Mental health compensation bill removes objective standards

The Vermont Legislature appears poised to pass legislation this session that will broaden workers’ compensation coverage of mental injury claims.
The bill, H.197, contains language that would create a presumption that a professionally diagnosed mental health condition arose out of the course of employment for a class of employees including police officers, rescue or ambulance workers, and firefighters. The bill also proposes to expand the ability of the rest of the Vermont workforce to file stress-related claims.
Providing stronger protections in the Workers’ Compensation Act for fire, police and rescue workers is based in sound logic. These people perform some of the most difficult, vital jobs in our society, and on occasion witness horrific scenes that affect them deeply. From an employer/insurer perspective, it is the other provision, generally broadening compensable mental injuries for all Vermont workers, that is troubling. It raises questions about where the line will be drawn.

Community Capital of Vt. starts new program

Community Capital of Vermont, or CCVT, has established a business advisory services program to support its borrowers. The program was funded in 2015 by a $120,000 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration, or SBA. CCVT, a nonprofit organization located in Barre, has a mission “to help small businesses and lower-income entrepreneurs prosper through the provision of flexible business financing.”
Executive Director Martin Hahn said the new program grew out of CCVT’s existing support for its borrowers. It provides free, targeted, short- or long-term assistance to borrowers and also pays for services such as marketing assistance, legal advice or Quickbooks training. CCVT’s grant grew from $50,000 three years ago to $120,000 in 2015; Hahn said the grant amount is based on the amount of capital they loaned the previous year.

New dental practice opens in Manchester

Equinox Dental, the new practice of Dr. Xandra Velenchik, opened its doors this past November in the heart of Manchester. Velenchik is currently accepting new patients of all ages, and is keen on creating a practice that serves the whole family. The space, which was previously occupied by colleague Dr. Andrew Schmid, has undergone renovations and offers patients a tranquil place to have their dental needs met. Gray paint coats the walls and white wainscoting lends a homey New England touch to the rooms, where state-of-the-art equipment has been installed. Creating a calming environment was important to Velenchik, who wants to change the notion that going to the dentist has to be an unpleasant nuisance.

Dave Corliss

How to give your office or commercial equipment a rest

Machinery, lighting, HVAC — if you’re not using something, then logic says: shut it down. So why do so many of us continually forget? Here are two ways to turn that around, so your business can start saving right away:

Post-shutdown reminders

Get yourself and other employees to take these simple actions: turn off the lights when you leave a room, and shut down equipment when you leave for the night. Communicate the importance of shutting things off, and post reminders near lights and equipment. Or take it further and post a schedule, so people know exactly when to turn things on or off—especially useful if your equipment needs a warm-up period.

Yeloha outfits the roofs of interested homeowners with solar panels. Additional energy produced can be made available to other users in the system.

Partnership focuses on shared solar

Affordability and availability have dogged the solar energy industry, keeping it out of reach for many who want to participate. As a long-term energy investment, solar can produce a high return while reducing — or eliminating — fossil fuel consumption. It appeals to solar advocates as well as those who simply want a lower fuel bill, but barriers to widespread solar adoption have included the initial cost of setting up a solar energy system, which can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. If you don’t own your roof or if it won’t produce an optimal amount of solar energy, there hasn’t been an easy way to purchase solar electricity for your home. That may be about to change in Vermont.

Christopher Thayer and Marji Graf

Limo service launched

In April 2015, Christopher Thayer and Brent Peterson founded Vermont Limousine and Shuttle Service, LLC. Based in Rutland, Vermont Limousine and Shuttle Service offers service to Rutland, Ludlow, Killington, Woodstock and the Manchester area — but is not limited to these areas. “I often go beyond my listed territory,” Thayer said. “It doesn’t matter where a client is located really. If I’m available, I’m their guy, even at 2 a.m., because that’s what we do.”
The business owns three 15-passenger vans, two black town cars and one 10-passenger stretch limousine.

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Jeff Couture, executive director of the Vermont Technology Alliance, stands at the vtTA’s booth at an event.

Alliance focusing on tech jobs

On Nov. 10, Jeff Couture, executive director of the Vermont Technology Alliance (vtTA), was prepping for a two-day jaunt through southern Vermont.

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Wild Apple Graphics employees are shown during a company rafting trip last summer.

Wild Apple Graphics passes 25-year mark

The lure and excitement of becoming entrepreneurs compelled an local couple to follow a new path 25 years ago.
Leaving the corporate world behind, John and Laurie Chester moved from Boston in 1989 and bought an old farmhouse near Woodstock.
“We kept having the idea of an entrepreneurial business,” recalled John Chester. “One idea was the art world.”

Jewell Transport announces new location

Local trucking company Jewell Transport is moving to a new location early this year. Their new building is on River Road in Claremont, New Hampshire, not far from their old location. The new construction is designed to meet their particular needs. Max Jewell started the company in 1977 with three trucks, and now there are over 35. He and his son Chris are the management team and co-owners.

Farmstead Cheese builds on success

A fifth-generation dairy farmer and visionary was recruited to Vermont in 2004. He seized the day some years ago when the agricultural holding that hired him moved its buffalo mozzarella operations from South Woodstock to Quebec. “The opportunity to purchase this farm (with a modern dairy) came along. I and a group of like-minded neighbors wanted to see a local food system continue,” recalled Kent Underwood, president and chief operating officer of Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company. The 18.5-acre farm was purchased.