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The Vermont Covered Bridge Society

Contents
The Vermont Covered Bridge Society
The VCBS Agenda
VCBS Organization
The Board of Directors
The Standing Committees
The VCBS Preservation Policy

The Vermont Covered Bridge Society

The Vermont Covered Bridge Society, Inc. was founded in February, 2000 to address the loss of Vermont's covered bridges.
      The number of covered bridges in Vermont has fallen from more than 500 to approximately 100 today. While many were lost to the flood of 1927, significant numbers have been lost since to poor maintenance, modernization, and some to vandalism.
      The old bridges were built of timbers from long-gone forests and constructed by long-gone craftsmen. Popular with visitors, perhaps because they have an extraordinary ability to evoke the spirit of the past, taking viewers back to a simpler way of life. We who know and appreciate these old spans want to preserve them for ourselves and our posterity.

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The VCBS Agenda

Our society is a non-profit organization, founded in 2000, dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Vermont's remaining covered bridges. Since our founding, we have committed ourselves to generating public awareness and government consciousness to the importance of the preservation of our covered bridges. Our membership consists of over 200 members scattered throughout the US and Canada. We host two meetings each year, the 'Annual Spring Meeting' and the 'Annual Fall Meeting.' All members and the public are invited to attend. The meetings are held throughout the state in towns that have covered bridges.
      Our quarterly newsletter, The Bridger, our website, www.vermontbridges.com, and our membership are our tools to promote preservation of covered bridges.
      Most of the covered bridges in Vermont are owned and maintained by the towns. Our roll is to watch these bridges to see that they are properly maintained and proteced. For this we have instituted the Bridge-watch Program. All of our members are encouraged to participate in Bridge-watch. The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) has instituted a covered bridge maintenance program consistent with the rules laid down by the U.S. Department of the Interior regulations for the maintenance of structures on the National Register of Historic Places. VTrans inspects all of Vermont's covered bridges on the state highway system offering the towns engineering services and access to funding. This is overseen by the VTrans Historic Bridge Committee, upon which the Vermont Covered Bridge Society has a seat.
      To help preserve the covered bridge heritage, the Society collects, displays and preserves covered bridge artifacts, photographs, histories, and lore.
      In accordance with the preservation agenda, the VCBS provides fellowship for covered bridge enthusiasts with dinners, fairs, picnics, and other outings held in communities all over Vermont.

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VCBS Organization

     The VCBS is overseen by of a Board of Directors.
      The Board membership includes the President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and members of the Society who wish to serve on the Board.
     Standing Committees conduct the business of the Society under the direction of a member of the Board of Directors.
      Because nearly all of Vermont's covered bridges are owned by the towns in which they are located, the Vermont Covered Bridge Society in its mission to preserve covered bridges has an outreach policy for towns and communities where the covered bridges are.
     In pursuit of this policy, the Society organizes Bridge-watch Areas. The purpose is to promote covered bridge preservation by helping to organize the taxpaying, voting residents who can go to their municipal governments to advocate the maintenance and preservation of the covered bridges in their towns.
      A Bridge-watch area is presided over by a Bridge-watch Area Chairperson who is a resident of the area. The Bridge-watch Area Chairperson acts as group leader for his or her Bridge-watch Area. The chairperson is responsible for establishing relationships with the bridge owners of record in that area. The Chapter Chairperson is a member of the Board of Directors.
      Society members, as part of an organized Bridge-watch Area, or independently if the Area is not organized, may volunteer to adopt-a-bridge to work directly with a town or other covered bridge owner with clearing brush, sweeping, painting, fire proofing, removing graffiti, and keeping watch.

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The Board of Directors

Director - Nominated and appointed by the Board of Directors, a director serves the VCBS as the chairperson of a standing committee or chair of a Bridge-watch Area (see below).

Director-at-large - A director without a project, but is available for a task.

Advisory Director - A director invited to participate in the VCBS program because of his or her expertise in or dedication to a field, such as covered bridges.
      The position of Advisory Director was created to implement the VCBS commitment to liaison with other preservation organizations. These positions are filled by members of other preservation organizations by invitation. VCBS Advisory Directors are full voting members of this Society.

President - The President presides at the meetings of the Society and of the Board, and has the duties and powers normally appurtenant to the office of President in addition to those specified by the Constitution and By-laws of the VCBS. The President is elected by the VCBS membership for a term of two years. The President serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors unless he chooses to appoint a member of the Board to serve as Chair.

Vice President - The Vice-President has the power to exercise the duties of the President in the event of the absence or incapacity of the President. The Vice President serves as the chairperson of a standing committee (see below). The Vice President is elected by the VCBS membership for a term of two years. The Vice President-Elect becomes a member of the Board of Directors.

Secretary - The Secretary shall take and keep the minutes of the Annual Meetings of the society and report on them when required. The secretary will assist at the annual meetings with parliamentary procedure. The Secretary can appoint a Recording Secretary as needed. The Secretary-elect is a member of the Board of Directors. The Secretary is elected by the VCBS membership for a term of two years.

Treasurer - The Treasurer collects and receives all monies due or belonging to the Society, and deposits them in a bank satisfactory to the Board, in the name of the Society. The Treasurers's books are at all times open to inspection by the Board. At the Annual meetings the Treasurer renders an account of all monies received and expended during the previous fiscal year. The Treasurer becomes a member of the Board of Directors. The Treasurer is elected by the VCBS membership for a term of two years.The Treasurer is a member of the Board of Directors.

