ROCKINGHAM -- The mission to construct a kiosk using portions from the former Bartonsville Covered Bridge is one step closer toward becoming a reality, as the Vermont League of Cities and Towns verbally agreed to sell back a portion of the destroyed structure's remnants to Rockingham for the project.
The bridge was torn apart by floodwaters caused by Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011 and the same group of local residents that championed a campaign to rebuild it got the idea to use pieces of the former structure to build a visitor's kiosk near its replacement. Fragments of the original bridge, which was built a year after the flood of 1869 and had been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, were swept about a half-mile downriver.
Ken Canning, the director of the risk management service department at VLCT, which is Rockingham's insurance provider, told the Reformer there is an agreement that the town can take as much of the salvage as needed for the kiosk for $16,000, which is the total value of the remains. Canning explained VLCT paid Rockingham more than $1 million when the bridge was destroyed. Paying the victimized town, he said, customarily entities VLCT to take ownership of all salvage, which is sold off and helps VLCT keep costs and premiums low for all its members. Canning said 95 percent of Vermont's municipalities use VLCT as its coverage provider.
"We wanted to help the town and accommodate their desire to construct the kiosk. ... We're definitely happy to help them out," he said. "This has been an on-going conversation."
Susan Hammond, a current Rockingham Selectboard member who video-recorded the bridge's destruction and spearheaded the rebuilding campaign, said the offer is great news for advocates of a kiosk.
"I think it's great. We've been held up for a while," she told the Reformer, adding that the informal committee fighting for a kiosk wanted the project completed in the fall, though that did not happen.
Hammond, who posted her video of the bridge's destruction on YouTube, said the plan is to design he kiosk in the shape of the bridge in its former glory. She said it will feature information about the bridge's history as well as tourist attractions, including those catering to bridge and rail enthusiasts, throughout Rockingham. Hammond said she hopes the project, which will not take any tax money, will be finished by early summer.
Domenic Poli can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.