Tim and Diane Mueller, owners of Okemo Mountain Resort are pleased to announce staff promotions in the Marketing Department.Jennifer Smith has been promoted to the position of Marketing Manager. Jennifer joined Okemo in 1991 and served as the Manager of Guestand Information Services for nine years. Since 2000, she has held the position as Communications Manager.Lori Edwards has been promoted to the position of Online Marketing Manager. Lori came to Okemo in 1998 and served as a Marketing Assistant. In her new role, she will oversee all aspects of Internet marketing and communications and web support for both Okemo and Mount Sunapee.”This is very exciting time at Okemo with the expansion of the new Jackson Gore area well underway,” commented Diane Mueller. “Both Jennifer and Lori support our vision for the future of Okemo and for the Ludlow region and are valuable members of our Okemo Team.”
Cambium Group, a leading web site development firm based in Montpelier is pleased to announce the launch of a new website for Truliant Federal Credit Union www.truliantfcu.org(link is external). Truliant, based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina is currently the 84th largest credit union in the country. Cambium and Truliant partnered together to develop a website that offers their members a refreshing, updated design with improved navigation to the many products and services the credit union offers.The project was a huge undertaking for both partners and took many months to complete. The result is a web site containing a thorough, well thought-out architecture and a clean design presented with the credit union member in mind. Product promotions, current rates, helpful links, financial calculators, online applications and educational articles are distributed on appropriate pages throughout the site to provide members the right information they need at the right time.Members can quickly find detailed information to help serve their needs, apply for membership, apply for a loan or contact Truliant for more information. For example, the Home Center provides comprehensive information on refinancing, home equity loans, product options, checklists to help with the application process, links to related information, calculators, online applications and a resource center that seamlessly integrates a third-party vendor’s real-time articles about the home buying process.Immediate feedback from Truliant’s employees and e-community has been overwhelmingly positive. A survey conducted soon after the launch shows that over 98% of members are very satisfied with the new site.“It was critical for Truliant Federal Credit Union to align ourselves with the right web development partner for this project,” commented Bill Reynard, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Truliant Federal Credit Union. “Cambium Group was a true partner by listening to our needs and providing invaluable design talent, marketing vision and technical skills to deliver a superior web channel for the credit union. Consequently, initial member response to our redesign has been quite positive and we are excited to have Cambium Group as an ongoing partner with our e-services team in the continued evolution of this important delivery channel.”Cambium Group’s owner and President, Scott Wells stated “This has been a major project for our team, both in terms of developing web site functionality and keeping on task to achieve a flawless launch. Our objective was to develop a sharp design, integrate numerous third-party tools and build a robust content management system that provides Truliant extensive control of their site. It’s one of our most impressive sites to-date and sets a new standard for credit union sites in the industry.”
