By Lani Duke
New city fire chief receives warm welcome
Rutland City’s Board of Aldermen and many of its firefighters welcomed James L. Larsen, the new nominee for fire chief April 2 at the aldermen’s semimonthly meeting. He had been named the nominee at the previous meeting, with a two-week wait before official acceptance, in accordance with the city’s normal hiring practice.
Larsen led the Farmington Fire Department in Minnesota for two and a half years and was deputy fire chief for Glenside, Ill., for five years before that. Larsen had been the fire chief search committee’s unanimous choice, Mayor David Allaire told the Rutland Herald, describing Larsen as the “right fit.”
Previous full-time fire chief Michael Jones departed the department in June, four months before his contract would have expired. Deputy Fire Chief Bill Lovett became interim chief soon afterwards.
The fire chief search committee chose Mark T. Munroe of New Hampshire as fire chief nominee in February but Munroe decided not to accept the position. Larsen said he is not worried by Munroe’s rejection of the job. He said he is pleased by the large number of firefighters who came to the aldermen’s meeting, believing that is a good start to his new job, indicating their involvement with the selection process.
Business movements and milestones
The Advisory Board Company awarded Rutland Regional Medical Center its 2018 Workplace of the Year award at the organization’s annual summit March 29. RRMC is one of 20 hospitals in the country to receive this award, and the only one in Vermont so honored. Award winners are selected on the level of staff engagement, resulting in higher patient satisfaction and staff retention, and higher safety culture.
Jessi Travers plans to open Unlimited Potential Consignment Boutique, 1436 West St., in May. It will specialize in gently used baby, children’s, and maternity clothing. She is currently accepting consignments Saturdays. The telephone number is 802-236-1593.
Barber shop/hair salon Downtown Gentlemen’s Salon recently opened at 32 Merchants Row in downtown Rutland. It specializes in “a full spectrum of cuts,” trendy to traditional. It is open Monday through Saturday, offering early service at 7 a.m. Mondays and 7:30 a.m. Saturdays. Its telephone number is (802) 558-5359.
Rhonda Nash has joined the Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty Rutland office. She is a graduate of the College of St. Joseph with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management.
Pay taxes online? Soon
RUTLAND TOWN—Rutland Town residents may soon be able to pay their property taxes online, thanks to a redesigned town website, Town Clerk-Treasurer Kiersten Hathaway announced recently. She told the Rutland Herald that she has been working toward that goal consistently since she entered her current position about two years ago. The Select Board hired Imageseekers, a local company, for the town’s website overhaul.
Hathaway anticipates residents will be able to pay their taxes only by September, well after the next scheduled tax payment, due in May. Users will be able to pay by electronic checks as well as credit or debit cards. Users will pay a small additional charge to use the service. West Rutland and Rutland City already accept electronic payments, she observed.
Board supports solar at Thomas Farm
RUTLAND TOWN—The Rutland Town Select Board gave its support to the proposed two-megawatt solar installation at Thomas Farm Dairy April 3, saying the project will present almost no visual handicaps. Nearly all the 17 acres of pasture proposed for the site is too stony for traditional cropping.
Project initiator Triland Partners of Windham, N.H., assured Select Board Chair Joshua Terenzini that the project would not be visible from the road, Terenzini told the Rutland Herald. Triland managing general partner Tom Garden plans to work with the Rutland Regional Planning Commission and the town to assure that the development is a preferred site.
Flory Plaza demolition to start this spring
RUTLAND TOWN—Demolition and excavating contractor Tom Grace of Proctor will begin partial demolition of Flory Plaza, a cluster of dilapidated buildings on Route 4A in Center Rutland, in the spring, John Flory told the Rutland Herald recently. Flory is one of the owners of the derelict former business complex. It had included a diner, motel, and business plaza and housed the Center Rutland post office for many years.
The Albany, N.Y., resident said Grace will take down the buildings and clean up the site. Grace intends to start taking down the two smaller buildings and the hotel foundation in late April or early May, after making sure there is no site contamination, and contracting to remove the debris from the property. Depending on finances, he will work on the plaza building later this year or next year. Grace will then grade and seed the land so that it can be mowed.
Rutland Town Select Board’s unanimous passage of a nuisance ordinance Oct. 17, 2017, gave the town authority to declare dilapidated properties a public nuisance, “a danger or threat to the health, safety, and/or welfare of the public.” Improving the visual quality of the property has been a priority for the town because it is situated at a gateway into the community, Josh Terenzini, Rutland Town Select Board chair, said.
Although the property is so integral to Rutland Town’s gateway, its use is limited. Only a few acres of the 45.8-acre site are suitable for future construction, according to Howard Burgess, Rutland Town head lister. It lies in the Otter Creek and Clarendon River flood plains.
Alderman resigns to meet professional demands
Rutland Alderman Timothy George Cook announced at the board’s April 2 meeting he was resigning from the board as of April 3. In his prepared statement, read at the meeting, Cook said he has new responsibilities from his new position as deputy commander of clinical services for a new field hospital command at Fort Devens, Mass., and he also needs to put more focus on the Rutland business he owns, Convenient Medical Care. He plans to close the medical office at 25 N. Main St., reopening it as a “new and improved clinical entity” during the summer, he said in a subsequent Facebook post.
Cook said he had worked hard to attend meetings but felt he could not “invest the time and attention” that the aldermanic position deserves. But he is not moving to Massachusetts as some have speculated. A U.S. Army colonel and Medical Corps officer, Cook said his new reservist responsibilities focus on preparing the field hospital for potential deployment.
Mayor David Allaire will nominate Cook’s replacement on the Board of Aldermen, to be approved by the board. The interim alderman will serve until the March 2019 election.
Fox Room back in service
The Nella Grimm Fox Room celebrates its reopening with a champagne toast plus wine, beer, and light hors d’oeuvres April 19, 5:30-7, including the story of its history and future. Since 1858 the high-ceilinged lecture hall has been the setting for book readings, lectures, concerts and community meetings. Its ceiling was failing, complicated by the discovery of asbestos, but a safe way to restore the ceiling was found.