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Local
Fatal crash in Rutland shuts down Route 7

A multiple-car crash on Route 7 Thursday morning left one person dead and two injured, according to Rutland City Police Chief Brian Killcullen.

Kilcullen said they received word of a crash around 10 a.m. Thursday morning to a three-car collision on Route 7 and Rutland City Police responded with the Rutland City Fire Department, according to a statement releases by Vermont State Police.

Upon arriving, police said they had to force entry into one of the vehicles to extract the seriously injured person inside. The victim was transported to the Rutland Regional Medical Center, where they were pronounced dead as a result of injuries incurred in the crash.

Troopers said Timothy Hilder, 49, and Michael Reed, 27, both of Rutland, were taken to RRMC with what he believed were non-life-threatening injuries, Kilcullen said.

On Thursday afternoon, State Police said the name of the deceased would be withheld from release pending the family’s notification.

Reed was driving a passenger vehicle and Hilder was driving a box truck belonging to Foley Services. The crash left the cars totaled and a telephone pole dislodged and leaning on telephone wires outside the Smoke Shop on Route 7.

Hilder’s vehicle ended up traveling off the road on the north side of Rotary Park in Rutland.

The crash caused police to shut down Route 7 between Vernon and North streets for several hours after the roughly 10:30 a.m. event, while Vermont State Police Accident Reconstruction Team and Rutland City Police investigated the cause, the statement said. Vermont State Police, Rutland City Police, Rutland City Fire Department, Red Cross, the Department of Public Works, Mayor David Allaire and Green Mountain Power were on scene in late morning.

Allaire said Rutlanders were calling his office and others to make sure their loved ones weren’t involved in the crash, and by evening Kilcullen said the roadway was being prepared for re-opening to vehicles.

katelyn.barcellos

@rutlandherald.com


Josh Kuckens / Staff Photo  

Merganser Afloat

A female Hooded Merganser stays afloat in choppy waters on Woodbury’s Cranberry Meadow Pond on Tuesday.


News
Schaffer talks 'strength and resilience' to Chamber

Stefanie Schaffer inspired a city on Thursday.

Schaffer, 23, of Rutland, spoke at Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce at the Paramount Theatre, addressing the theme of “Strength and Resilience” to a room filled with legislators, business owners and community leaders who didn’t even cough or clear their throats while Schaffer talked about her recovery from her 2018 injury.

While in the Bahamas with family and friends, Schaffer got on a tour boat on June 30, 2018. The boat exploded, killing an Atlanta, Georgia, woman and injuring Schaffer so badly she would need to have both legs amputated. She had also suffered spinal cord injury and brain injuries.

She told the audience about her disappointment when a Boston doctor, whom she believed could “fix” her, told her she might not walk again.

“Here I was again, facing another problem that felt too big. I cried myself to sleep that night, and then I woke up, and I took everybody by surprise. I looked at them, and I said, ‘They said I wouldn’t survive, and I did. They said I wouldn’t get out of kidney failure, and I did. They say I won’t walk. Watch me.’ Maybe there wasn’t other people with the same injury as me that were out there walking. But why couldn’t I be the first?” she said.

On Thursday, Schaffer walked across the Paramount Stage on prosthetic legs, with assistance from a walker until helped to a chair behind the lectern where she spoke.

Early on, Schaffer talked about the position she had recently accepted as the ambassador for the 2019 Gift-of-Life Marathon.

On Thursday afternoon, Schaffer said she had accepted the offer to represent the blood donation marathon, which has allowed Rutland to set donation records, “without having to think about it.”

“Without blood being donated at the time I had been hurt, if there wasn’t that extra blood, I don’t think I would still be here,” she said.

Before her accident, Schaffer donated blood once, she said Thursday, but anemia had prevented her from being a regular donor.

She said she hoped potential donors would hear her story and understood how important it was to give blood.

“They may not see the people who are receiving their blood, or they may not know them, but they really can save lives. Maybe it’s an inconvenience to go out and donate blood on the day of a drive, but there are going to be people, and it’s really a life or death situation. I would hope to just be a reminder that it’s people like me that are here because of people that choose to donate,” she said.

