Growing Need

Written by Susan Reid on . Posted in Q&A, Way of (Vermont) Life

The center employs a hands-on approach in teaching life skills, and found success building a garden shared by mothers and their children.

The center employs a hands-on approach in teaching life skills, and found success building a garden shared by mothers and their children. Photo by Daria Bishop.

The high quality of life apparent in Vermont’s thriving ski towns and college hubs can sometimes mask problems that exist in other parts of the state. Springfield, a community of 9,000, is currently coping with the decline of manufacturing jobs. The Springfield Area Parent Child Center provides local residents with everything from child care and playgroups to free evening parenting classes and professional help with learning delays and behavior problems. Administrative manager Jan Zona talks about the center’s efforts to provide real-world solutions for struggling Vermonters.

VL: What first brought you to Vermont?
JZ: I moved to Springfield from Fairfield County, Connecticut, 13 years ago with my husband, Gary. We were looking to live and work in a less congested area and enjoy life in a more rural setting. When I was a child, my dad helped build a camp for a friend in East Wallingford, and we spent many weekends there. The first time I ever skied was at Okemo Mountain. Little did I know that years later I would work there!

VL: You were guest services manager there for 10 years before joining the Parent Child Center. That’s an unusual transition.
JZ: It might seem like a leap to go from a resort to a nonprofit, but in reality, I have just moved from one service industry to another. Now, rather than help visitors enjoy their time here, I can help the youngest citizens in our community and 
their families.

VL: What has been the biggest change at the center since it began?
JZ: Our growth. We started in a small house on Myrtle Street in 1992 with a core group of six to eight employees. Now we have a staff of

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Q&A: Thunder Road’s Dick Blake

Written by Sky Barsch on . Posted in Way of (Vermont) Life

Dick Blake and his wrecker. Photo by Ken Burris.

Dick Blake and his wrecker. Photographed by Ken Burris.

When the stock car racers at Barre’s Thunder Road get into trouble, it’s Dick Blake and his wrecker crew who get them out. At 84, Blake runs the tow truck at “The Nation’s Site of Excitement,” where fans of all ages enjoy fast cars, fried dough and checkered flags.

VL: How long have you been running the wrecker?
DB: This will be my 53rd year. I was going to retire after the 50th year, but Ken Squier and Tom Curley said I’ve got to stay with ’em … as long as they own the track. I said as long as I’m able, I’ll do it.

VL: Is it a job or volunteer work?
DB: We volunteer, but I get a little gas money every once in a while, and I get good advertisement after all these years, and I enjoy doing it.

VL: Have you ever had a car stuck that you couldn’t get out?
DB: Never. We’ve seen ’em over the fence into the parking lot a couple of times; they’ve been everywhere. I’ve probably picked up a car on every inch of that track over the years — on top of the wall, over the bank in the trees. We’ve seen some pretty mysterious accidents and have been lucky nobody’s been killed.

VL: Where’s the best spot to watch the races?
DB: Off the fourth turn. That’s where a lot of the action happens, or starts to happen.

VL: Do you ever get a sense before you go in for the night if it’s going to be a big wreck night or pretty mellow?
DB: Generally if you have a full moon,

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2015 Thunder Road Schedule

Written by Sky Barsch on . Posted in Q&A, Way of (Vermont) Life, Web Exclusives

In the summer issue, we interviewed Dick Blake, the wrecker driver for Thunder Road’s stock car races. If you want to see Blake in action, head to Thunder Road in Barre for a fun night at “The Nation’s Site of Excitement.”

Schedule subject to change, click here for updates.

Day Date Event
Saturday/Sunday May 2/3 ACT 150
Sunday May 24 53rd Annual Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic
Thursday June 11
Harvest Equipment Night
Thursday June 18
Casella Waste Management Night
Thursday June 25 North Country Federal Credit Union Night
Thursday July 2
Weekly Event
Sunday July 5
Weekly Event
Thursday July 9
VP Fuels Vermont Governor’s Cup
Thursday July 16
Weekly Event
Thursday July 23
Times Argus Mid-Season Championships
Thursday July 30
WDEV/Calkins Night
Sunday Aug. 2
31st Enduro 200- SS Special
Thursday Aug. 6
Weekly Event
Thursday Aug. 13
Weekly Event
Thursday Aug. 20 Jet Service Envelope – Accura Printing – VT Shifter Carts Night
Thursday Aug. 27
Weekly Event
Sunday Sept. 6
37th Annual Coca-Cola Labor Day Classic 200
Saturday Oct. 10
Booth Bros/HP Hood Qualifying Day
Sunday Oct. 11
53rd Annual Milk Bowl

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