WRC NEWSLETTER                                              OCTOBER 2016
Website  |   About  |   Meetings & Events  |   News  |   Committees  |   Publications  |   Towns |   Contact
IN THIS ISSUE
QUICK LINKS
WRC Commissioners
WRC CALENDAR
October 6, 6:00 pm:  

October 12, 2:00 pm:
 
October 18, 12:00 pm:
Local Emergency Planning (LEPC)
Mt. Snow Base Lodge, Dover, VT

October 25, 6:00 pm:
Full Commission
SIT, Brattleboro, VT 
**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
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 Community Development Program
DEADLINE:  Rolling
For more information click here.
 
Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development

Vermont Community Development Program

DEADLINE:  Rolling

 

Municipal Planning Grant

DEADLINE:  Oct 31, 2016


Vermont Community Foundation
DEADLINE:  Rolling
For more information click here.

VTRANS- Transportation Alternative Program

DEADLINE:  Oct 20, 2016

For more information click here

 
Windham Foundation
DEADLINE:  Nov 14, 2016
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 
On-Site Loan Program

The Vermont Wastewater and Potable Water Revolving Loan Fund, also known as the On-site Loan Program, is available to certain Vermont residents for the repair or replacement of failed on-site wastewater and water supply systems.

For more information, please view the Fact Sheet, below.
 
 
 
Pre-Qualification Application - Use this version if you want to print the application and complete as a paper copy.
Draft Energy Compliance Standards Released

The Department of Public Service (DPS) has released draft standards for issuing a determination of energy compliance. This determination is necessary for any community that will be seeking "substantial deference" instead of "due consideration" in a Section 248 proceeding relating to renewable energy generation facilities. Act 174, which was passed this summer, offers communities the opportunity for a stronger voice in the 248 process if they develop a more comprehensive energy plan as part of their municipal plan. 

The draft standards are available for review from DPS website. They will be accepting comments through October 20, 2016. A public hearing will be held by DPS on October 11, 2016 from 5:30-7:30 at the Chandler Music Hall in Randolph, VT. We urge any community that intends to seek a determination of energy compliance to review the draft standards and provide comments to the Department of Public Service.

For more information, or to submit comments please email the DPS.

Substantial deference means that a land conservation measure or specific policy shall be applied in accordance with its terms unless there is a clear and convincing demonstration that other factors affecting the general good of the State outweigh the application of the measure or policy. (As defined by Act 174.)

Article: TRORC News & Notes October 2016
WRC STAFF
Executive Director

Associate Director

Office Manager

Finance Manager

Senior Planner

Planner

Senior Planner

Planner
Saxtons River Watershed Collaborative Looks Forward to Future Projects
 
The Saxtons River Watershed Collaborative comprised of members from groups, schools, town officials, and organizations within the watershed met at the beginning of September to update the team of project developments.  The group has been funded by the High Meadows Fund to create and foster a watershed identity throughout the towns and communities along the river.  The collaborative has worked on several flood resiliency projects including planting 1,360 trees, pursuing 6 conservation easements on river corridor properties, and setting up an educational center.  Since the group last met, the educational center has found a home in the Retreat Farms in Brattleboro. 

In a recent meeting with the Collaborative, the group unanimously decided to move forward as a cohesive organization beyond the end of the first round of High Meadows Fund support, pursuing its original vision.  The Collaborative is looking forward to organizing more buffer plantings with the schools and community partners, expanding upon the educational center by offering workshops, working more on watershed identity within communities upstream and downstream, and exploring how to quantify flood resiliency.  These are just a few project goals among many others including culvert replacement and stream reclassification. 

The Collaborative is a group that has created cohesion, communication, and understanding throughout the watershed.  We look forward to seeing more groups of this kind develop in the many watersheds throughout the region.
WRC Bids Farewell to Tim Petersen
 
WRC said goodbye recently to Tim Petersen, our very capable and hard-working summer GIS employee, seen here  at Towh Hill Park in Whitingham after setting out a traffic counter for the last time.  Tim got to know thoroughly the back roads of the Windham Region with his many traffic and pedestrian counts.  Within his first two weeks at WRC, he'd visted every one of our 27 towns, and was inspired to camp in Somerset and hike Glastenbury Mountain.  We wish Tim well as he continues his studies in the Geography Department at Keene State College!
Evacuation Plan Template Now Available

At an LEPC-6 meeting, a request was made for assistance in evacuation planning for towns.  Emergency Planner, Alyssa Sabetto, has developed an "Evacuation Plan template" for towns to customize for their unique circumstances.  In putting this template together, Alyssa received information from several town officials, VT State Police, VT Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living, VT Agency of Human Services, and VT Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS).  This template is available by contacting Alyssa or visiting our Emergency Planning webpage.  The template has been approved by Vermont DEMHS and will become a new appendix in the 2017 LEOP (it will not be a requirement).
 
