Vermont news in brief for June 2017

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Vermont news in brief for June 2017

Sun, 07/09/2017 - 3:59am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Vermont tax revenue collections for the month of May 2017 were ahead of targets and the year-to-date numbers have nearly caught up with one month left in the fiscal year. The Vermont Department of Labor reported in June that the seasonally-adjusted statewide unemployment rate for May was 3.1 percent. Vermont skier visits finished this past season at nearly 4 million, well over the previous season's disappointment of 3.2 million. Falling just below 2016's record level, this past season's maple syrup production in Vermont of 1.98 million gallons is still twice the size of any other state and 46 percent of the entire production in the United States. AND MORE...

Corporate taxes rescue May revenues

Vermont tax revenue collections for the month of May 2017 were ahead of targets and the year-to-date numbers have nearly caught up with one month left in the fiscal year. The Corporate tax more than made up for another weak showing from the state's two largest General Fund revenue sources: the Personal Income and Sales taxes. General Fund revenues collected for the month of May totaled $85.10 million, $2.62 million ahead of the consensus revenue targets adopted by the Emergency Board on January 19, 2017, according to Secretary of Administration Susanne Young. That better-than-expected performance was driven by $3.57 million in above-target revenues in the Corporate Income Tax, along with modest gains in the Meals and Rooms, Insurance, Estate and Property Transfer taxes.

These gains were slightly offset by an underperformance in the Personal Income Tax of -$1.81 as well as modest misses in the Sales and Use and Other taxes. May marks the 11th month of FY2017. Through these first 11 months, total receipts for the General Fund are – $0.93 million below projections, $1,322.85 million versus a target of $1,323.78 million.

The Transportation Fund was slightly under its target, while the Education was slightly above expectations.

Unemployment rate holds steady at 3.1 percent in May

The Vermont labor force and number of employed were battered in May, though the unemployment rate itself (with labor force being the denominator) didn't change. The Vermont Department of Labor reported in June that the seasonally-adjusted statewide unemployment rate for May was 3.1 percent. This reflects no change from the revised April rate (3.1 percent). The national rate in May was 4.3 percent. As of the prior month’s preliminary data, the Burlington-South Burlington Metropolitan NECTA was tied for the 12th lowest unemployment rate in the country for all metropolitan areas at 2.3 percent (not-seasonally-adjusted). Overall, Vermont’s unemployment rate was tied for the eighth lowest in the country for the same time period. 

Vermont ski industry rebounds to nearly 4 million visits

Vermont skier visits finished this past season at nearly 4 million, well over the previous season's disappointment of 3.2 million. After a challenging 2015-16 season, Vermont’s ski areas came back strongly with statewide Thanksgiving weekend openings, the World Cup event at Killington Resort, and a multitude of historic snowstorms. While adverse weather cycles dampened some periods throughout the winter, early February snowstorms prompted a first-ever Powder Day Proclamation from the governor and March finished the season with a record 21 Powder Alerts sent out from Ski Vermont. The result was a rebound to 3,922,970 visits, which represents the most accurate totals to date with nearly every resort now switching to scanning or RFID technology to track season pass usage, rather than using multiplier estimates.

Vermont recorded its best season ever with 4.7 million skier days in 2014-2015 (ahead of California and second best in the nation to Colorado) to 3.2 million skier days in 2015-2016. The 2013/2-14 season recorded 4.2 million visits.

Vermont taps near record maple syrup production in 2017

Falling just below 2016's record level, this past season's maple syrup production in Vermont of 1.98 million gallons is still twice the size of any other state and 46 percent of the entire production in the United States. The total value (retail, wholesale and bulk) will not be available until next year, but based on average sales from last year, the 2017 crop will be worth about $59.4 million. Retail represents only about 10 percent of Vermont production. Price per gallon for retail sales is about $47.40. Retail alone is worth about $9.4 million.

VHCB will use $35 million in bonding to address Vermont’s housing shortage

The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board will use $35 million in new funding for the creation of rental housing and home ownership opportunities for 550-650 low- and moderate-income Vermonters over the next two to three years. These funds will leverage upwards of $100 million for housing development. The new initiative represents the largest state investment in housing in more than a decade.

