For better or worse, we start the June dashboard numbers roundup, with numbers from the Vermont Department of Health and Brattleboro Memorial Hospital with looks at nearby counties in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
You can find the May dashboard reporting here, and the April numbers here.
The Brattleboro Selectboard will approve their own budget for the first time, due to a special act of the Vermont legislature to bypass Town Meeting Representatives this year in an effort to get the budget approved prior to the new fiscal year on July 1. The board will also discuss options for convening a Representative Town Meeting at some point.
Water and sewer rates will be raised, downtown parklets for businesses will be purchased, the Solid Waste Fund will be discussed and might be folded into the General Fund, another COVID-19 update will be given, and even more will happen during this packed agenda. Prediction: watch as Selectboard members mention that they hate the dog warrant language again this year! “It’s the owners, not the animals…” You can bring up other items and animals not on the agenda during Public Participation. Just don’t ask your questions in the chat room of the virtual meeting.
Vermont is again “opening the spigot” to allow gatherings of up to 25 people if certain rules are followed. There are new guidelines for close contact businesses (you can get your hair cut again) and summer camps and college programs, as well. Pick your own agriculture has a green light to get going, as do flea markets, gyms, libraries, massage parlors, museums, tattoo parlors, theaters, nail salons, and the similar.
None of this looks particularly easy or fun, and there are a lot of hoops to jump through to gather and work correctly. Masks and distancing rules still apply. Participants must give up contact information. Curbside pickup remains encouraged. Still, if your goal is to get out and about, here are the new guidelines for you to follow:
The Brattleboro Recreation and Parks Department is pleased to announce that the Living Memorial Park Pool / Rotary Water Playground will be opening for the season on Saturday, June 20th, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. Priority will be given to Brattleboro Residents and will be open to Non-Brattleboro-Vermont Residents as space allows. Due to COVID-19, the pool schedule, fees, and procedures have been updated.
Pool Reservations: Pool reservations will be taken daily beginning at 10:00 a.m., and reservations can only be taken at the swimming pool by calling (802) 254-6700. Only 25 people including staff will be allowed into the gated area at a time. Please note that only same day reservations will be accepted, and you can only reserve one time slot a day. Additional slots may be available by calling the Pool after 2:30 p.m. When making a reservation you will be required to provide your address, phone number and first and last name of everyone in your reservation party. If all time slots are full you can add your name to the waiting list in case of no shows or cancellations.
At its meeting last night, the Brattleboro Selectboard reaffirmed and slightly modified its Emergency Order requiring that face coverings be worn by all employees, customers, and visitors in any store, office, or other indoor setting where business is conducted.
The modification clarified that children under 5 “are not required” to wear face coverings. The original order stated that masks “should not be placed on” children under 5. The remainder of the order is unchanged and it continues to apply equally to businesses, non-profit organizations, and governmental facilities anywhere in Brattleboro.
Last week I, as Vermont AFL-CIO President, talked with WGDR’s Carl Etnier (a UAW member) about COVID-19, the health concerns of Early Childhood Educators, the fight of Burlington City workers (AFSCME) to defend their pay and benefits (while not suffering layoffs), the need to rebuild the economy through a more directly democratic Green New Deal, and Labor’s support for Progressive David Zuckerman for Governor.
It is beyond the pale that while we continue to struggle and suffer during the pandemic, that the elite and many politicians are calling for cuts to social spending, the closing of colleges, for workers to lose their jobs or suffer wage & benefit reductions, and for the wealthy among us to continue benefiting from the massive tax cuts reaped under the Trump Administration. All the while tens-of-thousands of Vermonters are out of work (40 million across the Nation). Thousands are already lining up at Vermont National Guard bread lines! And yet the rich, and too many politicians who they wield influence over, want to protect their comfort and privilege by asking YOU to tighten YOUR belt. The Vermont AFL-CIO rejects this basic premise!
The Brattleboro Selectboard had a long discussion about their long discussion last week about face coverings. Is it too strict? Not stick enough? What about the children? They then moved on to a discussion of raising water and sewer rates to help pay for the new water filtration plant. Is 6% a year too much? Is 2% too low?
The final discussion was of the parking system, and how with no income and continued expenses, the budget doesn’t look so good. Should the Parking Fund remain an enterprise fund or be rolled back into the General Fund? And who has the best ceiling?
The Town of Brattleboro announces the filing of the 2020 Abstract Grand List. Applications to schedule a grievance hearing are available at the Assessor’s Office by appointment or online at www.Brattleboro.org on the Assessor’s page. Applications for a hearing must be received in the Assessor’s office by 5:00pm on June 9, 2020. The Brattleboro Board of Listers will hold grievance hearings via GoToMeeting starting Tuesday, June 9. See the attached Warning for instructions on how to access GoToMeeting.
WHAT IS NEW TODAY
• Free Wi-Fi at the Library:
Brooks Memorial Library is providing limited outdoor tables and chairs for wi-fi access along the Main St. area of the library (weather permitting). Tables will be positioned in accordance with social distancing requirements for café seating. All users are requested to wear masks, use hand sanitizer, and notify staff upon leaving so that tables and chairs can be disinfected between users.
• At its meeting tonight at 6:15pm on GoToMeeting, the Selectboard will hear additional public comment on the emergency order requiring face coverings to be worn in all indoor locations where the public is invited to transact business. At this meeting, the Selectboard also will give preliminary consideration to staff proposals on the Parking Fund budget, the Utilities Fund budget, and Utilities Fund rate increases.
