FEMA Engineer to Come to Lyndon to Talk Flood Mitigation with Businesses
April 12, 2012
Broad Street businesses susceptible to flooding may soon have an audience with a FEMA
representative to discuss ways to mitigate
Dan Hill, the municipal administrator for the Town and Village, told the select board this week that Kerry
O'Brien, of the Caledonia County Conservation service, met with him recently "to discuss mitigation
work along the Passumpsic River and
our conversation drifted into helping out businesses along Broad
Street that are continually flooded during high water events."
"She feels that Richard Downer, who is an engineer (and) works for FEMA... would come to Lyndon and
hold a meeting with busine
ss people to talk about mitigation," said Hill.
Chairman Kermit Fisher and Selectman David Dill said they thought it was a good idea. Marty Feltus was
not in attendance.
Hill said the meeting would see the process of assisting businesses with flood mitig
ation ideas start out
"meeting either collectively at first, and then individually, primarily with the businesses up and down
Broad Street that are continually hit. There are mitigation steps that they can take that would greatly
reduce their exposure," he
In other business at Monday's meeting, the board reappointed Sherb Lang to the planning commission
until a replacement can be found, and thanked him for being willing to continue serving in the
The board also heard from Lorraine Matteis,
who volunteers to help run blood drives in the community
for the American Red Cross. She said last year a blood drive was moved at the last minute to the Lyndon
Municipal Building and it was very successful. She asked if two events could be planned in the
year in the municipal building, and the board agreed to the two dates. She said the location was better
for the drive than the VFW and the Red Cross wanted to move its November and June dates to the
The board approved a first cl
ass liquor license for The Wildflower Inn.
The board also learned that outgoing Town Clerk and Treasurer Lisa Barrett, who resigned recently but
will remain in the position for several weeks, is willing to stay on as the volunteer coordinator of the
Up committee this year.
BACK TO TOP
State hatchery recovers
April 12, 2012
By Andrew Nemethy
At historic Roxbury fish hatchery, hope springs anew
Jeremy Whalen saw 70,000 of his babies vanish last year in the span of a few hours.
Tom Wiggins saw an unexpected and
unpleasant ending to 27 years of work for the state.
The two men are human bookends to one of Tropical Storm Irene’s more unusual chapters: the day
when Irene turned the cold nurturing source of tiny Flint Brook into a broad rumbling beast of muddy
, gravel and boulders.
It devoured the sweetly manicured lawns and five ponds at the Roxbury Fish Hatchery, a historic site
that had stood for 121 years as Vermont’s first to rear fish. It swept aside and heaved up massive
concrete spillways that had with
stood decades of storms.
And it swept downstream most of the state’s 2012 crop of iconic native brook trout, whose spotted
sides, lovely pale orange flesh and cold
water habitat typify the best of Vermont angling.
It was a fish story that bested the wild
est tall tale.
Last week, in a moment of hope and some closure for two men who keenly feel their responsibilities in
Vermont’s fisheries, the state asked for bids to rebuild the Roxbury Hatchery, which is located in a
narrow valley along Route 12A about 1
7 miles south of Montpelier. If all goes according to plan, a
restructured and redesigned, flood
protected and handicap
accessible hatchery with sophisticated new
treatment equipment will be ready on the seven
acre site by December of 2013.
en and Wiggins, the day Irene struck, Aug. 28, won’t soon be forgotten.
Wiggin, Vermont’s fish culture operations chief, remembers the day because in just hours he
experienced a huge setback to his life’s work of building and maintaining the state’s five
upgrading their science and technology. Planning to retire this May, he has now found his last act is a
fevered effort to set in motion a restoration of the Roxbury site and its scenic fish
Whalen, the Roxbury supervisor and a
fish culture specialist, will long recall that day as a narrow escape.
He was paying close attention to the thrumming rain because of a past history of minor floods. With
water rising, he decided wisely to close up shop, getting out just before tumbling F
lint Brook, swollen by
3.5 inches of intense rain, overshot a dam and cut a new channel that roared past houses, hit railroad
tracks and turned south to rush right through the lush green lawns and meandering pools swarming
“I was expecting it
to be wiped out,” says Whalen, recalling how he returned by a circuitous ridge road
the next day to see what had happened. “But it was beyond what I imagined.”
The white clapboard main structure housing the fish fry was barely damaged, thanks to the lay o
land and a sturdy concrete foundation. But the grounds, the rearing ponds and a long concrete raceway
that housed up to 85,000 brook and rainbow trout, remain today as the storm had left them, looking like
a barren bouldered stream bed. A planting of
plastic flowers has been incongruously sunk in the gravel,
serving up some levity to brighten the devastation, Whalen says.
To this day, eight months after Irene, he is still pained talking about it.
“You put your heart and soul into doing this,” he say
s lowering his head, topped by a green Fish and
Wildlife Department ball cap. “It does hurt,” he says.
At another point, walking around the grounds, he says, “For me, it’s tough to see it like this every day.”
He can also joke, however, about the fact th
at this spring those 70,000 fish, which were up to seven
inches long, may make for some good fishing downstream, where Flint Brook drains into the Third
Branch of the White River. He also suspects there are some fat and happy heron, otter and other
es out there who got a dietary windfall.
“The Third Branch got pretty well stocked last year,” he jokes.
About 10,000 of his fish kids were salvaged after Irene and re
stocked around the state last fall because
there was no place in Roxbury to house them
Both Whalen and Wiggin point out that Roxbury faced floods in 1998 and 2006, but they were nothing
like last summer’s.
“Our buildings took the flood pretty well,” says Wiggin, but the total devastation of the outside rearing
units and grounds made it c
lear that the state needs to come up with a new design.
“It breaks your heart to see what happened to the old facility, but it’s like having an antique car and
having to depend on it,” says Wiggin.
On a day in early April, Flint Brook is a lovely cascade
of clear water that seems impossibly small to pose
much threat. But the brook, which funnels down off the 2,500 hundred
foot ridgeline of the Northfield
Range, drains a large watershed high up as it provides cold water for the trout, Whalen explains. An
ntake pipe at a small dam brings water to the hatchery, supplemented by well water, but the dam
channels the rest of the brook off at a problematic sharp right angle. When rain is torrential, the dam
simply isn’t up to the task of diverting the water and g
Irene went a step further, and the water just plain wiped out the dam.
“It just came down that mountain, and nothing was going to stop it,” Wiggin says. A temporary stone
embankment has replaced the dam, restoring the direction of the flo
w until a solution is devised.
While Wiggin says the damage was disheartening, he calls it an “opportunity” to bring Roxbury into the
21st century. The technology and science of fish rearing has changed substantially, he says, from the
feed that the fish
eat to the need to treat the water they live in (not unlike how sewage effluent is
treated) and to upgrade efforts to prevent diseases from infecting hatchery
“There’s a lot to it,” he explains.
Some of the repair costs, which he estimates w
ill be $1 million or more, will be picked up by the Federal
Emergency Management Agency and will include improvements to make the site handicap
with walkways and viewing platforms. The new outdoor complex will include netting to reduce
, which can gobble up 15
20 percent of the fish.
