By Lani Duke
Rutland’s Public Works Department is not responsible for any mailing from the “American Water Resources of Vermont” that offers “water and sewer line protection services.” Although its website bears an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, the company is engaging in suspicious business practices, especially with the “second notice” notification without evidence of a “first notice.”
“The Department strongly advises anyone who receives such a notice to fully investigate the company and their products before responding. Furthermore, it is the opinion of the Department that the price of water and sewer line protection program is exceedingly high given the magnitude of the risk faced by most property owners,” according to communication from Jeff Wennberg, head of the department.
Art in the Park has filled all its vendor spaces for the first time, Chaffee Art Center director Margaret Barros said recently. The Aug. 9-10 event had 100 vendors, two with double booths.
Main Street Park, the site of the semi-annual art extravaganza, also sports a new installation, a 6’8” tall, 8’ long sculpture of a moose, made of rebar and scrap metal by Steven Mestyan Sr., of Hampton, N.Y. So emblematic of Vermont, the moose will stay in the park for at least a year, and will likely move across Main Street to stand on the front lawn of the Chaffee Art Center.
Local landlords are gathering support for a state legislative bill that would aid property owners in evicting “squatter” tenants. The initiator of the effort is landlord Bob Marrama, who is seeking to evict “tenants” who moved into one of his rental units as guests of an approved tenant. When the tenant moved out, the two stayed, but without a contract with Marrama.
Representative Larry Cupoli plans to offer the bill to the state assembly. Thaddeus Lorentz is the attorney for the Vermont Rental Property Owners Association supporting the legislation.
Vermont law is lenient on tenants who were paying rent but have stopped paying. They are considered tenants and have legal protection, as does anyone who has rented a specific hotel room for a minimum of 30 days.
A simple trespass order should be able to bring about the removal of a squatter who has no agreement with the landlord, Lorentz says. But Rutland police chief James Baker has advised caution in landlord-tenant disagreements, saying the wrong steps taken by law enforcement can open the city to liability suits.
Second chance for drug offenders?
A recent roundup of drug offenders resulted in charges against 27 individuals. But seven of them may receive leniency if they agree to and follow through on drug addiction treatment programs.
Local and state officials hope a strategy used in High Point, N.C., will be effective in reducing violent crime and drug trafficking numbers. Breaking the precedent of denying Rutland Drug Court programs to those accused of felony drug charges, counseling and support professionals will offer help to seven of those charged, to overcome their addiction. The offers will occur Monday, Aug. 18, within moments before they are to go to court. In accepting the assistance, they knowingly waive their legal rights to contest the charges and must enter guilty pleas.
And others in legal straits
Rutland-based Casella Waste Services agreed to pay the state of New York and alter some waste-hauling contracts to settle charges of anti-competitive business practices in upstate New York. Casella must also notify the New York Attorney General if it acquires smaller competitors in St. Lawrence, Franklin, Clinton, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, Steuben, Schuyler, Chemung and Tompkins counties.
Although Casella vice president Joe Fusco believes his firm’s service contract is an industry standard, the New York AG disliked duration and termination clauses. In Vermont, the AG had similar concerns that resulted in settlements in 2002 and 2011.
Bill Carris, former state senator from Rutland County and former president of Carris Reels, recently received misdemeanor charges for driving under the influence of drugs and reckless or grossly negligent operation of a motor vehicle. This past May 27, he crashed head-on into another vehicle on West Rutland’s Clarendon Avenue after veering into the oncoming lane. The driver of the other vehicle involved received minor injuries and was treated at Rutland Regional Medical Center. Carris pled innocent to the charges.
State police investigators said Carris appeared unsteady on his feet, with a slight sway and impaired balance. Less than three hours post-crash, a blood test found traces of caffeine, an anti-anxiety drug (Diazepam), a prescription pain medication (Tramadol), and an anticonvulsant drug (Lamotrigine). Family members say Carris ceased drinking alcohol completely more than 45 years ago.
Habitat for Humanity returns
A new chapter of Habitat for Humanity intends to put part of its focus on northwest Rutland City, according to Chris Heintz of Wallingford, president for the organization’s board of directors. Organization plans call for fundraising and identifying partners who want to participate.
The Christian housing ministry builds affordable housing around the world, with help from the prospective homeowners themselves, who develop “sweat equity” by working on the construction of their new dwellings. Rutland’s previous Habitat for Humanity chapter closed in 2003.
New urgent care open
The former Blockbuster Video at the corner of South Main and Park streets has a new use. ClearChoiceMD recently opened an urgent care clinic next to the fairgrounds, to treat episodic, non-life-threatening illness and injury and to provide X-rays and lab tests as well as dispensing IV antibiotics, in essence providing many of the services of an emergency room.
Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, it plans to employ a staff of 13 to 15. The company is new to Vermont, having opened clinics in Berlin and St. Albans since the first of the year. Additional clinics will open in Brattleboro Aug. 20 and in South Burlington before the end of the year.
A look at Rutland’s downtown shows more retailers than at any other time in the past 15 years, an indicator that Rutland Downtown Partnership director Mike Coppinger views with optimism. A successful series of Friday nights on Center Street and the free summer film series at the Paramount Theatre on Tuesdays has drawn visitors to the downtown business community.
Downtown now looks forward to Friday, Aug. 29, when the Killington Motorcycle Classic parades into downtown, bringing some 800 touring bikes to the community. Satin & Steel will perform that weekend as well. The Partnership plans a series of promotions for November and December, Coppinger promises.
Coppinger says he’s in favor of replacing Rutland’s downtown parking meters with ticketing kiosks. Doing so would reduce clutter and make snow removal easier. There would be more room on the sidewalks. Kiosks are most often one of two kinds: they may accept credit cards and/or cash. The “pay and display” variety produces a paper ticket which the driver puts under his windshield or on the dashboard. But Coppinger prefers the type in which the driver enters the license plate number of his or her vehicle. In addition to being more convenient because the driver need not double back to put the paper ticket on the vehicle, this kind of device may provide valuable information to the city’s marketing experts: what state out-of-town visitors come from and when they visit Rutland. The more centrally located (and fewer) kiosks would also trim labor costs and be more theft-proof. As few as ten kiosks have the potential to replace a large proportion of the city’s approximately 400 parking meters.
Lani’s weekly picks
Thursday, Aug. 14–West Rutland School’s Rock Lab performs in the final concert on the West Rutland Town Hall green. 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 15–Nationally recognized non-profit Patriot Brass Ensemble performs at Rutland Free Library, 10 Court St. 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 15–Paramount Theatre, 30 Center St., welcomes a concert by Gov’t Mule. 8 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 16–White Pool, 21 Avenue B, Rutland, hosts a send-off party for Bethany Bosch, who plans to travel to England next month to swim across the English Channel to France. 1-6 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 17–Rutland City Band performs in Main Street Park, Rutland. 7 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 18–Ride along in the Droopy Pedal Mountain Bike Ride, a 6 to 8-mile ride through Pine Hill Park. 6:30 p.m.