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Evergreen cuts waiting time for treatment

Hoping to get more people who are ready for treatment into the right program, Evergreen Substance Abuse Services moved to an open-access model this week.

Clay Gilbert, executive director of Evergreen, which is in the BROC building on Union Street, said the staff tries to make appointments as soon as possible when people call seeking treatment. At times, however, those initial appointments are a few weeks from that first call or even longer.

“When that happens, people aren’t getting treatment when they need to,” he said. “But you also start getting a lot more no-shows because you might want to get sober today, but tomorrow or a few days from today, I may have changed my mind.”

Gilbert said he can only staff Evergreen for what he expects to be the traffic of the day. When appointments are missed, staff members are sitting idle and people needing help for substance abuse are waiting instead of taking advantage of that desire for treatment.

“What’s always been very aggravating and frustrating to me is, we’re in that situation, and I have a couple of councilors who have no-shows — they have empty chairs, but we have people calling up, and they’re getting appointments to weeks from then, yet we still have an empty chair there. It’s like, ‘That doesn’t make much sense,’” Gilbert said.

After considering the problem for some time and researching how other substance abuse centers have responded, Gilbert said he decided to institute an open-access model.

Instead of giving appointments, staff members tell callers about the open hours so a new client can just come at the right time for the client.

The open access hours are from noon to 4:30 p.m. Monday; from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday; from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday; and from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday. There are no open access hours on Tuesday.

The Thursday schedule was set to accommodate people who wouldn’t be able to seek services during the day.

Gilbert said the open-access model started Monday and worked out well during its first week.

“I’m sure as we move along and the word gets out there more, we may have to tweak it or adjust it,” he said.

The change was announced at Thursday’s Project VISION meeting by Dr. Jeffrey McKee, vice president of community and behavioral health services at Rutland Regional Medical Center. Gilbert had told the community health committee about what is expected to be a better way to connect people who need substance abuse treatment with services.

“We know the longer someone delays between the time that they choose to seek treatment and the availability of treatment, the less likely they will be to follow through. So having open access is a huge step forward in breaking down barriers for people seeking appropriate treatment and getting connected with the treatment resources they need,” he said.

McKee said open access is considered a best practice model that McKee said he had seen used across the country, but he said he “hasn’t seen a lot of it in Vermont.”

Gilbert said his research had indicated that treatment centers that tried open-access models had seen positive results.

McKee said he was pleased the new model was brought out during a Project VISION meeting.

“That synergy that happens between the treatment providers, sharing their ideas and the things that they’re working on, really did have that affect. I think it was helpful in this case,” he said.

McKee said Rutland Regional has an outpatient behavioral health clinic that has already used an open access model for a few months.

“We’re trying to do something very similar at West Ridge Center again, around the theme of breaking down barriers to people accessing treatment when they need it,” he said.

Evergreen, which is part of Rutland Mental Health, provides outpatient treatment for people with addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Its array of services include group and individual counseling, specific classes for either gender and a driving awareness class, formerly known as CRASH. The program, now known as the Impaired Driver Rehabilitation Program is a requirement for people who are seeking to reinstate their licenses after a conviction for driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

Gilbert said there are various programs that will help people who need treatment but can’t afford it to get the help they need.

“I’ve been here 17 years, and I have not yet turned anyone away because of an inability to pay,” he said.


Robert Layman / Staff Photo  

Sorting It Out

Connor Magnuson sorts through apples at Yoder Farm in Danby on Thursday morning. See page B3 for a story about this year’s strong apple crop.

Local ninja competes in 'Warrior Junior'

MONTPELIER — This weekend “American Ninja Warrior Junior” will premiere on the Universal Kids channel, reaching 59 million homes, and Montpelier’s Cabot Sayles will be watching, hoping to catch a glimpse of himself on television.

Sayles, 14, was accepted for a junior-division spin-off of the hugely popular, five-time Emmy-nominated reality TV show “American Ninja Warrior,” where competitors are challenged by insane obstacle courses that reward strength, agility and endurance.

