By Lani Duke
Winter parking warning
City winter parking rules went in effect Dec. 1, and will continue in place until April 1. Downtown parking is prohibited between 3 and 6 a.m., and on other city streets between midnight and 6 a.m. Cars interfering with snow removal may be towed and owners fined $75 or more.
Council on Aging location more accessible, convenient
The Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging (SVCOA) celebrated its relocation to the former Maple Terrace Residential Care in the Northwest neighborhood Nov. 16 at its annual meeting. The building was acquired and partially renovated with a $300,000 community development block grant through the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development and aid from former Rutland City Mayor Chris Louras.
The new site is much more accessible, Development and Communications Coordinator Kheya Ganguly told the Rutland Herald. The organization provides support services that help older Rutland residents (age 60 and up) continue an independent lifestyle as long as possible. That may include case management or money management, or help with nutrition programs including Meals on Wheels.
The organization’s annual report stated that during the previous year, it had provided more than 200,000 meals to more than 3,500 individuals, placed 240 volunteers, and arranged for case management for 1,400-plus individuals.
Executive Director Sandy Conrad resigned after leading SVCOA for more than seven years.
Mill River among choices as Black River High closes
LUDLOW—Voters in Ludlow cast their ballots 344-172 Nov. 28 to close Black River High and Middle School in Ludlow, in two years. The vote ends a valiant effort on the part of the Ludlow community to keep Black River open even though the tiny district, Union 39, was dissolved. The fate of the Black River school building is undetermined. The school ranks 31st among 56 Vermont high schools with a student population of 172 and a student-teacher ratio of 8.6:1 with 20 full-time teachers, down from 23.8 in 2008, according to the website SchoolDigger.
One issue was the commute time from Ludlow to North Clarendon, over Route 103, which can experience treacherous conditions in winter. Mount Holly also currently sends its children to Ludlow.
Students living in Ludlow and Mount Holly will have the choice of attending Mill River Union High in North Clarendon, Green Mountain Union High in Chester, or a private school. Mount Holly is 25 miles from North Clarendon, with an estimated driving time of 45 minutes, while Ludlow is much closer to Chester, 13 miles and 20 minutes.
Derelict Wallingford property must wait for clean-up
WALLINGFORD—Although the town of Wallingford now has legal title for a seemingly derelict three-acre property on Route 103, one that has drawn numerous complaints from neighbors, cleanup of the property must wait until 2018. The town acquired the site during a tax sale last year, and the prior owner has a year in which to redeem property.
Carol Witham, owner of record, owes $13,000 in back taxes, Select Board member William Brooks told the Rutland Herald. The dwelling on the property was damaged when Mill River overflowed during Hurricane Irene and later burned to the ground. Witham allowed “a couple of trailers and a camper trailer” to be placed on the land, none with incoming electricity, running water, or septic service. Children living in them attend local schools, he commented. Complaints include unregistered dogs and illegal camping, according to the town’s Oct. 2 Select Board minutes.
The town and Department of Environmental Conservation Officer Patrick Lowkes gave Witham a notice of violation for an illegal campground. She has a deadline of Dec. 31 for installing septic service, but Brooks doubts any cleanup can be started before the town actually owns the property.
Merged district pronounced successful
Before merger began, the Rutland South Supervisory Union operated four elementary schools in Clarendon, Shrewsbury, Tinmouth, and Wallingford, and Mill River Union High School, with oversight comprising five districts and six boards and with shared special education and transportation. Today, all five districts are merged into one; it has one 11-member board, a single budget, and a single tax rate; it assumed all debts and assets throughout the district as it formed a regional education district.
Eighty-four percent of the voters approved the merger. Even Tinmouth, seemingly the town with the most to lose as it would lose middle and high school choice for the future, voted heavily for the merger, 234 to 28. Students who were being tuitioned out to other middle and high schools received grandfather exemptions.
Mill River Unified Union School District Superintendent David Younce said the merger has made his job easier: fewer meetings, more time for instructional leadership and to concentrate on the schools themselves.