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Friday, April 14, 2017

Bernie Sanders Brings His Message to Ben & Jerry's St. Albans Plant

Posted By on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 5:22 PM

Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks at the Ben & Jerry's plant in St. Albans. - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks at the Ben & Jerry's plant in St. Albans.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took his economic populist message to the Ben & Jerry's plant in St. Albans on Friday, telling employees that the company is a model of corporate responsibility.

"This company has had an impact in getting the word out to other corporations in Vermont and America that the bottom line is not enough," Sanders told a crowd of 100 workers employed by a company known for its philanthropic and social justice efforts.

In a 40-minute speech and question-and-answer session, Sanders hammered home familiar campaign themes and went after President Donald Trump, saying the Republican has strayed from his campaign promise to look out for working-class Americans.

"If you follow everything he's been doing, it's exactly the opposite," Sanders said.

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The Man Who Built Bolton Valley Resort Buys It Back

Posted By on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 3:38 PM

Lindsay, Ralph and Evan DesLauriers - COURTESY BOLTON VALLEY RESORT
  • Courtesy Bolton Valley Resort
  • Lindsay, Ralph and Evan DesLauriers
Bolton Valley Resort has come full circle.

The DesLauriers family — including patriarch Ralph, who founded the ski area in 1966 — has bought back the resort.

The purchase ends 10 years of ownership under developers Doug Nedde and Larry Williams, who owns the commercial real estate company Redstone. Terms of the deal, announced Friday, were not disclosed.

“When I built Bolton Valley back in the ’60s, I made it my mission to give every Vermont child the opportunity to ski,” Ralph DesLauriers said in a news release. “We established after-school programs where kids could take the bus up after school and learn to ski — and tens of thousands of kids all over Chittenden and Washington counties have learned to love skiing at Bolton Valley. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of, and it’s that same family centered mission and love of Vermont that’s driving me and my kids back into this business.”

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

BTV Ignite Hires New Executive Director

Posted By on Wed, Apr 12, 2017 at 2:03 PM

Dennis Moynihan - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • Dennis Moynihan
Burlington tech nonprofit BTV Ignite has hired a new executive director from across the pond.

Dennis Moynihan will relocate from London to take the helm of the three-year-old organization, the city announced at a news conference Wednesday. He'll replace Mike Schirling, a former Burlington police chief whom Gov. Phil Scott chose in December to serve as Vermont's commerce secretary.

"We live in an ever more rapidly changing world that's not only benefiting from technology, but being really disrupted by it," Moynihan said. "My job ... is to help Burlington, Chittenden County and Vermont thrive in this 21st century digital world."

Moynihan comes to Vermont after 11 years working across the Atlantic, most recently as the London node director of EIT Digital, a branch of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. He led an "innovation accelerator" that invested in digital technologies to integrate education, research and businesses.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Media Note: Vermont PBS Reaps $56 Million in FCC Spectrum Auction

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2017 at 1:16 PM

Vermont PBS board chair Patricia Gabel, left, and station president Holly Groschner - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Vermont PBS board chair Patricia Gabel, left, and station president Holly Groschner
Vermont PBS announced Friday that it sold one of its four broadcast licenses for $56 million, money it plans to use to fund new programs and expand services for years to come.

The station said the loss of the license would not cause any reduction in over-the-air coverage. Instead, the windfall could transform the sleepy station into one of the most financially powerful media organizations in Vermont.

Vermont PBS, which airs syndicated shows such as "Sesame Street" and "NOVA," along with local productions "Outdoor Journal" and "Vermont This Week," says it plans to use the bulk of the money to provide expanded offerings in both over-the-air and digital platforms. It has no plans to use the money for "brick and mortar" improvements, Vermont PBS president Holly Groschner said during a press conference inside the station's Colchester studios.

"We are doubling down on the Vermontness of our broadcast," Groschner said. "We are hoping to be able to produce more Vermont content and [explore] more Vermont issues."

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Senate Panel Nixes Scott's Labor-Commerce Merger Plan

Posted By on Tue, Feb 7, 2017 at 2:41 PM

Labor Commissioner Lindsay Kurrle and Commerce Secretary Mike Schirling (seated, head of table) - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Labor Commissioner Lindsay Kurrle and Commerce Secretary Mike Schirling (seated, head of table)
A Vermont Senate committee voted 4-1 on Tuesday against Gov. Phil Scott’s plan to merge the Agency of Commerce and Community Development with the Department of Labor.

For Scott, it served as the second legislative defeat of his proposed changes to state government in a week. But this time, lawmakers were quick to argue that they agree with parts of the governor’s plan — just not all the details.

Last week, another Senate committee and the full House voted to nix Scott’s plan to delay school budget votes while freezing spending plans at this year’s levels. Scott’s proposal served as the cornerstone of his budget address.

On Tuesday, the Senate Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs Committee voted down Scott’s executive order to fold Commerce and Labor into a new Agency of Economic Opportunity. Critics said it would be a mistake to put the agency that promotes business in charge of regulating labor laws.

