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Local
Rain, snowmelt cause flooding across Rutland County

Rain and melting snow overnight Sunday left road crews and emergency responders across Vermont with plenty to do Monday.

“It was a hit-or-miss storm across the region,” said Ed Bove, executive director of the Rutland Regional Planning Commission. The commission reaches out to its member towns after storms to take stock of damage and forward that information to the state.

Bove said if the damage total reaches a certain threshold, the state can access federal emergency funds for the repairs.

He said there might have been enough damage done statewide to trigger the release of those federal funds. He said seemingly small storms have done so in the past.

“The health and safety of Vermonters is our number-one priority today,” said Gov. Phil Scott in an email circulated by the state Department of Public Safety. “State personnel and our partners are working with local responders to that end, and the public can take simple steps to keep themselves safe — we are encouraging everyone to use caution and common sense around floodwaters.”

Emergency officials urged citizens not to drive through floodwaters.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation (AOT) posted numerous closures and lane restrictions to its Twitter feed, @AOTVermont, throughout the day.

Rutland City

A dam overtopped and a road spent a few hours closed, but most of the flooding was outside the city Monday.

“I don’t know why we’re escaping it,” Mayor David Allaire said Monday afternoon. “Considering the amount of rain around us, we’re very lucky in the city.”

Allaire said he had to abandon a trip to Montpelier to discuss the opioid epidemic because of flooding on Route 107.

Pearl Street was closed from 7 a.m. until about 1:30 p.m., according to city engineer James Rotundo, and the Dunklee Pond Dam overtopped.

“We put some material there to back it up, reinforce it,” Rotundo said.

Allaire said one resident near the dam was evacuated as a precautionary measure, but was able to return home later in the day.

The dam, which was built in the 1880s to create a pond for an ice-harvesting business, was officially declared a public safety hazard last year after city officials said it was “one pounding rainstorm away” from failing. Allaire said Monday the city is working with the state to create a plan and find funding to remove the dam.

“It’s probably going to take a year or two to put it all together, but we are going to move forward there,” he said.

Allaire said the state stationed a Middlebury-based rescue team in the city because it looked like the weather was going to be the most severe in Rutland County, and that the Rutland City Fire Department’s high-water rescue team deployed to get a motorist off the roof of his car after he got stuck in high water in Killington.

Rotundo said the city’s rain gauges measured 2.5 inches. He said the flood doors were closed at the Dorr Drive and River Street pump stations and that the sewer system was pumping at capacity.

“We started having overflows at all locations this morning,” he said. “Right now, we’re still going through and getting all the numbers.”

Pittsfield

Around 4:15 p.m., Green Mountain Power listed about 750 customers without power. More than half of them, about 450, were in Pittsfield.

Kristin Kelly, a spokeswoman for Green Mountain Power (GMP) said the outage was reported around 6:30 a.m. Two utility poles in the area of Pittsfield in Rutland County and Stockbridge in Windsor County were washed away after the White River had risen near the Timberhawk Recreation Area.

About 10 crew members were on the Pittsfield side of the river Monday morning in deep mud, slowly driving heavy utility trucks across soft roads. Crew members in that area said they were too busy trying to get power restored to explain what they were repairing.

Kelly said GMP crews were on scene early Monday between Route 100 and Blackmeer Road, but had to wait until the water receded before they could access the site.

Around 4:25 p.m., crews were on track to have the poles replaced and power restored by Monday evening.

Doug and Kim Kennedy, husband and wife, were serving customers Monday at the Original General Store in Pittsfield. Doug Kennedy said the store turned on its diesel generator around 6:45 a.m.

He said it had taken some doing to get all of the store’s equipment connected to extension cords. The general store was serving hot coffee but couldn’t take credit cards.

Josh and Nathaniel Kennedy, Doug and Kim’s sons, were visiting their parents at the store after a busy day with the Stockbridge Fire Department, where both are members.

They said Monday morning had been busy with swift water rescues including one where they safely got a resident, a dog and a cat out of a home and another where a driver whose car was stuck in the water had to be rescued.

