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Gifford Bridge, Randolph, Vermont | Source: John Knox

IN THIS ISSUE OF NEWS & NOTES

 

Staff Spotlight: Rita Seto | TRORC Forms Non-Profit Foundation: TRORF | Irene Buyout Program Wrapping Up | Local Emergency Management Plan | VTrans Statewide Public Transit Policy Plan | Free EPCRA Compliance Workshop | Final Weeks of Button Up Campaign | Regional Wonders: Sunset Lake Floating Bridge

 

Staff Spotlight: Rita Seto

 

This month, TRORC wants to recognize the outstanding work of Senior Planner Rita Seto. She has been working tirelessly with towns this year, applying for multiple Vermont Agency of Transportation grants that focus on environmental mitigation projects relating to stormwater management and reducing erosion on town highways. Rita wrote successful applications for the towns of Pittsfield and Stockbridge for new salt sheds and the town of Barnard to replace a large culvert totaling nearly $1 million in federal grant funds under the Municipal Highway and Stormwater Mitigation program. All three applications were awarded and TRORC will be assisting these towns with project management.

 

Rita also assisted in writing grant applications for Bridgewater, Brookfield, Fairlee, Granville, and Norwich on Transportation Alternative applications that include a new salt shed and large culvert replacements. These applications totaled $1.2 million in federal grant funds.

 

She has continued working diligently with towns to submit 28 Better Roads grant applications totaling nearly $500,000 in grant funds, 21 of which are construction projects. Many of these construction projects were identified as high priority through completed road erosion inventories. By June 2020, all towns in the TRO Region will have a completed road erosion inventory in compliance with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)’s Municipal Roads General Permit. Both grant programs will announce awards in January 2019.

 

Rita has also been managing DEC’s Municipal Grants-in-Aid program which is in its second year and is targeted towards improving water quality on town highways. This summer she coordinated with 28 participating municipalities in the Region identifying ditching projects to be completed by June 30, 2019. Thank you Rita for your amazing town support with transportation projects!

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Rita Seto speaking at the Walk Bike Summit in May | Source: TRORC .

TRORC Forms Non-Profit Foundation: TRORF

 

This November, the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Foundation (TRORF) was formed as a nonprofit arm in support of the TRORC mission to support our towns’ needs. The specific purposes and objectives of TRORF are to help the TRORC in its efforts to promote the health, safety and welfare of the inhabitants of the TRO Region. This is accomplished by working toward a superior quality of life, vibrant economy, and clean environment, and by encouraging sound growth through effective community and regional development.

 

Unlike TRORC, which is a political subdivision of the state, the TRORF is a 501(c)(3) and received its public charity notice as a Type II supporting organization from the Internal Revenue Service on November 6, 2018.

 

TRORC must seek to maintain, grow, and diversify its funding in order to tackle the many new and emerging issues in our Region. This is especially important to help maximize its role as coach and player, along with funding strong communications and outreach for our Region.  The creation of TRORF will allow TRORC to make significant progress in achieving the vision of a thriving regional economy and high quality of life.

 

To read more, visit https://www.trorc.org/foundation/ or email Foundation@trorc.org.

Tropical Storm Irene Buyout Program is Wrapping Up

Six years ago, TRORC formally began its buyout program, helping residents who lost their homes or businesses in Tropical Storm Irene recover. With help from Vermont’s Agency of Commerce and Community Development, TRORC obtained $7.8 million for this work, including $2 million from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. These funds matched state emergency grants from Vermont Emergency Management and covered 75% of costs, helping landowners to receive 100% of their pre-flood value, including the costs of site demolition.

 

Under this grant, 132 structures were bought, eliminating any chance of rebuilding in these dangerous locations, removing potentially dilapidated buildings, and providing new room for the rivers. We were also able to cover 90% of the costs to create small parks on sites in Granville, Rochester, Pittsfield, Bethel, Royalton, Braintree, Berlin, Grafton, Northfield, Londonderry, Warren and Hartford. Thanks to all of our towns, and local and state partners for making this happen. 

 

This buyout program received national recognition on September 17 in Portland, Maine, when the Council of State Community Development Agencies (COSCDA) awarded TRORC the Sterling Achievement Award for Homelessness. It also received a National Association of Development Agencies (NADO) Innovations Award this past fall, and a project of the year award from the Vermont Planners Association. Looking forward, we are still pursuing a few final buyouts with separate funding that are projected to be completed by the end of this year, and are working on creating a permanent buyout program for use in future floods.

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Photo: Sterling Achievement Award for Homelessness Award (L-R)                                                                 

Josh Hanford, Deputy Commissioner, DHCD, 

Kevin Geiger, AICP, CFM, Senior Planner, TRORC

AnnKarlene Kroll, Director of Grants Management, DHCD

Keith Heaton, COSCDA President                                                                                             Source: TRORC

Local Emergency Management Plan

 

In 2019, the new Local Emergency Management Plan (LEMP) will replace the Local Emergency Operations Plan (LEOP). TRORC and the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) #12 and invite you to a LEMP training and writing workshop to get a head start on this new format.

