News Briefs
October 5, 2016

Rutland Region

Wallingford crossing repairs
WALLINGFORD—The town of Wallingford has received official notice from the state Secretary of Transportation Chris Cole, that the railroad crossing on Route 140 (Depot Street) is scheduled to be reconstructed next year. The project is complicated by a nearby bridge that also needs repair. VTrans has sent a crew to install a temporary patch. Next year, there will be a brand-new crossing, Cole has assured the town. In the meantime, Cole assured in a letter dated Aug. 4 that the Hartsfield Road crossing was to be repaired this fall.
Legion to celebrate installation
WALLINGFORD—Wallingford American Legion Post #52 plans to dedicate a memorial in honor of the men and women who are serving their country now and in recognition of the support and sacrifices their families make. The memorial takes the form of a vintage M114A2 Howitzer, donated to the Post as a “conditional deed of gift” from the U. S. Army on condition that the cannon and carriage receive a permanent concrete pad to support its 12,800-pound weight. Local businesses, contractors, and private citizens chipped in to help raise part of the funding and contribute material for the pad. In thanks for the community support, the Post invites community members to the dedication and subsequent refreshments on Oct. 9 in the First Congregational Church’s Fellowship Hall.
Seeking planning commission volunteers
WALLINGFORD—Wallingford plans to update its town plan in the coming year and is asking for two more residents to join the town planning commission to get the work done, volunteering two hours a month. As the town looks at the specific revisions that will be on the committee’s agenda, it must focus on revising zoning ordinances that establish local rules for alternative energy projects, resolve al long-standing dispute on industrial district zones, and correct or clarify language in the present zoning ordinance. Without an updated town plan, a town may be ineligible for grants, unable to give property owners Designated Downtown benefits, or have party status in future Act 250 and Public Service Board reviews.
Louras on international municipal management panel
RUTLAND—Rutland City Mayor Chris Louras spoke Sept. 27 on a panel discussing how cities and counties fight the problems created by substance addiction during the International City/County Management Association’s annual conference. Skyrocketing property crimes associated with drug abuse were the tip-off that Rutland had a severe heroin problem, Louras told the panel, but change did not occur until officials realized the problem was too complex for law enforcement to fight alone. “The police don’t have the resources to deal with every tangential issue related to a raging addiction epidemic,” he said.
With the advice of academics from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Rutland applied strategies that had reduced homicides in inner cities, getting branches of law enforcement working more closely with social services, public health, the faith community and the community as a whole. Previously, “we just weren’t coordinating well enough,” Louras said. The seeming triumphs in Rutland do not mean the battle is over, he cautioned. “We need to keep our feet on the gas and not declare victory when we see successes.”
Moon Brook controversy approaches resolution
RUTLAND—The Board of Aldermen unanimously approved a proposed settlement with the state on the future of Moon Brook and Combination Pond Sept. 26, but they cannot say what the details are. According to David Cooper, legally representing Rutland City in this case, the agreement is not “complete” until the state Agency of Natural Resources adds its formal signature of approval. Therefore, the document terms remain confidential.
In broad terms, the agreement is a result of a study that the city and the state agreed to in 2013, Public Works Commissioner Jeffrey Wennberg said. The state has blamed stormwater runoff pollution to blame for Moon Brook’s being poor fish habitat, but the city has blamed the temperature of the water, too warm for the type of fish life the state wants to see in unimpaired water. Combination Pond is partly to blame, the city has claimed.
The study gives credence to both causes, however. Although the study has settled the city’s conflict with the state, the federal lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency continues. The fate of nearby Piedmont Pond, also on Moon Brook, may be no longer part of the controversy since it has been declared a wetland.
Seeking a new pool design
RUTLAND—Rutland City’s Recreation Committee has asked Recreation Superintendent Cindi Wight to request engineers Weston & Sampson to formulate a less elaborate design for replacing White Pool. A smaller single pool has more probability of staying within the $2.3 million budget, while incorporating as many amenities as possible.
Bids on the project had come in nearly $1 million over budget, the Recreation Committee noted in its Sept. 29 meeting. Of the seven options Wight presented to the committee, none were acceptable—they considered eliminating the diving board and pool house and asking voters for more money. Committee members wondered whether a pool house is truly necessary; Wight said her staff is exploring whether the minimum number of toilets, sinks, and showers is set by health and safety regulations, dependent on pool capacity.
Forgoing a diving board would preclude adding one later, Wight commented, saying that much of the $160,000 expense is for the concrete anchoring the board. Alderman Chris Ettori spoke in favor of the “zero entry,” a gentle slope that makes pool access easier for people with mobility difficulties. Abandoning the plan for two pools—one for competitive events and the other for family use—seemed the most likely solution.
Herald, Times-Argus reorganization still in process
RUTLAND—The new owners of the Rutland Herald and Times Argus met with the papers’ employees for the first time Sept. 28. Reade Brower and Chip Harris said they are still evaluating the daily papers, saying they expect to return in three to four weeks.
They also plan to speak with community officials and develop an ongoing dialogue, they commented. The papers will focus primarily on local events and issues, in line with the national trend indicating community papers are the ones that remain viable while news organizations that broaden their focus too widely lose local support.
Overseeing the transition is Chris Miles, treasurer for Maine Today Media, publisher of Brower’s papers in Maine. At the top of the new management’s tasks is developing the most “sensible” publication schedule. It seems likely that both Vermont papers will return to a seven-day-a-week print schedule, in line with Brower’s comment that “part of a daily paper is coming out every day.” However, the papers’ management will be up to the employees, Harris told the staff.
Both the new owners believe the papers can become profitable and sustainable, Brower said, with the caveat that “you can’t cut your way to prosperity.”

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