By Steve Costello
When the idea for Rutland Blooms first blossomed, we never could have dreamed of what it would become or the impact it would have in the City of Rutland. Its success is emblematic of the larger story of Rutland’s rebirth, born of unprecedented collaboration.
Starting with the restoration of the Paramount Theatre 16 years ago and continuing with the resurgence of Downtown Rutland, the Solar Capital initiative, the investments of Castleton University and the refocusing of Rutland Economic Development Corp., teamwork has been the first ingredient in Rutland’s ongoing revitalization. From the Gift-of-Life Marathon to the response to major crises, Rutlanders have banded together time and time again to take on big challenges.
And so it is with Rutland Blooms. Dozens of businesses, organizations and individuals have stepped forward to provide leadership, money, labor, expertise and inspiration–and the results are growing exponentially.
Flowerboxes grace the new “Welcome to Rutland” signs at key city entrances. Hundreds of flowering crabapple trees are adding new life and beauty to city gateways, the Northwest Neighborhood and city streets in general. Main Street Park is lined with new maples, and the new Baxter Street Park is ringed with newly planted gorgeous, mature flowering trees. And the largest project yet, including major plantings along Strongs Avenue, is just weeks from commencing.
These projects are improving the cityscape, demonstrating a commitment to civic pride and beauty, and bringing together people and organizations from all walks of life for the common good. They include:
- City Forester Dave Schneider, whose expertise, creativity, planning and work ethic are at the heart of Rutland Blooms’ success.
- Linda Miller and dozens of GE Aviation coworkers, who volunteer hundreds of man-hours each year and provide substantial financial support.
- Castleton University, which stepped forward as a key financial partner with Green Mountain Power and connects students with Blooms efforts.
- Nanci Gordon and The United Way of Rutland County, which provides back-office support, including invoice payment, banking, etc.
- Garden Time and Pratico’s Landscaping and Fence Company, among the most giving, caring local businesses imaginable, which have repeatedly provided free labor, plants, soil, expertise and goodwill.
- Asplundh Tree Experts, New England Trees and Vaillancourt Tree Service, who have provided substantial financial and technical assistance.
- Bonnie O’Rourke, who solicits volunteers, plans work parties, focuses on job-site safety, and ensures required resources are onsite for every project.
The following businesses and people have also provided additional, significant financial support that makes Rutland Blooms possible: The Bakery/Roots; Casella’s Waste Management; Engineering Services of Vermont; Enman-Kesselring Engineering; Greenscreen Graphics; Heritage Family Credit Union; John and Paula Valente; Keyser Energy; Laurie Mecier-Brochu; Marble Valley Transit Authority; Mark Foley, Jr.; Mary Powell and Mark Brooks; Omya; Rich Carlson; Rutland Redevelopment Authority; Rutland Regional Medical Center; and VELCO.
Rutland is blessed to be home to caring and generous people who take great pride in the city and support Rutland Blooms. Thanks to their generosity, we envision continued growth in Blooms’ efforts in the years ahead, focused on making Rutland an ever more beautiful place to live, work and play.
Steve Costello is a Green Mountain Power vice president and organizer of Rutland Blooms.