Friday, December 9, 2016

CHT Buys Motel to House Hospital Patients, Homeless

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2016 at 11:12 AM

University of Vermont Medical Center main campus - COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT MEDICAL CENTER
  • Courtesy of University of Vermont Medical Center
  • University of Vermont Medical Center main campus
The University of Vermont Medical Center is investing in a cure for an all-too common patient problem: a lack of housing.

The hospital partnered with Champlain Housing Trust to purchase a Burlington motel that will lodge patients who are homeless or need temporary housing. On Friday, CHT announced its agreement to use donated UVMMC dollars to buy the Bel-Aire Motel on Shelburne Street in Burlington’s South End. The purchase is expected to be finalized this month.

CHT plans to refurbish the motel to create eight apartments that can house 12 people. Permitting and renovations on the property will begin this winter, and the space could ready for tenants by April, CHT officials said.

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Burlington Solicits Feedback for Redesign of City Hall Park

Posted By on Thu, Dec 8, 2016 at 6:59 PM

  • Courtesy City of Burlington
  • City Hall Park design
A new proposed design for Burlington’s City Hall Park is making the rounds to a host of committee and board meetings. City officials want input for upcoming renovations.

A citizens’ group is meanwhile promoting a competing vision for the downtown green space.

City officials say a full renovation is needed. The central fountain is choked with leaves, grass has thinned and walkways have deteriorated. “Grass seed isn’t the solution. Because we’ve tried that over the years ,” said Jesse Bridges, Burlington’s director of Parks, Recreation and Waterfront. “It needs a reboot.”

The city’s conceptual plan, designed by the Burlington-based Wagner Hodgson Landscape Architecture, has been five years in the making. The design includes an informal performance area and an interactive fountain for children to play in. The plan includes widened pathways and open green space.

The central fountain would be removed and additional trees would be planted. The city is scheduled to break ground in 2018.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Sinex Picks Local Firm to Construct Burlington Town Center

Posted By on Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 2:05 PM

  • Katie Jickling
  • Don Sinex
Developer Don Sinex has tapped a South Burlington construction firm to head up development of the Burlington Town Center.

At a press conference at the downtown mall on Wednesday, Sinex announced that PC Construction will build the $250 million project, which he hopes will break ground in the spring. He also introduced a dozen additional contractors, many of them based in and around Burlington, responsible for landscaping, parking, engineering and art projects.

In front of the mall's Christmas array and a Santa Claus, Sinex highlighted the local roots of those he had picked. "Buy local — that's what I've done," he said. It's just the first step in "transforming and strengthening the local economy," he said.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

New UVM Aid Program to Help Limited-Income Students

Posted By on Tue, Dec 6, 2016 at 4:30 PM

Ira Allen Chapel, UVM Campus - SEVEN DAYS
  • Seven Days
  • Ira Allen Chapel, UVM Campus
The University of Vermont gave prospective students who live in the Green Mountain State an early Christmas present Tuesday.

Under a new program that will start for the class entering in the fall of 2017, students could benefit from a fill-in-the-gap financial assistance program directed at Vermonters who qualify for federal Pell Grants.

Their UVM tuition would already be covered by financial aid, but that does not cover fees that amount to a sizable sum — about $2,750 annually.

Now that part of the bill will disappear.

The Catamount Commitment guarantees that all Vermonters receiving Pell grants pay no tuition and no comprehensive fee — expected to be $17,732 in the 2017-18 school year.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Burlington Councilors Consider a Pay Raise for Themselves

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2016 at 2:48 PM

Burlington City Hall - FILE: ALICIA FREESE
  • File: Alicia Freese
  • Burlington City Hall
The Burlington City Council agreed unanimously on Monday to consider a wage hike for council members.

Currently, councilors earn $3,000 a year — a figure that has stayed the same for more than 12 years, according to independent Councilor Dave Hartnett, who sponsored the resolution. Given the time he spends on the job, “I don’t believe it would be even minimum wage,” he said.

“We do it for the love of the city … but I think we need to be realistic,” he told the council on Monday. “In the last 12 to 16 months, I feel like I’ve spent more time with city council than I have with my family. That’s valuable time.”

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U.S. Attorney’s Office Adds a Civil Rights Prosecutor

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2016 at 12:37 PM

U.S. Attorney Eric Miller, at podium - FILE: MARK DAVIS
  • FIle: Mark Davis
  • U.S. Attorney Eric Miller, at podium
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Burlington has hired a new prosecutor who will focus on enforcing civil rights laws.

