story and photos by Doug McClure
WOLCOTT – Last Friday, the Wolcott Select Board hosted a community event to inform its residents about multiple projects the board has researched over the past months.
Members of the Wolcott Volunteer Fire Department grilled burgers (both real and veggie) and hot dogs for the crowd. Tomatoes from the just-started community garden were on hand to go with the burgers.
Select board chair Linda Martin said it was estimated about 110 people turned out. She said, “I was thrilled with the turn out. Everyone kept saying thank you for holding the event and we need to do it every year. Thank you to everyone who worked and donated to make this event a success.”
The crowd ranged from the youngest to the oldest, with lots of kids making balloon animals as their parents perused the educational information on multiple projects the select board had researched. The topics included the proposed town forest, broadband, the community garden, and wastewater. Wolcott Elementary School was on hand, with principal Matt Foster ready to answer any questions parents had. The library also opened its doors so the public could see first-hand how it was filling out its new location in the Depot.
The subjects that seemed to be the biggest draws (besides the food) were the board’s research into broadband and the town forest. Wolcott has neither of those things at this time.
The town recently joined forces with two Communications Unions Districts (CUDs) with the goal of getting broadband to town residents who currently rely on slow and unreliable DSL service, at best. Since Wolcott is located on a boundary between two CUDs, Lamoille Fibernet and NEK Community Broadband, it has joined both. Former board member Michael Davidson is the town’s alternate representative to Lamoille Fibernet and was on hand to answer questions at the event. There was typically a line waiting to speak with Davidson.
Project Manager Kate Wanner of the Vermont Trust for Public Land was at the event to field questions about the proposed Wolcott Town Forest and also drew large crowds. She had set up multiple displays and had information for residents to take with them about the potential benefits the town could realize from spending $25,000 on a town forest.
Residents also treated the educational event as a rare social opportunity in COVID times, and the weather cooperated with a beautiful early fall evening and dry skies. The majority of those in attendance were younger than typically seen the few times people attend select board meetings, and more in line with those the Census found to be the median age range of 38-40.
Martin said at the event that she was very pleased to see the “positivity” of the atmosphere.