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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

VPR Announces President and CEO Turnau Stepping Down

Posted By on Tue, Aug 15, 2017 at 5:06 PM

  • Courtesy: Vermont Public Radio
  • Robin Turnau
Vermont Public Radio announced Tuesday that President and CEO Robin Turnau, who has led the station since 2009, plans to step down in March.

“Reaching this decision has been very difficult for me,” Turnau, a Charlotte resident, said in a statement released by VPR. “I care deeply about VPR and it has been an integral part of my life for the past 28 years. Every one of those years has been incredibly rewarding, and waking up and coming to work each day continues to be a joy. I’ve been working at VPR for more than half my life and I realized it was time for a new challenge.”

Turnau, who started working at VPR in 1989 as membership and volunteer coordinator, said she has no plans for what she will do after stepping down.

The announcement comes as the station recently wrapped up a $10 million capital campaign to pay for a large expansion and renovation of VPR’s Colchester headquarters and to establish a fund to bolster programming.

“She has led our beloved institution during a time of intense media disruption,” VPR Board chair Peggy Williams said in a prepared statement. “Thanks to her dedication, hard work and professionalism, VPR is stronger than ever and poised for an even greater future. She has kept our focus firmly on doing what’s best for VPR’s audience.”

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Dogs-Gone: Franklin County Animal Rescue Fights to Reopen

Posted By on Tue, Aug 15, 2017 at 2:49 PM

Kelly Frederick and Toki - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • Kelly Frederick and Toki
The Franklin County Animal Rescue sat vacant on Friday, save for Toki, an immense white and brown cat who stalked the halls like he owned the place.

For now, Toki, three other cats and a brood of six kittens are the only residents in the shelter, which shuttered in April because of financial woes. He meandered past vacant "cat condos" and rubbed affectionately against the legs of Kelly Frederick, who was hired in July to fix the failing organization.

Frederick hoped to find a new home for Toki, who'd been adopted once and then returned to the shelter. It's one item on a long list of challenges she's faced in her job as transition manager for the cash-strapped St. Albans shelter. There were also phones that broke last week and kittens left — abandoned — in front of the shelter.

Frederick shrugged. "I'm the boots on the ground," she said.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Beer, Clean Energy on Agenda for Young Professionals

Posted By on Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 4:43 PM

Amanda O'Brien (left) and Laura Pierce talk Monday at Fiddlehead Brewing about helping young adults find work in Vermont as Gov. Phil Scott (right) and Paul Dame  look on. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Amanda O'Brien (left) and Laura Pierce talk Monday at Fiddlehead Brewing about helping young adults find work in Vermont as Gov. Phil Scott (right) and Paul Dame look on.
One of the first steps toward attracting young professionals to Vermont: Make stacks of beer the backdrop at a press conference.

Craft brewing is, after all, one of the industries drawing young people to the state, organizers with Rutland Young Professionals said Monday morning at Fiddlehead Brewing’s glistening new brewery in Shelburne. The venue proved effective in luring about a dozen reporters and videographers looking to find out more.

What was really on tap was a somewhat sophisticated pitch by the the group to tout its third annual Young Professionals Summit, scheduled for September 9 in Rutland.

Armed with folders and stickers, and with the professional help of Montpelier-based Leonine Public Affairs, they traveled to the population hub of Chittenden County. They put out the call for young adults to attend the daylong summit intended to help people establish careers in Vermont. Gov. Phil Scott also made an appearance.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Winooski Gay Bar Once Known as Mister Sister Has Closed

Posted By on Mon, Jul 24, 2017 at 6:53 PM

An image posted to the Bridge Club website - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • An image posted to the Bridge Club website
The Bridge Club, a Winooski gay bar, has officially closed its doors, just about five months after it opened to much fanfare — and controversy — under the name Mister Sister.

Owner Craig McGaughan changed the name in June after coming under pressure from some in Vermont's LGBTQ community, members of which slammed the name Mister Sister as a transphobic slur. Despite the branding shakeup, the place was shuttered earlier this month during a failed GoFundMe campaign to raise capital.

