Rutland was always a part of Andrea Mead Lawrence, and now her legacy in the city is carved in stone.
The latest of the downtown marble statues, unveiled Friday on Merchants Row near the intersection with Center Street, depicts the late Lawrence in her prime, tearing down a ski slope. At its base is a quote from Lawrence that sculptor Steve Shaheen, who oversaw the project, said inspired the artists working on it: “There are few times in our lives when we become the thing we are doing.”
“That saying at the bottom was how she lived her life,” said Lawrence’s son, Matthew Lawrence, his voice occasionally quavering with emotion. “Every endeavor she attempted was in that spirit.”
Lawrence was born in 1932 to the family that founded the Pico Mountain ski area — for which they are being inducted into the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum Hall of Fame on Saturday.
“That family was iconic when I was growing up at MSJ,” Mayor David Allaire said.
At the age of 19, Lawrence captained the U.S. women’s ski team at the 1952 Olympics. She won two gold medals at the 1952 games, a feat no skier has replicated at a single Olympics.
“The city of Rutland was so proud of her,” Allaire said. “It threw a big parade in her honor. It gave the city a sense of renewed optimism. That renewed optimism is, I think, here with us today.”
Lawrence’s athletic career was followed by one in environmental conservation, for which she was honored in 2013 — four years after her death — by having a mountain in California named after her.
“Most people from Rutland know who Andrea Mead Lawrence is,” said Mark Foley, one of the sponsors of the effort to decorate downtown Rutland with sculptures illuminating the region’s history. “Those of us who are skiers grew up skiing at Pico, and it’s because of her.”
John Casella, another sponsor, said it was a pleasure to recognize the Mead family.
“Sue and I have six children, and all six of them learned to ski at Pico,” he said. “It’s a lifelong spirit they’re going to carry for the rest of their lives, and we have Pico to thank for that.”
The carving follows one depicting local Revolutionary War hero Anne Story and will be followed next week by one honoring the 54th Massachusetts Regiment — the first African-American unit of the U.S. Army.
Shaheen oversaw a team of Italian sculptors who carved the Lawrence piece from a large marble block, following a smaller model created by Kellie Pereira. Pereira said she looked at a lot of old photos of Lawrence during her research.
“Photos from that time were not necessarily clear and there weren’t very many,” she said. “I spent a lot of time on the internet looking at photos of her.”
Pereira researched period ski equipment and attire as well.
“I went down a rabbit hole,” she said. “I had a lot to learn.”
Pereira was able to depict old-style ski boots and bindings and even managed to get a faint pattern onto the carving to represent the plaid socks Lawrence wore.
“This would mean the world to my mom,” Lawrence’s daughter, Quentin Andrea Lawrence, said. “She used to say her soul was in Vermont, her spirit was in the West. Her love of sport, her love of mountains, all started here in Rutland, Vermont. It was nurtured here and she brought it with her wherever she went.”
A $500,000 federal grant will let Mentor Connector double its overall operations, Executive Director Chris Hultquist said Friday.
“We received $500,000 as a three-year grant to increase 180 mentor matches over the next three years,” Hultquist said.
Mentor Connector matches youth between the ages of 15 and 21 to volunteer mentors who help them develop life skills and “educational curiosity,” while preparing for the workforce. Hultquist said the grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Prevention supplements a $100,000 grant the organization got earlier this year from the Bowse Health Trust. The funds will be applied entirely toward Mentor Connector’s new program working with families in which a member has an opioid abuse problem.
“The initial idea was, we wanted to provide mentoring for youth who were addicted and going through treatment,” Hultquist said. “Unfortunately, one of the things we ran into is youth in that age range, 16-20, who are going through treatment are often too volatile to be placed with a mentor.”
So Hultquist said, they pivoted toward prevention, designing a program to work with children in families in which another member has an addiction problem. Hultquist said those children are among the highest risk groups to become addicts themselves. One mentor is assigned to the family unit as a whole, and then each child in the family gets an individual mentor. The mentors work on social and emotional support, goal-setting and resilience skills.
After a year working with three families, Hultquist said, they are ready to expand.
“We have preliminary data,” he said. “We know it’s increasing their connection to the community and that it’s increasing their social and emotional skill-building.”
Hultquist said they plan to recruit 70 new volunteer mentors in the next year. Would-be mentors must be fingerprinted for a background check and undergo a three-month training. Aside from that, Hultquist said, the only other solid requirement is a willingness to put in at least an hour a week of mentoring.
“They need a heart for the community,” Hultquist said. “We spend some significant time in the matching process. We match people pretty well. We have just over a four-year average match length. The national average is nine months.”
More information about becoming a mentor is available at mentorconnector.com.
PROCTOR — Two former Vermont Marble Co. buildings were sold Friday, but only one officially through auction.
The building at 61 Main St. was sold to Watkins Building and Roofing Specialist for $16,500. Owner Fred Watkins said he hopes to turn the 30,500-square-foot building into some sort of affordable or senior housing complex.
The parcel at 39 Main St., and part of 61 Main St., were sold outside the auction to parties that requested their identities, and what they paid, not be disclosed, said Mike Carey, of Tranzon Auction Properties. Tranzon conducted the auction on behalf of College of St. Joseph, which owned the buildings.
Once the sales are recorded with the town clerk, the parties and what they paid will become public.
The properties were donated to CSJ by their previous owner, Omya Inc., in 2014. The college planned to use them for a physician’s assistant program that never got off the ground. The college has been facing financial difficulties lately and after having the properties listed with a realtor for about two years, decided to sell them at auction, according to CSJ President Jennifer Scott.
About 40 people showed up for the auction, though only two entered bids. Carey said since no registered bidder said they wished to purchase the buildings as a pair, they’d be auctioned off separately. He began with 39 Main St., asking for $100,000. He kept lowering the bid until Joe Casella, of Casella Construction, bid $5,000. After receiving no other bids, Carey moved on to 61 Main St., receiving a $10,000 bid from Watkins.
After several more minutes of no one else bidding, Carey called for a break. Over the next 40 minutes or so, most of those who’d gathered had left. When the auction opened up again, Carey said the 61 Main St. lot had been broken up, that it would no longer include the front parking lot. Watkins had agreed to increase his bid to $15,000 (plus fees), and the auction for 61 Main St. proceeded to its conclusion.
What followed was another long break, during which Carey announced the sale of 39 Main St. and the parking lot to 61 Main St., disclosing the identity of neither buyer nor what they paid, as they were sold outside the auction process.
Casella had no comment as he left the site. Earlier in the process, Casella said if he did acquire the property, he’s not sure what would be done with it, though he expressed a desire to help revitalize Proctor.
“I think this is a win-win for the town of Proctor,” Scott said. “I’m very pleased. I think this is a great outcome.”
She said earlier this week that she came to the college after it had acquired these buildings. She said the college is in the process of righting itself financially, and these properties didn’t fit with its current needs.
The college had the properties listed with Ault Commercial Realty Inc. According to Ault’s website, the asking price for 61 Main St. was $460,000, while 39 Main St. was listed for $170,000.
An informational package compiled by Tranzon had 39 Main St. assessed at $298,900. The other property, 61 Main St., is assessed at $500,050.
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