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Prone to planting

Paul Flanders, of Flanders Farm Stand in Castleton, transplants dill on his solar-powered transplanting machine Tuesday. Flanders lamented the cold and wet spring, saying, “The soil temperature is 52 degrees. I haven’t planted a single kernel of corn. I’m behind.”

Killington economy grows, needs more Bus service

KILLINGTON — The town economy is growing, according to local business owners, and with that growth comes a greater need for bus service to ferry workers between their jobs and Rutland.

The Select Board plans to discuss asking The Bus to extend its service throughout the summer. Selectman Jim Haff said at a board meeting on May 7 that he recently met with several business owners, people from the Killington Pico Area Association, Killington Mountain Resort and The Bus to talk about extending service.

Haff said The Bus doesn’t run past 6 p.m. between Easter and Thanksgiving. Haff asked the board to schedule the matter for a full discussion at its next regular meeting on May 21, to which it agreed.

Haff said the Agency of Transportation (AOT) has a grant available to cover the cost. With no assistance, the price would be about $53,000, Haff said. With the AOT grant, only approximately $11,000 would be needed for the match.

Mike Coppinger, executive director of the Killington Pico Area Association, said Tuesday he believes the town, ski resort and potentially local business owners will figure out a way to come up with the $11,000 needed to extend The Bus service, as all would benefit from it.

“Lots of business owners have been talking about it,” he said. “It’s difficult to get workers up here, lots of them live in Rutland.”

Christopher Karr, a member of the town Planning Commission who owns The Foundry, Jax Food and Games, Charity’s Tavern & Restaurant and Pickle Barrel Nightclub, said Tuesday in an interview the town’s economy has changed in the past 10 years, thanks in large part to the development of Killington Ski Resort as a year-round operation.

He said fall and winter workers take The Bus without issue, for the most part, but now restaurants and the like are keeping their doors open in the summer, which is a problem when The Bus stops at 6 p.m. and people’s shifts are ending hours later. Some businesses, like his, have their own vans, but some workers clock out later than others, making this a less-than-ideal option.

Karr said he’s confident some arrangement will be made to cover the $11,000 match. Killington’s infrastructure needs have been increasing steadily, owing to the growth of the resort.

In the past several years, Killington Mountain Ski Resort has made several announcements about multi-million dollar investments in its infrastructure.

Many have involved snowmaking and things that cater to skiers and snowboarders, but it’s also made investments in bicycling and other warm-weather activities.

Karr said in the past few years the town has moved from relying on elected constables to having a full-time police chief. It’s also working on building a new public safety building to house the fire department and police. In terms of transportation, the Planning Commission has looked at bus pull-offs and bus shelters.


College of St. Joseph preps to celebrate final graduates

In less than a week, College of St. Joseph will host its 60th and final graduation, bringing an end to the college in its current form.

The college’s president, Dr. Jennifer Scott, said school officials want Saturday’s commencement to focus on the graduating seniors rather than the closure of College of St. Joseph (CSJ).

We want (commencement) to be a celebratory experience for (students) because they deserve that. They have achieved a lot in their time here at CSJ and their families deserve to celebrate with them and so it should be a meaningful occasion as it has always been” she said.

Scott said there are expected to be about 90 students in the Class of 2019, the largest-ever graduating class for the small, independent college.

Beccalyn Dugan, of Benson, who will be graduating Saturday with a major in business administration and a minor in accounting, said commencement will be exciting and sad.

“It truly is a special school and it’s going to be sad that it’s the last graduation but I am excited because of all that I’ve accomplished within the four years. I’m sad that others aren’t going to have the same experience that I had,” she said.

Dugan is planning to pursue her master’s degree at Castleton University in the fall. She said the graduation feels special to her and her peers.

“You can definitely tell there’s an extra heaviness because it is the last one so we feel it has to be bigger, it has to be a little more special because there’s nothing out there that’s going to be the same as graduating from College of St. Joseph because there won’t be one,” she said.

Already working for the Rutland County public defender’s office, Cassandra Sourdiff, of Brandon, will receive her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice on Saturday. She said the event will be bittersweet.

“I’ve actually been on campus since 2012. I did the Stafford Technical Center program that was stationed there so it’s held a special place in my heart for many years now,” she said.

Sourdiff said the loss of CSJ would be felt for a long time to come.

“CSJ served as a great institution for people who either otherwise wouldn’t go to college or they’re the first in their families. Many of the students have been very lucky to have access to CSJ,” she said.

Sourdiff said just getting to commencement has been enough work and she’s not aware of any plans to do something special for the final one.

“There’s been quite a few farewell parties and those sorts of things leading up to it but as far as the ceremony itself, if there is something, I guess it’s going to come as a surprise to me. Would be nice though,” she said.

