Volunteer Spotlight: Ted Frazer

Have you ever come to the end of a Valley Quest and found the treasure box hidden inside a wooden birdhouse?

Chances are that box was either built or repaired by Ted Frazer.

Ted is a woodworker who taught at Lebanon Junior High School in the shop program for 40 years. Based in Etna, New Hampshire, he currently teaches in the Dartmouth College Woodworking Workshop.

Ted and his wife Lois have been avid Valley Questers since 2001. In their free time, the couple serve as box monitors for numerous Valley Quests and are longtime volunteers with the program.

Several years ago, Vital Communities approached Ted about repairing some of the original wooden Quest boxes in Woodstock that were showing signs of age. In the years since, Ted has been our go-to volunteer for making and repairing the wooden Quest birdhouses found throughout the Upper Valley.

Ted builds these custom birdhouses in several designs. Some boxes feature a bottom panel that drops like a trap door, releasing the Quest box inside. Other birdhouses, including the more recent models, feature a special front panel that opens out to reveal a Quest box.

These birdhouses are beautiful, handcrafted treasures that enrich the Valley Quest program. Thank you, Ted, for helping make the Upper Valley a special place!

Do you have a special talent that you’d like to contribute to Valley Quest? Let us know!

Planning the Parking Future of White River Junction

Hartford Awards Contract for White River Junction Parking and Transportation Plan; Vital Communities and RSG to Lead Project

Vital Communities and neighbor RSG have been selected by the Town of Hartford to develop a Downtown White River Junction Parking Management Plan. Using a combination of Town funds and a Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development Municipal Planning Grant, the study will examine ways to improve current parking conditions and to manage future demands for parking in the historic downtown.

Over the past 15 years, downtown White River Junction has experienced a significant economic revival and now finds itself a vibrant arts and business center. With the downtown’s resurgence, there is concern that the existing supply of public and private parking could eventually hinder revitalization efforts or result in demolition of historic buildings to increase the supply of parking. In response to this concern, Hartford’s parking plan will evaluate ways to maximize existing parking resources, make parking more user-friendly, and encourage the use of non-personal vehicle travel to the downtown.

“We are excited to take on this project and develop long-term solutions to the parking and transportation challenges facing the village where we work. It’s a great opportunity to combine the expertise of Vital Communities and RSG with our daily experience using parking and transportation options in White River Junction,” said Aaron Brown, transportation program manager. The project will analyze current town regulations and actual parking use, but will also rely heavily on input from local businesses and residents in crafting solutions for White River Junction’s needs.

“We take pride in researching and designing transportation plans to support vibrant downtowns across the US,” said RSG’s Dr. Erica Wygonik, Senior Engineer. “However, this project is particularly important to us because our headquarters are located in downtown White River Junction. We are honored to contribute to the planning process.”

The White River Junction-based nonprofit Vital Communities, which focuses on catalyzing solutions to regional issues, has advocated for sustainable transportation options since 2002. RSG has specialized in the planning, analysis, and design of transportation systems since its founding in 1986.

Big News: SERG Joins Vital Communities

Big news from the Vital Communities Energy Program:
Sustainable Energy Resource Group (SERG) is merging into Vital Communities.

The Sustainable Energy Resounce Group (SERG) is an Upper Valley nonprofit with a strong legacy of local energy action in the Upper Valley. Since its founding in 2002, SERG has pioneered many innovative local energy projects that have since been replicated throughout the Northeast.

After 14 years as an independent nonprofit organization, we are thrilled to announce that SERG has decided to combine forces with Vital Communities’ growing Energy Program. Vital Communities and SERG have been close allies since Vital Communities first began work on energy issues in 2009, collaborating on many projects and working together to support our region’s expanding network of town energy committees. In combining our two programs we are confident we can accomplish more together than we ever could on our own.

