News in Brief, October 2023

(Roundup of news from the last month)


JetBlue to end service to Vermont

JetBlue will no longer be providing their one route from Patrick Leahy Burlington International Airport. Because of the FAA’s decision on slot waivers, JetBlue cut its twice-daily service to JFK entirely and Delta will reduce its service from BTV to JFK from three flights a day to one and to LaGuardia from four a day to two. With slot waivers extended until October 2024, JetBlue and Delta can cut back flights without losing their coveted New York slots. JFK has been the most restricted airport in the US, to the extent that United previously gave up its slots because of restrictions. The FAA extended the slot waiver through October 2024, primarily due to air traffic controller shortages in the Northeast, thus allowing airlines to reduce routes without losing slots. Along with BTV, Delta is reducing the number of flights to Bangor, ME; Norfolk, VA; and Syracuse, NY. JetBlue service goes back more than two decades and the airline averaged 10% of Leahy BTV passengers on a monthly basis.


US DOE supports 1.2 gigawatt power line from Quebec through Vermont and NH

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced Monday that it is entering into capacity contract negotiations through the Transmission Facilitation Program with a commitment of up to $1.3 billion in three transmission projects across six states aimed at adding 3.5 GW of additional grid capacity and creating more than 13,000 direct and indirect jobs. Vermont and New Hampshire are two of those states selected through a project called the Twin States Clean Energy Link. The 1.2 gigawatt Link will cross into Vermont from Quebec in the Northeast Kingdom (Canaan) and run underground on the Vermont side of the Connecticut River along state roads before crossing into New Hampshire in Lunenburg. It will then be picked up by existing overhead lines before reaching a new substation in Londonderry, NH.


GlobalFoundries gets $35M from feds for next-generation GaN chips

GlobalFoundries (Nasdaq: GFS) (GF) has been awarded $35 million in federal funding from the US government to accelerate the manufacturing of GF’s differentiated gallium nitride (GaN) on silicon semiconductors at its facility in Essex Junction, Vermont. This funding brings GF closer to large-scale production of GaN chips, which are unique in their ability to handle high voltages and temperatures. These chips are positioned to enable game-changing performance and efficiency in 5G and 6G cellular communications for infrastructure and handsets, automotive and industrial Internet of things (IoT), as well as power grids and other critical infrastructure.


Tax revenues stay ahead of targets despite volatility

State tax revenues finally saw some breathing room in September after several months of sluggish performance. Led by the Personal Income Tax, the General Fund for September 2023, the third month of the fiscal year, exceeded expectations by nearly $15.5 million. The three major funds together, which includes Education and Transportation, surpassed their total target by $8.7 million. The Personal Income Tax alone exceeded expectations by nearly $17 million. The PI is the most important General Fund revenue source. Several other important sources missed their marks, including Corporate Income, Sales and Rooms & Meals.

The General Fund surpassed its monthly consensus cash flow target, while revenues in both the Transportation Fund and Education Fund failed to achieve their respective monthly consensus targets during September.  The state’s General Fund, Transportation Fund, and Education Fund receipts were a combined $301.0 million, exceeding the $292.3 million monthly consensus target by $8.7 million, or 3.0%. General Fund revenues for September totaled $216.0 million, $15.5 million, or 7.7%, above the $200.5 million monthly consensus cash flow target. Personal Income Tax receipts surpassed their $97.4 million target by $16.9 million, or 17.3%, to yield $114.3 million.


Vermont’s unemployment up one-tenth to 1.9% in September

Vermont’s unemployment rate rose one-tenth to 1.9% in September, as the number of unemployed edged up (+3.1%). The Vermont Department of Labor has released the seasonally adjusted data. Vermont still has the second lowest rate in the nation. Maryland is lowest at 1.6% and Nevada is highest at 5.4%. The comparable United States rate in September was 3.8 percent, no change from the revised August estimate. The civilian labor force participation rate was 64.1 percent in September, an increase of one-tenth of one percentage point from the prior month’s revised estimate.


Burlington approves lease extension for Vermont Air National Guard at BTV

The Burlington City Council has approved a 25-year lease extension with the Vermont Air National Guard (VTANG) at the Patrick Leahy Burlington International Airport. VTANG’s current lease provides the Guard operating rights until June 30, 2048. However, Department of Defense regulations dictate military installations must have more than 25 years remaining on their lease to allocate Military Construction (MILCON) funding. Thus, without an extension (until 2073), VTANG would have been unable to move forward with $51 million in planned and federally funded capital investments at the airport in the next five years. These capital investments include $7.7 million in renewable energy and clean heating projects and $32 million for the construction of new Net Zero buildings.   


