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Joey Kulkin
Annnnd the pitch ...
Annnnd the pitch ...


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May 25
Joey Kulkin to John Zaikowski
Zaikowski: ANR general counsel, enforcement and litigation chief

Hi, John, it's been 5 weeks since our last correspondence. Can you give me an update on where the lawyerly stuff is regarding the illegally built salt shed at 78 Bowen Road in Bennington?

May 25
John Zaikowski to Joey Kulkin

The assigned attorney is finishing his coordination with the programs and anticipates initiating the case within the next week.

Salt Shed emails
Salt Shed emails
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Some time in 1870: Hotel Putnam, a 50,000 square foot building, is built after Henry W. Putnam. It's a mainstay of Bennington's downtown and is visited in 1877 by President Rutherford B. Hayes.

Per Bennington's inventory on its Register of National Historic Places nomination form in 1979, the Putnam Hotel is a "Three-story, 7x13 bay brick hotel and commercial building. Some storefronts are modern; others retain original cast iron pilasters from Cohoes, New York. Upper floors have 6/6 windows with segmental heads under segmental arches with corbelled label molds and marble keystones and sills. Molded wooden cornice on large scroll-sawn brackets. A painted brick belt course separates the second and third floors. Constructed in 1870 by H.W. Putnam after fire destroyed the Mt. Anthony house. A two-story porch was added in 1877 and removed sometime after 1921. The hotel was formerly known for the luxurious accommodations in its 75 rooms, and proudly advertised its use of steam heat and electricity when those services were rare. Its mass, style, and detailing strongly anchor the southwest corner of Putnam Square, and the shape of the building provides a smooth transition from Main Street to South Street."

Read more:

Some time in the 1970's: Putnam Hotel stops being a hotel.

October 2005: Jack Appleman buys the 125-year-old property, once a destination hotel but now in state of extreme disrepair, for $1.4 million and hires Bennington municipal planner Bill Colvin to help him redevelop it.

October 2009: Jack Appleman says Jason Morrissey, attorney for the Greenberg property, has been scuttling his plans behind the scenes.

Read the story:,130461

October 2011: Post-recession, Jack Appleman craps out and quit-deeds the property back to the Greenbergs.

Read the story:

May 2013: Bill Colvin, assistant director of the Bennington Country Regional Commission, defines the need and leads the effort for the Town to do its first ever Economic Development Strategy and focuses on strategy 9.

Read the strategy:

April 2014: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment completed by Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. on Greenberg Hardware, Mobil, and Winslow Building.

May 2014: Limited Subsurface Investigation completed by Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. on Greenberg Hardware, Mobil, and Winslow Building.

June 5, 2014: Select Board members Tom Jacobs and Michael Keane team with Town engineer Jason Dolmetsch of MSK and architect Jeff Goldstone to form Putnam Square Partners. ... "They formed the LLC just so there was an entity to try to get an option on the Greenberg properties," said a person who knew about the plan. "They made an offer with no money attached and it went nowhere. They wanted an option period to round up supporters and put an offer together. No response from Greenberg -- ever."

PSP registration with SoS:

September 2014: Town of Bennington applies for $62,000 state EPA grant for Downtown Area Wide Study, which would be managed by Bill Colvin of the Bennington County Regional Commission. Study focuses on downtown brownfields and redevelopment scenarios for the Greenberg Block.

Read the application:

February 2015: Select Board candidate Joey Kulkin explains his vision for bringing a Hilton Canopy to the old Putnam Hotel ... an idea that is ridiculed by sitting Select Board members.

February 2015: Incumbent Select Board candidate Jim Carroll declares the Greenberg brothers will never sell the property "piecemeal" when in fact the property was at the time listed for sale in parcels. Carroll also says Town should buy the property with taxpayers footing the bill.

Loopnet listing showing Greenberg "piecemeal" property:

March 2015: St. Albans officials come to the Bennington Museum to give a presentation on downtown revitalization.

Read the story:

May 2015: Greenberg block goes on the market in one piece.

See the listing:

July 2015: Bennington Banner reports on the Downtown Area Wide Study focusing on brownfields with a special development emphasis on the Greenberg Block.

Read the story:

September 16, 2015: Bill Colvin of the BCRC, Bennington Assistant Town Manager Dan Monks, and Kevin Dailey of the Southwestern Vermont Health Center create Healthy Homes for Bennington L3C.

December 2, 2015: Select Board Chair Tom Jacobs holds a secret business summit at Bennington College for hand-picked investors in the months ahead of his re-election campaign; Select Board member Jim Carroll begs the presidents of Southern Vermont College and Bennington College, as well as the CEO of the hospital, to get taxpayers to buy Greenberg block.

Read the story:

March 2016: Bill Colvin of the BCRC presents Downtown Area Wide Study.

Read the story:

April 28, 2016: Bennington Redevelopment Group LLC incorporates with Vermont Secretary of State. Bill Colvin of the BCRC is point man.

April 28, 2016: Tom Dee, Chief Executive Officer, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, promises big news for Bennington relating to economic development with ties to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

Read the story:

June 2016: Supplemental Subsurface Investigation and Limited Soil Gas Sampling Investigation completed by VHB to further investigate contamination identified by previous investigations at Greenberg Hardware and Winslow Building.

June 28, 2016: BRG signs option agreement with the Greenbergs to buy several Putnam Block historic buildings, Oldcastle Theater building, and the Mobil gas station. The properties span 4 acres. Price tag is $2 million.

July 5, 2016: Bill Colvin leads a star-studded press event to announce that Bennington Redevelopment Group LLC has secured an option to buy the block in 90 days, pending results of an environmental study, with plans to turn the decrepit block into housing, offices, and eateries.

Full press conference:

WCAX story:

Info, visuals for Putnam, M&S:

July 11, 2016: Bill Colvin makes first public presentation to Select Board.

Read the minutes:

Watch presentation:

August 2016: Environmental Site Assessment completed by Sanborn, Head & Associates for all Site properties.

August 12, 2016: Bill Colvin tells Chris Bates in an interview that there has been no luck in finding a hotelier showing an urgency to become part of the Putnam Block.

Watch the interview:

August 15, 2016: Bank of Bennington President Jim Brown says concerned locals met sometime in the summer of 2015 to start reversing the blight of Downtown Bennington.

Read story:

September 26, 2016: Select Board discusses whether the Town should pay for a downtown hotel viability study.

Watch the discussion:

September 27, 2016: The Greenberg brothers give BRG a 90-day extension to weed thru the environmental report that weighs in at 4,500 pages.

Read the report:

October 10, 2016: A lot of handwringing during Select Board meeting over whether Town should pay for downtown hotel feasibility study, two weeks after the board showed excitement for such a study. Local hoteliers present spurious data while trying to persuade the board not to use public funds to pay for a study.

