The biggest race as Connecticut residents goes to the polls for Tuesday’s primaries is for the governor’s office.

There is an open seat, with Democrat Governor Dannel Malloy not seeking re-election; Republicans believe they have a good chance of winning it back after losing control in 2010. Control of the narrowly divided General Assembly is also in play, especially the state Senate, now equally split between Democrats and Republicans.

Democrats would have a lot of advantages in the state, with more registered Democrats than Republicans, and the fact that the entire Congressional delegation is currently Democrat. But Mr Malloy had grown deeply unpopular, offering Republicans a chance.

For the Democrats, businessman Ned Lamont is up against Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim. Mr Ganim previously served as Bridgeport mayor for more than a decade and was able to win re-election to the role in 2015 following a seven-year stint in federal prison for political corruption.

For the GOP, it is David Stemerman, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, the party’s endorsed candidate; Tim Herbst; Madison businessman Bob Stefanowski; and Westport tech entrepreneur and former US Navy officer Steve Obsitnik.

In Congress, Republicans will choose between business owner Matthew Corey and Dominic Rapini as their candidate to challenge Democratic Senator Chris Murphy.

In western Connecticut’s 5th congressional district, where Democrat Representative Elizabeth Esty is not seeking re-election to the House, Mary Glassman and Wolcott teacher Jahana Hayes are vying for the Democratic nomination. Former Meriden Mayor Manny Santos, retired university professor Ruby O’Neill of Southbury and Watertown manufacturing consultant Rich Dupont are seeking the Republican nomination.

Tuesday also also sees primaries in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Vermont.

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Live Updates

Hello and welcome to our coverage of the primary elections across the four states of Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin on Tuesday.

Ilhan Omar is a candidate to watch in Minnesota. She is running on the Democratic Socialists platform, the same as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York and Rashida Tlaib, who is set to be the first Muslim woman in US Congress. Ms Omar is a Somali-American and became Minnesota’s first female Muslim State Representative last year.

Ethan Sonneborn is one of four Democratic candidates for governor in Vermont. He’s a 14-year-old progressive who decided to launch his campaign after violence erupted last year during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, North Carolina. State law allows anyone who has lived in Vermont for four years to run for governor after securing enough signatures to get on the ballot, making Mr Sonneborn legally qualified despite his age.

Connecticut will host both governor and congressional races in this week’s primary. Let’s start with the governor race. Current Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy is standing down, leaving poor approval ratings behind him. His decision not to run again has caused a lot of both Republicans and Democrats to join the race. This is a state that has a tendency change parties in its governorship, suggesting this will be a tight race.

With what is expected to be a close race, who are the Republicans running for Connecticut governor? The main contenders are Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and two businessmen, Bob Stefanowski and David Stemerman.

Donald Trump has just posted his endorsement for Peter Stauber who is running for Congress in Minnesota. 

An who, in turn, are the Democrat candidates for Connecticut governor? Mirroring the Republican candidates, we have a mayor and someone from the world of business. Former journalist and business Ned Lamont, and Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim are running for the Democrats.

Phil Scott, Vermont’s Republican governor, is running for re-election despite growing concerns from the right surrounding his stance on gun control. After passing a series of measures tightening gun restrictions in the state, guns rights groups like the Gun Owners of Vermont launched a campaign calling on voters to write-in other conservative candidates, including Keith Stern and John Rodgers.

A little reminder for voters in Minnesota…

More than eight Democrats have filed to run in Wisconsin’s gubernatorial primary to oust GOP Gov. Scott Walker. Democrat Tony Evers, the state’s public education chief, is in the lead, but polling has been scarce, and several other candidates have pulled in notable endorsements and fundraising.

Mahlon Mitchell, the president of the Professional Fire Fighters Association, has the support of California Sen. Kamala Harris, and Kelda Helen Roys, a former state Assembly member, has the backing of New York’s Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (and Wisconsin’s most famed indie band, Bon Iver). State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (who has run in a Democratic gubernatorial primary before) and political activist Mike McCabe have also gotten progressive support.

Christine Hallquist is a Democratic candidate for governor in Vermont. If she wins, she’ll be the first transgender gubernatorial candidate from a major political party. She’s run on a platform of addressing local and state issues, from rural economic development to climate change, and has described her gender as just one of many defining traits.

Another race to watch in Minnesota is Tina Smith, a Democrat running for Senator. She was appointed by the Democratic Governor Dayton to replace Al Franken after the latter resigned over sexual harassment allegations and she’s running against Richard Painter, a former Bush aide.

“Ironstache” Randy Bryce, a populist ironworker and union organiser and Cathy Myers, a school board member and teacher — are in a bitter battle in Wisconsin to clinch the chance to win House Speaker Paul Ryan’s seat in Congress.

Bernie Sanders will likely run as an independent in the Vermont 2018 midterm elections. He’s expected to reject the Democratic Party’s nomination if he wins it — despite fundraising and campaigning for Democratic candidates nationwide.

