Month: December 2020

Historic covered bridge in Townshend closed due to safety concerns

Historic covered bridge in Townshend closed due to safety concerns

first_imgThe Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) has closed the historic Scott Bridge in the Town of Townshend.  A recent inspection led to the recommendation that the covered bridge be closed to all traffic, including pedestrians. Primarily a tourist destination since Tropical Storm Irene, the bridge has been used as a school bus drop-off point and pedestrian crossing due to the closure of the nearby Townshend Dam Road.‘We understand the disruption this closure is going to cause the neighbors who have been using the bridge during the road closure,’ said Transportation Secretary Brian Searles. ‘But public safety is our first responsibility and when a report recommends closure, we must act upon that recommendation.’The bridge is owned by the Division for Historic Preservation and has been closed to vehicular traffic for many years. The Town of Townshend is working to replace a destroyed culvert and reopen Townshend Dam Road.last_img read more

Merchants Bancshares announces Q1 2012 earnings increase of 17 percent over 2011

Merchants Bancshares announces Q1 2012 earnings increase of 17 percent over 2011

first_imgMerchants Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ: MBVT), the parent company of Merchants Bank, today announced net income of $3.61 million, or diluted earnings per share of $0.58 for the three months ended March 31, 2012, compared to earnings of $3.10 million, or diluted earnings per share of $0.50 for the three months ended March 31, 2011, a 17% increase. The return on average assets was 0.89% for the quarter ended March 31, 2012, compared to 0.84% for the same period in 2011. The return on average equity was 13.15% for the quarter ended March 31, 2012, compared to 12.54% for the same period in 2011. We previously announced the declaration of a dividend of $0.28 per share, payable May 17, 2012, to shareholders of record as of May 3, 2012. This quarter represents our 62nd consecutive quarterly dividend payment and our 26th consecutive quarter at the current payout level. “The first quarter continued our trend of increasing loans, deposits and net interest income. These results combined with a solid increase in non-interest income to produce a significant increase in earnings versus the first quarter of 2011,” commented Michael R. Tuttle, our President and Chief Executive Officer. Total assets ended the quarter at $1.63 billion, an increase of $16.84 million over year end 2011. Total shareholders’ equity ended the quarter at $112.13 million. Our book value per share was $17.97 at March 31, 2012. Our Tier 1 leverage ratio was 7.94%, total risk-based capital ratio was 15.95% and tangible capital ratio was 6.88% at March 31, 2012. We achieved a new record high in our loan portfolio for the second consecutive quarter. Ending loan balances at March 31, 2012 were $1.04 billion, an increase of $13.38 million from ending loan balances at December 31, 2011. The following table summarizes the components of our loan portfolio as of the periods indicated:  March 31, December 31, (In thousands) 2012 2011 —————- —————- Commercial, financial and agricultural $ 146,660 $ 146,990 Municipal loans 100,371 101,705 Real estate loans – residential 446,480 439,818 Real estate loans – commercial 330,873 313,915 Real estate loans – construction 11,884 18,993 Installment loans 4,411 5,806 All other loans 330 399 —————- —————- Total loans $ 1,041,009 $ 1,027,626 —————- —————- Growth in our residential real estate loan portfolio continues to be driven by increased mortgage refinance volume due to the very low interest rate environment. Growth in our commercial real estate loan portfolio reflects the acquisition of new customers and the migration from construction loans to term financing. We recorded a $250 thousand provision for credit losses during the first quarter of 2012, compared to no provision during the first quarter of 2011. Our credit quality improved further during the quarter. Nonperforming assets totaled $2.67 million, at March 31, 2012, compared to $2.87 million at December 31, 2011. Additionally, loans past due 30-89 days were $57 thousand, or .01% of loans, at March 31, 2012, compared to $709 thousand, or .06% of loans at December 31, 2011. We booked recoveries totaling $29 thousand during the first quarter of 2012, and there were no charge-offs during the period. “Credit costs continue to be very modest. All measures of asset quality including delinquency, non-performing loans and net charge-offs continued to improve and rank amongst the strongest in the industry,” commented Mr. Tuttle. We continued to enjoy strong deposit growth during 2012 and also achieved a new record for deposits for the second consecutive quarter. Total deposits at March 31, 2012 increased $22.78 million to $1.20 billion compared to $1.18 billion at December 31, 2011. The composition of the deposit base continues to shift away from time deposits and into transaction accounts. Almost all of the growth during the quarter was in our money market categories. Our liquidity position remained strong during the first quarter of 2012. Our investment portfolio totaled $508.17 million at March 31, 2012, a slight decrease from the December 31, 2011 ending balance of $512.31 million. Our taxable equivalent net interest income was $12.97 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2012, an increase of $805 thousand over the same period in 2011, and an increase of $47 thousand over the fourth quarter of 2011. Our taxable equivalent net interest margin decreased 11 basis points to 3.34% for the first quarter of 2012, compared to 3.45% for the same period in 