For now, Whalen and his staff of two are working on a tall stack of shallow trays where water cascades
through as they raise tiny salmon fry still with egg sacks, stocking some brookies raised at the federa
hatchery in Pittsford, and tending to the small rainbow and brook trout they are rearing inside in long
concrete troughs. The air smells slightly fishy in the cool, rectangular one
story building, but it’s an
environment Whalen appreciates..
“I love it,
” he says of his job. And he still misses all the piscine children he raised who vanished in one
sweep of nature’s violent hand.
“You feel part of it; you consider it like a farm where you’re raising livestock,” he says. “Then they’re
BACK TO TOP
Vermont Green Up expands for Irene
Burlington Free Press<
April 11, 2012
Written by Matt Sutkoski
In a scrubby grove of sumac trees off U.S 2 in Waterbury, dozens upon dozens of old
tires litter the ground. A few of the tires are hung up in tree branches. Inter
spersed within the tires are
other bits of debris: Rusting paint cans. A child’s swing. A 3
foot tall plastic Christmas candle with the
word “Noel” on it. A door with its glass window somehow intact.
All this debris was left behind when floodwaters rolled
through the Winooski River valley during Tropical
Storm Irene in August. Similar ugly messes, legacies of Irene, mar the scenery in river valleys throughout
It’s a big mess to clean up, much too much for just the annual Vermont Green Up Day in e
arly May. So
Green Up Day is morphing into a Green Up season of sorts. Gov. Peter Shumlin on Tuesday announced
Spring Clean Irene, a statewide effort to clear the tons of debris left from Irene. The effort will continue
through the spring, and likely into
the summer, he said.
To emphasize the point, Ernie Boch Jr., CEO of Boch Enterprises, which owns Subaru of New England,
donated $25,000 to the cause. He announced the donation on a driveway near the mess in the sumac
Shumlin said Spring Cl
ean Irene is an extension of the heroic efforts Vermonters have put in recovering
from the disastrous floods of Aug. 28.
“There’s never been a better example of how to put your best foot forward in a recovery from a
devastating storm,” Shumlin said.
n Up Day, the annual statewide volunteer effort to clean a winter’s worth of litter from roadsides,
will go on as scheduled May 5 this year. Plenty of other cleanup and service days are planned
throughout the spring.
For instance, an organization dedicate
d to helping Waterbury recover from Irene called ReBuild
Waterbury is seeking volunteers to attack the tires and other debris April 28.
Many of the tires could have come from a licensed junkyard just upstream from the debris field,
Waterbury Municipal Man
ager William Shepeluk said.
ReBuild Waterbury coordinator Lisa Scagliotti said volunteers will go into the sumac, put the tires and
other debris in one central pile near the junkyard, and a truck will take it away. She said anybody
wishing to help can go
to her organization’s Web site,
to register for the
cleanup, or any other volunteer cleanup in Waterbury this year.
Shumlin said ReBuild Waterbury’s effort is a good example of the s
pirit of Spring Clean Irene. “This won’t
be a single day, but an ongoing effort to clean up Vermont and leave it better than how Irene found it,”
Funding for disaster relief from last year’s flooding is also helping the unemployed. Vermont receiv
$3.2 million in federal money to put people to work cleaning up from floods of April, May and August of
last year, said Annie Noonan, Vermont Department of Labor Commissioner. About 50 unemployed
Vermonters were put to work on cleanup and repair from th
e floods, and there’s room for perhaps 100
to 150 more.
Noonan said the people who get the clean up jobs are paid the going rate for that profession. For
instance, an electrician hired to fix the wiring in a flood damaged building would be paid about the
as any electrician would.
Boch had previously donated $100,000 toward Vermont’s Irene recovery effort. He said he did so
because he has an affinity for the state, having lived part
time in Vermont.
Sue Minter, Shumlin’s point person on Vermont’s rec
overy from Irene, said there are still plenty of
projects to complete to make Vermont whole again after the storm. “Vermonters still really do need our
help,” she said.
BACK TO TOP
Renewed Irene cleanup effort in Vt. creates jobs
Disaster repairs also r
equire more volunteers
April 12, 2012
"Everything was turned upside down," Lisa Scagliotti sighed as she looked at a field of
junk in Waterbury, Vt. "Look at the tire in the trees!"
ot of debris is still sitting near the banks of the Winooski River in Waterbury, Vt. more than seven
months after the rushing, swollen river plucked it from properties in the water's path and washed it
ashore during Tropical Storm Irene. Downtown Waterbury
was the picture of resilience in the flood's
aftermath, with hundreds of volunteers descending on ruined properties to fix them up.
Scagliotti now hopes more strong backs will turn out to take away hundreds of old tires and other trash
marring the landsc
ape in the rest of Waterbury. "They need to go," Scagliotti said of the tires.
"There's no question we've come a long way," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D
Vt. "And there's no question
we have a lot more distance to travel."
Shumlin announced Tuesday that the
wide cleanup project known as Green Up Day,
happening this year on May 5th, will target trash Irene left behind. Scenes like the trashed location in
Waterbury are repeated in several other towns hard
hit by Irene, Shumlin said.
Subaru of New
England gave $25,000 to the non
profit Green Up Day organization to fund dumpsters
away fees. "And I encourage all businesses, if you can, please help Green Up," said Ernie Boch
Jr., the CEO of a major network of New England car dealerships.
er businesses have joined in the recovery effort. "Vermont Business Magazine" ran free ads, Ben &
Jerry's ice cream sent out coupons urging support, Casella Waste Systems promoted the event in billing
notices, and the Jay Peak Resort is encouraging people
to participate, too, according to a news release
from Shumlin's office. The Vt. Grocers Association is also recruiting volunteers statewide, the release
The disaster has also created some job opportunities. Towns and non
profits with Irene
or cleanup projects are hiring unemployed Vermonters to do the work. Those tasks may include
restoration of parks and ball fields, and rebuilding or re
wiring of municipal buildings. The state got $3.2
million in U.S. Labor Dept. grants to hire thos
e workers. Right now, Vt. Labor Commissioner Annie
Noonan estimated, there are at least 100
150 jobs available.
Those jobs are temporary but pay good wages, Noonan said. The labor commissioner noted that they
are attracting a lot of applicants. Click here
for more information on the positions.
Those temporary workers and a renewed effort at finding volunteers have many hoping that Vermont
will eventually look even better than it did before Irene tore through last August. "I think we just want to
put it ba
ck together," Scagliotti said.
Click here for more information on how you can help clean up Vermont on Green Up Day and beyond.
BACK TO TOP
Vt.'s annual 'Green Up Day targets storm debris
April 5, 2012
Vermont's annual Green Up Day is taking
on an extra challenge this year.
The annual spring cleaning ritual has drawn thousands of Vermonters to road sides and stream banks
over the years. The 2012 edition, taking place May 5, is expected to involve some extra work, due to
debris left by the flo
oding from Tropical Storm Irene.
Green Up organizers are working with local long
term recovery committees to coordinate efforts and
focus on areas that still need cleanup from Irene.
Businesses are stepping forward as well, with Boch Enterprises donating
$25,000 to help pay for trash
bins to haul away the extra refuse.
