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Local
White's Fuel Stop rises again

DANBY — After a brief hiatus, a local landmark is back in business, offering ethanol-free gas and lots of meat on its subs.

M. White’s Fuel Stop, 1003 Route 7, opened Monday, said Martin White, its new owner. Formerly White’s Fuel Stop, it was started in 1999 by the late Lawrence White Jr.

“Bobby Davis owned it, it was a little repair shop before that,” said Larry White, Martin’s son, and the business’ manager. “Gramp put the tanks in the ground and got the gas station going.”

Lawrence White died in 2015, Martin said in an interview on Friday. Lawrence’s estate controlled the business for a time, closing it in July 2018. Martin said he was on the fence about reopening it, but decided to take the chance.

“I kinda ended up with it as part of my inheritance,” said Martin. “We’ve never done this part of the whole thing, we just worked here.”

Martin, 60, has been a logger for 45 years.

“All I’ve ever done is logging. I’m still doing it. I’ve got four pieces of equipment just up the road here,” he said. “Waiting for the land to dry out enough so we can go logging.”

Larry, on the other hand, has worked at the fuel stop since 2000, his only break coming when the store closed for nine months.

“Most days have been pretty good, but it’s nothing like it was before it closed,” Larry said.

“The regulars are starting to come back in.”

Larry has help from his mother, Linda, and wife, Kim.

“We put half a pound of meat on a large sub, a measured half a pound,” he said. “That might help people realize how good the quality is.”

The shop is now offering a few new products in the deli, like fries, onion rings, chicken wings and chicken tenders. Larry said the station is also selling ethanol-free gas.

“We sell ethanol-free gas, 90 octane, which is the super,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know we do that, still.”

It’s good news for people with small engines, such as chainsaws, lawnmowers and boats. Larry said the added ethanol can be a problem for small engines.

“You put the ethanol in, let’s say a chainsaw, and you leave it for let’s say six to eight months, the ethanol part will start to separate and then it’ll go in your carburetor, and it gums up your carburetor,” he said.

Larry said getting the business back into shape took some time and effort, and the family looked to local contractors for help. Donald Nichols did the carpentry work, Bill Beauregard was the electrician, and Dave Aubrey handled the plumbing.

The shop’s hours are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

keith.whitcomb

@rutlandherald.com


rlayman / Robert Layman / Staff Photo  

Artist’s Touch

Tom Merwin, of Castleton, works on an oil painting inside the 77 Gallery Thursday afternoon in Rutland. Merwin will be joining several other artists across the state for Open Studio Weekend.


Local
For the families
Veteran offers message for those who the dead left behind

Memorial Day was created to remember those who died in war.

Frank Fressie says he remembers them every day.

The 91-year-old served as a Navy corpsman in the Korean War, and he said that since he retired from his career in education, he has thought more and more about the men he lost and the loved ones they left behind.

“Families, the Gold Star families, there are some families who, other than the telegrams and the delivery of the body ... they know nothing else,” he said. “Always, in the backs of their minds, there’s ‘Did he die in pain? What did he want?’ That galls me.”

As a combat medic, Fressie said he was there at the end for many soldiers, and wishes he could have filled in those gaps for their families.

“There is no way I could communicate that,” he said. “I didn’t know the guys. Some, that were in the company I was in, you knew them. Other guys, if it was a big operation, it was just a casualty. ... I never knew their names. It’s always bothered me those parents never got final information from a buddy. This person wasn’t alone. He had one person with him who cared.”

Fressie said he did not know how many of the families of casualties he worked on were still around, but that he thought new generations of Gold Star families might benefit from his message that someone was caring for their loved ones at the end.

“I’ve wanted to do this for years but never really got the hard enough kick to do it,” he said. “This time, I feel like I’ve kicked myself hard enough. I feel I owe it to the families — none of whom I know. I feel I was remiss in not doing it some time before I go.”

Fressie said he joined the Navy in 1945, as World War II was coming to a close.

“I was too young to be drafted,” he said. “I was stupid and enlisted — just turned 17. ... They give you a series of tests. They decided my academic background — which was not good, in my opinion — and the overall composure I had, it would be good if I studied the medical end of it.”

After graduating from corpsman school, Fressie was sent to the Philippines, where he said there was still fighting in the mountains, and assigned to a base infirmary. Fressie said he wasn’t involved in any combat, but that seeing a small Filipino child dive into a mud puddle after a piece of egg he had discarded convinced him of the “horror and pointlessness” of war. He service took him to Guam, Shanghai and back to Guam, before he returned to the U.S. and started college.

“I was in school for two years,” he said. “Korea broke out. I got the call.”

This time, he was sent to serve as a field medic for the Marine Corps.

“Remember, the Marine Corps is part of the Navy, which they hate to admit,” Fressie said.

Assigned to the 1st Marine Division, Fressie was one of three corpsmen in his company. “We basically ministered to the guys,” he said. “Guys would get hit. Stuff would drop on you. If you started getting hit with a lot or there was a lot of rifle fire, that was the worst because you’d hear three or four places calling ‘corpsman.’ You had to go.”

Some of the wounded could be bandaged, given some morphine and helped to safety. Others were in worse shape. Head and chest wounds were the worst, he said, because morphine was likely to kill the people who suffered them.

“You could dress it with a battle dressing, but you actually had to let him suffer,” Fressie said.

Fressie said he made a point of staying with a dying soldier as long as he could, holding their hands, helping them pray if they asked.

“What are you going to do?” he asked. “Even though you’ve got shit and blood all over your hand, you’re going to hold the guy’s hand. ... You’ll tell him you’ve called the chopper and he’ll make it out of there, figuring there’s a one in 10 chance they will.”

Eventually, Fressie was wounded himself. Shrapnel from an artillery blast hit his legs and back. He was sent to a hospital ship.

“They asked me if I thought I could make it back on the line,” he said. “I said sure I would. Who would admit they couldn’t?”

Fressie said he spent another five months with his company before getting a transfer “in the rear with the gear.” He helped set up a facility called “Easy Med,” which he said bore resemblance to the hospital portrayed in “M*A*S*H.”

“There, too, I saw a lot of guys that didn’t make it and that burned into me,” he said. “Guys who were strangers to me, for the most part, I remember the uniform and the wound, but not the face. If it was a guy in the company I was in, you knew who he was.”

Fressie came home in 1952, finished college and went into education. He retired as principal of Proctor Jr.-Sr. High School in the early 1990s, and later served as a selectman in Poultney. During his professional life, Fressie said he learned to keep his mind busy. After retiring, he said, the nightmares came back.

“You’re back there,” he said. “You have a kid laying there ... you smell them. That’s one of the things that’s worse for veterans who’ve been in this stuff — the smell of burning flesh, or anything like it.”

Fressie said he undergoes treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder at the Veteran’s Administration hospital in White River Junction.

Fressie said the people he lost are still with him, but that he hopes it helps their families to know that someone was with them to the end.

gordon.dritschilo

@rutlandherald.com


News
Husband and wife vets to graduate from CCV Rutland

Laura and Brenden McCutcheon are a couple who like to do things together.

They met when they were both serving in the U.S. Army and stationed in Germany. When they returned to the United States, they decided to enroll in the Community College of Vermont’s Rutland campus at the same time and they will both graduate on June 1.

Laura said she had taken some college courses when she was still in the army.

“It’s really hard to do. I just didn’t feel like I got the individual care or access to professors, access to advisers, so I decided to go back when (the McCutcheons’ daughter, Candace) was about a year old. I read about CCV and it sounded like a great experience. When I came here, I really found they were very inviting, very welcoming. They worked with me,” she said.

The McCutcheons said they were well served by Ginger Gellman, coordinator of academic services and their mutual adviser and Kyle Aines, the college’s veteran services coordinator.

Katie Keszey, public relations coordinator and staff writer for CCV, said by email that Aines was part of a team who provides support services to the more than 400 veterans and military students who attend CCV on an average semester.

“Kyle is a veteran himself, so he has a thorough understanding of the issues and needs facing today’s student veterans. Kyle and his team help veteran and military students access their federal benefits, local community resources and support services, and navigate college,” Keszey said.

Brenden said CCV staff were able to provide relevant information and assistance so he and Laura could focus on their education.

“There was never any stress going here and pursuing education. It was very, very accommodating,” he said.

Laura said the resources she found at CCV Rutland were a “lot more impressive than some of the other universities that I went to.”

“That really surprised me. It makes me recommend (CCV) to a lot of people who are trying to go to college or trying to go back to college,” she said.

Brenden said he was one of those people. After high school, he didn’t expect to go to college but visiting CCV convinced him to try something that would give him more opportunities than the job he had selling insurance.

In the fall, they will go back to college to earn bachelor’s degrees at Castleton University. Brenden will be graduating on June 1 with an associates degree in STEM studies and Laura’s degree will be in design and media studies.

Laura said CCV had worked with them to be sure they could graduate at the same time.

Like many college students, the McCutcheons have learned about themselves through the college process. Brenden’s original major was in information technology and Laura’s was in business.

At Castleton, Brenden will study environmental science and Laura will study graphic design.

After graduation from Castleton, Brenden said he and Laura are considering relocating to the Burlington area. Brenden said he would like to work as a chemist or with renewable resources or conservation. Laura said she might start off as a freelancer or look for a small firm where she can develop her skills.

“Something that allows me to be creative would be great. I’m not tied to one specific area but I do enjoy designing logos and stuff like that,” she said.

Brenden said he had some inspiration along his path. His brother, Zach McCutcheon, is also a veteran who went to CCV and now attends Castleton where he’s in the nursing program.

Brenden joined after graduating from Rutland High School in 2010 when he was 18, During his six years in the army, Brenden first served in Germany and his last duty station was in Texas at Fort Bliss.

Laura was 19 when she enlisted in 2004. During her 11 years in the army, her first duty station was in North Carolina.

Both Brenden and Laura served in Information Technology. Brenden pointed out that Laura was the first person he met in Germany and they married about five years ago when they were still in the army.

The husband and wife might not have met if it hadn’t been for their time in the army. Brenden is from Rutland and Laura is from Ridgewood, New Jersey. They live in Rutland now with their 4-year-old daughter Candace.

Both Laura and Brenden agreed they were excited about the upcoming graduation at Norwich University.

“I’m really very proud of both myself and him. I’ve never really had a graduation so it’s going to be a new experience,” she said.

patrick.mcardle

@rutlandherald.com


Local
Route 103 contractor limited to number of projects

LUDLOW — The controversial Route 103 project is set to be completed by early July, but the company hired last year to do the work has had some limitations placed on it by the state.

Jeremy Reed, construction engineer for the Agency of Transportation (AOT), said Friday his agency has limited the number of projects Pike Industries can be the primary contractor on, to 20.

Pike Industries was to have completed the Route 103 project last year, but it ended up being delayed. Many commuters were upset over the work done, prompting state officials to hold a public meeting in Ludlow this spring.

Reed explained on Friday that contractors wanting to work on state projects have to be “qualified.” AOT looks at each company’s resources and sets a limit on how many projects they can be awarded. Reed said this is sometimes there’s a cap on the total dollar amount, other times the number of projects themselves are limited.

Each contractor’s qualification status is reviewed on an annual basis, Reed said. Pike’s was revisited at the start of the year, and its work on Route 103 was taken into consideration, as were other projects the company worked on last year.

“It would be fair to say there were other projects Pike had that didn’t meet their completion dates,” said Reed.

Pike Industries formerly had no limit on the number of projects it could be awarded, given its size, said Reed.

“Pike is a very large company,” he said. “It’s part of an even larger company.”

According to its webpage, Pike Industries was founded in 1872. In 1987, it was bought by CRH, a company based in Dublin, Ireland. Pike itself has scores of asphalt and gravel facilities in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Reed said there aren’t many contractors in Vermont with no limits on the number of projects they can bid on.

“We will continue to work with the state and bid jobs as appropriate,” said Katrina Decato, public relations specialist for Pike Industries, in an email on Wednesday.

Pike was hired last year to pave Route 103 between Rockingham and Clarendon, but work had to be stopped for the winter and the roadway prepared for winter maintenance. Commuters in that area were not pleased with the overall effort, which led State Rep. Logan Nicoll, D-Ludlow, to arrange a public meeting between AOT personnel, Pike employees, and roughly 50 people from the community in early April. There, Pike representatives said a wet construction season limited the number of days it could do paving work, but they also acknowledge the company made some missteps when it came to allocating equipment between projects.

Tyson Chouinard, contract administrator for Pike, said at the April meeting that the project should be done by July 1.

According to Natalie Boyle, project outreach coordinator with EIV Technical Services, a firm that does public outreach for AOT, work on the project appears to have begun in late April with surface preparation occurring in Mount Holly.

Reed said Tuesday that the state’s traditional “paving season” doesn’t begin until May 15. He said Pike began “production paving work” on Saturday, May 18, and had, as of Tuesday, been credited with two days owing to rain, those being on May 17 and Monday.

“They are still anticipated to meet the completion date presented earlier this year,” he said in an email.

At the April meeting, Pike Industries Marketing Vice President Jay Perkins said the delay in the project was largely due to an abnormally wet construction season. Had the company known it wouldn’t get as many paving days as it thought, it would not have moved certain pieces of paving equipment around like it did.

The $8 million project was awarded to Pike in December 2017 and had been slated to be complete in 2018. Some of Pike’s winter preparation work, mainly line striping, didn’t hold up well in the cold weather, leading many citizens to express concerns over safety.

keith.whitcomb

@rutlandherald.com


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Cinderella story

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