre, Montpelier, Waitsfield, and St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Allen Lumber Company, a fifth-generation family-owned business since 1888, has a longstanding, proud tradition of providing quality service, hardware and building materials throughout northeastern Vermont.

People’s United completes sale of Two Burlington Square to Nedde

People’s United Bank, NA, a subsidiary of People’s United Financial, Inc. (NASDAQ: PBCT), has completed the sale of its Two Burlington Square location in Vermont, effective December 31, 2019, to Nedde Real Estate. People’s United Bank will continue to maintain its Vermont headquarters at this location, including a full-service branch, drive-up banking services and three floors of office space. This is the former Chittenden Bank headquarters on Bank Street.

VEDA closed $16.6 million in new loans last quarter

The Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) approved over $9 million in new financing for Vermont businesses and farms this past quarter, a $4 million increase in volume over the same quarter last year. The new financing includes continued investment in Vermont’s small business sector, the first approval for VEDA’s Broadband Expansion Loan Program, and an exciting new business accelerator project in the Northeast Kingdom.

President signs disaster declaration for Halloween storm

President Donald Trump has signed a Major Disaster declaration for public infrastructure damage caused by severe storms and flooding throughout Vermont, which occurred on October 31 and November 1, 2019. The declaration will provide federal assistance for repairs to public infrastructure in Addison, Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans and Washington counties. Vermont officials identified more than $6 million in storm damages to public infrastructure statewide. Municipalities and qualifying non-profits like public utilities in the counties above are eligible to receive 75% federal reimbursement for storm response and recovery. Those costs include debris removal and repairs to public roads, bridges and other infrastructure with storm damage.

EPA providing more than $230,000 to Vermont for wetlands projects

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced more than $230,000 in grants to the state of Vermont for state-led programs and projects that will protect, manage and restore wetlands across the state. The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) received $190,944 in grants and the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department received $45,000. EPA expects to award a second round of these grants in the same amounts later this year.

Municipal electric utilities offer incentives to reduce GHG

The Vermont Public Power Supply Authority (VPPSA) has announced several new rebate offerings to help customers of its municipal electric utility members adopt clean technology. Beginning January 1, 2020, customers can get more money back for heating, traveling, and even taking care of yard work using efficient electric appliances. To combat greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, which account for 47% of Vermont’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, VPPSA has increased electric vehicle rebate incentives and expanded offerings to include pre-owned vehicles and charging equipment. VPPSA member utility customers who purchase or lease an electric vehicle in 2020 can receive $1,000 back, increased from $800 in 2019. Customers who purchase or lease a plug-in hybrid can receive $500 back, increased from $400 in 2019.

PUC urges action on fuel oil and gasoline efficiencies

The Vermont Public Utility Commission has issued a preliminary report addressing the question of how to deliver energy efficiency for all fuels. The report compares the success of the long-established, statewide efficiency programs for regulated fuels (electricity and natural gas) with the uncoordinated, inadequately funded efficiency approaches for unregulated fuels (fuel oil, propane, diesel, and gasoline).

Maple industry should focus on value-added, health attributes, go global

In response to a work request issued by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets (VAAFM), Atlantic Corporation performed extensive market research on Vermont maple syrup and value-added maple products to determine market conditions, trends in consumer demand, and current distribution channels with an eye towards the most advantageous strategies for Vermont maple producers to be competitive in a global market.

GW Plastics completes expansion in Royalton

In response to its growing medical device business, advanced contract manufacturing and injection molding company GW Plastics, Inc. has completed the latest expansion of its Royalton, Vermont Manufacturing and Technology Center. GW Plastics has added a 30,000 ft² expansion to accommodate the growth of its thermoplastic injection molding and medical device contract assembly business.

The expansion includes a new 13,000 ft² Class 8 cleanroom capable of housing an additional 30 injection molding machines. This expansion also includes an additional 17,000 ft² of warehousing space. GW Plastics has added over 30 new jobs and invested more than $10 million in construction, new technology, and equipment. The expanded facilities will accommodate immediate growth for GW Plastics’ thermoplastic molding business and will allow the company to expand affiliate GW Silicones’ cleanroom molding operations.

30 groups present a 2020 plan for climate action in Vermont

At the Vermont State House in January, 30 Vermont organizations presented a policy plan for climate action in 2020. The four legislative priorities include: Enacting a Global Warming Solutions Act that enables and requires state government to achieve climate emissions reductions, by holding the state accountable to developing and implementing a plan that will meet our commitment to the Paris Climate Accord by 2025 and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050; Making a commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2030 to move our state infrastructure away from imported fossil fuels and strengthen our local economy; Modernizing Vermont’s energy efficiency utilities, enabling them to focus on reducing climate pollution through innovative new technologies while reducing the cost burden by helping low- and moderate-income Vermonters access cleaner, healthier, and more affordable heating and transportation solutions; and, Participating in a just, equitable implementation of the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), a regional effort to reduce climate pollution by placing a cap on emissions from fossil fuel companies and using revenue raised to help participating states invest in cleaner transportation options.

Union Bankshares reports record earnings for FY19

Union Bankshares, Inc (NASDAQ - UNB) has announced results for the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2019. Net income was $2.8 million and $10.6 million for the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2019, resulting in earnings per share of $0.61 and $2.38 for the same periods, respectively. The Board of Directors also declared a cash dividend of $0.32 per share for the quarter, an increase of 3.2% from the cash dividend of $0.31 paid in recent prior quarters, payable February 6, 2020 to shareholders of record as of January 27, 2020.

