From the Director, June 2021: ARPA – We’re here to help. (And a thought on developing housing…)

Chris Campany

As we all learn more about how the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding can be used by towns, we’re here to help make sense of it all along with our colleagues at the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, the region’s regional development corporation. We’ll be able to have one-on-one conversations with towns, and will be hosting workshops to address subjects that towns will likely have in common.

One subject we hear A LOT about from many towns is the desire to have more housing, and not just any housing. What we’re hearing is you want more housing that is affordable built in your community – housing for younger people (including your friends and children and grandchildren), for older people who want to downsize, for employees (“I can’t hire anyone because they can’t find a place to live.”), and for new residents. We’re hearing about the need for housing for all.

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WRC Is Hiring a Municipal and Regional Planner!

The Windham Regional Commission (WRC) seeks a highly skilled, self-motivated, full-time (37.5 hrs./wk.) Planner or Senior Planner (depending upon experience) with a municipal and regional planning background and desire to work in a rural context with a team of dedicated professionals, volunteer WRC Commissioners, and municipal officials.  This planner works under the direct supervision of the Executive Director in support of regional plan development and strategic implementation, town plan and bylaw development, and the leadership and administration of special projects in support thereof.  This is grassroots planning, requiring the ability and enthusiasm to work directly with the public, volunteer planning commissions and commissioners, and town staff. 

For the full advertisement, click here.

SAVE THE DATE For a NEW Housing Webinar Series

The Windham Regional Commission is co-sponsoring a new webinar series in conjunction with the Windham Windsor Housing Trust and the Mt. Ascutney Regional Commission. The webinar series is designed to help communities understand what they can do to promote much needed housing development in the region. Speakers will share strategies to attract new housing, as well as rehabilitate existing housing to meet the needs of today’s families.

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Getting Started with Electric Vehicles

Orange electric car charging 1992x1200px

Interested in electric vehicles, but curious what it’s like to own and drive one? Or have you thought about going electric in your community but are not sure where to start, and what rebates are available? Green Mountain Power (GMP) is making it simple and fun to learn about electric vehicles and charging at this upcoming EV webinar with GMP on Tuesday September 21st, at 7:00pm.

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GMP Proposes Use of Pole Socks Statewide

Green Mountain Power (GMP) attended the December 2020 WRC Project Review Committee (PRC) meeting to discuss the relocation of approximately 5700’ of power line along Weatherhead Hollow Road in Guilford which required an Act 250 permit (2W1365). The District 2 Environmental Commission (DEC2) had proposed to permit GMP to use alternate pole materials for several poles that were within wetland or wetland buffer. GMP was resistant to this proposed permit condition, wanting instead to continue to use chemical treated penta poles, and they called for a hearing. Because of this seeming impasse, the PRC suggested to GMP the consideration of the use of plastic ‘pole socks’ as a way to both use penta poles and prevent seepage to the surrounding environment. 

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Guidance Available on the American Rescue Plan Act and What Funds Can Be Used for In Your Community

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), a response to the impacts of the Coronavirus on the economy, is bringing a lot of important funding to our municipalities. Windham Regional is looking forward to working with you to help answer questions, provide resource information and assist with strategizing for long term economic investment. Questions on what and how municipalities can spend the ARPA money on are numerous and we all will all have to be patient as guidelines for the use of the money are released and then interpreted.

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With Regional Plan Assessment, WRC Prepares to Readopt its Current Regional Plan

The Windham Regional Commission (WRC) intends to readopt its current regional plan, originally adopted September 30, 2014, and subsequently amended on April 24, 2018 to include the Windham Regional Energy Plan.  Per 24 V.S.A. § 4348b, a regional plan that has expired or is about to expire may be readopted as provided under section 4348 for the adoption of a regional plan or amendment.  Prior to readoption, the regional planning commission shall prepare an assessment report which shall be submitted to the Agency of Commerce and Community Development and the municipalities within the region.  At its meeting on March 30, 2021, the Full Commission voted unanimously to send this regional plan assessment to the aforementioned statutory parties.

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Grants In Aid Program Brings Nearly Half a Million Dollars to Region’s Towns

Twenty-six towns in the Windham Region are each poised to receive anywhere from $5,000 to as much as $31,000 this year for construction projects to improve water quality and make their roads more resilient. The Grants in Aid program provides funds to towns to help them comply with the conditions of Vermont’s Municipal Roads General Permit. Construction projects can include ditching and stone lining or seeding, and small culvert upgrades.

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CISMA: Fighting the Spread of Invasives Through Education

Regional organizations and foresters have banded together to form the Southeastern Vermont Cooperative Invasive Species Management Alliance (CISMA), a group looking at forest invasives and how to manage them. As part of the steering committee, WRC staff have been involved in helping form the CISMA and launch its fall and winter webinars focusing on forest invasives.

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Wrapping up the Local Government Expense Reimbursement Grant

The Local Government Expense Reimbursement Grant (LGER) program, a Coronavirus Relief Fund offering administered by the Vermont Department of Taxes, was concluded in December 2020. There were 15 municipalities and an additional 4 local government organizations that applied for and received awards for Covid-19 related expenditures. The LGER reimbursements brought more than a million dollars back to our region's local governments. Windham Regional Commission was pleased to be able to provide assistance throughout the grant process.
For a look at how the LGER grant was utilized by two area towns, please see the write-up's on the Town of Dover and the Town of Whitingham.

Cleanup and Assessment Funds Approved for the Garage in Bellows Falls

brownfields bf garageThe WRC Executive Board approved an RLF cleanup grant for Windham Windsor Housing Trust in December 2020 for the Garage Project in Bellows Falls.  The approved cleanup funds are a small but important piece of the funding stack needed to redevelop this site, which was originally built as a garage and also housed a dry cleaners and a dyers.  The site will be redeveloped into apartments affordable to residents of various income levels.  While the site fronts on Rockingham Street in downtown Bellows Falls, it also has incredible views to the east of the Connecticut River and beyond.  Below is an architectural drawing of the revitalized site that will include a commercial space on the Rockingham Street level.

