DVHA Launches Tool to Help Vermonters Compare 2018 Health Plans and Save Money

October 17, 2017  
Filed under Health & Wellness, News

2018 Open Enrollment Runs from November 1st through December 15th

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 Former Respite House transforms into affordable memory care space

October 5, 2017  
Filed under News

First-of-its-kind facility set for a January opening in Williston

By Jason Starr
Observer staff
A former respite house vacated last year on Allen Brook Lane in Williston will be transformed into the first memory care facility in Vermont dedicated exclusively to low-income Vermonters with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Read more

AARP Vermont Tax-Aide Program Seeks New Volunteers

September 21, 2017  
Filed under Money, News

Training Scheduled for Oct. 23-24


BURLINGTON, VT, September 20, 2017– You could help your neighbors and

members of your community in Chittenden, Addison and Franklin Counties with

their tax returns …all it takes is a commitment and some training. Each year from

the first of February through mid April, AARP Tax-Aide volunteers help prepare

federal and state tax returns for low and middle income taxpayers with special

attention to those 60 and older. AARP Tax-Aide, the nation’s largest free

volunteer-run tax counseling and preparation service, is seeking volunteers to

assist in tax preparation. Volunteers of all backgrounds are welcome and some

computer skills are an extra bonus. You do not need to be an AARP member nor a retiree.

No prior experience in tax preparation is necessary and volunteers of all ages are welcome.

Volunteers are needed not only to calculate taxes, but to greet taxpayers to keep the site

running smoothly. Tax counselors receive free tax training and become IRS certified by passing the

IRS exam. They help residents one-on-one at tax sites in their own communities

across Vermont. It’s a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and help

others in your community.


You’re invited ….

A special information and introductory training session is scheduled for October

23-23, 2017 at the AARP Offices at 199 Main Street, Suite 225 in Burlington.

Participants will learn how to use computers to prepare federal and state tax

returns. Sessions will run from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM. To register or for more

information, please email Dominic Di Cicco at domdi@yahoo.com or call 802-

878-8091. Or, for more information on how you can join the AARP Tax-Aide

Program, you can also visit our web site at www.aarp.org/money/taxaide/. To

register as a volunteer for AARP-Tax Aide you can start and register on-line at



Tax-Aide volunteers are asked to give a minimum commitment of at least one four-hour

shift per week from February 1 through April 15 at a site close to home.

Nationwide, more than 35,000 Tax Aide volunteers serve about 2.6 million

taxpayers annually. Last year in Vermont, some 170 AARP Tax-Aide volunteers

helped more than 6,300 Vermont taxpayers at sites across the state.

The AARP Tax-Aide program is a wonderful resource for the American taxpayer.

AARP Tax-Aide volunteers get a great deal of satisfaction from helping people

deal with the challenges of preparing their tax forms. If you want to help yourself

and others with their tax returns, this is the program for you.

Tips for Preventing Robo Calls

May 15, 2017  
Filed under Feature Stories, News

RobotBy Justin Lavelle

In today’s landscape, it is not uncommon to receive multiple robocalls a week on both your landline and your cell phone, even though you’ve registered your phone numbers with the Do Not Call Registry. They’re offering everything from lower credit card rates to free vacations and medical alert devices. It’s not only annoying, but some of these calls come with a high probability of scam. Robocalls can be scams run by con artists who are trying to trick you out of your money and they simply ignore the law. Here are tips for putting an end to robocalls:

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UVM Health Network – Central Vermont Medical Center named one of 2017’s Top 20 Rural Community Hospitals

April 4, 2017  
Filed under News

Berlin, Vt. – The University of Vermont Health Network – Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC) has been named one of the nation’s Top 20 Rural Community Hospitals by the National Rural Health Association (NRHA). This follows the Top 100 Rural and Community Hospital honors awarded in February by iVantage Health Analytics and The Chartis Center for Rural Health. Top 20 Rural Community Hospitals are those achieving success in overall performance based on a composite rating from eight indicators of strength — inpatient market share, outpatient market share, quality, outcomes, patient perspectives, costs, charges and financial stability. “Our results as a top health care provider mean our community can count on us to deliver the services they need now and in the future,” said Nancy Lothian, CVMC’s Interim President and Chief Operating Officer. The Top 20 Rural Community Hospitals, including CVMC, scored best among Prospective Payment System hospitals on iVantage Health Analytics’ Hospital Strength Index™. A Prospective Payment System (PPS) is a method of reimbursement in which Medicare payment is made based on a predetermined, fixed amount. The Top 20 Rural Community Hospitals, in alphabetical order, are:

