The Vermont Attorney General’s Office has determined that a radio advertisement aired recently by Campaign for Vermont did not trigger the provisions of Vermont’s campaign finance laws. The Vermont Democratic Party alleged that the ad, which focuses on property taxes and education funding, and refers to Governor Shumlin by name, constituted an expenditure in excess of $500 that would require the Campaign for Vermont to register as a political committee due to the ad’s content. The Office conveyed its conclusions to the interested parties by letter today.The Attorney General’s Office concluded that the ad addressed a policy issue that is currently pending in the Vermont Legislature and did not demonstrate that its purpose was to support or oppose a candidate for Vermont office.‘In reviewing complaints such as these,’ Assistant Attorney General Megan J Shafritz said, ‘we are mindful that the courts apply a fact-specific analysis that considers a number of factors.’These factors include: whether the advertisement makes frequent references to a candidate or instead focuses on a legislative issue; whether the message comments on a candidate’s character, qualifications, or fitness for office; whether or not the message mentions an individual’s candidacy, an upcoming election, a challenger, or a political party; and the timing of the advertisement.‘When viewed objectively against these factors, the Campaign for Vermont ad at issue here did not cross the line,’ said Shafritz.By comparison, the Attorney General’s Office noted that the CFV ad differs significantly in content and timing from the ad that the Superior Court found triggered a requirement that Green Mountain Future register and file campaign finance reports. That ad prominently featured a candidate’s name, aired just prior to the gubernatorial election, and plainly questioned a candidate’s fitness for office. Nor does it resemble the television ad that the Court found triggered filing requirements for the Republican Governors Association. The RGA ad began running right after Peter Shumlin was declared the winner of the Democratic primary. That ad attacked Shumlin’s position on tax issues and his fitness for office. It used music and images to create an atmosphere of foreboding and concluded with the words ‘we’ve had enough.’ These salient factors concerning content and timing are not present in the CFV ad. Vermont Attorney General, February 29, 2012
Related Company: OpenTempo, Inc.OpenTempo, a healthcare IT company that helps medical practices create efficient staff schedules, has been awarded a bronze-level Governor’s Worksite Wellness Award for 2013.The awards will be presented by the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness & Sports and the Vermont Department of Health on Thursday, March 27, 2014, at the Sheraton Hotel & Conference Center in South Burlington. They are part of a day-long event focused on worksite wellness, taking place from 7:30 am to 4 pm.OpenTempo was one of 99 businesses that were considered for an award. The Worksite Wellness Awards recognize employee wellness programs that decrease absenteeism and employee turnover, and lower healthcare costs. Bronze-level awards are given to employers with solid wellness practices that are not structured into a written plan.“Our leadership team made a conscious decision at the beginning of last year to create sustainable growth without losing team spirit or creativity,” says OpenTempo CEO, Rich Miller. “Wellness strategies are part of that.”The results speak for themselves. By the end of 2013, OpenTempo had tripled its staff, all while creating an energized, enthusiastic environment for its team. As part of its commitment to wellness, OpenTempo provides standing desks adjustable to all heights, along with ergonomic chairs. Physical activity is encouraged with bowling excursions, paintball, and rock-climbing sessions. Work-life balance is supported, dogs are welcome in the office, and fitness breaks are common.“Worksites that promote healthy eating, physical activity, tobacco use cessation, and breastfeeding, contribute to the overall health and wellness of all Vermonters, and they are one of the key reasons we are routinely rated the nation’s healthiest state,” said Vermont Health Commissioner Harry Chen, MD.About OpenTempoOpenTempo specializes in providing workforce management and staff scheduling solutions to hospitals and private medical practices across North America. For more information, please visitwww.opentempo.com(link is external).Source: OpenTempo 3.19.2014
Senator Bill Doyle (R-Washington) has released results of his Town Meeting Day survey, with voters supporting a cell phone ban while driving, an increase in the minimum wage and labeling GMO foods, while being torn about the legalization of marijuana, wind turbines and the new health care law.Senator Doyle has been conducting this survey for 44 years. Over 13,000 returns were tabulated from 155 Vermont Cities and Towns. It is an unscientific poll and non-binding, but it has regularly matched hard polling data and often jibed with what ultimately comes out of Montpelier.Doyle said this is the most response he’s ever had to the iconic poll. He said seven or eight of the questions are still in play in the Legislature.”The cell phone issue is very big right now and I think it’s going to pass,” Doyle said. He said the opiate problem, legalizing marijuana and the minimum