Archives for December 2015

Bennington Select Board Agenda (12/28/15)

M E E T I N G   N O T I C E
Monday, December 28, 2015
Bennington Fire Facility
Multi-Purpose Room – 3rd Floor
130 River Street
Bennington, VT 05201


6:00 PM – 7:00 PM


  1. Pledge of Allegiance
  2. Consent Agenda (6:01 PM – 6:05 PM)
    1. Minutes – December 14, 2015
    2. Warrants
  3. Resolution – Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC)
  4. Citizens (5 Minutes Maximum)(6:05 PM – 6:20 PM)
  5. Maple Leaf Solar Project – Maneely Corporate Park (6:20 PM – 6:30 PM)
  6. Manager’s Report (6:30 PM – 6:35 PM)
  7. Other Business (6:35 PM – 6:45 PM)




Town Manager’s Column: All About Town (December 2015)

Stuart A. Hurd, Town Manager

I read the Act 46 school consolidation story in the Banner today. It appears that those on the study committee are spending a lot of time fighting Act 46 rather than embracing it and trying to find a way to comply. This is an opportunity for all of us. If the SVSU communities vote to consolidate, next year’s education tax rate is reduced by $0.10, the following year by $0.08, then $0.06, then $0.04, and in the fifth year by $0.02. That reduction provides plenty of room for growth in the budget and still provides a savings on property taxes. It opens opportunities for school choice, for teacher sharing and movement, for addressing critical needs at identified schools, and for equal educational opportunities for our children. Ask your school board members to find a way to make this happen.

At the recent Select Board meeting, the Board reviewed a proposed solar array on lands off Shields Drive in the Maneely Industrial Park. Although the screening ordinance adopted four weeks ago is not yet in effect, the Board used the criteria as a basis for this review. The Board will meet on December 28th to finalize its position on this proposal. The developers are looking for Town support prior to appearing before the Public Service Board.

The proposed General, Highway and Fire Fund budgets have been sent to the Select Board for its review, modification, and adoption late in January. Our early projections place the combined property tax rate increase at just over $0.01based on last year’s Grand List. Agencies placed on the ballot by the Board or by petition add another $0.01 to the tax rate if all are approved. In my January column, I’ll provide more detail on the proposed budgets because the Select Board will have had a chance to review them in greater detail and may have had time to make adjustments as well.

Over the last year, many individuals, business leaders, and various boards and commissions have been focusing on a strategic plan to enhance economic development opportunities in our region. Recently, a nine member appointed, legislatively directed committee of Bennington and Windham County individuals undertook to generate a report on the Southern Vermont Economic Zone, a combined County initiative. The legislation directed the committee’s efforts in five specific areas involving business recruitment and retention and collaboration. The committee presents its report to the Legislature in January 2016. A recently held Business Forum arranged by Tom Jacobs, Select Board Chair, and hosted by Bennington College’s Center for the Advancement of Public Action (CAPA) highlighted how the business community sees its role in helping to spur business growth and development. The Forum ended with a commitment by those involved to continue to meet, to identify specific project(s), and potentially, develop investment strategies to bring them to fruition. These are exciting times.

This week, the Bennington County Solid Waste Alliance received word that its Solid Waste Implementation Plan (SWIP) has been approved by the State. It addresses outreach to schools and business, household hazardous waste collection, and website development in the first year.

I want to welcome Matthew Harrington as the newly appointed Executive Director of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce. His community ties, his connections to those working on economic development, and his business acumen are truly assets that will benefit the community.

Remember, if anyone has any questions or suggestions arising from this column or on any town matters, please contact me at 442-1037 or stop in at the Town Offices on South Street.

Stuart Hurd is Bennington’s Town Manager. He writes a monthly column on town issues.

Press Release: SVMC Receives Fourth ANCC Magnet® Recognition for Nursing Excellence

SVMC Receives Fourth ANCC Magnet® Recognition for Nursing Excellence

BENNINGTON, VT—December 15, 2015— Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) has attained its fourth Magnet® recognition from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the highest honor an organization can receive for excellence in nursing. SVMC was the first hospital in Vermont to receive the designation. This fourth consecutive recognition places SVMC in an elite community of only three four-time designees in New England and one of only 31 four-time designees in the world.

