Swanton Enhancement Project
September 21, 2016
5:30 – 7:00 pm
Swanton Public Library – King’s Daughters’ Room
Molly Lambert, Co-Chair
Kathy Lavoie, Substance Abuse Committee
Terri O’Shea, Economic Development Committee (filling in for Adam Paxman)
Ronald Kilburn, Outdoor Recreation
Hank Lambert, Co-Chair and Beautification Committee
Sandra Kilburn, Beautification Committee
Heather Buczkowski, Communications Committee
Rich Kelley, Communications Committee
Scott Rheaume, Swanton Arts Council
Nicole Gadouas, Swanton Arts Council
Ross Lavoie, nominated for SEP Committee Chair
David Jescavage, Town Administrator
Joel Clark, Treasurer
Yaasha Wheeler, Secretary
Tom Benton, St. Albans Messenger
- Welcome: Review of Agenda & July 20 meeting notes
Molly Lambert opened the meeting at 5:34 p.m.
- Administrative Support
- Introduce Yaasha Wheeler
Mrs. Lambert introduced Yaasha Wheeler, the new secretary.
There were no additions to the agenda. Mrs. Lambert referenced the July 20th organizational meeting, which had elected officers & committee chairs. Ross Lavoie would evaluate the possibility of becoming chair and she encouraged others to step forward who may want to co-chair as she and Mr. Lambert are doing.
Mrs. Lambert asked Yaasha Wheeler to discuss how Miss Wheeler could receive meeting information from each committee to use as a basis for committee minutes. Miss Wheeler explained that she could transcribe minutes from audio recordings of the minutes and recommended that each committee could use a digital voice recorder. She would then forward the minutes to Mrs. Lambert for posting and distribution. Mrs. Kilburn made a motion, seconded by Ross Lavoie, to get a voice recorder for each committee. Motion carried.
- Committee Reports
- Substance Abuse – Kathy Lavoie
Mrs. Lavoie stated that, on October 19th in the evening, there will be a Community Forum/Celebration with a discussion on underage drinking, hosted by Franklin County Caring Communities in partnership with the SEP. This event will be SEP’s quarterly public forum per its by-laws. They have just started the planning meetings and will be advertising. This is part of a bigger initiative to become an informational community, identifying Swanton as a focal point for the sharing of information around substance abuse, treatment, prevention, etc. A prevention meeting will be held in January, a joint meeting with a host of partners, like the Regional Prevention Partnership, Franklin County Caring Communities, and more. More advertising was to come.
The Regional Prevention Partnership had had its first meeting with her today, and it looked like a good resource for the group. Promise Community may also be a resource. They are looking at funding focused toward parents of children 0-6 who are considered at risk.
Mrs. Lavoie had reached out to Rutland to discuss the possibility of changing the name from the Swanton Task Force for Substance Abuse. The Rutland task force was integrating within the broader Rutland region as community wellness, making them part of a bigger discussion. The resources and support were greater that way.
Mrs. Kilburn said that she and Mrs. Lavoie were going to an all-day prevention conference in Montpelier put on by Prevent Child Abuse Vermont.
Mrs. Lambert referenced the importance of keeping the communications team involved to help with advertising.
- Economic Development (and Downtown Vitality) – Terri O’Shea
The Brownfields Targeted Area-Wide Committee had gotten bids from consultants and chosen one (Fairweather). The project involved looking at revitalizing the northern gateway for Swanton. That was very exciting for the Town. Mr. Jescavage explained that the gateway was the big open area right after you cross the bridge to the Village. There would be another meeting in October with the consultant to go over the site. Mrs. Lambert said that this was an exciting “gap analysis” that would help build the foundation of information that the economic development committee and new economic development post in the town could use. Mr. Jescavage said that this was more than looking at Brownfields issues, but involved developing plans for future development and growth.
Mrs. Lambert had suggested contacting Ben Doyle of USDA to see how other communities that had economic development committees were using them.
Mr. Clark said that, at the Selectboard meeting the night before, they had looked at the economic development coordinator position and the plan was to get the job description out after the Selectboard’s October meeting and begin looking for someone to fill the position. If it would be too difficult to get someone part-time, perhaps the Town could work with a consultant through a contract for the first year. He figured they could “attack it from both angles.” Ms. O’Shea said that the Selectboard was very welcoming and positive about the position and Mr. Clark said that they were moving forward, not as quickly as he hoped, but steadily. All applauded the commitment of the Selectboard to this effort.
