The Mountain Times

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News briefs from the Rutland Region (2)

Schools lead efficiency efforts
Clarendon Elementary was recently recognized as an energy leader. It received an Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star rating, one of 11 schools in the state to do so. Criteria for the award include healthful ventilation, year-round comfort, and high quality lighting. On a 100-point scale, the school received a score of 89; a score of 75 or better assured an Energy Star label.
The state plans a Vermont-wide Project Green School, with the goal of every school attaining an Energy Star rating by 2020. Efficiency Vermont is hoping that some schools will go even further to reach a net zero attainment, producing as much energy as they consume.

Rutland rec dept funding debate
The city's recreation department budget isn't large enough, alderman Tom DePoy believes. More programming and marketing are needed, and he'd like to begin considering multi-use gymnasium construction on the Courcelle site. Recreation and Parks budget is close to $1.9 million; accounting changes make the new figures appear to increase by 1.6 percent. Removing pension contributions from that figure results in a projected total lower than last year by about 0.75 percent.
The department already suffers from lowered participation, DePoy notes. Less participation results in lower revenue. Department superintendent Cindi Wight says she is exploring ways to market more effectively, including the use of social media.
Rail infrastructure to be improved locally
The state plans to spend $8.9 million to upgrade 20 miles of railroad track from Rutland to Leicester, using Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant funds. The state Agency of Transportation predicts using no more than $200,000 in state funds for the project.
In all, combined with other sources, the state's train system are to receive $18.5 million to enhance bridges and track crossings plus rail segment welding. The construction phase creates 122 short-term jobs; there will be 22 long-term jobs remaining once the work is finished.
Getting the work going quickly makes the state ready for the next round of grant funding to complete the Rutland to Burlington connection of 75 miles of track, only 11 more miles to go.

New cell tower planned for West Rutland
Verizon Wireless plans to erect a cell tower in West Rutland to improve wireless coverage. The company is working on its 248a application to the state public service board; it delivered its mandatory 45-day written notice to the town and other recognized stakeholders on Oct. 28.
Siting for the 110-foot monopole cell tower is on the northern section of a 63.6-acre wooded lot owned by Frances Flynn on Robert Lane, about 1,000 feet from the last house at the end of the street and 1,400 feet east of the south end of Pleasant Heights.
Its 50-foot by 50-foot compound is to be enclosed in an 8-foot chain link fence topped with three strands of barbed wire. Monopole and 12 panel antennas are to be painted brown. A prefabricated two-room, 12-foot by 30-foot prefabricated equipment shelter and a 1,000-gallon propane tank will sit on a concrete pad in the enclosure.
Town officials say Verizon representatives should meet with the town select board to explain why and where the tower is needed. Once the application is filed, objectors have 21 days in which they may file comments, ask for a motion to intervene, or request a hearing.

Pipeline unanimously endorsed
Rutland County's state legislators are unanimously endorsing Vermont Gas System's plans for the second phase of its Addison-Rutland Natural Gas Project. They view extending natural gas service to the International Paper mill in Ticonderoga, NY, as reducing the cost of eventually bringing service to Rutland. Switching home and business heating to natural gas is expected to cut consumer costs approximately in half, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions some 25 percent, according to Don Gilbert, president and CEO of Vermont Gas Systems.
Connecting to the paper mill and the resultant revenue translates into lower costs in extending the line to Rutland, a projected $45 million savings that Rutland users won't have to pay. It also speeds up the timetable, trimming some 15 years off the timetable for running natural gas to the city, or in 2020 rather than 2035.
Opponents of the pipeline object to bringing natural gas from Canada because extraction is the result of fracking, bringing up gas from far underground.
However, the legislators note that using gas from Canada displaces using more environmentally destructive, more expensive oil from the Middle East, and allows for easier transition to renewable resources as mandated under the state's official Comprehensive State Energy Plan.

Path projects progress
In spite of winter's rapid approach, work on Rutland's Creek Path has begun. First bids for constructing the second "leg" had come in too high, and project organizers had believed that work would have to be put on hold until spring. But successful bidder Markowski Construction believes that most of the task can be completed other than paving and finish work. Bikers and walkers will be able to use the path from State Street to West Street, crossing a replaced pedestrian bridge, when the builders pack up their tools.
Another community connector is already improved; Baxter Street Alley, connecting West and Baxter, and leading to the Vermont Farmers Food Center, is complete other than seeding and mulching. An empty lot owned by Suburban Propane also recently saw restoration work with a surrounding fence and tree planting. The west approach into Rutland City is growing much more attractive.
Maybe the next improvement to the area will be the 37 Pine St. apartment house, claimed by the city in a 2011 tax sale. The city had considered converting it to public safety and social services office space, with money from a sizeable federal law enforcement grant. However, the federal funding did not materialize, and the building's fate may well be in the hands of the city's General Committee, which is weighing the structure's possibilities. Significant to the building's future is the notation that there were no bidders when the house was offered for claiming at tax sale.

Congratulations to…
Dave Sunderland of Rutland Town and Wendy Wilton of Rutland City, recently elected as Vermont Republican State Executive Committee chair and at-large delegate, respectively.
Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce executive vice president Tom Donahue and all others who worked to restore commercial intercity bus service to Rutland. Service will include a Rutland stop as part of a run from Burlington to Albany, NY, and a line running from Rutland to White River Junction that connects with transport to Hanover, NH. Congrats to Premier Coach, working with the state to finalize daily round trip service that opens connections to New York City, Boston, and Montreal. Stops will include the Rutland transit center and the train station, plus possibly the airport. Expected launch is the first week in January.

Lani's weekly picks
Fri.-Sat., Nov. 29-30 - Rusty DeWees: The Holiday Variety Show at the Paramount Theatre, 30 Center St., 8 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 30 - Rutland Farmers Market, 251 West St., 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 3 - Madeline and the Bad Hat. Attending convent school in Paris and wearing her trademark yellow straw hat, children's book heroine Madeline dances to the Paramount stage during the Paramount's Daytime Enrichment Series at 10 a.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 3 - Mr. Twitters, 24 McKinley Ave., hosts a fundraiser to benefit the Killington Music Festival. Debby DuBay appraises and/or buys your estate jewelry. 5:30-7:30 p.m.