RailAmerica, Providence and Worcester Railroad announce strategic alliance

first_imgThe Providence and Worcester Railroad (Nasdaq: PWX) and the New England Central Railroad, part of the RailAmerica (NYSE: RA) family which operates extensively in Vermont, have announced the establishment of the Great Eastern Route, a new coordinated commercial and operating platform.  This new strategic alliance is being developed to increase our collective business with both Canadian National and Canadian Pacific to rail customers in southern New England and to enhance their global access through our port facilities.Over the past 5 years the NECR and P&W have jointly invested significant capital in the infrastructure along with the States of Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and the federal government.  These investments enhance our service and combined with this new commercial and operating relationship will provide the basis for a greatly improved customer experience aimed at growing our collective business across all commodity lines.The alliance recently hosted inspection trains with our Canadian Class I partners and looks forward to establishing new and improved supply chains throughout the region.RailAmerica, Inc. owns and operates short-line and regional freight railroads in North America, operating a portfolio of 43 individual railroads with approximately 7,400 miles of track in 27 US states and three Canadian provinces.  P&W is a regional freight railroad operating in Massachusetts, Rhode Island,Connecticut and New York.  SOURCE RailAmerica, Inc. JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Feb. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/last_img read more

Home prices in Vermont heat up, buyers beware

first_imgThe latest RE/MAX New England Housing Report, which shows that Vermont has experienced the largest median home price jump in all of New England, up to $196,250, an 18.9 percent increase year-over-year ($165,000 in February 2012). Vermont transactions are also up 10.6 percent compared to this time last year. RE/MAX of New England Executive Vice President and Regional Director Dan Breault says buyers hesitant to list their homes before spring are creating bidding wars in some pockets of New England as buyers compete to purchase a home.   ‘ Sellers are still a little reluctant to list their home, forcing inventory to decrease as sellers wait for the temperature to rise and spring to set in,’ Breault said. ‘ The New England market is starting to see median prices uptick, as buyers are in bidding wars for the limited properties on the market. It’ s apparent that homeownership continues to be an important milestone for most Americans.’The RE/MAX of New England February Monthly Housing Report indicates that the current trend of an improving housing market continues throughout the early months of 2013. For the first time in months, median prices are increasing instead of staying flat year-over-year.While Vermont saw the largest increase in median price, it was followed by Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. In addition to median prices, units sold and pending sales are also up, while inventory is down 20 percent, year-over-year.last_img read more

Ski Vermont announces winners of the Green Mountain Awards

first_imgIn honor of Green Up Day, a statewide spring tradition of environmental beautification, the Vermont Ski Areas Association is excited to announce the winners of the inaugural Green Mountain Awards for Environmental Excellence at Vermont Ski Resorts. Judged by Melinda Vieux, President of Green Up Vermont, Alan Hebert of Efficiency Vermont and VSAA President Parker Riehle, resorts competed to win awards in environmental stewardship. Categories range from composting and recycling efforts, to educational programs and energy efficient renovations. Winners of the Green Mountain Awards for Environmental Excellence include:Greenest Overall Resort in VermontStowe Mountain ResortBest Green Up Day Participation ProgramSmugglers Notch ResortBest Environmental Awareness & Education ProgramBurke Mountain ResortGreenest Recycling ProgramStratton Mountain ResortGreenest Composting ProgramBurke Mountain ResortGreenest Water Treatment ProgramStowe Mountain ResortGreenest Alternative Energy ProgramBolton ValleyBest Efficiency Snowmaking UpgradeSugarbush ResortBest Efficiency Program for FacilitiesJay Peak ResortMost Sustainable RestaurantBurke Mountain ResortMost Creative Environmental ProgramKillington ResortFor more information about the winning entries and efforts, visit www.skivermont.com(link is external)Green Up Vermont is a nonprofit organization with 501(c) (3) status. Green Up’s mission is to promote the stewardship of our state’s natural landscape and waterways and the livability of our communities by involving people in Green Up Day and raising public awareness about the benefits of a litter-free environment. For 43 years running, Vermonters have held Green Up Day a state-wide tradition of beautification where armies of volunteers remove roadside debris previously camouflaged by Vermonts abundant winter snow.Ski Vermont (Vermont Ski Areas Association) is a proud ambassador of the thriving winter tourism industry in Vermont, where the legislature has designated skiing and snowboarding as the official state sports. Vermont is not only the #1 ski state in the east and third in the US, but also reigns supreme in snowmaking quality and coverage, variety of terrain and historical impact on the sports of skiing and snowboarding – making it one of the most significant ski  and ride destinations in the world. Ski Vermonts mission is to help create a legislative, economic and social environment in which the state’s ski areas can grow and prosper. It serves its 18 Alpine and 31 Nordic member resorts in three major areas: Governmental Affairs, Marketing and Public Affairs.SkiVermont. Photo of Smuggs on GreenUp Day.last_img read more