"FAKE SOCIAL JUSTICE TERRORISTS PUT US OUT OF BUSINESS," reads a message on the bar's website. The story on the GoFundMe page — which raised nearly $2,000 of a $100,000 goal — reads, "Unfortunately, we're permanently closed." And the business' Facebook page, where McGaughan frequently got into heated discussions with commenters, appears to have been deleted as well.

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Dubies Bring Vermont Maple Syrup to Trump’s White House

Posted By on Mon, Jul 17, 2017 at 9:55 PM

Marianne Dubie greets President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Monday as Brian Dubie (left) and Mark Dubie (right) look on. - COURTESY BRIAN DUBIE
  • Courtesy Brian Dubie
  • Marianne Dubie greets President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the White House on Monday as Brian Dubie (left) and Mark Dubie (right) look on.
Mark and Marianne Dubie were on vacation in Arizona when the invitation came last Wednesday to display their Dubie Family Maple products at a 50-state Made in America showcase at the White House.

“We really didn’t believe it at first,” Mark Dubie said by phone Monday afternoon.

Despite logistical challenges, the husband-and-wife team accepted the invite and scurried off to Staples in Phoenix to create poster boards championing Vermont’s sweet stuff.

They were met Monday in Washington, D.C., by Dubie’s brother, Brian, who flew in with two suitcases carrying 70 pounds of maple syrup and maple candies.

Later in the day, the three Dubies welcomed President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and several hundred other visitors to their exhibit in the White House Blue Room.

“It was really cool,” Mark told Seven Days after leaving the White House. “The president spent five minutes with us.”

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Monday, July 10, 2017

Contested Surgery Center Wins Approval of State Regulators

Posted By on Mon, Jul 10, 2017 at 7:51 PM

Amy Cooper and Dr. Tom Dowhan at the site of the proposed surgical center in 2015 - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Amy Cooper and Dr. Tom Dowhan at the site of the proposed surgical center in 2015
Vermont health care regulators on Monday approved a freestanding, for-profit surgery center in Colchester — despite strong objections from all of the state’s hospitals.

The decision comes two years after a group of doctors first sought permission from the Green Mountain Care Board to build an independent outpatient facility.

Amy Cooper, a member of that group and executive director of the independent doctors’ association HealthFirst, pitched the center as a lower-cost alternative to the care provided in hospitals.

The Green Mountain Surgery Center will perform colonoscopies, epidural injections, orthopedic surgeries, hernia repair and other procedures that aren’t emergencies and don’t require overnight stays. Cooper has said — and the decision stipulates — that the center will accept patients regardless of the insurance they have. The Office of the Health Care Advocate, a consumer watchdog housed within Vermont Legal Aid, ultimately backed the project.

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New Owners Rebrand Burlington Labs as Aspenti Health

Posted By on Mon, Jul 10, 2017 at 4:35 PM

Chris Powell, CEO of Aspenti Health, speaks at Monday's press conference as Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger (center) and Gov. Phil Scott (left) listen. - MOLLY WALSH/SEVEN DAYS
  • Molly Walsh/Seven Days
  • Chris Powell, CEO of Aspenti Health, speaks at Monday's press conference as Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger (center) and Gov. Phil Scott (left) listen.
The local drug-screening company that was targeted in the state's largest-ever Medicaid fraud case last year has a new name — Aspenti Health.

The new owners of the former Burlington Labs announced the rebranding at a press conference Monday outside company headquarters on Main Street in Burlington.

Gov. Phil Scott and Mayor Miro Weinberger were on hand to offer their support, saying the reorganized company plays a vital role in opioid addiction treatment.

The Aspen symbolizes clarity of purpose and the "ti" in the new name is a reference to harmony and the seventh note on the musical scale, said Chris Powell, CEO of the reconstituted company.

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Blodgett Oven to Leave Its Prime Lakefront Property in Burlington

Posted By on Mon, Jul 3, 2017 at 12:46 PM

Blodgett Oven's current building on Lakeside Avenue - MATTHEW ROY
  • Matthew Roy
  • Blodgett Oven's current building on Lakeside Avenue
Blodgett Oven will move to Essex after 169 years in Burlington — and a group of investors has purchased its sprawling industrial complex on the shore of Lake Champlain in the Lakeside neighborhood.

