Archive | Wilmington RSS feed for this section

24 April 2013 • Brattleboro Reformer Article

28 Apr

Credit union contributes $10,000 to Wilmington Fund

By CHRIS MAYS / Reformer Staff
Posted:   04/24/2013 03:00:00 AM EDT
Updated:   04/24/2013 07:47:11 AM EDT

Vermont State Employee Credit Union delivers a $10,000 Grant to Julie Lineberger on behalf of The Wilmington Fund VT for the purposes of lighting a Village Parking Lot. From left: VSECU Brattleboro Branch Manager, Tina McCosker; Julie Lineberger, Carolyn Palmer, Cliff Duncan, John Gannon, Wilmington Town Manager Scott Murphy, and Lilias Hart. (Chris Mays/Brattleboro Reformer)

Wednesday April 24, 2013

WILMINGTON — A downtown project is getting closer to completion after the Wilmington Fund received a $10,000 grant from a statewide credit union.

“I’d like to thank the Vermont State Employees Credit Union for working with us and making this possible,” said Wilmington Fund board member John Gannon. “It certainly took a lot of partners to bring this project together. The VSECU has helped us finance the lights that are going to go up and make this area important to revitalizing the downtown economy.”

On April 23, VSECU Brattleboro Branch Manager Tina McCosker gave the $10,000 grant to Julie Lineberger, on behalf of the Wilmington Fund board. The check was received by Lineberger in the general vicinity of where the lights will be going up in the near future.

Wilmington Town Manager Scott Murphy also attended the event along with Wilmington Fund board members Cliff Duncan, Carolyn Palmer and Lilias Hart.

The Wilmington Fund previously contributed $10,000 to this project, which will improve the parking lot area behind several downtown businesses. There will also be a maintained small greenspace on the property.

The parking lot was re-paved last summer but there were some finishing touches.

The Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce requested money from the Wilmington Fund when the chamber’s executive director, Adam Grinold, saw an opportunity to obtain a grant through the Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services.

The funds are going towards paying for lighting and other completion work for the project. The Wilmington Fund contributed an additional $5,000 for the parking lot project last year.

The property is behind Sotheby’s International Realty and Pickwells Barn.

Riverwalk Trail runs through that parking lot and there are plans in the making to link Riverwalk with Dover’s Valley Trail.

According to TheWilmingtonFund.org, “The project is part of Wilmington’s Long-Term Community Recovery Plan resulting from the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.”

Completion of the parking lot project is expected for the summer.

The Wilmington Fund has reported receiving seven grants totaling $155,000 “to support economic revitalization of downtown Wilmington.”

The VSECU had expressed to the Wilmington Fund that it had wanted to reach out beyond central Vermont in assisting towns with revitalization efforts post Irene.

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

Advertisements

Vermont State Employee Credit Union Grant!

23 Apr

FundVT VSECUPhoto by Jadria Cincotta

Vermont State Employee Credit Union delivers a $10,000 Grant to Julie Lineberger, Board Secretary of The Wilmington Fund VT for the purposes of lighting a Village Parking Lot.  From left to right:  VSECU Brattleboro Branch Manager, Tina McCosker; Julie Lineberger, Carolyn Palmer & Cliff Duncan of the Parking Lot Committee, John Gannon of The Wilmington Fund VT, Wilmington Town Manager Scott Murphy, Lilias Hart also of the Parking Lot Committee.

New Credit Union in Brattleboro Supports Wilmington

18 Apr

Nice Press Release from the Vermont State Employees Credit Union!-1
Yvonne Garand, VP Marketing & Business Development
Ygarand@vsecu.com / 802 371 5197

BRATTELBORO, Vt., April 23, 2013— VSECU, the only state-wide credit union for all Vermonters, has not only expanded its branch access to Southern, Vermont, but has expanded its gifting with a $10,000 contribution to help finish the final phase of a downtown Wilmington project.