Brandon

Several roads in town were closed Monday morning, said Brandon Fire Chief Roman Wdoviak, though no firefighters had been called out as of 1:30 p.m. The department posted to its Facebook page a long list of road closures. Among them were Wheeler Road and Union Street. According to the post, while water levels were down in some areas, they might rise again due to snowmelt. A flash flood warning was in effect Monday until 10 a.m. According to Brandon Fire Department, a river flood watch is in effect until 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Castleton

The repair work done to several roads that were damaged during mud season is holding up, said Town Manager Mike Jones, who spent Monday morning riding around with Castleton Police and firefighters.

He said Belgo Road was hit particularly hard by the latest rainfall. Water was going into one resident’s basement, which the highway crew was working to divert. Several culverts on East Hubbardton Road were overwhelmed, leading to water across the road in some areas. Some of the pavement has also been undermined, he said. Pond Hill Road was shut down as well, and there were a number of driveways covered by water.

Route 30 from Castleton Four Corners to Brown Four Corners was closed for several hours due to flooding, said Jones. Water came up to the doorstep of one business, he added, but didn’t flow in.

Route 4A was also closed, and remained so as of 3:30 p.m. Dewey Field was completely underwater, said Jones. There was some concern for the bridge on North Road, but according to Jones, it should be fine.

He said the highway crew will likely be working on repairs for days to come. Despite that, he said the damage wasn’t as bad as some had feared. Communication between the highway and fire departments, as well as emergency medical services, was good. He said ambulance crews and firefighters all know what roads are impacted in case there’s an emergency call.

Clarendon

Most roads south of Alfrecia Road were closed Monday morning, including Walker Mountain Road, known locally as “The Flats,” according to Clarendon Road Commissioner Cash Ruane.

“The water is fast, a lot more than I’ve seen in the past,” he said.

He said water is over the road in many places, and believes some erosion is taking place. Road closure signs are up, as are traffic cones where the roads have been undermined.

When reached by phone before noon, Ruane said it was too early to tell the extent of the damage. He said he’s heard reports of a few basements with water in them, but hasn’t heard of anything more serious. Town road crew members AOT workers have been out looking at town bridges. Ruane said none appear to be damaged, but the water was too high to tell with certainty.

Ruane said he’s aware of weather reports calling for more rain later in the day.

Pittsford

Town Manager John Haverstock said several roads were affected by the water, but compared to other areas, the town got off light. Corn Hill Road was closed temporarily, and while it’s being repaired, it’s now passable.

The Pittsford Town Fire Department posted to its Facebook page Monday a list of several road closures. Gorham Bridge Road, Elm Street, Depot Hill Road and Goat Farm Road were closed. Corn Hill Road was restricted to one lane at the time of the posting, owing to a washout near Fox Farm.

Proctor

In Proctor, Mike Andronaco, of Richard Reed & Son Contractors in Pittsford, said he and other workers were trying to put a section of Williams Street, near the intersection with East Street, back into use.

While other sections of the road on the other side of East Street were damaged, Andronaco said the priority Monday afternoon was to make the road safe enough for people to get to and from their homes.

In Rochester, AOT crews were working on a culvert near Riverbend Farm that had backed up and created a hole near the side of the road that seemed to threaten to undermine the road.

Rutland Town

In Rutland Town, Road Commissioner Byron Hathaway said the biggest trouble spot was Post Road and the intersection with Route 7, noting that a road closure there put additional traffic onto town roads.

McKinley Avenue also saw a closure, Hathaway said, and there were washouts on each side of McKinley Avenue Hill, where some pavement was lost. He said the damage there was likely to cost about $5,000 in repairs.

Hathaway said this was one of the more significant weather events he’s seen in town.

Wallingford

Deputy Fire Chief Mark Barone said there hadn’t been much flooding in Wallingford — only the south end of Hartsboro Road was closed due to high water.

Staff writers Patrick McArdle and Gordon Dritschilo contributed to this report.

keith.whitcomb

@rutlandherald.com


rlayman / Robert Layman / Staff Photo  

Cars drive through high water near the Price Chopper on Business Route 4 in West Rutland on Monday.


Local
GMP all in on renewables, carbon-free

Officials at Green Mountain Power announced on Saturday an “energy vision” to have all of the energy the utility supplies be carbon free by 2025 and all of that supply generated by renewable sources by 2030.

Green Mountain Power (GMP) committed in 2008 to innovating and moving quickly to increase renewable energy resources. Their current energy supply is 90% carbon free and more than 60% renewable, according to a statement released on Saturday.