  1. Avera Queen of Peace Hospital Mitchell, S.D.
  2. Bozeman Health Bozeman, Mont.
  3. Brookings Health System Brookings, S.D.
  4. Campbell County Health Gillette, Wyo.
  5. Castleview Hospital Price, Utah
  6. Cedar City Hospital Cedar City, Utah
  7. Central Vermont Medical Center Berlin, Vt.
  8. Chippewa County War Memorial Hospital Sault Sainte Marie, Mich.
  9. Kalispell Regional Medical Center Kalispell, Mont.
  10. Major Health Partners Shelbyville, Ind.
  11. Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center Jasper, Ind.
  12. Mercy Medical Center Roseburg, Ore.
  13. Mid-Michigan Medical Center Alpena, Mich.
  14. Montrose Memorial Hospital Montrose, Colo.
  15. Northern Maine Medical Center Fort Kent, Maine
  16. Olympic Medical Center Port Angeles, Wash.
  17. Peterson Regional Medical Center Kerrville, Texas
  18. Sheridan Memorial Hospital Sheridan, Wyo.
  19. St. James Healthcare Butte, Mont.
  20. St. Peter’s Hospital Helena, Mont.

An awards ceremony will be held during NRHA’s Rural Hospital Innovation Summit conference May 11 in San Diego. More information about the award is at  www.ruralhealthweb.org/about-nrha/rural-health-awards/top-20-rural-community-hospitals/.


February 24, 2017  
Filed under News, Things to do

ACROSS THE COUNTRY in 15th ANNUAL March for Meals

Campaign will help fight senior isolation and hunger in Northwest Vermont

February 23, 2017 (Essex Junction, VT) – Age Well announced today that it will be participating in the 15th annual March for Meals – a month-long, nationwide celebration of Meal on Wheels and the homebound seniors who rely on its vital safety net.

Since 2002, Meals on Wheels America has led the March for Meals in an effort to fill the gap between the seniors served and those in need, which is widening due to increased demand, a rapidly aging population, declining public and private resources, and rising food, transportation and operational costs. This March, hundreds of local Meals on Wheels programs, like Age Well, will reach out to their communities to build the support that will enable them to deliver nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks to America’s seniors all year long.

“March is a time for us all to rally around Meals on Wheels,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO of Meals on Wheels America. “Our ability to meet the needs of vulnerable seniors lies in the willingness and generosity of businesses, government and concerned individuals of all ages to contribute in their own way. It not only makes economic sense to enable seniors to stay healthy and safe at home, but it improves the health and vibrancy of our communities and our nation at large.”

Age Well’s 2017 March for Meals provides an opportunity for local businesses and organizations to Sponsor-A-Route; whereas meals are provided to seniors for a selected period of time in exchange for exposure and promotion of their support. Several Sponsor-A-Route supporters have already pledged to contribute, including Phoenix Feeds and Nutrition, Vermont Relay, University of Vermont Medical Center, SCHIP Inc., and Main Street Landing.

“The services that we provide in Addison, Chittenden, Grand Isle and Franklin Counties are critical to meeting the needs of Vermont’s aging population,” said Sara Wool, Age Well’s Director of Communications. “Together, we can help seniors live independently, healthier at home and feeling more connected to their community as they age.”

For more information on how you can volunteer, contribute or speak out for the seniors, visit www.agewellvt.org.

About Age Well

Age Well is a nonprofit organization that serves Addison, Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties and is the largest Meals on Wheels provider in Vermont. Our mission is to provide the support and guidance that inspires our community to embrace aging with confidence. Since 1974, Age Well has delivered over 9 million meals, provided nutrition and care coordination services to over 50,000 people, and responded to over 250,000 calls through our senior helpline.

About Meals on Wheels America

Meals on Wheels America is the oldest and largest national organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based senior nutrition programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior hunger and isolation. This network exists in virtually every community in America and, along with more than two million volunteers, delivers the nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks that enable America’s seniors to live nourished lives with independence and dignity. By providing funding, leadership, research, education and advocacy support, Meals on Wheels America empowers its local member programs to strengthen their communities, one senior at a time. For more information, or to find a Meals on Wheels provider near you, visit www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org.


