The Mountain Times

°F Fri, April 25, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

News briefs from the Rutland Region 2.9

Local Mickey D's manager honored

Congratulations to Carlo Falco, South Main Street McDonald's manager, who won the National Ray Kroc Award. Falco can look forward to a cash award, a trophy, a ring, a pin, and a trip to an awards party in Chicago, hosted by Jan Fields, president of McDonald's USA. Last year, 114 McDonald's managers received the award, selected from 14,000 outlets across the U.S.A.

New airport beacons solar powered

New hazard beacons going in at the Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport are solar powered, so power lines won't mar the mountainside. Not only will the solar power utilization result in lowered electric bills, but there will be far lower maintenance expense - no more worry about storms knocking trees into power lines. The project will cost $530,000/year for the next four years.

Other improvements at the airport include relocating Airport Road some 800 feet to the east to make a T intersection at Route 103. However, purchasing new snow removal equipment will likely wait for another year, say officials at the state Agency of Transportation.

Chain dropping Blue Cross drugs

The Walgreens pharmacy chain is no longer filling prescriptions for individuals covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont. The two companies have reached an impasse over payment.

However, Blue Cross Blue Shield subscribers have recourse to a number of other pharmacies that are fully capable of providing for their medical needs. Relatively few subscribers rely only on Walgreens; 98 percent either do not use the national chain or use it only part of the time.

Locally owned and operated Beauchamp & O'Rourke, not far from the Rutland Walgreens on Woodstock Avenue, has already seen a number of former Walgreens customers coming through its doors, as many as five to ten a day. So has Rutland Pharmacy on Allen Street.

On the March ballot

Applicants for five two-year and one one-year alderman seats are to appear on the March ballot. A total of nine candidates would like to fill those meeting room chairs. Incumbents David Allaire, Sharon Davis and William Notte have turned in their petitions for the two-year seats; so has Christopher Siliski, appointed as a fill-in when then-alderman Robert Barrett resigned,  Challenging the incumbents are Gary Donahue, Francis Lebo, John Mattison and Dan White. Alderman Christopher Robinson has filed for the one-year seat that would fill out the rest of Barrett's term. Current alderman Ed Larson is not running for another term.

City school board members Rob Towle, Peter Mello and Dick Courcelle are all poised for re-election; they face no challengers. Races for the city's mayor, treasurer and assessor do not appear on this year's ballot, but wait for 2013.

City voters will also decide whether to approve $350,000 for additional paving; the aldermen had cut that amount from the annual paving budget total of $500,000, asking voters to give their consent to the difference.

In addition, city voters will vote on a $2 million bond for work on local bridges. Leveraging the bond would bring in additional grant funds to total $10 million, to be applied for work on seven bridges within five years: West Street Bridge over East Creek, Ripley Road and River Street (Dorr Drive Bridge) over Otter Creek, Forest Street over Moon Brook, Church Street over Tenney Brook, and Crescent Street over East Creek. By the end of the project, there would still be $250,000 left in the bridge replacement fund.

The state legislature must be fairly confident that Rutland folks will approve the bond money. Rutland County legislators recently commented that the Ripley Road bridge project, estimated at $3 million, should go out to bid this December with construction to begin next spring.

Dorr Drive Bridge, on the state list for replacement since 1994, will have to wait longer, held up by permitting delays. The project should go out to bid  in October 2014; construction should begin the following spring. Project cost is estimated at $4 million.

Replacing Forest Park development

Phase two of replacing low-income housing development Forest Park continues this year. Three of the old buildings will come down, beginning in July or August. In their place will rise three duplexes, two six-plexes, a new community center, and a new maintenance shed. The design work is still in process; there may be four or five housing units above the community center. The project cost estimate is between $5 and $6 million.

Phase one resulted in 33 units in seven structures; nearly all have been rented.

Completion of the three-phase project calls for removing five additional buildings, but plans for what their replacement will be are still under revision.

