Roundup of news from April 2022

State reports strong tax revenue results for March

While refunds kept the vital personal income tax from posting an even stronger month, corporate, gasoline and rooms and meals taxes pushed monthly state revenues well ahead of targets for March. The General Fund, Transportation Fund, and Education Fund receipts were a combined $239.9 million, or 8.9%, above upwardly revised monthly consensus expectations.

Fiscal year-to-date (YTD), General Fund and Education Fund revenues are above target while the Transportation Fund is slightly below target. The cumulative revenues stand at 1.2% above revised consensus expectations through the third quarter of the state’s fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2022.

General Fund revenues collected for the month totaled $162.6 million, or $15.9 million above the monthly consensus cash flow revenue target. Fiscal year to date, General Fund revenues were $1,336.2 million, exceeding their target by $19.8 million or 1.5%.

This month’s performance in the General Fund was supported by a small net gain in the personal income category and larger gains in corporate taxes and meals & room taxes. Personal income receipts were bolstered by upbeat receipts activity in withholding and estimated tax payments, but surprisingly large refund activity moderated the overall gains in this category again last month.

Consumption taxes, which generally track travel & tourism, were strong, with meals & room (+22%), gasoline (+23.17) and sales & use (2.9%) a combined $5.92 ahead of expectations.

Revenues into the Transportation Fund beat expectations, bringing in $26.7 million in March compared to the consensus cash flow target estimate of $25.1 million. Fiscal year-to-date, the T-Fund brought in $209.6 million which was $1.4 million or 0.7% below the consensus cash flow target.

The Education Fund revenues were $2.2 million, or 4.5%, above the monthly consensus cash flow target, having collected $50.7 million in March. For the first three quarters of the fiscal year, the Ed Fund received $508.0 million, which is 1.1% higher than the consensus cash flow target.

Unemployment rate falls two-tenths to 2.7 percent in March

The Vermont unemployment rate fell another two-tenths in March as all three major metrics showed significant improvement. The seasonally-adjusted statewide unemployment rate was 2.7 percent. This also reflects a decrease of 1.1 percent from March 2021. Vermont is tied for the ninth lowest rate in the nation and second lowest in the East behind New Hampshire (2.5 percent).

The labor force increased by 1,389 people from February and by 3,865 from the same time last year. The number of employed increased by 2,133 from February and 7,629 from last year and the number of unemployed fell by -744 and -3,764 respectively. The comparable United States rate in March was 3.6 percent, which was a decrease of two-tenths of one percentage point from the revised February estimate. Vermont is tied for the ninth lowest rate in the nation and second lowest in the East behind New Hampshire (2.5 percent). See table below.

Bill Stenger gets 18 months for role in AnC Vermont EB-5 case

William Stenger, the former president of Jay Peak resort, was sentenced April 14 to 18 months in federal prison for his part in a massive foreign investor fraud case. This is six years to the day that federal agents raided the offices at Burke Mountain and Jay Peak Resort.

Stenger also was ordered to make $250,000 in restitution to a group of 36 investors that got swindled by making investments into the EB-5 program that provides residential immigration “green” cards in exchange for $500,000.

Stenger had helped develop several businesses in the Northeast Kingdom based in part on false claims made to government officials in conjunction with the immigration enhancement program.

Stenger pleaded guilty in August 2021 to a felony charge of knowingly and willfully submitting a false document in January 2015 to the Vermont Regional Center as part of his promotion of the Jay Peak Biomedical Research Park EB-5 investment project, also known as AnC Vermont project in Newport.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford told Stenger, 73, he would be under federal supervision for 3 years once he is freed from prison.

Crawford agreed to allow Stenger to self-report to prison on June 7. The court will recommend Stenger serve his time at the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Devens, MA, because it has a hospital facility. With good time he could be freed after 15 months.

An associate of the development, William Kelly, subsequently received a similar federal sentence for his role in the AnC Vermont fraud.