 

This is an open invitation to any town official or community member that has a hand in drafting the LEMP on an annual basis. Rich Cogliano from Vermont Emergency Management will lead the training.

 

You can prepare for this workshop by downloading and bringing along your community's draft. Download the templates here: https://vem.vermont.gov/plans/lemp. Some paper copies will be provided, but it is recommended that you bring a laptop.

 

Join us December 20, from 6-8 p.m. at the VA Hospital, Room 103 in the Research Building (Building #44) in White River Junction, Vermont. (Click here for a map of the campus)

 

Dinner and refreshments will be served. Please RSVP here so enough food and drink is purchased.

 

Contact Tory Littlefield for any questions at vlittlefield@trorc.org or at 457-3188.

 

 

VTrans Statewide Public Transit Policy Plan

 

Do you ride the bus? Carpool? Uber? VTrans wants your input and is gathering feedback on existing public transportation services, service gaps and challenges, and potential solutions from stakeholders and transit riders. An interactive survey is currently available to provide feedback.

 

The Vermont Public Transit Policy Plan (PTPP) will quantify Vermont’s transit needs, as well as recommend programmatic and policy initiatives to strengthen the statewide transit system.  This plan will lay out a 10-year vision for improved transit service in Vermont and develop policies and strategies to guide the improvement of Vermont’s transit network.

To take the 5-minute survey, and be entered for a $50 gift card, visit:

https://vermontptpp.metroquest.com/

 

Hurry, the survey closes December 31st!

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 Source: VTrans

 

Free EPCRA Compliance Workshop in Brattleboro

 

If you are a facility that has over one hundred pounds of hazardous materials, you have probably filled out a Tier II form. If not, you are in violation of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). The purpose of this federal law is to protect your business, your employees and your community should a chemical accident occur. The EPCRA data and Risk Management Plan better prepares emergency response personnel and the community to handle an incident should one occur.

 

There is a free EPCRA training workshop coming up in Vermont to assist facilities and towns with filling out and submitting the Tier II form:

                  December 13, 8 a.m.-12 p.m.

                  Brattleboro Retreat, 1 Anna Marsh Ln, Brattleboro, VT 05302,

                  Education Conference Center- parking in the ‘Lawton Hall’

 

Registration is required, so please email vanni.tammy@epa.gov if interested. Some facilities, like town highway departments, maybe be unsure if they need to report. If you have over 10,000 pounds of road salt and sand, for example, you are required to report. The reporting fee for municipalities is free. TRORC is able to come to your community to assist you with filling out the Tier II form. These forms are due by March 1, 2019 and include all chemicals stored on site in 2018.

 

Please contact Tory Littlefield at vlittlefield@trorc.org if you need assistance in filling out a Tier II form for the 2018 report year, or if you would benefit from a Region-wide training in your area.

 

Final Weeks of Button Up Campaign with Efficiency VT

 

Button Up Vermont 2018 is a weatherizing campaign designed to help Vermonters take action and reach our statewide goal of 25% energy savings in 80,000 homes by 2020. Forty-two Vermont communities are participating in Button Up Vermont this year. Visit here to see resources for Community Partners, along with a listing of contacts for participating communities.

 

Participating towns in TRO Region are Barnard, Hartford, Hartland, Norwich, Randolph, Strafford and Thetford. Residents of these towns that fill out a brief survey before December 15th will receive a free energy efficiency walk-through of their home with a qualified contractor! Walk-throughs will be completed before March, and will cover an assessment, scope of work, and cost estimate. Please sign up below:

 

https://buttonupvermont.org/weatherize

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 Source: Button Up Vermont

 

Regional Wonders

Sunset Lake Floating Bridge, Brookfield VT

 

If you have driven on Vermont Route 65, there is a good chance you have driven across the only floating bridge east of the Mississippi, and the only known wooden floating bridge in existence. This bridge, located in Brookfield, has been in operation since 1820 and was created by linking logs together across the frozen lake.

 

There have been eight iterations of the bridge, and the most recent version floated on foam-filled barrels. Unfortunately, in 2008 the bridge sunk too low, becoming partially submerged, and was no longer considered safe for driving; this resulted in its closure and disassembly that lasted six years.

 

The Federal government and the state of Vermont both covered the cost of restoration, and the bridge was reopened in May 2015. The bridge is floating on more durable fiber-reinforced polymer pontoons, and is now predicted to have a 100-year lifespan. Visitors can either drive across the bridge, or walk across its sidewalks- maybe even stopping to cast a line into Sunset lake and picnic at the park! (You will have to wait until warmer weather, however, because the bridge is closed in the winter).

 

To learn more, watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIaoHVqp1dk

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 Source: VTrans

 
 
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