Archives December 2020

Spirit Airlines announces increased Myrtle Beach summer schedule

first_imgTo celebrate its Myrtle Beach summer seasonal service, Spirit is offering fares from $28.79, which is a $9.00 base fare plus taxes and fees,* from Myrtle Beach to/from Washington, DC; Plattsburgh, New York; Niagara Falls, New York; and Fort Lauderdale (each way based on roundtrip purchase) available today and tomorrow at www.spirit.com(link is external). Schedule for Spiritâ s Myrtle Beach (MYR) ‘Fort Lauderdale (FLL) service effective June 14 ‘September 4, 2012: Depart Arrive Flight # Stops Frequency Myrtle Beach ‘Washington, DC 1:38 pm 2:55 pm 548 0 Saturdays Washington, DC ‘Myrtle Beach 3:35 pm 4:51 pm 547 0 Saturdays Schedule for Spiritâ s Myrtle Beach (MYR) ‘Plattsburgh, NY (PBG) service increasing to three days per week effective June 14 ‘September 4, 2012: â We’re pleased Spirit has decided to pick up these routes during the Myrtle Beach area’s busy summer travel season. Spirit Airlines has grown to become the largest carrier at Myrtle Beach International Airport, and our market has experienced great success with the airline,’said Brad Dean, President and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce/CVB.  â Access to affordable air service into the Myrtle Beach area is crucial to building our tourism economy, and Spirit is able to provide that to visitors wishing to travel here.â Each Way, including taxes and fees Applicable Dates Myrtle Beach ‘Washington, DC $28.79 ($9 base fare) 23-Jun-12, 14-Jul-12, 04-Aug-12 Washington, DC ‘Myrtle Beach $28.79 ($9 base fare) 23-Jun-12, 14-Jul-12, 04-Aug-12 Myrtle Beach ‘Plattsburgh, NY $28.79 ($9 base fare) 18-Jun-12, 20-Jun-12, 20-Aug-12, 22-Aug-12 Plattsburgh, NY ‘Myrtle Beach $28.79 ($9 base fare) 18-Jun-12, 20-Jun-12, 20-Aug-12, 22-Aug-12 Myrtle Beach ‘Niagara Falls, NY $28.79 ($9 base fare) 21-Jun-12, 26-Jun-12, 07-Aug-12, 23-Aug-12 Niagara Falls, NY ‘Myrtle Beach $28.79 ($9 base fare) 21-Jun-12, 26-Jun-12, 07-Aug-12, 23-Aug-12 Myrtle Beach ‘Fort Lauderdale $28.79 ($9 base fare) 18-Jun-12, 19-Jun-12, 10-Jul-12, 21-Aug-12 Fort Lauderdale ‘Myrtle Beach $28.79 ($9 base fare) 18-Jun-12, 19-Jun-12, 10-Jul-12, 21-Aug-12 â Spirit is our most valued airline partner, and its willingness to increase nonstop service to Myrtle Beach in markets with proven demand will benefit our entire community and consumers alike,’Bill Golden, Myrtle Beach Golf Holidayâ s president, said. â We look forward to working with Spirit to bring golfers to the Grand Strand and to help insure the success of the additional flights.â Spirit Airlines today announced enhancements to its Myrtle Beach summer schedule. Spirit will resume its seasonal service between Myrtle Beach and Washington, DC Reagan National Airport. Starting June 16, 2012, and running through September 1, 2012, Spirit will offer nonstop Saturday-only service for the peak summer travel season. Schedule for Spiritâ s Myrtle Beach (MYR) ‘Washington, DC Reagan National (DCA) seasonal service effective June 16 ‘September 1, 2012: Depart Arrive Flight # Stops Frequency Myrtle Beach ‘Plattsburgh, NY/Montreal 1:42 pm 3:50 pm 820 0 Mon, Wed, Fri Plattsburgh, NY ‘Myrtle Beach 4:35 pm 6:43 pm 819 0 Mon, Wed, Fri Schedule for Spiritâ s Myrtle Beach (MYR) ‘Niagara Falls, NY (IAG) service increasing to three days per week effective June 21 ‘September 4, 2012: Depart Arrive Flight # Stops Frequency Myrtle Beach ‘Fort Lauderdale 7:59 am 9:38 am 103 0 Daily â I think it shows tremendous confidence from Spirit that they so willingly went back to their planners to determine how they could make this new service happen for our community,’said Mike La Pier, Director of Airports at MYR. â We have a true partner in Spirit Airlines and we are delighted to have them increase their service for us at this time.â In addition, Spirit is increasing flights from two to three frequencies per week between Myrtle Beach and Plattsburgh, New York (serving the Montreal, Quebec area) from June 14 ‘September 1, 2012, and increasing from two to three frequencies per week between Myrtle Beach and Niagara Falls, New York (serving the Buffalo, New York and Toronto, Ontario areas) for the June 21 ‘September 4, 2012, summer season. 8:10 pm 9:50 pm 126 0 Daily*Additional MYR-FLL frequencies effective 06/14/12 through 09/04/12 only. Depart Arrive Flight # Stops Frequency Myrtle Beach –  Niagara Falls, NY 1:50 pm 3:40 pm 226 0 Tue, Thur, Sun Niagara Falls, NY ‘Myrtle Beach 4:30 pm 6:20 pm 289 0 Tue, Thur, Sun 1:29 pm 3:10 pm 541* 0 Thur, Sun Fort Lauderdale ‘Myrtle Beach 7:27 am 9:08 am 540* 0 Thur, Sun Fares from $28.79* (each way, including taxes and fees, and based on roundtrip purchase): Spirit is also increasing flights between Fort Lauderdale and Myrtle Beach with two additional flights per week through September 4, 2012. About Spirit AirlinesSpirit Airlines empowers customers to save money on air travel by offering ultra low base fares with a range of optional services for a fee, allowing customers the freedom to choose only the extras they value. This innovative approach grows the traveling market and stimulates new economic activity while creating new jobs. Spirit’s modern fleet, configuration and other innovations enable Spirit to burn less fuel per seat than competitors, making Spirit one of the most environmentally-friendly US carriers. Spiritâ s all-Airbus fleet currently operates more than 190 daily flights to over 45 destinations throughout the US, Latin America and Caribbean. Visit Spirit at www.spirit.com(link is external). Spirit Airlines. 4.18.2012.last_img read more

C’est What? New BTV magazine to be in English and French

first_imgby Colin Ellis Vermont Business Magazine The exclusive travel magazine of the Burlington International Airport has a new publisher. Seven Days, the Burlington-based alternative weekly publication, will put out a magazine known as BTV to be distributed solely in the airport. The airport chose not to renew the contract with the publisher of the previous publication, Destination Vermont.The publisher of Destination Vermont was WindRidge Publishing of Shelburne. The company put out the magazine six times a year, whereas BTV will only come out seasonally (June, September, December and March). BTV will be published in both English and French. The inaugural issue will come out in June of this year. BTV is the airport code for Burlington International.The publisher and editor of BTV, Pamela Polston, is also the co-owner and co-founder of Seven Days (Da Capo Publishing, Inc). She stressed that Seven Days did not take over Destination Vermont.â Itâ s a different publication than Destination Vermont,’Polston said. â We didnâ t have anything to do with that publication. But we felt the need for a lively tourist-oriented publication in English and French for the airport and the surrounding area.âAccording to Polston, the airport was interested in running a different publication and the airport â felt very positively about the quality of publication Seven Days puts out and wanted to work with us.’She stressed that Seven Days did not buy out or purchase Destination Vermont.â It was not a bidding war,’Polston said. â We werenâ t trying to put anybody out of business. We just saw an opportunity and offered something and they liked it. It was just a business decision.âLike Seven Days’other publications (such as Kids VT), BTV will be free to the public and completely reliant on advertising for its revenues. The quarterly is published in June/Summer, September/ Fall, December/Winter and March/Spring.last_img read more

