Doing Business in the Northeast Kingdom

NEK chamber thumbnailAround the NEK- For all its scenic beauty, the Northeast Kingdom has not traditionally been the easiest region of the state to start a business in.

But that doesn't mean there aren't opportunities in the area, according to Bill Morison, co-director of Northern Vermont University's Incubator Without Walls, an organization that offers student-supported technical assistance for small businesses in the region.

"It's perhaps not always the easiest place to launch a company, but the entrepreneurial spirit is strong," he said. "And people have a great love for Vermont and for the Northeast Kingdom, and many folks, if they're gonna do it, they're gonna do it right here."

Morison points to a number of companies that are already successful in the area, like Lyndonville's Pizza Man, that he says are well positioned.

"Those kinds of businesses that can cater to the clientele that is available here, particularly that student population, that's a renewable source of revenue," he said.

And he sees new opportunities, thanks to the rise of e-commerce, that weren't available before.

"While some businesses are constrained by the geography and the local economy, others not so much, because they're trying to do this electronically and have a bigger footprint," he explained. "That's a game changer in some ways in terms of who you're trying to sell to and what their capacity is to pay."

Though it works the other way around, too. Darcie McCann, Executive Director of the Northeast Kingdom Chamber of Commerce, notes that physical businesses are now competing against online shops.

"Brick and mortars stores have taken a hit, let's be honest, with Amazon and all the online operations there. So I think our downtowns are having to take a look at what they're doing and doing it a little bit differently and frankly having stores that are a little bit unique to something that you would find online," she said.

Unfortunately, starting an online business can be made difficult by the lack of universal high-speed internet in the rural Northeast Kingdom, says Morison.

"One would hope that we could get over that hurdle sooner rather than later," he said. "I think that would open up the door to a lot more investment and energy and effort in that way."

That's one of the reasons he's excited about the Do North coworking space in Lyndonville. He says entrepreneurs who don't have high-speed internet connectivity at home, or who simply want to be around other people, instead of alone in a home office, can benefit from coworking.

"I think this is an exciting addition to both NVU and to the Lyndon area," he said. "I think it's going to generate a lot of entrepreneurial activity, which is going to be really interesting."

Morison also wants to get the word about the resources available for both people trying to get a business off the ground. With so many different programs around, it can be difficult to know where to turn.

But, he said, "once they get talking to one group, they typically start to learn about all of the other things that are available to them because we're all part of this network."

McCann agrees entrepreneurs should try to connect with groups like iWOW and the Chamber.

"If you're sitting there trying to get off the ground and you don't have any the state and federal programs helping you out," she said, "it makes it very difficult."

And Morison points out that help isn't only available for entrepreneurs -- established businesses can get it as well.

"In spite of the fact that we are the incubator without walls, I would say less than half is with from the ground startup," he said. "Most everything we do, someone's already basically in business, and they've got to the point where they need help to expand or to grow or to improve." 

Vermont Goes Green

go greenThe Northeast Kingdom- Dr. Janel Hanrahan, an associative professor of Atmospheric Sciences said that we know humans are the cause of climate change, and that we have the power to stop it. So local governments, business, and companies are taking noticing and working hard to keep vermont known as the "Green mountain State".  

One of these companies working hard to battle climate is green mountain power. Their current goal will set vermont ahead of many other states and hopes it encourages them to follow suite. GMP wants to show bigger states that going green and carbon free is completely doable and affordable. “There is so much we can accomplish together in Vermont to cut carbon, and at the same time increase reliability for customers in the face of increasingly frequent and severe storms.  The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report makes clear, we have to act now, and take bold steps to cut carbon,” said Mary Power, President and CEO of GMP.

DR. Luce, a professor in the Natural Sciences Department at NVU-Lyndon and Who has years of research on a variety of solar projects thinks that solar is the most effective form of renewable energy. Dr Luce said, "Solar energy is by far the biggest renewable energy resource its capacity its potential capacity is much more than human civilization should ever need hopefully".

The only downside to solar is that the sun goes, and when the sun goes down no more power can be made. Dr. Luce adds, "I still see the biggest barrier is the cost of storage it would be nice if cost of lithium ion battery storage could come down about a factor for. I think things are would take off quite a bit more quickly and I think that will happen what time. It's similar to what what happens with photovoltaic mainly with a scale up of the industry."  

