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NEWSLETTER: Click on the link below for information about upcoming important meetings:

September 22 (today!): Vermont Climate Council public forum — gathering input for the soon-to-be-published state climate plan

October 6: Investing in Vermonts future — a conversation with Speaker Jill Krowinski and Senate Pro Tem Becca Balint

Plus: Housing summit (October 13) and career expo (November 4) sponsored by Reps. James and Bongartz. 

https://mailchi.mp/leg.state.vt.us/important-meetingsImage attachment

Vermont House Speaker Jill Krowinski and Senate Pro Tem Becca Balint Announce "Investing in Vermont's Future" Community Conversations

BENNINGTON COUNTY CONVERSATION
Wednesday, October 6, 5:30-6:30pm.
Register for this Zoom event here:
https://legislature-vermont-gov.zoom.us/meeting/…

Background: Vermont has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make significant investments that will transform and shape the future of our state.

Thanks to federal stimulus funds, a surge in state revenues, and more potential federal funds on the way, the Vermont Legislature is positioned to make historic investments in Vermont's pandemic recovery, address critical infrastructure needs, support Vermonters' health and well-being, and strengthen Vermont's communities, businesses, environment, and climate.

This opportunity must be informed by the voices of Vermonters and the experiences of their day-to-day lives.

Throughout the fall, Speaker of the House Jill Krowinski and Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint are reaching out to people across the state to listen to Vermonters on the issues that they care about, what they struggle with in their communities, and what they envision for Vermont’s future. These discussions will be used to inform policy and budgetary work when the Legislature convenes in January.

These virtual “Investing in Vermont’s Future: Community Conversations” will include regional discussions, intentional conversation with voices not typically heard in the Legislative process, and an online questionnaire.

The online questionnaire can be found here:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/…

If you are interested in helping set up an intentional conversation with a community or group not typically heard in the Legislative process, please reach out to cwesley@leg.state.vt.us and ckennedy@leg.state.vt.us.
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Vermont House Speaker Jill Krowinski and Senate Pro Tem Becca Balint Announce Investing in Vermonts Future Community Conversations

BENNINGTON COUNTY CONVERSATION
Wednesday, October 6, 5:30-6:30pm. 
Register for this Zoom event here:
https://legislature-vermont-gov.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwkdOGurjotHNwLblOwilMm0LFzyn7lDWrX

Background: Vermont has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make significant investments that will transform and shape the future of our state. 

Thanks to federal stimulus funds, a surge in state revenues, and more potential federal funds on the way, the Vermont Legislature is positioned to make historic  investments in Vermonts pandemic recovery, address critical infrastructure needs, support Vermonters health and well-being, and strengthen Vermonts communities, businesses, environment, and climate.

This opportunity must be informed by the voices of Vermonters and the experiences of their day-to-day lives. 

Throughout the fall, Speaker of the House Jill Krowinski and Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint are reaching out to people across the state to listen to Vermonters on the issues that they care about, what they struggle with in their communities, and what they envision for Vermont’s future. These discussions will be used to inform policy and budgetary work when the Legislature convenes in January.

These virtual “Investing in Vermont’s Future: Community Conversations” will include regional discussions, intentional conversation with voices not typically heard in the Legislative process, and an online questionnaire.

The online questionnaire can be found here:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf5jgOMdwDpuDGcdKbSCnJ5yTpyyY2ebN9SJriWMY8z2X1VyQ/viewform

If you are interested in helping set up an intentional conversation with a community or group not typically heard in the Legislative process, please reach out to cwesley@leg.state.vt.us and ckennedy@leg.state.vt.us.

Bennington County: Vermont Climate Council Public Forum September 22 from 5 to 7 pm @ Emerald Lake!

VERMONT CLIMATE COUNCIL ANNOUNCES SERIES OF PUBLIC EVENTS TO GATHER FEEDBACK AND IDEAS FOR STATEWIDE CLIMATE ACTION PLAN >>>

INCLUDING: Wednesday, September 22, 5:00-7:00pm: Emerald Lake State Park Pavilion | 65 Emerald Lake Ln, East Dorset, VT

Press release below:

MONTPELIER, Vt. – From hotter days to more frequent and intense storms, Vermont’s climate patterns are clearly shifting and impacting our state. This fall, state officials, local leaders and members of the Vermont Climate Council invite the public to attend one of several events to learn about the development of the state’s Climate Action Plan and help prioritize approaches.

“Join us at an upcoming meeting to discuss how climate change is affecting you and your community and offer feedback on proposed strategies for the Climate Action Plan,” said Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore.

“Your perspective matters. The Climate Action Plan will serve as the State’s roadmap for lessening the impacts of climate change, and the ideas and feedback you share with us will inform the Action Plan.”

In 2020, the Vermont Legislature passed the Global Warming Solutions Act. The Act requires Vermonters to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and helps communities prepare to face more extreme weather caused by climate change. The Act also directed the Vermont Climate Council to develop a Climate Action Plan to guide this work. The Action Plan aims to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next several decades, prepare and protect Vermont communities and landscapes from the greatest risks of climate change and create new jobs to enable this transformation.

The initial plan will be adopted on December 1, 2021.
While climate change affects everyone, some people face greater risks due to where they live, their race, ethnicity, income, disability, health, age and/or occupation. Advancing solutions that address the needs of Vermonters facing the greatest risk is a key aspect of the plan.

There are multiple opportunities to join an upcoming event, either online or in person. All events are free and open to everyone interested in attending. Food will be provided at each in-person events. Please note that in-person events are being held in outdoor pavilions or shelters and will observe COVID-19 safety protocols; all attendees are asked to wear masks.

Tuesday, September 21, 5:00-7:00pm: Elmore State Park Pavilion | 856 VT-12, Elmore, VT

Wednesday, September 22, 5:00-7:00pm: Emerald Lake State Park Pavilion | 65 Emerald Lake Ln, East Dorset, VT

Thursday, September 23, 5:00-7:00pm: Lakeside Park Pavilion | 32 Mill St, Island Pond, VT

Sunday, September 26, 3:00-5:00pm: Airport Park Pavilion | 500 Colchester Point Rd, Colchester, VT

Thursday, September 30, 6:00-7:30pm: Virtual event via Zoom

Tuesday, October 5, 6:00-7:30pm: Virtual event via Zoom for BIPOC communities

Wednesday, October 6, 6:00-7:30pm: Virtual event via Zoom

For more information about the Climate Action Plan, please visit . Event details can be found at .
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Bennington County: Vermont Climate Council Public Forum September 22 from 5 to 7 pm @ Emerald Lake!

