On August 10, 2016

Alderman Board: Bloomer resigns, Gides replaces

RUTLAND CITY—A new baby and a new job won’t leave Alderman Matt Bloomer enough time to fill the requirements of his city position, Bloomer announced July 28. He intends to resign Tuesday, Sept. 6. Bloomer’s first child is scheduled to arrive in October. His new job is with his father’s law practice. His two-year term would expire this coming March.
In ordinary circumstances, being a good alderman requires a great deal of time, Bloomer commented. The refugee resettlement furor has greatly increased the time he has been putting in—30 evening meetings in the last three months, he has said. Although he leaves the city’s legislative body, Bloomer said he will continue to work for Rutland’s revitalization as a founding board member of Rutland Young Professionals.
Mayor Louras announced he intends to appoint George Gides, Jr., to fill Bloomer’s seat, with plans to officially introduce the successor at the end of Bloomer’s final Board meeting. Gides ran for a seat in March, hoping to fill the year remaining of Alderman Jon Skates’ term, a race won by Alderman Vanessa Robertson. A systems analyst for a medical software company, Gides said he’s been reviewing aldermanic meeting minutes and has studied the city charter in respect to the refugee resettlement issue.
Random act of kindness reunites doll with “mom”
RUTLAND CITY—Steve Costello, Green Mountain Power vice president, was driving south on Route 7 when he spotted a child’s doll in the middle of the road, near Rotary Park. He had to pass it, then drove back to pick it up.
Figuring the child was missing her doll, Costello posted pictures of the doll, the doll and his family, and the doll and his friends in a variety of places, networking the images on Facebook. Others shared the image of the doll that was “trying to find” its family.
After about a week, someone suggested the photo be posted to the Rutland Garage Sales page. Kyleigh Potter saw the picture and recognized her daughter’s doll. “Anna” was going home to her “mom” Isabella.
City find itself short on cops
RUTLAND CITY—By this fall, Rutland will be about eight police officers short. Even though the Rutland City Police Department has stepped up recruitment efforts, finding 20 new officers to replace those who retire, are promoted, or leave for other reasons is a difficult task, according to the department.
Commander David LaChance, the officer responsible for recruiting and retaining officers, said replacing 20 percent of the department’s workforce requires a larger pool of applicants. Of the six individuals who applied in June, only two passed the written test, according to Chief Brian Kilcullen.
The Police Academy’s general knowledge test is written at a 10th grade level. All police academy candidates must pass both the written and the physical fitness tests, in addition to a background check and/or polygraph exam.
White’s Pool has gone out for bids
RUTLAND CITY—Construction for the Rutland Pool has gone out to bid, Cindi Baker Wight said August 1. Rutland voters approved roved a ballot item of spending up to $2.5 million to build a new outdoor pool and bathhouse at White Park and renovate the existing pump house. The vote will be on Tuesday, March 1, 2016.
Officials believe the average homeowner will pay $26/year over the 20-year pool bond for a house valued at $150,000.
The White Park Pool served the people of Rutland from 1970 through 2014. Its predecessor, the Rotary Park Pool, provided an escape from summer heat from 1929 through 1972.
River Street Park remains closed while city crews keep working on the mini park.
Bids for the construction of Center Street Marketplace remain open until Aug. 19. The city hopes to see all finishing work completed by spring 2017, with the park to open next summer.
City, union agree on new contract
RUTLAND CITY—A new three-year agreement between Rutland City and the Department of Public Works employees’ union will save the City money and get more done, Mayor Chris Louras said recently. A new pay scale reduces wages for new hires.
Louras brought to the bargaining table a list of similar jobs around the country, complete with their pay scales. Rutland DPW wages were “at the top end of the scale,” said Tom Franzoni, chairman of the city employees’ union DPW chapter. The new contract “was the fair and right thing to do.” The new scale, about an average $5 per hour lower than the old contract, is expected to apply to five hires who will join the department in the upcoming months. The new scale will not affect current employees. The City may save as much as $50,000 to $60,000 in the first year.
The contract also calls for an increase in city pension fund contributions of city and employees, together rising from its current rate of 14.9 percent of salary to 17 percent by fiscal year 2019. Although the 17 percent is above normal costs, it will help to pull the deficit down without placing all the burden on taxpayers, Louras explained.
City workers already pay 20 percent of their health care insurance and have agreed to kick in more for the pension fund, Franzoni noted. The new contract also gives good raises, not so for “over the last several contracts,” he said. At the same time, he said, “We understand where the city’s at and we want to be part of the solution.”
