Archive - July 2016

Lamoille Valley Rail Trail
e-WIC is Live in Morrisville!
Can Your Work Life Be Your Social Life?
Eating for a Healthy Heart
Rethinking the Role of Alcohol

Lamoille Valley Rail Trail

By: Todd Thomas

Lamoille Valley Rail Trail

Did you know that something happened this summer that will change all of our lives? And no, I am not talking about the Br-exit vote. Nor am I talking about the duplicitous NFL Commissioner punishing Tom Brady for footballs that were naturally deflated (alas us Vermonters know how cold air works in the winter).

I am talking about the ribbon-cutting that took place in June in Morrisville for our section of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. As a land use planner, I love talking about how transportation shapes the built environment, especially how providing active transportation choices can improve the physical health and economic wellbeing of a community. But first I will tell you how our new rail trail is going to change downtown Morrisville, much like how a similar recreational amenity slowly but profoundly changed where I grew up.

As a kid, I grew up on Boston’s North Shore and I was afforded a front row seat to the metamorphosis of towns like Newburyport and Ipswich as recreational bicycling slowly invaded each of these downtowns, forever changing them. This “invasion” started when the commuter train line into Boston started replacing the train’s passenger seats with bike-racks in one of the train cars heading out to the coast on Saturdays in the summer. This train bike-rack pilot program quickly grew in popularity to where, before long, on various warm weather days, trains were rolling north out of Boston’s North Station with more cyclists and bikes onboard headed to Newburyport and Ipswich than regular train passengers. Not surprisingly, all of these cyclists starting patronizing my sleepy local lunch spots after a hard day of pedal-touring places like Plum Island in Newburyport. Pretty soon these lunch spots were no longer sleepy and the locals even had to contend with lycra-wearing road warriors for seats at our (no-longer-so-local) pub on Friday night. I think I finally realized how grand this recreational-induced transformation had become when a local bait shop turned into a gift shop seemingly overnight – like a caterpillar turning into a beautiful butterfly. 

In Vermont, everything is smaller and everything seems to take a little longer than it does in southern New England. So while I do expect the opening of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail to profoundly and positively affect downtown Morrisville, like it did for Newburyport and Ipswich, it could take a decade or so for that to happen. When high-value active recreational opportunities like the new rail-trail in Morrisville, or even the Rec Path is Stowe, are offered to people, these recreation amenities become heavily used and become cherished attributes of the community.

So let this blog post encourage you to dust off that bike in your garage and put it to good use on the rail trail. In doing so, you will be improving your health and making the already fabulous downtown Morrisville even more vibrant. Hopefully I will see you out on the rail-trail, where I will be pedaling towards a healthier me and a more economically robust downtown Morrisville. And finally, don’t say I didn’t warn you when, ten years from now, you realize how important the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail was towards furthering the revitalization of our ever-improving downtown.

Todd Thomas has a Master’s Degree in City Planning from Boston University and has worked both in Massachusetts and Vermont as a consultant and as a land use planner for town government. Todd is currently the Planning Director for Morristown, Vermont.

Todd’s recent work includes helping to revitalize downtown Morrisville, making it the fastest growing city and/or historic downtown in the State since the 2010 Census. Todd attributes much of the downtown’s housing and population growth to zoning reform as it relates to minimum parking requirements.


e-WIC is Live in Morrisville!

By: Valerie Valcour

Vermont eWIC

The USDA Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program is now up to 21st century standards in Vermont! Since 1973, the program has provided income-eligible families with nutrition education and counseling as well as food prescriptions with nutrients targeted to improve health outcomes. Over 800 families are enrolled in the program through the Morrisville District of the Vermont Department of Health which includes Lamoille County as well as Hardwick, Greensboro, Craftsbury, Stannard, and Woodbury. In February 2016, the Morrisville District Office began the transition from home delivery of foods to an electronic debit card to use at the grocery store, known as e-WIC