Ross Lavoie asked if the landowners of the areas affected by the Brownfields study had been notified. Mr. Jescavage said that they would be contacted at the appropriate stage in the process. Ms. O’Shea explained that some “informal” notification had been taking place already.
- Outdoor Recreation (and Downtown Walking and Bikeability) – Betsy Fournier and Ron Kilburn
Mr. Kilburn said that they “had their ducks in line” with even more ducks than last year (now 500 ducks), with more prize money than last year for Swanton. The event will be held on Saturday, October 8th at 1 p.m. starting from the Dam Overlook and ending at Marble Mill Park. First prize: $120 if your duck crosses the finish line first and Last place: $75 if your duck crosses the finish line last. Participants can buy ducks for $5 at participating Swanton locations: Aubuchon, Maple City Candy, Mother Hubbard, The Parts Store, and Swanton Library. The communications committee has done a good job of advertising, and the Swanton Arts Council has advertised on the art boards in the Village. The recipients of the benefit are the same as last year: the Swanton Historical Society and the Swanton Enhancement Project.
Mr. Kilburn said that he and Betsy Fournier had been working on a map that would identify all forms of outdoor recreation throughout Swanton. It was almost ready to be printed. They had met with Emily Hubbard from Regional Planning Commission in preparing the map, and it would be 4’ x 7’ and weatherproof. They would like to put one down by the Northern Forest Canoe Trail kiosk and the Swanton park, if the legislative bodies approved. Ross Lavoie would talk to Reg Beliveau about the condition of the state-owned boat launch.
Mr. Kilburn said they had not addressed the question of walkability and bikeability, because they wanted to know their role in putting that together.
- Beautification Committee – Hank Lambert
Mr. Lambert said that trees and flowers enhanced the community, so they had been focusing on that. They had received a $900 grant to plant three trees, two planted in the triangle park and one on the Village green. Frank Shumway was a tremendous help in planting the trees.
The flowers in the park and various locations along the commercial area were doing well, but the bridge flowers were vandalized three times. Ross Lavoie will take down the bridge baskets on Saturday. The committee will participate in the Town vandalism forum on September 28th to discuss how to address that.
The committee met two weeks ago to discuss their name and purpose: “What do we hope to do?” They are creating a plan and statement. One focus is to create a master plan with goals for the next 4-6 years, that would incrementally increase flowers, trees, and other beautification efforts in conjunction with the Swanton Arts Council. Linda Wirts had suggested focusing on First Street First, and suggested promoting mounting barn quilts on some of the buildings along First Street.
Sandra Kilburn said that they had talked about changing the receptacles on the bridge to a wooden box that would be more durable and less likely to be vandalized. Mr. Lambert said that another consideration was erecting poles along the bridge. Mrs. Lavoie said that it was important not to downplay the Beautification Committee’s role. She detailed how various towns’ efforts at beautification were attractive to the people traveling through and gave a positive perception of the town. Mr. Clark liked the idea of working on First Street, but felt that the entrance on the other side of the bridge could have “great strides made without huge amounts of money or effort.” Mrs. Lavoie said it would also discourage the “terrible traffic habit” by which people cut across the lot to avoid the intersection.
Mrs. O’Shea asked if anything was done during the winter. Mrs. Kilburn said that the wooden flower boxes on the bridge could be filled with greens and berries. Mr. Lavoie said that St. Albans hosted snowman and snow sculpture building events throughout the winter. Mrs. Buczkowski said that a similar idea had been proposed to Reg Beliveau at one time, and agreed it was a good idea. Ms. Gadouas liked the ideas but reminded that it was all conditional on the weather.
- Communications Committee – Heather Buczkowski
Mrs. Buczkowski said that “summertime was so much fun that we forgot to have a meeting” for the Communications Committee. She and Rich Kelley were connecting with Swantonians on Facebook. They had an Outdoor Recreation Committee Facebook page, and the Swanton Arts Council had a Facebook page as well. “There are some points when we feel like we should have all the communication on one page… I personally like the idea of everyone having their own page, so it’s organized.” Rich Kelley said that the Chamber of Commerce were putting on an event about social media. Mrs. Buczkowski said she was happy to help out, but did not necessarily need to be the point person.
Mrs. Buczkowski said that Facebook groups could have multiple admins. Mrs. Lavoie said that she could advertise to eleven communities when she posted on Front Page Forum.