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Pending Lawsuit Stalls Winooski Hotel Project

Posted By on Thu, Feb 2, 2017 at 11:01 AM

Marcy Harding, holding legal pad, leads a hotel site visit Monday. - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • Marcy Harding, holding legal pad, leads a hotel site visit Monday.
Opponents of a proposed 97-room hotel in downtown Winooski won a round Monday in their bid to block the project, which they say would exacerbate a parking shortage and eat up public park space.

The seven-story hotel, which would sit across from the Winooski traffic circle on Winooski Falls Way, is being opposed on two fronts.

Last week, neighboring property owners that are part of the Winooski Downtown Redevelopment Association filed a lawsuit in Vermont Superior Court to stop the hotel.

Then on Monday, the group convinced a regional environmental commission to hold off on hotel permit review until the court battle is resolved.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Charlotte Pair Say They Plan to Invest Big in Vermont Businesses

Posted By on Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 7:33 PM

Vermont Works - COURTESY OF VERMONT WORKS
  • Courtesy of Vermont Works
  • Vermont Works
Come spring, the managing partners of a private equity fund hope to funnel some much-needed cash into established Vermont businesses.

Frank Koster and Robert Zulkoski, next-door neighbors who live in Charlotte, have initiated a “soft launch” of Vermont Works, an investment firm focused on building sustainable jobs and supporting health and wellness initiatives. The partners plan to offer $1 to $5 million investments to companies that are up and running but need additional money to hire staff, build infrastructure, or further expand, Koster said.

Though it’s not off the ground yet, Koster predicted that such a “fresh injection of capital could be a game-changer for the state economy.”

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Friday, January 6, 2017

The Hackers Are Coming! Burlington Electric’s Crisis That Wasn’t

Posted By on Fri, Jan 6, 2017 at 6:47 PM

Neale Lunderville - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Neale Lunderville
Burlington Electric Department communications director Mike Kanarick said he didn’t notice the first time his cellphone buzzed just after 8 p.m. on December 30. Or the second time. It was a Friday night after all, and Kanarick’s house was crowded with 25 guests celebrating Hanukkah with a healthy offering of potato latkes and Heady Topper.

It wasn’t until after 8:20 p.m. that Kanarick heard about a Washington Post report, posted 25 minutes earlier, that suggested that the municipal utility had been hacked by Russians. By then the news had already gone viral; Kanarick’s work phone was inundated with calls from unfamiliar numbers. He called back one he recognized: BED general manager Neale Lunderville’s.

Lunderville had gotten wind of the story around 8:15 p.m. He and his wife were at dinner at a friend’s house when Green Mountain Power spokesperson Kristin Carlson called to ask: “Has your electric grid been hacked?”

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NECI Sale ‘Imminent’ as New President Takes Over

Posted By on Fri, Jan 6, 2017 at 12:28 PM

NECI students in 2014 - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • NECI students in 2014
The cofounder of Vermont’s pioneering cooking school says a sale is imminent.

The New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier will likely change hands in three to four weeks, said Francis Voigt, the cofounder and former president of the school, on Friday morning.

He would not disclose the buyer or further details.

“We’re in process but it’s not finished yet,” Voigt said about the sale. “It’s a complicated arrangement and I’m just not free to disclose all of that right now,” he added by phone from his home in Cabot.

The school, founded in 1980, helped foster a taste for haute cuisine and the farm-to-table movement in Vermont.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Scott Will Reappoint Financial Regulation Commissioner Pieciak

Posted By on Tue, Dec 20, 2016 at 2:59 PM

Governor-elect Phil Scott - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Governor-elect Phil Scott
Mike Pieciak, who helped lead the state’s investigation of Northeast Kingdom development projects funded through the federal EB-5 immigration program, will keep his job under the next governor.

Governor-elect Phil Scott announced Pieciak’s appointment Tuesday as commissioner of the Department of Financial Regulation. Pieciak’s four deputy commissioners will also stay on, Scott announced.

Scott credited Pieciak’s work in investigating the controversial EB-5 projects, which generated civil federal charges against developers Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger.
Mike Pieciak
  • Mike Pieciak

“Michael has demonstrated a strong commitment to protecting Vermonters’ financial security — especially throughout the EB-5 investigation — while also thinking outside the box to help foster entrepreneurship by modernizing systems to help Vermont meet the demands of a new marketplace,” Scott said in a press release.

Departing Gov. Peter Shumlin had just promoted Pieciak to commissioner in July after Susan Donegan left state government. In 2012, Pieciak, a lawyer who grew up in Brattleboro and lives in Winooski, served as campaign manager for Democratic Attorney General Bill Sorrell.

Scott, a Republican, opted to keep Pieciak along with deputy commissioners overseeing specific areas: Cynthia Stuart for banking, Kaj Samsom for insurance, William Carrigan for securities and David Provost for captive insurance.

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