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Date

Young farmers request aid with red tape

NEW HAVEN FARMER Derrick Dykstra is one of many young farmers working to have their voices heard on issues that affect the future of farming. He and other farmers under age 30 spoke at a forum hosted by Rep. Peter Welch in Middlebury Tuesday morning.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell



November 29, 2007

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Plan to pay for hospital care draws praise, criticism

November 29, 2007

By CYRUS LEVESQUE

MIDDLEBURY — Discussion of a bill before the Vermont House that would create a single-payer health insurance system to pay hospital bills for all Vermonters met with mixed reaction in Middlebury on Tuesday.

The group Vermont Health Care for All played a large role in the discussion of bill H.304, the Vermont Hospital Security Plan, which was held at Ilsley Public Library. State Rep. Topper McFaun, R-Barre, one of three co-sponsors of the bill, said that health care costs are shooting up throughout the country and Vermont has to make major changes to how it pays for its citizens’ health care.

“Something has to be done that’s more than what we’re doing,” McFaun said at the meeting, which was called to raise support for the effort. H.304 would create the Vermont Hospital Security Trust Fund, he said, that would be used to pay hospital bills for all Vermonters.

Dr. Deb Richter, president of Vermont Health Care for All, said that a major driver of the growing costs of health care is mounting administrative costs from many different health care providers dealing with many different private insurance companies and overlapping plans. This bill would greatly reduce that growth, she said.

The tidal wave of paperwork was familiar to those at Tuesday’s meeting. One woman at the forum brought a stack of dozens of bills from recent emergency surgery to the meeting. Some should have gone to her insurance company in the first place, she said; some were from the hospital itself while others were from an individual specialist, and one apparently charged different rates for the same test on different days.

“I’m spending hours and hours going through these,” she said.

Under H.304, the dozens or hundreds of billing addresses hospitals now need to track would be reduced to one: the state.

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New owner to use Hancock plywood plant for stone cutting

November 29, 2007

By MEGAN JAMES

HANCOCK — By the time Thomas Fabbioli arrived at the auction of the former Vermont Plywood plant in Hancock two weeks ago, the representative from the bank was packing up to leave.

None of the 40-some people present on Nov. 13 had bid on the plant. So when Fabbioli offered $120,000 at the last minute, the building and 49 acres of land around it became his.

But the equipment was sold separately and the nature of the future economic activity at the plant, which has been Hancock’s largest employer since 1925, is not clear. What is clear is that Fabbioli will not immediately employ the 35 people who lost their jobs when on Sept. 6 the Union Bank of Morrisville, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Vermont Economic Development Authority foreclosed on Vermont Plywood.

With the Route 100 plant a crucial engine of the local economy, a lot hinges on Fabbioli’s plans. At the plant’s peak in 1969, it employed 180 people, and it employed 90 as recently as 2003, when it was owned by Chesapeake Hardwoods.

Vermont Plywood bought the plant in 2004.

As the plywood industry has struggled in the last few years, many in the area have moved with their families out of town, exacerbating an already dire situation of dwindling enrollment at the Hancock Village School, which school officials say they may have to close next year, according to longtime Hancock resident and historian Tom Perera.

“The town doesn’t have anything else,” said Perera, who attended the auction. “For 82 years, this plant has been supplying work for people. All of a sudden it looked as though it would disappear.”

full story

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