The new contract also allows the City to send road line-painting out to bid rather than having it done in-house. Doing so makes a city crew available for other necessary tasks like sidewalk and ditch repair after water leaks are repaired, Public Works Commissioner Jeff Wennberg commented.
Work remotely in Rutland?
RUTLAND CITY—Rutland City Alderman Matt Bloomer proposed that the City adopt an incentive program that would encourage telecommuters to move to Rutland. His proposal, offered Aug. 1, would help prospective residents buy and rehabilitate properties acquired by the city through tax sales.
Rutland is a great place to live, with a high quality of life, but can’t compete with bigger cities for economic opportunities, Bloomer said. Telecommuters who are prepared to work electronically for companies that may be far away but pay well could enjoy living in Rutland while bringing in outside money to the local economic community.
Bringing in 25 telecommuters would have the same effect of attracting a company with 25 employees, Bloomer wrote in a supporting letter to the Board. Generally speaking, telecommuting newcomers that move to Rutland would either rent or pay taxes; they would buy food and do some local shopping. They might even get involved with the community, bringing sophisticated skills and abilities to bolster the efforts of community projects and organizations.
The Board of Aldermen voted to send the proposal to the Finance Committee, which is already planning to discuss procedures for selling city-owned properties. Bloomer suggested setting such criteria as: presently living outside Rutland County, receiving income from a business that has no physical location within 50 miles of Rutland, and an age range of 18 to 45. He hopes the idea will spark discussions in the future.
Free Paramount movie series begins
RUTLAND CITY—Mark your calendar! August is Free Movies at the Paramount Month, offered every Tuesday, Aug. 2-23 at 7:30 p.m. on the theatre’s big screen in high definition.
The season began with comedy/adventure National Lampoon’s “Vacation” on Aug. 2, the story of a cross-country road trip. Aug. 9 audiences saw adventure/comedy/family movie “Cool Runnings.” Based on a true story, this movie featured the first Jamaican bobsled team to compete in the Olympics.
Next week, Aug. 16, the movie will be “Dazed and Confused,” about the last day of school at a small Texas high school in 1976, a different time with far different ideals of youthful behavior. Comedic coming-of-age flick Ferris Bueller’s “Day Off” rounds out the season, Aug. 23.
Bonus film: on Thursday, Aug. 11, at 7 p.m., “An Inconvenient Truth” will also be screened free of charge.
Paramount unveils new season
RUTLAND CITY—The management of the Paramount Theatre recently announced a widely appealing lineup of entertainment for the 2016-2017 season running from September through June.
On Oct. 17, one-time space traveler Captain Kirk in “StarTrek,” William Shatner delivers a one-man show entitled “Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It …” “Shatner’s World” is a look at the actor’s career—initially a Shakespearean actor, best known as occupant of the captain’s seat, but also author of 30 books and co-starring as an attorney in the TV series “Boston Legal.”
Other solo presenters include cookbook author and restaurateur Lidia Bastianisch on Jan. 28, Radio host Garrison Keillor on Feb. 13, stand-up comic Kathy Griffin on April 30, Brian Regan on May 14, and Rob Bartlett on Oct. 21.
To tickle your funny bone, look to the political satirist group Capitol Steps on Oct. 24 and Irish Comedy Tour, March 18.
In folk, rock, and contemporary genres, there’s the Robert Cray Band on Sept. 13, Art Garfunkel on Oct. 14, Leo Kottke and Keller Williams on Jan. 13, reggae musician Bob Marley on Jan. 20, Beatles tribute “Let It Be” on Feb. 19, Natalie McMaster and Donnell Leahy on March 3, the Steep Canyon Rangers on March 17, and the Del McCoury Band on May 6.
For country and croon fans, country artist Joe Diffie and former Styx frontman Dennis DeYoung, both singer/songwriters, perform Sept. 16 and March 24. Classic pop performers include the Hal McIntyre Orchestra with a repertoire of “100 Years of Sinatra” on Sept. 11, and the Elvis Presley tribute act “Elvis Lives!” on Feb. 2.
More elaborate performances extend from “Fame, the Musical” on Oct. 12; Montreal’s musical-acrobatic Cirque Eloize’s “Saloon” on Jan. 15; “Cheers: Live on Stage” on Jan. 26; and “MOMIX: Opus Cactus” on Feb. 16.
Special kid-oriented shows include the live, PBS Kids’ math-oriented “The Odd Squad” on Oct. 5 and “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical” on Dec. 6.
Tax rate lowered
RUTLAND TOWN—Rutland Town taxpayers face a tax rate slightly lower than last year’s. The town Select Board voted to set the homestead tax rate at $1.535 per $100 of assessed value and the non-residential properties rate at $1.657, in a special emergency meeting held Aug. 4. Those rates are 0.1 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively, lower than last year’s. Most of those tax dollars are used for schools: $1.39 of the homestead rate (up 1.2 percent) and $1.51 of non-residential (up 1.1 percent). Rutland Town is considered a “gold town,” meaning that it pays more in education taxes to the state government than it receives in return.

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