A1 A1
RHD Hotspot

Friday

Guy Davis

Guy Davis has spent his musical life carrying his message of the blues around the world, earning him the title “An Ambassador of the Blues.” Fundraiser for Rutland County Restorative Justice Center. $20, 7-9:30 p.m. The Rutland Moose Lodge, 78 Center St., Rutland, johncazz31@yahoo.com, 558-7587.


Spotlight

“They know more facts are going to be delivered that are absolutely damning to the President of the United States.”

California Democrat Rep. Ted Lieu, on possible reasons for two dozen Republican members of Congress storming into and disrupting a closed-door deposition in a secure room in the nation’s capital on Wednesday. — A2

Federal charges

A Rutland man facing three felony charges of distributing heroin mixed with fentanyl has asked that evidence against him be suppressed. A3

Profits crash

Ford’s third-quarter income tumbled nearly 60% as the company booked $1.5 billion in charges mainly for restructuring, and Chinese and U.S. sales fell. A9


News
Proctor talks TM search committee size, timing

PROCTOR — The search for a new town manager is slowly ramping up, with the Select Board chatting Tuesday about how it will develop its hiring process.

The meeting was a special meeting, called to discuss the town manager search, changes to a project at Beaver Pond and police service in town.

“We’re into getting some ideas and what have you regarding the town manager search,” said Board Chairman Bruce Baccei. “I think we need some ideas on some guidelines, starting with what we’re expecting.”

The discussion was between Baccei and Select Board members Ben Curtis and Judy Frazier. Carrie Dougherty had to leave prior to the talk taking place, as did current town manager, Stan Wilbur. Selectman Tom Hogan wasn’t present for the meeting.

Wilbur plans to retire in June, having announced it last year. The board has said at past meetings it would like to see a new manager hired by May, giving Wilbur time to bring that person up to speed.

Frazier said the town can start by looking at the current job description for the town manager. Curtis said the town manager job description from nearby Pittsford would also be a good model to work from. It was agreed that the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, a trade organization for Vermont municipalities, likely has a template job description for a town manager, and would be an obvious resource to use for other aspects of the search.

Baccei said he’d like to get a job description ready before January, leaving the town with several months to make a hire.

The town will also consult with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns on advertising for the job.

“My personal thought is, I’d like to limit the search area, to start with, to New England,” said Baccei. “Cover Maine, New Hampshire, maybe New York State, Massachusetts, Connecticut rather than go for California.”

The Select Board has the final say on who will be hired as town manager, but there was talk of using a committee to find a pool of candidates for it to choose from. Frazier said a committee made up of community members and a few board members should be effective.

It was agreed that the committee can’t have more than two Select Board members, as any more would equal a quorum and have to be warned as an official board meeting.

“I don’t want to see a committee of 10 people,” said Baccei, concerned the committee might get too large. Curtis and Frazier said five members would likely suffice.

“We’ve got big shoes to fill after we’ve had Stan’s expertise,” said Baccei. “We can’t afford to pay somebody the hours he really puts in.”

Curtis said Wilbur’s institutional memory would likewise be hard to replace.

Wilbur, of Tinmouth, took on the role of town manager the day Tropical Storm Irene hit in 2011. The storm caused historic levels of flood damage to the state, with the aftermath being felt for years.

keith.whitcomb

@rutlandherald.com


Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff Photo  

Horse within different colors

A horse grazes beneath a colorful backdrop Wednesday at the McNight Family Farm in East Montpelier.


Local
Parade to feature slew of new entries

It’s usually a safe bet that at least one float in the Rutland Halloween Parade will feature monsters dancing to “The Monster Mash.”

This year, organizer April Cioffi said there will be a float dedicated to “The Monster M*A*S*H” — playing on the iconic TV series about a Korean War Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.

“It’s a different spin on it,” Cioffi said.

The 60th annual Rutland Halloween Parade is scheduled to step off at 6:30 p.m. sharp Saturday, despite a slightly worrisome weather forecast.

“If it does become similar to last year with a high-wind advisory, we’ll look at it closer to the date. Our rain date would be Sunday.”

The parade begins at the corner of Strongs Avenue and Madison Street and follows Strongs until taking a right onto Wales Street, then a left onto West Street and a right onto Merchants Row, ending by the plaza. Cioffi said they have 71 entries.

“It’s good considering it’s a non-political year,” she said. “This is right in the range even for a political year.”

Cioffi said the parade has several first-time entries, including Grace Congregational Church and several new businesses in town.

“I don’t think they’ve done this in the past, but we have an organization that gathered together a lot of the pageant winners — Miss Vermont, Junior Miss Vermont,” she said. “They’ll be riding together.”

Rutland Youth Theater has participated in the parade in past years, but Cioffi said they are entering an actual float for the first time, showing off costumes from their upcoming production of “Disney’s Frozen Jr.”

It is also the first year the parade will have not just a pumpkin queen but a pumpkin king as well.

“They’re representing Rutland High School together,” Cioffi said.

gordon.dritschilo

@rutlandherald.com


News
Louras family issues statement

Former Mayor Christopher Louras and his family issued their first public statement since his son, Christopher G. Louras, was killed in a shootout with police.

“We feel thankful and blessed with good friends and a strong community, which is more evident than ever,” the statement, sent out Wednesday, read. “We are eternally grateful for the love and compassion people have shown, from friends and neighbors, and from members of the Rutland City Police Department.”

Christopher G. Louras was killed in an early morning gun battle with Rutland City Police earlier this month. No information about what might have precipitated the incident has been made available. Police also found the body of his cousin, Nicholas Louras, in Salisbury and have said there were “ties” between the two deaths but have not elaborated.

