By Lani Duke
New board members at RMHS
RUTLAND CITY—Rutland Mental Health Services (RMHS) recently announced that five new members are joining its board of directors. They are: Rutland City Police Chief Brian Kilcullen, Rutland City Treasurer Wendy Wilton, general practice lawyer Michael McClallen, retired hospital administrator Laird Covey, and Addison-Rutland Supervisory Union Special Services Director Kristin Benway. A sixth new member may be announced in June.
Currently relying on a board containing 12 members, the organization is permitted to have from 12 to 15 members at its directors’ table. One of 11 private nonprofits contracted with the state to provide community-based services, RMHS receives more than $20 million in public funds annually, employing approximately 375 full- and part-time staffers. Each year, it serves about 3,000 Rutland County residents in need of mental health, developmental disability, or substance abuse aid.
Although RMHS regained its designated agency status last year, using a corrective plan and led by new CEO Dick Courcelle, the organization still must contend with chronic underfunding. Low wages lead to annual employee turnover as high as 25 percent.
The new board members hope to bring their expertise to work on low funding and other difficulties. Wilton hopes to bring her money handling skills to the service of RMHS. Kilcullen intends to strengthen relationships between law enforcement and mental health providers. Covey, recently retired and moved to Pittsford, brings his background as past president of Central Maine Medical Center. His expertise will help RMHS deliver quality services while maintaining affordability.
The state Agency of Human Services had questioned the possibility of conflict of interest between Courcelle and two RMHS board members in November. Both are also top administrators in the Rutland City public school system.
Since then, Eloise McGarry, district director of support services for the school district, has resigned from the RMHS board. Rob Bliss, assistant superintendent of schools, will remain on the board until his term expires in November.
CSJ expansion to cause traffic, emergency snags
RUTLAND TOWN—Rutland Town’s Planning Commission recently requested the District 1 Environmental Commission to get assurance that construction planned at the College of St. Joseph won’t snarl traffic too badly. In a May 6 letter to the district commission, Rutland Town Planning Commission Chairwoman Barbara Noyes Pulling wrote that the town fire chief, Frank Cioffi, is concerned that the expansion would cause delays in response to fire and other emergency response situations during the times when public events such as basketball games and musical performances are releasing their audiences. The intersection of Ripley Road and West Street is expected to be a major choke point.
The college’s Act 250 application indicated construction would add about 238 vehicles per day to an existing estimated count of 2,100 vehicles a day. The April 4 application described the building of a 33,045-square-foot dormitory and a 10,000-square-foot dining hall. The application included realigning the access road off Dorr Drive, widening it from two lanes to three.
CSJ Attorney James Goss dismissed the town’s concerns, saying that traffic controls are used during major events.
Motorists alerted to nighttime Route 7 road work
WALLINGFORD-RUTLAND TOWN—The northbound lane of Route 7 is now being milled from the Wallingford-Danby town line northward to the intersection with Windcrest Road in Rutland Town. Then crews will start working their way south back to the Wallingford and Danby line.
The second phase continues from Windcrest Road north to the Rutland City line at Cold River Rd. Because traffic is heavy and so many businesses front on that segment of Route 7, work will take place at night, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. The work is expected to be primarily a resurface project, without adding new lanes or altering traffic patterns. Crews will also patch, repair pot holes and seal cracks. Engineers expect the project to extend the road’s useful life eight to ten years more.
According to Natalie Boyle, project outreach coordinator for the road work, the project has about 40 people working every day; when paving begins, the road work will call for another five to 10 workers. The contractor for the project is Peckham Road Corp. of Lake George, N.Y.
RUTLAND—Rutland Regional Planning Commission Assistant Director Susan Schreibman has resigned her position, effective May 13. She attributed her departure to a realization that life is short as her 60th birthday approaches. She had worked for the RRPC 14 years.
Local primary care sports medicine physician Dr. Matt Gammons was installed as president of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine on April 18. He serves patients at the Vermont Orthopaedic Clinic as well as at the Killington Medical Clinic. Board-certified in family practice and sports medicine, he specializes in non-operative musculoskeletal care.
The Credit Union of Vermont’s scholarship committee recently selected Kate Perkins of Rutland High and Jacob Nichols of Mill River High as recipients of the 2016 Lawrence J. McKirryher Memorial Scholarship. Each receives a $1,000 award.
The Rutland Region Workforce Investment Board and the Vermont Farmers Food Center are among the recipients of grants or pledges from Berkshire Bank Foundation. Thirteen nonprofits share in the award.
More beds coming at Open Door Mission
RUTLAND—The Open Door Mission will expand its homeless shelter capacity by renovating its fourth floor, using an award of $165,000 from the State of Vermont. Redeveloping the attic of the building will add 15 beds, bringing the bed count up to 67.
In addition to the construction award, the state is funding the shelter operation with $95,000 a year. Rutland City Mayor Chris Louras has personally guaranteed approval for the increased sewer capacity, Open Mission Executive Director Sharon Russell said. The state will use the expanded capacity for emergency shelter rather than issuing hotel vouchers.
Vermont Office of Economic Opportunity Chief Administrator Sarah Phillips noted that the grant has not yet been bestowed, awaiting official local approval and a final operational plan. Placement in the shelter provides a more helpful solution for a homeless person than a night in a motel, Phillips commented, because the shelter can connect individuals with services more effectively, saving the state money in the future.
Expanding urgent care services
RUTLAND—Community Health Centers of the Rutland Region will soon be offering new urgent care services at the organization’s Rutland site at 215 Stratton Rd., as the result of a $752,500 grant from the national Community Health Center Fund. The clinic will be open seven days a week, up to 13 hours a day, possibly by fall. New construction will add five new examination rooms and space for behavioral health and support services. Renovations to the existing waiting and check-in areas will afford privacy to individuals receiving services at the clinic. CHCRR patients will be able to use the clinic, where their records are already on file, rather than visit a hospital emergency room.