The gift  from VSECU along with a $10,000 grant from The Wilmington Fund VT will be used to pay for lighting and other completion work in a newly constructed parking lot and green space in downtown Wilmington.  The Wilmington Fund VT also contributed an additional $5,000 in 2012 for the parking lot itself in addition to the $10,000 match. The project is part of Wilmington’s Long-Term Community Recovery Plan resulting from the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

VSECU may be new to Southern Vermont but has something in common with the area. It knows very well the challenges of rebuilding after Hurricane Irene. The credit union lost its branch in Waterbury, Vermont from Irene and had to rebuild an entire new branch facility and also helped that community focus on residential rebuilding.

“Our credit union was heartbroken to see how many of our members were personally affected by Mother Nature, whether it was the loss of a home, vehicle, business or job because their employer couldn’t remain in business after Irene,” said Kate Paine, board member and chair of the Community Contributions Committee at VSECU.

“It was important to us to reach out beyond the Central Vermont area to support other communities we reside in and serve that are working so hard to finish the rebuilding and revitalization efforts from the storm.”

According to Board Members John Gannon & Julie Lineberger, the Wilmington Fund VT has made a total of seven grants totaling $155,000 to support the economic revitalization of downtown Wilmington. “The purpose of the grants is to encourage existing businesses to reopen, help new businesses launch and create jobs in Wilmington’s historic village center,” said John Gannon. As a result of these grants five local businesses have opened or are in the process of re-opening, including the iconic Dot’s Restaurant. “This gift from VSECU will bring to closure the funding needed to complete the project most needed to give people safe and convenient access
for parking.”

The project is expected to be completed this summer.

VSECU is a not for profit banking alternative for all Vermonters. The Brattleboro branch is located in the Price Chopper Plaza. For more information about VSECU, call 802/800 371-5162 or visit http://www.vsecu.com.

Wilmington receives downtown designation • 28 March story in the Deerfield Valley News

30 Mar
by Jack Deming
2 days ago | 522 views | 1 1 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print

 

WILMINGTON- After an 18-month-long application process, the VT Downtown program has given its stamp of approval, awarding Wilmington village downtown designation.

This paves the way for implementing Wilmington Works, a committee that will work to enhance the business and economic environment of the downtown. Wilmington Works will be a committee of the Wilmington Fund VT, which serves as the committee’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt financial sponsor, as required by the program. The Wilmington Selectboard has also committed funds to Wilmington Works for this, and next year’s, fiscal years, using matching grant funds.

After Tropical Storm Irene, FEMA worked with the town to establish a long-term community recovery plan, and identified approximately two dozen projects that could have positive impacts and help the town most in achieving recovery goals.

Downtown designation was chosen as a high priority by the town, and former selectboard chair Tom Consolino was named project champion. Consolino, town manager Scott Murphy, economic development specialist Gretchen Havreluk, and Wilmington Fund VT member John Gannon spent 18 months putting together the plan, and applying.

According to Murphy, Wilmington Works will provide structure and support for downtown businesses, and organize efforts to improve the town’s economy. This will be accomplished through four subcommittees that report to a board of nine to 11 volunteers. Those subcommittees will consist of organization, economic development, promotion, and design.

For business owners, Murphy says Wilmington Works will provide multiple benefits by consolidating the efforts of the many existing committees in town, which, he says, with time might evolve into parts of the subcommittees. “The one benefit they’re (business owners) going to see first and foremost is the organizational affect,” said Murphy. “Right now we have various committees that work randomly and not in conjunction with each other and this will pull them all together.”

Murphy also noted the financial impact of the program, which opens the town up to apply for more 50-50 match grants that are easily accessible, and were not available under the town’s former status as a village. “Now that we’re a designated downtown, when we apply for other state grants, they can look at that and it will help us get extra credit points toward getting more grants.

“This would also be an asset to someone looking to move into our downtown, and will help to create a vibrant downtown.”

