Club Executives & Directors
Community Service & Contact Information
*Andrew and Heidi Ladd Scholarship- Annual scholarships given to local college bound high school seniors
* Herrick's Cove - Fundraising for Good Causes
*Kurn Hattin Gift Giving- We provide presents through Santa to all the students at Kurn Hattin School
*Chester Festival on the Green An annual two day Arts, Crafts and Food Festival 
* Personalized Books for 1st graders at Chester Andover Elementary
* First Thursday Speakers at the Fullerton Inn. Speakers on topics of interest to the community and open to the public
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           Chester, VT 05143
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Join us each Thursday morning for a breakfast meeting at the Fullerton Inn!

We meet In Person
Thursdays at 7:30 AM
Fullerton Inn
40 The Common
Chester, VT 05143
United States of America
What's Happening
Hawaiian Rotarian Tom van der Hout visits Chester Rotary

On September 8, 2022, at the regular meeting of the Rotary Club of Chester, we welcomed Tom Van der Hout. He is a Rotarian from the Rotary Club of Windward Oahu, in Hawaii. He was visiting Chester and attended our meeting. We exchanged club banners and shared the endeavors of our clubs.

Dee Hassett

"We are not all by ourselves," Dee Hassett told Chester Rotary members at the June 24 breakfast meeting.

Dee is a former president of Chestertown Rotary, manager of its Jiffy Mart, and a web designer. She believes all clubs benefit from knowing what other clubs are doing for the Rotary cause. Charlestown's biggest program is a Penny Sale, with over 300 prizes, that raises $12,000 to $15,000 every year. Also on the schedule are a Father's Day dinner and an Easter Egg hunt for kids with balloons and a bunny.

Through the Chief of Police Chestertown Rotary supports a drug prevention program that shows people how to help by being aware of signs of involvement. With Interact, they participate in building houses in Nicaragua and Medical supplies in Cambodia.

"Come visit us, and share," says Dee.

Chief Cloud and Kim Eckhardt

We had two speakers Thursday morning, June 15, 2017.. The first was Kimberly Eckhardt, who spoke on behalf of PAX, a U.S. State Department scholarship exchange program. Kimberly said that there are actually two programs under the PAX administration, one for students from former Communist countries, and another for students from Muslim countries. The purpose of the PAX programs is to help spread world peace. PAX is always looking for host families to welcome exchange students. Currently PAX is looking for a family to host a student from Mongolia.
Our second speaker was Chief Richard H. Cloud from the Chester Police Department. Chief Cloud was born and raised in Vermont. He has worked in law enforcement for 29 years, and he has been with the Chester PD for 13 years. He has worked with canine officers. Chief Cloud reported that the Chester PD currently has five full-time officers. An important program of the department is the DARE program, which is an attempt to proactively address the current drug epidemic involving heroin and other drugs. In the last year Chief Cloud reported that there have been three overdoses in Chester, two of them fatal. Addicts are often desperate for money to buy drugs, which leads them to commit break-ins and other crimes. The Chief emphasized the need for community involvement, and especially parental involvement, in addressing this problem. He also said that doctors need education about the misuse of prescription drugs. He said that 3 out of 5 prescription drug abusers become addicted to heroin.
In response to a question, Chief Cloud addressed the question of legalizing marijuana. He felt that it was premature to legalize marijuana at this time. He said that there is no way  for police officers to test the level of marijuana in the blood when a driver is stopped and suspected of DUI. Additionally,  he said that there was no lab in Vermont to test for marijuana. On other issues, the Chief said that it was important for officers to be in the schools. He said that fraud is currently a major law enforcement problem and that citizens should be involved in helping the police.

Christian Craig Executive Director Edgar May Health & Recreation

Christian Craig, executive director of the Edgar May Health and Recreation Center in Springfield, spoke to Rotary on June first at the Fullerton Inn. He highlighted the Center's preventive medicine program, which is geared to help area residents of all ages and current physical abilities live a healthy lifestyle.
The Edgar May Center offers three indoor swimming pools and a large fitness center that includes cardiovascular and strength equipment. It holds 35 group exercise classes each week, including spinning (indoor cycling), water aerobics, Pilates, and TRX as well as personal training. A new summer learn-to-row program in collaboration with Vermont Academy teaches the basics of Olympic-style rowing. Annual events include an indoor triathlon, Thanksgiving Day 5K, Move to Improve, and Prescription for an Exercise program.
Craig's first charge from the Edgar May board was to keep the whole thing affordable. It is very much so. Its interest is your well-being at a cost you can afford. More information can be found here.