“Being recognized by Magnet is a tremendous honor,” said SVMC’s President and CEO Thomas A. Dee, FACHE. “We pursue this designation, because it holds us to the absolute highest standard. This fourth achievement affirms the foundation of nursing excellence we have built at SVMC and our continued commitment to provide exceptional care for our patients.”

Obtaining Magnet recognition requires the integration of the program’s concepts: transformational leadership, structural empowerment, exemplary professional practice, innovation, and the measurement of outcomes. The concepts are evidenced in departmental organization and governance. Nurses work with the support and guidance of their supervisors and in collaboration with other departments to improve care.

“We are so proud of the nurses and others who have worked tirelessly to conceptualize, execute, and document the processes that led to this prestigious achievement,” said Carol Conroy, chief nursing officer and vice president of operations.

The program’s concepts have a proven association with the highest quality care and better hospital performance overall. Patients in Magnet facilities report higher satisfaction with nurse communication, availability of help, and receipt of discharge information. Magnet hospitals receive better outcomes in key performance indicators, including rates of falls, skin integrity, and risk of 30-day mortality. In addition, Magnet facilities have higher job satisfaction among nurses, more highly trained nurses, and lower turnover rates. Highly qualified and satisfied staffs are shown to have a positive impact on patient safety, and are more likely to prevent adverse events that can harm patients and increase hospital costs.

“Magnet status is one of the most powerful indications of hospital quality,” said Chair of SVHC’s Board of Trustees David Meiselman. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we’d like to thank our nurses and the teams who work with them to achieve this level of excellence. Ultimately, it’s patients who win.”

Three SVMC programs were noted by Magnet appraisers as exemplary:

  • Transitional Care Nursing, which drastically reduces hospital readmission rates;
  • Safe Arms, a program that keeps infants withdrawing from opiates from being transferred to hospitals further from their families; and
  • the Community Care Team, which brings leaders from the most often used services together to collaborate on care for patients with complex needs.

“Magnet shares our innovations with others to improve nursing practice globally,” Conroy added. “In this way, we are able to benefit patients right here while paving the way for other hospitals to improve care for their communities.”

The Magnet review is a rigorous year-long process. The documentation a hospital presents must meet a high standard in order to continue to the next level, an on-site appraisal. The appraisal is a thorough in-person review of all aspects of nursing, including the collection of feedback from leaders, staff, and community members.

Hospitals must reapply for Magnet recognition every four years. SVMC adopted Magnet standards in 1998 and was first designated in 2002. At every stage, facilities undergoing the redesignation process must provide evidence that their nursing teams have sustained and surpassed their execution of Magnet standards since the previous review.

“Our 16 year partnership with Magnet has been so rewarding. The program sets forth a tremendous challenge,” Conroy said. “We continue to accept it for all the benefits to patients, for nurses’ satisfaction, and for the culture of excellence it inspires at SVMC.”

About SVHC:

Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) is a comprehensive, preeminent health care system providing exceptional, convenient, and affordable care to the communities of Bennington and Windham Counties of Vermont, eastern Rensselaer and Washington Counties of New York, and northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts. SVHC includes Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), a 99-bed community hospital, whose providers are members of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Physicians. SVMC’s services include an emergency department staffed by physicians each of whom is board certified in emergency medicine; the Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center, which is accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and managed by Dartmouth-Hitchcock; and a fully-digital imaging department. SVMC also includes 19 primary and specialty care practices and primary care offices in Bennington, Manchester, Pownal, West Dover, and Wilmington, VT. In addition to SVMC, SVHC includes the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, a 150-bed long- and short-term care skilled nursing facility, and the SVHC Foundation. To learn more, visit

About the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) Magnet Recognition Program®:

The Magnet Recognition Program® administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), the largest and most prominent nurses credentialing organization in the world, recognizes healthcare organizations that provide the very best in nursing care and professionalism in nursing practice. The Magnet Recognition Program® serves as the gold standard for nursing excellence and provides consumers with the ultimate benchmark for measuring quality of care. For more information about the Magnet Recognition Program® and current statistics, visit



Ashley Brenon Jowett
Communications & Marketing Specialist
Southwestern Vermont Medical Center
(802) 447-5019


Bennington Select Board Agenda (December 14, 2015)

