This Week in History (8/11/22 - 8/18/22)
10 years ago:
The Deerfield Valley Farmers’ Day Fair committee feared their 95th annual fair could be their last without a fresh influx of volunteers. Organizers said many longtime volunteers had retired, and they had difficulty getting a quorum – just seven committee members – at their planning meetings.
Readsboro Selectboard members balked at a chamber of commerce request to extend the Route 100 Scenic Byway through the town. Board members suggested the designation could be “used as a legal weapon” against the town’s interests, perhaps preventing the construction of wind turbines on land in Readsboro. A planned expansion of the Searsburg wind site into Readsboro promised to contribute more than $150,000 annually to Readsboro’s tax coffers.
15 years ago:
Local inn owner and Deerfield Valley Rescue volunteer Joseph Kruszewski purchased a former DVR ambulance and donated it to an organization in his native Poland. The ambulance was shipped to Gdansk, where it would be used at a national training center for emergency responders.
The newly revitalized Wilmington Trail Committee was ready to take on the creation of a large trail network in town, including the Hoot, Toot, and Whistle Trail and Riverwalk, as well as trails around Raponda, Lisle Hill, and other locations in town.
Pettee Memorial Library celebrated its 100th anniversary with the dedication of a reading room to longtime librarian Margaret Greene. An unexpected visitor turned up at the library’s celebration, Arthur Lewis Pettee, a descendent of the library’s original benefactor, Lyman F. Pettee.
20 years ago:
Wilmington School Facilities Committee members learned they would have to cut nearly $2.7 million from a school construction project approved a year earlier if they were to present a plan that would be exempt from Act 60’s “shark” pool. The plan, which included renovation and new construction at the middle high school, had been rejected less than a year earlier because the $9.3 million project would have cost local taxpayers nearly $18 million under Act 60. According to the state school construction specialist, the state would approve an Act 60 exemption of up to $6.6 million.
New England Power sold its lakes, dams, land, and power generating facilities to U.S. Generating Company for $1.59 billion. The purchase included NEPCO’s holdings in the Deerfield Valley. In the towns of Whitingham and Searsburg, NEPCO’s tax payments made up about half of the towns’ tax revenue at the time.
25 years ago:
Reflecting on the challenges he faced as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras in 1966, East Dover resident Miles Powers said, “My whole experience with the Peace Corps was that the people I met were much more open and accepting than I would have been.” Powers recalled that, at one point, volunteers were taken to a camp where migrant workers were living, given $10, and told to find someone to stay with. Although many of the volunteers couldn’t cope with it, Powers said he eventually found a house, introduced himself, and was immediately taken in. The family wouldn’t accept his payment, so he worked in the fields to pay for his lodging.
30 years ago:
A columnist quipped that Yuppies who move to Vermont are known as “Burpies,” broke, underpaid, rural professionals.
Mount Snow General Manager Chris Diamond offered Wilmington the use of equipment and labor for one week to landscape along Route 100. Wilmington Planning Commission members said the offer raised questions, such as where the trees and shrubs would come from, what easements might be necessary, what sections of road might be involved, and what limitations Mount Snow might have for use of their equipment and labor.
Wilmington entered into 10-year lease agreements with three property owners to create a municipal parking lot behind the Congregational church.
35 years ago:
Construction began on the fish ladder project at the Bellows Falls Hydroelectric Station. The $8.1 million project was part of a series of “fishways” built to help Atlantic salmon and American shad get to their spawning grounds in the Connecticut River and its tributaries. The 900-foot ladder in Bellows Falls has 66 pools, each about 6 feet deep.
40 years ago:
Killington was on the verge of purchasing Mount Snow from Wisconsin Mortgage Company. Local sources expected immediate changes in operations and quick improvements to the area. According to “informed sources,” there would also be an overhaul of top management, an increase in snowmaking facilities, new lifts, and a “new and dramatic” shift in marketing.
The Sherburne Corporation (Killington) and its president Preston Leete Smith were seen as the saviors of Mount Snow and the valley after Mount Snow suffered under years of mismanagement by companies and investors like Davos. “We ought to line up the cars, horns blowing and people waving, for a victory parade,” said one valley veteran. “Man, this is V-J Day around here.”
Until the Killington sale, Mount Snow founder Walt Schoenknecht had retained the title of Mount Snow President, even after the lenders who had taken over the resort had cut his pay to less than that of a cafeteria worker. Deerfield Valley News Editor Edward Pickett observed that, although the goldfish were missing from the tanks in Cuzzins, the fountain that made the mountain at Snow Lake didn’t spout anymore, and the frogs on the fourth floor vanished, Walt Schoenknecht’s influence on the mountain was still in evidence.
45 years ago:
Wilmington Fire Chief John Barker Willard was named Vermont Fire Chief of the Year at the annual state firefighters’ association convention in South Burlington. Willard, a Wilmington native, had been a member of the fire department for 12 years, and chief since 1969. Willard was credited with raising department morale, instituting the department’s junior firefighter program, implementing a paging system to alert firefighters, and helping to develop a Deerfield Valley mutual aid system.