Join Maria Reade and Scout Proft of Someday Farm in Dorset for an on-site primer for beginning backyard, school, farm, and small-scale commercial composters. Participants will view and discuss feedstocks – at home, on the farm, at school, or from offsite; compost recipe development – especially managing moisture and ataining and maintaining appropriate carbon/nitrogen ratios; and designing and managing the compost site.
BCRC held a successful household hazardous waste collection event at the Arlington Memorial High School and Middle School on May 11 provided residents of Arlington, Dorset, Manchester, Rupert, Sandgate and Sunderland an opportunity to drop off household hazardous materials for free. BCRC contracted with Clean Harbors Environmental Services and TAM for disposal of these materials. We want to thank the school for allowing us to use their facility. The fall event is scheduled for the Dorset School on Saturday, October 12, 2013 from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM. More information will follow on that event.
A second Cultural Summit, sponsored by the Better Bennington Corporation Arts Committee, was held at the Mount Anthony Country Club on Sunday, April 7, 2013. Following up on the first summit held in late February, this meeting brought together artists, crafters, business and community leaders to discuss goals for further develop Bennington’s cultural assets. Bill Colvin, director of BCRC’s Sustainable Community Development Program, facilitated the meeting. Following a presentation in which the results of a SWOT (Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats) Analysis created at the February meeting were shared and examples of goals from other cultural plans were presented, the fifty or so attendees were divided into four working groups. These groups developed lists of possible goals for a Bennington Cultural Plan. Through consolidation and prioritization these were narrowed to goals such as the creation of a downtown arts district, development of an arts council, and facilitating a culture of lifelong involvement in the arts. For more information on Cultural Summit 2, check out this article in from the Rutland Herald.
The Energy Generation Siting Policy Commission, a special study group appointed by the governor, has been working over the past several months to develop recommendations to address concerns that have been raised over the siting of energy generation projects. Key issues have been a need to improve public participation and to more effectively integrate concerns of local communities in the “Section 248” permitting process.
Two important local transportation improvement projects will move forward with funding approved under the new “Transportation Alternatives” grant program. The Village of North Bennington has received an additional grant that will allow it to complete improvements at the intersection of Bank Street and Water Street (VT 67/67A). The project involves construction of sidewalks, crosswalks, landscaping, and a new stormwater drainage system. Construction is expected to begin within the next few weeks. The BCRC is continuing to serve as Municipal Project Manager for this effort.
Following our recent “New Energy for Southern Vermont” forum, a company that specializes in extending natural gas pipelines to areas lacking that service contacted the BCRC to express interest in exploring a project in our area. The company, D Energy, located in Canton, Ohio, has implemented a number of successful projects in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Their research showed that the closest natural gas interstate transmission line extends to North Adams, with service from that line covering much of Williamstown. D Energy envisions extending the interstate transmission line to Bennington, and perhaps further north, and to build out a distribution network to serve residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional customers.
The Southern Vermont Post-Irene Recovery Project commenced full operation in March 2013 with the hiring of two Flood Recovery Officers to work with businesses and communities suffering economic impacts as a result of Tropical Storm Irene. Anthony Summers and Wendy Rae Woods began working in Windham and Bennington Counties the first week of March. The official launch of project, made possible by a $472,000 United States Economic Development Administration grant secured by the Windham Regional Commission (WRC) and the Bennington County Regional Commission (BCRC), was heralded at a press conference in Brattleboro with U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on March 15th. Other elements of the Southern Vermont Post-Irene Recovery Project include downtown and village center revitalization planning which will be led by the regional commissions and the creation of a sustainable marketing program for Southern Vermont, which will involve all four chambers of commerce in the two counties.
The Bennington Strategic Economic Development Plan is expected to be finalized sometime in May 2013. This plan, which has been under development since last July, has been overseen by a steering committee with representatives from the Town of Bennington, area schools and colleges, the medical system and the Town’s economic development partners. The work has been facilitated by the consulting team of Mullin Associates, Inc. and the BCRC. On March 28th, the steering committee, consultants and the Bennington Select Board held a work session to discuss a draft of the plan and to develop a process for Select Board input on the strategy. The final plan will be presented to the Bennington Select Board for adoption. The plan focuses heavily on areas such education, workforce development, targeted recruiting, infrastructure, and quality of life. It looks to build upon existing assets within the community to address present challenges which hinder economic vitality. Once adopted, the full plan will be available on the BCRC website.
The Bennington Farm to Plate (BF2P) Council, together with the BCRC and the Alliance for Community Transformations (ACT), convened a forum on the local food system on April 22 that was attended by approximately 75 people. The BCRC has prepared a Bennington Food System “Action Plan” based on previous meetings and research conducted by BF2P and Bennington College; the objectives and projects identified in that document were the focus of small group discussions at the forum.