State files lawsuit against Berkshire farm for agricultural violations

The Vermont AG has filed a lawsuit against Pleasant Valley Farms of Berkshire, LLC and its operators Mark St Pierre and Amanda St Pierre for violations of Vermont’s agricultural laws and regulations.  In the Complaint, the State alleges that, in 2017, Pleasant Valley Farms and the St Pierres expanded an existing barn at the Lumbra Farm without obtaining any necessary permits and approvals and without providing required advanced notice to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. The barn is alleged to have increased in size from around 13,000 square feet to approximately 104,000 square feet (roughly 2.4 acres). The barn went from approximately 120 feet long to approximately 825 feet long.

In addition to the unpermitted barn expansion, the State alleges that Pleasant Valley Farms and the St Pierres also built a 10-million-gallon manure pit, capable of accommodating waste for more than 1,500 mature dairy cows, at the Lumbra Farm without required notice or advanced approval.

Mascoma completes $2 million funding to provide home for BCA

Mascoma Community Development (MCD) has announced the successful closing of $2 million in New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation to support the development of a community arts center at 405 Pine Street (Burlington City Arts Foundation/Burlington City Arts) in Burlington. The space will become the permanent home of Burlington City Arts’ (BCA) programs and services. The new center will become a local cornerstone for nurturing creativity and imagination through the arts.

Captive insurance industry continued growth in 2019

The State of Vermont licensed twenty-two new captive insurance companies in 2019, according to data released by the Department of Financial Regulation. The Department has licensed a total of 1,159 captive insurance companies since the 1980s and now regulates 585 licensed captives, making Vermont the largest U.S. domicile for captive insurance by a wide margin and third largest domicile in the world. In 2019, the Legislature passed, and Governor Phil Scott signed new legislation to modernize and strengthen captive insurance regulations.

Google gives $1 million to UVM to advance open source research

The Google Open Source Programs Office, a division of Google that manages Google’s use and release of open source software and promotes open source programming, has provided the University of Vermont (UVM) Complex Systems Center a $1 million unrestricted gift to support open source research. The goal of the UVM project is to deepen understanding of how people, teams and organizations thrive in technology-rich settings, especially in open-source projects and communities. The Google award will establish a collaboration between the Google Open Source team and UVM to begin building a community-oriented body of research focused on understanding how open source platforms are used and what makes technology-rich environments thrive.

Dairy Air Wind cancels development plans

Dairy Air Wind, the last remaining wind energy project being developed in Vermont, has ceased all development activities surrounding the project. Project partner David Blittersdorf cited a current political environment that is hostile to wind energy as the leading cause for this step. Dairy Air Wind was intended to be a single-turbine project sited in a cornfield on the Champney family’s 450-acre dairy farm in Holland, VT.  Dairy Air Wind had received a state standard offer-power contract to sell the project’s electricity in Vermont in 2016, but has been stalled in permitting since.

BCBS of Vermont partners with Civica Rx to reduce drug costs

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont has announced a new partnership with a non-profit organization Civica Rx. Civica was formed in 2018 by three philanthropies and numerous health care organizations to develop inpatient generic medications. This new partnership, in conjunction with 18 Blue Cross Blue Shield companies across the nation, as well as other key partners, is to address generic medications outside of the hospital setting. Through this relationship, Vermonters will have greater access to essential medications at more affordable prices and will ensure access to lifesaving drugs.

Prescription drug prices make up, on average, 20 percent of every dollar of health insurance premiums, which is the same amount that’s spent on physician medical care. Additionally, prescription drug price increases are the main driver of health care premium increases in recent years, both nationally and in Vermont.

GMP exceeded carbon reduction goals by 40 percent in 2019

Green Mountain Power (GMP) is building on the success of its customer programs to cut carbon and costs by renewing rebates for 2020 – helping customers find affordable options on electric vehicles, bikes and lawnmowers, heat pumps, and more. GMP launched the rebates in 2019 to reduce costs and customers’ carbon footprints, and customers responded by making thousands of purchases – offsetting 156 million lifetime pounds of carbon, equal to taking 15,000 fossil-fueled vehicles off the road for a year. GMP’s rebates will continue until June 30.

Hill Farmstead again ranked as world's 'Best Brewer'

Hill Farmstead of Greensboro, Vermont, for the fourth consecutive year, has been ranked as the world's best brewer by RateBeer.com. Lawson's Famous Liquids in Waitsfield came in at number 88. The rankings are compiled from thousands of voters around the globe. This is not a scientific survey, but RateBeer's list is widely considered the most authoritative available. RateBeer also produces a Best Beer list for 2019.

North Star Leasing reports 40% funding growth

North Star Leasing Company has announced that it achieved a 40% year-over-year increase in fundings in 2019, marking the largest year-over-year growth in their 40-year history. Fiscal year 2019 saw North Star Leasing fund just shy of $70 million with $12.7 million funded through longstanding syndication partners. This compares to North Star Leasing’s 2018 funding level of $49 million, with $7 million funded through syndication.  People’s United Bank along with Rockland Trust provides a $60 million Senior Revolving Credit Facility to support continued growth.

ISO-NE’s annual report focuses on renewable energy future

New England’s clean-energy goals can be achieved by harnessing the same competitive market forces that have kept the region’s power system reliable for the past two decades, says ISO New England in its 2020 Regional Electricity Outlook (REO), released today. As the report explains, the power grid will be ready as New England moves away from fossil fuel resources to clean and renewable energy resources. While coal and oil have diminished greatly in recent years, renewables have grown slowly and natural gas and nuclear have held the largest shares. Meanwhile, imported energy, mostly Canadian hydropower, have made up most of the losses in coal and oil. As for energy use into the future, total consumption eventually is expected to grow slowly, but efficiency and renewables, especially solar, are expected to reduce generation requirements.

