Public Works Commissioner Jeffrey Wennberg hopes to put a $3 million bond on the March ballot for bridge and culvert work.
Wennberg gave the Public Works Committee a “preview” of the bond Monday night as the committee reviewed the proposed general fund public works budget for FY 2019-20. Wennberg said he will discuss a second planned bond, for stormwater improvements, when the committee goes over the water and sewer budget on Tuesday.
Referring to the proposal as “Bridge Bond II,” Wennberg said it would continue the work of the 2012 bridge bond, which funded the Dorr Drive Bridge, Ripley Bridge, Forest Street Bridge and Killington Avenue culvert projects.
“We are at a point now where we’re looking for the next batch,” he said.
That batch was chosen, Wennberg said, by an engineering survey of all the city’s bridges and culverts. Over the next five or six years, he said, the bond would fund work on culverts on Park Street, Church Street, Allen Street, Grove Street and Lincoln Avenue as well as Bridge 25 on Grove Street.
“These are the ones you drive over all the time and don’t even know they’re there,” Wennberg said.
As the other committees have with almost every other section of the proposed budget this year, the Public Works Committee approved the numbers before them without trying to remove anything Monday.
The $3.7 million budget — up about $6,000 from last year — was approved as-written.
The most involved discussion came over a line item of $145,000 to replace a much-battered 17-year-old five-ton truck. Alderman Chris Ettori said that while he was not challenging Wennberg over the need to replace that particular truck, he did question the department’s eight-year purchasing cycle in which one of DPW’s eight five-ton trucks is replaced every year. Ettori noted that the city had gotten well over a decade out of each of the last couple trucks they had replaced.
“Given the budget pressures, should we be on an eight-year schedule for these trucks?” he asked. “I think we’re at a place where we need to think about how we do this differently.”
Wennberg said the rotation let the city hit a sweet spot in terms of maintenance costs and trade-in value on the old trucks, unloading them before they start to have reliability issues. He said the winter maintenance plan requires all eight of the trucks to be in service.
“If one breaks down, we call behind,” he said. “We’re looking at about four hours to salt the entire city with everything running.”
On Monday morning, Rutland City Police officers protected the rights of about a dozen Rutland City students to have a happy holiday by aiding them in a shopping trip at Walmart.
During the second annual “Shop With a Cop” event, a national event brought to Rutland last year by Cpl. A. Heath Plemmons, about 20 students from Rutland schools were paired with one of 14 Rutland police officers, a member of the local Kiwanis Club and, in one case, with Mayor David Allaire to buy presents at the downtown Walmart.
After the kids arrived at Walmart, they were led by their partner team to find clothing first, then school supplies and finally toys. The goal was to meet the students’ needs first and then help them find something more fun as a holiday present.
Paul Boyer, a member of the Kiwanis Club of Rutland, said the club was looking for a project they could support in partnership with the police. Plemmons suggested Shop With a Cop.
Plemmons said the event was planned to not only help kids in need have a better holiday, but to change the perception some may have about police officers.
“We want to break down those barriers and start good relations with the kids,” he said.
Helping the police officers communicate with young children he knows well, Jay Slenker, principal of the Rutland Intermediate School, said he thought Shop With a Cop was a “great” program. He noted the number of kids who participated had doubled from 10 served in 2017.
Slenker said the school identified the students who would participate in the event and also worked to coordinate with other holiday charities to try to serve as many families as possible without duplication.
“It was a surprise for our kids, which is good. The families knew but the kids did not. It was supposed to be a surprise. They are just elated,” he said.
About half the funding for Shop With a Cop came from the Kiwanis, the Rutland City Police Benevolent Association, the Rutland City Police Department and Walmart. Another $2,000 was raised by a number of Rutland businesses, making it a total of $4,000 raised overall to support the effort.
Moving through the children’s clothing department, Detective Ryan Ashe and Joe Krazetz, a Kiwanis Club member, helped two young boys find the right items.
The two boys found dinosaur T-shirts they liked that got added to the cart.
One boy found a sweatshirt he liked but had a question about the donations he was getting. He wanted to know if he could also pick out a sweatshirt for his brother.
Several children could be heard asking similar questions. One said his brother was having a birthday in two days and he wanted to find his younger brother a present.
Ashe, trying to find the right fit for the kids he was guiding, told them that he was impressed by their generous nature but suggested they consider a day for themselves as he was helping the boys reach the Minecraft hats they wanted.
Plemmons’ hope that the event would improve relations between police and the community showed signs of success as one of the boys told Ashe he wanted to find a “cop shirt.”
Allaire, in the shoe section, helped an older student find a pair of boots that would fit.
One parent who joined the event, Mark Wilson, called it a good way to “combat the drug epidemic” and the negative perceptions the heroin epidemic brought to Rutland and its police department.
POULTNEY — Hunger Free Vermont is confident a new Farm Bill will pass soon without stricter work requirements for food stamps.
“Within this current Farm Bill cycle a lot of the debate has been around the work requirements that were proposed to be stricter with 3SquaresVT, nationally known as SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps,” said Olivia Peña, food security specialist with Hunger Free Vermont.
