40 Years & Counting

The Hampton Gazette Celebrates its 40th Anniversary

Forty years ago, a group of neighbors gathered at the home of Charlie Halbach to discuss publishing a town newspaper to report on — and encourage discussion of — issues facing the town, to apprise residents of the happenings and history of Hampton, and to share our neighbors’ news.

The first edition of The Hampton Gazette was published in April of 1978. It contained six pages and reported on farming, bears, winter, the Hampton Co-op, and the original “Hampton Chronicle”, circa 1939. The Selectmen, the Town Clerk, the Fire Department and the Ambulance Corps, the schools, the girl scouts and the boy scouts, the 4-H Club, and the Hampton Community Players contributed information. The production process was a cut and paste operation, first as a volunteer effort and later as a task Mary Kennon performed for over 15 years.  Minnie Halbach delivered the monthly edition to every household, a responsibility she fulfilled for 30 years. The newspaper grew. By 1980, twelve pages per issue was the norm, with approximately 40% of the newspaper advertisements.

In 2001, technology was employed to put the paper together – a computerized cut and paste process that Mary Oliver introduced to us. The cost of photographs was no longer an issue, and in 2007 we enlisted Pete Vertefeuille as a staff photographer to cover events, accompany articles with pictures from his collection, and produce photographic essays. Our news coverage grew, with the paper reaching 16 – 20 pages. Rarely are there only twelve pages of news now, and once in a while we have 24. It’s usually people’s opinions that lessen or increase the size of the paper – one thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to make room for everyone’s voice.

In 2010, Bob Petix created a website for an online version of the monthly edition. The website also expanded to include archives and photographs and is visited by many people, near and far, every month. With Minnie’s retirement, we switched to a system of mailing to subscribers through Gulemo Printers, Inc., our publisher for the last 25 years, and an online notification system. Our newspaper is delivered to 330 households with another 30 residents notified of publication every month. The website and the mailing reduced costs considerably. One of the major changes the Gazette has experienced is in advertising, which represents less than one-sixth of our newspaper now. There are far fewer businesses in town than there were in the beginning.

The Gazette continues to evolve: new neighbors with new interests, new writers with new perspectives; new board members with new ideas. What hasn’t changed is our commitment to the community and its presence on our pages — from the youth we congratulate for the laurels they earn, to those we salute in their passing. Every issue reveals the volunteer efforts of those who serve us, as public officials, emergency respondents, pillars of our churches, leaders of our organizations, directors of our preserves, those who keep us apprised of the news, and those who pen opinions on it. Every issue reflects what’s important to us: from politics to chickens, the Gazette remains, as one subscriber described, “a patchwork quilt of life in a small town in New England”.

The Hampton Gazette

Each issue this anniversary year will include a retrospect of the Gazette over the last forty. We look forward to celebrating our shared history with you.

Our website is experiencing technical difficulties of late – our apologies.

Original Board Members

In the beginning…

Forty years ago, Charlie Halbach, observing that Hampton people were divided over issues of development and open space, with old timers often favoring development and newcomers often seeking to preserve Hampton’s rural character. Charlie invited about 15-20 people to his and Marion’s living room where we discussed what to do. A consensus formed around creating a FREE monthly newspaper, delivered to all. The paper would include news of town offices and committees in a strictly non-partisan way.  Because it would be a quasi-official town paper, I proposed that we follow early American precedent and call it “Hampton Gazette”.  Unpaid volunteers ran it, and printing costs were paid via voluntary contributions.

Dick Brown


Janet Robertson called to say she was starting a hometown newspaper called the Hampton Gazette, and asked if I wanted to be part of it. I was then working as a reporter/editor at the Willimantic Chronicle and could foresee conflicts with my employer and readers — not to mention my neighbors — if I were to write copy for the Gazette. So I agreed to limit my help to layout and paste-up. I remember going to the Hemphill’s to produce the first issue. Tom Hemphill and I designed the layout in his living room. I worked on the masthead. I tried using the Hampton Congregational Church as the iconic town symbol, but knew some folks might feel excluded. So I opted for an American eagle that I found in the phone book, of all places. I thought it looked newspaper-y. I sketched it with tracing paper and added the words, Hampton Gazette, with press-type, sets of letters that had to be rubbed on individually. We used press type for headlines, too, a tedious process. I am happy to note that my sketchy eagle was later replaced with a printed version. Good move.

So, happy anniversary, Gazette. I can’t believe that was 40 years ago. I have worked on other start-up newspapers, but count the Gazette among my most fun jobs.