Part of the program’s criteria was proper mapping of the proposed downtown, and with help from the Windham Regional Commission, the town was able to create maps for the application, a process which Murphy says was easy due to Wilmington’s well-defined downtown business area. The program requires that the proposed downtown area not stretch unreasonably past the downtown businesses in any direction.

The Wilmington Works board will be composed of two members designated by the Wilmington Fund VT, two designated by the selectboard, two property owners in the district, two business owners in the district, and a member of the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce, as well as other community members. The majority of Wilmington Works board members must also be residents of the town. Each position will be a three-year term, and Murphy says there has already been a great deal of interest.

The program application was supported by nearly 60 signatures from downtown business and property owners alike.

Read more: Deerfield Valley News – Wilmington receives downtown designation

 

Vermont B/A: Wilmington Pulls Together to bring its Historic Downtown Back to Life

17 Mar

Although there is not a digital copy available, if you see the current issue of Vermont B/A (formerly Builder Architect), there is a very nice article on The Wilmington Fund VT with photos by Carolyn Bates & Barker Willard including the two below.

Irene at Work, photo by Barker Willard

Irene at Work, photo by Barker Willard

Wilmington One Year Later, photo by Carolyn Bates

Wilmington One Year Later, photo by Carolyn Bates

 

Cracker Barrel Winter/Spring 2013 A part of Irene’s aftermath: The Wilmington Fund VT

9 Mar

One Part of Irene’s Economic Aftermath:  The Wilmington Fund VT

Two months ago Hurricane Sandy slammed through the Northeast.  Those of us in the Deerfield Valley had a true understanding of damage that can be left behind.  Our thoughts and prayers were with everyone harmed by the climactic event.

Nearly a year and a half ago (28 August 2011), Tropical Storm Irene ravaged many Vermont towns, including Wilmington.  By January, The Wilmington Fund VT was established and hard at work.

Founding:

Tamara and Dan Kilmurray, longtime Wimington second homeowners felt the losses and destruction of Wilmington’s village viscerally.  Throughout the clean up process in which they physically contributed, they discussed what could be done on a long term basis.  Dan communicated with Deborah Emmet Pike, another second home owner who had introduced him to the valley over three decades ago.  Deborah put Dan in touch with local business owner Julie Lineberger as someone who could assist him in gathering a group of people to create a long term difference.

By February 2012 the full Board was established including Dan as President, State House Representative Ann Manwaring as Vice President, financial planner Bruce Mullen as Treasurer and Julie as Secretary of the Board.  Rounding out the group were Tamara Kilmurray, Deborah Emmet Pike, attorney Robert Fisher, business owner John Gannon and innkeeper John Pilcher who, reluctantly, resigned from the Board in November.

Recently the Board created an Advisory Council to assist in with the mission through brainstorming fundraising ideas, acting as ambassadors to The Wilmington Fund VT.  This group includes Mount Snow Partner Dick Deutsch, West Dover second homeowner Bob Kaufman, Halifax second homeowner Walter Jones, local active volunteer Alice Greenspan, and Wilmington second homeowner Sophie Ackert who raised a significant amount of money for The Wilmington Fund VT through her Bat Mitzvah project.

Grant Process

The primary mission of The Wilmington Fund VT is to contribute to the the economic vitality in the area by encouraging established pre-Irene businesses to reopen, help new businesses launch and create jobs in Wilmington’s historic village center.  This includes shrinking the number of empty storefronts in the village.  Steadily, albeit slowly, we are advancing towards these goals.

In order to accomplish the above goals, The Wilmington Fund VT established parameters and protocols for grant applications and approval.  Each project is evaluated on its own particular set of circumstances by our general requirements that include submission of a complete business plan to establish, or reestablish, a business in the Village.  Part of the requirement is that any submission must include a substantial financial investment on the part of the applicant business owner.

Once a letter requesting funds accompanied by a completed business plan is submitted, a small group of our Board vets the project through interview and other due diligence measures.  When approved by the small group, the project is brought to the full Board of Directors for discussion.