The new goal was announced during the GMP Earth Day Every Day Fair in South Burlington on Saturday.

According to GMP their news goal is among the most aggressive carbon targets for a utility of GP’s size in the country.

Mary Powell, president and CEO of GMP, said in a statement that much can be accomplished in Vermont “to cut carbon, and at the same time increase reliability for customers in the face of increasingly frequent and severe storms.”

Powell cited the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

“The report issued in October of 2018 shows we have just 12 years to bend back the curve on carbon. Green Mountain Power is determined that through innovation, collaboration and grit, we can make remarkable strides and be the example of the change we want to see and deliver this energy future to benefit the customers we serve,” Powell said.

The goal would be pursued by ramping up local distributed resources for generating and storing energy and increasing the purchase of carbon-free wind and hydro energy.

GMP serves more than 75% of Vermont. More than 15,000 GMP customers are now being served by independent solar companies at their homes and more than 3,000 commercial and industrial customers are doing the same.

Another tactic is the use of stored energy, generated by two existing solar storage installations and three more being built this year, to cut carbon and costs by lowering peak energy costs, when power is the most expensive and dirty.

In a statement, William Dodge, chairman of the Essex Energy Committee, called GMP’s goal “wonderful news and a bold move.”

“Vermont’s ‘90 percent renewable by 2050’ goal is difficult to achieve without residents in Essex and elsewhere really putting our shoulder to the wheel when it comes to how we drive, heat our homes, and use electricity. But with GMP’s total commitment to carbon-neutral, clean electricity, Vermont is in a substantially better position to achieve its ‘90 by 2050’ goal,” he said.

One of GMP’s new solar storage installations is expected to be built in Essex.

According to GMP, transportation and heating are the two biggest sources of carbon emissions in Vermont.

With emissions still rising despite action by many across the state to bend the curve, and with the need for major transformation of Vermont’s transportation and home heating sectors, GMP will be hosting a series of events to provide Vermonters with more information about all of the existing technologies available to them to transition to a cleaner, affordable and resilient future.

“As a customer-obsessed energy company, we’ve delivered on our promise to help customers transition to a community-, home-, and business-based energy system that is greener and more resilient through energy storage options like home batteries, and options for charging electric vehicles,” Powell said. Powell added that partnerships with Efficiency Vermont and the Vermont renewable energy community have been and will continue to be critical to meeting the goal.

patrick.mcardle@rutlandherald.com


AP
Sanders releases 10 years of long-awaited tax returns

WASHINGTON — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday released 10 years of his long-anticipated tax returns as he campaigns for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

The returns provide a more detailed look at Sanders’ finances than when he ran for president in 2016. The release also confirms that Sanders’ income crossed the $1 million threshold in 2016 and 2017, though he reported less earnings in his most recent return.

His 2018 return reveals that he and his wife, Jane, earned more than $550,000, including $133,000 in income from his Senate salary and $391,000 in sales of his book, “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In.” Sanders’ campaign said in a news release that he paid 26% effective tax rate in 2018.

During his first presidential bid, Sanders released just one year of his tax returns despite primary rival Hillary Clinton pushing him to follow her lead and release multiple years of tax information. He declined to do so, disclosing only his tax return for 2014. Tax transparency has been in the spotlight as Donald Trump bucks decades of presidential tradition by declining to show voters his tax filings and House Democrats seek to force him to turn them over.

During a Fox News Channel town hall on Monday, Sanders said that he’d increased his income by publishing a book — he’s written two with campaign themes — and that he wouldn’t apologize for that. He also challenged Trump to release his tax returns.

“I guess the president watches your network a little bit, right?” Sanders said to the moderators. “Hey, President Trump. My wife and I just released 10 years. Please do the same.”

The filings show that Sanders, who throughout his career has called for an economy and government that works for everyone and not just the 1 percent, is among the top 1 percent of earners in the U.S. According to the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute. Families in the U.S. earning $421,926 or more a year are part of this group.

In a statement accompanying the release, Sanders said that the returns show that his family has been “fortunate,” something he is grateful for after growing up in a family that lived paycheck to paycheck.

“I consider paying more in taxes as my income rose to be both an obligation and an investment in our country. I will continue to fight to make our tax system more progressive so that our country has the resources to guarantee the American Dream to all people,” Sanders added.

