Icy roads lead to White River Junction crashes

ERIC FRANCIS PHOTO Icing on the Urban Bridge in downtown White River Junction first thing Friday morning sent a Jeep straight into the railing, knocking several pieces into the White River far below.  The driver sustained rib injuries and she was taken to the hospital by Hartford firefighters.

ERIC FRANCIS PHOTO
Icing on the Urban Bridge in downtown White River Junction first thing Friday morning sent a Jeep straight into the railing, knocking several pieces into the White River far below. The driver sustained rib injuries and she was taken to the hospital by Hartford firefighters.

Civil suit settled in fatal Rutland hit and run

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By Brent Curtis
Staff Writer

Christopher Sullivan and the family of a Mendon woman he is charged with running down in a fatal hit-and-run crash last year have agreed to a $260,000 settlement that would end a civil wrongful death lawsuit.

However, the former Rutland municipal attorney would pay less than 5 percent of the settlement amount, said the attorney representing the family of Jane Outslay.

The 71-year-old Mendon woman died April 10, 2013, after being struck by a car while crossing Strongs Avenue in downtown Rutland.

The car that struck her didn’t stop, but more than 12 hours later, Sullivan, 54, identified himself as the driver of the vehicle that struck and killed Outslay.

Criminal charges of drunken driving in a fatal crash and leaving the scene of a fatal crash are pending against Sullivan who pleaded innocent to the offenses.

The civil lawsuit, filed at the start of the year, sought unspecified amounts of financial damages from Sullivan for multiple breaches of duty.

The civil case was proceeding toward trial until Friday when the Outslays’ attorney Matthew Anderson filed a petition in Rutland civil court asking a judge to approve the $260,000 settlement. Sullivan’s attorney, John Paul Faignant, notified the court Monday that he had no objection to the settlement request.

Anderson said Monday that Sullivan would only pay $10,000 toward the settlement amount with another $25,000 coming from Sullivan’s insurance company — representing the maximum amount of his liability coverage under his insurance policy.

The remaining $225,000 would come from the Outslays’ own insurance as an under-insured motorist claim, Anderson said. 

“(Sullivan’s) liability coverage was the statutory minimum required by law,” Anderson said. 

The $10,000 amount that Sullivan will be responsible for represents the most that Anderson said the family would be able to collect based on Sullivan’s assets.

While the former municipal attorney earned $112,000 during his last year with the city in 2007, according to the city report for that year, Anderson said most of Sullivan’s assets were tied up in retirement funds and home equity shared with his wife, which is exempt from legal claims.

“The representations we received showed he does not have any assets we can reach,” Anderson said. “Knowing his sophistication as an attorney about what is exempt I decided there wasn’t going to be much we were going to be able to get at.”

And with the prospect of a protracted legal battle, Anderson said he and the family decided the settlement was the best option.

“Most personal injury lawyers will tell you the act of trying to collect money from an individual is more costly than what you get from an individual,” he said.

The settlement also specifies that Sullivan makes no admission to either criminal or civil liability for Outslay’s death.

“The family is as happy as they can be with the outcome. It will never bring Jane back and we feel it’s inadequate. To the extent that any amount of money would be adequate, this amount is inadequate.”

Jane Outslay’s husband, Merrill Outslay — who will receive all of the settlement — declined to comment Monday.

Faignant could not be reached for comment Monday.

brent.curtis @rutlandherald.com

Intoxicated woman crashes car on I-91 with two kids inside, police say

STAFF REPORT
A New Hampshire woman is facing multiple charges after police say she drove her car off Interstate 91 in Springfield Sunday night while intoxicated, with two young children in the car.
Katie E. Schulenberger, 26, of Langdon, N.H., was charged with DUI-accident resulting, child endangerment, careless and negligent operation with serious injury, and criminal driving on a suspended license, after, police say, the car she was driving went off the Interstate into the median at about 9:45 p.m., went partially airborne and hit a tree roof first.
Schulenberger was partially ejected through the sun roof. A four year old boy was partially ejected out the rear window; a five year old girl was pinned under the roof in the back seat, police said.
Neither of the children were wearing seatbelts, and rescue crews from the Springfield and Ascutney Fire Departments, along with Golden Cross Ambulance spent roughly 45 minutes extracting the three people in the car, all of whom are expected to live.
All three were taken to Darmouth Hitchock Medical Center, Schulenberger by helicopter; one child sustained a compound fracture to the foot, police said.
State troopers went to Dartmouth Hitchock to continue investigating the crash and there found Schulenberger to be intoxicated, and cited her to appear in Windsor County criminal court.

