From the Director, Spring 2020: WRC COVID-19 Response Update

Chris Campany

The following is a brief summary of WRC activities related to COVID-19, and our operations during this State of Emergency. We used to develop similar summaries in the wake of Irene and they were considered helpful. I welcome your feedback. So as to make effective use of everyone’s time I’ll pull these together as there is new news to share. In between summaries you can assume we’re in the same operational situation and performing the same or similar tasks. If you use Facebook I encourage you to follow us at https://www.facebook.com/windhamregional. Please let me know if you have any questions, and feel free to share this with anyone you think would be interested.

  • WRC will have transitioned to full remote operations effective Monday, March 23. We are operating under COVID-19 Operations Protocols that were developed in consultation with the WRC Chair. Someone will be coming into the office all or most days as long as we are able (i.e., a shelter in place order or other rules preventing local travel have not been issued). The staff have been great adapting to all of the changes and supporting one another, and continue work within their programmatic areas. As things evolve we’ll deliberate with the Executive Board and Committee Chairs about how our committee work might resume, recognizing that we need to be aware of and responsive to the very dynamic context in which we find ourselves.
  • We have been working in collaboration with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development on 1) changes to the open meeting law to suspend the physical meeting location requirement; and 2) universal suspension of municipal deadlines, including the expiration of town plans, during this State of Emergency. We’ve been doing this through the Senate Government Operations Committee chaired by Windham County Senator Jeanette White. The Committee has agreed to this draft legislation, but it remains to be seen how the legislature will proceed with voting. The proposed legislation is available here: https://legislature.vermont.gov/committee/document/2020/26/Date/3-20-2020#documents-section
  • We’ve collaborated with the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation to get word out about their initiative to help facilitate the flow of information to and from the region’s business community about the business and employment impacts of this health emergency and related mitigation programs. BDCC is hosting regular Friday calls for businesses every Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. (https://brattleborodevelopment.com/bdcc-covid-19-updates/).
  • All regional commissions stand ready to assist in our local liaison capacity with the functions of the State Emergency Operations Center. Exactly what our role might be, other than serving as a conduit for local situational awareness, will no doubt evolve with this event.
  • We continue to serve as a conduit of information between the state and the towns of the region. We’ve facilitated direct connections between the local Department of Health and Agency of Human Services districts and the towns, and we’ve forwarded a survey from the Department of Public Service to towns requesting information about public WiFi availability for school children and remote workers.
  • We have spread word that the United Way of Windham County is coordinating volunteer effort by connecting volunteers with volunteer activities. Towns, organizations, and volunteers that are in the Windham Region, but which are not in Windham County, can still use this volunteer portal. United Way will get the information where it needs to go. https://www.unitedwaywindham.org/
Last Updated: 10 June 2020
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