We gathered at the Vermont Granite Museum (VGM), with lunch catered by the Hilltop.  Dick gave us a pitch for the song, while Roy help up a paper flag (more on that later).  Joe offered one of his eloquent graces.


Roy proposed a fine on Ted, who was wearing a Barre Guild T-shirt.  Supposedly, when questioned as to where he got the shirt, Ted replied, “I bought it here when I was working at the Rotary Chicken Breakfast.”  He must have been the only one, as the rest of us have no recollection of that event.  Ted paid before we could vote, then offered a Happy Dollar.  He is now a grandfather 4 times over, but they are all granddaughters – no grandsons to date.


Tess proposed a fine on Obie – she was in a crosswalk when a “fancy car with Florida plates” almost hit her.  She said Joe was a witness, as he was following Obie.  Joe said the only reason he missed Tess is because he hit the break by accident.  Obie paid the fine without a vote because he missed.


Bob gave a Happy Dollar (and tried to fine VGM executive director Patty Meriam for talking in the process).  Bob said many of us struggle through our lives to find what suits us, and Roy had worked in journalism, finances, and most recently as a tour guide, but his true calling is as a flag pole (if you don’t understand, see the first paragraph.)


Mario offered a Happy Dollar – he just spent a week in the Pacific Northwest with his daughter.


President Karen reviewed the upcoming programs, and special events (see the listing at the beginning of the Chips).


Secretary Sue led us through the introduction of guests, and there were many:

  • Paul Hutchins, chair of the VGM board
  • Patty Meriam, VGM executive director
  • Norm Akley, former Barre Rotarian and member of the VGM board
  • Steve Mackenzie, Barre City Manager
  • Matte Peake, VGM board member
  • Regan Howard, with Community National Bank
  • Norma Acker, family from Houston visiting Dick
  • Steve (? – didn’t catch his last name), Rotarian visiting from Idaho Falls, who actually found us, though we were not meeting in our usual location.


It was also mentioned that Adam Martin was present, and while he is actually a member of the Club, we rarely see him!


Joe introduced our hosts, and Patty Meriam reviewed the materials she had distributed, including a timeline of activities and milestones, and a “talking points” sheet.  She invited all of us to become ambassadors for the museum.


Bob Pope, who serves on the VGM board, spoke about the history of the project and highlighted the following:

  • The idea for the museum grew out of a community economic development summit held in 1994.
  • The building was raised 4 feet and a new foundation put underneath it to get it up out of the flood plain.  The building was not affected by this year’s flooding.
  • Steel beams have been added to the building, not to hold it up, but to hold it down, so it won’t blow away in a wind storm (honest!).
  • The sides and roof of the building have been fully insulated.
  • The project, which was originally estimated to cost $12.5 million, has raised $6.5 million to date, including $1 million approved by the Barre City voters in 2000.
  • Additional funds were raised to purchase and restore the Pinsley Depot in the heart of downtown.
  • The front of the Jones Brothers building is home to the Stone Arts School, a recently installed blacksmith shop and a multipurpose room, which houses the archives.


Bob talked about the recent appearances before the City Council, where the Council was considering a request put forth by a local resident for appropriations to the VGM from the Semprebon Fund.  He said it’s important that the community support and serve as ambassadors to the project.


There was a question about the Stone Arts School (SAS), and Bob said there were concerns from local artisans that the techniques taught at the school are proprietary.  The museum is teaching other crafts such as cemetery work, and they are looking for ways to partner with other stone trades and art institutions.  One idea that has come forward is to have the carving work done at the SAS on the proposed Boy Scouts memorial.  (Talk to Kevin about this – he’ll gladly take a donation from you!).


Bob was asked what it will take to get the museum open.  He said the estimate to complete the building is $1-1.5 million, plus the cost for the displays, which could be another $2-3 million.  The board has been working to scale back the project.  The major need at the moment is on the operating side, where they want to hire someone full time to work on development.


We thanked the museum for the great presentation and for hosting our meeting today.


Judy had purchased the winning raffle ticket, but had left, so another ticket was drawn, which was held by Adam – our infrequent member.


Visit other local Rotary Clubs – it’s fun and counts as a make up