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Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center after received the Community Leader of the Year award from the West Brattleboro Association. Left to right: Julia von Ranson and Kathleen White, BEEC Board President and Vice President, respectively; Joan Carey, Director of Educational Programs; and Beth Coles, Director of Development.

BRATTLEBORO >> The West Brattleboro Association named the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center as its 5th Annual Community Leader of the Year during WBA's annual holiday party on Monday, Dec. 14, at The New England House.

Programs and activities BEEC has sponsored in its 24 years of existence include vacation camps attended by more than 100 children each year; various school and classroom programs throughout Windham County including preschool, elementary, and middle schools, both public and private. In addition, BEEC holds the Forest of Mystery at Halloween; organizes the Salamander Crossing Brigades for the first warm rainy nights of the year; and runs other nature-oriented activities (many free) including stargazing for adults and families, tracking wildlife in the snow, watching beavers in their habitats, and Sunday morning walks called AM Ambles. It also leads the Vernal Pool Monitoring Project and collaborates on the Pollinator Awareness Initiative.

Previous Community Leader winners were Bill and Judy Daley, owners of the Vermont Country Deli; Ahmad and Kat Rashed of Rashed's Garden Center; the staff and board of the Brattleboro Housing Authority; and Todd Darrah of the Chelsea Royal Diner, each for their many contributions to our community.

Before the presentation of the Community Leader award, the Association's board president, Michael Bosworth, gave a brief "State of the Association" report. This covered activities ranging from facilitating an economic development forum in February; to putting on a chicken barbecue in May; to sponsoring beautification and other projects, many through Thompson Trust grant money; to putting on outdoor and indoor family oriented cinema events in the fall. In an important step forward, the WBA also became both a Vermont and federal non-profit in 2015.


Erin Maile O'Keefe was welcomed as a new WBA board member. Erin has been instrumental in the recent West Brattleboro community cinema events.

The WBA also took time to thank the Whetstone Valley Farm Hamilton family for their willingness to host the "Welcome to West Brattleboro" sign on their land at Cooke Road, and George and Ed Martin of Wayside Fence for mounting and installing the sign. Special recognition and a small gift were given to Stewart McDermet for his long and unwavering dedication to the "welcome sign" project.

Excellent New England House hors d'oeuvres and an enjoyable evening were had by all in attendance.

Barbara Gentry can be contacted at