The Mountain Times

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News briefs from the Rutland Region (2)

Hobby Lobby eyes Rutland
Arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby has been considering opening a store in Rutland. Although company officials admit that the chain is growing and hopes to open a store in Rutland, they have not yet announced a location. Speculation is that the former Hannaford supermarket on South Main Street behind Panera Bread, is among those being considered.
Hobby Lobby has said that it is opening as many as 34 stores this year and more than 50 next year; it already owns 557 stores in the U.S. but none yet in Vermont.
The faith-based chain is currently fighting an Obamacare mandate to avoid providing employee insurance coverage for the morning-after pill, with the argument that doing so violates its religious beliefs.

Pasqually's has a new owner
Donna Garruso recently purchased the sandwich shop Pasqually's, 162 N. Main St., Rutland. She anticipates continuing to make and serve the steak and chicken bombs that have been the mainstay of the shop, formerly owned by Mitch and Elizabeth Morgan. In the future, she anticipates adding a few Italian favorites to the menu.

Midway Diner to become iHop
Pancakes are on the horizon at the edge of downtown Rutland. Sam Handy is leasing 120 South Main St., the former Midway Diner, from Frank Trombetta Jr. and business partner John Valente. By November, the site will hold an IHOP restaurant. 
Handy has been trying to bring the pancake chain to Rutland for several years, first wanting to build one next door to the Ponderosa restaurant; it would have been the first IHOP in the state. Vermont's Act 250 peculiarities delayed the project, and Handy opened the first Vermont IHOP in Burlington. Financing kinks slowed down his intended purchase of the Midway Diner more recently, but his persistence paid off in the lease he recently signed. 
Handy plans to hire 75 to 100 workers in the new eatery and has said that all current Midway employees are welcome to apply for a job. Once construction is completed, the new IHOP will seat 165 patrons and be open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. It will serve breakfast all day long.
Although good pancakes are a treat, seeing the closure of the "dining car" diner triggers a twinge of nostalgia for many. The stainless steel façade and aerodynamic shape of a railroad dining car can be seen as elements of a vanishing American landscape.

Congratulations youth fly-fisher
Cameron Chioffi, who recently won a gold medal in the World Cup Youth Fly Fishing Tournament. Chioffi first joined Team UA in 2001. He scored a first on two river competitions, a third on one lake venue and first on the second, and a second on the first, for a total placing-points score of 8. The tournament took place in Dundalk, Ireland.

Alderman proposes bike helmet requirement for youth
Alderman Ed Larson is asking the Board of Aldermen to consider enacting an ordinance requiring bicycle helmets on the heats of city cyclists age 15 and under. We understand brain injuries better than in years past, Larson says; he believes requiring helmets would protect young brains enough to prevent many accidents from causing paralysis or death. A number of community organizations already provide helmets for young riders, circumstances that derail arguments that the cost of the headgear would keep financially disabled children from riding.

Audit of city Parks and Rec dept. expected to show no foul play
The aldermen, acting as the Committee of the Whole, recently voted to recommend that the Board of Aldermen seek bidding for a forensic audit of the Recreation and Parks Department over the past four years. The hope is that the audit would help restore public confidence in the city's governance.
What an audit would look for is fraud or theft. Recently resigned recreation superintendent EJay Bishop admitted making unauthorized expenditures of some $47,000 for architectural services. Aldermen who supported the audit have stated they do not expect to find illegal activities, but feel the audit will demonstrate that lack to the public at large.

Foley joins Roundtable
Mark Foley, Jr., recently became the newest member of the Vermont Business Roundtable. The owner and president of Foley Services, the oldest family-run laundry operation in the U.S. for restaurant linens and uniforms, Foley is a member of the Board of Directors and chair of the Real Estate Committee for Rutland Economic Development Corporation, and board president of the Paramount Theatre.

Potential for occupancy at former Pepsi bottling plant
Changes seem to be underway for the former Pepsi bottling plant on Route 7B in Clarendon, but what they may be is not yet obvious. Commercial realtor Ray Ault, representing the property owner, said the building was most recently occupied until April. Green Mountain Power used it as a hub from which to distribute and install new meters for about 18 months.
Members of the community recently expressed concern over potential changes in use by an unnamed new owner. The building is currently zoned "commercial."
Although Ault noted that he cannot comment on the building's status while a contract is under negotiation, but did comment that "It takes so long for owners, buyers, and tenants to get through the process." Time is required to discern whether the structure's anticipated use fits within an individual town's permitted use or a conditional use permit must be sought.
Although there has been talk that an Act 250 permit had been filed for the site, the only statewide paperwork issued is for a nearby subdivision for Green Mountain Power, and listing Pepsi Bottling Ventures on the permit application because of right-of-way issues. A public forum to discuss a potential zoning change has been scheduled, sponsored by REDC and held at the Clarendon Grange Community Center. The buyer has not yet been revealed.

New mural painted downtown
See the newest mural downtown, on the side of the Service Building, siding the Merchants Row entrance to Center Street Alley. As murals go, this newest painting is small, about 12 feet by 8 feet. It is the third downtown mural created by Kathryn Wiegers; others brighten the side of the Rutland Natural Foods Market on Wales Street and overlook West Street. In the fall, there will be another work of art to delight downtowners: on the side of the Gryphon Building, enhancing the view of Green Mountain Power's Energy Innovation Center on Merchants Row.

Warning stickers placed on downtown parking meters
The city's Department of Public Works has been putting warning stickers on two-hour parking meters, warning parkers to not try to park all day and continuously feed the meters. Look for a long-term meter if you plan to stay more than two hours.

New Flea Market seeks vendors
Roseanne Smalley is looking for vendors who have something to sell at her new Rutland Area Flea Market, 200 West Street. The former site of Rutland Motorcars, adjacent to the Vermont Farmers Foodcenter, will be open alternate weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Smalley hopes to attract casual vendors, people who want to sell possessions they no longer want once or twice a year, as well as those who vend professionally. There is room for up to 35 sellers. Smalley plans a grand opening Labor Day weekend, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. Call 770-9104.

Lani's weekly calendar picks
Thursday, Aug. 22 - Roots music guitar virtuoso and winner of the International Blues Challenge award, Toby Walker performs in the Brick Box at the Paramount Theatre. 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 25 - The Rutland County Humane Society hosts a Dog Days of Summer pool party at White's Pool, 1 to 3 p.m. Free swimming (dogs only), games, fun!
Thursday, Aug. 29 - Rutland Economic Development Corp., 112 Quality Ln., hosts a three-hour workshop on Starting Your Own Small Business.