Vermonter of the Month: Jimmy Cochran

This is a monthly series in which the Attorney General will feature a Vermonter doing exemplary work in their community. Have someone you think should be featured? Email AGO.CAP@vermont.gov.

Born in Burlington, Jimmy Cochran is the son of Bob Cochran, one of the “Skiing Cochrans” family of Richmond. Jimmy was on the U.S. Ski team from 2005-2009. He represented the U.S. in the Winter Olympics in 2006 and 2010, and in the World Championships in 2005, 2007, and 2009. Jimmy is now at the helm of Cochran’s, the nation’s first IRS 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt ski area, as general manager.

Cochran’s ski area was started by Mickey and Ginny Cochran in 1961 in the backyard of their property in Richmond. It hosts weekly races and training for eight local high schools, shares the hill with 800 kids from elementary school programs, facilitates races and training for the next generation of Olympic hopefuls in the Cochran Ski Club, and provides an approachable and accessible place for youngsters to learn to ski. As it says on their website, “No child will be denied the opportunity to ski or ride.”

What sets Cochran’s apart from other ski areas? What is the mission?

Cochran’s is unique as a non-profit ski area. Our mission is to provide affordable skiing and race training to local kids and families. This means that Cochran’s is directly supported by the community we serve. Pretty much everyone that skis or snowboards here has in some way given time or money. In this way we are really more of a co-op.

Many wonderful people have found little (and big) ways over the last 57 years to make this ski area go. My favorite thing about this place is how many different people are willing to get emotionally invested. Every day people show up look around, create and act on a vision that could be something like improving hiking and mountain bike trails, making snow, teaching kids to ski, fixing equipment, helping to run races, or making dinner for our Friday community ski night.

This support even comes from the bigger ski areas. They recognize that by helping Cochran’s introduce new folks to the sport, many of those families will graduate to a bigger mountain in a season or two. When we need a part for a broken snow-cat or a snowmaking pump dies (knock on wood), we have a huge network to call on.

The community impact primarily consists of kids and families being given the opportunity to be included in a predominantly exclusive sport.

What goes into a “Friday Community Ski Night”? 

“Friday Night Lights” is our community ski night. $5 ticket, $12 dinner (kids $6), a dual slalom course and laps on the famously fast rope-tow. Dinner is made by a volunteer family/s. I’m always amazed at the culinary alchemy that occurs in our little snack bar.

How many kids/families have skied at Cochran’s for low or no cost? 

Effectively everyone that skis at Cochran’s is skiing at low cost. 1/3rd of our yearly operating budget comes from donations and ALL capital improvements have been paid for with fundraising dollars. We also aim each year to provide at least 10% of passes, tickets, lessons, training fees to be free for deserving families.

What advice do you have for others looking to impact their community?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, recognize that there is a ton of background work required for a volunteer to be productive, let things develop, change, and be imperfect as the situation merits, and most importantly… say thank-you thank-you thank-you thank-you thank-you.

Vermonter of the Month: Tim Mathewson

This is a monthly series in which the Attorney General will feature a Vermonter doing exemplary work in their community. Have someone you think should be featured? Email AGO.CAP@vermont.gov.

Tim has been running Little City Cycles in Vergennes since 2009. Two years ago, he started Green Mountain Foster Bikes with Tanya Bashaw to help save bikes and give the recycled bikes to kids in need.

After getting a technical degree in auto diesel in Florida, Tim decided to stay working with bikes. After having a bicycle shop in Tampa, he moved back to Vermont in the 80s.
While in Burlington he worked at several shops as a mechanic, service manager, bike buyer and parts buyer.

Tim also had a shop in Shelburne, as well as helped with the Chicago Bike Company.
He helped get Bike Recycle Vermont going with Ron Manganiello, and worked with Robert Coles on an all-terrain wheel chair for a non-profit in India.

Why bikes?

