Annie Bakst and Robert Hunt at their recently-opened Bohemian Bakery on Barre Street in Montpelier. Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff Photo

New bakery: Bohemia finds a home in town

Staff writer
MONTPELIER — The iconic Bohemian Bakery is back after a relocation and transformation, much to the delight of its devoted followers. The bakery reopened Feb. 8 on Barre Street in the Capital City after closing last fall because it had outgrown its former home. Owners Robert Hunt and Annie Bakst wanted to reorganize and find a new site. The bakery first opened in 2003 in a 1835 farmstead in East Calais and quickly became a destination for foodies.

Many of the lamps Ken Blaisdell creates at his White River Junction shop. Provided photo

Shedding light on 20 years of lamp making

Correspondent

When Ken Blaisdell opened his business, Lampscapes, 20 years ago in White River Junction, the neighborhood and the business climate looked very different from today. It’s an unlikely success story but a model for entrepreneurs who want to make a business of selling their own handmade goods. First rule of thumb? Work hard and keep it up — and make sure you start with a good idea. Blaisdell first put down stakes in February 1997 when White River Junction was just another Vermont town that could be on the verge of a comeback, but probably wasn’t.

Study: Retiree gain surpasses youth drain in Vermont

Correspondent
Since 1977, United Van Lines, a global transportation, warehousing and freight corporation been tracking migration patterns on a state-by-state basis. A study released from 2016 concluded that Vermont is experiencing more inbound moves than outbound, and that has been the case for nearly three years running. “For nearly 40 years, we’ve been tracking which states people are moving to and from, and we’ve recently started surveying our customers to understand why they are making these moves across state lines. For Vermont, a higher percentage are moving into the state rather than leaving,” said Melissa Sullivan, director of marketing and communications at United. United Van Lines is the nation’s largest household goods mover, the company’s data reflect national migration trends.

Cross to retire from One Credit Union

SPRINGFIELD — After 32 years, Jerry Cross, president and CEO of One Credit Union has announced his intention to retire at the end of February. Cross joined Bryant Credit Union in 1985 when it was a fledgling outfit with $1.8 million in assets, 1,400 members and only the most basic checking, savings and loan products. Over the years, he led the expansion to a full service suite of savings and lending solutions, including mortgages, business lending, along with the latest in e-channel technology, the company said in a statement. Managing in the wake of the 2008 national economic downturn, Cross recognized that small credit unions were collapsing under the weight of increased regulatory burdens, along with consumers’ unbridled demand for the latest electronic delivery channels. His insight led to the merger with both United Community Credit Union and Champlain Valley Credit Union, with One Credit Union as the surviving entity.

USDA Energy seeks grant applications

MONTPELIER — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting grant applications from rural businesses interested in increasing their bottom line through energy efficiency upgrades or the installation of renewable energy systems. USDA Rural Development is accepting applications until March 31 for funding through the Rural Energy for America Program. USDA Rural Development seeks to support economic development in rural areas through helping businesses invest in energy improvements. Rural businesses and agricultural producers are eligible to apply for either energy efficiency or renewable energy project funding through REAP. For projects that generate renewable energy such as a solar array, applicants may apply for a grant of up to $500,000. For projects that increase a business’s energy efficiency — such as a dairy installing an energy efficient milk chiller — applicants may apply for a grant of up to $250,000.

Vermont churches awarded grants for energy audits

Seven Vermont churches and faith communities received grants in 2016 to enable them to have professional energy audits of their facilities though Vermont Interfaith Power and Light and the Katy Gerke Memorial Program. The matching grant money was awarded to: Federated Church, of East Arlington; Knights of Columbus, Rutland; Norwich Congregational Church; United Church of Dorset and East Rupert; United Church of Northfield; Waitsfield United Church of Christ; and White River Junction United Methodist Church. These energy audits provide assessments of their opportunities for reducing their energy costs. The results of these audits can then be used to apply for matching grants from the KGMP to install the energy efficiency measures identified. Vermont Interfaith Power and Light (www.vtipl.org) is a Vermont nonprofit organization whose mission is to serve and support efforts by Vermont faith communities to address our climate crisis through sustainable energy use and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

GMP makes list of innovative companies

COLCHESTER — Fast Company named Green Mountain Power in its annual ranking of the world’s most innovative companies for 2017. Green Mountain Power was named to the list of Top 10 most innovative companies in energy. Green Mountain Power is focused on energy transformation, with more reliable, cost-effective and low-carbon energy by radically transforming the antiquated grid system to one that is more home-, business- and community-centered and leverages innovations like battery storage, according to a news release. “GMP’s recognition on this prestigious list is richly deserved, as Mary Powell and her team have consistently demonstrated that even a smaller utility can distinguish itself through fearless innovation and relentless focus on enhancing the customer experience,” said David Crane, former CEO of NRG Energy and NRG Yield. “Other utilities, which persist in the old utility model, fighting a rearguard action against progress in the power industry, will be left behind.

The Sunburst Six luxury lift at Okemo. Photo by Karen Lorentz

Ski to success: How little Vermont stays on top of the winter industry

By Karen D. Lorentz
Correspondent
Vermont ranks as the No. 1 ski state in the East, and most years third in the nation — behind Colorado and California but ahead of Utah — in annual skier visits. That successful track record, based on data compiled by the National Ski Areas Association’s annual Kottke Report, springs from a combination of terrain, diversity, history and innovation, industry executives agree. “Vermont has about the same number of ski areas as New Hampshire but does twice its annual visits; it does three times Maine’s visits,” said Parker Riehle, president of the Vermont Ski Areas Association. “New York has 51 ski areas, but only a few are major players.”
Noting the role that terrain plays, Riehle said, “Vermont has 10 mountains with a 2,000-or-greater-foot vertical drop, which is more than New York, New Hampshire, and Maine areas have combined.”
Chris Nyberg, a 40-year industry veteran (including five years managing Killington), who is now a strategic planning consultant, praised Vermont’s 7,291 acres of trails.

Commission celebrates 100th signer to equal pay pledge

Correspondent
MONTPELIER — The Vermont Commission on Women, an organization committed to pay equality, celebrated the 100th signer to the Vermont Equal Pay Compact last month. VCW and former Gov. Peter Shumlin launched the Equal Pay Compact in 2015 to address the gender pay gap that continues to plague the U.S. and several other countries around the world. “This project launched on Equal Pay Day 2015 to inform employers about practical steps they can take to eliminate the wage gap in their business and across Vermont,” said Cary Brown, executive director of the Vermont Commission on Women. The project, a voluntary online pledge, was set up to enable Vermont-based employers to get facts and indicate their commitment to closing and abolishing wage disparity based on gender. According to the National Women’s Law Center, “equal pay and the wage gap of American women who work full-time, year-round, are paid only 80 cents for every dollar paid to men — and for women of color, the wage gap is even larger.