A reminder for Minnesota voters…

The Republicans battling in Wisconsin are an interesting group; Bryan Steil, a well-known local business executive with Paul Ryan’s endorsement, is the favourite to win the Republican nomination. Also on the ballot is self-described “pro-White Christian American candidate” and alt-right troll Paul Nehlen; Nick Polce, an Army Green Beret and first-time candidate; Jeremy Ryan, a pro-marijuana candidate whose campaign website features him taking bong rips; and Kevin Steen, a Christian business leader who has been endorsed by Pro-Life Wisconsin.

James Ehlers is an environmental activist and Navy veteran running for the Democratic nomination for governor in Vermont. He’s proposed a “people first economy” which would focus on issues including the lack of a livable wage, affordable health care access and the environment.  ​

Associated Press contributed to this report.

UVMMC nurses go on strike in historic action

The University of Vermont Medical Center nurses went on a 48-hour strike starting July 12 at 7 am. This is the first nurses’ strike in the hospital’s history. The 1,800 nurses went back to work without a contract pending further action. The two sides have resumed negotiations but no settlement has been reached yet.

Talks on a new three-year contract began in March. The contract expired July 9. Nurses have complained of staffing shortages and wages not commensurate with peers in similar hospitals. The wage issue also affects turnover and exacerbates staffing problems, they’ve said.

Nurses have asked for a 23 percent raise over three years, while the hospital has countered with an average 13 percent increase. The difference for RNs, for instance, would result in an average wage of about $84,000 under the hospital’s proposal and $92,000 under the union’s.

Nurses are represented by the Vermont Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals. To cover for striking nurses, the hospital earlier this week brought in nearly 600 replacement nurses at a cost of about $3 million. The hospital rescheduled about half (68) the elective surgeries. All emergency and critical care services were fully operational and there were no strike-related incidents.

Feds order EB-5 Center terminated, state to appeal

The State of Vermont has received a decision from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) terminating regional center designation for the Vermont Regional Center (VRC). The July 3, 2018 decision was received by the VRC on July 6.

In August 2017, the Governor approved a plan developed by DFR and ACCD to wind-down the VRC over time, while protecting the hundreds of immigrant investors still awaiting permanent visas and preserving the economic benefits of EB-5 projects across the state.

“While the State agrees with the end-goal to close the center, as our analysis found last year, we continue to believe that the best course of action is to wind-down of the Vermont Regional Center over time, and that an abrupt termination is not warranted,” said Michael Pieciak, DFR Commissioner. “A slower closure process would better protect investors in VRC-related projects and we will articulate this position on appeal.”

EB-5 state enforcement action settles for $2.1 million

Attorney General TJ Donovan flanked at the Newport waterfront by Governor Phil Scott, Auditor Doug Hoffer, Newport Mayor Paul Monette, and others involved in economic development were in the Northeast Kingdom July 12 to announce a settlement in the state’s EB-5 enforcement action. The State of Vermont has filed a motion with the Washington Superior Court seeking approval of the settlement reached with Ariel Quiros ($2 million). A separate settlement was reached with William Stenger ($100,000). The settlements resolve the state’s enforcement actions in connection with the Jay Peak and Burke Mountain, et all, EB-5 projects. Funds from the settlements, totaling $2.1 million, will be designated for economic development in the Northeast Kingdom.

In conjunction with the settlements, Attorney General Donovan has asked Auditor Doug Hoffer to perform an audit of the state’s involvement with the EB-5 projects at Jay Peak. Documents pertaining to the EB-5 program will be delivered to Auditor Hoffer upon the Court’s approval of the Quiros settlement.

GF tax revenues finish year more than $65M over target

Personal Income taxes finished the month of June ahead of projections again, pushing General Fund revenues for the month and the now-completed fiscal year well ahead of economists’ targets. The debate over spending and property tax rates had sent the Legislature into a Special Session last month, which Governor Phil Scott called to address his veto of the budget.

Overall, General Fund revenues totaled $141.28 million, $1.55 million above the consensus cash flow expectation in June. The GF finished FY18 ahead of target by $65.32 million. The results were driven by Personal Income and Corporate Income exceeding their targets by $38.27 million and $16.96 million respectively.

Transportation Fund revenues collected for June totaled $29.84 million, -$0.39 below expectation for the month. Year to date, the TF collected $278.96 million, +$1.36 million above its $277.60 million target.

The Education Fund collected $21.11 million for the month, $1.05 million ahead of the consensus target of $20.06 million. Year to date the EF finished $4.92 million ahead of its consensus target of $198.42 million.

Vermont jobless rate holds at 2.8 percent

The Vermont Department of Labor reports that the seasonally-adjusted statewide unemployment rate for June was 2.8 percent. This reflects no change from the revised May rate. The national rate in June was 4.0 percent, which was an increase of two-tenths of one percentage point from the revised May estimate. As of the prior month’s preliminary data, the Burlington-South Burlington Metropolitan NECTA was tied for the fourth lowest unemployment rate in the country for all metropolitan areas. Overall, Vermont’s unemployment rate was 6th lowest in the nation. Hawaii was lowest (2.1 percent). New Hampshire was tied for 3rd lowest (2.7 percent) and Alaska was highest (7.1 percent).

