By Katelyn Barcellos as seen in the Rutland Herald: https://www.rutlandherald.com/articles/proctor-residents-take-control-of...
PROCTOR — The training wheels are coming off as the Vermont Council of Rural Development takes a back seat to the leadership of 57 community participants now spearheading the “Proctor’s Future” game plan.
“We’re always here to support them,” said Jenna Koloski, community and policy manager at Vermont Council of Rural Development. “But the Proctor residents are the experts in what Proctor needs. We’re confident they’re prepared to take the next step.”
An action plan released by the VCRD this week detailed the third phase in Proctor’s revitalization movement. The 16-page document listed events and plans suggested by residents at the May 16 Action Planning meeting at the Marble Museum, community concerns and as a full list of resources and contact information for people and organizations to help Proctor continue to showcase everything it has to offer to the world.
“There’s a lot of respect that needs to be shown to the people who have been here all along volunteering,” said “Proctor’s Future” said chairwoman Laura Marsh. “My hope that anyone who doesn’t have the time to be on a committee, who lives in Proctor who has an idea, to get in contact. We want to make sure they’re heard. We know not everyone has time, but if you can’t come, please give your input.”
The first committee, which will focus on marketing Proctor as a place to live, work and do business, will be led by Linda Doty, with resource assistance from the Rutland Regional Planning Commission and the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce.
First steps for promoting the town will include compiling a brochure about”Living in Proctor,” describing town scenery and quality of life in Proctor from a residential standpoint, as well as improving their online presence with help from social media platforms and the town website.
The committee will also focus on promoting the local school systems to families and students who may be interested in relocating, and collaborating with Proctor High School students to create a video promotion of the town.
A potential Discovery Map and calendar cards are also on the agenda to put the word out about events taking place in an effort to attract people from other communities and states.
The second committee will be building the community through events, communication and engagement, led by Carol Protivansky with assistance from Steve Costello, a vice president at Green Mountain Power.
“It’ll be great once we get the word out to the community,” Protivansky said. “Whether it’s concerts or events, we’re hoping more people will come out and join these committees. I’m sure the people of Proctor have terrific ideas.”
The group aims to revitalize the “Our Yard” organization that was started years ago, possibly merging it with the newly formed community building group led by Protivansky, and bolstering community events such as the Memorial Day Parade, the Fall Festival, Fourth of July celebrations, scheduling events at the Proctor Marble Museum to publicize the venue and promoting local amenities such as the ice skating rink, pool and Beaver Pond.
They will also consider holding “Touch-A-Truck” events, monthly themed barbecues during the summer time, adding a community picnic onto the townwide Memorial Day celebration, hosting pet-friendly events, planning an Arts and Crafts week for local families, and developing a “Proctor Professors” program, connecting community members with courses taught by local experts and teachers.
The third committee, chaired by Tom Doty, will focus on the restoration of Proctor’s historic buildings with the help of Rutland Economic Development Corp. and the Preservation Trust of Vermont, beginning first by taking inventory of the structures, their condition, any environmental or structural code concerns, and work that needs to be completed for them to be usable as venues.
The water and wastewater systems will be evaluated, as well as the viability of cellular service, broadband capability, and the condition of the sidewalks, roads and transit systems.
A market analysis will also be conducted to determine opportunities for senior and assisted living, possible realty opportunities. They will visit other towns who have had success with building revitalization, such as Putney, Guilford and West Townsend to draw inspiration for the currently vacant historic structures.
Koloski said the VCRD is stepping aside with confidence in the Proctor’s leaders to continue to spread the word and rebuild their town.
“We’re excited to be as useful as we can to Proctor,” Koloski said. “Now it’s the communities work. It’s a really neat spectrum of initiatives that they’ve chosen, and we’re excited to see where they go next.”