News Briefs
March 16, 2016

Rutland Region

Act 46 district votes on name

Mill River area voters decided the name for their school district should be Mill River Union School District 40, rejecting the alternative name of White Rocks. In addition to Mill River Union High School, it contains Clarendon, Wallingford, Shrewsbury and Tinmouth elementary schools, with leadership by a single 13-member school board. Each town will continue to maintain its unique grade school, pre-K through grade 6.

Trails closed

The Rutland Recreation and Parks Department is asking people to please stay off the trails until the weather is a little warmer and the ground is firmer. As frost leaves the ground, trails soften and can be damaged by hikers and bikers.

The first organized event at the park is April 17. It is a night stroll on the Carriage Trail, led by naturalist Tom Estill, “listening to the call of owls, foxes, coyotes and frogs.” Check out the website pinehillpark.org for events, including the March 28 annual dinner.

Thank you, Larry Jensen

After six years of leading the Rutland City Police Commission, Larry Jensen, has announced he will not ask for reappointment. He reviews his success, saying that the police department has “adopted a service culture.”

Jensen successfully steered the department through police misconduct and racial discrimination accusations as well as other revelations. Several officers resigned and Vermont State Police Col. James Baker was hired as the new police chief in January 2012 and the department turned around to concentrate on community involvement. Crime has dropped. Rutland neighborhoods are learning to work together and with local law enforcement. New Chief Brian Kilcullen is leading the department in new, positive directions.

Thank you, Larry, for your hard work in realizing these changes.

Moon Brook studies to continue

Rutland’s board of aldermen voted March 7 to build on an earlier study by DuBois & King in a search to identify which of the identified options best resolve the conflict over Moon Brook. Possible solutions range from removing the dam completely to making a number of other adjustments that leave the pond intact while reduce the amount the water is warmed. Plans may also include Dunklee Pond on Tenney Brook.

Both city and state regulators agree that it is likely the water becomes too warm in Combination Pond and Piedmont Pond. According to city sources, the dam at Combination Pond is uninsurable.

Doing nothing to rectify the situation may trigger interference from the federal government, with a possible $45 million price tag, city officials fear.

Newly elected Rutland Town Select Board gets to work

A unanimous vote placed Selectman Joshua Terenzini at the head of Rutland Town’s Select Board March 8.

Ecos Energy spokesman Brad Wilson approached the new town board, offering both money and a decreased project size for his company’s planned solar development on Cold River Road. Under the name Otter Creek Solar, the company wants to build a 7.1 megawatt system on 50 acres east of Diamond Run Mall.

Residents who live near the project are objecting to plans for clear-cutting the forest cover. The company has responded to neighbors’ worries with plans to retain a buffer of trees between the solar arrays and the road, planting mature evergreen trees on top of shielding berms. But numerous individuals say they are still unhappy with the project, especially those who live in houses facing the site from Cold River Road.

David Fucci, also a Cold River Road resident, said he has met with the Ecos developer and is satisfied that the company has intentions of fulfilling its agreements, but that  may not be true of main Ecos shareholders Thomas and Michael Melone, who themselves fought against wind turbine development near their Cape Cod home because of aesthetics and surrounding property values.

Ecos has announced plans to eliminate some 800 kilowatts in hardware from the northern side of the project because natural barriers are incapable of hiding the project well, Wilson commented. Another amelioration Wilson brought up is moving arrays to reduce their visibility interlinking them with a Class 2 wetland, a process requiring additional permitting. The wetland, already studied under ANR, has no endangered animals or rare habitats, nor is a wintering habitat for deer.

Wilson also proposed a monetary award for the town, either in the form of a one-time developmental impact fee or sponsorship for a town-owned solar set, with a net-metering process that could offset the town’s electricity bills.

The board made no decision on accepting or rejecting Wilson’s offers.

The town continues to await a Vermont Supreme Court decision on its conflict with groSolar, a company awarded an earlier permit to develop another project on Cold River Road, and also partially owned by the Melone family.  The town’s attorneys have told the court that the groSolar project will scar the landscape and that local communities are denied enough influence during the approval process.

Generous donations

Rutland Town seventh graders are working to raise $1,000 raising funds to help buy an “Iron Giraffe” drill that can bring water to towns in the Sudan.

Phoenix Books Rutland owner Mike DeSanto recently gave $2,500 to fund a children’s program at Rutland Free Library.

Thanks to the People’s United Community Foundation, the Boys and Girls Club of Rutland has an additional $7,500 for its summer food program. The club provides more than 11,000 meals per year to local young people. The foundation is the philanthropic arm of People’s United Bank.

Rutland Area Visiting Nurse and Hospice (RAVNAH) is beginning its free spring hospice volunteer training course. Wanted are individuals of all ages and backgrounds, who will visit with patients and their caregivers, mostly in their homes but sometimes in assisted living or nursing facilities. Currently RAVNAH works with 40 to 50 volunteers in Rutland County and the Manchester area.

The course explores the subjects of personal death awareness, planning and preparation for critical health care changes and dying, physical aspects of disease and dying, spiritual and emotional support to patients and families, cultural awareness, and more. To enroll or gain more information, call Hospice Volunteer Coordinator John Campbell, 770-1683.

Local talent gathered at the West Rutland Town Hall March 6 to raise money for the town’s food shelf, performing for an audience of more than 250. The seventh annual fundraiser amassed $2,336. The food shelf served 762 families of 1,610 individuals last year; 325 were children while 106 were age 65 or older.

Volunteer-based nonprofit Therapy Dogs of Vermont plans to offer additional certification preparation clinics, testing sessions, and volunteer opportunities for local residents. Local dogs and handlers will go through a a course of instruction, training techniques and commands. To learn more about the program, access the website at www.therapydogs.org.

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