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The Bells Of Joy

Bells of Joy

Charlotte Steele who was instrumental in establishing the Bells of Joy handbell choir 32 years ago is surrounded by members of the group at their annual Christmas concert held recently in Rutland. Samís Good News photo by Natalie Coons.

By Natalie Coons

On Friday December 12, The Bells Of Joy handbell choir held their 31st annual concert at United Methodist Church in Rutland. This annual handbell concert is one of Rutland’s favorite Christmas events.

To my surprise the group has only been practicing for this event since September. The concert was well orchestrated and under the direction of Karen James. The music was so beautiful that I will dare to admit that tears came to my eyes more than once.

The concert featured traditional Christmas carols arranged especially for this unique instrument that is comprised of five octaves of bronze handbells and five octaves of lovely handchimes.

The first octave of the bells was donated by Charlotte Steele 32 years ago in memory of her husband Arthur Steele. Both of the Steeles had a strong love for music and that love of music has been ringing in the chapel of the United Methodist Church for the last 31 years and will continue to bring joy to the community for many years to come.

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GMP Awards Solar Grants to Nine Nonprofits

Rutland, Vt. – Nine nonprofits, including two churches, a volunteer fire department and Rutland’s Paramount Theatre, will soon begin to generate some of their energy with help from the sun, thanks to grants from Green Mountain Power.

GMP, which last week became the first utility in the world to earn B Corporation status - certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous social, environmental, accountability and transparency standards - announced the grants today.

“These grants help further our mission to create a new energy system that is more environmentally and economically sustainable,” President and CEO Mary Powell said. “As we continue to partner with customers and communities to create a more resilient and reliable grid, with micro-grids, renewable generation and energy storage, we will continue to help nonprofit groups embrace this exciting new world.”

Charlotte Congregational Church, Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium in St. Johnsbury, the Paramount Theatre, Second Congregational Church of Bennington, Rutland County Parent-Child Center and Vermont Achievement Center will receive $20,000 each.

Rutland Community Cupboard sought and was awarded a $7,000 grant, Mercy Ecology Farm in Benson will receive a $12,100 grant, and Guilford Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $16,400 grant. All of the projects, which will cost at least twice the grant amount and include other funding sources, are expected to be complete by next summer.

The projects stood out and were selected based on their impact on the recipients and their communities, additional sources of funds leveraged by the grants, and educational value associated with the projects.

“With nearly two dozen applicants, we were thrilled by the creativity and commitment to sustainable energy from all kinds of nonprofit groups,” said GMP Vice President Steve Costello. “We are especially excited about the educational aspects of the winning projects, which include a video display in Rutland’s historic downtown theater that will be seen by thousands of people, and a solar safety training program for firefighters.”

Powell highlighted the value of helping non-profits reduce their energy bills. “Every dollar the Community Cupboard cuts from its power bill is a dollar that can help feed a hungry family or senior citizen,” Powell said. “These grant recipients will help continue to show how we are leading the way in Vermont to help people save money and be more comfortable, while moving to cleaner sources of energy.”

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Ice Fishing Safety Tips

Montpelier, Vt. -- The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has some ice safety tips for those of you who will be going ice fishing this winter.

“Once we have sustained cold weather to form good ice, ice fishing can be safe and a lot of fun,” said Major Dennis Reinhardt, “but when we go onto the ice, we need to use good judgment and observe several safety precautions.”

