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September 18, 2008

7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Berlin Elementary School


         Ride Share/Volunteer Driver

         Home Share

         Cutting and Delivering Wood

         Helping at a Temporary Shelter


         Distributing Information

         Gathering, donating or delivering food


The Berlin Winter Preparedness Committee (BWPC) met on September 18th to continue its preparation for the upcoming winter months.  Committee members were joined by David Beatty from the State Agency of Administration.


Attendance: Bruce Richardson, Andrea Chandler, Fred Doten, Paul Irons, Pat McDonald, Nancie Austin-Bradley, Jonathan Goddard and Nick Garbacik.  Guest: David Beatty.


The meeting was called to order by Bruce Richardson at 7:00 p.m.


As a result of the meeting, there are several key items that need to be highlighted:


1.      Button Up Vermont!  The BWPC will be hosting a free Home Energy Savings Workshop produced by the Central Vermont Community Action Council to be held on October 28, 2008 at the Berlin Elementary School from 7 to 9 p.m.    Please email Andrea Chandler at achan99_98@yahoo.com or Pat McDonald at patmcdonald8411@charter.net  if you would like to help in getting the word out and in setting up for the event. The Berlin Fire Department has offered to provide a spaghetti dinner on October 28th starting at 5 p.m. with proceeds going to a Winter Fuel Fund prior to the BUTTON Up Vermont event!  


2.      Wood Warms! Berlin is considering becoming a site for the State’s Wood Warms Program, which means that Berlin’s highway garage area would be used as a drop off facility for short length logs. Pat McDonald and Andrea Chandler participated in a conference call with State representatives. The primary issue was liability and we believe that it has been resolved.  Pat and Andrea also met with Jeff Schulz and Richard (Tate) Tetreault to confirm details of the program.  All agreed that there needs to be a “champion” that is willing to organize all of the details of the program.  We will see if any Berlin resident might be willing to take on the program or whether the Central Vermont Food Fuel and Transportation Coalition can identify a “champion”.  We want to thank Tate for his willingness to work with the program and to use the maintenance garage area for this purpose. The Committee will also be talking about how to accept donations of hard wood trees from residents and others who might want to contribute separate from the Wood Warm initiative.    


3.      Next Meeting! The next meeting of the Berlin Winter Preparedness Team is scheduled for October 16th at 7:00 p.m. (place t/b/d).  It is truly imperative that as many people as possible attend this important meeting.  There is a lot to do and we definitely need all the help we can get!  The Committee will be requesting that people indicate whether they are planning on attending the next meeting so that we can better plan for an appropriate meeting space.


4.      Barre Fuel and Safety Event sponsored by the Barre Fire Department on October 2nd from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Barre Auditorium. More information will be forthcoming as plans are finalized.


5.      Cut Your Fuel Bills Workshop sponsored by The Barre LIONS Club on Saturday, November 8th from 8 to 5 p.m. at The Canadian Club, Barre. 


A special note of thanks to Andrea Chandler who is working to coordinate both the Wood Warms and Button Up Vermont initiatives.


Other topics discussed at the meeting are as follows:


Fundraising/Donation:  Nick Garbacik and Pat McDonald met with the Fire Department to ask for their assistance in holding a fundraising dinner prior to the Button Up Vermont event on October 28th. The Department agreed to hold a spaghetti dinner at 5 p.m. Proceeds will go to the Winter Fuel Fund. THANK YOU!!! The Committee is also considering a fundraising drive to area residents and businesses to solicit donations towards the fund.  Additional research needs to be done regarding the creation of the fund and whether it can be done through Central Vermont Community Action or other entity and what criteria would apply.  As an example the Barre Rotary Club is collecting funds through a “Give A Gallon” drive – proceeds to go to the CVCAC Flexible Fuel Assistance Program.  A brief discussion was also held on how to support a food collection drive proposed to be held statewide on Martin Luther King Day (1/19/09) in support of food banks and kitchens.   


Communication:  We are working on creating a list serve for all those interested in being kept informed about Berlin’s Winter Preparedness efforts and hopefully getting involved in areas of specific interest.   The Berlin website now contains information regarding energy efficiency and will soon have a list of the food banks and other information at www.berlinvt.org.   Members of the Central Vermont Food Fuel and Transportation Coalition (Pastor Ralph Howe, Pat McDonald and Tawnya Kristen, GMTA) will be on the Bill Doyle Show to be filmed Friday, September 19th  to update the Central Vermont region on all the various activities taking place. The World is running a weekly feature on all the activities happening around the area.  The Montpelier Bridge is also interested in providing the same information to its readers


Survey:  We received very few responses from the survey that was sent out in the Town Newsletter and is on the Town’s website (www.berlinvt.org).  We are going to have copies made available at upcoming public hearings and our polling site in an effort to get a better response.  The survey was geared to understanding the possible issues that we may have to deal with and also who might want to volunteer to help. 


Winter Preparedness Card:  The Winter Preparedness Card that was produced through the Central Vermont Food Fuel and Transportation Coalition has been circulated throughout the State.  It contains key numbers to call on a state, regional and town specific level. The Card has produced very positive reactions from door-to-door handouts. Efforts are being pursued to ensure that the Card is available at schools, municipal offices, libraries, and other places where residents gather. 


Food:  The Committee will be checking with the Department of Agriculture to follow up on additional canning workshops and the production of CDs for dissemination to residents.  In addition the Berlin Elementary School has advised that it has surplus perishable food on occasion and members will be checking with area churches, the Good Samaritan Haven and other places to arrange for the food to be used.  As a follow up, we were advised that GSH will be closing soon for renovations through January.


Weatherization:  In addition to the efforts noted above, there is a 3-hr long DVD that has been produced regarding energy efficiency.  The committee is researching the availability of the DVD and how it can make the DVD available to those interested. 


Other areas that were discussed in general but now need to be researched in more detail:

Shelters:  If the stay is longer term, the facility needs to have access to showers, bathroom and kitchen facilities, etc.  More discussions need to happen with the Red Cross and others.

Emergency Housing:  We need to discuss this issue in more detail with the Town’s service officer, Muriel Morse.  Paul Irons who had been our service officer in years past has offered to assist in this endeavor.

Ride Share:  Question was raised whether we could create a website of who might want to share rides, etc.


There are numerous pamphlets and other information available. Some are as follows:

Preserving the Harvest – Principles of Home Canning at www.vermontagriculture.com

Vermont Heat and Energy Resource Guide – Vermont Department of Public Service (available soon)

Green Mountain United Way website at http://gmunitedway.org/fuel-food.shtml

Washington County Guide to Food Shelves and Community Food Sites – Central Vermont Community Action Council at (802) 479-1053


Finally, the Emergency Management Committee has obtained two pagers:  One to be used by individuals involved in emergency management response to winter issues (and other emergency issues) – 240-1948 and the other to be used by Berlin’s town service officers and others willing to help in this regard – 240-1949.  These numbers have now been activated.


In order to be able to do the projects noted above, volunteers will be needed. We sincerely hope that the word will spread about our efforts and neighbors and friends will come forward to offer their assistance to the extent possible.  


The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 p.m.






Copyright 2008 Town of Berlin, Vermont.