The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) announced today the resumption of its normal stream alteration permit procedures. â During the months following Tropical Storm Irene, the State of Vermont, municipalities, and private landowners were faced with the tremendous challenge of protecting public safety and restoring thousands of stream and river sites where property was damaged or imminently threatened with damage. In order to provide assistance to such a large population of Vermonters in need of technical help, the normal administrative procedures of the stream alteration permit program were suspended,’said Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz. â On September 3rd, my office issued a press release explaining that people may work in streams if they consulted with DEC River Engineers and had received verbal authorization. On October 3rd a second phase of the recovery commenced with an announcement that written authorizations were required to conduct any non-emergency instream work.â Effective immediately, the Agency will no longer be using these expedited stream alteration procedures and all non-exempt stream alterations in perennial streams will require a State permit. Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner, David Mears, explained that â while this construction season will continue to be busy with Irene recovery work, Vermonters will be better served by returning to the procedures outlined in the Vermont Stream Alteration General Permit. The General Permit sets out the standards and administrative procedures for activities falling under non-reporting, reporting, and individual permit authorizations. If you are still completing a project involving stream alterations, for which you have a written authorization from the DEC River Engineer, you may proceed through the end of 2012 with the project as authorized. If you received verbal authorization for instream work after 9/3/11, but have not yet initiated the work, your authorization is no longer valid and you must comply with the provisions of the General Permit. Questions should be directed to the DEC River Engineers.â For those individuals on the western side of the state, in central or southern regions, please take note that we have brought on additional River Engineers, Jaron Borg and Charles Carpenter, who will be working under regional Engineers, Todd Menees and Chris Brunelle (respectively). You can find the stream alteration statutes and the General Permit online at:http://www.vtwaterquality.org/rivers/docs/rv_Stream%20Alteration_General…(link is external) Contact information and coverage maps for River Management Engineers is located at: http://www.vtwaterquality.org/rivers/docs/rv_contact.pdf(link is external)Vermont ANR 4.19.2012
The owners of Jay Peak Resort have bought Burke Mountain Resort from a Flordia development company. QBurke Mountain Resorts, LLC, is headed by businessman Ariel Quiros. In June 2008, Quiros, a significant land owner in the Northeast Kingdom, and Bill Stenger, President and co-owner of Jay Peak Resort, purchased the Jay Peak Resort from Mont Saint-Sauveur Valley resorts. They now add their NEK rival to their portfolio.The ownership of QBurke Mountain Resorts, including Stenger, took possession of Burke on Tuesday, May 22, 2012. They bought Burke from a subsidiary of Florida-based real estate developer Ginn Company. Ginn had extensive expansion plans for the oft-bankrupt resort. Those plans called for a hotel and golf course, but the recession of 2008 delayed those plans indefinitely. Stenger said a new hotel is needed but did not commit to a golf course or anything else for the time being.The selling price was not revealed, but Stenger did say it was a debt-free transaction.â Iâ m delighted to be involved in the Burke Mountain Resort community,’Quiros said. â The mountain has been such an authentic part of the Vermont ski industry and to be able to guide it into the future is truly exciting for me and my ownership team. I believe so strongly in the environmental spirit of Vermont and want the Burke community to know how committed to environmental stewardship we are.âTim McGuire, General Manager of Burke Mountain Resort said, â We are all pleased to see such an experienced group taking ownership of our great resort. There is a great vision in place and the QBurke Team is eager to see this vision become reality.âStenger said, â Burke Mountain embodies what is best about Vermont skiing, a quality mountain experience, a group of employees that love the sport and a community that is full of authentic Vermont Character. Jay Peak and Burke Mountain have much in common and I look forward to seeing the resorts continue to prosper and grow. We expect some exciting promotional cooperation between the resorts this coming winter as we review the plans for Burke Mountainâ s future.â Employee and community meetings will be scheduled shortly to review Q-Burkeâ s future plans for the resort. Source: Jay Peak Resort. 5.24.2012
The Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) is pleased to announce that we have been awarded a $10,000 grant from TransCanada Corporation in support of our outreach programs and scholarship fund. Thousands of school children, teachers, conservation volunteers, and other adult learners from throughout New England participate in VINS’environmental education, research, and rehabilitation programs each year at the VINS Nature Center (VNC) and in area schools, camps, and community organizations.‘VINS is grateful for TransCanada’s generous support, which will make it possible for many children and adults who would otherwise have been financially unable to experience VINS’programs, to see raptors up close and learn about the natural world from our expert educators,’stated Mary Davidson Graham, VINS’Vice President for Marketing and Development. Through TransCanada’s Community Investment program, TransCanada supports local organizations, like VINS, that serve as community assets in empowering individuals, building strong communities, and creating effective citizens. Matthew Cole, TransCanada Community Relations representative for the Northeast US, hand-delivered the check to VINS on May 2, stating, ‘We are proud to be part of the energy and enthusiasm surrounding the VINS Nature Outreach Program initiative.’ With more than 60 years’experience, TransCanada is a leader in the responsible development and reliable operation of North American energy infrastructure including natural gas and oil pipelines, power generation, and gas storage facilities. A growing independent power producer, TransCanada owns or has interests in over 11,800 megawatts of power generation in Canada and the United States. For more information about TransCanada Corporation, visit www.transcanada.com(link is external) or follow them on Twitter @TransCanada or on their blog at blog.transcanada.com. VINS is a nonprofit, member-supported, environmental education, avian rehabilitation, and research organization headquartered at the VINS Nature Center in Quechee, Vermont. Open year-round, the 47-acre campus, adjacent to Quechee Gorge, features state-of-the-art raptor enclosures, exhibit spaces, classrooms, and interpretive nature trails along the Ottauquechee River. VINS places a priority on making high-quality, compelling, and fun environmental learning opportunities accessible to more people and communities through our onsite and outreach nature education programs. Quechee, VT ‘ The Vermont Institute of Natural Science 6.19.2013
Merchants Bancshares, Inc (NASDAQ: MBVT), the parent company of Merchants Bank, announced that its Board of Directors declared today, October 17, 2013, a dividend of 28 cents per share, payable November 14, 2013, to shareholders of record as of October 31, 2013. This quarter represents the 68th consecutive quarterly dividend payment and the 32nd consecutive quarter at the current payout level.Merchants plans to release earnings on or about October 24, 2013. Michael R. Tuttle, Merchants’ President and Chief Executive Officer, Janet P. Spitler, Merchants’ Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and Geoffrey R. Hesslink, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Merchants will host a conference call to discuss these earnings results at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Friday, October 25, 2013. Interested parties may participate in the conference call by dialing U.S. number 1-888-317-6016, Canada number 1-855-669-9657, or international number 1-412-317-6016. The title of the call is Merchants Bancshares, Inc. Q3 2013 Earnings. Participants are asked to call a few minutes prior to register. A replay will be available until 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time on November 1st, 2013. The U.S. replay dial-in telephone number is 1-877-344-7529. The international replay telephone number is 1-412-317-0088. The replay access code for both replay telephone numbers is 100 23214. Additionally, a recording of the call will be available on our website at www.mbvt.com(link is external)Established in 1849, Merchants Bank is the largest Vermont-based bank, independent and locally operated. Consumer, business, municipal and investment customers enjoy personalized relationships, sophisticated online and mobile banking options, more than 30 community bank locations statewide, plus a nationwide network of over 55,000 surcharge-free Allpoint ATMs. Merchants Bank (Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender, NASDAQ “MBVT”), and Merchants Trust Company employ approximately 300 full-time employees and 40 part-time employees statewide, and has earned several “Best Place to Work in Vermont” awards. American Banker ranks Merchants Bank #10 in America among 851 peers. www.mbvt.com(link is external).SOUTH BURLINGTON, VT–(Marketwired – October 17, 2013) – Merchants Bancshares, Inc
