first_imgA coalition of business leaders is doing everything it can to create jobs in Vermont. A new website, www.vermontcpr.org(link is external), has arrived on the scene to support revision of Vermont’s permitting process in order to pump life into the Vermont economy. The website urges legislative initiatives to make meaningful changes to the Act 250 process this legislative session.Sponsored by the Coalition for Permit Reform (CPR), the goal of the new site is to mobilize individuals to encourage the legislature to enact reform that creates a more consistent, more predictable and more timely permit process, while preserving Vermont’s existing environmental protections.In his inaugural address Governor Douglas stated, “We have two great economic advantages– our natural environment and Vermonters themselves… However, the choice we face today is not between jobs and the environment. It is a choice between both or neither.” The www.vermontcpr.org(link is external) site delves deeper into choices that are ripe now: problems with the current permit process, innovative and sensible solutions, tips for contacting legislators, the text of several reform bills; and a legislative update page and an alert page to follow proposed bills as they move through the House and Senate.Chuck Nichols, Vermont Chamber Senior Vice President and a founding member of the Coalition, noted, “The Coalition developed the site to cut through the rhetoric: as a simple resource for Vermonters, providing accurate information regarding various permit proposals currently in the legislature.”The Vermont Coalition for Permit Reform is a broad-based coalition of statewide and local organizations that are dedicated to enacting common sense reform to Vermont’s environmental permitting process.Nichols observes that the legislature does not operate in a vacuum. “By developing www.vermontcpr.org(link is external), we encourage Vermonters to educate themselves; get involved in the issues. This is a call to action to preserve the environment we all value while ensuring that Vermont remains a viable choice for the quality of life we seek this year, next year, and for our children.”last_img read more


first_imgWINDSOR, Vt. Vermont and New Hampshire tourism officials today formally announced that the Connecticut River Byway, running from Brattleboro, Vermont to Pittsburgh, New Hampshire, has been named a National Scenic Byway by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The Connecticut River Byway, which stretches from the Canadian border to Massachusetts, follows 500 miles of state highways in 53 communities along the Connecticut River Valley in Vermont and New Hampshire. The byway embraces traditional New England historic and cultural sites which tell the story of the nations first explorations into the wilderness, first transportation corridor, and the initial expansion of American culture.The awarding of national designation follows a long and competitive application process, according to Sharon Francis, executive director of the Connecticut River Joint Commissions (Web: www.crjc.org(link is external)), which oversees the Connecticut River Byway Council (Web: www.ctrivertravel.net/(link is external)). We know we have a river valley with outstanding scenery and impressive history, but it is sweet news to hear that we are among the winners in a national competition, Francis said.This is very exciting news and will be enormously important for both tourism and economic development in this region, said Vermont Governor Jim Douglas. In August, Governor Lynch and I toured cultural heritage sites along the byway on both sides of the Connecticut River and renewed our commitment that our two great states would work together to promote the entire Connecticut River Byway. The National Scenic Byway designation will give those efforts an enormous boost.Americas Byways (Web: www.byways.org(link is external)), of which the Connecticut River Byway is now a part, is a distinct collection of American roads and treasured places recognized for their scenic, historic, natural, recreational, cultural and archeological qualities. Congress created the National Scenic Byways Program in 1991 to meet widespread demand that the nations unique places should be preserved and shared while at the same time promoting tourism and economic development by bringing tourists to rural America and much-needed dollars to small communities. Since its inception, the Americas Byways has provided $206 million for 1,495 projects in 48 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Colombia. In New Hampshire, the program also recognizes the White Mountain Trail and Kancamagus Scenic Byway. The Connecticut River Byway is the first National Scenic Byway in Vermont.The Connecticut River Byway includes nine waypoint centers where visitors may learn about the river valleys history, culture, arts, and recreational opportunities, as well as local lodging, dining, and entertainment. The waypoint centers are in Brattleboro, Bellows Falls, St. Johnsbury, Windsor, and White River Junction, Vt., and Claremont, Lancaster, and Colebrook, N.H. Wells River, Vt. and Woodsville, N.H. share a waypoint center located in Woodsville. ###last_img read more


