News Briefs

Rutland Region

Student housing awarded tax credits
RUTLAND—The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development awarded Castleton University’s downtown Rutland student housing $170,000 in tax credits on Sept. 22. The second and third floors of the Clement Building now house dorm suites for 40 students. The state split $2.26 million in tax incentives among more than 20 projects across the state.
Rutland Herald changes hands
RUTLAND—A July demand from Upper Valley Press that the Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus pay $25,000 on their outstanding printing bill or not have their papers printed the following day was the tipping point that brought the two papers to a crisis, company president John Mitchell told his employees September 16. He spoke at the Herald offices on Wales Street in Rutland, connected to Times-Argus employees in Barre via FaceTime.
The paper now has new owners, Reade Brower and Chip Harris. Brower owns the Portland Press-Herald, the Kennebec Journal of Augusta and the Morning Sentinel of Waterville plus four weeklies in mid-coast Maine. He also owns Alliance Press, a commercial printer, of Brunswick, Maine. Harris founded and owned the Upper Valley Press in North Haverill, N.H., which has been printing both the Herald and the Times-Argus since their press was flooded out in 2011 and prints more than 40 weekly papers and shoppers in in the Northeast.
John Mitchell is leaving the paper, but his son Rob Mitchell remains as editor-in-chief. Shawn Stabell, director of circulation and technology for both papers, will continue managing operations at the Times Argus. The Wales Street building is not part of the sale.
Gides replaces Bloomer on aldermanic board
RUTLAND—Rutland’s Board of Aldermen voted to accept George Gides, Jr., to their ranks on September 19. Mayor Chris Louras had proposed Gides to fill the seat left open by Matt Bloomer’s recent resignation. Gides is a systems analyst for a medical software company. In March, he had run to fill the remaining year of Alderman Jon Skates’ term, open because Skates had moved out of the city.
Chief Kilcullen to speak at Turning Point annual meeting
RUTLAND—Rutland City Police Chief Brian Kilcullen is scheduled to be guest speaker at the annual meeting and open house of the Turning Point Center of Rutland, September 30. One of more than half a dozen Turning Point centers in Vermont, operating under the umbrella of the Vermont Recovery Network, the Rutland center serves more than 500 visitors a month, according to Tracie Hauck, its director. These private non-profit centers provide aid to individuals in addiction recovery to get access to necessary services as well as social activities that help them reintegrate with society.
Hauck described the center as a “safe, nonjudgmental place for people in various stages of recovery.” Developing its own co-ed softball team was an important part of this year’s progress, Hauck said. Turning Point participants also took part in the Rutland Halloween parade.
The Rutland center recently added a Marijuana Anonymous group, one of the few in Vermont.
Stormwater issues still needling Rutland
RUTLAND—Heavy rains September 19 caused the discharge of about 382,000 gallons of untreated stormwater and wastewater into Otter Creek between 3 and 4:50 a.m., Public Works Commissioner Jeffrey Wennberg said. About one and a half inches of rain had fallen in an hour.
The discharge was 99.5 percent rainwater, as not much wastewater is being run through city lines at 3 in the morning, Wennberg noted. The city water treatment plant successfully treated about 2.2 million gallons of stormwater during the same period.
Beaver activity poses dilemmas for the city
RUTLAND—On the upstream side of the city, the city may have to find a way to deal with its native water dwellers. Beavers have been at work in Combination Pond, damaging trees and damming one end of the pond. The beaver dam, though low, backs up water into the wetland, Wennberg said; if the beaver dam failed suddenly, the rush of water could damage the manmade dam that created the pond.
Beavers had created a municipal problem before. In 2001, the land around the pond was privately owned, and beavers were being trapped there, to the objection of some residents. Vermont Volunteer Services for Animals Humane Society safely trapped and removed the beavers.
Although not much has been said about them, beavers do present difficulties to the city a couple of times a year. They like to build dams on Tenney Brook behind the Pet Cage pet supply store on Grove Street, creating a pond that seeps into building foundations.
Beavers damage trees in other ways than biting through the bark. Changing the water table may cause trees to die, City Forester David Schneider observed, adding he has recently removed a tree that might otherwise have fallen on a house. Beaver ponds, being shallow water impediments, also warm up water, Schneider commented. Warmer water flowing into Moon Brook has been one of the Agency of Natural Resources’ complaints aimed at the waterway and its contributors.
BROC inaugurates community action award program
RUTLAND—BROC-Community Action in Southwestern Vermont will be honoring local leaders with its first community action awards, to be bestowed at the organization’s 51st annual meeting October 11. Chosen for the initial recipients are John Casella, Stacy Alderman, Martha Robertson, and Marit Lewis.
John Casella II offered Casella Construction land in Mendon to host the first Wheels for Warmth in the Rutland area, setting up a drive-through for donating, inspecting and purchasing the donated tires. Casella was instrumental in getting area businesses involved with the event, donating tires that could be re-sold inexpensively to people who might not otherwise be able to afford new tires. In Wheels’ first year in Rutland, it raised more than $14,000 for the fuel assistance fund at BROC.
Stacy Alderman initiated making home-cooked meals to help feed low-income people nearly four years ago. She has helped raise funds to buy ingredients and equipment and given her time to aid in the cooking. Volunteers, including teams from local businesses, have cooked 5,225 meals for the Feed the Freezer program.
Martha Robinson has volunteered for the Ski for Heat program for 16 years, doing everything from helping line up sponsors to skiing in the event herself. The event has raised more than $250,000 for BROC’s fuel assistance fund.
Marit Lewis has volunteered with BROC for nearly 20 years, much of it picking up donated food from local grocery stores and delivering it to BROC for the food shelf, regardless of the weather or if the need arose during the holiday season.
Town cuts the ribbon on new garage
RUTLAND TOWN—Rutland Town residents received an open invitation to the grand opening and ribbon-cutting at their new town garage at Northwood Park Sept. 24. The town bonded $700,000 for the garage, built to prolong the life of town vehicles, but the new building is more than a vehicle shelter. Road crews now have use of an office, a break room with a sit-down table, and, especially welcome on cold winter days, an indoor, heated toilet.
Changing of the guard at Vermont Country Store
CLARENDON—The Vermont Country Store’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer, Jim Hall, has been promoted to president of the organization owned by the Orton family. “The Vermont Country Store’s strength and success is rooted in its Vermont heritage and ‘storekeeper’ shopping experience. I am looking forward to furthering that success by leveraging these strengths with the support of our talented employees,” Hall said on taking the position. Hall steps into the shoes of outgoing President and CEO Chris Vickers, who had led the company since 2013.

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