Green Mountain Co-Pack celebrates new specialty-food processing facility

first_imgGreen Mountain Co-Pack, the Vermont boutique-style specialty food and beverage manufacturer, has built a new, state-of-the-art production facility in Williston and is joining forces with Thirsty Ventures, Inc, to increase output and reduce manufacturing turnaround of specialty food producers.We see exciting things in the future, said GMCP founder Jeff Mitchell. It is great to see the company grow, but I am also excited about tasting all the excellent new, natural foods and beverages we will be able to produce.This move will allow us to provide a wider array of offerings, without diminishing the quality of the ones that got us where we are today, said Thirsty Ventures President Mark Mahoney.Green Mountain Co-Pack is very fortunate to be located in Vermont, a state that supports small businesses and has helped us build this great company, added Mitchell. I look forward to adding players to our team and watching GMCP grow to its full potential.Whats new? As GMCP settles into its new 20,000-square-foot facility in Williston, the company will quadruple its workforce, from five employees to 20. The new location will have enough space to operate two separate productionlines, allowing the company to meet greater output demands, offer a broader range of products, and most importantly, dramatically decrease turnaround time. A new state-of-the-art cooling system will insure consistent, accurate and high-quality products, every time, regardless of batch size. New filling lines will increase efficiency and allow the production of a broader range of high-end specialty products.Though GMCP expects to expand significantly in the coming years, it will continue to produce in small, craft-batched kettles, allowing for thoughtfully blended ingredients, while adhering to the highest-quality standards in the industry. GMCPs new production lines will also offer a stepping stone to allow the smaller, craft producers grow into larger national and international markets.Experts are available to work with start-ups and hobbyists on commercial recipe development, to produce organic, all-natural and conventional drinks, sauces, condiments, beverages and other foods. In fact, between Mitchell, Mahoney and other senior staff, GMCP offers its clients more than 70 years experience in specialty food development and production.GMCPs new facility can produce everything, from small-batch, single skid orders, to large-production truckloads. And it provides efficient, cost-effective shipping, throughout the continental United States and to export ports in New York and New Jersey.Green Mountain Co-Pack has manufactured for Thirsty Ventures subsidiary Powell & Mahoney, Ltd., and other private label projects for more than seven years, and the recent acquisition is expected to provide GMCP tremendous growth potential. Mitchell is proficient in all disciplines of manufacturing, procurement, food and safety, and regulations concerning food and beverage facilities. Mahoney, whose company also owns Maui Beverages, has over 20 years of experience in the food and beverage industry and has been involved in more than a dozen successful start-ups.Vermont has a long-standing reputation beyond the geographical boundaries of New England for producing high quality, all-natural specialty foods and beverages. Vermont continues to be at the forefront of the natural food and beverage movement and accounts for more than $1.2 billion in positive economic impact each year.last_img read more

WCAX’s Kristin Carlson to join Green Mountain Power

first_imgWith the impending retirement of longtime Green Mountain Power communications executive Steve Terry at year’s end, Kristin Carlson will join GMP as director of media January 6. Carlson, an award-winning journalist and co-anchor of ‘The 30’ on WCAX and senior political reporter, will lead the company’s efforts to develop new’ communications strategies to improve the customer experience.’ ‘Steve Terry brought decades of communications experience to the company when he joined Green Mountain Power in 1985,’ President and CEO Mary Powell said.’  ‘While it will be impossible to fill Steve’s shoes, Kristin has similar skills and experience, and shares our commitment to clear, open and transparent communications.’  She will be integral to our effort to expand customer communications opportunities and channels, create deeper and more routine communications by maximizing all forms of social and traditional media, and ensure direct, honest communications with all of our stakeholders.’’ Carlson, who has spent her entire career at WCAX since graduating from Syracuse University in 1999, said leaving journalism was a difficult choice, but GMP’s vision and leadership inspired her decision.’ ‘I’ve dealt with hundreds of companies as a journalist, and I’ve always found GMP to be accessible, direct and responsive, in good times and bad, which is critically important to the public and media,’ Carlson said.’  ‘Combine that with the company’s national leadership on solar development, climate change and innovation, and I see a company that is making a difference for Vermont and the nation.’’ Carlson also was a Vermont Business Magazine “Rising Star” Class of 2010.Terry, 71, started at GMP in 1985, retired from the company in 2006, and served as a consultant to the company for the next six years.’  He returned to GMP full time in early 2012, with plans to stay two years.’ ‘I am extremely proud of the company and its role in Vermont, but it is time for me to spend a little less time working,’ Terry said.’  ‘I couldn’t think of a better person to hand over many of my responsibilities to than Kristin.’’ Terry was formerly the managing editor of the Rutland Herald and legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. George Aiken.’  Carlson won the 2010 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award Silver Baton for a series of stories titled ‘Foreigners on the Farm.’’  She has won four Edward R. Murrow Awards for broadcast journalism since 2008.’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘I am simply thrilled that Kristin will bring her expertise to help build the intellectual muscle and’ innovative skills of our’ leadership team,’ Powell said.’  ‘We want to’ create the best small’ company in the United’ States. To do that, even as we shrink the company over time, we must always’ recruit’ and refresh our’ talent pool with highly skilled’ professionals’ from other’ business’ sectors ‘ and nothing is more important than good, open communication.’last_img read more

