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Hoffer releases report identifying risks to Vermont’s universal broadband efforts

Tue, 03/21/2023 - 4:42pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine State Auditor Doug Hoffer released a new report today highlighting potential risks to Vermont’s unique strategy to achieve universal broadband access. The Vermont Community Broadband Board is overseeing the distribution of approximately $350 million to extend high speed internet to every unserved address in the state. At the local level, ten communications union districts (CUDs), which have been formed by groups of Vermont towns, are receiving the funds and partnering with private telecommunications companies to extend fiber to residential and business addresses and to provide service. The report identifies 10 risks the VCBB needs to mitigate to increase the likelihood that every Vermonter will have access to 100/100 Mbps service. The risks range from supply chain issues, to federal spending restrictions, to contract and governance oversight concerns.

Woman struck and killed by Amtrak train identified

Tue, 03/21/2023 - 3:38pm -- tim

Vermont State Police On 03/17/2023 at approximately 1955 hrs., the Vermont State Police along with the Waterbury Fire Department and Waterbury Ambulance Service were called to a report of a person who had been struck by a northbound Amtrak passenger train on the railroad tracks adjacent to the Waterbury - Stowe Amtrak Station. The victim was found to be deceased. The victim in this incident is identified as Ariel Cunningham, 26, of Waterbury, Connecticut. An autopsy was performed at the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Burlington. The cause of death was identified as blunt force trauma to the head and neck, and the manner of death was determined to be suicide. No further details are available about this case.

Biden grants disaster declaration to Vermont for Christmas storm

Tue, 03/21/2023 - 3:32pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Peter Welch, and Representative Becca Balint today announced that President Joseph Biden has declared a Major Disaster for Chittenden, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange, Orleans, and Washington counties, which suffered substantial damage during the December 22-24, 2022 winter storm. A Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) identified nearly $3 million in program eligible costs incurred by public and non-profit utilities and communities in recovering from the storm, far exceeding the $1.14 million minimum Vermont must demonstrate for a disaster declaration. The eight counties included in the declaration each exceeded the $4.44 per capita county indicator needed to qualify communities and public utilities for assistance.

Scott announces $2.8 million in ARPA awards for wastewater pretreatment

Tue, 03/21/2023 - 2:53pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Governor Phil Scott and the Department of Environmental Conservation Wastewater Program today announced $2.8 million in ARPA awards to help municipalities and companies improve their wastewater quality through pretreatment and capacity management. Industries like metal finishers or landfills produce wastewater that is toxic, or high strength. Pretreatment systems can remove or reduce harmful pollutants in wastewater before it enters municipal wastewater treatment facilities. Proper wastewater management allows municipalities to reserve a facility’s capacity for future development and growth. The program selected seven potential awardees: Town of Brattleboro – Commonwealth Dairy – Windham County – $250,000; Village of Morrisville – Rock Art Brewery – Lamoille County – $45,000; City of Montpelier – New England Waste Services of Vermont, Inc. – Washington County – $1,000,000; Town of Randolph – New England Precision – Orange County – $298,800; City of Vergennes – Collins Aerospace – Addison County – $829,408.93; City of Burlington – Chittenden County – $183,188; City of South Burlington – Chittenden County – $199,000.

Vermont’s new Child Tax Credit: Improving life for families

Tue, 03/21/2023 - 2:28pm -- tim

Public Assets Institute Refundable tax credits are an important tool for reducing child poverty and advancing racial, social, and economic justice. They get cash to families efficiently, helping them meet basic needs like food, clothing, and housing. During the pandemic, when many people were out of work, the federal government used refundable income and child tax credits as quick ways of easing families’ financial struggles. Some states, Vermont included, followed their lead by passing state-level child tax credits. Vermont’s Child Tax Credit (CTC) provides $1,000 annually per child under 6 to families with adjusted gross incomes up to $125,000. It is fully refundable—families with low or no earnings can receive its full value. Families earning between $125,000 and $175,000 receive a partial credit. In 2023, over 95 percent of Vermont kids under 6—34,000 children—will benefit from the credit, making it the most robust in the country.

McCormack named Vermont Law School dean

Tue, 03/21/2023 - 2:08pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Longtime leader at Vermont Law and Graduate School, Beth McCormack, has been named dean of the institution’s law school. With “overwhelming support” from the hiring committee, McCormack was chosen because of her strong showing of student-centered leadership at VLGS over the last two years, her dedication to strengthening the JD program and her love of the school. McCormack first joined the school in 2011 as an assistant professor of law. She has since served as a professor of law, assistant director of academic success, assistant director of the legal writing program, deputy vice dean for academic affairs and vice dean for students. 