Climate report hampered by increase in carbon emissions

The Vermont Climate Action report was published online July 31. It sets forth many goals on how to both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deal with the consequences of climate change. It also contains discouraging news about the rise of GHG emissions in Vermont, which will make achieving ambitious goals even more challenging and perhaps unlikely.

GHG emissions estimates in Vermont continued to rise for calendar year 2015, increasing from 9.45 million metric tons CO2 equivalent (MMTCO2e) in 2014 to 9.99 MMTCO2e in 2015. This increase puts Vermont approximately 16 percent above the 1990 baseline value of 8.59 MMTCO2e and adds to the difficulty of reaching the statewide goal of 50 percent below 1990 emissions levels by 2028.

COCO sells Vermont and NH Jiffy Marts for $134 million

Global Partners LP (NYSE: GLP), based in Waltham, MA, announced July 19 that it has completed the acquisition of retail fuel and convenience store assets of Vermont-based Champlain Oil Company, Inc. The acquisition includes 37 company-operated gas stations with Jiffy Mart-branded convenience stores in Vermont and New Hampshire, and approximately 24 fuel sites that are either owned or leased including lessee dealer and commission agent locations. The transaction also includes term fuel supply agreements for approximately 65 gas stations, primarily in Vermont and New Hampshire. The 126 stations primarily market major fuel brands such as Mobil, Shell, Citgo, Sunoco and Irving. The purchase price, excluding inventory, was approximately $134 million, subject to post-closing adjustments.

Consolidated workers vote to authorize strike

Unions representing Consolidated Communications workers in Northern New England say an overwhelming majority of members have authorized leaders to call a strike if negotiations do not lead to an acceptable outcome. Negotiations began in April on a contract that expires August 4. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) System Council T-9 and Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1400, together now represent more than 1,000 workers in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. They held meetings in the three states over the last 10 days where union members heard from the bargaining committee and then voted on whether to authorize a strike.

A brutal strike that lasted from October 2014 to February 2015 under previous owner FairPoint did not result in job security even after it settled, as many workers were eventually laid off. The two unions at that time represented about 1,700 workers. Consolidated is promising no layoffs if a new contract can be worked out.

No criminal misconduct in Brattleboro Retreat case

The Office of the Attorney General has concluded its investigation of the Brattleboro Retreat related to allegations of improper Medicaid claims, finding no criminal misconduct. Other investigating agencies, including the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO), reached the same conclusion. The AGO’s investigation was conducted by its Medicaid Fraud and Residential Abuse Unit after receiving a referral from the Vermont State Auditor.

Auditor can’t quantify benefit of economic incentives

An investigative piece on economic development policies conducted by Vermont Auditor Doug Hoffer calls into question the efficacy of incentives undertaken by Vermont (and indeed any state). In short, Hoffer is not sure that the money they bring in exceeds the cost of the program, whether development would have happened anyway or whether using that same money for some other program might be better spent.

Vermont PUC to allow ‘alternative’ regulation plans

The Vermont Public Utility Commission has issued an Order providing guiding principles for future electric or natural gas utility regulation plans. Under Vermont law, the Commission may approve “alternative” regulation plans in tandem with more traditional, cost-based rate requests if the Commission finds that the plans meet certain criteria.

PUC approves contracts for over 10 MW of renewable energy

On July 20, 2018, the Vermont Public Utility Commission approved the award of four contracts under Vermont’s Standard Offer program. These four contracts are in addition to three contracts awarded on June 15, 2018. The seven projects range from 90 kW to 2.2 MW in a diverse range of renewable energy technologies – five solar, one food waste anaerobic digestion, and one small wind. The successful projects will result in more than 10 MW of additional renewable energy in Vermont.

New recreational marijuana law does not legalize ‘gifting’

The Vermont Attorney General’s Office has issued an advisory to provide guidance and clarity to individuals and businesses about the scope of the law regarding the sale and gifting of marijuana. Act 86 does not legalize the sale of marijuana. Any transfer of marijuana for money, barter, or other legal consideration remains illegal under Vermont law. This includes a commercial transaction (ie, an exchange of goods or services for money) with a purported “gift” of marijuana.

Tax credits now available to all Vermont taxpayers

Changes to Vermont’s tax code will now benefit all Vermont taxpayers making charitable contributions in 2018. New legislation, which went into effect on July 2, 2018, reduces Vermont’s marginal income tax rates by 0.2 percent (with the exception of the second highest tax bracket), increases the earned income tax credit and creates a 5 percent charitable contribution tax credit for all filers in accordance with changes made in the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Without these reforms, Vermonters would have experienced an arbitrary $30 million increase in their state income taxes and Vermont’s non-profit sector may have seen diminished giving, as fewer Vermonters are expected itemize their taxes under the new federal rules.

