Backpack Project to return Aug. 13

By Erik Pekar, Town Historian

An annual community program makes its return this month. The 16th annual Backpack Project will be held Saturday, Aug. 13. It will be held at the Granville Baptist Church at 23 Quaker Street, from 9 a.m. to noon. The event is open to students of the Granville Central School District, the Wells Village School and the Mettawee Community School. It is open to all grades within those schools, from pre-kindergarten up through 12th grade.

The founder and leader of the Backpack Project is Ann Schinski, who started the effort in 2006 in memory of her late husband Steve Schinski. She spends time over the winter and spring getting the next year’s program ready. In recent years, the program has attracted about 200 to 300 children.

The day of the backpack project is busy. However, it is run in an organized manner, which Schinski likened to “a well-oiled machine”. The doors open, and children accompanied by a parent enter to gather the necessary school supplies. They choose a backpack, sized appropriately for the child’s age group. The child and parent then look over several tables of school supplies to get what they need, and the supplies are placed in the backpack. Several volunteers are also on hand. Every child leaves with a full backpack.

Donations are received throughout the year from local businesses, organizations and individuals. These monetary donations go towards the cost of buying backpacks and school supplies. Checks can be sent to The Backpack Project, c/o Ann Schinski, 5075 Vermont Route 31, Poultney, VT 05764. Those seeking to volunteer, or interested in more info, can contact Schinski at 802-236-4726. Thank you to Ann Schinski and all are involved with the Backpack Project for putting together, or supporting, this community minded endeavor, which has helped many a child in need over the years.

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The long-awaited repaving of Main Street occurred last week. Main Street was milled in its entirety Monday, July 25, from the Main Street bridge to the east side of the intersection with North Street. Last year’s milling revealed a lot of the 1914 brick layer, primarily between Potter Avenue and the Main Street bridge, along with a smaller section on East Main Street west of Slocum Avenue. This year, almost none of the brick layer appeared after milling, outside of a small patch of brick surfacing near the rail trail crossing. There was no work done on Tuesday, although the sunny weather would have been more than cooperative to paving efforts.

Main Street was paved in its entirety the following day, July 27. The weather cooperated, and the sun shone all day. Paving started early in the morning, first paving the westbound lane from the bridge to East Main Street, then the eastbound lane back down to the bridge. The road was kept open to one-lane traffic. At the end of the project, the yellow center lines were painted, along with the crosswalks. The road reopened as usual around 6 p.m. The section of Route 149 was originally slated to be repaved last year along with the rest of the highway between Route 22 and the Vermont state line; it was delayed to this year due to funding issues.

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Last month saw the return of “From the Files” features to both the Sentinel and the Times, which has been suggested off and on for some years. The Sentinel previously had a “From Our Files” feature as far back as the early 1940s. Originally, it printed news items of 50 and 25 years prior. When 1951 came around, this was no longer feasible, as 1901 is a year of the “lost era” where the archive issues of the Sentinel did not survive. As a result, the intervals changed to 25 and 10 years. In 1955, 40 years prior was added, as 1915 was the first full year to have surviving archival issues since 1900. The 40-25-10 interval continued until circa 1982. At that time the writing of new files features ended, and older entries from the 1960s were reprinted. A new attempt was made at the series around 1999 and 2000, with subheadings and extra details. The Times, by the late 1940s, had a “From the Files” feature that printed news items of 30, 20, and 10 years prior. This was still present in the early 1970s but was eventually discontinued.

Starting with the July 14 issue this year, companion features called “From the Sentinel Files” and “From the Times Files” have been printed weekly in both papers. “Sentinel Files” has news items from the Granville Sentinel of 75, 50, and 25 years ago. “Times Files” has news items from the Whitehall Times of 75 and 50 years ago; the lack of the 25-year interval is due to not having an arrangement to access those issues. It is hoped that these features will follow in the footsteps of their counterparts of more than 40 years ago and become popular mainstays in both papers.

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The closing of July marks a milestone for this writer, as the “Granville Then & Now” column has been written continuously in the Sentinel for two years. Over this time, many topics have passed through this column, including historical retrospectives, reminisces of years gone by, current events, modern day interviews, and the infrequent constructive suggestions of how certain aspects of Granville could be improved to better the way of life in this community. We take this time to note that everything written in this column has been of this writer’s own choice; no one has “forced” or “influenced” the writing of any topic, neither historical topics nor current events.

Already in the two years of writing our column, there has been history in the making. We have seen the changing of events, businesses, and the landscape of the area. Several historic columns have been written, such as the correct spelling of the Mettowee River name, the women who have been elected or appointed to public office in Granville since the time of women’s suffrage, the businesses of Middle Granville and West Pawlet in the 1900s, a three part series on the Granville Masonic Lodge, the Church Street bridge; two retrospectives relating to World War II, with quotes from a letter by Robert B. Hicks of his first-hand account of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and quotes from an interview with John Norton relating to the end of the war; a single biographical retrospective, on the same John Norton, former business owner and longtime civic leader.

The outlook is much the same as the past two years, although there are more historical articles in the works that will be of interest when they appear in this column. Suggestions or comments regarding the column are welcome. Thank you to all who have read “Granville Then & Now” over the past two years; there’s more on the way.