Here are just a few of the topics covered in the manual:1. Find out the steps you need to take to be sure of a successful used car buying experience.2. Learn the questions you should ask a dealer or private owner before you even go to look at a used car.3. Uncover those ýhiddený problems the dealers don’t want you to know about, and are not listed on a CARFAX report.4. Negotiate your best deal, and save the upper hand for last. Literally squeeze every penny out of the sale. Youýll have the dealer crying ýuncle!ýHer insider knowledge gives Amy a unique and entertaining approach to the car business. Amy makes an excellent interview and guest speaker. For an entertaining, informative interview, call Amy at 802-223-2253 # # #
Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz, along with Jason Karlawish, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics, University of Pennsylvania; and Charles Sabatino, Director of the American Bar Association s Commission on Law and Aging, released the results of a study of Vermont s mobile polling pilot project. During the 2008 general election, the Vermont Secretary of State s Office joined with the University of Pennsylvania and the American Bar Association to develop a pilot program where trained election workers brought ballots to residential care facilities prior to the election to permit eligible residents to register and vote. Residents who were unable to vote independently were offered assistance from bipartisan pairs of election workers who had been trained to work with elderly voters, and in particular, voters who have cognitive impairment.Markowitz said, Vermont participated in this study of mobile polling because those of us who administer elections need to be prepared for the challenges of meeting the needs of an aging population. According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of Americans who are 55 and older will nearly double between 2007 and 2030, from 20 percent of the population (60 million) to 31 percent (107.6 million). Markowitz said, This means that as we plan for future elections we must consider the challenges presented by the aging of America and explore new ways to reach voters who are in residential care facilities to ensure that they are provided an opportunity to vote, and to prevent voter intimidation or fraud. Mobile polling is a great way to accomplish this.The American Bar Association adopted a policy in 2007 urging states to improve access to voting by residents of long term care facilities by use of mobile polling. Vermont is in the forefront of states in making this policy a reality and showing that it profoundly enhances the quality of participation in the election process, said Sabatino. About half the states have some policy that provides for limited outreach to nursing homes by election officials, but there has not been a serious study of mobile polling as a best practice.Karlawish said, The results of this study are compelling and convincing because we designed this project to compare mobile polling to usual voting using nursing homes that were well matched in terms of the number of residents and the severity of their cognitive disabilities. Working with Dr. Karlawish and Mr. Sabatino, the Secretary of State s Office trained local election workers and recruited residential care facilities to participate in the project. Twenty-four facilities took part – 15 facilities voted as usual and nine facilities conducted mobile polling. After the election, individual participants were surveyed to assess problems and challenges.The findings of the study discuss both the challenges and benefits of implementing mobile polling. Key general findings include:Absentee balloting is very common in long term care facilities. When mobile polling is not offered, residents who vote will do so using an absentee ballot. This confirms previous research and makes sense because residents of long term care facilities often are disabled so that going to the polling place to vote is difficult.Most residents of long term care facilities need assistance voting. Typically, this means reading the ballot out loud to the voter and helping mark the ballot. This confirms the fact that residents of long term care facilities may be uniquely vulnerable to undue influence and fraud, and confirms the value of having a bi-partisan pair of trained election workers assisting voters in long term care facilities.Voting in long term care facilities without the benefit of mobile polling opens the process up to arbitrary decision about who may vote and fraud and abuse. Although the study was not designed to uncover fraud or abuse, the study found that without mobile polling nursing home residents are more susceptible to a greater opportunity for both staff and family members to unduly influence voting by residents.The overall findings of the study indicate that mobile polling is a beneficial alternative for reaching residents of long term care facilities.Residents of long term care facilities like mobile polling. Nursing home staff and elections workers observed that residents liked the mobile polling experience because it respected their dignity; made them feel like full citizens because their experience is closer to the civic experience of going to a polling place; and it gives them additional contact with the community and fosters feelings of independence, pride, importance and that they are valued by the community.Mobile polling promotes increased accessibility to voting. Residents of the long term care facilities did not have to worry about transportation to the polls or arranging for an absentee ballot.Mobile polling was beneficial to nursing home staff. Nursing home staff reported that mobile polling made the registration and voting process easier. It relieved their discomfort about assisting residents with cognitive impairment and it increased the legitimacy of the process, reducing