Senate approves mandatory fees on non-union members

first_imgby Nat Rudarakanchana vtdigger.org   The state Senate has approved mandatory fees on non-union members for services they receive, such as representation in grievances and collective bargaining, which under law unions must provide even to non-members.The Senate bill passed 24-5 Wednesday, and is the first substantive bill to pass the Senate this session. It now faces consideration in the House.About 2,100 school teachers and support staff, 542 state employees, and 31 municipal employees would have to pay fees capped at 85 percent of full union dues. For education workers, annual fees would range from $150 to $350, with doubled fees for teachers compared to school staff, who include custodians and cafeteria workers.School boards largely oppose the legislation, which sailed through committeeand enjoys widespread support from lawmakers.Joel Cook, head of the Vermont-NEA, the state’ s teacher union, is a key backer of the legislation.‘ Ultimately the positions being staked out by opponents are somewhat made up, and so I’ m pretty convinced when legislators actually understand the facts about these things, they won’ t be swayed by the fear-mongering, frankly, that’ s occurring,’ said Cook.He hailed the passage today as meaningful progress, and is optimistic about the bill’ s fate in the House. Last year a similar bill passed the Senate, only to die in the House during the last days of the session, purely for technical and procedural reasons, according to Cook.Opposing arguments include the idea that the substantial fee effectively forces non-union members into joining unions, and that the hundreds of thousands in revenues generated by these so-called ‘ fair share’ fees could be misdirected towards union political activity.But supporters of fair-share fees, like Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland, and Phil Baruth, D-Burlington, said on the floor that the fee is calculated precisely to cover expenses for services used by non-union members, like staff time for the negotiation of contracts or assistance in grievance proceedings.They said union leaders had documented the need for their specific agency fee rates by providing financial audit records.The Vermont NEA is expected to raise up to $500,000 per year through agency fees, while the VSEA is expected to raise about $200,000 annually. The two unions say that will cover costs it already bears, and that the money could help lower dues for union members, who complain that it’ s unfair for them to bear costs imposed by ‘ freeloading’ non-members.Republican Sens. Peg Flory of Pittsford and Joe Benning of Lyndonville questioned whether the Senate Economic Development Committee had adequately documented union claims, or whether it had swallowed financial figures from union representatives without due diligence.Cook declined to comment on the implication that union bosses might have other uses for revenue from fresh fees, for example to potentially bolster executive salaries or political activity.While he didn’ t know offhand how much the NEA spent annually on services provided to members and non-union members, he estimated that the majority of union time and money, about 80 percent, is devoted to non-political activity.Sen. Chris Bray, D-New Haven, proposed halving the recommended agency fee by capping it at 49 percent of normal union dues in an amendment, which died 21-8 on the floor. He said the state had given unions a virtual taxing privilege by making these fees mandatory, and argued his rate would be more acceptable for voiceless non-union members.February 7, 2013 vtdigger.orglast_img read more

Read more on Senate approves mandatory fees on non-union members

Opinion: Clinical trials in Vermont have benefited patients

first_imgby Michael O’Connor Without effective biopharmaceutical treatments, I’d be relying on caregiver support for my daily needs. And that’s why I, a Parkinson’s disease survivor, am such a staunch advocate for the clinical research biopharmaceutical companies have conducted, and continue to pursue, in Vermont.According to a new report, ‘Research in Your Backyard: Pharmaceutical Clinical Trials in Vermont,’ biopharmaceutical companies have conducted 566 trials of new medicines in the state since 1999, and more than half of them have targeted our most debilitating chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. While I have found clinical trials and biomarker research nationally available, I am hopeful there will be Parkinson’s disease (PD) trials established in the backyards of Vermonter’s real soon!Biopharmaceutical companies and their local research institution collaborators, including the University of Vermont Medical Center, are striving to develop effective new-generation medicines especially for those living with PD. We understand the vital importance of that effort every day for without clinical trials, there can be no development of new treatments or a chance to find a cure for all of us living with chronic illness.It’s also important that 48 trials of new chronic disease medications are still active in the state and recruiting patients: clinical trials have the potential to improve or save people’s lives and better awareness can spur more participation. The active trials in Vermont include 20 for cancer, which the American Cancer Society says killed about 1,300 Vermonters in 2013, and 10 for heart disease, the leading disease cause of death in the country and second-leading disease killer in our state.The ‘Research in Your Backyard’ report offers a helpful step for patients and their doctors to get more information on each of the nearly 50 trials that are still recruiting. And I urge people to take that step to find out more about ongoing clinical research in Vermont. Visit www.phrma.org/innovation/research-in-your-backyard(link is external).Not only is it possible that some patients might be effectively treated in a trial, receiving new hope when all seemed lost, but if they participate, they are also making an important contribution to developing a new medicine for many victims of a disease. These research opportunities are made possible by a good research infrastructure in the state, led by the University of Vermont and Fletcher Allen Health Care. Our state leaders are also supportive, including the current administration of Governor Peter Shumlin.In the end, we’ve all come together to create a sound research environment, one which has been beneficial to patients all over the world. I urge Vermonters to learn more about the clinical trials in our state and how they can benefit health and our economy.Michael O’Connor is a resident of Williston and the immediate past president of the Vermont chapter of the American Parkinson’s Disease Association.last_img read more

Read more on Opinion: Clinical trials in Vermont have benefited patients

New Vermont Gas pipeline contractor committed to hiring local unions, buying local

first_imgVermont Gas Systems Inc,Vermont Business Magazine The Addison Rutland Natural Gas Project (ARNGP) is slated to bring millions of dollars in economic benefits to Vermont over the next 20 years and beyond. According to Vermont Gas System, mainline construction is continuing on the 41-mile project that promises an affordable, clean energy choice for Vermont families and businesses. With the construction also come job opportunities and a boost to the local economy. Michels Corporation, a Wisconsin-based family-owned company, has announced it will hire up to 50 percent of the needed labor force within the area of the signatory Pipeline Contractors Association (PLCA) local unions. The company is also committed to purchasing needed construction materials through local vendors during the construction season, wherever possible.Michels was hired in July. It takes over from the previous contractor, Over & Under Piping Contractors of Auburn, NY, with which VGS is involved in a suit and counter-suit over payment and other issues.RELATED: Vermont Gas selects Michels Corporation for mainline construction “This project will bring a valuable energy choice to more Vermont families and businesses. We are partnering with an experienced, capable construction company that sees value in hiring skilled contractors who know this state,” said Don Rendall, President and CEO of Vermont Gas Systems. “The promise to buy local whenever possible is important to Vermont’s small businesses. We are excited to have Michels on the ground and are pleased to have their commitment to support our local economy.”“As a family-owned business with over 50 years of experience in utility construction, we are committed to fostering good relationships in the communities we serve,” said Danny Vincent, General Manager of the Eastern Region at Michels Corporation. “We look forward to being good neighbors and good citizens during our time in Vermont.”Work on the first 11 miles, connecting Colchester to Williston, is underway and scheduled for completion this year. The entire project is scheduled to be completed in late 2016.VGS is back before the Public Service Board (STORY)(link is external) because of cost hikes in 2014. The PSB is considering re-opening the Certificate of Public Good process, which it is expected to decide this summer. Opponents of the Addison pipeline include AARP, which opposes the pipeline because it says rates for exisitng ratepayers will suffer, environmental groups opposed to fracked gas and from some landowners in the path of the pipeline.Source: VGS 8.4.2015. www.VermontGas.com(link is external). Vermont Business Magazine.last_img read more

Read more on New Vermont Gas pipeline contractor committed to hiring local unions, buying local