2011, and decreased 3 basis points when compared to the fourth quarter of 2011. Our continued growth in earning assets has allowed us to increase net interest income in spite of margin compression. Average earning assets for the first quarter of 2012 were $1.56 billion, an increase of $129.76 million over the first quarter of 2011, and an increase of $40.52 million over the fourth quarter of 2011. The extended low interest rate environment continues to present a challenge and our assets continue to reprice down at a steady rate. We have, however, succeeded in moving liability costs down modestly, which has helped to offset some of the decrease in asset yields. Total noninterest income increased to $2.36 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2012, compared to $2.09 million for the same period in 2011. Excluding net gains (losses) on security sales, noninterest income increased $182 thousand to $2.29 million for the first quarter of 2012 compared to $2.10 million for the first quarter of 2011. The increase for the first quarter of 2012 compared to the first quarter of 2011 is primarily a result of increases in net debit card income and Trust division income. Net debit card fees were $718 thousand, an increase of $64 thousand compared to the same period in 2011, and Trust division income was $657 thousand, an increase of $34 thousand over the first quarter of 2011. Other categories of noninterest income were generally flat for the first quarter of 2012 compared to the first quarter of 2011. Service charges on deposits decreased $126 thousand when comparing the first quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2011; this is primarily a result of reduced overdraft fee income for the first quarter of this year when compared to the fourth quarter of last year. Total noninterest expense was $10.10 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2012, compared to $10.11 million for the first quarter of 2011. Compensation and benefits were slightly higher at $5.19 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2012, compared to $5.16 million for the same period in 2011. Normal salary increases and an increased incentive accrual were offset by credits related to loan origination fees. A change we made to our health insurance plan for 2012 resulted in a $49 thousand reduction in health and group insurance expense for the first quarter of 2012 compared to 2011. Compensation and benefits were $215 thousand higher when comparing the first quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2011. Benefit expenses are generally highest in the first quarter of the year because of the front loading of expenses related to taxes and other employee benefits. Occupancy and Equipment expenses were $1.88 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2012, compared to $1.83 million for the same period in 2011. Expense reductions related to our mild winter were offset by increased equipment expenses resulting from capital investments made during 2011. Marketing expenses for the first quarter of 2012 were $411 thousand compared to $339 thousand for the first quarter of 2011. Our entry into television media as part of our overall marketing mix is the primary driver of the added expense. FDIC insurance expense for the first quarter of 2012 was $215 thousand, compared to $352 thousand for the same period in 2011, a result of the new deposit insurance assessment rules that went into effect on April 1, 2011. Michael R. Tuttle, our President and Chief Executive Officer, Janet P. Spitler, our Chief Financial Officer and Geoffrey R. Hesslink, our Senior Lender and Executive Vice President, will host a conference call to discuss these earnings results at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, April 25, 2012. Interested parties may participate in the conference call by dialing U.S. number (800) 230-1059; the title of the call is Merchants Bancshares, Inc. Earnings Call. Participants are asked to call a few minutes prior to register. A replay will be available until noon on Friday, May 4, 2012. The U.S. replay dial-in telephone number is (800) 475-6701. The international replay telephone number is (320) 365-3844. The replay access code for both replay telephone numbers is 222041. Merchants Bank was established in 1849 in Burlington, Vermont. Our continuing mission is to provide Vermonters with a statewide community bank that combines a strong technology platform with a genuine appreciation for local markets. We deliver this commitment through a branch-based system that includes 33 community bank offices and 40 ATMs throughout Vermont; local community banking managers and personal bankers dedicated to high-quality customer service; online banking, phone banking, and electronic bill payment services; high-value depositing programs that feature Cash Rewards Checking, Rewards Checking for Business, business cash management, money market accounts, health savings accounts, certificates of deposit, Flexible CD, IRAs, and overdraft assurance; feature-rich loan programs including mortgages, home equity credit, vehicle loans, personal and small business loans and lines of credit; and merchant card processing. We offer a strong set of commercial and government banking solutions, delivered by experienced banking officers in markets throughout the state; these teams provide customized financing for medium-to-large companies, non-profits, cities, towns, and school districts. Merchants Trust Company provides investment management, financial planning and trustee services. Please visit www.mbvt.com(link is external) for access to our information, programs, and services. Our stock is traded on the NASDAQ National Market system under the symbol MBVT. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. Non-GAAP Financial Measure. In addition to results presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”), this press release contains certain non-GAAP financial measures. In several places net interest income is presented on a fully taxable equivalent basis. Specifically included in interest income was tax-exempt interest income from certain tax-exempt loans. An amount equal to the tax benefit derived from this tax exempt income is added back to the interest income total, to produce net interest income on a fully taxable equivalent basis. The amount added back was $530 thousand and $409 thousand for the three months ended March 31, 2012 and March 31, 2011, respectively. An additional non-GAAP financial measure we use is the tangible equity ratio. Because we have no intangible assets, our tangible equity is the same as our book equity. We believe that the supplemental non-GAAP information is utilized by regulators and market analysts to evaluate a company’s financial condition and therefore, such information is useful to investors. These disclosures should not be viewed as a substitute for financial results determined in accordance with GAAP, nor are they necessarily comparable to non-GAAP performance measures which may be presented by other companies. Because non-GAAP financial measures are not standardized, it may not be possible to compare these financial measures with other companies’ non-GAAP financial measures having the same or similar names. Certain statements contained in this press release that are not historical facts may constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and are intended to be covered by the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties. These statements, which are based on certain assumptions and describe Merchants’ future plans, strategies and expectations, can generally be identified by the use of the words “may,” “will,” “should,” “could,” “would,” “plan,” “potential,” “estimate,” “project,” “believe,” “intend,” “anticipate,” “expect,” “target” and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are based on the current assumptions and beliefs of management and are only expectations of future results. Our actual results could differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements as a result of, among others, general, national, regional or local economic conditions which are less favorable than anticipated, including continued global recession, impacting the performance of our investment portfolio, quality of credits or the overall demand for services; changes in loan default and charge-off rates which could affect the allowance for credit losses; declines in the equity and financial markets; reductions in deposit levels which could necessitate increased and/or higher cost borrowing to fund loans and investments; declines in mortgage loan refinancing, equity loan and line of credit activity which could reduce net interest and non-interest income; changes in the domestic interest rate environment and inflation; changes in the carrying value of investment securities and other assets; misalignment of our interest-bearing assets and liabilities; increases in loan repayment rates affecting interest income and the value of mortgage servicing rights; changing business, banking, or regulatory conditions or policies, or new legislation affecting the financial services industry, such as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, that could lead to changes in the competitive balance among financial institutions, restrictions on bank activities, changes in costs (including deposit insurance premiums), increased regulatory scrutiny, declines in consumer confidence in depository institutions, or changes in the secondary market for bank loan and other products; and changes in accounting rules, federal and state laws, IRS regulations, and other regulations and policies governing financial holding companies and their subsidiaries which may impact our ability to take appropriate action to protect our financial interests in certain loan situations. You should not place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements, and are cautioned that forward-looking statements are inherently uncertain. Actual performance and results of operations may differ materially from those projected or suggested in the forward-looking statements due to certain risks and uncertainties, which are included in more detail in our Annual Report on Form 10-K, as updated by our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and other filings submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission. We do not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statement to reflect circumstances or events that occur after the date the forward-looking statements are made.   Merchants Bancshares, Inc. Financial Highlights (unaudited) (Dollars in thousands except share and per share data) March 31, December 31, March 31, December 31, ———- ————- ———- ————- 2012 2011 2011 2010 ———- ————- ———- ————-Balance Sheets – Period EndTotal assets $1,628,711 $ 1,611,869 $1,491,186 $ 1,487,644Loans 1,041,009 1,027,626 922,127 910,794Allowance for loan losses (“ALL”) 11,049 10,619 10,232 10,135Net loans 1,029,960 1,017,007 911,895 900,659Investments-taxable 508,170 512,309 477,030 466,756Federal Home Loan Bank (“FHLB”) stock 8,145 8,630 8,630 8,630Cash and due from banks 27,003 10,392 10,891 11,753Interest earning cash and other short-term investments 17,161 27,420 45,542 62,273Other assets 38,272 36,111 37,198 37,573Non-interest bearing deposits 195,347 197,522 135,765 141,412Savings, interest bearing checking and money market accounts 658,141 632,110 595,814 584,582Time deposits 347,173 348,248 367,083 366,202Total deposits 1,200,661 1,177,880 1,098,662 1,092,196Securities