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(NECN: Jack Thurston, Barre, Vt.) - Carol Garland spent Monday morning digging for buried treasure.
"I Took a day off from work to do this," she chuckled, heaving a
dirt-covered block of stone into the back of a flat-bed truck.
The Barre, Vt. homeowner is one of well over 100 who have picked
through a mountain of earth and rock the city dumped in a lot on
Farwell Street over the past few weeks.
Garland was looking for historic granite cobblestones to make repairs to her property and build a patio. "It's a lot of elbow grease, though," the exasperated digger said, smiling.
The granite cobblestones came from Main Street in Barre. It is
undergoing a big downtown revitalization to the tune of $18-million,
most of which will be paid for with federal highway dollars. The
project, many years in the planning, will create new sewer lines,
sidewalks, and street lights in the business district.
In peeling back the layers of asphalt, the workers are finding tens of
thousands of hand-shaped granite blocks from the early 1900s that once
paved the main drag.
"I think it's great we're recycling them," said Barre Mayor Thom
Lauzon. "Granite has always been important to Barre, and will always
be important to Barre."
Many residents moved to Barre generations ago to work in the city's
stone industry. The city is famous for its monument-carving studios,
and many sites around the community showcase the stoneworkers'
However, Lauzon explained rules governing the federal money used for
the revitalization project meant the old granite cobbles had to go in
favor of approved building materials. Lauzon added he couldn't stand
the thought of them going to waste. "It's personally important to me
that people enjoy them," he said.
Lauzon said people who want cobblestones may check in with city hall
and sign a form to take away stones free of charge. Recipients have to
promise not to sell or hoard the granite, the mayor explained. The
cobblestone request form notes that the giveaway is on a first-come,
first-served basis, with priority given to Barre taxpayers.
Barre business owner Dan Jones took a trunk full of cobblestones to
create a border for new shrubs he planted outside his Maplecroft Bed &
Breakfast. The property was built by a granite industry executive,
Jones said. "When I heard they were available, I thought, 'What better
way to honor him,'" the innkeeper recalled. "I think it's exciting!"
With Barre's Big Dig continuing all summer, thousands of more
cobblestones are sure to turn up.
Carol Garland can use the money she saved on building materials to
entertain on her new granite patio. "It's going to be really nice,"