Governor Shumlin announces safety improvements for Route 4 in the Hartford area

first_imgFollowing a recent increase in the number of serious motor vehicle crashes on US Route 4 in the Hartford-Woodstock area, including four fatalities in recent months, Governor Peter Shumlin today announced that the Agency of Transportation will install portable message boards reminding drivers to be alert and focus on safety, pave deteriorated stretches of the roadway surface, install centerline rumble strips in appropriate areas, conduct an engineering review to determine what further safety treatments may be warranted, and work with local officials on proposed improvements. ‘My heart goes out to the families of those injured or killed on Route 4, or any other Vermont road,’Gov. Shumlin said in an afternoon stop at the Hartford Police Department, with Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell, Rep. Alison Clarkson, AOT Deputy Secretary Sue Minter, and others. ‘We will work with communities in this area to determine what safety measures make sense for Route 4. I also remind people to drive with caution and stay alert to prevent accidents.’ ‘The lives of our citizens are at stake,’said Sen. John Campbell. ‘Our obligation is to act now.’ Gov. Shumlin and Minter met with local emergency and town officials, including Hartford Police and Fire Chief Steve Locke and Woodstock Town Manager Phil Swanson, to discuss the increase in Route 4 accidents. The Governor outlined the state’s short-term assistance, including safety signage and paving, and pledged to work with local officials and emergency staff as conversations about longer-term solutions move forward. Gov. Shumlin said it’s not clear why Route 4 has been the scene of an unusually high number of accidents this spring, but if structural changes are needed, that will be determined and work will be scheduled.‘I cannot stress enough how important it is for drivers to slow down and pay attention on this road,’Gov. Shumlin said. ‘And as we head into summer, that need for caution extends across the state.’last_img read more

New Insurance Division deputy commissioner is a returning Vermonter

first_imgSusan L Donegan, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation, announced today that Crosby Sherman will join the DFR team as deputy commissioner of the Insurance Division. Sherman grew up in St. Johnsbury and graduated from St. Johnsbury Academy and the University of Vermont. He began his career here at DFR in the 1980s, where he worked as an insurance examiner of property and casualty, life and captive insurance companies. He also oversaw domestic and captive examinations and played a key regulatory role during the initial stages of Vermont’s captive insurance market. He leaves his post as chief of Captive Insurance for the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance. Donegan said she is pleased to welcome Sherman back to his roots and to the department. ‘We are excited to welcome Crosby back home to DFR and look forward to utilizing his vast expertise in the insurance field,’she said, ‘He has extensive experience in all aspects of the insurance regulatory process particularly solvency regulation which is DFR’s highest priority for consumer protection.’ Sherman begins working at the department July 8.last_img read more

Sanders: Congress must restore 3.4 percent student loan interest rate

first_imgUS Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) said today that Congress must act immediately to pass legislation which retroactively restores the interest rate on subsidized Stafford student loans back to 3.4 percent.  As a result of Congressional inaction, interest rates on these loans doubled to 6.8 percent today.On June 6, Sanders voted with a majority of senators to maintain the 3.4 percent rates.  Unfortunately, there were not enough votes to overcome a Republican filibuster. The rising interest rates affect 7 million students nationally and more than 19,000 Vermonters.Sanders said: ‘Student debt in this country — which at $1.1 trillion is now more than credit card debt — is one of the major financial crises our country faces. In Vermont and America, more and more students hesitate to get a higher education because they fear the debt they will be saddled with upon graduation.  In Vermont, the average student graduates college with $28,860 in debt, which is more than the national average.’‘If the United States is going to be competitive in the global economy, we must have the best educated workforce possible,’said Sanders, who serves on the Senate education committee.  ‘We must encourage young people of all income levels to expand their educational opportunities, not make it harder.’  ‘Short term, Congress must extend the subsidized Stafford student loan program at 3.4 percent.  It will be devastating to families in Vermont and throughout the country to allow those rates to double.  Long term, at a time when higher education in this country is far more expensive than in any other country, the Higher Education Act must be overhauled so that higher education is affordable for every young person who has the ability and desire to continue their education.’ Sanders’ office: 7.1.2013last_img read more

