MONTPELIER — The Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation (FPR) announced longtime State Parks Director Craig Whipple is retiring.
During his 14 years as director, he was instrumental in creating programs to increase access to the parks, including the First Day Hikes series of free, guided New Year’s Day hikes at parks across the state; the Parks prescription program that provides free state parks day-use passes prescribed by physicians; and the Venture Vermont outdoor challenge that encourages families to explore the outdoors and receive a free state parks pass for their adventures.
Whipple has also worked to build and secure funding for increased recreation capacity within FPR, and through the creation of the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative. In addition, he spearheaded the founding of Vermont Parks Forever, the nonprofit friends group supporting the parks, and helped found the national State Parks Leadership School.
In 2014, he received the Theresa S. Brungardt Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Vermont Recreation and Parks Association, and in 2016, became one of only three Vermonters ever to be designated a “Legend” by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration.
RANDOLPH — The 15th annual Last Mile Ride, Run and Walk, held as a virtual “Home Edition” event this year due to the pandemic, raised record-breaking funds for the cause during the first 15 days in August. The event, which invited participants to register online and ride, run or walk at a time and location of their choosing, raised nearly $150,000 to support end-of-life care for Gifford patients, bringing the grand total to more than $1,030,000 raised since the inaugural Last Mile Ride event in 2006
The funds raised help patients and families meet their unique needs during advanced illness or at the end of life, such as costs associated with estate planning and funeral services, special events like weddings, transportation for visiting family members or for patients who require appointments with specialists outside of the region, and more.
Forty-seven businesses supported the 2020 Last Mile Ride, including the following major sponsors: Frankenburg Agency, Gary and Mary West Foundation, Mascoma Bank, Neagley & Chase Construction, Northfield Savings Bank, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust, Boston Private, Chip’s Auto, Kinney Pike, Memic, ProAct, and Rural Vermont Real Estate.
MORRISVILLE — Prevent Child Abuse Vermont announced its first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Morrisville resident David Yacovone.
His career started upon graduation from Johnson State College when he went to work in Morrisville helping disadvantaged Vermonters secure employment. He became the chief counselor of the Barre Champlain Valley Work and Training Programs before returning to Morrisville to work at Copley Hospital as personnel director. Over the next 20 years, he worked as a nursing home administrator, including eight years at the Greensboro Nursing Home.
While at the Greensboro Nursing Home, Yacovone served two terms in the Vermont House of Representatives before being appointed Commissioner of Aging and Disabilities by Gov. Howard Dean. He implemented the “Shift the Balance” legislation he was one of the lead legislative sponsors of, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars being redirected from institutional care to home- and community-based services.
He worked as an administrator within the Agency of Human Services for many years overseeing a number of programs, including planning, refugee resettlement, personnel, information technology and budgeting, before being appointed by Gov. Peter Shumlin as Commissioner for the Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF). He returned to human services upon leaving DCF for several years before retiring from state service in 2016, when he returned to the Vermont Legislature and has served on the House Appropriations Committee for the last four years.
BARRE — Barre Elks Lodge recently held their annual member recognition/appreciation awards presentation. Tylor Bigras of Bigras Auto was awarded the Citizen of the Year. He was honored for his patriotism, generosity and ethics.
In presenting the award, Exalted Ruler Barb Watters highlighted his commitment to local veterans through Tires for Troops, a 501c3 charity Bigras started around six years ago, his first year trying to make it as a business. He has raised thousands of dollars to purchase tires which are installed free for local veterans in November. The first year, eight sets of new tires were installed. In 2019, a record 25 sets of new tires were provided and installed to veterans and their families. Bigras is a supporter/mentor of youth and generous toward numerous local causes, not just through donated items, but buying tickets to support charity events.
Gifford Medical Center
A boy, Gustav Pelchar, was born Aug. 8, 2020, to Brianna Pelchar of Bethel.
A girl, Isabel Barnaby, was born Aug. 10, 2020, to Mackenzie Dunster and Christopher Barnaby Jr. of Bethel.
Erin O’Farrell of West Burke graduated Summa Cum Laude majoring in environmental studies and minoring in women and gender studies at Bates College.
Erik Weiss of Wolcott earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in Finance from Bryant University.
Stefan Brecher of Waterbury Center, Mechanical Engineering major, was named to the 2020 dean’s list at Union College.
McKenna Verge of St. Johnsbury was named to the spring 2020 dean’s list at Edinboro University.
Local residents named to the spring 2020 dean’s list at Simmons University are Schuyler Forest and Taylor Forest, both of East Calais; Hannah Pandya of East Montpelier; and Emma Cosgrove of Waterbury.