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Hancock to vote on town hall fix

HANCOCK — Hancock residents are being asked to gather on Wednesday, Oct. 7, to decide whether to invest around $100,000 into key repairs to their historic town hall building off Route 100.
“The biggest thing is the foundation needs work,” said Hancock Selectwoman Shelley Twitchell. “It hasn’t been tended to like it should have been and it is beginning to crumble.”
Hancock’s town hall has an interesting history. The building began as a single-story meeting house, and then evolved into a place of worship, according to Twitchell. At some point, town leaders jacked up the original single-story structure and built the town hall underneath it, she said.
“It was one of the first buildings in town,” she said.
Leaders of this Route 100 community are hoping to minimize the financial impact of the project on its roughly 330 residents. To that end, the selectboard has applied for up to $50,000 in grant assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Officials will seek the remaining $50,000 through donations, fundraisers and local property taxes, according to Twitchell.
The selectboard expects to learn by next spring whether the USDA will come through with a grant for the town hall project.
If residents vote against the project on Oct. 7, Twitchell said, the selectboard will have to look at other funding sources for the work.
“We might have to do (the work) in stages,” she added.
In addition to foundation work, the town hall needs to have its sills and some clapboards replaced. The building is also in need of some interior and exterior painting, Twitchell added.
The work is expected to take 30-45 days.
“It depends on what they run into,” Twitchell added, alluding to unforeseen trouble spots that are sometimes uncovered during construction on very old buildings.
Twitchell and her colleagues would like to keep the expense, and construction time, to a minimum. The town hall is used for all major public functions, as well as for private events, such as wedding receptions.
The Oct. 7 special town meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the town hall, according to the most recent (Sept. 2) Hancock selectboard minutes.
It should be noted that town hall repairs are but one item on a busy municipal agenda in Hancock. As recently reported in the Addison Independent, the community is preparing to move its town offices from a small building on Route 125 to Hancock’s former one-room schoolhouse on Route 100. The local library is also moving into that schoolhouse, which is being repaired.
Hancock also this summer completed a slight expansion and renovation of its town green, which hosted a series of concerts and will be the location of this year’s Green Mountain Oktoberfest, slated for Saturday, Oct. 3, from noon to 5 p.m.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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