sold under agreement to repurchase and other short-term debt 265,009 262,527 211,758 227,657Securities sold under agreement to repurchase, long-term — — 7,500 7,500Other long-term debt 22,542 22,562 31,119 31,139Junior subordinated debentures issued to unconsolidated subsidiary trust 20,619 20,619 20,619 20,619Other liabilities 7,751 18,744 20,669 9,202Shareholders’ equity 112,129 109,537 100,859 99,331 Balance Sheets – Quarter-to-Date AveragesTotal assets $1,618,984 $ 1,564,335 $1,480,601 $ 1,488,753Loans 1,034,277 1,014,105 916,384 905,048Allowance for loan losses 10,736 10,584 10,259 10,676Net loans 1,023,541 1,003,521 906,125 894,372Investments-taxable 507,593 443,713 461,287 475,046FHLB stock 8,507 8,630 8,630 8,630Interest earning cash and other short-term investments 21,686 53,907 44,816 48,217Other assets 57,657 54,564 59,743 62,488Non-interest bearing deposits 195,425 190,864 139,670 143,175Savings, interest bearing checking and money market accounts 640,937 622,208 585,157 571,742Time deposits 347,791 349,832 365,865 365,873Total deposits 1,184,153 1,162,904 1,090,692 1,080,790Securities sold under agreement to repurchase and other short-term debt 271,712 240,733 220,209 205,529Securities sold under agreement to repurchase, long-term — — 7,500 38,353Other long-term debt 22,549 22,569 31,127 31,145Junior subordinated debentures issued to unconsolidated subsidiary trust 20,619 20,619 20,619 20,619Other liabilities 10,059 9,783 11,540 13,621Shareholders’ equity 109,892 107,727 98,914 98,696Interest earning assets 1,560,875 1,520,355 1,431,117 1,436,942Interest bearing liabilities 1,303,608 1,255,961 1,230,477 1,233,261 Ratios and Supplemental Information – Period EndBook value per share $ 18.90 $ 18.54 $ 17.14 $ 16.95Book value per share (1) $ 17.97 $ 17.57 $ 16.28 $ 16.06Tier I leverage ratio 7.94% 8.08% 8.06% 7.90%Total risk-based capital ratio 15.95% 15.92% 16.05% 16.10%Tangible capital ratio (2) 6.88% 6.80% 6.76% 6.68%Period end common shares outstanding (1) 6,240,525 6,232,783 6,195,463 6,186,363 Credit Quality – Period EndNonperforming loans (“NPLs”) $ 2,315 $ 2,511 $ 3,736 $ 4,104Nonperforming assets (“NPAs”) $ 2,665 $ 2,869 $ 3,907 $ 4,295NPLs as a percent of total loans 0.22% 0.24% 0.41% 0.45%NPAs as a percent of total assets 0.16% 0.18% 0.26% 0.29%ALL as a percent of NPLs 477% 423% 274% 247%ALL as a percent of total loans 1.06% 1.03% 1.11% 1.11%(1) This book value and period end common shares outstanding includes 309,175; 325,703; 310,250; and 327,100 Rabbi Trust shares for the periods noted above, respectively.(2) The tangible capital ratio is a non-GAAP financial measure which we believe provides investors with information that is useful in understanding our financial performance. Because we have no intangible assets, our tangible equity is the same as our book equity. For the Three Months Ended ————————————— March 31, March 31, December 31, ———– ———– ————- 2012 2011 2011 ———– ———– ————-Operating ResultsInterest incomeInterest and fees on loans $ 11,329 $ 10,999 $ 11,441Interest and dividends on investments 3,090 3,052 2,949Total interest and dividend income 14,419 14,051 14,390Interest expenseDeposits 960 1,201 1,030Short-term borrowings 576 592 523Long-term debt 447 506 452Total interest expense 1,983 2,299 2,005Net interest income 12,436 11,752 12,385Provision (credit) for credit losses 250 — 250Net interest income after provision for credit losses 12,186 11,752 12,135Noninterest incomeTrust Company income 657 623 622Service charges on deposits 977 962 1,103Gain (loss) on investment securities, net 76 (10) 2Other-than-temporary impairment losses on securities — — (55)Equity in losses of real estate limited partnerships, net (410) (457) (442)Other noninterest income 1,061 975 1,085Total noninterest income 2,361 2,093 2,315Noninterest expenseCompensation and benefits 5,188 5,159 4,973Occupancy and equipment expenses 1,878 1,830 1,813Legal and professional fees 611 603 713Marketing expenses 411 339 474State franchise taxes 328 313 314FDIC insurance 215 352 196Other real estate owned 33 16 65Other noninterest expense 1,439 1,499 1,350Total noninterest expense 10,103 10,111 9,898Income before provision for income taxes 4,444 3,734 4,552Provision for income taxes 831 633 843Net income $ 3,613 $ 3,101 $ 3,709 Ratios and Supplemental InformationWeighted average common shares outstanding 6,237,232 6,188,546 6,229,430Weighted average diluted shares outstanding 6,252,418 6,200,173 6,243,632Basic earnings per common share $ 0.58 $ 0.50 $ 0.60Diluted earnings per common share $ 0.58 $ 0.50 $ 0.59Return on average assets 0.89% 0.84% 0.95%Return on average shareholders’ equity 13.15% 12.54% 13.77%Average yield on loans 4.61% 5.05% 4.68%Average yield on investments 2.45% 2.61% 2.57%Average yield of interest earning assets 3.85% 4.10% 3.89%Average cost of interest bearing deposits 0.39% 0.51% 0.42%Average cost of borrowed funds 1.31% 1.59% 1.36%Average cost of interest bearing liabilities 0.61% 0.76% 0.63%Net interest rate spread 3.24% 3.34% 3.26%Net interest margin 3.34% 3.45% 3.37%Net interest income on a fully taxable equivalent basis $ 12,966 $ 12,161 $ 12,919Net recoveries (charge-offs) to Average Loans 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%Net recoveries (charge-offs) $ 29 $ 2 $ 14Efficiency ratio (1) 62.16% 66.51% 61.55%(1) The efficiency ratio excludes amortization of intangibles, equity in losses of real estate limited partnerships, OREO expenses, gain/loss on sales of securities, state franchise taxes, and any significant nonrecurring items.Note: As of March 31, 2012, the Bank had off-balance sheet liabilities in the form of standby letters of credit to customers in the amount of $4.01 million. SOUTH BURLINGTON, VT–(Marketwire – April 23, 2012) –last_img read more

