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.

  • Our work continues. To protect the health of our staff, and to do our part to reduce the spread of the pandemic, we have suspended all face-to-face meetings and access to the office is limited to staff only until further notice. We anticipate transitioning to a complete remote work environment. All face-to-face WRC meetings have been suspended. However, we are continuing work in all programmatic areas (transportation, community development, brownfields, emergency planning, energy, natural resources, etc.) and on special projects such as the Windham Regional Broadband Project. Our GIS and mapping function will also continue. What we have to postpone are the public engagement elements of our work, so we are focused on developing data, information, analysis and maps to support public engagement and public decision making once the social distancing practices allow it. This may cause delays in some project timelines.
     
  • Please contact the WRC and its staff as you would normally by email or phone and we will get back to you. For staff email addresses and phone extensions go to http://www.windhamregional.org/contact-us

  • Prior to town meeting we sent each town a contact update form. Please get that back to us if you’ve not yet done so. Let us know if you need that form sent again.
     
  • We have asked the Governor and the Legislature to consider suspension of the physical location requirement of Vermont Open Meeting Law during this public health state of emergency to facilitate municipal continuity of operations. The law allows meeting by remote means such as teleconference, but it requires that a physical location be provided and that a staff person or member be in attendance. We feel this puts people unnecessarily at risk during this public health crisis. The Vermont League of Cities and Towns is very engaged in this matter. 

  • The Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, the region’s regional development corporation, is coordinating the regional response to the economic impacts of the virus. The BDCC has formed the COVID-19 Windham Economic Resiliency Team. The WRC will be collaborating with them on this effort. 

  • We can support ongoing town planning efforts. While towns may not be able to engage in robust public engagement at this time, planning commissions and other committees may want to continue to review their current plans, and develop data, background information and maps in support of their planning efforts that they can use when this public health emergency concludes.
     
  • We will continue to perform our municipal project manager responsibilities. We are assisting a number of municipalities with the management of grants from VTrans. We will continue to execute that responsibility, recognizing that some workplans may need to be modified where public engagement is required. Should project delays arise we will communicate these to the agency.
     
  • Our local liaison capacity in support of towns and the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) is ready. We are normally mobilized in the event of natural disasters such as storms. We may be asked to assist with the statewide response to COVID-19 if asked by Vermont Emergency Management. We may also be asked to provide staff support to the SEOC.
     
  • If you have questions or needs, let us know. We may not have the answer or the resource, but we will reach out to those who might. 


This is an odd time when maintaining our physical distance from one another is the best thing we can do for the well-being of our community. We’re pulling together by being apart. Know that we’re here for you, and that we look forward to seeing your faces on the other side of this.

 

     Gabby Ciuffreda, Chair
     Windham Regional Commission 
Chris Campany, Executive Director
Windham Regional Commission

 

Last Updated: 27 April 2020
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