first_imgSpeaker Shap Smith and Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, today reiterated that it will be incredibly difficult for the Vermont General Assembly to act in 2010 on the question of continued operation of Vermont Yankee unless a power purchase agreement between Vermont utilities and Entergy is filed with the Vermont Public Service Board before November 1, 2009.  In addition, the legislative leaders again noted that before the General Assembly acts there needs to be a requirement in place for Entergy to have enough assets to pay for restoration of the site upon the closing of Vermont Yankee. It would be irresponsible for the General Assembly to make a decision regarding the continued operation of the Vermont Yankee plant without a full understanding of the economic impact that it will have on Vermonters during these touch economic times, said Senator Shumlin. With the market price of power currently at 4.1 cents a kilowatt hour, the claim by Entergy Louisiana that Vermont Yankee will be the cheapest source of power for Vermonters remains to be seen. We have been clear through legislation and communication with Entergy Corporation that the decommissioning fund shortfall needs to be resolved and the Purchase Power Agreement needs to be in place before the General Assembly can act on whether or not Vermont Yankee can continue to operate beyond 2012, said Speaker Smith.  We remain firm on these two points.Source: Senator Shumlin’s office. 10.7.2009last_img read more


first_imgUS Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced that 6,244 Medicare beneficiaries in Vermont, and three million people nationwide, have received prescription drug cost relief through the Affordable Care Act. To date, three million eligible beneficiaries who fell into the drug coverage gap known as the ‘donut hole’ during 2010 have been mailed a one-time, tax-free $250 rebate check.‘For too long, many seniors and people with disabilities have been forced to make impossible choices between paying for needed prescription medication and necessities like food and rent,’ said Secretary Sebelius. ‘The Affordable Care Act offers long overdue relief by lowering prescription drug costs each year until the donut hole is closed.’Eligible beneficiaries who fell into the coverage gap during 2010 are continuing to automatically receive rebate checks. These checks are only the first step in how the Affordable Care Act will reduce prescription drug costs for beneficiaries in the donut hole each year until it is closed in 2020. Starting this year, eligible beneficiaries in the coverage gap will receive a 50-percent discount on covered brand name medications while in the donut hole. In addition, in 2011 Medicare will begin paying 7-percent of the price for generic drugs during the coverage gap.Also today, Secretary Sebelius released a new video message on the new benefits the Affordable Care Act provides in 2011 for people on Medicare. You can watch the video message here.The closing of the donut hole is just one of the ways seniors benefit from the Affordable Care Act. In addition to savings on prescription drugs, the law provides new benefits to Medicare beneficiaries when they visit their doctor starting this year:As of January 1, 2011, Original Medicare no longer charges out-of-pocket costs for the ‘Welcome to Medicare’ physical exam and, for the first time since the Medicare program was created in 1965, Original Medicare now covers an annual wellness visit with a participating doctor, also at no cost.In addition to these annual wellness visits, most people with Medicare can now receive critical preventive services, including certain cancer screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies, for free.Also this year, the Affordable Care Act will provide qualifying doctors and other health care professionals providing primary care to people on Medicare a 10-percent bonus for primary care services. This will help ensure that those primary care providers can continue to be there for Medicare patients.People with Medicare can learn more about these new benefits, search for participating doctors in their area, and find other helpful information by contacting a trained customer service representative toll-free at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visiting www.Medicare.gov(link is external)Additionally, the Affordable Care Act makes Medicare stronger and more secure for all beneficiaries. These provisions under the new law increase benefits to beneficiaries and help to extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by 12 years.An analysis issued by the Department of Health and Human Services estimates that under the Affordable Care Act, average savings for those enrolled in traditional Medicare will amount to more than $3,500 over the next 10 years. Savings will be even higher ‘ as much as $12,300 over the next 10 years ‘ for seniors and people with disabilities who have high prescription drug costs. Total savings per beneficiary enrolled in traditional Medicare are estimated to be $86 in 2011, rising to $649 in 2020. For a beneficiary in the donut hole, estimated total savings increase from $553 in 2011 to $2,217 in 2020.The Affordable Care Act establishes a new Innovation Center that will research, develop, test, and expand innovative payment and delivery arrangements to improve the quality and reduce the cost of care provided to patient with Medicare, Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage. Innovations that are found to work can be rapidly expanded and applied more broadly’helping to transform the health care system into one that provides better care at lower cost.· The Affordable Care Act contains important new tools to help crack down on criminals seeking to scam seniors and steal taxpayer dollars. The law strengthens the screenings for health care providers who want to participate in Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP, enables enforcement officials to see health care claims data from around the country in a searchable database, and strengthens the penalties for criminal wrongdoing. The reduction in waste, fraud, and abuse returns savings to the Medicare Trust Fund to strengthen the program into the future. Seniors are encouraged to contact 1-800-MEDICARE to report any solicitations of personal information or suspected fraud, waste, or abuse, or go to www.StopMedicareFraud.gov(link is external).For more information on how the Affordable Care Act benefits seniors, visit www.HealthCare.gov(link is external). ###last_img read more


