Mexican restaurant opens downtown
Two new restaurants in downtown Rutland provide alternatives for
local diners. Mexican restaurant Nacho Mamas recently opened at 118
Merchants Row, a space formerly occupied by Ojala's beauty salon.
The 20-seat Mexican restaurant offers both eat-in and take-out
food, plus beer, wine, and malt beverages. Owners are Katherine and
Brad Barker, who also own Kelvans a few doors down the street. Alan
Waldo, former daytime chef at Kelvans, is managing the new
establishment. It's open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through
Gastropub takes tavern up a notch
Also new to Rutland is Griffin's Publick House - not a bar but the
city's first gastropub, taking bar food and moving it upscale with
top-drawer ingredients. Pizzas have become "artisanal flatbreads,"
cooked in a wood-burning oven; other menu items employ classic
French techniques. The chef is Paul Kropp, formerly with Al Ducci's
Italian Pantry in Manchester; sous-chef is Brian Garvison. An iPad
at each table conveys orders to the kitchen. Located at the former
Downtown Tavern at 42 Center Street, it also includes 14 lines of
artisan beer on draft.
Furniture store to close
Ladabouche Furniture is closing. Castleton alum Gary Ladabouche
accepted a position as his alma mater's director of corporate
giving and major gifts. A liquidation company is helping close the
store at 162 S. Main St., which will remain open until it is empty.
A 1980 graduate of the college, Ladabouche has owned his own
furniture store for some 16 years, downtown on Center Street for
the first 13, and another 3-1/2 at its current site.
Bouncing around Vermont
Bounce Around VT has opened an office in West Rutland, renting
inflatable bounce houses in southern Vermont. Customers rent its
inflatable devices for family parties, weddings, corporate parties,
and college and high school proms. There is no size or age limit
The six-year-old company originated in Franklin County, deciding
to expand into Burlington and Montpelier as well as West Rutland.
Customers receive free delivery throughout Rutland, Washington,
Chittenden and Franklin counties; other localities pay a delivery
charge. The West Rutland office currently employs two individuals;
owner Joe Sinagra hopes that number will grow.
Streetscape enhancement proposed
Alderman Chris Siliski recently proposed spending $50,000 of Zamias
fund moneys to improve the corner of West, Wales and Church
streets. He described his streetscape enhancement as a "leverage
investment initiative," a sort of reward to enhance the ambiance
around the new $15 million Community College of Vermont. His idea
is to "green up" the intersection of West Street with Church Street
with a green strip, then running the green area half a block up
West. Sidewalk improvement as needed, adding some trees, and
sprucing up for the school district's buildings are also on
Siliski's mind, as a way to make this downtown gateway more
VFW works for New Korean War Memorial
Main Street Park is on the way to sprouting a new memorial, this
one to those who fought in the Korean War (1950-1953), spearheaded
by members of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post 648. VFW
members George Bates, Ed Perkins, and some 24 or 25 others are
working to raise about $13,000 for a monument. The project is at
the "preliminary design" stage, and has received no site
determination within the park, but the design is yet to be
fine-tuned" and the precise location is not yet finalized.
Other war memorials in the park were donated by private groups:
the Green Mountain Boys and World War I monuments by the Daughters
of the American Revolution; the Civil War monument by the Daughters
of the Union Veterans. Parks Department superintendent EJay Bishop
plans to bring the proposal to the Aldermen's board when it is
ready for a formal presentation.
New boards in city government
Rutland's aldermen have re-instituted both a Housing Board and a
Health Board. The city had a housing board in the past, created in
2007, but after the founding members' two-year terms expired, they
were neither reappointed or replaced. On the Building and Zoning
Office's recommendation, the aldermen re-started the board to hear
municipal housing ticket appeals; decisions of the housing board
are appealable to the county civil court.
According to city attorney Charles Romeo, the state requires any
city that has a housing code to also have a housing board. The 2007
policy stipulates a five-person board containing two aldermen and
three members of the general public, with a third alderman serving
as an alternate, all appointed by the board president and confirmed
by the board of aldermen.
The aldermen on the board are Chris Siliski and John Cassarino
with Melinda Humphrey as alternate; general public members are
Terry Norton, Bill Gillam and Scott Tanner.
Unlike the Housing Board, the Board of Health is mandated by the
city's charter, charged with enforcing public health ordinances
like quarantines. Alderman Gary Donahue had proposed re-purposing
the board to gather information on environmental issues affecting
public health and be prepared to bring that info to the community.
The aldermen are considering how and whether the board would be
helpful for the community and is looking for individuals who served
on the board of health in the past, to ask them about their duties
Fire station looks to expand.