Vermont State University offers voluntary faculty buyout as part of program optimization efforts

Vermont State University (VTSU) Interim President Mike Smith has released the voluntary faculty buyout plan to university faculty as part of the ongoing academic Optimization efforts. Optimization calls for programs to be either maintained, sunset, moved, or consolidated to save as much as $3.35 million annually, to meet student needs better, and to grow more relevant and in-demand programs. Additionally, this plan seeks to increase student-to-faculty ratios from approximately 1 to 13 today to 1 to 18 in the coming years. The plan involves the reduction of between 20-33 full-time faculty positions out of the current 207. The voluntary buyout plan, was presented as the next step in Optimization, recognizes that faculty members have different personal and professional goals. Some may elect to leave Vermont State University after the close of the academic year, forestalling the need for layoffs. 

At the end of October, Smith released his final set of recommendations in October which, when taken together with Optimization 2.0 released earlier, positions Vermont State University to achieve fiscal sustainability by Fiscal Year 2027.  Highlights of the plan include: Total administrative savings of approximately $3.1 million. A reduction of 33 full-time positions with 21 being at executive, management, or supervisory level. Shared services savings of $500-600K across the Vermont State Colleges system in Fiscal Year 2025. Savings in the health care plan of $3 million while maintaining a platinum plan for employees much like the state’s plan for its employees. Total savings will be $12 million. As of this writing, because of voluntary buyouts, only one position will have to be laid off.

Saint Michael’s College announces 18th president

The Saint Michael's College Board of Trustees announced today that Richard Plumb, Ph.D., will become the 18th president of the College. He will begin his new role in January 2024. Dr. Plumb brings extensive institutional leadership experience, having most recently served as president of Saint Mary's College in California. Prior to that, Dr. Plumb served seven years as executive vice president and provost at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota and nine years as dean of the Seaver College of Science and Engineering at Loyola Marymount University. A first-generation college student, Dr. Plumb holds a bachelor's degree, master's degree and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Syracuse University.  Dr. Plumb was selected by the College’s Board of Trustees with guidance from a committee comprised of faculty, staff and students representing various areas of the College. He emerged as the best candidate from a pool of over 90 applicants who were recruited and vetted by Academic Search, a highly regarded firm that supports executive recruitment for colleges and universities.  


DFR approves affiliation of BCBS of Vermont and BCBS of Michigan

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan have received formal approval from the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation to affiliate and work together across both companies. The affiliation enables both organizations to begin sharing resources and expertise to broaden health plan and service offerings available through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont. This will not change the local structure of BCBSVT or how it is regulated.


BETA Technologies opens electric aircraft production facility

BETA Technologies, an electric aerospace company based in South Burlington, has opened the doors on to a large-scale production facility at the Patrick Leahy Burlington International Airport (BTV) in Vermont, where it will manufacture and assemble its all-electric aircraft. Production has begun with the installation of assembly tooling and the initiation of various system production lines, marking a significant milestone along BETA’s path to delivering its all-electric aircraft, the ALIA CTOL and the ALIA VTOL, to military and commercial customers. BETA’s facility is designed to be net-zero, equipped with state-of-the-art sustainability technology.


Chittenden County housing not meeting goals

At a press conference at the Zephyr Place apartments in Williston (a newly converted hotel into housing) leaders of the Building Homes Together campaign issued its annual report card on progress towards reaching housing production and affordability goals for Chittenden County. As housing costs continue to escalate and rental vacancy rates consistently failing to exceed even 1%, falling short of housing and affordability goals means the region’s economy and people will continue to struggle. Building costs and rising interest rates have contributed to a “chipping away” of available funding, as other factors such as workforce shortages have delayed development. The campaign tallied 594 apartments and homes constructed in 2022, with 110 of them permanently affordable. Those numbers represent just 59% and 44% respectively of the campaign’s annual targets of 1,000 homes and 250 permanently affordable ones.


Vermont Public President Finn to step down at the end of year

The Vermont Public Board of Directors has announced that Scott Finn, President and CEO, is stepping down from the organization at the end of this year following nearly six cumulative years first with Vermont Public Radio and now Vermont Public, after its 2021 merger with Vermont PBS. The Board of Directors also announced that Brendan Kinney, Senior VP of Development, a nearly 14 year veteran of Vermont Public, will be moving into the Interim CEO role.