Revision Military opens UK plant

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Revision Military, a world leader in integrated, purpose-built soldier solutions, with operational headquarters in Essex Junction, is establishing a new UK facility not only to support the ongoing delivery of the VIRTUS Programme UK Head Sub-System (the Cobra Plus protective head system) but also to facilitate closer communications and support for Revision’s UK and European customers.  With Revision’s industry-leading integrated soldier systems capabilities, which now include power provision and management, the Company believes there are numerous opportunities that will benefit from this local resource support. The facility, which is scheduled to open in Q4, 2015, will be located in Bristol near the Ministry of Defence’s Abbey Wood site that houses the Defence Equipment and Support procurement organisation.Jonathan Blanshay, CEO, Revision Military commented, “We are extremely proud that the Cobra Plus Head System(link is external) has been selected as the new helmet and facial protection system for UK soldiers. We believe in supporting not only this program, but also other as yet unidentified soldier-systems initiatives with this commitment to establish Revision Military (UK) Ltd.  Proximity to DE&S will allow for closer working relationships in the quest to provide the very best protective gear for UK troops.”  He continued, “I am also very pleased to announce the appointment of Brigadier (Retired) Peter Rafferty to the position of President, Revision Military (UK) Ltd.”Brigadier (Retired) Rafferty served over 30 years as a Regular Infantry Officer holding commissions in the King’s Regiment and latterly the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.  His deployments include the Falkland Islands, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Libya.  Also an acquisition professional, he led the Dismounted Close Combat Integrated Project Team and the Personal Combat Equipment Project Team.   He was Head of the Individual Capability Group responsible for infantry equipment programme delivery and conceived and led the development of the Integrated Soldier System Executive.On the announcement of his appointment Peter said:  “I am delighted to have joined Revision Military to lead our efforts here in the UK and beyond.  Revision’s track record of putting the soldier first is second to none, delivering world class personal protective equipment of the highest quality.  The Company is passionately committed to our soldiers, their survivability and their success if defense of our nations.  The vision, values and ethos of the Company are instantly recognizable to me as a retired Infantry soldier. I am proud to be part of Revision’s continuing mission to ensure that our soldiers get the very best equipment, as they have the right to expect.”ABOUT REVISIONRevision develops and delivers purpose-built protective soldier equipment for military use worldwide. The company, which began with eyewear, has expanded to face, head and torso protection as well as energy storage and power management products, continues to develop innovative capabilities for integrated, performance-enhancing soldier systems. To that end, Revision brings together the most advanced expertise, state-of-the-art facilities and finest technical minds. Privately owned and ISO 9001:2008 certified, Revision’s operational headquarters is located in Essex Junction, Vermont, USA, with additional offices in Luxembourg, Canada and the UK. For more information, visit www.revisionmilitary.com(link is external)last_img read more

