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2014 Fund Raiser!!!!

12 Jun

2014 Fund Raiser!!!!

2014 Fundraiser and Steve Fobert Concert

11 Jun
Dear Friends,

The Wilmington Fund VT continues its rebuilding efforts! Currently nearly a dozen historic village structures are under construction to rehabilitate after the devastating effects of Tropical Storm Irene.

On Saturday, July 26, Steve Forbert will give a special benefit performance at Memorial Hall in downtown Wilmington to help raise funds. Please plan a summer weekend up here and enjoy dinner and a great concert. Dinner with the artist starts at 5:00pm at Tamara & Dan Kilmurray’s home in Wilmington. Then make your way back to Memorial Hall for the 8pm concert.

Link for ticket purchase: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/steve-forbert-concert-tickets-6964022579

This event is the first weekend of the Deerfield Valley’s BlueberryFestival. (http://www.vermontblueberry.com)

The Wilmington Fund VT, a non­profit corporation, was established by second homeowners, local citizens and business owners in response to the devastation from Tropical Storm Irene.

We recognize the town’s impact on the local economy and for the last two years have made good on our pledge to help. Please join us on the 26th and see for yourself!

Thank you for your support,

Daniel and Tamara Kilmurray

Winter 2013 • SO Vermont Arts & Living

7 Feb

Wilmington Strong

Posted on Sep 27, 2013

By Katherine P. Cox

Out of the Rubble: Wilmington Two Years After Irene

Wilmington

Raging waters tear through Wilmington as Tropical Storm Irene moves through the region in 2011

Unless you were there, just by looking around, it’s hard to fathom that barely two years ago the heavy rains of Tropical Storm Irene unleashed devastating floodwaters that raged through Wilmington, ravaged downtown, and left no business untouched.

But many were there. That’s why, today, the town is just a bit more cheered by its abundant flowers and plants delighting from planters and window boxes throughout town, and why merchants so warmly welcome visitors into the storefronts they’ve rescued — and revitalized — from the ruins.

Wilmington6

Two years later, Wilmington continues to rebuild itself and its community economy with the help of efforts like the Wilmington Fund VT.

Their stories, and the efforts of so many affected on Aug. 28, 2011, are a testament to the resiliency of the townspeople and the fierce community spirit that some say have made Wilmington even better than before.

The Fashion Plate consignment shop cleans out after the flood

The Fashion Plate consignment shop cleans out after the flood

Long before the ground was dry the volunteers came by the hundreds, said Al Wurzberger, who owns the 1836 Country Store on West Main Street. His wife, Sue, owns the historic Norton House, a quilt and fabric store, next door.

The floodwaters had reached halfway up the buildings. “Everything was lost; half a million dollars lost, at least,” Al Wurzberger said.

“They [the volunteers] were tall, they were short, they were skinny, they were fat, they were young, they were old. They were black, they were white, they were Catholics, agnostics, and atheists. And they argued and debated with each other as they gutted and rebuilt the Norton House and the 1836 Country Store. If it weren’t for the volunteers, none of us could have survived,” he said.

Dot's Restaurant, damage severely in the flood, but expected to reopen this fall.

Dot’s Restaurant, damage severely in the flood, but expected to reopen this fall.

Ann Manwaring, a Wilmington resident of more than 40 years and a state representative for the past seven, agrees: “The volunteers that showed up were just extraordinary. They started showing up in droves.”

Everyone recalls how the Chamber of Commerce set to work matching volunteers with the many businesses that needed help digging out, cleaning off, stacking debris, rescuing what they could. Livelihoods were washed out; traditions flooded out.

Streep

Meryl Streep and Tamara Kilmurray. Photo copyright Carolyn L. Bates.

Every business was affected. Some 40 businesses and 100 employees were out of jobs; some 20 apartments were damaged, leaving many homeless, Manwaring says.

Beyond the army of volunteers, Manwaring lauds Mount Snow, which provided temporary housing to some of those left homeless following the flood.

As vital as that army of volunteers was to the cleanup effort, Dan and Tamara Kilmurray, who have owned a home in Wilmington for 10 years, and have vacationed in the area for 30, knew more had to be done — that more aid would be needed in the months and years to come.

“The damage was extreme,” Dan Killmurray said.

Many people had no flood insurance, and Irene had come on the heels of the recession, compounding the misery for many facing downtown’s already-boarded-up buildings. And so the Kilmurrays felt the town needed economic stimulus.