· Leave your car or truck on shore. Every year several motor vehicles go through the ice on Vermont lakes, and some people have drowned as a result.
· Leave information about your plans with someone -- where you intend to fish and when you expect to return.
· Wear a personal flotation device and don't fish alone.
· Ice varies in thickness and condition. Always carry an ice spud or chisel to check ice as you proceed.
· Be extremely cautious crossing ice near river mouths, points of land, bridges, islands, and over reefs and springs. Current almost always causes ice to be thinner over these areas.
· Avoid going onto the ice if it has melted away from the shore. This indicates melting is underway, and ice can shift position as wind direction changes.
· Waves from open water can quickly break up large areas of ice. If you can see open water in the lake and the wind picks up, get off!
· Bring your fully-charged cell phone with you.
· Carry a set of hand spikes to help you work your way out onto the surface of the ice if you go through. Holding one in each hand, you can alternately punch them into the ice and pull yourself up and out. You can make these at home, using large nails, or you can purchase them at stores that sell fishing supplies.
· Carry a safety line that can be thrown to someone who has gone through the ice.
· Heated fishing shanties must have good ventilation to prevent deadly carbon monoxide poisoning. Open a window or the door part way to allow in fresh air.

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World Premiere of the Secret Garden in Rutland And Weston

On January 4th, New England and beyond will have the opportunity to see the East Coast premiere of the opera The Secret Garden. Making its debut at San Francisco Opera in 2013, the opera received rave reviews and was attended by audiences of all ages in packed houses. This will actually be the World Premiere of the revised opera - composer Nolan Gasser and lyricist Carey Harrison have been busy all year tweaking scenes and adding notes to the original manuscript especially for the Opera Theatre of Weston (OTW) production which will run from January 4 to 11 at the Paramount Theatre in Rutland and at the Weston Playhouse, Vermont.

It is not often that Vermont receives such an opportunity. This is certainly a huge coup for the tiny opera company, which has previously taken on successful Vermont premieres, such as The Little Prince by renowned film composer Rachel Portman. Nolan Gasser stated, “The enthusiasm and impressive creativity that Opera Theatre of Weston has already revealed about their upcoming production, along with its terrific cast, gives me great confidence that our opera is destined for a great run in Vermont."

The classic children’s novel, The Secret Garden, is a timeless tale of triumph over tragedy and the healing power of nature that is geared to the entire family. When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle's great mansion on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of unsettling secrets. The gardens surrounding the odd property are Mary's escape. When Mary discovers the key to the mysterious walled-in garden, she unlocks a hidden world where unexpected friendships and a new life bloom.

Mary Westbrook-Geha will conduct the professional cast and orchestra for the 2 pm full-length public matinees on January 4 in Rutland and on January 10 and 11 in Weston. Four local students will portray the animals in the story: Mary Anderson of Chester will dance the transformative role of the Robin; Morgan Wallace of Rutland (Fox), Anna Pace of Manchester (Fawn) and Evangeline Bulick of Dorset (Squirrel) will join the chorus in the garden scenes.

Southern Vermont schools, many of which have been treated to a pre-performance outreach visit by OTW Choreographer and Educator Ashley Hensel-Browning, will be attending the one-hour condensed and narrated matinee performances. Another World Premiere, the school version will be performed by the entire professional cast and four instrumentalists. All audiences will enjoy the original, stunning scenic projections by Naomie Kremer, designer of the original production at SFO, in a special video adaptation.

For more information and to purchase tickets, go to www.operatheatre
ofweston.com
, phone 802.824-3821 or e-mail otw@sover.net.

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Rutland Recreation & Parks Department Activities

Skate With Santa on Monday, December 22. Santa will be at Giorgetti Arena from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm and will skate from 10:30 – 11:30. Intended for ages 10 and under plus parents/grandparents who are encouraged to join their children on the ice. Admission is FREE with special $1.00 skate rentals.

Rutland Recreation’s 1st & 2nd Grade Basketball signs ups are going on now! Kids will have fun learning the basic skills needed to play the game. They will learn to dribble, pass and shoot in this 45 minute introduction to the world of basketball. Parents are encouraged to get involved and help staff. Registration fee includes a t-shirt. Program starts January 3rd. Avoid $10 late fee and register by December 21. Register at rutlandrec.com or stop by Rutland Recreation offices at 16 North Street Extension.