the threat of fraud, undue influence and coercion. They were also pleased because it reduced their workload by streamlining the voting process.Election officials saw benefits in mobile polling. Election officials found that mobile polling was a good way to assist residents of long term care. They felt that having trained election workers assist voters in bipartisan pairs helps to minimize concerns of voter fraud and manipulation for residents of long term care facilities. Some election workers noted that mobile polling could help reduce the workload on Election Day as it permits them to serve voters in advance.Implementing mobile polling presents challenges. The principal challenge is the time it takes for election workers to conduct the mobile polling. Although, on average the mobile polling itself took only an hour or two, setting up mobile polling, and finding and training election workers can be time consuming at a time when the clerks are already busy preparing for an election and serving early voters.The results of this study will be delivered to the United States Elections Assistance Commission, the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, the National Association of Secretaries of State, and the National Association of Election Administrators.Publication of the full report is expected in the coming year. To learn more about facilitating voting as people age and addressing the challenges of cognitive impairment, visit www.pennadc.org(link is external).********************************************************************************************FACT SHEETBringing voting to long term care facilities:Assessing the benefits of mobile pollingJason Karlawish, University of Pennsylvania, Departments of Medicine and Medical EthicsDeborah Markowitz, Vermont Secretary of StateCharlie Sabatino, American Bar Association, Commission on Law and AgingThe research reported herein was supported by the Greenwall Foundation and the Borchard Foundation.BackgroundFailures to ensure proper access to voting and to protect against manipulation of the vote of disabled citizens compromise the integrity of elections.In 2008, Vermont enacted mobile polling. Mobile polling brings election officials into a long term care setting so they can assist residents to vote.ObjectiveTo assess the impact of mobile polling on voter turnout, voter rights, and voter fraud.Methods24 long term care facilities, matched according to size and residents cognitive status, were randomized to conduct mobile polling or voting as usual (absentee or polling booth).Because some sites were unable or unwilling to conduct mobile polling, 15 facilities voted as usual, and 9 facilities conducted mobile polling, resulting in 9 matched pairs and 6 additional control sites.Surveys of activities directors and election officials assessed problems or challenges with each voting method and voting outcomes.ResultsFacility staff and election officials reported that mobile polling made voting more convenient and accessible for residents, increased legitimacy, relieved staff discomfort in assisting cognitively impaired voters, reduced the threat of fraud and coercion, and decreased workload for residents and staff. By staff estimates, the overall proportion of residents who voted at matched sites was 30.1% ± 16.9%.Although there were significant qualitative differences in the voting experience, there were no significant differences between matched control and intervention sites in proportion of residents who voted (t = -1.7, p = .11) or between-site variance in voting rates (variance ratio test f = 0.33, p = .14).These findings were consistent when all sites were included in analysis.Advantages of Mobile PollingBeneficial for the residents feelings of self worth I think it s very good for the residents self-esteem; it makes them continue to feel like a worthy part of the community and in the political system. Less threat of fraud and coercion We felt there was less coercion, it would be the cleanest way of voting. No one would influence them, because we know the justices of the peace wouldn t do that and it also gave a real feeling of participating in democracy. Protects/ensures the residents right to vote They need to vote, they need to make their vote count. Just because they are in a nursing home they shouldn t be cut off from doing things they want to do. We have pretty good people here, people are very vocal and get into discussion groups. They all felt good having to vote. Relieves discomfort of staff assisting the cognitively impaired We really cannot even read the ballot to them but you know in the past residents would say what do you think, who do you think I should vote for, so with these two officials there representing both parties it was, it took the load off us. It took the uncomfortableness out of it for us. As much as we want to help people do the right thing or what we think they would think is the right thing, this was not an area that we could get into. So it took a lot of pressure off us. Made voting more accessible and convenient Mobile Polling was convenient, it assured more people would vote with no influence and they really enjoyed it! Most people here would be too scared to just go out and go to the polling place in the confusion. Reduced workload for election officials It really helps us on the day of elections because ¦it helps us with not having so many people with you know those kinds of problems coming through the day of elections. I think it s a great idea and I think it s the wave of the future.SummaryAlthough mobile polling did not affect turnout, it does provide substantial benefits to maximize voter rights and minimize concerns of voter fraud and manipulation.Facilities where voting occurred as usual had difficulty judging capacity to vote; staff members worried about potential persuasion and fraud; and voting was time consuming for nursing home staff.
By Neale F Lunderville. On Town Meeting Day, many voters will be confounded by a riddle on their school budget ballot: how is it that we cut school spending, but our property tax bill went up anyway?The answer is buried deep within the labyrinth of Act 60 and Act 68, the complex and impenetrable school funding laws that still confuse taxpayers many years after their enactment. This system – which Governor Douglas has called “fundamentally broken and beyond repair” – threatens another year with higher property taxes at a time when families and small businesses can least afford them. And it only gets worse as the problem compounds in years to come.Since the passage of Act 60, school spending has grown dramatically with the true cost to taxpayers masked by a surging housing market and expanding subsidies. As home values climbed, lawmakers and school boards could lower the property tax rate and still collect more than enough for schools.Budgets ballooned as schools hired more teachers and staff – even as the number of students declined. Since 1997, the number of students in Vermont’s schools has dropped by 11.5%, yet the number of school staff increased by 23%. Looking at it another way, for every 3.4 students we lost from the classroom, schools hired an additional teacher or staff person. At this rate, how long will it be until we have more staff than students?As budgets went up, property taxes followed. Vermonters will pay $504.5 million more in property taxes next year than they did in 1999, an annual tax increase of 6.7 percent, easily double the rate of inflation. This was never sustainable.Today, for all these reasons and others, property tax payers are facing something unseen since before Act 60: the statewide tax rate will go up by 2 cents. This means that taxpayers will be paying as much as $59 million more in property taxes next year than this year – a number that will continue to grow without meaningful reform and cost cutting starting right now.This problem has been building on the horizon for years – with Governor Douglas repeatedly sounding the warning call. Since 2005, Douglas has offered annual proposals to the Legislature to lower property taxes by controlling spending. He proposed that school budget increases greater than inflation require 60 percent voter approval. He twice proposed to cap school spending growth at 3.5 percent per pupil and last year he proposed to level fund per pupil spending. Each of these proposals was either rejected or passed over.Further, the Governor aggressively opposed education spending increases, including legislative initiatives to expand property tax subsidies to upper income households and elimination of caps on special education spending. Unfortunately, the Governor’s calls for restraint were ignored. In January, Governor Douglas offered another series of ambitious education reforms to reduce school spending, realign education expenses and reform Act 60. He proposed normalizing school staffing ratios to more responsible levels, increasing cost sharing for teacher health insurance to 20 percent, and encouraging school district consolidation. He also proposed making teachers’ retirement an education expense (instead of competing with human services funding) and progressively graduating tax subsidies for taxpayers with higher incomes to protect the entire subsidy for lower income Vermonters.Without these reforms, property tax payers will see rates rise 2 cents. With the Governor’s proposal, everyone’s statewide rate will drop 1 cent – saving taxpayers $33 million.Vermont’s school system is among the best funded in the nation. The Governor’s proposals will not change our good standing. We can give property tax payers a break and put education funding on solid financial footing without compromising our children’s educational opportunities.In the halls of the State House, members of both parties are having conversations about possible reforms, and there is a growing understanding of the problem. But we cannot confuse understanding for action. Without action on meaningful reform, the sting of increasing property taxes will burn for years to come.Our current crisis was avoidable. But if we act now – both locally and in Montpelier – we can fight back against its worst effects. Another year of inaction is not an acceptable option.Neale F. Lunderville is the Secretary of Administration for the State of Vermont.
