News Briefs
July 12, 2017

Rutland Region News Briefs

By Lani Duke

Downtown’s changing face

The Bookmobile has moved to 17 Center Street, near Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum, and double its original square footage, on June 1. Owners Ruthellen Weston and Donald Babcock had opened the original store on Merchants Row in October 2012. They specialize in used books but offer new titles, children’s books, greeting cards, puzzles and fun stuff too. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Local employee sues Walmart for failure to accommodate disability

A promotion to department manager at Walmart without the company’s making reasonable accommodation for her physical limitations led to Lisa Velez suing the company that had employed her since 1998. She sued for unspecified monetary damages.

The company’s national media relations director, Regan Dickens, told VTDigger that Walmart has not had time to review the allegations, but plans to do so and respond appropriately. The retailer has a policy of not tolerating discrimination and providing reasonable accommodations for thousands of associates, she said.

The cerebral palsy that Velez has had since she was born limits use of her left hand, arm, leg, ankle, and foot, according to the lawsuit. Her employer knows Velez is limited in her ability to lift, hold, climb, walk, and balance, the suit indicates.

Rutland store officials promoted her to department manager for toys, stationery and crafts in July 2015, but among the duties of that position are ascending a 12-foot ladder to recover and stow some items. Although she feared falling and dropping items Velez tried to do the work, but her disabilities slowed her performing the necessary work. After two months as manager, she asked for a transfer but was told she would have to complete six months in that position before she could be transferred. After her initial request was rejected, Velez submitted a written request for reasonable accommodation and a doctor’s note saying she shouldn’t reach above her head while more than three feet above the floor on a ladder and should be able to ask for help.

Store management didn’t meet with Velez regarding accommodation until after the first of the year, when she met with the company’s regional manager. The lawsuit said that the manager did not appear to know about her request for accommodation. Velez then received reprimands for poor performance in Feb. 26 and March 4, a date when she was told that she could take a lower-paying position. Believing she would be fired if she didn’t take the alternative job, she accepted the newly offered job.

Her suit, filed by Rutland attorney James Levins, said the reprimands and demotion were unlawful retaliation, and that she suffered from emotional distress, physical pain, anguish, and lost income.

White Pool bathhouse renovation considered, deemed “salvageable”

NBF Architects is willing to study whether the current bathhouse at White Pool can be reasonably renovated, Rutland Recreation and Parks Superintendent Cindi Wight told the Board of Aldermen July 3.

The local architectural firm is willing to add in the study at an increase of $4,000 to the cost of its present contract for building a gymnasium at the Courcelle building.

The additional work would weigh whether such an overhaul is more feasible than completely tearing down the existing toilets and showers, and rebuilding from the ground up.

An initial structural engineer’s look at the building indicates it is “salvageable,” Wight said, but a more in-depth study is necessary to estimate renovation cost, according to the Rutland Herald.

The contingency fund in the current construction plan may yield some of the refurbishing funds. but only if no or few contingencies arise during the pool’s fabrication, Wight said.

England trip convinces sheriff to use body cameras

During a visit to Rutland County in England’s East Midlands, Sheriff Stephen Benard of Rutland, Vt., and his British counterparts exchanged ideas for effectively doing their jobs protecting the public safety.

His conversations there encouraged Benard to stop waiting for the Vermont attorney general’s office to approve the use of police body cameras.

Seeing the efficacy of closed-circuit television security cameras, mounted in numerous public places and monitored, Benard decided to start using the body cameras he had sitting in his office, he told the Rutland Herald last week.

Benard said he would like to install CCTV cameras in high crime areas, perhaps in stores that are often robbed, but expects that objections would be numerous.

Rutland Town School on new course

After two years of study in compliance with Act 46, Rutland Town School found there are no comparable district merger partners available in the region. New legislation, Act 49, “enables Rutland Town to remain as an existing district offering Pre-K-8, while maintaining secondary school choice,” Principal Aaron Boynton wrote in the June 2017 “The Circle,” the town and school district’s community newsletter.

The School Board voted to send a proposal to the state Board of Education in August that RTS remain an existing district with secondary school choice and remain a member of the supervisory union. Given state approval, voters must also approve both remaining a separate district and being a “side” in the supervisory union. If voters approve those proposals, the realignment will go into effect July 1, 2018.

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