The Mountain Times

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News briefs from the Rutland Region

The Carving Studio & Sculpture Center in West Rutland recently announced it has obtained two-thirds of what it needs for a matching grant from the Vermont Arts Council. The money will enable finishing three new, ADA-accessible classroom spaces as part of its Winter Studios project.

Work has begun on flagging trails onsite and marking out the old marble railroad bed, a process that will culminate in a planned pedestrian walkway and marble sculpture garden along the old line. Thanks go to Lyman Orton (Vermont Country Store founder), Bill Nutt (former CSSC board president) and Robert Black (president of the CSSC board) for their physical labor and many for financial generosity.

Classical music lovers can hear their passion 24 hours a day with Vermont Public Radio's expansion of its network into the Rutland area. FM listeners can pick up the station at 92.5, in a territory that extends to Castleton, Fair Haven, Pittsford, and Proctor.

Should the city assume responsibility for the downtown parking deck? Does that initiative cost more than it's worth? The aldermen considered those two questions as they contemplated a study indicating that running the deck would cost the city nearly three times more than it does the state. The state loses about $23,000 a year, but city management would cost nearly $60,000.

The city has maintained that it is willing to assume responsibility for the deck only if the operation breaks even. Can't be done, consultant Andrew Hill told the aldermen, especially not if the city is to expand hours, add staff, replace equipment and do the maintenance the state has been putting off doing.

There are mitigating factors: the state could keep on paying for the elevator repair and maintenance, parking in the structure could grow because parking fees increase in city-owned lots and streetside meter charges go up.

However, whatever changes take place must not discourage downtown shopping activity, Downtown Rutland Partnership director Mike Coppinger cautioned. The aldermen have been considering lowering charges for using the deck, a change that Hill noted would increase the deck's deficit.

If Rutland uses chloramine to purify its water, dangerous byproducts are less likely to result compared to some areas, recent testing indicates. Rutland water currently lacks precursors for toxic byproducts of chloramine, according to Public Works Commissioner Evan Pilachowski.

Voters in November, will weigh in on a $5.5 million water system bond to build a new filter system. If the bond fails to pass, the city will have to switch from chlorine to chloramine in its water treatment process.

Flooding that has scoured stream banks may have given the city extra breathing room in its battle to lower haloacetic acids in treated water, because those same incoming waters no longer contain as much organic matter. The organic material's reaction with the chlorine used for water treatment results in the haloacetic acids. A new filtering system would remove the organic matter, keeping the city's treated water within federal standards.

The city may also have another plus factor in that battle, sticking more closely to a schedule for replacing filtering sands in the current system.

The Community and Economic Development Committee recommends that the aldermen grant tax stabilization for the Vermont Farmers Food Center, formerly the Mintzer lumberyard, on West Street. If granted, municipal tax assessment would stay at its current level ($366,300) for the next five years. The city is also looking at improvements to the surrounding area, to add more appeal to this western gateway to Rutland's downtown.

In an effort to improve the ambiance at Depot Park, city crews removed the benches and trimmed down the taller hedges. City officials referred to a number of "undesirables" who had made the park seem threatening for other users.

Mount St. Joseph Academy will increase its enrollment by one-fifth, or from 80 to 100 by next year, if new principal, Sandra Wilkes, is successful in recruiting additional students. Over the following few years, she hopes for an increase of even more, brought in with transportation incentives and other recruiting strategies, including a promise to make them "150 percent prepared" for whatever college they desire to attend.

Volunteers recently completed a four-year cleanup effort at the poor farm cemetery, off Woodstock Avenue near the transfer station. Cemetery commissioner Tom Giffin led the effort, pushed, he's fond of saying, by his dad Cliff.
The workers cleaned up the brush and installed a new fence. Artistic Memorials of West Rutland donated a memorial stone for the unrecorded persons buried there. Stafford Tech students built an informational kiosk. Department of Corrections crews will maintain the property.

Congratulations to Sandi and Scott Switzer, whose company Video Unlimited recently premiered a documentary about life in the Charterhouse of the Transfiguration, the Carthusian monastery on Mount Equinox. The film is run during the monastery visitor center's open hours, to let visitors know what life is like on the inside, in an environment from which visitors are barred and the only Carthusian monastery in North America.

Friday, October 5 - Timeless comedian Bob Newhart visits the Paramount stage. Television fans likely remember his three sitcoms; one supposedly located in a Vermont inn or, more recently, his role as library head Judson in The Librarian made-for-TV movies. Others think of his numerous comedy albums, or numerous movie appearances. If he's true to form, expect a sell-out crowd. 775-0903
Saturday, October 6 - Harvest Fest, downtown Rutland, includes Trash 2 Art 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday, October 6 - Boulder's Big Head Todd & the Monsters at the Paramount in Rutland. 775-0903.
Saturday and Sunday, October 6 and 7 - Chaffee Art Center's 51st annual Art in the Park Fall Festival, Main Street Park, Rutland. 775-0356. And more art across and around Rutland during Fall Open Studio Weekend. Pick up brochures at the Chaffee.
Wednesday, October 10 - The movie As Goes Janesville, documentary of a community as its General Motors plant closes followed by post-film Q&A. 773-1860.