News Briefs

Rutland Region

RUTLAND—Over the past four months, the College of St. Joseph “found” an additional academic building by transforming the 200-year-old wood-framed carriage house for academic use. Green Mountain Power worked with the school’s maintenance director Tom Beland to gut the building, install LED lighting and central air conditioning and heat pumps.
Interim college president Larry Jensen said the project will house the school’s radiological technology program in its second year at the college. Fourteen students are currently enrolled in the program, taught by three faculty members. In the new quarters, there are two classrooms, a conference room, three offices, and student practice equipment space.
CSJ marks progress
RUTLAND—During the four years of Dr. Richard Lloyd’s presidency at the College of St. Joseph, the school has made a number of significant strides. The number of new students has continued to grow, and is now up to 85 this fall. Lloyd conceived and implemented the Provider Scholarship program, offering a $65,000 scholarship over four years, while combining community srv ice with campus participation, career preparedness, and academics. In the 2016-2017 academic year, a variation on the program has been extended to graduate students.
St. Joseph’s received both the U.S. Department of Education’s Title III, Part A: Strengthening Institutions Grant and the largest non-federal grant and private donation in the school’s history (Davis Educational Foundation).
New academic programs include public safety administration, radiologic sciences, sonography, health science (concentration in medical coding and billing), and education studies. General education requirements are updated, and a new first-year experience course is also offered.
Student athletes now may take part in baseball, softball, and volleyball programs, in addition to basketball and soccer. In 2016, the school won USCAA National Championships in women’s basketball and baseball. It also had the national women’s basketball player of the year and coach of the year in 2015, and the national baseball coach of the year and player of the year in 2016. And 34 students made the conference all-academic team; seven, the national all-academic team.
Mental health counselor charged with fraud
RUTLAND—The Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Unit has charged licensed clinical mental health counselor Alison Grant, M.S., LCMHC, M.Ed., with three counts of welfare fraud and one count of delivering narcotics. Grant knowingly billed for 160 patient sessions with five clients that she did not treat, according to Asst.Attorney General Jason Turner. Grant pled innocent to the charges August 22 in Rutland criminal court.
Vermont Medicaid reimbursed Grant an average $1,000 a week, more than $18,000 for “services not rendered.” Although Grant listed only some 13 patients, she was the second highest biller for crisis therapy for Vermont Medicaid, 37.9 percent of all crisis therapy outlay.
During the previous year, the unit had received “numerous complaints” from patients about Grant’s private practice, The Hat Lady’s Mental Health Services, 49 S. Main St. Medicaid fraud Unit detective Virginia Merriam said several patients said Grant would bill transportation to appointments or shopping as therapy. Several were billed for services they never received, and documentation for psychotherapy sessions or crisis calls was missing from their records.
In addition, Grant is alleged to have admitted she purchased 20 Percocets for $300 a week, trading and selling the drug with patients. If convicted, she may be sentenced to as much as 13 years in jail. Her release stipulates she may not have contact with any patients named in the complaint
Shorter, earlier fair deemed successful
RUTLAND—Although gate figures had not yet been compiled, organizers for the Vermont State Fair believe they have a success on their hands. Daily numbers were above those of last year. The 2016 fair boasted a full complement of rides for all ages. There were 40 more vendors than at the 2015 fair.
Rutland County Agricultural Society President Luey Clough noted that the opening night weather caused the Aug. 16 opening day to be a “washout” but both Aug. 17 and 18 were “above average.” On Aug. 19 after 5 p.m. all available parking places had filled.
And the fair was current on all bills when the gates opened—for the first time in years. The board had no conflicts during the year leading up to the fair; all members worked together in the same direction, according to Roland McNeil, Clough’s predecessor and still on the board of trustees.
Bar owner claims police violate constitutional rights
RUTLAND—Rutland dance club owner Charles Greeno has filed a federal lawsuit against Rutland City and its police department saying they have violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Police presence outside The Local has been noticeably conspicuous, with three to five cruisers parked outside from 1:45 to 2:30 a.m. on weekends for 21 weeks in a row, blue lights flashing.
Greeno said he has asked police why the heavy show of presence at his door; Sgt. Joseph Bartlett told Greeno that the high cruiser count was following the departmental community data policing model. Theoretically, that method should help place police in places most likely to experience crime at specific times when or just before it is likely to occur.
Every business in Rutland serving alcohol should receive the same degree of attention, attorney Matthew Hart said. Greeno believes that the high level of scrutiny “has to do with the race of the people who come here” and has a stifling effect on his business.
Greeno’s dance club has been open for five years. He says police have told him he needs new clientele. Patrons at The Local tend to be 20 to 35 years old, many coming from urban areas outside Vermont and many are African-American.
Labor Day holiday delays Center Rutland road work
RUTLAND—Opening for the Ripley Road bridge is still a month away, with opening planned for October 2016. All traffic–vehicle, bicycles, and pedestrian–is prohibited.
Work on the bridge will cease at noon Friday, Sept. 2, for the Labor Day weekend. Crews begin picking up their tools and start work again at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 6.
The original truss bridge should be largely removed during the week leading up to the Labor Day weekend. Forms are already stripped from the concrete deck of the new bridge. The concrete curb pour is complete and the pedestrian rail is in place.
The historic stone wall on Dorr Drive facing the new Dorr Bridge has partially collapsed and will face repair in early September. The River Street guardrail at Dorr Bridge should have been installed during the last week of August.
Church pre-k suing state education agency
RUTLAND—Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church of Rutland filed suit against the Vermont Agency of Education on March 25, contending that the state wrongly revoked the its Little Lambs Early Learning Center’s “prequalified” pre-k provider status. Childcare centers must bear the designation to receive tuition dollars from public school districts. The public vouchers pay for 10 hours of programming per week.
State law requires the secretary of education “ensure that public funds are not expended in violation” of rulings that prohibit tax dollars from supporting religious worship, the agency stated when revoking Little Lambs’ designation in January, to be effective June 30. Little Lambs contends the right safeguards are in place by keeping all religious programming out of its Monday-through-Friday schedule.
Vermont Law School assistant prof Jared Carter labels the lawsuit as “an interesting constitutional case” because putting public dollars “into a pot” that also supports religious worship is considered unconstitutional. State case filings list website informational postings which seemingly contradict assertions that the curriculum is totally secular.

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