Vermont’s congressional delegation has raised concerns about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision to move the state’s Farmers to Families contract, part of a pandemic program that helps feed people in need, from a Vermont-based food distributor to two out-of-state companies.
In a letter sent Friday to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch questioned the decision to give the contract to Boston’s Costa Fruit & Produce and Texas-based Sysco Foods. Earlier in the pandemic, two rounds of the program’s Vermont contracts...
All of Vermont’s mail-in ballots for the 2020 general election have been shipped, according to the Secretary of State’s office. It’s the first time all registered active voters in the state have been automatically mailed a ballot, a precaution aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 at polling places.
Vermonters can still vote in person on Nov. 3. But starting now, voters can also return completed ballots by mail, or drop them off with their town clerk. The Secretary of State’s office recommends mailing ballots back by Oct. 24, or returning them to town clerks before Election Day.
MIDDLEBURY — A Middlebury College student has filed a federal lawsuit against his school for failing to provide refunds on tuition and fees after the campus was shut down last spring due to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Henry Mooers, a senior from Norwell, Mass., is seeking to turn his legal action into a class action lawsuit on behalf of an estimated 2,517 Middlebury students, according to the U.S. District Court records in Burlington.
Middlebury has failed to refund any amount of tuition or any of the mandatory fees even though it canceled classes for two weeks in conjunction with spring...
ADDISON COUNTY — When state leaders convened a COVID-19 recovery forum in Addison County in September, two major themes emerged: Local networks are strong, but fatigue is setting in.
“I think there was real excitement about how hard we’ve all worked together,” said WomenSafe Executive Director Kerri Duquette-Hoffman, who attended the Sept. 17 forum and spoke to the Independent afterward. “But it’s like playing Whac-a-Mole. We move from crisis to crisis. A lot of people are putting in a lot of extra effort, but this isn’t sustainable for the long haul.”
The Zoom forum was organized by the...
MIDDLEBURY — A Middlebury College employee has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a campus-wide email Monday morning.
“Our colleague is recuperating in isolation and is doing well,” wrote Director of Health Services Mark Peluso. “At this time, transmission risk to students and coworkers is considered very low due to the situational circumstances.”
This is the third positive test in the college community since students began arriving for the fall semester, and the first confirmed case among staff or faculty since then.
Another employee had tested positive and recovered before the...
ADDISON COUNTY — Tuesday’s announcement by Secretary of Education Daniel French that Vermont schools would move on Saturday into Step 3 of their pandemic reopening will not necessarily mean immediate changes, but schools will have more options on the table that could soon be put in place.
The most immediate effect will be the resumption of interscholastic sports competition this weekend.
The most dramatic impact over the next few weeks could be a push to return kindergarten through 6th grade to full-time, in-person learning.
In his televised remarks, French emphasized the decision to do so...
MIDDLEBURY— Governor Phil Scott and Lindsay Kurrle, Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, recently announced the distribution of $2.5 million in federal CARES Act funding for Restart Vermont Technical Assistance. This funding will deliver robust support to Vermont businesses impacted by the economic downturn due to COVID-19. The funding, allocated by the Vermont General Assembly in Act 137, leverages existing statewide and regional assets to reach a broad range of companies in every sector and region.
The Regional Development Corporations of Vermont (RDCs of VT)...
MONTPELIER — With the seventh month of the coronavirus pandemic approaching, the lenders who helped thousands of Vermont businesses obtain Paycheck Protection Plan loans last winter are now delving into the business of seeing those loans converted to grants.
About 12,740 Vermont businesses received loans worth $1.2 billion from the PPP, a program Congress and the U.S. Treasury put together in the early days of the pandemic in March to assist businesses hurt by the economic shutdown intended to prevent the spread of the virus. The PPP, part of the $2 trillion federal coronavirus relief bill,...
MIDDLEBURY — COVID-19 will try to impersonate the Grinch during the upcoming holiday season, but the nonprofit organization Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects (HOPE) is committed to providing free Christmas treats to children in low-income households even though the pandemic is forcing it to suspend its seasonal gift shop.
HOPE has historically hosted the holiday gift shop at its headquarters at 282 Boardman St. in Middlebury. Coordinated by Kate Selby and staffed by several tireless volunteers, the shop has received, sorted and displayed a myriad of gift options for children up to age 18 who...
MIDDLEBURY — The Vermont Community Foundation announced five key recovery initiatives that will be the focus of upcoming grant rounds from the VT COVID-19 Response Fund. Since the fund’s inception, the Community Foundation has granted over $2.6 million to support pandemic response, while earmarking a significant portion of the more than $7.4 million raised to support initiatives that the foundation has identified as essential to help the state recover from — and improve upon — major challenges magnified by the pandemic.
“In the last six months, Vermont has witnessed more disruption than many...