Tag - Reducing Chronic Conditions

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The Power of Habit
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3-4-50 Recognition
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How to Get Started Mountain Biking
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Fabulous Fiber!
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Hearing Loss and Diabetes
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10 Tips to Eat Healthy During Summer Travel
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Can We Do More For Our Neighbors?
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Protecting Your Smile
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Stress and Your Health
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Homelessness in the Lamoille Valley 

The Power of Habit

By: Rorie Dunphey

Have you ever ‘decided’ to make changes to your health (lose weight, quit smoking, start exercising…), only to be disappointed in yourself days or weeks later having ‘failed’? You may feel disappointed in yourself due to a ‘lack of willpower’ or simply feel overwhelmed by how hard it is to change. In fact, change is not a ‘decision’, but rather it is a process that takes time and patience.

Don’t underestimate the power of habit! Habit formation (whether starting or stopping a behavior) is both physical and psychological. Our brain actually creates neural pathways for new behaviors. Our body and mind are in the habit of behaving in a certain way, and it can take time for a new habit to form or an old habit to diminish.

Change is a process, not an event. Here are some tips to help create healthy habits:

  • Practice patience. Research tells us that it takes as much as 180 days to truly let go of an old habit and adopt a new one. So hang in there!
  • Stop beating yourself up! Putting yourself down if you find yourself engaged in the old habit can damage our confidence. Instead, practice positive thinking and be compassionate with yourself.
  • Celebrate catching yourself. Instead of putting yourself down for ‘being weak’, congratulate yourself for being aware. Each time you catch yourself and become aware, you will build confidence and motivation.
  • Use structures to help remind yourself about the new behavior or goal. For example, put sticky notes on the bathroom mirror, set an alarm on your phone, or link the new behavior to something you already do (like walking right after breakfast).
  • Involve others in your goal. Let family, friends or co-workers know you are working to change. Enlist support and feedback to help. Find a partner with a similar goal to help motivate each other!
  • Work with a health coach or healthcare provider. They can provide support and accountability during the process of habit formation.

Don’t wait until New Years to make healthy changes in your life. Habits can be changed or created any time of year!


Rorie Dunphey works under Vermont’s Blueprint for Health as the RN Chronic Care Coordinator at Family Practice Associates in Cambridge. She works one-on-one with people and also leads classes to promote health and help people better manage their chronic diseases. She also assists patients in accessing community and state resources to better coordinate their health and wellness needs. Rorie has a particular passion for promoting a healthy diet and exercise routine to inspire people to live their best life.

 

3-4-50 Recognition

By: Valerie Valcour

Lamoille Valley communities value what our natural resources have to offer. We value recreation, locally-grown foods, fresh air, clean waterways, rural traditions, the arts, culture, and historical preservation. These attributes are cherished and promoted throughout local communities and with visitors.

These attributes help to explain why Vermont has been identified as the number one best state to live in according to CNBC and why for several years, Vermont has been one of the top three healthiest states according to the Nation’s Health Ranking.

Vermonters have much to be proud of and there is still work to be done to assure that everyone in our state has an equitable chance to reach their optimum health. In Lamoille Valley, the Vermont Department of Health local office has been, one-by-one, meeting with local businesses, town selectboards, school administrators, child care directors, and faith communities to introduce the 3-4-50 campaign.

Lamoille Valley_Community Health_Chronic Disease

3-4-50 is a simple but powerful way to understand and communicate the overwhelming impact of chronic disease in Vermont. 3-4-50 represents 3 behaviors – lack of physical activity, poor nutrition and tobacco use – that lead to 4 chronic diseases – cancer, heart disease/stroke, type 2 diabetes, and lung disease – resulting in more than 50 percent of all deaths in Vermont.

The 3-4-50 campaign includes tips and strategies to assist our communities or organizations to create meaningful change. We need commitment from all corners of Vermont to embrace these health-promoting strategies. The 3-4-50 campaign can inspire action at all levels, building a foundation for longer and healthier lives for Vermonters, and reduce the escalating costs to treat preventable diseases. The 3-4-50 campaign has developed a “Sign-On” process for any community or organization to meet wellness recommendations.

