On April 19, 2017

Rutland Region News Briefs

New pool bids expected soon
Rutland may have a new swimming facility in 2018. The design is finalized and requests to bid have been solicited, City Recreation and Parks Department Superintendent Cindi Wight said. Construction could begin as early as June.
After much reconsideration, the final design is back to that of a two-pool facility. The family pool contains a slide and a zero-entry area; its own dedicated lanes can be used for swimming lessons and fitness classes. The six-lane competition pool includes a diving board but one that is not separated from the rest of the pool. An additional lane may be blocked off for lap swimming, even while the rest of the pool is open for general public use.
The city has $2.3 million for the project, a figure Wight hopes is more than enough by as much as $100,000. Five contractors, two excavating companies, and two pool companies met with Wight on the site April 6, but Wight said bidding is open to others who did not attend.
After voters approved the bond in 2015, project bids came in some $1 million over the estimated cost, a factor that caused city officials to realize the original estimates were too low. Rather than building a a smaller, single pool, the aldermen decided to remove the bathhouse from the proposal with plans to add it later.
Bids are due April 26, with plans to announce the winner May 10. A group of volunteers with design and construction experience have begun to study whether the bathhouse can be refurbished or must be completely rebuilt.

Rutland downtown to get juice bar
A new business is coming to downtown Rutland. It’s a sister store to organic juice and smoothie bar Juice Amour of Middlebury. Katie Churchill is partnering with Juice Amour owner Sheri Bannister on the Rutland outlet.
Although no lease is signed yet, Churchill intends to open downtown, possibly in the Center Street spot that Hawley’s Florist occupied.
Rutland is ready for the healthful salads, soups, acai bowls and chia puddings she intends to offer, Churchill said. She believes Rutland consumers are growing ever more health conscious and aware of the effect the food they choose has on their bodies.

Normal winter’s effect on budget
The Rutland City Public Works Department had a somewhat high overtime outlay this winter, although the season lacked heavy accumulation. A higher number of small storms doesn’t save the city money, however, Public Works Commissioner Jeff Wennberg said recently. Removing four inches of snow requires the same amount of effort and salt as does removing 12 inches, he explained. The city has paid $24,000 for city street workers’ overtime, with the fiscal year three-fourths complete.
The city had a salt and overtime surplus in its budget, thanks to the unusually mild winter of 2015-2016. Although the city spent more on overtime in the current fiscal year, it was easier on workers, Wennberg observed; during some earlier winters, city street workers spent one night per five-day work week on the job.
Although warmer weather may have driven snow away, other weather events, such as high winds, could still precipitate more overtime. So could catching up on winter maintenance.
An increased number of “ice events” and complaints of lawn damage are other oddities of the 2016-2017 winter, Wennberg said. The combination of fluctuating temperatures and light snowfalls left soft ground under the snow. Plow trucks had a more difficult time than normal telling where the streets ended and lawns began, with greater damage resulting than would have occurred if the ground had been frozen harder.

VELCO plans to erect wind and solar info collector building
Vermont Electric Power Co. has filed an Act 250 permit request to erect a 6,845-square-foot structure and a small, associated enclosed structure to house a pair of backup generators on Pinnacle Ridge Road in Rutland Town. The $9.2 million data center building would provide detailed weather information to Vermont power grid operators three days in advance, while housing the VELCO computers that control the state’s electric grid.
The Vermont Weather Analytics Center is a joint project of VELCO and IBM and its Deep Thunder weather research model, VELCO spokesperson Shana Loiselle explained. Her company ran out of room to protect and store data. The new facility would collect wind and solar generation information; its weather information would help grid operators prepare for storms.
The new construction will lie between VELCO’s main office building and its maintenance and warehouse support facility on the 21.4-acre site, classified as a minor development according to District 1 Environmental Commission Coordinator William Burke. The project has been planned since 2014.

Rutland High students in VLS mock trial
Students from Rutland High School joined students from Brattleboro Union High and Southwestern Vermont Technical Development Center in Bennington for a mock homicide trial at Vermont Law School, April 8. The pilot program, organized by U.S. District Judge Geoffrey Crawford, was intended to give Vermont students a taste of courtroom procedure and explore the possibility of a law career.
The students took turns being prosecutors, defense attorneys and their witnesses, with their performance graded by a panel of judges. All three schools had advisers who are either practicing or retired lawyers. RHS senior Jack Ligon was the lead defense attorney for Rutland High School’s first presentation; he  plans to attend the University of Vermont to pursue a law career. The four judges who graded the mock trial ruled that Rutland High School had the best prosecuting team: Victoria Quint, Austin Robinson, and Trevor MacKay; they also decided Rutland High had the best overall team. Judges in the mock trial were Judge Cortland Corsones, Judge Mary Teachout, and U.S. District Court Judge Christina Reiss.

Jensen named sixth CSJ president
After having served as interim College of St. Joseph president for nearly a year, Lawrence Jensen has been selected to take the position on a more permanent basis. Board of Trustees Chair Jim Reddy announced the board’s choice April 7. Jensen said serving as the interim president has been both a privilege and a pleasure, promising to “continue to make College of St. Joseph a place where learning is revered, where students are joyfully pursuing the preparation for their future, and where the faculty and staff are engaged in the growth and strength of the institution.”
During Jensen’s interim leadership, the school has implemented a new strategic plan, completed an “exceptional recruitment cycle,” and taken in the largest private foundation donation in the school’s history.
College of St. Joseph is located on Clement Road, Rutland.

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