Rockingham development director sees Meeting House as 'catalyst'

ROCKINGHAM — The Rockingham Select Board took a field trip on Tuesday to the historic Rockingham Meeting House.

More than 1,000 visitors have gone to the Meeting House the past two seasons, according to Emmet Dunbar, Rockingham's development director. This does not include the many guests who attended Roots on the River, a local music festival. At a June Select Board meeting, Dunbar had urged the board to start utilizing the Meeting House more.

The building underwent maintenance earlier this year. The entire wooden fence surrounding the graveyard was repaired and painted, as were most of the windows, the main door and entrance way, the alarm system and the two outbuildings, which were also cleaned. In addition, two Route 103 road signs were repurposed and are now being used at the east and west entrances of the Meeting House. One of the new additions to the house is a museum corner that contains some historic items like a period piece chest.

The building, however, needs more maintenance.

At a previous Select Board meeting, board members expressed concern about the building's plastering. Dunbar said two experts who came to evaluate the building said the ceiling was the most important repair that needed to be made. There are some cracks in the ceiling, he said.

Dunbar is also excited about more collaboration between Meeting House managers and Vermont Country Store.

"I'm looking forward to Rockingham Meeting House being a catalyst with Vermont Country Store for all economic development," Dunbar said. Originally he dreamed of making a walking trail to connect the two, but that dream was crushed when he realized the expense.

In addition to Roots on the River, the Meeting House has been utilized by several wedding parties and the Friends of the Rockingham Meeting House made their annual pilgrimage on Aug. 6.

Dunbar would like to see the building promoted more, and eventually would like to see ground lighting installed. He emphasized the importance and beauty of such a structure. "Not a single view in here is developed," he said.

- In other news, Cass Wright will be stepping up as Rockingham Tree Warden, following the resignation of Raymond Perry. Perry said it had been a pleasure to serve as tree warden but that he needed to resign for "personal reasons."

- Steven & Associates has been contracted to evaluate the roof of the Bellows Falls Opera. The company will form a plan to fix the roof, provide an energy audit and mechanical review, and help evaluate and send out bids to contractors.

- Featherstone Kennels was named town pound, but Select Board members worried about what will happen to the town constable. The constable is a position that might be defunded by Bellows Falls. Police Chief Ron Lake currently holds it. He's called whenever a stray animal is found in the town to control the situation.

"He won't do snakes," Select Board member Anne DiBernardo said. The topic of animal control was pushed to be further discussed in a later meeting.

Harmony Birch can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 215.


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