Tag Archives: North Star Bowl

Deerfield Valley News Article re: 20 July 2013!!

28 Jul
Fundraising event a big success for Wilmington group
by Mike Eldred
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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

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