Although storage is not where the market would like it to be, GMP is working hard to reach their goals of a 100% carbon free energy supply by 2025 and 100% renewable energy by 2030. Some towns are even working to reduce utilizes cost and carbon foot print. Chad Whitehead the town manager of St. Johnsbury said, The town has entered into several aftercare agreements for net meter agreements with solar fields, and even trying to get one to be built here in St. Johnsbury because there are some dual purposes there. One it's because they pay taxes and they help off set Municipal taxes. The other one is we get discounts on our electrical usage for those metors that we have with those agreements."

But, even with what looks to be only benefits. Dr. Luce warns us that,"we have to move carefully because if we do this wrong if we implement the wrong types of sources and we don't implement the right types of technologies and we don't create the right types of incentive structures then efforts can backfire."

 

 

 

 

 

Breakout Bakery

breakout picSt. Johnsbury- Darryll rudy and Barbara Edelman have been in town for over a year, putting in everything they have to make food worx enterprises break out bakery come to life. "you know what, i am 75 years old and this is it for me. This is where my heart is and come hell or high water, we are going ot make this happen", said rudy, food Worx' executive director.

According to their website, "the mission of Foodworx enterprises, a non-profit organization, is to enable formerly incarcerated persons to successfully reenter society, supported by sustainable employment. We accomplish this mission through four integrated programs: Bakery/culinary arts training, awake to work and life self-awareness program, basic needs support services, family/community integrated support & services. Applicants are referred to Foodworx enterprises by local and regional agencies and the vt state department of corrections. Foodworx enterprises training and services are available at no cost to participants."

Rudy is model for the non-profit organization based off what a social enterprise is. According to social enterprise alliance, "the concept of a social enterprise has been evolving rapidly in recent years and increasingly blurs the lines of the traditional business, government, and non-profit sectors in hopes of creating a self sufficient organizations that gives back to the community." rudy adds,"so the model to me made sense because you're not always relying on other peoples donations and grants from the state and the county or the city."

This model does come with it challenges though, which have left barb and Darryll still without a functioning bakery to offer their programs. Rudy said, "everybody's on our side. Nobody has ever said, "what are you guys smoking?" everybody's on our side, its just been frustrating that the amount of money that i thought we could raise is taking longer than i thought."once they have the money, the system will become self sustaining. The bakery profits would pay for the labor and bills like a business normally does. Any extra profits would than go to food worx to improve and provide the programs.

These programs are based off similar ones that are already in place and work. The restorative justice center in st. johnsbury offers a program called circles of support and accountability (cosas). "the cosa model consists of two concentric circles of person. The inner circle is comprised of four to six community volunteers and one ex-offer, known as a core member. The outer circle is comprised of secular local professionals (e.G., psychologist, probation officials, law enforcement officers, civic leaders) Who provide operational decision-making for the project in total, much like a board of directors. It is also usually the case the a project will have a coordinator -- a paid staff who manages the day-to-day operations of the project and arrange his training opportunities for cosa volunteers. There may also be additional paid staff, most of whom are part time employees. In the original mcco pilot project in south central ontario, there is a part time coordinator and parentheses usually) Three part time assistance." according the study "circles of support and accountability: An innovative approach to community based-risk management for high-risk sexual offenders."

Debra clark has now been sober for over seven years and after being incarcerated for drug charges she served her sentence and wanted to change. She took part in the cosa program and is now a production manager at a new media company opening up in st. johnsbury. Clark said, "don’t judge right away because we all have a something to offer it’s finding it and having the support and the courage to change your ways." she adds if it was for these kind of programs it would been so much harder to change, "i was so scared to come back to my community and now i hold my head high."

Deb is proof that programs like break out bakery can make a difference, which is why the rudy's are working so hard to make it happen. Barbara said,"well i feel a huge among of responsibility actually to make this thing happen so that it can be therefor them when they they come out."

 

 

 

 

Climate Change Threatens Vermonts Sweetest Industry

Climate changeThe Northeast Kingdom- The maple tapping industry is at risk due to man made climate change, and that could be mean a loss of millions of dollars for Vermont's economy. Right now, according to the University of Vermont's center for rural studies the maple tapping industry brings in between 317 and 330 million dollars in sales to the state per year.

Climate change is threading the stability of the transition between winter and spring, which is prime maple tapping season. Dahlia Dill, co-owner of chandler pond farm said,"sap doesn't come out of the tree unless its prefect conditions. So it has to be bellow freezing at night and above freezing long enough during the day for the trees to let go and start running." Michael johnson, owner of happy hill maple farm adds, "when you get like two to three 70 degree days... 60 to 70 degree days, your season is done."

According to dr. Janel hanrahan, an associate professor of atmospheric sciences at nvu-lyndon said, "most studies now are starting to point to this idea of higher variable(of daily temperature changes) Under climate change. So that means that your going to have more extreme storms but your also going to have these big swings in temperature and perception types both year to year, month to month, and maybe even day to day." which makes it challenging for a maple tree to produce a constant and steady flow of sap.

Johnson said, "there are three big runs in the season and if you miss one of the big runs, your yield is not going ot be as good for the year." and according to climate central, the season is already shifting. "the tapping season in new england starts about 8 days earlier and ends 11 days earlier than 50 years ago." johnson mentioned that he has his pumps and taps ready to go around the christmas season just in case he can caught these early runs.

Climate central adds, "with no change in greenhouse gas emissions rates, tap season may start 30 days earlier by 2100, and that shifting ecological patterns after 2100 could mean fewer maple trees in new england and new york, possibly closing the tap on the industry."

Dr hanrahan stated, "in the past 150 years or so, we have increase from 280 pmm (carbon dioxide) To up over 410 ppm.(Parts per million) So we have managed  to increase the amount of carbon in about 100 years or so more so than happened naturally over a period of 10,000 years." to help someone understand how much energy that is, she adds, "4 hiroshima atomic booms pre second, thats how much extra energy we are accumulating  in our climate system every single second."

But with that being said Dr. Hanrahan continued, "we are causing this, we know what the problem is and we know how to fix it, and so that is pretty powerful because all we  need to do is take our foot off the gas pedal. Now thats easier said than done, but we can do it." So it appears up to us to make the right choices in time to protect what  makes living in vermont so sweet.

 

 

 

Vermonts 1st World Cubing Association Competition

cubing picEast Burke- On Saturday, Burke Mountain hosted Vermont's first ever world cubing association competition. The event had well over 80 participants from over 5 countries. According to the World Cubing Associations website, "The World Cube Association governs competitions for mechanical puzzles that are operated by twisting groups of pieces, commonly known as 'twisty puzzles'. The most famous of these puzzles is the Rubik's Cube, invented by professor Rubik from Hungary." In 1974, Erno Rubik invited the cube to have as a working model to help 0teach his students geometry.

Today, there have been well over 350 million Rubik's sold world wide stated in Seven Towns Limited, the British firm that licenses all Rubiks cubes. The Traditional cube included 6 sides that where broken into 9 colorful squares. Now, there are well over 40 different types of puzzles and the WCA uses 11 of them as official puzzles for the competitions. Allowing for a day packed full of different events ranging form the 3x3x3 to the Pyraminx and Skewb.

The Pryaminx is a pyramid shaped puzzle with over 3.6 million different combinations, which is considerably less than the 43 quintillion combinations for the regular 3x3x3 Puzzle. This doesn't make it any easier to solve, in fact it can be just as challenging if not more.

Not only has the Rubiks Cube been puzzling the minds of problem solvers since  the 70s. But, it is also helping the next generation  form meaningful cognitive, physical, and social skills according to Dr. of Education Nancy Maldonadi. Dr. Maldonadi is professor at Lehman College and has worked on a variety research projects on development of children learning skills.

According to Luke's Father, who was at the compassion on Saturday, "He's has become more disciplined. Obviously to advance in cubing, you have to spend time practicing and learning algorithms, which  he does. He spends a lot of time on YouTube, and on reading materials to help improve how he solves these puzzles."

For some kids, Rubiks cube has helped them to out of a hard time in their life by being a great way to clear their minds. Drew who came up from connecticut  to compete in saturdays competition  said, "I just try to do it to relieve stress honestly, I started at a time when I was really stressed out and had anxiety." Which has also helped him to make new friends.

In order to learn ways to solve the puzzle sometimes it takes more than one brain. "I went up to him and I was like, "Hey Can you teach me?' I have one and I want to know how to solve it. And he taught me and I learned some quicker methods", stated one of the Cubers. His Father adds,"each year it seems like there are more people showing interest in the community and puzzling. It's been incredible  for me to watch him grow in this."

So as the shapes, sizes, and types of cubes grow and change. So does the community. Providing a great escape for future problem solvers to push each other to do their best while also making a friend a or two. Click here for the competition results and schedule of up coming competitions.

A Green Industry

green industryNORTHEAST KINGDOM- The cannabis industry has made a lot of headway in the past several years. The two most common derivatives of the cannabis plant are THC and CBD. Though THC has not been federally legalized yet, CBD was made federally legal in December of 2018. This leaves room for further research about the medicinal qualities and applications of CBD as well as the opportunities for growers, processors, and retailers.

Read more: A Green Industry

A Tax Many Wouldn't Be Able to Afford

carbon taxNORTHEAST KINGDOM- It is no secret that heating homes with oil in Vermont is very costly, especially with such long and brutal winters. Here in the Northeast Kingdom, many homeowners are feeling the effects of an already high price of home heating oil. In 2016, a tax was put on home heating oil and propane which raised the cost about two cents per gallon.

Read more: A Tax Many Wouldn't Be Able to Afford

Maura Murray's 37th Birthday

murrayNorth Haverhill, NH- On Saturday May 4th, Fred Murray, friends, and supporters of his missing daughters case released doves in her honor at the spot where Maura went missing 15 years ago. Saturday marks Maura's 37th birthday, she was a 21 year old Nursing student, she was very athletic, and loved to hike with her father. To this day, the reasons why Maura was heading north on route 112 the night she went missing is still unknown.

Read more: Maura Murray's 37th Birthday

KILOS For Pounds

bradLyndonville-Brad Collins turned to social media last month to put his beard at risk in support for the Lyndonville Dog pound

Read more: KILOS For Pounds

Cold Water Safety

Cold Water SafetyLYNDONVILLE- With all of the nice weather that has graced the region over the past few days, has led many outdoor enthusiasts to come out of hibernation. However, those who are eager to get out on the water, may want to take some precautions first.

Read more: Cold Water Safety

Police Week

Police WeekST. JOHNSBURY- May is National Police Memorial month, it is a month dedicated to Police Officers who made sacrifices in the line of duty.

Read more: Police Week

An Epidemic Spreading like Wildfire

opioidNORTHEAST KINGDOM - There is no denying that the opioid epidemic is an issue across the nation. Though the problem may be very present in the street, it has been deeply rooted within the medical field. Medical professionals treating chronically ill patients have the obligation to prescribe but monitor doses of narcotic pain medication in a way that does not result in addiction. According to Stefanie Sigmund, APRN, there is a lot that goes into treating a patient's pain.

Read more: An Epidemic Spreading like Wildfire

Efforts to Revitalize Saint Johnsbury

stj revitSAINT JOHNSBURY -  Over the past several years, there has been an effort to revitalize the town of Saint Johnsbury. The goal is to bring more people to the area, both residents and visitors. A way to do this has been to add to the number of businesses in town. Longtime residents like Gary Ely have seen Saint Johnsbury lose many businesses over the years. Due to this, many have been put out of jobs and left the area.

Read more: Efforts to Revitalize Saint Johnsbury

Barnet Bridge Proposal

barnet trucksBARNET - The town of Barnet’s Fire and Rescue Department has begun the process to get themselves a new forest fire truck. This was brought to the attention of the Barnet Select Board monday night, as the department is hoping to replace their old truck as soon as possible.