Killington prepares for World Cup skiing

Vermont may be hitting the peak of summer, but Killington Resort has its eyes on winter with the official confirmation that the Killington Audi FIS Ski World Cup will once again be hosted at the mountain this Thanksgiving. Last year, the event returned to the Northeast for the first time since 1991, bringing with it US ski team superstar athletes to Vermont. The competition drew an estimated 30,000 spectators.

Poultney board rejects Dollar General plan

The Poultney Development Review Board has denied an application by Poultney Properties, LLC, to develop a Dollar General store on a property on Beaman Street in Poultney village. The June 28 decision came in the wake of three well-attended public hearings at which proponents of the plan responded to questions and misgivings from a range of local residents opposing the proposal.

Burlington gets $2.9 million for lead paint program

The Burlington Lead Program will be awarded $2.9 million in program funding, one of only 28 Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control grant recipients in the nation. As part of the award, CEDO will also receive $400,000 in Healthy Homes grant funds that will leverage the Lead Program’s presence to reduce other housing-related health hazards.

VEC partners with Nissan to offer $10,000 rebate on 2017 Leaf

Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC) has announced, in partnership with Nissan, that a $10,000 rebate is available to VEC members on the purchase of a new 2017 Nissan LEAF.  The 2017 Nissan LEAF is as all-electric vehicle with a range of up to 107 miles.

Burlington Electric to offer $10,000 rebate on 'Leaf'

The Burlington Electric Department has partnered with Freedom Nissan in South Burlington to offer a $10,000 rebate to Burlington Electric customers who purchase a 2017 Nissan Leaf electric vehicle (EV), which has a battery range of up to 107 miles, between July 1 and September 30, 2017.

GMP 'Leaf Power Program' leads to record sales

Green Mountain Power and Freedom Nissan South Burlington are pleased to announce that a record-setting number of Vermonters chose to go electric in June by taking advantage of GMP’s “Leaf Power Program,” which provides $10,000 off the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of a 2017 Nissan Leaf. Green Mountain Power (GMP) customers who bring their energy statements and a program code to Freedom Nissan in South Burlington can still participate in the program, which has been extended through September 30 or until Leaf inventory lasts. The 2017 Nissan Leaf starts at approximately $30,000.

Greshin replaces Pallito as Finance commissioner

Governor Phil Scott has appointed Adam Greshin as commissioner of the Department of Finance and Management. Greshin is a state representative and part owner of Sugarbush. He replaces former Commissioner Andy Pallito, who will become the director of health system finances for the Green Mountain Care Board.

Rock Art becomes 1st Vermont brewery to power 100% with solar

Fresh off the canning line, Rock Art Brewery’s first solar-powered beer, Sun Rocked IPA, provided the perfect toast for a historic moment for both Rock Art Brewery and Vermont brewing history. On June 27th, Rock Art Brewery became the first Vermont brewery to fully offset its electricity needs with solar. SunCommon, of Waterbury, helped the 20-year-old, family-owned brewery realize a longstanding goal to go solar by installing a 200-panel, 67 kW array on the brewery’s rooftop in Morrisville.

Newest opioid treatment hub opens in St Albans

Vermont’s sixth and newest regional treatment center for people with opioid use disorders has begun providing services. The St Albans-based Hub, located on the Northwest Regional Medical Center campus at 10 Crest Road, has opened its doors following approval from federal and state regulators. The Crest Road location is temporary. A permanent facility is under construction on Main Street and is expected to open by early fall 2017.

