Local donations, promotions, awards
William Notte has been promoted to manager of Phoenix Books, Rutland.
Kinney Motors officials presented a $15,497 unrestricted donation to the Rutland County Boys & Girls Club, March 28. Probably, the gift will be used for meals that the club provides.
The National NeighborWorks Association has given NeighborWorks of Western Vermont Executive Director Ludy Biddle its Lifetime Achievement Award. She has also been invited to serve on the Community Development Advisory Group of the federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
The Vermont Community Foundation’s Food and Farm Initiative has given $30,000 to Rutland Area Farm & Food Link to increase students’ access to healthful school meals in Rutland County. The initiative awarded more than $660,000 to 11 organizations, all with the goal of connecting more Vermonters with healthful, locally grown food.
Model-making teams from Rutland High and Rutland Middle School both won their respective divisions in the third annual 3-D Vermont Architecture and History Olympiad, sponsored by the state Agency of Education, Mar. 24. The Rutland High team — Callon Fish, Breanna Franzoni, Brandon Levesque, Victoria Quint, and Giovanni Falco — made models of the Grange Hall, the Eddy House, and the 1914 power station, all in Chittenden. The Rutland Middle School team — Ethan Hall, Augie Louras, Liam Mangan, Todd Morrissey Jr., Steven Savoy, Shelly Sobel, McKenna Sorenson, and Elizabeth Franzoni — modeled the Main Street Park bandstand and the Paramount Theatre.
Mayor Allaire sets priorities
Improving the local economy and the relationship between city residents and the mayor’s office are his administration’s top priorities, Rutland City Mayor David Allaire said March 28. Improving the economy overall encompasses many of the issues Rutland residents decry: vacant downtown buildings, shrinking population, stagnant Grand List, and underemployment. He wants to make sure citizens feel they have a voice in the city’s direction by improving communication channels to a transparent administration. He hopes people will feel as free to talk to him around the city as they have been in the nearly 20 years that he has served as alderman. City Hall is here to serve the people, Allaire opined.
At the April 3 aldermen’s meeting, Allaire has planned to present a list of candidates for his new department heads and promote Matt Bloomer as new city attorney. The aldermen are expected to vote on the candidates at that meeting.
Allaire hopes to develop more communication between the aldermen and the police commission, he said, as he praised both Police Chief Brian Kilcullen and the department. As mayor, he intends to provide more support to Project Vision than he could as an alderman.
Herald refocuses on serving core readership
Officially named editor of both the Rutland Herald and the Barre Times-Argus, Steven Pappas has reassigned reporters to reflect the Herald’s core readership. Both papers have been losing readership in their hometown communities, Pappas said; they will emphasize news from Rutland and Washington counties to build readership again.
Susan Smallheer, formerly concentrating on Springfield news, and Patrick McArdle, formerly focusing on Bennington County, are reassigned to cover Rutland, bringing the Herald newsroom up from one to three full-time reporters. The Times-Argus already has four full-time reporters, including one that covers statehouse news for both papers.
The two papers have widely differing markets even though the same stories may appear in both papers, Pappas commented. He will split his time between the two newsrooms.
The paywall is also returning to the Herald, after being removed when the new owners took possession. Pappas will work closely with Herald General Manager Rob Mitchell, who has been overseeing both newsrooms as editor-in-chief. The Herald has approximately 11,500 subscribers; the Times-Argus, 6,400.
Excessive force suit filed
A lawsuit filed by Rutland attorney Matthew Hart March 23 alleges Rutland City police officer Ryan Ashe drew a gun on Earth Waste Systems owner Kevin Elnicki on a traffic stop for speeding, before dragging him from his truck and slamming his head on the ground. The suit claims Ashe used “unjustified” excessive force.
Elnicki asks for unspecified damages from Rutland City, the Police Department, and Ashe.
The lawsuit alleges that as Elnicki was driving a flatbed truck north on Route 7 in Rutland Town on Dec. 20, a police cruiser flashed blue lights behind him and Elnicki turned in at the Thomas Dairy driveway in Rutland Town. Officer Ashe approached, allegedly pointing a pistol toward the cab and yelling for Elnicki to get out of the truck. When Elnicki was slow to do so, Ashe then climbed up and forced Elnicki out of the cab, the suit states, pinning him to the ground and accusing him of not pulling over sooner. The suit alleges that Ashe told Elnicki he was lucky he had not fired at him.
It’s not clear whether a dash cam video exists.
Community loss in death of Roland McNeil
Many Rutland residents knew Roland F. McNeil III as “Mr. Pepsi” for his years working for Pepsi franchise holder Farrell Distributing and then the Pepsi distributing center until his 2008 retirement. And they knew him for his community involvement: charter member, board member and chair of Crime Stoppers of Rutland; board of First Night Rutland; and membership in the American Legion, Kiwanis Club, and Rutland County Board of Realtors. In 1997, he became V.P. of the Vermont State Fair, then president in 1998-2000. He also played a significant role in the fair’s more recent reorganization.
Mayoral campaign brought record donations
In the recent race for mayor, incumbent Christopher Louras received nearly five times the amount raised by either David Allaire or Michael Coppinger. Campaign finance reports filed with the Vermont Secretary of State revealed that Louras took in $24,872, while Allaire received $5,835 and Coppinger, $5,550. The fourth mayoral candidate, Kam Johnston, collected less than $500, the threshold for filing a report.
The three all reported campaign surpluses: Louras had $445 remaining after spending $24,427; Allaire, $1,387 remaining after spending $4,448; and Coppinger, $393 after spending $5,157. Louras noted that this political campaign marks the first time he actively sought financial support.
RAFFL cooking classes teach making food healthful
The Rutland Area Farm and Food Link’s Mexican cooking classes are the organization’s response to requests for ways to make Mexican food more healthful and are now being promoted as a fundraiser for the Everyday Chef program, now in its final year of grant support. Program coordinator Grace Davy hopes to expand the EDC program with bi-weekly workshops on introductory cooking at partnering organizations around Rutland.
Plans include the interactive cooking workshop, Mastering the Kitchen, with chef instructor Lisa Fennimore. In partnership with the Stafford Technical Center, Fennimore will lead the workshop in Stafford’s professional kitchen, April 13.
The Godnick Center is hosting two EDC courses this summer as well: Cooking for One and The Family That Cooks. Cooking for One consists of a variety of workshops on making cooking for singles pleasant. The Family That Cooks is a series of family-friendly workshops for kids and parents.
Cable subscribers can also pick up EDC’s new PEGTV show, “Local Farmer,” in which Everyday Chef offers thrifty ways to eat well using local ingredients, taught by Rutland area farmers. The first two episodes feature Alchemy Gardens’ Scott Courcelle and Yoder Farm’s Ryan Yoder.