Dixville’s Dy­namic Mayor

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Dixville

Dixville, a tiny town that’s prac­ti­cally hid­den off of route 147 just south of Coat­i­cook, seems to be reinventing it­self. The seven hun­dred and eleven Dixville mayor Martin Sain­don wants young per­son com­mu­nity has fam­i­lies to dis­cover Dixville and its many re­sources.

made head­lines in the last few years, fight­ing the gov­ern­ment over its an­cient dam, work­ing out a spe­cial ar­range­ment with the Dixville Home to deal with the empty build­ings, ini­ti­at­ing an am­bi­tious home de­vel­op­ment project and, just last spring, be­ing fea­tured on the pop­u­lar French lan­guage tele­vi­sion show, La Petite Se­duc­tion.

One of the driv­ing forces be­hind Dixville’s process of re­ju­ve­na­tion is its en­er­getic and friendly mayor, Martin Sain­don. “My wife and I were liv­ing in Coat­i­cook in a small house and we wanted to start a fam­ily. She knew of Dixville so we came in April, of 2001, to take a tour of the town,” ex­plained Mr. Sain­don, who grew up in Sher­brooke. “Af­ter look­ing around for a while, we were about to leave when we saw the cross on Parker Hill light up. So we drove to take a look at the cross and there was a house for sale just across the street! We called about the house right away and were mov­ing here by the end of June. It was love at first sight.”

Eight years later, with his fam­ily well un­der way and feel­ing like a true ‘Dixvil­lian’, Martin joined the town’s gov­ern­ment as a coun­cilor. “I think that peo­ple who come from the out­side can some­times have a new vi­sion, see the po­ten­tial of a town,” he said.

Elected mayor in 2013 by ac­cla­ma­tion, Mr. Sain­don has been busy, along with the en­tire coun­cil and the town’s staff, he is quick to ad­mit, work­ing on the re­vi­tal­iza­tion and re-brand­ing of the small com­mu­nity. The Dixville Home dossier, the project to deal with the sev­eral aban­doned prop­er­ties and fa­cil­i­ties of that or­ga­ni­za­tion, is al­most com­plete. “One build­ing was sold to our Co­op­er­a­tive, an­other was made into apart­ments, and many other prop­er­ties were sold. The town bought the pool for $1 and two garages for a lit­tle more money,” men­tioned the mayor.

Dixville’s Co­op­er­a­tive de Sol­i­dar­ité is an­other im­por­tant step to­wards re­newal. With one hun- dred and twenty-four mem­bers and count­ing, and af­ter sev­eral brunch and spaghetti din­ner fundrais­ers and many grant ap­pli­ca­tions, its plans are to open a gen­eral store and restau­rant in the heart of the town, just like in the old days. “The ad­min­is­tra­tors of the Coop are all lo­cal vol­un­teers and, be­cause it’s a Co­op­er­a­tive de ‘Sol­i­dar­ité’, mem­bers can come from any­where. Ev­ery­one, not just Dixville res­i­dents, will be able to shop at the store,” he ex­plained.

The town’s new home de­vel­op­ment project, lo­cated on land go­ing up Parker Hill, will hope­fully see the build­ing of about seventy ‘en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly’ homes. The new con­struc­tion is cru­cial if the town is to meet one of its ob­jec­tives: to in­crease its pop­u­la­tion by 20% by 2020.

“What’s also im­por­tant to our re­vi­tal­iza­tion project is to con­tinue with spe­cial events. We were on La Petite Se­duc­tion and we had the Fete du Peche here for the first time this year. We held a spe­cial ride through the for­est with eighty horses, we hold a vil­lage me­choui, and we hosted vis­its with Place aux Je­unes this year. A young couple from Longueil just bought a house in Dixville and they will be mov­ing here soon,” said Mr. Sain­don.

Al­ways en­thu­si­as­tic in his role as mayor, Mr. Sain­don ex­plained what he liked about the po­si­tion: “I want to be of ser­vice, and I like be­ing mayor not for the ti­tle, but be­cause it is like a key to get into places. I feel like an agent of de­vel­op­ment for the com­mu­nity, an agent of change.”

Photo pro­vided by Ernes­tine Wi­hip­ple

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Mayor Martin Sain­don sees him­self as a de­vel­op­ment agent for the town of Dixville.

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