BARRE - A Barre native and prominent local businessman who had recently retired and died last month in New Mexico has contributed $1 million toward the completion of bike paths planned in Barre and Barre Town.
According to Barre Mayor Thomas Lauzon and Jeff Blow, chairman of the Barre Town selectboard, each community will receive $500,000 bequests specifically for the bike path projects in memory of Charles Semprebon.
Semprebon, a life-long Barre resident whose family has owned and operated Calmont Beverage Co. for more than 60 years, died on May 24 in Santa Fe while on a cycling tour of the United States. He retired late last year.
Lauzon and Blow said they were informed of the bequests late last week in a private meeting with members of Semprebon's family.
"I'm overwhelmed by Charlie's generosity" Lauzon said Thursday. "Everyone who knew Charlie knew of his strong advocacy for fitness and cycling. This generous and thoughtful gift to our communities will help us realize Charlie's dream of a regional bike path that can be enjoyed by cyclists in perpetuity."
Blow echoed that sentiment.
"For Charlie to honor his community so generously demonstrates just how much fitness, cycling and his community meant to him," he said. "I look forward to working with Barre City to ensure that the bike paths, which are so important to both of our communities, are completed in accordance with Charlie's wishes."
An avid health and bicycling enthusiast, Semprebon was born in Barre on July 13, 1942. He graduated from Spaulding High School in 1960 and received his Bachelor of Science degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Mass., in 1964.
"With this gift comes a great responsibility to realize Charlie's dream and to continue his advocacy for fitness and cycling," Lauzon said, explaining that he and Blow have already discussed the creation of a regional bike path committee that will include residents of both communities and members of Semprebon's family.
According to Lauzon, Semprebon's brother, Tom, and nephews, Jamie and Shane, would likely be the first members of the committee.
"We'll get very busy very quickly bringing that committee up to speed," Lauzon said, suggesting that plans for yet-to-be-built segments of the Central Vermont Regional Bike Path will be dusted off, projects targeted, and additional funds sought.
"We're going to work as hard as we can to leverage this into as much money as we can," he said, explaining he and Blow have already been in contact with Gov. James Douglas and Transportation Secretary David Dill.
"Jeff and I will work tirelessly to honor Charlie's wishes," he said. "We both look forward to dedicating the 'Charles Semprebon Memorial Bike Path' as soon as possible."
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