Fitch rates Vermont’s $111 million GOs ‘AAA’, outlook Stable

first_imgFitch Ratings assigns an ‘AAA’ rating to the following state of Vermont general obligation (GO) bonds “stable” based on low debt and a conservative fiscal policy. While Fitch is concerned with things like a higher-than average unfunded pension ratio, a slow recovery from the recession and an aging population, the overall outlook is relatively positive. The bonds (see list below) are expected to sell the week of November 17, 2014; the series A bonds through negotiation and the series B and C bonds through competitive bid. In addition, Fitch affirms the ‘AAA’ rating on the state’s outstanding $560.85 million GO bonds.The Rating Outlook is Stable.–$25 million GO bonds, 2014 series A (Vermont Citizen Bonds);–$50 million GO bonds, 2014 series B;–$36 million GO refunding bonds, 2014 series C.SECURITYThe bonds are general obligations of the state of Vermont backed by the state’s full faith and credit.KEY RATING DRIVERSCONSERVATIVE FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT: Vermont’s revenue stream is diverse and revenue estimates are updated at least twice a year. The state takes timely action to maintain balance, and budget stabilization reserves have been maintained at statutory maximum levels despite periods of declining revenue.MODERATE LONG-TERM LIABILITY BURDEN: The state’s combined debt and unfunded pension liabilities pose a slightly above-average burden, but one that Fitch views as manageable. Vermont’s debt levels are at the low end of the moderate range and are expected to remain so, as affordability planning is employed. Funded ratios for Vermont’s pension systems declined in recent years. Positively, the state regularly budgets for its full projected actuarially calculated annual required contribution (ARC) and has enacted plan modifications with the goal of gradually improving the funded status of the plans.RELATIVELY NARROW ECONOMY: Vermont’s economy has diversified but remains narrow with above-average exposure to the cyclical manufacturing sector. While statewide educational attainment and unemployment levels compare favorably to the nation, the state’s median age is well above the national level.RATING SENSITIVITIESThe rating is sensitive to shifts in Vermont’s fundamental credit characteristics, particularly its moderate long-term liability profile and fiscal discipline.CREDIT PROFILEVermont’s ‘AAA’ rating reflects its low debt burden, maintained through adherence to debt affordability guidelines, as well as conservative financial management and maintenance of sound reserves. Outstanding debt, which is nearly entirely GO and matures rapidly, has increased slightly in recent years but the debt burden remains moderately low. Debt plus unfunded state pension liabilities as percentage of personal income is slightly above the states’ median, but the burden is very manageable as the state regularly budgets its full projected pension ARC payments. Vermont budgets conservatively, taking prompt action to address projected budget gaps. Its diverse revenue stream includes a state property tax for education, a relatively unique feature for state governments.LIMITED ECONOMY, STILL RECOVERINGThe relatively narrow state economy is characterized by larger-than-average reliance on tourism, health and educational services, and manufacturing. The state’s relatively small population is older, but more well-educated than the rest of the country. During the recession, Vermont’s peak-to-trough monthly employment loss of 4.8% (seasonally adjusted levels) was less severe than the national 6.3% decline. The recovery has been similarly more gradual than the national trend, as through September, the state had recovered 76.2% of the jobs it lost while the national recovery rate was 112.3%. On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, Vermont’s 0.5% three-month moving average of year-over-year (yoy) employment growth trailed the national 1.9% rate.Unemployment levels remain well below those of the nation, at 4.4% in September 2014 compared to 5.9% for the country, but the state’s labor force has been flat to declining indicating some weakness in the labor market. The recent sale of IBM’s chip manufacturing business to GlobalFoundries is a positive for the state as it should stabilize employment at one of the state’s largest factories. Wealth levels are on par with the nation as 2013 per capita personal income of $45,483 was just slightly ahead of the U.S. Vermont’s total personal income growth has been line with national growth in recent years.STABLE FISCAL PROFILEVermont’s fiscal profile has largely recovered from the recession and remains stable despite a downward revenue forecast revision at the start of this fiscal year. Revenue performance from the state’s major general fund tax sources in fiscals 2009 and 2010 was decidedly negative, though the state took prompt action to maintain balance. Revenue performance improved markedly in fiscal 2011 and this trend continued through 2013 with yoy general fund revenue growth of 7.7% in fiscal 2013. The state reported fiscal 2013 ended with a $21.6 million general fund operating surplus, led by personal income tax (PIT) revenues which increased 10.7%. Prudently, the state