wage are much on the mind of the public and of lawmakers. He also thought the question on affordability was revealing.”Vermont is losing out on being an affordable place to live,” he said, as housing is relatively high and wages are relatively average.The results, in percentages, follow: YES NO UNDECIDED1. Prohibiting drivers from using cell phones 74% 19% 7%2. Legalization of marijuana 44% 45% 11%3. Wind turbines on Vermont ridgelines 48% 33% 19%4. Increasing minimum wage 71% 20% 9%5. Concern about opiate use 89% 5% 6%6. Reducing prison population for non-violent offenders 71% 17% 12%7. GMO: should food products with genetic engineering be labeled 76% 15% 9%8. Do you believe Vermont is an affordable place to live 26% 60% 14%9. Is statewide cell service and broadband important to the future of Vermont’s economy 87% 5% 8%10. Is natural gas an important part of Vermont’s economy 55% 21% 24%11. Should Vermont have a state bank 23% 38% 39%12. Do you believe Vermont healthcare is moving in the right direction 41% 38% 21%13. Are education costs unsustainable 69% 18% 13%14. Does the federal government collect too much information on the lives of citizens 69% 17% 14%
The Boards of Directors of PMH Credit Union in Bennington, and Vermont State Employees Credit Union, a statewide credit union for everyone who lives or works in Vermont based in Montpelier, have announced a plan to merge the institutions. According to the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation, VSECU is the second largest credit union in the state with over $600 million in assets and PMH is the 22nd largest and has about $4 million in assets (New England Federal Credit Union is the largest with about $1 billion in assets).In a joint statement released Wednesday afternoon, Janet Hollner, Chair, PMH Credit Union, and Kimberly B Cheney Chair, VSECU, said: “We believe the strategic decision to unite for the good of our members will provide mutual support for growth and an improved member experience for both memberships.”At PMH CU there is a desire to expand services and to increase access to modern and state of the art technology for our 1,300 members. At VSECU there is a need to personally serve our nearly 700 members that live in the Bennington area. Additional personal service, online banking, mobile deposit, convenient branch access, locally serviced mortgage loans and competitive rates on both loan and deposit services, is just a sampling of the benefits our combined 2,000 members and community will experience as a result of combining our resources.”This cooperative merger can only happen if our respective members vote in favor of it, tentatively scheduled to occur in June, pending regulatory approval from the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation. First there are milestones leading up to a membership vote, and we anticipate you will have questions along the way. You are invited to an open house reception exclusively for our members where both credit unions will be on hand to answer your questions. We hope you will be able to attend one of these meetings.”As we move forward with this plan we will keep you updated and answer questions as they arise. Be sure to visit our website at www.pmhcu.vsecu.com(link is external) periodically for updated information. We have also created a dedicated toll free number if you have questions: 1-800-371-5133.”The Directors of each credit union are excited about this endeavor and voted unanimously in favor of the merger. We hope, in the spirit of people helping people, we can depend on your support to move forward with this partnership. We look forward to being able to better serve you in the future and meeting your needs for years to come.” Open House Receptions Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (map(link is external)) Employee CafeteriaMonday, May 19 at NoonMonday, May 19 at 4:30pmTuesday, May 20 at 7:30am
Carris Reels, Inc,Carris Reels has been named a 2014 “Northeast Business Leader for Energy Efficiency” for its commitment to lowering energy use. Nominated by Efficiency Vermont, the Rutland based reel and spool manufacturer is being honored for cumulative efforts that have reduced its annual energy costs by more than $190,000. The award is given annually by Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP), a non-profit energy efficiency advocacy organization, to highlight the energy-saving achievements of organizations throughout the region.“We are proud to recognize Carris Reels for their success and commitment to energy efficiency,” said Sue Coakley, Executive Director of NEEP. “Carris Reels provides an excellent example of how energy saving investments can improve a company’s bottom line, contribute to economic growth, and reduce environmental impact.”Carris Reels was selected for recognition for its efficient approaches to lighting, industrial processes, and building tightness. Particularly notable was the reduction of approximately $50,000 per year in compressed air costs. Efficiency Vermont helped Carris Reels hire a specialist, who identified two oversized compressors and air leaks throughout the distribution systems. The payback on the compressed air upgrades will be less than two years.“At first, we were hesitant to change our manufacturing process,” said Tim Lybeck, Operations Manager for Carris Reels. “But the data was compelling. I only wish we’d acted sooner!”The NEEP award also honors Carris Reels for its continuing monitoring of its energy use, to maintain ongoing awareness of building and equipment performance and processes.“We are proud to work in support of Carris Reels and we congratulate them on this well-deserved honor,” said Dave Adams, Staff Manager, Account Management, at Efficiency Vermont. “Their commitment to minimizing waste and optimizing facility and operational efficiency not only strengthens them financially but also reduces electricity demand in the Northeast. That results in lower costs for all of us, by preventing the need for new electric transmission infrastructure and associated utility rate hikes.”Carris Reels will be recognized, along with winners from neighboring states, in Newport, Rhode Island,June 2-3, 2014 at the Northeast Energy Efficiency Summit. The gathering brings together regional leaders in public policy, business, energy efficiency, and consumer and environmental advocacy to advance energy efficiency as the leading clean energy resource for the Northeast.Efficiency Vermont was created by the Vermont Legislature and the Vermont Public Service Board to help all Vermonters reduce energy costs, strengthen the economy, and protect Vermont’s environment. www.efficiencyvermont.com(link is external) Carris Reels, Inc. is a leading manufacturer of hardwood, plywood, and metal reels, as well as paper and plastic barrels. A Rutland, Vermont based company established in 1951, Carris Reels has 17 locations in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, employing 180 people in Vermont out of 450 nationwide. The company is 100% employee owned. www.carris.com(link is external)Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships was founded in 1996 as a non-profit whose mission is to serve the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic to accelerate energy efficiency in the building sector through public policy, program strategies and education. Our vision is that the region will fully embrace energy efficiency as a cornerstone of sustainable energy policy to help achieve a cleaner environment and a more reliable and affordable energy system. www.neep.org(link is external) May 29, 2014, Rutland, VT – Carris Reels
The series of 14 films were all produced, over a period of several years, by students in Senator Bill Doyle’s history class at Johnson State College, in collaboration with Waterbury, Vt., filmmaker Vince Franke of Peregrine Productions. Each film brings to life the history, the stories and the characters that help to define Vermont.Life in Vermont’s Counties will air in three parts on successive Thursdays, August 6, 13 and 20, beginning each evening at 7 p.m. It’s a great opportunity for Vermont residents to get to know a bit more about their home county, and those of their neighbors. The films fit well with Vermont PBS’s long tradition of preserving and showcasing the state’s rich history, making it available for future generations. Vermont PBS is viewable over the air and on cable systems throughout the state. Vermont PBS is Vermont’s statewide public media provider, with a commitment to cultural enrichment and civic engagement. Vermont PBS PLUS, the station’s second HD channel, launched in July, 2014. More information about Vermont PBS is available at vermontpbs.org(link is external). Vermont PBS,Vermont Business Magazine From Franklin to Windham, from Bennington to Orleans, Vermont’s 14 counties have a rich history of unique people, special places and roots sunk deep in the Vermont soil. Over three very special Thursday evenings beginning August 6th, Vermont PBS will be serving up a historical snapshot of each and every county in the state. Life in Vermont’s Counties uses archival footage and photos, interviews with residents – and a rich sense of place – to describe local life and historical highlights of Vermont’s 14 counties.
Vermont Business Magazine A press release from the E-911 Board stating that the Department of Public Safety “will not be continuing to participate in the statewide 911 call taking system” is false. No decision has been made. Secretary of Administration Justin Johnson issued the following statement on the inaccurate press release issued this morning. “No decision has been made surrounding the participation of the Department of Public Safety in the statewide 9-1-1 call taking system. The attempt to mislead the media and public is completely outrageous and under-handed.”Public Safety Commissioner Keith Flynn has been meeting with E911 Board Chair Gary Taylor after Taylor and the E911 board recently notified the DPS that funding for call taking services will be cut by $90,000. Public safety answering points operated by the state of Vermont field 75% of all 911 calls in the state, and despite the funding cut, would be expected by the 911 board to maintain that call volume. Taylor said there is no plan to cut funding to other call centers that field the remaining 25% of 911 calls in Vermont.As part of the process of ensuring taxpayer dollars are best utilized to maximize emergency services, discussion between DPS, the Agency of Administration, and the E-911 Board have been occurring to determine the best path forward. Those discussion are ongoing and no decision has been made. “It is concerning that the President and Vice-President of the 911 board chose to use such tactics to misled the press and public about a decision that has not been made,” Flynn said.