Quiros gets five years, fined over $8 million, for EB-5 fraud

The United States Attorney’s Office announced that Ariel Quiros, 65, of Puerto Rico, and formerly of Key Biscayne, Florida, was sentenced April 29 to 60 months in prison by Chief Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford in United States District Court in connection with his involvement in the AnC Vermont EB-5 investment project. Chief Judge Crawford also ordered Quiros to serve a three-year term of supervised release and to pay $8,338,600.77 in restitution. Today’s sentencing follows Quiros’s guilty pleas in August 2020 to three felony charges: conspiring with co-defendants William Kelly, Jong Weon (Alex) Choi, and William Stenger in a multi-year wire fraud scheme to defraud immigrant investors seeking green cards through the EB-5 program. Kelly was sentenced on April 20 to 18 months in prison. Choi is still at large.

DFR Commissioner Mike Pieciak to step down in May

Commissioner Mike Pieciak will be stepping away from his role leading the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) in May. He subequently announced he would run for treasuer as Treasurer Beth Pearce will not seek reelection, citing health issues. Pieciak, along with Health Commissioner Mark Levine and former Human Services Secretary Mike Smith, was a familiar face at the governor's pandemic response press conferences beginning in March 2020. Pieciak provided data modeling related to the rise and recent decline of COVID-19. Commissioner Pieciak was appointed to lead the consumer watchdog agency by Governor Scott in January 2017. He joined DFR in 2014 as Deputy Commissioner of the Securities Division, appointed by Governor Peter Shumlin.

Masks now optional at Burlington International Airport

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) withdrew the security directive requiring masks within airports. As a result, the Burlington International Airport (BTV) will no longer require masks within the airport. Like other public spaces, individuals may choose to continue to wear masks. A Florida federal judges ruling struck down the CDC recommended mandate on all forms of transportation. The federal requirement has resulted in many confrontations on commercial airplanes from passengers not wanting to wear a mask. If traveling from BTV– remember to show understanding, respect and patience with others who chose to continue wearing masks in airports and on aircraft.

$45 million Champlain Parkway construction contract OK’d

The Burlington City Council on April 25 unanimously supported a $45 million contract to finally build the Champlain Parkway. The funding of the project comes primarily from the federal government, which is contributing 95 percent of the cost. The State of Vermont will pay 3 percent. The City of Burlington will be responsible for 2 percent of the project’s eligible costs. The Champlain Parkway will be a two-lane, 25 MPH road which is designed with pedestrians, cyclists, visitors and residents in mind.

The project will connect the South End with downtown Burlington, alleviating traffic on neighborhood streets while providing an opportunity to safely navigate 2.8 miles of roadway, through Lakeside Avenue, with improved accommodation for pedestrians and cyclists with the development of a shared use path along Pine Street, and traffic signal improvements with pedestrian signalization.

The initial construction phase includes more than $40 million of improvements between Home Avenue and Kilburn Street. Construction is anticipated to begin by July of this year and be completed in 2024.

Scott signs off on new districts for Legislature

Seven Days reports that Chittenden County will gain a state Senate seat under new legislative districts because of population changes, which will start with upcoming elections. There will be three separate Senate districts in Chittenden County: two with three members each and one with a single senator.

The central Chittenden district will have three senators representing the north part of Burlington, Winooski, the southern part of Colchester and most of Essex.

The southeast Chittenden district will have three senators representing the southern part of Burlington, South Burlington, Shelburne, Charlotte, Hinesburg, Bolton, Williston, Jericho and Underhill.

Finally, the north Chittenden district will include the towns of Milton, Westford and part of Essex, as well as the Franklin County town of Fairfax.

Another notable change in the 30-member Senate is that Stowe, which is part of Lamoille County, was shifted south into the three-member Washington County Senate district.

All told, there will be 16 Senate districts instead of 13. That includes five three-member districts, four two-member districts and seven single-member districts.

The House stuck with a combination of two-member and single-member districts. The House attempted to ensure that each future member represents as close to 4,287 residents as possible. The resulting 109 House districts include 68 with one member and 41 with two.

GMCB cuts hospital rate request

The Green Mountain Care Board has drastically cut a request by UVM Medical Center and Central Vermont Medical Center to increase their mid-year budgets by 10 percent, as they face a $44 million budget gap. The regulator will allow them a 2.5 percent increase. The hospitals said in response to the lesser rate hike that they may have to cut services. Already, there are many complaints on wait-times at the state’s hospitals.