Scott seeks to expand TIF program to smaller projects

Governor Phil Scott has proposed to allow communities to use Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for individual projects. This proposal would expand use of this important economic development tool, which is currently only available for larger scale community development projects. The proposed Project-Based TIF program would enable Vermont’s rural communities to be approved to use municipal and education tax increment financing from select parcels to fund qualifying infrastructure projects that will spur specific private development. This tool will provide the gap funding to get necessary public improvement projects over the finish line, which otherwise wouldn’t be able to move forward.

House approves bill to modernize Act 250

The Vermont House has given approval to H.926, a bill designed to update the state’s landmark Act 250 land development and use law on a voice vote. Much of the focus on this update is on easing housing development in town centers. The final vote on the bill Friday passed 88 to 52. It now makes its way back to the Senate. It will need reconciliation with earlier Senate changes before ultimately reaching the governor.

VHCB water quality grants available for Vermont farms up to $40,000

The Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program, a program of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, has grant funds available for on-farm capital improvement projects that have a positive impact on water quality. Eligible farmers can apply for a Water Quality Grant, which provides $5,000 to $40,000 in funding. Applications are due by March 20, 2020. Matching funds are required and may include federal or state grants as well as cash, loans, or labor. More information, eligibility requirements, and applications are available on the Viability Program Website at: https://vhcb.org/WQG

Vermont has lowest residential vacancy rate in nation

Vermont and New Hampshire have the lowest rate of residential, unoccupied properties in the nation at 0.4 percent and Burlington, while the highest in Vermont, has only 26 such properties or a 0.43 percent. ATTOM Data Solutions, curator of the nation's premier property database and first property data provider of Data-as-a-Service (DaaS), has released its Q1 2020 Vacant Property and Zombie Foreclosure Report showing that over 1.52 million U.S. single-family homes and condos are vacant, representing 1.5 percent of all homes.

CORI makes Opportunity Zone investment in Voi, moving to Vermont

The CORI Innovation Fund (CIF) has announced an investment in Voi, Inc, a leader in the use of AI-driven digital technology to provide behavioral healthcare solutions with a focus on detection of and care for those at risk of suicide.

Housing Vermont receives $2 million from feds

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vermont) have announced that the US Treasury awarded Housing Vermont a $2 million grant to support affordable housing production and preservation of roughly 900 affordable rental units. The grant was provided through the Capital Magnet Fund program. The grant was provided by the Community Development Financial Institutions’ (CDFI) Capital Magnet Fund program.

Leahy and Sanders cosponsor minor league baseball resolution

US Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)have led a bipartisan group of United States Senators introducing a resolution supporting Minor League Baseball (MiLB) and their efforts to fight Major League Baseball’s (MLB) proposed elimination or demotion of 42 MiLB clubs, including the Norwich (CT) Sea Unicorns, Lowell (MA) Spinners, West Virginia Power, Bluefield (WV, VA) Blue Jays, Princeton (WV) Rays and Vermont Lake Monsters. The Spinners and Lake Monsters play in the same league.

House gives approval to retail cannabis market

The Vermont House has advanced S.54, an act relating to the regulation of cannabis, on a vote of 90-54. The bill, which would establish legal sales of cannabis (marijuana) will be considered for a third reading on Thursday. If it passes the bill would then head to the Senate. Governor Phil Scott has said that any bill he would approve must have significant health and safety measures built into it.

Report evaluates viability of increasing dairy consumption in New England and beyond

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (VACCD) outlined to legislators today a report looking at the future of dairy in Vermont and the economic viability of expanding dairy markets in the northeast, major metropolitan areas and beyond. The report comes as a result of Act 83 requiring both Agencies to research these concerns and report back.

AG supports opioid manufacturer's settlement framework

Attorney General TJ Donovan has announced that opioid manufacturer, Mallinckrodt (MNK), has devised a global settlement framework that would settle all opioid-related claims against it. The agreement in principle is supported by Vermont and 46 states and US territories, as well as municipalities and other litigants in the federal opioid multidistrict litigation.

The settlement framework was created in anticipation of some of MNK’s businesses filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring. Through the settlement framework, MNK agrees to pay a total of $1.6 billion to a trust earmarked for the costs of opioid addiction treatment and related efforts, with the potential for increased payment to the trust. MNK also agrees that its future generics opioid business will be subject to stringent injunctive relief that, among other things, will prevent marketing and ensure systems are in place to prevent diversion. MNK, including its subsidiaries and certain other affiliates, is currently the largest generic opioid manufacturer in the United States. 

Tenants sue St Albans over unfair condemnation 

A federal Court has ruled that tenants can bring claims against the City of St Albans for unfairly removing them from their home after the landlord refused to make necessary repairs. Dwight Martell and Lynn Cook claimed that the City had abruptly shut off their water, electricity, and gas and ordered them out, making them homeless, all without having a legal basis for doing so. They sued for violations of their Fourteenth Amendment due process rights and Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable seizure.

Grants now available for local food market development

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets (VAAFM) is now accepting applications for the Local Food Market Development grant program. This program seeks to increase the amount of Vermont agricultural products being sold through local institutional or wholesale markets. The deadline to apply for this opportunity is March 29th, 2020.