In the Field with Lisa Donnelly, WRC’s GIS/Transportation Tech

lisa field computerWorking remotely is easy when your office is outdoors! Most of my 2020 field season was spent collecting road erosion inventory data, conducting traffic counts, inspecting Grants In Aid sites, and setting up pedestrian counters in on hiking trails. Because some of this work required several days of long commutes from Brattleboro, I had the unique opportunity to combine my love of the outdoors with my work by setting up camp at some of Vermont's State Parks. For example, camping at Jamaica State Park while working on the road erosion inventory in Winhall shortened my commute from 45 minutes to 10. As a bonus, I got to end my day relaxing by a campfire!

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Addressing COVID-19 Restrictions with Interim Bylaws: WRC Can Help

The WRC is available to assist towns interested in addressing issues in their zoning that may hinder re-opening of businesses under COVID-10 restrictions. If there are solutions not currently permissible, such as facilitating outdoor dining areas, you may be able to address them through short-term or temporary amendments to the zoning bylaws.

Collaborating with numerous partners, the WRC helped to develop a brief guidance document on how towns may address COVID-19 pandemic restrictions through the use of Interim Bylaws. You can access that guidance document here.

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COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Team Forms

The WRC has been involved with the formation of a multi-sector team focused on the response and recovery needs of residents in the Windham Region. This team, called the Windham Region COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Committee (CCRRC), is led by Sue Graff with the local Vermont Agency of Human Services district, and meets regularly to share updates, identify gaps and needs, and allocate resources appropriately. It functions as an ad hoc committee of the Southern Windham Community Organizations Active in Disaster (SWCOAD). 

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From the Chair & Director: WRC Operations During COVID-19 Social Distancing

The Windham Regional Commission stands ready to assist the towns of the Windham Region with their needs during this time of global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the immediate term we have provided the town contacts that we have to the local Department of Health districts so they have a direct line of communication with you, and we have sent towns information about continuity of operations planning. The following is an update.

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Take a Hike, Off the Trails

During Southeastern Vermont’s school spring break, each day WRC is offering some suggestions for hitting the trails safely this week during the COVID-19 pandemic. For Friday, we’re actually suggesting taking a walk someplace other than a trail where social distancing might be easier.

How about an in-town walk?  Villages like Bellows Falls and Brattleboro have large street networks with sidewalks, and in low traffic areas you may be able to safely step into the street to keep your distance from others. (In fact, many larger cities have been converting a travel lane or an entire street to pedestrian use because there are more people on the sidewalk and fewer cars on the streets.) 

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Skip the Views and Skip the Crowds: Seek Out the Lesser Known Paths

During Southeastern Vermont’s school spring break, each day WRC is offering some suggestions for hitting the trails safely this week during the COVID-19 pandemic. For Wednesday, we suggest that you skip those popular trails that lead to viewpoints, and instead seek out those lesser known woodland paths.  And this is a great time of year to do just that.  With the leaves off the trees, you can see much more in the woods and still get some limited views here and there.  You can also enjoy the spring wildflower display and watch our forests transition from winter into spring.  Here are some sugggestions on where you can do this.

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Avoid the Crowds on the Trails: Go Early, Go Late

During Southeastern Vermont’s school spring break, each day WRC is offering some suggestions for hitting the trails safely this week during the COVID-19 pandemic. For Tuesday, we suggest that you GO EARLY, GO LATE. You’re likely to encounter far fewer people early in the morning or late in the day, helping you to practice good social distancing. Early risers will experience bird songs filling the air, while late-day enthusiasts will enjoy beautiful evening light. (But unless you’re familiar with the trail and have a good handle on when it get’s dark, it’s best to leave late day walks to those in the know.)

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Regional Broadband Project Begins; Kick-off Meeting Presentation Available

The Windham Regional Commission (WRC) held a region-wide meeting on Thursday, January 9th, 2020 to kick-off the new Windham Region Broadband Project.  The presentation from that meeting, which describes the elements of this project in detail, is available here.  A video of the meeting is available here.

The next meeting will be held February 6th (February 13th snow date) at 6 p.m. at the Newbrook Fire Department in Newfane and will focus on the administration of the broadband survey.

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WRC Mourns Loss of Our Friend and Colleague, Mike Shaughnessy

On Thursday, July 11th we learned of the unexpected death of our friend and colleague, Mike Shaughnessy. Mike had worked at WRC as finance manager since he was 21 years old, and for more than 30 years was central to the operation of the Commission and our strong financial integrity. He was a resource for our towns and a leader among the regional planning commission financial managers.

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VTrans Looking for Your Input on Public Transit

Got 5 minutes? Do you ride the bus? Carpool? Uber? VTrans want your input! VTrans is updating the Vermont Public Transit Policy Plan (PTPP), examining Vermont’s transit needs and proposing programs and policies to address them. VTrans has heard from Vermonters across the state and have identified public transit issues and challenges, as well as potential strategies for addressing them. You can help VTrans fine tune these items by taking their new survey and letting them know what you think. Survey takers can register for a drawing for a $50 gift card! Your input will help VTrans shape the future of public transportation in Vermont. The survey will be open until September 1st.  You can access the survey here.

Windham Regional Commission Receives $300,000 Brownfields Grant

WRC was selected as one of six organizations in Vermont selected to receive a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for environmental assessment work. The $300,000 grant will cover five site assessments, five cleanup plans and the development of an area-wide plan. This work will be targeted in the communities with the most need, Brattleboro, Bellows Falls and Wilmington, although brownfields projects throughout the region are eligible. “The Windham Regional Commission is pleased to be able to help more communities and property owners clean up and redevelop contaminated sites in Southern Vermont”, said WRC Senior Planner Susan Westa.