The future of the coveted Lakeside Avenue property, with shoreline and expansive views of the Adirondacks across the lake, has been the subject of speculation for years. Investors using the name Lakeside Ovens LLC purchased it on June 23. The group paid $14.3 million — well above the grand list value of $4.1 million.

Matt Daly, the Burlington attorney representing the buyers, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

New England Culinary Institute Merges With Ohio Art School

Posted By on Thu, Jun 8, 2017 at 6:34 PM

Rachel Kalinowski, left, and Lauren Layman fill savory mini quiches at NECI in Montpelier. - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Rachel Kalinowski, left, and Lauren Layman fill savory mini quiches at NECI in Montpelier.
New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier has merged with an art school in suburban Cleveland, confirmed NECI spokesman Philip Stevens. NECI released a statement from its president on Thursday with the announcement.

The merger of NECI with Virginia Marti College of Art and Design in Lakewood, Ohio, went into effect Wednesday, Stevens said. The colleges will continue to offer their own curricula but will pool administrative resources including IT, finance and accounting, he noted.

The schools already share a president, Milan Milasinovic, who took over the leadership of NECI in December. Milasinovic was then the president and owner of the art school in Ohio. He was unavailable for comment Thursday,

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Stiffed? Women Say a Retail Shop That Is Closing Owes Them Money

Posted By on Mon, Jun 5, 2017 at 5:00 PM

Signs in the 2nd Time Around store window - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • Signs in the 2nd Time Around store window
The 2nd Time Around shop will close by the end of the month and might not pay consignors who are owed money for clothing sold at the Burlington store.

"I'm upset," said Juliana Taylor after leaving the Church Street resale outlet Monday.

The Burlington woman says 2nd Time Around owes her $200 for clothing the store sold on her behalf. So far her efforts to collect have been futile.

"Sometime, maybe around March, they stopped issuing checks," she said. When she asked about it, Taylor was initially told there was a bookkeeping delay. Now she said, "It's pretty clear that that wasn't it."

The store is part of a national chain based in Massachusetts that once had 40 locations in a dozen states. Over several decades it became known for putting a high-end spin on thrift, with sales of gently used designer duds.

But some locations were padlocked this spring, and the company announced over the weekend that all stores would close, including the one in Burlington, due to financial problems.

"Because of a convergence of market forces hitting all brick-and-mortar stores — including increased competition from online retailers combined with skyrocketing rents — we have made the difficult decision to close our stores," a company statement reads.

The store typically pays consignors 40 percent of an item's sale price and keeps the rest. Now that agreement might not be honored.

The announcement on the company website said consignors would be reimbursed for sales that took place after May 1. But money from prior sales might not materialize.

"At this time, the company cannot commit to paying consignors whose items were sold prior to May 1. Further communications will be forthcoming as more information becomes available," the statement advises.
The shop on Church Street - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • The shop on Church Street
Monday, the Burlington store announced its pending demise with a large "Going Out of Business" sign in the front window.

Inside, a few shoppers looked at frothy summer tops, jeans, boots and soft leather handbags — all gently used. Brands ranged from high-end designers such as Boden and Joie to J.Crew, Ralph Lauren and the more budget-conscious Loft.

Liz Stanley, acting manager of the Burlington store, said Monday she could not comment on the reimbursement problems. A "handful" of employees work at the store along with her, she said, and everyone will be out of a job by July 1 when the business closes.

A liquidation sale could be coming in the next week or so, but hasn't started yet. The closing date isn't yet set. "Our final date is dependent on when we can clear our merchandise," Stanley said.

Taylor visited the store to pick up some of her unsold clothing Monday, and to seek more information on recovering her $200.

When Taylor called the line set up by the company for inquiries about funds owed, she waited on hold only to hear a recording of the statement she'd already read on the company website.

"It was totally unhelpful," said Taylor.

She's not the only upset consignor. Olivia Bartelheim of Burlington is out about $250 for clothing the store sold on her behalf.

“I entered in this agreement with them assuming that it would be honored," she said. "It's very frustrating to me. I feel like I was stolen from." Bartelheim said. "It's bad business practice, very shady.”

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