NEWPORT – The Executive Director of the North Country Chamber of Commerce retired last week.
Donna Higgons, now of Hyde Park, said it was time. She wants to enjoy the Northeast Kingdom with a paddle, on a bike, on snowshoes or skis, and by hiking. She is 68 years old, and with all the development and changes coming to Newport, Higgons says it is time for someone more energetic to take the reins.
Higgons described the recent proposals by developer Bill Stenger and partners as “very exciting.”
She enjoyed her two years with the Chamber and is not leaving for any negative reasons. Her husband passed away one year ago and the year has been a trying time for her.
Now she wants to spend time enjoying her children and grandchildren. She has 13 grandkids that live up and down the East Coast.
Higgons is also happy she will now have time to work on her novel. She has about five chapters done so far.
The historical fiction is based on her family history. She spent time in Maine doing ancestral research. Higgons discovered that some of her relatives were taken as children, following a massacre during the French and Indian struggles, to Quebec for what amounted to servitude. They were ransomed back by grandparents. However, one child ended up in France and the family lost track of her.
Higgons really enjoyed her time working in the Kingdom and made many friends. “I loved meeting the people,” she said.
She says it’s true that the people of the NEK are the friendliest and kindest.
Higgons and her husband were also avid sailors, and Higgon’s husband taught sailing on Lake Memphremagog. He died unexpectedly.
Higgons moved recently to Hyde Park from Craftsbury to be closer to her children.
Speaking about the executive director position, Higgons said it is a challenging one but she enjoyed its many facets, something she appreciated. She said the Chamber is heading in the right direction with fantastic people.
With all the development expected over the next couple of years, Higgons hopes that people will be able to stay and live in the Kingdom and have good paying jobs. She described the many opportunities in the hospitality industry and the ability to move up in a field that has great potential.
“Those in all levels of hospitality do well,” she said.
She also discussed the local opportunities for education such as Community College of Vermont in Newport. “There is opportunity to go to school and be prepared for the jobs that will be available.”
The “naysayers” can take a look around and see that there is opportunity here, she said.