When I was 12 years old, I started fixing and racing bicycles. This led to a passionate career over the next 45 years in every area of the bike industry. I am a rider myself and use my bike for most of my transportation. All of this has helped me realize how magical the bicycle is in the way that it can transform lives and communities. I can’t solve the problems I see in the world, but I can help one bike at a time. When people feel better, they tend to be nicer and make better decisions for themselves and the people around them. People always feel better when they ride a bike.

How many bicycles have you given away through your various community projects?

I have always given away bicycles here and there over the years. This included fixing kids’ bikes up for Christmas for Toys for Tots every year. Total bikes was 32. The first real venture was Bike Recycle Vermont. I believe to date they have put close to 3000 bikes out there helping people get around. Green Mountain Foster Bikes has given away 35 bikes with helmets and will hit 100 by next year.

What impact has this had on your Vermont community? What have you learned?

While it’s hard to say exactly, I do know that the more bikes that there are the more issues around bikes and cars and general traffic patterns arise and those issues get resolved, making it better for everyone. I have had a lot of smiles and a lot of happy people because they can get around on a bike they might not otherwise have.

If people are happy because they have a bike, will it impact their community? I believe so, but I don’t know how to measure it. The biggest thing I have learned is how generous the community is in support. So much help from so many people, all you have to do is ask.

What advice do you have for others looking to impact their community?

Be clear on what to want to do. The more you map this out the easier it will be to make it happen. Asking yourself why you want to do something often helps. Remember that if there is a problem, there isn’t something to fix, there is something to learn.

Vermonter of the Month: Mohamed Basha

This is a monthly series in which the Attorney General will feature a Vermonter doing exemplary work in their community. Have someone you think should be featured? Email AGO.CAP@vermont.gov.

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Mohamed Basha is the President, CEO and IT Person of TLC Homecare & Nursing. After moving from Chennai, India as a young child, he lived in New York City and New Orleans for a year. He finally settled in Vermont, where he grew up in Burlington.

Mohamed founded TLC in 2006 because he saw a need for a homecare provider who took a holistic approach in providing care and there was no other organization that offered supportive staffing services to local healthcare providers.

After numerous side jobs (such as working in the IT department of two small businesses, driving a taxi on weekends, and waiting/catering during the summer) Mohamed decided to pursue a Nursing Degree from Castleton State College. He also holds a B.A. in Health Science from Castleton and an Associate Degree in Liberal Studies from Community College of Vermont.

When Mohamed is not hard at work running TLC, he can be found spending time with his wife, Allyson, and two children, Nina and Zane. He also enjoys long walks in the summer and riding his motorcycle while enjoying the beauty that Vermont has to offer. He graciously took the time from his busy schedule to answer a few of our questions:

What inspires your work with TLC?

After graduating from nursing school, and working in various healthcare setting, I saw a dire need for home care providers to help seniors age in place.  I further saw a need for flexible staffing providers to help healthcare facilities staff their needs without burning out their own staff.


What impact has TLC had on your community? 

Currently we serve over 200 older adults throughout Vermont and in Upper Valley area.  Out of which, and I am proud to say this, we serve over 70 Veterans in this region.  Furthermore, we are quite active nationally and locally in helping the causes that affect majority of our seniors.  For over four years, we have sent TLC staff to Washington DC and Montpelier to advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association and raise awareness of its impact in our community.  We help raise money, through Golfing 4 Life and other activities, for Cancer Patient Support Services.  We assist with delivering Meals on Wheels at least once a month.  We also partake in various walks, runs, and fundraising events to give back to our community.

What have you learned from your work at TLC?

No two days are ever alike.  Every day brings a set of new challenges and I am always learning something new each day from my staff and the people that we serve.  Nevertheless, it is the stories from seniors who survived the Great Depression and World War II that comes to mind whenever I am asked this question.  Their ability to face adversity and overcome severe obstacles serves as a reminder that we can achieve anything we want if we are persistent and willing to work hard.

What advice do you have for others looking to impact their community?