M E E T I N G   N O T I C E

Monday, December 14, 2015
Bennington Fire Facility
Multi-Purpose Room – 3rd Floor
130 River Street
Bennington, VT 05201

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

1.Pledge of Allegiance
2. Consent Agenda (6:01 PM – 6:05 PM)
A. Minutes – November 23, 2015
B. Warrants
3. Citizens (5 Minutes Maximum)(6:05 PM – 6:20 PM)
4. Maple Leaf Solar Project – Maneely Corporate Park (6:20 PM – 6:45 PM)
5. Board Discussion Re:  Business Forum & Southern VT Economic Development Task Force (6:45 PM –   6:55 PM)
6. Manager’s Report (6:55 PM – 7:00 PM)
7. Other Business (7:00 PM – 7:10 PM)










Article: Bennington, Connecting a Community to Nature


Vermont Land Trust
By Will Lindner
From our 2014-15 Annual Report

There are conservation projects that make so much sense for a community—projects that unite civic and environmental values and, above all, are achievable—that it is only a matter of time until they are ultimately realized.

VLT’s Donald Campbell says the Walloomsac headwaters natural area—165 newly conserved acres practically in downtown Bennington—was one such project.

Its informal trails lead hikers, runners, birders, and other outdoors enthusiasts through woodlands to an inviting network of wetlands that offers kayaking and forms the headwaters of the Walloomsac River. Wildflowers, butterflies, wetland flora, and wildlife abound, as do cold- and warm-water fish species; migratory waterfowl linger here during their biannual pilgrimages.

“What’s unique,” summarizes Dan Monks (pictured below), Bennington’s town planner and assistant town manager, “is that it’s a truly natural area that’s extremely accessible to densely populated neighborhoods.” Bennington has other parks, he says: ballfields, playgrounds, track ovals. “And now we have this access to nature, a really nice addition to our infrastructure.”

The realization of this project, says Donald Campbell, was a good dozen years in the making.

Around 2002, Dan Monks asked Donald if VLT would be interested in working toward conserving the property that was then owned by Norman and Selma Greenberg, who had had several businesses and properties in Bennington. (Another former Greenberg property associated with the One World Conservation Center outside of town had previously been conserved by VLT.)

It took several more years, and the leadership of Shelly Stiles (pictured below), whom Dan credits as “the mother of our park,” for the concept to jell.

In 2012, Shelly, director of the Bennington County Conservation District, helped assemble the Friends of the Morgan Street Wetlands. This group included representatives from local planning and conservation organizations, VLT, the town government, and interested citizens.

“A member of the Regional Planning Commission did some mapping for us,” Shelly says, “and we walked the site and brought the project to the community’s attention.”

Shelly Stiles and Dan Monks

Meanwhile, she adds, Dan “worked behind the scenes” with the Bennington Selectboard, because the idea was for the town to own the land if the Friends were able to raise the money for the purchase.

“Selectboards have to be careful and strategic when they allow the town to acquire assets that were formerly taxable,” Donald points out.

However, moved by Dan Monks’s conviction and growing public support for the project, the board voted unanimously to proceed. With that momentum, the
Vermont Housing & Conservation Board awarded the Town a $122,000 grant for the project.

That was a turning point. Another $100,000 was needed, but there was enthusiasm in the community to see it through. The Friends received support from the Whipstock Hill Preservation Society, the Mount Anthony Preservation Society, and other organizations.

Steve Greenberg, the son of benefactors Norman and Selma Greenberg, provided the largest private gift to the campaign, in memory of his parents. In the end, the effort exceeded its goal, so that when three additional, complementary properties became available the Friends were able to purchase them, too.

The town bought its new park and natural area in March 2015 without using any local taxpayer money. There were sufficient funds remaining for the Bennington County Conservation District to start work on a management plan, which is now underway.

“We’re doing all the things the Friends dreamed of two years ago,” Shelly says, “cutting trails, designing kiosks for viewing areas… And we’ve changed the name! It’s now the Norman and Selma Greenberg Headwaters Park.”

As the project took shape over the past two years, advocates touted the economic benefits that could accrue from having a new recreational attraction and wild area in Bennington. Dan Monks still finds those arguments persuasive, but for him that’s not the nut of the issue.

“The headwaters park is important from an economic development and tourist perspective,” he agrees. “But my thought is that this is a great asset for the folks who live here, first and foremost.”