Leadership Changes at the LCBP A one-meter (3.3 feet) decrease in water clarity on Lake Champlain could lead to a loss of $12.8 million in tourism expenditures.Each year, the LCBP funds several research projects that help to improve the understanding and management of the watershed. These projects include scientific research, best management demonstration projects, education and outreach efforts, and other initiatives that are key to implementing Opportunities for Action(link is external) and improving the Lake Champlain ecosystem.An Assessment of the Economic Value of Clean Water in Lake ChamplainThe Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont recently completed a study that assesses the economic impacts of clean water. The researchers examined property values, tourism expenditures, and regional economic data to evaluate the true dollar impact of clean water in the region, using water clarity as a proxy for water quality. They also found that increased phosphorus loading associated with climate change may have a net negative impact on the economy with home values dropping 3-37% (for year-round and seasonal homes, respectively). Conversely, a positive effect could be seen if the new TMDL standards are met, raising home values over $15,000 along lakeshore areas. The researchers predicted a possible $16.8 million decrease in regional economic activity during the summer months with one-meter decrease in water quality.Read the full report >>(link is external)View the Infographic >>(link is external)Upcoming Events LCBP staff collect plankton samples.Each year between April and October, staff from LCBP, Vermont ANR and SUNY Plattsburgh can be found collecting water quality samples on Lake Champlain and in the tributaries that feed the Lake. Begun in 1990 as an effort to develop a phosphorus loading budget for the Lake, the Long-Term Water Quality and Biological Monitoring Program provides a consistent, long-term data set that is critical for the sound science needed to better understand and manage water quality and ecosystem integrity on the Lake. The Program measures the overall health of Lake Champlain based on key ecosystem indicators to assess long-term effects of management actions and other environmental changes. The Program collects data from 15 sampling points in the Lake and from stations on 21 tributaries for a number of water quality parameters, and for biological health, including phytoplankton, zooplankton, mysids, and zebra mussel veligers. Staff also monitor the development of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms, providing information for the Department of Health’s online blue-green algae tracker map(link is external).The Program is a critical function supported and implemented by the LCBP each year with our partners. The data serve as the foundation for the LCBP’sState of the Lake and Ecosystem Indicators Report,(link is external) and for numerous research projects and studies of Lake Champlain, many of which are also supported by the LCBP. Recent research based on this data include a study that links climate change and blue-green algae blooms (look for more details in the next e-news) and an assessment of the economic impacts of clean water (see below).AIS Under Pressure Vermont Phosphorus TMDL Implementation Plan MeetingsAugust 29-30, Burlington, St. Albans, RutlandLake Champlain Basin Program staff will facilitate public meetings during which the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation will present the Vermont Phosphorus TMDL Phase I Implementation Plan and answer questions from the audience. Meetings are scheduled at the following locations and times:Doubletree Inn, Burlington: 1:00 PM.Bliss Room, St. Albans Historical Society, St. Albans: 6:00 PMAsa Bloomer State Office Building, Rutland: 6:00 PMEstuary Research WorkshopSeptember 27, Staatsburg, NYRegional NEIWPCC program staff will provide overviews of current research and monitoring initiatives, with a focus on nutrients, harmful algal blooms, climate change, and resilience.Learn more and register >>(link is external) Courtesy inspections by boat launch stewards help prevent the spread of invasive species to Lake Champlain and other lakes.LCBP has been working in partnership with Vermont DEC to pilot a high pressure hot water boat wash unit at Shelburne Bay to combat aquatic invasive species (AIS). The unit uses 140-degree water to clean boats departing Lake Champlain of species that could be transported to inland lakes in New York and Vermont. Boat launch stewards at the access area use the high pressure treatment when species are observed on the outside of a vessel. The boat wash unit can also be used to quickly clean high risk vessels coming to Lake Champlain from waters known to be infested. 