Rails to Trails out of Washington, D.C. is recruiting 20,000 people to pledge to walk and bike more this year and use their vehicle less this year. Horizons communities around the state have identified actions to address poverty in their community. Many have identified our cultural reliance upon personal vehicles as an impediment to thriving communities. There is little public transport in rural areas and safe-bike ways are forgotten. Rails-to-Trails is an organization that has addressed this concern positively around the country, including in some of the Horizons communities. Take the pledge to support the effort to reduce our reliance upon oil and to build healthier communities where people are at the center. Visit their website to take the pledge.
A “Vision Statement and Strategic Plan” was developed for Rutland using the collated input from the Study Circles, Community forums and other Horizon work during the year. The Vision Statement is shown below and future blog segments will address where we are in working on each of the goals and strategies.
GOAL 1: Volunteers will be the driving force in providing services and activities that would otherwise not be available in a community the size of Rutland. Those currently active in the community will invite and encourage individuals of all ages not currently active, to engage in leadership roles and will be open to the new ideas these new volunteers bring to the table.
|Appoint two (2) Volunteer Coordinators to coordinate service needs and match with volunteer interests, abilities and availability.||Horizons Steering Committee||June 1, 2008||Volunteer Coordinators appointed and services are coordinated with Seniors, the Senior Center, and volunteers to provide needed services.|
GOAL 2: Rutland will be a clean and inviting community in which to live and work
|“Clean Up/Help your Neighbor Day” will be held||Volunteer Coordinators; all able-bodied community members||September 30, 2008||Trees are trimmed, yards and debris cleaned up, minor repairs are made.|
|Remove or renovate substandard buildings||Building owners, City Council||January 2010||Buildings are improved or demolished|
|Repair and replace sidewalks||City, Property Owners||January 2009||Sidewalks are repaired or replaced on a regular cycle to ensure safe pathways for visitors, Seniors, youths|
|Establish a Renaissance Zone||City, Renaissance Zone Committee||January 2009||A Renaissance Zone is created for future development and funding possibilities|
|Install a “Welcome to Rutland Sign” or move burger to outskirts||City, Community Club||October 2008||Sign is installed near highway to draw passing motorists|
GOAL 3: Rutland’s economy will expand and diversify providing a thriving Main Street, while retaining existing business and services. Tourism will be a significant area for economic growth.
|Upgrade and maintain current commercial infrastructure||City, Business Owners||December 2008||Infrastructure improvement plan is developed and guidelines established for ongoing physical plant maintenance|
|Identify potential community amenities for a tourism publicity campaign||Horizons Advertising Committee||Spring 2008; ongoing||Publicity draws increased tourism|
|Explore possible niches and incentives for new business||Rutland CDC||Start in 2008; ongoing||Needed businesses and available incentives will be identified|
|Explore the feasibility for a new business “incubator”||City, private investors, Rutland CDC||December 2012||Incubator potential explored; report presented on pursuing project or identifying alternatives to draw new business|
|Develop an advertising program for needed services/businesses||Community Club, RCDC, Advertising Committee||June 2009||Targeted advertising program is developed and publicity appears in local, regional and national publications|
|Identify potential routes for a hiking/biking trail||Hiking/Biking Trail Committee||2010||Potential trail routes are identified along with possible funding sources|
|Identify potential funding sources for projects||City, Advertising Committee, Hiking/Biking Trail Committee||June 2008; ongoing||Funding sources are identified and applications submitted for various projects|
GOAL 4: Rutland will have appropriate housing and services for disabled and elderly with the goal of keeping that population in the community.
|Provide improved handicap accessibility in current apartments||Housing Association, Horizons Housing Group||2017||Current apartments are handicap accessible.|
|Build housing specifically for elderly and disabled||Rutland Housing Authority, Rutland Housing Inc., Private investors||2017||One- level housing has been built with walk-in showers, lever door handles and other handicap appropriate devices.|
|Provide improved mobility for seniors||Volunteer Coordinators, Senior Center, Community Club||Increased mobility is provided through volunteer efforts or through existing services such as Sargent County Health Services|
|Identify potential funding sources for projects||Horizons Housing Group, Rutland Housing Authority||June 2008; ongoing||Funding sources are identified and applications submitted for various projects|
GOAL 5: Rutland will provide a recreational program addressing the social, educational and cultural needs of all age groups.
|Develop a recreational program for the entire community||Park Board, Rec/Community Center Committee, Community Club||Immediately; ongoing||Activities are regularly occurring in the community for all age groups.|
|Provide better management oversight and fuller use of existing infrastructure||Facility owners, Community Club, Park Board, City||December 31, 2008||Existing infrastructure is available and utilized more for community needs and services|
|A multi-use building will be available for recreational and educational purposes.||Facility owners, Community Club, Park Board||2015||A multi-use building is available – either through existing or new|
|Identify potential funding sources for projects||Park Board, Rec/Community Center Committee, Community Club, City||Funding sources are identified and applications submitted for various projects|
Take a hike is exactly what I did early Thursday evening. Along with Mark Wyum and Larry Christensen I hiked from the Rutland General Store and followed the existing railroad track for another two miles south of town (we made the trek in less than an hour). Mark is chair of our Hiking/Biking Trails committee to explore options for a route out to Silver Lake. The railroad track, owned by the State of South Dakota, is operated by the Dakota Missouri Valley and Western Railroad. It is one option for a hiking trail. This one provides a challenge with the sloughs in the area as well as the narrow bridge spanning the Wild Rice. I think I got a neck ache since I had to look down at every step and got a break only when I stopped to snap a few photos of the route we took.
Last Sunday, Mark Wyum, Peder Gulleson and Deborah Banish attended a meeting in Lisbon on the North Country National Scenic Trail which starts in NY and presently ends in ND. They are attempting to form a local chapter to help expand the trail through the State. We made new contacts and received information on establishing and maintaining trails, working with landowners and the railroads, obtaining easements, and learning of potential grant funding sources for our future trail. The Rutland Trails Committee will review the information when it meets sometime in April.
Mark Wyum rode around the country with Jesse Hanson one nice afternoon just like in high school. Only this time Mark needed Jesse’s professional opinion on how to get a hiking/biking trail from Rutland out to Silver Lake, five miles southwest of town. Jesse is the Assistant Director of Parks so has a little bit of knowledge on the subject. There is some promise but they’ll go out again when the snow is gone, relive memories of their youth and see if that promise for a future trail can be fulfilled.