The Mountain Times

°F Wed, April 16, 2014

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News briefs from the Rutland region

Late June storms flood streets and down trees, cut power
A recent summer rain/windstorm took down trees and power lines, and flooded parts of the city. Nearly 10,000 homes were without power for a few hours. Rutland City Police Dispatch was busy handling incoming and outgoing telephone calls, covering radio transmission for all officers during the storm as well as Rutland City's public works and fire departments; monitoring weather conditions; mapping trees, downed lines and flooding; and coordinating ambulance calls.

Recent storms point to one of Rutland downtown's ongoing problems: moving storm water out of the transit center and other low-lying areas. The city inflates a barrier across the transit center entrance to keep the water out, and sidewalk work has slowed the water flow, but those are not long-term solutions.

Redesigning the drainage system by separating storm water from sewer is the most effective long-term approach, an expensive, lengthy undertaking. Diverting storm water off West Street - water that now flows off West into the Transit Center and floods basements on Center Street and Merchants Row - and sending it directly into East Creek would cost about $6 million, according to estimates. Federal funding for such a diversion had been assured in the past, but then available moneys evaporated.

There's not sufficient time to piggyback a water diversion to the West Street repaving planned as part of reworking the intersection of Routes 4 and 7.

The city is already separating storm water to meet state mandates for Library Avenue, a $5 million project for 2014-2015, if voters approve a construction bond the spring before. A similar project for West Street is next on the city's list, but may superseded by other work believed to be more crucial at the time.

Mill River leadership improvements?
A recent school board meeting at Mill River Union High School proved more divisive than fruitful. MRUHS became eligible for school improvement funds last year, which were used to hire Peter Mello, co-director of Castleton State College's Center for Schools. Mello was to coach the school to better results, working closely with the principal.
As Mello examined the school, he concluded that the school lacked consistent leadership, lacking stability and a recognizable set of expectations. (The school has had six principals in seven years.) Mello helped the principal develop a school improvement plan with the help of school-based committees: it called for revising the school's mission, clarifying leadership issues, improving communication within the school, and addressing student engagement and related concerns.

A year later, too little has been done toward those priorities, according to the school's Teacher Staff association VP Cheryl Hooker. Board chair Brownson Spencer responded by email, that principal Andy Pomeroy had improved in most areas, according to the annual review the superintendent presented at a board meeting earlier in June and especially had improved his communication skills. Spencer asked for more help from faculty, concentrating less on their differences with Pomeroy and more on working to share the principal's vision.
Hooker wasn't happy, saying Spencer's communication was dismissive, and that he had missed the point. She wants a "more appropriate response" and claims the school faces the same issues it did two years ago.


Public safety services education
Rutland City police sergeant Deb Perkins is switching careers, laying aside her badge for a classroom at Stafford Technical Center, teaching the school's public safety services program. She intends to teach what she's learned in more than 20 years in law enforcement, filling a position being vacated by Stafford instructor John D'Esposito, who initiated the program eight years ago.
Housed on the College of St. Joseph campus, the law enforcement program is the only Stafford program both located on a college campus and taught by college instructors, D'Esposito said. Enrollees have the opportunity to earn up to 30 college credits during two years of instruction. If graduates enter the military, their credits add to their rank; if they go on to college, they enter as sophomores.

Fighting crime as a community
Citizen involvement is the way Rutland can free itself from its morass of drugs and drug-related crime, police chief James Baker told the audience at a recent special community meeting. A change in the environment, including community participation, sends a signal to the drug culture, he said. To put common situation in perspective for the audience, Baker told of two individuals who were committing theft to support heroin habits that required a $900-plus daily expenditure.

Reporting suspicious activity is one way to fight crime. So is making yourself less likely to be victimized. Simple things like "taking valuables and keys in from the car, locking doors, and arranging for house checks if going out of town. Don't give criminals opportunity," he said.
As part of Baker's developing approach, the city is divided into sectors, each with its own sergeant to act as liaison. Sector one, including the downtown and part of the northwest, runs east to west from Pierpoint Avenue to North Main Street and as far north as Vernon Street, and is assigned to Sgt. Matthew Prouty. The rest of the northwest neighborhood is assigned to Sgt. Joseph Bartlett.

Sgts. Debra Perkins and Cpl. Gregory Sheldon oversee sector two, the southwest neighborhoods. Sgt. Kevin Stevens oversees sector three, all of the city east of Route 7. To report activity or concerns in any of these neighborhoods, call 773-1816.

Tourism by rail, a promising beginning

The Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts recently rode the rails into Rutland, the first Mass Bay RRE excursion over the Green Mountain Railroad since the group rode the "Whitehall Excursion" in May 2004. The "Rutland Rocket" came from Bellows Falls, arriving during the Famers Market at Depot Park, seeing Rutland at its best.

Alderman Ed Larson said he believes the occasion is a great time for Rutland area folks to come to the depot and learn about local railroad history. It also provided the railroad enthusiasts aboard the train with good feelings about Rutland, encouraging them to return to Rutland on future travels.

Chaffee improves entrance, holds classes
Although children's programming will continue through the summer in the Chaffee Art Center, other activities in the building are on hold until the Chaffee's Juried Artists Exhibit, which opens Friday, August 2. The reason for the shutdown is the interruption in traffic flow and possible safety hazard brought about by masonry work on the front steps and the porch's stone foundation.

The Chaffee Art Center has already begun its series of summer programming for children, a summer that studies different cultures, paper-based arts, storytelling, and digital arts. Classes appeal to a variety of different age groups, and include a young adult writing workshop for people 18 years old and older. Evening art classes for adults include painting and figure drawing.


Lani's weekly picks
Thursday, July 4 - Don't mess a day of fun at the Vermont State Fairgrounds. The BROC flea market/'craft fair begins at 9 a.m. Stoney Roberts Demolition Derby begins at 6:30 p.m. The Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce fireworks light up the sky at 9:45 p.m.
Friday, July 5 - Chaffee Art Center and the Rutland Area Farm & Food Link partner to present the Farm/Food Show at the Chaffee Downtown gallery, 75 Merchant Row. Artwork by Betsy Hubner and Amy Mosher plus other artists. 775-0062.
Tuesday, July 9 - Summer Sunset 5K Running Series at Pine Hill Park at Giorgetti Park. 6:30 p.m. trail run, 773-1853.
Wednesday, July 10 - Rutland Rec sponsors free dance class in Main Street Park. This week it's TangoFlow!® with Cathy Salmons. 12-noon. 282-1092.
Wednesday July 10 - Marble City Swing Band performs in Main Street Park, 7 p.m.
Wednesday and Thursday July 10 and 11 - The Paramount Theatre hosts God of Carnage, an award-winning, strong-languaged comedy of two couples who try to civilly discuss a playground fight between their sons. Ahem! Learn how they really feel! 775-0903.

Tagged: News Briefs, Rutland Region