Governor appoints David Soucy to Rutland Senate seat

Governor Phil Scott has appointed David Soucy as senator for the Rutland District, serving Rutland County. He will serve alongside Senators Peg Flory (R) and Brian Collamore (R). Soucy, a resident of Killington, was appointed to fill the seat vacated by former Senator Kevin Mullin (R), who was recently appointed as chair of the Green Mountain Care Board. Soucy has been a Vermont resident since 1997, and has served as the general manager and head golf professional at Green Mountain National Golf Course in Killington. He is a member of various state and local organizations, including the Killington Pico Area Association, the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce, and the Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

Country Home Products to close Winooski plant

Country Home Products, Inc has notified the state it will close its facility in Winooski by December 31, 2017, and will lay off 67 employees. Country Home Products manufactures, and direct-sells its own line of DR Power Equipment property-care machines, including mowers, trimmers, log splitters and cordless lawn mowers. It is based in Vergennes where it was formed in 1985 and as of August 2015 is a subsidiary of Generac Power Systems, Inc. Generac makes backup power generation products based in Wisconsin. Generac said in a statement that it was consolidating manufacturing at a plant in Wisconsin.

VNA to explore affiliation with UVM Health Network

The Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties (VNA) Board of Directors has voted unanimously to sign a non-binding Letter of Intent to explore a formal affiliation with the UVM Health Network, the parent organization of The University of Vermont Medical Center. The agreement recognizes the on-going changes in health care delivery and the importance of greater integration and collaboration among providers, resulting in improved care and lower costs.

Governor appoints Anthony Roisman PSB chair

Governor Phil Scott has appointed Anthony Roisman, Esq as the next chair of the Public Service Board (just renamed the Public Utility Commission), the quasi-judicial regulatory board that oversees the siting of energy infrastructure, as well as public utility rates and service quality. Roisman will assume the chair position on June 12and replaces Jim Volz, who was first appointed by Governor Jim Douglas in 2005 and reappointed by Governor Peter Shumlin in 2011. Volz's term has expired. Roisman is a 1960 graduate of Dartmouth College and 1963 graduate of Harvard Law School. He resides in Weathersfield.

Blodgett Oven sells Burlington campus, moving to Essex

Famous for its pizza ovens, Blodgett Oven has announced the sale of its property on Lakeside Avenue in Burlington and the purchase of a manufacturing facility at 42 Allen Martin Drive, Essex, VT.   The Middleby Corporation, parent company of Blodgett, executed the sale and purchase on, June 23, 2017. Blodgett Oven was established in Burlington in 1848 and produces award winning commercial convection and combi ovens as well as steam equipment under the brand names Blodgett and Market Forge.

The workforce shrank; the gender divide persisted

After trending up for 14 months, the labor force—people working or actively seeking work—decreased slightly in April and more in May, the Public Assets Institute reported. The losses came from the ranks of the employed, leaving the workforce below its 2009 peak by nearly 15,000 workers. The share of women workers in any field has not changed much in a decade. Women comprise the minority in most sectors and are especially underrepresented in construction, utilities, and transportation. They make up the majority in many service-oriented jobs, such as health care and educational services, but tend to be more equally represented in other service fields, such as accommodation and food services and retail stores.

Leahy brings home $11 million in community funding

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) has announced that Vermont will receive more than $11 million in new affordable housing and community development funds from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Earlier this year, as Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Leahy successfully negotiated the fiscal year 2017 appropriations act, which included funding for HUD, the department responsible for administering the nation’s affordable housing programs, including the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME.

Sanders announces $3 million in federal funds for Vermont housing

US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) has announced that Vermont will receive $3 million from the National Housing Trust Fund. The funds will be used to build, preserve, and rehabilitate affordable rental housing. Sanders helped lead a 15-year effort to pass and fund the National Housing Trust Fund. Last year, the first year of the new program, Vermont was also awarded $3 million to help provide housing for extremely low-income families.

VSC Trustees approve balanced budget with increased state support

The Vermont State Colleges System Board of Trustees has unanimously approved a balanced fiscal year 2018 budget after several years of shortfalls. The five-college system enrolls over 12,000 students, including over 10,000 Vermonters, and is comprised of Castleton University, Johnson State College, Lyndon State College, Vermont Technical College and the Community College of Vermont. The system’s fiscal year 2018 budget ends several years of budgets stressed by low state support, a decline in the number of Vermont high school graduates, increased competition from New England and northeastern regional colleges through tuition discounting, and increases in health insurance costs.

