Looking Back: Building ‘The Barn,’ wood duck boxes

‘Drugs Fight AIDS’ read a front-page headline in the Feb. 25, 1993, Ridgefield Press.

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals had developed an experimental antiviral drug in April, the newspaper reported, that was suddenly receiving recognition in the medical community.

“It is part of a new potential AIDS treatment that Harvard medical student Yung-Kang Chow formulated at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston,” The Press said.

Mr. Chow had combined the drug nevirapine with two other drugs, and together the three eliminated the HIV virus from human cells in a test tube.

“Boehringer Ingelheim is now helping support experiments at the University of Alabama to determine whether the drug combination is safe in humans.”

Also on the front page that week was a proposed youth center, better known by Ridgefielders of the past two generations as “The Barn.”

“Could ‘The Barn’ — a youth center that has been on the drawing board for six years — be a reality in September?” asked The Press in the lead sentence about the youth commission’s project that was projected to cost $168,000.

The plan included renovating the old town-owned barn off Governor Street by the entrance to Veterans Park School.

“Experts agree that a dollar spent on positive youth development is many more times cost effective than trying to rehabilitate older youth or adults,” Youth Commission member Ruth Leibowitz read in a statement to the Board of Selectmen.  

50 years ago

What the first selectman of Ridgefield can and can’t do was the topic of discussion at the Charter Revision Commission meeting at Town Hall Feb. 21, 1968.

“Previously the commission had decided that the first selectman should be the elected administrative head of the government and chairman of the nine-member town council without a vote,” The Press reported in its Feb. 22 edition. “Reaffirming its desire to keep separate the administrative and legislative branches, the commission last night rejected giving the chief executive a veto power over the council’s enactments.”

The newspaper noted that neighboring communities had given their top officials a veto that councils could override by a two-thirds vote.

“All the commissioners opposed this idea as giving too much power to the executive and extending his role beyond the strictly administrative,” The Press said.

Four Ridgefield Scouts were pictured on that week’s front page installing wood duck boxes at Minestone Refuge with a sledgehammer. The boxes, which helped keep the wood ducks flourishing in town, were equipped with sleeves to discourage raccoons and other predators.  

The boys intended that the one-and-a-half-year project would help them earn the William T. Hornaday Award for distinguished service in conservation.

“Achieving the award has not been attempted before in town,” The Press reported.