Wilmington Fund VT goes to work

Organizing a board of directors, they established the Wilmington Fund VT (www.thewilmingtonfundvt.org), aimed at supporting Wilmington’s recovery by raising funds to help repair damaged buildings and to promote commerce and business.

Wilmington5Their tools: grants, low interest loans, real estate ownership, other investment opportunities, and partnerships with like-minded entities. Their goal was to promote job growth and economic opportunity for area residents.

Phone calls, letters and fund-raisers — including a Joan Osborne concert and a private dinner with Meryl Streep — have enough capital to allow the Wilmington Fund VT to provide grants, help attract new businesses to town, and help build a new municipal parking lot.

One fund-raiser last summer was dedicated to help Dot’s Restaurant recover. This popular gathering place had been severely damaged. Not to worry: an outdoor barbecue and concert netted $26,000, Kilmurray said.

“We’re doing a lot of work to help support the economic vitality of Wilmington,” Kilmurray said, “but there are still a lot of unoccupied buildings. Our biggest problem: we don’t have enough people looking for grants that want to start a business in the village.”

According to Kilmurray, the grant process requires that applicants have a business plan, a well-thought-out proposal, and startup capital.

Although the Kilmurrays were the driving force behind the Wilmington Fund VT, they’re quick to note it’s not just a one-, two-, or nine-person effort, considering the number of people serving on the Fund’s board:

Many have donated time and money, they said, and the organization is all volunteer.

“Every penny of donated money has gone into the fund to build the economy of the town. We do all the events ourselves and review the grants ourselves,” Tamara Kilmurray said.

Julie Lineberger, who, with her husband, architect Joseph Cincotta of the architecture firm LineSync in Wilmington, serves on the board of directors of the Wilmington Fund VT.

She attributes part of the success of high-end fund-raisers such as the Streep dinner to the fact that “the community is larger than we thought it was, and the second-home owners really stepped up,” she said, noting that the appeal came from “a combination of Meryl Streep and helping our community heal.”

Lineberger points to a renewed Main Street, and names all of its success stories, businesses returned and just starting out: Bartleby’s Books, the 1836 Country Store, the Norton House, the Incurable Romantic, Jim McGrath Gallery, Chapman’s In-Town Antiques, and more.

“It’s a start,” says Lineberger, who envisions an economically viable historic district that provides full-time jobs year-round. “Through the Wilmington Fund [VT], we hope to inspire others to establish or re-establish business in the village. It takes vision, inspiration, a lot of hard work, and some capital. We need someone who’s willing to take a chance,” she says.

On her wish list: a bike shop, a camera shop, and a bakery.

Like many others in Wilmington, she describes herself as hopeful: “I see people trying. I see people working together.”

Beyond Imagination imagines

Melinda Coombs is one of the beneficiaries of the Wilmington Fund VT. She opened Beyond Imagination, a clothing and home goods store on North Main Street last September, partially at the urging of the Kilmurrays and others who felt a boutique was needed in town after Manyu’s, a clothing store here, was wiped out by the flood.

Coombs had worked at Manyu’s, and has a personal stake in the vitality of Wilmington. She’s from Wilmington, as are her grandparents, parents, child, and grandchildren.

“It was not an option to just move,” she says.

Coombs says she was encouraged by other businesses that had been damaged and had come back:

“It made me realize that the more businesses there are, the better it is for everybody. And it may be an incentive for others.”

The support from the Wilmington Fund VT was important, she said. “I feel confident that eventually the town will be better than before. There’s a new energy in town.”

In-Town Antiques sets up shop

Len and Diane Chapman, longtime residents of Wilmington, also decided to invest in downtown, with partners David and Joann Manning and assistance from the Wilmington Fund VT.

“We had an antiques shop in a big barn [outside of town] and we were only doing weekends. The four of us got together and said, ‘Why don’t we open something in town?’” Len Chapman recalls.

Chapman’s In-Town Antiques opened on West Main Street last October. In addition to providing a more visible location for their antiques business, the Chapmans said they wanted to help the town.

Len Chapman has lived in Wilmington for 40 years.

“The town has been good to me. I wanted to return the favor. I have great friends and neighbors here,” he said.

Moving downtown has been worth the investment, he reports, and it has helped the antiques shop that’s still in the barn a few miles away.

Rescuing Bartleby’s

Bartleby’s Books, like its neighbors on West Main Street, suffered heavy damage from the flood.

“Bartleby’s had about four feet of water flow through the main floor of the store,” said owner Lisa Sullivan. “We lost 90 percent of our inventory and all of our shelving. The building sustained damage to its electrical, plumbing, and mechanical systems, as well as windows, façade, and drywall.”