The two University of Vermont Health Network sought the unusual midyear budget adjustment because of cost increases posed by the pandemic and a tight workforce. The GMCB voted 3-2 to allow the 2.5 percent increase, while acknowledging the difficult situation the hospitals are in.

Meanwhile, the GMCB rejected a midyear budget modification for the Rutland Regional Medical Center that would have raised rates for privately insured Vermonters by 9%.

Inaugural Vermont State University president named

The Board of Trustees of the Vermont State Colleges System has announced that Parwinder Grewal has accepted the position of president at Vermont State University, effective July 1, 2022. Vermont State University will welcome its first class in fall 2023. The University, comprised of the current Castleton University, Northern Vermont University, and Vermont Technical College will be the first statewide, hybrid institution in the United States.

Dr. Grewal brings over 25 years of higher education experience and 10 years of biotechnology research and development experience in industry and government in six US states and five countries. Most recently, he served at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, a new university created through the merger of three long-standing legacy institutions spanning multiple campuses and communities where he played key leadership roles including as the Founding Dean of the College of Sciences, Dean of the Graduate College, Executive Vice President for Research, Graduate Studies and New Program Development, and Special Assistant to the President. Prior to Texas, he served as the Department Head of Entomology and Plant Pathology at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and as a Distinguished Professor of Entomology at The Ohio State University where he also served as the Founding Director of the Center for Urban Environment and Economic Development and of the Urban Landscape Ecology Program.

Scott signs first-in-the-nation bill to help communities impacted by toxic contamination

The impacts of toxic pollution are real, and somebody always pays the price. Governor Scott has signed a bill (S.113) holding corporate polluters responsible for ongoing harm to Vermonters caused by toxic chemical exposure. The bill also authorizes the State to sue manufacturers of dangerous chemicals that harm Vermont’s natural resources and public facilities. Currently, Vermonters can be on the hook for costly medical bills to monitor diseases linked to toxic exposure. In 2021, the Legislature enacted a bill to restrict toxic PFAS chemicals from a range of products, a positive step for reducing toxic exposure. However, PFAS and numerous other chemicals that can harm human health persist in our environment and are still in use by corporations. The central instance was a plume of groundwater pollution, discovered in 2016, emanating from the closed ChemFab plant in North Bennington.

Northern State Correctional Facility superintendent removed from position

Vermont Department of Corrections Commissioner Nicholas Deml has announced key leadership changes at Northern State Correctional Facility (NSCF) in Newport. NSCF Superintendent Scott Martin has been placed on paid administrative leave and will not be returning to his position. Assistant Superintendent Mike Koehler will serve as Acting Superintendent until further notice.

TIF Report: Program increases Ed Fund and economic opportunity

The Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) has released an independent analysis of Vermont’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) program that concluded that TIF helps Vermont meet its smart growth goals, promotes long-term planning, and contributes to net-growth in the Education Fund. The report comes as the Vermont Legislature considers expanding TIF to smaller, rural communities through “project-based TIF”. Vermont’s TIF law allows municipalities to incur debt to make public infrastructure investments and repay that debt with a portion of the increased property tax revenue sparked by the new infrastructure.

BETA announces $375M in new financing

More investors are betting on Beta, the cutting edge Vermont electric plane company, according to WCAX-TV. The high-tech company based at the Burlington Airport says it has raised another $375-million in financing to support the development of its fully electric planes. Beta’s marquis product is called the Alia. It takes off and lands vertically and can carry up to 1,400-hundred pounds of cargo or up to six people.

PUC to consider lower net metering rate for solar owners

Vermont energy regulators are considering changes to the state’s net metering program, WCAX-TV reports, which could result in owners of residential solar projects receiving less compensation for the power they feed back into the grid. Owners of solar panels often get a credit on their energy bills for the excess electricity they produce that is then sent back to their utility. Every two years, energy regulators re-evaluate net-metering rates to make sure they’re in line with power costs. It’s a chance for state officials to evaluate the program’s costs and benefits.

