BETHEL — “I just want happiness, I want to show people that there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Bethel resident Kate Carroll said Monday to selectmen via Zoom. Carroll was discussing her plan to use the town common on Saturday, Aug. 14 for her proposed “Festival of Hope,” an effort to restore positivity in the community amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“The two generations we feel have been most impacted by COVID-19 are our seniors and our children,” Carroll said. “We want to make this all geared toward our seniors and children.”

The festival will include a small parade and some live music. Carroll said she has already found someone to perform music and mentioned that the music will not be loud or explicit.

She acknowledged that if coronavirus numbers in the state continue to rise, the event will have to be postponed to a later date, which right now would be sometime in October.

Selectman Pete Southam asked Town Manager Loretta Powers if she had spoken with Carroll about the guidelines regarding use of the town common. Powers said she and Carrol had spoken about the application and that everything was in order.

Carroll said she was thinking about having alcohol available at the festival, but would be reaching out to the Bethel Inn to see if they would be interested in setting up something on their property, since alcohol is not permitted on the common.

Southam asked if any events had been scheduled on the common the same weekend the event is happening. Powers said no events had be scheduled through the town or Chamber of Commerce.

Though a vote was not required, selectmen voted unanimously in favor of the festival to show their support for the cause.

In other news, Nancy Davis, president of the Age Friendly Community Initiative (AFCI), spoke to officials about a bench that is being donated to town by AFCI.

The AFCI serves the towns of Bethel, Gilead, Greenwood, Hanover, Newry and Woodstock.

“Our goal is to improve outdoor spaces in the six towns. We want to improve opportunities for socialization in our communities,” Davis said. “The overall concept is to gift each town with either a bench or picnic table.”

Town officials will be responsible for choosing either a picnic table or bench and will also decide its location. As of Monday evening, selectmen had not determined a location yet.

“We envision that in the six communities some will be in more wilderness places, but still accessible to the public. Others might be out in front of a library or other places that seem to draw people in,” Davis said.

The project is a collaboration between the Bethel Congo Crafters, which will be building the tables and benches and Bethel Area Arts and Music (BAAM), which will be in charge of decorating them. If funding goes through, the project is expected to start sometime in the fall.

Selectmen unanimously voted to accept AFCI’s donation.

 

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