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September climate summary

first_imgGeorgia made it through September without much dramatic weather. Temperatures across the state were normal, but rainfall was light. The areas that received the most rainfall were affected by the remains of Hurricane Isaac in the first week of September. In Atlanta the average temperature for the month was 74.2 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees above normal). Across the state, average temperatures ranged from 72.6 degrees in Athens (0.7 degrees below normal), to 76.8 degrees in Columbus (0.2 above normal), to 75.3 degrees in Macon (0.8 below normal), to 77 degrees in Savannah (0.1 above normal), to 79.1 degrees in Brunswick (1 above normal), to 77.4 degrees in Alma (0.3 above normal) and 73.8 degrees in Augusta (0.8 below normal). No temperature or precipitation records were set during September. Most of September’s rain was tied to the remains of Hurricane Isaac, which made landfall in Louisiana on August 28. The center of Isaac moved slowly north, up the Mississippi River valley over the following week, which continued to bring warm moist air into Georgia and spawned some bands of heavy rain. When Isaac entered the Ohio River valley, it split into two circulation centers. A small piece of Isaac then moved south towards Georgia, sparking additional isolated showers for the next few days. The highest monthly total precipitation reported by National Weather Service stations was 4.88 inches in Athens (0.94 inches above normal) and the lowest was in Atlanta with 1.37 inches (3.1 inches below normal). Savannah received 2.86 inches (1.72 inches below normal), Columbus received 3.6 inches (0.54 above normal), Alma received 2.19 inches (1.45 below normal), Augusta received 1.84 inches (1.38 inches below normal), Macon received 2.71 inches (0.88 below normal) and Brunswick received 2.86 inches (2.9 below normal). The highest single-day rainfall reported by Community Collaborative Rain, Snow and Hail Network reporters was 3.9 inches observed 5 miles southwest of Valdosta in Lowndes County on September 21. Two other nearby observers reported 3.8 and 3.23 inches at their respective locations. One of the Valdosta stations also had the highest monthly total of 8.88 inches. Other high monthly totals included 8.86 inches observed northeast of Dillard in Rabun County and 8.49 inches in Trenton, Ga., in Dade County. Severe weather was reported on six out of 31 days in August. All of the reports were for widely scattered wind damage. Drought conditions stabilized in September, with only slight changes over the month. Rain impeded harvest in some locations, while in other areas farmers were hoping for more rain to improve pasture conditions.last_img read more

Hurricane Michael Impact

first_imgTo avoid losing their farms following Hurricane Michael, Georgia farmers need financial relief as soon as possible, according to Jeff Dorfman, a professor and agricultural economist in the University of Georgia Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.South Georgia growers are still picking up the pieces after the hurricane hit Oct. 10-11, destroying homes and agricultural commodities. The storm’s timing could not have been worse for the producers who were impacted, as cotton, pecans, peanuts and vegetables were ready to be harvested.“The timing of this was not good,” Dorfman said. “Farmers have already spent most of, if not all, their money growing their crop. If you lose a crop at the start of the growing season, at least you didn’t put any of those extra inputs into it.”Dorfman believes growers, who normally would have sold their crops by now and had revenue to pay off production loans, are not going to be able to cover those costs this year.“We have at most three months, maybe as little as one month, to sort that out, but this definitely could put a lot of farmers out of business,” Dorfman said.Hurricane Michael caused more than $2.5 billion in losses to Georgia’s agricultural sector, the state’s leading industry, according to estimates from the UGA Cooperative Extension agents and agricultural economists.“Until we know how much insurance relief we get, how much insurance is going to cover, how much disaster relief payments are going to cover, we won’t know how bad the bite on the broader economy is going to be,” he said.Cotton and pecans are the Georgia crops impacted most by the storm. Pecans suffered $100 million in direct losses to this year’s crop, $260 million in losses due to lost trees and $200 million in direct losses for future income.“It’s going to take pecans 15 years to recover; that’s a pretty hard hit. And Georgia’s got a bunch of businesses that depend on pecans, especially during the holidays. We’ve got fewer pecans to use in other businesses now,” Dorfman said.Georgia’s cotton crop suffered between $550 and $600 million in direct losses. Poultry, the leading agricultural industry in Georgia, suffered $20 million in direct losses to houses and $8 million in losses to birds.“We lost 129 poultry houses and I think some of those will not be rebuilt. Poultry will be smaller for a while,” Dorfman said.Georgia’s vegetables suffered $480 million in direct losses, while timber was dealt $763 million in losses.For a summary of Hurricane Michael’s destructive impact on Georgia agriculture, visit×1. For more recovery resources from UGA Extension, go to read more

State’s Higher Education Investment Plan Has Banner Year

first_imgVermonters are part of the rising tide of enthusiasm nationwidefor “529” college investment programs (named after a provision in theInternal Revenue Service code). Enrollment in Vermont’s 529 plan, theVermont Higher Education Investment Plan, rose to 2,378 accounts in 2002,an increase of 74.5 percent from 2001. Investments in the plan were valuedat more than $15 million at the close of 2002, compared with $8 million ayear before. The state’s college investment vehicle has proven popularwith residents because of several key features:* Earnings on withdrawalsused for qualified higher education expenses are free of federal and stateincome tax. * Students have flexibility to use the funds at nearly allcolleges in the United States and some abroad. * The minimum required tocontribute is only $25 at a time or $15 per pay period by payrolldeduction. * The maximum account balance per beneficiary is $240,100.”The fourth quarter usually sees the heaviest volume of contributions tocollege investment plans as people look to keep on track with theirfinancial planning,” said Rich Westman of the , the program’s sponsor. “However, we witnessed solidgrowth in new accounts and contributions to existing accounts throughoutthe year, indicating that families are trying to stay ahead of risinghigher education costs.”TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc., part ofTIAA-CREF, manages the program. The organization is the largest manager ofstate-sponsored college investment programs, working with 13 states.For more information about the Vermont plan, call 1-800-637-5860 or is external). If you are not a Vermont resident, or if you have taxableincome in another state, consider whether the other state offers a 529plan with favorable state income tax or other benefits not available ifyou invest in the Vermont plan. The plan Disclosure Booklet should be readcarefully before opening an account. The State of Vermont, VSAC, TIAA-CREFTuition Financing, Inc., Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association ofAmerica and its affiliates do not insure any account or guarantee itsprincipal or investment return. Account values will fluctuate based upon anumber of factors, including general financial market conditions.Investments are made through Teachers Personal Investors Services, Inc.,as distributor.*The law allowing federal tax-free qualified withdrawals is set to expireon December 31, 2010. Congress may or may not extend the law.last_img read more

