News Briefs
June 29, 2017

Rutland Region News Briefs

Interim fire chief, search committee chosen

Rutland City Deputy Fire Chief William Lovett will formally take on the role of interim chief, once he is confirmed by the aldermen July 3. Mayor David Allaire recommended Lovett for the position when the aldermen met June 19. If confirmed, Lovett’s appointment would begin July 1 and continue until a permanent chief is hired and takes office, according to the Rutland Herald.

Lovett has already been acting as chief since Michael Jones left the department under a separation agreement with the city.

The seven-person search committee — Sharon Davis in her role as Alderman Board president; William Notte, Public Safety Committee chair; two Rutland City Fire department members to be selected by the mayor and the board president; two members of the public; and Allaire himself, in his capacity as mayor — will attempt to identify a candidate in 90 to 120 days. The memo given to the board instructs the search committee to look for the best candidate both inside and outside the department, language that includes but does not preselect Lovett.

Awards and honors

Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore recently gave the organization’s 2017 Canute Dalmasse Award to Wallingford resident Kim Royar, a Vermont Fish and Wildlife biologist. The annual award is for ANR employees demonstrating exceptional dedication to natural resources, public health protection, Vermont’s people, and co-workers. Royar played a key role in reintroducing the American marten to Vermont. Her current position is that of furbearer project leader and district wildlife biologist.

The West Rutland Girls’ Softball team won the Class 4 State Championship, coached by State Representative Tom Burditt.

Registered mortgage broker Nicole Kondziela of Rutland was one of 30 employees named to the Brookshire Bank Honor Roll for volunteer work in their communities. To be eligible, each had to complete a minimum of 150 volunteer hours in the last calendar year.

School merger still stymied

There are still local schools for whom merger status has not yet been settled. The Mill River Union Unified School District is ready to accept students from both Mount Holly and Ludlow, but a major obstacle lies in the path.

First Union 39, which centered on Black River High School in Ludlow, must dissolve. A May 30 public vote to do so was rejected by Ludlow and some Mount Holly voters. Many in Ludlow object to the closing of Black River High School, which is on the Act 46 chopping block. The majority of Mount Holly parents are happy to join Mill River, but in order to do so, Mount Holly must legally separate from Union 39 and the Mount Holly board has hired attorney Pietro Lynn to discern a way to accomplish that.

Sullivan fights on

Christopher Sullivan fights on from jail to gain a measure of exoneration for his conviction following a fatal hit-and-run charge while driving under the influence in Rutland in 2013. Although the sentiment of the community has been against him, Sullivan, a disbarred former city attorney for Rutland, demanded a continuance that would allow expert testimony on the factors that led to his fleeing the scene — a request that Judge Theresa DiMauro denied. The Vt. Supreme Court decided that DiMauro abused her discretionary function by not granting his request. It upheld his conviction but rejected the sentence, ruling he needed more time to have his mitigation expert testify. Although the Court did allow defense attorney Joshua O’Hara to file a brief asking for a lighter sentence for his client in light of his beginning rehabilitation, it is unlikely DiMauro will change her position. The defense attorney also doubts that DiMauro will take Sullivan’s claim of grief and contrition under consideration, O’Hara told VTDigger, June 16.

Sullivan had also requested a public defender, claiming that private legal fees had rendered him broke, although his wife has now stepped forward and posted $50,000 (10 percent) of his $500,000 bail. A new hearing was scheduled for June 29.

Biz bits

The century-old Bank of Bennington has opened its new, full-service branch at 143 Woodstock Ave., formerly Berkshire Bank. The Bank of Bennington drew up its Articles of Association Mar. 26, 1917, and elected officers May 14 that year under the name of Bennington Cooperative Savings and Loan Association. In 1999, it adopted its current name. Events celebrating the bank’s centennial birthday will continue throughout the year.

There are hints of new businesses coming into downtown, but no formal announcements, hinted Steve Costello of Green Mountain Power in a June 15 commentary published in the Rutland Herald. Among the tantalizing prospects are a new juice bar and a new sandwich outlet. Costello hinted too at an additional new eatery and improvements to several downtown businesses.

Rutland Free Library director Abby Noland is resigning to take a position at Gleason Public Library in Carlyle, Mass., a move prompted by health concerns and a desire to be near Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital. Her resignation becomes effective July 7.

The Library board of directors has named Assistant Director Randal Smathers as interim director. The former Rutland Herald managing editor earned a master’s degree in library and information science in 2015.

PEGTV recently promoted Amber Dumas Patch to marketing and communications coordinator and Alex Brownell to field producer for news program Access. Both are former Castleton University interns who became permanent employees as a result of using their talents, Tom Leypoldt told the Rutland Herald.

Heavy rain imperils Dunklee Pond dam

Concern that an earthen dam on Dunklee Pond might fail led city workers to consider evacuating three to five homes for a short time June 19, Rutland City Mayor David Allaire informed the Rutland Herald. The fire department approached homeowners downstream of the dam, but they did not need to be evacuated. Interim Fire Chief William Lovett called Allaire about 9:15 p.m.; the mayor joined firefighters, police, and Public Works staff at the site.

An emergency order prepared by state Agency of Natural Resources Department of Environmental Conservation Dam Safety Engineer Benjamin Green may trigger more intensive inspection of the privately-owned dam and possible water lowering in the pond.

An estimated 1.43 inches fell, nearly all of it within a brief downpour. Sewer backups came out manholes at multiple sites; all four sewer overflows on East and Otter Creek were in use, and the transit center flooded. Inflatable barriers held it back before the flooding became critical, and the waters had begun to recede by 10:30 p.m.

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