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Bottom Line: Is it time for Upper Valley to salute the green, blue and white?

  • John Lippman. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Business Writer
Published: 7/4/2020 9:39:45 PM
Modified: 7/4/2020 9:39:43 PM

Should the Upper Valley rally around its own flag?
A Lyme resident and amateur vexillologist — that’s someone who studies the history and symbolism in flags — has designed a tri-color flag to represent the Upper Valley.

“Now more than ever we need symbols to rally around that bring people together,” explains the project’s website.

But while flags can unite, they can also polarize. They are frequently freighted with political connotations, regardless (or even because of) their original meaning. Not surprising that the idea of an Upper Valley flag raises some hackles.

Greg Stone, who grew up in Fairlee, graduated from Hanover High School in 1995 and is now a mechanical designer at Creare in Hanover, has launched an online fundraising campaign to pay for the manufacture of the green, blue and white flag, which he hopes local merchants would sell in stores.

“I just thought the Upper Valley, being a unique community, this just kind of made sense,” Stone said about his Upper Valley flag idea. “I’m not seeing this as a political symbol.”

The color bars that go progressively from dark to light represent green for Vermont as the Green Mountain State, blue for the Connecticut River and white for New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

“You look at the map and you see that flag,” Stone said.

“The Upper Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire is a very distinct community defined much more by the Connecticut River than any current political border,” he wrote in a recent listserve post. “Residents in Fairlee and Norwich feel much closer to Orford and Hanover than they do to Montpelier and Burlington and conversely, Lyme and Plainfield residents feel closer to Thetford and Windsor than Concord or Portsmouth.

“No matter which side of the river people live on, residents of the Upper Valley live their lives in both states.”

Stone, in an interview, said he’s always been fascinated by flags “for as long as I can remember” — and he has firm opinions about them.

Some may remember Stone for his quixotic 2010 campaign to get the Vermont Legislature to redesign the state flag on the grounds that its state-seal-against-a-blue-background makes it indistinguishable from more than two dozen other state flags.

“That ran into quite a bit of pushback, as you might imagine,” Stone acknowledged.

Stone estimates he needs to raise about $4,500 to bring the cost of the 5-by-3-foot flag down to about $30 each. Contributors to the online campaign would receive a replica sticker of the flag that could be displayed on a car.

Carl Gurtman, president of the New England Vexillological Association, said there are some general rules about what makes for good contemporary flag design.

He points to the Chesapeake Bay Flag Associations’ simple two-tone blue, double stripe, five star banner as reflecting good flag design.

“Keep it simple. Simple is good,” Gurtman advises.

“Most state flags are indistinguishable from each other. You don’t want a lot of details and coat of arms that no one can see, lettering that is too small to read,” he said.

According to NEVA, a handful of Vermont municipalities have adopted their own flag, including Burlington, Montpelier, Winooski, Monkton, Chester and Ludlow.

Fourteen municipalities in New Hampshire have their own flag (although none in the Upper Valley).

The term “Upper Valley” was coined (ahem) by this newspaper some seven decades ago to attract advertisers and was once termed a “marketing ploy” by a former Valley News editor.

One definition of “Upper Valley” encompasses the region surrounding the Connecticut River from Claremont/Newport in the south, Bradford, Vt., in the north, New London in the East and Woodstock/Bridgewater in the West.

Some extend the definition to include farther towns such as Randolph, Woodsville, Dorchester and Springfield, Vt.

Still, the idea of a flag that represents the “Upper Valley” — something of an amorphous concept and not a historical geographic place-name like Death Valley, Shenandoah Valley or Delaware Valley — makes some folks in the Upper Valley uncomfortable.

“This is just one more example of people trying to make themselves separate and above others,” said Honey Donegan, a Quechee resident who took to the Upper Valley Listserv to register her view.

Donegan elaborated on her opposition in an interview.

“We live under the flag of Vermont,” she said. “Why do we need to create a new thing that says, ‘This part’ of Vermont and ‘this part’ of New Hampshire? We live in such divisive times, and an Upper Valley flag is just another way of putting people in a box.”

Vermont Legislator Jim Masland, D-Thetford, while noting that he “doesn’t want to belittle the guy,” questioned the purpose of a regional flag.

“The Upper Valley concept is something we carry within ourselves, and I don’t think we need a flag to convey our allegiance or affinity with the Upper Valley,” said Masland, who grew up in Hanover.

Stone acknowledges that there are people who may read their own politics as well as political fears into the flag, even though his design is not conceived to represent any particular political philosophy.

“You can’t control what people think,” Stone said. But the Upper Valley flag is “inclusive” and “for everybody.”

Still, Stone said he’s already “received some pretty nasty” emails from people who don’t like the idea of an Upper Valley flag.

That comes with the turf.

“I’m used to it as this point having gone through it with the Vermont flag,” he said.

Ziggy’s location wants a slice of Enfield

Ziggy’s Pizza, which has locations in West Lebanon and Sunapee, is opening a third pie place in Enfield — and at a key Route 4 location that has sat vacant since losing two longtime businesses in recent years.

Owner and Plainfield resident Dan Proulx posted on Ziggy’s Facebook page that the new Ziggy’s, to be located near Pellegrino’s market at 505 Route 4 in Enfield where the Movie Market video store and Family Pharmacy were located before each business closed, that the pizzeria’s “design (will) incorporate elements never before seen in our W. Lebanon and Sunapee locations.”

Proulx didn’t respond to messages to tell me more about the expansion plan, but he also posted that his pizza business is growing and he’s hiring.

“All positions are available,” he said.

The Baited Hook appears to be swallowed

Meanwhile, a few miles away and on the other side of Mascoma Lake, popular lakeside restaurant The Baited Hook has not opened this season and appears permanently closed — the restaurant’s website has disappeared and the phone has been disconnected.

The Baited Hook was always much-appreciated by locals, summer residents and tourists for its fried clams, fish tacos, “smash burgers” and caramelized onion grilled cheese sandwich.

Owner Patty Carroll, of Norwich, did not return messages seeking comment.

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Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.




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