New Interactive Website and West Coast Office Mark Northern Power Systems Growth

first_imgNorthern Power Systems has launched anew interactive website: is external) and established a west coast presence tosupport its rapid growth as a leading provider of state-of-the-art powersolutions. Serving commercial, industrial, and government audiences, thenew site is a resource for information abouton-site power, integrated power, renewable energy and isolated utilitypower. In addition, the company announced it has opened a new office spaceat 33 New Montgomery St., Suite 1280, in the middle of San Francisco’sfinancial district. The new office furthers Northern’s commitment to betterservice customers affected by the instability of grid-supplied power broughtabout through deregulation of the regional electric markets.Visitors to the new website will be able to obtain information on powersolutions for prime/continuous power, combined heat and power (CHP), andcritical load support from both fossil fuel and renewable energy sources inapplications that are both connected to the grid and off the grid. Keyfeatures of the site include:* A basic needs assessment to direct visitors to themost relevant information according to their needs;* Site analysis surveys to determine appropriate powersolutions and offer preliminary budget estimates;* Information on power trends as they relate toparticular markets, such as commercial/institutional facilities, digitallydependent business, distributed generation, manufacturing, industrialinfrastructure and remote installations; and* Case studies and detailed information about many ofthe projects Northern has completed for a blue-chip list of clients.To kick-off the new website Northern Power is offering site visitors a freepacket of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters’ Organic Blend coffee. GreenMountain Coffee Roasters utilizes an efficient and ultra-reliable CHPsystem, provided by Northern, to ensure critical power for its bean roastingprocess. Learn more about this project from the case study found on the newwebsite. In addition, visitors will have the opportunity to subscribe toPowerForward, the company’s quarterly “energy news and views” enewsletterfeaturing contributions from Northern’s executive vice president, DanReicher. Reicher brings significant market and regulatory insight gained fromhis prior experience as U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy for RenewableEnergy and Energy Efficiency.The San Francisco office supports new project development and serves asproject office for Northern’s growing customer base. Northern has beenbuilding relationships in California for more than 20 years, offeringon-site generation solutions. With the power crisis in the state increasingelectricity prices and causing transmission constraints as projected by theCalifornia Energy Commission, Northern’s cogeneration and renewable on-sitegeneration systems are providing both economic and lower polluting solutionsto the challenges many businesses are facing. For example, Northern iscurrently implementing a 1.5 MW highly efficient, CHP on-site power systemin downtown San Francisco for Equity Office Properties thelargest commercial real estate owner in the country. Northern is installinga highly efficient cogeneration system aiming to improve the energy supplyand lessen the impact on the environment..last_img read more

Governor Douglas Announces $1 Million in Grants for Economic Development, Housing, Home Heating Projects

first_imgGovernor Douglas Announces $1 Million in Grants for Economic Development, Housing, Home Heating ProjectsST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. (July 24, 2008)- Governor Jim Douglas has announced the award of more than $1 million in community development grants to five communities that will create new jobs by helping an employer lower their energy costs; rehabilitate and build new affordable housing; and help low-income Vermonters heat their homes this winter.At a ceremony at Weidmann Electrical Technology Inc. today the governor announced that the largest Vermont Community Development Program award – $460,000 – will help St. Johnsbury develop, build, and lease a high voltage substation to supply the company with lower cost electric power.”As a result WETI will lower its overall electrical costs, create 12 jobs, and further secure its future in St. Johnsbury,” Douglas said. “This is an investment in a company and jobs that are critical to this area and this state.”vThe grant to the town will be sub-granted to the St. Johnsbury Development Fund, which will own the substation and lease it to Weidmann, a worldwide manufacturer and fabricator of high voltage electrical insulation that employs roughly 250 people.”This direct power transmission will give WETI access to ‘rate 5 power’, approximately a $250,000 annual savings to the company,” Douglas said. “Subsequently that will make the site more attractive for future investment by its parent company.””We are very grateful to the state and Governor Douglas for this investment,” said WETI Vice President and General Manager John Goodrich. “This company has been committed to the St. Johnsbury community for roughly 40 years, and this shows the state is committed to our success.”In addition, the Town of Colchester is receiving $250,000 that will be loaned to Housing Vermont and the Champlain Housing Trust to construct 42 new apartments on Mallet’s Bay Avenue.Of the 42 homes, 36 will be affordable for low and moderate income Vermonters and six of the homes will be rented at market rates in order to encourage a mixed-income neighborhood. The majority of the homes will be townhouse style with laundry hook-ups and a small deck, while 10 of the homes will be one-story flats so that five of the homes are wheelchair accessible.”These apartments will help relieve the housing shortage, particularly affordable housing, that both Chittenden County and our state face,” Douglas said.Other Vermont Community Development Program grants include $152,000 that will be used to make a deferred loan to Rockingham Area Community Land Trust (RACLT) to rehabilitate 28 units of affordable rental housing owned by RACLT in Bellows Falls; $15,000 to help the Town of St. Johnsbury bring its Community Center to into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act; and $30,000 to conduct a senior housing feasibility study in East Montpelier.Finally, a $100,000 grant to the City of Rutland will be used to help a small business that will turn scrap wood into firewood for low-income residents.That money will help establish Wood Works, a micro-enterprise that turns felled trees on powerline corridors into useable wood products such as firewood that will be made available to low to moderate income households.”Wood Works also plans on providing job training, a livable wage, and business and personal skills to as many as 12 underemployed citizens in Rutland County,” Douglas said. “And they’ll do this while helping their neighbors cope with the high cost of heating fuel this winter.”He also praised the dedication of community leaders and volunteers who work as partners with the State of Vermont to support and improve the quality of life for Vermonters.”These grants are so important because they will leverage nearly $16.4 million in other resources and help address critical needs in these communities,” Douglas said. The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development awards the competitive grants, based on recommendations of the Vermont Community Development Board and approval of Secretary Kevin Dorn.For information about the Vermont Community Development Program, please see the Agency of Commerce and Community Development website at: is external)###last_img read more

Unemployment claims down for the week

first_imgWeek Ending November 15, 2008There were 1,207 new regular benefit claims for Unemployment Insurance last week, a decrease of 29 from the week before. Altogether 8,427 new and continuing claims were filed, 560 more than a week ago and 2,295 more than a year earlier. In addition, the Department processed 1,077 claims for benefits under Emergency Unemployment Compensation, 2008, a decrease of 39 from last week.The Unemployment Weekly Report can be found at: is external)Previously released Unemployment Weekly Reports and other UI reports can be found at: is external)last_img read more

Senator Sanders and General Dubie announce $5 mil solar project

first_imgSenator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today announced a $5 million grant for the Vermont National Guard that could result in the largest solar energy project in the state and one of the largest in New England.“This project will not only help the Vermont National Guard reduce its electric bill and carbon footprint, but will be a major step forward in moving our state toward a greener economy which relies more and more on sustainable energy,” Sanders said.“There is little doubt in my mind that in the years to come the energy mix in this state will be very different than it is today – with a far greater reliance on sustainable energy.  I hope that this project becomes a model for what can be done and a catalyst for further action,” he added.Sanders is the chairman of the new Senate Subcommittee on Green Jobs and New Economy. He secured the $5 million in the 2009 Department of Defense appropriations bill.Sanders thanked Major General Michael Dubie, the Vermont adjutant general, for the guard’s support of the project and for its “willingness to help make the Vermont National Guard a leader in this state in sustainable energy.”Although the project is still in the design phase, it is likely that the centerpiece will be a large array of solar photovoltaic cells at the Vermont Air Guard’s facilities at the Burlington Airport to generate a significant amount of the facility’s electric power.“As President Obama has made clear, and as many political leaders have stressed for decades, we must fundamentally transform our energy system.  We need to move aggressively to energy efficiency so we use less fossil fuel, and we need to develop such sustainable energies as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and others,” Sanders said.“As we make that energy transition we will not only improve our geopolitical position in the world and reverse global warming, we also will create, over a period of time, millions of good-paying jobs throughout our country.”last_img read more

GW Plastics of Bethel is named Plastics News Processor of the Year

first_imgGW Plastics, Inc, has been selected as Plastics News’ Processor of the Year. The prestigious award honoring excellence in well-rounded plastic processing companies was announced March 9th at the Plastics News Executive Forum in Tampa, FL.Nominated by Bill Carteaux – President and CEO of the Society of Plastics Industry, GW Plastics was selected from an impressive list of plastics processors located throughout the United States. An extensive vetting process conducted by Plastics News officials, and other industry experts narrowed down the field of nominees to four finalists, The finalists for the award were judged in seven different categories, including financial performance, technological innovation, quality, customer relations, employee relations, environmental record and public service. The judging process included a detailed application review, a thorough customer and industry reference verification, a financial health assessment by Deloitte Corporate Finance LLC and an on-site visit conducted by Plastics News officials.Brenan Riehl, GW Plastics President and CEO attributes ,GW’s success to consistent ownership, an impressive Board of Directors, professional leadership and a high quality, long-tenured workforce. “This has permitted us to build a successful business based on consistent performance, long-term customer relationships and an experienced and engaged workforce. We are very proud of our associates and are grateful to our customers who have helped to make GW Plastics the successful company it is today.”GW’s focus is on injection molding, tooling, and contract manufacturing of medium-to-high volume precision thermoplastic and silicone components and assemblies for the healthcare, automotive and consumer electronics markets. GW excels at close-tolerance mold building, molding, and contract manufacturing within a matrix of competencies geared toward innovative problem solving, Six Sigma quality, and speed-to-market.GW Plastics was founded over a half-century ago when two early plastics pioneers, John R. Galvin and Odin A. Westgaard decided to combine their extensive business and materials engineering experience – and their initials – to start a plastics injection molding firm. After building GW into one of North America’s premier precision injection molders, they sold the company to Carborundum in 1973. After a series of large-company M&A transactions in the 1980s, GW ultimately found itself owned by Standard Oil of Ohio (Sohio). In 1983, a group of company managers and investors led by Frederic Riehl, purchased GW Plastics from Sohio. GW has remained closely-held, under the same ownership, to this day.The 1990s ushered in a period of rapid growth for GW, driving significant expansion of the company’s manufacturing capabilities and its geographic reach across the United States. In 1990, GW relocated and expanded its Mold Making facility to a new Technical Campus in Royalton, Vermont. In 1992, GW expanded into the southwest United States, setting-up a new facility in San Antonio, Texas, followed in 1996 by a another plant in Tucson, Arizona. GW further expanded its Royalton Technical Campus by opening a Technology Center dedicated to statistical mold validation and new technology development, in 1997, and by establishing its Royalton, Vermont, Medical Molding facility in 1999. In 2005, GW expanded globally – simultaneously, in two hemispheres – by adding facilities in both Mexico and China. GW operates six ISO class 8 clean room molding and assembly areas company-wide. With six locations and nine facilities worldwide, GW has grown to a combined 300,000 square feet of environmentally- controlled manufacturing with over 170 molding machines.Today, GW is a financially strong, diversified, global company that ranks among the top 100 injection molders in North America, with a prestigious customer base consisting of market-leading companies located in Asia, Europe, the United States and Latin America.Source: Bethel, VT., USA – March 23, 2010 GW Plastics, Inclast_img read more

Citizens Bank donates $10,000 to the Paramount in Rutland

first_imgCitizens Bank has announced it has made a $10,000 donation to the Paramount Theatre in Rutland to support its 2010 season.“We are just delighted that Citizens Bank is generously supporting our upcoming 2010 season,” said Bruce Bouchard, executive director of the Paramount Theatre. “We appreciate Citizens Bank’s partnership and commitment, and we are grateful to the entire team at Citizens Bank, who have been fundamentally important in the building of a new era at the Paramount.”Citizens Bank will help sponsor the remainder of the Paramount Theatre’s 2010 season featuring the following shows: Guys & Dolls, Electric Hot Tuna, Brandi Carlisle, Tower of Power, Garbo and Me, Menopause the Musical, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Taylor Hicks, John Hiatt Solo, Death of a Salesman, Benjamin Moser Pianist, Rhythm of the Dance, Victor Wooten, Ron White, Ani DiFranco, Spencer’s Theatre of Illusion, and Garrison Keillor Christmas.“Citizens Bank is so pleased to honor and celebrate our partnership with the Paramount Theatre, to support its mission to enrich the region’s cultural life and heritage, and to help steward the Paramount on its exciting journey,” said Brigitte Ritchie, vice president of public affairs and community relations at Citizens Bank Vermont. “Today, we are excited to announce our commitment and witness the spectacular achievements of this community resource for the arts. We believe the Paramount Theatre will continue to serve as a catalyst for economic growth in the Rutland area. We are honored to be a part of it.”Built in 1912 and 1913 by George T.Chaffee. the Theatre, then known as The Playhouse Theatre of Rutland, opened on January 16, 1914. The classical style exterior architecture of the building reflected the “City Beautiful” movement of the time, while the interior took on the look of a Victorian opera house. The theatre provided seating for 1000 patrons and many called it one of the finest theatres in America.During the disastrous flood of 1927, while water lapped at the foundation, the theatre provided refuge for Rutland residents driven out of their homes in lower parts of the city. When “talking pictures” came to town, The Playhouse embraced the movie phenomenon, and as a motion picture theatre, was renamed The Paramount, in 1931.In the 1970s, however, like many small theatres across the country, the Paramount paralleled the decline of the film industry and closed its doors in 1975. The theatre sat empty and neglected for nearly a decade, until the Center on the Alley, Inc. was formed to purchase the theatre for use as a performing arts center.The successful restoration of the Paramount Theatre was completed in February 2000 and an Opening Night Gala in March 2000 honored the artisans and contributors who made the historic project possible. Today it is the only fully-restored, historic landmark that serves as a presenting hall between Burlington, Vermont, and Pittsfield, Mass.”“Once again, the Paramount Theatre has assumed its role as an arts, cultural, and educational leader, and as a significant and valuable community resource. Citizens Bank initially came on board with great trust and assurance that we could make them proud to be in business with us as we set about to help to revitalize a community and to be the primary economic driver of cultural events in the evening in south central Vermont,” added Bouchard. “We’re proud of what we have to offer and are thankful to Citizens Bank for supporting us in celebrating community and creativity. We look forward to a long, healthy, and mutually beneficial relationship in the years to come, and we are extremely grateful to Citizens Bank for their vision and financial dedication to the Paramount. This partnership not only ensures the financial stability of the theatre, but it also vastly extends our ability to promote the performing and cultural arts in Vermont.”The Paramount Theatre will host over 88 production nights for the 2010/2011 Season (including film), attracting more than 40,000 patrons. It has a 15-member Board of Trustees and serves as a not-for-profit cultural and educational institution. The Paramount Theatre is home to numerous arts-producing organizations and civic forums throughout the area.About Citizens BankCitizens Bank is a division of RBS Citizens, N.A., operating its seven-state branch network in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. It has 25 branches and 24 ATMs in Vermont.RBS Citizens, N.A. is a subsidiary of Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a $144 billion commercial bank holding company headquartered in Providence, R.I. CFG’s two bank subsidiaries are RBS Citizens, N.A. and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. They operate a 12-state branch network under the Citizens Bank brand in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, and the Charter One brand in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. CFG has non-branch retail and commercial offices in about 40 states. CFG is owned by RBS (The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc). CFG’s Web site is Citizens Bank. 6.15.2010last_img read more

Profile: Attorney Spencer Knapp, headlong biking enthusiast

first_imgKnapp was aiming for a Washington career, but his first job was a clerkship with Federal Judge Coffrin in Burlington”He was a great man,” Knapp said. “But Vermont? I didn’t know it from Adam. Vermont was going to be a passing-through place. But now I’m engaged to Barbara. And my clerkship goes six months beyond her graduation. We’re going to be married at that point, so she’s got to figure out something to do to be in my vicinity. She doesn’t have any Vermont connections either. There’s one other federal judge in Vermont, Jim Holden in Rutland. She applies for a job with him and gets it. Her clerkship goes six months beyond mine. Now I’ve got to figure out something.”By this time Vermont had started to work its magic.”Bells went off,” Knapp said. “This is a very good place. We like this place. It’s not what we were thinking. We were both heading towards traditional, big law firms. I said, ‘I’ll see what I can find while your clerkship is finishing.’ I got a job with my law firm in 1976. And 34 years later, it seems to have worked out. The theme for me is that things aren’t always what you expect. Sometimes things happen and you take a road you really hadn’t planned on. And I’m glad I took this one.”Knapp has been a business lawyer for most of his career, and while he was at the head of Dinse Knapp and McAndrew, he was on the Vermont Business Roundtable. He said that in his opinion, Vermont’s unfriendliness to business has been “greatly exaggerated.” He cited the many examples of businesses which have thrived in the state.”There are boundaries because it s a small state,” Knapp said. “It’s a relatively small infrastructure and a small workforce. But I think Vermont is a great incubator.”The permit process in Vermont is difficult but fair, Knapp said.”It’s more transparent here,” he said. “In the surrounding states, it’s very political. It’s a partisan process, particularly in New York. Here it’s straightforward. It’s hard, but straightforward. The nice thing about Vermont is if you need to get something done, and you need help from government, it’s a phone call away. You can see the governor on business with a phone call. You can see him without a phone call at the grocery store. You can see the commissioners. You can get things done if you’re a straightforward, straight-shooter kind of a person. I think that’s a real value.” Today Knapp serves on the board of Vermont Public Radio and the General Education Fund Board, which gives out college scholarships using a $30 million fund started by a donor in the 1920s. He just stepped off the YMCA board, and off the Vermont Business Roundtable.For a man who didn’t know what he wanted to do when he got out of college, he’s had a long, eclectic and successful career. And he’s just starting another phase of it.”I’m not where I thought I would be at 60,” he said. “I was working at a law firm, had a busy practice, and thought that was where I would stay. Now I’m an executive in a hospital. I like what I’m doing, but will I continue until I retire? I really don’t know. Retirement is too far away for me to imagine. I have no desire to leave the state. And Ed Colodny is such a model to me. He’s 84, completely engaged, completely connected to this state and what’s going on in a positive way.”The greatest benefit of ending up in Vermont was the sense he has of being connected to the community, Knapp said. “I don’t think that happens in New York City or Washington,” he said. “I can’t imagine turning that off. All these nonprofits I’m connected to? It’s fun.” At Trinity, Knapp was a psychology major and made Phi Beta Kappa. He graduated cum laude in 1971. But it was the era of the Vietnam War, the times were tumultuous, and he was eligible for the draft.”I was very much opposed to the war and actively involved in antiwar stuff,” he said. “And I’ll say, in general, I’ve had a problem with almost every American war adventure since. I don’t know if that was shaped by the time.”Just to show how things come full circle, he told a story about getting ready to go to an antiwar demonstration on the Yale campus.”I’m at Trinity, an hour away, getting on a bus to go to New Haven because the Black Panthers are coming and there’s going to be a big antiwar protest,” Knapp said. “And someone had the good sense to tell me not to go, that they were going to burn the town down. And it turned out that Sam Chauncey, who was on our hospital board, was at that time the adviser of Kingman Brewster, the president of Yale. And he was sitting in the office and told Brewster, ‘Let ’em on campus.’ And the Yale police had barricades ready to go. In a story in The New Yorker, they attribute to Sam the fact that the Black Panthers didn’t burn the campus down because they let them on.”Knapp narrowly missed getting drafted, but he was uncertain about his future.”The conventional things of what to do were in turmoil,” he said.During the spring of his junior year, the Kent State shootings shut down many colleges anyway. So Knapp took a year off to explore his options.”I did it by riding my bicycle around Europe for 10 months with $600,” he said.By the end of the trip, he knew he wanted to be a lawyer. He applied and was accepted at Cornell Law. It was a perfect fit.”I immediately found the issues intriguing and challenging,” Knapp said. “It opened a window on things I hadn’t thought about from the legal perspective. I love the framework of legal stuff and the way it connects you to the fabric of life in society. I’m never bored with it. The first year of law school is terrible. It drains you. It’s a very exhausting, demanding thing. But I loved it. I think it’s partly because I spend a year doing absolutely nothing accountable, and the law school was focused.” Two Patients One of Knapp’s first cases in Burlington involved a relatively new law called Act 250. It thrust him into opposition with some big Vermont names.”The hospital needs to expand its parking. and the only place they can figure out to do it, for better or worse, is adjacent to the other campus, where they own the neighboring lot,” Knapp said. “It’s the old bishop’s residence. It’s a Victorian building, not terribly beautiful, and it has been empty for some time because the bishop is housed somewhere else. It had beautiful wood on the interior. A committee formed to save the bishop’s house. It was led by Madeleine Kunin, who was not yet in politics, and former Governor Phil Hoff. Now I’m 28, and my assignment is to get that sucker torn down and build a parking lot.”Act 250 only applies to parcels that are over 10 acres. This was a small parcel, but it was part of a big hospital.”Of course, this thing goes right to the question of the scope of Act 250,” Knapp said. “So the committee gets an injunction and goes to court. And there’s idealistic Spencer arguing that it doesn’t need an Act 250 permit. On the law, we were right. I’m not sure we were right on everything else. We won in Superior Court and it immediately got appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court the first time the court had seen any Act 250 case. So in an unusual context, it became a very important case. We won, and that was my first involvement with the hospital.”A few years later, the hospital again wanted to build. This time the project was the McClure Building, the first large redevelopment and expansion project the hospital had undertaken in decades. It was a $60 million project, “which was a lot of money at that time,” Knapp said.”That contract was also controversial, like any big project in Vermont,” Knapp said. “This time, it was the first major project to go through Vermont’s certificate of need laws. They were just on the books, and we had to figure out how they apply and to smooth that out. And the land use stuff was controversial. We were putting the parking garage on what was then the sledding hill for the neighborhood kids. We had to fight our way through the process. The man the board brought in to lead the project, Jim Taylor, and I formed a very good alliance. So I was doing a lot of other work for the hospital, and I got really interested in this place and in health care generally.”Knapp’s interest in health care led him to an interest in nonprofits generally; he built up a specialty in the field.”I was a business lawyer first, but I found I had much more of a natural interest in the nonprofits, which are more closely connected to the community,” Knapp said. “I really enjoy dealing with entrepreneurs, but I am not an entrepreneur myself. I worked with Shelburne Farms, environmental organizations, and our firm does lots of stuff with colleges and universities. Look at the profile of the Vermont business community, and it’s a nonprofit business community, largely.” Knapp likes to say that he was at the table when Fletcher Allen was born.”It was Jim Taylor’s vision, bringing Fanny Allen Hospital, the old medical center and a doctor group together,” Knapp said. “It was a clever idea. But when it was organized, it put his position in jeopardy because to make it work, you have to have a doctor in charge. So he eventually left. Then in 1995, they changed all their relationships. They changed their lawyers and their accountants. So I was gone from 1995 to 2002.”In 2002, Knapp was asked to join the board of the hospital.”And almost immediately, the proverbial ‘s’ hit the fan,” Knapp said.Briefly, the Renaissance Project was a major expansion under the direction of then-CEO William Boettcher. It was budgeted at about $160 million and included a new emergency room, birthing center, ambulatory center and a parking garage that became infamous in Vermont history.”First there were revelations that the parking garage did not have a certificate of need,” Knapp said. “It didn’t have any regulatory approval. The state questioned that. And they quickly came to a settlement. But in the context of the settlement, the state asked what was going on. And in that context – and this is April or May of 2002 – revelations were made by former CFO David Cox that cost of this entire project was not approved and it was way, way more than anyone knew. Boettcher steps down, and when the magnitude of how serious things were became apparent, the board asked Ed Colodny to fill in.”At the time, Colodny had just settled in as “of counsel” at Dinse Knapp and McAndrew.”I’ll never forget the morning,” Knapp said. “He walked in, said ‘I’ve just been called back to be interim CEO of the hospital.’ I said, ‘That’s great.’ He said, ‘Well, will you come help me. It’ll be about a month.’ So I talked to my partners and told them it might be one month, but it could be two. So in October of 2002, I say to my secretary Joanne, ‘Look, I’m going up to the hospital and I’ll be back around 3. And I’ve never been back.”Knapp stepped down from board and became Acting General Counsel. At the time, no one understood the magnitude of the problem.”My first job is to figure out what the problem is,” Knapp said. “They had borrowed roughly the approved cost of the project, but it was really about $400 million. They didn’t have the permit and didn’t have the money.”By law, if a project is caught without a permit, construction must stop. But if the hospital stopped building, it would violate its bond agreements. “Within a day or two, Ed and I realized we had a problem,” Knapp said. “So first we told the board. Then we ran to Montpelier and begged them not to close us down, because that would have terrible consequences. ‘We’ll tell you everything,’ we said. ‘But don’t close us down.’ So for a year or two I was the boy with the finger in the dike. We all were.”In the end, the hospital finished the project. Boettcher pled guilty to federal conspiracy charges in exchange for a two-year incarceration and the rescinding of his retirement package and, with a few exceptions, the entire board of trustees at Fletcher Allen was replaced.In October of 2003, Colodny stepped down because Dr Estes arrived to become CEO. Colodny went back to Dinse Knapp and McAndrew, but Knapp stayed around. Estes calls Knapp “a key member of our leadership team here. And If I could just get him off that bicycle… We have lived through too many of these bicycle accidents. He assures me he is just riding for recreation. But Spencer’s view of recreational riding might not match what most of us think.” Young Knapp Knapp calls Vermont Teddy Bear “a great Vermont story,” and said working with the company was “one of those great highlight experiences of being a lawyer.” He first became involved in the late 1980s.”The company was still owned by John Sortino, a crazy, classic entrepreneur,” Knapp said. “He started out selling home-stitched bears on Church Street. When I got involved he was making them in a little factory in Shelburne. I represented a group of venture capitalists whose idea was BearGrams. It was a small group and not a lot of money. My job was to structure the arrangement. Well, it took off. No one could believe it. He went from $300,000 in sales when they made the investment to $10 million in sales in about a year. That was when the market was go-go-go and people would invest in anything. So here was this little zany entrepreneur and he was zooming.”The company took the opportunity to go public. Eventually Sortino left and Robert came in. Sales continued to skyrocket.According to Robert, Knapp provided her with a sense of pragmatism as well as a sounding board.”He was always a bigger thinker,” Robert said. “He was always someone I could go to to bounce off business thinking and financial decision-making. He was very real and very practical in helping me position the company for real outcomes. I give Spencer a lot of credit for my success in pulling off certain initiatives, like going private.”Robert and Knapp often discussed taking Vermont Teddy Bear private; it was a question of timing.”It was his judgment that helped me conclude when it was time to do it,” she said. “It was certainly the right thing to do. We needed to help exit investors who had been in the business for 20-plus years. We managed to earn them an incredible return on their investments. We were very conscious that taking the company private was important to keeping the company in Vermont. Whether it was done with the right people or the right plan, I’m not sure.”Knapp had fun at Vermont Teddy Bear, Robert said.”He was way too conservative and we used to tease him about it,” she said. “But if you can have fun with the goddamned law, he did with Vermont Teddy Bear. He certainly did.” Arlo Tales From The City While still an associate, Knapp represented folk singer Arlo Guthrie, who came to Burlington to do a concert and got ripped off.”Arlo did a concert at the Flynn around 1980,” Knapp said. “Clay Fuller was the promoter. The deal was half the money in advance, half at intermission. So at intermission, Fuller says, ‘No money.’ Arlo goes around and finds out the electricians haven’t been paid, the sound guys haven’t been paid. He goes out on the stage and says, ‘This concert is over. I’ll do a free concert tomorrow night. But this guy Fuller, he ain’t paying anybody.’ This caused a virtual riot against Clay Fuller, who was run out of town. And he had the gall to sue Arlo Guthrie for defamation.”Knapp tried the case in front of his old mentor, Judge Coffrin.”It went for a week and was great fun, although I could have screwed it up royally,” Knapp said. “Arlo was here. Of course, truth is always the defense in a defamation case. Has the reputation been damaged? In this case, there was some truth to that. But you can show from witnesses what the defendant’s reputation for telling the truth in the community is. People were calling endlessly to get in line to testify. I started with the archbishop of Vermont, then the Little League commissioner. Right down the line. These guys were saints. ‘Do you know what Mr Fuller’s reputation for telling the truth is in the community?’ And they all said, ‘He’s a goddamn liar!’ The jury deliberated for about 10 seconds.” Knapp’s firm has a long and distinguished Vermont history. It was started by Warren R Austin in 1917, just after the First World War. William H Edmunds joined Austin in 1922, and the two became famous for the Woodhouse alienation of affections case, which brought them national attention.”Their client was a young woman from the North End – the wrong side of the tracks,” Knapp said. “The husband-to-be was from a very wealthy family. The couple ran off to Las Vegas to get married. His parents broke it up, and the woman brought an alienation of affections suit against the family. She won $400,000, which was then the largest verdict in the US. The case got all kinds of publicity. They brought special trains up from New York City every day. People sold tickets. Then Austin became a US Senator and then the first American ambassador to the United Nations. He became a big shot.”Hilton A Wick joined the firm in 1950 after graduation from Harvard Law School, and the firm changed its name to Edmunds, Austin and Wick in 1952. Wick became one of Knapp’s early mentors.”Hilton Wick was nice enough to get me involved with Chittenden (Bank) just as it was going public and that was exciting,” Knapp said. “They had to transform themselves into a bank holding company, the Bank Holding Company Act was brand new and people had to figure it out. Exciting to be involved. I had to learn and they were patient enough to let me do it. And I ended up doing a lot of work for that bank and others, but it wasn’t what I liked doing the most.”Wick eventually left to become president of Chittenden Trust Company. Fred Allen joined the firm in 1951 after graduating from Boston University Law School. The firm was called Wick, Dinse and Allen from 1961 to 1970. Allen became chief justice of the Vermont Supreme Court in 1984.Karen McAndrew joined the firm in 1970. The firm was called Dinse, Erdmann, Knapp and McAndrew from 1996 to 1997, when it became Dinse Knapp and McAndrew.In 2010, the Shriver Report, an economic policy report focusing on female participation in the American workforce, reported that the firm continues to exceed the national average with 42 percent female partnership.”When compared to the firms included in the Best 50 Law Firms for Women, Dinse has significantly better female participation in many categories despite the fact that it is not a large, metropolitan firm,” the firm announced in a Marketwire press release. “Dinse has a higher percentage of women lawyers, associates, equity partners, management/executive committee members, compensation committee members, and newly admitted partners than any of these firms.” The Vietnam Era Vermont Teddy Bear Fletcher Allen History Of A Law Firm Vermont Knapp, the older of two boys, was born in Manhattan, where he was delivered by Marilyn Monroe’s gynecologist.”My mother was very proud of that,” he said.His father, who Knapp describes as “a very private man,” was an upwardly mobile businessman who moved the family frequently. Knapp lived in 13 towns before high school.”We were in Georgia, south Jersey, Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Maryland before we came back to Connecticut,” Knapp said.At one point, his father owned the Tilghman Packing Company on Tilghman Island in Maryland. It was a fish-packing plant, and Knapp got his first job there.”I worked there for two or three summers,” Knapp said. “If you’ve read James Michener s ‘Chesapeake,’ it takes place there. At Knapp’s Narrows, coincidentally. That’s the name of the strip of water that separates the mainland from the island. But it has nothing to do with my family. My father owned this crab company, and my job was to greet the boats and pull the crabs in and put them in a pot. It was hard work. Dad did pay me – I think he met the wage-per-hour laws. And I think I built up a little savings account with the money.”Knapp worked in construction through the balance of high school and college. A different job led to his only criminal act.”I was working in a restaurant somewhere in Connecticut,” Knapp said. “I was young, probably not drinking age. I was in charge of receiving deliveries – including the liquor deliveries. I figured, ‘They won’t miss one bottle,’ so the bottle goes in my car. And along comes the maintenance guy. ‘What’s going in the car?’ he asked. ‘Nothing,’ I said. This guy knew exactly what I was doing. But he knew if he confronted me, it would be a real problem for me, probably more than I deserved. So he just didn’t say anything more, and I drove away.”The incident was an important life lesson.”I’ve often thought about it,” Knapp said. “If he had blown the whistle, I probably would have been caught stealing, I would have gotten arrested. I would have had a criminal charge. I probably wouldn’t have gotten into law school. Everybody does dumb things like that. But if I had been caught, I wonder what would have happened. I won’t say I haven’t done stupid things since then, but before I do very stupid things, I think about that time. I got saved by the grace of goodness.” In 2000, Knapp and Cory were on a California bike trip when a call came “out of the blue.” It was from a neighbor of Knapp’s father in Georgia.”This was a neighbor I didn’t know, who tracked me down in a motel in California through my secretary,” Knapp said. “He said, ‘I think your father is dying and he’s not dealing with it well.’ My father – the private guy. And my mother had died a few years earlier of lung cancer. So I got on a plane and spent two weeks with my father, the last weeks of his life. During that time period I was supposed to get a routine prostrate examination. After my father died, I came back here and bingo! ‘Guess what you’ve got?'”Knapp calls prostate cancer “the disease du jour of men my age.” Luckily, his was caught early, and the treatment has become routine.”I’m now cancer-free,” he said. The Future Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew, PC,The University of Vermont Medical Center,by Joyce Marcel, Vermont Business Magazine Spencer R Knapp may be an antidote to bad lawyer jokes. Knapp, 60, is certainly a top lawyer. He was, until recently, the managing partner of the law firm of Dinse Knapp and McAndrew in Burlington – a distinguished and enduring place with about 65 employees, including 30 lawyers. Now he is the full-time senior vice president and general counsel of Fletcher Allen Health Care.In his 30-plus year career, Knapp has been involved with many of the most important and/or interesting events in Vermont history. As a young lawyer, he argued the first Act 250 case at the Vermont Supreme Court level – and he is still not certain he was on the right side in that one. He defended folk singer Arlo Guthrie in a defamation of character suit, if you can imagine someone bringing that kind of a suit against such a gentle man. He took Vermont Teddy Bear Company public and private. He had a hand in preserving this magazine. And, most of all, he was deeply involved in straightening out the budget and construction mess that Fletcher Allen got itself into in 2002.Former airline executive and University of Vermont president Ed Colodny was the man who led the cavalry when a construction project at the medical center was found to be not only without permits but a few hundred million dollars over budget. And he calls Knapp the reason the Legislature didn’t just shut the whole thing down.”I think Spencer was a key reason we were able to keep the legislators from shutting down the Renaissance Project,” Colodny said. “Having him with me gave the state regulators some confidence that we could work through the issues and be transparent with the state. He definitely has the trust factor.”Knapp is “one of the most likable people I’ve ever known,” Colodny