Commentary by Kimberly Rupe as seen in the Rutland Herald:

For 26 years, I’ve called this glorious little town home — I was born and raised here, stayed in the area throughout college, and bought my first home right in the village where I reside today. For 26 years, I’ve loved this town, but this past week, I fell in love with it all over again.

As we all know, Poultney has been faced with some hard times this past year. Almost exactly one year ago, we heard the news of the closure of Green Mountain College (GMC) — what I considered the “anchor of our town” for as long as I could remember. I’ll never forget that day, what I was doing when I found out of the closure, the fear that came about me of what might happen to my town, and the sadness that came before me for the end of an era.

Over the past year, our friends at the State of Vermont, Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD), and numerous other businesses, organizations and individuals have come together to show support for the town of Poultney. Since the closure of GMC, I’ve been amazed by the number of individuals who have stepped up to lend a hand and help ensure Poultney remains a wonderful place to live. Thanks to our friends at VCRD and their amazing work in guiding Poultney in a positive direction, there were countless people who raised their hands to join various task forces around positive efforts in Poultney. Topics included boosting downtown businesses, building a co-working space, increased broadband, developing a bank and supporting townwide recreation. Last week, over 100 individuals and families came together at Poultney High School to hear the updates of the work that’s been going on throughout the last year and encourage others to get involved.

I sat in the library of the high school last week watching people filter in for this meeting. I watched as individuals picked up their information packets and settled into familiar territory of our library. I listened to the conversations around me of eagerness to hear some these updates. As the presentation began and we all sat in a room where so many of us attended high school, caused havoc and gossiped when we should have been listening, the room fell silent — a silence that filled the room because people were so genuinely interested in the topic, interested in how they could get involved, and sparking hope for the future.

For 26 years, I’ve watched college students fill the streets of Poultney with energy, passion and willingness to learn — college students who are no longer filling our streets. But this night, I watched residents of this town fill a room with that same energy for the positive things happening, show passion for a town they love, and a willingness to learn how they could get involved.

In my 26 years, I’ve never been prouder of the town of Poultney and the people who fill our neighborhood. As someone who is young and looking to build their life here, I thank you. I thank you all for your energy, passion and willingness in making this a wonderful place to live.

I hope more of you will continue to be part of this positive change — I know I will.

Kimberley Rupe lives in Poultney