So far, the Wilmington Fund VT invested $145,000 in the approval and distribution of  and distribution six grants.  The recipient business owners are on target to invest in excess of $1 million in their respective projects.  This multiplier effect is a key requirement for any grant application and approval of The Wilmington Fund VT.

Progress

The grants distributed include five businesses and an infrastructural project to support all village businesses.  The businesses that either opened, or are in the process of reopening, are well funded and have solid articulated business plans.  The Wilmington Fund VT is highly confident of their success and believe that a total of 30 local jobs will be created.

North Star Bowl – REOPENED. The center for local activity offering both bowling and informal food is owned by Steve Butler and Bev Lemaire.  Over 75% of this structure was destroyed in the storm.  Although not technically in Wilmington’s Village Center, we felt this business to be a significant contributor to the economic vitality of the area.

• Dot’s Restaurant – REOPENING SOON.  The iconic breakfast to dinner restaurant is owned by Patty and John Reagan.  http://www.rebuilddots.com

Note:  Funding and elbow grease from many individuals and many groups, most notably the Friends of the Valley, is what enabled both North Star and Dot’s to even think of reopening.  The Wilmington Fund VT was but one aspect of the reestablishment of these businesses.

Beyond Imagination – OPENED. A beautifully designed women’s clothing and household furnishings boutique is owned by Melinda and Bill Coombs.  http://www.beyondimagination.com

Chapman’s InTown Antiques – OPENED. Diane and Len Chapman have been running an antique business on their Medburyville property just outside of town for many years.  Along with neighbors JoAnn and David Manning, they decided to open a store in the village.  With assistance from The Wilmington Fund VT, the team of four renovated a storm ravaged building and are offering both antiques and local Vermont crafts.

Restaurant in the historic Parmelee & Howe Building – OPENING SOON. The Wilmington Fund VT purchased and began renovating this anchor building on the corner of Routes 9 & 100.  Mid-way through we were approached by a local individual with a vision and an interest in purchasing the property.  Acknowledging the ample investment and undertaking by the purchaser, as a demonstration of support the accepted negotiated price was less than our investment. The Wilmington Fund VT is pleased to have accomplished its goal with the sale of the Historic Parmelee & Howe building and look forward to its success.

• Village Walkway – PARTIALLY COMPLETED.  Led by the Long Term Recovery Parking and Green space Committee of Carolyn Palmer, Lilias Hart and Sue Spengler, the project links a new parking lot with Main Street with a soon to be lit walkway.

Future Challenges:

Because of these early successes, morale in the village is recovering and the ambiance greatly improved.  The robust Village Stroll Committee is working diligently to create various events to entice people downtown.  In addition, the increase in tourist traffic this fall was very encouraging.

However, there remain numerous damaged and empty buildings requiring a great deal of work.  The scope of these future projects is larger than our accomplishments to date, and 80 or so jobs still need to be restored.  The Board is exploring various options, including the establishment of a revolving loan fund, to stimulate economic growth in the village.

The Wilmington Fund VT has been prudent stewards of donated capital.  Close to 100% of fund donations go to economic vitality efforts with a minimal amount used for insurance and accounting fees.  All Board Members work voluntarily, truly a tireless effort by a talented group of individuals.

To continue our work, The Wilmington Fund VT is in a constant mode of fundraising.  We are also establishing two annual fundraisers.  The Summer Event of 2012 was extremely successful.  This included an art show curated by Mary Wright of Gallery Wright, a Pig Roast Dinner at the home of the Kilmurrays, and a Memorial Hall concert produced with great support of Dale Doucette.  Plans for the 13 July 2013 Summer Event are in currently in the works.

The Wilmington Fund VT is also in the midst of working with Mount Snow to create an annual Winter Event.

