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Proposed New Town Plan ~Draft~ April 2014

April 25, 2014 in Community Development, Springfield Citizen Awareness News by Jen

On Monday, April 28th, the Select Board will be reviewing the proposed new Town Plan. It’s important to know what is being proposed, so here’s a copy for you to review. Be sure to read it, and attend the meeting Monday if you have any questions.

Springfield Town Plan 042814 with App and Maps 2 (click for full pdf)

 

Main Street in January

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Kelly Stettner wins GMP- Meeri Zetterman Environmental Award!

April 18, 2014 in Community Development, Inspiration, Stories by Jen

Kelly Stettner of Springfield, VT has won the GMP- Meeri Zetterstrom Environmental Award! This award is given every year in the name of Meeri Zetterstrom, an advocate and champion of the osprey, to celebrate and support the efforts of Vermont environmental heros.

Kelly founded the grassroots Black River Action Team, B.R.A.T., in 2000 and has been a champion of all things river-related ever since. Kelly will be accepting the award in an upcoming ceremony at the Vermont legislature, along with a check to support her efforts.

Below the photo is a copy of one of the monimations for this award. We think it’s easy to understand just why Kelly was chosen. After reading, please join us in congratulating our very own hometown hero.

Kelly Stettner, pictured here with the new signage for the "Adopt-A-Swimming-Hole" project

Kelly Stettner, pictured here with the new signage for the “Adopt-A-Swimming-Hole” project

Please explain the effort or activity performed by the nominee on behalf of Vermont’s environment. You may use additional space, but please limit your answers to 200 words or fewer per question.

1. What benefits have been derived for the environment through the nominee’s efforts?

Kelly established and runs the Black River Action Team (BRAT). Highlights include:

RiverSweeps: Began in 2000 with 4 volunteers, covering 100′ of river. This fall will be the 15th RiverSweep, with dozens of volunteers covering miles of river across several towns.
Over 350 shopping carts, along with innumerable tires and other debris, removed from riverbeds
Monthly water sampling at 11 sites and ‘Adopt a Swimming Hole’ program
Environmental education: thousands of people engaged every year
Recruited and managed over 300 volunteers
Hundreds of organizations engaged to address river issues and expand educational opportunities
Discovered underground storage tank spewing fuel; worked with State to remove it and contaminated soil;
Worked with Town and Black River Produce to monitor effects of large diesel spill
Stream monitoring in proposed development areas
Central force in post-Irene efforts in Ludlow area
Started a ‘native nursery’ on donated land, growing own plants for bank stabilization
Nearly 6000 cartridges saved from landfills- used as primary funding source
Fishing line recycling program
Cleans up at parades to prevent trash entering river
Started program to capture and recycle 2000 pounds of bottle caps/ year.

2. What challenges has the nominee overcome to accomplish this?

It’s hard to know all the challenges Kelly has faced as she tends to be a very positively-focused person. She sees opportunities where others may have given up. She started the project because she saw a need- and with a gentle nudge from her husband- realized that she was someone who could help make things happen.

One of the main challenges is, in fact, that Kelly identifies areas where there is a need, because others are not addressing it. As she has become a local expert through her experience, known to be a trusted and reliable source of information and key advocate, Kelly also fields calls and reports from others about potential problems concerning the rivers and watersheds. All of this often means starting from the ground-up, with no ready supply of volunteers, funding, or initial interest. The BRAT remains a grassroots organization. With no board or formal committees, she is the driving force behind every project.

As she has established and grown these programs, Kelly has maintained a full-time job, raised 2 home-schooled children, been a central force in establishing and promoting a local wrestling team, and earned her Bachelor’s Degree, with a focus on Environmental Science, in 2010.

3. Please explain how the nominee demonstrated or exhibited commitment, perseverance, creativity and determination on behalf of the environment.

From the beginning, Kelly has identified issues that needed to be addressed and pursued them with a level of creativity and persistence that is admirable. She often sees opportunities where others have seen overwhelming challenges.

Her persistence and determination are demonstrated by the sheer volume of organizations she has managed to collaborate with. Just a few include: Ottauquechee National Resources Conservation District, Agency of Natural Resources, State of Vermont Dept of Environmental Conservation, various town in the watershed, Windsor County Regional Planning Commission, Connecticut River Watershed Council, Ascutney Mountain Audubon Society, Army Corps of Engineers, Fish and Wildlife, Massachusetts Environmental Education Society, CT River Join Commissions, Wildlife Festival, UVM Extension, VT Youth Conservation Corps.

Kelly has become a reliable source of information and networking among those interested in water quality issues. When people call about a problem or concern, she willingly takes it upon herself to find out what is happening and, if needed, takes necessary action.

Kelly doesn’t just stop at addressing problems, either. She nurtures the health of the watershed through extended outreach programs, workshops, and environment education. Kelly sees the connections between many issues and the health of our waters, and works tirelessly, maximizing every opportunity.

4. Please provide any additional information you believe should be considered by the judges.

Kelly is incredibly humble. She will look you in the eye and insist that she is not an environmentalist, nor really all that special. She would laugh if you called her a ‘hero’ and will tell you that she simply saw a need and set about addressing it.

Although she may, indeed, not be a traditional ‘environmentalist’, her commitment to addressing environmental issues is extraordinary. Despite her humility, Kelly has garnered the respect, support, and admiration of many environmentalists and advocates. She now serves on the Watersheds United Vermont (WUV), a grassroots organization building a dynamic network of watershed groups around the state, and was invited to participate in a state-level summit with town planners.

Kelly is a hands-on leader. From removing invasives to planting trees, digging in the mud, and trekking through water and muck, she does whatever it takes. She is a shining example of what is possible. I think Kelly is like Meeri in many ways- remaining just as humble as she is passionate, diving into an issue, figuring out what needs doing, and getting it done. And inspiring many others along the way.

5. If applicable, please provide photos, articles, or other materials that support this nomination. (Do not send originals; these items will not be returned.)

Because Kelly has done so much with so little, it has been hard to limit the answers to 200 words each. I would welcome the opportunity to share more about her, and there is a lot of information available on the BRAT website (as Kelly has been the coordinator and champion of all of these projects, everything on there is directly attributable to her work): http://blackriveractionteam.org and on their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Black-River-Action-Team/111866026630

Below are a few articles about Kelly and the Black River Action Team and just a couple of photos of some of their success.

http://802eureka.com/somebody-should-do-something/

http://802eureka.com/14th-annual-riversweep-sat-sept-7th/

http://www.blackrivertoday.com/tag/black-river-action-team/

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Meet Chelsea- An Americorps VISTA member serving in the All-4-One Program in Springfield

April 10, 2014 in Community Development, Stories, Youth & Education by Jen

Chelsea All 4 OneHi, my name is Chelsea and I am a new Americorps VISTA member serving through Vermont Youth Tomorrow with the All-4-One program in Springfield, Vermont. I am passionate about providing a well-rounded education for students and am really excited about the work All-4-One is doing.


All-4-One provides before and after school programs, summer camp, and weekend trips for students in the Springfield school district. In addition to serving students healthy meals, the program engages students in creative, academic, enrichment, and recreational clubs and activities. Moreover, All-4-One incorporates literary and math skills into its programs so students can hone these skills through fun, hands on learning experiences.


While I am at All-4-One, I will focus on program development- strengthening All-4-One’s curriculum building capacities and incorporating students’ school time curriculum into All-4-One’s out of school time services. Additionally, I will work to further integrate All-4-One into the Springfield community through our volunteer program and by building partnerships with community organizations.


As winter comes to a close, we are looking forward to our summer program! Summer Daze is an 8-week, 6:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. camp that runs from June 30th to August 15th. All-4-One provides students with hot breakfast and lunch, as well as an afternoon snack. This year the program will be The Game of Life themed. Morning programming will include academic enrichment in Literacy and Math, while afternoons will focus on fun enrichment activities and social time for the students.


If you are interested in learning more about our program or in enrolling a student in All-4-One’s summer camp, and/or before and after school program, please give us a call at 802-885-2531, check out our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/All4OneProgram , or come down to 60 Park Street in Springfield. Thank you!

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Springfield Food Co-op Donates to SHS Varsity Dance Team Competition

February 18, 2014 in Community Development, Stories, Youth & Education by Jen

SHS dance team at a competitionA big shout- out and thank you to Springfield Food Co-op for generously donating $200 worth of snacks for the visiting teams at the first home competition of the Springfield High School Varsity Dance Team!

Pictured here during a competition, the varsity team is composed of 3 compass students, 2 green mountain students, and 11 Springfield students. Ashley Hensel-Browning is head coach, she’s been coaching for the last 4 years. Tia Horton is a former dance team member and a first time assistant coach.