CSX receives approval from STB to acquire Pan Am Railways

CSX Corp (NASDAQ: CSX) announced April 14 that the Surface Transportation Board (STB) approved CSX’s application to acquire Pan Am Railways, Inc. CSX will move forward with the acquisition with a planned closing date of June 1, 2022, at which time CSX will acquire control of Pan Am. The rail lines include the Vermont Railway link in Bellows Falls and part of the Amtrak line along the Connecticut River in Vermont. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Rodney Smolla to lead Vermont Law School

The Vermont Law School (VLS) Board of Trustees has announced that it has named Rodney A Smolla incoming VLS president. The higher education leader and legal educator, litigator, scholar, and author will become the school’s president on July 1. Professor Smolla’s appointment represents the first in a series of personnel and operational transformations called for in a board-adopted strategic plan aimed at elevating the school’s world-renowned environmental program and first-of-its-kind restorative justice program, and growing enrollment and institutional reputation by appealing to a wider audience of prospective students and donors.

UVMHN and UnitedHealthcare reach agreement on new contract at 11th hour

The University of Vermont Health Network has agreed in principle to commercial contract terms with UnitedHealthcare (UHC) for the coming contract year. The agreement would run through March 31, 2023, if finalized, and affects about 2,900 subscribers (about 2,000 in Vermont) and their families in Vermont and Northern New York who have UHC coverage through their employers. UHC has been leaning on hospital groups across the East to lower their costs. UVMHN called the new deal a “partial victory” against a much larger entity.

UVM Health Network suspends adolescent mental health unit project

Just after projecting a massive budget deficit for two of its hospitals, the largest health network in Vermont has paused plans for an inpatient psychiatric unit for children and adolescents in Burlington, reported.

The Vermont Department of Mental Health in February began looking for candidates to open as many as 10 psychiatric beds for children and adolescents outside of the Brattleboro Retreat, the only hospital that offers such services.

Only the University of Vermont Medical Center responded, but did not commit, to the state’s request.

Vermont bigwigs bank on a new lending venture for businesses

Vermont bigwigs are teaming up to open a brand new bank in Chittenden County, reported WCAX-TV. It’s tailored specifically to support local businesses in a way big banks can’t.

The investor-owned operation is called the bank of Burlington. And if leaders get the greenlight, it will be the first new financial institution chartered in Vermont since 1989.

The Bank of Burlington has 19 founders, eight of whom are on the board of directors. Many are names you might recognize, including the owners of Al’s French Frys, S.D. Ireland, Hula and Larkin Realty.

M&T Bank completes $8.3 billion acquisition of People’s United

M&T Bank Corporation (NYSE: MTB) has completed its acquisition of People’s United Financial, Inc. (NASDAQ: PBCT) valued at $8.3 billion. The combined company employs more than 22,000 people and has a network of over 1,000 branches and 2,200 ATMs that span 12 states from Maine to Virginia and Washington, DC. People’s has branches across Vermont and is the former Chittenden Bank. People’s United common stock no longer trades on the NASDAQ after Friday, April 1, 2022.

Mercy Connections honors the legacy of Sister Janice Ryan

Sister Janice Ryan, a leader for education equity in Vermont, passed away peacefully on March 30, 2022, at the age of 86. “She was a beautiful force for good and a social justice icon in Vermont,” said Mercy Connections’ Executive Director, Lisa Falcone.

Among many other accomplishments and with other Vermont Sisters of Mercy, Sister Janice, a former President of Trinity College, played a leading role in the founding of Mercy Connections when Trinity College closed in 2001. They created Mercy Connections to continue education, particularly Trinity College’s Women’s Small Business Program, a cutting-edge program that launched hundreds of women business owners in Vermont.

Remembering Bill Truex, citizen architect

William H Truex Jr, FAIA, passed away peacefully in his Burlington home on April 10 at the age of 85, with his devoted wife Jill Williams at his side. Bill was a citizen architect in every sense of the word. In 1968 he joined Gene Alexander and founded a new architecture firm, which would merge 4 years later with Bill DeGroot and Tom Cullins. From the very beginning, the firm was focused on urban planning and the design of buildings that serve a public purpose.

