From the Director, April 2014 - Looking Forward: A Seat at the Table and Collaboration Beyond State Boundaries
The Now that the Public Service Board has rendered its decision and endorsed the memorandum of understanding arrived at between state agencies and Entergy Vermont Yankee, we need to look forward to what this means. The agreement promises resources that could jump start economic development and workforce initiatives in the region that in turn might blunt the economic impacts of the closure of the plant in late 2014. There is a framework in place, a regional comprehensive economic development strategy, to help guide how those resources might best be used to leverage the region’s human resource and economic assets. We expect to be a part of this process.
Windham Regional Plan Update Draft Completed; Public Hearings Scheduled
For more than 2 years the Windham Regional Commission (WRC) has been engaged in a comprehensive update of the Windham Regional Plan. Having solicited comments from the public, state agencies, non-profit organizations, municipalities, and other stakeholders on the current plan, having held four public forums throughout the region, and after much deliberation within the committees of the Commission, the updated plan is now going through the formal public hearing process necessary for plan adoption. The current plan, which was adopted in 2006, will expire in October of this year.
WRC is seeking a staff planner!
The Windham Regional Commission is seeking a planner at our offices overlooking the beautiful Connecticut River in downtown Brattleboro. This person will work in a 27-town, 920 square mile rural region of southeastern Vermont with considerable natural resource and tourism base, historic downtowns and villages, and outstanding cultural and recreational opportunities.
For more information, click here.
Speaker and State Treasurer Meet With WRC Commissioners and Energy Coordinators
Our conference room was bustling on February 24th as nearly 20 members from the WRC’s Energy Committee, Public Policy and Legislative Committee, and Town Energy Coordinators gathered to speak with Vermont Speaker of the House Shap Smith and State Treasurer Beth Pearce. The Speaker and State Treasurer each had other engagements in Brattleboro later in the evening, but generously arrived early to hear from constituents on energy issues and related policy. This opportunity was organized by Betty Frye, resident of Guilford, who was hosting the Speaker at a meeting afterward.
Notes from the February 24th Energy Roundtable
More than 20 Town Energy Coordinators, Committee members, and energy enthusiasts gathered at the Marlboro College Graduate School on February 24th to share recent energy activities in their towns and discuss challenges. Current town projects ranged widely, including the replacement of outdoor lights with LED bulbs in Dummerston, a Putney solarize campaign kick-off, and an initiative to pass a $50,000 Energy Efficiency Fund in Brattleboro. The focus for the evening was energy planning and implementation strategies.
Local Emergency Operations Plans – New Format for 2014
Formerly referred to as Rapid Response Plans (RRP), and then Basic Emergency Operations Plans (BEOP), all towns are now required to prepared Local Emergency Operations Plans (LEOP) following a new format. Vermont statute requires every city and town to have an emergency operations plan on file at the Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS). Adoption of an LEOP is one element of the new Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund (ERAF) Rule, which goes into effect on October 23, 2014. The Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund provide State funding to match Federal Public Assistance after federally-declared disasters.
Cell Phone and Broadband Forum Held; Presentations Available
In response to an invitation by the WRC, the Vermont Telecommunications Authority (VTA) and the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) held a forum at the Newbrook Fire Department on Wednesday, January 22nd to discuss their specific initiatives, and what cell phone and broadband infrastructure planning and installation is taking place in the Windham Region.
WRC Digitizing Current Use Parcels
Vermont’s Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation is again contracting with WRC to digitize parcels enrolled in the state’s Use Value Appraisal Program (commonly known as “current use”). Once this work is complete, all UVA parcels in Windham County will be digitized.
GIS Staff Outline Accomplishments for 2013
Windham Regional Commission GIS staff members Jeff Nugent and Sarah Linn worked on many projects during 2013. Some of the highlights are presented below.
WRC’s New Hire to Help with Village and Downtown Resiliency Planning
Kim Smith, a recent graduate of Conway School with a M.A. in Landscape Design, was recently hired to help us with village and downtown resiliency planning supported by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) Disaster Recovery Grant. Kim’s prime focus at Windham Regional Commission is working with staff on village revitalization plans. Prior to graduate school Kim worked as a biologist in California on a bald eagle reintroduction project. Other areas of interest include gardening, sustainability and permaculture.
First Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund Project Completed
Windham Regional Commission (WRC) is pleased to announce completion of its first Windham Region Brownfields Reuse Initiative-Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund (WRBRI-RLF) project: The Bellows Falls Historic Riverfront Park and Trail System.
Forest Stewardship Project Looks at the Big Picture
For many decades Vermont forest landowners have held different views of their property. In our region of Vermont, about 44% are working the land, about 46% view their land as a woodland retreat, less than 10% are completely uninvolved with their land, and a minor 1% use their land as supplemental income.
WRC Presents Testimony on VY Closure Before House Committees
Below is a link to testimony presented on October 28, 2013 by Windham Regional Commission before the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee and the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee about the impacts of the closure of Vermont Yankee. Link to testimony.
Information Related to the Closure of Vermont Yankee
Information as of August 30, 2013, including:
- WRC Statement on Announcement by Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee That the Plant Will Close in 2014
- VY Employees by Town
- Resiliency Action Plan for the Town of Vernon in Preparation for the Eventual Closure of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station
Creative Planning and Public Participation In Londonderry
Londonderry residents and a team from Marlboro College’s Center for Creative Solutions (CCS), in partnership with Windham Regional Commission explored how to best use soon to be town owned properties severely damaged by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene. Participants in the six-day planning workshop held in early August generated three different options for how the buyout properties could provide opportunities for flood mitigation and at the same time be a multipurpose green space for the community. Conventionally, these purposes could be seen as mutually exclusive. However, there was nothing conventional about this community planning process.