The long term success of our cause will ultimately be determined by continued strong governance, solid decision making and, of course, successful fundraising.  All are invited to keep on top of our progress through http://www.TheWilmingtonFundVT.org

Two Thank Yous from Beyond Imagination

10 Oct
When waters run deep. . .hearts open wide!  May the memories of Irene renew your faith in humanity.  (Card and artwork by Melinda Coombs)
We could not have done this without your generosity of time and money.  Thank-you from the bottom of our hearts.  Bill & Melinda Coombs
“BEYOND IMAGINATION”
10.4.12 Deerfield Valley News
Words cannot express thanks
To the Editor:Words cannot express how filled with gratitude I am for all the support in the opening of my new boutique Beyond Imagintation. The success is due to so many people,

The Wilmington Fund VT, without whom this would not have come to fruition. Ed Erhard for the renovations to his building, Bob Hall and his crew for all their hard work, Bill for his long hours of everything, Suzanne and Sara for all they did in help making the opening happen so quickly, Gretchen Havreluk for the help with the business plan and support, Manyu for teaching me so well, Meg Streeter for planting the seed, and friends and family for your help and support.

I feel blessed to be in such a supportive community and to be part of the rebirth of Wilmington. I look forward to seeing you all at Beyond Imagination.

Many thanks,

Melinda Coombs

Wilmington

Read more: Deerfield Valley News – Words cannot express thanks

New Stores Bring Hope To Town Hit By Flood And Recession – VPR Broadcast

28 Sep

Friday, 09/28/12 5:50pm

Nancy Eve Cohen

VPR/Nancy Eve Cohen
Beyond Imagination is one of two new businesses that just opened in downtown Wilmington.

When the flood hit Wilmington a year ago the local economy was already on its knees. But just this month, with the help of a local non-profit two new businesses are opening in the downtown and a once flood-damaged building was sold.

The wail of a skill saw is annoying in some places, but in Wilmington it’s like a beautiful aria. Dots, the iconic restaurant which Irene destroyed in the center of town, is getting rebuilt.

“You can see the foundation’s being poured. They’re starting to do the framing of it right now.” said Julie Lineberger from the Wilmington Fund VT.

The Fund has raised nearly $600,000 to invest in downtown businesses like Dots.

“You need the village to be economically vital and vibrant “in order to have people to come here and spend money here,” said Lineberger,

The Fund bought, fixed up and just sold a historic brick building that hugs the corner of Wilmington’s main intersection. The new owner plans to open a restaurant. The Fund also gave a grant to Beyond Imagination, a clothing boutique which is having its grand opening tonight.   Melinda Coombs is launching this store, despite the slow economy, for several reasons.

“To help the town as well as start a new business for myself, ” said Coombs. “But the main one is that I grew up in this town.”

So has her son and her granddaughter. But Coombs lost her job at another store a year ago after the downtown was nearly destroyed  by Irene.

“It’s like losing your home,” said Coombs tearing up. “The thought that you might have to go out of the area to live because the economy might not recover. The thought of that just isn’t an option for me. I love living here.”

Lenny Chapman is opening another new store in the village of Wilmington called Chapman’s In Town Antiques. He shows off a cake box from the early 1800s.

“They used to make cakes and put them in here and keep them so the mice wouldn’t get at them”

Chapman says he believes the economy is coming back. He has another antique business in a barn just down the road.

“We had a good summer out at the barn,” Chapman said. “That’s one of the reasons why we would try to open here.”

But some business owners who have been downtown a long time have a different view, such as Meg Streeter who has been a realtor here for nearly three decades. She’s also a member of Wilmington’s select-board.

“It’s really tough here, I feel.” said Streeter. “The recession has never ended here. It has never ended in the Mount Snow area.”

Eileen Ranslow, whose been selling carpet and tiling at the Wilmington Home Center for 42 years says she’s holding on, but just barely.

“The economy for the last 2 ½ years, 3 years has been non- existent” recalled Ranslow. “And then we had Irene pass through. That pretty well flattened us, We’re still doing business, but it has been very, very tough.”

The official numbers bear that out, but they also show a ray of light. Economist Richard Heaps of Northern Economic Consulting says before the flood the number of businesses in Wilmington fell by 16 percent. But he says in the past year there’s been a little shift in the right direction.

