The Mountain Times

°F Sat, April 19, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

by Lani Duke, Rutland

Railroad resurgence

Some community traditions barely survive, teetering on until there is too little interest in them. Others thrive over time, although they may change their appearance, scheduling and frequency.

Taking the train in and out of Rutland is one of those traditions. Railroads were a much bigger part of Vermont life before the days when nearly everyone owned or had access to an automobile. Now, riding the train is regaining some of its lost prestige. Once each day, you can board the train for a five and a half-hour ride from Rutland to New York City, or disembark earlier at Castleton, Fort Edward/Glens Falls, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Hudson, or Whitecliff.

Just over a year ago, this popular Ethan Allen Express route began stopping at the renovated Castleton Depot, instead of the closed, decaying station in Fair Haven.  It's now just a short walk to Castleton State College. Since this change, the new station has averaged about seven passengers a day.

Built by the Rutland and Whitehall Railroad in 1850, The Ethan Allen Express offers a refurbished indoor waiting room, a deli, bakery and coffee shop, and complimentary parking. Passenger numbers continue to grow, according to the Vermont Agency of Transportation.

Rutland Celebrates Halloween

There's a hush in the Rutland air during late October; not many people are on the street or in stores. They are all probably busy working on costumes and floats for the annual Halloween parade. Saturday, October 29, with be the 52nd Halloween Parade in Rutland. A string of other activities are also offered throughout the weekend including the "Running Scared" Halloween 5K, the crowning of the "Pumpkin Princess and Mr. Jack-O-Lantern" plus many business specials and deals to be found. This year's program adds fireworks to top off the evening.

Halloween Parade 2010 Bw

Photo by Stacy Bates
Rutland's Halloween Parade continues a 52-year tradition

The Rutland parade probably seems familiar to almost any comic book enthusiast, having first appeared in DC Comics soon after its inception in 1959. The parade's fame brought the likes of the Joker, Avengers, Batman, Captain America, Thor and Dr. Strange to walk in Rutland's line-up, and consequently depicted in these brightly-colored, specialty publications.

Comic book collectors who subsequently visit Rutland may recognize local landmarks, first glimpsed in the pages of publications by Marvel, DC Comics, and Gold Key.

Climate change may delay foliage

The timing of three-day weekend Columbus Day, celebrated the second Monday in October, often coincides with Vermont's most spectacular fall foliage weekend. Local hotels rely on a heavy inundation of tourists to fill lodgings across the state. That fortuitous timing may be falling out of phase, though, according to a recent climate study; the great autumnal color change seems to be occurring at later and later dates throughout the northern hemisphere.

A number of factors appear to determine when deciduous tree leaves change their color and then drop. Shortening days, temperature change, or variances in amount or timing of precipitation may drive this change. Disease such as fungus or virus may also alter foliage color change timing and its brilliance or lack thereof.

Research is now underway to pinpoint reasons for the foliage time change. Over time, a delayed autumn tourist season may conflict with other scheduled events like college homecoming. And the further back in time the trees wait to change their hues, the more likely it is that they will be sporting a large crop of leaves when the first snows arrive, increasing the risk of broken branches and resultant downed power lines.

Downtown parking changes and costs

Downtown Rutland parking meter rates may take a sharp rise in an effort to drive vehicles off the street and into the parking deck. Plans are in place to terminate parking in "The Pit" at the corner of Wales and Center streets and the Wales Street parking lot, and put more restriction on parking in the Rutland Shopping Plaza. Meters would go into meter-less parking places on Center, Church, and Wales streets. Long-term parking passes would also increase in cost as would parking tickets.

This plan, drawn up by Rutland mayor Chris Louras, also calls for reduced monthly parking rates within the deck itself. Under this plan, the deck would stay under state ownership. In the past, the state has urged the city to take control of the deck, partially because the state has a limited security budget that leaves the deck open to vandalism.

Downtown interests generally agree that the deck is valuable to the downtown, but disagree in how to best utilize and protect it from abuse. Its four levels were designed for 600 parking spots plus an interchange for both Marble Valley Regional Transit and Greyhound buses. It's also close to the Rutland Amtrak stop and is a convenient place to pick up a cab to the regional airport or catch a shuttle to hotels or to the mountains for skiing.

The proposal additionally calls for the state to drop monthly pass fee and to install an hourly meter system. Installing cameras in the walkway between the deck and Center Street and developing a no-vagrancy zone throughout the deck, would help paying users feel safe. New and improved signage would also help casual users to find and utilize the structure.

Events: Lani's picks

Friday, October 21 -- Enjoy the owl demo brought to the Rutland Free Library by the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS). A VINS representative speaks about the web of life and lets you meet a pair of owls up close and personally. The Rutland Free Library is located on 10 Court St. in Rutland. Call 773-1860 for details.

Friday & Saturday, October 21-22 -- Instead of soaring with owls, tumble down the rabbit hole with Alice as the Rutland Youth Theatre presents Alice in Wonderland at Rutland Intermediate School. Call 773-1853 for details.

Saturday, October 22 --  If you have memories of doin' The Loco-Motion and boppin' At The Hop, spend Saturday night listening to The Chiffons and Danny & The Juniors at The Paramount, 30 Center St. Rutland. Call 775-0903 for tickets.

Tagged: Halloween Parade, rutland report