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VPR’s Dillon takes reporter role

COLCHESTER — News director and longtime Vermont Public Radio news reporter John Dillon will take on a new role as senior reporter for the New England News Collaborative beginning in January, VPR announced today. The collaborative, which VPR joined in 2016, is the largest media collaboration of its kind in the region, with the goal of in-depth reporting on issues that have an impact beyond state borders. Dillon also will play a key role in planning the future of the collaborative, as well as working with NPR to develop its vision for regional news hubs. “John has been at VPR from the time the station began to build its news department,” said John Van Hoesen, senior vice president and chief content officer at VPR. “With this change, VPR’s reporting team will be well positioned to provide the in-depth news Vermonters want and need.”

 

Treasurer’s Office searching for owners of unclaimed assets

Call it Vermont’s version of lost and found. The state treasurer is trying to find the owners of $80 million in unclaimed assets. Over the years, the amount of unclaimed assets turned over to the state on an annual basis has grown from $3.5 million in 2002 to $10.4 million last year, raising the total to $80 million. Treasurer Beth Pearce said the state has done a good job of making companies that hold those assets aware of the unclaimed property law. In turn, that’s allowed the state “to get more money out the door” to the rightful owners, she said.

Liz Walsh, a longtime employee and the newest owner of the Drawing Board in Montpelier with her dog, Althea. Walsh credits the Vermont Community Loan Fund for making the purchase of the art supply and framing shop possible.
PHOTO BY PETER COBB

Loan fund helps Drawing Board pass to its new owner

MONTPELIER — In August, the Drawing Board art supply and frame shop in downtown Montpelier passed the baton to the third “generation” of owners when longtime employee Liz Walsh took over as solo owner. “I am excited to be the new steward of the Drawing Board. Art supply and frame shops hold a certain kind of magic, possibility in every tube. And we love to see the artwork that comes through the doors. We see everything from wedding certificates to band posters, to fine oil paintings,” she said.

Reade Brower, who owns 18 weeklies and four of the seven daily newspapers in Maine, in Rockland, Maine, Oct. 25, 2017.
GRETA RYBUS / NEW YORK TIMES PHOTO

The unassuming media mogul of Maine (and Vermont)

The New York Times
ROCKLAND, Maine — Reade Brower cuts an unassuming figure for a media mogul. On a drizzly October day here, he could be found tucking into a grilled cheese sandwich with bacon at the Home Kitchen Café, clad in a Hawaiian shirt, shorts and a Red Sox cap. The owner of the Rutland Herald and Times Argus was wearing shoes, which he often foregoes, like he had when he ran a recent marathon. Appearances aside, however, Brower’s footprint on this state’s newspaper industry is enormous. He owns 18 weeklies and four of the seven daily newspapers in Maine, and his presses print the other three.

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LoPresti joins Gifford Primary Care

RANDOLPH — Dr. Leigh LoPresti has joined Gifford Family Medicine as part of a team expansion aimed at increasing patient access. He brings 30 years’ experience as a family physician in hospital and private practice settings, most recently as a U.S. Army physician at Fort Drum, N.Y., and chief medical officer at Battenkill Valley Health Center in Arlington. “I love working with people of all ages, especially in family groups, to make them healthier and happier,” he said. “This includes educating and partnering with patients, and giving each person the time they need to achieve these goals.”

LoPresti is now seeing patients five days a week at Gifford Primary Care. Call 728-2445.

Chiocchio wins volunteerism award

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Stacey Chiocchio, a Grantham resident and community citizenship manager at Hypertherm, will be honored this week by the regional nonprofit Vital Communities as its 2017 volunteer of the year. “Stacey has been contributing to Vital Communities for more than six years. A 2012 graduate of our Leadership Upper Valley program, Stacey became one of the program’s most enthusiastic Recruitment Committee members, then went on to chair this committee, and eventually to lead the LUV Board of Governors. Her commitment to LUV is responsible for a fair share of the program’s growth, and her guidance has been invaluable,” said Vital Communities Volunteer Coordinator Lauren Griswold. This year marks Vital Communities’ sixth annual volunteer of the year award.

Blossoms of saffron, which is being studied at the University of Vermont and may one day be a lucrative cash crop for Vermont.
PHOTOS BY IAN THOMAS JANSEN -LONNQUIST

Mellow yellow: Can saffron make it as a Vermont cash crop?

After years of climbing the corporate ladder, Steve Leach finally decided to give up the shirt and tie and find his bliss growing saffron. It started in February, when Leach tuned into a broadcast on saffron cultivation through the University of Vermont in Burlington. “I’ve been working in the corporate world all of my professional career, but have always had an interest in starting my own business,” said Leach, a new farm owner at Red Thread Farmstead in Swanton. “When you get to start a business from scratch at the age of 40, you have a different perspective on what that business should entail,” he said. Leach said he wanted the ability to work from home with flexible hours, and to include his family in aspects of the business.

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Wiegand to manage VNH volunteers  

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Cindy Wiegand has been named hospice volunteer coordinator for Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire. Wiegand has more than 15 years of experience providing administrative support to top management and senior leadership. Prior to joining VNH, Wiegand worked as a senior program coordinator at Vermont Law School in South Royalton. “I am very excited for this new career opportunity, and look forward to working with all of VNH’s wonderful volunteers,” said Wiegand. She will be responsible for recruitment, coordination, supervision and program administration of the hospice volunteer program.

SunCommon is installing a 166.5 kilowatt solar array on the roof of Green Mountain Power's Middlebury facility. Through a partnership, the two companies are helping low-income Vermonters invest in solar energy.
COURTESY PHOTO

Partnership opens solar market to low-income Vermonters

Green Mountain Power and SunCommon are teaming up for what’s believed to be a first-of-its-kind community solar program for low-income customers. Low-income GMP customers in Middlebury will be able to sign on to a special program to take advantage of solar energy without any investment. SunCommon is in the process of installing a 166.5 kilowatt solar array on the roof of GMP’s Middlebury service center. Households can sign up for membership in the community solar project if their household income falls within 150 percent of the federal poverty level, or $36,900 for a family of four. Members receive 7 percent off the price of power generated by the array or the equivalent of receiving $100 in solar credits for $93.

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Dobson to lead physicians’ group

MONTPELIER — Dr. Trey Dobson was named president of the Vermont Medical Society during its 204th annual meeting in November in Woodstock. Dobson is medical director of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Physicians and chief medical officer of Southwestern Vermont Health Care in Bennington. He is a practicing emergency room physician. He will take a lead role in the society’s public policy efforts in Montpelier and Washington, D.C. Priorities during the upcoming year include battling the opioid crisis, supporting the practice of primary care, and opposing the legalization of non-medical marijuana. “As a state and a country we find ourselves in an incredible period of transition and opportunity when it comes to health care and how it is delivered,” said Dobson.