The fiscal year 2018 budget was buttressed by several significant initiatives: a $3 million increase in the base appropriation from the State; $880,000 in State support for the unification of Johnson State College and Lyndon State College into Northern Vermont University, which followed $770,000 in fiscal year 2017; $1 million in savings consolidating the administrations of Johnson and Lyndon in FY2018; $2.6 million from a major debt refinancing and restructuring; and over $1 million in savings from business process efficiencies, benefit changes, and spending reductions.

Governor signs bill to encourage development in downtowns

Joined by legislative leaders at the Downtown and Historic Preservation Conference in June, Governor Phil Scott signed S135 into law to expedite state permitting for housing and increase public investment in buildings and infrastructure in state-designated centers, among other pro-growth initiatives. Elements of the law include increasing downtown tax credits by $200,000 to $2.4 million annually, exempting housing projects in state-designated centers from a redundant Act 250 review; and enabling six new Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts.

Rutland Regional completes Emergency Department expansion

After 18 months and three construction phases, the $6 million expansion and renovation of Rutland Regional Medical Center's Emergency Department (ED) is finally complete. The project, which began in February 2016, added approximately 2000 square feet of new construction and completed partial renovations of the current 13,657 square foot space.

Part of the plan involved construction of a new wing that includes five dedicated and discreet private psychiatric crisis beds in rooms with windows to provide natural light for patients with extended stays. In addition, the lobby area will be secured for the safety of patients, visitors, and staff by creating a controlled access to the public waiting areas. A new security office has been added with multiple security cameras. There will be cardiac monitors in all of the ED rooms to promote flow and support any patient acuity.

Mount Snow breaks ground on $22 million lodge

A day many years in the making, Mount Snow broke ground in June on its new $22 million lodge, as part of its more than $50 million expansion. The new 38,000 square-foot lodge, slated to open for the 2018/19 ski season, will serve as a hub for future development at Mount Snow, which will add slopeside lodging accommodations, improved parking facilities and a range of guest amenities to the Carinthia base area. The project had been delayed by the release of EB-5 immigrant investor funds, as that federal program was under intense scrutiny after unrelated projects in Vermont and elsewhere were plagued by allegations of fraud.

Granite Hills to merge into NorthCountry Federal CU

At a special meeting on June 22, the Barre-based Granite Hills Credit Union members approved their Board of Directors’ recommendation to merge with South Burlington-based NorthCountry Federal Credit Union. The two credit unions have worked side-by-side in Washington County for many years, and share a commitment to providing members with a world-class experience through value, convenience, and investments in the community. Integration of Granite Hills’s systems into NorthCountry’s will occur on September 30, 2017.  At that time, both Granite Hills locations will join NorthCountry’s branch network.

SRDC gets $625K VEDA financing for Bryant redevelopment

Springfield Regional Development Corporation has received financing of $625,000 from the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) to assist with the redevelopment of roughly 35,000 square feet of the former Bryant Grinder facility in Springfield. SRDC will utilize the VEDA funds to continue repairs to the southern portion of the building to prepare it for future occupancy. Bob Flint, SRDC Executive Director, said that the support from VEDA comes at a critical time.

Scott signs bills to sales tax exempt some ag and timber products

Governor Phil Scott has signed S34, an act relating to rural economic development, and H495, an act relating to miscellaneous agriculture and subjects, at Goodridge Lumber in Albany. He said the bills highlight the state’s commitment to our agriculture sector and spurring economic growth for rural communities. These bills create a new exemption from the Vermont sales and use tax for specific types of machinery and equipment used in timber cutting, timber removal, and the processing of timber or other solid wood forest products intended to be sold at retail.

VCLF lending exceeds $1 million in 1Q 2017

Vermont Community Loan Fund has loaned in excess of $1 million to Vermont’s small businesses, child care programs, and affordable housing programs during the 1st quarter of 2017. Financing has helped Barton Maple Company, Awakening Sanctuary/Ethan Allen Residence, Butterfly Bakery of Vermont, Green Wolf Logging & Sugaring, Grow Compost of Vermont, Housing Trust of Rutland County/Tuckerville Mobile Home Park, Otter Creek Child Center, Pulmac Systems International, and Vermont Wood Pellet Company.