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WRC Project Showcased at the 2019 Leahy Summit at the ECHO Center

On Friday, April 5th, 2019, staff planner Emily Davis lead a panel discussion with her project partners at the 2019 Leahy Center Environmental Summit at the ECHO Center in Burlington. Hosted by the VT Clean Water Network, the Leahy Summit is a biennial clean water networking event designed to pull together clean water partners involved with community resilience, policy, funding, project development, and clean water implementation. Starting in response to the need for a more holistic approach to watershed planning following Tropical Storm Irene, each Leahy Summit has a theme. The theme for 2019 was: "The Alchemy of Arts & Science."

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New Brattleboro Road Map Now Available

WRC has completed a large version of a Brattleboro road map, with every named road and street in town, public and private, on one page, with no insets. The map also includes a name index to help you locate those streets you’ve never heard of before. Lisa Donnelly of the WRC staff gets much of the credit for being the cartographic contortionist, fitting nearly 340 road names into Brattleboro’s very non-linear street network. Interested in a smaller size? WRC also has an 11x17-inch version, on two pages with insets.

PDFs of both maps are available on the WRC web site here. Anyone can take the PDFs to a commercial establishment for printing, or WRC can print out copies of the large map for a small fee. Thanks to the Brattleboro Planning Services Department for reviewing the map.

Funding Available for Dry Hydrant Projects, Other Rural Water Supplies

Are you a town or fire department looking to improve fire suppression capabilities? If so, you may want to check out grant funding opportunities from the Vermont Rural Fire Protection Task Force (formerly the Dry Hydrant Grant Program).

The 2019 program offers grants up to $5000 for installation of new dry hydrants and other types of water supplies, along with repair, upgrade, replacement, or relocation of existing rural water supplies. New this year is funding for drafting site development.

The next round of applications deadlines are June 1st and August 1st, 2019. More information can be found at

WRC Welcomes Susan Westa as New Senior Planner

Susan Westa, AICP, joined the Windham Regional Commission in January 2019. Susan will be the new Community Development lead at WRC, including the Brownfields program and the regional plan update. Susan comes to WRC from the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission in western MA where she was working with Planning Boards reviewing large scale solar applications and helping develop marijuana zoning bylaws. She also led the development of a Joint Land Use Study with the Westover Airbase and surrounding communities.

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WRC Commissioners Visit Rich Earth Institute, Windham County SWMD

On November 15, 2018, the WRC's Energy and Natural Resources Committees attended a field trip to the Brattleboro-based Rich Earth Institute (REI), and the Windham County Solid Waste Management District (WCSWMD). The theme of the trip was energy-efficiency, resource recovery, and closed-loop systems, or sustainable processes that intentionally convert "waste" products into resources. This field trip was especially relevant to the Committees following the approval of the Windham Regional Energy Plan, which contains policies that encourage resource-conscious practices and industries.

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People Are Hitting The Trails This Winter

What were people in Brattleboro doing on Christmas Day? How about New Year’s Eve? Would you believe that dozens of people each day were out on the West River Trail?  Windham Regional Commission has expanded its pedestrian count program to the winter months, and recent data both surprised and pleased us.

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WRC Hosts Successful Emergency Management Director / Fire Chief Roundtables

Windham Regional Commission has held two of our first Emergency Management Director (EMD) and Fire Chief Roundtables. This began after WRC ceased work with the Local Emergency Planning Commission 6 in Summer 2018. WRC's Emergency Planner felt there was a need to engage EMDs as a group and the first quarterly roundtable was held in Fall 2018. The idea was to host an event that was casual enough to promote open discussion, while also bringing up topics to keep the conversations productive.

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WRC Continues to Assist With Town Enhanced Energy Planning

The Windham Regional Commission is working with member towns to develop enhanced energy elements for town plans. These enhanced elements meet state standards therefore making the town plan eligible for Substantial Deference in Section 248 proceedings. So far, WRC has assisted nine towns in the development of these plans.

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Updated Map of Census Tracts Eligible for New Markets Tax Credits

Congress created the NMTC program in 2000 to spur investment of private capital for economic development in both rural and urban low-income communities. Individuals and corporations receive a tax credit against federal income taxes for making investments in certain low-income properties or businesses when those investments are made through a “community development entity” (CDE). Prospective NMTC projects generally need to be located in qualified census tracts.

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Materials from the Forum on Wastewater Solutions for Unsewered Villages

Thank you to everyone who came out for the village wastewater forum on August 2nd. The following are links for materials presented at the meeting:

Wastewater Solutions for Villages in the Windham Region (Department of Environmental Conservation);

Organizing Wastewater Solutions - A Workbook for Local Leaders  (Department of Housing and Community Development).

We are currently scheduling a follow-up meeting for interested towns. For more information please contact Emily Davis (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

West Dummerston and Westminster West Selected for Village Sanitation Pilot Study

On May 25th, community representatives from both West Dummerston and Westminster West submitted, on behalf of participating homeowners in each of their respective neighborhoods, a Letter of Interest to the Windham Regional Commission and the Rich Earth Institute for the Village Sanitation Pilot Study (VSPS). The VSPS is an innovative partnership project that provides a feasibility study to a community that is challenged by septic or wastewater limitations in our historic community centers. The feasibility study will provide a pathway for innovative wastewater solutions which can help address aging septic systems that may impact ground and/or surface water quality, human health, and the financial ability of home and business owners to properly maintain and update these on-site systems.

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LEPC-6 Transitions Away from WRC

You may have heard that the Local Emergency Planning Commission 6 (LEPC-6) is in transition. That is true, and here is some information about what's new.

