Valley News – Out & About: 20 good things from the Upper Valley in 2022


When taking stock of a year, it’s really easy to focus on the challenges. As the Valley News recently highlighted with the year’s top stories in the Upper Valley, the region has grappled with affordable housing, municipal vacancies and a muddier-than-usual mud season, among others.

But we know communities are more than the challenges they face. In 2022, there were quite a few bright spots as well. In no particular order, here are 20 good things that happened in the Upper Valley in 2022:

■The volunteers, nonprofit organizations and businesses that joined together to serve Thanksgiving Day meals to hundreds of people in the Upper Valley. “I am just very happy that we’re able to do this and to give back to the community,” Shirley Jefferson, vice president of community engagement and government relations at Vermont Law and Graduate School, said in November. “So many people are lonely during that day.”

■The volunteers who are working on refurbishing Hartford’s World War I and II monuments.

■The six athletes from the Upper Valley Hawks and the five athletes from the Claremont Cool Cats who competed in the Special Olympics USA Games in Florida in June.

■Retired special educator Rick Clavelle, who created the “Arts & Voices Mural Project” to highlight the voices of those with special needs and the people who support them. “The mural is kind of a statement about that, that everyone is important, that everyone has their story to tell about themselves,” Clavelle said in October.

■Alyssa Godesky, a West Fairlee resident, set the record in July for the fastest known time summiting all 48 peaks in New Hampshire standing 4,000 feet or more above sea level. Godesky, a professional endurance sports athlete, completed the feat in three days, eight hours, 56 minutes, beating the previous women’s record by more than a full day and the men’s record by more than three hours.

■Susan Triplett, who oversees Senior Solutions’ Vet to Vet program, which pairs veterans together for companionship. “They have that buddy system that you learned in basic training, so this program kind of piggybacks on that where you don’t leave anybody behind,” she said in June.

■The city of Claremont, which completed the long-awaited reconstruction of Pleasant Street.

■Norwich resident Alexander Collins, who at 13 became the youngest champion in the history of the Vermont Open chess tournament.

■The organizations and artists that joined together to refurbish the Newport Heritage Mural. “Our biggest goal with the mural was community engagement,” Kate Luppold, director of the Library Arts Center, said in October.

■The five Upper Valley students who are serving on the inaugural Vermont State Youth Council, a group formed by the Legislature to give young people input on policies. “I wanted to get on the council because I wanted to be the change that people wanted to see in the community and to help people that needed help,” Grace Bourn, a fifth grader at Samuel Morey Elementary School in Fairlee, said in December.

■Listen Community Services Programs Director Angela Zhang was named social worker of the year by the New Hampshire Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

■The Hartford High girls lacrosse team, which won its first state championship in program history, completing a perfect season with a 10-7 victory over Vergennes-Mount Abraham on June 13.

■The opening of the Bridgewater Community Childcare center, which is providing much-needed, affordable options to parents in the area.

■Vital Communities, which launched the Upper Valley arm of the Vermont Welcome Wagon Project, to connect newcomers with people who have lived here longer. “You’re getting people to know the area; you’re helping them to build a sense of place,” Rebecca Bailey, communications manager at Vital Communities, said in March.

■Colby-Sawyer College announcing it would slash tuition by 62% beginning in 2023, easing costs for students.

■Hanover High School officially changed its mascot, adopting the Bears in early March. In May, the school unveiled a new logo to replace the previous mascot, the Marauder, which had been historically associated with sexual violence and destruction of communities. “This mascot is now something the community can come together around and fully embrace,” said Kavi Patel, one of the student chairs of the New Mascot Selection and Implementation Committee.

Julia Griffin (Hanover town manager), Van Chesnut (Advance Transit executive director), Paula Maville (Lebanon deputy city manager), Harry Ladue (Windsor High basketball coach) — and other long-serving nonprofit, town and school employees — who all retired after serving the community for decades.

■Upper Valley residents who have supported — and welcomed — refugees from Afghanistan, Ukraine and other countries.

■The town of Windsor, which in June — after years of work by volunteers — finally erected a historic marker honoring Dinah, a woman who was enslaved by a Vermont Supreme Court justice after slavery was banned by the state constitution.

■Every person who voted, volunteered or made a financial contribution to an Upper Valley organization. Your participation in community affairs is what makes the region strong.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at [email protected] or 603-727-3221.

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