MONTPELIER Today the Vermont Natural Resources Council (VNRC)and other parties filed legal paperwork challenging an Act 250 permit thatapproves the construction of a new Wal-Mart store in the town of St. Albans. VNRC, Others, Challenge St. Albans Wal-Mart Permit In the motion, the partiescontend that the District 6 commission the local panel that hears Act 250cases in the St. Albans area ignored its own findings when it granted thepermit. For instance, the commissionfound that the store would pollute a nearby brook, would increase trafficcongestion, and could cost as many as 200-297 jobs and cause over 40 businessesto close in St. Albans City. The commission also heard that the projectsdeveloper would pave over prime agricultural soils and that it was questionablewhether the developer would properly reduce the impact of losing those soils.Despite the fact that the commission stated it agreed with all this evidence,the commission granted a permit for construction anyway. If the commission lets thepermit stand as issued, the parties could appeal the case to the EnvironmentalCourt. The conclusions reached bythe commission are simply not supported by their own findings, said SteveHolmes, VNRCs deputy director. The decision is riddled with inconsistenciesand seems to ignore the evidence. ### In their motion to alter, theparties ask the commission to deny the permit for failing to meet several Act250 criteria. Joining VNRC in filing theMotion to Alter the Act 250 permit is alocal group known as Northwest Citizens for Responsible Growth (NWCRG) andnearby farmers Marie Frey and Richard Hudak. All have been granted party status in the Act 250 process. Web: Also under the permit,Wal-Mart would pay St. Albans City $500,000 to compensate for negative impactsto the city. That, according to Holmes, is a pittance compared with what otherlarge developers have paid other communities. Wal-Mart agreed to pay PimaCounty (in Tucson, Arizona) $35 million roughly two percent of retail salesover 25 years to build a 123,000 square foot store. And, 20 years ago theCity of Rutland and the developer of Diamond Run Mall in Rutland Town executedan agreement as part of an Act 250 permit to provide over $3 million in directand indirect impact fees to offset and mitigate adverse effects of the projecton the city. For example, in their April 4decision authorizing the permit, the district commission heavily criticized afiscal and economic impact study of the regional impact of the store done by Wal-Marts consultant, sayingthe analysis contained flaws and omissions and in part is not credible. Nevertheless, the commission issued thepermit relying almost entirely on the consultants report, which estimated only40 lost jobs and 12 lost businesses in St. Albans City. The proposed store would bethe largest in Vermont at 146,755 sq ft. It is proposed for Route 7 near exit20 off I-89. A smaller Wal-Mart store of 100,000-square-feet was proposed forthe same site in the 1990s and was denied in part because of impacts onsurrounding communities. The Messenger editorial said &as the city pursues its negotiationswith Wal-Mart, could a deal be struck in which the city and Wal-Mart wouldagree to a set percentage of gross sales being due the city? The store isexpected to generate sales of $60 million a year, if one percent were dedicatedto the city, thats $600,000 a year. About VNRCThe Vermont Natural Resources Council is an independent, nonprofit research,education, and advocacy organization founded in 1963 to protect Vermontsenvironment, economy, and quality of life. Nearly 6,000 households, businesses,and organizations support VNRCs mission. Closer to home, an editorialin the St. Albans Messenger onDecember 1, 2006, suggested that Wal-Mart pay a considerably higher fee to St.Albans City than the amount in the recently granted permit. The Messenger has consistently editorialized in support of Wal-Martbuilding a store in this location.
As of 3 pm, today, the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon is at 100-percent power (~ 615 megawatts MWe). The plant has operated continuously since returning to service from the October 2008 refueling outage – a total of 297 days.On Monday, Vermont Yankee notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that a supervisor tested positive during a random fitness for duty test Monday morning. The employee was a supervisor in the plant’s maintenance department. The employee’s site access has been revoked, and a review of previous work is being performed. The fitness for duty program is regulated by the NRC and applies to all persons who work in the nuclear industry. VY has a fitness for duty program that helps ensure a drug and alcohol free workplace. There was no threat to public health or safety as a result of Monday’s incident.VY’s annual Safety Day celebration was held on Thurs., Aug. 27. Highlighting this year’s Safety Day was a special program, recognizing that the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration (VOSHA) has formally upgraded VY’s status in the Green Mountain Voluntary Protection Program to Star Level. Approval into GMVPP Star status is VOSHA’s official recognition of the outstanding effort made by the VY team on achieving commendable occupational safety and health work standards. The event included a GMVPP STAR flag raising ceremony.Source: Entergy Vermont Yankee. 9/2/2009