by Hilary Niles vtdigger.org Four Vermont high-tech companies staked their place among nearly 5,000 exhibitors in Dusseldorf, Germany, in mid-November.Advanced Illumination of Rochester, KALOW Technologies of North Clarendon, Manufacturing Solutions Inc. of Morrisville and Nathaniel Group of Vergennes shared booth space with other regional businesses at a ‘Best of New England’ booth at MEDICA and COMPAMED. The two-in-one medical trade show is the world’s largest global trade event for high-end medical technology.Paul Tungseth manages sales for Advanced Illumination. He said this trip was the company’s first time attending MEDICA, although exports already account for about a third of the company’s sales.‘It was just unbelievable,’ Tungseth said. ‘The scope is amazing. They expected 140,000 attendees and had (exhibitors) from 66 countries.’ He walked away with 10 solid leads from companies around the world.Advanced Illumination of Rochester participated in the MEDICA and COMPAMED medical trade show in Dusseldorf, Germany, in November. Photo courtesy Vt. Agency of Commerce & Community Development. Courtesy photoAdvanced Illumination manufactures LED lighting for purposes ranging from microscopes to precision manufacturing to security systems. The medical industry currently accounts for only about 5 percent of the company’s sales, he said, but he hopes to double or triple that amount.Garret Hirchak, president and CEO of Manufacturing Solutions Inc., told a similar story. MSI offers both manufacturing and third party logistics services to clients in North America and around the world.Hirchak said the event in Germany was MSI’s first international trade show, and it presented an opportunity to make connections in a new market. The medical industry currently is a small percentage of MSI’s sales.‘We see an opportunity,’ Hirchak said. ‘So we’re really trying to break into it, rather than add to an existing base.’KALOW Technologies is a contract manufacturer specializing in electro-mechanical ‘turnkey’ manufacturing services. The Nathaniel Group designs and manufactures equipment for industry and research, plus medical and surgical devices.Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island have established the ‘Best of New England’ regional banner as a strategy to combine their resources and extend their reach. The international presence would be difficult for the small market states ‘ or individual businesses ‘ to achieve on their own, officials say. They’ve coordinated booth space at MEDICA and COMPAMED in the past, as well as other international events such as the Paris Air Show.Brent Raymond, who directs the state’s international business assistance efforts through the Vermont Global Trade Partnership (VGTP), said the collaborative effort with state agencies saves participating companies time and money.‘We deal with much of the logistics, offer assistance and advice, and man their booths while they’re attending valuable meetings,’ Raymond said in a press release.The VGTP also offers partial grants through the Leahy International Trade Grant, federal funding secured by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to help Vermont companies attend international trade shows or expand their export markets.The Leahy grant was due to expire in July, but Raymond said he successfully petitioned for a one-year extension.‘But very few funds remain,’ Raymond said by email. ‘All funds for education and audits have been allocated. All but (about) $2,000 remain of the trade show grant funds.’ Raymond expects all other balances to be allocated by the end of January.‘Vermont has been very lucky that Senator Leahy understood the importance of how important growing small business exports is to Vermont’s economy,’ Raymond added.State officials identified the medical and aerospace industries as areas for potential growth in international trade. MEDICA and COMPAMED were chosen as a destination based on feedback from companies that expressed interested in participating in the state-coordinated trade shows, he said.According to Tungseth, the quality of American trade shows has declined over the last decade.‘The best tend to be in Europe, or in Germany, in particular,’ he said. ‘They’re the best attended and the best promoted.’Raymond said his office had marketed the opportunity through its newsletter and through regional development centers.
