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Monday, July 24, 2017

State Rejects Initial Application for Irasburg and Lowell Wind Project

Posted By on Mon, Jul 24, 2017 at 6:58 PM

File: A sign in Irasburg in December 2015 - IRASBURG RIDGELINE ALLIANCE
  • irasburg ridgeline alliance
  • File: A sign in Irasburg in December 2015
State regulators have dealt a blow to a proposed wind energy project on Kidder Hill in Irasburg and Lowell.

The Public Utility Commission issued a four-page ruling on Monday saying the application for the project, which was filed in June after years of debate, is incomplete and missing crucial information. The project calls for two turbines capable of powering 2,000 homes.

But the commission said central information, including specific locations of the turbines and an access road, an assessment of natural resources in the area, and whether blasting will occur, is missing.

The commission said it considers the application to have never been filed, forcing the project's backer, AllEarth Renewables CEO David Blittersdorf, to begin the process again.

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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 the Burlington 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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Friday, July 21, 2017

Trump Admin Axes Millions in Funding for Vermont Nonprofit

Posted By on Fri, Jul 21, 2017 at 5:36 PM

Meagan Downey leads a training last June that was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant. - COURTESY OF YOUTH CATALYTICS
  • Courtesy of Youth Catalytics
  • Meagan Downey leads a training last June that was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant.
President Donald Trump's administration has rescinded more than $2 million of grant funding intended for a Vermont nonprofit that is working to prevent teen pregnancy — decimating the group's finances, according to one of its directors.

The Charlotte-based Youth Catalytics has provided training and research to youth services organizations around the country for 35 years. During Barack Obama's presidency, the group won a five-year federal grant for pregnancy prevention work that began in 2016 with $564,000 in funding. Earlier this month, the Office of Adolescent Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services informed the organization that it had terminated the remaining four years of the grant — a loss of about $2.25 million.

“Due to changes in program priorities, it has been determined that it is in the best interest of the federal government to no longer continue funding for the Providing Capacity Building Assistance to OAH Teen Pregnancy Prevention Grantees program,” the July 5 letter read.

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Vermont Officials Prepare for Lower Revenues, Budget Cuts

Posted By on Fri, Jul 21, 2017 at 5:28 PM

Gov. Phil Scott and legislators who make up the Emergency Board meet Friday in Montpelier to discuss state revenues. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Gov. Phil Scott and legislators who make up the Emergency Board meet Friday in Montpelier to discuss state revenues.
Gov. Phil Scott and Vermont legislative leaders who make up the state’s Emergency Board agreed Friday afternoon to lower expectations for state revenues in the coming year and to plan for $12.5 million in budget cuts.

The action came after economists — one hired by the governor's administration and another hired by the legislature — warned that all is not rosy with the economy, nationally or in Vermont.

The state is expected to see $28.8 million less in general fund revenue this fiscal year, economists Tom Kavet and Jeff Carr said.

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Teen Charged in South Burlington Racist Graffiti Case

Posted By on Fri, Jul 21, 2017 at 3:46 PM

  • South Burlington Police
  • Tyler Austin
An 18-year-old South Burlington High School graduate is facing a felony unlawful mischief charge for allegedly spray-painting racist graffiti on an athletic field at South Burlington High School on June 6.

Tyler Austin, who graduated in June,  was cited Friday to appear on the charge  in Vermont Superior Court on August 26.  He was released after being cited and  remains free until the arraignment.

South Burlington Police Chief Trevor Whipple issued a statement Friday saying the pending charges came after a "lengthy investigation involving numerous interviews, evidence collection and forensic analysis." He did not say specifically what led police to Austin.

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Swastika, Racial Slur Found in Burlington Library Bathroom

Posted By on Fri, Jul 21, 2017 at 12:47 PM

  • Courtesy of Fletcher Free Library
  • Fletcher Free Library
A custodian last Saturday discovered hateful graffiti scrawled in a restroom at Burlington's Fletcher Free Library that included a swastika and the racial epithet "Die niggers," according to city officials.

Library director Mary Danko and Mayor Miro Weinberger condemned the act as hate speech in a statement issued Friday.

The custodian took a photo of the graffiti and then painted over it, according to Katie Vane, the mayor's communications and projects coordinator. The library employee told Danko about the graffiti when he saw her on Tuesday, and the library director immediately notified the Burlington Police Department.