Read more on Revision Military opens UK plant

Rutland City makes significant progress on Northwest Neighborhood revitalization

first_imgVermont Business Magazine A collaboration of the City of Rutland, Rutland Redevelopment Authority, NeighborWorks of Western Vermont, and Project VISION announced a number of recently completed action steps representing significant progress towards the revitalization of a section of the City’s Northwest Neighborhood. The recent progress will be celebrated with a community block party on October 3. Progress has included the acquisition and demolition of several previously vacant and blighted structures and the acquisition of other less deteriorated property which will be renovated for future owner occupancy.In July, 2014 the City was awarded a $1.25M implementation grant through the VT Community Development Program to be used for acquisition, demolition and rehabilitation of vacant and physically deteriorated properties located within a section of the City’s Northwest Neighborhood.  Over the past year a number of important steps have been achieved.  “The recent progress we have made towards acquiring targeted properties that have long been a blighting influence on this neighborhood has been exciting” said Rutland City Mayor, Chris Louras.  The City has also made significant investment in the neighborhood’s infrastructure and aesthetics with a $5M sewer/storm water separation initiative nearing completion and new sidewalks, fresh paving, and attractive green strips and tree plantings being installed along the neighborhood’s streets. “This is the type of public investment and progress that will help generate excitement and stimulate private investment in the area” said Louras.One of the most visible acquisitions to date occurred at 65 Baxter Street, the site of a formerly vacant and blighted structure, which was the first successful property transfer achieved through the grant. “Not only were we able to remove a blighted structure from the neighborhood but the residents surrounding it have been given the opportunity to determine the future re-use of this property” said Rutland Redevelopment Authority Director, Brennan Duffy.  Working with the City’s Recreation and Parks Department a public engagement process has occurred and the surrounding residents have determined that a small park including a playground for younger children, covered picnic tables, and a tether ball and bocce ball court will be constructed.  The cleared site will be the location for the block party in October.Neighborworks of Western Vermont (NWWVT) has partnered with the City through the grant and is responsible for the property acquisition and rehabilitation of vacant properties.  The allotted funding allows a budget for the eventual demolition of four properties and the rehabilitation of seven others.  The rehabilitated properties will be returned to owner occupancy through the NWWVT home ownership programs.  Mary Cohen, Homeownership Director, says “NeighborWorks will begin rehabilitating the first of seven homes in the Northwest Neighborhood this fall and will be marketing as owner occupied residences. NWWVT is committed to this neighborhood and is currently offering many programs and services to promote homeownership including down payment assistance, home buyer education and counseling as well as purchase and rehabilitation loans. We believe this is an attractive neighborhood for first time home buyers because of all the close amenities of downtown, outdoor recreation and pure affordability.”“We have a vision to make Rutland one of the healthiest, happiest and safest communities in America.”  Said, Joe Kraus, Chairman of Rutland’s Project VISION.  “To get there we have undertaken many different initiatives.  Among the most important are the efforts to help build great neighborhoods. It is our hope and belief that the work in the Northwest Neighborhood will encourage first time home owners to consider this neighborhood as the place where they want to invest their hard earned capital, raise their families and live their lives. When that happens, this will truly be a great neighborhood.”   Rutland City, Vermont – September 30, 2015 – Rutland Redevelopment Authoritylast_img read more

Read more on Rutland City makes significant progress on Northwest Neighborhood revitalization

Vermont AG settles consumer protection claims against Suburban Propane for $711,000

Suburban Propane,Vermont Business Magazine Suburban Propane, LP, one of America’s largest propane retailers, has agreed to pay $311,357 to Vermont consumers, $200,000 to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and $200,000 in civil penalties to the State of Vermont, to settle claims that the company violated Vermont consumer protection laws. The Attorney General found that Suburban had a deficient system for complying with Vermont’s timeframes for removing propane storage tanks and issuing refund checks after consumers terminated propane service. Suburban also improperly billed and collected a gross receipts fuel tax, charged a regulatory fee that was not allowed under Vermont law, and terminated some customers without giving a mandatory 14-day notice.“Vermont’s propane laws have strong protections for consumers and for ensuring fair competition,” said Attorney General Sorrell. “If you receive an envelope from the Attorney General in December or January, open it. If it’s about Suburban, it will include information from my office and for many consumers, at least some money to help with winter heating or holiday expenses.”Suburban will be sending checks within the next eight weeks to 1,830 consumers who may have or are known to have had delays in tank removal or receipt of refunds, to resolve claims regarding Suburban’s propane service termination. Current Vermont law requires companies to remove propane tanks within 20 days of a customer’s request to terminate service (or from the disconnection date), and to issue refund checks within 20 days of disconnection. Statutory penalties apply for delays beyond the allowable timeframes.Under the terms of the settlement(link is external), Suburban will now: (i) record all dates and other information necessary to comply with timeframes for terminating propane service; (ii) make payments of $283,000 to 1,830 Vermont consumers to resolve any actual or potential delay in propane service termination for the time period January 1, 2010, through April 13, 2012; (iii) refund $28,398 to 593 consumers for improperly charging a regulatory fee; (iv) automatically calculate the gross receipts fuel tax into Suburban’s fuel price and make the proper disclosure regarding the fuel tax; (v) give 14-days’ notice before issuing a delivery hold to any customer; (vi) promptly review any future consumer complaints regarding propane service termination; and (vii) pay $200,000 to Vermont’s LIHEAP program and $200,000 in civil penalties to the State.This is the fourth and largest settlement since 2012 with a propane provider that failed to abide by Vermont’s timeframes regarding service termination. The higher settlement amount reflects, in part, the fact that Suburban had entered into previous settlements with the Attorney General’s Office on similar issues in 2003, 2005, and 2008. The current settlement also includes a fixed penalty provision in the event that Suburban has future violations on these issues.Consumers who have questions about the settlement may contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program(link is external), by phone: (802) 656-3183 or 1-800-649-2424, by email at [email protected](link sends e-mail), or by mail to: Consumer Assistance Program, 146 University Place, Burlington, VT 05405. Consumers who wish to file a complaint against a business are encouraged to fill out the on-line complaint form at:https://www.uvm.edu/consumer/?Page=complaint.html(link is external).Consumers can also get regular updates from the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program on Twitter @vtattorneygen, Facebook(link is external), or by subscribing to our monthly “Pure Vermont” e-newsletter ([email protected](link sends e-mail)).Vermont Attorney General: Oct 23, 2015 read more

Read more on Vermont AG settles consumer protection claims against Suburban Propane for $711,000

Welch’s opioid amendment clears committee hurdle, heads to House floor for vote

first_imgVermont Business Magazine The House Energy and Commerce Committee today approved an initiative by Representative Peter Welch (D-Vermont) that would help law enforcement gain access to real-time information on drug overdoses. The Examining Opioid Treatment Infrastructure Act (HR 4982), as amended by Welch’s initiative, was unanimously approved by the committee and will now head to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote.  The bill requires the Comptroller General to evaluate and report on the inpatient and outpatient treatment capacity, availability, and needs within U.S. communities. Welch’s amendment would expand the report to identify barriers at the federal, state, and local levels to reporting information on drug overdoses to law enforcement in real-time. It would also require the report to include suggestions of ways to overcome those barriers with the goal of helping law enforcement quickly identify when, where, and how overdoses are occurring.“The opioid epidemic is taking a heavy toll on families and communities across Vermont,” Rep. Welch said. “We need all hands on deck to tackle this crisis. That includes giving law enforcement tools for accurate and real-time reporting so it can identify where overdoses are occurring and prevent them where possible.”Welch’s amendment, cosponsored by Rep. David McKinley (R-VW), was included in a package of bills approved by the Committee that tackles various aspects of the opioid epidemic.  Other bills approved by the Committee today include:·         The Nurturing and Supporting Healthy Babies Act (H.R. 4978) requires the Comptroller General to submit to Congress a report on neonatal abstinence syndrome in the United States and its treatment under Medicaid.·         H.R. 4641 would establish an inter-agency task force to review, modify, and update best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication.·         The Veteran Emergency Medical Technician Support Act of 2015 (H.R. 1818) establishes a demonstration program for states with a shortage of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to streamline state requirements and procedures to assist veterans who completed military EMT training to meet state EMT certification, licensure, and other requirements.·         The Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Expansion and Modernization Act (H.R. 4981) allows nurse practitioners and physician assistants to dispense medication assisted treatment in accordance with state laws and the supervision of a physician. It would also increase the cap on the number of patients a physician may treat to 250 per year (with additional training).·         The DXM Abuse Prevention Act of 2015 (H.R. 3250) prohibits the sale of drugs containing dextromethorphan (DXM), which is typically found in over the counter cold medicines, to individuals under age 18 without a prescription.·         The John Thomas Decker Act (H.R. 4969) would require the CDC to provide informational materials to help educate and prevent addiction in teenagers and adolescents who are injured playing youth sports and are subsequently prescribed an opioid.·         The Reducing Unused Medications Act of 2016 (H.R. 4599) would amend the Controlled Substances Act to permit partial fillings of schedule II prescriptions.·         The Opioid Review Modernization Act (H.R. 4976) would create an advisory committee to provide recommendations regarding the FDA approval of new opioids without abuse-deterrent properties.last_img read more

