By Lani Duke
Furloughed convicts move uphill from city offices
New residents may move into 30 Washington St., the former McGee House, through an agreement between the Recovery House network of treatment facilities and the Vermont Achievement Center, which is in a “feasibility grant process” that would result in placing furloughed offenders in the 20-bed facility.
The elegant French Empire house had been refurbished in recent years as a residential treatment site for people working to recover from substance abuse. It closed in 2011.
Rutland City’s aldermen have expressed a few concerns about placing furloughed prisoners so close to downtown, already thickly studded with numerous social service residences. Is a downtown that is starting to thrive again, gaining commercial occupancies and growing more vibrant, going to be given a chill by a transitional correctional facility? asked Alderman Chris Siliski.
Keith Tallon, manager of Rutland’s probation and parole office, and Cheryl McKenzie, Vermont Achievement Center program development director, spoke to the public safety committee of the Board of Aldermen in support of the proposed facility. Tallon has been working to get such a program within the city for the past three years; lacking a supervised, supportive residence, offenders might be placed in Rutland apartments without structure or supervision.
Participants would be carefully pre-screened. None would be sex offenders. Nor would they be non-Vermont residents nor individuals who came to Rutland to sell drugs. The transitioners would be people whose crimes were tied to substance abuse addictions, Tallon outlined.
Staffing would be round the clock, seven days a week. Modeled after Mandala House, a similar residence for female offenders that VAC launched about a year and a half ago, the regimen is highly structured, with structured program beginning at 6:30 a.m., and continuing into the evening. Residents would receive case management, addiction and mental health treatment, and vocational training. McGee House residents will produce bee houses as a vehicle for learning to work productively.
Fair management eyes changes
Although Rutland County Agricultural Society trustees seldom meet between the Fair’s end in September and the annual meeting in December, the board seems to be more active than usual. An audit of the Fair’s ledgers is still not complete and a trustee committee is examining potential changes to the RCAS constitution and bylaws. Likely changes include shortening the annual event from ten days to six, and revising the method by which absent members may vote, from yielding proxy votes to one or more board members to an approach closer to that of absentee ballots.
Library helps workers
Rutland Free Library has become a key resource for former Rutland Plywood employees, laid off after a fire destroyed their workplace. Sent by the Department of Labor, the workers are receiving help to find and apply for new jobs. Library staffers have been helping some of those job seekers learn to use a computer for basic searches and/or fill in job applications.
The library recently announced the arrival of 20 books on financial literacy, provided by the Vermont Department of Libraries and the state treasurer’s office. Rutland was one of two libraries selected for the collection; the other participating institution is Brownell Library in Essex Junction.
What if …
Although this discussion might be premature, maybe the time is approaching to look at the mall as a tremendous resource that might be otherwise put to use. Recent departures from Diamond Run Mall have led part of the community to discuss what other uses the mall could serve, either all or in part. Among the most promising are relocation for state agencies, including Children and Families, AOT, State Police, Corrections and others. The resultant vacancies would make room for retail and private offices downtown. Neither an industrial incubator nor a southern campus for the University of Vermont seems likely to gain state approval.
Painless pitching in
The Four Winds Nature Program is looking for parents to collect and redeem bottles to help out the Wallingford Elementary School’s natural sciences enrichment program. The Wallingford group could use some extra help because revenues disappeared with a break-in at the transfer station. The town administration is hoping to keep a steady stream of bottles moving through the transfer station to minimize incentive for future theft and vandalism, and a way to volunteer time for students in spite of busy work schedules.
Who comes to Vermont to visit our farms?
A $45,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is going to help the Rutland Regional Planning Commission and the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link find out. Study results may help agriculturally-based business tap into an as yet unrealized additional income stream that is already coming to Vermont. Visitors to Green Mountain resort areas reportedly ask about visiting farms although the principal aim of their sojourn may be to hike, ski, or camp. The grant hopes to spot trends among these convenient travelers and identify how farmers can expand their farming activities to meet those requests.
Lani’s weekly picks
Thursday-Friday, Oct. 2-3—Grace Congregational Church holds a fall rummage sale. Thursday, 6 to 9 p.m.; Friday, bag sale, 9 a.m. to 12-noon.
Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 4-5—Fall Open Studio Weekend.
Saturday, Oct. 4—The Paramount Theatre becomes Smokey Joe’s Café, featuring the music of the Coasters. 8 p.m. 775-0903.
Saturday, Oct. 4—Rutland Church of the Nazarene, 112 Lincoln Ave., presents The Middle River Gospel Band in concert. 7 p.m. Fellowship after concert with dessert. Free will offering. 747-9977.
Sunday, Oct. 5—St. Stanislaus Parish Hall hosts the annual fall Polish dinner with two seatings, 1 and 4:30 p.m. Ceil Scott, 438-5689; Vicki Bania, 438-5522.
Sunday, Oct. 5—Encore presentation, live from The National Theatre of Great Britain, “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Paramount Theatre. 2 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 9—B.B. King shares the blues at the Paramount Theatre, 8 p.m. 775-0903.