Scott said the commencement’s organizers, wanting to acknowledge the importance of the final graduation, invited Sister Shirley Campbell, of the Sisters of St. Joseph, to speak on Saturday.

The school started as Rutland Junior College but the campus was eventually purchased by the Sisters of St. Joseph. In 1956, St. Joseph’s Teacher’s College was formed and in 1960, after the state granted the college the right to confer a bachelor’s degree in education, the name was changed to College of St. Joseph the Provider.

Scott said she is proud that a small Vermont college has lasted more than six decades.

“CSJ has given a lot to people in this community. Those who came here learned and they grew and they made lifelong friends and they moved out into the world. CSJ will always be part of them. And this year, while it has been difficult, has also been triumphant,” she said. ”No one expected us to have another year. Last spring, the expectation was we were going to close then but we got another group of students to graduation. That came from a lot of hard work and dedication and a focus on the reason that we do this every day, that is to bring students to graduation and complete their degrees.”

A year ago, CSJ faced possible closure because of financial shortcomings. There were several contentious meetings on campus as students, staff and faculty learned about the problems for the first time.

In May 2018, the board of trustees voted not to close the college. Scott was hired early that summer, and set out to attempt to right the ship. The New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) announced in March that CSJ would lose its accreditation by the end of the current school year unless the school’s financial viability could be demonstrated.

Efforts were made to find a partner or another way to keep CSJ open but by March, Scott announced those efforts had fallen short and CSJ would close when the school year ended.

David Balfour, vice president for academic affairs at CSJ, said he hopes people will not be overwhelmed by the end of the college and miss the celebration of commencement.

“Despite the way it’s ending, this has been a good story. I think that’s what we need to keep in mind. I think we’ve done a lot of good for a lot of students and the students have done a lot of good for us. Working with them has been great,” he said.

Scott said she is trying to be sensitive to the challenge faced by the staff and faculty who are participating in commencement but also losing their jobs.

“I can’t even begin to know the depths of that loss for them. But what I have seen is their spirit and their commitment to the college this year, their commitment to students, their commitment to each other and through the disappointment, there’s still a lot of joy and camaraderie and reflection and celebration,” she said.


Convicted sex offender facing child porn charges

BURLINGTON — A notorious convicted Vermont sex offender, who was placed by a judge under lifetime supervision by the state probation office in 2006, is back behind bars on a federal charge of being in possession of child pornography.

Mark Hulett, 48, of Ferrisburgh, appeared briefly for an initial hearing in U.S. District Court in Burlington late Tuesday afternoon.

Federal Magistrate John M. Conroy agreed with the prosecution that Hulett, as a danger to the community, needed to be held without bail pending trial.

Conroy explained to Hulett he is charged with knowingly possessing pictures showing sexually explicit conduct by a minor.

A federal prosecutor argued it was necessary for Hulett to be held because the felony charge is classified as a crime of violence due to minors being the victims. Two boys and one girl were displayed in the photo, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Spencer Willig, who is helping Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara A. Masterson with the prosecution.

The Department of Homeland Security said it learned Hulett possessed the child pornography on Oct. 12, but did not obtain a federal search warrant until last Thursday, court records note. At about 6:05 a.m. Tuesday, investigators from Homeland Security and the Vermont Attorney General’s Office executed the warrant at the single-family residence on U.S. 7 that Hulett has shared with his mother for two years, records show.

Back in 2006, now retired State Judge Edward Cashman drew the wrath of a wide group of people, including national conservative commentators Bill O’Reilly from Fox and Nancy Grace from CNN, for what they perceived as a light prison sentence for Hulett in a sex case and improper remarks by the judge.

The personal attacks were based on a Vermont TV story that actually misquoted comments from Cashman at the sentencing, including he “did not believe in punishment.” O’Reilly called for a boycott of Vermont.

The personal attacks continued to roll in before the public began to learn the initial TV news report was false. What Cashman actually said was: “and I keep telling prosecutors, and they won’t hear me, that punishment is not enough,” according to a court transcript.

Former Associated Press Bureau Chief Chris Graff, in a January 2006 story printed in several newspapers, quoted the sentencing transcript showing Cashman’s actual comments.

The attacks had included then-Gov. Jim Douglas, legislators and other politicians calling on, among other things, Cashman to resign. Cashman stood firm. Soon former Chief Justice Jeff Amestoy and others came to Cashman’s defense once the court’s reasoning became known.

Cashman said he had imposed a minimum sentence of 60 days in prison as the only way to ensure the low-risk inmate would be able to get sex offender treatment, records show. Cashman also said he put Hulett on probation for life as a way to ensure any missteps would send him back to prison.