Weinberger announces first clean audit report for Burlington International Airport in more than 10 years

first_imgBurlington International Airport (BTV),Related Company: Burlington International Airport (BTV)Mayor Miro Weinberger announced Tuesday that the Burlington International Airport received a clean audit report for the first time in more than 10 years. The auditors issued no “findings” – or identifications of errors or deficiencies – and noted that the Airport exceeded its debt coverage score for the third consecutive year.  “Improving the City’s financial management continues to be the top priority of my Administration,” said Mayor Weinberger.  “I am pleased with the clean audit report, demonstrating our steady and important progress at the Airport – formerly a financial vulnerability that gradually we are transforming into an economic asset for our City and the region.” The audit process for a large entity like the Airport includes a Financial Audit, a Management Letter, and a Single Audit.  The Financial Audit focuses on the accuracy of the entity’s financial statements; the Management Letter analyzes any findings; and the Single Audit, which includes the entire City and Airport, examines the use of Federal and State Grants, Passenger Facility Charges, and Bond Compliance.  This year, there were no findings on either the Airport’s financial audit or Single Audit.   “This year’s clean audit is another milestone in strengthening the Airport’s financial position,” said Gene Richards, Director of Aviation at Burlington International Airport. “It demonstrates the great teamwork of Airport and City financial staff.”last_img read more

Vermont loses petition to keep Emergency Response Data System at Vermont Yankee

first_imgNorthstar Vermont Yankee,Vermont Business Magazine The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) panel assigned to review the State of Vermont petition regarding the preservation of the Emergency Response Data System (ERDS) at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant has denied the petition in a 2-1 decision. (The ASLB is a quasi-judicial arm of the NRC that handles hearing requests and petitions and conducts hearings.) The ASLB panel states in the decision that ERDS, which provides a direct electronic data link from plants to the NRC and allows the agency to monitor critical plant parameters during an emergency, is only required for plants with operating reactors under existing regulations. Vermont Yankee went off-line in December. There is a dissenting opinion from one member of the three-member panel. The state has 25 days to appeal the decision.Vermont had argued that either (1) ERDS must remain operational while Vermont Yankee is permanently shut down; or (2) Entergy must provide an alternate means similar to ERDS to supply Vermont with radiation monitoring information, meteorological information, and containment parameters relevant to spent fuel pool conditions for as long as fuel remains in the pool.RELATED: Vermont Yankee goes off-line for last timeHowever, the Board wrote in its decision: “In our view, the relief sought by Vermont is inconsistent with the exception provision in 10 C.F.R. Part 50, Appendix E, Section VI.2, which exempts “all nuclear power facilities that are shut down permanently” fromproviding an ERDS link.” It said, in addition, that Vermont’s “assertion ignores the plain language of the exception provision, which unequivocally exempts licensees of “all nuclear power facilities that are shut down permanently” from providing “onsite [ERDS] hardware.”In dissenting from the other two members of the Board, Dr Richard E Wardwell wrote: “In its LAR, Entergy asks permission to reduce its staffing upon the shutdown of Vermont Yankee to levels that are predicated in part on the premise that the ERDS link will be retired pursuant to Entergy’s reading of Section VI.2 of Appendix E to 10 C.F.R. Part 50 (Section VI.2). Vermont contests Entergy’s right to disconnect the ERDS without adequately demonstrating that this would not reduce the margin of safety by increasing the potential consequences from emergency actions during an accident due to the loss of crucial data. The majority opinion accepts Entergy’s and NRC Staff’s (Staff’s) claim that Vermont’s proposed contention is a collateral attack on NRC regulations, while Entergy and Staff also maintain that it is not within the scope of the proceeding and Entergy claims that it lacks material support.”The majority’s opinion (rejecting Vermont’s contention) rests on an interpretation of the first sentence of Section VI.2, which states that “[e]xcept for . . . all nuclear power facilities that are shut down permanently or indefinitely” (exemption clause), operating plants must provide the hardware for an ERDS, and electronically assemble and transmit the data. The majority maintains that the “exemption clause” not only excuses those plants that were inactive at the time of rulemaking from installing and operating an ERDS, but also allows licensees of plants that installed and operated an ERDS to shut down the system at decommissioning without seeking further agency approval.”I disagree. A more logical reading of Section VI.2 is that the “exemption clause” only applies to those plants that were already shut down at the time of the rulemaking and not to plants at which an ERDS was later installed. Moreover, in my opinion, under either interpretation of Section VI.2, Entergy must still adequately assess the impact of shutting down its active ERDS before taking such action to assure no reduction in the effectiveness of its emergency plan and, in turn, no adverse impact on public health and safety. Therefore, I would find Vermont’s contention admissible and must dissent.”last_img read more

