W ith 2012 now in the history books, we decided to look back on the year and revisit the top stories.
The biggest fire to hit Granville in many years was the Main Street fire on Nov. 12.
The fire completely destroyed the All In One Exchange pawn shop building and the former L.E. Roberts jewelry store, which was being used as an art studio and gallery and which had originally been the Washington County National Bank building.
Firefighters were initially called to a fire in a trash receptacle at 3:50 a.m., but quickly realized the two adjacent buildings were aflame. While initial investigative speculation pointed to a faulty electric box as the culprit for sparking the blaze, no actual cause has yet been officially found.
Fifteen area fire crews responded to the scene, and a concentrated effort by all to save Scotties gift and coffee shop was successful. Police were able to alert the only residents of the pawn shop building, a woman, her friend and her baby, in time for them to safely leave their upstairs apartment. Community effort to help out this woman, Alicia Center, and to find her a new home was immediate.
And support for firefighters on the scene was in place before daylight broke. Local businesses and individuals provided food and drink throughout the early morning and the day, until crews finally left in the late afternoon.
Though many lamented the loss of one of the last remaining original buildings on Main Street, everyone rejoiced that Scotties was saved.
And Main Street wasn’t the only spot that burned this past year. The summer saw a few private residences either damaged or destroyed by flames.
A June 27, a late afternoon home fire on Route 149 started by an electrical fire in the attic left two people homeless. Firefighters from Hartford were first on the scene and were quickly joined by Granville, Middle Granville and West Pawlet, but the rapidly spreading fire quickly engulfed the house. Fortunately, the Regimbalds, who lived in the home, were able to escape unharmed along with most of their cats and dogs.
A month later, on July 27, firefighters were able to save a barn on Campbell Lane in Hampton after a gas stove in the upstairs apartment set the wall aflame. While the apartment and most of the second floor was severely damaged, crews were able to preserve the downstairs, which housed a number of classic cars that were being restored.
Another big thing to come to the village was Big Lots, in November. The large retail store, which describes its offerings as everyday essential products, held a grand opening on Nov. 16.
As a way to contribute to the community, the new store presented a $2,500 to Granville Elementary School on opening day and had students perform a ribbon-cutting.
About 45 new jobs opened up along with the store, and response to it has so far been strong, with a busy parking lot since the day doors opened.
Washington County goes private
A story that dominated headlines in Whitehall and beyond was the Washington County Board of Supervisors’ decision to privatize its Public Health Department and sell Pleasant Valley Infirmary.
Like some of the other stories on this list, the county’s privatization talks began long before this year even started. Supervisors first raised the topic of getting out of the health business more than two years ago and the idea steadily gained traction among board members who said the county lacked the expertise to run the departments, which were annually losing millions of dollars.
Officials have projected PVI was running at a $3 million deficit and Public Health was expected to cost the county more than $700,000 by year’s end.
In the spring of 2011, the board put out a request for proposals from companies interested in purchasing the infirmary and Public Health’s Certified Home Health Aide, Hospice and Long-Term Care component.
The county received several offers, and despite objections from opponents who believe the sale will push out people who can’t afford private health care, the board decided to enter into negotiations with Centers for Specialty Care to sell PVI and with HCR Home Care to sell its public health service.
Last month, the County Board Health Committee agreed to sell PVI and its public health department and a few days later the full board overwhelmingly approved the sale.
Centers for Specialty Care will pay $2.4 million for the 122-bed nursing home in Argyle while HCR will pay $550,000 for the Public Health Divisions.
HCR could be running the divisions within the first quarter of 2013. The sale of PVI will take slightly longer, but barring the unforeseen, the nursing home should be fully privatized near the end of 2013.
But the county may not be done with its privatization efforts.
There is growing support among board members to sell the county’s five transfer stations, which officials project will run at a $600,000 deficit this year.
Earlier this fall, the board put out a proposal for bids from companies interested in purchasing the stations, which are located in Granville, Whitehall, Greenwich, Easton and Kingsbury.
The county received two bids and agreed to enter into negotiations with the Rutland-based Earth Waste and Metal, which submitted three proposals: a lease with an option to purchase, a lease, and a proposal to outright purchase the facilities.
Those negotiations are ongoing and officials haven’t indicated what proposal is most likely. But with the board in favor of getting out of the trash business the transfer stations could be sold, or at least under new management, sometime in 2013.