HEARD ON THE STREET: 1.5.17

Hollar Commits To Continue Working With Fraser

MONTPELIER — Mayor John Hollar has announced he will “commit to working constructively” with City Manager William Fraser effective Dec. 15. This is a reversal on a previous assertion on Hollar’s part that he would side with three out of seven city council members seeking to end Fraser’s contract effective 2017 Town Meeting Day.

He announced this in a statement released Oct. 15, which The Bridge published online. But for those who don’t follow news online, here is a copy of his statement:

Statement of Mayor John Hollar Regarding Contract of City Manager Bill Fraser, Dec. 15, 2016

The issue of the city manager’s contract has become increasingly divisive within our community and has diverted the attention of the city council and staff away from the many other important issues facing Montpelier. This runs counter to my goal of helping the city to meet its full potential.

The city was advised in mid-November that the city manager was willing to negotiate an agreement on the terms of his departure as city manager. Attorneys for the council and city manager have been negotiating a resolution of this issue over the last four weeks. Yesterday, the council was informed that the city manager was no longer willing to consider such an agreement. During that period, public comment has strongly opposed termination. For those reasons, I have decided not to support any city council action to terminate the city manager’s contract.

I have relied on the advice of the city’s attorney in not publicly discussing the reasons for ending the city manager’s contract. That has, unfortunately, led to a proliferation of unfounded rumors and false hearsay, including about my motives. This has contributed to increasingly harsh and vituperative public statements.

I am committed to working constructively with the city manager in our mutual desire to serve the best interests of the city.

Hollar’s statement came the day after the council’s Dec. 14 meeting in which, for the first hour or so, though not on the agenda, multiple people waited turns to speak up in favor of keeping Fraser’s contract intact. Speakers included former mayor Charles Karparis, City Clerk John Odum and City Council President Anne Watson. This meeting followed many other council meetings in which the topic came up. The council will meet again on Fraser’s contract Jan. 9

 

Time Bank Reopens Tools Lending Library

MONTPELIER — The tool library, created in 2015 by the Onion River Exchange with support from the Home Depot Foundation and the Ben and Jerry’s Foundation, has reopened effective Jan. 3. In 2016, with support from the Oakland Foundation, exchange was able to expand its inventory of tools. Now there are more than 100 tools members can borrow, including a food-canning set, cordless circular saw, food dehydrator, hand-held electric planer, power washer, heat gun, soldering kit, soil tester, electric hedge trimmer, post hole digger and battery-powered weed whacker.

Since 2008, The Onion River Exchange time bank has helped hundreds of central Vermonters exchange services using time instead of money to access the skills and talents of our community: a network of helping hands.

Here’s how it works: When one member provides a service to another member, time credits are earned that can be exchanged to receive a service, saved for future needs, or even donated to another member or organization. Services cover a broad range — cooking, shoveling snow, driving someone to an appointment, piano lessons, helping with tax preparation or dealing with computer troubles. Members have made over 15,000 exchanges, sharing more than 44,500 service hours in 80 categories.

In 2017, the Onion River Exchange plans to recruit new members, improve member services, work more closely with other nonprofit, and have a lively tool library. The Onion River Exchange also offers member-led workshops, music events and other community awareness projects. Membership is $25. a year which includes being able to borrow tools from the tool library.

Onion River Exchange is located at 46 Barre St. in Montpelier. Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information or to donate tools call 661-8959.

 

Merry Christmas, DPW

MONTPELIER — Employees with the Department of Public Works spent quite a bit of time out in the cold just after Christmas. According to the Dec. 30 City Manager’s report, there were several water main failures during the week of Dec. 26. It began Dec. 27 with a water main break on Northfield Street near Independence Green. This section of old water main is very prone to failure with multiple repairs completed over the last few years. Rather than attempt an additional repair, the leak was isolated using a new valve, and service to all customers was restored by relying on the loop configuration serving the Freedom Drive neighborhood. This old water main is scheduled for replacement with the Northfield Street Reconstruction Project next summer.

Then, during the early morning hours of Dec. 28, an 8-inch water main on River Street (Route 2) near Wheelock Street ruptured. The road was closed to all traffic until the extent of erosion damage could be fully assessed. The decision to close the road was made in the interest of safety, but the designated detour routes were not ideally suited to accommodate tractor trailer trucks and were an inconvenience for travelers during the morning commute. This was a challenging repair because River Street was constructed with a concrete base, and the water main was found underneath the edge of the concrete road slab.

The road was deemed safe and was reopened to one-way traffic by about 8:30 a.m. and repair work proceeded. During the course of trying to restore water, some workers did not strictly adhere to Vermont Occupational Safety and Health guidelines, which could result in a citation or a fine. Staff is being re-trained to avoid similar violations in the future.

While work was wrapping up on River Street, DPW was notified of another major water leak in the Kent Street neighborhood. The leak was quickly isolated and damage was kept to a  minimum. This 6-inch water main was found to have a 2-foot long crack and by 7 p.m. on  Dec. 28, the repair was complete and water service restored.

However, the crew was called back to the scene a short time later to address a second failure. This second leak was determined to be another crack several feet from the first repair and water was finally restored to the neighborhood shortly after 9 p.m.

Then, at about 3 a.m. on Friday Dec. 30, another water leak was reported to the emergency on-call person. This one was on Liberty Street near the Saint Paul Street intersection. The entire crew was mobilized once again; the location of the leak was found in short order and isolated between Main and Loomis Streets. This older cast iron water main was also discovered to have cracked and the repair was completed by about 9 a.m. that morning and all service was restored.

 

Shaw’s Loses Power Over Holiday

MONTPELIER — The Bridge received several queries from readers about just what happened to downtown supermarket Shaw’s over the holidays. Reports of empty shelves and more workers than ususal scurrying to take care of produce following a power outage.

The local store manager declined to comment, but referred The Bridge to Teresa Edington, External Communication and Community Relations Manager.

Edington wrote to The Bridge by email: “On Christmas Day, during a regularly scheduled store and system check, it came to our attention that overnight the Shaw’s store in Montpelier, Vermont, experienced a power and refrigeration outage. Immediately upon notification, our Store Operations Team followed our Company procedures for power outages and other situations similar to this one. These procedures included bringing in our contracted Refrigeration Company to assess the situation, working with the local power company, following food safety procedures, etc.”

“At this time, the situation has been rectified, we have replenished the product stock at our store and we continue to serve the customers of Montpelier.”

 

Café Anna

Café Anna

Café Anna

MONTPELIER — Café Anna, located in a first floor corner space in College Hall at Vermont College of Fine Arts, has re-opened under new management. The café is open to College students and to friends and neighbors in the community and to the general public. The café is currently developing its own website. In the meantime, to find out if the café is open, please phone the College at 828-8600 extension 8699.

 

Local Leader Certified In Executive Training

MONTPELIER — Lindel James, owner of The Center for Leadership Skills for business and leadership development, recently earned a new credential. The Center for Executive Coaching issued a certificate dated Dec. 21 naming James a “Master Certified Coach Trainer.”

“(I am) very excited that I am now eligible to train and certify those who want to become executive and leadership coaches! Let me know if you see executive and leadership coaching in your future,” James said. She can be contacted at lindeljames.com.

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