Parking problems persist

Now that the new Community College of Vermont (CCV) building is complete, other nearby businesses are complaining that students seem to be taking up too large a share of available parking slots. The parking shortage along Evelyn Street has been moved to a different corner of downtown. Additional parked cars plug up the street in the vicinity of West and Wales so that lot-parked cars have difficulty getting out to go home. Seemingly available after-hours parking spots in the Rutland City Schools administration lot and behind the Veterans of Foreign Wars post are off limits.

CCV's Christopher Ettori, Rutland operations manager and student resource advisor, and John Rice, Rutland Public Schools director of Building, Grounds and Transportation, are working on solutions. Students may buy 15-week passes to park in the downtown parking deck for a semester at a time, and the college's financial aid package may cover the $20 parking pass expense. CCV students may take the bus throughout the city without charge, as may students at other colleges in the area. 
Building developer DEW West and Wales, LLC, is already leasing 50 parking spaces in the deck up through 2018. It is unclear whether students will have to pay to use those parking slots. Locals suspect a paucity of forethought.

All this is taking place while Rutland City is trying to help the downtown parking garage become more profitable or run the risk of having the garage shut down. Increased deck usage would also relieve on-street parking congestion.

The City is asking for some changes: lengthening the hours that the deck is open, decreasing the cost for a month's parking to $35, increasing security personnel and putting in security camera monitoring on the Center Street walkway and in stairwells, prohibiting "hanging out" in the deck for people who don't have a vehicle parked there, improvign lighting, and putting in a payment system that would allow users to pay by the hour while adding in a 30-minute freebie for people running short errands. The City also asks the state to continue maintaining and cleaning the structure and to give the City quarterly progress reports.

Osher series studies nature

The Osher Institute of Lifelong Learning focuses on Vermont's natural world during February. Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department wildlife biologist Doug Blodgett discusses Rattlesnakes in Vermont at the February 10 session. Rutland County Audubon Society co-president Roy Pilcher treats participants to a photographic show of Vermont's Wildflowers on February 17. And Center for Northern Woodlands Education executive director/publisher Walter Medwid focuses on the relationship between humans and the nation's largest canine predator in The Good, the Bad, the Wolf on February 24. All discussions take place Fridays at 1:30 p.m. in the Godnick Adult Center, 1 Deer St., Rutland.

Sign up for legislative bus trip

The Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce and Rutland Economic Development Corp. plan their annual Legislative Bus Trip to the Vermont State House in Montpelier on Thursday, March 1. OMYA, Inc. sponsors the excursion.

The day begins at 7 a.m. in the Chamber's conference room, 50 Merchants Row, downtown Rutland, with departure at 7:30. Meet with members of the Rutland County Legislative Delegation and other government folks, attend committee meetings and lunch with officials at Capitol Plaza. Sign up by calling 773-2747.


Friday night live planning

Businesses in downtown Rutland are encouraged to participate in brainstorming sessions to plan summer 2012 Friday Night Live activities. Bring your ideas to the Tuesday, Feb. 21, meeting at 6 p.m. or the Wednesday, Feb. 22, meeting at 8 a.m. Both are in the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce conference room, 50 Merchants Row.


Saturday, Feb. 11 - Taste-of-Chocolate and Elvis offers more than 20 varieties of chocolate to sample and judge plus music by a local Elvis impersonator. Coffee, tea, silent auction, 50/50 raffle, dancing, singing at Godnick Center, 1 Deer St. Benefits All Saints' Anglican Church of Rutland. Call 282-8098 for info.

Saturday, Feb. 11 - Dirty Dancing, one of the top ten most loved Valentine's Day movies, stars Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in a romantic hit that includes music hits The Time of My Life and Hungry Eyes. See it at the Paramount Theatre, downtown Rutland. Call 775-0903 for tickets.

Monday, Feb. 13 - Town meeting style discussion of flood recovery efforts with representatives of five state agencies, Rutland Regional planning Commission, and Rutland Economic Development Corp. Talk about local response, recovery goals, and best disaster preparation - what works and what doesn't. Rutland Free Library, 5 p.m.

Tagged: rutland report, Carlo Falco, Rutland Airport, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Wagon Ride Weekends, Forest Park, Osher