Some of her close friends, as well as customers and people they’d never met, showed up to pitch in with repairs to the building.

“So many people helped! We renovated with an eye for flood mitigation and reopened three months after the flood,” she explains.

And like her neighbors, she is optimistic about the future of the town.

Meanwhile, folks have come together to forge a path for the future in ways that they had not considered previously.

Wilmington Works

The town recently attained downtown designation status and formed a downtown organization named Wilmington Works, essentially a subcommittee of the Wilmington Fund VT and composed of 11 members representing downtown businesses, local government, and the Chamber of Commerce.

This new organization will help organize and drive activities critical to making downtown Wilmington a vibrant and vital place, Sullivan predicts.

Ann Coleman innovated — artfully

Artist Ann Coleman arguably was the most dramatically affected by the storm, and her plans for a new gallery may be among the most innovative — and symbolic — of the future of Wilmington.

In her art gallery on West Main Street, she showcased her own paintings and prints in addition to the work of other artists and artisans. She and her husband were finishing up renovations to the space when Irene hit.

When the rains stopped, she went downtown to see the damage. At the barricades downtown, a policewoman told her, “Prepare yourself. It’s not good.”

“I looked down and saw an empty hole where the gallery had been,” Coleman said. “I was expecting that I got flooded. I didn’t expect it would be gone.”

Ann Coleman Gallery was swept down the flooded Deerfield River, taking with it original paintings spanning 33 years of work, over 400 prints, and the works of the other artists.

Coleman set up temporary digs at various sites in the aftermath, and last February reopened her gallery in a storefront on North Main Street.

She’s contemplating building a new place where her previous gallery sat, of course. If the plans go through, the new building will float, too — it’s designed to — but it will float in place.

That’s thanks to Wilmington architect Joseph Cincotta, who’s designed a structure that works with floods, like a boat dock. The building is anchored on heavy metal piers, and when the waters rise the electricity snaps off, plumbing stops up, and the structure, untroubled, bobs.

’People came together…’

Fellow artist Jim McGrath watched the storm from his nearby apartment, and painted the rain and the water rising against the buildings: another kind of landscape.

He had recently closed his gallery, but had stored some 50 original paintings and his tools and paint brushes in the basement of the Parmalee and Howe building at the center of town.

The basement and first floor of the brick building were flooded, and McGrath lost all his work.

That said, what he talks about today is not loss, but praise for his fellow townspeople:

“People came together. Everyone came out of the woodwork to help. Everyone — locals and second-home owners — got on the same page. That was something to see.”

Today he has a gallery again, on West Main Street, and is among the many businesses along the street that are back in operation. He says he’s optimistic: Better things are in store for Wilmington.

“There’s a sense that with a couple of nudges in the right direction, we’ll have something going again,” he adds.

From Nantucket to Wilmington, with coffee

Things are already moving in that direction. Dot’s Restaurant has reopened; a sign on the historic Parmalee and Howe Building promises a new restaurant and bar; and a coffee shop — Folly Foods — has opened at 33 West Main St.

Peter Wallace, who owns Folly Foods with his wife, Kathleen, describes the place as a coffee bar, juice bar, and dairy bar.

Restaurateurs on Nantucket for more than 30 years, the Wallaces sold their restaurant on the island and have become year-round Wilmington residents.

Fresh-baked goods, ice cream and some retail food — such as local honey — are also offered at Folly’s Foods.

Wallace says he hopes to fill the void left when a former coffee shop closed after the storm.

“We’re really excited about it,” he said, explaining that he and his wife, like so many others, were inspired by the many stores that were damaged by the flood and have rebounded.

“We wanted to join the community and bring it back to life. We want to encourage the future of Wilmington by helping it become the vibrant, cool place that it is,” he said.

25 December 2013 • The Commons

7 Feb

Wilmington landmark finally reopens

After Irene’s devastation, Dot’s Restaurant returns to cheers of Deerfield Valley residents

Originally published in The Commons issue #234 (Wednesday, December 25, 2013). This story appeared on page A1.


By Olga Peters/The Commons

WILMINGTON—A dull sky the color of papier-mâché, and frigid air coat downtown Wilmington. Yet not even predictions of a foot of snow can quell the celebratory atmosphere inside the snug and renovated Dot’s Restaurant.

Dot’s, a Deerfield Valley landmark and popular breakfast joint famous for its chili, quietly reopened last week after an extensive two-year rebuilding necessitated by Tropical Storm Irene.