The June 19th LEPC-6 meeting was the last meeting organized with WRC involvement. For a number of reasons, WRC felt it was the right time to transition away from LEPC-6 involvement and towards creating our own method of involving the public and our emergency management partners going forward. June 30th is the last day that WRC will serve in the Secretary and Treasurer roles. Additionally, Paul Fraser is stepping down as Chair on June 30th. We want to thank him for his dedicated, enthusiastic and entertaining service throughout the last three and a half years.

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The Green River Watershed Alliance rolls out the Confluence Project

In 2017, the Green River Watershed Alliance (GRWA) was formed with the support of the WRC and through a Watershed Resilience grant from the High Meadows Fund, to be a "community-led voice for the stewardship and protection of the Green River and its surrounding landscape." It aims to bring together residents from Marlboro, Halifax, and Guilford so they may establish the importance of their river, learn about its systems, and create watershed identity and a sense of place.  One of the ways it plans to do this is through the Confluence Project, a collaborative effort between the WRC, Vermont Performance Lab, and three area schools.

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From the Director, Spring 2018 - Beginning the Update of the Windham Regional Plan

Chris CampanyAn update of the Windham Regional Plan is getting underway. We invite everyone to read the current regional plan, the Windham Regional Transportation Plan, and even the just-adopted Regional Energy Plan to let us know what you feel could be improved. Are the underlying assumptions about existing and future conditions valid? Are the goals and objectives for the future of the region the right ones? Do the current policies get us to where we want to be? Have those policies been effective? What specific actions can the Commission take to move the region forward per the direction of the plan? The Committees of the WRC will be discussing these questions and more over the coming 6 months. Everyone's input is welcome!

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WRC’s Pedestrian Count Data Now Available Online

WRC has performed over 90 pedestrian counts at over 30 different locations since 2014, on sidewalks, multi-use pathways, and trails throughout the Region. We’ve now made all that data available to the public via an on-line map.

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WRC Formalizes the Clean Water Advisory Committee

Since the passing of Act 64, Vermont's Clean Water Act (VCWA), in 2015, the State as a whole has effectively adopted its "all-in" approach to water quality efforts. Directly relevant to regional planning commissions, the VCWA states that, "...if funding is available, ANR shall contract with regional planning commissions to produce or assist in producing basin plans."  While this assistance is mandated with the passing of this legislation, the WRC has independently enjoyed a long-standing working relationship with its respective DEC Basin Planner, Marie Caduto. In partnership with the DEC, the WRC's Natural Resources Committee has led efforts to assist in drafting the Tactical Basin Plans (or, a large watershed-scale planning document that identifies priority water quality projects in a basin), providing outreach to affected municipalities, and help prioritize projects based in part on local needs and interests. All this work related to Basin Planning, water quality outreach, and project implementation had been done through the existing Clean Water Advisory Committee (CWAC), which is an extension of the Natural Resources Committee.

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Algiers Village Explores Living Community Challenge Master Planning

On Wednesday, August 16th , four community non-profit organizations based in Guilford hosted a community meeting at the Guilford Community Church to start a dialogue about what people envision for the future of Algiers Village. Those organizations are the Friends of Algiers Village, Community Collaborative for Guilford, Guilford Preservation, Inc, and the Guilford Community Church; and they have taken on the role of proactively planning the Village.

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WRC Planners Attend 2017 Leahy Summit with Green River Project Partners

The 2017 Leahy Summit was hosted at the ECHO Center in Burlington, on March 24-25. The intent of the meeting was to bring together project groups and partners that have a watershed resilience-related project idea that they'd like to pursue. The two-day meeting was primarily a working session, as attending project partners were facilitated through a series of exercises that encouraged the teams to reflect on their goals, identify community needs, and begin to develop an action plan for carrying out their projects and to have a plan with which they can receive funding.

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Notes from VCDA's Meeting on Trails and Economic Development

trails econdev meetingOn May 10, WRC's GIS Planner Jeff Nugent headed north to Burke Mountain to attend the Vermont  Community Development Association’s spring meeting.  The topic was Blazing A Trail: The Economic Impact and Future of Vermont’s Trails & Recreation Paths.  With over 100 people in attendance, the energy and excitement around this topic was plapable.  For those that could not attend, here are Jeff's notes from the meeting.

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WRC Welcomes Two New Staff Members

Windham Regional Commission recently hired two new staff members, Emily Davis and Erica Roper, to work in the areas of water quality, GIS, and transportation.

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WRC Staff Begin Road Erosion Inventories

In October, work began in Weston and Stratton to help towns come into compliance with Act 64, Vermont's Clean Water Act. WRC staff Jeff Nugent and Emily Davis identified road erosion locations that would impact water quality, and road segments that would not meet new road standards being developed under Act 64. The results will be used by towns to prioritize improvements to mitigate road erosion issues specifically relating to water quality. VTrans's Better Roads program provides funding for both inventory efforts and road and infrastructure improvements.

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RiverSmart Communities Report Available

The RiverSmart Communities program at UMass Amherst has released a report "Supporting New England Communities to Become RiverSmart: Policies and Programs That Can Help New England Towns Thrive Despite River Floods." The result of work with numerous partners in MA and VT, the report combines social and river science, institutional and policy research, and community outreach to research and address river floods in New England.

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Sale of TransCanada Hydropower Facilities on the Connecticut and Deerfield Rivers, updated 11/9/2016

When TransCanada announced its intent to sell its holdings in New England, including its holdings on the Connecticut and Deerfield Rivers, we understood this was an important issue for 12 of our 27 towns where TransCanada owns property and has flowage rights:  Brattleboro, Dummerston, Putney, Readsboro, Rockingham, Searsburg, Somerset, Stratton, Westminster, Whitingham, Wilmington and Vernon.

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Saxtons River Watershed Collaborative Looks Forward to Future Projects

The Saxtons River Watershed Collaborative, comprised of members from groups, schools, town officials, and organizations within the watershed, along with the Windham Regional Commission, met at the beginning of September to update the team of project developments. The group has been funded by the High Meadows Fund to create and foster a watershed identity throughout the towns and communities along the river. The collaborative has worked on several flood resiliency projects including planting 1,360 trees, pursuing 6 conservation easements on river corridor properties, and setting up an educational center. Since the group last met, the educational center has found a home in the Retreat Farms in Brattleboro.

