The Mountain Times

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News Briefs from the Rutland Region 1.5.12

Salt brine expands to Rutland

Vermont's experimentation in pre-storm salt brine road applications appears successful enough that the program will expand into the Rutland area this winter and go statewide eventually. Although salt-brine facilities are expensive, road crews are saying that using this technique, combined with other new technologies like tow plows that clear two lanes at a time, is more cost-effective overall. Vermont has been testing salt brine's efficacy since 2008, along 1000 miles of state highway.

Additional salt on the roads brings with it a hazard for household pets who get it on their feet and then lick their pads. When you bring your dog back in the house after a walk on treated streets or sidewalks, wash its feet and brush out its underside fur if it has long hair.

Rutland's giving spirit

Thank you, Casella folks, for donating $7,950 to Toys for Kids right before Christmas.

Thanks, too, to Restoring Rutland and the Rutland Country Club for donating $13,500 to Rutland City's Tropical Storm Irene relief fund. The money came from a fundraiser organized by country club head golf pro Greg Nelson and added to by other donations since.

And to CVPS for kicking off its last-resort emergency fuel assistance fund with a $10,000 company donation plus a pledge of $100,000 in matching funds.

Also thanks again to those who not only contributed to our community but who also bled for it, 1,855 pints of life saving blood donations.

Rethinking post-Irene repairs

Before tropical storm Irene deluged Vermont, scouring away streambeds and scything away curves in river channels, only 25 percent of the state's rivers were considered stable. A recent meeting of watershed experts urged a rethink of rebuilding and development near flood zones.

You can tell how healthy a river is by how wiggly it is. A stable river contains such features as a meandering channel, systems of little falls (riffles), and pools, says Connecticut River Watershed Council river steward (and professional fishing guide) David Deen. 

Using larger culverts or bridges allows for ice flow space and lessens the possibility of blow outs. Experts look to restore an appropriate mixture of water and sediment, which can work together to maintain water speed at a level that neither erodes nor deposits too much sediment; a self-perpetuating balance.

River engineers continue to deal with results of the November 1927 flood, when Vermonters' attempts to "fix" that damage were misguided river practices, such as filling channels to change a river's course, building riverfront downtowns, and pulling out weighty boulders that hold down lighter riverbeds.

Problems may exacerbate in the future unless policies change to discourage building in a flood zone and reward rebuilding outside it.

Health Trust aids post-high school plans

The James T. Bowse Community Health Trust recently awarded $109,748 to Mill River Union High School for a new program to help students develop post-educational goals. "Yransitions" targets students who lack post-graduation career plans and provides incentive to remain in school. It introduces post-high school grads to different career options, including internships with local businesses to find their passion.

Chaffee renovation campaign begins

A $30,000 Cultural Facilities Grant from the Vermont Arts Council begins a fundraising effort to develop matches for an $84,000 Save America's Treasures Grant; when complete, they will begin a capital campaign for updating the historic building that houses the Chaffee Art Center. The first home in Rutland to have central heating and indoor plumbing.

"Sunny Gables" was built between 1892 and 1896 as a private home for George Thrall Chaffee and his family. One of the multi-faceted entrepreneurs of his time, Chaffee was a banker but also farmed and owned both a department store and a lumber mill. Like many another businessman of his time, Chaffee used his own home as a showcase for his business interests. Employing shingle-style construction and incorporating a variety of popular European and Middle Eastern styles, the house was a visual touchstone for the community and for the Chaffee family interests.

Closed in 1925, Sunny Gables saw new birth in 1961 when it was loaned to the Rutland Chamber of Commerce for the town's bicentennial festivities. It was subsequently purchased by the Rutland Area Art Association in 1976 and converted to a year-round visual arts center in 1987. The Chaffee Building begins a series of renovations that start with the installation of a new fire alarm system, upgraded electrical service, total rewiring, devices and efficient light fixtures.

Planning West Rutland recreation

The town of West Rutland is developing a master plan to improve its recreation area and provide the services and activities that its residents desire. The town recreation area on Route 133 is proposed to be used as a center for all recreation activities. Proposals for activities on the river and trail expansion into the town forest area are expected.

Traffic flow and safety concerns are also important elements to the master plan. The recreation area entrance is near a dangerous corner that lacks pedestrian sidewalks.

Randolph-based engineering firm DuBois and King Inc. plans to hold public information meetings with residents and bring in information gathered from a townwide survey. A report in the spring should provide guidelines along with project funding opportunities.

Seeking popular culture papers

The College of St. Joseph holds its first (Inaugural) Popular Culture Conference April 13 and 14. It has issued a Call for Papers on the "enduring figure of the barbarian in Western popular culture." Got ideas on heroic fantasy, swords and sorcerers, comic books, and their ilk? The proposal deadline is Sunday, Jan. 15. Contact Dr. Jonas Pridas.

New local product: fresh frozen dinner for dogs

Cris Phelps-Brown has added a new product line to her Good Dog! Cookies, selling under the name K-9 Skinny Chicken. The chicken-n-rice combo, a fresh frozen dinner for dogs, is available only at the winter market now, but will soon appear in more local stores.

See pivot points of Rutland history

Local historian/teacher Jim Davidson talks about four different turning points in Rutland history on Friday afternoons in January.

Jan. 6, he will talk about naming and settling Rutland.

Jan. 13, he takes you through the railroad's laying tracks to Rutland, enabling the community to develop industrially.

Jan. 20, he will explain how the old town of Rutland dramatically split into four municipalities. Jan. 27, he will display photos of a growing Rutland in 1900 and a discuss immigration, labor, and other community changes.

These programs are part of the Osher Institute of Lifelong Learning. Programs are from 1:15 p.m - 3 p.m. at the Godnick Adult Center, 1 Deer Dr., Rutland.

Lani's picks

Friday, Jan. 6 - A third generation of young people are growing up on the sound values of Clifford The Big Red Dog and his special person Emily Elizabeth. Clifford's adventures come to the Paramount stage in the form of a totally new musical, with lots of music and dancing, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 28 - Wallingford Memorial Rotary Club pork roast dinner, 5 - 7 p.m. Take-outs available. Benefits community projects and mill River union High scholarships. Call 353-5323.

Tagged: rutland report, Casella, Chaffee Arts Center, Rutland History, Jim Davidson