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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: • 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

  • 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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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Adjutant General Candidates Pledge to Confront Sex Harassment in Vermont National Guard

Posted By on Tue, Feb 5, 2019 at 10:34 PM

David Graham and Col. Greg Knight - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • David Graham and Col. Greg Knight

The four candidates seeking to be the next leader of the Vermont National Guard outlined Tuesday how they would combat sexual harassment and discrimination within the organization, create a culture of accountability and regain the public’s trust.

The hearing before a joint committee of the state general assembly was the first time each candidate had publicly explained why legislators should pick him or her to lead Vermont's 3,400-strong force of active duty and part-time soldiers.

David Baczewski, a retired Air Guard brigadier general and resident of Westford, was perhaps the most blunt in describing the Guard’s shortcomings around sexual assault and discrimination, the subject of intense media scrutiny of late. A series of stories published last November by described instances of alleged alcohol abuse, cronyism, sexual harassment and retaliation against a whistleblower.

“We do not foster an inclusive work environment free from discrimination and harassment,” Baczewski said. “I think a lot of people are trying hard. We have good programs. But the answer is no. Discrimination and harassment, including sexual assault, sexual harassment, sex-based gender discriminations — including the LGBT community — exists. That’s a fact. It’s an unacceptable fact.”

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Monday, February 4, 2019

F-35 Critic Rosanne Greco Enters Race for Adjutant General

Posted By on Mon, Feb 4, 2019 at 5:52 PM

Rosanne Greco has entered the race for adjutant general. - FILE: KEVIN J. KELLEY
  • File: Kevin J. Kelley
  • Rosanne Greco has entered the race for adjutant general.
A vocal critic of the decision to base F-35 fighter jets in Vermont announced Monday that she will seek the position of adjutant general.

Rosanne Greco, a retired Air Force colonel and former chair of the South Burlington City Council, said she decided to seek the state’s top military post after several female legislators encouraged her to enter the previously male-dominated race.

Greco said her opposition to the F-35s, the first of which are expected to arrive this fall, would make her an excellent candidate because now is the time for the Vermont Air National Guard to be asking the question others might not.

“What could possibly go wrong? A whole lot could go wrong, and you want to know what those things are,” Greco said.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Legislators: National Guard Reports on Sexism, Assaults Are Lacking

Posted By on Tue, Jan 22, 2019 at 9:01 PM

Maj. Gen. Steven Cray - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Maj. Gen. Steven Cray
Two reports meant to help legislators understand how women are faring in the Vermont National Guard appear to have missed their mark, according to some state lawmakers.

Guard leaders presented the reports Tuesday as evidence that the organization is doing everything in its power to understand and stamp out sexist attitudes and behavior. “Our service members don’t want to work in a sexist culture,” Maj. Gen. Steven Cray told a joint legislative committee.

Cray, adjutant general of the state’s 3,500-strong Air and Army National Guard units, presented the reports against a backdrop of intense media scrutiny. Recent stories by have outlined alleged instances of alcohol abuse, cronyism, sexual harassment and retaliation against a whistleblower.
Cray said he was in “complete disagreement” with such characterizations as “the Guard is stuck in the 1950s” or “the leadership is in denial,” calling them hurtful.

“The men and women of the Vermont National Guard take exception to those accusations,” Cray said.

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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Scott Defends Vermont National Guard, Says No Investigation Needed

Posted By on Thu, Dec 6, 2018 at 3:30 PM

Maj. Gen. Steven Cray (background) looks on as Gov. Phil Scott addresses the media - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Maj. Gen. Steven Cray (background) looks on as Gov. Phil Scott addresses the media
Updated at 6:37 p.m.

Gov. Phil Scott on Thursday brushed off allegations that the Vermont National Guard is plagued by a culture of sexual impropriety and alcohol abuse, referring to recently reported incidents as the actions of “an occasional bad apple.”

During a press conference at the Guard’s Colchester headquarters, Scott expressed full support for the organization and its leader, Maj. Gen. Steven Cray. Though the governor admitted that reporting by had brought new allegations to light, he said he saw “no reason to go through an independent review.”

“I want to be very clear,” Scott said, as Cray stood behind him. “My faith and confidence in the women and men of the Vermont National Guard is unwavering.”

The two men, joined by dozens of Guard members, spent roughly 45 minutes addressing allegations raised in a seven-part series VTDigger published last week. The stories described a hard-partying, misogynistic organization that failed to address alleged sexual misconduct and retaliated against a whistleblower.

According to Cray, that portrait was flawed. “I vehemently disagree with and dispute the negative characterizations of our members and our culture in recent media coverage,” the adjutant general said.

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