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Killington looking to keep $259,000 in FEMA funds

KILLINGTON — The town will try to hang on to a $259,000 payment the federal government made for bridge repairs after Tropical Storm Irene.

The Select Board met Dec. 3 for a regular meeting in which the board discussed issues with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) over repairs made to Stage Road and Ravine Road related damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

“We received a response from the FEMA appeal which is the first appeal of the withdrawing of the appropriation we received for the two bridges on Stage Road and Ravine Road,” said Town Manager Chet Hagenbarth at the meeting. “Last winter, after we appealed to Washington to get more money, the local office found that they had a loophole in the approval originally and asked for the $259,000 back.”

He said the FEMA decision was appealed in the beginning of April. The agency denied it, Hagenbarth said.

He added that the town has one more appeal option left. It can appeal directly to the FEMA office in Washington D.C. and lean on Vermont’s Congressional delegation to help it do so. He suggested the town seek out Mel Adams who served as Killington’s FEMA coordinator during the recovery period from Irene.

Hagenbarth said the appeal would likely cost the town between $5,000 and $8,000.

“… I’d rather go for the appeal at this point even if it does cost us $5,000 to $8,000,” Selectwoman Patty McGrath said. “I do believe with Mel’s help we have a better chance of retaining those funds.”

Hagenbarth said the town has 60 days — starting about a week prior to the Dec. 3 meeting — to file the appeal.

“It’s, let’s say $5,000 to $10,000, to get $259,000 not to leave our budget,” said Selectman Jim Haff. “We’re already in this far, it’s a no-brainer.”

Hagenbarth said he agreed and was simply looking for direction from the board. He said state officials he’s spoken to have put the odds of the town’s success in this matter at 20 percent.

“For anyone who’s not familiar with this, we’re not asking for more money, we’re asking to keep the money that was given to us to do repairs after Irene,” Selectboard Chairman Stephen Finneron said. “FEMA is asking us to pay back this money. This is what the appeal is, so we’d keep the money; we’re not asking for more, we just want to keep what they gave us.”

Haff added that the town should contact Vermont senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders as well as Killington’s state Rep. Jim Harrison for assistance with the FEMA appeal.


Robert Layman / Staff Photo  

Bryan Crandall, top, helps his coworkers at GE Aviation lift a large box of toys into a truck at the plant in North Clarendon. The GE Veterans Network participated in a Toys for Tots drive that filled six trucks with 1,931 toys destined for the Open Door Mission in Rutland.

Rutland Town moves against 'nuisance' properties

The town is taking action against properties it says are a public nuisance, recently giving three property owners deadlines on when they have to clean up with plans to tell the same to four others.

It’s doing so because of a new law, Public Health Officer John Paul Faignant said at a Board of Health meeting on Tuesday.

The Select Board serves as the town’s Board of Health. The health board meeting took place during a regular Select Board meeting. Faignant also serves on the Select Board.

“The town of Rutland has a public nuisance ordinance in which the town can declare properties kept in an unkempt manner is detrimental to public health and human welfare,” Faignant said. “The state of Vermont has declared that salvage yards represent public health issues requiring regulation. In July 2018, the Vermont Legislature enacted a new law with regard to the town health officer, requiring town health officers to take action against properties that are either a public health issue or that constitute salvage yards by state definition.”

He told the health board he’s seeking to give property owners a set amount of time to clean up. If they don’t do so within the timeline, the town will do the cleaning and place a lien on the property to cover the cost.

The first property that went before the board Tuesday was 282 Perkins Road, owned by James Lertola. Faignant said Lertola needed to clean debris from his property so that it’s in keeping with the character of the neighborhood. Lertola said he would do this, but it would take time given that it’s the winter season and he recently had a trailer stolen from him. His said his funds are also limited, but he’d try to clean the property.

The board voted 3-0 to give Lertola 90 days to clean up the property.

Faignant abstained from this and the other property votes, while board member Joe Denardo was absent.

The second property was 2442 North Grove St., owned by Greg Whitehorne. His tenant, George Foster, was present along with Whitehorne for the meeting. Whitehorne wanted clarification on what had to be cleared from the property. Faignant said all the garbage and scrap material. Whitehorne said much of it was cleared since Faignant last visited the property. The board voted 3-0 to give him 90 days to clean it up and that within the next 10 days Faignant would conduct another site visit to clarify what had to go.

The third property the Board of Health addressed was 118 Route 4 East, owned by John Ruggerio, who said he agreed the property needs cleaning and felt he could manage it to the board’s satisfaction. He said he plans to have the building secured by Feb. 1 and fixed up by May 1. The board agreed to this.


Ad company pulls out of regional marketing campaign

Mondo Mediaworks has pulled out of its contract for the regional marketing initiative.

The Brattleboro-based company had contracted with the Rutland Economic Development Corp. and Rutland Regional Chamber of Commerce to produce a digital ad campaign promoting the Rutland area as a place to live. Toward that end, it produced videos and other material for use in targeted online marketing and in television spots.

