**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
New England Grass Roots Environmental Fund
For more information click here.
USDA Rural Development - Community Facility Loans & Grants
DEADLINE: Ongoing (contact USDA office)
For more information click here.
Vermont Arts Council
Windham Regional Commission
Upcoming Grants will
be a regular column in the
WRC Newsletter, for
for your projects
please contact WRC at
Encouraging Words from Youth in Our Community
Marion Major presented energy challenges and opportunities which we face globally and locally and what we as an organization are doing to address these to the STEM students at Brattleboro High School. The students anonymously gave some encouraging words of reflection on energy in Vermont and RPC's role:
- "One of the bigger impressions the presentation had on me is how this organization made a clear cut path for average people to follow and actually make a difference."
- "Awareness is the best method that will bring us a greener planet. Awareness leads to action, and if awareness is spread, a lot of action can and probably will be taken."
- "I thought it was cool because I had no idea about all the stuff going on locally around energy initiatives. It was interesting to hear her talk about how it sometimes feels like the plan they spend hours on won't actually impact anything, and then how the data showed that it actually did. That seems like a big dilemma when working on an issue that huge."
- "I had no idea we had organizations like this so locally making such an impact on how energy is used and provided not only in our town, but our county as a whole. The idea of other energy sources besides fossil fuels, such as those little wood pellets for heating is straight up genius and I wish more people would use such energy sources."
Village Sanitation Pilot Study launches in Dummerston and Westminster
The Village Sanitation Pilot Study (VSPS) is a partnership project started in January 2018 between the WRC and the Rich Earth Institute (REI) that is taking a new approach to common wastewater problems that affects many communities in our Region.
Two villages were selected to participate in this study: West Dummerston and Westminster West, in the Towns of Dummerston and Westminster.
Together with participating homeowners, the VSPS project partners will be conducting a feasibility study in each neighborhood, examining the potential impacts of community-scale alternatives to conventional septic systems, such as composting and urine-diverting toilets. In September 2018, the WRC and the REI hosted two community launch meetings in each of the villages, to meet and greet with the enrolled participants, and be available to answer any questions about this innovative planning project.
To better assist its communities, the WRC is contracting with Conor Lally of Nutrient Networks, an ecological sanitation installation firm, to conduct in-home site visits throughout November. With the support of the WRC's ECO AmeriCorps Service Member Chris Gaynor, these site visits will help us learn about the specific needs of each home, and eventually zoom out to study the conditions of the landscape (such as soil data, superficial geology, and topography).
During these site visits, consenting participants are able to express concerns and to discuss options, make observations, and answer questions about ecological sanitation, including composting toilets and urine diversion. Conor and Chris will evaluate the merits of various technologies and methods based on installation requirements, technical features, maintenance requirements, cost, and regulatory and permitting considerations. During these visits, the homeowners are also asked to provide information about their existing septic systems, including type, age, condition, location, and service frequency.
After these site visits are conducted and the gathered information is consolidated, a written site visit report summarizing what had been observed during the in-home site visits will be provided, along with recommendations for each individual's home. In this way, enrolled homeowners are receiving free ecological sanitation consulting services. Homeowners are not obligated to take any action or pursue implementation of any new system, as this is project is still in the feasibility stage. The VSPS will instead explore the potential collective impacts of these individual systems, and attempt to identify alternative wastewater systems that can enable our historic villages to be healthy and vibrant.
To learn more about the details of the VSPS,
contact WRC Planner Emily Davis or visit the project's website.
Transportation Planning Tech
Fall Regional Road Foreman's Meeting - Cake and Hydroseeders
It was blue shirts and yellow equipment at the Dover Town Hall at the fall Windham Region Road Foreman's Meeting on October 16
, 2018. Road Foreman's meetings are held generally twice a year, and offer the opportunity for road foremen, members of the road crew, and other town staff to talk about their work.
The Dover road crew brought up a hydroseeder they have been renting for everyone to see, and to talk about their use of it to establish vegetation in roadside ditches--something that is now required on many roads as part of Vermont's new Municipal Roads General Permit. A representative from VTrans presented on the Better Roads grant program and showcased two recently-completed projects in Wilmington. WRC staff updated attendees on road erosion inventories and grants-in-aid work, and there was a discussion on road crew recruitment, retention, and succession planning.
The last topic was timely, as the road foremen of the Windham Region honored one of their own with a cake for Ralph Staib, Stratton road foreman. Ralph is retiring after many years of service to the town. Several WRC staff have been fortunate to spend time with Ralph in his truck recently, working with him on culvert inventories and grants-in-aid projects, while learning about the history of the area and hearing stories about epic snowfalls. Congratulations Ralph!
big "thank you" to Travis Briggs and Bob Holland of the Dover road crew for hosting the meeting!
WRC Annual Town Report Letters
Please note: Annual Town Report letters have been sent to all 27 towns in the Windham Region. Letters were sent by email
and a hard copy mailed to the Town Offices.
Vermont Secretary of Natural Resources Julie Moore
was guest speaker at the WRC's October Full Commission meeting held at the Brattleboro Museum and Arts Center. She spoke about the roles regional commissions play in natural resource issues and policies in the state, and her vision for those roles going into the future.
Stoked to Present Automated Wood Heat at Rev2018 Conference
Renewable Energy Vermont hosted their annual conference in Burlington October 18
with record numbers of participants. The conference brings together energy professionals, vendors, consultants, agencies, planners and stakeholders to learn and share. The two-day conference was packed with informative and engaging sessions on different aspects of energy across planning, outreach, and accessibility to name a few topics. WRC's Marion Major participated as a speaker on a panel discussing modern wood heat and all the work the Windham Wood Heat Initiative has accomplished and looks to accomplish in Windham County.