The first home competition was on February 8th, and the team wanted to thank the co-op again, for being so generous.

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Jenevieve Johnson, New Director for Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce

February 16, 2014 in Community Development, Stories by Jen

Jenevieve Johnson, new SRCOC DirectorThe Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the hiring of our new director, Jenevieve Johnson. Johnson, a resident of Springfield since 2007, also owns The JennyWren Café located on Main Street. It is her experience of owning a local business that made her a prime candidate for the position. “It is going to be a huge challenge balancing being a business owner and the Director of The Chamber but I am ready. I am excited,” states Johnson. Johnson feels it is her experience of owning a small business that is going to serve her in her new position. “I understand the challenges faced on a daily business and I already feel so connected to this community. I’m ready to serve more than just the morning coffee,” she says with a smile. When asked about her goals in the new position Johnson replies, “ We have great businesses in Springfield. I want to do whatever I can to help them strive and promote them to the local people and visitors. I also want to continue to build relationships between businesses and the community. We have so much to be proud of. Our rich history is something to build our future on.” Johnson believes a positive attitude is her most important tool, “You can choose to focus on all the negative aspects of life or you can decide to focus on all the wonderful moments happening around you. I have been so blessed from this community’s support of my business, it is time to give back and support my community.” Johnson started her new position on February 13, 2014 and will be in the office Monday-Friday.

Submitted by the SRCOC

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25th Annual Citizen of the Year ~ Nominate Someone Today!

January 31, 2014 in Community Development by Jen

Springfields Citizen of the Year nominationSpringfield Vermont is seeking nominations for its 25th Annual Citizen of the Year Award!

The Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce is celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Citizen of the Year Award. This Annual award is bestowed on a local citizen in recognition of their contributions to the greater community.

Nominations are being accepted through February 12th (the winner will be announced at the Chamber’s annual meeting on March 1st). Please consider nominating a person who has contributed to improving the community and the lives of those here. The Award is open to the general public and nominees do not need to be a Chamber member to be eligible.

Criteria the selection committee will review during the selection process are:
1) Must be an area resident,
2) extensive community involvement over and beyond the candidate’s normal occupation,
3) community involvment in a variety of organizations and/or community projects.

There are so many who give so much to help make our community even better. Please take a moment to nominate a person you feel is deserving. All nominations are kept confidential.

Nomination forms are available by calling the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce at 802-885-2779 or by email: springfieldrcoc@vermontel.net

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Bus Start in Downtown Springfield ~ Student Art Making a Difference

January 29, 2014 in Art, Community Development, Ideas & Projects, Inspiration, Stories by Jen

Have you noticed the downtown bus stop has gotten a lot more attractive lately? We are so fortunate to have a group, Bus Start , committed to building community through student artwork in the Springfield Vermont downtown bus stop.

The first installation features 17 year old Hannah Lillie. Hannah is a local photographer and homeschooled student. She has been studying photography since the age of eight. Hannah specializes in photographing children and families, as well as historical documentation and preservation. Her work with families shows an intuitive sense of connection, and an ability to capture natural moments of play, emotion, and relationships. Additionally, Hannah’s deeply rooted local family history has instilled in her a love for, and commitment to preserving historical artifacts through the creation of visual art.
Hannah Lillie artwork
Be sure to check it out in person, show the Bus Start page some love, and give a shout-out to Hannah for her work by sharing this and other notes about her work!

— in Springfield, VT.

Hannah Lille bio
Hannah Lillie art2

 

Main Street in January

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Sherry Hatt to be New Executive Director of Springfield Area Parent Child Center

December 4, 2013 in Community Development by Jen

Sherry HattCongratulations to Sherry Hatt on being named the new Executive Director for the Springfield Area Parent Child Center (SAPCC)! I first met Sherry back in 1997, when I began working for the SAPCC.  Her deep commitment to the children and families of the area has always been clear. Although it has been over ten years since I worked there, the SAPCC and it’s community of caring staff left a lasting impression. The SAPCC and their families will be served well by Sherry’s leadership.

Sherry Hatt, new Executive Director

On January 1, 2014, Sherry will step into her new position as Executive Director, working on transitioning with our current founding Executive Director, Betty Kinsman, through Betty’s retirement date of February 12, 2014.  While this will be a new position for Sherry, she is no stranger to Springfield Area Parent Child Center, having worked at the Center for the past 20 years, almost from its inception.

Springfield has very strong roots for Sherry and her family; she’s lived here all her life with her husband Mike and her twin sons.  Sherry pursued her goal of becoming a teacher, earning her Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Springfield College in MA.  She taught for two years at Riverside Middle School and one year as a first grade teacher at Union Street Elementary School.  At that point in her life, she felt that this was the career path that she would find rewarding for the rest of her life.  As happens with many young couples, Sherry and Mike found that they were to become parents of twin boys, so Sherry resigned from her teaching position and became a stay at home mom for the next three and half years.

In 1993 she interviewed with Betty and Joyce Duback at the newly formed Springfield Area Parent Child Center in its original location on Myrtle Street.  Sherry responded to an ad for a part-time position as a Parent Educator, doing home visits during the school year.  Instead, the hiring committee suggested Sherry for the role of the Community Resource Parent. The intent of this full time position was to offer support to parents struggling to find resources to address concerns for children with special needs.  This led to her current role as the Coordinator of the Children’s Integrated Services Program now in place at the Center.  During her interview Sherry shared her story and her passion, born from some of her own family experiences.  She firmly believes that we must make sure that parents of our youngest children with special needs have a voice and all the support and assistance that we can possibly give them to meet their challenges.  This passion still burns brightly for Sherry today.

In fact, it’s this same passion that has lead Sherry to pursue this next step and continue the legacy Betty began by taking on her new role as Executive Director.  She believes that her strengths lie in the supervisory capacity and collaborative relationships she has made in her 20 year tenure here at SAPCC.  And further she feels that her loyalty and years of service can be paid back to the agency by taking this next step.  Sherry states that her number one goal is to see that the agency has a seamless transition from our first director to our second, to make things easy on our staff, programs and collaborators.  Additionally, Sherry is most interested in making sure that personnel and programs continue to have the tools, training and support to do the hard work it takes to meet our mission statement of building Strong Community, One Family at a Time.

The SAPCCSAPCC logo

Incorporated in 1992, the Springfield Area Parent Child Center (SAPCC) is a member of the Vermont Parent Child Center Network, offering services for all pregnant women and families with young children.  They are founded on the belief that raising children is both a delightful and demanding job, undoubtedly the most important job there is, and are here to offer support and education for adults and children. You can find out more about their programs and history online at http://www.sapcc-vt.org/ or on Facebook.

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Springfield Biomass Project Denied for Undue Interference- Town Plan cited

November 11, 2013 in Community Development by Jen

After listening to much testimony and wading through thousands of pages of documents, the Hearing Officer for the proposed North Springfield Sustainable Energy Project (NSSEP) handed down his decision on Friday.  His conclusion on the large scale biomass plant: “the Project would unduly interfere with the orderly development of the region and therefore recommend that the Board not issue a certificate of public good for the Project”.

The 124 page document* cites the Springfield Town Plan, which is designed to layout the vision for the community, as a primary source for the decision. Two key areas of concern were large truck traffic and the use of existing structures. The Town Plan notes that ‘large truck access to the industrial park is a problem because of the small residential streets leading to the park. As a result, the plan states a preference for activities in the park that do not rely on large truck access” (p 23). Additionally, “the Town of Springfield Plan states the priority for growth in the industrial park is reuse of existing structures for industrial purposes” (p.23).

The conclusion reiterates these concerns. “Given the Springfield Town Plan’s stated policy favoring reuse of existing structures in the industrial park, it wouldn’t be appropriate to create the potential for additional unused structures” (p.114). Such structures would include the 140 foot high stack, ACC cooling towers, the generator, the boiler, the 50,000 gallon distillate fuel storage tank and the 15,000 gallon anhydrous ammonia storage tank.

Despite ongoing challenges posed by the North Springfield Action Group’s (NoSAG) , last week Dan Ingold, spokesperson for the NSSEP, stated at the Springfield Regional Development Corporation’s annual meeting, that he expected the project would get a favorable ruling from the Public Service Board. There is still a possibility that the Public Service Board will ignore the Hearing Officer’s decision.

