Northeastern Vermont Development Association Temporary Open Meeting Law Re-adopted for 2023 Town Meetings; Hardwick is Now a Designated Downtown; Historic Preservation Grants Awarded; Lyndonville Receives VCRD Resilient Community Award; Local Organizations & Businesses Earn Creative Futures Grants; Health Equity & Community Design; Efficiency Vermont Offers Rebates for Home & Apartment Improvement Projects.
by John McClaughry Two months ago I published a column titled “Return of the Johnstown Flood.” That was my metaphor for the flood of legislation that was certain to occur, once the Democratic Party commanded a veto-proof majority in both House and Senate. It now does, and that Flood is proceeding at alarming velocity. Its foremost component is enacting the Clean Heat Standard bill, vetoed last May by Governor Scott. That bill, now shamelessly renamed the “Affordable Heating Act” (S.5), is a complex scheme to subsidize heat pumps, advanced wood pellet furnaces, and home weatherization. The most notable change in this year’s version is omitting any “check back” provision that would require legislators to vote to put this billion dollar program into effect. Instead, the bill empowers the Public Utility Commission to launch the program after filing reports with legislative committees that aren’t required to take any action. So much for accountability, which today’s Democrats try to avoid like the plague.
Vermont Business Magazine Today, Mayor Miro Weinberger and local leaders from healthcare and service organizations, labor unions, and the local business community gathered to speak to their concerns and share opposition to the proposed charter change on the Burlington Town Meeting Day Ballot. If passed, this would create a new independent department of the City for police oversight called the “community control board.” The proposal is a binding measure on the Town Meeting Day ballot that asks voters if the City should amend its Charter to create a new community control board for police oversight that would be an “independent department” of the City. The Control Board would be empowered to hire staff, investigate any incident, choose its jurisdiction, and discipline BPD staff without input from the Chief or any opportunity for appeal. Control board members cannot include anyone with experience in law enforcement, and would be appointed by a citizen appointment committee.
Vermont Business Magazine Vermont Public has hired two local media leaders to expand service on digital platforms and reach a broader and more diverse audience. April McCullum will join the newsroom as Digital Editor. Michael Dougherty will take on the role of Director of Digital Strategy. April McCullum brings extensive reporting and editing knowledge to the team from nine years at the Burlington Free Press, where she covered a range of topics including South Burlington, Burlington, state government and politics and Senator Bernie Sanders' presidential campaigns. Michael Dougherty was most recently a senior editor at VTDigger, leading the politics team.
Vermont Business Magazine Today, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recognizes World Wetlands Day and invites Vermonters to celebrate the value of wetlands. From fens and bogs to marshes and swamps, Vermont’s diverse wetlands mark where land and water meet. Spanning over 300,000 acres, wetlands may be saturated or flooded with water either year-round or for a few weeks of the year. First celebrated in 1997, World Wetlands Day raises awareness about wetlands and the functions and values they provide for people and for the health of the land. This year’s theme centers on wetland restoration and how to restore degraded wetlands.
Vermont Business Magazine On February 3, Five Below will celebrate the opening of its new store in Berlin, VT – its first retail store in the state. Five Below is the trend-right, extreme-value brand for tweens, teens and beyond. Located at 282 Berlin Mall Rd., the new store is 10,000 square feet in size, and will offer customers the opportunity to shop the Company’s array of extreme value products spanning eight awesome Five Below worlds – Style, Room, Sports, Tech, Create, Party, Candy and New & Now. While most products will range from $1-5, customers can shop for even more exciting finds for just a little bit more in the store’s ever-growing Five Beyond section.
Vermont Business Magazine Aviation Soldiers from Company C, 3-126 Army Aviation, 86th Troop Command, Garrison Support Command, Vermont Army National Guard, will conduct air ambulance missions across their area of responsibility. The units have been preparing for their deployment to US Central Command for over a year, which has its own set of requirements and missions. This unit previously deployed in 2018. There will be a send-off ceremony at the Army Aviation Support Facility in South Burlington on Saturday. This unit will deploy for up to one year.
Vermont Business Magazine Spring is close, but February often brings unpredictable winter weather that can cause blood drive cancellations and make it difficult for donors to make it to their appointments safely. As the American Red Cross continues to monitor seasonal challenges that could impact the blood supply, donors are urged to make and keep appointments to help prevent a shortage in the weeks to come. Donors of all blood types – particularly type O blood donors, the most needed blood group by hospitals – and platelet donors are needed daily to meet demand. In thanks for helping keep hospital shelves stocked, all who come to give in February will get a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card by email, thanks to Amazon. Those who come to donate this month will also automatically be entered to win a trip for two to Clearwater Beach, Florida.
Vermont Business Magazine Average gasoline prices in Vermont fell 3 cents in the last week to $3.50 per gallon, as prices here peaked on January 25 and are now edging closer to the national average. Vermont prices are up 15 cents/g in the last month and are 6 cents higher than a year ago. The national average price of gasoline was unchanged in the last week, averaging $3.48/g today.
by Ellie Scott & Basil Waugh, University of Vermont A new Vermont Pollinator Working Group will protect bees and other pollinators by targeting harmful pesticide use, while helping Vermont farmers to get to know the pollinators buzzing around their crops. The new group is launching with $20,000 from the Apis Fund, a UVM Gund Institute of Environment biannual competition supporting research and conservation of at-risk bees and other pollinators. The effort has also received $20,000 in matching funds from an anonymous donor. The Vermont Pollinator Working Group, led by UVM bee experts Samantha Alger (CALS), Laura Johnson (Extension), and Spencer Hardy of Vermont Center for Ecostudies, will work with researchers, conservationists, farmers, and beekeepers to tackle urgent threats to bees and other pollinators in Vermont and the Northeast.
Vermont Business Magazine A new competition for producers of value-added dairy products is now open for applications. The Northeastern Dairy Product Innovation Competition supports food innovators in launching products made from dairy ingredients produced in the Northeast and gives dairy entrepreneurs, including those making products on organic and small farms, access to entrepreneurial and technical support. With a total of $365,000 in awards, both finalists and winners will receive funding and technical support to bring their value-added products to market. This initiative fast tracks innovative products reaching the market while increasing the utilization of milk produced in the Northeast.
Vermont Business Magazine The Community Health Centers (CHC) and the members of Community Health United (CHU), AFT Vermont have ratified a new union contract. This new agreement builds upon the existing contract with professional staff, and now includes168 support staff. It will: Raise the minimum start rate to $20/hour in August of 2023; Increase paid time off (including 15 days of paid parental leave); Increase staff input to improve orientation, training, health and safety.