Great Flood of 1927 recalled; school chief will not return; no solar panels on City Hall


11/1/2012 - Vol. 1 No. 9
E-News for Winooski in English, French & Arabic
E-mailed first & third Thursdays / Guy Page, editor & publisher
winooskibridge@yahoo.com / On Facebook go to “Winooski Bridge”
or go to blog at http://thewinooskibridge.blogspot.com/

Editor's note: the Bridge is having translator problems. The tri-lingual version will be posted asap.

85 years ago this week, Great Flood 0f 1927 destroyed Winooski Bridge, flooded Champlain Mill

This past week, Winooski and the rest of Vermont held its breath, expecting the worst from Superstorm Sandy. When asked Thursday Nov. 1 if any damage occurred in Winooski, a city police department spokesperson answered with a flat “no.” Like most of Vermont, Winooski had dodged Mother Nature’s worst blows.

Eighty-five years ago this week, exactly the reverse occurred. A natural disaster of unprecedented proportions descended with little warning on Winooski and elsewhere.  The Great Flood of Nov. 3-4, 1927 raged the length of the Winooski and Connecticut Rivers, wreaking storm-related death and destruction unknown. According to Vermont Historical Society historian Paul Carnahan, 85 Vermonters died, 55 in the Winooski River basin alone, 9,000 were left homeless, and property damage topped $30 million in 1927 dollars. Lt. Gov. Hollister Jackson was among the fatalities.

In Winooski, the river flooded the Champlain Mill and destroyed the Winooski Bridge. A stunning photograph on the Lake Champlain Basin Project website  shows the furious river at grade level with the Main St., Winooski Bridge, with the Champlain Mill looming behind. It’s the same bridge depicted, on a calmer 1927 day, on the face page of www.thewinooskibridge.blogspot.com.

According to one historical account, “After three straight days of rain, workers crossing the bridge on the morning of November 4 noted that the river was only three feet below the roadway ‘and coming up fast.’ At 9 a.m. waves began crashing over the bridge. Police stopped all pedestrian and automobile traffic. Water coursed through the ground floors of the mill buildings that lined the river. At 3 p.m. the bridge collapsed and was swept downriver.”

Ray Collins of Colchester, a star pitcher for the Boston Red Sox in the early 1900’s, was the last person to drive across the bridge before the river swept it away, according to his son, Dr. Ray Collins Jr., now of Middlebury. A Colchester Center dairy farmer, Collins was trying to drive his daily milk to a Burlington dairy when a policeman warned him to not cross. The man whom Detroit Tigers star Ty Cobb called the toughest pitcher he ever faced had already decided that nothing like a flood would stand between him and a daily milk check. Collins reportedly said, “I’m crossing that bridge,” and such was his personal determination and presence that the policeman allowed him to cross – safely, as it turns out.

Stunning photos of the damage inflicted by the Great Flood in Winooski and elsewhere can be seen at this University of Vermont digital archive.  Images include a screenshot from a movie made using actual footage from the 1927 flood. It shows the pontoon bridge actually in use after it was erected by the Army to temporarily replace the Winooski-Burlington bridge that was wiped out in the flood.


No City Hall solar panels  – this year; luxury-high rise construction underway

The City Council will not contract with a solar power construction firm, SunCommon, to erect solar panels on the south face of City Hall.

The concept is appealing but some of the financial specifics needed addressing, city officials said in October. However, the door was left open for reconsideration of a solar project at a future date.

Construction is underway, however, for the 72 unit luxury high-rise apartment Riverhouse project along the Winooski River waterfront boardwalk, just east of the Cascades building. After receiving the green light from the City Council this fall, Riverhouse developers Catamount/youkel LLC broke ground within a week. Completion is expected by September, 2013. The principals are Doug Nedde and Alain Youkel.

Not so fast with the big tax bill, city tells State Auditor

The City of Winooski does not owe the $1.5 million tax bill the Vermont State Auditor says it owes, according to a statement issued Oct. 18 by City Manager Katherine “Deac” Decarreau.

State Auditor Tom Salmon says the city has underpaid $1.5 million in education property taxes because it miscalculated the amount of “Tax Increment Financing” incentive. Use of this incentive allows municipalities developing downtown business districts to keep for themselves some property tax revenue that would otherwise have gone to the state education fund.

