Wednesday, December 05, 2012


News to Know November 30, 2012

Sent by Corinne Stridsberg and also posted at
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Check out the Berlin, Vermont Community News page on facebook
Although the school lunch articles I've shared previously and the links below for another story are from other schools, keep in mind all public schools in Vermont are dealing with these issues.  Berlin & U-32 were doing great with freshly prepared and local foods so I hope these dictated changes aren't getting in the way of what they were already doing.

This week I found out our daughter, Lora, is supporting the animal shelter by selling raffle tickets which seems like a great way to support them and have a chance at winning some great items.: "I'm selling raffle tickets for the Central Vermont Humane Society's holiday raffle. Here's how it works. Look at the list of prizes. Then decide which ones you want to buy a ticket for. When you buy a ticket, the number of the prize you want to be entered for is put on the ticket. One number per ticket, but you can enter as many times as you want for as many prizes as you want. Ticket's are $1 each but you can buy 6 tickets for $5, 12 tickets for $10 or 24 tickets for $20. You can visit the website to see the list of prizes and more details. You can buy tickets on the website too, or via me. :)"  Tickets must be purchased before December 25th to be included in the drawing, you do not need to be present to win, drawing is on 12/28.  There will be more than 40 lucky winners.

Included below please find:
WCAX by Keith McGilvery November 20 & 21
Can't find what you're looking for?  Ask a librarian!
What have you been wondering??
Don't forget there are two great places on line to find family activities:
Find and Go Seek
 And KidsVT
There are always great activities happening at Kellogg-Hubbard Library on Main Street in Montpelier.  In addition to the activities they offer, they have passes for museums, parks, historical sites, and points of interest that can be borrowed -  passes can be signed out for a three day period and will make your next family outing cheaper!  Call or stop in for more details.

Yearly the Kellogg-Hubbard Library asks Berlin for financial support and because the voters support this, all Berlin residents are able to get a library card (with proof of residency) and make use of all their services.  Visit the library website at: or call them at 223-3338.

   The Town of Berlin, VT seeks a qualified person to fill this position on a temporary basis.  Primary responsibility for the financial accounting, reporting and tax collection for the town, including: payroll, accounts payable, accounts reconciliations, oversight of computerized accounting system, tax collection, and preparation of tax bills.  This is an appointed position that reports to the Town Administrator and Select Board.  This is a part-time temporary position (28 to 32 hours per week).  In addition to maintaining regular business hours in the office, there is an expectation that the Treasurer will attend Select Board meetings.  Deadline December 10th.  See more details on the town website

   The Town of Berlin Select Board and the Town’s Water Supply Committee will hold a public informational meeting on December 5, 2012 at 6:30 PM at the Berlin Elementary School on the Town’s plans to develop a public community water system to serve lands bounded by and adjacent to the following roads in Berlin: Paine Turnpike, Fisher Road, Airport Road, Scott Hill Road, Industrial Lane, Granger Road, Comstock Road, and Crosstown Road to I-89.   This meeting will be the first of several Town informational meetings in preparation for a bond vote on the project early next year.
    The Town of Berlin has planned a municipal water supply facility for the Town, and has recently begun the final design of the water system which will consist of the groundwater wells already developed by the Town, transmission and distribution mains lines, and a 400,000 gallon storage tank.   It is the Town's intention to complete final design, schedule a bond vote, bid the project, and be operational by the end of 2013.    A Town water supply study was completed and the study outlines plans for the Berlin community water system (see Berlin website).  
   It is critical for the Town to determine the continued level of interest in a public community water system for the service area.  Attendance by residents, land owners and business is important to the Town and Water Supply Committee.
    For more information contact the Town Administrator, Jeff Schulz
There are several ways you can support the Parent Teacher Neighbor Association (PTNA) on an ongoing basis.  The following programs translate into money or merchandise which the PTNA can use for their support of teachers, staff, students and the school in general.  There are collection bins at the school and at the town office for the labels and box tops.  Friends, neighbors and relatives who may not have children in school are also encouraged to participate if they can!
 - LABELS FOR EDUCATION - With this program, the portion of the label that is essential is the entire UPC code.  In addition to Campbell’s soups and products, eligible UPCs can be found on products such as Spaghettios, Swanson broth, Emerald nuts, Pop Secret, Post cereals  and Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, cookies, crackers and breads.  For V8 juices, please submit the cap.  Points earned are used to order school merchandise.  An informational pamphlet is being sent home. For an entire list of eligible products, please go to
 - E-LABELS FOR EDUCATION – Sign up for this program online at   Every eligible purchase made using your Shopper Card from participating retailers will automatically earn 1 point our school can redeem for FREE educational merchandise.  This is in addition to clipping and redeeming UPCs to earn points.
 - PRICE CHOPPER TOOLS FOR SCHOOLS PROGRAM  -   The Price Chopper Tools for Schools Program has begun and runs until March 30, 2013. If you would like to help Berlin Elementary School earn free educational equipment, please register your Price Chopper AdvantEdge card (10 digit number on the back of the card) at under Program Sign-up. **OUR SCHOOL CODE IS 15281.** Every time you use your Price Chopper AdvantEdge Card, BES will earn credit towards free educational equipment. Please note that if you had previously signed up prior to August 2010, they require that you re-register your card.
 - BOX TOPS FOR EDUCATION  - Box tops coupons can be found on hundreds of food and household items.  Some companies include General Mills, Pillsbury, Yoplait, Betty Crocker, Hamburger Helper, Nature Valley, Huggies, Ziploc, Hefty, Scott, Kleenex, Cottonelle and many others.  Coupons are worth 10 cents each and are redeemed for cash for school.  Please look for the pink Box Tops coupons!  For an entire list of eligible products and for more information, please see
 - HANNAFORD HELPS SCHOOLS – Purchase participating products at Hannaford Supermarkets from now until December 1, 2012 and you’ll earn money for BES by earning “School Dollars”.  If you receive a “School Dollar” slip at check out, please deposit it into the collection tower at Hannaford for BES or send them to school.  An informational pamphlet is being sent home.
Pub 11/20/12 WCAX by Gina Bullard
   BERLIN, Vt - The Wal-Mart in Berlin, Vt., will soon be expanding.
   Right now, the 65,000-square-foot store is the discount retailer's smallest in the country.
    The addition of more than 90,000 square feet will include an expansion into the Berlin Mall, as well as adding on to the current building.  The town approved the extension but is waiting to issue a zoning permit until it receives traffic drawings.
   Each year, the Berlin Elementary School looks to support students and their families by donating holiday gifts and food to families in need. This year, the need for food far exceeds our capacity to serve, and we are only in November. More than 20 families have reached out to the school for holiday meals.
    Through Wednesday, December 19, 2012, we will be collecting non-perishable food items to box into holiday meals for families. There will be a collection box in the school lobby. Gift cards to local grocery stores will also be accepted and a school official will shop for needed items.
    Thank you for supporting your hungry Berlin neighbors.
   - Chris Dodge, Principal
Pub 11/22/12 by Times Argus
   MONTPELIER — The state appears unlikely to meet its goal of starting construction on a psychiatric hospital in Berlin before the end of this month.
    But acting Mental Health Commissioner Mary Moulton and local officials in Berlin say they think the $22.5 million project is still on track.
   “I don’t think anybody saw show-stoppers,” Berlin Development Review Board Chairman Robert Wernecke said Wednesday.
    Board members had questions including what sorts of trees and shrubbery would be planted on the facility’s grounds and what materials would be used to build a retaining wall.
   Wernecke said he expected the state would be able to provide satisfactory answers to the questions in time for his board’s next meeting Dec. 4. He said the five-member panel would then deliberate and likely issue its findings later in December.
    That would delay what state officials earlier this year had said they hoped would be a November start of construction on what has been a fast-tracked project since the Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury was forced to close due to flooding from Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011.
    Wernecke scoffed at the idea the state might have expected approval from his board in time to start construction this month.
   “To think they’re going to have a shovel in the ground the same week we have a hearing is ... optimistic,” he said. “I think that would be a very, very high expectation. I’m sure they recognize that.”
    Now the challenge will be the onset of winter weather, Moulton said.
   “We’re hoping that it doesn’t freeze over in the next couple of weeks,” she said.
   Wernecke said the project has drawn little opposition. Three parties asked to intervene in his board’s review: the town of Berlin; the Berlin Mall shopping center; and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont. The shopping center and Blue Cross Blue Shield are near the site of the planned psychiatric hospital, which is to be built along a road northwest of Central Vermont Medical Center.
    Wernecke said the town has been pushing for a promise from the state that if the town sets up a municipal water system — something it’s considering — the state hospital would be a customer.
   Moulton said she will be talking with the town police department about any increased police coverage that might be required and how the state might support that.
   The state has been under intense pressure since Irene to map the future course of its mental health system. Lawmakers last winter approved a plan to replace the 54-bed Waterbury hospital, which long had been viewed as antiquated and in need of major updating or replacement, with a 25-bed facility in Berlin and a series of smaller psychiatric units scattered around the state.

Pub 11/20/12 Times Argus
   MONTPELIER— In an unusually speedy process, the state on Monday granted itself a certificate of need — essentially a state permit — for a new public psychiatric hospital in Berlin to replace the Waterbury facility that was closed by flooding from the remnants of Hurricane Irene.
    Just three days after a public hearing to air the merits of the proposal, the Department of Mental Health’s plan for a 25-bed hospital near the Central Vermont Medical Center won approval from the Department of Financial Regulation. Officials hope to have it open by January 2014.
    DFR Commissioner Steve Kimbell noted Vermont has been scrambling since Irene hit in late August 2011 to find places for its mental health patients. By last winter, a plan gelled and won legislative approval to have the 54-bed Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury replaced by the smaller hospital in Berlin, along with a series of still smaller psychiatric units around the state in Brattleboro, Morrisville, Rutland, Burlington and elsewhere.
    While that plan has been in the works, officials have struggled to find adequate placements for patients who would have gone to Waterbury. Some have languished for days under police guard in the emergency rooms of community hospitals, waiting for an inpatient bed to open up.
    “This has put tremendous pressure on the state’s ability to care for Vermonters will serious mental illness,” Kimbell said in a statement announcing his approval of the certificate of need. “Our mental health care providers are to be commended for their hard work and dedicated service during this difficult time.”
    A call to Mary Moulton, the acting mental health commissioner, wasn’t immediately returned.
   The head of an advocacy group called Monday’s announcement “great news.” Floyd Nease, executive director of the Vermont Association for Mental Health, said the Berlin facility would be “the anchor for the new system that we’re building. Rather than months and months worrying about achieving a (certificate of need), they’ve managed to do it in very short order.”
    Rep. Anne Donahue of Northfield, the top Republican on the House Human Services Committee who closely follows mental health issues, also called the announcement good news. The new hospital will have “excellent outdoor space,” as well as state-of-the-art treatment areas, a vast improvement over the Waterbury hospital.
   The Waterbury hospital was first opened in the 1890s and was widely viewed as antiquated and in need of replacement. The new hospital will be “no comparison to Waterbury,” Donahue said.
 Pub 11/19/12 by Andrew Stein
   State officials planning the new psychiatric hospital in Berlin are preparing for a “worst-case scenario,” which would cost the state and taxpayers roughly $38 million — $10 million more than originally projected.
    Officials from the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Building and General Services submitted the hospital’s financing plan to the Department of Financial Regulation at a Friday public hearing in Montpelier.
    Steve Kimbell, commissioner of financial regulation, issued a certificate of need for the plan on Monday.
   The 25-bed in-patient facility will partially replace the Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury that was ruined by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Irene more than a year ago.
 The Shumlin administration’s new community-based mental health system for the highest need psychiatric patients in Vermont was approved by lawmakers last legislative session. In addition to the 25 beds slated for Berlin, the Brattleboro Retreat is scheduled to provide care for 14 “level one” patients with serious needs and the Rutland Regional Medical Center will offer another six beds.
   The 45 beds that will be made available in Berlin, Brattleboro and Rutland facilities will replace the former 54-bed Waterbury facility, which officials said had 51 patients when it was inundated by floodwaters.
   The financing plan that officials unveiled on Friday showed funding from one source: State bonds at an interest rate of 3.4 percent. Officials said they have to prepare for this contingency, as the state currently has no insurance reimbursements in hand for the former state hospital and no funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
    This fiscal arrangement would drive the cost of the project up from roughly $28 million to $38 million. The additional $10 million would be for debt financing expenses, including interest and bank fees, according to Kimbell.
    Judy Rosenstreich, senior policy adviser to the Vermont Department of Health, told Kimbell and other financial regulators on Friday that the state expects to hear from FEMA in January.
“Do you have any idea what the FEMA contribution will be?” Clifford Peterson, general counsel to the regulatory department, asked Rosenstreich.
    “No, we do not have any specific figure,” she said.
   Mike Kuhn of Buildings and General Services explained how the costs break down and how difficult it has been dealing with FEMA.
   “The cost figures you have before you are a worst case scenario, assuming all of the funds come from the capital construction budget,” he said. “Anything that we receive from the insurance company … as well as funds from FEMA … will only go to reduce the cost for the state’s general obligation funds.
    “We have been working very closely with FEMA … to maximize our reimbursement funds from FEMA, and it’s a struggle,” he added.
   The Shumlin administration has maintained that the Brooks building, where the Vermont State Hospital was housed in the Waterbury State Office Complex, was destroyed.  FEMA officials have said the structure was damaged.  In order to qualify for public assistance and a 90 percent reimbursement level, the state needs to show the building was destroyed. The federal agency reimburses based on replacement value.
    Kuhn expects to break ground on the facility in December and finish by January 2014. Bids for the project and the demolition of five structures on the property are out, and he expects to complete the permitting process by the end of November. He said the project still needs permits from the Agency of Natural Resources and a conditional use permit from the Berlin Development Review Board, which it will meet with on Tuesday.
 Kimbell, who signed the certificate of need on Monday, explained why the project was fiscally sound.
   “Even if it doesn’t have funding from (FEMA and insurance), it has the financial wherewithal to be complete,” he said last Friday after the hearing. “From my standpoint, the question is not do they have the financial resources to complete the project, it’s just a question of where it’s coming from.”
For those interested in more reading regarding the Waterbury State Office Complex, VTDigger has an article: "Officials say state to get FEMA determination this week; Irene insurance claims won't be final until early 2013"

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