As we begin to pack for the great return trek westward, news from Dubois in the “bleak midwinter” is anything but bleak. Not only have we seen the plans for the revival of our main street, there’s plenty more that’s new about town.
I guess when winter sets in and short-term visitors are largely confined to the mountain passes (with their snowmobiles), Dubois can take a deep
breath and get down to business in earnest.
This time last year, we heard the distressing news that the county was planning to exclude Dubois from ambulance service, having chosen to install a professional EMT operation that wasn’t breaking even. Dubois’ indomitable Mayor Twila Blakeman leaped into action. Within a few months, 18 residents had completed training and qualified as EMTs. (Note that! 18, in a population of only 1,000.) She had also found funding for air ambulance service when ground service isn’t feasible. Just try to kill this town off, literally or figuratively! The story isn’t over, but my bet is that the outlook is hopeful.
Back to 2016: I’ve been gone from town for only a few weeks now, and there’s plenty of news from friends:
Pizza’s back! After the closure of the main-street restaurant Paya, which served better pizza than any we can get in Brooklyn, I suffered pizza withdrawal all last summer. Paya has been reborn under different ownership as Hooper’s, I’m told, and the pizza there is also said to be great. (Rumor has it that a former Paya chef has been sighted at the brick oven lately.) Meanwhile Cobbler, the riverside restaurant just behind and across the parking lot from Hooper’s, will reopen under the same management as a bakery and deli-style sandwich shop. Great call: We’ve also been missing a good bakery for some time, and visitors will appreciate the made-to-order sandwich option.
Tie hack history brought to life? Former Mayor Bob Baker has been hatching plans to found a “living museum” devoted to the legendary lumbermen who worked in our mountains cutting and milling ties for the railroads, early in the last century. Although there are museums dedicated to the topic of lumbering in Arkansas, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Texas, evidently none specifically honors the tie hacks who were so important to our nation’s history. At present, all Dubois can offer for that purpose is a stone obelisk on a hill above the highway west of town (yawn … ). It has taken me years to begin to appreciate this particular history, perhaps because it wasn’t presented vividly enough. I think this is a terrific idea, especially for the next generation, and I hope it succeeds.
Brighter future for the town website. Developers are about to begin testing an update to the town’s Internet face to the world, the website www.duboiswyoming.org. (Full disclosure: I have provided the text for the new pages.) As you see it today, the website has an old-fashioned, rustic look and feel, puts cowboys front and center, and begins its description with “In Dubois time seems to move at a slower pace.” I’m hoping the new version will grab prospective visitors with breathtaking images and text that compels them to pack their bags and come see for themselves.
Way better than elliptical: My hiking buddy says she’s started a snowshoe club. What great news! This is the kind of venture that keeps me going to the gym every morning back in Brooklyn, where I listen to John Denver on my headphones, look at visions of the mountains in my head rather than the yobbos on the flat screen TVs, and try to focus on more important goals than optimizing my appearance.
©Lois Wingerson, 2016
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