In Waterbury, spring cleaning starts a week early, with an April 28 event devoted to cleaning up
hundreds of tires left in a wooded area by flooding.
BACK TO TOP
Waterbury kicks off Gree
April 12, 2012
Kristen Fountain Waterbury Record
The “rubber orchard” off of Route 2 in Waterbury was the backdrop to the statewide launch of this
year’s Green Up Day.
“As you see behind us, we have a lot more work to do as we clean up from Irene,” Governor Peter
in said during a press conference Tuesday afternoon. “If anyone is looking for used tires, we’ve got
Flooding on August 28 during Tropical Storm Irene left hundreds of tires scattered throughout roughly
an acre of trees along the banks of the Winoo
ski River, just past the confluence with the Little River.
There are car tires, tractor tires, ATV tires; tires piled up in gullies; tires lying as if stacked on top of one
another; tires lodged upright between trees and hanging off branches. Town official
s have not been able
to prove where the tires came from, although a junkyard just upstream is one likely source.
Green Up Day, the annual community cleanup, starts statewide on May 5, but the event is being
expanded this year to encompass a range of flood
response activities in Waterbury, which start this
ReBuild Waterbury is sponsoring “Spring Clean Irene” starting this Saturday every day through Green Up
Day. The project will match volunteers with property owners in Waterbury, Duxbury, North Mo
and East Bolton affected by the flooding. The hope is that volunteers can aid with garden raking, lawn
repair and silt removal, said Waterbury Green Up coordinator Lisa Scagliotti. Volunteers will meet at St.
Leo’s Hall behind St. Andrew’s Church at
109 South Main Street.
The group is also organizing volunteers to remove the tires from the forest the following Saturday, April
28. Junkyard owners Clem and Donna Despault are aiding the effort by allowing volunteer crews to
gather on their property and
to store the tires there temporarily until they can be picked up for
People can sign up to volunteer to work at the “rubber orchard” and to help neighbors on other days at
. If yo
u have a project that you would like help with, contact ReBuild Volunteer
Coordinator Mame McKee at 839
6000 or mame.rebuildwaterbury @gmail.com.
Green Up to Recover
The “Green Up to Recover” initiative is a parallel statewide effort to mobilize voluntee
rs, Shumlin said
The initiative is being aided by a $25,000 gift to Green Up Vermont from Ernie Boch, the president and
CEO of Suburu of New England, based in Newtown, Mass. The funds will pay for additional Dumpsters
and trash bags to handle the
extra debris expected this year.
“Without that donation, we at Green Up Vermont could not help to the extent that we are now able to
help,” said Melinda Vieux, president of Green Up Vermont.
Boch, who was also at the press conference, said he was please
d to help a state that he visits frequently
and where the Suburu Outback is the unofficial car. More Vermonters drive Suburus per capita than
anywhere else in the world, he said.
“I believe in Vermont. I love Vermont,” said Boch. His company is a family b
usiness that distributes the
brand to 63 dealerships throughout the region.
Although the storm may be in the “rearview mirror” for many in Vermont, “for those people in impacted
communities like this one, Irene is a daily reality, a daily challenge,” said
Sue Minter, the state’s Irene
Recovery Officer and a Waterbury resident.
People interested in volunteering should check the website of the organization, SerVermont, as well as
“If your own community isn’t in need of you on May 5th, search for other places where you are
needed,” Minter said.
BACK TO TOP
Gov. Shumlin announces Green Up to Recover Initiative
April 11, 2012
by Press Release
April 11, 2012
Special Assistant to the Governor
Gov. Peter Shumlin was joined today by Green Up Vermont officials to announce the
Green Up to Recover Initiative to renew volunteer efforts t
o help the state recover from the damage left
by Tropical Storm Irene, being kicked off on Green Up Day. This year the annual clean
scheduled for May 5 will target the increased trash left by Irene’s floodwaters as well as other recovery
in hard hit areas. In addition, the Governor announced the generous $25,000 donation from
Ernie Boch Jr., CEO of Boch Enterprises, to help with Green Up to Recover efforts across the state.
“I want to thank Ernie for this donation
his second contributio
n toward Irene
recovery efforts in recent
which will help defray the costs of disposal for the additional trash we expect to be collected
this year,” Gov. Shumlin said, standing with Boch at a news conference at the site of an Irene
p site in Waterbury. “I hope other businesses will also step forward to contribute to the cleanup
and recovery effort. There is still a great need out there for assistance in the wake of the August storm.”
“It is my honor to be here today in Waterbury to
join forces again with the great State of Vermont in its
“Green Up to Recover” effort,” said Boch. “On behalf of Subaru of New England, I am inspired and proud
of the ‘Vermont Strong’ spirit I have witnessed over these last several months. I strongly encou
Vermonters on “Green Up Day” to volunteer in their communities to clean up litter from roadsides and
public places, for the community of Vermont on Saturday, May 5th.”
Other businesses that have agreed to assist with Green Up to Recover include V
Magazine, which ran a free advertisement to promote the event, Ben & Jerry’s, which sent out 10,000
coupon offers, Casella, which promoted the event website in its bill notices, Jay Peak Resort, which is
involved in community participation
in Green Up to Recover, and the Vermont Grocers Association,
which will help recruit volunteers in communities across the state.
The Governor’s announcements today included:
The Green Up Day and Irene Connection. The State Irene Recovery Office has partn
ered with Green Up
Vermont to incorporate Irene recovery activities into Green Up Day, creating the Green Up to Recover
initiative. Green Up town coordinators in hard hit areas are working with Long Term Recovery
Committees that were formed to help displac
ed Vermonters get back into their homes and town
officials to identify hot spots of trash and debris from the flooding that still need to be cleaned up, as
well as other needs related to the recovery, including yard work and plantings for flooded propertie
Green Up Vermont is using the gift from Ernie Boch to pay for dumpsters and defray other cleanup
Continuing Volunteer Effort. SerVermont is providing the opportunity for Vermonters to extend the
Green Up Day spirit throughout the spring and summ
er by serving as the central clearinghouse to match
recovery projects with interested volunteers throughout the state. They are establishing a website on
which recovery projects being organized by local organizations will be listed, and where people who
nt to help can sign up to volunteer. Until they get their own system up and running, United Way of
Chittenden County, which uses similar software, is providing a space on their website. In addition,
SerVermont will be able to link affiliated volunteer grou
ps from outside Vermont, such as church based
relief organizations, with recovery projects.
Department of Labor “putting Vermonters back to work” initiative. Through a grant from the federal
Department of Labor, in coordination with FEMA, the state Labor
Department is paying unemployed
Vermonters to work on recovery projects hosted by public entities and nonprofit organizations. Grants
have already been awarded to various towns for work on recreation facilities, to an organization called
Project Rozalia to
field four crews of six workers to clean flood related trash from waterways and parks
around the state, and to many other organizations including Food Works, Vermont Department of
Forest and Parks, and the Green Mountain National Forest.
Clean up plans f
or this site on Route 2 in Waterbury: The hundreds of tires deposited in the wooded
area adjacent to the press conference are an example of the extra clean up needs caused by Irene.