She spoke at a Hunger Council of Rutland County meeting Monday at Green Mountain College. The hunger council, and its respective counterparts, meets regularly to discuss issues surrounding access to food. Scores of Rutland County organizations have representatives on the council.
“Essentially the Senate wanted to maintain the current rules around the SNAP program but the House was really pushing for stricter requirements,” said Peña. “The current status is that they were supposed to have it scored sometime last week. It was scored … they were not able to release it because Congress slowed down with the passing of President Bush, but it looks like we’ll have a Farm Bill.”
Scoring, she explained, is the process of tallying up what the provisions within a particular bill will cost.
Peña said she believes the Farm Bill will be reauthorized without the stricter work requirements, “... because the Senate felt very strongly about a more bipartisan bill and not including new work requirements and I don’t think they were going to budge,” she said. “So it’s looking positive.”
She said in an interview after the meeting that there are already work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), but some on the House side of Congress wanted to make these stricter.
According to Peña, in general for an adult with no dependents to receive SNAP benefits, they had be working a certain amount of hours or be enrolled in a training program or something similar. She said there were exemptions for people living in areas where these requirements were more difficult, and it was provisions like that that some in the House wanted to remove.
Hunger Free Vermont remains concerned about a proposed change to who would constitute a “public charge.”
In October, the Department of Homeland Security filed a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would affect how people seeking citizenship get classified as a “public charge.” Peña said a public charge is a person who will cost the government money and it can affect whether or not they can become citizens. The current rule holds that only those receiving direct cash benefits have it count against them, but the proposed change would include a broader range of benefits.
Hunger Free Vermont has said in the past that while relatively few people in Vermont would be affected by the rule change, the group is still worried that confusion about the rule will cause problems, namely that those who need and would qualify for programs won’t seek them for fear it will affect their citizenship application. The rule wouldn’t be retroactive, said Peña, and it doesn’t apply to many types of immigrants.
The period of public comment for the rule change ended Monday.
Town officials are mourning the unexpected loss of a longtime public servant who died over the weekend.
State Police Trooper Benjamin Barton said that on Saturday at 1:21 a.m. police received a report that Richard S. Lloyd, 74, was missing. He’d gone to visit a friend at Hathaway Construction on Friday afternoon. Police said family members grew concerned after he didn’t come home and they weren’t able to contact him.
Lloyd was the manager of the town transfer station and a sitting member of the Planning Commission. He had a long record as a public servant.
Barton said Lloyd’s vehicle was discovered Saturday at 4:22 p.m. off a logging road near Blueberry Lane. A single set of footprints was found moving away from the vehicle. A dog was used to follow the tracks, which led police to Lloyd, deceased. The Rutland Town Fire Department assisted in taking Lloyd out of the woods. He was sent to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Burlington for an autopsy. Police said alcohol and overnight temperatures are believed to have contributed to the situation.
Anyone with information on Lloyd’s death is asked to contact State Police at 802-773-9101.
“Dick was a great friend,” said Josh Terenzini, chairman of the Rutland Town Select Board. “He was full of life and an important part to the workings of our community.”
Terenzini said it was Lloyd who, as a Justice of the Peace, officiated his parents’ marriage.
“It’s a shock to the community that he’s gone,” said Terenzini.
He praised Lloyd for his management of the transfer station, saying Lloyd not only helped make it a friendly, welcoming place where folks could discuss town issues but he also modernized operations there.
Lloyd served several stints on the Planning Commission, said Terenzini. The board was more than happy to appoint him this last time — a year ago — once it learned he was again interested.
“He was a dedicated member of our group and although he kept his opinions close to the vest, his body language was easy to read — especially when we were spending too much time debating an issue,” said Barbara Noyes Pulling, chairwoman of the Planning Commission, in an email. “That’s why I always enjoyed checking in with him on neutral ground, the transfer station, and getting his real take on town business. Sometimes I would get an earful! Personally speaking, Saturday mornings will not be the same now.”
According to his obituary, Lloyd was a native of Washington, D.C., and graduated Rutland High School in 1962. He was employed at Moore Business Forms for 40 years, served as a deputy with the Rutland County Sheriff’s Department, the National Ski Patrol and American Red Cross. His other roles included firefighter, tax collector and justice of the peace. Lloyd was married in 1968 to Mary Fran Kurant, of Florence, and the pair moved to Rutland. They had a daughter, Heather, in 1971.
His obituary states that he loved animals and would’ve liked memorial contributions made to the Rutland Humane Society at 765 Stevens Road, Pittsford, VT 05763.
Terenzini said via Facebook that on Wednesday there will be a potluck dinner celebration of Lloyd’s life at the Rutland Town Fire Department Center Rutland Station from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
A new life
With help from the Vt. Land Trust, a couple re-energizes an old farm in West Haven.
The community gathers to support the Galactic Toy Drop, a Star Wars-themed toy collection event. A3
The RHS boys basketball team opened its D-I title defense with its school-record 41st straight win, beating Essex. B1
Tool Training Weekly open house and tool trainings every Tuesday.Tour at 4:30 p.m. and tool training this week with Tim Schneller, owner of Timco Jewelers talks jewelry, 6-8 p.m. the MINT — Rutland’s Makerspace, 112 Quality Lane, Rutland, 342-9421.