WRC NEWSLETTER                                              JANUARY 2015
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WRC Commissioners

January 12, 12:00 pm:

Public Policy & Leg. 


January 12, 4:30 pm:

Transportation Committee


January 12, 5:30 pm:

Planning Coordination Committee


January 13, 5:30 pm:

Project Review Committee


January 13, 7:00 pm:

Executive Board


January 14, 2:00 pm:

Natural Resources Committee


January 15, 4:30 pm:

Community Development Committee


January 26, 12:00 pm:

January 27, 5:30 pm:

Marlboro College Graduate Center, Brattleboro, VT


WRC will be CLOSED on the following dates:
Monday, January 19, 2015


**All Committee Meetings take place in the WRC Conference Room unless otherwise noted.


**All meetings are subject to change, please check the website for updates.

Upcoming Grant Opportunities

National Endowment for the Arts

Art Works

DEADLINE: February 19, 2015 & July 23, 2015

Challenge America

DEADLINE: April 16, 2015

For more information
click here

USDA Rural Development -Community Facility  Loans
& Grants

DEADLINE:  Ongoing (contact USDA office)

For more information
click here


Vermont Community Development Program

DEADLINE:  Rolling

For more information
click here:

Vermont Community Foundation

Small & Inspiring

February 2, 2015

Special & Urgent Needs

DEADLINE:  Rolling

For more information
click here

Vermont Recreational Trails Program

February 2, 2015

For more information
click here:  

Windham Foundation

February 11, 2015

For more information
click here:  


Upcoming Grants will be a regular column in WRC Newbriefs, fora complete list please click here
For additional information about grant possibilities for your projects please contact Susan at 


In observance of the 50th anniversary of the Windham Regional Commission, we'll be sharing perspectives about the history the Commission and our service to our towns.


Looking Back

VOL. 4, NO. 6, June 1970


December 1964 saw Brattleboro Chamber of Commerce under leadership of Richard Sykes, Corwin Elwell, and John Hooper mount a regional planning "public interest and information" campaign with a kick-off dinner meeting at Putney Inn. Strong support was given by Development Commissioner Elbert Moulton, state planners Richard Rubino and Bernard Johnson, and Extension Service County Agent Ray Pestle. At March 1965 Town Meetings, 17 towns voted to establish a regional planning program. May 1965 witnessed official formation of Windham Regional Planning Commission with Alden Horton of Wilmington elected chairman. By-Laws were soon adopted and application made for federal "701" funds for a two-year comprehensive planning program. At this time only Brattleboro had an adopted town plan; Brattleboro, Marlboro, and Bellows Falls Village had zoning regulations. Other significant 1965 events were regional conference on planning and development (with Gov. Hoff and Lester Eisner as main speakers) and regional public opinion survey in which 1,058 residents shared their thoughts on course future development and growth ought to take.


In January 1966 a federal planning grant was received and Planners Collaborative of Syracuse, N.Y., was chosen to be WRPC's primary technical consultant in preparation of regional and town comprehensive plans. A report on Population and Housing, 1st of II preliminary Planners Collaborative reports, was published in November. Also published was a Dept. of Employment Security report, Windham County Economic and Manpower Resources. A major conference on "Water Resources and Stream Pollution" was held and town planning tours with consultant Dr. Hollister (Sam) Kent began. Two new towns joined WRPC. WRPC chairman was Bill Schmidt of Rockingham.


The year 1967 saw three more towns join WRPC. Jeremy Freeman of Halifax served as chairman and Bill Schmidt became resident planner. Meetings with VT Electric Power Co. were held on proposed 345 kv lines through II county towns. Legislation and nuclear power plant study committees were formed. "New Route 9" subject was reckoned with for first time. An essay contest on "Windham Region's and My Town's Future" was sponsored for high school students. Windham Region Newsbegan. Phrase "creative localism" was coined and community planning education meetings started with assistance from Extension Service's James Edgerton.


At March 1968 Town Meetings WRPC became WRPDC as all but one member town voted to  continue commission as a planning and development organization. Grant from Vt. Development Dept. and member towns' contributions allowed employment of Bill Schmidt as Ex. Director and Mary LaFontaine as Administrative Assistant. John Veller of Dover elected chairman. Regional housing and rural land tax conferences were held alone with workshops on land use controls, community facilities, etc. Whitingham became 1st town in state to adopt interim zoning.