2016 marks the tenth year of the Lake Champlain boat launch steward program. This summer, stewards are stationed at VTFWD and NYSDEC launch sites around Lake Champlain offering courtesy boat inspections to remove aquatic invasive species from boats, trailers, and other recreational equipment used in the water. Lake Champlain is home to 50 known nonnative and invasive species, and is connected to waterways such as the Hudson River that are home to many more. This summer, stewards have been finding spiny water fleas(link is external) (the newest invasive species to reach Lake Champlain in 2014) on downriggers and fishing line of boats coming out of Lake Champlain.Boat launch stewards collect data to determine if boaters are changing their behavior to prevent spread of AIS. The survey they conduct includes two critical questions: if launching, what was the last body of water visited with the watercraft in the previous two weeks; and if the boat owner takes any measures to prevent the spread of AIS.The best way to prevent the spread of AIS is to Clean, Drain and Dry your boat, trailer, and other equipment by removing any plants or mud and draining all compartments that have had water including live wells, motors, and bilge. The early life stages of some AIS species are not visible to the naked eye, so draining all water from compartments is essential to eliminate any refuge areas where they might hide and hitchhike to another lake.Learn more about the boat launch stewards >>(link is external)Watch the boat wash unit in action >>(link is external)CVNHP Initiates Champlain Valley Passport Stamp Program Local students learn about the work done at the Champlain Valley Native Plant Restoration Nursery. Credit: PMNRCDSince 1992, the LCBP has awarded more than $6.8 million through nearly 1,000 grants to local organizations. These grants support a variety of pollution prevention, habitat restoration, and other projects that address the goals and priorities of the Lake Champlain Steering Committee as outlined in the Lake Champlain management plan Opportunities for Action(link is external). A sample of recently completed projects include:Champlain Valley Native Plant Restoration Nursery Outreach and EducationThe Champlain Valley Native Plant Restoration Nursery— a partnership between The Nature Conservancy, the Poultney Mettowee Natural Resources Conservation District (PMNRCD), and Green Mountain College— used an Education and Outreach grant to inform the public about the benefits of planting native plant species in response to increased concern about the spread of non-native invasive species. PMNRCD staff visited six towns to promote the use of native plants. A diverse group of 55 volunteers contributed more than 300 hours at the nursery, planting acorns and other native seeds. More than 75 students visited the nursery to learn about native trees and shrubs, and interns and community members were involved in stream buffer and lakeshore plantings. PMNRCD worked with the U.S. Forest Service, the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, Americorps, and the Middletown Springs Conservation Commission to remove invasive species and plant native trees in several locations, including the Poultney Educational Trail, the Middletown Springs Educational Woods, and an eroding stream bank in Fair Haven. Four Green Mountain College students also participated in service-learning projects with the Nursery.Cover Crop Implementation Through the purchase of a Dew Drop DrillThe Essex County Soil & Water Conservation District recently purchased a Dew Drop Drill to plant cover crops on farms that lack the machinery to use a full-size no-till drill or on smaller fields where access with a full-size no-till drill will be less effective. The Dew Drop Drill is easier to maneuver on small fields, tight spaces and on rough terrain. The drill will be used in areas where cover crop, contour strips, or other plantings are needed to reduce phosphorus runoff. The District also purchased cover crop seed and will conduct soil tests for parcels where it will be used, and will host a farmer workshop and demo day.The Portage Green Stormwater Bumpout ProgramThe Town of Ticonderoga constructed a vegetated stormwater bioretention/infiltration street bumpout to intercept a portion of the stormwater runoff on The Portage, a town road that runs along the northwestern base of Mount Defiance, toward the LaChute River. Much of the runoff runs overland or through residential drainage, and is collected in storm basins and directed into the town’s combined storm and sanitary collection system, leading to combined sewer overflows. The bumpout infiltrates and treats stormwater to reduce nonpoint source phosphorus pollution. The bumpouts also improve aesthetic quality of the roadway, reduce runoff by replacing asphalt with a pervious surface, and provide a traffic calming effect by visually narrowing the street.A new round of local implementation grants will be announced this fall. For more information, please visit the LCBP Grants and RFPs web page. >>(link is external)Research Results Long-boat rowing is a teacher favorite in every WEC program.Watershed for Every ClassroomFourteen dynamic educators participated in the first five days of Watershed for Every Classroom, a five-credit graduate course sponsored by the Champlain Basin Education Initiative (CBEI). Teachers explored Shelburne Farms, hiked along the LaPlatte River and Mt. Philo, rowed longboats at the Maritime Museum, sampled water quality along the Ausable River, learned about the history of the Adirondack Park, and completed investigations at Chimney Point and Crown Point. STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) was