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January 2020

Looking Back & Looking Ahead

As we welcome 2020 we want to note a few of the things that happened in 2019 affecting the Tankerhoosen Valley, and some of the things Vernon has to look forward to in 2020.

With all that happens on the State and Federal level to distract us its easy to overlook, or take for granted the good things taking place in our own backyard. Listed below are just six of 2019's news stories relating to the part of Vernon we focus on - the Tankerhoosen Valley.

The next 12 months will also bring some interesting changes and events. I've picked just six to highlight, but there are others coming along too.

Next month we'll begin sending, as we do each year, newsletters with Upcoming Spring Events. In the meantime join our MeetUp Group or Facebook page for notification of upcoming events in January and February. To receive the next newsletter Join our Mailing List.

As always click on the images for a larger picture.

» Go to The Tankerhoosen website.

Jon Roe   

Remembering 2019

We've listed here 6 events that occurred last year and affected one way or another the Tankerhoosen Valley. You might have your own list for other parts of town.

1- Meetinghouse Hill Preserved

Meetinghouse Hill and 50 acres of Strong Farm pastures were preserved for future generations. With so little farmland available it was important to many in Vernon that when the properties came on the market they be protected from development. A group of residents quickly raised $1 million dollars to buy the two properties.

Then it was a five year process working with CT Farmland Trust obtaining grants to complete the buy. A fundraising drive last Summer brought contributions large and small from local people to close the remaining gap. This fall the properties were turned over to Strong Family Farm, a 501c3 organization that will continue farming the pastures and develop walking trails to welcome the public.

» Learn more about Meetinghouse Hill.

2- Vernon Earns A Silver Sustainability Rating

Vernon joined the Sustainable CT program in 2019 - towns and cities working together to improve everyone's life. Participating benefits us through its environmental impact, greenhouse gas reduction, improved health, cost savings, community economic well-being, and community climate resilience. It touches most aspects of our lives making our community a better place to live and work.

The town, and SHAUN GATELY in particular, worked through the Spring to document what we have done and plan to do to make Vernon more sustainable. We were rewarded this fall with a Silver Level Rating, the highest awarded.

The program is just the beginning of our Sustainability effort as the certification is only good for two years. To retain our certification we must continuously improve.

» Learn more about our Sustainability program and what it means to you.

3- Valley Falls Dam Reconstruction Completed

Dams require periodic work if we want to preserve our recreation areas. The dam at Valley Falls was under reconstruction beginning in August of 2018. The work included reconstruction to address the size and capacity of the spillway and installation of an ADA accessible fishing area near the spillway.

Work was completed by Spring and dedicated in June.

» See Vernon Patch photos and comments.

4- We Lose A Landmark

This fall they tore down Sacred Heart Church. Vernon's iconic pyramid was visible from I-84 and a town landmark since 1971. From its opening there were problems with the building and in 1997 it was closed due to structural problems and falling chunks of concrete.

For many years too expensive to demolish until the Sacred Heart Parish merged with St. Bernard and the property was transferred to the diocese. Then it became cost effective to take down in order to sell the property. In August the property was sold to the Strong Foundation, who will use the parish community center.

» See Vernon Patch article for more.

5- Talcottville School Preserved

The Talcottville School was built in 1880 by the Talcott Brothers for their employees families. In 1944 it was sold to the town to be used for education purposes. Over the years it has been used by various organizations for special education students and teens with behavioral problems.

More recently it was leased by the Crossroads Community Church, then as a training facility for police.

Last fall the school was purchased from Vernon by TicketNetwork to be used as an IT training center. But before that can happen a good deal of abatement work will be done with the goal of restoring the building back to its original design. They hope to have it open and operating by Fall.

That's the Strong Farm Chicken
with Scott Haney.
6- WFSB Comes To Town

On Tuesday, May 21 SCOTT HANEY and WFSB brought their '20 Towns In 20 Days' to Vernon. We turned out in force at the Henry Park Fox Hill Memorial Tower to show off Vernon. We understand it was one of the best showings they had.

The Administration got behind the visit with the Mayor and Council members on hand. In addition many of our organizations attended in force with T-shirts and flags, including Vernon Greenways Volunteers and Strong Family Farm.

What this does for Vernon and our organizations is it gives us statewide positive publicity - for free.

» See our Facebook Page for more photos.

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Looking Ahead To 2020

These are just six of the many things coming up in 2020 - some major and some minor.

1- New Vernon Communication System & Website

Vernon recognizes that how the town communicates with residents and our neighbors has not kept up with the times. Over the past year a committee representing various segments of the community have worked to define a more effective system, beginning with a new website.

A key part of our new system is the hiring of a Communication Specialist who will help design, and then maintain all the elements needed in a modern communication system. The new website has been designed and includes a town wide calendar. Interviews for our new Communication Specialist have taken place and once hired and up to speed the website will be released. A grant from the Hartford Foundation For Public Giving has helped to make this possible.

2- Rockville High School's 150th Anniversary

The Vernon Historical Society and Vernon schools have been working on this project for months. There are exhibits at the school now and a number of events and programs will take place during the year. If you are an alumni it should bring back memories.

3- Opening of Valley Falls Heritage Center

The Friends of Valley Falls have been working for two years creating a Heritage Center in the Stable at Valley Falls Farm.

Exhibits will tell about a gentleman's farm with the stories of the fascinating people who lived here - Christian Sharps, Hans Munchow, the Beach Family, and the Darico family among others. Look for tours this summer.

4- New Dog Park & Athletic Fields

The town is building a dog park in Rockville on West Street at the Saxony Mill Park site on the Hockanum River. Under the Park & Rec Department the park will include a fence, wood fiber ground surface and water fountains. Eagle Scouts are looking at adding features, toys and activities. It is hoped that a group of volunteers will help with park maintenance.

It was also announced that we are exploring the purchase of 40 acres on the Ellington line to be used as sports fields for soccer and lacrosse programs. The property is on the Hockanum River and will preserve and possibly connect to other river walking trails. A final decision will be made in 2020.

5- Dedication of Pleasantview Drive Boardwalk

This new section of the Dart Hill South Trail along the Hockanum River was constructed last year and needs just a bit of work before it is officially dedicated. It is unlike any other part of Vernon's Trail System and you can explore it now from a parking area off Pleasantview Drive.

The dedication should take place this Spring. We're very proud of our extensive trails in Vernon and this project adds to them.

6-Our TriCentennial Celebration

When the area we think of as Rockville and Vernon was first settled and incorporated in 1720 as a town we were part of the Town of Bolton. For the next 88 years we were an integral part of Bolton becoming the North Bolton Parish. Bolton is celebrating its 300th Anniversary in 2020 and it's also an opportunity to learn about and remember our early history.

» Read about the plans for our 2020 300th Anniversary.

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