Waterbury town Green Up coordinator, Lisa Scagliotti is working with other
community leaders to
organize a large group of able
bodied volunteers to gather all of these tires for proper disposal on April
28. Also, in Waterbury and the surrounding communities, ReBuild Waterbury organizers are planning to
focus volunteer cleanup he
lp in the neighborhoods that were flooded. They are calling this effort “Spring
Clean Irene.” The goal is to match teams of volunteers with homeowners who would like their yards
raked, gardens cleaned out, adjoiningriver/brook banks groomed, etc. They will
be identifying specific
projects of lawn repair and silt removal to be addressed in the following weeks. The plan is to begin this
Saturday, April 14, and continue every day except Sundays up until Green Up Day.
BACK TO TOP
Letters to the Editor: State
hospital museum interesting proposal
April 11, 2012
In response to the letter in the Free Press of April 1, “Consider museum at state hospital site” by David
Hutchinson, I think it’s
an original and interesting idea. Who really knows what went on there through
the decades of its operation as Vermont’s state hospital? All I know is that if you were crazy (“insane” by
legal definition) you were ordered by the court to be committed to “W
aterbury.” We also knew that the
commissioner of SRS (social services) was housed there. Other than that, we southern Vermonters
didn’t know anything about the place.
The big issue here is that the hospital failed inspections and then flooded. Repairing i
t on the same flood
plain is a bad idea. Creating a new hospital with modern and humane care for the patients elsewhere,
and community mental health placements for the patients are a better ideas. Bringing the patients back
to that place is not a sound pla
n for their mental health.
BACK TO TOP
New York Will Pay Local Flood Costs
Fox 44 News<
April 11, 2012
By Jenny Day
Some good news tonight for towns and cities in New York's North Country still struggling to
recover from Irene.
Governor Andrew Cuomo says the state will pick up the tab...not covered by th
e federal government.
million dollars will go to 25 New York counties to relieve local costs from last years storms.
At the base of the Adirondaks, the tiny town of Keene still shows signs of a historic storm...eight months
later. Siding hasn't been re
placed and parts of the fire department's roof are still imbedded in rocks.
Looking at the low water levels, it's hard to imagine, but residents say that when Irene hit, water was
splashing well over the East Branch Ausable River Bridge.
"It destroyed bui
ldings and it turned everything upside down, there was mud everywhere, we had lost
animals, everywhere you looked was devastation," said Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo.
But help to repair that damage is on the way and it won't cost towns and cities a di
me. FEMA will pay for
percent of the damage, and the state will pay the rest. "That could save us $120,000 give or take. Any
time we can save our constituents and our tax payers money, it's great news," Keen Town Supervisor,
Bill Ferebee said.
e is able to cover those costs through money lawmakers set aside last fall. "We cobbled together
some state funds, cobbled together some federal funds, and we came up with 60
millions dollars," Gov.
More importantly, that money will enable cas
strapped communities to begin recovery efforts
"We have a small bridge culvert to replace, we have a large project behind our town hall, of about 300
feet of a retainer wall that was washed away. Without a doubt, we will get together... it'
s just gonna
take some time," Ferebee added.
BACK TO TOP
Cuomo says state to cover more flood costs
April 11, 2012
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state will cover more local costs for recovery from the
storms that flooded parts of New York last summer.
His office says the state will make $61 million
available to 25 counties to help pay for emergency shelter
as well as road, water system and other infrastructure repair and clean
up projects that followed
tropical storms Irene and Lee.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency usually covers 75% of elig
ible costs with the state and
localities paying the rest.
Cuomo is visiting Middleburgh in hard
hit Schoharie County on Wednesday to say the state will pick up
the local share for most eligible expenses.
He says that will involve money put in place by th
e Legislature and requested from the federal
BACK TO TOP
'Vermont Strong' sales strong
The Manchester Journal<
April 11, 2012
Brandon Canevari staff writer
Stores that have had them available for sale have barely been able to keep them on the
shelves. Other stores have sold out and have back orders
if and when they get another shipment. Since
their release, the "I Am Vermont Strong" license plates have been in high demand according to state
officials and store managers alike.
"It's been very heavy," said Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Mo
tor Vehicles, Robert Ide.
"We have sold some that we know are going to be resold. So, we're not sure exactly how to count them,
but we're above 25,000."
Among the stores that have purchased some plates for resale are Hannaford's, Price Chopper, and
Supermarket stores throughout the state, Ide said.
In a telephone interview on Monday, store director of Shaw's Supermarket, Scott Dickie, said in about
the three weeks since they received the plates they had sold 40 and only three remained in stock.
w's had brought in 100 plates, but he said that several had been sent to their locations in Fair Haven
and Poultney. Dickie said they were waiting to hear from those other stores before they decided
whether or not to order more.
Maplefield's in Manchester
received 25 plates sometime between the last week in January and the first
week of February. Within five to six weeks Maplefield's had sold out of the plates and has at least
another dozen reserved if they get another shipment in, according to store manag
er Linda Dittmeier.
"Everyone we've talked to we've told them to check back," Dittmeier said. "We didn't have them here
very long once people knew we had them."
The money from the sale of the plates
which cost $25 each
is divided in three ways, accor
ding to Ide.
Eighteen dollars from every sale goes to the Irene Recovery Effort, $2 goes to the Vermont Food Bank
and $5 goes to the Department of Motor Vehicles for manufacturing and support costs.
Currently, about $100,000 has been received from the sal
e of the plates and the first disbursement of
funds is expected to be made in the next 15 days, Ide said in a telephone interview on Monday.
According to Chris Graff, a board member of the Vermont Long
Term Disaster Recovery Group, which
oversees the Verm
ont Disaster Relief Fund, all the money will be used to help individuals.
"We have to raise a ton of money. We have roughly now about $3.2 million dollars. We're counting on
$1 million dollars to come from the sale of 'I Am Vermont Strong' license plates,
" Graff said. "We think
to meet the unmet needs of Vermonters we need about $10 million. So we have a fund
raising goal. We
need to raise $5 or $6 million more to meet the needs of the individual Vermonters who had their lives
interrupted by Irene."
the group has a better understanding of what the unmet need of Vermonters is, Graff said
individual grants will not exceed $20,000. However, he said that may change in the future.
Ide said that the plates will continue to be manufactured as long as the t
here is a need for them and that
3,000 plates could be produced in a week's time.
"We know we're going to make more plates," Ide said. "We can make plates at a moment's notice and
we will. This program has another year and a half to run and we plan to con
tinue make plates until
Ide said that plates could stay on a person's car until June 30, 2014.
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Local rivers: changed but safe to recreate
April 11, 2012
By Nathan Allen
For many, the start of Vermont's trout season signifies the beginning of a season when we can s
enjoying our streams and rivers again. With the drastic changes to many of our local waterways, rumors
have been circulating that some favorite spring and summer water holes might be dangerous or
impossible to navigate.