Deac says the city has followed all of the state’s advice and guidelines about the TIF, and that it doesn’t owe the $1.5 million. Although the two parties would appear to be in a stand-off, Auditor Salmon is not seeking re-election and it is unknown whether either of the two major candidates for auditor, Vince Illuzzi or Doug Hoffer, will pursue the issue when he takes office in January.

City Manager Decarreau took the opportunity to plug Winooski’s progress in attracting high-tech employers to the redeveloped downtown:

“The State of Vermont is seeking to expand our technology industries. The Governor is rightfully proud of the knowledge workers who find their way to Vermont – or back home to Vermont – and take high paying, yet unfilled jobs at places like MyWebGrocer, Biotech, Reading First, Fuse Marketing, SemiProbe, and the many other regional employers. Many of these people find the urban lifestyle available in Winooski attractive for our location and walkability.

“Our new downtown is able to house a large, diverse group of people in a relatively small area around a gorgeous waterfront served by pristine hiking trails. This project, awarded for its Smart Growth principles, saves the green country side and allows us to welcome (or welcome back) more people to Vermont while maintaining our signature countryside. We are committed to finishing the project.”

School superintendent not seeking contract renewal

According to the minutes of the Oct. 10 school board meeting, Supt. Mary Lundeen will not be seeking contract renewal after June 30, 2013 – the end of the current school year. After a letter announcing this news was read to the board, Chair Mike Decarreau said on behalf of the board he appreciates Mary’s service to the school district.

In other news, the school district continues to search for a webmaster for the district’s website. After a public comment at the Oct. 10 meeting saying the district’s web page is in disarray – for example, no information could be found on one of the school principals – Supt. Lundeen said at present several people are posting to the website, and a job description for a new webmaster is being put together. In the meantime, Sandy Metevier is a contact for those wishing to have information on the site.

Also, The Partnership for Change hopes to have a final draft on its planning document by next June. Actions plans were scheduled to be on the district website by the end of October. A major objective of the document is to include broad stakeholder support in defining graduation expectations.

Good readers dress down at St. Francis

Saint Francis Xavier School recently recognized summer readers in grades kindergarten through sixth by rewarding them with one of the time honored prizes of a Catholic school: a Dress Down Day.

School Librarian Kathleen Finn was pleased that so many students not only maintained a regular routine of reading throughout the summer months, but took the time to document their efforts. “We always emphasize that learning and reading never go on vacation, so we offer an incentive for our students to keep doing both throughout the summer. Those students who had documented their summer reading activity were allowed to wear non-uniform attire for one day of school, which is an easy and fun way to reward their reading efforts.”

Saint Francis Xavier School was founded in 1862 and offers academic excellence to students from Pre-Kindergarten to eighth grade.  The school community is celebrating its 150th anniversary this school year.

Teen Center offers tutoring, free dinners, Harvest Dance

Located at the O’Brien Community Center on Malletts Bay Avenue, the Winooski Teen Center's operations are in full swing for the fall semester. The center is offering tutoring on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 3-5:30 pm and 6:30-8 pm. Also, there are free dinners for youth and teens on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30 pm.  Drop-in hours for high school age youth take place on Wednesday from 6-9 pm and Friday 6-11 pm. 

A special event November 16, from 8-11 pm for high school age youth, will be a Harvest Dance.  We would love to see you down at the O'Brien Community Center taking part in our teen center programming!  Any inquiries for additional information or questions can be directed to Sarah at americorpstwo@winooskivt.org or (802) 655-1392 ext. 10.

Library will move to former Good Luck Market site

Later this year, the Winooski Memorial Library will take residence in the former location of the Good Luck Market, next to the YMCA, on Malletts Bay Avenue. The space is currently being remodeled to accommodate the library. Stay tuned for a grand opening date.

The lighting is being upgraded, windows are being added and carpeting is being installed. The librarian and Library Advisory Board are considering upgrades to the furniture and shelving. Though the new space will have less square footage than the current space, the new location offers many exciting possibilities, including working closely with the adjacent Community Center and the many agencies already housed there.