Perhaps the most exciting advantage of the transition has been the increase in the variety of foods available to families. With home deliveries, families used to receive only one or two brands of each kind of food. Now, there are more gluten-free, whole grain and cereal options; and some organic foods including soymilk and tofu, legumes, pasta, yogurt, infant cereals, fruits and vegetables. Local foods such as La Panciata bread from Northfield, Vermont Soy tofu, and yogurt from Butterworks Farm are included. Families also receive foods when they need them instead of on a twice-per-month fixed schedule, increasing convenience. Because each participant receives a prescription of a specified quantity of food, families do not need to worry about the costs of most their WIC-eligible foods while they are shopping. Anne Farley, mother of two from Wolcott said, “It’s nice to have choices and to be able to purchase things as I need them, rather than having to store larger quantities from the delivery. I have to go to the grocery store anyway, since WIC is supplemental, and I am able to get more of a variety in the store.” Rather than foods being left on the doorstep, many families appreciate being able to shop with a card. Farley said, “If you’re at all sensitive to others knowing you receive WIC benefits…now that most of the bugs are worked out at the stores, it’s not too conspicuous with the card.”

The WIC card may be used at major supermarkets in Vermont and some smaller stores including Sterling Market in Johnson, Tops in Hardwick, the Eden General Store, and Mac’s Market in Stowe. Families may identify WIC-eligible foods multiple ways. A smartphone app called WIC Shopper allows a quick scan of any UPC code to determine eligibility. There is also a user-friendly food guide booklet available at grocery stores and WIC offices listing the brands and sizes. For spur-of-the-moment shopping trips, the labels on store shelves with the WIC symbol identifying allowed foods are helpful. Staff are dedicated to educating families so that they may have positive experiences while shopping for their WIC foods.

Free classes on oral health, nutrition, or physical activity are offered each month, often via partnerships with local programs and organizations such as Head Start, Building Bright Futures, Copley Hospital, and the Lamoille Family Center. Pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children under 5 enrolled in Medicaid insurance in Vermont are automatically eligible for WIC. For more information, visit or like us on Facebook at Interested in applying? Simply call 1-800-649-4357.

Valerie Valcour is a Public Health Nurse and specializes in chronic disease prevention and emergency preparedness at the community level for the Department of Health in Morrisville. Valerie has lived in Lamoille County most of her life. She graduated from People’s Academy in 1983 and worked as a nurse at Copley Hospital for several years. In addition to her work, she volunteers as a board member of both Community Health Services of Lamoille Valley and the Lamoille County Planning Commission.

Can Your Work Life Be Your Social Life?

By: Lynda Marshall

Workplace wellness

Worried that your boss will see you chatting to the guy at the next desk? Concerned that your employees spend too much time socializing at work? Relax. Those water cooler chats are actually a good thing—for people and for businesses.

Socializing at work is good for people. It’s perfectly natural that we develop relationships in the place we spend the most time—work. Employees with positive workplace relationships are happier at work, and happier people are more productive, more creative, and generally more successful. Social interactions stimulate the production of oxytocin, the so-called “love” hormone, which can lower cortisol (the “stress” hormone) and blood pressure, induce feelings of optimism, and increase self-esteem. Employees then respond to stress better. Social interactions also allow employees to relate to their coworkers as human beings, which promotes better communication and trust.

The bottom line? Don’t be afraid to get friendly. Not TOO friendly, but that’s a different blog post…

Interested in learning more? Dr. Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University, has a great TED Talk on this subject.

Socializing is good for business, too. Higher productivity and more creativity are important parts of a successful work culture. Don’t forget, that an employee’s attitude will invariably spill over into his or her interactions with customers and clients. Happy employees tend to stay at their jobs longer, which helps businesses save money. Bottom line? Encourage your employees to get to know one another—it’s “work” that will pay off.

Here are a couple of good pithy articles on this topic:

Lynda Marshall is the Human Resources Director & Compliance Officer at Lamoille County Mental Health Services in Morrisville. She manages human resources, acts as risk management, oversees employee wellness, and edits a community newsletter.

