Rutland’s journey with the Horizon Program began when seven people attended the Horizon Showcase in Wahpeton. That seven multiplied to include nearly the entire Rutland community involved in some aspect of Horizon.
Study Circles, LeadershipPlenty and community forums provided opportunities for residents to express concerns. It also forced Rutland residents to identify the community’s key assets and determine how we could harness those assets to make Rutland a better community for everyone. There is now a better attitude about Rutland’s future. People are thinking more about “What else can we do?” instead of waiting for the inevitable death of a once vital community. We have become more proactive, rather than simply being reactive.
From the Study Circles, LeadershipPlenty and community forums came four action plans that were voted on by the community. Those plans include developing an advertising program and strategy, organizing a community recreation program, determining housing needs and establishing a hiking/biking trail from Rutland to Silver Lake. The committees for these plans have met and are working on ways to implement these plans.
The Horizon Program has definitely made more residents aware of the lack of handicap accessibility in local apartment buildings, it has made organizations more aggressive in fund raising efforts to obtain needed equipment and services and perhaps, most importantly, has gotten more people involved in city government and interested in running for election.
Partnering has been an important lesson learned from the Horizon Program. It has helped organizations pool their resources instead of trying to keep others from getting any of the pot. It wasn’t always easy, but it is happening. An example is the opening of the Fitness Center in the American Legion building. Legion members were not completely supportive of this arrangement, but they have discovered that it has been a good decision. The Fitness Center has made improvements to the facility and is paying the utilities for the building. The Fitness Center is being used by males and females from ages 15 to 85. Some of the members participate in the aerobics classes held twice a week in City Hall, sponsored by the Rutland Fitness Center.
Another partnership is the Senior Citizen Center with the Community Club. Each Sunday, the Community Club sponsors Bingo in the Senior Citizen Center. The rent that the Community Club pays for the use of the building has helped the Senior Citizens with their expenses. Youth are involved in calling Bingo and helping to sell pop and snacks. Bingo players range from 3 to 83 with a good turnout each week.
Residents seemed to have little if no interest in the city government operations and it was something that they had no control over prior to Horizon. We now have more people going to City Council meetings and we have new people who are willing to serve in an office. It will be interesting to see the June election results where the incumbents will actually have people running against them – something that has not occurred for nearly a century.
A new Rutland Comprehensive Plan and a new zoning ordinance have been created as a result of more people being involved in guiding the future of the City. A new Zoning Board was appointed and they met with the Housing Committee and the Renaissance Zone Committee to update the two items. The City Council adopted the new Ordinance and the Comprehensive Plan which will serve as the basis for Rutland ’s Renaissance Zone application. The community is excited about the possibilities for the future of Rutland with the establishment of the Renaissance Zone.
Rutland has had several young men become involved in the Rutland/Cayuga Fire Department. They have energized that organization to become a better equipped department by soliciting grant funds and spearheading fundraisers, such as an Easter brunch that drew 250 people.
The resurgence of Fun Night has given everyone in the community something to look forward to after the busyness of harvest. New people involved in planning Santa Day expanded it from a day only for children to involve activities for people of all ages.
A young couple who enjoy dancing began Dance Night at the city hall the first and third Sundays of the month. A variety of CD music provides waltzes, polkas, two steps and jitterbugging. For two dollars a person, dance lovers can trip the light fantastic for a couple of hours.
The Horizon Program has definitely been a positive experience for Rutland. It has been a catalyst for people to dare to try new things, to become more involved, and, most importantly, to believe that Rutland can once again be a vibrant community. The foundation has been laid and is ready for the building.