WILMINGTON — Before approving holiday lighting for the Main Street building housing Town Offices, Selectboard members heard from two groups that have received funds only once before from a 1 percent local option tax fund.
"We've done just about everything we said we would," said Bill Hebert, a founding member of the Aging in Place initiative, referring to funding secured last year through the option tax revenue earmarked for economic and community development.
At a meeting Wednesday, Dec. 2, Hebert said a newsletter was put out bimonthly while a phone line was established for seniors needing assistance. His group is mostly about directing elderly residents to services. A resource directory is expected to be completed by the end of this month.
The group has secured space for a closet where medical equipment is kept and loaned out. They have started a Thursday morning meeting for senior men at North Star Bowl and a monthly meeting for cancer victims and their supporters at the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center. They previously collected information deemed useful to their goals and hope to conduct another survey.
"We think we know (what's needed) but we want people to tell us," Hebert said. "For instance, a trip or two to a nearby facility. Something that seniors can get together and enjoy. Not everything has to be medical. There's also the social side."
Town Nurse Jennifer Fitzgerald told the Selectboard that other towns were willing to participate. Last December, she visited other boards and said their members consider Wilmington to be the center of the Deerfield Valley. But until The Gathering Place, a Brattleboro-based adult day-service provider, finds a spot to run a satellite in or near Wilmington, her group plans to continue directing people to existing services.
Board member Susie Haughwout called for adding "more meat to the bones" to the group's funding request of $5,000, meaning more details regarding its plans for the future. That same amount was given to the group last year. The possibility of becoming a nonprofit was briefly discussed before the group agreed to come back with a clearer plan.
Friends of Memorial Hall, a non-profit organization recognized by Vermont that expects to be given 501(c)3 status or federal income tax-exemption soon, requested $1,000 more than the previous group. They too were asked to return with more details.
"The bottom line is if we want to get more let's say prestigious entertainers, it's going to cost more," said Alice Greenspan, counting nearly 800 people that last year's 1 percent funding helped bring to the historic building on Main Street. "We want to bring Memorial Hall back to its rightful place as linchpin of Wilmington."
Fundraising is going slow, said Greenspan, noting one show had operated at a loss while more money was needed than expected to rent rooms for another act's performers.
Seven groups from around New England and New York were booked through Friends of Memorial Hall. The goal is to host diverse shows, but associated with event expansion are bigger costs. Remaining money in the town's event fund, also built with 1 percent revenue, was mentioned by Haughwout.