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Wood & Wood marks 45th anniversary

WAITSFIELD — Ask Sparky Potter about his 45-year business philosophy, and he directs you to the “mission statement sign” that hangs in the lobby of his Waitsfield studio and shop.

“Designing is like dreaming,” the sign says. “When you are awake, designing is the most delightful thing that the human minds can do together. From the first spark of a concept to the evolution of something unique, the process is the reward. Enjoy.”

On Nov. 19, 2016, The Sparky Potter Design Group and Wood & Wood Sign Systems kicked off its 45th anniversary. Potter began the operation as a one-man, home-occupied business in the winter of 1971-1972. Since then, Wood & Wood has moved to “The Mad River Barn” at 98 Carroll Rd.

Wood & Wood is a nationally recognized design studio and custom sign manufacturing company with more than 50 national sign awards. Wood & Wood’s national client base includes: Vail Resorts, the 1980 Winter Olympics (in Lake Placid, New York), Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Bruegger’s Bagels, Busch Gardens and Universal Studios Theme Parks.

One strong example of Potter’s legacy is the exterior of the American Flatbread Burlington Hearth storefront, with a handcrafted wood- and copper-roofed canopy sign, wood blade sign and hand-carved front door.

Businesses key to Middlebury food hub’s success

MIDDLEBURY — A food hub run by a group of local students has received steady support from Vermont businesses since its founding in 2013.
Middlebury Foods, a nonprofit organization run by Middlebury College students, delivers produce, meat, eggs, cheese and other staples once a month to six sites across Addison County.

From left, Debbie Lang of the Barns at Lang Farm shows off healing jewelry from Marsya Ancker of Marsya Mind Body Spirit.

Businesses flock to chamber’s annual holiday party

BURLINGTON — As it has for decades, KeyBank played host to the annual Holiday Party in downtown Burlington in December. The event served as a networking event of Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce (LCRCC), with Farrell Distributing, Lake Champlain Chocolates, and Cheese & Wine Traders joining as sponsors. Several local businesses celebrated both the season and strong economic years, and that included the hosts. Don Baker, Vermont market president at KeyBank, said, “We’re coming off maybe our strongest year ever. The economy is gradually getting better, and there’s lots of optimism, post-election, for growth.

VCRD unveils ‘Model Communities’ program

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Council on Rural Development is set to begin a program seeking to harness climate change as an economic opportunity for local communities. The group’s Climate Economy Model Communities Program kicks off in early 2017, with an RFP process scheduled to start in February. VCRD Executive Director Paul Costello said the organization, with support from Vermont partners, will select “two towns to provide concentrated services to in the next year.”

Through these services, the goal is to work with the local community to advance economic opportunities while reducing the community’s carbon footprint. For some, Costello said, this offers a different way to think about climate impact. “You can think of the climate change issue as apocalyptic, or you can think of it as a problem that we need to rally to for solutions, essentially an economic problem, which will challenge the creativity of leaders in the business community to come up with answers,” Costello said.

Matt Dion, the plant manager of Adams North Barre, shows Efficiency Vermont’s Liz Gamache and Josh Kelman around the granite shed.

Rock-solid partnership forms with granite manufacturer

It seems simple, but it bears repeating: Keeping costs down helps Vermont businesses succeed, and energy is one of those costs. We can help business owners reduce that cost with energy efficiency solutions, and strengthen storied Vermont industries like granite manufacturing in Barre. The granite industry in Barre reaches as far back as the early 1800s, and it expanded in 1875, when the central railroad reached Vermont. As the granite industry grew, so did the city of Barre. Yet the granite industry is not thriving as it once was.

Hilary McCoy poses for a photo at Blush Salon & Beauty Lounge in Rutland.

Hair stylist brings career home

RUTLAND – Hilary McCoy brings lots of skill to her job as a hair stylist, but for her it’s more about the people. “It’s all about consultation,” she said, and that’s been key for the Rutland native who just moved back home. Over the years, McCoy said, “I listened, I knew my clients and I knew what they were looking for.”