VPR and VTPBS poll shows ‘economy’ biggest issue

VPR and Vermont PBS What do Vermonters think about the coming election? What are the key issues on their minds? Vermont Public Radio and Vermont PBS have released the full results of a joint statewide poll that measures Vermonters’ opinions the candidates and issues. On the political side, perhaps the most compelling results of the poll is the low rating for members of both parties in the Legislature and the lack of name recognition among challengers. On the non-political side, perhaps it’s “The Economy” being the biggest problem facing the state, far exceeding issues like taxes, health care and guns and despite Vermont having one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation.

Vermont to award $4 million in school safety grants

More than 250 Vermont schools have applied for funding to make security upgrades to their facilities. The state will award $4 million in grants by this fall to help schools strengthen security, using guidance from a statewide safety assessment conducted earlier this year. Governor Phil Scott ordered the assessments after an alleged school shooting plot was uncovered and averted in Fair Haven in February.

Bombardier joins Chroma as Chief Engineering Officer

In a dramatic restructuring that will allow employee-owned Chroma Technology Corp in Bellows Falls to take advantage of rapidly expanding international markets, the company has hired former IBM-GlobalFoundries leader Janette Bombardier in the newly created position of Chief Engineering Officer.

The autonomous vehicles industry is rapidly expanding leading to growth at Chroma. These vehicles require many sophisticated mirrors, which fits well into Chroma’s expertise in optics. Chroma and IBM/GF both work with thin films and Bombardier is a manufacturing expert, the company said.

Largest solar project under way

The Claremont, NH, Eagle Times reports that the Coolidge Solar Project, owned by NextEra Energy, began construction in May and will generate 20-megawatts of energy, which is four times larger than any other solar operation in Vermont, when it is completed in November. About 175 employees are expected to arrive in August to help complete the project, which includes 83,000 solar panels and covers 150-acres in Ludlow and Cavendish. The renewable energy tax credits will go to Connecticut utility companies and the towns will get on-going payments of $35,000 to start and $25,000 a year after five years.

Sprinkler causes flooding at VA hospital

On June 28, 2018, the US Department of Veterans Affairs White River Junction VA Medical Center in White River Jct experienced a sprinkler head burst in the third-floor mechanical space of Building 31, the main hospital building. The facilities management and environmental management teams were on-site overnight and through the weekend with all hands-on deck to mitigate the damage. No veteran patients staying at the hospital were affected or displaced by the flooding. The operating room was damaged, requiring more than two weeks’ worth of repair, which sent all operations to other hospitals in the meantime.

Delegation announces $3 million for AmeriCorps in Vermont

Vermont’s congressional delegation has announced that Vermont will receive $3 million in AmeriCorps funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). “AmeriCorps members have an enormous impact on the lives of Vermonters through the excellent programs they support. Here in Vermont, that includes serving at-risk youth, promoting affordable housing, protecting the environment and lots more. We are very pleased these funds will allow a new group of AmeriCorps members to continue this important work,” they said.

Paul and Barbi Schulick leave New Chapter

In 2012, Procter & Gamble, one of the world’s largest and most profitable consumer-goods companies, entered the US nutritional supplement market by acquiring Brattleboro-based New Chapter, founded by Paul and Barbi Schulick. New Chapter is known for its healing-driven mission and one-of-a-kind vitamin and herbal formulations. After six years of working with P&G, the Schulicks announced that as of July 1, 2018, they have parted ways with the company they launched more than thirty-five years ago, citing essential differences in vision and strategy.

State expands PFAs testing plan

The Vermont Department of Health has updated its health advisory for drinking water of 20 parts per trillion (ppt) to cover five per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are a large group of human-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1950s. Exposure to certain PFAS may affect different systems in the human body.

The previous health advisory of 20 ppt for PFOA and PFOS combined was issued in 2016 following the discovery of PFOA in private drinking water wells in Bennington and a public drinking water supply well in Pownal, Vermont.

Computer failure leads to 3M gallon discharge into lake

The Burlington Department of Public Works reported that 3 million gallons of wastewater and stormwater was discharged into Lake Champlain July 10. The DPW said the cause of the system failure was due to an electric storm which caused a computer failure

Partnership begins $2 million Hardwick rehab project

The Lamoille Housing Partnership (LHP) has commenced work on the Jeudevine Limited Housing Partnership, a $2 million rehabilitation project updating 18 units of affordable housing, plus one commercial space, in Hardwick. Work began this week at one of the three included properties, Highland Avenue.

Illinois firm gets big Vermont DMV contract

The Vermont State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has selected Valid USA, Inc to provide Vermont residents with securely issued driver licenses and identification (DL/ID) cards. Valid will manufacture and issue approximately 200,000 annual secure DMV documents for five years with two one-year extension options under the contract’s terms. The total value of the contract could be over $6 million.

Hot day for ultra-low sulfur heating oil

On July 1, Vermont and the rest of the Northeast switched to ultra-low sulfur heating oil. As part of the 2011 Energy Act signed into law by then Governor Shumlin, the “Clean and Green Oilheat Initiative” mandated Ultra-Low Sulfur Heating Oil with an implementation date of July 1, 2018. The rest of New England, New York and New Jersey also adopted the same 15 parts-per-million (ppm) standard.

Depart of Public Safety mourns employee Courtney Gaboriault

The Vermont Department of Public Safety mourned employee Courtney Gaboriault, who was slain by a former boyfriend July 4 in Barre. Gaboriault, who was 29, worked for the department for the past nearly five years with the Vermont Crime Information Center. She had worked as administrative services coordinator with the Vermont Marijuana Registry for the past 18 months.

Vermont ranks eighth in the nation for child well-being

This year, Vermont ranks eighth for overall child well-being, according to the 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book released in June by the Annie E Casey Foundation. Vermont ranked third last year and was as high as second in 2014 and 2013. New Hampshire and Massachusetts went one-two in 2018, as they did in 2017. Mississippi, Louisiana and New Mexico ranked at the bottom.

Vermont: 2018’s 4th worst state to start a business

A national data firm has determined that Vermont is the fourth worst place in the nation to start a business. Even worse than Vermont are Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Hawaii. Texas finished first. Vermont has a relatively high cost of living and low availability of human capital. Surprisingly, Vermont was third highest in business incentives as percentage of GDP. But at the end of the day, Vermont was 49th in the average growth in number of small businesses.

Vermont ranked 26th as place to retire

Vermont is in the middle of the pack and South Dakota is the best state in which to retire, according to a report. Utah, Idaho, New Hampshire and Florida comprise the rest of the top five. Vermont was ranked 26th-best state (tied with Wisconsin). The study examined 7 categories: cost of living, taxes, health care quality, weather, crime, cultural vitality and well-being. Vermont did well in cultural vitality (#1), health care quality (#2), well-being (#2) and crime (#3). However, it was dragged down by bottom-10 rankings in cost of living (#41), weather (#44) and taxes (#47).

Legislation impacts tax reporting of short-term rentals

During this year’s special legislative session, the Vermont General Assembly passed legislation requiring that all short-term rental operators post a Vermont Meals and Rooms Tax account number on any advertisement for the short-term rental beginning July 1, 2018. Operators who advertise through an online platform that has an agreement with the Vermont Department of Taxes to collect and remit tax, like Airbnb, may post the tax account number used by that platform. If they use the platform’s tax account number, they are not required to open a meals and rooms tax account for locations where the platform is collecting tax on their behalf.

Union Bankshares reports gains in 2Q18 results

Union Bankshares, Inc (NASDAQ:UNB) has announced results for the three and six months ended June 30, 2018 and declared a regular quarterly cash dividend. Consolidated net income for the three months ended June 30, 2018 was $2.5 million, or $0.54 per share, compared to $2.2 million, or $0.50 per share, for the same period in 2017 and $5.2 million, or $1.16 per share, for the six months ended June 30, 2018, compared to $4.2 million, or $0.93 per share for the same period in 2017.

Welch amendment to hike funding for Lake Champlain to $8.4 million

The House of Representatives has approved a bipartisan amendment, authored by Representative Peter Welch (D-Vermont) and Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY) to appropriate $8.4 million in fiscal year 2019 for the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP). The House Appropriations Committee had recommended a funding level of just $4.4 million.

Stannard couple fined over $10K for unlawful burning

The Agency of Natural Resources’ Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that Stephen McGranaghan, a former Vermont State Police Trooper, and Christina McGranaghan were fined $10,760 for burning a derelict structure and other junk materials on their property in Stannard.

Stored energy helped GMP save $500K during heatwave

During the July heat wave, Green Mountain Power’s innovative network of Tesla Powerwall batteries in customers’ homes, and larger community storage with solar installations, helped GMP cut carbon and costs for customers. GMP leveraged stored energy to accomplish the equivalent of taking 5,000 homes off the grid, creating savings for customers that could reach $500,000.

UI tax relief; claimants get increased benefits

Employers and beneficiaries have begun seeing the positive effects to the low unemployment rate and Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims. The changes took effect July 1, 2018. These changes reduce the cost of UI taxes for employers for the second year in a row. The Vermont Department of Labor announced the changes last month. Nearly 22,200 employers remit state unemployment taxes to the Vermont Department of Labor on a quarterly basis.

REDC awarded $131K subgrant for brownfield site

The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) has awarded Rutland Economic Development Corporation (REDC) a subgrant of $131,206 to develop a Health and Education Center that will house the Rutland County Parent-Child Center (RCPCC). The RCPCC currently operates from multiple locations but will have a single base once the project is complete.