“Couple more businesses opened up, but the total employment fell and wages grew a little.  So there was a hint that Wilmington was beginning to see a turn.,” said Heaps. “And now, the recent news of a couple of businesses coming in is building on that. It’s not much, but it’s beginning to show that they’re turning the corner.”

Melinda Coombs is hoping for a domino effect as new businesses like hers attract more customers to the entire town.

“If word gets out that ‘Gosh, there are a lot of really nice shops in Wilmington. Maybe we’ll go there from Bennington or Brattleboro or other places,’ it’s just going to help everybody!”

No one here is predicting a quick turn around, but they’re planting seeds hoping a better economy will eventually take root.

www.beyondimaginationvt.com

6.14.12 Deerfield Valley News notes Award

16 Jun
Town, individuals praised for resiliency
by David Amato

WILMINGTON– The tenor of last Friday’s annual Preservation Trust of Vermont conference at Memorial Hall was soaringly optimistic and underscored by the reality that Wilmington, along with other communities in Vermont affected by Tropical Storm Irene, needs to proceed thoughtfully in its recovery efforts.

The Preservation Trust, founded in 1980, focuses on preserving historic buildings and downtowns throughout the state of Vermont and helps individuals access funding for maintaining historic sites. In addition, at its meetings it honors specific individuals for outstanding preservation work in the state.

Wilmington residents, representatives from state government, individuals from around Vermont involved with preservation efforts in their own communities, and Gov. Peter Shumlin crowded into Memorial Hall to celebrate their collective work from the past several years, the most dramatic of which has centered around Vermont’s remarkable recovery efforts since August 2011.

“Resiliency” was the theme of this year’s meeting, with Wilmington serving as the most logical location to embody that spirit.

“Wilmington was the hardest hit community in Vermont, with $13 million worth of damage,” said town manager Scott Murphy during his opening remarks at the meeting, “but our community is beginning to once again thrive.”

Stuart Comstock-Gay, president and CEO of the Vermont Community Foundation, delivered the meeting’s keynote address, in which he called on Vermonters to take pride in their recovery efforts but to temper that pride with realism. “I surely don’t need to tell anybody here that Vermont’s response to Tropical Storm Irene has been truly incredible,” he said. “But an important part of leadership is acknowledging what you’ve done well while focusing your attention so you can fix what you could have done better. We haven’t figured out how best to rebuild some of our communities. We haven’t resolved our growing and likely future problems of more floods or other disasters.”

Comstock-Gay cited the tremendous volunteer efforts and community interconnectedness in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene as points of pride for Vermont, specifically calling Vermont Town Meeting “the envy of the world.” In addition, he pointed to issues surrounding mobile homes and mobile home communities after the storm as a new challenge for the state. Mobile home communities were especially devastated by Irene’s floodwaters, and protecting these communities from future floods while also providing enough housing for their residents will require an innovative approach from the state government as well as home builders.

Noelle MacKay, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development, was also present and spoke about investments and improvements occurring throughout the state in 2011.

In that time, she said, the state enjoyed a net growth of 94 new businesses, 121 new business projects, $17 million in private investment, $23 million in public investment, and 263 jobs.

The meeting, in addition to celebrating resiliency throughout Vermont, also retained a focus on Wilmington.

Five organizations and business owners in Wilmington were recognized by the Preservation Trust at the meeting for their outstanding preservation and rebuilding efforts: the Friends of the Valley Foundation; the Wilmington Fund VT; Floodstock; the Deerfield Valley Rotary Club; and Lisa Sullivan and Phil Taylor, owners of Bartleby’s Books.

“Rebuilding Bartleby’s was the easiest thing we could have done,” said Lisa Sullivan, after receiving a standing ovation along with the rest of the awardees. “Rebuilding became a symbol of hope.”

“If you’re wondering about ‘802 Strong’ or ‘Vermont Strong,’” said Chris Zizza, of Friends of the Valley, “just look in the mirror. Here in Vermont, it’s just good friends and great friends.”

