Southern #Vermont Economy & Connectivity events

Please share this information and I hope you will attend any events that can fit into your schedules.

Southern Vermont Economy Zone CEDS: Windham and Bennington County are fast approaching the finalization of a plan to grow the economy which over 700 of our fellow Southern Vermonters have contributed to. You can read more about that process here, and there are public meetings across Southern Vermont tomorrow and Thursday.

Consolidated hearing: There are significant telecommunications events happening in Southern Vermont in the coming month – one is a hearing by the Public Utility Commission on Consolidated Communications.  After a significant increase in repair and new service complaints this summer, the Department of Public Service petitioned for an  investigation to be conducted. There will be two hearings statewide – one in Readsboro at the school on November 26th starting at 6:30 and another in St Albans at BF Academy on December 6th at 6:30. Please share this information with your neighbors and ask them to attend or file comments with the PUC on case #18-3231 if they have experienced a service quality or new installation issue. It seems likely that Vermont’s policymakers are not aware of the extent of the service quality issues, or the results of the billions of dollars of deferred maintenance. While we all want to see more internet and cellular service, unreliable land line phone service in areas without cell or internet poses significant dangers for vulnerable populations and public safety.

Connectivity Summit: The Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation’s Southern Vermont Economy Project has organized a 2nd Annual Southern Vermont Connectivity Summit.The event will take place at the Grand Summit in Dover, VT from 1pm-4pm on Friday November 30th. This event is geared towards town manager, town administrators, select board members and town organized committees but is free and open to interested members of the public. Content is structured to assist communities or groups of communities in improving their overall connectivity through planning and collaboration. Sarah Lang is the SVEP Manager and can be reached at slang@brattleborodevelopment.com or 802-257-7731 ext. 222

CEDS times of public input follow: 

Brattleboro Public Input
Wednesday November 14, 2018 | 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM EDT
Education Conference Center * Brattleboro Retreat * Brattleboro

Bellows Falls Public Input
Wed November 14, 2018 | 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT
Lower Theater * 7 Square * Town of Rockingham, VT 05101

Wilmington Public Input Session
Thursday November 15th, 2018   |  8:00 AM – 10:00 AM EDT
Old School Library  *   School Street  *   Wilmington, VT 05363

Bennington Public Input Session
Thursday November, 15th 2018 | 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDT
Masonic Lodge * 504 Main Street * Bennington, VT 05201

Manchester Public Input Session
Thursday November 15th, 2018  |   6:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT
Manchester Town Hall   *  6039 Main Street  *   Manchester, VT 05255

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#Vermont Office of Veterans Affairs

Many services for our veterans can be found at the Vermont Office of Veterans Affairs website. This includes presumptive illnesses, educational benefits, traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder. A link to the 24 crisis hotline can also be found on the page.
— Read on veterans.vermont.gov/

Rep. Sibilia: Voting, PUC hearings on Consolidated Communications

Good evening/morning,
Election day is Tuesday, November 6th. You must be registered to vote in the town you currently reside in. In Vermont you can register the day of the election. Information on Vermont’s voting laws is available on the Secretary of State’s website.
This year, we have contested elections for U.S. Senator, U.S. Congress, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor and State Senate. I am running uncontested for re-election to represent you in the House of Representatives and ask for your vote. You may write in a name for any office. Just about every election in Vermont we are reminded that the individuals vote counts a lot. Many races have been won with one or two votes and a number of statewide elections have not resulted in a candidate receiving a majority of the votes and required the legislature to choose the winner. Please vote!
Dover Town Hall                              7:00 AM
Readsboro Central School            10:00 AM
Searsburg Town Clerks Office     10:00 AM
Stamford Elementary School          8:00 AM
Wardsboro Town Office                  9:00 AM
Whitingham Municipal Center     10:00 AM
All polls close at 7:00 PM
Results will be posted as they come in at the Secretary of State’s elections results web page.
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Consolidated Communications hearings
 
