This article by Chris Mays originally appeared April 4 in the Brattleboro Reformer.
WILMINGTON — A visit here Wednesday served as a reminder to U.S. Rep. Peter Welch of the countryside communities that need a hand in order to prosper.
“We should be reinvesting in rural America,” the Vermont Democrat told members of the Old School Enrichment Council at the former Twin Valley High School, which they are turning into a community center. “That should be the priority.”
Welch recalled coming to Wilmington after Tropical Storm Irene devastated the downtown in August 2011.
“You were down here quite a bit. We appreciate that,” Select Board member Ann Manwaring told Welch. “We’re back.”
A downtown designation for Wilmington was recently renewed by the Vermont Downtown Program for another five years.
That has been “very positive for us,” said Gretchen Havreluk, Wilmington’s economic development consultant.
Welch said the federal tax credits available in such programs are crucial for communities and are preserved in the tax bill.
Havreluk is looking to find money to help fill vacant buildings around town. Manwaring said the community center is “going to need an infusion of money.”
Council member Nicki Steel invited Welch to return once some planned renovations at the community center are complete. The town has provided funding for a roof, and a grant was recently secured for upgrading the entryway.
The plan is to fill vacant rooms with nonprofits, educational groups and artists. Currently, the Windham Southwest Supervisory Union rents office space in the building and the Twin Valley school district leases the gym and field.
Read full story at the Brattleboro Reformer.
(Fair use with written permission from the New England Newspapers Inc.)