VERMONT CLIMATE COUNCIL ANNOUNCES SERIES OF PUBLIC EVENTS TO GATHER FEEDBACK AND IDEAS FOR STATEWIDE CLIMATE ACTION PLAN  data-recalc-dims=>> INCLUDING: Wednesday, September 22, 5:00-7:00pm: Emerald Lake State Park Pavilion | 65 Emerald Lake Ln, East Dorset, VT Press release below: MONTPELIER, Vt. – From hotter days to more frequent and intense storms, Vermont’s climate patterns are clearly shifting and impacting our state. This fall, state officials, local leaders and members of the Vermont Climate Council invite the public to attend one of several events to learn about the development of the state’s Climate Action Plan and help prioritize approaches. “Join us at an upcoming meeting to discuss how climate change is affecting you and your community and offer feedback on proposed strategies for the Climate Action Plan,” said Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore. “Your perspective matters. The Climate Action Plan will serve as the State’s roadmap for lessening the impacts of climate change, and the ideas and feedback you share with us will inform the Action Plan.” In 2020, the Vermont Legislature passed the Global Warming Solutions Act. The Act requires Vermonters to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and helps communities prepare to face more extreme weather caused by climate change. The Act also directed the Vermont Climate Council to develop a Climate Action Plan to guide this work. The Action Plan aims to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next several decades, prepare and protect Vermont communities and landscapes from the greatest risks of climate change and create new jobs to enable this transformation. The initial plan will be adopted on December 1, 2021. While climate change affects everyone, some people face greater risks due to where they live, their race, ethnicity, income, disability, health, age and/or occupation. Advancing solutions that address the needs of Vermonters facing the greatest risk is a key aspect of the plan. There are multiple opportunities to join an upcoming event, either online or in person. All events are free and open to everyone interested in attending. Food will be provided at each in-person events. Please note that in-person events are being held in outdoor pavilions or shelters and will observe COVID-19 safety protocols; all attendees are asked to wear masks. Tuesday, September 21, 5:00-7:00pm: Elmore State Park Pavilion | 856 VT-12, Elmore, VT Wednesday, September 22, 5:00-7:00pm: Emerald Lake State Park Pavilion | 65 Emerald Lake Ln, East Dorset, VT Thursday, September 23, 5:00-7:00pm: Lakeside Park Pavilion | 32 Mill St, Island Pond, VT Sunday, September 26, 3:00-5:00pm: Airport Park Pavilion | 500 Colchester Point Rd, Colchester, VT Thursday, September 30, 6:00-7:30pm: Virtual event via Zoom Tuesday, October 5, 6:00-7:30pm: Virtual event via Zoom for BIPOC communities Wednesday, October 6, 6:00-7:30pm: Virtual event via Zoom For more information about the Climate Action Plan, please visit https://climatechange.vermont.gov/. Event details can be found at https://climatechange.vermont.gov/getinvolved." data-querystring="_nc_cat=101&ccb=1-5&_nc_sid=8024bb&_nc_ohc=c64vGGrXV0oAX8ea6VD&_nc_ht=scontent-sjc3-1.xx&edm=AKIiGfEEAAAA&oh=2b64226a76add2265871683064690d3e&oe=6171E406" data-ratio="1200" class="cff-multi-image" />

GOVERNOR PHIL SCOTT REQUESTS FEDERAL DISASTER FUNDS TO ASSIST COMMUNITIES IN BENNINGTON AND WINDHAM COUNTIES

Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott has made a formal request for federal disaster funds to assist communities in Bennington and Windham counties in paying for repairs to public infrastructure damaged in floods of July 29 and 30, 2021. Local and state officials estimate communities in those counties suffered more than $4 million in damages to public infrastructure.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducted a preliminary damage assessment with state and local officials shortly after the storm to verify indicators at the state and county level were met to allow the request to move forward. The State must demonstrate disaster costs exceed $1 million statewide, in addition to county-level indicators, along with details about the overall impact of the storm. Per operating procedure, FEMA validates damage estimates in select towns only until county and state indicators for assistance are met.

“Many communities impacted by these storms were left with repair costs that far exceed their annual road maintenance budgets,” said Governor Scott. “This is an area of our state that has felt the impacts of storms of all sizes over the past year, and without federal assistance, they will be left with another bill that will impact its residents for some time.”

A Major Disaster Declaration for Public Assistance, if granted, would allow communities in declared counties to receive 75% reimbursement for storm response and recovery. Those costs include repairs to public roads, bridges, and other infrastructure that was damaged during the storm.

Governor Scott’s request was sent to FEMA for review. FEMA will send a recommendation to President Biden, who has ultimate authority to approve or reject the request.

Communities in Bennington and Windham counties should continue making repairs to public infrastructure, documenting all work carefully for possible future reimbursement. Eligible reimbursement costs include repair work on public roads and buildings, tree and debris removal from public rights of way, municipal employee time spent working on recovery, contractor help, equipment rentals, and other costs associated with the storm.

The declaration request also seeks funds from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). The federal HMGP program provides funding based on a formula of 15% of the total federal Public Assistance. That funding can be used to provide 75% reimbursement for projects anywhere in the state that reduce the likelihood of damages to public infrastructure in future disasters.
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GOVERNOR PHIL SCOTT REQUESTS FEDERAL DISASTER FUNDS TO ASSIST COMMUNITIES IN BENNINGTON AND WINDHAM COUNTIES
 
Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott has made a formal request for federal disaster funds to assist communities in Bennington and Windham counties in paying for repairs to public infrastructure damaged in floods of July 29 and 30, 2021. Local and state officials estimate communities in those counties suffered more than $4 million in damages to public infrastructure.
 
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducted a preliminary damage assessment with state and local officials shortly after the storm to verify indicators at the state and county level were met to allow the request to move forward. The State must demonstrate disaster costs exceed $1 million statewide, in addition to county-level indicators, along with details about the overall impact of the storm. Per operating procedure, FEMA validates damage estimates in select towns only until county and state indicators for assistance are met.
 
“Many communities impacted by these storms were left with repair costs that far exceed their annual road maintenance budgets,” said Governor Scott. “This is an area of our state that has felt the impacts of storms of all sizes over the past year, and without federal assistance, they will be left with another bill that will impact its residents for some time.”
 
A Major Disaster Declaration for Public Assistance, if granted, would allow communities in declared counties to receive 75% reimbursement for storm response and recovery. Those costs include repairs to public roads, bridges, and other infrastructure that was damaged during the storm.
 
Governor Scott’s request was sent to FEMA for review. FEMA will send a recommendation to President Biden, who has ultimate authority to approve or reject the request.
 
Communities in Bennington and Windham counties should continue making repairs to public infrastructure, documenting all work carefully for possible future reimbursement. Eligible reimbursement costs include repair work on public roads and buildings, tree and debris removal from public rights of way, municipal employee time spent working on recovery, contractor help, equipment rentals, and other costs associated with the storm.
 
The declaration request also seeks funds from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). The federal HMGP program provides funding based on a formula of 15% of the total federal Public Assistance. That funding can be used to provide 75% reimbursement for projects anywhere in the state that reduce the likelihood of damages to public infrastructure in future disasters.