Southern Vermont: READSBORO November 26th 
Northern Vermont: SAINT ALBANS December 6th
Time and locations TBD 
 
The Vermont Department of Public Service has petitioned the Vermont Public Utilities commission for an investigation into the service quality provided by Consolidated Communications, Inc. In seeking the investigation, the Department noted that the number of consumer complaints received from Consolidated customers related to service outages between July and September of 2018 has increased by 2,760% over the same period in the previous year and that the number of complaints related to installation delays between July and September of 2018 has increased 500% over the same period in 2017. The Department has been conducting an informal inquiry into the complaints and Consolidated is cooperating with the inquiry.
Please share: I personally have received multiple reports of elderly, handicapped or geographically isolated customers safety having been compromised by service quality issues (5 and 10 day repair times for instance). It is important for state regulators to understand the magnitude of the service quality challenges. If you have experienced poor quality telephone service, lengthy repair or installation times please consider testifying in person or you can provide testimony online at the Vermont Public Utility Commission Online Portal for case #18-3231-PET
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Act 46 news 
The State Board of Education has recently accepted the Secretary of Education recommendations for the Searsburg and Stamford Interstate District Alternative Structure proposals. Many many thanks for the countless hours both groups have put forward on behalf of their students and taxpayers in order to fulfill their districts obligations under Act 46.
Congratulations to the new River Valleys Unified School District board  for their recent award from BCTV: Municipal Partner of the Year.

“River Valleys Unified School District Board was created last summer following the unification of Dover and Wardsboro School Districts under Act 46. The River Valleys USD Board turned to BCTV to video its bi-weekly meetings as a way to engage and provide transparency. And, in fact, thanks to the board’s promotional efforts, most of the meetings have received hundreds of views.

‘It’s gratifying to get so many views, and critical that those who can’t attend can get the full flavor of the somewhat complex process,” said Board Chair Richard Werner. “In addition, it’s been a benefit to all of us to be able to review the videos as work progresses.'”

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Open enrollment period is November 1 through December 15th more info 
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Highlights from this summer/fall
 
Ditch School in Wardsboro with Gary Urbanati
 
Readsboro meeting w/Agency of Digital Services & Department of Public Service
 

Community forums in Wardsboro, Dover, Readsboro and Stamford & healthcare forum in Whitingham

Toured Great River Hydro Facilities 

Attended dedication of 
Gold Star Families Memorial
State Board of Education Act 46 Alternative Structures Hearing
 
Grew a contender for World’s Smallest Gilfeather Turnip


A Historic Gathering of Independents at the #UniteSummit
Attended and spoke at: A Historic Gathering of Independents at the #UniteSummit in Denver


Listened to this excellent VPR Podcast series on Jack Sawyer and Vermont’s gun debate


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These posts have been made to my website and to social media since the end of the 2018 session

 Opportunity: #Vermont Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) program

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Please stay engaged and stay in touch via email lhsibilia@gmail.com or phone 802-384-0233. If you’d like to receive updates from my blog as they are posted please check out www.laurasibiliavt.com.
Laura
Rep. Laura Sibilia
State Representative
Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham

In defense of the most politically diverse legislative body in the country #vtpoli

It feels like our nation is collectively holding its breath waiting for election day and praying for some check on this dangerous Presidency.

In the whole course of history, it has never been true that one party had a monopoly on good ideas, common sense, or the pulse of the people. One party controlling the House, Senate and Executive Branch does not make for good government for all Americans. Particularly when that party elects to work in a partisan manner, because they can, and disregards a large portion of the electorate. Including, especially, the 40% of independent Americans who don’t consider themselves partisan at all. We desperately need a check on the Republicans in Washington D.C. who have failed to limit the self-proclaimed nationalist occupying the Oval Office and so count me in as hopeful we will see a strong blue wave roll into D.C. on November 6th.

