The news from Vinalhaven

By Susan Raven | Jan 17, 2013
Photo by: Susan Raven Crafters' night at Five Elements Gallery.

A January thaw is upon us which seems to be pleasing some folks and not others, as is the way with anything I suppose. Some say it’s too soon, but there’s still plenty of ice around and time for more snow. The bright sunlight of the last few days has been welcome. Road construction and building construction keeps going despite the high winds and piles of snow. Demo work is continuing on the old Engine House, the Clementine house is getting a makeover on Round the Mountain Road, and the tiny spot next to the Sand Bar has been enclosed and is getting its clapboard front.

Municipal news

A proposal is being brought to the Board of Selectmen about new rules for collecting fees at the transfer station. Currently people can pay in cash when they take their trash to the transfer station, but the new proposal is to have people pay for stickers ahead of time, pay for specific bags ahead of time, pay by check, or be billed by the transfer station. There are more details to the plan as well, and the town is looking for feedback on the proposal. To find out more and to comment, you can contact Marjorie Stratton, town manager, at 863-2042.

School events

At the Vinalhaven School the National Honor Society is starting its annual Change for Change Drive for the weeks of Jan. 14-Feb. 1, this time to benefit Stop Hunger Now. Please send in change with a student if you would like to help. In staffing news, Sarah Crossman will soon be the long-term substitute for French until May since Susan Philbrook will be out on maternity leave. Soon there will be a new elementary special education teacher to report on once that position is filled.

Business around town

I thought it would be fun to learn a little more about some of our downtown merchants who stick through the year with us, what brought them here, what motivates them, and what keeps them here. This is not a plug for any business in particular but a plug for the existence of a downtown economic model, and a way to get to know people in our community. For this first installment I talked to Alison Thibault who keeps involved in the fabric of Vinalhaven through the Vinalhaven Players, the ARCafe and other things and runs her business, Five Elements Gallery, on Main Street. Alison grew up coming here all her summers until she was 16 years old as her grandparents owned a house here, and she’s done various jobs in her life. She was a popcorn and peanuts girl at a circus, scalloped for five years out of Port Clyde and Bucksport both diving and tending, and was a banking vice president, a job she hated. In that job she knew she needed to do something different but didn’t know what it was. Her mom gave her a book titled “The Artist’s Way” and though it took her a few years to read it, when she did, it changed her life. So she quit her job, moved back to Maine, ended up losing one of a favorite pair of earrings and in trying to make a match for it found her love of jewelry making. To make a long story shorter, on a visit to see friends on Vinalhaven she saw a storefront for rent and decided to believe in a leap of faith. That was 13 years ago.

Alison’s a big advocate of a vital main street and businesses being open year round. She, like others, believes in Vinalhaven not just being a tourist island. She said she wants a “viable, year-round community” which so many people agree is a necessity. Alison realizes it’s easier for her to be open year-round than some, since she sells non-perishable goods. She believes that though we can obviously go off island to do things, “we need things for us to do here year round.” In talking to her at a recent Thursday Crafters’ Night (7 to 9 p.m., a free event where anyone is welcome to bring whatever craft they’d like to work on), Alison said “creating a space where things can happen is really fun.”

Speaking of fun, with the recent thaw, it doesn’t mean it’s too early to consider tent rentals and lobster cookouts — at least according to a recent Lions Club ad. So enjoy winter, but it’s OK to keep an eye on the future. Only two months until spring.

If you have news to share that you’d like to see in this column, please drop me a line at susan_raven@mindspring.com or leave a message at 863-4134.

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