Watch the discussion:

October 24, 2016: Joey Kulkin and Suzanne Wright facilitate conference with Hay Creek, a hotel developer interested in the Greenberg property.

October 26, 2016: U.S. Congressman Peter Welch tours Putnam Block and calls redevelopment project "top tier" ... Read the story:

October 31, 2016: Joey Kulkin and Suzanne Wright facilitate conference with Migis, a hotel developer interested in the Greenberg property.

November 3, 2016: The Town hires Pinnacle Advisory Group to do a study on whether downtown can support a hotel.

Read the contract:

November 8, 2016: Hotel Putnam Buildings LLC resumes suit against tenants of the Drysdale Building who utilize an unauthorized easement on property owned by the Greenbergs. Settlement talks begin.

"The parking issue is a total a Red Herring," said a person who knows of the suit and settlement talks. "The Kings bought the very first condo and know there never has been dedicated parking. Sounds like they now want out and are trying to either force a sale or increase the value their unit by leveraging the suit. If the Greenbergs get frustrated enough they could always either drop the suit (barring counter claims) or buy the King's unit."

Read the suit and settlement talks:

Read original litigation concerns in 2012:

November 17, 2016: Pinnacle representative comes to Bennington to gather data for Phase 1 of the study.

November 23, 2016: Doug Kennedy Advisors complete calculations regarding employment that will be generated by the Putnam Block project.

Read Kennedy's memo:

November 26, 2016: A person with knowledge of the study says one of the large businesses in town told PInnacle that it fills 1,000 rooms a year, which is one more indicator signifying the need for a downtown hotel.

December 1, 2016: Nobis Engineering back on site to take samples from monitoring wells. Results expected back by week of December 19.

December 5, 2016: Putnam Block unveils Facebook and Web pages.



December 6, 2016: Bill Colvin says Healthy Homes Bennington L3C has nothing to do with the Putnam redevelopment project.

December 8, 2016: Draft of Phase I of Pinnacle study delivered to the Town and is said to be "very encouraging" ...

December 12, 2016: Bill Colvin of the Bennington Redevelopment Group gives the Select Board info about a $1.25 million Vermont Community Development Program grant that BRG needs the Town to apply for.

Read the VCDP document:

Watch the presentation (29-minute mark):

See the drawings:

Kitchen Table Consultants study:

December 14, 2016: Phase 1 of Pinnacle study is finalized with the following summary: "In conjunction with the revitalization of downtown Bennington, we believe there is demand for a new hotel development. Additionally we believe the presence of a hotel would complement any efforts to revitalize downtown." ... Therefore, Town authorizes Pinnacle to begin Phase 2, due in the week of January 9-14, 2017.

Read Phase 1 report:

December 20, 2016: Bill Colvin, assistant director of the BCRC and head of the Bennington Redevelopment Group, explains how the Putnam project began: "The December 2nd business summit at CAPA had nothing to do with the Putnam project. Some of the folks that attended CAPA and who are now involved in BRG had been meeting well before CAPA and continued after looking for a way to have the private sector play a role in spurring the local economy. They asked me to come help them identify opportunities in February. I quickly convinced them with the recent completion of the Bennington Downtown Area Wide Plan that following up on that plan and trying to redevelop the Putnam Block presented the best opportunity to have a significant impact on the Bennington economy. No big aha, nothing earth shattering. Working on a plan and then trying to implement it -- solid, basic economic development."

December 24, 2016: The 90-day extension is set to expire in 48 hours, which activates the BRG's 30-day clock to buy the property from the Greenbergs, Bill Colvin said "All parties have agreed to a short (mid-Jan) extension of the Option Agreement to get through the Holidays and allow a bit more time for negotiations."

January 5, 2017: A local lobby of anti-competition hoteliers delivers reckless info to the Select Board because they don't want a downtown hotel.

Read their stuff:

January 6, 2017: All sides agree on easement settlement. BRG will decide whether to exercise option or quit on January 20.

January 12, 2017: Early word is Phase 2 of Pinnacle's study is strong in that "You will be pleased." The final report is due by January 18 or 19.

January 19, 2017: Bennington pays $5,000 to join a consortium of towns -- Rutland, Springfield, Montpelier and Newport -- that hired lobbyist White + Burke Real Estate Investment Advisors, Inc. to get Montpelier lawmakers to lift the cap on TIF districts. Bennington Redevelopment Group needs the cap to be lifted for debt financing on infrastructure.

Read the contract:

January 20, 2017: For the third time, Bill Colvin announces a delay on the BRG exercising its $2 million option to buy the properties.

January 23, 2017: Colvin requests, and Select Board votes 6-0 in favor of, the Town applying for $1.25 million in VCDP grants that will be used with other monies to clean up the historic properties.

Read the grant app project description:

January 24, 2017: Pinnacle's meat and potatoes Phase 2 report concludes that a full-service hotel in Downtown Bennington is an economic catalyst best suited to work in concert with the $54 million Putnam Block project.

Read the Phase 2 report:

January 30, 2017: Director of Finance from Buckminster Hotel in Boston shows interest in joining the project.

January 30, 2017: Karen Whitman, Hilton's senior director of development for the Northeast, follows up an initial phone conversation with Joey Kulkin with email: "It was nice connecting with you this morning. As I mentioned, I work for Hilton Worldwide and am responsible for growing our brands in New England and New York State. I am very familiar with Bennington, VT as I worked on the Hampton Inn when it was developed many years ago. I would suggest that your team look at developing our newest brand, Tapestry, a Hilton Collection Hotel. It is a soft brand that will enable you to have your own identity and is supported fully by the Hilton engine. Please let me know how I can help."

January 31, 2017: Senior VP of development and planning from Hay Creek tours Greenberg Block with Bill Colvin.

January 31, 2017: Town amends project description of $1.25 million VCDP grant proposal by saying the Bennington County Industrial Corporation will use funds "for property acquisition and/or soft costs associated with the redevelopment. These funds will target economic development by creating jobs for persons at or below 80% of Area Median Income (National Objective: Low-to-Moderate-Income Job Creation)."

Read the amended proposal:

February 2, 2017: From a New England hotel executive: "We work with Pinnacle a lot. If they see a market I would trust it. If anything we have found them to be conservative in their studies."

February 3, 2017: Developer who liked idea of returning the Hotel Putnam to its original purpose says "After review of the plans have to agree that a new build hotel may be best for the site and overall project."

February 7, 2017: Migis Hotel Group COO Peter Twachtman, who grew up 20 miles east of Bennington in Wilmington, shows renewed enthusiasm for a hotel on the Putnam Block after reading Pinnacle study and having a lengthy phone call with Bill Colvin.

February 8, 2017: Town submits $1.25 million VCDP grant application despite objections from annual Select Board candidate Mike Bethel, who wants to scuttle the grant because of issues with the amendment regarding the BCIC. Bill Colvin says it's wasted motion because "It was all cleared and being followed exactly per instructions of VCDP."