VERMONT CLIMATE COUNCIL ANNOUNCES SERIES OF PUBLIC EVENTS TO GATHER FEEDBACK AND IDEAS FOR STATEWIDE CLIMATE ACTION PLAN >>>

INCLUDING: Wednesday, September 22, 5:00-7:00pm: Emerald Lake State Park Pavilion | 65 Emerald Lake Ln, East Dorset, VT

Press release below:

MONTPELIER, Vt. – From hotter days to more frequent and intense storms, Vermont’s climate patterns are clearly shifting and impacting our state. This fall, state officials, local leaders and members of the Vermont Climate Council invite the public to attend one of several events to learn about the development of the state’s Climate Action Plan and help prioritize approaches.

“Join us at an upcoming meeting to discuss how climate change is affecting you and your community and offer feedback on proposed strategies for the Climate Action Plan,” said Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore.

“Your perspective matters. The Climate Action Plan will serve as the State’s roadmap for lessening the impacts of climate change, and the ideas and feedback you share with us will inform the Action Plan.”

In 2020, the Vermont Legislature passed the Global Warming Solutions Act. The Act requires Vermonters to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and helps communities prepare to face more extreme weather caused by climate change. The Act also directed the Vermont Climate Council to develop a Climate Action Plan to guide this work. The Action Plan aims to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next several decades, prepare and protect Vermont communities and landscapes from the greatest risks of climate change and create new jobs to enable this transformation.

The initial plan will be adopted on December 1, 2021.

While climate change affects everyone, some people face greater risks due to where they live, their race, ethnicity, income, disability, health, age and/or occupation. Advancing solutions that address the needs of Vermonters facing the greatest risk is a key aspect of the plan.

There are multiple opportunities to join an upcoming event, either online or in person. All events are free and open to everyone interested in attending. Food will be provided at each in-person events. Please note that in-person events are being held in outdoor pavilions or shelters and will observe COVID-19 safety protocols; all attendees are asked to wear masks.

Tuesday, September 21, 5:00-7:00pm: Elmore State Park Pavilion | 856 VT-12, Elmore, VT

Wednesday, September 22, 5:00-7:00pm: Emerald Lake State Park Pavilion | 65 Emerald Lake Ln, East Dorset, VT

Thursday, September 23, 5:00-7:00pm: Lakeside Park Pavilion | 32 Mill St, Island Pond, VT

Sunday, September 26, 3:00-5:00pm: Airport Park Pavilion | 500 Colchester Point Rd, Colchester, VT

Thursday, September 30, 6:00-7:30pm: Virtual event via Zoom

Tuesday, October 5, 6:00-7:30pm: Virtual event via Zoom for BIPOC communities

Wednesday, October 6, 6:00-7:30pm: Virtual event via Zoom

For more information about the Climate Action Plan, please visit . Event details can be found at .
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VERMONT CLIMATE COUNCIL ANNOUNCES SERIES OF PUBLIC EVENTS TO GATHER FEEDBACK AND IDEAS FOR STATEWIDE CLIMATE ACTION PLAN  data-recalc-dims=>> INCLUDING: Wednesday, September 22, 5:00-7:00pm: Emerald Lake State Park Pavilion | 65 Emerald Lake Ln, East Dorset, VT Press release below: MONTPELIER, Vt. – From hotter days to more frequent and intense storms, Vermont’s climate patterns are clearly shifting and impacting our state. This fall, state officials, local leaders and members of the Vermont Climate Council invite the public to attend one of several events to learn about the development of the state’s Climate Action Plan and help prioritize approaches. “Join us at an upcoming meeting to discuss how climate change is affecting you and your community and offer feedback on proposed strategies for the Climate Action Plan,” said Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore. “Your perspective matters. The Climate Action Plan will serve as the State’s roadmap for lessening the impacts of climate change, and the ideas and feedback you share with us will inform the Action Plan.” In 2020, the Vermont Legislature passed the Global Warming Solutions Act. The Act requires Vermonters to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and helps communities prepare to face more extreme weather caused by climate change. The Act also directed the Vermont Climate Council to develop a Climate Action Plan to guide this work. The Action Plan aims to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next several decades, prepare and protect Vermont communities and landscapes from the greatest risks of climate change and create new jobs to enable this transformation. The initial plan will be adopted on December 1, 2021. While climate change affects everyone, some people face greater risks due to where they live, their race, ethnicity, income, disability, health, age and/or occupation. Advancing solutions that address the needs of Vermonters facing the greatest risk is a key aspect of the plan. There are multiple opportunities to join an upcoming event, either online or in person. All events are free and open to everyone interested in attending. Food will be provided at each in-person events. Please note that in-person events are being held in outdoor pavilions or shelters and will observe COVID-19 safety protocols; all attendees are asked to wear masks. Tuesday, September 21, 5:00-7:00pm: Elmore State Park Pavilion | 856 VT-12, Elmore, VT Wednesday, September 22, 5:00-7:00pm: Emerald Lake State Park Pavilion | 65 Emerald Lake Ln, East Dorset, VT Thursday, September 23, 5:00-7:00pm: Lakeside Park Pavilion | 32 Mill St, Island Pond, VT Sunday, September 26, 3:00-5:00pm: Airport Park Pavilion | 500 Colchester Point Rd, Colchester, VT Thursday, September 30, 6:00-7:30pm: Virtual event via Zoom Tuesday, October 5, 6:00-7:30pm: Virtual event via Zoom for BIPOC communities Wednesday, October 6, 6:00-7:30pm: Virtual event via Zoom For more information about the Climate Action Plan, please visit https://climatechange.vermont.gov/. Event details can be found at https://climatechange.vermont.gov/getinvolved." data-querystring="_nc_cat=109&ccb=1-5&_nc_sid=8024bb&_nc_ohc=isyTO2rdwi4AX-Ubsdb&_nc_ht=scontent-sjc3-1.xx&edm=AKIiGfEEAAAA&oh=685d2af3ed89f375a118b1768745f2b8&oe=61724E20" data-ratio="1200" class="cff-multi-image" />
Proud to be a #childcarechampion with these great Bennington County legislators, who all supported this session’s forward-looking bill, H.171. High-quality, affordable childcare is essential for our young children, for families and for Vermont’s economy. Lets Grow Kids

TRANSCRIPT: GOVERNOR PHIL SCOTT AND DR. MARK LEVINE DISCUSS DELTA, VACCINE EFFECTIVENESS AND PANDEMIC DIVISIVENESS AT WEEKLY COVID-19 BRIEFING

Montpelier, Vt. – At a press conference Tuesday, Governor Phil Scott and Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD, both addressed the growing divisiveness and heated rhetoric during the current Delta wave, reiterated the effectiveness of vaccines, and encouraged Vermonters to make informed choices and come together to continue moving the state forward.

The Administration also announced an update to the Agency of Education advisory memo for schools, which extends the length of the universal masking requirement in schools to October 4. Schools have been an asked – and all but one has implemented – a policy to require masking for all those in schools through the first 10 instructional days and then consider lifting the requirement for the eligible population (12 and over) if 80% of eligible students have received both doses of the vaccine. An updated advisory memo is available on the Agency of Education’s COVID resources page:

https://education.vermont.gov/sites/aoe/…

https://education.vermont.gov/news/…

A full transcript of the Governor and Dr. Levine’s remarks are embedded below.