Mobile home firm to pay $30,000 penalty

Ship Sevin, LLC and Ship Sevin, LLC II, has agreed to pay a penalty of $30,000 to the State of Vermont, and to reimburse Vermonters for illegal fees paid to Ship Sevin. Ship Sevin leases mobile homes, mobile home lots, and residential rental properties in Bennington, Caledonia, Chittenden, Lamoille, Rutland, and Washington Counties.

Vail Resorts closes on acquisition of Stowe Mountain Resort

Vail Resorts, Inc has closed on its acquisition of Stowe Mountain Resort. Vail Resorts acquired the resort from Mt Mansfield Company, Inc, a wholly owned subsidiary of American International Group, Inc (AIG). The final purchase price, after adjustments for certain agreed upon terms, including a reduction in the price by the amount that the resort's EBITDA exceeded capital expenditures for the period from November 1, 2016, through closing, was $41 million. The original estimate at the time the deal was announced in February was $50 million.

Joanne Conroy, MD, named CEO of Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Dr Joanne Mather Conroy has been selected as the second Chief Executive Officer and President of Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health, Board of Trustees Chair Anne-Lee Verville has announced. The appointment was made by a unanimous vote of the Board at a special meeting on June 14. Conroy will assume her role at D-H on August 7, 2017.

Vermont 5th worst wage gap for rental housing

In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at the Fair Market Rent in Vermont, renters need to earn $21.90 an hour, or $45,545. This is Vermont’s 2017 Housing Wage, revealed in the annual Out of Reach report released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a Washington, DC-based research and advocacy organization, and the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition. At Vermont’s current minimum wage, individuals would need to work 88 hours per week, or 2.2 full-time jobs, to afford a two-bedroom rental home. Vermont has the 5th largest affordability gap for renters of any state in the nation. Vermont has nearly 75,000 renter households. Kentucky is the most affordable ($13.95/hour or 77 h/w) and Hawaii is least ($35.20 or 152 h/w). Overall, Vermont is the 13th highest rental market. It ranks 20th for median household income ($56,990).

Leahy, Scott recommend Christina Nolan as US Attorney

US Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Vermont Governor Phil Scott (R) have recommended Burlington attorney Christina Nolan to President Trump to be Vermont’s next US Attorney.  Nolan would be the 38th US Attorney in Vermont’s history and the first woman nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate for the position. She would lead an office of 45 employees, including 20 attorneys who represent the United States in criminal and civil litigation in Vermont.

Vermont AG joins filing over greenhouse gas emissions

Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan has joined a coalition of 14 attorneys general and the City of Chicago to intervene in a lawsuit that supports regulations to prevent greenhouse gas emissions. The lawsuit, which is before the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, is against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA is seeking to halt the implementation of regulations that stop leaks of greenhouse gas and other harmful air pollutants from new oil and gas sources.

Vermont leaders launch Paris climate pledge coalition

Mayor Miro Weinberger, joined by Governor Phil Scott, members of the Vermont Mayors Coalition, and other community leaders, have launched a statewide coalition – the Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition – to help achieve the December 2015 Paris Climate Agreement pledge by the United States and to mitigate the impact of the Federal government’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

Québec, Vermont, NY collaborate to protect Lake Champlain

Québec, Vermont and the State of New York will continue to work together to restore and protect the waters and natural resources of Lake Champlain. Meeting in Crown Point, NY, the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, David Heurtel, on behalf of the Premier of Québec, together with the Governor of Vermont, Phil Scott, officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and representatives from the states of New York and Vermont, have joined in the signing ceremony for the fourth edition of the Lake Champlain Action Plan, entitled Opportunities for Action: An Evolving Plan for the Future of Lake Champlain.

Vermont relies on property and personal income taxes

While statewide property taxes have fallen out of favor nationally, Vermont's has grown to the highest statewide property tax rate in the nation. This is somewhat offset by relatively low local property taxes. The result is that Vermont is above average in total property taxes collected (34.7 percent to 31.3 percent). This is typical of New England.

By contrast, Vermont has a lower than average reliance on the corporate income tax (2.1 percent to 3.7 percent) and a much lower reliance on the sales tax than the average state (13.7 percent to 23.3 percent), but a much higher reliance on the personal income tax (31.1 percent to 22.9 percent). Thus, Vermont counts on 65.8 of all revenues from the property and personal income taxes. Only New Hampshire (67.7 percent) and New Jersey (68.3 percent) rely on those two sources more.

State initiates $2.1 million municipal roads grants-in-aid pilot project

Vermont’s regional planning commissions and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have launched a new Municipal Roads Grants-in-Aid Pilot Project. DEC’s Clean Water Initiative Program is offering approximately $2.1 million to support this pilot project. The funding will help Vermont achieve its water quality goals by aiding municipalities in implementing best management practices on municipal roads.

New law to protect Vermonters’ drinking water from polluters

Governor Phil Scott, joined by a bipartisan group of Bennington County lawmakers, has signed S10 into law. The legislation is designed to protect the drinking water of families and communities from chemical contamination. The new law, co-sponsored by Bennington County Senators Dick Sears and Brian Campion, holds individuals and businesses liable for the release of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in or near drinkable water sources. The law creates strict penalties for PFOA detected in areas that could pose potential harm to the drinking water of municipalities within the state of Vermont. Bennington has suffered from a PFOA leak at the former Saint-Gobain plant.

Vermont gets $3 million in AmeriCorps Funding

Vermont’s congressional delegation has announced that Vermont has received $3 million in AmeriCorps funding. In a joint statement, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vermont) said, “AmeriCorps continues to make an enormous impact on the lives of people in Vermont and throughout the United States. We are pleased these funds will allow volunteers to continue to do this important work.”

Southern Vermont orgs to get $700,000 in brownfields grants

Three southern Vermont organizations will share a total of $700,000 in Brownfields Program assessment and cleanup grants from the US Environmental Protection Agency.  The grants are for projects in Brattleboro, Bellows Falls and Bennington. Brownfields grants allow communities to assess and clean up contaminated properties to facilitate their redevelopment and reuse.

Last day for Martins owning WCAX-TV

The Martin family founded, owned and ran WCAX-TV since 1954. On June 1, Gray Television Inc of Atlanta will take over ownership of Vermont's first commercial television station. Two long-serving Vermont journalists offer their unique perspectives on the station, the Martins and what WCAX has meant to Vermont. National Life Vice President Chris Graff was the bureau chief of Vermont's Associated Press office and was a frequent commentator for WCAX. Vermont Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts was a reporter and then news director at WCAX.

Porter Express Care clinic to opens

The new UVM Health Network/Porter Express Care clinic has opened in the Collins Building on the main Porter campus in Middlebury. “This location offers easy access to a variety of hospital support services including lab and radiology, while providing convenient, high-quality healthcare services to our community, said UVMHN-PMC President Dr Fred Kniffin.  “We have been working diligently for months to design and build a comfortable 5-bed clinic with all of the resources to streamline care for our community, and it is an exciting new service for Porter and our community.”

NEA awards major grants to Vermont organizations

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has announced grants to seven Vermont organizations, who will each receive $135,000 through the Art Works program. One organization will be awarded $50,000 through an Our Town grant, and the Vermont Arts Council will receive funding through a Partnership agreement. Art Works is the NEA’s largest category and focuses on funding the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with art, lifelong learning in the arts, and strengthening of communities through the arts.

State announces 'Red Tag' rule for aboveground storage tanks

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources has filed a new rule for aboveground storage tanks that will require inspectors to affix red tags on heating oil tanks that are at imminent risk of a fuel spill. Fuel distributors are not allowed to deliver fuel to a red-tagged tank until the tank has been repaired or replaced. Homeowners will have until July 31, 2020 to schedule their first inspection and after the first inspection must have their tanks inspected once every three years.

Vermont’s annual count of homelessness shows 11% increase

The 2017 Point-in-Time Count Report, released by the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness and the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance, showed an overall increase in homelessness by 11% compared to the 2016 Point-in-Time Count, as 1,225 Vermonters were found to be literally homeless on a single night in January. While there was an overall statewide increase, there were striking regional differences, including decreases in Chittenden (-12%) and Franklin (-17%) counties.

PSB finalizes Vermont Gas' harsh sunflower penalty

Last July, as Vermont Gas Systems built its pipeline extension from Chittenden County to Middlebury, the town of Monkton became a battleground for the contentious project. Vermont Gas was already spending more on the pipeline than it anticipated and was fending off lawsuits, fracking protesters and disgruntled residents, some of whom were facing a land taking. Vermont Gas also encountered the harsh sunflower, a “rare, threatened, or endangered (RTE) plant species.”

A communication breakdown between Vermont Gas and its contractor led to 77 of the 2,004 harsh sunflower plants in a Monkton field being mown down, which resulted in $59,000 in penalties. The case was finally resolved by the Public Service Board at the end of May.

Manosh to donate 1% of water well drilling revenue to assist lake

To demonstrate appreciation of clean water, healthy communities, and Vermont, the NA Manosh Corporation of Morrisville is donating 1% of water well drilling revenue to Lake Champlain International, supporting efforts to make Lake Champlain drinkable, swimmable and fishable for future generations.

Winooski Family Health joins CHCB

The Community Health Centers of Burlington (CHCB) has added Winooski Family Health as their eighth location. Winooski Family Health (WFH) formed as an independent family practice over fourteen years ago, first by Ann Goering, MD and then joined by Anne Knott, MD, in the heart of Winooski. WFH is located in CHCB’s Medically Underserved Area and has since earned a stellar reputation for providing high-quality, personalized primary care to members of the community.

Community Care Network, College of St J bring CCN students to CSJ

Community Care Network and College of St Joseph have partnered to make college more affordable and accessible to CCN employees and their families. The partnership, through CSJ’s corporate cohort program, offers CSJ’s associate, bachelor and graduate programs to CCN employees at a reduced tuition rate. Additionally, CCN has developed a tuition reimbursement program for its employees in tandem with the CSJ agreement.

AM Best: New Vermont law aims to attract and retain Captives

AM Best, in a new report, believes an updated captive insurance law in Vermont, which allows for the inclusion of agency captives, makes the nation's largest captive domicile even more attractive for potential formations. A new Best’s Briefing, “New Vermont Law Aims to Attract and Retain Captives,” states that the signing of House Bill 85 in Vermont into law, and its inclusion of agency captives, highlights the push by the insurance industry in recent years to get closer to the insureds.

Walmart to remodel Williston store

Among its highlights for FY17, Walmart anticipates investing millions in Vermont through the remodeling of its Williston store this year, along with e-commerce enhancements and other customer-focused priorities across its six Vermont stores. The Arkansas retail giant also boasted $460,000 in cash and in-kind contributions to Vermont non-profits, employs over 1,200 instate, and spends over a quarter-billion dollars with Vermont suppliers.

Vermont gets $656,000 in forest grants

Vermont’s congressional delegation has announced that Williston and Richmond have received a combined $656,000 in US Forest Service grants to create town forests. In a joint statement, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), and Representative Peter Welch (D-Vermont) said, “We are pleased these federal funds will allow the towns of Williston and Richmond to conserve key tracts of forest, increase public access and improve recreational opportunities for local residents.”

Education Agency partners with UVM for Vermont teacher award

Beginning this year the Agency of Education will be partnering with the University of Vermont for the Vermont Teacher of the Year and National Teacher of the Year process. Educators recognized at the 2016 UVM Outstanding Teacher Day, have been invited to apply for the 2018 Vermont TOY. Interested candidates must submit an application for consideration to the Vermont Agency of Education by July 14, 2017. Beginning in late July, a volunteer committee comprised of previous Vermont Teachers of the Year, a Principal of the Year and a representative from the VT NEA will assess the applications, interview candidates and recommend the top three finalists to the Agency of Education.

Vermont Marks Canada Day

The State of Vermont has launched a “Welcome” communications campaign in Canada to reassure Canadians that Vermont greatly values their friendship, tourism and trade. The campaign launch coincides with Canada Day on Saturday, July 1, and includes 15-second and 30-second video spots in French that are running throughout Quebec.