February 8, 2017: Bennington County Reps. Marry Morrissey of Bennington, Tim Corcoran II of Bennington, Rae Fields of Bennington, Kiah Morris of Bennington, Brian Keefe of Manchester, Alice Miller of Shaftsbury and Laura Sibilia of Dover introduce House bill H.215 entitled "An act relating to the creation of a tax increment financing district in Bennington" ... which would lift the cap and allow Bennington to create a TIF district.

Read the story:,498567

Follow the bill:

February 10, 2017: BCIC agrees to step into interim ownership role.

February 16, 2017: Nobis delivers Phase II environmental report that weighs in at 450 pages. State must review it. Cost estimate for Site soil excavation and removal is $687,144. Other cleanup costs connected to TCE soil vapor testing and mitigation, tank pulls, asbestos and lead paint removal. Rough estimate for asbestos removal in Putnam and Pennysaver is $400,000. No estimate for lead paint removal.

Read the report:

February 17, 2017: All parties come to agreement in easement lawsuit.

February 18, 2017: Big letdown as Hay Creek makes first offer: "We would be open to a consulting and management opportunity if your investor partners are willing to underwrite and own the hotel project."

Read Dan Mahoney's email:

February 20, 2017: State Sen. Cynthia Browning (Arlington), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, tells Bennington to get bent by stating her opposition to lifting the cap on TIF districts.

Read her remarks:

February 20, 2017: Longtime State Sen. Dick Sears (Bennington) responds to Browning's remarks: "That's the view of many on the House Ways and Means Committee. I have had several conversations with the Chair of that committee. That was why I thought we should do a Senate Amendment for Bennington on a must pass House bill. However they decided to join forces with several other community's and felt that they have a greater chance of lifting the cap for all. One positive note is Bill Botzow Chairs the House Commerce Committee and Brian is now a member of Senate Finance and that should help. Time will tell." ... Botzow (Pownal) and Brian (Campion, Bennington) are part of the Bennington County delegation.

February 21, 2017: Cake Gallery, one of the first-floor tenants in the Putnam Hotel, closes for good.

February 24, 2017: Hay Creek offers proposal for technical services & management, which is a letdown.

Read the proposal:

March 1, 2017: Joey Kulkin sends out 55 emails to hotel developers around the country with several dozen more emails on tap.

March 3, 2017: David White of white+burke testifies before Senate Finance committee about lifting the cap on TIF districts in Vermont.

Listen to testimony (download the MP3 and White starts his portion at the 30-minute mark):

March 7, 2017: Bennington Redevelopment Group releases Putnam Block marketing brochure.

Read the brochure:

March 8, 2017: Hay Creek bows out of discussions.

March 20, 2017: Joey Kulkin has phone chat with developer MCR.

March 22, 2017: Owl's Nest, a first-floor tenant in the Putnam Hotel, says it plans to move to its annex on East Main effecting September 1.

March 22, 2017: New Castle Hotels and Resorts shows "interest" after initial email from Joey Kulkin, who sets up phone chat.

April 1, 2017: Bennington Redevelopment Group shows disinterest in funding Phase 3 from Pinnacle, which would begin the Request for Proposals process i.e. sending out calls to hotel developers. Meanwhile, BRG believes it can entice at least 29 empty-nesters to throw down $150,000 to become renters in its "Membership Housing" block.

April 2, 2017: Migis executive says "I thought this hotel project portion would be funded through BRG, and not a hotel developer. I think for now we're only interested in 3rd party management versus tying up long range cash" ... meaning Migis is likely out of the picture as a hotel developer.

April 2, 2017: Bill Colvin suggests that a group of local people form an LLC to become owners of a hotel.

April 3, 2017: Joey Kulkin has phone conference with New Castle LLC about developing a hotel within the project.

April 5, 2017: A scene from Lou Grant hits the nail on head as it relates to the convoluted financing scheme of the Putnam Block.

Watch it:

April 5, 2017: Jacqueline Carson says she is going to open a functional art gallery in the former Cake gallery space, starting May 1.

April 6, 2017: Joey Kulkin talks to Bennington native and accountant Chris Macksey of Williamstown Mass about building a hotel in the project and introduces him to Bill Colvin.

April 8, 2017: Joey Kulkin introduces Bill Colvin to attorney Karl Piirimae of Windels, Marx to see if there might be a collaboration in the offing. (Update 4/17: "not a fit at this time" to be legal counsel for the project.)

April 9, 2017: Fiddlehead at Four Corners art gallery owner Joel Lentzner writes a letter to members of the BRG and urges them to pursue a hotel developer.

April 10, 2017: Fiddlehead at Four Corners owner Joel Lentzner gives Select Board a petition signed by downtown property and business owners who want the Town to aggressively recruit hotel developers.

Watch it:

April 11, 2017: Joey Kulkin has productive phone chat with BBL Hospitality about building a hotel.

April 11, 2017: Bill Colvin requests Phase 3 proposal from Pinnacle. It's the phase where Pinnacle sends RFP's to 20 hotel developers. It costs $15,000.

Read the proposal:

April 16, 2017: Bennington Banner writes an editorial on what the fight for a downtown hotel is doing to segments of the business community.

Read the editorial:,504587

April 17, 2017: David White of white+burke explained his company's fee structure for helping St. Albans get a downtown hotel: "We provided a broad range of services related to finding a hotel developer, including identifying prospective developers, assembling the information for an RFP, preparing the RFP, promoting the RFP, receiving proposals, evaluating the proposals, interviewing the finalists (along with City representatives), meeting with the City Council to explain the options and our recommendations, negotiating the agreement with the developer, helping the City evaluate, negotiate and structure its financial participation in the hotel project, etc. This work was done speculatively, that is, we took the risk of only getting paid if the property was sold to a developer. For that we were paid $100,000 at closing on the sale. The total project cost is a bit over $11million, so our fee was less than 1% of total project cost." ... And when asked the likelihood of St. Albans securing a hotel developer without the $1 million equity the city threw in or a TIF for the improvements the city did for the hotel, White said "Close to zero chance the hotel would have gone forward in St. Albans without TIF and the City's $1MM. Like most purely private development in Vermont downtowns outside of Chittenden County, the numbers for the hotel didn't work without the public involvement."

April 17, 2017: Joey Kulkin corresponds with St. Albans city manager Dom Cloud about Pinnacle and white+burke. When told that Pinnacle quoted Bennington a Phase 3 (RFP's) at $15,000 for 20 development contacts, Cloud said "I think you’re getting a great price for 15,000 for 20 contacts with Pinnacle. They are very different firms and we felt like we needed both. Remember, the City was very much the lead developer in this project and we weren’t able to hand it off until it was fully baked." ... When asked what would have been the likelihood of St. Albans securing a developer without the $1MM equity the city threw in? Without a TIF and the improvements the City did for the hotel?" Cloud said "The million in equity was probably the least important. That was more a matter of timeliness. The TIF is the game changer. We needed structured parking. If you didn’t need structured parking, it would be easier to do without TIF. It also depends on the strength of your feasibility study."