by Hilary Niles vtdigger.org Vermont’s position in the corridor between the global aerospace hubs of Connecticut and QuÃ©bec will come into focus Monday at the fourth International Aerospace Innovation Forum in Montreal.The Vermont Aerospace & Aviation Association, a division of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, will be joined by nine Vermont companies and the Agency of Commerce & Community Development when representatives sign a memorandum of understanding with Aero Montreal, a strategic think tank for QuÃ©bec’s aerospace sector.Vermont’s contingent at the convention will be larger than any other American state at the international forum, according to a press release.The MOU formalizes a loose working relationship between VAAA and Aero Montreal that’s been nearly two years in the making, according to Chris Carrigan, vice president of business development for the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. The organizations will share industry information and business opportunities to better integrate the cross-border supply chain.On behalf of their members, the groups will share access to seminars, workshops and webinars, Carrigan said. They’ll also participate in some of each other’s events, starting with the Aerospace Innovation Forum from Dec. 2-4. Aero Montreal is scheduled to appear at the VAAA’s Aerospace Supply Chain Summit on Jan. 23 at the Burlington International Airport.The collaboration is not limited to information and hand-shaking.Aero Montreal has been developing an accreditation program to vet industry suppliers. As a result of the MOU, Vermont businesses will be able to plug into the so-called Mach Initiative ‘ increasing the odds that they will be able to sell products to government contractors and original equipment manufacturers.Carrigan said the concept behind the MOU gelled at the 2013 Paris Air Show, the oldest and largest trade show for commercial and military suppliers. In a shared booth similar to the one arranged for the Aerospace Innovation Forum, six Vermont companies traveled to Paris with officials from the Vermont Chamber, ACCD and U.S. Small Business Administration.Carrigan said about $3.2 million in combined sales came out of the Paris exhibition.Of the six companies that attended Paris, four will be in Montreal: Liquid Measurement Systems, North Hartland Tool Corp., TeamITAR and Metal Flex Welded Bellows Inc. Five more will join the Vermont contingent in early December: Stephens Precision Inc.; MMIC; Superior Technical Ceramics; MSI Inc. and KALOW Technologies.The more than 250 companies in the Vermont Aerospace & Aviation Association are a $2 billion industry, Carrigan said. Their functions include precision machining; maintenance, repair and overhaul; and landing gear, fuel gauging, sensors, sensing systems and electronics.North of the border, one in 189 QuÃ©becers work in the aerospace industry at some 215 regional firms, according to Aero Montreal. In Connecticut, aerospace accounts for roughly 5 percent of the state’s economy, according to the Connecticut Economic Resource Center.Vermont’s proximity between the global hubs, plus historical and cultural ties, position the state as a natural gateway for the North American market, Carrigan said.
Vermont Attorney William H Sorrell is leading an effort to preserve federal, state and local control over tobacco products in a proposed Pacific-basin free trade agreement. In a letter released Monday through the National Association of Attorneys General and co-sponsored by Attorneys General Sorrell and Lawrence Wasden of Idaho, the chief law enforcement officers of 44 states and territories are calling upon the United States Trade Representative to exclude tobacco and tobacco products from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is currently under negotiation. This would preserve the ability of federal, state and local governments to regulate tobacco products to reduce their use and protect the public health.According to the letter, the U.S. Trade Representative’s latest draft proposal addressing tobacco in the Trans-Pacific Partnership would not adequately protect tobacco control efforts in the United States. ‘As the chief legal officers of our states, we are concerned about any development that could jeopardize the states’ ability to enforce their laws and regulations relating to tobacco products,’ reads the letter. ‘Experience has shown that state and local laws and regulations may be challenged by tobacco companies that aggressively assert claims under bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements. ‘¦ Such agreements can enable these tobacco companies to challenge federal, state and local laws and regulations under standards and in forums that would not be available under United States law.’The Attorneys General note that tobacco kills 440,000 Americans every year and, at present rates, will kill more than one billion people worldwide in this century. Their letter stresses that ‘there is no policy justification for including tobacco products in agreements that are intended to promote and expand trade and investment generally.’Source: Attorney General, January 27, 2014