With the start of tro
ut season, April 14, many are wondering if their favorite fishing spot will still be
fruitful. In surveys conducted by the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife it was estimated that
about half of the state's trout population did not survive Tropical Sto
rm Irene. Fish instinctively move
away from water that is increasing in velocity, either by staying at the bottom of the river or moving
behind an obstruction like a tree or boulder. This was not possible in many cases and as a last resort
many fish moved
into the floodplains and got stranded when the waters receded.
hatchery in Roxbury was all but destroyed and an estimated 80,000 trout were lost. These were fish that
were scheduled to be stocked in Vermont this year.
to data collected by the state of Vermont, fish populations have bounced back
quickly after similar flooding events. Irene flooding was exceptional but fish have evolved to deal with
natural disruptions to their habitats. Unfortunately, some of the "chann
elization" that homogenizes the
river and makes it straight and featureless is bad for fish recovery. Fish need the overhanging trees for
shade, the deep pools and boulders to escape predators. Many species of fish feed primarily on the
bottom of rivers an
d streams and the increased silt and disturbed gravel beds will make it difficult for
them to find a suitable habitat in the short term.
It's not all bad news though, the warm end to winter and low water levels should make opening day for
trout fishing en
joyable even if you do have to find a new favorite spot.
Fred Wall is the owner of Vermont River Tubing (a.k.a. the Stockbridge Yacht Club to locals.) The Walls
have been tubing down the nearby White River for decades and nobody knows the local st
The company has earned a trusted reputation for safety and knowledge. Fred Wall says he won't let
customers out on the river if it's not safe.
Therefore, Wall has been inspecting his stretch of the White River very carefully to make sure his
have a safe and enjoyable float this summer. He admits that the damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene
has changed the character of the river and some of the riverbank scenery. It might not be as picturesque
this year, but it will be safe and naviga
ble. They already have reservations and are anticipating a busy
The changed character of the local rivers is of concern to other river travelers as well. Peter
Kavouksorian owns Mountain Travelers, an outdoor sports store in Rutland spec
ializing in telemark skis
in the winter and kayaks in the summer. Peter and other paddlers are concerned about the changed
character of the rivers. The unprecedented volume of water that rushed through the state dislodged
trees, debris, boulders and change
d riverbeds. Heavy equipment mined gravel out of the rivers and
streams for public and private infrastructure. Many rivers and tributaries have been "channelized."
Kavouksorian explained that these changes to the waterways might eliminate rapids in some pl
make other routes impassable. "A river that is twice as wide and half as deep as normal might not be
doable," he says.
The whitewater season is usually in early spring when mountain runoff can be expected to raise river
levels. Lack of snow this y
ear, a heat wave in March, and a very dry early spring may compound
problems for whitewater enthusiasts. Experts advise everyone to take extra precautions when scouting
your canoe or kayak route this year.
If you prefer to enjoy the local rivers
and streams with nothing but a bathing suit and a towel, you might
find that your local swimming hole has also changed. Swimming holes that have been the same for
generations may now have debris, trees, or boulders lurking below the surface. It is very im
'look before you leap' this year
the old saying has never been more pertinent!
The water is perfectly safe to swim in, though. You may have heard about a spike in E. Coli levels right
after the storm but The White River Partnership along with
the EPA and USDA have confirmed that
levels returned to normal almost immediately. As early as one month after Irene there was no water
tested in Vermont that exceeded the EPA's allowed levels of harmful bacteria.
In time, Vermont's rivers w
ill restore themselves to normalcy. Features like boulders that are good for
kayaking and tubing will slowly be brought downstream during high water periods. Gravel and silt will be
washed downstream and riverbanks will become less rocky over time. And fis
h populations will rebound
like they always do when their habitats are normalized. All this might take a decade or more though, and
letting nature take its course presents risks as well.
Jim Ryan works as a river scientist with the State of Vermont and he
has been working on a restoration
project for the Tweed River in Pittsfield. He sees the importance of returning the river to functionality
not just for recreation and fish habitat but for the prevention of future flooding. The prevailing wisdom
t has been to remove gravel out of riverbeds in order to make them more uniform while
channeling them away from private property and public infrastructure. Ryan says this thinking is
mistaken and the practice destroys aquatic habitat and makes the river mo
re dangerous in future floods.
In the case of the Tweed River near Colton's Mill in Pittsfield, the Storm and the dredging that followed
caused some significant changes. The river was twice as wide and half as deep as it was pre
Irene and it
had lost some
of its bends. The straightening causes a greater slope and therefore greater water
velocity. Jim Ryan his team were able to restore the Tweed and undo some of the damage caused by the
emergency work in the days after the storm.
"What I saw there, that fi
rst day, was an ugly thing
I remember thinking, 'How can someone do
something like this to a river, even though it wasn't done in malice?'
but what came out of it I hope can
be a model," he said.
The channel cut by the river itself after the flooding
was filled in. The ditch that was excavated would
disappear as well.
Studying the topography of the area as well as historical river data allowed Ryan and
his team to apply mathematical formulas to create bends in the river. One bend now moves against
ovable ledges that might create a fishing hole and another uses tree roots to slow down the force of
the water. Part of the 150 foot wide rocky bed left after Irene will remain a flood plain to provide a relief
valve for future high water events like snow
"The idea is you don't want to fight to create a river channel that the forces of nature will constantly
work against," says Shayne Jaquith, the state's river restoration scientist. The project was a unique
collaboration between landowners, state an
d town agencies. Those responsible for the damage and
those with a keen interest in the river's future came together to allow the Tweed to be safe and
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Warren covered bridge to be lifted, abutment widened
April 12, 2012
The Warren covered bridge will be raised up and the western abutment moved six feet further to the
west, thanks to a Vermont Transportation Enhancement Grant.
The western abutment was scoured and damaged during Tropical Storm Irene and during the fl
1998. The new alignment will allow more water to flow through that pinch point during flood events.
The grant is $300,000, which is 80 percent of the cost of the project. The remaining 20 percent, or
$75,000, will come from town funds.
“A couple w
eeks after the grant application was submitted, Irene floodwaters overwhelmed the very
abutment that is intended to be replaced, almost washing it away. Completion of this grant
project will sustain for Warren one of its historic treasures, the Wa
rren covered bridge, in a condition far
better able to withstand the ravages of future flood events and the incessant deterioration of wood rot
and decay,” explained Warren Department of Public Works spokesperson Barry Simpson.
The Warren project entails
the design, permitting and reconstruction of the crumbling western
abutment by raising the bridge and constructing a new abutment located about six feet further west,
thereby substantially increasing the floodway.
The new western abutment will also incorp
orate a ramp leading down to the riverbed that will afford
access to the river for construction vehicles as the need arises for future work on the bridge itself or on
nearby retaining walls or the timber crib dam just downstream. The ramp will also give ac
cess by foot to
the river as a recreational amenity for swimming, fishing and picnicking pursuits.
When the construction of the new abutment and associated ramp is complete, the bridge will be set
back down in a level position on its new footings, and the
roadway leading to both openings will be
revised to meet the new conditions. There is an allowance in the proposal to replace the cedar shingle
roof and provide new wooden guardrails at both approaches.
“With the proposed river access ramp the town will
be better able to participate in any future river
related construction project in its vicinity and will otherwise allow convenient foot access to the river
level,” Simpson added.