April 18, 2017: Bill Colvin meets with Main Street Hospitality CEO.

April 21, 2017: Bill Colvin meets with Framework Properties, which does adaptive reuse of historic properties such as the old Bennhi Middle School or Brush building.

May 1, 2017: Hotel developer MCR tells Joey Kulkin that the numbers don't make sense for them to build in Downtown Bennington.

May 4, 2017: The Putnam Block hosts an open house for the community that draws a standing room only crowd at Oldcastle Theatre.

Watch the presentation:

May 4, 2017: David White of white+burke pushes all who are concerned about lifting TIF caps to contact their state reps as the S.135 House-Senate conference committee has made little progress despite several meetings.

"The time is NOW to contact your representatives to the VT House – tell them how important TIF is to the future of your community. Ask them to lean on the House delegation (Botzow, Marcotte and Condon) as well as on House leadership. The S.135 House-Senate conference committee has met several times. Little progress has been made on the TIF portion of the bill. The House delegation is being very stubborn, clinging to the idea that TIF takes money from the education fund. The Senate delegation offered a compromise proposal:

* Keep the House “finding” language
* Allow total of 12 TIFs (vs 14 in the Senate version and only 2 in the House version)
* Revert to Senate passed provisions including the “but for”, four project criteria, no purely municipal TIFs, and no TIF study

"Senate reiterated its position that there is no forgone revenue to the education fund. House, through Rep. Jim Condon, who is speaking for House conferees on TIF, restated that they believe there is forgone revenue. But he added that “there may be room to find a balance”. This small statement indicates some level of potential movement on the House side. But we need to push them, through fellow representatives, to allow a compromise close to the Senate version. FYI -- I’ve attached a document that compares the Senate and House versions of S.135 side-by-side. TIF begins on page 12. Please call your Representatives now!"

Read a side by side comparison:

May 5, 2017: White sends an update ...

"Senate will accept the House proposal for Rural Economic Development Infrastructure Districts if House accepts this TIF proposal:

* Accepts House proposed finding
* Allows 8 new TIF Districts (vs 14 in Senate version and 2 in House version)
* Shortens window for new TIF districts to six years, from seven. (The legislature can then consider whether to allow more).
* Requires 10% more of increment on municipal side than education side (vs 5% in Senate proposal and 100% in House)
* Re-inserts "But For"
* Two of four Project criteria
* No transfer from Gen Fund to Ed Fund
* No "prudent" process
* No study
* No Muni-only TIF

"House made no commitment and may push back and want their Project Criteria language (3 of 5 and adds back in "But For-like" criteria A; "high-quality" vs "quality" jobs). The conference committee is likely to meet again on Monday. The legislature is reconvening on Wednesday. Hopefully a deal will be made by then. If you have not yet done so, please contact your local representatives to the House. Ask them to urge the House leadership (especially Mitzi Johnson and Janet Ancel) to accept a compromise close to the original Senate proposal."

May 8, 2017: Select Board authorizes Town Manager Stu Hurd to hire white+burke to begin the TIF process. Cost for the first 2 phases would be $15,000 and $20,000, respectively, and money would come from the Town's Economic Development Fund. The $35,000 would be recouped should Bennington be awarded a TIF district.

Read w+b's proposal:

May 8, 2017: David White sends an ominous email: "The Senate-House conference committee has not met since Friday. They are planning to meet tomorrow (Wednesday). It remains to be seen whether they will reach an agreement. If they fail to, TIF may be dead for this year. My understanding is the Senate negotiators are hanging tough at no fewer than eight TIF districts, but they could use support to keep strong."

May 12, 2017: Bill Colvin meets with BBL Hospitality. It goes well.

May 12, 2017: House-Senate conference committee reached agreement to allow 6 new TIF districts. Below are a section-by-section summary of S.135 as agreed to by the conference committee and the Report of the Committee of Conference on S.135 that includes the full text.

* By section:

* Full text:

May 12, 2017: Nobis submits 99-page Corrective Action Plan detailing options for environmental cleanup of the Putnam Block. Early word suggests the cleanup will cost about $1.25 million.

Read the report:

June 5, 2017: BRG applies for Federal Historic Tax Credits (thru National Park Service) for Pennysaver/Old Courthouse and Winslow Block.

June 20, 2017: Bennington Redevelopment Group (BRG) is seeking responses to its Request for Qualifications for construction management services At-Risk for the renovation of three historic buildings into 66,000+ square feet of mixed use retail, office and residential spaces in Bennington, VT. The construction manager (CM) will become a member of the project team including the Owner, the Owner’s Architects, Engineers, and other consultants. In submitting responses please address all the items and include any relevant information regarding your firm and the response.

Read the full proposed RFQ:

June 21, 2017: Reps from white+burke along with the Town throw a pizza party and TIF informational session with dozens of Bennington business owners and interested parties. At the end, Town interim community development chief Mike McDonough urges everyone in the room to be "leaders" and rally the community to vote for TIF bonding.

Read the story:,511359

June 27, 2017: Bill Colvin said closing on the sale is "likely weeks away."

Read the story:,511795

June 28, 2017: One-year anniversary of BRG signing option to buy Putnam Block properties from the Greenbergs for $2 million.

June 29, 2017: Bill Colvin makes presentation before Citizens For a Greater Bennington in hopes of securing $100,000.

June 29, 2017: National Park Service approves Federal Historic Tax Credits for Winslow Block.

June 30, 2017: BRG applies for Vermont Downtown and Village Center Tax Credits for Pennysaver/Old Courthouse and Winslow Block.

* Pennysaver application:
* Winslow application:

July 5, 2017: One-year anniversary of Bill Colvin's press conference.

July 9, 2017: National Park Service approves Federal Historic Tax Credits for Pennysaver/Old Courthouse.

July 12, 2017: Nobis Engineering makes presentation to the public regarding environmental cleanup.

Read the story:,513488

July 14, 2017: Town of Bennington awarded $1 million VCDP grant to be used as funding for Putnam Block Project.

July 25, 2017: Vermont Agency of Commerce approves Downtown and Village Center Tax Credits for Pennysaver/Old Courthouse ($491,003) and Winslow Block ($200,089).

August 17, 2017: Vermont Gov. Phil Scott comes to Downtown Bennington to present $1 million CDBG check.

Watch the video:

September 1, 2017: It's been 431 days since the BRG signed an option to buy the Greenberg properties and yet the title has not transferred.