Irene launched the restaurant owned by Patty and John Reagan to dubious national stardom on Aug. 28, 2011. The storm’s rains turned the Deerfield River into a raging wall of water that flooded downtown Wilmington. Internet videos documented how water swamped the riverside restaurant to its rafters.

The building seemed a total loss, but the Reagans promised to rebuild.

Inside the new restaurant -— a structural mix of historic, new, and flood-proof — conversation swirls as customers and wait staff playfully call to each other.

“[Dot’s] is really kind of a bunker,” said Matthew Yakovleff as he eats breakfast.

Yakovleff, a contractor, spent about a year helping rehabilitate the restaurant. Multiple flood-proofing measures went into the building, including a higher foundation and steel reinforcements. He also provided much of the finishing work inside, such as the wainscoting.

According to Yakovleff, the building’s footprint is unchanged, though the layout is new. The kitchen now sits to the back. The entrance doors are wider, better to accommodate wheelchairs. Gone is the restroom view of the Deerfield River. The restrooms have switched from the river side of the building to the Ray Hill side.

Home fries and hard work

Angela Yakovleff has missed breakfasts at Dot’s.

“They have the best home fries,” she said.

She and her husband ate at Dot’s every weekend while their two children were growing up.

According to Matthew, the construction crew needed to preserve portions of the historic structure. Some of the historic building remaining includes the frame and portions of the foundation.

The building was “horrible” thanks to wear, tear, and Irene, he said. Workers dismantled the building to its frame. To preserve the frame, the crew cut it from the foundation and lifted it with a crane to the back parking lot.

Once on solid ground, the crew braced and stabilized the frame to get it square, plumb, and true, said Matthew. It sat for about three weeks while workers rebuilt the foundation.

According to Matthew, a part of the foundation is original. The construction workers rehabilitated the original stone foundation. They also raised the height of the foundation as part of flood-proofing measures.

With the frame back on its foundation, the real work started, he said with a smile.

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14 December 2103 – New York Times

14 Dec
Wilmington Journal

In Vermont, a Town That Would Not Let Its Diner Go

Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times:  John Reagan eying orders in the kitchen during the lunch rush.
By JANE GOTTLIEB

WILMINGTON, Vt. — In the months after the Deerfield River overtook their diner, Patty and John Reagan began to imagine letting it go after more than 30 years of greeting people for breakfast, saying good night after the dinner shift and hearing their stories during the many hours in between.

Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times: A waitress (Annabel Tobey) greeting a customer at Dot’s Restaurant.

“We once entertained the idea of not opening till 6:30 a.m. but knew our regulars would be here at 5:30 anyway,” Mrs. Reagan said recently, seated at a gleaming oak table in an empty Dot’s Restaurant. “They’d break in. It happened once, when we were late during an ice storm.”

Perched over the river at Wilmington’s only intersection, the building housing the diner has stood since 1832. It has often been the only place on this stretch of Main Street to buy a cup of coffee, and, in fact, is one of the few year-round stops along the quiet Green Mountains roadway that winds from Bennington to Brattleboro.

The Reagans are Dot’s owners, but everyone, it seems, has a claim. Patrons dissect local issues here; travelers count on it. Not long ago, a couple passing through on their second honeymoon were able to order the same Dot’s breakfast they had enjoyed on their first, 50 years earlier. Every Vermont governor since at least 1980 has appeared for a photo op at Dot’s, and Gourmet magazine once called the berry-berry pancakes a “national treasure.”

But Tropical Storm Irene taught the Reagans something new about Dot’s: that the joy of ownership carried the burden of keeping it going — no matter what. Patrons who would not put up with a later opening time certainly were not prepared to let it disappear, even if an insurance adjuster declared the building “finished.”

“We’d have other shop owners say, ‘We knew you were a draw for the town but didn’t realize how much of a draw. Is there any way you can rebuild?’ ” recalled Mr. Reagan, 60, who like many residents first came to the area to ski. “We had to say that basically there was nothing we could do. ‘Look at it, what would you do?’ It was really hard.”

Irene pummeled southern Vermont on Aug. 28, 2011. That Sunday morning, water rose eight feet in 15 minutes. The Reagans grabbed what they could, cut the power to the small gray saltbox and joined onlookers watching their buildings succumb. Dot’s was shoved off its foundation and walls toppled. Water even lifted all nine oak tables and deposited them at the front door. “They were still set, too, with all the silverware,” Mrs. Reagan said.

Dot’s was among 48 businesses along this classic New England streetscape that were flooded out. Two floated away; 32 have since reopened.

