Gov. Peter Shumlin today signed into law the "I Am Vermont Strong' license plate bill, authorizing Vermonters to purchase the $25 plate and affix it to the front of their vehicles. Money raised by the sales will go to the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund to help people impacted by Tropical Storm Irene, as well as the Vermont Foodbank.
"Although the Vermont Strong ethic has enabled our state to make huge strides toward recovery following Irene, there is still enormous need remaining," the Governor said. "The "I Am Vermont Strong' plate is a symbol of our commitment -- financial and personal -- to help every family find permanent housing and every Vermonter get back to work."
The Vermont Disaster Relief Fund was created following the spring flooding a year ago. When Irene struck Vermont in August, Gov. Shumlin formalized and established a governing body for the fund, which is chaired by David Coates of Colchester. The fund is the primary vehicle for providing disaster assistance to individuals.
"Helping to rebuild the lives of flood survivors will take millions and millions of dollars. The proceeds from the sale of these Vermont Strong license plates will help us reach our very ambitious goal to raise $10 million by the first anniversary of Irene. Every dollar contributed to the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund goes directly to help flood survivors," said Coates.
At Thursday's bill signing ceremony, Gov. Shumlin bought an I Am Vermont Strong commemorative plate and presented it to the Corliss family of Berlin, who escaped the raging floodwaters by boat and ended up holding on to a tree for survival. Bernie and April Corliss were the first recipients of assistance from the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund. They moved back into their mobile home that they rebuilt using these funds, two weeks before Christmas.
The Governor said the bill signing was an opportunity to celebrate how far Vermont has come in recovering from the devastating storm that left so many families homeless and businesses damaged. He acknowledged the hard work of the media, FEMA, local communities and individuals, utility and road crews, state employees and so many others who rallied for Vermont after the storm hit.
In addition, he stressed that there is still much to be done -- families without permanent housing, businesses struggling to recover, farms facing feed shortages and concerns about damage to fields, and more. He urged Vermonters to purchase the I Am Vermont Strong license plate to help with fundraising to provide individuals and families with needed financial assistance. There are also fundraising options that focus on businesses, farms, individual communities and other targeted groups.
Gov. Shumlin today applauded several businesses and organizations that have stepped forward to help with the I Am Vermont Strong license plate drive:
Jay Peak Resort bought 1,000 plates to sell at the resort, and is challenging other ski areas to participate.
The Vermont Ski Areas Association is providing prizes, including lift tickets and lodging packages, to include in some plate envelopes.
The Vermont Grocers Association and its member stores are working with the Department of Motor Vehicles to sell plates in stores throughout Vermont.
Cabot Cooperative Creamery, with Beth Kennett of Liberty Hill Farm in Rochester, is donating a farm stay at Liberty Hill Farm as a prize.
The Vermont Chamber of Commerce will be contributing prizes, including a $75 gift certificate for maple products, Ben & Jerry's pint coupons, a $50 Dakin Farm gift certificate, a Billings Farm & Museum gift certificate, and more.
Heritage Ford purchased 100 plates to attach to new cars, and has challenged other dealerships to participate.
Gov. Shumlin said he hopes that Vermonters and Vermonters-in-heart (second home owners and tourists who love this state) will buy the plates to show their Vermont spirit.