Talking turkey

MONTPELIER — As with most things 2020, the 48th annual Free Community Thanksgiving Dinner will look decidedly different than the previous 47 that have been served in the Capital City.

Thanks, COVID-19.

Hundreds of folks won’t be gathering at the Bethany Church on Main Street for what has typically been a sit-down Thanksgiving Day meal on Nov. 25, but we’re told pick-up is an option this year and deliveries will continue.

Thanks, National Life Group and Sodexo.

Seriously, thanks! Seems National Life and Sodexo are spearheading a team of community partners led by the Washington County Youth Service Bureau/Boys & Girls Club to re-imagine the meal that has been a long-standing Montpelier tradition.

Perhaps “re-imagine” is the wrong word because, unless you count the vegetarian option they’re preparing, the menu for the meal WCYSB has hosted for many years is pretty predictable.

We’re talking turkey with all the fixings, though folks who make arrangements to either pick up meals or have them delivered the day before Thanksgiving (more on that in a moment) will have to reheat them.

That’s better than people going without, which is what inspired Mehran Assadi, chairman, chief executive officer and president of National Life, and Phil Harty, senior vice president with Sodexo, to offer to help the youth service bureau with the meal this year.

“Hunger in our community is at a dangerous level for many people,” Assadi says. “We’re proud to join Sodexo and other community partners to provide a meal to those who need one.”

Same goes for Sodexo, according to Harty.

The logistics are tricky given COVID-19 restrictions and while Thanksgiving is still two weeks away, those who want a meal will have to request one by next Wednesday (Nov. 18). It’s simple. Just call 229-9151, or email by the deadline and let them know whether you plan to pick up your meal between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. outside Bethany Church or the main entrance to National Life on Nov. 25 or want one delivered between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. that day.

In addition to the Washington County Youth Service Bureau, others helping make this year’s Thanksgiving meal possible include Just Basics, the Vermont Foodbank, Hannaford supermarket, Central Vermont Medical Center, Hunger Mountain Coop, Cabot Creamery, Vermont Creamery, Chappelle’s Potatoes and Manghi’s Bread.

Book report

BARRE — Central Vermont author Paul Heller has cranked out another book of local history that sounds like it’s worth the read.

Heller, who authored “Granite City Tales,” “More Granite City Tales,” and, more recently, “Montpelier Chronicles: Historic Stories of the Capital City” has just published a Twin City treat.

It’s called “Montpelier & Barre: Landmarks and History” and it’s a collection of Heller’s recent historical writings. Twenty-two chapters of them.

We haven’t read it yet, but we’re told the book explores important central Vermont landmarks such as the observatory in Montpelier’s Hubbard Park, a storied fountain in Barre’s City Hall Park, as well as several famous cemetery monuments.

Wait. There’s more! You can read all about the time P.T. Barnum’s elephant, “Jumbo,” came to Montpelier, or the Barre baseball bat company that once flourished in South Main Street spot where Aubuchon now sells hardware.

Heller writes about cigar-rolling factories that were once prevalent in downtown Barre and Montpelier, and shares stories of bootleggers medicine shows and Bette Davis.

Sure sounds like it’s worth a read.

If you’d like a copy, you can pick one up at Bear Pond Book in Montpelier, Next Chapter Bookstore in Barre and the gift shop at the Vermont Historical Society Museum on State Street in Montpelier.

Drink up!

BARRE — A precautionary “boil water” notice that was issued in the wake of a Monday afternoon water main break on Berlin Street has officially been lifted.

The city received word Wednesday afternoon that water samples taken from three locations were tested and cleared. The same was true of an earlier batch of samples. The back-to-back negative results were positive news if you rely on the water, which has now been declared safe for consumption.

Run and eat?

BARRE TOWN — No one likes to eat and run, but running then eating is a Thanksgiving Day tradition in Barre Town. It is one we wrote about last week to let folks who wanted to order a commemorative T-shirt for the 18th annual “Gobble Wobble Turkey Trot” that the deadline was looming.

That deadline has now arrived (it’s today) — though if you act fast there is still be just enough time to order the timely T-shirt featuring a trotting turkey wearing a mask, as if COVID-19 is the big bird’s biggest worry this time of year.

As we noted last week, everyone needs to register so the folks at Barre Congregational Church can prepare for the socially distant staggered start of this year’s 5K walk-run, but those who want one of the T-shirts (they cost $20) need to place their orders at today. If you don’t want a shirt you can use the same link to pre-register for the race by next Friday (Nov. 20), and it won’t cost you anything this year.

The Thanksgiving Day race will begin and end at Barre Town Middle and Elementary School and because that’s a Thursday we’ll likely remind early risers to scoot over to the school for a race that will be run from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. that morning.

The church uses proceeds from the event (this year it’s all shirt sales and donations) to underwrite initiatives that range from a program that provides low-income families a regular opportunity to launder their clothes to helping feed the homeless and providing resources to long-term care facilities.

‘Winter is coming’

BARRE — City Manager Steve Mackenzie this week issued a gentle reminder to residents who will soon lose overnight on-street parking as an option.

How soon? A minute after midnight on Saturday, which is to say 12:01 a.m. Sunday. That’s Nov. 15 and that’s when winter parking ban, which runs through April 1, goes into effect.

Sort of. Technically on-street parking is prohibited between 1 and 6 a.m. when the ban is in place and those are the times people will need to pay attention to.

“Winter is coming,” Mackenzie said. “It’s that time of year.”

As is customary, vehicles won’t be ticketed and towed to start. Instead, police will leave reminders on windshields of vehicles during what Mackenzie expects will be a one-week “grace period.” After that, he said, all bets are off and all vehicles should be off the streets between 1 and 6 a.m. to accommodate winter maintenance.

This just in ...

BARRE — We like to give credit where credit is due and when it comes to the Downtown Pumpkin Carving Contest we gave it our best shot last week.

Regular readers will tell you we shared all we knew last week, but now we know more and so we’ll share that too.

Take a bow, Sydney Greaves!

Seems Greaves was the 13-year-old carver behind Barre’s best pumpkin in the estimation of those who cast ballots in an informal election that earned her a complimentary bag of candy, bragging rights, and — belatedly — her name in the paper.

Sometimes good news doesn’t travel so fast, but we like to share it when it arrives, and we’re told Greaves’ pumpkin, which was painted white with blue polka dots and stars she carved, was the whimsical winner.

Don’t ask us how many votes it received or who was the runner up because we honestly have no idea. All we know is that Greaves won, and now so do you.

Check it out

WAITSFIELD — One of Vermont’s last all-volunteer ambulance services is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and Bourne’s Energy helped mark that milestone with a $10,000 check.

The oversized check was presented to members of the Mad River Valley Ambulance Service last Friday — capping a successful campaign inspired by the ambulance service’s golden anniversary.

Check it out, too

MONTPELIER — While we’re on the subject of big checks it seems the folks at Caledonia Spirits just cut a sizable one of their own — though the Waterbury Anti-Racism Coalition hasn’t been around nearly as long as the Mad River Valley Ambulance Service.

Formed earlier this year the coalition just pocketed $6,772.73 courtesy of Caledonia Spirits. The check was presented Wednesday afternoon and represented the October installment of the distillery’s “Clear Ice, Full Hearts” program. This month Caledonia Spirits is raising funds for the Pride Center of Vermont in Burlington.

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