The family asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Mentor Connector, which works with children whose families are affected by violence and addiction.

“It is our hope that those who wish to help will support the Mentor Connector’s work, especially with families touched by the opioid crisis,” the family said. “Our family was filled with love and opportunity, and it did not stop the curse of drugs and its heartbreaking impact. No one is immune. Through support of the Mentor Connector, we hope to help others who might otherwise face similar threats.”

Nicholas Louras was also the nephew of current Mayor David Allaire, who briefly addressed the situation during this week’s Board of Aldermen meeting. Allaire thanked the residents of Rutland for their “words of encouragement” and “kind thoughts.”

“I appreciate it,” he said. “Our family appreciates it.”

Also Allaire said the police appreciate the way the city has rallied around the department.

“The support they’ve received in this community is nothing short of phenomenal,” he said.

Donations to the Mentor Connector in Nicholas’ and Christopher Louras’ names may be sent to The Mentor Connector, 110 Merchants Row, Rutland, VT 05701.

gordon.dritschilo

@rutlandherald.com


News
Town Office to be checked during mass disaster drill

PITTSFIELD — While it served as the focal point for a statewide, multi-agency disaster drill held Wednesday, the Town Office needs some work before it can be considered an official hub for communications during a real emergency.

“That building has got some issues,” said Select Board Chairman Charles Piso, who was working to coordinate the town’s response to a simulated disaster. “We had some issues during Town Meeting. It’s closed right now. The chimney fell off, it failed a load test, it’s got some other problems. With that, we lost our primary shelter location, so part of the exercise (Division of Fire Safety) is coming down to help us evaluate and tell us where the shortfalls are in this building that have to be addressed to make it a shelter.”

He said the town already knows the Town Office needs a backup generator. The Planning Commission is busy researching grant opportunities for that.

Wednesday’s drill will run into Friday, but the physical portion of it was to wrap up Wednesday in Pittsfield. The drill involved about 80 people simulating a major flood, one that washed away several houses and left between eight and 10 people unaccounted for.

Piso said the drill is meant to simulate what happened during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 that saw several houses washed away, though no people. The town’s role in this simulation, as it would be during a real disaster, is to set up its own “emergency operations center” or EOC, which had been the Town Hall until it was closed earlier this year, but is now the adjacent Town Office.

In a real disaster, Town Clerk Trish Fryer’s job is to establish the town’s EOC and contact the state EOC. Fryer said for this drill, she contacted the state EOC at 8 a.m. and told it the town has set up its own EOC, has limited communications and can’t account for between eight and 10 people.

“She took all that info from me and has been calling me back periodically,” said Fryer.

In a disaster, the town EOC acts as a hub for information, said Piso. It reports missing people to rescuers and tells said rescuers if those gone missing have since been located or reported safe.

Not far from the Town Office, at Riverside Farm, personnel from state and local rescue agencies were preparing to search the banks of the White River for survivors or bodies. Rescuers have several tools to do this, dogs being among them.

Michael Cannon, head of Task Force 1 Swift Water Rescue, which is part of the state’s Division of Fire Safety, was telling a group of people who’d volunteered to be flood survivors what to expect when the search dogs find them.

“They’ll want to get a reward immediately once they find you,” he said. “Once a dog comes over, he’s going to start yipping and barking and trying to get into you. It’s OK to pet them. They’re going to want a toy, which you’re not going to have, the handler will have the toy, but they’re going to go crazy around you, they’re not going to bite you. They’re going to lick you to death, probably.”

This prompted several cries of “yay” from the volunteers, who planned to hide along the river bank and cover themselves in debris to simulate people trapped in washed-out houses.

“We’ve got four dogs, they’re all live-find, they only look for people hidden,” Cannon told the Herald. “They don’t do wilderness searches, but in this case we’re simulating buildings that have been destroyed, so we’re assuming they’re going to be in rubble.”

He said mannequins are being used to simulate dead bodies. They were placed near the river on Tuesday for the dogs to find.

“We’ve also got drones the Department of Public Safety purchased,” Cannon said, adding that they’re fairly new additions to the department’s toolbox. One was used Monday to search part of the Lamoille River for a person. The person was found by a boat in an area where the drone hadn’t been used. Cannon said the drones can quickly cover a wide area and can search dangerous places.

Piso said this drill was in the planning stages for about a year and was still being worked on in mid-April when a rainstorm washed out several major town roads, creating a situation similar to today’s drill, minus the missing people. The real disaster, he said, was also instructive.

“We found some shortfalls in April,” Piso said. “One of them was communications between the fire department and the Town Office.”

He said many of the issues from the April storm have been addressed and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has covered most of the damage done, which would have placed a significant burden on the small town’s finances.

Taking part in Wednesday’s drill were the Department of Public Safety, Vermont Emergency Management, the town of Pittsfield, Vermont’s Urban Search and Rescue Team, Killington Search and Rescue, Division of Fire Safety, Bethel’s swift water rescue team and Pittsford Fire and Rescue.

According to Mark Bosma, public information officer for Vermont Emergency Management, about 500 emergency responders from 19 cities and towns, accounting for 20 state and volunteer agencies, are expected to participate in the three-day exercise, simulating a Tropical Storm Irene-like event. The Agency of Transportation will participate as well.

keith.whitcomb

@rutlandherald.com


Photo by Jon Olender  

Bridge work slows traffic

Traffic waits along Route 100 just outside Pittsfield village on Wednesday where a bridge replacement has traffic down to one lane.