By Lani Duke
On the ballot
Rutland City voters will see an added pair of bonds on their March 1 ballot. The Aldermen had already approved a $2.5 million bond to replace White Pool and a $19 million budget. One of the added bonds is for an equalization tank to stabilize water pressure and increase fire protection west of Otter Creek; the bond amount is set at $1.7 million. The second bond request is for $1.3 million to replace more than a mile of water mains that have carried the city’s water for more than a century.
Rutland City Mayor Christopher Louras said he objects to the language of the Combination Pond referendum scheduled to appear on the March 1 ballot. It could give a “false assurance” there would be no changes to the pond. The state has claimed that the pond warms the water in Moon Brook, turning the stream into an impaired waterway in which fish do not thrive. If the dam that creates the pond—and the pond—were removed, the state would be mollified as to Moon Brook water quality, and a potential liability would also be mitigated. Without removing the dam,Vermont’s environmental quality department could require stormwater retention facilities on properties in the south end of town. Developer Joe Giancola believes other solutions such as riparian plantings may bring down Moon Brook’s water temperature without draining the pond.
Rutland City voters will choose five full-term aldermen from eight candidates on Town Meeting Day. Four are incumbents: David Allaire, Gary Donahue, Sharon Davis, and William Notte. Alderman Chris Siliski decided not to run for re-election. Dan White, Jim Riley, Kam Johnston, and Scott Tommola are the challengers, at least one of whom will be elected. There is a sixth race for Rutland City Alderman, to fill the second year of Jon Skates’ term, left vacant from his resignation. In the running are George Gides, Jr., Kam Johnston, and Vanessa Robertson. Johnston is in the running for a third position as well. He runs against incumbents Daniel Alcorn, Erin Shemp, Hurley Cavacas, Jr. and Robert Kurchena.
To fluoridate or not to fluoridate? Retired Rutland dentist Edward Reiman recently announced he is taking a stand against removing fluoride from the city’s water supply, saying that fluoride fears are ungrounded. His 55 years of practice in Rutland, 1949 to 2004, give him credibility. Fluoridation changed his practice, he said. Before fluoride treatments, three-fourths of his practice consisted of tooth-decay-driven “fillings, restorations and extractions.” After fluoridation, his practice changed; most young people needed no fillings. He challenged individuals to find Vermont illnesses or deaths caused by fluoride addition to their water. Sources for that information may be the state health department, a local hospital, a doctor, or an undertaker.
Montuori at Muckenschnabel’s
Big Lenny has taken up winter residence in Muckenschnabel’s pub, serving lunch five days a week in the refurbished bar on Madison Street. New “Muck” owners Chris “Boo” Bourque and Tim Puro upgraded the neighborhood bar over the summer, and describe bringing Lenny Montuori’s popular food business inside for the winter as a mutually beneficial arrangement growing out of a long-term friendship. Serving hours for the hot dog man are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with some exceptions. Montuori is considering being open Super Bowl Sunday, February 7.
Publishers Weekly recently announced that Phoenix Books is one of five finalists in its Bookstore of the Year award. The winner will be announced during the May BookExpo America, held in Chicago. Other contenders for the award are Books Inc. of San Francisco, Brazos Bookstore of Houston, Greenlight Bookstore of Brooklyn, and Village Books of Bellingham, Wash. Co-owner Mike DeSanto opened the oldest member of the regional “chain” in Essex in 2007, the second in Burlington in 2012. The Rutland store opened in September 2015. Rutland-area book lovers and businesses may commit to buy books using something akin to a Community Supported Agriculture farm share arrangement. Sales at the store have exceeded DeSanto’s expectations.
However, appreciation for the printed word does not reach all segments of the Rutland community. Two of the three Little Free Libraries erected by the Purple Angel Foundation, a tribute to Carly Ferro, have been vandalized. The Meadow Street LFL has had its door ripped off twice. The Depot Park LFL had its sign taken and the books taken without replacement. Organizers have been restocking those shelves in hopes that the removed books were somewhere being enjoyed by children. Most recently, the freshly restocked library itself disappeared.