In the picture to the right, Marion Major and Emma Hanson from the Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation show off the Feel Good Heat tee-shirts at the conference.
They're stoked about automated wood heat!
Green River Watershed Alliance, WRC Hosts Storytelling Session for Guilford Flood Planning
On Wednesday, September 12th, the Windham Regional Commission, through the efforts of Staff Planner Emily Davis, assisted the Green River Watershed Alliance (GRWA) along with the Windham County Natural Resources Conservation District hosted "A Dark & Stormy Night...," a community storytelling forum and about flood hazards and community preparedness in Guilford. It came in light of infrastructure damage and the neighborhood response of the 2011 Tropical Storm Irene and other subsequent flooding events in southern Vermont. During the evening, members of the community gathered in the cafeteria of the Guilford Central School, around a large and interactive map of their town, created with colored masking tape outlining the roads and rivers right on the cafeteria floor. People stood up, and "walked" to areas in their town where they saw flood damage, and talked about their experiences in Irene.
In Guilford, there is a current proposal before the community to approve a proposed Flood and Fluvial Erosion Hazard Ordinance, which would limit certain kinds of development in the immediate floodplains and river corridors. If approved, this protective Ordinance would allow the Town of Guilford to receive higher Emergency Relief Assistance Fund (ERAF) reimbursement rates for declared disasters, such as during TS Irene. The conversation is lively and sometimes heated in Guilford, and the GRWA saw an opportunity to offer support to the community to conceptualize what resilience looks like in their town.
Over 50 people attended the event, and there were many good stories that were told. People celebrated their First Responders, talked about "how they never thought about their watersheds before...," and underscored how important local, neighbor-to-neighbor connections are in a national political climate that is critically divided.
As the storytelling event progressed, attending community members were asked to move, on the cafeteria floor, to where they were during TS Irene,
where they live, or where they work. People followed the familiar roads to place themselves on this interactive floor map, and noticed where they were in relationship to their neighbors, we saw where people were in their watersheds, and even which watersheds they live in. Even more powerfully, attendees were able to identify their neighbors who were in the uplands of a watershed, and those that live right in the valley floors and along the streams and rivers. Often in our day to day lives, we are not able to make these geographic connections. But by creating this large living map, Guilford residents were able to make the connection between who is upstream and downstream of them, and how their individual actions on their landscape may affect their neighbors.
One Guilford resident offered to emphasize the impact on watershed boundaries in town planning. In TS Irene, many neighbors were left stranded and unaware of what was happening elsewhere in town, since the rising wate
rs eroded many of our roads. Speaking in part metaphor, he noticed that, "Guilford has three different watersheds, and that means that there's hills or mountains or something else between us. And so, what that means is while we know that there is something going on in the Green River watershed, we're not certain of what's going on in Fall River or Broad Brook. So, I think it's interesting that when you're over there, can you see from there to here? That's the whole point of a water
shed; there are mountains and hills dividing us."
To close the evening, another Guilford resident offered concluding remarks: "Tonight was the first time that I really thought about our different watersheds that both threaten and connect us. And I heard a lot about the individual heroism and the sort of ordinary, 'awe-shucks,' 'let's-not-talk-about-it' heroism... And I have great trepidation that we'll have lots of other fl
ood events that come up, where it's hard to know in one place what's going on in another. But, I have a tremendous amount of confidence that the people that we have here in this room, and their children, will continue to come together for Guilford." Recalling the community response to flood disasters, she finished, "You know, we don't agree on everything here, but what we do all feel is that we'll do it again for each other, in the way we feel best."
Floodplain Administrator Brownbag Lunch Series Continues
Several Floodplain Administrators (FPAs) gathered again to discuss another important topic related to floodplain administration-mapping. Jeff Nugent led a discussion with the group on various mapping tools used by FPAs-FEMA's Map Service Center, the ANR Natural Resources Atlas, and the FloodReady Atlas. Despite some technical difficulties, there was a great presentation, a lot of knowledge shared, and the feedback from the group was positive. WRC will hold the next Floodplain Administrator Brownbag Lunch on February 12, 2019, where we will have John Broker-Campbell, ANR's Regional Floodplain Manager for the area, present to talk about the basics, and a bit more, and answer any questions FPAs might have about carrying out their role. Thanks to everyone who made it to our November brownbag and we look forward to seeing you again in February. WRC is always available to assist FPAs with questions, just contact
SEVCA's Community Solar for
Marion Major attended the ribbon cutting for SEVCA's first phase of solar installation. Marion spoke on behalf of the Energy Committee about the funds awarded to this project through WRC's Windham County Renewable Energy Program and the importance of bridging the gap in accessibility to renewable energy for low income populations. This project will total 150kW and the energy credits generated by the array will be allocated at an incentivized rate to households in energy poverty and using the emergency fuel program.
Thank You to Susan McMahon for 26 Years of Making A Difference in Windham Region Communities
It is with mixed emotions that we say farewell to Associate Director, Susan McMahon, as she leaves the Windham Regional Commission after 26 years of outstanding service to serve as the Executive Director of the Landmark Trust USA (
). Susan's tenure with the WRC ended on November 16th.
Susan has been a great partner as Associate Director since my tenure began a bit more than 8 years ago. She leaves behind a legacy of one of the most recognized Brownfields programs in New England and the U.S., stronger villages and downtowns, partnerships with a broad array of stakeholders, and the translation of plans into projects throughout the region. She will be missed! But her move to Landmark Trust USA is an outstanding opportunity for her and that organization as she'll help lead it to realize its full potential. Landmark Trust USA is an important regional asset and I'm sure we'll continue to work with Susan in her new capacity.
I hope you'll join me in thanking Susan for her service and congratulating her on this new chapter of her professional career!