This template is meant to help towns create an evacuation plan and evacuation mapping.  In doing so, keep in mind that it is important to talk with the larger facilities present in your town, including, resorts, medical facilities/clinics, schools, daycare centers, nursing homes or senior centers, and those who may need special assistance during an evacuation.  This serves to coordinate evacuation planning and set expectations beforehand so no one is left wondering who will do what when.  In creating your plan and mapping, consider creating a front/back handout with information and mapping for residents to have should an evacuation be necessary (see appendix 4 of the template for an example).  The Evacuation Plan template contains general guidance information that would be relevant to all towns in advance of and during an evacuation, and it is modifiable so towns can add specifics for their own purposes.  There are eight appendices included that should be specified for your town to be of use.
 
If your town already has an evacuation plan and evacuation mapping developed please let Alyssa know.  Also, make this an opportunity to review and update your current plan.  Does your plan contain the elements in the attached template?  Have you recently talked with and coordinated evacuation planning expectations with the relevant facilities and other town stakeholders? Do you have evacuation mapping developed, and have you shared that with your residents so they are educated about this issue?  These are some considerations to make in reviewing your current evacuation planning efforts.
 
If you have questions, need assistance, or would like us to review a plan with you,please contact Alyssa at asabetto@windhamregional.org or 257-4547 ext. 108.
Transportation Board Announces Public Forums on Rail

The Vermont Transportation Board will hold seven public forums this fall for the purpose of gathering public comment about State transportation policy associated with trains, both passenger and freight.

Working with the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) and the state's 11 Regional Planning Commissions, the Board identified rail as a topic of growing importance to many Vermonters. The Board wants to discuss railroad issues with the public to determine how future transportation policy can be shaped to best position Vermont's rail interests to meet the needs of the state residents.

"Vermont is poised to significantly expand passenger rail in the very near future, while at the same time the state also is seeking growth opportunities for both the movement and off-loading of freight," said David Coen, Acting Chair of the Transportation Board. "As a result, we want to have a conversation with Vermonters to both hear their suggestions as well as understand their concerns regarding these new services and how the state uses its rail lines."

The Transportation Board each year travels around the state to meet with Vermonters and discuss important transportation issues. While this year's focus on trains will naturally attract citizens who live along or near railroad tracks, the Board encourages anyone interested in the future of rail to attend.

Topics the Board plans to discuss include:
  • Living with railroads as neighbors, and the issues they present.
  • Passenger rail expansion along Vermont's western corridor between Rutland and Burlington.
  • Passenger rail expansion from various points in Vermont to Montreal.
  • Truck traffic through villages and town centers, and the effect of rail expansion.
  • Adjacent rail-side economic development and planning for increased rail activity.
  • Starting commuter rail service linking Brattleboro to various points in Massachusetts.
  • Rail safety, including crossings, trespassing and response to potential emergency incidents.
At each forum, the Board will present background information regarding each topic to set the stage for discussion and comment. Following the forums, the Board will submit a written report to both VTrans and the Vermont Legislature. The Board also will post the report on its website.

The Board will hold public forums on the following dates:
  1. October 17: Bixby Library, 6:30 p.m., 258 Main Street, Vergennes. VT.
  2. October 20: The Gateway Center, 6 p.m., 84 Fyfe Drive, Newport, VT.
  3. October 27: The Holiday Inn Rutland, 6 p.m., 476 Holiday Drive, Rutland, VT.
  4. November 9: Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, 6 p.m., 10 Vernon Street, Brattleboro, VT.
  5. November 10: St. Albans Museum, 6:30 p.m., 9 Church Street, St. Albans City, VT.
  6. November 14: Main Street Landing's Lake & College Building, 6:30 p.m. Gallery Room, second floor, 60 Lake Street, Burlington, VT.
  7. November 16: Hotel Coolidge, 6 p.m., 39 South Main Street, White River Junction, VT.
  8. People who cannot attend a hearing can submit written comment by visiting the Board's website
The forums are being conducted pursuant to Title 19 V.S.A. § 5(d)(8), which charges the Transportation Board to work together with the Agency of Transportation to hold public hearings "for the purpose of obtaining public comment on the development of state transportation policy, the mission of the Agency, and state transportation planning, capital programming and program implementation."