VTel hires Karen Marshall as new Data Network President

VTel hires Karen Marshall as new Data Network President

first_imgVtel Internet,Vermont Telephone Company, Inc (VTel) announced Tuesday evening that Governor Peter Shumlin’s “broadband czar,” Karen Marshall, is joining the company as president of VTel Data Network.Marshall has been shepherding the governor’s plan (Connect VT) to bring broadband coverage to 100 percent of Vermont by the end of 2013. VTel has received $116 million from the federal government as part of that effort, the largest single share of any telecom company in the state. Karen is a talented telecommunications professional with a unique set of leadership skills to enhance the capacity of our team, said VTel Chairman Michel Guité.VTels 1,400 mile optical fiber network offers first-in-Vermont speeds to 100 billion bits per second connecting Montreal, New York, Boston and Cambridge, MA, with Burlington, Hanover, and Springfield, and serves some of the largest universities, research institutions, and financial firms in Canada and the Northeast.  VTel is working very hard to build and deliver world class voice, video, wired and wireless data services within very demanding time commitments to federal and state partners, Guité added. Karens international experience in Canada and the US make her a tremendous asset to lead development of our multi-state Canada-US fiber network, and to help meet our overall build requirements. Marshall, from Williston, has held many executive positions at communications firms in Vermont. She served as Chief Operating Officer at SecurShred, a Vermont owned and operated business providing confidential document shredding, imaging, storage and electronic waste services throughout the region. Prior to that, she served as Vice President Northern New England for Comcast Spotlight, the advertising division of Comcast Cable, and Vice President/Vermont for Clear Channel Communications, where she managed 15 radio stations. Previous to that she was at WEZF radio. Marshall has played an active role in community service, as well, serving as Chair of the Vermont Economic Progress Council, a board member of the Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle counties, the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, and UVMs Athletic Advisory Council.About VTelVTel is a family-owned telephone company whose network began serving rural Vermont in 1890. It operates a four-state optical fiber network from Vermont with connections to New York City, Boston, and Montreal, with speeds of 1 Gig to 100 Gig, serving some of the most intensive data users in the northeast.In 2010, VTel received American Reinvestment and Recovery Act awards of $129 million, in grants and loans, to help build Americas first GigE-to-Every-Home network, to extend 4G/LTE wireless broadband to every un-served Vermont community, and to extend its fiber to 200 community anchors in three states. VTel is committed to making a meaningful contribution to the prosperity of Vermont communities and the protection of its working landscape. To that end, VTel actively supports Vermont community groups, drives hybrid vehicles, utilizes clean energy including solar, hydro and wind power, and is committed to improving quality of life in Vermont. We are Vermonters proudly serving Vermonters. For more information, visit www.vermontel.com(link is external).last_img read more

Weekly unemployment claims fall for third week

Weekly unemployment claims fall for third week

first_imgNew unemployment claims in Vermont fell again last week to below 700, the lowest level this spring. For the week of May 11, 2013, there were 679 new, regular benefit claims for Unemployment Insurance in Vermont. This is a decrease of 243 from the previous week’s total, and 53 fewer than they were a year ago.Altogether 7,146 new and continuing claims were filed, a decrease of 962 from a week ago and 413 fewer than a year ago. The Department also processed 884 First Tier claims for benefits under Emergency Unemployment Compensation, 2008 (EUC08), 5 fewer than a week ago.In addition, there were 31 Second Tier claims for benefits processed under the EUC08 program, which is 4 more than the week before. The Tier III program of extended benefits is being discontinued in Vermont as the state’s unemployment rate has been under the federal threshold for more than three months.  The total for all programs was 8,071 claims, 962 fewer than last week and 1,666 fewer than the same time last year.The Unemployment Weekly Report can be found at: http://www.vtlmi.info/(link is external). Previously released Unemployment Weekly Reports and other UI reports can be found at: http://www.vtlmi.info/lmipub.htm#uc(link is external)Vermont’s unemployment rate fell one-tenths to 4.0 percent in April, the third lowest rate in the nation and lowest in New England. SEE STORY.last_img read more

Lisa Gosselin named Economic Development Commissioner, Nancy Driscoll to serve as Chief Marketing Officer

Lisa Gosselin named Economic Development Commissioner, Nancy Driscoll to serve as Chief Marketing Officer

