Bennington Racks Up Accolades
The Town of Bennington has received awards from the New England Waterworks Association, the New England Developers Association and Efficiency Vermont.
The Bennington Water Department, which is a part of the Water Resources Department, received the Utility of the Year Award from the New England Waterworks Association this month in recognition of its work following Tropical Storm Irene. During the storm, Bennington lost the use of its main water source for the 15,000 person community, and was forced to rely on its secondary source for more than a month. Through the work of the Town’s Water Department, most residents saw no appreciable difference in their service during that period. It was more than a year before the municipal water system would be back to pre-Irene condition. “We learned a lot about our water system, and a lot about ourselves, following Irene. This award represents the efforts of the entire department and the work they put in every day,” shared Terry Morse, Water Resources Superintendent.
The new municipal website won two awards, Best in Show and President’s Awards, from the New England Developers Association. The Town’s redesigned website, benningtonvt.org, was highlighted for its ease of use, customer focus and information sharing. “It was a really fun project. We were able to use a lot of information that already existed and put a new, user-friendly face on it,” stated Michael Harrington, Bennington’s Economic and Community Development Director, and the head of the redesign. The site was constructed by Spectrum Design, a local company, which built an earlier version back in 2005. “By having Spectrum continue their work with this new site, we were able to minimize cost and maximize effectiveness. They already knew so much about the community we didn’t need to coach them along,” Harrington continued.
Bennington was also recognized for its efforts to effectively reduce its electricity usage by more than 363,000 kWh annually, placing it among the top communities in Vermont to meet Efficiency Vermont’s Energy Leadership Challenge. The main drivers in this reduction were the implementation of LED (light emitting diode) lights in all of the more than 500 street lights in the Town, and efficiency work at each of the municipal buildings. Championing this effort was the Town’s Assistant Manager Daniel Monks, Facilities Director Larry McLeod, and Working Foreman Mark Sawyer. “We are constantly looking at ways to reduce our carbon footprint,” stated McLeod, “and this opportunity allowed us to take a giant leap forward.”
The municipal staff for Bennington has a long history of receiving recognition for their work. Recent accolades have also been given to the Town’s Economic and Community Development Director, Michael Harrington, who was named a 2013 Vermont Rising Star, Vermont’s top 40 individuals under the age of 40. In addition, the Town’s Fire Chief Steven Crawford was recognized as Vermont Fire Chief of the year, and Chief of Police, Paul Doucette, was honored in 2012 as National Law Enforcement Official of the Year by the American Legion.