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Walters: Scott Unveils Yet Another Climate Panel

Posted By on Fri, Jul 21, 2017 at 10:45 AM

Gov. Phil Scott with members of his Climate Action Commission - JOHN WALTERS
  • John Walters
  • Gov. Phil Scott with members of his Climate Action Commission
For the third time in twelve years, a Vermont governor has created a committee to address climate change.

In 2005 it was Jim Douglas. In 2011, Peter Shumlin gave it a shot. And now in 2017, Gov. Phil Scott has unveiled his very own Climate Action Commission. Every six years, like clockwork.

Scott even joked about the repeat performance. “I wanted to carry on the tradition,” he said at a Thursday press conference. The assembled dignitaries chuckled. He then proceeded to explain, with full seriousness, why Yet Another Panel was a good idea.

“I think it’s important to reestablish those commissions and look at what the objectives were of those commissions,” he said. “I think what we’re looking for is, they went a long ways, and we’re looking to move on from there forward.”

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Former Burlington Bottle Redemption Center to Become Recording Studio

Posted By on Wed, Jul 19, 2017 at 6:45 PM

The former Burlington Beverage Center will become a recording studio. - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • The former Burlington Beverage Center will become a recording studio.
The sound of bass, drums and guitar will ring out in a space where bottles and cans once rattled and crashed when Tank Recording Studio moves into the now-closed Burlington Beverage Center on North Winooski Avenue.

Development company Redstone bought the triangle-shaped lot and ramshackle, one-story building in the Old North End last year. The Burlington Development Review Board on July 5 green-lighted soundproofing, new siding and new storefront doors — among other changes — at the former convenience store and bottle-redemption facility once a popular spot for "canners" who would bring around carts full of returnables.

"Everything is looking good and we're hopeful that it's going to be a cool element of creativity in the Old North End where Burlington-based bands and bands from other parts of the country can lay down tracks and make great music," said Redstone managing partner Erik Hoekstra.
The Burlington Beverage building - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • The Burlington Beverage building
Tank's owners did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

According to Hoekstra, Tank is leasing the 3,200-square-foot space at 208-212 North Winooski and moving out of its space just down the road at 274 North Winooski.

The flies and sticky floors at the former redemption center will be a thing of the past.

"We are renovating and retrofitting the existing building. We are not tearing that building down, we are not starting all over," Hoekstra said. "We are working with what's there and trying to get rid of the sticky fly situation and breathe some new life into the building."

The Burlington Beverage Center closed last September after 38 years in operation. The closing forced many low-income neighborhood residents who collect returnables for income to find another redemption center — in some cases walking five miles to get there.

The zoning application indicated that up to six employees will work at the new studio, which anticipates maximum hours of 8 a.m. to 2 p.m, seven days a week.

The studio will help enliven an already vibrant corridor of shops, restaurants and residential buildings along the North Winooski corridor, according to the Redstone application to the DRB.

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Champlain College Will Use UVM Frat House as a Dorm

Posted By on Wed, Jul 19, 2017 at 5:13 PM

The Phi Gamma Delta house is being readied for Champlain College students. - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • The Phi Gamma Delta house is being readied for Champlain College students.
Champlain College is leasing the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house and will move 29 students into the Burlington mansion in late August.

The University of Vermont slapped the frat, commonly known as Fiji, with a four-year suspension in March for alcohol and hazing violations.

The sanctions required that the chapter, at the corner of Main and South Willard, cease all activities for the duration of the suspension, thereby opening up a housing opportunity for Champlain.

The new beds mean the college can bring students back to the heart of its Hill Section campus. Students were being housed several miles away at Bayberry Commons Apartments because there was no available dorm space, according to college spokesman Stephen Mease.

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Longtime Boys & Girls Club Director to Step Down

Posted By on Wed, Jul 19, 2017 at 9:37 AM

Mary Alice McKenzie - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Mary Alice McKenzie
Updated at 1 p.m.

Mary Alice McKenzie will step down after 10 years at the helm of the Boys & Girls Club of Burlington.

The club’s director of development and communications, Tanya Benosky, will succeed McKenzie, according to a news release issued Wednesday. Benosky started with the organization in 2008 as finance director. The formal transition will take place on August 18.

“Tanya is the right person at the right time to take over leadership of the Club, allowing a seamless transition for the kids we serve and the community at large,” said Brian Waxler, who chairs the club’s board. Waxler also praised McKenzie’s work “changing so many lives in this community.”

The Boys & Girls Club currently operates out of three locations in Burlington’s Old North End, and serves 250 children daily. The club provides food, tutoring, mentoring and athletics.

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