Sure, Clint Eastwood, Meryl Streep and Robert James Waller can make anyone’s bridges famous. However, without a New York Times bestseller and a big budget movie to back it up, Vermont has managed to carve out a reputation for itself as the place to come for covered bridges. Vermont is home to more than 100 covered bridges and each one has a story to tell.Treasure Hunting in Vermont: Shopping for AntiquesVermont’s countryside is dotted with a treasure trove of collectibles and antiques. Given the richness of history, Vermont has an abundance of interesting artifacts and unique bric-a-brac. Pieces are often displayed on the roadside to lure shoppers inside where hunting among the rooms and rafters is part of the experience. In autumn, there are a number of expos, including the Annual Vermont Antique Dealer’s Association gathering and the Annual Weston Antiques Show. These shows and others make antiquing easy by assembling vendors to display, highlight and sell their wares.Source: VDTM. Vermont tourism officials are expecting another brilliant foliage season this year and encourage visitors to take advantage of midweek deals being offered through the fall.Dozens of inns, hotels, attractions, historic sites and museums are offering a variety of midweek specials during the fall foliage season as part of the statewide ‘Midweek Peek’ promotion organized by the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing. Deals range from discounted lodging to reduced admission prices. For details, visit www.VermontVacation.com/midweek(link is external).‘Visitors can find a diverse range of options for lodging, dining and activities during Vermont’s legendary foliage season, and midweek is theperfect time to take a trip here,’ says Vermont Tourism and Marketing Commissioner Bruce Hyde. ‘Fall foliage in Vermont is glorious any day of the week, and we hope visitors will explore special ‘Midweek Peek’ deals around the state.’Vermont’s landscape shimmers in red, orange and gold during the fall, drawing visitors from all corners of the globe. Vermont has the highest percentage of sugar maple trees of any state in the nation, and an abundance of red maple trees, which all produce vibrant, bright colors during foliage. Vermont forestry experts agree with the prediction that a beautiful foliage season is on the way.‘We’re on track for another spectacular fall season. Most parts of the state had good summer moisture, and early color can already be seen in some places,’ says Ginger Anderson, Chief of Forest Management for the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. ‘As Vermont transitions into typical fall weather with warm days and cool nights, we expect Vermont’s foliage to display magnificent autumn color.’The Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing offers a number of resources on its website at VermontVacation.com for foliage season visitors. The site includes tips on planning ahead, a Lodging Availability Forecaster, and the Foliage Forecaster, which shows the progression of the colors across Vermont during a typical foliage season. Visitors can also access the Vermont Travel Planner, an extensive database of lodging, dining, events, attractions and recreational opportunities. Weekly foliage reports will begin on Sept.14 and will be available on VermontVacation.com and also the state’s toll-free visitor information hotline 1-800-VERMONT. Reports will be updated on Tuesdays and Thursdays through the end of October.Visitors make 14.3 million trips to Vermont each year and visitor spending adds an estimated $1.57 billion to the state’s economy, according to VDTM research. The research shows that 23 percent of those visits, or 3.7 million, are during the fall season.Vermont has some of the best foliage in the world. Autumn is the perfect time to hop in the car and take a drive through the country lanes, winding streets, and scenic byways. With the backdrop of blue skies and a myriad of fall colors on the horizon, Vermont is ready for exploration.Have Car, Will Travel; State Recognized Scenic BywaysVermont has a number of roads that have stood out for their historic, recreational, and natural wonders. To jump-start your foliage viewing, try these routes during your travels. All have easy access parking and/or pullouts for photo opportunities or impromptu rest stops.Scenic Route 108, the Smuggler’s Notch Road, attracts hikers and rock climbers as it passes through Mansfield State Forest and near the Smuggler’s Notch Ski Resort.Scenic Route 131, Cavendish Road, runs through the town of Cavendish and follows the well-stocked Black River where anglers can be found casting for fish.Scenic Route 125, Middlebury Gap Road, is an ideal location to view autumn colors as it passes through the Green Mountain National Forest, a popular camping spot.The Lake Champlain Byway offers outstanding views of the state’s largest lake, surrounding Green Mountains and Adirondacks, as well as the area’s working landscapes.Route 9, the Molly Stark Trail, is named after the wife of New Hampshire’s General John Stark who was the victor of the August 16, 1777 Battle of Bennington.The Connecticut River Scenic Byway is the natural bridge that unites New Hampshire and Vermont for over half of the waterway’s 410-mile journey from the Canadian border to the Atlantic Ocean.Vermont: The Best Way to Enjoy the Best FoliageVermont has the highest percentage of maple trees of any of the New England states, a tree with foliage that turns vibrant orange and yellow in the fall. Foliage progresses from the north to south and from higher elevations to lower elevations. Therefore, the earlier in the season you visit, the more northerly you want to focus and the later you come, more southerly. If you want to do more planning before your arrival, research your trip on www.vermontvacation.com/seasons/fall.asp(link is external). Here you can find suggested drives, read foliage reports, learn the insider’s tips, and watch the Foliage Forecaster which helps you strategically plan where and when to visit Vermont based on the natural progression of foliage in a typical year. It is a handy tool if you’ve never been to Vermont before or come from an area where foliage doesn’t change so dramatically.Winding down with Wine Tour: Vermont Vineyards and WineriesStarting in northern Vermont, begin your wine tour at Boyden Valley in Cambridge for a September Harvest Festival. Continue west to the Snow Farm Vineyard in South Hero, a leader in the Vermont wine field establishing the first commercial grape vineyard. At the Grand View Winery in East Calais, sample something decidedly different like elderberry or dandelion wine. Try a few award-winning organic grape