Hardwick, News

Electric Dept. Hires Interim GM, Front Seat Coffee Loan Approved

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HARDWICK — Electric Department Commissioner Roger Prevot reported at the May 16 select board meeting that the department has hired a part-time interim manager, Scott Johnstone. Johnstone will split his time between Hardwick Electric and Morrisville Light and Water for a period of three months.

Prevot also reported that there are numerous linemen positions open. Understaffing has created a burden for the few that remain. HED has signed a three-month agreement with the Vermont Public Power Supply Authority, which is expected to help with the shortage of linemen.

The town will refinance Front Seat Coffee’s current economic development loan, adding an additional $41,000, for a total of $71,000.

Owner Tobin Porter-Brown proposed an expansion of the business into the space next door, newly vacated by Birdsong Beer and Wine, that closed.

courtesy photo
Hardwick’s Front Seat Coffee on Main St. received an increase to their economic development loan at the May 15 select board meeting. The business plans to expand into the space next door that was recently vacated by Birdsong Beer and Wine.

Front Seat Coffee survived the pandemic and has grown in the past five years, needing more room for kitchen equipment and additional seating. The expansion could double or triple their sales.

One-third of the business’ original 2019 economic development loan has been paid off. To move forward with the expansion however, Porter-Brown applied for another economic development loan or to refinance his existing loan.

When asked if the expansion would impact business hours, Porter Brown explained that would depend on the impact of labor and specific sales.

Porter-Brown also said he would like to begin by participating in First Friday events.

Pedestrian Bridge bids went out on May 15. The town manager’s office reported that they have received communication from bidders requesting more information. Town Manager David Upson planned to meet with interested bidders on May 31. It is hoped construction on the Pedestrian Bridge will be completed by the end of the calendar year, but sooner if possible.

Two properties owned by the town are currently for sale. One is on Carey Road and the other on Main Street. Board member Danny Hale said that the town needs to have a policy in place to outline the process if other town-owned properties will be for sale. The select board discussed using a real estate agent but were concerned with additional fees.

To help make as many people as possible aware of the sales, the board voted to post the properties for sale on the town’s website and in the News & Citizen. Bids will be accepted until June 6.

Upson reported that the 2025 reappraisal is beginning. Assessors from New England Municipal Consultants (NEMC) will be conducting the site visits and have sent out the first batch of letters to notify the community. The assessors will go by sections of town. Letters will continue to be sent out as they are ready to cover different parts of Hardwick.

It is recommended to call and schedule an appointment, as assessors may just show up otherwise. The phone number is listed in the letters.

Long-term recovery projects have been established, said Upson, adding that the projects will be managed by local officials, and not covered by FEMA. Upson noted that the town has been recently assigned its third FEMA representative.

Danny Hale asked about the bid for flood clean up and the removal of the properties that FEMA has purchased. Upson explained that he and Zoning Administrator Kristen Leahy were meeting with contractors at each of the locations on the following day.

All properties will be a part of the same bid, which will cover asbestos removal, demolition, seeding and mulching the property. Bids are due by the end of the month.

Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT) developments were discussed. The town has received a grant to purchase supplies for the trailheads that include signage, kiosks, trash and recycling receptacles. They have a general idea of where the items will be placed. Shari Cornish suggested that the LVRT committee and the Recreation Committee join the conversation at the next select board meeting.

In other business, the town attorney drafted an agreement for the Hardwick Farms bridge. Upson will soon present this to the Laggis farm.

Road Foreman Tom Fadden reported that the road crew replaced culverts on Tucker Brook Road after a washout. The crew will continue to work on Tucker Brook next week to finish the project. Fadden also said that they have and will continue to paint crosswalks and catch up on mowing and grading, weather permitting.

Raymonda Parchment is a NVU-Castleton student working with the Hardwick Gazette as an intern.

Raymonda Parchment

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