Look back: 2012 News in Review

MANCHESTER - A roundabout started and just about finished. A new Park House under construction at the Rec Park. New streetlights and sidewalks on Main Street. Quite a bit has happened over the past year and it seems fitting to bring all the events and developments that have provided significant impacts in the area together just to see how things have changed. Since the world didn't end along with the ending of the Mayan calendar it seems appropriate to punctuate the start of the new year with the top ten stories of 2012.

The following major local events chosen here are listed in no particular order.

The center of Manchester underwent a face-lift as the town threw away "Malfunction Junction" and welcomed a new and improved roundabout system. The two roundabouts were aimed to provide an improved travel system to the downtown area while also providing Manchester with a much more beautiful center of town.

The project wasn't slated to be completed until sometime in 2014 when the project first began. The implementation of night construction moved the completion date to November 2013. The town then began an accelerated schedule that bumped the date of completion to June 2013. The roundabouts are drivable now and with only smaller punch list items left to be finished sometime next year it looks as if the project is a success.

To go along with Manchester improvement projects, the new park house at the Dana L. Thompson Memorial Park began on September 10, when the demolition of the old park house began.

Since then, the park house as been worked on throughout the winter as the building has started to take shape. Improvements that go along with the new building include a "community room" that will give the Rec park an opportunity to schedule more events and give the community a place to go for things such as club events and birthday parties. Also, with an improved locker room area the idea is for the park house to be a draw for potential sports tournaments.

The Dorset Crime Watch made headlines after a burglary problem hit the Dorset area. The crime watch program began the night of the first meeting at the Dorset Church on Sept. 19 when residents of Dorset joined together to form teams that would report any suspicious activity to the State Police. The crime watch program used a manual created by the United States Department of Justice to base there program on.

Nicholas D. Bell, of Manchester, pleaded no contest to manslaughter, simple assault with a weapon, and reckless endangerment in June after accidentally killing his friend as part of a prank that went tragically wrong on Thanksgiving Day more than two years ago. Bell was expected to serve 12 months on a 12 to 24 month suspended sentence. He will be on probation for seven years.

The Sirloin Saloon closed its doors in December of 2011. During a Nov. 14 Development Review Board meeting Dorset Development LLC proposed a new mixed-use use building to replace the existing Sirloin Saloon. An auction followed as the contents inside the building were sold to any community member who wished to have them. Demolition of the current building was approved by the Town of Manchester with a contingency that Dorset Development LLC receives the proper permits from the State.

HEI Equinox L.L.C filed an application to demolish the Equinox Opera House in February. According to a building assessment completed by Sheerr McCrystal Palson Architecture, Inc. in September 2011, the building presents a fire hazard and does not have sprinklers or an alarm system, among other problems.

In July a meeting was held to save to Opera House and was spearheaded by The Preservation Trust of Vermont. They would explore ways of obtaining funding to make the necessary repairs to the building and many members of the community seemed to be in favor of the idea. It was estimated that the cost to repair the building would be about $1.7 million plus some additional costs that would be about $400,000.

The Manchester and the Mountains Chamber of Commerce made its move across town to Bonnet Street and an expanded Visitors Center where they hope to be better suited to provide information to guests and residents of Manchester. After nearly two years of planning the Chamber opened their doors to the public on October 31.

The new building has two stories with the downstairs being primarily a visitor's center filled with local art, brochures from local businesses, and televisions to make the visitor feel welcomed. The upstairs is comprised of the Chamber's offices and a conference room that may be used by the public upon request.

The move to the new building cost in excess of $100,000, funded by corporate sponsors, according to Maginniss and was designed by The McBride Company.

The Village Country Inn was approved for demolition back in December of 2011. In April 2012 an application to build a three-story, 80 room Hampton Inn at the location was denied in a unanimous vote by the Manchester Village Development Review Board.

The Habitat for Humanities project on Jennifer Lane has been in and out of the news throughout the 2012 year. Habitat received the necessary permits to build 22 homes on Jennifer Lane and work on the project began in October 2011 with the first home being dedicated in early May 2012.

Vermont Traditional Builders will build up to 11 of the 22 homes on Jennifer Lane.

Right at the end of the year, a rare shooting incident occurred in Manchester, when Donald Ely-Gardner, 27, was the victim in a shooting in Manchester on December 30. He was shot in the chest and then taken to the police department by his friend. From there he was transported to Southern Vermont Medical Center by the Manchester Rescue Squad. Gardner was then air-lifted to Albany Medical Center where he was in critical but stable condition.


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