Sector Systems, a provider of organization-wide software solutions for nonprofits, in partnership with the New England Network for Youth, Child and Family Services, a nonprofit organization that works collaboratively with child and youth service organizations in New England to strengthen social services and promote best practices, have announced a collaborative effort to help child- and youth-serving agencies effectively collect, analyze and report their outcomes to their funders and the communities they serve.Both organizations will promote NEN’s ImProve, a pioneering organizational development tool that identifies and tracks outcomes by recording participant achievements. Tracking outcomes enables agencies to create integrated information management plans that can measure clients’ incremental progress. Those outcomes help agencies retain existing funding, gain additional funding, and share their clients’ achievements with their community. ImProve is implemented using Third Sector Systems’ database technology.“As pressure has mounted on agencies to demonstrate positive outcomes, they’ve struggled to develop outcome measurement tools that work. Several strong methodologies have been developed, but many of them have not been implemented because agencies haven’t had a database flexible enough to accommodate them,” said Melanie Goodman, Executive Director of NEN. “Third Sector Systems enabled us to incorporate ImProve into Mission Maestro and produce the kind of reports agencies need to evaluate their programs, satisfy their funders and constituents. I am thrilled to offer such an innovative solution to our members and other agencies.”“Agencies’ ability to show how dollars from individuals, foundations and government agencies are turned into measurable results is crucial to their survival,” said Yves Gonnet, founder and CEO of Third Sector Systems. “Together, NEN and Third Sector Systems will show agencies that a solution to the problem they have been struggling with finally exists.”Third Sector Systems (www.thirdsectorsystems.com(link is external)) provides integrated organization-wide software solutions that connect all departments of nonprofit organizations. Third Sector Systems also provides free fundraising software to nonprofits at www.firstchair.com(link is external). Third Sector Systems has offices in Waterbury, VT and New York, NY.The New England Network for Youth, Child and Family Services (www.nenetwork.org(link is external)) is the training and networking center of choice for over 100 public and private child, youth and family service agencies throughout the region, with headquarters in Burlington Vermont and offices throughout New England.
Month: January 2021
BURLINGTON, Vt–Champlain College has named longtime faculty member Dr. Robin Abramson as its new provost. Abramson has been with Champlain College for 12 years, serving as interim provost since October 2006, and previously as an interim dean and the College’s math and science coordinator. She has also been an associate professor of biology and the director of Champlain’s former overseas program in Israel.In her new role as the chief academic officer at Champlain, Abramson will provide leadership for internal operations to ensure the delivery of a first-class academic experience. The College is a leader in educating students to become skilled practitioners, effective professionals and global citizens.”The broad support that Dr. Abramson enjoys among faculty and staff, as well as our high confidence in her many skills, have led me to conclude that she is the best possible person to take on this role,” said Champlain College President David F. Finney. “It is especially gratifying to be able to offer this position to a longtime member of our community.” Abramson has served as chair of Champlain’s Curriculum Committee and, more recently, as a member of the Core Curriculum Steering Committee.Abramson earned a doctorate in cell and molecular biology from the University of Vermont and her undergraduate degree in biology from State University of New York at Binghamton. Her research work has included a postdoctoral research fellowship for the American Heart Association of Vermont, a National Institutes of Health Predoctoral Environmental Pathology Research Training Grant, and a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the National Cancer Institute’s Frederick Cancer Research Facility.
Founded in 1959 as Baden s House of Trophies the company s primary focus was on bowling trophies. The company expanded into commercial engraving as Vermont Industrial Engravers and finally settled on Vermont Trophy & Engraving in 1973, since becoming the largest recognition manufacturer in the region. The company s motto is Recognition is Respect Made VisibleCurrent owners, Steve & Margi Swett, bought the business from Roger and Bobbi Merchant in July 1996, after many years in the corporate sector. Our initial interest in the business stemmed from its reputation for quality. The value we wanted to add was an expanded focus on customer service and relationship building – over the past 13 years our base of repeat and corporate customers has grown significantly, so we feel that was a pretty good business model, said Steve Swett.