Read more on Welch’s opioid amendment clears committee hurdle, heads to House floor for vote

Vigilant Guard statewide emergency exercise to commence July 25-August 2

first_imgVermont Business Magazine Some 5,000 emergency responders will take part in Vermont’s largest ever emergency exercise later this month.  Individuals involved in emergency response on the local, state, and federal levels will be tested in the face of extreme circumstances as part of Vermont’s Vigilant Guard catastrophic emergency exercise. The simulation will play out in 50 locations throughout Vermont and include state agencies, local communities, 16 hospitals, the Burlington Airport, and the Vermont National Guard among many others.  Three years in the planning, its goal is to evaluate performance and identify gaps that may exist in the state’s response to a catastrophic event.“Our emergency response capabilities are strong in Vermont,” Governor Peter Shumlin said.  “Among all levels of government, non-profits, and the private sector we work as one to protect Vermonters.  This exercise will strengthen that response and we ask for Vermonters’ cooperation and understanding during this exercise as they will likely see increased Guard, emergency management, and first responder activity.”The exercise will begin on July 25 and take place over nine days.  Emergency Operations Centers at several state agencies and the National Guard will be activated at different times during the week, and the exercise will culminate with a 53 hour around-the-clock activation at the State Emergency Operations Center involving all agencies.“We’ve designed this exercise to pose as many real challenges as possible,” DEMHS Director Christopher Herrick said.  “Urban search and rescue teams will work with the National Guard to clear tons of debris, the Health Department will receive and distribute Strategic National Stockpile medicines and supplies, and actors will inundate hospitals and shelters needing assistance.  This degree of realism will help us hone our response by identifying not only what went right, but what went wrong and rectifying those mistakes in the future.”The goal of every emergency exercise is to identify gaps in response so they can be filled in through additional training and planning.National Guard vehicles will be on the road and in the sky during the event, and hundreds of members of the Guard will perform emergency tasks for which they have trained.”Responding to state emergencies is an important mission for the National Guard.  It may be the most important mission we do.  Testing our ability to support state and local authorities is very important to making sure we are ready to help when the Governor calls.”The Vermont Department of Health will play a major role during the exercise.  A simulated health emergency will test that department’s ability to respond and distribute life-saving medications.“The Health Department is committed to emergency preparedness,” said Health Commissioner Harry Chen, MD. “Nearly every one of our staff will be involved in one way or another during the exercise. Because whether it’s a natural disaster like Irene, or disease like a novel strain of flu, or a cyber-attack, or any combination of catastrophes, we must have a system that’s ready to respond to any threat to the health and lives of Vermonters and visitors.”Should a real emergency occur the public will be notified through traditional means like Vermont Alert (http://vtalert.gov(link is external)), the Emergency Alert System, or through the media.The Vermont Division of Emergency Management & Homeland Security (DEMHS), the Vermont Department of Health, and the National Guard began planning the exercise in June 2013. Specific details of the exercise will remain confidential as players cannot know those details before being evaluated during the exercise.  However, accommodations will be made for the press in order to allow them to cover the event.The exercise is still in need of actors for the simulation – if interested contact [email protected](link sends e-mail). Vigilant Guard Facts and Numbers – July 13, 2016·        Full-scale exercise July 25 – August 2, 2016 in multiple Vermont locations to evaluate emergency workers’ abilities to respond to catastrophic event.·        5,000 participants·        50 sites·        9 days·        List of participants (not a complete list)Communities Town of ColchesterTown of GuilfordTown of LyndonCity of NewportTown of WilmingtonTown of Windsor·        Department of Public Safetyo   Division of Emergency Management & Homeland Securityo   Division of Fire Safetyo   Urban Search and Rescueo   Vermont State Police·        Agency of Agriculture·        Agency of Commerce and Community Development·        Agency of Transportation·        Department of Healtho   District offices·        Other state agencies at the Vermont Emergency Operations Center·        16 VT Hospitals·        Vermont National Guard·        Civil Air Patrol·        National Weather Service·        Burlington International Airport·        Red Cross·        Vermont 2-1-1·        Vermont Electric Cooperative·        Federal Emergency Management Agency·        Centers for Disease Control·        Simulation includeso   Emergency Operations Centers and in the fieldo   Natural disaster response and recoveryo   Medical surgeo   Strategic National Stockpile distributiono   Cybero   Others (cannot be revealed before exercise to ensure surprise and a true representation of performance for evaluation.)last_img read more

