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Folks Sought To Focus On Town's Future: Community Vision Process Continues


By Taylor Reed, Caledonian Record:

ST. JOHNSBURY -- Community collaboration continues following the start of an initiative that brings residents together for the sake of their town's future.

More than 80 people have signed up to work five task forces aimed at affecting positive change in areas identified by residents during a May 12 forum at St. Johnsbury School. The task force missions are to develop the St. Johnsbury riverfront, improve downtown housing, redevelop and revitalize downtown buildings, establish a warming shelter for homeless people, and improve community communications and promote a positive image.

"Anyone and everyone is welcome to join a task force," said Jenna Whitson from the Vermont Council on Rural Development, or VCRD, which is sponsoring the free Community Visit Process in St. Johnsbury. "We would love any and all residents to join a task force to move priorities forward."

Those interested may email Whitson at, call Whitson at 225-6091, or attend a June 4 organizational meeting from 6:30-9 p.m. at St. Johnsbury School.

"On our community resource day on June 4th, the task forces will come together for meetings with skilled facilitators to identify key priority action steps that can help move their initiative forward," Whitson said. "They will consider action items that will advance their goals that are actionable and doable."

Task forces will each develop a resources list and confer with visiting experts provided by VCRD.

A chairperson will lead each task force. Mike Welch, a former St. Johnsbury town manager, is chairman of the entire process.

"We welcome participation from people who are interested in any of the projects identified as priorities," Welch said. "It is important that people in the community who are passionate about these issues get involved to identify and take responsibility to initiate specific action items that move these projects forward."

VCRD will be available for guidance throughout.

Resident Sue Cherry, chairwoman of the St. Johnsbury Planning Commission, volunteered for the warming shelter task force along with nine others. She already wants to expand its focus.

"We're going to try to morph that warming shelter into a full housing discussion," Cherry said.

She encourages more volunteers for every task force.

"They're looking for some people who want to roll up their sleeves," Cherry said.