Wink, Inc. ranks National Life Group #1 in indexed life sales for 8 quarters in a row

Tue, 03/21/2023 - 1:33pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Wink, Inc., an industry analyzer, named National Life Group #1 in indexed life sales for the past eight quarters, totaling all of 2021 and 2022. Announced in a March 7 news release, Wink states: “Items of interest in the indexed life market included National Life Group retaining their #1 ranking in indexed life sales, with a 14.7% market share.” An industry trade group, LIMRA, placed National Life as #10 for individual life insurance sales out of all reporting US life insurance companies in 2022.

First openly gay orthodox rabbi to present annual Wall lecture on March 22

Tue, 03/21/2023 - 1:27pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Rabbi Steven Greenberg will present the annual Rabbi Max B. Wall lecture Series at Saint Michael’s College on March 22, 2023, at 4:30 pm in the Dion Student Center Roy Room. His topic is “A Decade of Conflict and Convergence: LGBTQ lives in Orthodox Jewish Contexts.” The speaker is an Orthodox rabbi, ordained at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. Early in his career, he served as a senior educator for the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership (CLAL), a think tank and training institute where he worked as an educator, curriculum writer, lecturer and consultant on wide variety of cutting-edge projects on the ethics, environment, social justice and communal leadership.

ISONE: Finalized capacity auction results underscore region’s clean energy transition

Tue, 03/21/2023 - 1:11pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine ISO New England today filed the finalized results of 17th Forward Capacity Auction (FCA 17) with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The finalized results confirm that the annual auction, held March 6, secured commitments for 31,370 megawatts (MW) of capacity to be available in 2026/2027. Continuing a trend seen in recent auctions, new generating resources securing capacity supply obligations were non-carbon-emitting resources, including this year offshore wind, solar, and hydroelectric resources. Overall, non-carbon-emitting generators within New England, including new and existing resources, secured nearly a quarter of the auction’s total obligations. The 7,620 MW of obligations secured by these resources represents an 11% increase over the 6,844 MW of obligations secured by non-carbon-emitting resources in 2018. The finalized results confirm a clearing price of $2.590 per kilowatt-month (kW-month) in all zones and import interfaces except the New Brunswick interface, which cleared at $2.551 per kW-month. These prices rank among the lowest in auction history.

Pieciak and legislative leaders introduce bipartisan public retirement initiative, VTSaves 

Tue, 03/21/2023 - 10:29am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine State Treasurer Mike Pieciak held a press conference on Tuesday morning alongside Senators Kesha Ram Hinsdale (D) and Randy Brock (R), from the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs, and Greg Marchildon, State Director for AARP Vermont. Together, they introduced the Treasurer’s VTSaves public retirement initiative. Senator Brock will present the bill on the Senate floor this week as S.135, after passing out of committee with unanimous support. VTSaves is an auto-IRA program that provides employees not currently covered by a workplace retirement plan access to one at no cost to their employers. Employers who do not already have a workplace retirement plan are required to sign up and their employees are automatically enrolled into a Roth IRA with automatic payroll deductions. Employees can opt out of the program and always have access to any principal they put into their IRA without tax or penalties.    

Capstone Community Action’s Fuel Your Neighbors Campaign exceeds goal with $325,000

Tue, 03/21/2023 - 9:29am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Capstone Community Action’s Fuel Your Neighbors campaign, in partnership with VSECU, raised over $325,000 to support emergency food and heating assistance to struggling Central Vermonters. This winter has once again been a challenge for Vermonters with low income. While warmer than some previous winters, the dramatic price increases in food and fuel costs continue to put many families at great risk. In spite of the extra assistance available through federal pandemic aid, more Central Vermonters are in need of support for food and heat than in previous years. Capstone Community Action (Capstone) was able to provide over 1,230 people with heating assistance, distributing over $302,778 in funds already this winter. In addition, Capstone had over 2,300 visits to the food shelf between October 1, 2022 and March 8, 2023. Without public funding for Capstone’s Food Shelf, the Fuel Your Neighbors campaign is critical to keeping the food shelf stocked to meet the community need.

The 7th annual Vermont Beardies Finals raise $100,000 for Make-A-Wish Vermont

Tue, 03/21/2023 - 9:28am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine The Seventh Annual Vermont Beardies Finals, which benefits Make-A-Wish Vermont, took place over the weekend at the Burlington Beer Company's taproom. Vermont's favorite fuzzy fundraiser raised $100,000 to grant wishes for Vermont's children with life-threatening medical conditions.

"We are thrilled with the success of this year's Vermont Beardies competition," said James Hathaway, CEO of Make-A-Wish Vermont. "The competition will help Make-A-Wish grant ten wishes to Vermont's children."