News Roundup: State Launches School-Based COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics
Vermont reporters provide a roundup of top news takeaways about COVID-19 vaccine clinics at schools, a grant to help connect the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail to downtown St. Johnsbury and more for Monday, Aug. 16.
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1. Health Department launches school-based COVID vaccine clinics
The Department of Health has launched a series of school-based COVID vaccine clinics.
More than a dozen schools across the state will host vaccination sites in the coming weeks that will continue throughout the fall.
Department of Health officials say that pediatricians and school communities are helping to spread the word.
That’s as the Scott administration aims to vaccinate over 80% of eligible students before removing indoor masking recommendations in schools.
Currently, more than 67% of students over 12 have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
- Lexi Krupp
2. Brattleboro hospital to require staff to get COVID-19 vaccine
Brattleboro Memorial Hospital is the latest health care center in Vermont to require its employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Other hospitals, including Dartmouth-Hitchcock and the University of Vermont Health Network, are also requiring staff to get vaccinated by early fall.
- Henry Epp
Vermont Chamber of Commerce survey shows few businesses to require COVID vaccine for employees
Few members of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce say they're planning to require employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The chamber recently sent out a survey to nearly 1,000 Vermont businesses, asking whether they'll mandate the vaccine.
Chamber President Betsy Bishop says about half of respondents so far say they're considering a mandate, but haven't yet put one in place.
“In the comments section, we've had several of those who have said they're considering say that they're not sure that they need to, because of the 85% vaccination rate in Vermont,” Bishop said.
Bishop says respondents also say they're wary of requiring the vaccine, because it could make it more difficult to hire new workers in an already tight labor market.
- Henry Epp
3. Bill Stenger pleads guilty to role in EB-5 fraud case
A prominent developer in the Northeast Kingdom and former president of Jay Peak Ski Resort pleaded guilty in federal court Friday for his role in one the largest fraud cases in Vermont.
Bill Stenger, along with Florida businessman Ariel Quiros and two other men, faced criminal charges over their involvement in a scheme to build a biotech facility in Newport. The facility was never built, and the men allegedly embezzled money that they raised for the project through the federal EB-5 program.
Stenger pleaded guilty to one count: providing false documents to a federal agency. He faces up to five years in prison and up to three years of supervised release. The court will hold a sentencing hearing this fall.
- Liam Elder-Connors
4. Leahy says Vermont in line to receive $1.8 billion over five years from infrastructure bill
Sen. Patrick Leahy says Vermont is in line for more than $1.8 billion over five years from the bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed the Senate last week.
The money will go towards repairing the state’s roads, bridges, and expanding broadband.
Speaking during a press conference Friday at Burlington International Airport, Leahy said the bill opens the door to address some persistent issues.
“It means there's a lot of things that we know we need to do in Vermont: improve broadband and improve our educational system and nutrition for children,” he said. “And now we can really do it.”
The infrastructure bill still needs to pass the House.
- Marlon Hyde
5. New low-income apartments help meet some of large need in Upper Valley
Residents moved into 21 new, low-income apartments in Hartford and Wilder in recent weeks.
The apartments make a small dent in the projected 10,000 housing units needed across the Upper Valley over the next decade.
The new apartments, managed by the nonprofit developer Twin Pines, have been a godsend for people like Rose Huntley. She has white, shoulder-length hair and a wide smile. Heart problems left her using a walker, which didn’t work so well in her old apartment in Randolph. It had stairs to get to the door, and no hand rail.
“I couldn’t get the walker down the stairs by myself,” Huntley said. “I couldn’t carry groceries up the stairs, I wasn’t physically capable of it.”
Huntley had been living on social security disability insurance. That’s after she lost her job of over 20 years at Vermont Castings Foundry. Now, she’s in a first-floor apartment with a new bed and collection of recliners from a nearby thrift store.
She and other residents will pay no more than a third of their income on rent.
- Lexi Krupp
6. $800K grant to help connect Lamoille Valley Rail Trail to St. Johnsbury downtown
A grant of more than $800,000 will help connect the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail to downtown St. Johnsbury.
The grant from the Northern Borders Regional Commission for the design and construction of a trail and a new South Main Street underpass was the biggest single amount given to Vermont towns in this year’s round of grants.
The Lamoille Valley Rail Trail will run more than 90 miles from St. Johnsbury to Swanton.
The push to extend the trail from its current eastern terminus on the edge of St. Johnsbury to the downtown is expected to cost a total of $1.5 million.
Currently 34 miles of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail is open. The state hopes to finish construction on the trail by the end of 2022.
- Associated Press
7. Small plane makes emergency landing in Richmond
A small plane made an emergency landing in a Richmond field Sunday, and state police say both the pilot and passenger walked away without any injuries.
Investigators say the small plane experienced unspecified mechanical issues when it made a "safe, controlled" landing in a field between Route 2 and I-89, shortly after 3 p.m. yesterday.
The pilot was Kyle Clark, of Underhill, the founder of electric aircraft startup Beta Technologies. Both Clark and a passenger were unhurt.
Another pilot for Beta survived a fiery wreck last month, when the helicopter he was piloting crashed on the Colchester Causeway. That pilot experienced minor injuries.
The two incidents both involved conventional gas-powered aircraft. Beta's experimental electric aircraft were not involved.
- Matthew Smith
Elodie Reed compiled and edited this post.