Wardsboro, Weston and Winhall joined WRPDC in early 1969. John Veller continued as chairman. New staff added were Joe Teller, Associate Director and Joyce Frost, Administrative Assistant. Regional crime prevention planning project carried out under James Timmins' direction; crime prevention action project followed with Brownlow Towle in charge. Rural Land Tax committee formed. Much attention given to environmental issues, especially following three June 1969 meetings with Gov. Davis on subject of land development.


In 1970 Albert White of Rockingham was elected chairman. Environmental interest continued. Environmental legislation and land use controls received much attention; Ellen Ruth Reiss employed as part-time legislative assistant. Testimony given at power line hearings. Major conference on environmental legislation and education held. East-West highway committee formed. Regional plan adopted. By June 1970 eight towns had adopted town plans; nineteen towns had some form of zoning. Marlboro became 1st town in state to adopt subdivision regulations under new state enabling law. Dover/Wilmington Ecological planning study begins.

Executive Director

Associate Director

Office Manager

Finance Manager

Senior Planner

Planning Technician

Senior Planner

Senior Planner


Assistant Planner
Save the Date - March 12th!!

Windham Region Selectboards Meeting


During summer 2014 WRC began to research   opportunities to provide additional technical expertise and services for the Windham Region communities.   One focus area of this research was the potential for intermunicipal cooperation for shared municipal services.    Since November WRC has been meeting with a working group of town administrative staff and Selectboard members to further discuss these opportunities.  Many exciting ideas have been generated but further discussion is needed to gain a deeper understanding of what service (s) will be most beneficial to towns in the region.  Windham Region Selectboard members and town administrative staff please save this date for the following meeting:

 March 12, 2015

6:00 p.m.

Location:  TBD

Light Dinner will be provided


More information about the meeting will be coming out in February.  In the meanwhile contact Susan McMahon (susan@windhamregional.org or x 114) if you have questions or suggestions about the meeting or opportunities for shared municipal services.

WRC Receives National Association of Development Organizations 2014 Innovation Award; Recognizes Contribution of Former Executive Director, Jim Matteau and Former Energy Committee Chair, Tom Buchanan


In August, the Windham Regional Commission (WRC) received a 2014 Innovation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Research Foundation for proactive planning around the eventual closure of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station.  At its Full Commission meeting on Tuesday, December 2nd, the WRC presented former Executive Director, Jim Matteau, and former Commissioner from the Town of Londonderry and former chair of the WRC Energy Committee, Tom Buchanan, with certificates of the award in honor of their leadership of the effort that began several years before the plant announced it would cease operation at the end of 2014.   


In 2007, the WRC began studying and analyzing the significant regional economic, fiscal, socioeconomic, and cultural impacts of the eventual closure of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station as part of its engagement in the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) Certificate of Public Good deliberations related to the plant.  The WRC made a conscious decision to remain neutral as to whether or not the plant should continue operations in order to be able to facilitate conversations among all sides of the issue within the region.  However, it recognized the important economic, fiscal, physical and cultural presence of the plant in the region and the fact that at some point, due to economics, design life, or regulatory constraints, the plant would eventually cease operation.  The WRC therefore put much of its focus on what would be in the regions best interests when the plant eventually ceased operation, whenever and for whatever reason that might be.   Based upon the evidence presented by all sides in the PSB dockets, the WRC was able to develop a knowledge base about plant closure impacts on regional employment, taxes, regional income, charitable contributions and other factors, and what closure, decommissioning, spent fuel management, and site restoration conditions would be in the best interest of the region.  As a result, when Entergy announced in August, 2013 that Vermont Yankee would permanently cease generating power by the end of December, 2014; the WRC had a good sense as to what the impacts would be and what closure and decommissioning scenarios would best mitigate those impacts.  We shared this information with our towns, state officials and agencies, and our counterparts in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.


In recognition of this effort and lessons it provides for other regions, the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) invited the WRC to submit an application for a NADO Innovation Award.  The WRC was also invited to participate in a panel discussion at NADO's Annual Training Conference held in Denver, Colorado during August 23rd through 26th.  Susan McMahon, the WRC's Associate Director, represented the WRC on the panel and received the award on behalf of the Commission.


"For 28 years, NADO's Innovation Awards have recognized regional development organizations for their hard work and commitment to promoting economic development in rural and small metropolitan communities across the country. Award recipients have created innovative solutions that build on the unique strengths and challenges of their regions, all while continuing to promote sustainable economic growth not only now, but for many years to come," said NADO President Peter Gregory, Executive Director of the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission in Woodstock, VT.