After 16 years of building her career as a hair stylist in the Boston area, McCoy recently brought her talents back to her hometown of Rutland and is part of the team at Blush Salon & Beauty Lounge on Center Street. It’s a people business, and that’s what she loves most about her work. “I love interacting with different people every day,” McCoy said.

Sue Brisson teaches her granddaugher Makenna Dooley on Mitey Mite learning area at Bolton Valley.

Bolton Valley hits 50-year milestone

Most ski areas begin to wind down at 3:30 p.m. Not Bolton Valley Resort — it literally lights up and livens up. That’s because the area, which is open daily, offers extensive night skiing Tuesdays through Saturdays from 4 to 10 p.m. With Bolton’s location near Burlington and Montpelier, night skiing attracts all ages: adults for league racing, kids for the after-school program, college students after classes, and others for recreation with family or friends. With its iconic Alpine Village and amenities, Bolton also entices families from out of state with convenient and affordable slopeside lodging. Sue Brisson, who first skied at Bolton Valley 45 years ago, has seen many changes, but she’s most impressed “by what hasn’t changed. It’s kept its old-Vermont flavor and friendliness.

Jeff Flanders of Greg’s Auto in Rutland changes out a pair of spark plugs in the shop Tuesday afternoon.

State is tightening vehicle inspection process

Vermonters who may have “shopped around” for a mechanic to get their vehicle to pass inspection are running out of time and luck.

The state is about to introduce a computerized vehicle inspection system, creating a database that’s designed to ensure more accurate and uniform vehicle inspections.

Called the automated vehicle inspection program, or AVIP, the new system is being rolled out in the spring to the state’s roughly 1,500 inspection stations.

Each inspection station will buy a specially designed wireless tablet that plugs into a vehicle’s onboard computer system to track emissions-related data. It also allows mechanics to enter safety inspection data and take a photo of the vehicle.

The results are then wirelessly sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

“The new device will help in the electronic collection of data so we know why the majority of cars fail an inspection, something we don’t know now,” said Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Robert Ide.

Emcee and auctioneer Tim Kavanagh embraces CPSF board member Elizabeth Warren at this year's Culinary Classic.

Culinary Classic highlights a connected, caring community

BURLINGTON — Nearly 400 people filled the event space in the Dudley H. Davis Center at the University of Vermont for the Second annual Culinary Classic to benefit the Cancer Patient Support Foundation, or CPSF. The mid-November event brought together six of the area’s top chefs to compete for the Culinary Cup and People’s Choice Awards, and also featured both silent and live auctions and a dramatic “Mission Moment” on-site donation drive that followed a moving video presentation on the impact of CPSF in people’s lives. Christian Kruse, executive chef of the Basin Harbor Club in Ferrisburgh, took home the Culinary Cup in the judged competition, and Narin Phanthakhot, executive chef at Butch + Babe’s in Burlington earned the People’s Choice award, but the real winners were those who benefit from CPSF supports. This year’s Classic raised more than $112,000 to help CPSF provide emergency assistance to cancer patients, and their families, who are experiencing financial hardship due to their illness and treatment. Elizabeth Warren, who, along with husband Todd Warren, owns Vermont Custom Closets and Otter Creek Awnings in Williston, is a member of the CPSF board and served as the committee chair for this year’s Culinary Classic.

From left, the Vermont Lake Monsters were represented by Adam Matth, Joe Doud and Meg Patrick at the Burlington Business Association’s recent event.

BBA Winter Social helps UVM Alumni House shine

BURLINGTON — Burlington Business Association (BBA) held its Winter Social on Dec. 1 at the new Alumni House at the University of Vermont (UVM). Farmhouse Provisions catered the event, and music from pianist Paul Webb added an additional touch of elegance. Kelly Devine, executive director at BBA, said, “Some of our events are educationally based, but every once in awhile we like to have a little fun, too. Tonight is really about getting folks together and celebrating the season.