This is the interior of a Wheel Pad, which attaches to an existing home and provides accessible features.

Wheel Pad aims to provide accessible home

WILMINGTON — Whether it’s an elderly relative, returning veteran or a disabled individual, the need for an accessible home comes up at a regular clip in this world — and hardship can result if that home is not available. Husband-and-wife team Julie Lineberger and Joseph Cincotta are looking to solve that problem, through their business Wheel Pad L3C. A Wheel Pad is a wheelchair-accessible suite including a bedroom, bathroom and living space, and this mobile unit can be temporarily added onto an existing home, thereby providing a solution for someone needing accessible living accommodations. The business, based in Wilmington, was the 2015 winner of the Fresh Tracks Road Pitch contest, and Lineberger, the company’s president, plans to have Wheel Pad enter production in February. Cincotta, the principal architect of their other business, LineSync Architecture, has worked with a team of Norwich University students to build the Wheel Pad prototype.

Brian Godnick, owner of Godnick’s Grand Furniture in Rutland, stands with his son, Brent, who is the fourth generation to work in the family business. They expect new heat pumps to help them cut back on energy costs year-round.

Vt. warming up to heat pumps

Godnick’s Grand Furniture in Rutland is now home to Green Mountain Power’s largest installation of heat pumps, which have helped boost energy savings for a number of customers in recent years. GMP recently installed 20 of these hyper-efficient, ductless heat pump heads at Godnick’s, where they’re estimated to reduce fuel usage by 40 percent during the heating season. The heat pumps are also expected to save the business about 30 percent in electricity consumed by air conditioning in the summer. The heat pumps transfer air from the outdoors to heat the building, and in the summer, they transfer heat out to cool the building — making them far more cost-effective than traditional heating and AC systems.

Brian Godnick, owner of Godnick’s Grand Furniture, said the business had a 40-year-old air conditioning system which it hadn’t used in a few years, since it is highly inefficient. “It was old, not feasible to run,” he said.

Report: ZEVs could have $300M impact in Vt.

A multistate goal to make all new cars sold zero-emission by 2050 would save Vermont over $300 million in health costs and other impacts of pollution, according to a recent report from the American Lung Association in California. Vermont and California are part of a group of 10 states that signed a memorandum of understanding to meet the 2050 goal on zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). Eight of those states, including Vermont and California, signed onto the memorandum at the climate accord in Paris in December. Vermont is also one of eight states that signed a 2013 agreement to get 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the road in those states by 2025. “It’s all a recognition that we all need to do more, and we need to do more pollution reduction to secure a stable climate and a healthy future,” said William Barrett, senior policy analyst for the American Lung Association in California.

State gives Pathways Vt. agency designation

After a successful five-year pilot project, Pathways Vermont — an agency that combats chronic homelessness — is now a Specialized Services Agency under the state’s mental health care system. With the Specialized Services Agency designation, Pathways recently became the first agency to be added to the Vermont Department of Mental Health since the state’s designated agency system began two decades ago. The group provides services to Vermonters with mental health issues and other life challenges, with a focus on chronically homeless individuals. Pathways Vermont follows the Housing First model, which means its top priority is to find housing for the people it serves. Hilary Melton, the executive director of Pathways Vermont, said people use state services much less if they have housing, and Pathways’ pilot phase proved that.

The audience awaits the next scene of “CATS The Musical” in April at Woodstock Town Hall Theater, where Pentangle Arts Council is planning a major renovation.

Pentangle plans major theater renovation

WOODSTOCK — Pentangle Arts Council is planning a major renovation of the Woodstock Town Hall Theater, a project aimed at making the group’s overall operations financially sustainable over the long term. The two-phase project is estimated at the lower end of the $2 million range, which includes interior improvements and an addition at the rear of the building. The timeline for the project is not set at this early stage. Alita Wilson, Pentangle’s executive director, said the time has come for major upgrades, which include various efforts to make the theater more comfortable for all patrons, including ADA compliance. Wilson said these kinds of improvements will make the theater easier for everyone to use and will help sustain and grow Pentangle’s programs, therefore fostering a stable financial future for the organization.

A wide range of vintage toys pack the shelves at Rutland Toy and Hobby.

Vintage toy shop fills niche

RUTLAND — A local family recently opened Rutland Toy and Hobby at 158 North Main Street, filling the niche that the former store Mike’s Hobbies filled for many years. In fact, 158 North Main now has two businesses selling treasures from decades past, with the recent opening of the vinyl record shop Rick and Kat’s Howlin’ Mouse in the former Mike’s Hobbies space next door to the city’s newest toy store. Rutland Toy and Hobby is owned by the father-and-son team of Wayne Thornton Sr. and Jr., and Thornton Jr.’s mother Denise handles the bookkeeping and also helps in the store. Thornton Jr., who is 25 years old, said he has expertise in toys and comics from the 1990s and early 2000s, and all manner of video games, and his dad’s specialties are toys from the 1970s and 1980s, along with cars, trains and remote-control toys. Together, that’s a wide range of expertise that makes the key attribute of the new business possible: diversity.

A biker enjoys the Coaster Trail in Killington Resort’s Snowshed Area.

Killington makes big strides with bike park

KILLINGTON — Killington Resort’s bike park has seen various improvements in recent years, and the customers have responded by using it more often. The resort’s season pass sales for mountain biking went from fewer than 150 in 2014 to more than 550 this summer, according to Communications Manager Michael Joseph. That contributed to the resort’s 25-percent growth in summer revenue over the last three years, and total days with bikers on the trails — including season-pass holders and day-ticket users — have grown at that same 25-percent clip annually over the same period, Joseph said. Recent improvements to the bike park are part of a “long-term growth strategy,” he said, to boost summer offerings and make the resort more of a four-season destination. “We’re continuing to build this part of the business year over year and not slowing down,” Joseph said.

From left, Matt Murawski and Zac Freeman pose for a photo with Freeman's dog, Roux. Murawski,  Freeman and Shane Niles (not pictured) are bringing three new events to central Vermont on Oct. 8.

Brew fest, races team up for big impact

RANDOLPH — Three new events, including the first Central Vermont Brew Fest, are coming to the Randolph region Oct. 8. Organizers hope that holding the brew fest and two new races on the same day will draw a big crowd to central Vermont and bring lots of customers to local businesses. Shane Niles, president and co-owner of One Main Tap & Grill, is leading the effort behind the brew fest; Zac Freeman is organizing the Braintree 5 Gravel Grinder, a 35-mile dirt-road bicycle race; and Matt Murawski is heading up the Vermont Foliage 15, a 15-kilometer running race with a shorter 5k option. The brew fest is from 2 to 8 p.m., the Gravel Grinder starts at 11:30 a.m. and the Foliage 15 kicks off at 1 p.m.
The brew fest, a 21-and-over event, offers free parking and has Vermont bands playing throughout the day.

Provided PhotoA customer shops on Google Express using their cell phone. The online shopping service made its Vermont debut last week.

Google Express lands in Vermont

Google Express, the Internet giant’s online shopping service, went live in the Green Mountain state Wednesday. The service started in 2013 in California as a same-day delivery service, and later expanded to New York, Washington, D.C., Boston and other urban areas along the East Coast. Brian Elliott, general manager of Google Express, said the service in Vermont provides “delivery within two days, preferably overnight.” He said the exact delivery time, within that range, will be affected by how far the customer lives from the store, but the service in Vermont is supposed to deliver within two days. Since launching the Express service, Google has emphasized its ability to work directly with retailers to help customers get the goods they need quickly, despite Amazon’s dominance of the online retail space. Google Express in Vermont involves 14 merchants, Elliott said.