A survey conducted by Opinion Dynamics for the New England Energy Alliance found New Englanders favor market-based approaches to limit greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency by a significant margin in comparison to government regulation and mandates. There also seems to be no inclination to roll back electricity industry restructuring as a very significant 78% of survey respondents at least somewhat favor consumer choice and competition for electricity.78% say they favor competition in the electricity industryHistorically, electricity was delivered by regulated electric utility companies that acted like monopolies. They were mandated by state regulators to build and operate generating plants, as well as deliver electricity to homes and businesses. The New England states, however, were among the first in the nation to restructure electricity markets beginning in the late 1990s. In short, most electric utilities were required to sell their generating plants and allow unregulated privately-owned generation companies to compete in a deregulated wholesale marketplace. The utilities, now known as “local distribution companies”, deliver electricity and remain state regulated.A key goal of restructuring was to provide consumers with “choice” — the option to purchase electricity from competitive suppliers. All the New England states, with the exception of Vermont, introduced competition into retail markets.Ten years after restructuring, 78% of New Englanders are at least somewhat in favor of the concept of having consumer choice in the purchase of electricity — with 45% strongly in favor. This support remains unchanged over the past year.The concept of consumer choice is favored fairly equally across political party lines, but especially among independent voters — 81% favor the concept of consumer choice in the purchase of electricity compared to about 77% of Democrats and Republicans. Importantly, there were no major geographical differences of opinion among voters — with at least 74% favoring competition in each state.As is the case with many major public policy initiatives like electricity industry restructuring, once they are in place for just a few years, they become accepted “tradition” — no matter how “radical” they may have seemed at the outset.A number of independent studies (as well as one by the New England Energy Alliance in 2006) have shown that electricity industry restructuring has helped to better protect the environment through increased generating efficiency, and provided consumers with substantial savings compared to pre-restructuring trends.Almost 50% believe the marketplace will provide needed infrastructure without government interventionShortly after New England restructured its electricity industry in 1999, significant progress was made in expanding the region’s electricity infrastructure. An unprecedented 10,000 Megawatts of new generation was added, increasing the region’s electricity supply by 30%. Soon thereafter, construction of new generation slowed because the marketplace lacked appropriate financial incentives to attract long-term investment.As a result, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) charged ISO New England (the region’s independent operator of the electricity grid) with developing a market-based approach to ensuring adequate investment in infrastructure. Prior to restructuring, state government agencies played a key role in mandating an adequate supply of electricity.ISO New England, with industry stakeholder participation, created a competitive market structure — called the Forward Capacity Market (FCM) — that provides economic incentives through an auction process to attract investment in new and existing resources in New England. The region’s first FCM auction was held in February, 2008.Almost half of the survey respondents (47%) believe the competitive marketplace will provide adequate financial incentives to spur investment in new generating plants and infrastructure projects. On the other hand, a little over a third (36%) believe ensuring an adequate electricity supply is too important to be left to market forces alone — and should be the responsibility of government agencies as well.Many also favor market-based approaches to electricity efficiency and emissions reductionNew Englanders were also asked which of the following three approaches would be the best option to decrease the amount of electricity we use:Mandated government programs paid by all consumersMarkets should be allowed to workGovernment standards for appliancesGovernment mandated programs were weakly supported by just 15% of the respondents. The other two choices were even at about 34%. Interestingly, when they are added together, these two choices (which could as a practical matter be easily implemented together) come close to the super majority that favors consumer choice and competition. This suggests that consumers favor government efficiency standards (which have been in place for decades) but want them implemented by the marketplace so that they have choice and competition.In terms of the environment, less that a third favor government mandates to limit greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generating plants through the imposition of taxes and increasingly tougher mandates that a generating plant would have to comply with or face shutdown. Instead, the majority of New Englanders support a market-based approach that uses profit as a motive for companies to invent, improve, or acquire a way to cost-effectively and flexibly reduce their emissions.About New England Energy Alliance, Inc.The New England Energy Alliance is a coalition of energy providers and trade organizations concerned about future energy supplies.The annual telephone survey was conducted by Opinion Dynamics for the New England Energy Alliance in January of 600 registered voters (consumers) proportionately distributed throughout New England. The margin of error is +/- 4%.