Read more: Barnet Bridge Proposal

Two Running for CCSU Board Chair

ccsu vote BARNET- Two Barnet residents are running for one open seat on the Caledonia Cooperative Supervisory Board vote that is on May 7t

Read more: Two Running for CCSU Board Chair

How the NEK Tackles Spring Sports

spring sportsAROUND THE NEK – Unfortunately, the weather is not something that can be controlled. This takes a toll on spring sports in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Northernmost areas like the Northeast Kingdom are bound to face a spring sports season that begins indoors.

Read more: How the NEK Tackles Spring Sports

The Barnet Library Brings Back An Old Tradition

Ukrainian Egg Decorating

 BARNET- An old tradition makes it's return to the Barnet Library after being gone for the past few years.

    

Ukrainian egg decorating made it's return Wednesday night  after Special Projects Director of the library, Rebecca Boardman reintroduced it to the community.

Read more: The Barnet Library Brings Back An Old Tradition

Burglar Unable To Steal From Church

church burglarAROUND THE NEK - The United Baptist Church in Waterford was broken into on the morning of Saturday, April 13th. Seccurity cameras show an individual breaking a glass window on the backside of the building with a long pole. After gaining entry into the building the burglar attempted to gain access to the main offices.

Read more: Burglar Unable To Steal From Church

Groton Free Public Library Prom Dresses

grotonGROTON - Prior to landing her new position as librarian of the Groton Free Public Library in the fall of 2018, Jodi Fleurie-Wohlleb was a chicken farmer with her family in New Hampshire. Along with a bright smile and inclusive attitude, Fleurie-Wohlleb has brought with her a new goal and an old tradition to the Groton Free Public Library.

 

Read more: Groton Free Public Library Prom Dresses

15 Years and Still No Maura

scene of the crime North Haverhill, NH- Potential leads in finding 21 year old Maura Murray fell flat during a forensic excavation on Wednesday. Over the 15 years Fred Murray, Maura's father, has been trying to get into a house on route 112 just across from where Maura went missing in 2004.
 

Fenton Chester Arena Closed Due To Damage

  Fenton Arena LYNDON - The Fenton Chester Arena in Lyndon Vermont experienced some extensive damage on friday due to snow build up.

Read more: Fenton Chester Arena Closed Due To Damage

Snow in Spring, Go Figure

vtrans plowAROUND THE NEK - Friday, March 22nd marked a gigantic winter storm that sweeped the northeast kingdom in just over a foot of snow. Rates of snowfall were recorded at their peak to have fallen at three inches an hour in the early afternoon, and even more frightening were the reports of cars, trucks, and semi(s) that went off the roads or flipped themselves. The Vermont Transportation Agency as well as local road crews were busy all hours of the day and night clearing the snow and ice and attempting to make roads passable for residents, however almost nothing could make the roads completely safe for travel.

Read more: Snow in Spring, Go Figure

Barnet School Conducts Survey on Gonyaw

Barnet school teacher pollBARNET- The Barnet School's teachers recently did a poll on principal Shawn Gonyaw's performance. This past fall, many parents and community members were concerned about the way Gonyaw has controlled bullying and now things have turned around for the better.

Read more: Barnet School Conducts Survey on Gonyaw

A Preview on the Return of Mud Season

mudseasonLYNDONVILLE- With the spike in temperature today and rain with temperatures expected in the fifties for tomorrow, some of the monstrous snow piles have begun to dwindle, and will continue to do so tomorrow. While most people are loving the spring like feel, to some people this time of year is the worst.

Read more: A Preview on the Return of Mud Season

Chronic Pain Managment And Needles

NORTHEAST KINGDOM -There are many ways for people with chronic pain to help combat some of their symptoms. Some methods of therapy can even take away differents forms of muscular pain and discomfort.

Read more: Chronic Pain Managment And Needles

What's Coming Up At 5:30

What's Coming Up Tonight at 5:30

 

Teacher Appreciation Week
It is Teacher Appreciation, which means it's time for students to thank their teachers for all of the lessons in and out of the classroom that are taught by our masters of education.

Too Many To Stand Under The Umbrella
Due to a false capacity sign at the St. Johnsbury Welcome Center, the Umbrella Organization bit off a little more than they could chew with their first annual Spring Gala.

Preparing for Prom
It's officially prom season here in the Northeast Kingdom, and Hope is looking to outfit local ladies with the dresses to bring the house down.