Age Well’s Director of Case Management Accepted into the National Association on Aging’s Leadership Institute

February 20, 2017  
Filed under News

February 15, 2017 (Essex Junction, VT) – The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) represents America’s network of 622 organizations, helping to serve older adults and people with disabilities. Ten years ago, they developed the Leadership Institute, an acclaimed program that provides skill-building and guidance to professionals in the field of aging.

For the first time in the history of Age Well, the agency on aging serving Northwestern Vermont, an individual has been accepted into this prestigious institute. Age Well’s Director of Case Management, Debra Gaylord will be attending this year’s institute.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the 2017 n4a Leadership Institute class this February in Washington, DC. I see this as an opportunity to learn new strategies and tools needed to forge the future of aging and to help move Age Well forward during these fast-changing times,” stated Gaylord.

Gaylord has a deep understanding of health care systems and has always been particularly passionate about care transitions to promote aging in place. She has been a Registered Nurse for over 20 years and brings a wealth of experience as a certified case manager, team leader and mentor to the Age Well. Over the course of her career, she has worked with Accountable Care Organizations, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and home health and hospice.

 About Age Well

Age Well is a nonprofit organization that serves Addison, Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties and is the largest Meals on Wheels provider in Vermont. Their mission is to provide the support and guidance that inspires their community to embrace aging with confidence. Since 1974, Age Well has delivered over 9 million meals, provided nutrition and care coordination services to over 50,000 people, and responded to over 250,000 calls through the helpline.

To learn more about Age Well, call their Helpline: 1-800-642-5119or visit agewellvt.org.

2017 Tax Filing Season Underway-Fraud Prevention a Focus

February 1, 2017  
Filed under Money, News

Last week, the Vermont Department of Taxes and the IRS began accepting tax returns for the 2016 tax year and there are a few changes the department would like taxpayers to know about.


The department continues to experience a rise in attempted tax refund fraud, an alarming trend that mirrors what is happening in other states and at the federal level. State revenue departments and the IRS are implementing procedures to help protect the taxpayer’s money. Vermont taxpayers will be asked to provide a Vermont driver’s license or state-issued identification card number when filing. If the information is not provided and the department cannot verify your identity, this may delay the processing of a refund.


In limited circumstances, the department will require identity confirmation before sending a refund, and will send verification letters to the physical address listed on the tax return. This letter will provide instructions on how to verify return information to complete the processing of a refund. To complete this request, taxpayers will not be asked to enter a social security number. Submitting the requested information over the phone or at www.myVTax.vermont.gov will verify the refund request and allow the department to proceed with processing the refund.


“One of the most concerning frauds we see is the filing of false tax returns in order to generate a refund. We have controls in place to identify suspicious refund requests and in some cases the department will need to take additional steps to ensure that the refunds we issue are going to the right person.  We ask that taxpayers work with us as we balance the goals of customer service, speedy refunds and fraud prevention.  Providing your Vermont Driver’s license number and responding to verification letters helps protect your refund and prevent fraud” says Commissioner Kaj Samsom.


The most efficient and secure way to file Vermont tax returns continues to be electronic filing and direct deposit to an existing bank account is the fastest way to receive a refund. Taxpayers who are eligible for free online filing will find more information about Free File, on the department’s website at www.tax.vermont.gov. Taxpayers who e-file generally receive their refunds more quickly than those who file paper returns.


New Online Services

The department has launched myVTax, a new IT system to modernize tax processing for all Vermonters. Taxpayers wishing to use these services may visit www.myVTax.vermont.gov.

  • New! File your Renter Rebate Claim on our website or through your software vendor
  • New! File an extension for Personal Income Tax
  • New! View your Form 1099G online
  • New! Respond to correspondence from the department
  • Check the status of your refund, including if more information is required
  • Make estimated payments and verify your payments from last year


HANDS Holiday Dinner for Seniors

December 7, 2016  
Filed under News

The FREE Holiday Dinner will be held on Christmas Day from 12-3 p.m. at the Elks Lodge, 925 North Avenue, Burlington. Free and open to the public. There will be a special gathering there at 1 p.m. for seniors. If seniors need transportation, call Megan Humphrey at 864-7528 or email meganjhumphrey@gmail.com.

