WRC NEWSLETTER                                                        MAY 2017
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IN THIS ISSUE
QUICK LINKS
WRC Commissioners
WRC CALENDAR
May 9, 6:00 pm :

May 16, 5:30 pm:
Local Emergency Planning (LEPC)
Putney Fire Department
 
May 23, 6:30 pm:
Joint Committee Meeting, Windham Regional Career Center

May 30, 12:00 pm:

May 30, 7:00 pm:
Townshend Town Hall

**All Committee Meetings take place in the WRC Conference Room unless otherwise noted.
 
**All meetings are subject to change, please check the website for updates.
UPCOMING GRANT OPPORTUNITIES

National Endowment for the Arts
Art Works
DEADLINE:  July 13, 2017
DEADLINE:  Sept. 11, 2017

New England Grass Roots Environmental Fund
DEADLINE:  Rolling (Seed Grant) 
For more information click here.
 
USDA Rural Development - Community Facility Loans 
& Grants
DEADLINE:  Ongoing (contact USDA office)
For more information click here.
 
Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development
DEADLINE:  Rolling

Vermont Agency of Transportation
DEADLINE:  July 14, 2017
 
Vermont Community Foundation
DEADLINE:  Rolling
Small and Inspiring
DEADLINE: August 2 & October 18, 2017
Innovations and Collaborations
DEADLINE: July 18 2017
For more information click here.

Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services
Human Services and Educational Facilities Competitive Grant Program
Recreational Facilities Grant Program  Regional Economic Development Grant Program
DEADLINE:  For all grants - July 14, 2017
For more information click here.

Windham Foundation
DEADLINE: Aug 17, 2017 
For more information click here.
Upcoming Grants will  be a regular column in the  WRC Newsletter, for  a complete 
list please  click here

For additional  information about  grant possibilities  for your projects  please contact Susan at 
Hinsdale/Brattleboro Bridge Update
 
The Hinsdale/Brattleboro Bridge Advisory Committee met for a third time last week to discuss the proposed bridge pier design.  The Committee has narrowed the pier options down to three and requested to the see the pier options within the context of the draft bridge design before making a final decision. At the second meeting the Advisory Committee unanimously agreed on several motions including: incorporation of a sidewalk on the new bridge; to use standard (T4) rail on the outside of the bridge with no rail separating the sidewalk from the roadway; and to incorporate a limited number of overlooks that do not require extensive structural changes to bridge piers. NHDOT has been working on engineering and design based on these criteria. 
WRC to Host ECO AmeriCorps Member for 2017-2018
 
The WRC will once again host an ECO AmeriCorps Service Member to help with its water quality initiatives, which address Act 64, or Vermont's Clean Water Act. The ECO Americorp member will assist the WRC, the Windham Country Natural Resources Conservation District (WCNRCD), and the VT DEC with planning, implementing, and documenting water quality projects in the Windham region.
 
By working with the three partnering organizations in a variety of water quality-related projects, the member will gain skills across a range of service categories (research, planning, implementation, documentation, and analysis) that will culminate in a comprehensive understanding of regional water quality issues and solutions. Through work experiences and responsibilities that change and evolve seasonally, the member will participate in a variety of efforts that develop into a single narrative of how towns and regions are dealing with the complex issues of water quality as they related to land use, transportation, development, and conservation, how water quality can be addressed at various locations in the watershed and among different groups (including governmental and non-governmental organizations), and how the state is turning to an "all-in" approach to developing solutions as mandated by the Clean Water Act.
 
Though the Service Member will assist in many aspects of water quality planning, both regionally and within municipalities, they will focus on three essential functions: road erosion inventories to help address water quality issues as a result of road drainage characteristics, water quality through supporting the regional water quality monitoring and sampling program, and public education and outreach through helping curate a water quality education center.
 