Daryl Perch


Forty years ago as a young mother and newcomer to Hampton, I was happy to meet new friends and be part of the beginning of this new publication. Time sure flies. As a senior now, I still have some of the same friends. We are still interested in the growth and well-being of the children in town as well as  us older folks. We’re looking forward to continue seeing the successful blend of old and new in town.

Lenore B. Case

Our Rural Heritage

Our Rural Heritage

The front page of the first issue of the Hampton Gazette illustrated the importance of farming in our town. “Under All Is The Land”, written by Pearl Scarpino, was the first of many articles on local agriculture.  Coverage has included timber harvests, tree farms, “truck gardening”, poultry and sheep.  Although the dairy farms that once defined our countryside and sustained most families are no longer, agriculture, as Pearl reported, remains our “principal industry”. When we covered “Hampton Harvests” in 2010, there were five contributors to the farmer’s market. We’ve written recent articles on Full Moon, Three Niece, Hampton Hill, Turtle Ledge, and Bright Acres farms, on alpacas, apples, maple syrup, the “Spring Plow” and beekeepers, and Cindy Bezanson continues to keep us entertained with delightful tales of her chickens.

An article written in 1988 by Claire Winters remembered twenty-eight dairy farms in the 1930’s. Pearl’s article reported that the Grand List of 1957 named twenty-one dairy farms, four in 1978 at the time of publication. Now there is only one left. Those old barns that housed all those dairy operations, or sheltered the family’s assortment of cows, goats, sheep and chickens, are also fading from the landscape with the erosive forces of time and weather.  This year the Gazette has committed to capturing for posterity those barns with photographs, histories and memories. We started with the Burell’s barn, the Freiman’s barn, and this month, the Halbach’s.  So far the history of the farms has proved as diverse and interesting as the families who owned them.


Elm Pine Farm

A Stroll through Elm Pine Farm

Walking down what was once known as Goshen Highway, admiring the farm house that stands before you. The large patch of poppies letting you know spring has really arrived, poppies planted by Katie Halbach so many decades ago. Walking up the drive, you see the sign hanging above the shop, “Elm Pine Farm since 1922”.

Katie Bauman and Adolph Halbach met in New York where they were married and where Katie gave birth to two of their sons, Charles and Adolph. They settled in Hampton after buying the farm from the Tryon brothers. Their third son, Edward, born in the house that still remains in the family nearly one hundred years later. Edward building his home for his family just down the road, less than a tenth of a mile, overseeing and doing the upkeep as needed with the help of his son Dave.

As you continue up the drive, beyond the barn through the gateway the pasture opens to what you feel is a paradise. Open land, a pond on the left that once watered live stock, a pond on the right where many happy days of your youth were spent with the neighbors, young mothers sharing summer afternoons catching up and watching children swim. Walking the dam, and rounding the back side of the pond, finding the break in the wall that leads to the roadway that you have always favored. The shade of the spring leaves and the heaviness of the fiddle head ferns that grow in abundance along that trail. You continue walking as you have a hundred times in the last forty years, you find your way to the top of Clark Hill, and see the remnants of a tree stand from the previous fall’s hunt. Making your way down to what is known as the last lot, the turned soil and the fresh rye planted. Taking in the simple beauty, the peace, the quiet, sitting down to rest and take a break by the pond, watching the turtles pop up and down in the water, the fish jumping the frogs, singing in their deep raspy voices.

Thinking back to the days when the pond was so active. The Fourth of July when friends and neighbors brought their pot lucks to share and so many grills burning at once. Jim and Louise Oliver, Bert and Pat Valliancourt, Yvette and Gerry Lavoie, Judy and John Osborn, and, of course, the Halbachs. A celebration of America’s freedom, good food, good drink, heading down to the house to pick up Katie, Gram, so she might enjoy a meal with family and friends. Even in pouring rain a good time, and most of all good friends.

Hearing stories about the picnics of so many years past, the company picnics for Akim Engineering where Katie and Charles worked, having the employees here to celebrate another year and to socialize, getting to know others and their families. Remembering the day our daughter married Dan Merasco right on this very spot. The brides wedding party arriving on a hay trailer towed by the 1940 Farmall tractor, Louise Oliver, Helen’s godmother, officiating, a very special day.

Adolph, Pops as he was known, passed at a relatively young age, working on the farm in the 1950’s. Katie continued to live here, until she was 97 and was a pioneer of her own kind. You could find her working in the garden, spitting wood, or making the entire family a Sunday night dessert to go with some really good coffee, perked on the woodstove in the kitchen that blasted you from the heat.

After Gram, Katie, passed the house stood empty for a time….