As the death toll continues to climb in the U.S. and worldwide during the COVID 19 pandemic, economic and social needs are becoming more of a priority than the prevention of morbidity and mortality. Societies are opening and trying to be as cautious as possible, but even scientifically based efforts and careful monitoring are nothing more than a crap shoot. Every move we make is nothing more than wishful thinking, because we still do not know a lot about the potential of the virus
If you want to stay safe during the coming months the only way to do so is to minimize your contact with other people, wear a face mask in public places and use hand sanitizer liberally. This may sound like the same old mantra and it is, because the COVID 19 virus is still multiplying among us and we have no cure and only supportive treatment for those who contract the virus.
Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today announced the resumption of additional business operations, including outdoor seating at restaurants and bars, hair salons and barber shops and some additional health services.
“I believe these steps forward will be welcome news for many and because Vermonters are being smart to stay safe, our data continues to show we’re still moving in the right direction,” said Governor Scott. “As more Vermonters get back to work and there are more places to visit and meet with others, it is more important than ever to stay vigilant about your health and the health of others.”
Governor Scott has announced that F-35A fighter planes will be flying over Vermont municipalities on Friday, May 22. They take off at noon in Burlington and will fly for 90 minutes, over Bennington, Berlin, Brattleboro, Burlington, Essex Junction, Middlebury, Morrisville, Newport, Randolph, Rutland, Springfield, St Albans, St Johnsbury, Townshend, White River Junction, and Windsor.
This is billed as a salute to health care workers and front-line COVID-19 responders and essential workers.
WHAT IS NEW TODAY
• The Brattleboro Selectboard issued an Emergency Order at its meeting last night requiring that face coverings be worn by all employees, customers, and visitors in any store, office, or other indoor setting where business is conducted. This requirement is effective immediately and applies equally to businesses, non-profit organizations, and governmental facilities anywhere in Brattleboro.
The Selectboard made this decision after a lengthy discussion that included substantial public input on the GoToMeeting platform where Selectboard meetings are currently being held without any specific physical location due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Here is the full text of the resolution that the Selectboard adopted to issue this order:
Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today announced a $400 million economic relief and recovery package, using funds from the $1.25 billion the state received from the Federal CARES Act.
The two-phase proposal, which is expected to be the first of multiple packages necessary to fully recover, will start with $310 million for immediate emergency relief to the most impacted sectors and businesses to be followed by $90 million in long-term recovery investments.
“The relief and recovery package we are proposing today, takes bold action to bring support to Vermonters in need, as we continue to manage this public health crisis and open the economy back up,” said Governor Scott. “We are looking to address the immediate cash needs of businesses so they can survive, while also laying the foundation for our economy to emerge stronger and thrive over the long term. These local businesses and their employees drive our economy, put food on the tables of Vermonters and help fund critical needs for families, public schools and so much more. We must step up and act quickly to help them survive this emergency and go on to thrive in the future.”
The Brattleboro Selectboard issued an Emergency Order at its meeting last night requiring that face coverings be worn by all employees, customers, and visitors in any store, office, or other indoor setting where business is conducted. This requirement is effective immediately and applies equally to businesses, non-profit organizations, and governmental facilities anywhere in Brattleboro. The Selectboard made this decision after a lengthy discussion that included substantial public input on the GoToMeeting platform where Selectboard meetings are currently being held without any specific physical location due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Here is the full text of the resolution that the Selectboard adopted to issue this order:
Be it resolved by the Selectboard of the Town of Brattleboro, Vermont, as follows:
The Brattleboro Selectboard passed a resolution at their Tuesday meeting requiring face coverings to be worn by customers and employees in all retail establishments. It was part of an expanded discussion of COVID-19 and business issues.
Many agenda items relating to Utility and Parking budgets were postponed to a special meeting next week.
Class of 2020, welcome to your virtual commencement address. Please mute your microphones.
You don’t need me to tell you that the Class of 2020 is like no other. A world locked down over a virus caused your senior year to go off the rails.
Some of you were probably happy to get out of classes and in-person tests, but you were denied the reward that every other senior before you received for faithfully attending school for so many years – the joy of the final countdown to graduation.
WHAT IS NEW TODAY
• The Recreation and Parks Department has received many questions about the usage of Town parks facilities by people from outside of Brattleboro. Recreation officials all over Vermont have received many similar questions. In the Governor’s “Stay Home – Stay Safe” addendum issued on Friday, May 15, he clarified earlier instructions regarding limits on day travel to Vermont from out of state.
As the pandemic evolved there seemed to be hope for a unified effort to combat a common enemy. Despite the political polarization in the United States, it did seem possible that we might be able to cast aside some of the “us vs them” mentality to join forces and minimize the death and destruction that the COVID 19 pandemic is causing.
Instead, we have business as usual. The U.S. president is displaying more and more signs and symptoms of progressive mental illness. Everything is about him and, if you don’t agree with his unfounded recommendations about dealing with the virus, then he will punish you by withholding support and supplies from your state.
Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott today signed Addendum 14, a Be Smart, Stay Safe order to extend the State of Emergency to June 15 and update previous emergency orders to reflect re-openings and eased restrictions announced in recent weeks.
State data and modeling indicate the spread of COVID-19 continues to slow and Vermont now has one of the lowest 3-day and 7-day growth rates in the country. The Governor and Department of Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD, however, continue to caution that the state must also consider neighboring states where the virus is much more prevalent and outbreaks are still occurring.
“Vermonters have stepped up in a time of crisis, following guidance from the beginning to quickly slow the spread and keep our health care system from being overwhelmed. These efforts have saved hundreds and hundreds of lives and given us time to build the testing and tracing capacity we need to contain future outbreaks,” said Governor Scott. “The important thing to remember is that the smarter we are about our individual actions, and the more disciplined everyone can be during each step forward, the more steps we’ll be able to take to safely restart Vermont.”