During her speech to chamber members, Schaffer talked about how a positive mental attitude had turned around her recovery. As an example, she said she knew she faced real challenges the first time she tried to use prosthetics because her lengthy recovery to date had left her weak.

“But I didn’t care. No longer worried about how cool I was, if my bald spot was showing or even how terrified I was in that moment. I went down in front of that huge crowd that had gathered, and I strapped those legs on,” she said.

While Mary Cohen, executive director of the chamber, said Schaffer was chosen as the speaker because she embodied what the chamber leaders considered the Rutland area’s strength and resilience, the annual meeting covered other business.

Donald Billings, owner of Roots: The Restaurant and The Bakery in downtown Rutland, was named the 2019 Business Leader of the Year.

A new award, the Community Leader of the Year, was given to Terry Jarrosak, locally known by his on-air radio alias, Terry Jaye, the program manager for Catamount Radio. Jarrosak was introduced by Steve Costello who said Jarrosak’s contributions included working with the Gift-of-Life Marathon, the Stuff-A-Bus event collecting food for the needy and other charitable events.

But Schaffer was the final speaker for the event and shared lessons she’s learned since her life changed so drastically. She said if she could have known what challenges she faced, she probably would have pictured herself as someone who had been defeated and given up.

“I think we all tend to underestimate ourselves and until we jump into a challenge with everything that we have and all the support that we can find, we will never know what we are truly capable of. I may not be walking unassisted yet but what I have done is, I have gotten through more than 30 surgeries while keeping a smile on my face. I have stood on my own brand-new feet. I have walked with crutches. I have learned to bike with my hands and to swim with no feet. I have kayaked and traveled. I have met new people, cheered my sister on, laughed with my family and had glasses of wine with my friends. I haven’t just survived; I’m learning how to really live. And the best part is — I’m just getting started,” she said.

patrick.mcardle

@rutlandherald.com


Gareth Henderson / Staff Photo  

Scenic backdrop

The Ottauquechee River flows by Route 4 with the mountains in the background in West Bridgewater near the Killington line on Thursday afternoon.


Local
Aldermen consider dog poop issue

City officials said this week that existing laws should be enough to get people to clean up after their dogs, though there might need to be more vigorous enforcement.

City resident Julia Purdy went before the Board of Aldermen on Monday to ask whether the board could pass an anti-littering ordinance aimed specifically at dog waste. She said she has witnessed a number of people walking their dogs who bag up the poop but then leave the bags lying about. She said the most egregious case was near the Pet Cage at the corner of Grove and Crescent streets, where someone had been throwing bright blue bags of poop into East Creek.

“One of the staff members actually climbed down the bank into East Creek and collected about 20 of the bags,” she said. “If there’s something that could be done to alert the public that we don’t like this — it’s not sanitary. It’s not good for little kids playing.”

Board of Aldermen President Sharon Davis said the city’s dog ordinance does cover disposal of dog waste, with violations punishable by a $500 fine.

“We don’t have to recreate the wheel,” she said. “It’s already there. It’s enforcement that’s the issue.”

City Attorney Matt Bloomer suggested referring the issue to the public safety committee and said they should make sure the police are being notified of persistent trouble spots.

“We do a lot of data policing,” he said. “People should be calling, not 911, but the regular dispatch number, to report where they’re finding this.”

Purdy said she wasn’t sure this was something the police should be burdened with.

“You’re not going to be able to put somebody there when you’ve got everything else to do,” she said.

Davis agreed the police would likely have higher priorities, but Purdy suggested issuing a notice about the requirements along with dog licenses. After a quick side conversation with City Clerk Henry Heck, Davis said that seemed doable. Others on the board said it was also an area in which neighbors might be best off suggesting to errant dog walkers they need to be more conscientious.

gordon.dritschilo

@rutlandherald.com


News
East Poultney Bridge
Poultney residents voice concerns over bridge

POULTNEY — Multiple videos and photographs submitted by residents show oil tankers and flatbed trucks hauling large loads driving toward the East Poultney Bridge, which has an updated weight limit of 8 tons.