To reserve a free meal (ham or vegetarian lasagna dinner) delivered to a senior’s home (50 years or older) on Christmas Day in Chittenden County, please call Age Well at 865-0360 by Dec. 16. After Dec. 16, call Megan Humphrey at 864-7528 or email meganjhumphrey@gmail.com. For more information or to donate, visit www.handsvt.org.

State Releases Universal Recycling Status Report 

December 5, 2016  
Filed under News

The Universal Recycling law is working through many new forms of reuse and recycling, from traditional blue bin recycling containers to feeding hungry neighbors by food donation.

The Universal Recycling law is working through many new forms of reuse and recycling, from traditional blue bin recycling containers to feeding hungry neighbors by food donation.

On the heels of America Recycles Day—a national celebration of recycling held each November 15th—the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released it’s first “Universal Recycling Status Report.”  The 16-page report summarizes the status of recycling, composting, and food donation across the state.


Vermont’s Universal Recycling law (Act 148) passed unanimously in 2012. The law’s goal was to reverse decades-long stagnant recycling and composting rates and it is working.


The law requires recycling of “blue bin” recyclables (paper, cardboard, steel and aluminum cans and tins, glass bottles and jars, and plastic bottles and containers #1 and #2) and not disposing of leaf and yard debris, clean wood and food scraps over a six-year timeframe.  Universal Recycling also makes it easier and more convenient for Vermonters to recycle and compost by ensuring that services are available for the collection of recyclables, leaf and yard debris, and food scraps at transfer stations around the state.


As of July 2016:

-          Trash disposal decreased 5% statewide from 2014 to 2015;

-          Recycling and composting increased by 11,793 tons from 2014 to 2015 (2%);

-          Food donation grew by nearly 40%, according to the Vermont Foodbank; and

-          More Vermonters have access to recycling collection than ever before.


“Vermont’s waste haulers and managers deserve a great deal of credit for these recycling achievements.  They are out there every day, helping people recycle and teaching them how to compost,” said DEC Commissioner Alyssa Schuren.


“Act 148 is another step in the strong history and already robust ethic of recycling in Vermont. It is certainly a crucial element in the progression of the value of resource renewal and conservation across Vermont’s economic and environmental landscape,” said John Casella, CEO of Casella Resource Solutions.


“Since state recycling kicked-in, we have seen a huge jump in recyclables from both residential and commercial customers.  Most people already did this, but now there is a little extra motivation,” said Jeff Myers, President, Myers Container Service.


Universal Recycling benefits Vermont by:

-          Saving valuable resources and promoting sustainability;

-          Reducing GHG emissions from solid waste by an estimated 37%;

-          Supporting green jobs, creating new markets and business opportunities; and

-          Reducing the need for landfills, improving the health of our environment.


“Organic materials—food scraps, leaf and yard debris, clean wood, and compostable dirty paper—make up almost a third of our waste.  Every year, nearly 100,000 tons of organic material is estimated to be landfilled in Vermont,” said DEC Solid Waste Program Manager, Cathy Jamieson.


To help implement the Universal Recycling law, Vermont currently has:

-          10 certified food scrap composting or anaerobic digestion facilities

-          13 permitted food scrap haulers that offer services from areas such as Bennington and Brattleboro to St. Johnsbury and St. Albans.

-          17 farm digesters—many already taking food processing residuals

-          Hundreds of businesses, schools, and institutions that have recycled and composted for years–like UVM Medical Center, The Wayside Restaurant, and Bennington College.


Eric Paris, Owner of Kingdom View Compost in Lyndonville said, “We consistently sell out of our compost in the spring and continue to get calls for it into the fall.  This is an important source of revenue for our farm and we hope to expand to accept more food scraps and create more high quality compost.  We are very excited about this.”


“Vermont’s Universal Recycling law has shifted the focus from feeding landfills to feeding hungry Vermonters,” said DEC Commissioner Alyssa Schuren.  “What is not donated can be fed to animals, composted, or used to create renewable energy in anaerobic digesters.”


To view the full report, go to: http://dec.vermont.gov/sites/dec/files/wmp/SolidWaste/Documents/Universal.Recycling.Status.Report.Dec_.2016.pdf

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