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MOOver's Ribbon Cutting for Its New Home!

The MOOver division of Southeast Vermont Transit (formerly Deerfield Valley Transit Association) marked the grand opening of the new transportation facility on November 17, 2015. The Wilmington facility opened in stages, with the final landscaping, paving, and site work completed in late October. The last section of the Riverwalk connecting downtown Wilmington to Lake Whitingham on the MOOver's property was completed October 29th as part of this project.

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Guilford Apartments Wins National Award at EPA Brownfields Conference!

The Phoenix Awards Institute, Inc. presented Algiers Village Housing, a 17-unit affordable housing development in Guilford, with an award for outstanding achievement in the redevelopment of a Brownfield site. The award was presented on September 3 in Chicago as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's major national Brownfields conference on environmental revitalization and economic development.

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Vt. Economic Resiliency Initiative (VERI) Brattleboro Report Released

Over the past year, the Vermont Economic Resiliency Initiative (VERI) has been working with five communities to examine flood resiliency and look at ways businesses can help prepare for, and quickly recover from, the next disaster.  A major product of that work is a recently-released report for Brattleboro, outlining municipal policy and program recommendations, high-priority site-specific projects to improve channel and floodplain, infrastructure, and public safety, and next steps for the community.  

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Saxtons River Watershed Collaborative Receives $32,000 Grant to Address Flood Resiliency

Flooding is, by far, the most costly and devastating natural disaster that the State of Vermont has experienced in recent history and the Saxtons River is no exception. Significant flood events in the Saxtons River occurred in 1927, 1936, 1938, 1973, 1996 and 2011. Scientists project that the northeast may see an increase in the frequency and intensity of storms, which could result in an increase in flood events. These conditions require that we creatively, collaboratively, and actively explore new ways of addressing flood resiliency..

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EPA Awards Brownfields Funds for Two Windham Region Projects

EPA recently announced the award of more than $17.48 million in Brownfield grants to municipalities and organizations working to protect people’s health by assessing and cleaning up contaminated parcels in New England communities. In the Windham Region, EPA is awarding $475,000 clean up grants were awarded for two projects in Rockingham. 

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Connecticut River Bikeway Routes Map Released

Are you looking for suggestions on bike rides in the Tri-State region this summer? The recently-released map of bikeway routes along the Connecticut River Scenic Byway can help you out. The map covers parts of three states and shows bike routes from Putney, VT and Walpole, NH in the north to Easthampton and South Hadley, MA in the south.

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Brattleboro Area Farmers Market Receives Grant from WRC

The Brattleboro Area Farmers Market (BAFM) received a $35,000 grant on May 18, 2015 through the Windham Regional Commission Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund. BAFM will use the funds from the WRC to remediate contamination on the former Planet Gas site, located at 70 Western Avenue in Brattleboro..

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Governor Speaks at WRC's 50 Year Celebration

On Tuesday, June 23rd the WRC celebrated its 50th anniversary with a gathering of current and past Commissioners and staff, elected officials, state agencies, and many other friends overlooking the Connecticut River Valley from the vantage point of the School for International Training in Dummerston. The warm and humid evening didn't dampen the energy among the approximately 150 people in attendance, and the threatening storms skirted north and south of the gathering.

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New Local Emergency Plan Appendix Developed for Animal Planning

LEPC-6, at their April meeting, hosted the newly forming Windham Disaster Animal Response Team (DART) along with Joanne Bourbeau, the Northeastern Director of the Humane Society of the United States and the Vermont DART statewide Chair. What came out of that meeting was a desire for Emergency Planner and LEPC-6 Secretary, Alyssa Sabetto, to develop a an animal planning element to be included as part of the Local Emergency Operations Plan (LEOP) that gets updated yearly by towns.

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"Get to Know the WRC" Video Unveiled at 50th Anniversary Celebration

An epic cinematic debut! Get to know the Windham Regional Commission. We unveiled this 5 minute video at our 50th anniversary celebration. Please share it. Thank you to Mondo Mediaworks for their great job on this video, and to the Windham Foundation for underwriting the effort.

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Bees, Bats and Habitats Forum a Success!

News articles about our bee and bat populations in the last decade repeatedly emphasize the staggering losses of these populations and the many perils that have caused them: habitat loss, disease, pesticide use impacting bee populations, white-nose syndrome decimating bat populations, and the list goes on. On Friday, June 12, over 55 members of the public, from throughout the Windham Region, attended a forum entitled "Bees, Bats, and Habitats," at the Marlboro College Graduate School in Brattleboro, VT.

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WRC Releases Forest Stewardship Report

Do you know what threats, both global and local, face our forests and our forest economy?  Are you concerned that climate change and invasive species could change the composition of forests as we know them?  Is Windham County really the “Timber Capital of Vermont?” The Windham Regional Commission’s recently-released report, “Landscape Based Forest Stewardship,” provides insight into topics such as these, including what strategies exist to preserve the region’s forestlands. 

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Highlights from the Emerald Ash Borer Workshop

Just ask the hundreds of communities that have already experienced the arrival of the exotic emerald ash borer (EAB): despite their small size, this iridescent green insect can have devastating impacts to our forests. Within a 6 to 12-year time period, the EAB can cause nearly 100% mortality of ash trees (which is one of the 10 most common trees in Vermont), leading to significant risk to public and private infrastructure, public safety, and our forest communities. Unfortunately, the burden of dealing with the impacts of the EAB falls heavily upon municipalities, utility companies, and landowners.