The large stream and wetland complex lying along Jewett Brook in Bennington has long been recognized as one of the region’s outstanding natural areas. The waters in that area provide a rich diversity of fish and wildlife habitat, opportunities for canoeing and kayaking, and scenic mountain views, while the surrounding lands contain important riparian forests and a network of trails – including one along an historic trolley line.
Approximately 80 people attended a BCRC-sponsored forum on the topic of “New Energy for Southern Vermont” at the Bennington Station Restaurant on March 21. Following presentations
on solar and wind energy (John Guerin, EOS Venutres), biomass energy (Adam Sherman, Biomass Energy Resource Center), natural gas (Tom Evslin, NG Advantage), and hydroelectric power (Bill Scully, Carbon Zero and Hoosic River Hydro), attendees asked a variety of questions about the technologies that prompted a wide-ranging discussion of the processes and challenges associated with development of those industries in our area. The presentations are available here
. Regional planning commissions in Vermont have been active in energy planning and recent legislative proposals dealing with thermal efficiency and siting of new generating facilities offer the potential for expanded work by BCRC in this area. Contact Jim Sullivan at email@example.com
for more information.
The Better Bennington Corporation and the BCRC sponsored a “Cultural Summit” on February 10 at the Mount Anthony Country Club. The purpose of the meeting was to bring together representatives from throughout the area’s arts community to discuss how we can take advantage of our already strong cultural landscape to advance economic development objectives. Over 80 people participated in the Summit, listening to a presentation on cultural planning by Bill Colvin, BCRC’s Sustainable Community Development Program Director, and then working in groups to identify the area’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities for expanding the local creative economy.
The BCRC has been working with the Alliance for Community Transformations on several healthy community design projects over the past year. A plan for a new pathway between residential developments and a school has been completed, a map and plan for the local food system has been prepared, and most recently, maps have been completed showing recreation sites relative to residential properties for each town in the region. The extent of homes outside the “service area” of recreational facilities is documented and barriers to access (lack of safe pedestrian facilities, inadequate parking, etc.) are described. A final report will be prepared and made available to all of the towns.
Bennington County’s new digital flood insurance rate maps (DFIRM) will become effective in November, and towns and villages will need to be sure that their flood hazard regulations meet current state and federal requirements by that time. Approved regulations will be required for continued participation in the National Flood Insurance Program. A detailed timeline is available for download
, but please contact Jim Henderson
at the BCRC for assistance and with any questions.
With rising gasoline prices, the BCRC assessed ways to save money on mileage spent as staff members travel around the region and state to attend meetings and workshops. With close to 15,000 miles of travel in a typical year, it was determined that leasing a high mileage car could save the organization between $2,000 and $3,000 per year. After a thorough search, the Executive Committee decided to lease a new Honda Insight Hybrid from the Carbone Honda in Bennington. We have been putting the car to good use and averaging over 45 miles per gallon in its first month of service.
We are delighted to welcome BCRC’s new Regional Planner, Allison Langsdale, to the organization and the community. Allison is relocating to the area from California, where she recently graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in Geography. While at SFSU, Allison focused her studies on land use and transportation planning and most recently worked at the Muir Heritage Land Trust in Martinez, California.
The State of Vermont recently completed an analysis of funding for needed transportation improvements ("“Section 40 – Act 153” document
. The disturbing results of that study are summarized in the table below, namely, a shortfall of over $200 million per year to fund projects that are needed to maintain Vermont’s essential transportation infrastructure.
Apple trees are located on NFS lands across the Manchester Ranger District. These apple trees typically are remnants of long-abandoned farmsteads and orchards. Many of these apple trees are over-topped by other trees, living in deep shade, and producing few or no apples. In the short term, these trees are losing fruit production due to the lack of sunlight and dense sucker production. In the long term, these trees will die as they lose access to sunlight. Feral apples provide excellent food for wildlife when released and pruned. Consequently, the Wildlife Program on the GMNF actively searches for and manages apple trees on FS Lands.
The BCRC’s Active Transportation Project Guide has been updated with new information on projects such as the Applegate-Willow Brook Path, the “Ninja Bikepath,” and bicycle, pedestrian, and streetscape projects being developed in towns and villages throughout the region. Contact Mark Anders at the BCRC (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a copy of the document, or download it
Stormwater runoff is Vermont’s most common cause of water pollution. Rainwater and snowmelt run off streets, lawns, farms, and construction and industrial sites where it picks up fertilizers, dirt, pesticides, oil and grease, and many other pollutants on the way to our streams, rivers, and lakes. You are invited to join the Vermont Environmental Consortium, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, Commissioner of Environmental Conservation David Mears, municipal leaders, environmental advocates and technical experts to discuss strategies for minimizing the impacts of stormwater runoff, and how these strategies are currently being implemented in Vermont.