Bill was dedicated to improving communities through architecture. Over the span of his career, he designed numerous Red Cross Blood Centers in the United States and was the lead designer for notable landmarks such as the U.S. Coast Guard Station on the Burlington waterfront, the Visitors Center at Mount Independence, and the Hoehl Welcome Center at Saint Michael’s College.

His most transformative creation was the Church Street Marketplace. Bill developed the first design concept for the marketplace in the early 1970s. As chair of the Burlington Planning Commission, Bill enlisted the support of Street Commissioner Pat Robins and Senator Patrick Leahy to close a busy downtown artery and create a new pedestrian core for Burlington’s downtown. The Church Street Marketplace is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated as one of America’s Great Public Spaces by the American Planning Association.

Vail to provide affordable housing for employees at Okemo

Vail Resorts has announced four investments to provide accessible and affordable housing for its employees at Park City Mountain in Utah, Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Vail Mountain in Colorado, and Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont as part of the company’s strategic focus on investing in the employee experience. Collectively, the four investments will provide new affordable housing to more than 875 Vail Resorts employees, marking a more than 10 percent increase in affordable employee housing offered by the company across its resorts. Okemo joins a growing number of Vermont businesses using and needing company housing because of the tight and expensive market here, as workers are in short supply.

Okemo joins a growing number of Vermont businesses using and needing company housing because of the tight and expensive market here, as workers are in short supply. Other private entities include The UVM Medical Center in Burlington (spending $2.8 million now on a South Burlington project for 61 units), Northern Stage (a theater company in White River Junction to build 15 apartments), and Middlebury College (100 units). The Okemo plan is to house 30 or more workers at the resort in Ludlow.

Vermont to get $215,500 from online vaping retailers

Attorney General TJ Donovan has announced that his office has reached settlements with two different online sellers of electronic cigarettes for violations of Vermont’s Delivery Sales Ban and Vermont’s Consumer Protection Act. Under the settlements, the companies resolved claims that they sold electronic cigarettes, e-liquids, or other tobacco paraphernalia to individual consumers. As of July 1, 2019, it is illegal to sell electronic cigarettes and related “vaping” products over the internet to individual Vermont consumers. In total, the companies will pay $215,500 in civil penalties to the State of Vermont. Since December 2020, the Attorney General’s Office has reached settlements with 23 online sellers of electronic cigarettes, totaling $833,750 in civil penalties.

Vermont communities get big grants to bolster outdoor recreation

Governor Phil Scott and the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC) have announced 24 recipients of the VOREC Community Grant Program. In announcing this round of grant recipients of over $4 million, the governor restated his support for outdoor recreation as an important means for economic recovery and development. The grant recipients, announced at an event in Danville, joined the nine other communities who have received funding through the program since it was established by Act 194 in 2018.

Hoehl Family Foundation grants $150,000 to Make-A-Wish Vermont

Make-A-Wish Vermont has announced that the Hoehl Family Foundation of South Burlington, Vermont, has granted the organization $150,000 to be paid out over the next three years. This is the third grant the Hoehl Family Foundation has gifted Make-A-Wish Vermont. In 2021, funding provided by the Hoehl Family Foundation played a significant role in Noah Ziefrus of Springfield’s wish to resurface his hometown basketball court. Noah’s wish was for future generations to be able to play basketball in his community many years to come.

Vermont Legal Aid Executive Director Eric Avildsen announces retirement

The executive director of Vermont Legal Aid (VLA), Eric Avildsen, will retire at the end of October 2022. Avildsen has been executive director since 1988, when he moved to Vermont from Massachusetts. Under his direction, the size of staff and breadth of legal work undertaken has increased significantly. And VLA now has a staff of 89, organized into 11 projects and has an annual budget of over $9.5 million dollars.

Vermont families, delegation send off Air Guard to Europe

The Vermont Air National Guard held a deployment ceremony April 29 to recognize the sacrifices of Airmen and their families ahead of the 158th Fighter Wing’s deployment to Europe. During the ceremony General Knight presented a Green Mountain Boy battle flag to two deploying Airmen. The flag is used as the regimental flag of the Vermont National Guard and accompanies units on missions as a symbol of the trust and confidence the Adjutant General places in the unit to succeed in their assigned mission.