North Springfield (VT) Biomass Plant decision


*Full decision pdf: Springfield Biomass PSB Hearing Officer Decision

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has” — Margaret Mead

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Recognizing Teachers ~ Locally and Worldwide

October 5, 2013 in Community Development, Inspiration, Youth & Education by Jen

Today, October 5th, 2013, is ‘World Teachers Day‘ and ‘Thank a Teacher Day’.  Our society is rooted on the foundations of great teachers. Good teachers provide much more than book-learning. They provide support and care that nurtures a love of learning- that inspires a life-long quest for knowledge. Good teachers help build their students, their peers, and their communities.

Every day, teachers are working with our students- the leaders of tomorrow. Having good teachers is imperative, not just for the sake of individual students, but for society.

Springfield Teacher, Valerie Gasco, Finalist for Vermont Teacher of the Year VT Teacher of the Year logo

We are fortunate to have many dedicated teachers in Springfield and the surrounding area. Just yesterday it was announced that Riverside Middle School teacher Valerie Gasco is one of three finalists for Vermont Teacher of the Year. Ms. Gasco is a special education teacher for 6th – 8th grade students. Most who know her agree that her contributions are indeed quite special. She takes the time to understand individual students needs and works tirelessly to ensure they receive the best education possible. She is a passionate advocate for students and families.

Although the winner of the Vermont Teacher of the Year won’t be announced until October 15th, in our book Ms. Gasco, her students, peers, and Springfield are already the winners here.

Springfield High School Instructional Coach and Counselor receive high praise and recognition

Liz Mirra, Instructional Coach for math and science, was recognized by the Massachusetts Society of Medical Research for Outstanding Science Teacher representing all of Vermont.

Liz Mirra, Instructional Coach for math and science, recognized by the Massachusetts Society of Medical Research for Outstanding Science Teacher

Liz Mirra

Jade Dunn Costello, with her new award - Vermont School Counselors' Association, New Counselor of the Year for 2013

Jade Dunn Costello

 

Also bringing in a win for to kick off the 2013/ 2014 school year was Springfield High School counselor Jade Dunn Costello. She won the New Counselor of the Year Award from the Vermont School Counselor’s Association for 2013.

Springfield School’s David Cohn honored by Tony Danza at AFT

In July, David Cohn, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment for the Springfield School District, was honored for “Making a Difference” by Tony Danza and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). At AFT’s Annual TEACH conference in D.C., over 3000 educators gathered for three days of training and inspiration. Mr. Cohn joined Tony Danza on stage. Tony recounted his first day of teaching and the important role Mr. Cohn played in supporting and coaching him as a teacher.  Mr. Cohn also served as an instructional coach for three years at Springfield High School before being appointed the School District Director of C.I.A.

Alison Sylvester, Springfield teacher, elected Vice President Vermont NEA

Another Springfield teacher recognized in2013 was Alison Sylvester of Union Street Elementary. She was elected to serve as Vice President of the Vermont NEA (National Education Association). This recognition of Ms. Sylvester’s leadership and commitment to her profession is a strong testament by her peers.

Greater Springfield Area Teachers

Although we’ve focused on just a few of the most recent recognitions of Springfield teachers, there are so many in the surrounding area who are also doing outstanding work. Kurn Hattin, which serves some Springfield children,  has provided some of the most caring, supportive teachers in an alternative setting.

Just a few weeks ago, music director, Lisa Bionconi, was notified she is a semifinalist in the 1st-ever music educator Grammy! With 29 years of teaching students at Kurn Hattin, her dedication shines through when she talks about her love for music and her students.

You can read more about this Grammy award and Lisa here:  http://www.reformer.com/localnews/ci_24109292/top-25-kurn-hattin-rsquo-s-music-director

More Teacher Recognition

Most of the time, teacher recognition, when it happens, is much more low-key and localized. Every year, students dedicate the SHS Yearbook to a special teacher. In Spring 2013, Mrs. Susan Fog received that honor. Those who know her could easily understand that choice as her passion for teaching and her fondness for her students is clear in every interaction.

There are plenty of other good teachers who don’t get publicly recognized but whose contributions are just as strong as those who are recognized.  Take a moment to thank those teachers that have made a difference to you, your child, or your neighbor’s child.  Because sooner than you realize, those children will be the teachers, and the leaders, of tomorrow.

What Teachers Make

If you aren’t sure about taking a moment to thank a teacher, maybe you should think about what it is that teacher’s actually make:

This is a heartfelt “Thank You!” to teachers  everywhere who have seen past defiant attitudes, blank stares, half-baked efforts and stories you’ve heard and reached deep to  challenge the most challenging students to become more than they ever thought possible.