News Briefs
July 10, 2015

News Briefs: Rutland Region

By Lani Duke

Digital maker’s space to open

Watch for the opening of a digital maker’s space on the second floor of the Chaffee Art Center. Soon it will be open to the community, with computers and peripheral devices for creating digital designs and small videos. Also in the not-so-distant future are weatherization of and improvements to the building so that its third floor may be used. The enhancements will include new staircases, a sprinkler system, and an elevator.

In memory of high school

Wallingford High School graduates recently gathered to remember their school, closed now for 40 years. Meeting at the town offices, they planned to “walk down memory lane” together. The school had stood in front of the current elementary school on School Street before being torn down in 1975. Students that would have attended there instead took their classes at Mill River Union school in Clarendon. Those who graduated from the old high school likely did so in the room that hosted the reunion meeting, upstairs in the Wallingford town hall. It served the school as both gymnasium and theatre.

Greening Rutland

A number of the students at the College of St. Joseph have been receiving a practical introduction to not only organic gardening and recycling but also to the entire world of fresh vegetables and foods they formerly rejected automatically as not familiar, leading to a whole new way of viewing their world.

Members of the Grow Eat Compost Organically club have nearly doubled the size of the campus garden recently. It’s been an ongoing process, beginning a year ago when they put manmade resources to work, laying down old carpeting removed from the campus dining hall. The carpet killed grass underneath while attracting earthworms and beneficial bacteria. When the students peeled the carpet back to begin tilling the soil underneath, they saved the carpet for future use. Its job is not done.

Campus chefs and staff utilize the garden’s gifts, putting in their orders with CSJ farm manager Kimberly Griffin in response to her weekly e-mails about what the garden is producing and, in return, helping to pad the garden’s budget. Griffin donates extra food grown in the plot to the Open Door Mission, another beneficiary of the project.

Construction season continues . . . and continues

In response to criticism of the City’s project to separate the sewer system from stormwater drainage on Library Avenue, Public Works Commissioner Jeff Wennberg believes that the newly adjusted design will solve the street’s drainage problems. It calls for rebuilding the sidewalks at their current elevation. Yard drains on both sides of the street will carry runoff directly to the stormwater lines, rather than having it run into the street as it has in the past. Wennberg projects the project as “mostly complete at the end of July” or the first week of August, including all paving and plumbing. The last major piece of work is the intersection of Library Avenue and Grove Street.

Long harsh winter cited as cause of delays

Construction between Dorr Drive Bridge and Ripley Road Bridge began in January, necessitating road closure with an anticipated road opening on June 30. That did not happen.

Not only did Vermont experience one of the coldest winters on record, but, according to Natalie Boyle, project spokesperson, “very dense compacted gravel on the outer bank of the Otter Creek” has required the use of specialized equipment to drive in the shafts necessary to the project. Excessive rainfall also caused delays because it brought up water levels enough to make the site unsafe to work. Now the contractor is putting in long work days and weekend hours to edge closer to the planned schedule.

Public defender denied in hit-and-run case

Judge Theresa DiMauro recently denied Christopher Sullivan’s request for a public defender in his pending sentencing hearing, citing the length of time that Sullivan has been represented by private counsel, the number and nature of the proceedings, the defense attorney’s familiarity with the case and the “fact that all that remains is the sentencing hearing.” Sullivan’s attorney, Barry Griffith, had filed a petition in June, asking to be allowed to withdraw as defense counsel because Sullivan had no income or ability to pay for an attorney after his March conviction for the hit-and-run death of a pedestrian in downtown Rutland in April 2013. Sullivan now awaits sentencing, having been found guilty by a jury of driving drunk during a fatal accident and leaving the scene of a fatal accident. Each offense carries a sentence of 1-15 years.

Transitional house for women is one step closer

The Vermont Achievement Center (VAC) came another step closer to developing a transitional house for formerly incarcerated women on North Main St. with approval from the Rutland City Development Review Board. However, the project is still not assured. Other questions yet remain unanswered. The next step is a meeting with the Department of Corrections.

It would become the primary residence for women who are learning to live outside jail bars. In its written decision, the review board stated that the new use for the historic structure would not affect the character of the area, nor traffic, renewable energy resources, or the capacity of existing or planned community facilities. The decision also contains a number of rules for house residents. The house must acquire all necessary municipal and state permits before construction, and because of its historical character, there can be no structural changes on the building’s exterior. Owned by the Rutland Missionary Association, the Victorian-style house was originally a residence for widows of Civil War veterans.

Thank you

to all who donated to the recent food drive at the Paramount Theatre, to Bonnie O’Rourke of Green Mountain Power who coordinated the items’ distribution, to the local companies that contributed bulk items, and to all those who contributed monetarily as well. Thanks too to the Paramount for opening its doors to host this annual food drive.

to all who worked on bringing the National Railway Historical Society to Rutland for its annual meeting. It brought some 500 railroad enthusiasts to the community to ride the trains and see Vermont from historic cars.

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