NADO is a Washington, DC-based association that promotes programs and policies that strengthen local governments, communities, and economies through regional cooperation, program delivery, and comprehensive strategies.  The association's Innovation Awards program recognizes regional development organizations and partnering organizations for improving the economic and community competitiveness of our nation's regions and local communities. 

Roadmap to Efficiency Regional Energy Roundtable - Tuesday, January 20th


Financial consultants frequently advise that "A penny saved is (better than) a penny earned." Energy efficiency is one of the best ways to save a penny-or even thousands of dollars. Please join us for a Windham Regional Energy Roundtable entitled A Roadmap to Energy Efficiency, which will focus on tools and resources available to guide you through the process of reducing your energy consumption on an individual level as well as a community level. The event will be held on Tuesday, January 20 from 6-7:30 pm at Windham and Windsor Housing Trust in the Daly Shoe Building Community Room, located at 68 Birge Street in Brattleboro. Registration will open at 5:40pm. The event is co-sponsored by the Windham and Windsor Housing Trust, Brattleboro Climate Protection, the Sustainable Energy Outreach Network, and the Windham Regional Commission. The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, please contact Kim Smith at ksmith@windhamregional.org or (802) 257-4547 ext. 108.

Study of Economic Impacts to Tri-County Area Due to Vermont Yankee Closure is Released


On December 29, 2014, the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station (VY) ceased generating power.  When fully operational, the facility had over 600 workers, most living in Windham County, VT; Cheshire County, NH; and Franklin County, MA. For over 40 years, VY has been an important component of this region's economy.  So what is the magnitude of economic impact to our tri-state region due to the discontinuing of operations and decommissioning of VY, especially the loss of local income?  This is a question that four regional economic development planning organizations are seeking to answer.  These organizations are: the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, the Southwest Regional Planning Commission, and the Windham Regional Commission. A study completed by the University of Massachusetts' Donahue Institute that begins to provide some insight can be found here:  UMDI Study of Economic Impacts of VY Closure.


Prompted by VY's announcement last year, our organizations have forged a new collaboration centered on our shared concerns regarding impacts associated with the pending closure and decommissioning.  In order to make informed decisions and move forward, we identified some key questions to be addressed.  Through a state District Local Technical Assistance grant, the Franklin Regional Council of Governments retained the services of the UMass Donahue Institute to conduct a study that illustrates the anticipated direct, indirect and induced economic impacts to the local tri-county area (Cheshire, Franklin and Windham Counties), and assesses the ramifications on the long-term economic prospects of the region.  Some of the findings are rather stark.


The short version of this story is that there is a tremendous economic loss anticipated in a very short amount of time.  The major finding from this modeling is that within a seven-year period time frame, the total economic impacts[1] are estimated to be a loss of over 1,100 jobs and a loss of $480 million of annual economic activity in the region. 


While the facility itself accounts for slightly less than one percent of total jobs in the tri-county region, it provides for a much higher share of the region's wage and salary income due to hundreds of highly-skilled, well-compensated workers.  Inputted into the model was September 2014 employment forecast data provided by Entergy.  Using this data, there were 550 employees in 2014.  The model then estimated that when VY is fully operational, the direct economic output is over $402 million annually.  With the addition of related indirect and induced economic activities, the model estimated a total employment of 1,220 and total economic output of $493 million annually in the tri-county area. 


By 2021, Entergy reports that employment at the plant will drop to as low as 58 employees.  The modeling estimates this will account for direct annual economic output of $10 million.  The total economic impact (including direct, indirect and induced impacts) of VY for the tri-county region by 2021 is estimated to be 84 jobs and $13 million in annual economic output per year.  Therefore, within a seven-year period, the region will have a small fraction of the economic activity that occurred while the plant was operational.


The pending economic impacts due to VY's closure in this region are significant.  We view this information as a call to action.  Each region's respective comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS) has noted the relative stagnation of the area's economy and workforce challenges.  The closure of VY will exacerbate existing trends.  Each CEDS also identifies strategies to build upon our assets.  We believe we can work with our communities and stakeholders to make a difference if properly resourced to do so.  We hope our state, federal and other partners will recognize this and provide the support this region needs.  To move forward, this collaboration of regional planning and economic development organizations will invite tri-county region stakeholders to a meeting in early 2015 to share information and work together to develop a response strategy. 