Island Line Rail Trail opens, bike ferry to resume

The Island Line Rail Trail has reopened after storms washed away part of the Colchester causeway, which connects across Lake Champlain to South Hero. The Local Motion bike ferry connects the two pieces of the causeway on either side of the boat passage (formerly also a rail draw bridge).

Vt gets $450K from feds for professional licensing reform

The United States Department of Labor has awarded the Vermont Office of Professional Regulation (OPR) $450,000 to support occupational licensing reform. OPR, a Division of the Secretary of State’s Office, protects the public by regulating 50 professions and approximately 60,000 licensees.

Northern Power seeks financial hardship exemption

Barre-based Northern Power Systems Corp (TSX:NPS) has announced its intention to effect a financing pursuant to which the company will issue Convertible Subordinated Promissory Notes to certain new investors as well as certain existing investors, including John Simon and Richard Hokin, who are both current and significant shareholders of the Company and members of the Company’s Board of Directors pursuant to the financial hardship exemption available to companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under certain circumstances. The wind turbine and energy storage firm furloughed most of its 50 Vermont employees last spring as its revenue plummeted, largely due to a loss in its Italian wind business. It also is suffering significant debt and is behind on its bank loans.

State awards GW Plastics workforce development grants

The Department of Economic Development has awarded Bethel-based GW Plastics Inc Vermont Training Program (VTP) grants of more than $80,000. Two distinct initiatives will be funded under the grant program. The VTP grant, awarded at $63,750, will support process engineer training for new employees, leadership training, the GW Certificate in Manufacturing Leadership Technology, and molder apprenticeship training.

National Life donates $200K to Champlain Housing Trust

The National Life Group Foundation has granted $200,000 to the Champlain Housing Trust to fund the renovation of the Old North End Community Center. The Center is a historic building that currently houses several nonprofits from across Northwest Vermont. The current tenants include Robin’s Nest Children’s Center, the Family Room, Burlington Parks & Recreation Department, and AALV.

Habitat Stamp raised more than $100,000 in 2017

2017 was a banner year for the Vermont Habitat Stamp. Thanks to donors, more than $100,000 (a first for the stamp) for habitat conservation in Vermont was raised. Habitat Stamp funds helped us offer one-on-one assistance to landowners on habitat conservation and management. And Habitat Stamp funds also contributed to three land acquisition projects, including the largest state wildlife land purchase in Vermont in more than a decade.

SunCommon builds portable solar for Puerto Rico recovery

Volunteers from SunCommon in Waterbury are building a portable solar-powered trailer right now. The Solar Outreach System (SOS) is being constructed at the Waterbury location and will be used in a location still recovering in Puerto Rico or for future hurricane damaged islands.

Housing Vermont takes ownership of Depot Square in St J

Housing Vermont has taken ownership of the Depot Square property in St Johnsbury. Housing Vermont will operate the property under new management as it makes plans for a substantial renovation and redevelopment of the building for affordable housing and commercial opportunities. The Depot Square apartment building, located in downtown St Johnsbury, needs substantial renovations. Financing, design and permitting of the redevelopment plans are expected to take 12 to 24 months to assemble.

UVM gets $1.25 million DOT award

The University of Vermont in collaboration with the University of Maine and others will create a highly competitive University Transportation Center (UTC) called the Transportation Infrastructure Durability Center (TIDC). TIDC aims to help save taxpayer dollars by extending the life of our transportation assets, including bridges, roads and rail. The US Department of Transportation will provide as much as $14.2 million over five years for this University of Maine-led coalition, which includes UVM $1.25 million), University of Rhode Island, University of Connecticut, University of Massachusetts Lowell and Western New England University.

Vermont households could save 8 percent in energy

Efficiency Vermont and Sense have launched a pilot program with more than 200 Vermont households to assess how an innovative smart home technology can inspire people to use less energy and make their homes more efficient. Sense offers a home energy and awareness monitor that, combined with Efficiency Vermont programs and services, can transform how customers understand their own energy use and continuously encourage them to beat their “personal best” in saving energy.

Funding available from Northeast Kingdom Fund

Funding is now available for organizations and projects in Orleans, Essex, and Caledonia Counties through the Northeast Kingdom Fund at the Vermont Community Foundation. The fund awards mini-grants ($500 – $1,000) and development grants ($1,001 – $5,000) in support of projects that benefit the people and communities of the Northeast Kingdom. Nonprofits, schools, and grassroots organizations are encouraged to apply. Applications will be accepted through 5 pm September 5, 2018.

PP&D Brochure Distribution acquires Maxham

Bill Orleans, president of PP&D Brochure Distribution has reached agreement with Maxham Warehousing’s president John Morse to acquire the Maxham company’s assets, including their warehouse located in Worcester, Vermont. Maxham Warehousing has provided warehousing and distribution of brochures and magazines to Vermont’s nineteen State Welcome and Information Centers for the last seventeen years. This includes delivery of over two million pieces a year.