State announces $16 million in funding for stormwater projects at public schools

The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announces over $16 million in construction funding to Vermont schools to reduce stormwater runoff and pollution entering Lake Champlain and Lake Memphremagog from Vermont public schools through the Green Schools Initiative. The Green Schools Initiative offers funding and technical assistance to help public schools and state colleges meet provisions outlined in the Vermont Clean Water Act; specifically stormwater run-off regulations outlined in the Three-Acre General Permit. The permit requires most sites with three or more acres of paved or developed surfaces, including roofs and parking lots, to treat polluted stormwater and reduce runoff before it flows into local waterways.


Attorney General Clark sues Meta for Instagram’s harm to teens’ mental health

Attorney General Charity Clark has sued Meta to hold the company accountable for its contribution to the mental health crisis that grips teens in America and Vermont. The lawsuit, which targets Instagram, alleges Meta designed Instagram to cause young people to use the platform compulsively and excessively. Meta did this to maximize the time young users spend on the platform in order to maximize the company’s advertising revenue. In addition to causing compulsive use, Instagram poses other serious mental health risks to youth, which Meta knows and continues to perpetuate. The lawsuit filed by Attorney General Clark is part of a coordinated national enforcement effort, of which Vermont is a leader, involving 42 attorneys general.


Scott announces winners of over $4 million in downtown tax incentives

Governor Phil Scott and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) announced over $4 million in funding to support a record number of rehabilitation and revitalization projects throughout Vermont’s designated downtown and village centers. These 31 project awards will help generate over $150 million in building improvements and public infrastructure around the state.


US Secret Service awards Champlain College $3.4M for cybersecurity

The United States Secret Service (USSS) and the National Computer Forensics Institute (NCFI) have awarded a multi-million dollar Cyber Range Contract to Champlain College. The contract awards the College $3.4M over five years (2023-2027) to maintain, manage, and utilize its cyber range and curriculum to train law enforcement across the nation in realistic, hands-on digital forensics and prevention of cyber crimes. For the past five years, Champlain College students and faculty at the Leahy Center for Digital Forensics and Cybersecurity have been working as a subgrantee of George Mason University to develop and build a cyber range – an interactive virtual environment that simulates cybersecurity incidents – and assess the USSS cybersecurity crime curriculum.


Consortium with UVM, GlobalFoundries wins recognition from White House as Tech Hub

A consortium led by the University of Vermont and including GlobalFoundries and the state of Vermont has been designated as one of 31 Tech Hubs by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), unlocking the opportunity for up to $75M in federal grant funding to further research in semiconductor technology. Advancing Gallium Nitride (GaN) Technology in the Greater Burlington Area was selected by the Tech Hubs program from nearly 400 applications. The aim of the program is to “strengthen U.S. economic and national security by catalyzing technology-based regional growth that enables the industries of the future to start, grow, and remain in regions across our country,” according to the EDA’s announcement of the designation, which corresponded with a live event hosted by President Biden.


Governor announces $6 million in Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economy grants

Phil Scott and the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC) have announced $6 million in funding  will be available to support communities across the state to strengthen their local outdoor recreation economies, including support for communities to recover flood impacted outdoor recreation resources and projects to expand outdoor equity. The VOREC program – established by Governor Scott in 2017 and jointly led by the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR) and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) – has opened the 2023 VOREC Community Grant Program and is now accepting applications.


Deadline to apply for FEMA assistance extended to October 31

Vermont residents affected by July’s severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides now have until October 31 to apply for FEMA assistance. This does not mean you should delay applying – the sooner you apply, the sooner FEMA can process your claim. If you had storm-caused expenses and live or own a business in Caledonia, Chittenden, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, Rutland, Washington, Windham or Windsor counties, FEMA assistance can provide grants and U.S. Small Business Administration loans to help you cover temporary housing, home repairs and other disaster-related needs.


UVM partners with GlobalFoundries, Department of Education on new semiconductor lab

An innovative Device Characterization Lab made possible by a partnership between The University of Vermont’s College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS) and GlobalFoundries (GF) was unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on campus. The only educational semiconductor lab in the state, the new lab heralds an essential phase of the ongoing initiative to prepare students to work in the rapidly expanding field. The facility features a suite of scientific testing and analysis equipment donated by GF. The seed of the project was planted last fall when the U.S. Department of Education (DoE) awarded UVM $2.6M to develop and implement expanded educational opportunities in semiconductor technology.