In Lamoille Valley, nine organizations have signed on as 3-4-50 Partners. The Morrisville District Office of the Vermont Department of Health is proud to report that Copley Hospital, Green Mountain Support Services, Helen Day Art Center, Lamoille County Mental Health, Lamoille County Planning Commission, Lamoille Home Health and Hospice, Little Moose Crossing Childcare, North Central Vermont Recovery Center and Riverbend Market are all 3-4-50 Partners.

You too can sign on as a 3-4-50 Partner and the Vermont Department of Health, Morrisville Office is here to help you achieve your wellness goals. Together we can reduce the burden of chronic disease and close the gap in health inequities. Please contact Valerie Valcour RN at 888-1351 or email Valerie.valcour@vermont.gov for more information.


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. Recently Valerie has volunteered as a board member of both Community Health Services of Lamoille Valley and the Lamoille County Planning Commission.

How to Get Started Mountain Biking

By: Bonnie Strong, Copley Hospital Authorization Coordinator

Mountain bikes are a great way to exercise and get out into the woods. Compared to road bikes, they have bigger tires with rugged tread and suspension to absorb shock. Trails vary from smooth and flowy to technical single track.

After you figure out what kind of riding you want to do (trail, x-country, enduro, downhill) head to your local bike shop and they will fit you to the appropriate type of bike. There are different types of riding and bikes to match. Trail bikes are good for all purposes and most riders around here have these. Cross-country bikes are lightweight and good for smoother trails (they have no rear suspension); enduro bikes are ok for uphill and good for downhill, while downhill bikes are specific for lift assisted mountains and bike parks.

Ride some demo bikes or rent them and check out some bike swaps. Ask your bike friends what they’re into; it’s a great way to socialize. Grab some biking shorts, gloves, and a helmet. There are plenty of clinics at mountain bike centers (often free!) that will get you started and they’ll rent you a bike. Learn the basics and you’ll be on your way.

Most towns with mountain biking trails have a club that does a weekly group ride. If you’re not riding with others yet, it’s a great way to learn where the trails are, improve your riding and meet other riders. The rides are divided into different levels and you won’t be left behind. Meet up with the riders at your level on other days or head out on your own and keep learning and improving. Go to other bike shops in other towns for maps and ideas, and ride everywhere. Soon, you’ll be hooked!


Bonnie Strong is Authorization Coordinator at Copley Hospital and volunteers with Stowe Trails Partnership. When not biking, you can find her doing trail work and leading group rides.

Fabulous Fiber!

By: Rorie Dunphey

Health Benefits of Fiber_Whole Grains

Why is FIBER important?

A fiber rich diet has many benefits to a healthy lifestyle. It can reduce your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as several kinds of cancer. It also can improve cholesterol, lower blood pressure, regulate digestion and help with weight loss. With farmers markets and CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) in full swing now, eating locally produced, fiber-rich foods is both easy and delicious!

What is FIBER?

There are 2 kinds: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber can help control blood sugar and cholesterol, while insoluble fiber adds bulk to our colon and can act like a brush, helping food pass through the digestive tract more efficiently. Fiber can be found in fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts and beans.

What is a WHOLE GRAIN?

A whole grain has 3 layers: the fiber-rich bran or outer layer, the endosperm or middle layer, and the germ or inner layer. Whole grains are not only rich in fiber, but also are loaded with nutrients. Some examples include whole grain breads, oats, corn meal, bulgur, quinoa, brown rice, farro and popcorn. A refined grain is processed leaving only the middle or endosperm layer is left, thus removing much of the beneficial fiber and nutrients.

How much is ENOUGH?  It is generally recommended that people consume 25 to 38 grams of fiber each day. Add fiber to your diet slowly, over a few weeks. Too much too fast can cause bloating or gas.

How can I add more FIBER to my diet?

  • Eat 5-10 servings of vegetables and fruits per day, ½ cup of whole grains (brown rice, whole grain bread), ¼ cup nuts, ½ cooked veggies, 1 cup of fruit
  • Read labels! Choose breads, cereals, pasta and crackers that list ‘Whole Grain’ as the first ingredient. Look for the ‘Whole Grain’ stamp on the package and beware of deceptive marketing. ‘Multi Grain’, ‘wheat’ and ‘enriched flour’ do NOT mean whole grain. Products with at least 10% of the ‘percent daily value’ are generally fiber-rich foods.
  • Eat more recipes with beans, barley, lentils, quinoa, bulgur or brown rice
  • Eat oatmeal or whole grain cereal for breakfast
  • Buy unprocessed foods, as processing often removes the fiber.

