Late June storms flood streets and down trees, cut
A recent summer rain/windstorm took down trees and power lines, and
flooded parts of the city. Nearly 10,000 homes were without power
for a few hours. Rutland City Police Dispatch was busy handling
incoming and outgoing telephone calls, covering radio transmission
for all officers during the storm as well as Rutland City's public
works and fire departments; monitoring weather conditions; mapping
trees, downed lines and flooding; and coordinating ambulance
Recent storms point to one of Rutland downtown's ongoing
problems: moving storm water out of the transit center and other
low-lying areas. The city inflates a barrier across the transit
center entrance to keep the water out, and sidewalk work has slowed
the water flow, but those are not long-term solutions.
Redesigning the drainage system by separating storm water from
sewer is the most effective long-term approach, an expensive,
lengthy undertaking. Diverting storm water off West Street - water
that now flows off West into the Transit Center and floods
basements on Center Street and Merchants Row - and sending it
directly into East Creek would cost about $6 million, according to
estimates. Federal funding for such a diversion had been assured in
the past, but then available moneys evaporated.
There's not sufficient time to piggyback a water diversion to
the West Street repaving planned as part of reworking the
intersection of Routes 4 and 7.
The city is already separating storm water to meet state
mandates for Library Avenue, a $5 million project for 2014-2015, if
voters approve a construction bond the spring before. A similar
project for West Street is next on the city's list, but may
superseded by other work believed to be more crucial at the
Mill River leadership improvements?
A recent school board meeting at Mill River Union High School
proved more divisive than fruitful. MRUHS became eligible for
school improvement funds last year, which were used to hire Peter
Mello, co-director of Castleton State College's Center for Schools.
Mello was to coach the school to better results, working closely
with the principal.
As Mello examined the school, he concluded that
the school lacked consistent leadership, lacking stability and a
recognizable set of expectations. (The school has had six
principals in seven years.) Mello helped the principal develop a
school improvement plan with the help of school-based committees:
it called for revising the school's mission, clarifying leadership
issues, improving communication within the school, and addressing
student engagement and related concerns.
A year later, too little has been done toward those priorities,
according to the school's Teacher Staff association VP Cheryl
Hooker. Board chair Brownson Spencer responded by email, that
principal Andy Pomeroy had improved in most areas, according to the
annual review the superintendent presented at a board meeting
earlier in June and especially had improved his communication
skills. Spencer asked for more help from faculty, concentrating
less on their differences with Pomeroy and more on working to share
the principal's vision.
Hooker wasn't happy, saying Spencer's
communication was dismissive, and that he had missed the point. She
wants a "more appropriate response" and claims the school faces the
same issues it did two years ago.
Public safety services education
Rutland City police sergeant Deb Perkins is switching careers,
laying aside her badge for a classroom at Stafford Technical
Center, teaching the school's public safety services program. She
intends to teach what she's learned in more than 20 years in law
enforcement, filling a position being vacated by Stafford
instructor John D'Esposito, who initiated the program eight years
Housed on the College of St. Joseph campus, the law enforcement
program is the only Stafford program both located on a college
campus and taught by college instructors, D'Esposito said.
Enrollees have the opportunity to earn up to 30 college credits
during two years of instruction. If graduates enter the military,
their credits add to their rank; if they go on to college, they
enter as sophomores.
Fighting crime as a community
Citizen involvement is the way Rutland can free itself from its
morass of drugs and drug-related crime, police chief James Baker
told the audience at a recent special community meeting. A change
in the environment, including community participation, sends a
signal to the drug culture, he said. To put common situation in
perspective for the audience, Baker told of two individuals who
were committing theft to support heroin habits that required a
$900-plus daily expenditure.
Reporting suspicious activity is one way to fight crime. So is
making yourself less likely to be victimized. Simple things like
"taking valuables and keys in from the car, locking doors, and
arranging for house checks if going out of town. Don't give
criminals opportunity," he said.
As part of Baker's developing
approach, the city is divided into sectors, each with its own
sergeant to act as liaison. Sector one, including the downtown and
part of the northwest, runs east to west from Pierpoint Avenue to
North Main Street and as far north as Vernon Street, and is
assigned to Sgt. Matthew Prouty. The rest of the northwest
neighborhood is assigned to Sgt. Joseph Bartlett.
Sgts. Debra Perkins and Cpl. Gregory Sheldon oversee sector two,
the southwest neighborhoods. Sgt. Kevin Stevens oversees sector
three, all of the city east of Route 7. To report activity or
concerns in any of these neighborhoods, call 773-1816.
Tourism by rail, a promising beginning
The Massachusetts Bay Railroad Enthusiasts recently rode the
rails into Rutland, the first Mass Bay RRE excursion over the Green
Mountain Railroad since the group rode the "Whitehall Excursion" in
May 2004. The "Rutland Rocket" came from Bellows Falls, arriving
during the Famers Market at Depot Park, seeing Rutland at its
Alderman Ed Larson said he believes the occasion is a great time
for Rutland area folks to come to the depot and learn about local
railroad history. It also provided the railroad enthusiasts aboard
the train with good feelings about Rutland, encouraging them to
return to Rutland on future travels.
Chaffee improves entrance, holds classes
Although children's programming will continue through the summer in
the Chaffee Art Center, other activities in the building are on
hold until the Chaffee's Juried Artists Exhibit, which opens
Friday, August 2. The reason for the shutdown is the interruption
in traffic flow and possible safety hazard brought about by masonry
work on the front steps and the porch's stone foundation.
The Chaffee Art Center has already begun its series of summer
programming for children, a summer that studies different cultures,
paper-based arts, storytelling, and digital arts. Classes appeal to
a variety of different age groups, and include a young adult
writing workshop for people 18 years old and older. Evening
art classes for adults include painting and figure drawing.
Lani's weekly picks
Thursday, July 4 - Don't mess a day of fun at the Vermont State
Fairgrounds. The BROC flea market/'craft fair begins at 9 a.m.
Stoney Roberts Demolition Derby begins at 6:30 p.m. The Rutland
Region Chamber of Commerce fireworks light up the sky at 9:45
Friday, July 5 - Chaffee Art Center and the Rutland Area Farm &
Food Link partner to present the Farm/Food Show at the Chaffee
Downtown gallery, 75 Merchant Row. Artwork by Betsy Hubner and Amy
Mosher plus other artists. 775-0062.
Tuesday, July 9 - Summer Sunset 5K Running Series at Pine Hill Park
at Giorgetti Park. 6:30 p.m. trail run, 773-1853.
Wednesday, July 10 - Rutland Rec sponsors free dance class in Main
Street Park. This week it's TangoFlow!® with Cathy Salmons.
Wednesday July 10 - Marble City Swing Band performs in Main Street
Park, 7 p.m.
Wednesday and Thursday July 10 and 11 - The Paramount Theatre hosts
God of Carnage, an award-winning, strong-languaged comedy of two
couples who try to civilly discuss a playground fight between their
sons. Ahem! Learn how they really feel! 775-0903.