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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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by Jen

Local Winner!- This man is no Fool! He knows how to make his money count!

April 1, 2014 in Ideas & Projects, Inspiration, Stories by Jen

Local winnersA local man won a NY state lottery several months ago. After splitting the winnings with 4 other winners, paying off taxes and all his debt, he was left with “a sizable sum”.

He has been keeping a low profile, but announced that he will be investing over $16 million of his winnings in “sustainable, renewable energy projects in the Springfield Vermont region”!

He has asked not to be identified yet. “We’re still working out all the details” he said. “I’d like to set up a fund to offer matching funds for small-scale renewable projects, and invest the rest in projects that will stimulate job growth and will help set the region up to truly be the ‘Sustainable Valley’.  Once we know how it will all work, we will release more information. For now, we just want to get people thinking about what is possible, so when the time comes, they’ll be ready to apply for funding.”

Asked why he is doing it, he laughed and said “well, I’ve always wanted to do something big. This seemed like it might be my only chance. Besides, my financial adviser says there is potential for big returns on these investments. If I can make the money work for me, the community, and, heck, even the planet, that all sounds way too good to pass up.”

 

UPDATE: Sorry folks, while this man is no FOOL, this story IS. (We hope you’ll forgive us!) We wanted to do something a little more creative than usual this April 1st. We hope it made you smile, and maybe even got you thinking about some of the possibilities. Who knows… maybe one day soon, a story very similar to this will happen for real! If enough of us start to imagine what is possible- we could all be REAL WINNERS!

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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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Springfield Wrestler Tim Bapp Brings Home the Belt

February 12, 2014 in Stories, Youth & Education by Jen

Springfield Wrestler Tim Bapp Brings Home the Belt

Tim Bapp wins belt- picutred with coachesThree of Springfield’s young grapplers recently competed at a wrestling tournament in Burnt Hills, NY: Eighth-grader Gillian Guy, brand-new to the sport this year, is throwing down with some fierce competitors this year and held nothing back in Burnt Hills.  She put out her best efforts against 5 very strong opponents; although she was not able to win this time, she is improving daily and has a “killer single” — a move intended to take one’s opponent down by tackling one of his legs — according to Coach Don Beebe.  Matt LaChapelle, also in 8th grade, has been battling an inner ear ailment and left Burnt Hills early, after putting out some serious effort on the mat.
Seventh-grader Tim Bapp squared off against all the boys in his 4-man bracket, and battled hard to bring home the title of “Champion,” plus the snazzy belt awarded to the first-place wrestlers at this tournament.  Tim has worked hard all season, through injury and illness, making himself the best he can be — with the combined wrestling know-how of coaches Don Beebe and Floyd Buck, Tim is well on his way to State Champion on Feb. 22.
This win qualifies Tim Bapp to wrestle in the Tournament of Champions, a national competition held in Columbus, Ohio in late April.  Others on the team are in the process of qualifying; the trip to Ohio will require a team investment of around $3,000.  Please come to the team’s annual fundraising event, the Schweitzer Memorial Take-Down Youth Wrestling Tournament on Saturday, March 8th at Riverside Middle School.  This year, the wrestling will include junior high as well; the action will kick off around 9:30AM in the gym at Riverside.  Admission is only $1 for adults, kids under 10 are free.  Concessions will be available all day in the cafeteria.
To make a donation to help the team, please contact Team Manager Kelly Stettner at k.stettner101@gmail.com or Springfield Parks & Rec at (802) 885-2727.
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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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Northern Lights May be Visible Tonight in Springfield

January 9, 2014 in Stories by Jen

Aurora over Stellafane

Aurora over Springfield Vermont taken by KAS member Jay Edwards during a Stellafane National Convention. (via kopernik.org)

–via the Associated Press: Northerners thawing out from a bitter freeze may get rewarded with shimmering northern lights the next couple days.

Federal space weather forecaster Joe Kunches said the sun shot out a strong solar flare late Tuesday, which should arrive at Earth early Thursday. It should shake up Earth’s magnetic field and expand the Aurora Borealis south, possibly as far south as Colorado and central Illinois. He said best viewing would probably be Thursday evening, weather permitting.

The University of Alaska’s Geophysical Institute predicts much of Canada and the northern fringes of the U.S. should see the northern lights. Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, Seattle and Des Moines might see the shimmering colors low on the horizon.

The solar storm is already diverting airline flights around the poles and may disrupt GPS devices Thursday.
—-
Pictured: An Aurora over Springfield Vermont taken by KAS member Jay Edwards during a Stellafane National Convention. (via kopernik.org)

For more information on the solar flare, check out NPR’s article.

This is a great resource for information, pictures, and viewing tips from NASA.

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Artists Night Out

September 1, 2013 in Art, Stories by Mindy

Artists Night OutWELCOME LOCAL ARTISTS!

We’ve been meeting every week at the Stone Hearth Inn in Chester Vermont since March, 2013. There are no commitments, judgements or other expectations. We do this every week so people will feel free to just come when they feel like it. Just come hang out with other artists and discuss whatever with whomever. We’re not trying to organize a guild, get people to teach or attend classes, or promote any cause. Our sole purpose is to try to build some sense of community and social interaction among local artists in the hopes that this will create fertile ground for further development and organization to emerge on it’s own organic way. We hope to provide the dirt where the seeds of your goals and ideas can grow.

