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Vernon uses nip bottle funds to provide work for those with disabilities

Journal Inquirer - 7/25/2022

Jul. 25—VERNON — The town is using funds received from the state's tax on alcohol nip bottles in order to provide opportunities for people with disabilities, officials announced.

Under the legislation, a five-cent surcharge was added to the sale of liquor bottles under 50 milliliters, with the municipalities where the bottles were sold receiving the funds to help pay for litter clean-up efforts.

The town has thus far received $19,000 through the program, which the state launched last year. To put these funds to use, the town plans to partner with both the nonprofit Opportunity Works Connecticut Inc., as well as Vernon schools Next STEP program, which both provide vocational training for those with disabilities.

Teams from the organizations starts this week to clean up litter at several locations in town, including downtown Rockville and town parks, officials said.

"Using these funds to keep our community beautiful while at the same time providing work for Opportunity Works and Next STEP is a win for everyone," Mayor Dan Champagne said.

Officials from Opportunity Works said their team was excited to start working with the town.

"They are super excited and keep asking me, when do we start, when do we start?" Executive Director and co-founder Rene Lambert said. She said one team member lives in Rockville and was eager to help clean up his community.

Lambert also added that the team is experienced in collecting, sorting, and cashing-in bottles and cans, and raised about $8,000 last year from doing the work at area campgrounds and businesses.

"Everybody wants to make sure our town and environment is clean and beautiful," Lambert said. "This is a great way to achieve that goal."

Vernon Superintendent Joseph Macary said he is pleased that students from the school district's Next STEP program will gain vocational skills while also helping to beautify the town.

"We require all students to do community service and this program is ideal for that," Macary said, adding, "Our students are giving back to our town. They are part of the solution."

Ben covers Vernon and Stafford for the Journal Inquirer.


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