Solar energy strip proposed . . . again
Minneapolis-based renewable energy company Ecos Energy has filed for permits to build two solar sites on 50 acres beside Cold River Road. Together, they would produce 7.1 megawatts of electricity. Construction cost would total $12-$17 million, pumping an estimated $50,000 annual property taxes back into the community. The company filed its 45-day notice with the state Public Service Board in January. The Ecos sites are adjacent to the 2.2-megawatt groSolar development at the intersection of Cold River Road and Stratton Road, which brought Rutland Town’s Select Board before the Vermont Supreme Court to contest its permit. If both the Ecos and groSolar projects were built, the trees along Cold River Road would be clear-cut, to be replaced by 2,900 nearly continuous feet of solar panels, according to Town Administrator Joe Zingale. The only break in the strip of solar would be for a 246-foot residential lot between two of the parcels. Ecos project manager Brad Wilson believes he can successfully assuage town officials’ and nearby residents’ concerns with a 100-foot wide buffer to block view of the panels. He hopes to begin construction in spring 2017 if permit applications are quickly successful.
CLARENDON—In Clarendon, Marjorie White Southard is entered in two races, against the incumbent Rick Wilbur running for re-election, and against Daniel Pinkowski to fill the seat vacated by Robert Bixby, who decided not to run again.
IRA—incumbent Selectman Mark Fitzgerald faces challenger Robert Toppin for the remaining two years in a three-year Select Board seat. Fitzgerald had been appointed to the position when John Capen resigned last spring.
NORTH CLARENDON—Garvey Nissan, now on U.S. Route 7 north of Rutland City, recently applied to build a new automobile dealership, including a new one-story building, in North Clarendon. The January 7 application and intended move are prompted by a desire to relocate closer to other new car dealerships on Route 7 south of the city.
Sean and Marc Garvey filed to build a 240-parking-space, 15,000 square-foot sales and service building on 16.5 acres at the border of Rutland Town and North Clarendon with a $2 million-plus price tag. The existing house on the property is to be demolished. Clarendon’s Select Board has already given its unanimous approval, opining in a letter to the District 1 Environmental Commission that the dealership would fit in with other industrial and commercial properties nearby. The Clarendon Planning Commission has also given unanimous approval. Planning to employ as many as 20, the dealership would bring both additional property tax revenue to Clarendon as well as sales tax revenue to Vermont.
NORTH CLARENDON—This year’s relatively warm winter has been a blessing to many, helping many Vermonters to control their heating budgets. Wood pellet orders have slowed by 25 percent below the usual. Vermont Wood Pellet CEO Chris Brooks has laid off 14 of the company’s 17 employees with plans to use the time to retool manufacturing equipment while keeping the company’s retail operation open.
CLARENDON—No charges will be filed against Mill River Union High principal Andy Pomeroy, State’s Attorney Rose Kennedy announced Thursday, Jan. 28. The Rutland South Supervisory Union administration had put Pomeroy on paid administrative leave over “a specific concern” on January 15. His attorney, Brian Marsicovetere, said that his client does not know what the charges are and has not been questioned by the state police. However, Pomeroy remains on leave while an internal review continues. While Pomeroy is on leave, Shrewsbury Mountain School Principal Deb Fishwick is acting as principal at Mill River, working with Assistant Principal Tyler Weideman and the MRUHS staff. RSSU Director of Technology Brian Hill is leading the Shrewsbury school in the meantime.
More than 330 volunteers donated their time and energy to help pack 50,000 nutritious meals during the January 16 Rutland Meals Challenge, a ministry of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. Their efforts helped provide a week of dinners for every hungry person in Rutland County and brought the organization’s four-year total to 125,000 meals, said Donna Lutz, project manager. Good Shepherd and Rutland both hold the Northern New England record for number of meals packaged in one day.