News Briefs

Rutland Region News Briefs

Judicial change requested, claim of bias

Christopher Sullivan, convicted of drunken driving and leaving the scene of a pedestrian fatality, has asked that Judge Theresa DiMauro be replaced for his upcoming resentencing hearing. He was scheduled to appear before her June 29.

In 2015, Sullivan was sentenced to four to 10 years in jail. The Vermont Supreme court ruled that DiMauro erred in not granting sufficient time for Sullivan to bring in mediative testimony about his state of mind when he delayed turning himself in after the accident, but affirmed his conviction for both crimes, according to VTDigger. DiMauro has said that the hearing would only consider expert testimony on why Sullivan left the accident scene.

Public Defender Joshua O’Hara filed the motion, citing DiMauro’s comments in May that it was unlikely Sullivan would receive either a time-served or significantly reduced sentence. Resentencing Sullivan must wait until after Chittenden Superior Court Judge Dennis Pearson rules on whether to disqualify DiMauro.

Sullivan is currently out of jail on $500,000 bail.

Northwood Park restrictions irritate walkers

People who have walked their dogs near the city reservoir are asking for a compromise on stringent restrictions recently introduced by the city. On June 15, the Department of Public Works announced its intention to “begin issuing warnings and citing individuals for trespassing at the reservoir inlet on Meadow Lake Drive in Mendon, and the reservoir and water treatment plant on Post Road in Rutland Town,” beginning July 1.

Public Works Commissioner Jeff  Wennberg said the city has become increasingly concerned about the number of unleashed dogs that are being brought on the property and leave their excrement where it may be washed into the city’s water supply, a supply that serves more than 20,000 city and town residents, as well as workers and visitors. At least one individual has taken dogs to the reservoir intake to swim.

Although the city filters and disinfects the water and it continues to pass daily testing, allowing it to continue creates an “obvious risk,” Wennberg said. New security cameras and lights are already in place; additional fencing and signage inform individuals that “entering the grounds without authorization will subject them to citation for trespass,” according to the DPW Facebook page.

The DPW hopes for voluntary compliance, Wennberg said, but those who allow their pets to play too close to the intake or fail to clean up their dogs’ feces are already recorded on security footage. Repeat offenders will receive trespass notices and fines.

Park users who hope for lenience have said they hope the DPW will keep open paths that are not close to the reservoir, erect signage that discourages climbing on the water tanks, and educate the public on proper land use. A group of dog walkers is already voluntarily picking up feces in the area. Nor are those who use the path only dog walkers. The paths are easy walking for people who are looking for safe and low-impact exercise.

One issue is that the boundaries between Northwood Park in Rutland Town and Green Mountain Power property, where most people go for exercise, and the area surrounding the Rutland water tanks, are not obvious to the casual observer. The entire area appears as an open park. The walking path is accessed through an opening in a chain link fence created specifically for the path, and makes a loop well below the tanks, picking up Mendon Brook and proceeding on to a lower reservoir at the confluence of Mendon Brook and East Creek. No gates bar the way.

In a June 27 letter published in the Rutland Herald, Wennberg defined the types of threat that unauthorized people create for the waterworks. Although the water supply has not been threatened intentionally, the numbers of careless and risk-laden behaviors have increased.

Making sure the water supply remains secure requires a security plan of detection, delay, and response, he wrote.

Letting unauthorized individuals have unlimited access to the grounds restricts officials from detecting and delaying anyone who might contaminate the water supply, either intentionally or carelessly.

People who use the area for recreation don’t oppose the city’s concerns, but would prefer to see any fences erected much closer to the critical facilities, leaving the rest open for recreation.

Dodge dealership joins Auto Row

Kinney Motors has purchased Fair Haven Dodge and moved the sales floor temporarily to Kinney’s Audi VW building, 176 U.S. 7 in Rutland Town, with a business name of Rutland Dodge Ram. Owner Stefan Maeder said there are plans to erect a large building once the project has negotiated Act 250 hurdles. He anticipates the new operation will have a payroll of 10 to 12 people.

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