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Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Vermont National Guard is Building a 400-Bed Hospital at the Champlain Valley Expo

Posted By on Sat, Apr 4, 2020 at 5:02 PM

Vermont National Guard members erecting walls inside the exhibition hall - MATTHEW ROY
  • Matthew Roy
  • Vermont National Guard members erecting walls inside the exhibition hall
The Vermont National Guard was rapidly building out a 400-bed overflow hospital inside the halls of the Champlain Valley Exposition on Saturday, and  beds should be ready as soon as Sunday.

Dozens of Guard members wielded nail guns and power saws inside the bustling Robert E. Miller Expo Centre, which smelled of sawdust. Men and women muscled segments of wooden walls into rows that were quickly taking shape in the cavernous building.
This room will be a finished hospital by Monday. - MATTHEW ROY
  • Matthew Roy
  • This room will be a finished hospital by Monday.

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Monday, March 23, 2020

National Guard Setting Up Medical Facilities in Vermont

Posted By on Mon, Mar 23, 2020 at 11:03 PM

Vermont National Guard members arriving at University of Vermont Medical Center to set up tents - KEVIN MCCALLUM
  • Kevin McCallum
  • Vermont National Guard members arriving at University of Vermont Medical Center to set up tents

Updated, March 24, 2020

More than a dozen Vermont National Guard members arrived in Humvees and other military vehicles in front of the University of Vermont Medical Center's Emergency Department Tuesday afternoon.

A Guard medical unit is setting up a facility to provide additional medical care,  according to Capt. Mike Arcovitch, a National Guard spokesperson. Medics with the Northfield-based 186th Brigade Support Battalion will set up tents in the hospital lot, he said. 

“We’re sending medical personnel there to assist and augment the hospital in whatever way they are needed,” Arcovitch said.“We’ll be prepared to receive patients as soon as they need us and for as long as they need us,” he said.

Members quickly got to work setting up mobile generators and installing tents on wooden platforms beside four drive-up aide stations under construction. The little M.A.S.H. unit — Mobile Army Surgical Hospital — was expected to be operational for “routine medical care” by the end of the day, Maj. Joseph Phelan said.

How many and what types of patients would be seen at the overflow center would be up to ER administration, he said.

Vermont is also preparing for a surge in new COVID-19 patients by asking the National Guard to help it establish three overflow medical facilities around the state.

Gov. Phil Scott announced the move at a press conference Monday as the state braces for a sharp increase in infections and patients. The number of positive coronavirus cases jumped from 29 on Friday to 75 on Monday; five people have died.

“While we hope we don’t have to use them, we must be prepared for this possibility," Scott said.

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Friday, March 20, 2020

Vermont Guard Begins Mobilizing for Virus Response

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2020 at 7:10 PM

The Vermont National Guard Armory in Waterbury - KEVIN MCCALLUM
  • Kevin McCallum
  • The Vermont National Guard Armory in Waterbury
The Vermont National Guard announced Friday that it has begun calling up members to active duty to help the state respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gen. Greg Knight told senators during a conference call that two part-time soldiers have been placed on active duty to help with emergency planning in the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Waterbury.

In addition, five airmen would be activated over the weekend to begin preparing to distribute supplies next week if necessary, Knight said. Gov. Phil Scott’s emergency declaration last week gave Knight the power to call up troops as needed in consultation with state emergency officials.

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Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Tax-Free Shop for Military Members to Close December 13

Posted By on Tue, Dec 3, 2019 at 5:13 PM

Bill Keogh shops for booze at the Camp Johnson base exchange - KEVIN MCCALLUM
  • Kevin McCallum
  • Bill Keogh shops for booze at the Camp Johnson base exchange
The base exchange at Camp Johnson isn’t the most convenient place for Bill Keogh to shop for booze. 

The retired army guardsman and former Burlington city councilor has to drive from his South End home up Interstate 89 to Colchester, pass through base security and then navigate his way to a nondescript structure at the end of Veterans Road.

It’s a little out of the way, but old habits die hard.

“I save myself $10 on a bottle of bourbon. It probably costs me $3 in gas,” quipped the 89-year-old Keogh as he trekked to the little trading post for what may be the last time.

The exchange at Camp Johnson is closing for good on December 13, the likely victim of dwindling sales and increased competition from online and local retailers.

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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Is Your Home in a New Airport Noise Zone? Find Out Here

Posted By on Wed, Jun 5, 2019 at 7:51 PM

An estimated 2,640 dwelling units around Burlington International Airport will be affected by noise levels at or above 65 decibels, according to projections released last week. (The decibels figure represents the estimated average noise level over a 24-hour period).

The increased noise is a factor both of the basing of F-35 fighter jets at BTV and an anticipated increase in commercial flights arriving at and departing the airport. Nearby residents got a preview the F-35s' volume late last week, when four jets on their way overseas were diverted to the airport. Homeowners within these high-noise zones could be eligible for soundproofing grants. Airport officials say they will apply for funds to protect housing values in the coming years. Use the map below to examine the estimated noise exposure zones and to find out what addresses fall within the zones. (And don't worry: We won't log any data you enter here.)