by Morgan True vtdigger.org The state pledged to make 90 percent of health care payments ‘value-based’ within five years, as part of its application for a $45 million state innovation grant.Anya Rader Wallack, a consultant for the state who leads the team that is allocating the State Innovation Model grant award, said payments to providers must be in some way be tied to quality of care.Anya Rader Wallack. VTDigger photoJump-starting payment reform was the reason Vermont applied for the grant, and tying payments to the quality of care is reasonable, she told lawmakers on the House Health Care Committee on Thursday.‘I’m not sure what they’re going to do if we don’t make good on that pledge,’ said Rader Wallack, the former chair of the Green Mountain Care Board.Rep. George Till, D-Jericho, said he was dumbfounded that the administration would make such a pledge.‘In actuality, only a very small portion of the payments received by the practice are based on the quality measures,’ Till wrote in an email.Wallack tried to reassure him, explaining that federal regulators’ definition of ‘value-based’ payments includes Vermont’s payments to primary care providers through the Blueprint for Health.The majority of Vermont’s health care providers have signed up with an Accountable Care Organization, and with Medicaid and commercial insurers beginning to offer shared savings programs to the organizations this year, the state is increasing the opportunity for value-based payments, Wallack said.Shared savings payment programs are considered value-based because the amount of savings payers give back to the Accountable Care Organization is partially based on how well they do in meeting the payers’ quality measures.Over the three-year lifespan of the federal State Innovation Model grant, a steering committee will work to develop pilot models for two other versions of value-based payment reform, Wallack said.One is called episode-based care. In this model, payments are made for treating a specific condition over a period of time. The provider shares in savings based on the cost and quality of that care.The other pilot programs will be based on a pay-for-performance model in which providers are compensated for meeting or exceeding quality thresholds.Those pilots must be launched with enough time for the steering committee to evaluate and possibly modify them before the grant is up in 2016.The steering committee is led by a core team that includes Wallack, Mark Larson, commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access, Al Gobeille, chair of the Green Mountain Care Board, Robin Lunge, director of Health Care Reform and Doug Racine, secretary of the Agency of Human Services.That team must coordinate seven work groups with more than 300 people representing a wide array of stakeholders.The work groups are exploring how these payment reforms will affect areas such as public health, the health care work force and disability and long-term services. They will then make policy recommendations to GMCB, DVHA and AHS for how to improve in those areas.Another important component of the State Innovation Model grant is assisting the development of the state’s health information exchange, which is operated through a public-private partnership known as Vermont Information Technology Leaders.A health information exchange will use analytics to guide providers and state’s decision-making, Wallack said.Some major components in the SIM budget set aside $10.9 million for analytical systems; $10.3 million for personnel costs for people supporting the grant’s work; $3.4 million for provider grants; and $3 million for evaluating the reforms.Requests for grant proposals went out to providers this month and are due by Feb. 14.Rep. Mary Morrissey, R-Bennington, asked if the state would be left holding the bag for the new programs when the grant money runs out. Wallack said these were initiatives Vermont was already planning to undertake, and if implemented correctly should result in savings over time.Rep. Doug Gage, R-Rutland, asked how factors beyond the scope of health care that affect people’s health, such as smoking or leading a sedentary lifestyle, are accounted for in value-based payments systems in which providers are compensated to some degree based on their patient’s health.‘It is more complicated than simply fixing health care delivery,’ Wallack acknowledged.The steering committee is exploring how incentives can be used to improve a population’s health.‘There are proven interventions,’ Wallack said. ‘There’s also a lot of stuff that we don’t know how to get at in terms of changing behaviors and changing the environment.’Dr. Karen Hein, a member of the Green Mountain Care Board, is leading the population health work group for the SIM steering committee. Hein will give more detailed testimony in the coming weeks on what mechanisms can be used to connect public health and health care.