How do you sneak more fiber into your diet?


Rorie Dunphey works under Vermont’s Blueprint for Health as the RN Chronic Care Coordinator at Family Practice Associates in Cambridge. She works one-on-one with people and also leads classes to promote health and help people better manage their chronic diseases. She also assists patients in accessing community and state resources to better coordinate their health and wellness needs. Rorie has a particular passion for promoting a healthy diet and exercise routine to inspire people to live their best life.

Hearing Loss and Diabetes

By: Nancy Wagner

People with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing loss as those without diabetes. People with prediabetes have a 30% higher rate of hearing loss than those with normal blood sugar, according to the 2009 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Scientists aren’t quite sure of the link or cause but have some theories:

  1. Chronic high blood sugars: These can damage blood vessels, thus disrupting blood flow to the cochlea, a small organ in the ear which is responsible for our hearing.
  2. Fluctuating blood sugars: frequent swings between very high blood sugars and very low blood sugars can damage the blood vessels in the ear.
  3. Chronic high blood sugars or rapid swings between high and low blood sugars may cause the cochlea to become inflamed and this swelling causes damage to the tissue and blood vessels.

Hearing loss usually happens gradually so it often goes undetected. Many times a family member or close friend will notice the problem before the person with diabetes does. Symptoms of hearing loss include:

  1. Frequently asking others to repeat themselves.
  2. Trouble hearing higher pitched voices/noises – women and young children.
  3. Needing to turn the volume up on your TV or radio or cell phone.
  4. Having trouble hearing when there is background noise.
  5. Having trouble following a conversation involving more than 2 people.
  6. Not understanding someone talking in another room or when their back is turned.

Risk factors for hearing loss besides diabetes include:

  1. 65 years old or older
  2. Regularly exposed to loud noises
  3. Genetically predisposed to hearing loss
  4. Smoking
  5. Non-Hispanic white
  6. Male
  7. Living with heart disease
  8. Frequent ear infections (now or when younger)

If you suspect you have hearing loss talk to your primary care provider.  He or she may refer you to an audiologist who will conduct a hearing test. Once the inner ear is damaged, you can’t restore hearing. However, there are devices available including hearing aids and amplifiers for your phone. The audiologist will also teach you strategies such as lip reading.

Hearing loss can lead to embarrassment and isolation so please reach out to your provider for help. I developed hearing loss about 8 years ago as a result of a genetic predisposition. I learned many strategies from my audiologist and wear hearing aids in both ears. Your audiologist will also have helpful resources on paying for your hearing aids.


Nancy Wagner is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and a Certified Diabetes Educator at Copley Hospital.  She enjoys helping others learn new things about nutrition, their health habits, and their chronic diseases

10 Tips to Eat Healthy During Summer Travel

By: Rorie Dunphey

The weather is finally improving and it is finally beginning to feel like summer. For many of us, summer means adventures and traveling. Is it possible to eat healthy when we are on the road having fun? Yes! Here are 10 simple tips to eating healthy when away from home;

  • Consider your drink – Choose water, unsweetened tea or drinks with no added sugars. Avoid drinking calories.
  • Savor a salad – Start your meal with a salad packed with vegetables to help you feel satisfied sooner. Ask for dressing on the side and use a small amount.
  • Share a meal or dish – Divide a main entrée between family and friends. Ask for small plates for everyone at the table.
  • Select from the sides – Order a side dish or appetizer as a meal. It is usually more than enough food!
  • Pack your snacks – Pack a cooler with ready-to-eat fruit, vegetables or unsalted nuts to eat on road trips. It can help you avoid stopping for junk food when you need to stop to fill the gas tank.
  • Fill your plate with vegetables and fruits – Stir-fries, kabobs or vegetarian options can be healthy and delicious. Order meals without gravy or sauces. Select fruits for dessert.
  • Compare calories, fat and sodium – Many menus now have nutritional information. Look for items that are lower in calories, saturated fat and sodium. You can also ask your server about for healthier options.
  • Pass on the buffet – Order individual items from the menu and avoid ‘all you can eat’ buffets. Steamed, grilled or broiled dishes usually have fewer calories than fried or sautéed foods.
  • Get your whole grains – Ask for 100% whole grain bread, rolls and pasta when eating sandwiches, burgers or entrees.
  • Quit the ‘clean plate club’ – Be mindful of how full you feel and stop eating when you have had enough. Slow down and savor each bite. Pack leftovers away immediately to avoid nibbling and refrigerate them for tomorrow’s meal.