woven throughout the summer session as many experts joined to groups to explore specific sites. Both natural and human history were included as part of the cross-discipline approach to teaching about watersheds. Participating teachers represented schools from Burlington, Monkton, South Burlington, Massachusetts, and Hawaii!CBEI partners work cooperatively to implement the course, now in its sixth iteration. This summer, partners included the LCBP, Shelburne Farms, Lake Champlain Committee, Lake Champlain Sea Grant, and Amy Demarest of Our Curriculum Matters. Additional teaching partners join the program throughout the year.Valcour Island Heritage Trail GuideVisitors to Valcour Island now can follow a heritage trail that interprets the archeologic remains of a vibrant Lake Champlain camp culture that spanned most of the twentieth century. Long home to the Bluff Point Lighthouse and several farms, Valcour became a summer destination for people trying to escape the heat in the days before air conditioning in the early 1900s. The Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership teamed up with the Clinton County Historical Association to develop a walking guide of the island. The 7.5-mile loop takes about 4.5 hours to complete, but does not need to be done all in one trip. The guides are available at the Clinton County Historical Association Museum in Plattsburgh. Pro Tip: follow the trail on a summer Sunday between 1-3 p.m. when interpreters at the lighthouse can answer questions!Learning on the LaPlatteThe LCBP has begun a new series of videos that highlight the ways that people are learning about and get involved in caring for the Lake Champlain Basin. Many partners throughout the Basin, including local watershed organizations, academic institutions, and agencies, work every day to engage citizens in the classroom and in the community. In the first video in the series, a group of Shelburne Community School students “do science” on the LaPlatte River with the UVM Watershed Alliance. Look for more videos in the coming months.Watch the video >>(link is external)Learn more about the UVM Watershed Alliance >>(link is external)Grant Results The CVNHP passport stamp program draws visitors from across the country to the Gordon Center House, home of the LCBP, in Grand Isle, VT.Beginning this summer, a treasure hunt awaits visitors to eleven museums, natural areas, and cultural attractions in the region. The Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership (CVNHP) has created a passport stamp program that directs people to sites that exemplify the area’s rich, varied, and unique natural and cultural heritage. Those who visit all participating locations will receive a limited-edition “Find Your Park” challenge coin.As part of the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) system, the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership (CVNHP) participates in the NPS Passport Stamp Program, where visitors log their experiences at parks, landmarks, and heritage areas across the country. The CVNHP produced the commemorative Stamp Cancellation Passport to mark the 100th anniversary of the NPS. These sites represent the arts, outdoor recreation, land conservation, military history, commerce, natural history, wildlife conservation, and other aspects of the CVNHP.“This program is an exciting opportunity for NPS passport stamp collectors and coin collectors alike,” said Jim Brangan, assistant director of the CVNHP, “We are so pleased to have so many quality partners showcasing the unique natural and cultural resources of the CVNHP.”The coins are distributed at the CVNHP office in the Gordon-Center House—a passport stamp location—at 54 West Shore Road in Grand Isle, VT during regular business hours (Mon.-Fri. 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). Other stamp locations include: American Museum of Fly Fishing, Manchester Center, VT; ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Burlington, VT; Green Mountain & Finger Lakes National Forests Supervisor’s Office, Rutland, VT; Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Vergennes, VT; Lake Champlain Visitors Center, Crown Point, NY; Lake George Historical Association and Museum, Lake George, NY; Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, Swanton, VT; Pember Museum of Natural History, Granville, NY; Rockwell Kent Gallery of Plattsburgh State Art Museum, State University of New York, Plattsburgh, NY; and Saratoga National Historical Park, Stillwater, NY.For further information, contact the Lake Champlain Basin Program at (802) 372-3213.Download the Passport Stamp Card >>(link is external)View the Passport Stamp location hours >>(link is external)Education and Outreach Highlights Eric Howe will build on the legacy of collaboration and consensus building established by Bill Howland.Vermont Business Magazine This summer is a season of transition for the Lake Champlain Basin Program. After more than 17 years as director of the program, Bill Howland “graduated” to retirement on June 22. During that time, Bill was instrumental in building a program driven by sound science that brings together diverse stakeholders in collaboration. Starting this month, Eric Howe continues that