wines at Shelburne Vineyard in Shelburne. At the Ottauquechee Valley Winery housed in the Historic Dewey Mill near the Quechee Gorge, enjoy any of their seven wines. End the tour at the southern tip of the state with the North River Winery in Jacksonville, which offers Vermont Harvest dessert wine containing cinnamon and Vermont maple syrup. For contact details, visit www.VermontBrewers.com(link is external).An Apple a Day: Farms, Festivals and MoreVermont’s cool climate is perfect for producing apples. Almost 70 percent of the apples grown in Vermont are MacIntosh, a variety good for eating fresh picked, fresh pressed or fresh baked. When apples are harvested in September and October, there are a number of festivals with apples as the centerpiece. These celebrations feature diverse entertainment including music, crafts, cider pressing, pie baking and more. Apple picking at an orchard is a unique Vermont experience and taking home fresh cider makes for a tasty souvenir. For a complete listing of orchards and apple events, visit www.VermontApples.org(link is external).The Vistas of Vermont: Accessing the State’s Many MountaintopsMany of Vermont’s mountain peaks offer panoramic views, especially breathtaking in fall. Killington Resort has a gondola ride to the state’s second highest peak, where a clear day can provide views into Canada. At Killington and Bolton Valley, you can bring your mountain bikes along for the ride and bike a trail back to the base. In the Northeast Kingdom, rise to the top of Jay Peak in a sixty person capacity tram. In southern Vermont, Bromley Mountain, Stratton Mountain and Mount Snow both have lift services to their summits. The 3816-foot Mount Equinox peak can be reached via a winding drive with views of the Green Mountain range.Take it From the Top: Viewing Foliage from Another AngleFor an entirely different perspective of Vermont foliage, take a hot air balloon ride, go skydiving, or ride the air currents on a sailplane. From the faint of heart to the hearty adventurer, there is a bird’s eye view opportunity for everyone. Soar over the treetops in a romantic sunset balloon ride over the Quechee Gorge. Tandem, static line, and accelerated free fall jumps all are available with professional instructors within a setting of mountains, valleys, and lakes. Enjoy the views on a quiet sailplane tour or take a day lesson and learn to pilot the air currents on your own. Contact the Vermont Outdoor Guide Association at www.VOGA.org(link is external) for information on any of these activities.The Bridges of Addison County: Covered Bridges in Vermont
About FairPointFairPoint Communications, Inc. is an industry leading provider of communications services to communities across the country. Today, FairPoint owns and operates local exchange companies in 18 states offering advanced communications with a personal touch, including local and long distance voice, data, Internet, television and broadband services. Learn more at www.FairPoint.com(link is external).Source: FairPoint. ‘This new IP-based voice mail platform improves current features right off the bat and allows for future ‘bells and whistles,’‘ said Mike Smith, Vermont state president for FairPoint. Duplicate user guides for home and business voice mail customers are available online at: http://www.fairpoint.com/northern_ne/support.jsp(link is external). Additional questions can be answered by FairPoint representatives by calling 866-984-2001 (home) or 866-984-3001 (business). Consolidated Communications,FairPoint customers around Vermont are getting a new voice mail system, one that offers improved features on a new next-generation voice mail platform. FairPoint began rolling out the new voice mail this month, starting with Essex Junction customers. Bennington, Brattleboro and Rutland will be added this week and the transition to the new system will continue community by community over the next three weeks. And, for the first time, Island Pond customers will soon have voice mail availability. FairPoint customers will receive instructions for the new voice mail system by mail, which includes a user’s guide, followed by voice mail messages as the transition date approaches.
The Vermont Department of Public Service announced Thursday the appointment of Sarah Hofmann as Deputy Commissioner and James Porter as the Director of Telecommunications. The Department serves as the ratepayer advocate for utility matters in energy, telecommunications and water, and also is the lead for the state’s energy policy.‘I am very pleased to have Sarah and Jim as part of the department’s leadership team,’ said Elizabeth Miller, Commissioner of the Department. ‘This is an exciting time as we continue to work diligently on the state’s energy plan, and to complete the state’s broadband build out,’ Miller said. Hofmann is a graduate of Rollins College and the University of New Hampshire School of Law. Most recently she served as the Director for Public Advocacy for the department. Her shift to the Deputy role will require the Department to hire another dynamic and committed individual as the Director of Public Advocacy, leading the Department’s legal staff and consumer affairs specialists.Porter is a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College and Birmingham School of Law. Most recently he served as a staff attorney for the department and has worked hard on many key telecommunication issues, most notably the FairPoint acquisition. The Department will require a new staff attorney to assume Mr. Porter’s prior role.The Department also recently announced the retirement of Dave Lamont, long-time valuable member of the Department’s planning staff, most recently as Director of Planning and Energy Resources. The Department has realigned Lamont’s position and is actively seeking an individual for the Director of Energy Policy and Planning.Position descriptions will be available on line through Vermont’s Human Resources Department at http://humanresources.vermont.gov/(link is external) Source: DPS. 3.10.2011