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Rutland remembers statesman Hull Maynard

On Friday, members of the Rutland community mourned the loss of one of their favorite bicycling legislators: Hull Maynard, longtime legislator, business owner and family man, passed away at 85 years old.

“He was one of the nicest, most genuine people,” said former senator Peg Flory, who took over Maynard’s seat in the Legislature. “Everyone knew who Hull was.”

Maynard was a Connecticut native and Middlebury College graduate, who many locals said was known for his gentle nature, love of tennis and passion for the outdoors.

If he wasn’t on foot, Maynard could be found on his bicycle, whether it was campaigning, riding in parades, or just cruising around town.

“He went everywhere on his bike,” Flory said. “He’d go door to door, town to town on his bike. He was no spring chicken, but he was always on his bike.”

“When he campaigned, he’d park outside of town and ride into town on his bike,” said Sen. Cheryl Hooker. “He was very athletic, very fit.”

Maynard lived in Shrewsbury and raised four children with his wife, Taffy, served in the Korean War, and started the Hull Maynard Hersey Insurance agency.

“He was a really good businessman,” said longtime friend and fellow legislator Kevin Mullin. “He really wanted to do good things for the Rutland community. ... People thought that he would have a tough time running, but he won.”

Mullin said Maynard would joke about the handful of votes that won him his seat, and always had a wonderful sense of humor.

In addition to family, Mullin said Maynard had strong passions for transportation and educational opportunities for Vermonters.

“He really felt that education was the real equalizer,” Mullin said. “He did everything he could to improve it.”

Maynard was known for his frequent visits to community meals, whether they were church suppers or breakfasts at the American Legion.

“He didn’t do what a lot of politicians do these days,” Mullin said. “He didn’t grandstand. ... It didn’t matter if you were a Democrat or a Republican, he just wanted everyone to do their best.”

Maynard was especially helpful to Mullin in Mullin’s early days in politics, showing him the best corners for sign waves, the right times to stop in and visit locals at breakfasts and how to navigate the State House.

“His wife was with Hull everywhere,” Flory said. “I can remember him telling me, ‘You can eat your way around the county. Taffy and I love it.’”

While in Montpelier, former legislator John Bloomer said he always expressed a fierce loyalty to Rutland County and its residents, especially its farmers, and was an early proponent of hemp as a transitional crop for Vermont’s dairy farmers decades ago.

“He had a big heart,” Bloomer said. “He always went above and beyond the call.”

Maynard’s generous nature rubbed off on his community, which in turn came to his aid. When his house burned, community members raised money for him and his family by sponsoring a locally-organized dinner, Hooker said.

“Hull had a great love for ice cream,” Mullin fondly recalled. “He always knew where the best ice cream was anywhere. ... My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. We’ve lost a great statesman.”



Gareth Henderson / Staff Photo  

City stroll

Josh Peterson, of Rutland, walks his dog, Boulder, a great Dane-pointer mix, down the sidewalk along Route 7 in Rutland City on Friday afternoon.

Witness: Man stabbed over drug debt

A Poultney man is facing life in prison after police said he stabbed a local man twice July 23 in Rutland after a dispute that may have involved a drug debt and a woman who said she had been trading sex for crack cocaine, according to a detective with the Rutland City Police Department.

Javon E. Wright, 34, of Poultney, pleaded not guilty Thursday in Rutland criminal court to a felony count of attempted second-degree murder and a felony charge of aggravated assault with a weapon.

Wright, who is also known as “B,” “M,” “Hood” and “Ace,” is being held without bail at the Rutland jail.

In an almost 20-page affidavit, Detective Emilio Rosario, of the Rutland City Police Department, said police were initially told on July 23 that a man had been stabbed on Baxter Street near West Street.

The alleged victim was being treated at Rutland Regional Medical Center when Rosario first spoke with him. Rosario said the man gave police a false story about the stabbing.

However, the man said he had been taken to the hospital by two women whom he said he didn’t know. Police were able to track down one of the women and learned the stabbing actually took place in her Pine Street home.

She was found with a second female, another witness to Williams’ stabbing, on State Street. Both women agreed to speak with police.

Through the preliminary investigation, police learned a third woman was also present at the Pine Street home.

When Rosario spoke to the alleged stabbing victim again on July 23, he said a man came into the Pine Street home with another man the victim said he didn’t know, whom police later identified as Wright. He said Wright stabbed him twice and then left.