Vermont Business Magazine Millions of people get sick with foodborne illness each year in the United States. The Vermont Department of Health recommends cooking and handling food safely to prevent foodborne illness this holiday season. Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. Refrigerate foods quickly since cold temperatures slow growth of harmful bacteria. Keep hot foods hot at 140°F or above by using chafing dishes or hot plates, and keep cold foods cold at 40°F or below by using ice.“Keep food temperatures in mind when planning meals, cooking, and bringing food to someone’s house,” says Elisabeth Wirsing, food and lodging program chief at the Health Department. “Follow safety practices throughout the entire meal—from preparing the food to storing leftovers.”Eat cooked food promptly and refrigerate leftovers within two hours after cooking. Refrigerate or freeze food in shallow storage containers for quicker cooling. Discard any turkey, stuffing, and gravy left out at room temperature longer than two hours.Foodborne illness or “food poisoning” ranges from slight discomfort to serious infections that require hospitalization. Infants and young children, pregnant women, and older adults are at greatest risk for serious complications or death.The Health Department recommends the following to reduce the risk of foodborne illness:Wash hands before and after preparing food.Keep raw meat and poultry apart from cooked foods—do not cross-contaminate.Wash hands, utensils, and kitchen surfaces with hot soapy water after they touch raw meat or poultry.Defrost turkeys in the refrigerator or in cold water. Allow 24 hours per five pounds in the refrigerator; allow 30 minutes per one pound in cold water.Buy a fresh turkey (not frozen) one day before cooking.The turkey should be cooked immediately after stuffing.Cook turkey until a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat and/or in the center of food and stuffing cooked with the turkey reads 165°F. (Do not let thermometer touch bones when reading temperature.)Refrigerated turkey should be eaten within three to four days; gravy, stuffing and other sides within one to two days; and frozen leftovers within one month.Reheat leftovers to 165°F—the food should be hot and steaming.For a temperature guide and more information on holiday food safety, visit:http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/food_lodge/holiday_food.aspx(link is external)For the complete Health Department Food Safety Guide, visit:http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/food_lodge/food_safety.aspx(link is external)
University of Vermont,Vermont Business Magazine Gail Sheehy, pioneering journalist and world-renowned author, will be the commencement speaker and receive an honorary degree at the University of Vermont’s 2016 spring commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 22, on the University Green. A 1958 University of Vermont alumna, Sheehy launched her career in New York as one of the first women journalists in national media in the 1960s, at the birth of the second-wave feminist movement. A prolific writer, she has authored 17 books and hundreds of magazine articles; she is a founding writer of New York magazine and has been a contributing editor to Vanity Fair since 1984. Her seminal work Passages was named by the Library of Congress as one of the 10 most influential books of our times.Gail Sheehy courtesy UVM.Sheehy began writing for the startup New York magazine in 1968, one of a tight cadre of literary colleagues including Tom Wolfe, Gloria Steinem, Nora Ephron, and Clay Felker developing a style of narrative journalism that brought a compelling personal voice to investigative reporting. As a young magazine writer her fearless, exploratory style offered her entrance to the center of her subjects’ milieu. She dispatched reports from inside the radical leftist movement at Columbia University, the internal trials of the Black Panthers, violent prostitution rings in New York City, and from the frontlines of the civil conflicts in Northern Ireland.Later, as a biographer, interviewer, and profiler of world leaders, her work made a great impact on the public’s understanding of what shapes world events and the people behind them. From bestselling biographies of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev to profiles of Margaret Thatcher, Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and many others, Sheehy makes complex, powerful figures and their approach to decision making understandable on a human level.Sheehy has won numerous awards for her journalistic work. She is the recipient of the Washington Journalism Review Award for Best Magazine Writer in America, is a seven-time recipient of the New York Newswomen’s Club Front Page Award for Distinguished Journalism, and was awarded the 1973 National Magazine Award for Reporting Excellence for her article on prostitution rings in New York City, to name a few. Most recently she has published her memoir, Daring: My Passages, and launched The Daring Project to highlight stories of women around the world breaking through boundaries to advance social justice for all.For more information about the University of Vermont’s 215th Commencement, visit www.uvm.edu/commencement(link is external).Source: UVM. Very top photo by Sally McCay from 2014 commencement.