legacy as the new director of the LCBP and the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership.During his tenure at the helm of the program, Bill led the development of the 2002 and 2010 versions of the Lake Champlain management planOpportunities for Action(link is external); facilitated the reconfirmation of three trilateral Memorandums of Understanding with New York, Vermont, and Québec in 2000, 2003, and 2010; oversaw the distribution of more than 4.8 million dollars in grant funds to local communities and organizations that conduct on-the-ground work to improve water quality; coordinated the development of 17 annual budgets with the LCBP Steering Committee; and served as Director of the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership since 2006.Senator Patrick Leahy recognized Bill’s leadership by reading a tribute into the Congressional Record, noting “his contributions to the conservation and restoration of Vermont’s jewel, Lake Champlain.” In May, Curt Spalding, Administrator for EPA’s New England Region, visited the LCBP office to recognize Bill “For 17 years of leadership of the Lake Champlain Basin Program, demonstrating dedication, professionalism, and skillful diplomacy which resulted in stronger partnerships and countless actions to restore Lake Champlain.” Friends and colleagues bid adieu to Bill at a “graduation” reception, where a common theme among speakers was his ability to bring out the best in partners, stakeholders, and staff to move the protection of the Lake forward despite challenges and obstacles.As the new director, Eric brings nearly 20 years of experience in water quality and watershed management issues in the Basin, having worked the past seven years as Technical Coordinator for the LCBP. Eric holds a Ph.D. in Natural Resources and a M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology from the University of Vermont, a B.S. at the State University of New York in Environmental and Forest Biology, and an A.A.S. from Paul Smith’s College in Ecology and Environmental Technology. Prior to joining the LCBP, he worked with the Darrin Fresh Water Institute of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation’s Water Quality Division.The EPA’s Spalding said, “Eric brings experience working on Lake Champlain issues with local communities, environmental organizations, the research community, and state, federal and provincial leaders. EPA looks forward to working with him and the Steering Committee to focus on critical new challenges while building on previous LCBP successes.”Monitoring Program Critical to Lake Health
Vermont Business Magazine Vermont tops the nation in chicken pox vaccinations, according to newly published results from the 2015 National Immunization Survey for Teens(link is external) (NIS-Teen), but there is more work to be done to ensure all Vermont teens are protected against cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV). The annual telephone survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Vermont adolescents age 13 to 17 had the highest rate of varicella (chicken pox) immunization in the country. More than 96 percent of teens in Vermont were fully vaccinated, which is significantly higher than the national average (83 percent). Vermont teens also had higher than average vaccination rates for Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), meningococcal disease and HPV. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends adolescents age 11 to 12 receive vaccines to prevent diseases, including one that protects against HPV-infection.HPV infection can result in certain types of cancers, most notably cervical cancer, but also cancers of the throat, tongue, tonsils, and genital and anal cancer, as well as genital warts. The HPV vaccine is the first highly effective vaccine to prevent multiple types of cancers.Administered as a three shot series over six months, the HPV vaccine has been recommended for girls since 2006 and for boys since 2011. In Vermont, nearly 69 percent of girls and 66 percent of boys have received at least one HPV shot.“This new data is encouraging,” said Dr. Erica Gibson of the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital and the Vermont Child Health Improvement Program. “We’re seeing that overall, Vermont is moving toward its goals for teen vaccinations. While the trends are good for the initial dose of the HPV vaccine, the challenge is to make sure teens get their additional shots to be fully protected by this safe and effective vaccine.”Many Vermont teens who start the vaccine series do not get back to the doctor’s office for the full course of shots. Since it was first recommended for them nine years ago, 54 percent of girls in Vermont had completed the full vaccination series. In just four years since being recommended for boys, their immunization rates for the series have risen to 40 percent.Closing the gap so that teens get the full series of shots is a priority for Vermont health officials and providers.