First, the Reagans adjusted to losing contact with customers they had seen every day for decades. Then, months of decisions began. With the flood insurance settlement they could afford to pay the mortgage and walk away, but not to rebuild. The diner was not only battered and saturated, but also out of compliance with every modern building code.

“We could have gotten other jobs,” said Mr. Reagan, who has worked in restaurants since age 14. “I wanted to bring a food truck here. We could use the property and earn an income and still be off all winter.”

But it was too costly for the Reagans to demolish Dot’s themselves. Then they were rejected for a buyout that would have paid them to demolish and leave. With no way to rebuild and no building to sell, Dot’s was done.

The couple stood outside the restaurant and sold off their supply of Dot’s T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts. They expected people would not ask too many questions. “People figured we were out of business and stopped by out of the goodness of their hearts,” Mr. Reagan said. “After all, how many T-shirts do you need?”

In fact, the town was just getting organized. Gretchen Havreluk, an economic development consultant, got the Preservation Trust of Vermont interested. The organization brought in engineers, pledged money and established a recovery fund.

Dan and Tamara Kilmurray, who own a second home here, started the Wilmington Fund Vermont to provide financing to bring businesses back. That organization was among many that sponsored fund drives for Dot’s. With generosity came hope.

“We wondered, ‘Why should someone donate to open a business? ” Mr. Reagan said. “We have certainly donated a lot to people in need. We never thought of ourselves as the people who need help.”

Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times:  Patty Reagan with customers.
Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times:  A photo the Reagans took while the flooding raged in August 2011 shows how high the waters reached. Dot’s was left a ruin.
Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times:  John Reagan, the owner, came out of the kitchen to see customers on the day Dot’s reopened.
The New York Times:  On a road that meanders from Bennington to Brattleboro.

Gov. Peter Shumlin was on hand in March to announce that Dot’s would be back. But the work had just begun. Estimates seemed to rise $100,000 every time an engineer looked at the project.

To qualify for historic grants, the original walls, twisted in the storm, needed to be straightened so they could be contained within new walls. To meet flood-resistant standards, the restaurant had to become what Mrs. Reagan called a “diner on Botox,” with a concrete basement and retaining walls befitting a bunker.

“They once wrote me a thank-you note for the help and it made me sick because I wondered ‘Did I put them in this situation?’ Ms. Havreluk said. “I worked with them to rebuild, but I was earning a paycheck. I’m not the one who has to pay their debt back.”

Rebuilding meant having a crane hoist Dot’s skyward and set it down after a foundation was built. It meant hearing people grumble that Dot’s did not warrant the fanfare and expense.

Even as the next chapter of Dot’s was being written, Mr. Reagan was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. His condition required radiation five days a week 40 miles away. But once again Dot’s prevailed. It was too late to stop. The diner helped the couple, who met there when Patty was a waitress. “It kept us busy and focused on what we had to do,” said Mrs. Reagan, 52.

Dot’s reopened on Thursday, a $1 million diner. Fund-raising generated $200,000, with the project receiving $90,000 in tax credits. There was also free tile work and carpentry, the contractor who simply came by one evening and stripped the damaged siding and the stores that gave discounts without being asked. Donated materials and labor saved $300,000.

Even so, they reopened $400,000 in debt, more than berry-berry pancakes will ever generate.

“It will never be worth the money. But in a way this place is not really ours,” said Mrs. Reagan, whose family has been in the region for generations. “It’s a gift to the community. If we didn’t rebuild it would never be again.”

A version of this article appears in print on December 14, 2013, on page A11 of the New York edition with the headline: The Town That Would Not Let Its Diner Go.

Brattleboro Reformer Article: Wilmington hailed for Irene recovery efforts

31 Aug

By CHRIS MAYS / Reformer Staff

Posted:   08/30/2013 09:32:28 PM EDT | Updated:   about 3 hours ago

 

This aerial photograph taken following the historic flooding of August 2011, shows downtown Wilmington, looking south down the Deerfield River. (Austin Danforth/Bennington Banner)

WILMINGTON — As you look down Main Street, activity is steadily building after two years since Tropical Storm Irene ruined many of the downtown businesses.

On Aug. 28, at Gov. Peter Shumlin’s press conference at Memorial Hall on the day of the second anniversary, people gathered to hear the message that Vermonters had worked together to rebuild the communities that had been destroyed by Irene.

“It was a good way to close the two-year celebration because he was here right after the flood and here again last year, when they met at Dot’s to do the reconstruction of Dot’s,” said Wilmington Town Manager Scott Murphy. “This is a closure issue for the state.”