The Transportation Enhancements Program is administered by the Vermont Agenc
y of Transportation’s
Policy Planning and Intermodal Development Division for projects that are outside of the normal scope
of transportation planning and implementation
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flood river work impacts trout habitat
April 12, 2012
Written by Amy Carst,
With fishing season opening this weekend, Mad River Valley anglers will need to be patient when
seeking wild trout in the Mad and other local rivers and watersheds. Flooding, of the type experienced
last August, and its aftermath imp
acts wild trout populations for two to four years, and longer when in
stream and streambank work reduce habitat.
While wild trout populations in local and state watersheds typically take two to four years to recover
from floods, in the case of Tropical St
orm Irene, the recovery period may be significantly longer
because of loss of habitat, according to a report issued by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife
Department on the impacts of Tropical Storm Irene on stream habitats and wild trout pop
In both the Mad River Valley and White River Valley watersheds, extensive in
stream work was done.
While communities and volunteers have made extensive gains in rebuilding homes, businesses and
infrastructure, these surface repairs can hide what
lies beneath the rivers’ waters. What lies beneath the
Irene is surprisingly different in parts of the Mad and White Rivers. In Vermont, the report
identifies 77 miles of stream having degradation of habitat from post
Irene stream channel alt
The Department of Fish and Wildlife, in a partial assessment of the state’s watersheds, found that in the
Mad River Valley watershed, 9,100 feet of in
stream habitat suffered major impacts and 9,250 suffered
minor impacts. In the White
River watershed, the report found that 143,050 feet of in
suffered major impacts and 142,270 suffered minor impacts.
Catastrophic flooding can have profound effects on wild trout and other aquatic populations. Young fish
are most susceptib
le; however, adult trout experience a high mortality rate as well. Even when the
impact of flooding on trout populations is severe, the subsequent recovery can be relatively quick when
aquatic habitat is not compromised long term.
In the case of Tropical
Storm Irene, there was extensive streambank and in
stream work that was done
following the flood throughout The Valley and Vermont. In the aftermath of the flooding, local officials
(working with state officials and verbal permission) undertook immediate a
nd extensive stream channel
alterations removing large amounts of fill, top soil, gravel and road material that ended up in the river.
The problem, which the Fish and Wildlife report makes clear, lies within the fact that portions of this in
ty were conducted without proper consultation, according to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife
Department. In some cases, it was conducted for reasons well beyond normal flood recovery, the report
The report explains that large
scale removal of streambe
d material and natural wood created a system
of homogenous, over
widened stream channels. Fish populations require an aquatic habitat comprised
of diverse flows and depths which can only exist if supported by a variety of streambed substrates
ural wood and vegetation. When streambeds are stripped of large quantities of natural
wood and over
widened, they become devoid of habitat complexity and diversity.
term studies of wild trout populations impacted by flooding that show a two
period were done on streams without post
flood channel alterations. In streams where aquatic habitat
has been severely altered through natural wood mining, and channel widening, the same trout
populations may take decades to recover.
Rockingham Inches Toward Repairing Historic Covered Bridge
Vermont Public Radio<
April 11, 2012
The town of Rockingham continues to make plans to replace the Bartonsville Bridge.
A video of the historic covered bridge crashing downstream during Tropical Storm Irene went viral on
the Web and became an icon o
f the destruction caused by the storm.
At a select board meeting last week in Rockingham, an engineer said that the final replacement plans
are nearly complete. Officials estimate it will cost $1.6 million to rebuild the bridge.
Once the project begins,
the new bridge will be rolled across a temporary one, then cribbed and raised
while the ends of the temporary bridge are disassembled and removed.
Rockingham's Select Board expects to award a bid for the project in May. Construction is expected to
til the end of the year.
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VSH workers in Springfield prison lament impending layoffs
April 12, 2012
by Andrew Nemethy
You can understand why Jesse Covey feels like he’s in a remake of “Last Man Standing.”
In a few days, the night shift leader
for a crew of Vermont State Hospital employees working at the
Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield is going to lose all of his workmates.
These are the seven folks he works 12
hour shifts with, night after night, rotating three
shift and fo
shift weeks. The ones he spends holidays and weekends in prison with, hangs with in the Holiday Inn
Express motel, where they are housed when off duty on their shifts.
They’re ones he shared stories with about the day Tropical Storm Irene flooded the V
Hospital in Waterbury, forcing the evacuation of 51 patients to hospitals around the state and to the
Springfield prison. And who share anxiety and stress about the two
hour commute from the Waterbury
area and the impact on their family and so
workers, he said, “are like part of a big family.”
“We’ve been through quite a bit,” says Covey, who has worked for eight years at the state hospital.
Now, they’re being laid off under the state’s collective bargaining agreement, bump
ed out of their jobs
to allow those with more seniority to take their jobs due to a layoff of some 80 VSH employees. It feels
like one more emotional and financial blow in a long eight
month slog that he says workers feel is “like a
yearlong funeral. Just
waiting for the last blow to be struck and then it’s all over.”
Tropical Storm Irene’s physical, emotional, financial and legislative impact has garnered tons of ink and
digital bytes in the past eight months: rebuilding the Waterbury state office complex
and the mental
health system, Vermont’s devastated roads, bridges and villages, grappling with complicated funding for
repairs and finding workspaces for some 1,200 displaced state workers.
But even as time passes and recovery proceeds, the fallout from
Irene still continues, if in less obvious
ways. This has been especially true for state hospital staffers, such as Covey’s workmates. They are a
band of longtime “temps” (temporary employees) who agreed to the long hours, commutes and
isolation of working
in a unit at the prison where Vermont now holds patients committed to the state
hospital who are under judicial order
jobs they feel no one else wanted.
“They are firing off my entire crew. And these are the guys that came down here immediately after th
flood,” he said.
“These are the people who’ve been coming down here week after week, leaving their lives at home,” he
said. Which Covey calls, “completely wrong.”
Kate Duffy, commissioner of human resources for the state, said the state’s hands are tie
“We have obligations we have to meet under the collective bargaining agreement,” she said. “How it
works basically, is people with the most seniority get the job.”
The state’s contract with the Vermont State Employees Association is designed to retain
those with the most experience and time working for the state, she said, “and we want to respect that.”
Mental Health Commissioner Patrick Flood said in all nine temporary workers are being laid off in the
prison shifts. He said he was aware i
t’s a difficult situation and the state is “trying to mitigate the
circumstances of that for the staff.” So far he said about half of the Springfield crew have signed on for
other state jobs.
The night crew at Springfield is being bumped because with the
state hospital closed and patients
dispersed to private facilities such as the Rutland Regional Medical Center Brattleboro Retreat and
Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, there are no longer enough jobs for the 240 full
employees who w
orked at the state hospital.
In late February, news broke that the state was laying off 80 VSH employees, though Duffy estimated
the number now is slightly less than that. Under the seniority system in the contract, that inevitably
means temporary workers
are among the first who will get squeezed out.
Michael Collins of Waterbury, a strong, youthful “psych tech” in his 20s, is one of those. He has worked
as a VSH employee for three and a half years, always as a temp. He helped transport patients the day
fter the flood and worked day to day not knowing where he would be, pitching in as if he was a full
time staffer. “It was just helter
skelter,” he said.
