Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff Photos

Biting satire: Trump doll gives pet toy company ‘yuge’ lift

WILLISTON — A Vermont pet-toy company with roots in Waterbury Center has been growing by leaps and bounds since starting up a year ago, thanks in large part to the previous experience of its owners, an emphasis on creativity and high-quality products — and to President Donald Trump. “When Trump decided to run, it was like a gift from the pet-toy gods,” said John Lika, co-founder of Fuzzu, which started in Waterbury Center before moving in February to its current location in a Williston industrial park. “We just had to start up again.”
Lika founded Fuzzu (pronounced fuz-zoo) with wife Anne Lika, both of whom live in Essex, and Waterbury Center designer Sarah-Lee Terrat. The three 60-somethings had worked together at the Likas’ previous pet-toy company, Fat Cat, which they grew for 13 years before selling the business in 2007. Lika said a long noncompete agreement kept them out of the industry for years after that, but the stars seemed to align as the presidential election started to percolate.

Vermont treasurer leads charge to improve financial literacy

In Vermont, the focus for literacy has taken on a new dimension. State Treasurer Beth Pearce and the state’s Financial Literacy Commission have called for additional strategies to improve the financial capabilities of residents. “The Financial Literacy Commission believes strongly that the State of Vermont can do more to advance the financial capability of our citizens by building on successful programs and more efficiently utilizing existing resources,” said Pearce, who serves as a co-chair of the commission, in a news release. The call to action includes House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, John Pelletier, director of the Champlain College Center for Financial Literacy, and other commission members. The group urged policymakers to take a look at the commission’s 2017 Financial Literacy Report and asked the General Assembly and Vermont leaders to take steps to secure the financial security of all of the state’s residents.

Courtesy photo
Officials at the Montshire Museum are looking at ways to use its 100-acre over the coming decades.

Museum looks to a future spent outdoors

NORWICH — The Montshire Museum of Science is developing a master plan to expand the museum’s outdoor experience for a 100-acre landscape that focuses on discovery. Plans began in 2016, with completion envisioned for 2020. “The master plan has been implemented to unify the vision of the outdoors — to maximize the opportunity of our shoulder seasons. For us, “discovery” pertains to learning science through an interactive process. When you come to visit us we make science accessible by helping people make connections to the world around us and how the world around us works,” said Marcos Stafne, executive director at the Montshire.


Think you’re enjoying your weekends? Guess again

“The Weekend Effect” by Katrina Onstad, 2017, HarperOne, $25.99, 304 pages
Zzzzzzzzzip. That was the sound of your last weekend as it passed by. But it probably doesn’t matter, anyhow: It was packed with work, to-do’s, obligations, kids sports and more work. Sometimes, you wonder why you even bother. You might as well just go to the office.

Medical video recording provision creates tricky dispute

Among Vermont workers’ compensation lawyers, one of the most hotly debated issues of the past year has involved the clash between an employer’s right to neuropsychological testing and the injured worker’s right to video record all employer examinations. Neuropsychological testing is an assessment of how someone’s brain is functioning, which includes an interview and the administration of a battery of tasks or questions by a neuropsychologist. One of the requirements of valid neuropsychological testing is that it cannot be conducted with the presence of a third-party observer. Doing so is considered not only allowing an unknown variable that can affect testing, but a violation of the neuropsychologist’s professional ethics. Even a video or audio recording of the actual testing compromises the test, they say.

Stefan Hard / Staff Photos
Butterfly Bakery owner and developer Claire Georges poses with some of her most popular products recently at Butterfly Bakery's new location at 46 Gallison Hill Road in Montpelier. The growing bakery recently moved from Hardwick.

Butterfly owner found a hot market in chili sauces

MONTPELIER — The 2017 pepper harvest can’t come soon enough for a growing Montpelier business. The new home of the Butterfly Bakery, a commercial bakery and hot sauce manufacturing facility, is quietly coming together on Gallison Hill Road after being located in Hardwick. The exhaust hood was installed on the roof on Thursday, the final equipment will be in position by the beginning of next week, and the first batch of hot sauce should be sending steam up from the kettles in short order. The bright, airy 3,000-square-foot space promises much-needed elbow room for the business that has grown exponentially since it was born in Claire Georges’ kitchen. Georges, 36, of Montpelier, wanted a way to combine her love of baking with filling a need she saw for all-natural vegan baked goods made with whole grains and free of refined sugar.

Anthony Edwards / Staff File Photo
Wet and rainy weather did not prevent runners from participating in the annual Covered Bridges Half Marathon in Woodstock in June 2016.

Competition ramps up for running event participants

The number of running events in Vermont and beyond has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. In May alone, there is a plethora of organized running opportunities for all stripes of runners. Those looking for a 5 kilometer race can even find one in Stowe with a beer festival at the end, while more hardcore types can tackle full marathons in Burlington and southern Vermont, or epic, multi-day endurance races in Goshen. Whether there are enough runners to support these events depends on who you ask. “There are plenty of folks to go around,” said Lisa McCurdy, director of communications for Gray Matter Marketing.

Sandwich generation: Preserving your future — and theirs

Life is complicated these days. And if you’re part of the sandwich generation, with a parent 65 or older and either raising a child under 18 or supporting an adult child, then calling life complicated may feel like a ridiculous understatement. But while being squeezed in the middle will never be easy, there are a few steps you can take to manage your financial and emotional risks. Your challenge
One or more of your parents may need financial and emotional support. One or more of your children may need financial and emotional support.

Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff Photo
Wendy Knight was recently appointed commissioner of the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing.

Wendy Knight: Tourism, business development closely tied

MONTPELIER — Vermont’s $2.6 billion tourism industry is one of the cornerstones of the state’s economy, and Vermont’s new tourism and marketing commissioner hopes to take that a step or two further. Coming from the private sector as head of her own marketing firm, one of Wendy Knight’s priorities will be to take a holistic approach when it comes to promoting the state. “Basically, many of the attributes that attract visitors to Vermont are the same qualities that attract workers and entrepreneurs,” said Knight, who officially began her job May 1. She ticked off a list of attributes that includes caring for the environment, outdoor recreation, world-class ski resorts, low crime and value-added food products. “So, the Agency (of Commerce and Community Development) is being very focused on marketing Vermont as a place not just to visit but a place to live, work and set up a business,” Knight said.

Betsy Franzoni

Betsy Franzoni opens real estate agency in Rutland

RUTLAND — Betsy Franzoni has recently opened the new Franzoni Real Estate Company, located at 9 Center St., in downtown Rutland. Franzoni has been a real estate professional in central Vermont for many years, and has successfully brought a realistic, caring and honest approach to her real estate clients over her career. Franzoni takes great pleasure in bringing buyers and sellers together to accomplish their goals in a friendly, professional manner. Please stop in and see her, call her at 802-345-2896 or find her at