Until after the Hulett case, the Vermont Department of Corrections did not provide similar inmates with sex-offender treatment until they reached the end of their prison sentence. The department also thought Hulett was unlikely to re-offend.

As it turned out, Hulett never got out of prison until 2011.

His convictions were for two counts of aggravated sexual assault on a child and one count of lewd and lascivious conduct.

On Tuesday, assistant federal public defender Elizabeth Quinn said Hulett had remained out of trouble for eight years. Hulett works for Moose Rubbish and Recycling in Shoreham and also runs an eBay business, court records show.

Quinn, who asked that Hulett be released, questioned the level of evidence against her client. She argued that Hulett was found with only one improper image.

Quin also maintained it came from a nudist website.

“He didn’t think it was child pornography,” said Quinn, who noted her client was working fulltime.

A limited on-scene forensic preview of the computer failed to locate any files with child pornography, Homeland Security Investigator Caitlin Moynihan said in court papers.

Masterson, in her detention motion, noted, “Hulett’s inability to abide by the conditions of his release strongly suggests that they are no conditions which will ensure he appears as required, and that he will not cause additional harm to the community.”

The case began with a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in October. Detective Matt Raymond applied for a subpoena for Comcast to learn about the computer subscriber, court records show. The record showed it belonged to Hulett’s mother.

Conroy said he believes the case is serious and the evidence appears “exceedingly strong.”

He told Hulett he was entitled to a hearing on whether the government had probable cause to charge him May 24.

Many voices bid farewell: GMC prepares for final commencement

POULTNEY — The school anthem will chorus once more this Sunday at Green Mountain College — with a few more commencement speakers than usual.

There will be nine.

“We wanted the program to represent all of the constituents from a long history of GMC,” Allen said in an interview on Tuesday, ahead of the college’s final commencement ceremony. Otherwise, the proceedings should go traditionally, except for his expectation of more attendees than usual.

The speakers were selected from all areas of the college’s community.

Instead of one faculty member speaking, there will be two. William Throop, professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies, and Eleanor Tison, associate professor of Anthropology & Sustainable Agriculture, will both deliver addresses.

Two Green Mountain College alumni will also speak: Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees Cathi Parker, class of 1987, and Jose Tulio Galvez Contreras, class of 2011.

Environmentalist and human rights activist Dianne Dillon-Ridgely of the Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future will also be presenting.

Two students will also speak on behalf of about 130 undergraduates, Allen said. Golden Boardley, who participated in the Natural Resource Management program and will be transferring to another school, will talk, as will Isabella Fearn, who is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Adventure Recreation and a minor in Elementary Education.

Jillian Joyce will be graduating with a master’s degree in Environmental Studies, and will speak on behalf of the over 120 masters students Allen expects to graduate, and school Chaplain Shirley Oskamp will deliver a piece on behalf of the staff.

Allen said though the undergraduate class is not substantially larger than last year, the number of masters students is approximately doubled, and they’re anticipating a record attendance from alumni and members of the community who, he suggested, might want to bring their own chairs.

“We have 850 chairs. ... We’re reserving all seating for the graduates,” Allen said, anticipating an especially long ceremony lasting approximately two to two and a half hours.

The traditional procession down Main Street starting at LiHigh School will still be heralded by bagpipes, and the GMC choir will perform a final farewell to the campus, for the 182nd graduating class.

Though there is no buyer yet, unless there is a sale prior to the end of June, the campus will transition into the possession of trustees Verdolino and Lowy of Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Under a teach-out agreement Prescott College has taken on the program directors for GMC’s Master’s Degree programs, and members of GMC’s enrollment team will now be working for Prescott to recruit for the northeast. Almost 30 faculty members have confirmed positions with other educational institutions, Allen said.

“We think 100 or more students will enroll at Prescott,” Allen said.

Most of the students plan to continue their education, Allen said, with the second-largest number of teach-out agreements sending students to Chatham University in Pittsburgh.

Allen said he’s one of the only people at GMC not looking for a job, and all of his and Provost Tom Maus-Pugh’s time has been dedicated to finding placements for students, staff and faculty.

“We’ve worked very hard as an institution to (prepare for) closing with dignity and integrity, and I’m proud of that,” Allen said.


Robert Layman / Staff Photo//  

Mill River’s Grace Gilman slides into home as West Rutland pitcher Kiana Grabowski, right, prepares to tag her during Monday’s varsity softball match at Mill River Union High School on Monday.


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RHD Hotspot

Sat. & Sun.

Carving Workshop

Ancient techniques of cutting letters in slate using chisels and mallets. $395, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The Carving Studio & Sculpture Center, 636 Marble St., West Rutland,, 802-438-2097.