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Study of Economic Impacts to Tri-County Area Due to Vermont Yankee Closure is Released

On December 29, 2014, the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station (VY) will no longer operate as an energy production facility.  When fully operational, the facility had over 600 workers, most living in Windham County, VT; Cheshire County, NH; and Franklin County, MA. For over 40 years, VY has been an important component of this region’s economy.  So what is the magnitude of economic impact to our tri-state region due to the discontinuing of operations and decommissioning of VY, especially the loss of local income?  This is a question that four regional economic development planning organizations are seeking to answer.  These organizations are: the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, the Southwest Regional Planning Commission, and the Windham Regional Commission.  A study completed by the University of Massachusetts’ Donahue Institute that begins to provide some insight can be found here: UMDI Study of Economic Impacts of VY Closure.

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The Windham Regional Plan is Approved!

We are pleased to announce that the Windham Regional Plan was approved by a unanimous vote on September 30, 2014 during the meeting of the Windham Regional Commission. This concludes our regional plan update process that began in October 2012. We wish to extend our gratitude to everyone who participated in this effort.

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Vermont Economic Resiliency Initiative Brattleboro Community: Building Flood Resiliency

By some estimates, at least a quarter of businesses never reopen after a disaster. The Vermont Economic Resiliency Initiative, or VERI, is hoping to lower that number, by working with five towns in Vermont, including Brattleboro. The goal is to help businesses affected by a future disaster to “bounce back, not break.”  The first public forum for Brattleboro was held October 15, 2014.  We'll be posting a summary of that forum soon.

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Downtown and Village Revitalization Website is Launched!

A new website has been launched to assist southern Vermont communities with downtown and village center revitalization. This website provides a toolkit of information and resources to help communities build vibrancy and economic resiliency. Among the resources are links to useful guides and information, implementation strategies, funding sources, case studies, and government and non-profit entities that offer additional information

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Shared Municipal Services

This past summer thanks to our wonderful intern, Emily Wilson, the WRC began to explore potential shared municipal services and inter-municipal cooperation opportunities among our towns, and what role the WRC might play.

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WRC Awards Brownfields Funding to Deerfield Valley Transit Association

In June, Windham Regional Commission signed an agreement with Deerfield Valley Transit Association (DVTA) for a loan/grant combination for $171,500 for brownfields clean up at the former Barnboard site in Wilmington. DVTA is the operator of a community transit system for the area around the Deerfield Valley and is known for their trademark buses with a Holstein motif. The grant is being used for the remediation of the Barnboard site as part of the construction of their new facility.

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Recent Regional Highway Safety Forum a Success

On May 12, 2014, Chip Sterns, Town Manager, Rockingham, welcomed 50 attendees to the Rockingham Town Hall and the first Regional Highway Safety Forum in the Windham region. The all day event was presented by the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance ( ) and hosted by WRC and Southern Windsor County RPC. It provided an opportunity to learn about the resources and partners available to individuals and communities as they strive towards safety for all highway users.

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EPA Awards Brownfields Funds for Two Windham Region Projects

EPA recently announced the award of more than $17.48 million in Brownfield grants to municipalities and organizations working to protect people’s health by assessing and cleaning up contaminated parcels in New England communities. In the Windham Region, EPA is awarding $475,000 clean up grants were awarded for two projects in Rockingham. 

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WRC Hires New Planner

The WRC is pleased to announce that Alyssa Sabetto will be joining our staff as a planner beginning June 2nd. Alyssa has a B.S. in Community and Regional Planning with a minor in Environmental Studies from Temple University Ambler and an M.S. in Environmental Management/Organizational Development and Leadership from Shippensburg University.

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Main Street Arts Receives Brownfields Clean Up Grant from WRC

In April 2014 Windham Regional Commission signed an agreement with Main Street Arts (MSA), a non-profit community arts center located in Saxtons River, to grant the organization $133,658 for Brownfields clean up.  The grant is being used for the remediation of their adjoining site (33 Main Street) to allow them to make their existing building handicapped accessible.

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Speaker and State Treasurer Meet With WRC Commissioners and Energy Coordinators

Our conference room was bustling on February 24th as nearly 20 members from the WRC’s Energy Committee, Public Policy and Legislative Committee, and Town Energy Coordinators gathered to speak with Vermont Speaker of the House Shap Smith and State Treasurer Beth Pearce.  The Speaker and State Treasurer each had other engagements in Brattleboro later in the evening, but generously arrived early to hear from constituents on energy issues and related policy. This opportunity was organized by Betty Frye, resident of Guilford, who was hosting the Speaker at a meeting afterward. 

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Local Emergency Operations Plans – New Format for 2014

Formerly referred to as Rapid Response Plans (RRP), and then Basic Emergency Operations Plans (BEOP), all towns are now required to prepared Local Emergency Operations Plans (LEOP) following a new format.  Vermont statute requires every city and town to have an emergency operations plan on file at the Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS). Adoption of an LEOP is one element of the new Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund (ERAF) Rule, which goes into effect on October 23, 2014. The Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund provide State funding to match Federal Public Assistance after federally-declared disasters.

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WRC’s New Hire to Help with Village and Downtown Resiliency Planning

Kim Smith, a recent graduate of Conway School with a M.A. in Landscape Design, was recently hired to help us with village and downtown resiliency planning supported by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) Disaster Recovery Grant.  Kim’s prime focus at Windham Regional Commission is working with staff on village revitalization plans. Prior to graduate school Kim worked as a biologist in California on a bald eagle reintroduction project. Other areas of interest include gardening, sustainability and permaculture.

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First Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund Project Completed

Windham Regional Commission (WRC) is pleased to announce completion of its first Windham Region Brownfields Reuse Initiative-Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund (WRBRI-RLF) project: The Bellows Falls Historic Riverfront Park and Trail System.

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WRC Presents Testimony on VY Closure Before House Committees

Below is a link to testimony presented on October 28, 2013 by Windham Regional Commission before the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee and the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee about the impacts of the closure of Vermont Yankee.  Link to testimony.