John Holme and Tom Slayton

Tom Slayton, a Vermont journalist, was the speaker at the morning meeting of the Chester Rotary Club on May 25, 2017. Tom spoke about the interdependence of rural Vermont culture and literature. There are two types of writers in Vermont; those that live in Vermont and those that write about Vermont. The latter helps the reader get a better understanding of Vermont culture which is characterized by its independence, commitment to community, unique sense of humor and skeptical attitude. Tom went on to talk about playwright David Budbill and novelist Howard Frank Mosher. David Budbill was known as the “People’s Poet” and Howard Frank Mosher was known as the “Voice of Vermont.” Both authors captured the history and culture of Vermont from the past. Today, the challenge is to keep that sense of place in a changing digital world.  

Rotary President Ed Caron Presents $1,000.00 To Chester Playground Committee

At Rotary’s First Thursday Speakers Series in May, representatives of the Chester Playground Committee and CAES principal Catherine Fogg presented detailed information about the new playground initiative at Chester-Andover Elementary School. In addition to a PowerPoint slide show, committee representatives   answered questions about the need, design and funding for the proposed new playground.   The current playground, twenty-five years old and mostly constructed of pressure treated wood, has reached the end of its life cycle. Wood splinters and out of date design are the most common concerns. Raven Norlander McCarty, facilitator for the design team, explained how the team has developed a vision for the playground by gathering community input from the staff and students at CAES, the facilities coordinator and citizens who use this resource.  Jill Bruning gave a financial overview of how much money has been raised and how the committee plans to reach its goal of $150,000. To date, the committee has raised $17,000 through fundraisers such as its Auction Dinner and Pennies for the Playground event.  Looking ahead, the group has been selected to be a potential candidate for a grant through Promise Community Initiative funded by the VT Department of Children and Families. Pooling the money from the grants, fundraisers, and donations, construction of the new playground will be underway during the third quarter of 2018. At the conclusion of the evening, Rotary President Ed Caron presented the committee with a check for $1,000.00.

Skylar, Sierra and Sadie

At Chester Rotary’s First Thursday April speaker series, Sierra Kehoe, Sadie Woods and Skylar White,  GMUHS Interact members, spoke to Rotarians and guests about their recent trip to Nicaragua. The girls from GMUHS joined eight Interact students from Woodstock to complete service projects in San Juan Del Sur. Accompanying the students from Chester were Bill and Leigh Dakin and Jeff Ladd. The students completed three service projects during the week that they were in San Juan Del Sur. The first project that they tackled was the completion of a water tower to supply drinking water to the school. They then spruced up the school with a coat of paint and later in the week helped install a coral reef. Each day, after completing work around 2:00 pm, the girls spent their time in town exploring the shops and vendors and dining in the local restaurants. The students and chaperones also took side trips to Grenada and Masaya volcano. Reflecting on the trip, Sierra, Sadie and Skylar all agreed that the trip was as important to the Nicaragua community as it was to their growth as teenagers. 

Carolyn Frisa

Carolyn Frisa and her husband, Garet McIntyre, a graphic designer, wanted to move from Boston to Vermont. He has roots here and they like the small business environment. Like many professionals who come to Vermont, she wanted her own business, not at home but in its own space.
Carolyn has a master's degree in paper conservation (preserving and conserving art and archival collections on paper). Before moving here she was an associate paper conservator at the Northeast Document Conservation Center in Andover, Massachusetts. Fortunately, the house they bought in Chester in 2008 had an existing one-year lease, which allowed planning time. Although her professional market and channels of contact were well-defined, exploration of local banks, inventory, finance, taxes, and wages was a new world. She placed an online call for help in the community and met with town officials, other retailers, family contacts, real estate agents, and the Springfield Small Business Service.
Carolyn found the perfect location, for the right price, in Bellows Falls next to the Opera House. Her Works on Paper studio has a big front window to display her works, is climate-controlled, and has a security system. In addition, its 2,000+ square-feet size allows space for treating oversized artistic and historic objects.
Next came the tough part—running the business. She found a local partner with great hands and a love for the work. She arranged babysitting for their four-year old boy and  adjusted to the extensive travel demands of her profession. Most of all, she found what had been a 48-hour week became more than a 60-hour week. As she told our Rotary group, you have to love the work to justify the demands.

Paint Your Own Pottery ... Cheaper Than Therapy, and Way More Fun!

On March 30, 2017, Melissa Howe, owner of Endless Creations Pottery Studio, was the speaker at the morning meeting of the Chester Rotary Club. Endless Creations Pottery Studio, located at 23 Maple Street in Chester, is a local business where customers can find their creative self and paint pre-cast pottery pieces. Melissa offers a wide variety of paints and glazes and finishes the piece in her kiln. Formerly located on Elm Street, Endless Creations relocated to the corner of Maple and Main Streets. According to Melissa, the new  location has meant  everything for her business. Open Wednesday through Sunday, the shop offers a dedicated special events room, ladies night and classes. For more information, log onto her website here.  

Maddie Harper

On March 23 Chester Rotary was charmed by Maddie Harper's smile as she described her five weeks in Thailand during last July and August. Maddie, junior at GMUHS, was one of 13 kids participating in this Experiment in International Living program. She told us she was inspired to participate by her ninth-grade teacher, who had had this same experience when she was Maddie's age.
Maddie showed photos of Thailand and commented on the different cultures there. The house-moms she lived with in the rural southern region were overwhelmingly attentive while those in the wealthier hill north were casually indifferent. In some schools there was wide-open free play, in others silent kids watched TV. She traveled from rural areas to a traditional temple town and to modern Bangkok. Maddie learned how to ride an elephant (you have to sit far up on the hump to avoid the sharp spine), she visited the Tiger Kingdom zoo, and told us how to eat sticky rice with your hands (you roll it into a ball and dip it into other foods) and about the showers and the toilets.
Most of all, we learned the great things a big smile for everyone accomplishes when you don't speak the language. The Thais are always smiling she said, and she brought that smile home with her along with a bunch of new Interact friends and a list to ten things she learned from the experience—the common humanity of different peoples being among them.

Jen Studin

On March 16, 2017, Jen Studin, Girls on the Run Certified Coach, was the speaker at the morning meeting of the Chester Rotary Club. Girls on the Run is a non-profit program that works to encourage pre-teen girls to develop self-respect and healthy lifestyles through interactive lessons, exercise and running.  At the present time, there are thirteen girls, from grades three through five in the Chester program. The program started on March 7, meets two times per week from 3:00 to 4:30 and will end with a 5K race in Bratttleboro on May 20. The weekly lessons include three parts: understanding ourselves, valuing relationships and teamwork, and understanding how we connect with the world at large. The outcomes are that the girls develop positive emotional, social, mental and physical development.

Allison DesLauriers

AT Chester Rotary’s First Thursday speaker series, Allison DesLauriers , GMUHS School Board Chair, spoke to Rotarians and guests about VT Act 46. Allison provided extensive background information, including the goals of the law, strategies for implementation, a timetable, incentives and penalties provided by the state. She also explained the guiding principles. Act 46 requires local governments to create Unified School Districts that will increase opportunities and equity for students, decrease overall cost per student  and be attractive to families and parents. At the present time, Two Rivers Supervisory Union has eleven districts with eleven school budgets. On Thursday, February 23, the TRSU Act 46 merger committee approved a four-town Regional Education District which would create a larger school district with one school board. The plan must meet the state’s criteria and then be voted on by the voters in the towns by early May. If the RED is approved by the citizens of Chester, Andover and Cavendish, the transition to the new governing body would begin with the new school year.

Ellen Taetzsch and John McAveeney

On February 23, 2017, Ellen Taetzsch, Regional Coordinator of the Springfield area Building Bright Futures, was the speaker at the morning meeting of the Chester Rotary Club. Building Better Futures is a state mandated program which monitors the well-being of children and families in Vermont. BBF looks at how a family, the community and the state can better serve children eight years old and under. The twelve regional BBF’s evaluate family and social relationships, health and development safety, early care and learning. Family economic well-being is assessed and subsidies for child care are provided if necessary. In addition to these services, they provide developmental screening to determine how a child is progressing. This public-private partnership “aligns community action with state policy in order to make improvements in access, quality and equity in early child care, health and education for families and children.”

Malcolm Summers, Christine Saul and Cynthia Austin

Cynthia Austin and Christine Saul, Green Mountain Union High School Teachers, spoke to Rotarians and Interact students at the Rotary breakfast on February 16, 2017. Cynthia has been teaching music at the high school for eighteen years and Christine new to GMUHS is in charge of the drama department and band. Cynthia spoke about The Young Americans program coming to the school, the upcoming production of the Wizard of Oz and the need to upgrade the auditorium stage lights. , The Young Americans are coming to Chester the last week of September 2017 to perform and work with the students at the school. Cindy is looking for twenty-five host families. For the first time, the GMUHS drama and music departments will be presenting the Wizard of Oz for their Sring production. What has become apparent as they practice for the performance is that the lighting system is woefully inadequate and needs to be upgraded. At the conclusion of the meeting, Rotarian Malcolm Summers gave Cindy and Christine a check for $2,862.07 to help defray the cost of the basic upgrade.

Jeanne Carbonetti, Artist and Author

At the Chester, VT First Thursday speaker event in February, Jeanne Carbonetti, renowned artist and owner of Crow Hill Gallery in Chester, spoke to Rotarians and guests about “The Seasonal Rhythm of Creativity: “A Visual Interpretation of Vivaldi’s Four Season Concerto.” Jeanne has been a water color painter for sixty-three years and has published six books with the seventh in process. Jeanne believes in the “Power of Beauty” to enhance our lives. One of her messages to students is that we are all born with creativity. After explaining left and right brain dominance and how that relates to creativity, Jeanne showed the audience, through a series of twelve canvases, her visual interpretation of Vivaldi’s Four Season Concertos. As she described each painting, Jean explained to the audience the different stages of creativity an artist encounters on his/her journey to create a piece of art. Jeanne’s paintings may be viewed at Crow Hill gallery by appointment. 

Suellen Slater & Nancy Kelly

On Thursday morning, January 26, 2017, Suellen Slater and Nancy Kelly, volunteers at Six Loose Ladies spoke to Rotarians and guests. The Six Loose Ladies Yarn Shop started out as a group of ladies with similar interests and was set up as the non-profit, Fiber Arts, in 2001. Since 2001, it had two venues in Proctorsville, a name change to Six Loose Ladies and a relocation to Chester. The relocation to Chester in July of 2016 has been a huge success with “The Ladies” feeling revitalized and an increase in customer traffic. The vision of Six Loose Ladies is to preserve and promote the fiber arts. With that goal in mind, SLL reaches out to the community to offer workshops, demonstrations and classes in knitting, spinning, weaving, crocheting and hooking. For some interesting conversation and unique gifts visit their shop at 287 Main St, Chester, VT 05143 and check out web-site here.

Connie Stone and Ron Theissen

Connie Snow, Executive Director of the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust, spoke to Rotarians and guests at the Rotary breakfast meeting on January 20, 2017. Connie has been with the organization since 1987 when it started out as the Windham Housing Trust. In 2011, it merged with the Rockingham Land Trust to form the WWHT, Windham & Windsor Housing Trust. Its mission statement is “to strengthen the communities of Southeast Vermont through the development and stewardship of permanently affordable housing and through ongoing support and advocacy for its residents.” WWHT has a variety of programs to accomplish its goals. These include housing development, property management and a home ownership program. One project that Chester residents are familiar with is the beautifully renovated apartment building across from Liasai's Chester Market. Connie gave examples of how WWHT provides services to support successful home ownership. In one example, a Brattleboro resident was spending 92% of her income per month on housing. WWHT utilized a variety of strategies to reduce her housing spending to 32%. More information about WWHT programs and links to other services can be found here

Kathie Stone

At Chester Rotary’s First Thursday speaker series, Kathie Stone, past president of the Manchester VT Rotary Club, spoke to Rotarians and guests about her recent travels to Iran. The three week tour took place this past spring and covered an extensive list of cities along with visits to the country-side. In her journey through Iran, Kathie was impressed with the friendliness of the people and their knowledge of world affairs. The country-side is sparsely populated as most people live in the cities.  The three week trip took Kathie to relics, mosques, bazars, palaces, Christian churches and even a Jewish temple. Kathie’s presentation featured a movie developed by another member of the tour. The audience marveled at the number of intricate tile mosaics and how numerous buildings were decorated with flags, bunting and colored lights. For more information about Iran, You Tube has a number of videos for your viewing pleasure.

Samuel Fogg

Samuel Fogg, a 2016 graduate of St. Michael’s college, spoke to Rotarians, Interact students and guests at the last Chester Rotary meeting of 2016. Sam spent seven months in Shanghai where with many life changing experiences eventually led him to his job in Boston as an auditor for PricewaterhouseCoopers. Shanghai, a city of thirty million on China’s central coast, is the country's biggest city and a global financial hub. Sam said that it was “crowded, polluted and littered.”  In Shanghai, he attended the university and worked as a volunteer at the U.S. Consulate. For a time, Sam lived in an apartment without hot water, slept on the floor and had his student VISA expire. During his time away from the university, Sam spent many hours visiting the country side and hiking. He left China with a greater understanding of people, an appreciation for our life style,  an understanding of international relations and the importance of networking.  

Teri Palmer, Store Manager

On Thursday morning, December 15, 2016, Teri Palmer Dollar General store manager spoke to Rotarians, guests and Interact students. Prior to this position, Teri was a tow truck operator, corrections officer and regional manager for Walmart. Since the store has opened, it has met three objectives; serving about 250 customers per day, exceeding the sales goals, and becoming one  of the top Dollar General stores in the area. Organization, neatness and friendly associates are the guiding principles at the Chester store. Teri tells her associates that the store won’t succeed if customers’ needs are not met. Besides selling quality merchandise at a fair price, Dollar General makes a commitment to the community through donations to national and local charities. Dollar General also has a Literacy Foundation that gives grants in “many shapes and sizes. “Information about their literacy program is available at the store or on-line.

Ian Montgomery, Chester Rotarian and Anglican Missionary Minister

Ian Montgomery, Chester Rotarian and Anglican Missionary Minister, spoke to Rotarians and guests on December 22, 2016. As a representative of the Anglican Church, Ian helps to implement the goal of bringing a spiritual and social transformation in Peru. The representatives of the Anglican Church are known as the missionaries who work in the poorest and most dangerous regions of the country. Since 2008, Ian has been building churches and schools and transforming neighborhoods. Drinkable water is also a huge issue in Peru and there has been serious work to supply the people with affordable water filters. Ian told his audience that there is an emerging middle class but many Peruvians live in great poverty. During the presentation, Ian showed pictures of magnificent mountain ranges, semi-tropical rain forests and completely arid areas that only get one-half of an inch of rain per year. Peru was once part of the great Incan Empire but was conquered by the Spanish from 1531 to 1533. It is home to Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
On Thursday, November 17, Joni Jo Goss told the Chester Rotary the story of Jiffy Mart, Champlain Oil, the Cairns family in South Burlington. and how she came to Chester to run eight Jiffy Mart convenience stores in the area.
Joni Jo grew up east of Walpole, NH, and now lives in the same house she was raised in. Her career began working in the Walpole Jiffy Mart 18 years ago where she proved herself and was promoted to run the previous Chester Jiffy Mart on the triangle to the Depot off Main Street. At the new location on the corner of Main and Route 11 to Springfield, Joni Jo is now District Leader for eight stores and reports to the Perkinsville, VT, office that runs 34 stores in Vermont and New Hampshire.
Jiffy Mart is part of Champlain Oil, a South Burlington, VT, company. Champlain partners with CITGO, Mobil, Irving, Shell, and Sunoco and is involved in truck fleet services in the two-state area. It has agreements with Subway, Dunkin Donuts, Ramunto's Pizza, Burger King, McDonald's and others. The company was founded in the mid-1940s by C. Douglas Cairns and is now run by his two sons.
Jiffy Mart's credo is 'customer service" says Joni Jo. She plans to join Rotary — community service is another part of the company's belief.

Karen Landsberry, Director of Residential Services

At the Chester, VT First Thursday speaker event in November, Karen Landsberry, Director of Residential Services, spoke to a group of thirty Rotarians and guests about Kurn Hattin school. Kurn Hattin was founded as an orphanage by Charles Albert Dickinson in 1894. Today, Kurn Hattin serves ninety-five at risk children ages five to fifteen. Children live in cottages with the appropriate age group and gender and attend school or camp depending on the time of the year. With over a century of service, Kurn Hattin’s program has become world renowned because of its emphasis and commitment to helping children grow physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially. During the course of her presentation, Karen spoke in detail about the programs and activities that help to accomplish these goals. Other speakers included GMUHS Interact president, Sierra and Rotarians Malcolm Summers and Dave Nanfeldt. Sierra invited Rotarians and guests to Interact’s next community service project to be held on November 12, 2016. Volunteers will meet at 10:00 am in front of the Fullerton and will be picking up trash along the highways and byways of Chester. Malcolm told the audience about how Rotary International uses “Shelter Boxes” to help alleviate suffering caused by natural disasters such as the hurricane that struck Hatti in September. Dave explained how guests could participate in this year’s Kurn Hattin gift giving event to be held on December 15.

Ken Olsson, Conductor and Music Director

At the October 27, 2016 meeting of the Chester Rotary, Ken Olsson spoke to an overflow crowd of Rotarians, guests and Interact students. Ken is presently the music director and conductor of three choral groups in south central Vermont. Ken grew up in Leyard, CT, attended the same high school as his wife Julie and surprising did not meet her until she became his mentor at Ithaca College. Ken postulated that everyone “should sing” and has a “contribution to make” because music is such a participatory activity. Ken’s appreciation and love of music was evident as he gave the audience his insights into how music should be a part of everyone’s life and how it is an expression of one’s soul.  As director of the Springfield chorus, Ken was pleased to announce that the Springfield Community Chorus (SCC) will have a “coming together” with the Bennington chorus to jointly presenting Beethoven’s fourth movement from the 9th Symphony “Ode to Joy” in the spring of 2017. Recently, SCC appeared with other choral groups to sing Mozart’s Requiem in NYC at Carnegie Hall. The SCC started its 50th year this past September and is still going strong. More information about SCC can be found here.

Andrew Dey, Unity Homes

On October 20, 2016, Andrew Day, Director of Operations at Unity Homes, spoke to Chester Rotarians and guests. Unity Homes is an offshoot of custom homebuilder Bensonwood Homes and is based in Walpole, NH. For over two hundred years, the standard procedure for building a home was to construct it on-site. Homes built on-site are difficult to construct because of inefficiencies, unpredictability of the weather and inconsistent skill level and training of the workforce.  A Unity customer starts by choosing one of four platforms and then with the help of a design expert modifies the design based on needs and budget. Once the design is completed, the home is fabricated in a plant and then assembled on-site. The guiding principles of Unity are to montage architectural principles, design and building techniques and to utilize best practices to produce a quality affordable, energy efficient home. More information about Unity can be found here.

Townsend Gilbert, Living with a Learning Disability

At the Chester, VT First Thursday speaker event in October, Townsend Gilbert spoke to a group of thirty Rotarians and guests about “Living with a Learning Disability.” The core of his presentation had its origins in the work that he did with learning disabled middle school students on Long Island. From this work and his own experiences as a student with dyslexia, Townsend described life as a learning disabled student as “really difficult.” Given the challenge of reading, Townsend devised many strategies to avoid having to read out loud in a group and recently employed one strategy to avoid reading out loud as an adult at a conference that he attended. Based on personal interactions during his youth and as an adult, Townsend feels that there is little understanding of what it means to have a learning disability. In a rush to explain the problem, many people think that the learning disabled are either “slow,” “don’t care,” “are stupid” or “trouble makers.” In his view, a learning disability is a gift that leads to good listening, problem solving and observation skills. Just as Thomas Edison, Charles Schwab, Steve Jobs and Tom Cruise have overcome a learning disability, Townsend has become a successful entrepreneur and businessman. Townsend’s license plate on his VW convertible, “Thnk Pstve,” gives you some insight into what has led to his success.

Neil Allen, The Message For The Week Editor

On September 29, 2016, Neil Allen, editor of The Message For The Week, spoke to Chester Rotarians and guests about the vision of the paper and how to get a story published. Eighteen thousand copies of the paper are published each week and distributed to forty-three towns throughout the region. In addition to the printed copies, The Message For The Week has a Facebook page, Twitter feed and can be read on-line here. As to content, Neil says, “we are always looking for feature stories on people, events and organizations that are or will be doing something new or unique.” The paper tries to feature new businesses and strongly encourages photographs. Press releases should be formatted as a docx, pdf or rtf file. The information can be submitted via email, sent to PO Box 759 in Chester or dropped off at the office which is located at 287 Main Street in Chester. Click here for more details on submitting stories to The Message.
Neil started in the newspaper business as a reporter for weeklies in northern New Jersey and eventually moved to this area working for The Eagle Times. Neil can be contacted at

Will Reed, VFI

At the September 15, 2016 Chester Rotary meeting, Will Reed, owner of VT Foam Insulation, presented his warm story of success to Rotarians and guests. VT Foam was incorporated in 2006 and since then has grown exponentially into one of the leading insulation businesses in VT. In 2006 the business had a single insulation truck that was parked in a lot overnight. Today it has six trucks and a new building on Elm Street in Chester. VT Foam does very little printed advertising and relies on testimonials and internet marketing. Will attributed the success of the business to several practices. These include developing good relationships with local builders, a hands-on approach, doing projects outside your comfort zone, customer satisfaction, learning from missteps, meeting demand and being able to promote and explain the value of the product. Finding hard working reliable workers and procuring financing are two ongoing challenges. More information about VT Foam and customer reviews can be found by clicking here.

Katherine Fogg

.Katherine Fogg, Principal of Chester-Andover Elementary School, spoke to Chester Rotary on September 22, 2016. Chester-Andover Elementary School is part of the Two Rivers Supervisory Union and serves students in Kindergarten through grade 6. Prior to becoming principal of CAES, Katherine was a music teacher and an assistant principal. Since becoming the principal, fourteen months ago, she has initiated several changes, including the hiring of four new teachers, the implementation of a Positive Behavior Support System, the utilization of data to improve instruction and personalized proficiency based plan for each child. In addition to the curriculum areas, Katherine oversees the building and facilities including the installation of a new roof this past summer. During the Q & A, Katherine answered questions about Act 46, homeschooled children, mentoring, common core and the time that school starts and finishes for elementary, middle and high school students. CAES can be found on the web by clicking here and Two Rivers Supervisory Union here .

Mike Desanto,, Indie Bookstore Entrepreneur

At the Chester, VT First Thursday speaker event in September, Mike DeSanto spoke to an overflow group of Rotarians and guests about Indie Bookselling in the age of Amazon. Mike, along with his wife, Renee, now own four independent bookstores in VT including the recently purchased Misty Valley Bookstore in Chester. Before becoming a bookstore owner, Mike was an actor, military policeman, lobbyist, and college professor. Mike shared  advice to those interested in opening a bookstore; be free of mortgage debt, no college age children and your retirement funds should be set aside. As to the Amazon phenomena, Mike holds the belief that as we click to make a purchase on Amazon, we are taking a short-sighted viewpoint. The money that goes to Amazon is money that is leaving our community and the local economy. In a lively Q and A, Mike demonstrated his responsiveness to customers’ concerns. Mike will be putting in two nice chairs, will improve the children’s section and acquire a rocking chair for outside the store. At the conclusion of the evening, two twenty-five dollar gift certificates, donated by Mike, were raffled off to two lucky attendees. 

Charma Bonanno Describes Weston Playhouse Projects to Chester Rotary

Charma Bonanno, Director of Development for the Weston Playhouse Theatre Company spoke to Chester Rotary on August 25, 2016. The Playhouse is a multi-faceted enterprise that has three parts to its mission: first, to produce professional theater; second, to contribute to the enrichment and education of the community; and third, to contribute to the American theater.
All three efforts impact the local community. The visitors who come in cars and busloads to the professional theater retain the image of Weston. The community enrichment program exposes local children—including Chester school kids— to drama and art that can serve them for a lifetime. The Playhouse retreat for local and metropolitan artists seeking perspective for their creative process contributes to theater as an important part of American culture.
The Playhouse is expanding and is completing a new highly flexible theater for 140 people located just north of the Weston Green at Walker Farm.
Charma joined the staff in the fall of 2014 and has been in the Weston Playhouse family for decades. On stage, she performed in such roles as Velma in "Chicago", Lucy Brown in "Three Penny Opera", and Prudie Cupp in the inaugural Rod & Gunn Club production of "Pump Boys and Dinettes" as well as other theaters across the USA. Following the birth of her son Charma pursued her passion for small business, working with several start-ups and rapidly growing companies. She was for nine years financial manager at a New York legal staffing firm. She brings her many talents to fund-raising for Weston. She is married to Weston Playhouse actor David Bonanno and is a graduate of University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music.


At the August 18 meeting of Chester Rotarians, Rotary member David Armstrong gave us insights into the Community Cares Network. The twenty to thirty volunteers in the Chester group are directed by Debbie Armstrong and are part of a larger Cares group in the area. Chester Cares works with seniors and disabled adults in Chester and Andover to help them remain healthy and independent in their homes.  Volunteers help with rides to the grocery store and appointments.  Additionally, Chester Cares offers a wellness support system to help individuals maintain their physical and emotional health. Chester Cares is funded by the towns of Chester and Andover, local churches, fundraisers and donations from individuals. In many instances, Chester Cares receives its referrals from Senior Solutions. Click here to visit the Senior Solutions website to understand how the Cares Network fits into the multitude of resources available to the elderly in our area.

Tim Desilets, Serve Vermont

At the July 28, 2016 meeting, our speaker was Tim Desilets, a youth pastor from King of Prussia, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia.  Tim is leading a team of 55 young people (junior-high and high-school age) on a two-week service project in this part of Vermont.  The goal is to take "mall rats" (Tim's term) out of the suburbs and into rural and small-town Vermont, and to teach them to make a difference and make an impact in the communities.  The kids also build long-term lasting relationships. Tim has family roots in South Londonderry, and when he first began to take kids up to Vermont, they stayed at the Baptist and Congregational churches in Londonderry.  But when the South Londonderry Baptist Church burned down, they had to find other accommodations.  For a while, they stayed at the base lodge at Magic Mountain, but when that no longer worked out, they moved their base of operations to Chester.  Last year they stayed at the Baptist and Congregational churches her in Chester, but they found that they had outgrown these accommodations, so they worked with the Chester-Andover Elementary School to provide accommodations.  Between Chester Baptist and the Elementary School, they have found this new arrangement satisfactory. They have done a number of varied projects during their time in Vermont this year.  They helped lead Vacation Bible Camp at an area church.  They did odd jobs such as stacking wood and weeding, and also scraping and painting houses.   They had 25 projects in all, including 11 in Cavendish and Proctorsville. The kids raise their own money.  They are forbidden to bring any technology on the trip, such as cell phones. In case of emergency, Tim will allow a kid to use his own cell phone, but other than that, all technological devices are forbidden.  Tim finds that without the use of technology, kids develop closer personal relationships with each other and get to know each other as people. Tim's talk was quite interesting, and there were a number of questions.

John McAveeney & Bob Davern

Bob Davern, NewsBank Director of Product Content, spoke to Rotarians and guests on July 21, 2016 about what has been described as “one of the world’s largest information providers.”1 NewsBank sells its massive database of media publications to schools and libraries. As the business has grown and evolved, the format of the delivery of the product has changed from paper, to microfiche and during the 90’s CD-Rom. It now offers their indexed database through an on-line paywall.  At the present time, the database contains over 900 news sources from every state as well as national publications. According to Bob, articles included in the database are selected because they are persuasive and balanced. Additionally, articles must be of a serious nature and not offensive.  Articles from regional sources are chosen to show how local communities are affected by a topic. During the Q & A, Bob stated that in his view the most objective sources for news are the AP and the editorial page of USA Today. As to who is employed in his department, Bob looks to hire people who are good writers and possess editorial skills.
1 Reference Sources in History