Omya recently donated the former Clarendon and Pittsford rail
line behind the Center Rutland fire station, to the town, a
transfer that opens the way for enlarge the building. A larger
building will enable the fire department to provide better fire
A proposed design for the new station encompasses 5,875 square
feet, including three truck bays and a 1,275 square foot
training/meeting room. It not only provides better training space,
but will serve the community in a variety of ways, including
serving as an evacuation center for community disasters and
long-term power outages, as well as providing economic stimulation
for the Route 4 corridor.
The newest formal dissatisfaction with Rutland police comes from
the police union, who recently filed an unfair labor practice
charge. The union disagrees with a new restriction police chief
James Baker put into practice this spring.
New hires can no longer have a second job unless there is
"extraordinary justification," according to the American Federation
of State County and Municipal Employees complaint to the Vermont
Labor Relations Board, although senior police officers and staff
who have prior approval will not have to give up their extra
The problem is less the rule itself but more the way it was
created and set in place without prior negotiation.
However, Police Chief James Baker and police commission chair
Larry Jensen take the position that the city has both authority and
need to make the restriction because "double badging," working for
more than one municipal law enforcement agency simultaneously, may
create conflicts of interest and even lead to liability
difficulties. Currently both Ed Dumas and Ted Washburn work for the
Rutland Town police department as well as Rutland City, while
Joseph Warfle, on administrative leave from the city, is
Pittsford's chief of police.
There is also concern that an officer working more than one job
may become too fatigued to perform either effectively or
Although the union has claimed the rule extends to any and all
outside employment, the police commission and Chief Baker say that
was not their intent. A high proportion of police officers perform
other work outside their official duties, including garden service,
Baker said recently. But their primary employer does need to know
who their business partners are and the type of business in which
they are involved. Because there is litigation over its wording,
the text of the email itself is not open to public scrutiny.
Water quality improving
The haloacetic acid level in Rutland water is continuing to drop,
Public Works commissioner Jeff Wennberg recently told the aldermen.
That's good news to those Rutlanders who fear that switching to the
water purification chemical chloramine runs the risk of releasing
chemicals that are far more dangerous.
As long as the current trend continues, there is no worry.
Levels keep dropping. And, if it were not for recent, more
stringent federal regulation, the topic would be of no concern
Be that as it is, none of the experts are sure why the levels
are dropping. Interaction of the disinfectant chlorine with organic
matter in the water creates haloacetic acid. Saying that the levels
dropped back into compliance is a bit misleading, because what
constitutes compliance has changed. Tests of city water in May
reveal one-year averages below 50 parts per billion, well below the
new compliance requirement of 60 parts per billion.
Why so low?
Tropical storm Irene, some suggest, scouring the Mendon Brook
streambed of organic material. However, levels had begun to drop
before the storm, leveled off, then rose in November 2011, staying
comparatively high through February 2012. Then the ppb began a
Some would credit increased emphasis on flushing out the system,
an effort that began the following May after the levels were
already dropping. Putting fresh sand in the filter was not the
cause either; the first substitution was August 2007, which
seemingly caused a sharp increase, not a decrease. The sand
apparently "matures," becoming more efficient over time.
Possible credit, according to city engineer Evan Pilachowski,
may lie with draining Beaver Pond after May 2010. He promises the
city will continue to monitor water quality closely.
Area promotions and recognitions
Manchester attorney Marianne Kennedy recently became new executive
director of the Rutland County Women's Network & Shelter. She
is a private consultant, health policy analyst, and consultant on
health policy design, implementation, and strategic planning.
The Society of Animal Welfare administrators recently named
Rutland County Humane Society director of operations Jessica Danyon
as a certified animal welfare administrator. The new designation,
held by fewer than 100 animal welfare pros, recognizes nonprofit
and municipal execs in the U.S., Canada, and Australia who have
displayed excellence while generating accomplishments in their
Saryna Hier of West Rutland, who recently received a Holly D.
Miller award from the Vermont Women's Fund. Nominated by Lynn
Bodurant, director of the Rutland Region Workforce Investment
Board's Three Steps Forward Program, Hier used Three Steps to
complete her high school diploma on her way to beginning a career
as a personal care assistant for children with autism.
Lani's weekly picks
Friday, June 7 - Zumba Dance For Hope fundraiser for Rutland County
Relay For Life at Peak Performance Studio, Howe Center,
7 p.m., 772-7339.
Sunday, June 9 - The 37th Annual Crowley Brothers' Memorial 10K
Road Race Half Marathon and the 5K race are Sunday at 8
Sunday, June 9 - The Vermont Center for Dance Education recital at
the Paramount Theatre, 2 p.m.
Sunday, June 9 - The Dismas House 23rd annual Dinner & Auction
at the Holiday Inn, 4 p.m. registration. Keynote speaker is Richard
Tuesday, June 11 - The first Summer Sunset 5K Running Series at
Pine Hill Park. 6:30 p.m. trail run.