[1] The total economic output includes direct, indirect and induced economic outputs combined.  

VT Route 30 Corridor Transit Feasibility Study

Would you or someone you know use public transit on the Route 30 corridor if it was available?  WRC staff has collaborated with VTrans, Connecticut River Transit and Deerfield Valley Transit Association to have a transit feasibility study completed by summer 2015.  Connecting West River Valley towns to Brattleboro via transit could improve access to jobs, shopping, health care and social events. 

This study will identify demographics of current as well as potential users, reasons for travel (pleasure, work, medical, shopping, etc.), source areas of movement, destinations (employers, stores, medical facilities, recreation), and daily/seasonal/year-round demand times with the intent of providing specifically directed transit services in the most cost efficient and effective way possible.  It will look at the existing dial-a-ride service as well as possible expanded services along the existing corridor and rank them in order of priority for implementation. 

In general, the scope of work will consist of a planning process that identifies transit needs and prioritizes future transit services for implementation.  The outcome of the process will be an overview of the study corridor, an assessment of travel patterns and service needs, markets for public transportation, service design options, evaluation of service alternatives and costs, and funding opportunities.

Analysis will include a review of earlier studies and existing conditions.  There will be at least one local concerns meeting conducted by the project consultants, but the WRC will convene additional meetings to ensure the public is effectively engaged.  For more information please contact Matt x120.


Who Is Responsible for the Economy of the Windham Region?

All of Us.


Jeff Potter, editor of the local weekly independent newspaper The 
Commons, penned an editorial titled "It Better Damn Well Be Possible" in which he asks if it's possible for the different sides that have evolved around the Vermont Yankee nuclear power station to step up and work together on building the region's economy.  His response is, it better damn well be possible.  I couldn't agree more.  We - the people of the Windham Region and, I would argue, the people of the adjoining counties in New Hampshire and Massachusetts - are our solution.  No one is going to do the work of pulling our region out of the economic doldrums for us.  We have to figure this out for ourselves. 

Work has been done that provides guidance as to strengths of the regional economy that should be built upon.  The Southeast Vermont Economic Development Strategies (SeVEDS) and the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation have produced a comprehensive economic development strategy for the region, which includes specific projects solicited from people who live and work here that support the goals and objectives of the strategy.  The Windham Regional Commission participated in this effort and has incorporated the CEDS by reference into the updated regional plan that took effect on November 4th.  This CEDS is updated every year in order for it to remain current and relevant.

Our counterparts in New Hampshire and Massachusetts have also produced economic strategies that highlight strengths to be leveraged.  Over the next couple of months we will be working with these colleagues on an effort that could bring our economic development strategies into alignment with one another.  This is important because data shows that that our three regions swap commuters on a daily basis.  In fact, this tri-region area is a community of shared economic interests, especially when it comes to our workforce, related household income, local spending, and regional economic health.  We will continue to focus on economic development activity within our respective regions, but we're also coming to realize that just as our workforce crosses political boundaries on a regular basis, so should our collaboration. 

The topic of the economy needs to be more of a priority than what it has been in our public discourse. This is not to the exclusion of other priorities, but as part of a holistic conversation about the role of the economy in the life and quality of life of those who live here, especially among those who are most dependent upon the local economy for their livelihood.  Too often the economy is treated as something separate and apart from quality of life and place.  The income security of the households of our region, the health of our existing businesses, the climate for investment and entrepreneurial risk-taking - these and other economic factors are fundamental to our individual and collective well-being now and into the future. 

So what does it mean to work together towards an economy that provides for the people who live and work and invest of themselves and their money here?  The CEDS is a good start because it describes our current economic context, assets to be built upon, and specific economic development projects people have in mind.  More importantly, it was created by people who engaged in conversations and shared their ideas with one another.  We need to keep the conversation going and increase the number of people engaged in it.  While urgency to participate may be motivated by concerns about the current and projected economic outlook, what will ultimately drive people to participate is hope, not fear.  We need to share one another's hope for ourselves in this place.  What it is that makes us want to make a stand here and stay and grow and thrive?  Let's share our dreams and ideas and see where they take us.

Windham Regional Commission 
139 Main Street, Suite 505
Brattleboro, VT 05301
Phone: (802) 257-4547
Fax: (802) 254-6383