On Thursday, July 15 the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) will conduct ledge removal that at times will cause delays along Interstate 89 northbound just south of Exit 8 in Montpelier.VTrans routinely inspects rock ledge that borders Vermont’s Interstate and state roadways. Geologists recently concluded that ledge about a half mile south of Exit 8 along I-89’s northbound barrel is fragile and must be removed before rocks break loose and fall into the roadway.To remove the loose ledge, VTrans on July 15 will close one lane of I-89’s northbound barrel so workers can safely access the ledge. Also, between the hours on 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. VTrans in conjunction with the Vermont State Police will delay northbound traffic along I-89 between Exit 6 (South Barre) and Exit 7 (Berlin) using a series of rolling road blocks. The rolling roadblocks, which could last up to 10 minutes, will be conducted whenever crews must allow ledge to drop so that no vehicles are impacted.Police during a rolling roadblock will use their vehicles to slow traffic to about 45 mph so that it will take about 8 minutes to travel between Exits 6 and 7. Although police hope to keep traffic moving, there is the potential that at times traffic will need to be stopped completely.Once the ledge falls and all debris is cleared, traffic will be allowed to resume. VTrans expects there will be need for about a half dozen rolling roadblocks between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. The roadblocks will occur when needed, so no exact schedule is known. Police will also close the Exit 7 onramp to I-89 northbound whenever rolling roadblocks are in effect.The southbound lanes of I-89 will not be impacted by this ledge work.Source: VTrans. 7.13.2010
by Anne Galloway, www.vtdigger.org(link is external), April 22, 2011 Senate discipline broke down last night. Instead of voting out a final version of the miscellaneous tax bill out and reading through the health care bill as planned, members engaged in a polite floor fight and went home early.After three hours of hemming and hawing in committee and private meetings over a controversial hike in the cigarette tax, the Senate gathered on the floor and went through the parliamentary motions to begin what was supposed to culminate in a debate and vote on a new cigarette tax proposal. But within the space of 20 minutes, that plan went up in smoke, along with the introduction of Sen. Anthony Pollina’s surtax on wealthy Vermonters and the second reading of the health care reform bill.The situation devolved into arcane parliamentary procedure and then premature adjournment so quickly that the turn of events even took veteran statehouse observers by surprise.One minute, the 30-member body was set to vote on what was purported to be final version of the long-awaited the tax bill. The next, a minority group of senators blocked suspension of the rules to move the legislation forward. (Sen. Ginnie Lyons, D-Chittenden, moved to reconsider H.436, the tax bill. Sen. Mark MacDonald reminded the body of Rule 73: A motion to reconsider cannot be made on the same day of consideration without a suspension of the rules. The majority needed three-quarters of the vote to suspend the rules: It failed to muster the necessary 22 votes.)Meanwhile, Sen. Anthony Pollina, D-Washington, attempted to introduce his ‘surtax on the rich’ amendment and was told he was out of order (it was a rookie mistake ‘ he didn’t realize he was inadvertently elbowing Lyons’ amendment out of the way).Once Lyons’ motion on the tax bill failed, Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell tried to get the situation under control by insisting that the body move forward with the second reading of the health care reform bill. Another minority group spontaneously formed (including a number of members of Senate Finance who were angry that the tax bill was passed over) ‘ expressly to scuttle action on the health care legislation.Campbell responded by calling for immediate adjournment, an early morning floor session on Good Friday and a rare Monday Senate session. Members interpreted this declaration as a form of retaliation and at that point balked openly.Privately, senators accused Campbell of driving them too hard. (Senate Appropriations met on Monday, and each night this week, the Senate has held late sessions, after long days in committee.)Several members said they couldn’t possibly meet on Monday. ‘We are a citizen legislature maintaining day jobs,’ Sen. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, said.‘People aren’t talking to each other,’ Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington, said. ‘Communication has broken down.’Sen. Peter Galbraith, D-Windham, chalked up the kerfuffle to a disgruntled bipartisan minority. Campbell’s reaction, he said, was appropriate. ‘It’s quite normal for the parliamentary leader to control the schedule,’ Galbraith said.But did he? That remains to be seen. A number of the members came out of the Green Room sputtering or headed for the exit.Sen. Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland, said the dissension is between liberal and conservative Democrats over taxes. Earlier in the day, the Senate in a 16-14 vote rejected a $1 per pack cigarette tax increase.In a statement on the tax issue, Shumlin said: ‘I am pleased that the Senate voted to reduce the increase in the cigarette tax from the initial proposal of $1 per pack to 53 cents per pack ‘ a step in the right direction — and rejected a call to raise the income tax. I continue to believe that Vermont’s problem isn’t that taxes are too low, but that taxes are too high.”‘It’s hard to control a super majority,’ Mullin quipped. ‘Unless they get their act together, we’re not going to get out of here before May 7.’ Anne Galloway is editor of vtdigger.org