Steve Wight Submitted

BETHEL — Born in Hartford, CT to parents both of whom were from Maine, Steve Wight always knew he was going to move back to his lineage in the Bethel area.

“Well, my father grew up in Bethel, he was born in Oquossoc, by Rangeley, and my mother grew up in Bangor. They ended up going to Hartford to look for jobs, and met each other down there, got married, and my brothers and sisters and I always figured we were first generation out of the woods trying to get back.”

In the summers, he began working at Chute Homestead on Long Lake in Naples. This is how he met his wife, Peggy. Ironically, it is where they both gathered their inn-keeping skills, which would come in handy down the road.

Fast-forward to the fall of 1970, Wight and his family visit Bethel and discover the Sunday River Inn was for sale. They bought it in January, and ran it for 38 years. Within those 38 years, they built a cross-country ski lodge and an inn for families and youth groups, where they served breakfast and dinner to their guests.

Simultaneously, Wight is also a Bus Driver and a Maine Tour Guide, specializing in recreation.

“When I got here, I decided I wanted to get involved in the community. So it wasn’t long before the Chamber of Commerce needed a new president … so I became the new president for a while. Mostly I was, and still am, interested in anything that has to do with recreation, education, youth, or the environment.”

Wight has a long history with the Mahoosuc Land Trust. He started a group called Friends of the Androscoggin River.

“At that time nobody wanted to go near the river because the mills were causing it to be so smelly; it was one of the 10 dirtiest rivers in the country at the time. By the time of 1987, when I was starting Friends of the Androscoggin, people still didn’t understand that it was being cleaned up.”

Wight became extremely involved in the community. He was the Commissioner for the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission for 23 years, a Selectman for the Town of Newry for 23 years, and has been heavily involved with the Rotary Club since 1987.

“I enjoy seeing the changes, and as we’ve gone on, I help to get things like what turned into CORE, an organization that preached collaboration and tried to bring all nonprofits together. From that, I realized collaboration was the name of the game and I went around preaching collaboration wherever I went,” says Wight. “By being on different boards, I was able to say, hey that’s a great idea, do you know those guys are thinking about the same thing, why don’t we get together? And I’m excited now to see it’s happening. Groups are proud to be working together.”

So what does community mean to Wight?

“It’s taken a long time, but just recently, since we started doing the visioning of destination tourism, we brought the Town Managers and Selectman together to find common spots,” says Wight. “We were doing pretty well just before COVID. We got two different transfer stations, one used by Bethel/Hanover, and another used by Greenwood and Woodstock. But some people, because of the ways of the towns because of the rivers and roads going in all odd places, why couldn’t we say, bring that all together? And we were talking about that’d be a great idea [and am] pleased to see, especially now that we’re working on Broadband, that we’re bringing the same group back together. It looks like we’re going to work together to bring high-speed Wifi to the whole area.”

Wight says it is fulfilling to be able to give back to the community. “It’s wonderful to see the community recognizing itself as a bigger unit than it has in the past, and recognizing there are lots of different people with lots of different ideas, and they don’t all walk to the same drummer, but they can all work together. And if we can’t, then segments can work apart…that’s the dream, to be able to make friends with everybody.”

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