Governor Jim Douglas today announced that he has appointed 27 year veteran lawmaker Richard Westman of Cambridge to head Vermont’s Tax Department and former Caledonia County Senator and current Director of the Agency of Transportation Rail Division Robert Ide to head the Motor Vehicles Department.Rich Westman, a native Vermonter from Cambridge has represented the towns of Cambridge, Belvidere and Waterville in the General Assembly for 27 years. Westman will step down to head the state’s Department of Taxes. Westman will also leave his job at the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation where he has served for ten years as the Director of the Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan. He takes over from Tom Pelham, who will become deputy Administration secretary.“Rich’s dedicated service in the Legislature, his vast knowledge of our budget and tax structure are invaluable to Vermont at this time,” said Governor Douglas. “As we struggle through this difficult economic time, Rich will be a great resource and valuable leader at the Tax Department.”“It has been an honor to server the people of Cambridge, Waterville and Belvidere in the Legislature,” said Westman. “I value the many longstanding relationships I’ve made in the State House both with the staff as well as my colleagues in the Legislature and hope to continue my work with them in this new role. I do look forward to working for Governor Douglas and will do the best I can to serve all Vermonters.”Rob Ide is also a native Vermonter from Caledonia County was for ten years a State Senator where he served on the Appropriations and Transportation Committees. Ide was tapped by Governor Douglas shortly after taking office in 2003 to serve as Vermont’s Director of Energy Efficiency and now serves as the Director of the Agency of Transportation’s Rail Division. He takes over from Bonnie Rutledge, who has retired.“Rob has been a valuable member of my team since I first took office,” said Governor Douglas. “Rob’s transportation and management expertise will be a valuable asset at the Department of Motor Vehicles.”“It has been a real privilege to serve Vermonters both as a Senator and in the Douglas Administration,” said Ide. “I’m very much looking forward to this new challenge and building on the very good work that is already being done in the Department.”Richard Westman Bio:Richard Westman was born on March 13, 1959. He was born into a family that has been on the same land since the 1790’s. He spent his childhood and young adulthood working in the barn on his family’s farm.Rich was educated at Cambridge Elementary School and Lamoille Union High School. He graduated from Johnson State College with a major in Political Science.At 21, Rich he ran for the Legislature but lost. At 23, encouraged by Henry Manchester, he ran his second race for the Vermont House and was elected. He has served in the Vermont House for 27 years. He has served under both Republican and Democratic Governors and Legislative leaders, and has served through several economic ups and downs. Rich served on many Committees: Fish and Wildlife, Natural Resources, Government Operations, General and Military, Health and Welfare, Municipal Corporations and Elections, Judiciary, Rules, Joint Rules, and Joint Fiscal. He has been Vice-Chair and Chair of Appropriations, and has just completed five years as Chair of Transportation. In the Republican House Caucus he has served as Assistant Leader and Leader.In 1999, Rich went to work at the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC), becoming the Director of the Vermont Higher Education Investment Plan. He helped launch the plan which, over the past 10 years, has grown to almost $100 million, giving hundreds of Vermont parents and grandparents a way to save for their children’s and grandchildren’s college education.In addition to his service in the Legislature, Rich has also served on a number of Boards, including as a University of Vermont Trustee, Copley Hospital Board, Lamoille Home Health and Hospice, the Campaign to End Childhood Hunger, the Second Congregational UCC church in Jeffersonville, and the Vermont Center for the Book.One of Rich’s proudest achievements was helping to ensure that the Smugglers Notch State Park and reconstructed Conservation Corps campground, was dedicated to the memory of Red Hooper.Robert Ide Bio:Robert Ide is a seventh generation Caledonia County resident. He was born in St. Johnsbury and raised in Danville. Ide is a graduate of Danville High School, Vermont Technical College, and the University of Vermont. He was employed in his family’s feed and grain business in St. Johnsbury, where he was President of the corporation during the divestiture of the Ide family feed stores.Rob has served his town, country and state in a number of capacities. He served as Selectman for the town of St. Johnsbury.In 1992 was elected to the State Senate, a position he held until March of 2003. While serving in the Vermont Senate, Rob was a member of both the Transportation, and Appropriations Committees. At the time he left the Senate, he was the Vice Chairman of both committees.In 1994, Rob was elected by his legislative colleagues to a four-year term on the Board of Trustees of the Vermont State College System. He has a life long commitment to learning and was instrumental in coining the phrase, “first generation Vermont college student.”Ide stepped down from the Senate in order to accept the appointment as Vermont’s Director of Energy Efficiency in the administration of Governor James Douglas. In June 2008, Rob transferred from the Department of Public Service to head the Rail Division of the Vermont Agency of Transportation.Rob and his wife Martha Ide now reside in Peacham. They are the parents of two adult children, Jacob of Richmond, VT, and Elizabeth of Washington DC. They have one grandchild.Source: Governor’s office. July 24, 2009.