Read more on Vigilant Guard statewide emergency exercise to commence July 25-August 2

Winooski River clean up yields stacks of tires, metal for junk art, and a call for action

first_imgVermont Business Magazine  If you were anywhere near the Winooski River in Montpelier or Middlesex this past Saturday, you probably saw dozens of people wading through the water carrying buckets and pushing canoes full of tires. There were kids as young as six, employees from local businesses, and even an entire AmeriCorps crew from the NCCC Atlantic Region out of Baltimore. It may have looked like an odd scene, but the facts of the matter—and the numbers—are common for Friends of the Winooski River volunteers. This year, 60 hardy citizens risked soggy boots and gloves to remove over 100 tires and several truck loads of junk metal and trash (the final weight is still pending) in a three hour period and, shockingly, from mostly the same stretches of river that are cleaned up every year. These numbers are up from last year when volunteers picked up trash from four sites and pulled 52 tires out of the river. “We had an amazing turn-out of volunteers, and were able to add three new sites we’ve never done before,” says Shawn White, Friends’ Project Manager and clean-up organizer. “I’m hoping next year we’ll have even more people participate. There’s still more trash out there we weren’t able to retrieve and, unfortunately, there’s always more added every year.” In 1998, the Friends began coordinating annual river clean-ups focused where the four rivers of the Winooski River, the North Branch, the Stevens Branch and the Dog River converge in the Barre-Montpeiler area. This effort had been ongoing thanks to Bill Haines, now retired science teacher at Montpelier High School. MHS will continue their long tradition of Winooski River clean-ups this Friday. Much of the junk metal gathered by volunteers was transported to MHS where students will turn it into sculptures that show off their creativity and make a statement. Th ese works of art will be on public display in front of the high school until September 22nd. Also on the high school grounds, the Friends will hold a Volunteer Appreciation event for all of our volunteers on Monday, September 19th at 5pm. Julie Moore of Stone Environmental led a group of Stone staff this year. “Participating in the Friends’ annual river clean-up provides Stone staff an opportunity to give back, directly, to the river that so much of our work is intended to help protect and restore,” says Moore. “I am always struck by the number of tires we are able to pull from the 1/2-mile stretch of the Winooski between Granite Street and Main Street. This year was no exception, pulling nearly three dozen tires.” In one particular reach of the river off of Old Country Club Road—just above and below the dam—volunteers worked arduously to liberate four large, water-logged tractor wheels from the rocky current. They were successful in pulling them out of the water. However, more support and tools are needed to pull them from the banks to the road in order for them to be hauled away and kept out of the river forever. We’re asking you for help. Are you a business or individual in the Barre-Montpelier area capable of removing these wheels from the river corridor? Help us save the Winooski from giant tires! Please contact the Friends at 802-882-8276 or [email protected](link sends e-mail). The Friends would like to thank Tom Moore of T&T Trucking for volunteering his time and his truck to haul away tires. “The river upstream of Pioneer Street Bridge where we spent the morning is pretty depressing—a testament to the damage humans have done for many years,” says volunteer John Snell. “It was depressing and, at the same time, educational. We know rivers can rejuvenate quickly if we just stop damaging them. Even with all the trash, the Winooski is a treasure right in our back yard.”Of course, the overall purpose of the clean-up is not to feel worse about the state of the river. “While we pulled out a hundreds of pounds of scrap metal and tires, it was pretty clear that most of that trash had been there for a long time,” says Anne Watson, who led a crew near the confluence of the Winooski and the Stevens Branch. “There was a distinct lack of what I would call ‘modern’ waste; there were almost no cans or bottles or plastic debris. I found that very encouraging.” Volunteers on the River Road stretch in Middlesex found joy in spotting abundant and diverse organisms as well as interesting trash items. “We found bits and pieces of an antique woodstove, pottery dated from the early 1800’s, antique glass bottles with ‘Montpelier’ etched at the base, an old boot, car parts, and assorted odd mangled up pieces of metal,” says Lee Rosberg, site leader for the Middlesex group. The river clean-up was part of two greater efforts this month, one being the Friends’ Four Rivers Fund Campaign to raise awareness and funds for their great work in the Barre-Montpelier area. The Fund supports restoration and protection projects, education programs, and water quality monitoring. The Friends engage residents and landowners to be stewards of the Winooski River and its watershed. For a list of their remaining events this month, please visit their website at www.winooskiriver.org(link is external). The clean-up was also part of Vermont’s River Clean-up Month. Efforts around the state are being coordinated by Watersheds United Vermont, a network of over 30 local watershed groups. Visit www.watershedsunitedvt.org/vtrivercleanup(link is external) to volunteer at a river cleanup or to find resources to organize your own event. The Friends would like to thank all of our contributors and volunteers! With your help, we are protecting water quality and raising awareness about important issues in the Winooski River Watershed. If you haven’t yet contributed to our fund, please consider making a donation using the following link to support future projects and events like the clean-up. https://www.razoo.com/us/story/Four-Rivers-Fund-1(link is external)Friends of the Winooski River is a non-profit dedicated to the restoration and protection of the Winooski River and its tributaries. We work throughout the 1,080 square mile watershed to protect habitat, stabilize stream banks and improve water quality. We are also committed to providing people with access and opportunities to enjoy the river. To learn more about our work visit http://www.winooskiriver.org(link is external).Source: Friends of the Winooski River 9.13.2016last_img read more