 Birthplace of the Hampton Remodeling Company

by Lenny Patera

I first met David Halbach in grammar school in the 1960’s. We became friends and played at his grandmother’s farm, Elm Pine Farm.

David and I went to different high schools, however we attended the same college and commuted together in the early 1970’s. In the mid -70’s I was hired by his father Ed Halbach and we became friends. Life changes and so do jobs. But my friendship with David and Ed remained. Years later, David’s grandmother, Katie Halbach, passed away leaving the farm empty. I was living in an apartment in Willimantic and was looking to move back to the country. Knowing the Halbach family wanted to keep the farm, I approached Ed with a proposal to rent the house. We came to an agreement. I believe it was in 1990 when I moved in and lived there for 15 years.

At that time in my life I was doing home improvement renovations in a partnership. As with many partnerships, it didn’t last. The year was 1998 and I decided to go out on my own. The Halbach Farm became the birthplace of the Hampton Remodeling Company. With the help of the Halbach family, the company thrived and it became necessary to expand. In 2005 the Hampton Remodeling Company was reestablished in Chaplin.

To this day I consider the Halbach family and my time at the farm instrumental in the success of the Hampton Remodeling Company, and I will always have an emotional tie to the Halbach farm for all the good times and good people that made life so comfortable there.

 …Since Lenny, there have been few tenants, and today Ed’s granddaughter, Helen, her husband Dan and their two sons, Taylor and Tom, reside on the family farm. Helen and her family learned through the years what it is to prune a Christmas tree, work in a hot hay field, or cut over 20 cords of wood for three families for one season, planting vegetables to help support the family in the same location where your great-grandmother once dug and turned the soil by hand.

In the summer months you can see Ed and his dog Romeo at the farm in his golf cart, riding around checking out the gardens, making sure the lawns are properly mowed. Checking out the tractors, thinking back of all the days of working side by side with his son, doing repairs, maintenance of old equipment that has seen better days.

I have worked side by side with Dave and Dad when needed for over forty years; I have seen and learned the love and respect for the land, and for Elm Pine Farm.

Ruth Halbach

Halbach Barn

The Halbach Barn

The Halbach barn at 167 North Brook Street is not as old as many of the Hampton barns, but one of the builders is still a resident over sixty years later. It was built in the early 1950’s by Edward Halbach and his father, Adolph “Pop” Halbach , and another who helped, but whose name has long been forgotten.

I remember walking into that barn for the first time over forty years ago, the stalls with baby calves waiting to be bottle fed, the smell of hay drifting down from the loft, Dave Halbach, throwing the hay down and his dad Ed, preparing the bottles, the babies bellowing their impatience as they wait to be fed. The vet would come out and checked them over and castrate the bulls, though I do remember one calf born on the farm. As they grew they were let out into the barn yard, coming in every evening to be grained and fed their hay; as they continued to grow their area was increased, free to wander over many acres, coming in every morning and evening to Ed’s call, “Come boss, come boss,” and you would hear their mooing as they approached their barn. There were cows milked on the farm, and steers raised as beef animals for meat, healthy, all natural, for family, neighbors and friends. You knew what you were eating and you knew it was good.

Then those hot summer days, pulling hay bales off the fields, throwing the hay up into the loft as the seed stuck to you, and the sweat poured off your brow…a time when neighbors and family would show up in the fields to help. It wasn’t a lot of bales, but when the sun beats down, and a storm is brewing in the distance, it is always nice to see Gerry Bailey and Len Patera show up to help. As little as it may have been, you cannot afford to have it get wet; live stock needed to be fed. I think one of my fondest memories of the barn – the shadow it threw when we were all done bringing in the hay. Sitting in that shade, drinking a beer or a soda, just chatting and doing a bit of catch up with those who appeared to help, the warmth of friendship.

It has been a few years now since steers were raised or hay was thrown in the loft. With the busy lives of all around and even aging, the hay is picked up now by another that uses it, the meat now raised by others, just as good and natural. The barn has seen better days, but memories make it seem like it is 40 years younger, and when there is a bon fire in the pit at the pond and a storm comes in, there is always shelter, as there always was.

Ruth Halbach

Hampton Wine & Spirits

Welcome to Hampton Beer, Wine & Spirits!

Owned by Mickey and Manisha Patel, a Hampton resident for over 23 years raising two children here with us, we are blessed to have his business expertise and knowledge and choosing Hampton for the location of his new business.

