By Lani Duke
Interim appointment questioned
Michael Jones of Castleton may take on the job of interim fire chief for Rutland City with a two-year contract. Rutland Mayor Chris Louras nominated Jones for his leadership development ability as well as his background in public safety and emergency management.
Jones, retiring from Vermont Army National Guard active duty, has no firefighting experience, however. Although he plans to gain firefighting experience, the decision has drawn some criticism for his lack of basic firefighting knowledge.
Jones believes that having three deputy chiefs in the city fire department who oversee field operations is sufficient, since in the military higher officers rely on subordinates who are more technically competent than their leaders. His role, he said, is to manage day-to-day activities while assuring that staff perform daily duties in accordance with standards and have necessary training and equipment.
Terenzini takes a seat
Rutland Town’s Select Board voted July 23 to appoint Joshua Terenzini as a temporary board member until the town election August 25. Terenzini is the only candidate who has filed papers to run for that open seat next month.
Even though no other candidates are registered to run in that election, there is no guarantee that Terenzini will be seated to finish out the two-and-a-half year term. A vigorously pursued write-in campaign could, in theory, place another person in the position.
Terenzini already has 1,000 informational cards and 100 posters printed bearing the slogan, “Common Sense Leadership Hard at Work!” He intends to campaign as if he had an opponent.
Fireworks licensing lacks supporters
It appears that Rutland City residents have no desire to allow firework sales within the city limits. No one showed up to support Charles Greeno’s request to open a fireworks store.
A city ordinance prohibits their use in the city, but some of the Aldermen say those regulations are vague and outdated, such as the section saying that parents are responsible if their “children under the age of 21” set off “rockets and projectiles.” Alderman Ed Larson noted that firecrackers are not mentioned, calling the law “archaic.”
The city’s Public Safety Committee is considering Greeno’s request. State law permits some fireworks sales as long as the local municipal government approves. The Aldermen agreed that knowing what is currently on the books would help them reach a decision if Greeno’s proposal passes out of the committee.
Rutland High School library renovations on track
The high school library will wind up renovating construction in early August, a project that reveals the way libraries are changing around the world. Although it (and other libraries) rely on shelves full of books, work tables, and check-outs, two computer labs, each to hold at least 20 new machines, provide additional material, accessible by both individual students and student groups. A 75-inch monitor paves the way for group sessions. Smart windows assist in temperature regulation, as a constant temperature is better for materials and equipment as well as the human occupants.
A separate quiet room lets students find a super-quiet place to focus their attention. The library itself reaches two floors, with labs and a staff conference room on the upper level. The $1.2 million project is more than just a reconfiguration; it includes new technology and reflects a thought process change, with an emphasis on helping students acquire transferable skills. Rather than submitting homework to their teachers as the sole measure of learning, students instead have an interactive model to follow, including sharing their work with the public.
The construction itself has a learning component. Contractors Naylor & Breen had assistance from a number of Stafford Tech Center students. Auto-refinishing program students built, sanded and painted the 1,300+ bookshelves.
Blood drive a success, but misses goal
Thank you to the American Red Cross, Green Mountain Power and WJJR radio for their hard work in organizing a successful blood drive on July 22. Part of the Red Cross’s 100 Days of Summer initiative, the drive received 338 pints, a bit short of a 375-pint goal.
Grant aids Women’s Shelter
The Rutland Women’s Shelter recently received $10,000 through a Verizon HopeLine grant. The fund enable the shelter to install a children’s playground and purchase two new heavy-duty, industrial-grade washers and dryers as well as the necessary electrical and plumbing upgrades. Before, the shelter had only a single over-used washer and dryer to provide clean garments and bedding for residents, as many as 12 people or sometimes even more.
To Mill River Union teacher Michael Pluta, for being recognized as an excellent driver ed teacher by the National Road Safety Foundation and American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association. Pluta brings a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to his subject matter, saying driving is 90 percent cognitive skill and his task is to teach students to make fast, clear, legal decisions.