BARRE — The notice was short, but the response — at least in Barre — was rapid when officials in New Jersey asked if Vermont could send a couple dozen staffed ambulances their way to help with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
The answer from Chief Tim Bombardier in Barre was an unequivocal “yes” Tuesday, which explains why one of the city’s four-wheel-drive ambulances departed for the Garden State with Lt. Jeff Cochran and firefighter Billy Wade on board.
Cochran, an advanced emergency medical technician, and Wade, one of the local department’s five paramedics, are part of a Vermont-based ambulance strike team (with seven ambulances in all) that was deployed to New Jersey for a four-day tour that started Wednesday.
Both Cochran and Wade are certified to handle hazardous materials and in urban search and rescue, though we’re told their primary function will be to provide some relief to emergency crews that have had their hands full since Sandy roared ashore last week.
City Manager Steve Mackenzie says some reimbursement will be available for the service but that it wasn’t what drove the decision to provide help.
“The chief and I felt that this is the kind of mutual aid we need to participate in,” Mackenzie says, noting it wasn’t that long ago (just last year, in fact) that Barre was a federal disaster area.
BARRE — Now that all the heavy machinery is finally out of the way, Barre has an extremely stroll-able downtown, and it is starting to get reasonably regular workouts.
There is one planned for later today, and this one is more of a mass celebration of the street reconstruction project that sure was a long time coming, but seems to have been worth the wait.
The sidewalks are new, the street lights are new, and so are the benches, wastebaskets and chain-linked granite bollards.
It really has become a street worth walking on, which is why folks are encouraged to swing by City Hall Park at 5:30 p.m. today to go for a walk in one big happy-to-be-in-downtown-Barre group.
That’s what Claire Duke had in mind when the Barre Rotarian suggested a brief North Main Street celebration that folks of all ages and all walks of life are encouraged to join.
“We want a wave of people to go down through our Main Street as a way of celebrating it,” says Duke.
Meanwhile, Duke and other members of the Barre Rotary Club started what they say will be a weekly walk last Thursday at 8:30 p.m. We (at least one of us) joined them for last week’s inaugural walk, and here is what we learned:
Duke doesn’t walk all that fast, so if a slow stroll is your speed, have we got a walking partner for you.
Bill Noyes and Dick Shadroui favor a somewhat brisker pace, and Karl Rinker has forgotten more about downtown Barre than most folks will ever know. Walking down North Main Street with Rinker is like taking a trip down memory lane, though if you weren’t born and raised in Barre you’ll have to take his word for who ran what business where in the 1950s and ’60s.
Due to this afternoon’s walk, Rotarians will take a break tonight but will meet behind City Hall next Thursday at 8:30 p.m., according to Duke, who says you don’t have to be a club member to join them.
“The more the merrier,” she says, noting members of the Kiwanis Club are thinking about walking after their Monday night meetings and the Lions Club and American Legion Post 10 may get in on the act.
It really is a nice walk, and if you’re in it for the exercise, it’s a half mile (give or take a few feet) from City Hall Park to the beltline and a half mile back.
BARRE — While folks are rediscovering the joy of walking downtown, Barre’s new-look North Main Street will host its first parade in more than a year Friday.
Well, because Veterans Day falls on Sunday this year. Forced to choose between commemorating the holiday a little early or a little late, the Barre Area Veterans Group decided not to wait.
Parade participants, including local veterans, members of the J-ROTC program at Spaulding High School, the Spaulding band and bands from the elementary schools in Barre and Barre Town will assemble outside the Barre Municipal Auditorium starting at 10 a.m. We’re told that “unless it’s wicked cold” they will head down Seminary Hill to North Main Street at 10:30 a.m. The parade will end at City Hall Park, where a brief ceremony will be held at the “Youth Triumphant” memorial, which (like Main Street) recently received a fairly impressive makeover.
In the event of inclement weather or if it really is “wicked cold,” the parade and ceremony will be held indoors at the auditorium.
BARRE — Organizers of Granite City Grocery were recruiting potential members and passing out information outside the Barre Municipal Auditorium on Tuesday morning.
We’re told they collected several pledges before breaking for lunch — leaving the table with their banner, brochures and a sign-up sheet outside the auditorium.
Leaving the table was easy. Getting it back was harder, after a propane leak on nearby Bugbee Avenue prompted emergency personnel to close Seminary Hill and forced City Clerk Carol Dawes to move the city’s polling place from the auditorium to the Old Labor Hall.
The table promoting Granite City Grocery was the last thing on most folks’ minds as they took steps to swiftly move the polls from Seminary Hill to Granite Street.
Recovering the table was a bit tricky, but Hollie Friot tells us she pulled it off with two toddlers and an infant in tow and some help from Emily Kaminsky, Kaminsky’s husband, Matt, and their young sons, Leo and Jedd.
Friot arrived first, parking on Merchant Street and cutting across the parking lot with her daughters, Amelia, 3, and Olivia, 8 months, and 2-year-old Jordan Blondin, whom she cares for during the day.
“It was an adventure,” says Friot, who notes the two toddlers especially enjoyed kicking their way through fallen foliage.
“They had a great time,” she says.
Seminary Hill reopened while Friot was waiting for team Kaminsky to arrive, and she says she spent several minutes directing confused voters to the Old Labor Hall.
“I was just doing my civic duty,” she says.
With the help of the Kaminskys, Friot says, she was able to cart the table and its contents back to her parked vehicle on Merchant Street and head for home.
Warming the heart
The chill in the air this week is a sign of what’s coming over the next few weeks. The Times Argus is fortunate to have some wonderful friends in the community. Until Thanksgiving, the newspaper is collecting hats, mittens and scarves as part of its “Give the Gift of Warmth” program, which was started last year after Tropical Storm Irene left many Vermont families vulnerable in the months leading up to winter.
So far this year, several kind souls have made donations to our giving tree. Of particular note, Ruth Fletcher, of Barre, dropped off nearly 20 hat-and-mitten sets that she knitted over the last six months while she recuperated from a broken leg.
Peggy Mullen, of Berlin, also dropped off a wonderful assortment of knitted goods, as did Sandra Fowler, of Plainfield, and Anne Buttimer, of Northfield. Several other patrons have anonymously dropped off items. We are indebted to you all.
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