For more information on this position or the WRC's water quality initiatives, contact Emily Davis by email  or 257-4547 x116.
Windham Region Towns Submit 13 Better Roads Grant Applications

Development of the Municipal Roads General Permit (MRGP) is intended to achieve significant reductions in storm water-related erosion from municipal roads, both paved and unpaved. Municipalities are engaging in a road erosion inventory to inform a customized, multi-year plan to stabilize their road drainage system. The plan will include bringing road drainage systems up to basic maintenance standards, and additional corrective measures to reduce erosion as necessary, to meet standards required by the MRGP which is required by H.35/Act 64, the Vermont Clean Water Act. The Vermont Better Road Grant is a program for municipalities that provides funds for planning and implementation of erosion control projects that improve water quality and reduce maintenance costs.
 
The WRC supported 10 towns in applying for 13 Better Roads Grants this year. Eight of the towns, Dover, Dummerston, Jamaica, Putney, Readsboro, Rockingham, Vernon, and Wilmington, applied for category A Road Erosion Inventory grants. The WRC completed road erosion inventories for Stratton and Weston last year and is preparing to inventory Grafton, Halifax, Townshend, Westminster, and Windham this year. The WRC is preparing to begin these inventories in June. 
WRC STAFF
Executive Director

Associate Director

Office Manager

Finance Manager

Senior Planner

Planner

Planner

Senior Planner

Transportation Planner

Planner
WRC Awards Five Grants for Renewable Energy Development in Windham County

After reviewing an impressive array of applications to the Windham County Renewable Energy Program, the WRC selected five projects in support of solar energy, a combined heat and power biomass project, and a feasibility study for a major methane digester.  The funds were made available through funding set aside within the Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF) as part of the settlement between the state and Entergy Vermont Yankee.  The grant program supports renewable energy generation projects within Windham County.
 
The awardees were:
  • Windham Solid Waste Management District to complete a feasibility study for a major methane digester that would help the region meet the new organic recycling requirements
  • Allard Lumber for a biomass combined heat and electricity generation project.
  • SIT for a solar energy project that will integrate agriculture among the arrays.
  • Great River Terrace which will incorporate solar energy generation on the site of the Lamplighter Inn, which is being redeveloped by the Windham and Windsor Housing Trust to serve the formerly homeless.
  • Alpenglo which will install a solar facility to power the Vermont Distiller, the Hogback Mountain Gift Shop, the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum, Gus's Gardens and Hogback Properties LLC in Marlboro.
We are hopeful that additional funding will be made available through the CEDF to provide a second round of grant funding.
National Brownfields Grants Awarded!

Congratulations to the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center and Bellows Falls Area Development Corporation on their recent Brownfields awards!  Both organizations will each receive a $200,000 Environmental Protection Agency Brownfield Cleanup Grant.  

Arch Street
Brattleboro Museum and Art Center (BMAC) will use this funding to clean up their Arch Street property and allow the museum to expand their programming.  Bellows Falls Area Development Corporation (BFADC) applied for funding to clean up Robertson Paper Mill.  Redevelopment of this property, on the Island in Bellows Falls, is part of a first step to implement the Town of Rockingham's Island Redevelopment Plan.
 
Robertson Paper Mill
The Windham Region Brownfields Reuse Initiative (WRBRI) was established in 2000 with funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and has been working hard to promote vibrant communities by facilitating Brownfields redevelopment. WRC provided funding for assessment and clean up planning for both BMAC and BFADC projects.  WRC is excited that there are now additional resources for Brownfields clean up and looks forward to working with both organizations as they move forward on these new endeavors. For more information contact Susan McMahon at x114 or susan@windhamregional.org .
Green River Watershed Alliance
Seeks Grant Funding
 
Over the winter months, the WRC has been working with the Towns of Marlboro, Halifax, and Guilford to form the Green River Watershed Alliance (GRWA), a watershed collaborative that links the flood resilience and water quality planning efforts between the three municipalities. The WRC sees the value of these sub-basin watershed collaboratives as a way to support town planning, promote intermunicipal collaboration, and add administrative capacity to the town's existing water quality efforts.  The collaborative has been developed in partnership with the Windham County Natural Resource Conservation District and the ANR Watershed Division led by Marie Caduto,  as well as Vermont Rivers Conservancy, the Connecticut River Conservancy, Deerfield Watershed Association, Vermont Performance Lab, and the Brattleboro Museum and Arts Center. 
 