FEMA announces assistance for Addison County

FEMA has announced that federal disaster assistance has been made available for the state of Vermont to supplement recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms and flooding that occurred Aug. 3-5, 2023. The President’s action makes public assistance federal funding available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities in Addison County. It does not include individual assistance.


Tourism Dept launches $2 million ‘Grants for Relocation Outreach Work’ program

The Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing (VDTM) has launched the Grants for Relocation Outreach Work (GROW) program intended to support local, regional, county-wide, or state-wide organizations conducting new resident relocation, recruitment, and retention activities. The program will grant $1.3M to organizations across the state to increase their capacity for new resident relocation and retention work in their local communities over a period of two years.


AG announces $3 million settlement with Blackbaud over 2020 data breach

Attorney General Charity Clark has announced that she, along with 49 other attorneys general, has reached a settlement with software company Blackbaud for its deficient data security practices and response to a 2020 ransomware event that exposed the personal information of millions of consumers across the nation. Under the settlement, Blackbaud has agreed to overhaul its data security and breach notification practices and make a $49.5 million payment to states. As one of the states leading the investigation into Blackbaud, Vermont will receive $3 million from the settlement.


Delegation hails USDA’s $7M investment in Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Senator Peter Welch (D-Vermont) and Representative Becca Balint (D-Vermont) applauded the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) investment of more than $7 million in the Northeast Dairy Business Innovation Center, housed within the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. The Innovation Center, which was a priority of former Senator Patrick Leahy established in the 2018 Farm Bill, supports small and mid-sized dairy businesses in the development, production, marketing, and distribution of dairy products. This funding will help Vermont and regional dairy producers increase sales, open new markets, create jobs, and expand infrastructure.


Forest activists looking for judge’s reconsideration in Camel’s Hump logging case

Forest preservation activists are waiting to see whether their lawsuit to stop logging on about 3,760 acres on public lands around Camel’s Hump still has life. Activist group Standing Trees and Duxbury residents Jamison Ervin and Alan Pierce asked Vermont Superior Court Judge Timothy Tomasi on Sept. 26 to reconsider his Sept. 1 dismissal of their November 2022 lawsuit against the state. The lawsuit claims that officials violated public process laws regarding plans to start logging in the Camel’s Hump Management Unit, a stretch of about 26,000 acres in north-central Vermont that includes the popular mountain and state park.


Governor announces $3.3 million wastewater pretreatment projects

Governor Phil Scott and the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC’s) Wastewater Program have announced $3.3 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) awards to help municipalities and businesses improve their wastewater quality through removing pollutants early in the process and ensuring adequate capacity for wastewater treatment. This is the second round of funding that will be used to install and upgrade wastewater treatment infrastructure at businesses in Vermont.


Vermont Community Loan Fund lends $3,729,400 in 3rd Quarter 2023

In its heyday – its first heyday, that is – Burlington’s Goethe Lodge was a happening place. Established in 1896 as the Vermont Chapter of the German Order of Harugari, a national German-American cultural association, the Goethe Lodge social club hosted music, dances, and celebrations. For this growing community of new American immigrants, it provided fellowship, connection, mutual aid, and, an anomaly in late 19th century society, even admitted women(!). Across the decades, the Goethe’s popularity ebbed and flowed. In the 1960s, when membership lulled, the club dropped its German-descent requirement and eventually renamed itself the Champlain Club. But by the early 2000s, a fundraising effort to pay back taxes spurred new community excitement, as dance clubs, arts classes, and community groups came to embrace the space.


Vermont Department of Labor announces minimum wage increase starting January 2024

The Vermont Department of Labor has announced an increase to the State’s minimum wage. Beginning January 1, 2024, the State’s minimum wage will become $13.66 per hour. This is an increase of $0.48 from the current minimum wage of $13.18. This annual adjustment also impacts the minimum wage for tipped employees. The Basic Tipped Wage Rate for service, or “tipped employees,” equals 50% of the full minimum wage. On January 1, 2024, the tipped minimum wage will increase from $6.28 to $6.84 per hour.


Union Bankshares reports 3Q 2023 earnings, declares dividend

Union Bankshares, Inc (NASDAQ - UNB) has reported results for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2023 and declared a regular quarterly cash dividend. Consolidated net income for the three months ended September 30, 2023, was $2.5 million, or $0.56 per share, compared to $3.8 million, or $0.84 cents per share, for the same period in 2022, and $8.2 million, or $1.82 per share, for the nine months ended September 30, 2023, compared to $9.2 million, or $2.04 per share for the same period in 2022.  Decreases in net income were primarily driven by changes in interest rates between periods, predominantly by a Federal Funds Target Range over 5% as of September 30, 2023.


