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Vandalism strikes city parks

Vandalism in and around city parks is causing headaches and creating mysteries.

Recreation Superintendent Kim Peters said Monday that White’s Park has been vandalized repeatedly over the last week, and that the weekend saw incidents at Pine Hill Park and Center Street Marketplace Park.

White’s Park had tables overturned and tent stakes pulled up, according to Peters, while at Center Street Marketplace Park, someone upended tables and threw around menus on the back deck at Kelvan’s. At Pine Hill Park, the Tin Man statue was defaced, apparently with a power tool. Peters said the incidents at White’s began about two weeks ago.

“Luckily not a lot of financial damage, but they threw flower pots and stuff into the pool,” she said. “We have cameras now ... within the pool area and surrounding the pool area, but it doesn’t go out to the basketball courts, where our summer camps are.”

That area, where Peters said tents and tables are set up for the outdoor adventure summer day camps, was trashed four out of five nights last week. Counselors arriving at 7:15 a.m., she said, have had to scramble to be ready for the arrival of children at 7:30.

“The stakes are broken,” she said. “They throw tables into the woods. The police are down there when they can be, but it’s difficult.”

Peters said the fencing at the park is aimed at keeping out vehicular traffic, not people.

“We have, right now, about 300 kids in our rec programs today,” she said. “We rely on our sites looking good.”

Peters said she was not sure if any damage was done in the incident at Kelvan’s, but that some lights were stolen. She said Center Street Marketplace Park — formerly known as the Center Street Alley — is typically locked once the restaurants opening onto it have closed for the evening. Kelvan’s was closed on Monday and the owners could not be immediately reached for comment.

At Pine Hill Park, a heart was etched into the chest of the Tin Man with what appeared to be the letters “MS” inside it. The etching on the depiction of the “Wizard of Oz” character looked to have been initially written in marker, and writing in the same color above the heart read “Not Forgot.” What appeared to be a prom photo, printed on heavy paper, was stuck in the Tin Man’s hand.

Pine Hill Partnership President Shelly Lutz said the engraving looked like it had been done with a grinding wheel or a Dremel.

“Something that was battery powered,” she said. “I was so irate. ... I’m not sure what’s going to transpire to get rid of it.”

Lutz said she had not seen the photo when she looked at the damage. She said the Partnership was reaching out to sculptor Jed Danyow, who made the Tin Man, about repairing it.

Police Chief Brian Kilcullen said neither the Kelvan’s or Pine Hill Park incidents had been reported to police as of Monday afternoon, but that the department had been trying to keep an eye on White’s Park.

“We’re certainly up there every night,” he said. “Obviously, we’re not up there all night long, but we are patrolling.”

Kilcullen said officers would have a “strongly worded conversation” with anyone they find at the park after hours.


rlayman / Robert Layman / Staff Photo  

Goat Lounge

A goat lounges in the sun outside its barn in Pawlet Monday.

Public not thrilled over large event permit

PITTSFORD — A proposed ordinance governing “large events” did not get a warm reception at its first public hearing Wednesday.

For the past few months, the Select Board has been discussing and drafting an ordinance that would require a permit for large gatherings. Board members in favor of it have said its only purpose is to notify the town of large gatherings where a large police or emergency response might be needed.

“In response to the police chief’s suggestion that the town consider a public events ordinance, there’s been some discussion and a draft ordinance has been generated based upon an ordinance that’s in place in the town of Randolph,” said Town Manager John Haverstock at the meeting Wednesday. “Since that time we’ve received some additional input from Vermont League of Cities and Towns which has not made its way into the draft ordinance as of yet, but it’s food for thought for the Select Board as to whether there should be any changes in the current draft that’s out there.”

The current draft requires a permit for gatherings of more than 150 people where admission is charged. Members of the public, approximately half a dozen who attended the hearing, wondered if it would apply to events like weddings, family parties or anniversaries. Board members clarified it only applies to commercial events, not church services and the like.

“There have been occasions where there have been large events in town that we learned about, maybe accidentally, just a couple of days before, which would have involved the police and rescue folks, maybe fire folks, being at the ready to deal with any problems that developed,” said Haverstock. “The idea was, if possible, it would be good if we knew these events were going to take place. Big events that would possibly require town services in advance so that we can be better prepared for that.”

He said Pittsford Police Chief Michael Warfle had told the board there was one such event a year or two ago that he didn’t know about until the day before.

Members of the public said the proposed $50 fee for the large gathering permits was too restrictive. They feared it would apply to events like church suppers and tag sales, and didn’t see much difference between a commercial 150-person gathering and a non-commercial one.