Sanders introduces bill to end money bail

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) has introduced legislation to end money bail, which would prevent people from being locked up before trial solely because they cannot afford their bail. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) has introduced a companion bill in the House. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and nearly a quarter of all people imprisoned on any given day, disproportionately black, Latinx, and Native American, are “unconvicted”—meaning they are sitting in jail waiting for a trial, plea bargain or conclusion to their case. Hundreds of thousands of the “unconvicted” population are in jail simply because they could not afford their bail.

AG gets money back for Shrinedom ticket holders

Vermonters and others who purchased tickets to a concert gone wrong will be eligible for refunds. The Office of Attorney General TJ Donovan has resolved its investigation of Shrinedom 2017, a rock festival that was supposed to take place on September 16, 2017, in Irasburg. Seven bands were contracted to play, including local bands and national acts Vince Neil, Slaughter, Warrant, Lita Ford and Firehouse. On the day of the festival, the organizers had not sold enough tickets to pay the national bands, who did not perform. Ten thousand dollars have been provided for ticketholders who have not yet been reimbursed. Approximately $10,000 has already been reimbursed to consumers by PayPal, which processed many of the payments. Ticket buyers eligible for reimbursement can submit an online form located at the Attorney General’s website.

Audit finds possible fraud in Medicaid residential services

Vermont Auditor Doug Hoffer today released a new audit report regarding the Choices for Care (CFC) program managed by the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living DAIL. The auditor found several cases of possible improper payments or even possible fraud within the program. Nationally and in Vermont, the use of home-based care has given rise to compliance and fraud issues. For example, Vermont’s Medicaid Fraud and Residential Abuse Unit (MFRAU) has obtained fraud convictions of attendants and/or their employers.

Social Security recipients get $5 million tax cut

Nearly 40,000 Vermonters receiving Social Security benefits will keep more of their income due to an income tax exemption proposed by Governor Phil Scott and passed by the Legislature. This change, included in Act 11 of the 2018 Special Session, creates a personal income tax exemption for Social Security beneficiaries below certain income thresholds. The law takes effect in calendar year 2018 for tax returns filed in 2019.

Disaster declaration approved for five Vermont counties

Governor Phil Scott today announced that President Donald Trump has signed a major disaster declaration for Chittenden, Grand Isle, Lamoille, Orange and Orleans counties. Those counties suffered substantial damage during severe storms on May 4 & 5 of this year.

Rock of Ages owner buys famous French limestone quarries

The parent company of Barre’s Rock of Ages, Polycor Inc of Quebec, has acquired four famous limestone quarries located in Burgundy, France, previously belonging to Rocamat. The French quarries have been used for centuries to build landmarks across Europe. Vermont-based Swenson Granite and Rock of Ages are part of the Polycor family of brands.

Law curbs abuses by credit card terminal lessors

A law to help small businesses went into effect on July 1. Act 4, “an Act relating to regulating finance leases for credit card terminals,” regulates leases of credit card terminals to smaller merchants. These terminals often cost a few hundred dollars to purchase but are leased for thousands of dollars by predatory finance leasing companies. The leases are not cancellable and extend for 4 years. Act 4 puts protections in place to curb unfair practices by finance leasing companies.

Berkshire Hills reports 73% increase in 2Q earnings

Berkshire Hills Bancorp, Inc (NYSE: BHLB) has reported second quarter 2018 net income of $34 million, which was a 73% increase over 2017 second quarter net income of $20 million. This primarily reflected the benefit of Berkshire’s Greater Boston expansion through acquisition and business development, resulting in higher market share, increased efficiency, and record profitability. Berkshire Bank has branches in southwestern Vermont.

Council approves over $400K in early learning initiative awards

The Burlington City Council has approved the recipients of the City’s awards to support the expansion of high-quality childcare in Burlington for children from birth to three years old. These awards are the City’s first step in supporting the growth of high-quality childcare, which has been demonstrated to help prepare children for school, narrow the opportunity gap, improve future health and education outcomes, and reduce future public spending. Mayor Miro Weinberger presented the awards at the City Council’s July 16, 2018 meeting.

VTC gets full initial accreditation for paramedicine program

Vermont Technical College has announced that their paramedicine program has received official accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Initial full national accreditation was granted to the new Paramedicine certificate program. The CAAHEP is responsible for the specialized accreditation of paramedicine education programs. The program is the first fully accredited paramedicine program in the state.

Howard Center to distribute free fentanyl test strips

As part of its harm reduction approach to the treatment of opiate use, the Howard Center’s Safe Recovery program is distributing free test strips that can indicate the presence of fentanyl in illicit opiates. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 63,632 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2016. The CDC attributes the rise in overdose deaths to the increased presence of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin.

Over $30,000 raised to support hospice at CVHHH

With the support of individuals and area businesses, Central Vermont Home Health & Hospice (CVHHH) raised over $30,000 to support its Hospice program at its annual golf tournament. Twenty-one teams gathered on June 20 at the Country Club of Barre for a day of golf, a silent auction, a Red Sox raffle, and a barbecue dinner provided by a top sponsor, New England Excess Exchange.

