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Outright Vermont finalizes purchase of former Benson scout camp

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Outright Vermont finalizes purchase of former Benson scout camp


BENSON, Vt. (WCAX) – Outright Vermont has officially acquired a former Boy Scout property in Benson known as Camp Sunrise.

The purchase will allow the organization to expand Camp Outright, an overnight summer camp tailored to LGBTQ+ and allied youth.

Talks to purchase the camp began in December and were made possible with the help of a grant from the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board.

Officials say they will need to make some design changes before they can open.

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Vermont

Rodgers to run for Vermont lieutenant governor

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Rodgers to run for Vermont lieutenant governor


MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) – Former Vermont senator John Rodgers says he plans to run for lieutenant governor.

Rodgers represented the Essex-Orleans district from 2013 until he stepped away from the Statehouse in 2021.

He served for years as a Democrat but now says he plans to run on the Republican ticket.

Rodgers was part of a coalition of protesters who took over the Statehouse last month arguing that urban communities are trampling over the interest of rural Vermonters.

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So far, Rodgers would face a primary challenge from Rutland’s Gregory Thayer.



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VTSU celebrates first graduation

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VTSU celebrates first graduation


BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – Students at Vermont’s newest college got their time in the spotlight.

Vermont State University’s first commencement saw almost 1,000 students graduate.

The university, which is a unification of Castleton University, Northern Vermont University, and Vermont Technical College included graduates from 200 Vermont towns.

They also say students graduated across 96 majors, including around 600 students who graduated from medical programs.

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Former Vermont Teddy Bear Clothing Companies Are Leaving Vermont

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Former Vermont Teddy Bear Clothing Companies Are Leaving Vermont


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  • Anne Wallace Allen ©️ Seven Days
  • Vermont Teddy Bear headquarters in Shelburne

The owner of the three clothing companies once owned by Vermont Teddy Bear is closing its Shelburne distribution center, putting 29 people out of work by June 5. But the stuffed-toy maker is staying put at its Shelburne location, officials emphasized Wednesday.

“We’re still here,” Katie Langrock, senior vice president of operations for Vermont Teddy Bear, said in an interview Wednesday. “You can continue to have the tours and make the bears.”  The complex, which is where most of the bears are manufactured, is a popular tourist destination and features a “hospital” where visitors can watch the bears being repaired.

Langrock said her job is to separate the companies after Vermont Teddy Bear’s stuffed animal operation was purchased by USA Brands of Indianapolis, Ind., the owner of Vermont Flannel.

Vermont Teddy Bear was created in 1981 when creator John Sortino started selling his hand-made bears from a cart on Church Street in Burlington. The pricey bears and other stuffed animals are still made mostly in Vermont and are guaranteed for life.

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Vermont Teddy Bear’s owner, the New York City-based Lionel Capital, sold the company April 4 to Ohio-based USA Brands. An affiliate of Lionel Capital , PJ Acquisitions, now owns the three clothing companies, called Pajamagram, Pajamajeans and The 1 For U.  Those clothes are made overseas and are distributed from a large warehouse next to Vermont Teddy Bear’s complex on Shelburne Road, Langrock said.

PJ Acquisitions said last week that it was unable to reach agreement on terms for a new lease at that warehouse, and announced the impending layoffs to the Vermont Department of Labor. It’s moving the distribution functions out of state, Langrock said.

Vermont Flannel Has a New Operator
A worker sewing clothing at Vermont Flannel

Vermont Flannel Has a New Operator

By Anne Wallace Allen

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Vermont Teddy Bear described the move in a letter last week to Matthew Lawless, the Shelburne town manager, saying the lease negotiations prevented PJ Acquisitions from giving employees more notice. The layoffs are scheduled to happen between Thursday and June 5, the company said.

Lawless said he had been working closely with the Vermont Department of Labor, which will provide job training and other services to the affected workers.

“Twenty-nine jobs is no small number for us here in this community,” Lawless said Wednesday. “I want to be the best neighbor I can in helping displaced workers. I made sure everyone was aware of the Shelburne food pantry, which has bus passes and lots of other good things.”

Lawless said he thinks the owner of the warehouse will find another tenant quickly.

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“There aren’t a lot of buildings like this in the Shelburne or the Burlington region,” he said.

Vermont Flannel and Vermont Teddy Bear employ 70 people in Vermont, CEO Joe Van Deman said in April. Deman’s company, USA Brands, bought Vermont Flannel from its Vermont owners in 2022. Van Deman said Vermont Flannel has six stores in Vermont and two in Maine, and plans to open another in Waterbury this month.

He and Matt Bigelow, the Ohio-based CEO of Vermont Teddy Bear, have been busy dispelling concerns about the future of the teddy bear maker. Bigelow noted Vermont Teddy Bear held a well-attended event on April 8, the day of the solar eclipse.

“With the success of the eclipse event, we’ll probably be looking at the possibility of doing more events and getting more people to campus,,” Bigelow said.



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