The Mountain Times

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Rutland Blooms

GMP and city to plant millions of flowers citywide

RUTLAND - Rutland is about to go green - and red, yellow, pink and blue.

On Monday, April 7, Green Mountain Power and Mayor Chris Louras announced plans for a community beautification project that will include planting millions of flowers citywide. Almost 40 local organizations are already involved.

"This project is a perfect complement to the city's ongoing efforts to address quality-of-life issues and our economic development work," said Mary Powell, GMP's president and CEO.  "We want to highlight the community's incredible spirit and the beauty of the city, and add to that beauty in a fun, simple way that invites participation."

"This is one more step in efforts to improve the economic and social climate of the community," Mayor Chris Louras said Monday. "Its impact will be visible and symbolic. The outpouring of interest, even before today's announcement as GMP quietly began planning, has been extraordinary."

"Rutland Blooms," as the project will be known, was conceived by GMP's Energy Innovation Center. Lead partners include GMP, the city, WJJR, and Vermont Country Store. A wide range of organizations also plan to support or partner in the effort by promoting the effort to members and clients, developing gardens, giving away flowers, bulbs or seeds, or support the effort in other ways.

"As soon as we heard about Rutland Blooms, we wanted to get involved," said Bill Ackerman, head of retail at the Vermont Country Store. "As a Vermont company with deep roots, we see this as a perfect fit for our community development efforts. We appreciate Green Mountain Power leading this effort, and want to do all we can to support the effort to instill a little more pride in our beautiful community."

Steve Costello, GMP's vice president of generation and energy innovation, said the idea for Rutland Blooms came to him during a Rutland Police Commission meeting, as Chief James Baker was outlining efforts to address quality-of-life issues. "The city is proactively addressing its challenges, and it struck me that we should creatively support those efforts," Costello said.  "This complements the effort the city, GMP and others are already making to make Rutland the best place possible to live, work and raise a family."

Stafford students began removing dozens of shrubs, planted years ago, that are on Vermont's list of invasive species, from the city hall lawn Monday morning. They are also preparing a large flowerbed, adding fresh topsoil and removing grass where the new garden will be built.

The large new garden will include dozens of new flowering shrubs, perennials and annual flowers, and will be surrounded by early spring perennials, such as crocuses that will be planted on the lawn since they flower and die before mowing typically begins each spring. The garden is being designed by Karen Hill, a highly skilled gardener who also works for the Downtown Rutland Partnership.

"We'll provide a lot of support, flowers and seeds, though Rutland Blooms is intended as a grassroots community development project," Costello said. "As we are trying to do with the Solar Capital effort, we want to provide some intellectual and financial capital and inspire others to get involved for the good of the whole community."

Other businesses, clubs, teams and organizations interested in getting involved in Rutland Blooms should contact Chuck Piotrowski at the GMP Energy Innovation Center at 770-4088.