News Briefs
June 8, 2016

News Briefs: Rutland Region, June 1 2016

By Lani Duke

New student member elected to school board

RUTLAND TOWN—Rutland High sophomore Connor Solimano joins the Rutland City School Board as its junior student representative. The 15-year-old from Rutland Town won his school board seat running against fellow sophomores Krisha Sachdev and Abigail Hawkins. His first meeting as a board member took part May 31. The 13-member school board has two student members. Rutland High junior Nova Wang moves up to the senior representative seat on the board, while this year’s senior representative Lydia Gulick graduates to enroll at Brown University studying government and political science.

What is the future for Combination Pond?

RUTLAND CITY—Rutland City Public Works Commissioner Jeff Wennberg hopes to retain a consultant to help plan the future for Combination Pond. He plans to issue a request for proposal (RFP) if the state will agree to fund the process. That proposal will include nearby Piedmont Pond, aimed at identifying what the options may be for both the neighbors and the city recreation department, Wennberg stated May 31.

Although Combination Pond neighborhood property owners have deeds that guarantee them access to the pond, there is nothing in their deeds that makes them responsible for the pond’s maintenance. With the city’s intervention, the pond will not be what it is now, but Wennberg hopes the solution will be “as good or better.”

The pond is the center of a neighborhood. Its residents enjoying the pond for fishing, swimming, ice skating, and hockey. If the pond were drained, property values in the area would plummet. At least 70 deeds include personal and real property rights affected by the two ponds.

Parking kiosks recommended

RUTLAND CITY—The process for buying parking kiosks is formally back on track, with a demonstration at the Public Safety Committee meeting June 1. The committee voted unanimously to recommend the Board of Aldermen approve buying nine kiosks for $83,630 with the check written from the parking meter fund. The Aldermen were scheduled to vote on the purchase June 6.

CALE America regional sales manager Laura Lierz demonstrated the kiosk, which will allow users to pay and enter their license plate number. Disallowing an individual’s purchase of additional time can be used to enforce a two-hour parking limit. Individuals may pay parking fines through a kiosk too.

The units are sturdy and vandalism-resistant—even if attacked by baseball bat or crowbar. They have also stood up to snowplow and vehicle collisions. Ruthellen Weston, co-owner of The Bookmobile, 58 Merchants Row, has told the committee she fears the kiosk payment system will hurt business downtown. She objected to downtown merchants not being consulted on plans for the conversion.

Students and elected officials volunteer side-by-side

RUTLAND CITY—Rutland Middle School students took part in cemetery clean-up May 31 and June 1. Working under the direction of Cemetery Commissioner Tom Giffin, they straightened headstones, cleared brush and trimmed shrubs at North Street Cemetery and West Street Cemetery. State Senator Brian Collamore and Representative Lawrence Cupoli helped with the raking and shoveling.

Additional construction to begin at Ripley Bridge

RUTLAND TOWN—Contractors anticipated work on the roadway along Clement/Dorr Drive near the College of St. Joseph would continue the first full week of June. Excavation and drainage pipe installation are among the activities you’ll see taking place, as the college entrance is realigned with the replacement Ripley Bridge, still under construction.

Electrical short causes building evacuation

RUTLAND TOWN—Dozens of Vermont Country Store employees evacuated the company’s Innovation Drive warehouse for about an hour on June 1. A panel in the facility’s electrical room overheated, producing smoke that triggered the alarm system, they later discovered.

The culprit panel connects to a generator, which was receiving its weekly test. That day, the test “fried a coil,” according to Clarendon Fire Department Assistant Chief Norm Flanders. Other nearby fire departments, including Rutland Town, West Rutland, Shrewsbury, and Mount Holly responded to the potential emergency, as did Regional Ambulance Service.

The building has been evacuated several times recently, Flanders noted. Dust from work on the roof as solar panels are being installed had also triggered the alarm system.

Trash fire examined

RUTLAND CITY—A fire in a Dumpster on Laverne Drive triggered three alarms and brought in off-duty firefighters, but could have been far more damaging. Of unknown origin, the fire itself was beaten back in 10 minutes but a further hazard appeared.The fire had remained contained in the waste container and Casella had sent out a truck to drop the contents on the driveway, where it received more water and fire-suppressing foam from firefighters. In the dumped materials were an empty propane tank and a gas can. City Deputy Police Chief James Miles said that an empty tank can explode, and could have done so in this instance if the flames had been hotter, perhaps fueled by carpeting that was also in the container.

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