Central Vermont Food, Fuel, and Transportation Coalition

It has been three months since the inception of the Central Vermont Food, Fuel, and Transportation Coalition and much has happened! The Central Vermont community has truly mobilized around the needs for this winter to work in partnership.

Participants have organized action teams to address critical areas of need. Below is an overview of current efforts:

Food Action Team:
– Has written articles features in The World
– Planned several canning workshops throughout Washington county—dates and places to be announced
– Planning a large scale food drive for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
– The Vermont Foodbank now lists all area Food Shelves
– Coordinated food donations from Berlin Elementary School to the Central Vermont Community Action Council’s Food Shelf

Weatherization Action Team:
– Has written several informative articles features in The World
– Distributed copies of a weatherization workshop throughout Central Vermont
– Contacted each town’s energy committee/person to encourage Town Energy Fairs and supported individual town’s energy fairs.
– Supported Button-Up workshops and followed up with towns that did not sign up initially
– Started a conversation with landlords about the how to best ensure their tenants and apartments stay heated this winter

Education and Awareness Action Team:
– Coordinated weekly articles in The World
– Created and disseminated a winter preparedness information card.
– Creating a PSA for the radio

For additional information or to volunteer contract Kate Binns at gmunitedway@madriver.com or call (802) 229-9532.

Button Up Workshops

This summer the Regional Planning Commission partnered with the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network (VECAN) to host regional energy meetings for local energy groups. At the last meeting participations learned how to organize a home energy saving workshop. These “Button Up” workshops will focus on the greatest opportunities for saving energy in homes, finding and sealing air leaks, energy efficiency actions that people can take now, and where to find technical and financial resources to get started.

So far many communities in our regional have held local “Button Up” workshops. For people have not had the chance to attend there are still a few opportunities left:

Tuesday October 28 – Berlin Elementary School, 7pm
Wednesday October 29 – Maple Corner Community Building, 7:15 pm
Thursday October 30 – Barre Town Municipal Building, 6:30 pm

Button Up Vermont is a new program of the Central Vermont Community Action Council, in partnership with the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network (VECAN) and Efficiency Vermont. Funding is provided by the Vermont Agency of Human Services.

Housing Conference – Nov. 18

The Vermont Statewide Housing Conference is coming up! The Keynote speaker at this year’s event will be Michelle Kennedy of Chelsea, VT, author is “Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (with Kids) in America.”

Sessions will include: “Planning/Zoning: Regulations”, “Cost of Development”, “From Density to Design” and “Building Support for Local Housing Development” plus many other informational presentations to assist local communities meet the needs of current and future residents.

To sign up for the conference and for additional information visit: http://www.vhfa.org/conference/

Managing the Municipal Highway System

Last week, I attended the VLCT’s Workshop “Managing the Municipal Highway System”. There were about 50 attendees, consisting of Select Board Members, Town Managers, Public Works Directors, Road Foreman, Planners, VT Local Roads, VTrans and VLCT Staff. Small towns and large cities were represented, so there was a wide range of participants and experience.

The workshop started with VLCT Staff portraying a bleak transportation funding horizon from Federal, State, and Local sources. The VLCT is encouraging communities to support their 2009 Municipal Policy which includes: Stopping the Transportation Fund transfer; Increasing the Transportation Fund Tax and/or Fees; Developing alternative/innovative funding sources; Expand use of bonding; and commit resources to structurally deficient bridges.

VTrans next presented their Bridge Inspection Program. They showed how a leaky joint in 1987 was starting to erode a bridge pier, and could have been repaired for $1,000. Over time, more photos showed the pier’s erosion accelerating, and by 2002 an emergency brace had to be installed to support the beam, resulting in a costly repair. They outlined a preventative maintenance program that included: smoothing approach & wearing surfaces; annual washing; semi-annually applying water repellent to concrete; spot paint; maintain joints/drains; and remove debris/vegetation.

Vermont Local Roads described proper paved and gravel road design. They stressed that water is a roads worst enemy, and maintenance crews should focus on good drainage. This include applying good material, using fabric, filling cracks, building proper ditches, maintaining culverts, and keeping driveway stormwater from entering the road.

Montpelier’s Public Works Director explained their approach to stretching local highway dollars to address the escalating costs of everything. He suggested applying for grants from any source you are eligible for, and described the different funding sources available. Regional Planning Commissions can also provide assistance with studies, inventories, and traffic counting. Montpelier looks to stretch their money before problems arise, by improving efficiency, and if necessary to reduce services. He stressed that it is important to establish good communication with City leaders, managers, and the public.

The last presentation was from the City of Middlebury. They have been trying to build a new bridge in the downtown for over 50 years. They finally forego the Federal/State funding route, and are building the bridge as a local public/private partnership. This reduced the red tape in design, permitting, and ROW. Funding sources included a 30 year bond, a Middlebury College gift, and a 1% local option tax. They expect the bridge to be built in two years. For more information on the workshop, contract Steve Gladczuk, CVRPC Senior Transportation Planner, email – Gladczuk@cvregion.com, phone 229-0389.

Bridges and Culverts

This year CVRPC has received heavy interest in having culvert and bridge data inventoried and as a result we are working steadily on these requests. Never in my 7 years of looking at culverts and bridges have I had to work this late into the fall! But we will keep up till the snow covers the ground and the culverts cannot be seen easily (snow has been forecasted for Tuesday evening October 21, 2008). Let’s hope it melts fast.

Municipal Education Grants

Funds are available through the Department of Housing and Community Affairs for municipalities to hold training workshops on land use topics of interest to them. Grants of $800 are available for municipalities for these workshops and can be applied for any time prior to May 15, 2009. Other than that date, there is no application “deadline.” To find out more information on the Municipal Education Grants, go to www.dhca.state.vt.us/Planning/MEG.htm or contact DHCA at 802/828-3243 or Brenda.greika@state.vt.us. If you need further assistance, contact Laurie Emery at emery@cvregion.com or 802/229-0389.