HIGHGATE — Hundreds of Highgate Elementary School (HES) students jumped off their buses at St. Louis Catholic Church on Lamkin Street early Friday morning to take a new route to school – the freshly poured and painted sidewalks and crosswalks in Highgate Center.

The Lamkin Street sidewalk project, spanning from the church to the Highgate Municipal Building on Route 78 (with crosswalks in between), is complete, wrapping up the third week of November.

To celebrate, students, parents, school staff, selectboard members, sidewalk construction committee members, town officials, fire fighters, RiseVT health advocates and others gathered in front of St. Louis church for a ribbon cutting ceremony at 7:30 a.m. before stepping onto the concrete for the first time.

It was difficult to determine which party was more excited at the prospect: the students or the town officials, RiseVT health advocates and other community members involved in the 10-plus year effort to bring sidewalks to Highgate.

“It’s definitely really exciting for Highgate to have the new sidewalks and to connect them to the school,” said Betsy Fournier of RiseVT.

It was a long time coming, according to Town Administrator Heidi Britch-Valenta. The process to construct sidewalks in Highgate Center began in 2007, when the planning commission conducted a feasibility study with grant money from the Northwestern Regional Planning Commission.

Britch-Valenta said there were several false starts before then, but this was the one to gain traction due to the current level of density and potential for future development on Lamkin Street.

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