One resident had remarked that the day was similar to the day after the storm: sunny with blue skies and a comfortable breeze. Together, the community is still picking up the pieces.

Employees of Dot’s Restaurant, which is scheduled to open next month, handed out free bowls of their famous homemade chili. They had set up a table outside their building, which had been destroyed by Irene.

A special fundraising effort called Rebuild Dot’s had assisted with costs associated with reopening its location in Wilmington.

The Wilmington Fund Vermont was established by Dan and Tamara Kilmurray, two long-time second homeowners. They have worked with residents whose efforts have assisted in the funding of several projects, including the re-paving of a village parking lot.

The Friends of the Valley is a group made up of second homeowners who wanted to support recovery efforts after Irene. The Wilmington Flood Relief was another charity created to aid the town during the days following the storm. Both were named during the press conference

While places like Bartleby’s Bookstore and Wahoo’s Eatery had reopened almost immediately with monumental recovery efforts, there are still empty storefronts that Shumlin had noted.

Since Wilmington’s village was approved for the Vermont Downtown Program, the organization Wilmington Works was created. It has worked with other groups to attempt to make use of those buildings and accomplish other goals towards restoring vibrancy.

“One of the best outcomes of Irene has been the ability of people to work together and solve problems today,” said Wilmington Works Board Co-Chair John Gannon. “We can really move this town forward in the next couple of months, next couple of years. We look forward to making the town of Wilmington a better place.”

Fellow Co-Chair Lisa Sullivan spoke of how the community was back to work putting itself back together. She mentioned the long term recovery efforts that several residents are enthusiastic about.

“I wish I could say the economy has recovered but there is still a lot of work,” Sullivan said. “There are still too many empty buildings, which is the primary focus of recovery (now).”

State Treasurer Beth Pearce briefly mentioned the story of how Wilmington Town Clerk Susie Haughwout saved important records of the town. Her car was destroyed on Main Street due to the flooding that occurred after she rescued the documents.

Haughwout’s most recent efforts have been focused on making all the town records digital to prevent the risk of destruction.

“This is a success story that came out of Wilmington,” Pearce said of the town’s recovery efforts.

Murphy told the Reformer that there were still at least a couple of people waiting on buyout programs to be completed. But as far as a municipality, the Whites Road Bridge is the final recovery project for the town. It is slated to be done by the end of September.

“We’re happy to be done with Irene and looking forward to moving forward,” he said.

State Sen. Bob Hartwell weighed in on the efforts as well. He has lived in Wilmington since the middle of April.

“Based on what we see, I think we’re going to go a very far way,” Hartwell concluded.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.

The Wilmington Fund VT • Video Link

16 Aug

Please check out the video produced for The Wilmington Fund VT!

On August 28, 2011, Tropical Storm Irene caused flooding the tore through Wilmington, Vermont. The devastation was staggering. But Wilmington’s community sprung into action. Before long, the Wilmington Fund VT was born. Its mission: support recovery and future development in the historic downtown. Watch the video to learn more about Wilmington Fund VT’s efforts and its plans for the future.

Thanks to Ann Manwaring for shepherding this project through to completion.  Video production by Mondo Mediaworks          mondomediaworks.com

Thank you!

Deerfield Valley News Article re: 20 July 2013!!

28 Jul
Fundraising event a big success for Wilmington group
by Mike Eldred
3 days ago | 1515 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rep. Peter Welch, actress Meryl Streep, Gov. Peter Shumlin, and Hermitage owner Jim Barnes were all smiles during a fundraiser dinner for the Wilmington Fund VT at the Hermitage on Saturday evening.

Rep. Peter Welch, actress Meryl Streep, Gov. Peter Shumlin, and Hermitage owner Jim Barnes were all smiles during a fundraiser dinner for the Wilmington Fund VT at the Hermitage on Saturday evening.

WILMINGTON- Members of the Wilmington Fund VT are celebrating the success of last Saturday evening’s fundraising events.

The evening kicked off at the Hermitage Club with an exclusive dinner with special guest, actress Meryl Streep. Also in attendance were Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin and Congressman Peter Welch. The fundraising dinner was sold out, with 115 guests paying between $1,000 and $5,000 per plate. Donors paying for the $2,500 and $5,000 plates also had their photos taken with Streep.

Streep was at the event at the behest of her friend, Wilmington Fund VT founder and president Dan Kilmurray. Kilmurray says he has known Streep’s family for years. “Her brother and I met and became dear friends when I was about 18,” Kilmurray said. “I met her when she graduated from Vassar. When I was in the process of launching this fundraising event, I asked her if she would help.”