He has had an inkling he was eventually going to lose his full
time temp job, which he grew to enjoy.
“It’s kind of a relief, I guess. They’ve kind of been beating around the bush,” he said of the news. He said
his last day will be April 14 and he’s not sure what he’s going to do now.
old Henry Guile of Northfield, losing his job is more of a
bitter pill to swallow: It’s his second
time being laid off by the state. He worked at the former Dale correctional facility for women in
Waterbury and was laid off there in January 2009, despite assurances he would still have a job, he said.
Now, after h
aving to work mandatory overtime at VSH and taking on the difficult Springfield job, he’s
facing the ax again.
“I’ve been assaulted, forced to work 16
hour shifts, and spent the last five months away from home
living out of a suitcase. This is the thanks
I get. This is how I find out the value of my time and energy,”
“This is my last shot with the state. I don’t want to get laid off again by these people,” he said.
The temporary state workers in his shift, who don’t get benefits such as health in
surance, sick days and
retirement benefits, are being offered the chance to fill in on a “per diem” basis when workers call in
sick or take a day off, according to Covey. But he has trouble imagining how that will work considering
the long commute and the
financial realities for the workers, who need to count on steady income.
Rick Steventon, assistant director of the unemployment insurance division, said the VSH temps are
eligible to collect unemployment from the layoff, though if they earn more than 30 p
ercent of their
weekly benefit in a given week, they will have to report it and the benefit for that week will be smaller.
Covey said he is concerned the state is losing qualified people who can deal with what he says frankly is
a sometimes “hairy” situat
ion working inside a prison, which is very different from the state hospital.
“We’ve got to walk through all the inmates every day,” he explains, to get to the cellblock they use,
which has five patients. “You get kind of used to it after a while.”
egislature this session, in passing a dramatic overhaul of the mental health system spurred by the
closure of the state hospital and Gov. Peter Shumlin, took exceptional pains to write in guarantees that
off VSH employees would have first shot at
jobs in a new 25
bed state hospital planned near
Central Vermont Medical Center.
It also put in language to make sure they would be considered for jobs at Rutland hospital and the
Brattleboro Retreat, which will provide six and 14 acute care beds under a
year contract in the
mental health bill. Jobs may also open up at an eight
bed acute care unit the state is scrambling to
renovate and open in Morrisville to handle some patients until the new state hospital is built. That is still
considered months a
VSEA spokesman Doug Gibson said he empathized with the Springfield workers. “VSEA has vigorously
opposed any and all efforts to reduce the size of the current state hospital workforce, and we share the
employees’ belief that the layoffs were
and continue to be
unnecessary and unwarranted,” he
said. Calling the situation created by Irene “highly unique,” he said VSEA is doing the best job it can to
protect members, noting it worked hard to ensure the mental health overhaul gives VSH employ
crack at any new state jobs created in mental health.
That is little consolation for Covey, who said losing his “family” at Springfield compounds the stress he’s
been feeling at home. Married with two children, the days he spends away at work ha
ve been hard on
his relationship, he said. But he doesn’t want to quit because he loves his job.
“I’m very dedicated to the state hospital and it has been a huge and influential part of my life,” he said.
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VT Law School to Host “After Irene”
Symposium April 20
April 12, 2012
By Press Release
For immediate release
April 12, 2012
SOUTH ROYALTON, VT
Vermont Law School will explore environmental
issues arising out of Tropical
Storm Irene at a symposium on Friday, April 20.
The symposium, titled “After Irene: Law and Policy Lessons for the Future,” will start at 8:15 a.m. in the
Chase Community Center. The event is free and open to the public.
he symposium will be presented by the Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, the Northern New
England Chapter of the American Planning Association, and the Freshwater Working Group.
Among the issues to be discussed are the environmental effects of using he
avy equipment to restore
stream banks and channels; river corridor management; emergency relief mitigation and planning;
natural disaster policy; and the federal flood insurance program.
More information is available at
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Consultants offer free busines (sic) advice
April 12, 2012
Waterbury area businesses affected by Tropical Storm Irene can now draw on two free non
consultants for help.
Businesses that were hit with physical damage during the flood, or by the economic slowdown that has
resulted from state
workers being displaced from the State Office Complex, are eligible.
One consultant, Peter Calore, is working for the Small Business Development Center. He has 30 years of
experience starting, running and evaluating businesses large and small. His person
al experience is
largely in the restaurant business, but he has consulted with many types of businesses in need of
“I think if you can run a restaurant you can run almost anything,” Calore said.
Calore worked for Burger King Corp. for 11 yea
rs as a vice president directing the development of new
franchises in Europe and Asia. He managed 150 stores in southern California for Taco Bell and started
two of his own small restaurant franchises, San’wiches, Inc., sandwich stores in San Diego, and Ma
oven pizza restaurants in Orange County, Calif. He now lives on family property in Chelsea,
Calore is familiar with a variety of loans, but got up
close experience with disaster loans while working in
White River Junction this fall as
a consultant for businesses there affected by Irene. He is particularly
interested in helping business owners apply for new federal Small Business Administration loans, or to
address why they may have been denied loans previously.
“In most cases you can
turn the denial around,” Calore said. “Often they just want more information.”
One new federal loan, which has a June application deadline, is available for economic hardship. That
means a business is eligible regardless of physical damage as long as its
revenue declined as a result of
The second consultant, Lucinda Newman, lives in North Moretown and works for Central Vermont
Community Action Council. She can aid businesses in reviewing their finances, as well as in evaluating,
, their business plans.
She has particular experience consulting with single
businesses run out of a home
office or small rented space, such as independent contractors, artists or craftspeople. But she also has
worked with larger businesses
, such as Newmont Farm in Bradford and Waterbury’s own Coffee Lab
She also operates her own business, Horses and Pathfinders, LLC, which offers leadership development
experiences with horses.
Both consultants plan to meet with business own
ers by appointment. More information will be available
at Revitalizing Waterbury’s Mud Season Mixer on Tuesday, April 17, starting at 5:30 p.m. at Cork Wine
Bar & Market at the corner of South Main and Stowe Streets.
Lucinda Newman, C
entral Vermont Community Action Council:
Peter Calore, Small Business Development Center:
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ervations since the water
April 12, 2012
Letters To The Editor
The very next day, I drive by, watching the river rising, nervously, hoping. And then, as your house
comes into view, I know last night wasn’t restful for you; I beg
in to worry about you
if you are safe,
got rescued, rescued your neighbors, saved the animals.
After the first few days and weeks, I watched you wait for the water to go back to its river, leaving mud
and wreckage on your lawns. Cars and trucks now undr
ivable. The volunteers in their rubber boots,
faces covered in dust, stand beside you. You with shovel in hand, gloves, carry out piles of heavy earth,
and soap cleans the clothes, the pictures, the heirlooms.
As I drive by your house. I have seen the win
dows opened, for days, for weeks. Now, snow blowing in, all
of the memories you’ve gathered, spread like a tapestry on your lawn. A mass of garage sales that
Weeks later, I drove by your empty house, stillness. Darkness replaces the light th
at used to welcome
me, and missing the assortment of decorations displayed on your lawns for every holiday. The stars
seem brighter now and I watch as the moon honors your struggle in the warmth of its rays.