To find out where to get a free, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine today, visit healthvermont.gov/myvaccine.

Transcript of Governor Scott’s remarks:

Good afternoon, I hope everyone had the chance to enjoy the long weekend.

As you know, last month I announced we were moving forward with a vaccine requirement for state employees in certain areas, like Corrections, the Veterans’ Home and the State Psychiatric Hospital, which went into effect on September 1.

At last week’s press conference, I said we were beginning discussions on expanding the policy to more state employees. We have now notified the State Employees Union that, effective September 15, all State of Vermont executive branch employees will be required to attest they are vaccinated or be subject to at least weekly testing and mandatory masking at work.

As I’ve said, we want as many people as possible to get the vaccine – because we know they work – and we feel it’s the best way to put this pandemic behind us. I continue to urge other employers to follow suit.

***

Next, as you know, in early August, my Administration issued an advisory memo urging schools to mandate masks at the beginning of the school year for all students, regardless of age and vaccination status. Despite what you might have heard, we have achieved a near universal mandate with only one small school not following our guidance to institute a masking requirement.

Let me repeat that, because some seem to keep missing it: By encouraging schools to implement the State’s recommendations, we’ve essentially achieved a universal masking requirement in schools, without a State of Emergency.

Now, we did offer an exception after this initial period with a goal of incentivizing vaccinations, which is that once 80% of a school’s eligible students have been vaccinated, we recommended schools lift the masking mandate for those over 12. It’s important to remember this is only for students over 12 where that group is 80% vaccinated. Our guidance to schools has always been that all those who are ineligible for the vaccine continue to wear masks until they become eligible.

This transition was originally supposed to occur after the first 10 school days, but today we’re updating our advisory memo asking schools to maintain the universal masking requirement, regardless of vaccination status, until October 4. We hope by then the Delta wave that has impacted the entire country – though fortunately not anywhere near as severely in Vermont – will have begun to subside.

Secretary French, who foreshadowed this change to superintendents last week, will go into more details in a few moments.

***

We also wanted to make you aware of a school vaccine incentive program we’ve been working on. I’ve Directed the Agency of Education to reserve $2 million in grant dollars for schools who achieve high vaccination rates. There will be benchmarks with corresponding awards as a school reaches higher percentages. Funds will be awarded to schools when they reach those thresholds and submit grant requests with input from students. Again, Secretary French will go into further detail, but we’re hoping to emphasize just how important it is to be vaccinated because it remains the single best tool we have to move from pandemic to endemic.

I’m sure some are wondering whether vaccines make a difference because you’ve been reading so much about the small percentage of breakthrough cases. But before you arrive at that conclusion, it’s important to look at Vermont’s data.

As we’ve learned, the vaccines were designed – first and foremost – to limit severe illness. While we hoped they would nearly eliminate cases, that’s not really how vaccines work. The goal is to limit the number of people who are hospitalized or lose their life once vaccinated. And they are doing just that.

As the entire globe has been hit by Delta, Vermont – with the nation’s most fully vaccinated population – also has the lowest hospitalization rate. That’s not a coincidence.

In short, vaccines continue to save lives; they allow us to do things we had to leave behind in 2020; and they are our best path forward to put this pandemic behind us.

***

What we also have to acknowledge is that COVID isn’t the only virus taking hold right now.

With the Delta wave, has come a wave of divisiveness and anger – a resurgence of polarization that had just started to subside earlier this summer.

If we are truly going to move forward, we have got to reflect on the language we use, the fear and anger these words might stoke, and the wounds we are deepening.

This is the time to rally and pull together because COVID-19 is not going away. We must not let it tear us apart, especially as the risks are being significantly reduced through vaccines.

We have already gotten through the hardest part of the pandemic, and we did it together. Let’s rise to that challenge again because we are beating this virus.

-END-


Transcript of Commissioner Levine’s remarks:

I’d like to start off by acknowledging the unique stage of the pandemic we are in now.

Throughout this pandemic, we have all been presented with various points of view related to restrictions, guidance and behavior. Perspectives and opinions we have wrestled with and considered as we sought to protect Vermonters from the worst effects of COVID-19.

But the challenges of the Delta surge has rekindled and intensified a new level of passion and divisiveness.

Nearly two years in since the first reported case in China, Vermonters have a high degree of fact-based knowledge about the virus, which is a great public health achievement. Yet, I have never seen such differences in people’s awareness of, and view of, current conditions.

People who are steadfastly for or against vaccines or masks; people who are pushing for more masks; people who shame the unvaccinated and blame them for current events; people who let their passions turn into unacceptable school board screaming matches and displays of intolerance and incivility in front of children; and people are making their own decisions about what they consider safe, versus risky behaviors, sometimes counter to medical and science-based recommendations.

So, first I want to say, I get it. These times are hard, in a new way, as we navigate a changing reality once again. The term “pandemic fatigue” can’t even capture it anymore. It’s disappointing and frustrating for all of us, coming as it does after the gains we made in the spring and early summer.

But I must ask you to remember, the enemy is the virus — not one another.

Let’s not blame and make enemies of each other. Yes, every case of a highly transmissible virus is potentially preventable, but the spread of virus cannot always be blamed on a specific policy or lack thereof.

We are learning how to manage, prevent, and live with this evolving and even more contagious virus. While there are things we can all do to help prevent spread, the Delta variant is adept at finding ways to move through our communities, and we will continue to see cases. Just about everywhere is dealing with this surge, despite a wide variety of policies, from very few limits to heavier restrictions.

It is my hope that we can all responsibly support and encourage our leaders, school districts, businesses, nursing home administrators, childcare operators, state officials and even our neighbors to do the right thing in practice and in policy.

Despite the increase in cases we are seeing here, Vermont is still in a relatively good position to weather the surge, due to our high vaccination rates – now with more than 76% of eligible Vermonters fully vaccinated.

Vaccination is still our strongest, most protective defense against COVID-19 right now.

Yes, in addition to cases, we can expect to see outbreaks during this current surge. Outbreaks and what we call “situations” – which are cases associated with events and workplaces, for example – are a reflection of the presence of virus in our communities. And a vaccinated population is our best defense.

Two recent outbreaks have illustrated how we need to really pay attention right now to both risks and following everyday prevention guidance.

At a summer camp in central Vermont that had 127 campers and three pods of campers mostly too young to be vaccinated, their activities were mostly outdoors, but there were indoor gatherings on rainy days during which the children did not wear masks. 38 campers tested positive, with 21 in just one pod and 75% were already infectious by the time we were notified and began investigation. Adults, who were all fully vaccinated, were spared. Other lessons learned are noted on the slide.

And a central Vermont wedding outbreak demonstrates the risk of attending large gatherings, with many families, with food and drink, as illustrated on this next slide.

