Irene & Recovery

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Towns receive millions in federal community development money

 MONTPELIER — Thirteen municipalities in Vermont will share in more than $4 million in federal dollars to provide economic development, low-income housing and recovery from Tropical Storm Irene. Wednesday, Gov. Peter Shumlin announced nearly $4.3 million in grants ranging from $19,000 to $850,000 from the state’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development. The grants are funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant Program. “Spring is coming and soon these grants will lead to construction projects across state that will help improve communities, grow jobs and spur economic growth,” Shumlin said. “From Lyndon to Wilmington, these projects will help our small towns complete disaster recovery projects, create more affordable housing and further develop their communities.”

“While targeted to the needs of lower income Vermonters, these projects will benefit their towns in many ways and for years to come,” said Patricia Moulton, secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. Continue Reading →

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Exchange tax documents in the mail, state says

MONTPELIER — State officials are warning Vermonters who obtained health insurance through Vermont Health Connect to be on the lookout for important tax documents that should arrive in the mail by next week. More than 25,000 1095-A forms have been mailed to Vermonters. The form has the financial information customers provided when signing up for health insurance coverage on the state’s online marketplace. But Chief of Health Care Reform Lawrence Miller said some customers may experience problems because not all change of circumstance requests have been processed by the state. Another batch of changes is expected to be processed by Feb. Continue Reading →

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Labor board nixes double pay for state employee Irene work

MONTPELIER — The 63 state employees who had sought double pay for their work in the weeks after Tropical Storm Irene have been denied by the Vermont Labor Relations Board, which issued a ruling Monday lamenting the fact that the grievance was even filed. The Aug. 28, 2011, flood displaced more than 1,500 employees from the state office complex in Waterbury, forcing many to work from off-site locations until the state could secure office space elsewhere. While most employees performed their jobs without complaint, more than 60 claimed that “emergency closure” language in their union contract guaranteed them double pay for continuing to work while their usual workspace was uninhabitable. On Monday, the labor board said the “emergency” closure applied only to the day of the floods, not the subsequent weeks during which employees had to work from their homes or on the road. Continue Reading →

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Irene-prompted reforms make positive changes in mental health care

MONTPELIER — Before he turned even 20, Ivan Deutsch had been through 20 foster families, 15 visits to the psych ward, and more run-ins with police than he cares to remember. For his entire teenage life, Deutsch suffered the slings of a mental illness that robbed him of a normal childhood. Thanks to a newly sprouted eight-bed residential treatment facility in Westminster, however, Deutsch said the future has finally started to look promising. “If they hadn’t stuck with me like they had, I wouldn’t be here right now talking to you,” Deutsch told a panel of lawmakers Thursday. “I thought I was always going to be on the borderline of not living. Continue Reading →

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Vilaseca to head newly minted Agency of Education

Last year, Gov. Peter Shumlin won legislation to endow his office will increased power over public education. On Thursday, he announced the appointment of the man he says will help him exert it. Armando Vilaseca has been named to serve as Vermont’s first-ever secretary of education, a cabinet-level post whose allegiance to the governor will lend the executive branch unprecedented influence over education policy in the state. Until now, the commissioner of education has answered to the nine-member State Board of Education, a century-old arrangement conceived to help insulate public education from the ideological bent of politicians. Shumlin though convinced lawmakers last year that the system had prevented the state’s top elected officeholder from enacting needed reforms in one of government’s central roles. Continue Reading →

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