“Mondo is pivoting from a full-service digital marketing agency to focus on video productions,” Mondo owner Luke Stafford said Friday, explaining that the company started out as a video production house and built up its digital marketing services around that core. “Unfortunately, the economics of it precipitated a decision to wind down the marketing side of the business.”

Stafford said that winding-down came with some severe staff cuts — the company is going from 14 full-time employees to just three.

“That part has been extremely difficult,” he said.

Stafford said the production part of the contract, which runs through March, was complete. Mondo made six video and 10 other “stories” highlighting the experiences of people in Rutland. REDC executive director Tyler Richardson said the remainder of the contract would have had Mondo seeing what effect those stories were having.

“They would be monitoring social media channels and things of that nature,” he said.

Richardson said the campaign’s organizers were still sorting out how those duties would be handled in Mondo’s absence.

“I think we’re kind of entertaining all options right now,” he said.

Richardson said it was also unclear where the campaign, which has always been described as a long-term effort, was going to go after March.

“I think we’re still kind of forming that in light of the recent developments, looking forward in terms of how we’re going to implement our strategy,” he said.

Richardson directed questions about the contract to chamber executive director Mary Cohen, as did Stafford with questions about how the campaign will be handled through March. Cohen did not respond to an inquiry Friday afternoon.

“This is not going to just drop,” Stafford said. “I’ve been working with them on the transition.”

Stafford said the campaign was the most personally meaningful campaign he had undertaken at Mondo.

“It’s more than just a marketing campaign,” he said. “It’s a project to revitalize an entire county. ... This was something that I personally put a lot of work into and the entire staff did. ... I know the very passionate people of Rutland will keep it going.”


Man gets 2 years for domestic assault

A local man who was accused of attempted murder after striking a woman with a frying pan and threatening her with a knife in March 2017 was sentence on Thursday to serve two to eight years in jail.

At that time, Dean Kennett, 31, of Rutland, was arraigned in Rutland criminal court on a felony charge of 2nd-degree attempted murder, a felony charge of kidnapping and a misdemeanor charge of interference with access to emergency services.

On Nov. 7, Kennett pleaded guilty to two felony charges which had been amended to 1st-degree aggravated domestic assault and 2nd-degree unlawful restraint.

Kennett entered a plea agreement under which the charge of interfering with access to emergency services was dismissed.

Under the sentence imposed by Judge Samuel Hoar, Kennett is entitled to credit for the time he has already served. According to the Vermont Department of Corrections’ online inmate locator, the credit means that Kennett could be released as early as March 28.

If Kennett serves the maximum sentence, he wouldn’t be released until March 2025.

Attorney Mark Furlan, who represented Kennett, did not return a call on Friday asking for comment on the outcome of the case.

Rutland County Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Peter Bevere, who prosecuted the case with attorney Ian Sullivan, said the charges were amended as a result of the evidence developing in the case and because the woman who reported the assault wanted the case to resolve without a trial.

Officer Elizha Heter, of the Rutland City Police Department, wrote in an affidavit from March 2017 that police were dispatched to a report of an incident at a Harrington Avenue home.

At the scene, police saw a woman coming out of the home wearing no shoes and with her wrists tied together. Heter said her wrists were bound with “what appeared to be pieces of two shopping bags that had been tied together as a makeshift rope.”

The woman was crying and told police she feared Kennett was going to kill himself.

The woman told police she had “recently left the Brattleboro Retreat and (Kennett) had just been released from the ‘psych ward’ that afternoon, and he was going to kill himself and had tried to kill her,” Heter said in the affidavit.

According to the woman, Kennett, who had barricaded the doors and claimed he “would not be taken alive,” had kept her tied up for several hours.

The woman told police Kennett had hit her twice in the head with a frying pan, threatened her with a butcher’s knife, choked her several times until she passed out, punched her in the face and took her phone when she told him she was going to call her mother.

Police received calls from Kennett’s relatives who said he told them he cut himself and was “bleeding out.”

Based on those reports, police entered the home and found Kennett, who had cut both his wrists, in a crawlspace in the basement.

Heter said Kennett claimed the woman had hit him with a frying pan and threatened him with the knife.

According to the affidavit, Kennett said the incident started because he was trying to stop her from drinking alcohol again.

Kennett told police he had cut himself and hoped to bleed to death because no one would believe him. He said the woman had a “way of twisting things.”


rlayman / Robert Layman / Staff Photo  

Otter Valley’s Patrick McKeighan, center, goes for a shot as Windsor’s Ryland Richardon, right, puts up the defense during the Bob Abrahamson Tip-Off Classic tournament at the Buggiani Gymnasium in Proctor Thursday night.

JLowe / Photo by Abigail Feldman//  

The Nutcracker Prince and Marie in the 2017 “Green Mountain Nutcracker.”