We meet Sunday evenings at 6:30 at The Stone Hearth Inn in Chester VT. If or when that changes, we’ll post it on our Facebook page so be sure to LIKE us and stay informed.

OUR DEFINITION OF AN ARTIST

We want our definition of artist to be as inclusive as possible. As far as we’re concerned, anyone involved at any level in any creative pursuit that can be referred to as “the arts” is welcome. This would include anyone from Michael Angelo to a farmer with a fetish for building whimsical bird houses. We already have painters, sculptors, fiber artists, jewelers, writers, musicians and even a hula hooper! The more diverse the better. Even if you’re like my mother, who quilts and weaves but refuses to think of herself as an artist, we still want you.

HELP US GROW

We’ve been meeting every week at the Stone Hearth Inn in Chester Vermont for over 3 months. Now we’re trying to find ways to step this up a notch. We want more artists to join us more often. We’re considering rotating venues to provide more access to more varied diets and more local regions. We want MORE. After all, that’s the American way, right?

We welcome all your suggestions, hope you’ll come out and join us, and of course, LIKE and SHARE this page. Keep coming back to follow our evolution. For now we meet Sunday evenings at 6:30 at The Stone Hearth Inn in Chester VT. If or when that changes, we’ll post it here first so be sure to LIKE us and stay informed.

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The Perkins’: Building a Family Business and a Dream

July 25, 2013 in Community Development, Stories by Jen

Danny and Debbie Perkins spent most of their careers in upstate New York, but always dreamed of living in Vermont. Debbie spent years running delis and mastering flavor combinations and cooking techniques. Danny worked at the same furniture company for 22 years before the fallout from the real estate bust changed that.  Together, Danny and Debbie decided to take that change as an opportunity to pursue their dreams.

Perkins Deli

Danny, Debbie and Chris Perkins

Building a Dream

Danny grew up visiting his family’s cabin in Southeastern Vermont. He loved the area and passed that love to his wife and son, Chris. Taking everything they had, they moved to the area and began to create their vision of bringing great deli flavors, home-style food, with a cozy, comfortable  space to a small community.

Today you can find Danny, Debbie, and Chris celebrating their one year anniversary at The Perkins Country Deli (20 Valley Street) in downtown Springfield. Alongside their deli meats and cheeses, they offer homemade specials from lasagna and meatball subs to pizza and classics such as tuna salad or egg salad. They post regular updates on their Facebook page and the reviews there are fabulous.

Community Feedback

According to Danny, it is the customer comments and reviews that are the most satisfying this first year. The community has been very supportive, but not everyone knows about them yet. Tucked away just out of sight of Main Street, they can be hard to spot and haven’t had much to invest in advertising. Fortunately, word of mouth is spreading and customers using the bank parking lot are sent directly past the storefront.

They  hope to soon be able to expand their hours (currently open 8 – 4 M-F and 8 – 2 Saturday). Sandwiches and meals are prepared in a clean, sunny, and open area. Being able to see everything that happens behind the counter was an important element for Debbie. It makes sense. If you’re going to spend time preparing things from scratch, you want people to see and experience as much of that as possible.

Perkins Deli Counter

Deli Counter

Fresh, quality ingredients were amongst the other  ‘must haves’ on Debbie’s list. That is why all the produce comes from Black River Produce, which Danny says is sourced from local farms and, although a little pricier than some options, the quality can’t be beat. They also support other local businesses. Heaven Scent Bakery supplies all their fresh pizza dough which Debbie works to perfection for every pie they make, topping it with fresh homemade tomato sauce- no frozen or canned short-cuts here.

Pursuing Passions

Debbie isn’t the only one with cooking talents. Their son Chris makes a sweet/ spicy hotdog sauce that gets rave reviews. And the talent doesn’t end there. Debbie creates one of a kind gifts such as dolls and scarves.  Although Chris is helping out at the deli, he also has a degree in graphic arts which is a fortunate thing for the Deli and anyone passing by.  The stunning sign and artwork that adorns the deli was all done by Chris.

Chris says that he was inspired by the architecture of the downtown buildings and wanted to showcase the beauty that surrounds their new location. As you can see, he captured that and something more in his art- perhaps even a little piece of the Springfield soul.

Sign and artwork by Christopher Perkins

Sign and artwork by Christopher Perkins

The Future

The pride in Danny’s voice is obvious when he talks about his son’s and wife’s talents. I suspect he may have some of his own, but he was far more interested in talking about them.

They hope in the next few years to be making even more people happy with their food- to be able to purchase their building and expand the inside seating. It’s not a ‘take over the world’ kind of dream. It’s the kind of dream and commitment our country was built on and that we may need a little more of: enough to live a full, happy life doing what you love with people you care about in a place that feels good.

Daniel and Christopher Perkins outside deli

Daniel and Chris check out the sign Chris made for the deli