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Town agrees to fine over sewage discharge

BRANDON — The town has agreed to pay a fine imposed on it by the Agency of Natural Resources over a broken pipe that saw 3 million gallons of untreated sewage go into the Neshobe River.

The Agency of Natural Resources Department of Environmental Conservation announced Wednesday it fined the town $12,000 for the discharge, as well as failing to report the problem within the time frame required by law.

According to a statement from ANR, on Feb. 22, 2018, a sewer line under the Neshobe River ruptured. ANR said the pipe was installed decades prior and had last been inspected between 2011 and 2013. Erosion led to the pipe being exposed, which led to the pipe being damaged. This caused untreated sewage to enter the river, and for river water to back up into the water treatment facility, further affecting water treatment.

The ANR claims a “nonfunctioning” alarm failed to notify Brandon town employees of the problem, though they did see there was high water flow at the facility on Feb. 22 and they did investigate this. ANR claims the town didn’t notify the Department of Environmental Conservation of a problem until March 6, 2018, when the break in the line was discovered.

Waste water treatment facility operators must notify DEC within 24 hours after they discover an improper waste water discharge, according to ANR.

Brandon Town Manager Dave Atherton said Wednesday in a phone interview that once the highflow was noticed at the facility, efforts were undertaken immediately to find the cause. He said usually a high flow is the result of a pipe being infiltrated, not breached. A number of pipe issues were found and fixed, but the flow problem continued until the broken pipe under the river was discovered.

Atherton said natural erosion exposed the pipe and the river did the rest. The problem occurred while ice was still on the river, making the procedure a difficult one.

“It was a bad time of year to be dealing with this,” he said. “Once we identified the problem, we had it fixed within 48 hours, but they had to fine us for something.”

Atherton said ANR initially wanted to fine the town more than $30,000, but after some discussion, the $12,000 was settled upon. Atherton said fighting it any further would’ve likely cost the town more than that in legal fees, so this felt like the wisest course.

“Vermont’s aging municipal wastewater treatment facilities and sewer systems present many challenges for operators and customers,” said Emily Boedecker, DEC commissioner, in a statement. “It is critical that operaters take all necessary measures to minimize the potential for and damage from accidental releases, including performing routine inspections, testing alarms and promptly notifying DEC when compliance issues arise. Timely notification not only ensures that public health concerns can be addressed, but also enables the Department to ensure that facilities promptly identify and resolve the underlying problem.”


rlayman / Robert Layman / Staff Photo  

Beautification on Center Street

Maintenance workers from the Rutland Recreation & Parks Department water the hanging baskets in downtown Rutland Wednesday morning.

Police say Rutland man brandished shotgun

A Robbins Street man was charged with a felony Wednesday after police said he brandished a shotgun, although the man said the shotgun was unloaded at the time.

Collin J. Parie, 22, of Rutland, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Rutland criminal court to a felony count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and a misdemeanor count of criminal threatening.

Parie was released without bail but ordered to stay away from two other people involved in the alleged incident.

In an affidavit, Officer Jimmy Plakas, of the Rutland City Police Department, said he was dispatched around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday to Robbins Street.

Plakas said Parie called police at 7:29 a.m and reported that he needed help obtaining his property from the apartment and said there was a man there “who was not supposed to be there.” Dispatchers said a woman’s voice could be heard saying the apartment was hers and the other man had permission to be there.

Parie said he no longer needed the police but said he would call back if necessary.

At 7:32 a.m., a woman called back and said she needed help because Parie had a shotgun. The woman said Parie had put the shotgun away but she wanted police to tell Parie to leave.

Plakas said when he got to Robbins Street, Parie told him that he had an unloaded firearm.

Plakas said after he searched Parie for weapons, Parie told him that he and the woman had been in a relationship for about 2½ years but the relationship ended Tuesday. Parie said police had been called during the course of the relationship and an order of relief from abuse had been issued.

Parie said the woman made him leave her home Tuesday, and he spent the night in the Walmart parking lot.

On Wednesday, Parie returned to the apartment to retrieve some of his personal belongings. At the apartment, he saw a vehicle parked outside that he believed belonged to another man.

According to the affidavit, the woman confirmed the vehicle belonged to a man. Parie allegedly told police he went to his vehicle and got a Remington 12-gauge shotgun.

Parie said he went to the apartment door and hit the door “once or twice.” Plakas said he asked Parie if he used the shotgun to hit the door and Parie said, “I was just trying to open the door.” Parie said he was trying to get the man to come outside.

The affidavit said, “I asked (Parie) what he would have done if the door opened. (Parie) stated, ‘I’m not sure. It was an unloaded gun.’”

Plakas said Parie let him retrieve the shotgun from his car.

In a statement, the other man told police that Parie had threatened to kill him and assault him while he was knocking on the apartment door.