Such experiences demonstrate and teach us why our current school and overall masking guidance is so critical.

They highlight why we now recommend masks in indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status. And that people should consider any large gathering a possible exposure, and to get tested three to five days afterward, whether you are vaccinated or not.

This was the advice we gave before vaccine was available, and it still holds now. I am heartened to see these recommendations gaining traction – if you have been invited to such functions this summer, you know that many invitations require either vaccination or testing. These basic prevention steps can have an impact on how and where this virus spreads. And, importantly, keeping it from doing so.

And as I’ve said before, if you do test positive or think you might be a close contact of someone who did, you do not need to wait to hear from us. Please visit our website so you can act right away to protect yourself and to prevent further spread.

With this variant, the interval between exposure and the development of symptoms has been quite brief. Because Delta is so contagious, we need your help working even faster to make sure anyone who comes into contact with the virus knows what to do. Think about your calendar, whether you worked, traveled, went to a social gathering, went to school or a medical appointment, and with whom.

I hate to mention the term, but one more thought on so-called breakthrough cases. From LA county we again learn that the rate of infection in people who are unvaccinated is 5 times the rate of those who have received the vaccine, and the rate of hospitalization – meaning severe illness – is almost 30 times higher if you are unvaccinated.

And from Singapore comes more confirmation that the risk of transmission from a vaccinated person to others remains relatively low, usually occurs during a symptomatic phase, early on, and that viral loads rapidly decrease when the immune system kicks in, making for a very brief window of contagiousness.

Now, with regard to booster shots, let’s take a step back – there are still many questions.

Is the current Delta surge and rise in cases and hospitalizations due to the power of Delta itself? Or is Delta overcoming some element of vaccine effectiveness? Or a waning of effectiveness? Is the surge due to a reduction in use of mitigation measures by the population? Will we all need boosters, or just certain populations? Or, most likely, a combination of much of the above.

Evidence coming from Israel is indeed encouraging and speaks to real-time evidence for a booster strategy impacting the Delta surge. Not all of this is peer reviewed yet. And there is further evidence from the companies that make the vaccines that antibody levels will indeed rise after a third dose.
But we are not quite there yet. I encourage patience for the next 10 days. By then, I expect we will have answers to many of these questions and will be prepared for whatever type of large-scale vaccination effort is needed to meet demand, as we were the last time.

And, as always, we will keep everyone informed about what they need to do, when, and how. Please keep checking our website for continually updated information, data and guidance. For example, we have just posted the first of the weekly K-12 school case data reports. You can find it on our K-12 page and the 'COVID in Communities' pages (same locations as last spring) at Healthvermont.gov/covid19.
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TRANSCRIPT: GOVERNOR PHIL SCOTT AND DR. MARK LEVINE DISCUSS DELTA, VACCINE EFFECTIVENESS AND PANDEMIC DIVISIVENESS AT WEEKLY COVID-19 BRIEFING
 
Montpelier, Vt. – At a press conference Tuesday, Governor Phil Scott and Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD, both addressed the growing divisiveness and heated rhetoric during the current Delta wave, reiterated the effectiveness of vaccines, and encouraged Vermonters to make informed choices and come together to continue moving the state forward.
 
The Administration also announced an update to the Agency of Education advisory memo for schools, which extends the length of the universal masking requirement in schools to October 4. Schools have been an asked – and all but one has implemented – a policy to require masking for all those in schools through the first 10 instructional days and then consider lifting the requirement for the eligible population (12 and over) if 80% of eligible students have received both doses of the vaccine. An updated advisory memo is available on the Agency of Education’s COVID resources page:

https://education.vermont.gov/sites/aoe/files/documents/edu-vdh-memo-french-levine-advisory-covid19-prevention-measures-fall-2021-updated.pdf

https://education.vermont.gov/news/covid-19-guidance-vermont-schools
 
A full transcript of the Governor and Dr. Levine’s remarks are embedded below. 

To find out where to get a free, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine today, visit healthvermont.gov/myvaccine.
 
Transcript of Governor Scott’s remarks:

Good afternoon, I hope everyone had the chance to enjoy the long weekend.
 
As you know, last month I announced we were moving forward with a vaccine requirement for state employees in certain areas, like Corrections, the Veterans’ Home and the State Psychiatric Hospital, which went into effect on September 1.
 
At last week’s press conference, I said we were beginning discussions on expanding the policy to more state employees. We have now notified the State Employees Union that, effective September 15, all State of Vermont executive branch employees will be required to attest they are vaccinated or be subject to at least weekly testing and mandatory masking at work.
 
As I’ve said, we want as many people as possible to get the vaccine – because we know they work – and we feel it’s the best way to put this pandemic behind us. I continue to urge other employers to follow suit.

***
 
Next, as you know, in early August, my Administration issued an advisory memo urging schools to mandate masks at the beginning of the school year for all students, regardless of age and vaccination status. Despite what you might have heard, we have achieved a near universal mandate with only one small school not following our guidance to institute a masking requirement.
 
Let me repeat that, because some seem to keep missing it: By encouraging schools to implement the State’s recommendations, we’ve essentially achieved a universal masking requirement in schools, without a State of Emergency.
 
Now, we did offer an exception after this initial period with a goal of incentivizing vaccinations, which is that once 80% of a school’s eligible students have been vaccinated, we recommended schools lift the masking mandate for those over 12. It’s important to remember this is only for students over 12 where that group is 80% vaccinated. Our guidance to schools has always been that all those who are ineligible for the vaccine continue to wear masks until they become eligible.
 
This transition was originally supposed to occur after the first 10 school days, but today we’re updating our advisory memo asking schools to maintain the universal masking requirement, regardless of vaccination status, until October 4. We hope by then the Delta wave that has impacted the entire country – though fortunately not anywhere near as severely in Vermont – will have begun to subside.
 
Secretary French, who foreshadowed this change to superintendents last week, will go into more details in a few moments.
 
***
 
We also wanted to make you aware of a school vaccine incentive program we’ve been working on. I’ve Directed the Agency of Education to reserve $2 million in grant dollars for schools who achieve high vaccination rates. There will be benchmarks with corresponding awards as a school reaches higher percentages. Funds will be awarded to schools when they reach those thresholds and submit grant requests with input from students. Again, Secretary French will go into further detail, but we’re hoping to emphasize just how important it is to be vaccinated because it remains the single best tool we have to move from pandemic to endemic.
 
I’m sure some are wondering whether vaccines make a difference because you’ve been reading so much about the small percentage of breakthrough cases. But before you arrive at that conclusion, it’s important to look at Vermont’s data.
 
As we’ve learned, the vaccines were designed – first and foremost – to limit severe illness. While we hoped they would nearly eliminate cases, that’s not really how vaccines work. The goal is to limit the number of people who are hospitalized or lose their life once vaccinated. And they are doing just that.
 