Norwich University graduates 531 in 2022 commencement ceremony

Norwich University celebrated commencement and commissioning with April 30 ceremonies in Shapiro Field House in which 531 students graduated from 32 undergraduate programs and one master’s program and 134 graduates commissioned into the U.S. armed services. The 10 am commencement ceremony included graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021, who joined members of the Class of 2022, which graduated 518 bachelor’s degree recipients and 13 master’s degree recipients.

EPA gives Vermont high grades for water quality work

Vermont remains on track to meet its water quality goals. That’s the conclusion of a recent report card issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Each year EPA Region 1 evaluates the work being done by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM). The most recent report card gives Vermont high marks. “Beyond the successful implementation in the Winooski, Lamoille, and Mississquoi basins, we are pleased to note the many broader accomplishments documented in the Performance Report. EPA continues to be pleased with the quantity and quality of work completed since passage of Act 64.”

Casella posts 1Q 2022 results and updates FY22 guidance

Casella Waste Systems, Inc (NASDAQ: CWST), a Rutland-based regional solid waste, recycling and resource management services company, has reported its financial results for the three month period ended March 31, 2022. The company also updated certain guidance ranges for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2022. Revenues were $234.0 million for the quarter, up $44.5 million, or up 23.5%, from the same period in 2021. Net income was $4.2 million for the quarter, down $(0.1) million, or down (2.8)%, from the same period in 2021.

GS Precision acquires aerospace firm FT Gearing

GS Precision, Inc, a Brattleboro-based manufacturer of complex, high-precision components and specialty hardware used primarily in aerospace engines and defense systems, has announced that it acquired FT Gearing Systems, a provider of highly engineered gears to the aerospace and defense industries. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. GSP is a portfolio company of AE Industrial Partners, a US-based private equity firm specializing in aerospace, defense & government services, space, power & utility services, and specialty industrial markets. FT Gearing marks GSP's second add-on acquisition since being acquired by AEI, including its acquisition of SMC Aerospace last month.

Board approves plans for new Burlington High School

The Burlington Board of School Commissioners has selected a conceptual design for a new high school and technical center in Burlington School District. The board voted unanimously to support what had been known as “Option C”, a building that would run parallel to Institute Road with Burlington High School (BHS) located in the eastern portion of the building and Burlington Technical Center (BTC) located in the western portion of the building.
A high-level cost estimate based on the square footage and location of the building has projected the building to cost $181.3 million

McClure Foundation announces promise of free early degree at CCV

The J Warren & Lois McClure Foundation has announced the McClure Free Degree Promise through the Early College Program at CCV for Vermont’s high school classes of 2023-2026. The McClure Foundation’s promise will cover tuition and fees after any federal and state financial aid, and provide enhanced career and education advising as well as stipends to help with books, transportation, and other costs associated with going to college. The state’s Early College program allows Vermont high school seniors the option to complete their last year of high school and their first year of college at the same time, earning free college credits that also count toward graduation from high school.

$13.5 million available to help Vermont schools upgrade air quality systems

As Vermont continues its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and seeks to build resilience for future challenges, schools across the state are investing in ventilation systems to improve indoor air quality and make classrooms healthier for students and staff. This spring, the Vermont Agency of Education (AOE) and Efficiency Vermont launched the second round of the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Grant Program, which makes $13.5 million of federal funds available to schools with qualifying projects, through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021.

FEMA sending $3.5 million to Vermont for emergency meals and COVID response

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will be sending nearly $1.5 million to the State of Vermont to reimburse the costs of providing emergency meals for residents in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. The $1,473,362 Public Assistance grant will go to the Agency of Commerce and Community Development for providing meal preparation and delivery service to high-risk populations under the state’s emergency feeding program “Vermont Everyone Eats” between January and February 2022. FEMA also will be sending more than $2 million to the State of Vermont to reimburse the costs of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Community Health Centers of Burlington support staff vote 'Yes' to unionize

Support staff at the Community Health Centers of Burlington (CHCB) voted yesterday to join Community Health United, part of AFT Vermont. Support staff cited improved wages, fair and consistent pay scales, and safe staffing as key issues prompting the organizing drive. Both parties are committed to maintaining ongoing collaboration and mutual respect in the shared goals of serving our communities with the highest level of care. The final count in the election monitored by the NLRB was 59 to 11.

