Visitors tour the wastewater treatment facility in Waterbury.

Treatment plants are robust sites for energy efficiency upgrades

Vermont’s communities are trying hard to use less energy for their buildings, facilities and services — reducing both municipal energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions. When thinking about how we use energy we tend to focus on the most obvious consumers of electricity and fuel. Lights, furnaces, water heaters and appliances are the first that come to mind. It’s easy to forget about the many processes taking place behind the scenes. One such process that may fly under the radar is wastewater treatment.

Erica Fucello, general manager at Positive Pie in Barre, holds a limited release Fancy Grade beer from Magic Hat.

Magic Hat brewery thinks small with Vermont-only batches

Magic Hat Brewing Company in South Burlington has a new take on local cuisine, partnering with 20 of Vermont’s top beer bars to let locals sample some of its most innovative brews with a line called, “Locals-Only.”
“We are proud to be a part of the Magic Hat scene. When we first heard of the line, we were excited to jump in and support them. We are currently serving their fourth beer, the Fancy Grade, maple doppelbock,” said Brandon Fox, owner and general manager of Big Fatty’s BBQ and the Crowler Pit in White River Junction. “We carry Magic Hat in our Crowler Pit as well with their Locals-Only line next door in Big Fatty’s.”
A “crowler” is a large, aluminum can that can be filled directly from a beer tap and sealed to last a while. The program began in January and is slated to run through 2018.

Locksmith Kat Coleman, owner of #1 Lock Security, picks a car door lock to generate a new key for the owner.

Coleman brings secrets of locksmithing home to Barre

BARRE — A locksmith is typically pictured as a person who makes or repairs locks and keys. But after talking to Barre locksmith extraordinaire Kat Coleman for any length of time, you quickly realize there’s a whole lot more to what is quite possibly one of the most secretive trades around. “A lot of people don’t really understand what locksmithing is,” said Coleman, who at 30 has already been working in the field for a dozen years and sounds like a seasoned expert. “It’s not what locksmithing used to be back in the day. But it’s definitely still the same concept, which is cool.”
Coleman, a Barre native who grew up in Websterville, learned the trade in various locations around the country from a variety of experts after leaving central Vermont following high school.

Margie Barton, a financial counselor at the IU Health Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, helps to explain how health benefits works once patients arrive at the hospital. Shrinking insurance coverage and soaring treatment costs can swamp patients with piles of unexpected bills. AP PHOTO / DARRON CUMMINGS

Talking money with the hospital trying to treat you

The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS — The financial counselor will see you now. Many people hit with a terrifying medical diagnosis like cancer also have to deal with another worry: whether the care will bankrupt them. Insurance that covers less and soaring treatment costs can swamp patients with piles of unexpected bills. To help ease money worries, hospitals and other care providers are increasingly using counselors to guide patients and, in some cases, arrange for financial help. Financial counselors can tell patients about help they didn’t know existed or coax them into accepting assistance they might be reluctant to request on their own.

Cook  Jocelyn McElroy removes a pizza from the outdoor wood-fired oven at Woodbelly Pizza off Barre Street in Montpelier.

Montpelier pizza cooperative readies to move beyond mobile

MONTPELIER — Sometime between 8 and 9 a.m. on Thursday mornings this summer, things will start heating up on Barre Street. A mobile wood-fired pizza oven that sits in a parking lot across the road and down the hill from Bohemian Bakery on Barre Street will begin sending up savory smoke signals a few hours later, indicating lunch is on the way. A white pizza with wood nettles, farmer cheese and garlic might be on the menu, or a sautéed mushroom and caramelized onion creation, or a sausage, bacon and onion offering. Those familiar with Woodbelly Pizza from the Saturday Montpelier and Sunday Stowe farmer’s markets will now be able to indulge their cravings for pizza made with freshly milled flour from Elmore Mountain Bakery all day on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the lot adjacent to a new commissary kitchen. Gluten-free options include Farinata, a creation from the town of Liguria on the northwest coast of Italy, made with chickpea flour, water, salt and olive oil, that resembles a thick crepe topped with black pepper and herbs.

Survey: Workforce issues blamed for tepid business climate

Vermont’s business leaders are less bullish on the economy than earlier in the year, according to the latest survey by the Vermont Business Roundtable and Economic Policy Resources. The quarterly survey gauges the pulse of the state’s business community across a range of industry sectors. In the second-quarter survey on business conditions, 55 percent of the state’s CEOs expressed a neutral assessment of the state’s business climate. Only 24 percent of respondents were optimistic (compared with 46 percent in the first quarter), 21 percent had a negative view of economic conditions. The information sector was the most positive about the business climate with 67 percent expressing an optimistic outlook.

Locally owned data network grows broader

ROYALTON — ECFiber, a municipally owned central Vermont internet provider, is bringing service to six new communities this year. The company, also known as the East Central Vermont Telecommunications District, continues widespread, steady growth, providing rural communities across Vermont with high-speed fiber-optic internet. Eventually, that means a territory of 24 towns. Further implementation is expected for 2018, and ECFiber has secured additional funding of up to $14.5 million to move forward. “We plan to build the under-served areas first, which represent about 225 of the 1,683 miles that is considered to be off-road.

Vyto Starinskas / Staff File Photo

Will resort sales shake up Vermont’s ski industry?

In a history-making year, three Vermont ski resorts are changing hands, with new owners ranging from the nation’s largest conglomerates to a local family. Global giant Vail Resorts is acquiring Stowe Mountain Resort’s ski operations for $50 million from the Mt. Mansfield Company. Aspen Skiing Company (owner/operator of four Colorado areas) and KSL Partners (a private equity firm that owns Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows) will purchase Stratton Mountain Resort in Londonderry, per a merger agreement with Intrawest Holdings, Inc. The acquisition is part of a $1.5 billion purchase of Intrawest’s six ski resorts and heli-operation. By comparison, the April 14 purchase of Bolton Valley by the DesLauriers family and some local investors marks the continuation of independently owned Vermont resorts.


‘Rich20Something’ inspiring, but worthy of caution

“Rich20Something: Ditch Your Average Job, Start an Epic Business, and Score the Life You Want” by Daniel DiPiazza, 2017, TarcherPerigee, $24, 281 pages. Your paycheck was a lot smaller than you thought it would be. How irritating: After taxes and other deductions, you’re making a pittance for your work. How unfair. This isn’t the way it was when your parents started out!

Young central Vermont professionals get connected

BARRE — The Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce recently hosted the inaugural meeting of the Central Vermont Young Professionals Group — a coalition of people under the age of 40 who want to share their entrepreneurial energy and ideas
The group started as a Facebook entity under the auspices of Mark Browning and Reuben Stone from Stone and Browning, a property management company in Barre. Browning and Stone were aware of robust young professionals groups in Rutland and Burlington, but no similar organization existed for central Vermont. Rutland Young Professionals, for instance, was founded in 2013, charges a minimal yearly fee of $25 to belong and is a private 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with an active membership and a brick-and-mortar address on Cottage Street. With old fashioned commitment and hard work, the Central Vermont Young Professionals Group looks forward to a similar vibrant future. Earlier this year they formed a steering committee to gauge interest in a potential network geared to smaller businesses, microbusinesses and new startups.