Projected Noise Impact of the Burlington International Airport in 2023

Data: btvsound.com • Locations of addresses are based on Google estimates, and may not be exact.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

F-35s Diverted to BTV Provide an Unexpected Preview of What's Coming

Posted By on Wed, May 29, 2019 at 3:10 PM

An F-35 landing at Burlington International Airport - COURTESY: GENE RICHARDS
  • Courtesy: Gene Richards
  • An F-35 landing at Burlington International Airport
 The first F-35s ever to land at Burlington International Airport touched down unexpectedly Wednesday. 

Four F-35s from Hill Air Force Base in Utah landed around 7:45 a.m. after being diverted on their way overseas due to weather and refueling schedules, according to Vermont National Guard public affairs deputy Nathan Rivard. 

The planes were expected to remain overnight and then depart, although Rivard would not say exactly when.

The visiting fighter jets provided a sneak preview of the 18 F-35s scheduled to arrive starting in August for permanent basing with the guard, which shares a runway with commercial operations at Burlington International Airport. 

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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

More Homes Are Inside High-Decibel Areas on New F-35 Sound Maps

Posted By on Tue, May 28, 2019 at 7:44 PM

The Burlington International Airport draft noise exposure map report - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • The Burlington International Airport draft noise exposure map report
The arrival of the louder F-35 military jets at Burlington International Airport will nearly triple the number of homes affected by high noise levels, according to sound maps released Tuesday. 

A total of 2,640 dwelling units will be affected by noise at or above 65 decibels in 2023, compared to 976 on sound maps for 2015. 

The new projections, based on computer modeling, suggest high-decibel noise will affect larger portions of Winooski and Williston, and slightly less of certain parts of South Burlington. 

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Legislators Negotiate Who Will Pick Vermont's Top Military Officer

Posted By on Thu, May 16, 2019 at 6:47 PM

A conference committee of the Vermont legislature meets to discuss the adjutant general selection process. - KEVIN MCCALLUM
  • Kevin McCallum
  • A conference committee of the Vermont legislature meets to discuss the adjutant general selection process.
There are plenty of differences between two versions of a bill that would change how Vermont picks the leader of its National Guard, but only one that really matters: who gets the final say.

The House wants the legislature to retain its power to elect the adjutant general every two years, a prerogative that stretches back to the state’s storied militia era. The Senate prefers handing over that power to the governor, reasoning that it just makes sense to let the state's top elected official appoint its top military officer.

Members of a six-member conference committee met for the first time Thursday to come up with a compromise over the bill, H.530, that would pass muster with the House, the Senate and, ultimately, the governor. It quickly became clear that there was only one real battle line to draw.

“The $1 million question here is, does the governor appoint, or does the General Assembly continue to elect?” legislative attorney Damien Leonard told the committee.

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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Greg Knight, Newly Elected Leader of the Vermont Guard, Vows Culture Change

Posted By on Thu, Feb 21, 2019 at 2:48 PM

Col. Greg Knight speaks to retired colonel Rosanne Greco after  his election as the state's new adjutant general. - KEVIN MCCALLUM
  • Kevin McCallum
  • Col. Greg Knight speaks to retired colonel Rosanne Greco after his election as the state's new adjutant general.

Legislators on Thursday tapped a new leader for the Vermont National Guard who vowed to meet individually with every woman in the organization as he seeks to reform a culture characterized by some as sexist.

Col. Greg Knight of Huntington smiled and hugged his wife and son after Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman announced the results of the election during a joint session of the Vermont House and Senate.

Knight was the only one of four candidates who is an active duty Guard member, currently serving as a human resources officer. All three of his opponents were retired members of the Guard.

On the first ballot, Knight received 95 of the 176 votes cast, enough to avoid a runoff.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Legislators Raise Awareness of Burn Pit Health Risks for Soldiers

Posted By on Wed, Feb 20, 2019 at 4:37 PM

Sen. Jeanette White - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Sen. Jeanette White

Thousands of current and former members of the Vermont National
Guard may have been exposed to toxic smoke from burn pits during overseas deployments in the past 30 years, but only a small percentage appear to be aware of the health risks posed by such exposure.

Vermont legislators want to change that by increasing awareness
among service members and health care professionals about what Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden) called a “ticking time bomb in public health.”

Of the estimated 10,000 Vermont guardsmen who have served in overseas theaters where burn pits were used by U.S. forces, just 366 have signed up for a registry aimed at sharing information with service members who may have been exposed.

That tells Ashe that “something hasn’t quite clicked yet in a pervasive way among returning service members” about the need to sign up for what is known as the federal Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry.

“A lot of people aren’t even aware of the registry and, certainly, I don’t think the general public is informed about this issue,” Sen. Jeanette White (D-Windham) said Wednesday.

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