In Beer, Wine & Spirits you’ll find everything from nips of just about any kind, big beer selections, and a generous selection of liquors. Mickeys motto is “If we don’t have it, we can order it for you!”.  Cognacs, bourbons, whiskeys, scotches, vodkas and the list goes on.  Recently Craft beers seem to be #1 sellers in the beer selection. There is a huge inventory of many beers. Come see and try new ones!

In the wine world Mickey carries Domestic and imported. It’s an impressive selection. They carry local Pomfret wines, French and Italian, which seemingly appears to be the favorites. Just a taste of what they have: North Star Merlot, Stagg Leap, Chateau St. Jean,

Cake Bread Cellars, along with 19 Crimes Hard Chard, Oliver Soft Red Wine, Cannonball Merlot, 14 Hands Cabaret Sauvignon, Sterling Cabaret Sauvignon, Predator Old Vine Zinfandel, Educated Guess Napa County, 1000 Stories Bourbon aged Zinfand, Bonterra Pinot Noir … and the list goes on and on, with prices ranging from $10 to $50, and may Champagnes to choose from as well. Prices are competitive. Selections in all categories are huge. Looking for a gift set? They carry those too.

Have no concerns regarding your safety at night. The building, parking lot and pumps are extremely well lit with top of the line lights and surveillance equipment. “Like” us on Facebook and watch for specials throughout the year. Buying for a party or guests, spend $100 to get a 5% discount.

So folks, let’s stay local, shop local, and support Hamptonites!




Since the new year a second new business has opened in the Town, Stonehurst at Hampton Valley, an events venue that features an inn and barns set on 90 acres of countryside. The events venue provides facilities for weddings, showers, proms and corporate and community gatherings. The proprietors are well known local business people, Craig and Elke Gates and Kathy Borner.

The inn, which can accommodate 80 guests, is set on a small rise that overlooks a large open field with views of rustic barns and the Little River. The property was an alpaca farm and bed and breakfast and will maintain much of its former past.  The existing barn is currently being renovated and a new post and beam barn will soon be constructed. All work is expected to be completed by August 1st, and once completed, the barns can accommodate up to 299 guests and will be climate controlled with modern bathroom facilities.

Since its opening on March 1st, the facility has already booked ten events, including a local high school’s junior prom. Events can be catered by the owners’ Black Dog Bar and Grille restaurant, or one can rent a space and catering can be provided by a licensed caterer selected by the guest. A future bed and breakfast utilizing the upstairs rooms at the inn is a possibility, however there have been only preliminary discussions with the Town.

In addition to the building of the barn and other general renovations, the owners are re-landscaping the property. The landscaping is being done by Elke Gates’ business, Elke’s Plant Scapes. Areas along the Little River have already been cleaned and a gazebo has been moved from the inn to a site overlooking the river to create an intimate space for wedding ceremonies.

As with any changes in a small town there has been some concern on local impacts to the environment, traffic and the general quiet nature of the area. As reported by The Gazette, these impacts were discussed during the site’s permitting process and specific terms have been added to the permit to address potential impacts. Several of the concerns will be reviewed again in one year by the Town.

Peter Witkowski

April Time Capsule


40 Years Ago in Hampton, April 1978:

  • The Selectmen appoint a committee of five to study the feasibility of Town purchase of land.
  • An article titled “The Bear Truth” quotes Conservation Officer Phil Russell’s answer to rumors about bears in the area: “No reports; no sightings; no bear.”
  • “Hampton Cooperates” reports on the Hampton Food Coop

30 Years Ago, April 1988:

  • “Progress Report on the New School” by Quentin Woodward updates residents on the elementary school building project.
  • The Selectmen approve the Fire Department’s request to purchase a new truck to replace Engine 112, a 1953 American LaFrance, at an estimated cost of $70,000.
  • The Democratic Town Committee adopts a resolution critical of the State’s spending to promote its plan to build a Route 6 alternate, specifically the use of “the peoples’ own revenue on ads and brochures to sell them its ideas”.

20 Years Ago, April 1998:

  • The front page reports a “UFO Sighting in Hampton”, advising residents to “not be unduly alarmed. The UFO has been around a long time, and to date no ill effect or danger has ever been proven to be related to their visits.”
  • The Little River Grange announces an Awards Night to honor 70-year member Idamay Richmond.
  • Hampton Elementary School Principal explains their new program: preschool.

10 Years Ago, April 2008:

  • A salute to Minnie Halbach, longest serving member of the Gazette staff, who delivered the Gazette to every household in town for 30 years.
  • Seniors announce upcoming trips to: Vermont Quilt Festival, The King & I, and Booth Bay Harbor.
  • Dog Warden Brianna Walton reports on a rabid cat captured at the home of Diane Gagnon.