continued. “As a person, he’s a pleasure to be with. And that’s a very important part of any professional relationship, as well as any personal one. He’s a bright, intelligent, broad-gauged lawyer. He has a great understanding of both the business and nonprofit worlds. And he can relate to the issues from not only a legal standpoint but from a practical business standpoint. He has outstanding judgment, and that’s hard to come by. And it doesn’t bother him to tell you what you need to know, even if he knows you don’t want to hear it. That’s really Spencer.”Another person Knapp worked with closely during the Fletcher Allen scandal is Theresa Alberghini DiPalma, the hospital’s senior vice president for marketing and external relations. She met him in 1995 when she was in public service and he was representing hospitals, and they are still working together.”My early impression of him is that he was obviously an extraordinarily bright and effective attorney,” DiPalma said. “First and foremost, he is a person with keen intellect. He’s a skilled attorney and somebody who has a strong commitment to improving the Vermont community. He is somebody of the highest integrity, compassion. I worked with many lawyers in Washington for years on Capitol Hill, and he is the best of the best. He knows the law, but he applies it to problem solving. That’s a skill that all lawyers don’t have at the level he does. He’s grounded in Vermont values and has great common sense. He’s absolutely essential to our success here at Fletcher Allen.”When asked if Knapp comes with a down side, DiPalma laughed.”Sometimes he’s a little absent-minded-professor like,” she said. “We love to tease him about that. It’s cute.”Knapp came to Vermont young and untested but with serious credentials. He graduated cum laude from both Trinity College and from Cornell Law School, where he was elected to the Law Review. He met his wife, attorney Barbara E Cory, at Cornell. He came to Vermont – temporarily, he believed – in 1975 to do a clerkship with US District Judge Albert W Coffrin.After that, he had a job waiting with a big Washington firm. But he had to wait for Cory to complete her clerkship with US District Judge James S Holden in Rutland. So he joined what was then called Wick, Dinse and Allen. Right away, he attracted powerful mentors.By the time Cory had finished her clerkship, the pair were not only in love with each other but with Vermont. So Cory joined the firm and the pair have lived and worked together for over 30 years. They have two grown daughters.Knapp built a thriving practice, working with businesses and corporations, health institutions, colleges, universities, other nonprofits, and banks. He became a partner and was Dinse Knapp and McAndrew’s president and managing partner from 1993 until just a few months ago, when he stepped down to become “just a working stiff” at Fletcher Allen.”After seven-plus years of me asking him over and over, wouldn’t he like to become a full-time employee of Fletcher Allen, he finally said yes,” said hospital CEO Dr Melinda L Estes, who is a big fan. “He’s a very skilled lawyer. But maybe even more important, he’s a person of extraordinary integrity. And he is very fair minded, which is something I really appreciate. So he is a trusted adviser to me and others at Fletcher Allen. He’s also just a great guy.”No one could be more buttoned-down or conservative in manner and attire – and at the same time, be more oddly boyish and mischievous in conversation – than this guy. He’s quietly humorous and likes throwing around a few sharp barbs here and there, but he’s not above taking a few, as well. Mild-mannered, he hides his bright, China-blue eyes behind his glasses. He’s an excellent storyteller who speaks with his hands, framing events with long, bony fingers.I met him in his office on the third floor of the hospital, which is reached by walking past people who are in wheelchairs or who are pushing IV drips on moveable posts. As a cancer survivor himself, it could be a sobering journey. As we talked in his sunny office, seagulls flew by his window and the mountains rolled hazily in the background.A lifelong bicycle enthusiast, Knapp keeps opposite his desk a colorful poster of the finish of the Tour de France as it passes under the Arch de Triomphe in Paris. He has a harrowing Tour de France story, which he tells with great cheer.”When the pros are resting for one day on the Tour, they let the amateurs do a part of it,” Knapp said. “I went over with my buddies, which is something we’ve done before. There were about 10,000 amateurs doing this part. It’s one of the epic stages at the very end of the tour. We started on these little narrow roads and it was a little hazardous, heading down the first hill. Maybe 15 miles in, I got bumped by a guy on my right and went into a ditch on my left. I broke just about every bone in my body – nine ribs, shoulder, elbow, forearm. Crushed my lung. I was a mess. I was in a French ICU, next thing I know. I spent a week there and got patched up pretty good.”His lung hadn’t reinflated when he left the hospital, so he was prevented from flying. Joined for a short time by his family, and then by his laptop, he happily hung out in Lyons.”After I adjusted, I loved it,” Knapp said. “I had a nice little place. I got to know my neighbors. I signed up for French lessons. It was me and 11 coeds, ages 20 to 30. I was immediately ‘Grandpere Knapp.’ I did that for two weeks, had a great time, finally cleared the x-rays and they sent me back.”This was actually an easier recovery than one he endured about five years ago, when his bike hit a car and he temporarily became “a hood ornament.” He suffered serious leg, hip and head injuries, but six months later he was back on his bike.”He’s scared the you-know-what out of us on several occasions,” DiPalma said. “He says he’s only doing recreational biking now, and we hope that’s true. Because we need him here.”Biking remains his passion.”I have several bikes,” Knapp said. “But when I stepped down as the managing partner of my firm, they first gave me grief for a few hours – well deserved grief about how forgetful I am, and how accident prone. And then they gave me a poster with a picture of a bike on it. I thought it was part of a joke, but it was a blank check for any bike I want. I bought a racer, a Vilier with all the latest gadgets. It’s wonderful. I’ve been like a little kid at Christmas ever since.”One of his regular bicycling partners is Liz Robert, who for many years was CEO of Vermont Teddy Bear Company as well as a member of the hospital’s board of directors. She now owns and runs Terry Precision Cycling, a manufacturing concern in Burlington.”Spencer is one of my favorite people,” Robert said. “He’s a really competent lawyer, a great strategic thinker and therefore a great strategic partner. Another really important attribute is his sense of pragmatism. He is always very diligent, always very frugal – as opposed to other lawyers – and always did a good job of setting conservative expectations of legal outcomes so he never riled people up. He was always really respectful of the budget realities of small businesses. And he’s a really good friend.”Knapp has been legal counsel to Vermont Business Magazine since 1998.”Dinse Knapp and McAndrew was recommended to us during an attempted ‘palace coup’ involving ungrateful former employees and a former business partner,” said VBM editor Timothy McQuiston. “I knew we had the right man for the job when we first met him. Spencer called up their lawyer while we were sitting in that first meeting and asked him, ‘What the f— is going on at Vermont Business Magazine?’ From that moment forward, they were on the defensive and we wound up full owners of VBM, free and clear. When you want to win a dog fight, you want the biggest dog, and Spencer was clearly that.”last_img read more

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