The victim told police he believed one of the men “set him up.”

Rosario said he ended the questioning because the victim was being taken by helicopter to the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington.

The other man told police he brought Wright, whom he knew as “Hood,” to the Pine Street home, but said he was unaware that Wright knew the alleged victim — nor did he know Wright was going to stab the man.

On July 24, Rosario was able to contact the third woman with the help of Fair Haven Police Chief William Humphries.

According to the affidavit, the woman told police that she knew the victim, whom she said was a friend, and had “ripped off” $900 in crack cocaine from the man she knew as “B.” The woman said she was also a witness to the stabbing.

According to Rosario, the woman became very upset because the victim had been hurt, and she said she should have stayed to make sure he got help after he was stabbed.

The woman told police Wright had introduced her to the victim and told her to help him sell drugs Wright gave him. The woman said she “knew something bad would happen if ‘B’ (aka Wright) was not paid for the crack.”

While the woman told Rosario she was no longer a prostitute, she said she had sex with people in exchange for crack cocaine, the affidavit said.

“Detective (Ryan) Ashe asked (the woman) if she wanted to get out of this life. (She) said no, she hoped she would die. Detective Ashe asked if she would be willing to speak with someone that could help her. (She) said, ‘No.’ … (She) said the only reason she wants to live is because of her dog,” the affidavit said.

The woman told police she and the victim didn’t sell any of the crack cocaine they were supposed to sell, but smoked all of it at the Pine Street home.

She said after Wright allegedly stabbed the victim, she was afraid he was going to kill her. She said Wright told her he had wanted her to hold onto the crack cocaine because the victim had “ripped him off before.”

Rosario said troopers with the New York State Police had stopped Wright on Aug. 7. He was still under federal supervision after being convicted in 2017 for conspiring to sell drugs.

While Rosario didn’t provide a direct update on the victim’s condition, he said in the affidavit that he interviewed him at a local boarding house on Aug. 6.

After Wright was arrested on Tuesday, Rosario asked if he would be willing to talk about the alleged stabbing incident but Wright declined, according to the affidavit.

The attempted murder charge carries a presumptive minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum term of life in prison. The aggravated assault charge is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.



Longtime victim advocate moving on to local schools

After more than seven years of helping people who find themselves, often very unexpectedly, navigating the criminal justice system, Naomi Ross, one of two victim advocates with the Rutland County State’s Attorney’s Office, has left to work for Rutland City Schools.

Ross, 31, said she has had a “really challenging but incredibly rewarding job.”

“I think this is such a privilege to walk through really difficult things with people. People don’t ask to be victims of crime. It is truly an honor to be with people when they’re in almost the most devastating thing of their life. Nobody asks to be in these situations. Nobody wants to be in these situations,” she said.

Ross acknowledged that some people are in situations that make them more likely than others to be victims of crime but she added that bad things can happen to anyone regardless of what that person has done or what choices the person has made.

Ross’ job is to administer Vermont’s Victim’s Assistance Program, the statutory obligations that are in the victim’s rights chapter in Title 13 of the Vermont Statutes, she said on Friday.

“So that’s like a very wordy explanation of, keeping victims up to date with what is going on in their criminal cases, sort of being a liaison to the prosecutors and essentially doing what the title says, advocating for what victims would like to see happen and that doesn’t always coincide with what the state of Vermont wants to do,” she said.

Ross said her role is really to be a voice for “people who have gone through, sometimes, really horrific things.”

“This hasn’t just been a job for me. This has been my whole entire life for seven and a half years and it’s really just been an honor,” she said.

Ross gave credit to her fellow victim advocate, Shea McGee, and the other staff at the Rutland County State’s Attorney’s Office, as well as court staff and other support agencies, for providing the support that has allowed her to balance the needs of a stressful job with her personal life.

Sharing the burden with colleagues and others in similar services, like staff at the Vermont Department of Corrections, has been essential, Ross said.

Ross has lived in Rutland County since she was a child. She graduated from Mount St. Joseph Academy and Castleton University.

Her involvement with the criminal justice system predates her time with the state’s attorney’s office. She was an intern with the Vermont Department of Corrections’ office of probation and parole.

“I had a quick stint at Rutland Mental Health after I graduated. Obviously I needed a job and I wanted some experience and then this job opened up and I’ve been here ever since,” she said.