Screenshot 2018-10-29 11.08.52 (2)
The Deeper Dig: In search of a supermajority  Oct 26 2018 By Mike Dougherty

Americans and Vermonters don’t like how things work under an unchecked super-majority. They want leaders who will compromise, collaborate and work to solve problems, but our country’s two-party system does not readily reward that type of governing. Nonetheless, Vermonters historically have been comfortable taking a different way than the rest of the country, and thus far we seem to have staved off the worst of the increasingly alarming partisan dysfunction.

In the last election Vermonters sent divided government to Montpelier: a moderate and

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Modeling bipartisanship for Vermont students: Democratic Speaker of the House Mitzi Johnson and Republican Representative Heidi Scheuermann breaking from last year’s heavily contested budget debate (for multiple false fire alarms) give an impromptu bipartisan civics lesson.

courageous Republican governor, a Progressive Democratic Senate and the most politically diverse legislative body in the country,  the Vermont House of Representatives led by a Democratic Speaker of The House who operates on the premise that including all voices and parties ensures better problem solving. Speaker Mitzi Johnson has presided over a body that included the most elected centrist independents in the country, independents like Ben Jickling of Brookfield and Ed Read of Fayston who help the Democratic majority craft and pass more balanced legislation, and moderate Democrats like Rural Economic Development Working Group Co-Chair Chip Conquest of Newbury and socially moderate/fiscally conservative Republicans like Heidi Scheuermann of Stowe and Fred Baser of Bristol as well as seven elected Progressives. There is no other legislative body in the country that houses this many different political parties and elected centrist independents.

The resulting implementation and creation of Vermont policy is managed by a governor willing to buck the national Republican party and also willing to veto the democratically controlled legislature and a House of Representatives with a political prejudice towards the center.  This divided government set-up, while uncomfortable for the most partisan Vermonters and party leaders, and more reliant on the threat of gubernatorial veto than would be needed with a more politically diverse Senate, actually works fairly well. There is always room for improvement, but not by wiping out bipartisan collaboration.

Which brings us back to the national election and that big blue wave that looks like it could be a tsunami in Vermont. Vermonters are also Americans and Americans are scared about where we are headed with our national politics. We are seeing voluminous early voter turn-out in the Green Mountain state and reports from door to door canvassing that there is a strong desire to punish national Republicans for not providing a check on our self-proclaimed nationalist president. Hopefully Vermonters direct their anger precisely and not generally. If you are currently being represented by a centrist independent, a moderate Republican or Democrat, think long and hard before opting to punish our president by punishing those moderates who commit to bipartisanship function and political courage in Vermont. It takes courage to run and serve without a party and it also takes courage to tell your party no.  Hopefully the “blue wave” is able to bring a check to Washington without taking out moderates in Vermont. We need balanced and knowledgeable legislators to get things done. This is a reminder that your vote is not just symbolic.

The entire telecommunications industry is suing #Vermont for taking action on #NetNeutrality

The lawsuit follows below.

The question is whether or not Vermont’s governor and legislature are federally preempted from taking action on issues of connectivity as it relates to the Net Neutrality issue.

The House Committee in Energy and Technology on which I serve spent much of the last session working on this legislation.

www.americancable.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/181018-Complaint-with-Exhibits-1-5-ECF-Stamped.pdf

#Vermont Veterans: small business ownership and development opportunities

The U.S. Small Business Administration would like to help Veterans, Service Members and their families start or grow a business.

On November 8 during National Veteran Small Business Week, the Vermont District Office of the SBA is hosting an event to learn more about owning a small business. The event will go over specific services and programs available to service-connected individuals interested in business ownership.

The event will be held at the Langevin House in Randolph, which is part of the Vermont Technical College (VTC) campus.  There will be three workshops; Government Contracting and Veteran Certifications, Exploring Business Ownership, and a Financing Panel that will go over specifics on getting money to start or grow a business.  Lunch will be provided, and there will be business advisors on site to do one-on-one meetings during and after lunch.

The event is free, but registration is required athttp//www.sbavt.eventbrite.com