By Lani Duke
Bridge closure forces detour
WEST HAVEN—The Gardner bridge on Main Road across the Hubbardton River will close for maintenance Monday, Aug. 1, through Wednesday, Aug. 10. The closure will force travelers going toward West Haven on Route 22A to detour through Benson Village on Stage Road.
Town office bids too high
CASTLETON—All eight bids submitted to build Castleton’s new town office building bore too high a price tag, so the project committee asked the two lowest bidders to refigure their bids, removing some items the committee felt are optional. McClure Construction submitted a bit of $758,352.82 and Upland Construction, $734,900.
The Select Board had committed to spending no more than $903,000 altogether. Of that, $100,000 is already spent to buy the land and nearly $100,000 is committed to permit fees, architect costs, and a contingency fund.
There is debate, though, on whether the Board is justified in the $903,000 figure. According to Selectman Richard Combs, the voters only approved use of a surplus plus monies arising from selling town lands. The town also had permission from the voters to borrow up to $650,000 for the project.
Voters approved the construction on Town Meeting Day. Approval was fairly substantial, 686-478. An even larger percentage, 762-396, approved using a surplus of more than $56,000, for the project.
The official estimated cost was $803,544, with $688,400 for construction, and the rest for services and fees. The town purchased the new building’s 3.3-acre site on Route 30, adjoining the town’s newly constructed fire station, for $100,000 in early April.
Chief Mantello requests new police vehicle
CASTLETON—Castleton Police Chief Peter Mantello presented the Select Board with a list of vehicles that meet the town’s needs for a new law enforcement vehicle at its June 30 meeting. He recorded a Ford Explorer at $25,347, a Dodge Charger at $26,314, and a Chevy Tahoe at $32,755, all without the kind of optional equipment that was installed on the law enforcement SUV the town most recently purchased.
Without grant funding and with factory-installed options, the Ford would cost $35,360. The most expensive option is the radio, at $6,000; other additions include a rifle rack and prisoner cage, center console for the radio, siren and lights modules, and computer mount. About $8,000 in grant money is available for the purchase.
Currently, the Castleton police department owns a 2011 Impala, a 2013 Taurus, and a 2015 Explorer. The Impala’s odometer reads 146,000, and the Taurus’s, 107,000. Chief Mantello observed warranties cover three years or 36,000 miles, which both older vehicles have long exceeded.
Chief Mantello explained the need for an additional car, saying that Castleton takes part in several programs including state parks, highway safety and DWI grant programs, and 30 hours of officer training per year. Two officers are on duty during the weekends and under the substance abuse prevention program of the Rutland Area Prevention Coalition at Castleton University.
Town Manager Mark Shea responded to Selectman Richard Combs’ query about the balance in the police fund, saying there is about $36,000 in the fund, without considering revenues expected to be added this year and next year’s addition of $10,000 in the reserve fund. The Select Board members voted to assign $35,000 from the town’s general fund to buy a police vehicle and approved a purchase order for it.
“Safety is no accident”
FAIR HAVEN—Fair Haven Department of Public Works Superintendent Walter Panoushek spent two days in Rutland Regional Medical Center after being injured on the job July 6 and may not return to work until August. Town employee Nathan Sexton missed two days of work due to injuries incurred in the same accident.
The two men had been working in a trench to repair a water line leak and were reburying the water line using hand shovels; the workers became injured when a section of pavement broke away from the roadway. The pavement hit Panoushek in the chest; it knocked him unconscious and pinned him against the side and bottom of the trench, partially burying him, according to the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration (VOSHA) report that Town Manager Herb Durfee III wrote.
Sexton was knocked down and partially buried as well, but he was able to work his way free. He had to enlist help from fellow town employee Aaron Kerber and use a backhoe to move the pavement off Panoushek.
The town’s trench guard was not in use July 6 because the town lacks equipment capable of lifting it, but neither is the trench guard wide enough, Durfee said. “Loss of life could have been a result,” Durfee admitted in the VOSHA report.
During a July 12 special meeting to address the accident, Durfee told the Select Board that the town needed to investigate the root cause for the incident and file its conclusion by July 15.