After seven years, the leaders of Project VISION said at their Thursday meeting they are planning to update their vision, objectives and goals, as they expand from a focus on the Northwest neighborhood to the whole city.

Joe Kraus, the chairman of Project VISION, explained the reason for the update. He pointed out during Project VISION’s Thursday meeting he was “amazed” that after seven years, Project VISION meetings still attracted a full room at their meeting place in the Howe Center. The meetings take place the second Thursday of every month.

“I think the key to maintaining that energy, that focus, is to stop from time to time, take a big step back and take an honest look at where we are. I underline the word ‘honest’ because, while we have a lot of successes, there are areas where we have not been successful, and we need to be honest about that so we can deal with our challenges and rise to the occasion,” he said.

A survey has been sent out to everyone on Project VISION’s email list. The surveys are due back in two weeks.

The survey results will be discussed at Project VISION’s February meetings along with an analysis of what the results say about Project VISION’s SWOT, or Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. In March, the group will discuss the high-level strategic plan elements for the new visions and goals.

Those elements will be refined by two dedicated committees, a strategic-planning team that will include Mayor David Allaire; Rutland City Police Chief Brian Kilcullen; RCPD Cmdr. Matt Prouty, who is executive director of Project VISION; Dr. Jeff McKee and Sarah Roy, who are co-leaders of Project VISION’s health and welfare committee; and Teresa Miele, chairwoman of the community, neighborhoods and housing committee. The members of a smaller working group, to make big-picture decisions, are Kraus, Prouty and Roy.

Project VISION also has a crime-and-safety committee. Prouty is chairman.

At the April meeting, the members of Project VISION’s three committees will develop action plans that meet the directions that have been established up to that point. The updated plan is scheduled to be shared at the Project VISION meeting May 4.

“I have no idea where this process is going to take us. None. I don’t imagine anybody in this room does. But I do believe it’s an essential time to do this so that we can keep our focus, keep our energy going forward,” Kraus said.

Attendees at Project VISION meetings have been suggesting the organization look inward since October.

On Oct. 8, members of the Rutland City Police Department shot and killed Christopher G. Louras, 33, son of former Rutland mayor, Christopher Louras. Police announced that day a man had been found dead in Salisbury.

The Vermont State Police soon announced the other man was Nicholas Louras, 34, of Rutland, who is Christopher Louras’ cousin and the nephew of Rutland’s current mayor, David Allaire.

Police have not released any information directly linking the deaths or providing any motivation for Christopher Louras’ action.

On Oct. 24, Jacqueline Burch, 26, of Pittsford, was killed in a vehicle crash on Route 4 in Rutland. An affidavit filed in the case said Michael D. Reed, 27, of Rutland, who was charged with causing the death, was seen “huffing” from an aerosol can just after the crash by emergency medical responders.

Joan Gamble, who will work as a facilitator with the planning committee and the planning sub-committee, said Project VISION was a coalition. The survey going out is based on surveys used successfully by other coalitions, she said.

Gamble said the strategic-planning committee would be responsible for reviewing the information that comes from the survey and making decisions. The sub-committee will look at the details, according to Gamble.

City Alderman Chris Ettori asked if the survey could be shared with Rutland residents who don’t regularly attend Project VISION meetings. Prouty said that would be encouraged, but pointed out the surveys need to be returned in two weeks.

Dick Malley, co-chairman of the Rutland Area Habitat for Humanity, said he hoped outreach would be made to the general public.

Kraus told the audience on Thursday that he believed the success of updating Project VISION would be proportional to the participation of members.

“The success of this turns completely on all of us. Don’t look to somebody else to make this successful. You have to look inward. We need everybody to engage in the survey, I think you’ll find it of interest, to give honest, thoughtful feedback and also to participate in all the other planning activities that will happen between now and May,” he said.

patrick.mcardle @rutlandherald.com

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