WOODFORD -- In 2013, Woodford saw a 13-acre forest fire, declining enrollment at the Woodford Hollow School, and a new bylaw that gives the town's zoning administrator teeth:
January 17 - A Massachusetts man was apprehended after he fled game wardens on his snowmobile. Game wardens on snowmobile patrol came across David Carpenter, 48, as he and two others were parked on the side of a trail with an open beer can on the back of his snowmobile. The wardens were escorting Carpenter to take a preliminary blood-alcohol test when he sped up. The wardens pursued Carpenter 4.5 miles, where they found him next to his pickup truck, with the keys in the ignition.
May 7 - A forest fire burned 13 acres of land near Prospect Mountain Nordic Ski Center, including several trails built by local cross-country ski legend Bucky Broomhall, who was inducted into the Vermont Ski Hall of Fame in 2009. The fire was only accessable with ATVs and four-wheel-drive trucks. More than 50 firefighters from across the county were able to contain the blaze before it could do any more damage.
August 13 - Faced with declining enrollment, Woodford Hollow School approved an advertisement for tuition students and a letter to board chairs of area non-operating school districts, who are free to send their students to Woodford. In Bennington County, these districts include Winhall, Sandgate, Searsburg, and North Bennington, which had previously been a member of the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union before opening the independent Village School of North Bennington. The advertisement touted Woodford's high math scores, among the best in the district, among other advantages of Woodford. Woodford's 2014 fall enrollment is expected to be between 15-18 students, down from 27 in 2012 and 22 in 2013.
November 22 - Woodford Select Board approved a new bylaw that would allow the town's zoning administrator to levy fines against residents who don't conform to zoning bylaws. Selectman Ryan Thurber pointed out that there was no penalty for illegal building in Woodford, and several residents had told the ZA, when he informed them of a violation, "that there was nothing he could do." The fine would equal either $50 or the state-recommended fine (not to exceed $200) a day until the violation is fixed.
November 26 - After internal debate, the Woodford Select Board agreed to pay its outstanding bills to the Bennington County Sheriff's Department. They had voted to withhold payment to the sheriff, whose deputies are contracted to patrol Woodford, until the department provided data on ticket revenue within the town. The sheriff's department made clear that it would cease patrols immediately until the bills were paid, causing the select board to hold a special meeting in which they agreed to make the payments.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB