A letter of support for Rick Cowan, Bonnie North, and Elijah Zimmer

Dear Editor,

We are writing to endorse Rick Cowan, Bonnie North, and Elijah Zimmer, who are running for the Rockingham Selectboard March 2. Last July we said we would be reminding voters regarding the four Selectboard members who voted in favor of having Main Street Arts remove the set and technical equipment brought into the Bellows Falls Opera House for its postponed production of “Cabaret.” We were both involved in the production, and we remember very well how shortsighted and unfair this decision was.

The production was postponed two days before its planned opening March 13 last year because of the pandemic restrictions. There have been no live events that would have otherwise used the stage since, and the movie program was not impacted by its remaining in place. In the summer, then Town Manager Chuck Wise requested that MSA clear out. MSA appealed to the Selectboard based on not wanting to lose its ability to simply pick up the show where it had been left off. MSA felt that this would severely hurt their ability to bring back the show at all. The issue came to a vote. Continuing Selectboard member Susan Hammond strongly supported and voted in favor of MSA keeping its set and equipment in place. The other four board members did not. They held that the Town Hall is not a “storage facility,” and MSA’s show was not an exception. The organization complied, and everything was removed.

Three of those board members who voted against MSA’s appeal are now up for reelection. We feel their opponents Rick Cowan, Bonnie North, and Elijah Zimmer have demonstrated a keen appreciation of the arts and how they fit into what makes small towns thrive, economically and culturally. To support this concept, we refer the reader to a book by Dar Williams, “What I Found in a Thousand Towns.” She is a singer-songwriter and was the first one to perform on the Opera House stage after it reopened in 2006. She returned for a more recent concert the spring before the pandemic. Her book is not only a travelogue, but a sociological study as well. She argues that coffee shops, bookstores, shared recreational spaces, and a strong arts presence are vital to a thriving community and the cultural and economic vitality of the town.

We strongly believe that a vote for these candidates would be a positive step in moving the town forward, especially as we contend with a post-pandemic comeback.

Thank you,

Bill Lockwood

Jeanie Levesque

Bellows Falls, Vt.

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