News Briefs
October 1, 2015

News Briefs: Rutland Region

By Lani Duke

Rutland

At last! Dorr Drive scheduled to reopen Friday, Oct. 2

Dorr Drive Bridge and the closed section of Dorr Drive are scheduled to open Friday, Oct. 2. If you’re in a hurry, you may still want to avoid the site; traffic runs only in alternating, one-way orientations while finish-up work is underway. Biking and foot traffic accommodations will also open. Fencing and the reset historic stone wall should also be complete. The Ripley Road Bridge has reached the end of pile driving, with pier construction having begun. As always, be cautious in a construction zone. The faster the traffic, the more likely vehicles will receive punctured tires and crazed windshields.

Helipad to open at the fairgrounds

Helicopters may soon land and take off from land belonging to the fairgrounds, S. Route 7. Rutland County Agricultural Society president Roland McNeil said a helipad at that site would supplement the hospital helipad in the event of a large-scale emergency, as well as allow the fairgrounds to host commercial flights. State clearances are already secured, so McNeil asked the same from the city at the September 19 aldermen’s meeting. The RCAS had planned to install a solar farm on the site but decided a helipad would better serve the city, he said. A city ordinance allows the aldermen to issue the permit. The next step is to check city zoning.

Rutland County Fair assesses its recent season

McNeil also told the aldermen that total fair attendance this year is estimated at slightly less than 40,000- estimated because no attendance was taken Sept. 9, a free day to honor a board member who passed away. Not all the bills are in yet, he said, noting that the RCAS fiscal year ends Oct. 31.

He anticipates the fair will show a large enough income to pay off part of its outstanding debt to the city. The fair’s offerings have changed before, to meet changing mores of both city and state. (Talk to some of the old-timers who remember when the fair was no place for “nice women” and children.)

This year’s balance sheet shows a few pluses and some minuses. Putting small children’s rides close together brought about a distinctive family-friendly atmosphere, McNeil said. Relying on local entertainment to generate a wider area draw was a bust, though; plans are for inviting more widely popular names in the future. After two demolition derbies in earlier years, the bloom was off the auto paint, and attendance was low compared to the others. Next year, RCAS plans to concentrate more on truck pulls. It seems likely the board will continue with reducing the fair to six days and hold it earlier or later in the year than the Labor Day weekend. Possibilities range from the last weekend in July/beginning of August to Columbus Day.

Speedy school consolidation hits a bump

The Rutland South Supervisory Union thought it had found a solution to Act 46’s demand that consolidation commence. The organization had anticipated being able to offer its voters an accelerated merger and quickly take advantage of a temporarily lowered tax rate. The school districts of Mill River Union High would merge with those of elementary schools in Tinmouth, Wallingford, Shrewsbury, and Clarendon. The combined district would offer educational services to more than 900 students, the minimum number for such an accelerated merger, and reap the maximum financial incentive. BUT this district’s 900+ students don’t really add up to the 900 minimum. Why? Too many of them originate from outside the district. Just a tad more than 800 qualify by living inside the district. More than 100 students cannot be figured into the average daily membership (ADM) because of their place of residence.

The state can grant an ADM waiver to the district, allowing the supervisory union to file for an accelerated merger. With voter approval in every member town, the merged union could be operational by the beginning of July 2016.

What are the alternatives? Develop a Regional Education District (RED), a category of educational organization created by Act 153 of 2010. ADM must be 1,250—no fit there. But it is a match in that it consists of four or more districts consolidating. And there are tax incentives if districts pursue RED mergers.

Salary scrutiny

Gallagher, Flynn & Company of South Burlington will study Rutland City department head salaries to evaluate their fairness and cost of living increases. Mayor Chris Louras said the $7,500 study will function as a guide only, not locking the aldermen into approving the compensation packages expected in the contractor’s report. The study considers only salaries at municipalities of similar size in both Vermont and the larger region but also, when possible, comparable private sector positions. The question may arise whether that directive is adequate. Alderman Matt Bloomer sees private-sector comparisons as a necessity. But Louras believes there is no private-sector comparison for the heads of law enforcement, firefighting, or recreation.

North Clarendon

Wood pellets sell as fast as they are made

Vermont Wood Pellet CEO Chris Brooks said his company is keeping up with demand for wood pellets, “selling as fast as we’re making it,” although oil prices are down. Other years, long, cold stretches during January and February have cut into the wood pellet supply. The plant on the Ethan Allen Highway (Vermont 7B, south of Vermont 103) produces 16,000 to 18,000 tons of pellets every year.

Rutland Town

Fed $ boosts salary for school-assigned police officer

Rutland Town School has garnered federal funding for a full-time school resource officer—half paid by the grant, and half by the town. Currently a part-time resource officer, deputy chief John Sly will increase from 10 to 40 hours a week during the school year, while switching to other police duties when school is not in session.

Principal in the doghouse

This summer Rutland Town School principal Aaron Boynton for devised a summertime reading challenge for his school. His challenge? Read 1,000 books. Student response? 1,083. The result? Boynton recently spent a day in a human-sized doghouse lent by Garden Time, much to the glee of the students. He took it well.

County

Summer traffic delays continue

Travel between Fair Haven and Rutland on Route 4 still seems to be besieged by short delays caused by lane closures and speed reductions as crews strive to finish up before winter arrives.

Congratulations

to CJ’s Suds South, recently celebrating 40 years in business.

to Paul Gallo and Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum on creating the first Wonderpaws Festival & Paw Parade. Thanks to supporters and to the competition creators for coming up with such contests as Best Pooch Smooch, Wildest Wag, and Most Mysterious Heritage. It was a yelping success, with dogs enjoying the outing as much as their people.

to Anthony Golden, who opened his new restaurant Mother Clucker’s at 95 State St., Rutland, Sept. 19, selling nearly 500 pounds of chicken on opening day.

to Rutland City Fire Department for training its officers how to use the personal-escape equipment Petzl Exo. All 40 FD members will be trained in using the harness, anchor hook, pulley, and 50 feet of heat- and cut-resistant rope. A life-saver.

to PEGTV on winning multiple awards in the 2015 Alliance for Community Media – New England (ACM-NE) Video Contest.

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