Town Manager Paul Donaldson said the town is exploring options prior to the total bridge replacement that the Agency of Transportation said is slated for 2023, given the state’s concern for the deteriorating abutments of the bridge.

In an email sent to town and state officials including Rep. Patricia McCoy, Donaldson and AOT, Poultney resident Nanette Greer claimed video footage of the bridge revealed several hundred vehicles crossing the bridge as opposed to the 50 to 100 speculated by Planning Commission Chairman Mark Teetor.

“My webcam, pointed at Thrall Road, is activated by passing vehicles,” Greer wrote in the email. “Each day it shows how many ‘events’ have taken place, i.e., how many times the camera was activated by passing vehicles. Although this number is not exact, it is most likely a low indicator of how many vehicles pass on a daily basis, as sometimes multiple vehicles pass at one time, only causing one activation, or event. Over the past 10 days, please note there have been approximately 190-400 events per day.”

Though the bridge has been deemed safe to cross for vehicles weighing 8 tons or less per a structure inspection, inventory and appraisal sheet from the AOT, a photograph provided by Poultney resident Earle Provin showed a large fuel truck having just crossed the bridge.

Chris Keyser, former owner of Keyser Energy, provided some background on the average weight of fuel trucks which, though they can vary in size, tend to be around 30,000 pounds.

The 8-ton limit for the bridge is equivalent to 16,000 pounds.

“That’s not legal,” Keyser said of fuel trucks crossing a bridge with an 8-ton weight limit. “You can’t do that.”

A provided video showed a Sam’s U-Save truck driving toward the bridge, and Alan Parrott, owner of Sam’s U-Save Fuels, said they tell their drivers not to use the East Poultney Bridge.

“They shouldn’t be going across it,” Parrott said. “There’s a weight limit.”

Tom Stevens, sales and delivery representative for Marcell Oil Co., said he’s aware of weight limits in the towns he delivers to, such as Mount Holly, Ludlow and Manchester, and avoids places where he knows his truck is too heavy to cross.

“(Drivers) are generally aware of the limits as long as they are posted clearly,” Stevens said. Greer wrote in an email that she saw the Sam’s U-Save truck cross the bridge Thursday morning, along with a Marcell fuel truck, which she said crossed the bridge twice, and provided footage showing a transport truck with three axles and a bed with large metal containers on it passing Greer’s house toward the bridge.

Donaldson said whenever reports are made to the town about vehicles surpassing the weight limit of the bridge, town officials call the alleged companies and inform them about the weight limit.

McCoy praised the actions of the town and acknowledged that bridge repairs are expensive, and she wasn’t sure that folks on either side of the bridge were prepared to tolerate closure of the bridge.

“Every bridge in every town is in bad shape,” she said. “We were lucky we got the Vermont Route 140 bridge done. We had to fight to keep that on the schedule it was. Short of stationing a constable or police officer (at the bridge), the town is doing as much as they can possibly do.”

katelyn.barcellos

@rutlandherald.com


Spotlight

“In a democracy, people should decide what is credible, not tech companies. That’s why — like other internet platforms and broadcasters — we don’t fact check ads from politicians.”

Facebook, in an email sent Thursday to The Associated Press, attempts to clarify its policy following CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Congressional testimony Wednesday. — B8

Traffic stop

Two men from New York City are each facing 60 years in jail after being arrested in Shoreham on Wednesday and accused of trafficking drugs into Vermont. A3

‘North Star’

The late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., was remembered for a lifetime of service in a Thursday ceremony at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. A6


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Piandia

Traditional classical Indian music fused with contemporary jazz, with John Funkhouser on piano and Jerry Leake on tabla. $20, 7:30-9:45 p.m. Brandon Music, 62 Country Club Road, Brandon, edna@brandon-music.net, 247-4295.