A book sale was recently held to help raise funds for new equipment, over $350 was raised. Books are still for sale at the library, now located in the Champlain Mill.

The staff encourages all Winooski residents to obtain a library card. With a library card, patrons have access to books, audio books, DVDs, magazines and interlibrary loan service. Patrons can also access our online services, including: Our online catalog;  downloadable audio books and e-books; Mango Languages, an online language learning program offering more than 40 foreign language courses and 15 English language courses for speakers of other languages; Universal Class, which offers online classes covering a wide variety of topics for personal and professional growth. To sign in to Universal Class enter 2VSRA00000XXXX, use your 4-digit library card number in place of the X’s.

To obtain a library card, just bring a piece of mail, personal identification or a lease to show residency, to the library. Library hours are Tuesday 10-7, Wednesday 3-7, Thursday 10-6, Friday 10-6, and Saturday 10-1. For more information call 655-6424.

Free flu shots and more at Winooski Health Fair Nov. 10

Winooski residents may receive free flu shots, blood pressure checks, glucose tests, and more on Saturday, November 10, at the Winooski Health Fair. The fair will be held from 9 am – noon at the O’Brien Community Center (32 Mallets Bay Avenue) and will feature fun and informative health-related activities and materials for both adults and children.

The health fair is supported by the University of Vermont, the Visiting Nurse Associations of America, and the Winooski Coalition for a Safe and Peaceful Community.


Nov. 1 – Parent/Technology meeting in high school library, 6:30 pm.

Nov. 7 – Monthly meeting of Winooski Coalition, 6-7 pm at the O’Brien Community Center on Malletts Bay Avenue. Discuss current projects, including public health and civic engagement initiatives. Every meeting is free and open to the public.

Nov. 10 – Health Fair, 9 am – noon, at the O’Brien Community Center at 32 Malletts Bay Avenue. Free flu shots, blood pressure and glucose tests etc.

Nov. 14 - Sit down with the community for a free evening of togetherness and holiday spirit at the Winooski School District Cafeteria on Normand Street. Dinner will be served from 5:30 to 7:00. As always, all are welcome to attend. Please be aware that, although the WCSPC’s Community Dinners normally take place on the third Wednesday of the month, November’s dinner will be a week early to avoid conflict with the Thanksgiving holiday.

Nov. 14 – school board meeting, 6:30 pm, high school.

Nov. 16 – Teen Center Harvest Dance at O’Brien Center, 8 – 11 pm, for high school age students.

Nov. 17 - 30th annual Winooski P.T.O. Craft Fair will be held at the Winooski Educational Center 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Click HERE for more information.

Nov. 18 – WWII history author Joseph Covais will discuss his book, “Battery! C. Lenton Sartain and the Airborne GIs of the 319th Glider Field Artillery”, noon to 1:30 pm at the Winooski Senior Center. Before losing his vison, Mr. Covais produced precise replica clothing for museums, historic sites, and the movie industry. Today he teaches psychology classes at CCV and works as a psycho-therapist for blind and visually impaired persons. He holds a masters degree in clinical psychology from St. Michaels College. “Battery!” is his first book, but he has authored numerous articles on clothing, photography, and military history.

New to the Winooski Bridge: past issues posted on blog

The number of subscribers to the Winooski Bridge, Winooski’s community e-newspaper published twice monthly, grows daily. Anyone interested in receiving each issue by email is encouraged to write to winooskibridge@yahoo.com and request this free service. Also, the Bridge now offers archives of most (but not all) past issues on www.thewinooskibridge.blogspot.com. The Winooski Bridge Facebook site also will be maintained at a basic level, but the blog page is easier for tech-challenged editor and publisher Guy Page to maintain, and offers a more “newspapery” appearance and readability than Facebook.

The Winooski Bridge blog also features Winooski weather forecasts and links to popular Winooski websites, such as the Winooski Memorial Library. Other new features include at least one current photo of Winooski life in the upper right hand corner.

Planned new features include a FREE Winooski business and community services directory. Winooski-only businesses and community services wishing to be listed are encouraged to send their business name, type of business, address, phone, website, and (optional) email address and fax number to: winooskibridge@yahoo.com. Inquiries may be sent to the same email address.