Stowe brings pro tennis back to Vermont

Professional tennis returns to Vermont for its second year as the Stowe Mountain Lodge Classic hosts some of the top men’s tennis players coming to Stowe to prepare for the US Open, which takes place the following week in New York. The second-year event builds on the success of the 2017 tournament, won by world #22 Albert Ramos, and has continued its partnership with luxury mountainside community, Spruce Peak and Stowe Mountain Lodge, to host the eight-player exhibition event this August 18–22.

College of St Joseph offers 3-year accelerated degree program

College of St Joseph in Rutland has announced a program that will enable students to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in just three years, joining a growing number of colleges offering the shorter path as a way to save students money, and allow them to enter the workforce sooner. CSJ’s Degree in Three accelerated track will be available to students beginning with the Fall 2018 semester.

Norwich initiates income share program to tackle affordability

Norwich University, the oldest private military college in the United States, has announced a new income share agreement initiative aimed at improving affordability, student retention, and degree completion. Beginning in fall 2018, Norwich undergraduate students will have the opportunity to opt-in to an innovative financing model in which they will pay reduced tuition in exchange for a set percentage of income after graduation over a set period of time.

Vermont Tech gets $400,000 for dental program

Vermont Technical College has received $400,000 from the US Department of Health and Human Services to develop a program to educate dental therapists, which will help expand access to much-needed oral health care throughout Vermont. The $400,000 in federal funds will play an instrumental role in establishing and implementing a dental therapy education program at Vermont Technical College.

PP&D Brochure Distribution acquires Maxham Warehousing

Bill Orleans, president of PP&D Brochure Distribution has reached agreement with Maxham Warehousing’s president John Morse to acquire the Maxham company’s assets, including their warehouse located in Worcester, Vermont. Maxham Warehousing has provided warehousing and distribution of brochures and magazines to Vermont’s nineteen State Welcome and Information Centers for the last seventeen years. This includes delivery of over two million pieces a year.

Antin completes acquisition of FirstLight

Albany, NY-based FirstLight, a provider of fiber-optic communications in Vermont and throughout the Northeast, announced today that Antin Infrastructure Partners has completed the acquisition of FirstLight. Antin acquired the company from private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners, Novacap and Riverside Partners Financial terms of the completed transaction were not disclosed.

Forbes names Vermont Federal best credit union in Vermont

Forbes named Vermont Federal Credit Union as the best credit union in Vermont in their first-ever “America’s Best-In-State Credit Unions” list. Vermont Federal Credit Union was one of 145 credit unions to be recognized by Forbes in their inaugural Best In State Credit Unions list, and the only credit union in Vermont to be named. This honor places the Credit Union amongst only 2.4% of financial institutions nationwide to earn the recognition.

Source: Vermont Business Magazine

Monday, August 13, 2018

NRA’s recipe for moose donair meat takes a shot at Maritimers

Plus you can take the “What is donair sauce made of?” quiz.

Posted By on Mon, Aug 13, 2018 at 4:19 PM

click to enlarge America's National Rifle Association sets its sights on Halifax history with the Wild Game Donair.

  • America’s National Rifle Association sets its sights on Halifax history with the Wild Game Donair.

The National Rifle Association’s ongoing efforts to make guns a totally normal lifestyle choice in the USA have now taken aim at Halifax’s official totally normal lifestyle choice, the donair.

An NRA magazine called American Hunter published a recipe for Wild Game Donair on its website this weekend. Apparently meat from moose, deer and elk works “exceptionally well” in donairs, writes Brad Fenson, as long as you remember “it’s critical to emulsify the meat by grinding it three or more times or using a food processor to break the meat down into a paste.” Which sounds appetizing-as-heck and all, but the real reason this recipe caught my eye is its snide attitude towards east coasters.

On the subject of the donair’s background, American Hunter is not content to acknowledge this particular beef-and-sweet-sauce spin on a kebab is a true Halifax dish. Instead, the recipe blends some vague dispute about where the donair came from, with a sweeping generalization about the famous lying nature of people in the Maritimes, to deny the Haligonian heritage of donairs:

A restaurant dubbed “King of Donair” in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada claims to be the inventor of this east coast donair delicacy, but there are others who allege the same. Maritimers are great storytellers, and rumor has it a Greek immigrated to Atlantic Canada and opened a traditional restaurant with the Mediterranean flavors of his native country. The old standbys at home didn’t seem to hit the mark with east coast Canadian appetites, so recipes were adapted using beef and spices preferred by locals to create a unique meal. Add a sweet garlic sauce to the mix, and you have an authentic Canadian donair.

Is the deliberate and unnecessary divisiveness on display in this article straight out of Donald Trump’s playbook? That question’s too easy. For harder sport, do you know the three ingredients in donair sauce? Take the following quiz to find out.

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