News Briefs
October 30, 2015

News Briefs: Rutland Region

By Lani Duke

NECAP test scores tied to poverty levels

Rutland High students came in barely above statewide averages on last May’s NECAP tests: 36 percent demonstrated science proficiency. Otter Valley U.H.S. students ranked considerably lower, with only 15 percent of 11th-graders showing proficiency in science. Educators link NECAP proficiency scores to poverty, noting that the average fourth-grader in Vermont who receives free or reduced-price lunch scores 34.6 on the test, while those not on the program show scores of an average 41.4. On reaching 11th grade, the same gap between free or reduced-price lunch students vs. full-price lunchers continues, 30.6 to 36.2. The standard for proficiency is 40 points.

An improved Muckenshnabel’s reopens

Rutland’s iconic neighborhood bar Muckenschnabel’s at 45 Madison Street reopened in late August, thanks to Chris Bourque and Tim Puro. Returnees have found a somewhat refurbished atmosphere in the longtime local hangout: renovated restrooms, updated lighting, freshly finished hardwood floor, new heating and air conditioning units, and high-top tables replacing the red leather booths. The bar now accepts credit cards. Visitors may look up to see the WhistlePig Rye mural, a gift from the Shoreham distillery, on the brick wall; Muck’s is the only Vermont bar currently offering the company’s 12-year-old World Rye. The new owners focus on Vermont beers and spirits while making sure that prices are affordable.

Rutland folks began patronizing Muckenshnabel’s when original owner Marty McClallen opened it in 1972, other than the years from 1982 to 1995 when he undertook a different career before returning to the site. He had closed it again in May, but is now working behind the bar on weekday afternoons. Bourque and Puro employ eight other workers in the Madison Street business.

Grant supported for Parent-Child Center

Rutland City Aldermen voted unanimously to support a $250,000 Community Development Block Grant for the Rutland County Parent-Child Center, to be used to remodel the long-vacant former National Wallpaper School on Chaplin Avenue. Although the money is awarded by the state, the city must sponsor the application and back only one in a given granting period.

The Parent-Child Center has owned the property since late 2012. It renovated another building on the property summer before last. Now, the 5,500-square-foot main building is stripped and ready to be transformed. In its new role, the building will contain classrooms, therapy space, play space for groups, and offices for the workers who serve developmentally disabled children from all over Rutland County.

The Parent-Child Center is investing $1.2 million in its two new structures, hoping to raise $300,000 from the community. Once finished, hopefully by summer 2016, the Chaplin Avenue property will be far more accessible for its students.

The organization then plans to sell its buildings on the corner of Pleasant and Madison streets.

Because the Aldermen could only put their support on one project, that Board gave preference to the Parent-Child Center’s CDBG request rather than a request for a $300,000 CDBG on behalf of BROC, which wanted money to improve its recently acquired building adjacent to the downtown shopping plaza. One factor on behalf of the PCC request is that the improvements are for a building that is on the tax rolls, according to Alderwoman Sharon Davis, chair of the aldermanic board’s community and economic development committee. Among the criteria are grand list growth and improvement for blighted lots.

Lower bid wins

South Burlington engineering firm VHB won the contract for pedestrian and gateway improvements to Rutland’s Strongs Avenue and Merchants Row, beating out sole competitor Otter Creek Engineering. VHB will do the job for $36,400. City engineer James Rotondo said that, although both companies were qualified, the job went to the lower bid.

Solar bench installed Rutland

Green Mountain Power plans to install a specially equipped bench on the public sidewalk in front of the Energy Innovation Center on Merchants Row. It is approximately 8 feet long and weighs 180 pounds. Those who sit down on the bench may then plug their cell phones or other rechargeables into the bench. The new product, made by a company named Soofa, are being installed in Boston now. The energy it emits is collected solar energy.

The dis-assembled bench has already arrived at the EIC, and has received installation permit approval as of October 19 from the Aldermen. It replaces a circular bike rack that had seen little use.

Fluoride debate continues

Please don’t buy more fluoride, Kathleen Krevetski asked the Rutland Board of Aldermen on Oct. 19. She reasoned that if Rutland voters put their weight behind removing the chemical from the water supply before a stockpile is used up, the city would be left with a huge surplus. What she may view as waste, some other municipality would surely take.

Be that as it may, a citizen vote to stop including the chemical in its water supply might be totally ineffective. Sole authority for deciding whether fluoride is inserted into the city’s water lies with the public works commissioner under the current city charter, and current commissioner Jeff Wennberg said he would rely on decisions from state public health officials—who already have endorsed fluoride.

Krevetski said that the public needs to be able to see all additions to their water supply. Wennberg countered that that information is already available on the city website, www.rutlandcity.org/ccr, a url that appears on each bill. Wennberg also countered her assertion that fluoridated water should not be used to mix infant formula by citing a Vermont Department of Health statement that there is no cause for concern.

Airport improvements

More than $5 million in improvements have made Rutland-Southern Vermont Regional Airport in North Clarendon safer and able to increase jet traffic again. Landings had been decreased while the airport was adding an expanded safety zone to its capability. Made of crushable concrete with a PVC exterior shell, known as an engineered materials arrestor system (EMAS) pad, the new installation is designed to sink and safely slow a runaway plane that crosses onto it. The new technology is credited with saving lives on passengers and crew on 12 runaway planes worldwide.

The Federal Aviation Administration had mandated the EMAS installation if the airport was not to cut its runway from 5,000 feet back to 3,500. Also required were new retaining walls to hold earth that increased the airport’s footprint.

Airport manager Chris Beitzel praised the work of Markowski Excavating for finishing the project a month ahead of the projected date, even though the Florence-based company had picked up the work when the original contractor dropped out last fall.

Also new at the airport is a net-metered solar array, still under construction, which is intended to offset the site’s electricity use. Students from Stafford Technical Center have been helping Agency of Transportation workers install the solar site.

Repairs to Innovation Drive conclude the renovations.

Congratulations

to Maria J. Stephan, 1995 Mill River High valedictorian, on being recognized with the inaugural Henry J. Leir Human Security Award from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. The award is for her 2011 publication of “Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict,” in collaboration with Erica Chenoweth.

to the good folks at Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL) on being awarded $3,500 from the Peoples United Community Foundation in support of the Glean Team, the folks who pick up the remnants from farm fields and orchards and deliver them to local food-sharing organizations.

to Rutland High science and biology teacher Anne Marie Durfee Mahar, recently named alternate for the 2016 Vermont Teacher of the Year award.

Thank you

to all who worked on the Blue Star Memorial Garden in front of Beauchamp and O’Rourke Pharmacy on Woodstock Avenue, maintained by the Rutland Garden Club, and to those who raised money to refurbish the Blue Star Memorial sign, honoring Brigadier General Leonard F. Wing, soon to be returned from its Marietta, Ohio, “convalescence.”

also to Rutland City Parks and Recreation, Hannaford Supermarket, and American Legion Post 21 for partnering with the garden club on the fundraising effort.

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