During an after-dinner chat hosted by Kilmurray’s wife and co-founder of Wilmington Fund VT, Tamara Kilmurray, Streep said that one of the reasons she was willing to help the Wilmington Fund was because she was familiar with the town. After she left Dartmouth College for Vassar, she said, she continued to travel between the two colleges on trips to visit her boyfriend at Dartmouth. “Wilmington was my halfway point,” she said. “I used to stop at a little ice cream place on Route 9 that isn’t there anymore (Gene’s KreeMee).”

Streep also found an unexpected connection to the area. Rep. Ann Manwaring told her that the bottles of Vermont maple syrup on the tables were donated by local business owner Ed Metcalfe, who had attended elementary school with Streep. “Oh, little Eddie Metcalfe?” Streep said. “Is he here?” But Metcalfe wasn’t in attendance.

In a brief address to donors, Rep. Peter Welch recalled the devastation he saw in Wilmington on his first visit after Tropical Storm Irene. “I remember talking to Steve Butler at North Star Bowl, where he showed me the mud line on the wall that marked the high point of the flood.”

Shumlin also recalled his first visit to the town, just hours after flood waters receded, when he flew in by helicopter with Gen. Michael Dubie. At that time, valley towns were still virtually cut off from the rest of the state because all of the major routes had been washed out.

In thanking those who attended the dinner, Kilmurray remarked that Wilmington has made a lot of progress in its recovery from the flood. He introduced John and Patty Reagan, who are nearing completion of an extensive rebuild of their downtown landmark, Dot’s Restaurant. Kilmurray also introduced Marsha and Barry Reardon, who donated the walking bridge in Wilmington Village, which ties the new village trail to a riverside trail that will terminate at the Fairview Avenue picnic area.

The dinner was followed by an outdoor concert by local musician Colby Dix and headliner Joan Osborne. Kilmurray said the concert attracted another 175 donors, who paid $100 per ticket.

Although the fund hasn’t released any figures from the fundraiser, Kilmurray and other board members say they’re “very pleased” with the success of the evening. “We were blessed with the weather,” said Kilmurray. “Everything went perfectly. We had a lot riding on this, and it was important to meet our goals and financial commitments. It turned out to be very successful.” Kilmurray credited Hermitage innkeeper Steve O’Hern and event manager Rebecca Lewis for much of the evening’s success. “It would have been impossible to put on that event without them.”

Kilmurray says it was time for a fundraiser for which the proceeds hadn’t been earmarked for a specific project. When he and his wife started the fund, the initial fundraising was done through a letter he sent out to friends, asking for their help in supporting the town that had just been devastated by flooding. A second fundraiser, a barbecue, raised money specifically to keep supporting Dot’s Restaurant.

Although Kilmurray says the event might have yielded more donations if it had been held in Greenwich, CT, he said it was important to have the event in Vermont, not only to bring people into the area, but also to make the event accessible to people in the valley. Although the cost of donations to the dinner might have been out of the question for many local residents, the concert was priced so that locals could also attend – and there were many more local faces in the crowd at the concert.

“I really wanted this to happen in Vermont,” Kilmurray says. “I wanted people in the area to be able to come and enjoy the concert, to be able to come and have a good evening. I wanted it to be a rallying cry for the town; for everyone who has been through so much.”

But Kilmurray says he realizes that not everyone in the valley could afford to go to one of the events.

In addition to physical recovery work, the fund also strongly supports businesses and general economic development. To that end, the fund has contributed to the creation of the municipal parking lot on West Main Street, the Moving Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, and Wilmington Works, the nonprofit organization created as part of the Wilmington Downtown Designation program.

Although flood cleanup and the town’s physical recovery may be well underway, Kilmurray says there’s still a lot for the fund to do – which includes getting businesses into empty buildings. “There are still a lot of essential services that don’t exist – there’s no coffee shop, no bakery. There’s a ton of work to be done, and our future is to get the essential services back into the village. It would be nice to declare victory, but we’re just a third of the way there – a year and a half into a five-year project.”

Board member Julie Lineberger says the fund is also seeking business owners, and potential business owners, to work with. She says grant requests have to meet the fund’s mission, the long-term economic viability of the village. Lineberger says one of the goals is to find businesses to reoccupy empty commercial spaces in downtown buildings. “If anyone is interested in opening a business in one of those buildings, we can offer financial assistance,” Lineberger said. “All people need to do is send us a grant request letting us know what the shortfall of money is, along with their business plan. We don’t offer full funding, but we can offer supplemental funding.”

