On December 7, 2016

Rutland Region – News Briefs

Police recognized for bravery, service, saving lives
RUTLAND—The Police Service Award went to Cpl. Damon Nguyen during the Rutland City Department’s third annual awards ceremony Dec. 1. Nguyen had stopped an altercation between a man with a baseball bat and another brandishing a running chainsaw, surrounded by a crowd of about 40 last March. He had been merely bringing in a prisoner arrested for DUI when he noticed the altercation, drew his gun, persuaded the belligerent pair to drop their weapons, and controlled the audience until backup arrived.
Seven officers received Life Saving Awards for their performance in a variety of perilous incidents. Those included performing CPR on an overdose victim, disarming a man attempting suicide, and stopping a woman in a holding cell from strangling herself with a sweatshirt drawstring.
While he was on vacation, Officer Nathan Harvey saved the life of an elderly diner at a Lake Placid restaurant by realizing that the individual was in cardiac arrest rather than choking and Harvey performed CPR instead of the Heimlich Maneuver. Sgt. Gregory Sheldon received the James W. Baker Award for outstanding leadership in recognition of his work connecting the department with social service agencies.
Mayor Christopher Louras praised the department as an example to the state, transforming the department and themselves into an example of integrity and trust.
White Pool design smaller, simpler
RUTLAND—The Recreation and Parks Department planned to submit a smaller, less complex design for Rutland’s municipal pool to the Recreation Committee at its December 1 meeting. Bids to construct the structure as designed far exceeded the city’s estimate.
As amended, the design shows a single pool, without a diving board or separate diving well. However, it is deep enough that a swimmer could dive from the side and swim team members may dive from their starting blocks. A curving area from 21 to 30 feet includes water features and a zero-entry slope before the 75- by 30-foot competition area begins with depths from four to eight feet.
Four feet is deep enough for diving from a block into the water or making a flip turn in competition, Recreation Superintendent Cindi Wight said, noting that the local swim team coach has approved the designed pool’s dimensions.
The smaller pool can accommodate fewer users at a time, from 380 to 296. The new design has only one family changing room rather than two and the community room off the bathroom is also off the design. Infrastructure in the design allows adding a slide later at an estimated cost of $22,000. The design size is similar to that of the acclaimed new pool in Quechee, Wight said.
The $30,000 in the city budget for temporary employees at the pool may be moot. Wight said she has given up on having the pool done in time for use during any part of 2017.
The Recreation Committee was unimpressed with the scaled back design and took no action on the reduced design during the group’s Dec. 1 meeting. Alderman Thomas DePoy said he would rather the poolhouse be scaled back as much as possible with those resources put into the pool itself. “We can build onto a building … expanding a pool can’t happen,” he explained.
Before the group reconvenes, members plan to read and digest the proposal. No date has been set for the group’s next meeting.
Given design approval, the city can have new construction documents fast-tracked and go to bid quickly, Wight said in a recent email. She also appeared before the Board of Aldermen Nov. 21 asking approval to hire an architect for the design and estimate of a gymnasium at the Courcelle Building, 16 North Street Extension. The board approved hiring NBF Architects of Rutland, using funds generated by the basketball and volleyball programs. Alderman Gary Donahue dissented.
Budget funding Center Street Alley
RUTLAND—The budget Rutland Mayor Chris Louras sent the Board of Aldermen included $175,000 for the Center Street Alley project, an amount city officials say will enable completion of the stalled community asset. It would turn the hollow center of the block (part of it was once a livery yard) into a plaza that can become a new “front door” for businesses and a venue for downtown events.
The city already has a federal appropriation for slightly less than $1 million that can be used but it is not quite enough to meet the bids turned in. The city may add in $50,000 pledged by the Rutland Redevelopment Authority and grant funds that organization and the Rutland Economic Development Corporation (REDC) are pursuing. Louras anticipates those additional grants would yield $225,000 to $250,000 for the construction.
Public space development is “critical to vitality” and to continued investment, REDC executive director Lyle Jepson said. Expectation that the alley would be developed have been driving some investment, including that of property owner Erica Balestra, who purchased and has been renovating two downtown buildings based on that outcome.
