Ward Belcher Interview
This is Jean McMillen. I am interviewing Ward C. Belcher. He is going to talk about the Market Place, Indian Mountain School, SOAR, and the Salisbury Economic Development Committee. Today’s date is April 6, 2022. This is file #10, cycle 5.
JM: What is your name?
WB: Ward Belcher
JM: What is your birthdate?
WB: November 19, 1946
JM: `Your birthplace?
WB: Greenwich, Ct.
JM: We are going to start with the Market Place. Were you part of the Village Improvement Organization first?
JM: Then when it morphed into the Market Place, you went along with that transition?
WB: Yes, I am not really sure if I remember completely but yes.
JM: What is the Market Place?
WB: The Market Place of Salisbury is a group of volunteers who are interested in furthering the economic vitality of the village of Salisbury.
JM: What responsibilities did you have?
WB: I was a shareholder for a number of years. Then I became President for a long number of years. I have since reverted to being a shareholder.
JM: Do you remember when you left that board?
WB: I do not.
JM: You had said about 2010?
WB: About then (For other interviews on the Market Place see Peter Kent, Kathy Hawley and Rod Lankler.)
JM: I am switching now to Indian Mountain School. You attended it?
JM: You graduated in the 1960’s? 2.
WB: Early 1960’s.
JM: You won the Triangle Prize.
JM: What is the Triangle Prize?
WB: I have forgotten. It is one of those typical awards.
JM: It is scholarship, citizenship and athleticism.
WB: Right that sounds about right.
JM: I asked.
WB: Do they give it out anymore?
JM: Oh yes
WB: Oh they do? They still do it?
JM: They do the Doolittle, Schute, Rouse, McMillen, Dunham and Triangle Prizes. When you were on the Board at Indian Mountain, was it because you were asked or was it because you were an alumni of the school?
WB: Probably both
JM: What responsibilities on the board did you have?
WB: The board was not a board that had committees and specific responsibilities. I am not sure what the purpose of the board is, quite frankly.
WB: That’s it. They were a little more honest about it than some.
JM: Yes, they are. Do you remember how long you were on that board?
WB: I don’t know. I would say 5 years or so.
JM: At that time who was the Headmaster?
WB: Mr. Carlton
JM: Peter Carlton was Headmaster from 1976 to 1982.
WB: That sounds right.
JM: Moving on to SOAR 3.
JM: What is it?
WB: SOAR is a privately endowed program to support, and improve a broad number of activities that kids have the opportunity to enjoy at Salisbury Central School.
WB: Yes it is.
JM: Who started it?
WB: Zenas Block and myself started it.
WB: I haven’t got the faintest.
WB: I have the documentation somewhere.
JM: Has it developed or changed over the 20 years that it has been in existence?
WB: I followed it very closely during the early years but have not followed it recently. I do know that the fund raising situation has gone from being relatively small with few donors to many donors. They have pretty much all the funds that they require to what they want to do.
JM: They do many wonderful things.
WB: Yeah they do a number of nice things.
JM; Are you still involved with it or have you…
WB: No, I am not (For more on this program see interviews by Amy Rasner Clulow, Louise Fallon, Janet Andre Block, Linda Sloan, and Tess Marks.)
JM: You have gone onto greener pastures, perhaps.
WB: Well yeah I mean this is something that to be involved with really requires that you have a student at the school or you are in some other way involved. It is primarily about kids and their development.
JM: I have done a couple of the past directors of it and I have participated in a program.
Money seems to be the theme of your involvement so we’ll move on to the Salisbury Economic Development Committee. You are on that one.
JM: Were you appointed or elected?
WB: It is a committee so we are appointed by the selectmen.
JM: Who is the chairman right now?
WB: I am.
JM: When do you meet?
WB: We meet once a month. We’ll be meeting on April 20th. My co-chair is Janet Graaff.
JM: I do have a copy of your Mission statement.
“Appointed by the town’s selectmen, the SEDC is a group of concerned citizens whose role is to identify, create, assist and promote critical projects that benefit the residents, businessmen and government of the Township of Salisbury. The committee will act as a resource for project stakeholders offering advice, public promotion, and coordination while advocating for continued protection of our area’s rural character.”
JM: How many are on the board?
JM: Do you have 8 regulars or do you have alternates?
WB: They are all regulars. We probably should have some alternates.
JM: What are the responsibilities of the committee?
WB: The responsibilities of the committee are to further the economic vitality of the Township of Salisbury, not just the village of Salisbury.
JM: The Township includes many other smaller communities: Amesville, Lakeville, Lime Rock, Taconic, Twin Lakes, and Mt. Riga. Ed.)
JM: What are some of the changes that your committee has created?
WB: I think some of the initiatives that we have put forward, I am not sure we have actually created any. It is a process which involves thought. We are working on economic situation which is being led by
Janet Graaff and by Carol Sadlon. They are working what I suspect will be a new board at the Market Place to do something about the quagmire that includes that area down by LaBonne’s.
JM: We mentioned the last time high speed internet. How is that process going?
WB: High speed internet is a very complex problem. It is being made more complex by the amount of funding that is apparently hiding somewhere through the federal government. Sharon under the leadership of Jill Drew has really done an excellent job of preparing the town to either move forward or to vote against high speed internet for that township. We are positioned to follow Sharon should they be successful. We also are working with an organization called Northwest Connect. They have been pursued by Google. We’ll see how that goes.
JM: Is there a 10 conservancy plan for Salisbury? This is something that Abby Conroy worked with. (See her interview)
WB: I have no idea. It makes sense. I am not sure I understand your question.
JM: How the town develops with zoning, wetlands, with economic development and that sort of thing over a 10 years period.
WB: We are in the midst of working with P&Z (See interviews by Nancy Bruzie & Abby Conroy) on the next 10 year plan for the town.
JM: That is what I am asking you about. Will there be a lot of changes or just tweaking what we have?
WB: Lord knows! I hope so. To be honest I doubt it. Since the last 10 year plan never got off the shelf.
JM: Hope springs eternal. Is there anything you would like to add before we close this interview?
WB: Not really I might say that Salisbury is at a very critical juncture in its development. I do believe that the current resources of the town, the various committees may not be quite prepared for the changes that demographic shifts are bringing forward.
JM: True. Anything else
JM: Thank you very much.
WB: You are very welcome.