For more information about the Wilmington Fund VT visit their website at http://www.thewilmingtonfundvt.org.

Read more: Deerfield Valley News – Fundraising event a big success for Wilmington group

Thank You!!! 20 July 13 Fundraiser THANK YOU!

25 Jul

Meryl & Tamara • Photo by Carolyn Bates

Meryl Streep & Tamara Kilmurray • Photo by Carolyn Bates

The Wilmington Fund VT extends its sincere appreciation to its generous supporters, state and local leaders, the staff at The Hermitage Inn and Meryl Streep for contributing to what we thought was a very special night in the Deerfield Valley.

The event earlier this month was our most ambitious fundraiser and so many people rose to the occasion.  Money raised that night through a fantastic dinner, for which gracious Oscar-winning Streep served as hostess; an energetic concert by opener Colby Dix and headliner Joan Osborne; and a silent auction will now be reinvested in Wilmington as it continues to recover from the damage left by Tropical Storm Irene and grow into a more vibrant, diverse economy and community.

The presence of Gov. Peter Shumlin and Rep. Peter Welch underscored the importance of this period of redevelopment here – and the opportunities that could come from it. We thank them for coming.We also thank all of the attendees for their commitment to the town of Wilmington.

The Hermitage staff, especially Rebecca Lewis and Steve O’Hearn, went above and beyond to make sure guests had a good time, and Barry Weisblatt from Whiteleaf Productions helped produce a top-notch show.

Wilmington is “where amazing happens.”

The board of directors The Wilmington Fund VT
Daniel and Tamara Kilmurray
Samantha Critchell
Deborah Emmett-Pike
Robert Fisher
John Gannon
Bruce Mullen
Julie Lineberger
Ann Manwaring

18 July 2013 Deerfield Valley News

18 Jul
Star power will be on display at Saturday fundraiser and concert
by Jack Deming
2 hours ago | 94 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Joan Osborne

Joan Osborne

WILMIGTON- The Wilmington Fund VT was created after Tropical Storm Irene to promote and raise funds for the economic vitality and recovery of Wilmington. This Saturday, the fund is calling in some star power to help, as seven-time Grammy-award nominee Joan Osborne is slated to perform at the Hermitage Inn.

Osborne may be most famous for her multiplatinum 1995 hit “One of Us,” but her career has spanned multiple decades and genres from blues to country, and soul to pop. She has played with Motown sidemen and post-Grateful Dead reunion bands, but Saturday night she will play to a tented audience of 300, with all proceeds going to the Wilmington Fund VT.

According to Wilmington Fund VT secretary Julie Lineberger, Osborne’s performance is sure to be high-energy. “I am beyond happy,” said Lineberger. “It’s such an intimate setting and it’s us supporting ourselves, and the valley supporting each other. We’re going to have a blast.”

The Wilmington Fund VT reached out to Osborne’s promoter to find out if she was interested in performing, and the date chosen just so happened to work with Osborne’s schedule. Local musician Colby Dix will kick off the evening with an acoustic set, starting at 8 pm, which will feature songs off his new album. Dix is excited to be what he called “another layer to an exciting event. I’m a big fan of Joan Osborne’s because she stayed true to herself through so many career passages and styles of music. I’m quite excited to be opening for her.”

Last year the Wilmington Fund VT hosted Aztec Two-Step as part of a similar concert fundraiser for rebuilding Dot’s Restaurant, one of nine businesses Lineberger says the fund has helped rebuild or open since Irene. This year, they helped to fund the Moving Wall, Wilmington Works (Downtown Designation), and the Independent Television and Film Festival coming to Wilmington and Dover in September, as well as a parking lot in downtown Wilmington.

“The Wilmington Fund VT is great because we are a private organization,” said Lineberger. “We can move quickly and nimbly to provide financial assistance unlike the bureaucracy of a state or federally funded program.”

The next step for the Wilmington Fund VT will be to focus its efforts on filling more unoccupied buildings in the downtown, while continuing to help the existing ones. Lineberger says Wilmington Fund VT may focus its efforts on Wilmington, but that’s because it is the hub of the valley. “We feel it is vital not just for Wilmington but for the valley to have a vibrant historic district in the town of Wilmington,” said Lineberger.

Tickets for Joan Osborne live at the Hermitage Inn are $100 and can be purchased at TheWilmingtonFundVT.EventBrite.com. Complimentary beer and wine are included with purchase of a ticket.

Read more: Deerfield Valley News – Star power will be on display at Saturday fundraiser and concert

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