For more information, contact the Board's Executive Secretary John Zicconi at john.zicconi@vermont.gov or by calling 802-828-2942. 
Button Up Day of Action is Coming - November 
12th
 
Button Up Vermont Day of Action is coming on November 12th and Efficiency Vermont is hoping town energy committees and other organizations will participate.  Button Up Vermont is a multi-media awareness campaign culminating in a statewide day of action where neighbors help neighbors prepare their homes for winter, and save energy. Throughout the campaign, Vermonters are encouraged to do things large and small to save energy and live more sustainably. Specifically, they are encouraged to generate custom Button Up check-lists online, complete their energy-saving tasks throughout the campaign, send photos of completed tasks or check-lists, and participate in a community event on November 12. Efficiency Vermont is also alerting retail partners and inviting them to participate by stocking weatherization products, lighting, and other efficient products.
 
How can Efficiency Vermont support you?
Efficiency Vermont is prepared to support organizing efforts in a number of ways. First, they have a number of educational materials and resources available for you to complement your Button Up efforts. They can provide hard copies of Button Up checklists,  Button Up poster, and Button Up business cards. They have also developed a Guide to Community Energy Engagement Activities that includes step-by-step guides for how to organize the following: home energy parties, phone-a-thons, workshops, home energy visits, door-to-door campaigns, and partnerships with contractors.
 
What is your role?
As community partners Efficiency Vermont needs your help in spreading the word and engaging your neighbors.   They are seeking your help in engaging residents in your community - whether it is through setting up a table at Election Day or holding a Button Up workshop or one of the other myriad of ways that you have selected to do so.   At a minimum, they are asking town energy committees and other local energy groups to: 
  • Visit the Button Up Vermont website and post your event. Please ask your neighbors to visit the site as well to build a Button Up checklist, complete a task, and submit a photo-and be entered into a raffle to win prizes.
  • Visit the Button Up Facebook page. Like and share it; say you're going to attend the event on Facebook; and invite friends to like the page and attend the event on Facebook.
  • Community Energy Dashboard: After you have built your check-list, completed the tasks, and submitted a photo on the Button Up website, add your action to the Community Energy Dashboard.
Statewide partners include: Efficiency Vermont, Capstone Community Action, Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network, Energy Action Network, Green Mountain Power, and Burlington Electric, and Vermont Energy Education Program.   If you have questions or are interested in support from Efficiency Vermont around Button Up Vermont, please contact Kathleen Brown at kbrown@veic.org   (888 921 5990 x7740).  Of course, please feel free to reach out to me at pmarkowitz@veic.org , or (888 921-5990 x7608).  Attached please find a list of all the grantees. 
FROM THE DIRECTOR
 
 
Water Talk
 
Often it's tough to know the value of water until you can't drink it, you can't swim in it, you can't fish in it, it can't support the creatures and plants that are supposed to live in or around it, it's too muddy or warm or cold, or it's simply not there anymore.
 
Especially in the humid east, we assume it's just there and will be there as it's always been there, until it's not.
 
But when it comes to improving water quality and conserving and preserving water habitat, we tend to think a lot more about costs than benefits.  Benefits are shared by everyone.  The costs are born by someone: a property owner, a town, a business, a farm, a hydro facility.  Costs for controlling erosion, or nutrients, or waste, or managing flows, show up in someone's accounting as personnel hours, materials, and equipment, or perhaps as land taken out of agricultural production, or trees not harvested, or water not flowing through turbines. 
 
On the other hand, we tend not to think about the costs of water sweeping through our communities, or our homes, or our businesses, until it does.  If we do think about the costs before the waters rage, it tends to be in the context of flood insurance, and often how to get around paying it.
 
When the waters do rage?  We ask who will pay.
 
So this is why we plan.  We need to do more to bring all of this together, and raise consciousness about how flood resilience, water quality, and habitat quality interrelate.  About how emergency preparedness, quality of life, and peace of mind interrelate.  About how decisions by one property owner or one municipality add up to cumulative effects within a basin or watershed.  This is what regional plans and town plans and hazard mitigation plans and zoning bylaws and flood hazard bylaws can help us do.  If we have the interest, and if we have the will.
 
Ultimately protecting and restoring our waters is about being good stewards of a resource that none of us really own, but from which we all benefit.  We need to share the costs as a community, and we need to be more mindful about first doing no harm.
 
I'll leave you with this thought from Wendell Berry from his essay "Watershed and Commonwealth" in his book The Citizenship Papers:
 
"Such pondering on the facts of gravity and the fluidity of water shows us that the golden rule speaks to a condition of absolute interdependency and obligation.  People who live on rivers - or, in fact, anywhere in a watershed - might rephrase the rule in this way: Do unto those downstream as you'd have those upstream do unto you." 
Windham Regional Commission 
139 Main Street, Suite 505
Brattleboro, VT 05301
Phone: (802) 257-4547
Fax: (802) 254-6383