Giving back to the community can be as little as picking up the trash around your neighborhood to spending countless hours volunteering for other organizations.  However, it is the intention and the willingness to want something better for others is what counts at the end of the day.  So do not be afraid to do even a small part, they all add up to making a bigger impact in our community.

Announcing Vermonter of the Month: Sarah Waring

This is the first of a monthly series in which the Attorney General will feature a Vermonter doing exemplary work in their community. Have someone you think should be featured? Email AGO.CAP@vermont.gov.

Sarah Waring serves as the Executive Director of the Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE) building a regenerative, locally based, healthy food system in the NEK and beyond.

Sarah was born and raised in Glover, VT, but spent a decade outside of the state, working in the Rocky Mountains and in Washington DC. Her background includes community development, federal land use planning and management, conservation, outdoor education and non-profit work.

Since coming to the Center for an Agricultural Economy in 2013, she has worked with the Board and staff there to increase the viability of the VT Food Venture Center (VFVC), a shared-use food business incubator and food hub, designed to support entrepreneurs and farmers with industrial kitchens, storage, and technical assistance. She graciously took the time from her busy schedule to answer a few of our questions:

What inspires your work with CAE and VFVC?
First and foremost, I get to work with visionary people, who are also grounded, intelligent and hardworking. That’s motivation to do my own best work. Whether its our staff and volunteers, the farmers who are stewarding the land, or the entrepreneurs who are growing their businesses, we have wonderful people around us. But then secondly, our mission is critical to our region – because we need to build a place-based economy, with local ownership. Its also critical to the globe – because our food system is broken. We can make changes to global trends, like hunger, global warming and more, by starting locally to fix our food system. So that’s the urgency behind the work we do!

What impact has VFVC had on your community?
In the past few years, the VFVC has developed Farm and Food Business Services; working with 18-20 farmers and 12-15 food businesses each year to deep dive into operational viability. The team has also begun the state’s only Farm to Institution processing program – purchasing local farm products from small and medium scale farmers to process and selling to colleges, hospitals and schools. In three years, the sales of locally grown and processed vegetables through the VFVC has grown by 230%.
What have you learned from your work at CAE?
I’ve learned more about food safety than I ever knew before! But really, I do get to work with folks who have deep knowledge of the land, the plants or animals they take care of, or the business model and the food product they are creating. As far as the work we do to support these folks, I’ve been lucky to re-learn that we can’t do this larger food system work alone. All things that are most worthwhile will take partnership, and our organization and team works hard to build trust with our partners.
What advice do you have for others looking to impact their community?
I think the best thing I can say is this – look at the assets and gaps in your own region. Take your time to do your homework on what efforts already exist, and make sure you practice collaboration – because goals and activities go further with many hands being involved! We can create positive impacts on our own, but we can create them even faster with others.

Identity Theft and Information on the Equifax Data Security Breach

What can I do, right now, to protect my information?

To check if you were personally affected by the breach, you may visit Equifax’s website: www.equifaxsecurity2017.com.

To place a fraud alert or freeze on your credit files, visit the credit reporting agencies’ websites linked below or call:

EQUIFAX or 866-349-5191, select option 3 for the automated system or option 5 for a representative
EXPERIAN or 1-888-397-3742, select option 2
TRANSUNION or 1-888-909-8872, enter your ZIP code when prompted, then selected option 3
INNOVIS or 1-800-540-2505

The best way to know that no one is using your personal information is to monitor your credit. We are recommending that Vermonters review their credit reports now, and regularly, to make sure that no unauthorized accounts are being reported. You can get a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies annually, online, at www.annualcreditreport.com, or you can mail in a form.

Concerned about protecting your minor children from identity theft? The Federal Trade Commission has excellent resources on child credit protection.

Additionally, you may want to consider placing a security freeze on your credit reports. This is the most effective step you can take to block unauthorized use of your personal information. However, it does carry some costs and can create some minor difficulty if you need get a loan, credit card or other credit account. A security freeze does not affect your ability to use accounts that you have now. Find out more about freezing your credit files below and from the Federal Trade Commission.