If Parie is convicted of the charges filed against him, he could be sentenced to up to six years in jail.


Man accused of hitting woman with a bat

A School Street man is being held on $10,000 bail after a woman told police he had hit her with a metal baseball bat during a July 1 argument in Rutland.

Pat E. Wright, 38, of Rutland, pleaded not guilty July 3 in Rutland criminal court to a felony charge of first-degree aggravated domestic assault with a weapon, a felony charge of larceny from a person and a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest.

In an affidavit, Officer Oscar Menjivar, of the Rutland City Police Department, said he met with a woman at the Rutland City police station at around 8:35 a.m. July 1.

The woman said she and Wright, with whom she had a relationship, had argued June 29 because Wright accused her of cheating.

The woman said Wright assaulted her because he didn’t trust her.

She told police Wright bit her upper thigh and hit her in the face with tip of the bat, causing her bottom lip to bleed. The woman said he punched her eye with a closed fist and hit her in the ankle with the bat.

Asked to rate the pain she felt on a scale of 1 to 10, the woman described the pain as a 9 when she was hit in the face with the bat.

Menjivar said the woman allowed him to photograph her injuries. He described bruises on her person that matched her description of her injuries.

The woman told police that she had a credit card and debit card that she put down on a stand near the television during the argument. She said Wright reached for the cards and she tried to stop him, but he was able to pull them from her hand.

According to the woman, Wright had already removed money from her account by the time she spoke with Menjivar.

After speaking with the woman, police were not able to locate Wright, Menjivar wrote in his affidavit.

In a separate affidavit, Officer Christopher Rose, also of the Rutland City Police Department, said police responded to a reported theft at a State Street convenience store around 6:30 p.m. July 2.

Rose said police found Wright on Forest Street, but Rose said when he told Wright that he was being arrested for the alleged domestic assault, Wright “took off running.”

However, Rose said in the affidavit that police were able to catch up to Wright. Rose said Wright continued to resist attempts to take him into custody.

During Wright’s arraignment, attorney Mary Kay Lanthier, who represents Wright, said her client didn’t have family ties to the Rutland area but had close friends, a roommate and a job. Lanthier acknowledged that Wright was supposed to have been at his job at the same time he was being arraigned, so it was unclear whether he would be able to keep the job.

She said Wright was “ready and able to contest the charges.”

Rutland County Deputy State’s Attorney Travis Weaver told Judge Thomas Zonay that the state had gotten “mixed signals” about whether the woman who spoke to police was still willing to work with the state to prosecute Wright.

Zonay said he believed bail was necessary because police said Wright fled and tried to evade capture when they attempted to arrest him.

“Once captured, he resisted, so it wasn’t as though he ran, got caught and stopped. He kept fighting,” Zonay said.

From the defense table, Wright responded, “No.”

Zonay said the allegation that Wright attempted to flee was one of the strongest factors in his decision to impose bail.

If convicted of all charges, Wright could be sentenced to up to 26 years in prison.


Assets moved among city parks

The city’s Little Libraries are back in business.

The libraries — boxes from which local children are encouraged to take books that interest them and to leave others behind — were pulled from Depot Park and Meadow Street Playground last year and are destined for Justin Thomas Playground on Madison Street and the playground on River Street.

“Unfortunately, they were vandalized last year,” Recreation Superintendent Kim Peters said. “We took them down, redid them.”

Peters said both parks see good foot traffic from neighborhood children and that she expects the Little Libraries will be appreciated there.

Also in new homes are the five purple park benches commemorating Carly Ferro, an RHS student who, in 2012, was killed by an intoxicated driver. Benches have been in and out of Depot Park in recent years as successive administrations try to decide what to do about illegal activity there. Mayor David Allaire most recently removed them in September after a person spotted urinating in the bushes convinced the park had failed to find “some semblance of normalcy.”

Peters said two of the benches will go to White’s Park, one to Center Street Marketplace Park and one with each of the Little Libraries.

In addition to the benches, much of the plant life has been removed from the park, rendering it uninviting when not hosting the farmers market. Alderman Thomas DePoy, chairman of the Recreation Committee, said he felt like there ought to be something the city could do to make Depot Park work.

“It may be something we need to look at as a city as to how we’re going to renovate it or reinvigorate that area so it’s not such a hot spot of vagrant activity,” he said. “There’s no other way to put it — that’s what’s going on there. People are using it for illegal activity.”

DePoy said they also need to figure out how to push the illegal activity out of Depot Park without pushing it into the newly renovated Center Street Marketplace Park.

“Depot Park has a long history in the city and I think we need to find a way to make it nice again,” he said. “It’s got to be made into a place where people want to go to bring their kids. I don’t know how to do that right now. ... Maybe have it be a marketplace year-round ... something that’s going to bring some positive atmosphere there instead of the lingering negative atmosphere.”