Today, driving by, I am overcome with sadness.
Assessing the houses, now completely gone. A driveway
ends this scar of dirt, the only evidence of where your children played, where you created your
Then the Dumpsters arrive
offs,” as you tore down the sheetrock and threw away your
couches, the ones you sat on watching a movie and eating popcorn. The beds your kids slept safely in,
waiting for Santa to arrive.
I watched as you dug around your foundations and lifted your houses, tore down more walls and wrote,
with a surge of c
ourage, “We Are Vermont Strong” on the side of your houses.
And I hope you know there are more of us who have joined your Neighborhood Watch program. As you
stand in lines, fill out papers, file papers, gather papers for all of the banks, the insurance co
who I hope will come through for you. Wishing your FEMA check arrives soon.
Today, I look with relief
some of your walls are rebuilt, a patchwork of lumber, sawdust clouds. In the
driveway, a camper has become less of a vacation.
I have driven
by your house for months now, wondering if you know that I want to help. I gave at the
food shelf, to the emergency fund, brought clothes to the clothing drive at the school. I will buy the
But still, it doesn’t seem like much. As I arrive
home, my husband sits reading the paper, the wood stove
ablaze, my dog greets me at the door, tail wagging
and I think of you.
Sharon Davis works in Waterbury.
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Everyone deserves affordable housing
April 12, 2012
Letters To The Editor
I lost my home in Tropical Storm Irene. This was affordable housing for me for a home that I would fully
own someday. Then, because of the affordable housing crisis in Vermont, I have had to rent an
that I’m paying approximately three times for more a month. I will never own this place, so
it’s lots more money that is going out the window that will never be invested for the long term for me
and my family.
I believe that everyone should have a safe an
d affordable place to live. A person with a low income
shouldn’t rely on government assistance for basic housing. A livable wage is a human right, as well as
safe, affordable housing. This is why I’m a member of the Put People First campaign and why I will
march in Montpelier on May 1. If you believe this too, I hope you will join us.
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Medical office staff deserves ‘thank you’
April 12, 2012
Letters To The Editor
As we all know, on August 28
Waterbury and much of Vermont was devastated by the force of Irene.
The Waterbury Medical Associates facility at 130 South Main Street had seven feet of water in the
basement and 12 inches of water over the entire first floor. The local staff and Central
Center staff immediately reacted and relocated the staff of about 25 to the CVMC facilities.
These changes created difficult scheduling problems for some of the staff. Most patients were contacted
in regard to the time and location for the
ir next appointment. In addition, a small medical office was
arranged at Thatcher Brook Inn in Waterbury for the immediate needs of patients.
We do appreciate that a book about Waterbury with pictures and comments has been presented. We
also appreciate Go
rdon Miller’s photography work with pictures of the many homes and businesses,
including (we believe) the Waterbury Medical facility damage.
Unfortunately, not one picture or comment was included in the book about Waterbury Medical. We feel
it is sad that
the news media and those involved with the publication of the book apparently did not feel
that professional quality health care was equally or more important than some of the other local
businesses that received front page coverage.
Waterbury Medical As
sociates reopened on Jan. 23. We feel that all of the people
staff, technicians, physical therapists, receptionists, as well as the contractors that worked on this very
deserve a heartfelt thank
you for their efforts and
long hours in getting the job
Waterbury Medical Associates serves the medical needs of thousands of patients within a 25
of Waterbury with professional quality health
care, and we are fortunate to have the facility once again
ding this important service to the Waterbury area community.
Everett and Annie Coffey
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April 10, 2012
Last week the Legislature passed a sweeping overhaul of Vermont's mental health system. It intends to
address gross inadequac
ies in the way we treat our mentally ill. Toward that end lawmakers agreed to
build a new state hospital with a construction cost of almost $150 million and annual operational costs
between $500,000 and $1 million per bed. They also increased spending into
the community health
system by $20 million per year.
If spending were the problem, then the overhaul would seem compassionate. It's not, so we have
For one thing, it's hard to argue that we don't spend enough money. The Human Service
s Department is
the state's largest bureaucracy, with a $2 BILLION budget and over $250,000,000 in salaries and
benefits. On top of that, in every corner of the state, we have groups like Northeast Kingdom Human
which often duplicates state ser
vices with an annual budget in excess of $25,000,000.
For all that money we get some real horror stories.
There was no shortage of funding when the feds yanked certification and $10 million in Medicaid
funding following multiple suicides at the State Hos
pital in 2003.
Funding wasn't to blame in last week's Associated Press story that reported "despite an update to a
state law seven years ago saying that patients in the mental health system's care must be moved in the
least restrictive manner deemed neces
sary, most patients
even those not deemed as posing a threat
are still being transported by county sheriffs in handcuffs and leg shackles." Seven years
Nor were funding shortfalls to blame for the January death of Justin Ponzio, 3
1, in Westmore. Ponzio
had been an inmate at the state hospital and had been moved to a residential facility ironically called
"Eagle Eye Farm." These residential facilities get hundreds
dollars per patient so it can't
have been a lack of f
inancial incentive that explains how the folks at "Eagle Eye" took their eye off of
Nor was funding the problem when our area suffered the human services debacle of Evan Rapoza.
Before that particular schizophrenic nearly killed a local plumber in
cold blood, he had bounced around
the state's patchwork mental health system. He had stops at the State Hospital, Central Vermont
Medical Center and the Brattleboro Retreat. His aftercare was supposedly managed by Northeast
Kingdom Human Services but it's
clear, in retrospect, that nobody communicated on Rapoza's behalf. An
innocent man almost died as a result.
All of the involved mental health groups share blame for the tragic tale of Rapoza. Despite the blood on
their hands, every one of them got paid b
ig bucks for their ineptitude.
Finally, when Hurricane Irene blew through, we saw dozens of psychiatric patients bounced all over the
overwhelming emergency rooms and medical facilities unfit to provide them care. What were
the biggest headlines
during this "crisis?" The first was that state workers wanted double pay for the
inconvenience of having to commute to work after the hurricane. The second was that Human Services
Deputy Secretary Patrick Flood was busy protesting climate change in Washing
ton, D.C. while the storm
was blowing the medieval state hospital off the map.
Which really mystifies us. How can liberal legislators, all of whom think bigger government is the answer
for every problem, allow such an abysmal record of mistreatment of the
state's most vulnerable people?
We think it comes down to two simple things. The first is that nobody is accountable in a state
bureaucracy. The bigger the agency, the less chance somebody will actually be in charge or answerable.
The second is that the
mentally ill have no voice or ability to organize. They simply lack political clout.
So while Shumlin touts the new system as a picture of decentralized efficiency, we recognize the
down on a system that will continue to fail far more often than
it will succeed. It will be a more
expensive mishmash of facilities and services, scattered more haphazardly throughout the state. It will
undoubtedly corner a larger share of medicaid funding, of course. As we've seen countless times,
however, that is mor
e of a victory for state workers and private
profits than it is for the mentally
ill. More jobs, more money, no more accountability.