By Lani Duke
2016 Dancing with the Rutland Stars cast announced
RUTLAND CITY—The Rutland Area Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice (RAVNAH) will get another “shot in the arm” from the upcoming Dancing with the Rutland Stars fundraiser scheduled for October 8 at the Paramount Theater in downtown Rutland. This year’s amateur contestants are Chris LaFlamme, Jr., owner of LaFlamme’s, Inc.; Eliza Wilcox, Green Mountain Power business analyst; Marleen Cenate, Heritage Family Credit Union senior vice president of business services; Russ Marsan, owner of Carpenter & Costin; Sara Gilbert, assistant director of Rutland Economic Development Corp.; Thomas Hartigan, Rutland Regional Medical Center occupational therapist; and Tom Cohen, Carpet Warehouse president.
Their professional partners are Adam King of Studio Fitness; Bill Kelley of Pyramid Holistic Wellness Center; David Allan of Green Mountain Swing Dancing & Brandon Music; Heather Brouillard of Miss Lorraine’s School of Dance; Kylee Lawrence of Studio 15; Sheila McCutcheon of Miss Jackie’s Studio of Dance; and Tracy Tedesco of Fitness Made Fun.
The sellout annual show raises some $20,000 to $22,000 for Kids on the Move and the pediatric high-tech rehab programs. Kids On The Move brings physical, occupational and speech therapists into the home and schools to work with children with genetic and developmental disorders, orthopaedic injuries and diseases, and developmental delays. Pediatric high-tech is for children who need specialized nursing care at home. RAVNAH also raises cost-offsetting funds for the programs with a 5K race in the spring. The high expense for these programs is not fully covered by insurance or government programs.
Zip codes frustrate local option tax collection
RUTLAND TOWN—Rutland Town officials are looking for a way to make sure businesses pay the 1 percent local option sales tax on meals, room rentals and retail sales. The town is concerned that not all businesses within town boundaries comply with the tax collection.
Obtaining a list of businesses in Rutland Town, let alone those that collect and turn in that 1 percent tax, is not as easy as it first appears. Zip code is not an effective determiner. The zip code 05701 covers Rutland Town, Rutland City, East Pittsford, South Chittenden and Mendon, at least in part, but Center Rutland is zip 05736. Each government entity could conceivably have its own tax delineation.
The state looks up the longer numbers, the zip+4 code, hiring a contracting company to track them. That company sends the state a file each month of businesses coming into various zip codes, according to Greg Mousley, deputy commissioner at the Vermont Department of Taxes.
Mousley’s department said his department shares aggregate tax information but not which businesses comply with the 1 percent tax. Instead, the state tracks which businesses in a given zip code don’t report the tax. The state may telephone the business and send out bills after three months.
Businesses shipping merchandise into Rutland Town are also to apply the tax. Computer software often automates the process, Mousley said. On the other hand, “no tax gets 100 percent paid.” He believes the state finds and brings businesses into compliance effectively, however.
City tackles problem of blighted houses
RUTLAND CITY—The city already owns 18 properties, acquired because they were declared blighted, and there are eight more that the city may possess during the upcoming fiscal year. Alderman Sharon Davis plans to schedule a Community and Economic Development Committee meeting in July to discuss their rehabilitation.
Not all can be repaired. Some of the properties are vacant lots, and the structures on others may be beyond repair. If lots are left vacant, their neighborhoods are not being strengthened, nor is the grand list, Davis said. She wants to discuss getting houses on those lots, possibly built by Stafford Tech students.
Concentrating on building houses is not necessary to increase the grand list, Brennan Duffy, executive director of the Rutland Redevelopment Authority, said. Some lots may be sold to abutting property owners so that they have larger yards. The grand list will grow as blighted properties are removed, small parks are created, and average lawn sizes increase.
Houses currently under rehabilitation do not appear on the grand list, he noted. Those houses were purchased by NeighborWorks of Western Vermont, which has been working with the city, buying houses with grant money and either restoring or demolishing them.
The first rehabilitated house, on Library Avenue, was completed and sold in May. One house has been demolished on Baxter Street, with the property being converted into a park. Another house on Baxter Street is currently being rehabbed. Duffy and Habitat for Humanity are considering working together to build houses on some of the empty lots.
Parking deck cracks not a cause for worry
RUTLAND CITY—A state-hired structural engineering contractor took a critical look at the cracks in the bridge connecting the deck to the Center Street elevator tower and pronounced them to be non-threatening. Bill Laferriere, director of property management for the state Department of Buildings and General Services, said June 14 that “The crack is vertical and the weight is horizontal. If the crack was going the other way, then we’d be nervous.”
Popular orchestra teacher retires
RUTLAND CITY—Rutland High orchestra director Peter Miller retired with a musical celebration that sampled the work he had given the community over the years. Rutland High junior Nova Wang arranged “A Musical Memory” by drawing on “some of our favorites from third grade through high school.” Miller’s work in the community stretches back further than that, though. A music educator for nearly 40 years, he served the Rutland Public Schools as orchestra and fine arts director for 18 years. See and hear the student performance on youtube, by searching for Musical Memory Peter Miller.
RUTLAND CITY—Longtime Alderman Paul Barbagallo died June 13 at age 71. He served the city on the Board of Aldermen for 12 years. Barbagallo had been employed at Rotella’s Building Materials and was a member of the American Sicilian Club. Many longtime Rutlanders say his greatest contribution to the city was in keeping the 10-of-9 whistle custom alive. A holdover from the old evening curfew, the air horn on the Rutland fire station makes three blasts at 8:50 p.m. each night. For a time it was challenged by neighbors who complained about the noise, and Mayor Wennberg at the time takes credit for silencing it, temporarily. But longtime Rutlanders find it a comforting tradition and handy for reminding them of the evening hour without having to check their iPhones.
Refugee resettlement item will not appear on ballot
RUTLAND TOWN—On Tuesday, June 14, the Rutland Town Select Board unanimously agreed not to put an item calling to delay the plans for refugee resettlement in Rutland on the August ballot. Although former Selectman Don Chioffi said he had enough signatures to get the question on the ballot, Selectman John Paul Faignant commented that, because the town lacks the power to control refugee resettlement, the Board can reject a vote on the question. Chioffi said that he intends to take the petition rejection issue to court.
A tale of four bridges
RUTLAND TOWN—The signs on Business 4 in Center Rutland may read “Ripley Road Detour” but you still can’t get there from here. . . Poured concrete abutments and a center pier for the new Ripley Bridge await steel girders, scheduled for the entire third week of June. Curbs and a new sidewalk are in as far as the Village Car Wash, which is open for business. The work is proceeding alongside the rickety Bailey bridge (a temporary, Erector-set bridge invented in World War II) and, beneath it, the green girders of the “pony truss” bridge that replaced the original covered bridge.