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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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Big Picture Theater receives amended wastewater permit to community programs


Last week the Big Picture Theater and Café, Waitsfield, received notice that the state of Vermont's Wastewater regional division had granted them the permit amendment required to operate community programs. 

"This is very exciting news for us," stated theater owner Claudia Becker. "My goal from the start has been to offer a range of community events and activities in addition to movies to create a vibrant gathering space for Mad River Valley residents and visitors. I am delighted that the state has granted the approvals necessary to accomplish this vision."

Open Hearth, a nonprofit community group that was operating a variety of educational and enrichment programs in the theater, was mandated by state officials in September to relocate its classes due to noncompliance with the theater's existing wastewater permit.

Open Hearth president Brian Degen said, "We really appreciate state officials working with us to accomplish a timely turnaround of the permit amendment. We are also very appreciative of Ted Joslin's willingness to loan us additional wastewater capacity that was reserved on a lot for future development. Everyone has made a sincere effort to get the remaining permits in place to allow community programming to resume at the theater in January." 

Degen said that the permit amendment conditions include monitoring the facility's daily wastewater flows. "The flow meter is installed," said Degen, "and results show that even on its busiest days the theater and café are operating well below the permitted wastewater allocation."

Open Hearth, which is committed to creating and sustaining community spaces and programs in the Mad River Valley, will begin its second session of activities at the Big Picture starting January 8. In addition to its licensed Pre-K Afternoon Enrichment program that offers child care and learning opportunities, Open Hearth board member April Smith says, "We have a diverse range of programs lined up for all ages, including Italian language and culture for children, karate classes for all ages, art classes, and hip hop dance." 

Smith adds, "The installation of the playground at the Big Picture adds a valuable recreational resource for The Valley and is ready for use by the general public." Smith stated that the playground includes a Rainbow Systems swing set, slide, and climbing structure as well as a playhouse constructed by a Yestermorrow basic carpentry class.

In the spring, Open Hearth will plant shade trees and a small perennial garden and complete minor installation details.

"We are extremely grateful for financial support for the playground from the Mad River Valley Recreation District, the Rotary Club, the Frank and Lorraine Rodgers Family Foundation, and several local donors," Smith said. "The master planning services donated by Broadleaf Landscape Architecture were invaluable, and we are so grateful for the many volunteers who donated their time to make the playground and Open Hearth programs a reality. We are looking forward to a very successful year." For more information, please call Open Hearth at 496-8990 or visit


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