In the latest Town Treasure Hunt, our HomeOwnership Center Director, Nancy Gilman, drove up to Bridport, Whiting, Cornwall, and Shoreham- here’s what she had to share about her experience!
Arriving in Whiting, Nancy employed the usual town hunt strategy of starting with the town clerk- generally a wealth of knowledge on their town. But on that day, Nancy had the unique experience of meeting Whiting’s brand new town clerk, Gayle Quenneville!
Nancy took the opportunity to explain our services and to learn about what led Gayle to her new job and town- a welcoming community, Gayle said.
Looking around for somewhere to get the local scoop on Whiting, she popped into a local church across the road which had its doors wide open for an activity.
There, she met Beverly Freemont, the director of Whiting’s food shelf. As Nancy chatted with Beverly about NeighborWorks’ services, Beverly lit up- she often had people stop by from as far away as Bennington looking for services like ours.
Nancy went on to discover that the local fire department will be celebrating their 50th anniversary by having a community barbecue this week, and everyone in town is bringing a dish to share- a town wide potluck.
Whiting may be short on people- but not on community.
When Nancy arrived in Cornwall, she explored the town and learned some of its unique history.
The original grantees of Cornwall were said to be residents of Litchfield County Connecticut. Whiting’s charter was signed by Benning Wentworth, Governor of New Hampshire in November 1761 and the town was organized on March 2, 1784.
Bingham Memorial School (kindergarten through 6th grade) weaves a bit of environmental education into the curriculum: students are taught about gardening and they have energy challenges where they learn about electrical, heat and waste systems by collecting homegrown data.
The town has an events calendar online and actively engages with Front Porch Forum.
Interesting tidbit? The local church keeps its doors open to all residents- even those with four paws.
In Shoreham, Nancy found a close knit town of small businesses, families and retirees rich in agriculture heritage including milk, apples vegetables, maple syrup and berries. She also discovered a community calendar brimming with events, including apple fests, church events such as the local Jamaican singers.
By asking around, Nancy learned that Shoreham’s library is the focal point of the community. Incredibly, it offers free online continuing education courses including medical technology 101, Nutrition 101, photography basics, wedding planning 101, caring for senior, GED preparation. The library also offers space for meetings and working spaces- what a wonderful community center and resource!
Shoreham’s K-6 rural elementary school has about 75 students and is located in the heart of the community. The historical society operates out of the old school house and works hard to preserve and catalog donated artifacts.
Shoreham offers several places to grab a bite, including the halfway house on Vermont RT 22A and the Shoreham Inn.
The town of Bridport is a sleepy little village just southeast of Middlebury on Lake Champlain- the perfect place to wrap up a Town Treasure Hunt.
As is common in small Vermont towns, there is a central strip of Bridport with all the necessities: the town hall, the church, and the post office.
The Bridport Town Clerk’s office is in the same building as the firehouse, for efficiency’s sake. Nancy visited with the Town Clerk, Valerie Bourgeois, who was happy to complete our treasure hunt survey.
What are the largest employers in Bridport? “Farmers,” Valerie answered without hesitation. Turns out over 33% of the population works in agriculture, fishing, hunting, and forestry occupations!
How about events? “There’s an annual Father’s Day BBQ,” Valerie replied, “as well as weekly community dinners at one of the two local churches every Friday.”
What about town communication? “Residents are invited to have their birthdays, anniversaries, etc. listed on the calendar” (for the reasonable price of just $5.00), “and it is sent out to community members.”
Only when Nancy asked about a place to grab a cup of coffee did she hit an uninvited answer- unfortunately, Bridport has no local restaurants or anywhere to have coffee, just plenty of rolling fields to picnic in with gorgeous views of Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains.