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Bennington Select Board launches online updates

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BENNINGTON — Select Board Chairman Donald Campbell and Vice Chairwoman Jeannie Jenkins hosted an online community update session this week to highlight resources available to residents and businesses during the coronavirus emergency.

The session, which included town Community Development Director Shannon Barsotti and Bennington County Regional Commission Assistant Director Bill Colvin, was shown on CAT-TV and streamed on Facebook. It was the first weekly update planned between regular meetings of the Select Board during the crisis.

Barsotti talked about the information listed under COVID-19 Resources on the Bennington town website, http://benningtonvt.org/covid-19/.

There is a resource guide prepared by the Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

That includes multiple links to business or employee-related information on such topics as health department updates from the federal government, Vermont and other states in the region; disaster loans and other emergency programs; unemployment insurance updates; communication options for working at home; tax and tax credit information; childcare options; inquiries concerning the impacts on businesses; legislative updates, and multiple links to relevant business-related organizations and agencies.

Links are also provided from the town site to a general resource listing, which is located on the BCRC website, http://www.bcrcvt.org/covid-19-resources.html.

Business assistance

Colvin talked during the presentation about some of the business services and support assistance available while many are closed down during the epidemic.

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Listed on the BCRC resources page are a small business guide to the federal economic stimulus legislation; frequently asked questions about the massive stimulus bill; information for businesses on state policies for staying at home during the crisis; U.S. Department of Agriculture measures to help residents and businesses; a Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development guide for businesses; links to the Department of Labor online employment insurance application process; a Vermont small business disaster recovery guide; the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center COVID-19 resource guide for businesses; Vermont tax guidance frequently asked questions; state tax department COVID-19 updates; links to the Vermont Small Business Development Center, and a list of businesses consider essential and allowed to remain open under the governor's shutdown order.

Community needs

Also found on the town website page are links to food resources, individual and community transportation options; public health information and to organizations or formats for donating, time or money to support community members and local businesses.

The regular Bennington Select Board meetings also are going online during the emergency. The first was held March 23, with Campbell and Assistant Town Manager Dan Monks located in the board's meeting room at the Bennington Firehouse and other members and local officials connected via a televised teleconference.

Campbell said this week that officials are discussing how to best comply with open meeting law requirements to allow citizens to comment or ask questions during a meeting.

He said the next scheduled regular meeting, which also will be online and on CAT-TV, is set for April 13, at which time the board will reorganize and elect officers for the coming year.

The board also will welcome Sarah Perrin, who was at the annual meeting. Chad Gordon did not seek re-election and his term will end this month.

Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont, including the Bennington Banner, Brattleboro Reformer and Manchester Journal. Twitter: @BB_therrien


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