News Briefs
October 16, 2015

News Briefs: Lakes Region

Dam removal urged

Claiming that most of the 200 dams in Vermont that do not appear to have a current use are thus “deadbeats,” the Nature Conservancy of Vermont plans to urge their removal after first developing a data-rich map ranking and prioritizing the dams that most inhibit fish and other aquatic species’ reproduction. Officials estimate Vermont’s rivers and streams to be impeded by some 1,200 or more dams, but only 80 are functioning as flood control or hydropower. Some 200 are crumbling, reducing fish habitat and human recreational space.

New Castleton bar?

Rumors are rolling across the Castleton campus that the university is backing a liquor bar, planned either on Elm Street or next to The Bakery on Main Street. Proponents say it would diminish drinking and driving among the students. The nearest pub to the campus is currently in the Fishtail Tavern at Lake Bomoseen, a 10-minute drive from the school. Donald Billings, owner of Roots Restaurant and The Bakery in Rutland as well as The Bakery II in Castleton, is rumored to be the man behind the pub-to-be.

Dope? Not in our town, say municipal leaders

A report to the Vermont League of Cities and Towns has that organization considering a policy in opposition to further decriminalizing marijuana. The report, from the Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area on the impact of legalizing marijuana in Colorado, shows more negative results than positive. Crime in the Rockies has increased, while the tax revenue expected from legalization has been insubstantial, the report shows.

VLCT board members who have examined the report, including Rutland City mayor Chris Louras, who is head of the organization’s public safety committee, have all drawn similar conclusions.

The VLCT board had opposed legalization last year too. This year’s Town Fair, held at Killington’s Grand Hotel, left in the segment of the organization’s policy statement that opposes legalization, after a lively debate. It adds the sentence: “In any discussion of legalization of marijuana, the Legislature should identify the effects on cities, towns and villages to include impacts on local school populations, municipal police, first responders, municipal ordinances and municipal budgets.”

While the policy on marijuana drew the most vocal debate, an updated policy on commercial vehicle permitting and another on increasing the gas tax caused discussion.

Benson selectwoman Sue Janssen, a member of the VLCT board of directors, voiced the statewide group’s intention to find other infrastructure improvement/municipal stormwater obligation funding sources than raising the gas tax. A member of the transportation policy committee said a gas tax increase can help deal with necessary road infrastructure improvements that would come with municipal stormwater obligations. Representatives from rural towns voiced their concern about raising the gas tax, noting that the recent gas price reduction has given residents a “huge reprieve.”

Janssen said the committee’s concern was to find other funding sources for the projects that weren’t property tax increases. Rural communities in which residents must drive farther to reach goods and services, let alone to participate in community government, are put at a disadvantage. However, the VLCT did approve the policy section advising a gas tax increase to “take advantage of the low price of gas and apply the increase in revenues to meeting municipal stormwater obligations.”

Congratulations

to Orwell School seventh- and eighth-graders on winning the Addison-Rutland School District spelling see.

to the town of Middletown Springs on the award of a $38,500 grant for studying possible trail design on the Poultney River Walk.

Thank you

to Eula Goodyear Bannister for donating her Castleton historical records and documents collection to the Castleton University archives. The clippings, letters, pictures, postcards, transcripts, and student papers date back to as early as 1787.

to MaryAnn Jakubowski, secretary to the Castleton Town tax department, for 38 years of service. She plans to retire Oct. 31.

to Castleton University students who took part in cleaning up at Camp Kehoe, Lake Bomoseen, Dewey Field, Castleton Free Library, Castleton Community Center and the float bridge. This is part of a new initiative for more mutual support between the town and the school.

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