Just a few highlight’s from the long list of SERG accomplishments over the past 14 years:

  • Established the first town energy committees in Vermont and New Hampshire in 2002 (there are now more than 200 across both states)
  • Inspired and helped develop the “Button Up” weatherization workshop series that has been presented dozens of times throughout the Upper Valley
  • Led an effort that tripled the number of weatherized homes in Thetford in one year, and helped launch a Vermont Home Energy Challenge to get other towns to do the same
  • Created an online resource library and e-newsletter to help residents in the Upper Valley improve their energy footprints
  • Organized and hosted dozens of public forums on everything from solar hot water to electric vehicles

In the coming year, SERG Founder and Executive Director Bob Walker will work directly with Vital Communities as a consultant and mentor to ensure a strong transition.

We’re seeking partners and supporters in this exciting transition – make a gift today to support Vital Communities in carrying forward SERG’s legacy of inspiring sustainable energy action in the Upper Valley.

The move will be official as of January 1, and we’re planning a big old party in February to celebrate SERG’s accomplishments and kick off our exciting new work together. Stay tuned!

Have questions, comments, or well wishes? Email Sarah@VitalCommunities.org.

Meet Our Board: Ronald G. Shaiko

Ronald G. Shaiko brings a long career of academic excellence to Vital Communities, having taught for more than a quarter century at the university level. This includes 15 years at Dartmouth College and 10 years at American University, where he is credited with founding and serving as the academic director of the Lobbying Institute. Currently, he serves as a senior fellow and associate director for curricular and research programs at The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences. He is past Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Politics in the American Studies Center at Warsaw University in Poland, American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Democracy Fellow at the United States Agency for International Development. In addition to teaching, Ronald is a sought-after presenter and published author widely quoted by media. He holds a BA in Political Science and History from Ursinus College and an MA and PhD in Political Science from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

Modern Wood Heating Forum

Modern Wood Pellet Heating Forum
Montshire Museum in Norwich, Vermont – and ONLINE

This forum will focus on central wood pellet heating technology for residential and commercial settings. This technology is highly efficient and more affordable than ever thanks to several new incentives in both New Hampshire and Vermont. A modern wood pellet boiler can completely replace a conventional oil boiler for a fraction of the annual heating cost. And there are no heavy pellet bags to haul. Central pellet boilers are fed automatically from a hopper, and the hopper is filled with pellets by a delivery truck.

Experts in wood pellet modern wood heating technology will discuss:

  • Central residential and commercial modern wood heating technology, including efficiency
  • How wood pellets are processed, delivered, stored, and automatically fed to the boiler
  • Environmental concerns (sustainable harvesting, short vs. long term carbon release, particulates, etc.)
  • Pricing and availability of boilers and pellets
  • Economics of modern wood heat vs. fossil fuels
  • Incentives and financing

Participants include:

  • Adam Sherman, Biomass Energy Resource Center
  • Maura Adams, Northern Forest Center
  • Charlie Niebling, Innovative Natural Resource Solutions
  • Scott Nichols, Tarm USA
  • Morton Bailey, Lyme Green Heat

Thanks to Bob “The Green Guy” Farnham, we will post the video for viewing after the event at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNT2NFOgrO0

Sponsored by Lyme Green HeatTarm USAPellergy and Kedel Pellet Boilers

Organizational cosponsors: Sustainable Energy Resource GroupVital CommunitiesEfficiency VermontNorthern Forest CenterBiomass Energy Resource CenterRenewable Energy VermontSierra Club Upper Valley GroupTwo Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission,Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning CommissionAlliance for Green Heat

For more information contact Sarah@VitalCommunities.org (802.291.9100 x109) or SERG@SERG-Info.org (802.785.4126).

Meet Our Board: Bill Geraghty

Hanover resident and Vital Communities Board Chairman Bill Geraghty is no stranger to leading people. His accomplishments include nearly a quarter century leading human resources teams at the Upper Valley’s two largest employers, Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Dartmouth College, and before that, a combined 15 years at Princeton University and nearby Middlesex County College. Currently Bill is an adjunct faculty member at both Franklin Pierce University and New England College. In addition, he leads his own consulting practice focusing on leadership development, coaching, positive employee relations, labor relations, hiring processes, and communications. Bill’s track record of volunteering is just as impressive as he willingly shares expertise gathered during his four-decade career by serving on the boards of several nonprofits. Bill also currently serves on the Hanover Board of Selectmen.

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