Who is Equifax? Why should I be concerned?

Equifax is a consumer credit reporting agency. Equifax gathers and provides credit information based on an individual’s borrowing and bill-paying habits.

Equifax suffered a major data security breach on July 29, 2017. Over 240,000 Vermonters were potentially impacted and are vulnerable to identity theft. The information stolen includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. In addition, credit card numbers and certain dispute documents with personal information were accessed. Equifax will be sending letters to all affected consumers.

As of September 10th, we can assure Vermonters of the following:

  1. No waiver terms or binding arbitration will be imposed on consumers who go to the Equifax website to learn if they are affected.
  2. No waiver terms or binding arbitration will be imposed on consumers who enroll in the one year of free identity theft protection and credit file monitoring (“TrustedID”) being offered as a result of this breach.
  3. No waiver terms or binding arbitration will be imposed on consumers who request a credit report freeze as a result of this breach.
  4. Equifax also provides an “opt out” of the standard waiver or binding arbitration clause related to its terms of use for other products and services beyond items 1-3 above. Consumers may do so by writing within 30 days to: Equifax Consumer Services LLC, Attn.: Arbitration Opt-Out, P.O. Box 105496, Atlanta, GA 30348. Be sure to include your name, address, and Equifax User ID, as well as a clear statement that you do not wish to resolve disputes with Equifax through arbitration.

You can contact the Attorney General’s office at 800-649-2424 or AGO.CAP@vermont.gov with further questions.

What is identity theft?

A breach does not necessarily mean you are a victim of identity theft. A breach means you are now susceptible to identity theft.

Identity theft is the unauthorized use of another person’s personal information to obtain credit, goods, services, money or property (for more information on Vermont laws regarding privacy and data security, click here).

Identity theft may involve fraudulent use of credit card or bank account information.  In some cases, your social security number and other personal information may be used to fraudulently obtain driver’s licenses, lines of credit, loans or other consumer accounts.

I think I am a victim of identity theft. What steps should I take?

  • Review your credit reports carefully for any unauthorized accounts. You can obtain your free credit report from each of the Credit Reporting Bureaus through AnnualCreditReport.com.  If you find anything that should not be there, be sure to save a copy of the report.  Then, contact the credit reporting agency to dispute all inaccurate items.
  • Place a fraud alert or consider a freeze on your credit reports. Freezing your credit report could help prevent unauthorized creation of new accounts using your information. Freezing your credit report does not mean freezing your bank account, or that you won’t be able to use your credit card. You can find out more information from the Federal Trade Commission about fraud alerts and freezing your credit files.
  • To place a fraud alert or freeze on your credit files, contact the credit reporting agencies listed here:

EQUIFAX or 866-349-5191, press option 3 for the automated system or option 5 for a representative
EXPERIAN or 1-888-397-3742
TRANSUNION or 1-800-680-7289
INNOVIS or 1-800-540-2505

        You’ll need to supply your name, address, date of birth, Social Security number               and other personal information. Fees vary based on where you live, but commonly         range from $5 to $10 to place a freeze.

        After receiving your freeze request, each credit reporting company will send you a           confirmation letter containing a unique PIN (personal identification number) or                 password. Keep the PIN or password in a safe place. You will need it if you choose         to lift the freeze.

  • Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.
  • File an “identity theft” police report and ask for a copy for your records. Find your local police agency.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Write down the name of anyone you talk to, what s/he told you, and the date of the conversation.
  • Follow-up in writing with all contacts you’ve made about the ID theft on the phone or in person. Use certified mail, return receipt requested, for all correspondence regarding the theft.
  • Keep copies of all correspondence or forms relating to the ID theft.
  • Keep the originals of supporting documentation, like police reports and letters to and from creditors; send copies only.
  • Keep old files even if you believe the problem is resolved.

I still have questions, where can I find out more?

Find out more about identity theft by visiting the Federal Trade Commission. You can also contact us at 800-649-2424 or AGO.CAP@vermont.gov.