F&W suggests waiting to feed birds

first_imgVermont Business Magazine The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is urging people to wait for colder weather and snow before putting up their bird feeders in order to avoid attracting bears. The department is hearing from people who want to know if they should put out their bird feeders. Normally, December 1 is the recommended start date for feeding birds in Vermont, but this year’s lack of snow is keeping some bears from going into their winter dens.“An abundance of beechnuts and apples coupled with our lack of snow cover this year have resulted in male bears staying active, rather than denning for the winter,” said Forrest Hammond, Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s bear biologist.“Female bears normally go into their dens before males,” he added. “Males tend to enter their dens in response to most of their foods being unavailable to them rather than to cold temperatures. Without snow covering the ground some males are still foraging for nuts and apples.”“We suggest waiting for six or more inches of snow that lasts before putting out your bird feeders, especially if you have been visited in the past by bears or if there are sightings of bears in your neighborhood,” said Hammond. “Due to lack of snow and frozen ground, birds are able to forage in fields and forests for their natural foods.” Surveys have shown that feeding birds and watching wildlife are popular with Vermonters. A 2011federal survey revealed that people spend more than $280 million annually to watch wildlife in the state. Feeding birds at home is considered the primary wildlife watching activity.last_img read more

VBSR, WBON urge Legislature to take no action on independent contractor bill this year

first_imgVermont Business Magazine How Vermont defines the relationship between employers and workers is one the most fundamental regulatory issues for Vermont’s economy. In a statement released Monday morning, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and the Women Business Owners Network said employers deserve clear and consistent rules to follow and workers deserve both flexibility and access to the workplace safety net, such as unemployment and worker’s compensation benefits. They urged the Legislature not to pass H867, the bill setting new definitions for employees and independent contractors. The bill has languished in the House Commerce and Economic Development committee.”We appreciate the attempt to make our economy work more effectively for new and existing types of industries and jobs,” the statements says. “But the original House Commerce Committee bill is concerning to our members because of the potential to increase costs for Vermont’s many solo contractors and to upend workplace protections that the socially responsible business community has fought hard for, which includes a strong minimum wage, access to earned paid leave, and equal pay for women.”House lawmakers have made numerous attempts this year to compromise, including proposing an amendment that strikes a better balance than the original bill. We are encouraged by these attempts to find a solution that addresses the concerns of all affected parties.”Still, transitioning to new definitions of employee and independent contractor would be a major change in state employment law. VBSR and WBON believe the Legislature should not rush into a decision with just a handful of days left in the 2016 session. Any proposal needs the proper time to be considered and lawmakers should table this issue until the next biennium when they have a full two years to consider a bill.”The media and some politicians have framed this debate as one of business interests in support of the bill and labor interests opposed to the change. This characterization is inaccurate and does a disservice to the variety of viewpoints and concerns that the Vermont business community brings to this debate.”For these reasons, we urge the Vermont Legislature to take no action this session on any proposal to change the definitions of employee and independent contractor. The status quo, while not ideal, will serve Vermont until a comprehensive proposal can be fully vetted by the Legislature, the business community, and labor. VBSR and WBON look forward to working with the Vermont Legislature, a new Vermont Governor, and other interested parties in 2017 to find that compromise.”LINK: legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2016/H.867(link is external)Founded in 1990, VBSR is a statewide, non-profit business association with a mission to advance business ethics that value multiple bottom lines: economic, social, and environmental. Through education, public influence, and workplace quality, VBSR strives to help 760+ members set a high standard for protecting the natural, human, and economic environments of the state’s residents, while remaining profitable. Learn more or join the cause at www.vbsr.org(link is external).WBON encourages and supports women who own and operate businesses, including fostering the economic stability of women-owned businesses, encouraging ownership of businesses by women, and improving the climate for entrepreneurship and small business at the local, state, national and international levels through participation in the public policy-making process. www.wbon.org(link is external)last_img read more