first_imgThe Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) is continuing to protect the roads from flooding effects, particularly around Lake Champlain and the Islands. While lake levels have crested and are beginning to recede, strong winds from the north are now continuing to affect some roads.  VTrans is monitoring the situation, and taking immediate action when needed to shore up the roads affected.  Traffic controls are also in place to assist construction vehicles for road improvement operations that continue throughout the day in some areas.  Delays can be expected along Route 2 between Milton and the Islands.  Travelers are cautioned to please drive slowly and, if possible, to avoid the area during commuting times.  Road work is expected to continue throughout the area until at least Wednesday. Road Updates as of Monday, 4 pm: Ongoing Areas of Concern: Route 2 / Sandbar / Causeway:   Water is still over the road surface (up to 6 inches in some areas), and travel is slow.  VTrans has completed installation of jersey barriers which are intended to delineate the edge of the roadway and keep debris out of the travel way.  Crews have armored the south side of the causeway with large stone and are currently working on armoring the north side of the causeway.  Crews expect to be done with armoring the causeway by Wednesday. Route 2 / City Bay  and Carry Bay:  Crews have worked to armor portions of the banks with large stone.  Armoring work is complete for now, but is being monitored. Route 2 / Alburgh-North Hero Bridge / ‘Mother’s Bend’:  Crews have worked to armor portions of the banks with large stone.  Armoring work is complete for now, but is being monitored. Route 2 / Just north of Alburgh-North Hero Bridge:  Crews have installed jersey barrier and built up the roadbed with crushed stone.  The work is done, and the area is being monitored. Route 78 / Swanton:  Crews continue to armor the banks with large stone, and build berms to keep debris out of the road.  Crews expect to be done with the armoring by Wednesday.  Delineators have been installed to define the edge of the roadway.  Road is now clear of water. Route 129 / Ilse La Motte:  Traffic down to one lane as crews continue to armor the causeway with large stone, and build berms to keep debris out of the road.  Crews expect to be done with the armoring by Wednesday.  Areas with water over the road are being constantly monitored. Travelers should proceed with caution. Route 17 in Chimney Point (previously closed) remains open. I-89 Southbound in Milton reduced to one-lane traffic due to instability of the right lane. Route 118 between Montgomery and Belvidere is down to one lane in  multiple locations. These are extended events that will last until further notice. Route 122 in Lyndon, between the Interstate and Wheelock Road, is down to one lane due to slope failure.  This will be an extended event that will last until further notice. Route 114 between Canaan and Island Pond, through Norton, is down to one lane in several areas due to multiple slope failures. State Road Closures: Route 7 / Highgate / ‘Tyler Place’:   Closed due to flooding and debris.  Area is being monitored and we anticipate being able to open the road later in the week. Route 36 in St. Albans, between Georgia Shore Road and McQuam Road, is closed due to flooding. Motorists are advised to avoid this section of roadway. We anticipate an extended closure. Route 125 near Chimney Point is closed approximately 13 miles west of Middlebury.  Smugglers Notch, Jeffersonville to Stowe, remains closed, weather pending. Note that the Chimney Point and Grand Isle ferries are still running on schedule.last_img read more


first_imgVermont is open and the beauty of its fall foliage is more spectacular than ever thanks to the unprecedented recovery achieved in just five weeks, according to the Vermont Country Store.’Vermonters have worked tirelessly to get our great state open again after the damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene,’ said Bill Shouldice, president and CEO of The Vermont Country Store. ‘With the all-important Fall Foliage season upon us, we are incredibly proud of the efforts of so many that helped re-build our roads, so folks could enjoy the experience of our brilliant colors, and our genuine hospitality. We have long held that the strength of Vermont is in its people, and that has never been more evident.”The Vermont Country Store is just one of thousands of businesses with the ‘OPEN’ sign out, ready to welcome millions during October,’ former Vermont Commerce Secretary Shouldice said.There was intense media attention focused on the damage to Vermont’s roads and homes so great concern remains that Vermont is inaccessible, he said. Thanks to community efforts, that could not be further from the truth. In fact, roads and businesses are 99 percent accessible across the state, and visitors have been flocking to view the spectacular landscapes only found in Vermont. To help spread the word, The Vermont Country Store has created a website, www.VermontIsOPEN.com(link is external), which links to well-established Vermont vacation sites and recommends events and attractions to visitors. A companion Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/vermontisopen(link is external), has been created to help businesses link up with customers who need the latest information about attractions and hospitality, along with directions and open road information.Vermont Is OPEN is complementing the efforts of the State of Vermont, Vermont Chamber of Commerce, regional chambers, and attraction organizations to help get visitors the latest information about what’s open and available. Many businesses, attractions and event organizers have offered their support to Vermont Is OPEN, among them:AAA North America, Killington Resort, Long Trail Brewing Company, Equinox Resort, Rock of Ages Corp, Orvis, Simon Pearce, Shelburne Farms, Danforth Pewter, Hildene, Champlain Orchards, and Stratton Resort.About The Vermont Country StoreIn 1946, Vrest and Ellen Orton printed their first catalogue’just 12 pages and 36 products’and mailed it to the folks on their Christmas card list and sixty-five years later continues to be Orton family owned. As Purveyors of The Practical and Hard to Find, The Vermont Country Store operates as a multichannel merchant through its mailed catalogs, e-commerce web site and two retail stores in Weston and Rockingham, Vermont. For more information, please visit www.VermontCountryStore.com(link is external).  