The coronavirus has upended the way we learn about candidates running for office. We’re limited in being able to talk to them directly. There are no crowds, which subtract from the energy. Most Vermonters are singularly focused on surviving; parsing through a candidate’s positions takes a se…

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In the 1960s, the Canadian government inaugurated a monthly quota system for its dairy farmers and today those farmers say that if it weren’t for the supply management system the dairy industry in Canada would not exist.

When campaigning on the issues does not work for a candidate, step two is to discredit the opposition. That is the step Senate Pro Tem Tim Ashe has taken with Molly Gray, his most serious rival in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor.

In 2008, Audubon Vermont and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation teamed up to create a program called “Foresters for the Birds.” The idea of this program was that, while there is a lot to love about Vermont’s forests – from the way they make our state so beautiful, clean …

In mid-July the state of Vermont issued the guidance our school boards were to follow as they cobbled together plans to start the 2020-2021 school year. The guidance was not prescriptive; like the flippers on a pin ball machine, it was meant to keep things centered, with no one going off kil…

Sophie Zdatny was named chancellor of the Vermont State College system on Monday. She has been in the role as in interim chancellor since April. She had been VSC’s general counsel and is regarded as someone who is a talented collaborator, a strong negotiator and someone committed to a sound …

Yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis) is a striking tree: golden, metallic bark shines among the greys and browns of other trees. The cousin of our most-identifiable tree, the white or “paper” birch (Betula papyrifera), yellow birch has many of the same attributes: bark with little horizontal…

The nation’s hospitals [including Vermont’s] suffered grievously during the pandemic as its services were shut down, but the patients that fill their beds and line up for their scheduled visits apparently did not suffer, raising questions about whether the health care system we’ve built is n…

Vermont legislators are pushing a package of police reform measures intended to be passed by this Friday, the date being set for adjournment until August when legislators address the FY2021 budget.

Now more than ever, people are yearning for purpose and a place where they fit in and feel loved and needed. Whether you find yourself employed, unemployed, retired, on school break, caring for family, or somewhere in between, it is okay, and normal to feel at times as though you’re on the o…

If the average Vermonter were to have been asked a week ago whether a business had the right to fire an employee for being gay or transgender, most would have answered no, thinking the issue had been settled long ago. But until Monday, it was legal in more than half the states to fire worker…

Talk about a gift. Talk about an idea that should be emulated by others who have the means. Talk about a proposal that could make a life long difference to those involved, and to Vermont as a whole.

As the controversy swirls about how to reform the nation’s police forces, including Vermont’s, with a growing chorus favoring a cut in police budgets, it’s worth noting that on a per capita basis the United States employs about 35 percent fewer police officers than other nation’s worldwide.

As the weather gets warmer, Vermonters are comforted by the simple pleasures of summer, among them, fun with friends at Vermont country fairs and festivals. My own family has enjoyed fairs all over the state year after year. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has caused this summer’s fairs and festival…

It’s being called the “Covid-slide.” It began mid-March when the schools were shut down and teachers and their students were sent home and expected to keep the learning process alive and well remotely.

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COVID-19 has disrupted many aspects of daily life and has the potential to impact our civic duty of voting in upcoming elections. At a time when public health is at risk, the Vermont House of Representatives has been working with our Secretary of State to develop ways to ensure that our demo…

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A “keystone species” is a species, usually of wildlife, which has a disproportionate effect on its environment. In our region, the classic example of this is the beaver. Beavers dam and flood fields and forests, essentially creating, or “driving,” their own natural disturbance events. Beside…

I’ve always loved Vermont’s state motto: Freedom and Unity. We Vermonters take our freedom and independence seriously. It gives us the kind of true grit required to withstand snowstorms in October and May. But our independence has never been challenged like it is being challenged now. In the…

As sectors of the economy reopen and Vermonters are called back to work, the need for Vermont's childcare system to be operational again has become a top priority.

The political picture is a lot less clear than most people believe, and that applies to Vermont as well as it does nationally, the reason being that the havoc wreaked by Covid-19 is not fully understood and voters are, by nature, fickle. States are just now budgeting for the next year and wh…

College presidents are sitting on the edges of their financial seats fervently hoping the students already enrolled will return and that today’s high school seniors will commit to their schools in numbers sufficient to keep them solvent. In a state like Vermont, it’s a billion dollar-plus worry.

There is no hiding from Covid-19. This virus has no borders and travels at will, menacing people and businesses in every sector of society. The pandemic threatens agriculture and with it our food security, as farmers work to produce the food on our tables. Our farmers, producers and those ma…

It’s hard to believe it’s May. We’re nearing two straight months of COVID-19 disruptions, and for many of us, our calendars seem irrelevant as we adjust through continued social distancing measures. I know this is a stressful time for those who are out of work, our small business owners who …

Vermont State College Chancellor Jeb Spauding resigned his position Wednesday. Karen Scolforo, president of Castleton University, resigned Thursday. Northern Vermont University President Elaine Collins is a finalist for a job in her home state of Michigan. To call the exodus a challenge to t…

When my last column was sent to The Reporter at the end of March, the Vermont Legislature had been on Covid-19 recess for just over a week. In that week we learned we would be meeting via video-conferencing using Zoom as our method of communication, the IT department in the Statehouse instal…

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I call it engineered chaos with an essential outcome and a timeline that had to be completed before it begins. The outcome is to “flatten the curve” and provide a space for healing and recovery for the homeless, those who have no home to go to safely and are covid positive. They do not need …

Jeb Spaulding, chancellor of the Vermont State Colleges, needs to tender his resignation. Mr. Spaulding is not the leader the state college system needs to weather the crisis before it. At this point he is more of a liablity than an asset.

