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NCCC Students to gain hands-on experience in Newport farmhouse restoration

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NEWPORT — The North Country Career Center (NCCC) and Newport City Downtown Development (NCDD) have announced a joint venture to renovate the vacant farmhouse located at the intersection of East Main and Union Streets.

Jeremy Broe, the Building Trades program instructor at NCCC, stated that the project would commence once students are acclimated to their school routines. The initial phase will involve a safety review with second-year students, followed by the setup of scaffolding in mid-September to replace the farmhouse roof. NCCC Director Gwen Bailey-Rowe emphasized that this initiative marks a return to the institution’s foundational focus on home building and renovation.

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Project’s Genesis

The project’s inception can be traced back to Spring 2022 when Representative Mike Marcotte, Chair of the House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development, collaborated with stakeholders and legislators. Their goal was to address two pressing issues in Vermont: the scarcity of affordable housing and the need to encourage young Vermonters to pursue careers in the trades.

Act 183, signed by Governor Scott on June 8, 2022, incorporated funding for the “CTE Construction and Rehabilitation Experiential Learning Program and Revolving Loan Fund.” This fund aims to enhance experiential learning opportunities for CTE students, foster community partnerships, rejuvenate underutilized buildings, expand housing access, and elevate property values while imparting trade skills to students.

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To finance the purchase of the property at 23 East Main St in Newport, NCDD and NCCC approached the Vermont Community Loan Fund. This organization administers no-interest loans to Vermont’s career centers and their collaborators.

Will Begonia of the Vermont Community Loan Fund highlighted the dual benefits of this initiative, emphasizing its potential to address Vermont’s broader challenges related to employment and housing.

Since March 2023, key figures from NCDD and NCCC, including NCDD’s Director Rick Ufford-Chase and Bailey-Rowe, collaborated with the Vermont Community Loan Fund to finalize the property’s acquisition. On August 7, 2023, the property’s former owners, Steve Mason and Patricia Sears, officially handed over the keys to Ufford-Chase.

Ufford-Chase lauded the collaboration, noting its alignment with NCDD’s mission of revitalizing downtown Newport. He emphasized the project’s multifaceted benefits, from nurturing the next generation of building trades professionals to addressing Newport’s pressing housing needs. While NCDD will hold the property title and oversee finances, NCCC will function as the General Contractor, with students gaining hands-on experience under the guidance of their instructor and subcontractors.

The project is expected to engage students for a minimum of two years, with potential subsequent developments on the same property.

A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for September 29th at 1 p.m., with invitations extended to Governor Scott, state legislative leaders, and the Superintendent of Schools.

For more information on adult education opportunities at NCCC, visit NCCC’s website. To learn more about NCDD’s revitalization efforts in downtown Newport, visit Discover Newport or reach out to Gwen Bailey-Rowe or Rick Ufford-Chase.

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