Skating lessons at Giorgetti Arena! Second session starts January 3 – register at rutlandrec.com by December 23rd to avoid a $10 late registration fee. Lessons for youth, teens and adults – Saturday mornings for 30 minutes and fee includes 30 minutes of additional self-guided practice time. Fees are $45 for city residents and $56 for non-residents. Register online or at the Rutland Recreation office at 16 North Street Extension.

Rutland Youth Theatre, in collaboration with Lakes Region Youth Orchestra presents The Snowman at the Casella Theatre at Castleton State College. Show date is Saturday, December 13th at 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm. The performance is the tale of a boy who builds a snowman one winter's day. That night, at the stroke of twelve, the snowman comes to life and the two venture into the night. The boy and the snowman take flight visiting special places, including Father Christmas. The story’s theme song "Walking in the Air" is the only spoken language. All other acting is done in pantomime. LRYO will be the orchestra starring in the show! (check animated version The Snowman on www.youtube.com) Admission is $12 per person with special family rate offered. Tickets can be purchased online at www.lryo.org.

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Good Old Fashioned Snow Day

Snow Day

Kaylee Kosmalski and Brooke Schaffer took advantage of the snow day last Wednesday. They were all smiles while coming down “Church Hill” at thecfhurch of the Good Shepherd in Rutland, a popular sledding spot. Sam’s Good News photo by Natalie Coons.

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United Way hires New Executive Director

Rutland – United Way of Rutland County has hired well-known local radio host and broadcaster, Nanci Gordon, to lead the organization as the Executive Director. Gordon, who will begin the position on January 15, 2015, will replace Traci Moore, who served as the organization’s Executive Director since February 2011.

In a statement, volunteer Board President, Chris Halnon, said, “The United Way of Rutland County Board of Directors is very pleased to welcome Nanci Gordon as the Executive Director. Nanci has been a valued leader in our Rutland County community for many years through her roles as a local broadcaster, and work with various non-profit organizations throughout our region. Nanci has illustrated her commitment to the community and has consistently inspired local residents to be involved in important community initiatives to assist those in need.

Halnon continued by saying, “The United Way of Rutland County supports the local community in a variety of ways, and currently has many exciting initiatives in place. Nanci will be coming into a strong organization that is positioned to positively impact the community. Nanci’s passion for our community is remarkable. We look forward to Nanci’s leadership and our work together.”

When reached for comment, Nanci Gordon stated, “People who know me from the radio tell me that they can sense that I am deeply and sincerely invested in the well-being of the people of the Rutland region. I have always been very grateful to hear that, because being of service is what really matters most to me about being a broadcaster.

What listeners may not know is that concurrently with my radio career for the last ten years, I have also been working in the human services field--including for some United Way member agencies. Becoming Executive Director of United Way of Rutland County seems to me like a real dovetailing of the skills I've developed and the experiences I have had in both fields, and building on established relationships across all sectors of the community. I strongly believe in the mission of the United Way, I'm honored by the board's confidence in me, and I am honored to take on this new role."

United Way of Rutland County is currently working to raise $570,000 in support of local health and human service organizations through its 2014 fundraising campaign. To date, volunteers have raised about 62% of the goal in pledges toward that effort. Moore will continue to manage the organization and the 2014 campaign in conjunction with the organization’s volunteer leadership through mid-January 2015.

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Clean Bird Feeders Help Keep Birds Healthy

Bird Feeders

Many Vermonters enjoy watching birds at their bird feeders in the winter. Vt Fish & Wildlife says thoroughly cleaning the feeders once a month will help keep birds healthy. Photo by John Hall.

Montpelier, Vt. – The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department says it’s alright to put out those bird feeders now that Vermont’s black bears are sleeping in their dens for the winter. But, the department offers some advice about bird feeder cleanliness before you run out and buy that first twenty dollar bag of seed.

Fish & Wildlife says cleaning bird feeders on a regular basis is an important and often overlooked component of feeding birds so they don’t become sick.

“Feeding birds in the winter is a source of great enjoyment for bird enthusiasts, but it can also cause diseases to spread quickly among wild birds,” says John Buck, the state’s lead biologist on migratory birds. “It is critical to clean those birdfeeders at least once a month in order to prevent a buildup of harmful pathogens.”

Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites can cause diseases such as aspergillosis, salmonella, avian pox, trichomoniasis, and conjunctivitis. Species commonly affected by bird feeder diseases are redpolls, pine siskins, goldfinches, sparrows, and cardinals.

Buck recommends using a solution of one part bleach to nine parts hot water to kill bacteria. Hot water with unscented dish detergent also does an excellent job. Wear rubber gloves to avoid any contamination. Be sure to clean inside and outside surfaces. Bottle brushes work well in tube feeders.

Be sure to thoroughly rinse your feeders to prevent residual chlorine from being ingested by birds. Then, dry the feeders well before filling them again. Any remaining moisture could lead to mold and mildew that can cause rotten, unhealthy seed.

Also, take time to remove seed and droppings in nearby areas where birds congregate. Birds can spill seed and leave debris several feet away from feeders.

Clean birdfeeders and feeding areas will attract more birds and keep them healthier for birders to enjoy.

Additional information about diseases at bird feeders can be found at:

www.nwhc.usgs.gov/
publications/fact_sheets/
coping_with_diseases_
at_birdfeeders.jsp

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Holiday Baseball Camp

College of St. Joseph will conduct its first annual Holiday Baseball Camp on the CSJ campus from Dec. 28-30.

CSJ head baseball coach Bob Godlewski and his coaching staff will focus the camp on pitching, catching and hitting, with an emphasis on fundamentals and individualized instruction. Members of the Fighting Saints baseball team will also participate.

Baseball camp is open to boys and girls ages 10 through 17. Tuition is $90 before Dec. 15 and $110 after that time. Tuition will also be accepted at the door on the first day of the clinic. There is a family discount, which allows siblings to register for $75 regardless of the registration date.

Camp hours are from from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 28, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 29 and 30.

Each participant will receive a camp T-shirt and lunch will be provided on Monday and Tuesday.

For more information, contact Godlewski at 802-776-5278 or bob.godlewski@csj.edu. Please send payments to: Attn: Baseball, College of St. Joseph, 71 Clement Road, Rutland, VT 05701

About Coach Godlewski

Bob Godlewski has extensive experience as a baseball coach and player. During 11 seasons as coach at Columbia-Greene Community College, his teams compiled a 276-118 record, winning 70 percent of their games.

His teams produced 38 all-region players and 13 All-American’s, and five of his players went on to play professionally. Godlewski has also served as pitching coach at Castleton State College and head coach at SUNY Adirondack.

Godlewski also spent seven years as a scout for the Tampa Bay Rays. As a player, he was a pro prospect who had a successful college career as a pitcher.

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NOFA Vermont Receives $90,000 Grant From Newman’s Own Foundation

Part of $10 Million to Improve Fresh Food Access and Nutrition Education

Richmond, Vt –The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA Vermont) has been awarded a two-year $90,000 grant from Newman’s Own Foundation, the independent foundation created by the late actor and philanthropist, Paul Newman. The award to NOFA Vermont was made by Newman’s Own Foundation as part of its $10 million commitment over three years to improve fresh food access and nutrition education for underserved communities.

The grant to NOFA Vermont will be used to support our statewide food security programs that increase access to local, fresh and nutritious foods for limited-income Vermonters while supporting viable farms.

“NOFA-VT has worked in a variety of ways over the past forty years to support limited-income Vermonters to access local foods while bolstering the economic viability of Vermont’s farms,” said Market Development and Community Food Security Programs Manager, Erin Buckwalter. “This grant is enabling us to expand these programs over the next two years, supporting more limited-income Vermonters and Vermont farmers.”

“There are so many challenges to improving nutrition access and education, especially for those who are most disadvantaged,” said Lisa Walker, Managing Director, Newman’s Own Foundation. “We are excited to help NOFA Vermont and many other nonprofits across the country make an impact in improving nutrition in urban and rural communities.”

For more information about Newman’s Own Foundation nutrition grants, visit: www.newmansown
foundation.org
.

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Honoring a Loved One

Throughout our lives, people and animals often become important to us and make a great impact. There are many ways to remember or honor these special individuals. One way is to make a donation in their name to Rutland County Humane Society (RCHS). For animal lovers, a terrific holiday or birthday gift might be a donation to RCHS. A donation is a great way to remember a favorite pet or family member who meant a lot to you. Joyous occasions, such as birthdays and weddings, are other reasons to donate. When someone asks you what you want as a gift, suggest a donation to RCHS! So next time you're thinking about the "purrfect" gift for a loved one, please remember the homeless animals at RCHS. Your donation can really make a difference! If you have any questions about donating to RCHS please call us at (802) 483-9171 or visit the website at www.rchsvt.org.

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Rutland South Rotary Club Honors Rutland City Police Chief Baker

Rutland  South Rotary Club Honors Rutland City Police Chief Baker

One of Rotary’s mottos is “Service Above Self”. To honor outgoing Rutland City Police Chief James Baker, Rutland South Rotary Club bestowed the “Service Above Self” Award on him. This special award acknowledges Chief Baker’s dedication, hard work, commitment, and tireless efforts to help change the culture of the Rutland City Police Department and how people think and feel about the Rutland Community. Along with the award was a $1000 donation from Rutland South Rotary Club in Chief Baker’s name to be used for scholarships enabling children to attend summer camps who might not have the means to do so. Present at the occasion were Larry Jensen, Chairman of Rutland City Police Commission; Larry Bayle-Executive Director, Boys & Girls Club Rutland County; Chief James Baker; Korrine Rodrigue-Community Impact Director, United Way of Rutland County; David Correll, President, Rutland South Rotary Club; Scott Tucker, Executive Director, Project Vision and Rutland City Mayor Chris Louras.

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Online Bill Pay Now Available at Rutland Regional Medical Center

Rutland, VT -- Rutland Regional Medical Center now offers patients the convenience of paying for hospital bills online. Online Bill Pay is an automated bill payment application that enables patients to view their bills, make one-time payments, or create auto-payments to pay outstanding balances using a secure Web-based platform. It’s secure and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Patients will need a copy of their most recent statement showing their visit number. A link is available on the Rutland Regional Medical Center’s web site home page at www.RRMC.org. Once enrollment is complete, users can set-up an individual or family profile, make payments, securely store payment information, and print or e-mail receipts. Online Bill pay accepts American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa and checking accounts. There is no fee for this service. For more call 802.747.1751 or toll-free at 866.460.8277

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Award-Winning Rutland Youth Theatre Presents “Shrek The Musical”

In a faraway kingdom, the green ogre Shrek finds his swamp invaded by banished fairytale misfits, runaways who've been cast off by Lord Farquaad, a tiny terror with big ambitions. When Shrek sets off with a wise-cracking donkey to confront Farquaad, he's handed a task - if he rescues feisty princess Fiona, his swamp will be righted. Only a fairy tale wouldn't be complete without twists and turns along the way. Part romance and part twisted fairy tale, “Shrek The Musical” is an irreverently fun show for the whole family.

“Shrek The Musical is produced by Saskia Hagen Groom and guest directed by Meghan Hakey. Musical Director is Loren Sylvester. Choreographer is Justin Gardner. Production and Stage Manager is Mikki Lane. Music by Jeanine Tesori. Book and Lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire DreamWorks Animation Motion Picture and the book by William Steig.

Shrek The Musical

Shrek The Musical

Shrek The Musical

Show times are December 19th at 7pm and December 20th at 2pm and 7pm at the Paramount Theatre in Rutland. Tickets are $10 children/seniors and $12 adults.

Rutland Youth Theatre is part of the Rutland Recreation and Parks Department and is a non-for-profit organization. For more information on upcoming productions and workshops, please visit www.rutlandrec.com/
theatre
or visit us on Facebook.

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Vermont Scores Above National Average on National Preparedness Measure

Burlington – Vermont scored above the national average in 18 of 24 categories of a 2014 National Health Security Preparedness Index (NHSPI) that measures a state’s ability to protect public health in the event of epidemics, foodborne disease outbreaks, terrorism and other emergencies.

Overall, Vermont scored 7.8 out of 10 points, compared to the national average of 7.3.

The index, compiled by the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), measures preparedness strengths and challenges including health surveillance, information management, healthcare delivery, community planning and engagement, and Emergency Medical Services.

“The Index measures more than 200 areas of preparedness, and I am happy to see that we scored highest in the nation in two areas that are fundamental to an effective public health emergency response: Incident Management & Multi-Agency Coordination (9.7 out of 10.0), and Cross-Sector/Community Collaboration (10.0 out of 10.0),” said Acting Health Commissioner Tracy Dolan. “We continually face new and evolving health threats, such as the Ebola epidemic in West Africa that will test our ability to prepare and respond.”

Areas where Vermont scored below the national average were Long-Term Care (5.2 points compared to the national average of 6.2), and Management of Volunteers during Emergencies (5.7 points compared to the national average of 5.8).

According to the website, the index is not intended for ranking states because states face different threats that require a varied and diverse localized response. Key sources of data for the report include the United Health Foundation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To view the index results visit: www.nhspi.org/.

For information on public health preparedness in Vermont, go to: www.healthvermont.gov/
e_ready.aspx
.

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Vermont Fish & Wildlife Calendar and Other Gifts Available

Fish & Wildlife Calendar

Montpelier, Vt. – The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and Vermont Life Magazine still have some copies of the 2015 Fish & Wildlife Calendar available. This year’s edition of the calendar maintains the popular large format and includes inset images, matching the format of Vermont Life’s other popular calendars.

The new Vermont Fish & Wildlife calendar is filled with spectacular photos of Vermont wildlife and striking scenes of people enjoying the state’s vast fish and wildlife resources. The calendar includes hunting, fishing and trapping season dates for each month – the perfect gift for any hunter or angler! Supplies are running low, so get your copy today.

Vermont Fish & Wildlife calendars can be ordered online from Vermont Life’s website at www.VermontLifeCatalog.com or by phone (1-800-455-3399).

There are also copies of original wildlife art prints available on the department website at www.vtfishand
wildlife.com
. The prints reflect the original paintings of a loon, brook trout and white-tail deer that appear on the new conservation license plates. The paintings were done by Berlin, Vermont artist Linda Mirabile and former Fish & Wildlife commissioner Patrick Berry. There are both signed and unsigned editions of the prints available, the perfect gift for any wildlife enthusiast.

There are also several books available for purchase on the department website, including the Guide to Wildlife Management Areas, the Fishes of Vermont, and several other natural resource books.

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GMP Becomes First Utility in the World to Receive B Corp Certification

GMP Recognized for Commitment to Employees, Customers & Vermont

Colchester, Vt – Green Mountain Power thas been recognized as the first utility in the world to become a Certified B Corp. B Corps are companies that believe business can be a force for good and are certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Jay Coen Gilbert, a co-founder of B Lab, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield and other Vermont companies, joined Green Mountain Power as they accepted this distinguished certification at a celebration held at their Colchester headquarters.

“This is a tremendous honor and reinforces our deep commitment to put customers first, and create positive change in the community and environment through our work as Vermont’s Energy Company of the Future. We are thrilled to be counted among so many great companies across Vermont and around the world,” said Mary Powell, GMP President and CEO. “At GMP, we know that energy can improve lives and transform communities. Energy can spur socio-economic change for residents, helping people save money and move toward more renewable and local sources.”