Haverstock noted that the 150-person number, and the attached fee, are arbitrary and can be changed.

Selectman David Mills said he was glad people came to the hearing to express their views, as many of the things brought up hadn’t been considered by the board.

Other audience members suggested having a calendar on the town’s website that people could post events to that the police could check.

Selectman Joe Gagnon, who’s been against the ordinance, said with modern communication technology, if there were ever an issue at an event, police, fire and rescue could be summoned quite quickly.

“I’m against this, I want you all to understand. I may be the only one on this board against it. If that’s the way it is, so be it, but we haven’t had any trouble that I’m aware of,” he said. “Until we have an event where it calls for regulations to be implemented, I’ll be for it, but that hasn’t happened.”

Passing the ordinance requires two public hearings. The next is scheduled during the board’s regular meeting on July 17. Meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Town Office.


Biker crash in New Hampshire
Driver with record charged with 7 homicides in biker crash

CONCORD, N.H. — The driver of a pickup truck in a fiery collision on a rural New Hampshire highway that killed seven motorcyclists was charged Monday with seven counts of negligent homicide, and records show he was stopped on suspicion of drunken driving last month and in 2013.

Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, was arrested Monday morning at his home in West Springfield, Massachusetts, the New Hampshire attorney general’s office said. He is to be arraigned today in Lancaster, New Hampshire, authorities said.

He was handed over to New Hampshire authorities after a brief court appearance Monday in Springfield, Massachusetts. Zhukovskyy looked down at his feet as he was led into the courtroom with his hands cuffed behind his back.

Connecticut prosecutors say he was arrested May 11 in an East Windsor Walmart parking lot after failing a sobriety test. Officers had responded to a complaint about a man who was revving his truck engine and jumping up and down outside the vehicle.

Zhukovskyy’s lawyer in that case, John O’Brien, said he denies being intoxicated and will fight the charge. Zhukovskyy refused to submit to a blood test, prosecutors said.

Additionally, Zhukovskyy was arrested on a drunken driving charge in 2013 in Westfield, Massachusetts, state motor vehicle records show. He was placed on probation for one year and had his license suspended for 210 days, The Westfield News reported.

A man who answered the phone at the home of Zhukovskyy’s family and would identify himself only as his brother-in-law said Monday that the family is in shock and feeling the same pain as everyone else but couldn’t say whether the driver was right or wrong.

Since the accident, the brother-in-law said, Zhukovskyy had remained in his room, not eaten and talked to no one.

Defense attorney Donald Frank called Friday’s crash a “tragedy” but said it’s important to let the criminal justice system play out.

Zhukovskyy’s pickup truck, towing a flatbed trailer, collided with a group of 10 motorcycles Friday on a two-lane highway in the northern New Hampshire community of Randolph, investigators said. The truck was traveling west when it struck the eastbound group of motorcycles.

The victims were members or supporters of the Marine JarHeads, a New England motorcycle club that includes Marines and their spouses, and ranged in age from 42 to 62. Four were from New Hampshire, two from Massachusetts and one from Rhode Island.

George Loring, a JarHeads member who lives in Hingham, Massachusetts, and was a few hundred yards from the crash, said Zhukovskyy has “got to live with it for the rest of his life.”

“Everyone’s suffering so much,” Loring said. “It’s so sad for the brothers and sisters who died. You can be angry at him, you can be whatever. I don’t know. I’m glad he’s been arrested.”

Joseph Mazza, whose nephew Albert Mazza Jr. was killed in the crash, welcomed the arrest but called it a poor consolation for the loss of a loved one.

“As long as he pays a price. He has caused lot of harm to a lot of families,” Mazza said from his Haverhill home. “If has a problem, he shouldn’t be on the road. If he is a bad actor, he doesn’t belong on the street. He caused enough of a tragedy. Enough is enough.”

Authorities have only said they are investigating the cause of the collision.

JarHeads president Manny Ribeiro, who survived the crash, said the group had just finished dinner and was heading to a fundraiser at American Legion post in nearby Gorham. A total of 21 riders and 15 motorcycles were in the group. Ten motorcycles, including Mazza, who was riding next to Ribeiro, were hit.

“It was just an explosion ... with parts and Al and everything flying through the air,” he said. “He turned hard left into us and took out pretty much everyone behind me. The truck and trailer stayed attached and that is why it was so devastating ... because the trailer was attached and it was such a big trailer, it was like a whip. It just cleaned us out.”