“I’m not exactly sure how many episodes there will be, but it will be a series like the normal show. I don’t really think the TV exposure will have that much of an impact on me at all, actually. It’s just cool that it happened,” said the Montpelier High school freshman.

Sayles found the sport of ninja about a year ago when he was looking for something else to do during the winter months. Now he is traveling to the Vermont Ninja Warrior Training Center at the Regal Gymnastic Academy in Essex three to four times a week.

“I really enjoy being active and having high intensity athletics to do,” he said. “I’ve always liked being physical and active and running around, and stuff like that, so having something like this where it combines all of that kind of stuff is really cool. It’s lots of upper body strength. There is speed involved; the ability to flow and know your body, and move through obstacles.”

Nationally, there are two governing bodies of the sport, the Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association and the National Ninja League, and Cabot has now qualified for the world championships in both. He describes himself as average height and build, with no abnormal features that might help him succeed in these events, “just a heavily trained body to be good for ninja.”

One of the athletes that Sayles gets to train with is McKinley Pierce, of Warren. Since starting ninja competitions two years ago, Pierce has won multiple UNAA and NNL events and earned her way onto season 10 of NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior.” Her run through the course during the Philadelphia City finals, where she made a one-handed recovery from the Wing Nut obstacle, has been viewed about 8,800 times on YouTube. She is one of the instructors at the VNWTC who Sayles credits for making him aware of the TV show opportunity.

“I barely made the age cut off,” he said. “I told my parents, and we were just waiting for the date when they released the applications, and we started working on it immediately. The application just wanted to know what your sports background was, what your background was in Ninja in general, just to make sure you were a qualified athlete for the show.”

Two-hundred boys and girls were selected from across the United States, in three age brackets: 9-10, 11-12 and 13-14. The head-to-head courses featured classic Ninja Warrior obstacles like Sonic Swing, Tic Toc, Spin Cycle and the Warped Wall.

“I think there (were) six total obstacles in the course, and they were all really fun,” Sayles said. “They were smaller than on the adult version, but I still think it’s going to look really good on camera. Everything is super blown up in size and really colorful. It is really cool to look at. The obstacles are pretty similar in style to what we have in Essex. You are doing the same movements and everything, they’re just a lot bigger and more extreme. We did race over water.”

Because the contest was pre-recorded, Sayles has a few limitations on what he is allowed to discuss about his four days shooting in Los Angeles.

“I am not allowed to talk about how far I got, who my other competitors were and who the winners are,” he said.

Sayles did not approach the televised competition with a lot of goals or expectations.

“I wasn’t very accustomed to the whole competing side of Ninja yet, so it was just more of a learning experience for me,” he said. “This show had never happened before, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but obviously I wanted to do well and I wanted to show my athletic potential.”

It’s likely the creators of this show for Universal Kids, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment’s network for kids ages 2-12, were looking to bring the most talented pool of junior ninjas they could gather for the “wow” factor.

“Over the last number of years, we have received an outpouring of letters and video asking when is there going to be a ninja show for kids? Well, the time is now! People are going to be amazed at how talented and dedicated these young ninjas are,” said Arthur Smith, CEO of A. Smith & Co. Productions and executive producer of the “America Ninja Warrior” franchise.

And the competition format for the junior event of two athletes running the courses side by side added another level to the drama, but Sayles said he is not the type of athlete to get wrapped up in that.

“The sport, in general, isn’t actually super-competitive,” Sayles said. “Everyone is always cheering each other on from the side — even if you have a history with a person you are competing against, you’re still super-supportive to them.”

He added, “You’re basically just running for yourself to do the best you can, is how I think of it. The amount of time you spend in the gym training with people, running these courses, all the muscle memory for all the obstacles is there. You are ready for the course, prepared. You know what you have to do to get into the zone. Most of the kids there have done all of these obstacles like hundreds of times before, so it’s just a matter of how well you can execute in the moment. If you slip and fall, everyone knows that’s not the biggest deal in the whole world because it was just that one time.”