There are 1165 B Corporations in 37 countries, including now 21 in Vermont. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s pioneered the business model “do good by doing good.” As B Corp members, Ben and Jerry praised GMP for being the first utility to embrace being a force for positive change.

“We are especially pleased that an important legacy of Ben & Jerry's was that the company made the case for a new way of doing business, including a concern for the community and the planet in day-to-day business decisions,” said Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. “That approach is now enshrined in B Corp status. Congratulations to Green Mountain Power for becoming the very first utility company in the world to take this step. We hope their commitment and their business success will inspire others.”

To get a B Corp certification, GMP had to demonstrate its record of accomplishment and ongoing commitment in four areas: environment, employees, community and governance.

“We're thrilled to welcome Green Mountain Power as the first electric utility provider to earn B Corp certification. Clean, affordable energy is crucial to creating a shared and durable prosperity,” said Jay Coen Gilbert, a co-founder of B Lab, the nonprofit behind the B Corp movement. “We are proud to count Green Mountain Power among the leading Vermont B Corps that are creating stronger communities, higher quality jobs, and a healthy environment."

GMP – Vermont’s Energy Company of the Future – is leading an exciting transformation that is delivering cutting edge energy products and services to help Vermonters save money by using less energy. This year GMP lowered rates for customers.

"GMP deserves credit for raising the standard of excellence for utility and corporate social responsibility and regard for its customers with its acceptance of the challenges embedded to achieve and to maintain B Corporation status," said Richard Sedano, director of US programs for the Regulatory Assistance Project. "Utilities are vital sources of innovation — this step by GMP, added to others they have taken, indicates a commitment to maximizing its potential to deliver value to Vermont in new ways."

The 21 Certified B Corps in Vermont are: Vermont Creamery, Business Culture Consultants, Image Outfitters, Cabot Creamery Co-Op, Merritt & Merritt & Moulton, Morris Consulting, Rhino Foods, Advance Humanity, Coffee Enterprises, Ben & Jerry’s, Forward Philanthropy, Gardeners Supply, King Arthur Flour Company, Sustain, SunCommon, New Chapter, Chroma, Clean Ethics, Seventh Generation, Clean Yield and Green Mountain Power.

To learn more about GMP and B Corp’s certification go to: www.greenmountain
power.com/about/b-corp/
or www.bcorporation.net/
community/green-
mountain-power
.

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RAVNAH Hospice Memorial Service Rescheduled

Rutland VT -- Rescheduled due to inclement weather, the Rutland Area Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice (RAVNAH) will now host their annual Tree of Remembrance Tree Lighting Ceremony and Memorial Service on Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 6 p.m. at the Franklin Conference Center in Rutland. The Tree of Remembrance is a time for community members to gather with others to remember someone who has died.
Through music, readings, and reflections we support each other in our loss and honor the lives of those who have touched us. The service will include music by Trillium; reflections by RAVNAH staff, clergy and caregivers; lighting of the Tree of Remembrance, and honoring those represented on the Wall of Remembrance. All are welcome.
If you plan to attend and would like to have a name read at the service, please call Ann at 802.770.1516.

RAVNAH's Hospice program advocates quality end-of-life care for terminally ill patients and their families.

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It’s a Winter Wonderland But Keep Your Pets Safe

While so far this year winter seems to come and go, one day warm the next cold, it’s a good time to think about winter safety for your pet. There are some ways to keep your pet safe and healthy through the winter months.

Inside:

  1. Be careful of space heaters, pets can knock them over creating a fire hazard.
  2. Give your pet a choice of sleeping spaces so they can sleep where they are not too hot or too cold.
  3. Cold or heated air can cause dry skin. Bathe your pet less frequently and brush them to remove flakey, itchy skin.
  4. Make sure they maintain a healthy weight by adjusting their food intake and providing fresh water often.