The protesters came, as expected. The affected communities rose up in anger, as expected. The people whose jobs would be affected, expressed their indignation, as expected. And the students, whose futures were made uncertain, let it be known they were none too happy, also expected.

It seems as if Vermont has struggled with tight budgets since the dawn of time. Every legislative session begins with the affordability sermon and every year we pat ourselves on the back for how flinty we are with a buck, knowing deep down we’ve not been tested, that we’ve not had to choose …

For most of the last month — it seems like years — there has been a single national narrative, which has been the COVID-19 pandemic and its almost biblical wave of destruction, both in loss of life and loss of economic health, of which we’re reminded each passing minute. As humans, we’re not…

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Whether you are a forest manager, landowner, or enjoyer of the outdoors, it can be intimidating to know your role in the management of our forests. While there are some examples of good stewardship, humans’ track record as land managers over the last few hundred years has been mostly poor, r…

Perhaps no system has experienced more fundamental disruption during the pandemic than health care. Hospitals have focused almost every shred of their capacity preparing for, or dealing with the coronavirus, and the cost to the system has been horrific. Revenue has dried up and costs have so…

Nothing is more dispiriting to a dairy farmer than dumping the day’s work into the manure pit, which is happening in Vermont and throughout the nation. The pandemic has had a cascading effect on dairy farmers, disrupting their supply channels and destroying the markets. They dump their milk …

In every crisis there is a point when the leader says to those being managed, “Don’t tell me why it can’t be done, tell me how it will be done, and it would be best if it happened yesterday.”

Thank you to everyone who has been in touch to share your thoughts, questions, and concerns during the COVID-19 crisis. Both Rep. Houghton and I have been busy sharing your feedback with the administration in an attempt to keep them updated on the pressing needs of our community. We know thi…

Your Essex legislators want you to know that we are taking the COVID-19 situation very seriously and are continuing our work while at home. We are in regular communication with legislative leaders, the administration, each other, and you--our constituents.

As I write this column, the Vermont Legislature has been on hiatus since March 13. A decision by the House of Representative Rules Committee ordered that the Statehouse would close at 5 p.m. on March 13, to return as to be determined. My committee, Appropriations, which writes the fiscal yea…

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Each day brings new information and new decisions on COVID-19. As I’m writing this article on Sunday for publication on Thursday, I hesitate to provide what is happening today. Instead I will remind readers to go to www.healthvermont.gov for up to date information, wash your hands, don’t tou…

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Not since 2009 has the Legislature overridden a Governor’s veto. It’s a rare occurrence and an important check on the Executive branch that’s part of our democratic system. I was proud to vote for an override last week to raise the minimum wage for working Vermonters. The vote of 100-49 achi…

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You wake up in the morning and realize your spouse seems confused, can’t seem to get out of bed, and is having difficulty speaking. You’re in a meeting at work when you notice your coworker’s face seems to be drooping on one side, and they don’t seem to understand what you’re saying to them.…

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Vermont’s 2020 legislative session is nearing its midpoint, when lawmakers break for Town Meeting. The origin of our winter timeline comes from Vermont’s agrarian tradition. Prior to the 21st century, many citizen lawmakers farmed the land during warmer seasons. The cold weeks of the winter …

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It’s no secret that like many northeastern states Vermont faces difficult demographic challenges. In a state with an aging population, we’ll need more younger workers in the coming years to have a healthy tax base and to provide the services many older Vermonters rely upon.

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Vermonters value our strong communities. We celebrate the good times with cheers and hugs, and we lend a helping hand when times are tough. Taking care of our neighbors – that’s what we do. During a power outage, we check in on our neighbors. After a heavy snow, we help shovel stoops and pus…

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As you read this, the Vermont Legislature is in the seventh week of the 18-week legislative session. For most legislators this means we are well into testimony and discussions of the various bills that have been assigned to our committees, and there are a lot of bills to potentially discuss.…

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Action continues in the committee rooms with little time spent on the House floor. The Governor’s veto of the paid family leave bill was sustained on a vote of 99-51. In order to override a veto each chamber needs a two-thirds majority vote.

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It was a slow week on the floor of the House. Only two bills were passed. The first was H. 606, which addresses the law governing self-storage business. The issues being addressed are notification of default to renters, over locking of units in default, notification of an auction of storage …

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I am pleased to be back in Montpelier representing Essex constituents. I serve on the House Human Services Committee considering legislation related to poverty, child protection, disabilities, older Vermonters, and public health.

At VTrans, we know how much you count on us to keep Vermont’s roadways safe for travel during winter weather and storms. This time of year, you’ll see our fleet of 268 plow trucks out in full force, plowing millions of miles of roads and highways and doing our part to keep you moving.

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January 1, 2020 — Essex Rescue continues to provide emergency, prehospital care via trained, volunteer and paid personnel to the towns of Essex, Essex Junction, Westford, Underhill, and Jericho.

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As you read this, the Vermont Legislature is in its second week of the 2020 legislative session. In the four days of the first week, members of the House of Representatives returned to their committees, renewed friendships from the previous session, started work looking at legislation held o…