recognized that income acceleration due to federal tax law changes inflated PIT collections in fiscal 2013, therefore forecasting much more moderate PIT growth in the enacted fiscal 2014 budget. After enactment, in July 2013 and January 2014, the state revised its revenue estimates upwards based on positive returns through the first half of the year.Fiscal 2014 general fund revenues ended the year up 3.1% ahead of the prior year, but below the 3.4% rate projected in the state’s January 2014 revenue forecast after disappointing second-half results. PIT increased 1.6% over the prior year, while sales and use tax (SUT) decreased 0.6%. The PIT increase was $22.1 million below the January 2014 forecast of 4.9% yoy growth. While part of the SUT decline was attributable to an increased allocation to the education fund, the state also saw a modest $1.7 million shortfall versus the January 2014 estimate. Importantly, the preliminary fiscal 2014 general fund results were in line with the forecast used for the enacted budget so the state did not need to make expense adjustments.A reduction in the state’s fiscal 2015 revenue outlook opened up a revenue gap, but the state took prompt action to address the modest shortfall. At its July meeting, the state’s revenue forecasting body (Emergency Board) revised fiscal 2015 revenues downward due to a slightly more negative economic outlook and the below-forecast results for fiscal 2014. The state crafted its fiscal 2015 budget on the higher January 2014 forecast. Fitch notes positively that within three weeks of the $28 million general fund forecast revision (2.1% of forecast revenues), the state enacted a recission plan to address the gap with a mix of one-time and recurring revenue and expense actions. The plan does not use any of the state’s general fund budget reserves. Fitch views the current forecast as moderately aggressive given the assumption of robust 6.8% yoy growth in the PIT. Monthly revenue monitoring and the annual January forecast update should provide the state with ample time to make adjustments to maintain balance if necessary.Budget stabilization reserves (BSR) in each of the state’s three major operating funds as of the close of fiscal 2014 were fully funded and are expected to remain so through the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2015. In addition to the general fund BSR, capped at 5% of prior year appropriations, Vermont also maintains a general fund balance reserve (BR; replacing the former revenue shortfall reserve). The BR also has a cap of 5% of prior year appropriations, and stood well below that at $5 million (or 0.4%) at the end of fiscal 2014. Vermont projects the BR will remain stable at $4.4 million at the end of the current fiscal year. The state also projects the BSRs for the education and transportation funds, its other major operating funds, will remain fully funded at 5% of appropriations at fiscal year-end 2015.LOW DEBT, HIGHER PENSION LIABILITIESVermont’s tax-supported solid debt profile reflects a moderate burden, straightforward structure, and rapid amortization. Above-average unfunded pension liabilities offset these strengths, though the state has demonstrated its commitment to fully funding the projected pension ARC. As of June 30, 2014, pro forma net tax-supported debt (including the 2014 series A and B) equaled 2.3% of 2013 personal income, which is in line with the states’ median. In 1990, the state established a Capital Debt Affordability Advisory Committee (CDAAC) to annually recommend debt authorizations based on a capacity analysis. After recent modest increases in the state’s debt burden, the CDAAC’s September 2014 preliminary recommendation is to modestly decrease the recommended authorization for fiscal 2016 and 2017 versus prior years. The state has never exceeded the committee’s recommended levels. Fitch views the CDAAC as a useful check as the state has no other constitutional or statutory limitations on debt issuance.Vermont has budgeted and appropriated full projected ARC payments into its pension systems since fiscal 2007, but the unfunded liability remains above-average relative to the state’s economic resources. In recent years, the state implemented a series of changes to benefits, employee contributions, and actuarial assumptions to improve the funded status and reduce the long-term liabilities. Impressively, Vermont also made $35 million in additional contributions on top of full ARC payments in the last two years, using annual operating surpluses. As of June 30, 2014, the state’s Vermont State Retirement System (VSRS) was 68.7% funded on a Fitch-adjusted basis (77.9% reported). Similarly, the teachers’ plan (for which the state is wholly responsible) was just 53.2% funded on a Fitch-adjusted basis (59.9% reported). Fitch anticipates funded ratios will remain relatively stable and gradually improve, subject to investment performance, as the state continues to make full ARC payments. Combined net-tax-supported debt (as of June 30, 2014) plus unfunded pension liabilities (as of June 30, 2014) was an above-average, but still manageable, 9.7% of 2013 personal income.NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE(link is external))–Fitch Ratings 11.6.2014last_img read more