Information Related to the Closure of Vermont Yankee

Information as of August 30, 2013, including:

  • WRC Statement on Announcement by Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee That the Plant Will Close in 2014
  • VY Employees by Town
  • Resiliency Action Plan for the Town of Vernon in Preparation for the Eventual Closure of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station  

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Creative Planning and Public Participation In Londonderry

Londonderry residents and a team from Marlboro College’s Center for Creative Solutions (CCS), in partnership with Windham Regional Commission explored how to best use soon to be town owned properties severely damaged by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene. Participants in the six-day planning workshop held in early August generated three different options for how the buyout properties could provide opportunities for flood mitigation and at the same time be a multipurpose green space for the community. Conventionally, these purposes could be seen as mutually exclusive. However, there was nothing conventional about this community planning process.

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I-91 Bridge Replacement Begins

On Tuesday, July 24th, there was a well attended public meeting on the design, engineering and pre-construction of Bridge 9 on I-91 that spans the West River.   It was exciting to see this project so close to the actual construction phase. The development process for this project was compressed, but at the request of the WRC, VTrans allowed public involvement and input into the aesthetics of the bridge design.

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WRC receives $400,000 in EPA Brownfields Grant Funding to use in the Region

EPA recently announced that the Windham Regional Commission will receive $400,000 in EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant funds (petroleum and hazardous substances).  All together this funding has brought a total of $3.15 million dollars in federal Brownfields funds to the region since the program’s inception in 2000. Brownfields are land and buildings whose expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.

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WRC Awards First Grants, Loan, Through Brownfields Cleanup Fund

Windham Regional Commission (WRC) is pleased to announce the following grants and loans from the Windham Region Brownfields Reuse Initiative- Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund (WRBRI-RLF).  A total of $272,266 will be made available to Deerfield Valley Transit Association (MOOVER), Main Street Arts and Bellows Falls Historical Society to provide resources to help them with the clean up of their Brownfield properties. 

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Commonwealth Dairy Wins Award for Brownfields Redevelopment

The Windham Regional Commission (WRC) and Commonwealth Dairy are proud to announce that the Commonwealth Dairy project was honored at the Phoenix Awards ceremony during Brownfields 2013 in Atlanta, GA, May 16, 2013. Created in 1997, this prestigious award honors individuals and groups working to solve critical environmental or social challenges, transforming blighted and contaminated areas into productive new uses, and sustainable development projects.  The Phoenix Award winners represent outstanding Brownfield projects from each of the 10 EPA regions.

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Energy Siting Commission Recommends Strong Planning Role

The VT Energy Generation Siting Policy Commission has released its report detailing its recommendations. Among the recommendations are robust regional and municipal energy siting planning, which can lead to greater standing of plans in the Section 248 process.  I strongly encourage everyone interested in this issue to read the report in its entirety, including the dissenting opinion from Siting Commission member Louise McCarren.  The report and minority opinion are available here. Thanks to the members of the Siting Commission for their hard work on a challenging subject.

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Recent Forestry Forum Spawned Sharing of Ideas

WRC Natural Resources Committee hosted on April 18 their third forum in an ongoing series to bring together conservation minded people in our region to network and learn. The Spring 2013 topic covered two main topics on Forestry.  Graduate students from the Conway School presented their research from last winter, where they collected stories from local foresters, and ideas and data to tell the story of cultural, economic, and conservation values of the working forest landscape of the Windham Region.

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What's New With The Southern Vermont Post Tropical Storm Irene Recovery Project

Windham Regional Commission (WRC) and Bennington County Regional Commission (BCRC), along with our correlating Regional Development Corporations, the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation (BDCC) and the Bennington County Industrial Corporation applied for and received funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration Disaster Recovery Grant program.  An important part of this work is to bring added professional capacity to Southern Vermont to assist with economic recovery post Tropical Storm Irene.

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January 2013 State Approved Town Road and Bridge Standards

The Town Road and Bridge Standards represent the work of a culmination of working groups (including VTrans, ANR, RPCs, and VT Local Roads) focused on infrastructure criteria to be adhered before hand when a natural disaster occurs.  The January 2013 state-approved Standards include: reconstruction of gravel and paved roads, erosion control measures, culvert and bridge designs, installing guardrails based on project specificity, and access management.  A copy of these Standards can be found here.

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Town Profile Data Available

Census Block Group ImageAs part of the information gathering process for the Regional Profile update, the WRC collected current available U.S. Census and American Community Survey data for each of the 27 towns that it represents.  The data was collected for broad catagories of analysis pertaining to population, economics, housing, and transportation.  In most cases, the data was collected from the 2010 Census figures, but in some cases more recent data was available.  The raw data collected is available in Excel or PDF format for any towns wishing to obtain this information.  Please contact Cullen Meves at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (802) 257-4547 ext. 108.

Parcel Data Now Available in Google Earth-Compatible Format

Have you ever wanted to look at a town’s digital parcel data but you don’t have the necessary GIS software?  Now you can look at that data in Google Earth, a popular and free mapping software that many people already have on their computer.  WRC GIS staff have recently converted all available digital parcel data in the Windham Region to “KMZ” files. 

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Conway Students Investigate Forestry in the Region

Three graduate students from the Conway School Graduate Program in Sustainable Landscape and Design are working on a project this quarter to tell the story of forestry in the Windham Region. The goal of their project is to prepare materials to build greater understanding of the cultural, economic, and conservation values of the working forest landscape of the Region.

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WRC Releases Report on Undeveloped Waters in SE Vermont

Windham Regional Commission (WRC) has just released the report “Undeveloped Waters in Southeastern Vermont.”  It is the result of several years of work by Commission staff to identify and characterize the nature of the undeveloped rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds in the southern portion of the Windham Region and a small area in the adjacent Bennington County Region.  Undeveloped refers to the state of the land adjoining these water bodies.