Scott appoints Walke to lead Department of Environmental Conservation

Governor Phil Scott has appointed Peter Walke to serve as commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Walke has served as the deputy secretary for the Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) since January 2017, after serving as chief of staff for the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. Walke replaces Emily Boedecker, who served as DEC commissioner for three years.

Burton promotes John Lacy to CEO, Donna Carpenter becomes chair of the board

Burton officially announced that John Lacy will become the company’s CEO, a role he has shared for the past 18 months with Burton owner Donna Carpenter. Donna will become Chair of the Burton Board of Directors, a position formerly held by her late husband and Burton founder, Jake Burton Carpenter.

State resource to help address sexual harassment in workplace

Cary Brown, Executive Director of the Vermont Commission on Women, has announced new resources available now from the Workplaces For All public education program, workplacesforall.vermont.gov, to make workers, employers, and all Vermonters aware of laws that apply to them, their legal rights, methods of reporting, where to find information, strategies for prevention, and ways to address sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

Governor appoints Peter Reed to fill House vacancy

Governor Phil Scott has appointed Peter Reed (I) to fill the Orange-Washington-Addison House District vacancy following the resignation of former Representative Ben Jickling (I) in August 2019. Reed has lived in Braintree since 2014, following a 35-year career in banking and securities in Puerto Rico, Chicago, New York and Connecticut. From 2015 to 2019, he managed the Randolph and Bethel branches of Northfield Savings Bank. Reed serves on the boards of the Randolph Area Community Development Corporation and Gifford Medical Center and is active in economic development and community initiatives in the Randolph area.

Weinberger appoints Katherine Schad as Burlington CAO

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger has appointed Katherine Schad as Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Burlington. Katherine is currently serving as the Vice President of Project Support Services at Tetra Tech in Burlington, and will bring over 20 years of experience in operations, regulatory compliance, and financial and project management with global mission-driven organizations to the position.

State adopts 5-year plan to reduce toxicity of Vermont’s waste

The State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is encouraging Vermonters to start the new decade with a commitment to trim “waste-lines.” Currently, the average Vermonter disposes over 1,300 pounds of trash per year. Over the next 5-years, the State and municipalities will help Vermonters bring the amount down to about 1,000 pounds each year. Small steps can make a difference in reaching this goal - like composting food scraps.

Marathon Health and OurHealth combine forces

Winooski-based Marathon Health and OurHealth from Indianapolis, each a leading provider of onsite and nearsite health centers for employers, has announced a strategic combination of the two companies that brings together patient-focused primary care capabilities to serve employees and their families across the United States. The combined company will leverage the proven onsite and nearsite health center strategies of Marathon Health and OurHealth, including OurHealth’s MyClinics, a network of clinics available in several markets today, to serve employer populations of all sizes. General Atlantic, a leading global growth equity firm and existing investor in Marathon Health, will be the majority shareholder of the combined organization. Information about the financial terms or employment levels were not revealed. However, Jerry Ford, CEO of Marathon Health, who will serve as CEO of the combined organization.

Goddard College launches future-focused $4 million campaign

Goddard College has announced its largest fundraising effort to date, the Together for Goddard campaign to raise $4 million by the end of June 2020.

Building on a strong 2019 fundraising year, this next phase in the campaign will build cash reserves, allow for new academic innovations and experimentation, while demonstrating financial sustainability to the college’s regional accreditor, the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). Goddard’s accreditation has been on probation since September 2018 due to concerns over governance and finances.

Fitch upgrades VHFA bonds to AA+

Strong financial performance contributed to a rating upgrade from AA to AA+ for Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA)’s multiple purpose bonds from Fitch Ratings last month. AA+ is the second highest possible rating from Fitch. The rating applies to all outstanding long-term debt under the multiple purpose program and should help lower the cost of affordable housing financing through VHFA.

For The Biome: Paul and Barbi Schulick

For The Biome, the Vermont-based wellness and skincare company launched last year by Paul and Barbi Schulick of Dummerston, has announced a partnership with the JHCapital family office of Jim Crook and Allison Maino. With over 35 years of leadership experience and a strong track record of growing companies in Vermont and beyond, Crook is the former CEO of IDX Systems Corporation and plays lead governance roles in Aspenti Health, DealerPolicy, RCxRules, MediRevv and Greensea Systems, among others.

BED launches Preferred Electric Vehicle Dealership Network

Burlington Electric Department (BED) has launched a Preferred Electric Vehicle Dealership Network through which BED will recommend that the Burlington community shop at local automobile dealerships that will make buying and leasing electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) more easy to navigate and will help advance Burlington’s 2030 goal of becoming a Net Zero Energy (NZE) city. The nine Network dealerships will process both BED and State of Vermont EV and PHEV rebates at the point of sale, allowing customers to benefit from the incentives in their financing packages and not need to engage in additional post-sale paperwork to claim rebates.

City Market to eliminate single-use plastic carryout bags

City Market in Burlington will eliminate single-use plastic carryout bags at both store locations, as of April 20, 2020. In years past, they have temporarily removed all single-use carryout bags during Earth Week and distributed 25,000 free, reusable bags to customers. They will be offering the reusable bags again this year during the week of April 20th. However, once this concludes, and unlike in previous years, they will no longer have the single-use plastic carryout bags at the register and will instead transition to offering paper bags as the carryout option. This change will precede legislation expected to take effect in July of 2020 (Act 69, which does not include the flimsy vegetable bags) and is part of an overall commitment that the Co-op has made to reduce single-use plastics in the store.

Burlington hires outside firm for superintendent search

The Burlington School District (BSD) Board of School Commissioners has announced that McPherson & Jacobson, LLC, Executive Recruitment and Development of Omaha, NE, has been selected to assist the Board in the important task of selecting superintendent candidates for the board to interview. Beginning immediately, the consultants and board commissioners will be meeting with community members to gather input regarding the qualities of the District’s next Superintendent. Superintendent Yaw Obeng announced in November that he would be stepping down June 30, 2020, after five years on the job.

House advances proposal for constitutional amendment regarding slavery

The Vermont House has advanced the proposal of a constitutional amendment to clarify the prohibition on slavery and indentured servitude (PR.2) on a vote of 145-0. The proposal of amendment passed the Senate in April and in May, the House held a public hearing on the proposal as part of the process to consider an amendment to the constitution. Chapter I, Article 1 of the Vermont Constitution is historically significant in that it is the source of the anti-slavery provision that made the Vermont Constitution of 1777 the first state constitution to outlaw slavery; however, the proposed amendment would eliminate part of this article and replace it with the statement, “slavery and indentured servitude in any form are prohibited,” as the current article does not protect those under the age of 21.

Bennington College awarded $290,000 to launch environmental program

Bennington College has been awarded a four-year $290,000 grant from the New York-based The Endeavor Foundation to launch The Endeavor Foundation Environmental Changemaker Fellowship Program, which includes funded internships for Bennington students to work in nonprofits with a focus on environmental justice. The fellowship will start with a pilot cohort to be selected in Summer 2020, and launch formally in January 2021 over Field Work Term, the College’s annual six week internship experience.

Seven Days adds veteran employees to ownership team

Seven Days founders Paula Routly and Pamela Polston have announced that 13 longtime employees are new shareholders in the media company the two women created almost 25 years ago. The holdings of those workers, combined with those of minority owners Cathy Resmer, Don Eggert and Colby Roberts, now represent 49 percent of the business. Financial terms were not disclosed. Routly told VBM that the transaction took place on January 1 and that it includes a five-year buyout of Polston, who will remain with Seven Days. Routly said she also acquired one percent of Polston’s shares, giving her a 51 percent stake in the company.

United Van Lines: Vermont again leads US in inbound migration

According to United Van Lines, Americans are moving into Idaho, and Idaho is moving up—in the ranking of most popular 2019 moving destinations, that is. Vermont remains the highest by percentage, but with a small sample size. Still, Vermont is the only state to have achieved greater than a 70 percent in-bound rate, which it has done the last two years (74.3% in 2019 and 72.7% in 2018). Vermont also has increased its inbound rate every year for which data is available. In 2013, Vermont had more outbound than inbound (52.6% outbound) movers, but by 2014 (59.4% inbound) and every year since, the rate has gone up. According to United data, Vermont’s migration demographic has also changed, as the inbound age has gotten older and, not surprisingly, wealthier.

Vermont Number 10 in U-Haul moving-in report

After ranking Number 1 in moving in a United Van Lines survey, Vermont fell three spots to rank Number 10 in the U-Haul survey. Meanwhile, Florida greeted the largest number of U-Haul moving trucks entering its borders versus exiting them, establishing a new Number 1 growth state for the first time in four years. Florida, which ranked second to Texas from 2016-18, bested the Lone Star State for growth this past year, according to U-Haul data analyzing US migration trends for 2019. Vermont arrivals of one-way U-Haul trucks were down 2% while departures were down 1% compared to the state’s 2018 numbers. Despite the drop in overall moving traffic, arrivals still accounted for 51.7% of all one-way U-Haul traffic in Vermont to make it the No. 10 state for netting do-it-yourself movers.

AG’s top scams of 2019

In 2019, Vermonters filed 5,447 scam reports with the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program (CAP). As old scams persisted, new scams emerged. According to the Attorney General’s list of top 10 most commonly reported scams of the year, the Social Security number phishing scam surpassed the IRS scam, knocking it out of the top spot as the most common scam. This phone scam involves calls claiming that your Social Security number has been compromised, suspended, and/or linked to criminal activity.

Curtis Fund receives $300,000 from Hoehl Family Foundation

The Hoehl Family Foundation has awarded $300,000 to The Curtis Fund’s new Credentials of Value scholarship program, helping hundreds of Vermonters complete career training for Vermont’s high-demand, high-return jobs. The Curtis Fund, a supporting organization of the Vermont Community Foundation, joined with Vermont Student Assistance Corp (VSAC) to pilot the program last year with 22 learners across eight counties.

VLS expands access to legal services in Burlington

Vermont Law School has expanded with the addition of a new immigration clinic and admissions office in Burlington. Located at 162 St Paul Street. Through its connection to the South Royalton Legal Clinic (SRLC), the new Burlington VLS office will offer legal assistance, particularly on immigration law, through the expanded Vermont Immigration Assistance Clinic.

Castleton forms transfer agreement with Marlboro College

Castleton University has formed an agreement with Marlboro College that will streamline the transfer of Marlboro students to Castleton. Under the agreement, Castleton will accept currently-matriculated students who are in good academic standing at Marlboro. The University will also provide a financial aid package that will allow current Marlboro students to attend Castleton at a tuition price that is equivalent to or less than what they paid at Marlboro in 2019-20.

Migrant Justice and DMV settle lawsuit

A settlement has been reached following a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of Migrant Justice against the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The case involved allegations that DMV provided information from driver’s privilege card applications to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) based upon stereotypes related to national origin and immigration status. The settlement enhances access to driver’s privilege cards and limits ICE’s access to information obtained by DMV. The settlement will help all Vermont residents gain access to driver’s privilege cards.