first_imgLisa Gosselin, who helped grow Eating Well Media Group into a profitable business with an online eatingwell.com viewership of 5 million, has been named Economic Development Commissioner for Vermont. That position has been unfilled since the Douglas administration, but was reinstated by Gov. Peter Shumlin with the support of the legislature to spearhead his aggressive jobs and economic development agenda. ‘Lisa has an incredibly strong marketing and business background, but even more significant is her hands-on success at economic growth and her enthusiasm for doing business in our great state.  She understands why businesses choose to grow in Vermont and she has the ability to connect the dots and generate the buzz needed to spur economic development in the state,’said Gov. Shumlin. He noted that in addition to producing award winning spin-off endeavors, eatingwell.com is now among the top 20 food sites worldwide. ‘Lisa loves Vermont and knows how to grow a business. We are very fortunate that she will bring her skills to state government, helping our employers with start-up, marketing, and expansion.’ Lawrence Miller, Secretary of Commerce and Community Development, agreed. ‘Lisa will be a key player in the agency’s focus on creating jobs, supporting businesses, strengthening downtowns, and ensuring employers have what they need to attract the best employees and find success in Vermont,’he said. ‘My great-grandfather and his family owned and ran a general store in Rutland, and my grandfather went to medical school at UVM before leaving to practice in Connecticut,’Gosselin said. ‘I am passionate about Vermont and believe deeply that businesses can grow and thrive here.  I am excited to apply what I’ve learned in my career to help make Vermont an even better place to grow business opportunities.’ Prior to serving as editorial director at Eating Well and launching eatingwell.com, Gosselin was hired to expand publications in California, Pennsylvania and New York, and served as editor-in-chief of Audubon, a magazine created by the National Audubon Society in New York City. She also was a senior brand manager at Kelliher Samets Volk in Burlington, working with clients including Dynastar, Ryka, New England Culinary Institute and McGill University. She graduated from Yale University, has dual citizenship in the U.S. and France, and is a former Ironman triathlete. She lives in Stowe. Sec. Miller also announced that Nancy Driscoll has been appointed Chief Marketing Officer for the State of Vermont. Driscoll replaces Kathy Murphy, who will be leaving to oversee marketing and communications efforts at Norwich University. Driscoll has served as Chief of Staff for Lt. Governor Phil Scott for the last three years. Before joining state government, she was an independent marketing consultant, working with Vermont small-business clients on brand development and strategic marketing. Prior to that, she spent several years as the marketing director for Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel, where she was responsible for media buying, graphic design, web development and audio-video production. Driscoll is a graduate of Princeton University. She resides in Marshfield. The Chief Marketing Officer serves as the steward of the Vermont brand and marketing resource for agencies and projects across state government, working to achieve consistency in the Vermont brand and ensuring efficiency and effectiveness in the promotion of initiatives ranging from tourism to economic development. ‘I’m excited about this new challenge, which lets me draw on my experience working with state government and with Vermont’s small businesses,’ Driscoll said. ‘Working in the Lt. Governor’s office for the last three years made me appreciate the wide variety of creativity and innovation going on around the state. I’m honored to have the support of state leaders in being appointed to the CMO position, and I can’t wait to get started.’ Sec. Miller noted that, with the appointment of Commissioner Gosselin and Chief Marketing Officer Driscoll, he has a full complement of individuals at his Agency working to develop business, community development, tourism, and other economic opportunities for Vermont. Lt. Gov. Scott said, “Having Nancy move on is a loss for me and for the Lt. Governor’s office, but a great opportunity for Nancy and for the state. She’ll do a great job in the position.”last_img read more

Vermont Yankee’s closing next year to leave a hole in state budget

Vermont Yankee’s closing next year to leave a hole in state budget

first_imgNorthstar Vermont Yankee,by Andrew Stein September 3, 2013 vtdigger.org Entergy Corp’s decision to shut down the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in October 2014 will come at a cost to the state of Vermont.In addition to the loss of more than 600 jobs and the many economic benefits the plant brings to the Windham County region, the state will take a budget hit of $11.5 million to $12.5 million a year.That’s because if Vermont Yankee isn’t producing power, Entergy pays no taxes on the plant. The state assessed a 0.0025 per kilowatt-hour power generation tax on Yankee last year; Vermont Yankee does not pay property taxes.Entergy sued the state in federal court over the new tax. A federal judge dismissed Entergy’s case in October, and the company’s appeal is pending. Even if Entergy’s appeal were successful, the Louisiana-based company would still have to pay about $6 million a year to Vermont while the plant is operating.The Shumlin administration and the Legislature would have to alter the state tax structure to address the issue.Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding. VTD/Josh Larkin‘Under the current scenario, we do know there will be a loss. It is significant in size,’ Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding said. ‘That will be one of the challenges we’ll have to address when dealing with the budget.’This next legislative session the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee will look at revenue options for fiscal year 2015 and beyond. The exact size of the fiscal year 2015 budget shortfall is tied to just how much power is generated between July 1, 2014, and when the plant is shut down.Entergy Vice President Jeff Forbes said the plant would shut down at the end of its current refueling cycle, 18 months from the last time it was refueled, which was April of this year. Entergy has not yet provided a final shutdown date.The generating tax Entergy pays quarterly to the state is contingent on how much electricity Vermont Yankee produces during the previous quarter. If Vermont Yankee closes at the beginning of October ‘ which is after one quarter of the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2014 ‘ Entergy would pay the state for two quarters, or six months, worth of taxes.Under the current tax structure, this would provide Vermont with roughly $6 million in revenue from the plant in FY 2015, about half of its current obligation.State Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden. Courtesy photo.Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, says legislators need to figure out how to replace the generating tax this session.‘Do we need to figure out a new way to tax the plant? Yes,’ he said. ‘Figuring out how to do that will be tricky, and we’ll probably look to other states for ideas, if not guidance.’The plant’s shut down in the middle of the fiscal year complicates matters, Ashe said.‘We need to devise two revenue treatments,’ he said. ‘One for the first half of the fiscal year, and one for the second half when it’s no longer generating. We really need to do this this year. We can’t wait.’Rep. Janet Ancel, D-Calais, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee says a new tax structure can’t wait.‘We will have to replace the revenues somehow or make cuts,’ she said. ‘I don’t know where we’d cut. I think what we’ll do probably come January is look at the tax structures other states have and see if there is a substitute for revenues that makes sense.’One state that will be of little help to Vermont legislators is Maine. David Heidreich, spokesman for the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services, said that Maine never applied a generation or property tax to the now decommissioned Maine Yankee plant.‘There was no generating tax or statewide revenue shortfall encountered as a result of the decommissioning of the plant,’ he said.last_img read more

Weekly unemployment claims over 600 again

Weekly unemployment claims over 600 again

first_imgNew unemployment claims stayed over 600 for the second week after a quiet summer. For the week of October 12, 2013, there were 611 new, regular benefit claims for Unemployment Insurance in Vermont. This is a decrease of 14 from the previous week’s total, and 83 fewer than they were a year ago.Altogether 4,214  new and continuing claims were filed, an increase of 36 from a week ago and 652 fewer than a year ago. The Department also processed 676 First Tier claims for benefits under Emergency Unemployment Compensation, 2008 (EUC08), 6 fewer than a week ago.In addition, there were 19 Second Tier claims for benefits processed under the EUC08 program, which is 3 more than the week before. The Tier III program of extended benefits is being discontinued in Vermont as the state’s unemployment rate has been under the federal threshold for more than three months.  The total for all programs was 4,920 claims, 29 more than last week but 1,374 fewer than the same time last year.The Unemployment Weekly Report can be found at: http://www.vtlmi.info/(link is external). Previously released Unemployment Weekly Reports and other UI reports can be found at: http://www.vtlmi.info/lmipub.htm#uc(link is external) Vermont’s unemployment rate stayed at 4.6 percent in August; the September rate will come out October 22. SEE STORY.last_img read more

Vermont Business Roundtable hosts F35 information session

Vermont Business Roundtable hosts F35 information session

first_imgToday the Vermont Business Roundtable hosted an information session/press conference on the basing of the F35 in Vermont. Participants included Frank Cioffi, President of GBIC, Lt Col Chris Caputo of the Vermont Air National Guard and Dale Rocheleau, Senior Counsel at Downs Rachlin Martin.Vermont Business Roundtable President Lisa Ventriss opened the session with the following remarks. ‘The Roundtable is a non-profit, non-partisan organization of chief executive officers of Vermont’s leading private and nonprofit employers, representing geographic diversity and all major sectors of the Vermont economy. have convened this session out of concern with how, in the run-up to the siting decision by the Air Force, the public discussions pertaining to the potential F35 bed down at VT Air National Guard have been muddied by opponents through the use of inflamed rhetoric, public theater, misleading statements and hyperbole.’Frank Cioffi of the Greater Burlington Industrial Corp spoke on economics and process. ‘VTANG provides full time fire and rescue support services to the Burlington International Airport. These services annually are valued at $2.8 million, with an additional $12 million in capital assets that would need to be replaced.  Without the Air Guard providing these services and facilities the Airport (and the City of Burlington) would have to pay for the equipment, the facilities and the operational costs associated with the services.These services and related infrastructure investments would immediately be cost-shifted onto airport operations, stressing their ability to provide competitive air service.Any request to delay the basing must be recognized as a request to deny; the resolution before the City Council is not aimed at compromise, it is aimed to obstruct the F35 without using language that will jeopardize receipt of Federal/FAA funding.The resolution places the City and the airport at serious financial, economic and legal risk.The formal public comment period for the Environmental Impact Statement EIS has closed.  The City of Burlington has already formally entered its issues, questions and concerns into the EIS during the public comment period.  Those issues, questions and concerns are a part of the EIS. Should VTANG and Vermont be awarded the basing in the Record of Decision, the Air Force and VTANG will seek to mitigate relevant impacts addressed in the EIS.’Lt. Col. Chris Caputo, Vermont Air National Guard stated, ‘The VTANG has an impeccable flight safety record, one that is 3 and a half times better than the lifetime average for the F16 nationally.  Flight safety is a culture within our organization that goes far beyond just the airframe itself, whether it is an F-16 or the F-35.  It is inherent within our leadership, disciplined maintenance practices, regulatory flight procedures, and flying training rules.   There is no evidence to indicate that if the F-35 arrives to Burlington in the 2020 timeframe that your VTANG’s flight safety record would be any different from what it is now….which is phenomenal!”Dale Rocheleau remarked, ‘The new version of the resolution announced by the F-35 opponents yesterday proposes a noise and safety standard that has not been researched for potential impacts on general aviation operations at the Burlington International Airport.  This creates a very high risk of unintended consequences for airport operations.  For example, the proposed aircraft safety standard, based on the F-16’s exemplary safety record in Vermont and around the country, may adversely affect the ability of general aviation aircraft to use the airport.  Whether or not you use the F-16’s Vermont Accident rate of .926 Class A mishaps per 100,000 flight hours or the National F-16 Accident rate of 3.55, General Aviation aircraft have a higher accident rate nationally and may not be allowed to use the Burlington International Airport.  According to data about airport operations, the proposed safety standard may prohibit approximately 50% of civilian flight operations at Burlington.’Rocheleau continued,  ‘We also intend to inform the city council and the city attorney about cases under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution that say, in effect, Congress must explicitly consent to state and local government regulation of the military’s use of certain materials or equipment, such as certain aircraft.   The F-35 opponents have provided the city with no evidence that Congress has granted clear, unambiguous authorization for the Vermont Air National Guard to be subjected to aircraft noise and safety standards.  Consequently, if such Congressional authorization does not exist, the new regulation sought by F-35 opponents could be ruled unconstitutional in a court of law.’last_img read more

