Vershire ice rink prep has town ready to get out in the cold

  • Ken Bushey, left, and Gene Craft discuss strategies for building an ice rink behind the Vershire Town Center building on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Vershire, Vt. Bushey is a selectman and chairman of the town’s recreational committee, and Craft is the town clerk. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Pat Barnes and Clara Schiffling unload boards for the construction of an ice rink in Vershire on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Vershire, Vt. Schiffling is an exchange student from Germany, attending Rivendell Academy; Barnes' family is hosting her. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Jennifer Hauck

  • Volunteers work on the construction of an ice rink on a baseball field near the Vershire Town Center building on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Vershire, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/20/2021 10:03:34 PM
Modified: 11/20/2021 10:03:31 PM

VERSHIRE — On a frosty Saturday morning there were signs of regrowth as town officials and volunteers worked together to construct the frame of a new ice rink on a baseball field near the Vershire Town Center building.

This winter is slated to be the first in a few decades that the town will have its own rink. In prior winters, community members have had to leave town to travel the 10 minutes to Chelsea or 25 to Lake Morey in Fairlee for the nearest maintained ice.

The goal of the project is to encourage people to continue to gather near the Town Center as they did this summer for food truck events and to “not be cooped up,” said Ken Bushey, a selectman and chairman of the town’s recreational committee.

It took about two hours to complete the full 40- by-60-foot rectangle, using lumber purchased at a discount from Bethel Mills. A core group of six or so led by Bushey did most of the drilling, hammering and positioning, while a couple dozen others stood nearby catching up, watching kids playing on a nearby playground and in the woods, warming by a small fire, sipping coffee and nibbling on snacks.

Though it will likely be several weeks before the ice itself is ready, getting the rink ready has already brought people together.

“We have a nice community here,” said Aaron Hoopes, president of the board of VerShare, a nonprofit that sits across the street from the Town Center and is home to a hostel, library and made-in-Vershire shop. On Saturday, coffee was available on VerShare’s front stoop.

The volunteers, most wearing flannel, Carhartts, boots and hats to keep off the cold, put boards into place, using metal brackets to attach them to each other and to the ground. At times, they seemed uncertain about how best to make the boards level or remove rocks.

Volunteer Andy Dodge needled Bushey a bit, asking how many times Bushey had watched an instructional YouTube video on how to install a rink.

Bushey said, “Numerous times,” and Dodge joked, “This is a no-fail mission.”

Fellow volunteer Pat Barnes said, “We’ll learn.”

Devan Waters, who had come to help with Dodge and their two sons, Jackson Dodge, 10, and Kaleb Dodge, 5, said her family picked up skating last winter amid the pandemic as a way to get outside. She cleaned off a pond near their home last year, but now she’s looking forward to a communal spot for the winter sport.

“That’s why I live in a small town,” she said.

She has picked up skating equipment of different sizes from a Listen thrift store and also has some pucks and sticks.

“We’ve got to get hockey going,” she said.

German exchange student Clara Schiffling, a 17-year-old senior at Rivendell Academy, also was on hand to help with the rink installation.

“They seem to have a good plan,” she said. “I’m excited to see how it turns out.”

When several days of freezing temperatures are in the forecast, Bushey said, the recreational committee plans to host another workday to lay down the liner and begin adding water. He expects that will be by mid-December. Plans are also afoot to add lights around the rink’s perimeter for night skating.

Then the committee hopes to host an event there to celebrate. Bushey said he hopes the Westshire Elementary School, which Vershire children attend in nearby West Fairlee, can use the rink for its after-school program.

Other community members also have visions for how to further enhance the ice rink. Reva Seybolt, a Vershire resident serving on a newly formed Town Center Committee, said the committee is considering creating a place to store equipment and wood; and a shelter to huddle under on cold, windy days.

Seybolt said that her committee is working to sort out how the Town Center, first established in 1978, can best meet the needs of the community in a “Zoom world.”

“COVID gave us all this space to think about what do we really want,” Seybolt said.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.




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