The lengthy and detailed settlement formalizes new regulations to restrict communication and information-sharing between the state department and federal immigration agencies. Furthermore, the DMV will be prohibited from retaining copies of birth certificates, passports, and other sensitive information of applicants for Driver’s Privilege Cards. The DMV must retrain all personnel and hire an auditor for a minimum of 18 months to ensure compliance with the agreement.

Ag Agency offers grant funds to support specialty crop industries

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) has announced the availability of grant funds for the purpose of strengthening Vermont’s specialty crop industries and improving the performance of Vermont specialty crops within local, domestic, and international markets. Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture crops (including honey, hops, and maple syrup), and nursery crops (including Christmas trees and floriculture). VAAFM plans to award approximately $200,000 in Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) funds in 2020.

State launches $80,000 grant program for recruitment efforts

The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development has announced the launch of the Regional Marketing and Recruitment Grant Program. As passed by the Legislature in Act 80, the $80,000 in grant funding will support the efforts and activities of regional organizations to attract more visitors, potential residents and businesses to Vermont, helping to enhance and extend existing state marketing and recruitment initiatives.

‘Choose Vermont Scholarship’ to award $60,000 to incoming students

The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Vermont Student Assistance Corporation and 13 Vermont colleges and universities are announcing the 2020 Choose Vermont Scholarship Program, which will award $60,000 in scholarship money to students who commit to attend a Vermont school by June 1. Both out-of-state and Vermont students are eligible to enter. The program was developed through a partnership across Vermont’s higher education sector to market Vermont as a top destination for attending college. The campaign targets students already accepted to a Vermont school, encouraging them to take the next step and “Choose Vermont.”

Plans underway for improvements at Mt Philo State Park

After nearly a decade of work and with substantial public input, the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR) has completed the long-range management plan (LRMP) for Mt. Philo State Park. This plan will guide the long-term management and stewardship of the area’s natural resources and human use. Work on the Mt. Philo plan has been a lengthy process, during which several public input meetings were held and the plan underwent multiple revisions to incorporate public feedback.

VTrans extends construction schedule for drawbridge to 2022

The Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT) has negotiated an extension to the construction schedule for the North Hero – Grand Isle Drawbridge to address the unanticipated soil contamination that has been encountered while also ensuring a high-quality final product.

Tour boat company gets $268K to install low-emission engines

A popular excursion boat on Lake Champlain owned by Mesa Leasing, Ltd, is receiving an upgrade to reduce its environmental impact. The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Diesel Emissions Reduction Program awarded $268,073 to Mesa Leasing, Ltd. to replace four unregulated, heavily polluting diesel engines powering the Spirit of Ethan Allen III. This grant is the single largest Vermont Diesel Emissions Reduction Grant ever awarded. The project will improve air quality along the Burlington waterfront, protect public health, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

Country Camper opens in East Montpelier

Country Camper has announced the grand opening of a 16,000 square foot service facility in East Montpelier. Country Camper is a full-service, family owned and operated RV dealership with locations in Vermont and New Hampshire. The new facility will enhance Country Camper’s rapidly growing business and help advance the company’s mission to provide excellent service before and after the sale.

VAAFM trade show assistance grants application period open

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) welcomes applications from Vermont agricultural and forestry businesses for Trade Show Assistance Grants.  The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative has set aside $30,000 to be distributed on a first come first serve basis to support yearly marketing plans for Vermont businesses with reimbursement directly to Vermont businesses to exhibit at trade shows outside of Vermont.

VPR Classical receives $118,000 gift for classical music performances

Vermont Public Radio has received a $118,000 gift to support live performances on VPR Classical. The gift was made in memory of long-time VPR listeners and supporters Ray and Patricia Harwick by Ray’s daughter, Joslyn G Ewart of King of Prussia, PA; and Ray’s son and daughter-in-law, Nevon and Heather Harwick, of Albuquerque, NM. The Harwicks were long-time residents of Vermont and Wake Robin in Shelburne.

Vermont Works for Women offers trades training program

Vermont Works for Women (VWW) is actively recruiting participants for its Trailblazers: Women in the Construction Trades program, designed to prepare women for jobs and apprenticeships in high-demand, high-paying sectors, including construction, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and others. Along with technical skills, the program exposes participants to the range of employers and jobs available with these skills, as well as provides mentoring and networking opportunities with women working in these sectors.

Hula partners with LaunchVT to fuel growth of Vermont innovators

Hula, a collaborative innovation campus on the shores of Lake Champlain, will partner with LaunchVT in a series of initiatives designed to identify, support and grow Vermont businesses. In 2020, Hula will host all LaunchVT events, including their flagship business accelerator program. The partnership will increase support for startups as they continue to grow after the program. LaunchVT works to develop and accelerate the next generation of businesses and the ecosystem at Hula will provide integral exposure, opportunity and connectivity for growing businesses.

Miller Environmental acquires EP&S of Vermont

GenNx360 Capital Partners, a New York-based private equity firm, has announced that its portfolio company, Miller Environmental Group Inc,  a leading provider of environmental and emergency response services in the Eastern United States, has acquired Environmental Products & Services of Vermont, Inc. Headquartered in Syracuse, NY, EP&S is a leading provider of emergency response, remediation, and environmental services and operates across 17 service locations along the eastern seaboard from Vermont to Florida. MEG is majority-owned by New York-based GenNx360 Capital Partners, a leading private equity firm investing in industrial and business services companies, which invested in MEG in March 2019. The transaction closed on December 27, 2019. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Harbour Industries cables approved for use on F-35

Harbour Industries LLC, a Marmon|Berkshire Hathaway company based in Shelburne, has announced it is now an approved manufacturer for a number of low-loss coax and high-speed data cables used on Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lighting II 5th generation fighter aircraft. Harbour’s data and coaxial cables were chosen based on the use of a composite fluoropolymer insulation ensuring light-weight and high-speed transmission. Harbour is known as a supplier that has product and process engineering expertise that ensures the highest quality cables will be manufactured in exact accordance with Lockheed’s demanding physical and electrical requirements.