After the crash, Ribeiro recalled seeing Zhukovskyy “screaming and running around” in the middle of the road before he was taken away by authorities. Motorcycles and bodies were everywhere, he said, and several people were yelling at Zhukovskyy, demanding to know what he had just done.

“It was very surreal,” he said, adding that he had put a tourniquet on the leg of one rider who remains hospitalized in Maine.

“I saw Al. I knew he was gone right away,” he continued. “At that point, we just tried to figure out who needed help and got to work. There was debris everywhere and the truck was on fire. I was just looking for survivors, familiar faces and trying to find out who I had lost and ... trying to help the living.”

Zhukovskyy was questioned at the scene of Friday’s crash and allowed to return to Massachusetts, the National Transportation Safety Board has said.

Authorities identified the dead as Michael Ferazzi, 62, of Contoocook, New Hampshire; Mazza, 59, of Lee, New Hampshire; Desma Oakes, 42, of Concord, New Hampshire; Aaron Perry, 45, of Farmington, New Hampshire; Daniel Pereira, 58, of Riverside, Rhode Island; and Jo-Ann and Edward Corr, both 58, of Lakeville, Massachusetts.

Rutland City Police use Facebook to reunite pets, owners

When officers at the Rutland City Police Department find a stray animal in the evening, outside the hours of the animal control officer, they have two choices. They can either drop the dog or cat off at the humane society to stay overnight, or they can keep it at the station and hope the owner comes to claim it.

According to Patrol Commander Greg Sheldon, the officers often opt to keep the animals, usually dogs, around the station rather than impound them.

“Most of the officers are animal lovers. They wouldn’t want their dog overnight in a shelter,” Sheldon said, explaining that the officers will care for the dogs overnight and then drop them off at the shelter if the owner is not found by morning.

To help find the owners, the department uses its Facebook page, posting pictures of the pets and information about where they were found. Sheldon said that Facebook helps police successfully locate the owners nearly every time.

“I would say it works well over 95% of the time, because most people who are concerned pet owners either call here or go on Facebook to look for them,” he said. “It’s very effective. I mean, you’re reaching thousands of people.”

According to Sheldon, before Facebook was an option, the officers would still keep dogs at the station but their ability to reach out to owners was limited. He said police would rely on information from an animal’s collar and search the records of licensed pets to try and contact the owner — two methods they still use in addition to the online search.

Sheldon recommends pet owners register their animals to make it easier for police to return them if they escape. Animal Control Officer Tim Jones said that he also relies on the license records to contact pet owners during the day.

“We try to make every effort to find the owner as soon as possible,” he said. “If the dog is registered, then we have an easy way of getting it back to the owner.”

Jones also explained that police can fine owners for breaking city ordinances about loose animals if their pets escape frequently. The fines are progressive and range from $50 to $500.

“If it’s a licensed dog inside the city, generally speaking, we have the tags and we can return it to the owners, so usually that does not present much of an issue,” Jones said. “If it’s a frequent occurrence, where the dog is continually getting loose, we have a system of fines in place.”

Jones said that the department catches somewhere between 50 and 75 strays a year, usually capturing around one-third of the animals they receive calls about. His normal process involves attempting to reconnect the pet with the owner before taking it up to the humane society to see if the dog has a tracking chip. He will then leave the animal there for the owner to pick up.

“I’m more inclined to bring them to the humane society because they’re really set up for that,” Jones said.

However, Jones said he appreciates that the officers on the night shift keep animals at the station in the hopes of seeing them returned home before morning.

“It’s a nice extra service that we’re providing at nighttime,” he said, adding that it would take time out of the officer’s schedule to drive animals to the humane society and impound them overnight.

Sheldon said officers will usually try to spare the animals the experience of being locked into the shelter until morning, though the department does not have an official policy dictating they keep animals at the station.

“It can be traumatic dropping a dog off at a shelter with other animals barking in kennels all around them. As animal lovers we don’t want that to happen,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do. I don’t think you need a policy to do what’s right.”


Patrick McArdle / Staff Photo  

April Kuhl, president of Rutland South Rotary Club, was one of about 20 Rotarians from the Rutland South and the Rutland City clubs volunteering to beautify Beaver Pond in Proctor on Saturday.


Clean-up crew

Two local rotary clubs have taken on a clean-up project at Beaver Pond in Proctor. A3, A5

Global talks

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held talks Monday with Middle Eastern leaders about countering the military threat from Iran by building a broad, global coalition. B4

RHD Hotspot



on the Farm

Steve Spensley will kick off the summer tunes with his Americana jams., $5 per family suggested donation, 6-8 p.m. Pittsford Village Farm, 42 Elm Street, Pittsford,