Rutland County State’s Attorney Rose Kennedy said Ross had been an “amazing victim advocate.”

“She’s brought a lot of comfort to people who have been victims of crimes which means sometimes (they’re) at the worst part of their life. We will truly miss her but I’m grateful that she’s going to be working with kids in the school district and I’m sure she’ll make a difference in their lives,” she said.

Working as a victim advocate has already allowed Ross to stretch. She said she has had to spend a lot of time keeping up with changes made by the Vermont Legislature so she can be sure she is providing victims with the most accurate information about what they can expect from the legal system.

Ross said she believed she had a positive affect on Vermont’s laws when she testified a few years ago in support of a bill that would prevent companies from discriminating against victims of a crime. She said that effort stemmed from working with a victim who was fired because her employer didn’t want the publicity coming from having a worker who was a victim of sexual assault.

Ross said she had learned some skills that she believes helped her do her job well.

“Listening would be the absolute top thing that I would tell anyone is just, listening. I can assume a lot of things about someone’s experience. I can guess how someone would feel but I really don’t know until I listen. I do a ton of listening. Sometimes that’s all people need. They need an ear to vent to or cry to or just to put it out in the universe to someone who can be compassionate and empathetic toward people’s experiences,” she said.

As a victim advocate, Ross was often the interface between law-enforcement personnel and the victim of a crime.

“The hard part is, I can’t fix everything, right? I can’t change the legal system for people. I can’t always change what the Legislature does or what they want to do. But being able to be really knowledgeable on those topics and explaining, ‘This is how things are’ and giving people options is important,” she said.

In her new role as a social worker at the schools, Ross will be working with middle school and high school students.

Kennedy said she will be looking for Ross’ successor and hopes to hire someone by the end of September.



Emergency telephone service
Town asked to join communication workshops

WALLINGFORD — The switch from copper wire to fiber optic lines has made emergency phone service dependent on electricity. Federal rules require service providers to supply customers with batteries that last several hours, but where power outages are sometimes multi-day events, that doesn’t solve the problem.

Cecile Betit said Friday that she’s had this issue several times in East Wallingford where she lives. A snowstorm knocked out power at her house last winter, and while the battery she uses left her with emergency phone service for 12 hours, the outage lasted a few days.

She and Jonathan Gibson, of Shrewsbury, went to the Wallingford Select Board Monday and asked the board to make the town party to a series of workshops being run by the Department of Public Service (DPS) exploring how to improve “service-provider backup power obligations.”

The DPS has conducted a couple of these workshops already, the last being on Aug 20, and plans to hold two more, said attorney Michael E. Tousley, hearing officer for the workshop series.

Tousley said the Legislature passed a bill last session instructing the Public Utility Commission to file a report in December recommending “best practices for minimizing disruptions to E-911 services during power outages.”

He said the Legislature wants four areas of this to be explored: Educating consumers and communities about the issue, technical and financial assistance to people and towns, cost-effective and efficient ways to distribute information and help to people affected, and how to monitor provider compliance.

According to draft minutes from the Wallingford Select Board meeting, the board agreed by consensus to be a party to the workshops and will review a draft letter at its next meeting asking to be included.

Betit said Andover, Mount Holly, Shrewsbury and Tinmouth have been involved in the discussions. These towns are on the service list of Tousley’s latest entry order, as are several service providers, including Kingdom Fiber, Topsham Telephone Co., Perkinsville Telephone Co., Franklin Telephone Co., Ludlow Telephone Co., Shoreham Telephone LLC, Waitsfield-Fayston Telephone Co., Inc., Northfield Telephone Co., Vermont Telephone Co., Valleynet Inc. and Consolidated Communications.

Also on the service list is Vermont Public Interest Research Group, the Enhanced 911 Board and the Vermont League of Cities and Towns.

Tousley said these workshops are nonadversarial and the public is welcome to participate either in person or by phone.

According to an Aug. 23 order filed by Tousley with the PUC, the next workshop is at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 19 in the Susan M. Hudson Hearing Room on the third floor of the People’s United Bank Building at 112 State St. in Montpelier. This workshop will focus on monitoring ongoing compliance. Those giving presentations are asked to file drafts by Sept. 12. Those who wish to participate by phone should call 1-631-992-3444 and use the PIN 4085308. He said to call in prior to the 1:30 p.m. start time.

There will be another workshop in October, Tousley said.



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