It can be often be challenging to eat balanced and nutritious foods when away from home, but with a little effort and planning, you can still have fun and be healthy. Enjoy and safe traveling!


Rorie Dunphey works under Vermont’s Blueprint for Health as the RN Chronic Care Coordinator at Family Practice Associates in Cambridge. She works one-on-one with people and also leads classes to promote health and help people better manage their chronic diseases. She also assists patients in accessing community and state resources to better coordinate their health and wellness needs. Rorie has a particular passion for promoting a healthy diet and exercise routine to inspire people to live their best life.

Can We Do More For Our Neighbors?

By: Sarah Williams

I was moved to speak at our Town Meeting in Stowe when our neighbors were debating the comparatively large recreation budget versus the nearly nonexistent social services budget. I made the life choice to pursue a career in supporting our most vulnerable neighbors. I do it because if we don’t care for those who are struggling, for those who are in crisis, for those who need a pathway up and out of their trouble, I feel that we all—as a community and as a society—are only as strong as our lowest common denominator. When kids don’t have what they need to be successful in their early years, their chance of success as adults, community members and employees is greatly challenged. The success of our community is what we make of it. Recreational paths are nice, sure, but what makes a strong economy are the people who participate in it. The strength of the people in Stowe is what will make our community rise.

The strength of the people in Stowe is what will make our community rise.

When the public thinks about mental health, often their mind goes straight to emergency rooms and the state hospital—a vision of a person being locked away under a guard of nurses. In reality, the mental health system is infinitely more nuanced. 90% of mental health is supporting people to live healthy, productive and self-directed lives. We do this a number of ways:

  • After a tragedy in schools or at fire stations through grief support
  • creating support systems with foster and adoptive families to ensure permanence for children
  • helping people with developmental disabilities to build relationships and hold meaningful work
  • providing support for someone to return to work after a decade of doubting that they are able to get and hold a job
  • helping someone who is struggling with an issue with a family member or friend, who doesn’t know what steps to take to next; we have a system in place that helps people figure out the steps to ease their troubles and to know that they aren’t alone in figuring out a solution.

The emergency response budget that we passed in Stowe on Town Meeting Day is going to continue to rise unless we start doing things differently. Reactionary response is both expensive and debilitating to the population who are struggling day to day. Consider the economic impact of each of these individual lives:

  • This winter, St. John’s in the Mountains Episcopal Church in Stowe erected an emergency homeless shelter that welcomed over 100 people—many of them children from Stowe. How does the lack of stable housing affect the ability of the parents of these children to hold a job, and for their kids to excel in school?
  • Consider the long-term, compounded costs of children going hungry over the summer due to lack of access to the free lunch program. How does this affect their long-term physical and mental health?
  • When the police are responding to mental health calls instead of being available emergencies, how does this affect both the safety of those calling the police, as well as the cost of the police budget? Wouldn’t that money be better spent on social services that get at the root of the problem rather than on emergency services?
  • Our elderly struggling to maintain their independence at home, while battling isolation, physical and mental health challenges. Don’t we owe it to our community elders to support the home share program?

The Stowe social services budget is 0.4 % of the town budget this year, while Morrisville contributes 1.3%–$82,469 to the community partners who help our neighbors, including CapStone, Lamoille County Mental Health Service, Home Share, the food shelf and Meals on Wheels. That is almost two times the amount we contribute to these programs that support our town.

