Digger tidbits: for donovan, praise, not backing;obuchowski’s name game; law lets 16-year-olds give blood

Name that building What s in a name? As Shakespeare asked the question, a sweet-smelling rose. As the Vermont Legislature asked it, a job for Michael Obuchowski,Vermont commissioner of Buildings and General Services. Two jobs actually. Thanks to Tropical Storm Irene, lawmakers dumped a lot of work onthe department responsible for all the state s buildings: Overseethe construction of a new state hospital in Berlin, the restorationof the state office complex in Waterbury, and the Agency of NaturalResources’ move to new space at National Life in Montpelier,and finish efforts to co-locate a new Department of Health lab witha UVM Colchester research facility. And while you re at it, they said, come up with a name for the newlab, and also for the new 25-bed state hospital planned for Berlinnear the Central Vermont Medical Center.

That job came as a surprise to Obuchowski, a former House Speakerand powerful longtime representative from Windham County who knowsthe ins and outs of the Legislature. I didn t know about this responsibility, but I don t think itwould have kept me from taking the job, he joked Thursday. According to the capital bill, the commissioner shall presentthree potential names for the new health lab by Jan. 15 of nextyear, giving preference to Vermonters who have made significantadvancements in the field of public health. Obuchowski is tasked with the same responsibility for the new statehospital building, giving preference to Vermonters integral tothe advancement of mental health care in the state.

The commissioner said he wasn t aware of any precedent with thesenaming responsibilities but plans to create a couple of committeesstaffed with people long conversant with the fields of health andmental health and ask them to oversee the process and suggestnames. Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen and Mental Health CommissionerPatrick Flood will both be asked to be on the respective panelsalong with other officials and well-known citizens in the twofields, he said. You re going to be doing us a big service by writing aboutthis, he said, saying he s eager to hear suggestions of namesfrom the public. The more the merrier, he said. Semi Trailer Suspension Parts

Anyone with suggestions can callhis office at 828-3519. Where the panels go with this, I don t know, he said. But theLegislature will have the final say after he submits the three namefinalists. ~ Andrew Nemethy Blood donor age lowered An amendment to existing law has lowered the legal age at which ateenager can donate blood without parental permission from 17 to16. Rep. Semi Trailer King Pin

Ann Pugh, chair of the House Human Services committee, saidthe amendment reflected a policy change favored by the Red Cross;38 other states have already made the change. The Red Cross advocated for the change since it will help meet theincreasing need for blood for medical purposes they conduct 75blood drives at high schools around the state each year andestimate an increase of 1,000 pints of blood annually from thelowered age limit and introduce the next generation of blooddonors to this public service at an earlier age. Pugh said the side benefit of increased civic and communityinvolvement by young people had encouraged the passage of thechange, along with testimony from the commissioner of health andthe medical community that showed no health risk related tolowering the age limit. Red Cross policy is still to requireparental permission for donation by a 16-year-old. The change become law upon its passage in April. Semi Trailer Suspension Parts

~ Kate Robinson.

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