Vermont Veterans’ Home faces staffing and funding questions

first_imgby Hilary Niles vtdigger.org(link is external) The Vermont Veterans’ Home remains underutilized and overstaffed, lawmakers learned last Wednesday. The facility is licensed for 171 patients, staffed to handle 150, but averages only 125 to 135 patients, state officials told the Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Committee. The Civil War-era estate in Bennington has served Vermont veterans for 130 years, and it was originally funded through a $10,000 state appropriation. The Vermont Veterans’ Home was financially self-sufficient until a few years ago when the state filled a gap in the facility’s operational funds. The state gave the home $2 million in support from the General Fund in each of the last fiscal years, according to Veterans’ Home administrator Melissa Jackson.Jim Reardon, commissioner of the Department of Finance and Management, estimates that the home would need about $1 million next year if its current staff-to-patient ratio is maintained.That trend can’t continue, lawmakers told administration officials.The Vermont Veterans’ Home in Bennington. VTD Staff photoOverstaffing is a hard sell especially when the state is looking at an estimated $100 million budget gap (link is external)for fiscal year 2016. The same day, Gov. Peter Shumlin acknowledged that Vermont is struggling with a structural budget deficit(link is external).Reardon, joined by Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding, presented the Joint Fiscal Committee with an overview of the home’s long-term financing picture and previewed a related report, due Monday.Their focus is marked by a change of direction in a conversation that’s continued for more than a year.Previously, efforts were geared toward increasing the number of veterans, veterans’ spouses and veterans’ parents at the home. (All are eligible for residency at the home, which is not open to the general population.) A marketing director was hired in October 2013 to help raise the facility’s profile and drive up the patient count. Jackson said his efforts have paid off.“Our census could be substantially worse than it is now,” Jackson said, considering that 52 patients have passed away since January of this year.Most of their efforts are shoe-leather, she said: staying in touch with hospitals, keeping brochures stocked, and hosting on-site events to get the community more involved and aware of what’s there.The Veterans’ Home board of trustees pitched in $40,000 to pay for development of a comprehensive marketing plan; the plan suggests a total expenditure of $250,000 on marketing efforts.Spaulding said Wednesday that he’s not convinced it’s worth that much money. “I have some questions,” he told the Joint Fiscal Committee.Jackson said that the plan is made up of discrete parts that can be carried out separately. That work will continue as the Home’s budget allows, she said, and the plan may never be completely implemented.A changing clienteleConversation turned instead toward aligning Veterans’ Home staffing levels to realistic census counts, and making good use of whatever space is left over. The empty beds don’t necessarily reflect a diminished need for care among veterans, Reardon said, but a change in how care is delivered.Jim Reardon, commissioner of the Department of Finance and ManagementReardon said that, historically, veterans coming to Bennington were younger than a typical nursing home residents. But that dynamic is shifting toward use as an end-of-life alternative, Reardon said, partly because of the state’s efforts to promote more cost-effective home- and community-based care options.“That’s working, and that’s having an effect on the Veterans’ Home.”Spaulding suggested that, marketing or no, demand for beds might not go up. “We’re hoping to reduce the requirement of state support by having a right-sized nursing home,” he said.There’s been some talk of finding alternative revenue sources to keep current staffing levels funded. Several committee members scoffed when Spaulding said some veterans’ groups have suggested creating a “veteran-centric lottery game,” or direct proceeds from break-open ticket sales to the Veterans’ Home.“None of (the options) are very palatable,” Spaulding said. “On the other hand, people in this building (the Statehouse) … have some severe heavy-lifting to do, and there are going to be no popular options.”Reardon, who used to serve on the Veterans’ Home board of trustees, said previous administrations had considered closing the non-nursing home portion of the facility, where about 10 people now live who don’t require intense medical care.“I pushed back hard on that, because that specific population are … people that otherwise would fall through the cracks and more than likely be homeless,” Reardon said. “So I wouldn’t in any form or fashion advocate… that we would preclude them from receiving those services.”The option of recruiting veterans from Massachusetts to Bennington was not well received south of the border, Spaulding and Reardon said. And an idea to recruit retired veterans back to Vermont from places like Florida is a non-starter because it would increase enrollments in the state’s Medicaid program, which faces funding problems of its own. The potential to find efficiencies by working with The Shires, a nonprofit housing development for low-income residents in Bennington, also is complicated by the different populations served by the two facilities.Local concernsSen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, suggested the possibility of moving Bennington’s VA clinic, now downtown, back to the Veterans’ Home.But the main option that emerged Wednesday is the one Sears resisted most vehemently: staffing cuts.“Those are 218 jobs in Bennington County that are hugely important to our local economy,” Sears said. He said if staffing changes are considered, he does not want to see the facility slip back to a time when the home struggled with callouts, sick days and paying people who are not working.“Neither do I,” Reardon said. But that issue might be better discussed in terms of what’s appropriate for union contracts at the Veterans’ Home compared to a place like the Department of Children and Families, he said.“I don’t want to lose jobs neither (sic). But at the same time, I have a responsibility to the taxpayers of VT, which is if there’s not the work, I shouldn’t be subsidizing the home with jobs that aren’t necessary.”The committee also discussed the option of downsizing the facility’s licensed capacity, then converting empty beds to private suites for use by the general population.Jackson declined to comment on the long-term business plan proposal before it’s made public Monday, but she emphasized the importance of keeping the Veterans’ Home viable.“We take care of veterans, which makes us special,” Jackson said. “That being said, if we cannot run this like a business, we will not be here down the road.”last_img read more

