News Briefs

News Briefs: Rutland Region

Vermont State Fair trimming debt?

There will probably be a sizable time lag before we know how successful the Vermont State Fair was this year. Rutland County Agricultural Society Vice President Don Chioffi told fair-goers they could expect $150,000 of entertainment for $12. Whether they did depends on what they expected to do at the fair. To some, this year’s display was short on adult-style thrill rides. There was no ferris wheel.

Yet this year’s fair was rich in entertainment, albeit drawn from the local community. There were lots of activities for children.

It may have drawn some people who previously avoided the fair because they objected to the noise and confusion of the midway. There certainly were none of the shimmy shows that made the fair seem a “men only” pastime in the 1950s.

Hopes are high that it will succeed in paying off the $55,000 fees and services debt it owed the city before opening its gates. The city has agreed to let the fair pay off the overdue moneys over a three-year span. Innovative management of police and fire coverage are expected to save some $45,000 this year.

Hawley’s Florist turns over a new leaf

Heather Fernandes has purchased Hawley’s Florist, 29 Center St., Rutland. Former owner Bonnie Hawley plans to retire and travel, while Fernandes plans to retain the business name and employees. The business is one of downtown Rutland’s best established firms, having opened its doors in 1977.

Pool rebuild questioned

A single alderman has questioned the desirability of replacing White Pool. Jon Skates voted against awarding a design work contract before voters have an opportunity to approve a bond for replacing the popular summertime recreation facility. According to Skates, voters are not all that eager to see the pool rebuilt. No one has asked him to support the project. He, therefore, dissented when his fellow aldermen voted to approve the design contract.

Although there are benefits to a municipal pool, having one is costly, he noted. He believes pool proponents should present an economic model predicting its revenues would offset its $2.1 million (estimated) price tag.

Alderman Dave Allaire has commented that numerous city residents have turned out for forums about the planned pool, interested in planning its replacement rather than opposing the project.

Mental health plan approved

The state has approved a Rutland Mental Health Services (RMH) plan that would upgrade its management, work culture, and care distribution, if the organization can maneuver the plan into work by early February. Failure to do so may cause loss of designated agency status and the dollars that come with it. Fiscal year 2013 showed $28.3 million passing through Rutland Mental Health’s pockets, coming from a combination of state grants and Medicaid payments. RMH serves more than 3,000 Rutland County resident clients.

The changes include reducing the length of time people wait for treatment and better monitoring of those who are waiting for treatment, along with providing crisis services regardless of whether treatment has begun. Contractor monitoring over those who work with developmentally disabled adults will also increase.

Other changes include bringing in board members from outside Rutland City, more board transparency, creating a formal staff grievance policy, and educating clients on their rights. Day-long monthly meetings between state officials and organization management plus staff/board meetings are to monitor the change in practices and care.

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