Welch appoints Satalin to take over from retiring Rogan

US Representative Peter Welch (D-Vermont) has announced that his long-time chief of staff, Bob Rogan, will retire at the end of February. Replacing Rogan as chief of staff will be Patrick Satalin, Welch’s deputy chief of staff. Satalin first joined Welch’s staff in 2011 and has served in various roles since, including legislative director, before being promoted in 2015 to deputy chief of staff. Prior to working on Capitol Hill, he worked for the commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration and for a national accounting firm. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School and a bachelor of arts degree in media and communications studies from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

End of Life Services receives $75,000 from Hoehl Foundation

The Hoehl Family Foundation has awarded $75,000 to End of Life Services in support of their mission to provide compassionate care for those at the end of life. End of Life Services believes that every person should be able to die in comfort and with dignity. In partnership with the community, End of Life Services supports patients, families, friends, and caregivers before, during and after the dying process. End of Life Services advocates for compassionate end of life care by providing volunteers, bereavement support, music and other therapeutic practices, education for the community, training for the providers, and options for those who are unable to complete their lives in their own home.

Burlington dry cleaner fined for leaking hazardous air contaminant

The Agency of Natural Resources Department of Environmental Conservation has announced that Two Go Dry Cleaning, Inc, owner of Greers Dry Cleaners in Burlington, was fined $8,000 for failing to maintain a dry-cleaning system that prevents leaks of the toxic solvent perchloroethylene, and for mismanaging contaminated waste materials.

Social Security scammers now using fake documents

Social Security phone scammers go to great lengths to trick people out of their personal information and money. They might use robocalls or live callers and in a new twist, they are now sending fake documents by email to convince people to comply with their demands.

Treasurer launches video to promote ABLE investment accounts

Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce has launched a video to raise awareness about the VermontABLE program and provide information about how Vermonters with disabilities can enroll in the tax-free investment plan to save for qualified expenses. VermontABLE gives individuals with disabilities the ability to invest up to $15,000 annually without impacting eligibility for certain benefits, like Medicaid and SSI. Participants can invest savings through five different investment options, and access online electronic funds transfers, easy withdrawals, and a loadable debit card. As of the most recent reporting quarter, VermontABLE participants had an average account balance of $4,772.09, which is approximately $2,700 over the benefit cliff level for individuals on means-tested programs.

Hunger Free Vermont receives $28,586 grant from Shaw’s

Hunger Free Vermont has received a $28,586.12 grant from Shaw’s Foundation from their Hunger Is initiative to eradicate childhood hunger. The funds power Hunger Free Vermont’s work to help schools and communities throughout Vermont feed more kids a nutritious breakfast.

Runamok Maple & Citizen Cider release ‘Tree Tapper’ hard cider

Runamok Maple, a Fairfax, Vermont-based producer of pure, barrel-aged, infused, and smoked organic maple syrups, has teamed up with fellow Burlington, Vermont-based brand Citizen Cider to once again release Tree Tapper, a maple-based hard cider that features Runamok Maple syrup as its main ingredient. Back by popular demand, Tree Tapper is entering its third year as a limited-edition cider – and this time around it will be abundantly available throughout the Northeast region. As a cider on the dry side of the spectrum, Tree Tapper has a balanced sweetness with notes of oak, maple, and Belgian candi syrup, giving it rich and hearty characteristics. At 6.9%, it’s the perfect cider to share among friends, enjoy after a long day of tapping trees, or following a day on the ski slopes.

Saint Mike’s philosophy professor Kuklok gets major NEH grant

Allison Kuklok of the Saint Michael’s College philosophy faculty learned last month that she is the recipient of a prestigious, highly competitive $60,000 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) year-long Fellowship, which she will use to work on a book about the status of the human being in John Locke’s natural philosophy.

Physicist becomes first President’s Distinguished Scholar at UVM

Julia Phillips, a highly accomplished and renowned physicist who has held top leadership positions at national laboratories and scientific organizations, will serve as the University of Vermont’s first President’s Distinguished Scholar. Phillips currently serves on the executive committee of the National Science Board, which sets National Science Foundation policy, and chairs its science and engineering policy committee. She also is the home secretary of the National Academy of Engineering, and acts as a consultant for Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Vermont Tech, CCV collaborate on manufacturing program

Vermont Technical College, in collaboration with Community College of Vermont (CCV), will offer a Principles of Manufacturing class at the Williston Campus starting February 27. Eligible parents can enroll at no cost via the Strengthening Working Families Initiative (SWFI), a grant funded program through Vermont Tech.

Vermont Airbnb hosts earned $15.1M during biggest weekends

Airbnb, the world’s leading community driven hospitality company, has announced that its Vermont host community earned a combined $15.1 million in supplemental income while welcoming approximately 69,800 guest arrivals to the State for the five biggest guest arrival weekends in 2019, including Columbus Day Weekend, President’s Day and Valentine’s Day Weekend, and the holiday season.