During a meeting with business leaders in Johnson on Wednesday morning, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez announced that the Vermont Electrical Cooperative (VEC) will receive an $11.2 million Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant. Dave Hallquist, CEO of VEC, said the new investment would improve electricity reliability and telecommunications access in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.“This grant award provides VEC with the opportunity to improve reliability and expand the broadband infrastructure for Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom,” said Dave Hallquist, CEO of VEC. “This project will make the region more attractive to new businesses, while strengthening the economic climate for existing businesses, like the furniture industry. Additional benefits will include increased border security and improved service in northern New Hampshire.”“This is a two-part victory for the Northeast Kingdom – improved electricity reliability and an enhanced broadband backbone that will expand the smart grid and broadband access,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, who assisted VEC with its grant application. “The current lines and poles are extremely vulnerable to severe weather, like the heavy snow that fell last week. When an electrical system is vulnerable, so are the people who depend on it — whether we are talking about job-creating furniture manufacturers or Vermonters who need electricity to heat their homes.” Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch also support the project.VEC officials explained the funds will upgrade 5.2 miles of transmission lines and 26 miles of distribution lines, including poles and lines along Vermont Route 102. These routes will connect customers in the Northeast Kingdom to Vermont’s power system and provide redundancy to customers in Coos County, New Hampshire. The funds will also be used to replace a 1920’s-era steel tower line. In addition, VEC will also install fiber optic cables to expand VEC’s existing smart grid system and expand future broadband capabilities in Northeast Kingdom communities. Source: VEC. 5.5.2010
Burlington Telecom,By Kevin Kelley, Vermont Business Magazine. Burlington Telecom appears to have little chance of surviving its debt crisis as a city-owned utility. But some financial experts say it’s possible BT could work a deal leaving the city with at least a minority stake in a reconfigured, non-profit ownership arrangement.Such a set-up would keep the advanced fiber-optic network in place as a local alternative to Comcast and other private, for-profit telecom businesses. And that’s an outcome many Burlington politicians ‘ not just Progressives ‘ say they favor.The administration of Mayor Bob Kiss, which has remained relentlessly optimistic throughout the crisis, suggests that salvation for BT could be forthcoming from private-equity firms and/or in-state telecom operations with which it is holding talks. Springfield-based VTel, the recipient of $116 million in federal stimulus funds, has already offered to lend BT equipment to replace what must be returned to BT’s private creditor, CitiCapital. Following last month’s breakdown of negotiations on the $33.5 million BT owes CitiCapital, the lender indicated it intends to repossess the telecom infrastructure it had financed.But that may not be the last word from CitiCapital, suggests Burlington Chief Administrative Officer Jonathan Leopold. He says talks between the city and the lender have not ceased. Leopold suggests some sort of financial agreement with CitiCapital might yet emerge.BT owes an additional $17 million that it also cannot repay. That’s the amount it borrowed from a city cash pool, allegedly beginning six years ago, in violation of an agreement BT had signed with state regulators. Burlington Telecom, city government and Chief Administrative Officer Jonathan Leopold are all targeted in a civil suit seeking payback of the $17 million to taxpayers.Given the track record of BT’s management, it’s not clear how the utility can hope to raise the $50 million needed to clear its debts. Burlington Telecom also needs additional millions to complete the buildout of its system and to conduct a marketing campaign that might enable it to corral more than its current total of 4700 customers. BT has, in essence, spent more than $10,000 to reach and service each of the homes and businesses using its network.The utility has also incurred $625,000 in expenses for the services of lawyers and consultants during the past 18 months. According to a memo to two city councilors from Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Scott Schrader’first reported by SevenDays columnist Shay Totten in a December 22 blog posting’the costs included $227,795 paid from the city’s general fund to the consulting firm Dorman & Fawcett for its representation of BT in the apparently unsuccessful negotiations with CitiCapital. Dorman & Fawcett have been paid another $76,000 for overseeing BT’s operations.Even if financial stability were somehow achieved, BT could still face penalties from the state for violating at least three conditions of its operating license, known as a certificate of public good. In addition to failing to repay borrowed city funds within 60 days, BT is out of compliance with a condition stipulating that the entire city be given access to its network. And an auditing firm retained by the state Public Service Department suggested last month that BT violated another condition by providing discounted telecom services to city departments.BT and city officials are looking to incoming Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, as a potential source of help. BT’s mess is probably not something Shumlin wants to get involved in, however. At the same time, he has expressed concern about the utility’s contamination of the credit rating of Vermont’s largest city. BT’s problems have also helped drag down the scores for Burlington International Airport and the municipally owned Burlington Electric Department. ‘I would anticipate that’s the beginning of a trend and not the end of a trend,’ Shumlin told Vermont Public Radio in regard to Moody’s Investors Service’s downgrading of the city’s rating.The governor-elect’s choice as his public service commissioner also does not appear eager to press for a bail out of BT. Liz Miller, a Burlington attorney with no experience in telecom regulation, called the audit’s critical findings ‘troubling.’ Miller added that Burlington taxpayers and ratepayers should be protected financially.Even though she may not be sympathetic to BT’s plight, Miller is still viewed by the Kiss administration and its allies as a potential improvement over Gov. James Douglas’ public service commissioner, David O’Brien. Progressives argue that BT’s troubles were worsened due to what amounted to a political vendetta carried out by O’Brien, a Republican.Then-City Councilor Marissa Caldwell, a Progressive, denounced O’Brien a few months ago as ‘a political hack.’ She charged the he and Douglas ‘only want private telecom in the state. He is out to get rid of the competition for private companies. That’s very clear.’As BT slid into financial disarray, some Progressives contended that the public utility’s options had been deliberately circumscribed by state regulators in an effort to ‘protect Comcast.’ It is argued, for example, that BT was being set up to fail because of the state’s refusal to give it access to public funds. One figure knowledgeable about BT’s history, who does not want his name used because of ties to city and state officials, sees irony in BT’s being fenced-off from taxpayer financing while VTel has gotten more than $100 million in taxpayer funds to build a telecom network for parts of Vermont lacking broadband connections.Those making such points do acknowledge, however, that BT agreed to abide by all the state’s conditions and then failed to do so.Kiss himself has not gone as far as some Progressives in blaming the Douglas administration for BT’s troubles, but he did take an indirect swipe at O’Brien in a response last month to the state-commissioned audit of BT. Carried out by the Michigan firm of Larkin and Associates, the audit ‘lacks credibility,’ Kiss said. ‘It is dated, incomplete and contains numerous omissions. This report has been characterized as independent, which is not true,’ Kiss added. ‘In reality, it was prepared for the Department of Public Service and David O’Brien in the context of an adversarial proceeding.’O’Brien incensed BT’s defenders by stating that the utility is ‘not viable’ ‘ a comment they took as an attempt to sabotage BT’s efforts to obtain new financing. The commissioner has also singled out the Kiss administration for strong criticism, charging that its officials ‘put their interests before the interests of the taxpayers.’For his part, Kiss specifically criticized the Larkin report on the grounds that the firm’s investigators had not bothered to talk with city officials or with a consulting firm retained by the city to manage BT.Some Progressives have also accused Burlington Democrats of wanting to wreck BT. They point to the City Council’s refusal a year ago to allow BT to move ahead in negotiating a $61.6 million loan on offer from Piper Jaffray, a Minneapolis investment firm. Council Democrats argued at the time that caution was the right response to any BT borrowing request, given the emerging dimensions of its financial problems.A commentary written in March 2010 by longtime Progressive activist and attorney John Franco accused the Democrats of ‘bloodlust.’ They were determined, Franco said, ‘to settle old scores with the Progressives that date back to Bernie Sanders’ upset victory in 1981.’ Franco’s broadside, published in SevenDays, said Democrats on the City Council ‘led a withering campaign against BT that went on for months, seemingly unmindful that BT is their own startup business.’Everything might still have turned out OK for Burlington Telecom, some of it defenders add, had it not been for the global financial crisis. The meltdown struck just as BT found itself in need of new borrowing. But the needed funds could not be found due to the freeze-up of equity markets, Leopold has said.The Larkin audit report implies, however, that BT has never been in sound financial shape.The utility was hobbled from the outset by delays in building its network and launching its services, which did not formally become available until May 2006 ‘ six years after Burlington voters had reaffirmed their approval of a city-owned telecom operation.BT began dipping into city accounts in 2005 during the mayoralty of Peter Clavelle, a Progressive ally. By September of that year the utility was out of compliance with the state condition requiring it to repay borrowed municipal funds within two months, the audit found.BT’s original manager, Tim Nulty, wrote in an online commentary on December 21 that there was nothing unusual about a capital-intensive investment, such as a telecom network, failing to break even in its first couple of years of operation. Nulty argued, however, that BT was fixed on a course toward profitability by the time he resigned in October 2007. ‘BT’s failure to reach profitability in early 2009 as originally projected had nothing to do with flaws in its business plan and everything to do with flaws in management after I left,’ Nulty maintained.His commentary did not address the allegation in the auditors’ report that Burlington Telecom had violated a condition of its licensing agreement during his tenure as its manager.A declaration of bankruptcy is a recourse often followed by entities with financial troubles as acute as those hounding BT. That option too is apparently unavailable to the beleaguered utility, however. Because it is city-owned, Burlington itself would have to declare bankruptcy in order for BT to gain relief from its creditors. And Shumlin and the State Legislature would surely block any move by the Queen City to declare itself unable to pay its debts.