As the entire globe has been hit by Delta, Vermont – with the nation’s most fully vaccinated population – also has the lowest hospitalization rate. That’s not a coincidence.
 
In short, vaccines continue to save lives; they allow us to do things we had to leave behind in 2020; and they are our best path forward to put this pandemic behind us.
 
***
 
What we also have to acknowledge is that COVID isn’t the only virus taking hold right now.
 
With the Delta wave, has come a wave of divisiveness and anger – a resurgence of polarization that had just started to subside earlier this summer.
 
If we are truly going to move forward, we have got to reflect on the language we use, the fear and anger these words might stoke, and the wounds we are deepening.
 
This is the time to rally and pull together because COVID-19 is not going away. We must not let it tear us apart, especially as the risks are being significantly reduced through vaccines.
 
We have already gotten through the hardest part of the pandemic, and we did it together. Let’s rise to that challenge again because we are beating this virus.
 
-END-
 
 
Transcript of Commissioner Levine’s remarks:
 
I’d like to start off by acknowledging the unique stage of the pandemic we are in now.
 
Throughout this pandemic, we have all been presented with various points of view related to restrictions, guidance and behavior. Perspectives and opinions we have wrestled with and considered as we sought to protect Vermonters from the worst effects of COVID-19.
 
But the challenges of the Delta surge has rekindled and intensified a new level of passion and divisiveness.
 
Nearly two years in since the first reported case in China, Vermonters have a high degree of fact-based knowledge about the virus, which is a great public health achievement. Yet, I have never seen such differences in people’s awareness of, and view of, current conditions.
 
People who are steadfastly for or against vaccines or masks; people who are pushing for more masks; people who shame the unvaccinated and blame them for current events; people who let their passions turn into unacceptable school board screaming matches and displays of intolerance and incivility in front of children; and people are making their own decisions about what they consider safe, versus risky behaviors, sometimes counter to medical and science-based recommendations.
 
So, first I want to say, I get it. These times are hard, in a new way, as we navigate a changing reality once again. The term “pandemic fatigue” can’t even capture it anymore. It’s disappointing and frustrating for all of us, coming as it does after the gains we made in the spring and early summer.
 
But I must ask you to remember, the enemy is the virus — not one another.
 
Let’s not blame and make enemies of each other. Yes, every case of a highly transmissible virus is potentially preventable, but the spread of virus cannot always be blamed on a specific policy or lack thereof.
 
We are learning how to manage, prevent, and live with this evolving and even more contagious virus. While there are things we can all do to help prevent spread, the Delta variant is adept at finding ways to move through our communities, and we will continue to see cases. Just about everywhere is dealing with this surge, despite a wide variety of policies, from very few limits to heavier restrictions.
 
It is my hope that we can all responsibly support and encourage our leaders, school districts, businesses, nursing home administrators, childcare operators, state officials and even our neighbors to do the right thing in practice and in policy.
 
Despite the increase in cases we are seeing here, Vermont is still in a relatively good position to weather the surge, due to our high vaccination rates – now with more than 76% of eligible Vermonters fully vaccinated.
 
Vaccination is still our strongest, most protective defense against COVID-19 right now.
 
Yes, in addition to cases, we can expect to see outbreaks during this current surge. Outbreaks and what we call “situations” – which are cases associated with events and workplaces, for example – are a reflection of the presence of virus in our communities. And a vaccinated population is our best defense.
 
Two recent outbreaks have illustrated how we need to really pay attention right now to both risks and following everyday prevention guidance.
 
At a summer camp in central Vermont that had 127 campers and three pods of campers mostly too young to be vaccinated, their activities were mostly outdoors, but there were indoor gatherings on rainy days during which the children did not wear masks. 38 campers tested positive, with 21 in just one pod and 75% were already infectious by the time we were notified and began investigation. Adults, who were all fully vaccinated, were spared. Other lessons learned are noted on the slide.
 
And a central Vermont wedding outbreak demonstrates the risk of attending large gatherings, with many families, with food and drink, as illustrated on this next slide.
 
Such experiences demonstrate and teach us why our current school and overall masking guidance is so critical.
 
They highlight why we now recommend masks in indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status. And that people should consider any large gathering a possible exposure, and to get tested three to five days afterward, whether you are vaccinated or not.
 
This was the advice we gave before vaccine was available, and it still holds now. I am heartened to see these recommendations gaining traction – if you have been invited to such functions this summer, you know that many invitations require either vaccination or testing. These basic prevention steps can have an impact on how and where this virus spreads. And, importantly, keeping it from doing so.
 
And as I’ve said before, if you do test positive or think you might be a close contact of someone who did, you do not need to wait to hear from us. Please visit our website so you can act right away to protect yourself and to prevent further spread.
 
With this variant, the interval between exposure and the development of symptoms has been quite brief. Because Delta is so contagious, we need your help working even faster to make sure anyone who comes into contact with the virus knows what to do. Think about your calendar, whether you worked, traveled, went to a social gathering, went to school or a medical appointment, and with whom.
 
I hate to mention the term, but one more thought on so-called breakthrough cases. From LA county we again learn that the rate of infection in people who are unvaccinated is 5 times the rate of those who have received the vaccine, and the rate of hospitalization – meaning severe illness – is almost 30 times higher if you are unvaccinated.
 
And from Singapore comes more confirmation that the risk of transmission from a vaccinated person to others remains relatively low, usually occurs during a symptomatic phase, early on, and that viral loads rapidly decrease when the immune system kicks in, making for a very brief window of contagiousness.
 
Now, with regard to booster shots, let’s take a step back – there are still many questions.
 
Is the current Delta surge and rise in cases and hospitalizations due to the power of Delta itself? Or is Delta overcoming some element of vaccine effectiveness? Or a waning of effectiveness? Is the surge due to a reduction in use of mitigation measures by the population? Will we all need boosters, or just certain populations? Or, most likely, a combination of much of the above.
 
Evidence coming from Israel is indeed encouraging and speaks to real-time evidence for a booster strategy impacting the Delta surge. Not all of this is peer reviewed yet. And there is further evidence from the companies that make the vaccines that antibody levels will indeed rise after a third dose.
But we are not quite there yet. I encourage patience for the next 10 days. By then, I expect we will have answers to many of these questions and will be prepared for whatever type of large-scale vaccination effort is needed to meet demand, as we were the last time.
 
And, as always, we will keep everyone informed about what they need to do, when, and how. Please keep checking our website for continually updated information, data and guidance. For example, we have just posted the first of the weekly K-12 school case data reports. You can find it on our K-12 page and the COVID in Communities pages (same locations as last spring) at Healthvermont.gov/covid19.