Vermont Air Guard fighter wing trains in Florida

Women and men of the 158th Fighter Wing are training at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, returning to Vermont in late March. Members, aircraft and support equipment departed this week for a training event known as Southern Lightning. Over 100 airmen from primarily Maintenance and Operations Groups will fly and maintain F-35 operations throughout the training period, developing their readiness while off-station.   

NEK Young Professionals Network receives grant

The Northeast Kingdom Young Professionals Network (NEK YPN) recently received a $3,000  grant from the Vermont Community Foundation’s Northeast Kingdom Fund. The grant will help further NEK YPN’s mission of supporting young professionals both socially and professionally by expanding outreach efforts and promoting a new Welcome Wagon Program.

East Montpelier farm fined for burning construction material

The Agency of Natural Resources Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that Fairmont Farms, Inc, and Fairmont Dairy, LLC, were fined $8,400 for burning construction material and demolition waste at the Fairmont Farm in East Montpelier, in violation of Vermont’s air pollution and solid waste management regulations.

On April 26, 2019, Fairmont Farm burned a pile of construction and demolition waste generated while renovating and remodeling a residential structure on the East Montpelier farm. After the East Montpelier Fire Department responded and extinguished the fire, the site was cleaned, and the waste was properly disposed of at a certified solid waste facility. By May 2, 2019, Fairmont Farm completed the proper disposal of over 10 tons of waste resulting from the fire.

Mascoma closes $900,000 NMTC to expand local grocery access in Burlington

Mascoma Community Development (MCD) has announced the closing of $900,000 in New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation to support the development of a retail space within Burlington’s Old North End neighborhood. The space will be specifically tailored to accommodate a locally owned grocery store, as well as a bank “micro branch.” Jake’s ONE is located at 242 North Winooski Ave.

Gifford Women’s Health Center slated to open in September

Renovations will begin this month to create a new Women’s Health Center at Gifford with a grand opening slated for September. The center will house Gifford’s OB-GYN and Midwifery services and providers in an improved location directly adjacent to Gifford’s renowned Birthing Center. Once housed within the medical center, OB-GYN team members and patients will be closer to other Gifford services and providers, easing patient access and improving upon continuity of care. The center will be 5,700 square feet – 1,240 square feet larger than the current OB-GYN and Midwifery space – and include a new designated Procedure Room, Ultrasound Room, Phlebotomy Room and Lab in addition to provider offices and midwife on-call space.

American Cancer Society Hope Lodge receives $50K from SeaComm

SeaComm Federal Credit Union presented a check for $50,000 to support the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge program in Burlington. The credit union opened its seventh branch location in South Burlington, in January 2020.

Funding available for South Lake Champlain projects from VCF

Grants are now available to support projects through the South Lake Champlain Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation. The South Lake Champlain Fund supports projects focused on education and research concerning the cultural and ecological history and heritage of southern Lake Champlain. Projects must be located on the southern portion of Lake Champlain (the area of Lake Champlain south of Crown Point in both Vermont and New York) with a preference for projects directly on the lake or in close proximity. School-based projects are encouraged. The fund also aims to support projects that involve experts and others living in the southern Lake Champlain region. Matching funds are encouraged but not required.

Working families could quality for a tax credit of up to $6,557

This year, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) can help working families in Vermont make ends meet with a credit up to $6,557. In addition, any family with dependent children who receives the Vermont EITC is automatically income eligible for food benefits through 3SquaresVT – meaning their income and resources don’t count. January 31st is EITC Awareness Day, a time to spread the word to the estimated one in five Vermonters who miss out on thousands of dollars in savings and added benefits because they are unaware of EITC or its link to 3SquaresVT.

Sugarbush adds additional nine EV charging stations at Mt Ellen

Sugarbush Resort continues to expand its fleet of electric vehicle charging stations, this time adding nine new chargers to Mt Ellen. As with past charging station installation, Sugarbush Resort has partnered with Apex Solar Power and Green Mountain Power to install the chargers. All nine of the universal level 2 chargers are free for public use. Of the nine, eight are located in Lot 3 and the ninth is handicap accessible next to the Mt. Ellen Base Lodge.

Call for nominations for Vermont Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame

Vermont Ski & Snowboard Museum is seeking nominations for the 2020 Vermont Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame and First Tracks Awards. Each year, the Vermont Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame honors athletes, special contributors, and pioneers of Vermont skiing and snowboarding who have promoted and/or contributed to the sport of skiing or riding in Vermont. The First Tracks Award honors a skier or rider under 35. The Museum is also seeking nominations for the Paul Robbins Award for excellence in skiing and snowboarding journalism.

Killington parent signs deal with Mammut

The owner of Killington and Pico ski resorts, POWDR, has announced a new long-term partnership with Mammut, the leading Swiss-born premium outdoors brand, with more than a century of experience in producing mountain safety equipment, technical apparel, and accessories for outdoor activities. The partnership makes Mammut the official uniform and apparel provider for more than 8,000 mountain professionals working at ten of POWDR’s mountain resort locations, including Killington/Pico.

Isham family to host Williston farmers market

The Isham name is synonymous with the working land in Williston, and fifth generation farmer Mike Isham is making plans to add a weekly farmers market to the family’s Oak Hill Road activities. Isham, with his name recognition and leadership in Vermont agricultural circles and the family’s success selling products like maple syrup, berries, pumpkins and Christmas trees at the farm, Mike believes he has the foundation for a successful farmers market.

Petersons joins Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty

The Petersons, Inc has joined Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty. The Petersons, Inc, located in Peterborough, NH, brings 12 experienced and respected sales associates to the company and is the leader in real estate sales in the greater Peterborough region of New Hampshire with over $50 million in sales volume for 2019.