- Partner Reports
- Arts Council – Scott Rheaume
Mrs. Lambert said that the Arts Council was developing their own 501(c)3 status and had over 100 members, and were partners now, rather than a committee of the SEP. Scott Rheaume is the new president and Nicole Gadouas is the new vice president.
Mr. Rheaume reported that the Vermont Creative Network, which came out of the Vermont Arts Council, divided Vermont up into six regional zones. The Swanton Arts Council had been called upon to “head up” the northwest zone and report back to the Vermont Creative Network. Ms. Gadouas said that the Vermont Arts Council blog had featured the Swanton Arts Council. “It became clear that there is a strong desire to grow as an arts presence in this town.” She added that the pride and ownership of one’s community was very important.
- Library – Michelle
Ms. Beaulieau said that the hundredth anniversary of the library had gone well. Fred Wiseman had done an historic walk and would help jumpstart the “seed library,” which would take at least a year to set up. Their “seed library” was when people brought and took heirloom and organic seeds. The library was starting a series of computer classes geared toward people who needed those skills, with Harold Smith. The library had done a lot through the Arts Council, with “book butchering” classes and the first writers’ group, which would participate in NaNoWriMo. They were expanding programs for adults, as well as continuing their children’s programs. They had over 2000 people come in during the month of July and almost 1900 in August. Mrs. Lambert said that she had received a very positive report from a citizen about the enhancement efforts and especially about the library. Mrs. Kilburn remarked that it was fitting that the group was sitting in the Kings Daughters Hall. “Some of our ancestors are jumping for joy about what we’re doing right now.” Without the Kings Daughters, who founded the library, so much of this would not be possible. Ms. Gadouas attested to the library’s efforts to bridge the generational gap, bringing together young people and seniors.
- Income/Expense Report – Molly (after this meeting Joel will take over as Sec./Treasurer)
Mrs. Lambert drew the attendees’ attention to the financial report, with restricted income, unrestricted income, the total expenses, and the total funds remaining ($10,629.76). Mr. Clark will be taking over as secretary/treasurer after this meeting per the elections that took place at the July organizational meeting. Mrs. Lavoie said that it would be nice if each individual task force had a line item with restricted income for each committee. Mrs. Lambert showed her where to find the monies allocated for the Notch Camp and Substance Abuse Committee. Mrs. Lavoie suggested that there could be an ongoing donation to the Swanton Beautification Committee, and Mr. Lavoie added that people like St. Marie’s could do something like “donate your bottle return money to SEP.” Mr. Clark added that a coin drop could easily bring in funds.
- 501(c)3 process report –
Elisabeth Nance was not present to report on the progress of this effort.
The Swanton Enhancement Project is looking at the process to achieve 501(c)3 status. She is going to consult with Judy Paxman to discuss how the Arts Council is proceeding with their 501(c)(3) application.
- Pay Pal Acct. for SEP
Mrs. Buczkowski said that there was no donate link for Swanton Enhancement Project, and it was easier to donate by computer via PayPal, which would open up donations to people out of state who wished to support Swanton. The Dam Ducky Derby tickets could be sold online that way. Mrs. Lavoie said that there should be an option for donation on the group Facebook page. Mr. Clark and Mrs. Buczkowski discussed the process by which ticket sales could work through internet purchase. Mrs. Buczkowski noted that there was a fee for using PayPal, though she felt it would pay for itself. Mr. Clark said he did not mind managing the donation piece, but was not ready to manage ticket sales and things like that. He would look at possibilities to collect donations.
- Set Date and Topic Ideas for Next Public Forum – Planning Comm.
Kathy Lavoie has included SEP as a partner in the October 19th forum on underage drinking.
- September 28 Public Forum on vandalism – Joel Clark
Mr. Clark said that he had been promoting the forum and credited Mr. Kilburn with bringing up the issue to both legislative bodies and suggesting the forum. The meeting is at the Village Complex at 6 p.m. on September 28th. The community needs to take action regarding vandalism and its root causes. All are encouraged to be present.
- Adjourn – Next Steering Committee November 16, 2016
5:30 – 7:00 pm Location TBD
Mr. Lavoie reminded that he and Miss Wheeler would often have Planning Commission meetings on the third Wednesdays of the month. All agreed that the time of the SEP meetings would remain at 5:30 p.m. to accommodate their schedule.
The meeting adjourned at 6:54 p.m.