The Recreation Committee agreed to the $175,000 inclusion in the city’s tentative $21.3 million budget at its Nov. 28 meeting. The full aldermanic board will consider this item in its final budget meeting.
Although none on the board have registered opposition to this particular budget inclusion, several of them are unhappy with the size of this year’s budget as proposed, about 10 percent more than the previous fiscal year. Because the project is not an essential part of the city’s operations, aldermen may choose to remove it from the budget and place it on the town meeting ballot as a separate item.
As a separate item, the sum asked for may be reduced from the anticipated $175,000 if the contractors bidding on the budget turn in smaller totals as they turn in their re-bids on the project the first week of December.
Aldermen look at recreation budget as a whole
RUTLAND—Although the Recreation Committee approved all sections of the entire recreation budget as presented by Mayor Chris Louras, the full Board of Aldermen is unlikely to give such blanket approval. Among the individual items under question is the $15,000 requested to rebuild a compressor at Giorgetti Arena.
If the compressor were to fail, it would do so without warning and the ice would be gone, Parks Director Bob Peterson explained. Postponing a rebuild puts the arena’s functioning at risk. Alderman Scott Tommola noted that on a warm day the rink would lose its ice in a few hours if a compressor failed.
Godnick Adult Center’s budget includes $9,000 for refinishing the floor so it is better suited for the senior fitness programs it currently hosts. That $9,000 is a local match for $9,000 in grant funds, Recreation Superintendent Cindi Wight said.
Library reforming finances
RUTLAND—A new accountant at the Rutland Free Library recently improved the library’s accounting practices and found that the organization had been misusing money from an endowment fund. The library will no longer dip into the Nella Grimm Fox Fund for operating expenses; the endowment had been established more than a century ago to pay for book purchases.
The library has asked the city for an increase in its portion of the municipal budget, from $717,061 to $752,914. The library still will have a $42,000 loss.
RFL is careful to avoid seeking all its support from municipalities, Director Abby Noland commented. An ad hoc committee is exploring other options that include soliciting funds from potential donors and scaling back financial outlay. The library may also attempt to change the terms of the Fox endowment, Noland said, evaluating the document as “ancient language” that “really doesn’t address a modern library.”
The aldermanic Recreation Committee reviewed the library budget during its Nov. 28 meeting and unanimously approved it as proposed. As with other city departments, the library’s budget is then reviewed by the Board of Aldermen and then joins the city budget on the March ballot.
The library serves 400 patrons a day, according to documents distributed at the committee meeting. Program attendance is up, with 11,500 people attending events at the library last year, although all programs are free. For the past two years, circulation has increased two percent per year.
Downtown clothing store closing doors
RUTLAND—Christine Tattersall is retiring after 21 years of selling women’s clothing in downtown Rutland. Tattersall is retiring at age 75, closing the store in January. She says the time has come for her to do things for herself. Although she will miss the customers and merchants who have been part of her daily life, Tattersall says she will not miss the hour-long but beautiful commute from Grafton. She looks forward to having time to running with her friends including those in Rutland, and to having time to garden and travel with her husband.
In the meantime, she intends to keep the store open as she marks down goods for a retirement sale; its hours will remain 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Working out the bugs in downtown parking
RUTLAND—They sound like a good addition to making parking payment easier, but that’s only if they function well. There are complaints that individuals find their credit cards rejected when they try to use the new electronic parking meters on Merchant Row and Center Street.
Rutland City installed the parking kiosks downtown in August. Purchasing the nine kiosks for $83,630 was intended to reduce the maintenance and to help enforce the two-hour parking limit in downtown.
Some machines require service on a weekly basis or more often, Public Works Commissioner Jeffrey Wennberg admitted. The problem lies in the printers, not the kiosks themselves, he explained. The faulty parts have been replaced; the machines remain under warranty.

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