NRC approves upcoming round of 75 job cuts at Vermont Yankee

first_imgby Mike Faher/The Commons(link is external) Entergy has filed official notice of the next round of layoffs at Vermont Yankee, telling state and local officials that 97 positions will be cut at the Vernon nuclear plant on May 5. That’s a smaller number than the 150 layoffs that initially had been estimated. But a spokesman said that’s only because employees have been leaving the plant, so overall staffing levels are lower than had been anticipated. After the May layoffs, administrators expect there to be roughly 150 staffers remaining at Vermont Yankee, which stopped producing power at the end of 2014.The staff cuts are related to upcoming emergency-planning changes at the plant. In December, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission agreed to amend Entergy’s license to allow a drastic downsizing of Vermont Yankee’s emergency operations.The change takes effect in April and allows Yankee’s emergency planning zone — which now covers all or part of 18 towns in three states — to shrink to the boundaries of the plant itself. It also allows Entergy to slash its workforce and maintain a much smaller emergency response organization.Vermont officials have opposed the change, citing the continued presence of radioactive spent nuclear fuel on site. But the NRC asserted that “the risk of an offsite radiological release is significantly lower and the types of possible accidents significantly fewer at a nuclear power reactor that has permanently ceased operations.”Of the 97 employees expected to be affected by the May 5 layoffs, Entergy’s notice said 38 reside in Vermont, while 34 live in New Hampshire and 25 in Massachusetts.It will be the latest job cuts at Vermont Yankee, which had been one of Windham County’s largest employers. When Entergy announced its plan to close the plant in summer 2013, there were about 625 employees.That workforce had decreased to 554 at the time of shutdown in December 2014. The following month, the first round of layoffs shrunk Vermont Yankee’s staff to 316.As of the beginning of March, a spokesman said plant employment stood at 243.commonsnews.org(link is external)last_img read more

New solar financing program offered in Vermont by AllEarth

first_imgVermont Business Magazine AllEarth Renewables, a Vermont-based solar tracker manufacturer, has announced a new program for Vermont homeowners, small businesses, and non-profits to go solar and pay less than their utility power costs. The new program will allow Vermonters to go solar for just $1,000, which can be applied to purchasing the solar system after 5 years. Customers will pay a monthly power purchase agreement for their system which will be set at less than the current benefit they will receive for their solar, yielding immediate electric bill savings.This financing option is unique in Vermont, will be offered for limited time while the financing is available, and will utilize the company’s Vermont-made, ground-mounted dual-axis solar tracker. A Vermont-made solar tracker at a home in Waterbury. AllEarth photo.AllEarth’s local Vermont dealer partners(link is external) around the state will sell and install the systems for customers.”We are excited to be able to offer Vermonters a low-cost way to reap the long term benefits of going solar,” said David Blittersdorf, president and CEO of AllEarth Renewables. “This program expands solar access to Vermont homes, businesses, and non-profits who want to save money immediately and use locally produced, renewable energy.”In addition to providing solar to hundreds of Vermonters, AllEarth has supplied solar to dozens of non-profits and businesses across the state, including the University of Vermont, Vermont Technical College, the State of Vermont, Middlebury College, Starksboro Elementary, Merchants Bank, Champlain Orchards, Vermont Smoke and Cure, Woodchuck Hard Cider, Woodstock Aqueduct Company, Craftsbury Outdoor Center, and Sojourns Health Clinic, among dozens of other clean energy customers.RECs from the installations are not sold.More than 4,000 of the AllEarth’s trackers are operational throughout the United States. The dual-axis solar tracker(link is external) uses innovative GPS and wireless technology to follow the sun throughout the day, producing up to 45 percent more energy than rooftop solar. AllEarth Renewables is a past Inc. 500 company for fastest growing private companies nationwide and is a five-time “Best Places to Work” in Vermont award winner.More information on the new program can be found at: allearthrenewables.com/ppa-program(link is external)About All Earth RenewablesAllEarth Renewables, headquartered in Williston, Vt., manufactures the AllEarth Solar Tracker, a dual-axis solar tracker(link is external) that uses innovative GPS and wireless technology to follow the sun throughout the day, producing up to 45 percent more energy than rooftop solar.  The company has manufactured and installed over 4,000 solar tracker systems to date.  Among its product awards, the dual axis tracker was named a “Top-10 Green Product” by BuildingGreen magazine and “Top Product of the Year” by Solar Power World. The company’s ground-mounted, pre-engineered solar trackers are designed for residential and commercial-scale installations and available throughout the United States through local and regional solar dealers.  For more, visit www.allearthrenewables.com(link is external)WILLISTON, Vt. May 10, 2016 . AllEarth Renewableslast_img read more