Outside:

  1. Many think that dogs and cats are not susceptible to cold because of their fur but they can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite the same as humans. Limit the time your pet spends outdoors. This also applies to leaving a pet in your car. Cars cool off quickly and your pet can become hypothermic. This is especially true of old, young or ill pets.
  2. If your dog is short haired, small, or hates the cold, a jacket will help him stay comfortable while being outside.
  3. Before your start your car in the morning, make some noise, thump on the hood. Cats seek the warmth of the engine to sleep in and can be gravely injured or killed when the car starts.
  4. After a walk or romp check your pet’s paws. Cracked, bleeding pads should be treated. Wash your pet’s feet or wipe them with wet towels to remove any chemical deicer.

Walking on frozen ponds or streams can present a danger to your pet. Breaking through the ice can be dangerous for your pet and for you.

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Plan Now to Get Full Benefit of Saver’s Credit; Tax Credit Helps Low- and Moderate-Income Workers Save for Retirement

Washington — Low- and moderate-income workers can take steps now to save for retirement and earn a special tax credit in 2014 and years ahead, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

The saver’s credit helps offset part of the first $2,000 workers voluntarily contribute to IRAs and 401(k) plans and similar workplace retirement programs. Also known as the retirement savings contributions credit, the saver’s credit is available in addition to any other tax savings that apply.

Eligible workers still have time to make qualifying retirement contributions and get the saver’s credit on their 2014 tax return. People have until April 15, 2015, to set up a new individual retirement arrangement or add money to an existing IRA for 2014. However, elective deferrals (contributions) must be made by the end of the year to a 401(k) plan or similar workplace program, such as a 403(b) plan for employees of public schools and certain tax-exempt organizations, a governmental 457 plan for state or local government employees, or the Thrift Savings Plan for federal employees. Employees who are unable to set aside money for this year may want to schedule their 2015 contributions soon so their employer can begin withholding them in January.

The saver’s credit can be claimed by:

• Married couples filing jointly with incomes up to $60,000 in 2014 or $61,000 in 2015;
• Heads of Household with incomes up to $45,000 in 2014 or $45,750 in 2015; and
• Married individuals filing separately and singles with incomes up to $30,000 in 2014 or $30,500 in 2015.
Like other tax credits, the saver’s credit can increase a taxpayer’s refund or reduce the tax owed. Though the maximum saver’s credit is $1,000, $2,000 for married couples, the IRS cautioned that it is often much less and, due in part to the impact of other deductions and credits, may, in fact, be zero for some taxpayers.

A taxpayer’s credit amount is based on his or her filing status, adjusted gross income, tax liability and amount contributed to qualifying retirement programs. Form 8880 is used to claim the saver’s credit, and its instructions have details on figuring the credit correctly.

The saver’s credit supplements other tax benefits available to people who set money aside for retirement. For example, most workers may deduct their contributions to a traditional IRA. Though Roth IRA contributions are not deductible, qualifying withdrawals, usually after retirement, are tax-free. Normally, contributions to 401(k) and similar workplace plans are not taxed until withdrawn.
Other special rules that apply to the saver’s credit include the following:

• Eligible taxpayers must be at least 18 years of age.
• Anyone claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return cannot take the credit.
• A student cannot take the credit. A person enrolled as a full-time student during any part of 5 calendar months during the year is considered a student.

Certain retirement plan distributions reduce the contribution amount used to figure the credit. For 2014, this rule applies to distributions received after 2011 and before the due date, including extensions, of the 2014 return. Form 8880 and its instructions have details on making this computation.

Begun in 2002 as a temporary provision, the saver’s credit was made a permanent part of the tax code in legislation enacted in 2006. To help preserve the value of the credit, income limits are now adjusted annually to keep pace with inflation. More information about the credit is on IRS.gov.

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