Governor Peter Shumlin announced today the allocation $1.8 million in tax credits to downtowns across the state to support nearly $30 million in building improvements. The credits, competitively awarded by the Downtown Development Board, went to 15 projects ranging in size from a small community group’s efforts to open the shuttered village store in Guilford to more substantial private investments like the conversion of Winooski’s Champlain Mill into a hub for rapidly growing technology firms like MyWebGrocer. Other projects include the preservation of 37 affordable housing units at the Wharf Lane apartments in Burlington and 41 senior housing units at the former Hotel Rockingham in Bellows Falls. A complete list of tax credit projects is included below. The tax credit is one of the primary benefits of Downtown and Village Center Designation and assist hard-to-finance building revitalizations seen in community centers across the state. Most of the funding supports state-mandated code retrofits — like elevators and sprinklers systems — that are cost prohibitive to most commercial building owners. ‘This program has an impressive track record. A recent study showed that every dollar of tax credits leverages $16 more in outside investment, and every $1 million in tax credits resulted in 109 jobs,’ said Gov. Shumlin. ‘I know of few other state programs that provide such a substantial return on public investment to our communities and economy.’ Noelle Mackay, Commissioner of the Department of Economic, Housing, and Community Development and Chair of the Downtown Board, agreed, adding, ‘To improve Vermont’s quality of life and economy we must make investments to make communities strong and vital. This program does that and I’m enthusiastic about its potential to tackle the Governor’s priorities ‘ stimulating much-needed local economic activity and job creation, promoting housing choices, and improving the state’s infrastructure in a sustainable way .’ The Downtown Program is a training and incentive effort to help maintain Vermont’s compact development pattern by targeting state resources to promote the efficient use of land, infrastructure, and resources. Over 100 of Vermont’s Downtowns and Village Centers are designated and these communities receive priority for consideration for state funding, increased Act 250 thresholds, and tax credits to promote vital communities. 2010 Downtown and Village Center State Tax Credits ProjectAllocation Total CostEligible WorkBrattleboro / 151 Main Street (Renaissance Fine Jewelry)$ 95,834 $ 580,000 sprinkler/codeBarre / 159 North Main Street (Former Homer Fitts)$ 53,075 $ 210,900 sprinkler/lift/code/faÃ§adeBarre / 210 North Main Street (Quarry Grill & Tavern)$ 17,176 $ 240,000 elevator/sprinkler/rehabBellows Falls / 45 Rockingham Street (Hotel Rockingham)$ 162,502 $ 2,203,575 sprinkler/code/faÃ§adeBurlington / 57 Maple Street (Wharf Lane)$ 277,228 $ 8,761,000 elevator/sprinkler/code/rehabCavendish / 1589 Main Street (Glimmerstone)$ 112,740 $ 1,142,793 sprinkler/code/rehabEssex Junction / 8 Railroad Avenue$ 48,750 $ 400,000 sprinkler/code/faÃ§adeGuilford / 475 Coolidge Highway (Village Store)$ 13,018 $ 993,393 sprinklerHardwick / 71 Wolcott Street (Riverview Building)$ 193,200 $ 1,114,000 sprinkler/code/rehabMorrisville / 82 Portland Street $ 102,500 $ 650,000 elevator/sprinkler/code/rehabSaxtons River / 35 Main Street (Main Street Arts)$ 83,050 $ 533,473 elevator/sprinkler/codeSt. Albans / 18-20 Lake Street$ 99,300 $ 393,000 sprinkler/code/rehabSt. Albans / 58-60 Lake Street (St. Albans House)$ 174,725 $ 1,104,500 elevator/sprinkler/code/rehabSt. Johnsbury / 1302 Main Street (Fairbanks Museum)$ 50,000 $ 278,191 sprinkler/code/rehabWinooski / One Main Street (Champlain Mill )$ 341,902 $ 11,156,837 rehab $ 1,825,000 $ 29,761,662
Schmoldt’s take:This is a tough decision because there are so many ways to run with it. There are some very good sideline reporters, including Dave’s pick. I also have a personal preference toward Jill Arrington, and one day this spot could very well be held by the up-and-coming Erin Andrews, but it’s a little too early for that.Nonetheless, I will take a reporter who has really only been able to showcase her talent for a brief while, but in that time, made my life complete — and actually knew what she was talking about as well. I’m talking about Melissa Stark, and anyone who has seen or heard her obviously knows there is no argument that would beat me here.She’s diverse, having covered pretty much every sport, from figure skating to golf’s “Battle at the Bighorn,” but most of you probably remember her as the blonde fact-monger that made an already moronic Eric Dickerson look even more insane than he was on “Monday Night Football.”I remember her being able to silence an entire sports bar just by showing up on the big screen, though usually her well-researched analysis stole the show. Unfortunately, she and her husband, who I envy, decided that it was time to expand their family and thus ruin my life, as she had to “take the year off” of “Monday Night Football” to have a child. Even more unfortunate, that “year” seems to have turned into years, showing that ABC obviously has problems.Instead, she has joined the NBC ranks and now makes her living on MSNBC and the likes. We can only hope that the smart and pleasing-to-the-eye Melissa Stark will grace our boob-tube when the Olympics begin later this year.Until then, she has still won my heart, and this contest, by a landslide.Although, let’s be honest boys, we’re arguing over a bunch of women who love sports … outside of a few — which I will not name out of respect — can we really go wrong?McGrath’s take:Tough decision? What does that Schmoldt character think he is talking about? Pancakes or waffles, Corvette or Hummer, “Power Rangers” or “Captain Planet.” Those are tough decisions.Best female sideline reporter? Please. Just like when choosing between … there is only one option. ESPN’s Suzy Kolber.Kolber’s appeal stretches across the entire spectrum of human existence. As an independent female who commonly deals with male behemoths many times her size, Kolber is the ultimate symbol of female empowerment. I mean, who else do you know that turned down the advances of a charming, sweet-talking and slightly inebriated Joe Namath (arguably sports’ all-time biggest sex symbol) cold. Now that’s empowerment.Men, in general can find many things appealing about her.Beauticians can adore her spunky hairdo, which won two titles in the 2003 Crown Awards run by Super-Hair.net.Fashion experts look to Kolber and her snazzy outfits with an envious eye.For those who are visually impaired, Kolber’s soothing, seraphic voice is one that brings serenity to the soul.And for those who are hearing-impaired on the other hand, well, Kolber won’t be blinding them anytime soon.On the 100 chaotic yards of grass, NFL players and jealous cheerleaders that is the sideline, Kolber reigns supreme. Using her unparalleled skills of observation, interviewing and sprinting in heels, Kolber has become the Dan Marino of sideline reporters: the best ever never to make it to the Super Bowl, a terrible side effect of working for a cable network. And it isn’t like Kolber is a one-sport wonder. She is the Deion Sanders of female sports reporting. Along with her usual ESPN “Sunday Night Football” duties, Kolber is the lead interviewer and second-string host for the NFL Draft coverage. She also hosts the most in-depth NFL show out there, “NFL Matchup,” where Kolber shows she knows just as much as any offensive coordinator. In fact, rumor has it the Cleveland Browns were interested in her, but then again, who isn’t?Tough decision, Schmoldt? The only thing tough about it is picking against Kolber. Way to go, tough guy.