Police seek help identifying Vt. Gas protesters

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Staff Report

SOUTH BURINGTON – Police are asking for help in identifying two protesters who were allegedly involved in an incident last week at the Vermont Gas Systems headquarters.

According to South Burlington Police, on the morning of May 27 two protesters distracted a receptionist while two other protesters snuck to the roof of the building to display a banner.

When asked by company employees to leave and move to the public sidewalk, protesters pushed an employee and struck her with a large chain while trying to chain a fellow protester to the front door, police said.

As a result, the Vermont Gas employee was injured by one of the protesters.

Police have obtained pictures from the incident and are looking to identify the subjects. Wanted in connection with the trespass are two men who were wearing collared shirts, ties and appear to be on cell phones.

The male wanted in connection with the assault is wearing black rimmed glasses, a blue winter hat, a dark hooded zip up sweatshirt, a blue button up shirt beneath and wearing a khaki-colored courier type bag slung over his left shoulder.

If you recognize the individuals, contact Detective Cpl. Andrew Johnson at 922-4447 or e-mail at ajohnson@sbpdvt.org.

Saturday’s Mayfest will ring in the summer

By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER

BENNINGTON — The weather has been uneven in the last few days but the start of summer is surely here with Bennington’s Mayfest set for Saturday.

The outdoor festival has itself fallen on days likely to have a bit of chilly rain rather than the kind of weather associated with weeks off from school and lakeside vacations, but the event is still an opportunity to get outside, eat fried food and see neighbors, according to John Shannahan, executive director of the Better Bennington Corp.

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Protest planned at Santa’s Land on Saturday

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By SUSAN SMALLHEER
Staff Writer

PUTNEY — Local animal rights activists are planning a protest outside Santa’s Land on Saturday morning and are organizing a boycott of the amusement park over what they say is the continuing neglect and mistreatment of the animals at the park.

The park is planning to open Memorial Day weekend, with full-time operation resuming next month.

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Vermont artists host Open Studio Weekend 2014

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By Mary Gow
Arts Correspondent

Alice Cheney had an eye to the light, space, ambiance, and storage she needed to do her encaustic painting when she designed and built her studio on the hillside behind her Warren Village home back in 1998.

This delightful studio serves her well — sunlight streams through the ample windows. Beeswax, paints, brushes, scrapers, wooden panels — the well-used tools of her creative work are all in place, on hand for the multiple stages of her paintings. Completed works, including luminous landscapes, hang on the walls.
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New management at Weston Playhouse

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Staff Report
WESTON — The Weston Playhouse Theatre Company has appointed Lesley Koenig as its new managing director, effective June 2.

Koenig, who has been serving as the company’s interim managing director through an engagement with Arts Consulting Group (ACG), has instituted a new departmental budgeting model, increased the company’s use of social media, and laid the groundwork for new systems in accounting, marketing and development.

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People say shooter was a kind, giving man

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By Darren Marcy
Staff Writer

CASTLETON — People who know Stephen F. Pelletier, the Castleton man charged with first-degree murder for the death of Michael Wisell, say they are shocked and described Pelletier as a kind, friendly and good-natured family man.

The person who most likely knows Pelletier best, his brother, David Pelletier, said his phone had been ringing all day Wednesday.
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Police: Domestic issues caused Castleton slaying

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By Brent Curtis
Staff Writer

A Castleton man charged with killing his daughter’s boyfriend told police he acted in defense of his family after prolonged fighting under his roof created a “living hell.”

Stephen F. Pelletier pleaded innocent to first-degree murder during a brief arraignment in Rutland criminal court Wednesday afternoon. The maple sugar maker, who appeared in court in chains, waved to a handful of supporters before he was ordered jailed without bail.
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