After ten years of advocacy for the river and its watershed, the Willimantic River Alliance incorporated as a nonprofit organization on June 23, 2005. In a riverside ceremony at Nye Holman State Forest in Tolland, the incorporation papers were signed by members of the original steering committee: Mark Paquette, Naomi Pomper, Paul Pribula, Meg Reich, Eric Thomas, and Vicky Wetherell. As the group gathered for a photo, a great blue heron flew to a nearby riverbank to be included in the picture, which seemed to be a sign of approval!
The group then moved across the river to the Track Nine Diner (now owned by Jim Hayes) for the first meeting of the board of directors: Ingrid Aarestad, Larry Diamond, Jim Hayes, Mark Paquette, Mike Powers, Meg Reich, Vicky Wetherell, and Diane Wright. The directors elected officers: President, Vicky Wetherell; Vice-President, Meg Reich: Secretary, Mark Paquette: and Treasurer, Naomi Pomper. Under its new name, Willimantic River Alliance, Inc., the organization is applying for IRS approval as a tax-exempt organization so it can receive tax-deductible contributions.
The Alliance was previously sponsored as a program of the North Central Conservation District (formerly the Tolland County Soil and Water Conservation District). Past grants to the Alliance were administered through WINCOG (Windham Region Council of Governments). The generous support of both these organizations has made it possible for the Alliance to accomplish many projects in the watershed in the past ten years. The Alliance’s new nonprofit status offers opportunities to directly apply or grants and also a formal nonprofit structure for its ongoing activities to promote and preserve the river and its watershed.