40 Years Ago, April 1978:

  • Jimmy Carter is President and Ella Grasso is Governor.
  • “Night Fever” by the Bee Gees is number one on the radio and movie fans are still headed out to see “Star Wars”.
  • Gary Player wins The Masters golf tournament.
  • Actor Will Geer, famous for playing Grandpa on the hit TV series The Waltons, dies at the age of 76.

30 Years Ago, April 1988:

  • Ronald Regan is President and Lowell Weicker is Governor.
  • The number one song was “Man in The Mirror” by Michael Jackson and the top box office draw was “BeetleJuice”.
  • Kansas wins the 50th NCAA Men’s Championship and Louisiana Tech wins the 7th NCAA Women’s Championship.

20 Years Ago April 1998:

  • Bill Clinton was President and John Rowland was Governor.
  • In Florida, Disney’s Animal Kingdom opens in Orlando.
  • The number one song was “Getting Jiggy Wit It” by Will Smith and “Lost in Space” is tops at the box office.
  • Peyton Manning is the number one pick in the NFL draft taken by the Indianapolis Colts.

10 Years Ago, April 2008:

  • George W. Bush was president. Jodi Rell was Governor.
  • The number one song was “With You” by Chris Brown and the top box office draw was “The Forbidden Kingdom”.
  • Actor Charlton Heston passes at the age of 84.


Ups & Downs

Thumbs up to the road crew for seeing us safely through another winter of treacherous storms. From the comfort of our homes, we’ve watched you faithfully plow, hour after hour, during blizzards that produced multiple inches of snow per hour in gale force winds. A humbled town thanks you.

Thumbs down to the snow storms of March. We acknowledge that the earlier part of winter was milder and dryer than what we usually withstand, but four nor’easters over the course of three weeks is a cruel abnormality even for New England standards.  Enough!

Dear Auntie Mac

Dear Auntie Mac,

At my son’s insistence, I relocated to Hampton last fall from an upscale, suburban neighborhood in the South. Shortly after my arrival, my son’s company transferred him to another state for a few months, leaving me alone in this ridiculously small town. I haven’t the means to become a snowbird, and I’m too old to gallivant around the area in slippery months, but I don’t know how I’ll ever endure another winter here. Just what does one do in a place so evidently devoid of culture? I doubt there’s even anything worth reading in what appears to be a poor excuse for a library. Ideas?

Bored to Tears

My Dear Neighbor:

On behalf of everyone north of the Mason-Dixon Line, I do apologize for the rather challenging winter temperatures that we endure here. I assure you that to a person, each of us swears that next year we will repair to one of your upscale suburban neighborhoods in the South without fail. And yet…we remain. Foolishness? Far from it. Sloth? Hardly. A narrow worldview? Please.

Your Auntie Mac remembers a trip she took several years ago to a remote island in Prince William Sound. She admits that she had to be stuffed forcibly into the boat by her traveling companion, who thought it would be great fun to ruin a perfectly good summer by visiting a locale similar to Yakutsk, Siberia. Upon approaching the island she prepared herself for an afternoon of ticks, mud, cold snacks and the guide’s coma-inducing description of sea life. As we landed, the rattiest looking fellow she had ever seen was ambling out of the scrub brush towards the shore, waving madly at us. At last it’s happened, she thought to herself: I’ve died and gone to hell. He was ever so delighted to see us, and urged us to follow him down a ladder into what appeared to be a cold war-era bunker. My dear, I was not amused.  But what I found at the foot of that ladder forever changed my once-ingrained habit of leaping to conclusions about the ability of a place to surprise me. For in this cavern was one of the most complete and esoteric private libraries I had ever encountered. This scrawny, filthy-bearded fellow was a poet, philosopher and student of geopolitical discourse, and we spent a fascinating afternoon discussing Sartre, the Chicago School of Economics and its implications in a post-NAFTA world, the difficulty of getting a reservation at Le Cirque, and why a DeKooning is far superior to a Rothko.  All while dining on salmon pate and mint tea.

My point, dear, is that you cannot begin to know what secrets a small town possesses until you take it upon yourself to begin to explore them. From the more than extensive library to the cultural/historical organizations to the countless civic participation opportunities just begging to be seized, Hampton is, as I’m sure your son has told you, a virtual cultural mecca. It is also a place of remarkable beauty whatever the season.  And unlike my Alaska experience, it is all above ground. As far as I know. Visit the town’s website, read the Gazette, say hello to everyone at the Town Hall and ask what’s going on. The “slippery months” will fly by…and you will miss them.

Auntie Mac