Led by Staff Planner Emily Davis, the GRWA has strong support from the officials of the three towns, and participation from local community members and landowners. The overarching project goals of the GRWA are to: enhance flood resilience through uniting long-term community development and ecological health, support community cohesion through initiating communication and collaboration between the towns in the watershed, establish a watershed identity by creating cultural connections between people and their place and supporting an improved relationship with the Green River, and improve water quality by implementing ecological restoration and conservation projects identified in the Green River Corridor Plan.
 
To accomplish these goals, the GRWA's planning team organized itself into three programmatic areas that will drive project implementation. These programmatic areas are planning assistance, conservation and restoration, and civic engagement. These categories were also selected because they directly address the Alliance's overarching goals.
 
The WRC is applying for funding for project implementation through the High Meadows Fund's Watershed Resilience program. During the 18-month grant period, the proposed project would pursue conservation easements in key riparian areas, hold community workshops and field trips on watershed dynamics, work towards reclassification of the Green River to A(1) waters, support water quality monitoring efforts, and partner with local creative organizations to unite watershed awareness and resilience with public arts initiatives.
 
For more information on this project of flood resilience efforts, contact Emily Davis at edavis@windhamregional.org , or 257-4547 x116.
Downtown and Village Center
Tax Credit Applications
 
 
Vermont's  Downtown and Village Center tax credit program is one of the primary benefits of Downtown and Village Center designation, and supports revitalization seen in community centers across the state.
 
In 2017, $2,200,000 in state income tax credits are available to projects that enhance the historic character and improve building safety of older and historic commercial buildings in these designated communities. The credits support general rehabilitation work, code compliance work, data and network wiring, and exterior improvements, and may be combined with the federal program.
 
Applications for the next round of tax credits are due July 1, 2017 and the Vermont Downtown Board will make is allocation decisions when it meets July 24, 2017.
 
The application is now available here . Applications or questions can be submitted electronically to caitlin.corkins@vermont.gov or to:
 
Caitlin Corkins
State of Vermont
Division for Community Planning & Revitalization
One National Life Drive
Davis Building, 6th Floor
Montpelier, VT 05620-0501
Town Bridge Pre-Candidates

So many transportation infrastructure needs and such limited funding to meet those needs!  How are projects prioritized by the state to determine what gets funded, when, and what is the role of regional planning commissions (RPCs) and their transportation committees? In 2005, the Vermont State Transportation Bill (H.523) was passed requiring the VTrans to develop a project prioritization system to serve as a basis for the annual transportation capital programming process. This legislation included a requirement for VTrans to use RPC priorities as a portion of the state prioritization system.

The Town Bridge Pre-Candidate Prioritization process is intended to push the most critical town bridges for which a full replacement is required into the VTrans Capital Program as a Town Bridge Candidate. The Town Bridge Pre-candidate program is unique among all VTrans programs in that local and regional input is officially a part of the process of determining candidate projects. The RPC and their Transportation Committee prioritize Capital Program Projects. Prioritizing Capital Program Projects helps to determine how quickly candidates move through VTrans Capital program.

The WRC facilitates a data collection, review, and Transportation Committee prioritization process. The Transportation Committee's priorities serve as the RPC input into Vtran's prioritization process.
How does this process work?
  • The WRC receives a list of pre-candidate bridges from VTrans.
  • The WRC reaches out to the towns with bridges  which VTrans ranked 6 or less on any one of their structural rankings on an annual basis and to each town with a Bridge on the VTran's list every 2-3 years, to solicit input and information about condition changes from the previous year. 
  • The primary town contact at this point in the process is typically the Road Foreman due to their familiarity with the bridge structure and condition, but we're happy to include anyone else the town feels is appropriate 
  • The WRC gathers additional information about each bridge location including regional crash data, traffic counts, bridge reports, recent images, and a regional map of pre-candidate projects as well as anything else the town wants us and VTrans to know
  • The WRC also coordinates with VTrans to obtain any missing information such as an off schedule emergency bridge report.
  • The WRC packages town input and provides the information it to the VTrans Regional Transportation Committee who utilizes the information to prioritize Town Bridge Pre-Candidates.
The WRC completed this process in March and submitted regional priorities to VTrans.  VTrans is currently in the process of re-evaluating, streamlining, and improving the prioritization process and the WRC is part of that conversation. 