Sanders, 77, has also listed Social Security payments for each year of the decade of tax returns he made available Monday. By 2018, his wife, 69, was also taking Social Security, providing the couple with nearly $52,000 for the year.

Sanders’ status as a millionaire, which he acknowledged last week, was cemented in his 2017 statement. That year, Sanders disclosed $1.31 million income, combined from his Senate salary and $961,000 in book royalties and sales. His higher income in two of the three most recent years could potentially prompt questions from voters about his frequent criticisms of the influence that millionaires and billionaires have over the political process.

Sanders and his wife disclosed $36,300 in charitable contributions in 2017, but their return does not detail each individual contribution. That same year, the couple announced publicly that they had donated $25,000 as a grant to launch the Sanders Institute, a nonprofit educational organization aligned with the senator’s political and ideological interests.

Jane Sanders was a co-founder of the nonprofit, along with her son, David Driscoll, who became the institute’s executive director. Sanders and his wife put the institute on hiatus last month amid criticism that the nonprofit blurred lines between family, fundraising and campaigning. Jane Sanders said the nonprofit would cease operations beginning in May “so there could not even be an appearance of impropriety.”

A number of Sanders’ rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination — including Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota — have released tax records to varying degrees. Gillibrand was the first candidate to release her 2018 tax returns, and her campaign released a video in which she called on other candidates to join her.

Warren, who has also already released her 2018 tax returns, made public 10 years of tax information last year. Harris released 15 years of tax returns over the weekend. Klobuchar released her 2018 tax return on Monday and said in a campaign video that she hoped Trump, who spent the day campaigning in Minnesota, would release his own taxes on his trip to the state. (He didn’t.)


Kate Barcellos / Staff Photo/  

From left, Killington Elementary School students Tobé Smith, brothers William and Christian Bisceglia, and Leland Hall present the fourth-grade math project they entered into the 3rd annual Vermont State Math Competition at the University of Vermont earlier this month.


Spotlight

High score

Killington fourth-grade students brought home the first and second place honors at the 3rd annual Vermont State Math Fair at the University of Vermont. A2

Photo finish

Lawrence Cherono outkicked Lelisa Desisa in a sprint to the tape to win the 123rd Boston Marathon in 2 hours, 7 minutes 57 seconds. B2

Tragedy

A catastrophic fire engulfed the upper reaches of Paris’ soaring Notre Dame Cathedral as it was undergoing renovations, threatening one of the greatest architectural treasures of the Western world. B4


Local
Flood waters trap man in parking lot

KILLINGTON — A New York man was rescued from a flooded parking lot Monday.

Killington Police Chief Whit Montgomery said Killington Fire and Rescue was alerted by people traveling Route 4 that someone was trapped by rising floodwaters in one of the parking lots for the Killington Skyeship Base Lodge, a gondola that’s part of Killington Ski Resort.

The department requested the help of the Rutland City Fire Department through the mutual aid program, which dispatched its water rescue team.

Montgomery said the rescued man was Anthony Szeliga, 23, of Niagara Falls, New York. He was uninjured and taken to a nearby hotel. Montgomery said Szeliga was spending the night in his vehicle, a Chevrolet Trailblazer, and didn’t notice the rising water until morning.

Montgomery said it’s quite common for people to spend a night or two in that parking lot, and while it can flood, this is a rare occurrence.

He said besides a few washed out driveways, Killington didn’t receive much damage from Sunday night’s rainfall.

According to Rutland City Fire Chief Jim Larsen, the department’s water rescue team normally consists of six people and serves the entire county. He said three crew members were sent to Killington for this incident, while the others remained in the city. Eight firefighters from Middlebury Fire Department who are trained in water rescue have also come to Rutland City, should their services be needed elsewhere in the area.

Larsen said one of the most important things people can do to stay out of trouble is to not drive through flooded roadways. He said there’s no way to tell how deep the water is, or how fast it’s moving.

keith.whitcomb

@rutlandherald.com


RHD Hotspot

Friday

Paint & Sip Fundraiser

Benefits Lady Revolution AAU girls basketball team. Supplies and instruction included. No experience necessary, fun for all ages. $40, 6-9 p.m. Holiday Inn: Green Mointain Room, 476 Holiday Drive, Rutland, Juliedelaney17@yahoo.com, 603-504-8585.