MANCHESTER CENTER, Vt.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–10.6.2011last_img read more


first_imgThe Vermont Economic Progress Council authorized $8.3 million in incentives under the Vermont Employment Growth Incentive (VEGI) program in 2011, which will encourage the creation of 988 new jobs in Vermont. The Vermont Economic Progress Council met throughout the year to review and authorize the incentives. No incentives are paid when the companies are authorized. The authorization means that the companies met statutory requirements to be authorized to earn a certain level of incentives. Overall, these projects will create 988 new jobs and about $40 million in new payroll for Vermonters, and the companies will make $302 million in capital investments in Vermont, between 2011and 2015. The jobs must be new, full-time, permanent, non-owners, and pay more than 160 percent of the Vermont Minimum Wage (about $13.04/hour) and provide benefits.  ‘In the end, there are well-paying jobs with benefits for Vermonters, there is investment in new facilities and machinery and equipment to keep Vermonters competitive, and there is $8 million in new tax revenues to support other state programs,’ said Lawrence Miller, Vermont’s secretary of Commerce and Community Development. To earn the incentives, authorized companies must meet payroll, employment and capital investment performance requirements each year between 2011 and 2015. If earned, the incentives would pay out to the companies over nine years between 2012 and 2020, only if the performance requirements are maintained. The Council approved the applications after reviewing nine ‘quality control’ program guidelines and applying a rigorous cost-benefit analysis that calculates the level of new tax revenue a project will generate for the state. The model estimates that the economic activity approved will generate $7.7 million in new tax revenue, even after payment of the incentives.The Council also determined that these projects would not occur or would occur in a significantly different and less desirable manner (the ‘but for’ test) if not for the incentives being authorized. ‘We determined that these projects would not have occurred in Vermont or would have occurred in a way that generated far fewer tax dollars,’ said Stephan Morse, VEPC Chairman. ‘Instead, the projects will occur and if the companies meet their performance requirements, they will generate enough new tax revenue to the state to pay the incentives that are earned and still generate almost $8 million in new tax revenue for Vermont.’ Included in the $8.3 million authorized were incentives totaling about $1.7 million in ‘Green’ VEGI incentives for companies that will create jobs in environmental technology sectors. These companies plan to develop and produce recyclable or biodegradable containers, develop and operate an integrated energy/food production facility; produce energy efficient turbo-machinery, and build a wind testing facility. The following is a list of those companies authorized for VEGI incentives in 2011: NAME                                                                        LOCATION                           AMOUNTALPLA, Inc                                                    Essex                                        $654,438Bariatrix Nutrition Corp                                 Georgia                                     $135,653eCorporate English, Ltd                                 Middlebury                               $464,731WCW, Inc.                                                      Manchester                               $512,449Vermont Smoke and Cure                              Hinesburg                                 $156,913Carbon Harvest Energy                                  Burlington, Brattleboro            $568,913Concepts NREC                                             Wilder                                       $290,335SOH Wind Engineering, LLC                        Williston                                   $153,995Green Mountain Coffee Roasters                   Essex                                     $4,696,809Ellison Surface Technologies, Inc.                  Rutland                                     $688,462Total:                                                                                                             $8,322,698 The Vermont Economic Progress Council is an independent board consisting of nine Vermont citizens appointed by the governor, and two members appointed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, that considers applications to the state’s economic incentive programs. The Council is attached to the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, whose mission is to help Vermonters improve their quality of life and build strong communities. For more information, visit:http://thinkvermont.com/Programs/VEPC/tabid/124/default.aspx(link is external) VEPC 12.21.2011last_img read more