So when I ask the question “Can we give more to our town social services budget?” I am asking you to not only think of Stowe as a great place to vacation and to have fun, but as a great place to live, work and raise a family.  To do this, we need to support the people who live in here who are struggling silently. If you need to hear it will save us money, it will. If you need to hear that giving back is showing your gratitude that you are one of the lucky ones, it is.  Our select board wants to hear that our town cares what happens to those who cannot speak for themselves.  Please contact your select board today and tell them that you support an increase in the social services budget in your town.


Sarah, an LNA who works as a Medication Coordinator for Lamoille County Mental Health Services, lives in Stowe with her two teenage sons.  She is a runner and garden enthusiast.

Protecting Your Smile

By: Wendy S. Hubbard, RN, MCHC and Linda Greaves, Dental Hygienist, Vermont Department of Health, Morrisville Office

Pregnancy is a busy time for a woman. Remembering to take time for yourself is important. One item that is easy to overlook during the excitement is maintaining your oral health. Going to the dentist during your pregnancy is safe and one of the first things you can do to provide for the health of your baby.

In a recent Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) report, only 63% of women had their teeth cleaned in the year prior to their pregnancy and only 62% of women had their teeth cleaned during pregnancy.

Dental care is so important during pregnancy that in Vermont if you are insured by Medicaid there is an expanded dental benefit through pregnancy and continues for 60 days after the baby is born. The PRAMS report stated 28% of women with Medicaid that had a dental problem did not think they could afford to go to the dentist. The Medicaid expanded dental coverage has no required co-pay or cap on services. You are fully covered!

Twenty-eight percent of women enrolled in Medicaid that needed a dentist according to the PRAMS report could not find a dentist who accepted Medicaid. Women can call the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) at 800-464-4343 for assistance in finding a local dental provider.

This website http://www.healthvermont.gov/local/morrisville has links to the twelve local health offices for the phone number to the office closest to you.

For further information on oral health resources for the whole family please visit the VDH website: http://www.healthvermont.gov/wellness/oral-health/resources-health-professionals.

Stress and Your Health

By: Rorie Dunphey

I’m sure you have heard how chronic stress can be bad for your health and maybe you have thought to yourself, “I really need to reduce my stress, but how?”

There is solid evidence that chronic stress has a detrimental effect on both our physical and mental health, making stress management a vital to good health. With the frantic pace of our hyper-connected lives and the steady flow of information barraging us, it is easy to feel swept along as if someone else is in charge of your life. In addition, our culture feeds us messages that encourage constant stimulation and busyness, with leisure and relaxation judged as ‘lazy’. It may just seem easier to keep tumbling forward, never really taking the time to slow down and de-stress. We adapt by simply resetting to this low level of anxiety, which becomes our ‘new normal’.

Here are some examples of how stress affects the body;

  • Brain: Difficulty concentrating, anxiety, depression, irritability, mood, mind fog.
  • Heart and lungs: Higher cholesterol, higher blood pressure, increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Joints and muscles: Increased inflammation, tension, aches and pains, muscle tightness.
  • Immune system: Decreased immune function, lowered immune defenses, increased risk of becoming ill, increase in recovery time.
  • Skin: Hair loss, dull or brittle hair, brittle nails, dry skin, acne, delayed tissue repair.
  • Stomach: Decreased nutrient absorption, diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, bloating, pain and discomfort.
  • Reproductive system: Decreased libido, increase in PMS symptoms.

This is certainly not a very pleasant list of symptoms. Managing stress does not mean eliminating all the causes of the stress in our lives, which is usually impossible. What it does mean is that we can learn to better respond to stress and establish healthy practices to better manage our day to day responsibilities.

Here are some simple practices that you can try:

  • Get moving: Get some exercise and fresh air daily. Take a walk, swim, dance, do yoga…Regular exercise helps us manage our mood, weight & energy level. Even a 10-minute stroll can help us feel less stressed and more grounded.
  • Spend quiet time in nature: Go to a park, the beach or into the woods; or if you can’t get there put some pictures of nature where you will see them daily.
  • Plan a weekly ‘fun’ activity: Invite a friend or family member to share in the fun and find free fun things to do around town. Host a game night!
  • Practice gratitude: Think of 3 things that you feel grateful for every day upon waking or before bed. Notice how you feel when you appreciate the good things you already have.
  • Body care: Try massage, acupuncture or a warm bath for relaxation.
  • Pray: When you feel tempted to worry about a person or situation in your life, prayer may be helpful. This does not need to be ‘religious’ prayer, but rather a way of letting go and accepting what we cannot change. Focus on having compassion for the person or problem that is the focus of our stress, rather than building up difficult emotions like anger or fear.
  • Help someone else: Volunteer, help a friend, show kindness to a stranger. Often the simple act of recognizing what we have to offer can help us feel more appreciative of what we do have.
  • Ask for help and graciously receive it: This takes courage! We all sometimes have a hard time accepting help or recognizing when we need it.  Give someone the gift of being able to help you. It usually feels good to the other person, gives us a boost and brings us a closer personal connection.
  • Do something you love that makes you happy every day: It could be something different and simple every day; read a book, talk with a good friend, cook a meal you enjoy, buy a fancy coffee, work in your garden, play a game, listen to favorite music, take a nap.
  • Honor yourself: We all have limitations and strengths. Notice what you are good at and what you like about yourself and focus on it a few minutes daily. Smile at yourself in the mirror!
  • Express yourself: Write in a journal, draw, paint, sing, or do something creative to express your feelings and get the yucky stuff out of your system.
  • Build community: Consider participating in a group that is meaningful to you, such as a church, support group, or a sports team. Spending time with people you enjoy and with whom you share values and interests helps us feel more connected and supported as we face life stressors.

While we often cannot change the cause of our stress, we can always change our reaction to it.  Managing our stress is a commitment and a choice, and is central to good health.


Rorie Dunphey works under Vermont’s Blueprint for Health as the RN Chronic Care Coordinator at Family Practice Associates in Cambridge. She works one-on-one with people and also leads classes to promote health and help people better manage their chronic diseases. She also assists patients in accessing community and state resources to better coordinate their health and wellness needs. Rorie has a particular passion for promoting a healthy diet and exercise routine to inspire people to live their best life.

Homelessness in the Lamoille Valley 

By: Will Eberle, Agency of Human Services Field Director, Barre and Morrisville Districts

In a rural community, homelessness can feel invisible. You don’t walk down the street and step over homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk to get to the coffee shop. You don’t see people flying signs at every underpass and median. Homelessness in the Lamoille Valley may feel invisible but it is as real as you and me.

Over 150 people came together in Morrisville in early February for a Homelessness Awareness Walk to raise the point that any one of the people walking that day could find themselves homeless from circumstances that swing out of their control.

We called this event “We are the 64” because last year’s “Point in Time count,” which counts the nation-wide homeless population once a year, made it clear that on any given day in Lamoille there are at least 64 people experiencing homelessness. Nearly half—27 individuals— are children.

Every week our Housing Solutions Team pours over a 6-8 page list of individuals and families who are homeless or about to be, to help them secure safe and stable housing.

If you stand up after reading this and remember one thing I say, let it be this: anyone can become homeless at any time. It is not a moral lapse, or a shortcoming of character, but a crisis, a state of emergency – that has more causes then we could list.

If we’re honest, every one of us who has achieved a modicum of success must admit that it is due not just to our own efforts, but the support of friends and family, and the communities we hold so dear.

Together, let us draw a line in the sand and say we don’t want homelessness to be a part of our community anymore. Let us embrace the ethic that we are no longer interested in focusing on blame and judgment but the goodness, and value, and potential, of every person in our communities. Let each of us who stepped out on that cold day, and every other ally we can muster, roll up our sleeves and do our own small part to ensure all of our neighbors have a warm bed to sleep in every night.

Causes of homelessness are complicated, and the solutions are too — but we Vermonters are crafty and resilient and willing to work as hard as we need to get the job done. The faith community, law enforcement, a host of non-profits, state entities, and private citizens have stepped up to begin to weave a safety net for our most vulnerable Vermonters. What we have accomplished together is inspiring but there is much hard work left to do. Together we must build the world that we want to live in.

When you look in the mirror tomorrow morning, ask yourself: “Did I take a step to make the world a better place?”

Make the answer, “Yes.”

To get involved, contact me at Will.Eberle@Vermont.gov.