Vermont gets $1.9 million for environmental justice projects as part of Investing in America agenda

The US Environmental Protection Agency announced nearly $1.9 million to fund two projects across Vermont that advance environmental justice as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. The organizations, which EPA has selected through its Environmental Justice Government-to-Government program, will use the funds to ensure disadvantaged communities that have historically suffered from underinvestment have access to clean air and water and climate resilience solutions in alignment with the Biden-Harris administration’s Justice40 Initiative.   


Senate confirms Vermonter Michael Whitaker as FAA Administrator

Senator Peter Welch (D-VT) applauded the confirmation of Michael Whitaker, of Vermont, to become Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Whitaker received full bipartisan support in a 98-0 Senate vote. Senator Welch recently called for his colleagues to support Whitaker’s nomination, following his bipartisan advancement through the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, of which Sen. Welch is a member.


Vermont State University announces major expansion to its nursing programs

Vermont State University (VTSU) recently announced that it will expand its nursing program and facilities to enroll more students. The Williston and Johnson campuses of VTSU will undergo substantial renovation to expand the nursing education center at Williston and create a new nursing education center at Johnson. The Castleton campus will gain a telepresence classroom; the Lyndon classroom will receive updates to its lab; other nursing education locations will see improvements such as human patient simulators and additional lab equipment.


CVEDC honors 7 businesses at annual meeting, Including Business of the Year

The Business of the Year for 2023 was voted by the CVEDC Board of Directors as Kingsbury Companies of Middlesex. Kingsbury Companies was recognized at the CVEDC Annual Meeting October 19 at Sugarbush for its growth and innovation. Director Gunner McCain delivered the award along with a heartfelt speech on his own decades of overlap with Kingsbury. The Directors also noted Kingsbury Companies’ pivots into renewable energy spaces, citing their role in developing the largest anaerobic compost digestor in the Northeast. CVEDC has awarded the Business of the Year over 30 times since 1976.


Vermont launches open enrollment period on the health insurance marketplace

November 1 marks the beginning of the Open Enrollment period for Vermont’s health insurance marketplace. This is the time Vermonters can sign up for or change their health and dental plans for 2024. This year’s Open Enrollment is especially important for Vermonters who may have lost Medicaid coverage or otherwise became uninsured in the last year. Even though they can sign up at any time, the tools, and resources available for Open Enrollment make this the perfect opportunity to shop for a plan and take advantage of expanded financial help. Vermonters can save money on the amount they pay for plans, called premiums, if they qualify and sign up on the health insurance marketplace, also known as Vermont Health Connect.


More than $20 million fuel assistance in Vermont

With winter around the corner and heating costs projected to increase this season, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Senator Peter Welch (D-Vermont), and Representative Becca Balint (D-Vermont) have announced that Vermont will receive more than $20.7 million in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds.
The funding will help low-income individuals and families pay their home heating costs and also help with cooling bills in the summer. LIHEAP can also be used to weatherize homes to make them more energy efficient, and used during disasters and extreme weather to mitigate energy emergencies. The funding released includes funds appropriated for this year from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Killington Resort and Great Gulf pledge $700,000 to support workforce housing

Vermont’s Killington Resort, the largest ski and snowboard destination in Eastern North America, has partnered with Great Gulf and will donate a total of $700,000 to the Town of Killington. The money is allocated to fund 70 acres of land in Killington on which to develop workforce housing, part of the area’s ongoing Killington Forward initiative. Killington Resort is committed to supporting the community through Play Forever, an initiative which aims to strengthen the place where we live with donations such as this one. The 70-acre plot is located off Nanak Way in Killington and will be serviced by the new municipal water system being installed over the next several years. The land is mapped for a total of 250-300 housing units, with 6-8 multifamily apartment buildings and 16-20 duplex or single-family homes with ample green space.


Forest activists looking for judge’s reconsideration in Camel’s Hump logging case

Forest preservation activists are waiting to see whether their lawsuit to stop logging on about 3,760 acres on public lands around Camel’s Hump still has life. Activist group Standing Trees and Duxbury residents Jamison Ervin and Alan Pierce asked Vermont Superior Court Judge Timothy Tomasi on Sept. 26 to reconsider his Sept. 1 dismissal of their November 2022 lawsuit against the state. The lawsuit claims that officials violated public process laws regarding plans to start logging in the Camel’s Hump Management Unit, a stretch of about 26,000 acres in north-central Vermont that includes the popular mountain and state park.


Arts & Culture accounts for over $18 million to the Upper Valley Region

The Upper Valley Business Alliance and Upper Valley Arts Alliance have announced that the Upper Valley's nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $18,972,138 in economic activity in 2022-2023, according to the newly released Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6), an economic and social impact study conducted by Americans for the Arts. That economic activity of $18,972,138 in spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and $2,431,895 in event-related spending by their audiences supported 308 jobs and generated $2,450,720 in local, state, and federal government revenue. Spending by arts and culture audiences generates valuable commerce to local merchants, a value-add that few other industries can compete with.

VHCB invests $5.2 million in housing development projects

At its September meetings, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB) will support the creation of shelters for people experiencing homelessness in the Northeast Kingdom and White River Junction, and a total investment of $5.2 million was made for housing development projects that will provide 42 rental apartments and 40 shelter beds in four Vermont communities. The Board also voted to invest $1.4 million in the conservation of 654 acres in five communities and $200,000 for historic preservation in one community.

VBSR honors 2023 award recipients at Zenbarn

Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility (VBSR) celebrated the 2023 recipients for four awards honoring Vermont leaders in social equity, environmental responsibility, and sustainable economic development. The 21st Annual VBSR Awards Ceremony and Dinner was held October 5 at Zenbarn in Waterbury Center. VBSR honored five awardees who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership advancing VBSR’s vision of a just, thriving, and transformative economy that works for all people and the planet: Jed Davis, Vice President, Strategic Engagement and Sustainability Agri-Mark/Cabot Creamery Co-operative with the VBSR Terry Ehrich Award for Lifetime Achievement; BETA Technologies with the VBSR Innovation and Inspiration Award – Large Organization; Bee the Change with the VBSR Innovation and Inspiration Award – Small Organization; Aly Richards, CEO, Let’s Grow Kids with the VBSR Young Changemaker Award;  and Rainbow Bridge Community Center with the VBSR Bridge Award.

UVM solar research facility at McNeil plant unveiled

A unique and wide-reaching group of partners have officially energized the new and innovative UVM Solar Research and Training Facility located at the McNeil Generating Station in Burlington. The facility is the culmination of a multi-year partnership among the City of Burlington, the McNeil Joint Owners, the University of Vermont (UVM), and Encore Renewable Energy. Representatives of those partners were joined at today’s announcement by Mayor Miro Weinberger, Senator Bernie Sanders, and representatives of VGS. The solar array, permitted for up to 50 kilowatts (kW) of solar panels, was built by Encore for UVM at the McNeil site with critical support from VGS to allow for shared infrastructure at the project site. The equipment for the facility was donated by the federal government with the assistance of Sanders, who also directed $150,000 in Congressional funding to the DOE to help make the project a reality.


Vermont contractor pays nearly $44K in punitive damages, lost wages to former employee

The US Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that the employer, a construction contractor, terminated an employee in March 2023, in retaliation for speaking with the employer and other employees about whether they were receiving the correct pay. In an administrative settlement with the division, Kingsbury Companies LLC has paid the worker $40,000 in punitive damages and $3,901 in back pay for the period during which the employee was looking for a new job after the retaliatory discharge.


UVM graduate student workers seek to form union

On October 30, a union representing over 600 graduate student-workers at the University of Vermont in Burlington will file for a union election with the VLRB with majority support. Student workers will rally on the UVM campus on the Davis Green at 12 to celebrate this accomplishment and make their union demands known to the administration. Their union is called Graduate Students United (GSU), and is affiliated through the United Auto Workers (UAW) and its Local 2322. Graduate student workers at UVM join thousands of other graduate student union members in the UAW.


Empty Bowl Dinner raises over $120,000 to support Vermont youth

Vermont community members and organizations came together to raise more than $120,000 at the 2023 Empty Bowl Dinner, benefitting Spectrum Youth & Family Services. The event was held on October 10, 2023, and sponsored by Vermont Federal Credit Union. Funds raised from the dinner will go toward supporting Vermont youth facing homelessness and other hardships. Held each October, the evening brings together community members and supporters. Guests choose a ceramic bowl made by local potters to keep and fill with soup donated by local restaurants and served by local celebrity servers.

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