VEC reports more power outages early Monday

VEC reports more power outages early Monday

first_imgVermont Electric Cooperative, Inc,After restoring power to all but two outages, Vermont Electric Cooperative reports 372 new outages at’ 5 am Monday’ in the following towns: Bakersfield, Berkshire, Cambridge, Enosburg, Fairfax, Fairfield, Fletcher, Jericho, Montgomery and Westford.All of these outages are in areas which still have cold spots where ice and snow remain on trees and power lines. In these areas, a vicious cycle has been taking place in which crews remove trees and repair lines only to have new trees fall on lines they have just fixed. This pattern may continue for days until temperatures rise above the freezing mark.On Monday VEC utility crews will begin their ninth consecutive day of outage restoration caused by the ‘ ice storm.’  Mutual aid crews from Vermont and beyond continue to reinforce VEC crews. ‘ VEC appreciates the outpouring of support and encouragement from northern Vermonters and local organizations who have worked with us to weather the unprecedented 2013 ice storm.’ Source: VEC 12.30.2013last_img read more

Governor signs energy efficiency bill to promote clean heating technologies

Governor signs energy efficiency bill to promote clean heating technologies

first_imgGreen Mountain Power Corp,Governor Peter Shumlin in Rutland Wednesday signed into law a bill promoting incentives for homes using clean-heating technologies like cold-climate heat and geothermal pumps, energy-efficient heating sources that save consumers money, stimulate the economy and create jobs, and protect the environment.“For years, through Efficiency Vermont and other organizations, our state has focused like a laser on reducing our electric energy consumption. Add up all the efficiency investments since the year 2000, and Vermonters used an astounding 13 percent less electricity in 2013 than we would have otherwise,” Shumlin said.He noted that it costs half as much to save a kilowatt hour of energy through efficiency than to buy that same kilowatt hour on the grid. In addition, investments in efficiency and local renewable energy helped defer nearly $400 million in Vermont transmission projects.“While we’ve accomplished a lot, we still have a long way to go on helping Vermonters reduce their heating costs, which is why we are here today,” the governor said.Public Service Commissioner Christopher Recchia said that technology has advanced and now Vermonters have new clean heating options, including cold-climate air source heat pumps and geothermal ground source heat pumps. Recchia said that based on Department data, in February in Vermont, if you were heating with a cold-climate heat pump, you were doing so at less than half the cost of heating with oil, and a third the cost of heating with propane. However, because our efficiency programs primarily focus on cutting electric use, Efficiency Vermont does not offer statewide incentives for cold-climate heat pumps the way they do for efficient light bulbs or appliances. This bill changes that, Recchia said.The legislation will start a process at the Public Service Board to determine how efficiency providers like Efficiency Vermont can use their resources to help Vermonters install technologies like cold-climate heat pumps or geothermal heat pumps. This bill also makes sure that incentives for heat pumps are coordinated with traditional efficiency improvements like insulation and air sealing to get the most bang for the buck for homeowners and businesses.“Efficiency Vermont is always looking for new ways to help Vermont families and businesses reduce their energy costs,” said Jim Merriam, Director of Efficiency Vermont. “Over the past three years, Efficiency Vermont has helped over 3,100 Vermont homes all across the state significantly reduce their heating bills through comprehensive improvements like insulation and air-sealing. Heat pumps have the potential to further reduce what Vermonters pay to heat their homes and businesses. Efficiency Vermont actively sought this legislation to better enable us to deliver these savings to Vermonters. We are very pleased to be here today to see it signed into law.”The governor signed the bill at Mark and Sara Borkowskis’ Rutland home, a model in energy efficiency with solar panels, weatherization, energy tracking technology and two air source heat pumps.“We are really pleased to see yet another initiative that will help our customers realize the benefits of using technology to reduce emissions, save money and be more comfortable,” said Mary Powell, President and Chief Executive Officer of Green Mountain Power. “This will be an important part of our approach to help customers achieve a whole energy solution.”The market is recognizing the economic and environmental benefits of this technology. About 2,400 air source heat pumps were sold last year in Vermont, according to Efficiency Vermont, and dealers expect that growth to continue.Shumlin thanked the Public Service Department, Efficiency Vermont and utilities like Green Mountain Power for working with lawmakers on the legislation. In addition to the leadership of House Speaker Shap Smith and Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell, he thanked members of the Senate Natural Resources & Energy Committee and Senator Mark MacDonald, and members of the House Natural Resources & Energy Committee.More information about heat pump technology can be found on Efficiency Vermont’s website at www.efficiencyvermont.com/coldclimateheatpump(link is external).Governor’s office 6.11.2014last_img read more