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The Standing Committees

Bridge-watch Committe - is presided over by the Bridge-Watch-Area Coordinator, a member of the board of Directors responsible for establishing Bridge-Watch-Areas and helping Bridge-Watch-Areas Chairpersons to organize.

Communications Committee - staffed by Society members, chaired by a member of the Board of Directors to publish The Bridger, the VCBS Quarterly Newsletter. and the VCBS website. The staff includes: The Newsletter Editor who collects stories, edits, and composes the quarterly issues of The Bridger; the Staff Writer to write feature articles, assist the editor in the collection of stories and to rewrite articles as needed; Correspondents to collect covered bridge items and stories and send them to the newsletter staff; and the Distribution Person who works with the copy center or printer, handles billing, labels and mails each issue of The Bridger.

Historical Committee - Staffed by Society members, chaired by a member of the Board of Directors. The Historical Committee will emphasize the 4th item in the Burlington Charter: To identify, document, and preserve all surrounding features that define the historic character of covered bridges and their settings, including approach roads, historic cultural landscapes, and views. The committee will collect covered bridge history in the form of documents, news and magazine clippings, books, photographs, postcards, and artifacts. The Historical Committee will oversee the use of the collection for display, and publication.
      The committee also collects, designs, crafts, or purchases items for sale to help fund promotion of the preservation of covered bridges.
      The Historical Committee maintains a lending library of covered bridge books for the use of the membership.

Events Committee - staffed by Society members to plan All-member meetings, bridge excursions, picnics, dinners and work parties, chaired and coordinated by a member of the Board of Directors.

Legislation Watch Committe - staffed by Society members, chaired by a member of the Board of Directors to establish and maintain liaison with federal and state decision-makers, and with other non-profit organizations. The rules that guide 501c3 organizations are adhered to.

Membership Committee - staffed by Society members, chaired by a member of the Board of Directors. The committee issues membership cards to paid-up members, welcomes new members, maintains a correspondence with the membership, helps design and participates in membership drives, and maintains and shares the membership database.

Publicity Committee - staffed by Society members, chaired by a member of the Board of Directors to establish and maintain a working relationship with the media to provide the public with news, articles, and information about historic covered bridges, and about the Society's aims and activities.

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The VCBS Preservation Policy

Burlington Charter for the Preservation of Historic Covered Bridges
Approved June 6, 2003
First National Best Practices Conference for Covered Bridges, Burlington, Vermont

Covered bridges are vitally important cultural, economic, educational, aesthetic, and historic resources. Although public support for preserving them is strong, many are vulnerable to the effects of deterioration due to neglect, limited funding, and limited knowledge of appropriate treatments. Consequently, their structural, material, and functional integrity is often at risk. This charter establishes the following goals for insuring the long term safeguarding of historic covered bridges.

  1. To preserve the historic structural and material integrity of covered bridges to the maximum extent possible, consistent with public safety.
  2. To identify, document, and preserve examples of covered bridge design, ingenuity in timber and masonry construction, and unique practices or solutions to specific problems, and to encourage future generations to summon similar ingenuity.
  3. To retain covered bridges for active use for transportation, with the least possible compromise to their structural and material integrity.
  4. To identify, document, and preserve all surrounding features that define the historic character of covered bridges and their settings, including approach roads, historic cultural landscapes, and views.
  5. To interpret and publicize individual covered bridges and the overall importance of the covered bridge to the history of transportation, engineering, and community life.
  6. To establish partnerships among bridge owners; local, state, and federal governments; non-profit organizations; design and construction professionals; craftspeople; and others in order to provide the best opportunities for cooperative stewardship of covered bridges.
  7. To undertake research to develop tools essential to the preservation of historic covered bridges, including studies of appropriate treatments of historic materials; methods of structural analysis; techniques for repair and strengthening; and the economic benefits of preserving historic covered bridges.
  8. To develop management practices that ensure timely identification of needs and prioritization of treatments.
  9. To encourage government agencies and other public and private entities to provide adequate and effective funding to implement the above goals. Resolved: Participants of the First National Best Practices Conference for Covered Bridges hereby adopt this Burlington Charter for the Preservation of Historic Covered Bridges. Be it further resolved that we respectfully ask the U.S. National Park Service to develop guidelines that apply and adapt the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Preservation, Rehabilitation, Restoration, and Reconstruction to historic covered bridges in a manner consistent with these goals and objectives, and to present these guidelines at the Second National Best Practices Conference for Historic Covered Bridges, time and place to be announced.

To pursue covered bridge preservation, the VCBS and its members will
Organize Bridge-watch Areas for the purpose of establishing a working relationship with the local municipal governments, historical societies and chambers of commerce to promote bridge maintenance, guard against vandalism; educate the public on the value of Vermont's historic bridges; promote tourism; and work with the VAOT Historic Bridge Program.

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Joe Nelson, P.O Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465-0267, jcnelson@together.net

This web site page was coded by J.C. Nelson. The content is the intellectual property of the
Vermont Covered Bridge Society, Inc. and its membership.
This file updated 11/27/2008, 03/08/2010, 01/03/2012