If this show is a hit and comes back for another season, Sayles will be too old to participate, but that will not deter the one-year veteran ninja from maintaining his trajectory.

“I have to wait another four or five years before I can try out for the adult one,” Sayles said. “I’m just going to keep training because I love it. I love doing it whether there is competition or not. And there are other local competitions that take place all the time so I can keep doing those, and they’re hard because you are competing against the other best and most trained ninjas on the East Coast, so it’s tough, but I train hard too.”

The show premieres at 7 p.m. Saturday on Universal Kids.

Golf proceeds to honor deceased Rutland skater

The $19,000 raised at an annual golf tournament last month will go to the Flip Side Skate Park Program at the Rutland Recreation Center in honor of Robert Ettori, a 20-year-old Rutland man who was found dead in May after he’d been missing since February.

Shana Louiselle, spokeswoman for Vermont Electric Power Co., said Friday that Ettori was the eldest son of a VELCO employee. VELCO is a power company that owns many of the state’s larger transmission lines. It connects to the state’s smaller utilities.

“He spent a lot of time at the Flip Side Skate Park,” she said. “That was a passion for him.”

She said the annual “VELCO open,” as it has been informally dubbed, was held Sept. 7 at the Proctor-Pittsford Country Club. It involved 124 players on 31 teams. This year saw the highest amount raised in the event’s 23-year history.

Past recipients of the money raised have included the Boys & Girls Club of Rutland County and Rutland Open Door Mission, Louiselle said. The event’s planning team chose to donate to the skate park to honor Ettori and his family.

The Ettori family in general has played a large role in Rutland Recreation Center through the years, said Recreation and Parks Superintendent Kim Peters.

“We are going to form a committee with the Ettoris and a few other people who know about skate parks,” Peters said.

That committee will decide how best to spend the money, but right now two options are being looked at: One is a mobile skate park that can be taken to area schools, and the other is a scholarship fund for the skateboarding camps the park hosts throughout the summer.

Peters said the camps see at least 100 children over the summer and at least one is just for girls. About $2,000 had been donated in Ettori’s honor previously.

Peters said she knew Robert Ettori mainly through his sister, Francie, who volunteers much of her time there. She said the Ettoris have done a great deal for the park.

As for the golf tournament, it’s been growing steadily over time, but has seen a surge in the dollar amounts raised ever since more of an effort was made to direct the funds toward charity, said Louiselle.

“We are grateful to the many members of the VELCO and Rutland communities who joined us again this year for a day of fun for a good cause,” said Tom Dunn, VELCO CEO. “This was a fitting way to honor a member of the VELCO family tragically lost this year and to give back to the communities that host our headquarters.”

Last year, Louiselle said, $15,000 was raised for the Howard Center and Evergreen Substance Abuse Service. In 2016, the tournament raised $13,000 and donated it to Green Mountain Conservation Camp — a summer camp program run by Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department — Audubon Vermont and Four Winds Nature Institute.

The tournament recognized those who finish first and second place, but the real prize, Louiselle said, goes to whoever came in last. They’re given the “Broken Club Trophy,” a trophy depicting a broken golf club that the “winner” displays on their desk through the year.

“Winning isn’t everything, but having a good sense of humor is,” she said in an email.


Robert Layman / Staff Photo  

Rutland quarterback Ryan Moore, center, 11, runs for a 12-yard gain as Essex’s James Danis comes up from behind during Friday’s varsity football game at Alumni Field.

Raider romp

Raider romp

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‘Ghosting’ along

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Photo by Eric Ryan Anderson  

Celebrated saxophonist Branford Marsalis brings his tightknit quartet to Rutland’s Paramount Theatre Saturday, Oct. 20. From left are: Pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis, Marsalis, and drummer Justin Faulkner.