Julia Torti, a Vermont native who worked as a civil rights attorney in New York, is one of 34 new assistant U.S. attorneys that the U.S. Department of Justice is hiring across the country to enforce laws against discrimination.

The Vermont office said it secured one of the positions through a competitive application process.

“Aggressive protection of the civil rights of the residents of Vermont is a top priority for the Department of Justice,” U.S. Attorney Eric Miller said in a prepared statement. “The Department and this U.S. Attorney’s Office are committed to a level playing field for all Vermont residents, promoting equal opportunity for Vermonters, and educating the public about their rights and responsibilities under federal civil rights laws.”

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Burlington City Council Votes — Twice — to Welcome Immigrants

Posted By on Mon, Nov 28, 2016 at 11:58 PM

A large crowd at Burlington City Council - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • A large crowd at Burlington City Council
The Burlington City Council voted overwhelmingly Monday to back a pair of resolutions welcoming immigrants.

One supports the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the Queen City, while the second will begin the process of earning Burlington the designation of a sanctuary city. Both motions, which drew a large crowd of civilian supporters, passed easily.

Before the meeting, a group of more than 200 people held a vigil on the Burlington City Hall steps. Attendees cradled candles against the wind and carried signs supporting Syrian refugees.

“I see in this resolution the opportunity to send a message to members of our community to see that the city remains the place we enjoy today, that it is not impacted by these broader national decisions,” said Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger.

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Allegiant Air Prepares to Take Off From Burlington — for Good

Posted By on Mon, Nov 28, 2016 at 1:22 PM

Burlington International Airport - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Burlington International Airport
Budget flights to Orlando, Fla., on Allegiant Air are being phased out at Burlington International Airport three years after they began.

The airline will officially sever service out of BTV in March 2017, ending the run between Burlington and Orlando Sanford International Airport.

The penny-wise airline likes airports with little infrastructure and lower fees than what Burlington’s airport generally charges, according to Gene Richards, director of aviation.

“They were not happy,” Richards said. “They do not want to pay the fees that the other airlines pay because that is not their model. So I think that’s what it came down to.”

An airline spokeswoman confirmed that Allegiant's service to Burlington will end on March 4. "Increased airport costs and a route that lacked strong demand made it a situation which was no longer financially feasible for us," Hilarie Grey wrote in an email.

News of the departure comes as the airport negotiates five-year agreements with the other airlines that fly in and out of Burlington. American Airlines has already signed an agreement, and Delta, United and JetBlue have agreed to terms and are expected to sign by year’s end, according to Richards.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Groups Spent $62,000 Supporting Burlington Ballot Items

Posted By on Wed, Nov 23, 2016 at 3:49 PM

Mayor Miro Weinberger speaking at a news conference about ballot questions - SASHA GOLDSTEIN
  • Sasha Goldstein
  • Mayor Miro Weinberger speaking at a news conference about ballot questions
Three groups supporting two Election Day ballot items surrounding the Burlington Town Center redevelopment spent nearly $62,000 to help get the measures passed, campaign finance filings show.

The Partnership for Burlington’s Future, a political action committee created by Mayor Miro Weinberger and chaired by city Councilor Dave Hartnett, spent about $41,000 on the effort. In the two weeks leading up to November 8, the group dropped more than $20,000 on advertising, signs and posters, along with food and supplies for a spaghetti dinner at the Fletcher Free Library. The PAC paid to host an election night party at the Courtyard Burlington Harbor to watch the results roll in.

The partnership, which also advocated for two other local ballot items that passed, raised about $40,000 and had an additional $3,267 left over from a previous campaign, reports filed Tuesday with the Secretary of State’s Office show.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

At Burlington Book Tour Stop, Sanders Soothes Supporters

Posted By on Tue, Nov 22, 2016 at 11:35 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders at a book tour event in Burlington Tuesday night - ALICIA FREESE
  • Alicia Freese
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders at a book tour event in Burlington Tuesday night
Several hundred Vermonters assembled at the Church of Bernie on Tuesday night.

The hymn books at the First Unitarian Universalist Society Meeting House where they gathered went unopened. Instead, people in the pews paged through hardback copies of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) hefty new book, Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, waiting for the man himself to appear at the pulpit. It proved a fitting setting for a former presidential candidate who’s now famous for his political proselytizing.

Hosted by Phoenix Books and held in Sanders’ hometown of Burlington, the event was one of several sold-out stops on his nationwide book tour. Sanders announced his Senate campaign at the same church in 2006 and some of his most zealous fans attended Tuesday night’s sermon.

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