Forty lakes and ponds, with shoreline totaling nearly 100 miles, and over 1,400 miles of rivers and streams, were analyzed.  What did we find?

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Complete Streets Implementation Guidance for Municipalities Now Available

In May, 2011, the Complete Streets Bill was signed into law.  The guidance as to how the law is to be implemented at the municipal level has now been released.  Complete Streets – A Guide for Vermont Communities was developed by the Vermont Department of Health in cooperation with a variety of transportation, health and aging organizations in order to demonstrate and provide examples of Complete Streets projects already in place, as well as overarching planning guidelines for future initiatives.  Hard copies have been distributed to each town by the WRC.  The guide is available from the Vermont Department of Health here, or AARP here

EDA awards $470,000 in disaster funding to Regional Commissions for Capacity Building in Southern Vermont

The Windham Regional Commission (WRC) and the Bennington County Regional Commission (BCRC) have been notified by the Vermont Federal Delegation that they have been awarded $472,000 in disaster recovery funds by the US Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. This EDA investment supports disaster recovery capacity building for the Southern Vermont region. The project will establish two flood recovery offices that will expand the capacity of public officials and economic development organizations to work effectively with businesses and encourage the development of innovative public/private approaches to economic restructuring, revitalization and resiliency.

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Windham Regional Mobility Study Completed

Over the past year, WRC staff has been working on the Windham Region Mobility Study: Coordination of Transportation Services to Improve Mobility for All of the Windham Region’s Residents.  This Study came about through a collaborative effort among public transit providers, school supervisory unions, youth service organizations, institutions of higher education, human service agencies, non-profits, economic development agencies, and others. This diverse group of stakeholders came together to promote the common goal of increasing mobility in the Windham Region through the coordination and integration of current and future transportation services, including public transit and school buses.

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Southern Vermont Rivers Conference a Success!

Approximately 60 people attended the Southern Vermont Rivers Conference on Oct. 16 in Wilmington. The day-long event provided information to road crews, town officials, zoning administrators, Development Review Board members, and other from from Bennington and Windham Regions, and VT Road Scholar and Certified Floodplain Management (CFM) credits were provided.  For more information, contact Dinah Reed at (802) 257-4547 ext. 109 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Copies of the presentations in PDF format are below (we will be adding more as we receive them): 

From the Director, August 2012 - HUD Approves $4.5 million for Windham County

In the last newsletter we explained that the Windham Region would have to compete for a very small pool of Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds.  On Thursday, July 19th we learned from Jen Hollar, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development (DEHCD), that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development  (HUD) approved the state’s request that up to $4.5 million in CDBG-DR funds be made available to Windham County out of the $17,328,169 that had been targeted exclusively to Washington and Windsor Counties.  We appreciate the hard work of everyone at the state, federal and local levels to make this happen!

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Report: Recommended Aesthetic Criteria for the Replacement I-91 Bridge Over the West River

altOn Thursday, August 16th the WRC hosted a public outreach meeting to gather public input on the aesthetics and design of a new bridge that will replace the current I-91 bridge over the West River and Route 30.  Background information as to how this meeting came about is available here. Approximately 35 residents, local officials, professionals, and interested individuals participated in the meeting.  Facilitated by WRC staff, the meeting began with a presentation of the history of the project, the task before the public at the meeting, and a review of design precedents to expose the participants to different types of structures and materials and how they relate to the surrounding context.  The meeting participants as a group were then asked about qualities of the current bridge within the context of the surrounding landscape, and the current and desired experience created by the bridge by travelers on Route 30, I-91 and the West River.

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WRC Comments on Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Funds Action Plan

Important Update!
The Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development (DEHCD) of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development has developed a draft action plan that describes the proposed use of Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds made available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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WRC Director Testifies Before Vermont Senate Committee on Economic Development, General and Military Affairs

On March 30th Executive Director Chris Campany provided testimony about decommissioning concerns related to Vermont Yankee, and town planning needs in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, before a community-based hearing of the Vermont Senate Committee on Economic Development, General and Military Affairs. 

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New West River Watershed Maps Released

WRC has just released a 2 page map of the West River Watershed.  The first page is a richly detailed map of the entire watershed, showing every named river, stream, lake, and pond, along with wetlands, roads, buildings, villages and hamlets, public lands, and major recreation areas and trails.  The second page introduces the concept of a watershed, and presents information on water quality and special designations of lands and waters in the watershed. 

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Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) Efforts Advance

The Southeastern Vermont Economic Development Strategies Group (SeVEDS) is an organization driving the regional economic development dialogue for the Windham Region.   SeVEDS, affiliated with the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, envisions an economy that generates long-term growth and prosperity, improves our quality of life and sustains our quality of place. Members of the SeVEDS Board (Barb Sondag and Bob Stevens) presented the latest findings about the state of the economy of the Windham Region and economic development planning strategies going forward at the February 2012 WRC  meeting. 

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Remembering Melinda Bussino

It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing of our Chair, Melinda Bussino, over the weekend.  Melinda gave so much of herself to so many, and the Windham Regional Commission counts itself as fortunate to have benefited from her active participation and leadership since she began serving as a Commissioner from Westminster in 1995.  During that time she served as Vice Chair for 3 years, and this year was her fifth term as Chair, a position she assumed in 2008.  Melinda was a tireless advocate for those in need and the importance of community, and an undeniable force for change.  In addition to her work, Melinda shared with everyone an incredibly positive disposition and a beautiful smile.  Our thoughts go out to her family for their loss, and we thank them for sharing Melinda with us.  She will be missed. 

Melinda's viewing will be held on Friday from 4 to 7 pm at Ker Westerlund at 57 High Street in Brattleboro.  Please stop in and express your condolences to her family.  Her memorial service is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m. at First Baptist Church on Main Street in Brattleboro. It is also open to the public.

The family has asked that donations be given to the Drop In Center in lieu of flowers.