Adam Palmiter, who led the Rotarty Club’s fundraising efforts to help businesses, reminded meeting attendees that “being a younger person in the valley, there aren’t a lot of us. I don’t want things to fall apart. I want people to come back here.”

Gov. Shumlin closed the meeting by referring to Irene as the “third strike” against the economic health of Vermont, citing outside corporate pressure as well as the recession as the existing threats to Vermont’s economic vitality.

Read more: Deerfield Valley News – Town individuals praised for resiliency

The Wilmington Fund VT Receives an Award from Preservation Trust of Vermont!

15 Jun

Celebrating Vermont downtowns and their strength

Preservation Trust of Vermont hosts annual conference in Wilmington
Originally published in The Commons issue #156 (Wednesday, June 13, 2012).


By Olga Peters/The Commons

Link to Full Article:  http://www.commonsnews.org/site/site05/story.php?articleno=5581&page=1

WILMINGTON—The Preservation Trust of Vermont gave awards to five Wilmington organizations and individuals at its annual conference held on June 8 in Wilmington’s Town Hall.

The trust commended Friends of the Valley Foundation, Wilmington Vermont Fund, Flood Stock, Deerfield Valley Rotary, and Lisa Sullivan and Philip Taylor of Bartleby’s Books for their collective work in rebuilding Wilmington after Tropical Storm Irene.

“Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011, is a day that will forever be remembered in many parts of Vermont,” wrote the Trust in its awards narrative. “In Wilmington, local residents, second home owners, business owners and visitors literally stood by and watched the raging Deerfield River rise and take over their village as a result of the torrential rains from Tropical Storm Irene.

“We have all heard and seen the stories of what happened – buildings flooded or washed away, roads collapsed, businesses destroyed, people left homeless. The collective response to the flood, and the immediate effort and effectiveness to rebuild, demonstrates a deep commitment to partnership and perseverance in the name of the greater community.”

The Friends of the Valley Foundation, founded by Lynn Bucossi, Kevin Ryan, and Chris Zizza, provide community members with scholarships for camps and colleges and grants for a person or family in a crisis situation. After Irene, the foundation worked toward rebuilding the severely flooded North Star Bowl bowling alley on Route 100. The team has also pledged to help rebuild Dot’s Restaurant.

Also committed to Dot’s, Tamara and Daniel Kilmurray, second home owners in the area for more than 10 years, started the Wilmington Vermont Fund with a donation of $250,000. According to the Trust, the foundation purchased the Parmelee & Howe Building at the corner of Route 9 and Route 100 north, and provided financial resources to businesses.

“These are not just businesses they are people’s lives,” said Daniel Kilmurray.

In a separate interview, board member John Gannon said the fund hopes to find a tenant for Parmelee & Howe after it completes renovations. The challenge, he said, is attracting someone with the business savvy to build a business in Wilmington’s cyclical economy.

Businesses struggling

Rep. Ann Manwaring, D-Wilmington, is also involved with the Wilmington Vermont Fund. She said that new business owners must commit to producing an “outstanding product” to attract customers. Vermont does well in producing quality and Wilmington will strengthen overtime, she said.

Wilmington and Dover’s economies are primarily tourism-based. Manwaring suggested that new entrepreneurs build non-tourism based businesses.

“It needs to happen,” she said. “Not just here [but across Vermont], but we’re working for here.”

Manwaring asserted that saving struggling businesses requires a sea change in Vermont. After Irene, recovery resources have flowed mostly to homeowners. The state and funding agencies place businesses into the “rubric of economic development.” Businesses owners receive loans, and rarely receive grants, as homeowners do.

In Vermont, most business owners are individual owner/operators struggling as much as independent homeowners, she said.

At issue, said Manwaring, is that “businesses don’t vote, and homeowners do.”

If the state wants to build jobs it needs to support businesses, she added.

The fund has raised more than $475,000 with a goal of $3 million.