Read more on Winooski River clean up yields stacks of tires, metal for junk art, and a call for action

Fall presents deer hunters with bird watching

first_imgVermont Business Magazine For many Vermonters, late fall means time spent in the woods hunting deer. Yet, while sitting patiently in deer stands, or sneaking silently through the woods, hunters also see plenty of other wildlife, including a variety of birds. John Buck is Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s bird biologist and an avid deer hunter. Although many of Vermont’s birds have migrated out of the state by November, many species remain and can still be observed during the late fall. Red-breasted nuthatches can still be found in Vermont in November. Photo courtesy of Jim Block Photography. Buck encourages deer hunters to watch for common species such as blue jays or ravens, and for even less common species, such as a northern shrike. Even Vermont’s state bird, the hermit thrush, may still be spotted foraging through the leafless forest in November if snow is late to arrive. “It takes a lot of patience and perseverance to hunt deer and those qualities lend themselves well to birding. Deer hunters are among the most observant and knowledgeable birders I have met,” said Buck. “Whether it is having a chickadee sit on my shoulder or watching a barred owl take a pass at a red squirrel, some of my most memorable birding experiences have been while sitting quietly in my deer stand.” According to a recent study from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, people who both hunt and birdwatch are more likely to support conservation than any other group, either by donating to conservation organizations or by working to improve wildlife habitat on their property. This finding doesn’t surprise Buck, who has been working with hunters and birders at various points in his career. “Hunters and birders both possess a deep understanding of the need for habitat for all of the species that inhabit Vermont’s landscape,” said Buck. “This connections is vitally important to our understanding of the natural world and our place within it.” Buck encourages hunters to note the birds they see while out hunting this fall and to submit these sightings to the Fish & Wildlife Department’s facebook page, with photos if possible. Source: Vermont Fish and Wildlife(link is external) 11.14.2016last_img read more

Read more on Fall presents deer hunters with bird watching