George Lambert, in chair, and his wife Debbis Lambert with their dog Rufus inside their apartment at The Carriage House off Watkins Avenue in Rutland. The house is part of a housing complex run by the Housing Trust of Rutland County.

Report: Vermont housing too costly, difficult to find

Affordable housing is becoming something of an oxymoron in Vermont. Many low-income renters, according to a recent report, are finding that even a modest two-bedroom apartment is neither affordable nor in decent supply in many parts of the state. “The costs are driven by the economy, and we are not necessarily responsive to the affordability level,” said Elisabeth Kulas, executive director of the Housing Trust of Rutland County, a nonprofit corporation that provides affordable housing to residents of the county. Kulas said housing affordability in Rutland County and across Vermont is a “multifaceted” problem based on a ratio of income versus rent. She said many low-wage earners lack the necessary skills to work at a higher-paying job, or that their skills don’t match up with the jobs that are available locally.

Project aligns education with Vermont employers’ needs

It’s a problem being repeated by employers around the state with increasing regularity: a shortage of qualified workers. That problem has grown more acute as the state — with an unemployment rate of 3.1 percent — is at or near what’s considered full employment. It’s a serious issue, and one the Vermont Business Roundtable has taken on. Made up of CEOs from around the state, the organization has created the Vermont Talent Pipeline Management Project to tackle the problem from the employer’s perspective. The idea is to expand the role of the employer as the “end customer” of the education and training pipeline, said Lisa Ventriss, president of the Vermont Business Roundtable.

Kim Roy

Roy moves into VHFA multifamily directorship

BURLINGTON — Kim Roy has been named director of multifamily asset management and compliance at the Vermont Housing and Finance Agency. She began her career at the agency in 1989 in the communications department and has held a variety of positions with VHFA, most recently as assistant director of multifamily programs. She will take over the department leadership from recently retired Sam Falzone. “Kim has been a long-term, dedicated employee of VHFA for 28 years and we are so pleased she is taking on this new role,” said Sarah Carpenter, VHFA’s executive director. She is a certified occupancy specialist and is also housing tax credit certified. Roy will be responsible for the oversight of VHFA’s multifamily portfolio and for initiatives to preserve affordable housing.

Donny Chan throws darts at his apartment, one of a growing number of tiny, upscale units known as “microflats” in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s mini apartments boom as property prices soar

The Associated Press
HONG KONG — With its marble-clad lobby, sweeping balcony views and sleek, modern decor, Donny Chan’s apartment building would seem the kind of upscale tower most young Hong Kong professionals aspire to live in. But not for Chan, 39, who avoids spending time in his 19th-floor apartment because it measures just 193 square feet (about 14 feet by 14 feet). His parking space-sized studio in the grandly named High One building is part of a growing trend for so-called micro apartments that are diminutive even by the standards of space-starved and densely built Hong Kong. “Every time that I step back into this (apartment) I kind of feel like a cat squeezed into a box,” said Chan, an art director at a medical equipment maker. To avoid returning to his cramped and claustrophobic apartment before bedtime he plays basketball or badminton, goes to the movies or karaoke bars, and gets together with friends and family.

Is nonmonetary compensation the same as wages?

For most injured employees, the calculation of the workers’ compensation wage replacement benefits is straightforward: They will receive two-thirds of the average of their earnings over the 26 weeks prior to injury. If you are an employer who provides some form of nonmonetary compensation as part of a remuneration package, however, the calculation can become much more complicated. Vehicles, ski passes, cellphone service, cows, and food and lodging, to name a few, can all factor into the calculation of what your carrier pays out in weekly wage replacement benefits. Most recently, the commissioner of the Department of Labor ruled in Haller v. Champlain College that tuition-free college credits Champlain College offers to all full-time employees should also be included in the calculation as a form of nonmonetary compensation. Champlain appealed that decision to the Vermont Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in February.


Trooper to lead state police’s Professional Standards


WATERBURY — Det. Sgt. Dave Petersen, a member of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation Unit assigned to the St. Johnsbury Field Station and VSP Bomb Squad, has been promoted to lieutenant, and will serve as commander of the Office of Professional Standards. Petersen is assuming command from Lieutenant Dee Barbic, who retired June 10, after 26 years of service.

Greg Nowlan

Nowlan to manage Gifford’s behavioral health program  

RANDOLPH — Licensed mental health and alcohol and drug counselor Jeff Nowlan will be managing the Behavioral Health program at Gifford Hospital, helping to further the integration of Gifford’s Behavioral Health and Addiction Medicine programs into the primary-care practices. He will also be counseling patients. Most recently, Nowlan was counseling program coordinator at Spectrum Youth and Family Services in Burlington, and brings experience in program management and in adolescent, family and adult counseling. “I believe that everyone has the inner resources to make changes in their lives,” he said. “Much of my work is learning about what motivates a person to change.”

A native of Randolph, Nowlan received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Vermont and then traveled to Oregon, where he worked in an adolescent inpatient center for five years.

Joanne Conroy

Massachusetts executive hired as D-H president  


LEBANON, N.H. — Dr. Joanne Mather Conroy has been selected as the second chief executive officer and president of Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health. The appointment was made by a unanimous vote of the board of trustees at a special meeting on June 14. Conroy, 61, is CEO of Lahey Hospital and Medical Center in Burlington, Massachusetts. She previously held leadership positions at the Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine Atlantic Health System, and the Association of American Medical Colleges. “In Dr. Conroy, the trustees believe we have found an exceptional person to lead the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health system,” said board chairperson Anne-Lee Verville.


Big motivation hides behind ‘Small Data’

“Small Data: The Tiny Clues that Uncover Huge Trends” by Martin Lindstrom, 2016, Picador, $16, 244 pages. It’s always the little things. A chocolate on the pillow or slippers beneath a turned-down bed. Stickers for a customer’s kids. A lagniappe in the box to make a baker’s dozen: all things to ensure a speedy return of buyer or client.

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.