By Patrick McArdle
The next monthly meeting of Project VISION, on Feb. 8, will have an unusual time and meeting location, as leaders report out on their efforts from 2017.
Project VISION, a collaborative, grass-roots organization, was created to bring together police, city government, nonprofits, concerned residents and other stakeholders to respond to the growing crisis caused by opioid addiction.
Monthly meetings are generally on the second Thursday of the month, from noon to 1;30 p.m. at the Alliance Community Fellowship Church in the Howe Center.
The Feb. 8 meeting will be at Rutland Intermediate School cafeteria at 6 p.m.
Commander Matt Prouty, of the Rutland City Police Department, said the meeting would be “sort of a recap from each of the three committees on 2017.”
“It’s sort of a report out from each of the three chairs (of ‘Building Great Neighborhoods,’ ‘Community Health’ and ‘Crime and Safety,’)” he said.
The reports will come from Teresa Miele, co-chairwoman with Shannon Kennelly of the neighborhood committee; Dr. Jeffrey McKee, from Rutland Regional Medical Center; and Sarah Roy, from the Vermont Department of Health, the leaders of the health committee; and Prouty. The meeting will be facilitated by Joe Kraus, chairman of Project VISION.
Prouty said there may also be a report from Rob Bliss, assistant superintendent of the Rutland City Schools, on a pre-kindergarten group.
One change in 2017 was Prouty’s presence as director of Project VISION, after the organization’s first director, Scott Tucker, retired to take a position as town manager of Wilmington.
Prouty said during his first “report out,” he will also be asking members of his committee for their thoughts on goals for 2018.
However, Prouty said, the meeting is not an open forum like some of the community meetings hosted by the Rutland City Police Department. The meeting is open to the public, but Prouty said he expects the committee leaders will report out and seek input primarily from their own members.
Members of the general public may find the meeting useful in several ways, Prouty said. Because it starts in the evening, people who can’t attend the usual lunch-hour monthly meetings may be able to attend, and the format of the meeting will provide a lot of information about what Project VISION has been doing.
“If you wanted to become part of it, you can hear all of the committees and decide which group you might fit best in. … You can go to any of the three, as you see fit, so people may if they want to get involved, take a look, talk to the folks in those committees, say, ‘Hey, how can I get involved and where do I best fit with my talents?’ That’s pretty cool,” he said.
Prouty said the people at the meeting will hear that 2017 was a good year for Project VISION.
“I’m especially looking forward to (the report from) Community Health because (Rutland Regional Medical Center) and the Department of Health are taking on the leadership role in that committee, and it’s really a big deal, because those outcomes affect us here in the city directly,” he said.
The neighborhoods committee is seeing the benefit of “really great energy,” Prouty said. He said groups like NeighborWorks of Western Vermont and Rutland Blooms have done good work in Rutland.
Another highlight is Habitat for Humanity of Rutland County, which finished a project last year and found a family to help build and eventually inhabit the house on Cleveland Avenue.
“There’s going to be a lot of positive things to talk about,” he said.
From the police, Prouty said he expects some of the highlights will be discussion of the Data-Driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Safety, or DDACTS, and the development of an overdose response strategy initiative.