News Briefs

Rutland Region News Briefs

Look up! Downtown murals brighten workaday Rutland
RUTLAND—If you’ve enjoyed the butterflies in flight, goldfish streaming through a wall, flowers planted on the side of a building side, Batman contending with a griffon, rural Vermont being depicted by a pair of artists, or a larger-than-life African elephant depicted on downtown building exteriors, you have been enjoying the work of Kathryn Palmer Wiegers, an artist trained as a biologist. She attributed the beginning of her passion for outdoor art on building exteriors to exposure to European art in such places as Florence, Vienna, and Rome.
Her mural production has changed, she noted. She has shifted to producing the murals at home, working with acrylics on a transparent backing, then rolling it up for transport, affixing it to a building and sealing it with a protective agent.
Rutland High teacher honored
RUTLAND—The Vermont Academy of Science and Engineering named Rutland High School teacher Ann Marie Durfee Mahar the Outstanding Secondary-Level Teacher, Oct. 24. She teaches advanced-placement biology, anatomy and physiology and a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) capstone course. The Vermont Agency of Education has named her the alternate Teacher of the Year as well.
Recreation Committee hear dog park supporters
RUTLAND—Lyndsi Fischer and David Dress told the city’s Recreation Committee that they hope the city will support a dog park at a location they did not name, saying the location is not owned by the city but is not truly private either. They represent a group that hopes to develop two dog parks in the city. They said the hope is for the city to provide city-owned land and “minor funding” help of about $500 to cover 501(c)(3) filing costs. Annual maintenance needs to be factored into the dog park budget, Recreation Superintendent Cindi Wight observed.
The group intends to solicit donations and hold fundraisers, but there is a possibility that park users might pay a membership fee. Use or membership fees seem incompatible with city funding and support, Alderman Vanessa Robertson remarked; she said she was surprised that the city does not already have a dog park.
Alderman William Notte favors contributing start-up costs if there is a long-term lease on the property. A dog park may make money for the city, he observed, and provide another incentive for having dogs licensed. He thinks unlicensed dogs should be banned from the park and that users must present proof of licensing.
Once a dog park becomes operational, the city should track whether residents of other communities are using the facility. If so, those towns should be asked to contribute to the park.
Movie makers’ gunfire frightens morning workers
RUTLAND—Edgewood Studios didn’t provide sufficient warning that it would be shooting a simulated gunfight in the downtown parking deck the morning of Oct. 26, Rutland Mayor Chris Louras told studio owner David Giancola. Louras said Agency of Human Services and Department of Children and Families employees working nearby or parking in the deck were justifiably alarmed, given the fatal shooting of a DCF caseworker by a client in Barre in 2015.
Giancola said his crew was filming a scene for a movie before 9 a.m. and claimed that parking deck manager LAZ Parking, the Rutland County Sheriff’s Department and state and local police were informed that blanks were to be fired at the site.
The filming occurred in a closed-off section of the deck, Giancola said. People who called police were told that a movie was being filmed at the site. Giancola said he follows all industry safety standards and has been making movies safely in the Rutland area for 20 years, noting that he once blew up six cars in the old parking deck.
Louras disagreed, claiming that neither the city nor LAZ Parking knew the nature of the scene. Although the state owns the deck, the city leases it from the state; LAZ contracts with the city for its management. The city has no formal permitting process for filming on city or city-controlled property.
Board of Aldermen President William Notte opined that perhaps proposals to produce movies in the city should be brought under some regulation, using the logic that the city requires special events permits. He also noted that he felt nothing had been done improperly under the current regulations.
Movie claims popular named actors
RUTLAND—Edgewater Studios has released the names of the main actors in its current production, “Axcellerator.” David Giancola is directing the production that stars Sean Young, Maxwell Caulfield, Sam J. Jones, John James and Laura James. Young has roles in comedies like “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” dramas such as “Wall Street,” and genre films such as “Blade Runner” and “Dune.” Caulfield starred opposite Michelle Pfeiffer in “Grease 2.”
Jones played the title role in “Flash Gordon” in 1980 and more recently appeared in the movie “Ted.” John James had the role of Jeff Colby in nighttime soap opera “The Colbys.” Laura James, daughter of John James, is in her first starring role, having won the 19th cycle of “America’s Next Top Model” in 2012.
October NeighborWorks grants total $900,000
RUTLAND—NeighborWorks of Western Vermont Executive Director Lucy Biddle said the organization received $900,000 in grants during October, $500,000 from a federal program for housing loans to underserved communities and $400,000 from Green Mountain Power. The grants enable the organization to serve more people, she said.
The Green Mountain Power funds expansion of the H.E.A.T. Squad, adding a third auditor on staff. Already hired, the third auditor will perform 350 to 400 efficiency audits annually; 40 percent of them will become projects.
The federal money provides funds for second mortgage, downpayment assistance and repair loans for eligible applicants. Federal money is dedicated for loans to households below 80 percent of area median income. Applicants wouldn’t otherwise qualify for mortgage loans with commercial banks, Biddle commented.
NeighborWorks has set the goal of retrofitting 150 homes, including 30 heat pumps and 30 hot water heat pumps, in addition to what the organization does each year, Biddle said.
The funding may specially have impact in Rutland City’s Northwest Neighborhood. Funding home rehabs for low- to moderate-income families to achieve home ownership, and funding programs that reduce the cost of home ownership, are among the methods to strengthen neighborhoods throughout the city, Mayor Christopher Louras said.

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