On May 18, 2017

Lakes Region News Briefs

Three Rutland County students recognized in art competition

U.S. Representative Peter Welch, D-Vt., hosted the the Congressional Art Competition at Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier, and recognized three local students.

Eli Sanderson of Center Rutland, a student at Long Trail School, won for his piece, “Powder Daze.” Kristen Drew of Wells, a student at Poultney High School, won for “Fire in the Forest.” Matthew Harte of Ira, a student at West Rutland School, was recognized for his piece, “Chickadee.”

The Congressional Art Competition is a nationwide high school visual art competition. Students submit entries to their U.S. representative’s office and local artists in each district select the winning entries. The winning pieces are displayed for one year in the tunnel leading from the three House office buildings to the U.S. Capitol.

Budgets, Act 46 unification passed in western Rutland County; some education positions hard to fill

Voters in Castleton, Fair Haven, Benson, Orwell, and West Haven cast their ballots May 9 to approve the Fair Haven Union High budget, 615-511. Fair Haven voters passed the budget for Fair Haven Grade School, while Castleton and Hubbardton voters approved the budget for the Castleton-Hubbardton Supervisory Union.

Some of these voters also cast their ballots on a longer-term issue. Fair Haven voters changed the course of their participation in the Act 46 merger. In March the electorate declined participation in the Slate Valley Modified Unified Union District. In May they had a change of heart, voting 234-124 in favor.

Castleton voters also approved the merger, 315-259. For the Castleton component, it was a second approval. In March they had approved the merger 360-290.

The Addison-Rutland Supervisory Union held off on filling vacant positions until the results of this round of voting came in, Addison-Rutland Supervisory Union superintendent Ron Ryan said May 11. Filling teacher vacancies has become increasingly difficult in recent years, Ryan observed. “The educational field is becoming older; we’re seeing more retirements.”

Comparing this year’s applicant pool shows a marked decrease in the number of applications. “Ten years ago, we received hundreds of applications” for every open elementary position, but now that figure is down to about 50. “Only five to ten applicants are able, certified, and meet the requirements” for any position advertised, he said.

The paucity of applicants is true of all regional supervisory unions, Ryan said. The scarcity is even more pronounced in special education, counseling, and specialty areas. “Good candidates are being scooped up quickly,” he said.

Although Hubbardton voters took part in approving the Castleton-Hubbardton budget and about 93 percent of students from that town attend high school at Fair Haven, they did not participate in approving the budget for the Fair Haven high school. In the new district, they will be part of all budget decisions.

Leadership in the new school district passes into new hands. In March, the school board chose Brooke Olson-Ferrell to take over the leadership this July.

After 20 years at ARSU, and a total of 37 years in Vermont education, Ryan is not retiring. He is taking a new position with the Agency of Education. “I want to work,” he said, but he is ready and willing to give up nighttime meetings.

Fair Haven contemplates reviving an old hydro dam

FAIR HAVEN—The Rutland Herald reported last week Fair Haven’s town energy committee hopes that an application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will induce the state to take interest in the town’s ability to produce hydroelectric power from a dam on the Castleton River. Since the town’s founding, the river’s kinetic energy was harnessed to draw nails, grind flour, saw wood, and saw and mill slate, as well as roll, slit, and forge iron.

Engineer Jay Boeri estimated the dam could enough hydroelectric power to offset the amount used for the municipality’s basic needs: water and sewer, offices, town garage and maybe enough for the town’s grade school.

The town owns the current dam after acquiring Vermont Structural Slate’s interest. Brad Stevens is negotiating to sell land on both sides to the town. Given permit approval and continuing positive projections, the town’s next step is to vote on a bond for construction costs. Richards projects the earliest possible date for that vote is November 2018, as part of the general election.

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