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I really wish the Governor and administration would move off the almost sole focus on vaccinations to a more broad-based approach to dealing with the recent surge. Yes, the vaccinations are the most critical tool but with the high vaccination rates in VT (among eligible populations) we are reaching a point of diminishing returns on the holdouts at this point. I struggle to understand why when we receive a new tool we abandon so many others that worked previously. To be clear, I am not advocating any type of shutdowns but reinstating an indoor mask mandate for all seems entirely reasonable. With the continuing climb in infections, hospitalizations and deaths (much higher than a year ago at this time), the Governor's insistence that he can't put a mask mandate in place because there is no State of Emergency (his discretion) because there is no emergency is beginning to ring quite hollow. Admittedly, I say this as a frustrated and scared parent of a child too young to be vaccinated and now in school. I assure you it feels like an emergency to my wife and me and to many others in our situation. But I also say it as an economic development professional who believes the best thing we can do for our businesses and the economy is to deploy our best available tools to beat down the virus in order to keep schools and businesses open, parents and other employees working and to allow people to feel safe entering establishments; especially now as a possible Fall surge looms. If you follow the Governor's weekly press conferences closely it is evident that Dr. Levine was chided for his suggestion last week that everyone mask up indoors, regardless of vaccination status. I am confident that is what led to his awkward "no single policy" comments this week. It is disheartening to me that at this point in the pandemic after so much success as a state in managing the impacts, we seem to have a Governor who has lost his way and a Health Commissioner who has lost his voice.

Covid-19 Cultural Recovery Grants for Organizations:
Grant Deadline Approaching

Next Tuesday, September 14, is the deadline to apply for the final round of the Vermont Covid-19 Cultural Recovery Grants, a partnership between the Vermont Arts Council and Vermont Humanities to provide support to arts and humanities organizations facing financial hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

So far, VAC has distributed $665,000 to 79 organizations who applied in round 1 of funding. Check out the list of grantees from the first round of Cultural Recovery grants in July. The full list will be published in October after round two is completed.

Visit the Covid-19 Cultural Recovery Grant web page for complete grant guidelines, FAQs, recordings of our grantseeking webinars and presentation slides.

Questions? Contact info@vermontartscouncil.org or sign up for one-on-one consultations with grant manager Katherine Sims.

https://www.vermontartscouncil.org/grants/organizations/covid-19-cultural-recovery
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Kathleen James VT State Representative Are you willing to acknowledge that we cannot maintain economic growth if we are to cut out emissions quickly enough? Net zero by 2050 is the best a growing economy can do and we now know this is far too late. If you can’t acknowledge this then you are part of the problem.

Weighting factor task force holding public hearing Wednesday!

I'm serving this summer on the Weighting Study Task Force, which is looking at how we fund education in Vermont and the "weights" that we use to account for the varying costs of educating students (ie, students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, English Language Learners, secondary school students, and more). See press release below for info about the first of two public hearings:

MONTPELIER — The Task Force on the Implementation of the Pupil Weighting Factors Report will hold the first of two public hearings from 5-7 pm. on Wednesday in Room 11 of the Vermont Statehouse.

Participants may testify in person or remotely through Zoom.

Anyone interested in testifying, in-person or remotely, should sign up in advance of the hearing through the following online form:

https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx/…

Registration will close at 2 p.m. on Wednesday or at 40 participants, whichever comes first. Instructions on how to access and participate in the hearing will be sent once you have signed up for the hearing. The time limit on testimony is expected to be three minutes.

Information on the Task Force’s work and meetings can be found here: https://ljfo.vermont.gov/committees-and-studies/…

The public hearings will be available to watch live on YouTube at the following link: https://youtube.com/channel/…

For more information about the format of these events, contact Sorsha Anderson at sanderson@leg. state.vt.us. Written testimony can be submitted electronically or mailed to the Task Force on the Implementation of the Pupil Weighting Factors Report, c/o Joint Fiscal Office, 1 Baldwin St.,, Montpelier, VT, 05633.
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Weighting factor task force holding public hearing Wednesday!

Im serving this summer on the Weighting Study Task Force, which is looking at how we fund education in Vermont and the weights that we use to account for the varying costs of educating students (ie, students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, English Language Learners, secondary school students, and more). See press release below for info about the first of two public hearings:

MONTPELIER — The Task Force on the Implementation of the Pupil Weighting Factors Report will hold the first of two public hearings from 5-7 pm. on Wednesday in Room 11 of the Vermont Statehouse.

Participants may testify in person or remotely through Zoom.

Anyone interested in testifying, in-person or remotely, should sign up in advance of the hearing through the following online form: 

https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=bNefLrdYQUubkNDvoQ9AHh6YP-cF7hxDhFcJXwyRBVRURjQzN1Q3TDczNTZPV0dUOFE3NkVSOFoxTy4u

Registration will close at 2 p.m. on Wednesday or at 40 participants, whichever comes first. Instructions on how to access and participate in the hearing will be sent once you have signed up for the hearing. The time limit on testimony is expected to be three minutes.

Information on the Task Force’s work and meetings can be found here: https://ljfo.vermont.gov/committees-and-studies/task-force-on-the-implementation-of-the-pupil-weighting-factors

The public hearings will be available to watch live on YouTube at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgHFernWVwH5MD0Se9NmVhg/videos?view=57

For more information about the format of these events, contact Sorsha Anderson at sanderson@leg. state.vt.us. Written testimony can be submitted electronically or mailed to the Task Force on the Implementation of the Pupil Weighting Factors Report, c/o Joint Fiscal Office, 1 Baldwin St.,, Montpelier, VT, 05633.
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JOIN REPS. JAMES AND BONGARTZ at our 2021 SOLUTION SUMMITS

HOUSING: OCTOBER 13 (REGISTRATION INFO BELOW)
PROMISING CAREER PATHWAYS: NOVEMBER 4

Although the 2021 legislative session ended in June, Seth and I have been working hard this summer to plan a pair of “solution summits” for fall. These public events are focused on two important issues facing our communities: housing and jobs.

VERMONT HOUSING SUMMIT 2021: OCTOBER 13 (Arlington)

The Housing Summit is set for October 13 from 9 am to 4 pm in Arlington. It’s an all-day conference focused on the nuts and bolts of building housing for low- and moderate-income Vermonters.

Our goal is to highlight the challenges to providing much-needed housing in our communities, while exploring policies and strategies that can lead to solutions. Case studies drawn from Vermont communities will illustrate the steps that can be taken to address an issue that's fundamental to public health, economic development, and smart-growth initiatives in towns, villages and cities across the state. The summit will be of value to municipal officials, housing developers and nonprofits, legislators, and anyone interested in supporting the development of quality housing that meets the needs of all residents.

Key players from Vermont’s housing community will attend, including Josh Hanford (Commissioner, Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development), Gus Seelig (Executive Director, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board), and reps from the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, Bennington County Regional Commission, Shires Housing, and the towns of Arlington and Manchester.

This event is organized by Rep. Seth Bongartz and Rep. Kathleen James with assistance from the Bennington County Regional Commission. Sponsorship and support provided by the Town of Manchester, the Town of Arlington, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development, the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, and Shires Housing.