Unused medication drop box now available at Copley Hospital

first_imgCopley Health Systems,Vermont Business Magazine Community members have an additional location to drop off unused and unwanted prescription medications year-round. Copley Hospital has installed a secure prescription medication drop box in the main hallway outside of the Laboratory Check-in.  Secure prescription medication drop boxes are also located in the Lamoille County Sheriff’s office, in the Morristown Police Department, and in the Hardwick Police Department.This secure drop box location in Copley Hospital gives Vermonters a convenient and safe way to remove these “dangerous leftovers” from their homes. The service is made possible through an agreement with the Vermont Department of Health in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and in collaboration with Healthy Lamoille Valley.Meg Morris, RPh, Copley Hospital’s Director of Pharmacy with Sheriff Roger Marcoux, Copley CEO Art Mathisen and Chief Medical Officer Donald Dupuis, MD, flank the area’s newest prescription medication drop off box for unused or expired medications. It’s located at Copley Hospital, in the hallway before the Laboratory’s Check-In window.“Installing this Prescription Medication Drop Box is the right thing to do to improve the health and welfare of our community,” said Art Mathisen, CEO of Copley Hospital. “The Drop Box is a convenient and easy way for community residents to safely dispose of unwanted or expired prescription medications. We are proud to join with the Sheriff’s office, local law enforcement, Healthy Lamoille Valley, area providers, social service agencies and the State of Vermont as we all work to help reduce substance abuse.”Copley Hospital’s Drop Box accepts prescription, over-the-counter, and pet medication in any form from households. This includes: pills & capsules, blister packs, creams & gels, inhalers, patches, powders, and sprays. Please –  no needles, syringes, lancets or thermometers and no medications from businesses.Drop off is anonymous – no ID is required. Copley’s Prescription Medication Drop Box isaccessible during normal business hours. It is located in the main corridor just before the Laboratory Check-in window.Before dropping of any medications, please prepare them by crossing your name off the container and putting all of the containers together in a sealed clear plastic bag (such as a Ziplock bag). If you don’t have the original container, please place the medications in a sealed clear plastic bag and label it with the name of the medication.In addition to the Prescription Medication Drop Box program, the Vermont Health Department has introduced mail-back envelopes for safe and secure drug disposal. Consumers can use these envelopes at home to safely and securely mail in expired and unused prescription medications. Envelopes for this program are available at Mansfield Orthopaedics in Morrisville.Learn more about drug safety at healthylamoillevalley.org/prescription-drugs(link is external) and at healthvermont.gov/alcohol-drugs/services/prescription-drug-disposal(link is external).Source: Morrisville – Copleylast_img read more

Leahy urges Graham not to conduct SCOTUS hearings without COVID procedures

first_imgWarn That Hearings Could Otherwise Become Virus Super-SpreaderVermont Business Magazine Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) Friday pressed Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) not to proceed with Supreme Court confirmation hearings next week unless stringent COVID-19 testing procedures are implemented immediately.  Pointing out that two Judiciary Committee members have tested positive for COVID-19 and others have thus far refused to be tested, the senators told Graham that without testing procedures in place, the hearings could threaten the safety and health of all who attend in person.The senators wrote:  “In the wake of news that Senators Lee and Tillis tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the White House event announcing Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, Judiciary Committee Democrats asked that you postpone her confirmation hearings to ensure that we don’t risk the health and safety of fellow Senators, Senate staff, other Senate employees, as well as Judge Barrett and her family.  To date, we understand that you plan to proceed with these hearings on October 12, 2020, despite the serious risks they present.  We urge you against unsafely moving forward with these hearings while no clear testing regime is in place to ensure that they do not become another super-spreader of this deadly virus.”The senators continued:  “Without these precautionary measures in place, Senators, Senate staff, press, Judge Barrett and her family will face a serious, unnecessary risk of contracting COVID-19.  We also have a moral responsibility to protect the workers who make it possible for us to do our jobs in the Senate each and every day. Absent these protocols, you are ignoring CDC best practices and may force Senators to participate in this hearing remotely which, for such a consequential hearing, would be entirely unprecedented. As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, your first and foremost obligation is to ensure the safety and well-being of Committee members and staff.  We urge you to honor that obligation in the days ahead.”Full text of the letter can be found here(link is external).Source: (FRIDAY, Oct. 9, 2020) – Senator Patrick Leahylast_img read more