Hardwick, News

Year in Review: It’s Been an Eventful Year in Hardwick

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January

In January, the Jeudevine Memorial Library held a retirement party for Lisa Sammet, who served as the library’s director for 22 years. Around 100 people attended the party, which was hosted by the Jeudevine’s board of trustees. A bookshelf quilt was given to Lisa by the board.

The Hardwick Conservation Commission (HCC) embarked on a town-wide project to learn more about the natural world in the community. The commission contracted with Matt Peters, a consulting ecologist and botanist from East Calais, to conduct Hardwick’s first Natural Resources Inventory (NRI). The inventory included information about habitat blocks, connectivity areas, wetlands and vernal pools, and deer wintering areas.

February

Thirty enthusiastic Hardwick area residents of all ages, individuals and families, streamed into the log cabin behind Hazen Union on a Saturday morning to be outfitted in mostly new Nordic ski equipment. They were receiving their first ski lesson of the year, and for many, the first lesson in their lives. The family-friendly beginner lessons were led by Emily Willems and Maxfield English, both teachers at Hazen Union and lifelong cross country skiing enthusiasts. Many participants decided to extend their equipment loan until Sunday afternoon so that they could return to the trails and practice their new skills over the weekend.

The Orleans Southwest Supervisory Union announced that Hazen Union student Haley Michaud had been named a 2023 Vermont Presidential Scholar for the Career Technical Education category; Craftsbury Academy student Matthew Califano was named a 2023 Vermont Presidential Scholar for the Art Category; and Matthew’s brother, Alexander Califano, earned an Arts Honorable Mention. All three students were recognized at a ceremony on Monday, January 30, at the Vermont State House.

March

Many towns in the area held their annual Town Meeting to discuss and vote on budgets and other town policy issues. Many towns continued to grapple with the fallout from the pandemic, including debates about whether to hold meetings in person, or as a hybrid between in person and remote, technology-enabled participation. The debate over which agenda items to decide via a floor discussion or Australian ballot continued, as well.

Ten years after it dissolved due to a lack of volunteers, the Hardwick Academy/Hazen Union (HA/HU) Alumni Association made a comeback. The reorganized group worked to organize the Alumni Reunion in June at the Ryder Brook Golf Course in Morrisville.

April

Board members of the East Hardwick Fire District (EHFD#1) are the caretakers of the water supply to East Hardwick Village. The board had meetings and hosted activities during the first quarter of 2023. In April, the board voted on by-laws for the district. The document may be the first set of by-laws written for the organization since it was established in 1912.

The newly-formed Lamoille Valley Rail Trail Committee (LVRT Committee) held its first official meeting in March.

Tracy Martin, Hardwick’s community development coordinator, whose job keeps her closely in touch with the state officials in charge of developing the trail, will serve as coordinator for the committee. Irene Nagle of East Hardwick, who works for the Northern Vermont Development Association (NVDA), will serve as secretary. Other members include Helen Beattie and Brendan Buckley, of East Hardwick.

May

The Greensboro Select Board held initial talks about a proposal to turn the town hall into affordable housing. The town will work with RuralEdge, an affordable housing agency in the Northeast Kingdom, to see if the proposal is viable.

The Buffalo Mountain Market celebrated its one-year anniversary of being in their new location on Mill Street. As one of the oldest food cooperatives in Vermont, the Buffalo Mountain Food Co-op has a long history in the village of Hardwick. Originally founded as a buying club, the co-op first opened a physical store in 1975 on Wolcott Street. After several years it outgrew that space and moved to the Jeudevine Mansion on North Main Street, renting a section of the main floor and barn space. The co-op experienced a growth spurt as a result of the move to a storefront on Main Street. Then, in March of 2022 the co-op bought the Village Market to support a growing customer base.

Senator Bernie Sanders held an hour-long Youth Town Hall Meeting at Hazen Union on May 24 to answer students’ questions. The Senator spoke about and answered questions on climate change, healthcare, not taking drugs, technology and bullying.

June

June is graduation season for our area schools. The Hazen Union High School Graduation was held on June 10, under a huge tent on Hudson Field.

Over 22 volunteers came together in June to refurbish the interior of the Greensboro Grange building in preparation for the annual summer Caspian Arts (CA) art exhibit. Working in morning and afternoon shifts over two days, volunteers from the greater Greensboro community as well as CA members (consisting of artists from towns including Greensboro, Hardwick, Wolcott, Craftsbury, Walden, and Eden) primed and painted as part of the refurbishment effort.

July

During July 10 and 11, up to nine inches of rain fell over a period of 48 hours. Flash floods and river flooding occurred across much of Vermont. The Hardwick area saw roads and bridges washed away, and buildings flooded. The motel just outside town was largely destroyed by waters from the Lamoille River.

Dave Morse, the Hardwick Gazette’s sports editor emeritus, was a consummate story teller. He chronicled the struggles, aspirations, and achievements of countless athletes and teams, spanning a world of sports. Brendan Buckley, a retired physician from East Hardwick, knew Dave Morse during the last 21 years of Morse’s life. After retiring from the Hardwick Area Health Center in 2019, Buckley started writing a book about Dave Morse. The book was released in July.

August

Water, water everywhere: in August, the Gazette’s pages were full of articles about flood damage repairs and longer-term flood recovery initiatives. After roads and bridges were repaired, loss inventories and insurance claims dominated the agenda of every select board in the area.

The Jeudevine Memorial Library extension project was not spared. The board of trustees reported that the construction company hit groundwater. After several attempts to pump the water out of the foundation of the new part of the building, it was decided that a re-design was needed.

September

Flood recovery, FEMA visits, loss inventories, and insurance claims continued to dominate the headlines throughout September.

The Hardwick Electric Department announced that it was assessing the damage to it Wolcott hydroelectric facility to determine what was needed to safely repair the plant.

October

To add some variety to the continuing torrent of stories about flood recovery, the Gazette ran a series of stories from the Hardwick Historical Society’s quarterly journal detailing major floods from the past, including the Flood of 1927, the biggest one on record.

In welcome non-flood news, the select board announced that it has made sufficient progress in planning and fund raising to project that construction on the pedestrian bridge would be completed during 2024.

November

Hardwick Electric Department reported that the extensive damage to its Wolcott hydroelectric plant was so extensive that the facility would be offline for an entire year.

The Gazette introduced the members of the board of directors of the nonprofit organization that would manage and operate the paper starting in 2024.

December

Legendary Hazen Union varsity boys’ basketball coach Aaron Hill stepped up to become the fourth Athletic Director at Hazen Union in less than two years in what has been a tumultuous and emotional time for the athletic program and the student body.

The officers of the Hardwick Academy/Hazen Union Alumni Association voted to move the Hardwick Academy bell from its home in Memorial Park to Hazen Union. The move is subject to approval from the association’s membership and was immediately met with resistance from some alumni who want the bell to remain where it is.

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