The Mountain Times

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News briefs from the Rutland Region (3)

Recreation audit out to bid
The alderman board voted to accept bids on a four-year forensic audit of the city's recreation and parks department. Proponents believe an external audit is the best way to restore public confidence.
Former recreation superintendent EJay Bishop admitted he spent about $47,000 for architectural services without the board's approval. Although Bishop over-stepped his authority, he was trying to achieve what he felt was the city's long-term good, his supporters say.
Examining bids will set a figure for the audit, but what entity will provide the funds is another question. Mayor Louras has already nixed use of the city contingency fund.
As it is, an audit may yield too little information to be worth the expense, let alone the public uproar. Neither a standard nor a forensic audit was likely to catch the monetary glitch. City financial procedures did. The city's internal auditor caught the expenditures as part of a year-end accounting procedure, studying all companies receiving more than $5,000 to see what they supplied.

Pathway planned
The aldermen are considering improvements to Baxter St. Alley, a pathway connecting Baxter St. to West St. also known as Burns' Alley. The Vermont Farmers Food Center has already designed a plan for the project, complete with lighting, and an estimate somewhat higher than $64,000. Community donors have offered to pitch in some in-kind, monetary and volunteer contributions, paring project cost by about $11,000.
VFCC president Greg Cox views the project as beneficial on multiple fronts, reducing drug use and crime, and providing a connection between the city's northwest neighborhood and downtown. Vermont Railway holds title to the path's right of way.

Preserving the rail car
Also on Greg Cox's plate is building an enclosure for the century-old passenger rail car scheduled to be given to the city by Vermont Railway in October. Funding for that project has yet to be raised. Railroad representatives have visited the site and final approval is pending. Then the rails that will hold the car will be connected and West Street will close temporarily while a pair of industrial cranes move the car to its new location.
The Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce has raised $10,000 to help finance the project; use of the cranes will soak up $8,000. Once in place, the car will become part of the Chamber's marketing plan for Rutland.

Planning for Halloween!
You might not feel the chill in the air yet, but fall is on its way. The Rutland Rec. Department is already accepting applications for this year's Halloween parade set for Oct. 26.

A campaign for new welcome signage
As a member of the Creative Economic group - not as executive director of the Downtown Rutland Partnership - Mike Coppinger is soliciting donations for new signage at city limits welcoming visitors to Rutland. He's trying to collect $7,300 to put fresh signs at the city's four main entrances: north and south on Route 7, east and west on Route 4. His vision is for one sign to display the city's branding image and collect tags for community groups such as Rotary, Kiwanis, and other messages like 'Click It or Tick It." Combining these welcoming messages would improve the impression visitors receive, he says.
The Department of Public Works has pledged $300 in support for Coppinger's campaign, while police and firefighters unions have expressed an interest in helping with the expense. Because the signs would be outside the downtown area, DRP is not planning to be involved. It has already put up a number of signs in and at entrances to downtown, including new banners on West Street. If private groups raise half the money, Coppinger has said he might ask the Board of Aldermen for the other half.
An option for sharing water and sewer?
An engineering study recently explored the feasibility of Center Rutland's connecting with West Rutland's water and sewer system. Rutland Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Jamie Stewart told the West Rutland select board that the municipality could draw 75 percent of the $1.7 million project from federal funds; the remainder could come from new user revenue without affect to West Rutland's current rate structure.
Engineer Mark Youngstrom had volunteered to write the report, saying he already possessed "99 percent" of the information needed because he had performed so much relevant work in the communities. The redevelopment of Center Rutland has long been hampered by its lack of municipal water and sewer.

Hazardous waste receives grant
The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources recently awarded $29,452 to the Rutland County Solid Waste District to help RCSWD with its hazardous waste pick-up and disposal programs. The funds aid the district to continue collecting hazardous waste from town transfer stations across the county as well as work with other programs that divert solid/hazardous waste from landfills and waste streams. A small part of the award also goes for outreach and education on the new law concerning organics.

Lani's weekly calendar picks
Friday, Aug. 30 - The Vermont State Fair opens providing a look at contemporary agriculture, 4-H projects, rides, concerts, displays, and lots of fun. Personal favorites include laughing with Rosaire's Racing Pigs, reveling in the young folks' livestock shows and horsemanship, seeing the fun and creativity of the 4-H animal costume class, wandering through the livestock barns, listening to music from the Sugarhouse Stage, eating freshly churned butter and midway food, and more. Continues through Sept. 8.
Sunday, Sept. 1 - The New Christy Minstrels and guest Barry McGuire bring music of the '60s to the Paramount stage. 3 p.m. 775-0903.