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Proctor gets some help helping itself


By Katelyn Barcellos, as seen in the Rutland Herald:

PROCTOR — The Vermont Council on Rural Development is calling all residents, entrepreneurs and skilled people to a meeting of the minds May 16 to discuss the future of the once-bountiful Marble Capital of Vermont: Proctor.

“Last month was the initial brainstorming effort,” said Jenna Koloski, community and policy manager for the Vermont Council on Rural Development. “We asked, ‘What are the assets in Proctor? What are the challenges?’ This meeting is our action plan.”

The May 16 meeting will take place from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Vermont Marble Museum at 52 Main St. Community members are encouraged to join one of three task forces that were formed at the end of the April 18 public meeting to redirect and better use the strengths of Proctor residents to resurrect their town.

One team will address the redevelopment of historic buildings, and another will work to market the town as a place to live, work and do business. A final group will focus on building community engagement through local events and improving town-wide communication, according to Town Manager Stan Wilbur.

“At the last meeting, the people said ‘We want to share our story,'” Koloski said. “They want to promote the history of the Marble Museum and the wonderful local school system, and boost the community in general.”

Though local residents are spearheading all redevelopment efforts, Koloski said the council will work on their behalf to reach out to outside resources to bolster them.

State and federal partners include the Rutland Economic Development Corp., the Rutland Regional Planning Commission, the USDA Office of Rural Development, the Preservation Trust of Vermont, and the Department of Housing and Community Developmen, among others, she said.

“We are looking for people with the expertise to bring resources to the town to support these people,” Koloski said.

Among those already recruited are Lyle Jepson, executive director of REDC, and Paul Bruhn at the Preservation Trust of Vermont, who was instrumental in the work on the Marble Museum.

Wilbur said he hopes to attract a variety of representatives from all corners of the town to contribute their ideas and energies at the upcoming meeting.

Selectwoman Judy Frazier said the last meeting left residents and organizers buzzing with diverse and carefully thought-out ideas, and a general feeling of hope for the future.

“The next meeting on May 16 is even more valuable, as it will carry us to the next planning stage where dreams can become reality and hopefully success,” Frazier said in a news release. “I have worked on so many committees and when sweat and soul are needed. Proctor residents come through with flying colors.”