For more detail about the Town Bridge Pre-Candidate Program, or to provide information about bridges of concern, contact WRC Transportation Planner Erica Roper at eroper@sover.net.

WRC Hosts Municipal Roads General Permit & Road Erosion Inventory Training

On Tuesday May 30th the WRC hosted a Municipal Roads General Permit / Road Erosion Inventory Training. Thank you to Jim Ryan from the Agency of Natural Resources for the well-received presentation on a challenging subject. The presentation introduced the water quality problems, the many different challenges, the permit being drafted, and the inventory to help towns move toward compliance with the permit. The training was attended by Road Foremen, Road Commissioners, Town Administrators and Managers, and Selectboard Members from 18 towns in the Windham Region and staff from two RPCs. Having a wide audience in the room led to interesting questions about the challenge and the opportunity Act 64 presents to towns and our role in supporting them.
 
As the WRC prepares to begin our second field season of Road Erosion inventories, we were glad to see that five of the six towns we will be inventorying this season attended the workshop. Seven of the nine towns that were awarded grants this year for the WRC to perform inventories next field season also attended.
 
A special thank you, to the town of Townshend for hosting this workshop, to the many people who helped pull the meeting together, and to everyone who attended the workshop.
WRC Delivers Energy Data for Municipalities
 
Vermont's current energy planning initiative is being driven by the planning standards outlined in Act 174, or Vermont's Energy Siting Law. The statute was put forth by recommendations from the state's 2016 Comprehensive Energy Plan.
 
As per their contractual requirements of "technical assistance to municipalities", all regional planning commissions in the state created a set of energy data for each of their member towns so the towns can write enhanced town plan energy elements that meet the Act 174 planning standards.  Municipalities have the option of writing these energy elements, which contain robust information and policy actions related to energy consumption, generation, and conservation. If towns choose to pursue Act 174-compliant energy plans, they may use this energy data in their plans in order to receive "substantial deference" before the Public Service Board in regards to energy development. Otherwise, the WRC encourages towns to dive into their energy data, which should help inform policy decisions.
 
The WRC released energy data for all 27 of its towns on April 30th. Staff planners Marion Major and Emily Davis hosted an energy planning information session in Dover on May 3rd to describe the energy data package and the overall intent of Act 174 municipal planning standards in the state context.
 
Included in the energy data package are: estimates of the town's current energy consumption across the transportation, heating, and electricity sectors; targets for energy conservation and efficiency; targets for energy generation; and a suite of maps showing a town's modeled energy resources and constraints on energy generation development.
 
Town officials were sent their respective town's energy data, but this information can also be accessed via a link on the WRC's Act 174 Energy Planning page. For more information, contact Emily Davis at edavis@windhamregional.org , or 257-4547 x116.
FROM THE DIRECTOR
  
Recognizing and Building Upon Southeastern Vermont's Workforce Diversity
 
The WRC made a financial contribution to support the expansion of the "I am a Vermonter" website to cover southeastern Vermont.  The website is a recruitment tool designed to celebrate and support diversity in the Vermont workforce by sharing the experiences of people of color and diverse ethnic backgrounds who already call the Windham Region their home.  The region's comprehensive economic development strategy recognizes that as the nation's population becomes more diverse, southeastern Vermont must diversify its workforce in order to remain competitive and sustainable. This tool is intended to help attract and recruit a more diverse workforce by sharing the experience of southeastern Vermonters in their own words.  This project originated in the Champlain Valley where businesses, schools, law enforcement, and other organizations have successfully incorporated "I am a Vermonter" into their portfolio of recruitment tools to build a competitive workforce.  You can visit the site here.
Windham Regional Commission 
139 Main Street, Suite 505
Brattleboro, VT 05301
Phone: (802) 257-4547
Fax: (802) 254-6383