The Mountain Times

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News briefs from the Rutland region (1)

Hobby Lobby buys the former grocer for $3 million
National arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby has purchased the old Hannaford grocery building on South Main Street in Rutland, with intent to appear soon before the city's Development Review Board with plans for re-developing the property. Among the changes are removing the peak on the façade and a number of other cosmetic alterations.
The 47,000-square-foot structure has stood vacant since early 2008, when the Hannaford supermarket moved to the Green Mountain Shopping Plaza. Hobby Lobby purchased the former grocery for $3 million, buying it from Martin's Foods of South Burlington.

Contaminants and pesticides affect 145 local homes
145 Rutland County homes have been tested, with 33 yielding positive results for contamination with the potentially deadly neurotoxin chlorpyrifos, a pesticide banned for indoor use since 2001. All these homes were sprayed by Cary Buck, owner of AAA Accredited Pest Control of North Clarendon, who treated some 437 homes in the area since 2009. Only a few of the homes have shown pesticide levels high enough to call for evacuation; most of the properties' owners remain living in them; however, it is possible that household pets living in the homes have died as a result of the spraying.
Authorities refuse to comment on whether the occupants have reported health conditions that could be a result of the spraying, citing a breach of medical confidentiality, but note that it is hazardous to children and pregnant women. Neil and Patricia Whitney of 10 Chaplin Ave., Rutland, had to move out of their home after Buck sprayed the building. They are suing the state's Agency of Human Services for hiring Buck to eliminate the bedbugs brought in by a state-sponsored foster child who came to live with the Whitneys in April 2012. The family's attempt to rid the house of the pests failed; so did that of a New York-based company brought in by the Department of Children and Families. DCF then hired Buck's company, who sprayed the home in April 2013, leaving behind so much liquid residue and kerosene-like stench that the family could not stay in their house.
Named in the suit are Human Services secretary Douglas Racine, DCF commissioner David Yacovone and Rutland DCF district director John Zalenski, claimed as the parties at fault for negligence, deprivation of property, lost wages, expenses, and mental anguish. The family lived for several months in a camper parked at their house or in motels paid for by state funds. They believe they will not be able to ever return to their house, because of high pesticide levels and health risks to their 14-year-old son, who lost 30 pounds and was ill from exposure to pesticides used by the first state-hired exterminator who sprayed their home before Buck did.

Killington Avenue paving
Work recently resumed on Killington Avenue after several weeks in which the busy street's users traversed some 1,700 feet of dirt road, sans asphalt. The Mountain Times was not been able to reach contractor Wilk Paving prior to press, so it is unknown what took so long to start work on the pre-winter portion of paving - putting in contours and the bottom pavement layer - but, regardless, the final layer will not be installed until spring, as initially planned.
Parking progress
The city finally has a completed contract with the state over the downtown parking deck, signed by the state's Buildings and General Services commissioner Michael Obuchowski. Now the city is free to negotiate with LAZ Parking to run the deck on the city's behalf.
The city has a three-year lease plus option to renew for two years. The state will pay the city $50,000 a year in management fees. City and state are to split the cost for a new parking system, offering a variety of options for users.
Few raise concerns on potential new industry at Clarendon plant
The Pepsi Bottling plant warehouse at 2720 Route 7B in North Clarendon has stood vacant for quite some time. But when an industrial company planned to move into the building, bring a couple dozen high-paying jobs with it from Florida, some neighbors became unhappy over its anticipated re-use. They believe it falls outside the parameters of light industrial use, as state on its conditional use permit application.
Farmer Mold and Machine Works Inc. president Jim Gilmour of Middletown Springs says his company builds custom automation machinery for industry, and has been for 80 years. Newer technology doesn't require the oils and other chemicals that seem to be the basis for neighbors' concerns about pollution; instead, it relies on water-based coolants. A recent public forum hosted by the Rutland Economic Development Corporation (REDC) seemed to alleviate most fears, but a few complainants continue to express fear of pollution and lowered property values. Gilmour says he wants his company to use an existing structure, bringing it up to code and energy efficient, improving the space, and becoming an integral part of the community.

Cooling resistance toward groSolar's planned project?
Sentiments were somewhat more amiable at a recent solar project meeting in the Rutland Town offices. Although a number of residents living on Cold River Road had formed "Vermonters for Responsible Solar" in opposition to a proposal for 9,726 solar panels in a 24-acre field on the southeast end of town, most of the 50-some attendees at a project informational meeting approved of the installation. Developers groSolar and Green Mountain Power have a commitment to keep the project on the site for 25 years, groSolar Executive Vice President Rod Viens told the attendees, generating 2.3 megawatts to be used in Rutland County.
During the 90-day construction phase, the project would employ 25 to 40 workers plus subcontractors; for the next 25 years, groSolar would pay Rutland Town $10,000 per year in lieu of taxes.
Both Rep. Thomas Terenzini (R-Rutland Town) and resident Dave Fucci said they are concerned about the project. Terenzini cited its lack of long-term jobs. Both objected to its appearance, saying that the solar panels would not be concealable in the parcel's natural depression, in an area designated for industrial use. Fucci likened the project's appearance to that of "9,762 billboards," roadside advertising banned across the state.
Concern over the appearance that solar panels present on the Vermont landscape vs. the value of the electricity they produce may well eventually polarize community leaders, as evinced in this confrontation. Rutland Economic Development Corp. executive director Jamie Stewart labeled objections to development in a planned industrial site "scary," implying that industrial development and aesthetics must strike a balance.
Terenzini plans to take up solar project regulation when he returns to the state legislature in January, taking a copy of Rutland

Town's latest Solar Facility Siting Standards.
Stafford Tech cuts hospitality and tourism program, adds STEM academy
In recognition of Vermont's changing business needs, Stafford Technical Center is dropping its hospitality and tourism skills program for one that focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (the much discussed STEM approach). The new STEM academy opens in the fall of 2014 with 16 students, at the cost of space and staff to cover the recreation, resort, and small-business management curriculum. Students in the program enter a high-paying, high-demand job field, Stafford director Lyle Jepson recently told the Rutland City School Board.

Lani's weekly picks
Thursday, Nov. 21 - Vermont Environmental Consortium annual meeting and trade show with presentations and workshops at The Opera House, 67 Merchants Row, 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 21 - Country singer Josh Gracin gives concert at the Paramount Theatre, 8 p.m., 775-0903.
Fri.-Sat., Nov. 22-23 - Grace Congregational Church hosts holiday craft fair. 4-7 p.m. Friday, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, 775-4301.
Saturday, Nov. 23 - West Rutland Town Hall hosts the fifth annual Dancing Darkly with the Night of the Living Geeks, a bellydance/fusion event celebrating the best in geek pop culture. 7-9 p.m.