To learn more and register, click on the link and download our flyer:


PROMISING CAREER PATHWAYS: NOVEMBER 4 (Manchester)

The second event, Northshire Career Expo 2021, will be held November 4 from 3:30 to 6:30 pm at Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester. It’s a hands-on career fair for high-school students and adult job-seekers focused on Vermont’s most promising high-pay, high-demand careers, plus best-bet short-term training programs.

The three-hour expo will include display tables, mobile vans, three fast-paced mini-panels, and reps from the Department of Labor, Vermont State Colleges and Community College of Vermont, UVM, Advance Vermont and the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC), plus employers across key industries (healthcare and mental health, business management and manufacturing, building trades, military and law enforcement, education, tourism and hospitality, and many more).

This free event is open to high-school students from BBA, Arlington Memorial, Mount Anthony and Long Trail School, plus any adult Northshire resident who’d like to learn more about Vermont’s most promising career pathways.

This event is organized by Reps. Kathleen James and Seth Bongartz and supported by the Vermont Department of Labor, the McClure Foundation, Burr and Burton Academy, and the Bennington County Regional Commission.

Advance registration will be required; look for registration details closer to the event.

COVID SAFETY: We are committed to maintaining the highest level of safety at these fall events, and will be monitoring the COVID context closely. As each summit approaches, we'll work with our partners to make a decision. All registrants will be notified if the event is modified, postponed or cancelled to ensure we're protecting the health of our communities. Stay tuned!
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JOIN REPS. JAMES AND BONGARTZ at our 2021 SOLUTION SUMMITS

HOUSING: OCTOBER 13 (REGISTRATION INFO BELOW)
PROMISING CAREER PATHWAYS: NOVEMBER 4 

Although the 2021 legislative session ended in June, Seth and I have been working hard this summer to plan a pair of “solution summits” for fall. These public events are focused on two important issues facing our communities: housing and jobs.
 
VERMONT HOUSING SUMMIT 2021: OCTOBER 13 (Arlington)

The Housing Summit is set for October 13 from 9 am to 4 pm in Arlington. It’s an all-day conference focused on the nuts and bolts of building housing for low- and moderate-income Vermonters.

Our goal is to highlight the challenges to providing much-needed housing in our communities, while exploring policies and strategies that can lead to solutions. Case studies drawn from Vermont communities will illustrate the steps that can be taken to address an issue thats fundamental to public health, economic development, and smart-growth initiatives in towns, villages and cities across the state. The summit will be of value to municipal officials, housing developers and nonprofits, legislators, and anyone interested in supporting the development of quality housing that meets the needs of all residents.

Key players from Vermont’s housing community will attend, including Josh Hanford (Commissioner, Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development), Gus Seelig (Executive Director, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board), and reps from the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, Bennington County Regional Commission, Shires Housing, and the towns of Arlington and Manchester.

This event is organized by Rep. Seth Bongartz and Rep. Kathleen James with assistance from the Bennington County Regional Commission. Sponsorship and support provided by the Town of Manchester, the Town of Arlington, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development, the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, and Shires Housing.

To learn more and register, click on the link and download our flyer:
https://bit.ly/VT2021housingsummit
 
PROMISING CAREER PATHWAYS: NOVEMBER 4 (Manchester)

The second event, Northshire Career Expo 2021, will be held November 4 from 3:30 to 6:30 pm at Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester. It’s a hands-on career fair for high-school students and adult job-seekers focused on Vermont’s most promising high-pay, high-demand careers, plus best-bet short-term training programs.
 
The three-hour expo will include display tables, mobile vans, three fast-paced mini-panels, and reps from the Department of Labor, Vermont State Colleges and Community College of Vermont, UVM, Advance Vermont and the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC), plus employers across key industries (healthcare and mental health, business management and manufacturing, building trades, military and law enforcement, education, tourism and hospitality, and many more).
 
This free event is open to high-school students from BBA, Arlington Memorial, Mount Anthony and Long Trail School, plus any adult Northshire resident who’d like to learn more about Vermont’s most promising career pathways.

This event is organized by Reps. Kathleen James and Seth Bongartz and supported by the Vermont Department of Labor, the McClure Foundation, Burr and Burton Academy, and the Bennington County Regional Commission.

Advance registration will be required; look for registration details closer to the event.

COVID SAFETY: We are committed to maintaining the highest level of safety at these fall events, and will be monitoring the COVID context closely. As each summit approaches, well work with our partners to make a decision. All registrants will be notified if the event is modified, postponed or cancelled to ensure were protecting the health of our communities. Stay tuned!Image attachment

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So curious to hear how we are going to non profit our way out of end stage capitalism.

Its really a privilege — and a tremendous opportunity — to be spending this week at the Robert J. Thompson Eastern Leadership Academy, hosted by The Council of State Governments. I worked hard on my application this spring, and am so excited to be a Class of 2021 Fellow! Were in Philadelphia for four days of hands-on workshops on topics like governing for the public good, building a culture of legislative excellence, overcoming impasse and negotiating agreement, how to convey consequential knowledge in a world of contested facts and conspiracy theories, and more. This years cohort includes 37 elected and appointed officials from all three branches of government — from Maryland to Maine, Puerto Rico to the Virgin Islands — coming together across parties and perspectives to learn, challenge each other, and become more skillful leaders. The Vermont delegation = me, Sen. Thomas Chittenden and Tim Tierney, Director of International Trade and Business Recruitment for the Vermont Department of Economic Development. A great team!

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If only all of our representatives could be as dedicated as you! You are the example of thoughtful leadership.

That last class must take three of the four days… lol

I love that shirt!

Say hi to Veronique! I LOVED this program!

Not sure what I was looking at in this shot but it's great to be down here with you at this!

A great team representing VT

So thrilled to join our dedicated representatives here in beautiful Philadelphia.

Kathleen Excellent — what a great honor for you and for Vermont! You continue to make a difference!

Well deserved no doubt. Thank you for all you do for our community

You are my hero! Thank you for all that you do, Kath.

An honor and you deserve it!

Look at you Tim Tierney! Congrats to all of you!!!

Thank you for your leadership! 🙂

Go Kath!!!

You're amazing!

Congratulations!! Wonderful program.

Take lots of notes!!!!

Congratulations and have a great time!!!

What an amazing opportunity!

Kudos!

Congratulations and thank you!

So proud of you

That's really great Kath!

Sounds like all really important topics!

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FDA GRANTS FULL APPROVAL TO PFIZER VACCINE:

Today, the FDA granted full approval to Pfizers COVID-19 vaccine for use by individuals 16 years and older. This full approval replaces the FDAs emergency use authorization that was granted to Pfizer last December, and it means that Pfizers COVID-19 vaccine has now received the same amount of vetting as other standard vaccines on the market. Full FDA approval for Modernas COVID-19 vaccine is expected to come shortly. 

You can find locations for a vaccine at the Vermont Department of Health or receive the vaccine at most pharmacies. 

https://www.healthvermont.gov/covid-19

Also: Read the New York Times article here: 

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/23/us/pfizer-vaccine-mandates.html