This Week in History (11/25 - 12/2)

Bears were about to invade the valley 15 years ago.

10 years ago:
After sitting idle for five years, Haystack’s lifts were being readied for use once again. It had been only 45 days since Hermitage Inn owner Jim Barnes purchased the shuttered private ski resort from Greensprings and Kingswood developer Bob Foise. Barnes planned to open the ski area for the season, with the Hermitage Inn serving as the base lodge for the first year.
Less than two months after Tropical Storm Irene and its record flooding, Wilmington Selectboard members discussed moving the town’s emergency services out of the flood zone. The town’s police and fire department facilities had been inundated during the flood, and the departments hadn’t yet been able to return to their regular offices. One option the board identified as worthy of further study was a proposal to renovate the former town garage on Beaver Street as a combined police/fire facility. The board also discussed the construction of a new facility for the departments, but concluded it would be too expensive. The old town garage has since been demolished, and a new police/fire facility is currently under construction at the Beaver Street location.

15 years ago:
The Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce unveiled their first public arts fundraiser, “The Valley of the Bears,” which was modeled after Bennington’s successful “Moosefest.” The chamber was seeking to work with 25 local artists to create artworks out of molded fiberglass bears. Whitingham artist Ann Coleman was tapped to provide the prototype, a bear painted with a winter ski area scene.

20 years ago:
The town of Wilmington signed a contract to purchase almost four acres of land behind the former G.S. Precision building for $40,000. The land was purchased as the site of a proposed highway department garage. Although subsequent garage proposals were defeated, last year voters approved a bond for a garage on the site. Construction on the new garage is nearing completion.
Wilmington High School students took to the small screen on “The Valley Show,” a production of The Student Network.

25 years ago:
Local resident Tim McKay was a “spin doctor” for a number of Democratic candidates on the East Coast, including Elaine Marshall, a candidate for North Carolina Secretary of State. Marshall was up against a Republican neophyte with tremendous name recognition: NASCAR racer Richard Petty. With McKay’s media insight, Marshall was able to bridge the gap and win the race.
Lenny Williams, the head chef at the Saxton’s River Inn and former head chef at Elsa’s European Café in Dover, was back with his own restaurant, Lenny’s Good Food Café at the Mountain Park Complex.

30 years ago:
Dover Selectboard members discussed the status of the proposed Valley Trail and the federal transportation grant that would fund the project. According to the Dover Zoning Administrator, one property owner along the proposed route was “hostile” to the project, preventing the town from following a preferred route along the Deerfield River near Handle Road.

35 years ago:
Former Wilmington Fire Chief John “Barker” Willard recalled an incident in which two firefighters were feared dead after they unleashed a fireball when they opened a door to a basement room and introduced fresh oxygen to the fire burning there. Two other firefighters standing on the porch were blown right off their feet. Luckily, the two men inside the building were unharmed because they followed their training and knelt beside the door as they opened it. The blast melted the face shield on one of the men’s helmets.

40 years ago:
The Valley Skating Rink on Route 100 North in Wilmington was open for its second season. The rink, built by George Schneeberger and Dick Joyce, was cooled by pipes filled with glycol circulated by compressors that reduced the temperature of the glycol by as much as 10 degrees. Organizers hoped to encourage the creation of a youth hockey league and establish figure skating competitions.

45 years ago:
Toni and Bob Stroup, along with Jeanne and John Mulhall, opened Sister Kate’s, a Victorian-style restaurant and nightspot, in a former ski shop. The theme of the restaurant was intended to evoke the “gaslight” era. “Sister Kate” was hostess BiBi Weinstock, and the restaurant served three meals a day and snacks until midnight. Auditions for entertainment were said to have drawn talent from around the Northeast.

50 years ago:
The town managers of Wilmington and Dover were discussing the possibility of a regional police force with members of the two towns’ planning commissions and selectboards. Wilmington Town Manager John Plonski said he believed the consolidation was an inevitability. Dover Town Manager Alden Rollins didn’t disagree, but he wasn’t optimistic. “If two towns can’t get together on something as simple as a common landfill, I’m sure it’s impossible to do a reasonable job on something as complicated as a regional police force.”

The Deerfield Valley News

797 VT Route 100 North
Wilmington, VT 05363

Phone: 802-464-3388
Fax: 802-464-7255

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