Governor appoints Daniel Richardson to Vermont Superior Court

Governor Phil Scott has announced his appointment of Daniel Richardson, of Burlington, to the Vermont Superior Court. Richardson was appointed last August as city attorney and corporate counsel for the City of Burlington. Prior to this role, Richardson was a partner at Tarrant, Gillies & Shems for 16 years, where he represented a number of individuals, businesses, and municipalities.

Gun deaths surpass motor vehicle deaths in Vermont, 34 states and DC

Gun deaths outpaced motor vehicle deaths in 34 states and the District of Columbia in 2020, the most recent year for which data is available, a new analysis from the Violence Policy Center (VPC) reveals. There were 76 gun deaths in Vermont and 70 motor vehicle deaths. Gun deaths (including gun suicide, homicide, and fatal unintentional shootings) outpaced motor vehicle deaths (both occupant and pedestrian) in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Inmate dies at Springfield prison of suspected suicide

The Vermont Department of Corrections is conducting an internal review, to include administrative and medical reviews, following the death of an incarcerated individual at Southern State Correctional Facility (SSCF) in Springfield on Thursday. Matthew Castellini, 35, of White River Junction, was found unresponsive by Vermont DOC staff at approximately 6 am on April 28, 2022. Correctional and medical staff first responders began life-saving efforts and called for outside medical assistance. Castellini was pronounced deceased at the facility. The official cause of death will be determined by the Vermont State Medical Examiner but, at this time, the cause is suspected to be suicide.

Ledyard Financial Group declares 21-cent quarterly dividend

Ledyard Financial Group has announced a regular quarterly dividend of $0.21 payable May 27, 2022, to shareholders of record as of May 13, 2022. Ledyard Financial Group, Inc., headquartered in Hanover, New Hampshire, is the holding company for Ledyard National Bank. Ledyard National Bank, founded in 1991, is a full service community bank offering a broad range of banking, investment, and wealth management services.

Two bald eagles in Vermont test positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza

With the discovery of a deceased bald eagle in North Hero and one ill bald eagle in Shelburne on March 29, Vermont joined 33 other states across the country in detecting highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the environment. The bald eagles were found near Lake Champlain in both towns. Sampling was conducted by USDA Wildlife Services and tests were conducted for presence of HPAI at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. The discovery reinforces the important public message of awareness and vigilance for poultry owners, farmers, and hunters and outdoors recreationists to not only report sick and dead birds, but to recognize the dangers of HPAI to our small backyard poultry owners and commercial operators.

Two Vermont hotels on Top 25 Most Magnificent Gardens list

Historic Hotels of America has some of the most magnificent and beautiful storybook gardens. Multigenerational guests select a historic hotel, resort, or inn to explore, experience, and discover their own ever-blossoming memories in beautiful gardens where multigenerational hosts have cared for gardens over the centuries. Many the hotels feature grounds designed by legendary landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and his son, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. In Vermont, the Basin Harbor in Vergennes and Castle Hill Resort & Spa in Cavendish were among those on the 25 Most Magnificent Gardens list.

Kansas woman wins HGTV $2.4M package, home in Vermont

HGTV has announced the winner of the HGTV Dream Home 2022 is Karey Wolstenholm of Overland Park, Kansas. The prize package is valued at over $2.4 million and includes the brand-new approximately 3,090-square-foot home, consisting of three bedrooms and three-and-a-half bathrooms, as well as all of its furnishings. The prize package also includes an All-New 2022 Grand Wagoneer and $250,000 from Rocket Mortgage. The home in Warren, Vermont, was designed by Dylan Eastman, constructed by builder Big Country Built with interior design by Brian Patrick Flynn.