Scenic spot set for makeover

WAITS RIVER—One of the most photographed sites in Vermont is Pike Hill Road’s approach to the New Hope Methodist Church in Waits River. There are barns on either side of the road and in the foreground is a small bridge with wooden railings.
New England photographer and blogger Jeff Folger calls it “an iconic location.”
Indeed, it is and folks are loathe to make changes to the scene in any way. But those railings are now warped and in need of repair. The bridge bed itself needs attention.

Bail reform, Covid played role in stand closure

NORTH HAVERHILL—Why is there an inmate labor shortage on the Grafton County Farm?
Last week’s story, “County farm turns to cover crops in 2021,” about the temporary closure of the Grafton County farm stand spurred questions about the lower numbers of incarcerated at the Grafton County House of Corrections.
The lack of farm help started in 2020 with the COVID-19 quarantines and reduced operations of the court system. Since inmate farm workers have to be those who have received sentences and with no one being sentenced, there were not enough available hands for the work.

Local vax rollout matches state rate

As Vermont reached an 80% vaccination rate, eligible residents of Bradford and surrounding communities are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at a pace comparable to the rest of the state.
According to data from the Vermont Department of Health, Bradford’s vaccination rate was between 81 and 90%, as was the rate in Thetford. Fairlee’s vaccination rate was higher than 90%, and Chelsea’s vaccination rate was between 71 and 80%.

Embattled bridge inspires neighbors

THETFORD CENTER—The one-lane covered bridge over the Ompompanoosuc River on Tucker Hill Road was temporarily closed for several hours midday on June 17.
But this time the closure was not due to damage caused by an oversized truck striking the wooden frame, an all-too common occurrence at the site.
Instead, a throng of neighbors, Thetford officials and other friends of the bridge gathered near its east end to install new signs on either end of the Sayre Bridge. Several short speeches and a ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the occasion once both signs were mounted in place.

Social media page draws criticism

BRADFORD—There is some disconnect about a Facebook group named Connecting Bradford as the social media hub came under fire during the selectboard meeting last week.
A brief discussion was prompted by a complaint the town offices received from a Bradford resident even though the page is not an official municipal website. Selectmen voted several years ago not to have an official Facebook page.
“It’s not an official site,” said administrative assistant Danielle Kingsbury. “That needs to be clear.”
Selectboard chair Ted Unkles agreed.
“I’ve also gotten a lot of flack,” he said.

County Farm turns to cover crops in 2021

NORTH HAVERHILL—This past year, the Grafton County Farm and Farm Stand, as with everything and everyone else, fell victim to COVID-19’s disruptive influence.
Passersby may have noticed that business is not as usual and wonder what is going on. The farm stand will not open in 2021, but that doesn’t mean the County Farm won’t be operating this year. It just means they will be doing things a little differently.
Since 2003, the Grafton County Farm has supplied produce to the Grafton County Nursing Home, the Department of Corrections, and to the public for sale at the farm stand. Local food pantries also benefitted from the farm’s potatoes and schools enjoyed pumpkins.

Bonanza pops pandemic bubble

BRADFORD—After COVID-19 restrictions loosened, the Bradford Public Library re-opened to the public on May 4 after closing its doors in March 2020. But librarian Gail Trede wanted to hold a special event—something to bring families together that were otherwise isolated during the pandemic.
“It was hard to book any events due to Covid restrictions and I was looking for a summer party event after not doing anything for a year,” she said.
After some investigative work on the computer, she found Jeff Boyer and the Big Bubble Bonanza.

As summer returns, restrictions lift

It’s been more than a year and a half since COVID-19 made its appearance and upended everybody’s lives. As Covid case numbers decline, restrictions loosen, and temperatures rise, local folks are gathering again with an extra dose of gratitude and joy. And maybe a little trepidation.
Those in the wedding industry basically lost an entire season thanks to Covid. Vermont wedding photographer Sally Carpenter said many couples postponed their nuptials.
“I had three [weddings] at one venue and that venue did not survive the pandemic [and] so they had to cancel all their weddings, very sad,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter said that June is still very slow with a few elopements. The big weddings are just starting to happen again, and that’s where the real money comes in.

Voters buy backhoe, delay bridge repair

BATH—It may have been sunny and hot outside instead of dark and cold, but Bath got its 2021 town meeting done.
Town meeting was held on the afternoon of June 5, pushed back from its traditional March date due to the pandemic. The location, however, remained unchanged with residents gathering in the Bath Village School cafetorium for Saturday’s session
Nearly three dozen residents breezed through a meeting warrant easily approving a new piece of equipment for the highway department in a paper ballot vote while tabling a proposal for bridge repairs on Dodge Road.

Graduation plans vary at area high schools

BRADFORD—Even as area high schools plan to hold in-person graduations ceremonies this year, not everything will look as it did in the past.
Graduation celebrations will thus vary from school to school as administrators and others make plans with guidance issued by Vermont and New Hampshire health and school officials.
In Vermont, officials anticipate that by July 4, there will be no limits on gatherings either indoors or outdoors. But until then, according to the Vermont Forward Plan, outdoor events are limited to 900 unvaccinated people plus any number of vaccinated individuals provided there is adequate spacing.