September 5: Engineers for the Putnam Project appear before the Bennington Development Review Board to present plans for renovation of historic properties Pennysaver/Old Courthouse, Putnam Hotel, Winslow Building. Main Street resident and business owner states concerns about environmental cleanup re: stockpiling contaminants so close to abutting property owners who have children. He also has concerns about "thousands of dead pigeons" and how they plan to dispose of all that pigeon shit.

Watch the presentation:

September 5, 2017: Word on the street is that the local investors might have new life in New Market Tax Credit pursuits, maybe enough to get all $23 million to fund Phase I.

September 7, 2017: Bill Colvin manipulates state officials with lies while degrading citizens who state their concerns about environmental cleanup at the project site.

Read the emails:

September 11, 2017: Joey Kulkin's letter to the editor about environmental concerns appears in Bennington Banner and kickstarts a flurry of emails between Putnam Project managers, architects, environmental consultants, and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.

September 11, 2017: By a vote of 7-0, Bennington Select Board approves TIF District Plan as was expected the entire time.

Read the TIF District Plan:

September 18, 2017: After 448 days, Greenberg properties transfer to BCIC. It is explained by a person in the know that the Greenbergs will continue to carry a note for the whole property until financing is lined up and the investors buy them out for 2 million dollars. The only cash the Greenbergs have received since the option was signed by all parties on June 28, 2016 is $100,000 in "earnest" money. Word is the BRG has spent $1.6 million in predevelopment costs up to now.

Read the PR:

September 19, 2017: State of Vermont releases emails between Putnam Project managers, architects, environmental consultants, and the DEC. The emails show a clear attempt by the project managers to belittle a citizen's concerns while stressing the unequivocal importance of pushing the project forward. They speak to issues of coercion, professionalism, bullying, as well as public access and participation.

September 19, 2017: A Putnam Project engineer appears before the Bennington Development Review Board for required second hearing. Afterward, the frontman for the BRG, Bill Colvin, apologizes to Joey Kulkin for slandering his name to the DEC. "I needed ammunition," Colvin admitted to Kulkin in relation to coercing DEC commissioner Trish Coppolino to negate Kulkin's letter to the editor. Under false pretenses, Colvin deemed Kulkin an "opponent" who potentially scuttled the entire project with his letter to the editor.

Watch hearing:

Read Colvin's email:

September 22, 2017: Bennington DRB approves Phase 1 construction of Pennysaver, Putnam Hotel, and Winslow Building.

Read approval:

October 18, 2017: Vermont Economic Progress Council holds public hearing in Bennington to elicit comment regarding TIF.

Listen to the hearing:

October 19, 2017: Word is that Phase 1 environmental cleanup and construction will not begin for at least 5 months because New Market Tax Credits funding did not come through in this round of awards.

October 20, 2017: The Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation, one of the Community Development Entities that awards New Market Tax Credits, says that the Bennington Redevelopment Group will not receive their funding because the Putnam Block Project will not create a substantial number of jobs for low-income people.

November 17, 2017: Vermont Economic Progress Council approves Bennington's TIF District, allowing the Town to bond for infrastructure work to spur private development. Bennington is the first town since 2013 to receive TIF approval and first town ever south of Route 4.

Read the story:,525275

December 5, 2017: Town treasurer says Bennington Redevelopment Group has paid all taxes in the amount of $77,897.41 for 2017-18.

December 19, 2017: In a request to the state, BRG asks for extension on conditions of $1M grant. Deadline was January 1, 2018 but the extension is granted till July 1, 2018 "due to unforeseen project delays that occurred since the submission of the application for this grant." The end of the request reads: "Our current schedule has a financial closing expected in spring 2018, with environmental remediation commencing in May 2018 and construction expected to commence in June 2018. Construction on the first phase of the project is expected to be completed in September 2019." LOL.

Read the request:

January 12, 2018: The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, which is part of the U.S. Treasury, releases a report showing how much New Markets Tax Credit allocations each Community Development Entity (lender) has remaining. As of 1/12/18, Vermont Rural Ventures, Mascoma Savings, and Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation have a combined 71 million dollars in allocation remaining -- but only 27 million of that is for "non-metro" ... which is for places like Bennington. The Bennington Redevelopment Group has applied to those 3 CDEs for New Markets lending.

Read the report:

January 24, 2018: Vermont Housing & Conservation Board defers on giving the BRG $643,000 grant pending more information.

Read the minutes:

February 8, 2018: With no money and little hope remaining, BRG puts out a BS post on Facebook: "Construction is set to begin this summer! A financial closing is expected in spring 2018, with construction commencing in May/June 2018. Construction on the first phase of the project is expected to be completed in September 2019. This project relies on funding from many sources, including federal programs like the USDA Community Facilities Loan Program, Federal Historic Tax Credits and New Markets Tax Credits. Because such funding is dependent on Federal budget allocations, Federal Legislation, and funding award decisions based in Washington, the project can and has experienced delays."

February 9, 2018: Bennington Banner continues to carry BRG's water by refusing to report any factual information.

Read the story:,531567

February 13, 2018: CDFI Fund awards $3.5 billion allocation to 73 community development entities (lenders), including $60 million to VRV and $65 million to Massachusetts Housing. VRV and MHIC are 2 of the 3 lenders the BRG is depending on for allocation to fund Phase 1 construction.

Read the CDFI awards booklet:

February 16, 2018: Bennington Banner reports "The developers of the $53 million Putnam Block revitalization effort have announced a new timeline for the project, with financing of phase one to be completed by the spring, and groundbreaking as early as May."

Read the story:…/new-timeline-hope-putnam-block-rede…/

February 20, 2018: Bill Colvin tells Chris Bates of Bennington Unwrapped where the project stands at the moment.

Watch the interview:

March 15, 2018: The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board awards $643,000 grant to the Bennington Redevelopment Group via Shires Housing thereby making the Putnam Project, should it come to fruition, one of the state's most expensive low-income housing tenements.

Read the minutes:

Read a VHCB draft agreement:

March 27, 2018: USDA Rural Development awards Community Facilities Real Estate Inc. out of Brattleboro a $1.7 million grant to create housing in the Winslow Building.

Read the application:

April 27, 2018: Josh Hanford, Deputy Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development says "To date, (Agency of Commerce and Community Development) has provided no brownfield grants, loans or funds to the Bennington Redevelopment Group or the Town of Bennington for brownfield remediation for Phase 1 of the Putnam Block Project."

May 1, 2018: BRG -- local investors behind the Putnam Project -- has not completed the $1.9 million financial closing with the Greenberg estate and is still working on the financial schemes.

May 7, 2018: The Windham Regional Commission is expected to close by month's end on a loan to the BRG for cleanup of Phase 1. The money would come from WRC's EPA Revolving Loan Fund grant.

May 9, 2018: The Windham Regional Commission is likely to loan $430,000 in EPA Revolving Loan Funds to the BRG for environmental cleanup.

Amounts of RLF loans given by Windham Regional Commission in recent years:

May 15, 2018: Word on the street is that the start of the project has been postponed to July and probably even longer.

May 20, 2018: Word on the street is that a major investor -- possibly one of the New Markets Tax Credit lenders -- has "pulled out" and that the project has been postponed indefinitely. This correlates to more word on the street that as of May 19, Nobis Engineering has not been contracted to do environmental cleanup.

May 21, 2018: As suspected, the project has issues with one of the New Markets Tax Credit investors. The dollar amount being used for the purported lost investor is $4 million. It's also been rumored that the cost of Phase 1 is not $23.4 million but much closer to $28 million.

May 22, 2018: EQX 102.7 radio station in Manchester, taking a tip from Joey Kulkin weeks earlier, opens pop-up shop in the empty retail space next to the barber. EQX gets to use the space in exchange for promoting the Putnam Block Project on the radio. It's a ruse, of course. Also, Putnam Block tenants have not received a letter that says environmental cleanup is starting in 90 days.

Read the EQX story:

May 23, 2018: As of today, these are some of the revenue streams, which add up to $19 million, or $4+ million short of the $23.2 million price tag. Word on the street is that the BRG actually has $24 million and is $4 million short of the the new $28 million price tag.

-- New Markets Tax Credits ($12M)
-- Federal Historic Tax Credits ($3.3M)
-- Vermont Historic Tax Credits (about $1M)
-- Vermont CDBG grant ($1M)
-- USDA Rural Development Loan ($1.7M)
-- VHCB grant lol ($635K)
-- EPA RLF loan ($430K)
-- Town of Bennington RLF loan ($200K)
-- Local big investors ( unknown )
-- Local small investors ( unknown )

May 25, 2018: Word on the street is Bill Colvin, frontman for Bennington Redevelopment Group, or the local investors, is telling people the cost of Phase 1 is now $28 million when once it was $18 million. The $28 million is an increase of $4 million and even $24 million is ridiculous, one person in the loop said, "because it's only going to end up with 60,000 square feet so that comes out to $400 a square foot -- and nothing should cost $400 a square foot." ... Colvin has reportedly said BRG has $24 million but that the $24 million is a house of cards without the last $4 million. This is one more reason to believe the $4 million was supposed to come from a New Markets Tax Credit lender.

May 30, 2018: "Something screwy is going on."

June 1, 2018: We are approaching 2 years (June 28, 2016) since the BRG signed an option to buy the property from the Greenberg brothers and the start of construction is nowhere in sight. Confusion and silence reign supreme. Word on the street is that folks from the Bennington County Industrial Corporation (temporary owner of the property) "don't even know" the financial status of the project. ... Another person said that if BRG doesn't get the remaining $4 million, the rest of the money implodes.

June 4, 2018: Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development says BRG, thru the Town of Bennington, has requested another extension on conditions to receive $1M state grant. The first extension request, on December 19, 2017, was granted to July 1, 2018.

Read the request:

June 5, 2018: Vermont Economic Development Authority says it holds a loan application and is actively following the project ... and that the project has not yet reached a stage where loan officers can take it to the board for approval. "But we (along with lots of folks!) are hopeful that it is getting close," said Sam Buckley, commercial loan officer.

June 5, 2018: Bob Crego of M&S Development in Brattleboro, one of the project managers, emails Vermont brownfield program: "The 90‐day notice is a URA requirement relative to our Community Development Block Grant funding. We have 3 tenants in the Putnam Block’s historic buildings who we have kept apprised of the project progress. At this point we are completing our project financing and look to close in the fall, with construction planned through early 2020. We will need to make a decision soon regarding issuing the notices. The second phase of the project is dependent on financing; construction wouldn’t occur until 2020 at the earliest."

June 5, 2018: Someone in the know confirmed that one of the New Markets Tax Credit lenders pulled out of the project.

June 6, 2018: A little thought processing ...

* On February 13, 2018, CDFI Fund awards $3.5 billion allocation to 73 community development entities (lenders), including $60 million to VRV and $65 million to Massachusetts Housing. VRV and MHIC are 2 of the 3 lenders the BRG is depending on for allocation to fund Phase 1 construction.

* On February 27, 2018, Bill Colvin goes on Chris Bates' Bennington Unwrapped teevee show and says "The good news for the project is we had contingent allocation from 2 CDEs saying that if we get new allocation, you are going to get X-million of that allocation for the project. Both of them received funding. ... We had allocation from a third CDE from existing allocation. They didn't get new funding by the allocation is from their prior funding."

* On June 5, Joey Kulkin learns that MHIC pulled out of the project, possibly before March 1.

* If that's the case, did MHIC change its mind before Colvin went on Bates' show? If so, does that mean Colvin misled people about "x-million of allocation" from MHIC dependent on this round of NMTC awards? And why would one of the most successful CDE's with $800 million in past allocation pull out after winning another $65 million in this round, when Colvin said that such an award meant guaranteed financing for BRG?

June 8, 2018: Joey Kulkin writes letter to editor with updates on project. The Bennington Banner should be writing these kinds of updates but choose to keep the public in the dark.

Read the letter:,541671?

June 12, 2018: Kristi Herzer of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Brownfields Program uses Bennington's 2016 Downtown Area Wide Plan -- the basis of the Putnam Block Project -- as part of her Annual States/EPA Brownfields Programs Meeting presentation. One of the slides from Bennington gives a current price tag for the project ($28 million) and updated timeline for financing to be finalized in "Fall '18" and for construction to start "winter '18-2020"

See Herzer's presentation:

June 15, 2018: Word on the street is BRG frontman Bill Colvin has "all the confidence in the world" that the project will start in September. He didn't have confidence a few weeks ago but seems to be confident these days. ... Other key players are "under the assumption" it's going to happen. And yet "I'm afraid (they) are just listening to Bill Colvin ... and confident because Bill Colvin told them that." ... "In my opinion," said one person who's trustworthy enough for these kinds of quotes, "something is going to happen. I'm not convinced it's going to happen the way THEY say it's going to happen but there's enough political pressure to make it happen." ... Even if BRG delivers the required 90-day environmental notice on Monday, June 18, the first day of cleanup could not begin until September 16. Bill Colvin's September "confidence" has only 14 more days of shelf life. For cleanup to start in September, notice would have to be given no later than July 2.

June 22, 2018: Fiddlehead at Four Corners owner Joel Lentzner says he heard murmurs that the BRG might be formulating an exit plan to blame Joey Kulkin should the project fail.

Read Lentzner's post:

June 27, 2018: This is an LOL post as the Putnam Project Facebook page announces a $100,000 investment from Vermont Energy Investment Corp. It's LOL because the tactical post comes 1 day before the 2-year anniversary of Bennington Redevelopment Group signing an option to purchase the Putnam Block properties from the Greenberg brothers. Moreover, the post cites the current Phase 1 cost of $27.6 million, which validates Joey Kulkin's reporting from 3 weeks earlier when he wrote that Phase 1 costs soared to $28 million.

Read the post:

June 27, 2018: Prediction -- Southwestern Vermont Medical Center will produce the rest of the money needed to finance Phase 1 after Mack Molding donates $5 million to expand the hospital's emergency room. The thinking being that SVMC had money earmarked for ER expansion but can now use it for the Putnam Project thanks to Mack's $5M gift.

Read the story:,543140

June 28, 2018: Bennington Redevelopment Group signed an option to buy the Greenberg properties of the Putnam Block 2 years ago today and there's still no shovel in the ground.

June 28, 2018: Following up yesterday's news about VEIC's $100,000 investment, Alayna Howard, communications project manager of VEIC, said the nonprofit "has put $100,000 of corporate dollars toward preferred equity shares in this project, therefore the funds are not a donation. VEIC has committed to investing the dollars and expects to do so in the fall of 2018." ... This leads to a question of how can BRG expect to complete funding in the "summer of 2018" -- as it claimed in yesterday's Facebook post -- when VEIC expects to pony up the cash in the "fall of 2018"? ... In a follow-up, Howard said the timeline would be "commitment in spring of 2018, funds expected in fall of 2018."

June 30, 2018: The Putnam Block Facebook page announces that Vermont Rural Ventures, one of the federal New Markets Tax Credit lenders critical to the project, has pledged another $7.6 million in funding for a total of $15.6 million. And yet, they STILL don't have all of the money as the post stated that local investors will start the final fundraising push in a few weeks. This is interesting. We know MHIC (one of the NMTC lenders) pulled out of the project despite funding promises -- at least according to Bill Colvin on February 27 -- but there has been no mention of Mascoma Savings, which is the third NMTC that's always been said to be critical to funding. On February 27, Colvin told Chris Bates that $11.8 million of the $25 million for Phase 1 funding would come from NMTC lenders. Four months later, that total is now $15.6 million of the $27.6 million. They're still holding to the line that "funding is expected to be finalized in the summer with a financial closing in fall 2018. Construction on the first phase of the project is expected to start this fall and be completed in spring 2020."

Read the post:

June 30, 2018: Meanwhile, the Bennington Banner, which carries water these days instead of informing the community with real reporting, parroted whatever information Colvin gave them: "Colvin said the complex financing package — now including 17 funding sources that have been secured, for a total of $25.6 million — needs less than $2 million more before the closings can begin over the summer. He said the major investors are pursuing several sources to close that gap and are confident the project will come to fruition." Colvin also said the group is "fully committed" and "moving forward" ... and so the BRG needs upward of $2 million more.

Read the Banner's press release:,543596+&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

July 1, 2018: Some thoughts on yesterday's crock of shit Banner story ... Bill Colvin simply verified something from 25 days earlier when Joey Kulkin cited a source as saying the local investors are between $1-2 million short of total funding. The Banner story quoted Colvin as saying they need less than $2 million. Which means VRV had committed the additional $7.6 million weeks ago, which means Colvin held onto that information as long as possible even though yesterday's story made it sound like VRV's bonus gift happened this week. Other components of the Banner story were complete bullshit too like Colvin saying there will be 100 more housing units when all phases of the project are complete. LOL. It's now 2 years later and you haven't even put a shovel in the ground for Phase 1.

See Kulkin's June 5 comment:

July 1, 2018: On February 27, Bill Colvin went on the Chris Bates teevee show and said Phase 1 funding was $25 million and that they needed to tap 13 sources. Four months later, per the Banner, the number of sources is 17 and they've raised $25.6M on paper. Joey Kulkin has tried keeping tabs of the sources and as of today is is up to 12 with $23.9 million raised. This doesn't account for the local investors both big and small.

-- $20,000,000 from New Markets Tax Credits*
-- $3,300,000 from Federal Historic Tax Credits
-- $1,700,000 from USDA Rural Development
-- $1,318,131 from State Historic Tax Credits (maybe more)
-- $1,000,000 from State of Vermont (pending)
-- $635,000 from Vermont Housing & Conservation Board
-- $430,000 from EPA revolving loan fund
-- $200,000 from Town of Bennington
-- $100,000 from Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
-- $100,000 from Walmart money (LOL)
-- unknown amount from Vermont Economic Development Authority
-- unknown amount from Vermont Community Foundation
-- unknown amount from local big investors
-- unknown amount from local small investors
-- unknown amount from at least 3 other sources

Total from 13 sources: $28,783,131

Total the Banner cited from 17 sources: $25,600,000

* $15.6M from VRV and $4.4M from Mascoma, which adds up to $20M. But NMTC's don't come in as cash on a dollar-for-dollar relationship ... they're discounted to present value then discounted again to allow a margin for the lender so the $20M is probably worth about $15M in actual lending. In other words, big money=big vultures.

July 2, 2018: Today is the application deadline for this year's Vermont Downtown Tax Credit i.e. state historic rehab dollars. BRG in July 2017 received $691,000 in funds for the Pennysaver and Winslow buildings and is applying for $627,000 for the Putnam Hotel. The application will most likely be rubber-stamped thereby giving BRG $1,318,131 in total state rehab credits. In this application, Bill Colvin said Putnam Hotel renovations will cost $11,706,668 on 31,445 square feet, which comes out to $372 per. He also wrote that the renovated Putnam Hotel will have 4 retail storefronts and a 100-seat restaurant. He said construction start date will begin October 1, which means the 90-day cleanup notice must be delivered to property tenants tomorrow (July 3). He said construction completion will be March 31, 2020. LOL. ... There's a funny part of the application in the first few pages where Colvin lists the Putnam Hotel at 36,518 square feet, which at $11,706,668 in renovations comes out to $320 per square foot ... they're reducing 5,000 SF in space but adding $52 per SF in spending. ... And construction cannot begin October 1. Tax credit awards won't be decided till July 23 so even if the Putnam Hotel gets funded, which it will be because politics, BRG cannot deliver the 30-day cleanup notice till July 24 at the earliest and 90 days later is October 22.

Read all 3 applications:

July 2, 2018: The local investors are between $1.2M and $1.5M from final funding. They plan to hit up the local crowd by asking for $25K per person with the promise of 3% annual return. And then the final piece of funding will come in preferred equity from the Vermont Community Foundation.

July 4, 2018: Vermont Community Foundation confirms that "we are interested in the project and are currently in negotiations about a possible investment." ... This marks the 12th potential funding source from the federal and state levels but does not include Bennington Redevelopment Group's institutional and anchor tenant investors or group of local $25K/3% equity investors. Adding those groups would make it 14 sources. The 6/30 Banner story cited Bill Colvin saying there are 17 total funding sources.

July 5, 2018: Bill Colvin's dog and pony show in front of the Pennysaver and Old Courthouse was 2 years ago today ... and still no shovel in the ground.

July 11, 2018: It was 2 years ago tonight that Bill Colvin made his first Putnam Block Project presentation before the Select Board and said Phase 1 would cost $18 million ... and 2 years later the cost has soared to $28 million. Also, Bennington Redevelopment Group has not delivered the 90-day notice to begin cleanup.

July 13, 2018: In January 2017, Bill Colvin said the hospital asked Anytime Fitness owners Jamie and Amy Carey to be part the Putnam Project by opening a gym, perhaps a health center/rehab. The Careys were confident in their own gym and declined so the hospital bailed. A month or two later, the Careys sold one of their homes for $355,000. In December, the Careys sold Anytime Fitness. Word on the street today is that the Careys might be a part of the Putnam Project as owners of a boutique gym. When asked this morning, Amy Carey was surprised and said it's not true.

July 17, 2018: Bill Colvin is seen in late afternoon showing off the Putnam Block properties to a well-dressed chap, who may be an investor or just another guy they've brought in for a manufactured photo-op. What it means, no one knows.

See the photo:

Other documents ...

* Historic Preservation Grant Tax Credits:
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A fact sheet showing why Michael Keane's refusal to recuse himself from a Vermont Economic Progress Council discussion and vote of a TIF district in Bennington was a conflict of interest.
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I have been reporting this story since January 23, 2017. All of the reporting came to a head on January 8, 2018 when the Bennington Town Manager admitted he violated state law by building a new salt shed at 78 Bowen Road without proper permits. On January 19, 2018, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources issued a Notice of Alleged Violations against the Town of Bennington to which the Town responded. What's left now is the punishment phase. I led a small team of local folks who reported and dug for answers. Here is every facet of that reporting replete with supporting documentation. This also will be updated with answers to questions regarding potentially toxic soil that was dug up from 78 Bowen Road and dumped feet away next to a federal Superfund site.

Salt Shed emails
Salt Shed emails
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Buckley screenshot Vermont Preservation Trust
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As promised, the +Downtown Bennington Alliance is giving local folks a head start on this weekend's Garlic Quest. There are 18 clues on the card and you must answer at least 15 to be entered to win the grand prize of an Apple Watch. There are several other cool prizes.

The DBA encourages Garlic Quest participants to support downtown businesses while searching for clues i.e. coffee/pastry at South Street Cafe and Bakery, food/gifts at Bringing You Vermont, games/instruments at Knapp's, candles/lotions at Vine & Branches Gallery etc etc. If you haven't been down here in a while, there's a lot more to downtown than meets the eye.

Most of the answers require you to go inside businesses while answers to other clues can be found on the Internet. You've got to take a selfie in at least 3 businesses. It's a super fun family friendly event.

You can download this card or stop into +Fiddlehead At Four Corners starting at 9 a.m. to pick one up. Cards must be submitted by 5 o'clock on Monday (September 4).

Have fun on your Garlic Quest!
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A list of stories about Sylvia Grantins of Virginiatown, McGarry, Ontario, Canada, whose acrylic paintings are for sale at Fiddlehead at Four Corners art gallery in Downtown Bennington Vermont.

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They walked in yesterday and Kulk recognized the feller from their interaction 16 months ago. Then he saw the ponytailed blonde and was like, wait, I know her. She tiptoed along the marble bank counter and stopped at the Exotic Sands and asked if you're supposed to flip them. Yes. She looked up and there were those big devastating eyeballs. She flipped the wood and air bubbles rose to the top and the sand drizzled down and she smiled then made her way over to the feller. Another woman who came in with them pushed the baby carriage.

Kulk searched this page and up came the story from March 2016. "The feller in the photo," he wrote back then, "is Tommy and he stars in Life in Pieces with folks like Brolin and Wiest. He has been on the silver screen with Witherspoon and earned a Tony nomination for Best Actor so the boy's a triple threat with chops under any theatrical spotlight. Yesterday, during quiet time with a bestie, he bought the glass penguin for the girl who has set him free."

The girl who sets Tommy Sadoski free is Amanda Seyfried -- yes, that Amanda Seyfried. She was in Mean Girls. She was in Les Mis. She was in Mamma Mia! She's been in a ton of A-list productions. But yesterday Amanda Seyfried dressed down, way down, and the hoodie made her look like any other chick from around the way. The newlyweds live in the area and came to Bennington to eat at Blue Benn then do some shopping. They bought our last 3 framed embroidery works by Jean Ferlesch of Brooklyn and 2 litho-prints by John DeAmicis of New Jersey by way of Bennington.

"This looks like it's impossible," Amanda said of the embroidered piece she was holding, which featured ballerinas in turquoise leotards standing on their toes in the forest. Standing on your toes in ballet is the pointe technique, and here was Amanda Seyfried raving over needlepoint.

"I love stuff that is tedious looking," she said, "and there's a story to this." Tommy loved the "technical precision and creativity" of the embroidered works. Turns out Amanda enjoys doing needlepoint.

They made news in March when Tommy went on The Late Late Show with James Corden and spilled the beans. “We eloped," he told Corden, who got all gooey and verklempt. "We took off into the country with an officiant and just did our thing. It was beautiful. It was everything that it should be. Just the two of us talking to each other. She’s the person that I love, admire, and respect most in the world.”

Their romance likely started in 2015 when they co-starred in Neil LaBute's Broadway play The Way We Get By. It's about a one-night stand. Ben Brantley of The New York Times described it as short, sexy, starry, and well acted. Kulk asked them to name their favorite work by the other. Tommy went back to The Way We Get By. "I routinely remember that. But I love all of Amanda's work and respect her as an artist." Amanda loves "any play" Tommy performs on stage.

As you saw yesterday, Amanda tickled the ivory on our 1936 Story & Clark piano and played a bit of Billy Joel's Nocturne, the only song she knows by heart on the keys. It was soft and sweet and had a few endearing hiccups and Tommy stood nearby and watched with adoring eyes. Kulk posted the video on a few Bennington Facebook pages and it generated quite a buzz. Most of the buzz took place here:

One commenter said "Waited on them at the Blue Benn today! What a nice, sweet little family! Her baby looks like her!"

Tommy and Amanda gave birth to a daughter in March. They said they'd share her name if Kulk promised not to announce it publicly because they want to set that information free when it's the right time. They trusted him knowing he used to be a newspaper reporter and would have a pretty cool story before anyone else. But he made the deal. They shared her name and he told them why that's such a wonderful name and they thought it was really cool. The woman pushing the baby carriage is Amanda's mom Ann. She's also her granddaughter's nanny.
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Amanda Seyfried came to the gallery today with hubby Thomas Sadoski and their newborn daughter. She sat at our 1936 Story & Clark piano and tickled the ivory, playing the only song she knows by heart, Nocturne, by Billy Joel.
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Putnam Square Partners registered with State of Vermont on 6/5/14.

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