“I’m pleased with the progress to date and the strong support of our health care partners,” said Christine Finley, immunization program manager with the Vermont Department of Health. “We need to continue to build on the work of parents, primary care providers and schools to protect teens.”Finley cited as an example the department’s work with the National Improvement Partnership Network collaborating with health care providers to improve systems that help deliver recommended immunizations to Vermonters. “My hope is that in the very near future, all teens will be able to realize the full potential of the HPV vaccine to prevent cancer.”To teens who may not have finished getting all the shots, Dr. Gibson offered reassurance. “Even if things get off track after you get the first dose, don’t worry. It’s never too late to go back and get your additional doses. It’s the easiest thing you can do to protect yourself against cancer.”For more information about the 2015 NIS-Teen study, visit:http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vaxview/teenvaxview(link is external)(exit VDH)(link is external)To learn more about immunizations in Vermont, visit: healthvermont.gov/hc/imm(link is external)
by Mike Smith Republican Phil Scott will be Vermont’s next governor. Scott won his bid to be Vermont’s 82nd governor by handily defeating his Democratic rival, Sue Minter. What made Scott’s victory especially impressive is that he won in a presidential election year when voter turnout in Vermont was supposed to favor Democrats. Scott was elected because he is well liked and trusted by Vermonters. He recognized early on that Vermonters were concerned about the economy, especially the cost of living in this state as well as the importance of attracting higher paying jobs, and he made these issues the centerpiece of his campaign.In contrast, Sue Minter lost because she never fully grasped the importance of these economic concerns; or if she did, she was never able to connect with Vermonters in a way to ease their concerns. She also made other critical errors.Winning an election is all about building coalitions, and Minter alienated two important constituencies. She was forceful in her desire to add more restrictions on the purchase of guns and in advocating for more industrial windmills on Vermont’s ridgelines. These positions helped her win the Democratic primary, but in the general election gun owners and those Vermonters who sought more input into the siting process of industrial wind projects — two powerful groups — sided with Scott.In addition, Minter was never able, nor did she try, to untether herself from an unpopular governor. Gov. Peter Shumlin promised much during his tenure as the state’s chief executive but was never able to deliver on those promises in a way that satisfied many Vermonters. This had a negative impact on Minter’s campaign.And lastly, Minter relied too heavily on national issues and national political figures in her effort to win this election. She failed to recognize that Vermonters seldom vote for their governor based on national issues, or who is endorsing her, even if the endorsements are from prominent and popular national figures like Sen. Bernie Sanders or President Barack Obama. Vermonters are more interested in how a candidate for governor is going to solve state and local problems.Trying to turn Vermont’s governor’s race into a referendum on national issues is where Planned Parenthood of Northern New England got it wrong as well. Phil Scott is a Republican but is much different in his politics and policies than his national party. Efforts to link Scott to the national Republican Party were unlikely to succeed. Yet Planned Parenthood failed to recognize this and ran negative ads against Phil Scott — who is pro-choice and actually supportive of their organization — trying to label him as a Republican in lock-step with the national Republican Party, when most Vermonters knew otherwise.These negative attack ads may have caused more damage to the reputation of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England than to Phil Scott. The attack ads were viewed as unfair and partisan and angered Vermonters, including those who were supportive of Planned Parenthood. The perception of the organization has certainly changed in the eyes of many Vermonters, at least in the short-term. Nowadays, Planned Parenthood may be more commonly perceived as a partisan political organization rather than a much-needed nonpartisan women’s health-care organization. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England was a loser in this election cycle because some Vermonters have lost trust in its priorities.On the other hand, WCAX-TV was a winner. It aired the most informative political debate between Minter and Scott, and it came closest to predicting the outcome of the governor’s race with a political poll that it commissioned.With this election now behind us, Vermonters expect their new governor to address their economic concerns. And if Gov.-elect Phil Scott can do that, then every Vermonter will feel that they have won.Mike Smith is the host of the radio program, “Open Mike with Mike Smith,” on WDEV 550 AM and 96.1, 96.5, 98.3 and 101.9 FM. He is also a political analyst for WCAX-TV and WVMT radio and is a regular contributor to Vermont Business Magazine, The Times Argus and Rutland Herald. He was the secretary of administration and secretary of human services under former Governor Jim Douglas.