LCMHS is celebrating 50 years as the designated mental health and development disabilities services agency for Lamoille County. LCMHS serves children, adolescents, families, and adults, including individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Its programs help individuals gain independence and enhance the quality of their lives.

Eating for a Healthy Heart

Eating healthy is one of the most important things you can do for your heart. Luckily, it’s not as hard as you may think. In this video, cardiologist Adam Kunin, MD suggests small changes that can make a big difference in your heart health, and shares how the team at Copley Hospital can help you during your journey to a healthier lifestyle.

Rethinking the Role of Alcohol

By: Jessica Bickford

lemonade recipe

This past weekend, many of us gathered together with friends and family to celebrate the Fourth of July. We often see these celebrations as a great time to kick back with a beer, glass of wine, or mixed drink.

Working in substance abuse prevention, I’d like to challenge you to rethink the role of alcohol at your next event. (This does not mean that you will necessarily eliminate its presence altogether, but take a look…) Below are simple tips to decrease the role of alcohol in your celebrations.

1) It’s easy for our children and teens to get the message that you need alcohol to have fun. When every gathering has alcohol it’s too easy for it to become normal, leading them to believe that they can increase their fun if they have alcohol.

Tip: Have festive, quality non-alcoholic drinks on hand so that youth can celebrate too and see adults choosing non-alcoholic options. (Keep reading for a recipe for homemade lemon/limeade.

 2) Alcohol at gatherings is often not monitored well enough – making it easier for youth to experiment.*

Tip: If you have alcohol present – assign someone to monitor it to ensure that underage guests are not helping themselves. Check out for more great tips to connect with your teens!

3) You may have guests who are in long-term substance abuse recovery. Having an alcohol-free party allows them to celebrate without concern that they may relapse.

Tip: Check in with your guests before the party and always provide non-alcoholic options.

4) The drive home. Unless your guests are spending the night, you may be putting them and others at risk if they get behind the wheel.

Tip: Monitor your guests’ drinking and if someone is buzzed or intoxicated, arrange for them to stay or get a ride home.

5) The expense. Alcohol is expensive.

Tip: If you limit alcohol, you can invest in nicer food and have your guests talking about your party for years to come!

 6) Less stress. Limiting or skipping alcohol can minimize stress. No one has to worry “Uncle Bill” drinking too much and getting out of control.

Tip: Focus on fun and being together. Provide activities that your guests enjoy, like horseshoes, cards, volleyball, etc.

Celebrate well and make safety a priority!


Bonus Recipe: Lemon/Limeade for a Crowd

Homemade Lemonade/Limeade is a hit at our celebrations! I love that I don’t have to worry about who drinks it or how much they consume. Plus, I can usually make it for under $5!


  • 2 pound bag of lemons/limes
  • 3 Cups of sugar (Less if you like it tart, but I’ve found this ratio to be good for a crowd)
  • 3 Gallons of Water
  • Ice
  • Fun garnish of your choice… paper straws, sliced up lemon peels, mint, berries, etc.

(Makes 3 Gallons. For less, us 3-4 lemons/limes, 1 cup sugar, 1 gallon water.)


  • Juice your citrus.
  • Add sugar and about ½ of the water.
  • Stir until sugar is mostly dissolved.
  • Add your ice, then top off with water.
  • Garnish and enjoy!

* According to SAMHSA, youth who experiment with alcohol are more likely to have substance abuse dependence requiring treatment between the ages of 18-30. 

Jessica Bickford has worked as Coordinator of Healthy Lamoille Valley for a little over two years, where she has enjoyed writing for their blog. Writing for Copley’s community blog is a natural extension of this experience! Healthy Lamoille Valley focuses on making healthy choices easy choices, realizing that when we have access to healthy options we are less likely to choose behaviors that are harmful. Prevention is really a lifestyle of wise choices that enable us to live life to the fullest.